All posts tagged: church

Dive In! The Water Is Great!

This past summer, I went to this place called Foster Falls, which is an eighty-foot water fall pouring into a swimming hole. When we arrived, there were a couple of guys at the top of the water fall ready to jump into the pool below. The first couple of guys jumped without hesitation, but there was this one guy who wouldn’t budge. You could tell he was scared! The guys who jumped were hyping up the guy. They were shouting encouragements, affirmations of the water’s depth, telling him it wouldn’t hurt, you name it. After a few minutes the guy at the top took the plunge, and when he resurfaced, he screamed with excitement. All the guys cheered hysterically! I believe this is what the church is supposed to look like. A lot of people aren’t too sure about this whole Jesus thing. They have seen people jump off the cliff through baptism, serving, or giving, but still they don’t trust the water. Is it true? Is there really freedom and forgiveness? Is it possible …

Is Church More Than Entertainment for You?

Football games, movies, game nights, conferences, concerts, and other events tend to bring us together. We really like to sit back and watch, and it seems like whatever problems plagued us before take a back seat to the entertainment. Sometimes we allow the church to become this. We get up on Sunday mornings, come to a building, and watch “church” happen. We can watch the sermon like we watch Netflix. We review the service on a scale of our own personal preference. But when it’s over, our problems come flooding back and we are rarely changed. If your team wins or loses the big game, you will remember it for a few weeks. If you really enjoy a show on Netflix, you might binge-watch it, cry a few times, and even remember a few quotes—but next month you will have moved on to something else. Likewise, if you watch the church instead of being the church, don’t expect anything to change in your life. If you have been united to Christ through faith, God has …

The Wedding You Don’t Want To Miss

Weddings. They come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Some take months to plan; some are spur-of-the-moment. Some are loud and filled with laughter; others are more reserved and reflective. But there is a common factor in most weddings: tears. Bridesmaids cry (I think I understand this one). Brides cry (I don’t understand this). Grooms cry (Well, at least one that I know of, but Shannon cries at anything!). Mothers-of-the-bride cry (I’ve heard it is because daughters tend to marry a man like their father; I don’t agree.). And fathers-of-the-bride cry; sometimes visibly, often only in the soul (I totally understand this). There is a special bond between most dads and daughters. A wedding marks the day all that changes. When the pastor asks, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?,” the father of the bride says, “Her mother and I.”  He then literally an figuratively steps back to place his daughter’s hand into the hand of the groom. The father is no longer the most important man in her life, someone …

Are You Moved to Action and Love?

When we think about our church, different pictures probably come to mind. Maybe the time you got baptized in front of our family comes to mind. Maybe you think about Andrew Hicks standing on his toes as he strums his guitar. Maybe you see the faces of those in your small group. Maybe your nose curls a little as you think of the smell of Wunder Way sneaking into the lobby. I hope when you think of the church, you also think of passion, compassion, love, and unity. The Greek word for passion means suffering, an undergoing, an enduring. In light of this definition, think how that impacts the picture of “The Passion of Christ.” It’s odd to think of the church in this way: suffering, enduring pain. You might not be struggling or in pain, but your brother or sister next to you most likely is. Compassion in the Greek means to be moved, to meet. As a church, we are called to love our neighbor, meeting and loving them where they are. Is …

Acting as the Church God Had In Mind

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. – Acts 2:1-6 This text in Acts was the very beginning of something supernatural; God’s design for the church took on its fullness that day in Jerusalem. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter and the others preached the gospel in the native languages of everyone present. It happened on the steps of the temple, then moved throughout all of Israel, Judea, and to the ends of …

Just One Part of the Body of Christ, the Church

Sunday I had the honor of baptizing my two sons, Ethan and Eli. I spoke briefly during the baptism about how proud Kari and I were to be able to baptize our children into the church. I spoke of how I was aware that we as parents didn’t get to this point with our children completely by ourselves. We relied on the church family both at Southern Hills Christian Church and the greater church to help guide, teach,  and lead our boys to a personal relationship with Christ. The boys have had the fortune of growing up in the church, spending many summers at Woodland Christian Camp, going on several mission trips to Nicaragua, and spending years at Southern Hills in our All Stars, 456, and Fusion programs. All along the way, they have had caring adults pouring into them.  Ethan has experienced immeasurable growth during his time with his current small group. His leader Mike Jacquinot has connected with him in ways I never could, even as his father. I didn’t know when I was …

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

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 …

Profound Truths Learned in Simple Moments

Have you ever been doing something insignificant and in that moment God speaks? We recently took a little weekend trip down to Savannah to visit some family and spend some time on the beach. I wish you could have seen how excited my boys were to be on the beach. They wanted to be buried in the sand, build sand castles, chase seagulls, play in the water, and take sand baths. We did it all! However, once we started to build the sand castle, the boys quickly wanted to move on to something else. So, I ended up building the majority of this massive sand castle by myself. Every 10 to 15 minutes the boys would come check my progress and do just enough damage to think they were helping. In the midst of all that, God reminded me of several truths. To be restored, one must break first. Our lives are just like the walls of a sand castle. At first, it’s frustrating how often the walls cave in. However, every time a wall would fall, I …

We Believe in the Church

Have you heard it said, “Oh, I’m a Christian, I’m just not a big fan of the church,” or “I love Jesus, but I’m not into church,” or “I don’t need to be in the church to be a Christian”?  Maybe family members come to mind or friend groups have said things like this before or maybe you are that person. When you really reflect on statements like these, it becomes clear how false they truly are. When someone says, “I don’t need to be in the church to be a Christian,” I sort of understand where he is coming from. In some sense it is true, my salvation has nothing to do with my church attendance. According to scripture, salvation comes by grace alone.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”  Galatians 2:16 says, “Yet we know that a …