Change of Plans

I took this selfie during a short break between groups, as I led 4th & 5th graders in afternoon field games in the Louisiana heat last week. The shirt I'm wearing is from The Global Gathering of the Church of God, which took place in Anderson, IN, a few years ago.

The significance? At the exact same time that I took this pic at Camp Pollock, LA, the Global Gathering was once again taking place, this time in Orlando, FL.

When it was announced the Global Gathering would be held in Orlando, I doubt there was anyone more excited than I was. The Global Gathering of the Church of God is a wonderful event that I never want to miss. Orlando is my favorite city in the world. And the dates of the event coincided Shelly and my 29th wedding anniversary.  I immediately began to dream and plan on how we could attend the Global Gathering, and then tack on a much-needed family vacation as an Anniversary gift to ourselves and our boys.

Financially, this would mean cutting even more corners an…

3 Essesntial Parts of Living Your Best Life (or, Drinking Your Best Coffee)

I really like coffee. I know, SURPRISE, right?  A friend was visiting from out of town a while back, and he asked, "Where do I get the best cup of coffee in town?"  I told him about one of my favorite spots on Front Street (Front Street Marketplace is you're ever in Natchitoches, LA), as I answered, "Their coffee is really good, but if you want the BEST cup of coffee, you have to come out to the house."

We have a coffee maker that is a phenom of a machine. It has a built in grinder. That's right, I grind the coffee beans myself... and it is actually a part of the coffee maker! Just the aroma itself is reason to celebrate, but the taste is far superior to any ground coffee I've ever tried.

But the machine itself can't produce that sweat nectar of the bean. No, there are three essential things needed to drinking your best cup of coffee. Similarly, there are three essential things needed to living your best life.

1) The Bean. The bean matters. Typicall…

Have a SMART New Year!

I rarely hear anyone talk about making "New Years Resolutions" anymore. A few years ago, I began to notice this trend, and began to ask, "why?" The most popular opinion is "no one ever keeps them." I do.  Well, I do and I don't.

Let me explain.

I like to challenge myself. And like most people, I enjoy personal accomplishments.  And like most people, I don't like to fail. So, every year in late December, I do a little self-evaluation. Taking an honest inventory of yourself spiritually, physically, and emotionally, leads you into personal health and growth.  A part of this process is to set 1-5 goals in the areas of Spiritual, Physical, Vocational (in my case "church"), and Personal/Family. Then I ensure that each of these goals is a SMART goal. In case you're not familiar with the idea of SMART goals, here's how I break it down. Be sure that each goal is...

Specific. The reason why most of us don't reach our goals is because w…

5 Ways Youth Ministry Prepared Me For the Lead Pastor Role

So, it's been a little longer between posts than I anticipated. A couple of months ago I began a weekly live vlog-type discussion on Facebook Live, and that has in some ways replaced the writing of a blog for me. That being what it is, I'm going to attempt to find a way to do both - I will continue to do the live video discussion weekly, and write on this blog when I feel inspired to do so (hopefully more often).

As a sort of follow up to my previous blog on 5 Things I've Learned in 20 Years of Full-Time Ministry, I thought I would share my Top5 Ways Youth Ministry Prepared Me for the Lead Pastor Role.  Trust me when I say that there are far more than 5 ways being a Youth Pastor for 10 years prior to becoming a Lead Pastor (and now Church Planter) prepared me for the role!

5. It Takes a Team!

Early on I felt like I had to do everything myself. A part of that was ego. However, attempting to be a one-man-super-youth-pastor was also about being a work-aholic, being immature, a…

5 Lessons From 20 Years of Church Ministry

It's May and that means Graduation Season! This has me reflecting on my own journey towards a college degree, and the 20 years that have passes since.  In May of 1998, I completed my degree program at Mid America Christian University in Oklahoma City.  Commencement brought to a close 11 years (I graduated High School in 1987) of on-again-off-again college attendance, having pursued 4 different Majors in 3 different Universities, in 3 different states. During which I time I got married, worked full-time, and our first child was born. Not the recommended way of earning a degree... which I finally received my B.A. in Pastoral Ministry/Bible that May.

Upon graduation, I continued to do pulpit-fill (which I had begun to do in my senior year) at a few small churches in rural Oklahoma. A few months later, I landed a full-time position as Youth Pastor at Red Fork Church of God, Tulsa, OK. After serving there almost 6 years, I accepted the call to serve as Associate Pastor with Coral Sprin…

Lilies don't bloom somwehere else (a Church Planting post)

Spring is upon us, and many of the wonderful things I have planted in my yard are coming to life. Lilies are popping up, pear trees are blooming, and blueberry bushes are starting to bud. In all of this activity, one thing is certain - everything that blooms will bloom where it is planted.

It also happens that we are almost 2 years into our church planting journey, and I'm discovering that "bloom where you're planted" doesn't always transfer to people. It turns out some people simply won't bloom here.  Some will join the journey, put down roots, make commitments, and then decide to move on. Lilies don't do that. But a church is much harder to plant than a garden.

Several years ago, I learned a valuable lesson that I find increasingly valuable on this roller coaster called church planting.  I was Lead Pastor of an established church. As happens too often (even once is too often in any church that claims Jesus as the subject), things happened and words wer…

Preach on, Ladies!

Recently, the religious community has been in a renewed upheaval due to something a well-known preacher wrote/said about women in positions of church leadership.  I typically stay away from debates and arguments, as I see they rarely (if ever) help further the mission of Jesus for His followers.  I write this blog post, not necessarily as a response, nor an argument, but simply an acknowledgment of where I stand.

Complementarians hold a theological view that men and women have different, but complementary, roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. It is in this camp where women's roles in church are to complement (work together with) men's roles, however the roles are clearly defined that women cannot preach/teach or be in senior leadership. Unfortunately this has led to a view that women's roles are secondary to men's.

Egalitarians hold a theological view that all people are equal, and that men and women have equal standi…