This question has been bandied around the internet a lot lately, especially since the shooting in Orlando. Often people are either ill-informed or just being run by their emotions when they comment on this, either for or against, on social media and I’m assuming when talking/discussing it with their friends.
As I pondered this post all of the standard answers began to flood my mind, and I sifted through all of the arguments both pro and con, processing just how I would address this, but none of these seem sufficient to truly answer the question. You see almost all of the posts that I have read deal with the physical death, torture, treatment of women, etc… These things are indeed horrific, but the Scripture tells us this:
Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. – Luke 12:4 NLT
This is an interesting statement by Jesus is it not?! His focus was not on the stuff of earth, because the stuff of earth is temporary. Jesus clarifies his meaning in the very next verse:
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. – Luke 12:5 NLT
He makes it very clear that the after-life or eternity is what we should concern ourselves with. That the temporary difficulties, struggles, pain, and hardship of this life are just that, temporary. He is challenging us to look past this life and ask the question, ‘What then?’
Taking that context let’s look at what Islam teaches about how you get to go to heaven and how you have a relationship with God. According to an official Islamic site, here is how you get to ‘Paradise’:
There are multiple ways to attain the pleasure of Allah SWT and enter His Jannah. Allah SWT has made it easy for us to enter His Jannah but some of us forget this due to an ‘attachment’ to this temporary worldly life!
Following are some hadiths which will show us 25 ways or good deeds to enter the Jannah. Remember, these are not the ‘only’ 25 ways and there should be ‘sincerity’ and ‘consistency’ in these acts to get Jannat-ul-Firdause InshaAllah. – OrbitIslam
So, Islam teaches that there are ‘multiple’ ways to get into Paradise, there is not only one way; that it is dependent upon us to do these deeds; and that paradise can be lost if we fall short.
The Bible teaches that there is only one way to get into Heaven, that it is not dependent on us but what Jesus Christ did, and that once we receive this salvation we can never lose it. The Bible teaches that God has won our salvation and made ‘peace with mankind’ through the death of his son Jesus Christ paying the price for our sin. But, the peace he has won is 0nly effective once we accept Jesus Christ, in essence sign the peace agreement with God.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. – Colossians 1:20-22 NLT
So, if Islam teaches that Jesus Christ is not the way to God, then all those who follow Islam do not have a relationship with God, and are not at peace with God. They have the full weight of the wrath and judgment of God upon their shoulders, and when their life ends they do not enter into his rest, but into his judgement…if Islam rejects the peace of God and leaves it’s followers standing in the way of God’s judgement, how could it possibly be a religion of peace?
Does this mean that God hates them, wants them dead, or that a muslim could never find salvation in Christ, well that’s a big fat NO!
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.- 2 Peter 3:9 NLT
Islam doesn’t teach it’s followers how to make peace with God, but God has not given up hope that some, maybe many, will turn to him, receive his grace, and enjoy his peace!
As news of the shooting in Orlando first began to trickle out, the information was incredibly, and in some ways still is, limited. Initially it was just a night club, no other real specifics came out. As the networks began to get additional information it was released that it was a gay bar, and that the shooter had specifically targeted them because of it. I wonder how many people internally had a change or even just a shift of emotions because of this revelation?
Some have even come out and expressed their feelings, suggesting that this was just ‘retribution’ or judgement of some kind from God. Others have hypothesized that ‘had they not been in that environment’ they’d still be alive today. Now, I can say with great certainty that I am far from being the most sensitive individual on the planet, but this strikes me as an egregious violation of a clear command from God to love others, and even if you see them as your ‘enemies’ for some reason, the Bible articulates that we are to ‘love our enemies’.
Death, in whatever form, is sorrowful. The link that we have as living being with others is a deep and meaningful thing, that when broken causes deep sadness and an emptiness in the lives of those left behind. But, when death comes so abruptly and violently the pain is sharper, deeper, and more distinct. Today across the United States families are grieving, friends are hurting, and the entire Orlando community is in shock. This was not a judgement from God, but the sin laced choices of a man who’s mind was warped with the hate of a man-made religion bent on world domination. (You may not like that last sentence, but that’s really to bad, because at it’s core that’s exactly what Islam is and it makes no prevention about it.)
More than 50 people entered into eternity the other night, my heart grieves. I pray for their families, I pray that those left behind seek out the truth and hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ, and that those who claim to know him, would act like him!
This last week I began a new series entitled MANifesto, you can watch the first message here: Part 1. I’m really excited about this series because it hits an area that I feel passionate about, and that is calling men to be men, period! Our culture, our world, and even ‘religion’ is doing everything it can to de-men, men. The reason behind all of this is that when men are men it often makes people uncomfortable. As men we like doing difficult things, we like doing things that are dangerous, scary, messy, dirty, and yes reckless.
The definition of reckless is ‘doing something and being unconcerned about the potential outcome or cost’. Part of the reason that men have walked away from church and God is because over the last 5-7 decades the church-world has declawed Christianity. It’s been made safe and predictable, comfortable even. We sit is soft chairs, listen to simple/boring messages that tell us that Jesus loves us and be nice to each other, as we sing wispy songs that talk about loving another man…yeah that’s not something I see guys standing in line for!
It’s way past time that we reclaim the genuine masculinity of the faith. The faith of a mighty leader like Moses, a brilliant general like Joshua, a fiery preacher like Elijah, a rough fisherman like Peter, and a skilled carpenter like Jesus! Men, God has big, brilliant, terrifying, un-safe plans for your life, but unless you pursue him recklessly your faith will be about as dangerous as a declawed kitten…it’s time we become wild lions!
It has been my privilege to travel to dozens of countries around the world, some of you
have traveled less, and others like my father who has been in almost 100 countries, have traveled more. As I’ve chatted over the years with those who extensively travel abroad, especially to third world countries, there is a common refrain that I hear, “I’m so thankful to have been born an American!”
In years past you would hear that far more often than you do today. Unfortunately, for many, the idea of being an American is something that is almost shameful or at best we ‘should’ feel guilty because we’ve enjoyed such freedoms. This thinking lies directly in the attitude that we have more, therefore it must have come at the expense of others. This is an incredibly limited and naive view, and one that has almost zero fact based in real history. The United States of America has never entered a war as an aggressor or for the purpose of colonizing, like many countries did in the 1400’s-1800’s. Every war that we have ever engaged in was because either we were attacked or we were coming to the defense of others. Do I agree with all of them, probably not; neither do I agree with how each of them was conducted, but that is not the point here.
The freedom that was won by our forefathers did not come cheaply nor has it remained without great cost. This day, Memorial Day, is set aside, not for us to hang out with friends, drink beer, and eat brats (not bad just not the point). This day was set aside for each of us as citizens of this great country, to pause and be thankful. To be thankful for every man and woman that gave their life in defense of our country. This is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. This is something to be cherished and honored. Someone else, many someone else’s, gave their all so you could do whatever you are going to do today. Don’t stain their memory or cheapen their sacrifice by apologizing for the country they defended with their very lives. Are we a perfect nation, no…not by a long shot, but after traveling around the world and listening to those who’ve done so far more than I, we’ve got a lot more figured out then about 95% of the rest…and that ain’t bad!
Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to those who gave their all!
