Jan 27, 2010

Another Matt Chandler Update

Week two of Chandler's Video Blog update. Great perspective on the goodness of God through suffering.

Jan 26, 2010

A Costly Obedience

I have been reading this week in John Piper's book "Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ" about the lives of William Tyndale, John Paton, and Adoniram Judson. It's the latest in his biographical sketches in The Swans Are Not Silent series. This series is phenomenal in giving an understanding of the price paid by those who were faithful to the gospel. This particular book gives sketches of the deep price these men paid through suffering and martydom to make sure that those who didn't have access to the gospel or God's word could have that access. It reminded me that we in America have become so used to a Costless Christianity. We have no idea in the American church what it means to suffer for Christ. Ironically, we have also lost our missional passion at the same time. We have bowed down far too long at the idols of convenience, pleasure, and prosperity. We have seen our churches turn into religious social clubs. Our idea of suffering is watching Bill Maher make fun of us.

I am so thankful for men like William Tyndale who was exiled from his homeland and eventually butchered for believing that justification by faith alone mattered and that people should have God's word for themselves instead of being imprisoned to a works-based church. I am thankful for men who understood that the long-term implications of the gospel were more important that short-term comfort. While I do not pray for suffering, I do pray for an awakening in the church that the gospel is worth whatever price is demanded to proclaim it.

Jan 25, 2010

Monday Morning Clarity

Wow! It was a rainy day at church yesterday. When I left the church Sunday, I got absolutely drenched running to my car. I also got a good sight at the drainage at our new house. I haven't seen rain that hard, that much in a long time. However, it was a wonderful spirit inside the church building. Alison and I continued to feel blessed each Sunday by the honor to serve the Lord here.
  • We had a spirit-filled time of music and worship. It was tangible from the opening song. I am thankful for Kevin and the choir and band and their leadership. The choir gave us a wonderful reminder of Christ with Jesus Saves.
  • The music really gave me some freedom to preach yesterday. I had a great time researching and preparing the message on the gospel as the message of the church this week. I firmly believe that we need to constantly be focusing on the gospel. Lots of churches and church leaders talk about the gospel when what they really mean is "seeing people saved" with little about the truth of the gospel as revealed in Scripture. My hope is that we will all see life through a gospel lens and what impact the gospel has on my everyday life.
  • We had a great Great Church Council meeting yesterday. We are mining down and having some great conversations about making disciples and the purpose of the church. My hope is that real soon we will have a process for making disciples and a vision that shows that to introduce to the church.
  • The rain yesterday reminded me even more about the need to beef up our Guest Services. I have had some really great conversations the past couple of weeks with some men who want to see us create a helpful and welcoming environment for guests. Days like yesterday show me that we need about 5 guys in the parking lot with umbrellas. We need to be intentionally seating people. We can't wait until we have lots of guests to start doing better. I believe that we won't have lots of guests until we do better. Nelson Searcy says that a guest makes their impression of the church within the first seven minutes. People decide whether your church is worth coming back to before the pastor's greeting and long before the sermon. Pray about your involvement in creating welcoming environments for guests.
  • What a blessing to see Eric Sapp and Grayson Walls both coming forward to announce that they have trusted Christ as Savior and Lord. It's amazing to see real-life stories and how God changes lives. Eric's a young man with a son; Grayson is a young boy, but both are new Christians that God has given us the responsibility to disciple. Commit to pray for both of these guys as they begin the adventure of life with Christ.
  • I met with a friend of mine last week who is working on a new logo for our church. I hope in the next couple of months to be able to show it to you.
  • The Church Council decided yesterday to not have evening services on February 7. We have a couple of classes that will be meeting that night, but we will not have evening worship. I know that some will say "Why do we let the culture and television control the Church"? However, that is not what is happening. Simply put, the Super Bowl is the most-watched event every year. I know that most of the people of Sixth Street will be watching it anyway and not at a worship service. My hope is that we can leverage events like the Super Bowl to give our people something to help build community around. There is nothing unbiblical about gathering around the community enjoying food and laughing at the silly commercials. That actually sounds kinda like Acts 2:42-48 (with the exemption of the apostle's doctrine). If people are going to watch the event instead of coming to church, it's better to do it with other believers than by ourselves or in some other environments. We have some people working on showing the game in the gym. We also encourage the SS classes to get together and watch it as a class fellowship.
  • If you haven't picked up information on the Children's and Youth Camps this summer, call Eric Miller. I highly encourage you to make time and money to get your kids to one of these events. When I served as a youth pastor, I saw how God used these events in a mighty way. Youth Camp is July 5-9 and Children's Camp is July 19-22.
Verse of the week - "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." Romans 1:16

Jan 20, 2010

Dug Down Deep - A Review

As part of my book review agreement with WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing, I had the privilege of getting an advanced copy of Joshua Harris' new book, Dug Down Deep. I have known of and followed Harris' ministry since I was first introduced to his "kiss dating goodbye" theories as a youth pastor. Many in my group read his first book and were extremely encouraged by it. He also wrote another great book called Not Even a Hint that encourages men to pursue moral purity. Josh is an accomplished author and is now pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

This book is a description of Josh's journey from average church-going Christian young man to someone passionate enough about theology that he would leave his family in Oregon and move to the Washington, D.C. area to be personally mentored by C.J. Mahaney, eventually taking over as pastor of the church when C.J. decided to focus more on the Sovereign Grace Ministries. It's a fascinating story and one very similar to many young twenty and thirty somethings who have been experiencing a fascination with doctrine and theology in the last ten years. In some ways, Josh is a poster-child for this movement, having experienced the Passion movement, the teachings of John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Mahaney, and many other Reformed voices.

Harris book is not meant to be s systematic theology or a seminary textbook. It's a solid discussion of how Josh's theology has been hammered out through his own personal discovery and life experiences. He is honest enough about his start as a child of the church movement that was more concerned with being "seeker-sensitive" and getting crowds in the door, but offering little in the way of theology or meat to live off spiritually. Harris is very gracious in his critiques of the churches of his upbringing. He also shows the power that has occurred in his life when he didn't settle for a shallow understanding of Scripture. He has a solid hold on matters of doctrine relating the the Person of Christ, the doctrine of God, the necessity of the Atonement, the authority of Scripture, and the importance and purpose of the Church. His theology is mature and well-thought out and reflects someone who has studied these issues for a long time. Though his book lacks a lot of Bible references, it is grounded in Scripture. Harris also shows the tenderness of a pastor-shepherd as he explains these truths in a way that is understanding of the post-modern culture he is a product of.

Dug Down Deep is not necessarily a deep book. Each of these doctrines can be mined out in much more detail, but that is not the author's purpose. Instead, he has provided a book that is practical for the light Christian who has no understanding of theology and the veteran scholar who wants to be reminded of the importance of the journey into deeper waters. I would highly recommmend this book to college students, young adults, or the 45-year old Baby Boomer who has become tired of years of swimming in the shallow waters. Buy this book, get your shovel, and begin to dig deep to the rock of security that sound doctrine provides.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

John Piper Sermon Jam on Suffering as a Christian

This is a clip from one of the best sermons I ever heard John Piper give. It was at the Passion '06 Conference. Listen, be challenged, bathe in the truth.

Jan 19, 2010

Helping In Haiti?

I have been asked by a couple of members of Sixth Street if we are going to do anything to help with relief in Haiti. I had thought of doing something this past Sunday, but didn't have enough time to decide and announce it. I have heard of some churches that have given 10% of their Sunday offerings or taken special offerings to help with relief efforts. I certainly want us at Sixth Street to do something tangible.

In times like this, the Red Cross gets most of the attention. They are by far the largest and most mobilized organization to respond to disasters. Did you know, however, that Southern Baptists are the third-largest disaster relief response organization? Baptists have an awesome system to not only provide food, clothing, and clean-up, but also to share the important message of hope in the gospel. I am certified as a Disaster Relief volunteer with Alabama Baptists, but do not have my specialized certifications. You can read more about the SBC response in this article.

We will take any donations that you feel led to give to help with relief in Haiti. We will channel all donations at this time to the SBC Disaster Relief. Just make a check out to SSBC and put "Haiti" in the for line. I would also highly endorse another organization that is on the ground in Haiti - Compassion International. They have many sponsored children in the country and are doing a great job as well. You can donate to them by following this online link.

Whatever God leads you to do, know that you can make a huge difference for the gospel. If you would like to be a part of starting a disaster relief team here at Sixth Street, please drop me an email at mhaines@sixthstreetbaptistchurch.com.

Jan 18, 2010

John Piper is Bad?

Now that's funny.

Monday Night Clarity

We had another great day of worship yesterday at Sixth Street. We continued with week three in our series Ekklesia on the topic "Community: The Glue that Holds Us Together." It felt like a great spirit of expectation as we left yesterday to be the church.
  • I received some great feedback and encouragement on my sermon. I can sense a real hunger that many of us are longing to put aside the religious masks we have been carrying so long and really being to experience life together. I know that some of the stuff I said yesterday may have sounded very different from what we've grown to expect at church. However, I believe that as we develop a sense of biblical community, we will find what we've really longed for in church for a long time.
  • Our music was very good yesterday, especially as we sang "Revelation Song". It was great to hear God's people singing such sound doctrine and getting a taste of what heaven will be like.
  • I mentioned yesterday that I have three goals for Sixth Street for this year. First, I want to see us begin to develop a real sense of biblical community and possibly being some "Community Groups" later on this year. Second, I want to see us begin to move towards our long-range plan of relocating. We have lots to pray about and need to reach more people to accomplish our plan. However, I believe that as we stay sensitive to God and His timing, the plan will be clear. Third, I want us to outline a clear process for making disciples and a mission statement that reflects that. These challenges will take us far down the road to being what I believe God wants us to be.
  • It was great to hear Morgan Jones share about her trip to Honduras. I know that God used Morgan and the team despite the obstacles that they faced. I loved seeing the slide-show of pictures and some of the places that I had visited on my trips to San Pedro Sula with Dan Moran.
  • It was also awesome to see young Jackson Tucker singing last night. Jackson is a great kid with a great smile! Thanks for blessing us Jackson.
  • Thanks also to my father-in-law Dr. Scotty Hogan for blessing us last Wednesday night. It was great to have "Papa" visiting the family and preaching in my church for a change. He challenged us to dream big dreams for God.
  • Big thanks to Ginger Young, Deborah Perry, and Willie Ward for all their help this past weekend making the church directory happen. It was great to see so many families showing up for their pictures and to think about what the final product will look like. These three ladies did much of the work behind the scenes and stayed their for three days until past 10:00 each night. That's going above and beyond.
  • On a not-so-spiritual note, I am stoked about the new season of 24. I'm a big Jack Bauer fan, but I have been real disappointed by the last couple of seasons. However, the first 2 nights show some of the old traces of 24 may still be there. Been typing this tonight during commercial breaks.
Verse of the day: "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" Matthew 6:22-23

Jan 16, 2010

An Update from Matt Chandler

Here's a video blog update from Matt this week about his progress. What an inspiring way to face cancer and give glory to God. What an encouragement to the Body of Christ!

Jan 13, 2010

Monday Morning Clarity

It was another great week at Sixth Street. Despite the continuing cold weather, attendance was good and the spirit inside was warm.
  • We continued in our new series "Ekklesia" this week looking at the focus of the church is God's glory. I was pumped during the prep and teaching of this sermon. God has taught me a lot in the last 5 years about the centrality of the glory of God and it's purpose in the lives of believers. I owe a lot to men like John Piper, Matt Chandler, and Louie Giglio for their insights into this. You can listen to the sermon here. I'd love to hear your feedback.
  • For the first time since November, I got back into the pulpit preaching on Sunday night. We are starting a new Sunday night series preaching through 1 Peter. We will look at what Peter had to say to these believers who were suffering opposition and persecution.
  • I have been reading a really good book by Joshua Harris called "Dug Down Deep" as part of my book review agreement with Waterbrook Multinomah. Hope to have a review up soon.
  • Exciting things are happening here at the church. I believe that 2010 is a strategic year for us and we have a lot of work to do.
  • We had several visitors this past Sunday. I am thankful for the momentum that God has begun and honored to have visitors check us out. We need to make sure that all our Sixth Street people are aware of the newcomers around them and creating a welcoming environment.
  • I am excited about a new effort that Sixth St will be doing along with many other churches in Alabama in the weeks leading up to Easter. We will be prayer-walking homes in the area and asking God for a spiritual harvest on Easter Sunday.
  • Pray for Faye Abrams as she joins a team from FBC, Alex City on a mission trip to Kenya this week. I am thankful for her obedience to take the gospel to the nations. Pray for strength and open doors for the gospel.
  • Don't forget to be spending time in God's Word. Here is an online link to the Bible reading plan I mentioned Sunday morning that I will be using this year. It's the "Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan" at the bottom.
Hope you have an awesome week. Verse for the week: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Jan 12, 2010

Glorious Day

"Living He loved me
Dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified freely forever
One day He's coming, O Glorious Day!"

Jan 8, 2010

Matt Chandler on Being an Image Bearer

Listen, enjoy, and let it change your walk.

Jan 6, 2010

Only 11 more days...

...and Jack is back! Please pardon me for this diversion from sports or theology. This is one of those things that appeals to my unredeemed flesh.

Hurry Jack!

John MacArthur - Do You Love Jesus?

Great video from one of my heros in the ministry.

Jan 5, 2010

Bravo Brit!

Thank you Brit for caring more about truth than popular opinion. May God bless your faithfulness.

