Category Archives: Front Page

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Are we willing to engage atheism?

Front Page Tough Questions

I just preached a message this week on the reasons we should believe in God, and as a result I’ve been watching some videos from some serious atheists to get their perspective.

There are some interesting thoughts out there, and I’m going to post here a collection of video clips and links to people who might be considered “militant atheists” or “New Atheists”—atheists on a mission to promote the cause of atheism.

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Why should I believe in God?

Front Page Tough Questions

Three kinds of people ask this question:

  1. Some people ask this question to pick a fight. They have made up their mind about their own belief in God, and they are trying to push my buttons. They want me to engage them in debate. Sometimes I do.
  2. Some people ask this question to put up a smoke screen. There is something about belief in God that scares them. They know they are leaning toward belief, but they are afraid of it and use this question as a smoke screen to redirect the conversation into something else. Usually, the smoke screen tactic leads to the debate tactic, but the motive was different.
  3. Some people ask this question because they are honestly interested to know the answer. I’m writing this post for them.

For those who want to know the answer to this question, it usually boils down to two other questions: Can a rational person like me believe in God? Should I today make the choice of faith today?

On Sunday, I dealt with the second of the two questions, but I didn’t get much time to deal with the first of the two, so I’m planning to post a few ideas to the first question here on my blog.

Can a Rational Person Believe in God?

I consider myself to be a rather rational person myself. In fact, I have often said that if God hadn’t grabbed my life as early as he did, I might never have come to him. I had a personally convicting experience about God when I was three, and that puts me in a very interesting place.

You see, I’ve often wondered about the level to which my upbringing has predisposed me toward a belief in God, and so I’ve personally wrestled with many different approaches to the question above. Can I as a rational person believe in God or is my belief entirely based on my upbringing?

Today, I feel very satisfied in my answer, and I’ll just share my own thinking with you.

However, I need to do it in a few different posts… Sorry about that. Stay tuned, I’m writing the first one now.

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Southside Church is Relocating!

Front Page Lafayette Community Church


For the second time in our brief history, Southside Church will change our Sunday morning meeting place.

We started in an elementary school. Then we went to a Junior High. So where would you think we would go next?

That’s right!

The Holiday Inn! Actually, it’s the Holiday Inn Select: City Center here in Lafayette.

<br/>View Larger Map

We think it’s going to be a great opportunity for us, and I’m really excited… but now, we have to rethink our name. Downtown isn’t exactly “Southside” anymore, although the hotel is actually on “South Street”!

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What goes through your mind when you die?

Front Page Stuff I Find

I was amazed to find this account online of what it feels like to be nearly fatally shot with a bullet. George Orwell, the famous writer, was a soldier during World War II, and recounts what it was like to be hit with a bullet. It’s amazingly vivid, interesting, and thought provoking.

Here are a couple quotes from the essay:

Roughly speaking it was the sensation of being at the center of an explosion. There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all around me, and I felt a tremendous shock – no pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shriveled up to nothing… The next moment my knees crumpled up and I was falling, my head hitting the ground with a violent bang which, to my relief, did not hurt. I had a numb, dazed feeling, a consciousness of being very badly hurt, but no pain in the ordinary sense.

. . .

There must have been about two minutes during which I assumed I was killed. And that too was interesting — I mean it is interesting to know what your thoughts would be at such a time. My first thought, conventionally enough, was for my wife. My second was violent resentment at having to leave this world which, when all is said and done, s me so well.

It’s a great question. What will go through my mind when I face death? Will I think about my family, my God, my work? Will I feel resentment, regret, anger?

Here’s the link to the full article.

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Productivity: August 13, 2007

Front Page My Spiritual Life

Today’s Accomplishments

  • I mowed the lawn.
  • I read a chapter from
    Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time
  • I sent an email to Greg, Kyle, and Josh about our Four Guys and God meeting. (We are going to work through the 10 commandments in our discipleship).
  • I’ve taken a closer look at the ning.com social network creation site to see if that would work better than maintaining our own church website.
  • I processed a few emails.
  • I wrote three blog entries.
  • I printed mailing labels for 350 postcards and affixed them to the cards (Jen helped).
  • I invited some neighbors over for dinner.
  • I read the kids their bedtime story and got them in bed while Jen was at Bible Study
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WHY Campaign

036 WHY: Life's Biggest Questions Front Page Lafayette Lafayette Community Church

For 6 weeks, we will be exploring the six biggest questions in life.

  • Why am I here?
  • Why should I believe in God?
  • Why should I trust the Bible?
  • Why is the world so messed up?
  • Why is there such conflict between Science and the Bible?
  • Why Jesus?

It’s going to be a powerful program combining dynamic Sunday worship experiences with casual but deep discussion groups. I’ve been looking forward to it for 3 months now!

In many ways, I’ve been thinking of this 6 week campaign as a re-launch of the church. During the summer, our attendance went down quite a bit, but now that school is starting up again, I’m really hoping that we can get a jump-start on this new year by launching this campaign.

I want every Sunday service to be a real event. More than that, I’m really eager to see us take the life of the church to a new level. Here are my personal dreams for the campaign.

  • That we would get more than 50 people solidly involved in a small group experience.
  • That our Sunday attendance would double.
  • That all our volunteers and campaign directors would be encouraged and excited all the way through.
  • That the campaign would launch us full speed into the Fall.
  • That we’d get a solid small group thing happening combined with memorable Sunday gatherings.

These things are so doable, and I believe God can easily accomplish them all. I’m eager to see it!

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Productivity Experiment #2

Front Page Leadership

I wasn’t really satisfied with my first productivity week, so I’m going to do it again this week. And I’m feeling more intense about it. There’s one major thing coming up in the life of our church that is prompting me to get more productive and it is our WHY campaign. To hear what I have to say about that, click on the link.

Anyway, because I have such high dreams for the WHY campaign, I’m really motivated to get a lot accomplished this week. Here are the big things I want to accomplish:

Church Goals

  • Get my sermon outlines for the next two weeks done by Wednesday
  • Get my sermon for this week completed by Friday.
  • Create a script for the entire morning.
  • Recruit some people for a small group at my house
  • Recruit some people for a small group at the Skylight
  • Make phone calls to 50 households
  • Mail promotional post cards
  • Get an ad in Saturday’s paper.
  • Meet with Greg, Kyle and Josh to continue our triad discipleship group.
  • Pray, pray, pray.

Personal Goals

  • Apply for server job at 4 restaurants.
  • Spend fun time each day with family.
  • Have Saturday 100% off!!
  • Post a blog entry of some kind every day
  • Have my neighbors over for dinner.
  • Get all the family financial records up to date.
  • Re-Install Windows on the kids’ computer. (Is that really necessary?)
  • Set up a home asterisk server to save us on phone charges (all true geeks will know what asterisk is).

What do you think?

So how much of this do you think I can accomplish in one week? Am I shooting too high? Do you think it’s even possible to get this much done? I don’t think I’ve ever done EVERYTHING on my to do list in one week, but it will be interesting to see if I can.

Let me hear what you think. What do you accomplish on your most productive weeks?

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Productivity: Week 1 Results (and self analysis)

Front Page Leadership My Spiritual Life

I spent last week doing a productivity experiment that was really just a project of tracking of what I wanted to accomplish and what I actually did accomplish. Though the experiment didn’t turn out the way I had wanted it to, I learned some things about myself, and in this post, I share what I’m hoping to do about it to become more productive in the future.

Here’s my productivity list for last Wednesday (July 24):

  • Read about internet marketing — 60 mins.
  • Blogged my Monday productivity — 15 mins.
  • Devotion and Prayer — 10 mins.
  • fix look of blog and add comments — 10 mins.
  • Completed survey for research project on church planters — 40 mins.
  • Lunch and playing with Charlie — 1.25 hrs.
  • Processing voicemail and cleaning out email Inbox (finally) — 3 hrs.
  • Phone calls throughout the afternoon — 30 mins.
  • Evening phone calls — 60 mins.

(I didn’t even get a list done for Thursday.)

Analysis of the week

At the end of last week and throughout the week, I determined that productivity for me isn’t something I can just willpower my way into. I’m generally a very active person mentally, and my tendency to be distracted means that I’m regularly failing to finish projects all the way. I didn’t even get all my daily blog entries written last week (and it’s already Wednesday of this week!)

All in all, I think it was a good experiment, and I hope that some of the more obvious things I’ve learned will help me be more productive.

Things I Learned

As a result, here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1. Productivity for me will not happen without a list of daily goals. More specifically, as I looked at the list of things I actually did each day, I realized that though many of them were beneficial to my overall ministry, not many of them were essential or high priority items.

  2. Productivity for me will not happen in a “distractable” environment. My tendencies toward ADD make it very easy for me to follow mental rabbit trails. For example, reading my email through Gmail leads to me seeing news clips that interest me. Thinking that I can read the story in only a few seconds, I click on the link, but that story will have other links to more information, and before I know it, I’m deeply embedded in open Firefox tabs with a sense that I have to read them all before I can get back to answering that email.

  3. The mundane, mindless, routine tasks of ministry are the most dangerous for time-wasting because during those tasks, my brain is allowed to work overtime on discovering rabbit trails. For example, while my weekly sermon is being encoded and uploaded to the Internet Archive, I can do other things with the computer and that usually means frittering.

  4. The biggest thing I learned is that the most important tasks on my todo list create a kind of paralyzing guilt that hampers my productivity.

Let me explain that last point. I need to write a sermon every week for church on Sunday. I know that the process of writing a really good sermon takes me about 20 hours, but that I can create a pretty good sermon in only 8 hours. As a result, something very strange happens in my mind as the week moves on.

If I don’t get an early start on my message, I face a daily increasing level of stress as the week moves on. Because I feel so much pressure to get my message done, I feel guilty doing any other ministry. I don’t want to meet with people, I don’t want to make phone calls, and I don’t want to have any meetings because to do any of those things feels like I’m stealing from sermon prep time. If I do some ministry that isn’t sermon prep, I actually feel guilty and unproductive. However, if I put in a 4 hour block of time on my sermon, I feel the logistical pressure of needing to make phone calls, meet with people, and call meetings. So working on my sermon feels like stealing from other ministry.

My problem is that I have no internal sense of process. For me, everything is right now and nothing that should be done should wait to be done. As a result, I simply can never determine emotionally which ministry I should do right now. Make phone calls or work on sermon. Whichever I choose, I end up feeling guilty that I didn’t do the other one. I’ve been this way for long enough that I’ve grown to expect it and anticipate the guilty feeling even before I’ve made the choice and quite often the end result is that I do neither. I escape into family time, reading time, web browsing, email or mindless routine items.

I just spent about 15 minutes browsing the ‘Net to see if there were any blogs that addressed procrastination, but I’m back now!

Strategy for Going Forward

To answer my four learning points above, I’m suggesting this to myself and to you as a possible strategy:

  1. Set aside 4 hours each Monday for sermon prep without Internet access with a primary goal of getting draft sermon outlines done 2 weeks before the Sunday they are needed (I want to move this to 4 weeks before it’s needed).
  2. Use Sunday afternoon to do sermon podcast stuff until I can recruit someone else to do that for me.
  3. While the podcast is encoding/uploading on Sundays, I’ll make calls based on communication cards thus keeping me off the computer.
  4. Each day, I’ll make a list of things to accomplish and identify which ones can happen on the computer and how long those will take.
  5. BONUS: I don’t think I can make this happen because of the distractability thing, but I’d like to publish my daily todo list to the Internet so that I’ll be more accountable for how I spend my time.
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Productivity: July 23, 2007

Front Page Leadership My Spiritual Life

Here is my activity/productivity list for the day:

  • Devotional study of Psalm 116 (BI: Those who know God’s salvation respond with love.) — 30 minutes
  • Prayer bike ride through a new neighborhood — 60 minutes
  • Blog about my productivity experiment — 40 minutes
  • Work on processing audio for Sunday’s sermon — 25 minutes
  • Make lunch for kids and watch AFV with them — 60 minutes
  • Finishing sermon audio process and upload — 30 minutes
  • Reloaded home Email Server — 20 minutes
  • Converted a Simpsons video for my Palm Pilot — 10 minutes
  • Blogged my sermon — 10 minutes
  • Made dinner for the kids and watched a movie with them — 2.5 hours
  • Hanging out with Jen, working on miscellaneous household things for the rest of the evening.

Analysis

According to my productivity experiment, here’s how my day broke down.

Personal

  • Prayer: 60 minutes
  • Bible: 30 minutes
  • Other Books: 0 minutes
  • Total: 1.5 hours

Family

  • Time with kids: 3.5 hours
  • Time with Jen: 2 hours
  • Total 5.5 hours

Mission

  • Direct contact: 1 person (15 minutes)
  • Spiritual conversation: 0
  • Strategic planning : 0
  • Total 15 minutes

Routine

  • Managing home: 20 minutes (fixed email server)
  • Managing church: 65 minutes (blogged Sunday’s sermon)
  • Total 1.5 hours

Wow! As I look at this list, I’m thinking “That’s how I’m starting my week long productivity experiment?” It doesn’t look very productive to me. I’m going to have to do better.

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