Tuesday, December 30, 2008


hey yall. I am updating this blog using tracys phone. so this will be short. God is really doing amazing things. Pray that tonight is another special night. We are getting ready to start. I can't figure out how to do a comma. Anyways.tonight is Third Day and Ergun Caner. it should be an incredible night. Thanks for all your prayers. my fingers are tired. I'm done.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Xtreme Update 1 - Monday Night

Well, we are here, and I'm really tired. 

But, it has been one of the most amazing nights ever for our youth group.  An awesome guy named Tony Nolan spoke to us tonight and brought da THUNDA!!!  It was great, he spoke the gospel simply and plainly.  A big number of our youth made recommitments and realized there need for a stronger commitment to Christ. 

There were 2 of our teenagers who, for the first time, committed there life to Christ!!!!!


Well, I'm too tired to write anymore.

We are here, check back tomorrow for more info. 

Check out this picture of Daniel Stephenson.  That's what happens to youth leaders on a trip!!!



Monday, December 8, 2008

Re: What is Jesus telling you to do?

Macedonia Family,

Sunday, I was given the privilege to share with you all what God has been speaking to my heart lately.  But, the biggest thing that God has been speaking to my heart lately is something that goes beyond Sunday morning.  I think so many times we're guilty of hearing the sermon and being moved at a worship service, but finding ourselves back in the same rut on Monday morning.

So, I want to ask you to consider again some of the ideas we spoke of Sunday morning!
What Jesus do you believe in?  Convenient Jesus? Rabbits foot Jesus? Or, the dangerous Jesus of the Bible!?!?!?!
What risk is Jesus leading you to take that you just aren't taking?
I want to hear from you and what the Lord is doing in your heart.   I also encourage you to be in this conversation with those closest to you.  Ask yourselves on a daily basis - what does Jesus want me to do today?

What risk does He want me to take?  What bold move is He leading me to?
For me, God has been leading my heart over the course of a few years and he's implanted into my heart 3 big risks for the church:
1.  That we would boldly reach the unchurched people in our community (and don't kid yourselves, there's a bunch of them and you know some of them)
2.  That we would plant churches in communities that are out of our reach (Holly Springs, Dunn/Erwin, Sanford, etc.)
3.  That pastors and missionaries would come out of our church and spread the name of Jesus across the globe.


If we plant a church or send missionaries, we might be sending families who are big givers and who are heavily involved in ministry.  But, IN GOD'S ECONOMY, the dollar doesn't matter.

What matters is:
That we go and make disciples of all nations!
That we further God's kingdom, not ours!

So, what's God leading you to: 
Share with me! Share with your friends, spouse, children!


Leave some comments here to continue this discussion.

I'm done.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Xtreme Winter Conference - Part 2

I've got some more details for our Xtreme Conference.  I don't know if anyone has actually checked out the information here, but I'm putting it up anyways.

So, what's the info?  I've been informed of what hotel we're staying in!!

And, it looks like this year we'll be in some nice digs.

Anyways, we're staying at the Greystone Lodge.  You can check it out by clicking here.

Don't forget, if you want to find out more about the Xtreme Conference, you can go to the website here.

We're getting pumped about our time there.  Don't forget, have your money in by December 1st.  So, far, Joseph Jarmon and Nick Thomas are the only 2 that have turned in everything!!  

I'm pumped!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Xtreme Winter Conference

Parents, hopefully you have received a letter about our upcoming winter conference to Gatlinburg - Xtreme.
I just wanted to let you know that this is the right place.  

If you want to check out the website for the conference, it's www.xtremeconferences.com

Check back here regularly for any updates.  
If you have any questions, you can always email me - joshbenfield@gmail.com


Monday, August 18, 2008

Re: Missions

God has been dealing with me on some pretty big issues lately. And, I want to take some time here to sort of write these thoughts down.

One of the biggest things that I've been learning from the Lord is the idea of seizing divine moments. When God gives you an opportunity to follow through with something He is calling you to do, it is an opportunity to seize a divine moment.

What are the moments that God is placing in front of you?
What excuses are you using to avoid the opportunity to seize?
Who in your life is a discouraging voice in the face of these opportunities?
Who is an encouraging voice?

