Archive for October, 2006


What a Weekend!

How do we measure the effectiveness of last weekend’s events on the CrossPoint campus? This Monday morning I sit in awe of what God accomplished, and I am still trying to place some type of measurement on the results.

The weekend began with our Fifth Annual CrossPoint 5k. Two hundred and three participants ran in the 5K race and one-mile-fun-run. As a result, we came very close to raising enough money for the CrossPoint Foundation to purchase a refrigerated truck for Pastor Roland Walker as he continues to serve food to the many homeless people of the Birmingham Metropolitan Area.

As if Saturday’s events were not enough, Sunday was over the top. The worship Sunday morning was remarkable. Of course, that is nothing new. CrossPoint’s worship is extraordinary every Lord’s Day. Yet it seemed Sunday’s worship was overflowing with extra promise yesterday.

Then we ended the day with literally thousands of people participating in our Fall Festival. The crowd was so large we ran out of food. The overflow parking on the Clearbranch Campus saved the day. Thank goodness, we did not run out of candy!

Seriously, for those of you who experienced one, two or all three of the aforementioned events, how do you measure the outcome?

I would like for you to respond today’s blog by sharing your thoughts about the weekend. Share your JUST ONE MORE story. How do you think we can measure our effectiveness? I want your perspective about the weekend through your eyes or through the eyes of someone you met.

Added at 9:23AM Oct 23: If you have any photos from any of the forementioned events of this weekend, please send them to I would like to add them to the blog. I would be especially interested in pics of the 5k run(that’s if cameras work in the cold!!)
Thanks, Vaughn

Worshipping the Wrong gods

I have a very special friend who lives in Hong Kong. His name is Harry Lucenay, and he is the pastor of Kowloon International Baptist Church.

Harry and I have been friends for more than 20 years. Actually, I first met Dr. Lucenay when he served as my brother’s pastor back in the late 1970s, while Rhett attended college at the University of Southern Mississippi.

When I entered the ministry, Dr. Lucenay and the fine people of Temple Baptist Church of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, allowed me to serve as their Student Minister. It was my joy to have one of Harry’s children, involved in that ministry. Today, his son Jonathan and my son, Taylor, are now good friends thanks to us keeping in touch with one another.
Harry Lucenay was very instrumental in my formative years of ministry. He helped shape much of my belief and practice as a pastor. He still offers wise counsel to me, even from the other side of the world.

Each week I receive an update from Harry pertaining to his ministry in Asia. The articles he sends are always intriguing. This particular week I received an email post that startled me. I share it with you, trusting it has the same effect.

Harry writes,

“Some times you hear a word about a believer that makes you wonder what is going on in his/her mind. A man whose mother is in the final stages of her battle with cancer did not want to allow anyone to share the gospel with his mom. Why? He didn’t want her to feel bad for spending her life worshiping the wrong gods.”

Does that response stir you? It should.

Imagine not wanting your family member to hear the gospel because it might make them “feel bad.” I pray I never get so used to the gospel that I am not willing to make someone feel bad or to offend them so they can have the opportunity to be born again.


You got it Right!

Last Monday, Thomas Smith called to ask me if I would conduct his father’s funeral. His father, Ron Smith, ended a four year battle with Alzheimer’s last Sunday morning. Ron Smith died about the time his son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Rhonda Smith, were exiting the third worship celebration at CrossPoint. Of course I said yes to his request.

While committing to conduct the service I asked Thomas if his father was a born again believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Thomas assured me his father was born again. As you might expect, knowing whether or not someone is a Christian has a tremendous impact on how you handle a funeral. Thankfully, we were able to celebrate Ron’s life here on earth, knowing that he was already enjoying eternal life in heaven.

My purpose for writing about the funeral is to tell you what happened at the graveside. To tell you what happened at the graveside, however, I must provide for you what I said in the chapel service.

When Thomas asked me to preach his father’s funeral I knew immediately what message I would preach. It is a message I have preached on numerous occasions, and it just seemed to fit the Smith’s family need at the time. The message is entitled, “How to Cope with the Death of a Loved One.” The theme of the message is basic: instead of asking WHY someone has died, as believers and followers we would be better equipped to ask HOW to cope with their death.

The message is simple. There are five major points:

1. We answer the question HOW by TALKING.

In Psalm 42:5, the writer makes this honest observation:

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5

The psalmist admitted to having a downcast soul. We can learn from the psalmist that talking about our grief is a great way to deal with our grief.

2. We answer the question HOW by LAUGHING.

I know this may sound foreign, especially at a funeral, but I encourage you to find something you can laugh about with your family; especially, when that laughter includes something about your loved one.

The Bible says this about a cheerful heart:

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

3. We answer the question HOW by CRYING.

When Jesus learned of Lazarus’ death the Scripture provides this consequential commentary: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). It is a powerful notion to realize the Son of the Living God expressed emotion during the death of a loved one.

Tears serve a very real purpose. Someone has aptly said the purpose of tears is to “drain the pain.”

4. We answer the question HOW by REMEMBERING.

When Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, he voiced a very meaningful prayer. He said, “Remember me with favor, O my God, for all I have done for these people” (5:19).

