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Showing posts from 2009

Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

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I love the writings of Mark Batterson and always finish his books challenged. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is one of my all time favorite books and I have been encouraging everyone I know to read it. Having read his newest book, Primal, I now have another book to suggest to people.
I truly believe that the Greatest Commandment is and needs to be foundational in every church's vision and Primal really brings out a lot of great insight on that passage. Mark has a way of simplifying the seemingly complex. The way he breaks down the Great Commandment makes it very easy to use in a sermon series and I am definitely considering using this for our Sunday night service.
We are always in need of reformation and Mark hits the nail on the head with the much needed reformation for this generation and what it needs to be centered around... Love God.
I suggest Primal for all Followers of Christ to read, especially if they're wanting to be challenge to grow in their faith.
The great thi…

Make Christmas Happen!

This last week I was made aware of a family at my wife's school with 4 children that are in need this Christmas.

Here's a question for you... Have you ever not gotten a gift on Christmas day? As I asked myself that question I realized that in 32 years I have always gotten gift on Christmas Day. I have no idea what it feels like to not get a gift.

Well here's the deal, I believe that ever kid deserves a gift on Christmas Day. But if we don't do something about it as Connections, as the body of Christ, then these children won't get a gift this Christmas. I don't know how you all feel about that, but I refuse to let that happen. I believe that when we see something like this then we are being invited to show God's love in a very real way.

I want to encourage you all to help as well. Tonight we are taking up a special offering at Connections and if each of us would just give $10 each then we can make this one of then we can "Make Christmas Happen" for th…

The Dust Buster!

We are doing a series right now called "God Is..." and this week we are talking about how God is Spirit. Well I came across this verse in Job 34 that kind of slapped me in the face...If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust. I don't always think about what I would be without the Spirit of God in me, but as I stumble across this verse I see that I am nothing more than a pile of dust without the Spirit living in me.So I'm going to stop writing my sermon right now and focus on this verse. Sometimes thats what we need to do, when scripture begins to speak, when God speaks to you, just stop what your doing and listen. Time for me to listen.YoursJustin

Undefeated!

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So last night I was talking about our view of God and one of the points was that many of us have a small view of God. The example I gave was when we thought of a picture or painting of Jesus, what was the most common picture of Jesus that we have. I found all kinds of different painting of Jesus. Jesus knocking on the door. Jesus caring the sheep. Jesus at the Last Supper. How about Jesus in the boxing ring? This one weirded me out a bit. To be completely honest, the first thing that came to my mind was "Jesus' triceps are bigger than mine!" Oh, well.
Yours
Justin



Reconnecting

So my buddy Tim Krauss is in town and we got to catch up a little bit. He came to Connections with me and I got to interview him at the end of service. Tim was entertaining as usual. He always comes with story's. He told my all time favorite, "The Mole Tat." Then he followed up with his "Most Embarrassing Moment In Ministry" story, which I will now refer to as "Tim's Poop Story." Let's just say that I've some embarrassing things happen to me, but this one surpassed anyone of mine in more was than one way.

On top of all the funny things, Tim had a lot of great things to tell us about his ministry and their future plans. Haiti is opening back up for them to do more ministry in. They're getting ready to build a larger "central" church in the Dominican that will have the ability to house more than they ever have before. And Tim is continue to grow as a leader but more importantly a follower of Christ.

I am so pumped to hook back …

The Faithful Friend

Last night at Connections I got to sit back and learn rather than teach. Amos Smith (from Florida Christian College) preached for us last night about "Trusting the Advice of a Faithful Friend." It was great for me to sit back and hear that sermon. They say that ministry is one of the loneliest jobs in the world. And the truth is that it can be... if you let it. For the longest time I "let it" and suffered the consequences. The truth is that I didn't have a trusted friend to take advice from because I refused to let people in. Amos reminded me last night that I need to continue to nourish those relationships in my life so that I have that option. I can say that from where I am right now that I have a few "faithful friends" that are willing to wound me to help me and truly dedicated to our friendship.

