Friday, December 31, 2010

What's your plan for planning 2011?

Happy New Year's Eve!  Can you believe that 2010 is already over?  I trust it's been a great year for you filled with passion, love and adventure.  Do you wonder what 2011 is going to look like?  Are you making any resolutions for the new year?

It appears that life keeps getting busier and busier.   The more jammed packed each day gets, the more I realize that if I'm gonna get anything accomplished, I need to have a plan.  A road map, if you will.  Without defined goals, it's very easy for each of us to get busy, or slip up, and not complete what needs to get accomplished when we do end up with a free moment.

John Ortberg, in his book Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs, talks about how he plans out his life in several different ways.  The way that most struck me was that, when he plans short term, he plans 6 weeks at a time.  He plans six weeks at a time as strictly as possible, as full as possible, without being overwhelmed.

So here's my major plans for the next six weeks, in no particular order:

  1. Reread the Gospels in depth - this is going to actually happen in 30 days.  This includes reading and studying each of the four books.  Check out this and other reading plans via over here.
  2. Begin a two year advanced theological program in January, learn even more about Him and about serving Him.  
  3. Blog here at least 3 times a week.  
  4. Lose weight via exercise and eating better. I've gotta do it.   This will be a separate blog post with greater detail soon.
So what about you?  What are your goals for 2011?  What plans are you making now to help yourself reach those goals? 

 Where there is no vision, the people perish.  ~Proverbs 29:18A

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why should you "Be on My Team"?

I must be honest up front - I'm watching the tv show A-Team via Netflix while I'm composing this blog.  I remember it being this amazing show I loved as a youngster back in the day, and my recent curiosity was peaked when the new movie was released this year.  Yes, it's a bit cheesy, but the tv show is still fun to watch. Who was your favorite character?  You've gotta love Howling Mad Murdock, my personal fav!

On a slightly related note (stick with me here), my wife Becky and I are currently conducting pre-marital counseling for two different couples.  One of the couples is about my age (I'm 36 years old), while the other couple includes one of the seniors from our college ministry.  The couples share many similarities, yet each are unique.  One of the couples is just starting off, while the other couple has over a decade's worth of additional life's adventures.

During the time we spend with each couple, we share what God thinks about marriage, the roles of the husband and the woman, as well as discuss issues that could come up at some point.  One of the phrases Becky and I use is "Be on My Team"  (Team - there's the subtle A-Team tie-in).  It refers to both of us being united - one mind, one body, one voice.

Becky and I don't always have to agree - in fact, there are times we are exact opposites in thought.  But to those around us, we are united.  No one needs to know that we don't agree - it's our private business.  Couples can get into trouble when they start bringing other people into their squabbles.  It's easy for a partner to forgive another; it can be much harder for a spouse's best friend or family member to forgive and forget.

This phrase doesn't just apply to marital or dating relationships.  Think of how much better life would be if coworkers were on each others team vs. stepping on each other, trying to get ahead.  Or what about a group of friends?  Or church members?

What would the world look like if we we all on the same team - His team?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Are We There Yet?

At some point during this past week, I saw a commercial on TBS for a comedy called Are We There Yet?, which is directed by none other than Ice-Cube.  I'm gonna guess it's based on the movie that Cube starred in, also named Are We There Yet?.  It's probably a hoot  - it stars Terry Crews (no relation that I'm aware of) who is hilarious when he's not busy intimidating people.

Growing up as a fan of rap, though, I recognize that this is NOT the same Ice-Cube from back in the day.  His lyrics and lifestyle told the story of a rough and tough young man who was to be feared, not laughed at.  And he's not alone. Fellow hardcore rapper Ice-T now plays a police detective on Law &Order: SVU; wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars in a movie where he plays a tooth fairy, etc., etc.  These hardcore guys I grew up with have turned soft as they've gotten older.  They have changed.

I would dare say we have all changed as we've gotten older, or matured.  If you have Christ in your life, though, there's a different type of change.  We've not just matured, or adapted our outlook to life's different stages.  Christ in us means we are a brand new person.  Our lives are changed. Our interests are renewed. Our outlook on life is reinvented.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 shares with us the following - But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord - who is the Spirit - makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.

So how is your life different?  If you are a changed person, where's the fruit, and what does it look like?   In your relationship with Him, Are YOU There Yet?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who or what makes you say OMG?

This last week of work was probably the most frustrating/draining/overwhelming week I've ever encountered in my adult work life.  My current employer was purchased by a competitor, and they are completely changing the way we do business.  We're moving from a Windows-based computer system to a DOS-based system from the dark ages.  What use to take 8 steps now takes 13, and in those extra steps my office will be responsible for the destruction of several acres of trees each week in paper wasted.  My comfortable 8 hour workday became a hectic12+ hour workday.

In all of that, though, I somehow survived.  In fact, outside of work, I actually had a wonderful week.  The Lord graciously knew I would be unavailable and took away my teaching commitments for the week before I even knew His plan.  My time with Him was refreshing and rewarding.  I had the chance to share Jesus with several people who may or may not have a relationship with Him.  While at home, the time my wife and I had together was most enjoyable.

I spent a bit over an hour driving to Raleigh each day for training.  In my drive I had some wonderful chats with God, and listened to some great tunes.  I spent quite a bit of time worshipping through the Jars of Clay's album Good Monsters (one of the greatest album's ever imho).  I love love love the song "Oh My God," and probably listened to it 25 times during the past week.  Watch this video to hear and see what they are sharing with us.

In an interview on, the band expressed the following:
"OMG is a mediation on the reality of the power of this phrase.  All the different ways it is uttered. It is so universal, I dare say that these words from from the lips of every man whether he is cursing God or praising him, gasping in horror or in joy.  It is a meditation on all the reasons that a man might cry out 'Oh My God' and the end is left silent so that we might hear whether or not Gos is going to answer."

I had a choice - to thank Him or to curse Him. I could praise Him for all that He has done and is doing, or I could choose to say woe is me.   Did I always do what was right?  Sadly, no.  But overall, and in the end, He is gracious enough to bless me beyond what I deserve.  Why not just suck it up and do what I'm getting paid to do anyways?
"Oh my God, can I complain?  You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief."  

What about you?  When you say "Oh My God," what do you mean?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Create vs. Consume?

After 36 years now, I've come to realize that I'm not a very artistic person.  I am greatly limited in my abilities to draw, or paint, or create music, etc.  In fact, this accompanying picture is a sketch entitled Dinosaur Jumping on a Trampoline.  Granted, I was under the time constraints of the game Telephone Pictionary, but I believe my boss has art from his young son decorating his office wall that makes my work pale in comparison. 

However, thus far, I have not tried to develop any creative abilities.  I've not taken a class on photography, read a book on drawaing, or even approached my uber-artistic wife to teach me something inventive.  For most of the previous 36+ years of my life, I've been ok with my limitations. 

I have been a consumer of creativity.  I constantly have music blaring.  I am really hitting my stride as a reader And even  take my wife to an art museum and had a blast enjoying individual creative endeavours. I adore learning new and exciting things, which include actively learning more about the One who loves me unconditionally.   
I just think that if our heavenly Father is the Master Artist who created everything that we see and appreciate, and I am created in His likeness, then there's gotta be some untapped vein of artistic ability in me.  I want to be more than just a consumer - I want to be a creator too.

So I am now on a quest to find that vein.  I want to improve and broaden my creative talents.  Part of the reason of why I blog is to become a better purveyor of stories and ideas.  Obviously, it's a work in progress, but I am enjoying it more as time progresses (hope you are too).

My question to you - What's your artistic release, and what would you recommend for me to explore creativily as a novice?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Germany surrendered on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

I have a deep respect and fascination for those who serve or have served this great nation as part of our military.  To constantly put yourselves in harms way, with little appreciation or compensation, is admirable.  The freedom we enjoy as Americans comes at a cost.  Ronald Reagan said it best with this quote - "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

Having not served, I know I cannot appreciate all that is involved with this level of sacrifice.  I can read books, listen to those who have served, and watch movies and documentaries - but without being there, I cannot fully digest this level of commitment.

Having said that, there are some movies than can give us a glimpse of what it's like to be involved in battle.  One of the more visually descriptive movies of World War II, especially the Normandy landing, is Saving Private Ryan.  I remember that, as it was released, the intense opening sequence (which cost $12 million dollars and required 1,500 extras to recreate) was causing veterans to experience intense flashbacks.  I highly recommend this movie if you want to see a bit of what war is like, but be warned - it's intense.

In the movie, Tom Hanks portrays the laid back Captain John Miller.  He and his men are charged with the task of finding a needle in a haystack, one Private James Ryan, who parachuted in somewhere unknown. This team is not excited about the task, and bickering breaks out along the way.  Watch this clip to see how Tom Hanks' character handles this situation and explains his thoughts on what was going on around them.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

So to all of those who have or are actively serving in the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy, we, as a nation, say thanks.  One day alone does not begin to echo the sentiment of a grateful country, but Veterans Day is a great place to start.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words....?

I find it interesting that, as the years advance, I learn that things I had previously thought to be accurate are actually incorrect.  As a child, at some point, I realized Santa wasn't real, and that the Tooth Fairy was just my parents slipping some money under my pillow as I slept.  In my teen years, somewhere in that time of confusion and awkwardness, I discovered I didn't know everything (something I still have to be reminded of at times), and that my parents actually did have a clue.  As a married adult, I've learned that piling up credit card debt is not as much fun as it sounds, and that digging out of that is much more painful then the frivolous purchases that have long been forgotten. 

Anyone remember the childhood rhyme - Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?  I dare say we've all quoted that saying at some point in our lives.  It sounds simple, but is it?  I can still remember specific moments when things that were said about me hurt (to be fair, I did give people plenty of opportunities).  I believe we all have those memories.  Maybe we still have those hurts.  Maybe things said recently have cut like a knife.

That's the easy part - remembering how you were hurt.  But now try this exercise - Think of words you've said that have hurt others?  Oh, now THAT stings.  Now instead of being the victim we are the offender. We are the cause of the pain others feel because of the words we've chosen.

On September 2, 2005, in front of a live nation audience, Kanye West proclaimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people."  Those are strong and powerful words.  Once shared, there was no taking them back either.  How did those words resonate with President Bush?  In a recent interview with Matt Lauer, he shared that he views those comments as "One of the most disgusting moments in my presidency."  Imagine that.  After all that happened during his presidency, THIS is one of the worst things that happened during his tenure?

Proverbs 15:4 reminds us - "Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."  Don't tell me words can't hurt.  They can devastate.  But they can also build up and encourage and spread love.  It's your choice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Go and Be Intentional

Earlier this week, I witnessed a motor vehicle crash happen - I believe that this was only the second time in my life that I've watched the actual event unfold.  A car decided to turn left directly in front of a local deputy sheriff's car.  Fortunately both were only doing 20-25 miles per hour in a congested area of downtown, and there were no injuries to report.

Getting into an crash with a law enforcement officer has got to be about the worst possible way to start a day.  Accidents are bad enough, much less to do it with one of those responsible for responding to an accident (and determining fault and issuing tickets).  Why not just hit an ambulance?  Were there no school buses in the area? 
These crashes are called accidents for a reason - generally speaking, most crashes happen accidentally.  Sure there may be extenuating circumstances that lead up to the crash (distracted drivers, sudden surprises, impairment, etc), but most drivers don't physically engage other vehicles intentionally.

There is no such thing as a coincidence.  I believe that each day we are introduced to people who can benefit from our positive impact.  It's whether we choose to be a blessing, a curse, or just remain silent that dictates our impact on each person.  Doing nothing comes naturally and requires no additional effort.  Impacting people, however, is difficult, requires practice and preparation, and sometimes involves rejection.  Yet there is no greater investment we can make than intentionally impacting others positively for His Kingdom's purpose.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Election Day is tomorrow - No more ads!!!!!

Unless you've just returned from the moon (wait - didn't someone just tweet from space? - there must be internet access up there too), you know that tomorrow is Election Day.  There is no way you could have missed all of the mailers, the signs, the commercials, the advertisements describing in detail why one candidate is the best choice for their particular office.  Tomorrow is the day where all the wrongs from the previous elections will be righted, where new candidates will make all kinds of crazy improvements to the system, etc. etc. etc. I personally look forward to the days after Election Day where commercials go back to just being about cars and medicines and not smearing those running for office, a time where our landscape returns to fall colors and not political signage.

Regardless of which candidate you support, or which party you are loyal to, I do ask that you consider candidates based on their beliefs and views vs. whether they wear a donkey or an elephant badge on their jacket. Maybe - gasp! - they aren't even part of the Democratic or Republican parties!  (Yes, it's ok to think outside the box).  If you are planning to vote, then do your homework.  Your Sunday newspaper (that dirty printed paper you use to pack the forthcoming Christmas packages to mail to far away friends and relatives) should have enough information regarding the major stands of each candidate running.  You can also utilize technology to help you cast an informed vote tomorrow.

Remember that we as believers serve a Mighty and Powerful King.  One day He will return and set up His kingdom.  Until then, He commands us to respect those who are in authority here on earth - whether we approve of their policies or not (1 Peter 2:13-14).  In fact, Romans 13 tells us that God has placed leaders to serve Him as His servants.  Scandalous, I know.  You might not agree with each and every person in authority, but they are there because God placed them there.  Please leave the hate and disrespect behind. 

I serve a risen King who transcends political and religious affiliations!  How about you?      

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wonderful King

So tonight is the David Crowder Band concert here in Greensboro, NC.  I am uber excited about getting to see them in concert!  Their music is utterly enjoyable and extremely worshipful.  However it's their creativity that I enjoy most.  This is a group of believers creating on the highest level, and doing it with excellence. After all, anything done in His name, or to His glory, requires our best effort.

When you get a chance, read through Solomon's effort to build the Temple.  It's found in chapters 2 through 4 of 2 Chronicles. I've been to the Biltmore House, one of the finest residences ever constructed in the United States. No expense was spared in the building of this wonderful North Carolina home.  But it pales in comparison to what was used in the building of the Temple.  I'm not going to spoil your read of 2 Chronicles - but check this out - The Most Holy Place was overlaid with 23 tons of fine gold!  The nails used were 20 ounces of gold EACH!  Talk about building a structure that's as worthy of His presence as humanly possible!

1 Corinthians 10:31 reads - So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  He deserves our excellence, nothing less.  Where in your life today are you giving Him your best, and where do you hold back from full-out surrendering to Him?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm baaaacccckkkkk!!!

So here's the deal - I've neglected this blog way too much these past couple of weeks.  Not just neglected, but ignored.  It's hard being a bivocational associate pastor (meaning I am working a full time job in addition to ministry), but life is hard and busy.  I've used that as an excuse lately, but refuse to continue down that road.  I may not post as many times, or as in depth, but i will be more faithful in this endeavor.  

How in the world are you doing?  Are you encouraged or in need or encouragement?  Are you happy or sad?  Where is your focus right now?

Today in reading through the book of Psalms I came across a great, warm reminder of Who is in charge.  Psalm 28:7 reads - The LORD is my strength and shield.  I trust in Him will all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.  What a great voice of encouragement.  Go ahead and enjoy today - He is in control!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spiritual Gifts

This Sunday we at the Journey Church will begin wrapping up our series on spiritual.  It has been a tremendous time of self discovery for those who are just beginning to explore or define their God-given gifts to be used in His service. 
It’s also been interesting for me to re-evaluate my particular gifts and to see the growth and changes that have taken place in my own life since I originally took this evaluation a couple of years ago.  For so long I had heard “fix your weaknesses, fix your weaknesses.”  It wasn’t until recently that I heard “focus on your strengths and not on your weaknesses.” What a concept!   
I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to be working in areas where you are not gifted.  For example, I know I have no place working with babies in the nursery.  That is an entire set of personality traits and abilities that I do not possess.  For some people, though – this is the holy grail of ministry. 
Both Pastor Keith and I have enjoyed having people verbalizing their gifts to us.  There’s nothing cooler than having someone share what their gifts are, and seeing that person live clearly in that skill set.  If you would like to receive a free copy of our spiritual gifts inventory worksheet just drop me a message here.  I'll make sure you get a copy, and it will help you have a better understanding as to the gifts God has entrusted to you.  

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rock On

Last night I attended a concert featuring Skillet and Creed, two bands who know how to rock the message of God. Each band played their hits, as well as lesser known songs, which the crowd enthusiastically welcomed. It was an awesome concert, with two new-to-me songs standing out. Both songs have a deeper meaning explained by each lead singer.

Skillet’s lead singer John Cooper told the story of a young girl sharing a story of thoughts of suicide with him. John did a great job of storytelling, but I’ll allow the song to tell the story. Listen to The Last Night with lyrics here.

Then Scott Stapp of Creed shared how at age 17 he started running away – from reality, from responsibility, from God. He ran until he was too tired to run. It was at this point he found the inspiration to pen the song Faceless Man. Listen to it with lyrics here.

May each of us find places to share God so clearly with those that need to hear, no matter our profession or skill set.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Sacrifice/Hero

Tonight is the concert I've been waiting to come around for a while now - Creed along with Skillet.  I've been a Creed fan for years - they were a local band from back home in Orlando as they were making it big.  I worked with someone who was good friends with the band, and she introduced me to their music.  As a band they blew up big, blew up, and are putting the pieces back together quite nicely. 

Skillet has been around for as long as Creed (about 15 years), but are recently garnering mainstream national attention.  They are a Grammy nominated and Dove award winning band fronted by a married couple.  You can hear their music on the local hard rock station, on ABC for college football, as well as the World Wrestling Entertainment venues. 

Both bands include Jesus followers who chose to play relevant music vs. focusing on just the Christian crowd.  Creed has been called a Christian band due to some of their lyrics, but they chose to be a band of Christians.  Skillet makes no apologies about being a Christian band, having a loyal following chasing each and every move they make. 

My favorite song from Creed has to be My Sacrifice, while Hero is my fav from Skillet.  Listen to them here and here.  Enjoy your Friday folks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gone With the Wind

OK - I'll be honest - I enjoy a good movie. My wife Becky and I generally watch 1-2 movies a week, depending on how busy we are at the time. I enjoy unplugging for an hour or two, or being challenged, or made to think, or just being entertained. The beauty of the movie industry is that a well-written and well-produced movie can take you places that in reality you’ll never visit.

This morning it was reported that Gwilym Hughes had passed away. Who was Gwilym? He was the Guinness World Record holder for having viewed more films than anyone else. So how many screenplays did he watch in his lifetime? How about over 28,000! During his lifetime, that translated to two films every 3 days.

Let’s look at the math of that figure. 28,000 flicks, averaging 1.5 hours, totals 42,000 hours, or over 2.5 million minutes spent watching films. That’s a grand total of 1,750 days, or almost a full 5 years of his life spent watching motion pictures. Look at that total again – he spent an estimated 5 years of every minute and every hour of each day watching movies! I guess I have no shot at shattering that record – and I’m ok with that reality.

