Sober Reminders

I have a great life.  I have had years of struggles, which have greatly shaped the person I am today, but these days life is fairly calm and I hate to complain even when I am having a “bad” day.  In a church our size, there are always “sober reminders” to keep me grounded.  One would think I would become callous to disappointing news after hearing so much of it each week, but some things will always leave me speechless.  In those times, I learn more about the reality of life.  Other people’s struggles remind me how desperate each of us is for God’s mercy and grace and how incredibly blessed my life is right now.   


There are things that no matter how many times I hear them always take me by surprise.  Things like:   


  • When I learn a wife is leaving her husband for another man, it reminds me that what we see in couples does not always represent the reality of what takes place in the privacy of their home. 


  • When I hear that a young father received an unexpected stage 4 cancer diagnosis, it reminds me that life is fragile and family time has great value. 


  • When I sign another military “notification in case of tragedy” form indicating that I have to bring “bad news” should something happen to the solider, it reminds me that others serve our country so that my family and I can be safe and worship freely. 


  • When another teenage daughter becomes pregnant, it reminds me how much pressure is on our teens today and how desperately she needs our love and direction for life. 


  • When a mother or father loses their job, it reminds me that their biggest concern this Christmas is not what to buy but how will they buy anything.


  • When I find out the reason a couple has been married for years, but does not have children is infertility, I am reminded that there is a pain in a couple’s heart that I will never quite understand. 


  • When I talk with a family who has lost a child to tragedy, it reminds me that some pain in life never completely goes away. 


At Christmastime, “sober reminders” always help me remember that Jesus came to those who are hurting, those down in heart, and those in need of a Savior.  

10 Things I Learned from my First Marathon


I completed my first marathon today, the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama.  I registered in September and began a training program that would help me get ready by mid December.  I kept on schedule through my 18-mile run, but then life got crazy and I was not able to run much the last four weeks before the race. I had considered not running, but decided I had worked too hard and so I pressed into it and finished.  The first question I get is “Would I do another one?”  The answer is yes, but I have learned a few things about marathons that I would do differently if I did another one. 


1.      If you have to spit every few feet, spit long and hard.  I hit my shirt a few times.

2.      Do not drink 2 cups of coffee and a triple-shot latte’ prior to the race.  It woke me up, but I had to stop at the first six porta-potties. 

3.      The Rocket City Marathon needs more porta-potties.  I waited at least 3 to 5 minutes each time I stopped.

4.      Girls take longer in porta-potties than boys do.

5.      Starting is easier than finishing.  The first four miles make you feel you could run forever.   Do not be deceived.  (Of course, that statement is indicative of a lot of life.)

6.      A little encouragement goes a long way.  One little boy yelling “Keep going” made the difference for me at one point.

7.      Learn to stretch.  I never have and it caused cramps towards the end of the race.  

8.      Cheryl is a great wife.  I would not want to do a marathon without her. 

9.      I get nervous the night before and slightly cranky. 

10.  Nothing beats the feeling of crossing the finish line and knowing the race is over.  At that point, who cares about their time? 


If you are looking for a flat course and fun marathon, consider the Huntsville Rocket City Marathon.    I should of course mention that I could not have made this race without God’s help. The last three miles I said “Thank you, God. Thank you, God” over and over again, because there were times I didn’t think I could complete it.  So, Thank you, God. 

Allowing Children to Explore Their Own Faith

I want to encourage you to release your children to explore their own faith.  Okay, that sounds very liberal.  I apologize, but let me explain. I hope your children have a solid faith in the one true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I would make that a part of daily prayer and intentionally lead them towards that reality for their own life.  The truth, however, is that your children are some day going to question their faith.  At some point in life, most people I know have questioned whether what they have always believed is true. My encouragement is to let some of that process occur while your children still live in your home or under your authority. 


With that in mind, here are five quick suggestions to consider to spur a life-long faith and to allow your children to explore their faith:


1.      When children are very young, set the stage for them spiritually with what you think is best for them.  For example, if church is important, and I think it is, then do not let a 2 year old determine whether you go to church.  Take them to church on a regular basis so it becomes a natural part of who they are as individuals.

2.      At the same time, let the children’s needs play a part in deciding what church to attend.  As tough as it may be on grandparents not to have their grandchildren in the same church, it would be better to have your children actually love their church experience than to attend somewhere they do not enjoy going. 

3.      Find opportunities to talk about faith and God in non-threatening, everyday environments.  Talk about God should never be limited to “church time”.  Make God part of your normal life.  (He is you know!) Model living a life for Christ in front of your child.

4.      As a child, having been raised in church and heard all the “stories”, attempts to explore his own faith, do not feel the pressure to answer every question they have.  If children are seeking truth, guide them towards the source of truth (God’s Word) and let them explore it for themselves.  This is the only way to make sure your children actually “own” their faith.  When one of my boys was questioning eternal security, for example, I suggested he read the conflicting passages on the subject and encouraged him to reach his own conclusion.  (He did, btw, and landed in the same place I land.) 

5.      Keep the lines of communication open even when your children are questioning what they believe.  I have known so many parents who “freak” when their children express opinions about their faith that are contrary to their parents.  I have never seen this reaction work to their favor.  It usually causes further separation between the child and the parent.  This is where I believe Proverbs 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.) comes into play.  Parent towards Christ early in your child’s life, release them to explore, keep praying for them and loving them, and the principle in Proverbs is that they will return to their roots in time. 


Children are going to question their faith someday.  Any faith worth having involves periods of testing over time.  Chances are good that you questioned your faith at some point.  Allow your children to test their faith in God, but pray it happens while they are still in your home or listening to your counsel so you will be there to help them find their way Home again. 

Geographic Differences in Culinary (Food) Tastes

Every corner of our country has a uniqueness in their culinary delights.

A friend of mine’s daughter is having a nervous day. Tonight she is having dinner for the first time at her new boyfriend’s house and she already knows what’s on the menu; cheese grits. Being from the Northwest United States, she has no idea what they are, she just assumes she won’t like them.

It brings up an interesting discussion in my mind. In our community group we have several from other parts of the country who are culturally ignorant to the ways of the South. For example, several in our group have never enjoyed the salty taste of country ham. (In fact they think we eat everything too salty.) Several have never heard of chess pie. (Don’t even mention the term “buttermilk pie” to them.) They think we eat grass when we mention turnip greens.

It makes me wonder. Have they ever really lived? Do their taste buds even like them as people? While they’ve been eating cheese curds and huckleberry pie; we’ve been enjoying real food as God intended food to be eaten. (I kinda feel sorry for them, but at least they are in a location where they can finally learn about the delicacies of life.)

What other food specialties come to your mind that differentiates us geographically in the United States?

Getting Rid of Fear In Life

Most of us live our lives with some kind of fear. That’s probably uncontrollable to a great extent. We live in a very fearful world.

What would it be like to live your life apart from fear or with less fear?

Here are some points of understanding which can help us become less afraid of the unknown situations of life:

Life can be uncertain.

There are lots of unknowns in the world. That makes people afraid. Most people would prefer to know the outcome of a situation and yet many times, probably most of the time, we do not get that privilege. Most of the horrifying experiences of my life seem to come upon me suddenly. We tend to want the expected to occur, but we should always be prepared, at least emotionally, for the unexpected.

Fear is an emotion and not necessarily a reality.

Someone actually defined fear as a felt reaction to a perceived danger. We innately have the ability to respond quickly to danger. Sometimes we can feel that a situation is going to be scary before it actually is. Our reaction to that sense of fear often determines how well we handle the situation.

We must keep ourselves from allowing negative scenarios to build in our mind. People often take a fear and begin to build scenarios in their mind of what might, could, or is going to happen. Most often these scenarios are irrational. When the emotion of fear begins we must analyze its rationality and if it is based on an unknown occurrence we must dismiss it as strictly emotion and not reality.

Sometimes we must face our fears in order to receive victory over them.

We can’t allow fear to alter God’s plans for our life or steal our joy. We should not be too surprised if in our weakness and fear God encourages us to be strong. When Elijah was hiding out from Jezebel because he was terrified, God sent him back to face her again. (1 Kings 19) Elijah had to go back before he could go forward. God will often allow us to face our fears as well.

Ask yourself two questions:

1. What fear do you need to face before you can get on with your life?

2. Is fear holding you back from moving forward in some area of your life?

There are two consistent themes in the Bible. We are to walk by faith and we are not to be afraid. I think those two themes are related to each other. It takes doing the first to accomplish the second.

