Christian Celebrity & the Church

There are a lot of blogs, articles and conversations that circle around the topic of ‘Christian Celebrity.’ I find it pretty interesting that the Church now has ‘celebrities’ that are only ‘famous’ within the church.  If you ask any non-believer who Chris Tomlin, James Dobson, and Tim LaHaye are, you’ll get a blank stare.  It’s even more mind blowing that there are hundreds and thousands of people who are trying to ‘break’ into the Christian realm of celebrity with their blogs, records and books; solely to become ‘famous.’

Now, they would never say that outright.  It would be masked by saying, ‘I want what God has put on my heart to be heard’ or ‘I have a deep passion for ____ and God is using it to impact the lost’ when the truth is their books/records are only being sold in Christian bookstores never reaching the hands of the lost and is simply inflating their infatuation to be ‘heard’ and only heard by other Christians.

The reason this fires me up is because I’ve had the same passion and desire deeply rooted in me almost my entire life.  I wanted to be famous, bigger than Elvis!  I had no other reason for wanting to be known other than to be known, which translates into ‘I have deep-rooted idolatry in pride.’  It was always about me and what I wanted.  I played shows to make me famous.  I led worship to make me famous.  I acted to make me famous; all the while slapping a loose fitting Christianity sticker to everything I did to cover my tracks.

In Romans 12, Paul talks about the unity of the body of Christ and being members of one another.  What we’ve done is taken this passage and sectioned it off into ‘most important to least important’ in a practical way to serve our selfish desires in the church, and the interesting thing is I don’t see ‘Worship Leader’ ‘Executive Pastor’ ‘Youth Pastor’ or ‘______ Pastor’ in there anywhere.  I fully believe that those positions are important in the church today and would go as far to say we need those positions filled to serve our community well, but it’s when we get wrapped up in the status of those positions and the seductive lure of  entitlement that we begin to construct idols in our lives and deconstructing the unity of the body at the same time.

In his book, ‘Unceasing Worship,’ Harold M. Best unpacks Romans 12 and says this,

‘Being members one of another is not a mechanical arrangement, this part interlocking with another, the whole somehow greased up into smoothness.  Rather, being members of one another is organic.  In a love-driven community of believers, no one should be able to find the seams.’

When we project our faith in Christ for the glory of ourselves and not for Him, not only are there seams, but those seams are busting with pride, arrogance and disunity.  If our sense of entitlement either in our role in the church or lack thereof becomes our focus instead of Christ crucified and resurrected, we have some serious heart checking to do with the Holy Spirit.  To put it more bluntly, if being a Lead Pastor, Worship Pastor, Christian Recording Artist, and having people know you for what you do is more important than giving God glory and pointing people to Christ; take a week off and see if anybody notices.  Chances are, you’re bigger in your head than you think you are.  I know I was.

Am I calling us to retraction of public exposure in the vein of the ‘Christian Industry,’ no, but does anyone else find it interesting that there is a ‘Christian Industry?’  As if God chooses to dwell in a duality of His presence being only in this place, but not that place.  His Spirit moving in this song, but not that song?  Have we so pressed down our view of God that He exists only in the radio stations found between 88.1-91.1FM?

My observation is simple and pointed at me directly.  Let me not be misunderstood in what I’m saying because this all stems from a place in my personal heart where I feel convicted.  I simply wanted to share it with you all to examine yourselves as well if you may or may not have the same tendencies as I do.

Am I living to glorify God or myself?

Do I still struggle with pride, wanting to be known, fame?  Yes…but it’s beginning to expose just how really sinful I am, and just how perfect and holy God is.  He’s been so gracious enough to take my sin, put it on Christ and punish Him in my place.  Who do I think I am, scratching at glory as if it were ever intended for me?

What do we do next?  How do we live in such a way that we aim to give God glory and not hijack it for ourselves?  Louie Giglio puts it this way,

“But to mean it when I say that I want my life to count for His glory is to drive a stake through the heart of self – a painful and determined dying to me that must be a part of every day I live.”

Every day.  Not just an epiphany or  a moment of clarity.  Everyday.  We die to ourselves everyday.  I’m not sure what that looks like for you, but I know what it looks like for me and although it is very painful, my heart yearns to give God His glory forever.

