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I know it’s been a while since I last wrote here on my blog, and for that I apologize. So much has been going on in my life and the life of my family over the past few weeks that I honestly haven’t been in the frame of mind to post. I have so much to share with everyone and simply don’t know how or how much.
That said though, I just couldn’t pass up posting on this day of Thanksgiving. There has been so much in my life and the life of my family that I can say I’ve been thankful for over this past year, but in light of rather recent events I have to say that I have found a heartfelt thankfulness for things that for too long I took for granted.  Here’s just a few of the things I’m thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day.
 
I’m thankful for the job I have and that we didn’t go out on strike. Thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to build relationships with many that I’ve worked with over these past eighteen years.
 
I’m thankful for my wife and children. Thankful for their love for others as well as for each other.
 
I’m thankful for my friends, both those face to face as well as those forged online. Thankful that the walls of separation by distance have been breached in so many ways to allow the true bonding that it takes for real friendships to be built and sustained.
 
Most of all, I’m eternally thankful for the greatest gift the human race has ever known, the gift of salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus. Thankful that a life like mine, a life that was bound by the chains of sin and rebellion against God could matter so much to Him that He would Love me even then and make a way for the gap between His Holiness and my sinfulness to be bridged so that I could enter into relationship with Him.
 
These are just a very few of the things I find myself thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, 2009.
I’d love to hear what your thankful for. Please share at least one thing that you feel thanks for today.
 
A while back I read a blog that really got me thinking about the different styles of worship in a service within the Church. I found myself not arguing with the author’s premise of what the big “C” Church needs to do to bring the people into an atmosphere of worship but more about the how’s of bringing that worship about.
The reason is this, I believe with all my heart, it’s not about lights, music, or style. Doesn’t matter if you have plasma screens or overhead projectors. Doesn’t matter if the building seats 25 people hands-worshipingor 25 thousand people, and it doesn’t matter if your band has electric guitars or drums or strobes or even a 70 year old saint with an out-of-tune piano to worship Christ.
 
I’ve both worshiped God through music as well as through silence. Through the heart pounding loudness of a Thousand Foot Krutch song and through the sweet softness of Amazing Grace sang acapella. Through dancing before Him and through falling on my face from the shear weight of His presence.
The only thing that really matters is that every time the doors open the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented in a very real passionate way, in order to reach the lost for the Kingdom of God. This is just as much worship to, for, and of God as any song, setting, or style can bring me into.
This I believe, with all I am, that it’s all about His name and not ours, His leading and not our agenda.
 
With that said I can’t help my curiosity, so for today’s Fill in the Blank Friday. I’d like to ask you what type of worship experience do you prefer and why?
 
I prefer __________ style of worship because __________.
Church
 
Person, Place, or Thing.
 
This past week I had two separate conversations about this thing called church. One with a coworker here in Arizona. The other with a friend who lives in the Middle East. The conversation with my coworker was about church, him possibly attending and what church is. This coworker stated “There are so many ones to choose from and they’re all different, how can you know it’s the right one? That the one you attend is teaching the right thing?”
It got me thinking about the church I partner with as well as my co-worker and so many others. We are in a Western Culture with a Western Mindset, where the church is a place we go, place we spend an hour a week, a place where you just check your God box and then go about your business. For us in the West, the church has become a building, a denomination, ours verses yours. First Baptist, Presbyterian, Phoenix First Assembly, Healing Place, LifeChurch.TV, even NewSpring Church. Is that all church is? A Place?
 
In talking with my friend in the Middle East I got a different perspective. We discussed ‘church’ and in his perspective we are heroes. He was brought up where church isn’t a place but a thing. A place where church isn’t welcomed with opened arms. It’s not that they don’t congregate in one place, it’s that people in his country view church as a thing, a movement that sprouted from the West. Where its soul purpose is to dominate and reign. A movement that attempts to infiltrate government. A movement that attempts to cause division within families by setting one family member against another. It’s a mindset of church being a movement that causes so many to reject it’s principles. Personally, when I read scripture, and I read about what church is intended to be I don’t see it as a place, its not described that way, nor as a movement, its not described that way either.
 
I see church as a people. In fact when you see church in scripture, the Greek word used is Ecclesia, it simply means called out ones, not called into, not called for. But simply called out. See, the scriptures say the church is a people that sometimes congregate together for fellowship, to lift each other up as a community of believers, a people that can create change in government, in family, but not by their own movement, but by the spirit of God. To live as a fully devoted follower of Christ.
 
I submit to you that the church wasn’t created for us, but as followers of Jesus we are the church created for the world, not as a place, not as a thing, but as a people. A people that doesn’t seek their own agenda, but instead the agenda of God. His purpose, His will, His passion, His desire. I believe the church according to scripture is depicted as the bride of Christ.
Now if the church was simply a place then admittingly it would seem as if she were riddled with bipolar multiple personality disorder schizophrenia. Is that the bride that the very son of God is looking to wed?
Now if the church is simply a movement then would Jesus be wanting a bride that shifts her option at her whim, as she sees fit, no matter others perspective, feelings or thoughts. Would He want a runaway bride? Would you?
 
Now if the church were a people that came together with one mind, in one accord, fully devoted to Christ in passionate Love, with nothing around them but Him. A people that not only believed, but knew that He knows them intimately, all their past, all their present, their passion, their desire, their hopes and hurts. That He knows how many times they have fallen short and how many times He has forgiven them completely. A people set apart to be His Ecclesia, to be the bride of Christ.
 
So for me the church…. Person? Place? Thing?
YES! A people called out, set apart that at times come together in a place whether that place be called LifeChurch East Valley, Chase Field, or Phoenix International Raceway. A people called out, for a movement, not of their own design nor desire, but one initiated and motivated by God, for God, through God. To create the radiant Bride of Christ.
Person, Place, or Thing. Share your thoughts. You have mine.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a sports fan for as long as I can remember, enjoying everything from baseball to boxing, so for today’s “fill in the blank Friday” post I’d like to get to know my readers a little bit better by talking a little sports shop about yours and my favorite sports team(s).
Just to let you know what a sports nut I am, here is a list of the teams that I love to watch as a fan.

 
1: Baseball – I’m a die hard Atlanta Braves fan. Have been since before the Dale Murphy days when they couldn’t see the top of the cellar for being so far down. (No “hitch a ride on the 90’s band wagon” for this boy)
 
2: Basketball – Not a big follower until playoff season starts, but come on, who doesn’t love my Phoenix Suns 🙂
 
3: Pro Football – As a kid I was a Dallas Cowboy fan (like by growing up in Northeast Texas I had a choice), but after Roger Staubach retired I switched teams and have been a Saints fan ever since. Now I know what your thinking (Ooo look, it’s the “Ain’ts”) but every team needs at least one fan, and I’m theirs.
 
4: Hockey – Ok, being the redneck that I am I know I’m gonna get some flack for this one, but I promise this is the only team I like North of the Mason Dixon line. After all, we all know that Hockey was never created to be a Southern sport. Nevertheless, I am a die hard New York Rangers fan. No matter how much geritol they have to take before hitting the ice, they rule!
 
5: Collage Football – Many of you know this already, but for those that don’t, let there be no mistake about my loyalty to the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’ve been a fan ever since the late 70’s when the greatest football artist to hold a coaching position ever walked the field, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. So for all you haters out there I got just two words for ya…ROLL TIDE!!
 
6: Last, but not least I’m a fan of the greatest endurance sport ever conceived in the mind of a redneck. You guessed it, Nascar baby! Stick me in the 24 car and let me run a lap for the boy’s at Hendrick Motorsports and I’ll die with a grin on my face. Now I know, some of ya’ll are thinking right now, “but John, why in the world would you think of Nascar as a sport, much less the ultimate endurance sport?” Well, the answers quite simple really. It’s because Baseball, Basketball, and Football only takes one ball. Rubbings racing! 🙂
 
Now how about you guy’s?
I am a fan of ____________ (sport(s)) and ____________ (team(s)) within that sport.

 

Having spent the much of the past two days at http://www.catalystbackstage.com  it’s really gotten me thinking about leadership qualities. We all have leaders that we really admire and some that we just don’t care for at all, and I’ve found that the traits for each are common across the board whether they be leaders in nonprofit or for profit, the Church or corporations.
 
From everyone I’ve talked to over the past couple of days it’s become very obvious to me that we all know leaders that have traits that are admired and traits that are disliked, sometimes even despised.
 
For today’s “Fill in the blank Friday” question I’d like to hear from you all about is, what is the trait that you admire most in a leader __________, and what is the trait you dislike most in a leader _________.
hotairballoon
 
Picture this- A family is driving down a road with their two children in the back seat when they pass a building with one of those big advertisement blowups in the shape of a hot air balloon. The following conversation commences in the back of the car:
 
Youngest: Hey look it’s a hot air balloon.
Oldest: No its just an air balloon.
This goes on and escalates into an argument…until-
Parent: You’re both right, ya know. Yes, it’s an air balloon but…. It’s in the shape of a hot air balloon.
Oldest: It would be a true hot air balloon if it had a basket on it, huh?
Youngest: What does a basket have to do with anything?
Parent: Well, the basket is to carry people, that’s the purpose of a hot air balloon. Without the basket it wouldn’t be doing its job, what it was designed for, thus just being an air balloon.
 
How many of us are walking air balloons, lacking the proper equipment to carry others to the foot of the cross of Christ and transport them to a relationship with a loving and saving God? Rather than continuing in the impotence of hiding behind the “Christian” badge, what do we lack in becoming the hot air balloon, the fully devoted follower of Christ.

 

Deep Breath

We find ourselves struggling to catch our breath, realizing we can’t stay afloat on our own, we need help.
How do we find it? Is it through worshiping, reading the Bible, praying/praying with others, or hearing Gods word a different way? Maybe it’s something completely different and not even listed.
So today’s “Fill in the blank Friday” is about the breath of life. How do you fill your spiritual lungs?
 
I catch my “breath of life” through __________.