I believe that the voice of God in our hearts is often pushed away because of hurdles that we can't see a way over. We are guilty of not seeing the forest for the trees. We're too stuck in our little lives and our tiny circumstances to see the part we play in the grand purpose of the Creator.

If that's you today, I pray that you will seize whatever divine moment God is placing in front of you. As I have taken the first step of seizing that moment, God has continued to display to me each step along the way.

I'm done.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Re: Wednesday Night Update

So, here are a few more pictures. I know they both include me or Tracy, but hey, we'll have more pictures later.

The pastor's wife convinced me to dress up in this ridiculous blow up bull outfit and jump around the stage like a wild man. The other picture is Tracy, April, Jacob and the rest of the group jumping around to the theme song of "Round Up".

It's been an awesome trip still. Today, Barron Harrison had the highest privilege of a believer. He was able to lead someone to the Lord today while we were walking around a shopping area. It's amazing to see how the Lord used Barron to do such an awesome work today.

We had our third night of camp and it went great. We only have 2 nights left!! Wow!! This week has already flown by. We are all anxious to be home but already we are not looking forward to leaving our new High Tide Church family behind.

Thank you for all your prayers and comments.

We are so blessed to be a part of such an awesome work up here. I wish all of you could see the incredible things that are happening in Delaware. Please pray that we continue to be a benefit to them and to the people with whom we come in contact. The manager at the hotel we are staying said that we are the best group she's ever had and all of our kids have been very respectful. That's so great (and, partially because I threatened them with their life if they messed up anything at the hotel).

Well, it's 11:00 on Wednesday night, I need to get to bed. We love you all!! See ya soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Re: Tuesday Morning Update

This is a beautiful Delaware sunset.
We have now finished the first day of G-Force camp with High Tide Church.

We had the privilege of having 136 kids come to the camp on the first night!! That is the highest attendance High Tide Church has ever had at their summer camps. This camp is a big catalyst for their church and typically brings in a large number of new, unchurched families. Our teenagers did an incredible job leading the small groups. Every one of our teenagers was leading one of the small groups of children: teaching lessons, playing games and loving on the kids.

Many of these kids come from very rough homes and a number of our teens shared how heartbroken they were to hear the stories of these kids who have seen so much hurt and dysfunction in their lives. But, the Lord is good and He will use this opportunity to plant the seed of the gospel in the hearts of these children.

I will try to post some pictures of the camp sometime later today, but it's 7:00 in the morning and the camera is still in one of the rooms with sleepin' people. I want them to get their sleep, so I'll get the camera later.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Re: Delaware - Sunday update

Well, I think we have completely exhausted everyone of energy and we still have about 4 more hours of preparation left.

Today was an awesome day. We got here at the fire hall at 6:00am. Yes, parents, your kids do function that early in the morning. We helped the High Tide staff turn the empty rooms into an amazing worship center, kids worship center and a preschool area. After set up, we had an 8:30 service and a 10:00 service, then we broke down all of that stuff again.

The commitment of this church is absolutely amazing. In only 5 years, they have grown a church to an average of close to 400 in attendance. God has truly blessed Pastor Andy and Tanya (his wife) and the rest of the staff and leadership here. Today was an unforgettable experience.

After lunch, we reported back to the fire hall to set up for our week of camp, which is called G-Force Camp. We are getting close to finishing up the prep work for that, then we will be having a worship time with the youth from High Tide and some pizza!

Please keep us in your prayers. Most everyone is tired and in need of some sleep.

Tomorrow morning will bring some rest, but we are still just at the beginning of this week.

We are sure that God is going to grow each and every one of us in an awesome and unexpected way.

Hopefully, I'll keep the updates regular.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Delaware - Saturday Night Update

So, we're here. If you haven't heard from your kids, I wanted to let you know.

These pictures are proof. We got here in 9 hours, the trip was smooth and we even had a few hours to run to the beach and hang out for a little bit.

We also got the chance to hang out with Pastor Andy and his wife and two other staff members of the church we are working with here. The church is called High Tide Church. Andy and Tanya started it 5 years ago and they have more than 350 people attending their services each week. Even cooler than that, a bunch of the people who come to their church aren't Christians. So, they are having an awesome opportunity to share the gospel with people each week.

Andy even shared with us that they baptized 4 people this morning (and they baptized them at the beach, which is saweeeeeettt!!!!).

So, that's a quick update for today. We are getting up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to go help the church set up for their service.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be an awesome day.

So, please keep lifting us up.

You'll hear from me tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Re: Delaware Update: Night before


I am so pumped about this trip. This evening, most of the leaders came to the church along with a few of the students and we got all of the food and equipment packed and ready to ride.

Tomorrow, we'll leave bright and early and get rolling for a good long day of traveling.

I am absolutely blown away at the way people have been lifting us up in prayer. Today, my dad prayed with me over the phone, a bunch of friends called and emailed and said they are praying for us, and one close friend even typed out a prayer in the email. It was awesome.

We need your prayers. This trip will be exhausting spiritually, physically and emotionally.

I have included the prayer that was sent to me over email, read this and pray it for us.

""Dear God I lift up all our leaders praying for a safe and progressive trip. I lift the teens going up asking that you would do a great work in their lives and they would be surrounded by the Holy Spirit. I ask that you cause hearts to burst , and eyes to be open by the truths of your word. I pray the teens would experience spiritual revival on their trip and know that God is real and able to take their lives and transform them into His will. I pray for everlasting changes to take place in their hearts. Oh God hear our voices , we cry out for a revolution amongst our youth. We fight the attacks Satan sends our way, and with loud voices, we say "our God says you ,Satan, have no authority over us!!" We shield ourselves in the comfort of your words, change the lives OH Lord of those who believe they are unchangeable and strengthen the lives of our leaders , so they may feel your power within them! We give you praise our Lord for your goodness, and remember the ones who are willing to make the steps necessary to minister to your children.""

We love you all.

Check back regularly. I'll do my best to update it each day of the trip.

OH, and if you want to relay a message to someone on our trip, click on comments at the bottom of each update and leave a comment and tell me who to relay the message to. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Re: Believe

If we, as Christians, really believe what we say, shouldn't the attitude of Christ be so dominant in our lives that nothing else is seen but that?

I am absolutely exhausted of experiencing gossip, bitterness and flat out hatred among so called believers. What is wrong with us?

Do we really believe? Do we really believe that Jesus died for our sins? Do we really believe that without Jesus we are destined for eternity in hell?

If we really believe that, shouldn't it be easy and natural to get along with our fellow Christians, to seek true fellowship with them? Instead of holding on to a root of bitterness!

I know, weird post, just something I've been working through lately. Jesus, give us the courage to live out your words.

I'm done.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Re: Preaching

So, I'm up in two weeks for the Sunday morning worship service. I have been at Macedonia for about two years now and this will be my 5th time preaching the morning service. I would say that's probably more than average in a church where the pastor has been there for 20 plus years and I'm the new guy, so I definitely count it a privilege to get to speak.

But, I've been wrestling on what to bring that Sunday morning.

I thought I would have more to say about this subject, but apparently I don't.

I don't want to bore them to death for 30 minutes, I don't want to bring some lighthearted mess that doesn't have any sort of life application, I don't want to spend the bulk of the time exegeting the text and talking about the Greek form of the word (plus, I don't know how to do that).

I do want to stir their souls. I do want to move them to action. I do want to light a fire under their tails to get them excited about God's kingdom.

Lord, show me your Word, give me the courage to teach your Word and, more importantly, give me the courage to live it!

I'm done.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Re: Prayer

I am fully aware of the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian. Sometimes, though, it's easy to forget that. Sometimes, we forget about prayer because we don't do it.

Something I have realized lately is that when I try to live for the Lord on an island, it's impossible. Most of the time, I work by myself in the office, so it's easy for me to get accustomed to being alone. But, I have learned recently how much more gets accomplished when a team is working together for one purpose.

Ok, so, it's taken me 20 minutes to write this and I feel like my brain is all over the place.

Here's where I was trying to get:
This morning, I spent a lot of time praying with two of my closest brothers in the Lord. It was awesome! It is a special thing to pray for each other, to know that someone else is thinking about you, praying for you and cares about how your day, week, month, life turns out.

I love to pray alone, it's an awesome time with God.
But, I really love to pray with others who are pursuing Jesus too! That is something that is particularly special to me!

OH, and I got a new banner. DTD made it for me, best graphic designer ever!! Sweet!!

I'm done.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Re: Honor

In my last post I referred to the things the Lord was teaching me and walking me through on my own spiritual journey. And, a lot of that was the source for when I preached on Sunday morning a few weeks ago.

