Thursday, December 31, 2009


New Year's is a great time for reflection.  As I look back on 2009, I see lots of transitions.  We moved into a new house.  We (finally) sold our old house two weeks ago. 

Crossroads bought a building for worship and ministry.  We are phasing out of our use of the Longhouse, as quickly as we can.

In some ways the transitions are just beginning for Crossroads.  We will have to consider many more opportunities and possibilities with our new building.  There is so much God wants to do in this world.  For some reason he is giving us grand opportunities to be in on his work.

Look back and looking forward, I see God doing so much to bring his kingdom.  I expect to be amazed again at the end of 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Make it Fun

OK, I always like to get new tools.  Now I have a label maker, a hundred file folders and a set of two in-baskets.  These are key elements in organizing, so says Getting Things Done.  Even if I am no better organized, at least my stack of stuff looks better, placed neatly into baskets.

I won't have my system fully functional yet, but using the tools seems to be fun.  That's one of David Allen's keys to success with organizing:  make it fun.  He's right.  I'm eager to get going on the project -- and use my new label maker.

That's one of the keys to life, though, isn't it?  Make it fun.  Sometimes it means having the right tools.  Sometimes it just means the right attitude.

With that tool, you can't go wrong.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fantasy flop

Tonight is the "Super Bowl" for our Fantasy Football league.  We'll have a few friends over to watch the game together, even though my team has long been out of the picture.  This was my first time with the program, and I pretty much ignored it through the season.  Too busy, yadda, yadda, yadda...

My team started off the season with a huge victory, but pretty much went down hill from there.  I finished with a 3-11 record, just grateful for any victories.  It seems like my efforts to set my lineup and follow the players did not make a whole lot of difference.  When I worked hard on it, I still lost.  My victories came in spite of my inattention.

It makes me think about the parable of the growing seed, found (only) in Mark 4:26.  Jesus tells us that the farmer plants his seed and leaves it alone.  Whether he eats or sleeps, the seed grows, regardless of the efforts of the farmer.  The kingdom of God is like that, Jesus says.  When we share the good news of the kingdom, God makes that seed grow, regardless of our efforts.or lack thereof.  In other words, Jesus is growing his kingdom, even when we can't see it and don't work for it.

I'm glad that the results of the kingdom are so much better than my Fantasy Football season.  Next year I'll work more on my team, and plant more kingdom seeds for Jesus to grow.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Getting smaller

Today at our worship time we had a guest from Jamaica.  Several of us met this young woman when we went on a mission trip to Kingston last May. Through the magic of Facebook, she had kept in touch with one member of our mission team.  When she was visiting in NC, he asked her to come visit with us.

This is a great way to stay in touch with people around the world.  Now I am friends with her on FB, and I noticed that several other Crossroads people have already friended her since this morning.

Because of this connection, we are staying in touch with the people with whom we served over the summer.  We don't have to forget our new friends.

Another benefit is that the folks at Crossroads now have a greater sense of connection with Jamaica.  We can understand the needs better and find ways to meet them.  We can pray for the continued movement of the Spirit of God in Kingston and Spanish Town.

The world is getting smaller, and I hope it is becoming a better place, as Christ followers use these connections to make a difference.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26

In many ways, this day clears our thinking.  Often we expect to get all our wishes fulfilled at Christmas.  Maybe you have had a Christmas when you got everything you wanted.  It produces a strange sensation on the next day.

It took me way too long to realize that getting stuff would not really make me happy.  Stuff promises to make us happy, but it never ultimately delivers.  We tend to believe the lie that we just need "a little bit more."  Then we'll be happy.

Then I reached the point in my adult life when I stopped caring so much about what I would receive.  I pinned my hopes for fulfillment on the gifts I was giving.  I eagerly anticipated the joy in the eyes of my children, my wife, my other family and friends.  It is very exciting to share in their experience.  But even that left me empty.

December 26 reveals the truth.  If we expect to find fulfillment with the Christmas gifts we receive OR give, we are probably going to be found empty all too soon.

Real fulfillment only comes through relationship.  That's why Jesus told us that the most important thing in all the world is to love God.  The second most important thing is to love others. 

It's really that simple.  When we see life that way, then December 26 is no disappointment.  We can soak in the joys of relationship, not just at Christmas, but every day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Ever wonder why Christmas should be "merry" and the New Year "happy"?  Either way, God gives us reason to enjoy his presence as we celebrate Jesus' birth.  Today the world of commerce grinds to a halt, and most of those blessed with a job enjoy a day off.

This year we have had a white Christmas, with snow on the ground, deep enough to outlast the inch of rain today.  All those Christmas specials that talk about snow have really hit home this year.

I feel like the most blessed person in the world, able to enjoy the fellowship of friends and family, celebrating the birth of Jesus.

In our family Christmas tradition, it was my younger daughter's turn to create a cross for our Christmas cross collection.  She had taken photos of our new home, printed them out and shaped them into a cross on which she wrote, "God is Good."  After our brunch today, we all gathered around as we opened the box containing this work of art.  It served as the most poignant moment of the day, a reminder that the Baby in the manger grew up to surrender his life so that we could have a relationship with him.

There is no greater blessing than knowing Him.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Invasion

Jesus' coming to earth was God's invasion of his creation.  He came to be with us because of love.  He loved us enough to be with us, even though he was not treated well.  He gave up the comforts of heaven to live on earth because he longs for our company.

That same desire for fellowship drove him to give his life on the cross.  He died to take away our guilt and break the grip of sin in our lives.  He did this because he loves us.

Receive his gift of life and love.  It will change your life.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I went with my family and some friends to see Blindside today. It was an incredible story, very well told. I cried through almost the whole thing.

Even now, as I think about the story, it brings tears to my eyes.  I think it has affected me so much because I know there are people in my sphere of life who just need a little love. It's like Linus putting his blanket around Charlie Brown's tree.

After the movie I had to run a few errands.  Walking through the shopping center, I found myself looking at strangers differently.  They all have a story.  I wonder how many of them just need to be loved.

Tonight my family got with a few other Crossroads families to help out a neighbor in need.  The man is neighbor to one of our church folks.  He has grown children, including a son-in-law dying of cancer.  He is separated from his wife and has no one at home with him.  While he was away for the evening, we put up a Christmas tree for him and left him some gifts.  All of our kids helped with the process.

We prayed for God to reveal his love to this man.  God has so much love to share.  I want his love to overflow through me to touch hearts deeply, in a way that transforms their souls.

His love keeps on transforming me.  I need a tissue...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Life in Christmas

The Advent Conspiracy has breathed life back into Christmas for me. I have long fought against the pressure to buy gifts just because you do. In fact, I have considered pushing for gift giving at Thanksgiving.  That way people can still give gifts if they want to, and Christmas can come back to worship of Jesus.

Now I resonate with the whole idea that giving at Christmas can change the world. Gifts can be meaningful in a whole new way.  Rather than giving friends the perfect gift, we can give to someone truly in need.  We can donate to Living Water or World Vision or International Justice Mission or a local ministry.

I long to see the world anticipate Christmas as the time when the followers of Jesus make the world a better place. Jesus is changing the world as he changes the hearts of his people. We don't need more stuff ourselves.  We need to share with others around the world.

So, as we did last year, Lisa and I are giving goats and chickens and clean water this Christmas.  We'll be giving in honor of family and friends, people who don't need more stuff.

And with our church Christmas offering, we will be supporting Living Water and Good Samaritan Ministries of Stokesdale.  Jesus is changing the world.  I want to be part of that movement.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Light Lite

We decorated our Christmas tree on the first Saturday in Dec. Of course I put the lights on it first. We had 4 new strands of lights, so I put those on first. As of today, three of the four strands has failed. Now, I'm not talking about a few bulbs that don't work. These strands have suddenly stopped working, one 100-strand at a time.  Not only do they stop working, they prevent the lights "down stream" from working as well.

Since these strands were put on first, we end up with a dark tree. The first failure happened before we had ornaments on the tree.  No problem.  I just pulled off the problem lights and rearranged.  But since then, we have had two more sets fail.  I just bypass the dead strands and end up with dark sections of tree.

So, what am I learning from this?  First, how to be patient.  I'm now waiting, patiently, for the final strand to give up the ghost.  Second, I'm learning that cheap lights are cheap.  They are priced low because they are low quality.  In years past we have bought cheap lights with much better success.  The new strands normally last at least one season.  I'll be looking for some good LED lights after Christmas.  Hope I can find them.  They are supposed to last longer and use less power.  Sounds like a plan.

Finally I am learning to be happy anyway.  Our beautiful tree now has growing dark patches.  That's OK.  Jesus is still the reason we decorate our home and celebrate in December.  He is the real Light.  He is the One who loved me enough to come to this earth.  He gave his life for me on the cross.

This is news worth sharing, worth building my life around.  This is good news that makes life worth living.  Jesus really loves me.  He really wants to be in relationship with me.  He likes to be with me.  Compared to that, nothing else matters. 

I thank God that he helps me get the right perspective.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All In

As I read Getting Things Done, by David Allen, I'm learning about organizing.  Sounds like I need a real, live "in box."  My desk served that function for quite some time.  Most recently, I've been stacking things on my filing cabinet and keeping my desk clean.

But now I need an in box.  I guess I will get one, along with a label maker for my manila folders.  Oh, and he says that I should not use hanging files any more.  What?  Just use the adjustable file stopper at the back of the drawer, he says.

Somehow I expected this stuff to be either high tech, or closer to what I'm already doing.  I haven't actually taken action on these suggestions, but I'm willing to give it a reasonable try.  He does have reasons for everything.  And he says to use what you can and ignore the rest.  Even a partial application of his process is helpful.

And that does speak to me.  I'm always one to take an idea and tweak it to fit my own situation.

I may not end up as his poster boy, but hey, at least I'm reading the book.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Like a Kid

We got tons of snow last night. Actually it started snowing about lunchtime yesterday, and was still snowing some this morning.

What I loved most was sledding. In our neighborhood there is a cul-de-sac with a great hill and no houses on it.  Since there is no traffic, we could have open season on sledding.  Actually that's better than it was when I was a a kid -- we had to dodge parked cars and actual traffic back then.

This was almost perfect.  If it had been about 5 degrees cooler, then the snow would have been perfect.  Even when we went out again tonight, it was a little too warm for ideal conditions.

But hey, this was the best sledding I have seen since the 1970s.  Back then, my dad bought a big Flexible Flyer sled for me and my sister.  OK, he used it some, too.  I remember the three of us going down the hill together.

That very same sled took my kids down the hill today.  Lots of memories were made with this snow.  Such a fun way to get in the Christmas spirit.

Thank you, Jesus, for blessing us with the sinple pleasures of life!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I love snow. The forecasters are calling for 3-5 inches for us, and the National Weather service has put us in winter storm warning, starting at noon tomorrow.

Now, I have learned that the more certainly they predict snow, the more likely it is not to come. Feeling this way helps me not to be disappointed when we get rain, ice or clear skies when snow is predicted. Of course I'm never disappointed when the snow does come, whether it has been predicted or not.

I need to clean up my Flexible Flyer and get it ready to go! This snow could possibly be around until Christmas.  I would love to have something close to a white Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Clear Mind

The closing on our old house is set for Friday.  So far, everything is falling into place.  But I've had enough dealing with real estate this year to know that something always comes up at the last minute.

But it has been great to get this off our plate.  We moved into our new house in March, and have been eager to sell the old house ever since.  I have had to mow and clean gutters, and clean inside...  It has taken tons of time, not to mention the burden of the mortgage. 

Today we finally brought home all our stuff from the old house.  We even brought home the broom and dustpan.  Wow that feels good.  It feels good to get that attention- and money-sucker taken care of.  I'm so glad for that house to be a blessing to another family just as it has blessed ours.

I have noticed, though, how freeing it feels to get that whole thing off my mind.  I have more creativity, more interest in my work, more interest in my hobbies.  It is a fresh perspective on life.

I wonder what other "open loops" I need to close.  I wonder how much more mental, emotional and spiritual freedom I will gain when I tackle these things.  I know that God will show me, because he wants me to keep becoming like Jesus.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I often get emails telling me about the new people following me on Twitter.  That's always cool.  Most of the time, though, I have no idea who these people are.  I don't mind them following me, even if I can't figure out why they do. 

When I posted about my upcoming trip to DC, I had someone begin following me who was like a travel agent for Washington.  OK...  I guess that some people get business that way.

While I always get notified about a new follower on Twitter, I never get emails saying, "So-and-so got tired of your mindless fluff and dropped you like a wide receiver on your Fantasy Football team."  Yes, followers come and go. 

In the meantime, I'll keep on thinking of the profound, life-changing nuggets of wisdom that will draw followers like, I don't know...Oprah?

Nah.  I'd rather just share what God's doing in my life.  After all, there's not much happening on my Fantasy team.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Favorite Christmas Music

My favorite Christmas CDs are the ones by Relient K and Third Day.  These albums are a good mix of old favorites with a new twist and some fresh, new songs that will stick around for years.

One thing that disappoints me is Christmas albums with the same old songs, just sung by a particular artist.  I like something fresh and new.  The psalmist says to sing to the Lord a new song.  Certainly that applies to songs of this season.

By the way, many of the old traditional songs are notoriously difficult to play on guitar, so it is great to have some new sounds.  But just tonight I heard Trans-Siberian Orchestra's version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and they put some screaming guitar solos on the melody.  Wish I could play like that!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lost and Found

Sometimes as I worship, I find myself lost in the wonder of God's majesty and found by his grace.  Today with our guest band, "Ember," I was able to worship wide open.  God does work in my heart and mind through worship.  He changes me.

We sang "O How He Loves Me," a song done by David Crowder Band.  I think that's the name of the song.  A couple of times through the chorus, we switched the words to, "O how I love him..."  I found that it meant more to me to think about God's love for me than my love for him.  I'm not sure what to make of that.  I suppose that was simply the point at which God was connecting with me today.

I was so grateful for the opportunity to participate in worship without playing guitar.  I love to play, but this was a much needed change of pace. 

God has also been working in others' hearts.  He is leading us to commit to him, to be bold for him, to trust him.  I see his powerful work around me more and more.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fun Neighbors, Fun Town

Last year our neighbors began a tradition of a progressive dinner at Christmastime.  Although our house was not complete last year, we were invited to the celebration, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting our soon-to-be neighbors. 

This year we have more neighbors, as more homes have been built on our street.  Tonight we just walked out our front door to enjoy the time of visiting dining with everyone.

I have to say that I truly feel blessed to have these neighbors.  They are fun to be with, have interesting stories, and most seem to have a good sense of humor.

Today's dinner came just after our Stokesdale Christmas Parade.  Tons of folks from Crossroads came to help set up our stage, plug up the sound, play music, give away coffee and snacks.  It was a huge effort, and a whole lot of fun.  The band always has a great time playing together, and it was exciting to have an outdoor audience.  We had lots more people listening this year, and I think this is the biggest crowd ever for our parade.  I would say that probably 2000-2500 people lined the streets.

The sound set up was better than ever, and our announcers could easily be heard way down the street.  They add a lot to the parade, and I think everyone likes to hear their comments. 

Since we are such a small town, everyone knows somebody in the parade.  We get to cheer for our friends as they parade by.

Our community is such a great place.  I thank God often that I live here.  And now, I'm also glad to be living in my neighborhood.  God has really blessed me and my family.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Christmas is all about anticipation.  Jesus was expected, long before he came.  Mary, of course was expecting.  The shepherds were not expecting anything, but the angels seemed to burst forth with the good news as if they couldn't wait to tell. 

And today people look forward to Christmas.  For many, this is their favorite time of year, with the decorations, music, family celebrations.  Kids look forward to Christmas gifts.  Adults look forward to the looks of pure joy from children.  A growing number of Christians around the world see Christmas as the time when believers give so generously that the world becomes a better reflection of the love of God.

I always look forward to the Stokesdale Christmas Parade.  We have such a great time as a church, scattered among the crowd of parade watchers in downtown.  We give away food, coffee, hot chocolate.  Our band offers a concert for those who come early for the parade.  This year the Stokesdale downtown market will coincide with the parade day, so there will be lots of folks to hear our music before the parade begins.

Then a couple of Crossroads folks will announce the parade entries as they make their way down main street.  It is all a fun celebration, and I look forward to it every year.  It is a time when we at Crossroads can share God's love with our community in a meaningful way.

It's all about Jesus, and we get to point people to him all day!

Parade time is 2:00, tomorrow, Dec. 12 in downtown Stokesdale.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I heard this wseek that a committee in congress has taken up the issue of NCAA football playoffs.  The BCS system doesn't seem to be working so well at determining a genuine college football champion.  So, if there's a problem, then congress has to do something about it, right?

I'm not opposed to congress considering this because there are more important things to do.  I'm opposed to congress considering this because it is none of the government's business.  As far as I know, the NCAA is a private, non-government entity.  The way they run their business is their business. 

If another group wants to organize college sports with a football playoff system, then the free market allows them to do so.  Where does the Constitution give congress anything approaching a responsibility to speak about such issues.  I imagine the Founders would consider this kind of legislation a practical joke.

Yes, we are spending our country into oblivion, but while we do so, we could at least have the satisfaction of knowing who the REAL college football champs are.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting Ready for Parade

We loaded up our equipment from the Longhouse tonight, taking it to our new building, in preparation for the Stokesdale Christmas Parade on Saturday.

I'm getting really psyched about the event.  We had a ton of help getting everything packed up and loaded tonight.  Tomorrow we'll set up the sound system in the new building, just to make sure we have all our cables and plugs.  It will be fun to set it all up in the new building, even if it is only for a test.

On Friday, we'll get our stage all set up, and then on Saturday, we have the big day.  The forecast calls for some December-like weather.  I just hope that any precipitation is snow, not rain.  The parade is on, no matter what the weather.

What a great time this will be to share the love of Jesus with Stokesdale, through music, conversations, food, and our team calling the parade floats as they pass by.  It is one of the highlights of my year!  Lord, let us lift you high, that you may draw all men to yourself!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Boiling it Down

"Simple, clear purposes and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior." --Dee Hock as quoted by David Allen in GTD.

I always like to simplify things as much as possible. 

Here's why I like simplicity:
1.  Simplicity makes everything more clear.
2.  Simplicity makes everything easier to communicate.
3.  Simplicity unleashes creativity.

When we don't get bogged down in layers of bureaucratic processes, we can be much more effective at anything we do -- from planning a family vacation to sharing God's love with the world.

The good news is really simple:  God loves us so much that he works to redeem us from our destructive ways through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fueling Dependency

A local guy has been creating bio-diesel fuel from canola oil.  He has been invited to the White House to talk about bio-diesel, and he's been invited for a second visit.  That's cool stuff.  The local economy could also benefit from a new agricultural product.

But something about this news really bothers me.  This local businessman is lobbying the federal government for laws to "level the playing field" in the fuel industry.  That way bio-diesel will have a better chance.  In short, he is calling for taxes on petroleum products and subsidies for bio-diesel fuels.

I understand the need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  I'm all for that.  But I'm also for the free market.  If bio-diesel is so great, then it will be able to compete on its own merits.  Getting the government involved is a huge mistake.  Only in recent years has the government stepped out of tobacco farm subsidies.  Do we really want to create another federal program to administer more agricultural welfare?

What really bothers me is the notion that we have to rely on the government to advance any idea, product or industry..  If only Washington will help us out, then we can get something done.  Whether it's medical research, growing tobacco, getting smokers to quit or stopping AIDS, many people believe that Washington has to do something.  That's the worst kind of dependency.

But in a free market, good ideas flourish on their own merits.  The interference of government only conmlpicates and impedes the process.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I learned some tricks about brainstorming in Getting Things Done.  I actually used the idea of "mind-mapping" to think through a project.  This process helped me come up with some ideas I had never considered.  That part has worked for me.

The author of GTD also describes the "natural planning process," which moves the planner through five steps: 
1. Defining purpose and principles
2. Outcome visioning
3. Brainstorming (as I mentioned above)
4. Organizing
5. Identifying next actions

These steps naturally occur, he says, as you plan out anything -- from an evening at the movies to a building project.  When we bypass this process, we just get bogged down.  Sounds plausible to me.

I still haven't put the whole picture together, but I'm still reading.  So far, it seems like stuff that I can really implement.

My family got our Christmas tree put up today, and I guess we went through the natural planning process, even if I didn't notice it.  I had a great time remembering the ornaments and old times.  I tried to worship some in the process, too.  Go Jesus!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best Christmas Pageant

I just saw the play, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," produced by the Rockingham County Theater Guild.  They did a great job with the production, and it is great story anyway.

In the play, a church's Christmas pageant looks like a looming disaster because a family of six unruly kids shows up to be part of the play.  These kids end up learning the Christmas story for the first time, and really take it to heart -- in their own way.

I know the story, but it still made me cry.  Jesus always shows up in unexpected ways, especially when we think we have things all figured out.  I'm glad to see him at work.  I think he loves to push people like me out of our comfort zones, so we can see who he really is.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Attitude

As I am reading Getting Things Done, I am finding a sense of hope that I can really manage the various responsibilities swirling around in my life and mind.  There is nothing like a clear desk and an empty in-box to free up one's mind.

Now my desk is not completely clear, nor my in-box completely empty.  But they are both improving, and that is what gives me hope.  I have to confess that I have not read much more in the book, but my renewed attitude makes me ready to wrestle the alligators that keep me from focusing.

Maybe it's just the Christmas season.  Maybe it is anticipating our church's new building or our presence at the Stokesdale Christmas Parade.  I just want to seize the moment and do something that will grow the kingdom of God.  That's where the real excitement is!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not So Hot

The debate over global warming or "climate change," is getting interesting now. Most people have now gotten on board with reducing carbon footprints and saving the planet.  But those adjustments might be a waste of time and effort. 

Now we have learned that scientists have disposed of records of world temperatures, the raw data used to create the current theory of global warming.  These records were the readings gathered around the world, recorded on paper or magnetic tape.  The scientists took these reading and adjusted them to account for variables in the way they were collected.  The adjusted data were kept, but the raw data were disposed of when the science lab was moved to another building. 

This matters because other scientists cannot double-check the findings of the first scientists.  That leaves us in a place of having to take their word for it.  And that is extremely unscientific. 

The scientific method requires that results from experiments be reproducible.  In this case, someone else must be able to analyze the data and come to the same conclusions.  Now that can't happen.  The foundational evidence for the hypothesis has be discarded, and the basis for the theory of global warming is gone.

To make matters worse, some in the scientific community have the appearance of black-balling scientists who give credence to evidence not supporting the global warming theories.  Again, not good science.  Science should not be about who/what you agree with, but about the data's relationship to a given hypothesis -- whether for or against it.

Good science is about discovering truth, not scouting about for evidence to support one's theory.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting Things Done

I recently began a book called Getting Things Done, by David Allen.  It was highly recommended to me by a couple of friends, who, apparently, are getting things done.  When I began the book, I was intrigued by Allen's suggestion that one can be organized and peaceful at the same time.  I have often regarded the two as mutually exclusive.

I'm blogging about this as I begin the book, because I want to see if it makes any difference in my life.  I have read time management books in the past, but none of those systems really was workable for me.

Although this is a busy time of year, I expect to have some time read, because our home schooling responsibilities ease up in December.  Plus, it would be great to start the new year with a system of getting things done more effectively.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Setting the Stage

We had our first workday at our new building.  We hope to begin worshiping there in January.  One of the cool things we did was to take apart some of the huge shelving units that came with the building.  We are going to use the sections of shelving for our stage at the Stokesdale Christmas Parade.

The stage is going to be awesome.  Sixteen by twenty feet with two levels.  Our drummer will be setting up on the high level.  Then our parade commentators can sit up high after the parade begins.  Should be great!

Also, the Stokesdale market will be held on parade day, so we will have a much bigger audience.  It's coming soon, Dec. 12. 

For now, it's time to think about being thankful.  I think I have more for which to be thankful than ever before.  God is good, and he shares his goodness with us.  Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Something Completely Different!

Yesterday we closed on a new building, a meeting place for our church. It is very exciting for us, because we have never had this opportunity before. We are working now to create a space for the community, where people can gather, visit, conduct business and share life.

I spoke to the town clerk yesterday, and mentioned that we want to make space available for people in the community to meet with clients or friends.  She wants me to let her know as soon as this space is ready -- she has people often calling her, asking for suggestions for meeting rooms.  This area in our new building can be used by realtors, builders, consultants, homeowners associations; or for birthday parties, social gatherings, small groups, and the list is endless.

Our goal is to be Christ to the community of Stokesdale and beyond.  We want to share his love in practical ways and help people become all that God has created them to be.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breaking down

How many things can go wrong at the same time? Don't answer that. I know better than to ask that, actually. So far this week we have problems with our van, a computer, a dishwasher, a washing machine and a power outlet. It takes all day to schedule appts and juggle everything around.

Meanwhile life goes on. I keep waiting for things to settle down, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm beginning to wonder if it ever will.

And so God is making it abundantly clear that I have to take a break, whether I can find the time or not.

Off to the car repair shop now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sounds like real money

Last week we were in Washington, DC on a home school field trip. It was really inspiring to see all the monuments and historical artifacts.

Since I tutor several subjects for home schoolers, including economics, I have been watching the growing government debt with concern. On the train into DC one day, we met an accountant who works as an auditor for a private auditing firm.

His company is charged with overseeing the books of the General Services Administration. After telling a little about his story, he said, "There is a big margin for error," in his audits. He went on to say that a discrepancy of $130 million to $150 million doesn't merit much attention. "So they just write that off?" I asked. Yes, they do, he said.

To his credit, he was also appalled. He is an experienced accountant who has only been working in Washington for less than a year. It seems like he wants taxpayers to know what's really going on inside the Beltway. He still lives in Georgia and commutes to DC during the week.

His story tells about just one department of the government. All the other departments and agencies must also have huge "margins of error." Since I like to balance my checkbook to the penny, it makes me uncomfortable to think about undetected mistakes.

It shocks me to think that potentially billions of dollars can be written off in the accounting of all these government checkbooks. Can you imagine the temptation to embezzle? You could take a million dollars a month, and NO ONE WOULD KNOW IT!

Bi9 government has many drawbacks, not the least of which is that no one really knows all that's happening. Somebody must be supervising all this bureaucracy. The auditors are, and they are watching money disappear by the hundreds of millions.

No wonder we need to spend $1.4 trillion more than we have this year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Washington, DC

I haven't been to D.C. since I was about 10 years old. It was a cool visit then. I'm excited to go see the Capital again tomorrow. My older daughter's 10th grade (home school) class is going on a field trip, and the rest of my family is going along, too.

I really don't know what to expect to be different. I just love history. I had a dream recently that I met the president. Not counting on it really happening, but that would be very cool.

They are supposed to be voting on all the Obamacare stuff this week. Maybe I can tell them to keep the government out of the free market.

Even so, I am so glad to be an American. I am really inspired by the principles on which our country is founded. I do hope that we can return to them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


It seems like life comes in waves. Right now we've got a few waves to ride. We have a group of 18 people going with us to Catalyst Conference, and some of us are leaving in about an hour and a half. We've also got a wave of opportunity for Crossroads as we purchase a new building. That is opening up all kinds of possibilities for ministry and worship. Then, this weekend my daughter is in a play, Mulan, her first acting experience. That has been a blast for her.

Life doesn't get boring, that's for sure.

For now, I'm praying for our group attending Catalyst to hear the voice of God. He wants to take all of us to a new level -- individually and as a fellowship. These are exciting times!

I'm grateful for the waves God sends our way. Sometimes I think I'm going to drown, but he always pulls us through. And I would not have it any other way.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Coming Together

It has been an amazing week of seeing God's plan coming together. We have been working for weeks to get a purchase contract on a foreclosed building. Finally we got a contract in hand on Monday. We have also been working on financing, trying to get a loan approved for the purchase.

So, on Monday we get the contract to purchase. We have until Oct. 5 to sign the contract, and until Oct. 9 to prove that we have the money to make the purchase. Well, we are moving through this process by faith, trusting God to work out all the details.

Then yesterday afternoon I have a meeting with our current landlord. He says that they want to give us plenty of notice, and that they want their building back by April 1. Looks like God is closing that door. No longer do we just have a feeling that we need to leave the Long House; now we know for sure.

When I come home from that meeting yesterday, I get the email saying that our loan with the NC Baptist Foundation has been approved! Only God could put together such a series of events.

There is a great feeling of affirmation from God when things work out like this! When we move forward in faith -- knowing that unless God shows up, we're in trouble -- God can really get the glory.

Now, I'm eager to believe God for the next amazing feat. He's changing the world, and we want to be part of it! He does amazing things in powerful ways. He wants us to ask him, so that he can deliver and bring his kingdom!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Praying it up

We continue to wait for some pieces of the puzzle to fall into place as we seek to purchase a building. God has led us to this point. But it is nerve-wracking.

It helps me to chill out, realizing that God has everything under control. If he doesn't want this deal to work out, then he has something better for us. I don't know what it could be, but then 6 weeks ago I knew nothing about this new building. That's how God operates. He's constantly at work behinds the scenes. He pulls out surprises.

He will not forget us. He calls us to himself, to trust in him, to pray.

Meanwhile, he is mightily at work in the people of Crossroads. It's a win all the way around.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quantum Faith

God takes our faith to new levels. Usually it happens in leaps. That's where we are at Crossroads. As God leads us to find new meeting space, we are suddenly looking at purchasing a building. We have to take our commitment to new levels.

Lots of people are stepping up with the effort already. People are dreaming about the possibilities, planning how to give, organizing fund raising events, offering to do construction work. This process is a fantastic opportunity to trust Jesus. He tells us to ask him for anything for his kingdom, and he will do it.

Maybe it would be more comfortable if our faith could grow gradually. But so often God thrusts us into new territory. And we just have to rise to the occasion. His Spirit gives us the power we need.

Our faith is taking Quantum leaps. We are ready for our opportunities to Change the World to go to a whole new level!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stretching the Band

We, the Crossroads Praise Band, were supposed to give an outdoor concert today, but the event was canceled because of all the rain. Actually, to call it a concert is a bit of a stretch -- we were to be the band at the Wells Fargo Employee Day in downtown Winston-Salem. We were to have two 45 minute music sets, and play while the employees had fun with their families.

We had a great time learning some new songs. Wells Fargo had asked for a country theme, so we had to learn some fittin' songs. Although I'm not a big country music fan, these songs were lots of fun to learn and play. The vocal harmonies are easy to pick up. And of course the chord structure is easy.

So, we worked hard, learned some new songs, had fun, and didn't get to play. Now we are just looking for a place to do these new songs. We got stretched, and that's good.

Maybe we can play at the Crossroads Silent Auction, coming soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Sometimes I look forward to life when everything is predictable, if not boring. Right now there's so much going on with Crossroads, and it's all new.

We are working on purchasing a "new" building. It's something new for Crossroads, because we have never owned real estate. In fact, I had thought that we would never own real estate. That might work in some cities, but in Stokesdale, you can't find assembly space for rent. We were blessed to find the Long House in 2002, and we have gathered there every week since April 2003.

But we have grown, and our needs have changed. We found a building for sale in Stokesdale, which we are trying to purchase. There are lots of variables, and lots of stuff to work out.

The whole process, though, is taking our folks to new levels of service and commitment. People are enthusiastically serving the kingdom of God as we rise to this challenge.

It feels like a swirling mass of uncertainty to me, but I know that God is in control. He quiets my soul when I get troubled.

For him, it's all so simple. We make things complicated.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

High Water

Today God blew me away in our worship. His presence was obvious as we gathered to enjoy him. He filled every song, every testimony, every prayer. He touched our hearts as we prayed for a teenager's healing. When it was time for me to speak, it seemed like there was nothing to say. But God allowed me to speak, and it was exciting to share.

After our worship time, we considered our purchase of a building in Stokesdale. As we continue to grow, we are out-growing our current meeting space and need to find a new place to meet. Miraculously God provided a great opportunity to buy an existing building. Our spirit of excitement carried into our discussion about the building, and we voted unanimously to purchase the building.

