Hey Church!!

Hey Church!!

I am really excited about what God is doing in our church right now! It was so incredible watching God work in the lives of people this weekend as we surrendered our fears and insecurities to a good, sovereign, and faithful God! When we link the truths that God is good and God is sovereign (In complete control and the ultimate authority!) we are able to live in the freedom that Jesus promised! The fact that He’s done EVERYTHING He’s ever promised is icing on the cake! Even though we will never understand Him we know we can trust Him because He is GOOD, SOVEREIGN, AND FAITHFUL!!

It was great to see so many of our college students back this weekend! Last night I found out that we had 50 college students sign up for Connect Groups at our College Bible study!! THAT’S AWESOME!  The amount of energy these young men and women bring is absolutely amazing! We are so thankful for the contribution that you all make to the ministry going on at Connection. When I look at the next generation of leaders I am encouraged and excited about the potential in the Church! By the way…if you’ve been looking for a ministry opportunity, there are about 21,000 of them that just pulled into town this weekend!

I want to give you all a “heads up” on something coming up on October 1st.  Many of you remember the outreach we did on August 29th of last year to wrap up the series Going Mobile.  We are doing something very similar again this year on Saturday, October 1st!  We will be going into the community to do construction, clean-up, landscaping, nursing home visits, children’s ministry, and pretty much anything else we can find that needs to be done! Please pray with me that we would put AT LEAST 500 people in the community that day to bless those in need! Can you imagine the impact that 500 people working just 6 hours that day would have on Statesboro? It’s going to be an awesome opportunity to show this community we really care about them by showing Jesus to them!

I truly believe that the GREATEST DAYS OF MINISTRY ARE AHEAD OF US!! Pray for those you know that are far from God and invite them to join us at our weekly worship experience on Sunday mornings. Invest in their lives and invite them to a relationship with Jesus! Then encourage them along the way! I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE EVERYONE SUNDAY!!

PRAY…INVEST…INVITE…ENCOURAGE!!!

The Importance of Vision

Hey Church!

This is a little longer than usual but VERY IMPORTANT! Today I want to talk about a “buzz” word that I hear ALL the time around organizations such as businesses and churches…the word VISION! Vision is essential to any organization and essential to your individual life as well. We often hear people say, “I have a vision to [Fill in the blank]”. In this they should mean that they have something in mind that they want to accomplish, have an idea of what the finished product will look like, and have an understanding of the steps they are to take in order to get to the finished product.

WE ALL NEED A GOD GIVEN VISION…PERIOD…FOR OUR LIFE, BUSINESS, CHURCH, FAMILIES, ETC!

Proverbs 29:18 speaks to the importance of vision. It teaches that when there is no vision people go there own way and lose focus. This ALWAYS leads to destruction! Just read Exodus 32 and you’ll see what happens when the vision is lost! Moses, the vision carrier and vision caster, leaves to go meet with God and by the time he gets back the Israelites have built a farm animal (calf) out of gold and are calling it their god! WOW! Without a vision of where we are supposed to be heading and how we are supposed to get there we will fall for ANYTHING!!

Notice up above I said what we “should mean” when we speak of vision.  Vision should denote that we have “something in mind that we want to accomplish, have an idea of what the finished product will look like, and have an understanding of the steps we are to take in order to get to the finished product.” Unfortunately “vision” often only consists of something someone would like to accomplish…THE END.

For a vision to come to fruition there must be more than a desire to see something happen! There are at least 4 parts of a successful vision.

  1. The discernment of what you are “called” to do.
  2. Having a picture of what the finished product is to look like.
  3. ACTUALLY implementing steps to move toward the vision.
  4. Persevering until the vision is accomplished.

