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Lies Church People Believe About Politics Part 1

     Posted on Thu ,03/07/2014 by Chip

I tend to stay out of politics for a couple of reasons. First of all my job is to preach the gospel to all people. That means that I will encounter people with different political stances. So in order not to ruin my credibility with those who may or may not agree with my political leanings – I choose to keep the Gospel as the most important issue. The other reason is much simpler: I’m competitive and I like to win. When I get into political “discussions” I tend to get fired up, angry or even down right mean – so its best that I stay away for the sake of personal holiness.

While this is not a post about my personal political view, it is a “political” post. As a Christ follower, I find that many church goers become more and more passionate about political involvement and advocating for candidates who have Christian leanings or “conservation” view points. I’m all about the freedom to campaign, advocate, and even work for politicians – in fact I believe that serving in the government is a noble profession. I’m the son of a public school teacher and a former state law enforcement officer – and have scores of people in my family who have served on the battlefield and in the pulpit – and I have close friends who are elected officials. Two times in my life I’ve seriously considered military service – once in high school and the other as an army chaplain – but God had other plans. So this is not an “anti-American” post, but more of a series of observations pertaining to lies that church goers believe about politics – specifically “wrong” thoughts Christians may have about how Christian politicians can implement change. So here it goes:

Lie #1: Christian Politicians Will Lead Us Back To Christian Values

Several years ago I had the opportunity to speak at a National Day Of Prayer rally. After I spoke, a politician whom I respect, took the podium and cast a vision that resonated with many people. His vision was for an American that held onto Christian values; an America that had nice people, where you didn’t need to lock your doors, and even where people valued one another. While this was all dandy there was a critical point left out of his message: people are inherently sinful. Even in the most Utopian societies there is sin. Culture doesn’t get better because we have a Christian leader – culture can only get better when Jesus comes back. Leaders can encourage change, but only Christ can provide change. This is not to say that Christian leaders aren’t well intended, but it is a fallacy to believe that a Christian president, senator or congressman will convince everyone who has not been infected with the gospel to do what Jesus says. In fact, as a pastor, it is hard to convince a church full of Christ followers (including myself) to do what Jesus says. Christian politicians are not the the “hope” of America – only Jesus is. What if we shared the gospel with the same tenacity as we campaigned for a politician? That is where we make the eternal change.

Lie #2: American Is The New Promise Land And We Need To Take It Back

Seriously? Do we really believe that because some of our forefathers were Christian and that Thomas Paine’s common sense had Biblical consistencies that we are a nation that is committed to Gospel centered living? Where was the Gospel during the Salem Witch trials, in Thomas Jefferson’s slave quarters, on the trail of tears or in George Washington’s masonic meetings? The point that I’m trying to make is that there has only been one promise land in the history of man kind and that was the Israel of the Old Testament. We’re not the first nation to claim to be Christian. Henry the VIII committed to the church as he divorced and beheaded wives, Louis the 14th claimed to be ordained by God in France as his people starved to death, and Crusaders marched in the name of Jesus. The truth is, Biblically speaking, the only promise land any of us will experience is when Jesus comes back and he establishes a New Jerusalem. While we sojourn here on earth, Christians do not have to “accept” counter-Christian values, but we do need to learn to expect it. As I heard a preacher say once “they crucified Christ, what makes us think it will be easier for us.”

More to Come….

Sufficient Enough?

     Posted on Mon ,19/05/2014 by Chip

I have a confession to make: I struggle with being complacent. Always looking for the next big project or metaphorical mountain to climb. Always trying to find satisfaction or sufficiency, but like Mic Jagger says “I can’t get no satisfaction.” While this can be a positive trait, it also can keep me from recognizing healthy or unhealthy ambitions. I believe that many believers struggle with this as well, because the taste of the Gospel spurs into a pursuit of Christ – but without a healthy response to this appetite – it can prove to lead down unhealthy paths.

This drive keeps one from truly resting in the now and takes on the mentality of John W. Rockefeller  when asked how much was enough money by responding “just a dollar more.” What I’ve come to realize is that “more” is not a bad thing when left in the person of Christ.

The Gospel is the message of hope and salvation, but for many Christ-followers we leave the Gospel at the moment of conversion and attempt to find spiritual strength through the next Christian “fad”, Bible study, charismatic speaker, mission trip, youth camp, or worship song. When that doesn’t work we drift off into an unhealthy spiritual complacency.

