Monday, October 29, 2007

Knowledge Is King?

John sent me this article last week talking about the "outsourced brain." We live in the information world - anything and everything is accessible within seconds. What used to take weeks, months or even years to research and investigate to the fullest potential can now be located with a click of the mouse. Isn't technology amazing?

But stop and think about it. My grandparents and even my parents didn't have the internet. They actually had to learn about something and that information was usually retained forever. During my lifetime we began to know about all kinds of things. But that is totally different from understanding.

While information is more prevalent than at any time in history, people are actually less knowledgeable than ever before. We are actually training our kids to gather as much information as possible, use it in the moment and then cast it into the "recycle bin." Why learn about something when you can just look it up again anytime you feel like it?

Let's not be confused about the difference between knowing and understanding. This is especially true regarding the church today. Many people are searching for God and are turning to the local church. This is an incredibly important responsibility. We have two options: we can feed them a bunch of "information" in the moment (which will be forgotten within a few days) and teach at them, OR we can help them understand and experience an awesome and loving God. Too many churches are still preaching at people instead of leading them into a life-changing experience that will last forever.

The local church is in danger if we choose to facilitate knowledge instead of understanding. We can certainly leverage technology to help in understanding, but when it becomes our only device we'll end up losing focus and inevitably cheapen the Gospel.

The old adage that "knowledge is king" is only partially true - without understanding we'll end up forgoing information before we even have a chance to lose it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Who's On Your List?

A great visit today with my good friend John. It's always a pleasure to sit back and enjoy a cup o' coffee and some great conversation with him. John always makes me feel at ease and I always come away from one of our conversations feeling better about life than I did before. Thanks John, for another conversation, for taking time to refill my tank, and for always being someone I can count on. You can finish my thoughts better than I can!

If you don't have someone you can sit down with and just be yourself, DON'T WAIT A SECOND LONGER!! It's incredibly imperative to have at least one or two people that you can count on, have conversations with, let them in on the challenges in your life, and for them to speak truth into your life. Nothing can take the place of this!

A few things to keep in mind:
  • Start a list on paper of people you think you might have a connection with - always make sure they are of the same sex as you!
  • Schedule a breakfast or lunch with them - don't engage in anything other than "normal" conversation.
  • Make notes on your list of those people you felt a "connection" with - only mark those who you feel could be a potential match.
  • Narrow the list to no more than five people - two to three is preferable.
  • Begin to invest more time in the relationship - don't be afraid to ask them to hold you accountable for certain things, to give honest feedback and to engage in deeper conversations
Strong relationships cannot be built overnight. They take time, commitment and patience. Nobody is perfect (not even you!) so don't expect them to be! Most people have hundreds of acquaintances but very few close friends.

If you can develop a few of these relationships I promise that it will be worth the time and effort. It could potentially save your life, your marriage, your job and much more.

Who will you put on your list?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Content to Be Content

We talked about contentment in our Life Group this week. We also discovered an important distinction. Contentment is not accepting what you already have. Accepting what you have can sometimes lead to complacency and lack of effort. Contentment is also not "settling" due to current circumstances.

Instead, God asks us to give Him our best. To go "all out." If everything we have belongs to God in the first place, then contentment should come by realizing that God is simply loaning us our resources, our talents, our families, etc, for this particular moment in time. God deserves all that we have. He deserves one hundred percent of our effort. If we give Him that, we can be assured of a peaceful heart regardless of the outcome.

As Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV):

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

We can be happy whether we have the most or the least. The goal is to give God our best and then let Him decide the outcome. When our desire to please God outweighs our desire to please ourselves, that's when we'll find true contentment.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Growing Bigger By Growing Smaller

We had a wonderful Life Group tonight. We met in the Underground due to the fact our group is getting VERY large - 17 adults and usually about 13 kids. That's too many to fit in any one house! While we enjoy our time together, I laid out the challenge tonight that our group needs to find a way to divide into smaller units.

Having a large group limits the number of opportunities for someone to share their heart. It also limits the possibility of adding new people to the group. When we are too big to add any others to our group, we are, in actuality, denying someone else from having the same experience we currently enjoy. That's really a selfishness issue which can lead to a bigger issue - pride.

To our group's credit, everyone recognized the need to give others the opportunity to experience a Life Group. I also challenged everyone to consider whether or not they should step up and lead a group as well. We have plenty of host homes, but not enough people stepping up to lead. Most people won't lead unless you give them permission. They either feel unqualified or unchallenged. Both can be solved with a little encouragement.

It's amazing to me that when you remove a leader from a group, another leader steps up to take their place. It was the same way when I taught band - when a strong player graduated, there was always someone else that would step up to the challenge. They were simply waiting for the opportunity and the invitation.

As leaders, we often fail the organization because we won't step out of the way and give others the opportunity to lead. Just like the small group I mentioned above, it becomes an issue of pride. Once we step out of the way and extend the invitation, it's amazing to see who shows up and the incredible talent they bring to the table.

Are you the bottleneck to the organization? Have you given someone the opportunity and the invitation?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stormy Thursday




Quite the storms today!! At 2:30 this morning the storms hit full force on our side of town and within seconds our 110 year old maple tree was lying across our front yard. It was as if God Himself took great care to position the tree gently and cautiously across our lawn. Another few feet to the right and the tree would have crashed into our daughter Emilee's bedroom. A few more feet to the left and the power lines would have snapped. A few feet to the other side and our neighbor's house and car would have been demolished. In short, it was nothing less than a miracle that the tree landed exactly where it would cause no damage!

At 8am I was already trying to figure out how to dispose of this gigantic yard ornament. By 10am the entire tree was gone! Another miracle perhaps? The city workers were out cleaning up debris from the road and after a short conversation they agreed to go take a look out our tree. By 9:30am they had trimmed all the branches and put them in the shredder. By 10am they had returned to cut the large trunk into pieces and then by chain loaded them into a truck to be taken away. While I have many issues with our city, I must say that these guys were AWESOME!! A HUGE thanks go out to those fellas for taking care of a massive challenge!

This afternoon? Another round of storms. This time two tornadoes were spotted, one of which came across our neighborhood and did some pretty good damage. Several trees were down in our neighborhood, a fence and a car smashed from a broken limb. Across town the damage continued with the storm path taking out many more trees and part of a house. The power is still out tonight in that part of town, but fortunately I haven't heard of any injuries.

I've always been fascinated by storms, especially tornadoes. I don't understand why they happen, but I wonder if God is simply clearing away what is not needed any longer. What I do know is that He was certainly watching out for our family this morning and this afternoon, and I thank Him for covering us with His protection. Another reminder that we serve an incredible God!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Parents Just Don't Understand

NewSpring Church is getting ready to start a new parenting series called "Parents Are Clueless." While we have taught many times on parenting at Meadow Heights Church, I love how Perry and his team are thinking outside the box.

Check out this incredible website with comments that will make those of us who are parents think twice about our family.

Right Smack Dab In the Middle...

Take time to check out this post by this guy. My favorite lines:

It’s not Jesus, then my family, then my job…
It’s Jesus: in my family, in my job…

Monday, October 15, 2007

An AMAZING Weekend!

The title says it all! After a week of installation we finally debuted our new technology system at Meadow Heights Church this past weekend. A HUGE shout out to all those folks who pitched in to make everything happen! Our Creative Arts team is phenomenal and we had so many people who gave their time and energy the entire week.

Thanks to Dustin, Joseph and the entire crew from Ford Audio Video - they worked countless hours all week long to get us ready for the weekend. Thanks to Jeremy, who leads our LiVE! Team and who spent all day Saturday helping install and troubleshoot and for getting our music team ready. Thanks to Matt - BIG TIME! - for coming in early (and all day!) Saturday with his MacBook (ours didn't come in!) and getting our entire video system up and running (including the resolution!) for the gatherings.


Thanks to Craig, who leads our Finale Team, who came in all day Saturday to get our new digital board ready. He had to reset the entire stage, every channel on the board and then tweak out every vocalist and instrumentalist before 3pm!


I'd also like to thank Krys - who ran the new light board all weekend, Scott - for helping Craig and learning a great deal of the sound board himself, Kayla - who rescued all of us by picking up a much needed cable in St. Louis to get our presentation software running, and finally to Melissa and her team for not only getting the visual arts ready, but for taking care of all the Creative Arts team by feeding us food and of course keeping us awake with Red Bull!

