For or Against?

When Jesus came to earth He was surrounded by a culture of religion that chose to speak more about what they were AGAINST than what they were FOR. This attitude oppressed the people of Jesus culture and He came to set creation free.

Jesus offered this freedom by speaking more about what He was FOR than what He was AGAINST.

He was FOR love. He was FOR peace. He was FOR  grace.

No doubt it’s often easier to fight AGAINST something than it is to fight FOR something but I would argue more of us need to realize it’s worth the extra effort. People on the outside of church tend to see us as a divisive group of people who, although playing on the same team, rarely seem to agree. In honesty, I believe most of us who claim to follow Jesus have more that unites us than divides us but we yell louder about the things we don’t agree on.

Before Jesus left this earth He prayed those of us would choose to follow Him would experience oneness with one another (John 17:21). If we want God to answer this prayer, I believe we need to do a better job of telling people what we stand FOR instead of yelling at them about what we’re AGAINST.

Thoughts to ponder…

CV

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JUST BE REAL!

Last week at Centerpoint an individual whom I greatly respect shared his personal journey through divorce. His divorce was triggered by an affair. His two girls, 10 and 12 at the time, were thrown into the midst of it and ended up with baggage of their own because of his mistake. He was on a journey to pastor and lost just about everything. He shared the whole messy story and people were healed because he was real.

Many of us in this postmodern, relevant church movement with our organic coffee, hip bands, and polished services can to easily forget that authenticity is what people ultimately hope to find at our churches. They want to know and see that we, just like them, are sinners in need of a Savior.

Sunday was an incredible reminder to me of what God can do when we decide to just be real. I believe the church needs more of those Sunday’s and it starts with those of us who lead. If we can’t admit our flaws and regrets than how can we expect anyone in our communities to do the same? God can take our mess and turn it into something beautiful but we have to confess it first. 

You can listen to last week’s sermon from Centerpoint and guest speaker Rick Tripp HERE

Remembering to Laugh

In order to promote an upcoming sex and marriage series at Centerpoint, two of our best creatives (Wes Molebash & Johnny Ropple) created a series of 4 short films to compare and contrast the fairytale version of marriage vs. its reality. All 4 of the videos were hilarious but the one I’ve posted above was my favorite.

Proverbs 17:22 reminds us that a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. I think it’s easy for those of us in the church to get so involved with our routines, structure and plans that we forget to laugh. The Gospel is a serious topic but life is funny and God created us with the ability to laugh at the funny moments of life.

I believe those of us in church must realize that laughter helps people un-cross their arms and open their hearts. May we live with the joy God has placed in our hearts & may we learn it’s ok to laugh when life sends something funny our way.

Sex. Marriage. Church.

God created sex and marriage. No matter what you might have heard, neither were created simply for the sake populating the earth. He created sex so we could experience pleasure and He created marriage so we would have a visible reminder on earth of the heavenly love He has for His church. The problem is, our view of sex is distorted and the state of marriage is broken. We’ve taken two wonderful things and messed them up.

I often wonder if the church is more to blame for this than anyone else? God wrote the book on sex and marriage but have we engaged it in an authentic way? The divorce rate within the church is almost the same (50%) as  it is outside the church and nearly the same percentage of people in the church say they are addicted to porn. God gave us the guide but we clearly aren’t following it. I wonder if it’s not being followed because it’s not being taught?

There’s a positive wave in many churches today to refocus on giving a Biblical perspective on the issues of sex and marriage. The Bible is real about these issue and those of us who are spiritually leading others have to be real about these issues as well. These are vital parts of our society and they affect the way we view God’s creation and ultimately, the way view God. Sex and marriage are redeemable but it must start and end with God. His way is the best way.

As we approach this topic yet again at Centerpoint I have emotions that range from excited to apprehensive but my prayer is that hope will reign. Hope for the broken. Hope for the abused. Hope for the lost. God’s love is the only thing that can restore and redeem but people can’t experience what they have not seen and heard. May those of us who lead be willing to engage the hardest issue facing our society knowing that God has the answers.

CV

Sex, Marriage & Fairytales starts Sunday at Centerpoint

For the Regulars, the Sporadics & the First Timers

Many of us, from a variety of backgrounds, will attend church to celebrate Easter this Sunday. 

  • Some of us will be regular attenders.
  • Some of us will be sporadic attenders.
  • Some of us will be first timers.
  • The regulars might be sporadic because think they’ve already found the perfect church.
  • The sporadics might be sporadic because they have yet to find the perfect church.
  • The first timers might be first timers because they’ve avoided imperfect people who act like they’re perfect.

The issue with ALL of this is that many people, from each group, are focusing on the wrong thing. The perfect church is a myth. It’s an urban legend at best and we would be wise to shift our focus elsewhere if we ever want to experience an authentic connection with God. As many of us prepare to attend church this Sunday, here are a some thoughts to ponder:

  • For the Regulars: Get involved in more than filling a seat. Love your church but love God more. People will let you down but God’s love never fails.
  • For the Sporadics: It’s time to end your endless search. Stop trying to find a perfect place that doesn’t exist and get planted in a place that will help you grow relationally and spiritually.
  • For the First Timers: You might have been unwilling to give the church a chance but give God a chance . Let God guide you to a church that will admit their imperfections and help you grow.

It’s All About Who You Know

My dad used to remind me all the time that it’s not always what you know in life but who you know that often matters. Although I’ve seen this to be true in multiple facets of my life nowhere has it been more true than in the world of church planting.

What most people don’t realize is that Centerpoint was initially launched without a true support network in place. We had a lot of people praying for us & we had some people who gave generously to our cause. Believe it or not though, it takes more than prayer & money to plant a church & make it work. At the core of what it takes is a support network filled with people who are ready to help you navigate the trenches of the vision God has called you to fulfill.

For Centerpoint, that support network came from ARC (Association of Related Churches)  & thankfully, God led us to them before I had the chance to mess things up too much. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us that plans often fail because we don’t seek counsel but the support & advice of others brings success. I type this blog as I prepare to depart for ARC’s annual All Access Conference. I am humbled by what they have meant to Centerpoint over the past 2.5 years & I’m being completely honest when I say that we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing, the way we are doing it, without their network of support.

God has called all of us to complete something & even with the knowledge, we must find the support that offers perspective & insight to make it work the way God wants it to work. That support usually comes from others we come know. Life was never meant to be lived alone & even when God stirs the soul of an individual to act, it most often takes a lot of individuals to help make that dream a reality. Learn to value who you know more what you know on the path towards fulfilling your journey. Knowledge can leave you lonely but relationships will sustain you.

Dream Big.

Find Support.

Watch it Grow.

The NEXT Step

Every one of us hits an inevitable crossroad in our journey of life.

Maybe things didn’t work out as well as we thought they would.

Maybe they worked out better.

Maybe they’re still working on working. 

Whatever the case might be, most crossroads require us to make a significant decision. Making the right decision requires faith in God yet this is the part a lot of us miss. In an effort to seek independence we can push God out of the equation. In my young life, I have learned that a decision at a crossroad is much better made with God then without Him.

God opens doors that no one else can.

God shuts doors He’d rather we not walk through.

God gives us the favor only He can give. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 is a Scripture I read often to remind me that my life is better in God hands than it is in my own. The NEXT Step, at any crossroad in life, is to seek God with everything we have & trust that His wisdom will light our path. Whatever crossroad you find yourself at, keep God in the equation & watch Him show-up & do incredible things!

CV

 

What My Princess Has Taught Me

It doesn’t seem possible that 4-years ago today Kristyn & I were welcoming our first child into the world. From the moment Aubri was born, she had my heart. She’s daddy’s princess & she knows it. Other men told me my life & perspective would forever change by having a daughter but it’s something you can’t understand until it happens.

Looking back over the past 4-years what stands out to me is how much Aubri has taught me. I’m the parent. I’m supposed to do the teaching but anyone with kids knows that’s not always how it works.

I thought I’d celebrate Aubri today but sharing 4 profound lessons she’s taught me over her first 4-years of life. Something tells me these lessons won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Lesson 1: Love is an issue of the heart. I know I’m biased but I’ve never met a sweeter girl than Aubri. She is most often generous. She is most often kind. She is most often more thoughtful of others than she is herself. Two Christmases ago she decided to package one of her newest dolls into a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. You can read that blog post here. Her thinking was that she had a lot of dolls & this doll would make another little girl very happy. Her thinking was right & I’ve never been more proud as a parent. Aubri has rarely had a hard time expressing her love for others because her heart is so pure. When our heart is in the right place, love comes naturally.

Lesson 2: The best parts of life are the simple things. Last week Kristyn & I had a parent teacher conference recapping Aubri’s first year of pre-school so far. They showed us a list of questions they asked Aubri during her first week of school. One of those questions asked what Aubri’s favorite thing to do was. Her response? Going to Kroger with my daddy. I almost fell apart right in the room! We’ve been to the beach, gone to movies, visited Disney World & the thing that stood out most to Aubri, in that moment, was going to Kroger with me. I think we’d all do well to find joy in the simple things of life. We might have more memories waiting for us than we realize.

Lesson 3: Grace isn’t that hard when we really want to extend it. Over a year ago I told a story on this blog about how I screwed up as a parent & lost my temper. I yelled, Aubri cried & I washed my mouth out with soap to show the kids how serious our words & actions are. It was Aubri, the one I had hurt the most in that moment, who extended grace to me & told me she loved me. She really wanted to extend grace & when we really want to extend grace it’s not as hard as we often make it.

Lesson 4: Grateful attitudes make the world a brighter place. This morning Kristyn & I woke-up Aubri up by singing happy birthday to her. She hugged us, thanked us & told us how much she loved us. We went downstairs & made her pancakes & sausage (her favorite breakfast). Before she’d even taken a bite she thanked us for the best birthday ever & it was only 8am. There is rarely a time where Aubri isn’t openly grateful about almost everything others do for her & it makes me want to do anything for her knowing she’ll notice & appreciate it. A grateful attitude shines like a light in this dark world & many of us would do well to practice it more.

Happy Birthday to my Beautiful, Wonderful Princess!


Is the church like Simon Says

We sit, we stand.

We sing, we pray.

We sit again, we give.

We laugh, we cry.

We pray again, we go home.

No matter how different a church service may look, and how we as pastors & creatives might try to spin our unique approach, many of them are made up of similar rituals & elements. These rituals & elements aren’t bad but if we don’t know WHY we do them we can find ourselves following the commands & going through the motions of religion that ends up resembling a game of Simon Says.

I grow more & more convinced that this is one of the biggest reasons people minimize the importance of church in their life. They don’t know WHY we do the things we do & if we’re not careful, religion instead of relationship is ultimately encouraged.

I believe people crave genuine relationships & authentic life change but in order to find it, we must get past the exterior & tap into the WHY behind the WHAT. Why do we sing? Why do we reflect? Why do we serve? Why do we gather? As leaders, it’s easy to take these things for granted but in a world jaded by a list of religious do’s & dont’s we would do well to explore the WHY ourselves & then communicate it with our people. It’s all about getting back to the relationship & WHY is where it starts. 

CV

Centerpoint’s new series Simon Says starts Sunday March 11th. 

It Doesn’t Just Happen!

 

Last night I stood with a crowded room full of people as our worship leader (Josh Strange) & the CP Band kicked-off our first Collide of 2012. Collide is a quarterly worship event at Centerpoint we started last year & it’s had a growing amount of  success in it’s first 3 rounds.

Josh is an incredible worship leader & he’s help develop a talented band behind him. Everyone of these guys are as humble as can be & although they refuse to tout themselves I talk them up all the time because they’re that good. Last night people left saying the same types of things they say every week after the bands done with their set:

Wow that was great! 

Man they’re good!

Unbelievable!

Inevitably someone always says something like: “How did they get so good?” The tendency can be to over spiritualize this answer and although their God given skill & anointing has a lot to do with why they’re good I would argue it’s not not the main reason. These guys are good because of HARD FREAKING WORK! They rehearse 4-5hrs. every week to do a 4-5 song set on Sunday. They’re the first ones in the building & the last ones out. In preparation for last night’s Collide, they were rehearsing until after 1am the night before. That’s how they got so good.

I don’t care what your skill is. I don’t care how anointed you are. If you want to be great at what you do you have to put in the time because greatness doesn’t just happen. I believe God has placed a great deal of  world changers on this earth but unless we put in the time we will never see the full potential of greatness he has for us.

Thoughts to ponder…

CV