Anticipation of a child!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our youngest daughter Klaire just turned 4 years old and one of the things I’ve noticed about her this year is her anticipation for the big day. Do you know what I’m talking about? Our two other daughters are older now and although they love Christmas and are excited about it – it’s just not the same type of excitement.

For Klaire, she’s constantly asking questions; how many more days till Christmas? Daddy, am I going to get any presents? I’ve been good! How many days till Christmas? And her favorite song has been “Oh, you better watch out – you better not cry – you better not pout because I’m telling on you!”

She is so excited about Christmas. And as I have watched my little girl – play with the lights on the tree – sing Christmas songs – ask about the little baby Jesus – and her presents – I’ve been reminded of how we seem to grow out of the anticipation – of how we take the gift – the Christ child for granted.

Could it be that we sometimes think that just because we say “Merry Christmas” and put a manger scene up in our home that we understand – we get what Christmas is all about – but do we.

So this morning, I want to encourage you to stop and focus on Christ – go ahead – I want you right now to think about Jesus – what is the first image that comes to your mind – what do you think of –Holy, salvation, risen, baby, forgiveness, peace, King, friend, father?

Now, think about this – those are all true – but He is so much more – He is more than all of that. The crazy thing is that what ever view of God you have this morning – whatever comes into your mind when you hear the name of Jesus – no matter how grand – how Holy of a picture you have in your head – He is greater than that – He is more than that – no matter how high your view of God is – it’s not high enough.

In the NT we have John – the one whom Jesus loved – the beloved disciple – he understood Jesus – and yet in Revelation chapter 1 when he sees Jesus in His glorified state – he says;
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

John had a high view of God – he understood and yet when he saw Jesus – it all changed. So, you and I need to understand that whatever our view of God is right now – He is greater than that – He is higher than that – and when you and I see His face – it will be more than amazing!

Psalm 145:3 says, Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

Did you hear that? You see, if you and I think we know how great God is – we are wrong – we can’t fathom it.

Isaiah 55 says; 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We can’t even describe His greatness – our words just don’t fit. So, when you think about Christmas – I want you to think about our God in heaven who is greater than anything you and I could ever imagine – and He came down into human form – He humbled himself into that form – for you.

My challenge to you this morning is to find time to truly think about what Christmas means. And may we learn to live again with the hope and excitement of a little four year old – because Christ was born in Bethlehem.

He is our Defender

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Recently a friend sent me an amazing video that reminded me of spiritual warfare. We know that the devil loves to attack and slow our progress. He loves to catch us off guard - get us down - hit our weak spot - and keep us from living the life God has intended for us to live. And yet we sometimes forget that Satan is our defeated enemy. We should not live our lives in fear or doom & gloom. Christ is our great defender - He is for us - and you better believe that He has your back!

I believe the thing God has been teaching me lately is that I need to do all I can to keep my focus. I need to rise up every day and put on my armor because the Christian life is a battle. Just because Jesus is my defender doesn't mean I can just go and make stupid decisions. It's the opposite - because He is my defender - I need to make sure I am giving Christ my full 110% focus- all the time. No matter what you are facing this Christmas - take heart - turn your focus to Christ - the King of Kings - the baby in a manger - the Savior of the World - and yes, your Defender. Then, run the race and run to win.

Paul said it like this;
I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 1 Corinthians 9:23-25 (New Living Translation)

Catalyst 2009

Once again this past October I attended the Catalyst Leadership Conference along with a couple of friends. This was my fourth Catalyst event and I have yet to be disappointed. I believe in this conference so much that I paid my own way and even bought a ticket for a friend. Below I have listed some of the reasons I attend and a short highlight video:

*I love to be around Kingdom focused Leaders
*Catalyst challenges me to think outside the box
*It inspires me to continue on this journey
*It's a time of spiritual renewal
*I love to be around people who do things with excellence
*I love to learn from people who are reaching the lost for Christ
*I go because I want to learn and grow as a leader

Playing it safe.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I received a text this morning from one of my best friends that said, “you know, Joe – I don’t want to be like all the other guys – I want to be set apart, different.” That’s a powerful statement! Something I desire for myself as well.

Living the Christian life is not about always doing the easy thing. It’s not about our comfort or about always getting our way. As followers of Christ, we are called to be set apart, to shine, to make a difference, to live out our faith in Jesus.

I needed this reminder today – how about you?

Here’s one of my favorite video clips from Francis Chan dealing with this same topic.

You Are For Me

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm not sure I've ever had more stressful/difficult things to deal with all at one time in my life. Don't get me wrong - I love the project I'm working on but the enormity of the task can easily become overwhelming. All that is complicated by the difficulty of still trying to sell a house/business while living out of boxes.

I think its easy to feel sorry for ourselves. It's also easy to lean toward having a negative attitude about things in our world. The other night as I was driving to the rent house I was praying for God to help us sell our home in Missouri and help us work things out with housing here in Tennessee when I looked over to see a homeless man sitting on a park bench. He was bundled up with blankets while all of his earthly possessions sat at his feet. It was if God said, "Joe, you have a roof over your head - that's more than a lot of people have tonight."

Feeling sorry for myself & choosing to be stressed out over things I can't control will simply render me helpless and useless for the Kingdom.

As I drove in to the office this morning - I plugged my iphone into the car stereo and listened to Kari Jobe. This song in particular brought clarity when I needed it most.

A Day at the Walden Family Farm

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This afternoon we drove out to Smyrna to have lunch with Julie's brother and his family. Afterwards, we took the kids to the Walden Family Farm. It took a while for us to get in because everyone else in the county decided to go at the same time! The place was really busy and a wonderful family activity. The Walden's have gone the extra mile to provide all kinds of things for kids and adults. If you're in the Nashville area I highly recommend the drive.

I Am Second

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In a world that loves to encourage people to think of themselves first - here's a powerful video that explains the key to being a quality leader.

Rock Star

Monday, October 5, 2009

Klaire's growing up so fast! It's amazing how much she has learned and changed over the past few years. We are so blessed to be her parents! Here's a quick video of her version of the Jonas Brothers.

Great News!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I’ve been dealing with a few medical issues over the past month – partly brought on by my aging body and past injuries.

My entail back injury happened about 16 years ago while playing church league basketball in Albany, GA. I damaged my L5 disk and was down for about a month. It seems the moving of boxes/furniture and driving thousands of miles over the past few months has re-aggrevated the old L5 – to the point that I finally herniated the disk. So this week I visited with one of the top Neurosurgeons in Nashville, Dr. Allen, to get his opinion. He fully believes we can fix the problem through injections and Physical Therapy. The next 3 to 4 weeks will be crucial to avoiding surgery and I’m praying this works.

Then, yesterday I spent the day at Summit Hospital getting an Upper Endoscopy and Colonoscopy. About 10 years ago I went through a terrible bought of reflux or heartburn. It got so bad that I woke up in the middle of the night with chest pains! Long story short – I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus (normal cells replaced with pre-cancerous cells). Because of the pre-cancerous cells they recommend treatment through meds and keeping an eye on it through frequent scopes. The Colonoscopy was done because I have a family history of colon cancer.

Well, if you know anything about the Wilson family then you know we don’t always do things the easy way! The 4-hour test yesterday turned into a 12-hour marathon basically because we found out that my body doesn’t like this stuff called “Moviprep.” I will spare you the details by saying I got really sick.

Here’s where the GREAT NEWS comes in – at the end of the day – the doctor entered the room and explained that the Barrett’s Esophagus was gone and my colon looked healthy!!! This was the same doctor who originally diagnosed me with Barrett’s and told me I would have it my entire life! I will have to continue to manage my reflux but the existence of pre-cancerous cells is gone.

I’m still blown away by the news from the doctor. In the back of my mind I wondered if this was something I would live with for the rest of my life and even die from. I’m thankful for the news – for good medical care (not everyone has this luxury!) – for the answered prayer – and for my Savior who continues to carry me through the good days and the bad. I’m also thankful for my wife who took the day off and sat by my side through it all – and I do mean ALL.

Learning To Let Go

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today blind-sided me! I knew it was coming but just never put any thought into it. This is the day in which I took my first-born daughter (Karlee) to get her drivers license!

There I was, walking up to the Tennessee Drivers License Facility with my little girl and the entire time it was like I had this movie playing flashback videos of her life over in my head. I remembered that amazing day in July when she entered the world there in the delivery room at the Hospital in Albany, GA. I could see the people standing at the altar of the Albany First Free Will Baptist Church as we stood there and dedicated this little baby to God. Flash backs of her first birthday cake, first bike ride, first day of school, first scrape on the knee, first everything.

I wondered what my parents thought the day I got my license and the first day I drove off without them in the car? I wondered how time flew by so quickly that I was now living out this crazy moment? I wondered if she was scared without me? I felt helpless. She was on her own.

I’m learning it’s easy for us as parents to say that our children are God’s – “I’ve just given them to the Lord” – but it’s an entirely different thing to live that statement out. God is stretching me. I’m learning new ways to trust in Him every day. Being a parent is one of the most amazing things in life– it’s a gift – and children truly are a blessing. Still, letting them go is so hard to do.

Thank you Karlee for being such a gift. For bringing us so much joy and love. You truly are a blessing and your love and faith in Christ is a beautiful thing! Now, please just be careful!!!

A Fathers Love

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Here’s a great video and story about a dad named Steve Monforto. I caught Steve’s story the other night on ABC News and thought it was a great picture of a fathers love. To understand you have to see the video clip below. Notice how Steve reacts to his daughter’s decision – at first its disappointment – then a loving hug.

I believe God sees you and I in the same way – no matter what we do – He loves us – we are His children and He greatly desires a personal relationship with us. Certainly sin is wrong – God is a just God and sin will be punished and yet at the same time He is our loving creator God who welcomes us with loving arms.

In no way should this give us permission to do wrong or sin more – but when a person truly begins to understand who God is and how great God is and how loving God is – he/she should be compelled to simply live his/her life for Him.

Text while you drive? This changed my life.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I’m a good driver. I’ve only been involved in one small finder bender in 25 years of driving and have only had one ticket. I rarely if ever drive more than five miles over the speed limit.

And yet, I admittedly text, twitter, and check my email while driving – that is I used to. My brother-in-law sent me an email with a link to the following video. I watched it and it changed the way I drive.

The fact is, our choices impact not only our own lives but the lives of those around us. As much as I love to stay connected with the outside world, I have decided to refrain from doing stupid while driving. The world can wait for me to pull over or to get to my next destination.

Let me warn you – the video posted here is very graphic. However, it is worth the view and you can count on me showing it to my wife and older daughters (especially my 16 year old)!

Cardinal Ball Game

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Last Thursday I had the chance to take my dad to a Cardinals game in St. Louis. We were actually on our way to Lebanon, Missouri to load up the bulk of our furniture for the move to Nashville and dad volunteered to help. This was our first time to be in the new stadium and we were not let down! It was amazing to say the least. The weather was fabulous – the seats were unbelievable – and time with dad was special. The older I get the more I appreciate these kinds of moments and the more I want to create them with my own children.

Also in the picture is Ernie and Ryan Lewis – another father-son team. Ernie pastors in Illinois and Ryan works in our national offices in Nashville.

As for the move – I couldn’t have made it without dad’s help! As for the picture – I realize I look like I’m on something but believe me I was only drinking Coke and no drugs were involved! I’ll blame it on the photographer!!!

Update and opportunities

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I can't believe it's been so long since I have written on my blog! This current transition has completely thrown me for a loop. Not only have I not blogged lately but I haven't exercised in over a month. I think it has something to do with the fact that all of our stuff is still in Missouri and we still aren't living in a house of our own. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to sound like I'm complaining because I am extremely thankful for our current situation and all we are learning right now. It just makes it hard to keep up on some things that used to be a priority.

Here's a quick update on our crazy (in a good way) lives; Julie is teaching kindergarten with Metro Nashville Public Schools and loves her school! The girls are attending Donelson Christian Academy and really enjoy the environment. We are currently living in some friend’s basement until the end of the month – then we will move into a rental home until our place in Missouri sells.

I’m enjoying my new position as program director with the International Missions Department ( heading up a new campaign called “Go10” ( It’s the most challenging thing I have ever taken on and I’m thrilled (amazed) that God has opened this door for me. The potential to impact young people and unify minds and hearts on God’s purpose across our denomination blows my mind. I believe God can do incredible things through this “walk for the world” over the next year. More blogging on that later!

Today I had an amazing opportunity to sit down at lunch with a couple of great leaders. I believe it’s so important to surround your self with the best, read from the best, and learn from the best. I want to be around positive people. I want to learn and hear from people who are doing huge things for God’s Kingdom. I want to be around people who are great at leading others to Christ. I love hearing from visionaries and out of the box thinkers.

There are a lot of people out there who love to shoot others down or talk negative about anyone more successful than they are. Honestly, that’s easy. Being a student is hard. Admitting that you don’t know everything is difficult. Getting it wrong is not any fun. Oh, but when you can learn something – when you do overcome extreme obstacles – when you do get it right – wow! What a feeling! Especially when it has anything to do with leading someone closer to a life-changing commitment to Jesus Christ.

Transition continues

Monday, July 27, 2009

Okay, let's just say I've been swamped over the past few weeks. I do want to update things a bit and let you know how are transition is going.

This past week we launched the campaign I am working on (Go10) at our National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. I honestly believe things went very well and we were able to generate a lot of excitement. You can read more about “Go10” on the following;


I want to thank all of our friends and family who continue to pray for us as we make this transition. It has not been easy and yet we trust God will carry us through each faze of this wonderful journey.

Please continue to pray about the following;
*The girls as they adjust to life in Nashville and prepare to attend new schools. This is especially tough for Karlee who will be entering her Junior year in High School. We are currently praying about what school she should attend.
*Our home in Lebanon, Missouri to sell. It is listed with an agent and has been shown several times but no offers…yet. Praying this comes quickly so that we can purchase a home in Nashville.
*Our small business in Lebanon to sell. We started a small business in Lebanon called “Airblast Inflatables Inc. Over the past six years God has blessed that little business. At this point, it would be best if we could leave it in the area and focus on our new ministry – so it’s for sale.
*Julie a teaching position. Over the years Julie has been blessed with some incredible teaching opportunities. We are praying for God to provide a place for her to shine brightly for Him.
*A place to live in Nashville. That’s right – we still do not have a place to live. We are currently staying with Julie’s brother’s family when we are in town. Pray with us that our home will sell quickly so that we can purchase something here.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Today is my anniversary! Julie and I have been married for 19 years this afternoon. And, I have to say that the longer I'm married to this amazing woman the more I am blown away by the pure joy this relationship brings into my life. I can't wait to see what the next 19 years has in store for us.

It's been a while since I have written anything on my blog. No good reason. Just haven't taken the time and haven't had the motivation.

We are currently in a major transition. I have left my position as pastor to take on a new role as a Program Director with FWB International Missions. The program I am heading up is called "Go 10 - Walk for the World." It's a campaign designed to unify young people on Christ's call for us to impact the world for Him and to challenge them to raise awareness/support by completing a 2,500 mile memorial walk across much of the US. More on the details later.

What does this mean for our family and how can you pray for us? Well, we are currently in the process of relocating to Nashville, Tennessee. Several people have asked how they could help or pray for us so here are some of our prayer needs;

*Julie a teaching job
*For our house to sell
*For our small business (Airblast Inflatables, Inc.) to sell
*That we would find a good deal on a home
*For our daughters during this transition - especially Karlee who will be a Junior in High School.
*For our church and friends we have left behind
*For the "Go 10" campaign

Thank you for praying!

I can honestly say that I am blown away that God is allowing me to be a part of this program. I believe it is going to be huge - much bigger than any of us can imagine and I am so excited to be in on it.

Thank You

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thank you.

I want to thank everyone for all the kind words and well wishes over the past week. This transition, like most are bitter/sweet.

Bitter because….

•It’s hard to leave those of you who have allowed us open access to your lives.
•It’s hard to leave those of you who have become friends and family to us.
•It’s hard to leave those of you who have allowed us to impact your life for Christ.
•It’s hard to leave those of you who have helped us grow closer to Jesus.
•It’s hard to leave those who have stuck with me and believed in me even when others did not – even when others left – even when others gave up.
•It’s hard to leave our home and neighborhood and all the memories we made there over the past six + years.
•It’s hard to leave a place in which you experienced God do such huge things in people and community. The fact that God allowed us to baptize 26 people last year and pull off a big event with over 20,000 people attending is simply miraculous. I love being a part of God sized things.
•It’s hard to watch your wife pack up a classroom and leave a school and friends that she loved so much.
•It’s hard to leave a staff that is like family to us. Mitchell, Steve and their families have a true passion for following Christ. I am honored to have served with them on the battle lines and would want few others next to me in the fight of faith. I wished so bad that I could take them with me for this next part of our journey.
•It’s hard to explain to three daughters that God is leading us away from their friends, schools, and memories.
•It’s hard to trust God with these “faith steps.” The older I get the harder they become.
•It’s hard to leave a place in which I failed to lead the “power brokers” to catch God’s vision of reaching this community for Him. Someone asked me yesterday what lessons I’ve learned over the past six+ years. My response, “plenty.” More on those lessons later.

One thing I learned early on in youth ministry is that no matter how hard you try it’s ultimately up to each individual person to follow Christ. We are just called to sow seeds. As I look around Lebanon I see a huge mission field that needs to be reached for Christ. I’m thankful for those who remain here to do His work and my prayers are with them.

My prayer is that I have lived in such a way that those who knew me saw Christ in the way I lived and in some way I may have compelled them to also live completely for Jesus.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Today I officially stepped down as pastor of First Church of Lebanon. I have accepted a position with the Free Will Baptist International Missions Department and will be relocating my family to Nashville, Tennessee within the next couple of weeks. My transition is quick, simply because of the nature of my new position and the launch of a new campaign at the end of this July (not much time to get things rolling).

As one might imagine, this has been an extremely difficult decision. One thing I’m learning through all of this is that the older you get the harder “faith steps” become. Because the older you get the more stuff you have in your life that is impacted by your decisions – children, home, contacts, friends, family, you name it.

We have been privileged to invest six years of our lives leading and challenging the people of First Church to grow in their personal relationship with Christ and to make His name famous throughout the world.

As we work through this transition faze we greatly appreciate your prayers. Relocation means we have a house to pack up and sell. At the same time, we are trying to find a place to live in Nashville. Not easy while saying goodbye to friends and moving to a new city to tackle a Goliath of a ministry task.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Silence. That's where I am right now and it's not easy. I'm the type of person that likes to have a handle on things. I love to dream. I love to cast vision. I love to be stretched and challenged. But the last year or even few years has me searching my heart and head for deeper answers. That's made it hard to blog. I just don't know what to write or don't have much to say. Sometimes silence is golden.

I'm so thankful for my relationship with Christ and that this time in the valley has allowed me to strengthen my relationship with Him. It's in those hard moments of life that you realize just how dependent you are on Jesus.

I'm thankful for my family and friends. My wife and daughters are so amazing. I am extremely blessed - way beyond measure!

What I really hate about being in this valley is that I am losing my passion. It's just not there - like a fire that dwindles to a small flame. I almost feel like a dream is dying. Is it an attack of the evil one himself? Is it the difficulties of life in general? Is it my own stubborn will being broken?

I'm not sure I will ever know. But I do know this; Jesus is still my Savior and He is still on His throne. Only Christ can bring me comfort, peace, and healing during this time. My focus must be on Him during ever storm life has to offer.

The other day one of my good friends reminded me of Psalm 30 - what a great reminder!

1 I will exalt you, O LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.

3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave [b] ;
you spared me from going down into the pit.

4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."

7 O LORD, when you favored me,
you made my mountain [c] stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

8 To you, O LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:

9 "What gain is there in my destruction, [d]
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help."

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What inspires you? I'm inspired by all kinds of stuff but seeing people do things that no one ever thought they could do has to be at the top of my list. As followers of Christ I think we often settle for second best in our lives. Sometimes our faith just isn't big enough or we simply don't want to take the risk involved with trying something new. Sometimes it's simply fear that keeps us locked up in a cage of unbelief. And other times we just don't want to put the effort into learning that new skill or improving the one we already use.

What inspires you to reach out? What inspires you to attempt the impossible? What inspired Peter to get out of the boat and walk on water? What inspired David to grab his sling and face off with a giant?

I dare to say each of us have a ton of untapped potential for Christ if we would simply try. Is failure a possibility? Sure. But so is success!

A friend of mine emailed the following video to me this morning. I never knew anyone could do such amazing things on a bicycle! I hope it inspires you to attempt something new today for Christ!

Turkey Hunting

Monday, April 20, 2009

I left the house this morning with no intention on going turkey hunting. But then while driving the girls to school - I saw them. I sent a text to my friend Tommy for some help in calling - stopped by Wal-Mart for my tag - then went home to dig out my gun. Two hours later I was holding this amazing bird. Thank you Tommy for doing the calling!

Turkey hunting is one of my favorite sports and I feel extremely blessed to have been able to see, hear, and kill one of these elusive birds. Now, I look forward to cooking some turkey up for supper tonight!

Just how far?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I've not blogged in while mainly because I have just been in a difficult place lately and don't know how to express myself. A couple of months ago I challenged our church to join me on a 40 Day Fast leading up to Easter. For me personally, I started with a three day total fast and then moved into a Daniel Fast. It has been an amazing journey! Fasting seems to allow me to focus so much more and listen to my Father more than usual. Then, we entered into the final week of our fast - and all HELL broke loose. Seriously, this has been a really tough week. I'm thankful that God has brought me through it and that He has provided some amazing friends to stand along side of me. I know Satan is not happy with our church and our stance for preaching His word and asking people to truly live it out. A lot of people aren't happy either. I have found that people will either be open to God stretching them in new ways or they will not be open to it at all. And, when they aren't open to it they can be pretty cruel. Unfortunately, it's in our human nature to travel the easy road - to want to simply cruise along and enjoy life. Not that God has called us to a life of pain or suffering but come on where's our sacrifice? Where is our willingness to truly follow Him no matter what.

We are called to love God, love other believers, and love the lost. That's it, plain and simple. For me, that is now how I determine if someone is a "spiritual" person or a true follower of Christ. As I have found out this week - loving others is not always easy - and yet it is what we are called to do. And it all begins with us realizing how much Jesus loves us.

Maybe this video will help. Focus on Christ and all He has done for you before you attend church on Easter Sunday.

A Pastor's Wife part 2

Friday, March 20, 2009

I came across these video's on Beth Moore's blog site. They are titled "The Life of a Ministers Wife" - part 1 through 3 from Stephen Proctor and it can be found on Vimeo. These are great video's and they give wonderful insight into the life of a pastor's wife. Thanks Stephen - great job!

The Life of a Ministers Wife - part 1 from stephen proctor on Vimeo.

The Life of a Ministers Wife - part 2 from stephen proctor on Vimeo.

The Life of a Ministers Wife - part 3 from stephen proctor on Vimeo.

A Pastor's Wife

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My wife attended a special Beth Moore conference this weekend that was only for those married to church staff. She took our Associate Pastor’s wife, Emily, along with her. I’m really thankful that she had this opportunity and thankful that Beth did this for church staff wives. Being in the ministry is a huge calling not just for the husband but also the wife. It’s a blessing. And…it’s got to be one of the most difficult things to be on the planet!

A pastor’s wife lives in a glass house – a house that must always be spotless just in case someone drops by for a visit. Then, you have the monthly pastor’s reception and the monthly bible study, which also takes place in her home. In many cases she serves not only as the housewife but works another full time job to help with benefits or income that many churches can’t afford today. She can’t go anywhere that her clothes and hair are not judged or examined by the people in the community. And she better make sure the kids are well behaved!

The pastor’s wife is always on call ready for every phone call to the prayer chain. She is expected to lead the women’s auxiliary, the children’s choir, work in the nursery, teach a Sunday school class, sing on the praise team, attend every baby shower while bringing a fabulous gift, bake the best desserts, twitter, blog, create mind blowing websites, be the church secretary, and help her husband write good sermons. You would think every pastor’s wife should have to go through a “How to be Wonder Woman” class in college!

Well, this is one pastor who is so thankful for his “Wonder Woman!”

Here’s a video Julie told me about – they showed this at the conference. Yes, I have to admit that my wife has made it into a few of my sermon illustrations. Those were very tough Sunday afternoons!!! :)

Another Great Video

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I love this video! If you could introduce Jesus - how would it be. The fact is, you and I get to introduce Him every single day to the people in our lives. How are you doing? Today, make the name of Jesus famous!

Going through the motions

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What if? That's a question that literally haunts some people. What if I would have done this? What if I would have made this decision? We shouldn't live in the past - but we sure can learn a lot from our mistakes. History is a good teacher. We must commit to not waste our lives - we must commit to live every day as if it is our last. For the person that is truly following Christ - that means living your life in complete awe of Him. Don't just waste life going through the motions! Love God with everything that is in you and give yourself to Him completely!

Matthew West sums this up well in his song "The Motions." Here are the lyrics;

This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

What are you doing to reach kids?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thanks to twitter - I came across this interesting video. I love the focus on reaching out and reaching out to children. No, we should not ignore adults. And yet, we can't ignore the fact that the majority of people who come to Christ do so before the age of 18. So, with that in mind, what are you doing to reach kids in your community?


Friday, February 27, 2009

This week we dug into a box of old pictures with the kids. It was a blast looking through the photo’s of birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, church events, old youth group trips, mission trips, homes we lived in, etc.

I was blown away at the memories – especially of the memories Julie and I have made together. We started dating in High School and stayed together all the way through college. Yep, I married my High School sweetheart! As I looked through the pictures it was as if my heart swelled with love and respect for this incredible woman. Her inner and outer beauty amazes me. I’m blown away with the fact that God allowed me to marry such a woman – I’m extremely blessed.

I’m thankful for the 18+ years we have been married and for the 25+ years that we have been dating. I’m thankful and rejoice in the wife of my youth! 18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. Proverbs 5:18 (New Living Translation)

You know, neither one of us are perfect. And yes, we have had our little moments of disagreements. But we have leaned on Christ and each other – prayed together – and stayed together. As I look back, most if not all of the struggles we have had were born in my own selfish desire or attitude. The more I learn to serve my Lord and my wife the more I grow and the more our relationship grows.

I’m a little slow sometimes – yes, I admit it! But the more I learn to live out John chapter 3 verse 30 – the better my life in Christ becomes. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. John 3:30 (New Living Translation) To borrow from Rick Warren, “it’s not about me!” Marriage may be one of the most profound relationships on earth to learn this principle.

I still have a long way to go. I have a lot of “decreasing” to do. But for now, I’m rejoicing in the memories!

Blurred Vision

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I can still remember when I was in the 5th grade (the picture above is from my 8th grade year) my eyes started to give me problems. I noticed it when I was in the back of the classroom – one of the privileges of your last name starting with “W!” The problem was I couldn’t see the chalkboard. Actually, I couldn’t see hardly anything far away. My parents took me to an eye doctor where they examined my eyes and determined I needed… what? Glasses! That’s right – I had to get glasses.

I picked out a wire rim pair that had the automatic shading lenses. They would get darker when you stepped outside. I guess I was thinking about all the outdoor activities I enjoyed not how dorky they would look. So, the glasses gave new opportunity for the local bullies to call me names, usually it was simply four eyes. Not only did they look funny, but they also hurt when I first put them on. The doctor said the headaches wouldn’t last long. It just took some time for my eyes to adjust and for my ears to get used to carrying the frames around on my head.

Uncomfortable, heavy, inconvenient, dorky, with a slight shade of brown trimmed in gold, that’s part of what I remember about my pair of glasses. However, the most significant thing I remember was putting them on in the doctors office and, and, and, I COULD SEE! Yes! There were letters on that stupid wall and now I could actually tell what letters they were.

The drive home was amazing! I never realized what I was missing. Life before my glasses was out of focus and just a blur. Now, the leaves on the trees had detail. The road signs gave directions. There were squirrels running around in the park and birds flying in the air. It was like a whole new world.

There have been times in my life when my spiritual life has been out of focus as well. Times when God seemed distant. It might have been because I had neglected our relationship. It could have been my pride, lust, prejudice, gluttony, desire for more money, or a thousand other things.

I have discovered a cure for this spiritual blurriness –“a pair of glasses” that put things in perspective for me. Jesus knew about it and did it. Moses was great at it. Nehemiah was all about it. King Jehoshaphat called for the entire nation of Israel to do it. Paul, Barnabas, and the disciples were smart enough to do it. John the Baptist taught his disciples how to do it. The church of Antioch did it. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure it out. I think this may be one of the most neglected of all spiritual disciplines and at the same time one of the most powerful one’s available to us.

It’s called fasting. And like my new glasses in the 5th grade, a time of fasting and prayer may at first be a little uncomfortable, give me a caffeine headache (from the lack of it), and cause people to think I’m nuts for doing it. But, when I fast and pray, my Lord and this world He has placed me in comes into focus. It allows me to humble my heart, see how much I rely on Him, and focus more clearly on His agenda for my life more than ever before.

So, on March 3rd, I have called our church to a 40-day Pre-Easter fast. I need focus – I need clarity – I want to see God do miracles – I want to know His heart and His will for my life. I know it won’t be easy. But, I’m confident it will be an amazing journey.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1

Pastor's taking the heat

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yesterday I came across a powerful post by Phil Pike dealing with Pastor's and their struggles. It hurt me to read it mainly because I am in the midst of this massive struggle. I'm not posting this for sympathy but to hopefully open some people's eyes to the very real struggles that pastor's face. Honestly, when I accepted my current position - I simply had no idea what I would face and the dangers it would pose to my health, family, ect. I'm afraid it's difficult for most people to truly understand unless they have been there. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle and your pastor and his family are on the front line. Enough said for now.

Here's the link to Phil's Post - it's well worth the read!


Serving for...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today I want to share a guest blog from Emily Cooper the director of our Youth Ministries. She is the wife of our Associate Pastor Mitchell and a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. The Coopers are a wonderful blessing and extremely gifted. I'm extremely thankful to have them on our team! Here's her post.

As I was reading this morning, this verse stuck out to me, and even as I continued reading, I was drawn back to it again and again in my mind. And I've struggled this very morning with this very thing...

"Watch over the flock of God entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly - not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God." I Peter 5:2

It's a great reminder, an excruciatingly hard truth for me that we are serving for CHRIST, for His glory, and often times people don't know, don't care, don't see or respond to our love in the ways we hope/expect that they will. But the ultimate truth is, we do things to serve God, for His smile, His pleasure. All other service is meaningless, like a clanging gong...

This morning I grudgingly did something for someone - there was really no pleasure in it, I think they could tell, I knew, and then the guilt inevitably followed. I figured there would be no "thank you" or recognition of the effort it took on my part. It is my prayer that God would renew our hearts, captivate us with His love, and we would serve the body of Christ (the church), and all others God has placed around us, with our eyes fixed on Christ and out of an overflow of His love, a response of our love for Him...

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

Emily Cooper

Sunday Thoughts

Monday, February 16, 2009

*Taught four straight days at Boswell this week. Love teaching these 4th & 5th graders! They are eager to learn like fresh clay to the artist’s hands – I’m thankful for the opportunity to impact their lives.
*The extra work load is extremely hard – this will only last another couple of weeks – then I will begin to finish up some of the classes which will give me more time for ministry work. Trying to squeeze everything in is burning me out – but necessary right now to impact lives and make ends meat.
*I am so thankful for what God is doing in my oldest daughter. She is growing stronger in her faith each week – not a popular thing in this town at her age. Praying for her impact in a very dark school.
*Kassidy’s Upward team is really coming together. The competition has been light but they are still learning so much. Kassidy is really catching on to the game – she has some raw talent and a ton of determination. Now’s the time to develop it.
*Klaire is talking more and more. She still has her three-year-old moments or meltdowns. Even so, the girl is such a blessing and miracle to have in our home and hearts.
*Had an amazing date day with Julie on Valentines Day. Took her to Ocean’s Zen – an Asian Bistro in Springfield. It’s one of our favorite date spots because the food is simply off the wall. I’m so blessed to be married to this incredible woman. I melt when I look into her eyes.
*Our church is in a weird season right now – somewhere between the Transitional Season and the Malaise Season. I don’t like it. We can’t stay here long. I can’t figure this out right now. Maybe I’m not supposed to. So, I’m praying for God to give discernment and guidance – to help us focus completely on Him.
*Our current sermon series on Prayer is rocking my world all over again. Hoping God uses it to challenge our church to truly become a body of prayer warriors for Christ!
*This coming Sunday I will be speaking on Fasting – then challenging our church to enter into a 40 day fast beginning on Tuesday, March 3rd. Can’t wait to see what God does in our hearts during that time.

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 13, 2009

I love Valentine's Day! Maybe because I get to celebrate this holiday of love with my best friend and wife of 18 years. I hope God blesses us with many more weekends like this to celebrate each other and the love that He has blessed us with.

Here are some of my favorite Valentine’s Day links from Twitter friends: Hope you enjoy!!!

From Mark Driscoll:

From Ron Edmondson on who we are to love:

From Matt Willmington about safeguards in marriage.

From Tony Morgan: free song download to celebrate Valentine’s Day – Marvin Gaye!

Learning about Volunteers

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It’s been 15 years since I worked a full time job and did ministry part time. That’s changed. This past month I have been given the wonderful opportunity to teach a Drug and Violence Awareness Program in one of our local elementary schools. It’s typically a couple of days a week teaching in each class – and I have loved it. However, do to testing and snow days my schedule has been rearranged to accommodate the program and class schedules. Thus, today is my forth day in a row of teaching 8:00 to 3:00.

Keep in mind, while adding this extra workload I still have to continue my full time ministry job as pastor. That means a lot of afternoon calls, meetings, and studying. And…I am tired – bone tired – wiped out!

Let’s just say this has been a great learning experience for me. Here are some of my observations;

• My respect level for anyone who volunteers to serve in his or her local church has gone sky high! Yes, I believe everyone should find a place of service. I believe God has given us gifts and talents to be used for His glory. It’s just that my respect for the people who actually put in 40 to 50 hours of work at their normal job then come join us for ministry at night or on weekends has gone out the roof.
• My respect for my wife and what she does has hit the moon! I honestly don’t know how she does it? I don’t think I would – I don’t think I could – not for as long as she has. The next time someone tries to tell me what my wife isn’t doing what she should be doing – I hope they are standing close enough for me to punch them in the throat! If you haven’t walked in someone’s shoes, don’t expect to understand the crap they have walked through to get to where they are.
• Churches and pastors (yes, myself included) often take advantage of their volunteers. Let explain this – again, everyone should find a place of service - everyone should understand what’s expected of his or her ministry task (another post sometime but we fail in this area big time!) - but we have to stop expecting our volunteers to be at the church 7 to 10 hours a week plus spend time at home growing their relationship with Christ and preparing their next lesson.

I would love to hear what some of you have to say about churches expectations on volunteers and how we as pastors can do a better job of caring for schedules, expectations, ect.

Crazy Drivers

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Here's a video worth checking out. Maybe it's a little funnier to me because I have a daughter learning to drive?

More than a Great Tool!

I want to introduce you to a fantastic tool that I have been using now for several months. It's called It's an incredible new way to read the bible online and....much more! This online bible powerhouse was created by to help encourage people to grow in God's Word and with each other. I LOVE the simplicity of it - the different versions - the iphone app - the journal tab- add a video - and I'm just getting started. This thing is packed with life changing options. It's the bible and community on steriods! It's the PX90 of bibles!

Let's face it - the Bible is the number one all time best selling book in the history of the world. Reading this book is life changing - it's paramount for true discipleship. Yet, many people who claim to be followers of Christ never open it's pages. I believe is helping to change that with

So, give it a try - set up an account - it's free - let me know you have joined so that I can add you to my "follower" list.

Oh yeah - thank you for your example, love for Christ, creativity, and impact on my life!

Sunday Thoughts

Monday, February 9, 2009

• My faith is being stretched right now. It’s hard to explain but God has me in a place of waiting on Him. I’m not good with waiting – very impatient – but working on it.
• Heavy work schedule this week with teaching 24 hours at the local Elementary school. I’m loving the time with these students – they are bright and eager to learn – truly makes me miss kids ministry.
• Had an awesome weekend – Friday night we went out for Pizza with our girls. I love our time together as a family.
• Kassidy’s Upward team played Saturday morning. I also took Klaire to the game because she forgot to sleep in! She sat on the bench and helped us coach the team – and she loved it. Not sure that she will be much on sports though – she spent most of the game brushing her hair with her pink hairbrush! Kassidy continues to develop in her skill level and understanding of the sport. I love to watch her play.
• Saturday night I took Julie out on a date to Gary’s Place – it’s an Italian restaurant in town – and has great food. I’m extremely blessed to be married to my best friend. My wife is amazing.
• We mailed off support letters this week for Karlee. She has been selected to a summer mission’s team and needs to raise some funds. I’m blown away by how much she has grown in Christ over the past year and can’t wait to see what God does in her life this summer.
• This Sunday I started a new sermon series called “Prayer.” I’m going to take this series through six weeks – one of those weeks I will deal with fasting and challenge our church family to join me on a 40 day fast that will lead us up to Easter.
• The message yesterday was very simple and practical – and yet God used it to challenge me to spend more time listening in prayer. He gave me a freedom yesterday as I spoke – it’s hard to explain – but there is nothing like the Holy Spirit guiding you through a message like that – I’m blown away that God allows me to do this. I’m looking forward to the next several weeks and praying that God will break through hardness in hearts and allow us to see Him change more lives in our midst.
• Our attendance was down a bit in the second service – not sure why? The worship was spot on – loved the first song and Mitchell’s solo just before I preached. We continue to pray for God to send us more musicians for the band – especially a drummer.

Recovering Racist

Monday, February 2, 2009

34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:34-35 (NIV)

Okay, this is a tough blog for me to write. But, I’m a Recovering Racist. There – I said it! I don’t like that I said it and I don’t like that it’s true. Over the past 22 years (I’m a slow learner!) God has been stretching me and changing me in so many ways. And, my view of people is one of the things He has changed.

Webster defines racism as; a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

For me, the biggest change factor in this area of my life has been the adoption of our youngest daughter Klaire. We adopted Klaire from China just over two years ago. And, it’s been one of the greatest decisions of our lives.

Again, I knew I grew up in small town “white” America – heard plenty of racial jokes in school, etc. But, honestly thought I had moved passed the whole race thing.

Then, one morning – as I walked into Klaire’s bedroom – I stood over her bed and looked at this incredible little gift from God – and all of a sudden it hit me – when I looked at Klaire I didn’t see a little Asian girl – I only saw my daughter. My daughter.

It’s at that point – that I realized I had grown up with such a closed mind and sick view of people and our world. Because the truth is – we are all people – created by God – unique – and yet the same. And when God looks at us – He only sees… His children.

Honestly, I’m thankful our country is changing in regards to race. I do believe things are better than they were 20 years ago. But, if we were all truly honest – we each probably still have some work to do in regards to loving each other as John 13:34-35 teaches. Then the world will know we are His!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Here's a great opportunity to step up and make a huge impact for Christ! Check out this link and get involved.

