Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Posts tagged “pain

Christmas Gifts – On a Mission From God

I want to challenge all of us to completely rethink our Christmas gift giving this year!

Rather than buying into the consumerism, materialism, & greed that is so often a part of the American Christmas experience. Rather than buying a bunch of stuff that people really do not need & that will be collecting dust in a few short weeks. Let me challenge you to make your Christmas gift giving be “on a mission from God” this year!

Here are a few ideas of how you can get people a great Christmas gift – while supporting a great cause – & helping those who are A LOT less fortunate than any of us are.

1) Tickets to a Benefit Concert to Build an Orphanage in Haiti.

On Jan 21st we are doing “Monday Night Madness” with “COWBOY TROY & Friends“. There will be several bands opening, many surprise-special guest appearances, food, drinks, silent auctions, raffles, & much more. This is an opportunity for you to give the gift of tickets to a GREAT event while helping us buy land & build an orphanage in Haiti. CLICK HERE to purchased tickets. Please help us spread the word about this – we need to sell 3400 tickets!

2) Serve the World Christmas Gift Certificates.

These can be given as gifts & let people know that rather than get them a gift they probably don’t need – that a certain amount had been given in their name – to help provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. As well this donation helps fund local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling. These Gift Certificates are available through our church office or in our Cafe on Sunday mornings.

3) Bags of Coffee from Haiti & Rwanda

We serve Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee each Sunday at Eagle Pointe & we make bags of this coffee available for purchase. Bags of this coffee make for great Christmas Gifts while at the same time help provide a job & a living wage for farmers in 2 of the poorest countries in the world. Bags of different blends of coffee & espresso are available through our church office or in our Cafe on Sunday mornings.

Again, let me challenge you to make your Christmas gift giving be “on a mission from God” this year! I’d love to hear your stories of the impression this made on those you give gifts to this Christmas.

Oh, and here’s one last thought on this idea…

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Why Christmas Is So Screwed Up – Part 5

I just wanted to add 1 last thought to this “Why Christmas Is So Screwed Up” series I’ve been doing all week. If you missed  Part 1,  Part 2,  Part 3 & Part 4” please go back read them to better understand this post in context.

One thing that has been very popular the last couple years has been our “Serve the World Christmas Gift Certificates“. This is a great way to “Spend Less & Give More”. It’s a great way to cut back on the consumerism & materialism of Christmas & help keep the focus of Christmas on what it should really be all about. Again, Loving God, Loving Others, & Serving the World!

Rather than buying more stuff and/or more things that we really do not NEED – I encourage you to give our “Serve the World Christmas Gift Certificates” to your family & friends this year. You can make a donation in someone’s name & let them know that you were thinking of them this Christmas. And rather than giving them something they really didn’t need, a donation was made in their name to provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. As well this offering will fund the local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling..

These “Serve the World Christmas Gift Certificates” are available in our Cafe’ at Eagle Pointe, as well you can email our office to request the gift certificates.

Please pray about cutting back on the “stuff” of Christmas – give your best gift to Jesus this Christmas – & help us truly “Serve the World” in Jesus’ name in 2012!  In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.

We are also encouraging our church family that if they feel the need to buy Christmas gifts – then let your Christmas Gifts be “on a mission for God”. On Jan. 21 we are doing a BIG Benefit Concert to raise money to buy land & build an orphanage in Haiti. We are encouraging people to buy tickets for others as Christmas gifts. This way they are giving a great gift of tickets to an amazing concert & helping build an orphanage in Haiti at the same time. (Check out our PROMO VIDEO for this event – it’s pretty awesome!)

Lastly, I hope & pray that you will help us make this a Christmas to remember!


Why Christmas Is So Screwed Up – Part 4

Happy Thanksgiving! I know most of us are very busy with family & cooking – but I thought it was worth a try to get this post out right before “Black Friday”. I pray you will help spread the word about what I’ve been sharing this week in this 4 part series.

If you missed “Serve the World: Christmas Offering – Part 1,  Part 2,  & Part 3” please go back read them to better understand this post in context.

I propose that we “DO” Christmas different this year. Rather than buying into the frantic, crazy, stressful, non-stop month of parties, shopping, & trying to make sure that our friends, families, & kids have lots of “stuff” to do & presents to open – let’s just SLOW DOWN! RELAX! And ENJOY what this season is really about. As my daughter Brianna says, “Christmas is about 3 things: 1) Celebrating Jesus, 2) Spending time with family, & 3) Helping those in need!” DANG! I love that girl! THAT pretty much sums it up!

BTW: That’s a lot of what our December message series “The Christmas Blues – On a Mission from God” is all about. We’re using the Blues Brothers to talk about what Christmas is really all about & how God has a mission for each of our lives that we are to be pursuing. (Also, check out our “Christmas Blues promo video here – It is too funny & good!). Don’t miss this series kicking off next Sunday Dec. 2nd. It will run each Sunday in December & on Christmas Eve.

This “Serve the World: Christmas Offering is ALL about Brianna’s #3 – Helping those in need. I ask that you join us in helping provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. As well this offering will fund the local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling. Our goal is to raise $30,000. (This is above & beyond the approx. $30,000 it takes to run our church & preschool each month) This is also a rather modest amount considering the incredible amount of work we do with this amount of money.

Please join us in praying that God will FAR surpass our goal! Please pray about cutting back on the “stuff” of Christmas – give your best gift to Jesus this Christmas – & help us truly “Serve the World” in Jesus’ name in 2012!  In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.

We are also encouraging our church family that if they feel the need to buy Christmas gifts – then let your Christmas Gifts be “on a mission for God”. We are offering “Serve the World Gift Certificates” that can be given as gifts & let people know that rather than get them a gift they probably don’t need – that a certain amount had been given to those less fortunate in their name.

As well, on Jan. 21 we are doing a BIG Benefit Concert to raise money to buy land & build an orphanage in Haiti. We are encouraging people to buy tickets for others as Christmas gifts. This way they are giving a great gift of tickets to an amazing concert & helping build an orphanage in Haiti at the same time.

Lastly, I hope & pray that you will help us make this a Christmas to remember!


Why Christmas Is So Screwed Up – Part 2

Be sure to watch the above video & if you missed “Serve the World: Christmas Offering – Pt. 1” go back & read it 1st – so that you’ll get this part 2 in context.

Listen – if we as Christians don’t step up and address these issues – people starving – parents burying their kids – kids being orphaned by diseases all over the planet… I think years from now people will look back at the 21st century Christian church and ask – “What were they thinking?” “How could they not do something?” It’s like the way we look back at the church – who for 300 years read their Bibles – and kept their black brothers & sisters in slavery. Tell me how that works? How do you justify that? The problem is that we don’t have enough people who will take action!

I also had a conversation a couple of Christmas’ ago with a pastor friend. We were kind of making fun of the people who boycott stores that do not say “Merry Christmas” – during the month of December. I don’t think I’ll ever forget – my friend said – “I want to boycott those stores that invoke the name of my Savior – in the name of the almighty dollar. I had another conversation with my daughter Brianna – who asked me – “Daddy, why is it Jesus’ birthday and everybody buys all kinds of gifts for everybody else – but Jesus doesn’t get anything?” She said – “If it was my birthday – and everybody except me got gifts except me I’d be pretty upset.”

Then I did a little research and found that the average family in America spends $1600 buying Christmas gifts – that’s just the average… Some spend a lot more – & too many go into debt pulling off Christmas. We spend a ridiculous amount of money on gifts for everyone we know – on video games, iPods, clothes, and all kinds of stuff that our kids can’t begin to be grateful for or appreciate. Question – does this in any way sound like a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – of God’s love coming to earth in flesh? To me – it is more of one giant orgy of materialism – and it’s sickening!

I am challenging all of us – and everyone who will listen – to drastically cut back on Christmas gifts this year! I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath ——-  But guess what? Christmas is not my birthday – & I don’t need anything! It’s not your birthday – and you really don’t need anything! Now, I know this is a hard pill, especially for our teens and kids, to swallow – but compared to 99% of the other kids in the world – our’s live like stinkin’ royalty! 99% of the kids in the world would trade places with them in a heartbeat!

So, in our family we’re calculating the maximum amount we can afford to spend on Christmas, without going into debt – which isn’t a whole lot on a pastor’s salary, paying off adoptions, etc… We’re cutting that in 1/2 and using 1/2 to buy gifts &  taking the other 1/2 and giving it Jesus for His birthday. Now, how do you give the Jesus – who is not here in the flesh? You could give to His work – the local church! And we should definitely be doing that. But Jesus also said that when you do this for the least of these – people who are suffering – starving – dying from diseases – you are doing it for Me. It’s easy to get overwhelmed – when you look at the incredible needs all over the globe – and think what could I do about all of that? Well, you can’t fix it all – but we can each do our part. Our Eagle Pointe family could come together and address a small portion of it.

During the month of December we’re doing a “Serve the World: Christmas Offering“. This offering will help fund our church’s local & global mission work  for 2013. Please help us provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. This offering will also  fund the local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling.

We’re encouraging people to go above and beyond their normal, ongoing support of all the ministries & mission work we do here at Eagle Pointe Church – & give to support our Serve the World: Christmas Offering. Please pray about it & see what God leads you & your family to do. In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.


Why Christmas Is So Screwed Up – Part 1

I think the above video is all too indicative of our world today! (If you didn’t watch it – invest 4  minutes & do so)  There’s something very wrong with us as a people and as a society! What do you think God is thinking when He sees us acting like that? About 4 years ago God began to really open my eyes and breaking my heart to the conditions that so many people in our world live in. Not just their physical needs – but also their spiritual needs. But reality is – that it’s very hard for people to focus on their spiritual needs when they’re starving to death – when their children are dying of diseases.

A couple years ago I was at the gym working out – when a guy who knew I was a pastor approached me… The cyclone in the Myanmar had just happened – 50,000 people died… And another 50 to 100,000 people were expected to die – because they lacked the basic necessities of life – to survive the aftermath of the storm. And as so many people do – this guy was blaming God. He comes to me & says – “How could you believe in a God who would allow that to happen? If God is real – why doesn’t he do something about that?”

He went on and on – I listened for a while – and finally I put down the weights – I turned to him – and said – “God did do something about it!” He looked at me very perplexed and I said – “God created you and me and the other 7 billion people on this planet – and instead of sitting around and complaining and blaming God – God created each of us to get off of our fat happy lazy butts & go do something about it!” And with that – he lowered his head – and walked away.

In America alone – we spend more on entertainment each year – than it would cost to eradicate Malaria & other diseases throughout the world. In America alone – we spend more on hair products & make up each year – than it would cost to than it would cost to feed every man, woman, & child on the planet. But it’s because of our own human greed – selfishness – & irresponsibility that people are starving and dying of diseases all around the world. We won’t get off of our butts & go do something about it!

In Part 2 I’ll dive a lot more into this idea… But let me share with you something we are challenging our church family to do this year. During the month of December we’re doing a “Serve the World: Christmas Offering“. This offering will help fund our church’s mission work in the Philippines, Haiti, as well as other local & global mission work we do for 2012. Please help us provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.

We are also encouraging our church family that if they feel the need to buy Christmas gifts – then let your Christmas Gifts be “on a mission for God”. We are offering “Serve the World Gift Certificates” that can be given as gifts & let people know that rather than get them a gift they probably don’t need – that a certain amount had been given to those less fortunate in their name.

As well, on Jan. 21 we are doing a BIG Benefit Concert to raise money to buy land & build an orphanage in Haiti. We are encouraging people to buy tickets for others as Christmas gifts. This way they are giving a great gift of tickets to an amazing concert & helping build an orphanage in Haiti at the same time.

So, let me encourage you – before you dive head first into “Black Friday” & the Christmas shopping madness. Just say “NO!” to the greed, selfishness, extravagance, excesses, and debt this Christmas. Step back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself —– “Is this what Christmas should really be about?”, “Do my kids & others really need 20 new things this Christmas?”, “Does the way our society celebrate Christmas – even remotely resemble what a celebration of God’s Love coming to Earth 2000 yrs ago should look like?”

I’ll let you chew on that for a while – stay tuned for tomorrow’s  ”Serve the World: Christmas Offering – Pt. 2” – don’t miss it!


6 Things I LOVED About Faith In Action Day

On June 9th we mobilized a couple hundred people to help & serve at 6 locations around our area. The week following I went to Haiti with a team from Eagle Pointe & then went with a bunch of H.S. students to Panama City Beach for their summer camp. Now, finally being home & things settling down – I’ve had a chance to reflect on our Faith in Action day & here are 6 things I absolutely loved about it…

1) Seeing God use 100′s of ordinary people, like us, to help so many people & point so many hearts towards Jesus! Through our helping people in real, practical, & tangible ways the door was opened to begin helping people spiritually. The impact of us serving our community was HUGE!

2) Seeing so many of the people we served who were moved to tears, seeing a small army of volunteers show up to help them out. I had one lady, almost in shock, say to me that she didn’t think that there were still people in our society who genuinely cared for & helped others.

3) The amazing hearts & generosity of our Eagle Pointe family. So many gave selflessly of their time, talents, & energy in order to help & serve others. At several projects, people found additional work they wanted to do & took off to Home Depot & bought what was needed.

4) The amazing attitude of Eagle Pointe’rs. Eagle Pointe’rs showed up to WORK baby! Hot – humid — it didn’t matter! When things didn’t work right, or go exactly as planned – there was no griping & complaining – people just rolled with it & found another way to get the job done!

5) Seeing so many kids participating in F.I.A. day! I loved seeing so many kids & teens helping out at all our different locations & seeing them catch a passion for serving others at such young ages!

6) The insatiable passion Eagle Pointe’rs have for Loving God, Loving Others, & Serving the World! I had so many people asking how soon can we do this again??? I love that so much of what our church is & does happens outside the walls of our church bldg. BTW: We will have several opportunities coming up this Fall to do more of these types of projects. Stay tuned for more details.

I could easily do a “Top 100 Things” list – but I’ll spare you from that. Those are probably the Big 6 for me personally. I would love to hear from you… What Did You Love About F.I.A. day???? (Comment below)

Our Faith in Action Day was a HUGE success! Thank you to all of you who participated – we couldn’t have begun to pull this off with out you! And of course – GO GOD!!!

* NOTE: Here is a video from that day…


Get Over Yourself – PLEASE!!!

I thought this video was so funny & so true. We tend to get way too wrapped up in our “First World” problems…

BTW, the term “First World” and “Third World” are still used, but the “system” has lost its meaning because, well, there is no real “Second World” today. Here is some context…

First World: The developed world (like the U.S., Japan, France, etc.).
Second World: The communist world (think the Soviet Union, etc. back in the day).
Third World: The developing world (think most of Africa, for example).

For several years now I have refered to the Third World as the “Two Thirds World” – because the reality is that Two thirds of the world lives there.

Let me try to help frame this idea within the context of some of the criticism that I & Eagle Pointe church gets as it relates to this.

I catch a lot of flak from people about my “constant harping” about the need to “get over ourselves” & realize how much the rest of the world needs our help. I get criticized that too much of mine & our church’s focus is on “others”.  We will put aside for a moment Jesus telling us to “Love God & Love Others”.

People complain that we should be helping  ”our own” – versus people in our community, let alone other states and countries. The reality is that churches such as Eagle Pointe spend thousands & thousands of dollars helping families in our church who have lost jobs, are on the verge of losing their homes, etc – however, we choose not to talk about that so as not to embarrass the families we are helping. We also have many, many people helping & serving at children’s homes, nursing homes, homeless shelters, etc throughout the year – in addition to our Faith in Action Days where we  send our entire church out to serve in our community.

Last year people complained about us helping tornado victims in Alabama versus some areas here in Georgia. The reality is that Alabama was hit 20 x’s harder by tornadoes than Georgia. 30 other churches, that  we knew of, were already heading to help the small parts of Georgia affected – so as we prayed about it (a novel concept I know – allowing God to direct – rather than the whims & whining of people) – we went to Alabama where very little help is getting to.

People complain about us helping in Haiti & other countries. Please! The poorest people in America live like royalty compared to 95% of the population in most 3rd world countries. The poorest communities here in America are like Beverly Hills compared to the 1.5 million families living in tent city slums in Haiti. Sadly, some of these complaints have been racially motivated. Most Americans just need to “get over themselves” & see how 90% of the rest of the world is living. We are working in slums where kids are starving & dying of very preventable diseases, where there is no access to clean drinking water. Millions lost everything in the earthquake & are now suffering & just trying to survive while most of the word has turned a blind eye or forgotten them. So yeah – despite the criticism – we’ll keep on working there. (BTW: I can’t wait to go back to Haiti on June 16th & I’m bringing my daughter Brianna with me)

I encourage you to read this post again, pray about it, watch the above video again – have a good laugh, & then get involved in helping “the least of these” as Jesus commanded us to do!

We live for an audience of One! Pleasing & doing what Jesus commands us to do. If people don’t like it – oh well – life goes on!