Is there a perfect person for you?

I do a lot of weddings. It comes with being a part of a church that has a lot of young people. I love doing weddings because they are a time where people are filled with hope and love for each other. Its a special experience to be a part of. However, I know many people who struggle to find someone or to find fulfillment in their marriage because of unreasonable expectations.

I thought this article was really helpful to understand some of the myths we have adopted as a culture concerning marriage as well as some thoughtful advice on how to recalibrate your expectations. Marriage is after all a union of two people who are both depraved sinners who need God’s mercy and grace.

How our culture misunderstands compatibility.  Excerpt from THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE © 2011 by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller.

In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.

In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:

“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great … beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”… She had dirty elbows.”

In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.

You can read the rest of this article here.

The Price of Love

This week God really convicted me about teaching what the Bible has to say about Sex. So often in Church we are afraid to talk about Sex. We shy away form talking about something so personal. The problem with not talking about sex in church is that everyone else out there is talking about sex. Even the Bible talks about sex a lot. So where do you want to learn about Sex? Do you want to learn about it from movies? Do you want to learn about sex in a locker room or at school? Or do you want to learn what God has to say about sex and how to really enjoy it as well as how to guard yourself from making mistakes.  Watch here what God has to say about the price of Love.

Great news for Twitter

How many spaces should you allocate from your precious 140 characters on twitter for a Period. Usually we use 3 spaces, one for the character and 2 blank spaces. Apparently thats not the correct grammar. I know, I was blown away too.  Apparently proper grammar is just 1 space after a period. As a proud 2 spacer, my world is about to change. Read this rant to get the full scoop.

http://www.slate.com/toolbar.aspx?action=print&id=2281146

Over the Wall

Another guest post from my sweet wife Tabitha

Walls are built for protection. They are built to keep certain people in and to keep other people out.

Our construction project in Haiti was to rebuild the outer compound wall around the school. This would provide the children with a safe place to learn and play and would protect them from the neighboring slums and dangerous streets of Port Au Prince.

It’s hard however, not to think about the people you will ultimately keep out. I know I am guilty of this in my own life; I build walls around me emotionally and physically to feel safe and secure. But how do you respond when the Lord asks you to go over the wall?

Sarah Jane and I heard of an elderly man living in the slum across the wall. We learned that he was injured during the earthquake and had no family to care for him. He was blind, weak, hungry, and all alone. His home was made of scrap metal and tattered sheets and was approximately 3ft by 6 ft. I watched as his frail body worked to stand up and walk to the edge of his shanty. His knees were buckling and after standing for only a short while, he slumped back down onto a nearby chair. He wore a look of despair and hopelessness.

I definitely consider myself to be a cautious person. I lived in Memphis for 7 years and during that time we were named the # 1 city for hate crimes against women. I learned where not to go alone and how to be very aware of my surroundings. But on this day, I felt the Lord calling me to step out of my comfort zone and go over the wall.

Pierre was our new Haitian friend and translator. He had such a huge heart for his community and for Haiti. He told us that providing a safe place for a school and church to meet would be such a blessing for Haiti and that it would be a beacon of hope for the people of Port Au Prince. When Sarah Jane and I told Pierre that we wanted to go over the wall to see the blind man, he paused to think hard about what we were asking and then he smiled and led the way.

As I stepped outside the compound, I felt a wave of anxiety. This was the first time I actually walked through the streets of Port Au Prince. We traveled through the city in a large open bed truck with a covered tarp and at each destination we immediately got inside the compound walls and locked the gate. There were many stares as Pierre led us into the slum, some friendly some untrusting. Children began to emerge from behind piles of rubble and scrap metal. I saw an emaciated dog crouched on top of debris as roosters walked through a pile of trash. We were cautiously led to the very back corner, where we met Antonio.

Pierre explained to Antonio that we were there to help him and that he was not alone. As we listened to his aches and pains, I looked up and saw holes in his shelter. I imagined how hard it must be for him to fall asleep with the rain invading his home. We gave Antonio a hygiene kit that included soap, a razor, lotion and clean towels. As he rubbed his knee and explained his pain, I assessed his injured leg; something had fallen on him during the earthquake. He had significant atrophy in his quadriceps muscle and his knee felt warm to the touch; a sign of arthritis and inflammation. As Sarah Jane educated him on how to take his vitamins and medicines, I took measurements of his knee so that I could bring him a brace. I watched through tears as Sarah Jane literally fed Antonio her lunch that she had brought that day. I’m not sure where his last meal had come from.

As we took notes of all we could bring him the next day: a tarp, a knee brace, and clean water, Pierre asked Antonio if we could pray with him. We placed our hands on our new friend and thanked Jesus that he led us to him. We asked for the Holy Spirit to comfort his pain and bring peace to his heart. When we finished our prayer, I looked up at a very big smile and heard the sweetest thank you in Creole, “Merci, Merci.”

We made 3 other trips into the slum. I think it is funny that once you allow God to lead you over the wall your fears begin to fade and you start to believe the words in the songs you sing: “If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us”. In three days, we were able to clear the rubble outside his tent and place a new tarp over his roof. We even extended a portion of the tarp so he could have a place to sit in the shade. We filled a jug of clean water for him and made a path for him to walk. We even placed blocks on each side of the path so he could feel his way with a walking stick.

As people saw us return each day, I think trust was established. One lady approached me and asked for help with her back. With Pierre’s help, I was able to teach her stretches to relieve her back pain and give her a lumbar support brace. Children began to run to us and touch our arms. They loved having their pictures taken and I loved hearing their laughter as they saw themselves on the camera. Our last day on the other side of the wall, we handed out shoes to the women and children.

I am thankful that the Lord allowed me be a part of something so beautiful. Our last day at the school, Sarah Jane and I walked onto the roof and looked over the now completed wall. Through tears of joy, we looked at Antonio seated on his chair outside his tent, clean shaven, brace on his knee, and a smile on his face. His expression of hopelessness and despair was exchanged for a look of peace and dignity. I hate to think that my fear could have prevented me from blessing this sweet man. I definitely think that I am still a cautious person and I respect dangerous areas, but I hope I have learned that when the Lord calls me over the wall he is going to grow my faith and show me just how much He loves the “least of these”.

Moses’ Story

I saw this video off a friend’s website.  Its a little boy who is severely malnourished in Uguanda.  He is not being taken care of by Faith a lady who runs a ministry through Global Support Mission.  You can see the whole story here:  http://www.knowthinkact.com/stories.php

It is tragic to see the young reap the evil of those that went before them.  Maybe you can make a difference.

The Great Nashville Flood

Ok so the storms have been insane the last two days.  We had to cancel church because the cops shut down our cross streets because of flooding.  About 1/2 of a block away, we had cars completely submerged.  Brad, my copastor and I got soaked just trying to get inside the building at Cabana.  We were hopeful we would have church today.  We had already canceled our church picnic and baptisms but thought we could salvage church.  Apparently the weather had other ideas.  Here are some cool videos of the flooding.  The first is on 21st and the other 2 are of the Harpeth River in Franklin.

So many of my friends have had flooding.  We are just really grateful that our house has stayed dry so far.  We are getting ready for round 3 this afternoon!!!

God is on the move at Green Hills

It is hard to believe how quickly this year is flying by.  I can’t believe it is Christmas already.

This fall has been really encouraging for me at Green Hills where I pastor.  We have had a spike in attendance and have seen many new people join our faith community.

The most exciting thing however has been that our people have become excited to serve the underserved.  Brad and I really feel that it is nothing that we have done to bring this about but it has been God who has been doing something special in our church’s heart.  To save some space I just want to give you a list of some of the things that we have been encouraged by our people’s obedience.

1.  Our college students put together 127 bags of basic toiletries and Bibles for homeless people.  They have chosen to put these bags into their cars so they can hand them out when they see people in need.

2.  We were able to put together over 90 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child

3.  Our small groups have adopted 2 families who were in great need.  One of our groups is dedicating a Saturday to go repair and clean the trailer of their adopted family.

Our most exciting event this fall was this Sunday when we had Gwen and Suzanna from 147millionorphans.com come and share about how God has been moving them to champion the cause of adoption and care for orphans.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  They have partnered with Katie Davis and Amazima ministries in Uganda and have created a clothing line to raise funds to feed orphans and provide grants for families who want to adopt.

We really encourage you to check out the video and their story.  We podcasted the service on itunes.  (The first half of the podcast is my Sermon and the last half is Gwen’s story of how God is using them.)  http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=274809927.

We also showed a video of what Katie Davis is doing in Uganda.  You can see it here: http://www.greenhillschurch.org/media.htm

lIf you want to find out more about 147 Million orphans  visit their website: http://www.147millionorphans.com/ I also really want you to visit Katie Davis’ blog:  kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/ It will melt your heart.

This is the real heart of Christmas!  To be the body of Jesus to a lost an hurting world, showing them that the savior cares for them and inviting them into a relationship with Jesus.

Christ is All

Compassion matters

Serving children who have needs is something that always grabs my heart.  I started sponsoring a child several years ago and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.  To be honest it is a sacrifice.  Even though it isn’t a ton of money every month, its only $38 a month, it still is a sacrifice to care for someone else.  To be a good compassion sponsor you need to open your heart to someone else.  You need to pray for your child.  You need to write them and let them know who you are.  Sadly, I don’t do a good job of keeping up with my compassion kid.  But today I watched this video that challenged me.  If you have 5 minutes today please watch it.  It is so worth it.

https://vimeo.com/

Wandering in Chicago

I love to wander a strange city. There is something about being immersed in a vast urban jungle surrounded by throngs of strangers. The annonomity that crowded streets and unknown arenas are a perfect platform to find a respite from the rat race of everyday life.
So when my wife Tabitha had to do continuing ed for her degree in Chicago I got really excited. While she has been in class I have been on a spiritual retreat in an unlikely location, downtown Chicago.

It has been very fun so far. I spent my morning reading my Bible and journaling in a quiet part near Lake Michigan. This afternoon I going to just wander the Magnificent mile. It’s been refreshing to refocus and reconnect with God.

Disappointment and Struggle

We all go through periods of intense disappointment and struggle.  Often it may feel like God has abandoned us.  In times like that I often feel like God is angry with me.  The story of Lazarus in John 11 deals with all these issues.  I am always really surprised when I read John 11:6 and see that Jesus when he heard that Lazarus was really sick, waited 2 more days before he came to his rescue.  It seems heartless that Jesus would allow someone that he was so close to and considered to be such a close friend, die so suddenly.   In a similar way, often we feel like Jesus is delaying needlessly when we need him most.  But God has not forgotten us.  He has not forgotten who we are.  Check out this week’s sermon “LIFE and DEATH” at Green Hills Church to hear the rest of the story.  Just click the link to listen: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=274809927.