It seems like God is taking us to new heights. His best moments for us just keep coming. After our Jamaica mission trip this spring, the report from the trip was a high point for us in ministry. Then we had our VBS in June/July. The energy and participation were off the chart. This was our biggest and best VBS ever. Another high water mark.

Then today, God shows his power. This worship time seemed like the culmination of many years of praying and watching. We had never thought that the Long House would be our permanent place to meet, so we always kept our eyes open for new meeting space. When our need to move out of the Long House became more urgent, we still had nowhere to go.

We have had to trust him, even when we could see no way for him to provide. Then he brings this building across our path, just when we could see no way forward. We expect soon to get the building under contract, and we have already begun the process of raising the needed cash.

Today seems like a culmination, but in some ways, it is just a beginning. Now we have to trust God to see us through the site plans, inspections, financing and local government approval. He has to keep doing it, because it is beyond our ability to get it done.

Today is a high water mark, but it points to greater things yet to be done in this city.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Power of a blog

I saw "Julie and Julia" this afternoon. It was a cool movie. Amy Adams is an amazing actress, and of course Meryl Streep is too. It was fun to see Julia Child again. It brings back lots of childhood memories. I don't think I ever sat down to watch her cook, but my mother must have. She was just entertaining to watch -- Julia Child, I mean.

The Julie in the movie decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child's book in one year. And she decides to blog about it. Her blog was so engaging that she got lots of followers. People sent her fan mail and really got into her journey.

I think that blogs are powerful because ordinary people have interesting experiences and profound insights. As we connect with people whose thoughts inspire us, our own thoughts take off.

Sometimes I think that only profound things are worth blogging about. But I live my life in the ordinary things. Occasionally I have profound thoughts, too. But I don't get them on the blog as often as I would like. It just takes discipline to share.

Now, I do journal regularly. I probably have four or five entries every week. It serves as a great record of my life. I just need to go back and read those dozens of volumes. Blogging is sometimes more convenient, because I can type much faster than I can write longhand.

But who really cares about my rambling thoughts? I mean, I don't even read my OWN journals. For me, writing is therapeutic. I process my thoughts with words.

Well, sharing the ordinary things in life can connect us, so that the profound things really hit home. God is using technology to connect his people of passion, who really want to see the kingdom of God come. I want to be part of this movement. I need to go read some blogs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reckless Wisdom

I want to be reckless in my pursuit of God. I want to jump in with both feet in kingdom work. I have wasted far too much energy being afraid that something won't quite work out right. Even if it doesn't, God is there to pick up the pieces. Too much caution can make you paralyzed.

Erwin McManus says that bold, daring discipleship is like a charging rhino. These huge animals can run fast, but they can only see about 30 feet ahead. There eyes aren't that good. Even so, they will charge when they want to. They might not know what's ahead, but they move with purpose and intensity.

I like that picture. God doesn't give us all the details, but he expects us to move ahead. If he is in charge, then we can trust him. As he leads us, we can go with confidence, even if we can't see that far ahead.

But that's where it gets tricky. How do we know where God is leading us? His most rewarding challenges require faith. We have to believe what we can't see. Sometimes we have to believe what doesn't seem to make sense.

When opportunities come our way, then, we have to evaluate them. We pray and ask for his leadership. We do the due diligence of gathering all the relevant information. We weigh the potential costs and benefits. We look to see if this fits the pattern of God's leadership for us in the past. We ask for godly advice. We seek his leadership in his Word.

Can wisdom be reckless? Was it reckless for Abraham to raise his knife to kill his son? It seems reckless to me, but it was exactly what God called him to do. It was also reckless for Peter to step out onto the water toward Jesus. God commanded Abraham and then stopped him from following through. Jesus invited Peter into the water when Peter asked permission. When Peter began to sink, Jesus bailed him out.

Both of these men experienced life more deeply because they trusted God and acted upon their faith. They could have decided to pray about it longer, but they just did it. They had the wisdom to know when it was time to act. That takes courage.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Unintended Consequences

I saw a friend at Village Pizza today, someone in the used car business. As we talked, he brought up the federal "clunkers" program. As a car dealer, he had some interesting insights on the program.

The program actually mandates that the old cars be destroyed, not repaired or refurbished. I have seen some photos of cars waiting to be crushed. I also saw on Fox News' website a clip of a nice looking Volvo being disabled. Somehow the clunkers program mandated that such cars be rendered inoperable. The video showed a mechanic in the driver's seat, flooring the car while it sat in neutral, hood up. It only took a few minutes for the engine to begin smoking and fail. Did they have to do that before they crushed the car? I don't get it.

While getting such vehicles off the road may be a noble idea, it seems like a terrible waste to me. I actually thought about turning in my '94 Taurus for a newer vehicle. But I don't think I could bear to think about it being crushed as junk. It still has plenty of life in it!

My friend said that these old vehicles could be fixed up and resold to people who need cheap transportation. This would put lots of people to work, repairing, cleaning, and reselling these cars. It would be a good use of resources.

I also thought that these cars could be shipped to developing countries where they need any kind of vehicle. Many of these older cars have less complex engines and can be repaired as needed in the field.

But instead, the vehicles are just crushed -- wasted. Yes, they do pollute, but so do the newer cars. The value of putting these vehicles to work would outweigh the damage they may do to the environment. Imagine the poverty that could be eliminated with a few good machines in a developing community. Think of hundreds of communities where poverty is diminished, and you can also imagine people who treat the environment much better.

And there is another unintended consequence. The glut of the clunkers in the metal recycling system is pushing down the price of scrap metal. Those who made their living with recycling are being driven out of business. This damages the long term recycling industry and potentially puts people out of work.

I think I'll hang on to my car. I'm getting ready to turn over to 200,000 miles. Maybe I can get another 100k out of it.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Today marks 40 years since the first human stepped on the moon. I remember watching the event unfold on television. I loved watching all the space coverage, even though I did not know how earth shaking it really was.

Looking back with the eyes of an adult through the lens of history, I can see how extraordinary this achievement really was. Kennedy announced this initiative on May 25, 1961. Less than ten years later, it was accomplished. The project brought the nation together in a way that seems impossible today. Perhaps the assassination of the president in 1963 gave Americans the will to make the moon landing possible. Certainly there were huge obstacles to overcome. And overcome them we did.

I wonder if we will ever find a similar goal, one untainted by political fighting, one on which we can truly work together. I have some suggestions for similar goals, but I doubt that we have the unity to pull it off. If any event would bring us together, one would think that the 9/11 bombings would have done so. In the short run we did come together. But now, nearly 8 years later, we are fighting petty political wars at home, rather than identifying the real enemy.

A unified people is a powerful force.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Making nothing happen

OK, I am starting to get the message from God. Yesterday I read the end of 2 Chronicles, as it recounts the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The Jews were taken to exile by the Babylonians. That is, they were removed from their land. Part of the reason for this, the Bible says, is so that the land could experience all the Sabbaths years that the Jews had ignored. Every seventh year they were supposed to leave the land fallow, and live on whatever crops grew on their own. That's takes a lot more trust than any farmers today seem to have.

Anyway, God makes the point in his word that he can create Sabbath for us even if we don't choose to rest. I remember a man named Fred whom I knew about 20 years ago. He prayed that God would give him more time with his family, especially his two teenage daughters. To hear him tell the story, it sounded like he did not do anything to help that happen. Then he had an accident at work. A huge, inch-thick, piece of sheet metal fell on him at the boiler factory where he worked. It nearly cut off his leg, and it did break both of his lower leg bones. I knew him for about two years, and he had plenty of time with his family. I guess that the bones eventually healed.

So, here's my point. I want to be obedient to God concerning Sabbath. I want to rest. I want to take at least one day a week to do nothing. I want to consider work off limits. I would like to honor him with resting, even as counter-cultural as that may be. I want to rest, even if I feel guilty about it, because I need to get over it. I know that I don't deserve to rest, but then, that's the point. God gives us what we don't deserve.

So, here's my plan. I'm taking tomorrow as a Sabbath. And I've got lots of work to do today to make that happen!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I don't deserve it

I have been reflecting on the importance of Sabbath. My problem is that I want to take a break from everything when I am finished with everything. The only problem is that I'm never finished with everything. I never feel like I deserve a break.

