Thursday, June 6, 2013

a2 Church Is Moving!

On Monday, June 3, 2013 a2 Church closed on 14+ acres of property at 10 Greenhill Parkway, Birmingham, AL 35242 (on Hwy 280 just behind Superior Grill)!

We will move from our current location in Vestavia City Center to the new location in mid-July. In the mean time, we’ll continue to meet every Sunday at 9:45 at our current location in Vestavia City Center. (Please check the website regularly for updates on our move and how you can help!) 

We are so excited about the future!

According to David Olsen in his book, “The American Church in Crisis” only 16.4 of the population in Shelby County attends church on a regular basis, and only 14% attend an “evangelical” church. Wow! This means that Shelby County is the most unchurched county in Alabama, and with our upcoming move God will have strategically placed us in it!

a2′s new church campus will give us a strategic mission sending center to not only reach Shelby County, but the five-county region that makes up the greater Metro Birmingham area!

Get this, according to the experts there are at least 646,557 who are not involved in a local church in Shelby and Jefferson counties alone! According to Andy Stanley, people in the deep South regularly over estimate their actual church attendance. That means there could as many as 700,000 people in this two county region who need a church – and more importantly, who desperately need Jesus!

a2 Church believes it’s all about Jesus, only about Jesus and always about Jesus!  During this transition we want to continue to keep the “main thing” the “main thing.” The church has never been about the building, but about God working in and through those He has “called out of darkness into this marvelous light.”  

We’re excited about the new building! But more importantly, we’re excited about the opportunity it gives us to continue to lift the name of Jesus sky high over the greater Metro Birmingham area!

Here we go!


Friday, April 26, 2013

The Best Three Months Ever! An Important Message To a2 Church!


Hey a2 Church! 

I'm more excited about God's activity at a2 Church than I've EVER been before! Wow! The ground is literally moving beneath our feet! God is doing what only God can do! And He has given us a shot to be His hands and feet in making a difference! Here are the bullets: 

       This week we've had some potential breakthroughs on the property! Keep praying! God is at work! (Eph 3:20-21)! More Sunday! 

       This Sunday, April 28 gets REAL in a "truth dressed up in blue-jeans and tennis-shoes" kind-of-way with the msg "Breaking Away From The Herd." Don't miss it! BTW, the band is going to kill it with a brand new song you don't want to miss... Bring a friend! 

       The Leadership Summit next Wednesday, May 1 @ 6 pm could be one of the most important meetings in a2's history! Be there! 

       Another opportunity to follow Jesus in water baptism hits next Sunday, May 5. If you've not signed up, sign up! Email us today at info@a2church.org

       Mother's Day will ROCK at a2c! A photo opp for all ladies and their families. Eye-popping and mouth watering refreshments! Great music. Important msg. Invite your friends and fam to join you! a2 is the place to be on Sunday, May 12 at 9:45 am. 

       Make plans to be a part of UNITE: a2 Team Members Volunteer and Appreciation Day at Oak Mtn State Park - 12 noon. More info this Sunday. 

       Our last Sunday in our current worship space is scheduled for Sunday, July 28. Let's make the next 3 months our best three months ever at 600 Montgomery Hwy! 

There's more... More... More... And one of the biggest things we can do is PRAY! PRAY! PRAY

"Pray that the Master's Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response..." (2 Thessalonians 3:1 MSG) 

See you Sunday at 9:45 am! 

Chris Goins 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Prototype and Letter To A Ravaged Bride by Jonathan Martin

Just finished reading Jonathan Martin's book, Prototype.  Wow!  

The first three chapters (Identity, Beloved and Obscurity) were beautiful and so important for me... For a few days after reading them I found myself going back to them over and over again to re-read Jonathan's thoughts... The rest of the book was excellent, as well, but Jonathan's "boy on the bike" story owned me...  Thanks Jonathan for allowing God to use you to speak to me in a very personal way.  

Jonathan is a gifted writer and a great storyteller. I highly recommend his book.  