Church Planters catch purse-snatcher

A few men from our staff at Crosspointe Waterford Lakes went Seattle, WA a couple weeks ago to a church planting conference held by Acts29 at Mars Hill Church.  Our company consisted of Jared Davis (Lead Pastor), Brent Reid (Deacon/Mission & Administration), Tommy Wong (Deacon/Shift College Ministry) and myself.  The conference was transformational in a lot of ways.  We learned so much from seasoned church planters about God’s glory, sharing the gospel, loving our wives and children and of course church planting.  After two days of intense sessions at the conference, we concluded our stay in Seattle by going downtown and seeing the sites.  After a great sushi dinner and site seeing, this is what ensued…

The night sky was beginning to make it’s way over us like a cool blanket as we walked back down the main stretch toward the market place in the heart of Seattle, Washington.  Full of sushi and fellowship, we decided to take a final look at the first Starbucks before heading back to our vehicle.  The pavement was buzzing with tourists shopping, locals leaving work and street performers trying to earn enough to eat that night.

As I walked in succession with Jared I looked to my right and saw a man relieving himself on an alley wall.  “That’s real cool.” I murmured as we continued through the crowd.  I couldn’t help but continue to rebroadcast the things that I had learned the last two days over and over again in my mind.  I kept asking myself if I were leading worship for God’s glory or my own.  My syndicated conference reel would have continued to play if it hadn’t been interrupted by someone screaming, “Sir, please stop!”

I looked up to see three asian women in a sort of tug-o-war with a latino man in a puffy jacket.  The struggle continued as were drew closer only to end in the man falling over backwards and hastily getting up, walking away.

I followed him with my eyes and our stares connected.

He was afraid.

I was confused.

His pace quickened as I realize what I just witnessed.

I yelled to the women, “Ma’am!  Did he just steal your purse?”

“Yes, yes! Thief! Thief!” They cried.

As our stares connected once more, he turned and ran.

Immediately I began sprinting after him.  I wasn’t even aware of the seriousness of what I was doing.

He turned into an alley.  I turned into the alley.  The whole time I screamed, “Stop!  Do you want to go to jail?  Give it up man!”  Although those words were coming from my mouth, my brain was screaming, “What are you doing?  You’re chasing a purse snatcher through an alley in Seattle!  What if he has a gun?  What if he has a knife?  What if this is a trap and he’s leading you into an alley where there will be multiple men waiting for you.”

My thoughts were interrupted as I looked to my right to see that my Lead Pastor had caught up with me.

As we gained on the thief, he turned back onto the main drag with us in close pursuit, my words of caution and pleading still echoing off the brick buildings of downtown.  In a moment where Jared and I were about to tackle the purse-snatcher, he made a bold dash into traffic, Jared making it through and me almost getting plowed by a taxi cab.

The thief, in his dash into traffic, fell; throwing the purse away from him thinking that we would be satisfied with that.

We were not satisfied.

Jared continued to pursue the man, grabbing him by the coat.  I ran around the cab and grabbed the purse, remembering all the television specials about pickpockets and how they work in groups of three.  By this time, Brent had caught up and had the man by the other side of his jacket.

Not really knowing what to do, and believing he still had more of the woman’s belongings we began to try to subdue the thief only to be interrupted by a goliath sized bouncer spearing the man to the pavement like he was auditioning for the WWE.  In a moment’s notice, there were seven bouncers surrounding the man yelling very threatening things to him while they cuffed him and confiscated his open containers of alcohol (which to my knowledge was the reason why it was so easy to catch up to him.)

We returned the purse to the women but they were too scared to report the incident to the police.  The bouncers eventually let the man go and we made our way back to the first Starbucks where we received free coffee for our efforts in helping the women.

As I checked out of the coffee line I looked out the window to see the man walking by with two other men.  One of whom was the man from the beginning of the story, relieving himself on the alley wall.

The rest of the night was littered with the retelling of the story, embellishing our heroics in a jovial way; feeling like we had proven our manhood and not cowered at the opportunity to provide justice.

As I sit and reflect on that night in Seattle, I can’t help but remember a verse my father has instilled in me since I was a boy.

8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NASB)

There’s nothing extraordinary about me or the men who were with me that night.  We’re not built like professional athletes.  We don’t possess any skills that would be instrumental in warding off an angry mob.  We’re just simple church planters trying to spread the gospel of Christ for the glory of God.  But there is one thing we were that night.

