Things Change

7 Things that have changed since I became pastor of Brentwood Baptist in 1991.

1. We moved! From 409 Franklin Road to our new facilities on 7777 Concord Road.

2. My first computer had a green screen and used a DOS operating sytem.

3. We have 6 weekly worship venues every week (4 worship experiences on Sunday at the Brentwood campus, one at Station Hill campus and Kairos on Tuesday night).

4. Our membership has gone from 900 in 1991 to over 7,500 in 2010.

5. We have 500+ people who join our services by internet every week.

6. Social media is a big part of my job now. I’ve learned to Twitter.

7. My twin sons Chris and Craig have graduated college, married and started their own lives.

But the Word of God has not changed.

What’s changed in your life?

Too Big to Fail

A few weeks ago, Washington was “a-twitter” with all of the investigations, the reporting and the committee meetings going on. It was the same week as the State of the Union address, but nobody was talking about the State of the Union. Everyone was talking about Timothy Geitner  – what he had to say before the Senate committees investigating AIG and all of the TARP money and recovery money that was poured into these financial institutions. Billions of taxpayer dollars were given to these banks and financial institutions because we were told that if they had failed and not been able to meet their obligations, the ripple effect throughout our economy could have sent unemployment as high as 25 percent. We kept hearing over and over again that AIG was too big to fail.

Too big to fail? There are a couple of things that should bother us about this. First, how did we let an institution get so big that it could affect our economy like that? Second, anything built by human beings is going to fail. Sooner or later it falls over. It breaks. There hasn’t been anything a human being has built that has lasted forever, or has been put in a position where it cannot fail.

Remember the pyramids—once the grandest structures in their day?  People supposed they would stand for all time. Now we’re digging in the sand, trying to find them. The Roman Coliseum—it’s a ruin, something you visit on a tour. It has failed, and so will AIG. The economy will change, we will restructure, somebody will buy them out and sell them off. That’s what happened to other corporations we were sure would last forever, but haven’t.

That’s what happens to human beings. Things break, people fail. In fact, Jesus said that when everything was said and done there will be only one thing that will last. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.Mark 13:31

That statement is part of what we call the “Mount Olivet Discourse.” Jesus and His disciples were sitting on the Mount of Olives looking out over the city of Jerusalem. If you go there you can sit kind of close to where Jesus was. As my guide said when we were there touring the Holy Land, “Fifty yards this way, fifty yards that way—you’re close.” From there you can look out over the skyline of Jerusalem. That’s where they were when they were looking at the awesome structure of Herod’s temple.

Jesus tells his disciples, “Guys, there’s coming a time when not one stone, not one block, will be left on top of the other.” The disciples could not imagine how such a thing could happen. How in the world would that happen? Who would be strong enough to pull that off?  Herod’s Temple was too big to fail.

But it literally happened in AD 70, less than a generation from the time Jesus gave this prophecy to the disciples. The Roman legions would overwhelm Jerusalem, and they would utterly and totally destroy the center of Jewish power and faith. They literally would not leave one stone on top of the other. If you go there now you can see the piles of stones where the Roman soldiers pushed them over the wall and they fell to the bottom of the Wailing Wall. They are still there. No one has been strong enough to put them back in place.

Anything built by humans will fall – buildings, corporations, nations.  There will always be shifts in power that shake the foundations of society.  What are you building your life upon?  Only Jesus’ words will stand, a solid foundation.  Only His Word and what is built on it will remain.

Is Jesus angry with us?

This morning I was reading in Luke 19:45-46 about Jesus cleaning out the Temple. Do you remember that story? Jesus goes into the Temple, sees where all of the money changers have their tables set up. He sees the stalls and cages where the animals are kept to be sold for sacrifices. He turns over the tables, pushes down the gates and fences. That must have been some sight – men running and screaming, animals “mooing”, “baaing” and flying around. And Jesus angry. This passage always intrigues people because they get to see Jesus angry. In the verses just before this, Jesus weeps over the condition of the city of Jerusalem. Now he is enraged over the condition of the Temple.

Above it all, we would have heard the voice of Jesus, “My Father’s house is to be called a house of prayer!” A house of prayer – a safe place where people could come to have a conversation with God. Jesus is passionate about people being able to connect with His Father. He is moved to tears and provoked to anger over it.

Here’s the question I’ve been asking myself: If Jesus were to throw open the doors of Brentwood Baptist Church, what would he turn over, throw out, or run off? Would He recognize this church as a house of prayer, a safe place where people can meet with God? Are we doing anything to stand in the way of that?

Brentwood Baptist Church
is his house. Would he recognize his home? Would he know us as his people?

I have my thoughts. What are yours?

Writing and Risking

This week I am at a writer’s conference in Denver. I will be listening to presentations from publishers, agents, editors and successful writers. I have always wanted to be a writer. It’s one of those dreams that you hold deep within your soul and guard like a diamond, that once shaped and polished, will be of untold worth.

But coming to place like this is scary for me. It’s a reach, and way outside my comfort zone. I love writing. I think I can write…but what if one of these guys tells me I can’t write? What then?

Have you ever had a dream so precious to you that you would rather keep the dream than make an attempt that fails and lose the dream? That’s where I am. A part of me loves the dream more than the attempt to make the dream happen. The result is getting caught in the proverbial catch 22. You want to, but don’t want to; you don’t want to, but you have to.

Well, I’m here. I guess that’s the first step. And I guess I must be a writer. I mean, who else comes to writer’s conferences?

So, I guess I had better start writing. There is nothing more useless than a writer who’s not writing.

What do you dream about doing? What’s stopping you?