That's true. I don't ever deserve a break. The amazing thing is that God wants to give me what I don't deserve. He loves me so much that he wants to give me a break, even when there is more work to do.

The Sabbath was made for man. It is God's gift to his people. We don't earn gifts. They are free. Just as I don't deserve a relationship with God, I don't deserve a break. But God is so good, he allows us to have one anyway. In fact, he commands us to take a break. Maybe he knew that many of us would be so hardheaded that we would not take an optional break.

Now I realize that I can be disobedient and relentlessly pursue the vision God has given me; or I can be obedient and take a break from that relentless pursuit. The work is not going anywhere. Rest is really acknowledging that God can handle the world without my effort.

Yeah, yeah. I have known all that for sometime. But now I need to get serious about letting go every week. Just for a day. It will be more than OK. It will be what God wants.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I'm taking a few days off at the beach. Sometimes I need to do some detox from adrenaline. Actually, I need to do that about once a week. Seems like God had some guidance on that. Somehow I can't quite get that commandment worked into the way I live.

I find that failure to rest makes my thinking more fuzzy. It also makes my connection with God much weaker. And I think I can get away with staying busy all the time.

How foolish. And when I do something about it?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Public Honor

I thought there was something strange about the news last week that the SC governor had taken a hike on the Appalachian Trail. I wondered why it made headlines. Obviously there was something fishy about his story, and the press was all over it. Then it turns out that he was in Argentina, indulging an adulterous affair.

I have to wonder what he was thinking. His wife already knew about the affair. How could he expect to keep it a secret? Why would he make such foolish decisions about being away from his responsibilities?

A friend remarked that his attitudes are part of what it takes to hold high office: an attitude of seeking power, and being above the law. What a shame.

Someone said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Knowing this, our founding fathers set up government in which no one had absolute power. George Washington was offered this absolute power after the American Revolution. They offered to make him king, but he refused. What a wise man. What restraint!

Just a few years later, in 1789, the U.S. Constitution was ratified, and soon after, Washington was elected president. He knew the meaning of honor and service. He knew the power of temptation and the high calling of public service.

We need men and women today who will serve the public with that same sober sense of responsibility and humility. We've had enough of people who seek fame and power, believing they are above the law. May we ask God to give us such leaders.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Sometimes you hear about something once, for the first time, and then you seem to hear about it everywhere.  My neighbor told me last night that she had bought a "Kindle" for her 13-year-old son.  A what?  She explained it to me in general terms.

Then I got a junk email today saying that I could win a free Kindle.  OK.  Now I need to find out about this.  I found on Amazon some descriptions of it.  One commenter on the video description said that the Kindle is to books what the iPod is to music.  Now you can take it anywhere, any time.  

With this electronic device, you can buy any book on Amazon, instantly, from anywhere.  No Wi Fi needed.  No monthly subscription fees at all.  Just buy books.  It reads, they say, like a real book with ink on paper.  The screen has no backlighting.  

You can subscribe to newspapers with the device, too.  Pretty amazing.  I am looking forward to getting one of these puppies.  But I'm counting on the price coming down from $285 to something cheaper.

I could get more books without needing more bookshelf space.  That sounds really good.  But can I underline and make notes on the pages?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wise words on Friendship

Since I have begun accounts on Facebook and Twitter, I was intrigued with the title of a letter written by Nathan Hatch to the Wake Forest University class of 2009.    As an alumnus, class of ’84, I get the college’s email newsletter, and occasionally I click to read full articles.

 You can read the article called “Friendship means more than Facebook” at  To sum it up, Hatch says that on-line networking is valuable, but it can never replace real friendship.  I was glad to hear that Wake’s president values friendship so much, and that he has the courage to share his counter-cultural insights with today’s college graduates.

 I am reminded that connections with dozens of people can be good, but that we all need a few close friends.  Friendship takes time, and I need to keep making the investment.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Our mission trip to Jamaica was a great success.  We did construct two 20-foot concrete columns.  We made much better time with the second column, having figured out most of the engineering with the first one.

 This picture shows the first column, with the plywood forms in place.  When we took the form off, we saw a beautiful, concrete pillar.  It is no wonder that construction projects take so long in Jamaica.  If every job takes as long as this one, it is a wonder that anything is ever built.

 On June 7 we had a report time in our worship service at Crossroads.  I asked the team what they thought was their most significant impact during the trip.  Most of us thought that the impact we had on the missionary and his family was the most profound.

 We did do some permanent construction.  We did talk a lot to the people we saw around the Spanish Town Tabernacle church building.  We were a witness of how people can work together to accomplish a goal.  But I think that we brought some needed fellowship to the Kay family in Kingston.

 God helped me to grow during the trip.  I took a few hours after I returned to list some things that I don’t want to forget.  I expect the list to jog my memory, so that I can expound on my experience.  There are lots of interesting cultural differences, and I want to remember them.  There are also lots of spiritual insights and questions from the trip.

 Thank you to all who helped make this trip possible and so successful.  We are already thinking about our next mission trip!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mission Accomplished

My apologies for not posting more blogs. I have not had easy access to the internet on my computer, so I am borrowing the host's computer.

Today we finished forming and pouring another 20' column for the church building. The church is called Spanish Town Tabernacle. They are a young church, only about 6 years old. Their worship service on Sunday was surprisingly similar to worship at Crossroads. They had some great singing, captured on video by Danny. They did a baby dedication, had prayer requests and prayed for mission work in Sri Lanka.

On Sunday night we all went into a ghetto, called Irish Pen, handing out tracts and inviting people to come to church. I was surprised how eager the people were to read the tracts. They were mostly very receptive to our invitations. I spoke one young man named Dwight who had recently been laid off and needs a job. I prayed with him about his need for work and encouraged him to seek all that God has for him. I shared the gospel with him and he seemed very receptive. I'm still praying for him to find work.

Although jobs are difficult to find in Jamaica, there are many businesses in the ghetto. I saw general stores, several bars, even grocery stores. Spanish Town Tabernacle is actually sponsoring a young entrepreneur in his chicken business in Irish Pen.

Goats are everywhere in Kingston and Spanish town. Although they are free range, they reportedly all have owners. "When you calls you goat, then he come," a lady told us today.

Tomorrow we will take a fun day and visit Dunns River Falls on the northern part of the island. Then on Wednesday we will fly home.

Check out Danny Sides' Facebook account for more info and some photos, including a picture of the "magic laundry basket" at our host home. More later...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Adventure Points

We did make it to Jamaica on Monday night. We actually arrived at the missionary's home at about 1 a.m. local time, which is 2 a.m. eastern time.

We got here, but our luggage did not. On Wednesday we worked fabricating rebar structures to construct concrete columns. We did this work at the home of the Kays, our missionary hosts. Although our luggage had still not arrived, we cleaned up as much as we could -- without a change of clothes -- and went to conduct a street evangelistic meeting on Wed. night.

This was held in a ghetto, just behind the church building on which we are working. The Kays live in Kingston, and the church they are planting is in Spanish Town, about 45 min away. Anyway, this street meeting was a great experience. We set up some sound equipment at a corner and began the meeting. Some of the church members sang, Bud Kay introduced us, and then several on our team shared about what Jesus has done in our lives.

Afterward we had conversations with lots of people. I enjoyed taling with them. I met one 8-year-old girl named Whitney. She introduced me to her friend Tonya. It is very hard for us to understand the Jamaican accents. They are speaking English, but I can understand only very little of it. The irony is that they understand us perfectly, because all the media uses standard English. They laugh at us because we seem so dense.

Finally, when we got back home at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, we had our luggage -- all but Daniel. His finally arrived today.

We are making good progress with our project. I will have to post some photos when I figure out how to do that.

The Kays have been fabulous hosts for us, cooking for us and even washing our clothes. By the way, when we finally got our luggage, our clothes inside were wet. Apparently our bags had sat out in the rain somewhere along their journey. Lynda Kay graciously offered to dry our clothes.

The Kays have two children: J.D., who is about 11, and Dana, who is about 9. They are both home schooled.

I need to thank Bud for allowing me to use his computer to post this blog.

