Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity - A book review

Mark Batterson has done it again. This is the third book that Mark has put out (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase were the other two) and each has been very effective at challenging me in new fresh ways. In “Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity” Mark takes us back to the very root of our faith, “The Great Commandment” in a humorous, simple, yet incredibly deep way. The book is dived into four main sections; the heart, soul, mind, and strength of Christianity. As you read through Primal Mark creatively makes you rethink the great commandment in new fresh ways in a plea for us to return to this basic truth and rediscover the excitement of being a follower of Christ. He takes you into the catacombs where Christians secretly worshiped in ancient times, to the door at the Wittenberg, Germany church where Martin Luther began the reformation, to present day challenging us to be the catalyst for this generation’s reformation. I highly recommend Primal be on the very top of your reading list this year, and together we can gain a renewed passion for the Primal things of Christianity.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Our Dear Friends and Family, December, 2009

What a year. Can you believe 2009 is almost over? As I sit here writing this letter I can close my eyes and flash back to writing our 2008 Christmas letter as if it was yesterday. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said that there is a time and a season for everything. For the McDuffie household this rang very true this year.

It was about this time last year I began to sense that God might be calling me to college. I was scared at the thought; could this uneducated young man make it, where would I go, how would I provide for my family? It was while leading the study “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby that my wife and I became sure that God was calling us to make this next step. I applied for information from five or six schools, all Baptist except for one. It is amazing how God works. I received a phone call, an e-mail, and a letter from Toccoa Falls College all on the same day within an hour of each other. My wife was sure God was speaking to us, but I was not as sure. As we began to talk to the Falls I was looking for something, anything from the other schools. I did not hear anything from anyone until I had been fully accepted and had everything worked out with the Falls; by then I knew God was leading us there. My feelings were very mixed as we had many friends in Toccoa, but my pride was afraid to go back to where I came from. I overcame my pride and in August of this year we moved from Tucson, AZ to Toccoa Falls, GA.

The trip across country was CRAZY! We had saved up air miles through our credit card so Stacy and Aurora flew while I drove cross country. I drove to the middle of TX in one day, stayed with my sister for a day, and then made the rest of the drive the third day. It was the second day that everything went nuts. While I was in TX Stacy called me and said that the credit card was not working; I had forgotten to call them to tell them we would be moving so they put a security freeze on the account. Stacy called them, and with some miss information the card was accidentally canceled while she was on the phone, no big deal just use cash right? Wrong! All of our cash was tied up in a special account that can’t be accessed without a three days notice. So Stacy is on the east coast, I am in the middle of TX, and we are both stuck! After HOURS on the phone with the credit card company they finally agreed to send me some cash western union style and I was able to get on the road again. LOL…The story is funny to tell, but it was insane to go through.

While still in Tucson we did have some adventures too. We successfully merged the church plant with our parent church Central Baptist leaving an overall better situation, or at least I felt that way. I then co-pastored the church from December of last year until we left. We also celebrated Aurora’s fifth birthday, I finished out my time with Starbucks, I lost 75 pounds and Stacy lost 60, but the biggest adventure came in our marriage. It is amazing what God can bring you though. While in Tucson we learned what it was to fight for something worth fighting for, and for a good bit of time that we were there we were in a knock down drag out fight to save our marriage. We learned what it meant to walk through the pit, the muck and the mire, and then have God pull you out. I can honestly say that we came out the other side loving each other more than we ever had. I went to Tucson thinking I was going to change the world, but as I was leaving I realized God needed to do a transforming work in me before I could do anything for him.

School has been a grand adventure indeed. I got to live out a lifelong dream and run cross country on the colligate level and ran a personal record of a 30.31 8k (5 miles) at the national meet. Through God’s grace I earned two A’s, an A- and a B+ in my first semester, which I was more than happy with. God provided an amazing job for Stacy at the North Georgia Credit Union, and she is really beginning to excel there. God’s provision has been so awesome; not just in Stacy’s job, but in scholarships and grants, and unexpected gifts from people who love and support us. A testament to God’s provision is that we needed to pay off our car to make college work and in three month’s we somehow paid $8,000; I still have no idea how we did it! Aurora also started school this year and is already in the advanced readers program. She has also been awarded student of the month. After a few month break from leading anything I was approached about starting a married student Bible study and am really enjoying it, and hopefully they are too…LOL.

