Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

God's Christmas Gift To You

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I love giving gifts.  I love to see the joy and excitement on others faces - especially my kids.  It truly is a joy to give to others.

It's also a joy to receive gifts.  I can't lie - I love getting stuff - I love to be surprised - I love new technology and gadgets.  I think everyone pretty much loves to be on the receiving end of things as well.

That's why Christmas is so amazing - so cool - so flat out awesome!  It's the time of year that I remember hearing for the first time - about the greatest gift ever given.  I was just a kid, about 8 years old visiting a church with friends.  I had never heard about Jesus or the wise men or the gifts given to this baby.  And, I had never heard about the gift this baby was to me.

Now I know.  Now I get to tell others.  How cool is Christmas!  Thank you Jesus!!!  

"Gods Christmas gift to you is the most expensive gift youll ever receive. Its priceless. Jesus paid for it with his life. Its also the only gift youll ever receive that will last forever. And, its an extremely practical gift  one youll use every day for the rest of your life." - Rick Warren 


Friday, December 19, 2008

I came across this video today on Ed Stetzer’s blog (thanks Ed!) and it moved me in a huge way.  If this doesn’t get your attention then – well let’s just say you’re heartless.  As followers of Christ we are called to share His love with others.  Period.  That’s it.  And yet, we rarely tell others about Jesus.  Maybe seeing this video will help you understand (from an Atheist) how important it is to truly live out your faith.  Live for Him this weekend – tell someone what Jesus has done for you – what He is doing in your life right now – look them in the eyes - be sincere - invite that person to worship with you this weekend.  Go proselytize!

Penn says:

I don't respect people who don't proselytize. If you believe that there's a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, 'Well, it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward'... How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?

Casting Crowns does it again!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here's another great video by Casting Crowns - enjoy.

I love coffee

I really do love coffee.  Especially on cold mornings during the winter months. 

I enjoy coffee from all different types of places but I when it comes to my favorite – I like it strong – and sweet – with cream when possible.  My favorite place to stop and buy coffee is Starbucks – anything Mocha.  At home, I have learned a few secrets to brewing coffee that I enjoy each morning.

First, I use a Starbucks French press – it was a Christmas gift from last year.  I grind my beans each morning before brewing – storing the beans in an airtight container.  I only let the coffee sit in the press for about 4 minutes – this keeps it from becoming bitter– then I pour it in a thermos to keep it hot and fresh.  I use Starbucks Espresso Roast beans.  I typically use some type of creamer to sweeten my coffee like French Vanilla or some type of Mocha Creamer.  Again, I can drink coffee just about anywhere – I’m just this picky when making it for myself.

I also use a Krups Espresso machine to make Julie and Karlee a Carmel Macchiato in the mornings.  We picked up the Krups machine at a local Kitchen discount store for around $20 on sale – and love it!  I buy the Carmel Syrup from Starbucks and basically use their recipe – even a little cream on top!  I love to spoil my wife and daughters – they deserve it for putting up with me.

Coffee is one of those things little things I enjoy in life.  I would love to hear your secrets to a great cup and I would love to share some with you sometime.

She's teaching me

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Last night Klaire climbed up on my back and for a little piggy back ride.  I'm continually blown away by the blessing of my daughters.  They have taught me so much as a person, as a follower of Christ, and as a daddy.  

Yes, Klaire is adopted - I know she looks like me but it's true.  And the fact is...I'm adopted as well.  I knew that before our adoption process but now I have a much greater understanding of what that really means!  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you Klaire. 

Messing Me Up

Here are two passages that are rocking my world right now. They are messing me up!  Just when I think I have this whole “love” thing down – Jesus goes and tells me to love people who hurt me & to give to people who can’t pay me back & to do good to my enemies.  It’s good to be messed up by God’s Word – we all need it!

32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. 35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.  Luke 6:32-26 (NLT)

18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 1 Timothy 6:18 (NLT)


Monday, December 15, 2008

I am frustrated.  I am not happy about things in ministry right now.  This morning, at 4:30 – God told me why.

Yesterday, after church, I was discouraged about the numbers.  The “numbers” game can kill a pastor/leader if you play it – the old counting of “nickels and noses.”  I know this and yet I want to balance that with the understanding that a healthy church should be growing.  We are meant to grow.  And we are not growing like I think we can or should.  It makes me mad – it is keeping me up at night.

