Everyone has seen the devastation from the tornadoes that ripped Tennessee and Alabama.  I have heard from a church in Decatur, Alabama and a church in Birmingham, Alabama.  Both need our help.  We will also be helping people here in Tennessee, as needs are known.  This is a God-sized job.  I’m thankful that we have a God-sized God to help us as we help our neighbors.

MJLifeChurch.tv will be delivering supplies as soon as possible to those that are hurting.  We want to begin taking shipments as early as Monday.  The timing will depend upon how quickly we can gather the list below.

The NEED IS NOW, so the sooner the better.  If you can help and you are in the Middle Tennessee area, we can arrange to pick up the supplies from you if needed or you can bring them to us.  If you are not in the area, you can send a check to:  LifeChurch of Mt. Juliet, P.O. Box 1771, Mount Juliet, TN 37121

If you have questions, call 615-973-4663

Here are the supplies that we are gathering:

  • Feminine products
  • Diapers
  • Baby food
  • Paper Plates
  • Plastic silverware
  • Insulin…other immediately necessary meds
  • Band-Aids
  • Socks
  • Bottled water
  • Chips
  • Juice (individual)
  • Packaged food for distribution
  • Fruit cups
  • Paper towels
  • Kleenex
  • Toilet paper
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I used to think that church was supposed to be a safe place where I would go on Sundays, learn about God, and then go home and be a good boy.

I’ve walked with God a few years now and my views on church have changed a bit.  I’m not sure that I was out of line with the American view of God, but in view of history and the worldwide church, I’ve still got some things to learn.

Many people are willing to call themselves “Christian” and say that they are willing to do ANYTHING for God.  I’ve found that sometimes we’re willing to do “anything” as long as it doesn’t hurt or cost us a lot.

Let’s not focus on all of the other people in America.  As the great theologian, Michael Jackson said, let’s “start with the man in the mirror.”

Craig Groeschel says in his “Weird” series, normal ways of doing things, seeing life, handling money, and trying to get ahead just aren’t working anymore.   If the normal way of doing things isn’t working, it only makes sense to change something.  After all, if we do the same things again this year that we did last year, we get the same results, right?

My view of church has changed.  I now see the church as a safe place (at least in America) to hear a dangerous message.  Why is it dangerous?  Because if we listen to the message that God has for us in the Bible, it is dangerous to our mediocre, normal life.  The message and life of Jesus Christ, if really followed, would look radically different than what we see exhibited in many churches and by many “believers” in America.

If your family and friends don’t think you’re a bit “weird” or different, the reason is probably because you’re just like everyone else.  If you are overcommitted with work and activities and don’t really have any extra time to help with the mission of your church, that’s normal!  If you find yourself always having something come up that prevents you from helping out in that area that you know that God has put on YOUR heart, that’s ok.  Most people aren’t that involved in serving either. .  Just doing a little ministry will help you feel better until next time.  That’s normal.  If you’re tired of your marriage, don’t worry!  Just throw in the towel and start over with someone else.  At least half of the people do that today.  It’s normal.  Just start over

How about finances?  Normal people would never sell their car or even give it away if they felt like God was telling them to do that.  They would figure it couldn’t be God.  It must be that pizza from last night.  You never should have eaten it that late!  God wouldn’t ask you to do something that crazy…. Or would He?

Man-kneeling-in-prayer

My point is this:  When Jesus called the disciples, they made major changes and adjustments in their lives to follow Him.  When God speaks to a believer in Iran, he risks his life to obey.  Ever notice how a new believer in Christ that is on fire for Him is willing to be called “weird” by his family and old friends?  The old friends don’t get it.  They don’t understand some of their decisions.  It’s not normal.  Jesus isn’t normal either.  Even “experienced Christians” wryly smile and say, “He’ll settle down after he is a Christian for a while.”

Maybe we aren’t supposed to “settle down!”  

Why do we HAVE to loose our passion?  Why do we have to become more “civilized” and “socially normal” in following Jesus?

Look at I Corinthians 2:14:

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

 If everyone always understands all that you do and you’re never misunderstood because of your relationship with Jesus, you’re probably “normal.”

If God is not challenging you to make adjustments in your life so that you can follow Him more closely, either you are Jesus (which I know that you’re not) or you aren’t listening.  If we’re never “inconvenienced” and our lives are never interrupted, we may not be following the Master as closely as we think.  Following Jesus isn’t safe.  He was crucified.

What are your thoughts?  Am I out in left field playing basketball?

The story of Bethany Hamilton is an amazing story.  Bethany was only 13 years old when an attack by a Tiger shark left her with only 60% of her blood in her body.  Her left arm was severed in the attack.  Doctors who attended to her after the accident said that her survival was a miracle and attributed it to her strong faith in God, which kept her calm in the middle of the trauma.

2004 Teen Choice Awards red carpet

Right before the attack, Bethany’s youth leader led a devotion based on Jeremiah 29:11.

This verse became a really important verse to Bethany as she attempted to make sense of why God would allow her arm to be2010 Tahiti paddle smile ripped from her body.

Bethany said,

“After the shark attack is when I trusted in God the most…In the movie, they share that one verse: ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’  And that was true.  It inspired me to just keep living and loving and enjoying…”

Padang Padang, Bali 2009

Most assumed that her goals of being a professional surfer were over.  Bethany began to wonder if her competitive surfing days were over too.  She wondered if her life would ever be normal again.  Loosing a limb is hard for anyone….especially for a 13 year old girl with dreams.

Bethany and the movie based on her life so far, “Soul Surfer,” is an inspiration.  Sometimes life is hard and it is hard to know what God is doing or why He allows bad things to happen to people that love Him.  Sometimes we just have to trust Him when we don’t understand.

Why does God let a good and godly dad loose his job?  How can God allow a child to get a terminal disease?  It’s hard, but sometimes we just have to trust God.

In Bethany’s case, her dream to become a professional surfer was realized.  When asked if she would change that day that she was attacked, she said, “No.  If it wasn’t for the attack, I wouldn’t have the millions of people looking to me for influence so I wouldn’t change a thing.”  Wow!  Keep pointing people to Jesus, Bethany!

If you want to be inspired, don’t miss Soul Surfer, the movie.  Guys, we won’t mention the man tear that will be in your eye as you watch.

Normal is out at MJLifeChurch.  We began the series, “Weird,” this past week and we hope that you’ll be going “weird” with us.  What do we mean by “weird?”  Check out this verse:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Weird

One thing in particular that Craig Groeschel said in week one of our new series stands out to me.  “If we want what everyone else has, do what everyone else is doing.  If we want what a few have, do what a few are doing.”  It doesn’t take watching CNN for very long to see that what we’re doing isn’t working as a nation or as individuals.  What most everyone is doing financially, relationally, spiritually, and in just about every other area in their lives isn’t working.

If we want life to work, we have to do something different.  We have to stop thinking and acting like “normal” people.  We have to get “weird!”

Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right… Romans 12:2 NIrV

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out… Romans 12:2 MSG

It doesn’t make sense to walk in faith sometimes.  It’s weird to give your tithe, the FIRST 10% of what you the money that make, to God when we’re in a bad economy.  It’s weird to wait until you are married to have sex.  The world says “if you really love someone it’s ok.”  The world says it’s weird to tell people about God.  They think you’re “judgmental” or “narrow minded” when you really just want them to have a relationship with the King of Kings.

The world probably wouldn’t understand why I would quit my job in Tallahassee, came to Nashville without a job, and started a church.  To some, it didn’t make sense why I spent 10 years in youth ministry, hanging out with a bunch of kids.

We’ve got people at MJLifeChurch.tv that are just plain weird!  Some people:

  • Travel around the country playing music, telling people about Jesus.  Isn’t there more money playing in bars?
  • Go to the Nashville Rescue Mission, feeding the homeless.  Can’t those people just get a job?
  • Volunteer their time EVERY Saturday setting up church when they will just have to tear it down on Sunday and do it again next week.
  • Give the FIRST 10% of EVERY dollar they make to God for His use.
  • Turned down a higher paying job because they had a “feeling” that God didn’t want them to take it.
  • Take their vacation day from work just so they can serve another person that needed them that day.  Aren’t vacation days for going to Florida or at least the lake?

We’re not weird for weird’s sake.  We just see that normal isn’t working and that God has a better way.  If that makes us weird, then so be it.  This world isn’t our home.  We forget that sometimes.

Have you ever been considered weird?  What did you do to deserve that title?