Sunday, May 17, 2009

Re: Engagement


No matter how crazy my life is, no matter how unsure I am of the next step in life, no matter what stuff is happening, the lives of other people keep going on.

 

Friday, May 15, my little bro, Daniel, proposed to his freakin' awesome girlfriend, Leah Casky.  OH, yeah, she said Yes!!! 

 

So, in honor of my brother, I am making a list of why he is awesome:

 

1.  He actually paid for his ring!!  Here's the story.  Our grandma left us one diamond.  Me, being the loving big brother, I took it and used it for when I proposed.  I spent a total of about $500 on a ring that is worth about $5000.   Daniel actually went out, saved a crap load of money, bought a flippin' awesome ring and it's BE-E-A-UTIFUL!!!!  WOW!!

 

2.  He has lived like 5 places since he graduated from high school.  He lived in Africa, West Viriginia, back in Charlotte, Montana, Asheville, Montana, back in Charlotte.  Wow!!  He lived the life, did what he wanted and then decided to sort of settle down.  I'm a little jealous of all the cool stuff he has done in the last 7 or 8 years.  

 

3.  He picked an awesome girl.  Leah is the perfect complement to him.  They are both freakin' crazy, exciting, funny and all kinds of weird.  She is perfect for him.  I've prayed that he would find someone who would complement him the way Tracy complements me.  I would be totally incomplete without Tracy, now that's Daniel and Leah.  SWEET!!!

 

4.  He has good taste in beverages.  I'll leave it at that...fat tire.

 

5.  He's a risk taker

 

6.  He can do anything.  He made Tracy and I a table of like 5 different types of wood - oak, maple, cherry, other stuff.  He can paint.  He's all over the place.  He can do just about anything. 

 

7.  He has really cool goals.  He doesn't see life as a boring job to be had, but an exploration that he has been on for 26 years.

 

8.  He loves Jesus.

 

9.  Tigger, Kentuck Mumbler, etc.

 

10.  He is the only other person in the world who truly understands how weird our parents are!

 

11.  He is crazy loyal, especially to our family.  He's a much better grandson, nephew, son, etc. than me.

 

 

I think I'm going to stop at 11.  I don't have to have a good even number.  I'm just going to stop there.  My brother is my best male friend in this world (only Tracy is closer).  I don't think many people in this world have brothers as good as mine.  He's awesome.  I can't wait for him to be married, have some babies, do awesome things with his life!  

 

So, yeah, he and Leah are engaged.  I'm pumped!  The ring is beautiful (see above).

I'm done.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Re: Emotions

So, apparently, part of being a church planter means that there are going to be UNBELIEVABLE emotional ups and downs.  One morning, I wake up fully confident that Cynergy Church is going to take Holly Springs by storm, that we are going to start a revolution that will multiply across the world as God provides.  The next morning,  I wake up pretty sure that I've done the most stupid thing in the world and we are going to fail, Tracy and I will be poor forever and I'm ready to give up.

I am an emotional guy, probably a little more than most guys, and I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve just a little bit.  But, the one thing that has remained constant through my emotional ups and downs is the clarity of the calling that God placed on my life to be a part of a church plant that's going to change a town, city, region, state and world.  

So, I'm not quitting, right now.  I knew this wasn't going to be easy.  I'm not sure I was prepared for it to be this hard, but I know that God is going to take care of us.  He's going to provide us with the things we need, he's going to honor our efforts and he's going to accomplish what He has set out to accomplish, with or without us.  

Truth is, I'd rather be on mission for God and be on an emotional roller coaster than to have a lots of money and worldly success but have nothing real to live for.  

Guess that's it for today.

I'm done.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Re: Worried

So, I'm worried.  Here's the deal, I like kids, just not that much.  For the most part, kids tend to get on my nerves.  I don't think this is all that unusual, but there are 2 major problems.  First, Tracy is 4 1/ 2 months pregnant with our first child, who at this point is a boy named Wyatt Grady.  Second, Tracy and I are leading "CynergyKIDS" at Cynergy Church every Sunday night at 6:00pm.  