God has a plan even when our fear tells us that He doesn’t.

Since fears are an emotional response and emotions are not always reliable, fears will often cause people to lose their trust and dependence on God. At the same time, God will often use fear to draw people to Him. Most people grow best when they are being stretched by life. God often uses faith-stretching events; times when people are most afraid, to grow and mature His people. One time Jesus made His disciples get into the boat, even though He probably knew as the Creator that a storm was approaching. Faith must tell us that God’s plan is secure, even when our fear says otherwise.

Grow more in love with God.

Perhaps the greatest secret to overcoming fear in the Bible is found in 1 John 4:18, which says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” Perfect love casts out fear. If ever a person could perfectly know the love of God he would never have to be afraid again. Whenever we run from the challenges of life, God has to wonder why. He must wonder “Am I not enough? Do you think this is too big for me?” As we grow in our love for and our trust in God we will be better able to live our lives in a confident assurance that God is in full control.

To continue to mature as believers we must be working to rid our life of the fear that keeps us from completely following and trusting in God.

5 Reasons I Use Twitter

I have seen lots of blog posts about the reason to Twitter.  I decided to give my top reasons also.  Besides the desire to be on top of the latest trends, these are my main reasons to Twitter:


1.      Networking.  I have met so many cool people who are interested in the same things I am on Twitter.  When I choose to follow someone I also check out their blog if they have one.  I’ve found great blogs this way.

2.      Idea Generating.  Most of the news stories I’ve followed lately generated first on Twitter. Twitter seems to be the current quickest way breaking news stories or stories of great interest enter the world.  Twitter was an awesome way to keep up with the presidential election.  Both candidate’s campaigns Twittered.

3.      Mind Dump.  I’m an introvert. For you extraverts, that doesn’t mean I don’t have thoughts.  I have lots of them. I just generally don’t voice them if you are always talking.  Twitter allows me to say what’s on my mind in a way that is comfortable for my personality without feeling like I’m interupting someone.

4.      Rest my thoughts.  I’m programmed and purposefully keep my mind continuously moving.  Twitter provides me a good breaking point in my thought process that helps me stay fresh with what I’m working on at the time. 

5.      Kingdom building.  I’ve done Internet ministry for over 15 years now.  (  Twitter is another avenue to expand my ministry.  It is one of the leading ways people find my blog.  If I’m putting stuff there that I think is valuable, why would I not take advantage of an opportunity like Twitter to market it more? 


Feel free to follow me on Twitter here.  If you are not currently using Twitter, then what are you waiting for?


Why do you use Twitter?

Respect for the Office of President (Welcome Mr. President)

Today we elect a new president.  Will your man be selected?  What if he’s not?


One of the disappointments to me in current culture is the disregard we have for the office of presidency.  I realize President George W. Bush is experiencing historic low approval ratings, but he is still the Commander-in-Chief.  Regardless of our agreement or disagreement with the person in office, as believers I think we have an obligation to respect the office and the office holder.  That goes for John McCain or Barrack Obama.  Tomorrow it will either be President McCain or President Obama. 


Romans 13 is clear that our responsibility is to submit to authorities.  This doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything they do or even work to change their policies.  It certainly doesn’t mean we have to reelect them in four years.  It does mean that we are to show them respect as we criticize them and as we disagree, because they are the elected leader of our nation. 


My best example of this is in my own family.  My boys may not always agree with me.  I am certainly not always respectable.  They are expected, because of my position, to always respect me.  They don’t have to agree with me.  As they become adults they may not even have to obey me, but my position as their father should garner their respect.  (I hope they are reading!)

Adoption Seminar in Clarksville, TN

One of the most frequent struggles Cheryl and I have encountered in ministry is infertility.  It’s a common, yet hidden pain in the church. Combine that with the fact that thousands of children are orphaned and need someone to love them unconditionally and you have a perfect recipe for one of those “I’ll never understand” things that God will have to explain to me someday. 


A solution that has worked for many is ADOPTION.  Grace Community Church in Clarksville has a free Adoption Seminar on Saturday, November 15, 2008 from 9 AM to 12 PM.  The seminar will provide valuable information for people considering and wanting to adopt.  We will be giving professional information about domestic (independent and agency adoption), international adoption and foster care, as well as, sharing personal stories and experiences. 


For more information or to register go to: