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for the last 3 or 4 sundays i’ve had at least one of our elderly ladies at Christian Church Buckhead tell me that I look just like Jesus.

yes, I have long hair. yes, I have a beard (that I desperately need to trim). but do I look like Jesus?

maybe the suburban white Jesus. but not the real Jesus. not that I’m an expert on what Jews looked like 2000 years ago, but my guess is that Jesus was probably skinny and, well, Jewish looking…

here’s a quick rendering of an old eastern orthodox painting of me as Jesus. i’m pretty proud of the halo/orb/glowy thing. note the contemplative, sincere, compassionate (but authoritative) look. i practiced by watching Zoolander. blue steel FTW!

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i don’t even know what to say..

let me begin by saying that up until a year or so ago i had zero understanding of autism and aspberger’s syndrome.

the church i attend. Christian Church Buckhead, is unique in that it has a special needs children’s ministry that is centered around serving autistic children and their parents. my wife and i are both involved in the children’s ministry and i have seen autism and aspberger’s first hand.

neither disability is the product of bad parenting. to say so is ludicrous. saying an autistic kid needs to “suck it up” and “be normal” is like telling a kid with cancer to “just get over it” and “feel better”.

i bet the parents of these kids in our thriving special needs ministry WISHED and probably PRAY that they had a “brat” rather than a kid with a genuine problem.

enough about savage. he’s a moron. he gets zero respect from adam.

our special needs ministry is full of great kids with big problems. it’s headed up by a married couple, both PhD behavioral analysts, who specialize in autism. their day job is ownership and leadership of a school for severely autistic children. they are passionate about the struggle of both autistic kids and their parents.

we constantly hear stories from parents who have been asked to leave other churches because their kids are “too wild” or “bad”. we hear stories about how one parent had to stay home with their autistic child while the other went to church. we see the reports that say almost 90% of marriages end up in divorce when one of their children is diagnosed with autism.

being able to shine some love into these lives and give a little stress relief is a huge blessing, and i believe God has big things in store for our special needs ministry.

go read my wife’s latest post for her take on last night’s service at buckhead church. we taught sunday school at CCB yesterday morning, and when we do that we always head to buckhead church for some worship and a message.

a couple of things i wanted to note.

i’d never seen andy stanley on the video feed before. it was strange but it seemed to work well. the audio track was a bit off from the video, however, and it was incredibly distracting for a technology nerd like me.. tell me, buckhead church people, is it always like that or was it a fluke?

worship, wow. steve fee led yesterday at buckhead church and he’s pretty great. i’d never seen him live before. i went to 7:22 a few years ago when i was in college and was blown away by todd fields and the worship. it was a 100% rock show.

i was very torn as to whether or not i liked it. i’m a musician, and it’s easy for me to pick things apart. when I’m not playing at CCB i always watch with a critical eye, and i prevent myself from really getting into worship. it’s something i think most musicians deal with to some degree.

at first i thought i wouldn’t like the “rock show” at buckhead church, but i’ve decided that i really do, and it’s for a silly reason. these guys don’t make mistakes. well, they do, but you really have to be watching to notice, and even then they are pretty dang good. the sound is perfect and the presentation is perfect. it helps me get past my own issues. i’m sure los could pick it apart for me, but i’m a fairly well experience and informed guy when it comes to tech/sound/music and i can’t think of anything to pick at.

don’t get me wrong, i worship God at CCB. it’s my home, and i love worshipping with the people there. but sometimes something different can help refocus. worship doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does it have to be “bad” or “organic” (whatever that means) in order to be true. it’s the change of pace that i like. maybe next time i’ll go to a high school worship service…

oh, and los, if you’re reading, i saw lots of hands up last night. the master plan is working!

we’re back!

after 3115 miles of driving (!), 2 and a half days of construction, one overturned tractor trailer, one poor guy who was run off the road, a couple of smashed thumbs, some minor cuts and abrasions and lots of prayer we ended up with this:

a double sized Casas por Cristo house for this family:

this is my 6th or 7th time building a Casas home in Juarez – i’m not exactly sure. what i am sure of, however, is the incredible impact that this organization is making in Juarez.

Casas por Cristo is celebrating 15 years of ministry this year. since the inception Casas has built 3300+ homes, which means that somewhere around 15,000 people are now living in quality housing rather than tar paper and pallet shacks.

i’m proud that Christian Church Buckhead has chosen to partner with Casas por Cristo in annual mission trips.

i’ll be posting some more insight from the trip this week, so check back later. thanks to my friend Kurtis for putting this short video together. more is on the way!

kristy and i had a busy weekend. friday night we were busy around the house, then saturday we spent all day getting ready for and executing a party for my pal SPC dave who is shipping off to war sometime in the near future.

sunday AM we woke up tired and drove over to our church, CCB. i led music for the kids and then kristy and i tag teamed sunday school for 1st-5th graders. it was a blast as usual.

once we got home we collapsed. ricky went straight to bed and i played with rachel for a while. then they swapped – ricky was up, rachel went down for a nap. they never sleep at the same time. i had a great time enjoying my kids on father’s day.

since we missed the service, we packed everyone up and headed over to the friendly neighborhood megachurch, Buckhead Church to get in a service. it was our first visit and it was something else.

first, a little background on CCB. we started in a strip club. a closed, run down, junky, nasty strip club. we renovated and had services there for a while. after the strip club we went to the AMC theaters at phipps plaza mall. we set everything up and tore it down every sunday. it was fun for a while but we started to get worn out. and i think everyone was tired of their shoes sticking to the nasty floor. i’ll never look at a movie theater the same way again. as a matter of fact, i’ll probably just join netflix.

a while back we stumbled onto a good thing in buckhead on peachtree street right next to maggianos. the christian scientists had moved out of their spartan building and it was sitting empty. some big hotel chain has bought the property and will build yet another high rise condo/hotel building, but apparently it’s slow going. we’ve been there for a while and we’re just starting the process of looking for another building.

so here we go visiting Buckhead Church.

the first thing i noticed was the parking. they have a deck. their OWN deck. wow. real estate in buckhead is $$$$$$$ and parking decks aren’t cheap.

we rode the elevator up to Waumba Land – their kids area. they have 3 elevators. when we got off the elevator we saw some escalators. i felt like i was at the world congress center! the Waumba Land reps had us fill out some receipts for our children and we took them down the immaculate, incredibly well decorated hallways to their classrooms. Rachel was with a bunch of other little ones and Ricky was with some kinda little ones like him in another room. the Waumba Land workers were very nice and we felt safe leaving our kids with them. well, as safe as a parent ever feels leaving their kids with someone…

then we leave and i notice the old school Land Rover sitting in the hall outside Waumba Land for decoration. how appropriate, a Land Rover in buckhead! i chortled.

we rode the escalator up and went into the worship area which is essentially a big warehouse-style box. it was minimalist and i liked it. the Buckhead Church people know where to spend their money, and gaudy cathedral-esque decorations in the worship area is not that place. they hit a home run here.

being the nerd that i am i was immediately wowed by the tech booth. they had some sound/light/video gear i’ve only seen at arena concerts. way cool. then i noticed the sound reinforcement. same thing, arena concert. i thought to myself “this is going to be good”..

we sat close to the front because i wanted to see the musicians up close. like any other musician i always compare myself and my gear to whoever i’m looking at. gear? they had it. chops? they had em. i was impressed. the production was top notch as well. Casey Darnell led worship and he was great. they played some steve fee and some todd fields music – northpoint association alumni. Buckhead Church is the place to play in the ATL if you want to get into the Jesus music biz.

i was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see the fabled holographic Andy Stanley, but hearing Jeff Henderson speak was pretty good. Jeff is a good communicator and he busted out some hebrew – good stuff.

we stopped by and spoke to our friend Carlos Whittaker afterwards – he produced the services yesterday. he’s inundated with people but he immediately remembered us from his visit with the CCB volunteer team a few weeks ago. he’s a great guy. go read his blog.

my takeaways:

  • there are a lot of white people at Buckhead Church. i mean a LOT.
  • the band was 37.5% not white, which is awesome. i hope that bleeds into their crowd.
  • CCB and Buckhead Church are worlds apart but we have the same dream and vision to glorify God. very cool.
  • exactly 5 staff/volunteer people said hello to us besides Carlos. Carlos doesn’t count since we had to go find him 🙂
  • of those 5 only one said anything more than hello – and it was the lady explaining how to reclaim our children after their Waumba Land experience. oh, she told us what to do if our number pops up on the screen too (that means one of them is melting down)
  • a few people shook my hand since i’m a dad. they made us stand up and i didn’t see a lot of dads in the crowd. interesting.
  • big, nice buildings are nice
  • big, nice buildings can distract if you aren’t careful. Buckhead Church is careful. good job!
  • i need to practice my guitar and bass!
  • killer, high tech, professional worship can still be heartfelt and true.
  • we’re in it together.

that’s it. Buckhead Church has a lot of growing to do and a lot of potential. so does CCB. we do things differently. our budgets are massively disproportionate. our hearts aren’t.

it might sound strange to say that the mighty Northpoint/Buckhead Church has growth potential, but as long as there’s someone in Atlanta who hasn’t experienced the love of Christ then EVERY church has work to do.

next time kristy and i teach sunday school we’ll be back at Buckhead Church..

Well here I sit at church ready to lead music in Sunday school for the first time.. I have been stressing about this much more than when I play in front of the 200-something people we usually have upstairs each week..

Even more stressful is the fact that I have to teach the lesson alone! My son has a fever so he’s staying home with mommy, my co-teacher.

Anyway, this is totally outside my comfort zone, so wish me luck!

the corner bakery is the CCB hangout. we will all be sad when we move, which is inevitable. this place has brought us great friendships, a great place to meet over some coffee, and good food.

derek and i just finished up a meeting about the upcoming CCB Casas por Cristo mission trip. for the third year we’re taking a group of people from atlanta to juarez, mexico to build a house for some deserving people.

in Juarez, one of the largest US/Mexico border towns, the average family of four people earns $53 per week. they live in homes built of scrap lumber and found materials. babies and small kids go without medical care and readily available clean water for drinking and bathing.

it’s a pretty big stretch for our people, from the relatively affluent community of Atlanta, to ride in a cramped van for 2 days to get to west texas, to live in bad conditions for a few days, and do work their tails off to build a modest house for these people in need. it’s a reality check and it tugs at your heart strings.

i encourage everyone out there reading to do something like this at some point. step outside of your environment and experience what it means to reach out and meet someone’s most basic need of shelter.

Mark 10:42-46:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

join us in prayer on the trip this year! here are a few photos from trips past… enjoy!

cpc kid

cpc 06 group

juarez

juarez house