Unpacking

After the “big push” over the weekend to get all of our stuff into the house, we are now left with the reality of opening what seems like an endless amount of boxes. Forcing yourself to open one more box and then you will quit has become our mantra. To add to the stuff that we have already brought into the house, last night we made our first trip to the grocery store. Having been a regular shoppers at Aldies and Meyer in Cincinnati, we are now having to become Kroger shoppers because it is the closest store to the house. We proceeded to walk up and down every isle in the store because we did not know where anything was! Perhaps the coolest part of the evening was pulling into our own garage and unloading our food without having to clime two or more flights of stairs. After making a couple of adjustments, we were able to pull both cars in the garage last night and I took a picture.

It is still very surreal that we own our own home but I am amazed at the little things that I am finding delight in. Renting and not owning for a long time makes you feel all the more blessed when you finally do buy a home. So its back to unpacking boxes tonight after work….”honey have you seen that one box?” lol!

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Who’s to Blame?

Boy do we humans love the blame game! As I have been reflecting back on our dealings with the wife’s new employer and our mortgage company is it easy to say that it was “so and so’s” fault. This past weekend as we set up Velocity for the first time in our temporary home at Baggett we could have played that game as well and we may have to some extent as we struggled to overcome the time constraints that were upon us.

As a husband I often find it easier to blame my wife for things that take responsibility for my own actions! That last sentence hurt a bit but it is the truth. Our culture has become very good at blaming others for our mistakes and shortcomings.

In my reading this morning, I read this from the book of Job.

Job 1:22

“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

If you remember the story of Job; he was a righteous man who God allowed to be tested to prove to Satan that he was a man of integrity and would not curse God under direst. In a matter of moments Job had his family and all of his possesions taken away from him and his response,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart. [c]
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”

if there ever was someone who deserved to complain a bit it was Job but instead he praised God.

I believe that there is a great lesson to be learned in this…take responsibility for yourself and do not blame others for what is happening to you! Despite the inconvenience of living out of a suitcase for a couple of weeks down here,  the wife and I are far better off than most people in the world. The reality is that there is really no one to blame for what happened! Now I could easily find someone to blame and cast my ire upon but is it really worth it? Sure I will feel better, but the situation will not be any different.

So here are my words to live by for today, “don’t play the blame game!” Take a long look at yourself first, praise God for his blessings, and pray for the strength for the test that lies ahead because it is coming. God deals with us according to His sovereignty, how we react to him demonstrates our commitment, maturity, and attitude.

Praise be to God who has given me so much and has allowed me to be here in Douglasville to serve his church! The blessing of becoming a homeowner is almost upon me. I pray that I might be a good steward of what you have given to me. Amen.

Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1:6-9

“6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Yesterday, Paul and I attended a luncheon of local Douglasville preachers and ministers. A local pastor who served as our host read this passage of scripture from Joshua as a devotional thought to us. I was mediating on this verse this morning and I believe that these words have significance for the leaders of Velocity.

Planting a church is one of the most difficult things to do in ministry. In the same ways that God told Joshua to be “strong and courageous” because the task of leading the people of God into the promise land would be very difficult so it will be for us. I see three keys in this passage:

1)It will take strength and courage if we are to be successful in establishing a church that is concerned about the lost and is outwardly focused. Courage to try something new and out of the ordinary and strength to stick to our convictions and values when we are criticized and challenged.

2) It will force us to “keep the book of the law on our lips; mediating upon it.” Reading and mediating upon scripture is a learned activity and does not come easy. As leaders we must train ourselves to spend time each day connecting with God. I can think of no greater weapon than the Word of God.

3) It will require God to go ahead of us as he did with Joshua. He has already has! Why do we continue to doubt that he is the God who does not go back on his word? Lord I pray that he would increase my faith so that I can pray with confidence that he has given to me all that I ask and require. He has also promised to go with us and tonight at 7pm we will gather as a team to walk and to pray that God will continue to go ahead and with us as we plant Velocity Church. Amen!

Church in a Trailer

On Saturday morning, we gathered as a team for the first time to pack all of our “stuff” into a 24′ Budget Truck for the trip to Baggett Elementary. Upon arriving, the controlled chaos of unpacking things from boxes for the first time in sued. In the end, we ran out of time before everything was set up exactly as we had liked but we were able to come back on Sunday morning and worship together. God is good and I know that he was pleased with our effort and our heartfelt worship of him yesterday.  I am so proud of our team who came together and worked very hard to get everything set up. We learned many lesson yesterday, but the greatest lesson of all that we learned is that the “church” is not a building or the stuff that is in the building, but the people of God coming together in a common purpose of bringing honor and glory to Jesus. May God receive all the glory for what we are doing in our efforts to reach the unchurched of our area and may God gather those whom he wishes to call Velocity Church as we begin this new work. Amen.

Triming the Fat

I am not sure if we have either been inspired by the cut and toned bodies of the Olympians that we are watching on our TV’s at night or by the fact that we are getting kinda squishy in the middle, but the wife and I have joined Gold’s Gym here in town. I can’t promise that we will look like this guy but we will hopefully look and feel better about ourselves.

Insights from Nehemiah

As I continue in my reading from the book of Nehemiah, I am struck by a number of things that I read. These include these passages:

“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” – Nehemiah 8:2,3

“Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” – Nehemiah 8:5,6

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.” – Nehemiah 8:9

  • In these passages we see the people of God showing respect, awe, and reverence for scripture in a way that we have lost today. The people were crying when the word of God was read to them! When was the last time that you or I cried when we read God’s word? Notice how Ezra spend the greater part of a whole day reading the scriptures aloud to the people. We often have a hard time reading our Bible’s for five minutes let alone half a day! The people of God in Nehemiah’s time shame us in their there respect and attitude toward the word of God. I pray that I might posses the same approach to God’s word as these people

And one additional insight from Nehemiah:

1 On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. 2 Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. 3 They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God. – Nehemiah 9:1-3

  • Notice here again the role of scripture but also the elements of worship and of confession. We don’t talk much about confession in the modern church much. Perhaps we are trying to distance ourselves from our Catholic brethren who require it as apart of their tradition and theology. Perhaps we believe that since we are living under grace we do not need to confess our sins. I John says that “if we confess our sins that he is faithful to forgive us.” I believe that is the ideal we are to strive for as followers of Jesus who also taught and spoke to us about confession.
  • Worship was such apart of everything that they did in the Old Testament and we have reduced to the hour an a half that we gather together on Sunday morning! Our lives are to be lived in worship and the people of God that we read about in Nehemiah remind and challenge us to live this way.

I thank God for books like Nehemiah who remind us of what is truly important in our guest to be more like Jesus!

That’s Quoteable – Seth Godin

We use technology to insulate us from our customers instead of bringing us closer.” – Seth Godin

How true this is! Another spin on this would be that we use technology to insulate ourselves from people. Now I am not saying that technology is not a wonderful thing and that it can not be used to bring us closer together (it can) but often it isolates us from others. I was apart of a conversation the other day in which on person said that they now text more than they talk. This in my mind is a perfect example of what Seth is saying. Instead of talking on the phone we are insulating ourselves by texting so that we do not have to carry on a real conversation.

Here is one more point to chew on….is the church guilt of this? If I had to take a long hard look at myself and the church I would have to confess that yes we sometimes do. Is it easier to send am email to someone in your church than pick up the phone to talk or stop by and pay a visit. Maybe it is not technology that is isolating us in the church but programs. Of of the pitfalls of the “mall church mentality” is that we have forced people to be “so busy” at church that are isolating themselves from others and from the unchurched.

In my quiet time, I am currently reading through the Bible and my Old Testament reading is coming out of the book of Nehemiah. Before the invention of modern technology, here was a leader in the person of Nehemiah how never let “things” get in the way of being a leader and someone who connects with people. I pray that I can be that kind of leader who does not “stuff” distract me from the focus of ministry which is people.