This coming weekend I will be spending some time in Chicago. It is going to be a special weekend, not only because it’s Michigan vs. NU in a Big Ten football game but because it will be the one year anniversary for HMCC of Chicago.
It is hard to believe that it has been a whole year. God has truly been faithful as we have witnessed with our own eyes the lives that were transformed and are still being transformed. This year we are seeing a greater influence on the Northwestern campus. We are also seeing a greater reach to the downtown area on the campus of UIC. The best is yet to come.
Since the undergraduate students will be meeting together in their small groups, I don’t have to preach for our Friday ACCESS gathering. It is a welcomed opportunity for me to spend extra time with the family.
We are in the process of planning out a big slumber party in the living room. After dinner we are going to rent out a video and pop some popcorn. Then we are going to just chill together. It is going to be a blast.
I love creating moments and memories for the kids.
It is incredible how technology has allowed us to see world events in real time. I don’t know if you are keeping up with the situation in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). It is riveting to see monks who are being shot at as they are peacefully protesting the oppression of the Myanmarese government. It brings back a lot of memories of Tiananmen Square back in 1989.
Matt Frei, a BBC News reporter wrote an interesting article, which he implicates China’s role in either dissolving the situation or exacerbating the situation. You can read it here.
It has been said, “We must live with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.” Now, in our technological world, “we must live with the Bible in one hand and a computer in the other.”
World events are significant because it was back in late 1996 where the Japanese Embassy in Peru was taken over by the terrorist group Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. I remember watching it on CNN as it was showing the unfolding of events throughout the day. I still remember being gripping by the situation and praying to God for the situation.
As I look back, I see how God used that event to move my heart to make a scouting trip out to Peru in 1997. Then in the following year, we sent our first missions team out to Peru.
I am convinced of 2 things: 1) With God, there is no such thing as coincidences and 2) God uses world events to speak a conviction in our hearts.
In light of this situation in Myanmar, I am lifting up a prayer for the situation and that peace can come quickly. I am also praying that God will one day open the doors for the Gospel message to be embodied by a group of people who have developed a heart for the country and the people because of what they saw on their computers and television sets.
I brought in my car to the dealer to have them check out a problem that I was having with one of the valves; therefore I was without a car for most of the morning. But I had the opportunity to meet up with one of our alumni. It was awesome to hear some of the things that God was doing in their life. I am learning how to appreciate these relationships because many of them are carrying the vision of transformation to various parts of the world. It is also exciting to see how many of them will be placed all over the world with an influence to impact their companies and even nations in the future.
Then I had Christina pick me up to pick up the car. She came with KiKi and you should have seen her face! Oh, just to see the child-like eagerness to have lunch with her daddy – nothing beats it.
We chilled at Panera Bread and just enjoyed each other’s company over the half sandwich and half salad meal deal.
I realized that it is these unplanned, unscripted, and spontaneous surprises that bring joy to our hearts.
Last week in our Covenant small group (our married couples group), we had the men and women split up for the application in our study. With two other men, we were trying to think of ways to be a blessing to our wives. As we went around and shared, I realized that it doesn’t take much to bless someone. The issue is more of the thoughtfulness and the time that it takes to bless a person.
To my embarrassment I shared that I would like to buy Christina some flowers. I didn’t realized how long it has been since I bought her some flowers “just because.”
Today, as I was ready to go out, I realized that this would be a good teaching moment for the boys. Therefore, I took them with me, albeit they didn’t know where we were going. I think the curiosity made them follow me… ha!
When we got to the store I shared with them how I wanted to follow through on a commitment I made. I also “confessed” my lack of thoughtfulness and my failure to express my love to their mom. It was pretty humiliating for me and I don’t think they knew what to say or do :-)
But then I told them that it was important as they get older that they learn how to appreciate people and especially the special women in their lives (their sister and mother)… the girlfriend talk will come later – Lord, please later than sooner!
We had a great time picking out the right colors and wrote them a small little card to say how much we appreciate the two most important women in our lives.
Mommy’s on the left, KiKi’s on the right
Yesterday for our date night, Christina and I watch 3:10 to Yuma, a movie staring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Believe it or not, Christina loves Western movies and mobster movies. Yeah, brothers, I am a blessed man!