Let’s look at these a little closer…

  1. The discernment of what you are “called to do. Simply put…what is it that is burning in your heart for your life? Your business? Your church? What do you feel MANDATED to accomplish before your 70-80 years of existence on this spinning ball called earth are over? A vision is mandated when the only options you have are to do what you feel called to do or be disobedient to God. One way to recognize a mandated vision is to realize you will always ask, “What if?” until you take a step of faith and try! My personal opinion…I prefer to try and fail rather than not try at all!
  1. Having a picture of what the finished product is to look like. Without a clear finished product in mind you have nothing to guide your decision making.  If you want a business that, in the end, is known for integrity you can’t start cheating on your taxes! If you want a marriage that reflects the image of Christ and His Bride, the church, you can’t place work and hobbies ahead of your wife! If you want your children to grow up living for Jesus your decisions will have to be guided toward that end. We can’t live like Hell and expect our kids to grow up living for Heaven! The desired finished product must shape our core values, which in turn guide our life. This is why the Bible says those with no vision cast of restraint! There is no finished product, or goal in mind, to direct their decision making process.
  1. ACTUALLY IMPLEMENT STEPS TO MOVE TOWARD THE VISION! I put this one in all caps because this is where I have seen the most breakdowns in vision! There are many people who are labeled “visionaries” who are in reality good dreamers.  A dream moves to a vision when it is actually implemented! Knowing what you are called to do and having a picture of the finished product MUST be followed with practical steps to fulfill the calling and create the finished product. Just as nothing gets built by working hard without having a direction or vision (That’s called treading water! It wears you out but gets you nowhere!), it is equally true that nothing gets built by casting vision alone! If anything is to be accomplished vision must be supported by implementation.
  1. Persevere until the end! Nothing worth doing is easy and if what you feel called to do can be accomplished in your strength it is probably not God’s vision! Therefore, perseverance is EXTREMELY important! I would like to encourage you that YOU CAN do what God has called you to do! Stay on the tracks He’s called you to and don’t let anyone move you off of them! You can run faster and easier on the tracks that others have run before you but you end up in THEIR destination…NOT YOURS! God needs people who are willing to step up and declare that, with His help, they are going to stay on the tracks He’s called them to run and is laying out for them! He who has called you is faithful!

RUN TOWARD THE VISION GOD HAS GIVEN YOU! If you don’t have a God given vision for your life it’s not because He doesn’t have one for you! ASK HIM! Go to His Word and let Him begin to shape a dream in your heart and then watch Him birth it into a vision for your life!

See you Sunday! This week we are looking at Fear and Insecurity!! CANNOT WAIT!!!  WE ACTUALLY GET DO THIS EVERY SUNDAY! AMAZING!!

Hey Church

Hey Church!!

You’ve probably heard me say this before but I have to say it again…When I walk into the worship experience on Sunday mornings I constantly think, “We actually get to do this every Sunday!”  I am so blessed to serve with the most AMAZING staff and Connectors (volunteers) on the planet! I know that as a church family our greatest days are ahead! Today I just want to take a minute and give you couple of reminders and a couple of things I’m REALLY looking forward to!

Reminder #1…Connection Junction is happening tomorrow night at the “White House” (Located at 326 S. Main St. next to the old Sonic).  If you are not in a Connect Group yet PLEASE plan to attend! One of Satan’s greatest weapons is spiritual isolation! We were not made to do life alone! We will have childcare and if you have youth age students you can drop them off early at the Old Sallie Zetterower School for 212 (Our youth ministry).  This is going to be an incredible time of fellowship!

Reminder #2…I want to encourage you again that “we are not of those who shrink back”! (Hebrews 10:39) As individuals and as a church we are going to charge ahead and not become complacent! As long as ONE person is FAR from God in our area we are not going to stop preaching the Gospel and sharing the love of Christ!! Jesus didn’t die for a church that would sit idle! He died for people who would storm the gates of Hell to take back what belongs to Him! Remember…Complacency exist because we perceive that we have all we need and do not perceive gaining more is worth the effort or the cost! Here are the points from Sunday that are snares we must avoid if we want to remain in passionate pursuit of Jesus.