There were so many people who made this happen that I'm sure I missed someone. A huge thanks to Bryan, our lead pastor, for believing in the dream called Meadow Heights and for believing in me just a few short years ago. The vision is becoming a reality right before our very eyes!

We'll be posting additional details this week as well as streaming our Imagine Video complete with animation of our Arcadia Valley site plan. We'll also be spending the week "tweaking what's weak" and developing new systems that will hopefully allow us to acclimate and train our volunteers very quickly.

Until then, here' s to catching up on some sleep!

[pictures sent via Blackberry]

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Imagine...


I haven't had much time to talk about the new series coming up at Meadow Heights Church. We're calling it "Imagine." All I can say is don't miss this weekend! I promise everyone that you will not be disappointed if you show up this weekend - you will be blown away by what God has been doing!

We've been busy with technology, print materials, videos and so much more. Many of those things will be unveiled this weekend. Bryan will be talking about God and the many miracles we have already seen and are yet to come.

The Imagine Campaign will change Meadow Heights Church forever, and we are hoping that it radically changes thousands of lives for eternity. Continue to be in prayer and then come join us as we celebrate the kickoff of IMAGINE! In the meantime, enjoy this sneak preview!


video

Techno Thursday

For you tech heads out there, here are some articles that you might be interested in:

  • Kindersay - a new website that promotes easy online learning for young children
  • TwitterLife - what do you get when you cross Twitter with Second Life? Check it out.
  • Grooveshark - a new P2P sharing system that is quite unique...and legal!
[all articles via this site]

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Strange Envelope

A strange envelope arrived today from "Christopher" in Richmond, VA and was addressed to my wife and I. Inside? A pair of work gloves and a note from someone we have never met before that stated that he had been working with Habitat for Humanity and these were his work gloves. Now he wanted to pass them along and asked us to look for an opportunity to help someone in need.

A "Pay It Forward" moment? If you haven't seen that movie, as soon as I saw the note in the envelope I was reminded of that concept - receive a favor from someone and then pay it forward by doing a favor for someone else.

Has anyone else ever received anything like this? Another God opportunity perhaps?

Monday, October 08, 2007

What A Weekend!!

What a phenomenal weekend!

My wife, Melissa, and I took off for a long weekend in the city. After a quick visit to Priceline, we secured a low cost hotel room near Chesterfield. The location was great and they gave us a nice room on the upper floor overlooking the lake. A very quiet and peaceful room! [pics via my Blackberry - we forgot the camera!]


We arrived late on Friday and after a bit of work from the hotel on Saturday morning, we headed out for the "Best of Missouri Market" at the Missouri Botanical Garden. WOW! What an event! For $10, we had the opportunity to sample food and drinks from four VERY large tents as well as visit all of the gardens. I would HIGHLY recommend this event to anyone! It was a beautiful day to visit the gardens as well, which you can tour at any time of the year.


After snacking around the tents we headed back to the hotel for a quick swim and hot tub visit and then we headed over to PF Chang's for our dinner reservations. Melissa had never eaten there before (only once for me!) . Our food and service were decent, but not over the top. Prices at PF's are good and you do get quite a bit food for the price. Check it out sometime.

Sunday morning found us with our friends at Windsor Crossing for their 11am service. They had some really AWESOME stage designs complete with a HUGE up lit cross and what seemed like 1000 candles (check out the pic). While there were some very creative moments, Windsor seems to cut them short with awkward transitions and nary a lingering moment. Just when everyone seemed to get into the creative element they would abruptly end it. They did this multiple times in the service we attended. Great ideas, but the impact fell short. It really makes you appreciate Meadow Heights and how we really strive for "defining moments" and opportunities for God to impact people in those moments.


After the service we drove about fifteen minutes and had a quick bite at the Cheesecake Factory. This is one of Melissa's and my favorite spots. Since it was our weekend away, we didn't want to miss out on any food opportunities!! We did manage to split an appetizer, pizza, and of course some dessert! We hit the Apple store for a few moments as well as a few other stores, but didn't do a whole lot of damage to the pocketbook!

