Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Religion in Atlanta GA’

A is for Average

October 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Red rotary phone

What are you “phoning in?”

Last week I was reading an article that really got me thinking. The article was entitled “This Is the Average Man’s Body” and it talked about how the average male who lives in the United States has a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) , waist size, and as a whole is considered more obese than the average male from any other country. The part that caught my attention was the word average. What exactly is “average?” If you were to look it up in the dictionary, you might find something like “typical, common, or ordinary.”

We all knew someone in school who barely did enough to get by what was required of him or her. It really hit me hard when I thought that many times in life, that “someone” has been me. Colossians 3:23 (The Message) says “And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best.” The NIV version translates the same verse this way – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” I always took the NIV version to literally mean work or my job. The more I reflected on the verse, the more I realized it was applicable to everything in my life. When it comes to my friendships/relationships am I just phoning it in? Am I doing the bare minimum as a leader? How about my health and taking care of myself? When I take inventory of my life, I can honestly say that I never want to find myself being average.

In what area(s) of your life have you found yourself being “average” lately?

Photo Credit: By Nate Steiner

Advertisements

Migraines and Sin

Both migraines and sin are evil.

Migraines and sin have several similarities.

Recently I have had the misfortune of dealing with migraines. The positive thing is that I found out what was causing said migraines (a tooth issue) and have had it fixed, which has resulted in relief. In dealing with the migraines, God has used them to reveal to me how much they are like sin in our lives. It may sound silly at first, but please hear me out as it will make sense when I am finished.

When you have a migraine, you don’t want to be exposed to light. When we deal with sin in our lives we honestly don’t want to be exposed to light either. We take the “what people don’t know won’t hurt them” approach and try to keep our sin hidden from others, but no matter how hard we try that sin will eventually be brought into the light for all to see in some form or fashion.

You don’t like being told what to do when you have a migraine. The last thing you want is someone trying to tell you how to “fix” your migraine issue. Sin is the same in that we don’t want people telling us what we should be doing to “fix” our sin problem. We would rather just attempt to do things on our own, but we all know how that ends. Migraines cause us to become isolated from others – you just want to be alone and not be bothered. Sin isolates us from the people who love us the most…our friends and family. We seclude ourselves from others because we don’t want to be judged or just don’t want to face others due to the shame we feel as a result of our sin.

Both migraines and sin involve pain of some kind – with migraines the pain is almost always immediate and lingers, but with sin pain doesn’t always happen instantaneously…it can take some time before you feel the painful consequences of sin. There are also after effects with both – a migraine may make you may feel weak, fatigued, sick, or exhausted afterwards and sin may do the very same thing. Both migraines and sin can feel paralyzing, in that once you’re dealing with them you feel constricted and can’t move.

I’ve often found myself bargaining with God when dealing with either a migraine or sin. “God, if you make this migraine go away, then I’ll <fill in the blank>!” These negotiations are based on things which we never plan on following through – “God, if you get me out of this situation I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life, I’ll tithe, and I’ll never do this again!” God can easily see through our child-like pleas and knows what it will take to bring us back around to Him and sometimes it takes us suffering the consequences of our actions.

Migraines can happen to anyone…no one is immune. The same is true of sin – the only one who was sinless was Jesus Christ. Romans 8:23 states it clearly – “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The thing is, just because we are prone to sin doesn’t mean we have an excuse to sin. What we do with this sin us completely up to us. Will you let it consume you and rule your life? Will you ask for God’s forgiveness, turn from it, and use it as a learning experience?

What is another illustration you’ve heard comparing sin to something else?

Photo Credit: By Ben Photog

Saying Goodbye to the Original Ragamuffin

April 14, 2013 1 comment
Meeting Brennan Manning.

Meeting Brennan Manning.

September of 2008, I had the awesome opportunity to meet Brennan Manning. He was speaking at the NPCC Single’s Labor Day Retreat. Mr. Manning was a very meek individual who truly loved God. If you had seen him, he looked like any other senior adult who could have been someone’s grandfather. He shared with us his testimony – a story of alcoholism, being a priest, homelessness, and hitting rock bottom.

What I loved so much about Mr. Manning was after he spoke, we were given the opportunity to meet him. I asked him if I could have my picture taken with him and his response was “Why would you want your picture taken with me? I’m no one special. God is the one who did it all through me.” I was floored by his humbleness and in talking with him further, I knew that God had truly used this man to further His kingdom. He also signed my copy of The Ragamuffin Gospel with simply “In Abba’s Embrace – Brennan.”

As someone who loves to write, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet two of the authors who have had a huge impact on my life (Brennan Manning and Donald Miller) and both interactions left me loving these two authors even more than I did prior to the encounters. I was saddened to hear that Brennan Manning passed away last week. In memory of Mr. Manning, I wanted to share a few quotes from The Ragamuffin Gospel that really blessed me.

“The Kingdom is not an exclusive, well-trimmed suburb with snobbish rules about who can live there. No, it is for a larger, homelier, less self-conscious cast of people who understand they are sinners because they experienced the yaw and pitch of moral struggle.”

“God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.”

“Over the years I’ve seen Christians shaping God in their own image — in each case a dreadfully small God.”

“The danger with our good works, spiritual investments, and all the rest of it is that we can construct a picture of ourselves in which we situate our self-worth. Complacency in ourselves then replaces sheer delight in God’s unconditional love. Our doing becomes the very undoing of the ragamuffin gospel.”

Surrender and Love Go Hand-In-Hand

February 24, 2013 1 comment
surrender-to-love

How do surrender and love work together?

