Monday, May 11, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

Cheese and crackers it's been a long time since I've written anything.  Well, I have too much to say this time around, but I will atleast give the basic run-down.  Where to start?  Ok, family... kids are doing really well.  Andrew is enjoying school and apparently is the highest reader in ALL of his reading teacher's classes (11th grade level).  He is 12 years old now (Lord, help) and full into the hormonal wash of puberty... we have some fun years ahead of us.  Abi is still playing soccer and being, well... Abi.  She doesn't really play much while on the field, but I think she enjoys being on the team and part of something.  Today she has an audition for a talent show.   She is going to be singing "Love Story" by Taylor Swift.  She is so funny.  She finds the karaoke videos on You Tube and (with headphones on) watches them and sings as loud as she can.  BJ is still working at HighPoint church as their administrative assistant.  The things she is learnign there are invaluable to our future planting ventures.  She recently became part of a study group for women in our church that looks at biblical perspectives on wives (at least that what I've gathered it to be).  She seems to enjoy the opportunity, but still is baffled by the fact that people would ask her for advice and help.  She's much smarter, wise, and insightful than she gives herself credit.  Love that lady!!!  For me things are going well.  I have officially launched my business, Ethos Creations and have four paying clients already with good prospects for more.  Let me know if you have any graphic work that needs to be done!
Church... the Roots Community has officially launched publically.  We did so on Easter Sunday (amidst some drama surrounding a possible meeting site).  We met in our pastor, Jesse's home for four weeks and yesterday  we met for the first time in our new location, the KOA.  We have found great favor with the management there and they are allowing us to meet rent-free for the first month, and then for very cheap afterwards.  We will also have access on Wednesdays for our youth and Grow Groups.  Things are really starting to gain some form of momentum.  Last Sunday we had our first baptisms where we baptized a couple who has been a part of out group for the past few months, one of our staff's daughters, and I baptized my little Abi.  It was a great day.
I ask that you all continue to pray for our family and our church.  We daily seek to understand the role of the Gospel in every aspect of our living, breathing, and doing.  Please also pray for BJ and I as we begin to seek God's guidance in venturing towards our own plant.  Currently we have no direction or calling to a specific area, and we are asking God to begin revealing that to us.  
Ok, well, I need to go be productive, so hopefully I will be able to submit at least two more entries this week.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Just some pics

Happy Monday to you all!  I am sitting here in Starbucks staring at my computer screen trying to will myself into writing something meaningful and deep... without much luck.  It's not that I don't anything to say... I just can't stop it all from swirling around long enough for me to form it into cohesive thoughts. SO I thought I would simply post some pics of my little girl's soccer game.  Everybody likes pictures, right?


Not to be outdone by her sister, Andrew deserves mention as well.  He is now an official adolescent!  Our little boy turned twelve yesterday, and I feel sooooo old.  I am proud of him, though.  He's about as good a 12-year old as they come, so I can't really complain.

There's so much more for me to write, but I have a lot of design work to get done, so I will leave all of that for later.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Salt and light...

I am very proud of my two kids, and this week I was reminded even more of that.  God has truly blessed BJ and I with two wonderful children that both love and respect us, and who are excellent representations of what we hope for them to be.  On Tuesday I was reminded of this when I went to Andrew's school to discuss an opportunity for me to make t-shirts for the NJHS of Boone Middle.  After my meeting, I was talking with Mr. Thorpe (an Administrator and one of Andrew's teachers) and one of the secretaries.  They both continually sang the praises of Andrew.  He has shown them that students CAN have integrity, morals, and respect.  I was swelling with pride.  Andrew isn't the best of students (academically speaking... like his old man), but he is a great kid... so great that he has had 4 Student of the Month nominations this year.  I am so proud to be able to say to teachers and administration that I am Andrew Hendrix's father.  

That same day, my little girl warmed my heart as well.  Abi started soccer.  She was sooooo cute in her little soccer shorts, cleats, and shin guards.  I was so proud watching her immediately jump in to a group of kids that she does not know and make an impact.  She did so well with the drills, and actually came close to scoring a goal during the little scrimmage.  Her big personality stood out like her blonde ponytail as it danced among a sea of brunettes.   More than once I heard from other parents about how cute my little girl was.  I just smiled and said, "Thank you."  When we were riding in the truck on the way home she couldn't stop talking, and I couldn't stop beaming.  Her first game is this Saturday and she is in training.  Every day after she gets home from school we go jogging around the neighborhood (yes, I can keep up just fine thank you!).  She has a long way to go before she get compared with Mia Hamm or Kristine Lilly, but she already has a fan in this old softie.

Thinking about my kids and their impact on other people moved my thoughts to what I have been reading in Scripture.  Last week I wrote about the Beatitudes, the "blessed are"'s that Jesus spoke in the 5th chapter of Matthew (vs. 3-12).  The following verses (13-16) are usually called the "salt and light" verses.  I was taught these verses completely divorced from the preceeding verses, and the main emphasis was on being a good "Christian"; which usually meant "don't drink, don't smoke, don't cuss, don't have sex outside of marriage, don't listen to 'secular' music, read your Bible every day, go to church, etc."  Now, I'm not taking issue with these things (at least most of them), but I am taking issue with the teaching of these things as being the objects of intent for Jesus' instruction.  These verses immediately follow the beatitudes which should lead us to understand that they are in reference to the beatitudes.  In other words, we could read the passages (vs. 3-16) so:

It is good and right for you to be aware of your lack of righteousness and holiness before God.  It is good and right for you  to mourn this and to mourn the results of this in your life,  the world, and in the lives of those around you.  It is good and right for you to be gentle with others and to diligently seek the righteousness that you lack.  It is good and right for you to be merciful to those who are just as unrighteous and unholy as you, and for you to be pure in your thoughts and actions.  You should always pursue peace with these people, even if they are not peaceful towards you.
Why?  Because this is what it means to live.  This is what it means to be human.  Living this way preserves and enhances the life you were given, and the lives of those around you... like salt.  Living life any other way is to live in an inhuman way, lacking compassion and mercy.  You would cease to be as you were created... kind of like salt that loses its saltiness.  What purpose would you then serve, being inhuman?  None.   Living this way is the example for everyone.  It is an obvious way of living that cannot be ignored or missed.  It's like a city on a hill, or a lamp.  You don't hide a lamp in a box do you?  No, otherwise it wouldn't serve the purpose for which it was meant.  You put it in the center of the room so it will light the house.  Living according to how you were created  is supposed to be done in an obvious way, not so you will be praised, but so God can be glorified. 

I believe the beatitudes are given to us as the example of how to live, and if we do so we will be living in such a way as to glorify God, and if we do not we will be living in a way that negates our created purpose.  Salt without saltiness is an impossibility, just as humanity without compassion and mercy is impossible (sure we are merciless and lack compassion... so can we be considerd fully human in these instances?  Something to think about...).  Living according to our created intent helps to not only preserve humanity, but to also propel it into the future (by example) and give continual glory to our Father in heaven.  Jesus came to restore humanity.  It is only through Him that we are able to live according to the "beatitudes."  Without Jesus, we are not fully human... like un-salty salt, and a hidden lamp.

Andrew and Abi helped me see what it means to be "salt and light".  Their actions (although different both in context and execution) showed me and others that it is possible to be honest, friendly, responsible, compassionate, respectful, cooperative, fun, and conciliatory.  Do they always get it right?  Of course not!  Do they still make me proud and serve as a reminder of how I need to be living?  Absolutely!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blessed are...

Recently I committed to stop reading books about the Bible, faith, and Christianity.  This isn't a wholesale rejection of all things literate, but rather a conviction that I had about my lack of passion for reading the Bible.  You see, I was very eager to read what  so-and-so has to say about the Bible, grace, atonement, passion, compassion, theology, doctrine, etc.... but I wasn't as eager to read the very thing they were writing about.  I felt it necessary to fully grasp the message before I engaged in mental conversations about the message.  What I was doing was in effect like reading a book about fishing and then entering a fishing tournament without ever having cast a line or wet a hook.  This doesn't mean I have never read the Bible.  I have, and do... I just haven't given it proper placement.

So, with that being said, I would like to share part of what I read today.  During my reading I encountered the Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew 5-7.  I've read this a number of times, but usually breezed right through the first twelve verses of chapter 5 (The Beatitudes).  I chose to read slowly and here's what I found... certain things are expected of us.  We are expected to act, behave, think, and react in certain ways.  These are not laws, but rather guidelines for living as expected by our Creator... they are the rubric by which we are to evaluate our everyday lives.  Here's what I found:
  • We are to recognize our need of God's help (poor in spirit)
  • We are to have sorrow for the results of sin (mourn)
  • We are to be gentle... not weak, but gentle (meek)
  • We are to be hungry and thirsty for God's righteousness (as a result of being poor in spirit)
  • We are to show kindness and forgiveness (merciful)
  • We are to pursue purity... not just sexual, but also of thought, deed, and action (pure in heart)
  • We are to promote total well-being, shalom (peacemakers)
  • We are to remain faithful amid opposition and attack (persecuted)
Now, as a believer I do not find these surprising.  I was not shocked to read them.  I was not blown-away by the discovery of new truths... what I did experience was shame.  I placed my life up against these handful of verses and found myself severely lacking (hey check it!  I'm poor in spirit!).  In my mind I saw where I had not been mournful enough.  I have not been gentle with others.  I have not fully hungered and thirst for God's righteousness (His provision, yes... righteousness, no).  I haven't been merciful.  I haven't made pure actions and thoughts a stronghold of priority.  I haven't promoted shalom.  I haven't fully remained faithful amid persecution.

Please understand that I am not beating myself up publicly to elicit compassion or pity.  I am acknowledging that I am fully engaged in the journey of becoming like Christ.  I am His follower and place my everything into His hands.  I want this message to serve as a reminder to myself, and to others that we can neglect the "simple" things in pursuit of the grand.  I pray you all take time to look at these few verses of encouragement and instruction from our Savior.

I'll post more as I navigate through the whole Sermon on the Mount.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Long Time Coming

My, my, my... over one month has passed since I last wrote.  Tsk, tsk!  Well, in my defense... I was without Internet at the house, and the time I spent at Starbucks was used exclusively for getting work done.  Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous benefactor, we now have Internet at the house once more.  I still have a LOT of work to do, but I thought I would take some time to update everyone on how things are going with the church plant.

During the Christmas break, our church decided not to do a major production or any other typical Christmas-y outreach.  Instead, we hosted a simple party at the pastor's home for all the friends, associates, and neighbors that we had met so far.  It was a fun get-together and we had a good number of new faces and names to learn.  There wasn't a program per-se, but we did do some Christmas songs (with a very cool Appalachian vibe) and Jesse gave a very succinct and effective explanation of who we are and why we celebrate Christmas.  All in all, the evening was great.
Over the past two months, our group has been meeting in our house on Saturday evenings to eat together and to spend time in prayer.  The prayer time was sort of Quaker-ish, and depended completely on the Spirit to "shape" the meetings.  I believe God really used this time to work out a few things in our hearts and minds concerning the direction and vision of the Roots Community.  That time has come to an end and we are getting ready to "program" a weekly service.  It will still be on Saturday evenings and at our house, but we will shape it to resemble a "typical" worship service.  Jesse and Doug (our teaching/discipleship pastor) will be teaching through our vision and values, using the book of Acts to do so.  I am very excited as we do all of this in preparation to launching our first public services in March.  Pray for us as we are currently seeking churches, organizations, and individuals to partner with us in an effort to make public services possible.
Last Saturday (as part of our continuing effort to connect with our community and to live "incarnationally") we hosted a BBQ picnic at the community park of our neighborhood.  This was a simple get-together to which we invited the entire subdivision.  Fliers were put on every door the Wednesday or Thursday before, and a couple of signs were stuck at the two entrances.  We expected to have a few people stop by and get a free hot dog or hamburger... what actually happened was that we created a catalyst event that brought our neighborhood together in a way that has never happened before.  People showed up, got some food, hung out, brought their dogs, let their kids play, talked with neighbors they never knew, and stayed ALL DAY!  
I don't know how many people showed up, but we had the little community park packed with kids running around, parents talking with each other for the first time, and some serious basketball being played.  It was amazing to see how hungry people were for community.  Everyone was so thankful.  Now, some people may be asking, "did you give them any literature or information about your church?"  No.  Whatever information was given would have happened in conversation.  We weren't about promoting the church.  We were simply being the church.
I am so very excited about what God is doing in our little rag-tag group of church planters.  He is moving in a way that many of us could not have predicted.  Is it going the way we wanted?  Not necessarily.  Of course, that's not always a bad thing.  Many of us are still struggling financially, but we have a bit more peace about it now that we've seen God's provision come through in ways we never imagined.  His provision isn't always easy, and it is often painful (to us and to others), but we know it is much better than what our cleverness can create.  Keep praying, and keep seeking!