Tornado Tithe Challenge

5 05 2011

I can vividly remember sitting in my bedroom with a small 13 inch tube television lighting my bedroom with strong winds and heavy rain swirling outside. My parents had just come into my room to turn on the weather channel as threats of a Tornado became a reality for Clarksville in 1999.  And that changed Clarksville.

Just last week, deadly tornadoes ripped through the Southeast.  Hundreds of people were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed.  People in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and other states were devastated by this storm.

Grace Community Church is partnering with a church on the ground serving families who have been affected by the tornado.  We are also partnering with churches around the country to provide immediate relief to people who have lost everything.

This sunday, you can partner with Grace Community Church and churches around the country by giving.  10% of our offering this Sunday goes directly to those affected by the storm.  How will you respond?

For more information or to give online, go to http://www.gcomchurch.com





Valentines Day War

14 02 2011

Valentines Day brings about the talk of romance where love is in the air.  But many guys are living in the constant battle with pornography, and are so deep in the mix with pornography that they become cold and numb to their relationship with their wife, kids, girlfriend, or fiance.

Through my 7 years of ministry, I have counseled more guys (teenagers, college students, and adults) with their addiction to pornography than any other issue.  And I have seen pornography wreck more marriages, more relationships than any other problem.  I get a phone call, email, or text about twice a week from a guy who is sick of the addiction and the chains that come with internet pornography.  I would venture to say that some 80-90% of teenage and college guys are plugging into porn on a weekly basis.  It’s not just a problem…it’s an EPIDEMIC!

PORNOGRAPHY absolutely sucks!  It destroys marriages, it destroys relationships, it destroys families, it destroys ministry, it destroys churches, and it destroys lives.

Here are several ways you can wage war against PORN in your life:

1.  Get help-You may think you quit on your own.  But here is the reality.  You absolutely can’t do it on your own.  You need accountability.  You need software on ALL of the computers that you use.  You need to take this issue to someone you trust who will walk through this with you.  Find someone of the same sex and ask them to hold you accountable, tell them to ask you the tough question of “Have you looked at any porn today? This week?”  And you absolutely can’t do this without God’s help.  Spend every morning praying Psalm 51 for your life.

2.  Wage War- your fight against pornography isn’t going to stop with you saying “I’m done.”  You aren’t strong enough.  Waging war on your addiction might mean shutting off your internet service at your house.  Trust me, you  don’t have a good enough excuse for keeping it on.  Test me… You have to go into the battle full force, cutting the cable off, internet off, turn filtering systems on, get guys to ask you pointed and specific questions.  Internet pornography is not just a small issue among other problems.  So, let’s stop talking about it like a problem to fix over time.  YOU MUST WAGE WAR AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY IN YOUR LIFE.

2.  Identify your triggers-what is it that get’s your mind rolling toward eventually falling into the mess of porn again?  You need to write out a list of EVERY thing that leads you to start the process of thinking about porn.  Most of the time, it isn’t just an automatic thought process to think porn.  So, list out TV shows, stores in your town, music you listen to, and people you are around that get you thinking in a way that leads to thinking about porn.

3.  Think about what you would lose-a lot of the time, porn can be something that is a fleeting desire that quickly passes.  And, when you are in the moment, you don’t automatically think about all the things that you would lose if it became public knowledge that you are addicted to porn.  But, it is a sobering and humbling reminder to write out (not just think in your mind) every thing (big and small) that you would lose.  Your marriage, your family, your ministry, your influence, your story, your friends, etc…

If you are a leader in a church addicted to porn, set up roadblocks and boundaries in your life to kill the addiction.  Get help today.  Even if you aren’t addicted to porn, set up roadblocks like internet filtering and accountability software.  Have guys in your life that will ask you to your face every week if you are living a life that pleases God and honors your wife and kids.  Talk about it with guys in your ministry.  There is a good chance they are struggling with it and haven’t told anyone.

Your marriage is at stake.  Your family is at stake.  Your ministry is at stake.  The GOSPEL is at stake.

If you want help, here are some websites and here is my email address.  I’d love to help you.

Email Brandon-brandon@gcomchurch.com

XXX Church-a great resource with helpful articles and FREE accountability software (X3Watch)

Safe Eyes-I believe that this is one of the best internet filtering and accountability programs on the market.  This is the accountability and filtering system that I have installed on my computer. (and I don’t get paid to say that…)

How do you fight the battle against internet pornography?

How are you leading the conversation about battling porn in the ministry you are leading?





The “Geico” Church

8 02 2011

Geico commercials are everywhere now.  I see them on TV, I hear them on the radio, I get fliers in the mail, and I see them when I’m driving on the interstate.  But to this day, I don’t understand the meaning behind ANY of their commercials. Whether it’s their gecko, or a caveman, or some random guy in a suit explaining some random event or happenstance, none of their commercials make ANY sense to me.  But they always say that you can save 15% or more.

I believe that a lot of churches and church leaders do the same thing every week.

Churches and church leadership communicate a lot on Sunday mornings, Saturday nights, and Wednesday nights (or other days/nights a church may meet).  Pastors and church leaders do this in their messages by simply telling a fun story, a compelling life story, or giving a humorous illustration that leaves people glad they came to church that day.  Churches do this by creating safe and inviting environments (which I’m totally 100% in support of), and leaving out the tough truths found in Scripture.

I really believe that some churches are doing more harm than good because they leave out critical information about the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, and what a follower of Jesus really looks like.  And, because of this lack of communicating the whole Gospel, the world get’s an incomplete picture of who Jesus is, and what he is all about.  I believe this has led to several problems:

1.  Christians are known for what/who we are against instead of what/who we are for. Unfortunately, we are seen as anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion, and anti-______________ that people never know that we are for life, and life lived abundantly (John 10:10).  We are for justice, for mercy, for love, and for a relationship with Jesus that is life changing.

2.  Churches have become a consumer product. Jesus never intended the Gospel to be a product to be created based on personal preferences and consumed when needed.  Instead, the Gospel is that we will never amount to enough good to fix the problem of sin in our lives.  Thus, because the Gospel has taken a hit as a result of a consumerist mindset, the Church has too.

3.  There is no urgency to have conversations about Jesus. Thousands of people in your community equate Christianity with being an American, and because of that, they have a false understanding of their salvation.  And because of that, they will never have a life changing relationship with Jesus, and will never get to spend eternity with Him.  But, since the church is doing well and people are coming, telling the WHOLE story of the Gospel isn’t just needed.

4.  Church Leaders and Pastors are more prideful than ever. I really believe that pastor’s have fallen prey to the thought that their creativity, their innovation, their relevance, and their personality is what is drawing a crowd.  And this mindset leads to the thinking that you don’t need the Spirit to reach people, that you don’t have to depend on God to so consume and use you as His vessel to do great things for the church.

Please hear me say this.  I’m speaking from first hand experience with this.  I’ve been that leader in a church who thinks I don’t need God’s help to do great things.  I’ve been the guy who stays away from the tough texts in Scripture so that I can ‘impress’ a few folks.  But, what I’ve learned is that this leads to NOTHING.  Giving some half-baked positive and encouraging thought every time you communicate to the church may draw a crowd, but it won’t lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus.  Giving only funny stories, cute illustrations, and tear jerking messages will not lead people to know more about who Jesus is.  Just like watching a Geico commercial won’t tell you everything about Geico

So, are your messages just fluffy stories with no Gospel substance?

Do the people who come to the church you lead and leave hungry to love Jesus more?

How are you leading people to the Jesus of Scripture?

What are your thoughts?

 





Know when to say No

26 01 2011

As a college pastor, I get the honor and privilege of working with young leaders on a daily basis.  I am always being challenged when I am around young college age leaders because of their passion, drive, and urgency.  Young leaders are some of the most passionate people, I believe in part because they have a fresh and willing heart.  They exemplify drive in ministry, because they will do anything at anytime to accomplish what they are passionate about.  And they have a sense of urgency, especially when it comes to sharing the story of the Gospel.  I love young leaders!

One of the things that I have to remind the majority of young leaders is that they will have to say “no” to some opportunities that come their way..  Because of their drive, their passion, and their urgency, they fall prey to the idea that if they don’t say “yes” and plug in to every opportunity that comes their way, they will miss out.  This is just not true.  I believe that there are a few reasons leaders (young and old) don’t say “no”:

  1. Pride-you want to feel wanted and needed, and it is an ego booster to feel wanted in a lot of areas.  Saying no could mean (in your mind) that you can’t do something.  And your pride convinces you that you actually can do everything put in front of you.
  2. Opportunity-you feel like saying no could mean you miss out on an opportunity to lead.  You feel like if you say no, you might lose the opportunity to lead in the future.
  3. Capacity-you feel like it’s no big deal to take on one more opportunity.

But, saying no isn’t always a bad thing.  I believe that saying “no” can actually be the best thing for you, for ministry that you are a part of, and for the Gospel.  Here’s why:

  1. Focus-Saying “no” to one opportunity means that you can better focus on what you are saying “yes” to.  Whenever I speak and teach, I spend a lot of time studying, researching, reading, and preparing for the message.  When all of my prep is done, I have so many random and scattered ideas.  My task then becomes saying “yes” to one main idea, and “no” to other ideas (even good ones).  When you can focus your time on one or two things, you are more likely to do that one or those two things with excellence
  2. Excellence-You can’t be involved in 28 things with everything that you are, working with excellence through the process.  Saying “no” allows you to do things with excellence.
  3. God’s call-God hasn’t called you to meet every person’s needs.  You can’t possibly be everywhere at all times.  There are only 24 hours in a day.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.  This is my rule in all the churches.”  (1 Corinthians 7:17)

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.  And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Do all work miracles?  Do all possess gifts of healing?  Do all speak with tongues?  Do all interpret?  (1 Corinthians 12:27-30)

Here’s the deal.  You can’t do it all!  So quit trying. Figure out where God has gifted you, where he has placed you in life and lead there.  Lead from your God given strengths.  Lead from your passions, and lead with excellence.

How do you gauge when to say “no”?

How have you struggled because you didn’t say “no”?





Happy Holidays & Merry Xmas

18 12 2010

Christmas is the one time of year where some Christians get passionate.  They passionately change their vernacular to specifically say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”, they boycott stores that don’t display Christmas, and take a stand against any form of Xmas written, texted, or printed.  All of this is an attempt to save the true meaning of Christmas.

I really think that this is such a crazy thought, that changing the way we say things will be the thing that saves the meaning of Christmas.
Christmas isn’t about how we say things.  Everything that needs to be said was said perfectly on Christmas night.

“And an  angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

The real meaning of Christmas is that a Savior has come.  That is great news!  This great news is what we as followers of Jesus need to be about.  Because Jesus came on Christmas, we know about Grace and getting what we don’t deserve.  Because Jesus came on Christmas, we know about hope and the hope we have in our life through Jesus.  Because Jesus came on Christmas, we can receive salvation because Jesus came and died on a cross.
After Jesus was born and the good news reached people in the town of Bethlehem, “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”  The good news caused people to worship, and Jesus is worthy of our worship, not just how we use words around this time of year.
Christmas is a time where we as followers of Jesus should be living, moving, and doing life in such a way that other people we are with see Grace, see Hope, see Jesus.
Too often, Christians are known for what we are against instead of what we are for.  This Christmas, may we live and breathe the true meaning of Christmas.  May we be passionate this Christmas about  GRACE.  HOPE.  PEACE.  SALVATION!

 

 





Grieving loss of a loved one

16 12 2010

Losing a loved one is always tough, and losing a loved one around the holiday season doesn’t make things any easier.  Last week I lost my grandmother unexpectedly.  Our weekend was starting off great, as planned, until late in the afternoon we got a phone call that Grandmaw was gone.  These type of phone calls can’t be planned for, and you can’t plan your reaction to news like this.  Needless to say, we were shocked and pretty devastated that Grandmaw had passed away.  Through the loss of a woman that we knew as Grandmaw, we have learned how to grieve the loss of someone we loved dearly.

I don’t know each and every person that reads my blog (it’s probably just my mom…), but I would imagine some of you are also mourning over the loss of a loved one.  This may be the first Christmas without that person who you loved.  Here are some ways that me and my wife, Kara, found comfort in the midst of death.

1.  The Gospel-Nothing brought us more comfort in this difficult time than the Gospel.  We laughed for joy until we cried because we are so happy for Grandmaw, who had her greatest dream fulfilled.  She was, what I like to call, a Gospel warrior.  She championed the Gospel throughout her life, and lived for the kingdom as long as I can remember.  She not only embraced the Gospel and was a child of God, but she wanted everyone else to know Jesus like she did.  Knowing that Grandmaw knew Jesus, believed in Him, and lived her life in a way that proclaimed the greatness of Jesus brought so much comfort to us.  Knowing that Grandmaw is now with Jesus is such wonderful news.

2.  Her Past-Grandmaw had a tough life.  She went through poverty and tough financial times.  She was a tough lady who knew what it meant to be on “hard times.”  But, that never stopped her from living life to its fullest.  Looking back on all of the great memories that we have with Grandmaw reminds us that although she had a tough life, she still looked for the positive and embraced the joy in hear life.  She raised six wonderful kids who brought wonderful in-laws her way through marriage.  Not only that, but grandmaw has 10 grandchildren (who are now adults) that she was so proud of.  She was one of the most humble people that I know, but she had so much to be proud of.  And she was proud of all that she accomplished, and her kids and grandkids had accomplished.

3.  Her Legacy-Grandmaw has left an incredible legacy behind.  A legacy filled with words and thoughts that describe her as the perfect mother, perfect sister, perfect grandmother, and perfect friend.  Grandmaw was strong yet gentle, she was firm but caring, independent yet loved being with people, she was selfless, loving, fun, funny, caring, compassionate, kind, and generous.  She was both a family woman and a people person. Her laugh is indescribable yet dangerously contagious. Words cannot adequately or completely describe the woman that Grandmaw was, and her legacy still lives on today.  Grandmaw was a humble woman, but proud at the same time.  Proud of the men that her boys Mark, Grant and Pete (my dad) have become.  Proud of the women that stand beside them as their wives.  Proud of the grandchildren that they gave her.  Grandmaw was proud of the men and the women that her grandchildren have become.   Today, I know without a shadow of a doubt that her legacy lives on.  I know this because I know the man my dad is, a man who is much like his mother.  A man who learned a servant’s heart from his mom.  A man who knew how to love, how to lead, and how to be generous just like his mom.  Her legacy, her characteristics, and the things that we love about Grandmaw lives on through Dad. and his brothers Mark and Grant, and his sisters Camelia and Fru Fru.

One of the toughest sermons that I have ever had to preach was on Thursday of last week as I preached Grandmaw’s funeral with my brother Ben Reed.  But today, I am happy beyond words for Grandmaw.  She isn’t suffering anymore, doesn’t hurt from years of arthritis, and gets to spend the rest of eternity with Jesus.  Although we miss her, we have so much to be thankful for.  We are so thankful that God graced us with such a wonderful woman, mother, sister, and Grandmaw.

Grieving and being upset is normal and good. We still miss Grandmaw and find ourselves in tears wishing she was still with us.  And that’s ok.  Being upset and missing your lost loved one is totally fine.

I hope through Grandmaw’s legacy, through our learning process in grieving, and through the Gospel, you can find comfort in tough times.  Although we will miss her, and things will never be the same, we have comfort in the Gospel.

How do you deal with the loss of someone that you love?

Do the people you love know and believe the Gospel?

What kind of legacy are you leaving behind to those who love you?





Why AQUA is Once a Month

14 12 2010

There has been a movement on the campus of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN.  There is a movement of college students who are asking what this whole thing about following Jesus is all about. There is a movement of college students who aren’t satisfied with just having the label Christian on their life. There is a movement of college students who are starting to see that following Jesus means loving people and loving God.  There is a movement of college students who are starting to understand that God is so much bigger, so much greater, and so much more incredible than they ever imagined.  And this movement of college students is a reality in Clarksville.

We have seen college students get hype about worshipping Jesus, and they want to do it more often.  One of the questions I get more than anything else with AQUA College Ministry is,

“Why do you only meet once a month?  Don’t you think you should have a weekly gathering?”

My answer is always, no.  So, here is why AQUA meets once a month:

1.  We believe in the local church. Because we believe in the local church, we challenge college students to plug in with a local church while they are in college (and it doesn’t have to be Grace Community Church…).  I am a firm believer that college students need to connected and serving in a local church.  College students are amazing leaders who bring a lot to the table when they volunteer and serve in a local church.  Here’s the deal, there will come a day in the life of every college student where they will no longer be a college student.  They will be past their youth ministry and college ministry days.  They will be serving as leaders, elders, and other responsibilities that God calls them to in the local church.  So, plug them in and get them started now.  We believe that if we created a weekly worship gathering for college students, we could potentially be keeping them from plugging in on a weekly basis with a local church.  Biblically, there are so many reasons why college students need to be a part of a local church.  I’ll write a post about that another day. For now, check out these verses: Ephesians 1:22-23; Matthew 16:13-20; Ephesians 4:1-6; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:19-22

2.  We believe in Community Groups. We really believe that life change happens within the context of intentional relationships in community.  God created us not as individual silos, but to “do life” with other people in community.  We have seen in the few years that Grace Community Church has been around that more lives are changed in the context of community than any other ministry of the church.  If we really believe in groups, and want to champion their effectiveness, we can’t do a weekly college worship gathering.  Think about this…we want college students plugged in on Sunday mornings, community groups, weekly gatherings, and other random fun nights.  When will they be able to serve?  When will they be able to be Jesus to their friends who don’t know him?  So, we champion groups and create an easy way for college students to be a part of community on a weekly basis.

3.  We believe in college students who don’t believe in Jesus. There are thousands of college students on our local university campus that don’t know Jesus, that don’t know that He offers hope, satisfaction, life, grace, and purpose to their life.  If we are an events driven ministry, when will our students have an opportunity to live the Great Commission?

4.  We believe the college experience is more than our college ministry. I look back to the four years of my college days and have so many great memories, friends, and good football.  Universities have so many wonderful organizations and student life that they offer to the students who call that campus home for 4 years.  From Greek life to service organizations to athletic events to wasting time playing xBox until 4 in the morning, college creates lasting memories and lasting relationships.  We want students to plug in with other fun things on campus, and don’t want them to confuse being busy in ministry with being holy.

I may be totally wrong here, and be a sorry excuse for a college pastor.  But, I believe in this way of doing college ministry.

How does your church do college ministry?

What ways are you reaching and equipping college students for Jesus?

(Disclaimer:  I know that there are many college ministries who create a weekly worship gathering and are doing great things for the kingdom.)