We were alert.

You never know when you’ll be required to do something you’d never dream of doing so continually be on the alert.  You may not be asked to catch a thief.  It may be as simple as recognizing a tender conversation that needs to be had; or time spent with someone who needs a friend.  You may just be asked to be humble and listen.  Whatever it is that God will put in your path, be ready; be alert; be postured for the glory of God.

First Sunday Morning at CPWL

The time has arrived.  After just over a year we have planted with Crosspointe Church Waterford Lakes.  It’s been a long, excruciating, joyful, tiring, encouraging and Spirit filled journey, and it’s just beginning!  We are so thankful for all of your support, prayer and fellowship.  God is so good and receives all the glory!  We are humbled and thankful to serve Crosspointe each week and are just in awe of God’s providence and faithfulness as we heard His call and obeyed it for the glory of His Son!  Here are a few photos and a video from our first Sunday!

We had 52 people join us in worship this past week from college age students to families to older couples.  We can’t wait to see what God has in store next week and are blessed to be a part of what He is doing in Orlando Florida!

So much is happening!

We don’t even know where to start!  God has been so gracious to us these past few months.

We had our baby girl Mercy Elia Potter on August 8th.  She weighed 7.7 and is so precious.  We love her so much!

These photos were taken by the Elia’s pictured above.  They are also the reason Mercy’s middle name is ‘Elia’.  We love them.

We will continue to keep you updated on our lives.  This week we have our last preview service with Crosspointe Waterford Lakes before we go public in the Radisson Hotel!

There’s always two ways

I’m learning more and more each day that there are two ways of looking at things. I feel like God is showing us that He provides in all things.

For example, a few days ago Jordan and I recieved more support and we were thrilled! We’ve been praying for God to send us more monthly supporters so we could trim our schedules from working two full
time jobs each to one a piece.

And then the tires on her Jeep went dead. One has a nail in it and the others are bare.

So I had to make a decision. I could choose to mope and pout that now we have to use our new support for something unexpected and expensive…..OR I could choose to be thankful that God had already provided for us in this time and anticipated our needs as He always does.

So, here I sit, at discount tire; thankful that the God we serve loves us and always provides according to His grace.

Being on support from our friends and family is often hard. It takes ALOT more trust than it did when I was
making a steady pay check, but the fellowship and intimacy with the Spirit
in these times, because of our constant dependancy on Him makes it worthwile and joyful every day.

Setting the example

I hope you begin to see the trend that I (Josiah) spend most of my time each day serving at Chili’s.  Here’s another story of how God’s working in our lives in Orlando.

At the end of my shift I had a table sit down and order Chicken Fried Chicken.  I rang in Country Fried Steak b/c I’m human and I make mistakes.  The food comes out and the three ladies look at it and say, “This isn’t what we ordered.”

No harm so far.  We weren’t busy.  Their food came out literally five minutes after they ordered.  I had my manager swing by and talk to them and we got them their correct order in a matter of 5-10 minutes.  They were still working on their salad and black beans so they weren’t without food at any point.

I bring out their correct order and magically there aren’t any mashed potatoes on the plate.  The lady to my right says, “You got it wrong again, there aren’t any mp’s.”  The lady to my left says, “Stupid.”  (Under her breath but loud enough for me to hear)

I’m furious.  I don’t show it.  I smile and say I’ll be right back with that.  They had mp’s in a matter of 40 seconds.

I continue to wait on them, anticipating their needs with refills and boxes and the whole nine yards.  I figure, I’m not going to let a grumpy old lady steal my joy for the day.

I bring the check and they pay with 100$ bill.  NOTE*  If you go out to eat and your bill is less than 50$  do NOT pay with 100$ bill.  We’re not a bank, we don’t have that kind of cash in our server books at 1pm, especially when everyone else is paying with debit cards.  It’s a huge hassle.

Anyway, I finally scrounge up their change and bring it to them with To-Go drinks.

They leave.

I go to the table to collect the tip but………………there is no tip.  There’s no tip.  They ran up a 50$ check and stiffed me.

I’m fuming.

I look out and see the ladies walking to their van.  On this van, neatly placed on the right side is a Jesus Fish.  Just like this car.

