November 25, 2009

Stop the Madness!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A time to think of all the things we have to be grateful for in our lives. A chance to eat together - to eat a little bit more than would be medically advised. All in all, an opportunity - if I may keep this simple - to give thanks! And then comes the day after.....

What on God's earth has happened to us? Right now, as I sit here plotting out my study time for the day, there are people all over this great nation who are mapping out their tactical plan for the invasion of Walmart and Best Buy, who are (ironically) baiting and luring them in like zombies. And every morsel of reason at the root of this mayhem is the distorted understanding of what Christmas is all about. As the Day of Destruction & Debt approaches I encourage you to rethink WHAT the heck you're doing and WHY you're doing it.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ. How would you feel if - on your birthday - people all over the world trampled each other, spent money they didn't have, and significantly raised their stress level and blood pressure...all for the sake of buying more crap that they didn't really need?

Are you a Christ-follower? If so, why would you continue to foster and nurture the idea in your children that Christmas is about THEM and a ginormous list of things they WANT? Is it not time to STOP the insanity? 

Before you head out of your house on a mission this Black Friday - or the days after for that matter - I encourage you to RETHINK CHRISTMAS! I encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about the consequences and ramifications of being a tool of materialism. Join the conspiracy to take back Christmas! Take a few minutes and check this out:

Christmas Can [Still] Change the World!

November 23, 2009

The Right Thing To Do

Ah, Christmas. Typically at this time of year we're thinking through the question, "Who will we give to this year?" We pinpoint as a church a cause, organization, or charity that we ask our people to direct their attention and money towards in an effort to love others in need and to bring the Kingdom of God to those who don't know Him. Again, that's typically what happens.

During the month of November we've traveled through a series together at The Brook called "Weapons". We've been talking about tools and devices the Enemy loves to use against and sometimes (sadly) deceives us into using against each other. But yesterday we turned a corner and confronted a weapon that we seem to use against ourselves: DEBT. We're the ones who pick up the shovel and we're the ones that keep digging the hole...even when we can't see the light of day anymore. We are exhorted throughout scripture (Romans 13:8, Proverbs 22:7, Matthew 6:19-24) to a better way of living. This wasn't just a sermon about our individual credit card debt - it's about the fact that WE - as a CHURCH - are in DEBT. And it's time to put an end to it!

December 13th will be "Erase the Debt" Day here at The Brook. I have asked our people to spend the next 21 days praying about what the Lord would ask them to give to "Erase the Debt". I believe the Lord is leading some of us to fast over these days - leading us to get on our faces and seek His direction. I am praying that many of our people will feel called by the Lord to give in a way that almost seems ridiculous to them at first - that He calls us to a generosity we didn't even know resided within us. We are very well aware that this is not something that's going to "feel good", like giving to Blood:Water Mission or Habitat for Humanity or Samaritan's Purse. This is probably not going to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy for Christmas. But that's not why we give it?

This is what the Lord is calling us to do as a church. This is the right thing. This is biblical. And NOW is the time!

If you're a member of The Brook, please join us in asking the Lord what He desires you to give to "Erase the Debt". If you're not a member of our church, please join us in praying that the Lord will faithfully help us overcome this minor obstacle and wipe it out - so that we can begin to serve & give wholeheartedly as His people.

If you missed the message yesterday, I encourage you to check out the podcast:

"My God shall supply all your needs according to HIS riches in Christ Jesus". Philippians 4:18-20

November 16, 2009

The Painful, Ugly Truth...and My Son

I had a message from Morgan today saying that she needed to tell me about the conversation she had with Nathan's teacher. You have to understand the fear this struck deep in my soul because - heaven help this boy - he is MY son! But I really thought we'd make it out of preschool before this started. Seriously!

Well, it turns out that what happened was Nathan's teacher began reading a story and talking about Santa Claus. Nathan at some point - burdened that all children be set free from tyranny and that the Lord had appointed him Paul Revere for his class - began telling everyone (excitedly I might add) that "there is no such thing as Santa! Christmas is Jesus's birthday!" This apparently made quite a few other 5 year olds upset. Their worldview had just been shaken to the core! 

[Pretty sure at this point Nathan was taken to a corner by one teacher while the other teacher did what we'll call "diplomatically rectifying the situation"]

This evening I will be looking for that open door to have a conversation with my son about tact and sensitivity and "letting other kids parents be the ones to break the bad news to them" when they deem it the right time. We'll talk about reserving that type of excitement for a time when the school is on fire or someone's about to walk in front of a moving bus. At the same time, there's a part of me that's proud - not that my son is a liberator, but that he is listening. 

One of the reasons we named him Nathan is out of great endearment for the prophet who called the King out in his sin. So I guess if my son's first "episode" in school is that he decided to call out the painful, ugly truth about the fat guy in the red suit.....I can live with that.

November 10, 2009

Act NOW!

Let's jump straight to the point: there are over 145 million orphans in this world. On this planet - the one that God created - there are millions of children - the ones that God created - who are fatherless, alone, abandoned...orphaned! 

Here are more numbers to chew on:

  • There are 100,000+ children in the US waiting & ready to be adopted & rescued
  • There are 300,000+ churches in the US
Don't these stats tell us that something can be done? That the people of God could be taking the lead at eradicating this crisis? 

God has made very clear His heart about this matter. All throughout scripture He reveals His mandate for WHAT and HOW His people should be responding to the timeless tragedy. James 1:27 tells us that "Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans...." In Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Proverbs, Amos...all through His Word He has mandated: My people will rescue the orphans!

So the million dollar question is: Why aren't we rescuing the orphans?
What are we doing as the Church to fulfill and pursue and bring hands and feet to the heart of God? This isn't a suggestion on His behalf, or some third-rate, low tier priority on His list. The call of God - the mission and message of Jesus Christ - is to bring His Kingdom to those who are lost - to rescue and defend and help the helpless.

Want to know how you can get involved? Want to refuse to be ignorant & apathetic any longer? Want to know what YOU can do to make a difference and an impact? Visit any of these organization's websites and BE the change:

NOW is the time for the Church to step forward, to forsake convenience with courage, and to rescue the helpless. Remember, YOU have been rescued! Forgotten? Spend some time meditating on these scriptures:

Colossians 1:13-14
Ephesians 1:3-8, 2:12-13
Romans 8:15-17

Act NOW!

November 2, 2009

Words Are Weapons

"Words are weapons, sharper than knives. Makes you wonder how the other half dies." - Michael Hutchence (INXS) from The Devil Inside.

James 3:2-10 tell us with brute force that our words - our tongue - can wreak havoc, destroy someone's reputation, ruin someone's day, and break a heart in two. Our WORDS ARE WEAPONS!

At the same time, there's a great possibility that we do more damage and destruction through the things we WON'T say. We don't want to further complicate things or make someone feel uncomfortable. We just refuse to be the one to humbly say, "I was wrong". It takes courage to speak up and love someone enough to refuse to remain silent any longer. Do you have courage?

If you missed the 1st message in our new series "Weapons", take a few minutes and listen:

Your WORDS ARE WEAPONS! The question is, what are you going to use them to fight against? Will we use them to encourage, affirm, confront, apologize, and breathe words of life.......or will we be a tool in the enemy's hand, and use our words to tear down, tear apart, and destroy? As followers of Christ, we must decide. Just remember, "Whatever is in your heart determines what you say." And it also determines what you DON'T say!

Dig Deeper:
Proverbs 10:31, 15:31, 17:10, 25:12, 27:5
Matthew 5:23-24
Luke 17:3, 6:45