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2/27/13

SEX

I thought that title might get your attention.  Bill Hybels once said, "There are three topics I can preach on that I'm guaranteed will draw a crowd...Sex, End Times and will there be sex in the End Times?".  That little three-letter word packs a wallop.  It turns some heads, grabs some people's attention, makes a few really squeamish, but seldom has no response at all.  SEX gets your attention.

The power of sex cannot be overstated.  Recently, I have been reading some statistics regarding sex and  our sexual activity in the U.S.  They are amazing, eye-opening and disgusting, all at the same time.  The Church points to culture, pointing a harsh finger, but there are a few fingers that need to be pointed back at the church.  By either our silence on the subject, or our party-line of "Just Don't Do It!", we are complicit with the magnitude of the mess.

Someone once said, "Every bad thing is a good thing perverted".  That was never more true than in the area of human sexuality.

Let me unpack some of the damage that is being done, two of the biggest lies our society is falling for that have had the biggest negative impact on people's ability to lead healthy, happy, fulfilled lives...and how God's Word offers practical help to expose the darkness to the light and give help and hope to your life, your marriage and your home.

Join us this Sunday as we continue, LOVE, SEX & HAPPILY EVER AFTER... with The Big Lie.

2/22/13

LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD, PT. 2

Last week, we looked at some key mistakes that people make to sabotage our ability to have lasting, loving relationships, as well as some keys to make sure our present and future relationships have a chance to go the distance.  This week, we'll pick up where we left off.  But, this time we'll take it up a notch.

This Sunday we'll look at what God has to say that may just be the most important key to not just falling in love, but staying in love for a lifetime.  I don't think I'm overstating it when I say, this could be life-changing.  If you want to have a marriage that lasts a lifetime, DO NOT MISS IT!

See you Sunday!

2/21/13

GIVING GOD THE TIME OF DAY

I'm writing my blog a little later than usual.  However, what's later than usual may become the usual in the days to come.  I realized something...My writing time was cutting into my praying time.  My talking to you was taking precedence over my talking to God.  I didn't kill my prayer life, it just infringed upon it.

I was reminded recently, of the important and the power and the absolute necessity of prayer.  I think most of us would agree with #1 and #2, but would, at best, give lip-service to #3...the absolute necessity of prayer.  Most would easily agree its important and powerful, but absolutely necessary?  That's a bit of a stretch.

What happens when we're faced with the dilemma of prayer or work, prayer or breakfast, prayer or sleep, prayer or productivity?  In most of those cases, prayer usually gets relegated back to the important and powerful, but not the absolutely necessary.

Martin Luther once said, "I have so many things to do today, I must spend 3 hours in prayer".  Just the opposite of what most of us would say.

Here's the question for you: Do you believe, in some forms, the power of God is released in you only through prayer...through asking and receiving?  Do you believe that there are some things that will only be accomplished through prayer and nothing else?  If so, is there any more important activity that you will engage in on any given day than to spend time with God in prayer?  

Here's my prayer for you today: "Lord, I pray you will convict everyone who reads these words that prayer is as necessary to life as the oxygen we breathe.  Make it an absolute necessity in our lives."
Amen!

2/20/13

EUREKA

Do you ever have those "Eureka" moments in life?  Those times when the lightbulb goes on.  When you want to hit your forehead and go, "Why didn't I see that till now?"  Maybe for you they're "duh" moments.  Moments of sudden clarity, when something comes into focus...finally.  When you suddenly "Get it"!

Eureka is an interesting word.  One of my favorites.  It comes from a Greek word that sounds a little like e-hu-rees-ko....EUREKA!  It means, "to find".  Like, suddenly, out of the dark, possibly by total surprise, I find something.  Maybe something I've been looking for.  Maybe not.  Maybe something I thought I had found, only to discover I hadn't...but, now I have.

