Pride

October 14, 2014 — 1 Comment

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I’ve been wrestling for a couple of days with my thoughts and emotions. Sunday was the culmination of months of prayer, faith, stress, hard work and leading at a level I have never needed to lead before. And when I say hard work, I mean actual work – like with power tools. For the last few months I’ve been about 10% pastor, 20% organizational leader, and about 70% construction guy. So this last week all of that resulted in a day where we opened up the first permanent facility of STORYCHURCH and went from one service to two at the same time.

At the end of two amazing services on Sunday I basically collapsed into a heap. I struggled to keep it together as I wanted to cry, to cheer, to yell, and to celebrate. I’ve compared it to what it must be like to fall across the finish line of a marathon as a novice runner. You feel barely alive and yet more alive than ever before. I think the emotion I keep coming back to is pride. Not the bad kind of “look how awesome we are” pride, but the “I’m so stinkin’ proud of what we’ve accomplished” kind of pride. I’m so proud of our staff who stretched so far beyond their limits. I’m proud of our rising leaders who got their hands dirty and served alongside us. I’m proud of our teams who created new systems and processes for a new building and carried them out without a hitch for two services. I’m proud of people who stepped up to “attend one and serve one.” I’m proud of our brand new volunteers. I’m proud of those who invited friends and family. I’m proud of people who sacrificially gave and helped us to raise the money we needed to accomplish all of this. I’m proud of the way our church became a people of prayer as we did a 40 day prayer challenge together.

I think the coming days and weeks will be about catching my breath, getting my feet back under me, and probably beginning to look ahead at what’s next. But for now, I’m simply proud to be part of this amazing group of people.

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Awareness

August 25, 2014 — 4 Comments

Have you ever noticed how when you get a new car, you suddenly see that same car everywhere? Did everyone all of a sudden buy the same car, or is it possible that you just became aware of something that before went pretty much unnoticed?

Here’s a question – if God were doing something amazing in your life right now, would you notice? I know that seems like an obvious question. But what if our focus is so much on the stress, the pain, the struggle, etc. that we completely miss the movement of God right under our noses?

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Save the date

August 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

We are so excited to be able to announce that Sunday, October 12 will be our first Sunday in our new facility and is therefore the official kickoff to “Chapter Two” in the life of STORYCHURCH.

For us as a church it’s a day that’s been four and a half years in the making. We’ve been so blessed to have a facility like Spring Valley Elementary School to call home on Sundays, but this next step will enable us to do more than ever before.

Like everything in life, change isn’t always easy. For us it’s not just an exciting new home, it’s an opportunity for us to stretch our faith and to grow our vision for what’s possible here in Durham. That’s why we’ve committed to 40 Days of Prayer together. That’s why we’re asking everyone who calls STORYCHURCH home to give generously to help us complete all the necessary renovations to our new home.

I’ve personally been praying circles around this new facility asking God to change lives, to rescue marriages, to place dreams in the hearts of all who enter. I’m praying for kids that will be mentored here, teenagers who will receiving a calling from God here. I’m praying for protection, for huge impact, and for hundreds and even thousands of people who are far from God that will learn of his love for them and learn to embrace the story they were meant to live.

If you’re a STORYCHURCHer, please join us in prayer and in giving generously to see lives changed (be sure to select “Chapter Two” in the dropdown menu).

If you’re in the Triangle and looking for a safe place to explore faith and be part of a community, please join us.

And all of you, SAVE THE DATE!! You won’t want to miss our Grand Opening on October 12, 2014!

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Forty

August 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

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At STORYCHURCH we’ve been working our way through the story of Moses and the Israelites. This week we caught up with them with the Red Sea at their back and the army of Egypt approaching them at the front. It was an impossible situation with no way out. And the people weren’t happy about it. They confronted Moses with “Was it because there weren’t enough graves in Egypt that you brought us into the wilderness to die?”

And that’s when Moses tells the people “The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.”

That doesn’t feel like much of a solution. It’s easier to do something. Anything. But to be still, to wait on God, to trust Him to come through in an otherwise impossible situation – that is hard.

The story moves forward as God parts the sea and makes a way for the Israelites to walk across on dry land. It’s an improbable solution to an impossible situation.

As a church we’re in one of those Red Sea moments. God did something amazing for us recently when He made it possible for us to purchase our first permanent facility. It was a miracle really – something we weren’t even looking to do. And so we extended ourselves, we took a risk, we followed Him out of one chapter and into the next. And now it sort of feels like He led us into an impossible situation. We’re too far out to turn back now, and yet at the same time without a real clear way forward. To date (August 12, 2014) we’ve raised just about 45-50% of the funds needed to complete renovations on the facility. And the clock is ticking. We have just about two months to finish the work.

My tendency in these moments is to freak out. It’s to rush into something. Anything. It’s to desperately do whatever I can. But I think in this season we need to hang on to this: “The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.”

So we’re going to do just that. We’re going to spend the next 40 days seeking after Him together in prayer. We’ve purchased everyone a copy of Mark Batterson’s “Draw the Circle” and we’re going to spend the next 40 days together circling this facility and all the needs for it in prayer.

If you are part of STORYCHURCH I want to invite you to please join us. This is our moment. It’s our time to watch the deliverance of the Lord. It’s our time to see Him do the impossible. I think this is going to be the greatest time our church has ever experienced and I don’t want you to miss it. If you didn’t get a book Sunday we’ve got extras at the church building, or you can pick one up on Sunday and join us a few days late. Of course if you want to get it digitally you can do that as well.

Each day we’ll be posting reminders, thoughts and reflections from that day’s reading so be sure to connect with us on all your favorite social media platforms as well. I can’t wait to see what God does in your life over the next 40 days and in the life of our church!

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Four Cups

August 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

four-cupsYesterday at STORYCHURCH I talked about the four promises God gives the people of Israel as they get ready to depart Egypt and head for the promised land.

If you are interested in that message, you can listen here.

But I wanted to be sure to reference this book, which was a huge source for me as I prepared. It’s a short read that really unpacks these promises as they relate to the Passover meal and their significance for you and me today. You can go here to find it on amazon.

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My Prayer

July 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

Lots of people have been encouraging me and my family as we continue to pray through this faith-stretching season. Recently someone shared this with us and it has become my prayer:

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I’ve always felt like the most important messages a pastor can ever give are the ones that they preach to themselves first. This week I preached a message that said “The greater the distance, the stronger the arm.” It was part one of a new series we are doing called “Promised Land” where we are tracing the life of Moses. This first message was mostly about the world Moses was born into. It was a time after Joseph had died and now a whole group of Hebrews was finding themselves enslaved and subject to genocide. The Promised Land they all had heard about never felt farther away than it did in that moment. And yet that’s the exact time that God was already moving and Moses was born. The deliver was in the reeds.

It reminded me of what most dudes do when they get around a football. There’s always one who will utter the two words “Go Long.” Every guy wants an opportunity to show off his arm strength. It’s innate really. I believe this is what God is doing sometimes when the Promised Land feels far away. I believe God is just waiting for the opportunity to show off his arm strength.

And so this week’s message was first and foremost for me. I’m right smack in the middle of one of the biggest faith stretching times I’ve ever experienced. For our church we’re trusting God for helping us accomplish a pretty big financial goal in order to renovate our first permanent facility. For my family we are two weeks away from not having a place of our own – all the while trusting God to sell our home in CA and at the same time hoping the house we love will still be available here in NC.

If there ever felt like I time when God was saying “Go long” it is now. We’re praying and hoping and trusting we are running the right route and that God’s arm is strong enough. But that doesn’t make it easy. Some days my faith feels really thin. I doubt. I question. I second guess.

And so I go back and listen to a podcast of me teaching to myself hoping and praying that this guy is right. Because he sounds a lot more sure than I feel sometimes.

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Single Parent

June 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

I’m a single parent – for about eight days anyway. My wife is out of the country and I have no way to even communicate with her, so at least for now – it feels like I’m on my own.

But that’s where the comparison stops really. I don’t want to compare my week solo with what thousands of moms and dads do every single day – parent on their own. It’s only day four and I’m losing the battle. So far I’ve made my kids cry with a frustrated moment of voice raising, I’ve sat them in front of TV / iPad / video games way more than I’d like to admit, and I put the car in drive with the door open and had my youngest fall out. (He’s fine by the way.)

Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world. And that’s just the part where we try and keep them alive and dressed and half way clean. But for many single parents, that’s the easy part. There’s also working and trying to earn enough on one lousy salary to keep a roof over their heads and food in the fridge. Add to that the important task of teaching kids about life, how to be a good man or woman, helping them succeed in school and trying to keep up with what their friends are doing. Sometimes those same parents are trying to undo what their kids are learning from a less responsible parent.

