Directions – ISIS and Jesus …

Since I have lived in Sumter, war is not theoretical to me.  Every time our country faces a threat, my neighbors, my friends, and my fellow Christ followers answer the call.  Once again a threat has arisen from a group that calls itself ISIS or ISIL.  The stated goal of ISIS is to form an Islamic state, to restore a Caliph who is a worthy successor to Mohammed, and to force adherence to Islamic jurisprudence.  This week military strikes were launched against ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Jesus did not come to start a country.  He resisted every effort to make king.  When Pilate asked him if he was a king, he declared that his kingdom was not of this world.  His kingdom would not be about control, taxes, laws, policy, and edicts.  His Kingdom would be a movement that started in human hearts and would command allegiance to change the world.

Jesus did not appoint a successor.  Instead, he gave a mission to everyone who would follow him.  The mission would start with openness:  they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.  Then they would carry out their mission – to tell what they had seen and heard.  They were to be Jesus to dark and broken world.  Every one of his followers is his successor.

Jesus did not get caught up in enforcement of a code or a law.  He set standards to be sure, but he recognized that what went on in a person’s heart mattered more than their conduct.  So he taught us to aim for inner transformation – which only he could do.

Jesus followers have not always gotten this right.  We have lusted after power – sometimes with armies arrayed against each other and sometimes with small factions facing off in a church conference.  We have fought over who is going to in control and who is going to have power.  Legalism is a comforting temptation; it reduces relationship with Jesus to rules about Jesus.  We have not room for self-righteousness.  But do not blame our Savior for the failing of his followers.

From time to time, people say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe.  All religions are the same.”  No thoughtful person can make this statement with integrity.  What is true is the way you believe governs your conduct.  For ISIS, its beliefs have led to war and terror.  For Jesus followers, our beliefs led to His Kingdom, where one of the values is to love your enemies.

I pray for our country, for our leaders to be wise.  I pray for our soldiers, my friends and neighbors, for their protection and safety.   But in my prayers, I also remember to pray for my enemies.  Jesus died for them too.

Grace Clay

Tuesday Celebrations – 9/23/14

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  The family that submits to Jesus serves each other.

This Sunday:  Lord’s Supper and how family and work relate.

40 Days of Community begins Oct. 12th!  Our prayer – people will find the connections God has for them.


The leaves are beginning to fall, and soon only two things will be hanging from the trees: the last leaf and the first football coach.

Directions 9/18/2014 – Forty Days of Community …

40 Days of Community begins October 12th.  This is a seven week focus on Knowing Real Community together.   It caps our year of learning to love each other like Jesus.

Why are we doing this?  When God made man, His first observation was “It is not good for man to be alone.”  We were made for relationships.  That’s why God made woman, and gave man and woman a family.

But all our families are broken.  So Jesus came to die for our sins and to be resurrected so we could have the power for a new life.   Part of the new life is to have a new family, called church.  In this new family, we love each other like Jesus loves us:  giving grace, forgiving, encouraging, empowering each other.  This means all can be part of this new family, whether married or single, widowed or divorced, parents or not parents.

Like every family, we have to learn how to be what God has created us to be.  That’s why we talked this year about Pursuing God (the 1); Being Together (+12); and Being Real (+3).  All this equals Church (=C).

To be church means we know each other, we invite others to share in this family joy, we serve together, we give together, and we celebrate together.  In short, we do life together.

So why are focusing on something we should be doing all the time?  Gary Thomas told us the story of John Wooden, the greatest college basketball coach of all time.  Coach Wooden began the first practice of every season by instructing his players on the proper way to put on your socks.  Most teams didn’t do this.  Those teams didn’t win 10 NCAA championships.  Coach Wooden knew the importance of the fundamentals.  If your feet hurt, you don’t play well.

40 Days of Community is a chance for us to review the fundamentals, to remind ourselves we are family, and to dedicate ourselves to being real community, loving each other like family.



Tuesday Celebrations 9/16/2014

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  The family that perseveres leaves an amazing legacy!  Thanks Gary Thomas!

Rejoice!  Our Students Ministry packed 125,000 pills for Honduras!  Thanks Stan Allen and Kassie Blanchette for great planning and leadership.  Special thanks to Dan Tindall who coordinates this partnership!

40 Days of Community begins Oct. 12th!


John Elway – “I normally run the 40-yard dash in 4.9, but when a 280-pound guy is chasing me, I run it in 4.6.”

Directions 9/11/14

Where I Worship…


I attended a worship conference last week with our worship team in Orlando last week.  We heard some amazing Christian groups share their songs.  I have to admit – I didn’t like some of the songs; but I did like some of the songs very much.  Some of the songs felt like God spoke straight to me.


Have you had that moment, that moment when it feels like God is speaking straight to you?


I had a moment like that during the conference walking around a lake one morning.  The sun was sending out streaks of light from behind soft blue clouds.  God whispered, “See the beauty I can create.”


Orlando is only 60 miles from the ranch.  While I was in the neighborhood, I made the trip home.  Seeing the cows in grass up to their bellies – I was reminded of the goodness of God in the world, that He makes the grass the cows eat, and the cows make the steak I eat.  Steak is one of God’s good gifts.


I went into the ranch house and caught a smell from my childhood.  My sister made guava jelly (of which 12 precious jars are now in my possession) and that sweet guava fragrance perfumed the house.  You don’t know it, but heaven will smell like guavas.  I thought about how good God is to make something that smells so wonderful.


Gary Thomas, who will be with us this Sunday and Monday, wrote a book called Sacred Pathways.  He identifies nine common paths people use to love God:

  1. Loving God through nature – being in beautiful creation.
  2. Loving God through your senses – appreciation for what you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch.
  3. Loving God through traditions – rituals and symbols invested with meaning.
  4. Loving God through solitude and simplicity – being alone with Him.
  5. Loving God through confrontation – standing up for justice and the least of these.
  6. Loving God through loving others – being with others because you see Jesus in them.
  7. Loving God through mystery and celebration – being in awe of His greatness and celebrating His uniqueness.
  8. Loving God through adoration – speaking and singing praise to Him.
  9. Loving God with your mind – understanding the mysteries of His ways and thoughts.


Which way is the right way?  It depends on who God made you to be.  Some of these come very naturally to me; others require some discomfort.  No matter how God wired you, respect all the ways people love God; and make sure you love Him in all ways possible.


Not so long ago, people would ask, “Where do you worship?”  It was taken for granted that you worshiped somewhere.  There was wisdom in that old question – everyone worships somewhere, something, or someone. 


Where do I worship?  My goal is to worship God, to love Him, in every place He leads me.  Open your eyes; He is there, waiting for your love.







Tuesday Celebrations – 9/9/14

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  I will love you like Jesus because I love Jesus.

Rejoice!  27 baptized at the Lake and our 1st anniversary of Monday night worship!

Gary Thomas is with us this Sunday and Monday.  You don’t want to miss him!


“Adrenaline is available in only limited quantities, but the Holy Spirit is like a well that overflows and never runs dry.”

  • Brady Boyd


Directions: The Best Husband I Ever Knew…


The best husband I ever knew married his bride, though he was well aware of her flaws.  Love changes the way you see a person.


The best husband I ever knew gives his bride a lot of grace.  When she makes mistakes, he forgives her and gives her another chance.  And another.  And another.  When his bride forgets to check in, when she lies about where she has been, when she avoids him – he waits patiently.


The best husband I ever knew keeps pointing his bride in a different direction.  The direction doesn’t always seem right to the bride, but the husband waits patiently for her to make up her mind, and then walks with her toward a new challenge, toward a new hope.


The best husband I ever knew makes his bride prettier than she really is.  Somehow, when he is with her, she has a glow she never had before.  It is like he is transferring some of his good looks to her.  I’m not sure how he does it; I’m only sure that when she is with him, she is much more attractive.


The best husband I ever knew never left his bride alone.  When he had to be absent, his Spirit seemed to stay with his bride.  She only needed to pause and remember him – it was like he was still there.


The best husband I ever knew listens to his bride.  He listens to her when she makes no sense, when she rants and raves, when she makes unreasonable demands and calls into question his love.  He does not react as she pours out raw emotion.  Sometimes he says nothing back; he is just there.


The best husband I ever knew isn’t a dictator.  He has definite ideas about his family: what they should do; the values that should guide them; the mission for them.  But he seems to know that enforcing these brings hollow action with no passion.  So he gives great latitude.  His family often gets it wrong.  But when they get it right, it is glorious, passionate living.


The best husband I ever knew is incredibly faithful.  He promises his bride that he will never leave her, never forsake her.  All through their long marriage, he hasn’t.


The best husband I ever knew, ironically, never had what we would call a traditional marriage.  In fact, the real wedding hasn’t happened yet.  But husband is patient; he’s waiting for just the right time – when time finally stands still.


The best husband I’ve ever known is Jesus.  The church is his bride.  He loves us so deeply, he gives his life – before, during, and after the cross – for us.


As a man, it’s little uncomfortable thinking about Jesus being the husband and me being the bride.  Like, really unsettling. 


But then he looks me in the heart and say, “You love your wife like I love mine.”  Suddenly, I wonder if I am man enough.

To all the husbands out there – are you man enough to love your wife like Jesus loves his?









Tuesday Celebrations – 9/2/2014

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big thought from Sunday/Monday:  Submission is a gift I give to you – because when I submit, I am like Jesus.

Don’t miss the launch of Student Ministry, Children’s Ministry, and FISH Classes this Wednesday night.  Family Fellowship meal starts at 5:15.

Gary Thomas is with us September 14/15!  Invite a friend!


For all the Clemson and Carolina fans – weekends like this  makes you wish you were a Florida Gator – our game got rained out, so we are still undefeated!