Archive for September, 2006


The Slippery Slope

Question: What happens when you take God and prayer out of school?

I will give you a hint: the slope become very slippery.

I appreciate Peter LaBarbera’s comments in the following article. We need to pray for him and the parents of the Philadelphia School District. The next thing you know an enlightened educator in our state will think this is a great idea for Alabama. Do not laugh; it’s coming!

Philadelphia School District slates ‘Gay & Lesbian History Month’ for Oct.
Sep 28, 2006
By Michael Foust
Baptist Press

PHILADELPHIA (BP)–The Philadelphia School District has declared October “Gay and Lesbian History Month” on its 2006-07 school calendar, touching off a wave of protest from parents who say homosexuality conflicts with their religious beliefs.
The firestorm over the calendar was reported Sept. 28 by the Philadelphia Inquirer, which said the school district had received about 120 complaints, including one from a parent who said she was pulling her child out of school for the entire month of October.
Approximately 200,000 calendars were printed and sent to parents and others who have ties to the district. All of the calendars have October as being “Gay and Lesbian History Month.”
“We knew that this would be controversial,” Cecilia Cummings, a spokeswoman for the school district, told the newspaper. “When you deal with diversity, there are some hot-button issues that emerge.
“But conservative leaders and many parents say the school district went too far.
“This shows the whole problem with gay activism and so-called gay rights,” Peter LaBarbera, president of the conservative group Americans for Truth, told Baptist Press. “If you promote so-called homosexual rights, by definition you have to undermine people’s religious rights and religious beliefs.
“If you have a gay history month, you’re basically saying, ‘This is a wonderful part of American history — homosexual history — let’s celebrate it and let’s teach the kids that this is like civil rights. Are they going to teach the role that homosexual behavior had in the onset of HIV and AIDS? Is that going to be part of the history?”
One parent, Senita Watson, said she plans on homeschooling her second-grade daughter during October. She visited the school district offices Sept. 27 and has called on other parents to boycott as well.
“How can you celebrate gay and lesbian month? What are you going to teach my daughter?” Watson asked, according to The Inquirer. “They need to have a nonviolence month, not a gay and lesbian month…. Our children have enough to worry about with drugs.”
The school district is not preparing any district-wide curriculum or holding any special events for October, Cummings said, although presumably individual teachers and schools can plan their own agenda.
“This is the first step,” said LaBarbera, who added he has no doubt that district-wide curriculum eventually will follow. “The whole homosexual agenda is implemented incrementally…. First you have the legislation about hate crimes, and then you have sexual orientation laws, and then you have teaching it in schools — and that’s where they are now.”
Cummings told The Inquirer three other special celebrations also are on the school calendar: Hispanic Heritage (September), African American (February) and Asian Pacific American (May). Some people complain about African American month, she said.
“‘Why isn’t there a white male history month?’ we’ll hear,” she told The Inquirer.
LaBarbera, though, said there is no comparison between homosexuality and race.
“The schools are equating homosexuality with racial tolerance,” LaBarbera said. “Obviously, racial tolerance is accepted by 99.99 percent of Americans. But there’s a huge cultural divide on the issue of homosexuality, and the school district here is mimicking gay activists’ platitudes in response to this. There’s no respect for people who oppose homosexual behavior….
“They’re promoting one side of the issue to vulnerable and impressionable children. This is all about celebrating homosexuality, and there’s no consideration given for people from traditional faith households.”

Enjoying the Results of Running

For those of you who do not know, five years ago I started a crusade to get back into shape. My sole purpose in running was to ward off a heart attack and/or an early death. A secondary reason was to loose weight. As a result I started jogging about four or five days a week.

One morning, after a quick jog, a neighbor asked me, “Ryan, what are you running for?” Thinking his emphasis was on the “YOU” in that question, I quickly retorted, “To get in shape.” Again he asked the same question, only this time he said more emphatically, “No, I asked what are you running FOR? You don’t just run to get in shape. You must run FOR something.”

My neighbor was correct. You don’t just run, to run. You must run for something. As Paul said, “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).
With that simple question from my neighbor I was soon training to compete in my initial 5K run. I had never run more than a mile without stopping. So to run 3.1 miles would be a major victory for me. My inaugural 5K was Birmingham’s Kudzu 5K Run. After competing in it, I focused my vision on the Maple Leaf 5K in Trussville. It was not long after that I began dreaming of competing in a marathon. My goal was to run 26.3 miles (all in one day, at one time, in one run) before I turned 40.

