Saturday, January 31, 2009

Joey Update Vol. 8

Great story from Joey about how he is allowing God to use him and encouragement to us to not miss those simple opportunities.

I only saw him out of the corner of my eye. I was back in the big market of
NDJ and was headed home. He was sitting by the side of the road, as so many
others and that's when I saw him and something told me to go back. I took
the advice.

He was sitting because he couldn't stand. He hadn't reached out to me
because he couldn't move his arms- they were shrivelled and twisted around
him. He did not call to me because he could not speak very well.

I crouched beside him and got an idea. I removed one of the bananas I had
just bought from it's black plastic bag. I saw his hands folded, so I began
to peel it for him. I handed the banana to him expecting him to take it.
That's when I noticed his arms would not move from their position around
him. Another idea. I would be his hands for him.

He took a big bite and chewed it only a few times before swallowing. I asked
him his name. "Adam," he said. It was the only word he spoke to me. After he
spoke it, I concluded his mouth must be empty. I held the banana to his
lips. Another big bite. Based on how fast he was eating, I thought he'd
probably not eaten much for a while.

With each bite, he had a look in his eye, I noticed, like he expected me to
suddenly take the rest of the banana with me and leave. But I dropped the
last bite of it into his mouth. Then, I prayed for my new friend Adam right
there in Ar.

Maybe I will see him again and maybe I won't. But maybe Adam will not forget
it. I know I will not.

Matthew 25:35-40

*Father, forgive me for missing so man opportunities in my life to feed You
when You were hungry. But thank You for today's opportunity. In those few
moments with Adam, I was changed.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Funny or Not? Vol. 13


No one commented on these the first time, and I think they are worthy of at least ONE comment, so we are trying again!!!

Do Hard Things Challenge 3

Too many people have wasted the teen years, presuming upon God's grace for the future, expecting him to rescue them out of the cycle of partying, apathy and complacency that permeate the teen/"adolescent" culture of America. This is not the way that God wants us to live!

Here are two quotes (from the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris) the share the importance of what we do now as a training ground and springboard for how God may use you later in life.

"What each of us will become later in life largely depends on what we become now.” (P48)

“Is how we’re spending our time right now preparing us for what we hope to become in the future? Are we doing things now that will equip us for the greater things God may have for us to do?” (P56)

So, how should we be living these teen years to make sure that we are not wasting them, presuming upon God’s grace, and preparing for what God has for us in the future? What is the Better Way?

Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 to live life in these four ways, and to do it NOW!

1. Live like you want the best. (v24)
2. Live with purpose...NOW! (v25)
3. Live with discipline...NOW! (v27)
4. Live with integrity...NOW! (v27)

You have an opportunity now that you will not have forever
Proverbs 20:29 tells us "The glory of young men is their strength."

Right now, in these teen years, you are strong, resilient, single, influential. Will you use it or will you waste it?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Do Hard Things Challenge 2

It's really easy to choose to not do more. Our own laziness, our selfishness, our "busyness" and the low expectations of others leads many of us to waste the unique years we are living in right now.

The "teen" years are unique in that they provide great opportunity, great resources, and great potential, yet most of those years are wasted because the culture around us expects you to only consume during these years and not contribute.

God expects differently from you, however.

God expects you to:

1. Be Deeply Rooted (Psalm 144:12)
2. Be Strong (Psalm 144:12)
3. Be Needed (Psalm 144:12)
4. Look Different (Romans 12:2)
5. Mature in Communication (1 Corinthians 13:11)
6. Mature in Understanding (1 Corinthians 13:11)
7. Mature in Reasoning (1 Corinthians 13:11)
8. Think instead of Experience (1 Corinthians 14:20)
9. Rise Above Low Expectations (1 Timothy 4:12)
10. Set the Example (1 Timothy 4:12)

So, don't waste these years just because are labeled or identified as one who will. Live up to God's unchanging expectations for you!

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 5

From How People Change by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp

As I face crucial spiritual struggles in my life and see where I still need to change, what is my hope? The writer of Hebrews [4:14-5:10] points to six things:

1. God is not surprised by my struggle. he already sees the whole problem. He will never be shocked or caught off guard. this is precisely why he sent Christ to earth.

2. The Bible is for people just like you and me. When the writer says that Christ was tempted "in every way, just as we are" (Heb. 4:15), he is reminding me that the Bible speaks to ordinary people with all the familiar struggles of faith and character.

3. Christ enters into my struggle. he has been there. he faced the full range of temptations I do. he knows what it is like to face them.

