Showing posts from 2011

Personal Growth with Intent & Focus (New Year's Eve)

2011 was an amazing year, and I'm looking forward to a 2012 that is even more so!  Making New Year's Resolutions isn't something I usually do, but this year I'm feeling an inner drive for increased intent and focus  in my life.  I've taken some time today to think about personal growth, and have come up with some goals that I resolve to experience in the coming year. 

I am a teacher/preacher.  This is who I am, and also happens to be my job.  Predominantly, these goals are to promote growth in this area.  These goals are also to boost or sustain my spiritual, mental, psychological, relational, and physical health.  Much of this I'm already doing on some level, but now do so with fresh intent and focus.  So, in 2012 I'm resolving to achieve these goals...

* carry my journal everywhere and write something in it every day (great ideas will NOT get away this year).
* post an entry to my blog at least once a week (likely thoughts I've journaled).
* read o…

Tears of Joy!

We forget far too often how far a simple word of encouragement can go.  I truly believe I have the best job in the world... and one of the most difficult.  There are many reasons for this, and I'll not innumerate them here, but a part of it is this: being a Pastor of a Christian church in the 21st Century Western context is designed to be a very lonely vocation.  While I take measures regularly to combat this, there still are seasons that make you wonder, "Does this even matter?" 

Today, I received a note in the mail (to my house, not the office) from a super-sweet lady from my congregation.  Here is a little bit of why I am so encouraged and blessed today:

Dear Pastor Steve & Shelly,
I just want ya'll to know how much I enjoyed the Christ Birthday Celebration Sunday morning.  I am 85 yrs. and it was the most touching, so beautiful of a service I can ever remember.  I so wished all my family (4 sons & wives, 11 grandchildren and 25 great-grands) had been ther…

Merry Christmas (Jib-Jab)

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Unique ministry opportunity

Recently I was asked to help with a new recovery ministry beginning in Florida, in a very unique way.  A friend of mine, calling upon a specific skill set of mine, asked me to come up with a playlist of songs from the 90s which those who came of age in that era would hear and immediately think, "Yes!  I remember that song!"  Here is what I've come up with off the top of my head.  Any other suggestions?

-"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana
-"Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears
-"You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette
-"Losing My Religion" by REM
-"Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor
-"Vogue" by Madonna
-"All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow
-"Mmmmbop" by Hanson
-"Mysterious Ways" by U2
-"Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C+C Music Factory
-"You Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer
-"Loser" by Beck
-"No Rain" by Blind Melon

Making Room for a New Thing (Advent Thought)


Making Room for Rest (Advent thought)


Great Unexpextations (Advent thoughts)

This week I was perusing some of the items in our community pantry at Oaklawn church of God when I came across this!

This is a Christmas stocking that I made when I was a kid - probably 5 or 6 years old - when we lived in Louisiana.  For many years this stocking found itself full of small toys, Hershey's kisses, apples & oranges, and Nerf footballs (yes, a Nerf football every year)!  How it wound up this week in our church community pantry, in Hot Springs, AR, is one of life's great mysteries for sure.  But what an unexpected surprise trip to my childhood!  Unexpectedly coming across this hideously beautiful work of art brought me great joy!

Recently we experienced a death in our household - the fridge.  Getting the repairmen scheduled, and getting them to show up when scheduled was quite the ordeal (I'm trying really hard to NOT make this blog an anti-commercial for Sears).  After a week of no fridge, and a lot of "rescheduled" appointments, we were informed…

Towdah (continued)

So it's really no surprise that my attempt to create a blog entry every day leading up to Thanksgiving didn't work out.  With three boys, two of which are under 2, a wife with serious gallbladder issues, a broken fridge, plus this whole pastor-gig I have going on, priorities have necessitated that the blog be put off.

But tonight I really want to express for the electronic written record the joy in my heart.  Tonight was Community Group night, and a small group of friends from our church fellowship gathered in our home for conversational Bible study, food, and just doing life together.  Tonight we laughed... a lot.

"Doing life together" is about so many things, and I feel like sometimes we make it just about getting through a Bible study or going through the motions of rote prayers... or being there for one another in the hard times.  All of which are important, and definitely a part of the connectivity we should have as "brothers and sisters." But I wonder…

Towday #7

Today, I'm thankful for my brother, Aaron.  Just two years separate us, so as one would imagine, we were pretty much at odds for a big part of our childhood & teen years.  We had our differences and spats... and even the occasional fight... none of which were my fault by the way (come on, you know better than that, right?).  At the same time, we were still pretty close growing up.

Now that we're adults (stop smirking, we're both in our 40s now), we are closer than ever.  Even though we don't live close enough to see each other often, we are definitely involved in each others' lives.  Aaron is a great brother and a great friend.  His generosity and care for others inspires me.  Plus, he is an awesome uncle to my three boys!  Aaron is super talented musically, too!  If you need a singer/preacher tag team... or a couple of bouncers... let us know!

One of the things I am most looking forward to during this year's celebration of Towdah is spending time with my b…

Towdah #6

Day six of my towdah (thanksgiving) is dedicated to my parents.

I'm thankful to be one of the unique ones, whose parents have remained together.  In my childhood, my parents taught me to love life.  In my teens, my parents taught me about grace.  In my twenties, they showed me (and Shelly) that parents have enough love to include their kid's spouse.  In my thirties, I learned from them that their love for me extends to my kids.  Now, in my forties, my parents are showing me what growing old together is supposed to look like.

My mom has always been a voice of support, and my dad has always been a source of wisdom.  A lot of people say they have the best parents in the world.  The truth is, I probably actually do.

I love you, Mom & Dad.  And I thank God that you are my parents!

Towdah #5

My #5 towdah (thanksgiving) is our 3rd son, Nile.

Nile is just 3 months old, so about all he's got to offer is his big blue eyes and an amazing smile.  Like father, like son... and son... and son.  Hahaa!

Again, the question Shelly and I get all the time is, "Planned or surprise?"  This time was most definitely a surprise!  I mean, we hadn't even gotten over the shock that after 13 years we actually had a second child, then SURPRISE!  We're having ANOTHER!

Something I say a lot whole I'm holding Nile and talking to him is, "We've been waiting for you.  What took you so long to get here anyway?"  I am so thankful for this beautiful little guy (who is actually rather long) and the surprising added joy that he brings!  Thank You, God, for blessing me with three amazing boys!

Towdah #4

Thirteen years after Christian, our first born, came... Jericho!

People always ask if Jericho was a surprise or was he planned.  The answer is... YES!  Oh, he was planned.  About 3 years after C-man was born, we decided we wanted to have another baby.  But by the time Jericho came along, Shelly & I had pretty much resigned ourselves that we were only having one child. SURPRISE!

I am very thankful for Jericho!  It seems like it took forever for him to get here (13 years anyway), but now that he is here, I'm can't remember life without him.  Today, J-dawg is just 17 months old, but he is definitely a "mini-me."  It's kinda scary to have one this little who looks and acts so much like me.  He loves to play ball and he loves to have books read to him.  He is obsessed with being outside, and he loves dance around to boomin' beats. 

My son makes me smile... a lot.  Today, as I reflect on towdah, my heart is full of gratitude for this precious gift that is our s…

Towdah #3

Our first son, Christian, was born 14 years ago.  So hard to believe that he is 14. 

What a neat kid.  His sense of humor is so quirky; he's a bit shy, but really loud and talkative at the same time; he's typically sloppy, but likes things to be just a certain way... in so many ways he is just like Shelly, and in so many ways he is exactly like me.  C-man is great with younger kids (which has come in really handy over the past two years). 

All of these things about my first born son, and so many more, are awesome.  But, I am most thankful for him because he is... him.  I will never forget the moment he was born (I got to deliver him!).  I guess boys aren't supposed to be called "beautiful," but he took my breath away.  What an amazing day!

He's growing up so fast, and I don't want to miss a minute.  I'm so thankful that Christian is my son, just because he is.

Towdah #2

Giving thanks Day #2.

Opposites attract is not just a cliche - this is my marriage reality.  Shelly & I and I celebrated 21 years together this year, and we're more in love every day.  Ok, ok... the point of this blog entry is NOT to get you to gag at the syrupy-sweetness that is how I feel about my bride... but I have a black-belt in romance, what can I say?

Although she is the exact opposite of me, Shelly is my best friend.  She has stood by my side through thick and thin (and we've been through some VERY thick situations as well as some VERY thin times)!  She is the most unselfish person I know (see, exact opposite) and is super smart (again, opposite).  Shelly is an awesome mommy to our kids, and is absolutely smokin' hot! She even stood by me when I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

I am so thankful that she agreed to take a chance on me when she said, "yes." 

Shelly, thanks for rocking my world... today.  I love you!

Towdah #1

I'm going to attempt to write a blog entry every day until Thanksgiving about something specific I am thankful for (and I'll be honest up front, it's going to be a challenge to blog every day).  To begin with an explanation, "towdah" is the Hebrew word which translates as "thanksgiving," and literally means "to extend the hand."  It may be kind of dorky to bring this up every year during the American holiday of Thanksgiving, but towdah is one of my absolute favorite Hebrew words.  I'm sure you have many yourself. ;}

Towdah #1: Yeshua ha'Messiah (Jesus the Christ). More than a concept, religious leader, or historical figure, Yeshua has transformed my life.  And He continues to do so.  I am thankful for the Cross.  I am thankful for the Resurrection.  I am thankful for life in abundance!  By abundance, I don't mean I have a lot of stuff... although I do (so do you), but I refer to the type of life I am experiencing, not the amount of…

Whole Hands


!punctuate the beginning

This morning it was 45 degrees at sunrise.  That's too cold... it really is.  But, I decided to make the best of it and headed out for a 4-mile walk/jog/hike, during which I most definitely broke a sweat.  While I was making my way up and down the hilly terrain that makes up my route, I found myself in communion with the Creator and fully aware of the moment.  Even the random shirt I grabbed in the dimly-lit morning didn't seem so random.

The exclamation point is used at the end of a sentence to express passion, excitement or energy.  Whatever has been said is said with gusto.  I recall hearing this used as a cliche when someone does something with passion, excitement or energy: "they really put an exclamation point on that!" 

And here I am... starting my day with an exclamation point!  At the break of dawn, even though I totally disagree with God's decided temperature, I made the decision to punctuate the start of my day with an exclamation point! 

What if we di…

On the Verge (a book review)

"Running or retreating from change is like pretending tomorrow will be 1980.  It won't.  The curious leader knows that tomorrow will be different from today and that difference will providentially bring the opportunity for innovation." (p.216)

In their recent book, On the Verge, Dave Ferguson and Alan Hirsch, have provided some extremely helpful, yet challenging insights for the present and future church of God.  If "Jesus is LORD," then He impacts everything about church and culture and our families.  Church leaders must prayerfully take to heart the task of reaching those who are far from God, and lead our congregations to do the same, as we continue to move FORWARD.

There is a real Movement of God happening, and On the Verge captures the heart of this Movement!  There are a few books that I think every church leader should read, and one this has moved to the top of that list.  With thought-starters and practical suggestions, On the Verge scratches my church …

The 5-M Movement