Has The Recession Already Ended?

Signs of the economy improving are all around. I read an article in Business Week Magazine about the positive things some companies are saying privately. Read that story HERE. Also, I understand Pepsi sales are up again. Prior to this people were drinking more water. (I guess one trade off for the economy improving is that we can hear again all the reports telling us that we need to drink more water.) That may be more significant than at first glance. Pepsi products are mostly an inexpensive “luxury” item. People don’t have to buy Pepsi. Are people starting to buy things again just because they want them? I seem to read encouraging articles about the economy everyday now.

With my background in business and having experienced stressful times with the economy myself, I frequently ask the business people in my church how things are going in their industry. In my own “research” lately I have heard a more pleasant tone from most of them and even a few enthusiastic replies. I hope this is a trend.

Since government economic numbers lag real time, we were technically in this current recession before we knew it. My prediction is that we will find months from now that the recession has already officially ended by this point and the recovery has slowly begun. I wish the national media would start to report all the upturn news more, besides just the stock market’s recent gain. (Keep in mind, unemployment may actually get worse before they get better, but all these other factors will increase first.)

The real key to economic recovery, however, will be the individual consumer’s response. People must feel better about things for their own situation. Are you personally starting to feel better about the economy?

Join Us At Rivers and Spires in Clarksville

riversandspireslogo-thumb-300x210This weekend the people of Grace Community Church are volunteering at Rivers and Spires Festival in downtown Clarksville.  Rivers and Spires is an award winning festival that attracts a large regional audience and is fast becoming one of the greatest events in Tennessee.  Grace is a corporate sponsor of the event and we supply volunteers to work the teen area.  We will have our own shirts and big smiles and interact with the crowds of individuals and families having a good time.

We do this event each year not to advertise the church.  We are not even trying to recruit people at this event.  Our only objective is to be a part of a very special event in our community.  That’s it.

We love our community. This community has blessed us as a church. What’s good for the community is good for our people and is ultimately good for us.  We view our investment in Clarksville as a way for us to give back, not to get back.

If you are in Clarksville or nearby this weekend, drop in and say hello.

Susan Boyle Video Continues to Inspire

(There used to be a video here, but it was disabled by the marketers who hope to make big money on Susan, but click HERE to see this video.)

Okay, apparently to be a successful blog these days you need to have this video on it.  It has been seen everywhere this week.  So here it is on mine.  You Tube has actually stopped the embedding ability with this videos, so look for these to disappear soon.  Susan Boyle will soon be a household name.  Hers will join the list of many others who instantly received fame thanks to the power of the Internet.

I love it though.  I actually read her story today. She had a dream, she worked for it, and she achieved it. This is a true picture of what determination and motivation can do for someone.  What I probably love more than anything was what I read recently, that Susan’s real dream was to show her mother that she could do something with her life.  Love it!

Do you have a dream?  Let Susan inspire you to go for it!

Are You Ready For The Economy To Improve?

There are signs of encouragement and life returning to the economy.  The unemployment rate is a factor that usually lags behind other indicators, so that’s still very discouraging, but there are hints of better days to come.  How should we react during the waiting times like this?  Let me offer a few suggestions:

  • Now is time to dream.
  • Now is the time to plan next steps.
  • Now may be the time to start adding strategic staff.
  • Now is certainly the time to be preparing for the economies return to strength.

As discouraged and stretched as your organization may have been in the last 12 months or so, the economy will recover and your organization needs to be prepared when it does. When people start spending money again they will want some new and exciting ideas to of where to spend it. They will be cautious and want value for their dollar, probably more than in recent years, but let’s not forget, most of our consumers will still be Americans, so they will want it NOW.

Will you be ready? What steps are you taking now to prepare for the recovery period?

(Also, this post sounds like it’s geared strictly for the business world, and I’m sometimes guilty of living in my past, but this principle works for churches and non-profits also.)

What Does The Obama Girls New Dog Have To Do With Easter?

portuguese-water-dog1The Obama’s have a new dog. The dog is a six-month-old Portuguese water dog, named Bo, given to Malia and Sasha Obama by the Edward Kennedy family.  (This picture is not the actual dog, but it is a Portuguse Water Dog.) Apparently the dog wasn’t working out at the previous owner’s home, so they thought to give it to the Obama family.  I’m happy for them, knowing the joy an animal can bring a household.  Read the full story HERE.

Having read this story for the first time on Easter Sunday, my initial thought was one of grace.  This dog will never fully understand the privilege of “growing up” in the White House.  Surely the “first dog” will receive pampering beyond what most pets ever experience.  The dog will have direct access to the most powerful family in the world.

It reminds me of the principle of Easter. Jesus gave away His life on the cross, and because of His favor upon us, we who believe are given a family seat in God’s family in spite of our sins. Christ bore the penalty for our sins and we are given direct access to the Throne of God and the Bible says we can call God our Abba (Daddy).

I wonder if we even come close to grasping what it means to be counted worthy of receiving His grace.   At least for today, however, I’m reminded that without Him I would be nothing.

