Thursday, November 23, 2006

T Cubed! Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen

Here is my first ever Thursday Thirteen:

13 Reasons I’m Thankful for My Wife

  1. Her beautiful and beaming smile is a contagious catalyst that brings joy to everyone (and I mean everyone) around her!
  2. She has a deep love for the poor, under-dogs, and neglected of the world.
  3. Kim is an amazing cook and uses that gift to bless others and keep me full!
  4. She is “simple” and by that I mean she can be happy in all situations. We could live in or Burundi (top 5 poorest county in the world) or Beverly Hills.
  5. Her laugh!
  6. Kim can be just crazy silly! It is not uncommon for her to chase Laura around the house or tickle Emily to death.
  7. That girl can make friends faster than anyone I know!
  8. She loves her family with an ocean deep dedication and servant hearted kindness.
  9. Kim is romantic. Actually, she is just plain sexy!
  10. Her work ethic is incredible. Ask her former coworkers at ACU or current coworkers at Starbucks…she works as if she was working for the Lord! Truth be told, she is.
  11. She married me! Oh how I’m thankful for that!!!
  12. Kim is mighty warrior in the Army of the Lord and her weapon of choice is powerful, prayer!
  13. Kim shows me Jesus everyday! She possesses an unquenchable passion for the Lord!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Without Warning

This morning God was talking to me through scripture (Matthew 7:28-29, 8:1-27).

Let me summarize for you the story he shared first.

Jesus just finished the best sermon ever: short, plenty of scripture, great illustrations, relevant, challenging, funny, you name it - he nailed it! His disciples heard this sermon and were amazed.

He comes down off mountain and is met by a mob and a guy with leprosy. The guy knows Jesus can heal if he wants. Jesus wants to and does heal this guy but then tells him not to tell anyone but the priest and temple officials. His disciples see him heal a guy with leprosy.

Jesus heads southeast about 3 miles to Capernaum and a centurion approaches and asks Jesus to heal his servant who is paralyzed and in pain. Jesus accepts but in an amazing display of humility, the Centurion tells Jesus to just give the word because he's not even worthy of Jesus entering his house. Jesus gives the word and
his disciples witness the long distance miracle.

Next Jesus enters Peter's house, touches his mother-in-law's hand and heals her. His disciples see it all with their own eyes. Later that night Jesus kicks it up a notch and a bunch of demon-possessed folk and heals all the sick. His disciples have a front row seat in all of this.

So then Jesus tells his disciples to get into a boat and while sailing across the Sea of Galilee a furious storm comes without warning and his disciples freak out and become convinced they are going to drown! Before calming the storm, Jesus confronts his followers, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" His disciples hear every word. Jesus shuts up the storm and, get this, his disciples were amazed!

This morning the Holy Spirit wrote the following on my heart:

"Joel, in this life you will face troubles of all kinds so don't say I didn't warn you. Some pain will pound others and some storms will sweep over you. You're not going to drown! Have faith. Don't fear. I'm in the boat with you so don't say I didn't warn you."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Preaching Ministry

I am constantly trying to improve the "preaching ministry" component of my role as Senior Minister. Consequently, I'm always on the lookout for what people are saying about the gift of preaching. Today I ran across a great quote from Philip Jensen is the Anglican archbishop of Sydney and an influential evangelical leader.

"The present debate about human sexuality often betrays a failure to grasp how the interlocking teaching of scripture in Old and New Testaments can be brought to bear on contemporary life. The Bible is read subjectively, or as an endless succession of small segments without a proper connecting link or a single voice. The lack of a proper approach to the Bible prevents its message ever impacting on the church. You cannot say with authority, 'The Bible says . . . ' Once people lose confidence in the word of God, the preaching ministry of the church is lost. Once the preaching ministry is lost, the world's message is heard in the church, instead of the church's message heard in the world. Then the churches decline."

Listen to that last part again.

Once people lose confidence in the word of God, the preaching ministry of the church is lost. Once the preaching ministry is lost, the world's message is heard in the church, instead of the church's message heard in the world. Then the churches decline."


Dear God, give me confidence in Your Word.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

And the Winner Is ...


He must. He better. If He doesn't, we are in big trouble.

Heaven forbid (and it does in scripture) that we ever believe the lie that is seductively whispered to us from our adversary, Satan: that salvation, joy and hope are found in "the Church."

Lord help us not to ever think that "the body" doesn't take its cue from "the head"

Jesus save us from preaching "the Church realized" and not "Christ crucified."

Holy Spirit remind us that Jesus saves and not our people, programs, or plans.

God teach us this truth: Churches don't have a mission. God's mission has a church.

I believe that we have sinfully shifted our focus from "of Christ" to "Church"

The sign out front of our building reads, Lake Cities Church of Christ. Other tribes of faith might not like the sign. Most in the Restoration Movement clan like the sign.

I both love and hate the sign. I love it because it reminds me that we are in fact called to be a church - our gathering is Godly and our body is blessed. But I hate it because it reminds that there is a frequent and futile and frustrating fight being fought between Christ and His Church.

Open the envelope of Philippians 2 to find the winner.

Every knee will bow ... Every tongue will confess ...

that Jesus is Lord.

Jesus wins!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Who'd Win In a Fight?

Some of my fondest memories from my 12 years of youth ministry occurred in a church van. I loved driving on long trips with a van of full of frontal lobotomy-like teens. The conversations that would crop up after their CD players ran out of batteries were classic! Walls would come down and hearts would open up after 4 or 5 hours in a rolling sardine can (smell & seating situation) and Kim and I would be privy to some of the funniest comments ever.

7th grade boy to no one in particular: "Hey does your mom fart because mine does and it is nasty."

9th grade girl to her 'new best friend forever': "When I first met you I thought you were a slut but now I think you're way cool."

Senior boy to Jr. High boy: "When we get to In & Out Burger you go save my place in line cuz I got to hit the bathroom and take care of the "out" before I take care of the "in" ... okay dork?

Jr. High boy in reply: "Well since your mom works there you can just get her to wait in line for you!"

In an effort to take the conversation to a more intellectually stimulating height, I invented the game, "Who'd Win in a Fight?"

The object of this game was to throw out two random people that would not likely be paired to fight by anyone, ever. Then others could chime in with their picks and give a defense of their choice. I'll give you a few examples of my favorites:

"Who'd win in a fight, Lois Brown (75+ yr old lady at our church in CA) or Matt Alvarez (16 yr old in our youth group)? Replies went something like, "Lois, cuz she goes hunting and would shoot Alvarez!" or "Matt, because he plays video games non stop and has quick reflexes."

"Who'd win in a fight, Shaq or J-Lo?" Replies included, "Shaq because he could bust out his genie magic (Kazaam reference) on J-Lo!" or "J-Lo, because she could distract him with her booty and then slap him upside his head!"

So you get the idea...

A blogging contemporary offering might be: "Who'd win in a fight, Mike Cope or Grant Boone?" Some replies could come, "Mike because he could summon the Zoe Group to help" or "Grant because he could stab Mike with his sharp wit!"

I'm sure you can think of others (both possible matches and possible outcomes) and in fact will.

But here is the question of the day (at least for me and on my blog) which I will attempt to answer in a post tomorrow:

Who'd win in a fight ... the Church ... or ... Christ?

I believe that the two are currently in conflict and yet should never be. I believe that we (church leaders and church goers) are responsible too. We have misled people into thinking the Church would be the answer to all their problems - that it would save them, change them, and fill their needs.

Stay tuned.