Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Soul Violence

Discussing the idea of Soul Cravings over lunch at CIU last week, another young missionary brought up the idea of Soul Violence. It really resonated with me as I am wading through the idea of the universal needs of the soul. I am not even sure that I can really unpack it all right now, but I really think there is something powerful in the words Soul Violence.

I know that we are born into sin. It is unavoidable. But there are many people out there who are not only separated from God but they cannot conceive that the Christian god can fill any the needs of their souls.

A friend who served 10 years ministering in France and North Africa, said that a suitcase full of Bibles smuggled into Morocco would be gone in two hours. But distributing them in "open" France might take two years. We often talk about countries in the Muslim world as closed access countries because there is no access for them to obtain a Bible. But what do you call a country where culture has made the Bible so irrelevant that even though it is legal to own, only 5% of the population own a Bible (yes, only 5% of French people own a Bible).

What has happened to their soul? I am still thinking through this and will write more on the topic, but I would love your thoughts.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Soul Cravings

After several trips to France, I began to notice something about French people. In spite of their Frenchness they seem to share some universal needs with other westerners. As I shared some of these thoughts with pastors I used words like meaning, purpose, relationship and hope. I am so convinced that these intrinsic needs are crucial to reaching the emerging generation in France. I began to develop a vision based filling these needs.

At the Ethos Conference in New York City at the end of November, I listened to Erwin McManus share the background to his new new book Soul Cravings. He said he believed that there were 3 soul cravings in every human. We all have a need for Intimacy, Relationship, and Destiny. I was blown away. He described exactly what I had discovered in my survey trips in France. He is smarter than me though, so it sounded better when he said it.

I have been reading the book and it is fantastic. These three soul cravings must serve as a starting point to reach people. Intimacy, Meaning and Destiny are woven throughout every great piece of literature or movie. Even the best marketing includes these cravings in order to truly resonate with people. The church must also speak to these same soul cravings if it wishes to see God fill the longings that He created.

Maybe I should just adopt Erwin's language. Why recreate the wheel.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

C3 Conference for Free

I would really love to have been at the C3 Conference in Dallas last week. They had an awesome line-up of speakers. I know I would have been really challenged if I had canceled the trip to the CIU Missions Conference, saved up some cash, bought a plane ticket and a hotel, and headed down to be in the room with these great leaders.

Instead, I did the next best thing. I got the conference for Free (my favorite price by the way) from the Blogosphere. Check out some great notes from the NewSpring guys Perry Noble and Tony Morgan. I learned a lot and was really challenged just reading the notes.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Back in School

I love college. I love to go back and hang out in a college environment. I feel (or maybe 'act') much younger than my 38 years probably because I was in grad school until I was 32.

I have been in Columbia, SC at CIU (Columbia Int'l University) since Tuesday working with Avant's recruiting ministry. I love doing this because I love talking to college students. This week has been a great time hearing the passion of these kids. CIU is a great school with a genuine heart for the world outside of our borders. Anytime I was talking to a group of students, I could count on the fact that more than half of them were planning to go to the mission field. I even met a guy named Chris who knew a guy named Ricardo who is trying to get back to France. I ran into Chris later and he happened to be on the phone giving my contact info to Ricardo. I stopped and talked to Ricardo on the phone and found out that he really resonates with our vision for innovation and the arts in church in France. God never ceases to amaze me at how He networks His people for His purpose.

Tomorrow I will head back to Raleigh. Can't wait to see my Bride and my kids.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Met the Mad Babbler

Since I am in Columbia, SC at the CIU missions conference this week, I thought I would take the opportunity to go meet Gary Lamb while I was in the neighborhood (only 8hr round trip). I love this guy. He has such a heart for the lost and he is reaching a lot of them through Ridge Stone Church. He is real and genuine and a bit raw. He says it like he thinks it. He came to Christ from a wild life chasing a girl to church and has never looked back. His background has given him an incredible ability to connect the lost in his community to new life in Christ.

His top piece of advice was to be yourself. It sounds easy but I know that it is a big problem in the church. It is interesting how churches that are really reaching people have pastors that people refer to as real and genuine.

Hero gets 2nd : (

Gina got 2nd overall female in her latest 5k race this past weekend. In the picture she is the one in white. The girl behind her ended up winning :(. Gina did great for a 39 year old, but she doesn't care about age groups. Overall is all that counts. In reality Gina had a great 5k considering that she is training a lot on the track for the 1500.

The other great thing was that our France team was here this weekend for a retreat and they all got to come out and watch Gina race. It was great for them to experience something that is so important to Gina.

The team had a great time reconnecting and working on things like team values and team branding. We are working on a new website, but for now you can at least look at our team blog for more information at

Also, if you haven't already, check out the stories on our France and our support raising experiences on the Avant Website.

French Revolution: Why France? Why Now? (Cover story)

Flight Delay

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Notes from Erwin McManus

Here are some more and better notes on Erwin McManus' sessions at the recent church growth conference in Raleigh, NC by JD Greear. He is a much better note taker than I am.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Revolution Must Take Place

I had a chance to hear Erwin McManus speak at a S. Baptist Church Growth conference today in Raleigh. I am always so inspired when I hear him speak. I though I would share some notes that I took:

-He had no idea how you could access a Bible before he met Christ.

-Is church a place to entertain and placate Christians or to engage the world?

-All of the problems that he had with people when the church was going through transition were people who didn’t bring anybody with them.

-You don’t have to program a value.

-The church isn’t here for us. We are the church and we are here for the world.

-Fellowship in most churches is like walking in on two people making out. It’s intimate, but somehow you fell like you shouldn’t be there.

-We often think that people are closed to Jesus when they really just don’t understand what we are saying.

-We are prophets of the unknown God.

-Our job is not to feed the sheep but to make them hungry so they can feed themselves.

-Most Christians are Bulimic.

-We have to tell people that we are a church because they won’t see it from the way we live. He said that he doesn’t have to say “hi, I am Erwin the human.”

-Some things are worth doing even if you fail. Sometimes you might be the inspiration someone else needs to succeed.

-We are the proof of God.

-People have not stopped coming to church because they don’t want to hear the truth. They have stopped coming because they don’t think that we are telling the truth.

-We have lost our ability to communicate effectively to an unbelieving world.

-Whoever asks the questions leads the conversation.

-People are open to God, they just aren’t open to being preached at.

-Perseverance is always necessary as it relates to your character but not necessarily as it relates to your task.

-Theological education often leads to liberalism because it ultimately takes us away from the heart of God.

-He did and awesome little game where he said to yell out Christian or Seeker as the target of scripture when he reads it. He mentioned the “Peter, feed my sheep passage.” Almost everybody in the room said Christian (for the record I said “seeker” - really). He then pointed out that Peter went to minister to the lost not the Christians. If Jesus expected him to minister to Christians then he totally went against Jesus’ command. He Then he said the word “discipleship” and the audience was split. He pointed out that the nations, whom we were commanded to make disciples of in the great commission, were not already Christian.

In a church planters Q&A after he spoke at the conference he talked very honestly about the difficult time he has had over the past 2 years. He talked about the enormous negative and false things that are said about him on the internet even including physical threats. After he son began to see more of the things being said about his dad his son told him “the revolution must take place.”

Friday, February 09, 2007

Rocky Balboa - Mid-life Crisis Inspiration

My wife and I saw Rocky Balboa last night for date night (it was her idea, my wife rocks). It was really a great movie especially after the "Rocky V" disaster. Anyway it was also great inspiration for people, lets just say "past their prime," like us. I have included some great quotes in 2 catagories.

Wisdom from the Italian Stallion:

Rocky Balboa: Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!

Rocky Balboa: You know I think you try harder when your scared... That's when it's worked best for me.

Proof that Boxing causes Brain Damage:

Rocky Balboa: Come on Paulie, we're about to serve the special.
Paulie: Italian food made by Mexicans ain't that special.

Rocky Balboa: I think every guy should at one time try to name an animal or something.

Marie: His father was from Jamaica.
Rocky Balboa: Jamaica... European(thinking Jamaica s in Europe)... Was you on a cruise ship or somethin' ?

Rocky Balboa: Yo, don't I got some rights?
Boxing Commissioner: What rights do you think you're referring to?
Rocky Balboa: Rights, like in that official piece of paper they wrote down the street there?
Boxing Commissioner: That's the Bill of Rights.
Rocky Balboa: Yeah, yeah. Bill of Rights. Don't it say something about going after what makes you happy?
Boxing Commissioner: No, that's the pursuit of happiness. But what's your point
Rocky Balboa: My point is I'm pursuing something and nobody looks too happy about it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Do You Know Kobe Bryant?

Who says, "it's not who you know?" Who says, "technology is overrated?" Who says, "blogging is a wast of time?" Who says, "it's not important what you name your kids?"...

Well just ask Tadd Grandstaff, an up and coming church planter who has found a new and creative way to advertise. You must go to his sight and read for yourself. You couldn't make up a story like this.

I love it when God uses the world to advertise for Himself.

(This post was copied verbatim from my wife's blog. She is the better writer.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's Good to be an Aggie

#7 Texas A&M 100
#25 Texas 82

There is nothing better than beating Texas (at anything). Durant may be the best player in the nation but A&M has shown in back to back games with #6 Kansas and #25 Texas that they have the full package. A&M has become two words that I never knew went together when I was there in the late 80's and early 90's, a "Basketball School".

Gig 'em!

Elevation Church

I took a road trip with the Pine Ridge Church launch team to go down to Charlotte and check out Elevation Church and Pastor Steven Furtick. They are an awesome church that is averaging over 1100 in less than a year. They celebrate their 1 year anniversery next week and had 1250 in attendnace yesterday. Furtick is a great communicator. Yesterday was a vision sermon and it was great to hear what drives them. It was awesome to see the passion to get into the community with projects like Habitat for Humanity. They have a plan where each of their small groups will be volunteering in projects like this once a quarter.

We talked to a lot of the staff. They do a great job bring the weekend together. They are there at 5am to get it started. We talked to Steven after the service and were really impressed. He gave us a lot of time and was really interested in what we were doing. He had some great advice and even made it real be committing to pay a months rent for the Pine Ridge Church.

My favorite thing this weekend was the ear plug machine in the lobby. He said they get at least one comment each weekend about tunring the sound down. So, they put a maching in the lobby containing the little soft spongy ear plugs and a sign saying something like "hearing protection is provided by Elevation Church as a courtesy to you because we're not turning it down."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Unbelievable! Aggies Beat Kansas!

#8Texas A&M 69 vs #6Kansas 66

Tonight Texas A&M beat Kansas for the first time in history. And they did it at Allen Fieldhouse. It was an unbelievable game. A&M had been down as many as 10 with 6:33 left in the game. They were down but never out. AC Law just didn't miss in the last 6 minutes when A&M put up 20 to Kansas 4.

Condolences go out to Tadd Grandstaff and all of the Tarheels fans. It is always hard to talk trash against Duke and get beat by State. Next Wednesday night should be a good game.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Network with the Fewest Dropped Calls

I'm talking about the 'God network'. I know it sounds cheesy but I have found that when I network with other people and pastors it always pays off.

Right now the most important job I have is raising financial support to fund our ministry. So when I meet new people or pastors (I know, pastors are people too) or visit new churches, I can't help but think that maybe this will be the conduit that God will use to sell some cows to fund our ministry.

But I have learned to to meet with anyone and everyone, even with no real thought of how they might support us financially. I have gone to churches where I prayed on the way "God I don't see how this church would help us financially but I know I should be here today, so Lord, do something crazy that I could not have expected."

I talked to Kevin Mayer on the phone for about an hour last night. I mentioned how I met him through God's Network in a previous post. Kevin and his wife Pat are planning go to Paris this fall to do ministry with the arts. I believe that utilizing the arts will be crucial in the French culture, but I am planting a church without a bunch of artists on my team. Enter Kevin and Pat. The two of them combine their skills and education in film production, fine arts, graphic design, play-writing and more. They have no specific plans for how to filter people from their ministry into a church. Hey, I have and idea, maybe God is leading us to partner in some way. We really had a great conversation and our souls resonate with many of the same passions. They will be coming to visit us all the way from Iowa in 2 weeks (I'm sure the other folks they are visitnig in the Raleigh have nothing to do with their trip).

It is great how God leads us to network with others for reasons that we may not even realize for a while.

I have met a lot of awesome pastors. I hope to meet many more. I learn so much from these guys. I have recently been reading both Chazown and Confessions of a Pastor by Craig Groeschel. Wow! This guy is amazing and has inspired me through his honest and direct talk about life in ministry. He is genuine. The real deal. And he has a lot of kids. If any of you know him, hook a brother up. I would love to meet this guy.