Let’s read a passage – John 4:31-38. Click here to read. In verse 35 Jesus proclaims that the “Fields….are already white for harvest.” He was not referring to anyone’s garden – He was referring to lives that needed only what He was able to offer. Just a few verses earlier Jesus was conversing with the woman at the well. During this conversation Jesus told her “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

I will be the first to admit I sometimes struggle with balancing everything going on in my life. But I’ve been called to a harvesting party, and it’s a calling I cannot ignore. It’s a calling that strengthens me daily as I live in His power which He so graciously shares with me. I am not the only one called though – if you are a child of Christ, the call is also to you. We as a body of believers are to be reaching out to those who still need to have a living relationship with God our Savior.

So how good of a job are you doing balancing His work vs. your life? What kind of impact could Gwilym have had if he had spent some of that full 5 years sharing Christ with others vs. watching movies? I am all for some down time – it’s even a mandate from God – but too much time spent on me takes away from others around me who need what the Lord has to offer.

Lord may I be diligent with the time You’ve give me each day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Touch of the Master's Hand

As a child growing up, my church would welcome travelling music groups from various Christian colleges.  I always enjoyed these times - mainly because my family would always host a couple of the students overnight.  For some reason, two particular songs sticks out in my mind. 

The first song is a parody of sorts - the funny song each group was required to sing.  This song was called I Hate Liver (I personally love me some liver and onions, but I know I am in the minority)- which was a funny song.  I remember this song because I was a senior in high school, and I would go on to attend the college that this particular group was representing.  I would hear this song several more times while acquiring my undergraduate degree.  "Oh I hate liver, liver makes me quiver, it makes me wanna shrivel up and die...."

The second song was when I was much younger.  If you know me, you probably realize that my memory isn't super sharp.  That this song has stuck with me for 25 years blows me away.  It's called The Touch Of The Masters Hand.  It was based on a poem by Myra Brooks Welch, which goes like this -

It was battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought
It hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.

"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three".

But, No,
From the room far back a grey haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet,
As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.

The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."

And many a man with life out of tune,
All battered with bourbon and gin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.

He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Master's Hand.

2 Corinthians 5:17 shares with us - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  We are a new person.  One of the greatest testimonies a person can have is a life changed through the power of God alone.  We can claim no power over the new person we've become.  It is the touch of the Master's Hand that creates who we are - no longer a slave to the past, but alive and free to serve Him.  What a might God we serve! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

paul david hewson - rock rebel

I enjoy people who are counter-culture with a purpose. People who are driven to be clear voices for what is right, what is good - but do it in a way that is unconventional. Radical! Have you heard of Shane Claiborne - author of The Irresistible Revolution? While in college, Shane interned at Willow Creek Community Church - one of the 10 largest churches in the US. He would have had a foot in the door in most churches with this pedigree - yet he decided to shun conventional "religious" wisdom. He moved in with the poor and destitute in Philadelphia, because he heeded a call to minister to those people. Not minister from a distance, but in and among those who needed what he had to offer them.

Another radical guy out there is Paul David Hewson. Growing up in Ireland during the 1970's, he eschewed conventional wisdom, rebelled against the religious culture at the time and accepted Christ as his personal Savior. He was a musician, as were 3 of his friends. Together with fellow Christians Larry Mullen, Jr. and David Howell Evans (a.k.a. “The Edge”), Paul (a.k.a. “Bono”) and these guys formed the rock band U2.

I am currently reading a book called Walk On - The Spiritual Journey of U2. The book is written by a Presbyterian minister from Ireland named Steve Stockman. In the book Steve uses quotes and interviews from those who were instrumental in the beginning and development of the band, as well as from the band members themselves, to shine a light on the religious overtones of the works of U2. He pours through twenty years worth of material, and shows that God is absolutely using these musicians to accomplish His work.

One of my favorite songs from U2 is I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. Listen to a live version here. In it, one verse reads -

You broke the bonds and
You loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it

I know of One who did such things – Jesus! Psalm 116:16 states - O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains. And 1 Peter 2:24 reads - He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.

The band receives criticism from the Christian camps, saying that they should be more vocal in their beliefs. And some of that criticism may be true. When they were more vocal in the early days, Bono grew tired of the constant criticism from the religious pundits.  Bono has probably done more to help the destitute, sick, and abused than any single denomination has or will accomplish. His fame brings a voice, a voice to help.

For a recent concert, U2 decided it would be cool to do a show in the Rose Bowl. So as part of their 360 tour in 2009, they sold tickets to the Rose Bowl, as well as streamed that concert live on YouTube. Needless to say, in excess of 97,000 tickets sold, with over 10 millions views on YouTube in the first week alone. Can you name any Contemporary Christian Band doing that today?

I like to think that bands like POD, Creed, Skillet – some examples of whom have crossed over to the mainstream music world - realized from the example set by Bono and company. Maximum impact requires maximum exposure. Be unconventional, be radical. Why not aim to impact the whole world vs. just the Christian community? Shouldn’t that be our goal as Christians – to impact as many as possible?  REBEL!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Produce vs. Consume

I have a simple question for each of us to ponder, and the question is this - Are you a consumer or producer?

Simple enough, right?

At work, do you create new and original thoughts, or live off of the old, crusty ideas from others in the past? As a student, are you constantly looking to increase your knowledge, or just skating by? Is your walk with Christ refreshing and new to you each day, or has it gotten to be "the routine"? When you spend time with Him, is your focus on glorifying Him, or is it a laundry list of ways He can help you?

I recently had a conversation with one of our college graduates. This person shared with me that they are disappointed in not going back to school this fall - not because of the fun times at college and being with friends, but because they are genuinely missing the opportunity to learn new things in the classroom.

Colossians 1:10 reads this way - Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better (emphasis added).

Are you consuming God? Is He consuming you? Is your Christian life all about having an outstretched hand, asking God for your next blessing? The beauty of being overwhelmed in Him is that He through you will produce a variety of fruits. These fruits will be a blessing not just in your life, but in the lives of those around you influenced by the contagiousness of a Christ-like life. If you want to mature in your walk with Him, spend some time today getting to know God better and better.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Last night Becky and I had a friend over to the house for dinner. While we were dining we streamed Pandora through the surround sound. The particular channel we were listening to is my wife's channel, aptly called Becky's Happy Music, with upbeat tunes from mainly the early to mid 1990's (think Mmmbop, Hootie, BackStreet Boys, NSync, etc.) These were songs that each of us knew and loved and we had a blast listening to some great older tunes.

I thoroughly enjoy how a particular song can take me back to a specific time in my life. I have plenty of songs that take me to a place in my past, and generally invoke fond memories. For me, one such song that takes me back is Wipeout.

In 1987 the Beach Boys joined the Fat Boys to collaborate on a hit (it was a hit - on Billboard it reached #12 and #10 on the R&B chart) song named Wipeout. Watch the video here. This song has it all - a familiar tune, great beats, a funny video - this is one of my jams!

I still remember discovering this song for the first time. I believe it was my sophomore year of college, at Pizza Hut for dinner with most of the guys - Paul, Scott, Travis, Neal and Korey and maybe a few others. And at this Pizza Hut they had a jukebox, and on this jukebox was this song Wipeout. I still remember playing it, and playing it like a billion times in a row because I enjoyed it so much.

Oh the memories that flood back from those days at college. And every now and then a song like Wipeout takes me back to some great memories with some amazing people.

So my question to you - what song do you enjoy that takes you back?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bring the Rain

Well, what a roller coaster of a week it has been for me. This past week was one of the difficult ones. Maybe because I was gonna be preaching today, maybe it was just a post vacation let down, or whatever – but this was a rough week. I’d normally think the devil was trying to derail me from being focused on today’s message, but I’m getting away from that train of thought. I think too many times he gets underserved credit. Suffice to say it was an emotionally and physically draining week.

This past Monday morning, a Journey church friend posted on her Facebook page the following brief message: “bring the rain.” Since I am the guy who has a song for almost everything, I quickly posted a link to a video on YouTube for MercyMe’s song also titled Bring the Rain. I probably listened to this song about 30 times this week. (Yeah, I every now and then I get a bit obsessive-compulsive.)

I encourage you to listen here to the song before proceeding. Now look at the chorus –

“Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain.”

You know, my week had more than its fair share of rain, at least in my eyes. But who am I to judge how much rain my life needed this week, or any week? I know for a fact God better understands how much I can handle, and gives me more than that so that I have to rely on Him and not just my own power.

So fast forward back to this morning…. Our final song leading up to me preaching was – surprise, surprise – Bring the Rain. I knew this since Wednesday when our worship leader Andy (read about this great guy here) sent out the schedule for the service. This was not something we spoke about or coordinated – it was a coincidence. Only with God there are no coincidences, only opportunities for Him to be glorified. And as the worship team led us into this song, I wept. Not because of the rain, but because of my opportunity to praise Him.

I then got up and spoke about how God uses people – committed people, courageous people, and common people. I shared how God allowed Gideon and 300 soldiers to kill 120,000 hostiles without raising their swords. We talked about how an 80-year-old guy named Daniel entered a pit with ravenous lions to be punished for not worshipping a false god, only to come out unscathed but covered in lions hair (because I think they really shed, and I know Daniel played with those lions – I would have).

I now get this song – completely. Kinda like -I once was blind, but now I see. It has taken on a whole new meaning after today’s service. It reminds me of a quote I discovered reading the book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson in preparation for my message today: “When you worship, it produces shock waves that register on the Richter scale.”

“Jesus, bring the rain”.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)

So Becky and I spent this past weekend visiting with my family and friends in Central Florida.  What a great time, visiting with most of my immediate family as well as just relaxing and enjoying ourselves.  Last week was my dad's 60th birthday (yes, he was really old when he and mom had me), so we celebrated as a family Saturday night. 

You see, I come from a fairly small family.  All told we had 14 people celebrating my dads birthday - 2 grandmas, my parents, my sister and her husband, my uncle and his wife, my other aunt, my cousin and her husband, my other cousin, and my wife and I.  We had so much fun, watching dad open his presents, reminiscing and catching up, and eating.

Actually eating was a big part of this mini vacation.  For dad's party we had Sonnys BBQ, along with a few additional add-ons from the fam.  Becky and I each had 4 Slurpees from 7-11 - I love those things.  We also had some Publix subs for lunch when we were at the beach.  And Grandma Leah had to make her marvelous homemade chicken and dumplings.  These are all things that I miss about eating in Florida.

We also spent like a quarter of our time in the water - either at New Smyrna Beach or in my parents pool.  The beach was so peaceful - no tourists, just a few locals.   I'm a local - having partaken in it for the better part of 25 years of my life.  The water was freakishly cold considering we were in Florida at the end of July.  And the ocean was freakishly clear - we saw several schools of fish, and a crab.  How funny that we just watched the original Jaws a couple of nights before going to the beach....

But now we are back home in North Carolina.  As the song says, Back To Life, Back To Reality.   The work that I left behind on Thursday and Friday was still there waiting for me.  I am now almost caught up, more or less.  Yet, you see, I would trade it all over again to spend time with my family.  To eat all of the foods that I miss here (I forgot to mention Sweet Tomatoes and Krystals - yummie!).  To spend time relaxing in the fresh and salt water.  It was well worth it.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Well our Sunday reveal service has come and gone. Inside of our water bottles was contained enough money to pay off our carpet debt as well as build necessary (and long overdue) walls to subdivide parts of the children's area! O Praise Him! The morning service was electric - people were excited about being a part of something bigger than just us.

Becky and I were fortunate enough to be able to sit with seven recent graduates and one of our seniors! God blessed us with a local wedding, which brought several out of area friends to town for this specific weekend. Always good to see visiting family.

The music was phenomenal as usual. We at the Journey are blessed by outstanding musicians and vocalists who let God use them to guide and lead us as we worship our Father. Oh, and the next time we sing Marvelous Light I am gonna lead everyone in raising their hands and spinning around as the song illustrates.

And we got to eat afterwards - one of the few tells that we are indeed a Baptist church. We dined on spaghetti, fresh salad and garlic bread, as well as all of the desserts you could eat. One thing about church socials - people always break out their best recipes to showcase their cooking and baking talents.

But in all of this, the most important point of this weekend, and the seven other weeks leading up to it, was identifying where our faith as a body is - more specifically, though, how strong is MY faith? Pastor Keith did a great job developing the truths about faith, but where am I at with processing and digesting the truth? What have I entrusted to Him, and what am I still clinging to, unwilling to release control?