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them. May I encourage you to remember all the good you shared with your loved one.

5. We answer the question HOW by TRUSTING.

Talking is a beneficial way to cope with your loss. Laughing, crying and remembering are also trustworthy ways to cope with your grief. However, it is by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ we learn to cope with the death of a loved.

On the night of His arrest, Jesus shared these words with His disciples:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled…We have a choice; we can choose to let our hearts be troubled or we can choose not to let our hearts be trouble. Trouble hearts are the result of the choice we made to be troubled.

Trust in God; trust also in me… By trusting in Jesus Christ, our hearts do not have to be trouble.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:1-6

What Jesus said in response to Thomas’ inquiry is remarkable. For a man to make such a claim means he must either be a liar, a lunatic or Lord. The Bible teaches that Jesus was not a liar or a lunatic, but that He is Lord. I believe history will also reveal the Lordship of Christ.

When Jesus said “I am the way” He meant there is only ONE WAY to God, and that is through Him.

When Jesus said “I am the truth” He meant there is only ONE TRUTH to live by, and is that is through the Word of God.

When Jesus said “I am the life” He meant there is only ONE LIFE to live, and that is an abundant and eternal life Him.

Two Old Testament passages remind us of how we should TRUST in the Lord.

First, Psalm 91:1&2 reads,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge
and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Next, Proverbs 18:10 reads,

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.

Again, talking is good. Laughing is helpful. Crying will relieve the pain. Remembering is beneficial. But best of all, for our times of great grief and sorrow, trusting in Jesus Christ is the best and only way to cope with the death of a loved one.

I concluded my message by offering the audience the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior by repenting of their sins and by placing their total faith in Him to save them.

After leading the crowd in a time of prayer, I asked those who may have responded to inform Thomas’ mother, Joyce, that they accepted Christ on the day her husband’s funeral.

Now I bring us back to the moment a stranger spoke to me at the graveside. I concluded the service, and the military provided Mrs. Smith her tightly folded flag, honoring her husband’s service to our country. I am walking to my car when an elderly man approaches me and says, “Sir, I need to see you.” “Sure, what kind I do for you?” I reply.

“You got it right,” he says. “You got it right. I am born-again, and Jesus is the only way to heaven. There is no other way. Thank you for your message, because you got it right.”That was all he said. He shook my hand and then walked off.

Wow, what a testimony. I was so excited to hear of this man’s faith in Christ. He was proud, and so he should be. I was proud for him. It was a great conclusion to a special service.

I do not know if anyone received Christ that day. But this I do know: the gospel was presented and those in attendance were given the opportunity to repent and believe. One man took the time to tell me his testimony. I know others present had a testimony to share. My prayer is that someone will some day let Mrs. Smith know they were born again on the day her husband’s body was laid to rest.

Why Do You Tithe?

Did you see Greg Garrison’s Special Report: Church Inc., in the Sunday Edition of the Birmingham News? In series of related articles, Garrison tries to tackle the subject of stewardship in today’s church. I thought the report was an interesting read. Garrison made some good points. Perhaps his loudest point was that there are many Birmingham area churches contributing a large amount of money to the kingdom of God.

While reading the report did you happen to examine closely the photo on the front page?

The caption beneath the photo read,

“Associate Minister March Whitman III and choir members at Word of Life Christian Center read from the large screens and recite together their beliefs about tithing before taking up an offering.”

If you looked close enough you could the following words on the large screen of the worship center:

“As I tithe and give offerings I am believing the Lord for:

  • Jobs and better jobs
  • Raises and bonuses
  • Benefits
  • Sales and commissions
  • Favorable settlements
  • Estates and inheritances”

What do you think about that statement? Do you agree or do you disagree with their belief?

Let’s take the questioning a bit deeper. Instead of asking whether or not you agree with Word of Life’s philosophy, let’s ask “what is your belief about tithing?” Why do you tithe? Why do you give to the kingdom of God? Why do so many of you give above and beyond your tithe to the kingdom through the community faith known as CrossPoint?

The purpose of today’s blog is NOT to challenge Word of Life’s perspective about tithing. Let me repeat that sentence again with bold, italicised words so there will be no misunderstanding: The purpose of today’s blog is NOT to challenge the Word of Life perspective about tithing. Word of Life is an autonomous body of Christ, who can promote, teach and proclaim whatever message they desire. Their philosophy of ministry is not up for debate. Actually, the reason I highlight Word of Life’s viewpoint about tithing is that it caused me to critically ask myself why I tithe, why I give above and beyond my tithe, and why I challenge my children to follow my example.

After spending two days thinking and praying about why I tithe, I have settled on the following answer:

I tithe because the Lord commanded it.