Over the years I’ve been  concerned with the Christian celebrity syndrome. Scores of church goers following every possible blog, tweet, book, speaking engagement or worship band to the point of fanaticism. This is nothing new. Paul writes in I Corinthians “each one of you says ‘I follow Paul’ or ‘I follow Apollos’ or ‘I follow Cephas’ or ‘I follow Christ.’” People have always abandoned their dependency on the Gospel in order to pursue “gospel attractions.” And just like the old self seeking to find peace in the world, the believer who seeks to find rest in a pastor, speaker, author or band finds them self wanting.

One of the greatest messages of the Bible is that our sufficiency is in Christ. The grace of God is enough for the believer to rest in their new identity of being a child of God. But my exhortation today is to not stop there. The believer must fight to maintain that Christ alone is sufficient for all of their needs.

Paul writes in II Corinthians 12:9 “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” Christ is sufficient means that he is adequate for a particular purpose  with implication of leading to satisfaction. While we are sufficient in Christ, Christ is sufficient in every circumstance life presents us. When your youth pastor moves – Christ is sufficient. When a church leader has a moral failure – Christ is sufficient. When depression grips you like a vice – Christ is sufficient. When cancer ravages your body – Christ is sufficient.

May our ambition be to find satisfaction and rest in the Gospel and not reclaim the idol of Christian celebrity, but find Christ sufficient.

Marriage Intensive Weekend

     Posted on Mon ,07/04/2014 by Chip

For the first time in the history of our church we will be offering an affordable marriage intensive weekend. During Memorial Day weekend we have six spots for couples who wish to go deeper in their faith and marriage. If you’re unsure if this is for you or wondering if this weekend is even worth your time – let me give you 10 reasons why you should consider attending:

1) The cost is  $100 – and that is a small investment for your marriage. So even if it isn’t applicable to you – you get to go away for the weekend without kids or distractions – and spend time with your best friend.

2) Couples will have the opportunity to to sit down with a certified prepare and enrich marriage facilitator to work through specific issues or problems.

3) During small group times couples will have the opportunity to learn from other couples and recognize that they aren’t the only ones who struggle in marriage.

4) Spouses will learn how their significant other communicates and handles conflict.

5) Did I mention it was cheap?

6) Couples will investigate their family of origin and understand how differently each family system communicates.

7) Husbands and wives will learn how to deal with stress and conflict in a healthy way.

8) You’ll sit down as a couple and set goals for your family and relationship.

9) Couples will learn how to better communicate and grow spiritually with their spouse.

10) Spouses will be able to sit back, relax and enjoy a stress free environment with other couples.

Sign-up ASAP – space is limited to six couples. You do not want to miss this opportunity.

March 30 – Pray, Ask, Bring

     Posted on Mon ,17/03/2014 by Chip

Yesterday during our worship services I finished up the teaching series “RE:” by challenging each of us to RE:focus on bringing truth and people together. The challenge was simple: Pray, Ask and Bring. So if you missed it – here is what we’re doing:

On March 30 we want to reach out to as many people as possible and personally invite them to church. So for the next two weeks – I want to encourage you to:

Pray: Pray for one person to invite to church. Pray that God would provide providential appointments for you to invite them, that their heart will be open to the invitation, and that you might demonstrate the grace of Christ to them. For the first week – simply pray.

Ask: After spending time praying for them – ask them to join you on March 30. Bring them to either the 9:30 or 11 a.m. service.

finally…

Bring: Bring them to church and then bring them to lunch afterward. Spend some time hanging out and nurturing the seed that God will plant during our services on Sunday.

Can’t wait to see all God is going to do through you! Have a great week!

A Year To Remember – A Year To Anticipate

     Posted on Thu ,26/12/2013 by Chip

Christmas is over, decorations are coming down, and 2014 is right around the corner. With the closing of 2013 and the emergence of a new year there are many things to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to at River Hills Church. Over the past year life at River Hills has changed A LOT!!! Here are a few things to celebrate, appreciate and thank God for:

1) We moved into our new facility. After 6 years without a permanent home, God blessed us with an incredible place to worship and do ministry. Since our opening on November 17 we have hosted food distribution, business Christmas parties, worship services, small groups and a plethora of other things.

2) Over 60 people came to Christ – not including the 40 kids in Haiti who received Jesus.

3) We’ve grown numerically -and spiritually.

4) Our children’s ministry is busting at the seams.

5) We’ve sent missionaries all over the world.

6) People have adopted a culture of generosity.

Things are happening – and I am so thankful to be able to pastor our church, but this is only the beginning. Next year holds some unexpected and exciting steps forward in the life of River Hills. The first big step is our official grand opening on January 12. We will launch a 9:30 and 11 a.m. worship service and on January 19 start Sunday night small groups.

This is only the beginning – I can’t wait to share with you what we are planning for 2014 – so don’t miss our worship service on January 5.

Have a very safe and wonderful New Year! God Bless!!!!

10 Reasons To Come To Christmas Eve Services

     Posted on Tue ,17/12/2013 by Chip

Christmas is upon and I’m stoked about our very first Christmas Eve Service at our new facility. If you haven’t made plans for Christmas Eve – plan to join me at 4:30 or 6 p.m. on Tuesday December 24. Here are 10 reasons you should attend:

10) There will be plenty of hot chocolate, coffee and hot tea to give you that extra caffeine to stay up late wrapping presents.

9) You’ll get to experience  a white Christmas – there will be snow!

8) If you’re into Santa – he’ll be joining us for pics and fun!

7) There are two services to choose from – 4:30 and 6 p.m.

6) Some of the best Christmas music you’ll ever hear – our band is preparing to rock!

5) No Christmas Eve is complete without Silent Night and Candles.

4) A Christmas Eve message that kids and adults can understand.

3) A place to bring unchurched family and friends.

2) Bring canned goods to the service in order to provide food for orphans in Haiti.

1) Finally – a time to reflect on and experience the true meaning of Christmas.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Grand Opening – January 12!!!

     Posted on Mon ,25/11/2013 by Chip

After two weeks of meeting in our new facility I am completely amazed. We’ve experienced growth, life change and NO TEAR DOWN!!! While we’ve already officially moved in, our grand opening is planned for January 12. Between now and the 12th we will distribute over 20,000 mailers to the community, slam social media, prepare for the launch of new small groups, and start a 9:30 worship service – but there is something that I need from each of you:

Invite someone! Begin to pray now for someone to invite to our new worship services and facility. This is a great opportunity to connect with those who are investigating God and find a church to call home.

Pray with me. Invite with me. Expect great things with me – for January 12!!

Sweet Endings and Sweeter Beginnings

     Posted on Tue ,12/11/2013 by Chip

Last Sunday was a wonderful collision of reflective thankfulness and an expectant future. By wrapping up our last worship experience at the Winder YMCA, River Hills Church tore down much like we began six years ago – except this time we didn’t throw a few curtains and sound equipment in the back of a pick-up truck – we rolled it into a large moving truck and two trailers and drove to our new location. God has been faithful through His provision and expression of His glory and the sweetness of our worship experience at the YMCA was only outmatched by an expectant anticipation of the new chapter we begin as a church this Sunday.

Much like the black Friday shopper forgets to celebrate Thanksgiving – I don’t want our church to forget about all that God has done while at the Winder YMCA. Not only did He provide a place to worship (for free) for the last six years – we’ve added over 350 new people to our fellowship and witnessed the life change of over 150 people as they have accepted Christ. God has truly moved.

As we lifted up our glow sticks as an Ebeneezer to the God who has brought us this far – we raised another glow stick to remember those who have yet to experience Christ. The sweetness of God’s provision and this new beginning are for His glory. I am so humbled to be a part of this church and the privilege to watch all that God is doing.

This week we open the doors to our new worship center – but this is only the beginning. My prayer is that the Lord would surprise us with how much He is going to work – and give us a fervor to bring truth and people together. I can’t wait to worship the risen Christ on Sunday in our new venue, but I am reminded that no matter where we worship – God still works.

Join me this Sunday as we turn the page to a new chapter in the life of River Hills Church.

What To Expect In Our New Facility

     Posted on Mon ,21/10/2013 by Chip

We are in the homestretch of opening up our new facility at River Hills Church! The last six years have been an incredible journey and finally we are taking a HUGE next step in “Bringing Truth and People Together.” As we grow closer to the opening of our new facility many of you have questions about changes, time-lines and expectations – so I wanted to take a moment and answer some of the most common questions:

When will we begin to meet for worship in the new facility?

Great question! Our objective is to be in on November 10 or 17. This could be prolonged if inspections or work is not complete.

Where Is The New Facility?

I know this sounds like a weird question, but knowing how to get there and the address are two different things. The building is located at the corner of Argonne Road and Highway 53 (Hog Mountain Rd.). We are about one mile from 316 and two miles from downtown Winder. The actual address is 416 Argonne Rd. Winder, GA 30680.

What kind of changes will take place in the kid’s ministry?

Tons! Age groups will have their own space and worship experience during the service on Sunday mornings – which is relatively normal. What will be different is how the ages will be divided up. There is a room dedicated to infants with an attached quiet room for nursing mothers. There is a separate space for 0-2 year olds as well as huge meeting spaces for pre-school, k-3rd, and 4th-5th. This is going to dramatically change the way we can do ministry in our children’s ministry. We also have a massive PLAYGROUND!!!!

What about student ministry?

Students will continue to join adults during the Sunday morning worship services. However, students will have their own separate worship/gathering space on Sunday and Wednesday evenings – and during 3D. They will have a HUGE 75 seat auditorium!

When will we start two services?

Our plan is to move into the new facility as quickly as possible, but we will only have one service (unless there is limited space). On Sunday January 12 we will have our grand opening, start our 2nd service, and re-launch our 3D small groups. This is going to be a BIG Sunday for RHC – so begin pray about who you will invite.

What can I do?

There are two major things individuals in our church and do. First of all please show up for our work day on Saturday November 2 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. We will finish up landscaping, paint, lay carpet, clean and get ready to open up the building. Secondly people can give above and beyond what is normally given. This will enable the church pay for thing in cash as we complete the facility. The easiest way to give is online through our website.

I cannot wait to see all that God is going to do in the next few weeks – and I’m so excited that you are a part of the journey.

Should life really be “all about my kids”?

     Posted on Mon ,29/07/2013 by Chip

I love my kids. The first time  I saw them I knew that my love for them would last forever. As parents, Sarah Beth and I are always looking for ways to encourage, discipline, and motivate them to not only be people of integrity – but also passionate followers of Christ. Like most parents, we want our children to not only have the experiences necessary to grow into healthy adults, but the confidence to live a life above reproach. With this in mind though, I’ve come to realize that the worst thing I can do for the spiritual vitality of my children is to revolve my life (and my calendar) around them. Let me explain:

The temptation for many parents today is to involve their kids to the point of excess. We’ve been tempted by that as well, keeping our kids busy in extracurricular activities not only keeps them out of trouble, but builds character, teaches teamwork and creates confidence and perseverance. But there is such a thing as too much. Our lives as parents should not revolve around our children – but around Christ. Now, as a Christian parent, we would say that is absolutely right – however our schedules, actions, and encouragements don’t always line up with that value – thus making our core value our children and not Jesus.

Here are few thoughts to chew on:

1) When we revolve our lives around our kids we’re teaching them that God sees them as the center of the universe. For people to think that God’s agenda and love revolves around something He created is absolutely heretical. Christ died for God’s glory, saved us for His purposes, and created people for His delight. We are beneficiaries of His good graces. Our responsibility as parents is to teach our children a healthy understanding of the centrality of Christ.

2) Many times when we revolve our lives around our children it is a feeble attempt to relive our childhood or live out what we never experienced through our children. The question that I’ve had to ask is this: what if my kid hates what I love – what do I do? I’ve had to learn to encourage what they love, not what I like. Now – they both like to watch TV, but what I’m focused on is art vs. football, academics vs. athletics, etc. This even applies to our spirituality: while I love to dig deep into the  Word, my daughter loves to sing and praise God through her creativity. I’ve had to learn to encourage that, and honestly apply it.

3) Finally, while most of us believe that we have brought a future all-star, NFL quarterback, or LPGA golf star into this world – the reality is that less than 2% of high school athletes go on to get an athletic college scholarship. A bigger reality is that less than 12% of college athletes go “pro.” What does that mean for the hard working soccer mom, band dad or the parent that spends weekends at the ball field? Simple: encourage your kids to practice, play and work hard at their activity – but more effort needs to be given to the academic side of life – and even more encouragement on their spiritual vitality.

Understand – I’m not saying don’t play summer league, throw away your trumpet or quit the team. What I am saying is as parents the best thing that we can do is revolve our lives around Jesus and allow our kids to experience the outpouring of His grace – not only through our words, but through our actions. Parenting is hard – you are not alone.