May 29, 2011

Across the Pond

Hey friends! We made it across the big Pond. Spent a couple of days & nights in London. Walked a LOT. Rode the Underground everywhere. Saw "Stomp" (AMAZING, BTW!), the London Bridge (that didn't fall down), Big Ben, Parliament. You know - all the good stuff. Went to church this morning at Holy Trinity Brompton (where Tim Hughes leads worship). Caught the train back to Redhill today. Spending the next days with my brother and his family. Heading to the coast and taking lots of pictures. Much love!

May 24, 2011

The People of Walmart

As most everyone close to me knows, I have an allergy to Walmart. Actually, it's not really an allergy as much as it is a hatred. And sadly, I've never been able to fully explain the reasons why I would rather be gouged in the eye with an icepick than be to dragged into Roll Back hell. But today, I think I've found a way to further shed light on my prejudice. This pretty much says it all!

I hope to see you at Target.

May 19, 2011

Faith Breeds Fear

About 16 months ago I became friends with another pastor in my area. As we got to know each other, he began to realize that his church was reaching the eleventh hour of planting a new work just a few miles down the highway from our church campus. He called me and asked if we could go to lunch. When we sat down, he very graciously began explaining that he wanted to make sure I knew that their church wasn't trying to invade our territory or steal people away from us - that they very strongly believed in what the Lord was doing through us and our people and didn't want to take away from that. Understanding (and greatly respecting) the heart of what was being said and the one who was saying it, this is how I responded:

"If the Lord has very clearly laid on your heart - and the hearts of your people and your leaders - that He is calling you to step out in faith and start a new work here in this city, in that spot on the highway, who am I to judge this? If the Lord begins working in the heart of a new movement - stirring the hearts of people - and someone at my church feels drawn to be there, so be it. This isn't about territory, like it's the Oklahoma Land Rush. These are peoples' lives! This is about reaching the lost for the Kingdom of God. Plant that church!"

Just the other day I spoke to a friend who had recently begun to sense God calling him to be part of a new work - a church plant. When the Lord moves in this way, it's almost bizarre the range of reactions that come from different people. But particularly when church plants come out of an already existing church, there's always someone who's thinking - and some who are even voicing - "Well, what if so and so leaves and goes with them?" A sense of fear will always be knocking on someone's door, begging them to wonder and question how it's fair for these people to "steal" our members. I felt led to preemptively encourage my friend to make sure he was alert, prayerful, and discretionary about WHO he listened to and WHAT he would allow to be worth his attention. I gave him 2 words of caution:

Do NOT listen to anyone who speaks out of FEAR. Wisdom and discernment, spoken from the mouth of a Godly friend or mentor are completely different than words of fear spoken from someone who is too paralyzed to actually take the steps of faith that you're preparing to take. We have to be discerning of the motives of the people who give us advice. And...

Do NOT let anyone tell you that if what the Lord does through you takes people away from somewhere else that this is a bad thing. Yes, people leave churches all the time to go and be part of new works that the Lord is doing. This can be for several reasons. But any pastor, elder, deacon, or church member who claims the ownership of a person, and is more concerned with their continued "membership" than they are with that person pursuing the call of God and going where the Spirit is working and moving, is a toxic poisonous voice. God will ultimately silence them.

Here's what I know: When some step out in radical faith it causes others to tremble in paralyzing fear. To put it even more simply, FAITH BREEDS FEAR. This is why people like Joseph and Daniel and David had so many enemies. They were disrupting the comfort and complacency and (most importantly) the agendas of those around them. That's dangerous. Faith is dangerous!

As Christ-followers, we have to decide which one we will be. We have to determine if our lives are about our own agenda and comfort...or about His glory and His Kingdom. 

Is there an area of your life where the Lord may be asking you to step out in faith? Make sure you listen to His Spirit and His voice more than any other.

May 17, 2011

You're NEVER Going to ALWAYS Get It Right!

Sometimes parenting is hard. It stinks being the bad guy. Not only that, it really stinks to be the stupid bad guy! (Insert insecure, strong-willed, overly-independent 13-year old) But disciplining your kids - teaching them right and wrong, what's truth, and the realities of the consequences of bad decisions and mistakes - is part of the responsibility. A HUGE part! Some of you are doing this alone as single parents. You carry a great weight. I'm praying and hoping that you have a support system around you - that you have a church family to lean on and walk with you. But whether you're a single parent or you've been faithfully married for 25 years, one thing is true: You are never going to ALWAYS get it right! There are going to be times you make the wrong decision - jump to the wrong conclusion. You're going to yell instead of speak and discipline out of anger rather than calmly confront. You'll even have to go back to you kids every once-in-awhile and apologize. This isn't weakness. It's modeling humility. And so knowing that there's going to come a time that you may look back and wonder if making your son sit in the corner for 6 hours was a little excessive...or grounding them from using the bathroom might have been a bit overboard...I believe there are some things we can do as parents to discipline our kids the right way. Here are some thoughts:

Unity. If you & your spouse are still in this together, knowing that there are going to be times you get it wrong, the best thing you can do is be wrong together. Your kids need to see that Mom & Dad are a TEAM. They need to know that they can't undermine one of you or play both ends against the middle. It's needs to be clear that you are seeking the Lord's wisdom TOGETHER. The reason why teams start losing is because they stop being a team. They start operating as individuals. This can destroy a home!

Patience. I use this word only because I don't know how to describe the antithesis of Panic. I know that feeling, when your child does something and you're so overwhelmed with frustration that you feel like if you don't lower the whammy on them RIGHT NOW the world is going to come to an end! [Pause for deep breaths.] Stop fooling yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you saying to your son or daughter, "I need to go sit on the front porch and pray about how I'm going to respond to this decision you've made." There is zero weakness in telling them, "When your Mom gets home we're going to discuss what consequences you have to face because of this." Kids don't see this as weakness. In fact, they begin (even at a young age) to see the strength it must take for you to restrain yourself and calmly, patiently wait.

Communicate. Taking both of these mentioned above (and the countless other words of advice I've left out due to my own ignorance), there is no greater tool that we have as parents, friends, husbands and wives, than to communicate. Talk. Confess. Admit. Share. We have to let each other know our thoughts, feelings, fears, regrets, doubts, and desires. We can't sit on the sideline and expect our spouse to do all the work. Communicate! Turn off the TV and talk about how you're going to handle things...BEFORE they happen! Be preemptive. You were a kid once. And it wasn't during the Depression. Think back. You know some of the stupid things they're going to do and say. (Lord help me!) Start talking NOW about how you're going to deal with those bad decisions. Are there conversations you can begin having with your kids ahead of time to cut some of it off at the pass? Not talking about it isn't going to keep you from having to talk about it. It's going to happen. If your kids are human beings, they're going to mess up. And they may even do it with gusto! And your ignorance about it is not bliss; it's unacceptable! Communicate.

Those are my limited words of wisdom on the subject. 
What do you think? What other pieces of advice would you share?

May 11, 2011

God Wants to Rebuild...

In my city, in my neighborhood, just down the street, there's a church building. The building is really nothing to talk about. It's pretty plain and simple. But it did have a steeple. A very large steeple. And two weeks ago as I watched a tornado forming right over my house - standing paralyzed in my front window as the debris began circling the sky right in front of me - it turned north. And rather than destroying my house or ripping off my neighbor's roof, as if it was hungry and hunting something specific, it swooped down, grabbed the steeple off that church building, and tossed it to the ground like a piece of tin. And until last week, that sad steeple just laid there in the yard. Broken. Bruised. Tossed aside. And over the gigantic hole that was left in the roof is a blue tarp. An enormous blue tarp. A talking blue tarp. A blue tarp that says, "Don't you worry. I'm just temporarily filling in. I have no plans to stay. They're going to fix my friend the steeple. And they're going to make him bigger and stronger than ever! He'll be back. You'll see!"

As you drive across Alabama right now, through areas of wreckage and destruction, you'll find many church buildings just like the one down the street from me. Steeples ripped from the roofs. Brick and mortar swallowed, chewed up, and spit out. Buildings now on top of pews. And some of them - several of these church buildings - are just gone. And hopefully there are hundreds - even thousands - who have been reminded that their building was NOT the church. They are! That "their" pew and "their" seat and "their" whatever it was was actually never "theirs" in the first place. And that the steeple was a big, pointed, wooden image. That's all. We know this, right? I sure hope so. I'm praying so. And if it is so, I'm praying for a HUGE "What if...."

What if...churches everywhere, who are meeting right now to determine and figure out how to rebuild or replace that steeple instead decided to simply patch a hole and give that money for Kingdom purposes? 

What if...churches who are still sifting through the debris decided that rather than spending millions to completely rebuild a building...they could move into the old theater or strip club or grocery store and REDEEM that space?

What if...churches - you know, the actual PEOPLE OF GOD - decided to refuse to just do what comes instinctively, naturally, and comfortably...and determine to get on their faces and ask the Lord if He possibly has a much bigger plan? What might happen?

I am praying that Jesus Christ will set hearts on fire for His Kingdom in such a way that churches everywhere will begin seeking and searching for the heart of God like Nehemiah did - standing in the midst of the rubble. He was ready to rebuild, but more than that, he was desperate for God to be made known. 

God wants to rebuild those churches! He desires to redeem and restore lives.
But does He want to rebuild those buildings? Does He want to replace that steeple? I don't know. I can't answer that. But I'm praying that those responsible will ASK before they ACT.

May 5, 2011

Images of Destruction

Thought I would share some of the photos, images, and scenes from the devastation caused by the tornadoes that hit our area. If nothing else, I have learned over this last week that these awesome forces of nature do NOT discriminate! 

May 4, 2011

relief :: recovery :: restoration

It was one week ago today that a series of violent storms and tornadoes swept across Alabama and changed our lives. Almost 300 lives were lost. Almost 800 were seriously injured. Many of our church family were directly and indirectly affected. There has never been a greater opportunity for us to give of ourselves for the city! 

In light of this, we wanted to let you know of the opportunities you have to GIVE and to SERVE during this time of need. Every penny of offering we took in this week after paying the bills went straight to tornado disaster relief - to help families in our church like the Reeves (who lost their entire home) and the Cornwells (whose 15-year old daughter Katy was killed in one of the storms) as well as other families in our church and community. The needs are great and they are many! Because of this, we are partnering with Casey Graham ( and our friends at Crosspoint Church in Decatur to raise funds. Casey set out to raise $10K for relief. As of yesterday the amount had crested $100K! This next Sunday (5/8) we will GIVE 10% of our entire offering to the victims of this disaster. The website is God is moving and stirring people's hearts to give! Will you join us?
If you're looking for an opportunity to SERVE, we will be meeting at 8:00 AM every morning this week (5/2-5/6) at Capshaw Baptist Church to send out a group from The Brook. They will provide breakfast before we head out. If you can't make it at 8:00 AM we will regroup after lunch at 1:00 PM at Capshaw.  If you have skills with roofing, chainsaws, construction, or even just a strong back, we can use your help. You must be 18 or older. Please, do NOT show up in shorts and flip-flops. If you're coming to work, be dressed and ready to work! For more info contact Randy Silver: 256-527-8116. 

If you would like to donate basic staple items please check this list at Inside-Out Ministries or contact Deborah Ward: 256-325-5193. We encourage you to give generously and serve wholeheartedly as we walk through this rebuilding together.