Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bucket List from a Different Perspective

I read a blog this week that is so good I have to pass it on to each of you. It is the blog of James Emery White, Founding and Senior Pastor of Meckleburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC.

He read a book entitled, "The Before You're Forty Bucket List." This book is about the things you want to do before you "kick the bucket." The book prompted him to come up with a bucket list for followers of Christ. This bucket list matters because of the eternal value.

I was so moved by his list that I am going to implement these things in my life before I "kick the bucket." Would you be willing to join the adventure with me?

1. Build a relationship with a non-Christian and share your faith in Christ.

2. Trust God financially in terms of giving.

3. Take at least one bungee-jump of faith related to obedience.

4. Love someone to the point of sacrifice.

5. Discover your spiritual gift(s) and serve accordingly.

6. Make one spiritual pilgrimage (see A Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom, InterVarsity Press, for some ideas).

7. Read the Bible in its entirety.

8. Mentor someone new to the faith.

9. Find a church home and invest yourself in its community and mission.

10. Serve the poorest of the poor.

James Emery White concludes "if I can have those ten things crossed would have been a good and God-honoring life."

P.S. Have you ever been sideswiped, hit with a crisis out of the blue? If you have ever had things blow up before your eyes in terms of living your life, you won't want to miss Sunday's message at 9:00am or 10:30am!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Practical, Fun Outreach Ideas

Cindy and I are making a more concerted effort to build relationships with our neighbors. We decided to have several of them over to our house for dinner and games. We then want to do acts of kindness for them and genuinely let them know they are important to us.

I came across a recent article by Mark Howell on ten ways to connect with your neighbors. May I encourage you to implement several of these as you reach out to your neighbors and invest in them:

  1. Movie night outside for kids and families. Pick the right movie, circle up in lawn chairs, and bring the popcorn.
  2. Drop in for waffles and bacon on a Saturday morning. Borrow some waffle irons, add some blueberries and make it fun.
  3. Invite neighbors over for a potluck theme dinner night (Italian, Mexican, etc.). Go all out with music, decorations, and even attire.
  4. Garage sale for a local cause. Be ready to talk about why you are doing it.
  5. Pull a fire pit onto your driveway. Bring out the patio furniture and offer warm cider and s'mores to neighbors passing by. If your neighborhood is like mine, have plenty of doggie treats for the pets.
  6. Chili cook-off. No better time to host a chili cook-off complete with judges (I'll volunteer to judge), prizes and Tums.
  7. Block party cookout. Roll the grills into the cul de sac and bring the lawn chairs. Do it right and it can become an annual event.
  8. The big game on the big screen. Plan a party for those who don't have season tickets. Make it fun for the whole family.
  9. Game night with Pizazz, Banco, Bridge, Pictionary, etc. There's a way to do this that's even more fun - think tournament. Have goofy prizes for the winners. Oh, and Mr. Microphone adds another level of enthusiasm.
  10. Since it's Halloween, join in the fun. Safe Halloween fun. No tracts please! Just the best candy and friendliest people on the block.
Have fun and get to know your neighbors!


P.S. Have you been in a conflict lately? How did you respond? Was it resolved? If you want to learn some practical skills concerning conflict, don't miss this Sunday!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Just say "no."

I have some very close friends who are tired, physically worn out, overwhelmed and over-committed. One reason they have become like this is because they haven't learned how to say "no".
The word "no" is a hard word for many of us. If we want to excel in life, ministry, grace, likeability, influence - we must learn to create healthy boundaries. Part of a healthy boundary involves learning to say "no".
Here's the tension we often experience: hearing "no" can be demoralizing, but we can't increase our effectiveness without it. So how can we learn to be better with "no"?
First, know who you are. Know your limitations. Be honest about who you are and what you want. Once you understand who you are it becomes a road map for the things to say "yes" to, and the things you must say "no" to. "No" isn't about being mean, but rather being honest about who you are.
Second, the power of re-direction. When you must say "no," give an alternative. "No, I can't go this week but I can go in a couple of weeks." "No, I can't help you right now but maybe so and so can." "No, but what I could do for you is this."
Third, create space for the right things. Creating space in your life will enable you to become the best version of you. When you say "no" to taking on extra projects at work, you have more time to spend with your family. When you say "no" to managing other people's emotional baggage and problems, you have room to focus on developing yourself. Saying "no" to everyone else's schedule will free up time for you to develop your spiritual life.
When you say "no" to something, you have the ability to say "yes" to something else. And when you have room to say "yes" to the things that really matter to you, you become more likeable.
P.S. This Sunday, I will help us sift through how to make good decisions while keeping our commitments! We will continue our journey through Joshua and will cover chapters 9 & 10. See you Sunday morning!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Silver Bullet