On the flip side, I'm also encouraged to be that to my friends. So often we are intimidated and refuse to say the hard things that need to be said. I…

A Happy Marriage

The Marriage books will tell you that in order to have a successful marriage then you need do A, B, and C. What does that tell me about my marriage, the books tell me that I have a "bad" marriage. We don't eat dinner enough together, we watch too much TV, date nights aren't frequent enough, and of course the big one... we don't do bible study together or prayer together enough.

That kind of stinks because I thought I had an awesome marriage. I love my wife and we have this kind of oneness that is hard to explain. This is what we do... we laugh, we play, we talk, we listen, we comfort, we tease, we provide, we grow, we love. It's kind of hard to explain, but it works for us. I thought about trying the "A, B, C" method, but then again I thought, why mess up a good thing. This blog won't make sense for those of you looking for the "formula" or "recipe." Sorry, all I can tell you is to know yourself and know your spouse, and of …

3000!

It's official, Aimless Thoughts has official reached 3000 online hits, and it only took 2 1/2 years. First and foremost I would like to thank God, without him none of this would be possible. Also, I would like to thank Blogger for letting me write whatever I want. And finally I would like to thank the three people that visit my blog twenty-five times a day. Seriously though, lets up it to 30 visits a day in 2010.

Of course the lucky 3000 person gets a prize. Unfortunately I have no idea who that person is or when I actually reached 3000 so I'll just hold onto the prize myself.

Yours

Justin

Tools or Rules?

Here's a list of different spiritual tools that you can use for the goal of spiritual growth, to know and please God. Remember, they're only tools, not rules. Use what you can, put the others back in the tool box.

Conventional Tools:
Study/Meditation: Spend time reading the Scriptures and meditating on its meaning and importance in our lives in order to cleanse our bodies and minds.
Scripture Memorization: Memorizing the Bible in order to store it in our hearts and transform our thoughts.
Prayer: Talking and listening to God about your relationship with Him and your needs in order to learn how trust Him as our source and provider.
Solitude: The practice of spending time without any others or any distractions.

Silence: No noise or conversation. Just you and God.

Fasting: Abstain from food, media, entertainment, or anything else that occupies your time and use that time to spend with God.

Sacrifice: Stretch your sense of what you can do without for the sake of those who have less.


W…

Meandering

Larry Osbourne talk about how many time we are ignorant to the fact that as we meander through life we grow spiritually. It's not always a Bible study or a sermon. It's not always through singing songs or memorizing scripture. All those things are amazing in their own rights, but sometimes we forget that as we live life that grow happens.

Larry says it this way, "When life happens, growth kicks in."

I know that this is true for me and I have talked to so many people that would agree. Some of our best growth comes from living life. It's been a hard week for me personally, but I wouldn't trade it for the best week ever. It's because of this week that new things about God have been revealed to me and my relationship with him has grown.

So I thank God for the rough week and learn from it as I meander through life.

Yours

Justin

What I'm Reading

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I started ready this new book the other day called the naked GOSPEL. And the answer is no, I didn't just buy the book because it has the word "naked in the title, although it did make it easier to buy. So far from what I've read I am extremely excited to finish this one. It caught me off guard at the beginning and now I'm anxious to see where the author goes with it.

By the way, I would really like to know what other people are reading. Let me know, I'm always looking for a good read.

Yours

Justin

No More Cages

Our God is a huge God and there is nothing that can hold Him back. Tonight at InsideOut we are finishing up the series Wild Goose Chase. I think this series has been extremely challenging for the students. Truthfully it's an extremely deep series for a youth group. But in the end I think we can all easily understand what it feels like to be caged up in life. Tonight we end with the question we asked at the beginning...

What Will You Choose, the Cage or the Chase?

We have a great night planned. Jenna and Donna are both leading songs for worship tonight. I am constantly amazed at the amount of talent that God has blessed us with. We're also learning a new song tonight called Rise and Sing, better get you vocal chords ready for that one. And finally, we are challenging all the students to skip a meal today, bring your extra money to church and buy a bracelet to help support Rapha House. I'm pumped for tonight and I look forward to hanging with everyone tonight.

Yours

Justin

Beer Delivery Guy

Last Sunday night in Connections I was taking communion and when I was finished I looked up and say a guy wearing a jacket that said "Beer Delivery Guy" in huge letters on the back. I thought to myself... "That is Awesome!" Only in Connections will you see that. I remember that there was a time in our church that people would be going crazy if someone wore a hat in the church. I think we're finally past that.

Vince Antannochi (author of I Became A Chrstian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt) wrote in his blog about measureing church health...

Here's a few quick random thoughts on the idea of how we measure if our church is healthy. What about: (1) The number of people smoking outside before or after the service? (2) The percentage of couples who, when they first start attending, are living together? (3) What percentage of people are in small groups, or actively serving in the church or community? (4) The percentage of people who, when they first start atte…

Take Out Night

So we started our Tales From the Fortune Cookie series this week and a few people came up to me and my wife asking if we were going to start ordering take out instead of our typical cookies and treats. Well, I do love some lemon pepper chicken. We'll see what we can do for the last night. If you think this is a good idea, let me know.

Yours


Justin

An Awesome Connections

In case you missed it, we had an awesome night at Connections as we launched our new series... Tales From the Fortune Cookie. The whole night was great. The band was awesome as usual. I had a great time with the sermon. But the best part of the evening was at the end when a new friend of mine (Nick) came up after the sermon and asked to be baptized. Before we stepped into the water I looked back at him and said "You know that you picked the coldest day of the year to do this, and we didn't turn the heater on today?" That didn't stop him though, we jumped in and as he stood there shivering ( I was wearing waiters so I was just fine) I strolled down memory lane of others I had the honor of baptizing. How thankful I was to be apart of their life and experience with God. How thankful I was to be doing God's work and how I would never give it up for anything. Then I looked back and saw Nick slipping into hypothermia, so I baptized him and welcomed him to his new life …

At Least...

So right off the bat I would like to say that this blog might sound a bit mean, but the truth is that I don't care. Sometimes I feel kind of down, especially when things don't seem to go my way. I get down, I'm a little sad. I think to myself sometimes, "I'm really stressed out and life stinks right now." Whenever that happens there always seems to be someone that comes along to make me feel great about my life again. I draw your attention to the comment below, the guy that made me feel better about myself.

"Today, I learned that the excessive groin sweating I've been trying to deal with for weeks isn't groin sweating. It's a slow and steady stream of urine that I have no control over." -The Spastic Bladder Guy

Yeah, things might not be perfect in my life but at least I'm not this guy. Maybe I'm broke again, at least I'm not constantly peeing my pants. Maybe I got a mean comment at work today, at least I don't have to wea…

Standup!

As Peter looked down he saw this man kneeling before him, kneeling in reverence, kneeling in honor, kneeling in respect. Cornelius more than likely thought there was something supernatural about Peter, so he bows down in reverence. Peter looks at him and says “Stand up, I am only a man myself.” Peter was saying, “Hey, I’m nothing special, I’m just like anyone else.”

I really love that because the truth is that we know stuff about Peter that the people in that day didn’t. The truth was, Peter had some prejudice in his life, even though he was an Apostle he was only taking the Gospel to the Jews, anyone that wasn’t a Jew he didn’t go to. Now a few days earlier Peter had a vision that he went back and forth on with God. God showed him this sheet that had all kinds of different animals, clean and unclean. God says to Peter “Get up, kill and eat.” But Peter won’t because he adhered to the basic dietary restrictions found in Leviticus 11. Peter was appalled that God would ask him to kill and…

A Shipwreck and a Snakebite

So last night I was talking about Acts 28, where Paul is a prisoner on his way to Rome to go before Caesar. Unfortunately the plans get a bit sidetracked due to a storm that causes the ship Paul was on to sink. Paul and the rest of the people on the ship survive and make it to a small island of Malta. While getting warmed up next to the fire a viper snake jumps out and bites Paul on the hand (it should have killed him however Paul survives thanks to God).

I was thinking, shipwreck equals "Bad Day." Shipwreck plus venomous snakebite equals "Worst Day Ever!" Myself along with my good buddy Jesse likened "Paul's Worst Day Ever" to a few different situations. Here's what we came up with.

1. That’s like surviving a deadly ninja attack, only to get an infection from an ingrown toe nail and die from it.
2. That’s like getting hit by a semi while you’re on your scooter only to walk away and get hit by lighting.
3. That’s like surviving a confrontation with …

No-Risk Faith

We can be certain about who God is, who God says He is. We can be certain about our relationship to him, but the way our life unravels is full of uncertainty.

Jonathan was certain about who God was and his relationship with God. But when he looked at his shield bearer and said

"Come, lets go over to the outpost of the uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord with act in our behalf."

First of all he's referring to the Philistines when he says "uncircumcised fellow." I never thought of referring to a person on the basis of that general area, anyways. Jonathan says "perhaps" or maybe God will help.

We see that he wasn't certain God would actually help them. Jonathan couldn't control the outcome, all he could choose was how he was going to live. He chose that day to fight for the Lord and his people without the assurance that God would see Him victorious.

Kind of risky huh? I don't think you can have a vibrant faith without some risk involved. A …

We Become What We Worship.

If you worship money you become a greedy person. Worship sex you become a lustful person. Worship power and become a corrupt person. Worship Jesus, become a Christlike person. We become what we worship, so we gotta be careful.

Yours

Justin

With Or Without

Where there is no hope there is despair. The definition of despair is "the absence of hope" or "the absence of a future." Man cannot live like this and God knows this because he has given us all hope in Jesus. Think about it, humanity is clouded by death, Jesus is the only one that gives hope that death is not the end, that life with Him forever is our future.

I live with this in mind and it keeps me living life to it's fullest every single day. I may lose it all, one day it could all be gone. But I will always have my hope, my Jesus. Some people say that when you give up on hope you die a little. I don't know if your live comes to an actual end, but it does stop.

Yours

Justin

In And Out of Spirit

Something's been on my mind lately. Where is the Holy Spirit in the Church? We sure do talk a lot about Him, but do we actually live like he is a vital part of our lives? Jesus told the disciples that it was better for him to leave so that he could send the "counselor" to them (us). Is the Holy Spirit vital to living life as a Christian, or just kind of important for us to talk about in Church?

I want to stop talking about Him and start letting him lead my life. If it was better for Christ to leave then I want that better.

Yours

Justin

Everybody Wants One

Everybody wants a miracle, wants to experience the Lord come seemingly out of nowhere and do the impossible.

But no one wants to be in the situation that demands a miracle. No one wants to be there when all hope seems lost and a miracle is the only thing left. No one wants to be in that situation.

Problem is, you can't have one without the other, hence my dilemma.


Yours,

justin

No Kid Hungry

So today we had a bake sale and raise money to help feed kids in our community. My wife Fay headed up the whole thing and I would like to say...she did awesome. She had an idea, followed through with it, got some extra help (thank you so much Cathy and Crystal), and gathered all the baked goodies to sell (and there were a lot of baked goodies). All in all we raised $467. Great job everyone. Lets keep up the good work.

Yours

Justin

Can't Help But Be Proud Part 2

Well guess what, it was a great day. Now I love Dana to death, he is an awesome Music Minister and a great friend. But I am so glad he took a vacation this week. Because he did I got to see two of my former students lead worship today. I already bragged about Chris, now its Donna's turn. She lead the Connections Band and did a beautiful job. I definitely could not ask for better. I remember the first time Donna joined the band those many years ago in the youth group. She always had the talent, but what I have seen her grow in is heart which is the one thing that sets "good" worship leaders apart from "great" worship leaders. So here we go again, I will say this to Donna in person but I want to say it here as well.

Donna, you've grown so much in the past few years. To say you are talented would not do you justice because when you add heart to talent you get so much something so much more meaningful. Thank you for letting me be apart of your life.