For the next three years I was consumed with running. My first marathon was Huntsville’s Rocket City Marathon, which I ran three months before I turned 40. A year later I ran in the Chicago Marathon, and the following year I competed in the New York City Marathon.

Training for the New York City Marathon I injured my left knee. After a year of rehabilitation, my doctor suggested surgery. For nearly three years I have waged the battle to get my knee back into shape, only to be disappointed about three or four weeks into each renewal to run again. Thankfully, since about mid-June of this year I have slowly rebuilt my stamina in the knee. And, if the Lord is willing, I will be running in the Maple Leaf 5K in four weeks, followed by CrossPoint’s 5K the very next weekend.

I know I do not look like a runner, but running is a passion of mine. While running the other morning I started thinking of reasons why I like to run:

1. I like the RESULT of running. Running improves my health. It helps me think more clearly. I sleep better when I run. And, I feel better about my physical health and well being.
2. I like to SWEAT. When I sweat I forget, and it is always good to have something to help you forget your most pressing issues.
3. I like to pursue GOALS. I have always been a goal oriented person. I like setting certain mileage or time goals in my training log each week, and meeting or exceeding those goals. Periodically, I do not reach my objective, and all that does is motivate me to press on.
4. I like ROUTINE. Even though I consider myself a creative and spontaneous person, I like the habit of certain routines in my day. Routine keeps me on target with the objectives God wants me to fulfill.
5. I like the DISCIPLINE of running. By beginning five out of seven days of each week with an early morning run, I am a more disciplined person during the remainder of the day.

I may never win a race. I may never qualify for the Boston Marathon (I think the qualifying time now is 3:20, which is too fast for me). However, the reason I run is not to compete against others as much as it is to compete against myself and the battle time is waging on my body.

I would be curious to hear your stories as to how and why you exercise. I am particularly interested in your training stories as we count down the weeks to the Fifth Annual CrossPoint 5K.


First Impressions Card

Every Monday my assistant and I send letters to our 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th time guests. The letter to our first time guests includes a “First Impression Card.” The purpose of the card is to receive instant feedback. We ask our first time guest to respond to three areas: what they noticed first, what they liked best, and what they liked least.

Provided below are two responses I received this week.

This is what I noticed first:

Response #1: “Everyone was very friendly & welcomed us.”
Response #2: “The choir; the energy of the environment when I entered the building.”

This is what I like best:

Responder #1: “The music and sermon was awesome!!”
Responder #2: “The lady sitting beside me introduced herself and her husband and made me feel welcome; among lots of other nice things like seeing the children being baptized; the screens make the service more interactive.”

This is what I liked least:

Responder#1: “Just afraid a big church wouldn’t give the personal attention like a smaller one does.”
Responder #2: “I can’t say anything I liked the least; everything was a positive experience.”

That’s good stuff, isn’t it?

I am particularly proud of the CrossPointer who introduced herself and her husband to our guest. CrossPoint can never be too friendly. Keep welcoming those around you. Who knows, you may be introducing yourself to the next CrossPointer.

As for the thought of a big church not giving the “personal attention like a smaller one does” I think we can dispel that myth by growing smaller as we grow larger. That is why we encourage everyone to get involved in a small group. It is through the small groups we remain interconnected and involved with each other. Besides, I have never thought of CrossPoint as being a big church, have you?

By the way, we are currently averaging 10 to 12 first time guests every weekend at CrossPoint. That trend will only continue to increase as we reach out to our community.

First impressions are very important. Keep giving your best, CrossPoint!


Technical Difficulties

Hello all!! This is Vaughn, the blog administrator. I know many are probably wondering what happened to We have experienced some technical issues that have set us back from posting. Those issues have been ironed out so we shall resume blogging today!!


Giving To Sacrificially

Three years ago one of my special nieces (they are all special, by the way) asked me to support her as a staff member with Campus Crusade with Christ. Manda would serve on school year as a campus missionary on two college campuses in central Ohio. Manda did not realize it, but my family’s income was already stretched to the limit with our sacrificial giving to CrossPoint. However, after praying about it, we were convinced we were supposed to support Manda even if it meant more sacrifice on our part.

