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Tuesday Prize

September 1, 2009

One of the things I am constantly trying to get better at is being a better husband to my wife. She is truly a God send in my life. Her energy and her personality are great compliments to me. God knew exactly what I needed when he brought us together. Her personal blog is read by hundreds of women, and recently she has been writing for other internet and print pieces as well. Her natural ‘voice’ as a writer creates laughter and encouragement with ease.

I am one of those guys that really needs  specific things I can do to show her I love her and to romance her. She could give me suggestions, but that is not as romantic. In the rhythm of our week there is an intentional marker that allows me to demonstrate my affection using her ‘love language’. It is called the ‘Tuesday Prize’.

Angela’s love language is gifts. Not big, expensive gifts (thank you Lord), but thoughtful ones. Just something that demonstrates that I was thinking of her. Something that shows I was willing to stop the busyness and go a little bit out of my way for her. It might just be a card, or a pack of her favorite candy. It’s a way to say ‘I love you’, and it’s a way to make Tuesday special. The third day, the only day God blessed twice, whatever you want to call it, typically doesn’t have that much special going on.

So – I write about this sappy Richardson practice to encourage you to know the love language of the person God has given to you, and maybe you give it extra emphasis on Tuesday. Maybe it’s giving that person extra time, or words of encouragement, or whatever it is. It’s an effort to make every day count, and to grow in love for each other every day.

Enjoy your Tuesday.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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Why am I in Brazil

August 25, 2009

As some of you know, we have been praying at West Ridge Church now for many months about new Missions opportunities. I have had conversations about a dozen different great works by godly leaders in a dozen different countries. Many others have pitched mission opportunities to me in places where God is working. I’ve put a lot of prayer into a lot of different places I’ve never been. A couple of these conversations have stayed with me. I have felt God saying, you have to go see this. Sooner or later I have to get out of the office

So, I’m in Brazil. I’m near Manaus. Less than 200 years ago it was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. The whole world came here for a commodity – rubber. In 1920 some aggressive folks from Europe came and took steps that made this trade move, and many things moved away with it. One thing remains – the River.

We would refer to it as the Amazon. But here, just before the actual Amazon begins there are two, the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes. Once they collide the Amazon begins. Down that river there are groups of people who have retreated deep into the jungle to hide from – well – everyone.

Up until the 1980’s there were groups of people making their way into the Amazon killing tribal people because they are different. They are strange. They have peculiar customs, and unusual ways of looking out for one another. They were killing them completely out of fear. And now that same fear has created an environment where no one from the outside is allowed into these villages. It would mean certain death. And in these villages there are over 90 unreached people groups. Each have their own language as can be with hundreds of dialects. Groups of people who have never heard that there is a God who sacrificed His only Son to have a relationship with them.

So how will they know? That’s what I am here to learn about. Recently, a group of Brazilian Pastors secured over 200 acres just a couple of kilometers off of the Amazon River. I walked the property today.  It is breathtaking. From this place they plan to recruit men from the villages down the river, and train them to take God’s message with them. It is a big, multi-faceted vision! What do they need from us? That is what I’m here to find out. Other churches are here from our Atlanta community. This may be another opportunity to work together in meaningful ways.

I am looking forward to seeing even more in the days to come.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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One Color Shirt For All

August 5, 2009

One color for allOne of the best decisions leaders made about this Community Makeover was to put everyone in one color shirt. This year everyone was in RED. I picked the color, so I apologize if it didn’t fit your skin tone.

One of the purposes of this Community Makeover is to change some of the impressions people have about church. Most people who do not attend church have some serious questions about why there are so many different brands. Methodists, Baptists, Assembly of God, Seventh Day Adventist, the church for the white people, and the church for the African-American.  Often churches are set apart by dress code, hair length, music-style, music volume, and more. Our preferences give the people watching Christ-followers the perception that we aren’t working for the same goal, and we can’t get along. Perception is reality. All of the preferences that we put into place to help draw people to Jesus can actually become the very things that keep people away.

So what kind of perception do we give when we all wear the same color shirt, and get our hands dirty? What kind of perception do we give when we all sing in the same color shirt?

I believe that this Community Makeover pulls people toward finding out more about the Jesus that the people in the red shirts are singing about. When we set aside all the things we use to distinguish ourselves, He becomes the thing that sets us apart.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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UNITED

August 5, 2009

united_largeThis Sunday, West Ridge Church is starting a four-week series on Jesus prayer in John 17. What were the last things on Jesus mind before He died, and what do they mean for us today? How can we actually become the answer to Jesus prayers.

Spend some time reading over it and we will see you Sunday at West Ridge at 9 am, 11 am, or 6pm! Don’t forget the 6PM, and tell a friend!

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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Smile and Wave

August 3, 2009

One of the lessons of this Community Makeover weekend is what is truly possible when someone allows themselves to slow down and get involved with what their eyes have been opened toDouglas from the porch.
If you live in Paulding and West Cobb and journeyed on Hwy. 92 you have probably seen him. Most likely, he has waved at you. Maybe you were even nice enough to wave back. But one day someone did more than just smile and wave. A couple  from West Ridge had just spent some time delivering food to less fortunate families in Northwest Atlanta alongside Ralph and Marie Ugo and Caya Ministries. One of the things that Ralph typically does is to give some treats to those who serve with him in the form of a couple of bags of groceries. Armed with two bags Claudia asked her husband Joe to stop. What began that day was a relationship. Theirs is just one story that represents a dozen others.

Many of the projects in this Community Makeover came about because of Christ-followers who were willing to stop. In their God-given humility, I don’t think any of them would want special attention drawn to themselves, so I’ll keep it to first names.

What can happen when you stop? For one thing, you give others the courage to stop with you. Like Tim and Michelle who have not stopped praying and telling others about the help that their friends Alan and Sherri needed. This past weekend, over thirty people descended on Alan and Sherri’s house, and the amount of work done in one weekend is astounding.

When others stop, you accomplish more than you ever would have accomplished on your own. I think of  David and Jerry and Rocky and Michael who stopped long enough to rip the siding and the roof off one house and repaired most all of the floor joist for a friend named Steve.  They and a couple dozen new friends.

There are so many stories like this. Houses and needs so dramatic, I cannot even begin to describe them. Whole homes were made over this weekend after someone stopped, gave others courage, and the groups of people accomplished amazing things.

However, the Community Makeover is not intended to be a parachute drop. It is designed to be the catalyst for forming relationship after relationship with people who no longer become needs we are trying to meet, but friends we are trying to love.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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Eyes Wide Open

August 3, 2009

There are so many lessons and thoughts going through my head after our Community Makeover Weekend. A Messianic Jew made a statement to me a couple of years ago, and it continues to motivate me to do what I do.
He said, “The poor are invisible to the middle class.” Ever since that time my car rides are different. I don’t just see things differently, I look for things. More often than not, I see need after need. Across every community there are those who are widowed, disabled, out of work, in need of some home repairs, some that have not eaten today…even in the suburbs.

My prayer for all of the 3500+ volunteers from this weekend, and those they influence is that their eyes will be open to the needs all around them, and that you will never be the same.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

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Holy Naivete

June 15, 2009

I just returned from some sabbatical time that I was granted by West Ridge Church. It’s given to our Pastor/Director Team members every five years. The focus of these four weeks was family and renewal. I have been asking God to restore me to some healthy life rhythms. I had let things get pretty unbalanced recently, and I think it was starting to show.
One of the things I did to renew my spirit was listen to my favorite worship tunes. One of my favorite worship CD’s is from Mars Hill Bible Church. They sing a song called, ‘Enchanted’. Unfortunately, Disney has monopolized the word and turned it into a princess movie, but that is beside the point.
Two words stick out from that song every time I hear it. You guessed ‘em, ‘Holy Naivete’. The word naïve and most of the synonyms are generally used as negative descriptions, but it has some positive meanings. One is this, “Admirably straightforward and uncomplicated, or refreshingly innocent and unaffected.” Another definition is “To have an excessively simple and trusting view of the world.”
For me I want this phrase to be a description of my personal faith. Even when we are trusting God for the ‘big’ things in our life, faith should be relatively simple. Faith that there is a God that can do whatever he wants. Faith that says this same Creator God has plans to prosper and not to harm me, and a hope and a future. Faith that knows even when the Father is silent, He is not absent.
I want to commit to not allowing life’s practicalities and busyness to crowd out my faith.

God give me the gift of Holy Naivete.

http://www.musicatmars.com/worship/lyrics/Enchanted.pdf