That's wh…

Can't Help But Be Proud

So this morning Chris Henderson lead worship in the absence of Dana. Before Chris was standing before the congregation leading worship he was a snot nosed kid in my youth group who was one of the first kids I ever baptized. I have seen him go from living a live without God to leading others to God. This morning he lead worship with heart and passion and did awesome. Better yet I got to play bass alongside him. It was an honor and a privilege. To say that I am proud of Chris is an understatement. So even though I will tell him myself in person I want to take the time to say it here...

Chris, you are awesome and I am so proud of you. Continue doing what you are doing and the kingdom will be better because of your efforts. Love you bud.

Thats what I have to say about that.


Yours

Justin

Adding Insult to Stupidity

So I just got done listening to Jordan's sermon this past Sunday night at Connections. One word...awesome. Nothing makes a minister feel as good as seeing one of his students begin to take on the responsibility of preaching God's word and stepping into his calling. Jordan, you rock and I am very proud of you.

Jordan preached about "Serving Others," one of our elements that is found in every follower of Christ. I especially enjoyed how he used the parable of talents in showing service to others is service to God, and that by neglecting that service is in direct conflict to the master. The parable of the talents breakdown...3 guys given a number of talent to invest by their master and 2 are obedient and do what the master wants and the 1 isn't obedient and doesn't. I noticed the disobedient servants response in a different way today.

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have n…

Fathers Day

Well, we're about an hour away from Father's day. I get to celebrate my second one with my son. It feels weird to be a father sometimes, but there's no way I would ever give it up. Being a father now helps me to understand and appreciate my relationship with my heavenly father so much now. So while we all remember our earthly fathers I want to remember my heavenly father

Happy Fathers Day God! Without You where would I be?

Yours Only

Justin

Give Something

I remember the first time I went to Give Kids The World. I was filling up drinks for the kids, I was with one of my high school students so we were joking around a lot, of course what do you expect? There we were filling up drinks when this kid walked up. Now if you’ve never been to Give Kids the World then you have to understand this…It’s a place for terminally ill kids to go and make some awesome memories with their families. And some of the kids are in bad shape. This one kid walked up and his hands were disfigured so he could hardly hold the cup, let alone get it for himself. He looked at me and said "can I have some chocolate milk please?" Immediately in my head jumps is the verse in Matthew…whatever you have done to the least of these children of mine you have done to me. That verse became real for me that day. I really think this is the essences of giving to God.

The passage is actually Matthew 25:31-46. When I read this passage I see Jesus basically saying “Do Somethi…

Spiritual Growth Made Simple

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So last week I started reading a book called A Contrarians Guide To Knowing God by Larry Osborne. Seven days later I finished the book. This rarely happens with me, it typically takes a few weeks to finish a book, rarely does a book capture my attention that I can't put it down, that I can't wait for the next chapter.

Over the years I have been struggling with the secret to spiritual growth, I know how I personally growth and sometimes I feel guilty because my formula for spiritual growth is not a traditional way and I am constantly changing my habits. I change so much that you can't even consider them habits. But it works for me. It's what makes my relationship with God unique and exciting. Osborne talks about how we try to impose our own regulations and rules on spiritual growth, we have this linear approach that is supposed to works for everyone. Follow these steps and you are guaranteed growth by leaps and bounds. Unfortunate it doesn't always work that way. Wh…

Hidden Rocks

Christianity is more than just a shell. I was reading in Jude the other day and I know what most of you are thinking…there’s a book in the Bible called Jude? Yes, there is and it talks about this very issue. There were men back in the day that would call themselves followers of Christ but their lives were empty of any ingredients that are necessary to make a Christian.

"These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm — shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted — twice dead."
Jude 12

The word “blemish” there can also be translated “hidden rocks.” Hidden rocks were areas in the water that ship would try to avoid so they wouldn’t sink their ships. These men were like hidden rocks in the water causing others to struggle in their faith. And I love that figure he uses here, “a cloud without rain,” in other words, its void of refreshment, promise, and per…

Did You Just Interrupt Me?

