Catalyst Video with Darren Whitehead

I love this video with LV Hanson and Darren Whitehead from Willow Creek. I want my boys to watch this.  You should too.  I think he’s onto something here.

Thanks to Brad Lomenick for pointing me to this and giving me permission to post it here.

Catalyst Voices – Darren Whitehead from Catalyst on Vimeo.

Should I Even Bother To Come Home?

n678929877_43Cheryl and I are in Lithuania this week.  Read that story HERE.  We plan to update more later.

Nate and I were commenting back and forth on Facebook.  I told him I was getting up early here in Lithuania, because it is daylight from about 4 AM to 11:30 PM.  Here was his comment back:

“i’ve been up a while too.. since about 1 PM. I have to wake up early tomorrow though so I should probably go to bed soon.. I’m working on some new music stuff. The house is still in one piece… except for the giant hole in the garage door from where I forgot to raise it before backing the mower out.. thankfully the mower is more powerful than the garage door. It was about time we replaced that ole thing anyway… also the yard looks good. A couple of the neighbors stopped by to compliment how good it looked.. a few others stopped by when I wasn’t here so they left notes about it. Also the kitchen was smelling a little funny so I sprayed this stuff in there, but it turns out it was for wood services only and now the kitchen floor is really slick. Hopefully it will get better before you get back. I called the wooden floor guy to come over and fix it.. so it should be fine.. also Paw Paw has a Yugoslavian Pride hat for you.. I told him you were in Lithuania but he didn’t listen.. see ya!”

Should I be worried?  Should we bother to come home?

PS.  I love my boys!

Differences in men and women (Typical email home)

Cheryl and I are in Lithuania.  Read other posts on this blog.  Cheryl and I differ on what an email home should look like.

Typical email home from me:

Hey guys, made it fine. Love to all.

One paragraph from a typical 12 paragraph email home from Cheryl:

The bathroom where we are staying is small, but comfortable.  We have plenty of hot water, which makes it nice.  There is not a lot of shelf space around the sink, but Ron and I have managed to each find a place for our toothbrushes.  Ron will put his on the small shelf above the sink and I will place mine on the small shelf at sink level.  The tile in the bathroom is white and red squares and is quite pretty, but doesn’t really match the rest of the décor in the room.  There is a towel warmer in the bathroom, which we have never seen before, but I am afraid to keep towels on it very long.  It does make the towels nice and warm though when we step out of the shower.

Which email would you rather receive?

God made us different for a reason.  It is just one more reason to celebrate the mystery of marriage.  (Ephesians 5:32)

I Am Glad To Be In A Man’s Man Kind of Church

snake e-mailOne of my good friends is a man’s-man kind of guy. My friend’s name is Dirt and the name says a lot about this guy. He is a professional hunter and fisherman. He actually owns an International shooting supply company, has led professional hunting and fishing expeditions around the world and has a well known hunting show on several cable stations. (If he were a Bible character he would be a Jacob or a Peter.)

What impresses me with a guy like Dirt is that in addition to being a tough guy, he loves his wife, his two daughters and his grandchildren. Cheryl and I have traveled on the mission field with Dirt and Connie King, and underneath that rough exterior, that frankly would intimidate me if I didn’t know him, is the heart of a great guy who would do anything he could to help someone in need. Whenever he is not traveling with his television show he is sitting in church and is one of my biggest encouragers every week he is there.

I like that kind of guy. We see it in our brave soldiers who fearlessly defend our nation. We see it in the dozens of hunters and fishermen in our church. We see it in the football and baseball players and coaches. We see it in the guy who works an office job fighting his way through the corporate world or the factory worker who sweats 8 hours a day to feed his family. One thing I am so thankful for at Grace Community Church is that we have attracted a lot of men’s men who are tough outside, but inside they have tender hearts for God and their families. I love when a man leads his family to church. Of course, I am thankful for all our ladies who come even when their husbands don’t, but when  man leads the way his family will almost always follow.

I hope we are always that kind of church. Happy Father’s Day!

President Obama’s Father’s Day Challenge

kailuabeach3I love the president’s words about fathering.  Politics aside I have said a number of times on this blog that I admire the president’s commitment to family.  He has “date nights” with his wife.  He goes to his children’s parent-teacher conferences.  He sets aside time just for them.

I love his father’s day appeal to fathers also.  It’s a great standard for which all fathers should strive.  His encouragement: To be a better father than you had.  You can read the complete story HERE. All of us can make small steps of improvement, maybe even large steps, but the key is that we try to improve from generation to generation.  I have told my boys many times that I hope they improve upon what I have done as a father.  My father brightened my day recently by telling me he is thankful for the father I have tried to be.

Fathers, are you trying to improve your parenting everyday?   Do you want to be a better father than the example you had?  That’s how we will improve the generations to come!

A Dozen Things That Encourage Me (Plus One)


Here’s a random post that came to me this morning. I was thinking about some of the things that encourage me in life.




Things such as:

  • The reminder of God’s love
  • Cheryl’s smile
  • Time with my boys
  • A baby’s giggle
  • A Bible verse
  • A big dream
  • A kind word from a friend
  • A special memory
  • A thank you email
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • An answered prayer
  • The awareness of God’s presence
  • The love/innocence of a child

What would you add to this list?  What encourages you?

Great Things Often Come In Small Packages

1187603_98883611Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Psalm 117

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117. I have often wondered what was going through the Psalmist’s mind when he recorded his thoughts for this Psalm.  Was he finished?  Did he get interrupted?  Was there something else he wanted to say?  Was he satisfied with his work?  (Obviously God was.)  This shortest chapter has huge meaning.  If we were to memorize just these two verses and implement them in our life, I think it may make a difference in our perspective on the world and the situations in which we find ourselves.

We often think that for something to be grand it must be huge, but that is not the complete definition of the word grand. (For a definition look HERE.)  Shortest or smallest does not always indicate lack of importance.  Many times it is the smallest detail that determines success or failure with a project.  The shortest moments of time can often cause the greatest and the most horrific life changes.  In my life the shortest words of encouragement have often had the biggest impact.

Are you concerning yourself with the small things that matter most?

I Danced At Church Yesterday

I danced at church yesterday.  I did not dance alone, Cheryl danced with me, but I did dance. Several people indicated they would never believe it until they saw it, so here is the proof.

We are in the middle of a family series and I was talking yesterday about marriage and specifically the need to commit ourselves to making marriage work.  My co-pastor Chad and his wife sang while Cheryl and I danced.  It was a visual picture of the leadership of the church admitting that marriage is tough, but our commitment to make it work is what can make a marriage strong.

You would have to listen to the whole message for it to make complete sense. You can do that HERE.  I also share a few tips to protect your marriage in this message.  For other thoughts on marriage, check out that category of this blog HERE.

I am thankful for a church that allows us freedom to express Biblical truth in creative ways.  What a joy to pastor at Grace Community Church.

What plan do you have to protect your marriage?

The Things You Do For Love

DSCF7001Today was my long mow day.  I have to mow my lawn at least once a week, but about once every three or four weeks I have to get my push mower out and mow places I cannot get to with my riding mower.  One of these places is under the Magnolia tree in my back yard.  This is Cheryl’s favorite tree in the whole world, but it is the tree that may one day cause me to lose my Christianity.  We have been told it may be the largest and one of the oldest Magnolia trees in the city.  I think that means it has lived a good life and it is time to let it go. She thinks that means it is even more special.  Cheryl does not want me cutting any branches on it and it is almost impossible get under to mow, even with my push mower.

As I was mowing today, here are the random thoughts that were going through my mind:

  • I hate this tree.
  • Cheryl takes less time to enjoy this tree than the time it takes me to hate this tree.
  • One time Nathaniel wanted to take a branch from our state tree to school for extra credit. I sent one of these branches. The problem was that our state tree is the Tulip Poplar and this tree is a Magnolia.  Oh well, he didn’t get extra credit, but I did get rid of a branch.
  • If I die early it will most likely be as the result of trying to mow under this tree.
  • If we cut this tree down I could plant a garden.  Cheryl loves fresh tomatoes.
  • I keep obeying Cheryl’s wishes by not cutting this tree.  It seems to me another man once listened to his wife about a tree…let’s see, it was in a garden…and it seems to me the world was never the same again.  Just saying…
  • We have neighbor girls who sometimes like to climb this tree.  Someday they could get hurt. Cheryl hates to see anyone suffer.  Just saying…
  • Magnolia trees are not even that pretty and their flowers have no smell.  Just saying…
  • WARNING: If our youth group ever decides to do another prank at the pastor’s house it would not be a good idea to cut down this tree as a joke.  It would not be funny.  Yes, we are Grace Community Church, so we would forgive you, and I would most likely pay to clean it up, and it would be an impressive prank, but please do not cut down our Magnolia tree.  It would not be funny…but just so you know…we would forgive you.  If you choose to do this in spite of my warning, just remember I told you it would not be funny.
  • I keep mowing under this tree, even though I hate this ugly Magnolia tree, because I want nothing more than for Cheryl to be happy.  If I die trying to please her it will be a worthy sacrifice.  Just saying…

Thanks for sharing my random thoughts with me.  Do you have any situations like this in your marriage, where you do something you do not like to do just because you love the person who wants it done?

Thoughts on Pastor Gary Lamb

(And addendum to this post has been added since the original.  For more click HERE.)

I am so bummed tonight to have heard the news about Pastor Gary Lamb of Revolution Church in Georgia.  I do not know Gary personally, only through Facebook, Twitter and his blog.  I would never be one to put more burdens on a man already so broken, but I cannot get some thoughts off my mind tonight and my blog is one way I express myself.  Since he addressed this in a very public way through his own blog (Read the account HERE), I thought I would share some of the things racing through my head.  They may be good for all of us to consider.

  • I started reading Brennan Manning’s “The Furious Longing of God” today before I heard this news.  On the first page of Manning’s writing he quotes Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me”.  The book is called “A love story for the brokenhearted”.  I think Gary needs this book. I do too!
  • Gary, his family and his church, along with the other woman and her family, need our prayers at this time.  Satan is smiling on this one, but Satan is a liar and a loser.  God can and will have the final word.  Let us pray He has His way in this situation for all parties concerned.
  • Whenever a pastor falls, those outside the church have another excuse to push away from truth.  Some of this comes from the way the church treats its own.  Now is not the time for judgment, now is the time for grace to abound.
  • People are going to begin dismissing everything Gary has said or will say because of this failure.  Please don’t be one of those. His failure does not diminish any truth he spoke prior to today. If anything it makes the truth he spoke even more real.  The fact is that Gary is not a perfect man.  We knew that before we knew the news of the day. If God used him to make a difference in your life or others, be thankful God uses broken people, like you and me.
  • The failure of Gary did not begin with an affair with his assistant.  Somewhere, sometime, Gary let his guard down.  We must all work harder to make sure the proper boundaries are in our life.  I have too many pastor friends who see nothing wrong with meeting with female staff members alone.  You must NEVER, EVER, EVER do this.  NEVER!  Please pastors and other leaders, build accountability and boundaries into your life now, before it is too late.  IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!
  • Many pastors I know need marriage counseling, but they are too proud or too afraid of what their church would think to get it. I hope this news encourages some to take that bold step.

I make this offer to pastors, I am a pastor and a former degreed Christian counselor, if I can help you talk through issues like this, if you are on a limb and need a confidential, non-judgmental friend, feel free to email me at