It’s Saturday, but Sunday’s Coming!

easter

I didn’t feel great yesterday. My head was clouded with congestion. In fact, I was so “thick-headed” that at one point I ate lunch…twice. (That wasn’t so bad though.) This morning I woke up feeling like a train has run over me. I am pretty sure it’s allergies, because it happens every year about this time, but I feel awful. I have a funeral this afternoon, I need to look at my message again, and Cheryl looks forward to this day every week. It’s really the only day we have together each week. I surrounded myself with some Scriptures to pick up my spirits, took vitamins and cold medicine, and decided to make the most of the day.

Then it occurred to me. It’s Saturday. It’s not just any Saturday, but the day before Easter. In my profession, that’s pretty much the biggest day of the year. We have prepared so much for the 3 services at Grace Community Church tomorrow. (Come join us at 8:30, 10:00 or 11:30) Every Sunday is important, but this one represents the pinnacle of our faith. Satan wants to get me down today, but we serve a risen Savior! Our God lives, and because He lives I can face tomorrow. (I didn’t make up that last part. I heard it once before!)

I’m also reminded that one Saturday morning some 2,000 years ago, surely there was a group of mixed-up, hurting, confused, sickly, tired, afraid, and desperate people. They had placed all their hopes in a man who claimed to be the promised Messiah. They were there when their hope was nailed to a cross. They watched their mentor and friend die a cruel death. What would they do now? What was next?

Are you feeling hopeless, afraid, confused, sick, broken or desperate today?

It’s Saturday, but Sunday’s coming!

Daylight Makes Darkness Disappear

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5

My son’s headlight went out recently on his late 90’s Ford Ranger pickup.  I attempted to fix it one night and finally admitted defeat, convinced it was too difficult for me, a very non-mechanical person.  I had previously changed several headlights in various vehicles and didn’t think it was too challenging.  I even researched replacing them online.  Nothing helped.  I couldn’t figure out how to fix it on my own.

That is, until the morning came.  The night before it was dark.  I couldn’t see fully what I was doing. There was one bracket holding the light in place that when moved, made the headlight one of the easiest to change I have ever experienced.  I was driving his truck last week as he drove mine, so I was thankful for the headlight.

It was a great reminder to me, however, that things often look brighter in the morning.  I have had many sleepless, worried nights, only to find out the next day that my worst fears were exaggerated.  To carry the spiritual illustration even further, things look brighter when God sheds His light on the situation.

Are you going through a difficult time right now?  Perhaps your darkness has lasted longer than you anticipated.  Hold out for the light to shine. When He does, your situation will be clearer and your path will be bright.  (And you’ll get your headlight fixed.)

Matt Chandler: Jesus Wants The Rose



 

This blew me away when I saw it the first time.  This probably captures my heart for the church and church planting as well as anything I could say.  My heart breaks for the person who so desperately needs the Gospel, but has been bruised or even rejected by the church.  Christ would never reject you. In fact, He was rejected so that you could be received.  He loves you that much.

Isaiah 53

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; of my people he was stricken.He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, for the transgression nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will and he will divide the spoils

By the way, if your life is messed up, if you think you’ve made too many mistakes in life, we have a seat for you at Grace Community Church.  Jesus loves you and so do we.

What Does Grace Mean To You?

I’m thinking a lot lately, really the last few years, about the word grace. What a beautiful word!

According to Dictionary.com it means:

  • elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
  • a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
  • favor or good will.
  • a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior
  • mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.
  • favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.

The definitions continue under the heading of “Theology”:

  • the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.
  • the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
  • a virtue or excellence of divine origin: the Christian graces.
  • the condition of being in God’s favor or one of the elect.
  • moral strength

The founders of Grace Community Church and I have received so much grace we even put it in our name. Yesterday I was reminded how much our staff is a product of God’s grace. We’ve all needed lots of it. (Everyone we decided except for maybe Ben. Of course, he probably just hides it well.)

Lately though my thoughts have been on how we abuse grace. We take it for granted. We attempt to cheapen grace. We failed to accept it. We try to add to it.

Today, at least for the moment I’m typing it, I’m just going to be overwhelmed with the amazing grace my Father provides for me.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

What are your thoughts about the word “grace” today?  Have you needed lots?  Has lots of grace been given to you?  Think carefully about this next question:  Are you abusing grace?

Pastor Fred Winter’s Widow Shares Her Testimony (Faith Example)

I have covered the tragic murder of Pastor Fred Winters because I was encouraged by the attitude of the pastor towards faith and vision.  I wish I had known him, because I’m sure he would have inspired me even more.  Much has been written about his family and I’ve shied away from that subject not wanting to sensationalize their grief, but then I found this video.

Last Sunday I preached a message on the difference in having circumstantial faith and in trusting God completely even when everything around us screams otherwise.  (You can watch that HERE.)  Cindy Winters, the widow of Reverend Winters, is a perfect example of this kind of steady faith.  She takes a tragedy and uses it as an opportunity to share her faith in Jesus Christ! Wow!  Listen to her story. She gives the recipe of going through the worst times of life.