Sunday Thoughts

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

• This was an incredibly busy week with “Choices” getting started into full swing. “Choices” is a drug and violence reduction program for 4th and 5th graders that I was asked to teach in the public schools.
• I love teaching in the classroom – especially to students who want to learn and listen. This is a breath of fresh air for me. Pastoring a church is so much different – especially when you have adults who don’t listen, fall asleep, don’t care to be there, never change, don’t get your vision, tell you they love you then leave your church when they don’t agree with you, etc. I shouldn’t get started. But at least with 4th and 5th graders – they seem to appreciate the fact that I’m there and they show signs of life while I teach! Of course most of them don’t have a choice on being there – but they do seem to enjoy it – and they even ask me to come back – maybe it’s just the honeymoon stage?:)
• Our attendance is holding steady – we have had new families visit over the past month – but continue to only see about 20 percent return for a second visit. Not great statistics!
• “Practical Atheist” part 3 was today – and I’m loving this study. Part 3 was all about money – the number one competitor for our hearts. Money is huge for the American Christian and the truth is most don’t acknowledge it. As a result, less than 9 percent of churchgoers tithe which leaves the church to fulfill the Lord’s mandate on about one fifth of it’s potential – and that is sad. That’s a lot of ministry left undone – a lot of people not being reached or impacted for Christ.
• I’m thrilled with the two staff members God is allowing me to work with. They aren’t just staff members – they are friends that I love and trust. They get the vision and continue to fight the battle in spite of difficulties.
• Our small group time continues to be one of the highlights of my week. I’m so convinced that small groups – especially “sermon based” small groups work in creating healthy community. The challenge is getting everyone else to see and try it.
• Yesterday, a couple of our good friends left on a cruise vacation for the week – and they asked us to watch their 1 year son – who is about the most adorable little guy you have ever seen! I’m honored this family asked us to watch their son – I’m thrilled to get to spend some time with a “son” in the house – nothing against my girls – it’s just different having a little guy around – and it’s growing on me! More on this later and pictures to come.
• I am looking forward to some possible snow days. I know that may sound bad but we have been running like crazy and busting our tails with work stuff and a day or two of rest would be a blessing. I just hope it doesn’t come in the form of another major ice storm!
• God continues to stretch me each and every day – I’m praying for Him to ruin me – He’s answering.

This moved me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This video is well worth the short amount of time it takes to view. It's powerful.

Thank you Pastor Rick Warren

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Slowly but surely I'm learning a very hard lesson in life - that is this; you can't control what others think or say about you. You can't. So, I'm learning the value of trusting God - following His word - and caring first about what my Savior thinks about me and my life rather than what people think.

Today, Pastor Rick Warren showed his true colors and lived out a wonderful example of Christ before the entire world. It really ticks me off when other pastors and believers criticize Rick and his ministry especially when they don't know him or haven't even read his books. I personally have read his books, listened to his sermons, attended his training conference, listened to his pod casts, and attended his church. From my vantage point, all I have seen is a man passionate about following Christ and leading others to do the same. You may not like his methods but the man is spot on and rock solid. I am thankful to have learned from him and pray that God will give me the strength and commitment to follow Christ as well as Rick Warren.

With all that being said, pastor Mark Driscoll wrote the following post that describes his personal feelings about Rick and contains a manuscript of his prayer from today's Presidential Inauguration - it's well worth the read. Here's the link:

This is the video of the actual prayer via YouTube.


I've been silent for a while - God is stretching me in huge ways right now - it's hard to even write this morning. I'm taking our church through a sermon series called "Practical Atheist." Craig Groeschel, the pastor of Lifechurch is an incredible leader that God is using big time right now - especially in my life. One of the prayers that Craig started praying was for God to "ruin" him. I've started to pray that same prayer and I've challenged our church to pray it as well - that God would ruin us as we are and make us more and more like Him.

This morning I got up and hit the treadmill and listened to worship music on the ipod - this song "You are Good" by Gateway Worship featuring Kari Jobe rocked me to my core. I needed this today - okay, I need it every day. Here is a video of the Kari leading others in worship to the same song. May God ruin you today!

Passion for Football, Passion for Christ, & a College Playoff System

Friday, January 9, 2009

My hat goes off to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Rarely do you see athletes play with such focus and passion as Tebow - and even though I'm a huge Sooner fan it was fun to watch Tim lead his team and play the game. I wonder what would happen if we all followed Christ with the same intensity?

What kind of intensity is that? Well, look and learn from Tim - at least up and to this point in his life - the guy is living the walk. He openly follows Jesus and doesn't care who knows. He is focused on the prize - determined to stay on course - and he is leading others to do the same. What would happen if we all lived that way? The world would be a better place and more lives would be changed for Jesus Christ!

Needless to say, the game last night simply confirmed to me that there should be a National College Football Playoff System. Forget all the stupid bowl games - throw these teams together in a playoff system like the pros use and let the best team win. There are no superior conferences or schedules - just teams who either bring it on game day or leave it in the locker room.

How's your game face?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I'm incredibly excited about the big game tonight!  Even practiced my game face for all you Florida fans.  Just for the record - it should be a good game - I like Tebow - I like the state of Florida - I love Disney World - I like fried gator tail - I like oranges - I like sand - I like palm trees - but I don't like the University of Florida.   Five short years in Norman, Oklahoma transformed my blood to Sooner red!

Prosperity Gospel

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm at home today not feeling well.  Throat and head are nasty.  So, I'm spending some of my time reading blogs, checking email, twittering, and studying.

My friend Sean Warren sent me the following video featuring the words of John Piper.  It's powerful.  I'm a fan of Piper, his books, his ministry, and his passion for Jesus!

Happy New Year

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I've been away from the internet for almost a week with the exception of my iphone.  We traveled to Florida to visit Julie's parents at their winter home and to take the kids to Disney World.  Her brother and his family also joined us - it was a blast!  More on that later.

We are still on the way home and so I am doing a quick post from the hotel lobby in Memphis.  I wanted to share a couple of cool links as we enter into a new year.

Here is a great link to help you read through the bible this year.  If you have never done this - you should.  Check this out:

Also, about six years ago I purchased a super cool bible study software for my pc - logos bible software.  It's the best I have ever seen.  However, they didn't have the software for the mac.  That has changed!  I haven't been able to purchase the new mac version but hope to win it through this special promotion.  Check it out:  

A free Kutless MP3 is being given away at Bible Study Magazine. They are also having a contest to win cool Kutless gear and Logos Bible Software. Go check it out!