It has truly been an amazing year, a blessed year. We have not seen ourselves grow financially, but actually scale back quite a bit. Blessing is so much more than money though. What we have been privileged to be part of this year, the things we have seen God do in our marriage, in our individual lives, His provision; words cannot express my gratitude towards Him and His goodness. I do not know what the future holds, but I’m not really thinking about it, as it is in His hands. Right now I’m trying to focus on the now, and keeping my priorities straight; God, husband, father, student, and then the rest. I have learned if I keep those things straight, no matter what happens, I will make it through. 2010…HERE WE COME!

Merry Christmas,
Jeremiah, Stacy, and Aurora Rose McDuffie

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Christmas Memory

As I sit with my eyes closed I can still remember the anticipation for Christmas morning that I had as a child; that child like anticipation has stayed with me my entire life. I have always loved everything about the Christmas season, even the commercialization of Christmas. I guess that’s why I have always loved “The Christmas Song;” it talks about some the parts of the Christmas season that I love the most.
The Christmas song gained a whole new meaning for me though in 2003; that was the year I married my wife, Stacy. When I close my eyes, I remember that first Christmas we celebrated together the best. The heat is on, the soft glow of Christmas lights are shimmering from the tree, our fiber optic snowman is glowing in the corner, and then right before we went to bed “The Christmas Song” played on the radio. Sitting there listening to “The Christmas Song” we were fully living the magic of every line, it being our first Christmas together, the magic of Christmas truly seemed to be in the very air we breathed.
I still remember the little nuances of the room, the warmth that we created as we snuggled close together, and those closing words to the song “Merry Christmas to you.” We leaned towards each other and gave each other a gentle kiss as we whispered “Merry Christmas.” It was a magical night that inspires a flood of memories; I’ll never forget that last song, “The Christmas Song,” and the deep feelings it aroused within me that first Christmas with my wife.
That was our last Christmas with just the two of us; as the next year our daughter was born. Although every Christmas with our daughter has provided its own magic, that first Christmas with my wife will be a memory I always hold dear. Every time I hear “The Christmas Song” I flash back a little, and experience the magic of that Christmas all over again.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

President Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

GREAT BLOG on Leadership

I really like following this blog, but this is one I felt I must share for all my fellow leaders.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Paper about communication

