Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Needed: 10 to 12 Talented Tailgaters

On Sunday morning August 26 Mountaintop is going to offer Tailgate Training.  Here’s our vision:  

We need Ten to Twelve Talented Tailgaters to come early that Sunday and set up a tailgate in the parking lot – just to show us how it’s supposed to be done.  

You won’t have to feed the entire church – we will provide hot dogs for everyone – but it’s your chance to show that you – and your school – knows how to tailgate better than anyone.  

As a Clemson alum I am used to exceptional tailgating and I don’t really imagine that either Auburn or Alabama fans (or Troy or UAB or any other school) can put together a tailgate that comes even close to what I grew up with outside of Death Valley – but this is your chance to prove me wrong.  

It’s also the chance to show that other school what real tailgating looks like.  And wouldn’t you hate it if there were more Orange than Crimson in the parking lot – or is it the other way around?

If you are up to the Taking on the Tailgate Challenge just email me and I will get you details

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Top 25 Most Played

Programing Team this morning evolved – after we had the next couple of weeks updated in Planning Center – into a discussion of favorite songs.  It made me curious to check my iPhone list of my top 25 songs played.

I was a bit surprised – it’s quite a mix:

Not Even the TreesHootie and the Blowfish
Speed of the Sound of LonelinessNanci Griffith
Apron StringsEverything But the Girl
Something BeautifulNeedtobreathe
Fool With a Fancy GuitarAndrew Peterson
Jar of HeartsChristina Perri
The Boys of SummerDon Henley
Painting Pictures of EgyptSara Groves
Angel At My DoorNeedtobreathe
All This BeautyThe Weepies
The House That Built MeMiranda Lambert
Many RoadsAndrew Peterson
Shake It Up!Jenna Kuykendall
Against All OddsPhil Collins
Oxygen Colbie Cailat
I Was Made for Sunny DaysThe Weepies
MagnoliaEllie Holcomb
Come Back SongDarius Rucker
To Do What I DoAlan Jackson
As She’s Walking AwayZac Brown Band
And Can It BeBecki Ryan
Middle GroundMary Chapin Carpenter
All Good ThingsThe Weepies

I’m not sure if this reveals anything about me – or my playlists but it makes me curious what are the most played songs on your playlists?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

First World Pain

Back in January I stared working out at a gym – with a trainer – seriously working out.  It was a combination of recognizing that I had fallen into very bad habits, wanting to start a new call with better patterns and hoping to be in better shape (than I was) when I turn 50 – which is just a little over a month away.

I think I am making progress – but it’s not been easy.  My 49 years and 11 months old body is constantly finding new places to ache.  I am learning to embrace phrases such as “pain is just weakness leaving your body” and the classic “no pain, no gain.”  I am also learning the joy of Epson salt baths and icepacks.

Recently I cleverly decided that my gym verse should be:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8: 18

My paraphrase:  This present suffering at the gym (of trying to do three more reps – every notice how it’s always just three more reps) isn’t worth comparing to the glory of my new and improved, physically fit body.

I thought I was very clever – until, as I was finishing up my message for week 2 of #sevenletters #Smyrna, I was reminded of the intensity of the sort of suffering the Bible is talking about. 

The church in Smyrna knew a lot more about pain and suffering than I suspect (and hope) I will ever know.   The details of the Roman persecutions are just gruesome.  Because the Christians in Smyrna – and throughout the Roman Empire – refused to declare, “Caesar is Lord” and boldly affirmed that “Jesus is Lord”– their bodies were torn apart on racks. Their fingernails were pulled off. They were hung by their thumbs, sometimes for days. They were wrapped in animal skins and thrown out for bulls to gore and to pitch around. They were covered with tar and set alight in the gardens to light parties and burned at stakes.  Lord, forgive me for even considering my “present sufferings” in the same thought as what the church in Smyrna – and so many throughout the centuries have faced.  

There’s a twitter feed a love @FirstWorldPains – the suffering I face is clearly a “first world pain” – I need to remember that.

The evangelist Leighton Ford once commented that Christians today – perhaps especially in North America – are more fearful of a raised eyebrow than a raised sword.  The church in Smyrna faced raised swords – and we too often forget so do churches around the world today.

Last Sunday – as we were safely in our churches worshipping and in many cases far too lightly celebrating our nation’s Independence Day and our religious freedom – a very different story was taking place in Kenya.   Last Sunday at least 17 Christians were killed in simultaneous attacks on two churches near the Somali border. A group of masked assailants launched grenades and opened fire with assault rifles on a Roman Catholic Church and an African Inland Church located about two miles apart in Garissa, Kenya. In addition to the 17 killed, more than 40 people were wounded in the attacks.

I have friends in Kenya.  I’ve traveled there to visit and work with their churches.  I’ve sent my youngest daughter there to share in that same work. 

Pray for the church in Kenya.  Pray for the persecuted church around the world (and here’s a great link to learn more:  Voices of Martyrs).  Pray that we never compare our “first world pains” with what so many are facing today.  And pray that we can learn from the church in Smyrna and so many others how even in the face of suffering and persecution – love remains faithful.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

a Tigger having an Eeyore afternoon

I posted most of this a little over a year ago – but I’ve had an Eeyore sort of afternoon that led me to revisit the thoughts – with a few additional comments.

If you know Winnie the Pooh then you likely know the difference between Eeyore and Tigger.  Eeyore is pessimistic, depressed, and deflated. He has no self confidence and doesn’t think he does anything right. Tigger is energetic, joyful, enthusiastic, and positive.  For Tigger every day is a new adventure filled with promise, potential, possibility and fun!

Eeyore’s favorite book of the Bible is Lamentations:

People have heard my groaning, 
but there is no one to comfort me.
Lamentations 1: 21

Tigger loves passages like those in Psalm 66:

Shout for joy to God, all the earth! 
Sing the glory of His name; 
make His praise glorious.

Come and see what God has done, 
His awesome deeds for mankind!
Psalm 66: 1, 2 and 5

Tigger even has his own song:

A wonderful thing is a Tigger;
A Tigger's a wonderful thing.
Their tops are made out of rubber,
their bottoms are made out of spring
They're bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy,
fun, fun, fun, fun, fun,
The most wonderful thing
about Tiggers is:
I'm the only one!

Most of the time I am a Tigger (though certainly not the only one) in fact my persistent Tiggerness can be annoying (or so I’m told) especially when I over-Tigger around perceived Eeyores.

This afternoon – after a frustrating lunch workout Session (the squat machine owns me) I found myself in a terrible mood -  I became an Eeyore and it lasted all afternoon – in fact tonight’s rain is finally improving the mood a bit.  This is an atypical feeling for a natural Tigger.

When I first posted this I asked people if they were Tiggers or Eeyores but the question on my mind tonight is this:  When a Tigger dips into an Eeyore mood what should they do to get out of it?

PS – to face what the church in Smyrna faced and remain faithful there must have been a lot of Tigger in them – there’s the sevenletters connection!  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

anything for a good cause

You’ve probably heard the phrase:

Anything for a good cause…”

Well here’s a good cause:  Getting Off the Mountain to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

And here’s the “anything:”  A 5K Mission Run (or walk or crawl or some combination of all 3).

The 5K will take place on July 14 in Helena (starting at the Helena Middle School). This is our first Mission 5K Run/Walk to help raise support for our worldwide Off the Mountain mission efforts.

I don’t like running – that probably doesn’t express how much I don’t like running – I REALLY don’t like running… but anything for a good cause, right?

So I’ve signed up to run, walk and maybe crawl 5K to raise support for to help us Get Off the Mountain.  You can join us. Just go to Mission 5K  or visit the Compassion Desk at Mountaintop on Sunday.  Everyone who registers gets a cool T-Shirt and the joy of helping support our mission efforts.

AND here’s an added benefit – I will provide free ice cream for everyone who registers AND finishes the 5K before I do (and that should be everyone – you could run in cowboy boots and beat me).

I know it’s hot and you may not like running any more than I do – but I promise it will be fun and after all it’s for a good cause.

Monday, July 2, 2012

the engine that drives the church

Yesterday afternoon Kim and I drove over to Atlanta to hear Beth Moore speak at Passion City Churchit’s not a bad drive and it helps that we have a daughter who lives there and so every trip is a chance to see her.  This was my second visit to Passion City and for the second time their regular worship leader, Chris Tomlin, wasn’t there.  But for the second time the back up was pretty good (to say the least).  Last night it was Matt Maher – the time before Matt Redman.

Beth taught on John 19 and as you might expect was the exceptional Bible teacher that God has gifted her to be but the image that will stick with me was what she did before she began to teach.

Beth had everyone in the room stand and then she got down on her knees to pray.  Maybe she does this all the time (this was my first time to hear her live) but she certainly didn’t do this for show – her prayer was simple, genuine and humble.

In yesterday morning’s message I shared a quote from President Eisenhower when the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance:

These words [“under God”] will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 14, 1954

On her knees in front of a room filled with people eager to hear her teach – and more importantly before God – Beth Moore demonstrated that sort of humility.

For many of us – and this is equally true for those of us called into ministry – we can so quickly become reliant upon our own “great strength” (or cleverness or wisdom) that we miss the truth of how desperately we need to spend time on our knees.

I quote this a lot – because it’s such an important observation from Jim Cymbala in what’s become a classic book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:

If we call upon the Lord, He has promised in His Word to answer, to bring the unsaved to Himself, to pour our His Spirit among us.  If we don’t call upon the Lord, He has promised nothing – nothing at all. It’s as simple as that.  No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer.  This is the engine that will drive the church.

The future depends upon our times of prayer.  Prayer - and I'm convinced humble, genuine and simple prayer - is the engine that will drive the church.

So the question I am asking myself (and you might ask yourself):  Where do I need to humble myself in prayer?