It's Alive!

just a quick head's up to everyone that the new site for COTN has gone live

check it out here (

the generational exchange

just read an article called, "the generational exchange" - it's really a sermon transcribed from a few years ago in denver at an A/G general council - amazing message!

i'm going to link it here and suggest that you set aside about 10 minutes to read through it all...really good are my takeaways (these are directly from the message/article):
  • There is titanic distrust among the generations.
  • The older generation is looking for someone in whom they can deposit their faith, or as Paul puts it, they are looking for someone in whom they can deposit the trust of the full gospel (1 Timothy 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:20). However, they are reluctant to make that deposit for fear that their faith, their church, and the trust will be diluted, altered, or even forsaken.
  • The younger generation needs the church to provide a consistent example in an ever-changing world. At the same time, they need the church to stop forcing cultural and geographical man-made convictions onto their faith and calling it gospel. In my lifetime, I have noticed that the church now readily accepts many things it once called sinful. Our students are confused.
  • So, one generation is reluctant to give and the other is reluctant to receive.
  • I feel caught in the middle — hearing both the valid complaints of the young and the valid concerns of the old. Maybe this is where I am supposed to be, in the middle, reaching one hand out to the young and the other out to the old, asking the young to give their respect and the old to give their blessing.
  • Today’s young people can stand tall only because they are standing on someone else’s shoulders.
  • The church has attempted to create an environment that will keep the younger generation coming back to church, and in the process has made doctrine a dirty word.
  • But Jesus is doctrine.
  • The cry of Esau is the cry of the younger generation: “Please, bless me too.”
  • Some say the youth are rebellious; I say they are revolutionaries. There is a reformatory anointing on this generation. They are the reformation generation. They do not want to be normal. They want to be abnormal. They do not want to be natural; they want to be supernatural.
  • The DNA of this youth culture matches the DNA of the Pentecostal churches. All we need to be is what God called us to be — a church of the Spirit.
  • The youth in this generation do not want normal. They want what is supernatural. This generation has railroad spikes through their tongues and piercings over the rest of their bodies. Someone speaking in tongues will not scare them away. They will probably say, “Cool. Finally, this is not a normal church.”
  • Churches need to maintain excellence: the yard needs to be manicured; the orchestra needs to be in tune; our sermon needs to be well prepared; and the service needs to be well organized. But if God does not show up and breathe on us, all we have done is put on a nice show.
  • Part of the tragedy is that the older generation is looking for the God of their past and are reminiscing about the good old days, while the younger generation is looking for the God of their future. Both will miss Him because He is not only the I Was for the older generation or the I Will Be for the younger generation; He is the I Am for everyone.

have a seat

long day, up at 4:30, coffee, breakfast, quiet time (it's REAL quiet at 4:30!), in the truck, to statham, picked up anthony, to church, picked up 2 26 foot u-hauls to tackle the ATL traffic in - feeling real manly now...arrive at destination, sit for close to 2 hours while their loaded with 600 incredibly comfortable and wonderful to look at chairs, back in the trucks, back through the ATL (much easier 2nd time through), stop for mexican because lunch is now at 11:30 since i've been awake so long, back in the truck, 'up the road', at church, it's amazingly freaking hot today! - not sure what the max was, but it was hot! almost 3 hours of unloading (it was hot, and we had obstacles, like regular sized doors, not dock doors to go through)...did i mention it was hot?

now i'm @ home, vegging, listening to xm cafe, reading through bloglines, wondering why my eyes are doing weird things (perhaps it's age, nah, probably been awake too long!)...

bottom line: lives will be changed sitting in those chairs and every ounce of sweat, time, energy and finance will be worth it! i can't wait to see God dealing with people in those chairs, changing their lives, restoring their marriage, the babies dedicated to God, the marriages, the baptisms, the deliverance, the salvations!

...i typically have a tradition (yes, jeff, i used the 't' word)...that is before i preach, i like to go through and pray over the seats for the people that will be there - can't wait until i have time to get back to church to pray over the new chairs

this is what i heard...

this is what i heard...
during my devotion time this morning i came across these verses...
  • The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. 2 Cor. 10:3-6
  • God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Ephesians 6:12
what do you wrestle with? is it the neighbor who plays music so loud you can't sleep? is it the kid in your class with tons of ambition and energy that seems to outmatch your patience and understanding? is it the 'that thing' that was spoken about you but you know isn't true? is it the past? is it the present? the future? the circumstances you're in financially at this moment in your life? is it what you feel God is calling you to? is it something you missed in the past? what is 'it'?

this is what i know (btw, there's so much in these verses, that my recap of the key takeaways doesn't do justice to the tons of truth in these verses, i suggest you re-read them for yourselves and see what God speaks to you):
  • there's an onslaught attack from hell on God's family!
  • read that's undeniable!
  • i have no need to attack another person
  • this isn't a game
  • i don't fight like the world does
  • there's no time for family feuds w/i the Body of Christ
  • life isn't easy
  • this is life or death for every encounter, every obstacle, every person
  • i HAVE been equipped
  • God wants me strong
  • it's up to me to pick up the tools God has given to me
  • i can be used by God to build lives
  • every loose thought, emotion and impulse needs to be shaped into the life Christ wants
this is what i heard..
i then read through chapter 2 of the book of haggai...check this out:
"'So get to work, Zerubbabel!'—God is speaking.

"'Get to work, Joshua son of Jehozadak—high priest!'

"'Get to work, all you people!'—God is speaking.

"'Yes, get to work! For I am with you.' The God-of-the-Angel-Armies is speaking! 'Put into action the word I covenanted with you when you left Egypt. I'm living and breathing among you right now. Don't be timid. Don't hold back.'

this is what i heard..

God speaks, that spoken word is a call to action - not passivity, not relent, not postponement, it's a call to now. what has God spoken to you? what is the word He has given you? He's speaking and He's with us! He's also "living and breathing among you right now" - don't be timid, don't hold's life or death for people

what if?

this post...keeps being rehearsed in my see, i never want indecision to be the reason (excuse) for failure...i'd rather strike out swinging than strike out looking, i'd rather fail with intent than with regret, i'd rather attempt great things for God (and know that i'll fail along the way) than to attempt NOTHING for God (and end up BEING a failure)...

what if?
what if the painful decision i refuse to make stands between me and what God wants?
what if?
what if the paralysis of analysis locks me down?
what if?

as i Christ-follower, parent, father, and leader, i'm faced with many decisions - some hard; some easy; all, however, require attention, effort, and action...
my prayer... that those decisions i make daily won't be stalled because i refuse to make them...

the five dysfunctions of a team

just finished reading the book by the above title...excellent read...below is my recap and key-takeaways from it...
  • this book is a leadership fable - it's about 85% fictitious story with characters and a storyline that seem real. the author (patrick lencioni) has surely encountered almost every character in real life and every 'conversation' and 'situation' as well in real life. this is a business book. content warning: patrick is a Christ-follower and has spoken in numerous leadership and Christian conferences (including this year at catalyst) - however, this is a business fable so there's a some language in the text. as for credentials, patrick has consulted and trained thousands of senior level executives - the fable flows from countless hours of consultation and observation
  • the story is easy to follow. the chapters are short so it's real easy to pick up with a couple minutes here or there and knock a chapter down. it took me about 6 days to read this and maybe a total of 2 hours - most of my read time was 10 minutes here or there. the characters (fictitious) are easy to understand and you're sure to see yourself and your teammates in some dimension.
  • here are the 5 dysfunctions in order....i won't go into detail about what each is - go buy the book - it's an easy read and it will help any person involved in a team setting (denominational; secular; educational; ministry; coaching; leadership; business; non-profit; volunteer)
  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results
  • each of the above correlates with the others in a model...the foundation of the model (a pyramid model) is the first one
  • viewed another way...each of the words that i placed in bold text above are ESSENTIAL to the healthy functioning of a team
  • finally, the website for patrick lists some add'l resources such as a webinar

lessons from the diamond

the swerve website has 5 great (and short) posts on leadership lessons learned from the diamond.

head here and start with the first one- below are the other 4 posts:

post #2

post #3

post #4

post #5

this is what i heard...


listening to the pastor from this church this bullet form, here are some thoughts:
  • joseph shared his dreams with his brothers - not a good thing - they hated him more
  • joseph shared his dreams with his father - again, not a good thing - his father rebuked him
  • those that were closest to him, were those that rebuked him and hated him
  • when God gives a dream, be cautious who you share it with
  • warfare comes not because of who you are, it's because of the dream inside of you
  • his brothers created conditions around him to blind him to what was inside of him - they threw him in a pit
  • conflict comes to try and destroy the dream inside
  • the dream doesn't concern your present, it concerns your future - we focus on the circumstances of the present and become distracted from the future
  • the brothers then wanted to convince the dad that joseph was dead
  • their goal was to remove him from the portion of his inheritance - not only were they trying to kill the dream, now they were trying to kill the man (in his father's eyes)
  • when trouble comes it's purpose is to get you to doubt who you are - not what you do - who you are!
this is what i heard...rick, the dreams are the focus! forget the attacks, forget the frustration, forget the past - focus on the dream and press forward.


here's a chart to help you evaluate candidates in the upcoming election (which is really a long way away, but now's the time to pray and study the candidates!)...

btw, the election next year will help shape the culture in which you: raise children and grandchildren; work; establish a career; continue your education; go back for an education; educate others; seek health care for you; for your parents; minister to those without hope; do life!

this is what i heard...

decided to start a new series of posts about what i'm hearing from God - some of these will be based on Scripture, some will be based on how God uses His Body to speak...i've heard this statement before - God is always speaking, we just have to learn to listen - so, with that thought, this is what i heard:

was reading through the first few chapters of nehemiah this morning. this is a book that i love to read again and again. there are so many principles that we unpack from this book that i could start a lengthy series of posts on it - but, at least for now, i'm not going to. this morning when i got to chapter 4 of nehemiah i heard God saying, "serving me costs a lot and just when you think you've given your all, opposition will come and you'll have to give even more than at first" - let me set it up...

nehe and his posse had been hard at work, building the wall and the gates (i wonder if malkijah volunteered to rebuild the dung gate or if it was some sort of cruel joke - i'm kidding here :) ). great progress was being made, the people were diligent, God's favor had really been given to nehe and he was "finishing the drill" (for all the dawgs out there) - nehe was getting it done! then in chapter 4 sanballat and tobaih start up their ministry of encouragement (jk!), the wall is half way done and they plot to take nehe's plan out. on top of this, and get this - it's KEY - the people begin to complain about the circumstances! they fuss about how tired they are, they complain that there's too much in the way of them to make progress (actually, it says their strength was giving out and there was too much rubble - not the barney kind though). get this: three issues here...1.) they complain; 2.) the complain about being tired; 3.) they complain about the 'stuff' in the way.

i'm' thinking at this point that nehe is replaying in his mind all of the history of 'grumbling' and the bad that it brought...i'm thinking nehe must've wanted to throw in the tell the people to stop their whining, suck it up, man-up and get the job done - but that's just what i'm thinking - instead, nehe reminded them that this was a "GOD-THING" - he reminded them that their FOCUS had to be on God, not on circumstances...then i love what it says..."we all returned to the wall" - they got back to the "GOD-THING"

isn't this the case? (it is w/me) - that when we get our eyes off of what God has called us to that we start the complaining and grumbling! that we loose focus on the "GOD-THING" and start focusing on the way we feel ('i'm tired' they said). that we begin to look down (that's where the rubble is) instead of ahead (at the wall)! think for a minute...where's your focus? down (rubble) or ahead (THE thing God's called you to)?

this is what i heard...rick, ministry isn't easy, it's tiresome, it's exhausting, it will require singleness of intent and heart, you will have opposition, press forward, don't look down at the rubble, look ahead at THE thing i've called you to

dropout, easy mac, social justice and 'hell' in SC

i posted a couple of links in the last week or so to and have gotten a lot of feedback regarding it - seems that some of what he says resonates with some, not so much with, as long as the controversy train is going, and i'm really enjoying reading and re-reading some challenging posts, i thought i'd link some others that are 'on my radar'

here's the deal, one of the reasons i love the blogosphere is because it challenges me - if you look at my blogroll, you'll see that i read a variety of posts (marketing, tech, business, leadership, organization, pastors, church planters, children's ministry, friends) - the posts that i love the most are those that challenge me and those that share what God is doing in people's lives. so, as you click through and visit the following posts, realize that i'm not posting them for the sake of controversy, rather for the sake of confrontation. controversy, in my opinion, is no more than dueling opinions with no end in sight - confrontation is face-to-face; it's a challenge to the 'norm'; it's an unsettling of the routine for the sake of examination and POSSIBLE change - enjoy

  • 'hello, my name is church-dropout-guy and i'm coming to your church tomorrow' - is another in the series of posts by foster that looks at what it feels like for a guest to attend church - realize, please, that not all of these statements apply - he ministers in nashville which has a very different vibe than your city (probably) - that being said, i really like this statement: "Bottom line: give me hope, the hope that comes from the gospel’s good news about God’s lavish grace. Help me to understand it. It’s my shallow understanding after my conversion that’s kept me a child in my faith. This time around, help me go deeper, but make it simple. I get confused easily."
  • futrick knocks another one out of the park - caution: this will challenge many people - i like this statement: "You know, I don’t mind helping my 2 year old eat his Easy Mac. But if he can’t pick up a fork and bring the food to his mouth by age 20, we have a problem." - you gotta read the rest
  • travis does a great job of putting the issue of social justice in a nutshell for the church (great post travis). i like this statement: "How can we indulge in our portion without even giving a thought to the oppressed around the world and in our neighborhoods?" also, head over to ncc and check out what they're doing to address this and put it on the radar for their congregation - great idea!
  • perry's church had a 'hell' of a sunday - so great to see anderson, sc, reached for Christ and the creativity with which newspring is reaching out with - way to go newspringers! 110 people saved! ENOUGH SAID!

to quote...

one of the movies i enjoy watching over and over is 'gladiator'...less than 8 minutes in there's this quote:

"what we do in life...
...echoes in eternity"

i love that quote!

why this video

for those that may read this on a feeder or google reader, click through and watch this video...

interesting stats

was doing a little research for the 30606 zip code where our church is located's what i found out:
  • 66% of our population is between the ages of 6-46
  • 6% of our population is 6 and under
  • that means that a full 72% of the people in our demographic zip code are under the age of 46 - that's a large percentage (it's roughly 6% higher than the US average)
  • approximately 37% of household have NO 'faith involvement'
  • the average age in 30606 is: 36.3
  • 34% of household are single parents
  • the hispanic/latino ethnic group is projected to grow at almost 21% over the next 5 years
  • millennials are the largest generational segment at 34% (born b/w 1981-2001)
interesting stuff (at least to me) - so, what are the implications of these numbers as they relate to cotn?
off the top of my head, i see several:
  • ministry to single parents is needed now more than ever
  • ministry to the hispanic/latino ethinic group is needed more than ever
  • 40% (almost HALF!) are under the age of 25 (add the millennials to those under the age of 6 - 'Generation Z') - thats a lot of children, youth and college/young adult ministry opportunity!
  • we need more churches - it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of pePublish Postople (Christian of course is what i'm referring to) - i don't have the stats to prove this, but i believe it'd be safe to say that if everyone showed up for church on a sunday morning, we'd run out of room (speaking of all the churches)
keep in mind that this reflect only the 30606 zip code - it'd take all day to run the number on all the zips that we reach - but what this points out is some simple facts for those close to us - what do you implications do you see for these numbers?

liberation athens

below is a post from facebook for all that are participating in Liberation Athens...don't forget! Friday, 8pm corner of Washington and College in downtown athens. my final word: EXPECT!

Grace and peace to you all in the Name of Christ!

As we all continue to prepare for our meeting together this Friday night, our total focus is on our Lord Jesus Christ. For we claim to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified! He IS our life! We are not meeting to hear a famous band play, or even a famous speaker or preacher, we are gathering AS ONE to meet with our God and King. It is our earnest desire for the Lamb of God to receive the reward of His suffering. Beloved, this is just the beginning of what God is doing in our midst. He is at work and our expectation is in Him. We know that this is not just an "event" or another activity to be a part of. We believe He is at work and His people are being moved by His mighty right hand. We know that His work first begins in His people.

We praise Him for all of His children that He has used over these many years. We are grateful for His grace and mercy that we live in such a time as this. As we continue to seek His face, long for His Kingdom, plead for His mercy, obey His commandments by the power of His Holy Spirit, confess and repent of our sin, God will surely revive us. We know that when He is at work and we join Him, everything changes. Come to Athens Lord Jesus! Come and cleanse Your Church! Raise her up to boldly proclaim Your Gospel. Come and redeem Your city!

We also want to communicate some logistics:

1) Please be on time. In fact, be early! Park in the deck to save time and gas!

2) Bring camping chairs to sit in.

3) Please come expecting God to move-being flexible to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

4) Remember we need to be careful to honor our authorities and obey all laws.

5) Come in a spirit of prayer, expecting, waiting and listening!

Liberation Athens