May 2012

Baptism, Jesus video games, and grilled cheese? That’s why people keep coming back to the blog, folks: I’m not afraid to tackle the hard topics.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

Must Baptism Precede Membership? Of Course! Jonathan Leeman has a great take on the topic, I think. What say you?

Baptism is like a team jersey. To “put it on” is to publicly identify yourself with the Trinity. That’s what Jesus means when he speaks of being baptized “into the name” of Father, Son, and Spirit. When you are baptized, you are saying, “I’m with them!”  You are putting on the team jersey. [read more]

First Video Game About Jesus Launches on Facebook. Is it just me, or is this the creepiest thing you’ve ever seen? I wonder what Ricky Bobby would say about this?

The game follows the life of Christ during his public ministry from the point of view of a character whose name is pulled from the user’s Facebook profile. Players collect items and trade them with their Facebook friends to progress through Christ’s mission.

…the “Journey of Jesus” allows the player to “connect with the real human emotional elements” by playing and interacting with Jesus as themselves. [read more]

21+ Ways to Upgrade Your Grilled Cheese. Some people’s love language is acts of service. Mine is grilled cheese.

Aside from necessarily being sliced, the only other rule here is that it can’t be too hole-y (or your cheese will drip out), and it can’t be sliced too thick, (lest your cheese won’t melt). White bread and American is what many of us grew up on, but if you want to go fancier, feel free to use a nice hand-sliced Italian ciabatta, a good sourdough, or a French boule. Grilled cheese is a great way to use up day-old bread, as the grilling process will resuscitate it a bit. [read more]

Last week my in-laws were in town for a visit. And by “in-laws” I mean father-in-law, mother-in-law, uncle-Bubba-in-law, aunt-in-law, and RV-in-law. On previous trips the RV-in-law has set up shop in our backyard, running its 14 gigawatt plug through our kitchen window and into our wall, causing our household appliances to writhe and shriek in pain as they have the life slowly sucked from them because the RV-in-law decided it needs French Toast and so it fires up the stove.

But this time, RV-in-law headed south towards Jordan Lake, where we spent a rainy, dreary, wet Mother’s Day afternoon. That’s right: ten people crammed into RV-in-law, with nary an inch of room to dip the French Toast in the egg bath, but plenty of room to watch I Love Lucy reruns. (And now I know why Adele always wants to set fi-eye-re to the rain.)

But I digress.

Prior to the rain, my 15 year old was wandering the campsite, and came tearing back up the path to tell us that there was a bald eagle in the trees. Now, Austin has a tendency to see things that aren’t really there, like the time he was on a Sean May sighting kick and it usually ended up being a 5’2″ white guy. But because the French Toast wasn’t ready, I followed him back to the lake.

And there, it all its glory: a bald eagle. Out in nature. The real deal. The kind of raw power that could have snatched up a small child or clawed my face off with its large talons.

So I grabbed the camera and snapped a picture as it flew away, then snapped a picture of the camera’s viewfinder with my iPhone, and here was the result. Given that it’s a picture of a picture, it’s kind of beautiful, yes?

(If you click on the photo, the eagle does a cool trick where he flies upside down. And no, I don’t know why.)

Hey National Geographic, if you need me, hit the “Make Contact” tab above.

Last weekend a friend reminded me of the following story. I say “friend,” but the reality is that friends don’t remind friends of dark and tragic times in their lives, and do so while laughing. After a couple of years of shock therapy, I’d almost put this incident out of my mind…

This post won’t be pretty. The squeamish should look away. And if you’re a neatnik Pharisaical type, just go ahead and start polishing your rifle, because you’re going to need it in 3…2…

As Campus Pastor at the Summit, one of my roles is to lead our congregation through the act of communion. Usually when I do that, I’ll grab my wafer and cup of grape juice (Southern Baptist wine) during our pre-service run through and set it somewhere on stage so it’s easily accessible when I get up there.

Yesterday, Pastor J.D. was about 3/4 of the way through the message when I realized I hadn’t set the elements out as normal. Since I would be leading into communion directly out of the sermon, there would be no chance to grab them before heading onstage. So I pulled out my phone and texted* our 9:00 backstage manager, the talented Nick Nohling. A few minutes later I received this reply:

“There are no cups in the green room but I have improvised. I found some red Sobe Lifewater and a cup. Hopefully that works for you.”

Oh, it gets worse. Much, much worse. Read the entire post here.

Thursday is the day where there’s no original content here on the blog. Well, unless you count this week, when I’ve been in a Gospel Summit induced coma and have done nothing productive up to and including being mobile in society, and therefore haven’t posted anything original. (But let’s face it – I’ve had three original ideas in my life. To prove it, even that saying was stolen from J.D. Greear.)

But I digress. Here are three links you need to read, along with some original comments. (See? I’m here for you.) Enjoy your day.

Is It Time For Calendar Triage? Michael Hyatt gives tips to organize your life, which he excels at. He also would tell you not to end a sentence with a preposition.

…some patients will survive without medical care. Some won’t survive even if they have medical care. Triage means ignoring these two groups and focusing on those that will only survive with medical care.

With regard to your calendar, it means you must know which things you can safely cancel or reschedule and which things demand your participation. [read more]

Even Steve Jobs’ Speech Notes Were BeautifulYes. Yes they were.

…they are in many ways a telling encapsulation of the man himself. Jobs was a natural showman who needed only the barest outline to announce the changing of the world, and his notes here are so simple that they could have been scrawled on the back of a napkin… [read more]

The Story of Ian and Larissa. There are exactly four people in the world who haven’t seen this video that went viral earlier this week. If you found your way here, you’re welcome. This is the best nine-minute investment you’ll make in your marriage today.

We’re wrapping up a two day conference called The Gospel Summit. It has been an incredibly energizing experience to be with and learn from more than 300 pastors and ministry leaders from across the country.

The breakouts I’ve led have dealt with the areas of guest services and covenant membership. One of the biggest questions out of these sessions have been “What books do you recommend.”

Ah. So glad you asked. While my book recommendation list has likely been added to, here’s a clip from a Q&A blog post a couple of years back:

What kind of books do you read to help sharpen you skills as the head guru of First Impressions? Conferences? Magazines? etc.

Ah, books.  One of my favorite topics.  Here we go, no funny banter required.  (I was going to toss these into specific categories – volunteers, connection, membership, etc. – but I decided I didn’t want to.  So there.)

Read the entire post (and see the entire list) here.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that Thursdays are a day for kicking back and letting other people do the blogging. Below are three things I’ve been reading and watching this week, and you should, too. Because they’re awesome.

Want some bonus content? Our staff team is hosting The Gospel Summit today and tomorrow. Get on your Twitter machine and follow the #GospelSummit hashtag. Over 200 pastors and ministry leaders will be in attendance, and many will be live tweeting the event. (Or at least I hope they will be. Otherwise the previous pep rally will turn out very lame, indeed.)

The Six Worst (and Best!) Phrases in Customer Service. (Hint: “Ya want fries with that?” is not one of the best. Go figure.)

There’s a reason why Chick-fil-A uses the phrase “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome.” These two little words proclaim delight. Chick-fil-A founder, Truett Cathy, was inspired to institute the phrase after a visit to the Ritz Carlton. When Cathy said “thank you” to front desk representative, the response was “my pleasure.” Even though his business was fast food, Cathy felt it important to reply to his customers as if they were at a luxury establishment. [read more]

Five Keys to Building Healthy Volunteer Teams. Tony Morgan nails it, as usual. If you lead volunteers, you need to read this. If you don’t have any volunteers, it’s because you haven’t read this. Jump on it, yo.

In the church, we tend to rely on promotions to recruit volunteers. We use platform announcements and bulletin ads and pleas for help. Volunteer recruitment is relational. It’s one friend inviting another friend to join them in serving. Four out of five people show up to church for the first time through an invitation from a friend. That same principle works for every next step people take at your church. [read more]

North Durham Campus Production Setup. It’s no secret that I dig our volunteers. But I have a special place in my aorta for our mobile campus volunteers. As a 2 1/2 year veteran of “church in a box,” I can’t get over the cool factor of this video. Watch Hillandale Elementary School get transformed into a Summit Campus in 2.5 minutes flat.

Today marks a special milestone for the Franks family. One year ago today, our daughter came to our home and never left.

It was early April 2011 when we met Haven. Her biological grandmother was raising her, but knew that wasn’t a viable long term solution. We were attempting to become licensed as foster parents, but had hit roadblocks based on the size of our home and the size of our family. God intervened as only God can, and some mutual friends introduced us to our daughter’s grandmother.

After a few weeks of getting to know them (and vice versa), I called on a Friday morning and asked the grandmother if we could give her a break and take Haven for the day. She spent the night with us that night, and the night after. On Sunday morning, May 1, we took her back home, although it felt like we were handing over our flesh and blood.

(Merriem snapped this picture that morning before church. I have it framed on my desk with the word “miracle” stamped on the frame. It was. She is.)

That afternoon, we were sitting in our small group, updating them on the events of the weekend. At that time, they were part of the very small circle of friends who knew what was transpiring in our lives.

As I was talking, my cell phone rang. It was Haven’s grandmother. A situation had come up, and she didn’t feel like it was good for Haven to be there. Would we be willing to come and get her?

Of course you know that answer. I walked back into the living room with a deer-in-the-headlights look and said, “Looks like you guys are about to meet her personally.”

And so Merriem and I drove to a gas station parking lot, where we picked up a little girl, a bottle that was 1/4 full of milk, and not much else. She came home with us that night, and never left.

To say that adoption has changed us would be the understatement of the year. To say that a little girl has turned our world upside down would be an accurate descriptor of the last twelve months. I am – to put it mildly – wrapped around her finger. She is the delight of our family. A year ago we didn’t know there would be a life with her, and now we can’t imagine life without her. To borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul, she’s been grafted in as a natural part of who we are.

One of my favorite daddy moments comes when I get to be home when she wakes up. I snapped this video a couple of Saturdays ago so that you could participate in the tsunami of cuteness:

Thank you for being a part of our journey over this last glorious year. If you’d like to read more of Haven’s story, you can start here.

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