Staying Lit

I prefer green.  Trees, plants, the lawn... green energizes me.  Brown makes me lethargic, like I want to hibernate.  While there may be something to that thought, hiding under the covers of my bed for 3 months isn't a real option.

So, this time of year, as the leaves are falling, I find myself in the perpetual motion of raking and burning, and raking and burning... in order to briefly enjoy the green of the grass once again.  Also, I am thankful to live in a climate where the grass stays green(ish) year round.

Yesterday as I did this, I was having a hard time setting the leaf pile on fire. It hasn't rained and they weren't really wet.  But the leaves were damp.  The morning dew had left the leaves just damp enough that they just would not catch fire. So I decided to try a small piece of "lighter pine" that we use to start fires in the fireplace.  It worked!  The lighter pine lit as readily as ever, and burned long enough and hot enough to set the leaves ablaze…

The Life & Times of a First Time Soccer Coach

It was never my intention to coach a soccer team of 15 high-energy, easily-distracted 6 & 7 year olds.  All I had on my agenda was getting my 7 year old, Jericho, into a sport and to support him by being present at every game and practice.  And so, in filling out his registration form, I marked "willing to help/assist the coaches of the team."

The league directors lit up when they read that: "Oh, you know what - we need coaches in this age group!"

After declining their invitation, I reiterated that I would help whoever the coach was in any way that I could - even as an "assistant."  I mean, I really like soccer.  I watch it occasionally through the year, and always watch every World Cup and Olympic game that I can. But, I confess, I don't know all the rules nor how the positions are played.  How could I possibly be any kind of soccer coach?

A few days later, the call came. "We still don't have a coach, and you're the only parent who …

Know Regrets

"No regrets!" I hear that a lot. And I get it, we like to be strong... or act strong... or just have others think we're strong. Nobody likes to appear weak. Nobody likes to lose, right?  I mean, most of us will admit that we're not perfect and that we make mistakes, but then it gets followed up with, "but I have no regrets!"

Really?  You make mistakes and you don't regret any of them?

What if we saw regret as something positive? Not a place to set up camp in some past mistake, but an opportunity for great growth.

One of my favorite stories that Jesus told is the one we call "the Parable of the Prodigal Son" (Luke 15).  It's the story of mistakes, self-centered choices, and wasteful living.  The twist in the story begins when the Prodigal "finally came to his senses..." and started for home.

In my life, regret has played a positive role. Regret led me to an awakening - a "coming to my senses." Like the Prodigal, I thoug…

Reflections of a church planter: Launch Day!

The room, known as Theater #2, at Parkway Cinema in Natchitoches, LA, was slowly filling up (well, about 1/4 full) as the countdown on the screen counted down toward 00:00.  The anticipation welled up within me. It's been two full years since Shelly & I made the decision to answer the call to move to a community where we didn't know anyone and plant a new church through the LCMCOG Network.  It's been nearly a year and a half since we moved to this community, and one full year since we began meeting weekly on Thursday nights with a small group of university students in our living room.  The hours spent praying, the days spent planning/evaluating/re-planning, the moments spent laughing/crying, the sleepless nights, the questions/answers/more-questions... the conversations... the dreaming... the visioneering... ALL of this church-planting roller coaster ride found total impact within me in this moment.  Awaken Church.

The countdown hit 00:00. The background music stopped…

Investing in Others (What is "discipleship")

I continually find myself thankful for those who have invested in me.  Men and women who have mentored or coached me (maybe without realizing it), by befriending me and engaging in thought-provoking conversation - speaking into my life, as well as listening as if I may have something to say.  Some continue to invest in me, as I continue to grow and develop as a person... others may have been involved in my life for a short season.  But for each and every one of them, I am thankful.

One such friend is John McCallum (in the pic above with his awesome wife, Dayna).  John is the pastor of First Baptist Church, Hot Springs, AR.  I met John (I think for the first time) at a prayer luncheon for pastors when we happened to be seated at the same table.  During the conversation, he mentioned to us other pastors at the table that FBC had a full fitness center/gym, and would like to offer a free Family Membership to any Senior Pastor of the churches in town.   A few weeks later, I took him (and …

Church: How We Can Do Our Job Better

The church is not so much a place, as it is a people.  The people of God.  Jesus people.

And the church has a job to do.

Too often, that job looks like it is to make budget, run programs, upkeep of buildings and grounds and vans...

I'm not saying those things aren't important. No, these things all need to be addressed when applicable.  But none of these are the job of the church.

When I say the church has a job, I mean the church has a mission.  And everything else is to fall in the context of this mission.  The mission is the same mission of Jesus.

Jesus mission is to:
- seek & save lost people. (Luke 19:10)
- save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15)
- give us abundant life. (John 10:10)
- destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)

This is the church's job, and I believe we can do better.  I've identified 3 steps a church can take in order to do a better job at what matters.

Step 1: Create a Culture of Acceptance
It's Jesus' church.  Who did Jesus accept?

People need t…

We Gotta Pray Just to Make It Today

Recently a pastor friend of mine posted on social media about the blessing of praying together with fellow pastors.  Someone trolling for a confrontation commented, "No need to actually be doing something.  Gotta love some prayer warriors that come together in prayer to accomplish everything inaction doesn't accomplish." Without attempting to take the bait for the debate, I simply replied, "Prayer isn't actually inaction. Plus, these pastors do work together to meet needs in the community, through food banks, homeless shelters, and so much more."  The person argued with me and I didn't respond. 

Prayer might not matter to everyone, but it sure matters to me. My family and I, and our church plant team, are committed to everything we do being birthed out of prayer and bathed in prayer as we continue forward together!  I believe that a life of prayer is essential to knowing God, having peace and strength, and living wide awake.  Here are 3 ways I have fou…