December 2012


Merry Christmas from the Franks family! The blog will return next week after a long winter’s nap.

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As I type, we’re wrapping up day one of Christmas at DPAC, and getting prepared for two more services on Christmas Eve. It has been – in short – amazing. Freakishly amazing.

Our First Impressions Team has been in top form and have made me so, so proud. Our Summit Kids Team has served with class, skill, and thousands of Goldfish crackers. Our Production Team has never been slicker. The Gospel was shared 152 different ways: if you didn’t hear it, it wasn’t for lack of God speaking.

And our Worship Team?

Aw heck…our Worship Team.

I knew exactly 1.5% of the program setup before the first service launched at 11 AM Sunday. I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. And then I snuck in for a few minutes at both the 11 and 2, but then sat through the 5.

So how was it?

I can’t explain it. Nobody can. But good grief…they absolutely tore the place to pieces. You need to understand that I’m a man with zero musical talent. When I sing it sounds like a flock of howler monkeys with emphysema have been shoved into a wood chipper. But I’m pretty sure I know when I hear something that sounds good. And they did.

If you read this early enough on Monday, you oughta join me at DPAC for the 2:00 or 5:00 services. Officially, the free tickets are sold out. However, if you get there an hour before service, there’s a good chance the box office will hook you up. It’s worth a shot.

And speaking of shots, here are a few of my faves from day one. Big thanks to Brett Seay for sneaking me a few…

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It’s Friday, kiddies, and that means you get recycled content.

Hey, it’s better than coal in your stocking.

  • Let Her Go, Let Her Go, Let Her Go.
  • Up on the housetop reindeer pause, and watch in horror as Santa falls…
  • Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire

See all 26 of ’em at the original post.

I’m neck deep in volunteer spreadsheets for Christmas at DPAC and also not too shameless to take another opportunity to tell you that you can still sign up to serve. For that reason, here’s three things that have been rockin’ my world this week. (Remember kids, click on the bold print to link to the original post.)

School Shootings and Spiritual WarfareBy far the best response to the horrors of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.

…let’s remember that Bethlehem was an act of war. Let’s remember that the One born there is a prince of peace who will crush the skull of the ancient murderer of Eden. Let’s pray for the Second Coming of Mary’s son. And, as we sing our Christmas carols, let’s look into the slitted eyes of Satan as we promise him the threat of his coming crushed skull.

Five Ways to Play with Your Kids this ChristmasWow. I needed this.

During the holiday season, we’re tempted to spend too much time on our iPhones, on the computer, or watching television. Following our example, our kids isolate themselves too. We’re together physically, but no one is having fun. No wonder by New Year’s everyone is ready to get back into the normal routine.

Three Days Til the Alpacalypse. (Not everything can be serious today.)

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Just in case you missed the link earlier this week on my Twitter account, we have a heckuva worship team with some crazy mad skills.

Last week at our staff Christmas party, they unveiled their latest music video. I think you’ll find it as inspiring and…um…magical as I did.

Crank those speakers, skippy. You’ll want your co-workers to hear this ‘un.

 

If you live in the Raleigh-Durham area, you’ve hopefully seen the billboards, commercials, and inviter cards promoting Christmas at the Durham Performing Arts Center. These five events over two days is the Summit Church’s gift to our community, and I want you to be a part of it. No, seriously…be my guest. I want you to come. And if you’re a Summit regular, I want you to serve with me. Here’s the skinny:

  • Get a ticket. They’re free, but they must be reserved online. And they’re going fast.
  • Sign up to serve. We need people on the First Impressions & Summit Kids teams, and we primarily need them on 12/24 at 5 PM, 12/24 at 2 PM, and 12/23 at 5 PM, in that order. For more on why  you should serve, see this post.
  • Invite your friends. All of ’em. Bring the ones you love and the ones that you’re trying to love. It’ll be a great experience.

You can do all of those things above by visiting the Christmas at DPAC website. Go on. Do it. Now.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen our production team’s commercial, watch it. Those guys are freakishly talented.

 

Yesterday Merriem and I accompanied Jacob, our oldest, to his company Christmas party.

That’s right: we’re old enough to have a child with his own workplace party. After it was over with, we shopped for nursing homes.

But I digress. Jacob works for Chick Fil A, which if you’ve read this blog you know is one of my favorite companies out there. And after hitting a behind-the-scenes gathering for employees and their families, I walked away being an even bigger fan of their passion and the reality that – while the financial bottom line is important – they sure do seem like a company that’s more interested in the people walking through the doors.

But I digress again. Roughly halfway through the party, I looked out the window to the parking lot to see a man in his 60’s walking towards the door. Keep in mind it was a Sunday. We were sitting in Chick Fil A, the company that is infamous for being closed on Sunday. And there was a sign on the door that said “Closed for a party.” Oh: and there were wall-to-wall people inside and two buffet lines set up (please please please Chick Fil A add a buffet line to the menu) and a Dirty Santa gift exchange going on and an owner/operator emceeing into a microphone and just general pandemonium all the way around.

But I could see it on this guy’s face: he wasn’t paying attention to any of that. He walked across the parking lot, through the open door, to the restrooms, and then back out of the building and to his car.

(No word on whether he washed his hands.)

And all the while, a party that wasn’t for him was going on all around him. He’d slipped into Chick Fil A bizarro world and never knew what hit him. He came in and went out and went on with his day, none the wiser of his surroundings.

On the drive home I couldn’t help but draw the parallel between my Sunday afternoon entertainment and what seems to be the “new normal” this time of year. We’re surrounded by celebrations: lights and music and smells and tastes and presents and family, and yet we fail to recognize the true party that’s right in front of us. As Sally Lloyd-Jones says in her children’s book Song of the Stars, “the one who made us has come to live with us.”

Presents. No presence.

Gifts. But not the Gift.

Lights. But not the Light.

Managing chaos. But no manger amidst the chaos.

We have just over a week to go until Christmas. As for me, I plan to carve out some quiet moments to reflect, to worship, to celebrate the real party that is unfolding around me. How can you do that as well?

The one who made us has come to live with us.

This afternoon our entire nation is focused on the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The latest numbers report 26 people dead, many of them children, and many of those likely kindergarteners.

Every time another headline broadcasts another school shooting, I’m drawn back to November 15, 1995, the morning a 17 year old senior walked into Richland High School in Lynnville, Tennessee, and opened fire in a crowded hallway. In the aftermath, a 16 year old student and a teacher were killed. Another teacher was critically wounded.

Richland was just up the road from my hometown. It was one of our county schools that housed students from kindergarten through 12th grade. My aunt had taught there for years. Two of my cousins graduated from there. And as the brand new student pastor at my home church, we had more than our fair share of kids who attended there.

As the news spread that morning in our tiny town, more details emerged and more connections were made. One of the girls in our student ministry had just stepped out of the hallway when the first shot rang out. She’d been standing beside the student who was killed. Many more of our students had seen or heard the chaos as it unfolded. My mom was friends with the injured teacher, whose son was my age. As a matter of fact, they shared a hospital room the week that we were born.

I’d just started serving as student pastor on the Sunday before the shooting, but I was asked to be a part of the grief counseling team when the school reopened. To say I was in way over my head is a vast understatement. There was no category for what we were experiencing. The first “nationally televised” school shooting in Pearl, Mississippi didn’t happen until almost two years later, so we had no precedent for what should happen. I was sitting in a room with professional psychologists and psychiatrists from all over the state who had come to help. We were told in no uncertain terms, “You’re here to listen. You’re here to give counsel. You’re here to bring comfort.”

And yet, the unspoken rule was that we were to bring comfort outside of “organized religion.” We were in a public school, so sharing the gospel was discouraged. I know the other pastors in the room felt the same internal alarms going off that I did. But Richland was a rural school in a rural community full of rural, God-fearing, church-going teachers and administrative staff, so we conveniently overlooked the regulations being handed down by the professionals.

The reason is simple: when I sat in the room with a couple of dozen high schoolers that day, I knew there was absolutely no hope outside of the cross. There was no explanation outside of sin. And there was no comfort outside of Jesus.

Even on this day, the professionals have taken to the radio, TV, and internet, discussing how we can explain these situations to our kids and how we process them with each other. I have a friend that I’m currently walking through the gospel with, and I’ll guarantee you that the next time we’ll talk, he’ll bring up today’s shooting. Theologians call it the problem of evil: how do you reconcile the horrific crimes and pains of the world with an all loving God? How can my friend trust a God who allows children to die? How can someone be so deranged, so evil, that they would walk into an elementary school and start shooting?

The only answer is sin. The only remedy is the cross. The only hope is Jesus.

As the people of God processes this day, let us not fall into the trap of naming issues that are not issues. Let us not discuss gun control or early warning signs or tighter security in schools. While all of those discussions have a place, we must take the time to call evil evil. We must point people to Jesus. And we must give people space to ask hard questions and be satisfied that we will not know all the answers.

I dare not presume to explain the problem of evil, because I’ve asked those questions myself. I’ve asked those questions today. But my finite understanding does not negate an omniscient God. My inability to see the larger picture does not mean a picture isn’t being painted. My failure to see good does not invalidate Romans 8:28.

This world is dark and our days are grim. It has been that way since our first parents chose their own desires and became rebels against the kingdom. Our sin was the reason that Jesus came. Our rebellion was the catalyst that caused him to die, and his cross was the meeting place between God’s wrath and our depravity.

But it was his blood that covered that depravity. His blood removed our sin. His blood provided the great exchange between our life and his.

It’s only at the cross that we find hope for our souls. And it’s only the empty tomb where we can find hope out of death and tragedy.

Don’t squander the opportunity you will have to make much of the cross and the empty tomb this weekend. Don’t fall into the entrapping cycle of empty arguments.

Point people to Jesus, for it’s only in him that we will find true peace on earth.

This one’s for the pencil-pushing, numbers-crunching, spreadsheet-making organizational nerds out there. Merry Christmas.

If you’re a leader who tends to run regularly recurring events, you need an event template. Weekly events are one thing: you get into the rhythm of planning a weekend service, and you can typically do it with your eyes closed (worship pastors do that all the time, it makes ‘em look holy).

But when it comes to a not-so-weekly event, you need a template in place to keep you from reinventing the wheel and wasting time. Our First Impressions Team for our monthly Equip Leadership Forum is one example of how we pull that off. Away we go…

Read the entire post here.

Three things that have grabbed my attention like a spider monkey grabs a toupee off a bald guy’s head, in 3…2…

Fluffo Gave Middle Tennesseans Good Night’s Sleep For 80 YearsIn the “purely personal” category, this is a business owned and operated by my Uncle Horace. I still have fond childhood memories of seeing him on Nashville’s Ralph Emory Show more mornings than I can remember. Jacob’s very first crib mattress was a customized Fluffo. This place was the real deal…I hate to see it go.

That mattress maker’s days of sending people off into dreamland are over.

“I’d love to see it go on and on, the name Fluffo, but I don’t have anybody ready to go into it with all the competition,” said Horace Bass, the company’s owner.

Bass started naming his company’s mattresses 30 years ago, The Snuggler, The Snoozer and The Fluffo, hoping it would boost sales.

From a 1980’s Kids Computer BookAmazing. This looks exactly like my iPhone.

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Parrot Sees SquirrelThis sounds remarkably like my two year old.

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