There is much more to see, and much more to do here. All is well, and we even racked up some "adventure points." Lynda says that when things get a little crazy on a trip like this, we really rack up adventure points. As long as we are safe, and getting kingdom work done, the adventure points (at least so far) make the trip exciting.

Thank you for all your prayers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On Mission

We have made it to Ft. Lauderdale, and there is a (free) Wi Fi connection here. I had expected to have a connection in Jamaica, too, but now I’m not sure we will have one.

We have had a couple of delays due to weather. We arrived safely, but late, in Ft. Lauderdale. We are now flying standby for a 9 p.m. flight to Montego Bay, where we will catch another flight to Kingston.

If we can’t catch the plane tonight, we will spend the night in Ft. Lauderdale and get an early flight to Jamaica tomorrow.

Dan has always told us that we need to be flexible. OK. It is actually a great trip. Dan is handling all the logistics, so the rest of us just know that he will figure things out.

We got upgraded to first class on our flight from Atlanta to Ft. Laud. Pretty sweet deal, especially since we had to wait for about an hour on the ground, in the plane. Not bad when you have plenty of room.

On the Way. Had weather delays. Now on standby for fly

Monday, May 18, 2009

Love and Music

There is a certain feeling of being love.  It is the openness of the soul, a complete trust in someone else.  I also experience this feeling in music.  It is an openness of the soul, and a carefree enjoyment of the moment.

 When God is driving the music, then he can speak to my soul through it.  It helps me connect with him.

 This thought just came to me today as I was mowing grass.  I had never really thought about that connection before.

Divine Refusal

I am learning, over the years, to handle expectations.  People often want me to read this book, check out this article, get involved with this cause.  Sometimes it is right on track and very helpful to me.  But sometimes it is not.  It is all good stuff, but it is not all stuff that God calls me to do. 

Last week I wondered, “What if I refuse to meet these expectations?”  Jesus often refused to do what people asked or expected him to do.  I went through the book of Mark (and some other passages) and found numerous times when Jesus refused to do something others expected of him.

He refused to get involved in an argument between brothers (Luke 12:14).  He refused to control his disciples’ obedience to Sabbath laws.  He refused to come when his family called him.  He refused to let a healed demoniac travel with him.  He refused to appoint James and John to his ruling cabinet.  He refused to tell the Pharisees where his power came from.  He refused to testify at his trial.  He refused to drink wine mixed with myrrh as he died on the cross.

The key is that Jesus allowed only the Father to direct his actions.  The Holy Spirit led him.  Jesus did not explain himself or apologize for any apparent neglect.  He always treated people with love, even when he was harsh with them.

 Of course Jesus had his critics.  They did not understand why he would not follow convention or bow to the wishes of others.  It made people mad.  But Jesus was not afraid of that.  He had a mission from the Father, and he would not be diverted from it.

 I need to stay in such close relationship with God that I have a real sense of his calling upon me.  Then I can know what God wants me to do and to refuse to do.  And, like all of us, I will have my critics.  But there is a real sense of freedom in knowing that I only need to please an audience of One.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I enjoy thunderstorms.  I know they can be dangerous, though.  When Lisa and I were engaged, living in Ft. Worth, TX, we had  a real scare.  It must have been a Saturday, b/c we were both off of work.  Our respective apartments were just across the sidewalk from each other.  We were coming back to our complex from shopping when we saw a huge storm coming up.  The cloud was huge and almost black. 

By the time we got back to my (soon to be “our”) apt., the storm began to rage.  I had no radio, so I went across the courtyard to Lisa’s apt. to get her boom box.  I could barely maneuver through the wind.  I got back to our apt. and could not figure out how to use the radio.  The power was out and I figured the boom box batteries were dead.  (They weren’t.  I just couldn’t find the right switch.)

With no TV or radio, we could only wait and watch.  The storm blew out one of our windows in the stairway, leaving glass shards stuck in the opposite wall.  A serious storm.  Later we found out that it was not a tornado, but a storm with straight line winds of up to 90 mph.  Someone actually died in that storm.

Having said that, I still like storms.  I like the thunder and lightning.  I love the sound of the driving rain and the wind.  These storms are especially fun at night, offering glimpses of daylight in the chaos.

So now I’m on my porch, waiting for a storm, but it’s just sprinkling.  Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind seeing a little sunshine before it gets dark…Surely we are caught up with rain for a while.  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get it straight

I do like to be organized.  Our moving process to our new house is continuing, but we still have more stuff to move.  Fortunately we are absorbing and putting in place all the stuff we are moving.  Unfortunately, that makes the process slow, and there is still more stuff.

 I had hoped to get the house all empty by the end of this month.  Not going to happen.  I really want to get it in top shape to sell this month or next.  We are closer, though.

 The good news is that things are well organized at the new abode.  It’s amazing how much better one can organize with enough space.  It is even easier to clean with more space. 

 Now I can get things in place, know where they are, and get to them when I need them.  It just feels better knowing that I don’t have a big mess lurking behind every closed door. 

 That’s true spiritually, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blogging or 'Booking?

I have noticed that since I began Facebooking, I have cut back on my blog posts. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Blogging is a way to share thoughts, both profound and inane. Facebook is a way to keep up with friends’ lives. And people can share profound thoughts there, too.

I try to check up on people by Facebook regularly, and post “what’s on my mind” every couple of days.

During my daily life I am constantly thinking, “That would be a great thought for my blog.” Sometimes the ideas evaporate, and sometimes when I try to articulate them, they don’t seem all that important after all.

I heard about a teen blogger – one that my older daughter follows – who committed to try to blog every day for a month. If blogging is about sharing life, then that’s a pretty good goal. I always want to share more often on my blog, but time slips away.

I just don’t want my life to be like that, slipping away without my doing the most important things. It takes a mind and heart in tune with the Holy Spirit, to do what really matters. That’s a goal worth trusting him for. (Not striving for. Striving always gets me worn out and wrung out, and doesn’t do much for the Kingdom.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I did it.

I finally got on Facebook. That’s part of why I haven’t blogged for awhile. At first I just wanted to save face; I didn’t want to admit that I was still such a ‘net recluse. Since I signed up on Thursday night (I think), I have been spending time on Facebook rather than blogging.

It was not too hard to get it figured out. I actually uploaded a few pics. There’s still a lot more to figure out. Like who I should let onto my page, and what they should see. So many decisions.

But I do see that I can connect with friends from high school, college and other realms. I scrolled through and found a bunch of people I would like to get back in touch with. I haven’t initiated that yet, because I’m still learning the lay of the land in Facebookdom.

It was weird when I first signed up – there were a few folks who were already waiting to be my friends. At least I knew all of them, and wanted to be friends. Then the Facebookies suggested other people I might want to be friends with. It was amazing. Must have been about 40 people on the list. I knew all but one of the people, and I asked to be friends with most of them.

How did they know that I knew these people? That is a little creepy. At least they didn’t try to match me up with a bunch of weirdos or terrorists.

Now I’ll know all about my friends, and open the window into my own life.

As for Twitter, I don’t even have a texting package for my cell phone. Won’t Twitter just kill me with texting fees? Or do I have to Twitter on the phone? So much to learn.

For now, I’ll work with Facebook and begin recruiting more people to sign up. I would invite you to see my page, but I’m not sure how to do that. You can probably figure it out…

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Catching Up

Soon I plan to get my Facebook account set up. Everywhere I hear about people’s Facebook pages. A friend in Florida told me last summer that I really should connect that way. Yeah, yeah, I thought. Now even my technophobe friends are signing up. Our church, reportedly, even has a Facebook page. And I thought I was so slick for blogging.

Some friends are also after me to begin Twittering – or is it Tweeting? I don’t even text much from my cell phone. But this is all the wave of the future, I understand.

Actually, I have been wanting to start a Facebook page for some time. I even tried it one time, and I never received the confirmation email. I can’t let that stop me. It seems too important to skip.

We just moved into a new house over the weekend – only a couple of miles from our last address – and so everything seems new. It may be the perfect time to begin some new techie habits. Soon I’ll be referring you to my Facebook page. Heh, Heh.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Reflective Reading

Eugene Peterson, the writer of The Message, has a unique perspective on reading God’s word.  I recently read an interview in which he describes his method of reflective reading.  Years ago, he says, he began reading the Psalms as poetry.  He recognized that the Psalms are poems, and you have to read poetry differently than prose.