I know that may sound archaic. It may even sound a bit Pharisaic. For some, my answer may not ring with enough entrepreneurial tone. Yet after thinking about it seriously I have settled on one singular and explicit reason for tithing—God commanded me to do so.
Another way to make the same point is to say, “I tithe no matter what the result of my tithe may be.” My economic status does not influence my desire to give. My parents taught me to give regardless what kind of money I make or do not make. And, I am trying to teach my children to do the same. Additionally, I tithe not expecting anything in return, because God has already made me rich by meeting all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Sure there have been times when I have given and God has returned that tithe to me many times over. There have also been times when I have given and it seems the windows of heaven were sealed shut. Whether or not God returns my tithe to me in blessings or bonuses or raises is not the motivation for my giving. I give because God commands that I give. I give because God gave to me first. I give as an expression of my gratitude for the many ways God meets all of my needs.

Here is a great question for you to respond to—why do you tithe?


What Do You Want?

During my time alone with the Lord this morning I started wrestling with the proverbial question: what do I want? For some reason the Lord turned my mind toward meditating on the one thing I wanted more than anything else. As soon as the Lord planted that single question in my mind, the inquiry dominated my thinking the remainder of the morning.

If you were asked to answer that question, how would you respond? What one thing do you want? What is the one thing you want more than anything else?

While wrestling with that query, I recalled three people, with three different answers.
The first person I remembered was Solomon. Many of you will recall his exchange in the Bible where the Lord asked him what he wanted. The Bible records the following words:

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
2 Chronicles 1:7

Do you remember how Solomon responded?

The Bible adds:

Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
2 Chronicles 2:8-10

God asked Solomon what he wanted, and Solomon requested wisdom and knowledge to lead His people.

If God were to ask you, what is the one thing you want, what would you request?

While in seminary I posed a similar question to several of my friends. I asked them why they were in seminary and what they wanted most out of the seminary experience. Many responded by saying they were in seminary to learn more about ministry, and that they wanted to learn how to preach. A few said they were in seminary to learn more about the Bible, so they could help people do the same thing. A friend who got a late start in his call to ministry surprised me with his answer. My fifty year old comrade in the ministry said he was in seminary to get closer to God than he had ever been before. The Lord brought his response to mind this morning while I was wrestling with the question, what do I want?

What do you want? What is it that you want more than anything else?

The third person I thought about was Paul, when he said what he wanted in the following passage:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

More than anything else, Paul said he wanted to know Christ.

What do you want? What is the one thing you want more than anything else? If God were to grant the answer to a single prayer, what would that prayer be? What do you want above all other wants?

Take a few minutes today to think about what you want. Your initial answer may surprise you; that is, if you are honest. Your answer to that question may also change the more you ask it. I know the more I asked myself that question, the more my answer changed. I have even started thinking about what I do not want in order to determine what I do want. So, I ask you one more time: what do you want?


CrossPoint Kids – That’s Life: Pumpkin Patch!

I love it when I hear of a CrossPointer sharing their faith. What makes the ensuing story even so unique is that it involves two of our own CrossPoint kids—Megan Barrett (Jonathan and Jenny’s daughter) and Chloe Dunn (Lonnie and Cassandra’s daughter).

As you will see when you click the following link below, both girls were able to share their faith in Christ on a level anyone can understand—that of a child’s level.

Megan and Chloe are both on our A team. They figured out life, and they figured it out at such an early age. That shows that you can never start too early in a child’s life telling them about Christ. When a child learns about Christ, they are not ashamed to tell anyone about Him. Perhaps that is why Christ said,

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14

Additionally Jesus said,

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:2-4

Jonathan and Jenny, Lonnie and Cassandra, we are proud of you. You are doing a great job. Keep pointing your children to Christ. It is apparent they already believe in and about Christ. We pray someday they repent of their sin and put their faith in Him as their Lord and Savior.

100th Entry—Top Five Blogs

My trustworthy and capable blog manager, Vaughn Harris, tells me this is my 100th blog. That may not mean much to you, but it is a major milestone for Vaughn and me.

I remember the Sunday he approached me about writing a blog. It was something I already had in the back of mind, wondering what it would take to make it happen. When he said he could piece it together and manage it, I said, “Let’s do it.”

Blogs are interesting tools of technology. The purpose of a blog is to solicit feedback and conversation. Some have called blogs modern day town squares. Looking at, I guess we could say it is CrossPoint’s town square.

I enjoy writing my blog each morning. Some mornings the thoughts come to me instantly. Other mornings the blogs are more laborious. That is when I have to dig, read and think about what I am going to write.

I trust you are enjoying my daily entry. Some days I try to be thought-provoking. On other days my attempts at writing are less serious. While most of the time I am somewhere in between earnest and funny. Whichever the case, I trust it helps you in your faith.

If I had to pick my top five blogs out of the last 100, I would list them accordingly:

#5 Parenting that Matters — August 11
#4 Don’t Waste Your Cancer — May 14
#3 Five Essentials of the Gospel — April 29
#2 Strongest Dad in the World — September 7
#1 What Makes a Great Worship Leader — May 31

I would be curious to hear which blogs you would select as your favorite. I would also like to hear what subjects you would like for me to address in future blogs.
In conclusion, I would like to publicly commend Vaughn Harris for his initiative and effort. Without Vaughn this blog would not exist. He gives me ideas (like this 100th blog entry), he motivates me, he encourages me, and most of all he governs the content and use of this amazing tool. Thank you, Vaughn for your ministry and friendship. You are a keeper!