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Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Have you ever had to step back and think about your priorities? I have to do this all the time – and I always find it challenging. I have to ask myself – is it really worth it to buy this thing, when my priority is to save for our vacation? Is it really worth it to watch this television show, when my priority is to finish this book? Is it really worth it to keep this stained T-Shirt, when my priority is to tidy my closet? Is it really worth it to eat that doughnut, when my priority is to maintain my current weight?

So as Christians, it prompts two important questions:

What is the main thing in the Bible?

What is the main thing in our lives?

The answer is the same to both questions: Jesus.

The whole Bible is one big story that leads up, and follows from the person of Jesus.

Your whole life is one big story about how Jesus chose you, rescued you, and now is working through you by his Spirit.

This is why for my April Sermon Series I am focused on the story of Jesus. The series is called “Just One Hour.”

I’ll be focused on four compelling stories of Jesus’s life and teaching that will be ideal for you to reset your priorities, to help you keep the main thing the main thing. More than this, though, it will be a wonderful opportunity for a newcomer or a friend to perhaps hear for the first time who Jesus is and what he taught. So please be thinking about who you want to invite to come visit Covenant with you in April. I will give you a hint. Most people like to be invited to the first Sunday in a sermon series. They can then decide if they want to hear more and come back the next week. So circle March 31st on your calendar as the date to bring your friend with you for the first sermon in the series.

The 4-week series will culminate with Easter on April 21st. Many people will spend their only hour of the year in church on that day. What will they find when they spend “just one hour” in our community? Let’s be praying that we change our hearts and our church so that we are ready to help visitors take their next step with Christ in this important hour of their lives. Who knows, perhaps one hour might lead to a lifelong relationship.

Ultimately the Triune God wants all of our lives. We are his priority. He showed this to us when he died for us on a cross.

Let’s partner alongside of him as we seek to fulfill our mission as a church:

To make disciples of Jesus Christ who love God, love one another and serve in the world.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!



Sent for Lent

I’ve never been more excited than I am as I write this letter to you to begin the Lenten season. We are truly living in a powerful time at Covenant. There is a sweet spirit in worship and in our ministry teams. New discipleship groups are forming. We are building stronger bridges with our preschool and all our mission partners.

It’s a season of excitement.

It’s a season of change.

It’s a season of Lent.

Historically, Lent is the forty days between Mardi Gras and Holy Week, culminating with Easter.

Linguistically, “Lent” comes from the Old English word for Spring.

Theologically, Lent reenacts the 40 days spent by Christ in the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11).

So, realistically … what difference does that make to us?

It makes all the difference.

Because this is the season of “the different.”

This is the season of grief for the past.

This is the season of joy for the future.

This is the season of transformation.

We are in the transformation business at Covenant. I think the beautiful thing about being followers of Jesus is that we acknowledge that change can be painful. It is not easy. But it is important. Jesus gets hungry and thirsty in the wilderness. But it is his own hunger and thirst that in a small way makes him Immanuel “God with us.” The Father sends Jesus into the world not to keep the world the same, but to transform this weary world into the Kingdom of God.

So the Spirit sends Jesus into the wilderness to hunger and to thirst and to be tempted. And from the wilderness the Spirit sends Jesus to fill the hungry, to save the thirsty, and to teach the tempted.

Then on the cross Jesus endures all things so that he can change all things. Through his own transformation from death to life he makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).

So we, too, are sent for Lent. We also are sent, wherever we go, to endure the pain of this world so that we can connect with the wounds of others. We are sent, wherever we are, to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit that we might be changed as well. And through the wounds of Christ we are transformed from members into missionaries.

I pray that this Lent you see something change in yourself and that you see something change in our church. And that through the Holy Spirit we might together join Christ in changing the world.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!




Well Done, Good and Faithful Servants!

Thank you Covenant Family for being such good and faithful servants these last two months.

Since I wrote you last we had two big hurdles to scale: finishing 2018 strong and beginning 2019 with energy. By God’s grace we have done both together.

With all the many transitions and changes in 2018 it would have been easy – understandable! – to have a shortfall in the budget. But we ended up with our best year ever! We exceeded our commitments to each other and to God in both our operating budget and our building budget. Thank you! Together we are pooling our financial resource for a vision that is bigger than our past and greater than our present. Together we are investing in God’s future for Madison County.

Because of your faithful prayers and creative actions, we were able to transition into my pastoral leadership without an interim period (a very rare achievement for Presbyterians!). This meant that the North Alabama Presbytery gave us the greenlight to begin looking for a new Associate Pastor 6 months ago. Your generosity means that we are offering top dollar and interviewing top candidates for this strategic role. The Associate Pastor Search Team that we pray for each week is doing outstanding work. I am continually impressed with their prayers, wisdom and dedication. We are continuing the interview process and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to speak with such talented ministers around the country. I am more confident than ever that God is at work bringing his candidate to join our team. Let’s keep praying!

Finally, I couldn’t be more pleased with the energy and momentum that we carried from the Christmas season into January with our church-wide study of Unbinding Your Soul. In addition to wide participation across our existing Sunday Schools and small group we also  added two new Sunday School classes for adults, expanded children’s programming on Sundays, and added three new weekday small groups.

A church can’t accomplish all these things on its own. We are sailing with the wind of the Holy Spirit in our sails. This is going to be a year we never forget as a Church family as we welcome new brothers and sisters into our congregation and continue to follow Christ “wherever we go.” Like the servant in the parable of the silver talents in Matthew 25:14-30, I can hear the Lord saying to each of us “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21).

Let’s share in our master’s happiness!

I can’t wait to see what happens next.