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Enjoy The Journey

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Parenting Practices – Simple and Encouraging

Tue ,14/07/2009

Check out Mark Batterson’s blog this morning – neat, simple way to encourage and nurture children:

http://evotional.com/2009/07/annual-letters.htm

Have a great Tuesday!

Friday Thoughts

Fri ,10/07/2009

This has been a interesting week. July is suppose to be a slow time of the year in church life, but I’m finding it to be just the opposite. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me and my back injury. To give you a little update: yesterday I went in for a procedure to relieve the pain shooting down my back and all the way to my toes in my right side. I’ve been dealing with this for the last 4 years – so it is is nothing new, just getting more unbearable. We’ll know in the next 7 days if the procedure worked. I’ve had this procedure done two times before and it didn’t work – so if it doesn’t work this time – under the knife I’ll go. Pray that it works and thanks for your concern.

On another note I want to talk about our upcoming sermon series called “Elevate.” We’re going to be walking through different passages of scripture and try to understand what it means to worship. So many of us come from different church and unchurched backgrounds; so when it comes to expressing ourselves during worship – we get a little uncomfortable. So what is it? How are we suppose to worship? We’re going to deal with those questions in the coming weeks – but here are 4 questions to ask yourself before you come to church on Sunday – to prepare yourself for worship:

1) What do I “treasure” more than anything else in my life? I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but on a deeper level – ask yourself what are the “treasures” that may suffocate other “treasures” in life?

2) What do I look forward to more than anything else when I wake up in the morning? Now I’m sure many of you, including myself, will scream coffee. But the coffee, or anything else, should be a means to an end.

3) Who do I identify myself as? Do you see yourself as an employee, spouse, parent, friend – or something else. Knowing your identity, in my opinion, may be the key to heartfelt Biblical worship.

4) Why do I come to church? Great question to ask yourself – because why we come determines “how” we come to church.

I’m fired up about this Sunday – look forward to seeing you all there. Have a great weekend. God Bless You!

Sunday Reflections

Mon ,22/06/2009

Happy belated Father’s Day to all of our Dads – I hope it was good day for you. Yesterday was another great Sunday at River Hills Church. If you missed yesterday – here are a few thoughts:

1) Almost done with our “Just Joy” sermon series. Big Idea from yesterday: God calls us to “go deeper” and that requires “striving” on our part.

2) We are to strive for maturity – which means that we are to seek to “grow-up” spiritually speaking.

3) We are to strive for discernment – which means we are to make “right choices.”

4) I love our worship team – they get better every week. Looking forward to the months to come.

5) Next week is our last week of “Just Joy” – you don’t want to miss this because we’re tying up all the lose ends from the book of Philippians.

6) Pray for me this week – I have the opportunity to speak to students in Southwest Louisiana. I hate being away from my family, but I love the opportunity to share the timeless truth with others. Pray that God would bless my words and ignite a passion in the lives of these students.

7) Our student minister, Chance, leaves for a four week mission trip to Crossroads Camp in North Carolina – he also made the next level for American Idol – so pray for him. Also pray for our intern, Will Clark, he is in Costa Rico right now on a mission trip. I’m so thank for these two young men and their passion to bring truth and people together.

I love our church and the momentum that we are carrying through the summer is incredible. Can’t wait to see everyone Sunday morning – and looking forward to sharing with you the last episode of “Just Joy.” Have a great week.

Friday Thoughts – Idols

Fri ,16/01/2009

American Idol started this week and I can’t be more excited. Yes – Sarah Beth and I are Idol junkies. We love to watch people succeed and we love to cringe when people mess up. I’ve got my favorite American Idols – Carrie Underwood and Daughtry, as well as my least favorite – that “Soul Patrol” guy. But all in all – I really, really, really like American Idol. In fact before we got DVR we wouldn’t answer our phones during that sacred hour. Now I know what you’re thinking: Chip is about to write about how we idolize people and we should be prioritizing Christ. No – that isn’t it at all, but I do want to reflect on some of the major idols that the church deals with.

If you watch American Idol there are several critiques that the judges give that they think will help the “star-wanna-be” better. 1) You must be able to sing, but the best singer doesn’t always win. 2) You must “look” the part, this is a big deal. 3) There must be the “x” factor, something about the person that is like-able – Kelly Clarkston was a great example of that. She wasnt’ the best singer (in my opinion), but she did have that “x” factor. All of this combined will hopefully propel this person to success. Here is my point: The church tends to be the same way in its desire to discover “success” or become “successful.”

For the last few weeks I’ve been wrestling with the “idols” that the church has erected in order to be “successful.” So here are a few thoughts:

1) The Idol Of Nickels and Noses – If you have a lot of people, and you have a big budget then you must be a great church. Well let’s back up for a moment. I do believe that a healthy church is a growing church, but unhealthy churches attract people as well. There are churches everywhere that don’t teach the gospel, but attract large crowds. One prominent preacher stands up every week in his coliseum out west and never speaks of repentance, forgiveness and holiness – but there is a lot of positivity going on. We have to be very careful because this is the idol that we tend to buy into the most.

2) The Idol Of Programs – Now this is something that may make you a little uncomfortable, but it is so true. Many see that a churches success is built upon the number of “programs” that they have. I recently read of a church that had about 400 people in weekly attendance and over 150 different programs. Guess what was happening to that church? It was losing more and more people each year. Programs are relatively new thing to Christianity – in fact the word “youth minister” or “childrens minister” did not exist 75 years ago. Programs are important and good, but they don’t make a church a “good” church.

3) The Idol Of Being Trendy – If we wear our jeans, have a kicking worship team, serve coffee before worship, and multi-media in our service (and anything else creative that you can think of) then it must be a “good” church (sounds a lot like our church). Do you know that worship music is only about 500-600 years old in the local church, that the hymns that we deem as old and traditional were probably set to bar tunes in order to better relate to those who had come out of the bars and into church, and that the music that was cutting edge in 1995 is now seen as “old”. Think about it: how many people still wear the “wwjd” bracelet, when was the last time you saw a bumper sticker that said “Jesus is my co-pilot” and whatever happened to “DC Talk”? Trends come and go, so there has to be something more.

4) The Idol Of Evangelism Programs – What do I mean by this? We send out thousands of postcards every year. Next week we’ll be sending out 20,000 to invite people to church. There are business cards at the welcome center that you can take and give to your friends to invite them to church, our website is very user friendly for those who may want to visit, and I love what our greeters do for first time guests each week. Not only that, there are thousands of books, programs and seminars to teach people how to share their faith – I just read of a new one yesterday called the “evangecube” for kids. These are all very, very, important things – and we will do them because people matter to us, but I want to remind you as a leader and as a church member of one important thought: the means of expressing Christ is important, but the message of Christ is more important. We cannot count on a postcard to bring people to church – we must depend upon Christ, and act accordingly. The Bible tells us that “blessed are the feet who bring good news” – so bring good news to people. Christ works through you – we are his instruments. Don’t depend on the program too much.

Idols can be set up easily and quickly. We see success through the use of certain tools, we feel comfortable with certain trends, or specific programs are helpful – so that means it must be successful, right? The means of conveying the message of Christ is not the measure of success – it is Jesus. So as we walk together through the next month, year, 20 years – no matter what the size, program, trend or technique used to bring truth and people together – there must be a foundational commitment to the power of Christ (read Ephesians 1:17-22) moving through His people.

Sunday Reflections

Mon ,12/01/2009

We just finished the 2nd week of our “Dear Mr. President” sermon series and it was exciting. Last week week we dealt with the issue of “Dear Mr. President – Relax, Jesus is our hope, not you.” This week we took the next step by adding, “We are praying that you are successful and we vow to be good citizens.” We looked at Titus 3:1-2 and Romans 13:1-7 to see what the Bible calls us to be like as it pertains to citizenship. Things like: 1) Having the right attitude toward leadership, 2) Acting right as it pertains to leadership, 3) Be proactive from a positive stand-point, 4) Building up not tearing down, 5) Being at peace with all men. Why do we do this? What if the government is “anti” Jesus or calls us to do ungodly things? We dealt with all of these issues, but this if the final word in being a godly citizen (or a godly anything for that matter): We are godly because it conveys the hope of Jesus Christ to those who may not know him. We have to remember that we represent the message of Christ – and while we don’t conform or compromise, we do seek to express and convey that hope through our citizenship.

Yesterday was great – we had a lot of new faces in our worship service – many of our “old folks” were sick and had family emergencies – so pray for them. But what was most exciting is that two people gave their life to Christ yesterday. God is up to something in our midst.

We kicked off small groups last night as well – and if you weren’t able to come – we have one more week of previews. We’ll be meeting again this Sunday night at 6 p.m. to preview the new small groups. We’ve got some great stuff happening in these groups and I really want to encourage you to jump into one.

Finally, God continues to bless our church. He continues to move and shape us into His people. In February we’re starting a sermon series called “House: Prescribing Hope For You and Your Family.” This is going to be a great sermon series for people you may know who aren’t in church – so I want to challenge you to do two things:

1) Bring one unchurched friend to this series. During the month of February more people are depressed, more people get a divorce, more people are feeling the crunch of finances from Christmas and more people seek out hope than any other month of the year. Make it a point to convey hope to them during this time.

