March 28, 2009

Visit to the past puts me back on track

Sorry for not posting earlier this week.  With the death of my grandmother and a 3 day trip to North Carolina for the funeral services, I decided that my blogging could take a back seat to being with family.  God was good to me and allowed for me to have some quality time with my mom, dad, and brother in the midst of our loss.  I also reconnected with 3 important people in my life, 2 in person, and 1 over the phone.  

I was able to reconnect to one of my best friends in high school, Keith Anderson.  We have kept up with each other over the years, mostly through our moms. In fact, he is a teacher at our old high school.  Talk about eery feelings, walking through those old hall ways took me back a lifetime.  Keith and I could only talk short time, but after all these years, we were able to look at each other and "truly" hear the other, remember our past hopes and dreams, and connect them to what God is doing in each of us today.   Having someone who can "truly" hear you and visa versa, is rare in this world today, but this was to be the norm for me on this trip.  

Earlier, on my way to NC, I got a call from Sandy Bennett, who was instrumental in guiding me in my first part-time (soon to turn full-time) ministry appointment.  It was during this call that we reconnected and reminded each other what great work that God had begun in each of us, God was sure to finish.  We encouraged each other to remain focused on doing what God had told us to do and not to deviate from that until God said different... no mater what.

Finally, the last important person I reconnected with during this trip was with my best friend (other than my wife Jodi) in college, Gina Guilliams (previously Gina Miller Keller).  We got caught up after I tracked her down after stopping for gas on the way back to Georgia (got low on fuel, pulled over for gas, she came to my mine, and BOOM, through the technology of Blackberry, Facebook, and my old electronic address book I was able to contact her in the time it took to fill up with gas) .  We also shared about our lives since we had last spoken (many years ago), and God's hand allowed us to hear, encourage, and celebrate what God had done and was doing in each of our lives, with the promise to each other that we would not let distance nor time keep us from saying connected in the future.  

On this trip I met some others who were very formative in my life... my old sunday school teacher, Midgie Dial, and our good family friends, Tommy & Doris Davidson, who all shared fond memories with me of our past, and reminded me that God's hand of guidance on my life has been there for many years.

I tell you all this because in each conversation with these people from various times in my life, I heard confirmation of God's speaking upon my life.  I looked into peoples faces, listened to their words, felt the emotion in their voices, as one after the other who I met on this journey, reminded me of 1) whose I am 2) and whom I serve.

It's easy to get off track in life today, caught up in the "stuff" of the world and then loose focus on what we should be doing, losing focus on God's Purpose for our life.  Sometimes a trip back home and reconnecting with loved ones who we haven't seen in a while is just the thing God is preparing for us to help us GET BACK ON TRACK...

In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:4 , Jesus Says, 
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

I came home mourning....I return back to my wife and children in Georgia comforted, confirmed, and committed to God's Purpose for my life... Let's do life together!

March 19, 2009

What would you do?

Yesterday I sent a text out to some of my friends that I was in the Georgia Southern University Library working on my sermon.  The funny thing is that my friends were mostly GSU students who were somewhere on "SPRING BREAK 09".  I told them that later on that evening I was going to Walmart to hand out some literature about LifeSpring Church and invite random people to come to our worship service this Sunday (more info on this at  I asked my friends to tell me where they were and what they were doing.

In came the text telling me things from "I'm on the beach", "I'm at Lake Blackshear", "I'm finishing up my work to head to the beach", "I'm with my family" and so forth.  But then something strange happened.  I began to get WARNINGS from some of my friends and even got a phone call, telling me NOT TO GO TO WALMART! They said they had heard (through what ever sources they had) that there was going to be some gang activity at our Walmart including some shootings, and not to go, that it would be to dangerous.  I made some calls and had others that said they heard the same thing, and some said they didn't know anything about it.  

So, my question is, what would you do?  

Well, I went to Walmart with a friend of mine named Tracy.  I told him what I had heard and he was still ok with going.  We separated and went to each of the 2 main entrances, he at the grocery side, and I at the Garden center side.  As I began to hand out information and talk with people, I tried to be conscience of my surroundings, just making sure nothing suspicious was happening near me.  And then I noticed a couple of Statesboro police cars pull by me and part at the other end of Walmart.  A few minutes later there was two more cars, and then another, and I noticed one police car circling the parking lot.  Now my senses are HIGHTENED now.  6 police cars, DUDE, what's going on down there.  

After about 10 minutes, all the police cars pulled off an left.  I saw Tracy walking toward me and asked him had any thing happened.  He said no, but there were several managers looking at him strangely, making him feel uncomfortable for giving out our information about the church. So I walked into the store and approached the managers (4 of them) and told them who I and Tracy were and what we were doing (you know, we're a new church in Statesboro and we are handing out information about our church).  They were very polite and told me that the proper procedure was to contact the service desk and set a time to solicit, but they figured I didn't know about that.  I told them I didn't and said I wouldn't do it again without getting prior permission.  Then I showed them one of the text I had received about the potential "Gang" activity that was given me.  They said that it was a hoax.  That several times over the last couple of year that this same type thing happened in several parts of the United States today, and in fact had happened several times before with no reported incidents.  They said that people really took to heart what they heard and with the technology today, and the "false rumors" circulated faster than they could stop them.   

Now, why am I writing this. I met my wife later that night and over super she told me that she had overheard the same thing in the Belks store and the customers there were saying they weren't going near Walmart (which by the way, was only 300 yards or so from the Belks Store).  As I heard from her the fear that was in those talking about it, I thought to myself, "how many peoples actions were effected by what they 'believed' to be true"?  I mean, there were people who not only "talked" about not going to Walmart, they "warned" people, sometimes total strangers, NOT to go, and then didn't go themselves.  ALL BASED ON SOMETHING THEY HEARD AND BELIEVED TO BE TRUE, even if they had no proof. 

So, answer me this, why is it so HARD for people, (particularly FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST) to go out into this lost world and TELL and even WARN others, even total strangers, of what they BELIEVE to be true (Jesus is the the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me {Jesus}, you would know my Father as well.  John 14:6 & 7).  

I guess it all depends on whether your belief is STRONG ENOUGH TO MOVE YOU TO ACTION...

Just one of those things that make you go "HUMMMMMMM"
Peace out

REdefining "Church" Part 1

In my last post I shared that I was going to explore the book of Acts to find out what the original "Church" looked like when it first was born out of God's love, Jesus' obedience, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit... in our efforts to "re-define" what church should be like today...well let's start here...

1) Jesus taught & and gave instructions through the Holy Spirit to "those he had chosen" as well as giving "proofs" that he was alive.  Acts 1: 1-3

This reminds us that Jesus chooses his leaders 1st ... then he teaches them, gives instructions to them and shows them proofs.  If Jesus has chosen you to lead others, then HE WILL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED TO DO THAT.  STOP WORRYING. 

2) After Jesus Resurrection, Jesus appears to those he has chosen to lead, and uses a strong and bold phrase that shows his authority.   "You will" be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Acts 1:5.  "you will" receive power.... "you will" be my witness. Acts 1:8.  This phrases is again reflected in the Old Testament Prophet Joel that is quoted in Acts: 2:17-21 I "will" pour out my Spirit...Sons and daughters "will" prophsey...young men "will" see visions...old men "will" dream dreams...I "will" pour out my Spirit...They "will" prophesy...I "will" show wonders in the heaven and signs on the earth below...The sun "will" be turned to darkness...and finally, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord "will" be saved.  

These certainly are not words that lack confidence within them.  Many people in the world today speak "words" upon "words" that they can't back up.  What's that saying; "your mouth done wrote a check your butt can't cash".  In other words, we boldly talk words about what we can do, or will do, and the truth is, that we very rarely can back them up.  Jesus, on the other hand, can and does back up his words.  In fact, Jesus is the only one who can do EXACTLY what he says WHEN he says he will do it. 

This means that when Jesus says that his leaders, who he chose, who are in the process of being taught and instructed, WILL receive the power necessary to "be my witness in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth".  Acts 1: 8. THEY WILL RECEIVE IT!!!!  DONE DEAL!!!!  By the way, this verse really connects nicely with Jesus' words in Luke 24:45-49 & Matthew 28: 19 & 20.  

3) Jesus' followers, that he called, DID WHAT HE SAID.  Acts 1: 12

4) Jesus' followers, that he called, "joined together constantly in prayer"  Acts 1:14

I'm not sure what stands out most in this selection to me..."constantly in prayer" or joined together" these are two areas that all leaders of Jesus should be doing, but many times allow small things to divide them or rob them of their prayers.  These are choices that Jesus followers must MADE for themselves... and the same is true today.  We have to MAKE this same choices as we begin to "re-define" what Church is.  

More to come tomorrow... as my friend Carl Blackburn says...PEACE OUT!

March 13, 2009

Redefining "Church"

This morning as I was trying to exercise and get back into jogging shape, I was listening to Andy Stanley on my Ipod.  He was speaking on the 7 Practices of Effective Ministry.  As I listened to him explain how he thought that many churches had lost focus on reaching those in this world who do not have a personal, life changing relationship with Jesus, a thought stuck with me.  

We need to really consider "redefining" what church is.  

Now don't get all bent out of shape on that statement.  What I am saying is the Church that is written about in the book of the Bible called Acts, seems to handle life's "stuff" and "problems" differently than the church does these days.  

In fact, I believe in a sense, Jesus came back over 2000 years ago to do some "Redefining". At that time he was "Redefining" peoples understanding of the Laws of Moses and the prophets that God had given to Israel.  In fact, many times in the scriptures we see Jesus "explaining, "teaching", and "preaching" what God really meant about how to apply the Laws and expectations of God to their lives.  He didn't do away with the Laws or God's expectations, mind you, he just helped people get back on track with the original intent God had.  Jesus once said in the book of Matthew...

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 

I am going to explore the book of Acts more closely and see what I can find out about what the original " Church" looked like when if first was born out of God's love, Jesus' obedience, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit and blog my insights... stay tune...
I'm doing life together with you, 

March 12, 2009

UNLEASHED conference a success in my life

Today, I participated in a conference for church leaders called UNLEASHED, sponsored by NewSpring Church in Anderson,  South Carolina.  There were over 3500 people in attendance, and get this, over 500 volunteers serving to make this event a success.  I can't tell you how overwhelming God's Spirit was through out the day in the things that I heard, saw, felt, and was a part of.  

I have much to blog about over the next several days, and look forward to sharing with you after I "Digest" what I have received from God through UNLEASHED.  But before I "lay me down to sleep..."   I wanted to let you see a quote from the conference that is "sounding in my head" and "ringing in my heart"... "When a pastor gets fire INSIDE of him...then fire will come OUT of Him!"  I'm praying for Jesus to continually set me on fire for his service... would you do that for me as well?  Thanks, I needed that! 

I also had a friend of mine who said he was going to help me be a better blogger by personally teaching me some things that will improve this blogging site as well as helping me to understand blogging in more detail...THANKS JOSH.  

I look forward to a good night sleep and my prayers are already going out to my college friends who are heading to spring break... You are not alone... 

March 4, 2009


Today I am sitting in Zaxby's reflecting on the awesome worship service we had Sunday at the Launch of LifeSpring.  Even though it was "tough" weather, to say the least (High winds, side ways rain, the potential of snow), we still had over 130 people brave the elements to be a part of this historic 1st weekly service of LifeSpring.
As I think about the future of LifeSpring and the hope we have of increasing God's kingdom, I wonder how we will get others to visit LifeSpring and try it on for size.  Then I remembered the story of Jesus' disciple named Nathanael and how he first encountered Jesus.

It's found in John 1:43-53.
In this story, Jesus, on his way to Galilee, meets Philip (who is from Bethsaida, like the brothers Andrew and Peter, who Jesus had already called to follow him) and says to him, "Follow Me".  Now there is no recorded verbal response from Philip to Jesus.  Not a "yes", or a "no", not even a "well, let me get back to you on that".  There is only a description of what Philip did next.  Now, this doesn't mean that Philip didn't respond verbally to Jesus, it only means that the scriptures record his reaction (or action) to Jesus rather than his verbal response. 
The Bible tells us that the next thing Philip does is to leave Jesus and he goes to look for and find Nathanael, (whom we suppose is a friend of Philips).  After Philip finds Nathanael, he tells him that they have "found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote... Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph."  Here it sounds to me like Philip and Nathanael (and probably some others) had already been talking about "the one" that both Moses and the prophets had written about, in some earlier conversation.  You know, like talking at work while they're fishing, or during their break time, or while they were at the grocery store, or talking about "the one" some place or another.
The point is that Philip knew that Nathanael was ALSO SEARCHING... and when he found what they both were looking for (or at least talking about in earlier conversations) he didn't jump UP AND GO with Jesus when he was asked to "Follow Me".  Rather, Philip cared enough to GO AND FIND NATHANAEL, WHERE HE WAS, AND TELL HIM WHAT HE HAD FOUND!
Nathanael seems like he was a little skeptical when he hears what Philip tells him, to say the least.  Upon hearing this great news about "the one" they had talked about and were searching for was found, he POPS OFF with a smart aleck reply..."Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"
Now, if I were Philip, I might have up and turned away thinking to myself, "so that's the gratitude you show me, after I come all this way up here to tell you about something this important... humph, I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy if I would have stayed where I was with Jesus and not have made the walk up here to find you in the first place.  Heck, Jesus and I might have already have made it to Galilee by now, dude". 
But that is not how Philip handled the situation.  Nope, Philip responds to Nathanael with three small but powerful words... "COME AND SEE".
Notice he didn't say, "Well, go and see for yourself."  This is important for the simple reason that the word "COME" infers that Philip will go with him to meet Jesus.  Nathanael will have the opportunity to see Jesus, but he won't have to go alone.  Philip is letting him know that ... "Hey friend of mine.  You might have a skeptical view of this thing I have told you about, but you know what?  I'll go with you.  You don't have to go alone.  THEN when WE get there together, you can see for yourself".
  I am convinced that the only way LifeSpring will reach more people in this community is when the Philips of this world (or in our case, the people who have already experienced Jesus at LifeSpring) begin to say those three words to their friends "COME AND SEE", and then take Action!
I mean, the people of the church need to get up off their bottoms, stop waiting on God to do their work for them, and start doing it themselves; by going and inviting, or picking up and bringing, or by meeting them in the parking lot and walking with their friends (WHO ARE SEARCHING FOR THE ONE THING THAT CAN SET THEM FREE) through the doors of the church so they don't feel all alone.
Let me close my thoughts on this note....
The other day I had lost my voice completely, barely able to whisper.  I went to see our high school girls play in the state basketball playoffs.  My throat was killing me and I just wanted some chewing gum to help keep my throat moist (which made it hurt less).  I went to the concession stand at one end of the college gym to get some gum.  I whispered to the girl that I couldn't talk well, because of my dry throat, and needed some gum.  She said that they didn't have any for sell, but that she had some of her own gum in her purse.
She said, "why don't you come with me and I'll get it for you"... So, I thanked her and followed her from one end of the gym all the way to the other end (a good 3-5 min. walk from where her work station was) and into a back room where she disappeared and came back with not one stick of gum, but TWO.  She said, "here's one piece of gum for now and you might need this other piece for later before you get home".  I whispered, "thank-your so much" and though to myself.
THIS IS WHAT THE CHURCH SHOULD LOOK LIKE IN ACTION... 1) leading friends or strangers to what they need; 2) going with them the whole way; 3) putting aside the inconveniences that it cost them personally; and 4) then giving people MORE THAN THEY EXPECTED...
That's the way the followers of Jesus Christ would have done it, and that's the way LifeSpring is going to do it!


The Preacherman