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July 29, 2014

“Blessed are those who realize their need for God, for theirs is the Kingdom.”  [Matthew 5:3]

 

Before I became a student pastor, I delivered pizza for Domino’s and Pizza Hut. I guess you could say I was a pro. I made more in tips at Domino’s, but preferred getting the free pizza from Pizza Hut. Both companies desperately fought over me as I stirred much controversy in the delivery pizza scene in Nashville. Actually in reality, neither company was that psyched about having me on stuff because of my terrible sense of direction. But since most of the other employees I worked with just as unreliable as me, they were stuck with the Sarge!

 

Since this was before smartphones were much of a thing, I didn’t have GPS at my expense. Instead, I had to depend on a large map that was taped to the wall in the back of the store. It was a little embarassing that I still had to check the map even after several weeks of delivering and driving on the same roads. The other drivers could just look at the address and hop out the door, swiftly delivering the fresh pizza pie in timely fashion.

 

Trying to keep my pride, I found myself skipping the map and just guessing a lot of times with the directions. As a result, I probably got lost about 60% of the time. The only way I could bail myself out was to call the customer and ask them for directions. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard for you to ask for help sometimes. Because that’s admitting that you can’t do it on your own…that you’re inadequate. So maybe like me, you just try to figure it out.

 

In order for us to be used by God though, it starts with us realizing how much we really need him and that we are completely lost without him. It starts with us recognizing that we will always fall short, but God will always reach down and pull us up. If we let him!

 

Personal Application – On a scale from 1 to 10, how dependent are you on God right now? Highlight the area in your life that you most struggle to ask God for help. This is probably where you need him the most!

 

Family Application – Ask your family/ friends the same question. Take a few minutes and share if there are any ways that you can better support one another this week.

 

Written by Stephen :)

 

On a scale from 1-10, how dependent are you on God right now?

Chubby, Male, Baseball Fail

July 28, 2014

“Both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.”  [Romans 3:10]

 

I need to be honest with you. I’m a terrible baseball player. Awful. As in, the average 4th grader playing in their rookie season could probably whoop me right now in a straight up one-on-one match (not sure how you play one-on-one baseball). I’m basing all of this off of one season that I played when I was in 2nd grade. Within the first few weeks, I could tell I was not a natural. My brother, who was also a rookie, picked up on things like catching and batting much quicker than me. I, however, picked up on water breaks and the Post-Game Dr. Pepper  much quicker than he did.

 

As Christ followers, it’s important that we’re honest with ourselves. We need to know what we’re bad at and what we tend to fail at. We need to know where we are broken and messed up. Culture tells us to hide our weaknesses and just focus on what we’re good at; what we’ll excel at. The danger there, though, is that we can start to convince ourselves that we can do it on our own…that we don’t need God.

 

But we do! We need God big time. Because we are all broken and messed. Yeah, I’m a bad baseball player. But I’m also a pretty retched sinner. I’m really impatient. I’m selfish. I think I’m more capable than I actually am. I try to fight it on my own a lot, only to be reminded that I can’t. I need God to give me the power to fight against my sin and overcome my struggles.

 

In order to do that though, I need to be honest with myself. Where am I messing up?

 

Personal Application – Let’s be honest. Where do you need God right now? Spiritually, what are you bad at? What are you struggling with right now?We all have an answer for this one. First of all, repent. Ask God to forgive you. Then pray for strength to stay focused on Him today.

 

Family Application – Ask a close friend or family member this same question. Use today as an opportunity to be accountable with the close relationships in your life.

 

Written by Stephen :)

 

Let’s be honest. Where do you need God right now?

Lonely Illini Fan

July 25, 2014

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” [1 Peter 2:9]

 

I know that many of you are Texas Longhorns fans, which I appreciate and respect. Though historically I am no ‘Horns fan, I do believe in inheriting the fandomship (not a real word) of the teams in which God has called me to live. I grew up as a University of Illinois Fighting Illini fan because of family ties. Living most of my life in Tennessee and now in Texas, I’ve always been a minority in that fact. It’s incredibly rare to come across a fellow Fighting Illini fan in Austin. We are a minority, but that’s okay. Stay strong, fellow Illini fans! Solidarity!

 

At some point in your life, I’m sure you’ve experienced what it’s like to be a minority of some sort. Whether it’s as the sole fan of your favorite team or being the only person in your family to like egg nog, we’ve all been there. We’ve all had to be a one-person army at some point. It’s never fun and usually incredible difficult because you don’t have the mutual support or unity that you may be used to. But it’s inevitable at different points in life.

