Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Do You Think about Jeremiah Wright?

I confess. I am susceptible to media influence. I don't have (or take) time to investigate. How about you?

Like, when you hear the name Jeremiah Wright, do you immediately form an opinion? Or do you have a more informed opinion?

As a pastor it ticked me off that a soundbite of any pastor's sermon would be taken out of context and used for political purposes. I listened to the context of Rev. Wright's 'Damn America' sound bites. I challenge you to do the same. You may find to your shock that you agree with the point he was making too.

Reformed Blacks of America posted a good article that challenged my thinking in several directions. Then I took the 45 minutes to watch a more developed media interview with Rev. Wright and Bill Moyer on his 'Journal' show and I'm wiser for it.

I Agree with Jeremiah Wright
about a lot of things. I probably disagree with him about significant issues. But I'm not above learning from anyone. And I repent of my instant arrogance and judgmentalism.

I'm an arrogant fool, but God humbles me so I'll still learn about culture, diversity, theology and His Kingdom.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Kiss of Deaf

A new danger to teach your teenagers! More fodder for the birds and bees talk! One more reason to run from temp-TA-tion young PEEP-le! I am here to testify!

Imagine me on the youth speaker tour? "It wasn't years of runnin' sound for demonic back-beating Rock and Roll bands. (Turn it up to 11!) It had nothin' to do with getting blindsided in the head by a softball during intramurals. (Although that does explain some other issues.) This is why I am deaf in one ear. (Where's my Josh Harris dating book now?)

I admit it. The secret is out. It's all over the internet. I'm addicted to kissing. SHOCKING?! I've been kissing my wife since we were dating and I'm paying the price now. As our gang of rebellious suburbanites called it back in the dark days of the early 80s, there's been too much 'sucking face'."

Be warned! Too much kissy kiss can be dangerous!
(Thanks AW for the find)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Free iPod Touch is Crazy

A friend of mine came by the house the other day because he said the Lord told him to tell me that He (God) really loves me and that He (God) wanted me to know that He loves me. To experience it, deeply and with joy. And then the friend gave me an iPod Touch and said it was from God.

Yeah, that is crazy. My kids were shocked. Most people I tell this story are shocked not that God told someone to give me an iPod Touch, but that someone would actually do it.

I was shocked that God loves me and sent someone to tell me
See I have a real hard time accepting love that I didn't deserve. I'm more comfortable with working hard to make people like me and keeping them liking me. Well, I shouldn't say 'comfortable' because it is slavishly painful, but it is certainly more familiar.

And as a pastor, my feelings constantly associate being abandoned by people leaving the church. I'd rather them fight with me, get angry or something - but leaving is the worst. I'd actually rather perform so well that everyone stays and serves alongside me.

The fear of being left or rejected again presses on - even in the middle of great things happening in the church. But I didn't earn it. So I'm not happy in God's love.

Pretty pitiful. Thank God He has compassion on the broken
O God, help me receive Your love that is more than enough for rebellious hearts that want to earn and prove and fight You for the right to merit everything. Mercy!

LORD You are SO good and faithful. Thank You for your mercy and grace!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanks for My Father-in-law!!

I'm so thankful for God's protection and salvation! Here Elizabeth, my wife, explains our gratitude!
In 1962, my dad was navigating for this helicopter, when the pilot ran into some wires. When my dad looked up and saw what was happening, he called upon the name of the Lord and was saved.
The blades came into the cockpit and scratched his legs and dented the cigarette lighter in his boot, but he and the pilot were fine. He told this story of God's goodness with tears in his eyes at Thanksgiving dinner. I would not be here if he had not survived.

At the time of this picture, John Edward Kreiner was an Army helicopter pilot with a wife Regina and twin daughters Kim and Karen. My wife was not yet born. She would not be here except for God's saving mercy. Neither would my children, Jake, Erica and Elysia, whom I love!

And I would not be the man I am had God not saved my father-in-law - this time and several others during his entire career as a MASH helicopter pilot in Korea and Vietnam.
Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

With Obushama, the Rich Get Bailouts and the Poor Get Poorer

Obushama! Is something wrong with the picture? Its the same thing. Obama and Bush Obushama are doing the same thing!

The old and new administrations are essentially the same. They are both trying to bail our way out of an economic downturn by giving more money to the rich and powerful. Today I hear it's going to be another $800 billion in bailouts? Is that 1.5 trillion now - to the rich, to try to keep companies afloat so people can keep their jobs and keep consuming stuff on credit. Great. Thanks Obushama! That is really going to help the poor!

And according to Time online not one dollar will get to the rising number of people living in poverty.

Granted, poverty in America isn't poverty in Haiti, but the injustice of it all irks me. Where is all the change?

Are Lunatics Running the Asylum Obushama? Where is all the change?
Now Obushama tells us he is going to cut 'wasteful' government programs. Yeah right, wait until those special interest groups start complaining! How does that help the poor learn job skills and character that will enable them to work with dignity? It won't.

The churches and welfare agencies are going to see HUGE increases in people needing help with finding jobs and feeding themselves and Obushama wants to start massive infrastructure projects building roads and bridges. Guess who is going to get awarded those contracts? Not the poor!

How is that a change?
Real Change would be to help the churches help the poor learn character. Learn SPECIFICALLY NOT to go into debt! Instead, there are 10 million more poor people now than in 2007 and Citi Bank - who hands out credit cards to people like a drug dealer trying to hook new users - they get a bailout!

The poor have dignity and are created by God to work. Government programs that increase availability of credit aren't going to help the poor!

Okay, I need to breathe. Sorry, I get so worked up when I see solutions offered by our government that make the situation worse.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is This Where the Emergent Church is Headed?

Is this where the church is headed?
This is just so wrong. On so many levels.
For so many reasons.

(WARNING: This video involves people disrobing in church and may cause seriously disturbing thoughts to go through your head.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Content with Less

I preached on being content recently and it startled me - into more contentment in Christ. Since August, when I went down for foot surgery, I have had less internal stress and more joy (and contentment) in Christ's work for me.

It's nice to have a season of rest, even with the whole world apparently headed into a recession. Amazingly I'm not worried very much. I hope I hold up this well when more poo hits the fan.

If you have been praying for me, thanks!

(by the way, that is not a picture of my hands and stomach...)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Next President Will Change the World?

One of the many revelers who spontaneously flocked to the White House after Obama's win, chanting, screaming and waving signs like, "Why Wait? Evict Bush Now," summed it up.
"I came down here to make a prayer ... that we'll be able to change the nation and the world,"

So ends one of the many hundreds of articles about President-Elect Obama's mandate to change the US and the world. I can't help but wonder how people have such high expectations?

I think we are in for some serious heartache and disappointment.

After 30+ years of trying to change myself and a few people, only the route of brokenness in Christ has changed me at all. And even then I have so far to go...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Congratulations President Elect Obama

Now broken Christians and fractured saints, let's pray.

For God to protect Obama from idiots and fools.
Who would seek to steer him into sin.
Who would seek to increase arrogance in our nation.
Who would fight God's purpose of humbling and saving His elect.
Who might think we have elected a king.

And especially protect him from fools who would seek to do him harm out of prejudice, racism and hate.

I'm a broken pastor asking broken people to be praying for another broken leader.

And remembering that God is the King over all the earth!

Monday, November 03, 2008

I want Peace after this Election

This Monday morning between 8:30 and 9:30 I've already had five phone calls from live campaigners. I usually take it slow on Monday morning. But everyone wants my vote!

I want peace.
I want peace (and quiet) at home. No more phone ringing, attack ads on TV and my mailbox bulging with junk.

I want peace on the streets too. I was a kid living in a small town in the 70s. I only saw riots on TV news. But I live in ATL now. There's a part of me that worries that some folks will get so mad about the outcome of this presidential race, that they will fight. Am I being dramatic? We'll have to wait 36 hours to see.

I want peace in the church. Our church has both Democrats and Republicans (shocking?) and I told everyone to vote their conscience and then obey God and pray for whoever wins, live a quiet life, pay your taxes and remember who governs you supremely is not Obama or McCain, but Christ Jesus.

Don't get all on your high horse about this political season. It is small potatoes (or more accurately a drop in the bucket according to the prophet Isaiah).

1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:1-7

Christ Jesus is our King! The next president of the United States is His servant.

Let's keep this all in perspective. And let's all keep the peace.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Love Your Kids? Kill Your TV?

According to a study by the journal Pediatrics young children who watch TV have a 28% higher chance of developing ADHD when they are in early elementary school.
We found that early exposure to television was associated with subsequent attentional problems

our findings suggest that preventive action can be taken with respect to attentional problems in children. Limiting young children’s exposure to television as a medium during formative years of brain development consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations may reduce children’s subsequent risk of developing ADHD

And do we need all that mindless crap going through our minds? Man am I guilty of just using TV to numb my brain. I guess it is cheaper and more legal than other addictions, but really, should we as decent human beings aim higher than television?

I do like to watch my Falcons and movies are fun. But I find myself and my kids flipping channels or watching stupid brainless shows. And why?

An ancient writer says, 'whatever is true, noble, pure, right, excellent - think on these things." Wouldn't we all be better served to follow this wisdom?

Back When I Had A Spine

We kept our TV in a closet until our kids were 8, 6 and 3 and got it out only for videos and stuff. I think the only reason it stays out now is that we're all addicted to LOST and The Office (and I'm too lazy to put it away and get it out.)

I watch most of the programs my daughters watch (not all because I'm a great fan) so I can relate to them about it. We talk back to the screen, point out the stupid and wrong things purported in shows and commercials (and debates and SNL Weekend Update) but I wonder if we'd be better off just killing the whole thing....

Is it un-American to kill your TV?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stupidity Happens Up North, But No Redneck Jokes Yet

This is terrible news. An 8 year-old boy accidentally shot himself with an Uzi while under adult supervision at a gun show. Absolutely a tragic day for that family and anyone who remotely appreciates the constitutional right and to bear arms responsibly.

But the adults at that event were STUPID to let an 8 year-old hold a loaded machine gun, much less fire it.

And you know what I'm curious to see? How does the rest of the media (yes, I am technically a member of the media now that I have a blog) handle the news and commentary?

If this had happened in one of my beloved home states in the South, every comedian (except maybe Jeff Foxworthy) would make redneck jokes about it and comment on how people in rural America cling to their guns and religion - oh wait, that was a presidential candidate who said that... sorry, I'm mad and rambling.

This little boy died at a gun show an hour from Boston Massachusetts because his parents were stupid. People do stupid things everywhere and people loose their lives.

Why? Because actions have consequences. That is the moral order of the universe.

THINK! Ideas and actions have consequences! Say "NO" when kids ask to hold or shoot loaded machine guns! Say "NO" when it is the right thing to say but isn't popular!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Yeah, sometimes I am shocked! God hears and answers our prayers! My friend and our brother in Christ Jesus is OUT of JAIL and home with his family! Wow! I don't know anymore details than that, but it is not a joke and has been confirmed. So I'm partying!

If you wanted to get caught up, I wrote about the likelihood of him being hanged like his father here and his initial imprisonment here on 9/11.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Check Kiting Weakness

Does anybody remember 'check kiting' and how it worked?

I think it is actually illegal. So don't do this! But I have friends who told me back before banks were so automated, it took about 3-4 days for a check you wrote to clear the bank and the money to actually be taken out of your account. So even if you had $2 in you account on Friday, you *could* write a check to pay for groceries on Friday, get paid on Monday and take the deposit to the bank before the check came through. The money floated over the weekend, hence the term 'kiting.'

I am a 'prayer kiter.'

At the foundation of my life, I am weak. I minister and preach and lead my live, my family and this church (pretty much do everything) expecting that the deposit of Christ's power is going to get there even when I am empty and before I hit the ground.

I live off of the anticipated generous prayers of God's people like I used to kite a check.

Please pray for me today. Pray not that I externally conform to some set of rules or have some mysterious feeling, but that I love my heavenly Father and don't fall for the temptation to live like an orphan, but rather fall like a beloved son into the arms of the Most High God.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hanged for Being a Christian

How long before Christians in America face this reality?

OUR FAMILY is being systematically and illegally persecuted, tortured and murdered.

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ!

Pictured - father, hanged in 1980 and son Ramtin, currently arrested and awaiting judicial outcome. From the Telegraph article

This is the first and only article in the mainstream media in the US or Europe about the national movement in Iran to execute Christians. From the Telegraph in the UK.

Excerpts from the article Saturday:
Hanged for being a Christian in Iran
Eighteen years ago, Rashin Soodmand's father was hanged in Iran for converting to Christianity. Now her brother is in a Mashad jail, and expects to be executed under new religious laws brought in this summer. Alasdair Palmer reports.

Last Updated: 8:55PM BST 11 Oct 2008
Rashin Soodmand, whose father was hanged in Iran for converting to Christianity
Life for Rashin Soodmand, her siblings and her mother became extremely difficult after her father was executed in Iran for the 'crime' of abandoning his religion Photo: PAUL GROVER
Hossein Soodmand, Rashin's father, was hanged in Iran after converting to Christianity. Her brother Mashad is now in death row awaiting the same fate
Hossein Soodmand (left), Rashin's father, was the last man to be executed in Iran for apostasy. Her brother Mashad is now in death row awaiting the same fate

A month ago, the Iranian parliament voted in favour of a draft bill, entitled "Islamic Penal Code", which would codify the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves his Islamic faith. Women would get life imprisonment. The majority in favour of the new law was overwhelming: 196 votes for, with just seven against.

Imposing the death penalty for changing religion blatantly violates one of the most fundamental of all human rights. The right to freedom of religion is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the European Convention of Human Rights. It is even enshrined as Article 23 of Iran's own constitution, which states that no one may be molested simply for his beliefs.

And yet few politicians or clerics in Iran see any contradiction between a law mandating the death penalty for changing religion and Iran's constitution. There has been no public protest in Iran against it.

David Miliband, Britain's Foreign Secretary, stands out as one of the few politicians from any Western country who has put on record his opposition to making apostasy a crime punishable by death. The protest from the EU has been distinctly muted; meanwhile, Germany, Iran's largest foreign trading partner, has just increased its business deals with Iran by more than half. Characteristically, the United Nations has said nothing.

It is a sign of how little interest there is in Iran's intention to launch a campaign of religious persecution that its parliamentary vote has still not been reported in the mainstream media.

