Tuesday, April 5, 2016

God’s Vision for Your Marriage

   “At last!” the man exclaimed.
   “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’”
   24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. —Genesis 2:23-24

If you’ve ever wondered, “What is God’s vision for my marriage?” The last five words of Genesis 2:24 describes it: “…they will become one flesh.” 

God’s vision and plan for marriage has always been two people – a man and a woman – coming together in a relationship where they are completely dependent on Him and completely committed to one another to grow together towards “one-ness” or “becoming one flesh.”   

God’s vision for your marriage has never been for you to just avoid divorce. It has never been for you to, “Just keep the peace! Grin and bear it for the next fifty years, as best you can.”

His vision has always been this incredible and supernatural movement towards “relational one-ness” – towards becoming “one flesh,” and growing in intimacy.

Verse 24 describes the kind of commitment that’s essential if you want this kind of relationship. In the old KJV it translates the phrase, “…a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.” What an incredible picture: “leave” and “cleave.” The ESV translates it, “…hold fast to his wife…” The Hebrew is an expression used for glue that binds objects together.

This is a statement of steadfast, rock solid commitment – not to just peacefully co-existing or barely making it across the “finish line.” It’s a statement about the kind of devotion and commitment in marriage that actually inspires, nourishes, encourages and energizes the people involved.

From the very beginning, God designed us to experience life in the context of committed relationships. His vision for your marriage is that it flourish, that you and your spouse grow in intimacy and “one-ness”, that you become closer and closer to God and closer and closer to one another.

That you have conversations that inspire you to become all He intended for you to become! That you creatively serve one another in love! That you love one another in such a way that you bring out the best in one another. That you lovingly challenge one another to deal with the sin, shortcomings and failures in life.

God’s design is that you love one another in such a way that your relationship becomes a living illustration of the relationship Jesus has with His church! (See Ephesians 5)

What a vision! It’s totally impossible if you’re attempting to “do marriage” in your own strength. It’s entirely possible when the Holy Spirit empowers and transforms you!

I’ll admit: this kind of relationship is never easy. It will always require work! And they’ll never come a day when you get the “marriage job done.” But it’s always worth it! Always!

Want to find out more? Join us for BETTER TOGETHER: Relationship Remix this Sunday at a2 Church.

Monday, March 7, 2016

One Last "Omaha!"

I will miss watching this guy play football! (You can check out his entire retirement speech and press conference here.)

Some of my fondest memories are of Peyton playing for the University of Tennessee. I even had the privilege of taking my two oldest daughters, Chelsea and Caley, to watch him play his last home game as a Tennessee Vol at Neyland Stadium - November 29, 1997 against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Tennessee won 17-10. Almost 107,000 people were there to see that game! 

Peyton was the topic of so many great conversations I had with my Dad, brothers and friends. My dad loved Tennessee football and he loved watching Peyton Manning play it. 

Dad was never a big “pro guy,” but he followed Peyton to the Indianapolis Colts and became a Colts fan. I was living in South Florida during the first part of that time, and so many Sunday night or Monday morning phone calls with my Dad were about what happened at church that day and how Peyton was doing at Indy. Sometimes you would have thought he was a member of the family. 

Dad had always believed that Peyton could get UT to a national championship. It never happened! But a year after Peyton graduated, UT finally won the big game! Dad was ecstatic! Man, I love those memories... 

Then, in 2007,  Dad got to watch Peyton win his first Super Bowl with the Colts! That was the last pro game my Dad would  watch. In August of 2008, he would pass away of brain cancer.  

Today as I watched Peyton's retirement speech, I got a little choked up, too. It’s funny how we get attached to people we’ve never met or known. How somehow, someway, they touch our lives, they become part of our “family,” they become inspiration and motivation. 

I’ve been a Peyton fan since his days at UT, as an Indianapolis Colt and as a Denver Bronco. Man, I’ll miss watching this dude play football. I’ll miss hearing him say, “Omaha!” I’ll miss his clashes with Tom Brady and the nefarious Patriots. I’ll miss his diligence in terms of preparation! I’ll miss his sportsmanship! I'll miss his obvious love for the game!  

I wish Peyton Manning and his wife and family the absolute best! 

Thanks for 22 years of great football! Thanks for your time as a Vol, Colt and Bronco! You made football so much fun to watch!

It is my sincere prayer that the next part of Peyton's adventure continue to enrich the lives of men, women and children, the way watching him on Saturday and Sunday enriched me and my Dad's life. It’s my prayer that he continue to make a difference in the world through his charity work and kindness to people! 

Peyton is truly one of the all time greats! 

We’ll miss watching you play football, but we know that you’ve still got a lot of living yet to do, and still have the chance to make an even greater difference with your life! 

"Football has taught me not to be led by obstructions and setbacks but instead to be led by dreams.” —Peyton Manning

Keep dreaming, Peyton! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Vision-Centered Prayer for a2 Church

Father, I prayer that you would help a2 Church to…

GLORIFY and WORSHIP You lights out - above and over everything (Matthew 22:36-37; Colossians 3:17, 23; Malachi 1:6-14).

CREATE an atmosphere where broken people find healing, weary people find rest, discouraged people find hope, the outcast and loner finds acceptance and every one experiences transformation (Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 61:1-4; Matthew 11:28; Psalm 68:6; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Luke 5:30-32; 15; Matthew 18:14; 28:19-20).

SHARE the life-changing message of the gospel of Jesus with the thousands of un-churched and spiritually disconnected people in the greater Birmingham area (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Romans 1:16). Help us to love unconditionally and share humbly and boldly the story that you are writing in our lives. 

GROW people spiritually through passionate and God-centered worship, persistent prayer, life-related Bible teaching, and life-giving relationships; creating a contagious environment where people grow and become more and more like Jesus (Ephesians 4:22-32; Hebrews 12:1; Philippians 1:6; Romans 12:1-2; Luke 9:23; 2 Peter 3:18; Colossians 4:12).

EQUIP and empower people to make a difference by serving others with the unique gifts, talents and abilities you've given them (Mark 10:45; 1 Corinthians 12, 14; Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4:10).

LOVE, laugh, learn and do life together in unity. (Acts 2:42-47; 1 John 4:7-13)

INSPIRE worship and communicate truth through the creative and compelling use of the arts (Book of Psalms; Psalm19:1; Exodus 31:2; 35:30-35).

PARTNER with parents in leading every child and student into a growing, personal and dynamic relationship with Jesus by creating relevant environments and experiences that meet children and students right where they are… (Deuteronomy 6)

BUILD a “cutting edge” ministry to young adults that will help them “connect” or “reconnect” to Jesus and His church.

BE a thoroughly missional church committed to acting as missionaries in our city and world, supporting career missionaries, sending out hundreds of participants on short-term missions trips/projects and launching at least one new church plant every year… (Matthew 28:19-20)

Father, we trust You to do in and through a2 Church what only You can do! May a2 Church be a growing and thriving "Acts 2, biblically functioning community" (Acts 2:42-47). 

Oh, God, bless a2 Church! Increase our influence! Do something so BIG among us that it completely blows us away! Do something so big that You and You alone get the credit! Do something so big that we stand back in awe and say, "Only God! Only God! Only God!" (1 Chronicles 4:10)


Monday, February 22, 2016

Why I love a2 Church…

It’s messy, but beautiful.

From the top down and the bottom up, a2 Church is filled with messy, broken beautiful people!

The people who attend a2 are sinners. Not just the neat little respectable sins we talk about in polite conversation. I mean old-school, hard-knocks, in-all-caps SINNERS. We’re talking addicts, drunks, gossipers, adulterers, people who struggle with sexual purity, people who have a sexually promiscuous past, people who battle with porn, people who lie, cheat, cuss, sometimes act selfish, sometimes are jealous, and sometimes are even divisive! (And that’s just the leadership team… I’m just kidding… Sort of…)

a2 Church is a messy church! It’s filled with messy, broken people, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

The church Jesus came to launch was never designed to encourage, comfort, entertain, inspire and challenge exclusively “churched,” basically moral, incredibly “neat”,  “we-have-it-all-together” people!

It was never meant to be a monument, social club or museum for the display of perfect people! It was meant to be REAL! it was meant to be a hell-shattering, earth-moving, life-changing, culture-shaping movement that would reach people who are broken, messed-up, jacked-up and share a common problem: distance from God and confusion about God.

The church was meant to be a hospital where hurting, broken, and messed up people could move towards wholeness! (See Luke 15; Matthew 9:10-13)

I love the way John Weirick of NewSpring Church says it:

“Church isn’t a place for perfection, but a place for progress.

“The Church can’t be concerned with maintaining an image of perfection if we want to obey Jesus. Jesus has never been afraid to embrace the controversy of associating with the wrong crowd. (See Luke 5:29-32; 15:1-3)

“The Church was created for imperfect people. It exists to help imperfect people meet Jesus and follow Him step by step. Our imperfections are not projects to fix, but opportunities to see a miracle. Each of us has a story about how Jesus met us in our mess and has been changing us from the inside out.”[1]

Wow! Wow! Wow! I love that!

This doesn’t mean we have to remain stuck in this orbit of regret, failure, sin, habits, hurts, hang-ups and brokenness for the rest of our lives! God loves us just the way we are, but He refuses to leave us there! His agenda is to make us more and more like Jesus! (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 11:1; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 3:13-14)

So, if you’re looking for a perfect or “safe” church, sorry. a2 Church is not it! But if you’re looking for a church where REAL PEOPLE who struggle with REAL PROBLEMS are learning to TRUST JESUS to change us from the inside out, WELCOME HOME!

If you struggle with disappointment, regret, guilt and shame… If you ever feel the gap between who you could be, who you should be and who you really are.. If you are broken, messed-up, jacked-up, and prone to failure… If you are flawed and glaringly imperfect… If you sometimes drift into self-righteousness and pride… Welcome home! a2 Church is the place for you!

a2 Church is a “come as you are,” “no perfect people allowed” kind of community!


Come as you are with your doubts and questions!
Come as you are with your fears and insecurities!
Come as you are with your agnosticism or atheism!
Come as you are with your broken heart and messy life!
Come as you are with your relational pain and problems!
Comes as you are with your addictions, habits, hurts, and hang-ups!
Comes as you are with the divorce that has left you gasping for air!
Come as you are with your financial meltdowns or bankruptcy!
Come as you are with your skin color, social status and identity issues!
Come as you are with your sins, past, struggles, mistakes, imperfections and idiosyncrasies!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re loaded or broke! It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, brown, red or albino! It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a lot of hair, no hair, purple hair or patches of hair!  It doesn’t matter whether you wear nice clothes or lousy clothes (just as long as you wear clothes)…

Come as you are!!!

Why? Because at a2 Church, we’re just crazy enough to believe that God loves and accepts us just the way we are, but loves us so much that He refuses to leave us the way He found us! This is why I love a2 Church!

[1] John Weirick, NewSpring Church Exposed, https://newspring.cc/articles/newspring-church-exposed?utm_content=buffer31147&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer