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evbc | gilbert


halloween hospitality

Well, depending on your perspective, today is one of the best or worst days of the year for Americans--Halloween. For me, I'm excited it's Halloween, and I'm looking forward to celebrating with my family and neighbors.

Sure, there are some who will object by saying that Halloween has pagan roots and is the day on which most satanic activity happens, which are probably both true. But, in our culture and time, I think Halloween is a good thing, and I will joyfully participate. My wife and I have had many conversations about this topic since she went to Christian school and learned about the history of Halloween. As a teenager, she went on a one-woman mission to get her family to stop participating. But since then, I think she's adopted more of my approach to the day.

Here are some reasons that I will joyfully participate in Halloween:
  1. Halloween is the only day of the year (at least in suburbia) when all the people come out of their fortresses...I mean...houses...and interact with their neighbors. In our day of "crowded loneliness," Halloween is a time for neighbors to get to know each other, laugh together, show hospitality and build trust and friendship. This is a good thing that we should celebrate.
  2. Halloween is a great opportunity to love children. It's generally accepted that if you love a child, you are loving his or her parent as well. Children are experiencing increasingly difficult lives--and Halloween gives you the opportunity to know and encourage the kids in your neighborhood.
  3. It's payback for how the pagans have hijacked Christmas. For believers, Christmas is one of the most important days of the year. Yet, the culture at large has hijacked the meaning of Christmas until the original celebration--the birth of God the Son--is almost totally forgotten. So, by celebrating Halloween with fun and friendship and candy, we can hijack the original meaning of this pagan holiday.
  4. Candy. I love candy. Jerry Seinfeld says it best.
These are just some of the reasons that tonight you'll find me outside with my neighbors eating chili, drinking cider, handing out candy, and thanking God for this unique opportunity to love my neighbors as myself.


missional decentralization

I just read a great posting by my former pastor from college, Mike Shea, who wrote this post at his blog. It's a great challenge to how we should approach ministry in Gilbert. I especially like this part:

"Don’t wait to be given a four color brochure for a leadership exhausting evangelistic program that you can hand out to your neighbors. Just invite them to dinner. Join a bowling league and invite them to be on your team. Take your kids to the zoo and ask your neighbors along."


senses of fall

The smell of burning firewood...the sound of leaves crinkling and crushing under your feet...the explosion of color on big tall trees...the feel of crisp, cool air on your face...the taste of a warm beverage on a cool day. These are the senses of fall, at least in most of the country. These are the senses I grew up with and am enjoying this morning, as Molly and I spend time with her family in Ohio. It's a nice change and it's a beautiful time of year. But, the warmth and brightness of the Arizona sun will be a welcome thing when we return. Though I love the change of pace, I must remember that while Arizona is only getting nicer this time of year, the rest of the year is only getting colder.


thanks, john piper

I'm quite excited about this upcoming weekend with John Piper, who is speaking at an EVBC men's event tonight and then at the Desiring God Regional Conference this weekend. Dr. Piper was extremely influential in my development as a young Christian, though this weekend will be the first time I ever meet him. His books and sermons have been life changing for me, and they continue to be. While many prominant ministries charge lots of money for their materials, Desiring God continues to offer them free of charge online, and they encourage people to give these materials away. It's a wonderful statement that the ministry isn't about making a buck but about reaching people for the kingdom of God. So, here's a sentence that I've heard Dr. Piper say many times, but it's worth always remembering. This sentence has changed and is changing my life:

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."



free derek webb

One of my favorite singers and songwriters is Derek Webb. He has great theology and real creativity when it comes to writing. He is offering his latest album, "Mockingbird," totally free. If you haven't yet purchased the album (as I did before the offer was available), do yourself a favor and download it.

Here's a sample of the lyrics from one of my favorite songs on the album, "A New Law."

don't teach me about politics and government | just tell me who to vote for || don't teach me about truth and beauty | just label my music || don't teach me how to live like a free man | just give me a new law || (pre-chorus) i don't want to know if the answers aren't easy | so just bring it down from the mountain to me || (chorus) i want a new law | i want a new law | give me that new law || (bridge) what's the use in trading a law you could never keep | for one you can but cannot get you anything? | do not be afraid ||

women's circles

Ladies, are you looking for a relaxed place to hang out and get to know other women in your community? Check out one of the Gilbert Women's Circles:

Tuesdays @ 2:00pm at The Coffee Shop (Higley & Ray)
Coffee and conversation
For more information contact Kathi Bishop

If you would like to host or organize a women's circle event on a one-time or ongoing basis, contact Luke Simmons.


olfactory fatigue

Have you ever heard of "olfactory fatigue"? It is what happens when you smell something day after day and eventually you can't smell it anymore. For example, I have a friend whose car always smells like cat litter because he parks it in his garage where his cat's litterbox is. I comment on it almost every time, but he can't even recognize it because he smells it every day.

I bring it up because in his book, The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, Tommy Nelson says that if we let ourselves live with sin for too long, it eventually becomes like olfactory fatigue. Eventually, we're so used to it that we barely even notice the stranglehold that it has on us. That's a scary place to be. So maybe today would be a good day to examine your heart and ask God to reveal any sin that you've gotten so used to that you can't even see it anymore. Then repent and believe the gospel. Trump the power of the sin with the promise of the gospel and the beauty of Christ.


joe's farm grill opens today

Those of you who are fans of Joe's Real BBQ (which is pretty much everyone that's ever been there) will be happy to know that Joe is opening a new restaurant today, Joe's Farm Grill. The restaurant is on the northwest side of Higley & Ray and is a renovation of the home that Joe grew up in.

They'll be serving grilled burgers and pizza, salads, and some other favorites including everything from Ahi Tuna sandwiches to hot dogs. I can't wait to check it out. Click here to see the menu.


the enemy of hunger for God

I was recently reminded of the following quote and think it might encourage you.

"The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable." (John Piper, Hunger for God, 14)

Oh, that we would hunger for God ourselves and find our greatest delight in God!


welcome to the NEW evbc | gilbert blog!

Sure, we haven't been online that long, but in an effort to improve both the look and the functionality of this blog, we've made some changes. The first thing you'll notice is the look. A bit more colorful and bright. But the second and bigger improvement is that we now have links to some of the more common links, including a new calendar that details events happening in the area. If you have events you'd like to add, be sure to email me.


missionaries in the USA (pt. 3)

This is Part 3 in a series of thoughts on how we can become more faithful missionaries here in the place God has put us, and what some of the hindrances are to living out the great commission in our community. (Part 1 | Part 2).

#2 Selfishness & Individualism
Not surprisingly, our culture is plagued by selfishness and individualism. For many people, that's the essence of being entitled to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It becomes about my life, my liberty, and my pursuit of happiness. Sadly, many Christians suffer from the same self-absorption and individualism. As a result, they think (and I include myself in this bunch) primarily about my problems, my growth, my relationship with God, my knowledge, etc. without giving a great deal of care or concern for other people who don't know God. There's obviously nothing wrong with a person wanting to grow in his or her faith as an individual, but there is if the growth doesn't result in more care and concern for others.

Perhaps Christians would be much more effective missionaries if we, like Jesus, deeply loved others more than ourselves and willingly gave ourselves up for their good, rather than just focusing on what will make us happy and feel good about ourselves. May God give us the ability to love as he loves and to seek those who are far from God in the way that he has sought after us.