Psalm 34:8 tells us, "Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!" I have witnessed His power and ability multiple times in my life. I've tasted His comfort, His protection, His discipline, His love.

Oh Lord, may I give up all that I have, so that you may use me as You see fit.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

O Praise Him

Today is gonna be a great day - i won't even have to use my AK.  Praising God doesn't just happen on Sunday mornings, or at church.  So just sit back and enjoy this wonderful video of a guy walking through the Big Apple praising Him.  Watch it by clicking here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's Finally Friday

So it's Friday, and that's a great thing. This is gonna be an awesome weekend! At church this coming Sunday we are wrapping up our faith campaign – 8 weeks of diving in deeper learning about the topic of faith. During this time we have been collecting money to retire our carpet debt. We’ve had people share in the experience of stepping out and giving over and beyond their customary tithing. Young and old, church members and visitors, college students away for the summer, people who have not stepped foot in our building yet – everyone has had a chance to share in something much bigger than just giving money.  This Sunday we will open up the 5 gallon water jugs, count, and then celebrate what God has entrusted to us. 

Becky and I also have the chance to catch up with several of our college students this weekend, some who are close by, and some who are travelling here this weekend for a wedding. It seems hard to believe, but the fall semester gets cranking up in about 1 month.  I know some students aren't too excited about hitting the books so soon, but I am anticipating a fall semester of God doing great things through and to our college ministry.  

This wedding is a great segue into today’s fun music video. Most of you have probably already watched this video, but it’s so much fun that it’s ok to watch it again. It's called the JK Wedding Entrance Dance - the whole wedding party dancing down to the front of the church to begin the ceremony.  My favorite part is when the camera pans back to the bride and she struts in, dancing just like everyone else. Enjoy it here!

So that's my weekend - whatcha got going on that you want to share?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No More Tears

Recently I had a conversation with someone about crying, specifically crying during the musical portion of the Sunday morning service. We were discussing how this can be embarrassing, and how we as individuals are sometimes unable to control our emotions.

I will start by saying that up until a recent heart change I rarely ever cried. Maybe at a good movie (I shed tears every time I watch the ending of Rudy, as the crowd is chanting "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy"). But many guys will admit to that being an emotional moment. Have you watched the movie Taking Chance with Kevin Bacon? My floodgates were open and active all throughout the movie.

Lately, though, I have trouble with certain worship songs. When we as a body sing "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin, I often find myself crying, and at times not just crying, but sobbing. There's this video out there to a song that means alot to me too. It's for the song "Everything" by the group Lifehouse. In this particular video, it's the dramatic display of what the song is talking about that gets me. Watch it here before you read any further - I can wait.

Did you feel anything at the 4:34 mark, where the character representing Jesus moves in to shield the young lady from all that is not Godly? What about at 4:53 - where this same actor representing God throws down all the evil influences in her life? I rarely ever make it through this particular video without some tears being shed.

But these tears - it's not based on emotions alone. I've been in church services where the music, lighting, and special effects are designed to "create" an emotional response. But not at the Journey Church - that's not our desire. We strive for authenticity - in our personal relationships, as well as in how we relate to our Saviour.

My tears only come from a thankfulness to God for all He has done for me - a sinner so unworthy. That He still cares for me after all this time still amazes me. That He never leaves me, but is constantly protecting me from all that is evil, including myself. And not that He cares for me, but one day I will rise up with Him. His Word speaks to me each day about all that He has done, and is doing, on my behalf. Just today I read Luke 7:13 where the heart of Jesus was overwhelmed with compassion for a widow who had lost her only son. Overwhelmed with compassion? After all we have done to Him? Wow!

No more tears? At the least not here on earth, Ozzie. I am not ashamed of my tears, because of the meaning behind each and every last one that falls across my cheeks.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Take the Money and Run

So as I get older and wiser, I am becoming more and more like the cranky old guy down the street that would not let you into his yard to get the baseball that accidently landed back there. The same old guy who compares current events to "back in my day".

Was anyone else annoyed with the whole drama surrounding where Lebron James would sign during this recent off season? I mean, how many websites, blogs, billboards, etc. were dedicated to tracking his every move? Analyst who analyzed every word Lebron spoke - trying to decipher if he was leaning one way or the other. So many rumors, all settled with a live 1 hour televised circus in which he announced his decision to the whole world.

Sure there were other free agents - Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh come to mind. But the world revolved around one player who was gonna take his team to the glory land - a NBA Championship. It was all about "The King".

And then there was Kevin Durant. He was the NBA rookie of the year in 2008, and the league scoring champ for the 2009-2010 season. He wears the #35 to honor his former AAU coach and mentor Charles Craig who was murdered at the age of 35. While all of the hoopla was surrounding the free agents during this summer, he ever so quietly let the world know of his decision to re-sign for 5 more years with the Oklahoma City with a 139 character tweet.

I'm not saying Durant is better than Lebron, or that I really care all that much about the NBA. But i fully appreciate the way Mr. Durant handled his business as much as I despise the way Mr. James handled his decision. Can anyone imagine MJ calling up Karl Malone to join forces? Can you imagine Jordan bolting from the windy city to join the Jazz to have a better chance to win a ring? He would rather crush Karl that unite with him. In the end, sports is becoming more and more about the business of sports vs. the purity of sports. It's all about the benjamins, the glory, and less about competing to be the best you can be.

And please don't get me started on ESPN ....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Be Still and Know

So this weekend Becky and I had great plans to spend a full day Saturday exploring Raleigh, getting to reconnect with some of our college students and explore a city that we've not yet visited. We had great plans - the Imax, the art museum, some geocaching, and eating at Sweet Tomatoes restaurant. We even had Scarlett lined up to swing by the house to look in on the pups so we could maximize our time over there.

Unfortunately it was not meant to be. Our minds were willing, but our bodies weren't. We are both exploring how to balance full time jobs and our time leading in our church body. For me, I love a busy schedule of doing things - of spending time with God, of investing in relationships, of planning and preparing whatever it is I am teaching on, etc. However I am still learning how to balance everything to remain effective.

Psalm 23 talks speaks about the Lord being our Shepherd. It goes on to explain all that He is doing for us. Verses 2-3a shares "He lets me rest in green meadows, He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength."

So yesterday we were relatively still. We rested in green meadows, and strolled along peaceful streams. God even blessed us with the perfect weather for napping - stormy and cloudy. We did make a run to the farmers market, as well as Ed McKays for a couple of used cds and books. But for the most part we let both our minds and bodies relax.

It reminds me a song from back in the day - Steven Curtis Chapman's Be Still and Know. I've not listened to SCC in a while, but today this song was refreshing to me. Give it a listen here- may it be a blessing to you too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Living on the Edge

I admit it - while summer is my absolute favorite season, part of me aches for fall. Not because of the weather, or the changing of the leaves - that's all good - but I enjoy football. Growing up in Florida I was able to watch 3 college fb teams continuously play for national championships which helped shape my love of the game. I'm the odd guy who doesn't get too excited about March madness, but give me football at any level from high school to the pros and I am happy.

I am a Florida State Seminoles fan - kinda like a fish out of water here in North Carolina. Even in my home state we always play second fiddle to the hated Florida Gators. But in my younger days it was easier to deal with because we had a pretty outstanding team. From 1987 until 2000 we (cause me being a fan was crucial in each and every victory) won at least 10 games each year and never finished out of the AP Top 5 poll. For 14 straight years! During that span we had a won-loss record of 152-19-1 (with 11 of those losses were by 7 points or less). We won 2 National Championships (and played for 3 others) and had 2 Heisman trophy award winners.

Unfortunately that and a dollar will buy me a Slurpee. As a team they cannot look to the past glory of the program. By now it's so far gone that many of these young players haven't known FSU as the powerhouse it once was. As a fan I can reflect fondly on the past, but I am all about the here and now. How's our QB (Christian Ponder - Heisman trophy candidate) doing? What's the defense looking like? How will our new coach - Jimbo Fisher - handle replacing an icon of the game? I am living on the edge right now - our first kickoff isn't for another 52 days. Let's go summer - hurry up! I am more than ready for that precious first whistle being blown.

But you know what - it's not time for kickoff yet. The teams aren't ready, the networks are not prepared with their game plans for televising the contest. The fields aren't ready. Much of what makes game day special is not in place yet, and won't be ready for many weeks. Everything has to happen in the appropriate time. So often I wish I could fast forward my life to the good parts - usually past the workday and to the work nights or the weekends - but that's not possible. It's not practical. Sometimes anticipation heightens the appreciation of the event. Like Christmas time as a young child. And my senses are all jacked up about college football.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday I'm In Love

This is a song that celebrates two of my favorite things - the love of my life Becky, and the weekend. I generally have this song and title as my status on Facebook on Fridays, cause it's just a fun song celebrating good times.

My wife and I met in college, the last semester of our senior year. I didn't really even know who she was, and barely talked to her in the one and only class we shared together. Which is weird - our college was a school of about 3,000 students at that time. How had our paths not crossed previously? She knew who I was - I was loud and obnoxious, with crazy hair. I kinda stood out back then. I sat next to her roommate Marlin in chapel (again and again I will reiterate that nothing happening is by chance or luck). If it were not for Marlin, we would have probably never connected. I thank God for you Marlin - being all pushy and bossing me to ask her out.

We only "dated" for 1 week while on campus, then we went our separate ways - her to Pennsylvania, and I returned to Orlando. This was back before the internet was created by Al Gore, so we spent copious amounts of time and money on long distance phone calls. And hand written letters. Oh, how many letters we wrote to each other (and still have tucked safely away). We really got to know each other through the distance - about 10 months total before she moved to Florida.

Now fast forward - it's been 14 years, 2 months and 1 week since our first official date. We've had a great deal of journeys, of most excellent times, and a few rough moments too. Along the way, she's been my best friend, my lover, my true love. I love you my Kadida- always have, always will.

And Fridays? Yeah - they are pretty sweet too. They are generally fun times, leading to a couple of days focused on relaxing, on fun, and on church. Oh, and plenty of time to spend with my bride Becky.

If you are not familiar with this song, or want to hear it again, listen here. In case you haven't picked on my theme yet, each title of my blog (other than my introduction) is a name of a song that I enjoy. For me, I can generally find a song to express whatever I am thinking or feeling. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Never Let Go

So I was recently listening to Never Let Go by the David Crowder Band, and it is an inspirational song to me. The song starts with troubles and problems overwhelming the author -

"When clouds veil sun
And disaster comes
When water rise
And hope takes flight
Oh my soul"

I don't know about you, but I have had days that were rough on me. Events transpired, words were spoken, stuff happened - all with negative consequences for me. And when I am focused on me, these events could bring me down. They could bring out the ugly side of me - after all I still have red (ok reddish) hair.

But we as believers have a hope, a reason to not let daily life interfere with our joy. Joy and happiness are 2 completely different things. Happiness is dictated by our surroundings - a good day a work, a fun day at an amusement park, etc. Joy, on the other hand, is a fruit of the Spirit given to us just as soon as we give our lives to Christ. Happiness will come and go, joy is constant and eternal. We know that God is always with us, looking over us, as He loves His children. So if our focus is on Him, and not me, it's much easier to not let distractions interfere with our life lived for Him.

So are you an up and down person? I was - and I don't miss the emotional roller coasters of being happy one day and then down just as quickly as I was up.

And the song Never Let Go? If finishes this way -

"Oh, my soul
Oh, what love, oh, what love
Oh, my soul
Fills hope
Perfect love that never let's go...
In joy and pain
In sun and rain
You're the same
Oh, You never let go"

photo courtesy of Nathaniel Bluedorn

Sunday, July 4, 2010

It Is Well

So I really do enjoy a variety of music. I am all over the place, and constantly looking for new suggestions. Thanks to working with college students, I am not just stuck with my past music favs. Iron and Wine along with Arcade Fire are just two of the bands they have exposed me to. Of course, I try to share with them, but they can't seem to wrap their heads around hair bands (their loss).

So i was browsing around looking for music, and I found a worship cd from Kutless titled It is Well. Now, I'm very selective about praise and worship music, mainly cause I grew up jamming and not really listening to words. Yes, I can slow down and listen to the likes of Charlie Hall or Chris Tomlin, but generally for me music needs to rock. And although Christian artist have come along way since the 80's/90's (Petra anyone?), sadly some CCM bands lack musical talent. Not Kutless - they are phenomenal- and they can slow it down as well as rock out too! My personal favorite off of the album is the title track - It is Well. Here they have taken a classic hymn and modernized it. Give it a whirl and tell me what you think.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


So if you participated in The Journey Church Minute To Win It Pathfinder Group Challenge (try putting that on a t-shirt) this past Wednesday night, you've already heard part of what I'm gonna share here. But I'm want to share anyways, cause I think it's important.

In Matthew 9:9-13, the author recounts Jesus calling him to become one of His disciples. Basically, Jesus strolls by, says come and follow Me, and Matthew does. No discussion is detailed. We don't read of Matthew consulting a career advisor, or friends, or family, as to whether or not this was a good decision. After all, he was in a position to be making some serious bank. He was a tax collector - he made money by cheating those that he collected from. Yhe sky was the limit as to how much money he could skim, and how comfortable his life could be. Those disciples that were fishermen - they could always go back to a life of fishing is this disciple internship didn't work out. But once he walked away, could he return to his position as a tax collector? Doubtful. Yet he walks and joins up with Jesus.

But check this - the very next verse, he brings his past and current colleagues together. Andrew and Peter, meet Larry, Darryl, and Darryl. Yeah, Andrew and Peter were fishermen, hardworking and honest guys who now follow God. And yes Larry and his brothers are tax collectors - not exactly honest and ethical. Kinda shady. Now what's for dinner? How does this meal go down? How's the conversation?
What a great testimony Matthew. He cared about his past, his friends and colleagues who needed to meet Jesus. To learn about Him, to hear Him speak. That's the right call, correct? No, not according to the Pharisees. As the NLT reads, "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?" Evidently this "scum" didn't need to hear any truth, whether the Pharisees were correct or if Jesus was right. So Jesus says "Healthy people don't need a doctor - sick people do". He then quotes Hosea 6:6a - "I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices".

Jesus went on in Matthew 11:19 to say, "The son of man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, He's a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners! But wisdom is shown to be right by its results". My prayer lately is that I will be thought of, and become, a friend to the tax collectors and other sinners. They need what I have, and how am I gonna share with them if I don't have any type of relationship with them? May I earn the right to be called a friend of tax collectors and other sinners.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer summer summertime

For those of you who don't know, I am first and foremost a Florida guy. I was born there and lived there for the first 26 years of my life. I love the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida State Seminoles, which is kinda hard living so close to Tobacco Road and Carolina Panther fans. Regardless, I will always be a Florida boy at heart. I don't enjoy the cold, all though the occasional snowfall is nice to some extent.

I also enjoy Florida culture, and trying to share with others just how cool Florida really can be. And it has little to do with Disney or Universal Studios. No, Florida doesn't really have seasons (hot and then hotter don't count), there are no mountains or leaves changing, and the snow rarely falls all that far south of Jacksonville. In spite of that, there is a beauty of Florida that most people never see. If you have never taken a ride on an airboat, you've not experienced all that Florida has to offer. That's where Florida Highwaymen come in to shed some light.

During the 1950's, it was hard for self taught African-American artists to get art displayed in galleries, much less sold for a decent living wage. But one white artist went out of his way to help these painters. He was Albert Ernest Backus,or Bean as he was known in the Ft. Pierce community. It is estimated that he influenced hundreds of local painters, including the 26 African-American artist who came to be known as the Florida Highwaymen. This group of artist closely replicated his painting style of local landscapes, using whatever materials were cheaply available (upson board or masonite), and then sold the paintings out of their cars to the tourist flocking to Florida's beaches. During the 50's and 60's this group of artist sold tens of thousands of painting, usually for $20-25 each. These paintings today can now reach thousand dollars each at auction. For more info on these important Florida painters, check out their site here.

Meanwhile, there isn't much known about Bean. His work, while just as nice as the Highwaymen, is relatively obscure. But he changed so many lives by investing in others. It reminds me of what I read this week in I Corinthians 10:24: "Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." I am constantly reminded that the greatest investment I can make is in other people. Barnabas is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. He stood up for Paul when no one else would, stood by John Mark when Paul wanted nothing to do with him, and was generally known as an encourager of others over himself. Who invested in you? Is investing in you? More importantly, who are you investing in?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who's getting the best of you?

So I'll want to share a passion of mine - MUSIC! I absolutely love the way music speaks, shares and transforms. And I like almost all genres of music - from worshipful Christian to 80's Hair Bands to rap to Phantom of the Opera, and most points in between. One of the cool things about ministering to college students is constantly being introduced to new groups and songs.

One of my favorite groups is The Foo Fighters, fronted by Dave Grohl (former drummer of Nirvana, another fav). I've watched all of the specials I can find about this group, and just thoroughly enjoy the passion and musicianship of the band. If you are a fan of songs written with deep emotion, as well as some really funny videos, I would recommend Foo for your listening pleasure.

Dave wrote the song Best of You, and it is a painful song. It's been said that Dave wrote this song in response to a hurtful relationship that his sister was in at the time of writing. Was she being abused? Was she addicted to a harmful substance? Regardless, as someone who cared for her, you hear the pain he feels while being on the outside, unable to help her affect a healthy change. Click here to listen to an awesome live version of Best of You, and click here to view the lyrics.

My point to all of this rambling is this - does someone have the best of you? Does anyone have control over you? Better yet, have you let someone (or something) take complete control of your life and emotions? In 2 Corinthians 11:19-20 the Apostle Paul writes "After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools. You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face." Wow - strong words, but how true.

So what's the answer? Give everything over to God. Let Him have control (Jesus Take the Wheel comes to mind - thanks Carrie). Romans 8:6b tells us "But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace". If you wanna know true peace, it only comes from Him. Give it a try - I can guarantee it's worth it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

and in this corner....

So I've decided it's time for me to join the wonderful world of blogging. I've watched my wife Becky blog for several months now and am so impressed with her abilities and creativity, and how she shares what's on her heart. My goal is to follow her, and others of you, in passing on what God points out to me.

I was gonna give you a rundown of who I am, and how I got here. But I've decided to let you learn about me one step at a time. Make it a bit more dramatic or interesting. I am currently a bi-vocational associate pastor for The Journey Church of High Point, NC. Check us out at I recently grew into this position, having headed up the college ministry (along with Becky) for almost 3 years. I also run an office that sells and installs flooring in multi-family housing units here in the Piedmont Triad.
So what's up with the title? I love plaid and flannel shirts. I mean that's pretty much all I wear if I'm not wearing a t-shirt. I'm stuck in the days of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I make no excuses and take no responsibility for my senses of style. On a side note though today I just purchased my first suit of the last decade. Gotta look good for a wedding in just 13 days. So grab a Mountain Dew and relax - it should be an interesting ride.