For one woman living in London, however, the Iranian parliamentary vote cannot be brushed aside. Rashin Soodmand is a 29-year-old Iranian Christian. Her father, Hossein Soodmand, was the last man to be executed in Iran for apostasy, the "crime" of abandoning one's religion. He had converted from Islam to Christianity in 1960, when he was 13 years old. Thirty years later, he was hanged by the Iranian authorities for that decision.

Today, Rashin's brother, Ramtin, is also held in a prison cell in Mashad, Iran's holiest city. He was arrested on August 21. He has not been charged but he is a Christian. And Rashin fears that, just as her father was the last man to be executed for apostasy in Iran, her brother may become one of the first to be killed under Iran's new law.

Not surprisingly, Rashin is desperately worried. "I am terribly anxious about him," she explains. "Even though my brother is not an apostate, because he has never been a Muslim – my father raised us all as Christians – I don't think he is safe. They assume that if you are Iranian, you must be Muslim."

Her brother's situation has ominous echoes of her father's fate. Rashin was 14 when her father was arrested. "He was held in prison for one month," she remembers. "Then the religious police released him without explanation and without apology. We were overjoyed. We thought his ordeal was over."

But six months later, the police came back and took her father away again. This time, they offered him a choice: he could denounce his Christian faith, and the church in which he was a pastor – or he would be killed. "Of course, my father refused to give up his faith," Rashid recalls proudly. "He could not renounce his God. His belief in Christ was his life – it was his deepest conviction." So two weeks later, Hossein Soodmand was taken by guards to the prison gallows and hanged.

Life for Rashin, her siblings and her mother became extremely difficult. Some Muslims are extremely hostile to people of any other religion, never mind to those who they consider apostates: Ayatollah Khomeini declared that "non-Muslims are impure", insisting that for Muslims to wash the clothes of non-Muslims, or to eat food with non-Muslims, or even to use utensils touched by non-Muslims, would spoil their purity.

The family was supported with financial and other help from a Christian church based in Iran. That support became even more critical as Rashin's mother began to lose her sight. Rashin herself was eventually able to leave Iran. She now lives in London, married to a fellow Christian from Iran who successfully applied for asylum in Germany.

It took years for Rashin to understand how her father could have been legally executed simply for becoming a Christian. In 1990, there was no parliamentary law mandating the death for apostates. What, then, was the legal basis for Hossein Soodmand's execution?

On one subject, however, sharia law is unequivocal: men who change their religion from Islam must be punished with death. So when the judge heard the case of Rashid's father, he could refer to sharia and reach a straightforward decision: the death penalty. There was no procedure for appeal.

Nevertheless, in the 18 years since Hossein Soodmand's execution, there have been no judicially sanctioned killings of apostates in Iran, although there have been many reports of disappearances and even murders. "As the number of converts from Islam grows," notes Ms Papadouris, "apostasy has again become a serious concern for the Iranian government." In addition to 10,000 Christian converts living in Iran, there are several hundred thousand Baha'is who are deemed apostates.

There is another factor: President Ahmadinejad. "The President didn't initiate the law mandating the death penalty for apostates," says Papadouris, "but he has been lobbying for it. It is an effective form of playing populist politics. The Iranian economy is doing very badly, and the country is in a mess: Ahmadinejad may be calculating that he can gain support, and deflect attention from Iran's problems, by persecuting apostates."

The new law is not yet in force in Iran: it requires another vote in parliament, and then the signature of the Ayatollah. But that could happen within a matter of weeks. "Or," says Papadouris, "it could conceivably be allowed to drop, were there a powerful enough international outcry".

Time may be running out for Rashin's brother. She believes that the new law will be applied in an arbitrary fashion, with individuals selected for death being chosen to frighten others into submission. That is why she fears for her brother. "We just don't know what will happen to him. We only know that if they want to kill him, they will."

This is 'sharing in the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Are you ready?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Your Vote Does Not Count - And I'm Glad

Shocking isn't it?!

Yeah, I've been out of town celebrating my wife's birthday, but I have not lost my touch for saying things that tick people off... It's good to be home.

Here's the truth about the Presidential election. In all the fuss over who we are going to vote for (or not vote for) I actually read the US constitution the other day and it still provides absolutely no basis for a general election of the president of the USA. (Article II, Section 1)

So electing our next president is out of your hands in two ways.

One Way Your Vote Doesn't Count

If you failed to pay attention in 8th grade social studies class, here's the deal. The 50 States through the electoral college elect the President. No matter what it looks like on the ballot you fill out, you and I have no ‘official’ vote - our states commission a group of people who vote for president and they could all go crazy and cast their votes as they want - and there is no legal basis to undo the work of the electoral college. (Remember the 2000 presidential election?)

Second Way Your Vote Doesn't Count

Both our major party presidents sound like they are running for the office of 'King.'

They are making promises that they can’t keep. The President is limited by the constitution from doing MOST of the things they promise to do. The legislative branch is limited too. It’s crazy talk. Don't be fooled by either.

By the way, Christ is already King - and He didn’t need or ask for our vote.

Why I'm Glad Your Vote Doesn't Count

If you know Christ Jesus is King and in total control, then it puts this election in perspective and gives us so peace. It reminds us who believe in Christ that we are here to serve as His ambassadors. He'll take care of the political issues.

He always has and He always will.

Jesus left us with a question that puts this election in perspective: Will He find you and me faithfully serving Him?

Or are we wasting our time and energy obsessing over such a small matter as the president of the USA for the next four years?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thanks to Our Heroes Training for the Front Lines

I never knew how much it takes to make a church healthy, or even how to develop a healthy organization. We are making significant strides in many key areas. We have a LOT to celebrate!

We don't take for granted that the worship is going to be well planned, that the music will both rock and encourage you. We appreciate the team that makes that happen.

We don't just expect that your kids' ministry will be awesome, we are grateful that it is awesome. We appreciate the team that makes that happen.

We appreciate how much work it takes to put together a Christ-centered, biblically accurate, hermeneutically sound, interesting, personal challenging sermon that isn't too long (too often). We appreciate the team that makes that happen.

We may not know who opens the church and locks it up on Sunday. who organizes, trains and then makes the bulletins, cleans the facility, cares for the babies and toddlers and everything else. But we appreciate the team that makes that happen.

Heroes. Volunteer ministers. Servants of the Most High God. For them I thank my Lord Jesus!

Five Years Ago
Five years ago, we started Crosspoint with a band of 15 volunteers on the ground and over 120 people supporting us financially and 300 praying regularly.

Now we have over 100 members, 35 plus volunteer ministers leading a dedicated core of 80 people in small groups, kids' ministry, a church plant in Powder Springs, a Hispanic ministry every Sunday at 2pm, Restoration ministry, youth ministry, admin, elders, deacons, missions and Sunday worship. And let me tell you it feels great to be surrounded by such a dedicated team - a family of humble servants.

I was laid up for almost two months with limited range of motion, but SEVEN people professed faith in that time. Amazing.

Five Years from Now
It will be a truly God-sized impact Crosspoint is making in Smyrna, Atlanta and around the world. Hold on to your hats. Invite your friends, your family and your dog, it is going to be awesome.

I want to thanks just some of the people who are joyfully suffering to serve. It is not easy to minister and train and lead and love your family. These folks are doing it well. We are blessed to have them on our team.

Anthony Brogan - a most loyal man. A fellow fighter stretching to lead kids and youth ministry
Jim Payne - one of the best worship leaders and musicians in our denom - because he wants to be here bad enough to raise support
Hector and Cecilia Guzman - three years ago they lived in Mexico City - now they are helping lead three Hispanic ministries in metro Atlanta, including our 'Encuentro' ministry 2pm Sundays. All by faith that God will provide.
Jose Mateo - our bi-vocational church planter at our daughter church making it happen, faithfully leading, enduring the pressures and struggles of the battle. A brother from a different mother.

Amazing people - because of Obedience to Christ
They do this service because God has called them and because the love Crosspoint.
Tell them you love them. Give them a small gift this October. Write them a note of appreciation for what they do.

Thanks for generously giving and passionately following us as we follow Jesus. We appreciate it.

Palin in the Pulpit?

This blog entry by 'I'm Speaking Truth' has a video worth watching and it's just so good in so many ways.

I don't agree with everything that IST says in every blog (like not voting for president) but I appreciate his candor and his willingness to tackle hard issues straight on.

It's a video of Dr. Voddie Baucham answering the question 'Why evangelicals support Sarah Palin, but wouldn't allow her to preach' is awesome.

Catch Dr. Baucham’s quote:
We are about the Gospel. The culture doesn’t dictate truth, the Gospel dictates truth. My job is not to be a political pundit or a political activist - my job is to be a pastor, and proclaim the truth of the Gospel as clearly as I can.

That is good stuff there!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Financial Frustrations in Perspective

I'm just mad right now.

As I think we all should be. See, we are sure going to miss all that money we have to spend bailing out banks and insurance companies...

According to this article in the Marietta Daily News by Don McKee, this financial bailout has been anticipated by many over the course of the last five years, but CONGRESS has stalled attempts to reform.

Does it make you want to know how your congressmen and senator voted?

Does it make you want to vote out the bums who waited around until it was to late to do anything?

An Article Among Many

In September 2003, President Bush recommended what even the New York Times described as "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago."

Bush's plan called for a new oversight agency for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage industry giants that urgently needed reining in. Immediate opposition came from such groups as the homebuilders association and Democrats in Congress concerned about low-income and affordable housing.

This was how Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, then the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, put it: "These two entities - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

Republicans had a majority in Congress but only by the narrowest margin in the Senate, which meant any measure opposed by the Democrats could not get through, particularly since it would take a super majority of 60 votes to overcome procedural roadblocks.

When Congress convened in January 2005, then-House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas predicted regulatory reform would come. The House approved a reform bill that included affordable housing funding, while the Senate Banking Committee voted 11-9 in a party-line vote for a bill that did not include the housing provision.

In a Senate speech on May 25, 2006, Sen. John McCain pointed to Fannie Mae's self-serving accounting manipulations by senior management, resulting in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal that included phony earnings to trigger big payoffs for the former CEO.

McCain called for reform "without delay." As a co-sponsor of the Senate reform bill (S.190), he urged quick passage. He told the Senate:

"If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole. I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this....reform legislation."

But for the third straight year, regulatory reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac foundered, "derailed by partisan disagreements over investment portfolios and an affordable housing fund," Congressional Quarterly Weekly reported. The Senate bill never made it to the floor because of those "partisan disagreements."

In August last year when the financial system was rocked by big losses in Europe on packages of U.S. mortgage securities, Bush rejected a plan to let Fannie and Freddie go over their mortgage investment limit. First, he said, Congress should reform the agencies.

No, said Democrat Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and a presidential candidate: "There is no reason why such reform is a necessary precondition to a modification of the cap."

Now we'll see if they can put Humpty Dumpty together again.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hard Calls

The NFL was all in a lather over referee Ed Hochuli’s game-deciding mistake in Denver last Sunday. He blew a fumble call that would have sealed the win for the San Diego Chargers. They ended up losing. And for some people it was the end of the world.

My bet is that the mistake was hardest on Ed Hochuli himself.

Making the Call
I was a volunteer ref in a church basketball league for kids one year. It was one of those leagues where all the coaches had to take a turn reffing other games. I blew some calls. And for some people it was the end of the world.

But you know what? I liked the job. And it wasn't the end of the world for anybody. I liked working with the kids. And the coaches. They knew how challenging it was to make the hard call.

Congress should have made some hard calls a few years ago to regulate the Macs and our financial markets. This crisis is bad, but it won't be the end of the world either.

I sat with a mother recently as she wept over her son's arrest. She can't make anymore calls for him. Where is the father? I don't know. That was more the end of the world than Ed's call or even the financial crisis. Why?

Because it is happening far more often and has far longer consequences that an NFL game or a financial downturn. His life will be ruined and will ruin others lives for generations - unless Christ intervenes.

Who has to make a lot of hard calls?
I meet with several pastors and church leaders from various denominations, theologies and backgrounds each week for prayer, encouragement, mentoring and coaching.

And every one to a person this week has expressed that this battle leading the church is really hard discouraging work. And they (we) are making the calls to unify diverse churches, expand ministries, reach communities and mobilize hundreds of people to serve our King Jesus Christ and the expansion of His holy and gracious rule over us.

We are the ones who are making the hard calls and have the best chance to lead more people away from end of the world scenarios.

We need Christ to intervene through us all!
Everyday men and women on the front lines of ministry should be making hard calls. We need not fear an Ed Hochuli hullabaloo from the church if we are all a part of working in concert with Christ's interventions!

Our King is fully in control and works everything out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

If you are in a church where you are being led by self-humbling men and women who are imitating Christ Jesus and working to spread the gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, then thank God for them - and get trained by them, serve alongside them. The Church is God's only ordained institution for the redemption and restoration of the world.

Ask your pastors and leaders to teach you how to do ministry along side them. When church leaders equip and multiply volunteer ministers, we'll have an army of Christ's family making a huge difference in our city. Support and join with your pastors, elders and leaders. They will appreciate the encouragement.

I'm a lot like Ed the Referee, I'm harder on myself than anybody. Pray that thousands will answer the call to make the hard calls in life. Then millions will believe in the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ. Especially me of little faith.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Debt Perspective: URGENT QUESTION!

URGENT QUESTION! Should anyone with a credit card be smiling?

For a bit of perspective, six months ago if you had added up the grand total of every American citizens credit card debt was almost a trillion dollars.

According to Howard Scripps News Service, as of February 2008, the Federal Reserve reported the total revolving consumer credit debt in the United States at nearly $950 billion.

That was before the economic downturn got as severe as it is now. The 'Plan' now is to rescue an entire financial system with $700 billion dollars of taxpayers' money. Taxpayers' money. Our money.

It gives me the heebie-jeebies to think about it. What is wrong with our leaders? Are people really that greedy or gullible? Evidently.

I'm Just Saying - It Ain't Easy Being Broke
If you are one of the millions of people in America in consumer debt, you are in a very precarious position and our government is putting us all in deeper. Time for a gut check!

I was raised in a low-income household but my parents were stubborn (or smart) and wouldn't take credit from anybody. Sort of old-fashioned I know. Off and on we qualified for reduced lunch but they wouldn't take it. Always took a PB&J, fritos, an oatmeal cake and an apple. (It was hard being broke but I survived.)

My parents came from stock like my Papaw who worked every day since he finished WWII at a dry cleaners until the day they made him retire - over 45 years. They never went in debt, paid off the house way early and saved up his money. He's 83 now. He lives simply and looks like a financial genius now.

When my wife and I got married fresh out of school, her parents gave us a book called Master Your Money that outlined how to handle your money the way the Bible has taught for millenia.

It's Easier Out of Debt
It has been so hard to 'suffer' without new cars, new furniture, new clothes every season. But its sure not as hard for us now. It really works. I want you to know how you can do it too.

This article in the local Marietta paper about Dave Ramsey is on the radio 640AM 3-7pm in ATL (a real radio station, not a 'Christian' station). Every day he's helping people do what the Bible says with their money. I like that - a lot. We want to help a bunch more people get freed from the slavery of debt. Or never get in it at all.

Interested in helping? Let me know.

Need a hand? Crosspoint offers two programs each year designed to help practically. Jobs for Life teaches essential job skills to help people find earn a livable wage and Financial Peace University teaches people how to get out of debt and handle their finances the way the Bible teaches.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Financial Bailout is Serious

So after reading about our government's 'jaw dropping' financial bailout plan, I'm wondering:

1. In the Paulson/Bush plan will mortgage and credit companies continue to be allowed by the Bush (and future administrations) to practice predatory lending that got us in the this mess in the first place?
2. What penalty will individuals have to pay for signing up for loans that they could not pay? Is there going to be personal accountability or an 'I'm a victim' excuse making?

Moral Response REQUIRED

Will Americans learn their lessons or just keep on living undisciplined, unbiblical, rebellious and unwise lives?
Will churches boldly teach financial truths and train people HOW to live morally upright financial lives?

We will at Crosspoint. This is a serious matter. Jesus said, 'You either serve God or money.' (Matthew 6)

Crosspoint will be offering 'Financial Peace University' beginning in January. It has helped 50+ families and singles locally get out of debt, save, avoid making stupid decisions and live wisely in this culture that lies to us all saying 'you can have what you want now and pay for it later.'

Here's a great short piece reminding us that praying for our economy is loving our neighbors.

Listen to Dave Ramsey's radio show in ATL on 640 WGST for solid biblical teaching every afternoon 3-6pm.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Grandfather the Famous Ray Moon

This is great for name recognition. My name is James Ray Moon, Jr. I'm named after my grandfather Ray Moon.

Bodybuilder Ray Moon (R), who is turning 80 this year, competes in the Victorian Bodybuilding Championships in Melbourne September 14, 2008. Aged almost 80, Moon has overcome polio, open-heart surgery, prostate problems and financial ruin to become an Australian body building champion. Photo taken September 14, 2008.

This 80 year-old Body Builder Ray Moon is not my grandfather Ray Moon. He's 83, lived his whole life in Knoxville TN and could kick this guys butt.

But it gives us Moon family something to shoot for and something for Elizabeth and all the ladies to anticipate... (that is me on the far left. not really. just messing with you.)

Fear Grips Markets and Millions World Wide Panic

I popped on Yahoo and this is what I see:

Morgan Stanley in talks as fear grips financials
2 hours, 10 minutes ago
HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley topped the list of major financial firms scrambling to find a buyer, while central banks rushed in $180 billion of extra liquidity to bring some calm to panicked stock and money markets...

Central banks turn on funding taps to tackle market squeeze
29 minutes ago
FRANKFURT/TOKYO (Reuters) - The world's top central banks joined forces on Thursday to throw a multi-billion dollar lifeline to global markets in a dramatic effort to free up bank-to-bank lending, frozen by the upheavals on Wall Street....

The Stock Market is crashing! We are headed to another Great Depression! Unemployment is at its highest in five years! Thousands loosing their homes!

It's amazing how all this news, all this data effects us, whether it directly impacts our lives or not. As I wrote last Friday in anticipation of Hurricane Ike - I'm numb. Most of us are news numb.

But there is something else I missed in my own heart and in the hearts of people in our church as I talk to them.

A greater peace
We may be numb to this data.
But to the degree that we are secure in the Great News of our Great God, we have peace and security that can not be shaken.

Many of us have been preparing our lives for this kind of situation - like God's revealed Word has told us to prepare on earth. We are out of debt, we don't borrow money, we don't put our faith in our insurance policies. We work with excellence whether our job is teaching, sales, running our business or making art.

The lack of fear is not because I'm good, or better than the folks panicking in the financial markets. Not because I have a huge stash of gold bullion in my basement either. There are times where I feel my heart getting the jitters. Times when I can't focus.

But our hearts and minds are trained by this: our citizenship and our inheritance is in another land.

We really actually rely on Our Father who is answering the prayers of His people all over the world to bring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

A stock market tremor or crash is all under His divine reign.

I think there's much bigger and better news that gets reported...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why Keep On Preaching if You Aren't a Mega-Church Pastor?

Why am I preaching when there are SO many better preachers on the internet?

I'm in Atlanta, land of 100 mega-churches. Why DON'T we all just give up and download Andy Stanley. Or go to a satellite location? Why keep on preaching?

Here's Why:

I am friends with a lot of pastors. One is a younger pastor who out preaches most guys but has a problem. He's bright, insightful, great connection with his people. He started a church about 15 months ago and now has 'too many people.'

Why would ANY preacher say THAT?!
Because he believes that a preacher is supposed to actually pastor and evangelize, care for and train up the people to whom he preaches. He doesn't want to be a mega-pastor. He wants to reach all the people in his parish in Atlanta - and plant more churches with real actual pastors who preach, evangelize, care for and train their flock until the whole city is filled up with local pastors locally ministering locally training and living with people until everyone loves Jesus.

I'm with this guy. You can keep your two-dimensional relationship with a screen.

I want to raise up 1000s of pastors who preach and love their people all over Atlanta face-to-face.

- 10 churches of 100 people will reach more people with the gospel than one church of 1000.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama and McCain Pirating Church

Why does the church let politics steal 'Change'?

I was reading this blog by crabb on Fractured Saints about the interaction of church and politics and it pumped me up about the actual potential of the church as a change agent, leading, again taking initiative in the broader battlegrounds of our cities, nation and the world.

The church in God's eyes isn't intended to be the arrogant antagonistic Religious Right and Moral Majority (boo!). The early church saw itself as humble, wise, courageous 'Societies of Risk Takers' who suffer for the sake of their glorious King! Who take risks no one in society is willing to take.

There is room to take God at His Word and work in concert with institutions who share a common grace goal, isn't there?

Or have we all been brainwashed by both a weak withdrawing church and slick politicians that 'Change' is the function and domain of government. Well that is bull shit!

Real Change
The only lasting change in a person, a family, an institution or A NATION happens by the power of the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Church! WE are the leaders of the revolution that should be seeking change. What could be more of a change than the answer to the prayer our Lord Jesus taught us to pray?

'YOUR Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'

Our view of prayer should not be so pathetic, our belief that God is able to effect change HERE and NOW in Smyrna and Atlanta as it is in Heaven, we have our sights set all wrong when we abdicate the reign of God to small prayers about Aunt Bessie's bunions.

