The Bigger Picture

No matter how big or small a church is, sooner or later they will all run into the same issue, not having enough volunteers.  We have been so blessed at LifePoint to have a phenomenal group of volunteers and volunteer leaders, but we can always use more. 

So why do our volunteers do what they do?  I mean, there is nothing glorious about waving people into a parking lot, or changing someone else’s kids diaper and watching them for an hour, or showing up at 8am to set up chairs.  Why in the world would people take their time and sacrifice so that others can go into a service?

This is why…they are been changed by the gospel!  And because they have been changed by the gospel, they want others to experience that same change.  If you are a disciple of Jesus, at some point in your life you knew what it was like to be far from God.  You knew what it was like to have a marriage that was falling apart, or a life that was dependent on drugs or alcohol, or a life that was so self-absorbed that you couldn’t see your need for a Savior.  If you are a believer, remember that feeling.  Remember that feeling because every Sunday morning there are people that show up at LifePoint that are far from God, and need to know the same love that you now know. 

So when you volunteer, you are giving those people the opportunity to sit and listen to the life-transforming gospel of Jesus.  That marriage that is falling apart, they have kids, and they are not going to leave their kids somewhere they do not feel comfortable.  So when they are greeted in Kidzlife with a warm smile and their children are excited about church, you are allowing them the peace of mind to listen to the gospel without worry.  As a volunteer you are not only caring for their children, you could be saving their marriage. 

That person that is deep in depression, when one of our greeters looks them in eye and gives them a smile and a hello, that may be the first smile anyone has given them in weeks.  That smile and hello may be the catalyst that opens their heart to the gospel.  As a volunteer you are not only shaking their hand and welcoming them to our church, but you could be saving their soul from an eternity away from God. 

LifePoint Church – volunteering is not an obligation, it is a privilege!  It’s a way to carry out the Great Commission.  We have baptized 13 people this month and have several more that have made decisions to follow Jesus that will be baptized next month.  If you are a volunteer, let me say “thank you” because you each had a part in seeing them go from death to life!!!

If you want to become a volunteer you can send LifePoint Church a Facebook message and we will contact you, or you can send an email to me blake_pitts@yahoo.com

The Start of Something Special

I’m not sure how else to start this blog other than saying…I’m blown away.  This past Sunday, a group of people called LifePoint Church, had their first ever service.  I happen to be the pastor of this group of people, and I am the most blessed person in the world. 

For three months our leadership team has asked much of them.  We have challenged them to think about church differently.  To go about starting a church unconventionally.  To trust us, even though sometimes we didn’t know what we were doing ourselves.  We were doing our best to follow God’s leading, and they trusted us enough to follow along.  We’ve ask them to give to something that they couldn’t quite see the fruit of yet.  To sacrifice time and effort for a cause we all believed in, but didn’t quite know what it would look like. 

They took on every challenge head on and they have done all this for one reason…to make disciples in Oconee County. 

LifePoint Church I am so proud of you.  We had way over 70 volunteers Sunday, two packed-out services in which we were putting extra chairs in the back, and dozens of people sign up to volunteer or join a LifeGroup.  Sunday was just the beginning of a movement in Oconee County.  A movement in which we will see people come to a saving faith in Christ.  A movement where the people of God will SERVE our community like Jesus would. 

I’m proud to be your pastor.  This is just the START of something special. 

We Have a Name!

Well…finally…we have a name.  Most of you already know but I guess I should make it official.  And we all know that nothing is official until it shows up on the internet somewhere via blog or facebook or twitter or jailblotter or…

For those of you who don’t know what we are naming scroll down this page a bit.  A couple of months ago we started this venture of planting a church.  God has blessed us so much.  We have a core group of about 150 people and God is using them to do amazing things in our community (more on that in a minute), but back to the issue at hand.  We have been meeting together for over a month in small groups, but remained nameless, until now.  The name of our church is…Lifepoint Church (trumpets sound).

I love it!  Our leadership team really wanted to have the word LIFE in the name because “living LIFE together” is so much apart of our DNA and who we feel like God is calling us to be.  We want to introduce those who are far from God to the giver of LIFE and grow in Christ as we experience LIFE together as a church body. 

What does it mean to live life together?  It means we need each other.  We need each other more than just an hour and 15 minutes on Sunday morning .  As believers, if we are going to DO the things that God has called us to do, we need each other.   We need more than a great worship experience (now, I love great worship experiences and starting June 2nd we are going to have great worship experiences with Jesus.  I can’t wait!!!) but we need each other to stay accountable to what we learn through those experiences and to encourage each other through our disappointments and hurts. 

I had the honor of meeting with about 13 of our Life Group leaders on Sunday.  When we started Lifepoint, we challenge these leaders and their groups to get involved in the community.  We charged them to not just be another Bible study, but be THE CHURCH, the hands and feet of Jesus in Oconee County.   I can’t explain the excitement I felt as we went around the room and each leader described how their group is being mobilized to serve our community.  Some are providing clothes and gift cards for fire victims.  Some are strategizing on the best way to feed elemtary school students that don’t have food. Some are investigating why those children don’t have food and longing to find a remedy to the origin of that problem.  Some are creating relationships with chidren whose parents are temporarily or permanently not involved in their lives.  Some are working with organizations that help kids get a head start on their education.  Some are wanting to get started helping feed the hungry in our county.  As I sat and listened to each leader talk about the ways their groups were engaging our community I thought to myself, “their groups have only been meeting for 3 weeks!  THIS IS WHAT THE CHURCH IS SUPPOSE TO DO!” We are to serve our community in the name of our Savour and for His sake.  I can’t wait to see how these people are going to change Oconee county once our groups get establish.  Imagine what this conversation could be like 6 months, a year, or 5 years down the road!  Imagine all the opportunities for conversations about why they are doing what they are doing.  Imagine all the opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus to people who are distressed and hurting.

Imagine all the opportunities we will have for our LIFE to POINT people to Jesus. (Did you see what I did there ;)

Few dates to put on your calendar:

*March 30th – Easter Saturday – We are going to meet at Biggerstaff at 4pm.  We will have a short service with a little something for everyone (kids and adults), we will eat supper (covered dish so bring plenty of food:), and then have an Easter egg hunt for all the kids.  I think there will be an inflatible there too, so there will be all kinds of fun to be had.  Be there and INVITE SOMEONE!  This is a GREAT opportunity to invite someone that you are trying to get involved in your Life Group. 

*April 21st and May 12th - Sunday night worship.  We are going to worship together once a month before we start getting together weekly on…

*June 2 - Begin having services weekly. 

 

Multiplication: More than just Math

One of the words that God has been reminding me of over and over again is multiply.  The concept is scattered throughout the bible.  From Genesis, when God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and mulitply, to Jesus multiplying food for thousands of people.  If multiplication is such a biblical principle, why is the church so bad at it?  The last command he gave to his disciples was…multiply.  Go and tell the world about me and make disciples.

As we began to plan for this church plant, we wanted multiplication to be a key component of this ministry.  We want to multiply disciples.  Believers truly become disciples when they make other disciples.  Disciples make disciples, it’s disciple cycles.  The basis of our Life Groups is for disciples of Jesus to learn the bible and serve our community.  Through this we expect to see multiplication.

Another aspect of multiplication we want to see in this ministry is to multiply churches.  We want to be a church that plants churches.  Think about it - for example – let’s say that a church meets in a place that holds 300 people.  When the church reaches compacity in their worship area, what do they do?  They build a bigger auditorium.  Which cost MONEY.  So we spend our time raising money and we spend our money on bigger buildings.  I’m not saying that’s wrong and I’m not saying that we will never build a building.  But what if we took 50 people and planted a church in Walhalla or Westminster or West Union?  And we saved money on building buildings and do ministry with it, met needs with it, and fulfilled the Great Commission with it.  Oconee county doesn’t need another BIG church, we need a church that is willing to plant churches and meet needs within the context of each community.  And when we begin to mulitply churches (body’s of believers in different communities), then I believe we will see a dynamic multiplication of disciples.

I want to challenge our Life Groups that are going to start meeting this Sunday, if you are reading this…What if God is calling your Life Group to be the core group that plants a church somewhere in Oconee County?  Are you prepared for that?  Is God growing you in such a way to where you would be willing to leave your comfort zone and help start another church in our county.  You may be thinking, “Blake, we haven’t even planted this church yet?”  I understand that, but I’m believing God will call out people within this church to multiply churches from the very beginning.

Start thinking BIG!!!

Blake

New Beginnings

Okay…so it’s been a while since I have posted a blog, but I have a pretty good excuse.  ALOT has changed since the last time I posted.  We have returned home with our little Asian and she is doing great!  She has adjusted so well to America and our boys.  They love her, a little too much sometimes and she gets aggitated because they smother her, but all-in-all it’s a good relationship.

About a month ago I resigned as the Pastor of Grace Baptist Church after a little over 4 years.  My time at Grace was wonderful and I’m thankful for every second God allowed me to be the pastor there, but he has moved me on and I’m looking forward to what is next!

Which brings me to the reason for this post.  I announced a few weeks ago that I was going to be planting a church in Oconee County.  We have since had an informational meeting where we had OVER 100 ADULTS in attendance.  I was blown away by the amount of interest and the spiritual hunger for change in our county.

Since that announcement and meeting, I have received calls, FB messages and emails asking about the church and I thought that this blog would be a good way to dissiminate that information.  So here we go…

I want to start by giving you some info on our purpose…

Our purpose is derived out of 1 Thessalonians 2:8 which says, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

There are 3 words in this verse that sum up what THE Church should be about…love, share, live.

Love:  The first thing we want to see people do is to fall in love with Jesus.  As a body of
believers, everything we do should be birth out of love.  In 1 Corinthians 13 we are told that we can have all kinds of great things in our lives, but if we don’t have love, we have nothing.

As a church, we are going to do everything possible to show people the love of Jesus.  From the time someone drives into the parking lot, to when they are greeted coming through the doors, to the way we take care of children, to the music, to the sermon, we will do our best to show people the love of Jesus.  It doesn’t matter who they are or what they have been through, we just want to give them a clear view of the love of God.

Share: It is natural to want to share the things we love.  When Roz and I got together she couldn’t quit sharing with her friends how great I was ;)

We are going to put lots of emphasis and training on sharing the gospel.  And this is why…we are going to try our best to attract people to our services (going to have great music and hopefully good speaking), but you work with a group of people, you go to family reunions with a group of people, you go out to eat on the weekends with a group of people that will never walk into a church.  We want you prepared to share when God brings that life-changing encounter along during your daily lives.

Live:  This is soooo important!  God created us to live life together.  To share our struggles and successes.  To grow and pray together.  In the New Testament we see two ways that the church met.  In large groups in the temple and in small groups in homes.  The American church has put so much emphasis on the Sunday morining meeting time.  It has become the main event.  Most churches judge themselves on how good their worship time is on Sunday mornings.  Think about it.  How many people did we have?  How much money did we take in?  How was the music?  Is the preacher any good? Sunday morning is important, but I don’t believe it should be the end game.  I am convinced that real life change and transformation happens when small groups of believers meeting together and grow together.  I believe that small groups give us a better chance to serve and become more like Jesus, and to see dynamic growth in the church.

If we do not take people to the next step of becoming invovled in small groups, they miss out on part of what God has intended the church to be about, and we become an empty show on Sunday mornings.

We are going to start small groups this coming Sunday, February 24th, and we are going to have small groups meeting for 3 months before we ever have a worship service.  The reason for that is we want small groups to become a vital part of our lives before we start services.   We don’t want it to just be talk, but reality.  I have challenged our small groups to double in size by the time we start worship services.  I have ask God for this because I want our people to realize that THEY are THE CHURCH and that growth happens, not because a preacher gets up and preaches a good sermon or because we play culturally relevant music but because the people of God are mobilized and prepared to reach a community that doesn’t know God.

There is so much more I want to share with you, but for the sake of the length of this post I will share it later this week.

We are having a Life Groups (that’s what we are calling our small groups) Launch service THIS SUNDAY AT 6 at OCA!  I’m so excited!  If you were not at the informational meeting we had a few weeks ago and you have not signed up for a Life Group, it’s ok.  Come to the service and we will sign you up and plug you into a group that night.  Hope to see you there!

Blake

ps. If you are wondering what the name of the church is, hopefully we will be able to share that this Sunday.  FIngers crossed.  Also, if you are wondering when our first service together will be…it will be June 2nd.  Then we will officially launch as a church on September 8th.

Living Out of Suitcases in Strange Places

Hello all - I haven’t blogged in a couple of days because we have been very busy, which is an answered prayer.  If you will recall, in my last blog I ask for prayers to make the time go by faster as we are homesick.  Those prayers were answered as we flew into Guangzhou on Friday afternooon.  Guangzhou is like the South Beach of China and all of the other families in our group are here.  It was so good to get to see them again.  Since we have been here we’ve had plenty of fellowship time so the loneliness of the trip has passed.  Guangzhou is a wonderful place and we are staying at a five star hotel so that always helps!

The power of “community” is amazing!  We are so blessed to have such a great “community” at home that has been praying for us, and a wonderful “community” of people here in China.  It is just another proof that we need each other.  God has been teaching me some powerful things while I am here.  The cool thing about this experience has been seeing the Gospel in action.  Not just reading it, but seeing it!  The love that these parents already have for their adopted children is inspiring.  I have much more to say about that, but you may have to come to Grace to hear it:)

Yesterday, we went to a clinic for a medical check-up for Mae Lee.  She is strong and healthy.  Then, we went out for a “western” meal, that didn’t turn out to be so western.  Let me put it this way…Roz ordered grilled chicken and when she got it, it was still bleeding.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.  We are supposed to eat Chinese food tonight so pray for my stomach.

I few trip tidbits…

*We had to wake Mae Lee up at 7:45 this morning to get to breakfast.  That’s the longest she has slept so Roz and I are pretty pumped about that.

*I gotta get back to the states…I’m shedding weight like it’s my job.  I’m down to 165lbs.  And no, that’s not a good thing.  Every Chinese hotel we have been in has a scale, which is interesting.

*All the natives dress their children in “split pants”.  If you don’t know what it is google it.  With all due respect to the Chinese people, it’s ridiculous.  I saw a child stop on the sidewalk today and use the bathroom right there in front of everyone…oh boy.  I watch to make sure I’m not stepping in any puddles now.

*We have been able to skype with the boys everyday.  Mae Lee was very happy this morning as we talked with them.  She has no idea what she is about to get herself into with those two.

*Roz rode the subway today for the first time.  It cost $0.30.

*The flight to Guangzhou was not nearly as scary as the ride from the airport to the hotel.  Not sure I’ve ever feared for my life more.  Do you remember going into the arcade and playing the racing games that simulate driving through the city.  And as you drive, you can run up on the sidewalk and take out street lamps and benches and people and whatever.  That’s what the ride felt like…and I’m not exagerrating.

***Extremely sad to hear what happened in Conneticutt.  Only a pure act of evil could do something like that.  Stuff like this hits harder when you can relate to the victims.  Roz just cried as she read what had happened.  Having children that age and being a teacher herself…it just really hits close to home.  I’m sure you all hugged your children a little tighter last night.  I can’t wait till I can hug all of mine tighter, but that will have to wait until Wednesday.

3 days!!!

Blake

2nd Leg

Here’s some advice…never give your buddy the password to your blog and expect it not to get hijacked.  Even though my last blog was so eloquently written from my perspective, and much of it is true, if you know Roz and I at all you could tell that Brad Henderson was the author, and culprit of the tackiness that now adorns my home.  I do want to thank those guys though.  It was a much needed bit of humor in this 2nd leg of our trip.

We have been in Nanjing since Sunday.  This has been the toughest part of the trip by far.  As I mentioned last time, homesickness has set in for both of us.  We are ready to see our boys(my mom sent me pictures of Lawton in his Christmas program and it physically hurts to look at them).  We are ready to sleep in our beds.  And we are ready to eat a monster steak.  But the worst part about being in China right now is the loneliness.  We traveled to China with a group of several families.  We parted ways with them on Sunday for each family to travel to the province their child lives.  We are the only family in Nanjing.  There are very few Americans here.  Everytime the three of us go out people look at us like we have the plague.  I know it is probably odd to see 2 Americans with a Chinese baby, but you think people could try to hide the fact that they are staring.  So we have basically sat in our hotel room for the last 4 days, and if you know me, that has been torture.

We got out more today than we have all week.  We went to the kids park on the 4th floor in the mall and let Mae Lee play.  We went to the Confucius Temple tonight, which is not a temple at all, but a public meeting place with lots of shops.  Sorted Duck is famous here and you can buy duck in a bag and eat it straight out of the bag (see pic).  I’m telling you, the stuff they eat here is interesting, to say it nicely.

Mae Lee is doing well.  One of her caretakers told us the day we picked her up that “she can have a temper” and “she can be stubborn”.  The first two days we had Mae Lee a was beginning to think the woman didn’t know what she was talking about.  Well…I guess she is getting more comfortable with us. We were driving today and she threw a temper tantrum.  It spilled over to when we got back to the hotel for about 30 minutes.  She was really tired because she was off of her nap schedule (and she has just been ripped away from everything she has ever know).  But she rebounded back to her adorable self after her nap and was so sweet all night.  Even though we have been awefully bored sitting in this hotel room it has been a great time to just get to know her.  She loves to smile and laugh.  You guys are going to love her so much.

We leave for Guangzhou tomorrow afternoon.  We are sooo looking forward to it.  1) Because the temperature is suppose to be in the upper 70′s 2) we reunite with all the families we traveled with.  Getting back together with those guys is going to be so nice, and will make the time go by much faster.

If you are wondering in what ways you can pray for us right now here are a few…

*Pray for safe travel.  We fly tomorrow and then again on Wednesday.

*Pray that time goes by quickly.  Didn’t think it was going to be this hard to be away from the boys.

*Pray hard for our 14 hour flight home with Mae Lee.  If she starts with a fit on the flight it’s going to be a long, long 14 hours.

Another note – this trip has given me a whole new respect for foreign missionaries, people who abandon their life and immerse themselves in a different culture.  I will comment more on that in a future blog.

Blake

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Us at the Mausoleum of the man who brought short lived democracy to China in the early 1900′s.

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View from the top beside the Mausoleum.  Its 392 steps to the top.

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Duck in a bag…yummy!

Eager to Get Home

Looking back, I do not believe Roz and I could have waited another week to receive our precious little Mae Lee.  At the same time, as we look ahead to the day we go home, it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to get here.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I’m really getting tired of the Chinese food and as a result, I have learned most everyone’s name at the McDonald’s near our hotel (not really but you get the point). 

I keep envisioning our family (all 5 of us now) together in our own home at the same time.  I am so looking forward to that moment!  There is just something about your own bed, your own shower, your own “normal” that does the heart good.  I’m ready to establish some new “normals” with Mae Lee in our hometown of Seneca and the surrounding area too.  I’m sure she’ll grow to love Cookout restaurant as much as I do.  I’m sure she’ll grow to love the same people that Roz and I both know and love.  There are so many firsts for her and for us and we can’t wait to experience them together.

The weeks leading up to our departure date were anything but normal.  Those few weeks were so hectic as it didn’t seem like we had sufficient time to talk to Santa for the boys and decorate our home for Christmas; however, I have the absolute best friends in the world!  I mentioned to my friends that I needed some help decorating the house for the season so that it would feel like Christmas when I returned home and they all pitched in and made our home come alive for the season.  Check out the attached pictures in my next blog!

Some of you may know Tucker Harding.  Well, he can make anything come to life with power tools.  Of course, he had to have some help from Brad Henderson, Joey Rice, Brian McGhee, and Jack Spearman.  I’m not sure what I would do without these guys in my life.  They each love the Lord and are so willing to give of their time, energy, and resources anytime that I’ve ever needed them.  They have helped out so much since we’ve been in China and I am forever indebted to them.

For instance, Roz and I have always wanted a life-sized Santa Claus on our roof for Christmas but I’m not good with that kind of stuff.  Roz and I have always had a simple Christmas setup with lighted deer in the yard and small trees by the front door but we wanted to do a little more for Mae Lee and the boys this year.  I asked my  friends to help and they did an awesome job.  They even found a way to work Roz’s favorite bird (flamingos) into the décor.  I know a lot of people find these birds to be tacky but she fell in love with flamingos in 1993 on a middle school field trip to the Riverbanks Zoo.  I guess to each his own :) The roof arrangement looks absolutely awesome and I appreciate my boys doing this for me and Roz.  Everything looks better than we could have imagined except for the dangling lights.  Brian texted me and said that they ran out of hanging clips but that they would get the lights attached back to the gutter in the next day or two.  THANKS AGAIN GUYS! 

Again, I cannot wait to see my own bed, my own shower, my hometown, and yes…my Christmas decorations.  In the meantime, we’re going to spend the remainder of our time in China loving on our awesome DAUGHTER, Mae Lee.  God is good and he has blessed us in so many ways! Thanks for your prayers for a smooth transition.  We have definitely seen your prayers being answered as our transition with Mae Lee is going great!  Also, thanks ahead of time for praying for a safe trip home for us!

 

 

It’s Official

 

It’s official!  Mae Lee is now officially a “Pitts”.  I would dare to say she is the only natural born Chinese Pitts in the country.

Mae Lee slept great last night.  She went down around 7:45pm and woke up about 7am.  Today was registration day.  We had to be that the Civil Affairs Office at 8:30am to finalize the adoption.  The whole process took less than 30 minutes.  We had to sign a few official documents and answer some questions.  We also had to promise that we would never abandon or abuse her.

When I look at her I can’t imagine what circumstances would ever lead someone to abandon her.  I don’t know the situation that her parents were in and I try not to judge them.  What I do know is that God is in control and there is no doubt that she was meant to be our daughter.

When we were done at the CA Office Denise, our guide, came to us and said, “she is officially yours!”

Now that we have Mae Lee we are really getting homesick.  I’m just going to be honest…I hate Chinese food.  I can’t stand the smell of noodles and I’m tired of looking at meat and not knowing what animal it is.   Roz and I joked before we left that we would probably eat McD’s every meal.  As of today, we have eaten McDonalds five straight meals.  They have a Subway and a Papa John’s here, but the Chinese have found a way to make a Subway sandwich and a pepperoni pizza smell and taste like noodles and congee.  McD’s is the only place that still tastes like…well…McD’s and right now, that’s a good thing.

We are here in Nanjing until Friday when we will receive Mae Lee’s passport and then it is off to Guangzhou to apply for her visa to return to the United States.  We will do some site seeing here in Nanjing over the next couple of days and learn more about her province.  I’m really looking forward to going to Guangzhou because we will meet back up with the families we toured Beijing with.  Looking forward to seeing them again with their new additions.

Here’s some pics from today…

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