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Saturday, October 18, 2008

On the Bus With My Son

Today was a great day with my wife and kids. We started out at the pet store, where we looked at and played with animals that cost well more than my mortgage. Then we went and had lunch at Chic-fil-et. How awesome it is to go into a major chain packed with people and sit down to eat while listening to contemporary Christian music.

Over the last week or so, I've noticed that Vincent, who will be 4 next month, has been craving more attention. Being the oldest of 3 can't always be that easy. So, after we got home from lunch and put the other 2 down for naps, I took Vincent to the hospital, parked in the lot, and waited for the bus. You would have thought that I had bought him tickets to Disney World. We got on the bus and went to the mall; a trip that would have taken me less than 10 minutes in a car, took us 50 minutes. But, it was my son and me, talking and laughing together.

We got to the mall, had 20 minutes before the same bus left again. We ran and got a cookie and hurried to the arcade where my son and I played a nascar racing game together. You should've seen us! I'm in my car and he's in his, but I'm using my left foot for my gas pedal and my right foot for his gas pedal. But oh, did we have a blast!

We got back on the bus for the ride back to my car, with Vincent wearing down and lounging in my arms. How I thank God for my children, and for such an awesome day on a city bus.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Illogical Obedience

This morning, I was reading my Bible and read a familiar story, but took some time to just think a little bit about it. Pastor Jeff Leake, pastor at Allison Park Church, gives an illustration for thinking about the word of God. He takes a rag and soaks it in water. He takes it out and starts wring it out little by little, one part at a time, trying to get all there is out of the rag.

I was wringing out the story about Jesus' first miracle, you know, the controversial one about Jesus turning water into wine...or was it grape juice, kool-aide, or...who cares. It was miraculous! But what really got me, was that his mother, after telling Jesus the problem, looked at the servants and said, "Do whatever he tells you." Wow, what a statement. Think about it. He would tell them to take 20-30 gallon pots that were used to wash feet and to purify the people. Drinking out of what was used to clean feet, I'm a thinking...not so much! But they did it. And they were amazed.

Sometimes Jesus calls us to do things that don't make sense, disturb the comfort and logic within us. But He already knows the final outcome. He just needs his servants to pull through. So the question is, am I a servant who thinks I know more than my master, or will I surrender all to Him and do whatever He tells me to do? Oh, that we might be true servants!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Three Years in Review



Last night, I was scheduled to speak at Crossfire, an awesome youth ministry in Monroeville, PA where I was the youth pastor for three years until May of this year. Unfortunately, due to my father's passing away, I was unable to be there, but sent this video over the internet. I thank God for what He had done during our time there, and am so excited for what He is still do.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Early Day


Well, the day has begun early for me today. I awoke at 4:55AM. I didn't know that anything that began with a 4 also HAD an AM. Anyway, I know sit in a US Air terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport awaiting a flight to Philadelphia that will eventually lead me to New Orleans.

This will definitely be a long day and a long week. You see, my father passed away last week, and as his oldest, alot of the responsibilities have fallen to me. There is such a wide range of emotions that I experience today. There is sadness that the days have been cut short, but also sense of gratitude to the Lord of His amazing promise. I didn't grow up with my father, but had always prayed and believed the Scripture that spoke of turning the hearts of the father back to their children. For years this never happened. About 6 years ago, it began. The last siz years I have been able to be there for my dad. A few months ago he was diagnosed with liver disease and began a rapid downward spiral...and I was there. 3 weeks ago, I was able to be there to spend time with him in a nursing home, to clothe him, to love him, to take care of him.

What an awesome privelege to be there to honor my father. A long day, a long week, but what an honor...to thank God for being true to His Word.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Simple Pleasures


Well, this weekend Maria, my wife, is gone on a much deserved pastor's wives retreat. She is such a great wife and mom! She is a stay at home mom of three children: Vincent (almost 4), Faith (2), and Nathan (7 mo.).

Today was day #2 of doing what she does everyday. I have the kids all to myself. Quite honestly, I was very nervous leading up to this weekend. What was I going to do? How am I going to keep myself from going crazy? Hey, I'm being honest here. But today, we just kept it simple. I took the kids to the park and had a picnic. No, I'm not going to win father of the year for doing that or anything, but it taught me something. There are a lot of simple pleasures that we take for granted.
Yes, it's been stressful at times, and I still have one day to go. But it has reminded me how grateful I am that God has blessed us with three wonderful treasures.
Thank you God for simple pleasures!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Patient Expectation



One of the most frustrating parts of driving, is when you get behind that large truck, that school bus that has to stop every fourteen feet, or that old lady that thinks driving 25mph is being aggressive. It's always when you've got some place to be, too. Sometimes, during the midst of my instense frustration, I began to think that maybe God's hand is in the placement of these vehicles in front of me.

Sometimes I find that I get so frustrated when things don't happen when I want them to. It makes sense that it should happen the way I thought. I would serve a great purpose to happen the way I thought. But somehow, and for some reason, it's not happening the way I thought! I believe that's God. I believe that's when He steps in to say, "just wait. There's no hurry...not if you really believe that I'm in control. I'm the One who's going to get the credit for this. In my time...you'll see."

Yes, it's hard to have great expectations and have patience at the same time. But, that's what trust really is...and I'm still learning. How about you?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

No Joke

"Bad guys have it in for the good guys, obsessed with doing them in. But God isn't losing any sleep, to him they're a joke with no punch line" (Psalm 37:12-13).

Reading this verse last night made me think of some of the clips that I've seen of the latest blockbuster hit that is expected to obliterate most records, even possibly delivering an Oscar posthumously to one of the key actors. The movie, The Dark Knight, is a thrilling superhero tale of Batman and his arch nemesis, the Joker.

What I found so interesting, is that mirrors accurately how the enemy of our souls sees his own attacks in our lives - as a joke. He enjoys making fun, and gaining enjoyment out of the sufferings of other people.

But then I came across this verse in the Message paraphrase. No matter what we face, and no matter how tragic, how disappointing, how unexplainable, God is NOT asleep, He's not loosing sleep, He's well aware. And you know what else? He sees the situtation for EXACTLY what it is, and how HE will be able to turn it around in order to accomplish something so great, it will make all of hell tremble and regret that they ever interfered. "...like a joke with no punch line."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Daddy, Help Please


"Daddy, help please??" These are three simple words that are key to unlock a world of assistance and freedom from a great amount of frustration. The problem with these three small, simple words, is that they are grossly under used.

See, my son, Vincent, is almost 4 years old. He is greatly independent, and well, what can I say, he is his father's son. The other day I observed a very familiar scene in our house. We were getting ready to go somewhere and I asked him to go and put his sandals on. While I am helping get the other 2 YOUNGER children ready, I heard something that I have been hearing quite often lately. My 3 1/2 year old is sitting down, frustratedly making some sort of squealing/screaming noise as he is fighting (and losing the fight) to get his sandals on.

I watch for a second or two, and then remind him, "Vincent, just say 'daddy, help please.' "Daddy, help please?" he responds attempting to dry his little tear puddled eyes. Immediately I lend my assistance and he jumps up and continues the life of an innocent child.

How often do we struggle in great frustration over something that God never intended for us to do alone. All we have to do is stop, and say, "Daddy, help please?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Framgents


Wow! Yesterday was such an amazing time at CrossWay Church! The presence of God was so tangible, so evident, so special. I share a message that really connected to the core of who we really are. It was out the of the passage that relays the account of the sinful woman who brought her alabaster jar to Jesus.

Jesus Saw Her Sin. There were no secrets. She got tired of living a life that was contrary to the best that God had for her. She knew where to go. To the feet of the Friend of Sinners. She didn't care about what they said, what they thought. All she wanted was freedom.

Jesus Showed Her Compassion. He loved her. He embraced her. He saw beyond her past, her hurts, her mistakes. He saw the soul that He formed. He wasn't there to condemn her. When others were pointing their fingers, Jesus was opening His arms.

Jesus Saved Her from Shame. He told the naysayers that what she had done was so beautiful, that wherever the message was preached, SHE would be remembered admiringly. He was restoring her reputation, her dignity, her future. She had presented Jesus with brokenness. She broke the jar. She surrendered control of the contents.

What a great example for any of us. I pray that we would present Jesus with our own brokenness, for that is where true wholeness begins.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Through the Night


Wow...family vacation!! We have been looking forward to this week for several months now. I found an incredibly nice little 3 bedroom house right off the Lake Erie in Ohio. It's a perfect situation!

Well, we're on our last day of vacation, and it has been rainy, cool, overcast, and our daughter is cutting in her last 2 front bottom teeth. I must be open, I had begun to get a little overwhelmed, discouraged, and well...mad. I've been looking forward to this week and it's NOTHING like I planned. But something happened in the last 18 hours that has definitely brought me to a new state of humility.

Faith, our middle child and only girl, went to bed around 8pm, which is pretty normal. However, by around midnight, she was screaming what sounded like from a horror movie (not that I watch them...just so i've heard). I went upstairs and my little princess is writhing in pain in her sleep. What's a dad to do? I got my pillow and blanket and went to share the queen bed that my 21 month old daughter is sleeping in. All through the night she tossed, turned, screamed, groaned, cried, and moaned. I never got upset, never became overwhelmed, exasperated, or frustrated. I just loved, prayed for her, was there for her, comforted her, and held her.

The Lord showed me something last night. When we cry out in the pain of whatever situation we find ourselves in, He's there. We may sound pretty frightful, hateful, or angry, but He doesn't get upset, frustrated, or overwhelmed. He loves us, comforts us, holds us, and is there for us. No matter the hour, no matter the situation. He is there...all through the night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Discovering Opportunities


Yesterday morning I got up early and drove in to meet a lady from our church and her husband for prayer. She was going in for knee replacement surgery, and I was going to pray with her before her procedure. It was one of those mornings that I'm sure you're familiar with. I was tired, it was dark and misty, and I had ton of things to get accomplished in my busy day. I so enjoyed getting to pray with the awesome lady and her husband. It was one of the joys of my day.

When I went to leave the hospital, now in full "I need to get a good start on my day so that I can get everything accomplished that I have set to do" mode, I became very much aware that it was now raining and raining hard. Oh how wonderful! Of course, it was NOT raining like this when I arrived, so I had no problem parking out in the back lot, where I didn't mind the walk up to the front entrance.

But before I could really get into a complaining mode, I noticed someone. She's an older lady who was upset that she didn't choose valet parking that day and had no interest in going out to get her car. By this time it was really raining intensly. I recognized that at that moment, I had an opporunity to really bless someone, regardless of what it might cost me. I told her that if I knew what car she drove I would be more than happy to pull it around for me. Well, very trustingly, she told me the make, model and color of her small car and off I went. Of course, by the time I had gotten to her car I was totally soaked in my fresh pressed dress clothes. I pulled around to where she was and gave her car back to her. I then ran across the lot to my own car, continuing to see how much more water my clothing could bear to take. But you know what? It was OK. I had discovered an opporunity in my everday life to bless someone. That blessed me.

Proverbs 11:25 reminds us that "he refreshes another will himself be refreshed." It wasn't my aim, but I left the hospital that day feeling refreshed, and thankful that God could use me in some small way that, at least for one person, made a signifcant difference.

What opporutnities are there for you to discover in your everday life?

Feeling Refreshed!


Tuesday night was really an incredible evening. One of the things that I have learned, and am learning, is that now that I am doing the preaching week and week out, being there for everyone, which I love doing, but I am finding myself tired and drained. That's not a problem when you regularly keep yourself in a place to be refreshed. Well, I'm still learning how to do that. See, before, I would, in addition to my daily quiet times with God, be able to sit in on a Sunday morning service and hear the pastor preach. Now, I'm the one they have to listen, too (I say that with lots of humor...yes, probably bad humor, but hopefully you're smiling at least a little).