A Sure Sign of Hope Today

I just spent the day praying, strategizing and envisioning a world where the church does this kind of work. There were dozens of men and women, Hispanics, African Americans and Anglos together dedicating to sacrificing our lives to plant churches all around north Georgia by faith. It's time for more!

Man up! It is time to pray and work! Time to suffer and sacrifice! Time to change in Word and Deed!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike Effect

It's 5:30 CST in Galveston TX and Ike is slamming. Hard. Flooding. Destroying. Right now. People are dying. Homes are being leveled. Businesses being destroyed. Families being ripped apart.

What effect will Ike have on me?

1. Gas prices will go up. But I'm numb to that now.
2. There'll be even more pleas for financial assistance hit my inbox. Numb there too.
3. I'll think about Katrina and Gulfport MS and I'll feel a little sad for a minute. Numb.

What effect? Nothing really.
Hey, I'm being honest. I don't care.

Yeah, I'll watch the news and make some remarks about Ike in church on Sunday. We'll pray general prayers for the situation. Some of us may even go down there and help out for a week like Tim, Sarah, Mark, David and 1000s of others did in 2005.

'But aren't pastors supposed to care?' you ask. Well, yeah, but I don't.
And neither do you. Do you know why?

It's news.

News Numbness

That is why I don't care. And why you don't either. Nobody REALLY cares about news. It's just data streaming by our faces faster than real life.

We care more about sports than we do news.
We're so full of news that it's lost our interest.
We 'know' more instantaneously, have more data at our fingertips, just MORE. And we're numb. We know so much data that we don't don't anything or care about anything.

I just don't care anymore. And it's killing me.

Is It Killing You?

It's getting so bad that I don't even care what happens across the street or down the hall. I don't care about my neighbor or my friend or my family - because we're all just news.

We're programmed to believe and feel only what we want to feel.
We're numb.

When I stop caring, then that starts killing you. I'm a part of your oppression, your injustice. I become the problem. And if you're like me, you are too.

The worst part?

Jesus' Good News of the Kingdom of God has become just news to me. I treat it the same way I do Ike.

I'm numb to it, indifferent, only consider it insofar as it matters to my daily living. It's an inconvenience like high gas prices. Wow. I suck.

And that is getting to me. Getting me to worry about my own soul, about OUR SOULS. Maybe I'm starting to care. Some.

Lord have mercy on me. Renew a right spirit within me. I need to hear and feel and move according to the GOOD news. Wow. We all do.

I'm drowning in my own indifference. I can't save myself.
Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God for our glorious victory in Christ!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teaching What the Bible Says about Suffering Seems Like Healing a Heart with a Tire Iron

In light of my previous 9/11 post about I=an , this is shocking, prophetic and awesome audio from John Piper. He reads and comments on the introduction to his book Spectacular Sins.

Piper's prophecy for American Christians about persecution and partnering in suffering is strong, biblical and true...

Having read 4-5 blogs confronting the health, wealth and prosperity false gospel in the American church, it makes me wonder if this is the tonic for what ails us?

When things do not go well for you, will that be a crisis of faith for you?

"Our felt needs are about to change."

"Coddled people will not be good listeners when their world collapses."

"The aim of this book is not to meet felt needs, but to awaken needs that will soon be felt, and then to save your faith and strengthen your courage when evil prevails."

"If we are to endure and bear and believe and hope, we need to see the spectacular sins of history the way God sees them. I hope this book helps."

I'll buy a copy of this book for the first three people who promise to read it with me.

9/11 Remembered: Isla+ic Government Arrests, Tortures Christians

As Americans remember the thousands who died on 9/11 seven years ago, we should not forget the millions around the world who still suffer under the oppression and slavery of Isl+m.

More news is leaking out of I+an. While most of us gripe about our economy and how we suffer, our brothers and sisters in Christ are being violated for their faith in Jesus Christ.

The secret police arrested my friend R 21 days ago. This article from Compass Direct News details his situation and shows a pattern of illegal persecution. It makes me MAD! It is WRONG!

To all the skeptics who think 'all religions are the same' show me how this Isla+ic 'Republic' is the same as Christianity!

The government (NOT the citizens) of I+an is based on Isl*m. No other country bases its government on that religion. It is worse than Nazi Germany in that these ungodly practices have been going on for 30+ years.

The 70+ million people of ancient Persia are enslaved to an unjust religion and an oppressive government!

Pray for justice and mercy!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Most Exciting Name: Barack or Sarah or Jesus?

Barack Obama was the talk of the nation until 11 days ago.

Now the obession is with 'Sarah' or 'My Sarah' or 'Our Sarah' - not Governor Palin or VP candidate Palin. Not even Mrs. Palin. Seriously false intimacy here.

The hero worship boggles my mind. There are Barbie-comparable action figures now. (And Barbie is the loser.)

In our media-driven culture, when you are known only by your first name, you have arrived. Angelina, Britney, LeBron, Barack and now Sarah. Like it or not, she's the current Elvis.

And as John Lennon once stated about the Beatles, I'm afraid both Barack and Sarah are bigger than Jesus.

Even among professing Christians like me. I do get caught up in the political debate.

Here's a quiz:
1. Is that biblical - not the gimmicks - the hero worship?
2. Does Jesus mind playing second or third string on our list of heroes or priorities?
3. Does Jesus want to be an action figure for your kids too?

For answers, see Exodus 20:1-7

(For the other candidates, action figures, Pez (Prez?) dispensers and plush pillows are available too!)

More Seriously

David, one of our elders, asked me why I'm shying away from saying much about politics. Especially in light of this article in the Washington post reporting a challenge to our Federal courts to allow pastors to endorse candidates and political parties from the pulpit.

There's only One politician to promote from the pulpit - and with your life. There's only One Name worth your dedication and loyalty. He's zealous about His Kingdom and the advance of His reign.

He does not need your vote for change.

He has mercifully rescued this sin-wrecked piece of human debris.

What else could capture a heart more?

What else could motivate grateful obedience and humble servant leadership in me?

Do we Christians anticipate the day when Jesus gets the fame due His name? Won't it be an awesome, fearful thing to see the convention hall of our Savior? Sarah and Barack and Elvis and you and me, we'll one day bow our knees and confess the Name That Is Above Every Name - Jesus Lord Most High.

And that will be better than winning a small election in a remote corner of the Universe. The One True God measures the nations like sand on a scale.

Don't set your hope so low! This Sunday and every Sunday, pray you hear the correct endorsement in your church. Set you mind on things above...

...maybe then we would see some real change - on earth as it is in heaven?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I++nian Prisons Don't Stop Gospel Prayer!

This is follow up to my previous post (Aug 22) about my friend being arrested in I+an. He and his family who are leaders of home churches are suffering with chains, but the gospel advances!

This is an edited email of hard news smuggled out (I have to take out names of people and cities.)

Warm greetings in the matchless name of Jesus our Lord,
We want to inform you about R==in, son of martyr Ho***in S**d, who has been asked by the authorities (Islamic intelligent service) in M==d/I+an to report for an interview, and it has been already 2weeks past, but on Tuesday Sept 02.08 intelligent service called R===in`s brother to their organization to talk to him about the situation.