The book ends with en epilogue titled, "Letter to a Ravaged Bride."  Once again, as happened a few times during the reading of this book, I found myself weeping and repenting... Jonathan's letter to the church is prophetic, poetic, artistic, beautiful and heart-breaking... Again, wow!!!

Evidently, Jonathan had posed his "Letter To A Ravaged Bride" over on his blog in October 2010.  I copied it, edited it as it appears in the book and have included it below. Read it at your own risk... Read it thoughtfully, prayerfully... Let God break your heart for His church...   

Pick up Prototype and as you read it, ask God to help you to become the YOU He had in mind when He spoke you into existence.  


To the ravaged bride (somewhere in America),

I could pretend that I don’t love you anymore. I could yell and scream and break things. I could walk out dramatically like you and I are on a movie set, and say something pious as I slam the door. I could manufacture looks of disgust, or better yet I could turn my eyes away. But you know me too well, don’t you? You know that even when I’m petty or enraged, even when I lash out at you with self-righteousness indignation (is there any other kind?)—you always have my heart. Even when you are in tatters, your gown ripped and your make-up smeared, a clownish parody of what you once were—you are still beautiful.

So I write you less as a scorned lover, and more as a heartsick old fool, wearing my displaced affections like medals. And I want to talk to you with the detached wisdom of a professor or the elegant rhythm of a poet, but I always end up stammering when I’m close to you. Why bother to go through the machinations of fury and distance when you see through me every time? You see me wearing my rage and my confidence like a silly fake mustache, a failed disguise for my broken heart.

So I’m writing you today, honestly trying to avoid bravado and forced swagger, knowing that we are in this together — I am in you and you are in me. I want to write you off, I want to cut you down to size. I want to tell you that you cannot be the bride Christ came to save, to tell you that you missed Him already and that He’s moved on to a more authentic love. But I know that you are still the bride, and I know He hasn’t moved on from you. So I’m stuck here, chained to the radiator, loving you under part compulsion and part real tenderness.

You’re still seductively pretty. But for the life of me I can’t figure out what’s happened to you, to your charm and courage and grace under pressure. There’s a mad and hopelessly wonderful jungle around your house, full of danger and opportunity. Why are you trying to burn it down? You used to know that when the people around you were at their angriest and everybody was looking for someone to stone—you would just go walking through them with no weapon but your own fragrant perfume. You didn’t just charm, you disarmed—you could walk through a room and make it go silent save for the clang of swords dropping to the ground. You brought tenderness into the war zone and wine to the party. What happened to you to make you start acting like them—screaming and demanding and posturing?

You still look the same from a distance, but up close I know something is badly wrong.. Something is different this time around. I'm not sure I know who you are. Whenever I’m at denominational meetings, and we are trying to find somebody to blame for our sinking ship…I don’t just see the individuals. I see you in all of your collective horror. I’ve seen your outrage at political rallies, festivities that talk about “values“ without words like “kingdom” or “cross.” I heard your protests when “they” started infringing on our territory (Muslims and Mexicans and lions and tigers and bears, oh my), and you felt like you needed to stand up to them instead of laying down your life for them. I noticed when your rhetoric went from “good news” to yet another kind of paranoid propaganda.

Let’s not be coy here, honey. We’ve lived together for too long, and we know each others secrets and habits and fears. We share ideas and we share clothes, we drink from the same cup. But didn’t you think anybody would notice that your knuckles started getting bloodier than your palms? That the blood on your hands was theirs and not yours?

It’s not that I don’t think you’ve still got answers to give. It’s not that the world outside needs you any less. But right now the chemo seems more toxic than the cancer, baby. We came here to this place to lay down our lives, but the corpses in the back yard are more from our swords than from our crosses.

Do you think me naïve? You think I don’t know there is an enemy to fight? On the contrary, my love, I’ve seen the monsters under the bed. I know that there is a force of evil in the world that is greater than the sum of its parts. I know we’ve got dragons to slay. It’s just that they don’t scare me.