2) Be there for every worship service. Yes I know – “tis the season for sickness” – my own family missed church yesterday because of sickness, but if you can make it – be there – we need all of us to be there in order to be and grow the church God has for us.

Have a great Monday – I love you all.

Friday Thoughts

Fri ,09/01/2009

My brother is a wrestling coach and last weekend I took my son and we went to one of his wrestling tournaments. Cade always loves going – what little boy wouldn’t – he gets to watch people do what he is not allowed to do. Because he is the coaches nephew he got to go out on the mat with some of the wrestlers and “wrestle” with them. He loved it – even though he needs to work on his technique.

While we were there one of the opposing wrestling coaches had a t-shirt on that quoted Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the rulers, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” This passage really spoke to me on a variety of levels – because it reminded me that I don’t struggle against things that could hurt me physically, but against evil that is contrary to Christ. Life is tough and the assurance of this verse is simple: we have to wrestle our way through life. Thankfully following that statement we are called to put on the full armour of God which enables us to wrestle victoriously.

What are you wrestling with? Who do you usually blame when you wrestle? Do you feel like you’re winning? My advice to you this morning is simple: as you wrestle through life do not let your confidence be grounded in a person, but in the person of Jesus Christ.

Have a great weekend – see you Sunday.

Look Forward To 2009 – Resolutions

Wed ,31/12/2008

Jonathan Edwards is the greatest mind that the United States has ever seen. He wrote extensively on a variety of subjects, but the most important of all his works are the ones that he wrote on Theology. He was a scholar, pastor, president of Princeton, father of the Great Awakening, missionary and theologian. His contribution to Christianity and to the American nation is unfathomable. During 1722-1723, while in his early 20’s, Edwards wrote out 70 resolutions for himself – and he read these weekly for the remainder of his life. Edwards was not simply a man of God, he was a man after God, and he was resolved to walk in a manner of joy and passion of God.

Every New Year Edwards and his resolutions come to mind. Not only because of the “resolutions” that I make, but also because of a legacy that Edwards left (he died at the age of 55). God used his life to bring 10’s of 1000’s to Christ and to lead a movement that makes an impact today. All because he was “resolved” to do something.

With 2009 – I have some resolutions. Not only for myself – but also for our church. Things that I think we’ll make me more like Christ and more useful in his hands. Here are a few:

1) To workout 3x’s a week. I know everyone has got a “lost weight in the New Year” or “don’t eat like swine in 2009” – but my reasons are not only health related, but emotional. Did you know that you get less depressed, more accomplish and have more energy when you work out. I started Monday – and I’m sore, but I feel great.

2) To be more intentional in connecting with people who don’t know Christ.

3) To have one family devotional a week. The schedules that all of us keep make it difficult to spend time with the family and talk about Christ – especially when you’re kids are toddlers (like mine), but those excuses need to be kicked out. I challenge all of us to do this.

4) To read 20 books this year – I know I’m a nerd – but I didn’t say how long the books were going to be.

5) To see our church highly involved in the school system: serving teachers, reaching out to students, and being in a place of influence.

6) To see Men of our church become passionate about Christ. Not that they aren’t passionate already, but I really have a burden to see guys who can retain their manliness, and yet pursue Jesus.

7) Recycle more.

8) Take Sarah Beth out on more dates.

9) Spend 30 minutes to an hour a day individually with each of my kids doing what they want to do.

10) To finish my doctorate.

11) To see River Hills Church not only grow numerically, but grow with an inward passion for Jesus.

12) To run a 5k.

13) To preach through an entire book of the Bible – get ready for May.

14) To walk with Jesus daily in prayer and reading of the Bible. This is something I’ve practiced, or tried to practice for the last 15 years – I don’t always get a chance to spend that time alone with God, but I make it a point to try. This year I want to have more time with Him and less time “trying.”

I’d love to hear some of your New Year’s resolutions. I know that we don’t always keep them, but maybe if we became like Edwards: have a heartfelt desire to follow Christ – and make that our resolution – and let the other resolutions build off of that.

Let me hear from you – I’d love to hear about what you want 2009 to be. I’ll have more tomorrow. Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve.

Friday Thoughts – A Day Late

Sat ,27/12/2008

Well the presents are unwrapped, the paper is in a pile, the refrigerator is bare, and the kids are occupied – sort of. Christmas is officially over. I hope that all of you had a great Christmas week and enjoyed some time off. This Christmas has been a whirlwind of sorts for our family – the “Grinchmas” sermon series really has to applied during our Christmas. We had the regular Christmas celebration – which is always a good time, but we had to deal with sickness and a death in the family – needless to say it was bizarre. I kept having to tell myself “I can’t control anyone else but myself”, “what I fill myself with controls me,” and “make Christ the perspective” – because adding a funeral and sick babies into what is a typical good time – can cause some stress. But – it was  a great Christmas – and thank you for all the notes of sympathy.

I’ve been asked about the “twelve days of Christmas” – and where it came from – and I’ve discovered a great article from a magazine called “Christian History.” Please check out the article at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/dec24.html

I hope you have a great Saturday – and I will see you at worship tomorrow at 10:45 a.m. We will have nursery and kid’s connection – but it will be a very basic set-up this Sunday. God Bless

Friday Thoughts

Fri ,19/12/2008

I can’t get my mind off this Sunday – it is going to be incredible. We’ll start Sunday morning with the kids singing in the worship service – they’ve been working for weeks on this – get there early to find a seat. Grinchmas will be winding down this Sunday – and you don’t want to miss this message. And then Sunday night we’re having our Christmas service/festival – it is going to be awesome – you don’t want to miss it. I’ve talked to many of our folks and some are bringing eight people – other people are bringing 10 – and one person is using their face-book profile to advertise the event – thanks for getting serious about bringing truth and people together. Don’t forget – Sunday night – we’re planning on a packed house and there will be a simultaneous worship service for 4-10 year olds during the adult worship (we’ll also have a nursery).

We will be taking up a special offering during the Christmas service – 100% of the proceeds are going to missions. A portion will be going to a missionary couple who is planting a church in Syria – that’s right Syria, and a portion will be going to a local ministry that provides dinner, food, toys and clothes for needy families on Christmas day – they are expecting 1100 people this Christmas.

I love our church – I love watching God move in your lives – and I’m super pumped about Sunday. By the way – one last challenge for Christmas: normally the Sunday after Christmas (December 28) and July 4 are the lowest attended Sundays of the year – this year we’re going to have a very basic family worship (we will have nursery for 0-3 year olds) – but everyone else will be in the service (and we’ll have stuff for the kids during the service) – but the big event is that we will be baptizing on the 28th – you don’t want to miss it.

Have a great weekend – see you Sunday.  

Friday Thoughts

Fri ,21/11/2008

Does the economy scare you right now? We’ve written about this a lot, but yesterday I had the unique opportunity of spending the day with 10 other church planters and the Lead Pastor of mountain lake church (www.mountainlakechurch.com). I spend a day each month with these guys, and he and his executive pastor coach us through the rigors of starting a church. I’ve been in school more days than I can count, been to more conferences, read more books and attended many mentoring groups – but this one day experience is one of the best things that I have done. These guys started a church 10 years ago with no one – and now they’re running several thousand – an amazing story. Funny thing is – their pattern of growth and development resembles our pattern too. Yesterday the subject of discussion and coaching was money. When the topic was announced there was a unanimous groan in the group (I thought congregations hated hearing about money – not as much as these guys).

We discussed the hardships of the economy, how that is effecting the church, how do we encourage people to give to the vision/mission of the church, and how do we make ends meet as a church. During the course of the conversation I was convicted, afraid and encouraged – here’s why:

1) I was convicted because I don’t know if I say this enough – but for those of us who are faithful in giving – I truly am appreciative for your sacrifice. For Sarah Beth and me – it is a monthly sacrifice – I know for many of you it is to, and I realize that I don’t build you up enough in this area. You guys are great – and when you give – you are giving to the mission of bringing truth and people together. I was also convicted – maybe convicted is not the word – I was prayerful for many of you because I know that times are tough right now, and when you drop an envelope in the basket, mail in a check or go online and give – you are making a serious sacrifice. I know that times are uncertain – but the Bible promises that when you ask for his peace – He will give it to you. I’m praying that for you today.

2) I was fearful because – according to the pastor and his discussions with the executives – the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Ok – that is scary – because the economy pretty well stinks right now. But – referring back to a blog a few weeks ago “God didn’t give us a spirit of fear” (II Timothy 1:7). It may get worse – but what an opportunity for the church to shine.

3) I was encouraged – and this is the biggie – 30 days ago I challenged our church to a 90 day challenge: 1) Tithe if you’re not, and 2) Add 1% to your tithe if you are. Here is what is encouraging: We are having the best month of the year in our offering. How can this be? Doesn’t the economy stink and there is doom and gloom ahead? And what about Christmas? It is because you give. Our offering is up $2000 a month from September – we’ve grown by 25%!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your faithfulness. That means that we can do more ministry and prepare for the future – and bring truth and people together. Continue to be faithful, continue to give – and watch God blow the doors off this place.

Have a great weekend – see you Sunday.