Tuesday, February 28, 2012


My wife is sorting through stacks of our old pictures as we prepare to scan them and stop storing years of printed memories. I have enjoyed looking back through some of them and seeing how different our family is now. Looking at pictures of our children and remembering those simple times of wide-eyed innocence is enjoyable. Seeing the youthful look on my own face in those pictures is certainly different than what I see in the mirror each day. My wife (who is gorgeous & kind to me) did tell me that her thought after looking at so many snapshots is that she thought I had aged well. While I could stretch that to be a backhanded compliment, I know she meant it entirely as a positive statement.

The bigger question that I ask myself is not focused on my physical appearance, but whether I have changed positively in my character and personality from those early days. I could probably identify several areas in which I have seen growth and my marriage, my parenting, and my confidence in Christ are improved as a result. If you read my blog regularly, you also know that I certainly do not believe that I am a finished product or have "figured it out" either. I do think it's okay to reflect on the change that God has led you through and how far you have come in your faith. It's a good reminder of the  work that God has already done and the promise that He won't leave you the same as today either.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Learning As I Go

I have the pleasure of counseling a wide variety of people for many reasons in my calling. Some of them are for crisis-counseling/management reasons, some for preventive maintenance, and others who are looking for overall guidance and direction. I will be the first to admit that I don't have all the answers and won't pretend to do so. I do believe however, that through the truth of God's Word and our own God-led life experiences, we can relate the knowledge we have gained.

One of the big lessons that I have learned (and share quite often) is that we will be in seasons of life where we feel that things are not moving at the pace that we might desire. There are times when we may feel frustrated in relationships, our own spiritual growth, or the revealing of God's will for our lives. It is in these moments of prayer and meditation that we need to ask God, "What am I supposed to be learning right now?" I believe this is key in understanding that there are times of instruction and growth before God reveals what is next for us. It is in these moments of honing and refining that our true character is developed and we come to rely on God even more. It reflects a basic understanding that we have never "arrived" and that we are a continual work in progress.

That question is one that I need to continually ask of God-even when times are going smoothly and it seems that there is tranquility. Even though I know this is necessary I sometimes find myself forgetting that class is always in session. God is ever ready to answer that query from us as He molds us more into His likeness and prepares us for our future calling. It is a matter of obediently seeking out His response and allowing the instruction from the King to take root in our hearts.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


In his book, The Prodigal God, Tim Keller writes,"As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough for Him. You simply aren't sure God loves and delights in you."

How often is this true? How do we equate God's love for us with our sinful actions, thoughts, and attitudes? Do we honestly believe that God delights in and is filled with unconditional love & joy for us? When we struggle with this I believe it is because we are trained otherwise by our past experiences (parents, spouses, children, and job expectations.) 

The world equates value with a "what have you done for me lately" attitude, and God equates our value with a "see what I have done for you always" attitude. That is why we struggle to reconcile who He says He is with our estimation of our own worth. If we would realize that we simply cannot be good enough for Him regardless of our best intentions, we would gain a glimpse of His perfect love and start to understand our ultimate value through Him.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Peaceful Easy Feeling

In 1 Samuel 1:17-18, Hannah is praying feverishly for God to give her a son. She prays to the point of weeping and being unable to eat. As she prays in the temple she ends up receiving a kind word from the priest, Eli. This passage from The Message says that her face become radiant and she went to eat.

I thought a great deal about her change in countenance and how my own attitude doesn't necessarily reflect joy when I am praying. This was a woman who was desperate for an answer from God, but gained strength in knowing that God had heard her. Her joy became evident before she had received any answer to her prayer. She trusted God enough to know that He would work things out for the best and she could simply rest in that promise.

Where are we in this? Are we seeking God's face so desperately that it affects us? Are we wallowing in the apparent lack of an answer or are we having peaceful confidence in God's response time that may not match our own?

There are times for fervent prayer that may affect us emotionally and physically, but there must be a transition to joyful confidence in God's ability to listen and respond in His timing. Perhaps there is significance in the calmness of our heart after baring our souls to Him. There is nothing cursory about this-it is an understanding of the genuine concern God has for His children and His desire to provide what is best.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Penny or More

The art of thinking is highly undervalued. I believe that leaders must spend time in thought about vision, the current state of the organization, the health of people around you, and where God is leading you. It can be difficult to carve out the time for thought, but it is essential to gain perspective and grow.

