Wednesday, November 10, 2010

By the fire

Its over now. Im getting to sit by the fire alone for a few minutes and reflect. I think it went well. I made it through, and so did they. We shared communion together as a family around the campfire. The sky was clear and the stars are shining. What a great memory. Standing outside, around a fire, taking communion and singing "how He loves". There are some great leaders in this group. Now its their turn to step up and make a difference. Now its my turn to step out on faith and follow Christ into new territory. I think we are both ready.
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The Bonfire

Im actually posting from my phone. In a few minutes I will share with a great group of students a passion God has placed in my heart. A passion that will require me to not only leave the church, but transition into a whole new area of ministry. As we share communion tonight together, and talk about Jesus launching the start of the church from that room, I will share about the burden God has given me to step from the role of a student ministries pastor to church planter. My life will never be the same after tonight. There is this odd blend of anxiety and fear mixed with vision and passion. I pray I never let anxiety and fear direct my life.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Community and Candy

This last week has been extremely busy. In fact, for my family, there were 6 church related events and three soccer games. There are just not enough hours in a day, honestly. However, last night, during a community outreach, something neat happened. We were handing out candy and people came by and would recognize staff members from different community involvement areas. "Hey, you are the guy who sells those tickets at the football games. Aren't you that lady who eats lunch at the elementary schools? Hey, thanks for feeding the team. Etc." Each staff member had connections to other outreaches and areas of community involvement, and people noticed. It would be nice to see instant growth in the ministries involved, but that is not the true heart of ministry. Our calling is to reach and love those in which God has entrusted to us. Our community. Great job guys!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Over the last several months, I have intentionally taken a break from posting. I didn't want it to become a therapy session every time I logged on. In the days to come I will be posting many shorter thoughts, ideas, and bits of information.

Life isn't as scripted as my blog posts have been. I intend to keep posting longer articles, but I also want to take.others along on my ministry journey. My facebook and twitter posts are often about daily life, but this blog is more about ministry. The struggles, frustration, wins, and losses. Follow along. Post your thoughts and experiences.
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Ice Cream With A Plan

My wife and I were driving back from a camp recently and spotted on of our favorite places.  If you live in the heart of Texas or anywhere in Yankee territory, you have probably never visited a Braums.  All I can say is, as a self appointed expert in the area of frozen yummieness called ice cream, they are incredible.  Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate is by far my favorite.

Rachael and I quickly put the kids to bed at Nanna's house and went over for a late night getaway.  It was late, but they were still open.  The lady behind the counter was very friendly, especially for someone in the fast food industry!  We were looking over the flavors and talking about how we missed Braums, and the lady asked where we lived.  When we told her, she began to explain the company model and how no store is more than eight hours away from the dairy.  That is how they keep such a great product on the shelf.  They have a whole line of dairy products, and the eggnog at Christmas always finds its way to our house.  It is simply a good product, and now I know why!

It is not because the dairy is less than eight hours away.  I am sure that helps with freshness and labor issues.  But there is no doubt that the reason the product is good is because they care enough to teach their employees, even the minimum wage earners on the late shift, the purpose for their existence.  Those people know why they are there and what the company vision is.

As leaders, we often do not take the time to share the vision and purpose below the first tier of leaders.  Everyone else just has to guess.  Sometimes they can figure it out.  Sometimes they make up their own purpose.  Either way, it is a reckless and lazy way to lead.

Do the people you lead know your heart?  Do they know where you want to go...and why?  As leadership guru John Maxwell puts it, "If you are out front leading, and no one is following, you are simply taking a walk."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

High Def

Recent days have been filled with highs and lows, and honestly, you could say that in just about any week in ministry.  It is so awesome when an outreach goes to plan, a series really connects, or an altar service changes lives.  What is difficult is balancing those experiences with the lows;  disappointment, uncertainty, and stress.  I have noticed, especially over the last few weeks that I tend to define myself in the moment.  When things are going great, I don't question my calling or situation, but when the negative tide rolls in, so do the questions.  Can I hack it anymore?  Am I really called to this?  Do people even care that I am pouring myself into this?

I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  It is a fault, and I am working on it, but it is me nonetheless.  I'm an emotional guy.  I yell at football games, and sometimes at church.  I get emotional when it comes to my boys, and I cry at the end of the movie "Rudy."  It's just me.  The sad part is, when I look through the filter of my circumstances, I see God and ministry skewed.  And soon to follow it the question, "Why?", and that is the wrong question.

Isaiah 55 states:
8-11"I don't think the way you think.
   The way you work isn't the way I work."
         God's Decree.
"For as the sky soars high above earth,
   so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
   and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
   and don't go back until they've watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
   producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
   not come back empty-handed.
They'll do the work I sent them to do,
   they'll complete the assignment I gave them.

Do we really want God to plan and think as we do?  Think About it.  The creator of the universe planing out of frustration or failure?  If He worked like us, we probably wouldn't hear from Him on Mondays or Thursdays because of His frustration at followers.  I'm Glad God has it in HIS hands.  I am truly thankful that God doesn't think like me, or try and reason it all out in advance.  We wouldn't need faith then.  Our relationship with Him would be stale and non-communicative.  

The real question is "Where?"  

By asking God "Where?" we are following His leading to a new destination.  We are not defined by our circumstances in the moment, but by what God is doing through us and where He is taking us.  A higher place.  A Higher Definition.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Perspective: Steering Through Chaos

At the end of this post, learn how you can win a free copy of "Steering through Chaos" just by posting on the blog and tweeting/Facebooking a link to it.

I have read a lot of books over the years, but few connect the reality of the stress and decision making processes of staff ministry. For the last seventeen years, I have been a part of a ministry staff. Some teams were creative and effective, others dysfunctional dictatorships. One constant in all situations was stress and the need for critical thinking and decision making. In some places I learned the value of submitting to authority, in others, the importance of thinking big and creating "wins" for other team members. I do not think that in any ministry situation, there has not been a life lesson I was able to take away.

In Scott Wilson's new book, "Steering through Chaos", he not only addresses the focus and discipline of the key leader, but also that of the rest of the team. Let's face it, the team works hands on with his/her own team regularly to instill the vision God has given the key leader. We, as team members/staff need to know that leadership understands "our chaos". Stress and dysfunction is just as rampant in those who have a calling to a specific group as in pastoral leadership. If the calling came from the same place (God), and carries the same goal (reaching the lost, equipping the believer) why would we expect less resistance and stress from our efforts.

Scott Wilson seems to have a firm grasp on the importance of decisive leadership and communication of vision. In most of the stops in ministry in my life, I could not convey the vision of the leader I was to serve. Ministries have operated in survival mode and fear of failure for far to long. We no longer dream big enough (which would be evidence of one way communication during prayer), risk enough, or challenge our people. Chaos will find you either way. Play it safe, you will just have a different set of problems...but they are still problems.

In my time in his book, Scott has given me perspective. It's not about the problems, but how I navigate them. These stories of navigation will be the leadership lessons we pass on to the next generation and will be the core of our mentoring process. (Scott has a great section on storytelling) This was made vividly clear to me in a recent ministry event, when a student re-told one of my stories. During a service one night, I told a story about my 6 year old son and his soft heart for a hurting family. I listened, as any proud mentor would, as she told the story that happened in my family. I must admit, I re-tell stories that hear from my ministry mentors! (there is also a great chapter on finding a life coach in Scott's book)

Having known some of Scott's staff, I know the quality and excellence that has been produced in that team. I hope that my team will be as creative, insightful, and dedicated as I grow in leading them. I certainly know, I must stretch myself to improve to support my pastor and the team that I serve. The effectiveness of our church and ministries depend on it.

I would encourage you to get a copy of Scott Wilson's new book if you are involved ministry. It will give you some great perspective on the chaos that is life in ministry. You can find it here!

Also, I will be selecting a post from the comments on this blog and twitter/facebook to win a free copy of Scott's book. Help promote Scott's new book and share the word about and to win.  The winner will be selected March 27.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


It has been too long since my last published post. I say published post because I did write some things that I just didn't publish. Chalk it up to therapy...

Anyway, since my last post, a lot has happened on our planet. We have seen major damage from Haiti and Chile, watched our own country battle in partisan politics, crowned an unlikely Superbowl champion, and I had a friend and mentor make a major move in ministry. All of those events are on different levels, and bring about different emotions. But to those who were directly involved in the "NOW" of those events, they were life changing. They didn't happen because of a focus on their "now", but rather a focus on their future. Let me explain.

When David's sheep serenade was interrupted by a call from home to come and meet the prophet, he had no idea the implications that his trotting down that dusty animal path would bring. He arrived home to a family that was in disappointment (face it, they all wanted to be king, and dad wanted a rockstar on the throne, not the shepherd) and probably a bit of denial. As Samuel anointed David as the next King, David didn't jump right into leadership. He still had time left in the field and in service in the castle. Years would pass, threats placed on his life, and he would live in exile before living in the Palace. If David had focused on his "now", he would have failed in obedience far before Bathsheba. Instead, he focused on God's goal for him, His prize, His future. He worked diligently in his "now" slaying the occasional lion, bear, or giant, all the time knowing his tomorrow had a different outlook because God had already laid it out.

You know there must have been days of insecurity and question. Wondering if his mentor had just missed it a bit, and overshot his potential. There must have been days when he questioned the dream of his heart, the dream placed their by his Heavenly Father and not understood by his earthly father. Alone times. Exile. Discouragement. This is where the dream, the promise either flops or flourishes. I think the difference is our focus. Are we focused on our now, or on our our promise. On our tomorrow!

John the Baptist had this experience as well. In Matthew 11, he asks a heart wrenching question:
1.When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
2 eNow when John heard fin prison about the deeds of gthe Christ, he sent word by hhis disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you ithe one who is to come, or shall we jlook for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 kthe blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers1 are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and lthe poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who mis not offended by me.”

The man who jumped in Jesus presence...while still in the womb, was asking Jesus if "He was the One, or should we look for another?" This was family! The guy who saw the trinity reveal itself at the same time during his church service in the river. How did he get to that point?

John was in prison with death imminent. He was focussing on his "NOW" and Jesus refocuses him on the future. Jesus tells him about all the things that are happening that he cannot see because of his circumstances and emotion.

Where is your focus? Feel like you are just not where God promised? Quit focusing on your now, and grab hold of the vision and hope of tomorrow! God's already there.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Imitation Snuggie

So how is that Snuggie you got for Christmas working out for you? After all the complaining and begging not to get one of those blankets with holes in them, I wound up with one. If you follow on Facebook, you no doubt saw me get thrown under the bus for complaining about it as well. I promised a post, so here you go:

The facts: Snuggies were not cool before they became "in vogue" and trendy. They were a cash grab idea that targets women and makes for horrid commercials. I mean, really, have you seen the commercials. These people look like they belong at a Star Trek convention. Now there are the spin off Snuggies like the slanket or the nice, though slightly toxic smelling Dollar General version I received. Some kid in an Asian sweatshop is cutting holes in giant pieces of felt for crazed Americans.

I have been criticized for being ungrateful and crude. Some of you need a little less fiber in your diet. Truth is, my grandmother brought it for a gift exchange game we played at a family gathering. Her gift to me and my family was a beautiful quilt that she hand made, along with two for my boys that were distinctly personalized. We all sleep with them every night.

Now for more about the Snuggie issue. Here is my beef. You know that nice, hand made quilt I received from my grandmother, well, the Snuggie is a cheap imitation that requires no effort to make and shows no creativity. Some guy who cant hold down a job and has bad personal hygiene finally gets coaxed out of his "invention laboratory" to take a shower, and in his stupor, puts his robe on backwards and patents the idea. (ok, so that was totally fictionalized, but kind of how I see it going down.) Now this Rick Moranis wanna be is raking in millions selling off his imitation quilt. Now we have the second generation of generic Snuggies. Am I the only one that thinks this is ridiculous. And what about those "one size fits all" claims. I am 6' 3" with a 52" chest. One size does not fit all.

So why the rant? The Snuggie is the poster-child for society. We are always looking for a way to make cheap imitations of the real thing. We see it in our choices for food, clothing, transportation, and dieting. No one wants to put out any more effort that what is necessary for survival. Unfortunately, it has infiltrated the church as well. Few want an authentic faith, but are satisfied to take a cheap imitation, seldom expending any efforts or requiring any time or creativity to their faith. We don't want to discuss issues of sin or exclusivity of the Christian faith because we might offend the complacent. As much as may align myself with emergent leaders, I have not lost the foundations of my faith. A faith that is not simply pacified by the offering plate or attendance card, but a faith that can't be contained and must be lived out and shared continually. I have told our church, who is now 100 years old and has seen some incredible times, "When you tell me what this church used to be, you are telling me what you used to be. If it is not great today, then the people changed." Why settle for Snuggie faith when you can have so much more.

Revelation 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.