Wednesday, December 29, 2010

13 Years!!!!!!!

Today is a great day of reflection. 13 years ago about this time of the day I was eating Chinese food with my high school coach who was about to serve as my best man in a few hours. I had gotten to spend the night with one of my great friends, D.B., from college and reflect on some good times. D.B. actually set Christy and me up. I was home from college for the weekend and the phone conversation went something like this…

DB: Ty, you need to come back tonight.

Me: Why?

DB: Just because.

Me: Not a good enough reason, see you Sunday night.

DB: Just do it! It will be worth it, just trust me.

Me: Will you just tell me why already!?

DB: Just take a chance on Chancellor (Christy's maiden name).

Me: What is that supposed to mean?

DB: I was talking to her this last night for a long time and she wants to go out with you.

Me: Me??

DB: Yep. All you have to do is ask.

Me: No way man!

DB: Dude, if you don’t get your “rear” back over here I’m gonna Junior High Johnny your “rear” and ask her for you!!

Yep, that’s how it started. Could it have been any more high school?? And as you know now, I came back.

Then as the time of wedding grew closer, 13 years ago, I did some puking, because of nerves. It’s just something I do. Got that from my old Maysville HS track days. Our relay team just wasn’t ready to run until we had thrown-up our lunch then downed an entire bottle of Pepto together. That gets you ready for game time!

We would actually used intense peer pressure on each other if you hadn’t thrown up yet.

“Come on man, you know if you don’t do this you won’t have a good race. Get it out!!! There you go, now don’t you feel better? Now drink the rest of this bottle of Pepto that we have all drank out of so you can be part of the team. No, those are not Cheetoh floaties in the bottom of the bottle, JUST DRINK IT!!”

My wedding day was not any different. Nerves till I puked, full bottle of Pepto down, I’M READY! SEND HER DOWN THE AISLE!

Anyone who know Christy and I knows we have absolutely nothing in common interest wise. The cliché "opposites attract" could not be any truer. That’s what attracted me to her. Though our interests are very different what we do have in common is we love each other and like the different things about each other. So in 2002 I bought Christy a book called What I Love Most About You. It’s a book with page after page of I love that you [blank]…phrases and if that’s true you put a check mark next to it. I completed the book and then started my own list at the end that the book did not include. Since then I have slowly filled the book with Things I Love About Her from time to time. Today on my 13th wedding anniversary I thought I would share just a few in honor of my still rockin’ awesome wife.

I love your smile. One of the first things I noticed about you…then it was the faded back jeans and ECU Pom jacket. In that order I promise!

I love sharing popcorn with you at the movies. Even if we eat it all before the movie starts.

I love your sense of style. One of the first things that attracted me to you.

I love that you express outrage when someone is treated unfairly.

I love your sense of clothes. Evident by looking at the volume in your closet.

I love how you push me to do things I wouldn’t normally do. I need inspired and encouraged from time to time.

I love your sense of decorum. No way could I make our house look like that!

I love how you put people at ease. That’s why our phone rings at all hours day or night.

I love how you can never decide what shoes to wear. And how could you with so many choices.

I love how you sing along with the radio even when you don’t know the words. Or is it the artist doesn’t know their own words??

I love how you can always pick the perfect gift for a friend.

I love the value you put on family time.

I love your unshakable trust in God. You introduce me to “Just turn it over to Him.”

I also love (remember this list started in 2002)…
Never pass up a chance at Jo’s Pizza, love to talk about friends back at ECU, wetting a hook only if there is a shade tree close, driving around admiring people’s houses, watching you cook new things then laugh when they don’t come out just right, the expression on your face when You’ve Got Mail comes on TV even though you own the movie, how you always want to get rid of the dog but take it back when I offer to do so, sometimes your idea of a goodtime is just stopping by Sonic, you’ll lay awake at night wondering if you hurt someone’s feelings, wanting to get me new clothes when I don’t need them (at least I think I don’t - good shirts should last 8 or 9 years), watching Trading Spaces then thinking we could have done so much better, ticked off because Sonic dropped happy hour, riding around in the Scout and having it break down every time you’re in it, going to Chili's just for chips salsa and water, appreciation of a good pair of socks, how you nibble on baby Winston’s hands when he is sleeping, the love that showed in the tears in your eye’s before Winston went off to surgery, your intense attention to detail at holiday decorating and table settings, that you helped me understand God’s grace, you threw me a 30th surprise birthday party and knew exactly who to invite, the “I need you” look when you are sick, the fun you have with friends and never care who is watching, you willingness to forgive me when I mess up over and over and over, letting Wyatt fall asleep in Daddy’s “spot” when I’m up late working, that you didn’t think I was completely crazy when I felt God calling us to start a church in our home, how we’ve grown closer when the world seems against us, THAT YOU ARE STILL WITH ME AFTER 13 YEARS!

This was by no means the complete list I’ve compiled in this book, just a sample of few I wanted to share with you readers…there are hundreds of other reasons I love my wife and some of my favorites I don’t care to share with you…if you know what I mean ;)

One thing about love though is this. True love with your spouse is when you ask them, “Honey, why do you love me? Is it because of my looks? Is because of the money I don’t have? Is it because I treat you good? Is it because I’m nice? Is because I am colorblind and have no sense of style so you can dress me however you want? Is it because I’m an amazing kisser?”

True love is when they answer “No” to all those question and their answer is “I love you because I love you.”

Happy Anniversary babe!

1997 (Oh my gosh we were young!)

2010 (Dang! She still looks good!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The middle finger means what????

This week we had an interesting experience when some of our good friends, at our church Christmas party no less, let us know in a humorous manner, to them, that they appreciated Wyatt educating their daughter on the meaning of the middle finger!

“WHAT?!?!”, I gasped sucking down an combination of medium rare steak, broccoli salad, and salsa as it lodged in my throat and I saw my life passing before my eyes thinking, “This is it, I’ll never get to taste that quesadilla cheesecake over there.” (Yes, I like my steak medium rare! That’s how God intended for steak to be eaten! If he wanted it to be eaten well done he would given us cardboard as a food group!)

Once my food was dislodged, I caught my breath and thought, “Wyatt will never get to taste that quesadilla cheesecake over there.” I controlled my anger but I plotted my attack.

On the car ride home after having relished in my Dirty Santa reward of a phone jack, a 90’s model United Way cap, two Harlequin romance novels and some VCR tapes we started gathering all the information from Wyatt’s impromptu education session.

From Wyatt’s story this all took place around a 100 piece Ninja Turtle puzzle which was apparently an important fact in his defense, but I’m still not sure why. Anyway, he claimed that someone broke out the middle finger and, he being the one always looking out for everyone’s best interest, took it upon himself to let everyone working on the 100 piece Ninja Turtle puzzle know that that was not a nice finger to use, which apparently some did not know until he told them. BUT it was someone else that told them all just what it meant. That was his story and trust me, with some slight variations, he stuck to his guns.

We went home later and called his teacher, who’s a friend of ours, to get some facts from an adult. We do know that they were in fact working on a 100 piece Ninja Turtle puzzle – THAT IS NOT IN QUESTION. Who said what, did the informing, educating and degenerating is a little sketchy. But we additionally found out in conversation with Teacher that our baby boy had hurt a little girl’s feelings earlier in the week by calling her a name…UGH, THIS IS NICE TO KNOW!!!!

Christy and I prepared our case and went off to his bedroom to give our closing arguments. Christy gave one of the best gentle speechs, as only a mama can, about using language or gesture that aren’t appropriate and that we really don’t know they mean, how hurtful words can be to other people, how boys are to respect girls and treat them all like princesses, and a final little shot about focusing on school work.

But as I watched our little boy, the one that is going to keep us up at night for the next 20 years, listen to his mom I saw a different side of him…I saw it in his eyes. The longer she talked to him about his actions and their impact the heavier his bottom lids got. Our bullrider/Navy Seal/linebacker/power forward finally couldn’t hold them any longer and the tears rolled out over his cheeks. And for the first time in his young life he wasn’t crying because of his punishment, but crying because he was remorseful. He really saw where he misstepped and felt bad for hurting the people around him. And I’m glad when he felt this overwhelming remorse that the people that love him most on this earth were there to comfort him.

Made me think back to times in my life when God made it clear my actions were having a negative impact on a person or people and I remember my eyes filling with tears until the lids couldn’t hold them back any longer.

Wyatt is very good at throwing out “I’m sorry” in a heartbeat to avoid certain punishment. But remorse, is a totally different feeling than, “I’ve been caught and now the punishment hurts!”

Remorse is not a reaction to punishment; remorse is a reaction to understanding. It’s an important step in our repentance to and reconciliation from God.

And when it’s over, IT’S OVER!! Like Christy and I getting the point across to Wyatt then when the point was made, and he truly saw what he had done, there was remorse and we were there to hold him and let him know it was over. It’s done and we’ve learned, now go on with life because it’s these things that make us who we are.

That’s the God we serve!! We see what we’ve done, we’re remorseful, we’re repentant, we are hurt that we hurt Him and others and then our Father lifts us up on his heavenly knee as only he can and says…“It’s done and I’ve already forgotten about it.”

That’s the God that loved us so much that he sent His son, down from heaven, in the form of a human baby, to this earth, to walk with us, and live with us, and die for us so we would no longer have to carry the guilt of sin we’ve repented and remorsed over and my goodness if we remember anything during this time of year lets remember that!! What a gift!!

Micah 7:18-20 (The Message)
Where is the god who can compare with you—wiping the slate clean of guilt, turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don't nurse your anger and don't stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That's what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You'll stamp out our wrongdoing.You'll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean...

Have a Merry Christmas (a.k.a Jesus Birthday) family, friends and readers. Don’t worry about Wyatt, he’s okay, and yes, I did eat the last piece of leftover quesadilla cheesecake…with no remorse!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor and Pecans

A couple weeks ago I took my boys over to spend some time with my grandpa. We didn’t have to look long for some excitement because he already had the day planned. He wanted to take the boys out to watch his friend harvest pecans. His intent was to educate them on the entire process. This of course was after he stuffed us with a variety of his canned creations and a few that weren’t his from people I didn’t even know. But regardless, we tasted them all…even Winston reluctantly took a spoonful of sorghum to put a smile on his face.

Then we we’re off to an area known as Perkin’s Corner. Much to my satisfaction he suggested I drive, though I knew he would critique me over the next 15 miles it was well worth the trade for the getting to go the actual speed limit and just for safety in general. Though I wasn’t sure we could be injured in an accident at his 15mph pace I was reassured of the decision to drive after he showed me, in a boastful laugh, his tracks from the week before where he skidded through his turn off and down into ditch when he, “had one on his tail” after topping the hill.

I think anyone will agree that one of the unique things about my grandpa is the stories! Or maybe it’s the stunts he pulls to create the stories? Either way it comes out to be a good story. If I would have been taking notes that day I’m pretty sure he made a decent good story about a trip he took to the grocery store a few days before.

What I know for sure is there was a place along the way that his voice changed a little bit and he got a little more serious. It was when we crossed the river bridge and he pointed off to the south and he said, “See that hill over yonder where that barn is? About a half miles south of there was a house where I was born. We moved later but my uncle lived on this place. We were over here with a bunch other family in December 1941. I could walk you over there right now and put you within 10 feet of the spot where some of us youngins were playing in a little gulley when it came over the radio that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. By the time the news got around to us it was about 3 or 4 o’clock. Yep, that’s exactly where I was December the seventh, nineteen and forty one.” Then there was a noticably long pause.

A pause to see the faces of friend lost to the war that erupted next?

A pause thinking of the family he was playing with in that gully that have gone on before him?

A pause just to relive the days of his youth for a moment?

I’ll never know what the long pause was for, but it was significant, because if my grandpa is awake there are no pauses.

In my short life I’d like to think I’ve had those times I’ll share with my grandkids and great grandkids someday.

The place I was standing in “E” section of the Pesagi Dorms at ECU when the Murrah Federal Building in OKC was bombed, but the first reports thought a gas line had ruptured.

The office I occupied at Groendyke Transport in Enid, OK when Christy called me 8 days before our first son Winston was born to let me know the World Trade Center had a plane crash into it.

And vouching for my cousin Jarrod, we could show you the spot of ground on the old abandoned railroad tracks within 10 feet where we were standing the night grandpa had a great idea. Went something like this:

[Persuasive Grandpa] I’m going to put that raccoon we’ve trapped, you see, the slobbering snarling one that’s looking for a chance to chew one of you boys’ extremities off, yeah that one. I’m going to put him in this snare I made out of PVC and baling wire (similar to one of those things you see dog catchers use). Once I’ve got hold of him you two are gonna use your hands to free him of that trap and I’m gonna to put him in that undersized cage that you two boys are going to hold the even more undersized door open on. Got it?

[Loyal grandsons]…….

[Ticked off Coon] Snarling, hiss, spit, snort, growl….

[Persuasive Grandpa] Got it?

[Loyal grandsons] Is there a reason we can’t be on the safe end of the fancy snare you’ve made?

[Persuasive Grandpa] Huh, much to complicated for you two to operate! You ready?

[Ticked off Coon] Snarling, hiss, spit, snort, growl….

[Loyal grandsons] …..…

[Persuasive Grandpa] Good! Here we go!!!!

To finish this story simply and to uphold the integrity of all those involved I will say the snare worked, the cage was too small, the coon got meaner as was expected, but Jarrod and I were brave to the end despite what Grandpa may say! It was very hard to determine just where that coon was going to go each time Grandpa lunged it in the general direction of the cage. Our flashlights in his eyes and screaming should have had no bearing on the aim of such a gifted snare operator! Brave to end I’ll say! Brave to the end.

Someday I hope my boys will remember so vividly the day they laughed at their great grandpa showing his skid marks that trailed off into the ditch.

I hope they remember the day their 80 year old great grandpa outran them to the truck so we could race from tree to tree because he desperately wanted to educate them about every step of a pecan harvest.

And most of all I want my boys to someday recall the day their great grandpa showed them the area of his birth site, told them the Pearl Harbor story, remember the pause and image just what was in it.

Check out this beast!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Talk to me!

Thought I'd throw out some scripture that has been speaking to me. Enjoy, and I pray that God's word will speak in your life as well. Remember, that to hear Him speak you have to be in his word.

Psalms 9:1(ESV)
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

Ephesians 3:20-21(CEV)
I pray that Christ Jesus and the church will forever bring praise to God. His power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. Amen.

Matthew 10:32-29 (NLT)
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven."

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.
‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."

Colossians 3:5-14 (NIV)
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Acts 4:32-34 (NIV)
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.

This final passage make me think of my church family at the Fellowship of Believers (The FOB). I feel for you what Paul, Silas and Timothy felt when they wrote these words to one of the churches they helped start. I believe it speaks for itself.

1 Thessalonians 2-5 (Message)

Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you're in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A dozen glazed with the bbq sauce on the side please.

A while back I wrote about few of the sentimental reasons I like Ada especially in the fall. I love Ada in the fall! But then last week I was struck by a few other reasons I love this town!

Where else can I get BBQ and Donuts at the same drive-thru?

Where else can I get a flat fixed, go bowling and if the time is right hear a live band all under the same roof?

Where else can I get my boots resoled and hit a bucket of golf balls?

I love this town – some may call these combinations odd, but I call it efficiency!

Otherwise I would have to make two stops in the mornings, one for the donuts holes my kids like for breakfast and another stop for the ribs I like for breakfast.

Otherwise I would have had to drop off my truck to have the flat fixed then walked to the bowling alley, but cut my game short so I could hoof it across town to hear some live music before having to go back and pay for my tire.

Otherwise I would have had to…oh man, I got nothing for a driving range boot shop other than I love that place!

Now you think I’m poking fun, but I’m serious. I love and have patroned all of these places. I love the spirit and ingenuity of the American business person. I love the ability of Americans to diversify and overcome and given the right combination Americans will flock to it because we are a society waiting the next big thing!

This is great! This is America! I love it!

That is until we drag our consumer mindedness into our churches. Then we don’t know when to stop because we don’t know when enough is enough.

Churches should be more than a cafeteria where you pick and chose and take what you want. The church was meant to be a cafeteria but it was also meant to be a hospital, a school and a home. Sometimes literally, but I’m talking figuratively. Cafeteria to be spiritually fed, a hospital to receive spiritual healing, a school to hear God speak and learn from it, and home to feel like you’re among family while you are there.

But how can this happen?

I'll tell you how it can't. It CANNOT happen solely from a catchy message/sermon or good song!! And it can’t happen if all of us show up wanting something week in and week out. And it can’t happen if we think church is just two days out of the week.
And it can't happen without you!

All these places in Ada I mentioned before that I love are all places we are taking something from. And that’s very different from how church SHOULD BE. But in reality, American church is very much made up of people only there for something and I'm not talking about money.

At church we should be giving.
Giving our praises.
Giving our time.
Giving our teaching.
Giving our listening ear.
Giving our shoulder.
Giving our prayers.

Don’t believe me? Here's what the very first church ever did it and it EXPLODED from a handful to thousands in days. (A summary of scripture from the book of Acts chapters 2 & 4…)

Devoted themselves teaching
Devoted themselves to fellowship
Devoted to sharing meals together with great joy
Devoted themselves to prayer
No needy among them because they gave to those in need…even if it meant selling their own possessions
Worshiped together
United in heart and mind
Testified powerfully to the resurrection of Jesus
Enjoyed the goodwill of all people
All while praising God
…and God’s great blessing was upon them all!

WOW! It’s so simple its mind blowing!

Someone right now is saying, “Well what about someone who has never gone to church or the dechurched that show up looking for help? Don’t they need something? They can’t just show up on day one and start giving?”

Yes, this is the place for them and no, they can’t be expected to give on day one and that’s awesome! Because if we have recreated an environment like the first church did then they will come into our cafeteria/hospital/school/home desperately in need and they will meet Jesus through us and they will leave transformed. And at the very least they will show up on day two giving praises to a merciful God that put them in contact with such a loving and generous group of people that they will quickly call family.

And at our VERY least that is exactly what we can give; our praise to God! Our praises for a life filled with blessing and opportunities and stuff that we don’t deserve. He is worthy of praise!!
Psalm 96
1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

The formula here is not, give with the intention of getting!

The formula is giving out of response to an overwhelming love for Jesus because he gave the ultimate for us and even though we abuse him everyday he still loves us. Give for that reason and the natural byproduct of giving of love is you will get…God’s great blessing was upon them all (Acts 4:33b).

If you want something more from your church, start with giving!

If you want to revolutionize your church, start with giving!

I don’t have to venture to guess, I KNOW that the church across America would EXPLODE instantly if we would show up this week and every week asking a single question…

What can I give?

“God, I praise you because You are You and you still love me; what else can I give so people will meet your son?”

“Pastor, what can I give to help fulfill the vision that God has laid on your heart for this church?”

“Elder, deacon or board, what can I give to help you make things happen at this church?”

“Children’s minister who is overwhelmed, what can I give to help create an environment that kids will love to come to?”

“Friend who I know is hurting, what can I give to ease your pain?”

“Person I’ve just seen for the first time, what can I give to help you feel comfortable in this place?”

This so easy! JESUS ALWAYS GAVE!

In case you missed that, He is the reason for church, He invented church, He referred to the church as his bride, that's a big stinkin’ deal and JESUS ALWAYS GAVE!!


What can I give to my church starting this week?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Howdy pardner!

The name of my friend has been changed not to protect the innocent, but rather the guilty. I’m pretty sure, well, actually positive he would love to indulge in this story, but in all fairness today I will change his name to…Keith. Since this is my blog though there’s really no way to tell this story without admitting my guilt as well so, yes, I was present and a participant in the events you about to read.

It was 1993 and my friend Keith and I were out one night doing some “backroading” and looking to get into a little mischief. (Backroading was an official weekend pastime where I grew up. It was to be done at night and on dirt roads, otherwise it was not backroading) Now, notice I said mischief; we weren’t necessarily looking to get into trouble, just a little mischief. So, for entertainment we decided to head out to our local city lake and see if we could catch some of our buddies “parking”. (Parking was not trying to find a place to park like you were at Wal-Mart or something; parking was going into the country and finding a semi-secluded place to slap on some Def Leppard and make-out with your girlfriend.)

Now the fun came when you actually found one of your buddies who was parking and pulled up behind them and shined your headlights into their back window, and continue to do this and laugh to the point you almost feel sorry for your friend who’s desperately hoping this is not his girlfriends Dad! Then when you feel like they are to tears, due to either anger or fear, you sling some gravel and drive off laughing you hard enough to wet your pants.

Well on this particular night as we eased into the city lake parking area, low and behold, there were no “parkers” but there were some “drinkers” and they were from Wayne, 5 of them as I recall. (Maysville students and Wayne students did not like each other and weren’t supposed to like each other, especially if you played football) How did we know they were from Wayne? Because one of these guys, who I can see to this day, was a mountain of a man! He was not a boy, he had to have been a 3 or 4 year senior. He was big, tall, red head and sported a full beard…you see a guy like this once in a football uniform on the opposing team and you never forget him. We knew they were from Wayne!

There they are taking it easy on the tailgate of their truck as Keith, who is driving, pulls up next to them.

He rolls his wind down, hangs his arm out, let’s out a friendly and inviting, “How ya’ll doin’?” Just enough to draw them in a little closer to see who this is, as he looks at me with his infamous grin I’d seen before that without a spoken word says, “Watch this.”

Then all in one motion he hammers it into the wickedest donut I’ve ever been apart of! Just before the dirt engulfed us to the point we couldn’t see, and somewhere about the time I heard the rocks hitting their truck, I saw the Wayne Giant’s jaw drop and eye’s bug out! I still don’t how Keith knew which way was out, because literally it was what reliving the Dust Bowl must have been like, but he found the way out all while I was doubled over belly laughing in the front seat as we made our get away!

When I finally regained control of myself, I looked behind to see a tiny set of headlights, WAY BACK THERE! Then a series of event happens that I still can’t explain. Someone driving about 25 mph pulls out in front of us. Not that big of a deal, except out no where and in the middle of no where and in the middle of the night, there is oncoming traffic. We can’t get around and the headlights behind us are getting closer and closer.

By the time the road cleared the Wayne Giant and his minions were on us and they didn’t find our prank near as funny as we did.

They went around us, asked in a not so nice way for us to pull over, which for self-preservation reasons we declined to do, and then they took off ahead of us.

Ha, they are going on, we think! Nope, wrong again! They are completely blocking the road in front of us and getting out. So we stop in the center of road with nowhere to go other than back, which I had just found out was not a good idea either because Keith wasn’t sure we had enough gas to even get back to town, much less back.

There we were blocked, surrounded if you will; enemy in front, bar ditches on both sides and not enough gas to go back.

Keith looks at me and I can recollect this conversation like it was yesterday.

Keith: “Brown, I’m getting out.”
Me: “WHAT?”
Keith: “Yep, I think I can talk them out of this.”
Me: “Talk them out of it! Have you forgotten you just cut the world’s largest donut these guys?? Which was AWESOME, by the way. That’s why they are blocking the road, not because they want to have a Maysville-Wayne peace talk!”
Keith: “No Brown, I really think I can talk them out of this.”
Me: “You know Keith, I don’t think I can whip you but I will try if you attempt to get out of this truck to “talk”.
Keith: “Then what do you suggest I do?”
Me: “Head at them fast and hard, then hit the ditch and go around them.”

And that is just what we did. I’m not sure if their eyes were bigger when we hit them with the donut or when they weren’t sure if we were going to t-bone them as we flew into the ditch at the last second uprooting a nice patch of sunflowers and partial alfalfa patch and we were off to town, hoping we had enough gas to get there.

So why did I decide to tell you this story?

Because I read a passage in 2 Kings 6:13-15 (NLT) that made me think of this. It’s about Elisha a prophet of God who had upset a king who opposed God’s people. It goes like this…

Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”

And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

Have you ever this way, surround by the enemy?

That’s how I felt this night with Keith and had he not had me there by his side for some wise council he would have done something that would have messed up his world. Actually if we would not have been together in the first place we probably wouldn’t have done what we did, BUT that irrelevant right now. So had I not been there, Keith would have gotten out of the truck, surround by the enemy and gotten pummeled!!

Many times in life we feel like our enemy, Satan, has surrounded us and tempts to step out of the Godly path we are following. And if we are alone or we feel alone it so much easier for him to get to us and once he has lured us away he will pummel us with affairs, shady business practices, overspending, anger, time away from family, addiction and on and on.

So how do we defeat this before it happens?

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 (NLT)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble…A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

What I’m talking about today is an accountability partner.

All the greats have had one.

Lone Ranger had Tonto

Batman had Robin

Marshall Dillon had Festus

Moses had Aaron.

David had Jonathan

Jesus had the twelve apostles…even more specifically John…who he called “the one that I love.”

So what is an accountability partner??

I’m starting to see how this is vital to our walk through life and our walk with Him. And if Jesus had someone he shared his life with then why shouldn’t we? I know Jesus didn’t need someone to hold him accountable but he did have someone to share life with.

Let me start be saying what an accountability partner is not.

· Someone to sit around and talk about the game with
· Someone to complain to about what your spouse is or isn’t doing for you
· Someone to share the latest and greatest gossip around town with
· Someone to get you out of the house and away from the family with for an hour a week
· Someone of the opposite sex - NEVER EVER
· And finally it is not your spouse – I’ll explain later

I just recently sought out my accountability partner and in doing the research it inspired this post and a recent message I gave at our church. Because more I’ve gotten into ministry and really farther along in my walk with God the more I feel the forces of Satan surrounding me like Elisha. This is just a byproduct of a deeper walk with the Lord. The devil hates this and will do anything to stop it! As Denver said in the book Same Kind of Different as Me, “When you is special to God you is important to the devil.”

And you know what? I’m a little embarrassed to say that I didn’t do this sooner!! It took the weight of ministry to see that I need another brother in Christ to share with. The words in Ecclesiastes should have been a reality to me so much sooner!

Two is better than one…
If they fall they can help each other up…

And that’s what an accountability partner is.

· Someone to share with
· Someone to else to go through life with
· Someone else to learn from
· Someone to hold you accountable (This is why earlier I said not your spouse b/c this person will be holding you accountable to your spouse and ensuring you are being upright in your family and marraige)
· Someone to pray with you and for you

Hear this today…One of the greatest lies of the devil is that you can do life alone. He will convince you that you can do it without Jesus and without the support of good Christian friends!

You know what you will find if you really get into this?

If you really decide to do this?

You will find out that you are not alone, in fact not only do you have someone to tell this to, but you will find out that they share the same things that you are going through and were just as afraid as you to share it with anyone.

Two is better than one…
If they fall down they can help each other up…

So what kind of person are you looking for?

o Someone you can trust
o Someone you can be comfortable with
o Someone who is STRONG enough to be honest with you – it is useless if the person you choose will not be honest with you – ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER MEANS SOMEONE THAT WILL HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE
o They will be real with you when you’ve stepped over the line
o Someone who can give you grounded Godly advise
o Someone you know you can call at midnight and it will be okay
o This may or may not be someone you are buddies with right now, this may be someone you admire that you know you trust and feel comfortable talking too.

Two is better than one…
If they fall down they can help each other up…

So as I started to research the “How’s” of this relationship I found out the accountability guidelines are pretty simple and make sense.

I even consulted one of the pastors I follow and all the answers and stuff I read was about the same.

Honesty and Consistency

o Honesty – pretty evident right – no use in wasting anyone’s energy if we’re not going to be honest
Here’s what you can start by talking about
o What are praying about for yourself
o What are we struggling with
o What are you spending the majority of time doing
o What are you reading in your bible or what are you wanting to start – START TOGETHER
o Here’s a good link to consider for questions you might ask each other. Questions
o Consistency
o You need to talk weekly – if something is going on in your life it can spiral out of control in two weeks! Thus why your person needs to be someone you can call at midnight!

Honesty and consistency!!

Two is better than one…
If they fall down they can help each other up…

Don’t believe the devil’s lie that you can do this alone!

Find a strong trustworthy partner!

Start praying together, being honest with each other and meeting together weekly!

Give it one month and I PROMISE you will see a change in your life and you will start to feel what the writer of Proverbs felt when he wrote in Proverbs 27:9 (NLT)

The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm gonna get you sucka!

Disclaimer: I was raised in the country. My heart and my roots still go back to my country upbringing. If you are with PETA or any other animal rights group; if you refer to hunters as “Bambi Killers” or you just don’t think hunting is “right” then you need not read any further because you will most likely be disgusted, appalled and possibly insulted.

When my cousin Jarrod and I were young we had this thing against possums, not opossums - they only have those up north, I'm talking about possums. For the most part they were pesky! They really weren’t bad but they really weren’t good either – they were just always in the way when we were trapping raccoons (coons).

Okay let’s get this out of the way. Yes, we trapped coons! Possibly the highlight of our year as kids, very close to Christmas. It was fun then and I would still think it was fun today if Grandpa wanted to give it another go! This could easily evolve into a whole series of posts so I’m going to attempt to keep is short.

Every summer when it was about time to pick our Grandpa’s sweet corn (and I’m not about a couple rows, I’m talking a couple acres) we’d trap coons.

Why would we trap those cutesy cuddly wuddly little raccoons you ask? Because if left unsupervised coons will DESTROY, no other word for it, a patch of sweet corn. And something we learned very early was if there was ever an animal I believe to be schizophrenic it’s a coon! Oh yah, they look all innocent and adorable on Marty Stopher’s Wild America, BUT I’m here to tell you that pound for pound they are the meanest animal on the face of the earth bar none!

Again, Jarrod and I have stories; OH do we have stories, but this is blog and not a book. If you throw a biscuit in a room with a three day starved coon and a pit bull my money is on that coon coming away with that biscuit EVERY STINKING TIME! Sorry had to get that last shot in; I think you get the point.

So, in the course of coon trapping the odds were much greater that we would trap a possum rather than a coon. I don’t know why, maybe they got an earlier start, maybe they were dumber, maybe they were smarter, maybe we didn't know what the heck we were doing (double that) but inevitably we would catch about ten possums to every one coon. And it would just tick us off, but possums had to be “taken care of” as well because they could damage the crop too, though not as bad, and if we let them go they would just keep getting back in our traps over and over and over so…it was “dirt nap” for them really without a second thought.

Fast forward to this week…

We come rolling into our driveway here in Ada and look up to see, YES, a possum eating our cat’s food. Something else I never understood about possums is they are never in a real hurry to get away if they even try at all. They just waddle around, act real mean, hiss a lot and look really ugly.

I throw the car in park and instantly, I had flashbacks to being a kid again, listening to Jerry Clower records, Uncle Buddy telling some outlandish story about hook men and hungry panthers to keep us scared all night and checking coon traps!

I’m thinking…

“Dude (possum) you’re toast!”

“I’ve hated your kind since I was a kid.”

“I hate you to this day.”

“You picked the wrong bowl of cat food today bro!”

So I jumped out of the car, which my beautiful wife quickly locked me out of by the way, I walked straight up to the possum; looked him in his hideous face; looked at the shovel that was propped up against the wall AND I………scooped him up and harmlessly pitched him over the fence.

I got back in the car and Christy knowing me better than anyone said, “I figured you were going to smack him in the head with that shovel. Why did you just throw him over the fence?”
Somewhat confused myself, my only reply was, “I don’t know. I’ve become more merciful in my old age.”

What I really meant to say was, “I’ve grown more merciful and forgiving the closer I have grown to the One who forgives me.”

Did the nasty love child of a raccoon and skunk deserve to die? Heck yah!

Was the filthy retch doing me dirty? Heck yah!

Everything about me would normally say, “smack that sucka’ in the head, the arrogant fool is eating it right in front of you no less, HE DESERVES IT!!”

But the more I go through life and realize how jacked up I am and how I mess up every single day and how He still forgives me even when I don’t deserve it – the more I feel compelled to hand out mercy and forgiveness…sometimes even to my old nemeses, the possum.

The more I go through life more I have an overwhelming with gratitude for Romans 5:8 (NLT) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

It did not say, God sent his son to die for us because we deserved it.

It did not say, God sent his son to die to show the greatest act of forgiveness and mercy the world has ever seen because we were good people.

It says, God sent his son to die WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS!

I used to be the world’s worst at holding grudges. If Guinness had a world record for it I’m positive I would have been in the book with a picture of me and my Beaver Cleaver plastered comb over hairdo holding a list as long as my arm. When I met my wife about 14 or 15 years ago I seriously had a “list” of those who I was not only not going to forgive but I was actually going to get even with sometime before I died. This is no lie!

But the more God and I walked together the more he helped me realize, “Man, I am still a sinner! I use and abuse God every day and every day he forgives still forgives me! That's the best deal going! Not only forgives me but throws my mess ups in the Sea of Forgetfulness. So who am I to decide who gets forgiven in my life?”

I read this one time and it was probably the most real this topic has ever become for me, “When we refuse to forgive, what we are saying is; God, I don’t trust you to do your job and I can it better.” If you could use OUCH and WOW in the same sentence I did!

I finally trashed my list and oh what a relief! Like an Alka-Seltzer after a good bowl of crawfish étouffée. Like a weight removed from around my neck. It’s liberating!!

Then I started to feel the gratitude the Psalmist felt in Psalms 130:3-5 (The Msg) when he said…
If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,
who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
and that's why you're worshiped.

Who do you need to scoop up with the shovel and pitch over the Fence of Forgetfulness? Who’s the possum in your life? They have a name. It’s time to tear up the list.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Choose Freedom!

Ask my beautiful wife and she will tell you where my favorite place is in the fall. It’s Ada!!

Every year, when student come back to college and dorm parking lots are full and I can no longer roll through the stop sign where they cross going to class for fear of making a hood ornament out of bewildered freshman, when I can hear the Friday night bands warming up for the home football games, when there’s just enough nip in the morning air that I have to wear a jacket knowing I'll have to shed it by noon because only in Oklahoma can you scrape frost in the mornings and be in a royal blue mesh half shirt by noon, it excites me! I love Ada in the fall!

I've had a connection here since college. It’s where I graduated college, made lifelong friends and really grew into adulthood; it’s where I became the Jim Kelly of ECU intramural flag football (1 semifinal appearance and 3 championship appearances and never brought home the title). I love Ada in the fall!

It was here in the fall at college where I met this awesome girl I NEVER EVER thought I had a chance with. I remember the first day I saw her at the Pesagi Dorm lounge in an ECU Pom jacket and jeans faded down the back. NEVER WOULD I HAVE A CHANCE WITH THAT GIRL! Turns out she married me! That blows my mind every day!!

My favorite place to be in the fall is Ada!

And this morning as I pulled out of my drive at home I was reminded of this and so much more. You see where we live now, I believe, has one of the best views in Ada and in the fall the sun is at just right angle and I get this view every morning on my way to work (if I don’t oversleep).

This beautiful view reminded me that at this time two years ago we had just moved into this house and I was struggling with overcoming some feelings of guilt in my life when one of my closest and dearest friend gave one of the greatest pieces of advise on this subject I’ve ever read. I think as Christ followers we all need to hear these words from time to time. Below is a summary of his email to me. Enjoy.

Recently, God gave me some insight on this issue. A few weeks ago, he impressed upon my heart to read through the Bible. Well, when I got to Exodus God really opened my eyes to how the Israelites were like me (and the rest of us). Here was a group of people who had just witnessed first hand incredible miracles (the plagues, the Red Sea parting, manna/quail, the cloud and the fire) yet they still grumbled and at one point after all they had observed they told Moses they wanted to go back to captivity and live again as slaves. Can you even imagine?!?

Although that seems crazy to us, we do the exact same thing ALL OF THE TIME! When we worry about things we don't have control over, when it seems impossible to break free from habitual sin, when we doubt God's love for us, when we feel overcome with guilt, etc., etc. we are CHOOSING captivity over freedom. My theme for the last few weeks has been: I'm not going back to captivity; I'm going to choose freedom.

Does God use feelings of guilt to convict us and expose sin? Absolutely.

But he also wants the best for us and he wants to bless us so that we can praise him and thank him and so our lives can be a testament to his goodness and grace.

I think what we have to settle in our own mind is whether our guilt is from our flesh, that part of our flesh feels naturally drawn back to captivity


whether our guilt may be the Holy Spirit convicting us over something in our life that needs to change.

If it's your flesh, get over it and choose freedom.

If it's conviction guilt, then make the changes God wants you to make, forgive yourself, and then move on.

This is something we have to get over if we are living in Christ. This is something the church has to STOP using as a submission tool!

"Why" you ask? Because a friend of ours named Jesus died for us and when he did, guilt died at the foot of the cross as well!! We are forgiven! I CHOOSE FREEDOM!!

Thank M! Don’t know what I would do without you brother!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday!!

Wow! What an awesome day we had last Sunday. To get to have my son Winston’s 9th birthday and our church, Fellowship of Believers (The FOB), celebrating our 1st birthday at the same time was extra special!!

Never doubted Winston would make it to 9, except for a brief moment after the ice storm when he sledded about 150 yards down the hill across the road jumped the curb and into a neighbors shrubs, other than that I never doubted…it was sweet though!! But I have to admit I wondered if The FOB would make it to 1. On several occasions over the last year I’ve said, “God, you picked the wrong guy for this job!” or “God are you sure this is what you want us to be doing?”

Along the way I have kept in my mind Acts 5:38-39 “…If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God.”

And after a year, you know what? WE HAVE NOT FAILED!! As a matter a fact we have strived, NOT because of attendance numbers but because lives have changed in the church and the lives we touch outside our church have changed as well.

The people at the FOB are not in the minority because they are meeting in a home. They are in the minority because they are committed! Lots of people attend church but far less are committed to the mission and actually live it out.

For a while I saw the house church as an attractant to the dechurched, then I slowly conformed to a view of seeing the house as weight holding us back. Like a log chain around the neck of an over energized bird dog. (Some of you will get that, many won’t. Ask me later and I will explain.) I felt like, “now that we’ve reached this point, if we could just get out of this house we could do_____” or “we could be reaching ______ if we were in a building” or “we could attract____ if we weren’t still in this house”. I started to lose sight of the impact the group was having on lives and I’m ashamed.

Then it hit me one night when I heard a guy describing to someone who our church was. The reason it hit me was because he didn’t describe us by our building address or even our name, NO, he described us by the work this small committed group of followers has been performing and it blew me away.

And at that moment again I said, “God are you sure you picked the right guy?? Seriously God, it took me this long to figure out, when you want us in a building you will put us in one! Look what we are known for CHRISTIANS BEING CHRISTIANS, THE CHURCH BEING THE CHURCH, NOT THE SIGN IN THE YARD!” That is AWESOME!

Right now, we, not just at the FOB but the entire Church body “we”, needs to renew our focus on the Greatest Command…

Matthew 22:36-39 Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

it completely changes lives and see that as way to open the door to The Great Commission…

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I’m so blessed to say I get to pastor Fellowship of Believer, I love my church and I hope all you readers love yours!! But most of all I love the Church, and that guy Jesus who loves it more than I do, died for it and still thinks it is important today!

When people go to church something supernatural happens and lives get changed.

When the church acts like the Church something supernatural happens and lives get changed.

Because people meet Jesus!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feeling blue or something more?

This will be rather long post this time. Quite possibly the longest post I’ve ever had. This was my Sunday morning message to the church and I was asked to post it on my blog. So in order to make it “bloggie” rather than “sermonie” I’ve tried to shorten it up and paraphrase as much as possible w/o losing the meat of the message.

I hope you will find something useful for your life.

Depression is something I promise every one of has suffered from.

There are mild cases that maybe affect us for a few days, to severe cases that affect us for month or years and totally devastate our lives and the lives of those around us.

Depression effects so many of us and for some reason we think that to be depressed or admit we are depressed means we are crazy.

That is not true!

Lets hit on a few reasons we get depressed and how to get out of it and we’ll use the Bible character Elijah to do so.

First let me throw out this disclaimer again. This is a paraphrase of the Elijah story in case you’ve never heard of him so you’ll be up to speed for the message later. I do not need anyone to let me know each and every detail I’ve left out, hence the paraphrase. If you want the entire story of Elijah detail for detail, and it’s very good by the way, start reading it for yourself in 1 Kings 17.

Elijah is a prophet from God sent with a message for the evil King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel who are worshipping the god Baal and have allowed it to spread through much of the Israelite nation.

Elijah’s message is, “I serve the Lord of Israel and there will be no rain until I say there will be rain.”

Then God gives him direction to a place of hiding where he provides him with meat and bread brought to him by a raven daily and brook for water.

Then one day the brook dries up. So God guides him to a nearby town and to a widow woman who is to provide him with food.

He finds the woman but she says there’s not enough flour and oil for bread.

Elijah says, “Mama, if you will go home and start cooking, the flour will not run out and oil will not dry up until this drought is over.”

Through God Elijah was given the power to supply the widow with endless flour and oil.

Then the woman’s son dies.

And through God Elijah is given the power to raise him from the dead.

Then God calls Elijah out of hiding and says its showdown time.

Go back to King Ahab have him bring out all the 450 Baal prophets.

The one who worships the real God should have no problem being able to pray and have fire consume their altar.

For a day the Baal prophets pray and pray for fire but nothing.

Thought it was quite funny that the scripture said Elijah taunted them along the way.

Finally Elijah says enough of this, he prays to the real God, our God, and fire not only consumes his altar but everyone else’s as well.

Then he commences to have the 450 Baal prophets seized and he kills them all with his sword!

Wow! That should be a movie!

Look at the how many times God provides and is in control of Elijah’s life. Over and over and over, IT’S AMAZING!

That brings us to today.

So where does depression come in with Elijah?

Why would he get depressed? This guys is a Old Testament rock star!

After all these amazing victories and all the times God held him in his hand; he lets fear creep in.

Jezebel hears about him killing all the prophets and tells him he’s as good as dead too!

So what does Elijah do?

1 Kings 19:3-5 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

One threat from Jezebel and all of a sudden he’s afraid, on the run, praying that his life will end just before he curls up and goes to sleep.

Does this sound like a bout of depression or what?

Absolutely! I believe any counselor will agree.

But how did Elijah get this way?

-He ran himself ragged.

He runs and runs and runs. Then sends his servant away and runs some more. Basically as far as he could go until he physically dropped.

Do you ever feel like this?

60 hour work week, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, soccer, t-ball, Cub Scouts, honey-do’s, friends, dance, gymnastics, homework (have you seen how much 1st and 3rd graders bring home UGH?), karate, office party, football, the lawn, laundry, cleaning dishes, take out the trash and don’t forget to pick up some dog food!!!

Think about all these things for a minute and I’m sure you can even add to it! NO WONDER we become worn out and sink into depression.

- The other thing Elijah did was separate himself from people.

Elijah ran a long ways then bails on his friend, his servant, then goes on alone.

I had a councilor tell me one time that depression is like slowly wading into a pool of water and basically you submerge yourself one small steps at a time.

One of those steps is when we start fabricating flaws about friends and convincing ourselves we don’t need or want to be around them. Then we stop doing things with the people who make us feel the best. And each time we do we take one step deeper into the waters of depression.

-Then Elijah falls into one of the easiest traps there is, he became the eternal pessimist.

He said I’ve had enough. “I’m no better than my ancestors.”

Elijah goes from the Braveheart to Eeyor in a split second!

We are so guilty of this today aren’t we?

“I can never do anything right.”
“I’ll never get ahead.”
“I’ll never get the promotion.”
“I’ll never make the grade in school.”
“I’ll never be able to wear that again.”
“I’ll never kick this habit on my own.”
“I’ll never be as good as them.”
“I work so hard but will never have what they have.”

-And the final thing Elijah did to get into the pit of depression was, he forgot about the guy who got him this far…God!

Look how God was with him when the king was out to kill him, God gave him a place to go, when he was hungry God gave him food, when there was drought God water, when it’s time to move he meets a woman with little food so God give him ability to make more, when someone dies he brings him back to life, when he’s face to face with hundreds of idol worshipers (like Dan Akroyd in the 80's movie Dragnet) he brings the fire down.

God came through!! God answered!! God never left him!!

But then in a moment he gets a little scared and he forgets God.

Then he curls up, pulls the covers over his head and shuts out the world.

Okay, so now you know how we get in, but how in the heck to we get out??

Verses 5-8

Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

Eat and rest. Almost seems to simple doesn’t it?

Do you think there was a reason God told us he rested after he created this place?

Do you think there was a reason God told us to honor him with a day of rest in the 10 commandments?

These weren’t just examples and commands to see if we would do them. God made us! He knows that for mental and physical well being we need to REST!!

We don’t do this though. We feel like we’ll never catch up if we rest…the laundry won’t get done, the yard work won’t get done, I need extra money from my second job, I’ll never catch up on my paperwork if I don’t take it home….

Tell me what is the benefit or who do these things matter if they drive us into a state of depression where we can’t function any longer.

We need rest.


Verses 10 & skip to V. 18

"I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."

(God) "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

Don’t believe the lies that we make up and put into our own heads.

Elijah fabricated in his mind and convinced himself he was the only faithful one left on the face of the earth and that everyone was trying to kill him. That was just a flat out lie! The truth was there were 7,000 faithful waiting to join him.

What have we convinced ourselves of?

"Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. I’ve been doing all the work and no one notices. I’ve been doing all the praying and God isn’t hearing. I can’t make a difference. I don’t fit in." (Note: You have to say those in your best Eeyor voice and this is where the blog loses the live effect!)

Don’t believe that junk!

There are people who care. There are people who notice. You’re not the only one praying. You can and are making a difference. God has a plan you. GOD HEARS YOU!

Verses 11 & 12

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

Listen for God.

When you were sick as a kid d0 you remember one of your parents or grandparents or whoever raised you sitting on the side of your bed talking to you in the gentlest of voices?

When we were home sick it was guaranteed that Grandma Georgia was going to be there when you woke up from your sick nap and be sitting there asking if you were ready for the potato soup she had brought over. Potato soup cures everything in the country!

She had the softest and gentlest voice that never changed tones, except maybe during a cut throat game of Skip-Bo. How she could beat me a hundred times in a row and make me feel good about it I still don’t understand. But anyway, because I was at my sickest, because I was at my lowest point, I could hear her the best.

Sometime when we are in the lowest of pits God comes to us not with earthshaking revelation, or thunderous instruction or fiery rebuke…but with a whisper that says “You are not alone.”

And sometimes that’s all we need.

Verses 15 & 16

The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet..."

Seeing through all those names that are very hard to pronounce God said, “Get back to getting’ back at it!”

He tells Elijah – you’re a prophet, step out of the depression pit and get back to doing prophet stuff.

If you are a mom get back to mom stuff.

Business man back to business.

Grandpa back to being grandpa.

Prayer get back to praying.

Giver get back to giving.

I heard a preacher say one time that one of the best ways to fight off depression is if you do something for someone else. Because when we’re doing something for others then we can't possibly be focusing on ourselves.

I know this was a very lengthy but I had several who wanted me to post this because it is something that we all will deal with someday if not now.

Either we’ll be attacked by depression or a loved one will. And if we can understand what’s gets us there or we are there and here’s how we can get out then we can win the battle and kick the devil in the throat when he tries to use this on us.