Single mom and single dad – you are the most amazing people on the planet. What you are doing is so hard. But please don’t quit. Don’t give up. We see you. All your hard work, all your sacrifice, all your frustration. We see it. You are doing an amazing job. You really are.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant talking about the influence of his single mom on his life. (Jump ahead to about 2:54 if you’ve only got a couple of minutes.)

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Chapter Two

June 3, 2014 — 2 Comments

This weekend at STORYCHURCH we got to announce some incredible news – that after four and a half years of portable church, we are about to close on our FIRST PERMANENT FACILITY!

I’ll be honest, I never saw this coming. At least not right now. About a year ago we shut down a process of looking for a new location to rent (not buy!) and after checking out more than 60 spots, we couldn’t find a single thing that worked for us. Instead we recommitted ourselves to the community we are already in and really sensed that God was saying it wasn’t the time.

Sometimes God closes doors.

So then a few months ago we were approached by the remaining members of Fuller Memorial Presbyterian church here in Durham, roughly a mile from where we meet. It’s a church with a 115 year history and a vision for the future that exceeded even that, surpassing the energy they had to give to it. That vision and that kingdom mindset resulted in a ridiculously amazing offer that we simply couldn’t refuse.

Sometimes God opens a door.

In the comparably short history of STORYCHURCH, it feels as though one chapter is wrapping up and a new chapter is beginning. In our world, it’s Chapter Two. And Chapter Two is where the inciting incident often hangs out. It’s the moment when the story goes to a whole new level and you either dive in or you put down the book and pick up a new one.

STORYCHURCH – I for one can’t wait to see where this thing goes and I’m PUMPED that I get to do this with you! It’s going to be an incredible journey and we’re just getting started.

Who’s excited!?!?

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Mount Everest QomolangmaSo yesterday I talked a little bit about David and how he avoided the fear flu that plagued the rest of the army of Israel (read it here). But the truth is that fear isn’t the only thing that is contagious – Courage is too.

David was a courageous young man. When faced with a giant named Goliath, he went charging into battle confident of the result because of his faith in the God who would protect him. His actions inspired the entire army. Moments after Goliath fell the entire Israelite army charged the enemy and chased them until they had beaten them so soundly that there was basically no enemy left. Apparently there were two viruses going around. The Fear Flu, and the Courage Cold (ok, that was lame but you get it).

Courage inspires courage. It causes people to say “Oh, hey maybe it isn’t that scary.” I heard once about Roger Bannister who was the first man to ever break the 4 minute mile barrier. He did it in 1954. Up until that point it seemed like it was beyond the limits of human ability. Within months of Bannister’s accomplishment several others did the same thing. Today it is the standard for mile running competition and the world record has come in a whopping 17 seconds faster than that. So what happened there? I think what happened was that one person’s accomplishment broke a fear barrier. For whatever reason people were convinced they couldn’t do it. Once someone proved it could be done, it became common place.

Or take Mount Everest. It took dozens of failed attempts until one climbing pair finally summited in 1953. While still a major accomplishment, today more than 1500 people have made it to the top and in recent years some of the worst danger on the mountain is due to the amount of people who are all climbing at the same time. Once again, something that seemed impossible has become pretty common. Courage has opened the door to more courage.

Which brings me back to David. See years later some of Goliath’s family were still a little bit upset with Israel. 2 Samuel 21 describes at least four more giants who were all killed at the hands of Israelites. One of those who managed to take on a giant was David’s nephew. Other than a slight mention here though it basically isn’t a big deal. So what was once a pivotal defining moment for the people of Israel, a moment when it was believed that no one could possibly beat a giant, eventually became a footnote as others took on giants as well. When one person successfully slays a giant, everyone lines up to take one on. 

I’m so thankful for the people who have gone before me and proved that the impossible can be done. For me that’s church planters and leaders who have taken great risks to see a dream become a reality. In my most fearful moments I look at them and say “maybe it isn’t that scary after all.” One of my greatest joys today though is that I get to talk to others who are just starting into this journey. And in some small way I think the fact that I can share my story with them helps them to say “maybe it isn’t that scary after all.”

We all have within us the opportunity to be carriers of fear and courage. Every day we have a choice as to which one we will spread. I hope and pray that you will draw strength and courage from others who have gone first and that it will inspire you to charge ahead as well – thereby spreading the Courage bug wherever you go.

 

photo by: TausP.
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