Christians all over the globe will observe Ash Wendesday today. The season of Lent is here, marking the advent of Spring. There has been some discussion regarding Lent and how we are to participate in it. Here is what I'm doing.

I'm going to subtract something.
Lent is a season of fasting. People who can't find Malachi in the bible know to ask, "What are you giving up for Lent?" I think the idea of Lenten disciplines is a good idea if practiced with the right attitude. Giving up some normal activity is intented to prompt us to seek God. I'm going to subtract something from my normal routine and No I'm not going to tell you what it is.

I'm going to add something.
I am going to participate in some special activities during the season. On Monday's (beginning March 2) I'm going to come to the Brown Bag Bible study @ FBC Meridian. Dr. Adkins will walk us through some important passages of scripture during the lunch hour. You still have time to sign up @ www.fbcmeridian.org. I am also going to participate in the Downtown Church Association's Lenten Services. Here is the schedule if you want to participate -

March 5th Host Church Centeral UMC/St. Paul's Episcopal @ Central Preacher Matt Snowden
March 12th Host Church New Wine Ministries Preacher Tom Sikes
March 19th Host Church FBC Preacher Amy Roller
March 26th Host Church St. Patrick Preacher Terrence Roberts
April 2nd Host Church First Christian Preacher Lenin Vargas

I hope you will join me in observing Lent this year. God will use it to prepare you to fully celebrate Easter!

Associations Either/Or and Both/And

I have been asked to serve on the search committee for the new Associational Mission Director for the Lauderdale Baptist Association. I've thought more about Baptist associations over the last few weeks than the last few years. I believe that associations can serve as positive catalysts for the Kingdom of God but they must be aware of the change in time and climate. I read Paul Stripling's book, "Turning Points in the History of Baptist Associations in America", this morning and appreciate his good work. There was a quote in there that I think is important. Well, it was one quote among many. Here it goes -

"Without doubt, the increased emphasis on the local church as being God's primary agent of mission is having a profound effect on all denominational organizations. As more churches take on direct mission efforts, traditional cooperative methodologies may lose their importance. The current trend is for churches to self-direct mission money and work through their church with less reliance on other denominational groups. Efforts by denominational entities to fight this trend may result in undermining a foundational Baptist value that denominational entities support the local church, not vice versa. The leverage point is to show how associations can help the local church achieve its mission goals with both/and thinking rather than either/or thinking."

Sent Session 5 Group Discussion Questions

Thank you for being part of Sent over the past few weeks. I have had a wonderful time and believe that many of you did. Let's pray that God will use the time we shared to stir the heart of our congregation.

Who is koinonia to you?

Why do you think we struggle so much to look outside ourselves?

So what, if anything, can move us out of ourselves?

What is the best way to begin a conversation about Christ? What is the worst way?

Is it disingenuous to enter into a relationship with people in order to share Christ with them?

How can you maintain the integrity of a relationship and still be authentic about sharing Christ.

Christ Church Community

We are called to honor Christ, be His church, and serve the community He died to save. This, I think, is the core of the missional life. Lester Reeves believed this too. I often think of something I heard him say in an old tape recorded sermon. Reeves said,

"Any church that honors Christ as its head will do some good in a community."

'd sure like to do some good. Think about it!

Sent: Session 4 Group Discussion ?s

1.How is it possible to live by John 3:16 and 1 John 2:15?

2. Which one is easier to do?

3. What are some practical ways you can bump into more non-Christians?

4. Why is this important? Why is it difficult?

5. Do we love our preferences more than the people who are dying to connect with a God who loves them (This is one of those gut-check questions).

6. Do you agree with this statement - "Too many churches have chosen their traditions over their children. They've chosen their present comfort over their future." Why or Why not

Current Reading

My copy of Roger Olson's book on The Shack just came in and I plan on reading it sometime this weekend. Many of my friends have read The Shack so I read it. I even saw a tough looking Sheriff's deputy reading it in the court house yesterday. The book is viral. I had Roger Olson at Truett and I appreciate his love for God and the church. I'm looking forward to his take on things.

The Temple in Thine Heart

"Whereas it was in thine heart to build a house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart." I Kings 8:18

My friend Joe suggested I check out a collection of old sermons by Clovis G. Chappell titled, "Familiar Failures." The book was published in 1928 when Chappell was the pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Memphis. Joe is a neat guy so I got the book and began to read.

Chappell had a sermon in the collection called, "The Successful Failure." It was based on the story of David and his desire to build a Temple for the Name. He was not allowed to do this but God affirmed the desire in his heart. Chappell wrote -

"He measures us not by our achievements, but by our longings to achieve. He judges us not by what we have in our hands, but by what we have in our hearts. He crowns us not for the great task that we have acctually accomplished, but for the great task that we long to accomplish."

Falling short of a great goal is not a bad thing. How have I sinned by refusing to dream? I have asked myself, "Is there a Temple in my heart?" What about you?

Sent - Session 3 Group Discussion ?s

1. How do you define "church"? What factors from your past have led you to that definition?

2. How do you think a church can find an appropriate balance of providing ministry to its members and focusing outward?

3. What about you? Do you think you have a balance in your own life with these two elements?

4. How well do you understand your spiritual gifts?

5. What practical steps can you take to exercise your God-given gifts?

6. What is the mission of the individual as a member of the body and bride of Christ?

Becoming an Orchard: Missional Christianity in Northeast Mississippi

A mystery friend left a copy of this article in my office box yesterday. It comes from the Tupelo paper. I thought it was interesting and think you will. It deals with some of the issues we've been exploring during Sent. http://www.individual.com/story.php?story=95629391
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