Thursday, August 20, 2015

Before I Chris Kirby

Before I Go…

…I would just like to take a moment to formally say thank you for allowing me, Jill, and the kids to be part of the family at Southeastern. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 8 years since we made our move north to become Hoosiers. We will never forget our time here and will always be grateful for our experiences.

…I’d like to express how grateful we are for the many blessings that have shaped our family during our time here. Our family has grown from 3 to 5 and our children have been treated with love and compassion from so many people who have taught them in classes, played with them in the playroom, hung out with them on youth trips, babysat for us, or cared from them in the preschool. Our kids know nothing different than being Hoosier (we’ll never let Jack know he was born in ‘Bama! J). They think that winter is supposed to be long, very very long, and be filled snow and bitter wind; bedtime in the summer is way too early because the sun is still up; hills aren’t a part of everyday life; racecars aren’t supposed to have fenders; and that every kid must have a really amazing children’s museum to play at on rainy days.  They are excited about moving close to family but we are definitely going to have our work cut out to make a new home that matches their love for Indy!

…I want you to know that I have learned so much about ministry from being part of successes and learning from failures here. We’ve spent a lot of time and covered many miles with our group in vans on our way to serve, grow in faith, building community, and just having a great time together. I’ve been given nicknames from teens, made up silly songs and stories with the group, played some games that were tons of fun (and some that weren’t! ha), and shared some tears along the way. Most importantly, we have been able to witness young people give their lives to Christ. We’ve had teens go through transformation and maturation in faith that have born witness to the greatness of Christ. We’ve seen teens try new things and blossom as they gained a sense of identity in the Lord. It is awesome to be in the positon as a youth minister and get a front row seat for God to work in powerful ways in young people!

… I want to give a special thanks to the young adult small group we were able to meet with for several years. We shared meals together, had spirited conversations, helped each other out when a need was present, and were able to experience true Christian fellowship with a group that we call family. So many of the young adults at Southeastern are talented and have so much to offer. I hope that they will choose to exert themselves in selfless ways to the ministry of Southeastern and that the church will recognize the potential of the group.

… I have to let the staff know I couldn’t ask for better partners in ministry than Greg, Joey, and Dale. Each of these guys display obvious hearts for the Lord and bring such unique gifts and passions to the table. I hope that they will continue to shine in their ministries and help Southeastern and North Central be lights for the Kingdom in Indianapolis. Also, Debbie and LeAnne both exemplify such sacrificial hearts for the church at Southeastern. They do so on the job and in their efforts that are outside of job descriptions. I can only hope for such a strong connection with the staff at Tusculum and know that I have learned what it means to work as a team from my time at Southeastern.

… you should hear that I’m appreciative to the shepherds at Southeastern. Over the 8 years  I’ve been here there have 12 different men I’ve worked with for some length of time. Several of the men served the full length of my tenure. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they strive to lead Southeastern in a humble way and with the good of the congregation at the heart of their decisions. I can also say they strive to treat staff fairly and with dignity. I still remember the day we accepted the job at Southeastern in May of 2007. We had hesitations about leaving the south and our families. One of the elders, I believe it was Brian, talked to me on the phone and assured me that the good of our family would be a top priority at Southeastern and to only take the job if I felt it would be good for us personally.  That compassion toward our needs sealed the deal for us to move north! I hope that they will continue to lead with humility, prayer, and boldness to follow the leading of God!

… that we are excited to move into another season of ministry, but it also comes with sadness about leaving. However, we pray for a bright future at Southeastern. We hope that you will passionately present Jesus to those who don’t yet know Him, grow in your faith together as a family, and strive to honor God in everything you do. Be a group of disciples who take seriously the charge to bring justice and mercy into your community while walking humbling with God. Don’t just keep the doors open, run out of those doors with passion to reach the world for Jesus. We believe that the best days for Southeastern can be in the future and not the past if God is in the middle of everything here.

… you should know this one last thing: Be sure to stop and see us if you’re ever passing through Nashville. We’d love the chance to see anyone from this family we’ve called ours for almost a decade. We love you and will miss you!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Two Coins - Too Much? by Joey Kincheloe

Two Coins - Too Much?


The widow had two copper coins left. They were the very last of her possessions. Beyond those two coins, there was nothing.


She dropped them into the collection tray. Thats it. Shes done. Theres nothing left.  What will she do now?


Jesus spoke highly of this woman.

            I tell you the truth,he said, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.

                                                            - Luke 21:3-4


Her sacrifice was greater than anyone elses at that place and that time. With two measly coins, she out-gave the wealthy folks that were filling the tray to the brim before passing it.

            We get that. It was about her heart right? She gave it all to God. She held nothing back. This was about a woman wanting to honor her God with everything she had (even though what she had was almost worthless to anyone else). That day she gave God honor. She gave God her trust. She gave God her hope. She gave God her life. She sacrificed it all.

            Thats great stuff. There are lessons there for us. I imagine many of us have heard those lessons so I wont try to put a fresh spin on that. Ill move to something else.


            Something that strikes me is that Jesus accepted and encouraged that widows full sacrifice. He didnt guarantee that she would be taken care of after giving her everything either. You might think he would assure his disciples that when you sacrifice everything, God will make sure that everything will turn out fine (or maybe youll even end up with more than you gave), but he didnt.

            To our knowledge, Jesus did not give this woman any assurances. He didnt tell her to keep her head up and everything will be just fine. He didnt go up to her and say, Hey, I can see that your heart is in the right place and that you want to honor God with everything you have - but dont give the last of your money. God understands that life is difficult for you right now. He doesnt really expect you to give up the last of your money to him. Hes ok with you not giving that money.Nope, he doesnt say that at all. He honors her. He elevates her for her sacrifice.


            Could it be that the Son of God who was about to give his everything knew that sometimes, a sacrifice really hurts? There was no out for Jesus. When he sacrificed, he wasnt getting an intervention at the last moment from God saying, Alright son, youve proven to me that you love and honor metheres no need to go through all the torture and this horrific death. Theres another way. After all, its your heart that matters. And you have obviously shown me that your heart is in the right place.Nope, he didnt get that. What he did receive was the opportunity to honor his Father with everything he had.


I promise, this is not a post about giving more money. This is a post about giving everything. This a post about holding nothing back. This story is about someone who withheld nothing from her God. This is about Jesus seeing that and pointing it out to those around him. Essentially Jesus is saying, Hey! Look at this! Take notes. Plan to do this yourself in the future. This widow lady has got it right!



Sometimes, the sacrifice is not about what others get from us. It certainly wasnt about the offering numbers getting a huge boost from this widows offering. Sometimes the sacrifice is about us - the ones doing the sacrificing. Sometimes the act of sacrificing does something to us and in us.

            Dont hear me wrong. Im not saying that we should give lots of money and stuff to make us feel good about ourselves or to make us look good in Gods eyes (and certainly not in mans eyes). I am saying that sometimes when we are willing to sacrifice and give everything over to God, we are living out the story of Jesus. When we start to sacrifice and give of ourselves like Jesus did, we become more like the Creator. We become just a little bit more like what we are supposed to be.


So dont give of yourself to receive honor. Dont do it to feel good about yourself. Do it to be like Jesus. Let us give more and more of ourselves to the LORD. Let us become more and more willing to sacrifice the important things in our lives for the most significant thing in the world - our Master and Redeemer.


Can you part with your two copper coins?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Growing Hearts in Community by Greg York

Growing Hearts in Community 


…be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  

Ephesians 5.1-2


Southeastern folks who were present last Sunday know that we have begun the lead up to a “reset” of our small groups ministry. Now, I know that this blog is supposed to be a place where the leadership of Southeastern talks about what it means to grow in Christ and our individual experiences in that journey. But that is precisely why I want to take the time to do some shameless promotion of small group participation. Because being deeply involved in the lives of fellow believers (and small groups are an excellent way to do that) is critical to our growth in Christ.


As we noted in the sermon last week, God works with groups of people, and even in those places in the Biblical narrative when he works with individuals, it is most often for the benefit of a larger group of people.


For instance: When someone becomes a Christ-follower, it is not merely a “salvation transaction.” No, she becomes part of the church, a “fellowship of differents” (to borrow Scot McKnight’s wonderful phrase), where she has a contribution to make to the spiritual health and vitality of the whole even as her spiritual health and vitality is contributed to by others in the fellowship.


There’s a principle at work here, one that may go back to the fact that we were created by a relational God: We become our best selves in relationship with others. It’s a principle captured in the wisdom of Israel: Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens [the face of] another (Proverbs 27.17). (Our English translations usually leave out that little bit in the brackets; typically for the Hebrew language, it earthily, graphically illustrates the point that we are shaped in the most fundamental ways by our (face to face) relationships.)


More than 50 times in the New Testament, Christ-followers are told to do something to or something for “one another” or “each other.” “One another” or “each other” means “your fellow Christ-followers.”  The most common “one another” command – by far – is to “love one another.” All of these things are things you cannot do from a distance. They are all things that require us to be (actually, not just “virtually”) part of one another’s lives.



And just being in the same large room on Sunday mornings does not mean you are a part of another believer’s life. Where are we investing in the lives of fellow Christ-followers, not just hitting the thumb-up “like” icon? Who is investing in our spiritual well-being?



That’s where small groups can come in on several levels.


For one: We may not be able invest in (sharpen) the lives of 300 people; in fact, that sounds nothing short of overwhelming, the kind of task you give up on before you start. No, we may not be able invest in (sharpen) the lives of 300 people, but we can invest in the lives of 10-12.


For another: We seldom truly process the teaching and preaching we get in our classes and in sermons. We tend to treat those things like an event that had a very short shelf life. But when we are teaching and preaching from the word of God, we are dealing with something that has no expiration date. In fact, we are dealing with something that must be newly applied and lived out in changing situations. Frankly, there are ways in which living for Christ today is not like living for Christ 50 years ago. Or, even 10 years ago. Where are we finding wisdom for applying God’s word in such a time? Is that not perhaps exactly how one person (of faith) can be sharpening another? Who do you get with to process how to live out the word of God?


Beginning in late September, our default setting for our groups will be that the Bible study portion will seek to discuss how we apply the lesson of the sermon that week. Joey ran this approach on a test basis in a couple of groups in the spring with very good results. This fall, we move to that being the “preferred” setting for all of our groups, so that all of us can be working together toward the same goals spiritually.


Think of our groups as “fellowships for discipleship.”


We will continue to talk about this more in the sermons this week and on August 23 and 30. But here are some things to keep in mind as we move forward. In fact, think of this as something of a study guide a teacher gives you before a test: I’m hoping that after you think about it and prepare for it, you will have an answer ready when you are asked about participating in a group in a few weeks.



If you have any interest in leading or co-leading a group or hosting a group, contact me now. We’ll be starting our training soon. (If you are uncertain about whether or not you are interested, contact me now.)


Keep on praying about your participation in one of our small groups and be prepared to signal your interest in a few weeks when we ask for you to sign up to be a participant.


The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Ephesians 4.11-13