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A Quote for Friday

"Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted."

Garrison Keillor

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why pray?

why pray?

really. why pray?

some would say the number one tool for a Jesus follower is prayer. it should be our go-to response whenever we feel angry, frustrated, tense, confused, or when we're just not quite sure what to do. but have you ever wondered why?

i mean, if God already knows what we need, why doesn't He just provide it and let us move on with our day?

there's this quote by this famous christian writer: "prayer does not change God, it changes the one who prays."

i don't know if that's entirely true. i think there are many different facets to prayer. and maybe God changes His mind sometimes. or maybe not.

but let me suggest this: everything changes when you have a conversation with Jesus.

there was this one time Jesus visits some friends, mary and martha. martha was busy preparing for all the visitors, but mary sat with Jesus, listening to His words. martha was frustrated and "distracted" by her busyness.

Jesus tells martha that mary has chosen what is better, basically telling martha to reconsider her priorities.

do you need to reconsider your priorities?

do you need to be un-distracted from your own busyness? do you need to sit and listen to Jesus' words to you?

obviously one reason for prayer is that Jesus commanded it. He didn't tell His disciples, "if you pray..." He told His disciples, "when you pray..." implying they would pray.

but it's also a unique opportunity to sort through life's issues with the Author of Life. prayer reminds us that God is in control. prayer helps put our role as Jesus followers in proper perspective. when we pray that our hearts would be aligned with His, He can work in our life to give us a clearer understanding of what His will is.

prayer isn't just some "religious thing we should do." prayer is an opportunity to talk directly to our Heavenly Father.

ask God this morning to show you where you need to adjust priorities in your life to put God first. pray that He would create a thirst and hunger to spend more time with Him in prayer. pray that God would change your heart as you pray this morning

becuase everything changes when you have a conversation with Jesus.

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A Quote for Friday

"All things are difficult before they are easy."

Dr. Thomas Fuller

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Music Review: "Heaven & Earth" -Phil Wickham

If you've heard Phil Wickham before and liked his music, you'll like this new album, too. If you've heard Phil Wickham before and didn't like his music, maybe you should give this one a shot.

I love the way the theme of the cd is exactly what the title says... They're songs about heaven and songs about earth. Songs that shout the glory and majesty of God in heaven and the worship that's due Him, such as "Eden" and "In Your City." And songs that suggest how that worship is tasted and lived out here on earth, like "Coming Alive" and "I'll Always Love You."

In many ways, some of the songs are similar to other great Phil favorites like "Grace," "Messiah," or "Cannons" with his wavering vocals and the acoustic/piano/strings accompaniment. But many of these songs have an edge I didn't feel in his previous stuff. Whether it's the synthesizers and electric guitars of "Hold On" or the loops on "Your Arrival," it's like there's a little hot-sauce on some of these songs that doesn't sound like his typical songs. (I do have to confess, the strings section near the end of "The Time is Now" sounds a little like The Hustle, but maybe that's just me.)

Here's a soundtrack that will encourage you to run this race here on Earth with your eyes fixed on the One who is in heaven.

Check out "Heaven & Earth" by Phil Wickham, available November, 17, 2009 on INO Records.

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"sɑv'(ə)rən" or "sɒvrɪn" (noun)
1. a supreme ruler

God is sovereign.

that's a word we don't use very often, sovereign. what does it mean to say God is sovereign?

i heard somebody explain God's sovereignty this way:

God can do what He wants when He wants how He wants because He's God.

when we don't realize God is sovereign, we don't see God for who He is.

if we don't understand this, our prayers, our faith, and our very souls begin to shrink. to believe in a limited God takes the awe out of our reverence of God. to believe in a limited God takes the passion out of prayer. why pray big prayers to a small God?

our prayers to the "Master and Creator of the Universe" are very different from prayers to a restricted, limited god. our prayers to a god who has little interest to hear our prayers and little capacity to answer our prayers are unnecessary

God spoke all of creation into being. the bible says God measured the waters of the oceans in His hand and hung the stars in the sky and that He put the hills and mountains in their places. that's a way of saying God did some pretty big stuff.

and that's the same God who cares intensely about the smallest details of creation.

He didn't just fill up the oceans, but designed every fish that swims in them. He didn't just scatter stars, but placed them burning brightly throughout galaxies. He didn't just pile up mountains, but also made every leaf of every tree that covers them.

and He didn't just put you here as a creation, but He calls you His child. God cares about you. God knows the number of hairs on your head. God knows when you sit down and when you get up. God knows when you sleep and when you're awake. God, even before the words are on your lips, knows them altogether and He still wants you to speak those words to Him. He wants to hear your heart.

you see, God is a great big God who cares about seemingly little old you.

what's on your heart and mind this morning?

because there's a sovereign God who's waiting to hear from you...

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Bishop King Visits Statesboro FUMC

A few weeks ago Bishop King, Bishop for the South Georgia Conference of the UMC, came to Statesboro to speak to people in the district. He spoke passionately about the importance of "Growing a Christlike World" and the necessity of prayer. Here were a few of my take-away thoughts:

  • local churches = "love stations"
  • Manage, Magnify, Multiply: Manage the ministry to which God has called you, Magnify God in all you do, and Multiply disciples through discipleship
  • "God of life and love, fill me with Your presence that I may do Your will in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
Bishop King preaching at Statesboro FUMCTalking with Bishop King during his reception at Statesboro FUMC

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Life is a Journey

Here's the thought:

  • Life is a journey.
  • Vision = the road map, gives direction.
  • Passion = the gasoline, the go-juice that makes us move.
  • Discipline = gives the vehicle to move in life b/c gas and a map ain't goin' nowhere w/out the car.
Credit to Brad Cooper for the thoughts. Now, go read what he said about it.

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Music Review: "Stockholm Syndrome" -Derek Webb

I still remember the first time I saw Caedmon's Call in concert. I had been the only Caedmon's fan I knew for nearly a year when my youth group went to Atlanta Fest (I'm thinking it was '96). I begged and pleaded my way into special permission from my youth leader to their midnight concert. And I can still hear the jangling strat as Derek sang a cover of Where the Streets Have No Name.

Nearly fifteen years later, I've come to love and appreciate Webb's music even more than I did as a teenager.

Seeming to always push the envelope, I had heard bits-and-pieces of controversy surrounding his newest release, Stockholm Syndrome. Now, having listened to it, I can see where it might push some people's buttons. Touching on hatred of homosexuals, blind patriotism, and the need for justice, all with the use of bold language, Derek Webb does a great job of pushing his bottom line. Love is the bottom line; love for God and love for neighbor. The songs echo the basic sentiment of the album title: all too often Christians have fallen in love with the very things that hold us captive and counterfeit our true love.

Musically, longtime Webb fans should be prepared, your Christian folk-hero has gone electronica. There are several stand-out tracks: the catchy Cobra Con, the folksy feel of Heaven, the straight ahead beat in Becoming a Slave. A personal favorite on the cd is The Spirit Vs The Kick Drum. This song seems to be built around a great beat and a quote I remember hearing from Rich Mullins (an important influence for Webb) about people confusing emotion in worship music and the Spirit of God. Bonus One: See if you hear any of this on the track... Bonus Two: Also, the controversial What Matters Most, left off by the record label, is available as a free download from Webb's website.

If you've been a fan of the messages of Derek Webb's music you should certainly enjoy Stockholm Syndrome. They won't all make your next party mix, but there are fun beats and sound effects that compliment the tracks. He doesn't shy away from difficult issues and his lyrics will get you thinking. It may feel a bit like a punch in the gut you'll thank him for later. It's the kind of music that makes you want to point your finger and say, "That's what I'm talking about!" Then you realize you're pointing that finger at yourself.

Stockholm Syndrome by Derek Webb is available on INO Records.

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Super Sweet Swag-Bag from Bloggers Meetup at Catalyst

Photo from  http://www.flickr.com/people/joshburnham/

One of the fun experiences from Catalyst last week was participating in the Bloggers Meetup Wednesday night. Aside from meeting several people (Brad Ruggles, Paul Steinbrueck, Tony Steward, Chad Houck, Bill Bliss, and others...) they gave away this great little gift bag. As a thank you to those who donated the books, and cds, and coffee -yes, coffee!- I'll be posting some reviews of some of the stuff. Not gonna touch on everything that was in there, but I'll hit the highlights.

Also, here's a quick story I thought was a little entertaining:

I felt a little awkward headed into this little Bloggers Meetup deal. I didn't really know anybody else that was going to be there, and so I'm going into this expecting the odd social situation of standing around talking to strangers. But I was interested and willing to see what came of it.

We're all standing around, sipping our drinks, and chatting away. I'm introduced to this really big guy named Leif. We talk for a couple minutes about where we're from, what we do, and then he introduces me to his wife, Margaret, who had walked up during our conversation. We had a moment or two of polite chit-chat. She was carrying this tiny-little dog (Hershey, I think it was...), and I suggested they get a micro-pig as a playmate for Hershey, explaining the article I had happened to read a few days before. Anyway, as we're standing there talking I can't help but have this feeling that she is really familiar. So, I asked her last name... She tells me, "Feinberg."

Then it dawns on me. Margaret Feinberg. I've been standing there talking with a nationally published author. I had read a book of hers, God Whispers, several years ago. She was one going to be one of the speakers on the Catalyst main stage. And I've been standing there telling her about micro-pigs.

I just kind of chuckled and said, "Oh... I've read a book you wrote." We both laughed; me at the confession, her at the book I'd read. "I've gotten better since then," she said. I told her I appreciated the book. I also asked her to take it as a compliment I had read her book and not an insult that I didn't recognize her.

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It's my magic powers.

Just testing video upload from Flickr.

It just keeps getting better.

Photo from  http://www.flickr.com/people/joshburnham/

Just testing picture upload from Flickr.


A Quote for Friday

"We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems."

John W. Gardner

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all of life

while life in Christ includes things like going to church or reading your bible or going on a mission trip, that's not all there is to a life in Christ. it's not just about doing "churchy" things or being a "good" person.

being a christian is about living life in Christ.

let me say it another way:

being a Jesus-follower is about following Jesus. all the time. everyday. in all areas of life.

not just "church" life... but also "school" life... and "family" life... and "friends" life... and "sports" life... and "job" life... ANY area of your life. EVERY area of your life.

and following Jesus doesn't just mean doing the "churchy" stuff. it's about living a different kind of life.

Jesus said, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (john10:10) another translation says, "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

when we give God our whole life, every bit of it, life is different. life is "more and better" than we could ever have dreamed of on our own.

in a world where so many people hurt us, so many people let us down, and so many people are not trustworthy we find in God somebody who is completely trustworthy.

have you trusted God with every area of your life? pray that God will show you areas of your life that you're holding back. pray that God will help you to trust him fully. pray that God would show you life in Him is "more and better than we've ever dreamed of."

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A Quote for Friday

"The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail."

Napoleon Hill

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Catalyst09 : On Your Mark

This will be my next couple days. You can watch @joshburnham or #cat09 for current updates, or just wait for me to eat from the buffet and then spit it back out at you here in the days to come...

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spiritual gps

the last time my dad came to visit, he had just gotten a new gps in his car. he could just punch in his destination and it would speak to him when he needed to turn or go straight or stop. it told him just how to get where he was going. he got his direction for his trip from his gps.

where do we get our direction for our life? where do christians get their map for faithfulness? how should life be lived as a christian? where does someone find direction for living a faithful life?

all of these questions find their answer in a simple little word: scripture

as Jesus followers, scripture is our compass. it's our source of direction. scripture is our spiritual gps.

read this carefully: the Bible isn't important just because it's "the Bible." the Bible is important because it's God's words speaking to us.

scripture is essential to living a life of faith in God. paul writes to the colossians, "let the word of God dwell in you richly..." (col3:16) there's nothing like the written word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. every part of scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another, showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. through God's word to us in the Bible we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

for some of you, you don't like to read. for some of you, you think the Bible is confusing. spend time this morning asking God to speak to you. pray that God would create a hunger in your life for His word. pray that God would make the message of the Bible understandable to you. pray that God would use Scripture to give you His guidance for your life.

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Bigger is Better, Except When It's Not

I had a story I just had to celebrate.

JPeay had a 5th/6th grade retreat to Epworth for the KidzQuest event this past weekend. Last week, we were a little disappointed heading into the trip because there weren't many signed up to go, but we knew it would be good for the crew that was going. Regardless of numbers, there was no bailing out of the trip for this small group. And it was a small group. A real small group. In fact, it was four kids.

But here's the thing...

One of the boys going on the trip was admittedly "not a Christian." (The boy's own self-description.) JPeay has had conversations with his mom about attending our ministry programs, and she said, "He's told me he doesn't believe there's a God, but he sure has a lot of fun when he goes up there and wants keep going." So, even for a trip with slim attendance, the boy was all jazzed about the trip.

That kid's life changed this weekend. That kid's eternity changed this weekend. When he got home Sunday night, he and his mom had a very different conversation. Over the course of the weekend he crossed the line of faith and decided to trust Jesus!

Two things I'll say about that:

One: I'm thankful for a church that supports ministry to students. I'm thankful teens who are loving and welcoming to "outsiders." I'm thankful for such a creative, faithful co-pastor. And I'm thankful for a God who's still turning heads and changing lives.

And Two: I don't ever want to get so caught up in numbers or personal expectations or outsider perception that we miss opportunities for God to move someone's life like He did this past weekend. God is faithful, and I want to be, too.

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A Quote for Friday

"Anytime you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this Earth."

Roberto Clemente

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Sweet Tweets!

The latest greatest fad to hit the Internets is Twitter. Perhaps you've heard of it? I think it's good for more than pictures of food and "I'm going to the bathroom" updates. I'll share my favorites from the past month...

My favorite Tweets from September:

  • jimgaffigan Eating crab is too much work. They are the pistachio of seafood
  • hotdogsladies New Butcher: How'd you know that's 2 lbs? Old Butcher: Dunno. Just do. NB: But what's yr trick? OB: My "trick" is being a butcher for 40 yrs
  • RickWarren I must change for things to change.Only changed people change the world."Change your life,not just your clothes"Joel2:13mes
  • perrynoble "Becoming obsessed with what people think about me is the quickest way to forget what God thinks about me!" (Quote by Craig Groeschel)
  • mattmcgill I imagine the cool thing about nuclear post apocolypse would be little traffic. Down side: zombies and mutants.
  • BCooP They dont make a condom that protects the soul....
  • RickWarren 4 TESTS OF YOUR FAITH:HEB11 A major change-v8, A delayed promise-v9-10, An impossible problem-v11-12, A senseless loss-v17
  • coachsteelman33 Learn from the past...prepare for the future...perform in the present...
  • stevenfurtick If you WON'T LISTEN to God in one area, there may come a time when you CAN'T HEAR Him in the other areas.

Find me @joshburnham.

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