Hey y’all, I’ve got nine things to run by you this week:
First of all, hello from Birmingham. I’ve been here with Lindsey and the boys since Sunday evening so that I could teach at Beeson Divinity School, the graduate school where I received my master’s degree. My workshop was part of Beeson’s annual Pastor’s School - and it gave me an opportunity to talk about the central importance of the gospel, the role of influence in leading others, and the importance of discipling an entire church. Great to be back in a city that was so formative in my life and instrumental in my relationship with Lindsey.
Second, one of the reasons I spent time discussing discipleship in the local church during my workshop is because I’m working with the other elders to nail down some details about how we build out a culture of discipleship in our church. This is not a short-term programming change but a long-term process of intentionally helping each other follow Jesus. One of my favorite descriptions of discipleship comes from Dallas Willard, who says that discipleship is the process of you becoming what Jesus would look like if Jesus was you.
Third, we’re coming home later today so that Lindsey and I can get away for a couple of days to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We actually got married in June 1998 but our time away this weekend wasn’t because I forgot about our anniversary! It just so happens that Alison Krauss will be in concert at the Classic Center on Friday and we figured this would be a fun way to celebrate.
Fourth, our get away will end at Rachael Mirabella’s wedding on Saturday evening. Rachael was part of our first Protege class and did a remarkable job working with our middle school and high school students, as well as keeping up with a lot of the financial details of the church. We hate to lose her to Charlotte, but we’re more excited for her as she starts her life as Mrs. Brent Boyd.
Fifth, speaking of Protege, Aaron and I are taking our new team up to the mountains for a couple of days next week for our annual retreat. This is a great time to connect with our new team members (Ben Sheppard and Stephen Terry), as well as to cast vision and set expectations for the upcoming year. Pray for us and look for more about the retreat and our Protege initiative in the next couple of weeks.
Fifth, we’ll jump back into Luke on Sunday and talk about how hard it is to trust Jesus when we try to be Jesus and act like we’re the king and savior of our own lives. The text we’re walking through is Luke 11:14-28; an interesting scene that involves demons, strong men, someone called Beelzebul and Jesus talking about how to live the life that we all want.
Sixth, with school just around the corner be looking for details about gathering times during the fall and information about plugging into community groups. I love the relaxed pace of the summer and the opportunity that many of us have to travel, rest, and spend time away from Athens. But more than that, I love having all of our family home and getting another opportunity to bless our city as a family of missionaries who belongs to Jesus.
Seventh, one other thing you’ll hear about in August is the Chick-fil-A® 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament and Family FunZone in downtown Athens on Saturday, August 25th. We’re one of the sponsors for the event and we’re asking you to help us bless our city by volunteering for part of the day. We’ll provide you with additional details on particular volunteer opportunities in the next week or two, or you can sign up to help on the tournament website.
Eighth, make sure you stay connected with us through Twitter and ourblog. While you’re at the blog, check out the post on the Acts 29 Pastors’ Retreat that took place earlier this spring. In addition to pictures and video that gives you a glimpse of what Lindsey and I were part of, you’ll get some numbers about the grace God has extended to us as a league of church planting churches. And again, thank you for your continued generosity to Acts 29 churches across the state and around the world. One cent of every dollar you invested went to this year’s retreat, which is heaven on earth for many of these men and their wives. And thank you to our elders who gave me the time away to rest and relax with Lindsey and to love and encourage these men whom God has called me to serve.
Ninth, if you don’t have a copy of Because of Christ, the album our band recorded this spring, you can buy it on Sunday after our gathering - two days before it goes on sale to the public. Again, I’m proud of Aaron and everyone involved in this project and thankful that we’ll have a musical snapshot of this part of our journey together.