In the same vein I find that too much introspective thought can become detrimental. While I enjoy the mental stimulation of in-depth processing I find that sometimes it can become overly inward focused. What begins as something positive can shift to becoming too critical of your own motivation, building up of scenarios that don't exist, and detracting from the meditation that should lead us closer to God. It is another reflection of God's directive to take every thought captive so that it builds us up and draws us closer to Him. It is a discipline that we learn to apply correctly as we increase in our Christian maturity.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I had the tremendous pleasure to take part in worship at a house church near GCSU tonight. We have been ministering to college students for some time now and several of them had invited me to be part of a Tuesday night with them. That is normally our family night, but this week my four lovelies are visiting my mother-in-law in Nashville for her birthday so my evening was free.

It was a total breath of fresh air for me. I had no expectations on me except to show up and be part of the work of the Holy Spirit. I didn't have to think about what was happening next, who might make a decision, if someone greeted a 1st time guest, and how well the logistics were working out. I was able to simply be in the room and experience the organic flows of worship without much thought but of praise. I didn't sing a note, but reveled in the sound of a packed house of college students as they sang and prayed aloud as the Spirit moved them. I was blessed by their enthusiasm and simply closed my eyes to dwell in the waves of praise as they crashed over me. I was comforted and ministered to by the sharing of the Word and could feel the Holy Spirit communicating directly to me through each verse. 

It was a reminder to me of the beauty of God and the passion that people share for His name & His truth. I see these same reminders each Sunday as well, but the change from the norm was a special blessing for me tonight. I am enthusiastically encouraged through the work God is obviously doing in this generation and especially glad that we could share in it together tonight. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Smells Like Horseradish

Dr. Howard Moskowitz said,  "To a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish."

Hearing the good doctor's quote reminded me that it is easy for us to become so focused on our circumstances that we fail to see what else is happening in the world around us. We miss out on what God might be trying to tell us because we are weighed down with our present status. The sound, sight, smell & touch of day-to-day can threaten to overwhelm the hope that we are intended to see through God's promises. When you are convinced you are trapped in the horseradish and you feel that you might drown in it, your perspective can make it almost impossible to sense anything else.

The emancipating truth is that God is still God even if life as we know it isn't flowing how we imagined. He is still the sovereign King who waits for His people to cry out for His saving grace once we recognize our desperate need. Even the stench of our current predicaments will disappear with the sweet fragrance of majestic rescue.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

That's Weird-Part 2

As a follow up on the blog about being weird by society's standards, here are a few thoughts on what that might look like for us.
  • Being part of a church by serving, giving & actively worshiping-not just attending.
  • Reordering our finances so that they serve God & not us.
  • Saying no to career opportunities because our family matters more to us.
  • Trusting God with our children's futures more than we trust ourselves.
  • Giving up vacation time during the year to go on mission trips instead.
  • Choosing not to take part in conversations that lead us away from God's perfection.
  • Honoring the covenant of marriage by working on your relationship with your spouse even when it's difficult.
  • Choosing to love the people who hurt you because you know what it means to receive grace.
  • Viewing those the world calls useless & trash as sons & daughters of the King that are in desperate need of freedom.
  • Turning your life path over to God & trusting that His plan is better no matter what those closest to you will say.
  • Being confident of our position in Christ and His direction for us no matter how ridiculous our devotion might appear from the outside.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

That's Weird

In Joshua 6, the Israelites are poised to conquer a city named Jericho. While they believed firmly in God's ability to bring them victory, the method that God chose to use was a little unorthodox. They were to march around the walls of the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day they were to march around it seven times with priests blowing trumpets, have everyone shout loudly, and the walls would fall down.

Nowhere in the text do I see that Joshua or the people questioned this. If God gave me directions similar to this I might have to reassess the strategy and prayerfully ask for clarity. This was going to make them look foolish in the eyes of their enemy and certainly was not written in  the Hebrew book of potential warfare maneuvers. The reaction of Joshua and the Israelites was instead one of obedience. They simply followed what God told them to do and trusted that He would produce what He promised. It's obvious that Joshua spent a lot of time with God and he knew that when God gave a command He would follow through as a result of His faithfulness and the people's obedience.

The challenge for us is to have that same level of trust in God's plan. We have to spend enough time with Him that we are able to see the direction He is sending us and trust that His way is better. As we do we will gratefully and obediently follow through on whatever God commands no matter how ridiculous it might appear to those around us. What seems to be absurd can actually be evidence of the power of God and our willingness to do whatever He asks.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feeling Content

If you are a Christ-follower I hope it would be safe to say that you want to grow. I don't know any true follower who doesn't desire to know more of Him & to be continually changed (sanctified if you will) by the power of the Holy Spirit. I know that it creates moments of impatience in me as I have difficulties waiting for the changes that God is slowly working in my spirit. I catch glimpses of a future promise for my family, my own spiritual health, and what God is leading me to do. The part that becomes the most trying is waiting for that progression to occur.

