Month: July 2015

Jesus and Quarter-Pounders

This past Sunday, Shannon spoke on the spiritual discipline of fasting.  When I started working on this post that is supposed to reflect back on Shannon’s sermon, I was sitting at a McDonald’s with 2 quarter-pounders glaring at me. It was like they were double-dog daring me to eat them, and you don’t back down from a double-dog dare. I reasoned that it was good stewardship: it was a “buy-one-get-one-free” special and I couldn’t save one for later as I had no way to refrigerate it.  My parents taught me to be responsible and eat what was on my plate. They would remind me of the children in [whatever country it was during my formative years] who were starving. Never mind that I just like quarter-pounders and I wanted them. Flesh – 2, Spirit – 0. I like quarter-pounders; there’s nothing wrong with that. But quarter-pounders do not help me in the spiritual battle that constantly rages inside me (James 4:1). Only Jesus can do that—the “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. …

This Week For Sunday

This week in our Second Nature: Developing Spiritual Habits, Shannon will be speaking about the importance of giving, not just of our money but of our time and ourselves. We tend to get defensive or closed off when the subject of giving comes up, as we are selfish people. God has given us the ultimate gift in his Son, Jesus. There is nothing greater. However, we get stingy with $5 and 5 minutes. I hope and pray that as Sunday approaches, our hearts are softened to God’s word and we are open to hearing and obeying what he calls us to do with our time and money. Pray over these songs this week before we come together Sunday. Hands Towards Heaven – North Point Inside Out The Stand – Hillsong United Holy Spirit – Brian and Katie Torwalt Whisper His Name – Deluge

Reflections from the Intern

I can remember when interviewed with Shannon, Corey, and Keith via Skype, a week or two before Christmas. They asked me questions about ministry and if I was a super hero nerd or if I was “normal” and liked sports.  Then they asked me if I had any questions and the last question I had was “When will I know if I got the job?”  Corey looked at Shannon, then to Keith, and then back at me and said, “You’re our guy!”  May 16th I made the 8 hour trip down to Carrollton, GA. I had never driven more than 3 hours by myself so I was pretty nervous.  But I knew I had to do it.   Desmond, Corey and Nicole’s dog, was the first to welcome me to Carrollton. My first meal was at the Irish Bred Pub. My first Sunday I think a met 26,705 people, at least it felt that way. My first Wednesday, I had the opportunity to play KWAR with Fusion and I fell in love with the students. Eventually, Corey gave me the chance to teach …

Vulnerable Prayers

A few years ago, I told God I wanted to surrender, but needed His help.  Little did I know my prayer would be answered on a Friday morning back in January of 2011.  Here is an excerpt from my journal entry reflecting back on that morning: In the past month or so I have spent so much time praying for God to move in my life. I have spent a great deal of time searching in the word for hope, wisdom, and truth about me. I had been led to memorize four versus that I repeated all day and all night for weeks. But this particular morning, the scripture, the praying was different.  Sitting in my bed, I cried, I BEGGED God to have mercy on me. I prayed that the torment would stop and repeated those two desires over and over. I was loud, but I didn’t care if my neighbors heard me or not; I wanted it over. Lack of sleep and a very emotional morning, I was extremely weak and frail. I felt unstable. After a …

Making Prayer Intentional

Zeb Johnson, one of our teenagers in Fusion, said something Sunday that continues to resonate in my mind this week: “How can we grow stronger in our faith if we never talk to the God we serve?” I remember when I first met Natasha, I couldn’t get enough of her.  We would stay up hours on the phone just listening to each other’s voices, all the while falling more and more in love, as we learned more and more about each other. Thankfully over the years, our relationship has continued to grow, not by accident mind you.  We have been extremely intentional about our time together, our open dialogue with each other, and as a result, our love for one another has grown. Remember when you first met Jesus Christ?  Remember when you couldn’t get enough of Him, His grace, His forgiveness, His mercy, His glory, His presence? Has that feeling grown, or is it a distant memory? Are you being intentional about your time with the Father?  Are you continuing in open dialogue with the Holy …