Tueday night, Maria and I joined an event with MCM, a powerful network of church pastors in our area, for a time of intense worship, prayer, and being challenged and encouraged through the Word of God. I got to hear the unique ministry of Johannes something or another. I can't pronounce his name, have no idea how to spell it, but will forever be impacted by his ministry.

One of his main points, was just to remember that our reliance is to be upon the Holy Spirit, NOT ourselves. When we do whatever it is that God has called us to do...it's HE that does and it will be to HIS credit...not our own. What a great reminder. The Holy Spirit is a GOOD Holy Spirit. I thank God for His Spirit...His refreshing, His renewal, His "always there with you no matter what to give you what you need exactly when you need it." Yeah...that's good.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Baby Miraculously Survives Abortion, Expected to Live 'Normal' Life


I was reading this article today on http://www.foxnews.com/ and was once again amazed at the beauty of human life. How easy it is to forget that we do not create ourselves, but are part of a much bigger and divine plan. This is a story of a woman who feared losing her baby to a life-threatening disease, as had been the case for a previous child. The baby was already diagnosed in the womb. At 8 weeks, she went in for the abortion. At 19 weeks, she realized she was still pregnant. The baby was born. Although there was a condition, the baby is expected to live a full life.

Each life has a promise, a purpose, and lots of potential. You never know what God has stored up in the life a baby. I remember when my wife was pregant with all three of ours (not at the same time!), we looked forward to finding out the sex of the baby, because we wanted to name them immediately. Why? Because they were a God-created human being, and we wanted them to have identity. To us, they weren't just "the baby," "the child," and definitely not, "the fetus." To us, they were Vincent, Faith, and Nathan. All created by God.

Thirty years ago, there was a man and a woman who had been told by their doctors that they child she was carrying would not make it. There were too many complications and the child, if it were to make it, would not live a normal life. The couple went in for the abortion. The mom decided that she just couldn't do it and decided to have the baby anyway.

Well, I am so glad that she did, because that baby that wasn't supposed to live, or live normally, is my beautiful wife, the great mother of three awesome kids, an honor graduate from college, and a great encouragement to anyone she meets! God creats life, and life is beautiful.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lest We Forget


In my special time between the creator of the universe, I have been rereading the book of Judges. I've been reading the Message, which has been really great in providing the same message in a fresh way. However, there is one line that really got me bothered. Judges 2: 10 soberingly says, "Eventually that generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn't know anything of God or the work He had done for Israel."

Did you catch that?? We're talking about the God that created the world, destroyed it by flood, saved one family and replenished the earth, delivered an entire nation out of slavery, split the an entire ocean to allow them to walk on dry ground, fed them with bread from heaven and a water from a rock. And they forgot about Him. How did that happen? Regardless of how or why, the truth remains that it did.

It has been quoted that Christianity is always one generation from extinction. So many people have already forgotten how God is the author of all freedom...yeah that right...freedom, the freedom we enjoy in this nation. This great, but not perfect, nation...this ONE NATION UNDER GOD, the nation that once stood for IN GOD WE TRUST. The nation that once unashamedly declared that were all endowed by OUR CREATOR... My how we have forgotten His power, His providence, His provision.

We now live in a time where that which God sees as destestable is now seen by the people that once called on God, as acceptable. We kill babies out of convenience, we call homosexuality a natural orientation, we mock those who would stand up for the cause of Christ, we remove the mention of God, Christ, prayer from our schools, our monuments, our national institutions, and even our money. To declare the Truth of God is to be deemed hate speech.

The truth of God still stands strong. It doesn't have to be believed in order to remain truth. But, we need people who are NOT ashamed to stand up and declare that truth, to live that truth, lest we forget, and the next generation lives in ignorance due to our failure to teach them, to guide them, to lead them to the truth, that if they know it, it will set them free.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just Plain Stubborn...


You know how when you're young, your parents always tell you that "I hope that one day when you you're a parent, you have children as stubborn as you?" Of course, I never believed it. That doesn't just happen. After all, I will be a better parent than mine were, and so my kids will just naturally be better.

So...are you falling over yet overwhelmed with hysterical laughter??? It hasn't quite happened that way. Here I am, a father of three great kids. My youngest Nathan, 15 weeks, is in his bed, where he will sleep through the night til about 9am. Faith, my daughter and middle child, was placed in her bad about 8:30pm tonight, where she will stay until about 8:30 to 9 tomorrow morning. Then there's Vincent, my oldest who is 3 1/2. It's a little after 10pm and I have been trying to put him down to bed since 8:45pm.

The problem is, every 10 minutes or so, he gets up with some excuse. Once, it was that he was too hot. Then, he had to "go potty" although there was nothing but air. After that, he needed his closet door closed. Now, you gotta understand something about me. I was raised in the south by a "mamma" who believed in discipline, and she expected what she expected. So, Vincent knows that with disobedience comes discipline. Sorry, but I'm not a big believer in time-outs, negotiations, and demerits. I believe the Bible to be literal when it says, "spare the rod and spoil the child."

But what's got me puzzled, is that even though he knows what he's going to get, he still gets up. He knows that his actions will result in physical discipline, and yet he still insists on doing his own thing. I know, I know, there is a lot of phsyco-babble about him being insecure, yada yada yada. He is a human being who is excerisizing his will.

Isn't that what we do? We know the consequences of certain things we do, but yet we still do it. We know the results of unforgiveness, and yet we still hold on to a grudge. We know the pain of betrayal, and yet we still keep walking back into relationships where there is no real change. We know the pain we cause ourselves and others by the sharpness of our tongue, and yet we open our mouth still. And we wonder why it hurts.

Yes, stubborness seems to be a part of the human way of life. My challenge to my son, to myself, and to whomever else is out there...trade stubborness for submission. It's not so glamorous, but it sure does get you further...with a lot less pain!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Worship?


Romans 12:1 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

I've really been challenged lately on the meaning of worship in my life. What is it? There is so much debate in the church on what worship really is. It seems to be a great competition really. It's contemporary vs. traditional; hymns vs. choruses; choirs vs. worship teams; and organs vs. drums and guitars. You've got the worship "top 40." Worship has been commercialized, and dare I say it, trivialized and minimized to mere music.

Don't get me wrong, I love some passionate worship music. But it's so much more than that. We often hear people say, "well, I just didn't get anything out of worship today." Well...GREAT!!! Because YOU weren't supposed to. Worship is NOT about you or me. It's about honoring HIM. The word worship in the Hebrew means to bow, to humble, to lay prostrate. It paints the picture reminicent of when I got down on one knee to ask Maria's hand in marriage. I yielded myself to her. I honored her. I loved her...and of course still do! In the Greek, the word worship is a word that means "to kiss." It's about humility, surrender, and intimacy...NOT just music.

Our worship is not merely the song of our lips, but the song of our life. How is your lifesong today?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Prep Work is Hard Work



Galatians 6:9 (MSG) So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit.

Since taking the position as senior pastor of an incredible growing church, my wife and I have begun the process of prepping our house for listing. Let me tell you what...it's alot more than I thought! The time, the money, the energy (all of which has seemed to be getting pretty low lately) has been put to the task at an intense level.

Ok, let me be up front with you. I'm not a handy man. I'm a good "look in the yellow pages, call the right guy and write a check" kind of man. Well, with three kids (2 in diapers and one on formula) money isn't growing on trees. So, in the past few weeks, I have been weeding, mulching, edging, painting the foundation block, the front of the house, the shutters...Ok, wait. Need to talk about this one. Climbing up two stories on a flimsy ladder trying to take off shutters Noah himself must of put on after the flood subsided, scared me half to death. Anyway, got it done.

I have put in many hours, sweat more than I have in a long time, and probably own a controlling share of stock in Lowe's. But, I have learned, that prepping a house for sale is a lot of HARD WORK...but it's worth it in the long run. I can't give up. I can't quit, because I believe that it's going to be worth it.

It's the same way with our lives. The Bible says that WE are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the house that needs prepped. It's not easy. It's not easy. It's not easy. But it's worth it. We have to spend lots of time and energy and SACRIFICE in order to prepare ourselves to be who God has intended us to be.

