9/11 11sep11 On the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 many are still asking why? Why did this happen? Why did God allow this to happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? As we take time today to reflect and remember I wanted to repost a blog I wrote shortly after the devastating tornado struck Joplin. (Originally posted on May 24, 2011) With the recent devastating tornado that hit Joplin the question arises “Why?” Why do bad things happen to good people? I get asked this question a lot and I think it’s a fair one that deserves an answer. As a pastor I get irritated and pretty angry at some of the ignorant answers that other leaders give. “God is pouring out his wrath on sinners” or some other variation. Most of the time they point to Old Testament accounts such as Sodom and Gomorrah and the flood. What they fail to see is that God poured out his wrath on sinners, not the righteous, and always provided a way of escape for those who loved him. So, why do bad things happen to good people? •
I don’t know. Sometimes the best answer we can give is an honest answer. If I knew the answer I would be God and the last time I checked I wasn’t. “Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Job 11:7
God never promised that his followers would be exempt from pain and tragedy. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Matthew 5:45
When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, not only were we cursed, but creation was cursed as well. And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.  It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. Genesis 3:17-18
God cries over the curse of sin and pain in this world. In scripture we see that Jesus cried two times. One over the spiritual curse of sin. The other over the physical curse of sin. But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to weep. Luke 19:41
Then Jesus wept. John 11:35 •
There is hope for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. He is going to make things right. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. *  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:1-4
Confession 13sep11 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. Joshua 1:8 My normal routine is to hit the ground at 5am, let Rambis out, and spend some time with just me and God before the kids get up and moving. Confession: Late nights have led to late mornings. It’s 5:30, 5:45, or today 5:55. Rambis is in my face begging to go out and now I’m in a rush to get ready, kids are up before I know it, and my time with God is blown. Joshua 1:8 is the verse that challenged me over 15 years ago to begin this daily practice. His PROMISE is that STUDYING this Book will lead to SUCCESS. So why do I check my email, twitter, and ESPN before I check God’s Word? That’s what I love about our God Time Study Guide at Connection. It’s a daily reading that goes right along with the message from Sunday. During the Launch series we are reading through the book of Joshua. Check out our YouVersion Groupand join us as we study this book of Instruction together. See you at 5am.
No More Manna 16sep11 This Sunday will be our final service at Rosa Parks Elementary. During our current series, Launch, we are reading through the book of Joshua together. Today’s reading is chapter 5. I can relate to the children of Israel setting up and tearing down their tents in the wilderness. Setting up and tearing down in a school week in and week out has not been without its challenges. I cannot tell you how many times I asked, “How much longer God?” After the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan and entered the Promised Land we read this: The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan. Joshua 5:11-12 Did you catch that? THE VERY NEXT DAY. They went from Mac and Cheese to homemade rolls in ONE DAY! They never ate manna again. That’s a promise for Connection Church. God is getting ready to unleash a harvest on Connection Church and it’s going to come directly from the land that God is giving to us. Not only is this a promise for our church, it’s a promise for you. Maybe you feel like you have been wandering around in the wilderness eating nothing but manna in your marriage, finances, job, or health. God takes us through the wilderness for His purposes and plans. Don’t buck the wilderness. Let God mold you, break you, and reform you there. Here’s the good news. God won’t leave you there. His promise is that you will enter your Promised Land. Your season of manna will be over and it will never return again. He will provide a great harvest in your marriage, your finances, your job, your health. What wilderness do you find yourself in today? Our response to God must be the same as Joshua. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” Joshua 5:14
One Thing That Will Not Change 19sep11 Rosa Parks Elementary has been our home for the past 3 years. Sunday we had our final service there. During those 3 years we have seen over 100 people make a commitment to follow Jesus. This Sunday we begin a new chapter at the Green Country Event Center. But, one thing that will not change is our commitment to Rosa Parks Elementary. We will continue to serve this school in the same way we always have. Over 80% of the children who attend there live in poverty. We have a mission and Rosa Parks is our mission field. Last Thursday night the Project Reach team served over 500 people at the Rosa Parks Community Fair.
Preparing for Launch 22sep11 This Sunday we will hold our first service at the Green Country Event Center. I am overwhelmed by what our Launch Team has been doing to get us ready. Some have been coming up on their days off and others have been putting in some late late nights. The work will continue right up through Saturday. Thank you does not begin to express how I feel. God has put together an amazing group of leaders and team members who are knocking it out of the stinking park! I am humbled by what is taking place in the life of our church. Are you ready for Sunday? Itâ€™s gonna be an amazing celebration.
How Not to Plant a Church 23sep11 As a church planter I have studied just about every church planting model. Every model is pretty much the same. Pick an area in the suburbs, hire a worship leader with a V-Neck T-shirt, get some cool lights, and preach in Chuck Taylor’s. That’s not the model we are embracing at Connection (although I do think people would like to see Daniel in one of those low cut V-Neck’s). 4 years ago God gave me a vision for Connection Church from John 4:34-38 (to hear the story listen to the podcast Movin’ On Up). This Sunday God will fulfill that promise as we launch our new campus at the Green Country Event Center. One part of that scripture that keeps popping out at me is when Jesus says, “Wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” When Jesus said that He was pointing to the Samaritan people. This would have freaked out the disciples because the Samaritans were the outcasts, the forgotten, the ones no Jew wanted to associate with or befriend. In the same way this freaked out the disciples it freaks out most church leaders. It’s why most pastors plant a church in the suburbs and very few plant in the Samaritan fields. That’s not a knock on suburb churches. Many of my good friends pastor churches in the suburbs and people in the suburbs need Jesus just as much as everyone else. It’s just not what God has called us to do. While churches are running to the suburbs we will be running in the opposite direction. We will not run from the poor. We will run to them. God is calling Connection to reach the outcast, the forgotten, the rejected, the poor, and the lost. These Samaritan fields are ripe for harvest. Somebody’s gotta bring in the harvest. It might as well be us.
Launch 26sep11 Sunday was our first service at Green Country Event Center. Our Launch Team put in a lot of late night hours getting the facility ready for our Launch. From the sound and lights, to the kid’s rooms, to guest services. As we prepared for our Launch our focus has never been on the facility. Our focus has always been on life change. On Sunday all that hard work paid off as we saw the front of the auditorium filled with people making commitments to Jesus Christ. Here are some of the comments from Sunday: I made a commitment to serve God wholeheartedly. I don’t want to be on auto-pilot anymore. He fired me up! Pray that He would give me clarity and wisdom. Our family is on the edge of serving God with our whole hearts. I have chosen to follow Jesus with my whole heart. I’m tired of the Devil controlling my life. I want to be free. As for me and my house, we will serve the “Lord thy God” wholeheartedly. Showed me how much He loves me. In the darkness, depression, and anxiety He will keep me safe and I will be OK. He opened my eyes and healed my heart.