Archive for January, 2007

31
Jan
07

Keep Your Eyes on our Shepherd

Whenever my phone rings late at night or very early in the morning, I know the person on the other end is usually not just calling to chat. That was the case Sunday morning, January 21. Thankfully, I was already awake and dressed for the day. I was about an hour or so into my Sunday morning routine when the ring of the phone startled me. The person on the other end of the line was my mother.

When I heard mom’s voice I immediately guessed why she was calling. I assumed the news had to do with My Aunt Cile who lived in Knoxville, Tennessee. She had been in the hospital since two days after Christmas battling cancer. My assumption was correct. Mom shared with me that at 5:00 AM Aunt Cile went home to be with the Lord.
Aunt Cile was a special woman in many, many ways. Proverbs 17:22 best describes her—a cheerful heart is good medicine. Aunt Cile was always cheerful, and she made everyone around her cheerful with her zest for life. As I said at her funeral, she had the uncanny ability to live until she died.

An example of her living until she died occurred the very weekend she went home to be with the Lord, and with her loving husband, Uncle Jack—mom’s brother. On Friday Aunt Cile requested one of her daughter’s call her beautician to come to the hospital to cut and curl her hair. On Saturday, she requested her manicurist to make a visit. And, the next morning Aunt Cile breathed her last breath.

I told that story at the close of her funeral service, illustrating how Aunt Cile was prepared to die. To verify how prepared she was to die she even purchased the bottle of nail polish—which she never did—so her girls would have the right color to paint her one unpainted nail that was being used to monitor her blood-oxygen levels. That’s what I call planning ahead.

Preaching a family members funeral is tough business for a tender soul like me. Four years ago one of my brothers asked me how I was able to conduct Uncle Jack’s funeral without falling apart. Before I could answer, one of my favorite cousins interjected, “He didn’t do it; the Holy Spirit did it through him.” My cousin Mark was correct. Last weekend the Holy Spirit empowered me once again.
Before concluding the service I shared one other story I discovered from my reading:

In his book, A Turtle on the Fencepost, Allen C. Emery tells of a night he spent on the Texas plains with a shepherd who was keeping two thousand sheep. The shepherd prepared a bonfire for cooking supper and providing warmth. The sheep dogs lay down near the fire as the stars filled the sky.

Suddenly Emery heard the unmistakable wail of a coyote with an answering call from the other side of the range. The dogs weren’t patrolling at the moment, and the coyotes seemed to know it. Rising quickly, the shepherd tossed some logs on the fire; and in this light, Emery looked out at the sheep and saw thousands of little lights.

Emery writes, “I realized that these were reflections of the fire in the eyes of the sheep. In the midst of danger, the sheep were not looking out into the darkness, but were keeping their eyes set toward the shepherd.”

To trust in the Lord is to keep our eyes on our Shepherd, to be always looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. As each of you face the sorrow and grief of losing Aunt Cile, may we be reminded to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Wow, that’s good stuff. That is a huge reminder, isn’t it? When grief comes, and it will come, keep your eyes on our Shepherd.

29
Jan
07

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

The first journal entry of my morning included the following:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Poor in spirit escribes my true condition before God. I am spiritually bankrupt without Christ. That means I am nothing, I have nothing and I can do nothing apart from the grace of God through Jesus Christ.”

I implore you to keep Matthew 5:3 on the tip of your tongue, the front of your brain and at the core of your heart this week. I want the CrossPoint family of faith to embody all eight of the core traits Jesus preached about in the preamble to his message we call “The Sermon on the Mount.”

Next week we will add Matthew 5:4—blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted—to our list. Until then, let’s keep working on the “poor in spirit” part of our disposition as disciples.
And how do we develop a spirit of poverty? Martin Lloyd-Jones says, “To develop a spirit of poverty look at God.” That’s good instruction. The more we exalt God in our lives, the less we will think of ourselves. Remember, he must increase, so that we will decrease.

While reading through the Bible this week look for ways God is exalted. When you find those examples, use them in your personal communication time with Him.

Just for Fun!

I believe the coldest place in Birmingham is the Sam’s parking lot overlooking Trussville. Every time I fill my Expedition with gas at Sam’s I nearly freeze to death.Can anyone think of a colder place in our city? Let me know if you agree or disagree. If you disagree, then tell me of a place that you think is colder.
26
Jan
07

Gradual Adaptation

I’ve got my longest run yet of my 18-week marathon training plan. Today I must run 19 miles. I am super charged. Last night I loaded up on the carbs. This morning I woke up extra early so I can get a good part of my run completed before the sun rises. There is just something about watching the sun rise in the middle of a long run. I am also charged because I plan to run two ten-mile loops, which equals twenty miles. My thinking is simple: why run 19 when you can run 20?

Running a marathon is not as difficult as it sounds. In order to run one you must practice a physiology principle called Gradual Adaptation. Let me paint you a picture.

Suppose you were overweight and out of shape, and someone challenged you to run a 5K (3.2 miles) in 30 minutes.

Chances are you would fail miserably. Most people would not be able to run for more than 60 seconds without stopping to catch their breath. And, before the run concluded, some might stop altogether and admit they were out of shape and that they could never run that distance in the allotted time.

On the other hand, suppose your challenger gave you 10 weeks to train in order to run a 5K; that my friend would be another story. And that is where the Gradual Adaptation principle comes into play.

Gradual Adaptation is process by which you consistently and patiently build up toward your goal. What makes the gradual adaptation plan so successful is a series of steps which allow you to build on your progress.

To run 3.2 miles in 10 weeks you might use the following plan:

Week —— Days —— Run —— Walk —— Repeat

1 ———-5 days —- 1 min —– 5 min —– 5 times
2 ———-5 days —- 2 min —– 4 min —– 5 times
3 ———-5 days —- 3 min —– 3 min —– 5 times
4 ———-5 days —- 5 min —– 2.5 min — 4 times
5 ———-5 days —- 7 min —– 3 min —– 3 times
6 ———-5 days —- 8 min —– 2 min —– 3 times
7 ———-5 days —- 9 min —– 1 min —– 3 times
8 ———-4 days —- 13 min —- 2 min —– 2 times
9 ———-3 days —- 14 min —- 1 min —– 2 times
10 ———3 days —- 30 min —- none —– 1 time

I list that chart because I know of several CrossPointers who were able to complete last year’s Fifth Annual CrossPoint 5K in 30 minutes or less even though ten weeks prior to the race they were out of shape. That is proof that the Gradual Adaptation plan works.

The same principle can be applied to training for a marathon. The first week of your plan requires you to run a total of 21 miles. The third week it increases to 28 miles. The tenth week requires you to run 42 miles and so on, until you build your base up to a steady 45 or 50 miles. Then you taper down the mileage until race day. Ten weeks ago I would never dream of running 20 miles. Today I am pumped because I know I have built up my base to run that far.

Now let’s use the same principle to reading through the Bible. The Bible is an amazing book. It is a book like no other book. It contains 66 books. The 66 books of the Bible have 31,176 verses, 1,189 chapters which describe the life and times of more than 2,930 personalities. It is such a large book in both quantity and quality that many people shy away from reading it. “It is just too much to read,” they opine.
However, if you were to read a few chapters a day, say from a different book each morning, within 52 weeks you would read the entire Bible. The reason I read a small portion of Scripture each day is so that I can read through my Bible each year I live. And, as I have communicated before, the more I go through the Word of God the more the Word of God goes through me.

How are you doing with your daily Bible reading? If you are on pace, stay the course. If you are behind, get caught up this weekend. Whatever you are doing and wherever you are in your reading, put the Gradual Adaptation Principle into practice.

25
Jan
07

Connecting

When I open my Windows Internet Explorer a small icon pops up on my screen that spins in a clockwise manner. Beside the icon is the word “connecting”. Combined the icon and word tell me my computer is “connecting” to the World Wide Web. Within milliseconds the icon disappears as my homepage is displayed.

Each time I click my Internet Explorer button I am reminded what we are doing this year at CrossPoint—we are connecting.

The vision of CrossPoint is the most cogent vision I have ever read. It does not get much simpler than JUST ONE MORE. Our vision is so pristine we can illustrate it without saying a word. Can you think of a more lucid vision statement? I cannot.

Now that we have established the vision, it is time we establish the process by which we fulfill our vision. In case you have not seen it yet, the process by which CrossPoint reaches JUST ONE MORE to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ is a three step process:

First, we want JUST ONE MORE to connect with God through worship.

Next, we want JUST ONE MORE to connect with God in a Bible study group.

And finally, we want JUST ONE MORE to connect with God through identifying their ministry in the church and their mission in the world.

I was visiting with a new CrossPointer Monday night at a church league basketball game. She informed me that she and her husband joined CrossPoint for two reasons. One, they found a Bible study class they absolutely love. Then she added, “Wearing name tags make it so much easier to know every one in the class.” Then she said their second reason for joining was to so they could get involved in a particular area ministry.

I was impressed with her clarity. She had already figured out the CrossPoint process. The CrossPoint process is sequential. First, we connect with God. Then, we connect with God’s people. Next, we connect with God’s plan.

Yet that is not the final product. Like the spinning icon on my Windows Internet Explorer, we must keep moving in the process. After we reach the three connection points, we must reach out to JUST ONE MORE to help them make connect.

Have you connected yet? I am curious to hear where you think you are in the CrossPoint process. Give me your feedback.

24
Jan
07

Steve Hit the Big 5-0!

Our staff surprised Steve Parr with 50th birthday party this morning. Oh no, oh no, Steve hit the big 5-0! That is right, Steve Parr turns 50 today.
We started the day by greeting him at the main entrance with a cane and a wheelchair. Ginger, Tammy and Sharon distributed multi-colored footprints throughout the building. Each set of colored footprints provided Steve directions to the bathroom, his office, my office and the kitchen. Sharon also printed each staff member a new name tag with a large font so he could read them easily. The best item of the day was his name tag. It read, “My name is Steve Parr. If you find me wondering around aimlessly please call my wife, Anita at…”

During lunch we each gave him a special gift. You must ask him about some of those gifts. Then we enjoyed cake and ice cream. We had a ball, of course, at Steve’s expense. But as expected, he took each jab in his usual magnanimous manner.

Part of his birthday surprise included some trivia questions from 1957.
See how well you answer the questions I asked:

  • Who was President of the United States in 1957?
  • Who was Vice-President?
  • Who was the Governor of Alabama?
  • Who won the World Series?
  • Who won the NCAA Football Championship?
  • Who won the NCAA Basketball Championship?
  • What first-ever “family-oriented” television show premiered on CBS?
  • What device was invented to help heart patients?
  • The Russians introduced the Space Age with the launching of what rocket?
  • What was the cost of a first class stamp?
Here are your answers:
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Richard M. Nixon
  • James E. Folsom
  • Milwaukee Braves
  • Auburn Tigers
  • North Carolina Tar Heels
  • “Leave It to Beaver”
  • Pacemaker
  • Sputnik I
  • 3 cents

My, my time how times have changed!

When you see Steve Parr tomorrow night at CrossPoint, tell him happy birthday!

22
Jan
07

WOW!! What a Day!!

60 new members span the entire front of the CrossPoint worship center

Yesterday was a marquee day for CrossPoint. I am not sure we have ever had a day like that in our brief history.

It was very strong adding that many new members in one Sunday. It was a great way to begin our CONNECT series.

For review, let’s remember we want JUST ONE MORE to CONNECT

…with GOD through worship
…with GOD’S PEOPLE through Bible Study
…with GOD’S PLAN through doing the ministry and mission of the church

I know that bare numbers do not represent the measurement of our success. However, since numbers represent people, numbers do give us some kind of indication of our influence.

Take a look at some of the new member statistics from yesterday at CrossPoint:

Total # in worship: 1226

Total # in Bible Study: 820

Total # of new members added to our family: 60

Total# of new family units: 29

Total # of people in those family units: 74

There is more.

The incredible day was capped by Bryan surprising us with a new worship song he wrote for our CONNECT series:

Connect with God

I connect with God
And I connect with his people,
For it is the plan for man to spread
His mission through the world.

Lord we love you
We honor you
We adore you
And Worship you
Magnify your name
Let all the earth proclaim
That our God reigns forever more…..

I had a cousin from Nashville worship with us yesterday. She told my mother during lunch she had never experienced anything like what she did at CrossPoint. I agree. Neither have I.

We are, among churches, most blessed.

17
Jan
07

Lyric James Haskins: The Story Behind His Name

On November 1, 2006, Lyric James Haskins was born into our world. As many of you know, he arrived in rather dramatic fashion. For those of who do not know, allow me to explain part of his dramatic birth account.
Bryan Haskins was called to CrossPoint as our Worship Leader in June of last year. The same week we called Bryan, he and Charma discovered they were pregnant with their first child. June of 2006 will always be a memorable month for them as well as for CrossPoint.
Charma made it through the summer months of her pregnancy without any complications. Then, sometime in September – only 20 weeks into gestation – Charma went into labor. Charma’s OB GYN put her on 100% bed rest. A few days after going on bed rest, Charma had more complications. As a result, the doctors were forced to check Charma into the hospital for the remainder of her pregnancy.

I rushed to the hospital the day of this major crisis. I was in the hospital room when the OB GYN tried to gently, but matter-of-factly, let Bryan and Charma know that if the baby came anytime the next three or four weeks, there was virtually nothing she could do to save him.

Imagine the heartache Bryan and Charma were feeling when they heard that news. I was standing in the room with them, and my heart sank to my feet. While the doctor was explaining more bad news, I started praying. I asked the Lord to give me some Scripture to share. Before the doctor exited the room I had my Scripture. It was a passage I had been studying for several weeks as I was preparing for my series from the book of James.

The doctor left the room. Bryan and Charma were wiping away the tears. I think Lynn and Ginger Hayes were there in the room with me. If memory serves me correctly, my mother was there also. With the courage only the Lord can give, they looked to me for guidance and prayer. Before praying I reminded them of this singular promise:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Then we proceeded to pray. We know the Lord heard our prayer, for 10 weeks later Lyric James Haskins entered this world. Yes, he was a bit premature, but the doctors were confident he would make it.

The night of his birth Vonda and I rushed to Brookwood Hospital to meet the little fellow for the first time, and to congratulate mom and dad. It was that night at the hospital I learned the story behind his name.

The name Lyric was suggested by a band member Bryan has played with through the years. As soon as he heard Bryan and Charma were pregnant he said, “Bryan, since music is so much a part of your life, you should name your child Lyric.” Bryan tells me that Charma loved the idea of the name. So they decided very quickly his first name would be Lyric.

With his first name determined, what would they give him as a middle name?

Of course, I was pushing for Ryan. If truth be told I had a name early in the process that I thought would suit the young baby very well – Ryan Bryan. Then, as he grew older we could call him R.B. R.B. Haskins has a good ring to it, especially over a loud speaker system in some type of athletic competition. I suggested if they called him Ryan Bryan he could tell all his buds he was named after his pastor and his father, both ministers of the Gospel. For some reason, even after all my arm twisting, the name never stuck. Actually, it never gained any momentum. That’s okay I still have two or three namesakes running around CrossPoint. Let’s see there are Ryan Faith, Jonathan Ryan, and Ryan Taylor. And let’s not forget Christopher Ryan in Columbus, Georgia…okay, I will get off that kick.

Now back to his middle name.

The way Bryan tells me they determine to give him the middle name James has to do with the day they admitted Charma to the hospital. He said, “Soon after the doctor left the room, you quoted from James 1:12 about ‘Blessed is the man who perseveres’. When Charma and I thought of that moment, we decided he must carry the name James. We thought James would suit him well since so early in his life he learned how to persevere.”

I was reminded of this story the other night when I walked by my refrigerator, glancing once again at Lyric’s birth announcement. The top of the card reads, “Lyric James Haskins, November 1, 2006.” In the center of the card is a precious photo of him lying in his father’s hand. And inscribed at the bottom of the card is the James 1:12 passage.

And now you know the story behind his name.

Lyric James Haskins, like all the other CrossPoint babies, carries a name with meaning and purpose. Knowing all the talent Bryan and Charma possess, there is a real good possibility Lyric will be just as talented. And with the name James, we know he will persevere. He already has.

I rejoice in the arrival of Lyric James Haskins. His mother and father tell me the doctors want to keep him at home for a few more weeks. Hopefully his first Sunday at CrossPoint will be February 4, when we have a large family dedication celebration.