The next time someone interrupts me when I'm preaching this is going to happen.

Just Say No To Coke Zero!

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So I decided the other day to start drinking Coke Zero because it doesn't have a bad taste and contains zero calories. I thought to myself, "this is a great idea." I've also heard that it helps with weight loss, and I can say this is true. However the way you lose the weight is not the best way...I can't stop using the bathroom. For the last week I have been trying to figure out what's going on and on a whim I looked up Coke Zero and diarrhea and found out that a lot of other people have had the same problem. Apparently Coke Zero has an ingredient called Aspartame and one of the 97 side effects of Aspartame is excessive diarrhea. As one blogger described the aftermath of Coke Zero as "Violent," I can confirm this.

Here is my warning...stay aways from Coke Zero!

Painfully Yours


Justin

Better Off With Less

I've often thought, is an economic crisis really a crisis? I was reading about an author named Dave Gibbons, he's a preacher and author of the book The Monkey and the Fish (after reading some of his ideas I am now ready to put this book on my must read list). Anyways, Dave also did an interview in the last Outreach Magazine. In the article he says "scarcity brings clarity." I never really thought about it that way but its true. When you have to go without you begin to think about what's most important, what are your true values.

I love one other observation Dave made: "It's not about the buildings. It's about what happens inside the building." It's not about how big our facility is or anything like that, its about what we do, how we worship, and who we love.

The early church had nothing, let me correct that, all they had was Jesus and each other and look at how the early church changed the course of history. I think its time we did it again, a…

Freaking Out Over Piggy Flu

Do you know how many have died from the swine flu? According to the World Health Organization as of today...31.

How many people died last year of the regular (non-swine) flu? According to the Center for Disease Control...36,000.

Do you see the problem? I'm more scared of the regular flu. But it just goes to show you, give something a gross name like swine flu, exaggerate the numbers and people some where will refuse to shake hands for fear of catch the dreaded swine flu.

We are ridiculous!

Yours

Justin

Tell Me Prayer Doesn't Work

I have a friend named Kurt. Recently he had some health concerns so they did some test and they suspected that he had small brain tumor causing seizures. They decided that more test needed to be done to confirm their suspicions. Obviously he was really nervous. After church last week he came up to me and asked if I would pray for him because he was scared. So I prayed for him, my friends Scott and Ty joined us in prayer.

Here's the cool part. Kurt called me then next day with the results of his test and found out that he didn't have a brain tumor like they suspected! Isn't that awesome! Doesn't that take your breath away.

Tell me prayer doesn't work. Tell Kurt prayer doesn't work.

Yours

Justin

Oh please no!

Monday morning I was at the gym doing my Monday Workout Routine. I like to start the week off at the gym and then go straight into work. But I had a little accident that could have proved embarrassing...I almost knock myself out. I know what everyone is thinking when I say this, "What, did you drop weights on you head or something?" I wish, no unfortunately it happened after my workout.

There I was in the shower getting clean before I go to the office. I was washing my face so I had my eyes closed. I was standing under the shower head and sometimes I like to shake my head (kind of like a dog, I know its weird). Well the showers are very small and I accidentally cracked my head on the soap dispenser on the wall of the shower. I immediately opened my eyes and everything started to get blurry, then the shower started to spin. All I could think was, "Oh please no! Don't let me pass out naked in the shower at the gym!"

Think about that, pretty much the most embarras…

Exponential

Tomorrow I'm going to the Exponential Church Planters Conference. This is gonna be awesome, I get to hear some great speaker/authors like Erwin McManus (author of "The Barbarian Way" and "Soul Cravings") and one of my all time favorites Francis Chan (author of "Crazy Love"). I'm looking forward to some new insight and views.

Yours

Justin

Just Another Work Day

Going into Easter this past weekend I had some mixed feelings. It didn't really feel like easter to me at all. Maybe its because Spring Break lead right into Easter Sunday. Maybe it was Jonas' first Easter Egg Hunt that we went to the day before with a bunch of complete strangers searching for fake eggs with no candy inside, that sucked. Or maybe its just that for most people Sunday is a time for family, fun, and relaxation. For me and many other ministers out there, sometimes it becomes just another work day.

