Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Sin is not letting God be God"
(I can't remember where I heard this, but it's too good not to post)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday '08 Rundown

Well, this is my first post post-holidays, and I must say it has been difficult catching back up.  I've been checking emails and blogs and fantasy football for almost 2 hours now.  Once you get behind, it's difficult to catch up.  Here's a small recap of the past couple of weeks:

Thanksgiving was great.  We stayed up here, so it was my first Thanksgiving without my parents.  Almost panicked because I thought there was no Dressing--but the day was saved.

Went to Nashville for our annual Staff Planning Retreat.  Had a blast.  Nashville is one of my favorite cities.  Still think I only saw about half of the Opryland hotel (I think I read somewhere that it has around 70 square acres of space INSIDE).  

Upon returning from Nashville I was stricken with the rotavirus (see pics on earlier post).  That sucked!!!  I would not recommend the rotavirus to anyone.  Uncontrollable puking.  Fatigue.  Can't sleep.  Miserable.  (As I side note, I believe it was Jack's in Harpersville that got me sick.  Anyone who wants to join my boycott feel free to do so).  

Drove to my Grandma's (Dad's mom) in West Va for Christmas.  It took us 14 hours to get there, but only 12 to get back (I know we ate an extra meal, but that still leaves and extra hour.  Perhaps driving downhill helped???).  I love my family.  Dad's side is definitely more lively than my mother's (and louder!).  We saw a little snow, but there wasn't enough to play in.  :(  We froze our tails off when we visited D.C. (I think it was around 20 w/ 30+ mph winds).  Saw Bush's dog chasing a frisbee.  There was a U-Haul in front of the White House (I guess to move Bush out).  I got hustled by a semi-homeless guy.  When went to 1 of 5 (?) Smithsonian buildings--and didn't get to see all of it!!!  D.C. is also probably one of my favorite cities (I love the city, in case you can't tell)

Had a great Christmas with my family (though there was no Dressing).  My Grandmother fixed the SHARPEST homemade mac-n-cheese I've ever tasted.  Had a little bad news.  My Dad's brother has been given a year to live (lung cancer).  On Christmas Day, he had to go to the hospital.  The cancer has spread to his other lung and throughout his body.  Remember him in your prayers.

There was tons of other details, but right now my mind is going hay-wire (I had two cups of coffee this morning).  I am glad to be back.

Thanks to everyone who reads and posts comments.  I love you guys.  I look forward to a great 09!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weekend Update

So, I've missed a couple of days--my apologies.  Last Thursday, I went to Nashville for our annual staff planning retreat.  Had a great time staying in the Opryland Hotel.  Got home Saturday.  Unfortunately, I got sick with these bad boys:

This is a microscopic shot of the rotavirus.  They caused me to puke my brains out and feel like complete poop.  Thanks a lot rotavirus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday

Have you ever gone on a huge trip and the day before, all you can think about is going on the trip.  That's where I'm at today.  Tomorrow morning we head out for our annual Staff Planning Retreat.  We go and plan out what direction the church is going to take for the next year--which is a great thing.  The only downside is that we leave on a Thursday and this year we are staying at the Opryland hotel in Nashville.  I stayed at the O'land when I was a Senior in high school; it was awesome!  So needless to say I can't wait to leave.  But, when you have a service to minister to teenagers, you don't usually want a bunch of distractions. 

 Oh well.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

Hurricanes in December

I would like to start off stating the obvious: Hurricanes don't occur in December.  And though a meteorological hurricane may be far from present, a "life hurricane" is not.  Last week was--in a word--crazy for me.  Things started off slow.  I had a hard time focusing--especially at the church, I lacked energy, and nothing was going on.  It was setting up to be quite a pedestrian week.  

Then Wednesday came.  I'm not entirely sure that I've ever had a day like Wednesday.  The closest I could compare Wednesday to would be an experience I had in 3rd Grade:  Hurricane Opal.  I lived in Southeast Alabama then, so we lived relatively close to the Gulf.  Hurricane Opal came through and wreaked havoc on our area.  We were without power for a day or two, there were trees down (my granddad lost his barn/shed).  It was chaotic.  Wednesday was kind of like that.  For whatever reason, I felt depressed (I guess that's the right word) when I woke up.  Then the day continued to get worse as several "flare-ups" occurred.  Then there was a mediocre worship service, which got slightly better because I actually didn't feel like the teaching went that bad, then slightly worse because people didn't respond to the altar call.

So I went home and my wife and I unpacked the day's happenings and were about to head to bed, when one of us got the wacky idea to check if Amanda was pregnant.  Three minutes later we went from extremely low to the top of the world...we are pregnant!  

So the rest of the week was spent telling family and friends about our exciting news.  So this week has definitely been like a hurricane.  Turns out the hurricanes in December aren't that bad :)  

Friday, December 5, 2008

On the Way

I had a really cool way I was going to announce this, but I don't have time to get the stinkin pic to upload, so here it is>>>

Amanda and I are having a baby!!!

Needless to say, I'm thrilled (really quite an understatement)!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wish List

So I'm a book freak.  I love to get new books.  I already have so many that I haven't read, but it's an addiction, I need more!! :)

In case you're wondering what I'm anxious to read, here's a list I made at amazon:

My Wish List

The Greatest Life Group EVER!!!

Attention all 20 and 30-somethings at VRC:  the greatest Life Group EVER is coming this February.  By popular demand Shawn and Amy Martin will again be hosting the Life Group for 20-30-somethings.  If you've never been, you do not want to miss out.  We'll meet together every other week--once at their home and once at a restaurant.  It's going to be awesome.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

Today is the 20th Anniversary of World AIDS Day.  It's a day to remember those who have died from this terrible disease and those who are currently suffering--most of whom live in poverty.  Remember to take time to pray for those suffering from AIDS and their families today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The NEW Home for the Holidays

So, this is Amanda and my first Thanksgiving as a married family.  With that has come a whole set of complications.  One is that our families live several hours apart.  Another is that her family has two (maybe more?) separate Thanksgiving celebrations.  My family has always had T'giving at one place because Dad's family lives in West Va.  So we have to pick every year which family to have T'giving with.  BUT, add in two more T'giving meals and you have a dilemma--not to mention anything of Christmas.  Fortunately, Amanda and I are pretty smart cookies, so we came up with a Win-Win (we couldn't get a Win-Win-Win like Michael Scott would have liked).  We are going to hit up the T'giving with Amanda's family (staying at our NEW home for the holidays) and then go to Grandma's (Dad's mom) for Christmas.  Yes, I know that leaves out Mom's side of the family.  That's why it's a Win-Win and not a Win-Win-Win.  

All this has made me wonder how stinkin' hard it will be if we move WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off someday...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Music

This is an add-on to the music recommendations from the other day:

Chris Tomlin - Hello Love
Disciple - Southern Hospitality
The Wrecking - A New Abolition
Family Force 5 - Dance or Die
Triplee - 20|20
Kaboose - Excuse Me
Building 429 - Building 429
U2 - various songs
Bob Dylan - Blowing in the Wind (single)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Music Recommendation

Ok, so I don't usually recommend music on my blog, but I got this new CD from Youth Leaders Only.  It's "A New Abolition" from The Wrecking.  I'm guessing they're new.  But so far, I love this CD.  I have a couple of other new one's too.  I love new music.  

If you have any music recommendations, leave a comment/

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Campus Missionaries

I'm so excited about tonight.  We're going to take the whole teaching time of our youth service to promo the NEW Campus Missions strategy for our church.  Campus Missions is really a simple concept--reaching students where they HAVE TO BE (by law) 5 days a week for 7 hours a day: the school campus.  It's about expanding influence (via Campus Missionaries) and training student in THEIR responsibility to spread the gospel.  It's about establishing a place for fellow disciples can come and pray together for the students and teachers that walk their hallways.  It's about connecting adults to the schools by involving them in prayer.  It's about people, people who are broken, hopeless, and defeated (thanks to sin) finding hope again in the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

