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?

Fall = Football

It's that time of year again...FOOTBALL SEASON!! I love football. Actually, I love most sports, but football in particular is one of my favorites. Even though I live in Missouri, I have been a HUGE Denver Broncos fan since I was about 7 years old. Good ole' Craig Morton! This weekend our own St. Louis Rams will be facing off against my Broncos...I'll try not too squeal to loudly as my Broncs put a whoopin' on the Rams.

My family and I attended our local football game tonight (which we won by the way!). I'm used to going to the games - I used to be the band director for a period of five years. Friday nights were a given. Since then I have traded my Friday's for the weekends! My wife was the Flag Director for four of those years as well, but has recently "retired' from that duty. This year has been particularly tough for her as she is not with "her girls" and has to watch them from the stands.

I was particularly struck tonight by the numbers of people at our games. If we continue to win, they'll stay. If not, the crowds will slowly dwindle. What hit me the most was how each person there had their own story. I would scan the crowd from person to person realizing that each of them came from a different lifestyle, a different view of God, a different perspective on the world. It became very apparent that the "church" has a large challenge ahead. If we are ever to see the reality of an Acts 2 church in our community, we have to keep working hard to build relationships. Relationships with people, the school, business, the community and so on.

That's one of the reasons I'm so excited about what Meadow Heights is praying boldy for in the future - to "impact our world" (notice we're looking beyond ourselves) "by leading changed lives" (lives changed by Jesus) "into an increasing number of biblical communities" (that's the heart of an Acts 2 church). We are really focusing on preparing the way for Jesus to invade everything that we do. There's nothing new with experiencing Jesus inside the church...what's radical is sharing those experiences with others on the outside. And that's exactly what we're preparing to do - become radical followers of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


There's a new blog that brings some fresh ideas to "online music." This blog, entitled "Blogmusik" allows the user to search their massive database for tunes that are completely playable online. I was amazed at the speed with which the songs loaded. Even a search for Coltrane netted 35 tunes that were available for listening. Registered users can even create a playlist for use at a later time.

You'll notice an uncanny resemblence to another well known portable music player, and while none of these songs are "downloadable," the concept is delivered in an easy-to-use format that should garner lots of attention in the weeks to come.

It's a Small World After All

It's a small world. We first met Dave Ferguson at the recent Multi-Site conference. On Dave's blog a few days ago he mentions a link to a blog that lists the Top 5 leadership books every leader should read. Naturally with that headline I immediately clicked over to scour the list. Little did I realize that the link was to none other than Mark Howell.

"Mark who?" you ask? Mark Howell was our first liason and coach to a small groups cohort through Life Together that Brett Eastman started just a few short years ago. While we developed our own strategies and Mac has since taylored those specifically for us, Mark and his team were instrumental in creating a base line for us to tweak, develop, ask questions, and streamline to fit our current "Life Group" structure. Bryan and I also had opportunity to fly out to Southern California to meet Mark and his team.

The long and short of it is that Mark has recommended 5 leadership books that all leaders should read. I have only read one of them (okay, really none...I have only read part of Good to Great and skimmed most of the rest of it - I guess it's time to pick it back up again!). I am an avid reader, although lately it seems that my reading time has been marginalized. I guess I have a new "list" to get started on.

While there are many categories of books, I want to focus on the leadership quadrant for just a moment. If you had to list your top leadership books, which ones would you choose? Post your list to this blog or email me. I am curious to know how similar Mark's list will be to all of yours. Here's to more reading!

Friday, September 01, 2006

From the Wacky and Weird File

I always knew that some day someone would invent "colored" toilet paper. I mean really...who wants to "do the duty" with the plain ole' white stuff? Renova has now made fashionable toilet paper in designer colors. It's reported to be soft and silky and make you feel "oh-so-special" at the modest price of $13 for a three-pack.

I wonder if they chose the colors based on the color wheel or some special color coordination model? Maybe the next step is for scented toilet paper. I don't know about you, but I always take time to smell my toilet paper, and doggone it, I am getting tired of the same ole' scent. It's time to freshen it up Mr. TP Company!!

And take a look at that photo! It looks to me that if I buy their toilet paper, I am sure to score with a hot lady who wears short dresses. For you single guys out there, that should really light your fire to pay over $4 a roll. I can hear the packages flying off the shelves already.

Hmmm...I wonder if they've been thinking about "glow-in-the-dark" toilet paper? Now there's an idea!!