Jan 4, 2010

Monday Morning Clarity (one day late)

We had a great start to 2010 this past Sunday. It was awfully cold outside, but inside we had a warm spirit and people ready to see God do incredible things in 2010. Here are some thoughts as we start the new year:

  • I feel challenged that we as a church need to pray with more desperation. I’ve only been pastor for 6 months, but I feel incredibly guilty that we aren’t praying enough mainly because we aren’t desperate enough. We’ve become very good at doing Christianity without the source of eternal life. I pray that God increases my desperation in 2010.
  • We started a new series Sunday called “Ekklesia” about the nature and purpose of the church. The biggest observation I have had as pastor is that we are better at “doing” church than we are at “being” the church. My hope is that over the next few weeks, we can upack the nature and purpose of the church in such a way that we will see exiciting things happening real soon.
  • This week, I am at Passion 2010 with Eric and some of our college students. I love Louie Giglio and the Passion movement. It’s awesome to see what God is doing in this generation. These students have been challenged to make a difference in global sex trafficking, poverty and education, translating the Bible into a language of an unreached people group, and more. In addition, we’ve been challenged by Francis Chan, Beth Moore, and Andy Stanley. John Piper is coming up tonight!
  • In case you missed it Sunday or in my newsletter article, I have challenged Sixth Street with three goals for 2010. First is to commit to read the Bible regularly, possibly all the way through. See my post below for a Bible reading plan. Secondly, I have challenged us to commit to pray for 3 people specifically and strategically this year. Write the names down on a card and put it in your Bible, wallet, purse, or your dashboard of the car. Third, I have challenged us to find a place to serve in the church and kingdom. If you can’t find a ministry to serve in, talk to me and let’s make a ministry. There is lots to do and we all have a part of it.
  • Thankful for Bill Middlebrooks subbing in for me Sunday night. Bill is a wonderful pastor and I know he did a great job.
  • This Wednesday is my wife Alison's birthday. Be sure to wish her Happy Birthday if you see her. She is the love of my life and God's biggest blessing for me.

Jan 3, 2010

Read the Bible This Year

I have challenged myself and my church to make the Bible a regular and daily part of their life this year. There is absolutely no substitute for a diet on God's Word. There are tons of great Bible reading plans out there. I wanted to list some of them to you and ask you to commit to being a student of God's Word in 2010.

YouVersion.com - This is a great resource for reading the Bible and has tons of Bible Reading plans. Plus, you can interact with others you may know who are on it.

ESV.org - This is the site for the online version of the English Standard Version of the Bible. It's my personal favorite and the Bible I use in my weekly preaching. The website has several Bible Reading plans you can read online or download and print out. I would recommend the "Every Day in the Word" or the "Daily Reading Bible".

BiblePlans.org - great site with 13 different plans. Choose the one that works best for you.

John Piper's Plan - a plan Piper uses from Discipleship Journal. A great plan. Very balanced and gives you days off to catch up.

Whatever you choose, make sure to stay disciplined! If you get off track, don't worry. Push ahead or try a different plan. It's not the plan, it's the discipline of feeding regularly.

Jan 1, 2010

2009 Rewind

2009 is over and 2010 is here. I normally spend New Year's Eve with a rewind of the year, but since we were travelling and had family coming in last night, I thought I would do a quick rewind tonight.

2009 brought a big change for the Haines family. At the end of last year, Alison and I were contemplating a potential ministry move for me that God might be calling me to pastor a church. We were unsure where, but had begun to pray and give my resume to some trusted friends to circulate. We had a few interviews with churches that were less than positive and began to believe that God may not be leading. Then we began to talk with the search team from Sixth Street Baptist Church in Alexander City, AL. It was clear from the beginning that this was what we had been praying for. On June 28th I accepted the call to be the senior pastor here and one month later, we moved from Birmingham which had been our home for 13 years. It's been a big blessing and one that we hope lasts for many years.

2009 saw some big moments for our boys as well. In the spring, Nathan and I were part of his 9-10 year old baseball team, the Alabaster Red Sox. We had a perfect 16-0 season and won the league. It was Nathan's first year in kid-pitch. He struggled at the plate and got hit several times. However, by the end of the year, he was doing much better and the momentum of the team capped off a great season. Drew turned 8 in February. He's shown himself to be an excellent student and a very smart kid. John David turned 5 in April. He loves to wrestle with his dad and pester his brothers. He also started kindergarten this year and loves school.

In February, my family lost the matriarch, my grandmother Alice McGahey. It was a bittersweet time for us to lose her but to also know with assurance that she is in heaven and that here suffering will be no more.

In addition to the perfect season by the Alabaster Red Sox, 2009 had some great sports moments. The college football season saw Florida start as the national champs and then run through the 2009 season until they met the Tide from Alabama. My MSU Bulldogs broke in a new coach in Dan Mullen. Mullen brought some much needed offense and excitement to Starkville. The year capped off with a blowout of the Ole Miss Rebels. In pro football, 2009 saw a great Super Bowl between Pittsburgh and Arizona with the Steelers winning their 6th Super Bowl.

In baseball, my Red Sox started the year off big with a huge lead over the Yankees. However, the Evil Empire proved again to be the best team that money can buy and left the Red Sox in the dust by the end of the year and bought themselves another World Series. We almost made it through the decade without the Yankees winning a World Series, but alas, money talks.

NCAA basketball saw the North Carolina Tarheels be the best team and win the NCAA Tournament. The NBA saw the Lakers win again.

No Longer Here
As always, it's strange to look back at the people who have passed on. Each year it seems like the names get bigger and bigger and 09 was no exception. Here are the notable deaths from this past year.
1. Michael Jackson - Everyone will remember this one. Jackson was this generation's Elvis and this death was as iconic as the King. His death started a worldwide frenzy of grief.
2. Ted Kennedy - One of the most iconic members of one of the most iconic political families ever.
3. Patrick Swayze - Red Dawn, Dirty Dancing, Ghost, Road House, and Point Break. All movies seen late at night each week.
4. Walter Cronkite - Veteran newscaster who told things "the way it is". Most known as the man who broke the national news of John Kennedy's assassination.
5. Paul Harvey - "The Rest of the Story" - His radio spots were one of my favorites. If I was turning the dial and heard his voice, I always stopped.
6. Ed McMahon - The famous sidekick to Johnny Carson most known for his introduction "Here's Johnny" and the Publisher's Clearing House.
7. Farrah Fawcett - Sexy icon of the 70's. Famous for being one of Charlie's Angels and the poster that every guy had or wanted on his wall.

Here are some other notables who died this year:
Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island), John Updike (author), James Whitmore (actor), Patrick McGoogan (actor), Ron Silver (actor), Natasha Richardson (the mom on The Parent Trap), Mark "The Bird" Fydrich, Bea Arthur (Golden Girls), Jack Kemp (senator and former presidential candidate), Dom Dimaggio (outfielder for Boston Red Sox), David Carradine (TV show Kung Fu), Billy Mays (pitch man), Karl Malden (actor and American Express commercials), Steve McNair (Tenn Titans QB), Robert McNamara (former Sec of Defense), John Hughes (80's movie director of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck, and The Breakfast Club), Les Paul (guitar maker), Robert Novak, Mary Travers, Captain Lou Albano, Brittany Murphy, George Michael (Sports Machine show), Nick Adenhart (MLB pitcher), Chris Henry, Millvena Dean (last survivor of the Titanic), Soupy Sales, Oral Roberts, and comedian Dom Deluise.

Here's to you 2009. It was a great year and looking forward to a great 2010.

Happy New Year

The 21st century is already a decade old. I don't know about you, but it seemed to go by extremely fast. Seems like we were just fretting Y2K and now we are more technologically connected than every before. 10 years ago none of us had Facebook or Twitter; 9/11 was the number you called for an emergency; nobody had flat tv's on the wall; and the Red Sox were still languishing the curse of the Babe. Lots of things have changed over the last 10 years. 10 years ago, I had a 3-month old son and a new job as a youth minister at Westwood. My family has expanded and my job brought us to Alexander City. It's been a great ride.

I'm hoping and praying that the next 10 years will see God's blessings upon you and your family. I am not one to make a lot of New Year's Resolutions, but here are some things I hope to do this year.
  • First, like most people, I need to drop some serious weight. I hope that I can lose about 30 pounds this year and keep it off.
  • I need to read a lot more this year, especially books that will stretch me theologically. I have been caught up for too long on "Church Growth" type books that tell us how to do church. I need to know how to teach people to think biblically.
  • I hope to renew my doctoral studies at NOBTS and start my ministry project by this fall. I really want to see this area of my life completed.
  • I want to be much more strategic with my three sons. Each of them are growing too fast and they seem to change daily. I need to listen to them more and keep patient when things don't work out like I planned.
  • I want to be more active in sharing my personal faith in Christ with the lost around me.
  • I have to be more patient. This is something everyone says not to pray for, but for me, there's no choice. I find myself being too tense about things that really don't matter in the scheme of eternity. Why don't I stress about the lost souls of men as much as I do the erratic driving patterns of those around me?
  • I want to play more golf
  • I want to write on my blog more often.
  • I want to be more in love with Jesus.
Those are some of my goals for 2010. We'll see how I do.