I’m frustrated that our church is not reaching more people for Christ.  I’m frustrated that our church isn’t focused more on reaching the people in this community.  I’m frustrated about reading other pastor’s blogs and tweets about all the people they are reaching and wondering why we can’t do that here?  I know we can – I know God wants it – and I think I am finally starting to want it more as well.

God is doing something in me.  He is squeezing my heart.  I am becoming more and more sensitive and broken for the people in our community/world who are far from God.  We have got to do something – we have to act now.  But, I feel misunderstood – pulled in a million different directions – I don’t think others feel the same way and I’m not sure how to get them on board.  Yes, part of me would like to use a sledgehammer – but that doesn’t seem very pastoral!

I have to admit it’s easy to get off course.  It’s easy to lose focus and forget why God has us here in the first place.  This morning, I have a little bit more understanding as to why I feel the way I do.  And I’m more determined to live my life making an impact for Christ while I can – if you get that good – if not – I’m sorry.  I’m tired of trying to please everyone.  I’m tired of fighting battles that should never be fought.  I’m tired of going to sleep at night in a comfortable bed with my sins forgiven - knowing that many people in this city and many people around the world won’t.  I’m tired of having the answer to life’s biggest question but not sharing it because we are too concerned with our own happiness and comfort or of offending someone else in the church.

I want to be His – I want our church to be His church – fulfilling His purpose in this city.  For me, this begins with focusing on reaching just one more person for Christ.  Just one more.  Just one more.  It’s not about big numbers – it’s about that next “one.”

Here’s a great post by Gary Lamb on Two Types of Churches – you shouldn’t have to guess which one I want to be.

Stop and count your blessings!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Life goes by so quickly!  And, if you’re like most people in this country everything speeds up this time of year.  Our lives are crazy in the month of December.  So crazy - that we often miss the best things in life.  I just want to encourage you to stop sometime today and think about how much God has truly blessed you.  

For me, it's my wife and kids!  I am so blessed to be married to my best friend and I am incredibly blessed to be the daddy of three of the most wonderful girls in the world.  They are beautiful, sweet, creative, smart, hilarious, and growing in Christ.  

I'm blessed.  How about you?


Friday, December 12, 2008

I love to be creative.  I love to dream.  Its just part of who I am - part of what God created me to do while on earth.  I'm not alone.  However, the problem I sometimes have - is the church isn't very open to creativity and even at times stifles it.  We are so guilty of shoving God into a box and doing things the same way because that is the way we have always done them or because it's the way one person likes it.

Yet, my God is a creative God.  He created the heavens and the earth - He created me and you - and He gave all of us gifts - talents - abilities - all to be used to make His name famous.  We are so different and yet the same.  

So, I love to see when others are using their creativity for the Kingdom.  I think we should constantly be looking for ways to allow those who come into our church family to use their personal makeup for Christ.  It may be in the form of music, dance, art, photography, poetry, computers, etc.  

One of my favorite guys in the ministry to watch is Carlos Whittaker who is on staff at Buckhead church.  He's creative - he's real - he's genuine  - and he is shinning incredibly bright for Jesus.  Check out this video of the opening of their service last week.  Thank you Carlos for allowing others to dream and use their creativity for our King at Christmas!!!

Buckhead Church Opener December 7th STEP CHRISTMAS from Carlos Whittaker on Vimeo.

Christmas Wish List

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Here's one for your Christmas Wish List!

Called to Serve

Scripture is clear – as followers of Christ we are all called to serve. (Matthew 20:28, 1 Peter 4:10-11)  We each have a unique ability or gift to be used to love one another (1 Corinthians 12:7) and to make the name of Jesus famous.  As we serve, it is vital that we keep focused on Jesus.  For the moment we take our eyes off of Him trouble starts.

For instance, I can remember a time in which I was walking across the church parking lot and noticed a couple of pieces of trash from the previous night.  I was on staff at the time, working a ton of hours, completely dedicated to Jesus – but when I looked at the trash my first thought was “now, why didn’t anyone pick that up – I worked my butt off for this event and for this church – why can’t anyone else do anything around here?!”

And then it hit me – it was like the hand of God slapped me gently upside the head – and God whispered (no, I couldn’t hear His voice – just sensed this in my spirit) “Joe, who are you doing this for?”  That was it – who was I doing this for?  In other words, was I serving Jesus or was I doing stuff to look good in front of others – or was I doing stuff to make others happy?

Yes, I know it’s good to do unto others.  But, when our service for God becomes self-centered to the point that we are doing to look good to others it is out of the wrong heart and bitterness is sure to follow.

I’ve seen this many times in ministry – people take a volunteer ministry position for the right reasons – then after a short time they begin to see what other people are not doing.  It’s sort of like the Prodigal Son’s brother (Luke 15)– who on the return of his wayward younger brother throws a fit when his dad gets excited upon his younger brothers return.  It’s the problem of a lost focus.

So, we must fight to keep our focus on Jesus.  Because it’s not about us – it’s all about Him and becoming more like Him and making His name famous - not our own.  By the way, I picked up the trash that day – with a smile and a thankful heart.  Serving with the right focus is one of the greatest joys in life! I'm still learning.

Christmas Traditions   

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Yesterday I picked up some Christmas Cookie Cutters.  I was wondering around Wal-Mart looking for stuff for supper and saw this section full of holiday cooking items.  That’s when it hit me – the memory of making Christmas Sugar Cookies as a kid. 

Every year mom would bake up some sugar cookies cut into all types of shapes and then I got to decorate them – Santa’s, Candy Canes, Stars, Christmas Trees.  It was a blast – and I remembered it like it was yesterday.  So, I picked up some cookie cutters and thought we would give it a try on family night.  Julie’s famous “home economics” skills kicked in and she took care of everything and the kids had a blast. 

What kind of Christmas traditions are you creating or keeping?

Cancer in the Church Continued...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I have been thinking more and more about my post yesterday and I know most of you know this but the dangers of negative talk and complaining are so damaging to every aspect of life – not just the church.

Negativism and complaining destroys a marriage.  So many couples, after just a short time together, start to focus on all the negative things – the little things that they don’t like about their spouse.  Maybe he leaves his underwear on the floor – or she bites her toenails – it’s easy to find the negative when you are trying.  That’s when you forget what brought you together in the first place.

Negativism and complaining destroys communities - relationships – families - companies – sports teams – and even entire nations.     

Maybe that is why we are told in scripture to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)  If you are rejoicing – you aren’t complaining!  Stop and think about the people in your life who are positive.  More than likely they really stand out to you.  And unfortunately, they may be few and far between.

This is a good reminder for me today – especially as I face some extremely difficult times in our church, community, and world.  And, as we approach the holiday season which always seems to magnify our feelings.

That passage in Philippians goes on to tell us, “Do not be anxious about anything” (vs. 6).  I admit – that is HARD!  God is working on me in this area.  I want to trust Him, I deeply desire to care more about others than myself – but the truth is it is so dang easy to care about “Joe.”  

I was reading this morning from Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love” (3rd time) and was reminded of this when he said, “When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, and my job- I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice.” (Pg 41) 


So, today – I choose to rejoice – to be thankful.  

I'm thankful for my Lord and His love for me.  I'm thankful for my wife and daughters.  And so much more!

What are you thankful for today?  Let me know.

Cancer in the Church

Friday, December 5, 2008

I’ve been in ministry now for 18 years and had the privilege of serving in several great churches as support staff and the past 5 ½ years as a senior pastor in a small town in the Ozarks of Missouri. 

Most of us have experienced the devastating effects of cancer either personally or through someone very close to us.  It’s tragic and it is no respecter of age, race, or gender.  I personally have lost several family members to this disease including my grandmother, and my aunt.  In addition, my father is a survivor – he’s been cancer free now for 6 or 7 years.

Without a doubt – one of the most destructive diseases I have ever encountered in the church is misuse of the tongue by fellow believers.  In other words – complaining – negativity – griping – gossip – slander.   Negativism breads more negativism.  One complainer has the potential to spoil the work of the ENTIRE ministry.  Negativism, complaining, griping, gossiping, all breeds discontent and destroys unity within the church much like cancer destroys the human body.

Paul has strong words concerning the importance of unity in Ephesians chapter 4 

1 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

According to Paul, we are all different.  We simply aren’t going to agree on everything.  As soon as you pull two people together you have differences.  Therefore, the key to unity – (vital to a healthy church) is to focus on what unities us – not on our differences.  We are united because of Jesus.  We are one body because of Jesus.  But when the focus turns to differences it takes focus off of Jesus – thus disunity. 

As a pastor, let me just say that I – like all pastors - am not perfect.  I have and will make mistakes.  I don’t have a burning bush in my backyard through which God tells me what to preach or how to lead His church.  I do believe that I am called to do this work and that His Holy Spirit is in me and will guide me as I continually give myself over to Him.  And, according to His word I will be held accountable for my actions.

So, conflict is going to happen – you won’t always agree with your pastor – so what should you do when that happens?  Here are my thoughts;

*First, pray.  Not just say a prayer - but really pray.  Pray like you have never prayed before.  I would even suggest you take the time to do a three to forty day fast.  We should do everything we can to understand the implications of disunity and the devils scheme to create it within the body of Christ.  We should take this stuff so seriously - just like cancer it is a life and death situation!

*Secondly, ask yourself if what you disagree with is over something that is a morally wrong or personal preference.  If you believe your pastor is doing something morally wrong or going against what the bible specifically teaches then you should and must go to him and confront him in love – always in love. 

If your disagreement is over a personal preference then you should still go to him in love and explain why you personally disagree.  Keep in mind, God has brought you together as His body – you can and should compliment each other.  Your pastor needs to hear from you.  He may not agree with you but that should be okay. He can still learn from you and you from him.  Keep in mind what unifies you – Christ.

If you still can’t get over the fact that you personally disagree with your pastor then take another 40 to 80 days to fast and pray.  Set up a time to meet with him and pray together each week for 3 months.  Do everything you can to work on focusing on Jesus – His love – and His purpose for the church.  Because without unity – your church will not grow – it will die or remain unhealthy – lacking real biblical growth.

A little Christmas Spirit?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Can you believe this?  Next thing you know we will have to go to a special class to purchase, own, and display a Christmas Tree because it is a lethal weapon.  If so, I want to be a card carrying member of the National Christmas Tree Club and put a Christmas Tree Rack in the back window of my pickup! 

How sad is this story?  

This article is from the Associated Press and was on this morning.

Police: Florida Man Arrested for Attacking Father With Christmas Tree

Tuesday , December 02, 2008

PARRISH, Fla.  — 

Authorities say a west Florida man who lives with his parents has been arrested on a felony assault charge after he used a Christmas tree as a weapon to attack his father.

According to the Manatee County sheriff's report, 37-year-old Thomas Edward Lackie was arrested last week after he threw a 3-foot Christmas tree at his father. The tree missed, but Lackie then tried to use the steel base from the tree to strike his father.

His father and mother were able to grab Lackie's arms to prevent the attack. Deputies say the tree could have caused serious injuries because the metal base weighs about five pounds.

Lackie was charged with felony assault. He denied trying to strike his father.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!  Here are some of the things I am thankful for this morning;

  • My wife, Julie.  She is my best friend and I'm extremely blessed to be married to her.
  • My three daughters.  I'm blown away that God has allowed me to be a daddy to these three girls.  They are amazing in so many ways.
  • My family - my parents, brother and his family, Julie's parents and her brother and family, grandparents, and all the other extended family.  
  • Good food.  Are you kidding!  We eat so much good food on Thanksgiving - so many of my favorite things - how could I not mention the food.
  • Health.  I'm thankful that I can walk, run, climb, and do so many things that we often take for granted.
  • Friends.  Everyone needs good friends.  The kind that are there if you need them.  
  • Mentors.  The people God has placed in my life that have helped me become what I am today.  These people also help give me wise council - something I have needed much of lately.
  • American Citizenship.  I've been out of the country - if you haven't been you should.  I am so thankful that I am an American!
  • Difficulties.  I don't like them but realize they make me stronger and make me rely on my Lord even more.
  • God's Word.  The bible is amazing and I'm blown away more and more of the impact it has made and is making in my life.  
  • Changed Lives.  I'm thinking of the people God has allowed me see changed through His power and grace.  I'm praying for more of this one!
  • My relationship with Jesus Christ.  He has changed me.  I'm not perfect - there is more changing to be done.  He is faithful, forgiving, loving, strong, all knowing, and my Creator.
There is more.  But that's it for now.  It's time to eat!:)


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I read the following today on Mark Driscoll's blog.  Porn is a huge  problem in our nation and in the Church. If you are a man or the father of a teenage son let me make a couple of suggestions.  First, read this book. If you need a copy, let me know and I will get you one.

Secondly, go to and download the free computer protection software (x3 watch) - feel free to put my email address down as an accountability partner.

It's high time we as men take this situation seriously.  And, it's high time the church steps up and deals with this problem!  Thank you Mark for caring enough to put this information together and for making it available for FREE.


If you look at porn, have looked at porn, or know someone that looks at porn—download this book, print it out, and read it.

This book is now available to download and print as many copies as you like. It's short and should be cheap to print. We'll be making the book available for purchase soon.

A Few Ideas

  • Get a few friends together and deal honestly with each other about the subjects of each chapter.
  • Once you're done reading, pass it on to a friend.
  • Give it to the counseling pastor at your church as a resource.

Out of Africa

Friday, November 14, 2008

I returned late Wednesday night from a 12 day trip into Northern Africa.  Our purpose was to do humanitarian work while building bridges with people.  The trip was extremely successful!  I was personally stretched in many ways and once again discovered the importance of following Christ in all things, a loving wife and family, freedom of religion, the little things we take for granted, and friends who are truly committed to you.  

Just before leaving - one young couple in our church had me stop by their house to pick up a couple of things for the journey.  I was given several helpful items for the trip and something that I won't soon forget.  Adam gave me a small dog tag that he had carried while serving in Iraq as a US soldier.  On one side of the tag it read the following: "I will be strong and courageous, I will not be terrified or discouraged; for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go." Joshua 1:9

I carried it with me at all times and found myself pulling it out several times a day.  The picture above was taking at 6,500 feet up in the Atlas mountains at a villages water source.  You can see the stream of mountain water flowing just behind me.  

On the other side of the world - in a dark and sometimes dangerous place - I found new strength & hope in God's word.  Thank you Adam & Liz for sharing!

Slow Fade

Friday, October 31, 2008

I love the song "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns.  The video is great as well.  This song is also featured in the film "Fire Proof" which everyone should take the time to see while it is still showing in the theater.  

This song hits to the core of what happens way too often in our lives - we slowly - slip away from the things that are truly important to us - we slowly fade away from our relationship with Christ. Maybe that is why Paul stresses to us the importance of pressing on in Philippians 3:12. 

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."

We must press on - we must keep our focus on Jesus Christ and strive with everything we have to follow Him!  Be careful - it's a slow fade away from following - it's far too easy to get off track.  I see it all the time - you miss one Sunday and then the next thing you know - you've convinced yourself that you don't need church - you can know God without being a part of the body of Christ.  You miss a few days of reading your bible or spending time and prayer - and the next thing you know - it's been months since you've spent time with your Creator.  It's always a slow fade.  

In what areas of your life are you slowly fading away from what is truly important?  Big questions!

Fall Festival

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We held our annual Fall Festival last Friday night.  I created a video this morning to quickly show you a small part of what took place.  Here is why we do events like these:

*Free for the community and we are called by Jesus to love others - this is just one way to offer people an FREE option for the entire family.
*It gives our people a place to serve - we are called by Jesus to serve - to follow His example - if you don't serve you are missing it.
*It gives our people an opportunity to invite others who don't know Jesus or are far from God - if you aren't inviting, telling, and sharing you are missing it!
*It opens the door for people to love one another.
*It allows our church body to see the whole church in action.
*It's fun!  Now, let me just say - "fun" is not why we do event's - "fun" is a natural out flowing of serving, inviting, and loving others for Christ.  Jesus didn't come down to earth - live - and die on a cross so that we could simply have "fun" or be comfortable.  But, as we truly follow Him and live out His purposes on this earth - we find it's the most "fun" anyone can have.  There is joy, peace, fulfillment, life, forgiveness, love, and so much more in following Jesus.  We must stay focused on loving Him and loving others!

We Must Do Something!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This past Sunday we completed part 4 of a series we called "Kaleo" - meaning we are called to follow Christ from 1 Peter 2:21.  The title of the message this week was "Called To Follow."  I simply explained our churches mission, two biblical purposes, and our vision for the future.

This all centers around our goal of "Changed Lives."  God wants to change our life and work in and through us to lead others to Him resulting in more changed lives.  One of the tragedies of the American Church is that we have become inward focused and concerned with our own comfort - even to the point of forgetting the two biblical purposes for the church: The Great Commission and The Great Commandment. Loving God and Loving Others.  

As I began to research our particular area here in the middle of the country- I discovered that we have an estimated 20,000 people living within driving distance to our church that have no relationship with Jesus Christ.  That's huge!  We should be loosing sleep over one person not knowing Christ - let alone 20,000!

As followers of Christ we should be asking some questions: Why aren't we reaching more people?  Why aren't more people coming to Christ in our city? How can we be more effective in reaching people?  How can we love others as Jesus commanded us? 

Ed Stetzer just posted a great video dealing with some relevant research about the unchurched that can help us be more effective in our efforts to change the world for Christ.  His book "Lost and Found" will hit the stores soon and I can't wait to utilize this information.  Check out this blog post and let the numbers sink in.

Then view the video below.  Good stuff.  Thank you Ed for the information and for forcing us to ask the right kind of questions!


Sunday Thoughts

Monday, October 27, 2008


*It was one of the most difficult weeks I’ve experienced in a long time.  Let’s just say the devil was fighting and all Hell broke loose on many fronts.  I’ve learned this is typical just before God moves in a big way.  So, I wasn’t all that surprised with the things we had planned for the weekend and then the fact that I’m leaving for a mission’s trip in one week.  God pulled me through – He always does – it’s just learning to lean on Him that isn’t always easy.

*Saturday night was a blast!  I love seeing the kids all dressed up – we had a lot of new people – and it was great to just hang out with so much of the church family.  At one point (while standing out in a field next to an old barn – waiting to scare the beepers out of people) I looked up and noticed the stars in the sky – I worshiped Jesus right on the spot!

*Sunday morning was a huge day – one big service instead of two.  Our goal was to pull everyone together for a time of Celebration and Vision Casting – which included a plan to hire InJoy Ministries for a Capital Stewardship Program.  The service has to go down as one of the longest I’ve been a part of – almost two hours!  But, it was amazing.  We had a ton of new faces – the “Changed Lives” video was great – the prayer time – and everything else just seemed to flow – there was a new level of excitement in our people.  The response forms gathered at the end of the service were overwhelmingly positive in following the leadership’s recommendation of entering into a campaign with InJoy.  God is going to stretch us even more – I can’t wait to see how He is going to move!

*Our ladies bible study presented Cassie Lane with over $2,000 for her adoption from Ethiopia.  All the money was made on a Fried Pie fundraiser! 

*We had a special guest with us on Sunday morning as well – Donnie McDonald, one of our missionaries to Japan was here – he was able to share and lead us in prayer during the service – it was great to hear about his ministry and to spend time with him.

*We had 14 in our small group last night and we focused on making a difference in our community through loving others.  The group decided to collect as many coats as possible over the next week to two weeks and give them out through a few of the schools.  Let us know if you want to help or if you know someone who needs a coat.

*I’m looking forward to the Africa trip – but dreading leaving my family – the thought of being away from them for over a week and not having the ability to communicate is killing me.  My wife and daughters are so amazing - I'm blessed! 

*I’m not sure how to say this – but I see God doing mighty things in our lives and through First Church – it’s only the beginning – my heartbreaks for those who can’t see it or refuse to see it.  Following Jesus requires giving up our way for His way – I still struggle with that as well.  We must keep our focus on Him – it’s all about changed lives for Jesus!

New Look

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I decided to go "red neck" at our Fall Festival last night.  I couldn't believe how many people didn't even recognize me!  It was a lot of fun and everyone got a big kick out my new hair style, tattoo's ($5.00 at Walgreen's - what a country!) and teeth or lack of teeth.

Changing Lives

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tomorrow morning is a huge day!  We are having one big service at 10:00 am with the goal of getting everyone unified on God’s purposes for our church – “Bring them in and Build them up!”  It’s all about “growing and going.”  For this to happen we have to focus on Jesus more than ever and His call to love Him and love others.  As we do – we will see changed lives.  Our lives will change as we become more like Him and others will change as we share Him at home and abroad.  The following video was created for our 10/26 service.  I love changed lives for Christ!

Jesus - Give Me Your Eyes

Monday, October 20, 2008

This past Sunday my message was titled "Change the World."  I focused on the fact that God has called us to "Go" - according to Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19-20.  

It literally blows my mind that the Creator of the Universe chose us - imperfect, messed up people to share His message - the story of His Son, Jesus Christ.

I'm not sure about you but I think one of our biggest problems with the "Go" - is that we are so focused on ourselves - our wants - our desires - our needs - our hurts - that we can't see the hurt, pain, and emptiness in others.  Just imagine if we would open our hearts and see the world through the eyes of Jesus.

Brandon Heath has a song out called "Give Me Your Eyes" - check out the video below and then pause and ask God to allow you to see the people of the world as He does - and then "GO."

Sunday thoughts

  • I had a difficult time wrapping up my sermon for part 3 of "Kaleo."  I truly believe it was a lot of spiritual warfare going on.  Some weeks are a real struggle - but in the end I felt God using me and speaking through me.
  • I spent a couple days home with Klaire because she was sick.  It hurt me to see her not feeling well and yet I loved the time with her - we seemed to bond a little more during those days - she's still a big time mommy's girl.
  • On Thursday I prayed for God to open a door for me by providing a family for me to reach out to and help.  He did.  We received a call at the church around 11:30 - it was a family of three - dad had just been laid off from Copeland and they needed help with the electric bill.  They met me up town at the utilities office - pray for them as God works in their heart.  Giving is truly much better than receiving!  
  • Julie's parents, Jim and Carleen came out on Thursday night to hang with the family and to help with the fundraiser on Saturday.  It's always great to visit with family and have them around!  I don't think everyone feels that way about their family - sad.
  • I think Klaire gave me some kind of bug on Friday - I even stayed home from the football game - just felt real bad - like I had been hit by a truck.  Thankfully, I felt better by Saturday morning.
  • Demolition began on our new Youth Center.  We had ten guys hitting it hard for about 4 hours of hard work.  It's going to look amazing!  Our teens deserve it - they have been waiting a long time for this.
  • Our women's bible study group met our home on Saturday and prepared over 1,500 fried pies for the adoption ministry.  Cassie Lane is currently in the process of adopting a little girl form Ethiopia.  I couldn't believe how many people came out to get the pies made.  We are blessed to have some incredible people in our church!  Huge props go to Julie's parents for making this one happen!
  • Sunday was a great day with new people in both services, one new member, and many people making decisions to "follow Christ" by sharing their faith with their friends and family.  I can't wait to see how God is going to use this in our people's lives.
  • The highlight of my day was teaching the 201 CLASS last night.  We had ten people go through the class!  It's amazing what God is doing in people's lives.  I love it.
  • This next Sunday we will be Celebrating God's blessings in our church and the vision for the next several years - it will be one big service at 10:00 am.
  • Can you believe it - we will be celebrating Klaire's 3rd birthday on Tuesday.  

Crying Out

Friday, October 17, 2008

The article below was posted this morning on the Fox News website.  What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you read it?  For me, I wondered what was going on in this boys life.  Why the rage?  My heart breaks for this kid!

Each week I'm amazed at the kids and teens coming to our church in desperate need of a hug, a kind word, a smile, or a word of affirmation.  It's no secret that many of these kids come from broken or unstable families.  My point with this post is that we (the church) have got to wake up!  

It's time we do everything we can to reach the people in our community.  We have the answer - it's Jesus Christ!  It's time that we live the example - reach out in love - give a hug to someone who needs it - feed your neighbor kids who are hungry - give them a ride to church - buy them some groceries.  All around in our communities - people are crying out!  What are you and I going to do about it?

Florida Boy, 12, Arrested After Throwing Sticks at Pregnant Teacher

Thursday , October 16, 2008


A 54-pound sixth-grader is in police custody after he was was handcuffed and arrested at his Central Florida school for throwing sticks at a pregnant teacher and kicking another instructor.

Jason Stewart Lord was charged Thursday with battery on a pregnant woman and battery on a school official, both felonies. Palm Bay Police Department spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez says the 12-year-old was taken to a juvenile detention center where he was expected to stay overnight.

Martinez says the boy also punched the pregnant teacher last week but school officials decided to handle the matter internally at the time.

New Creation

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I've seen this video on a couple of different blogs this week and just had to post it myself.  This is a wonderful use of creativity and the arts in worship - I love it!  Here's Dex performing "New Creation" at one of Fellowship Church's weekend services at the Grapevine Campus.

Blown Away!

I have been blown away by the willingness of my friends and family to support the Africa project.  It's amazing to see how God provides and works in situations when we trust Him and follow His call.  

I had an older gentleman really question me going on this trip last night at church. He said his concern was for my 3 children - this trip could be dangerous - and my kids need me. 

Hello!  At what point did God call us to the "easy way?"  Do you think someone pulled the Apostle Paul aside and told him they were concerned that he might get beat up for preaching?  Do you think someone pulled Stephen aside and warned him that his message about Jesus might end up causing him some pain?

The truth is - we are called to impact this world for Christ.  We are called to love others - to feed the hungry - to clothe the naked - to care for the orphan - to take our eyes off of ourselves and follow Christ to the ends of the world.  

How different would this world be if those who profess Christ really lived their lives caring more about loving others rather than their own safety - their own stomachs - their own wallets?  And I include myself in that group.  

God is stretching me in this stuff.  How willing am I to go?  What am I really sacrificing for Him?  What am I doing to reach a lost and dying world?  II Timothy 3 warns us that things are going to be tough - as we follow Jesus.

Don't get me wrong in any of this - my goal is not to live as a daredevil.  My love for Jesus compels me to follow Him - and love others - even those in the hard to reach places.  To those of you who are praying and supporting financially - thank you!  I can't wait to see how God uses this in my life, my family, my ministry, and in the lives I have yet to meet.

Would You Consider Supporting Me?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For twenty years God has been trying to get me to open my heart to Africa.  Finally, I have said "yes."  It’s not that I had anything against going to this fascinating continent – I just continued to have plenty of excuses for not going. 

I have recently been afforded an incredible opportunity to join a small team of people on a specialized trip into a closed access region of the world.  This is a historical trip and it has huge implications on the future contact with these un-reached people.

Because of the nature of this trip, I am seeking to create a prayer team of 100 or more individuals who would be willing to pray for us each day of our journey.  I will do my best to send a few updates before and after the trip.  Our efforts will include medical assistance, handing out clothing items, further research on developing a water source for the people and working on some of the area schools. 

I am also seeking several individuals who would be willing to support me on this trip financially.  As you can well imagine, the cost for such an effort will be large for each individual ($2,500) and the team as a whole.  Thus, I am praying for 50 or more people to join me on this journey by providing a donation of $50 or more.  

If you would like to join the prayer team or support this effort financially please send me an email letting me know how you would like to help.  I will then send follow up information.

Catalyst Day One

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This is my second year at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta.  One of the things that I love about this event is the creativity.  They pull out all the stops and this year was no exception. 

I’m here with three other leaders from our church and two from another FWB Church close to our town.  There are just over five thousand churches represented all together and people literally from all over the world - all coming together for some of the best worship and leadership development on the planet!

Our morning in the arena kicked off with a kicking stage production – Fee leading worship and then Andy Stanely sharing from Nehemiah 5:6-18.  He emphasized the importance of our creed aligning with our deed or as he called it “moral authority.”  In layman’s terms – you better live the life if you want others to follow your leadership.  And sometimes it takes time for us to live it out in front of those God has called us to lead. 

For most of us as leaders, all we have is influence and at the end of the day everyone following is a volunteer – thus our moral authority is paramount.  He then challenged us to make sure our moral authority was being lived out in three areas; forgiveness, family, and finances.  What people want to know is do we, as leaders believe what we say – and do we live it. 

What a way to start the day!  It was if God reached down and grabbed my heart from the very beginning. 

Jim Collins challenged us in the area of Good to Great.  He was good as well but I will share two main thoughts from his session.  First, the major difference in a level 5 leader and a level 4 leader is humility.  Leaders at the top of the spectrum are humble – period.  Secondly, too many of us have “to do” list without having “stop doing” list.  Huge point.

Steven Furtick spoke from I Kings and dealt with keeping your vision in sight when you can’t see anything.  God’s had is all over this guy.  His ability to preach, keep the attention of the audience and nail the point down is incredible. 

Brenda Salter McNeil fired me up!  I loved her passion and style as she dealt with shaking things up.  Her text was from the book of Acts and focused on us getting out of our comfort zones and into the world for Christ. 

Seth Godin was great for people like me with ADHD.  He used lots of pictures and was really pretty funny.  Plus, he gave us a free book!  How cool is that.  Now I have to read it to figure out all he was saying today!

Craig Groeschel wrapped things up with Joel 2:12-13.  Three main points – God stretch me – God heal me – God ruin me.  Our prayer should be for God to give us a heart that is broken for the things His heart is broken over.

God seemed to use each aspect of the day from the music, to the announcements, to the speakers, to impact me in a huge way.  My head and heart are overwhelmed by what God is doing in me.  I literally felt His hand upon my shoulder tonight as my heart opened up to Him and He showed me some things that need to be dealt with.  I am broken – I am in awe!