Uncertainty, The Series (2)

Just since I posted yesterday, the Dow Jones industrials have gone down 777 points--the single greatest one-day loss ever--and then come back up 485 points--the third greatest gain ever. This picture speaks a thousand words -->

Over the next few weeks, I'm asking everyone who calls LHC their church home to make our weekend services THE primary priority as we dive into UNCERTAINTY. This new message series is HUGE as we all try to make sense of the times in which we live.

God speaks repeatedly throughout the Bible to the reality of living in uncertain times. This series is going to encourage, equip, and empower us for that reality. Our world is uncertain. Our God is not. Bring someone with you to celebrate Him, his power, and his principles for the practice of stability in the midst of uncertainty. You can use this video to email/invite friends to join you this weekend:

Uncertainty from Lake Hills Church on Vimeo.


Uncertainty, The Series (1)

This weekend, we're going to set aside the new message series we have been working on for the last few months. In the midst of so much economic, political, personal, financial and social uncertainty, I'm going to do a 2-week series called UNCERTAINTY.

Everyone I talk to is treading water, either financially or professionally, as the U.S. economy lurches through the fallout of the Wall St./banking/mortgage fiasco. Some of those treading water will be able to ride out this storm. Others will have to start over.

The one certainty in this world is uncertainty. And, fortunately, we serve a God who is constant, who cares, and who offers us hope and practical help for handling uncertainty. That's going to be our focus over the next two weeks.

One thing that you can count on: People need hope. You and I get to introduce them to the greatest Hope there is, Christ. Make it a point this week especially and next to invite someone you know who's wrestling with uncertainty. In the next day or so, I'll post a video invitation that you can use to email them and invite them to encounter the One certainty there is:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8


Economic Uncertainty, 2

It's tough to distinguish between political posturing and actual leadership as Congress and the Administration respond to the economic crisis. I do think there are actual leaders and people of character and resolve who hold high political office. I don't think it's 100% of the people who hold high political office.

One of the things that we keep hearing over and over is that any bailout has to include protection for homeowners. But, where is their responsibility in all this? Didn't they commit to pay their mortgages? True, financial institutions shouldn't have kept feeding the Greed Beast with unsafe loans to unqualified borrowers simply to line their own pockets. But, it also seems like at some point there should be some personal accountability for the decision to sign a loan for more house than you can afford.

Three things seem necessary:
1. Remember that God is our Provider and not a bank, a government, or even ourselves.
2. Based on #1, Accept responsibility for wisely managing the resources God chooses to put in our hands.
3. Pray for God to give wisdom--and COURAGE--to those making decisions and policy that will ripple out to not only every single one of us, but also throughout the entire world.

But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 8:17-18



Few places in the world offer as much to do on a weekend as Austin, TX. This weekend, our city plays host to the Austin City Limits Festival and 70,000 people will converge on Zilker Park for an incredible lineup of artists and some of the best people-watching in the world.

At the same time ACL Fest is happening, the Longhorns will host the Arkansas Razorbacks in a game that was moved to this weekend when Hurricane Ike steamed ashore two weeks ago. Another 90,000 people will shoehorn into Royal Memorial Stadium for that event.

There are always options available, sometimes more than others. I can't overstate how important our community worship is this weekend. We're wrapping up the series New with a message that is tailor-made for ANYONE who is far from God or struggling with ANYTHING in their lives.

From hurricanes to economic storms, from specific crises to life in general, we have a unique opportunity to share the love of God with people around us like never before. Please be in prayer for this service, for me as I prepare and study to preach, and for the people that you will invite to encounter God in a personal, dynamic experience this Sunday. We'll never be the same.


How Do You Know You're on Vacation in the South?

I just ran across one of my favorite vacation moments of all time. Given the news of the last few days, it seemed like a little levity couldn't hurt.


Economic Uncertainty, 1


700. B-Billion. Dollars

Let's let that just sink in a moment, shall we?

OK, that's the cost of the financial paddles that the government is about to use to jumpstart our economy's faintly beating heart. Clear! The consensus is that in order for banks to lend for businesses to spend so employees can be paid and hired, this is the only option left.

LESSON #1: Greed doesn't work
. True, a precious few walked away while hanging us with the bill,( see Newsweek's feature, Who Got Away With What), but look at the financial whirlwind that millions will reap in their wake.

LESSON #2: There's no such thing as a sure thing.
No matter how much or how little we have, the only constant is Christ. Period. And unless I live my life like that, I will ALWAYS pinball from one extreme to the next based on the ebb and flow of financial, relational, professional circumstances.

