Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Horizon Church of Towson

I am in Houston this week for a wedding. I notice that once people find out that I am on staff at a church they want to know more. They want to know what my "position" is. Most people don't understand using the word "staff" to describe what I do. When I say I am the one who gets paid to be a Christian they still don't understand. If there is time, then I go into my rant about how all small group leaders at Horizon are our "pastors" and that I am the "pastor" who gets paid full-time. If they are not that interested, then when they ask if I am "the pastor," I just reluctantly say "yes."

The other thing they want to know is what kind of church we are. I explain that we are a church plant off of a church plant. I mention that our core age range is from about 18-35 and that we are growing both older and younger as we mature as a church. They want to know what large Christian body planted us. So I go into the fact that early on we started with Baptist money but have since distanced ourselves from them. I tell them about the variety of denominational backgrounds that we have represented in our community. I usually end up using words like "multi-denominational" or "non-denominational" to help the other person understand our diversity.

But I notice that when I say things like, "we are inclusive of many Christian traditions" or "we try to be relevant to this culture" I get funny looks. It gets even scarier if I use words like "emergent" or "emerging church." Whether the other person really knows what these words mean or not isn't the point. The point is that they have been told by their pastor that any church that attaches these words to themselves is "bad" or "too liberal" or "water down the gospel." And this, of course, is not at all true of Horizon. So sometimes I hesitate to use these words to people who don't know any better.

So now I am thinking through some better ways to describe Horizon Church. And something hit me when I was watching an iPhone commercial. It reminded me of Horizon. Allow me to pull out some SAT analogies. [Horizon Church is to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the iPhone is to the internet.] Here is what I mean.

In the commercial the guy says that with the iPhone you don't have to settle for a "mobile-phone version" of the internet or a "scaled down version" of the internet. What you get with the iPhone is the actual internet. The internet on the iPhone works the same as the internet on your computer. They don't have to shrink down the internet to make it work on this phone. On other phones they do. But not the iPhone. And the cool part is that the iPhone is so much more mobile, innovative and user-friendly than most computers. So you get the same internet, but the platform is just more up-to-date ... more relevant.

This is how it is with Horizon Church. Maybe some churches who are trying to be "relevant" have watered down the gospel. Maybe they have become shallow. Maybe for the sake of connecting with this culture they have given up the true core of the gospel message for a "scaled down" version. But not Horizon. With us, you get the gospel. You get the amazing and wonderful, hard and challenging, paradoxical and mysterious, truth of the gospel. The same gospel that has been preached by faithful Christians for 2000 years is the one you hear on Sunday mornings and the one discussed in our small groups. But with Horizon, you get the gospel in a form that is more mobile, more innovative and more user-friendly than many churches who have come before us.

So if you are wondering about our faithfulness to the good news of Jesus Christ, have no fear. What you get at Horizon Church is the simplicity and beauty of the eternal truth of the gospel. But you get it in a way that makes sense to this generation and to this culture. And you get more than just a message. You get an entire community of people who are striving to love God and love people as we live life together.

Friday, July 20, 2007

the valley

This week was a week full of valleys. I spoke to many people this week who are walking through dark times. I listened as quite a few stories unfolded and many tears fell from their eyes. I was shown so much brokenness this week. Broken people will have broken relationships. And the result is often devastating.

It can be overwhelming and emotionally draining even just to sit and listen. Imagine how it is for those who are actually going through these steep valleys of life. Pray for them if you get the chance. God knows who they are and what they need.

I heard a song on the radio today by Mark Schultz. Part of the song goes like this:

"And even though I'm walking through
the valley of the shadow.
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
And He will carry me"

These are powerful words for a time like this. These powerful lyrics were inspired by some other powerful words:
Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

So for any and all who have lost hope...for any who have been wounded and have lost their strength. You can trust in a Shepherd who carries his sheep and lean on a Savior who walks with you in the valleys.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I turn 28 years old today. 7/11/07 is a fun day to have a birthday. Birthdays are a good time to take a break. They are a good time to reflect. What have I done with the last few years of my life? Was it worth it? Was it good? Did it honor God?

I am convinced of a few things:

I have tried to live my life in a way that glorifies and points to Christ. Occasionally, I have done so. I am not the greatest pastor of people. I am not always great at working through conflict. I am still learning how to be a husband. I am still learning how to love the people at my church.

I don't have the best leadership abilities but I do enjoy trying to lead. I am not the greatest preacher but I do enjoy speaking on Sunday mornings. I don't exactly know how to disciple someone but I love getting together with new believers around the bible and hashing out life lessons. I am not always the best friend but I know I have some friends that I will be close to for the rest of my life.

I have a great townhouse, a great cat and a great family. My wife is more than I could have ever asked for. Our marriage is great, our jobs are good and the bills are getting paid. I am doing what I want to do in life with people that I like to be around. I am excited about the future of Horizon Church of Towson and excited about the potential of FaithWorks Project. In short, my life is blessed.

I haven't lived long. But I have lived long enough to know that all of this does not come from me but from our Father in Heaven. I was given gifts for my birthday today. But all the gifts that I could ever want were given to me long before today. And so, I praise the Giver of Life.
Psalm 115:1
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness."