Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a solution to the financial crisis


My natural response to the current financial crisis our nation is in is anger and disgust, but I know that is not the right response; not by a long shot. Read Jeff's thoughts. I cannot imagine a better way to put it. I said this prayer this morning and I hope you'll join me in praying it today.


1 Sam 16:8-11 - Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, "This is not the one the LORD has chosen." 9 Next Jesse summoned Shammah, but Samuel said, "Neither is this the one the LORD has chosen." 10 In the same way all seven of Jesse's sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen any of these." 11 Then Samuel asked, "Are these all the sons you have?”

Choices. It would have been easy and very tempting to Samuel to pick the 'last' of Jesse's sons. For all he knew, he had seen all the sons, but he was sensitive enough to God to know that he had not yet seen what God was looking for, so he asked the question, “Are these all the sons you have?”Most of us have read the story and know that his question prompted Jesse to call for his youngest son David, who was God's chosen king.

I want to live my life like Samuel in this respect. I don't want to settle for less than God wants just because it's all I can see at the time. Lord, please help me to search out Your best, even when it appears to be hidden.

Monday, September 29, 2008

get to vs. have to

Check out this thought for the day. Man, I love how Seth Godin thinks.


This mindset is especially important to those of us who are in or aspire to ministry.

free range kids

I'm watching my favorite show, Dr. Phil and the topic is "Excessive Moms". The question is "can you be too reckless with your kids and can you be too protective with them? Of course, the answer to both is yes. I was turned on to a cool new blog www.freerangekids.com. Check it out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

church today

Can it be? It's 6:25am and all my kids are still asleep - even Jude. Things really are getting less intense when it comes to my kids. Take church last night, which was fantastic by the way - if you've never been to the Saturday night service at Freedom Valley you should check it out, anyway back to last night. It used to be such a stressor for me to bring all my kids to church (or anywhere), but now that they are bigger and more independent it is really fun. They love it and so do I. I think one of the biggest changes has been my outlook. I've loosened up some and that's made such a difference. I think I have been guilty in the past of wanting to be such a good dad, that I've stressed myself and the rest of my family out trying. I don't miss that and I'm sure my family doesn't either.

Last night was so much fun that I'm sore from it - I was the guy all the kids were supposed to jump higher than in Kids Connect worship last night. Boy am I feeling that! But the joy on those little faces jumping around praising God is worth it all. So, I better go get ready for church. I'm sure God has some great things in store.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the last 5%

This morning I was reading in I Samuel about King Saul. The story today was God telling Saul to go and completely destroy the Amelakites. Well, he (Saul) did about 95% of the job. He killed all the people with the exception of the king and killed all the weak and undesirable animals only keeping the good ones to sacrifice to the Lord later. What he did sounds pretty good to most people; he did mostly what God asked. But God was not at all impressed or even pleased with Saul's almost obedience. In the end, this rejection of God's instruction was the act that made God decide to remove his blessing from Saul as King.

The thing that just make me feel a little sick about it all is that I'm so much like Saul. I'm no king, but I'm a leader and I can justify and even feel good about completing 95% of a task that God gives me. But what I'm learning lately is that just about everyone can do that and 95% in that sense is not like 95% on an exam in school. 95% is no longer excellent. 95% when it comes to obedience to God is unacceptable . . . disgraceful. It's the 5% that requires most of the effort. American culture says "doing enough is good enough". God's not American. God is God and his standard is higher. Lord, help me get out of the mindset of mediocrity and do all You've asked me to do with excellence. Help me to do the last 5%.

Friday, September 26, 2008

volunteers . . .

This week's Harvard Business Idea Cast (podcast) talks about a relatively new and seemingly revolutionary idea. It seems that businesses have realized that their customers are quite willing to help in research, development and even execution of their products and/or services at very little or no cost to the company. It's very interesting to listen to the specifics, like Intuit's online community answering tax prep questions for each other as opposed to paying a bank of experts to do so or Amazon's idea years ago to have consumers rate products as opposed to experts once again.

As interesting as this might be, I must point out that the church has been operating like this from it's inception. Or maybe I should say that it should operate this way. If God has taught me anything lately, it's the incredible value of volunteers in His Kingdom. That handful of paid church leaders are not there to do be God's hand on earth, but to enable the church to be God's hand on earth. This concept is alive and well in certain pockets of the church, but I fear that it's not widespread enough. Lord, please help me not marginalize your Kingdom by doing too much myself.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

two in one day!

Unheard of! I've written twice in one day. I had a light day meant for catch up, but then an afternoon meeting was canceled. I finally caught up on e-mail, did some good reading in my favorite blogs, subscribed to some new podcasts and worked up some teaching for a kids lesson I'll be doing this weekend . . . and that was all after I had an incredibly productive meeting with the world's greatest youth pastor, Daniel St. Armand. I love days like this!

strong sites

I spent the evening at our South Hanover church site last night. It wasn't surprising, but I still felt a warm feeling in my heart at all the great ministry to people that was going on down there. Our new youth pastors, Daniel and Dee Scotton are fantastic. It was a real pleasure to see them in action. The kids ministry was great too. I brought my 3 older boys and they had a blast. They could not tell me what the lesson was about, but this is very normal, and I'm confident it's not because the teachers did not deliver a fine lesson. Besides those, there were two adult classes going on under the leadership of Pastors Marv and Jeff. There was just good life there.

I'm slowly becoming more comfortable with my role as a coach offering encouragement and oversight to the leaders on my teams; even at branch sites. I'm reading a great book right now by Pat Lencioni called "The 5 temptations of a CEO". Yeah, I'm no CEO, but the leadership principles are exactly the same. God's really convicting me lately about how poorly I've held people on my team accountable. Not only that, but I think I'm learning a healthy way to do it . . . at least I'm stumbling through some new attempts.

I had an awesome day with my boys yesterday. I love those guys so much. My wife's not too shabby either. I'm so blessed and I feel like the luckiest man in the world. What a family!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


It's feeling like Fall outside and that just adds some extra energy to me. I love this time of year more than any other, and now that Jude's in a pretty regular sleeping pattern - he was up at 4:50am this morning, but he eats fast and is back to sleep in about 20 minutes - I feel like a nice season of focus and growth is underway in my life.

I started a "family meeting" with Sara last night where we just talk about dates, goals, ideas, etc . . . concerning our family. I absolutely loved it. She endured it for my sake as it too closely resembled a staff meeting at work for her tastes, but I love her so much for putting up with my strange style of approaching things. The bottom line for me is that I need to find new and more definitive ways to lead in my own home and this is an attempt of mine.

God is teaching me something new about leadership lately . . . that I know next to nothing. Yes, almost 1 decade into it, I find that most of my trial and error has been error. But I feel fine about that, because I can feel God leading me into a season where I learn some much more profound and lasting leadership principles than I ever have before. I'm just excited for what God has next for me as a husband, father, pastor and leader in general.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

sleep, pain , overload . . . perspective

Our baby Jude has slept the whole night through the last two nights. I can't tell you how good Sara and I feel with two full night's sleep under our belts.

I've had some serious pain in my ribs since last week. I guess I had a rib pop out of place. It hurts to do everything, especially to breathe and laugh. It is getting better and I'll see my chiropractor again about it today. Man, I'm so thankful for chiropractors.

We had another meeting with our building project consultant yesterday. All I can say is that my brain is seriously overloaded. I started feeling a little desperate about it yesterday, then God reminded me that we're playing offense, not defense, with this project.

I like a full night's sleep, but partial is ok for the sake of my baby. I like a pain free life, but improvement is better than where I was last week. I like serving God with no sense that I must go to a new level, but doing it from an offensive posture is better than from a defensive one.

It's all about perspective. Thank God for a healthy perspective today.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I love my sons

This is a straight copy and paste from my journal I keep as I read through the bible. I'd appreciate your prayers when you think of it.

1 Sam 8:1-5 - As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. 2 Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. 3 But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice. 4 Finally, the leaders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. 5 "Look," they told him, "you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king like all the other nations have."

I can see from the following passage that the reason that the Israelites really wanted a king was their heart-level rejection of God as their king, but this seems to say that the greediness and lack of character of Samuel's sons precipitated the whole thing. It seems like these men of God in the OT had a heck of a time raising sons with Godly character. Now, I'm not such a man of God, but one of my most intense desires is to raise Godly sons and be a great father to them. Lord, please help me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Wow, life has been such a whirlwind over the last few weeks. Last week was especially tough. I taught a complete (for credit) Old Testament Survey class in 5 days. Five really long and tedious days. Thank God that's over and I hope to never have to do that again. On top of that, getting up to feed Jude at about 4am every morning makes for some serious deprivation of sleep.

Well, the class is over and Jude slept until 5:30 this morning. Things are looking up.

One of the really great things that came out of me teaching that class is a renewed love of the Old Testament. I did some personal bible reading this morning in 1 Samuel and God was showing me new stuff. That is sure a breath of fresh air for me.

Masters Commission is starting in earnest this Saturday. Honestly, I have no idea if we'll enroll enough students to even make our budget this year and I also don't know if we'll have enough homes for the students who do come. It creates such stress that I can do no more than leave it in the able hands of my staff and God. It is frustrating that I believe in my heart that we offer such a high quality education and growth experience, yet it's always a struggle to attract students, make it financially solvent and find homes for the ones who do come. It makes me think that we must be off track somewhere, but I can't figure where. I sure do need God's guidance on that one.