Thursday Memo

Hi Five Oakers,

I have a few things I want to share with you.

#1- This weekend’s message is PG-13 because it’s about sexuality. I will not be talking about how you should vote in the upcoming marriage amendment for the same reason I don’t address other political policies. (For a full explanation, go here.) But I will address the issues behind political policies. I’ve had people on both the “vote no” and “vote yes” sides say that what I’m doing is just a sneaky way of telling people how to vote, and I might as well just come out and be honest about it. I completely disagree! Here’s what I wrote a friend of mine yesterday who is of the “vote no” persuasion.

My overwhelming concern is discipleship. I think this issue is an opportunity to address how we read Scripture, how we live out our faith in the public square, how we love, who we follow, how we allow God to shape our identity, the nature of truth, the relevance of Scripture to everyday life and so much more. …I happen to believe (and our church and denomination believe) that the Bible is clearly and unequivocally for sexual intimacy only the context of the covenant of marriage between a man and woman. If I didn't address the topic right now when it's such a topic of discussion, I think it could be construed as pastoral malpractice or dishonesty. 

Let me just underscore that I am not going to comment on the merits of this particular law or on the merits of legislation (or this type of legislation) in this matter (or matters like this one). And it has absolutely nothing to do with our tax status. Again, my convictions and reasoning are clearly laid out here.

#2- We have over 60 families who have taken the Do You Devo? Challenge and more that are doing it that didn’t sign up. I love seeing whole families committed to hearing from God together regularly.

#3- Hundreds of you are participating in the Story of God study right now. I love hearing about what you’re learning. Several who have done it before are telling me about what they’re noticing this time around that they missed before. Some are passing typos on to me and that is very helpful. I will soon have the manuscript professionally edited, so that will help the editor. This copy was printed while still in the beta stage to meet the deadline. I was way more concerned with getting a flawed product in your hands than a perfect one when it’s too late. Just wait until you get to week 8 and find out I missed an entire day! I was thinking you might want to catch up on that day. Yeah, that's right. That's what I was thinking.

#4- Here’s a great picture of our church building from the sky taken by Five Oaker Gary Chambers.


#5- Tim Bubar is part of the team planning the next national EFree Students Challenge conference. This conference is such a positive spiritual catalyst in the lives of so thousands of students that I’m extremely proud of Tim for serving in this capacity. Here’s the team.


#6- If you’re a member, please read this memo point, even if you’re tempted to by-pass it once you see what it’s about. Okay, it’s about our by-laws. We’re always changing our church by-laws to keep up with our growth and changing circumstances. We’re proposing several key changes we'll vote on at the congregational meeting.

  • One is to help protect our pastors and the church from lawsuits for refusing to do weddings that violate our biblical convictions.
  • Two are long overdue given the size of our congregation and budget. We can’t continue to ask volunteers to audit our books given the enormity of the task, so we will be looking for outside help to do it. Our elected auditors from the congregation will examine the professional audit and communicate concerns and needed changes to the Board. We also need greater flexibility is choosing a Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. Larger churches in our denomination all vote for Board members (as we will continue to do), but many let the Board members vote for who will serve as Chair and Secretary. And they often assign a paid staff member as Treasurer because of the difficulties associated with having a volunteer in this position (i.e., timeliness and workload).

If you have any concerns about this, please do not wait until the Congregational Meeting to investigate. Talk to your Board members now and read the supporting materials here.  

#7- Don’t forget: The first service on Sundays will change to 9:15am on November 4 (the end of Daylight Savings Time). We are not adding to the length of our services. We are only trying to add more time for transitions between services. Things get really crazy in the Children’s Ministry check-in are when we have only 15-20 minutes to transition. Send me your questions if you have any about this change. We considered many options and I don’t want to over-communicate by including them here.  

See you on the weekend.

Blessing to you, Pastor Henry

Thoughts on "The Biggest Loser: Marriage Edition" Beginning this Weekend at Five Oaks

I'm a newcomer to the show. When I heard that someone I knew in college (O'Neal Hampton) was going to be a contestant on this season's show it grabbed my interest. And the show kept my interest. It's inspiring, informative, motivating and a tearjerker every week. Okay, I admit it, I like tearjerkers. 

So it's not surprising that it has worked its way into a message series, but this isn't the case of the tail wagging the dog. I've been really impacted lately by the writings of Paul Tripp and I received an advanced copy of his upcoming book on marriage (I owe them a review on this site). I was planning on sharing out of that learning, had developed over twenty pages of notes and was searching for a metaphor for the series. I thought I had it already when "The Biggest Loser" idea hit me while flying across the country. Kind of like those Windows 7 commercials, if you know what I mean. (And, yes, I'm better looking when I think back to the moment of insight.)

This series is unlike any other I've preached on marriage. It's also turning out to be a lot harder to prepare than I had expected. It's a bit hard hitting because it seeks to get down to the heart level and calls us to look deeply at the ways we are self-centered and selfish in our marriages. But it's hard hitting in a freeing sort of way. It's not condemning. It's about grace. It's about losing our agenda and bringing Christ's agenda to the center of our marriages and other relationships. This is hard work. But like a good workout, you feel really good you did it and you get to reap the benefits. But also, like a good workout, you have to get up and do it again the next day.

Is there anyone you can invite to the series? It could be a game-changer for their marriage.