Silver bullet - any straight forward solution perceived to have extreme effectiveness. The expectation of the phrase appears with an expectation that a particular practice will cure a major prevailing problem.

What is the "silver bullet" for fulfilling Christ's command to go and make disciples? Here it is: the most effective evangelism, by far, occurs through meaningful relationships between Christians and non-Christians.

Did you know that over twice as many non-Christians come to Christ through relationships with Christian friends or relatives than all other reasons combined?

Jesus modeled this disciple-making silver bullet (cf. Mark 5:19, Luke 19:9, Mark 2:14-15). The word for "household" in the New Testament refers to a person's close friends as well as their work associates. It referred to servant's families who lived there (cf. Acts 16:31). The early Christians knew that when the message of faith was heard and demonstrated by friends and family who were known and trusted...receptivity to the Gospel increased tremendously.

There is one essential requirement for reaching our friends and neighbors: we must be close enough to unbelievers for Christ to be observed and experienced through us. And there's the rub. The longer we are in the church, the fewer friends we have outside the church. Most of us have very few close friends who are non-Christians.

One reason that 85% of today's churches are not growing is that the social networks of people in the church are almost entirely within the church. Some churches even encourage relational isolation.

Here's the solution to this problem: we have to enter the non-Christian's world and be like Jesus to them. You cannot be Christ-like to them if you don't know any nonbelievers. You must have contact to have impact.

We need friends who are tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19) like Jesus had. We need to be friends with non-Christians. We need to hang out with the riff-raff of the world. Jesus did. So must we.

This week we all (especially me) must be friends, make friends, and invest in the non-Christian. How can Christ's missional task "make disciples" be accomplished if we aren't investing our lives with the people in the world? Who will you be friends with this week?

God Bless,

P.S. This Sunday, our Pastor of Young Adults and Families, Brian Abbott, will be preaching! You'll want to be there! Invite a friend and we'll see you at 9:00 or 10:30am.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Most of us as Christ followers know that it's important to engage those in the culture around us with the message of the cross, but we don't know how to start. Let's be honest with each other, it seems a bit intimidating to hang out with those who aren't followers of Jesus. It's so much more comfortable to do things together with our Christian friends.

But it's time that we begin to overcome our fears, complacency and discomfort. I have shared the following "engage the culture" steps before in a Freshly Bru'd and since two people asked me this week how to be more engaging I thought I would remind us all of what we need to make this happen.

-Start conversations: talk to people living next to you, the person pumping gas next to you, the person ordering coffee in front of you, etc. Just talk to people; it all starts with conversation.

-Hang out with people who enjoy the same things you do: local sport leagues, PTA, book clubs, service organizations, music clubs, etc. You get the idea! We have a lot in common with the unchurched and we can connect with them in these kinds of things.

-Tell stories: about your life, your faith, other faith stories you've heard of from the world of sports, politics, education, etc.

-Volunteer somewhere: coach a youth sports team, serve meals at the mission, tutor kids at school, etc. Be consistent in serving.

-Invite other Christians to join you as you engage the culture so you don't have to go it alone.

-Pray with others: ask a non-Christian in your life what challenges they are facing and offer to pray for and with them. Be sure to follow-up by asking how it is going with the challenge you prayed for.

-Address the physical and spiritual needs around you; just meet needs.

Remember as you begin to engage the culture you live in that greater is He who is in you (God's spirit) than he who is in the world (Satan).


God Bless,

P.S. If you feel stuck where you are spiritually, you will not want to miss Sunday's message "Moving to the Next Level". Several on-ramps, suggestions and helps will be shared. See you at either 9:00 or 10:30am!