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Archive for October, 2006

Trunk-a- treat, smell my feet…

Well, just got home from the biggest outreach event we do all year – our "Trunk-a-Treat / Fall Festival". I have no idea (yet) how many people were with us (i’ll guess and say a couple of thousand were on campus). We had candy, various inflatibles and used Group Publishing’s "Heroes Unmasked" game/outreach kit and everything was an outstanding success. Hyde Park volunteers, as usual, made the difference from an event being just OK and making our campus have a welcome feeling all-around – way to go ladies and guys!

So, why make such a big fuss over a secular holiday that most churches call "the devils holiday" – are we giving into the world by compromising what we believe?

Let me answer with a question: If we boycott this day will our community still go "Trick-or-Treating"? Well, of course they will. So rather than put our heads in the sand and play "ostrich Christianity" (as most churches do, by the way) we leverage their desire to do something on October 31st – AND WE THROW THE BIGGEST, BESTEST (gimme a break, it rhymes!), SAFEST PARTY IN TOWN! And in turn, they come in droves!

All this without one dime spent in advertising – no flyers, newspaper, banners, nothing; the people come because this party has a reputation for being great.

So, why make such a big fuss over a secular holiday that most churches call "the devils holiday"? Because someone who lives far from God who was on our campus tonight with their children will hit a point of crisis in their life and realize their need to connect with God. As they seek him they very well might think "you know, Hyde Park was always so kind to us when we went to their Halloween Party – I think i’m going there Sunday – i’ve gotta get my life on track!" and that’s where we come in, ready to help people connect with the God Who loves them with an everlasting love.

Why make such a big fuss over October 31st? We aren’t – we’re making a big fuss over people who have souls which deserve to be "made over". I say we find more ways to intrigue, bless and make over people because: The Bottom Line is PEOPLE DESPERATELY NEED JESUS!

What a Day!!!

WOW!! What a day we had today…

I am always so encouraged when our congregation "breaks out" of complacency and finds itself in the midst of true worship. When God ministers through His church to meet spiritual needs in a persons life and it is absolutely evident in that person it just fills me full of awe and wonder – that the God of the Universe, the One who placed the stars in the sky would care enough to minister to me (or someone in the house) during a period of need.

The music today was powerful. 8:30 was on fire (and that ain’t always an easy "fire" to light!) – by the way, God lit that fire, i take no credit. We were reminded, together, of how much we need our God; we need Him to show us His way and His plan. We need His presence, His love and especially His mercy to treat others with the love that He shows to us.\

At 11am, I led worship in the Kidz Place Coliseum and when I finished I ran (for real, I ran the whole way) back to the main auditorium to stand in the back and see worship from a "backrow" perspective. Rhonda Lovin was the worship leader and all I can say is: God’s annointing! That woman left everybit of her worship on that stage this morning. Rhonda has had a tough couple of weeks and as she reminded the congregation that although "all was not well with my circumstance, IT WAS WELL WITH MY SOUL!" many in the congregation openly wept and thanked God for His presence. All I can say in closing about all that is that I am so proud of the great job that Rhonda, the Worship Team, Band and Worship Choir did this morning – YOU BROUGHT IT!

When i look out over the crowd and see flawed people (like myself) who need God every hour of every moment of every day of their life; i see these people who just need to experience God in His awesome presence being touched by Him in such a tangible way…

As I said a few weeks ago, i’m never surprised but i’m always amazed.

When i walk through the buildings and see people loving on others. I see people of many races having meaningful conversations, "doing life together", it makes me say, "it can’t get much better than this"…

But it can.

There are countless people who don’t know God like this – don’t know the encouragement of being a part of a congregation that is FULL OF LIFE, a congregation excited not only to worship their God but to be His hands and feet to our world…

These people are not faceless individuals – they’re your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, neighbors & co-workers. For some of you it’s your parents. They need to experience God’s love and the only way that they may see it is through you!!

Hyde Park – let’s continue to do what we do! As my main man, Charles Babson continually encourages his small group, "let’s quit just going to church – let’s BE the church!"

What Tony Morgan learned from Disney World

This is going to be short and sweet.

How pumped am I that YOU are reaching people, walking across the room all at the expense of making yourselves extremely uncomfortable in the process? Let me tell you that your stories are the stuff that keeps me rockin’ for Jesus.

I just read a short blog about Tony Morgans’ trip to Disney World that you have to read. (HERE) This stuff applies so much to the church – take a moment and see why we must be excellent at everything we do.

I hope you have an awesome day, living WholeHeartedly for Jesus!

Stories

Do you like stories? I don’t mean like the ones I catch my kids telling sometimes, I’m talking about peoples stories – the ones that show you how our amazing God is working in and around them to draw them closer to Him.

I LOVE stories.

Have you heard the one about the family that attended our church (HPBC) for the first time recently and on their way home after the first service the little boy said to his Dad, "That’s my church, daddy!"

How about this one: a couple moved here from another state and were afraid they would never find a fellowship in Lumberton like the one that they deeply loved in their previous town. They moved to town and attended a place that wasn’t what they were looking for but honestly thought that it was as close as they could get to their home church. Then one Sunday the wife checked out (HPBC) and WHAM! "I never thought we’d find a home like this away from home" (that’s not an exact quote – that’s basically what I remember…)

Did I tell you that I LOVE people’s stories?