Kind of stinks I know, but that's what happens to me sometimes and I know that it was never intended to be that way. But unfortunately that's how it is sometimes.

Then Sunday night came, we had a lot of set up because we were doing the worship track of Jesus, going through a few experiential stations to remind us why Jesus came to earth. Well I got done preaching, and stood back and watched. The truth is that I really didn't expect everyone to take everything s…

"He said what?"

So the question was, did I say what everyone thought I said last week. The answer is...yes. As a matter of fact, here's the quote of the illustration I used in reference to one sin leading to another.

"Holding hands, not a sin. But it leads to hugging, not a sin. Hugging leads to kissing, still not necessarily a sin but that is when the passions start kicking in. Kissing closed mouth leads to open mouth tongue kissing, tongue kissing leads to butt grabbing and then butt grabbing leads to all kinds of other stuff grabbing and then all kinds of other stuff grabbing leads to the opening of Pandora’s Box and your both running around naked doing all kinds of things you shouldn’t. I’ve seen it a million times."

That's right, this one had everything from "Pandora's Box" to "Butt Grabbing." You might ask yourself, "how does Justin come up with such intricately woven illustrations?" I answer with another question, "do you expect anything…

Giving Up

"To give up on love is to choose a life that is less than human.
To give up on love is to give up on life."

The more you love the more your chances of getting hurt go up. I'm serious, being in love your basically reaching into your own chest, ripping your heart out and handed over to another to do what ever they want with. They could cuddle your heart, pet your heart, braid your hearts hair. Or they can play baseball with your heart, or kickball with it and call it "kickheart."

You are giving them the power to do what ever they want. Honestly it kind of makes someone never want to fall in love. Love leaves you vulnerable and defenseless.

But you can't live without it.

You can try to live without love, but thats not much of a life. I actually feel sorry for those that have made the decision to give up on love, their missing out on so much. That's a horrible decision, but still some choose it. All I can say to that is...good luck.

What I'm Reading Right Now

Who ministers to ministers? I love to read, so I thought I would give you all some insight into what I am reading right now.

Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus
This is one of the oddest books I've ever read. It's basically a bunch of short thoughts that he's thrown together to form a book. They're awesome, just seems like he took all his blog ideas and made a book...wait a second, that's all I need to do. Awesome book with some great insights.

Holy Fools by Matthew Woodley
I got this book for Christmas and I can really relate easily to it. He's basically talking about the mentors in his life and how their not the prettiest and well polished. They're the Holy Fool's that most people would look at and say, "They're crazy." Anyways this book is really striking a chord with me.

Justin's Sound Checks

This is how I do a sound check before I preach.

Sound Check 1

Sound Check 2

Sound Check 3

Weird Fact About Cat Urine

Did you know that cat urine glows under a black light?

I read this somewhere, I didn't actually try this experiment. Everyone knows how much I hate cats. So I am challenging someone, anyone to gather some cat urine and then put it under a black light. Then get back to me.

Don't ask me how to get the cat urine, I can't figure that part out.

Do it! Make it happen! Get back to me!


Justin

My New Lion

So durning Connections I've been preaching about being "Lion Chasers." The challenge comes 2 Samuel 23 where we see a man named Benaiah do something really crazy and out of the ordinary...chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day and killed it. The premise is "What if your greatest blessing could be found in your greatest fear, problem, or failure?" Would you run away or would you chase it?

The truth is that I am so excited to see how our people are responding to their lions. They're acknowledging them, they're chasing them, and they're killing them. I couldn't be happier with the results so far. This upcoming Sunday night is our last week of the Chase the Lion Series and honestly I'm kind of bummed. It's almost over and I'm sorry to see it go.

But there is one more thing thats missing. Everyone else has their lions, what about me? I want to chase my lion into a snowy pit and kill it. I want to take a huge risk. I want to face more fear…

This is CRAZY!

Ok, we all know that teenage pregnancy is a huge issue not only in the united states but the world, our teenagers are sexually active. What about pre-teenage sex?

Meet Alfie Patten, I'll let the article explain the rest. (click Alfie to read the article)

The Foolish Thoughts of a Foolish Follower

"Only a fool would attempt to change the world with a simple message of love and peace..."

Is it foolish to have high expectations? Is it foolish to think that the Church was meant for more than this? Is it foolish to think that God wants to do more than just maintain? Well if thats the case then I have to say that I have got to be the biggest fool around, no lie. I have high expectations. I think the Church was meant for more than just meeting on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. I honestly think that our God can do huge things, things that I can't even begin to imagine.

Does this make me a fool? Yes, and I'm cool with that.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."

The Church needs to stop underestimating what God can do. Economic crisis? We have a faith crisis.

"...So we can conclude that Jesus was a fool. Only fools would agree to follow such a man. ...so we can…

Offend

When it comes to Christians and "offending" we are great at it...getting offended that is. Most of the time I see Christians crying and complaining about how offended they are about certain things. They're offended by what's on TV. They're offended by an ad in a magazine. They're offended by the public school system and what they teach or don't teach. They're offended by a bumper sticker on a random car. I realized that as I am writing this I am offending some of you (you know who you are).

This is what I think...we live in a world that is not Christian, why are we expecting it to act like it then. Instead of getting offended we need to start doing some offending.

Jesus told us that the world will hate and persecute us because of HIM. Why? Because he is the truth. Not everyone likes to hear the truth. He offends because he is true, and what does he do...loving the unlovable and healing the unhealable. Jesus offended with truth and I think we need to st…

No More Medicine

Many of you know that I have high blood pressure, I've been on the medicine for about a year. Well at the end of last year I decided that I am sick and tired of the medicine and that some time this year I will be off of it. So I joined Gold's Gym. I workout 5 days a week for about 2 1/2 hours at a time, I feel great and am excited to go to the doctors to see what he has to say. I realize that I will probably still be on the medicine after todays visit, I need more time to get in shape. But I'm really not afraid of going to the doctors anymore, I look forward to it.

I know I have the support of my awesome wife who continually encourages me. I have the support of my friends like Andy who pushes me at the gym so much I want to cuss at him. I have the support of my students like Wes who will jump in and workout with me when I need it and encourage me daily. And more importantly I have the support of my God, who has given me the endurance to keep up with everything, work and ex…

Thinking of Heaven

This last week I was preaching about Heaven to the students and I wanted to teach them what scripture tells us about Heaven. Which brings me to this thought, what is the most important thing about Heaven? Is it the treasures that we have stored up in heaven like scripture describes? Is it the mansion that Jesus is preparing for you ahead of time? Is it the thought of seeing all of your loved ones that have already left? Maybe its just the idea that there will be no more war, or pain, or suffering in heaven?

All that I just described are amazing things that we get to look forward to. But sometimes we think too much of what we don't have that we miss the obvious. What's the most important part about Heaven?

The presence of God.

Jesus is the most important thing about heaven. If everything I described earlier was there, yet Jesus wasn't...it wouldn't be much of a heaven. Think about that for a second and then realize that you can have the most important part of heaven rig…

Our Worship Our Heart

Studies have been done to show that if you listen to a song long enough that you can sing the entire song with out even thinking about the words. Its amazing what routine can do to a person, especially one's worship. Sometime I find myself standing in worship, singing nice and loud, not even thinking about what I'm singing. Not what the words are or what they mean. Just singing from memory. I think this is what God was talking about in Isaiah when he talk about the people honoring Him with their lips yet their hearts are far from him.

What do you think it sounds like to God when we sing from memory? When you sing and don't give the words a second thought, how do you think that honors and glorifies Him?

Maybe you're like me, you get caught up in the routine of things and let you worship become nothing but empty words.

Next time your in worship, think about the words your singing and offer them up to your God as a beautiful heartfelt offering, because God wants to be more …