Archive for December, 2009


Unbelievable – great job everyone!

Can’t wait to share stories this spring about how your investment is making an impact in our community and around the world.


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Sitting at home listening to Lindsey help the boys wrap some presents – I’ve always loved the week leading up to Christmas. Everyone and everything seems a bit more alive – that much was obvious on Sunday morning during our worship gathering. Great set list from the band and y’all helped to create a great vibe with your singing, your listening, the raw emotion you brought to communion and the intentional way you connected with the people around you. I love being your pastor and I love what God is doing in and through you.

I also wanted to make sure I thank Katie Homeyer again for the set design. I love watching people do what they love to do and just wait until you see what she has planned for our different teaching series in 2010!

Our history as a church does not contain a lot of stories of radical generosity but over the past six weeks you have invested $40K in the kingdom work that is going on in and through our church. So far, we’ve raised almost $8K for Advent Conspiracy and I can’t wait to see how that money is going to be used to make a deep and lasting impact for God’s glory and the good of his world.

OK, now about this Thursday. Man, there aren’t words to describe how thrilled I am about what’s going down in our gathering on Christmas Eve (5pm, Westminster Christian Academy). Here are a few things I want you to look for when you show up (early!) for an incredible hour together:

  • You’ll notice a lot of unfamiliar faces. We’ve invited Faith Presbyterian Church here in Watkinsville to worship with us so that means we’ll have more than 300 people in the gym – an exciting prospect if we understand that we’re not just using the time to slow the stampede heading towards the presents under the tree.
  • You’ll see faces you didn’t expect to see. We have a ton of UGA students who don’t live in Athens but are making the trek from their homes just to be in the room when we have the gathering on Thursday. I can’t even wrap my mind around how crazy and wonderful it is to watch Jesus take hold and animate the lives of students.
  • Y0u’ll notice some changes. With so many people in the room, we’re doing stuff like communion a bit different than we normally do it.
  • You’ll hear me talk about Jesus. That’s not new but because you’re bringing friends and family with you, I promise you that Jesus will be front and center throughout the gathering.

OK, so seriously – this could be one of those nights we’re talking about months and years from now. I know some of you are going to be out of town (even out of the country!) but if you’re around, I hope you’ll come and engage God as we thank him for sending Jesus to live and die for us.

One last thing – would you pray for a few things:

  • A movement of the Holy Spirit that shows us Jesus and compels us to press deeply into him;
  • Conversions and renewal – my prayer for the gathering is that it will be a catalyst for a great Christmas where Jesus is seen and savored as the best present in the universe.
  • The room to be filled with the love of Jesus. And then show up ready to serve and shake hands and hug necks and help our visiting friends feel at home.
  • My voice. As of 5:18pm on Tuesday, I don’t have one. I don’t feel bad…just can’t talk. So ask God to work things out in a way that me, you and all of our friends get more of Jesus when it’s all said and done.

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Gearing up for Sunday:

  • Wrapping up Advent connecting the Old Testament stories of Chronicles and Esther to our pursuit and experience of joy. Thinking about titling the message ‘IF’ – as in, ‘I’d be happy IF…’
  • Contrary to what you might have heard growing up, happiness and joy are the same thing.
  • We are obligated to pursue joy; we were made to be happy – and all of that takes place in the midst of the frustrations and heartaches of life.
  • Wrapping up Advent Conspiracy – if you haven’t had a chance to invest in our effort to make a greater impact in the community and world, then here’s your last chance.

Few other things coming up:

  • Christmas Eve gathering on…well, Christmas Eve. 5pm at WCA.
  • Year-end giving. The office will be closed December 28-January 1 so make sure if you send something through the mail that it’s postmarked by December 31. We need $10K to finish the year in the black – can’t wait to see how God continues to work through your generosity to further his kingdom.

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Peace – the God-given longing for a perfect life…for everyone in everything.

That theme of Advent was our focus yesterday and it carries both bad news and good news. And as devastating as it is to hear that we’ll never experience perfection in full until Jesus returns to finish the job of making all things new, there is much for us to cling to and enjoy because of the reality of the incarnation. Jesus is born and the kingdom of God breaks into our world and begins the slow, steady work of making God’s universal rule a distinct reality for all peoples in every sphere of life.

This tension keeps Christmas from becoming glib or morose. There is real reason to celebrate in ways that run much deeper than our cultural displays of happiness during the holidays. There’s a freedom that comes in knowing that we can out-merry everyone else at Christmas because our delight is drawn from the deep well of Christ whose rule over all things creates beauty out of devastation. True Christmas Spirit is not something we create but something that is birthed in us as the Holy Spirit shines a spotlight on the God who became weak and vulnerable to give us strength and confidence.

So, press into Jesus as the Prince of Peace and get ready because the joy of Christmas is just around the corner.

Few other things from yesterday:

  • Really fun to introduce all of our new members. This round was made up (almost) exclusively of students; in the spring, we have several families and adults lining up to become part of the family.
  • We have students and families who visit every week – are you playing a role in helping them get to know us by saying hello, asking about their story, inviting them to lunch or community group?
  • Loved having Craig Hensley (banjo) and Chris Parsons (drums) sit in with the band – seriously, I wouldn’t trade our musicians for any other group on the planet.
  • Great response so far from the commitment cards for January-March, 2010. We’re going to blow your mind when we tell you what we can do as a church if all of us invested 10% of our post-tax income into the kingdom of God.

Couple of upcoming opportunities for you:

  • Advent Conspiracy giving continues this week – we’ll tell you a bit more about some of the ways we’re wanting to invest our resources in the community as the week goes on.
  • This is going to be an incredible Christmas Eve gathering (5pm at WCA). I love it that so many of you are asking your families to come with you – praying that God gives the grace to make that happen. And if you can’t be with us, end up somewhere and take in the grace and mercy of God to you in the incarnation.
  • We’re creating some great opportunities for you to be involved with us as interns. More information to come…
  • During our Money teaching series in January, we’ll be launching Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University – a 13 week process to help you follow Jesus with your money. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t need to be there – we’ll have details about where and when in the next week or so.

Hope you have a great week – I love you and consider it a great joy to run with you as your pastor.


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Been a great week around here – lots of conversations and stories about people living on mission together – not even the toppling over of our Christmas tree (twice!) can ruin the vibe a couple of weeks out from Christmas.

  • Speaking of Christmas and the Advent season leading up to it, this week’s message from the story of 2 Kings reminds us that the love of God (two weeks ago) and the hope he ignites (last week) creates a world of peace – a place where all of life flourishes in every avenue and arena.
  • One of the interesting notes in 2 Kings is that while Advent is a season of longing and anticipation, this isn’t just a story for people whose lives are a mess. This is both a challenge and a comfort for all of us who have a great life and are successful in the eyes of the world.
  • We’re receiving 15 new members into our Christ Church family. Because of our convictions about the critical nature of community in the life of both the individual Christian and the church, membership is something beautiful that we take very seriously.
  • Thanks again for the investment you made in Advent Conspiracy last week. If you weren’t able to pitch in last week, make that happen this week, giving generously because God has been generous to you.
  • Another great set list from the band – I love singing songs of Advent and Christmas with all of you!

Couple other things:

  • Christmas Eve gathering – you and your family need to be there. 5:00 at WCA – we’ll be out before 6:00.
  • We need a few people to love on our kids in the nursery during the Christmas Eve gathering. Why can’t that be you? Let Jared (jbryant@c2pca.org) know that you want to serve.
  • We’ve got some news on internships coming before the end of the year.
  • We’ll be hosting Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University after the first of the year.
  • Hey, dads – the quality of Christmas for your family rests firmly on your shoulders. Here are some ideas on how to lead well.

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In this season of life for our church, we’ve stated that we want to be missionaries living in community empowered by the gospel.

Here’s what keeps you and me from living this way: spiritual sterility that’s fueled by the fact that we breathe in the individualism, consumerism and materialism of our culture. None of us are immune to these challenges and we are predisposed to one or more of these in ways that keep us from relying on Jesus, building life around each other and doing ordinary life out in the world with gospel intentionality.

I’ve caught myself saying something lately that I don’t believe. As I talk about living this way, I am quick to talk about how hard it is – maybe to give me, you, or us an out for not lining up our lives with these values. But at the end of the day, I don’t think that living as missionaries in community empowered by the gospel is that hard…it’s just different.

Now those differences are exacerbated by the fact that they are initiatives that depend on a powerful work of the Spirit to weld us to Jesus as he shows us the depths of the Father’s love for us. But this same Jesus said that the life that follows him is easy…natural…meaningful. So let me toss out a few easy, natural, meaningful ways we can live out these values of gospel, community and mission:


  • Applying the Scriptures together in community groups
  • Gathering for corporate worship
  • Joining a Fight Club to engage in the deep soul work of exposing my sin and sinfulness and trusting Jesus in specific, tangible ways


  • Share friends – find where non-Christians and your interests collide and spend time there to make friends and change their assumptions about Christianity.
  • Share food – work meals with non-Christian friends into the normal rhythm and routine of your life.
  • Sharing life – developing rhythms of spontaneous time instead of relying on programmed events


  • Restoration – as a group, identify and begin to wrestle with real problems around you – where will you express mercy and justice together?
  • Generosity – where is God leading you as a group to use your money to meet kingdom needs – in ways that are both organized and spontaneous?

In their book Tangible Kingdom (the source of some of the ideas above), Hugh Halter and Matt Smay encourage us to ‘imagine the parts of the Kingdom that may open up to you if the same people you love to be with on Saturday night were the same people with whom you dive deep with spiritually. And then, in turn, they connect their friends with you and your friends.’

Could be fun…

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From the Fight Clubs blog at Austin City Life:

  1. Remember Fight Clubs are relationship based. Take some time getting to know potential Fight Club partners and make sure that you feel comfortable to share your struggles with them.
  2. Choose partners that are at the same life stage as you. For instance, Moms and Dads have different struggles than those with out children. It is difficult enough sharing some of the deepest parts of our dark hearts, we need to remove as many potential obstacles as possible.
  3. Be Consistent. The best Fight Clubs are those that meet weekly or at the very least twice a month. Consistency = Commitment. Those that are committed to fight this sin with you will make the time to meet. We have found that if too much time passes between meetings you loose valuable intimacy, and become less effective.
  4. Set Some Rules. Fight Clubs can easily turn in to a gossip session never making the Gospel turn. If one is sharing their struggles the other should be listening with a Gospel filter then sharing Gospel insights. For example: If one is sharing about their struggle with anger, detailing the last time they exploded in anger. The other partner will ask questions like: “Can you pin point what triggered the anger?” “What were the circumstances?” “What lie are you believing when you explode?”

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