"Free" Internet...

I spent the afternoon at a youth camp meeting with my friend Tom Cottar and his Youth Ministry associate Stephanie. We met at this pretty cool coffeehouse in Austin called Flipnotics. They advertise great coffee, a chill atmosphere, and "free" wifi. Personally, I prefer Starbucks on most days to other places...But the lure of free wifi has me broadening my horizons.

But here is the thing with the free wifi at Flipnotics. While it is free, there are so many stinking obstacles to get it. This is the third or fourth place recently where the "free wifi" has taken me a half hour to get to. First, I had to pick a username. Next, I needed a password. Oops - Go back and confirm the password. Now I have to agree to the terms and conditions of the LessNetwork and finally I can sign in...for 10 minutes. Then I have to confirm my email, logout and log back in before I can continue. Why all the obstacles, Flipnotics?

And that experience got me thinking. How many times do we do this with the gospel in our churches? How many obstacles have we put in the way of people coming to Christ?

The last couple weeks I've got to preach twice at our church. Both times were the simple, plain message of Jesus and the cross. Our target audience were those who have not yet began to follow Jesus. And as I prepared and tried to teach in a creative, engaging, relevant way I began to ask myself that question: What obstacles have we put in the way of people coming to Christ?

Jesus makes the way simple and plain. He did all the work on the cross. The Bible says that God only asks us to believe. He made the way simple because he knew the world would provide enough obstacles along the path. The church shouldn't be placing obstacles on the path too.

So here are a few questions to help us as we seek to remove obstacles that might hinder someone from taking that initial step to follow Christ in our church services:
  • Are we teaching and communicating the message of Jesus in a language that is easy to understand? (Most unchurched people don't use words like salvation and repentance in everyday language...)
  • Are we using the best methods and tools to communicate the message of Christ? Our world is a techonlogical one . We should use every tool and method we can to teach people who learn in a variety of ways. (When was the last time you went and listend to someone give a speech for 30+ minutes, except at a church?)
  • Are we offering our BEST every week? Is it our best effort, our best energy, etc?
  • Have we taken into consideration every aspect of a visitor's experience? What are we communicating from the moment the pull into the parking lot until they walk back to their car after the service?
  • Do our people MODEL the love of Jesus? It does us no good to teach about a loving God if our church is not full of loving people who model that to others.
  • Have we planned for Christ to change lives? Have our churches put significant planning into each service? Have we given proper time to the explanation of the gospel? Have we given proper time to invite people to respond?
  • Have we created an atmosphere where our people feel comfortable bringing their unchurch friends and neighbors? The best tool to aid our members in sharing their faith and in seeing their friends come to know Christ is to give them the confidence and assurance that EVERY week will be a top-notch experience for their guests.

I've got some more thoughts on this later, but I'll save them for another post.



Tomorrow I get to preach in our church-wide worship services for the second time this month. I am EXCITED about sharing the love of Christ that can transform lives with all of our people and not just our students...Don't get me wrong. I LOVE our students and teaching them on a weekly basis. But preaching to the entire church gets me pumped up these days. I am preaching twice again next month at FLBC. I also get the cool opportunity to preach at a friend's church in Bridge City on May 4th. The church is Commonground Community Church and it is rockin'...If you're in the Bridge City area you should definitely check it out. I had the privilege to speak at Commonground a couple times last year and Johanna and I loved it. Great people who really want to impact their community and world with the love of Jesus in REAL, PRACTICAL ways.

All that to say this: I would love your prayers. Actually, I covet them. I understand what an incredible privilege and responsibility it is to teach God's word to people. And I know that when people pray for me it raises my teaching to a level that only God can take it to through the prayers of others. Thanks in advance for all the prayers!


MTV, Say It Ain't So!

Last night was the series finale of Rob and Big on MTV. After only 3 seasons they are calling it quits. Big Black became a father and moved out in order to move on with life...

If you remember, I rated this as the Top TV Show in my 2007 Year in Review. It was my absolute favorite and MTV ends it...MTV say it ain't so! I was just hoping it was a late April fool's joke during the whole episode last night, but it looks like the best show (with the best theme song) on TV is finished. I have this sick feeling in my gut that is reminiscient to when I found out that Cheers was going off the air...


Facing Our Fear(s)...

On Friday afternoon I listened to a guy tell a story about his son. He said that the family had recently been to the fair and his 6 year old son was to scared to ride the ferris wheel. That might be normal for a lot of kids. But here's what makes this situation odd...The kid had been on the ferris wheel before. As a 3 year old he rode it with his dad and loved it. But now he is afraid.

That got me to thinking about our fears. And I've come to this conclusion (as of now): Most of our fears are learned fears. We tell our children not to touch a hot iron because it is hot and it will hurt them. They become afraid of the iron. Thus, it's a learned fear. And this is not a bad thing because we don't want them to get burned...But how many of our learned fears are bad? How many of our fears that we've learned from others and from experience in life keep us from being who God wants us to be? How much of the fear in our lives that keeps us from following God full fledged is instilled in us through learning?

Over the past few days, I have been trying to examine my own life and see how many of my fears are learned. I think that far too many times people fail to follow God and take giant steps of faith because of fear...And unfortunately many of those fears are learned.

What about you? What do you think? Are there some learned fears that are keeping you from jumping on the ferris wheel of life and going on an incredible ride with your Father? If so, what are you going to do to unlearn those fears?


Lessons from Barbecue...

Okay...maybe this lesson wasn't from the barbecue itself, but rather the management of the restaurant. Either way I had a huge lesson reinforced this week by a good friend.

My friend Steve runs Black's Barbecue in Lockhart. He has done an oustanding job running the place, which offers some great food. Blacks also happens to be the oldest barbecue restaurant in the state of Texas.

Earlier this week I had lunch with Steve and he told me he was closing early that day. When I asked why he explained that he was closing at 5:00 to take his staff to a movie. Stop-Loss came out this week and a big portion of the film was shot in Lockhart, in the street in front of Blacks. To show his appreciation to his staff, Steve decided to shut down early and take them all to see the movie - snacks, popcorn, and sodas included.

Steve's idea for his staff reinforced a lesson for me. You can never over-invest or over-appreciate a good staff...If you have people who work for you, especially volunteers in ministry (which is the case for me), they ought to be continually encouraged and shown how much they are appreciated.

When people feel appreciated they will show more effort, sacrifice more, and realize they are a big part of the team. I try to make it a priority to tell my team that I appreciate what they do to serve and lead in our ministry. I also try to do tangible things to show them. It doesn't always have to be something big...The little things sometimes mean the most.

Who on your "team" needs to know how valuable they are? Who invests in your ministry or job that needs to know how much you appreciate them? Let them know they are a valuable part of the team and watch their effort and investment soar!


The Weekend (and week long) Update...

So it's been a week since my last blog. Last week and weekend were super busy. Just to catch you up to speed I'll hit the highlights.

  • I preached last Sunday morning. I absolutely love to teach the Word so it's always a blast. But it means a lot more work so I had a really busy week.
  • I got to baptize 5 students on Sunday! It was great. Over the last 6 weeks or so we've seen over 15 students come to Christ in our Student Ministry...It is AWESOME (in every sense of the word) to watch God work!
  • Spent the weekend painting. Myself and a couple guys in our student ministry are painting a house for a couple in our church. I paint every know and then as a sort of side job, so making some extra money never hurts.
  • Speaking of extra money, all of it, plus some more will go to my uncle next week...Uncle Sam that is...UGH!
  • Johanna spent the weekend at a Mother/Daughter retreat with her mom, sisters, and nieces. From what I've heard she had a great time.
  • Johanna came back in time to sing at church on Sunday. Her, Meredith, and Michael sang a great acoustic version of Barlow Girl's I Want You To Love Me.
  • I've had forgiveness on the mind - We are talking about that in our series The Rock Cries Out tomorrow at our midweek student gathering. Our band is covering the song Sorry by Buckcherry...That will be cool.
  • Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? Or maybe some bitterness you need to let go of because someone has wronged you? Don't let bitterness build a barrier between you and God!
  • Watched Hell's Kitchen earlier...I think I would have a blast hanging with Gordon Ramsay for a day!
  • I'm out!


Disciple Now Recap...

Here, as promised earlier, is my recap of this past weekend's Disciple Now. It was a fantastic weekend for our student ministry. God is good and he showed that yet again this weekend...

Here are the highlights...
  • David making the commitment to give his life to Jesus and follow Him! David YOU ROCK bro! I am praying for you. (Pray for David. His family is Buddhist and he has made the decision to follow Jesus with his life!)
  • Saturday Night Worship Service - For the past two weeks we could sense God moving in our ministry...It's hard to explain, but we could just feel it. Saturday night was a culmination of the Spirit of God working in students' lives for weeks now...It was awesome to see God move in the lives of students.
  • We have one of the most talented student worship leaders on the planet (and a fantastic band as well). It was great to hear what he shared with his group on Saturday night. "I know that I am called to use my music and talent to change peoples' lives for Christ." (That's a paraphrase, but close...)
  • Our youth worker team going all out to show students the love of Christ. I am proud to work alongside you guys as we storm the gates of hell together!
  • Mark McConkey (check him out here) rocked the worship all weekend long!
  • Scott Venable (here) did an amazing job teaching the Word.
  • Spending the weekend with our Group Leaders. Our team is made up of some of my closest friends on this rock called earth. Most of our group leaders were people who I've done life with for a long time. We've been on the mountaintops and in the valleys...And I suspect (or maybe I even know) that we'll be doing life together for a lot longer too...
  • Overall, it was a great weekend in which God moved and did only what God can do...transform lives!