Sunday, January 31, 2010

God Speaks In My Bathroom

I spent most of Saturday preparing for streaming our 'PCCOnline Experience'. Typically, it takes an hour or two of weekend prep time to make sure that we have everything lined up for church - but this was completely different. Lots of technical issues and things that were completely unfamiliar to me; I was feeling a bit of pressure.

When I woke Sunday morning, I made some coffee, started getting ready and found myself overwhelmed with all that we ought to do - what we shouldn't do - what had to go right - what couldn't go wrong...

And at one point, with a million thoughts going through my brain, I thought, "Well, at least we'll have a good time doing this." With Brian and his family coming over, plus Chad and his crew, Andy and Lori and my entire family, I knew that it would be fun.

At that moment, I felt - as I have before - the gentle, corrective voice of God. Sometimes it sounds like my conscience. Sometimes it's just seemingly random wisdom. Often, it happens in my bathroom (go figure).

This time, it was strong and gentle - affirming and authoritative.



I stopped, dead in my tracks in my bathroom. And I sat down to pray.

My perspective changed, immediately. I understood that more than just some fun use of technology or a fun experiment, this was something definitive and intentional to which God had called us. The snow provided the circumstance and opportunity - but God orchestrated our response. Looking backwards beyond my stress and tension, I could see more clearly.

And I got it.

What happened today fit the mission statement of PCC. It helped us reflect the goodness of God and our passion for Him.

And it's given us so much food for thought.

Thanks for being there; thanks for the feedback, the real-time discussion. Thanks for telling your friends.

It was a good day.

PCC Online - Were You There?

Did you join us today for online church?

If so, please leave a comment below and help us out with some info.

How many people were watching from your location?
Where did you live?
Was this your first experience with PCC?


Saturday, January 30, 2010

PCC Online - Live Worship Tomorrow

Big news around here:

All of VA is snowed in. Everything is cancelled.

Including church services tomorrow.


Tune in tomorrow for our first ever LIVE STREAMING WORSHIP EXPERIENCE!

Church, online, via the amazing power of the internet.

You'll be able to watch a little bit of worship and Brian's message - live - from the comfort of your home.


Check out this site - tune in tomorrow at 11:00 AM for the service. You'll be able to log in and chat with other folks via text - just like AIM, Facebook or gmail chat.

We're excited about using this technology for the Kingdom. It's an experiment - so bear with us if it looks like we're not sure what we're doing! We're just willing to try WHATEVER IT TAKES.

PCC 2.0 - here we go!

Find the site now at You can go ahead and log-in to enable chat and you'll be ready for tomorrow!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whiteboard, Anyone?

In May of 2008 part of our staff team travelled north to attend the first Whiteboard Sessions. Created by Ben Arment, it was a new concept of hearing short talks from a great lineup of leaders and pastors.

It was a great time. I met a blogging friend - a great writer and inspiring pastor - in real life. Had a great lunch at Maggianos. Heard Perry Noble for the first time and was simultaneously offended, intrigued and inspired. Met Tim Stevens and picked up a copy of "Pop Goes the Church".

I really enjoyed it and felt it was well-worth the investment of one day. Heard some great and inspiring words from some fascinating people, and had a great time with my co-workers.

Since then, Ben Arment has relocated (twice, I think) and done some other stuff. He's back in VA now.

And The Whiteboard Sessions are back.

Jonathan Falwell. Perry Noble. Al Mohler. Carlos Whitaker. Tony Morgan. Jon Tyson. Eric Mason. James McDonald.


I'm just saying.....


Ever Think About Organ Donation?

I read this post with my coffee today and was dumbstruck.

Danielle is an amazing young writer who is also a doctor. Her journey has been fascinating.

Take three minutes. Read this.

Grab a Kleenex.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Working On A Building

Excited to learn a bit more about making movies....

Working On A Building_PCC from Beth Brawley on Vimeo.

As Sweet As Honey?

One of the most fascinating components of communication via the internet is the ability for a conversation to continue after an event. I've seen it - and participated - in real-time commenting on awards shows, the concert for Haiti, the inauguration and other occasions.

I love how it happens on Sundays, as well, after church. It's intriguing to see people post their thoughts and reactions on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. I'm especially interested because it offers me a bit of feedback on the service.

Often, someone will connect the dots in a way that reveals something new to me.

Yesterday, my friend Connie did just that. She and I were both present at two events yesterday where we heard excellent communicators unpack different Biblical texts. Connie drew a few lines and put together a good blog post that made me think.

Check it out here. You'll like it.

My friend Connie and her husband, Tom.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Help Haiti - Rejoice!

Yeah, I know. Haiti, Haiti, Haiti.

But life goes on there. Life and death.

If you haven't seen this on the news yet, please watch. Over seven days, buried in rubble, and yet the human spirit perseveres.

Your heart will quake - in a good way.

Have you ever seen such a smile?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"I Don't Have A Choice, But I Still Choose You"

Posting this because it breaks my heart.

Music has that power, to take us into a story that we don't even know, and within 300 seconds reshape our understanding of a moment.

Great art holds up a mirror to our souls. A simple lyric, an ostinato on one string, the rawness of the human voice and a little dissonance. Grace. Aural grace.

I think that Kim will like this, and Jayne and Jenn and Hope and Mary Elizabeth and Angie. I hope they soak in its grace today.

HT to my brother for his impeccable musical taste and guidance.

One At A Time

Over a week later, Haitians are still struggling.

Don't forget about them.

Please continue to pray. Contribute funds. Stay informed. Read this post to catch a glimpse of how God's people continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are in desperate need.

My prayer is that God would pour showers of grace over Haiti. It's hard to know what else to pray for; the need is so great. I heard an interview on NPR this morning; an aid worker said the key to helping in Haiti is to realize that you can't save Haiti - but you can help people, one at a time.

Don't forget.

Add your contribution to that of the PCC family through our website; click the "Online Giving" tab and 100% of your donation will go directly to Haiti Earthquake Disaster relief. Click here to help.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blessed Be

Real people, real life.

Another Reason I Love My Job

Our staff meets every Wednesday for devotional time and prayer. Every other Wednesday, we follow that time up with staff meeting, where we throw things, argue, fight, cry, laugh, sweat, ruminate and meditate and otherwise engage in activity conducive to the amazing opportunities we have to be part of the church here in Powhatan.


It's good, intense time together.

But I have never experienced anything quite like today.

The staff meeting itself was full of conflict, head-butting and some challenging discussions as we worked hard to come to a decision regarding some important future issues. We don't shy away from conflict, because we know we are all on the same team, fighting for the same goal. It's a good thing. The meeting was fine.

It was the devotional time prior to the meeting that still has me reeling. It was probably the most thought-provoking 30 minutes I've experienced in a long while.

The context was community.

The text was Leviticus 15.

It was, surprisingly, inspiring.

Go on. Look it up.

It was Sammy's idea.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Helping Haiti!

I am thrilled to share an exciting bit of news with you regarding the generosity of the PCC community. During Sunday services we provided an opportunity to assist the Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief Team as they offer aid to the victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti. At the end of the service, we invited folks to participate in a special offering by bringing their gift to baskets on the stage.

As of today, the total amount headed to Haiti is
over $6,500!

If you were not able to give on Sunday, mark your offering with 'Haiti' in the memo line or in an envelope marked 'Haiti' and drop it in the offering basket this Sunday. You can also bring a donation to the office (4480 Anderson Highway) or drop it in the mail (P.O. Box 834). You can also donate online through the PCC website.

Your generosity is stunning. We are overwhelmed and extremely grateful!

Photo by Getty images, originally found here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pay Attention. Get A Life. Cut The Crap.

Still compelled to search out stories of Haiti, watching CNN, talking through the news with my family. Finding that these thoughts are not only occupying my immediate concerns, but somehow connecting with a shifting sense of purpose.

I'm at this place where I know that things are changing, shifting. It feels like a pivot point of sorts.

It's tied to this book, which I just finished Saturday night. I intend to write a more detailed review later, but for now, I'll just say the tale of this guy's most recent journey deeply affected my view of the world and the people in it. And myself.

And I have felt so compelled by the stories coming out of Haiti - not the CNN blurbs and the news stories, but by the people who are there, blogging about their experiences here and here. I'm thinking about organizations like this one and this one that have poured their resources into walking beside the people of Haiti not just because an earthquake has devastated the country, but because they were called - years ago - to invest their lives into something that matters.

After my pastor's message yesterday about stewardship and using our resources and talents and money to do something that matters, I am overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions and something more deeply spiritual.

Some sort of calling.

If I have learned anything in these twenty-odd years of walking purposefully with Jesus, it is that these things grow and smolder and mature only with time. So I'm not rushing, not jumping, not moving too quickly.

I am waiting, with expectancy. And I am provoked to move even deeper into some self-examination by a post by photographer/pastor Mark Beeson, which you can read in its entirety here. Here's an excerpt from the post that caught my attention; Beeson was pondering the helplessness we sometimes feel in tandem with a desire to help, to fly to Haiti, to simply do something.

*Get a life. Make a plan worthy of your existence.
*Pay attention. Start listening to those doing what you’d like to do.
*Practice. Want to do something great? Start building your talent, strength and stamina - one step at a time.
*Cut the crap. Read a good book...memorize 2 Peter 1:2-12 and fuel up.
*Get in gear. Gravity hates you. Intercept your entropy and start moving.
*You’re going to die. There. Now that we’ve got that settled, what’s to fear? Go ahead and live.
*Say, “No.” Stop spending more than you have, or you’ll have nothing to offer. Manage your money, time and energy so you have something to give others. Get yourself in position to help. - Mark Beeson

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Vastness Of Sorrow

Stumbled upon this blog tonight while doing some reading.

The Livesay family works and lives in Haiti; they work with Heartline Ministries and World Wide Village. They lived through the earthquake. Now they are working through the aftermath.

They are on the front lines of this tragedy, and they are sharing what they see and experience via their blog.

It brings it home.

I've posted several times this week about Haiti, and I am reminded that my own years in the Dominican Republic embedded some deep and permanent affection for the island of Hispaniola. I lived and taught school there for three years in the mid-eighties. The impact of Haitian culture and people was clearly felt in the DR; this week, the impact has resonated with part of my own history. I find myself so moved, and so compelled to help. And so reminded of our helplessness.

For me, safely wrapped in cotton pajamas sitting by the gentle spray of a low-wattage light bulb, it is sobering. And almost ridiculous, to know of the vastness - the incredibly overwhelming sheer amount of death and loss and sorrow and pain - and to sit here and read about it. It feels...wrong, somehow...

We're all paying attention now; the world is looking, and seeing the sorrow, the inadequacy, the lack of structure, the way much of the world lives. The way hundreds of thousands of people do life every day. We see the pictures and catch just a glimpse - maybe - of the impact of the earthquake, an event that has illuminated a country whose people live lives so far removed from what we perceive to be "normal".

The street outside the morgue in Port au Prince is stacked five-deep with bodies. Dead bodies. People. Brothers, sisters, wives, sons, mothers, daughters. Babies. I saw a photograph, bodies littered all over the street, stacked up, limbs splayed, bloodied. It was grotesque and disturbing. I forced myself to look, to see those bodies, to try to grasp somehow that each was a person, a soul, a life surprisingly cut short.

It is horrific.

I was at a party tonight. We ate fresh shrimp and dip; chips and brownies. The punch bowl was refilled several times with full cartons of sherbet and fresh bottles of ginger ale.

I spent my evening surrounded by fresh shrimp and Ghiradelli brownies and pleasant conversation.

Haiti is surrounded by death and destruction, confusion and chaos.

I am struggling tonight with this dichotomy, how life can be so safe, sterile and sanitary on one hand, and so completely devastated on the other.

I cannot fully grasp the depth of this human experience. I cannot discern the line that separates us.

I pray that God hears the cries of the people of Haiti. I pray that he heals and restores. I pray that he redeems all that has been broken.

I pray, and I send more money, and I pray.

Help Haiti

If you haven't already supported one of the many aid organizations sending financial help to Haiti, or if you'd like to pool your offering with that of your church family, we will give you a chance to do just that this Sunday at PCC. At the end of Sunday's service we will have a focused time of prayer and an opportunity to help.

PCC is partnering with the Disaster Relief Program of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board to send 100% of your contribution to the recovery work in Haiti. The Disaster Relief Team works in partnership with the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and several other national and international agencies to offer assistance.

Write checks with "Haiti" in the memo line to donate on Sunday.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink...I needed clothes and you clothed me....I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. - Matthew 25

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Checking Out And Getting Things Together

I walked into Food Lion and headed towards the orange juice. A man walked by and did what I now recognize as "the PCC double take". As our church grows, I encounter people in the community who recognize me from the worship band or speaking, though sometimes it takes them a minute to figure out where they know me from. I don't always recognize them.

He saw me, walked on by, and then turned back around and looked again.

"Hey," he said. "Y'all in that new building yet?"

We went on to talk for about 10 minutes. He shared a bit of his story, which includes a wife struggling with a very challenging medical condition and some difficult financial circumstances. Due to their situation, they are in the process of moving to a neighboring county. It's been a rough year.

He said he hasn't been to church in about 2-3 months, but he used to come a good bit with his wife - of almost 40 years - and his kids and grandkids.

"I sat there in the second row. In the middle section."

As we talked and he shared how challenging life had been lately - just in a factual manner, not looking for a handout, sympathy or pity - it really made me think. This guy's been coming to our church for a while; he seems to consider PCC "his church". But as far as I know, when hard times hit, he just checked out to take care of his stuff.

He said, "I'm gonna come back after I get my life together."

Made me wonder how many people are just like this guy, "checking out" of church until they can pull things back together. I wonder how we can reach out to them better. I wonder what will make them want to come back sooner rather than later. I wonder where we missed out on the opportunity to let him know that we would walk through these difficult days with him and his family, that he didn't have to check out and "get his life back in order" before coming back to his middle section, second row seat.

He said one more thing before moving on down the aisle.

"One thing I won't forget. That Bible you guys give away? I got one. I read it - the whole thing. Took me about a year, but I read it."

Helping Haiti

Small steps first.

Grab your cell phone. Text the word 'GIVE' to 2HELP (24357).

You'll see $5 added to your next cell phone bill. It's a miniscule amount, really - but it goes directly to the American Red Cross and their Disaster Relief Fund. They are in place, they are doing what they always do in a crisis.

We're watching and praying, but we need to act. There's more we can do, but you gotta start somewhere.

If every person who stops by this blog occasionally acts, together we could impact the work in Haiti with a few hundred dollars. It's not much, but it will help.

Click here for detailed info.

Apples To Apples

We are learning a new version of family at our house. Adding a new person to the mix, one who has moved past "friend" and "significant other" to "husband" and "stepfather".

This is the part I was really, really anxious about. I just couldn't see it; I had such a strong sense of identity in my home, with my kids. I didn't know how in the world it was going to work.

But, to my surprise, it's been far smoother than I anticipated. A lot of it has to do with the man himself. He is flexible and laid-back in ways that I did not anticipate.

But I think it's given all of us different roles, one that we are embracing, carefully and cautiously. Somehow things have changed and everybody seems to be relaxing, settling down, feeling less stressed and panicked and overwhelmed. It just seems that our burden is shared now, in a way that perhaps we didn't foresee.

Last night after dinner, David - my youngest - declared, "Okay. Now we're going to have a HUGE game of Apples To Apples!" We all had things to do - write thank-you's, study for tests, wash dishes - but this was a first, David organizing a game. So we set aside all our stuff and met for a game of Junior Apples To Apples.

We laughed. We fought, just a bit, in fun.

We had time together. It came in a way that it had never come before. It was sweet, precious fun.

It was new, and I count it as a blessing and joy, a bonus coming from the changes wrought by taking a risk and moving forward. Seems like I'm finding a new kind of contentment.

I'm grateful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We Can't Come Down

Life is beginning to speed up again. A dip in both my attitude and my real-time schedule gave me a bit of a break for about three weeks - but things are amping up, and I find myself waking up each day with a long list of stuff on my mind. Most of it is work related - we are close to moving our church services into our first permanent facility, and with that comes many changes and decisions. At the same time, we plan to launch a second site - to reproduce ourselves - just a few weeks after The Big Move. It sounds insane - and it feels insane - but it's truly what we feel called to do.

If it was easy, I'd be worried. It's not easy. It's challenging and confusing and overwhelming. We - our staff - finding ourselves freaking out at various times during the day. With just cause.

It's challenging because it's new and fresh, unlike anything we've ever done. Everything in our future as an organization seems discombobulated - service schedules, office locations, signage, set-up, service length, leadership teams. We have no idea how to do church at a movie theater, which is where our second location will be.

Everything seems discombobulated, with more unanswered questions than any of us are comfortable with.

And's in wrestling with the questions that we find answers, and discover more about ourselves, and - most importantly - redefine just why in the world we are in the middle of such a chaotic and challenging mess.

We know why we do this.

We are called. Our church is a living organism that breathes the truth of this one thing: God loves people. Many people are very far from him. We want to help. And this mission - this holy discontent - drives us to our knees begging for guidance, and draws us up to the challenge of - again, again and again - doing whatever it takes.

So - crazy times for us. We can't even decide what to call the church(es) in their new, separate locations. As my coworker Susan said today, we are having a bit of an identity crisis.

But it's only regarding the external. We know who we are. We know why we're here.

We're doing a good work. We can't come down.

We're getting 'er done.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January Morning

Monday. Good morning.

Moving slowly, but with purpose. Feeling some solid footing.

Cold, because the temperatures are too low for my heat pump to handle.

Thinking carefully about the unfolding of the future, the responsibilities ahead of me.

The days to come are brimming with promise.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tips For A Great Honeymoon

Let me tell you how to do an awesome honeymoon.

1. Beach house.
2. No schedule.
3. Movies. Three in one week - all stellar. So far, we've seen "The Blind Side", "It's Complicated" and "Avatar". Awesome, each one.
4. No schedule.
5. Food. Oh, the food. So much food. Gained back every pound I lost before the wedding, and more. But worth it? YES.
6. No schedule.
7. Cocoa Krispies.
8. A lighthouse.
9. Touristy stuff - museums, aquariums, etc.
10. No schedule.
11. No wi-fi in the afore-mentioned beach house.
12. No schedule.
13. Naps, as needed.
14. No schedule.
15. Keep your best friend/spouse close at hand, 24/7.
16. At least six times a day, look at each other and say, "OMG. WE'RE MARRIED!!!!"

We have had such an amazing, wonderful, blessed week. Feeling so full of gratitude....