Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's Next?

The pace never seems to slow down.  That is pretty typical of ministry-typical for a lot of life.  That doesn't mean that it is all bad, but it does mean that there are opportunities for distraction.  Distractions many times will keep us away from our true purpose and cause us to focus our energies in a lesser cause.  I see Satan trying to do that now. 

There is a great need for a revival here-especially within our youth-and that is the last thing that Satan wants to see.  He is going to do whatever he can do disrupt relationships, cause dissension, create stress, and increase doubt.  None of this decreases the power of God however.  None of that punk's work can take away from God's great plan. 

I know that big things are on the horizon-not because of our human abilities, but because the Holy Spirit is able to do all things.  I am praying and begging God for the souls of people & for those that have accepted the truth to have a fire ignited within them that will not go out.  We do not want to lose our focus on God and His power.  We do not want to lose sight of God's leading and His pathway for the church here.

Father, hear our prayers.  Bring revival to your people.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we may become more like You.

"The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  But I have come that you might have life and have it to the full."  John 10:10

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Glimpse of Heaven

The old (somewhat cliche) story is that when you get to heaven you will see the people that you influenced while you were here on earth.  It is difficult to see the positive impact that you might be having when you are in the middle of that life.  My family was blessed last week to gain a small glimpse into that truth as we visited Florida.

As we left Ormond Beach this past September we did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to our friends & family in the church-some of whom we had been investing in for almost 14 years.  The parting was certainly difficult for my family and it was not easy for those close to us as well.

When we discovered that we would be heading back to Florida for a wedding, we knew that we needed to set a time to connect with people in Ormond.  Our friends were gracious enough to open their home for us and we quickly spread the word that we would be there last Thursday.  What transpired that night is firmly etched in my mind and will always be one of the most special days of my life. 

Starting at 6 p.m. a crew of people started coming in and the crowd did not die down until 9:30.  I am sure that I must have given out close to 300 hugs and shared countless moments of joy in that living room.  I hear that the cars were parked up & down the entire street and that a line led out of the house, down the front stairs, and down the driveway at one point.  There were tears mixed with laughter, pats on the back, kisses, bear hugs, words of encouragement and pictures with red-eyed youth.  The night was overwhelming and yet healing at the same time-definitely for us and hopefully for many others.

My family and I are blessed to have such a great group of family & friends in Georgia and in Florida.  One man does not deserve all the love that I have found in my life.  I don't know that I will ever be able to put into words all of the emotions of last week, but I do know that if heaven is anything like the love that we experienced in that home, I can't wait to get there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


What a week it has been.  I am overdue on my Sunday reflections, but will blame it on the lack of internet in my hotel in Miami that night.  Not sure that I can get all of my thoughts in a somewhat brief blog-some will need further fleshing out in subsequent postings-but we'll give it a whirl.

  • I don't like to drive long distances-I get bored in the car-but we managed to drive from Milledgeville to Ormond, Ormond to Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce to Miami and then back in five days.
  • I was excited to get to see old friends/family in Ormond Beach last week-there was a hug-fest on Thursday night that lasted for 3 1/2 hours and did our hearts so much good.  I hope it was as good for others.
  • I'm not too old to sit up until 3 a.m. talking with a friend.  I might be too old to be on top of my game 4 hours later unless there is good coffee.
  • Brought the whole family by Mainland High School on our way out of town-what great friends & family are there that have loved us for a long time.  I miss them always.
  • Dana & I were blessed to be at the wedding of my oldest friend-Paul & I have known each other since elementary school and were roommates in college too.  He is so obviously happy and we think Lesley is an incredible woman.  They are truly a blessed couple!
  • Hanging with one of my college friends & his wife the night before the wedding was a great blast! It's been too long & distance (he is in Texas) makes it hard to do often.
  • I am thankful for good friends on staff here at Northridge that are talented and able to carry on so that I can get a weekend away.  Matthew Orr & Mike Waers would be a blessing to any church, but selfishly we are glad they are part of our team here!
  • Monday afternoon was simple-spending some time with my mom, sister, nephew, brother & our family by the pool was a great time.  I miss them & wish we could see each other more often.
  • We're back at it in Georgia, but this past week has certainly shown us how loved we are!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Reflections in the Cold

Wow! What an incredible day at Northridge! My prayer is that God continues this great work and it spreads throughout all of His churches!

  • Turkey Bowl was a blast yesterday-a blast of arctic air! 18 degrees at the start!
  • What an incredible blessing today as we saw 703 people in worship!
  • We had 3 scheduled baptisms today, but also saw 2 more people choose to join them
  • Also had another couple parter with us after Discover Northridge
  • A God-focused life doesn't happen accidentally!
  • No Spectators!
  • Started The Well tonight-new high school worship experience for high school and saw 36 people come to start our January series, "New & Improved"
  • Looking forward to "Awakening" coming this Wednesday night for middle school-praying for God to fill the room.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Reflections

  • Celebrating New Year in Georgia is also a new first for us-had an awesome low country boil meal at new friends' home
  • The visits of Florida friends never gets old! It was a blessing to spend some extended time with the Lather family-love & miss them very much
  • We are truly digging the cold weather here-not used to this extended cool weather, but you can't beat the fire rolling in the fireplace on a regular basis
  • I am truly blessed with three incredible daughters and a beautiful wife and I want to remind them every day of how much they mean to me
  • The people at Northridge are truly family to us now and I am reminded each week of how much we mean to them and how important they are to us in return
  • The future here in Milledgeville is so bright-we are praying hard for God to do more than we could ask or imagine this year-looking for 100 baptisms!
  • Mike's challenge to serve today was tough & a blessing to hear-if you aren't willing to serve then we don't need you here!
  • He also challenged believers by asking if they thought the church was a luxury liner that we got to sit on and eat fine foods while people were drowing all around us
  • I am thrilled with Craig & Brandi Sheppard & Chad Phillips and their dedication to teaching middle & high school Bible study each week-what great hearts and passion for the youth!
  • Can't wait for The Well next week! Starting on Sunday night from 5-7 for high school!
  • Also can't wait for Awakening for middle school on Wednesday, Jan. 13th!
  • Praying for Joe Putting & his family-my brother in Christ was diagnosed with leukemia this week-looking for God to do a great miracle.

Quotables Day 5

With a one day pause in blogging due to great friends from Florida visiting, we are back.

"If I had 300 men who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and were determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, I would set the world on fire."

-John Wesley

When I think about the number of people that are not Christ-followers it can be a bit overwhelming.  There are approximately 24,000 people here in Milledgeville.  As Mike and I talked a few months ago he estimated that 20% of the people in our area are actually churched.  That leaves around 19,000 people that are not currently being reached for Christ-and that doesn't include the population in the close surrounding areas. The normal weekend here at Northridge has between 600-650 people.  The task of reaching out and sharing the truth that matters can be daunting in the face of those numbers. 

We are talking about workers for the harvest today at Northridge and challenging people to beat the 80/20 principle of serving (20% of the people doing 80% of the work.)  It is a statement, such as one made by John Wesley, that inspires me and lets me know that our efforts in the pursuit of God's glory can have a great impact. 

I have seen what happens when people are passionate about God's purpose in their lives and committed fully to reaching others.  I have been fortunate to be a part of churches that understood that principle and grew by leaps and bounds.  I have watched as teens became intensely focused on reaching their peers and as a result had youth ministries double, triple & quadruple.  I have seen parents pulling up on a weekend or midweek with a van full of youth & children-most of them not their own-bringing them to expose them to God's love.  I have cheered as parents have baptized their children, children have baptized their parents, and friends have baptized each other.

The question isn't whether our passion for God will be fruitful.  It is a question of whether we will fully throw ourselves into a pursuit of Him for our sake and the souls of those around us.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Quotables Day 4

"The great thing in life is not so much where you stand, but in what direction you are moving."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

The start of a new year brings about the requisite list of resolutions, a look back at the year that was, and an increased focus on bettering yourself.  I think it is safe to say that we all have things we want to improve in ourselves (if not I would challenge your honesty) and that the new year can be an impetus to work at those changes.  The discouragement comes when we don't see the results as quickly as we had hoped or when we realize that our actual resolutions have been the same for the past five years.  It has taken me several years to get to a point where I didn't allow the vision of who I could & should be to overwhelm the current reality of who I am at this moment.

I've shared with youth for several years now that God will meet you exactly where you are at, but He won't leave you there.  My point is that even though you may have convinced yourself that you are "too far gone", that God doesn't believe so.  However, when you are truly striving to be a committed follower, He moves you down a pathway that leads to you resembling Him more as you strive each day. 

In my mind that is the point that Sir Holmes is trying to make.  As long as we live here we are a work in progress.  The key is to be moving in a direction that leads to us becoming the men & women that God has created us to be.