Over the last several weeks I’ve had several people ask me about our property and how things are coming along. If you remember I shared with you all our dream of opening up a retreat center for Pastors, Missionaries, Military and Law Enforcement Chaplains, and other leaders in our post when we were selling our home. Since moving in on December 23rd…yes you read that correctly two days before Christmas, (oh and we had family staying with us, we just like to do things difficult) we have made a ton of progress!
The most exciting and recent development is that we are now an officially recognized non-profit business in the state of Indiana. I went through the process of writing our Articles of Incorporation (yeah that was fun), jumping through the appropriate hoops, and cutting the necessary red tape, and we received our notification on Monday. So, we now are officially Acorn Ridge Retreats Inc. Now, I get to go through the exciting and exuberayting process of applying for 501 c3 status with the Federal government…anyone want to help with that?
Here are some of the physical things we’ve been up to:
- There are two houses on the property, one is the main log cabin, and the other is a 2
bedroom stick-built home that was pretty much trashed. I pretty much gutted the house, and I am still in process of putting it all back together again. Our oldest daughter Kaitlyn, is currently living in the house, but once she moves on from us…a little tear just fell…we will open up that house to our guests.
- There is a small, 400 sq ft, cabin that the previous owners used as a practice run for the main cabin. It is just an empty shell, but our plan for that is to turn it into a ‘tiny home’ for our guests as well. Unlike the stick built home, I haven’t had a chance to do anything with this yet. But, I’m hoping as I wrap up some of the other projects currently going on around the property I’ll be able to start getting this piece ready for guests as well.
- Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a piece of the property that I hadn’t even thought of before, but after a conversation with a friend, I realized what a cool tool it could be. I took an overgrown, but fairly level piece of the land and tore it all up, I removed trees, shrubs, a few woodland creatures…don’t worry there’s lots of land for them to move to…and created a nice ‘camping’ area where those who travel around the country in RV’s could come and park and enjoy the retreat area as well. Yesterday afternoon I had 12 cubic yards of stone delivered and I began the process of graveling so that they could easily level their traveling homes and enjoy an extended stay. The only thing left to do is to run a 50Amp line for them to plug in and water. Hey, anyone have a trencher or Ditch-Witch just laying around???
- There is an extensive flower bed and stone bed system on the property. However, all of the beds were badly overgrown. We’ve killed, uprooted, and hacked out about 80% of the vegetation and now are preparing to lay a ton…literally…a ton of mulch.
You may read all of this and be asking yourself, ‘why in the world would they do this, are they just that bored?’ No, I promise you, with everything going on at Friendship and all of the growth, construction, and everything that comes with it, we are FAR from bored. But, several years ago we were blessed beyond belief with our sabbatical, and from that point on we’ve been asking God to allow us to be a blessing like that in the lives of other pastors and leaders who bear such a heavy burden on a regular basis, and who rarely if ever have the luxury of just being a human being. This is not just a dream for us, but a labor of love. Our hope is that through this extension of Friendship Church we will either directly or indirectly save some leaders from burnout, some marriages from failing, and some churches from deep hurt. The verse we’ve chosen as our theme is Hebrews 6:10 NLT, here’s what it says:
For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Believe it or not, our first guest will be coming the weekend of June 17th, which is about 2 years before we planned on it, but hey, God always has better, bigger, and more beautiful plans than we do!
This is Traci and my dream, but it’s an extension of Friendship, and every ministry family served will be served by you! Thank you for your faithfulness, for your love of our family and all of our leadership families, and thank you for allowing me to be your pastor! You guys are awesome!!!
Love is one of those words that, I believe, has lost most if not all of it’s meaning. It is thrown around so much, to describe so many different things, that it’s potency has all but diminished. For example, in any given day you’ll use the word ‘love’ like this…
- Oh my gosh…I LOVE that! (in reference to a blouse or new outfit your looking at)
- I absolutely loved it! (in reference to the latest movie you watched)
- I love pizza…chocolate…ice cream…cheesecake…(self explanatory)
- I love you! (could be in reference to your husband…or your kid…or your pet)
You see what I mean?!
It get’s even more dicey when you ask people to describe what ‘real love’ looks like, however, in an effort to not get a bunch of hate mail, I won’t give you any examples. Feel free to imagine your own!
Wouldn’t it be great, if someone, somewhere, could actually speak with authority on this subject? My goodness, why can’t it just be boiled down to the essence of what love really is, and put it in a way that everyone can understand? If we can come up with clearly understood and widely accepted meanings of silly words like skedaddle, cattywampus, and discombobulate, why can’t we with a simple four letter word like LOVE!
WHY CAN’T SOMEONE JUST TELL US WHAT LOVE REALLY IS…
16 This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave his life for us. So we should give our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 Suppose someone has enough to live and sees a brother or sister in need, but does not help. Then God’s love is not living in that person. 18 My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring. – 1 John 3:16-18 NCV
…oh, yeah, I guess that’ll work, thanks!
Yesterday we spent some time talking about worry, but more importantly the ‘why’ behind worry. The key, or what I like to call the Big Idea, was that:
Worry is a direct result of believing that God doesn’t care enough!
For some of you that immediately caused a panic attack, and your worry level went through the roof, because now you’re worried if God is mad at you because you don’t have ‘enough faith’. First, let me say, RELAX! God’s not mad at you, angry with you, or disappointed in you. He is using this truth to help you, release you, and lighten your load. Remember Jesus made it very clear:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Worry is completely ineffective on every level imaginable, it does absolutely nothing for you! So, if you find yourself dancing around the edges of worry, or completely immersed in a worry ‘wonderland’ today, take the simple steps the Bible gives us to find the peace that God offers:
- Pray – believing that God actually wants rest for you
- Tell Him what you need – He wants you to be specific, call out what you are worried about and lay it at His feet
- Thank Him – remind yourself of how faithful He has been to you over the years.
I’m reminded of an old chorus that goes like this:
Why worry when you can pray
Trust Jesus He’ll be your stay
Don’t be a doubting Thomas
Rest fully on His promise
Why worry worry worry worry
When you can pray
Alfred Smith, John Peterson 1949 Brentwood Music
Yeah, I know that’s a long title, but I really couldn’t think of a way of making it any smaller. A couple of years ago I came across a movie called, “Red Cliffs”. Now, a couple of disclaimers, First it’s a Chinese war movie with subtitles. Second, well, it’s a Chinese war movie, hence lots of violence. So if you are squeamish about fake blood, probably not one for you. But, interspersed within the movie is tremendous dialogue (subtitled) about warfare, tactics, agendas, and even leadership.
The movie is actually about a historical war between 3 generals who were all trying to become the leader of a unified China between 208-214AD. When one of those leaders, Cao Cao, became immensely more powerful than the other two combined, it forced them, though enemies, to join forces. Even after joining forces they are still badly outnumbered and during a meeting the two generals have this conversation (paraphrased):
Zhuge Liang: “His army is so massive, we don’t even have enough arrows to kill all of them, this is impossible!”
Zhou Yu, after a moment in thought: “Maybe Cao Cao will let us borrow some of his?”
This is the following scene, here’s a link if you need it: https://youtu.be/r-briQqhGZY
What unbelievable leadership ingenuity. You see it’s easy to give up when everything seems to be working against you. I mean for crying out lout, how much energy does it really take to quit? But, it takes real leadership ingenuity to look at an insurmountable problem, and instead of seeing a problem, use it to your advantage.
If you are a leader, what is your insurmountable problem? Start thinking outside of the box, how can that thing that you believed was a block wall, limiting your ability to move forward be reconfigured into a staircase for your ultimate success? All it takes is a little leadership ingenuity!
Okay, I’ll admit it, that headline is total ‘click bait’! But, the truth is our home will indeed go up for sale in just a few short days. It’s not because we need a new home, or quite frankly that we were looking to buy a new home, or that we are trying to upgrade to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. In reality, a home with some significant land came available and after much prayer, counsel, and budget crunching we made an offer, and our offer was accepted. The home is still in the area, and no we are in no way desiring, planning, or looking to leave Friendship Church. Now, I know a lot of you will have questions, so to save me having to repeat the same answers over and over again here is a little FAQ I put together for you:
- So, why did you guys decide you wanted to move?
- Well, we really had no plans whatsoever to move, this has really come out of the blue at us, and this whole process has taken less than a month! One of Traci and my dreams has been to be able to provide a safe place for pastor’s and their wives to get outside the fishbowl of ministry, and allow them a quiet place to relax, heal, and refresh. This home comes with quite a few acres of land all set within the woods, which is an ideal location to someday be able to provide this type of place for pastors and their wives.
- How in the world are you able to do something like this so quickly?
- We don’t know how quickly it will actually be, because our home needs to sell first. But, I can tell you that one of the reasons we can do this and make this type of a move, even with a daughter in college is because we have followed Biblically sound financial advice, including that of Dave Ramsey and FPU. This has given us a lot of financial flexibility to be able to do something like this. As good ole Dave says, “Live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later!” For us this is a part of the ‘later’!
- So, is this a done deal, when are you guys moving in?
- It’s only a done deal if our house sells…anyone interested?
- Is this going to change anything in your relationship and connection to Friendship?
- No, none whatsoever. We will still be on the Southside, and my ‘commute’ will still be shorter than about 80% of the people at Friendship.
- Can we tell our friends about your house, I think they might be interested?
- Please do, here in the next few days we will post the listing on Facebook and Twitter, you can go ahead and shoot your friends the listing. If you are personally interested just shoot us an e-mail and we will set up a private showing for you.
- Can we come and help you pack up all of your boxes and help you move things that will likely cause my back to go out?
- Okay, I’m pretty sure no one is going to ask that!
- Can we look through the pictures in the listing and get a sneak peak at what a pastors home really looks like, or better yet ask for a showing so we can walk through and look in all your cupboards?
- You can print off the pictures for all I care, and if you’re genuinely interested in buying our home, you can peek in every cabinet and cupboard during your showing! You won’t find anything all that special, like secret prayer closets or the Ark of the Covenant figurines, but you’ll find quite a few guns…oh and no cats.
Wrapping up, I’d like to ask you to pray for us. As excited as we are about the possibility, it’s also pretty scary. Our intention was to stay in this house until, well probably until after we retired! We had no plans to move, but God always has bigger and better plans, if we are willing to wait for them. Again, this may not happen as our house may not sell, but everything we are hearing at this point is indicating that it will. So, if you’ll pray that God will continue to lead us by either opening or shutting doors, and that if this is his perfect will that our house would sell quickly so that we can begin this new and very unexpected season in our lives.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
The Crandall Clan…and Daisy (Traci’s little white dog) too!
Over the last 18 months my beautiful bride and I have experienced some pretty big life events:
- June of 2014 we celebrated 20 years of marriage
- October of 2014 we celebrated 10 years at Friendship Church
- January of 2015 we celebrated 20 years of full-time, pastoral ministry
- March of 2015 daughter numero uno turned 18
- May of 2015 same daughter graduated
- July of 2015 I signed my life away to begin the building of Friendship Church’s new facility, to launch the next phase of our church
- August of 2015 my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage
- September of 2015 eldest daughter struck again and started college
If reading through this list makes you tired, just think how we feel…BLESSED! That’s the word I choose because even though it’s been a hectic, crazy, tilt-a-whirl year and a half there’s not a single one of those that I’d trade for anything. It would be easy for us to look at that and feel overwhelmed, stressed, run-down, worn-out, you name it, but what would that accomplish? It wouldn’t slow anything down, it would stop the world from spinning, and it certainly wouldn’t help us deal with the changes any more effectively. But, if we choose to see these moments and events as blessings, as a part of the process of growing up, we can smile, maybe a few tears of joy, but mostly smile.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years, or rather God has beaten into my stubborn soul, is that how we look at things will change the way we react to things, and even change the very emotions we feel about things. I’m reminded of David’s beautiful prayer of thankfulness to his Shepherd, “EVEN THOUGH I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil.”
You see more often than not our prayer is, “God please remove me from this situation!” not “God help me see the blessing in this situation!” But, maybe, just maybe, God’s plan for you is NOT to remove you from the situation, but to remove your anxiety about the situation from you! After all, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power…”
See it differently and enjoy the ride my friends!
(The following is written with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek)
Today, I’d like to share with you 8 ways that you can develop an unthankful and unappreciative spirit, so that all of those who lead you, mentor you, and invest in you will be wounded by your callous disregard. If you’re ready to excel above the rest of the class, pay attention carefully and see if you are doing everything necessary to become all that you can’t be!
- Allow them to invest hours and hours into you and your life, take your frustrations out on them, blame them for things they did not do, and when you realize it was really all your problem the whole time…act as if nothing happened!
- Plead with them to take time out of their schedule to meet with you and them just minutes before cancel…or better yet, don’t show up at all!
- If you do decide to show up, make sure that you don’t do anything they’ve counseled you to do. And then several months later ask them to meet with you again.
- Always be telling the person who is working with you, how great every other mentor/coach/leader is, but make sure to never compliment or build them up (this is especially important on social media)!
- After someone has poured into your life, helped you deal with all of your crap, and got your feet under you again, make sure to always exclude them from any fun social gatherings…I mean that would just be awkward!
- Never share with anyone how this person helped you, and certainly don’t celebrate the impact they’ve made in your life. You don’t want them to get a big head after all!
- Take every opportunity to make fun at their expense, their a big boy/girl they can take it! Oh, and make sure to bring others along, it’s always better when there’s more people involved.
- Get all of the training you can from them, get all of your rough edges sanded off, allow them to suffer through all of your growing pains, and just when you’re really starting to become something, abandon ship to something ‘better’ and leave them hanging.
In over 20 years of leadership, primarily in church settings, I can say that I’ve had each of these done to me on more than one occasion, and every time it hurts. When you pour yourself into someone and then you’re either unappreciated or feel taken for granted it’s a scar that doesn’t easily heal. I’m sure some of the super-spiritual out there will say, “Well, aren’t you supposed to be doing it for God?”. To them I say, “Go suck on a pickle!!!” God made us to crave human interaction, yes, of course we do what we do for HIM and HIM alone, but it doesn’t make the pain any less real.
The Bible clearly tells us to Honor our leaders, whatever form they may be in. Part of honoring is showing gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness. When was the last time you told your boss, your leader, your mentor or coach that they made a difference in your life. That if it weren’t for them stepping in, you wouldn’t know where you’d be today. Take time this week to make them feel special and important…because they are! Maybe do a few of these 8 things:
- Deeply, meaningfully apologize. Thank them profusely for being willing to put up with you and help you through.
- When they take time out of their schedule to meet with you, move heaven and earth make it there, honor their time and their family.
- If you thought they were important enough to meet with, heed their counsel, God’s probably trying to tell you something. Then meet with them afterwards to let them know how their counsel worked and changed your life.
- Always be telling the person who works with you what a privilege it is for you. Tell everyone around you and especially others on social media what a great leader, friend, etc… they are for you.
- If someone has poured into your life, helped you deal with all of your crap, and got your feet under you again, you better make sure to include them in the good times too!
- When you share your story, give them credit, in fact lavish it on them, they won’t get a big head, they’ll be humbled to have been used by God in such a way.
- Take every opportunity to praise them, never take cheap shots, and don’t let anyone else take them either.
- Soak up everything you can from them, get all of those rough edges sanded off, then take your talents and leverage them to help them accomplish their mission!
Wow, talk about making your head spin! After being in the ‘hurry up and wait’ mode for the last couple of years things, the MOMENTUM is really starting to roll. Over the last month this is what’s happened:
- Loan package approved and signed
- Current mortgage paid off
- Permits applied for and received
- Massive hole for new sewer connection made and filled in
- Asphalt cut and prepped for running the new sewer line
- Playground relocation contractor chosen and date secured
- And a whole bunch of yellow and orange is starting to show up on the property
…and once you’ve caught your breath get ready to see dirt start moving any day now! The time that we have been planning, praying, and giving towards for almost two years is finally here…I can officially say we are building!!!
With all of the excitement I must try to remain calm, but holy cow this has been a tough haul! To see it actually becoming reality is nothing less than electric for me, and I hope for many of you. Now, this doesn’t mean we can all just sit back and relax, just the opposite actually. We all need to be praying harder than we have ever prayed before for God’s hand of blessing and protection to be over this project. Our banker, who is a very strong Christian and has financed countless church projects literally said,
“This has been one of the most spiritually opposed projects I have ever been a part of. The enemy (Satan) doesn’t want you guys doing this…that must mean you are doing something right!”
I know that many of you have experienced spiritual opposition in your lives as well, sometimes even coming in the form of someone who was a friend or a family member, but you have remained faithful and now you are beginning to see God move in your lives, families, jobs, and marriages like never before. God’s promises are certain, his plans are perfect, and his timing is flawless…what an awesome God we serve!
The giving part of the project currently sits at 70%, leaving about $180,000 of pledges yet to be received. That amount is almost the exact amount of our need to complete the parts of the project that are not covered by our new loan. These items are ‘by owner’ and called the FFE Budget or Furniture Fixtures and Equipment. This money pays for such essential items as:
- Sound System in the new auditorium
- Additional Chairs in the auditorium (to save costs we will reuse current chairs mixed in with others)
- New furniture for foyer and sitting areas
- Stage Lighting
- Alarm System (burglary & fire)
- Playground Relocation
- Interior Redesign of current building
So, as you can see that last $180,000 is pretty important stuff. So, for those of you who have been giving, thank you and keep up the good work! For those of you who are new and haven’t joined in yet, why don’t you start this month to help us finish up, you can get all the information on the project at FriendshipMOMENTUM.com. You can also make a one time or recurring gift right here: Friendship Church Giving Portal or you can always give on Sundays through the offering or at the Connection Center.
Thanks so much everyone, and get strapped, in because the MOMENTUM is ready to cut loose!
Psst, here’s a look at the schematics in case you forgot…
Last night, May 27th, we gave an update on our MOMENTUM Project, a topic of fairly regular conversation here. In that update I gave some information regarding what has been going on and what is happening next. To get a little more context look back at my article “So What’s Going On With The Building Project”.
Here is a very brief and abbreviated overview from last night (bullet point style):
- In order to get sufficient financing we needed to cut about a million total dollars from the project, or be willing to wait another year. We cannot, based upon our numbers, afford to wait another year, so we began in March the process of looking at what we could do and get financed.
- We decided to go with a smaller building to the North side (side closest to Worthsville) that would address all five of our chokepoints of momentum:
- Children’s Space (essentially our entire current building will become kids space)
- Parking Space (we will be able to at least double our parking space and more if financially able)
- Auditorium Space (we will be able to double our capacity from 230 to 450 seats)
- Office Space (as most of you know only Jamie and Jessica currently have offices at the church, this plan will allow the entire staff to be back in one location)
- Student Ministry Space (One half of our current auditorium will become to our Ignite and RIOT ministries)
- We already have a bank that has given us a letter of commitment for a loan and will be working to find the best funding partner.
- 65% of the MOMENTUM giving has come in, to be able to fully complete this project we will need everyone following through on their commitments. If you need a few extra months to complete your commitment please let us know.
- 1st Quarter Giving Statements have been printed, but were delayed going out because I was working so hard on trying to get all of this completed. If you would like to see where you are in your regular and MOMENTUM giving, they will be available for pick up this Sunday morning. 2nd Quarter statements will go out on time, I apologize for the inconvenience!
- Since 2010 Friendship has grown by 170% (138 – 381) in attendance and 130% in giving, God is blessing like crazy!
That is certainly not the same thing as having been there last night, but at least that should give you a pretty good idea of what was discussed. If everything goes as planned (I know I just hate even saying that out loud!) we should be in the building in late February of 2016 and celebrate our ‘grand opening’ on Easter next year. So, here are a couple of things that you can be praying for:
- That all of our financing comes through quickly with no delays and the best pricing available.
- That we have no more surprises that end up jacking up costs.
- That we have great weather that will allow us to move very quickly on every phase of the project.
- That all of the MOMENTUM commitments come in therefore enabling us to do everything necessary for the project.
- That once the doors are open and the road is finished that God continues to bless us and this new building is filled up with people who have experienced the life changing reality of Jesus Christ through Friendship!
BTW, here is a rough sketch of the building, I know it’s not very big, but it’s the best I have right now. We will update and upgrade as available:
Wow! Here’s what I am struggling to grasp: Why in the world are we seeing so many of these types of ‘protests’ all over our country these days? Sure, a significant part of it is ginned up by political operatives and race-baiting profiteers who want to line their own pockets. But, let’s be honest, for this type of thing to happen multiple times in different locations across the nation there has to be something systemically wrong in our country and specifically in our urban communities.
Now, I am no politician (thank God!) nor am I a philosopher, but I am both a preacher of the truth and a student of the human condition. So, my thoughts on this are based in those two things, the truth of the Word of God brought to bear on hurt within the human condition. Here are the systemic problems I see:
Lack of leadership: John Maxwell wisely once said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership, everything.” It’s tempting to qualify that statement and say, “Well, almost everything, but not EVERYTHING!”. But, think about the course of human history, even in the midst of humanities darkest, most desperate moments, great leadership was transcendent. The problem is we have far to many people who want the power of ‘leadership’ but abandon the responsibility that it takes to be a real leader.
If a king is fair, he makes his country strong,
but if he takes gifts dishonestly, he tears his country down. – Prov 29:4 NCV
Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers. – Prov 11:14 NLT
Unclear Vision: Vision is a picture of what the future could be and should be. In far to many of our urban and even suburban areas there is no vision or at best cloudy vision of what the future holds. Vision provides hope, it gives a reason for working hard, it tells us that better days are ahead. Today we are being told by some of our ‘leaders’ that this is as good as it’s ever going to get, this is just reality. Many of our urban citizens (regardless of ethnicity) wake up everyday with no hope in their hearts, no dreams for the future. When the most lucrative future for young men is to join a gang, sell drugs, or simply become a thug of some sort…there is no hope!
Where there is no vision a people perish. – Prov 29:18 KJV
Rampant Abuse: In our world abuse has become as commonplace as fast-food restaurants. I know that many of these ‘protests’ are blamed on police abuse, and there may be some of that for sure, as authority unchecked is often authority abused. But, humanity as a whole has an unbelievable propensity for evil against other human beings. Just look at the amount of physically abused women, children, and elderly that we see all of the time. How about the rampant sexual abuse, don’t believe it? Ask yourself when was the last time you were ‘shocked’ to hear that a teacher had sex with one of her students. Exactly, something that was preposterous just a decade or so ago has become so common that when we hear it we shake our heads and roll our eyes, but that is about it. When the value of another human being is weighted only by the usefulness they provide to another we are in a dangerous place.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves – Phi 2:3 NIV
Familial Decay: When I saw this video today http://abc7news.com/video/embed/?pid=684859 (warning: it does have some ‘bleeped’ out language) I was both thankful and dismayed. Thankful because a mom cared for her son so much that she would go to any lengths to keep him from making a potentially life shattering decision. Dismayed because I saw no father alongside her. Now, it may have been that the dad was at work, but more often than not we see that adult males (I refuse to call them Men) simply refuse to live up to their responsibilities of being a husband and father, abandoning the mother of their children and their children. The only male role models they have are the adult males in their neighborhood who live off of others, profit from others addictions, or are held captive by their own demons. Fathers are just as essential as Mothers!
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. – Prov 1:8 NIV
Maybe your initial reaction to all of this is anger, can I challenge you on that? Maybe instead of anger or disgust, you take a minute and ask God to give you some perspective. Now, don’t for a moment think that I condone or in some twisted way believe that the violence is in any way justified, it’s not. In fact, it’s sin. But as Paul says;
God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. – Rom 5:20
Instead let’s ask ourselves some hard questions. How can we lead better, what can we do to give vision/hope, how can we help the abused heal and the abusers reform, and what can we do to rebuild the family? You see I believe that it’s easy to criticize, but it’s far harder to critically think about how you can make a difference.
Just my two cents,
So, I have a confession to make, I love superhero movies! In fact, I have passed on my love of tough guys/gals and the battle against evil to both of my daughters (and I am slowly pulling my wife in as well)! Part of my love for superheroes began when I was only a child visiting my grandparents lake house, and I discovered a cash of comic books that my uncle’s had left decades earlier. On rainy days I would read through the adventures of Captain America, Sgt. Fury, The Green Berets, Superman, Spider Man, The Flash…well you get the picture. There were probably over 100 old comics and I read each of them many, many times. As a young boy with three sisters, these stories ‘spoke’ to my inner adventurer, they stoked the flames of bold decisive action, fights against overwhelming odds, and victory even when defeat seemed imminent! They served as my escape from the dolls, dresses, and drama.
Several years ago when Marvel began the rebirth of superhero flicks, I became, well ecstatic! With the advances in CGI and video I knew that this new generation of films would bring some of my old favorites to life like never before, and along with millions of others, I wasn’t disappointed. These movies have made billions of dollars and literally create a feeding frenzy whenever the newest one is set to come out…WHY? I mean, really ask yourself why? Besides the cool graphics, what really draws people to the movies. If you think about it, only a handful of the actors are really well known, often times the story lines are somewhat predictable (evil has big victory, good seems almost defeated, miraculous effort by one good inspires other good, good wins the day, evil gets what’s coming to them), but people still flock to watch every installment…why?
The answer is certainly multi-faceted, and if I were a psychologist I could probably write a book or two on it diving deeply into the psyche of the human mind (many have btw…yawn), but I like to keep things simple! I believe that we love superheroes because they represent things and do things that we wish we could do and get away with. Such as, confront evil head on and take it out. We long to be able to ‘tell off’ the person who is causing us and those we love problems, but we are either too scared to do so or we fear what the repercussions may be. We long to be able to have abilities that overcome our problems instead of feeling trapped by them. We wish we could have a secret identity to do what needs to be done without it all coming back on us, and we long for adventure, even danger in our daily routine.
Now, I know that at this point you are expecting me to throw some Bible verses at you telling you how Jesus is far more than a superhero, which is WAY beyond truth, but I think you already know that. And, I’m going to assume that if you know that, you more than likely also ‘KNOW’ Him, so let me tell you something about yourself, or rather let God tell you something about yourself:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? …No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. – Romans 8:28-31,37 NLT
You may not be a superhero, but here is what God says you are:
Personally, I think that’s way better than being a superhero! But, I’m still pretty pumped about the next one coming out on May 1st, what can I say, I’m hooked.
Live strong today,
This is a question that I have been asked a few times recently, so I thought it would be good to put my answer down here so that those of you who have thought of asking it, but just haven’t had the chance can here it first hand as well.
First, as you all know we have accomplished several things so far:
- A complete survey, sampling, and analysis of the property to prove that the site is safe and buildable
- The complete reconstruction of the drive through
- The exterior work on our current building
- Repaving and widening of Emerson Rd (this was in cooperation with the Arbor Homes subdivision across the street), yes we did that, the City of Greenwood required it as a stipulation to building
- Reconstruct all of the drainage ditches and water runoff areas
- Expansion of the Infant Nursery
- Began the expansion and moving of the pond
- This part has been sporadic because of the rainfall and the wetness of the ground. Part of the process is building up the pad for the building with the dirt that will be removed, and wet dirt does not lead to solid compaction. So, pray for a dry spell so that this work can be finished.
All of this has been paid for with cash on hand, and has not required us to get any type of loan. However, we have been working diligently over the last 12+ months in getting ready for this next phase where a substantial loan would be necessary.
In fact, before we even began the MOMENTUM process we sat down with several financial people and presented our numbers (attendance, giving, childcare income) and we were told that our finances looked great, and that getting a loan for the size we were talking would not be difficult at all, especially given all the growth opportunities around us. So, our plan was to get the loan at the outset and then do everything at once, but as we began that process we were made aware that our financial books needed some significant work so that they were ‘bank ready’. At that point we hired an accounting firm to come in and work with us on getting everything set up, and actually go back a couple of years to make sure everything was up to speed.
This process started last Spring and just wrapped up in late 2014. We certainly did not want to move forward with any major financial obligations without making sure that everything was accounted for down to the last nickel. We now have pristine looking, bank approved financial books that will help us do an even better job of stewarding all of the resources that God so generously blesses us with through your faithful giving.
As 2014 was wrapping up we felt confident to allow the firm, who was working with the banks on our behalf, to re-engage the banks with our loan package. We began to receive responses from the banks in February, and continued until late March. Although their responses were enthusiastic, and positive regarding our financial position, they all want to see another 9-12 months of this trend before they are willing to consider it. In laymen’s terms, the banks want to see 24-36 months of what we have experienced over the last 18 months financially before they are willing to even consider giving us the full loan amount.
This of course puts us in a difficult position. If we wait another 9-12 months and then re-engage the banks there is no guarantee that even at that point they will approve the loan, but if they did, that would mean it will be almost 2 years from now before we could get into the building. At the rate of growth we are currently experiencing we just don’t have that much time. Not to mention what will happen once Worthsville Rd is opened back up…whenever that may be! So, needless to say the Elders and I have been praying, talking with people who know more than we do, and meeting together to try and determine what our best course of action will be.
Here is what I can tell you with absolute certainty; this whole process began because we wanted to see more people and families experience the life changing reality of Jesus Christ; because we believe that God is far from done using Friendship as an effective and influential church; and we don’t want a building, or lack of one, to hinder the MOMENTUM that God is building. All of those things are still true today, and I’m still committed to seeing God do great things through us, the only question is how that will look given some of the hurdles that we are currently experiencing.
So, two things: First, as we get more information we will set up a time to bring the entire body into the conversation for what we should do next. Second, be praying for God to give all of us an intensely clear direction and protect us from moving out of His plan.
I’m not exactly sure what God has up his sleeve…but I’m pretty excited about it!!!
…loneliness and isolation are as damaging as obesity. The impact of loneliness has also been likened to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or excessive drinking.
…people who said they were lonely, felt socially isolated or lived alone, had a 30 percent increased likelihood of death.
Whoa! Who would have thought that loneliness was that bad for you…wait…hang on a second, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard something about being alone somewhere before, now where was that…
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him. – Genesis 2:18
Oh, yeah that’s right, now I remember! God literally created us to long for relationships, both horizontal and vertical, human and divine. The three most essential connections for a meaning-filled life are:
- Connecting to Christ (restoring our relationship with God)
- Connecting to His Church (embracing a mission bigger than ourselves)
- Connecting with other Christians (enjoying life with others who are headed in the same direction)
At Friendship Church we believe that these connections are absolutely necessary and do everything we can to help you become relationally satisfied. As apart of this passion we have created small groups that you can connect with throughout the week so that you can connect with other people going through the same things you are, so you can grow deeper in your faith, and so that you can begin to establish a great support group around you.
Our next round of small groups kicks off after Easter, are you in?
Today is of course the day that people drink green beer, wear green face/body paint, and usually end up doing really stupid things. Why do we do this…well to honor a man who gave his life to reaching people for Christ of course! Makes total sense to me.
The legend of Patrick is quite verbose and exaggerated, but it’s important to note that the legend stems from a real man, who did real things. Allow me to first get a few things out of the way. Patrick was not Irish, he was more than likely Scottish. He didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland…as there were no snakes to drive out. He probably didn’t use the three leaves of the Shamrock to teach about the Trinity. And, Saint Patrick, is actually not considered a saint.
Patrick is embraced primarily in the Roman Catholic tradition but we have to remember that he lived very early on in the history of the church, 387-450/60’s AD, and the church at that time was still primarily Biblical in it’s approach. In fact, the early church fathers Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine were still alive, so his message of salvation in Jesus Christ, his understanding of Mary, and his view of Biblical authority would be very similar to what we would call Evangelical. So, even though he is claimed by Catholicism as a pseudo-saint, in reality he is someone that the entirety of Christendom can look up to, honor, and learn from.
So, what can we learn from this man? First, I believe that we can learn that you don’t need a profound education to make a profound impact. Patrick often called himself unlearned and simple, but it was just this thing that made him so effective in reaching the tribal Druid groups that inhabited Ireland. Patrick wasn’t the first missionary to go to Ireland, he was just the first one to be effective!
Second, we can learn forgiveness. Patrick was actually captured by a Druid Chieftain when he was 16 years old and made his slave. In his autobiography, he states that he was certain that at any time he would be sacrificed to one of their Gods. However, Patrick escaped and made his way back to his family. After several years, Patrick had a dream that he believed was God’s way of telling him to go back and be a missionary to these people. According to legend, yes I know, the Chieftain that was his master was one of his first converts. Can you imagine going back to preach Christ to people who had not only enslaved you, but killed those you loved?
Finally, we can learn endurance. This man dedicated his life to the work in Ireland, he had no hopes nor desire to ‘go back home’ and retire. Ireland was his new home. Almost daily, especially early on, he was faced with danger, ridicule, and rejection; but he refused to quit. Some call this stubbornness other call it perseverance, you can call it whatever you want and I’d encourage you to emulate it!
So, tonight as you are enveloped in a sea of green ‘insert noun here’, just remember that there really was a guy named Patrick who loved Jesus and made a difference!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!
How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? – Proverbs 1:22
Our small group (shout out to all my groupies!) is currently doing an ancient study (circa 2001) of Andy Stanley’s called The Best Question Ever. The study is mainly about how to make wise decisions; not good or bad, but wise. Wise decisions are basically defined in this way, applying all the truth and information that you have at hand, while also bringing into bear your past experiences, your present circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams. Once you have all of that you can then make a ‘wise decision’. It’s a great study and if you haven’t done it you may want to share this post with your small group leader and encourage him/her to do the study in the near future…hint, hint, hint!
But, I want to focus on one particular lesson in which Andy talks about the three categories of people within the book of Proverbs, the naive, the fool, and the mocker. Andy takes great care in defining each and then gives some poignant illustrations as to how they would respond. Here is a snippet of those definitions:
- Naive: also called simple or simpleton, is someone who simply doesn’t know what they don’t know. They just don’t have enough experience to be able to clearly discern. The danger here is that this person will often wrongly believe that they do know, or they know enough. This trap can be overcome by #1 gaining experience and #2 listening to older/wiser counsel. (Proverbs 14:5)
- Fool: also called foolish, is someone who knows, but doesn’t care. They know that if they stick their tongue in the light socket that it will shock them, but they want to do it anyways, it was fun the first time, so let’s do that again. A fool wrongly believes that just because it happened last time, it doesn’t mean that it’ll happen this time too, and/or they believe that unlike everyone else, they’ll get away with it. The fool can only stop being a fool by accepting the truth and changing his ways. Unfortunately for the fool this only happens after multiple times of things blowing up in his face and having to bear the consequences. (Proverbs 10:23)
- Mocker: also called the scoffer, is someone who knows, doesn’t care, and will ridicule you for caring or trying to correct him. They will continue down the same path, making the same mistakes, knowing that destruction is coming all the while humming their happy little tune. They will make fun of you, slander you, attack you as often as they can, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do to help them. In fact, the only solution is to cast them out of your circle of friends and hope that God grabs a hold of their heart. (Proverbs 9:7-8)
I’m sure as you read through the definitions you probably had pictures of multiple people flash through your mind for each of them. It may have even inspired a verbal reaction of “that’s right!”…but pause in your indignation for just a moment, how often have you been naive, played to fool, or scoffed at others counsel? Self evaluation is never easy and often painful, but always necessary if we are going to consistently make wise decisions instead of naive, foolish, or mocking ones!
Here’s to being wise my friends,
At Friendship we strongly encourage all of our Ministry Partners to go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University as we believe it is one of the best tools out there to help you understand what God wants from you for your finances. If you have not gone through FPU I would highly, strongly urge you to do so. Dave is not just the next financial flash in the pan, he’s been helping people for more than 30 years to handle their finances in a way that both honors God and frees them. I know that this is doing FPU a terrible injustice, but let me see if I can give bullet point highlights to what you’ll learn:
- If you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll never know where your money goes!
- If you are willing to live like no one else now, you’ll be able to live like no one else later!
- If you don’t get out of debt, as fast as you can, you are greatly decreasing your ability to enjoy financial peace!
- God is the originator of all wealth, and he expects you to honor him!
Now, let me answer a two questions about giving:
It’s mine, why should I give at all? The Bible says that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). And, that God is in his very nature a ‘giver’. First, he gave us life, then he gave us the world and everything in it, and after we rejected him, God gave us his Son, Jesus Christ. Giving is in our nature, and when we follow after our Creator he stokes within us the desire to be more and more like him. When we are generous with what God has given to us we literally become more and more like God. And, if you need more inspiration, Jesus says that when we imitate him in his nature of being a giver, he will in turn give us more so that we can continue being generous with others (Luke 6:38).
There are so many good charities, non-profits, mission organizations, community groups; why should it go to the church? The Bible says that the mission of the church is to reach the world for Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Other organizations can do a lot of good, and this is not a slam on them, but there is no other organization, business, entity, or enterprise that will change people’s eternal destiny! The church is the hope of the world, and when the church is working right, there is absolutely nothing like it! Why wouldn’t you want to invest in the greatest endeavor the world has ever or will ever experience? When you obey God’s command by regularly and faithfully investing in the vision of your local church you are fueling the mission of God to become reality!
I could invest multiple posts on this subject because God is so passionate about it, however, my hope is to whet your whistle for more, to encourage you to engage in the ministry of giving, and allow the Spirit of God to move you forward!
God bless my friends,
Whenever anything like this happens people always ask questions like this. The assumption is that this happened because of God or at the very least, because God didn’t stop it. Below is a re-post of my response to the Sandy Hook shooting, hopefully it will help you or help you in conversation with others:
“Dear Lord, I pray for those who have been devastated by the actions of this man. I pray for parents today who will not be able to pray with their child or tuck them into bed. I ask that you wrap your arms around them and send them your children who will display your true love. I also ask God that you would silence the mouths of foolish men and women who are using this tragedy as an opportunity to continue to spew their hateful words or agendas. I ask God that you would stir your church to action as we pray for and engage other in conversations and that these words I’m about to share will bring your truth into the conversation and encourage other believers to share this truth. In Jesus name, Amen.”
On more than one occasion I’ve been asked this question, or something similar, when a tragedy such as this strikes, “Is God unable, unconcerned, or unwilling to intervene when things like this happen?” I’d like to take each of the presented possibilities first, and then give you what I believe the Biblical answer to tragedy is.
Unable: Is God incapable or not powerful enough to have stopped this? Well the Bible is very clear on this subject: “For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Unconcerned: Doesn’t God care? Is he just so far removed from us that this type of thing doesn’t even bother him? I believe that the Bible is incredibly clear on this as well, John 3:16 says the God cares so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die in our place. That Jesus loved us so much that he willingly gave up his life for us, no one took it from him (John 10:18). So, maybe he’s just not involved…actually the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is not just aware, but actively interceding, or working on our behalf, at all times (Romans 8:34)
Unwilling: Okay, so God does care, is powerful enough to do it, but he just chose not to for some reason…really loving God, right?! Well, here’s the problem with that thinking, we assume that everything that happens in this world is “God-approved”, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. At the dawn of our world God created Adam and Eve and gave them an incredible gift, the gift of being able to choose, theologians call it “free will”. God gave every human being the ‘right’ to choose whether or not they would serve God or reject God. God refuses to force himself on anyone, because a forced love is not love at all. But, if all men have free will, even those who do evil, than evil will always be present…even horrendous evil, and if men reject God then their minds will continue to be corrupted by sin…
Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. – Romans 1:28-32
So, why didn’t God try to stop this young man from murdering so many people? How do you know that he didn’t? God may very well have been putting person after person into his life attempting to get him to steer away from his life of destruction and corruption, but he simply rejected them. Maybe there were people in his life, who simply refused to do what was necessary to get him help, or discipline him the way he needed, or love him the way he needed. This is not just about one man and God, this is about hundreds if not millions of people interconnected along the chain of his life, any number of whom could have been the key to keeping this tragedy from happening.
BUT, here’s what I do know; No one of us is grieving more right now than God! The heart of God is broken over the sin and the sinfulness that led to this tragedy. Listen to how the Bible conveys the grief and the love that God shows those who are hurting and broken:
The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. – Psalm 23:4
This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. – Psalm 91:2-6
You may push back, “But I don’t feel God right now! How does God give me comfort if he’s just a spirit?” That is one of the purposes of the church. We as Christians are to be his hands, his feet, we are commanded to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15.
Now, what I’m about to say may offend some of you, but maybe it is necessary. What happened today was an awful tragedy. It was a despicable act by a man who had allowed sin to be in full control and as he spiraled into the depths of his depravity he took the lives of others. We mourn today over those who are lost, we weep today with parents who lost children, children who lost siblings, and friends who lost friends. But, this happens every day in our world. In Somalia this Summer over 29,000 children died in a 90 day span because they did not have enough to eat or clean water to drink. That’s over 320 children per day! In Sudan, some 400,000 to 500,000 children have been murdered or made to engage in warfare where they were killed over the last 10 years. That means that every day in the Sudan 100 – 120 children are killed with guns. These are just two small examples, there are countless others.
Friends the evil in our world is far more expansive and profound than anyone of us could possibly imagine! That fact that things like this don’t happen in every community on a regular basis is proof that God is holding back the tidal wave of sin. Do not let this tragedy derail you from your faith, let it drive you deeper in discovering your faith. Pray for these families, but then pray for your world. Who in your life needs to hear about Jesus? But, don’t stay on your knees, get up and begin to do what you can to change your world with the truth of Jesus Christ.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1:27
All sorts of things are happening right now as we continue to move towards breaking ground on the MOMENTUM Project! If you don’t know about the project, just click the rendering to the right and it will take you to our dedicated web page that will give you all sorts of information.
Just over the last week I’ve had three different meetings, and all of them went well:
Meeting #1: The TAC (I have no idea what that means) Meeting with the City of Greenwood to go over all of our dirt work, storm water, sewer, utilities, parking, landscaping, etc… The meeting went off without a hitch and the next step in the process is to present our plan to the Planning Commission for approval of our LAP (this one I know, Land Alteration Permit), which means that once we get this you’ll start seeing dirt moving all over the place!
Meeting #2: The final Architectural meeting with our architect so that he can put the final touches on our building plans to present to the City. Once these plans are approved we can apply, simultaneously for our city and state building permits.
Meeting #3: The financial meeting with Jon Huskins who is working on our behalf in talking to several banks about financing our project. There are a few more hoops to jump through here, but because of your faithful giving to the project and to regular ministry everything is pointing in the right direction, at this point.
So, here are three ways you can be praying based off of these meetings:
#1 – Pray that the City not only grants our LAP but does so with great speed so we can break ground.
#2 – Pray that the hoops we have to go through for the building permit, and the changes that are requested will be minimal.
#3 – Pray that we have competing offers from banks and that the rates will be incredibly low for us.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this pumped about seeing dozers, backhoes, and dump trucks!
PS: If anyone knows of someone who is in need of around 8,000 sq yards of dirt, about 30% of which is topsoil, please let us know. They have to be willing to haul it themselves but our contractor will be more than willing to load up their trucks for them. If we can’t find someone to take the dirt it could cost us in excess of $50,000 to haul it and dump it! This would be a great savings for us, so keep your ears open!
I’m so excited to announce to you that Sarah Pead will be joining the Friendship Church staff beginning Monday, September 9th. Sarah will become our Arts & Communications Director. Sarah has been working for the last 5 years as a Graphic Design and Marketing Consultant for Willow Marketing on the Northside of Indianapolis. Willow is one of the top design firms that works with non-profit agencies in the entire Midwest. Her invaluable experience in the design field, marketing, advertising, social media, and print media will become an unbelievable asset to us as we continue to grow as a church.
Sarah has actually been serving in a volunteer role at Friendship for 6 years as our Lead Graphic Designer. In that role she has created all of our graphics for every series that we have done at Friendship, created our church logo, the Friendship Kids logo and branding, Fusion, Man Stuff, Shape, and well, just about every other logo we’ve got out there. Sarah’s guiding hand has allowed us to do things that churches three times our size cannot even do.
What Sarah Will Be Doing:
As our new Arts & Communications Director, Sarah will now be overseeing the following areas:
- All physical print pieces including the Worship Guide, posters, handouts, etc
- Continue to act as our Lead Graphic Designer
- Wed Design & Social Media Team
- Photography & Video Team
- All digital media pieces including e-mail communications, registration forms, event forms, video pieces, etc
- All areas of communications whether print, digital, or video
Why Is This The Right Time For Sarah To Come On?
Man, I am so glad you asked that question! As our church has grown Traci, Dustin, and I have had to increase our areas of responsibility, sometimes even beyond our particular area of expertise. All of the areas listed above are items that one of us is currently doing to varying degrees of success. With Sarah coming on staff it relieves significant pressure from each of us and allows us to focus better on our ‘sweet spots’ in ministry. Below is a snippet of what I shared with the Elders when we first talked about this several months ago:
- With the continued growth of the Shape Women’s Ministry (145 ladies at Rejuvenate…that’s just crazy) and requests for her to counsel ladies; with the continued growth of the church and the increasing time it takes to manage my schedule, requests for meetings, and communications on my behalf, Traci is not able to spend the time needed to continue to grow Women’s Ministry. By removing her media and communication responsibilities it allows her to redeem and re-purpose that time for greater effectiveness and growth for Friendship.
- With our continued growth as a church, our print, digital, photographic, and web media needs continue to grow. This growth is becoming increasingly difficult for Dustin to manage effectively and is beginning to demand more time than can adequately be given without negatively affecting his main responsibilities. Bringing in Sarah will free him up to spend more time and energy in developing the creative arts ministry while at the same time allowing the communications/media areas to continue to grow.
I can’t hardly believe that we were able to get someone of this caliber with this much experience. This will allow us to continue to grow as we grow as a church and relieve a significant bottleneck of time, resources, energy, talents, and people. I’m really looking forward to the many things that God is going to allow us to do through Sarah’s expertise and incredible work ethic!
Send your congratulations and prayers to her new e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For some the decision was abominable.
For others it was justice.
Some believe that the whole event was simply and completely about race.
Others see it as a bad circumstance gone awful.
Here are the indisputable facts as we stand here today. A young man is now in eternity. Another man’s life is altered forever. A set of parents will never see their boy again. Justified or unjustified, Zimmerman will forever live with the weight of having taken another man’s life. People on both sides of the issue, who do not have all the information (no one does, we weren’t there) are throwing out accusations at those who are on the opposite side of the issue. The media, as always, are doing their best to profit from the lives that have been lost and altered. And, criminals (yes they are criminals) are attacking innocent people in the name of someone they never met or knew.
Regardless of what you think about the event, the trial, and the verdict, I’d like to share a few things with you that, if you truly believe the Bible, we should all agree on.
Racism is a sin. Did you know that the term ‘races’ is a modern word, and in the original language it isn’t even used in the Bible? Now, our modern Bibles have indeed used the word ‘race’ because it is commonly used today, but the best, most accurate translation would simply be ‘peoples’. The Bible teaches very clearly that God created one man and on woman(Gen 2:20-25), and that from their seed every human being on the planet has their existence, and their sinful nature (Romans 5:12-13). One of the largest reason I verbally, strongly, and vehemently resist evolution, is that at its core is racism. Evolution teaches that the different ‘races’ are at different levels of the evolutionary development (Great article laying this out: http://www.icr.org/article/55/). To discriminate against anyone because of the color of their skin is not only stupid, but it is outright sin. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world (Rom 5:8ff), that all mankind is loved by God (John 3:16), and that we are to treat everyone that we meet as ‘better than ourselves’ (Phil 2:3). And I want to be VERY clear here, I have seen massive racism since this verdict was announced, and it wasn’t just from ‘white’ people. Yes, racism is a two way street that is walked by all shades of skin pigmentation!
Politics, government, rallies, and benefit concerts will never end racism. If racism is a sin you cannot legislate it away. You cannot elect a politician who gives great and rousing speeches who will convince people to stop being racist. I don’t care if you have a million people at a rally shouting “Racism is evil!”, you’ll have 10 million thinking racist thoughts as they watch them do it on the tv. And, personally, if one more self-appointed, self-important, alcoholic, drug induced, narcistic, actress/actor/singer/songwriter/musician/entertainer gives their ignorant opinion on this I just might barf…was that too much?
The hope and freedom that Jesus offers is the only hope and true freedom! You want to stop racism, to end violence, to shut the human trafficking and sex slave industries down, to end abortions, and every other hot button issue you can think of? Then my friend, you need to start living like and start sharing Jesus Christ. Jesus can take the grand marshal/pubah, whatever, of the KKK and turn him into an inter-city missionary married to a girl from South-Central Philly! Jesus can transform a Black Panther into a suburban pastor married to a girl from Minnesota! You don’t believe me, look at the Apostle Paul. He had more hate in his heart for Christian and Gentiles than Farrakhan has for ‘white people’. In Paul’s own words he called himself the ‘worst of sinners’ yet Jesus not only saved him, but made him THE missionary/apostle to the Gentile world.
My friends, our world will never change because sin reigns here. Until the day that Jesus returns and restores, this world will continue to careen towards the abyss. But that doesn’t mean we cannot be an influence for change in the lives around us. Look at the people around you, who needs Jesus? What role does Christ want you to play in their lives? Your story is powerful, tell it! Your life speaks of Jesus, let Him be heard! You want to change the world? Well, you can’t……But Jesus can!