My Halloween ritual

It’s that time again.

Halloween is just right around the corner.  Every year, I try and watch some scary movies and enjoy maybe one or two scary books (this year I am trying to read through the Shining and maybe one or two others).  This is a little quirk of mine that I have had since high school.  I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart but honestly I love getting scared because it shows me that this world is not all there is but I know some who cannot handle it so go watch Hocus Pocus if that is you.

The worst year for Halloween exploration was my sophomore year when I saw the Exorcist for the first time.  I talked to many people and asked, especially parents and older people because you know – they’ve been around the block – what is the scariest movie that they have ever seen?  Most said the Exorcist so that is what I decided to tackle the week before Oct. 31.

Quick note about the Exorcist – my dad said that he saw it in college and had to walk about 2 miles home from the movie theater in Boone.  I don’t know if that is one of those 15 miles in the snow stories but it always stuck with me.  I don’t think I could walk 2 miles in the dark after this movie or many others.  He had buddies so that is why I guess he survived.

I decided to do this on my own because my-then girlfriend and lame friends were not up to the task.  I happened to do it on a dark night, and all alone mind you.  Stupid mistake because I have a strong imagination and things started making noises around our house and I started to see things and hear things.  It freaked me out.  Also I wasn’t a Christian at that point, so I assumed that anyone who did not call upon King Jesus was easy prey for the demons of the day.

I was scared so much.  I don’t remember sleeping that night.  But the next day I was fine.

Being scared reminds me of spiritual warfare.  I don’t see demons on a regular basis but I know that they are all around us working.  But so are angels.  All I’m saying is that scary movies make me realize the depravity and sin that is so rampant in the world.

Halloween is also one of my favorite holidays because tons of people come over to our house and we can get to chat for a little bit and possibly hand out flyers so we can invite them to our church. I have read recently that this is the only time of year where non-Christians will come to a saved person’s house.  That is cool.  Not just because I think I have a lot of hope to share but because I can start a relationship with someone that could have eternal consequences.

Halloween excites me.  Not just because I like to be scared.  But because I like the opportunities that trick or treating presents to me and my friends.

What kind of ritual do you have for Halloween?

Outlive your Life by Max Lucado

I have been moving through a ton of books this year and I fastly approaching my goal of 100 books for the year.

The latest book that I read is one that has truly excited me and I wanted to share it with you.  It is Max Lucado’s Outlive your Life.

Just like his other books, this one is a quick read.  I highly recommend it.  I usually like his books and this one did not disappoint.  In fact, I believe that it might be his best book in a number of years.  He takes his readers through the book of Acts in a unique way.

Acts is probably my favorite book of Scripture and he opens it a new and fresh way.  Not like a commentary but more just stories from his life which demonstrate the beginning of the church in a practical way.

I wanted to say so much about this book but I have such a short amount of time available  Here is my favorite quote.  It is a prayer that ends the book but I believe it contains so much passion that I just wanted to let you see it in its entirety.
Here it is:

O Lord,  where did I see you yesterday… and didn’t recognize you?  Where will I encounter you today…and fail to identify you?  O my Father, give me eyes to see, a heart to respond, and hands and feet to serve you wherever you encounter me!  Transform me, Lord, by your Spirit into a servant of Christ, who delights to meet the needs of those around me.  Make me a billboard of your grace, a living advertisement for the riches of your compassion.  I long to hear you say to me one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  And I pray that today I would be that faithful servant who does well at doing good.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

He also ends up quoting Matthew 25:34-36 in the NLT.   One of the best representations for loving those who are the least in our society.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'” (Matthew 25:34-36)

Great book.  4 out of 5 stars.

set list 10.17.10

I am late posting this but here are the songs from this past Sunday (10.17.10):

Mighty to Save (Hillsong)
This is one of my favorite worship songs because it declares that Jesus is God and that he has the power to bring us out of sin and into a powerful relationship with Him that can change the world.

Jesus Paid it all (Hymn redone by Alex Nifong & others)
Alex Nifong from North Point did a fantastic job with writing a bridge (O praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead) that exudes passion and makes me want to charge the gates of hell with the wonderful love of Jesus.  I am also happy with how this turned out on Sunday because Tommy and I did a more piano driven version which turned out really sweet.

How He loves (John Mark McMillan)
Tommy did a fantastic job leading us in worship through this song.  I could feel the words that JMM come forth from his heart.  “Love like a hurricane I am a tree.”

God who answers prayer (Elevation)
Elevation Church is quickly becoming one of my favorite worship teams and their new cd is fantastic.  Check out on iTunes.  But this song is from their second cd and is one of my favorites.  “Bless the Lord with all that’s within/O my soul, I cry out with all that I am make me whole/ here I stand, I place all my hope in you/my healer will see me through”.  

It and the Franciscan benediction

I just finished re-reading It: How Churches and Leaders can get It and keep It by Craig Groeschel and I was fascinated by his thoughts on trying to stay focused on Jesus as a church and ministry.  In the book he mentions that he has 3 prayers that he goes through each day.

Stretch me.
Ruin me.
Heal me.

These are prayers that I am going to focus on from now on because when I am stretched, ruined, and healed, then I am on the right path to being used for God’s glory.

But what got me even more excited about this book was the benediction he includes to close out his book.  I have attached it here so you can see the passion that God is calling us to live out in our everyday lives.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and the exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, and starvation, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Principle #5 to starting a church

On Saturday, I started sharing what I believe are my principles to starting a church.  This week I wanted to focus on each principle in a little more detail.

Today is about the last of the 5 principles that I am sharing with you.  It is communicating clearly the message of God for serving our community and building up our church.

This one is my favorite because it is a new one for me.  I worked on all of the other principles in previous ministry opportunities but communication has never been one of my emphasizes before.  I am not sure why this was but I know that churches struggle with it.  There have been a lot of times in every ministry that I have been a part of where some people were not on the same page.  I wish to get rid of the communication that leads to others being lost.

This principle ensures that we are here to reach the lost but also to inform those who are lost in communication. Sometimes we can say things in a way that we feel is clear yet leave them scrabbling in confusion and a lack of understanding. This should not be.  We need to communicate in a way that all can understand.

I love that God has called me to this position and I know that I will leave others behind at points but it is my desire to speak clearly, abundantly, and audaciously about the work that our church is doing.

Once again, here are my 5 principles to starting a church:

  1. The Gospel is the focus
  2. Building up a few men through consistent discipleship
  3. Showing students that they are not just the future leaders of the church but the current leaders
  4. Worship in a true and unique fashion
  5. Communicating clearly the message of God for serving our community  and building up our church

What would you add or take away?  Any thoughts on any of the principles that you have not yet expressed?  What principles would you emphasize if you were starting a church?

Principle #4 to starting a church

On Saturday, I started sharing what I believe are my principles to starting a church.  This week I wanted to focus on each principle in a little more detail.

Today I will be sharing my thoughts on worship in a true and unique fashion.

As I said on Saturday, we at 24/7 wish to lead others into worship in a fresh and experiential way that changes lives and supports the ministry of the Word.  We want to express our own stories because we want to convey what God is doing here and now not simply what others are experiencing.

We believe that worship must be true to our community.  We will not be copying another church simply because other churches have some good things going on.  We will focus on the great things that God is calling us to.

We desire to write our own songs to communicate our own stories but we also want to convey the true statements contained in Scripture.  There is so much truth found in the Church as a whole but we wish to contribute to those great statements of faith throughout history.

What ways do you find encouraging to you if you are writing songs for your church?  What kind of ways do you go about choosing songs for Sunday morning?  What other characteristics does worship in your church take?

Principle #3 to starting a church

On Saturday, I started sharing what I believe are my principles to starting a church.  This week I wanted to focus on each principle in a little more detail.

Today I wanted to focus on showing students that they are not just the future leaders of the church but the current leaders.

I believe in this one a lot.  Students seem to get a bad rap sometimes.  I don’t think churches do enough to encourage students to serve.  For me, this will not be the case.

I want to empower the students to bring the Gospel to their own friends.  They don’t have to bring their friends to an authority figure in order to lead them to Christ.  They are the royal priesthood of Christ.  They are more than conquerors themselves.

I am not sure how this will look but I want the students to take more initiative than their parents.  Most revivals did not start with the parents but with the kids.  What a glorious example to see the young leading the old to Christ.  Let us unite our generations for the glory of God and the saving of our world.

What ways do you see the youth leading at your church?  How does one grow a youth ministry in this fashion?  Are you aware of any examples of youth ministries living out this principle?