Oh, but don't give up. In due season, you will reap the rewards...IF YOU DON'T GIVE UP!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Freedom Has a Price??


It's an interesting idea that freedom has a price. I mean, I know that it does, but it's easy to believe that there are so many who believe otherwise. It's amazing to me how people can get wrapped up in their personal views so tightly that they forget to be appreciative for what they have, and how they got it.

I thank God for our soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors. Generations have come and go, and we live in a nation that enjoys a sense of freedom because others have borne the burden so that freedom could be more than a dream.

There is a price for freedom. Ask George Washington, who led a young nation into battle for freedom. Just ask Abraham Lincoln, who kept a nation from falling a part during a civil war, in an attempt for freedom. Why not ask Martin Luther King, Jr who dedicated his life, and gave his life, to the cause of equal rights and freedom. The protests that are marched, the dissenting opinions that are voiced, the houses of worship that exist, and so much more, ONLY exist because freedom was fought for and won.

Most importantly, ask Jesus Christ, who, beyond popular opinion, lived, died, and rose again. Why? Why would He do such a thing? Why would He go through the torturous process of crucifixion? Why? Because of freedom. The Bible says, "It was for freedom that Christ has set us free."

Freedom has a cost. There are those that spit in the face of the freedoms they have. And there are others who stand up proudly to fight for those very freedoms that others take for granted. On this Memorial Day Weekend, I just want to say THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU to all who have served, who serve now, and those who dream of the day they will serve. From one veteran to those who have and who do serve - I salute you!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Biggest Loser

My favorite TV shows this season (especially since the writers strike took off my favorite show "24") has been "The Biggest Loser." Each Tuesday night, my wife and I would make sure that we got the kids to bed on time so that we could get in front of the tv to see the last hour of the show. Each week, you saw the life-changing stories of people who recognized the life-destroying habits in their lives, and how they had vowed to defy statistics, drop the pounds, and strive that they would never go back to that place again.

Well...for what ever reason, I was unable to see the grand finale. But, thanks to http://www.hulu.com/, I was able to watch it, and just finished as a matter of fact. How incredible to see all of the before and after pictures. The transformations were truly amazing!

How true it is in our own lives. Sometimes it's the things we need to lose that makes us the biggest winner. What are the things in your life that you need to lose? Maybe it's some baggage from the past. God knows that's been the case for me at times. Memories of hurt, lingering anger, disappointments, oh the list can go on and on and on.

So...go ahead and lose. Yeah...lose the baggage. Shake it off. It may not come off easy, but it sure didn't get there all at once, so it may take some time. But God will give you the strength and His freedom will be your motivation. So go ahead and be the Biggest Loser!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Folded Hands & Open Hearts

I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words. Psalms 119:147 (NLT)

I woke up a little earlier this morning. On most days, my 3 year old, Vincent, will serve as my alarm clock. But today, I woke up earlier and decided to spend some extra moments with God. Now, I'm not really a morning person...AT ALL...and there were times this morning that I was fighting the sandman, but how sweet it is to be in the presence of God Himself. How awesome it is to be able to talk to the great King of kings, knowing that He enjoys the conversation.

What a way to begin the morning. Most of the time, I spend greater amount of time praying in the evening before going to bed. See, I am a night person. That's what night people do. We pray about all of the things of the day. But there really is something incredible about STARTING your day with the mindset that says, "God, it's a new day, and I ask you to be in charge today....it's not about me, but all about You."

So...how about it? Are you taking time to talk with the One who knows you inside and out, and yet still loves you the most and still wants to talk to you, too? Take some time, "Good morning, God. I live for you today, and everyday....and begin to have a conversation with your best friend. Because, guess what...He's really looking forward to enjoying that conversation!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A New Day


1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT) That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”


What an exciting verse this is. It's amazing to know that God really does have everything under control, and that He DOES have a plan for our lives. Sometimes we don't understand it, but when we surrender to Him, what an amazing plan we begin to live out.



This past Sunday, my family and I officially joined the congregation of CrossWay Church as their lead pastors. I'll be a little transparent. My stomach leading up to the first Sunday had become a major home for wayward butterflies. I began to be nervous and entertained far too many thoughts that began to play tricks on me. But on our way to the church that morning, Maria and I closed our eyes and prayed (I left mine open...I was driving on the turnpike.) We prayed for God's presence to be totally revealed that morning. It wasn't about me. It wasn't about our new beginning. It's about the new beginning that Christ gives each of us. It's about the power of His presence that never leaves us or forsakes us. It's about the forgiveness and the mercy that He offers us.



I thank God for all He's done in my life up to this point. I'm thankful for the challenges, the blessings, the disappointments, the moments on the mountain top AND the ones in the valley. I am thankful for all that God has used to prepare us for this moment. It is a new day. I am excited about this opportunity to be with this awesome church family. It's a new day.



Friday, May 2, 2008

Students Reaching Their School

This is a video of how one student reached out, seen God change her friends, and together they are changing a school.
video

Extremes

Life is an amazing thing. It is filled with extremes. One of the biggest extremes I think I have ever encountered as been an emotional one THIS WEEK. Wednesday night, I walked out of a place that I have loved being for the last 3 years. Those last three years have been ones of great reward, seeing countless teenagers come to know Christ, develop a love and passion for Him, and sharing with others. How incredible it has been seeing them surrendered before God, crying out to Him for change in their hearts...and seeing Him do it! But, as I walked out of the church on Wednesday night, the realization finally started to hit me. I was no longer the youth pastor of these TRULY AMAZING teenagers. Although they will always have a place in my heart, I know that our connecction will never be the same.

Yesterday, I walked into another church with the realization that I was now the senior pastor of a congregation I have already started to fall in love with. I walked into my new office with both excitement and fear & trembling. I am just 2 weeks shy of being 30 and am very much aware of my need for the Holy Spirit of God to be in total control. I am so excited about the possibilities of what God will do. The Bible is full of accounts of God using ordinary, insignificant, inadequate, and inexperienced people to extraordinary things! I am believing God that I may be one of those people. The possibilities are endless because the promises and faithfullness of the God I serve is endless. And so will be my dependency on Him.

From one extreme to another, I find myself refixing my grip to the hands of the Savior. He is God. He is in control. He is leading. And I am excited!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Heart Aches and Heart Beats

One of the most confusing times in life is when you are experiencing dueling emotions.  Whether bad or good, I generally prefer one or the other, because at least you know what to expect.  When you know what to expect, it's easier...MUCH EASIER to maintain control.  I guess that's what it is, isn't it?  We like to be in control.

Unfortunately, that's just not the way God created life.  He didn't create it to be controlled by us.  He calls for us to TRUST in Him, DEFER to Him, LEAN on Him, TRUST in Him, SURRENDER to Him, YIELD to Him, and of course, to TRUST in Him.

Trust doesn't mean we understand.  Most times it means we don't.  If we understood, there would really be no need for trust.  I remember being at a place in my life, doing what I love to do, that had me surrounded by situations that I definitely had no comprehension or understanding of.  What I understood, was that I was not happy, I was hurt, felt mistreated, frustrated, and well...you know...some times very, very mad.  But God had a plan.

Yes, God had a plan.  He always does.  Always will.  It's funny, because people always love to quote the verse in Jeremiah 29:11 that reminds us "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to bless you, not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future."  What they fail usually to quote, is verse 10 which reads: "This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans..."

Interesting isn't it?  Sometimes, we just need to trust, because He really does know the plans He has for us, even when it means a season of time in a place we don't want to be.  I thank God for those places in my life.  Without them, I would have never been ready for where God has my family and I for the last 3 years.  It's been a place of healing, learning, and observing an awesome God do awesome things.  And now, He's at it again.  He's moving us again.  This time to do what we've never done.  My heart aches as we prepare to say "goodbye" to those we have poured our hearts out to.  But my heart beats rapidly with fear and excitement at what God is doing in our lives.

God calls us to trust when we don't understand.  It just works better that way.