Rupp Arena Falls Short In One Area

As a sports enthusiast, my trip to Rupp Arena (where the Kentucky Wildcats play their home basketball), met all expectations.  A big thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law Debbie for giving us her season tickets (fantastic seats!)

– The fans were loud and enthusiastic, yet classy
– The arena oozed with history
– The atmosphere was basketball-focused – a sophisticated basketball crowd.
– The athletes were incredible
– Patrick Patterson (my favorite Wildcat) had 23 points
– The uniquely talented DeMarcus Cousins dominated as usual
– The acrobats of John Wall were fun to watch
– And Downy (#2) for South Carolina, displayed amazing skills

So even though Rupp met my expectations (and I look forward to returning), here is where it fell short . . .

There is nothing in the world, like being with God’s people in His presence!  No earthly experience compares to that!

Calendar Update for Easter Season

I know with it being cold right now, it’s hard to think about Easter.   However, there are some exciting opportunities for you to make your Easter more meaningful that I want you to put on your calendar:

March 27                       Easter Egg Hunt
March 28                       Palm Sunday
March 31 – April 2     Stations of the Cross prayer time in sanctuary
April 2                            Good Friday Service (7:00 p.m.)
April 4                            Easter Service

Atheists Attack Minister’s Income

In this morning’s Tennessean (Nashville’s major newspaper),  there is an article about an atheist group who is suing the federal government over minister’s “housing allowance.”    The housing allowance is a tax break for ministers that has existed since the 1920’s.    It doesn’t appear that this is a legitimate threat, but this article highlights an issue you may not be aware of.   I know this tax break has been very useful to me, especially since a minister is considered “self-employed” by the IRS, so we have to pay our own self-employment tax.    If you want to learn more about this issue, read the article here.

Valentine’s Message for Singles

If your single, don’t feel like you are missing out on Valentines.  God has a plan for your life, and it very well could include a future marriage.  However, your life is great with or without a mate.  God has a plan for you as an individual, and today is the day to embrace that.

So many people who have married simply to have a spouse, and have not waited for a good mate, have regretted their short-sited decision.   It’s much worse to be in a bad marriage then it is to have temporary times of loneliness as a single.  If you do marry someday, you will look back on all the wasted energy you spent fretting over your singleness with regret.  In fact, there may be some days you will actually miss the solitude and simplicity of being single.  Singleness is a gift, not a disease.

So whether your single or married, let’s make this Valentines about God.   As we realize that He is the fulfillment of our deepest desires, then our current or future romantic love will mean more!

If any of you have encouraging words for singles, leave a comment.

Romance is a drug. Marriage is a Commitment.

Valentines is a difficult holiday for most people.   It is a time of the year in which many people feel there is something missing in their life.

– A teenager feels like the only one without a date
– A single adult feels like they’re missing a life partner
– A married person feels like they are missing a “special romance” in their stale marriage.

We live under the illusion that romantic love is the greatest companionship we will ever experience.   At the beginning of our romance, it does release endorphins.   Your brain is flooded with endorphins (‘feel-good’ chemicals); you are literally on drugs.   But that temporary euphoria leaves, and its commitment and a covenant to God that last forever.

I have been married for almost 12 years, I am learning more and more what it means to  love my wife with God’s love.    Beth and I have had challenges in our journey, but our marriage is stronger than it has ever been.   As we take steps for God to be the focus of our marriage, then our relationship thrives.

So whether you’re single or married, don’t let romance be your ultimate goal.   Enjoy all the wonderful feelings that come with romance with your spouse or Christian dating, but remember that a commitment before God is what will bring you long-term happiness in a relationship.

What are your thoughts?

When should you go to two services?

There is no right answer, because that is dependent on every church.

Here are some general guidelines:

1.    When your people are ready to grow. When people care more about personal preference than growing the church, you’re not ready.

2.    When a church is healthy. If the church is divided spiritually, a physical separation could be very harmful.

3.    When there is enough mass. You can discuss percentages, breaking points and all types of numerical truths.  However, when it’s not embarrassing to have two services in your space, then it’s time to split.  (Note: lots of churches, including Elevation Church in Charlotte, have been successful at draping off part of their sanctuary during multiple services that have lower attendance).

4.  When you know how to manage a service.
If your people aren’t used to tight, efficient (but powerful) services, then they will have a hard time adjusting.  Some people equate powerful services with lengthy services.   To counter this incorrect mindset, I started increasing our efficiency in our one service months before we split to two.  This helped people adjust their expectations, and it helped our programming team and altar team adjust accordingly.

5.  When God says so. I had felt for months that God wanted us to make this move, but there were always pros and cons.   Ultimately, as the leader of this flock I had to obey God’s leading.   With all the different voices on multiple services, don’t forget to hear the ultimate voice.  What does God want you to do?

Two Service Report at CIL

I wanted to give a quick update on the effects of two services at CIL.   Since we have had two weeks of two services (we’re not counting the “snow Sunday”), we have seen a sharp increase in attendance (30 %).   There has been some double-counting, but we still have had quite an increase in visitors and new members.   Here are some reasons I see that this has been so successful for CIL:

1.  We already had signs we were trending upward with our December and early January attendance.

2.  We sent a letter to our entire mailing list re-inviting people to the church.

3.   Having two options (9:30 and 11:15) gives us a better opportunity to catch people in their complex schedules.

4.  The option to have some people “Worship one, Serve one” has allowed us to do more ministry.  Offering two distinct children experiences, continuing our Christian Growth class, Men’s Bible Study and a Youth class has allowed more opportunity for people’s needs to be met.

Please pray with me that God will help us continue this positive momentum, so we can continue to reach people for Christ.

Mac Richard’s Blog on Being Judgmental

Here is a timely, and excellent article from my friend Mac Richard.  I couldn’t say it any better, so hear it from Mac . . .


from Mac Richard by Mac Richard–

The army of God is the only one who shoots its own wounded.

That statement hits just a little too close to home. Not because of wrongs I’ve suffered or wounds I’ve received, though. It hits so close because of wrongs I’ve committed and wounds I’ve inflicted. I’ve done it: Judging another person by deciding in my own mind what their motives, insecurities, and intentions are based solely on what they do.

When God chose David as the second king of Israel, he told Samuel during the vetting process that it’s people who judge by appearances, but God examines the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Whenever I have judged exclusively by externals, I’ve noticed that I’m excluding several significant internal realities:

  1. The actual heart condition of the other person. Jeremiah 17:9 says that no one can understand the heart. That’s God’s job.
  2. Hurt people hurt people. Whenever someone lashes out or attacks someone else for no reason they are responding out of their own woundedness. MONSTER CAVEAT: Explaining their attack in NO WAY excuses it.
  3. It’s possible–just possible–that I don’t have all the facts. Maybe, just maybe, that person has genuinely prayed and sought God’s heart and is following the leading God gave her. Maybe, there’s a calling on her life that I can’t or haven’t yet considered that would explain why she does what she does.
  4. Judging others’ judgmentalism is…oh, what’s the word?…judgmental! I can get haughty in a hurry when I’ve been wronged or someone close to me has been wronged.
  5. The task of judging others has already been assigned–and I didn’t get the gig. God promises that He will set everything to rights. He will account for every injustice, from the Holocaust to my haughtiness and everything in between.
  6. Judging others wastes time that I will be held accountable for what I DO with it. A lot of people don’t yet know Jesus and the extravagance of his love. What in the world am I doing wasting a nano-second on a job that’s not mine? Lives are at stake.

Tomorrow, I’ll post about judgmentalism’s beautiful cousin that is separated by a very, very fine line: discernment.

Where do you see judgmentalism rear its hideously ugly, green head in your life?