God is good. His throne is never threatened.


Something to Hide, 1

Last year, I was at a conference where Joyce Meyer spoke. Something she said that night really rang true and hit home with me: Anything you hide, controls you.

As I thought about my own life, I realized just how accurate that insight is. As I've talked to people and heard their stories of guilt or shame, they have borne out the reality that hiding is a form of imprisonment. It's the single oldest consequence of sin.

This weekend, I'm continuing the series New with a message "Something to Hide," and we're going to dive smack dab into the middle of Genesis 3. The biblical account of original sin is such an amazing lesson for all of us who carry any guilt or shame or sin. Not because it's a story of hiding, but because it teaches us that we don't have to carry that around. At all. Ever.

PLEASE, make it a point to invite someone you know this weekend. Someone who doesn't know how desperately God loves him, or how extravagantly God's forgiven her. The creative team has constructed some really powerful elements for communicating the power of new available to all of us in God's grace and truth. You'll be proud to share your church and your Savior with them.


A Great Day

Yesterday (Monday) was just one of those days. I woke up in a little bit of a funk--it's a rare occasion for me but it happens. For whatever reason, it just stuck with me throughout the entire day. Nothing really wrong, just felt out of sorts. (Which, if you're currently single, is another good reason to make sure you marry well! A patient spouse like Julie is a must for those days.)

But, today proved to be the perfect antidote to yesterday. First of all, I started the day taking our kids to school, and singing at the top of our lungs to whatever country trash was currently on my iPod is just a great equalizer. Second, the first bit of "work" in my day consisted of a meeting with our pastors.

This meeting typically involves a review of the weekend just past (worship services, sermons preached, attendance, prayer requests, giving, what worked/what didn't, etc.), calendar previews, ministry opportunities ahead, and strategic planning. All of that is preceded and followed by prayer, bathed in laughter, and comprised of straightforward evaluations and affirmations.

The net results of that meeting--decisions made, issues handled, plans developed, and community affirmed--set a tremendous tone for the rest of the day. We didn't get all the world's problems solved (or, even all of LHC's problems!). But, we did get a headstart on a lot of them and made significant strides to affirm and sustain what's going well and correct what can be better.

Ultimately, though, it was the people I was with. People who take what they do very seriously but do not take themselves too seriously. They are a great blessing to our church at large and to me personally.

(I'm also incredibly anxious to get into the next two weekend services as we wrap up New--more on that tomorrow.)


Post-Ike, Sat. 2:56p

I've just returned from one of Austin's Red Cross Shelters for Hurricane Ike evacuees. They're doing remarkably well given what they're in the middle of, but there's some very real apprehension about the whereabouts of loved ones they can't reach via phone yet, when they'll get to go home, and what they'll find when they do get home.

More than anything, please continue to pray for people displaced by the storm; Gov. Perry and all our national, state, and local leaders; and those first responders who put themselves in harm's way to rescue people in the wake of the storm.

For those of you who are in the LHC family, you should have received an email from me today listing some of the things that the Red Cross needs at its shelters. In case you missed it, here they are, plus a few items we just found out about:

* Board games--Hill Country Middle School is housing over 300 people and there's not much to do but watch TV reports about the storm.
* Bedding, including air mattresses
* Feminine hygiene products
* Lotion

We'll be collecting these items tomorrow at all services at both locations. Thank you in advance for responding to this initial call for help.


Hurricane Ike, 3:25p Friday

As of 3:25p Friday, Hurricane Ike is bearing down on the upper Texas coast. The LHC family has so many close friends, family, and connections to people who are smack in the middle of the storm's path. Please be in prayer throughout this weekend for safety as the storm comes ashore.

Also, we owe a prayer of thanksgiving for the wisdom and expertise of Gov. Perry and so many public officials who have done so much in advance of the storm to prepare and protect so many people. Pray for them especially as Ike pushes through and in the aftermath.

Stay tuned to this space for updates and opportunities to serve.


Core Strength

One of the new ministries that cranked up Sunday night was the slate of Core Classes that are offered after the evening worship service. Chris Larsen and his team have created a unique learning environment that offers something for everyone regardless of where you are spiritually. Currently offered classes include:

* Marriage for Life
* Raising Great Kids
* Overview of the Bible
* Spiritual Habits of a Christ Follower
* Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts
* Living and Sharing Your Faith with Others

For a full course schedule list, click on this link to get more information and to see some of the classes that are coming later this fall. A box dinner is available between the service and the start of Core Classes, so if you're looking to take your faith to the next level, make it a point this weekend to join us at 5p.m. for worship and then stick around for the Core Classes at 6:30.

In addition to growing personally, the Core Classes are a great first step in meeting people and connecting with the overall life of the church. It's a great way to finish the weekend and be fully charged for the week to come.

Also, in case you didn't see it, here's the story that News8Austin ran on the LHC Downtown launch this past weekend:

LHC Downtown News Story from Lake Hills Church on Vimeo.


A Beautiful Day

I love the Church. Specifically, I love Lake Hills Church and the people who make it what it is. Yesterday was a historic day in the life of our church as we officially became one church in two locations with the launch of LHC Downtown. We also saw a new worship service and worship schedule at the mother ship create incredibly rich and powerful experiences for everyone who was there.

LHC Downtown welcomed 536 people to the inaugural worship experience at the Austin Music Hall. Campus Pastor Chad Zunker and his team created a phenomenal environment and community to welcome so many people who are brand new to church and encountering God like they did yesterday. Again, thank you to everyone who is working, praying, giving financially, and serving to make LHC Downtown possible. God is moving through you and I'm so grateful and proud to be a part of what He's doing through you.

Our new order of worship created some new opportunities for people to hang out and visit after the service, pray with pastors and staff members at the end of the service, and just really experience a richer, fuller time of worship and community.

Also, thank you SO MUCH to everyone who is inviting people to join you for worship. THAT is who we are. I'm so grateful to you for reaching out, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and just generally caring about people. There is nothing more spiritually mature or Christ-like than introducing other people to a personal encounter with God. That's why we're here.

If you missed yesterday, I want to invite you to make it a point to be back this coming weekend. I'm continuing the series NEW with a message, "A Place to Belong."


Guitar Man

The Guitar Man is gone. Jerry Reed who was most famous as The Snowman in Smokey & the Bandit passed away today from complications related to emphysema. He was 71. I still remember going to see Smokey in a movie theater in Beaumont with my mom and dad and grandparents. While it would definitely qualify for a PG-13 today, I was 11 and laughed till I cried. Jerry Reed was a large part of the reason that I saw it 8 times. In the theater. (The sequels were abominations and besmirched the legacy of the classic original.)

The wise-cracking, life of the party good ol' boy was definitely a part of who he was. But there was so much more to him. Behind the humor and the Snowman personna was a genuine artist. His guitar-manship was absolutely jaw-dropping--even when all you had was the audio, you knew that his was a unique gift. If you ever got to see him play--I mean, really play--live, then you knew you were in the presence of someone and something really special. I've included a YouTube clip just as a little sampler (for the uninitiated, Jerry's wearing the hat):

Jerry played a role in my childhood, and I'm sure my appreciation for his talent grew out of my relationship with my dad who first introduced me to him on the LP Jerry Reed's Greatest Hits. Especially on his version of "Georgia On My Mind" and his trademark instrumental "The Claw," his skill and artistry were on full display.

Because of the times in my life that his music and movies are connected to, there's a little sadness that he's passed on. But you really can't listen to his music or watch his movies and stay sad for long. He was very open about his faith in Christ and so there's the deepest joy in knowing that the heavenly angel band just added a phenomenal picker on lead guitar.

Guess who's leading that five-piece band
Well, wouldn't you know
It's that swinging little guitar man


NEW. Just the word itself is enticing and intriguing. There's something inside us all that is drawn to anything new and fresh and possible.

First of all, Sunday night we got to celebrate 71 people who marked their new life in Christ through baptism. It was a great night, not only for baptism but for hanging out, visiting with old friends and meeting new ones. Thank you to everyone who made that a priority and such a huge win.

Second, this weekend, you and I get to be a part of NEW, the next step in the life and journey of LHC. First, all of us are going to be beginning the sermon series New. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be mining the first three chapters of the Bible for insights and principles from the very beginnings of God's interaction with people. Genesis is a rich vein of reality and promise from God that is still so relevant for where we are right now.

Third, the LHC Downtown launch is finally here! Beginning this Sunday at 11am, the Austin Music Hall will be the site of our new campus. For more info or to invite someone to be a part of it, go to www.lhc.org/downtown. There, you'll see a video explaining what's going and how it's going to work.

Finally, don't forget our new worship schedule at the West Campus (aka, the Mother Ship): Sunday, 9:30 & 11:30 a.m., and 5 p.m. The 5 p.m. service will be followed by Core Classes, a slate of classes designed for further spiritual growth and teaching. You can get more info and register for these classes by clicking on this link.