The movie wasn’t spectacular but it was decent.
I think if you are a father and you have sons, it will hit you more. But there are some key themes in this movie that inspired me – such as sacrifice, courage, integrity, and responsibility. These are all the good things that men in our generation need to learn and to learn it well.
I have been pressing the men in our church to stop being wimpy boys and start learning how to be courageous men. This world is in desperate need of some godly men who will be men of sacrifice, courage, integrity and responsibility. Statistics show that when men fail in their responsibilities, the society starts to breakdown. Just look at our world… do I need to say any more?
It is my prayer that my boys will be raised to make a difference in their generation. I am also spending time discipling some men in our church that will be next generation leaders.
Last week there were reports on the news that a parliament member who belonged to the Christian party was killed by a car bomb in Beirut, Lebanon.
There was steady progress towards reform in the country especially as the Syrian influence started to lose some control in the area. But 6 days before the Parliament was to elect a new president, another assassination occurred. Now this is the 8th assassination within a 2 year period.
It is interesting that if you belong to the anti-Syrian party, then that politician ends up dying. Syria denies any involvement. It is just like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying that there is no involvement with the situation in Iraq.
In Lebanon there is a strong presence of Hezbollah. It has been suggested that the majority in parliament has been dwindling (due to the assassinations) so that pro-Syrian politicians can have the majority and control the power in Lebanon.
In light of all these events, I was thinking to myself – “Who in the world would want to run for election knowing that if you are not with the pro-Syrian/Hezbollah side that there might be the possibility of assassination?”
This is when motives and vision come forth. If the motivation for running is for power or notoriety, I think there are other avenues (at least safer ones). If it is for change and a vision for a better country, then I could see how some people would be willing to lay down their lives for it.
This is sometimes the difference between a “calling” and just a “burden.”
A business venture? Why not? From October 2nd through November 7th, Starbucks is planning on giving away free downloads to song in order to promote and new partnership with iTunes. They were mentioning that they will give away close to 50 million free songs in about 10,000 Starbucks stores.
They are making coffee and music go together. You can read up about here.
Part of innovation is learning how to partner up with people who have a similar vision as you. In business it is all about the profits. In Christianity, it is all about how much glory God can receive.
It is amazing to study some of the great movements throughout history. There are several common components in these movements. First of all, there is a revelation of a clear vision from God. Whether it is a vision for revival or missions, God puts a vision in the hearts of His people. Secondly, there is a response from the people of God. God is always looking for men and women who will respond in obedience to the vision. Thirdly, there is a revolution. In all movements there is some kind of change or transformation.
A revelation, a response, and a revolution.
Soon, we are going to share a revelation that God gave to us as a church. Then we will pray that God will give us the grace to respond appropriately to Him. Then, the revolution will begin and God is the only One who can sustain it; therefore we get on our knees and pray.
The movement: www.transformasphere.com
It will launch September 23rd at 9:30AM.
It has been exciting to hear about some people coming to place their trust in Christ for the first time during our Sunday Celebration in the last 2 weeks. Over the years we have had people always feeling hesitant about bringing their friends and co-workers to our Sundays because they felt that it wasn’t “seeker-sensitive” enough.
But we are reminded that when the Spirit of God is in a place, He is the one that will move in the hearts and minds of people. God has been using the worship times and the bold preaching of the Word to convict the hearts of people. God has also used the warm and welcoming hearts of our members to create an inviting spirit in our church. I am excited to see what God will do throughout this year.
This coming Sunday we are starting a whole new series called, “Ethos.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines “ethos” as “the disposition, character, or fundamental values peculiar to a specific person, people, culture, or movement.”
What is the ethos of HMCC? As we are seeing more people come out to our church, we wanted to talk about specific values that define who we are as a church. We will look into the Scriptures to lay a biblical basis for our ethos and how it is lived out in our church.
The first part will cover God’s mandate for us to make a difference in various spheres of society. This is the calling that Jesus gave us to be the “salt and light.” This is the transformasphere movement.
People always say hindsight is 20/20. This is why we can always have a good perspective on our struggles and trials AFTER we go through it rather than during the trial.
This principle holds true for situations where there are no sacrifice or risks involved. What do I mean? Who are the ones complaining the most about a football game on Sunday or Monday morning (especially when their team loses to a Division 1-AA team)? Of course the players are disappointed and discouraged, but the ones complaining the most and even “suggesting” what their team “should have” done are the ones who are not on the actual playing field!
For the typical fan, there is no sacrifice or risk involved (maybe some humiliation). This is why they are so opinionated about how the team should have played. I am wondering what would happen if these people were allowed to play on the field. Can you imagine?
On one hand, some of them will never complain ever again because they realized it is not as easy as they thought while sitting on their nice recliners as they watch the game on their HDTV. Just one hit right on the chest from a linebacker will silence all criticism. On the other hand, there might be some people who might contribute a lot to the game because they have certain skills or abilities that no one ever discovered.
These kinds of people fill the church every Sunday. Have you ever heard complaints from people in the church? They talk about how things “should be” run and how certain things “should be” emphasized more. Something I found about theses people, even as I talk with other pastors about their churches is that they are usually the ones who rarely tithe, give and sacrifice. They also are the ones that do not get involved with serving as much. They are also very selective in what they participate in due to their own schedules and agendas.
I am wondering how things might change if some of them got in the game. Maybe (just possibly) they will realize that doing ministry is that not easy. Maybe they will see things from a different perspective. Maybe they will start realizing that they can contribute and make a difference for the “home team.”
Hmm… that would be revolutionary.
This coming Sunday people in HMCC of Ann Arbor will have an opportunity to get into the game. We will be having our Experiencing Ministry class. For those people who are covenant signing members, you are encouraged to take this class to start serving in our church. This year there are so many things that God is doing and even opening up doors for us as a church. None of these things can be accomplished without the full participation of the body of Christ (every member has to do their part).
Get in the game because the view from the field is pretty awesome and it might just inspire you to do something great for God.
Sign up for the Experiencing Ministry class here.
Bottom line was that 50 Cent made a bold statement (for what reasons only he will know). He stated that if Kanye’s album that was coming out at the same time as his album sold more, then he would retire from rap. Wow!
It is a pretty audacious or proud statement. What if Kanye’s album did better? Then 50 Cent will have to quit in order to have credibility or integrity with what he said. Talk about a dilemma.
Well, as of yesterday, the totals are:
Either this man over-estimated himself or he did not have a proper perspective about himself.
It reminds me of a few passages in the book of Proverbs:
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Pr 16:18)
“Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.” (Pr 18:12)
Tomorrow in our student Access Ministry, we are going to start a series in the Book of Nehemiah. This is one of the best books in the Bible on the topic of leadership. The need for training and equipping is increasing as our church is trying to send out more Kingdom workers into the different spheres of society.
The pastoral staff and I are excited about sharing God’s Word at Access Ministry.
Our Access Ministry is our gathering on Friday night for undergraduate and graduate students. As I have written in my previous post about the tension between the church’s and para-church’s role, it is important to explain why we have a Friday night gathering for students.
We have always believed that our Friday night gathering was a place for training. It is where we go in greater depth in God’s Word. It is where we spend more time in praise and worship. It is where we spend extended time in prayer and ministering to one another. We believe that a specialized gathering for students to focus on these components will help in bringing transformation in a person’s life.
Our Friday nights are connected to our small group ministry, since a lot of the small groups would come to learn things together and even do things together afterwards. Our small group ministry is then connected to our Sundays, where we spend time celebrating all that God is doing in our biblical community, hence, we call it Sunday Celebration instead of Sunday Service. Sundays helps us to focus on what God is doing in the bigger picture and it gives people a window to experience our community.
This is why if people just come out to our Sunday Celebrations, they will not get a complete picture of our church. If anything, they will misunderstand what we are trying to do. In the past, people have complained that our Sunday Celebrations have lacked certain things. It is always interesting and quite amusing that these people are usually the ones that don’t come out to our Friday nights or some of our other gatherings. We do everything with a purpose and each gathering is purposely connected to everything else.
It is my hope that there will be many students who will catch a vision for not just coming to “church” on Sundays but they will get a balanced diet of celebration, training, and community so that they will be ready to “transform the world.”