You can only imagine what’s running through my head now.  As I begin to sift through my thoughts to pick an appropriate one to attach to these ladies I look down and see this.


That’s right.  They left their take out boxes full of their left over food.  (There was a lot of it.)

I look out the window and see the ladies having a nervous conversation looking back towards the restaurant wondering if they can sneak back in knowing full well what they just did.

Then it hits me.

I grab the box and run out to their car and say, “Hey ladies!  You forgot your take out food!”  They say anxiously, “yes……yes we did, didn’t we?”  I reply, “I like your Jesus fish.”  “You do?”  “Yes ma’am, I’m a Pastor.”

Silence.

“Oh really?”  “Yes ma’am, well you all have a great day!”

I watched those women talk to each other in bewilderment for the next five minutes as I cleaned their table.  They never came back in and tipped me, I didn’t even really care about the tip that much.  What I did care about was the example I got to set for my co-workers.  I spent the next ten minutes telling and retelling my story to my teammates and they laughed hysterically!  They couldn’t believe, first of all, that I would take those ladies their food after they had stiffed me and then they couldn’t believe how foolish those women must have felt after they received the knowledge that they had just stiffed a local Pastor waiting tables to scrape by.

I had a choice.  I could have cussed those women and bad mouthed them to my teammates and just been another disgruntled server, or I could swallow my pride, take those women their take out food and set an example for my friends at Chili’s that even when people treat you unfairly, you can still love them while exposing their wrong doing without hurting them.

I hope those women learned a valuable lesson today.  As Christians, how can we go to a restaurant, run up a 50$ bill and then not be gracious to the person who served us that meal?  You don’t have to tip 30% to show how awesome Christians are when they go out to eat.  Just be patient, kind, gentle, and generous and maybe people will recognize you by your love.

Table for 3

One thing you all should know about servers at restaurants is this……it’s going to sting…..are you ready?

If you’re not a regular (someone who comes in the same time ever week and sits in the same section and orders the same thing)……if you’re not a regular, your server doesn’t care about you.  It’s nothing personal, actually that’s sort of the gist of it.  Guests are merely dollar signs to servers.  Sure they’ll treat you like kings and queens but as soon as that credit card receipt is signed you’re simply taking up precious space until the next party of four dollars sits down.  Is this taught by the companies/restaurants in training?  No.  This is an unspoken norm that I see played out every day.  I’m ashamed to say that I get caught up in it.

One night, a week or so ago I had two people sit in my section.  It was close to closing time, I was tired, I wanted to go home and be with my wife….needless to say, I didn’t care about these people.  I walked up to greet them, put on my fake server smile and asked if I could get them something to drink.  The guy informed me that he was an employee of Chilis.  That changed everything.  Employees get 50% off their bill and usually tip really good so my demeanor shifted a little.  I was refilling drinks, chips and working my tail off for that one table because the little dollars just turned into bigger dollars.

Later in the meal I stopped by to see if they needed anything.  The girl had gone to the restroom and the guy looks up at me and says, “Hey man, sorry I’ve had such a bad attitude this entire meal.  I got some really bad news today.”  Oh no.  This isn’t good.  My dollars were turning back into people.  People with real problems, real families and real souls.  I had a choice.  I could blow it off and say, “sorry bro, more sweet tea?” or I could truly serve “the least of these.”

I said, “I’m so sorry man, what happened?”  He said that he just found out that he got rejected by the law school he’s been dreaming of going to since he was a little boy.  I replied, “Wow.  That’s awful man.  Well, I know some people with connections to some great schools in Georgia.  I’m a pastor, here’s my card.  Call me and we’ll grab coffee or something and talk about what’s next for you.”  He looks up at me, “You’re a pastor?  Me and my girlfriend have been looking for a church to go to around here.”  From there on I told him about Crosspointe and where we meet.

I’m not sure if that guy will come to church, or even call to talk about what’s next in life for him.  I’m not sure if that was even the reason for the lesson I learned that evening.  I am convinced of one thing though, we all get caught up in whatever it is that we do and devalue people.  Pastors devalue people to numbers.  Serves devalue people to dollars.  Politicians devalue people to votes.  So how do we change that?  How do we see the value in people?