Have you heard the one about the young lady who attended her first time with a friend on Easter Sunday? She was from out of town but recently relocated to Lumberton. She attended alone probably because she didn’t know many people but had liked the church when she attended – why not go again? She attended for a few weeks and noticed that the worship and teaching affected her spiritually in ways she had never experienced. After attending 3 weeks she went and purchased a Bible – all of a sudden there was a desire to learn more about God and (HPBC) is all about the bible. On the 4th Sunday she attended she spoke with me after the service because she had questions about her beliefs – the differences of what she previously understood about God and what we consistently taught. I explained that we are saved by grace through faith and that it’s all in God’s hands – God does the saving; it’s our job to turn from our lifestyle and sin and trust in Him. I could tell God was working in her and said, "Isn’t this unbelievable, that the God of heaven cares so much for you?"  As the building emptied out tears welled up in her eyes; She showed me her bible and said "this is the first time i’ve brought my bible to church…" and we both found ourselves crying, amazed at God’s presence. She prayed to receive Jesus, inviting Him to forgive her of her sins and to lead her in this life.

I really love those kind of stories. Don’t you?

I love the ones that I hear about the family who brought their mom this past weekend. Mom comes from a faith known for freedom of worship. As she left she asked her daughter, "are you sure this is a Baptist church?" to which her daughter replied, "that’s what it says on the sign, momma." Mom said, "i’ve been to a lot of great churches in my life, but i’ve never experienced such freedom to worship!"

The greatest story is the one that you’ve personally experienced, the one that brought you to the place of belief. The greatest part of that story is what God has done since you trusted him, NOT, all the bad stuff you did before you knew Him. Learn to tell your story – tell it WELL, tell it consistently and tell it briefly. As we learned this weekend tell it so they’ll ask questions and can be inquisitive and involved. I bet you haven’t thought about it like this but God has given you an incredible evangelistic tool; it’s not FAITH, EE, SHARE JESUS WITHOUT FEAR, THE BRIDGE (Although all of those methods are great!).Your greatest evangelistic tool is your story.

This feature is not about a church, it’s about an awesome God; a God who is at work in many, many lives that are associated with a particular church. All of the above stories are a result of many people telling their story, inviting people to a place that they can meet the God who loves them so. I could go on and on with stories just like those i’ve written – I only chose a few to illustrate the importance of all of us being willing to be used by God (which is a priviledge, not a burden). Those of you reading from Hyde Park, thank you for all you do, for your obedience to serve, invite, bless and most importantly – pray. It’s you that God calls His church, not the building we meet in. You guys make it possible for people to find the God that they so desperately need.

What’s your story? Are you telling it? Everybody loves stories so tell them one…

I’m not surprised but i’m always amazed

Last week I received some disturbing news about a good friend, someone who I love very much. This person had made a very destructive choice about the direction of their life. Since the moment that I was made aware that something may be wrong, I found myself deeply distressed, praying ferverently that God would deliver this person from the place that they allowed themself to wander into. This morning I got some wonderful news; that things had taken a turn for the better – prayers were being answered, positive choices were being made and it just made me want to praise God even more for answering prayer in such specific ways. (not to mention timely in this case)

I’m not surprised but I am always amazed.

The church that I serve is great; God is moving, lives are being changed and as a result the devil is at work. I’m reminded that our adversary the devil’s desire is to “steal, kill and destroy” and he is hard at work doing all he can to destroy the lives of people involved in this great work. This can be challenging, even discouraging except…

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4 The Message)

God uses our struggles to see “what we’re made of” – as it says, when we’re “under pressure (like in a serious situation) our faith-life is FORCED into the open and shows its true colors.” I love the way that reads! God allows this junk to grow us into a usable condition for even bigger struggles. Wait a second – I didn’t sign up for this… however, I want to serve Him with all of my heart in any matter necessary. Isn’t it interesting that he’ll sometimes turn our world upside down just to make us stronger when we’re right side up?

I’m not surprised but I am always amazed.

I’m not surprised that peoples’ faith is being challenged because WE’RE DANGEROUS! Sold-out Jesus-Freak people are so crazy (in a cool way); the way that they look at life through a different set of lenses (I call them “God-tinted”) The message that has been placed within us is absolutely transforming – it carries within it the transforming power of Almighty God, the great change agent. Our God that intimately cares for us so much that He decided to die a horrible death in this mortal world in order to take up residence inside of every single person that had the faith to ask Him to come in. People get hold of this and their life takes on a whole new dimension. I am dangerous! You are dangerous! As we work together others finally “get it!”; they “get” the fact that God really do want them to know Him…

People desperately need Jesus! Do you really believe this in the core of your soul? If you do, it will change the way you live your life.

I am currently praying for a great number of people right now – Christians, sinners, pastors, churches; Business men, moms, teachers and waitresses. Drummers, singers, people with dependency issues and people with confusion about their lifestyles. Real people – and I believe that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM will be delivered from themselves and will turn to the single answer to their greatest problems, Jesus Christ. (As a matter of fact, a prayer meeting "broke out" at the end of choir rehearsal  about these very things – powerful – and I believe that every prayer offered will be powerfully answered in an extremely tangible way.)

I know this will happen and I won’t be surprised, but I’ll always be amazed!