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.

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!

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

God’s Providence

This past weekend Jordan and I went to Waterford Lakes to celebrate Kelly Allen’s birthday, Jocelyn Davis’ baby shower and hopefully lease a house in Waterford.

This is Crosspointe’s Lake Nona Campus where we worshipped and heard the Gospel from Pastor Chan Kilgore.

crosspointe 1

Here’s Sydney the proud big sister of Brody.  They’re Rob and Kellie’s children.Sydney and Brody

Who would’ve thought I’d reconnect with my dear friend JT Dellis in Orlando!?  God is moving and shaping JT in amazing ways!!!!JT and I

Here’s Jo at Disney.  She loves Disney!disney 2

Here’s the Allen/Potter/Davis clan at Disney.  We’re excited about sharing the Gospel with these people!disney 1

Our Saturday was filled with appointment after appointment on every half hour with realtors and home owners that Jordan skillfully planned down to the minute from 9am-4pm.  After hours of searching and taking photos and reviewing and praying we finally decided upon a house!!!  Here it is!

Neighborhood_1

Above is the neighborhood we’ll be living in.  From what the neighbors tell us it’s filled with young families, UCF graduates and students!Front_of_House

Above is the front of our house.  We are thankful that it will have enough space to host Bible Studies/Small Groups and it fit our housing budget perfectly!

Lake_1

Above is a lake near our house.Trees_2

These are the roads that weave in and out of Waterford lakes.  There are lots of little playgrounds like this in the area.  The one below happens to be immediately off of our cauldesac. Playground

We are so thankful for God’s providence in bringing us to Waterford Lakes.  It’s been an exteremely difficult six months and not how we would’ve pictured our first six months of marriage but God has proved over and over again that He is faithful and continues to guide us as we seek Him in everything we do!

Our next step is Jordan graduating from Palm Beach Atlantic University on December 19th!  After that we will drive up and begin our lives in Waterford Lakes, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone.

We are currently 30% supported and are praying for God to provide 75% support by Christmas!  The more we are supported the more we are freed up to minister to Waterford Lakes so if you have a moment today, pray about partnering with us in ministry and God’s redemption of Orlando.

We love you all!

Josiah & Jordan

God’s Faithfulness

So over the last few weeks God has shown us how faithful He is over and over and over!

Jordan has been busy nannying and going to school full time and is almost finished with her Bachelor’s degree in Christian Leadership and Josiah has been asked to speak all semester at TNL presents The Anchor at Palm Beach Atlantic University as well as lead worship for the FCA chapels on friday mornings.

God has also been using us at Truth Point Church in West Palm Beach which just had it’s first Sunday in Bear Lakes Middle School a couple weeks ago!  It’s been a wonderful win-win situation where God has provided us a place to serve and be ministered to at the same time!  Here’s a photo from the first Sunday!

First Bear Lakes Service - 09-20-09

The biggest thing that God has been challenging us to do is to surrender everything we want to worry about to Him.

Money—->worry—->surrender—–>God provides

House—->worry—–>surrender—–>God sells it in 3 days

A place to live in waterford lakes—–>currently surrendering that to Him 🙂

As full time missionaries now the biggest concern is how we will afford to live in this American society without getting full time jobs on top of our full time calling/job.

Thankfully Jesus has been providing for us and showing us that He will choose who He wants to support us with.

The first thing people tell you when you are about to ask friends & family for support is; ‘Make sure you send letters to people who have a lot of money!‘ and while that is tempting we choose to prayerfully consider who we send letters to and trust that God will take care of the $$.  Here’s a perfect example.

This is Taylor.

Taylor

She is one of my guitar students and has been taking lessons for about six months now and she’s getting quite good at her instrument!  I had the joy of meeting Taylor and her family at the last church I served at and am so thankful for them as they have been so supportive of Jordan and I in our transitional season.

One day Taylor came for her lesson and when she was about to leave, she handed me two envelopes.

Two envelopes? I  thought.  Hmmm….maybe we missed a week of lessons and I forgot about it. Nope.

This is the envelope.

Photo 2

That’s right.  In parenthesis it reads “My God money”

We were so touched by Taylor’s love and support and this was just another HUGE reminder that God’s going to use the ‘least of these’ to give Him glory.

As we continue to take steps in the direction that God’s leading us in we are constantly reminded of His love and grace and provision as we seek His glory in planting in Orlando.

Thank you to all who have supported us and are continuing to support us in this next season!  We love you and are praying for you!

Love,

The Potters

Online Giving Step by Step Instructions

We know online giving is a new thing in the church realm and we had a lot of questions ourselves about what happens and how to do it.

Here is a step by step instruction guide to giving to the Potters through Crosspointe church online.

FAQ’s

*When do you get the online support? Once payment is received, the accounting office at Crosspointe cuts and mails us a check.

*Is it tax deductible? Yes.  When you login you will see your contribution schedule and a year to date contribution history and total for your records.

Step 1: Go to the Crosspointe Church Website and click on ‘Give’ in the upper right hand corner

screenshot 1

Step 2: Click on the ‘click here’ button to give online or simply mail your contribution to the address provided

screenshot 2

Step 3: If you are a new user, click on the ‘create account’ button

screenshot 3

Step 4: Fill out the information sheet (this is all strictly confidential)

screenshot 4

Step 5: This is where you can either give a one time gift or schedule a monthly contribution.  Click ‘Individual Support’ next to ‘Fund’ and then click ‘Josiah Potter’ next to ‘Sub Fund.’ After that you can choose what day you would like to give and then fill out your Billing Info.  Below you will be able to keep track of your schedule and history with a year to date total at the very bottom.

screenshot 5

Thank you all so much for your support!  Please continue to keep us in your prayers!

Our immediate requests are

*Sell our home in Boynton Beach Florida

*Find a house to rent in Waterford Lakes that is big enough to have meetings/small groups in

*That God will provide 100% support by November

Blessings,

The Potters

What’s next for the Potters…

As you may or may not know; I was asked to step down at The Journey Church and have been replaced.  This was not how I envisioned leaving The Journey, but I do have a choice in HOW I leave. I get to choose my response. We all get to choose how we respond to something that comes our way. We get to choose our response and in the end that may be the most important choice of all.

The best part about all of this is that God has been in all of this, directing it, guiding it and putting things in place I cannot even see right now.  The beauty of the situation is that two months ago Jordan and I began praying to consider joining Jared and Jocelyn Davis in planting with Crosspointe Church in Orlando and little did we know God had already provided for that!

What this means…

We need to sell our house.  3/2 in Boynton Beach Florida.

We are going to be 100% financially supported by givers and hope to be supported fully by November 1st. (Think American Missionaries)

We need to find a house in Orlando to rent and move in by January 1st 2010.

Please pray for us as we listen to God’s call for our lives and if you are interested in supporting us please let us know and we will send all the info to you and come visit with you as well!

Grace and peace,

Josiah