Friday, December 29, 2006

Fix You For Every Generation

I'm a huge Coldplay fan, and probably my favorite song of theirs is "Fix You." We performed this song at Meadow Heights awhile back, and it still ranks as one of my favorite moments. I love the lyrics to the song and the spiritual overtones it suggests.

What I didn't think about however, is the impact the song may have on different generations. has a great video of this song, performed by Fred Mittle and the Young at Heart Chorus. Each member of the chorus is between the ages of 73 and 92, and they perform covers of the Rolling Stones, the Clash, and many others.

You can also check out the video here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You Say It's Your Birthday...

I just returned home from an awesome night out with my wife Melissa. Today's her birthday and she's *cough, cough* years old today. We don't often get an opportunity to get away alone except on an occasional date night (even those seem a bit sparse lately!), so tonight was a great chance to spend some quality time alone together. We had dinner at 12 West (the pizza was PHENOM!) and then spent some time wandering around Penney's, Value City, and of course Wal Mart!

I am always invigorated by the time I spend with my wife. We always have some great conversations, and she is so insightful about life and especially me. After nearly 20 years of marriage, she can read me like a book! We could truly spend hours talking with one another - sharing our thoughts, goals and dreams. Tonight we shared our plans for the year 2007. We challenged each other to get intentional and promised to hold each other accountable. I love that about my wife - she's not afraid to challenge me when I need it!

I also shared the story of the "fat man" and the "skinny man." Now this may seem odd, but those two are one and the same. I'll try and post about this at a later time, but the idea comes from the book "E-Myth Revisited" which I have been reading lately. Definitely a book every business and ministry person should read in 2007!!

I'm excited about what the future holds for our family. We'll continue to develop our relationship with God first, our marriage second, and finally, our kids. We don't always get it right, but thankfully God's grace will always take care of the rest.

Stay tuned, I have a feeling 2007 is gonna be a whopper!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Where's Bucketology?

Outreach Magazine has recently listed the "Top 20 Web Sites for Church Communicators." You can check out the entire list here. I noticed Bucketology isn't listed...a minor oversight perhaps? :)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Time Is Here!

Whew!! We just completed our two Saturday evening Christmas weekend gatherings...what a great evening with a great crowd! Of course, as expected, we had several "challenges" tonight as well. From a/c issues, to lighting issues, to song issues, to noise issues, this evening was packed full of excitement. I love referring to these as "500 pound opportunities" (a quote I stole from Mark Batterson's new book).

Despite these opportunities, overall things went very well - Bryan did a great job with the message (welcome back!) - a simple but VERY effective and creative way of presenting the Christmas story. I am pumped to see what's in store for tomorrow, as well as celebrating some Christmas activities with my own family. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

For free or not for that really the question?

Mark Batterson posted today that the "Chase the Lion" series they just wrapped up will be available for free via an "open" site. has also used this approach and they have received a lot of attention and hits to their site.

The whole debate on whether churches should share their information, media, messages, etc. is still out there. What are your thoughts? Should churches share their resources with others? Give me some feedback folks!

Diggin' the Video

Digg (one of my favorite sites) has gone video. Check it out here!

Lost "Soles"

Perry Noble talks about the top 20 reasons you don't want to miss this weekend's service at New Spring Church. One of my faves is number 14 (this ones for you Jeremy!):

#14 - There will NOT BE an interpretive movement done to the song “Christmas Shoes!”

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tippin' It To My Cup O' Joe

My friend and colleague Joe is taking on some new challenges. Joe has been on staff (or as a volunteer) at Meadow Heights Church longer than I can recall. Joe has recently resigned his part-time staff position in order to pursue a higher education degree and more importantly, his family. You can read more about the new plans for his life here.

Thanks for all your years of service Joe...we'll miss ya!!

Alive?? YOU BET!!

For the one or two readers of my blog, I am still alive!! I hope to be back posting on a regular basis very soon. The holiday season has particularly eaten my lunch the past week, but I'm itchin' to write about what's going on in my life.

I spent the day shopping in Cape Girardeau. We always seem to wait until the week before Christmas to do our shopping. Why is that? I have no idea, but when we hit it, we hit it hard! Fortunately, today didn't turn out to be a horribly busy shopping day. We stopped at three or four stores, then stopped at Olive Garden for lunch (we had a gift certificate!). The food was good, but the service was horrible! We hit four more stores, then ended the day with some frozen custard (the apple pie version!) before our trip home.

I then went straight to the high school to announce the varsity girls basketball game. Once again we blew out our opponent by approximately 20 while still playing 10 deep. This team is fun to watch!

There you have it...alive and kickin'! And that was just Monday! I can't wait to see what the rest of the week holds! More posting later!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Two Minutes of Fame

Last night was my daughter Emilee's first "pre-school" Christmas play. Her part lasted all of two minutes, but we had a great time. I also had the opportunity to hear Jenny Revelle - can I just say she is "stinkin' awesome!!" Jenny has attended Meadow Heights Church a few times in the past few months, but recently she has been traveling with the Lesters (who just happen to be her folks!). It was great to hear her sing, and a fitting end to a great evening!

Monday, December 11, 2006

An Enjoyable Dinner!

Saturday, my wife and I had occasion to attend the first ever Fredericktown High School Choir "Madrigal Dinner." HUGE props out to Lisa Lewis and her students for a very enjoyable dinner. We went to the luncheon performance (which, by the way, I heard had fewer "challenges" than the evening performance!), and were quite impressed with several things:

  • organization - you could tell the students had prepared very well for this event
  • food - for a school type dinner, the food was above average (except for the dessert - very small portions!)
  • costumes - by far the best part of the dinner - you could definitely tell that many hours were spent designing and creating the costumes
  • set design - from the costumes to the pictures to the instrumental performers - good concepts!
  • theme interpretation - I loved how the students stayed "in character" for the performance - they used "Ye Olde English" as much as possible, we had musical performers, jesters and the works!
Again, I was very impressed with the dinner, and for a first shot at a concept that is usually very foreign to our small town, everyone enjoyed the event! I can't wait until next year!

Friday, December 08, 2006

If I Could Save Time In A Bottle...

The past few days have been a blur. Between my son's basketball games and my prep for speaking this weekend, the hours are flying by. I'll be talking about manipulative people over the weekend. Does this bring anyone to mind?

We're also getting ready for Christmas weekend. We'll be having five gatherings again this year, two on Saturday and our normal three on Sunday. Hopefully we'll be able to accommodate everyone - our last major holiday (Easter) was totally packed out. A great "challenge" to work with!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed by the things you didn't do than
by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.

~Mark Twain
via Chapter 8 of Mark Batterson's book
In A Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day

10 Things I Love About My Three Year Old

  1. Singing her ABC's for the twentieth time in a row.
  2. Playing the "name game" with her.
  3. When she's scared and comes running into my arms.
  4. Her eyes - they change colors depending on her mood.
  5. Pushing her on the swing.
  6. Watching her giggle - and then laugh. Really laugh.
  7. When she tells me her memory verse from KIDMO - with hand motions!
  8. When she talks and cares for elderly people - just like her mom.
  9. Watching her play with other kids - her conversations are amazing.
  10. When she stops and says, "I love you daddy."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Soul Cravings

Erwin McManus has a new book entitled "Soul Cravings." The book has not been released yet, but I love this excerpt that speaks to the concept of the creative nature of God:
You are a unique creation made by God to live and not simply exist. Your soul longs to find its ultimate purpose. It will not rest until you do. Your soul craves its destiny. Your soul desires. It always will. You were created as a creative being. You were made to grow, to dream, to achieve. It is your soul letting you know you come from God and your life is intended for a God-sized, God-inspired life.

Making it...I think!

It's the most wonderful time...of they year. Or is it? It's FLU time at the Goldsmith residence. My wife has been battling the flu for about five days now - from the stomach to the cold and cough version. My youngest is three, and she had the two hour flu on Friday(you know the type..."Daddy I'm fine now!" she exclaims after vomiting what seems like three trash cans full) which reared its ugly head again this morning.

Thankfully my son and I have not felt the bug...a bit of uneasiness? Yes. Please be in prayer that our house will become virus free VERY SOON!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Healthy Church = A Healthy Leadership Culture

Dave Ferguson talks about his interview with Catalyst (how cool is that?) in his recent post. Catalyst is one of my favorite conferences (AND it's a cool name) and their creativity is "off the hook!"

So Dave talks about the climate at Community Christian Church and about the leadership culture they have created. What's amazing to me are the similarities between CCC and Meadow Heights Church. Community, Cause and Culture are three mantras that we live and breathe every single day. We love working together, hangin' together, sharing life together. We're all on this ride together to see lives changed. AND...all of us have come from business or education where we made a lot more money . Here' s how Dave sums it up:
But they chose to be here because there is just something attractive about being a team of high capacity leaders who love each other and love the mission.
I thank God for allowing me to be part of the "great experiment," and I thank my friends for joining me in the adventure. May our "otters" be forever untamed and the "warriors" within be fueled with an unending passion as we worship Him with abandon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Follow Up?

Seth Godin recently posted about the difficulties of follow up. He suggests that it must be hard because not many people do it. It's hard because people approach it the wrong way:
Follow up. Not follow up to sell something, just to know. Just to ask. Just to set things right if they were wrong.
This has huge implications for the church. So many people are turned off by church because "religious" people call with an agenda. What happened to the relationship? Jesus sought after true relationships everyday. People over projects. I love how Seth closes out his post:
If you really want to generate those referrals, don't ask for a referral, ask if everything was great. Offer to help. Do it in a gentle way, with no strings, no additional addons, no sales pitch. If you really and truly care, why not ask? Not a form, not a survey. Just one caring person, asking. Not that hard, actually.
The church could learn a lesson from the corporate world. One caring person investing in the life of another. No hidden agendas. No "religion" up the sleeve. Authentic living. Now that's relationship!

Monday, November 27, 2006

No Vacancy

Three movies - watched all of them without falling asleep. Well, to be honest, I had to finish one movie the next day. All three very entertaining. One hit much harder than all the others.

My first attempt on Saturday night. I fell asleep about an hour in, but managed to finish it the next day. What can I say? Some of the best graphics I have seen in an animated movie, and with three kids, I have seen my fair share of animation. Cars was extremely enjoyable, had a great story, and an ending to bolster a great value - sometimes winning means losing. The whole family enjoyed this one.

Ice Age 2
WOW! This movie is HILARIOUS! There are SO many one-liners, it was often times hard to keep up. One disclaimer - there are a few spots in this movie that 3 year olds probably shouldn't hear. Most of the questionable content went right over my 3 year old's head, but fair warning to parents of young children. Otherwise, this movie is highly recommended for some great laughs, and the story line is decent as well (if you're in to the whole global warming thing).

A great movie. One that hit me right in the gut. I was expecting a funny comedy from Adam Sandler, and he doesn't disappoint. But what I wasn't really expecting was the impacting ending of this movie. If you haven't seen this movie yet, skip to the end of this post. I'm not a big emotional type of guy. Very few movies make me cry, but this one hit me hard for some reason. By the end I was bawlin' away. It definitely hit too close to home for me. I could write an entire post on how we "fast forward" through life, but let me hit one concept here.

I had an opportunity to visit with my grandparents over Thanksgiving. They live in Kansas, so I don't get the opportunity to see them very often. It was very apparent during my visit that they are both nearing the end of their lives. Most of us go through life thinking our grandparents (and even our parents) are indestructible - they'll always be there for us. When I saw the feebleness of my grandparents showing in a tangible way, I was reminded about the frailty of life. I OFTEN TAKE LIFE FOR GRANTED.

We sat for about an hour reminiscing about the past and telling lots of stories. God really spoke to me on my drive home that night. Here's what He asked me: Are you making memories or vacancies? It doesn't really matter what people SAY about you when you're gone - it's the memories of HOW you lived they will remember. Are you impacting lives or simply content to fill your own life with memories? Am I filling my kids with memories or leaving them with vacancies?

That's why Click hit me so hard. It was another reminder from God to invest in people and build memories. The BEST memories. The brain is a funny thing. It can recall specific memories based on a certain color, smell, or even a particular place. I would bet you are recalling things from your past right now. YOU have memories. But God says that we can't stop there. It's not enough to build our own memories - we have to share those with others as well. So the question is what memories will you create? Or maybe you've been creating more vacancies instead?

Take time this week to watch Click. You won't be disappointed, and I hope you'll really be challenged. I'll close this post with a few words from the classic hit "The Way We Were." I think they're worth considering:

Like the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were

Pay It Forward I never thought I would post anything about Oprah. Especially not TWICE. My wife was watching Oprah today (I swear it was her!) and they had a recap show about the "Pay It Forward" moments they have had since giving each member in the audience $1000 to spend on someone else. Talk about incredible stories!!

It was amazing to me that lives were impacted in such an incredible way - not because people took the initiative themselves, but because Oprah initiated it for them. Would those same people have made the effort on their own? Probably not. It doesn't mean their hearts were any less compassionate, but it does mean that sometimes we need an "external" motivator. The fact that Oprah gave everyone the $1000 certainly helped as well, but random acts of kindness don't have to revolve around money exclusively.

I'm sure there will be updates on this show - it was truly phenomenal. Lives can and will be changed if we will only seize the opportunities. Don't wait for someone else to be the catalyst.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Now We're Talkin' Turkey!

I'm starting to feel a bit guilty for not having posted in several days...

I just checked out several of my favorite blogs. I feel better. They haven't updated either.

Like most of you, my Thanksgiving was great - lots of family, food, and fun. Mine also involved close to 850 miles of driving - yikes! I must say it was well worth the trip - more on that later.

I have a lot rolling around in my brain again. That can't be good! I actually watched a movie today - not just one, not two, but THREE total. I'll write some thoughts on all three tomorrow.

I have also finished several books in the past few weeks, including In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. I'll write a review of that book in the next few days as well. Quick props to Mark Batterson for sending me a free copy of the book!

I hope all of you had a great weekend and are looking forward to the start of another week!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

One Word - "PHENOMENAL!"

This past weekend will probably rank as the top weekend I have ever experienced during my short tenure at Meadow Heights Church. God was at work in so many ways, I'm not sure how to express the vibe from the weekend. Let me start by giving a recap:
  • 680 people in attendance (up 41% from the same weekend last year)
  • Nearly 40 guests, most of whom were first timers
  • 17 Baptisms - 4 of which were totally spontaneous, including the salvation of an agnostic man
  • Our new "portable" baptistery - the first "multi-site" purchase IN ACTION!
  • 9 Videos - 8 baptism videos and the MPACT Day Highlight Video
Then we turned around and headed over to the banquet at the high school gymnasium - WOW! What a great event!! We sold out this year's event (500 tickets!) and had some incredible food, a jazz combo from MAC, 3 "fun" videos, and one video/song package (complete with highlights from all the baptisms the weekend) that totally rocked (and directed by God!). We closed out the evening with "Came to My Rescue" led by Jeremiah. This song speaks volumes - to ALL of us, and was truly a perfect cap to the weekend.

All in all it was a PHENOMENAL weekend. What's NEXT? I don't know, but what I do know is that the answer is YES!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

There's A Party Goin' On Round Here...

A quick update...we are busily preparing for our annual "Celebration Weekend," and the annual banquet as well. Things are shaping up for a PHENOMENAL weekend - a recap of our NEXT series (started 6 weeks ago) including MPACT Day highlight video, baptism videos, 12-15 baptisms, and a WHOLE LOT MORE! We're praying that God will do much more than we could ask or imagine in our wildest dreams, and it looks like He is preparing the way!

Sunday evening, we'll head over to the high school gym for our "imagineNEXT" banquet. Total capacity is 500 people, and we nearly sold out when tickets went on sale. The place is gonna be rockin'! Plank Road Inn is catering our dinner and we'll also have several videos, live entertainment from Dr. Kevin White and his combo, some vision casting, music, and whatever else God has in store.

So...if I fail to post for a few days, I hope that I am still alive, but more than likely God is preparing us for our NEXT steps! In those infamous words, "Catch you on the flip side!"

Monday, November 13, 2006

Here We "Grow" Again

I don't think it's any coincidence that two of my favorite bloggers recently posted about church growth. One talks about their values that facilitated growth and the other shares seven principles on how to handle growth.

Perry Noble on facilitating growth (you can read the entire post here):
  • We talk about Jesus - a LOT!!
  • Speaking of the Bible - we teach straight from scripture
  • We are creative
  • We care about reaching kids
Mark Batterson on "Seven Leadership Principles" (you can read the entire post here):
  • The bigger we get, the more grounded we have to stay
  • The bigger we get, the more above reproach we need to be
  • The bigger we get, the harder it is to maintain unity
  • The bigger we get, the more complicated things get
  • The bigger we get, the more we have to guard our hearts
  • The bigger we get, the better stewards we need to be
  • The bigger we get, the more we have to remind ourselves of why we're doing what we're doing and who we're doing it for
BOTH are extremely valuable reminders. BOTH are incredibly applicable to Meadow Heights Church as we experience God's blessings during our own "growing season."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Power To Shape The Future

I spent some time talking with a close friend last night. He has had a rough week, including the death of a former student. It seems neither one of us can escape the emotional past of our teaching careers. As any teacher will tell you, building relationships with your students is one of the most rewarding elements of education. As all relationships go, this can be both good and bad, pleasant and messy, authentic or not, and temporary or long-lasting. But it's all worth it. When a student writes or calls you years later to thank you for making a difference in their lives...well, it's one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences.

Each and every one of us has the power to make a difference in someone's life. The relationships we build, the conversations we have, the words we use...all of those have influence. We can all recall times in the past when someone shared some kind words with us, or built into us. We can equally remember the not so good times when we were criticized, verbally abused or shunned. Both have the power to shape lives. There are probably thoughts from your past running through your mind right now.

So I'll close with a reminder that what we say today can have a lasting impact on tomorrow. Choose your words carefully. Just as you have arrived today with words from the past, so will those you come into contact with today relive in the future. The power of the positive. The glass half full. Build and restore.
"Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me," he said. "And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference." Luke 9:48 (MsgB)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Give Me A "W"

I held up for Wal Mart a few posts back, but this latest news story has me questioning which side of the fence they play. After using only the word "Holiday" in their television and print ads over the past few years, here's what one representative had to say:
"We learned a lesson from that. Merry Christmas is now part of the vocabulary here at Wal-Mart," said Linda Blakley, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.
I can only assume that as more attention is given to the fact that "spirituality" in our nation is on the rise, Wal Mart will "adjust" its marketing strategy to accommodate. While it's true that marketing is a key ingredient for success, Wal Mart was founded upon a core ideology of the common man. Christmas was celebrated because of Jesus, not to accomplish a marketing plan. Flopping back and forth as the wind blows has become the norm as convenience triumphs over values.

So for now, I guess Wal Mart has once again put the Merry back in Christmas.

If Tomorrow Never Comes

Well it's been a busy week as usual. It's been more, more, more in less time. Rob Wegner talked about this concept in a message from Granger Community Church a few weeks ago. If you struggle with "busyness" then stop whatever you are doing and download his message. It's only $4.00 and you won't regret it. If you can't afford the four bucks, email me and I'll check on sharing a copy with you.

A few takeaways:
  • We keep trying to do more, more, more in less time. What if we turned that upside down and did less in more time. Not sure how to do that? Read what Jesus has to say.
  • We are a society full of experiences but we are missing out on the relationships.
  • Some of us are no longer human "beings" but are now human "doings."
Seth Godin talked a few weeks ago about marketing and branding. His point was whether or not people will remember you when your gone. He gave reference to Tower Records who shut their doors last week. Will anyone remember Tower Records in a few years? Probably not.

Would anyone miss you if you were gone tomorrow? Is the "more, more, more" that you are accomplishing today going to make a difference tomorrow? What will people say about you when your gone?

Maybe the more important question is what people are saying about you today. Today is a perfect day to start making a difference. As the classic hit song suggests, "If tomorrow never comes..." Don't wait.

Monday, November 06, 2006

MPACT Day 2006

MPACT Day 2006 - what an amazing day!! Hundreds of volunteers from Meadow Heights Church partnered with area schools this past Saturday morning to complete projects ranging from painting to clean up to repairs. In total, 7 schools (Fredericktown, Marquand, Patton, Ironton, Piedmont, Farmington and MO Baptist University) were "mpacted" in a positive way.

I was at the Fredericktown school, and WOW! Watching over a hundred people working together to make our schools a better place was simply a phenomenal experience. Why did we do this? Was it to promote an agenda? To "expect" something in return? I think the scripture I quoted a few days ago says it all:
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35 (MsgB)
Love. Showing love to others in a practical way. Serving others the way Jesus asks us to serve - by following His example. And that's exactly what hundreds of people did at 7 different schools.

I hope this is just our first step in loving our community and MPACTing others. We will do what only we can do, and we'll let God take care of what only He can do. A HUGE thanks to all those who dedicated their time, energy and talent to make MPACT day a success. THANK YOU!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Be Our Guest!

We had a great visit after our Saturday evening gathering with 20 folks from Trinity United Methodist Church in Piedmont, Missouri. This growing church had some great questions for us about the lessons we have learned in the past and how they might gain some insight from our experiences.

