Showing posts from 2014

It's time to live awakened!

When I was a kid, my brother and I had very different ways of waking up.  Our rooms were across the hall from each other, and we both had an alarm clock radio.  The alarm clock radio was genius!  You could wake up to an alarm OR you could set it to wake up to your favorite radio station, OR (even batter) set it to wake up to any pre-set recording you had on a cassette tape (if you don't know what that is, Google it). On any given day, I woke up to Bobby McFerrin singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy," or Kool & the Gang's "Celebration."  My brother, however, used the standard alarm... which sounded like an air raid siren... only louder.

I would wake up happy and ready to get the day started.  My brother woke up annoyed and in a grumpy mood.  One Saturday morning, he forgot to turn his alarm off since it wasn't a school day.  About 6 AM, I heard the air raid siren going off across the hall, thinking, "Really?  Really?! REALLY?!"  And it didn&…

So now there is NO condemnation...

Condemnation.  How often to we look in the mirror and see a broken image of what we'd hoped to be reflected?  People will hang condemnation of all kinds on you - there's little you can do about that.  But what you can do something about is how you respond, and how you see yourself.

When we buy into the lies of condemnation, we're doomed.  Condemnation tells us that we can't change, we can't be changed, and nothing will ever change.

Condemnation lies.  Jesus changes everything!

It's true that in your own strength and intellect and goodness, that you may never force the change in your life that you know full-well needs to happen.  And maybe that's the point.  When I DYI spirituality and emotional health, I continue to see myself as a fixer-upper.

Romans 8 begins with the proclamation, "So now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!"  So, if God doesn't condemn us,why do we accept the lies of self-condemnation to penetrate ou…

Surf's up!

I've been thinking a lot about surfing lately.  Maybe because one of my heroes, Bethany Hamilton, is being advertised for a new "adventure-style reality show."  Or maybe because we've just had a spurt of colder weather, which reminded me that I really don't like cold weather at all.  Most likely, though, I've been thinking about surfing lately because it's time.  It's been a year and a half since I've immersed myself in the love of the ocean... and I'm in need of a salt water fix.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not really a surfer. 

Maybe I could be a surfer if I gave it more time and energy (which is difficult to do in central Arkansas - the waves stay pretty small here). 

But I have tried surfing.  The very first time, on a borrowed board, I learned to paddle out.  Then I spent most of the day sitting and trying to learn the timing required to catch a wave.  And when I did catch a wave, I swallowed a lot of ocean trying to hold on to it.…

First Impressions

Around 7 years ago this weekend, I visited Hot Springs, AR, for the first time, in order to visit with Oaklawn Church of God about the possibility of moving my family here and accept the position of Lead Pastor.  I easily remember this time every year, because it was the weekend of a big "Bike (motorcycle) Rally" in Hot Springs.  A gentleman named Pete, who I now consider a great friend, drove me around the town and the area.  And I remember thinking the whole time, "Wow... motorcycles sure are popular around here!  Everyone in this town must have a motorcycle!"

Having no idea that it was Bike Rally weekend, my first impression of the town was a little off.  People come from all over the country for this weekend.  At first glance, I didn't get the whole story.

The old saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." 

That's too bad.   First impressions seldom give a good clear picture, and it certainly doesn't give me …

Wake Up Blog!

Time to wake up this blog!  I guess I have been pretty much hitting the "snooze button" on this for a while.  The past few months I've started to write a blog entry, then just... didn't.

Today, I'm waking up the blog with a few thoughts on why I've been hitting the snooze.

1) Community.  When I was blogging all the time, it was as a part of a community of bloggers who randomly found one another through a "pre-social-networking social network" called Xanga.  I have a highly sociable personality.  There was something magnetic about "entering into a conversation" through various blog entries and comments that kept me highly motivated to produce timely pieces.

2) Feedback.  I have never much blogged "for myself."  In the season of Myspace, I didn't really get (nor agree with) the popular philosophy, "Well, this is MY space, so I'll post whatever I want."  I keep a private journal for that.  So, when Xanga started d…

The Cool Cutting Edge

A little more than 16 years ago, I started out this ministry gig with the attitude that in order to do what God was calling me to do that I had to be concerned first and foremost with making church "cool." I was committed to leading a "cutting edge" student ministry and help develop a "cutting edge" church.

A couple of years in, as I was studying God brought me to this passage about doing "a new thing" that rocked my world:
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. -Isaiah 43:19
My thoughts about being "cutting edge" resurfaced, but God began redefining this in me.  Cutting edge ministry isn't to be about being "cool."  A stream cuts across the desert, causing life to spring up and flourish in the wasteland.  Jesus was and is the Stream in the desert.  As the stream cuts through the desert, giving life, Jesus cut through history givi…

This is one of those


From This Day Forward

Once in a while someone will ask me, "What's your favorite sermon series you've done?"  Typically, the answer is something like, "Actually, there's one coming up that I'm really excited about!  Let me tell you about..."

I tend to be constantly asking, "OK, God, what's next?"  I'm just wired that way.  So, while I may be teaching through the first chapter of the book of James, at the same time I'm digging deep into the parables of Jesus found in Mark 4.

For the past month, I've been studying what the Bible has to say about marriage.  It's quite a lot, by the way.  At Oaklawn Church of God we're starting a brand new teaching series this Sunday called From This Day Forward, and I am so pumped to get into this! 

According to most experts, the divorce rate in our culture is around 50%. We've heard that so often for so long, sometimes I think we don't even realize that... this is A LOT!  Actually, I recently found…

Growing through the pain

Here's a challenging Bible passage for us to consider:

When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. -James 1:2

You might be thinking surely this is a misinterpretation by the translators.  Nope.  It means exactly what it says.  So how is this even possible?  I know the first time I remember really reading this, stopping with a "Wait what????"

In my experience, I am learning that this is actually possible.  The reason troubles can be considered opportunities for great joy is because they are opportunities for great growth as a person - opportunities for great spiritual growth.  Here are three areas I have experienced great spiritual growth (reason for great joy) through my own times of trouble and stress:

1) Prayer.  Through very stressful and troubling times, such as the loss of a close family member or the loss of job, we have the opportunity to really grow in our prayer lives.  Some of us only pray when troubles come our way.  It is my opinion…