Month: January 2017

This Week For Sunday

-written by Matthew Hicks As a kid, I had this strange obsession with RVs. I was fascinated by aesthetics and how much fit into such a small space. In January of 2011, I was watching a show called “Extreme RVs” and saw something that didn’t look quite like an RV. It was on wheels like an RV, but looked like a very small house.  I knew instantly that I wanted one!  As I began telling everyone about how I was going to build a tiny house, I received nothing but laughter and disbelief.  Today everyone knows what a tiny house is as they are all over social media and there are at least 4 different shows about them. But when I was introduced to the tiny house, no one had ever heard of it and it seemed like a strange idea. But that didn’t stop my dream of building one. Fast forward 4 years to my junior year of high school, and I purchased a custom built trailer that would be the base of my very own …

The Good Samaritan Ain’t Got Nothing on You

The Good Samaritan is a good story, isn’t it?  A guy gets beat up, left for dead and eventually a good person comes by and helps him.  We hold this guy up on a pedestal, but I think we’ve all done something like this.  We see a random person in need and help them.  I remember once when I saw a guy’s car literally broken down in the middle of a four-way stop. While every other car would just honk, I pulled my car off to the side of the road and helped him push his through the intersection to safety. I’ll be honest, I felt good after doing that.  Looking back, though, I was just being a decent human being.  It’s actually very easy to help people that I’m pretty sure I’ll never see again.  I provide a random act of kindness and then send them on their way.  I may even offer extra help, going above and beyond what’s expected like the Good Samaritan did, but I send them on nonetheless.  It’s much …

This Week For Sunday

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you didn’t have any control? After our last interview at Southern Hills, Corey and I were driving back to North Carolina to then drive on to Ohio.  We arrived in North Carolina late in the evening after a wicked snow storm.  We were just outside of the town we were living in when we hit a patch of ice.  The car began to slide and we both knew there was nothing we could do. “I love you,” Corey said quickly. “I love you too.” We braced as we prepared for the car to flip and roll down the road.  Luckily, our car simply slid down into the median, eventually catching traction in the grass.  In the snow, we could see that we weren’t the first car to make that journey.  With the help of a stranger, we pushed the car out of the way of whoever was next. That day I knew what it felt like to lack control. I had the same feeling when …

Welcome to the SoHills Family, Neals!

When I was introduced to the church in November, which to me feels like an eternity ago, Shannon talked a lot about where I have worked in ministry and what I will be doing here at Southern Hills.  Being a new member of the SoHills family, I thought you would like to know more about who we are.  So… Hi, my name is Heath Neal, and this is my wife Karen. We have a 5-year-old daughter, Reese, and a 3-year-old daughter, Vivian, and live in Bremen. I grew up in the Atlanta area and am a huge fan of the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks. Although I lived elsewhere for nearly twenty years, it has been fun to come back to Georgia and live so near to where I grew up. I love sports, reading, being outdoors and spending time with people. Karen hails from outside of Nashville, TN, where she grew up on the family farm. They no longer raise cows and tobacco, but every spring you can go and pick fresh strawberries. We always take …

Are You Prayed Up in These 4 Areas of your life?

“Are you prayed up?” This question caught me off guard when I found myself complaining to my high school teacher. When I was younger, I began a Bible study with the goal of reaching my entire school for Christ. As you can imagine, progress was slow. There were times when huge crowds gathered to study and other times when there were just a handful of students. During a busy season, I found myself sitting alone with Mrs. Francisco waiting for someone, anyone, to show up for the lesson. When I began complaining, she cut me off and asked, “Are you prayed up?” Honestly, I wasn’t, and I found my motivations getting out of line. That evening I began talking with God about my discouragement, purpose, and motivations in leading the study. Throughout the years, I’ve seen God move in big ways to answer prayers from His followers. Here are a few challenges to get you prayed up in these 4 big areas of your life. Are you prayed up for your personal walk with God? …

This Week For Sunday

I recently traveled to Vegas with Lime Biscuit for a promotional products expo. We landed, claimed our bags, and found a taxi. From that point on our eyes began to consume all that was around us. I’ve seen Vegas on TV a hundred times, but there’s something different about being there. The big screen doesn’t do the size of the city justice. After checking-in to our hotel, we ventured out to see where our expo was and explore the strip. What we saw over the days to come was all but normal for us. From a bird’s eye view, Vegas is a pretty cool place. It’s a cool place to go and there are lots of good things to do there. But there’s a reason Vegas is referred to as Sin City. There were so many times that we felt like foreigners. Not like out of town “foreigners,” but like I-can’t-get-back-home-to-heaven-fast-enough foreigners. I have no doubt that people go to Vegas to gain the world and end up losing their souls. We talked to several …

Distracted by Spiritual Fat and a Host of Parasites

Florence Chadwick, according to Leadership Journal, was a brave and strong young lady. She waded into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean on a July morning in 1952, to do something no woman had ever done—swim the twenty-six mile stretch of water between Catalina Island and the California coast. She was a veteran of long-distance swimming, but that July swim in the Pacific presented come terrific challenges: sharks were trailing her and had to be driven off several times. A fog then settled on the channel. Florence swam for fifteen hours before taking her last stroke. She was tired, cold, and discouraged. And she couldn’t see the shoreline. Shortly after being dragged into the boat it was discovered that Florence was less than a mile from the shoreline. Florence failed her challenge because she lost sight of the goal. As followers of Jesus, we have a goal set before us—being made into the likeness of Jesus (see Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18). All-too-often, I get distracted and lose sight of the goal. God knows this tendency is …

Can People Tell You Have Been With Jesus?

In the beginning of Acts 4, we can see that the temple guard and the Sadducees were greatly disturbed due to the fact that the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. I can always remember who the Sadducees were by a little trick I learned from a book: “The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection and thus they were sad, you see?” In fact, they were so disturbed by this teaching that they put Peter and John in jail until the next day. On the next day, they begin to question Peter and John, “By what power or what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7). In this question, the Sadducees are referring to Peter’s healing of a lame beggar in chapter 3. Peter goes on to answer them, saying: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” – Acts 4:10-11 …

This Week For Sunday

Schedules get crazy during the holidays.  Due to vacation, commitments, and general holiday chaos, I had to miss six out of seven weeks at Southern Hills.  I was surprised at how much this time away from my SoHill family affected me.  I felt this general malaise in my spirit that I really couldn’t put my finger on.  I didn’t go on a crime spree and I didn’t kick my dog, but there was this heaviness that I could feel and a difference that was quite tangible.  Sometimes “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone” is very true!  And time away from God’s body showed me how vitally important it is to my spiritual walk.   We receive spiritual covering and correction by listening to God’s message for us.  It challenges us and motivates us.  Sometimes it holds our feet to the fire, but it is through the fire that we are shaped and molded. Spending time with our fellow believers provides us with the connection we need to take the next step the Lord …

Are You Ready to be a Pastor?

“Are you ready to be a pastor?” That’s the question Corey asked me when I walked into his office 4 years ago to sign my contract. I was officially accepting the role of Preschool Pastor and stepping into the world of vocational ministry. I was so excited to be leading a ministry I had been serving in for the past 6 years. I love working with kids and was looking forward to the opportunity to use my education experience in a church environment. However, I wasn’t expecting that question from Corey and it threw me for a loop. I tried not to let it show on the outside, but those of you who know me know that my face doesn’t lie. “Ummm… no. A pastor? I didn’t graduate from Bible college. I don’t hold a degree from seminary. I don’t know what to say to people at funeral homes. I’m not even really good at memorizing scripture.” Some of that was internal monolog, but other parts I said out loud to him. I kind of …