I LOVE eureka moments in life.  When out of the blue something crystalizes and becomes absolutely, unmistakably clear.  Sometimes, they can be a little scary.  I think to myself, what if I didn't have this moment.  What if the universe hadn't lined up properly, I hadn't read this chapter or heard this person or scripture hadn't come alive like never before...and I'd gone on in my theretofore ignorance.  That "What if" can be a little frightening.

You've got to be ready for the eureka moments in life, or you'll miss them.  They'll pass you by.  Every moment of your life you must live with an openness to the fact that God may be about to use any source He sees fit to teach you an unbelievable life lesson...at any time, at any place, through any source (remember Balaam...God used his donkey to teach him).

Yesterday, I had a eureka moment.  I was listening to a guy preach on a passage I would be preaching on this Sunday.  I was just looking for a little help, a little insight into the scripture, or maybe a new tilt on an old passage.  What I got was eureka.  I had to call my wife, sit her down, share my new-found understanding and confess to her..."That's me!  I'm that guy!  That's what I've done for the past 30-something years in our marriage....and before that.  It makes sense.  I get it!  Wow!".  

Ever been there?  Well, if you've got things all figured out, don't expect much.  But, if you realize there's more out there that you don't know than what you do, and you're open and desiring to learn it, expect God's eureka moments.  But, one warning: Expect them when you least expect them.  Just sayin'.

2/19/13

THE CHURCH IN AMERICA

We like to think of ourselves as a Christian nation, even though our President likes to go abroad and announce to the world that we aren't.  However, a recent study may lend credence to such a pronouncement.

For years, Gallup polls have indicated that about 40% of the American populace attend a Christian Church on a regular basis.   A new study, done by the Director of Church Planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church indicates that on any given Sunday the percentage of Americans in a Christian Church is actually closer to 20%.  Taking into consideration population growth patterns and declining Church attendance trends, the study estimates that if projections continue on this track, that by 2050, only about 12% of Americans will attend a Christian Church on any given Sunday.

Those statistics are sobering.  So, we ask the logical question, "Why?".  One answer may be helpful.  The oldest churches and denominations have shown the greatest decline.  In essence, they have failed to adjust to a generation who wants less liturgy and more relationship with Christ.  The Church in America, for the most part, has failed to be relevant to a people who demand relevance.  And, sadly enough, the Bible...the book God has given us to guide us and to be our NorthStar is unbelievably relevant.

What should we draw from this study?

1.  America is a great Mission Field.  What Jesus said has never been more true for us, "..the fields are white for harvest.  Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the fields".  (that's you and me)

2.  If we can't find lost or unchurched people in our lives, we're just not trying.  We need to venture outside our little Christian cocoons.

3. As busy as Americans are with everything they deem necessary, they are jettisoning everything they deem unnecessary.  The Church must make itself, not only relevant, but essential.

4.  We have to be the Church 24/7.  If the world doesn't see a difference in us, they will have no desire to be a part of something that only matter one hour a week.

So, go and BE the Church today...and tomorrow.  BE the difference.

2/18/13

INNOCULATIONS

In early March, I'm taking a vision trip to Haiti.  Our Missions Pastor and I will travel there for several days and see what Mission of Hope, Haiti is doing and if it's something God is calling us to join in.  One of the things you have to do before you travel to such an under-developed country as Haiti is acquire all the proper inoculations.  That's shots for the less literate.

Interesting how most inoculations work.  They take the virus or bacteria that they want to protect you against...a small amount, sometimes live, sometimes dead...and shoot it into your bloodstream.  Then your body goes to work and your own immune system builds up the necessary antibodies to fight off what it's been tricked into thinking you have contracted.  Rather than the whole disease or the live disease, you get just enough to fool your body into thinking, "I've had this before, no problem".  Then when you're exposed to the real thing, your body just kind of goes, "Yeah, I've seen this before.  No, thanks".  It's the big Fake Out. And it works.  (At least, I'm certainly hoping it works)

For disease control, I think inoculations are great.  We're surrounded by people who have been inoculated to a number of things.  One of them is not so good, however.  Every day, we encounter hundreds of people all around us who have been inoculated to the gospel.  They've been introduced to just a tiny portion of the truth of the gospel, or in many cases, they've been injected with something that sounds similar to the gospel, but is dead and sterile and useless, only to see them build up a resistance to the real thing.

For many, their resistance has come from being surrounded by too many "self-professed Christians".  What these people call Christianity is far from the real deal.  It's more of a dead virus than the living Good News.  It mainly comes in judgements, bigotry, condescension and rule-keeping.  Far from the living, life-changing grace of God.  But, that's what they've heard and that's what they've see...Just enough to build up a resistance and to know whatever this thing is, they don't want to catch.

What's the answer?  They have got to hear the real Good News above all the fake stuff.  They must be exposed to the real love of God so strongly that it overwhelms and overrides their inoculations.  They desperately need to "catch it".  The real thing.  Not the dead virus...the Living Word.  Please, before you speak, rather than simply railing against the newest bad thing that pushes your personal buttons, stop, and see beyond what you don't like to what God loves and share God's love and God's hope to a loveless, hopeless world.

2/16/13

CAUSE FOR CONCERN...CALL FOR ACTION

One of the ways our government is considering dealing with the financial hole we have dug for our selves into is to limit the tax deduction for our charitable donations.  If I thought this was being done to do something about our National Debt, I might, at least, have some sort of compulsion to try and understand.  But, it's not.  It's simply a means to raise revenues (that's the new code word for taxes) to fund the enormous programs that the administration outlined this week.

Of all the things to stick a fork into, why would we choose the one good thing Americans do...give generously to charities.  Isn't that behavior we would want to reward, not punish?  In a recent article, it was summed up like this...


Results of a recent national study conducted by Dunham and Company show that the American public are strongly against the proposed cap on charitable deductions. Sixty-one percent of Americans polled feel strongly against capping current tax reductions. Nine percent strongly disagree. Only 20 percent believe such caps will help America's national debt.
The House of Representatives is set to discuss such a cap this week. President and CEO of Dunham and Company Rick Dunham said that, "regardless of household income, education, age, race, or gender, Americans do not want the deduction to be hurt in any way as Congress and the administration debate how best to deal with our national budget crisis."
Executive editor of The Christian Post called the proposed cap "a dagger aimed at the heart of America's charities."
"All Americans concerned about the enormous danger that would be done by such a reckless and short-sighted policy should take time from their holiday activities to contact their elected representatives in Washington and tell them to cease and desist from such malignant foolishness,"
wrote Land in December.


I believe that if this is not stopped at this point, in the future the only charity Americans will be able to fund is the Federal Government.  I think a few calls are in order.  Speak now..of forever hold your regrets.

2/14/13

THE EASTER PROJECT

Are you a project person?  I know guys who build boats in their backyards and airplanes in their garages.  I know women who always have a project going, whether its painting the Living Room a new shade of whatever, to making new curtains for the Bedroom to refinishing that piece of furniture that's was sitting by the side of the road.

You can fill in your own story.  Some people thrive on projects.  Some people just married people who thrive on them, and thus, get sucked in.  Some people actually need them, or else they would never get anything done.

My son was recently talking about a guy he knows and likes, but who is extremely antagonistic to organized religion, and thus, to Christ and His Church.  They've developed a friendship and enjoy spending time together, so rather than being turned off by his anti-Christian rants, or just changing the subject to save the friendship, he's made this guy his Project.

He purposely spends time with him, listens to his objections, often agrees with them, offers another side of things, draws lines of demarkation between religion and a relationship with Christ...but, mostly, just loves the guy and doesn't run away when the subject of faith comes up.

That's the kind of Project every believer needs.  Can you imagine if every Christ-follower had just 1 Project person in their life intentionally.  Just to love them and show them Christ and offer perspectives they may never have considered, but most of all, just hang in there when running in the other direction seems a lot simpler.

Here's a challenge for you:  Intentionally take on an Easter Project...a person you know, and hopefully even like, but who is lost.  If you don't know any lost people, then you need to get busy and find one.  They're everywhere...at your kid's school, at the gym, at the grocery store, on your block, in your classroom...everywhere.

Your Project:  Hang out with them.  Talk to them.  Play golf with them.  Have a Play Date with your kids.  Be to them what Jesus would be if He was here in the flesh.

Your Goal:  Get them to church this Easter.  It's the easiest invite ever.  It's just a one-shot thing.  No long-term commitment.  One hour...One day...One time.  Can you handle that?  I'll be asking you.  This will be our secret.  You don't say, "Hey, you're my Easter Project".  I assumed you knew that, but I try to never assume.  If you like, shoot me their name and I'll pray for both of you.  (tom@crosspointchurch.tv)  This could be fun...and life-changing!

2/13/13

STATE OF THE UNION

I watched the State of the Union Address from the President last night, as I commonly do.  There were many things I agreed with and many things I disagreed with...your typical Address.  But, of all the things that were said, one stood out to me more than any other.

The President shared of the great accomplishment of trimming over $2 trillion off the nation's deficit.  Later in the same speech, he shared how in only a few month's the nation would be faced, once again, with exceeding its Debt Ceiling.  If compromises were not reached, automatic spending cuts would go into effect.

OK, wait.  I'm not a numbers guy.  I'm more of a words guy.  But, I'm confused.  If, indeed, we have trimmed $2 trillion off of our National Debt, then why are we facing the impending catastrophe of automatic slashing of funding to programs due to exceeding our Debt Ceiling?  Which is it?  Did we cut and slash and save and put a dent in our deficit or did we spend like there's no tomorrow and are actually in worse shape than ever before?  It can't be both.  It has to be one or the other.

What I failed to calculate is that the President was speaking a different language than myself.  Let me be clear (even if he is not), this language is not indigenous to this president alone.  Not even limited to presidents.  It's politico-english.  In politico-english, if you create 20,000 jobs, but loose 50,000 more overseas, you just added 20,000.  If you cut $100,000 billion of waste out of your budget, but added $500,000 billion of pork, you simply cut $100,000 billion.  If you cut the deficit by $2 trillion, but are about to exceed your Debt Ceiling, then you simply are the guy on the white horse that cut $2 trillion.
That's politico-english at work.  No need to translate.  Just take it at face value.

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue.  Not a Liberal or Conservative issue.  It's just a reality of our political system, and one that assumes an ignorant public that will never say, "Wait, those things don't add up!".

So, why is the average American swimming in debt with their noses barely above water?  Because we've learned our economic lessons, not from our parents, but from our politicians.  When did BALANCE become a dirty word?  As in a BALANCED BUDGET?  As in a BALANCED APPROACH that doesn't assume that throwing money at every problem is either helpful or, indeed, the source of the problem.

Maybe we should just try plain old English again.  I know...that's a crazy thought.

2/12/13

IT'S THAT WEEK!

Actually, the title should read, IT'S THAT WEEK!  GUYS: Consider this your warning.  VALENTINES DAY is this week.  Do with that information whatever you feel is appropriate.  But know, you've been warned.

Now, listen carefully...this may save your life...even if your wife says Valentine's Day is stupid...Valentine's Day is a evil plan hatched by Hallmark & Florists of the world who have conspired to guilt you into purchasing their products...even if she says she hates red...even if she says, "Don't even think another thought about that stupid day", and you're sure you, unlike every other man, have found the perfect woman...HOLD YOUR PROVERBIAL HORSES!

Do not fall for this.  Do not allow yourself to be sucked in.  Be "wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove", (yes, Jesus was particularly talking about Valentine's Day when he uttered these words...little known fact, but true).

Marriage is hard.  What makes it really hard is when it's made up of a woman and a man.  (Although, I highly recommend that's the make-up you go with).  No matter how many books you read, conferences you attend, or studies you do, you will never completely understand one another.  It's just not a possibility.  You can get better.  You can get clues.  You can understand a few things.  But, just when you think you've got it all figured out, here comes the curve ball.  It's frustrating, but it keeps you on your toes.

Here's Uncle Tom's words of wisdom to the guys, "I don't care what she says, DO SOMETHING!"  What you do is not as important as doing something.  At the very least, get a card.  Let me even help you with that:

1.  Do not wait till THAT DAY to make your purchase
2.  Do not purchase the first one you pick up (even though the first one is always mysteriously the
     perfect one.  Amazing.)
3.  Do not simply sign your name.  You have to write something.  Anything.  But, definitely something.
     If you're totally stumped, try "With all my love".  Can't go wrong with that.
4.  When signing, do not include your last name.  I won't explain that one.  Just trust me.  First-name
     basis is pretty standard.

Trust me, I'm only trying to help.  If you question my wisdom, I'll show you my scars.  Have a great week!  No need to thank me.

2/8/13

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD

LOOK BACK
Debt is not a sin, but it is a form of SLAVERY.  Here's a little-known statistic that may curl your toes.  The AVERAGE AMERICAN spends $600,000 over a lifetime in INTEREST.  $600,000...what could you do with an extra $600,000?  This is just in INTEREST.  Where does interest come from?  Debt.  No debt, no interest.  No debt...put an extra $600,000 in your pocket.  Not a bad payoff.

What do you get for an interest payment?  NOTHING.  It's just like flushing $600,000 down the toilet. You get exactly the same benefit.  Think about it.

LOOK FORWARD
Sunday begins a brand new series...LOVE, SEX & HAPPILY EVER AFTER...  We'll be taking some really practical looks at what it takes to make relationships work.  Our culture is Relationally-Challenged.  Dating is tough, marriages don't work, and those that do aren't very satisfying.  But, God is a relational God and created us in His image to be relational people.  So...there's hope and help to be found in God's Word.

Whether you're preparing for a someday marriage, hoping for another chance at marriage with a better result this time, trying to save a troubled marriage or just hoping to make a good marriage better, LOVE, SEX & HAPPILY EVER AFTER has something just for you.

Starting this Sunday, February 10th!

2/7/13

THINK JERICHO, IN REVERSE

     If you remember the story of Jericho, there's one key part to remember that sums up everything...and the walls came tumbling down.  OK, now think of that in reverse.  That's what's happening today...if the weather cooperates.  The walls are going up!  

     The big, bad crane is in place and ready to start pulling each panel that's been poured right on top of the foundation off and set them in place.  One by one, they'll be come together to miraculously create the form of a building.  Hopefully, by the end of the weekend, all the walls will be up and a big empty lot will take on the shape of a new Crosspoint Campus.

     Pretty amazing!  Pretty exciting!  It's happening!

2/6/13

GRIFFIN'S BIG DAY

What you got going today?  Today they begin to erect the walls at our new campus.  By the end of the week, we'll see buildings standing where nothing was just a few days removed.  That's pretty big...but not the biggest deal of my day.

The power is out at the Old Alvin Campus, so we must all work from home.  Big deal, but not that big.

The big news today is that GRIFFIN WILSON ALLEN will make his debut performance on the world's stage.  For those without a scorecard, that's grandchild #6 for Tom & Susan.  We have now surpassed our basketball team and are moving in the direction of a baseball squad.  Then we'll start working on a football team, I suppose.

I'm looking forward to meeting this young man, as are his parents and brothers (although, I think one is still in denial...reality will set in soon enough).  Ah, Mr. Griffin, you have no idea how blessed you are, how loved you are and how lucky you are to be born into such a wonderful family.  Your dad is a stud, your mom is a major cutie and your brothers...well, let's just say you should learn to defend yourself sooner rather than later.  Just sayin'.  A word to the wise.  This is not a group of girly-boys.  Be prepared to run, jump, catch, be tackled, get scraped and possibly spend some time in the Urgent Care Center.  (there's an Allen Room there)

You're life will be a lot of things, but dull will not be one of them.  Toughen up, Griff.  But, if the going gets a little tough, Papi and Yaya always have a lap to chill on.


2/5/13

BALANCED

I know, you thought that series was over.  Well, you're right.  The series is over.  But, the need for BALANCE is a never ending struggle.  Yesterday, I was cleaning out my Inbox. (Waaaaay too many emails.  I have a tendency to be an email hoarder.  You never know when you might need that!)  But, as usual, I digress.  In doing so, I found a very disturbing email from the Finance guy.  Here was its contents:

5% (27 families) account for 35% of total giving
10% (53 families) account for 54% of total giving 
20% (107 families) account for 76% of total giving

I don't know...does that sound like BALANCE to you?  It might if we were flush with a group of Millionaires.  Maybe we are, but I doubt it.  I've always heard about the 80/20 Rule.  20% of the people do 80% of the work.  20% of the people give 80% of the money.  It appears to be about right on the money (pun intended).

It might be a rule, but it's definitely not a standard of health. What does it say?  It says that, as a church, we're out of BALANCE.  It says that, as a church, a few are highly committed and are carrying the load for the many.  It says that a huge percentage of folks in our church do not make God a priority in their finances.  That's the tough one.  

Look at the priorities of your finances and put God at the #1 spot.  That's where He demands to be.  That's where He deserves to be.  HE'S GOD.

2/4/13

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU LAUGH AT

My grandson, Luke, got his foot caught in a hammock at a Super Bowl Party (1st Qtr., of course) and took a header, splitting open his chin...really good.   So, we spent the second half of the game with them at the Emergency Care Clinic..  They had to knock him out to sew him up.

The hard part was not laughing as he was trying to wake up.  It was one of those times when you have to forbid yourself from pulling out the iPhone camera and putting it on video, because you're not sure what's going to happen next, but you're pretty sure it's either going to be really funny or totally embarrassing later.  However, I refused to succumb to the temptation.  It's only a memory to cherish (and share publicly at totally inappropriate times) in the future.  Till he threw-up, it was hilarious, though.

All weekend, I've had this shooting pain between my shoulder blade and my spine.  As the weekend wore on, rather than getting better, it got worse.  It just spread around the side and hurt when I took deep breaths.  So, last night I finally gave in a took half of a muscle relaxer.  Man...am I relaxed....

It took me a while to figure out what that infernal beeping was this morning.  Oh, yeah.  That's the alarm.  The same one that goes off every morning.  Then there was the perp walk to the bathroom.  Who relocated this thing during the night?  

I'm into my third cup of coffee now.  Susan...she must have used decaf!  NOT funny.  I'm in a...noth...er land.  I don't really like it here.  Maybe I shouldn't have laughed at Luke.  And I'm about to drive to work.  Watch out for my truck.  I think it's black.  Pretty sure.  

2/1/13

BALANCED

For the last three weeks, I've been talking about creating and maintaining BALANCE in our financial lives.  BALANCE is a tricky thing.  I've heard people talk about feelings of discomfort about giving and people talk about feelings of discomfort about spending.  While I believe that Jesus did, indeed, come to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, I really don't believe his main purpose was our discomfort about all things financial in our lives.

This Sunday, we're going to wrap it all up in a ball and put a bow on it.  We'll look at a very simple plan that will make this easy and all make perfect sense.  Very easy, very simple, very understandable, very doable.  The only problem we may incur is doing it.  And the only thing holding us back would be, not a financial issue, but a heart issue.  Who's #1?  That's the question.  Who's #1?  And, the big problem...there can only be one #1.

So, who's #1 with you?