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    Views and opinions expressed in this blog should not be associated with Hyde Park Baptist Church unless specifically stated. You know the drill...this is just me and my thoughts.
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    "Worship is communion with God in which believers, by grace, center their mind's attention and their heart's affection on the Lord, humby glorifying God in response to His greatness and His Word." ~Dr. Bruce Leafblad
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God never ceases to amaze me

We have a house. It’s a nice house. We’ve enjoyed our house. We’ve fixed up our house. We even hug it and call it George…okay, maybe not. The problem with this house? We need to sell it before we can afford to buy another house (or even afford to rent another house) in Pickens…where God has called us to move our service to.

The house in Elberton has some advantages…it is the only four bedroom house within this price range (closest ones are close to $100,000 more). It has a new roof. It has a new Heat pump/AC unit. It has new Pergo floors (personally installed, if I do say so myself). It has many perks for a home buyer…but, the housing market stinks. The housing market in Elberton…even stinkier.

With an hour and half drive from Elberton to Pickens…it’s not really a commute I’d like to make every day. I can. I will if I have to…but it looks like God has done it again. Even in the midst of this poor market, He has shown His mercy.

There is a couple in my new church in Pickens that just happens to have an “extra”; house. It’s a nice three bed two bath split level house on approximately 20 acres up very close to Lake Keowee (near Salem). It is only a mere 30 minute drive from the house to the church. A much more doable commute. The best news? They are not going to charge any rent! We’ll pay utilities (electric, gas, tv, etc.). I’ll keep the yard mowed. We’ll keep the house in working condition…but no rent! The couple is very friendly, very helpful, and can’t say enough nice things about the church to which we’ve been called. We so look forward to this time.

This is just one more little example of the ripples of life (as I like to call them). This couple’s daughter met some friends at school. Those friends invited her to come to Awana at their church. Like ripples from a rock thrown into a pond, those ripples crossed into this girl’s parent’s lives. They began attending the same church. Those ripples crossed the pastor’s path as he and his family got the same courtesy from this couple as we are about to get (free rent). Those ripples now expand into our lives. The ripples from our lives are about to intersect the lives of those in East Pickens Baptist Church.

God is always at work. He is Good and He is in control. Find where He’s working and go join Him (not my idea, look at Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God). Have you joined Him in His work around you?


Some things never die…

I’ve had five motorcycles in my life. The first was a Honda Shadow 500. GREAT started bike; light and manueverable. Windshield, saddlebags, passenger backrest, Red/White paint…nice bike. THe second bike was a Honda Shadow 750. Sweet Maroon/Black color combo. It was a nice step up even though there were about 2-3 years from selling the previous to getting the 750. 

 The third bike was another 2-3 years later and was a HUGE step up…A Yamaha V-Star 1100. I had that bike for about 3 years. Loved it. It was basically the Silverado package, but not the Silverado package (all the same accessories, but done better…) It was a nice gray/white paint job. Plenty of extras and a nice ride with the 1063 cc engine.

I (stupidly) traded up to a Yamaha FJR1300. I had kept my eye on the FJR1300 since its inception in 2003. I had always thought it would be the perfect bike for me. I found the right deal with WOW Motorcycles in Marietta, GA and it was done. I had a good 2 years or so on the bike but was somewhat disappointed. It wasn’t all I had hoped. It had serious power, enough to scare me, and great slow speed handling (turning and all). But it just wasn’t doing it for me.

If you’ve read my last few posts, you know God’s called me from my ministry in Elberton, GA to a new work in Pickens, SC. In the interview process and the Sunday I lead worship, I have found that, in my brief time and uneducated estimation, that I would guess at least a third of the congregation ride. Though my wife and I have tried to sell the FJR, it just hasn’t happened. Now I think I know why…so I can ride with my new church members.

In thinking through that exciting probability, I wanted to get back to the cruiser world. I found this little gem at WOW Motorcycles too. Thanks to their efforts and the repeat customer thing, they gave me a great deal and I traded the FJR for this 2006 Yamaha Midnight Custom (V-Star 1100). I can’t even tell you how I like it. It’s so great to be back on the cruiser. Some loves never die…

Who leads the church?

My resignation from FBC Elberton has come at a difficult time in the life of the church. Because many former pastors in this church have left under questionable circumstances (either on their own part or someone else’s), I have told everyone that my door is always open. I will always tell the whole truth about the circumstances surrounding my departure. Ask me the hard questions. I’ll give you the hard answers from my perspective.

In a nutshell, though there were some difficult things happening at FBC to help me see that God might be moving us away, the real crux of the matter is that He has ordained another work for me in another church that has been without a music minister for close to two years.

But, again, this comes with great difficulty – on my part leaving a church I love and friends I care about, and on their part for losing a valued staff member and being made aware of church issues that many have turned their eyes away from for too long. As a result, many great questions are being asked. “What do we do now?” “How do we get there?” “Who’s going to lead us there?”

So allow me to give my understanding of leadership structure in a church setting and what we know about how it affects people. There are really only two models (some variations in each model).

The first is the Deacon/Committee led structure. Since pastors often move in and out (sometimes too often!), this structure allows a lot of continuity. It allows the church to really lead itself, make the tough decisions, and accomplish many great things. Unfortunately, this structure often supersedes the pastor’s authority in a negative way. It can often create a tenuous relationship between the pastor and the governing structure of the same church. This model of leadership is a long-standing model that hearkens back to “Little House on the Prairie” type community churches that rarely had pastors that did much more than preach. The church needed a structure like this to manage the day-to-day activities and week-to-week needs.

The second model of church leadership is a Pastor led model. This model gained its momentum in the 1980’s and 1990’s with pastors like Bill Hybels (Willowcreek) and Rick Warren (Saddleback). These pastors formed a structure where the pastors had the final say in anything involving the church. They still used “checks and balances” with other committees, but those committees did not lead the pastors, they were led by the pastors. The advantages of this are that the pastors could do whatever they felt God was desiring from them. The “red tape” was dissolved in order to get to the work of ministry as soon and effectively as possible. The disadvantages of such a structure can be seen in remembering some of the old “televangelists” that swindled thousands of people out of millions of dollars. Those men lost sight of their calling and used their position of influence to gain monetary prestige.

You can make a biblical case for either as the “right” way to do it…just as easily, you can make a biblical case against either structure. The bottom line is this…if the Deacon/Committee led structure follows God’s will or if the Pastor led structure follows God’s will, doesn’t God’s will still get accomplished?

Honestly, I believe the pastor led structure is more pertinent to our current cultural needs. The church should always be seeking to grow “younger”, in that without consistently reaching younger people, it will eventually die. Younger generations simple do not desire to deal with or concern themselves with the “political” tendencies of a Deacon/Committee led structure. The younger crowd simply wants to come to church, worship God Almighty, be fed by the Word through preaching and teaching, connect to others through fellowship and discipleship, and find a place to connect themselves to opportunities to minister to others. The younger crowd, in general, has no desire to be involved in the governance of their church. They want their pastors to lead them because they have complete faith in their calling to do so.

So I ask you this…who leads your church? Is it working in helping grow the church younger? Consider the following quote from Rick Warren in a forward of Erwin McManus’s An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church God Had in Mind, “The church is a body, not a business. It is an organism, not an organization. It is a family to be loved, not a machine to be engineered, and not a company to be managed.”

Just a funny for Tuesday…

Should an engagement cake look like something that a ransom note should be attached to?

Courtesy of http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/2009/06/celebrating-yes-with-bunch-of-nos.html

The Past versus the Future

We often think of that don’t we? We think of the past in a “days-gone-by” wonder, recalling all the great things we did or experienced. Like the song says, “Gimme that old time religion…” I can actually look back and remember what I was like as a brand new Christian ready to take on all of Hell with a water pistol. I can also look back over my past few years. These years have brought me my wife, my daughter, and a lot of people from a little town called Elberton, GA. There have been many good things…no, great things…happen here at FBC Elberton. Of course some bad too. But I choose to remember the good. A friend of mine just wrote a great post on forgiveness. When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer “forgive us our sins just as we forgive those who sin against us” – think about that… What if God really did only forgive us to the point that we forgive others? What if God gave us what we deserved like we want to give others what they deserve for wronging us? So, yes…some things at FBC have hurt me. But I choose to forgive. I choose to live in remembering the good…not the bad.

What about the future? I do greatly look forward to my future with East Pickens. I cannot wait to get in there, get my hands dirty, and see what that group of believers is capable of. I’ve always being surprised by what a group of believers could accomplish for the Kingdom of God. Since I’ll be “completing” the staff (they’ve had a great interim music guy for about 2 years), I’m looking forward to working alongside them to find God’s will for East Pickens and implement what’s necessary. It will be a great time.

But…the past versus the future? Do you dare compare? Does God want your attention to be on either more than the other? Does He desire for you to dwell on how you could have made the past better or on what you’ll do to make the future better? Joshua 24:15 has the answer… decide today, right now, in this very moment of time whom you will serve. “As for me and my house…we will serve the Lord.”

Thanks FBC Elberton

I wrote several months ago that I could not share what was going on in my life. The various readers of this blog prevented that because I did not, at that time, know what God was doing. The process was something I could not share until it was completed.

For about 7 months, my wife and I have been considering several opportunities to leave FBC Elberton. From several in Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, God has called us to a small town in South Carolina called Pickens. The church is East Pickens Baptist Church and has a great fit for who we are and where we are in our lives right now. Though I probably would not have picked this church for me or my family, God saw fit to do so and for that we are thankful. The further we have gotten into the process with East Pickens, the more we realized it not only was where God was leading, but was also what we needed.

Last Sunday, June 14, I was leading worship at East Pickens. They were to vote on asking me to join the staff that morning. It was a 99% approval and we knew it was going to be.

This Sunday, June 21, I had to tell my church. I’ve never been able to read a resignation speech without crying. Today was no exception. There are many people we dearly love at FBC and do not desire to depart company with…but we are tools in God’s hands and He has seen fit to move us. So…we go.

Thank you FBC for many years (almost 4 years) of partnership in ministry and life. We’ve accomplished a lot together, many of which were challenges I wasn’t sure you could make it to…but every time you proved me wrong and excelled. Though we all know FBC was not without its problems and issues, those were not the deciding factor in our decision to leave. Please do not point fingers or attempt to place blame on anyone. It was God’s doing – blame Him (betcha can’t for very long). All we can say is we’ll miss you greatly and we thank you for your support, encouragement, and partnership in ministry. May God richly bless you.

Now…to East Pickens…here we come. Are you ready? God’s done some amazing things in my life. I want you to share in those gifts. I desire for you to grow in Christ, grow in worship, and grow in your attitude towards things of Christ. I will challenge you beyond what you think you can handle. I will seek to lead you to the throne of worship in every service and in between. My desire is that you would learn that Sunday’s times of worship should be a celebration of the culmination of a week’s worth of living for Christ. Don’t think of it as a weekly “fill-up” so you tackle the week ahead…you’ll never catch up that way. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to being your Creative Worship Minister. See you soon.

Video – Creation vs. Evolution – Faith – tangle.com

I’ve been playing around on Tangle.com lately. It is what used to be GodTube…but totally revamped and actually cool now. Here’s a little skit on Creation vs. Evolution. (in your spare time, check out http://www.answersingenesis.org).

Vodpod videos no longer available.