As a result of supporting Manda, another opportunity came our way. I remember the night very well. It was in the summer of 2004. On the other end of the phone line was the voice of a college student who said, “Uncle Ryan, you may not remember me by my name is Ryan Johnson and I Manda’s friend from Indiana. The purpose for my call is to see if you would support me financially while I serve with Campus Crusade in Spain next year.” You have to give the young man credit, he had me in his back pocket when he called me “Uncle Ryan” and reminded me of his connection with Manda. Of course I told Ryan my family would support him. Besides, we supported Manda for a year. Now that her service with Campus Crusade was ending, I could deposit that same amount of support over to Ryan’s account.

I offered to support Ryan from August of 2004 through August of 2005. As my year-long commitment was coming to a close, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Ryan would be returning to Spain for another twelve-month stint. Again, he called and again, Vonda and I said we would support him.

By now I am headstrong into my commitment to Campus Crusade for Christ. I have always believed in Campus Crusade for Christ. But my gifts for Manda, and then for Ryan made my commitment that much stronger.

As if supporting Ryan were not enough, God decided to bless us more toward the end of 2005. Late that year I ate lunch with an old friend from Mississippi. His beautiful daughter, Joy, joined us for the lunch, and during the meal she disclosed her need for support to serve as a Campus Crusade for Christ missionary on the campus of Mississippi State University.

What was I to do? My family was already supporting one missionary in Spain. Now we had another one saying she needed our support in Mississippi. It did not take much prayer. I knew what we were supposed to do. We were challenged to support this missionary as well. So, I started sending Campus Crusade more money so we could have the honor of supporting two students on mission for Christ.

The Campus Crusade for Christ story is a great one. I have the joy of being a small part in that visionary plan by supporting three students. Manda’s request set our commitment to Campus Crusade into motion. Ryan’s service in Spain has concluded. Joy’s commitment at Mississippi State may be expanded to Italy in 2007. So, my family will now give Joy the full amount of our support through August 2007. Hopefully, by then the Lord will send us another missionary we can support.

My family gives sacrificially to CrossPoint and her ministries. Our tithe goes to the budget. We also give another tithe to our JUST ONE MORE capital campaign. Additionally we give an offering each week to our World Missions Offering. Some might say that is enough. But my family has discovered there is a greater reward when you give beyond what you think you are able to give and share your income with some deserving students like Manda, Ryan and Joy. My family is committed to supporting Joy through August, 2007. The years of giving to this ministry have been so rewarding that I pray we meet another missionary before Joy leaves the mission field.

Provided below is a copy of the last letter Ryan sent me this week thanking my family for our support. I believe when you read the letter you will see why we give sacrificially to missions.

Hasta luego from Madrid, Spain!
And hello from St. Louis, Missouri! One chapter of my life has come to an end, and the next chapter is just beginning. On August 31st, at 8 am, I will officially start classes at Covenant Theological Seminary. I plan to complete a Master of Divinity over the next four years, and then probably either return to Spain, or go to some other country in need of the Christian message, this time with the goal of planting churches. But I am excited for four years of theological education, life experience, and relationship with God to refine or confirm that initial goal.
Even as I begin this next stage, I want to thank each and every one of you one last time for your faithful support – financial, in prayer, and in friendly concern. Two years of college ministry in Spain, along with thousands and thousands of Spanish students hearing about the offer of relationship with God, would quite literally not have been possible without you. So I give you my sincere thanks. These two years have also been instrumental in my life as a chance to grow closer to God and to “test the waters” of overseas mission work. I love it, it seems to be a wonderful fit for me, and I would like overseas missions to be my life work. But may the Lord’s will be done. I mean that.
It would be fitting, wouldn’t it, to close with one last 30-second Power Prayer? Thanks again, really, and may God bless you all!


Ryan Johnson

Lord God, we pray that many college students in Madrid would come to really know You, as well as many more people the world over, for the first time, or in a deeper way. In the name of Jesus, and for His glory, AMEN!


Theology of God

For those of you not participating in my CPU course on Wednesday nights, I thought I’d give you a sample of what we are discussing each week in Systematic Theology.

Last night’s topic was “How Do I know that God Exists?” Our discussion was broken down into four segments:

Part One: Humanity’s Inner Sense of God
Part Two: Believing the Evidence of Scripture & Nature
Part Three: Traditional “Proofs” for the Existence of God
Part Four: One Final Argument

The One Final Argument section is based on two great facts. One: God is found when we seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Two: God must be accepted by faith (Hebrews 11:6).

While preparing last night’s study I landed on an interesting survey about God.

Terri Jo Ryan staff writer for the Tribune-Herald writes, “We may be ‘one nation, under God’ but Americans actually worship at least four versions of the Lord, according to the Baylor Religion Survey released today.”

American Piety in the 21st Century: New Insights into the Depth and Complexity of Religion in the United States, conducted by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, leveled more than two dozen questions about God’s character and behavior at 1,721 Americans nationwide.

Americans perceived of God in one of four ways:

Authoritarian God (31.4%): Individuals who follow this model feel God is highly involved in their personal lives and world affairs, they give the Deity credit for their decision-making, and they feel God is angry and meting out punishment to the wicked.

Benevolent God (23%): These believers also think God is very active in their daily life, just not as wrathful. They believe benevolent God is mostly a force for positive influence in the world, and reluctant to condemn individuals.

Critical God (16%): The faithful of this subset believe God is not meddling in world affairs but is nonetheless looking on in disapproval. These people tend to believe that God’s displeasure will be felt in another life, and that divine justice is not of this world.

Distant God (24.4%): Individuals in this group think that Distant God is not active in humanities affairs, and is not especially angry, either. Believers consider the Deity more of a cosmic force who sets the laws of nature into motion.

“Which of the God models you follow is an accurate predictor of a number of factors, including race, political stances, even where you live,” said Paul Froese, a Baylor sociologist who worked on the BISR project headed by Rodney Stark and Byron Johnson.

What is your view of God?

I believe the Bible provides four fundamental truths about God.

1. He is a PERSONAL God: God is not an ideal or a philosophy of life or a metaphysical principle; He is a personal and spiritual Being who seeks a personal relationship with man.

But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
Psalm 34:14

2. He is a TRANSCENDANT God. When we worship we do not worship an equal; we worship our creator, the eternal, infinite God.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Isaiah 6:1-5

3. He is an EMMANENT God: God is constantly present in the life of man. As Giver of life, He is also the Sustainer of life. In numerous ways God makes Himself known to man.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

4. He is a TRUSTWORTHY God. Man is never disappointed when he lifts his voice to God in praise or in petition.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5b


9/11: Are You Ready?

Wow, What a Sunday!
Just when you think it cannot get any better than what it already is at CrossPoint, God stirs us and does something new. Wow, worship last weekend was incredible.

I commend Bryan Haskins, the choir, praise band and media team for making the day so worshipful. The choir singing its first Sunday with Bryan was a fitting end to our series on worship.

Bryan’s impact on CrossPoint is already widespread. I am thankful for his sensitivity and flexibility. You may not see it like I do, but Bryan truly follows the Spirit’s leading, and that understanding is making a major impact in our worship. His understanding is also influencing my preaching.

I hope you know more about worship today than you did six weeks ago. Remember, “worship is the believer’s adoring response of all that he is—mind, emotions, will and body – to all that God is and says and does” (Warren Wiersbe).

5K Training
Where are you on your 5K training? I hear some of you have made so much progress that you have abandoned the walk/run plan we gave you a few weeks ago and are now running a full 5K each day. That is great!

I know my training schedule has intensified dramatically in the last three weeks. Beginning each day with a regimented exercise routine in addition to time alone worshipping the Lord is a great recipe for a meaningful day. I challenge you to begin your day with exercise and time alone with the Lord. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.

911—Are You Ready?
Do you remember where you were five years ago today?

I remember well where I was and what I was doing. I was leading a summer revival at Providence Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I had just returned from my morning run when Vonda called. She asked me if I was watching the news. Within a few seconds of turning on the television, I witnessed the second plane crashing into the other World Trade Center tower.

Vonda and I remained on the phone with one another for at least an hour. Like you, we watched the horrific events unfold, wondering what was going on.

I remember Vonda asking me if this was the end of time and if I should return home. My response was abrupt. I said, “If it is the end of time me driving home will not really matter. I will just see you in heaven.”

You do know that the return of Christ will be a dramatic and unexpected event, don’t you? Jesus said of His return,

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Matthew 24:42-44

If the memorial events of today remind me of anything, they remind me to be ready for Christ’s return. Are you ready?