They tolled him that first we will find out what is his guilt then when we find something, he become guilty and he goes to the Islamic court for conviction and after that certainly for the punishment but probably this process take 6 months to 2 years. And they said again very badly to Aria that; you are making people Christian and surely we are trying to find those people that you made them Christian here!

His brother said his wife and mother are worry about him, and want to come and visit him, but unfortunately they said' NO' [ed. possible that he has been beaten and IIS doesn't want it known]

Please continue to pray for R===in S and his Family in I+an and so that the Lord protect and strengthen him. And also pray specific for his mother Mrs. Ma---b and Mi--a, R's wife because they are in bad pressure.
Please share this pray request to your churches or friends.

R is the son of one of I''n's many martyrs. He is being held unjustly until they beat or torture a 'confession' out of him. This is heinous and wrong!

So would you get indignant and angry and do as our suffering brothers are asking? Will you pray? Ask your church to pray? Prayer is what they want and need the most.

Pray especially that R does not feel abandoned, that he will not give up any names of other leaders, that the Holy Spirit strength him to joy like the apostle Paul in jail in Philippi and that his guards would be converted! God has done it before!(Acts 16) To God ALONE be the Glory!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

President Savior Superman or Pastor

So who do I think is REALLY going to save me?

I saw an article this week on Yahoo entitled "A President, Not a Savior" by Gene Healy and it got me to thinking. (need to learn that cool trick to build in the link to a hot word). It's worth the read.

The author's point is that both our presidential candidates (like all others I can remember) overstate and inflate the importance of the office of president and their desire to be a 'healer' or a 'champion of values' or any number of things.

"What moved Barack Obama to seek the presidency was "the basic idea of empathy" and the notion that if "we see somebody down and out ... we care for them." Republican John McCain explained that he was running "to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest."

Noble sentiments, to be sure, but in the original constitutional scheme, the president was neither Empath-in-Chief nor a national life coach. His role was to faithfully execute the laws, defend the country from attack, and check Congress with the veto power whenever it exceeded its constitutional bounds."

So that is a problem with both Obama and McCain and Barr. A problem with our nation.

And there's a problem here with me too.

I inflate my importance as a pastor too. Now I don't have people lining up around the country to see me or help me become the most powerful man in the world, but it's only an economy of scale, isn't it?

If I think 'it's up to me' to get this church (or city or world) where it should be...
If I think I'm the indispensable agent for salvation or spiritual growth...
Then I'm just as mixed up. No I'm worse. And church is worse off.

I really need to be broken and reminded that I am called here as a pastor solely and utterly because of God's grace, not my abilities. This job is way beyond me. We all need to be pointed to the God-man, Jesus Christ.

Our church - all churches - need a humbled broken man who follows the Pastor of His people. He is the Savior and the God-man.

Help me rememeber that next time I try to run for an office He's already won.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Why Men Hate Church

When this book came out three years ago, I saw it prominently displayed on the front table at Borders near my house. It also got some spark in both 'Christian' and regular mags, papers and even NBC news.

I'm one of those guys who reads books for free in Borders. Took about 45 minutes to get the gist.

I've been meaning to comment on its impact on me as the chief servant in my church. The research and interviews Murrow did for the book helped me clarify simple things to avoid alienating men without meaning to. I want to alienate people for the right reasons, if you know what I mean.

When you scratch plant (start with nobody in a new place) you feel this kind of desperation to keep anybody with a pulse. Any criticism causes a quick reaction. That compulsion/lack of faith led me toward making church more 'woman friendly.' A big one for me was without thinking I was using mostly 'soft' illustrations and stories that got an 'aw' rather than ones that got a grunt and a nod. Another mistake was to assume that if a woman spoke up, it represented what men think too.

A good take away is the observation that if a man doesn't feel like there is opportunity for him to make a difference, he won't stay around. Men want a piece of the action.

So I started connecting with guys directly, started asking them what they thought, talking more directly (bluntly) about life, got a guy to lead us in getting on a Habitat build and started looking for young men to hire as staff.

We aren't a 'church for men' in the sense that I don't dress in camo and ride a motorcycle in the church (like some disturbing videos I've seen), but we are applying some of this insight. And in year five now, we are seeing men very involved in leadership, training and serving. Even seeing some men show up without their wives and bringing them later.

The book is worth the read. Don't agree with all of his solutions. But he notes too many obvious mistakes to avoid.

Murrow's got a website Some good free stuff on there. You can read some of it online at Amazon too.

If you can find it at a Borders, read it for free.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Big Toe Trouble

How important is a toe? I never really started to think about it until mine started to hurt - all the time. So I had surgery on August 1st. It's now (what day is it??) late August and I have only left the house a hand full of times. Because of a toe...

The surgeon removed a worn out knuckle in my right 'Great Toe' as podiatrists like to say. He added a titanium piece called a 'Hemi' (yeah, that's right, I got a Hemi), a $120 screw and what feels like a pound and a half of swelling. I have to keep it elevated. I can't put my right foot on the ground, can't take a shower, walk with crutches, can't get my own food, can't be out for more than an hour or so. Because of a toe...

'How can the hand say to the eye, "I don't need you, I'll get by without you."' Paraphrasing Scripture, it seems to me that the body of Christ, His Church, needs every member and every member healthy and whole.

We really need each other, even if you think you're just a toe. Why is the American church weak and ineffective? Could it be because of a toe?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Latinos: Field White for Harvest

Consider this:

The ministry at Crosspoint that is bearing the most new fruit is hidden from our view on Sunday. Two people in our 'Encuentro' (Encounter) Hispanic Ministry at 2pm each Sunday have come to faith in Christ! Pastor Hector and Cecilia and their girls have had their 3rd meeting and God is bringing in people hungry for the grace of the gospel! Two saved in 3 weeks!

Not many of us know all the ministry the Guzmans are doing:
- They continue to lead worship at our daughter church Emmanuel in Powder Springs Sunday morning 830-12noon
- They also lead worship (and Hector preaches some weeks in Espanol) at Grace Int'l, another church plant in Lawrenceville on Sunday evenings at 5pm
- Each week they volunteer at the Good Samaritan Clinic, a Christian medical/dental clinic for people without insurance.
- And Cecy volunteers in our church office two days a week bringing expertise and help in ways we need.

The reason I'm sending this out today is that they need our prayers and/or financial support. As of today their next support check for living expenses is about 80% short for September 1. Even though their support has been fine since June, this is an urgent opportunity to help.

Their challenges are many as immigrants to the US, raising two bi-cultural girls in public schools, learning a new language in 2 years and seeking first the Kingdom of God with 3 churches and raising/living on support.

You may not realize it but they are living completely by faith that God will provide and are not permitted to work outside of ministry due to visa restrictions. They are legally only permitted to receive funds through our Hispanic Ministry and although there are under the table jobs available, they are committed to obeying our nations laws.

- If you can send or bring in a check, even a small amount each month, it will help them to pay their bills.
- Also, please email Hector and let him know if you will pray and/or give regularly to this important ministry. Every small regular monthly donation makes a difference for their family.
- If you want to bring a Spanish-speaking friend or could assist with picking up some folks, that would be great too. Many folks they meet don't have a car to get to church at 2pm.

Let's be bold and pray for a VERY affordable apartment in Smyrna for the Guzmans!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Arrested for Your Faith?

I'm distracted to pray for someone today and I can't tell you why, exactly. Not in the normal way we in the West ask for prayer requests. But I'm going to ask you to pray for my friend anyway. This is not a game. It is life and death. You'll have to figure it out.

Do you know what country is shaped like this? Starts with I and ends with N. You hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ in this country in the hidden church.

I met some of these brave men and women in that country last year at a clandestine training seminar. I can't say enough how amazing it was and how deeply it struck me - turned upside down my concept of church. I felt like I was with 1st century believers. I can't tell you names because it isn't safe for them to be posted on the Internet.

Why am I distracted? This Wednesday August 20, one of the key leaders of the hidden church was ordered to report to the police. He hasn't been heard from since. He has a wife and two elementary aged children. He is the leader of a network of over 200 underground churches

It's killing me and I hope it isn't killing him. I asked him once, 'Are you prepared to be a martyr?' He looked me right in the eye and said, 'Yes. But I'm not volunteering.'

Pray for the brave men and women in the church in that country.
Then pray for us to be brave and let his chains, like Paul's persuade us to boldly speak the Word of God here (Philippians 1:12ff)

Ed. Aug 28 - News via the underground church is that R called his mother two days after his arrest and told her 'I am fine. Do not worry about me.' and was then disconnected. No word since.
The church in that country and expats are calling for prayer and fasting. I am joining with them.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Where Are All the (Reformed) Black Men?

Xavier Pickett will be joining us this Sunday (August 3rd) to preach God’s Word and stay after the service as a part of our Strategic Perspectives Q&A Luncheon series. Xavier will be commenting on “The Church, Race, and Diversity.” The Q&A time will last approximately 35 minutes. All are welcome!

Xavier Pickett is the co-founder of Reformed Blacks of America, a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Master of Theology candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Pastor Jim met Xavier through our involvement with Atlanta's New Church Network that seeks to plant hundreds of churches in and around this strategic international city.
This is a great opportunity for our church - that desires to be more diverse - to wrestle with our calling to love one another as Christ loves us and to build bridges of biblical reconcilation over racial barriers.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Which is Better? Prayer for the Sick or for Missions?

Hey all
Ever wondered how praying for 'all those sick people' really mattered? We have been praying for the Caputos and Laurie and Jan Smith and all our missionaries and the new Hispanic ministry so here’s the latest:

[Ed. Note: We had prayed that God would heal Laurie Dixon. Our prayers were answered by Him taking her on home to heaven a few weeks after this posting. We are now praying for healing in the grief as the family adjusts.]

Robyn Lucas returned from ‘East Asia’ and we’ll be hearing an update from her this Sunday during our Mission Moment!
Troy and Teri Coons have finished the project in South Africa are will be making their way back over the next weeks. Pray for safe travel for them.
Héctor and Cecilia Guzmán have begun their first week of ministry here in Smyrna among Spanish speaking people. We will be hosting a Parenting Seminar with them on Sunday July 20. Pray that many folks will come and that Héctor and Cecy will be encouraged in the work of the gospel here among us!
And pray for your friends that Jesus loves and died for this week. He has come to seek and save those that are lost!

Caputos are in a new place. Mostly moved in. The girls and Laurie each have a room. They have a new phone number but I don’t know it…. So they have a place for Laurie to come home now! Thanks to all 15 or 20 of you who helped move and settle them in. Keep praying for emotional strength and for patience because…
Laurie’s still at the hospital. She has an infection in her leg that they are watching. She’d due for another round of chemo soon. But more than that, she’s ready to go HOME! Pray for healing from this infection and cancer too!
Jan Smith had hip replacement surgery last week and quite an overreaction to her pain medication. I won’t spoil her telling of the story, but she did make it home this week. She’s feeling good and pain free. Pray that she can make it to church. (Also, Ron and Jan’s daughter Angel is going to have her baby any day now. Pray for a safe delivery! Pray for Angel’s salvation too)

If you are still praying or reading, here’s where mission intersects with health. People are noticing how well you are loving each other and serving each other. The stories are spreading word of mouth. Glory to God for HIS indescribable mercy and love that we can pass along to each other!

Hope to see you Sunday at 10am!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Laurie's Fight with Cancer

Hey all,
It has been a while since I blogged on. There has been a huge effort to get Mike and Julie and Laurie's girls into a new house so she can come home from the hospital. Finally they are moved in and should have everything ready tomorrow.

Laurie's condition seems to be the same. The doctors have been great, but they are still vague with her about what is going on. I don't think they have much hope. But I do.

God has reminded me over and over that He can defeat anything, including cancer in Laurie. I'm not in la-la land, but I am putting my hope in Him until He either heals her or heals her completely. Either way, she's good to go!

- So pray for Laurie's healing. Keep asking. Keep seeking, Keep KNOCKING!
- Pray too for our missionaries in North Africa (behind the Muslim Curtain) and in Durban South Africa, in London and back from East Asia.
- Pray for unity in our diverse church.
- Pray for inner-family reconciliation. Several families are just stressed. I wish I could be more specific, but I can't. We ALL need Jesus to heal us deeply and strengthen our faith in His gospel and His Kingdom!

I'm hoping Robyn L will be ready to catch us up after her trip to East Asia. She was in church on Sunday. Good to have her back!

That's it for now.
Love you all and thanks for praying!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Crosspoint Featured at Exponential 08

Hey all of you,
A couple of weeks ago, our church and I (along with Jose Mateo as our church planter) were featured in a 3-minute video about church multiplication at a national church planting conference called Exponential 08. I found out through my friend Jon that there were 2,700 people there, many of whom were young adults considering the call to church plant in the US. I hope it was an encouragement to them.

It encouraged me to rehearse God’s hand in all this over almost 10 years of preparation, calling, failing once and growth. I still need to be more humbled, but, well, it is just pretty cool to look back. We started all this planning when Jake was 8, Erica 6 and Elysia was 3 and Jake’s now 18 and in three weeks he graduates and goes off to university. Amazing.

And I hope it is an encouragement to you all too. There are over 300+ supporters and partners that gave, prayed and worked alongside me to make this exciting church a reality. You all deserve a bunch of credit – especially you Elizabeth, Jake, Erica and Elysia for sticking with me when it was hard. I want you all to know that I thank God for each of you with tears and great joy.

And I hope it clearly gives God the glory for using a knucklehead like me to start a church that will start more churches.
Please keep praying for more churches, more conversions and more ministers to this lost and dying world.

Oh, here is the link.

I love you all very much….

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Life or Death on the Frontlines

Lots of Action on the Front Lines

This has been a full couple of weeks.
- We've had an influx of 20 family units visit. Pray for us as we try to help them feel welcome and start growing.
- Satan is trying to kill people. Two of our youth K and D were present when their friend was shot and killed by police last week near Franklin Rd. Pray for K and D's salvation and safety and jobs!
- One father of 2 attempted to take his life last week. We are helping pick up the pieces of his family now that he has been arrested and lost his job.
- We have been working in the background for over 12 months to hire an Hispanic man to help start a Spanish service. Pray that his visa get approved and for their financial support.

There is alot going on and I appear to be doing well. Pray that I pray well and rest deeply in Christ!
Thanks for praying!