We often hear the word love used in many different contexts. “I love hamburgers!” “I love the color blue!” “I love my family!”  “I love my church!” What is the true definition of love and how does surrender come into play with this definition? Upon the recommendation of a friend/mentor, I read the book Surrender to Love by David G. Benner. When I started this book, I honestly didn’t know what to expect as I had never heard of the author.

The book is a trilogy of sorts (the second book being The Gift of Being Yourself and the third book being Desiring God’s Will). In Surrender to Love, Benner discusses the concept of Godly love and how the ultimate surrender (the death of Jesus Christ, God’s only son) provides this love for us. We have a tendency to believe that God loves us based on our merits…if we do well then God loves us more…if we don’t do well morally then God doesn’t love us as much. This concept has caused many a people to fear God in an unhealthy way. God loves us regardless of what we do. He may be disappointed in us, but that doesn’t mean He loves us any less.

I walked away from reading this book with a better sense of what true love means and that you must have some sort of surrender in order to have that true love, or it isn’t really true love. This book was an easy read and I had no problem understanding the terminology and illustrations the author used. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the concept of love and/or surrender.

Here are a few takeaways that I had from the book:

  • “Love is God’s character, not simply an emotion.”
  • “The Christian God doesn’t turn away from sinners in disgust but moves toward us, bringing us His redemptive presence.”
  • “The story of Jesus is the story of love personified.”
  • “Most of us who call ourselves Christians do so on the basis of belief more than experience.” – A. W. Tozer
  • “God isn’t simply the projection of our own image on the cosmos.”
  • “He (God) created us and knows us intimately…He knows how we respond to anything that threatens our need for control.”

Photo Credit: By Amazon.com

His Timing, Not Mine

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment
Wrist Watch

HIS timing is perfect!

Music is an integral part of my life. I listen to just about any and every kind of music (although I just can’t get into country or southern gospel). Certain songs have had more significance in my life during a specific season. At church, from time to time, we sing Always by Kristian Stanfill. We sang it again last night at Night of Worship and it really spoke to me in a new way.

Oh, my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always.

Up until recently, I was listening to the lyrics and thinking “God will not delay?! My God will come through always?! Yeah right! I don’t think so…He isn’t doing a thing in my situation.” I let my circumstances (being without a job for almost 16 months) determine my view of God’s movement (or lack there of in my mind). I couldn’t see who God truly was because I was blinded by what was going on around me.

Something happened on Wednesday of this week to change my view of the above lyrics. I had a job interview and later that day received (and accepted) a job offer. Thursday night when I went to Night of Worship, I focused intently on these lyrics and realized the error in my earlier mindset. I was using MY timeline to determine if God was delaying or coming through on HIS part. It felt like God was saying to me “You know…I was delaying until I thought you were ready. I wasn’t doing it to be mean or to hurt you in any way. Remember, I know what’s best for you!”

Watch the video below – may the lyrics of the song encourage you and help you remember God’s timing is perfect.

Photo Credit: By Blake Patterson

Conversations of a Life Unexpected

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment
life tiles

Life never goes as we plan.

I will be celebrating (okay, maybe “celebrating” isn’t quite the right word…more like “dreading” right now) a milestone birthday in less than six months. Last night I was talking with my roommate about all of these things that I had hoped to have accomplished or done by this upcoming birthday. We all have our “bucket list” of things we want to do by a certain age and my list was more out of feeling a sense of entitlement (like I deserved these things) – “Why am I not married by now?” or “Why do I not have a house of my own now?” These ideas brought more questions, but no answers.

Donald Miller’s blog Storyline has a great post by Jeff Goins on this very topic – “When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way You Expect” and I felt like it was written specifically to me. Goins compares our life to that of a story where we are an important character, but not the MAIN character. God is the MAIN character in our story. Things happen in our life that we don’t plan – job loss, death of a friend or family member, car problems…and the list continues. We get frustrated because more often than not, we have no control over these situations.

One thing we are quick to forget – when we are on the other side of our respective situations, we will be stronger and a better person because of them.

How has your life turned out differently than you planned?

Photo Credit: By Wes Peck

Londrina – It’s Been Amazing!

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment
Guys at Bus Station

Adam and I with the Brazilian guys.

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow (Friday) will be our last night in Londrina. The time has gone by so fast as it seems like we just got here. Tuesday night we helped them create an environment called Muvuka (our definition was “A relevant gathering for building community” but in Portuguese it means “a mob or large gathering”). This night was much like our Singles Gatherings at Buckhead/North Point Community Church, but it was geared more towards their culture.

Wednesday we had an amazing Brazilian BBQ (steak marinated all day and then cooked on the grill along with several traditional Brazilian side items) at the home of our Brazilian friend Ely and his family. On Wednesday, we also spent some time sight seeing in Londrina and were able to see a really cool Catholic church that is a big part of Londrina’s history. Tonight (Thursday) we ate dinner at a restaurant in the bus station (believe me, it was MUCH better than it sounds) and then we enjoyed fresh squeezed fruit juices while we talked for hours with several of our new Brazilian friends. Tomorrow (Friday) is a holiday in Brazil (their equivalent of our July 4th) and Capella is having a picnic and doing baptisms (around 15 people will be getting baptized – including our new friend Carlos).

We will be leaving Londrina at 11:00 PM Friday via bus headed to Iguazu Falls where we will arrive around 7:00 AM on Saturday morning. We will spend all of Saturday at the falls and then will begin our travels back to Atlanta. It’s been an AWESOME time seeing God at work in our Brazilian friends and their church…it will be very hard to leave them tomorrow evening, but we will be keeping in contact with them via e-mail and Facebook. We hate to leave Londrina, but we are exciting about getting back home to see our friends and family.

Please continue to keep our team in your prayers as we travel to Igauzu Falls and then back to Atlanta.

Other Posts From Our Trip

%d bloggers like this: