Friday, June 26, 2009

Vacation Break...

I'm taking a break from blogging for a few days as Susan and I vacation at a cozy lake house in Hartwell, Georgia. I'll return on Monday, July 6.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Putting The "No" In Innovation...

This very funny commercial for Shredded Wheat (which I have eaten my share of) is inspired... if not downright genius.

Made me laugh. Made me think.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why People Walk Away From The Church...

The practice of "moralistic deism at its best" is how Matt Chandler describes the attitude that causes many people to eventually walk away from the church. This short clip packs a wallop as far as defining how we re-connect with the "de-churched."

Matt is the lead pastor for The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Team Leadership...

Let me just state up front... I don’t like committees. Big groups of people rarely make the best decisions and often slow things down.

When I talk about leading as a team, I am not talking about ministry by committees.
On any good team, there is a head coach. Someone must be in charge. But if the coach is wise, they will build a team of coaches.

In any ministry or leadership endeavor, I suggest the following:

* One leader who is ultimately responsible for the direction of the ministry.

* Three to seven people who become some sort of a leadership team. (Two is not enough. Three drastically improves the dynamics. More than seven becomes bulky. For some reason, I like odd numbers.) This could be an advisory team, executive team, leadership team, directional team, or whatever suits your purposes.

* When possible, the people on the team should be a diversified group.

* Each person has an equal voice—but the leader reserves the right to make the final call.

What do you feel is the best way to develop team leadership?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day Reflections...

Stephen Corbett, my ministry partner and video producer extraordinaire, developed this Father's Day video which we'll be showing at SoHills tomorrow to honor our fathers. The dads in this clip have some great things to say... and they make me proud to be a fellow father alongside them.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pushing The Replay Button...

I'm currently reading an interesting book called Do-Over! Authored by Robin Hemley, Do-Over! recounts forty-eight year old father of three and college professor Hemley's return to certain pivotal moments in his past. We're talking kindergarten, summer camp, the prom and other events from his life that left Hemley with a boatload of unresolved painful memories.

The book's premise is that Hemley takes a select series of semi-traumatic, somewhat painful and often embarrassing occurrences from his childhood and does them over... that is, he attempts to push the "replay button" on these events in order to bring a positive resolution to them.
It's like when you playing basketball with a friend... and you shoot and miss not only the basket, but the backboard, the side of the house--and you request a do-over.

I won't give away any more of Do-Over! should you decide to read it. But haven't we all at times secretly wished we could do what Hemley attempts? I'll leave you with this quote from the book: "I know you can't change the past, but you can change the way you think about the past."

What would you like to do-over?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fun With Post-It Notes...

Here's a great way to have fun with several hundred thousand Post-It Notes and stop-motion photography.

I didn't actually count the Post-It Notes used in this video... several hundred thousand was just an estimate.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stroller Cam...

Last week during our SoHills' mission team's stay in Chicago, we were lodged on the campus of North Park University. North Park has a lovely campus... and I enjoyed strolling its grounds. Today I came across a "stroller cam" tour that a North Park staff person had taken of the campus and surrounding community. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the sights I saw last week.

And that's a quick trip around North Park University!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Could Do This If I Practiced A Really Long Time...

Okay... this looks real. And if it is, these guys are amazing. (And they spent way too much time perfecting their shots.)

So, what do you think... is this the real deal, or clever computer imaging?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back Home...

The group of us from SoHills who had traveled to Chicago returned to ABI around 8 p.m. last evening. Having spent a big chunk of our 21 hour (spread over two days) return trip behind the wheel of a church van (pulling a trailer)... I arrived home one tired camper.

It was so encouraging to see our students' passion for God and their heart for the poor, overlooked and marginalized people we encountered in Chicago. I trust that the seeds God used our group to plant in the lives of those we met, talked and prayed with will bear much Kingdom fruit. I deeply appreciate those of you who served as prayer warriors on our behalf... God was faithful.

And speaking of Kingdom fruit... take a moment to read this story on ACU's web site that describes the efforts of ACU students in assisting the Carrollton Avenue church in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That sweet looking strawberry blonde in the picture above (a picture you'll also see illustrating the story on ACU's web site) is my youngest daughter, Caroline.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Prayer: Take The Next Step...






The above words are a sad description of many believers who want to move forward with the Lord but are afraid. Afraid to take the next step God is inviting them to take… afraid they’ll fail.

Why? Because they do not know our God. Sure, they may claim to believe in Him, to trust Him, to love Him… but those words do not describe a love relationship with a living, loving God.

But these words do:







Which set of words describes you today? Which set would you like to describe your year? Your life?

Ready to take the next step?

Prayer starters:

* God, what is my next step in my relationship with You?

* God, what is my next step in my relationship with others?

* God, what is my next step in my ministry for You?

* Pray for those of us from SoHills who return today from Chicago to obey as God leads us to take our next step

“Be strong and courageous.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6,7,23; Joshua 1:6,9,18; 10:25; 1 Chronicles 22:13; 28:20; 2 Chronicles 32:7)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Prayer: Honor...

What does it mean to honor God?

Honor\ n. 1. Esteem due or paid to worth; high estimation; respect; consideration; reverence; veneration; manifestation of respect or reverence.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
(Romans 12:1,2)

"Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies."
(Psalm 60:11,12)

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."
(Psalm 20:7)

"Praise the LORD! Praise God in his Temple; praise him in his mighty heaven.

Praise him for his strength; praise him for his greatness.

Praise him with trumpet blasts; praise him with harps and lyres.

Praise him with tambourines and dancing; praise him with stringed instruments and flutes.

Praise him with loud cymbals; praise him with crashing cymbals.

Let everything that breathes praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!"
(Psalm 150)

Prayer starters:

* Ask God to reveal to you what it means to worship Him throughout the day

* What is God teaching you about worship?

* Ask God to continue to stretch your understanding of worship
* Ask God to take you to a new level of understanding of worship in the months to come.

* Be still and know that He is God.

* Pray for those of us from SoHills in Chicago to “honor” God.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Prayer: Discover...

Do you have God’s plan for your life all figured out? It would be easy for many of us to settle into a place of complacency. Many of us are in an ideal environment to learn, to grow, and to minister…but would anyone notice if we worked less passionately? Would it matter if we started to go through the motions? My church already has people we pay to do ministry. What role do I play?

DANGEROUS thinking!

“Now here is what I am trying to say: All of you together are the one body of Christ, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 TLB)

God is at work…all of the time. And it’s safe to say that as long as we’re breathing, He’s not through with us yet. So look around. Open your eyes to the possibilities. What is God’s next mission field for you? Will you be ready to respond when God wants to use you to take His possibilities where you are to the next level?

You? Yes! God has called Vann and others to Chicago this week. But God has called all of us to obey Him. That means His plans for our lives may be radically different than any of us originally thought.

Ahhhh, the joy and challenge of the Christian life. Keep walking with God and discover what’s in store for you!

Prayer starters:

* What dreams has God placed on your heart?

* What’s one skill you believe God wants you to learn?

* What people can use your encouragement as they serve the Lord?

* Who can you encourage in their ministry?

* How’s the condition of your heart as you serve?

* Pray for those of us in Chicago this week to continue to “discover.”

“Do your work with enthusiasm. Work as if you were serving the Lord, not as if you were serving only men and women.”
(Ephesians 6:7 NCV)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prayer: Grow...

We’re blessed to be part of a community of believers. We hear messages of hope that encourage and inspire, we are motivated by vision that leads us to the next level, and we receive practical steps to assist our walk with God.

are we learning? Are we leading? Are we growing?

I can’t be the only one who hungers to grow…only to find myself struggling to follow-through on commitments I wholeheartedly made. Finishing strong is a hurdle we all face. But it’s also one we have to clear. Why?

We need to grow. And others need us to grow so that we can train them. Then those who are trained need inspiration to train others…who will only continue the process.

That’s called discipleship, and it’s revealed in 2 Timothy 2:2.

"You should teach people whom you can trust the things you and many others have heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others."

Keep growing…and praying for the growth of those God entrusts to you.

Prayer starters:

* What step of faith is God asking you to take?

* What is God teaching you in your times alone with Him?

* What students has God placed on your heart? How can you encourage them to grow?

* What role does God want you to take in discipling others?

* Pray for those who are feeding you, helping you grow
* What area of your life is God working on right now?

* Pray for those of us from SoHills in Chicago to “grow.”

Jesus told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this--that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 TLB)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prayer: Connect...

A good connection is vitally important when...
- you’re sending a personal email
you’re in the mountains and getting driving directions on your cell phone
- you’re plugging in an important piece of equipment

Being connected is also vitally important to our spiritual health. Without developing intimate relationships with other Christians and serving one another, our connection to Christ and the church is weakened. We need one another.

In fact, one way to connect with others is to practice the “one another’s”
* Love one another (John 13:34,35; Galatians 5:14)

* Encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:24,25; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

* Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)

* Give preference to one another (Romans 12:10)

* Build up one another (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

* Be kind to one another (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

* Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)

* Accept one another (Romans 15:7)

* Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)

* Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)

* Have concern for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)

* Be kind, compassionate, forgiving one other (Ephesians 4:32)

* Carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)

* Teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)

* Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)

* Pray for one another (James 5:16)

* Offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)

* Don’t judge one another (Romans 14:13)

* Don’t slander one another (James 4:11)

* Don’t provoke one another (Galatians 5:26)

Are you connected? Are you helping others connect?

Prayer starters:

* Pray for an opportunity to practice the “one another’s.”

* Pray for those of us in Chicago this week to “connect.”

“Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.”
(Romans 12:10 NCV)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Prayer: Reach...

“Really? You want to know about Jesus?”

Ever been surprised by someone’s willingness to learn more about Jesus? Ever been caught off-guard when someone wants to know more about your faith? We need hearts that ache for those who are not yet Christians. And when we begin to see people the way God sees them, we can expect that people will respond to the work God is doing in and around them.

Why? Because people matter to God, and God wants to use us to reach out to those He has placed in our lives.

Today, walk around wide-eyed, looking at people and praying for them with a heart that believes God will reach them, and that He wants to use us in the process!

Prayer starters:

* Pray for school campuses to be impacted by the gospel
- Students

- Teachers

- Administration

* Your friends

* Your family members

* Your co-workers
* Your neighbors

* Your community

* Pray for people that you'd like to be used by God to “reach.”

“Quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord, and if anybody asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way.”
(1 Peter 3:15, TLB)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Prayer: Thank you, God...

It’s easy to ask for things. In fact, because of the affluence of our culture we effortlessly fall prey to a common disease: demanding and expecting what we want, when we want it.

There is a cure, however. Be thankful! Since God is the giver of all good things, He alone deserves our complete attention and gratitude. And since God lovingly keeps us from attaining certain things, He alone is to be appreciated.

Today, look around at all that God has given you, and be thankful. Thank God for meeting your daily needs and for supplying you with family and friends. And consider all that you have wanted that God has not allowed you to have, and be thankful. Believe it or not – it’s for the best!

Mostly…thank God.

Prayer starters:

* Thank God for what He has done in your life, in the lives of those around you, in your ministry.

* Thank God for how He has provided for you: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually
* Thank God for how He has protected you
* Thank God for how He has comforted you.

* Thank God for how He has encouraged you.

* Thank God for how He has answered your prayers.

* Thank God for who He has brought into your life.

“You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
(Psalm 118:28,29)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Calling On Prayer Warriors...