There are several HUGE changes to the structure of our Campus Missions--especially to Campus Missionaries.  I really believe this is going to allow us to equip MORE students to be disciples for Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Champions Pay the Price

For some reason over the past several days these words have been playing over and over again in my soul.  I really believe God has been trying to remind me that (#1) I'm a champion [Romans 8.37] and (#2) as a champion I have to be willing to pay the price.  From watching videos of the persecuted disciples around the world, to the sacrifices required in ministry to the daily price to continue to be a Christ-follower, there is a price to be paid--not for our sins [Jesus took care of that], but to show our love to our Saviour.  Will you be willing to pay the price?

*Here's the video clip that's been playing in my mind.  Fast forward to about 2:34:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Orange Beach

Had a great weekend at the Alabama District Youth Leaders' Summit at Orange Beach.  I really look forward to this every year.  It's great to be able to get away, meet new people, hang out with old friends, enjoy some great food, and be feed spiritually without having to think about how the lights look?, is the music too loud?, will this transition work?

God spoke very powerfully into my own life.  He gave me some much needed encouragement that I probably wouldn't have heard in the normal hustle and bustle of ministry.  And He's given me some new direction.  Very exciting stuff (a little nerve-racking too).  

To Steve and Crystal Mason, Matt and Carrie Britt, and Leo and Debbie Blankenship: thank you guys so much for the investment into Alabama youth pastors.  We appreciate all that you do.  God bless.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud to be an American

With the way things ended yesterday, I must say that I am still proud to be an American.  Not so much just because an African-American is in the high office (though this is HUGE!), but because of what didn't happen.  There was no rioting.  No coup-de-ta (spelling?).  George Bush didn't surround the White House with tanks and thousands of troops refusing to concede.  John McCain didn't lambast the president-elect nor the American people.  No, we once again have had an arms-free transfer of power from one man to another.  And though the actual transfer is still a few months away and there will be criticisms and maybe even threats, I'm proud to live in a country that doesn't burst into Civil War every time a new president is elected.

I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Senators McCain, Obama, and Biden, and to Governor Palin.  Though we may have substantial disagreements with some (I have pretty big disagreements with all of them), they still are the ones who have sacrificed their time in service (and hopeful service) to their country.  And they will continue to do so, no matter what office they hold.  These are true Americans, who love our country, and who are dedicating their lives to make our country work.  Let us pray for each of them--and all our leaders, everyday.  The weight of leadership at that level is next to unbearable, and they need us--the Christ-followers in America--to lift them up in prayer everyday.

God bless America (and the whole world too)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I don't think I've ever posted two times in a day, but this quote couldn't wait for tomorrow.  It's from the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. [Chapter 3, 1st paragraph]

"...[T]he King James Bible...uses leader only six times.  Much more frequently, the role is called servant.  We do not read about "Moses, my leader," but "Moses, my servant."  And this is exactly what Christ taught."

The best (?) and WORST of the Presidential Race

Well, the day we've all been waiting on is here.  I must so I couldn't be more relieved that this election is over.  I hate campaign season.  It's divisive and usually ends with people (particularly Christians) making themselves look real shallow, dumb, and hateful.  In celebration of this day, I want to take some time to look at the best and WORST of this election year in regards to the church.

The best:  I got to vote.  This is my first time voting in a presidential election (well any real election--I just registered a month ago!).  I must say, that despite my cynicism, I really enjoyed getting to go to Vincent Town Hall and casting my ballot.  And yes, though my vote--especially for President--doesn't really count (thanks Electoral College), I still had a great sense of pride and responsibility.  I am truly thankful that God has placed me in a country where freedom reigns (mostly).  I believe that God wants to use our country and our vast freedom and resources to reach the world, within and without.

With that being said, I believe that we as Christians missed a great opportunity to set an example of Christ before our own nation.  Citizens of the United States, I apologize for the actions of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I have been very disappointed with the muckraking, bickering, and overall lack of love in this election.  The group that is supposed to bring peace and unity is the main reason for so much division in our country.  It really is no wonder at all that people don't want to be a part of our faith.  If you were always told how horrible, stupid, classless, cold-hearted, misguided, lost, depraved, rejected, anti-everything, etc., you'd probably feel the same way.  I don't think there is anything wrong with Christians voting the way their conscience leads them--that's fine.  But don't abuse someone who sees things differently than you.  God put us in a position to shine His light and tell His story and WE BLEW IT!!!  America we're sorry.

  I really hope that no matter who wins today, that Christians will take the lead in restoring unity within our country and with our fellow humanity around the globe.  Our leaders need our prayers, no matter what political agenda they have.  Remember, God is our Hope and Saviour, not a politician (or any other man/woman for that matter).  This nation is starving for a real relationship with God and they need us to share that with them.  We can't do that if we draw party lines and aren't willing to cross it to reach people on the other side.

God bless America (and the whole world too)!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

End of High School Football

Well, another year of High School football has ended (well at least in Vincent it has).  I really enjoyed getting back into the volunteering thing.  I had a blast coaching the Junior High and holding the huge signs for Varsity.  It was great being able to build new relationships with students and teachers/coaches.  

Trying to do two extremely demanding jobs (pastoring and coaching) isn't easy.  I must say I am relieved (and yet somewhat saddened) that football season is over.  I absolutely love football, and I look forward to coaching again; but, man is it tiring.  I look forward to having afternoons back to work at the church.

(Somewhere in the background I hear basketballs bouncing...)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Real Transformation

So, I'm wrapping things up in the office.  Tonight's service went pretty well.  It was great to see some old faces and some new ones worshipping God.  I've been preaching a series for over a month now called "Jesus Greatest Hits."  The grand scheme of the whole series is to re-think what it means to be Christian.  For us in the Bible Belt, it is very easy to have a view of Christianity that is covered up with a bunch of extra rules, regulations, etc.  But didn't Christ come to set us free from heavy burdens?

One of the things that is a passion of mine is to see (and help people make) real transformation.  I believe salvation is more than a prayer and a train ticket to heaven.  I also believe faith is far more than praying to Jesus and studying the Scriptures.  Christ came to give us a life like the one before the Garden fallout.  He came so that we can have a vibrant walk with Him.  

That's one reason I'm not a real big fan of altar calls--at least not the kind where people are invited down to the front to "receive Christ."  God has really opened my eyes of the past year and a half to salvation as a process.  I've seen people boo-hooing and snotting in an altar call, and yet they get up and are unchanged.  And I've seen people who have never come to an official "altar call" and "get saved," and yet one day I notice them worshipping, or praying with someone or serving someone.  And then I hear them talk about their faith with someone.  It truly is amazing just how far we've gotten off track from what God originally intended for us.

Well this post is turning into a small novel, so I'll cut it off for now.

More to come later (?)


A couple of months ago I read "unChristian."  It's a great book revealing how most people in America view "church-people."  I really wasn't all that surprised by what the book said.  Here's a quick overview:

Of people outside the church ages 16-29:
91% see the church as anti-homosexual
87% jugmental
85% hypocritical
75% too involoved in politics
72% out of touch with reality
70% insensitive of others

Then, I found this great video sermon.  I believe this is Judd Wilhite from Las Vegas...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Great Quotes

I found two great quotes by Dr. Conel West, professor of African studies (?) at Princeton.

Three questions for leaders:
1)  How deep is your love for the people?
2)  What kind of courage have you manifested in the positions you stand for?
3)  What are you willing to sacrifice?

"You can't lead the people if you won't love the people.  You can't save the people if you won't serve the people."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Got My Magazine Back

So here's the deal: one of my friends (who shall remain nameless) has the spiritual gift "teacher."  That's a great thing; I'm a teacher too.  But one of the problems with teachers is that they tend to over-keep stuff.  For example magazines.  I let my friend borrow my copy of Relevant magazine that I got back in June.

Relevant is a great magazine--especially this issue.  I really enjoyed reading it.  In fact, I think I read almost the whole magazine in three days.  It was so captivating that it was hard to stop reading.  But for some reason, my friend thought they would take 4 months and 2 weeks to read my magazine.  I know it's hard for him/her to return things [I tend to keep stuff too (sorry if I have ever borrowed anything from you)], but, I'm happy to say that I finally got my magazine back.

Oh look, an article about the upcoming Beijing Olympics...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Free at Last

Yesterday was a day of celebration.  It was a day for relief, reflection, and hope.  And not because Alabama is having such a great season.

Yesterday I had my interview with the District/Sectional Presbytery [A/G structures] to get my credentials approved.  The first step (the test) proved much easier than expected--and this was equally enjoyable.  I made a hundred on my test and provided some great laughs for the Presbytery (ok, so they were laughing at me, but who cares?)

Needless to say, yesterday marks the ending of a (really, really L-O-N-G) chapter of my ministry life.  It's good to be on this end of it.  Feels really good to be a "legit" preacher (or "Preacher-man" as Coach Gip likes to call me).

God has really set me up the whole way.  At every turn, He's been there providing whatever I need.  Can't wait to see what He's going to do with/in the rest of my life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New books

I'm a little late posting this, but last Friday was one of the happiest days of my life (ok, that's a little over-dramatized, but you get the idea).  My wife, Amanda, and I were returning from an errand-run for the church.  On the way back, I decided to stop by LifeWay book store.  GREAT DECISION.  I found (and bought), not one, but two new books:  Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson, and Jesus Wants to Save Christians  by none other than Rob Bell.  

I've started Wild Goose Chase.  So far, it's easily one of the 5 best non-fiction books I've ever read.

I'm expecting the same for Bell's book.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Launch Conference with Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy, founder of Church Leader Insights and pastor of the Journey Church NYC is hosting a One Day Launch Conference (church planting seminar) on Tuesday, September 30 at Avalon Church in McDonough, GA (Atlanta area) from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Found this link on another blog.  It's an article in the Harvard Business Review about Pixar and their view on creativity.  Good stuff!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

ROLL TIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a great way to kick off the football season. Bama rolls over Clemson, crushing the Tigers 34-10. Loved the way Bama ran the ball and JP didn't screw up (at least not too much). I also learned the Brent Munsberger of ESPN must absolutely hate Alabama. He must have played against the Tide back in the glory days.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Home" for the Weekend

I'm heading to my old home this weekend.  Amanda and I are leaving tonight (after the football game, of course) and heading to my parents.  We haven't been down since we've gotten married, so in a way, it's like a first trip back "home" all over again.  Also, to make the weekend ultra-special, I'm preaching at both services at my grandfather's church!  

God is great.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wrapping Up the Best Year Ever

This Wednesday, I'll be wrapping up the Best Year Ever message.  Of course, this is by no means an end to the "Best Year Ever."  I hope that everyone has taken away from this series that we CAN make this the best year ever, if we work in cooperation with God.

I'll be revealing the artwork for the next series later this week!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In the Zone

Normally, I don't post anything before service on Wednesday, so into new waters we go.

I'm excited about some of the upcoming events in soulimpact.  I really believe that God is going to do powerful things.

Tonight, I'm preaching on "All the Pieces of the Puzzle."  Two more sermons left (counting tonight) in the Best Year Ever series.  Next week:  "A Generation Filled w/ the Holy Spirit."

The worship service is going to much different tonight--very reflective.  The service tonight as a whole is going to be more reflective than usual.  Here's the set list for tonight:
Let it Rain
Till I See You
No Sacrifice
One Touch

Got the Six Flags trip coming Saturday.  Hoping I don't puke.

I'm now heading to the back to make sure that things are good for tonight.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Finishing Up

Here are the last of the notes from the Led by Fire Leadership Conference...


DYD New Jersey-

Zuny's clothing stores

·         Harrison Ford- "All I would tell people was to hold onto what is individual about themselves, not to allow their ambitions for success to cause them to try to imitate the success of others. You've got to find it on your own terms."

·         Who and what they identify with now will identify them for life.

·         5 common ways students demonstatrate their struggle with identity:                                                                                                                                                                                   1) Through Status Symbols- right clothes, right possessions

            2) Through Forbidden Behaviors- Lesbian behavior, smoking, drinking

            3) Through Rebellion- demonstrates seperation with parents/adults

            4) Through Idols- celebrities, pro athletes (Preteens- Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers)

            5) Through Cliquish Exclusion- intolerant in exclusion to their peers (Junior High)

                                                                                                            - Dr. Les Parrot PhD -

·         Respond as opposed to react.

·         Their are certain things that you should just let go.

·         "Life in  a fallen world presents kinds with two options: either finding one's identity in Christ, or choosing to find identity in something else which is idolatry."

·         Final Exam

            - Matthew 19:16-22

            - T or F- Good Teacher what must I do to have eternal life? (Am I saved?)

            - Multiple Choice- What commandments have I kept? (All of the above)

            - Essay- What do I still lack?

            There was no identity there..he didn't have a name.

·         Quick decisions without commitments.

·         Salvation is the easy part. The hard part is Lordship and identity.

·         4 things as a youth leader, you can do:

            1) Ask yourself, where can I find my identity? Your identity is/should not the number you have in service.

            2) Check in on the identity-shaping world. John Stock- Dual listening

            3) Confront the lies.

            4) Nothing speaks louder than embodied truth.

                                                - Walt Mueller -

·                     Identity = Lordship.  What you find your identity is your god.

·                     1 John 3.1

·                     Ask if there are any questions about what was said before the altar.


A short history and the current imbalance:

·         Youth ministry is young itself (circa 1926 for the A/G).  The era of youth specialists is even younger.\

·               *Jesus Movement in 60s

·         Youth ministry was originally understood as a movement of what youth do over and above what others do for youth (sacrificially oriented)

·         Today's concept of youth ministry leans more toward what we do FOR youth than youth DOing ministry.

            +Has created a mind-set of "get the youth ministry to raise me kids."

+Thus, a large percentage of churches don't think they can "afford" to have an effective youth ministry--much less have one at all

+12,333 churches; only 27% have a youth pastor, 49% have a volunteer youth leader; 24% don't report any active youth ministry

(2nd most staffed position in the A/G is the youth pastor.)



·         Mission Dei = Mission of God

·         Youth ministry false view that youth ministry is all about youth.  It's not all about youth, it's all about God

·         Matthew 4.19 [Mark 1.17] is the mandate theology of youth-in-ministry

      [+Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men]

*John was about 14 when Jesus called him; he was only 17 when he was the only one willing to stay at the cross.

·         2 Corinthians 5.17-21 and a lesson from history

*How many people need to know that they can start over?

"Be reconciled with God"  = be in a right relationship w/ God (better description that "got saved")

"Gave us the ministry of reconciliation"  = It's the responsibility of every believer

·         Why wait?  You go to the most stocked missions pond 5 days a week.




1)  Belief in Christ (win)

2)  Belonging with Christ ad His Body (build)

3)  Boldness for Christ from the spirit (send)

Philemon 6   (If you think that the altar experience is the best part of being a Christ follower, then you are missing out on the joy of serving in ministry)



·         Prioritize Biblical identity over image

            ***If necessary, consider a new identity that personfied youth-in-ministry

·         Present the youth leader as pastor more than persona.

            +Involve youth in ministry roles.  Take the risk to develop and deploy their ministry gifts in addition to their servanthood.

            +Don't just put on services and events.  Put on ministry!

·                     Practice ministries that move youth in ministry

 (Turnover in youth ministry is 22 months)

+Youth in ministry is a movement.  We need to view the whole of our ministry as a process, a journey, a living-thing.


·         Identity over image

·         Movement over institution

·         Multiplication over addition

·         Belonging over bling

·         Purpose over program

·         Disciple-making over passing through 



Q+A Session



Four connections teens need:  God, family, church, their purpose