  1. The perception that gaining more of God is not worth the effort or the cost! We will NEVER exhaust the riches of God’s glory, wisdom, and knowledge! Jesus gave us access to the presence of THIS God! I can honestly say I’ve never gone to God in prayer or in His Word and walked away thinking it was a waste of time! Pursuing God is always worth it! (Hebrews 10:19-22)
  1. The snare of a “non-invasive” gospel! Many of us have viewed the gospel, either, consciously or subconsciously, as non-invasive.  Like non-invasive surgery, it never breaks the skin! In reality this isn’t the gospel at all because at the core of the gospel we see RADICAL HEART CHANGE! When our hearts are touched and set on fire for Jesus we will never be able to continually settle for anything less than Him! (Hebrews 10:22 / 26-31)
  1. The snare of pursuing perfection rather than the One who is perfect! Satan has eaten the church’s lunch on this one! We so often focus on the symptoms of sin rather than Jesus…the One who is able to heal the heart from which sin proceeds!
  1. The snare of spiritual isolation! One of Satan’s greatest weapons is getting us isolated and alone. Too many of us think we are either too messed up to fellowship with “Christians” or too good to fellowship with Christians. Either way we become an easy target for the devil’s arsenal! (Hebrews 10:23-25)

What I’m looking forward to #1…Hebrews 10:24 really spoke to my heart this week in regards to our Connectors.  I am excited about what the Lord is teaching our staff about serving. I believe we (The Church) have often looked at serving in the wrong way.  We can’t look at what we do as Connectors as a means to do ministry, but as the opportunity to do ministry! When we are serving…setting up, tearing down, getting Konnection Kids ready, preparing Next Steps/Guest Services, getting ready to go out into the parking lot, etc…we have a great opportunity for ministry! I really am excited about this slight, but significant, shift in mindset.  As we serve the church we also have an opportunity to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”! Before the service and after the service are awesome opportunities to love one another, encourage one another, and connect believers to each other!

What I’m looking forward to #2…JAILBREAK!!!…I truly believe this could be THE MOST SIGNIFICANT series we’ve ever done! I truly CANNOT WAIT to see what God does through this series! This week we are looking at fear and insecurity. Whether we want to admit it or not we all deal with this in some way. I am praying, even begging, God to help us break free of this personal prison that holds many of us captive!

PRAY…INVEST…INVITE…ENCOURAGE!!!

See you Sunday…

10 Questions Every Leader Should Ask!

Here are 10 questions every leader should ask!

  1. Do I take my leadership seriously? ALL people are leading someone somewhere. You may not see yourself as a leader but without a doubt you ARE leading someone somewhere. The question is who are you leading and where are you taking them? Bosses, owners, husbands, wives, mom, dad, friend, brother, sister…where are you leading those who are looking to you?
  1. Could you substitute the word “SERVE” for “LEAD” in the way you deal with those who are looking to you for leadership?
  1. Do we care more about the DEVELOPMENT of the people we lead or the AGENDA we feel we need to accomplish?
  1. Does the end goal of our vision produce people EMPOWERED to change the world or PAWNS ON OUR PERSONAL CHESSBOARD?
  1. Do we actually give a CRAP about the people we are leading? REALLY?
  1. Are we driven by our own SUCCESS or the desire to SEE OTHERS SUCCEED?
  1. When others make mistakes do we see it as an OPPORTUNITY to help them grow or as a BLEMISH on our own record and ego?
  1. When you make a mistake do you immediately OWN IT or do you look for AN EXCUSE or scapegoat?
  1. Where are you going? We CAN’T LEAD people somewhere we’re NOT GOING OURSELVES!
  1. Who are you following? The EFFECTIVENESS of our leadership in directly DEPENDENT upon who we are FOLLOWING!

Bonus for those in ministry:

  1. Do you see those you serve with as a MEANS TO DO MINISTRY OR AS YOUR MINISTRY?
  2. Are you MODELING the CULTURE OF CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY you say you are called to create?

Hey Church!!

Hey Church!!

First of all…who said church can’t be fun? I had a blast on Sunday and CAN NOT wait until this Sunday as we open up the new series Jailbreak! (more on that in a minute) Every Sunday I walk into the service and worship with our AMAZING worship team I literally think to myself, “We really get to do this every week!”   I’m so thankful that we are able to come to God and worship Him in freedom and in truth.  I really do believe the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father”, ought to blow our minds every time we say them!! The fact that we can come to the God of the universe who is holy and call Him FATHER is incredible! This ONLY happens through the righteousness we are given through Jesus!

Second, I want to ask everyone to be begging God to use us to bring people to the knowledge of Jesus and His love for them! Who do you work with, spend time with at the ballpark, or are around in some other capacity that is far from God. Pray à Investà Invite!  Pray for them and ask God to move in their lives. Invest in them to show them the love of God. Invite them to church and a relationship with Jesus!

Finally, I am truly PUMPED about this Jailbreak series starting up this Sunday! I truly believe that this will be THE MOST IMPACTFUL series we’ve ever done! I am begging God to do great work in our lives and set us free from our personal prisons as we make a Jailbreak!! It may change someone’s life!! Through this series we are going to be looking at the topics that I spoke on Sunday.  Now, I know that I’m the only one that deals with any of them (I suck remember!). But here they are again in case you were sleeping:

  1. Mediocrity/Complacency – Mediocrity/Complacency exist because we have what we want and don’t perceive getting more worth the cost or effort it would require.
  1. Fear/Insecurity – Fear/Insecurity exist because we aren’t sure we’ll get what we want.
  1. Selfishness – Selfishness exists because we don’t know if we can get enough of what we want.
  1. Bitterness/Unforgiveness – Bitterness/Unforgiveness exist because we feel we got what we didn’t deserve and now we perceive a debt that must be repaid.
  1. Condemnation – Condemnation exists because we can’t rest in the finality of Jesus taking what we deserve on the cross.

Remember…pray…invest…invite. Let’s get people far from God to church to hear the gospel! God’s people reach people!!

Why Did Jesus Clear The Temple?

Hey Church!!

Check out Mark 11:15-19.   Go ahead and read it and then we’ll talk about it.  No, seriously, click the hyperlink on Mark 11:15-19 and read it…I’ll wait a minute!

Good! Now let’s dive in! These scriptures are fascinating because we actually see Jesus display righteous anger.  The question is why?  Why did He get so angry? Was it because there was money in the temple? If that’s the case then we need to turn over the offering plates every Sunday! But we know that God commands us to bring our tithes and offerings to the church.  Was it because He was having a bad morning and just wanted to vent?  Of course we know Jesus didn’t just blow up into some emotional tirade because He was running late to the temple and didn’t have time to get His Caramel Macchiato! So why was He angry?

I believe the reason Jesus was angry is found in verse 17.  It says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”.  This is quoted from Isaiah 56:7 in which Isaiah is declaring that the Lord will bring ALL people who “love the name of the Lord” into His house!

This is where the problem lies.  The selling of animals for sacrificial worship was taking place in what was called the “Court of the Gentiles”. This is the only place that gentile (Those who were not Jews and were looked down upon by Jews as second-rate people…that would include most, if not all, of you reading this post!) worshippers could go into the temple to worship.  The issue at hand is that the religious people were inhibiting those who wanted to draw close to God from being able to worship Him!

Hmmm…Sound familiar? Makes me think about the church today! Here’s my thought…or I guess a question…Is the church today helping or hampering those outside the “religious circle” come to know God? Do we look down our noses at those who are different or do we welcome them? Do we turn our back to homosexuals, adulterers, prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, and fornicators or do we believe that Jesus has the power to heal all? (EVEN GOSSIPS AND CHURCH PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN IN CHURCH FOR 40+ YEARS AND STILL HAVEN’T GROWN UP!) I’m siding with the power of Jesus!! He changed my heart and healed my life and I am the chief of sinners…Seriously, I stole that title from Paul! (Don’t believe me? Wait til you hear the message this Sunday and you will!) If He did that for me He CAN do that for anyone!

Here are a few things we MUST remember as the church:

  1. We are not called to own the church…we are the church and we are owned by Christ!
  2. We are not called to hoard the gospel…we are called to share it with others.
  3. We are not an organization made up of perfect people…we are a living, breathing community made up of JACKED-UP people who are on a journey together!
  4. We are not called to spiritual superiority…we are called to humble submission to Jesus and others.
  5. We are not called to profane the name of the Lord with our half-hearted lifestyle…we are called to be a witness to His majesty as the glory of the bridegroom is reflected off of His bride, the Church!

See you Sunday! Can’t wait! Praying like CRAZY that God moves in a big way and changes hearts that will change hearts!

Hey Church!!

Hey Church!!

To say that I am excited about what God is doing and the things coming up in the future is a huge understatement! This Sunday’s message is going to be different from any other message that I have ever preached. To be honest sharing what God has put on my heart this week has me excited as well as a little nervous!

I am also really looking forward to the opportunity we have in a few weeks with the students getting back in town! There will be nearly 21,000 young men and women at GSU this year and many of them live day-to-day not realizing there is a God who loves them and wants to use them for His glory! That, and the fact that only about 30-35% of Statesboro is actually “churched”, is why I believe the message from this past Sunday is so important! If we want to see God’s power move in the church and in our community we must allow Him to cultivate a heart of obedience within us! Remember…God will NOT empower us beyond the point that He can trust us! Here’s a quick recap of the message from this week and the 5 truths to keep in focus if we want to see God’s power cultivated through obedience in our lives:

  1. Obedience comes from love deposited not love earned! Jesus said, ““If you love me, keep my commands.” (See John 14:15-17) Obedience comes from the love Jesus has given us. We don’t become obedient to earn Jesus’ love! The Bible is clear…WE COULD NEVER DO ENOUGH TO EARN HIS AFFECTION, WE CAN ONLY RECEIVE IT AS A GIFT!
  1. Obedience is cultivated in the soil of trust not understanding! (Acts 1:4) The disciples had no clue what was really about to happen in Jerusalem! Yet they obeyed Jesus, not because they had complete understanding, but because they trusted His words!
  1. Obedience is cultivated in the soil of trust not fear! When we begin to realize who God is, His nature, majesty, and grandeur, we should be in awe of Him and even come to the place that Isaiah found himself when he cried out, ““Woe to me! 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 6:5) But lasting obedience does not come from fear of a tyrant God who’d like to hit us with a lightning bolt, it comes when you realize the God that could hit you with the full force of His wrath has offered and extended mercy through His Son Jesus Christ!
  1. Obedience is cultivated in humility not self-importance! When Jesus becomes more important to us than we are to ourselves obedience will follow. The ground of the cross is where true humility is found! If we can look to the cross and not be humbled we have yet to recognize the magnitude of what took place there!
  1. Obedience is cultivated in the soil of desperation and dependence not self-reliance and self-sufficiency! To think or live as though we can survive apart from God only proves our arrogance! Psalm 42:1,2 is such a great illustration of how desperate we should be and, in reality, are for God! (By the way…I still don’t like the song! :) It was a joke so all the lovers of “As the Deer” can chill!!)

My prayer is that we would become so consumed with God that our entire lives would mirror His. As we walk in obedience to His word we will see His power flow through us and into a world that is SO desperate for it!

I CAN NOT WAIT TO SEE GOD US HIS PEOPLE TO CHANGE THE FACE OF THIS COMMUNITY!

8 Reasons We Should Serve The Church

Why should we serve the church?  Notice I didn’t ask, “Why should we serve “in” the church. The church is not a building we serve in, a program we begrudgingly work at, or an organization to receive our spare change at the end of the week! The Church is the Bride of Christ – PEOPLE – the same people Jesus died to save and came to serve! Here are 8 reasons we should SERVE THE CHURCH!

  1. When we meet Jesus we are called to contribute not just consume! To say it another way…From the point of salvation forward we are called to inject the life blood of Jesus into others NOT to become parasites that suck the life out of the Body of Christ!
  1. Serving is the outward expression of the inward humility we experience when we realize Jesus’ work on the cross! We will NEVER serve others until we are humbled by the sacrifice of the cross. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God! (2 Corinthians 5:21) THAT IS HUMBLING!
  1. Serving causes us to crucify our selfishness once again! One thing I know for sure is that 10 out of 10 people are selfish (Including me! Well…especially me!).  You CAN NOT serve others faithfully and continually be consumed with yourself! Jesus was consumed with pleasing His heavenly Father and sought to do it by serving others…not himself!
  1. The Church is the Bride of Christ! We can’t say, “I love Jesus” and then say, “I hate His bride.” What if you told me, “Brandon, I really like you…but I hate your wife!”  We would probably have a little altercation! Pastor or not! Why? I love my bride! It doesn’t even make sense to think that we could say we love Jesus and then say we don’t love what He loves the most…His Church! The Church is the Bride of Christ. (Ephesians 5:22-27) Serve her with the love and respect she deserves!
  1. Serving unlocks God’s blessing in our lives! (John 13:12-17) It goes against logic that serving others brings greater enjoyment than serving ourselves but God has never adhered to man’s logic! You want to be blessed? Be a blessing to others!
  1. Serving is the natural overflow of a heart full of gratitude! If you read the Old Testament you will see that the priest served in the temple daily because of the sin and guilt of the people.  We, the New Testament priests, serve not to be forgiven but because we have been forgiven! Not out of guilt but out of gratitude! How could we not want to give others the best opportunity possible to encounter the reality of Jesus!
  1. Serving shows people the extent of God’s love for us! (John 13Just go ahead and read the whole thing!!) The last act of Jesus toward His disciples was to wash their feet! HE SERVED THEM! Nothing goes against the grain of our culture like putting others ahead of ourselves! People will see Jesus in us by the way we love (Not by the things we hate!) and serving is a tangible expression of our verbal confession!
  1. Jesus said so…PERIOD! (John 13:15,16) Do we really think we are better than Jesus? We need to walk in HIS footsteps, humbling ourselves, picking up our towels, and allowing ourselves to be used by the hands of our Holy God to be His cleansing agent in the world!

The Church is the hope of the world! Let’s be the Church! Let’s love and serve one another! It’s time we give the world an accurate picture of who God is!

Hey Church!!

Hey Church!!

Just a few things from my heart that I want to pass on to you today!

  1. Salvations!!! – It’s unbelievable (Even though it shouldn’t be!) to see what God is doing in the hearts of people! We were able to witness 2 more people make Jesus the Lord and Savior of their lives this past Sunday! I am amazed and thankful that we get to be a part of God’s work each week! I literally get overwhelmed every time I walk into the weekly worship experience and realize again that we get to do this EVERY WEEK! Worshiping the Living God with other believers and seeing people cross over from death to life…IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT!!
  1. Boone Mission Trip! – I had the great privilege of spending last week with many of our youth in Boone, N.C. working with Kingdom Builders Ministries. I was so impressed with these young men and women and CAN NOT WAIT to see how God uses them to advance HIS Kingdom!
  1. The Last Vision Message – This week we will wrap up The Vision series by looking at how much we need the power of God in the church today! We will be looking at what it takes to see the power of God in the life of the church and in the life of those far from God. I can’t wait to share what God has put on my heart for us and ask you to be praying that God’s power would not just be something we talk about but something that we experience this Sunday!
  1. BACKPACKS FOR THE BAHAMAS! We have an AWESOME opportunity to be a great blessing many children in the Bahamas. We are asking everyone to purchase a backpack and school supplies for these children who would otherwise not be able to afford them. The cost of the backpack and the items is around $30.00. If you don’t have the list of items to include in the backpack please email us at info@connection-church.com and we will gladly get the list to you!
  1. August 7th service! The only thing that I can say about the service on August 7th is that you DON’T WANT TO MISS IT! I promise you the message that Sunday WILL be different from anything you’ve ever heard before. It is a message that has been burning in my heart for sometime and one that I feel I am supposed to share on that particular Sunday. If you know people who have never been in church or who have been turned off from church in the past this service would be a GREAT Sunday to bring them.
  1. JAILBREAK – On August 14th we’ll be beginning a new series entitled Jailbreak. We will be looking at 5 struggles that tend to hinder ALL OF US whether we are willing to admit them or not and what Jesus has to say about them! Jesus came to set us free from slavery to sin and death and I am praying that through this series we will see MANY people break free from their own prison!

Remember…KEEP INVESTING…KEEP INVITING…KEEP ENCOURAGING!!

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