It has been said, “One cannot not communicate.” When addressing the issues of communication one cannot forget this mantra; it is an un-shaking principle of the lives we live. From the very beginning of creation, man has always been in communication. He has been in communication with God, his surroundings, and his “self.” No matter where we are, or what we are doing, we cannot help but communicate.
The first picture of communication that we have is from the book of Genesis in the Bible. It is there we have a beautiful picture of the creation of the world as God perfectly spoke, communicated, his creation into existence. In Genesis 1:26a God says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” (NIV) It is here we get a glimpse of God’s perfect communion within the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We see that communication was happening before the creation of the world. Before time began the Godhead was in perfect communion with Himself. This communication continued into creation though; as God communicated both work and rest. (Genesis 2:1)
Genesis 1:27 tells us that man is made in God’s image; therefore it is natural for us to conclude that we are created to communicate. God has created man as his image bearer; his representative, his communicator. Because of the fall, man cannot live up to this role; however, through the work of Holy Spirit the Christian can. We are therefore called to expand the Kingdom of God through the intentional communication of the love of Jesus Christ. As renewed image barriers of God we continue to create in our communication; and through this process we honor and glorify him. What does this look like in everyday life though?
It all really starts with “self.” How do we see ourselves? What is our identity as human beings wrapped up in? What is our worth, our self-esteem; and how do we determine it? Much of this is determined by how we see ourselves in the light of others; and how they see us. As we compare ourselves to those we have communication with, we gain a sense of self. This for the believer though is flawed, we are stamped with the image of Christ, and we are therefore to look to him for our concept of self. As we begin to grasp the idea that our own self-concept is not to be based on the fallen, but on Christ, we are able to see the role of communication within inter-personal relationships.
Interpersonal relationships, a relationship between two or more people, come in many varieties. Studies have shown and made it abundantly clear that we are created to live in community. Interpersonal relationships range from the casual acquaintance, to the most intimate of relationships between husband and wife. They are often influenced by things such as status, power, gender, etc. These relationships are typically built with those who live near us and have similar interest. The culture we live in also has a huge role in determining what we see as the norms for interpersonal relationships; and our roles in them. A major part of our interpersonal relations goes back to our concept of self, because our self-concept will always influence our relationships. How we view self affects how much we disclose in a relationship and the level of health that relationship will have. As believers, our most basic forms of interpersonal communication must intentionally communicate the love of Christ.
We cannot address the theology of communication, self, or interpersonal relationships without diving into intercultural context as they are all truly intertwined with each other.
For me intercultural context is best described through the refugee family that our church adopted in 2008. Before they came we had to go through training sessions to prepare to interact with them. Because Iraq is largely a Muslim culture we spent much of the time learning to interact with Muslims. When our refugee family arrived in America we discovered they were not Muslims, and came from an entirely different culture, Sabean Mandian. Although from the same country; their cultural values were completely different than that of Muslims. To communicate well with them we had to learn the context of their culture. I will never forget some of those early meetings. How we misinterpreted the things we tried to communicate to each other through speaking and hand gestures. As a church we quickly learned that if we were to spread the gospel to these people that we were going to have to be able to relate to the culture from which they came from, and that we had to drop any of our pre-conceived “Muslim culture” notions. We had to lose our ethnocentric view of our culture, and begin to see the world from their cultural context. They also saw that we were not the television version of American culture that they had been expecting; and had to adjust some of their pre-conceived notions about who we were. As we learned from each other there was an intercultural context being shared; and we learned through that context that all communication barriers could be broken down.
In this paper we have examined the facts that, “One cannot not communicate.” We are created to communicate; and we create through our communication. To properly communicate we must examine self through Christ Jesus. We looked at how we are made to live in community; and how that is expressed through interpersonal relationships. We also looked at the intercultural context of the world we live in and how it affects all of us. As we have examined each of these areas we have seen that we cannot escape communication! So we should learn to do it well; and then be intentional about how we communicate in every part of our lives.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Coach...a high school story

Yesterday I was running a long slow run with one of my cross country teammates. Since it was a slow run we were talking about a wide variety of topics. Sports in high school came up and coaches. I found myself saying something very profound about my cross country coach from those years.
After high school I went back and coached alongside this man for three years. Yesterday I realized that I did not go back to learn more about running, or to be around the sport. I went back to be around this man! I felt so blessed to be able to just spend a few more days with him; much less a few years. When I was around him I was learning about life, about what it was to be a man. I hope that I have and am becoming this kind of man, not for the sake of my own pride, but for other young men that need someone to help them a long and teach them. Thanks coach…you know who you are.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It has been Awhile

For those of you who don't know I started school full-time in August. I have not had the time nor felt inclined to blog as of late, but thought I could share some of the things I write a long the way as a means of staying in's number one:

Daniel walked outside of his apartment, taking in the unusually cool summer air. It may have only been the end of August, but it was already beginning to feel like the beauty of fall was upon him. He paused and thought of the article he had just read called “The Pines” by John McPhee. In the essay McPhee relayed the idea that for a few brief moments he was frozen in time, caught up and taken away to a simpler time and place. That all things are God’s and must be stewarded as such.
Daniel then turned the corner to go down the small set of steps in front of him he looked over at the small waterfall that flowed to the side of his apartment complex. Heavy rain had intensified the flow of the fall, from what seemed a slow trickle to a heavy pour, down the jagged rocks. As Daniel continued to gaze, he too felt that time was being frozen for him. It was then that Daniel decided to break from his daily routine and slowly walked over to the waterfall.
Daniel stood captured by the beauty of the simpler things of this life. An old wooden bench, “the perfect place to get a few peaceful moments away with God”, he had thought. The beautiful trees that surrounded him, the rushing sound of the beautiful waterfall, and the abundance of green grass all seemed to carry the presence of God. “I am living in a national forest, there is a waterfall in my yard, the grass and trees are all in full bloom, God must be here!” were the words that seemed to scream from Daniel’s mind.
McPhee was right; all things are God’s, and this beauty was not to be hoarded, or abused, but shared. After all, we need our moments in time where we see God, and appreciate the beautiful gift that this world is. Yes, we all need to stop for a moment, and be frozen in time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

GREAT "What If" post by Perry Noble

I was thinking some “what if” thoughts the other day…
WHAT IF the early church had decided to simply study what Jesus said but not apply it?
WHAT IF the early church had decided their primary responsibility was to be political, thus organizing protests against the Roman government for occupying their land?
WHAT IF the early church had decided to yell and scream at the Romans for acting like Romans?
WHAT IF the early church had decided their primary call was to save the environment rather than the ones living in it?
WHAT IF the early church had substituted their personal preferences in place of the words of Jesus?
WHAT IF the early church had been more obsessed with Robert’s Rules of Order rather than the Scriptures?
WHAT IF the early church had been focused on the cross on the wall rather than the cross Jesus called them to carry?
WHAT IF the early church had instructed the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 that He was a little out of hand…and that his movement hadn’t been voted on and approved by the deacons.
WHAT IF the early church had been full of people who drove their “luxury camels” to church…but became angry when someone mentioned the offering?
WHAT IF the early church had the attitude of, “we love a small crowd…so don’t tell anyone about Jesus coming back to life. I know He commanded us to tell…but let’s keep it a secret?”
WHAT IF the early church had been more passionate about their comfort than conforming to who Christ called them to be?
WHAT IF the early church had spent their time attacking the church planting movement than began in Acts 8 and continued throughout the NT?
WHAT IF the early church had been full of people who had an attitude and an opinion…but weren’t actually willing to do anything to reach people far from God?
WHAT IF the early church had required only “religious professionals” to be in ministry?
WHAT IF…WOW…so glad the early church listened to Jesus and did what HE said…or else we would have been in a lot of trouble!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Twist and Turns of God working

The way God works in our lives is almost too high to grasp at times; the reasoning, the twist and turns that life takes, the route adjustments, the why. Stacy and I had such a situation arise yesterday; to properly explain the situation though I have to go back six months.

Six months ago we led a small group that did the study “Experiencing God”, God began to profoundly speak to me during this time and tell me that it was time for college. I was very hesitant towards this call to school as many of you know I have tried school a couple of times, and God always shut the door. We talked about which school and we looked at Baptist schools all over the nation, and one non-Baptist school, Toccoa Falls College. We looked primarily at Baptist schools because being a Southern Baptist North American Board Home Missionary for the last three years school would be a lot cheaper at some institutions. We looked at Toccoa because when we were both in high school we both knew God was telling us that we would be a part of the school someday. I tried to go to Toccoa once before, but was only offered $1000 in financial aid, and many other doors shut. We knew in our hearts that we were trying to force it so we prayed and knew we were supposed to wait. After living in Toccoa for two years God called us to Tucson, AZ. A major detour in the plan, but God had His reason and purpose for this and in a word, it was to transform us in every area of our lives; more on that in another blog.

As we looked at college I asked for information from five to six schools. About a week to ten days later we got a phone call, a letter, and an e-mail from the Falls all in the same day. It was months before we heard from any of the other schools. In fact all the details had been worked out with the Falls by the time anyone else ever said hello. They passed a new rule allowing for all 15 of my online credit ours to be transferred to the campus, which of course was huge. I received a letter of financial aid this time offering me $10,000 in financial aid scholarships and grants. We got into married student housing which we were told would not happen, $330 a month in rent plus water and trash. God was confirming what he had already confirmed in our hearts through Prayer, His Word, and His People.

As we looked at our budget we saw that we could get by on just Stacy working while I started school if we could pay off the car…one problem, we owed $8000. Since we didn’t have an extra eight grand lying around we began to pray that God would help us pay off the last $8000 that we owed on the car through miraculous provision. We began to pray this prayer three months ago, through miraculous provision and providing Stacy with a job that had to meet very strict guidelines because of my work schedule in a time nobody was hiring God has multiplied the $400 payment we were making and after our next payment in the next week we will only owe $1,300. In comes the next turn.

