Coming to My Senses, Dying to the Flesh
July 22, 2012
Gay Marriage is Not an Attack on the Church, It’s an Opportunity
Just based on the title of this article, if you are a “traditional marriage protector,” you are probably reading this article because you already disagree with me. If you are someone who is a “gay marriage equality advocate,” you probably pointed at your computer screen and said “yeah, exactly!” Well, before you jump to conclusions in agreement or disagreement, you probably want to read on…both groups will probably find plenty to disagree and get angry with in the following paragraphs. Let me preempt your judgements by saying that this article is not intended to be argumentative, hateful or divisive in any way. Like all of my articles, this is just me putting my thoughts down and making them available in a public forum. Hot-button topics such as gay marriage are very real and personal issues for many people, and personal issues often create powerful emotional responses. I just hope you will read this and respect my beliefs and opinions, whether or not you agree. Read more...
Coming to My Senses, Dying to the Flesh
July 1, 2012
Extremist? Yes. Ashamed? No.
I have a non-believing friend who is what you call an “argument waiting to happen”. I say that not intending to negatively portray him as someone who is angry at the world and always trying to pick fights, but rather as someone who is a philosopher of sorts and loves to argue and hash out the various points of different issues and beliefs. I personally think that it bothers him that some people seem (emphasis on seem) to “blindly accept” things at face value without constantly taking opposing views into consideration. I would say that I’m somewhat the opposite, and that it bothers me when someone never accepts anything except that they are open to everything. It bothers me because these are the people who accuse believers of being “narrow-minded”, though in my eyes there is little difference in the open-mindedness of someone who adopts a truly strong faith in one particular belief system and someone who believes that there is absolutely no single faith worth having faith in. Either person is adopting an absolute and leaving little room for differing opinions.
So the point of writing this article is to answer his (and those of the “Christians-are-narrow-minded” camp’s) criticism of my faith. Hopefully this will encourage and inspire believers who may struggle with these types of attacks from non-believers. I will begin by sharing part of a note he wrote to me after a recent “argument”: Read more...
Recently when I participated in the 48 Hour Launch competition I received a great blessing – to be hated for the sake of my savior, Jesus Christ.
Let me explain. You see, as a Christian I am typically surrounded by other Christians (at least in settings where we all know the beliefs of those around us…such as at church, a ministry meeting, or a spiritual retreat). When I go to a restaurant, a movie theater, a shopping mall, or any other public place, nobody knows what the spiritual or religious beliefs of anyone else are. So even though I might be surrounded by non-believers, I would never be subject to any kind of public repercussions to my faith.
I think it is safe to say that it is public opinion that Christians are judgmental…the way we are portrayed in the media and all the coverage about radical Kuran-burners and gay-funeral-protesters ensures that we all get lumped into one big heap of hateful people who are anti-everything-that-has-anything-to-do-with-equality-and-acceptance. Everyone outside of Christianity (and not in some crazy cult), is of course, completely rational, accepting of everyone’s belief systems, and sympathetic to everything that is unjust in our society. Think again.
At 48 Hour Launch I experienced how “accepting” people are of Christians. I watched all weekend as the 50 or so people who made up the nine other teams interacted with each other, shared conversations, and walked right by my table without a glance. I watched all weekend as the other people talked with excitement about how each of the other projects would entertain or offer a business service to the Chattanooga community, but then never once came by to find out what ChurchSurfer would offer. I watched all weekend as people kept their distance. I also watched as people who probably wanted to come talk to me didn’t because of what others in attendance might think of them. Read more...
This weekend, I competed in an event called 48 Hour Launch with “Team ChurchSurfer”, which included some very dedicated and now very dear friends, Chante Newcomb, David Hunter, Mike Crane, and Joey Miller. We also had support and contributions from several other people including my wife Laura Davis, Michael Brooks, Tony Burgess, and Chris Littleton. Everyone who pitched in touched me in a way they probably don’t understand, because they chose to work on a project that is much bigger than just creating a website and mobile application that helps people find a church. By supporting this project, it demonstrated that, like me, they desire to serve God and serve the community by using their time and skills to create things that will help others. So thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those who were part of the 48 Hour Launch weekend…it really means a lot to me.
For those who might be interested in what went on at 48 Hour Launch, I thought I would share my presentation speech with you on my blog. While other teams used their four minutes of time to tout the usefulness and cool features of their mobile apps and websites (and they definitely were really good!), I chose to use my time to share a personal testimony and give glory to Jesus Christ for saving my life. Unfortunately, we did not win the competition, but we do have a functioning website that is waiting for churches to sign up and fill out their information so that people can begin finding a church to connect with. So please encourage your pastor to sign up at ChurchSurfer.com and contact me directly if they need any assistance! Read more...
Church Experience #49 – December 24, 2011
Chattanooga Convention Center – Chattanooga, TN
Church Experience #50 – December 25, 2011
Brainerd Baptist Church – Chattanooga, TN
Have you been to…?
There was one church throughout the entire year of 2011 “ChurchSurfing” that I was invited to (and asked about) more than any other. Brainerd Baptist Church seems to be a “top of mind” church in Chattanooga. It is definitely big. It has a very popular community center called the BX (for Brainerd Crossroads…it’s across an intersection from the main building). It has a young and energetic pastor, Robby Gallaty, who I heard described as a “future mega-church pastor” (used in an endearing way, of course, pointing to his charisma). So with Brainerd Baptist being one of the most seemingly dynamic churches in Chattanooga, I should have gone to visit immediately to see for myself, right? Not so fast. There were obstacles in the way. I had already visited several Baptist Churches and had a few more already penciled in on my “to visit” list. I also visited ChristWay Community Church, which I thought, was non-denominational but turned out to be Southern Baptist also, which added another Baptist church onto my blog. I definitely wanted the ChurchSurfer blog to feature various denominations, but with something like 60% (I might be making that up) of the churches in the Chattanooga area being Baptist, I knew I would end up visiting more Baptist churches than any other denomination. There was nothing wrong with that, but I needed to sprinkle in the Baptist visits here and there and not let the blog become too predictable. I knew I would end up visiting Brainerd Baptist, I just wanted to wait for the right time. So looking ahead, I figured there was no better way to finish off my year of ChurchSurfing than to visit Brainerd Baptist for Christmas and make it the 2011 ChurchSurfer finale. Yep, that’s exactly what I did…and here’s how it went… Read more...
Church Experience #48 – December 18, 2011
Hamilton Life Church – Chattanooga, TN
A Turn for the Spiritual
There have been several times this year that my wife, Laura, and I have been personally invited to church by someone we know, which is always a nice gesture. I have tried to accept these offers for the most part, aside from some random invitations I have received by letter or email from people who I don’t know who have read the blog and invited me to visit their church. Not that this is a bad thing…I think it is great that people have heard about the ChurchSurfer blog and wanted their church to be included (which, to me demonstrates their passion). I have just decided to keep things a little closer to home and make the blog a reflection of actual people that I was meeting in my regular, everyday life. So recently at a Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce networking event, I was engaged in conversation with Michael and Kacey Picou, owners of a dry cleaning business called Pressed4Time, and after our conversation had taken a turn for the spiritual, they invited me to visit Hamilton Life Church with them. With a few open weeks still remaining before the end of the 2011 ChurchSurfer journey, I gladly accepted. It turns out that Hamilton Life Church had decided to have their Christmas service this week, so Laura and I kicked off our Christmas holiday a little early and joined in the celebration with some new friends. Here’s how it went…
A Talkative Bunch Read more...
Church Experience #47 – December 11, 2011
New City Fellowship East Lake – Chattanooga, TN
Having a collective experience with a group of people is a very powerful thing that evokes very personal emotions. We all know that. It’s what the whole foundation of church is based on. None of this was intended to be experienced alone. Worship, prayer, fellowship, love, service, sacrifice…while they can (and should) be done alone, the coming together of a family or community of believers magnifies them exponentially. Jesus even went so far as to say “…for where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” (Matt 18:20) God wants us to come together and experience things collectively. Collective emotional experiences are more powerful, attractive, lasting…they can warm you right down to your bones in a way that private personal experiences simply cannot. Have you ever had a mind-blowing epiphany? How about an extremely vivid dream? Or maybe an amazing feat or accomplishment that nobody else witnessed. The first thing you do is look for the closest person to share your experience with…am I right? So it would stand to reason that when churches come along within a community that capture the essence of that community and people get engaged and engrossed, so much so that it births this growing and developing collective experience with each other and with God that begins changing lives…people talk about it. Other people hear and want to be a part of it. People may not even understand it but they can see that there is something to it. It ignites internal fires that may have been long forgotten or even undiscovered, and when these fires are lit and have a source of fuel to keep them burning they jump out and light other fires and as the Spirit wind blows, the fires continue to spread. These are the types of experiences that can envelop and impact a whole community. These experiences become real life stories that we are compelled to tell and share with others. I’m here to tell this story about the community of East Lake in Chattanooga…there’s a fire down there. Read more...
Church Experience #46 – December 4, 2011
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church – Chattanooga, TN
Everyone has things about themselves that they are disappointed in. Things that you know you should have done, places you should have gone, subjects you should have studied, books you should have read, actions you should have taken, opportunities you may have missed…the list goes on and on. We are all afraid (maybe to different extents) of coming to the end of our lives and saying the words “I should have ______, but I never did. I wish I could go back and do things differently”. Some of the things may seem small and insignificant to us in the present moment, so we keep putting them off thinking that we will have time to take care of them later. The problem is, none of us knows how much time we actually have left before we move on to the next realm. Today could be our last day here. So how do we prioritize and get the things done that we actually want to do? How do we even identify the things that could be those “Bucket List” type regrets? I believe that I need to weigh things out by testing them against the Bible and the life that Jesus lived. What would be a more likely thing for me to say with my last breath…”I should have gone skydiving,” or “I should have spent more time with my family”? I personally believe the latter is more likely (for me at least). That is an extreme example, but take a moment and scale that back to situations that are actually a part of your everyday routine. What would you be more disappointed in missing out on…the latest episode of “CSI: Miami” or an hour of time praying for the needs of friends and family who you know have major issues going on in their lives that could be healed or solved through God’s intervention? I think about these things often, and feel pretty guilty about the way I use my time. Time is one of the resources that we are given by our Creator that we are expected to be good stewards of…just like our physical strength, talents, wealth, etc. So how can I use the ChurchSurfer blog project (which I believe is a pretty good use of time) to also help me do some other things that are important to me? I have always had a desire to learn more history, specifically the history of the Christian faith and churches over the years since our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection. Protestantism and Catholicism are two pieces of modern Christianity that I have already experienced first hand, but there is another that I have left out up to this point. It’s time to fix that, so I decided to visit Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and begin to explore Orthodoxy. Here’s how it went… Read more...
Church Experience #45 – November 27, 2011
Calvary Church of the Nazarene – Chattanooga, TN
There Are How Many…?
When trying to think of Christian denominations that I had not yet visited as part of the ChurchSurfer blog project this year (how many stinkin’ denominations are there anyway? It is mind boggling! Oh, and 40,000 is the answer I found, BTW.) my dad offered up the suggestion of Church of the Nazarene. OK, I am sure I have seen the name before, but was not sure that I had ever known anyone who was a member of a church of this denomination (or anyone who admitted to it, anyway). I fired up the Google search engine and typed in “Church of the Nazarene Chattanooga TN” and got a list back with a few different options, the very first of which was Calvary Church of the Nazarene on Bonny Oaks Drive, which is not far from where I live (and that always helps because gas is expensive!). So without doing any research (shame on me) and not really knowing what to expect, Laura and I set out to visit our first Nazarene church. Here is how our experience went…
Expectations vs. Reality Read more...
Church Experience #44 – November 20, 2011
Christ United Methodist Church – Chattanooga, TN
Shame On Who?
I drive by Christ United Methodist Church fairly often these days when I am visiting my parents who live nearby in East Brainerd. I paid particular attention to a major addition that went on this year (which of course included the union protesters holding the “Shame On You” sign…now a Chattanooga staple) because it brought back memories of when Christ United Methodist was first constructed on the current property at the corner of Morris Hill and East Brainerd. I was a kid at the time and have some great memories of playing with some of the other boys in the church when it was first launched. Since then it has grown into a megachurch approaching 4,000 members. The last time I attended there, the sanctuary served double duty as a gymnasium with retractable basketball goals and stackable chairs that could be cleared out of the way for recreation. I was pretty sure that would no longer be the case, and the outside of the building (especially the new addition) looked to be more for appearance than functionality like the original design. I was curious to see all of the renovations and to find out what the church had grown into over the years, so I decided to drop in for one of my ChurchSurfer visits. Here’s how it went…
Alternative Gift Giving Read more...