 On a first reading of a poem, you usually don’t understand it, he says.  It takes ten or more readings to “get it.”  Now that makes sense to me.  I actually find that I have to read most things repeatedly.  This in-depth reading can be applied to all of scripture.  It is not reading large chunks of scripture, nor is it a technical study of background or grammar.

 He refers to an ancient method of scripture reading called “lectio divina,” which is Latin for “spiritual reading.”  This is the opposite of speed reading.  It is seeking to be immersed in the heart of God.  It is reading for transformation.  As we read a passage over and over, we focus on four elements of interaction with the Word:  listening, reflecting, praying, and obeying.

 This method of scripture study seems to lend itself to reading the Bible aloud.  It allows the Holy Spirit to take charge and speak to our hearts.  He changes us inwardly, so that we actually become more like Jesus.

 This doesn’t happen in a 15 minute devotional time squeezed in between a shower and breakfast.  Nor can it happen while we check the latest headlines and the weather.  We need to step back from the urgencies of life and take time with God.  That’s where real living is.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


We are way overdue for a snow.  It’s been three or four years since we’ve had enough snow to make a snowman.  In the past, we’ve always been able to count on at least one good snow per winter.  Not lately.

 Anyway, the weatherman is now calling for the chance of rain changing to snow tomorrow afternoon, with the possibility of four or more inches accumulating.  Now, it has been my experience that when the weather forecasts call for snow, they always miss it.  The more certain they are about snow accumulating, the less likely it is to happen.  The best snows always seem to catch everyone by surprise.

 We have had dustings a couple of times this season, and even these caught the weather experts by surprise.  But now I’m ready for a snow.  I’m ready to have a big bonfire and a snowball fight.  I want to build a snowman.  I want to take pictures in the snow.  It just doesn’t feel like we’ve had a winter until we’ve had a good snow.

 I get all excited when I hear snow in the forecast.  Then I get disappointed when it never happens.  But even if no one predicted it, we are still due for a good snow.

 Now, I hope I haven’t jinxed it by talking about it. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Funny Prayers

I was listening to a Catalyst podcast yesterday, and the host made a comment that struck me.  He had seen a well-known Christian leader on television offering a prayer, and he shared that something in the prayer made him laugh out loud.  He virtually apologized for laughing.  He went on to say that he rarely ever laughs during a prayer, recognizing that communication with God is a sacred experience.

Now, I certainly agree that prayer should be a sacred experience, but I must confess that I often laugh aloud during prayer with others.  God obviously has a sense of humor, and I think that he likes for us to share in it.  Routinely my family and I will burst out in laughter during family prayers.  We get tickled when we share with God something punny, absurd, frustrating or delightful.  He can be in on our jokes.  It draws us closer to his heart.

We don’t laugh at each other, mind you.  We laugh together. 

Often our worship team will laugh together in prayer as we prepare to lead worship.  Part of the fruit of the Spirit is joy, and what better way to express it than good-hearted laughter?  Our small group has been known to laugh aloud as we share our burdens and excitements with Jesus.

I expect that Jesus often laughed as he spent time with his Father.  He is fun to be with.  Good parents enjoy laughing with their children.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Scary Idea

The U.S. Senate today passed a “stimulus” package priced at $838 billion.  We have to fix everything.  If we had failed to pass this bill, we would have wrecked the economy.  Oh, wait, that was the $700 billion bailout bill last fall.  It was going to fix everything.  But now we need to spend even more money to get our economy moving forward again.

If borrowing money for the government fixes everything, then why stop at 700 + 838 billion?  Why not just borrow $10 trillion?  Just think of all the executive bonuses we could give, and “stimulus checks” we could all receive in the mail!

Where does this money come from?  Someone has to buy the U.S. treasury bills – bonds that must be repaid with interest.  But what happens when no one wants to buy them?  After all, someone so severely in debt as Uncle Sam can barely pay his minimum payments.  Why would you risk lending him more money? 

As the global financial markets shy away from purchasing T-bills, we are left with no alternative but printing money.  Then we will see a certain escalation of prices, with too much cash introduced in our money supply.

The idea is that “only government” can fix our problems.  And the only way it can fix the problem is with borrowed money.  Something is wrong with this picture.  It is a scary thought that only government can make things right.  It is even scarier when they plan to do it with money borrowed for generations in the future.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Automatic Audit

 Tax season is upon us.  Accountants are holing up at work, barely seeing the light of day.  Taxpayers are getting records together, working to determine exactly how much Uncle Sam will get.  We want to pay him all that we owe – but nothing more.

 I learned today that Tom Daschle, the president’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, has withdrawn his name from consideration.  Turns out that the former senator from South Dakota owes $134,000 in back taxes.  I am appalled that a member of our legislature could have the gall to spend billions and trillions of taxpayer dollars, while not paying his own taxes. 

 I wonder how many other senators and representatives fail to pay their taxes.  Couldn’t we have a law by which every legislator is automatically audited by the IRS?  I wonder if they would be more responsible in their spending.

 Meanwhile, the congress is proposing “stimulus” spending, an effort to borrow our way to prosperity.  Obviously we need to have more common sense in our fiscal policies.  It sounds like we also need leaders with more integrity.  We should demand better.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Favorite Teacher

I just learned few days ago that one of my favorite high school teachers passed away in October.  Tony Bryant taught me English at Page High School in the late 1970s.  I think was a sophomore.  He would always mark up my papers until they bled.  I don’t remember if I made an A or a B in his class, but I remember butting heads with him.  It seemed like he was most unreasonable as he pushed me to write better and better.  But he really cared about the students, and he would let us tease with him.  He was fun in his own opinionated, hard-headed way.

Once I challenged him on the spelling of a word.  I wrote the word “coöperate,” with the two dots over the second “o.”  He marked the word as misspelled.  It should be “co-operate,” he declared.  I pushed back, saying that the word could be spelled my way.  He instructed me to go look it up.  I found a dictionary in the room and located the word—spelled my way.

Of course, I took the book to him, smugly.  “Well, the dictionary is wrong,” he concluded, saying that the spelling had changed in contemporary English.  Now  I had the upper hand.  “How do you expect me to spell words correctly, then, if even the dictionary in our room is incorrect?”

 He did not count off for the spelling of the word, and he made a special point of getting a new dictionary in the room.  He even announced that there was now a means for checking spelling accurately.

 I often thought about going back to Page to show him one of my articles in the Northwest Observer.  I wanted to tell him that all his harassing and haranguing had really made me a better writer.  I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated it.  I wanted to laugh with him about the whining of his students today.

 I never got the chance.  He was only 60 when he died.

 Now I have my own class of 9th graders, home school students who have a day-long tutoring session every Tuesday.  When I talk to them about their writing, I hear Tony Bryant’s voice coming through me.  I only hope that these students are as blessed by my pushing them as I was by Mr. Bryant’s pushing me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Eternal Living

Sometimes I read a book, and it feels like I’ve got to finish it so that I can understand life.  Dallas Willard is an author referenced by many speakers and authors I respect, but whose works I had never read.

 I found myself in Barnes and Nobel with my family recently.  Browsing through the shelves, I found lots of books to peruse, knowing that I could buy something with a gift card given me by one of my ninth grade students.  Then I happened upon The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard.  I picked it up and read the foreword by Richard Foster.  Foster called it, “the book I have been searching for all my life.”  Whoa.  That’s the highest praise I can imagine, coming from a very profound author. 

 I brought the book home, and have been taking every free moment to read it.  Willard says that coming to Christ is more than a visa stamped in one’s eternal passport.  Jesus wants to be an intimate part of our lives here and now.  Salvation is not just about heaven.  Salvation is not just about doing good for the down and out.

 God invites us to an eternal kind of living.  He truly transforms us, inside and out.  He makes us new creatures.  That’s the life I am getting a taste of.  That’s the life I long to delve into.  That’s the joyful, abundant, risk-filled life that Jesus wants us to have.

 The Christian life should not be dull – it should be exciting.  It should not be about following rules, but following Jesus. 

 I think Willard has a lot to teach me about that.  I think the Holy Spirit has a lot to show me about that.