4. Christ will help. I can be confident that I am not alone in my struggles. Jesus gives mercy and grace appropriate to my need just when I need it.

5. Christ pleads my case to the Father. In all of my struggles I have an advocate. He pleads to the Father on my behalf until I have been fully delivered from every temptation!

6. I can come to God with confidence. I do not have to clean myself up or minimize my struggles. I can come as I am and receive what I need. In my times of struggle, I do not have to run from the Lord. I can run to him to receive what he alone can give.

Real hope is not rooted in my performance, my maturity, my theological knowledge, or my personal perfection. It is not rooted in the quality of my character, my reputation, or my success in ministry. My hope is Christ! He is in my life forever, looking on me with tenderness and compassion. he will progressively transform me until the job is complete. That is the hope that helps us to persevere with the Thorns in our lives.

How People Change. Timothy S. Land & Paul David Tripp. 2006 and 2008 New Growth Press. Page 120. (Emphasis mine).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Do Hard Things Challenge 1 we are a couple of weeks into our "Do Hard Things" study and you have already been challenged to do a few things. Thank you for ministering to your friends and family as God has led.

Remember to be INTENTIONAL about this ministry. As you are intentional about when and whom you serve the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to more "spontaneous ministry" opportunities with the people around you.

This week, check your list and pick at least one person to minister to. If you have not yet made a list, grab a piece of paper and write down the names of the people you know. Then write down at least one way you can minister to each individual. (ex: mom-help her by folding the towels without being asked this week. Jeremy-ask him how his grandpa is doing and how I can pray for him)

The simple and practical ministry you extend to your friends and family can go a long way to expressing to them the Truth of who Jesus is and why you serve him. intentional about this...know how and when you are going to minister to the people on your list before you do it!

Take to heart Christie's challenge to go ahead and "Go All In" with this study from the beginning, allowing God to use you in incredible ways even today!

Read chapter 3 for next week and begin to dream about what Hard Things God may have for YOU to and in the future. When God is behind it and the Holy Spirit is your helper, nothing is too big!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Funny or Not? Vol. 12

Saw this sign on 15N headed to Richmond. Sometimes wording on signs is unfortunate, but in this case it's just funny...and I must say, a relief...because Bacon is SOOOOOOO good!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 4

From How People Change by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp

Just as difficulties are to be experienced through our union to Christ, so, too, are good circumstances. They can be as much of a liability as difficulties. When things are going well, we can think we are more favored by God than those who suffer. We can get self-righteous and critical of others as well. God knew the temptation of blessings when he gave Israel a land overflowing with good things. he reminded them not to forget him as they entered the Promised Land:

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery...

You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this welth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you wills urely be destoyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed fo rnot obeying the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 8:10-20)

It is tempting to forget God and to grow proud and independent in times of difficulty and blessing. But remembering your union with Christ reminds you that any good thing in yoru life is the result of his mercy and grace, not your own wisdom, goodness, and effort. Any effort we put into our lives began with the strength he gives us and continues because he is committed to us forever!

How People Change. Timothy S. Land & Paul David Tripp. 2006 and 2008 New Growth Press. Page 60.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lesson from a Horseback Ride

Here is a note from Joey about one of his recent adventures and what God taught him through it.

A few weeks ago, I went on my very first horse ride. I’ve never really ridden a horse (only sat on one before with a kid leading the horse with a rope in front me) and so it was something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Anyway, I get on my horse and he seems reluctant to catch up with my two friends. So, the owners of all the horses, walking along behind us, give me a length of rope and tell me to slap the flanks of Mizan with it. Mizan, happens to be the name of my horse and when asked what it means in Ar., they tell me it means “balance”.

So, I take the rope gladly and give it a try. Mizan actually gives a burst of speed and I am now only 561 steps behind my friends. Still, it was a burst in the right direction. Each time I flick the rope past Mizan’s field of view, he straightens up and walks more diligently. After a bit, I do indeed catch up with my friends and we all get into a rhythm and go together.

While languishing behind the others I was saying things like: “Ach, I wanted this first horse trip to be a good one. Here I am with a slow horse. You know what, I bet this horse is just going slow for me; I’ll bet he could really book if he wanted to.” While mumbling thusly between myself, Mizan and God, I had this wish pop into my thoughts: “I wish I could see what this horse was like if he was opened up at full clip.” Well, Mizan may not have been listening at that point, but God certainly was.

I prayed before we went riding that my first horse trip would be good and even that God would teach me a good lesson and that I would learn it. Well, on the way back from our 6 km ride, I wanted to see just how fast Mizan could go. I laid the rope to his flanks and then again the burst of speed. Not good enough I said, Faster! Yaa! Again, the rope. I stood up a bit on the stirrups and something, perhaps not having my weight on his spine, caused Mizan to do the most unusual thing: He bolted. Now, when I say he bolted, I mean he BOLTED. So, here it was, Mizan opened up to full clip. And there I was, caught up in a frenzied energy of trying not to fall down and break my crown.

I pulled back on the bridle (there was no bit between Mizan’s teeth came to find out) and what that did was straighten his head a little bit. Needless to say, my shouting at him in Ar. (Agif! Agif! –guess what that means you guys) and my tugging on his rope did nothing to stop him. He had unstoppable horse energy. Maybe he was saving it up after walking the whole way so slowly or maybe it was his sweet revenge for my use of the rope. But I think it was simply that God heard my unvoiced desire to experience something unstoppable. I was in fact thinking two things right then: 1) “I should probably start looking for a nice soft patch of scrubbly plants to fall into, should the need arise.” And 2) “Thank you God for this.” It should be noted, that never, even with the possibility of falling from Mizan’s back at his furious tilt, never was I in fear for my life.

You see, God was with me in the Unstoppable and He opened my eyes to His presence there. I know only one other time in my life when I experienced the Unstoppable like this: I was in the midst of a breaker at Ocean City. I remember I tumbled upside down in that wave. Well, I did not tumble upside down this time and I did not fall. That’s right, just when I was resigning my first trip on horseback to a first fall from horseback, Mizan just stopped. Nothing that I said or did made it happen. God must’ve had the ear of Mizan better than I did, because he just slowed down and didn’t seem the least bit tired by his run.

After a calming of the nerves and a rubbing of those sore places, there it came. Quietly, almost imperceptibly, but there it was: My lesson. I reflected back over the last few moments and thought, that’s how I want to live my life with God. Opened up at full clip, near powerless to do anything but hold on. Never the fear of dying and only the glory of what was happening. It was one of those rare times I was blessed to be a part of.

I pray you all may live your lives on horseback with God. Mizan will bear you if you do. Indeed, it will be the Balance between those slow humdrum times, you all the while knowing life has more to give than this, and those other times, those times of breakneck frenzy and the wild Unstoppable. Opened up at full clip- with never the fear of falling.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fireproof Movie Event

January 11
Show Times: 3:00 and 6:00
Fine Arts Center, Clarksville

Invite your friends and tell them to bring their families!

Plan on coming to help hand out info, set up and clean up!

(Preview this Sunday for WECC families!)

From Hearers to Doers: A Challenge for 2009

We spent much of 2008 talking about what the church is supposed to be. We called this "edifimunity": edifying the community of believers. In 2009 we will not be specifically focusing on teaching edifimunity or teaching about the church, but we still need to remember it.

A lot of times it is easier to talk about something than actually doing it. This can happen when it comes to BEING the church, not just talking about it. In 2009 your challenge is to Do Hard Things.

This year we are going to take the challenge to be DOERS of the word and not just hearers only. (See James 1:22-25).

In 2009 I will challenge you to make some tough decisions about your priorities and choose the hard things instead of always the easy way. Some of you will be put in positions of mentorship that you may not find easy or rewarding, but they will be areas that will help you grow. You will be challenged in the way you relate to your friends. That has already started tonight with a challenge to think about how you can minister to each one of them.

We will spend time reading books that you may have never wanted to read, but you need to read. We will spend time in 2009 looking at Christians in other parts of the world that are doing hard things because they do not have a choice. Our laziness and apathy will be challenged. We will spend time digging into tough theology...learning more about the nature and character of God. We will do some challenging ministry.

It’s up to you how you respond to these challenges this year. 2009 could be really exciting or really disappointing. I hope it is exciting and rewarding and I hope we see growth in H2O and Water’s Edge, but more importantly in the Kingdom of God because of our efforts this year.

You are needed in 2009. Your church needs you. Your youth group needs you. Your family needs you. Your friends need you. I need you to shake off the rust and get the sore joints of ministry and evangelism oiled up and ready to go. The more you use them the easier they will be to use.

We have spent enough time sitting around talking about how the church is supposed to work. We have spent enough time sitting around and talking about evangelism and ministry. We have spent enough time focusing on’s time to start doing!