One of the things that continues to be brought to my attention through a number of different ways is the idea of honoring our leaders. It seems like so many churches are falling apart at the seams because of a lack of respect for the leaders of the church, lack of respect for parents, and the list could continue.

For me, specifically, my burden has been for the issue of showing honor to my pastor. While I can't say that I agree with every decision my pastor has ever made, I can say that I recognize that he is a man of God and has walked with God for much longer than I've been alive.

I must honor that. I must honor the fact that he has walked through things I can't even imagine. Even as fresh as today, I was able to be transparent with my pastor about what the Lord may be stirring in me. If I had a non-existent relationship with my pastor, I couldn't go to him with those sort of thoughts and lay them out for him. But, because I want to honor him, I don't want to walk into his office in two years and tell him I'm moving on and I've been thinking about it for two years. Instead, I am asking him to be praying with me on the ground level of what God is stirring in me. Perhaps God will reveal some things to him as well as me and through that we will receive confirmation from the Lord. My pastor will also be able to extend words of caution, wisdom, experience and instruction.

It's more common in today's society to strive for the top, no matter who or what it costs. However, I believe that God will honor the level of communication and respect I have for my leaders. Perhaps when I am leading a church, I will be able to have people serving with me who will extend the same sort of honor and respect.

Well, that's my thought for now.

I'm done.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Re: Lessons

I had the awesome privilege of preaching at our morning service yesterday and it was a really great experience. I've preached in that service a few times before, but this time seemed different.

The only way I can explain the difference that I felt is that God has been teaching me SO much lately and I had SO much to say through sharing all of those lessons that God has been pouring in to me.

Here are a few of the things that God is teaching me, I just want to share them again:
1. Pastors equip the people for the work of the ministry - they can't DO all of the ministry. Historically, Southern Baptist churches have pretty much relied on the pastor to DO all of the ministry. There's a major flaw in that reasoning, it's WRONG!! Pastors are to teach the word, pray and equip the church for ministry. Then, followers of Jesus are to go out and do ministry!

2. I need to take risks - I need to take Jesus directed risks. I refuse to be OK with how things are because I have a good income, the church keeps doing OK (just OK). I want to take some Jesus risks to see His kingdom grow. I can't say that I know exactly what that means right now, I just know that I need to be risky (not risque).

3. I need to act with urgency - I need to make sharing Jesus more a part of my everyday life. If I believe that heaven and hell are real, and that people without Christ are destined for hell, I need to act with urgency to infiltrate the culture with Jesus. One of the ways the Lord has been teaching me to do this is through my finances. Jesus has been generous with me, I should in turn be generous. I should use my finances to infiltrate this culture with acts that reflect the light of Christ in my life.

Well, that's just a sample of what God has been teaching me. I'll admit that it's been a somewhat difficult time and that some of teachings have been humbling and have really broken me at times. But, I know that God, in His perfect sovereignty, sees the end result and He is still working on getting me there.

I'm done.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Re: Being the church

If I was asked what lesson God was searing into my heart over the last year, the overwhelming answer is simple, that we are to "be the church".

For my entire life, being at the church has been normal. My parents were a part of church growing up and we were always there, for everything, always!! But, as the Lord has been teaching me recently, the idea of being the church has little or nothing to do with a building and everything to do with actions that are reflective of the presence of Christ in one's life.

Saturday, a friend of mine was involved in a fundraiser for a guy who was injured at work, had no disability insurance and had a young daughter at home. He is a single father, and with his injuries he will be out of work for a few more months. The awesome thing about this fundraiser: it was initiated by individuals. These individuals came from different churches, backgrounds, religious beliefs, etc. But, they were all united in raising money for someone in need.

Shouldn't that be how we represent Christ? We shouldn't be dependent on an event at the church to share Christ through our lives. We shouldn't have to wait for the church to schedule something so that we can volunteer our time for a worthy cause.

To my friend, thank you for being an example to me. Thank you for shining like a star as you hold out the word of life and shine as a light for Christ in a world that is filled with darkness.

Jesus, give me the courage to do the same!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Re: Chicago

I have not updated in a long time and there's really no good reason for it. I was very motivated at the beginning to write some awesome articles about Jesus, life, stuff and other random thoughts that pop out of my head.

Well, what has happened in the last few months? By far, the best thing I've done was surprise Tracy with a 3 day trip to Chicago. We flew to Chicago on SkyBus, the now non-existent discount airline. We only paid 10 bucks each for our tickets. Maybe that's why they're bankrupt?

Those are a few of our pictures from Chicago. It was so awesome. It was the first time in my life that I actually surprised Tracy. She's like a flippin' detective. She always figures out everything. I actually booked the trip and kept my big mouth shut for over 2 months. The main reason that she always figures stuff out is because I'm stupid and terrible at hiding stuff, so it normally slips out.

One of the most important things I have been learning through the last few months, and it was reinforced to me on this trip, is the importance of protecting your wife in ministry. It's always possible for the wife of a pastor to get some unrealistic expectations slapped on her back. But, I have taken seriously the importance of protecting my wife.

She's not your typical pastor's wife who plays the piano, leads children's ministry, teaches all the womens classes and cooks 15 meals a week for everyone who's ever been sick. Tracy has a full-time job, she's the best math teacher ever, she's a softball coach (also the best ever) and I refuse to ask her to take care of 38 different ministries at the church.

God has called her to work with teenagers, so she's a middle school girls small group leader in our youth group. Her ministry, though, is not limited to that, she is in the midst of hundreds of teenagers and teachers every day, living as a light for Christ.

Sidenote: She's definitely the hottest teacher at school, she actually has a student who has a crush on her and had another teacher ask her out the other day!!! Ha!! (He must have missed the big fat diamond on her hand)

Anyways. That's my 2 cents for today. I love ministry, I love teenagers, I love being a pastor. But, none of that comes anywhere near how much I love Tracy. And, she's way more important than anything at the church. She's my #1 ministry and I refuse to fail as the leader of my home!

Ok. I'm done.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Re: Fasting

There have been key moments in my life where I fasted and prayed that the Lord would direct me, my thoughts and those involved with the circumstance. Tracy and I fasted for 5 days before we were married. We fasted again for a few days when an opportunity for a job change came up just a year into our marriage. We fasted one more time when we were praying about moving to our current situation at Macedonia Baptist in Duncan, NC.

Is fasting only supposed to be for major events, though? Does it have to be a day, week, what?

Fasting, like exercise, is something that is hard to commit to but always ends with good results. Every time I have fasted, I have found myself at the feet of Jesus and in a place where my thoughts are becoming like his.

So, why do I avoid it like the plague sometime?

Unconfessed sin, laziness, satisfaction with mediocrity, who knows.

I know this, my greatest desire is to Love God with all my heart, soul and mind. And, when I fast, I am getting a glimpse of what that really means.

I'm done.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Re: Love

When the Pharisees asked Jesus which one of the commandments was the greatest, what did he say?
His answer gives us a peak into what should be the foremost characteristic for those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ.
Simply put, Jesus spoke: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind....Love your neighbor as yourself!

As I have thought about this idea of love in the context of the church, many different ideas have come to mind. We are to love the unloved, the poor, widows, orphans, kids from bad homes, families who are falling apart. Yes, this all is true, Jesus' love in action. Good stuff.

But, as I consider the idea of church, I have begun to think of a different sort of love that we (as pastors, leaders, etc.) could display to those who are in the flock. I must first ask the question, though, what qualifies a person to be called a committed believer? Is it church attendance? Is it involvement in everything? Is it busyness?

I think that, many times, those who are considered to be the strongest believers are simply the ones who are at the building the most. I am not saying this is totally incorrect. But, as I have begun to develop the idea of a simple church (that's the title of a book I read, it's awesome, read it), I have begun to realize the necessity of doing less for more (that line is stolen from Andy Stanley).

A successful Christian or a successful church is not simply marked by the busyness of their calendar, but by the actual impact they are making for the kingdom of God. My next thought is, at this point, banter. I have not studied it nor do I feel as if it is the perfect answer. It's simply in the philosophical realm for now. Here goes. What if the church put together its calendar in a way that increased the impact of the body instead of simply increasing the busyness? Do we really have to have Bible studies when we already have Sunday School, morning and evening worship services and mid-week gatherings? Do we really need to have 7 different Christmas parties for all the different ministry groups in the church?

My biggest concern is this: We fill all of our heads with knowledge. We know HOW to be men of God, we know HOW to love our wives, we know HOW to act like Jesus, but it never turns into action. All this knowledge is worthless unless it is played out in our lives through our actions, aka OBEDIENCE!!

I just read an article by a writer named Kim Heffner (no relation to Hugh). In her article, she asks this question:
“Are you fulfilling your purpose to love those around you like Jesus does?”

That, my friend, is the right question! Our calendars will always be busy enough. There will always be enough to do. The question is, do we love like Jesus does?

I'm done.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Re: Excellence Part 2

I was recently reminded of a quote from my first pastor as a child, Dr. Jack Hudson. He said this, "There's first class and there's no class". Dr. Hudson has been with the Lord for 18 years now, but I still remember how he always put an emphasis on doing things right. Dr. Hudson did not solely focus on excellence for excellence sake. He was also known for this saying (I hope I get it right): "If you and your folk love me and my folk like me and my folk love you and your folk, no one will love folk like you and your folk love me and my folk". Dr. Hudson was the last of the Charlotteans who was still a good ole country boy. In this quote, he was simply stating that if we love each other in the body of Christ, we will reflect the love of Christ to those around us. And, our love for Christ and each other will be hard to ignore.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I am coming to understand that excellence and love are two elements of the church that are almost synonymous. As I said earlier, when we gather as the body of Christ, we have the opportunity to share the Word of God, possibly to some who may be far from God and have no relationship with Jesus. If we love them and care for those people, we will do everything within our power to place them in an environment that is conducive for worship. We will also do everything within our power to bring the absolute best that we have in music, preaching, sound, video, announcements, EVERYTHING! We should never take lightly the opportunity that we have to share the gospel for the first time with someone.

It is also important to realize that when distractions exist, we are allowing ourselves to get in the way of the work of the Holy Spirit. I was in chapel at seminary yesterday and I experienced this first hand. The speaker was wearing one of those headset mics and, as he began to speak, the mic began to crackle and pop. Finally, after 10 minutes, the doofus at the sound board figured it out and shut that mic off and turned on the podium mic. Well, the speaker was clueless about all this (and possibly deaf, too) and continued to walk around the stage despite the fact that the podium mic was the only one picking up his voice. There we were, 1500 students or so, straining to hear what he was saying. I left that chapel frustrated, annoyed and without a clue of what the speaker had brought before us that day. That was NOT EXCELLENT!

Hear this, as well. I quote a good friend, Brady: "The kingdom of God will not be singlehandedly thwarted by my incompetence". I do not think that a simple sound issue will prevent the work of the Holy Spirit. I believe that God works when He wants, despite us. But, He does want us to bring our best.

Simply put, I'm of the opinion that when we do something, we are a reflection of Christ and a reflection of Christians. If we don't take our gatherings seriously, then those far from God may get the idea that we don't take our faith seriously. Lord, may that never be said of me.

I'm done.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Re: Excellence

I haven't blogged in a while, mostly because I'm just not sure what to write. I have different ideas about stuff, but I don't want this to be my online journal, but an expression of what I believe God is calling us to be, as His church.

Last night we had an awesome meeting at church that took a look at our upcoming year and how to accomodate and encourage the growth that is taking place in our ministry. It is always exciting and humbling to take steps to prepare for growth.

A big part of what the Lord laid on my heart for last night dealt with the theme of excellence.

I want to really hash out the idea of excellence and study it and understand what God desires from us. But, I think I can take a quick look at it here. The first thing that comes to mind is that in the Old Testament, God required that a SPOTLESS lamb be brought to sacrifice. Anything less was unacceptable. Then, when it was time for God to make a sacrifice Himself, He gave that which was most valuable to Him, His Son.

Should that not drive us in the way we approach life, church, our job. We should give just as He gave to us. We should do everything with excellence. We should give our best.

This is especially important to me in the execution of a gathering of the church. I think we should strive for excellence in everything: high quality music, smooth transitions, seamless media and powerful preaching. This is not something to strive for just to be excellent, but because this may be the one chance we have to speak to someone's heart who may be far from God.

I'll close with a statement from my Teen Valley Ranch days (www.tvr.org). We want to create an environment conducive for worship and for the ministering of the Word, FREE FROM ALL DISTRACTIONS!

I'm done.