In the words of Bob Dylan, "Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late." So I’ll risk more honesty than can be afforded on an average Sunday: I know the world is a volatile, dangerous place. There is a part of me, cold and scientific, that expects the world to blow itself up. It’s not prophecy; it’s pure arithmetic. We are endlessly creative in finding new ways to conquer and destroy. The more people learn to manipulate chemicals and machines, the worse our chances get.

But if I’m honest, that doesn’t really scare me either. If more war breaks out tomorrow and the rockets red glare becomes nuclear and dirty bombs are bursting in air, and half the creation is maimed—I still believe that the creative power of divine love would rise from the ashes. God already died. Terrorism is not nearly so frightening as blood and water gushing from the side of the Creator, and even that terror of terrors was swept up in resurrection life. I am not afraid of the horrible things human beings might do to me or do to one another.

But I am afraid of you—still a mighty power in the universe, still the world’s great hope. You are still the Church. Nobody has the power to create or destroy quite like you. Sometimes we have seen the world around us exploding, and when we do, we groan with the creation for the restoration that is to come. But what if you go up in flames? What if the salt loses its saltiness? What if you, a once chaste and patient virgin, take the oil from your own lamp, and throw it on someone else’s face—and strike the match? The apostle said that the weapons of your warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God. But you’ve been firing them in the dense fog, you don’t who or what you are aiming at. You’ve been flailing punches instead of turning the other cheek.

God help us, you’ve been beating your plowshares into swords.

You know I’m no cynic—I’ve loved you too long for that. This is love animated by grief. I still believe in you despite all of your vices. You can still dazzle me. You can still dazzle the world, bride of God. But things are feeling as insane in here as they are out there, honey. And I don’t know what else to do except to remind you of the time you were lovely.

Jonathan


Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Real Love Looks Like


Here are the bullets I shared from Paul Tripp's excellent book, What Did You Expect?  This is one of the most helpful books I've ever read on the subject of marriage. 

In Chapter 12 - Ready, Willing and Waiting, Tripp shares a vivid description of what "marital love in action" looks like. I've adapted his list and believe these characteristics will enrich any relationship.  

“Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.” — Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect?, page 188. 

What Real Love Looks Like:

·     Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of another person without impatience or anger…

·     Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental, but instead looking for ways to encourage and praise…

·     Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses…

·     Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing or being right…

·     Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weaknesses and failures and resisting the temptation to offer up excuses, shift the blame or rationalize your sin or mistakes…

·     Love is being unwilling to do what’s wrong when you’ve been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good…

·     Love is being willing to ask for forgiveness when you’ve blown it with a friend and always being committed to granting forgiveness when forgiveness is requested…

·     Love is a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding and active love…

·     Love is treating people with appreciation, respect and grace, even in those moments when they don’t seem to deserve it or are unwilling to reciprocate it…

·     Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt or wound a friend, and weaken a bond of trust…

·     Love is refusing to be self-focused and demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage another individual… 
              
·     Love is admitting to yourself, to others, and to God that you can’t love like this without God’s grace rescuing you, His love transforming you, and His Spirit empowering you…

From What Did YouExpect? by Paul Tripp

Monday, April 1, 2013

Intro to Escape from Zombieland

Here's the intro to a2's new series "Escape from Zombieland." We were really inspired by the movie "Warm Bodies" and even lifted some of the dialogue from the opening scene in that movie for the intro. Thanks to Cody Norton, David Jacks and team for an awesome job!

Escape from Zombieland Intro

Why The Series: Escape from Zombieland?

Escape from Zombieland? Really? On Easter? You've got to be kidding!

No! We're serious. In fact, we're dead serious... (Sorry about that, but it had to be said...)

Seriously, the Bible is blunt and in your face when it comes to our condition. Check out the jpeg below for more of the story...


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Daniel Fast Recipes

DANIEL FAST FRIENDLY RECIPES

For those of you who will be doing the "Daniel Fast" during our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, here are a few "Daniel Fast Friendly" recipes I ran across a few years ago when Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas did this corporate fast.