I left today with a group of SoHills' high school students and adults bound for Chicago. We will spend this week, working alongside the Center for Student Missions, being Jesus to some of the overlooked, poor and marginalized people of Chicago.

I am asking all who will read my posts this week to serve as prayer warriors on behalf of me and my Chicago team mates. The posts this week will focus on specific avenues of prayer.

As you read each post, please allow the words to be used by God to not only breathe His Spirit's power and wisdom into your prayers... but also to allow you to lift up, as a prayer warrior, those of us who are seeking to be Christ-like salt and light in Chicago.

Friday, June 5, 2009

TXT Island...

This stop-motion film was hand-crafted using hundreds of peg-board letters. Unbelievable!

I used to work at a church where we had all of the Bible classes listed on a black felt peg-board using plastic letters... and I thought it was tough changing those out once a quarter.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I was challenged by this recent post from Scott Rodgers:

Help. I’m broken and I can’t get up.

Broken by God”—that’s a statement I’m hearing a lot of lately. What does it mean to be broken by God? I’m not so sure it’s something God does as much as it is a place we find ourselves in.

I think there are two primary places of brokenness. First, brokenness can be the result of sin. We’ve messed everything up, and now life is just broken. Second, brokenness can be the result of surrender. We’ve submitted ourselves to the purposes of God so much that we are experiencing pain; the pain of selflessness, submission, being misunderstood, etc.

It’s critical we don’t confuse the two. We need to stop saying, “God is breaking me,” when we’re really just breaking ourselves by repeating destructive, sinful behavior. And, if you’re experiencing brokenness as the result of surrender, lean into it; you’re going through a process of transformation.

Help... I’m broken and I can’t get up. I’m flat on my back. My sin is great. Lord, please forgive me and restore me.

Help... I’m broken and I can’t get up. I’m on my knees. My surrender is great. Lord, please give me the strength to stay the course.

What are your thoughts or experiences with this topic of brokenness?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Be The Letter...

You show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. - 2 Corinthians 3:3

Don't you just love that challenge?! "Show that you are a letter of Christ." Like walking, breathing epistles... emissaries
under Christ's Lordship, ambassadors for Christ's Kingdom. We testify with our very lives to the good news of Jesus.

This isn't just a relaying of information; it is a subsisting on God's revelation. It's
carrying the Word of God in our blood, in the very marrow of our bones.

These are not just idle words for you -- they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess. - Deuteronomy 32:47

I try too often to live by bread alone. In my heart of hearts, however, I want to stop using Jesus, appropriating Scripture, and doing church... and begin trusting Jesus, living Scripture, and being the church.

I want to be a letter of Christ.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Team Thinking...

One of the biggest challenges for any leader is building and leading teams. The heart of the challenge lies in the thinking that it's faster and more efficient to do things by ourselves. It takes leadership to do team. That's why one of the things I'm constantly challenging myself and my SoHills ministry partners to do is think team.

We must build
teams at every level of our churches and organizations. Jesus modeled team thinking for us. Here are a few idea on how to build and lead more effective teams based on the ministry and example of Jesus:

* Determine not to do life and ministry alone. Jesus had a team of 12. If he had a team, doesn't it stand to reason that we could use one too

* Pick the right people for the team. Jesus didn't pick superstars. He picked people who were
passionate, teachable, and loyal.

* Cultivate your team. Jesus spent a great deal of time with his team. He was constantly pulling away from the crowds to invest in his team.

* Function as a team. Jesus taught the disciples how to work together to accomplish more than
they could accomplish on their own.

How about you? Are you thinking team?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Planned Abandonment...

Several of us on the ministry staff at SoHills heard Craig Groeschel speak recently at Catalyst One-Day. The point Craig makes in this video clip is one that he drove home at Catalyst One-Day. I'm convicted by Craig's point and his passion.

If you want to reach your community for Jesus, stop copying other churches.

If you want to reach people for Jesus that nobody else is reaching, you’ll have to do things that no other churches are doing.