Posted in Uncategorized | By Tom Boston | Posted on Thu Dec 20, 2018
At a special called business meeting on Wednesday evening, December 12, 2018, Pastor Danny, Scott Gurosky (President of MG&A), and Randy Pittman (church treasurer and longtime Shades member) spoke and answered questions about the project’s scope, cost, and financing. Mr. Pittman submitted a motion on behalf of the Finance Committee and Deacons unanimously recommending that we move forward with the NEXT initiative by using a combination of pledged funds and the necessary debt to complete the project with a maximum investment not to exceed $11.8 million. The church body then voted to move forward with the NEXT Initiative! Construction will begin Monday, February 11, 2019, following our Global Impact Celebration.
For more information on NEXT, click here.
Posted in Caring | By Shades Staff | Posted on Wed Nov 21, 2018
Editor's Note: There are currently 1,067 foster children in Jefferson County and more than 1,100 throughout the state of Alabama. Birmingham is one of the five most churched cities in the nation. If one family from a third of the churches in our city would engage in foster care, there would be no more foster children in Jefferson County.
We're in the midst of Shades' Orphan Care Ministry's annual Backpack and Christmas Wishlist drive supporting the foster care systems in Jefferson and Shelby Counties. This is a guest post by Shades members, Eric and Monica Moses, who write about their interaction with orphan care.
Fostering and possibly adopting has been something that Monica and I have always had an open dialog about and something we have both considered. We just feel like there was no greater representation of the gospel in our own lives than taking care of “the least of these.”
I guess our first exposure to the foster system was through Monica’s work. She was an attorney in private practice and was involved a lot in the juvenile court system. Advocating for these children was the thing she enjoyed the most. She wanted to be the one to fight for them when no one else would. About a year-and-a-half ago she was presented with an opportunity to practice with DHR for the state of Alabama. This new opportunity would afford her the opportunity to advocate these children on a daily basis and fight for what is best for them.
Things really started hitting close to home last year when Shades did the Christmas wishlist for the Orphan Care Ministry. We always loved doing the backpack drive for DHR so we decided that we would participate in the Christmas wishlist drive last year.
As the service ended, we made our way out to the Christmas tree in the lobby where the names were. We finally made it up to the tree and when we got there, it was empty. As we walked away slightly disappointed, another couple offered us one of the tags that they had gotten. As we were walking away, Monica looked at the name and stopped right where she was. This person had given us the name of a child that Monica was in court for just the week before. What are the chances? 100%!
We viewed this as God opening the door for us to take advantage of this situation and possibly move forward in our journey. We are not sure where this road may take us, especially with the role that Monica plays in DHR, but we are excited to see where God will show up and guide us as to what he wants from us.
Posted in Uncategorized | By Shades Staff | Posted on Sun Nov 4, 2018
Come and Worship: Christmas by Candlelight 2018 is approaching. We're thrilled to be joined by special guests Act of Congress this year. Be sure to mark Sunday, Dec. 2 on your calendar; we have shows at 2 and 6 p.m. Admission is free, and seats are first-come, first-serve.
In anticipation of this cherished Shades tradition, we wanted to take a look back at some highlights from recent years.
Posted in Adults | By Bradley Patton | Posted on Mon Oct 29, 2018
I’d like to consider with you our calling. And I’d like to do so through the lens of 1 Corinthians 1. Paul gets at a few things in the text; what does it mean to be a church member? Who do we follow? What do we preach and proclaim as believers? And how does this message we proclaim and the savior we follow align with our various places in society?
The ancient city of Corinth sat at the crossroads of the ancient Roman world. Commerce played a key role in Corinth’s social, political, and cultural environment. Aided by a favorable economic climate, Corinth emerged as a thriving metropolis by the time of Paul and the apostles. One commentator noted, “Perhaps no city in the Empire offered so congenial an atmosphere for individual and corporate advancement.” The potential for advancement brought various groups of people to the city seeking to take advantage of Corinth’s commerce for personal gain. The value of trade, business, and pragmatism in the pursuit of success fed the zeal to attain public status, promote one’s own honor, and secure power.
This passage is in the middle of Paul’s argument about the centrality and foolishness of the cross. It’s a scandal to Jews and folly to Gentiles. Paul turns his focus to the Corinthian believers themselves to illustrate his claim. He first reminds them that not many of them were wise, powerful, or of noble birth. He’s flattening their attempts at self-exaltation and demolishing their boasts in human accomplishments. Their calling actually has the same design as the cross—their salvation shames and nullifies the values in which their society boasts. Therefore, Paul says, no human being can boast in the presence of God except as they boast in the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross. All people are on equal footing when they stand in the shadow of the cross because only weak and foolish people would respond to Paul’s preaching – which was not in wise and persuasive words.
So, first question:
As we deal with others, how often do we show weakness? And I’m not talking about false weakness. I mean true weakness. The insecurities. The stresses. The unrecognized competence and know-how. The fights with your spouse. If you don’t show your weakness, then you’re actually living by worldly standards. You’re really believing or trusting in what the world says of you and not what Christ says of you.
The Corinthians had apparently forgotten their humble estate and, given their culture, they probably didn’t want to remember their weakness. But I think Paul was convinced of this and I’m convinced of this, too: If we forget our brokenness and weakness and neediness, we’ll never respond to the scandal of the cross. We’ll never be truly Christ-like. The Christian life is not about getting education or status, but with marveling at Jesus Christ. One of my professors summarized Paul’s point well, “When they look back on God’s grace, the Corinthians should see an implausible message brought by an unimpressive messenger to a group of unlikely candidates for membership in God’s people.” The Corinthians, though surrounded by a culture riddled with self-glorification, should be characterized by self-sacrifice.
As we deal with others, how do we challenge them? Do we challenge them to be better and try harder or do we challenge them to marvel at Jesus? Power over pornography isn’t rooted in challenge. Authority over anger isn’t found in avoiding difficulty. Command of courage isn’t found in motivation. These things are rooted in our identity and our inheritance in Christ. In him we have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Paul roots the life of the Christian outside of himself declaring, “because of [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” (1 Cor. 1:30). James K.A. Smith states, “Discipleship is less about erecting an edifice of Christian knowledge than it is a matter of developing a Christian know-how that intuitively ‘understands’ the world in the light of the fullness of the gospel.” The thought of the Corinthians’ boasting in anything but God and God’s work is inappropriate. Salvation came to them because of God’s grace and only his grace.
As we deal with others, what are we encouraging them to boast about? Bible studies, attendance? Good things, no doubt, but if our boast isn’t in the Lord, then we’re missing it. Performing for our identity and inheritance leads not to holiness but to exhaustion, bitterness, and death.
Let’s call each other to a more compelling vision of the Christian life. Let’s call one another to the way of weakness. Let’s all challenge to marvel at Jesus. Let’s boast in the Lord and in his kindness to us. For it is God’s kindness, not God’s challenge that leads us to repentance.
Posted in Community Engagement | By Steve Browning | Posted on Mon Oct 22, 2018
Whether you are a fan of Halloween or not, it provides an opportunity unlike any other to reach out to your neighbors. What other day of the year do people come in groups to your front door?
Here are some practical ways to live sent this Halloween:
- Pray: Prayer-walk the neighborhood before Halloween. Pray that you will meet people with whom you can share your story and God’s story.
- Answer the door: Don’t be the house that turns out the lights and shuts the window blinds. Greet children and their parents warmly.
- Visit as many homes as you can: Visit every home that has a light on. Again, be warm and try to learn something about each one of your neighbors.
- Go trick-or-treating with other neighbors: Reach out to the parents in your neighborhood and ask if they would like to go as a group.
- Give out the best: Be known as the house that goes above and beyond, giving out the best candy.
- Do a reverse trick-or-treat: Go door-to-door and offer baked-goods with a note that says something like, It’s no trick! We are your neighbors, and we would love to get to know you! Include any contact information you would like to leave with them.
- Learn names: Write down names as you meet people. Remembering names will make it much easier to begin a conversation the next time you see them.
- Serve the parents: Brainstorm creative ways to serve the parents. For instance, set up a hot chocolate and coffee station or give out bottles of water.
Adapted from, “7 Ways to be Missional this Halloween.” by Todd Gattis published by churchleaders.com
Posted in Adults | By Jeremy Horton | Posted on Wed Oct 17, 2018
Life is a series of ebbs and flows. With every end, there is a beginning. The end of summer introduces the beginning of Fall. The end of one school year leads to the beginning of the next semester. The completion of one successful financial quarter initiates the striving for yet another. There is little that is constant in our earthly lives, and our tendency as finite creatures is to always look to what is next for fulfillment.
Is this what God intended for His people? Are we to live in a constant state of desiring what is next, seeking fulfillment and contentment in each new endeavor? David helps us to answer this question in his writing about the Lord as the shepherd of his life is Psalm 23:
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23
Many who have been believers for a long time are familiar with this Psalm. It is a retreat for those who are walking the valleys of life. It is a comfort to those experiencing grief. But it is also a guide for contentment in the Lord in every season of the Christian life. Let us observe three primary ways that Psalm 23 teaches us to be content in the goodness of our Shepherd.
1. Our Identity as Sheep is Found in our Shepherd (vs. 1)
The very first statement made by David is a statement of identity. Yet, David doesn’t state who HE is. He doesn’t identify Himself as God’s anointed one, as the one through whom God would establish Israel as a powerful and prosperous nation. He doesn’t identify himself as he who killed the great Goliath, or the leader of the mighty men of God who defeated the infamous Philistines in battle. No; he identifies himself by the one to whom he belongs: “The LORD is my shepherd.”
Where then, do we find our identity? The world tells us that our identity is in our accomplishments and success, or lack thereof. This means that many of us find our identity in our sales numbers. Others of us find it in our education and number of degrees. Some of us even find it in our years of church service or in the successes of our children. We hold our resumes and our personal goals next to others in the hopes that we will measure up to what the world deems as successful, and hope that this in turn tells us who we really are. Don’t get me wrong, these things are not inherently bad in and of themselves. But they were never meant to give us our identity or lasting contentment.
The true meaning of contentment is not found in what we accomplish, but to whom we belong: the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that the result of David’s identification in the Lord is that he, “shall not want.” How can this be so? The Lord is his shepherd! In other words, what could David desire or accomplish which would be of more value, more worth, more comfort than in knowing and walking with the living God? What in life could he achieve which would climax the care he knows as a sheep in the flock of the Lord?
For those of us who are believers, Jesus has accomplished all we need to become sheep who belong to the Good Shepherd. We will never find contentment searching for the acclaim of the world and the accomplishments of man; true contentment only comes to those who belong to the flock of the Lord. Your identity is not in who you are, but in who He has declared you to be in Christ: a sheep belonging to the Good Shepherd.
2. Our Care as Sheep is Provided by Our Shepherd (vs. 2-4)
Not only does David define himself by his identity as a sheep in the fold of God, but he expounds even further on the ways that God cares for His sheep. He is not a rough rancher; one who provides for the sheep only so far as they will bring Him profit. Instead, His care for the sheep involves genuine love. He gives them protection to lie down in the luscious fields of grass which will fill their stomachs to satisfaction. He leads them confidently to still waters which quench their thirst and maintain their health and vitality. He genuinely cares and leads them in His way, asking that they trust His guidance and protection in the valleys of life.
True contentment in God our shepherd is trust that He will provide for your needs. By the Word of God He feeds our hungry souls like luscious green grass that satisfies our inquiries. By the power of His Spirit He leads and guides us by still waters where we can experience His righteousness and learn His ways. By the peace that surpasses understanding, His presence protects and comforts us in the midst of trial and difficulty, that we would identify with the sufferings of Christ. In all of these things, our shepherd cares for us, and when we experience such care, we begin to understand that contentment in the midst of the changes of life can only persist by His gentle hand of care in our lives.
3. Our Security as Sheep is Ensured by our Shepherd (vs. 5-6)
David knew that goodness and mercy would follow the man who was content in God all his life. How could he make such a confident assertion? The security of his place in the flock of God was not sustained by his own work, but by the shepherd. Therefore, with confidence even before his enemies, David could rehearse, “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
Such is the promise to all who place their faith in Jesus Christ. If all else on this earth is lost; all wealth, all loved ones, all status, all accomplishments, everything we have, one thing the world cannot take is our security as one in the fold of God. Why? Because it is no effort or production of the sheep that defines them as one of the fold, but the work of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, which has made a way for their invitation into the flock. And that security alone is goodness and mercy beyond comparison; such that it is the very foundation for contentment in life.
There will always be ebbs and flows in life. Times will be good; times will be bad. Some things will come to an end, and others will begin anew. But as sheep in the flock of God, our song remains the same through it all: “It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Let us find our contentment in God alone, who gives us identity, genuine care, and eternal hope in the glory of His Risen Son!
Posted in From the Pastor | By Danny Wood | Posted on Mon Oct 8, 2018
NEXT is in full swing! As we as a church take this journey together on the NEXT steps in our spiritual transformation and facility improvements, let me point out some resources to help all of us.
- The NEXT Initiative Devotional sheds additional light on the spiritual components through the Scriptures and prayer. It prepares our hearts to take this NEXT step.
- The NEXT Commitment Guide is a practical and biblical guide to assist you in working through how to make a sacrificial financial commitment. If you did not get one Sunday, this guide will be available in the worship center lobby and in the church office.
- The website is a great resource for information on all aspects of NEXT. One new addition is found as you scroll to the bottom of the page and see “Giving Calculator.” This is a calculator that helps translate specific acts of sacrifice into actual dollars. This can be a helpful tool as we prepare to make our financial commitments on Sunday, November 4.
Each Sunday the sermon will focus on a next step that we are to take in our spiritual transformation. This Sunday I will be preaching on “NEXT Stronghold Demolished.” Please be in prayer for this service as we see how we can have victory over those things that constantly defeat us.
I am excited about all that God is doing at Shades and enjoying taking these NEXT steps! Have a great week!
Posted in Uncategorized | By Jordan Cox | Posted on Tue Oct 2, 2018
NEXT | The Time is Now is a season of focused sacrifice for our church family. Our leadership has identified the most pressing needs facing Shades in 2018: spiritual transformation and facility improvement.
With the launch of the NEXT Initiative last Sunday, we curated a NEXT Vision Space in our third floor Worship Center lobby. Its home includes the former Resource Center and Global Missions Room, now called the Vision Room.
This space was designed to guide our church through the spiritual, financial, and building goals that anchor the NEXT Initiative.
Posted in Uncategorized | By Shades Staff | Posted on Mon Jun 18, 2018
How can I turn a conversation toward the Gospel?
This is the number one question that I get on evangelism. For many people, the struggle is not how to share the Gospel. They understand the truth that Jesus’ death and resurrection makes it possible for all people to have a relationship with God. The hang up many people have is how to turn a conversation toward the Gospel without it feeling forced, awkward, or coming across as “preachy.” So how do you start talking about the Gospel in a conversation with someone else?
It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want to speak about the Gospel you have to LISTEN.
Each conversation presents its own unique opportunity to respond with the truth of the Gospel. In order to understand how to share the Gospel you have to listen to what the person is walking through in life and speak the hope of Jesus into their situation.
In his book, “Turning Everyday Conversations Into Gospel Conversations,” pastor Jimmy Scroggins gives this helpful insight on how to listen for a Gospel opportunity:
“Wait for the moment in the conversation when someone shares a problem, issue, or concern.”
Posted in Children | By Jeremy Horton | Posted on Mon Jun 11, 2018
You did it. This is real life, and you have FINALLY reached the end of the school year. No more homework or school projects, school dances, or parent-teacher conferences. No more rushing from school to practice to homework to shower to bed to repeat… take a deep breath; you’ve arrived!
There is nothing quite like pushing through something difficult and all-consuming to finally reaching the finish line. And what’s the first thing we want to do when we have survived something hard? Prop our feet up, sit back, and zone out. I don’t know many runners who the day after the marathon decide to go for a difficult run.
If we are honest with ourselves, this is what we tend to do with our summer breaks. We finally reach the end of a hectic and crazy spring season and we put our feet up, lean back, and power down. And I am not referring to the much-needed rest that summer break can bring. I am talking about more than rest; I am talking about checking-out altogether.
But as transformed parents seeking to influence our children in the love and admonition of the Lord, maybe we should take a step back and reconsider how we approach summer break with our kids. Think about it: What other season during the year provides us with uninterrupted, open time with our children?
DISCLAIMER: I am not here to add more things to do to your recently cleared schedule. I am talking about being intentional with your summer break as parents who are discipling your children. How can we as parents intentionally disciple our children this summer without adding business and stress back into our lives?
Let me encourage you in three areas to capitalize on over summer break for the betterment of your family’s eternity: