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!

Christian Music Industry Shows its out of Touch with Local Church

I was disappointed when I read in the newspaper that the Dove Awards (Christian Music’s most prestigious award ceremony) will be held on Wednesday, April 21, 2010.    The Christian Music industry demonstrates in this schedule  a great disregard about it’s local fan base in Middle Tennessee which attends Wednesday night church.  I know there is nothing sacred or Biblical about Wednesday night church, but you would think a struggling Christian music industry would want to recognize the cultural customs of their most important audience.  This is especially true of teenagers who attend weekly youth services that overwhelmingly take place on Wednesday nights.

The Christian music industry was a big part of my discipleship process when I was growing up, so I desire to see it succeed.   However, young people today are not going to automatically listen to music because it is “Christian” like my generation did.   Instead, the artists must create a fan base by personal involvement that create bonds with fans.   Christian artist can’t expect to “produce it, and they will listen.”   Instead, they need to build bridges with local churches again that will make their music more meaningful at the grass-roots.   This small decision to have the Dove Awards on Wednesday afternoon (4:00 pm) is indicative of a larger issue – the Christian music industry is out of touch with the local church.

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?