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!

25 Years Ago!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wow!  Today I celebrate a cool milestone with my wife – it’s our 25th year dating anniversary.  That’s right, 25 years ago today I asked her to be my girlfriend.  It was a Friday night and we were at a High School Football game.  Sweet!  We were only 15 years old and that decision turned out to be one of the best decisions I have every made.  We are still dating – and I am more in love with her than ever!

Something else happened 25 years ago in my life.  Just before Julie and I started dating – God got a hold of my heart and I returned to my first love – Jesus Christ.  I become a follower of Christ when I was just nine years old.  But during my Jr. High years I stopped going to church and began to live “my” life.  I left God out of everything.  I finally came to my senses when I was 15 and rededicated my life to Jesus.  It’s been an incredible journey ever since.

In Honor of my dating anniversary – I wanted to post some of the amazing things that happened during 1983.  Great memories!!!

Penn State beats Georgia in Sugar Bowl for college football title

Tony Dorsett sets NFL record with 99-yd rush, Dallas vs Minnesota

Reagan ends U.S. arms embargo against Guatemala

10th American Music Award: Kenny Rogers

"A-Team" with Mr. T premieres on NBC

Hulk Hogan pins Iron Sheik for World Wrestling Federation title

40th Golden Globes: Gandhi, ET and Tootsie win

Superbowl XVII: Washington Red Skins beat Miami Dolphins, 27-17 in Pasadena Superbowl MVP: John Riggins, Washington, RB

U.S. Male Figure Skating championship won by Scott Hamilton

1st female secretary of transportation, Elizabeth Dole, sworn-in

"Weird Al" Yankovic records "Ricky" and "Buckingham Blues" debut LP

Donald Davis runs 1 mile backwards in 6 minutes 7.1 seconds

Hindus kill 3000 Moslems in Assam, India

25th Grammy Awards: Roxanna, Toto IV, Men at Work wins

USFL New Jersey Generals sign Heisman winner Herschel Walker (3 years-$5 mil)

Dow Jones closes above 1100 mark for 1st time

Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album goes to #1 and stays #1 for 37 weeks

Final episode of M*A*S*H; 125,000,000 viewers

OPEC cut oil prices for 1st time in 23 years

U.S. president Ronald Reagan introduces "Star Wars" missile defense plan (SDI)

45th NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: North Carolina State beats Houston 54-52

6th space shuttle mission, Challenger 1 launched

President Reagan signs $165 billion Social Security rescue

Alice Walker wins Pulitzer Prize for "The Color Purple"

Suicide bomber kills 63, at U.S. Embassy in Lebanon

San Antonio spurs beat Denver Nuggets, 152-133 in NBA playoff game

18th Academy of Country Music Awards: Alabama and Willie Nelson

37th NBA Championship: Philadelphia 76ers sweep Los Angeles Lakers in 4 games

"Trading Places," "Ghostbusters," and "Gremlins," premieres

Hurricane Alicia, kills 17 in Texas

Joseph Kreckman sets record of 2,215 clay pigeons shot in an hour

Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes a U.S. citizen

Vanessa Williams (NY), 20, crowned 56th Miss America 1984, 1st black

Last hand-cranked telephones U.S. went out of service as 440 telephone customers in Bryant Pond, Maine, were switched over to direct-dial

Baltimore Orioles beat Philadelphia Phillies, 4 games to 3 in 80th World Series

Suicide terrorist truck bomb kills 241 U.S. personnel in Beirut

1st live telecast of Christmas Parade


Things I'm reading

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I've not written any blogs this week.  Instead I have been spending my time trying to get ahead on sermon writing since I will be out of the office 3 days next week for the Catalyst Conference.

Here are some things that I have been reading on blogs, etc.

  • Carlos Whiteaker is one of my favorite bloggers - today at 3:00 pm he started a 3 day fast from technology.  Good for him - bad for the thousands of people who love his blog including me.  I look forward to his return to the super highway!
  • Tony Morgan mentioned a great article on this post.  "Thats-quotable-guy-kawasaki"  This article is a great read for anyone who has to speak in public or prepare a speech.
  • Ed Stetzer did a cool interview with one of my favorite pastors - Perry Noble.  You can read the interview here.
  • While I'm sharing some of the blogs I've been reading this week I would like to share a post from another pastor - Chris Elrod and his blog on what blogs he doesn't read - it's well done and sure made me think about what I read and what I write.  You can read it here.
  • Sometimes I drive people crazy with my drive for excellence in all we do for Christ.  I've even been accused of wanting perfection or being so structured that I wouldn't know it if the Holy Spirit moved.  Steve Furtick has a great post that explains why some of us want to strive for excellence - after reading his post I want it even more!  Good-enough-isn't good enough for me.
  • Perry Noble has a powerful post here - dealing with vision.  I will be speaking on vision the last Sunday of this month - can't wait!
  • I served as a youth pastor for the first ten years of my ministry - one of my favorite youth guys out there is Joshua Griffin at Saddleback Church.  He wrote an extremely helpful post here for other youth guys and us old grown up pastor guys who still like youth ministry stuff.
  • Francis Chan's book "Crazy Love" is rocking my world and kicking my butt - seriously, ever follower of Christ should read this book.  Just beware - God will use Francis and his huge love for Jesus to stretch you!
  • And finally, my favorite blogger on the planet is my wife - Julie.  She's so amazing and she writes about my favorite things - our girls!
The important thing is to always keep reading and learning.  If you ever think you have gotten to the point that you know it all - you are dead wrong.