First of all, we realize that we certainly don't have all the answers, just the ones that have worked for us. We were also very humbled by the fact that other churches would ask us for advice. Secondly, we are excited by the opportunity that God is giving us to impact other local churches. We have been helped by so many other churches on our own journey and we want to pass along as much information and help as we possibly can.

It was awesome to be able to answer their questions, but I was stuck by the fact that we were answering questions we had already worked through and answered many months or even years ago. That made me wonder about when we travel to other churches or conferences and ask questions - do they have that same feeling as well?

Thanks again to Michael and his church for spending Saturday evening with us!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Even Wal Mart Loves Sinners

I've been thinking about how to shape my comments for this particular post. That's not normally my mode of thinking, but I'm not sure how to phrase what I'm about to say any other way. Religion sucks. I am blown away at the comments of people who claim to "represent" those of us who follow Jesus.

Take this week for example. Our beloved Missouri Baptist Convention met for their yearly shindig, and I'm sure the normal course of conversation filled the air. "How are you doing?" "I'm just fine. How are you doing?" (feign an interested voice here) "Well how is your church doing?" "Just great. We blah blah blah this year. How about you?" "Well, not so good. You won't believe what our pastor is doing blah blah blah."

And then they convene.

"Hear ye! Hear ye! Let this meeting come to order. I've got an idea. How about we vote to oust the gay population from our earth?"

Don't believe this happened? Read this story.

The MO Baptist Convention adopted a formal resolution pledging to "ban" consumer support of all Wal Mart stores. Or in more "politically correct" language, to "exercise moral stewardship regarding the businesses they patronize." Some delegates (messengers to be exact) demanded harsher words be used in the resolution. Why the ban? Simply because Wal Mart has agreed to provide an equal opportunity working environment free from discrimination.

Now please don't misunderstand me. I am not in favor of gay rights, gay lifestyle, or any other "choice" that someone may make. I believe that God has set up an order of marriage that includes a man and a woman in one of the most sacred relationship. That part is biblically very clear.

The part I don't read about in the Bible is where we condemn those who may have a different sin than us. Let's face it. All sin is sin. If we are going to ban Wal Mart for allowing gays to work there, shouldn't we ban other businesses who have employees who are having sex out of marriage, or maybe an employee that beats their spouse, or someone who doesn't spend any time with their kids? Or better yet, let's not shop any place where there are sinners at all. Won't that fix the problem?

Jesus doesn't tell us to love only those who agree with our same beliefs. He says to love one another as He loves us:
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35 (MsgB)
Many people are confused on this issue. WE DON'T GET TO CHOOSE. Will you be a radical follower and disciple of Jesus, or will you simply be content to live a life full of religion?

We will never fix life's problems. Never. We will always fall short of the perfectness God originally designed. Ignoring the problem or "voting it away" like it never happened is similar to the colloquial expression "calling the kettle black." When you clean up the pot, it's still black.

Let me suggest something radical. Something so radical that Jesus thought of it (and was certainly accused of it) 2000 years ago. What if we simply develop relationships with those who have never experienced the love God? No condemning, no judging. Authentic relationships built on authentic conversations.

Let's do our part and let God take care of the rest.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Have you been "flogged" lately?

Blogging or Flogging? That's the question posed by Jon Ferguson in his new blog. Here's the summation:

1) You know you're "flogging" when your blog becomes a backhanded way to confront somebody or deal with something in public that should have been handled in private.

2) You know you're "flogging" when you communicate stuff through your blog that the people you work with should hear from you firsthand before the rest of the world.

3) You know you're "flogging" when your writing more than 50% of your blog posts after midnight.

4) You know you're "flogging" when your wife (spouse) reads your blog to find out what you're really thinking.

5) You know you're "flogging" and not "blogging" when most of your posts include numbered lists like this one.

Well, except for the first one, I think I'm guilty as charged!

My Little Tinkerbell

Do you remember trick-or-treating when you were young? I can remember my mom dropping me off in town and a friend and I would literally run block to block trying to shove as much candy into a sack as possible. We would usually be all sweaty and worn out by the time the evening was over, but man! Did we ever have candy!

Today's Halloween climate is a bit different. Neighborhoods are not quite as safe as they used to be, some folks give out "healthier" version of candy (or candy alternatives - geez...give me a break!), and the costumes are less "homemade" and more made-over.

With that being said, I still enjoy taking my little one trick-or-treating and this year was no exception. My "Tinkerbell" was a trooper (battling an ear-ache) and enjoyed gathering candy throughout the evening. Now sure would be a good time to teach tithing!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

O is for Oprah and for Outreach

Oprah has given a lot of cash and prizes away to her guest audience before, but yesterday she gave them something quite unusual: a $1000 gift card that had to be "given away." Did I hear that correctly? Give away? Is this simply another confirmation that God is on the move and Acts 2 is becoming a reality?

You can read the entire story here, but I love this quote from the show she claimed is one of her favorites:
"You're going to open your hearts, you're going to be really creative, and you're going to spend it all at once on one stranger or spend a dollar on every person," Winfrey said. "Imagine the love and kindness you can spread with $1,000."
It doesn't end with Oprah. It starts with all of us. It may be money, or physical talent, or even time, but it starts with each of us. What will you "give away" this week?

The Deer Hunter

I've never been a big hunter. As a matter of fact, I have only been hunting one time. A friend took me turkey hunting and here's how that played out: I trekked five mintues into the woods, sat down, looked out into a field, saw a dozen or so turkeys land, raised my gun, shot, grabbed my turkey and headed for breakfast. Total time? Less than thirty minutes. Isn't that the way all hunting trips are supposed to work?

Our small town is hung up on the hunting thing, so not wanting my son to feel "out of place" or to be made fun of at school (such a thoughtful dad, right?), I agreed to let him go hunting with a friend of mine (BIG props out to Jason Wengler for investing some time with my son!!). Little did I know that he would come back with his first deer! He was pumped (I can't say the same for my wife) and ready to eat some deer sticks and jerky.

I'm so glad Seth had this experience. It would have been easy to let my pride get in the way, for me to feign an expertise in hunting, and ultimately Seth would have been the one to suffer. I am so thankful that we have a community of friends who are willing to invest in our teenagers! We are all gifted in different ways, and big or small, we are the only ones who can choose to offer our gifts to others.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Universe Is Spinning

It's been a crazy past three days. I'm not quite sure where it all went, but I do know that much emotion, effort and determination played a key role. Here's a summation of what's been happening:
  • Funeral - the sudden death of one of my former students (and my daughter's classmate - the third from their graduating class!) was a definite shock to our community. A good kid with a big heart. Kevin, we'll miss ya!
  • Carninals Win! - the Cardinals celebrated their World Series Victory in fine fashion on Friday night. I must admit, I liked the Tigers and their scrappy spirit!
  • Youth Hunt - a good friend of ours took my son deer hunting on Saturday morning, and yep, Seth shot his first deer ever. I'll post a pic later.
  • Wedding - another former student of mine asked me to play saxophone in her wedding. It was a beautiful event and I know she will be very happy!
  • Weekend Gatherings - we had some huge crowds this weekend - the box score will reveal the final details, but I would imagine we'll break the 600 mark again this weekend. God is definitely on the move!
  • CLASS Night - we had well over 100 people attend our CLASS night. I will be shocked if we don't break our past attendance record. We also implemented CLASS 401 for the first time and revealed part of our MPACT plan.
There is so much more spinning around in my head right now, but that will have to be processed later. But now, I will be enjoying some time off with my wife and daughter!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


There has been a lot of buzz around the A2 conference at Willow Creek this week. I haven't read a lot commentary from this event, but Perry Noble shares his thoughts from the conference on his blog. I did catch part of the live streamcast on Wednesday, and from the few minutes of Craig Groeschel that I heard, I was blown away by what I was hearing. I can't wait to listen or watch the recordings.

Willow has put up several links to downloads from the event. You can find those here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Let the Revolution Begin

Perry Noble talks about his staff in a recent post. What's so amazing to me is that God has prepared so many key leaders in advance and has placed them in each of our churches at exactly the right time. Around Meadow Heights we call this having the "right people in the right seat on the right bus at the right time."

I'm sure many of us could share story after story about how the staff we work with are the "best ever." It's another confirmation to me that the Revolution is beginning.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Christ Follower Part 2

Eric Bramlett and his team at CCC have done it again with "I'm A Christ Follower Part 2." You can check out the video here, or go to YouTube and do a quick search. This is hilarious! Thanks Eric!

An Unstoppable Force

To "mega-church" or not to "mega-church," that is the question. Or is it? Alex McManus takes a stab at this question in his recent article. While I don't agree completely with Alex on the current status of church in America, I do agree with the basis of his conclusion: we need to return to the roots of church in the 1st Century.

A friend of mine coined a unique phrase that I think is a great representation of where Meadow Heights Church is today. Here's what he said:
"Meadow Heights is taking first century values (the teachings of Jesus) and applying them to a 21st Century world."
I love how he's phrased that. We've been talking in great length lately about Acts 2:42-47 and how that passage of scripture is not simply a historical story, but it is coming to fruition in our day and age. In fact, it's the vision we feel God has laid out before us and is challenging us to take hold of without apology. We're staking everything we have around building this dream.

Whether our church is "mega" or just a few, the question is not about the size, but are we following the teachings of Jesus? Does mega describe the number of people in our church, or the size of the hearts of our people? Let's not forget to take a look in the mirror occasionally for a "heart check." The passion of reaching people who don't have a relationship with Jesus is only the first step - we have to have a plan of action to carry out the vision.

I know I've posted this before, but there is something incredible about this passage. If today's church catches hold of the power of this passage - not the power of the past, but it's power in the here and now - we will be an unstoppable force for Jesus. May these words be in your prayers this week.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Top 10 - Blogs I Visit Almost Daily

I thought I would camp out on some Top 10 categories for the next week or so. A quick reminder that Top 10 lists are intended for discussion, mindless fodder, or complete disregard. There's my disclaimer and I'm stickin' to it. If you don't agree with my Top 10 then post a comment, email me or make your own Top 10. It's just my opinion...for whatever that's worth!

Today's Top 10: Blogs I visit almost daily. I love reading blogs. I've try to keep my "blog roll" down to the bare minimum, but it's getting pretty crowded. I know several folks who use RSS feeds to keep up with daily posts. I haven't gone there yet, but I know that day is quickly approaching. But for now, I'll continue to poke around and click on each blog during my "blog hunt o' the day."

So, without further ado, Top 10 Blogs I visit almost daily (in no particular order):
  1. The Howser House. The personal blog of my friend, colleague, and fellow traveler, John describes daily life and all of his experiences in life. Life is good, right?
  2. Tony Morgan. One of the "Simply Strategic Guys" and also a very funny man. His takes on life and how God interacts with us are quite interesting and always entertaining.
  3. Evotional. Mark Batterson of National Community Church in D.C. has one of my favorite blogs. He is incredibly insightful, extremely funny, and down to earth. Plus, he's sending me a free copy of his newest book, "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day."
  4. Steve Emlund. One of my former students, Steve is studying graphic design at Truman in Kirksville. Steve is one of the most creative guys I know, and while he doesn't update his blog nearly as often as he should, his posts are well worth the read. He also posts samples of his work.
  5. Dave Ferguson. I first met Dave at a multi-site conference his church (Community Christian Church) hosted. Dave is one of those guys who is immediately likeable. I enjoy reading his blog for the practical insights and helpful tips he provides.
  6. Eric's Eddyfications. The blog of Eric Bramlett, the Creative Arts Director at Community Christian. I met Eric at the multi-site conference as well, and his blog has some wonderfully creative ideas. His videos are very...hmmm...entertaining? Bring on the Seuss!
  7. Seth's Blog. Seth Godin is a marketing guru. His concepts for business are many times a perfect fit for the church. This guy is incredibly intelligent - a must for anyone in business or involved at church!
  8. Digg. Man, I love this site!! As a techno-geek, Digg has links to just about every story on the web. Readers "digg" various stories which are tallied to let the reader know how "good" the story might be. It's really like hundreds of personal reporters giving you the "lowdown" before you invest a lot of time on your own. A highly recommended blog.
  9. Perry Noble. I have just started reading Perry's blog the past month or so and I haven't been disappointed. This guy tells it like it is and I love it! Perry's church, NewSpring Church has exploded with growth and changed lives. His blog details his adventure.
  10. Bucketology. I couldn't post without visiting this site daily, right? This blog has been a great way for me to bleed my brain, pour out my emotions, or simply type out some meaningless stuff. For my few readers, thanks for coming along for the ride!
So there you have it. My Top 10 Blogs I visit almost daily. There are many others who are worthy of consideration, but many of you guys don't update consistently - you know who you are! I would love to know some other blogs that you guys visit almost daily. Please add to this list in the comment section as you see fit!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Promise

I'm back in town from three wonderful days at the "I Promise" marriage conference. Our full-time ministry staff and our wives traveled to Branson with many laughs, tired backsides, and sessions filled with incredible insights and stories. It was a great reminder to me about the importance of my marriage (and ALL marriages) and some great thoughts on how to focus on building into my wife and my marriage.

There were some great speakers including Dr. Gary Smalley, Dr. Gary Chapman, Ed and Lisa Young, and John and Nancy Ortberg. With 9 sessions in two and a half days and no computer access, I won't even try to recap all the sessions. Some big takeaways?
  • No one can control how you react to any given situation or circumstance except yourself.
  • Just because you haven't taken a "big exit" in your marriage doesn't mean you can overlook the "little exits."
  • It's hard to worship when you are constantly "scrutinizing" the programming and execution of the music (or lack thereof)
  • I love food and I'm full of it (the food that is)
  • Ed and Lisa were very dynamic; John and Nancy...well...they're not
  • Gary Smalley is funny...very funny and has some great stories
  • "Hiding God's Word In My Heart" has taken on a totally new meaning for me
  • Our hotel was stunning - Chateau on the Lake is a great place to stay (and they have phenomenal soap!)
  • Mac is still funny with five women in a van
  • Out of the five couples, Melissa and I have been married the longest (man...that is scary!)
I could go on, but it's getting late and there is much to do to get ready for the weekend. The conference was great, and three days with my wife is a huge blessing for us since we don't get that opportunity very often. Now let's see if we can put what we have learned into practice!

Monday, October 16, 2006

I've Got Some Change In My Pocket...

Another phenomenal weekend at Meadow Heights Church. We're in a series called "NEXT," and can I say a huge thanks to our lead pastor Bryan for having enough fortitude to say the things he is saying? (Props also to Bryan for "boss's day" - God, you can have some props too...:) NEXT is one of those series that our church family will look back in a few months with amazement at how God transformed so many lives.

We showed our "year in review" baptism video as well (always one of my favorites) with the Leeland song "Tears of the Saints" that I mentioned in a previous post. Forty-four changed lives last year...what an unbelievable movement of God! Bryan also shared our multi-site vision for the first time on a weekend. Everyone was so supportive and I sensed great anticipation for what the future holds.

I read a quote this week that made a lot of sense to me: people aren't afraid of change...they're afraid of being changed. Fear is simply a deception that Satan uses to keep us from experiencing what God has planned. Somehow Jesus turns all of that fear into an incredible passion. We've experienced so much change over the past five years as a church, and none of it without incredible prayer and listening to what God had to say. As a result, we continue to see life after life impacted by the love of Jesus.

This weekend: connectNEXT - building connections to our Life Groups. I'll leave you with the question that has quickly become our "theme" for this series:

What's NEXT? And will I do it?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Midnight Madness - Let the Games Begin!

It's an exciting day. No, not because it's Friday the 13th - it's the first "official" day that NCAA basketball teams may begin practice. Dubbed "midnight madness" more than 30 years ago, this day marks the official start towards March Madness! I can't wait to see how the Rock Chawk Jayhawks trounce the competition!

Unleash the LION

Mark Batterson pretty well sums it up:
Grab life by the mane.

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop criticizing and start creating. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Laugh at yourself. Keep making mistakes. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. And remember: if God is for us who can be against us?

Unleash the lion chaser within!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sling and a Prayer

Well, I spent last night in the emergency room with my son. He had taken a nasty fall directly on his elbow, and from all appearances, it looked to be broken. We promptly drove to the emergency room for some x-rays, and after two and a half hours, headed home with a simple sling. The results? No break! He had broken the same arm (the wrist, actually) two years before, and experienced similar pain, but after all was said and done, he's in the clear.

At one point in my life I had thought about becoming a doctor. Each time I visit the emergency room the little urge from somewhere deep within me screams out. Why is it when you should experience some of the best care ever, your grand expectations are met with a whimper? Our nurse was very kind, but the doctor had less than average english skills, no "bed-side manners," and didn't return to read a simple x-ray for over an hour and a half! WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO PROVIDE CUSTOMER SERVICE in a hospital?

Maybe it's just our hospital. I had a similar experience in a nearby hospital as well. I've always had the mindset that first impressions and customer service were critical. At Meadow Heights Church, this is one of our core values - doing everything with a high level of excellence. We get comment cards all the time that talk about how friendly our folks are, and the level of excellence with which we approach things. The old addage "God deserves our very best" should not be taken lightly. Mark Batterson calls this "an eye for excellence." Small things really do make a BIG difference.

So for now, I'll squelch my long-lost dream of becoming a doctor and focus on how God continues to do the healing. And my advice? Stay out of the emergency room!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Had Enough?

It's no secret that people fight a lot over two things: religion and politics. While I'm not one to banter endlessly about politics, the latest "slogan" I've seen thrown about the television, internet and other venues is just about ridiculous. The Democrats have rallied around a common theme..."Had Enough?" What in the world is that supposed to mean? How about, here's what's gone wrong, and here's how we're going to fix it. Let's face it - anyone can exclaim they've had enough. It takes real leadership to identify the problem, have honest conversations and find solutions. Shouldn't they follow the mantra "Solutions are for winners - excuses are for losers?" "Had enough" certainly fits the latter.

Don't get the wrong idea, I'm quickly losing faith in the current leadership of our country. There have been some bad decisions (or sometimes lack of decisions) in the past few years, and there's nothing I dislike more than a "fence rider" who can't seem to find a true leadership direction. But I also understand that we are human and will never be perfect in our decisions. Every President of our great country has made a decision they have looked back on with some regret. Wouldn't you say the same is true of your own life? It's also important to remember that every decision does have consequences - good or bad.

As a young college student, I used to claim the "party line" when voting, but I have come to the distinct conclusion that while many people argue about politics and religion, they are not all that different. Let me explain. Religious people = Religion. The Pharisees claimed to have the ONLY true way to worship God. They created a false world full of rules and strict guidelines. If you didn't follow their way, then it couldn't be the "right way." Politicians = Politics. Policiticians claim to have the ONLY answers to political strife. They created a false world full of rules and guidelines to fit their agenda. Do you see the irony?

Let me suggest something quite daring - what if we viewed the world the way Jesus asked us? Instead of religion and politics, what if we looked at the person? Instead of "which crowd do I fit in with (which "rules" do I want to follow)," what if it became "who's the person with strong morals and an ethical compass (lives the truth)?" What a radical way to approach a candidacy! Would the world accept someone like that? They certainly didn't accept Jesus, but that didn't stop him from moving forward.

None of us are perfect, but I'm afraid we've put on our blinders and have narrowed our view of the world, the people around us, and even ourselves. Am I ready for "a change?" Most definitely. But not by blindly misleading others to abandon seeking truth for themselves. "Had Enough?" is a cover up, and quite frankly, it's one of the oldest tricks in the books.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I Called, You Answered

We had a great weekend at Meadow Heights Church - a great message we all needed to hear, a great crowd, a baptism and some great music. One of the songs we sang is quickly becoming a favorite. I have to admit, I wasn't a huge fan at first, but when the lyrics finally take hold of your heart, they just won't let go.

I called
You answered
And You came to my rescue
And I want to be where You are

In my life
Be lifted high
In our world
Be lifted high
In our love
Be lifted high

I read a quote on Mark Batterson's blog tonight from C.T. Studd. I'd never heard of him before, but I found out he was a great missionary and had some some incredible thoughts about Jesus. When I read this quote, it was clear that God was putting the exclamation point on the day. I pray that this is only the beginning.

Some wish to live within the sound
Of Church or Chapel Bell.
I want to run a rescue shop
within a yard of Hell.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tears of the Saints

If you haven't checked out the Leeland cd, you've got to take a listen. This 17 year old songwriter and worship leader from Texas has some of the best lyrics I have heard in a long time. My personal favorite? Tears of the Saints. My favorite lyrics?
This is an emergency!
There are tears from the saints
For the lost and unsaved

We’re crying for them come back home
He goes on to say:
There are schools full of hatred
Even churches have forsaken
Love and mercy
May we see this generation
In it’s state of desperation
For Your glory
For the unrealized dreams that are in the minds of so many people, God has given us an opportunity to live out His dream: to see people reconnected with Him. It is an emergency. An emergency dictates immediate action, and we find ourselves in the right place, at the right time, with the best source of hope ever...the love of Jesus. It's time to come back home. Jesus lead the way. Our tears are falling for those who don't know you.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Best Friends

Tony Morgan posted recently about serving in the Middle School ministry and asking the kids the question, "Who is my best friend?" His response? Not his pastor, not one of his colleagues, not a long-time friend, but his wife. I love that response.

Ever since I have known my wife Melissa, we have always enjoyed spending time together. Over the course of our marriage (nearing 20 years!!), we have purposely found employment together - from the grocery business, to our own business, to school business, and now (at times) church business. We came to the realization a long time ago that we really enjoy working together.

I have heard many others talk about how they would not enjoy (is hate too strong of a word here?) working with their spouse. The common thoughts? "How would we handle conflict? Could he/she handle 'taking orders' from me? What if I get the sudden urge to plant a big fat wet one on my spouse and someone walks in on us?" So many questions!

You know what I have figured out? None of that really matters when you really love someone. The old addage "where there's a will there's a way" is put into practice. While there may be times when I am too demanding or my approach is a bit too brash, a gentle reminder and honest communication quickly puts things back into perspective. One thing is for certain - we will always walk away knowing how much we love one another. Sometimes our love grows even more.

So I close this post reminded about how much God loves me, how much I have been blessed with a great wife, a great family, great friends, a great church, a great job and a great life. Even when life gets a bit challenging, my glass will remain eternally "half full!"

Granger Film Festival

Granger Community Church hosted their first ever Film Festival as part of the Innovative Church Conference. As an avid videographer and film connoiseur, I am always interested in veiwing others' work.

Granger has posted their favorite entries from the festival. You can watch those here. Which ones are your favorites? Any "unusual" entries? As we continue to emphasize video at Meadow Heights and as I continue to quench my video desires, I pray that someday God will unleash my vision for a short film. I have felt for some time that I would like to write, direct, shoot and edit a short feature film, but I haven't had peace about what or how that would or should look like.

I would welcome any thoughts or ideas for plot lines, character identities, or the like. Feel free to email me any comments or suggestions.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I Need A Hero

Well, it's upon us again...the Fall television season. I've noticed that I am watching far less television this fall than ever before. Could it be the busyness of my life? Possibly. Could it be that I only have local channels? More likely.

Of course, I still won't miss my favorites: Prison Break, House, Survivor. I am having a bit of withdrawal syndrome as well after missing every episode of The Amazing Race so far. And then I happen to be at a friend's house catching a Monday Night Football game (which, by the way, I can't watch at home for the first time in my lifetime because I only get local channels!!), when he flips over to the "High Def" side of his massive 50 inch or so tv while pausing it at times on his high-def DVR. Man!! Am I ever technologically jealous!! I'm still watching regular ole' tv on my 27 incher that my family has watched for the past 10 years!

I have been pleasantly surprised by NBC's new show called "Heroes." I wasn't terribly impressed the first week, but week 2 held some creative story lines, very solid acting, and some crazy action scenes. It definitely held my attention! They are doing a great job weaving the plot between 5 or so story lines.

Still on the top of my list has to be Prison Break and House. If you haven't caught these two Fox shows...well never mind. There might not be hope for you. :)

Until the next time, I'm off to watch my incredibly lo-def, low tech 27" local channels only machinery!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Kingdom Revolution

I have been sensing God at work lately, especially at Meadow Heights, but NewSpring Church had a phenomenal weekend - they baptized 402 people!! Perry Noble is definitely a "no-bones-about-it" type of guy, but very creative, speaks his mind, and of course, God-driven.

I love how Perry describes what God is doing at NewSpring because I think it applies to Meadow Heights as well:
I told our church this tonight…and I will say it here…I believe this is only the beginning! If you study the Great Awakenings in church history–they started in unknown places among unknown people…they started at a place where only God could get the glory for what was going on…and that is exactly what is happening here.
We are poised for a Kingdom Revolution the likes of which we haven't seen in our lifetimes. The story is unfolding, the dreams are materializing, and Acts 2 IS BECOMING REALITY!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Falling Into Grace

“So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.” 2 Cor. 4:16 (Msg)

Believe it or not, fall is officially here! I love this time of year, especially the beauty of nature as the colors of fall appear across the hillsides. Fall is definitely a time of change: the leaves, school beginning, our clothing. And change is an inevitable part of life.

There was another fall, the “Great Fall” in the Garden of Eden, and the results produced one of the greatest “changes” in history. No longer were we able to live in a perfect world designed the way God intended, but by our own choice, we determined a new path. A path not so easy. A path filled with many challenges.

Fortunately, God is merciful. Through Jesus we are able to live a new life. Even when life presents us with a new challenge, we can find comfort in Him. Even when everything screams “I’m falling apart” on the outside, inside we can have the peace that only God can bring. That’s when God unfolds His grace, scoops us up in His arms, and reminds us of His love.

As you sit behind the wheel of your car this week, look outside. You’ll probably notice the leaves beginning to fall, but find comfort in the fact that spring is just around the corner. God has promised He is making “new life” on the inside, and His grace is waiting to unfold.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Granger Media

Granger Community Church has recently updated their new "media player," and I must say I am very impressed. They have really made a user friendly environment with a great feel for their church. They have links for music, dramas, "extras," messages, and a whole lot more. Go to their home page and click on the media player link in the upper right hand corner. It's definitely worth a look!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Some great quotes from Perry Noble, senior pastor of NewSpring Church, that everyone should read. These were captured during his session at Granger Church's "Innovative Church Conference." Quotes courtesy of Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church, via Mark's blog, evotional.

(note: this was a weak attempt at trying to link to a lot of places in one blog entry)

Friday, September 22, 2006


There's still hope for some of us! Check out this article on Japanese golfer Mitsuhiro Tateyama who shot a 19 on a par 3. I knew I wasn't the only one who struggled with this!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Face Is Worth 1000 Words

I enjoy reading Tim Sanders blog, and if you haven't checked it out, his principles can apply to almost all walks of life. Tim definitely addresses issues from a business perspective, but I think the church and communicators in particular can benefit from his insights.

One of his latest entries talks about a book by Dr. Albert Mehrabian entitled, "Silent Messages." Dr. Mehrabian makes an important point:
...when people aren't sure of what they hear, they resolve their understanding based on what they see. Are you frowning? Do you have your arms folded? In fact, he concluded that 55% of our intentions are decoded by others visually (face, body language), 38% through auditory means (tone of voice) and only 7% verbally. That's why email is such a poor medium to convey emotions.
If accurate, this is an extremely important concept. If 93% of the time people "judge" you by your physical traits (visual) and your approachable status (tone of voice=welcoming environment) then first impressions are incredibly important. Once a person really gets to know you, recognition by posture, facial reactions, tonality, etc. is greatly enhanced.

I would argue that verbal communication is key to a long-term communication partnership. I admit that I am quick to judge someone based upon the first minute or two of conversation. I can usually tell a great deal by their word choice and language structure and, right or wrong, my overall impression of that person is often determined in short order. I think others would agree with me.

I do agree with Dr. Merhabian on the email point. I have often stated that while email communication (my preferred method) is great for short bursts of conversation, it is very poor for important words and especially dangerous when trying to convey an emotional response to a given situation. While you might be very clear on your verbage, many times your "email train" departs the station without clarity from the other party. Emotions are very difficult to communicate through email in an effective way and can often be detrimental and lead to unfortunate circumstances, even when unintended.

Sanders goes on to make an application to your next meeting and some other valuable tips. My challenge for all of us is to pay more attention to your next personal interaction with someone. What do you notice first? Does this leave an impression on you? Is this a fair representation of that person? How about their facial expression? I think we'll all be watching (pun intended!) for the results!

Maynard: Gonna Fly Now

I had the opportunity to attend the Maynard Ferguson tribute concert last night, and I must say..."WOW!" What a phenomenal event to honor the life of one of the greatest trumpet players. The night kicked off at 7:30pm with a slideshow of pictures on loan from his family (who was in attendance as well), and then went flying into the first set. Each tune featured a different trumpet player, and it just kept getting better and better.

Highlights of the evening included hearing Eric Miyashiro, Wayne Bergeron, and the ever-talented vocalist Diane Schuur. The band was hot and swingin' and the finale included the grand-daddy of all Maynard tunes, "Rocky" complete with 23 trumpets screaming their way to the last note. The concert was professionally recorded, and it is definitely a DVD you'll want to own (all 3 1/2 hours of it!!). A fitting tribute to the man simply known as "The Boss."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

God IS in the iPod

Mark Batterson has an interesting post about Saddleback Church. He talks about how each new staff member at Saddleback is given an iPod. Saddleback also does a lot of staff training via iPod.

I realize that I've been on staff in some capacity for three years, but CAN teach an old dog new tricks right? Bryan, do I smell an iPod in my future? It is for educational purposes you know!

Song of Songs

We did a message series earlier this year called "God.Love.Sex" - it was a great series that brought a biblical perspective to relationships, and yes I'll say it We still have many people asking for the cd's for this particular series, and there is no doubt it left a tremendous impact on our church.

I read this post this morning from Tony Morgan, and it brought back some memories. Tony always has a great sense of humor as well as some incredible insights. If you don't follow his blog, add it to your rss feed today!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cheaters Never Win?

Andy Stanley has written a great little article for the Catalyst monthly e-zine. He talks about how it's so difficult for those of us in ministry to "balance" our time between work and family. He even goes so far to suggest that if we have to "cheat," that we cheat the church and not our families. While I hope to avoid making that type of decision, I do agree with his philosophy of family first.

I have not lived this philosophy for most of my life, but I am really trying to overcome my "work-a-holic" tendencies. One of the best ways I have found to combat this tendency is to go in early and leave at the same time every day. For me that means I try to get into the office by 7:30am and then leave no later than 4pm. Most of my colleagues and our support staff know when I will be leaving, and it's amazing how that has made a difference. Now I try to schedule everything I need to do in that amount of time. Even when things are not quite completed by the end of the day, I try my best to set it aside and value my family's time by leaving the office. As I have often quoted through the years, "All I can do is all I can do, and all I can do has to be enough."

While I still violate this newly found principle occasionally, my relationship with my wife and family has been strengthened, and they know that I am committed to them and not just my work. You can read all of Andy's article here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Most everyone has been to the mall at least once this year. Chances are many of you have visited the mall more than you'd like to admit. One thing is for sure; we live in an era of branding and marketing. Companies spend billions of dollars on advertising every year, and some even mega-dollars marketing their marketing.

Take these trends noted in the book, "Affluenza: the All-Consuming Epidemic:"
  • We have twice as many malls as high schools
  • We spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches than on higher education
  • Only 1/4 of shoppers have a particular purchase in mind when they go to the mall
  • Parents spend six hours shopping each week, and forty minutes playing with their children
  • 70% of Americans visit a mall each week; that's more than visit houses of worship
This reminds me of a story from Donald Miller (one of my favorite authors!). He talks about how in Canada, products are simply labeled for what they are. Take for instance, a bottle of dish-washing liquid. In Canada it is labeled exactly that, but in the U.S., it's not just dish-washing liquid, it's a sensual experience for your hands. As a matter of fact, the more you use it, the sexier you become. Donald then claims that he has purchased case after case of this liquid, but still nobody wants to have sex with him.

Sometimes we treat God like a product. We think that God should provide exactly what we want, when we want it, and how we want it delivered. If God fails to deliver, then we'll go somewhere else and shop for Him. Even churches start putting their faith in God as a product. "Let's assess everyone's felt needs and market to them in a savvy way so they'll come buy from us." Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, puts it this way, "...scriptural teaching about the curse, death as the wages of sin, the flooding of the earth, the killing of Egyptian babies, the slaughter of perverts in Sodom and Gomorrah, and the fiery torments of hell is a tough sell even for the best of marketing firms."

When we treat God like a product we become "self-worshipers." We no longer have focus on God, but the focus becomes spotlighted on us. We are so wrapped up in TV, and the internet, and advertisements that cater to us - we has turned into me, me, and more me. It's an easy game to keep playing, and one so many "hoppers and shoppers" continue to drown in. It's no wonder we find less and less "optimists" and so many more "my glass is half empty and the world wants to drink the rest" type people. This might be the main reason so many churches are experiencing a decline in attendance - nobody wants to hang around negative people - nobody.

I love what Jesus has to say in Matthew 6. He's talking about prayer, but I think this applies to so many different areas on our lives:

Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Matthew 6:6 (MSG)
As we countdown the final weeks of our series on Grace at Meadow Heights Church, I pray our focus (both as a Church and for one another) will be on God and not ourselves. It's easy to get distracted and for someone or something to "cut in on our race." But if we aim our focus upwards towards Him, we will finish the race strong:
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Hebrews 12:2 (MSG)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Deep Thoughts

A few of my favorite Jack Handey "Deep Thoughts" quotes:

When Gary told me he had found Jesus, I thought, Yahoo! We're rich! But it turned out to be something different.

If you work on a lobster boat, sneaking up behind people and pinching them is probably a joke that gets old real fast.

Probably the saddest thing you'll ever see is a mosquito sucking on a mummy. Forget it, little friend.

For you Disney lovers:
One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh, no," I said, "Disneyland burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.

And for all of us in "The Amazing Grace" series:
If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did."

You can read more here.

Dessert anyone?

We had a great Life Group tonight. We didn't meet most of the summer, and we've been challenged to really pray for the "open chair" for this week. Little did we know that God would add a total of 20 people to our group tonight!! (And if you included all the kids, a total of 34!!) Even though the room was packed, it felt very comfortable and we had some great discussion about the power of grace in each of our lives.

As always, the food was great. We asked folks to bring a side dish and/or a dessert, and little did I know that we would end up with over 10 different desserts!! What a paradise!! The highlight was a "chess pie" still warm from the oven with a scoop of coffee ice cream. Mmmm, mmmm. I LOVE DESSERTS!!

I am so thankful that God has given us an opportunity to share life together with so many people. While it's always a stretch to add new people to a group (change in dynamics), the end result is an opportunity for lives to be impacted. Our role is to be obedient to what He wants to do through us, and I feel like our group has such a healthy outlook in this regard.

We ended by talking about multiplying (we avoided the term reproduction to stay focused) in the next three weeks and again prayed for the open chair. If we get any larger we'll have to think about renting space somewhere!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's Magically Delicious

Our Lead Pastor (that's a long "e" sound) Bryan shared a great quote with us today:

"When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't pray, they don't." - William Temple

Simple? Yes. Profound? Most definitely. Most of us take prayer for granted. Something magical (so others claim) happens when we focus on prayer. Ordinary things become noticed events. Noticed events become strange occurrences. Strange occurrences become odd coincidences. But with prayer, coincidences turn into miracles.

So here's your reminder - have you specifically focused on prayer today?