8.12.2010

Sierra Prieta

video

8.03.2010

Dominican Republic 2010

Last week a team of 25 people from MMCC traveled to Dominican Republic to visit a mountain village called Sierra Prieta. Partnering with Food for the Hungry in a program called Community to Community, we walk alongside the people of Sierra Prieta, joining them in what God is doing in their lives. Here are some photos of our trip. More to come soon...

Here is the bus we traveled in, it had an AC which was nice!


We got to do home visits with our sponsor children:


This is the church we worked with:


Jump rope was a big hit:

4.14.2010

the Church...

I read this quote today...
We are spiritual contributors not spiritual consumers. The church does not exist for us. We are the church and we exist for the world.
Wow. So the question we're left with: What are we contributing?

4.08.2010

the church has left the building

see below post from Jared to learn more about 'the church has left the building.' watch following video for a little inspiration...

4.07.2010

The Church Has Left the Building

On Sunday, May 30th, McDowell Mountain Community Church will try something we have never done before. We are using the morning for a day of service to our community. This means we will have no worship service, but will worship with service to others. We are encouraging our people to find different opportunities to serve around the city from 10-11am (not including travel time). We would like you to brainstorm different ministry ideas for this Sunday. It could be plugging into one of our current in town ministries (Brooks Academy, PHX Rescue Mission, Americans for Better Tomorrow etc.) or seeking something new. We would like to pursue what God has put on your heart. We believe this is a practical way to love others with no strings attached and spread the good news of Christ. Here are a couple of organizations that might help with ideas: http://servolution.org/ideas/ and www.servantevangelism.com (ex. hospital visits, passing out water at local parks, food distribution).

Here is what you can do: Identify a ministry project and project leader, email jared@mcdowellmountianchurch.com with the details.

Let's start the discussion:

4.02.2010

Holy Week day 5

I've always been a bit uncomfortable calling it 'Good Friday.' Let's be honest, the disciples and followers of Jesus were devastated the day Jesus died. It was not a 'good' Friday. It was dark for them. So I've always referred to it as 'Black Friday.' And I believe entering into that devastation and suffering allows us to better understand what God was willing to do on our behalf.

Mighty to Save, Hillsong


(from Colossians) We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.

4.01.2010

Holy Week day 4

This song has quickly become a favorite of many. It is a powerful declaration of our God. I can't wait to sing this with you on Sunday.

How Great Is Our God, Chris Tomlin




1 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
2 in readiness for God from day one.

3 Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.

4 What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.

5 The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
6 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God7 to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in.8 John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.

9 The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.

10 He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.

11 He came to his own people,
but they didn’t want him.

12 But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.

13 These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten.

14 The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

3.31.2010

Holy Week day 3

Many say this was the earliest 'creed' of the church, something that people began to repeat again and again. Paul recorded it for us in Philippians:
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.4 Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slaves
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal's death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.


This is a new song to me. But I love the message. What do you think about it?
True Love, Phil Wickham

3.30.2010

Holy Week day 2

Made Alive with Christ

1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.s He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


I love that passage of Scripture from Ephesians, chapter 2. Read it three or four times slowly, and try to concentrate on each sentence. After doing that, what phrases jumped out at you? What were the phrases that seem to stand out? Why do you think that is?

Here's another song we'll be singing on Sunday. I love this one too.
Salvation Is Here, by Hillsong United

3.29.2010

Holy Week Day 1

This week, we are going to post some of the songs we will be singing on Easter Sunday and some scripture to chew on as we prepare to celebrate Easter. Can't wait to sing on Easter. What about you? And who are you bringing with you?

Song 1: My Savior Lives - New Life Worship



lyrics:
I know that my Redeemer lives
And now I stand on what He did
My Savior my Savior lives
Ev'ry day a brand new chance to say
Jesus You are the Only Way
My Savior my Savior lives

Our God will reign forever
And all the world will know His Name
Ev'ryone together
Sing the song of the redeemed

The King has come from heaven
And darkness trembles at His Name
Victory forever
Is the song of the redeemed


Scripture: Ephesians 1
Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.5 Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!)6 He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.7 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!8 He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need,9 letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ,10 a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.11 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living,12 part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.13 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.14 This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.15 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus,16 I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks.17 But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally,18 your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers,19 oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!20 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven,21 in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever.22 He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.

23 The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

3.28.2010

lamb selection...

Today was Palm Sunday. At MMCC, we went a bit different than the traditional BIG route. We stripped everything back and went acoustic. I thought it was a great morning...

  • Palm Sunday was 'lamb selection day' for the Jews who had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover.
  • Roman officers would have entered town on distinguished animals. Jesus entered on a donkey.
  • The palm branch was a sign of nationalistic pride. It was the Jews' way of saying that they wanted their nation back and wanted the Romans out.
  • Hosanna meant 'save us.' But not in the way we sing it today. They were looking for political freedom from the Romans.
  • I preached in the dark today. I've never done that. Jesus said He was the light of the world. I wanted to magnify the idea that we are surrounded by darkness and need Jesus to follow, to expose our 'stuff' and for hope.
  • We are also called to be the light. So we hid a bunch of flashlights under chairs in the theater. When all of those flashlights were on, the darkness was pushed aside. Hmmmmmmm....hope that picture/idea stuck.
  • Spent the afternoon watching a little bball. Wanted Baylor to pull it out. At least the Spartans pushed through.

Looking forward to a great Holy Week. Always good to slow down and reflect on who Jesus was, why He died and what He accomplished by overcoming that death.

3.16.2010

The verse that follows

Most of us had had John 3:16 memorized in the first month of becoming a Christian; that's a verse even non-believers are probably familiar with. Sometimes we pull it out on it's own and forget to keep reading. I love verse 17 "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." As we think of the missional goals of our church body, I want to always remember that we are not being sent out to judge or condemn. We are sent out with a saving message of love and grace for the world.

Which are you quickest to do? I have to admit that my ability to judge grows greater as my cup empties. I can only love others when I'm full of the love and grace of Jesus Christ. We must fill up each day in order to live in the light and pour out into the darkness.

Have you already judged today? Make it your goal to share God's grace and love with someone today.

3.15.2010

favorite paraphrase

One of my favorite passages that Eugene Peterson paraphrased in the Message is from John chapter 1. Here it is:
The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.
God moved into the neighborhood. I love that.
And that changed everything.
He still lives in the neighborhood.
When Jesus left, He promised us that He would send a helper, a counselor.
The Holy Spirit is still here...still in the neighborhood.
Wherever you are. Whatever you are doing. God is in the neighborhood.
I wonder how things would change if we were more aware of His presence. Not to scare us or guilt us. But to empower us and lead us.
God is in the neighborhood. And He desperately loves you and me.

3.12.2010

#blogfail

When using twitter, the hashtag # is a means to summarize one's tweet. In other words, if I am going to tweet about a great dinner I just ate, I might tag the message like this: #dinnerwinner. Or, if I want to tweet about Oklahoma State's HUGE loss last night, I might tag the message like this: #okstatebballfail. So, the title of this blog post should be self explanatory. We've done a lousy job keeping it updated. We're trying to get better at regular posts.

Regardless, we've just come through a section in Luke that has a large number of parables. I'm interested to find out what your favorite parable is. What story of Jesus resonates with you? And what parables confuse you?

Your turn. Don't make me tweet this: #responsefail.
:)

2.23.2010

Move that Mountian

I try to spend each day with an open connection to God: communicating with Him in even the small things. Mark 20: 23-24 reminds us of the big moments and the big faith some prayers can take. When I ask God to protect me each day, I really don't think much more about it; but how often have I asked that same protection over my children, then set about worrying about their circumstances? Too many times I have prayed, but didn't "believe I had received it." Today I give you two challenges:

1. What have you asked God for but didn't believe it would happen? Ask God to forgive your doubts.

2. What stands in your way of this mountain-moving faith? Ask God to remove these doubting obstacles.

2.19.2010

struggling in the storm

Mark, chapter 6 records a story of Jesus. He sent His disciples across the lake in a boat while he went up in the mountains to pray. He could see the disciples rowing in the boat from his spot in the hills. They were struggling against the wind and waves. Late into the night, He walked out on the water to them. He almost passed them by, but they began screaming...thinking he was a ghost. He calmed them, climbed into the boat...and the storm began to settle.

Last night, this was the passage Ray Vander Laan spoke about in our community group study. This is just one reason why community groups are a great thing to commit to...we learn so much about the scriptures. Ray pointed out a couple things that I find strengthen my faith...
  1. Jesus watched the disciples as they struggled in the storm. Often times, we feel alone in the storm...but God sees us. And He allows us to be in the storm.
  2. The disciples landed in Gennesaret...even though they set out for Bethsaida. Sometimes, because of a storm, our direction changes. We end up in places we didn't think we'd be. That is ok.
What is strengthening your faith as you read and talk about these stories of Jesus?

2.17.2010

lent

Lent begins today. Traditionally, lent is a season of 40 days (+Sundays) leading up to Easter. I love the idea of lent - cutting something out of your life in an effort to better focus and prepare for Easter. The number 40 is significant in the scriptures. It gives the picture of preparation. This year, as a community, as a church family, rather than cut something away for 40 days, we've added something for 54 days. The idea is the same...focus and preparation for Easter. We are currently reading through the stories of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We just began the book of Mark...so it is a great time to jump in if you haven't been reading with us. There is a reading plan over at our website (MMCC). Jump in ... and see what God does in you over the next 40 days. I believe Easter could be more meaningful and full ... if we will prepare our hearts and minds.

2.11.2010

gifts

This morning, I read some thoughts from Seth Godin on 'the hidden power of gifts.' There are some great thoughts about giving and receiving. Read his thoughts here:
Seth Godin: The Hidden Power of Gifts

This raises some great questions. Here are a few that jumped out at me:

  • Am I truly giving a gift or am I simply exercising my power over someone?
  • Is it a gift if I still control how it is used? (a lesson i am learning with my kiddos)
  • If I am expecting a return on my gift is it better called an investment?
  • If a gift with strings attached is control or marketing what is love with strings attached?
  • Do I have a hard time receiving a gift because I have inferiority issues?

I love how kids receive gifts. They don't begin thinking of what they have to give to 'return' the gift. They simply rip a gift open and begin playing with it. How do you receive gifts? How do you receive love?


2.10.2010

is that fair?

In today’s euangelion reading, I came across the story of the workers in the field. There were workers who began in the morning, workers who began at mid-day and workers who began late in the evening. The ones who began late in the day only ended up working a short time. But the owner decided to give them all the same amount of pay for their work. The workers who had been there from early in the morning were ticked. They didn’t think it was fair that the late-day workers received the same pay for a smaller amount of work. But the owner reminded them that it was all his, and that he could do whatever he wanted with his money.

There are a few things that I was reminded of…
1. We often focus on what someone else has. Which leads us to …

2. Compare with what we have. Which leads us to …

3. Wanting more or wanting them to have less.

Obviously, that is not a very good path to follow. And in reality, we don’t want what is fair – we simply want more. If life was fair, we’d have to learn to live on a lot less than what we have. We forget how little so many in our world live on and how much we truly have.

Here’s a healthier path for us to take…
1. Realize that God is good and provides all we need. Which leads us to …

2. Give what is extra to those who are in need. Which leads us to …

3. Contentment. Life is much better when we are content and thankful.

Which path are you taking?

2.05.2010

Matthew 9 & 10

I was drawn to point out just 3 verses in Chapter 9: 20-22. Usually we focus on the woman's faith; and what a great faith it was. However, in our Thursday morning study we were challenged to view these verses a little differently. Rather than focusing on the women's faith, look at Jesus' availability: as He walked through the massive crowd, the tassels of His cloak would have been very easy for her, or anyone, to touch. All she had to do was reach out.


2.04.2010

matthew 7-8

Three things jumped at me this morning:
1. Don't look for shortcuts to God. The way to life -- to God -- is vigorous and requires total attention. I'm a shortcut guy, so this challenges the way I do things. Loving God and loving others with no strings attached isn't just going to happen in my life. It takes time.

2. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Wow. We are an entertainment-oriented society and are trained to follow people with charisma. God is more interested in character.

3. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. Knowledge doesn't lead to the Kingdom. We can know a lot about God and His word and still not know Him.

2.03.2010

Something that jumped out at me and something I prayed for.

While reading Matthew 4, the story of Jesus calling the first disciples jumped out at me. We often make a big deal about the disciples’ response to Jesus’ calling. “At once they left… immediately they left”. We also point out that Jesus called them while they were mere fishermen… he can use anyone.

What amazed me is that Jesus looked at these fishermen and saw potential.

This is often opposite of how I view people. I see all the reasons they would be bad for a task, job, or opportunity. I tend to be skeptical of people and their abilities. Maybe I think I am being smart or safe.

My prayer is that as I interact with others throughout my day, I would have the eyes to see great potential in mere fishermen.

2.01.2010

the stories of Jesus

MMCC-
Today is the day we begin reading the stories of Jesus - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. One of the best resources we have online to do this as a community is YouVersion. We've created a group/community at YV for this very thing. We can make notes, tag passages, ask questions, etc. But to make it valuable, we need YOU to get into it. Join us now here:
http://youversion.com/groups/mmcc


1.28.2010

heroin addicts, business men and you

"Kelli is a heroin addict and a prostitute. She does sexual favors for cigarettes. She has been enslaved by sex traffickers..."

My first job out of college was as a Junior High Youth Director. I had no idea what I was doing. Andy was my boss - he was the Senior High Youth Pastor. Every summer, we drove to Atlanta, Georgia with a group of kids for a ministry week. We worked with a group called 'Church on the Street.' This was a church for the homeless. The pastor was a friend to the forgotten and marginalized by society. Today, Andy is that pastor. Church on the street is a great organization that serves and loves those on the streets of Atlanta. They do this with no strings attached. This week, Andy sent this note:

Kelli is a heroin addict and a prostitute. She does sexual favors for cigarettes. She has been enslaved by sex traffickers, abused by her alcoholic father, and written off as useless by the world. She is a high school drop-out, yet surprisingly intelligent and articulate. She is ashamed of herself, yet knows there is something better for her. She feels worthless, yet somehow knows she is of infinite worth. Kelli is a paradox: she fits neatly into stereo-types, but defies most of them at the same time. (Continue reading here: http://ow.ly/16rwak)

I love the Church - the body of Christ - the community of followers of Jesus. They are all over the world, learning to love God completely and love others with no strings attached. They are on the streets of Atlanta, in businesses of Scottsdale ... they are in London and Jerusalem and Lima. If you are a follower, you are a part of the body. Sometimes we lose sight of the Church - and we believe that church is what happens on a Sunday morning where we gather. Church is happening today, every minute, every hour, around the world. You are the Church and God desperately needs you to help Him accomplish His purpose.

Your life matters. God desperately loves you. And He wants His love to spill out over your life into the lives of others. Allow Him to use you to love others. Love people today, no matter where you are, with no strings attached.

1.26.2010

sunday's message...and image managment

God has planted a God-shaped hole in your soul. The only thing that can fill it is healthy relationships. But, there are things that prevent us from healthy relationships and healthy community... some thoughts from my blog:

Eight years ago, I heard Marty Grubbs talk about image management. For some reason that phrase caught my attention and wouldn’t let it go. Maybe it was because I had never heard it before. Or maybe because I was guilty. Periodically, over the next few years, I would hear him speak about it again. Every time, I would get an uncomfortable feeling. I wanted to hide. Actually, I realized I was already hiding.

Image Management is a subtle way to bury ourselves. It is a subtle way to hide from others. Image Management prevents us from knowing others and being known.

Marty often talks about his first experience in a 12-steps program. He says, “What I experienced and saw in that group is what I had read about in the New Testament my whole life – yet I had never seen it in a church.” It is interesting to me that in the place, with the people we should be most comfortable revealing our secrets, our pains, our addictions, our sin, our doubts, our … we find it hardest to reveal those things.

In the past couple of months, I’ve found myself drawn to the teachings of Jesus found in Matthew 5-7. In chapter 6 (from the MSG), it says, “don’t make a production out of it…” All too often, I’m making a production out of it. Because I want to hide behind whoever it is you might like. Do you ever find yourself there … hiding … making a production out of it?

One of the places that God works to bring healing and wholeness to us is called community. It is found in a group of friends who know no masks. God’s grace flows in the intimate circle of healthy relationship. And image management prevents true community, healthy relationship.

Are you working to control others’ impression of you? Do you carefully craft your words so that you give off an impression that may not be reality? Are you a name-dropper?

Father, help us to put away the masks. Help us to move beyond image management so that we can know true community, so that we can know others and be known by them. May we know your grace in the safety of healthy relationships with others.

1.24.2010

sunday night thoughts...

I’m going to have a tough time sleeping tonight – I’m too fired up from today. It was an awesome day at MMCC. Great worship, led by Joe, Jill, Faith, Jason, Sean, Dave and Phil. Here are some random thoughts from the day:

  • The room was packed. Even with folding chairs along the back wall, there were only 10 open seats in the house. Love a full room!
  • Jill Besse was awesome on Nicole Nordeman’s Legacy. Love that song – and Jill sounded great.
  • Joe’s story of a friend asking if God really loved her was a great lead into How He Loves.
  • We had around 60 show up for Pizza with the Pastors. It was great connecting with so many new families.
  • Yes, I did say that God thought His creation was very good…all except for the cats. And yes, someone walked up to me at Pizza with the Pastors with a cat sweater on. Awkward.
  • I had more comments about the shirt I wore today than I’ve ever had about a piece of clothing I’ve worn on a Sunday morning. Half were good comments, half wondered what I was thinking. Robin dresses me – take it up with her.
  • You were created with a relationship hole in your soul – and the only thing that can fill it is healthy relationships.
  • As a society, we are over-connected – and yet we are still lonely and depressed. We are missing out on what God wants us to experience.
  • Healthy relationships demand time, truth and forgiveness.
  • Funny moment today … someone telling me during the sermon that Facebook should be shut down. Nice.
  • Funnier moment … I called Steve, ‘Michael’ (which is his last name) during the sermon. He texted me 30 seconds later to correct me.
  • I love my boys…all three of them: Connor, Calvin and little Charlie. I love being a dad to them.
  • My wife is amazing and she looks incredible for just having had a baby. I’m a lucky dude.
  • I am overwhelmed by God’s grace, mercy and love for me. I don’t deserve it.

Colts won… Vikes/Saints are tied. Well, time to watch some football. Good night…

1.19.2010

enough?

This morning, I read the following blog from a pastor in Nashville, TN. I thought it was a great continuation of Sunday's message. What do you think?

Is Enough Ever Enough?

Today we’re in Proverbs 18 and this is the verse that jumped out at me.

Proverbs 18 10 The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe. 11 The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety.”

The writer is talking about two different beliefs. One heart that is resting in God and another that is resting in the security of their money and belongings.

If the economy has taught us anything over the past couple years it should be that trying to find security in our personal wealth and stuff is foolish. And yet somehow I find myself often being drawn to thinking, “if I just had a little more money we’d have it made.” What a joke! I’ve made more money for years and it’s never been enough. I’ve always thought I needed just a little bit more. The reality is my standard of living just continues to increase in direct proportion to my income.

Mark Batterson said in Primal,

“Enough will never be enough unless you determine how much is enough.”

So true. If you’re looking for safety in your money then enough will never be enough.

So how do we combat this? For my family it’s setting a personal income ceiling. It’s admitting that we already make more money than we need (most of us do). In order to move beyond looking to our stuff and money as our strong tower we have to draw a line in the sand.

We have enough.

Period.

Now instead of setting “getting goals” we get to set “giving goals.” Instead of trying to figure out how to make more money we get to figure out how we can give away more money.

So honestly, what are you doing in your life to make sure you’re running to God for safety and security instead of your wealth?

1.17.2010

Sunday reflections...from Matt

This morning, Debbie Frick, from Food for the Hungry, helped paint a picture of the relief efforts in Haiti. I am currently watching 60 Minutes - and my heart is aching for the people of Haiti. What they are experiencing is unfathomable. I can't believe the piles of dead bodies and the scores of people in need of basic and major medical aid. These are people lying on the side of the road left for dead. As followers of Jesus, as people of God's love, we must do everything we can to provide what they most need. If you'd like to help, visit one of the great organizations that is providing relief: Food for the Hungry, the Red Cross, World Vision, etc.

Today was probably one of the hardest messages I've ever preached. I think it was difficult on a number of levels. Money feels like such a personal thing - and it is a challenge to talk about something that feels so personal. I also know that we have a great flow of visitors and guests - and a message on money can feel like a plea to give more and more to the local church. That wasn't my intention - but I am aware that it can often be heard in that light.

I made a statement that I know can be misunderstood...and I wrestled with saying it. I said something to the effect of 'If you don't give to the things that move God's heart, you don't really love God.' That is a harsh statement. I said it for a couple of different reasons: 1. I believe that what Jesus said in Luke is absolutely true: Where your treasure is, there your heart is as well. I believe that we love what we give our money to. 2. We often believe that our lives are measured by our possessions. Who we are does not equal what we have or what what we have achieved - we are children of God, desperately loved by Him. And He wants our hearts.

To experience life to the full, we must fight against materialism - and we must become generous people, sharing all we have been given. I want to experience the best kind of life possible. And I know you do too. What we do with our money will help us experience that or will prevent us from experiencing that. It's up to us.

Some other random thoughts...

  • I love the song You Alone. It is one of my favorite worship tunes.
  • I love worshiping with a room full of people. It's exciting and engaging.
  • I talk too much during announcements. I've got to cut back on the number of words I use.
  • I'm bummed that the Cardinals lost. And the Chargers (but only because San Diego is Joe's favorite team. I really don't care too much about them). I'm rooting for the Vikings and Colts now.
  • I love Charlie. He's awesome.
  • I love Jesus and am so thankful for His grace and mercy in my life. Without it, I am nothing.

Hope you have a great week-

1.13.2010

Earthquake in Haiti

As most have probably heard, Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake yesterday evening. We are only beginning to see images of the destruction and aftermath. The coming days will see immediate need for aid to sustain life. From what I remember/have heard, Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. MMCC has a relationship with Haiti's neighboring nation, the Dominican Republic. In other words, these are our neighbors and they are laying on the side of the road needing help. I know many of you would like to help. We partner with Food for the Hungry in our relationship with the Dominican Republic. Food for the Hungry is one of the most solid relief organizations in situations like this one. We can give directly to those in need through FH. As a church, we will be giving to Haiti through FH. If you'd like to give directly, you can do so here: RELIEF FOR HAITI. Also know that when you give to MMCC, a portion of what you give goes to our strategic mission partners. Because you give to MMCC, we are able to give as a community to relief in Haiti.
MMCC ... loving people with no strings attached.

1.10.2010

When Fyodor thought he was dying...

Fyodor Dostoevsky told the story of the time he was arrested by the czar, and sentenced to die. The czar played a cruel psychological trick on people who rebelled against his regime by blindfolding them and standing them in front of a firing squad. They heard gunshots go off but felt nothing, then slowly realized the guns were loaded with blanks.
The emotional trauma that went with the process of dying, without experiencing death, had a transforming effect on people. It certainly had an incredible effect on Dostoevsky. He talked about waking up the morning of his mock execution with full assurance that that would be the last day of his life.
As he ate his last meal, he savored every bite.
Every breath of air he took was taken with an awareness of how precious it was. Every face he saw that day he studied with intensity.
He wanted every experience etched on his mind.
As they marched him onto the courtyard, he felt the sun beating down on him and he appreciated the warmth of the sun as never before.
Everything around him seemed to have a magical quality to it.
All of his senses were heightened. He was fully alive!
After his captors removed his blindfold and he realized he had not been shot, everything about him changed. He became grateful to people he had previously hated. He became thankful for everything about life, but especially for life itself. Dostoevsky claims that it was this experience that made him into a novelist and raised his sensitivities so that he could perceive dimensions of reality never known to him. In the moments leading up to his death, he saw the world as he had never been able to see it before.

Live Like You Were Dying is about those moments.


PS Dostoevsky went on to write "The Brothers Karamazov" and "Crime and Punishment"- considered some of the greatest novels ever written.

1.08.2010

music

I know there are people who don't like music...but I believe music goes beyond language. Music moves us, it angers us, it excites us - music expresses things that we can't express with just words. I love gathering on Sundays to sing. I love singing old songs and I love singing new songs. I love hearing and singing lyrics that become an expression of my heart. That's what worship is - us turning our hearts toward God, expressing deep feelings and emotions and beliefs.
One of the things we'll try to do this year is introduce you to some songs that we're listening to and singing - songs that may help you express your heart to God. Last week we sang a song that the David Crowder Band recorded last year. The title is "How He Loves." For some reason this song grabs my heart when we sing it. I am overcome thinking about the depth of love God has for us. Here's just a part of the lyric...
We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes

If grace is an ocean we're all sinking...


If grace is an ocean we're all sinking...love that thought. Here's a link to the video if you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJyW55AXJAk

What songs are helping you express your heart to God these days?

1.07.2010

you're it.

I'm a dreamer. I love to dream about what could be. I love to envision what could happen. That usually involves having something I don't currently have. There is good in dreaming, there is good in visioneering, there is good in looking ahead at what could be. But there is also a danger.

The danger is in believing that we can't do what we should do unless we get what we don't have to get to where we want to be. Did that make any sense? The danger is in believing that we need what we don't have to be who we have been called to be. Confused yet? It leads to statements like this: If only I had another $__________... or If only we had a building with ___________ or If only we had more ______________.

This morning, I was reading from Matthew, chapter 10. This verse hit me:

"You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment..." (http://read.ly/Matt10.10.MSG)

The dreamer in me cringes at that thought. But it is the truth. I love the thought of having bigger and more and nicer and quicker and ... but none of that can replace the heart and gifts that God gave me. There is nothing that can replace your heart and gifts. You and I have exactly what we need to do what God has called us to do. It's simply a matter of us trusting Him with what we have. It's simply a matter of us releasing our grip on what we have and being willing to do ... to give ... to be what He has called us to do ... to give ... to be.

You're it. You're the only equipment He needs.

Another story from Sunday

Soren Kierkegaard once told a parable about two thieves who broke into a jewelry store, but instead of stealing the jewels they simply switched the price tags. They put high-priced tags on cheap jewelry and low-priced tags on valuable gems. For several weeks no one noticed. People bought cheap jewelry for exorbitant prices and rare jewels for spare change.

Kierkegaard's point is pretty obvious: sometimes we have difficulty discerning between what is valuable and what is worthless.


John 10:10 says, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy." But here's how he steals. Very rarely is it overt. He uses covert means. He switches the price tags. He wants us to place supreme value on worthless things and no value on things that are invaluable.


Once again props to Mark Batterson for sharing.

1.05.2010

the Tribe of the Transplanted

One of the things we want to do in 2010 is introduce you to some great books and stories that we are reading/hearing. I shared an excerpt from one on Sunday - on heart transplants. Below is an excerpt of Mark Batterson's new book, Primal - A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. Batterson is pastor in Washington, DC. He is a great writer. I recommend any of his books (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase, Primal). The following is from chapter 2, the Tribe of the Transplanted:

Several years ago I had the privilege of attending the National Prayer Breakfast held annually at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The breakfast is a bipartisan gathering of leaders from all branches of government and both houses of Congress as well as delegations of leaders from foreign countries. The speaker that year was Bill Frist. Prior to his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Dr. Frist performed more than 150 heart transplants as a thoracic surgeon. During his remarks, he talked in reverent tones about the moment when a heart has been grafted into a new body and all the surgical team can do is wait in hopes that it will begin to beat. At that point he stopped speaking in medical terms and starting speaking in spiritual terms. He almost seemed at a loss for words as he described that miraculous moment when a heart beats in a new body for the first time. He called it a mystery.

Heart transplants are a marvel of modern medicine, but it goes way beyond what medicine can explain or understand. The heart is more than a physical pump. It doesn’t just circulate five thousand quarts of blood through sixty thousand miles of blood vessels day in and day out. The heart has a mind of its own. Studies suggest that the heart secretes its own brainlike hormones and has cellular memory. So a heart transplant isn’t just physical; it’s metaphysical. Heart transplant recipients don’t just receive a new organ; they receive cellular memories.

In his book A Man After His Own Heart, Charles Siebert shares a scientific yet poetic depiction of a heart transplant he observed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Not long after, Siebert attended an annual banquet for transplant recipients and he was deeply moved by their profound appreciation for life. They spoke in reverent tones about the second
chance at life they had been given. They humbly acknowledged their responsibility to honor the donor. And many of them talked about new desires that accompanied their new hearts.

Siebert concluded-and his research is backed up by numerous medical studies-that transplant recipients don’t just receive a new heart. Along with that new heart, they receive whole new sensory responses, cravings, and habits.

Siebert called this group of heart recipients “the tribe of the transplanted.”

When you give your heart to Christ, Christ gives His heart to you. And you become a part of the tribe of the transplanted. That new heart gives you a new appreciation for life. You humbly acknowledge your responsibility to honor the donor. And the cellular memories that come with that transplanted heart give you whole sensory responses, cravings, and habits. You literally feel different. Why? Because you feel what Christ feels. And chief among those sanctified emotions is compassion. Your heart begins to break for the things that break the heart of God. You become part of the this coup de compassion that started at Calvary. And that is the heart of what it means to love God with all of your heart.


1.03.2010

Thoughts from Sunday...

Just a few thoughts from Sunday...

I love the energy that comes from a packed room. It pumps me up to be a part of a community that is learning to turn our hearts and minds toward God every week. I absolutely LOVE singing How He Loves by David Crowder Band. It is just one of those songs that feels like a personal declaration. The story I shared about heart transplants was from Mark Batterson's book, Primal.

How fun was it to hear Joe sing the words, "I went skydiving...rocky mountain climbing...2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManChu..." I thought it was awesome...a little better than Tim's version. And did anyone notice that he was wearing cowboy boots?

Two simple thoughts dominated the message: 1. The enemy wants us to waste our lives. 2. God wants us to experience a full life. I believe God wants you and me to experience an extraordinary life - He doesn't want us to simply go through the motions. So many of us are just existing - we're not really living. Over the next few weeks, we're going to dig in a bit deeper. On the final Sunday of January, we're going to write letters to ourselves - letters about who we want to become as families, letters about how we want to experience a full life, letters about changes we feel as though we need to make. We'll seal the letters, self address the envelopes and then, at the end of 2010, we'll send the letters to those who wrote them. This will be a great exercise and experience for all of us.

I shared an example from something our family did a few years ago and an example from a personal exercise I did a couple of years ago. Hope these stir some thoughts in you.

Who we are becoming as a family:
1.We love and value all people.
2.We serve others and don’t just think of ourselves.
3.We are generous and share all that we have.
4.We join with Christ in what He is doing around us.
5.We slow down and enjoy time with one another.
6.We do everything (in word and deed) as if we were doing it for Christ.
7.We fix our minds on things that are good.

Some changes I need to make:

1.As a husband - more encouraging verbally and specific
2.As a dad - be there when there...turn off my 'work' when home
3.As a friend - take more interest in them
4.As a follower of Jesus - prayer time more focused
5.As a pastor - unbusy myself & engage people in Word

1.02.2010

Stoked for 2010

I don't know about you, but the staff team is stoked for the coming year. We believe it will be the best year for MMCC. We are looking forward to some teaching series. We are looking forward to the growth of community groups. But what we are most excited about is being developed even further as a MISSIONAL COMMUNITY. We can't wait to see what God does in and through us in twenty-ten. Are you ready? Are you in?