Friday, November 27, 2009

A Christmas Set List - Pt. 2

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Chris Martin (Coldplay)

Amen, Amen, Sojourn

Christmas Time is Here, Vince Guaraldi Trio

O Magnum Mysterium, Morten Lauridsen, conductor

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Christmas Set List

Here are some of my favorite Christmas songs, with videos courtesy of YouTube.

O Holy Night, Tipitina Foundation, as seen on NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

O Come O Come Emmanuel, Sufjan Stevens

Joseph's Lullaby, MercyMe

Winter Snow, Audrey Assad & Chris Tomlin

Male Model in the House

No, Derek Zoolander has not moved in. It's my firstborn, Adam. Kristi Vickers of BluOrchard Photography and Neighborhood Church asked Adam to model for her this morning. It's for a charity event she has planned for Christmas. Apparently it went well. Hopefully it won't go to his head. But if it does, perhaps he will at least become philanthropic like Zoolander, and build centers for children who can't read good and wanna learn to do other stuff good too. I'm just sayin.

Church Buildings For Sale

Over the past 24 hours I've noticed at least five church buildings for sale. All are listed by Charles Callis, known as "The Church Man." One of the more recent churches to decide to sell is Union Avenue United Methodist Church, at the corner of Union and Cooper. I would like to know how many church buildings are for sale in Memphis. I couldn't find any stats on his Crye-Leike website or at Loopnet. Here's a good article on Memphis Daily News about the Methodist Church building.

A Night Away for Study and Prayer

I've been learning this year that I need times away in order to be a good teacher. Like all of us, I'm bombarded by details throughout the day. And I've found that for me, there is a huge need for me to keep the big picture in mind at all times. I am getting ready to start a series on the Gospel of Luke, and I told Mandy last week that I needed to get away to do some more studying, planning, and praying. She thought that was a great idea. Last Thursday we had our church planting network meeting, and John Carroll mentioned that he goes to St. Columba's Episcopal Retreat Center once a month. I got the info from him, called later that day, and scheduled my retreat.

Last night I arrived around 5:00, armed with my Bible, notebook, laptop, some books, some leftover Chinese food, and some coffee. My goal was to come away with a week by week outline of the series. Last night I read through Luke again, and jotted down more notes. This morning I began the process of compiling those notes. I am thankful that as I prepare to leave this morning, I have an outline of 21 sermons.

The theme for this study is "Christianity: Religion or Revolution?" Jake Fasano has once again designed a visual for us to use.

The series begins next Sunday and will run a few weeks past Easter. I'll continue to post on the study as we go along, but here are some of the resources I'm using.

  • The Prodigal God, Tim Keller
  • Luke for Everyone, NT Wright
  • Jesus in the Margins, Rick McKinley
  • This Beautiful Mess, Rick McKinley
  • The Myth of a Christian Religion, Greg Boyd
  • Money, Possessions & Eternity, Randy Alcorn
  • The Politics of Jesus, John Yoder
  • ReJesus, Michael Frost & Allen Hirsch
  • The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekly Links

Audio from the Acts 29 Bootcamp in Louisville can be found here. Haven't listened to any of it yet, but reading Steve McCoy's reflections of the event make me want to.

Found this site from Acts 29. Here's the tag line from Dustin Neely: "speaking up for the guys who may never plant mega-churches, while being thankful for those who do."

Great interview with Jon Foreman of Switchfoot.

My friends Linda Bergquist and Allan Karr have a new book out: Church Turned Inside Out. Check this out.

Luke 7

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." (Luke 7:9).

This is the story of the Roman centurion in Capernaum who had a servant who was at the point of death. The Jewish elders of Capernaum thought very highly of this man. He was a friend to the Jews, and was responsible for building (funding no doubt) the synagogue there. Because of this, they came to Jesus and asked him to heal this man's servant. So Jesus went with them. During this time the centurion decided that he was unworthy to even have Jesus step inside his house, so he sent friends to request that Jesus just say the words, that his servant be healed.

This man, who probably did not know much of the Jewish faith before he was sent to Capernaum, believed that Jesus was who he said he was, which meant that he had authority. This man understood authority. He knew that Jesus could speak, and things would happen. Luke tells us that Jesus marveled at this, saying that he had not seen this kind of faith in any Israelite. The servant was healed.

Most of the time this Greek word for "marveled" is used is in reference to the crowd's response to something that Jesus does, but there are two stories where Jesus is the one doing the marveling. Both have to do with faith, but they are very different. The first takes place in Mark 6. Here we see the people in Nazareth, Jesus' hometown, refusing to believe that Joseph's son could be the Messiah. Here Jesus marvels at their unbelief. They still haven't gotten it. But in this passage, he is marveled by this man's faith. This has always intrigued me. I get that Jesus can marvel at my lack of faith. I see it throughout the Gospels, and I see it played out in my life over and over. It seems that unbelief happens so frequently in all of our lives. So when this man showed tremendous faith in Jesus, it's almost as if it's unexpected to Jesus. He marvels at it. I love this part of Jesus' humanity. I'm sure it brought him tremendous joy to see this Roman centurion express faith like this. And it gets me to wondering if my faith ever marvels Jesus.

May I walk by faith and not by sight, Lord. I know that it will be tricky, I know that it will be uncomfortable, and I know that it will take courage. But I pray that it is pleasing to You (Hebrews 11:6).

Need a Christmas Gift Idea?

I shared this with the church last night. My point was that as long as we continue to spend lots of money at Christmas, people will continue inventing crazy things for us to buy. Case in point: the Cupcake Car.

Here's the description from the Neiman Marcus catalog:

Put on your matching hat, slip under the muffin top of your Cupcake Car, and let the world figure itself out for awhile. Get (or give) the sheer, joyful chaos of a gift that is mind-blowing, triple-dog-dare, double-infinity forever cool. Make the kids or grandkids literally squeal with joy. Bring it to work and buzz the breakroom. Crash parades! Putter about the 'hood. Ever had a crowd of kids chasing after you just for the crazy gleeful heck of it? (No worries, the top speed is a comfy-safe 7 mph.) What's it made of? A 24-volt electric motor, a heavy-duty battery, sheet metal, wire, fabric, wood…and mad genius.

Be sure to get yours while they last. Only $25,000!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Bible & Money: Giving Money

Giving should come from your first fruits (first line item in your budget)
Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV) Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Giving should be a regular pattern of life
1 Corinthians 6:1-3 (ESV) Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.

Giving should be willing and cheerful
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (ESV) The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Giving should be generous
2 Corinthians 8:1-4 (ESV) We want you to know, brothers, about the grace that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.

Giving should be sacrificial
Mark 12:41-44 (ESV) And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Bible & Money: Saving Money

To many of us, saving money is a fine idea, but often seems very unrealistic, especially when we're struggling to make ends meet every month. Yet it's wise, and it's biblical.

Save for a rainy day
Proverbs 30:25 (NIV) Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.

Proverbs 13:11 (ESV) Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

Proverbs 13:22 (ESV) A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Bible & Money: Spending Money

Once you've made some money, what should you do with it? Good news: the first thing you do with it is spend it. But before you start spending, you need to:

Plan your Spending (Budgeting)
Proverbs 21:5 (ESV) The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Part of the planning process is determining what to spend your money on. Here are a few things that the Bible teaches us.

Take Care of your Family
1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV) But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 4:4 (ESV) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 14:24-26 (ESV) And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you...then you shall turn it into money...and spend the money for whatever you desire - oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.

Get out of debt and stay out of debt
Proverbs 22:7 (ESV) The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave of the lender.

Be content with what you have
1 Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV) Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Bible & Money: Making Money

This Sunday I'm teaching on the subject of Generosity, and yes, that means I'll be teaching on money. Money is a tough subject to teach on due to the fact that many believe that this is all churches talk about. Though it's sad to say that this is sometimes true, more often than not the exact opposite is true: many churches never talk about money. I know that I've been guilty of this. The truth remains, though, that Jesus spent a lot of time talking about money, and linking it to our hearts. Last year I took our church to the Scriptures to see the four things that the Bible says that we are to do with money. Over the next four days I'll post on each of these.

The first thing that Scripture teaches us in regards to money is that making money through hard work is a good thing. Here are a few passages to think about:

Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV) You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NIV) Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 (ESV) For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

Proverbs 6:10-11 (ESV) A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Proverbs 20:4 (NLT) Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.

Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV) "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Based on these passages, here are a few principles to keep in mind:
  1. Working hard is good.
  2. Being lazy is bad
  3. Putting work ahead of everything else in your life will destroy your soul. Learn to Sabbath well.

The Benefits of a Small Church

I like any pastor or leader wants the organization I'm a part of, in this case my church, to grow. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. However, there are some major benefits for being a small church. This weekend we had our first 24 Hours of Prayer in preparation for Advent. The awesome thing was that almost every person in our church took on an hour. We began at 5:00 on Saturday night and ended at 5:00 on Sunday night. Then we debriefed during our worship gathering. God met with us in a powerful way. It was wonderful listening as people shared about their encounters with God.

Here's the thing, though. Everyone knew that if we wanted to fill up 24 hours, they had better sign up. I wonder what the participation would have been like if we had double the amount of people. Would we have had two people sign up for each slot? I have my doubts. I imagine that many would assume that if they sat this one out, it would still be successful. With a small church, the value of participation is greatly increased. The same is true for discipleship and mission. We have almost 100% participation in Community Groups, Life Transformation Groups, and outward projects.

I love the DNA that is being created here. I do pray that God would continue leading folks our way, especially those with less than ideal church experiences, but more important, I pray that they would see this value of participation and get involved!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

It's that time of year again. This will be our third year participating in Advent Conspiracy, and I can't wait. We kick things off this Saturday with free family photos at Overton Park in the morning, and then a screening of the film "At the End of Slavery" that evening. You can learn more about these and other events by going here.

My Pretty Wife's Blog

Did you know that Mandy is blogging? She hasn't been very forthcoming with this news, so I will. That's what husbands are for, right! Last night she posted a 2-part synopsis of the Playback Memphis' new improv "experience" called Memphis Matters. Check it out!

Kindle for PC

This morning Amazon released the beta version of Kindle for PC. I had been hoping for this for awhile, and it's great. With this as a free download, plus Kindle for iPhone being free, I definitely don't need an actual Kindle (not free). I have to believe, though, that this isn't their primary goal. Customers buying books is, and I know that I'll be doing more of this. The newest version of Kindle for iPhone has a highlighting feature. The fact that I can now open it up on the PC version and see the highlighted notes is great. Now if they will develop a way to copy those notes and paste them into a Word doc...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More Links

Seth Godin on empathy

Wondering about Google Wave? Here's Lifehack's first look and best uses, as well as The Complete Guide to Google Wave.

The trailer for my friend Joe's new movie Hitting the Nuts is live.

Five tips for utilizing RSS feeds. I use Google Reader for this task and love it.

Ten ways to cut your energy bills this winter...and not freeze

Free Kindle Book

The Kindle version of Nancy Ortberg's Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands is free for a limited time here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Catching Up on Some Links

Way behind on this, so I'm going to have two posts on some of the great things I've read online over the last few weeks. First, some great resources...

150 of Tim Keller's sermons available for free

Summaries from some of the talks at Catalyst this year

Free ebook on discipleship from Winfield Bevins. I'm printing it out right now and am looking forward to reading it.

Videos from The Nines

Video/audio from the Lead09 Conference featuring Tim Chester and Jonathan Dodson