Truth is, I really do enjoy being around children and I enjoy getting to tell them about the difference that Jesus has made in my life.  I probably enjoy teaching teenagers more, but kids are fun, too.  But, I guess one of my major concerns is that it seems like so few parents are investing real time into raising their children.  They simply give them what keeps them happy and/or quiet and/or occupied.  

Tracy and I sense a strong burdening (is that a real word?) from the Lord to be about raising Godly kids who are secure in who they are, who are respectful of adults and WHO WE ENJOY SPENDING TIME WITH!!  I don't think most parents enjoy spending time with their kids.  

Anyone who reads this (which I know there's only like 2 people, one of them is me), anyways, anyone who reads this and has kids is probably thinking that I'm fooling myself and it will never happen like that.  You're probably thinking, "you just wait, it will change".   Yeah, I've heard it.  But, I've seen families (maybe literally 1 or 2), but I've seen them, who enjoy being together, who don't get wrapped up in dating, where kids don't hate their parents, where parents enjoy time with kids, where Jesus is the center of the family.   I wanna be that.

I'm excited about being a dad, I really am!  I'm excited about raising a son, too.  I can't wait to teach him about the most beautiful woman in the world (whom he will know as Mom, or Mama). I can't wait to sit him down one day and teach him about being a man, to see him taking care of his younger brother(s) and/or sister(s) if the Lord gives us that.  I can't wait to tell him about how Tracy (aka Mom) is way more important to me than him, but outside of Jesus and Mom, nothing else in the world comes even close.  I can't wait to see him take his first step, say his first word, make an eternal commitment to Jesus, do crazy stuff for the kingdom and be an awesome big brother.  And, hopefully, he'll be left handed, just because that's cool.

Geez, this is enough.  I'm freakin' pumped!! Cynergy went well again tonight!  I'm flippin' pumped about what God is going to do!!

I'm done.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WOW!!

The last few weeks have been a blur and we've already had 2 Sunday evening services with Cynergy and we're just a few short days from our 3rd.  

And, all I can say is WOW!! 

Here's the thing, we thought we knew exactly how to do everything!
We didn't.

We thought tons of people would show up and we'd have a mega-church by the 3rd week.  
We won't.

We got this idea that all we had to do was just say we would do things with excellence and everything else would fall in to place.
Didn't happen.

So, I'm ready to quit, right? Umm, heck no!!!

This is the most amazing thing I've ever been able to be a part of.

I am learning that if I want something to happen, I need to make sure it happens.

I am learning that when I say that the core team is here to be the "staff" for Pastor Perry, we need to be the one who hold him up.  When I say that, we really have to do that.  Even within the first few weeks, it's easy for the pastor to get everything thrown at him, we gotta have his back, FO REAL!!

I'm learning that part of doing something for the kingdom of God means that there is going to be a personal investment, there is going to be a personal cost.  If it costs nothing, it's not worth it.  

On top of all that, Tracy and I found out we are having a boy.  Wyatt Grady.  In the midst of all this, WOW!!  God is bringing about 2 of the biggest changes in my life all at the same time!  Wow!!  I want to talk more about fathering a son, hopefully next time. 

WOW!!!!

I'm done.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Re: Cynergy Church

The time is almost here!! We have been praying and planning for this moment for what seems like two years now!  

And, it's getting here faster than we ever imagined.  This Sunday night, we will be having our first public service for Cynergy Church at the Holly Springs School of Dance, located at 136 Oakhall Drive in Holly Springs, NC - at 6:00pm!!  The owner of the studio has been incredibly generous to allow us to use the facilities there for our gathering.

I am so incredibly excited to see how God is going to use Perry and the team from Cynergy to make a crazy big impact on the Holly Springs area.  I really do believe that God is setting each step in front of us.  And, in his timing, he waits just long enough so that we really have to depend on him, not on ourselves.  I have been just blown away by the way that the Lord has provided over the last few weeks and how He has orchestrated each step before we were ever sure how or when we might take that step.

Now, we will turn our attention to putting all of these thoughts and ideas to action.  We are going to hold a church service.  We are going to share with the community what has been in our hearts for an exceedingly long time.  

Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to serve you!!  

I can't wait to see what He's going to do with Cynergy!

I'm done!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Re: Clarify the Win

I missed a few days because we went to Unleash Conference at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC.  It was amazing!!  I really can't explain it.  If you ever get a chance, go!!!  I think this years main sessions will be online soon, www.newspring.cc/unleash  Once the videos are online, it will be worth your time to watch them!! 

As I continue to take a look at the 7 principles (from Andy Stanley's 7 practices of effective ministry), today we look at Clarify the Win.

This is such a simple concept and it makes me sick to my stomach that churches, by and large, have simply ignored this idea for the sake of laziness or tradition.

It's simple - ask yourself this question - For our church, what is a win?  A baseball team knows what a win is.  A teacher knows what a win is for her students.  A business knows what a win is.  What is a win for the church?

For Cynergy, we have compressed it down to one simple phrase, A win is....That people would realize that there is more to life through Christ!

So, every ministry, everything we do will have to answer to that.  We will ask, does this ministry, does this series of messages, does this outreach accomplish the win that people would realize that there is more to life through Christ?

If the answer is no, we simply won't do it.  We'll talk more about this tomorrow.  But, one of the ways that this will manifest itself is that we won't do a bunch of programs and ministries to meet the needs and wants of the congregation.  Everything will be about accomplishing the win.  

And, as a member of Cynergy, it won't be about what you can get from the church, but about what you can accomplish for King Jesus through Cynergy Church.

Think about that in your church?  Has your church clarified the win?  Your youth ministry? your children's ministry?  What would happen if the whole group got on board with accomplishing the "win"?  We might actually see hell a little less crowded and heaven a little more!! 

I'm done.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Re: Cynergy Church

I'm gonna take a short break from Ecclesiastes.  We have been meeting with the core team of Cynergy Church and we are spending the next 8 days reading through the 7 principles of effective ministry by Andy Stanley.  What we've done, though, is to take a look at the 7 principles through the lens of the vision and values of Cynergy, and it's turned out to be very interesting.  It's also really helped us to develop a very clear picture of what Cynergy is going to look like.

I know that the 7 principles are not a new concept in churches, Andy Stanley has been developing them and sharing them with leaders for a while now.  But, it's new to us and it's exciting to think about the possibility of approaching church in a simple, straightforward way that keeps us focused on the one thing that's most important - to help people realize that there is more to life through Christ!

One of my worries, though, through this entire process is that we'll have the best plan, the best principles, the most amazing theories for church ever thought up, but we won't be able to deliver.  We won't see anything really happen, it'll be a flop!!  

So, what's the IT factor?  What is IT that actually causes life change.  Of course, the answer is that people realize that there's more to life through Christ and they give their lives over to Him!! 
I tend to be very practical, though, and there are 2 main things that I have given a lot of thought to that can be the IT factor:

1.  Be in the business of people.  We can't put ideas, principles or plans ahead of the people who we are trying to reach.  We must give ourselves to developing relationships, to loving people, and only because of what Christ has done in our lives, not because we want a big church of successful ministry.

2.  We must set a clear vision.  The Bible says in Proverbs - where there is no vision the people perish.  Every human being is looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  So, we must set a clear, consistent, powerful and motivating vision of why we're doing this, what we're doing and what we expect to happen.

IT will happen and people will know that there is more to life through Christ!!

I'm done.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 9 & 10

9:17 - The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.

10:12 - Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.

These verses are as accurate today as they were the day they were originally penned.  I think one of the most frustrating types of people for me to deal with are those who, when you're talking to them, are not listening but trying to think of a good response.

I've noticed this type of personality since I was a kid and it has always driven me crazy.  But, it's also driven me to be a good listener.  There are some times that it takes a while for me to come up with a response, because I'm trying to soak up what the person was saying.

I read somewhere recently, listen to someone as if you really care about what they're saying, and something strange will eventually happen, you will start to care.  I don't know if that's completely true, but I think it's at least a good idea.  

I want to be the type of person that, when I speak, I'm listened to.  And, it's not because of my authority or whatever, it's because I choose my words carefully, I don't speak just to be heard, I speak because their is something to be said.

I'm actually reading a book right now called "Why aren't we better listeners?"  It sheds some interesting light on the whole thing.

Moral for today - You've got 2 ears and one mouth, so you can listen twice as much as you talk.  Be a listener, care about what people say, and when you say something back, don't let it just be empty words, speak from your heart.  One more quote, "People won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care".

I'm done.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 7 & 8

7:14 - When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.

7:1 - A good name is better than fine perfume.

7:21 - Do not pay attention to every word peope say...

Isn't it amazing when we read Scripture, when we faithfully make it a part of our daily lives, it seems like God begins to bring certains texts in front of us on the exact day and time we need them!  

Times are bad.  I won't have a job in t-minus 25 days.  The prospect of me finding another job within that time frame is quickly dwindling.  But, God has made the bad times as well as the good.  And, he is teaching me patience, faith and perserverance, to follow what He's leading, no matter how ridiculous it might seem.

I have been reminded of the importance of having a good name as I have been preparing to step back into the secular work world.  Not that I've been a slacker in my job now, but it is all the more important to be a hard worker, to have integrity and to have a good name.  Again, Scripture affirms what God has been speaking in my heart.

Last thought - I worry about what other people think too much.  In my job search, I recently applied for a job that I was thinking - I would be embarrassed to work there.  But, then God reminded me - "Josh, your first priority is to provide for Tracy and the baby, not to be in a prestigious job somewhere".  

Wow!  That hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am ready and willing to work anywhere.  And, I'll give my all, maintain my integrity and make sure that my name is spoken well of, or at least thought of in connection to a passion for the kingdom of King Jesus!

I'm done!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 5 & 6

As we move closer to planting Cynergy Church, I also am moving closer to stepping down at Macedonia.  My last official day will be March 31st, a day that is too rapidly approaching.  With that day approaching, I find myself crippled with fear and worry about finding a job.  One of the hard parts about planting a church is that there are no jobs at the church to be had, so I've got to find a job somewhere else.  But, in the midst of an economy in the toilet, a guy with a banking degree and 6 years of experience in ministry is not of particular interest to those few people who do have jobs available.

But, as I read in Ecclesiastes this morning, I am somewhat comforted by the words spoken through this text.  One of my favorite songs of all time comes from 5:2 - where it says "God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." 

Later on in chapter 5 I am reminded that in the pursuit and love of wealth, we will find that we will never be satisfied with our income.  Whatever our goal is, when we reach it, we will want more, ALWAYS!

God is so hammering down on this for me, I think, because the pursuit of wealth does tend to be a focus in my heart.  

Perhaps the lack of success in my job hunt is the beginning of God calling on me to rely on him.  I heard someone say the other day - "work like it depends on you, but sleep like it depends on God".   

I won't sit around the house and expect a job to show up, I will go on interviews, submit resume's, keep looking.  But, if I really trust God, I'll go to bed at night confident that God is going to provide for our NEEDS according to His perfect will.

Thank you, LORD, for your promises.

5:7 - Much dreaming and many words are meaningless, THEREFORE STAND IN AWE OF GOD!!!

I'm done.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 3 & 4

This book continues to confuse me and astound me all at the same time.  One of the things that I am quickly realizing is that a life dedicated to Scripture will still be light years away from being able to fathom all that God is.  

Yet, I am excited because of the way God uses His Word to encourage me.  I am also seeing that my daily time in the Word is stockpiling ammunition against the sin that reigns in my mortal body. When I have not been in the Word, I find myself falling deeply into sin and not being able to pull myself out of it.  And, it spills over into the rest of my life, I'm a better husband, I eat healthier, I work out more often, I lose weight.  The Word of God is profitable in all areas of my life.

Today, 3:11 - It says that God has set eternity in the hearts of men.  Wow!!  Just last night, we met for our first meeting with Cynergy Church.  And, a major point of our time together was to point out that we will expend a lot of resources in order to see people come to know Christ.  

This is an encouraging passage, because it tells me that God has already set a recognition of eternity in the hearts of each human being (the word "man" meaning mankind or human).  So, our job with spreading the gospel is that much easier, we're just like traffic cops.  We are just waving our hands, pointing people in the right direction, towards Jesus.  And, when they see Jesus for who He really is and put that together with the eternity that has already been set in their heart - they'll give their lives to Him and His kingdom and His name will be praised!

I'm excited about Chapter 5, it's gonna be sweet.  But, I didn't want to read too much, I want to make sure I digest everything instead of just rolling through it.

I'm done.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Re: Ecclesiastes 1 & 2

I'm gonna try something new, I'm going to work through sections of Scripture here, both for my personal growth and for anyone who's bored enough to find and read this.

These first 2 chapters of Ecclesiastes are pretty frustrating to me.  Bascially, they say that everything we do in this life is meaningless, it's all a chasing after the sun.

1:8-9 - Especially stands out, the eye never has enough of seeing, the ear never enough of hearing, what has been done will be done again.  

For me, I tend to waste my time filling my eyes with TV, internet, movies, etc. and no matter how many hours of that I watch, I always want to see the new episodes, the new movies, because it never fully satisifies.  Same thing with the ear - music, radio, etc.

It takes a long time to get there, but eventually at the end of chapter 2 we see that God did give us these things for enjoyment (2:24).  God wants us to enjoy life, to eat, drink and find satisfaction in his work.  

Here's the kicker, though:
At the end of it all, it's meaningless, UNLESS.... we live life in an effort to please God, to bring praises to His name, then He returns to us wisdom, knowledge and happiness (notice is does not say riches, safety, etc.)  

But, for the one who ignores God, that person will work all his life for something that he'll have to give away at death...MEANINGLESS!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Re: contextualization

As we are progressing with planting a church, we are doing all that we can to soak up wisdom from those who have gone before us.  Last night, we got the chance to go to the church planting center at The Summit Church in Durham, NC, where J.D. Greear is the lead pastor.

The main purpose of his talk was the idea of contextualization.  There are certain things that do not change in the pursuit of preaching the gospel in any culture.   For example, in any culture, Jesus is always the way to salvation, the Bible is always the Word of God, etc.

But, we need to contextualize these truths in a manner that is communicable to the culture that is being targeted.  Therein lies the most important task in church planting.  We say that it is our desire to reach out to the people of Holly Springs, NC who currently do not either know Christ or attend a church.  In order for us to accomplish this task effectively, we will need to understand what it is going to take for this type of person to commit to Christ.

What an incredible task that lay before us.  

I'm done.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Da-na-na-na, BABY TIME!!

Well, I really do intend to be more regular on this blog, but I'm not, oh well.

Getting close to a month ago, Tracy and I found out we are pregnant.  Wait, she is pregnant.  I am in no way pregnant.  But, because the Bible and God say that we have become one because of the covenant of marriage, then, WE ARE PREGNANT!!!!!

WOOHOOO!!!!!!

So, the baby is due on September  16th, which is crazy exciting.  

Also, lots of stuff happening on the church planting front.  I will be stepping down from Macedonia at the end of March.  Between now and then, I need to find a job.  But, I will be stepping down in order to devote more attention to Cynergy Church, the name of our church plant.

We are going to begin small group type meetings at the end of March and we'll probably be aiming for an official launch date sometime around September.

So, that's what's been happening.  I'm going to try to make sure to update this once a week or so with updates about Cynergy.   

I'm done.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Re: Church Planting

I don't even know if anyone ever really reads this thing anymore.  I really do want to be a more frequent blogger, but it seems like I'm not great at coming up with stuff to write.

But, the big thing in my life as of late is church planting.  Tracy and I are on the verge of joining with a group of people here at Macedonia and planting a church in a nearby city.  It is going to be something that will stretch me in every sense of the word, it's going to be something that will change my life, my job, everything.

In all of this, I am extremely excited to be a part of this work of the Lord that is going to reach people with the gospel.  

One of my goals through this transition is that it is well documented via this blog.   Maybe that will help me be a more regular blogger.  Then again, maybe not.

I'm done.