A Reason To Celebrate!

11 08 2011

I honestly can’t believe how fast the summer has flown by. It seems like just yesterday that my children were all anticipating their big SUMMER BREAK. We had so many activities and plans we were making together — things we wanted to do and ways we wanted to celebrate the warm summer days. And as I look back over the past few months, I think we did most of the things we wanted to do. There were movies we saw, camping activities in the back yard, evening fires and smores, as well as outings and a week of vacation to the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. All in all we had a great summer.

Some of the more memorable moments for me came the past few weeks. In my home, the months of July and August are filled with BIG DAYS! It began with my wife’s surprise birthday party. This was a big one…but I’ll just say it was her “29th” (again!). This was the first time I had ever thrown her a big party — and a surprise event to boot! It was a ’70’s themed gathering complete with platform shoes, huge afros, bell-bottoms, and my green plaid polyester pants! We discoed the night away.

The next big moment was to celebrate my daughters 11th birthday…quickly followed by my middle son’s 8th birthday. And did I mention that the summer began with my oldest son’s 13th birthday. Well, at least I get a break before my youngest turns 6 in December. But then the celebrations continue right through Christmas and the New Year!

Well, here’s what I’ve come to discover. Life is worth celebrating. My family and friends are worth celebrating. Life was meant to be enjoyed with those I know and love. Jesus said his primary purpose was to come and give “life”. Life to the max. Life lived in connection with Him. Abundant, joy-filled, celebratory life! I love the way Jesus ends the story He told His followers about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. The father declares his love for his son and reveals his heart of celebration. The father said, “…We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Lk. 15:23-24, NLT).

Isn’t that great? “So the party began!”

Oh, by the way…this Sunday my wife and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary! How awesome is that? I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Let the party BEGIN!

Advertisements




Understanding Faith!

30 05 2011

Over the past few of weeks I have been teaching on the very interesting – yet, complicated subject of FAITH. And after studying this topic in depth, I have become acutely aware that in our society there seems to be many words spoken but very little understanding about it. It would seem that even in the realm of church leadership (especially from the pulpit) there are those who declare many things about faith — while not really grasping the issue themselves.

One of the books I read recently is entitled: Small Faith, Great God, by N. T. Wright. In the second chapter he describes the function of faith in this way. He writes, “Faith in the Bible is always determined by its object…what matters is not so much the faith itself as what it is in.” The way he describes this in greater detail is worth repeating. It provides a mental picture which I believe is most helpful to this somewhat complicated subject. He says, “Faith…is like a window. It is not there because we happen to want one wall of the room to be made of glass. It is there for the sake of what we can see through it–and in order to let light into the room.”

Faith then, is the resource given to us to help us see and understand God better. The writer of Hebrews states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” And that is true! But so is the converse of that statement. With faith we can please God.

I think maybe it is time that we look again at God through the window of faith He has provided. For when we do, our eyes shall be opened to His power, His majesty, and all of His glory!





Seeing Greenville On It’s Knees

22 02 2010

I have really connected to a very popular song lately. And I’m sure you’ve all heard it played on the radio…or maybe you’ve even downloaded it and have been listening to it on your iPod. Well, whatever the case, the words of this song depict the hunger and passion of a desperate heart; a heart which longs for the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit to take place TODAY in their life and in that of their community.

Just yesterday I began leading our LIFE GROUP (a small group within our church) through a study by Francis Chan entitled “Forgotten God!” The premise is that it is very possible for the people of God to find contentment in living and operating without the presence of God in their lives. What a tragic moment! My prayer is that we would not settle for anything less than more of God’s power and presence in our lives…and that we would regain our passion, hunger and thirst for His work in us and our communities!

The song I mentioned earlier is“City On Our Knees”, by Toby Mac. I can’t think of anything more exciting than to see my city (Greenville, SC) submit to God’s leading in our lives and find our place of comfort on our knees before His presence. Well, here’s a version of that song and a video to accompany it done by the artists at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. Enjoy!





Control Freaks!

4 02 2010

Simple truth: As much as we may try, we will never really have total control over anything in our lives!

I ran across a funny story about a woman who experienced a winter traffic accident. As the police filled out the report and her testimony of the account, this is what she said. And I quote,

“I hit a patch of ice, and then my car began to spin counterclockwise. I then hit the curb at which point my car began to spin clockwise. After that, I narrowly avoided hitting a house and then a telephone pole. And it was at that point that I lost control of my vehicle.”

What? Am I the only one who thinks she probably lost total control the first moment she hit the patch of ice? The truth is, she never had control.

You know, the more I think about it…neither do we. Oh, we try! But the reality of our lives is that we never really have control over anything. Think about, we can’t control our children or the decisions they make. We have very little control over our investments or our retirement portfolios. We can’t control the housing market or the value of our home. And we can’t even control our health. Oh, we might be able to eat right and exercise regularly…but even healthy people get sick and some times discover they are facing battles with cancer or some other major disease. These things simply reveal that we have very little control in this life. And yet, we spend the majority of our time striving to gain control over these things that we will never really master! It’s unfortunate to say the least.

That being said, I have discovered that I can trust the sovereignty of God, because even though I may be “out of control” — He never is! Let me sum up my thoughts today with this: Though I can’t control my future or those things around me — I can control my habits and my responses.

We can try to control all those elements within our lives regarding our relationships, our future, our finances and the rest — and end up facing the same cycles of disappointment, frustration, fear, anger and blame. Or we begin to trust God and His sovereignty and focus on the one thing that we can control…ourselves! I know this sounds like a paradox, but when we fully surrender our lives and the control of our lives to Jesus we are then able to really live at peace knowing that He has our best interest in mind!

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So here’s my suggestion – let’s trust His plans for our lives and live more peaceful and more productive lives…and let’s let loose of that endless pursuit of trying to “get control” of those things which will always be out of our reach!

Be encouraged today – God is still in control!





It’s Mac Tonight!

29 09 2009

Well, it’s official…I have crossed over into the world of Mac! I know, there are many of you celebrating my new found freedoms (and power) – while at the same time, there are those of you who don’t understand the inticement of the Mac World. Well, let me try and explain.

For me the shift to Mac had to do with some of the frustrations I was experiencing with the PC. Over the last year or so I have been creating videos to correspond with my messages (preaching) and felt very limited by the PC. It would freeze up, shut the programs down or just be so slow at rendering and finalizing the project. With Mac, everything is seamless and quick. There has been a bit of a learning curve – but very little! All in all it has been a good move for me. In fact, the quality of the media I’m able to produce now far exceeds the things I’ve done before with a PC. So in short..I’m sold!

Now I know it’s been awhile since my last post…I will try to do better!

Here’s a closing thought for. I heard this from one of the men I deeply respect in Pastoral leadership. He said when it comes to technology and media (as the church), “…we ought to be on the cutting edge and not the lagging edge!” I heartily agree! Let’s do everything we can to culturally connect and speak the language our culture and world are speaking. And in all we do, lets do it as unto the Lord…and for His glory!

A value I am continually embracing is – irrelavance is irreverence! Strive to make a difference for the Kingdom of God.





Belong – Believe – Become!

12 05 2009

Jesus SavesFor some time now, I have been thinking some deep thoughts about the ministry we call “CHURCH!” Now, just for the record, I know that “the church” is the global body of believers in Christ. It has very little to do with where we meet…or even when we meet for that matter. But just so that we are all speaking the same language here today, let me use the word “church” to describe the event that takes place each week when believers and non-believers come together to hear the message of hope and life as the gospel of Jesus is presented. Are you with me on this? Okay.

Here’s what I have been dealing with on an intellectual and spiritual level. Are we doing church the way we should? Is God pleased by what is taking place “at church” (remember – the gathering together event each week)? And are we really serving a purpose – making a difference by what we do each week. And as if that isn’t enough, who do we do church for — is it for those inside the family of God (believers) or is it for those outside of the family of God (unbelievers)?

Pretty deep stuff huh? Well, let me tell you what I have discovered…and it is revolutionizing my way of approaching ministry. I am rediscovering that the church exists to glorify God, unite believers in the faith & serve as the primary force for reaching the world. The church is here (in my case, in Greenville – South Carolina) for the purpose of coming together to share and shape our faith, honor God, and connect lost people with the love of Christ! So how do we do all of those things? Is it really possible? I have discovered it fairly difficult to do it all, and when it is working — it still isn’t easy. Let me tell you a story…

Some time ago, a lost person began attending the church I pastor (we’ll call this person Mack – though that’s not their real name). Well, Mack finally came after numerous invites and many relational moments he had had with someone in our church family. Upon his arrival, it was clear to him that church was very different than the world he ran in week each week. And to be honest, Mack was even a bit uncomfortable by everything (people prayed aloud – at the same time, they sang songs with much enthusiasm, raised their arms in the air, were all friendly…almost overly friendly, they hugged each other – and even hugged Mack). But there was something about this “event” that intriggued Mack. He began to come regularly and even brought a friend with him (honestly, I don’t think he wanted to be alone). It was clear to Mack that most everyone he met was different than him…and it was clear to most everyone, that Mack was very different than them. But he continued to come. Mack and his friend very growing in their curiosity of this thing we called “faith in God”. They were asking a lot of questions. Deep questions. Hard questions! But they kept coming. Their lifestyles were very worldly to say the least…yet they never quit attending “church”. One week, about 7 weeks into the “church experiment”, Mack told me that he and his friend were really enjoying the church. He said, there was still a lot they didn’t understand – but they were enjoying the fact that the people accepted them and welcomed them in. Mack even went so far as to say, “We are really becoming very comfortable at your church.” Now, when I heard that statement, I have to admit – it took me back a little bit. What did that mean?  Comfortable? Really? I had aways been un-officially taught that church should be the last place where anyone is comforatble. And yet, here are two people from a very “worldly” background saying they were comfortable. I was so confused..and concerned. And then it happened. On week 8 – Mack’s friend lifted his hand after a time of prayer and acknowledged that he had just given his life to Christ. WOW! I was stunned…and yet excited. I called a pastor friend and explained the whole story to him and this was his reply. He said, “Chuck, what you have done is created a place where (he) could belong before he believed!” And you know, that is exactly what has happened. But that’s not where the story ends. The next part of the story is about that friend “becoming” all that God wants him to be. He is growing. Small steps – but steps never-the-less. And that brings me to my conclusion.

Church ought to be a place where people (lost and found people) can BELONG. A safe place to connect and hear a very dangerous message about life in Christ and hope for tomorrow. It ought to be a place where people can BELIEVE. An environment that encourages life change and daring to trust in Jesus. Where the natural meets the supernatural and people put their faith in Christ. And it ought to be a place where all people BECOME. Where they new believers and the long-term believers continue to grow in their faith and spiritual walk. Where no one ever arrives, but everyone is encouraged to discover the life God has designed them to live. I am convinced that our church (TFC – Trinity Fellowship Church in Greenville, South Carolina) must be a place where people can Belong, Believe and Become!

What do you think about all that? Let’s chat!