For those of you who missed out on our Refuel service at Journey this Wednesday night, I feel sorry for you. Yes, it was that good. I mean, Refuel is always great, but I have to agree with Pastor Jimmy, this was my favorite Refuel ever.
Crouthamel got to baptize his neighbor. We baptized our first person from the Grande campus. And the major highlight for me was getting to have one of my heroes, Godfrey Wanamitsa, as the special guest speaker. He did an amazing job. Godfrey is the director of Arise Africa International a national organization in Uganda, Africa that is setting their country on fire for Jesus. What was amazing was that Godfrey brought a word of encouragement about how to press on and follow Jesus in a struggling economy. Talk about putting things in perspective. Regardless of how bad our economy is struggling, we are all rich compared to the way he and most everyone else lives in Uganda. And he wanted to bring a word of encouragement to us. The Holy Spirit delivered his words with power and conviction. It was an awesome night.
On top of all of that, the church committed to giving Arise Africa $15,000 to complete phase 1 of the orphanage they are building which will house 50 orphans. And 26 people signed up to support an orphan. So not only do they now have the funds to complete the orphanage, they now have enough people to support every orphan that will be housed in phase 1. God is so good. You can learn more about the orphanage project at iloveorphans.com
This past August, I had the privilege of leading a team to Uganda to work with their ministry. Check the highlight video below.
You can also find these videos on Jimmy's blog, but I promised I would post them so I will continue to do so. Sorry this is so late in coming. I couldn't get it uploaded to vimeo until Wednesday and I was out all day yesterday. So for those of you who have been anxiously awaiting. Here is Part 2.
By the way. If you are going to be in the Northwest Raleigh area on Sunday you should stop by our campus at the Raleigh Grande. Seeing these videos on that huge movie screen adds a whole new element. You can go and catch the grand finale. Check out takeajourney.org for location and times.
This morning in my prayer time, I found myself confessing things that I have confessed many times before. I hate it when that happens. It makes me feel like and an idiot. Even worse, it makes me feel like I'm taking advantage of my savior's sacrifice.
So this morning I felt like Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive someone: "Seven times?" Jesus replied that he must forgive not seven times but seventy times seven. Of course we all know that Jesus didn't literally mean 490 times, but he meant as much as it takes. My question to Jesus was similar but different. I asked him "Lord, how many times will you forgive me?" Immediately after the words left my mouth, I remembered this passage of Scripture and expected that God was giving my answer. And so I asked "seventy times seven?" But it was in that moment that my Lord spoke clearly and unmistakably shattering my preconceived answers. The conversation went something like this:
How many times, Lord? Seventy times seven?
No, my son.
Only once?! How can that be?
Once is all that is needed. When I was on the cross, I forgave you of all your sins. Past. Present. And future. A number of years ago, when you entered into relationship with me that forgiveness was appropriated once and for all. Once is enough. I am not a man that I should revoke my forgiveness. I know the sins that you have not yet committed, and they are already forgiven. Once is sufficient. My forgiveness is ultimate and infinite. The breadth of my forgiveness cannot be spanned. The depth of my forgiveness cannot be plumbed. Your confession and repentance is all that is needed. In your confession you agree with me by your words. In your repentance you agree with me by your actions. When you sin, it's not about that sin in particular. I'm not keeping a list of the good and bad things that you do. It's about our relationship. It's always been about relationship from the very beginning. When you sin and come back to me, it's not about appropriating forgiveness. It has already been appropriated. It's about removing the things that hinder our relationship. If you think that you are justified in your sin and cannot admit that I am right and you are wrong our relationship has been hindered. By virtue of turning to sin, you turn away from me. So until you repent of your sin and turn back toward me, there can be no restoration of our relationship. And until you can admit that you are wrong, you cannot turn back. There is no restoration without repentance, and there is no true repentance until there is confession. But please don't mistake this for forgiveness. I forgave you 2000 years ago when your sin placed me on that cross. And there is nothing that you can do to cause me to revoke my forgiveness. So rest, my son. Rest in me. Rest in my unfailing unchanging faithfulness toward you.
So today, may you rest in his forgiveness. Rest in his unfailing unchanging faithfulness toward you. I know I am.
Alex Harding is a good friend of mine and he is also going to be the director of our Middle School ministry at our new campus. We are excited to being this new phase of our ministry. Basically, since we are one church in two locations (and eventually one church in many locations) the idea is to reproduce the same experience at each location. It's going to be awesome.
So today, Alex and I met at 8am to hang out and put some finishing touches on preparing for the launch. We had to pick up a few things that are necessities for ministry. The question is where does one go to find such items as: board games, card games, tables, chairs, rubber balls, footballs, drop cords, power strips, rubbermaid containers, and stereo systems? Why, Wal-Mart of course.
Now, I'm going to let you in on a secret. I HATE Wal-Mart. I'm pretty sure that Hell will look something like your local Wal-Mart. You pick out all your junk. You head back to the front. There are 200 check out lines. Only one is open. And it has 200 people waiting in line who all have 200 items, and all are paying with coins and/or checks!
So how does one keep a good attitude in Hell… I mean Wal-Mart? Have fun with it, of course! So without further adieu, here is this week's Cell Phone Fun. Alex and I shopping in Wal-Mart.
As a staff, we have been spiritually gearing up for our current series. We are talking a lot about spiritual warfare, and we knew that Satan and his minions would "up" their attacks on us during this series. In fact we have already been seeing a lot of that. This coming weekend, Jimmy will be preaching about the fight with our enemy and next weekend about the fight with our flesh.
Personally, one of the things I've noticed over the past three days is that one of the ways the Enemy has attacked is to stir up my flesh. Thankfully, the Lord has empowered me resist those attacks. One thing that has helped is another great prayer from Thomas a'Kempis. So, I thought I would share that today. This is a great prayer when dealing with issues of temptation and the flesh.
I will confess my weakness to you, O Lord.
Often just a small matter will make me sad and troubled.
I resolve to act with courage, but when a small temptation comes I am immediately in great distress. Sometimes it is a trifling thing that causes great temptation.
And when I think I am reasonably safe and least expect it, I sometimes find myself almost entirely overcome by the slightest stirring.
Look, therefore, O Lord, at my low condition and my frailty that you know in every way.
Have mercy on me and deliver me out of the mire so I will not be embedded there and be utterly discouraged forever.
Because I am so subject to failing and weak in resisting my passions, I am often driving backwards and shamed before you.
I do not fully consent to them, and their continual assaults are troublesome and grievous to me, and it tires me extremely to live in such a daily conflict.
By this my weakness is shown to me–hateful imaginations always rush into my mind much more easily than they leave it.
Most mighty God of Israel, zealous lover of faithful souls! Oh, that you would consider the labor and sorrow of your servant and assist me in whatever I undertake.
Strengthen me with heavenly courage lest the old man, the miserable flesh that is not yet fully subject to the spirit, prevail and get the upper hand–it is a battle I must fight so long as I draw breath in this difficult life.
Our current series at Journey is "The Fight of My Life." The series is about the battles that we fight as believers: the battle with our minds, the battle with our enemy, and the battle with flesh. Content wise, this is actually a very heavy series.
One of the things that we try to do as a creative team is be aware of series or messages that are going to be very heavy, and plan accordingly. Usually we will do something humorous that actually has no point to it beyond helping break up the heaviness in the room.
That's what we did with this series. We created several episodes of "The Fight of My Life" that do not try to make a point of application. But don't confuse that with thinking that they have no spiritually redeeming value. They are actually very important. When a message or series is very heavy and full of content, people are not able to receive and process everything, and many are even resistant. Laughter has a way breaking down walls and softening hearts. When preparing a message, a good communicator knows where he needs some seemingly "pointless" humor to give his audience's hearts and minds some rest and time to process. Videos like these can be just as important as any other aspect of the sermon.
I'll post these each week after the weekend services. Enjoy!
This was my Saturday afternoon.
If you are a parent of young kids you know how difficult car rides
can be, especially when it's past the kids' bedtime. Last night we went
to an engagement party for Matt Scott and Stacy Morin (By the way, the
Morin's really know how to throw a party! Thanks for a great time
guys!). The drive home was about 30 minutes, and it was getting late.
To top things off, Kelly had to stop at the grocery store to pick up a
few things. Sitting in the car, on a rainy night, when it's getting
late, with two cranky girls who have been loaded with sugar and junk
food, what was a dad to do?
Why, improvise of course! It's
amazing how many times my smart phone has saved me in such instances.
I've included one of many clips from our layover in the Lowe's Foods
O most merciful Jesus, grant me your grace, that it may be with me and work with me, and continue with me even to the end.
Grant that I may always desire and will that which is most acceptable and pleasing to you.
Let your will be mine, and let my will follow yours and agree perfectly with it.
Let my willingness or unwillingness be all one with you, and let me not be able to will or not will anything but what you will or not will.
Grant that I may die to all things that are in the world, and for your sake love to be despised and not known in this world.
Grant that above all things I may rest in you, and in you have my heart at peace.
You are the true peace of the heart and its only rest — outside of you all things are hard and restless. In this very peace — that is, in you the highest eternal good — I will sleep and rest.
Oh Lord, you know what is best for me, therfore, let this be done as you will.
Give what you will, how much you will, and when you will.
Deal with me as you think good, as best pleases you, and is most for your honor.
Put me where you will and deal with me in all things as you will.
I am in your hand, turn me around and back again, whichever way you please.
Behold, I am your servant and I am prepared for all things, for I do not desire to live for myself but for you — and oh that I could do it worthily and perfectly!