Friday, July 20, 2007

Book #14 - The Gospel According to Starbucks

A few months ago I received a shipment from the Relevant Network. The usual stuff - five or six books, four or five CDs, a handful of Relevant Magazine and Radiant Magazine, and a DVD. After reading First, Break All the Rules, I needed something a little bit light. So I picked up The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet. This book arrived in the Relevant Network shipment.

Leonard Sweet tries to tie together to community and connections that are built at Starbucks to the need for the Church to embrace the same drive. It's definitely not the deepest book I have ever read. Sweet makes some good points. There is nothing earth shaking new here. If you are in a church that doesn't do community well, this may be a good book to pick up.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Guest Blogger

It's been a while since I last posted and our Senior Management Team is leaving this afternoon for a retreat together, so I will not be posting for even longer. In the mean time I asked our Pastor to Student Ministries to if I could share his devotion (powerful stuff) from our last staff meeting. Here it is...

Sometimes I’m fascinated most by what the Bible doesn’t say…Part 2:

I wonder what thoughts raced through David’s mind as he raised the severed head of Goliath. Were they thoughts of confidence and victory; or awe and wonder; were they thoughts of accomplishment, achievement, and celebration; or was he so dedicated to simply serving the Lord that the severed head of Goliath felt in David’s hands to be more like a quote “reasonable act of worship”? I just wonder…

I wonder about the Shepherds who had been watching their flocks by night. I wonder what kind of conversation they had during their visit at Bethlehem’s manger. Were they apprehensive at first? Did they sing Him a lullaby or touch His little toes? Could they even speak when they saw the precious baby Jesus asleep on the hay? And I wonder if we’ll ever really experience that at Christmas?

I wonder about Bartimaeus. He cried out to Jesus, over and over and over again, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Even after being told to be quiet, he shouted all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And, oh, how I wonder just how cherished he felt when the disciples finally responded to him saying, “On your feet. He’s calling you!”

I wonder about the Samaritan woman at the well. After meeting Jesus that day, I wonder if she continued her mid-day trips, or was just one taste of Living Water enough to redeem a sense of worth great enough to come, instead, at morning…After all, it is for freedom which Christ set us free…And I wonder if she ever drew water again without praising the name of a Jew who was willing to look beyond His own nationalism…the name of a God who was willing to look beyond His own holiness… For the record, I really, really hope that she went back to the well at morning, and I pray that we are building a ministry that is so full of grace and invitation that the “mid-day crowd” starts getting their water a little earlier… Can I get an “amen” to that?

I wonder about Moses. I wonder if he was ever truly able to appreciate the warmth of that pillar of fire by night or the shade of that pillar of cloud by day. I wonder if he ever ate a single piece of manna without dreaming of the day…that glorious day when he would finally dine on milk and honey…because, quite frankly, I’m grateful for my daily bread, but my heart sure longs for Canaan-land…

I wonder what emotions Noah felt once it finally started to rain.

I wonder how the heart of worship looked in the bleeding woman once her bleeding stopped.

I wonder if the man who was born blind was ever able to see a mud puddle without being reminded of His goodness.
I wonder…what was the look on Mary and Martha’s faces when they saw their dead brother Lazarus walk out of his grave?

I wonder about the boy who sacrificed his 5 loaves and 2 fish unto Jesus…Did he have any clue how history would be impacted by such a humble sacrifice? And could it be that God is using our humble sacrifices the same way?

I wonder what Paul said to Stephen once he got to heaven, or better yet, I wonder what Stephen said to Paul…

I wonder what John felt as he lived through the martyrdom of all of the rest of the Apostles.

But most of all I wonder if we don’t spend the lot of our days taking all of this for granted. Jesus has paid the price of our sins. He has beat the hell out of death. He sealed our victory, and promised His assistance every day of our lives. The Bible says it like this, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God; the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint. For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you do not fear.”

So could it be that today you and I would all take the time to read between the lines of our faith and take the time to recognize our role in the great eternal act of His story…making the most of every opportunity to see the unseen; to embrace the eternal; and to fill in the gaps that so many are content to leave empty. Amen

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

June at a Glance

June 2/3 - I preached
656 in worship (60.4% increase from 2006)
230 in Sunday school (27.8% increase from 2006)

June 9/10 - Dave preached
638 in worship (54.9% increase from 2006)
212 in Sunday school (39.5% increase from 2006)

June 16/17 - I preached
548 in worship (54.8% increase from 2006)
192 in Sunday school (23.1% increase from 2006)

June 23/24 - I preached
584 in worship (75.4% increase from 2006)
219 in Sunday school (13.8% increase from 2006)

I am blown away by the percentage increase in attendance this year. We have had a definite drop off in worship attendance because of summer vacations, but to compare the numbers from last year is just incredible. I hope and pray that the people of Charter Oak Church will continue to dedicate themselves to being in worship every weekend they are home and will continue to have the courage to take a risk on someone in their circle of influence and invite them to worship with them. The month of June was great. All praise goes to God Almighty!

Book #13 - First, Break All the Rules

I finished my 13th book of the year, Marcus Buckingham's First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. This is a great book. As I am finishing the book I am already planning on going back and typing all of the notes I have from the book. There is just so much that can be gleaned from this book. One of the best take aways for me was the process of how great managers think differently about each employee.

I could take months digesting the full impact the principles of this book could have on what I am called to do at Charter Oak Church. If you can read through a very business focused book and pull out great principles, I would highly recommend this book.

Tough Times

I started studying a new book of the Bible this morning - Jeremiah. This guy had one of the most difficult assignments ever given by God. The thing is, he was obedient to the call, no matter what the circumstance that he was in. He went through some of the most tough times ever. His response was always, whatever God wants.

The Bible I use to do my early morning Bible study has this in it...

Jeremiah endured several occasions to practice the law of sacrifice
1. He was called to a ministry of opposition (1:18, 19)
2. He was not permitted to marry (16:1, 2)
3. He was beaten and put into stocks (20:1-3)
4. He was publicly disgraced to depict the judgment of Israel (27:1-3)
5. He was imprisoned in a dungeon (38:1-6)

Then the Bible commentator asks this question, "Do you suddenly feel a little better about your plight as a leader? Jeremiah faced horrible odds, yet never walked away from his message or his call from God."

I know there are some people at Charter Oak Church who are going through a very difficult assignment from God right now. I know you are struggling. I know you are questioning God.

Here is what I want you to hear...don't give up. God is at work in your life. God is on your side. He is cheering you on. He is pouring into you. God loves you. God is doing a work in you right now that you may not understand, but your role is to be obedient to him in all things.

Keep looking to God!

Monday, July 2, 2007


A couple of notes from worship this past weekend, especially for those of you who attended Saturday night and didn't get the PowerPoint because of a little technical problem that I take responsibility for, sorry about that.

Exodus 3:1-5
Exodus 3:13-15

LORD - Yahweh - YHVH

Breathing - Yod Heh Vav Heh
If the name of God is the sound of breathing,
how does that change the way you view your prayer life?

First breath - Genesis 2:7
Last breath - Mark 15:37

The way we expect God to show up in our lives is not always in line with God
1 Kings 19:11

Never, ever forget the promise of Romans 8:34

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Final message in the series next week. Stay tuned...