Can we be so focused on what we want to improve, how we want to grow, and what we want to do next that we neglect the peace of God in this moment? Are we so intent on changing our circumstances that we forget to trust who God is and what He is doing right in the present?

I have to ask if I actually trust God to guide the leading of my family, the development of my own heart, and my career path. It really is a matter of trust because when I do I am not anxious about the trajectory or pace of the path that I am on. I am simply content and resting in God.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Twenty years ago on Valentine's Day was my first date with my wife. We were supposed to be consolation friendship dates for each other, but it ended up being more romantic than that.

As I looked ahead to this two-decade anniversary, I decided to spend the twenty days leading up to it by doing something for her each day that specifically showed how much I love & treasure her. These ranged from simple reminders of things shared in the past, music playlists, special meals, a video, and gifts given from us to our Compassion children. They are reminders and gestures that reflect our passion, friendship, and respect for each other as well as what God is doing to change us more into His likeness. It has been a sweet time of remembrance, celebration, and romance for both of us.

Twenty days is not enough time for me to express how much of my heart is hers. Twenty years is not enough time spent together. Thank you my love for all that we share.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hard Focus

There are pictures made that are referred to as "magic eye" pictures where you have to stare intently to see the hidden image that lies beneath what is obvious. It requires a hard focus and a realization that there is something else there to be discovered.

That can be true of ministry and a Christian lifestyle as well. It is easy to get caught up in the details that jump to the forefront and miss out on the big picture. We can become consumed with the small details of personal struggles, ministry heartbreak, difficult family relationships, and life disappointments and miss out on the grand scheme of God and the working of His will and plan. We can become distracted by the gossip of weak-minded and selfish people, the fear that people feel of change and their loss of position, the never-ending race to maintain your social status, the pursuit of immediate gratification, and the lies that satan whispers that wreck our futures.

When we take a step back and see God's eternal message of grace, mercy, redemption, and hope it changes our perspective. It leads us to a position of repentance and a grander understanding of how we fit into the work that God is orchestrating as part of His unique blueprint for reaching the world and altering all of our lives for the better.

Sometimes what we need to do is take a hard focus as it is influenced by prayer, the Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit, and allow God to show us the bigger picture of our lives.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Flowing Water

All of our relationships are fluid-some more than others. They can change as people's moods are affected, as life circumstances fluctuate, and as a reaction to what is said and done to us. As they change we have to continually work at maintaining and developing them. While there are certain aspects of them that may remain static, we generally must invest in them and make adaptations to see them thrive.

I've recently been meditating on the concept of relationships and how we make a personal impact on those around us. For us to have healthy interactions we have to ask a probing, personal question: "Am I adding benefit to the people in my life?" This can be a difficult question to answer and not just because we aren't sure how to quantify the response. It requires taking a step back and asking God to reveal the truth of how we treat our spouses, children, friends, co-workers, fellow Christ-followers, and community. We may not like the answer we receive in return, but hopefully the truth will reveal areas in which we can improve.

I liken relationships to flowing water because of the change and adaptability it takes to make them godly and successful. It also presents us with two options in how we will impact those around us. We will either be a fountain that provides refreshment, energy, and revitalization or we will be a drain that focuses only on stealing vitality, desire, and trust.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Much More

Today was a reminder once again of how greatly I am blessed. I spent the afternoon with some much needed daddy & daughters time while my wife enjoyed some quiet hours at home alone. My girls & I laughed and told stories over lunch at Chili's and then read and laughed more over Starbucks. Even the tedious task of grocery shopping was made better having my three beauties along with me. I place great value on all three of them and how uniquely beautiful, intelligent, and hilarious they are.

As much as I reveled in the afternoon with my lovelies, I was eager to get back home to my wife. We have always been close, but God is working in both of us and drawing us closer in the process. She is the sexiest woman I know, but she impresses me even more with her intellect and her increasing devotion to God. She is open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and is the best companion I could imagine traveling through life with. As cheesy as it sounds, she makes me complete in every way.

My four ladies are powerful daily reminders of being blessed beyond what I deserve. I don't ever take it for granted.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

No Conditions

God didn't choose me because of anything I am capable of doing. In fact, Scripture says there there was almost nothing to me. In spite of that He has positioned me and saved me simply because He loves me. I think that I gain a glimpse of this as I love my children & my wife. It is the notion of loving someone simply because of who they are and the relationship we share.

Unfortunately this is in contrast to most of the other relationships in our life that are based on performance and recent history. Even within the church it can become about the most recent thing we have done-tithing, serving, kind words-that determine the level of love we receive from other people. It is difficult to replicate, but it is that unconditional love from God that is shown to us that we are called to extend to others. That begins to happen (in our own flawed fashion) when we recognize the value that God has for each of us. Seeing what God does in us and then transferring that compassion to others is one of the worthiest endeavors we can engage in.

