May 262007

A couple of days ago I was dropping some shirts off to be dry-cleaned.  I had a shirt stained by drops from a water-based maker and I brought it to the owner’s attention for cleaning.  He began to tell me that the spots were from bleach and there was no way to clean the shirt.  I explained to him that it was not bleach but it was a water-based marker and he would be able to clean if he gave it the proper attention.  We went back and forth a couple of times before I realized that we absolutely and completely spoke different languages and were not communicating at all. 

I was faced with a reality!  If I wanted to see my shirt become clean, I must overcome a language barrier!

The success of overcoming the language for the cleaning of my shirt is yet to be determined.

My heart’s desire is to communicate the message of love, hope and redemption that Jesus offers to people in our community.  I have come to realize that I often face a language barrier in communicating this beautiful message.  The culture we live in today is not the same culture that previous generations have known.  Language and understanding changes. 

The church and those communicating the gospel must realize and learn the language of the culture to effectively communicate the message of Jesus.  Our challenge is the same as any missionary sent to another culture that faces a language barrier.

What do we do?  We learn the language of the culture and translate the message into the language of the culture.  In some ways, translating the message into the language of our culture here in America is more difficult than someone traveling overseas.

I have become a student of culture and I am in the process of learning how to translate the gospel message of Jesus into the language of the culture we live in.  We are experiencing some incredible success while learning!  I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

 Posted by at 8:04 am
May 232007

School is almost out and we enter a nine week stretch of summer fun!

We have a few changes in store for Church at the Grove this summer.  Beginning June 3 we will have only one Sunday morning service at 10:30am for nine weeks.  Following that nine week stretch we believe we will go back to two services permanently with no turning back!  I personally believe that this fall will be the most explosive growth time in the short life of our church! 

Craig and I will host a Community Group for any and everyone wanting to connect with others over the summer.  We will plan it where you can simply drop in on any week you are in town and enjoy some Bible study and friendship.  It will be on Tuesday nights and it will alternate between the Butcher house and the Story house.  Look for info on our website, blogs and in our worship folder on Sundays. 

Summer is crazy!  The kids are out of school, people are taking vacations, and everyone scatters in a million different directions.  There are camps, practices, workouts and yardwork to be kept up with!

What can you do with your summer that will fulfill the mission that God has given to Church at the Grove?

Well, since you asked, I will be glad to tell you.  Spend time investing in relationships and friendships!  Spend time with people in your neighborhood.  Use the extra daylight in the evenings to take a walk and have a talk with people that might need a kind word or a touch of love in their life.  Get to know someone new or grow closer to someone you already know. 

I believe if we will spend time investing in relationships this summer, God will give you the opportunity to have tremendous influence with people going into the fall.  The fall is a tremendous time to invite people to come to Church at the Grove with you.  Life gets back to routine and things settle down and people will be open to an invitation to church. 

Here’s the question:  Are you available for God to use YOU?  God wants to work in us and through us to have an eternal impact on those around us!  We simply have to make ourselves available.

Have a PLAN for your summer and your summer PLAN will pay off in the fall!

 Posted by at 11:01 am
May 192007

I had the distinct honor to participate in the funeral yesterday celebrating the life of SGT Jason R. Harkins who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  

Jason HarkinsI first met Jason while serving as Pastor of Student Ministries at Concord Baptist Church in Clermont, Georgia.  Jason was a middle school student when I first met him.  The once quiet, unsure of himself, but polite middle school student grew into a hero making the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life protecting his fellow soldiers and fighting for his country.  My sweetest memory is of the Wednesday night that Jason trusted Christ for forgiveness of his sin and he turned to follow Christ. 

  John 15:13 (NIV)
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Just three weeks before his transition into eternity Jason had risked his life to save a fellow soldier even to the point of taking a bullet in his soldier helment.  As a result of his valor he will be awarded a bronze star with a “V” for valor. 

Check out the announcement from Stryker Brigade News regarding his death.  Also see his obituary notice from the Gainesville Times. 

His testimony is SHINING the light of CHRIST as people share of his commitment to his Lord Jesus, his wife Emily, his family and to his fellow soldiers.  I have heard of many comments of his witness and testimony to others while in Iraq.

The way Jason lived inspires me to fully devote myself to follow Christ more deeply and to serve others more lovingly. 

Words cannot express how I was touched by the support of Concord Baptist Church and the North Hall, White County, and Cleveland community.  The whole Northeast Georgia Community came out to support the family of Jason Harkins.  I was honored to serve alongside Pastors Alan Morris and James Dollar in the funeral.   It was an absolute honor as well, to serve alongside Pastor Darwood Santmier of James Memorial Baptist Church in Gasden, Alabama.  Pastor Darwood is Emily Harkins’ pastor from her hometown.  Emily is the beautiful wife of Jason.  Please pray for Emily and Jason’s family.  I love Alan and Nancy Fritchey.  I had the privilege of knowing them while I was at Concord Baptist Church.  They are authentic in their love of people and pursuit of God. 

May we all be challenged in the way Sgt. Jason R. Harkins lived and in the way Sgt. Jason R. Harkins gave his life!

 Posted by at 7:18 pm
May 172007

I love movies!  Primarily I love movies for the “window of escape” they provide through a momentary period of entertainment.  I also love movies for their ability to give us a glimpse into the heart of the culture we live in.

I did get to see Spiderman 3 last week and although it was worth the time to see it, I was a little disappointed as it related to the first two films of the trilogy. 

It was exciting and fun, but I loved the interesting perspective concerning the two natures of Spiderman once the “thing” from outerspace made its connection like a “leech” to the body of Peter Parker a.k.a. Spiderman.  Take a look at Mark Batterson’s post concerning the symbolism and spiritual perspective of the movie.  You will enjoy his thoughts.

 Posted by at 12:25 pm