 

As Christ followers, we are a holy nation, set apart from the rest of the world as minorities. As Christians living in a nation that is increasingly less Christian every year, it’s important for us to remember that there will be many times when following Christ is the unpopular choice. It’s important for us to anticipate that our standards of living and perspectives towards the world are going to be different from most of the world around us.

 

We will be spiritual minorities in this world. Christ followers have always been minorities throughout history. And that’s okay. Stay strong. You aren’t alone.

 

Personal Application - Which of your Christian friends needs reminding that they aren’t alone today? Maybe they are lonely or hurting or frustrated and just need another Christ follower to remind them that they aren’t alone.

Home Application - Spend a few minutes in prayer with family/ friends today. Prayer is one of the best reminders that we are all united in Christ.

 

Written by Stephen Sargent :)

Which of your Christian friends needs reminding that they aren’t alone today?

 

Different! Different! Different!

July 24, 2014

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory .” [Isaiah 6:3]

 

You ever seen an Aye-Aye before? It’s like this weird bat-ferrit looking thing. Google it real quick and meditate on its unattractiveness. (Pause to let you google it…) 

 

No offense if you have one as a pet, but those things are creepy! They are one of the most unusual looking animals I’ve ever seen. When I look at a dog, I think…that’s a pretty dog. I would like to pet him/ her right now. But when I look at an Aye aye, I think…what happened to that thing?!  I can’t help but marvel in how different they look from anything else I’ve ever seen before. It’s hard to describe what it looks like because it’s so unique and rare. It’s hard to even put it into words.

 

That’s sort of like what is going on in this passage of Isaiah. The Seraphs are trying to describe God’s glory as they are looking at it, but it is so different from anything they’ve ever seen before. God’s face is so powerful and beautiful that the only word they can come up with to describe him is “Holy!”…which literally means different. So as these floating creatures are staring at God, they are basically shouting out “Different! Different! Different!” Why? Because God is so different from anything they’d ever seen before or anything we would ever see on earth.

 

God calls us to lead holy lives while we are here on earth. In other words, he wants our lives to look really different from the world around us. When people see our lives, God wants them to describe them as different because we are living lives focused on chasing after His will and being set apart from the sin of this world.

 

Lead a holy life. Lead a different life! May you inspired by the wonderful Aye Aye in all of his/her/it’s different ways!

 

Personal Application - When people look at your life, would they describe it as different from the non-believers around you? Why or why not? What part of your life do you resemble the world too much?

Home Application - Today may be a great day to have a discussion with your family and friends about being okay with standing out from those around us if it brings glory to God. Most times when we are obedient to God, we will stand out. And that’s great!

 

Written by Stephen :)

When people look at your life, would they describe it as different from the non-believers around you? 

 

More Wonton Soup?!

July 23, 2014

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28]

 

We all dig Chinese buffets. Even if you won’t admit that you do, you really do. The idea of endless Chinese cuisine at your fingertips is the American dream. The beauty of such establishments is that you get to eat exclusively what you love and as much of it as you want. Want more wonton soup? You got it! And then when you’re completely full, you go back for one more round. That’s my drill right there.

 

What I love about Chinese buffets is that you’ll never walk away hungry. No matter how hungry and weak you are when you walk in, you will walk out full and satisfied. Well, sometimes ‘satisfied’ isn’t quite the word to describe how your stomach feels after such a venture. But you definitely aren’t hungry. That’s for sure. All your hunger needs are met because you can keep going back for more until you’re full.

 

The Holy Spirit is a buffet that is offered to us every day. No matter how hungry, weak, or broken we are, we can come to the Holy Spirit and he will fill us up. No matter what pain you are going through, the Holy Spirit has a way of healing us. You can go back to the Holy Spirit for as many rounds as you want. In fact, part of the beauty of the Holy Spirit is that you can never get too much. He is always ready to fill you up. Instead of sesame chicken and crab rangoon, the Holy Spirit’s food is the Word of God. You can dive in and spend as much time there as you want. Make sure you stay in there long enough for the Holy Spirit to satisfy your hunger though. Remember, there’s no rush. It’s all you can eat!

 

So grab a plate and dive into God’s Word. The Holy Spirit is ready to fix that spiritual hunger inside of you.

 

Personal Application - Where are you weary and heavy laden today? Bring it to the Lord and let him satisfy your hunger and give you rest.

Home Application - Ask your family and friends the same question. Spend a few minutes in prayer together today.

 

Written by Stephen :)

Where are you weary and heavy laden today?

 

Abandoned Garage Game Show

July 22, 2014

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” [Acts 1:8]

 

I used to make movies in high school with my friends. I’d write the script, cast my friends to be the actors, schedule the filming dates, then edit it in a few days, and have a big premiere with all of my friends after it was finished. One of the movies we made was about a guy who wanted to produce a brand-new game show. For filming, we created a whole movie set in the back of my garage. It was a huge garage that was mostly used for storage, so we cleared out a large chunk of it and hung up sheets for the backdrop. We even had a fluorescent light hung over it for filming. We had to use a special outlet on the side of the wall in order to get the light on while we filmed.

 

I’m pretty sure my family hasn’t used that back-of-the-garage outlet once since we filmed that movie over 13 years ago. Even though it’s there and ready to provide power, we’ve plugged nothing into it in years.

 

Many times, that’s how the Holy Spirit is in our lives. He’s this unused power source sitting there, ready and waiting for us to plug in. He’s fully capable of bringing power into every area of our life if we just plug in, but we don’t bother a whole lot. When we do, it’s awesome! He lights up our life and exciting things happen. But then life gets busy or we think we can do it on our own, and we just try to work off our own power. So there he sits, just like that outlet in the back of my garage.

 

Don’t make that mistake. Plug into the Holy Spirit and let him power you up for the day. You can plug in as long as you’d like and you’ll never even get an electrical bill. Sweet!

 

Personal Application - What areas of your life do you need a recharge of the Holy Spirit’s power right now? Take a few minutes and just get quiet before God so he can recharge you.

Home Application - Ask your family and friends what areas of your life you can pray for a renewed sense of power for them today. Then…pray over them!  

Written by Stephen :)

Take a few minutes and just get quiet before God so he can recharge you.

 

Nominations are in!

July 21, 2014

On Sunday night, July 20, the final names of folks nominated to serve on our Pastor Search Team were received and the nominating process has concluded.  Over 150 nomination forms were received, and on them several hundred BBC members have been nominated to serve on the team.  The Nominating Team will begin the process of vetting these nominees, with a goal of Bannockburn voting on the final selection of Pastor Search Team members on August 24.

Not every person nominated will show up on the final ballot.  Nominees may not be on the ballot because…

  • they were nominated by a non-member
  • the person nominated forgot to sign their name to their nomination form
  • the person does not qualify to serve based on the Pastor Search Team qualifications
  • the person does not wish to be included on the ballot

The process for getting us from this point to announcing who the Pastor Search Team will be will go as follows…journey 1

  • July 20… Collection of all nomination forms and end of nominating process
  • July 23… Thank you postcards and vetting of NOMINATORS from our Nominating Team Members
  • July 23… First Vetting of Nominations to make sure each are members of BBC for 3 years and are at least 21 years of age.
  • July 24-July 29… Second Vetting of Nominations for verification of giving and growth group/worship attendance and Executive Pastoral Review
  • July 30-August 12… Third Vetting of Nominations.  The Nominating Team reviews the list so far, contact nominees who are qualified to see if they are willing to serve, and asks for permission to run a background check.
  • August 13… Finalization of all valid nominations to create final list of those who will be voted on.
  • August 14-19… Ballot Creation and printing by BBC Communications staff
  • August 20-22… Absentee Voting.  Any member who would like to vote but cannot be here on Sunday, August 24 can come to any of our campuses to vote in person and cast their ballot on these three days.  To vote at the South Austin campus you must do so during normal office hours (8:30am-5pm).  Dripping Springs and Manor members can arrange a time to meet their Campus Pastor at their church site.
  • August 24 (am)… There will be a called Business Meeting on all 3 campuses for official voting.  Trustees and Nominating Team Members will be on each of our three campuses to conduct the meetings where votes will be cast.
  • August 24 (pm)… The Nominating Team will gather on Sunday evening to officially count the ballots and identify the 7 members and two alternates who will make up our Pastor Search Team.  They will call to confirm their acceptance on the Pastor Search Team to finalize the voting.
  • August 25-August 31… As soon as Pastor Search Team members are confirmed, a church wide email will go out announcing the team members.  This will also be done through a posting on our website.  On Sunday, August 31, the team members will be formally introduced to all three campuses and a special time of prayer for these members and their work will take place.

Continue to pray for the JOURNEY as we take these next steps with skill and integrity.

Robin! Samwise! Tonto!

July 21, 2014

“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” [John 16:7]

 

Batman had Robin.
Frodo had Samwise.
LeBron had Dwayne Wade.
The Lone Ranger even had Tonto!

 

Many people that we consider to be great (whether real or fictional) had sidekicks to help further their mission and make them better at what they did. The sidekicks had their back. They were there to punch the bad guy behind them. Or clarify confusion. Or give them the assist before the dunk. These heroes would have been heroes if it weren’t for their sidekicks. Imagine if they had abandoned their sidekicks and tried to do it on their own. They probably would’ve failed. Not because they were incapable of doing great things. But rather, their sidekicks made them more effective. Their sidekicks enabled them to have certain abilities and powers they wouldn’t have been able to have on their own.

 

The Holy Spirit is our sidekick. He is the one that God sent to walk alongside us as we attempt to live out the mission of bringing the world to know Christ’s love. The Holy Spirit is way better than Tonto though, because he will never lead our side or let us down…And he won’t try to make lame jokes either. The Holy Spirit trumps Robin, Wade or Samwise too because he gives us courage, boldness, and a renewed spirit of love. Can Samwise do that?!

 

If we try to live out our mission without the help of the Holy Spirit (our sidekick), we will surely fall short. So lean in and let the Holy Spirit have your back!

 

Personal Application - On a scale from 1 to 10, how much did you depend on the Holy Spirit’s help this past week? What can you do to bring that number up this week?

Home Application - Ask your family and friends the same question. Challenge each other to be accountable this week to be more dependent on the Holy Spirit for strength, power and renewed faith.

 

Written by Stephen :)

On a scale from 1 to 10, how much did you depend on the Holy Spirit’s help this past week?

The Lawnmower Gospel

July 18, 2014

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”    [1Kings 19:11-13]            

Growing up with a 2-acre yard in Tennessee, I spent a lot of time mowing my lawn. The way our yard was set up required me to spend around 2 hours on the riding mower, then get out the push mower for the hilly parts on the side. I didn’t mind doing it though. I just popped in some 90’s pop in my Sony Discman and cut like a mad man. What made the job easy was being able to see the lines between what has been cut and what needs to be cut. It was always easy to tell where I need to cut next because I can see my progress with each step of the way. 

Lots of times, that’s how we expect the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. We want to see the progress every step of the way. We want to be able to look back and see the path that he is taking us on so that we know where to head from there. But rarely does the Holy Spirit work like that.

Most times, the Holy Spirit works quietly and patiently over time.

Just because we can’t see the lines of progress that the Holy Spirit is taking in our lives doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Just because we can’t tell the path that the Holy Spirit is leading us doesn’t mean there’s not one. The Holy Spirit is always at work in your life. Many times he works quietly and softly. Many times, he is not in the fire of our lives. He’s in the silence and whispers.

Personal Application – What’s something that you’ve prayed for that you see God answering or has already answered in your life? Take time to reflect on how the Holy Spirit is at work through you right now.

Family Application – Have a discussion with your friends/ family about how the Holy Spirit is working in your lives. Take time to thank God for it!

What’s a prayer God is answering in your life right now?

Mistaken Identity

July 17, 2014

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”             [John 14:16-17]

Some of the greatest movies of all time revolve around the concept of mistaken identity. The main character is confused for someone else and the drama begins. We see it with classics dating back to North by Northwest (fantastic film) all the way up to The Goonies and Enchanted. These stories always have a way of unfolding in an interesting way. Sometimes I even get mistaken for someone else. One time a lady mistook me for a talented musician. Ha! She was way wrong.

Many times, we mistake the Holy Spirit as being something different from what he actually is. Some of you may have grown up in a church that calls him the ‘Holy Ghost’. It causes us to think of the Holy Spirit as being this mystical, ghost-like figure that floats around the room like something out of a Halloween movie. The problem is, that is not at all what the Holy Spirit actually is. There’s nothing wrong with calling the Holy Spirit the ‘Holy Ghost’ by any means. However, if it causes us to develop an inaccurate perception of who the Holy Spirit actually is, then we need to be careful. When Jesus describes the Holy Spirit in the verses above, notice how he describes it. He uses ‘him’ and ‘he’ several times.

Jesus reminds us here that the Holy Spirit is a person, not just a spirit. It’s easy to mistake the identity of the Holy Spirit as being some type of allusive figurine that we have nothing in common with. But Jesus points out that Holy Spirit is a person and an advocate that God has given us to enable us and encourage us.

Personal Application – Do you ever spend time learning more about the Holy Spirit and how you can grow closer to him? The more you learn about the Holy Spirit, the more you can tap into God’s power.

Family Application – Have a discussion with your friends/ family about the Holy Spirit. See if their descriptions align with Jesus’ description.

Do you ever spend time learning more about the Holy Spirit?

 

Today’s devo written by Stephen Sargent

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