GOD wasn't attracted to you and didn't choose you because you were big and important--the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love...   Deuteronomy 7:7-8

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Behind You

Our present circumstances are a result of our past decisions. There is no way to plausibly deny the influence of our history on our relationships, spiritual state, finances, career, and emotional health. The impact of the past can range from a golden childhood & journey into adulthood to something worthy of a bad TNT movie or after school special. The non-negotiable factor is that we are here today as a result of the combination of choices made by us and those that we come into contact with.

Far too many people stop at this point and quit. They look at their life situation and give up instead of surrendering to a God that can redeem that past. Even followers of Christ can be defeated by thoughts of past sin and wrong choices. This isn't the truth that God wants us to live by and He tells us that while our history has helped to shape & form us it doesn't have to define us. When we choose to commit our lives to Him, He lovingly stands in the gap of our sinful past. He takes our repentance and boldly shines a light on the pathway of restoration & redemption. The cross shouts out in affirmation of His forgiveness, "Behold! I have made all things new!"

Be grateful for the lessons we have learned from the past, but let yourself be defined by the newness of life offered by Christ. The old life no longer holds power over you. Your Father above has released you from it forever and we are no longer sinful, broken creatures, but healed sons and daughters of the King.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Better Today

A French psychologist named Emile Coue was a proponent of a self-improvement theory that he called "optimistic autosuggestion." His belief was based upon the need to repeat a mantra each day to facilitate positive growth and self-esteem through influencing our unconscious thoughts. The repeated phrase was, "Each day, in every way, I'm getting better and better." Through practiced repetition this is intended to influence thought and promote holistic health gains.

I believe in the concept of getting better each day and in fact, relish the thought. While positive self-talk can make a difference in your attitude, just saying it doesn't create change. True daily growth requires discipline-even if it is revealed in small steps of faith and obedience. It is an understanding in God's ability to sanctify us and improve who we are as Christ-followers one day at a time.

I believe that tomorrow will be better than today and that I will be a better man as well. This isn't a new-age concept, but simple confidence in God's ability to transform and my willingness to see it happen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Safe House

In practical terms a safe house is a place you can go to that provides rest and refuge. It is a simple location that allows you to get away from threats, recuperate from stressful living, and focus on your next action steps.

Regardless of what trials we are enduring in life our ultimate safety is found in God. It doesn't always mean that things will be easy, but it gives us confidence in knowing that He does not leave us. Taking refuge in who God is through prayer, Scripture, and meditation will give us a chance to catch our breath and let Him shelter us from the threats of our enemy. There will be a time when we will need to step back into the current of earthly life. We are able to do that with confidence-knowing that our security is found in God alone and that in refuge He prepares us to take action through His strength.

For You've been a safe place for me, a good place to hide. Strong God, I'm watching You do it. 
I can always count on You-God, my dependable love.  Psalm 59:16-17 (The Message)

Thursday, February 2, 2012


We are in Savannah, GA at the Next Level conference at Savannah Christian Church with our staff & some of our elders this week. It's always a challenging & uplifting time for us and is a powerful way of proving Mark Batterson's axiom correct: Change of place + change of pace = change of perspective.

A question that has been mentioned several times today & rolling around in my head is this: if our church would disappear from our city, would it affect our community? In asking this question I am not discounting the power of God to continue His work no matter what the earthly circumstances are. It is more of a focus on making sure that God's church is fulfilling all that we are called to be in our community. We should be such a beacon of hope, grace, mercy, love, and salvation that our absence would create a void. It is the same impact we should seek to make with our individual lives-not for our own name's sake, but so that we would be powerfully effective for the advancement of God's Kingdom. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Title

The voice of satan whispers in our ears and reminds us of our past sins. They are lies that attempt to negate the power of forgiveness that has been given to us. If we allow that to dominate our thoughts it can spiritually paralyze us and cause disruption in our mission as Christ-followers. It is a constant in counseling and unfortunately a battle that I face as well.

Even while I torment myself over past sins & the reminders that satan throws in my face, God continues to use me. I need to firmly grasp onto the forgiveness that I have already received and stop doubting. Even if I feel low & disqualified because of sin, the truth is that God has redeemed me.

I cannot surprise God-He knew how I would fall and how much I would need Him. In spite of that, He has positioned me in ministry and put a fire in my heart to serve Him & His Kingdom. He would not have done so if I was no longer able to fulfill His purpose in me.

We all need these reminders of His grace for us. We cannot talk about it or experience it enough and as we share forgiveness and redemption in our own lives, we will see others start to believe in the gift that God offers.
While satan wants us to view ourselves through the lenses of sin and mistakes, God looks at the whole picture of our lives and re-titles it "Grace."