This Week For Sunday

This Sunday, in our series “Second Nature: Developing Spiritual Habits,”  Shannon will be speaking about the importance of fasting and sharing how this habit has impacted his life and spiritual growth. To be honest, fasting is a discipline I have avoided. I’ve convinced myself that it’s not really necessary in my relationship with God. I imagine that there are many of you who feel the same as I do. That’s a lie we tell ourselves, because we want to be comfortable.  We justify so we can take the easy road guilt free. We have to pray for a change of heart. Discipline isn’t discipline if it begins and ends with comfort.  Let’s prepare ourselves and hearts to hear God’s word regarding fasting. This is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham Your Grace Finds Me – Matt Redman Cornerstone – Hillsong Live In Christ Alone – Passion Future / Past – John Mark McMillian

City Station Goes Public

To say that I’m excited about what God has done the last few weeks would be a gross understatement!  Things are moving forward rapidly with the vision that He has given Southern Hills.  I want to take a few minutes just to let you know a few things that are happening in regards to the community center. We don’t have to use the generic term “the community center” anymore.  The facilities at the end of the bypass next to CVS will officially be called (drum roll please)… City Station.  We believe this name communicates to all of Carrollton that this is a place where everyone can come to serve, be served, grow, fellowship, and belong. We have submitted our application packet to the Planning and Zoning Committee.  The application looks great and is extremely thorough thanks to the hard work of Kirby Butler.  She has committed countless hours to heading up this process as she continues to champion this project.  All indications so far are that the packet was well received. As the plans for City Station are now public record, the word …

5 Tools For Your Bible Study Toolbox

Do you desire to know the Word on a deeper level, but having a hard time figuring out where to start? Do you need accountability in staying active in reading Scripture? Maybe you need a system or process for Bible study. Those who know me best know that I have a system for every habit that I am developing. I want to be further along than where I am, not just next year but next week, so I push myself to grow. Simply picking up a Bible and reading can be difficult or intimidating and so I’ve developed a process that has helped me in my Bible study.  Maybe one or two of these tools will help you grow further and faster in your personal Bible Study habits. 1. Start a Reading Plan on the YouVersion App  YouVersion is a simple, ad-free Bible app that offers more than 150 reading plans to choose from to fit your preferences and needs. Once you subscribe to a plan, you can receive notifications and reminders to help keep you on track and motivated. You can also share your reading plan with friends …

This Week for Sunday

This week is the second Sunday of our series “Second Nature: Developing Spiritual Habits.”  Shannon will be speaking about the importance of prayer and developing a habit of prayer. My buddy, Jay Watts, encouraged me to read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. You may recognize the title from the bulletin as it was promoted for our Relentless Love series a few weeks ago. The book is now one of my favorites. I won’t get into details as I don’t want to spoil the book, but one of the main characters reminded me how important it is to pray and that prayer is more than just a cry for help.  Prayer is a constant conversation with God.  It’s a chance to get to know His heart and to share our heart with Him. I pray that Jesus continues to teach us to pray and that our desire to pray and talk with God is ever increasing.   As I look forward to Sunday, I am praying over these songs we’ll sing together this week. Hands Towards Heaven – North Point …

Preschool Ministry Update

What a fun and busy summer it has been for the littlest members of our church! Unless you have a preschooler in your family, you may be unaware of all the exciting things happening within our ministry. I’d like to share with you about our summer projects as well as fill you in on our upcoming plans for the fall. We kicked off summer fun during the month of May by holding our very first Preschool Playdate Service Project. Six families met at The Stewart House Assisted Living Home to plant flowers for the 40 residents currently living there. The children had so much fun choosing beautiful pots, scooping handfuls of dirt, and planting flowers. They then loaded all the plants into a red wagon and walked up and down the hallways, leaving a flower in each room to brighten the day of  “the Grandmas and Grandpas,” as we called them. . The children also had the opportunity to sing a song to the residents and teach them the Bible verse they memorized for the …