One last thing I feel like I need to throw out there before I go is this. If you are in the pit depression and can’t get out as hard as you try. Go see a good counselor! Especially a good Christian based counselor if you can find one.


In case you skipped that line because you speed read like my beautiful bride.


I have seen one and I will continue to see one for my mental health, the health of my family and to strengthen my marriage.

God gave these men and women a special gift of healing, tap into it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chambers before bed

Reading some Oswald Chambers tonight and this sentence smacked me up side the head.

"The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther in his faith than the beliefs he has already accepted."

Wow! How much farther am I willing to go? Is my next move one I'll take because I know I can do it myself? Or is my next step one that is so big that it will only succeed if God shows up?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 3, 2010

Speak to me.

I'm always jotting down different scripture and posting them in different places when I'm seeking God's guidance and encouragement in my life. Today I gathered up some of my most recent for this post in hopes that one of these scriptures may speak to you at just the right time.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
~ Hebrews 10:23, NLT

I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.
~ Psalm 3:4, NLT

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
~ 1 Peter 3:15, NLT

Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.
~ Proverbs 11:14, NLT

Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.
~ Jeremiah 33:3, NLT (Something about this one gets excited!)

Drop in a comment here or on Facebook if any these hit home with you!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Appetizers on vacation.

In Max Lucado’s book 3:16 Numbers of Hope (if you haven’t read this get it TONIGHT); in the chapter on heaven he says this…

God grants glimpse of this future state. He designed an oculus in this pantheon. Through it we see gold-drenched sunsets. Diamond-studded night skies. Rainbows so arched in splendor we have to stop and sigh. Appetizers of heaven.

When we were out in San Diego a couple weeks ago it was one “appetizer” after another.

See for yourself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stubborn? Of course, I made him that way.

Last week I got a text from a good friend.

She was reading to her daughter about Moses and the Plagues.

At the end of the story her daughter asked, “Why did God make him (Pharaoh) stubborn”

Really think about it, what a great questions? If the plagues were to get Pharaoh to release the enslaved Israelites, God chosen people, then why did God make him stubborn/harden his heart?

The question was so good it prompted me to reread the entire story myself.

When I was done I found so many things in that story that mean something for us big kid believers today.

I challenge each of you to read Exodus 5-12 when you can; I promise you it is full of stuff you have forgotten as a kid and things that will mean something to you now as an adult.

But for our purpose, here is a world record summation of Moses and the plagues.

(For those of you who will be tempted to scrutinize me for posting a paraphrase of the Word and not using the verse by verse account of the story please don't bother commenting I will not post your comment or waste time replying back to you. There that's done.)

Our story in Exodus which means to exit, as in the story of the mass exit of the entire nation of Israel from Egypt.

The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians for 430 years.

Moses came to power, chosen by God to lead them out.

And that’s where the story starts. God tells Moses He is the one true God and everyone will see his power soon! Everyone will know He is the ONE true God! He says “I AM GOD” many times through this story and tells Moses, “I will make Pharoah stubborn” or harden his heart and my power will be realized through some wild stuff your great grand kids will still be talking about.

And Moses here is how you are going to do it. Walk up to the most powerful person in all the land and threaten him.

Basically tell him to let God’s people that they have enslaved for 430 years go. God’s tired of it…OR ELSE!

Like wimpy Ralphy getting tired of the bully Scott Farkus beating up him an all his buddies in the alley.

So Moses tries to tell the people of Israel what God is planning but they are so enslaved they don’t even hear him.

Moses, very discouraged goes back to God and says, hey God, I’m still not sure you picked the right guy for this my own people won’t even listen to me and I stutter. The stuttering thing cracks me up, of all the lame excuses. I mean, Moses was desperate to get out of this deal. I can just see God looking down over his glasses at Moses and going, "Seriously? You stutter? Me being the creater of the UNIVERSE and all didn't realize you stuttered when I made you and chose you!!" Cracks me up!

So God says you’re still not getting out of this calling I have for you, I’ll send your brother Aaron to be your messenger.

And on comes the plagues.

Actually cool trick first, then on come the plagues!

Aaron goes into Pharaoh throws down his rod that turns to a snake to show God’s power. Pharaohs’ magicians pull off same trick but Aarons snake eats theirs. Pharaoh’s not impressed wheels around and walks back into the house.

End result, Pharaohs heart becomes harder and he will not let the people go. Just as God had said.

Then the Nile, the Egyptian water source turns blood. A dead smelling stench filled the land.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Frogs cover the land even in their beds

Pharoah is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Even after he asks Aaron and Moses to pray for him and make it stop.

Gnats or lice covering everything.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Flies covering everything.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Livestock all died.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Boils covering peoples entire body.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Hail now falls from sky destroying everything in its path including people if they are outside.

Again he asks for it to stop and asks Aaron and Moses to pray for him. But as soon as the pray was answered and he got some breathing room…Pharaoh becomes stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Locust covering entire ground until it was black and finishing off everything green around them that wasn’t stripped by the hail.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Darkness you could feel. Many historians believe as a direct slap in the face to the Egyptian god Ra, the sun god.

Pharaoh is stubborn and won’t let the people go. Just as God had said.

Then before the last plague its funny how scripture mentions that Moses was admired not just by his people, but the Egyptians as well.

Then the final blow, the first born of all Egyptians in every household is to die. You could hear the wailing from people throughout if you stood outside.

And Israel is finally released, actually run out of the land, just as God had said.


So quickly and shortly what do we gain today by all of this??

6:9 Do we allow our earthly situations, like the Israelites being enslaved and they don’t hear Moses, to beat us down so much that we can’t hear God?

Do we allow what we think is a bad break or crummy life to consume us so much that we miss when God is either saying, “Your life isn’t that bad.” or “Here’s an opportunity for you but because your head is down you’ll never be able to see it?”

8:28 Does God answer our prayers and once we get that breathing room we quickly forget about him, we quit praying daily, quit reading our Bibles because we got our answer and we quit our daily walk with Him? I’m very guilty of this.

9:1 What is your god? What has you so enslaved that you can’t worship God? Job, money, lifestyle, hobby, your situation, your kids (yes this happens), relationships? Is there something that is filling up space in your heart that God should be getting?

11:3 When this story started Moses was hated by Egyptians and even probably by the Israelites because his first threat to Pharaoh brought more punishment on them.

But by the end he was respected by all just as you will be when you stay faithful and obedient even when there’s no reason to and the world says, “Give up!”

When you have destroyed the worldly god that binds you!

When you overcome the plague that afflicts you!

And when you realize the love of God for you, the power of God to change you and that you NEED to get close to the one true God who can save you!

Yes, you will be noticed and you will have a chance to glorify God with your story!

To close we need to answer the little girl’s question.

“Why did God make him (Pharaoh) stubborn?”

God is God. If he wanted the Israelites released all he had to do was blink.

Making Pharaoh stubborn and continuing the plagues was all about showing that God will go through extraordinary measures to reach out and rescue those he loves and that means you.

It was all about showing EVERYONE, Israelite and Egyptian, believer and nonbeliever who was the real God.

Same when Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way the truth and the life…!”

There's nothing on this earth that can bring us down and there’s nothing on this earth that we can replace the one true God with.

Get close to him today. Pray daily. Read your Bibles daily. Tap into the free power only He can offer you to overcome your plagues!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank you!

Just wanted to say what an awesome group of Christ followers I get to pastor and minister with at The Serve (that’s our Wednesday night service ministry at Fellowship of Believers)!

Yesterday was our last Hot Dogs from Heaven outreach of the summer, where we serve free hot dogs in a local park, and let me tell you it was smokin’ hot! At or over 100 degrees hot when we started!! But not a single person backed down as they bagged and distributed and ministered to every person who came by!!

I am so blessed to be able to serve side by side with each and every one of these devoted people who over the summer prepared and handed out 1,000 hot dogs. It is awesome to see such a small group reach so many people! And here’s the cool part, not just were hungry people fed, but each person got a glimpse of the love of Christ.

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sisters, hockey and dead fish!

Remember February 22nd 1980? Oh I do!

This would have been the day before my little sisters 1st birthday. Oh how I had loved the first three years of my life…then she came along. Everything changed forever!

No really, I love you sis…sometimes! Seriously, I love you….when we don’t have to talk! Just kidding…kinda!

Really, February 22nd 1980 was the day a historical Olympic hockey game was played.

It’s was the game prior to the gold medal round but it was the one everyone remembers.

A group of American amateur and college hockey players took on the Soviet Union professionals who had won every Olympic hockey gold since 1964 and were the heavy favorite to win this one.
Last period and the game was tied 4-4 with time is ticking down.

U.S. gets the puck with 10 seconds to go.

Passed it up ice with 5 seconds as announcer Al Michaels rattles off the famous words, “Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miraclessssssss?...YES!”

As the U.S. puck flies into the net with no time left and pandemonium erupts.

Affectionately know to this day as “The Miracle on Ice.”

This is a perfect example of what it takes for a miracle to happen as I recently heard Christian author John Maxwell describe.

He says, “Miracles happen when there is a need sensed by a few, and each individual understands his responsibility and gives his all, regardless of the odds, then Jesus works a miracle.”

Now go back and think about that hockey match again. Perfect example, huh?

Think of the Jesus feeding the 5,000 with a few fish and loaves that is recorded in all four gospels ( Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 & John 6). The few who sensed the need and understood the responsibility wasn’t Jesus and disciples. Heck, they wanted Jesus to end with a prayer and let everyone go home hungry.

No, the few who sensed the need was Jesus and boy with the fish and bread.

For this miracle to work the boy had to give his all regardless of the odds. And his all was his lunch.

As he looked around at over 5,000 hungry people he was finally convinced that this guy Jesus could really do this; otherwise he would have never given him the lunch.

Maxwell envisioned the conversation between the two sounding something like this, “I can do more with your lunch than you can but I can’t do anything until you let it go out of your hands.”

The minute it is out of his hands the miracle begins.

Just like The Miracle on Ice there was no way to score the winning goal as long as U.S. holds on to the puck. The miracle only happened because they let it go towards the net and gave it chance.

God tells us the same. I can do more with your life than you can but I can’t do anything until you let go of your junk and let me take care of it.

Change your thinking a little when it comes to miracles. They’re not just something that happened a few thousand years ago and about water to wine, walking on water or parting of seas. Miracles in the Bible and miracles today share something in common. They are about bringing the dead to life.

Today we need a miracle in our dead marriages, our dead relationships, our dead friendship, when we’re dead in our addictions, our dead finances or dead in our religion. When you are to the point you've figured out you can’t help you and must have Him to go any further then you have sensed the need for a miracle in your life. Now let go!

Pastor Shannon O’Dell says it best, “Take the pain, take the offenses, dig them up with a spade, and spread them at the feet of the Cross, release them and leaving there with your Lord. Let go! Because he knows what to do. He is in the business of taking things that are dead and giving them new life.”

Let it go!

Pray, “I will not be consumed by this any longer! This will not rule my life any longer! God here is my lunch.”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lessons from The Learning Channel

Okay, today I may really offend someone. I know everyone has a hobby that other people just don’t understand. I like to run, fish, hunt and golf. Some people will think why in the heck would you want to run, other than to the fridge and back. Why would you want to try to hook a fish or kill an animal or chase a little white ball all over the place?

Why? I don’t know. For some reason I find happiness and relaxation in those things.
I’ve known pigeon racers, yes pigeon racers, stamp collectors, garage salers, campers, motorcyclists, triathloners, shoppers, civil war reenactors, hikers, gardeners, bakers and wine makers. Somewhere along the way you read that list and said, “Why”.

And last night while watching TV with my awesome wife I said, “Why?”

Okay, here comes the offensive part. I’m going to give you one line and give you a chance to close out this blog, ready…

“Toddlers and Tiaras” on TLC.

This is the show about toddler beauty pageant kids and the behind the scenes with their parents. Last night the kids they followed were age 10 and under.

I must have said “why” no less than 25 times.

I said “why” when they busted out their own spray tan booth in their kitchen.

I said “why” when they took the hair piece in to have it dyed to match the little girl’s hair and then got ticked at the dude in the salon because it wasn’t a perfect match. No prob though, he a blew it out and touched up to perfection by the next morning.

I said “why” when they reviewed the hand signals for “too much smile” “not enough smile” “too much teeth”.

I said “why” when they had to refit the FLIPPER! Someone please tell me that you don’t know what a flipper is unless you have watched this show. A flipper is like a set of dentures but it goes over your existing teeth to cover up the gaps and irregular ones that kids at this age have so they will appear to have perfect teeth. Just so happened that mom worked at a dental office part time and had the stuff at home to do a dental impression right then and there. “If I’m lying I’m dying”, to quote the late great Jerry Clower.

Then one of the moms made some comment like, “its all about you baby” and I thought to myself, “Well not really.” It’s really about who we can make you up to be and who you can pose to be for a little while. Then when that pageant is over that girl is back to normal as fast as she can hit the parking lot.

Hey, that’s cool if that’s your hobby, I don’t understand it, or pigeon racing for that matter.

But the more I thought about the pageant and my comment the more I thought “Wow, isn’t this how we do church?”

Don’t a lot of times we make ourselves out to be someone we are not for a couple hours every Sunday. Then as soon as it’s over we are back to normal as soon as we hit the parking lot.

How much different would church be if we showed up as who we really are every week?
As lonely, depressed, sad, struggling, addicted, frustrated, imperfect, misunderstood, hungry, cold, lost.

What if we were to lay that at His feet every week?

What would this say to the rest of the world about our church?? It would say we are just like you!

As long as we continue to treat church like a pageant we will continue to tell the world we are trying to reach that you must look and act a certain way to come in here.

What a travesty!

I think this scene from Mark 2:15-18 (The Message translation) addresses this beautifully.

15-16Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: "What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?"

17Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I'm here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit."

It’s no wonder the lost won’t come to our churches.

It’s no wonder the lost despise us.

If you think this is not the case you either aren’t talking or reaching out to hurting people in the world or you are really fooling yourself.

If you keep up with my blog often then you know our church does an outreach called Hot Dogs From Heaven where we feed people in a local park once a month and try to build relationships with them.

During one of our recent events my friend Mike and I got a chance to minister to a local lady who was struggling with life. She said she really wanted to go to church but she couldn’t, as she gestured to us with the cigarette she had in her hand.

Said she had to “quit” first.

Before I could speak, Mike was in the middle of telling her that you don’t have to be perfect and cleaned up to get into church. Church is a place where you can come as you are, you don't have to clean up your life so you can get in. And that there was no one in any church that was perfect.

She had this funny look on her face and said, “I didn’t think church people wanted me in there with them smelling like smoke.”

In case you missed it let me repeat part of what she said again, “I didn’t think church people wanted me in there with them…”

“Church people” do you see the message we are giving off? And I’ll be the first to admit I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.

We must start to see our churches not as a social event or item on the weekly to do list. We must see our churches as place to glorify God for the abundant grace we are immersed in everyday in our jacked up lives. We must see them as a hospital for the broken to check-in to so they can be met by open-armed Christ followers and given a chance to meet Him too!

There is a line from the Todd Agnew song My Jesus that I will leave you with today. The entire song rocks but these words always hit me the hardest.

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reality Check

Yes, I know many of you are starting to question the success of the trout fishing expedition but I promise I have pictures…they're just still on my camera…but when I bust them out you’ll be truly amazed.

Below is repost of a blog repost I read this morning and when you read it I think you'll see why I've reposted it again.

It’s insightful, humbling, troubling, thought provoking and it should disturb all of us Christ followers since He commissioned us with reaching the world!

"Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of His day.

However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect.

The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted do not bother coming to our churches, even our most avant-garde (daring and unorthodox) ones. We tend to draw buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church.

That can only mean one thing.

If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did."
- Dr. Tim Keller