I thought you may find them helpful. Feel free to add your own recipes in the comments section below.

Thick and Creamy Corn-Potato Soup
6 ears corn (cut off the cob)
6 medium-large red potatoes (chopped in 1/2 inch pieces)
6 carrots (finely chopped)
1 medium-large onion (finely chopped)
2 green peppers (finely chopped)
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons marjoram
3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons pepper
3 32oz. boxes of vegetable broth
Water, as necessary

Put vegetables and spices in a large soup pot. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add broth and maintain a light boil. Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from heat. Blend 3/4 of the soup mixture in a blender in batches. Put blended soup in a large bowl or container until the blending process is complete. Pour the blended soup back into the pot. Add water to thin and obtain the desired consistency. Heat through and serve. Serves 8-10 generously.


Tomato Basil Soup
12 Vine Ripe Tomatoes
1 Package Cherry Tomatoes
2 1/2 Cups Fresh Carrot Juice (or Odwalla available in juice section)
1 Large Ripe Avocado
2 Yellow Onions (chopped)
4 Cloves Garlic (chopped)
5 Stems Fresh Basil
2 Tablespoons Pure Honey
1 Bay Leave
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Cut tomatoes and avocado in quarters and place all ingredients in blender and blend on low speed for one minute. Continue to blend on high for an additional minute until creamy. Pour into large soup bowl or crock pot and cook on medium low for 2 to 3 hours.


Portabello Steaks
6 portabello mushroom caps
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Pure Maple syrup
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon marjoram

Wash mushrooms and place in a gallon size plastic sealable bag. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Add to the mushrooms and marinate for a few hours. Grill indoors or out until cooked through.

Serve with baked sweet potatoes and grilled squash and asparagus.


Grilled VegetablesToss yellow squash, zucchini, and asparagus with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Salt and Pepper to taste. Grill indoors or out until tender.


Baked Sweet Potatoes
Wash sweet potatoes, prick with a fork several times and place in a 400 degree oven for an hour and a half. Less time may be needed if potatoes are small.


Vegetable Barley Soup
Choose your vegetables. Really, anything can work depending upon your taste.

Some possibilities:
3 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped white onion
3 cups chopped carrots
3 cups chopped green/yellow/red pepper
3 cups thin sliced mushrooms
2 cups chopped roma tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
2 32oz. boxes vegetable broth

Use your favorite spices. Some possibilities: 2 cloves garlic, sea salt to taste, 2 teaspoons marjoram flakes, 2 teaspoons oregano flakes, 1 bay leaf and 1 teaspoon parsley. Pour ¼ cup vegetable broth in a soup pot. Add all of the vegetables and saute them until tender. Add the spices and stir to mix. Add the remaining vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and add 1 cup Natural Whole Grain Barley. Boil for 15-20 minutes until the barley is tender.

Serves 6

For thicker soup, just blend 1/2 of the vegetable mixture (prior to putting in the barley) in a blender. Add it back to the soup pot and then add the barley.


Guacamole
Blend ripe avocados in a food processor with juice from 1 large lime, 2 cloves garlic, 1 roma tomato and a dash of salt. If you like spice, you can add 1/4 of a jalapeno pepper seeded.

Serve on black beans, portobello mushrooms or use as a dip with vegetables.


Baked Apples or Pears
Slice a pear or apple in half. Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds and the tough, center portion. Place halves, skin side down, in a glass baking dish. Brush with ½ teaspoon pure maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon. Microwave for 10 minutes or until tender. Serve warm.


The Breaker's Granola
5 cups raw oatmeal
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup slivered raw almonds
1 cup finely chopped cashews
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seed
1 cup finely chopped dry figs
1 cup finely chopped apricots (unsweetened if possible)
1/4 cup chopped coconut
2 cups unsweetened raisins
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Mix together in a large bowl. Keep in tightly sealed container such as tupperware in the pantry. To serve cold, soak 1/2 cup granola in unsweetened plain soy milk for a few minutes. To serve warm, you can prepare with water or unsweetened soy milk in the microwave. Use 1 cup liquid to 1/2 cup granola. Warm for a minute on high or more if desired.

Note: Chop the nuts and fruits in a food processor individually and then add them to the oats.


Gazpacho
6 med. tomatoes, quartered
2 large cucumbers
1 small red onion
1 med. zucchini, chopped
3 med. garlic cloves, smashed
1 med. green bell pepper
Chopped fresh herbs: parsley, basil, chives
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin seed
2 cups vegetable stock or tomato juice

1. In food processor, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, zucchini, garlic, and green pepper and process on high until coarsely chopped.

2. Add herbs, lemon juice, oil, salt, cayenne, and cumin. Process a few more burst. Blend in stock or tomato juice.

3. Transfer to large bowl. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Serves 4. Preparation Time:10 minutes.


Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash
Slice squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon as you would a pumpkin. Then completely submerge both halves in boiling water and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the inside is tender to a fork and pulls apart in strands. (It is better to undercook if you are not sure). Remove, drain, and cool with cold water or an ice bath to stop the cooking. Then use a fork to scrape the cooked squash out of its skin, and at the same time, fluff and separate the squash into spaghetti-like strands. Discard the skin. Reheat the squash strands by dipping with a strainer in boiling water just before serving.

You can also bake the spaghetti squash in the oven. Just scoop seeds out as described above and prick outside skin with a fork. Place skin side up in a baking pan with 1 inch water. Bake 45 minutes or until tender in a 400 degree oven. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes until they can be handled. Scrape with a fork as mentioned above and serve with stir fried sauce.


Stir Fried Sauce
10 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped coarsely
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chopped broccoli florets or 1 package baby spinach
2 teaspoons oregano (powdered or flakes)
Sea salt to taste

Saute mushrooms and onion with garlic and oregano. Add tomatoes and other vegetables. Cook until tender and heated through. Toss in a large bowl with spaghetti squash strands.

Serve hot. 6 servings


Brown Rice with Edamame and Vegetables
2 cups brown rice
4 cups water or vegetable broth
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 package frozen, shelled edamame
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
½ teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic minced
½ cup chopped green onion

Combine orange juice and water/broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add brown rice and bring back to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove lid to let steam escape and set aside.

While rice is cooking, prepare edamame according to package directions but without salt. Drain in a sieve. Saute garlic, cumin, mushroom and carrot just until tender (do not overcook). Put rice in a large bowl and add the edamame and other vegetables. Top with chopped green onion.

Servings:4-6 entrée size

Serve with orange slices and celery sticks.


Cuban Black Beans & Rice with Tomato Salsa
1 package dried black beans
Vegetable broth (1- 32oz. box)
Chili powder
Chipotle powder
2 cloves garlic

Soak beans overnight in water (cover w/2 inches above beans). Drain and rinse beans. Place beans in sauce pan and add vegetable broth. Add water to cover if needed. Add spices and boil for 1 hour and then simmer until tender (follow package direction if available). Prepare brown rice according to package directions.


SalsaRoma Tomatoes quartered
Lime
Cilantro
Green onion (1 bunch)
Chili powder
Cumin
Garlic

In a food processor, chop tomato, cilantro, green onion with chili powder, garlic, cumin and lime juice by pulsing the blade several times to desired texture. We prefer chunky.

Place rice on individual dishes and top with beans and salsa.

Serves: 6 entrée size

Serve with sliced mango and papaya and lime juice.


Toasted Nut Snack
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place raw walnuts, almonds, cashews or other desired nuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly browned. Cool completely and mix in a bowl with unsweetened raisins.

Keep this on the counter for a quick snack.


Honey and Oat Cereal
Prepare Oatmeal with Soy Milk or Water. Sweeten with Honey and a dash of cinnamon.