We serve them.  Whether it be with time, money, work or refills of sweet tea, we serve them.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35-40

Love,

Josiah and Jordan

Praying amidst the chaos

In Exodus 17:8-13 there’s a story of perseverance in which the armies of Amalek and Israel fought with one another.  Moses instructed Joshua to choose men personally to go and fight with  him.  The deal was that Moses had to lift his hands (in which he held his staff) above his head, raised and the Israelites would win.  If he lowered them, the Israelites would lose.  Short version of the story-Moses raised hands, he grew weary, Aaron and Hur each held one arm up, Joshua cleaned house with his sword and God facilitated the win.

Last week I was working a shift at Chili’s and the night came to a close.  If you’ve never worked at a restaurant, here’s a look into what happens at the end of the night.  It’s insane.  The servers are taking care of their last tables while doing sidework (i.e. cleaning drink stations, salsa cooler, chip machine, trays, trivets, soup station, dessert station) and trying to clean their tables, all so they can roll two buckets of silverware before they can go home to their families or cats.  All the while, the bartender is cleaning the bar, the bussers are taking out the trash, cleaning the bathrooms and bussing tables, and the kitchen is cleaning all the grills, fryers, bowls, utensils and well……it’s chaos.

I walked back to my manager’s office to cash out for the night and we begin talking about Jesus, life, Christianity, and the church.  This is all fairly normal as the relationship I’ve developed with my boss has basically become a really great Q&A concerning the Gospel.  My boss begins to tell me about his life and the things he’s going through with his family and work and basically let’s me know he’s broken.  I assured him that we’re all broken and in need of Christ.  I explained God’s sovereignty and how He’s way ahead of us and is already putting into place things in our lives to draw us closer to him.  I shared 1 Peter 5:5 with him and explained the difficult process of how getting walked on glorifies God.

After talking I asked if I could pray with him.  He said yes.  So amidst the chaos of the restaurant closing, I laid hands on my boss and prayed for him.

God is moving in Orlando to redeem this city.  God is using Crosspointe Church to reorient people to the gospel, and God is using simple servers at Chili’s to pray over their bosses  prayers of healing and grace.  This is all being facilitated by and through your prayers and your giving.  Thank you for trusting God and supporting us.

Love,

The Potters

The First Sunday

I’ve heard a story told in pictures communicates far more than words so I’m going to heed that phrase and instead of describing how our first Sunday service went I’m going to let you see how it went.  God blessed us and brought us more than we expected; in people, in ministry opportunities, in community and in grace.  Here’s a peak into our first Sunday.


Brent and me figuring out last minute tech stuff for worship and teaching.

Brent and me testing the mic for recording and Jared & Jocelyn & baby Hudson looking over the seating arrangement.

Shot from the back of the room.


Where the body of Crosspointe Waterford Lakes worships.

Praying over the night.

Community

Jordan already has a big children’s ministry!!!  Six children!!!

The first worship at CPWL.

Out of the 32 people that God brought us that night, 5 were orphans from a foster care home.  They were awesome students and so much fun to talk to and be around!

Jared teaching the gospel.

Children’s ministry in full effect.

God is so good.  We are so thankful for your support and prayers.  Keep coming back for more weekly updates on what God is doing in Waterford Lakes!!!!

Love, The Potters

Launching soon!

The past few weeks have been filled with staff meetings, planning, praying for God’s Spirit to move and an overall excitement that grows daily.

We are one week and four days from launching our core team phase of Crosspointe Waterford Lakes!  What that will look like is this:

On Sunday nights we will gather at Jared and Jocelyn’s house.  There we will hold a service of worship where we will hear the Word of God, fellowship and worship through song, communion and community.  Jordan will be running the children’s ministry and I will be leading the worship in song.  After that we will all eat together and fellowship and grow in community.

It’s almost unbelievable that it is here.  We’ve been heeding God’s call since August.  We’ve been praying and trusting like we’ve never done before.  We’ve walked through terrible storms to get here and the only reason we are here is because of God’s grace.  We are so blessed and so excited to begin what God has called us out of West Palm and into Orlando to do.

Along with all the church planting excitement, our little baby girl Mercy is developing nicely in her mommy’s tummy.  Here’s some photos!


Thank you all for your support!  Your prayers and giving has been such a blessing and we want you to know how much we love and appreciate you all!

Josiah and Jordan