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.