God was beginning to put it on my heart that He was going to show Himself as we went to pay off the rest of the car, and sure enough He has set up the situation to show if there was any doubt, that He did it all. Last week Stacy’s work went under new management. She went to work Monday and they said she had to now work 40 hrs a week, come in earlier (which would have crossed my work schedule, and they could switch her day off any week as they saw fit, not allowing us a day off together. After a night of praying we knew that God would not have us sacrifice our family at the whim of a retail outlet. So she went into the outlet today talked to them, they said they would not work with her, so very quickly this became her last day. I don’t have a clue where that last $1,300 is going to come from. I know we have to pay off the car to make our budget work, especially with moving expenses coming up. There is something I do know with more certainty then that though…God knew this was coming, and to be honest I have total peace about the situation because I know if God has provided $6,700 in three months He is going to provide the last $1,300!!! I share all this so that you can share in the joy and blessing of praising God for what He has already done and praying with us and watching God work a miracle. When God throws a curveball in there watch out, He’s about to show Himself and let you know once again just exactly who He is!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Official Resignation from Central 5/10/2009

On Sunday I put in my resignation with Central. I will be attending Toccoa Falls College in GA come this fall. My last Sunday with Central will be July 26th. We are planning on having a steak and hamburger barbecue potluck after service that day and everyone is invited. We will be leaving July 31st. I want to thank everyone who has loved us and served alongside of us for these three plus years. I also want to thank Pastor Travis for believing God can…and allowing me to grow in my time here. We leave with no regrets and no doubts that our time here in Tucson was orchestrated by God. We love you and will miss you all. Pastor Jeremiah

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The World is changing

This an updated version of an older video. The world is changing, how will the church respond?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Revolution Church Tucson, AZ - A Review

I have never reviewed a church as far as putting up a formal review, but I guess every time we go to church we give it a review of some kind. This review however I felt I should tell others about.

Being a pastor myself and going to a church where I am not a pastor on staff can be a difficult thing, it can be hard to focus, and not critique, yet this past Saturday in my visit to Revolution Church I felt myself fully immersed in my surroundings. This was my third visit to Revolution since thier launch as a church in September of last year. The church itself holds its main service on Saturday nights at 5 PM on Pantano Rd. There is good signage out front to let you know you are there, although I did not notice any signs along the way at the intersections to point the way. The kid’s area was easy to find, and the people were very friendly. It was also clean, and they had a safety check in system, maybe could have been manned a little bit better, but still good, all huge things as a parent. As I looked into my daughter’s class room I got a huge pleasant surprise, there was dude, with two girls, all volunteer teachers. This guy was not just a guy, but he looked to be a man’s man, I believe this to be a huge void in most churches, men working with children and was very happy to see that influence in the room. Jesus was most defiantly a man’s man, yet He spent time with the children, all churches could pick up a lesson here from Revolution, oh and Jesus, have a dude in there with the ladies teaching the kids. I came into the service with about a minute or two to go before service started. A greeter met me and handed me a program. As kind of a side note they had some coffee and juice and stuff to the side that I did not see coming in and since I was thirsty, it would have been nice to know it was there. Thought the greeter could have engaged more, maybe even a second level greeter, someone past handing me the program. Although the crowd was small at first, the excitement coming from the band on stage was oozing from the stage. They were ready to rock it out, to lead people to meet Jesus through song. At 5 sharp things got going, and did they ever get going. I can say from personal experience, you do not want to be late, you will miss out. For a church of 100 people or so, counting kids area, the band was AMAZING!!! They did not miss a beat, and have put together some very talented pieces, clearly anchored by the lead man and the drums. They did not just lead and sing though; you could sense they were worshipping themselves. The audience was also beginning to engage in the worship, something they have been clearly growing into. When the message portion of the service started it began with a video which was good, and then the pastor, Josh, slipped up to the front. Josh delivers his message sitting from a stool, and usually talks about 45-50 minutes. He is a truly gifted speaker as I looked around people were fully engaged the whole time. No one was sleeping, talking, etc. The service ended with Josh giving a clearly laid out challenge, the band leading in a few more songs, and people who wanted to could go to take communion over towards the side.

A few side notes: there is a nice bag for first time visitors, giving is done through a giving box in the back. There is a greeting time to connect, but it is not over done where if you are new you feel really uncomfortable. Dress is comes as you are, very casual, and there is a good diversity of people.

Over all I would give the service experience at Revolution Church an A-, B+, they had a few things I would tweak, but they are new, and it is clear they are tweaking. The service was very engaging and I would recommend the church to anyone looking to plug in with a church, especially those who might not feel like they fit in the “normal” church atmosphere.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why I Ran "The Race for the Cure"

This morning was a very different Sunday for me. As a pastor most people expect me to be one place week in, week out, and that’s in church on Sunday morning. Now there is nothing wrong with this as I love being in church to worship, lead, and teach. This morning though I worshiped, led, and taught in a very different way. This morning I participated in The Race for a Cure, which for those who don’t know is fundraiser for breast cancer research. This is by far the biggest fundraiser in the city of Tucson, something that our city clearly cares about. Last year I got to thinking, if our city cares about this so much, maybe I should care about. In fact the more I thought about it, the more I was sure it was something that Jesus would and does care about. Jesus often met people where they were at, and then said come and see what I am all about. That was what this morning was about for me. I made a shirt that said, “Central Baptist Is…” “…Racing for the Cure.” And then put “John 3:16” underneath. Now to be honest I don’t know if a single person from that race will visit Central, but I know they read the shirt, I saw a lot of them. So what was the point…the point is that I worshiped God by showing people I love and care about them just as He does. That this pastor would be willing to skip church, and that it is not a sacred cow put above everyone else. I believe I led the people of Central by showing them that meeting on Sunday is not the only way to worship, and I believe I taught them that service and love sometimes is way outside of our box of what we think is normal. Five years ago, today would not have been an option for me, but God has been and is stretching me. Today I worshiped God, taught, and led, and I didn’t do any of it at church.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Comeback Churches by Ed Stetzer & Mike Dodson

I will start by saying that this is the longest it has ever taken me to finish a book. I started, and restarted, and restarted, and restarted this book. I first started Comeback Churches last July, and here we are almost a year later and I am finally finished. With all that said I did not think this was Stetzer’s best book, but there were some nuggets that I took away. The last chapter really summed up the book. If a church is to comeback it must regain purpose. From there they sum up five steps to revitalization.

1. Leadership is the most important factor in making a comeback.
(We must first look to our leader Jesus, but after that the pastor must be a leader that others can and will follow, and he in turn must help raise up more leaders.)
2. Vibrant faith, particularly in three faith factors: renewed belief in Jesus Christ and the mission of the church, servanthood, and strategic prayer.
(As a Southern Baptist I have seen firsthand these things missing in most churches of our denomination. Worldview is a huge issue here as I truly believe that we have lost our focus on who Jesus is and what He can do through us because we have for the most part lost a Biblical worldview.)
3. Laypeople becoming actively involved in meaningful ministry.
(One stat says it all. Anywhere from 10-20% of all church members do all the ministry within the church, the rest are spectators. See above for solution.)
4. Churches are more intentional about evangelistic outreach.
(Stats vary here but it is said that currently 95-99% of all Christians in the US will never share there faith. This is a very disturbing and saddening trend.)
5. Worship is huge factor.
(To many churches worship how there Sunday morning worship service goes. This trend must be reversed, Jesus must be our focus of worship, and His mission for us to go and make disciples must be our number one priority. This does not mean another Bible study.)

To wrap it up in the end comeback churches came back because Godly leaders stepped up and said no matter what we are going to make Jesus and the mission He has given us our number one priority. There will be no sacred cows, nothing will stand before these two things and if you don’t like that your welcome to leave. They raised the bar, instead of lowering it. As I look at the church I am a part of now I can see very clearly that some of the principles of this book can be applied and some already are and I believe we are seeing a difference. God make us more passionate for you and your mission than anything else.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shame...Part 1

I have been reading the wounded heart by Dr. Dan B. Allender, although not very far into the book I felt the need to write down some of my thoughts. I was not sure if I was going to get through the book because the preface was so long and boring, but coming out the other side I am glad I clawed my way through it. In chapter two Allender deals with shame, and I really have so much to say that this will probably end up being a series of writings. I’ll be honest this was a hard chapter to read as a wave of memories came back to me that I am not ready to hash out outside of my mind yet. I am sharing these mostly out of heart of wanting to help others.

Anyway part 1 of Shame…

Francis Schaeffer described man as a glorious ruin, a stately castle, intricately and masterfully constructed by the hand of an Artisan who designed His work with no thought of expense or practicality. A proper concern for God’s own glory and majesty was His only guiding force in creating a person. The castle, however, was given a life of its own, capable of rearranging itself. When man took it on himself to be God, he ruined everything. Crumbling walls, rotten wood, and overgrown gardens: the decay became so extensive that only one with eyes of a Craftsman could see the structural beauty that remained underneath the overgrown foliage and overthrown wall. Nevertheless, it has glory in its form and composition. Man is an amalgamation of dignity and depravity, a glorious ruin.

This concept of depravity is one that although I know in my mind, I have a hard time dealing with on a personal level. Growing up in a family of must win at all cost, of rubbing it in the face of the loser makes me to this day strive to always be number one, to never lose! If I am not, if I lose, if I fail what might people think of me, will I be a failure in their eyes, not worthy of their presence? I know that sounds intense, but I really do process it that way. Let me give an example. I grew up idolizing my next to oldest brother. I wanted to be him in every way, all of the sports team I chose to follow as a child, were based off of his favorites, I literally wanted to be connected in every way possible. He was also a natural athlete and since I wanted to be everything he was I tried, but I however was not the natural athlete. That did not stop me though from always seeking his acceptance and approval. My brother wanted mostly nothing to do with me as we were growing up, but when we did spend time it was in some form of completion. Of course he won 99.9% of the time and he was always sure to let me know that I was the loser. He came to me once years later to ask for forgiveness, and to be honest, now looking back such shame overtook me of not living up to his expectations of what I thought he wanted out of me in those younger years that I hurried the conversation over as quickly as possible. Years after that encounter we had a confrontation over the church that I moved here to start and although I tried to act like I was okay, I was crushed. In my heart I swore I would not be hurt anymore by not living up to my perceived expectations that he had for me. We have talked very little since. If I don’t have contact, I can’t be hurt anymore. I could not handle being the one who was a step short, who was always a little behind, so I cut myself off. I did not want to feel that type of shame anymore.

I do not blame my brother for all of these feelings; the truth is that reading this chapter has uncovered a lot of pain in my heart. Things I need Jesus to heal. You see Jesus is the one that I truly need to accept me; He is the Craftsman who can see the structural beauty beneath all the decay and in being the Craftsman of my heart and soul, the creator, He is the only one that I should truly look to for acceptance. I harbor no ill will toward my brother, but I still do long for his acceptance, and in so doing I have made him an idol before God, and right now I ask you begin to heal my heart Father, forgive me for seeking any acceptance other than Yours.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Big Decisions and God's Best

Have you ever had a time in your life where the stars seem to align and you think this could be it? Maybe you are looking for something, a job, a new house, a girl/boy, but when that something comes around you know it is not the best, this is not for me…there is something better for me out there. Or maybe it is the best, but not the right time for the best. Anyway you look at it these can be very interesting times. What if you’re wrong? What if this is the best and your expectations are just off the charts high? What if it is time and that feeling in your heart is the chili dog from lunch. How do you approach such times, what do you do when GREAT and just slightly GREATER come your way? I have had this happen a couple of times in my life, and there are some basic principles that I use to make these type of decisions.
1. I pray about it like there is no tomorrow!
2. I read God’s Word a lot!
3. I seek counsel from people who have been there and done that.
4. I try to approach it with a neutral will in the matter.
5. I listen for God to speak through His Word, prayer, super-natural circumstances, and His people.
If these last four align, the stars are aligning and God is saying this is what is best. If you are facing a big life decision I encourage you to do these five things and see if you don’t experience God’s very best.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

4 Points on Leadership by a Great Leader

1. Selflessness: people want to follow a leader who puts the mission and others in the unit first... people can see right through a selfish, careerist oriented boss.
2. Self-discipline: to achieve excellence takes much self discipline... hard work, not cutting ethical corners, physical conditioning, secondary education, etc. requires "SD"
3. Moral Courage: leaders must have courage to make tough decisions... decisions about people and decisions that others may disagree with.
4. Mentor and be mentored: the great leaders I have read about, all had folks who they learned from... Proverbs says wise men listen to advice and seek understanding.
Written by Don Bacon

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Church at Starbucks

Something has been stirring in me lately. As most of you know I hold a part time job at Starbucks. I mostly open, and usually with the same core of people. I truly love these people; I can say that I sincerely care about their welfare. I also believe they feel the same way about me. I suddenly find myself looking forward to work on more than usual on a very consistent basis, not because I love coffee, because I actually despise it, but because the family that we have developed in the mornings. It’s not just the openers though as we held Starbucks party here at my house on Thursday we interacted as family. When it got down to the last 8-10 of us we had the most fun as there is something to that smaller group feel. My thought here is not how Great the people I open with are, or the people in Starbucks in general, although they are a great bunch, but my heart is towards the church. To be honest I have rarely experienced this kind of family in the church. I long for and encourage it, but it is hard to find. When I think of my Starbucks family I am reminded of my church youth group days. I was a part of a group that had a bond, fellowship, and an honesty that I have rarely seen in my experience in the church. We exploded, and as we lost that, we lost the group. I guess what I am trying to say is people are looking for this, I am looking for this. I am looking for a people that are so sold out to Jesus that they are also sold out to each other and before you know it your family. I think people are looking to join a cause like that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

God Moving in Me

I have come to a point of revelation about my time in Tucson. God brought me here not for the city, or to start ECC, or to help Central. God brought me here for me. I am not saying this to brag, because it is a very humbling admission. I came to Tucson with the idea that God would use me to help fix people’s lives by introducing them to Jesus; instead I am the one who has been through all the fixing. God brought me here, to fix me. That’s right God moved my family across the country, brought me on staff with Central Baptist, started a church and closed it, and led a merger that made no human sense. I know God has used us in the lives of others, but He had a work to do in me, and Tucson was the only way He could accomplish that work.
You might be wondering where I am going with this, I might seem a little self absorbed, am I suggesting it is all about me? In a way, yes! This admission is not one of pride though, I am very humbled. Why? Because the thought that God cares so much about me that all this time and resources would be poured into my life so that he could mold me into who He want me to be is an astounding thought to me. He really loves me that much. You see I am learning more with every day that passes that God is more interested in a relationship with each of us than anything else. He wants me to be more like Him so He has been molding my character, shaping into His likeness. This all started when I prayed a very simple prayer, “Here am I, send me Lord”. Little did I know what was to come, what that prayer really meant, but I know that the God of the universe is at work within me in all of this, and that is an amazing thought.

Walking, Talking, and Prayers for the Saints of a Small Town

I have recently begun walking to get rid of some of the fat that I have stored on my body. I found these to be great times with God as I get away by myself, sing, lift my hands, and talk with God. Last night my prayers took a turn to a small Northeast Georgia town called Toccoa. There are so many people that I love there, who affected my life for the good that it was hard to know where to start. There is the best friend that I have ever had, Dwain Dickinson, I love and miss him and his family. There is Walt and Barbara who taught us to handle money God’s way. He is a true man of God and I so appreciate all of His prayers. I miss our prayer time’s together man. There is Dian who, LOL, is a wee bit crazy, but I love her anyway. My church family, Zebulon Baptist, I truly grew to love them in a way I did not know you could love the church. There was Andy and Rodney, Floyd Payne and Tommy Farmer (who I heard just passed away) he will be missed! Jeremy and Brooke Stowe, our friends, nothing more need be said. There was the Sunday night small group that God deeply moved through. Of course there was Pastor Tony and Lori, “Don’t get off the bus, because we’re going somewhere”, LOL! That always cracked me up. These people touched my heart and family in a very special way, they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. They taught me that there can be a love between the body of Christ that goes so much deeper than blood relationship. As I prayed I could not help but thank God for them, pray that God would continue to move in and through them, as I hear great reports of what God is doing, and I write all of this to say thank you, and that I love and miss you all. You are in my prayers!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What it is Like to be a Pastor

This is a great blog about being a pastor.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Church

Found this quote..."The church needs to change from fear to faith; territorial to kingdom mindset; safety and selfishness to sacrificial generosity; isolation to involvement and partnership; complacency to commitment; laziness to learning and leadership"
What do you think about it? Questions?