The afternoon? Well, we decided to take in a movie at the mall. Nothing much playing in this small theater, but we managed to settle on a movie called "The Seeker." I had never heard of this movie, but it was very enjoyable and something the whole family could watch. It was a bit dark and some parts a bit scary for the younger folk, but overall a solid movie with decent acting. The highlight however was coming out of the movie theater and near the exit was a young man with a silver tray full of mints!! I have never been to a theater that handed out mints before! An interesting twist on customer service!

After another short rest at the hotel, we headed over to The Melting Pot for dinner. Neither Melissa or I had ever been to this restaurant before, but we had been wanting to check it out for quite some time. We decided to splurge and have the four course meal, which is a bit different at this place. We started with some cheese fondue with bread and granny smith apples for dipping. Next was a salad (for Melissa NOT for me! YUCK!) followed by the main course of MANY types of meats which we skewered and cooked in our broth. The platter was filled with two different types of steak, white shrimp, lobster, marinated pork, chicken and some pasta. We also had a platter of veggies for dipping complete with five or six different types of sauces. This was by far the best part of the meal! Very fun, creative and enjoyable. We topped off our night with a chocolate and peanut butter fondue complete with a tray FULL of different types of fruits, marshmallows, brownies and cheesecakes for dipping. AWESOME STUFF!! This experience took approximately two hours and overall it was very unique and enjoyable. Not sure I would go back again, but maybe for a special occasion.

Bloated and busting at the seams from a day full of food, we crashed at the hotel. Monday found us searching for fabric and design pieces for the launch of our new series at Meadow Heights Church this weekend.

Overall a GREAT weekend and a chance to catch our breaths before the long haul of projects in the next few months. Lots of stuff to do, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to spend some quality time with my wife - she is one PHENOMENAL lady and I am incredibly lucky to have her!!


Thanks for a great weekend Mel!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Buckle On Your Armor

"Buckle on your armor and advance into battle! Harness the horses, and prepare to mount them. Put on your helmets, sharpen your spears, and prepare your armor.”

Jeremiah 46:3-4 (NLT)

The word ‘prepare’ is used eight times throughout Jeremiah – a signal from God to get everything ready for the times ahead. For Jeremiah, this command was mostly for his troops. But it was also a signal to prepare their hearts and minds for battle.

As we get ready for the Imagine Campaign, God is asking us to prepare as well. I love what Paul says in Romans 6:13 (LB), “Give yourselves completely to God…so you can be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes.” The first step in our preparation is to cleanse ourselves of sin and become an open vessel to be used by God for His purpose. We do this through confession; an honest conversation with God. And in return His promise is forgiveness and grace.

I challenge all of us to begin the cleansing process this week. Open up a conversation with God and confess your sin. If we do this, God will use us in ways we can only imagine. God can do anything you know! Let’s buckle on our armor, put on our helmets and prepare for an incredible experience with God!

[via Life Force Newsletter]

3 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Stephen Emlund

Stephen Emlund called me last night to talk about some of the print projects we have been working on. Steve has been designing all of our print materials for the upcoming Imagine Campaign. I have to tell you that I am very impressed with this guy. He is creative, works hard and of course puts up with the 500 revisions we do to every single document. You can check out more of his work here and his Facebook page here.

We only talked on the phone for about 10 minutes, but by the end of the conversation, I learned three things about Steve that I did not know. I thought I would share these with you today:

  • Steve lived in Lansing, Illinois until the third grade.
  • The first place Steve lived in Missouri was a trailer in Park Hills.
  • Steve's mom had a horse named "Buck." (Sadly, he died)

Thanks to Steve for all of his work, and look for samples coming soon!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

He's BAAAAACCCCCKKKK!!!

Okay. So, it's been like 8 days since I've posted. I think that's a new record! It took about five days to fully recover from strep throat and then of course the big "yard sale" last weekend and before you know it - BAM! It's Wednesday!

But...I'm back and ready to write, so jump right in, feel free to comment and let's get some discussions going - it's been too quiet around here!

PS By the way - my favorite pic from the yard sale: we had several movies for sale - so many in fact, that this guy brought a chair out from the back of his truck, plopped it down and sat for nearly an hour reading the back of every video! Now that's dedication!