Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Bothers Me About SoHills...

I’m biased.

I love the church at SoHills. And yet, there is something that bothers me.

Let me take you back a few Sundays and see if I can explain. It was Sunday, December 20, and we were at the Civic Center for our Community Christmas Celebration
. The singing was incredible. Phil’s message was powerful. The gift presentation of "Welcome" mats to our Habitat family was touching.

As I walked out of the Civic Center that morning I heard wonderfully encouraging comments and some powerful stories about what God is doing in the lives of our SoHills church family and the lives of our friends.

And then it happened.

As I drove away from the Civic Center on that Sunday so excited about the day, I saw this:

I saw our city... Abilene. And I was reminded of a sobering truth. As excited as I was over what had happened that Sunday, MOST of Abilene had no clue. MOST of Abilene was still no closer to a growing relationship with Jesus than when the day began.

This bothered me. It bothered me so much that I've spent the last couple of weeks with a gnawing feeling in my gut. But as the days progressed and a New Year draws near, I thought,
I shouldn’t keep this quiet. I want this to bother you too.

It bothers me that there are still more unchurched people than ever before living less than a mile from the front door of the SoHills church building. This has bothered me so much that I have spent a lot of time thinking about what to do. And I think I have an idea that might be worth exploring. Granted, it’s not the most original or creative idea, but it actually might be the best one to pursue... at least at first. Okay, here it is:

I want us as a church to begin 2010 with prayer and fasting. Now, before you mutter, click and leave this page... stay with me for a moment.

It’s my experience that, generally speaking, many Christians aren’t investing in unbelievers. If we’re not careful, we will drift into holy huddles of believers and isolate ourselves. Maybe we just don’t know how to bridge the gap and begin a conversation about Jesus. So we immerse ourselves in our daily lives and soon we aren’t spending time with anyone who isn’t already a follower of Jesus. I just don’t want us to drift into that danger zone. After all, one of the reasons SoHills church exists is as a resource for you to use to reach those who are far from God.

The good news is that our church continues to grow. The bad news is that the number of the unchurched in Abilene is growing faster. This bothers me.

But what if that trend could change in 2010? What if each of us prayed and developed a Kingdom of God ache for at least one person in our circles of influence? What if we prayed and fasted, becoming more passionate for our community to know Jesus than ever before? What might happen?

Frankly, I don’t know what would happen. But I do know that I would like to find out.

Okay, that’s all. Thanks for listening. But until our city hears the great news about Jesus, and sees it lived out in us, I will remain bothered.

I hope you will too.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Best-Ever Present...

What was your all-time, favorite, best-ever Christmas present? I'm recalling that for me it was the Christmas I got a new bike. There was quite a bit of snow outside, but I remember that my brother and I put our coats and boots on (over our pajamas) and went riding our new bikes around the neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What If Target Operated Like a Church...

I found this recent post by Tony Morgan to be both funny and insightful.

What if Target operated like a church?

- Instead of having men’s and women’s clothing departments, they would be called clever names like Impact and Embrace that are completely meaningless to new shoppers.

- Each department in the store would have its own logo to go with their clever name. And, of course, all those logos would be different than the logo on the front of the store.

- The workers in each department would all have their own t-shirts and flyers to promote what’s available in their departments. The youth clothing department would, of course, have the best flyers.

- You wouldn’t actually be able to buy anything from the website, but each department would have its own page explaining why they are such a great department and the the information would be several months out-of-date.

- If you are in the shoe department and have a question about flashlights, the shoe department employee has no idea how to help you because it doesn’t have anything to do with shoes.

- Shoppers would be able to start their own departments so that they can buy the items that they want to buy. Don’t worry… that means there will certainly be a clothing department for singles.

- Shoppers would also be able to appoint their own store managers and then serve on committees to tell the store managers what to do.

- The store would only be open one day a week between 9:00 a.m. and noon and on the first Wednesday evening of every month.

Hope this makes you laugh. And, maybe it also challenges some preconceived notions. After all, churches are sort of notorious for worshiping methods and traditions whether or not they actually produce results.

What would you add to the list?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hand of God...

I think Michelangelo would be pleased...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Special Party...

Susan and I had two Christmas parties to attend last night. Both parties were delightful, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at each. But we had one more party to attend last night... an 18th birthday party.

The birthday party was for Monique (that's her on the left in the picture above). Susan and I have gotten to know Monique at our local Subway... she makes our sandwiches. We found out a couple of weeks ago that Monique had a birthday coming up soon--her 18th. Monique also let us know, with no display of personal pity, that she hadn't had a birthday party or birthday cake since she was 6 years old. Suffice it to say Monique has had a rough life.

My sweet wife decided then and there that we would have an 18th birthday party, with cake, for Monique. And we did. Last night, just before closing... and with no one else in the store but her kind manager, Stacie, we sung "Happy Birthday!" to Monique and presented her with a cake that had her name written across it in big red frosting letters.

Monique was smiling as we left the store. It was a holy night.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Conwell's Merry Christmas Card...

Here's the 2009 Conwell Christmas card... designed by my most talented eldest daughter, Katie Lea. (I'm the one in the orange Cons.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Powerful Prayer...

I recently came across the following prayer by Charles de Foucauld. These words spoke deeply to my heart. I have commited to pray this prayer at least once a week.

Deliver me, Jesus from the desire to be praised,

honored, glorified, preferred, consulted, or approved.

Deliver me, Jesus, from the fear of being humiliated,

criticized, forgotten, ridiculed, maltreated, and

from the fear of what others will think.

O Jesus, give me the grace to desire: that others

would be loved and esteemed ahead of me,

that in the eyes of the world they would increase

while I decrease, and praised while I pass by

unnoticed; that others would be preferred in

all situations; that others would become more

than myself — in order that I would be as holy

as You want me to be. — Charles de Foucauld

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Muppets Cover Queen...

Here's an interesting video in which the Muppets offer up their rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Sometime true greatness is hard to watch.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Your Work Space...

What does your work space in your home, office or studio look like? And how does your work space reflect your personality... and contribute to your creativity?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Church Math...

Tony Morgan's recent post on "church math" got my attention. I'm not a math major, but my experience in church-world validates Tony's equations.

more meetings = less ministry

unclear vision = packed ministry calendar

packed ministry calendar = volunteer burnout

more announcements = less ministry engagement

more ministries = more announcements

fewer people inviting friends = smaller crowds

lack of added value = fewer people inviting friends

fewer constraints = less creativity

same methods = same results

The Right People...

I found Craig Groeschel's recent post to be insightful reading as to the "right people" from whom to gain constructive feedback.

Asking the right questions is helpful to gaining valuable feedback. It's also important to direct the right questions to the right people.

When it comes to feedback, not all people are equal. Two groups that shouldn't always be trusted include:

- Your greatest critics.

- Your greatest fans.

These groups shouldn't be ignored. You can occasionally learn a lot from your critics or your fans. But, generally speaking, your critics will be harder on you without understanding your full context and your fans will overlook ways to help you improve.

If you are a church leader or a leader in another context, you might be more challenged than you realize to find the right people. When I ask for feedback from my staff (or even church members), they might be slightly intimidated and hesitate to tell me the truth.

Developing a trusted group that can be objective is invaluable.

I've searched for constructive feedback from hundreds of people over the years, and have found a group of individuals who understand the importance of truthful and helpful feedback.

These people weren't necessarily born with this gift. We have actually developed a relationship and trust that draws out feedback. They see it as a part of their ministry and I see it as a helpful gift.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I've spent the past few days wrestling with God over a number of questions that dead-end me at "Why...?"

In the midst of my struggle, I came across this quote: "Mystery i
s not the absence of meaning, but the presence of more meaning than we can comprehend." - Dennis Covington, Salvation On Sand Mountain.

Monday, November 30, 2009


You know those times that come into every life when you ask yourself, "Why did I ever start down this road?!" Well, this guy is having one of those moments.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Am Thankful...

I am thankful...

For the love of my life, Susan
For my precious daughters, Katie Lea and Caroline
For my "adopted" son, Serge
For friends and extended family
For the grace and love that God shows me every moment of every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shopping Advice...

The biggest shopping day of the year is Friday. Tripp and Tyler have some great "Black Friday" shopping advice for us in this video.

I'm ready to go shopping!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Fell Off A Pole...

I fell off a pole recently. To be exact, I fell off the same pole three times.

The pole was a 40-foot telephone pole, and it was an "element" on a ropes challenge course that several of my SoHills' ministry team mates and I took part in recently. In the spirit of full disclosure I should indicate that during my entire time on the pole I was wearing a safety harness... which was in turn firmly attached to a belay rope. All that's to say I was in no real danger of plunging head-first to the ground. However, even when one is firmly attached to a safety rope ones' brain does not typically applaud/support/endorse climbing to the top of a tall pole in order to stand on top of it.

Which gets me back to my three falls. I had made it without incident to the top of the pole, and was making a slow turn to my right... when my brain overpowered the rest of my body and sent me reeling off the pole. At that moment my brain had seized the upper hand. Not only was it telling my body we shouldn't be doing this crazy thing... my brain was broadcasting on all channels: You can't do this!

Thus, as I attempted to reposition myself at the top of the pole I found it immensely harder to achieve my original stance, since my brain was doing a terrific job of telling my arms, legs and torso: This is impossible!

Which produced in short order two more falls from the pole... bringing my grand total to three.

I will say this about me... I am one stubborn guy. My conversation with myself on the pole was going something like this:

"Okay, you've done the pole before. It's just not happening today. Let's call it quits and climb down and try again some other time."

"No way! I'm not getting down off this pole until I have successfully completed the task."

"Well... tell that to your arms which are growing more fatigued by the minute. And if you haven't noticed, your right leg is starting to cramp."

"There is no way I'm getting down until I've done this!"

I could bore you with more of my mental chatter... but suffice it to say that I re-focused, climbed to the top of the pole and leaped off (which is how one concludes this element).

Lessons learned (some for the 189,786th time):

1) If you don't think you can't do something, you most likely won't be able to do it.

2) Perseverance is hard, and maybe crazy at times... but falling is a part of life, so getting back on must be a part of life as well.

3) God has put some interesting "wiring" in me (as He has you). I'm not always certain His wiring of me is the issue... or my stubborn, at times un-submitted, will.

4) It's easy to quit. It's harder to stay with something. Godly wisdom is knowing when it's time to bag it... and when you need to suck it up and stick with it.

5) I am one stubborn guy (but I already told you that).

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Top 10 Meeting Personalities...

The following post comes from Jacqueline Yeaney, the Chief Marketing Officer of Premiere Global Services, and someone who has obviously sat through a lot of meetings. See if you recognize any of the personalities she describes based on meetings you've attended.

1) The Multitasker:
All of us are guilty of multitasking during a meeting. Some of us are better at it than others. When asked a question, the Multitasker frequently responds with, "Sorry, I missed that. Could you repeat that?" The Multitasker can be harder to engage online or over the phone than in person. It's important to keep this personality engaged and call on them often. Keeping them on their toes may decrease the amount of time they spend multitasking.

The Mobile Meeter: The Mobile Meeter thinks nothing of conducting or attending meetings in the airport lounge or in the carpool line. Two keys to a successful Mobile Meeter: 1) having conference details handy in an Outlook Calendar so they can quick-dial into a meeting and 2) having a clear understanding of how to self-mute background noise.

The Disrupter: Changing the topic or taking people down a side street, the Disrupter can sometimes uncover new thinking or creative ideas. But the Disrupter can also blow up an agenda and make other meeting participants irritable and cranky. You'll know the Disrupter as they often end a sentence with " ... but I digress."

The Overbooked: Doesn't know how to say no to a meeting invite so they attend them all. And are late to them all! The Overbooked generally greets team gatherings with "Sorry, I had a meeting that ran late ... "

The Interrupter: When a good idea comes to mind, the Interrupter can't wait to present it to the group. And does ... right at that moment! This personality is not inherently bad because hey, it is a GOOD idea. But have caution: combining the Interrupter with distant relatives the Disrupter(#3) and the Long-Winded can create meeting anarchy.

The Socializer: Always prompt, always interested in where you live, how many children you have and what the weather is like in your town. This individual is a great asset most of the time, because the Socializer establishes rapport among participants and is willing to connect and collaborate. But beware: you may have to politely decline an invitation to view pics from the Socializer's Halloween party.

The Maestro: Consummate professional, never starts a meeting without establishing a clear agenda and proper perspective. At the end of a meeting clearly recaps the discussion, outlines next steps and identifies action items. Even when the Maestro isn't running a meeting, their organizational command shines through. The Maestro's smooth skills can often help manage the Disrupter (see #3).

The Timekeeper: No matter what is happening in a meeting, the Timekeeper is aware that someone "has a hard stop" and tries to motivate the team to complete the meeting at the predicted close. The Timekeeper doesn't always blend well with habitual late-comers like the Overbooked.

The Snacker: Can you hear the Snacker crunching over the phone? Kudos to the person who will work through lunch, but mind your table manners, please! And for those noisy phone eaters, learning about mute features is a requirement.

The Social Networker: (not to be confused with the Socializer, #6 above)--The days of meeting notes are changing. Many professionals are Tweeting or Facebooking live from a meeting. Note to self: bad form to tell your social network that a meeting sucks, especially if you have befriended the meeting host!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stories Are Powerful...

There's no denying the power of a great story.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Awkward Photo...

Ouch! I'm afraid someone is getting broken-up with tonight after prom.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Among The Flock...

Margaret Feinberg is the author of Scouting The Divine: My Search For God In Wine, Wool & Wild Honey. I heard Margaret interviewed at the Catalyst Conference as she described her experiences alongside Lynne, a shepherdess, which she details in her book. I have since read Scouting The Divine and would highly recommend it to you. The following is a recent post by Margaret that I think you'll enjoy.

I honestly don’t know why sheep are the most common animal mentioned in Scripture, but I have a hunch that it’s no accident. Though sheep are not specifically mentioned in the account of Creation, God made these animals as a valuable source of food and clothing. Because of their usefulness, disagreements soon followed. From Abel to Abraham and Rachel to King David, we see many men and women caring for flocks. They are a normal part of life in the ancient agrarian society and often became crucial to a family’s—and even an entire village’s—survival.

Many of the prophets, including Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Nahum, and Zechariah use shepherd imagery. Even Amos, one of the most offbeat guys in the Bible, was a shepherd turned prophet. Waiting for the Messiah, the people eagerly anticipated the one who would “shepherd” Israel. This promised one was Jesus, the Son of God, the Good Shepherd.

With more than 600 references to sheep and shepherds and flocks throughout Scripture, it raises the question: Shouldn't we get to know more about these woolly creatures? The Scriptures are just so much more alive when you see these woolly creatures in their context.

Throughout my time with the shepherdess, Lynne, I was amazed by just how much sheep know their shepherd. The sheep responded to Lynne’s presence, her movements, her voice. Sheep are simply wired to know their shepherd.

Gary Burge, a Wheaton professor, tells one of the most remarkable stories that I've ever heard relating to this principle. He describes how Israeli soldiers visited a poor village outside of Bethlehem after a Palestinian uprising and demanded that the people pay the taxes they owed. They refused.

The officer in charge gathered up all the animals of the village—primarily sheep and goats—and placed them into a huge pen. A poor woman approached the officer in charge begging him to release her animals. Because the poor woman’s husband had been imprisoned, her sheep were all she had.

The officer laughed at her request. How could she possibly find her dozen sheep in a pen of more than one thousand animals?

The woman challenged the officer. If she could find her animals, could she keep them?

Intrigued, the soldier agreed.

The woman invited her ten-year-old son to stand before the pen. He pulled out a flute and began to play a simple tune. As he walked through the fenced in area, a dozen sheep gathered behind him following him all the way home.

The officer and soldiers were impressed. They broke into applause, shut the gate and then announced that no one else could use the trick to get their sheep back.

Why did the sheep follow the boy? Because they knew he was their shepherd. And they knew he was a good shepherd. The sheep were not only familiar with his voice, they knew the very tunes he played on his flute—songs he had played in the fields many times before.

That portrait of a sheep knowing its shepherd so well gives me hope that I, too, can know God intimately and live in response not only to God’s voice but the melodies He places on my heart.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

They're Running Out of Duct Tape...

Shannon Williamson, a dear friend of mine and one of the most Christ-like people I know, has asked for my help in getting the word out about a great opportunity. Shannon grew up at the Carrollton Avenue church in New Orleans, and she's played a big part in that church getting back on its feet following Hurricane Katrina. Read Shannon's words below and consider what you might do in response to this appeal.

As most of you already know, I grew up at the Carrollton Avenue Church of Christ in New Orleans. It is an amazing church that truly embodies the church described in Acts 2:42-47. After the storm, the church had nothing. No money in the bank, no insurance, no pews, no song books, no equipment, nothing. The church saw the great need of the people of New Orleans, so instead of getting the building back in shape we used the facility to help support relief work.

The building is still not totally together for this reason, however the church remains as a beacon of hope in a city in such desperate need. The truly amazing about Carrollton is that out of their desperate situation they still managed to give faithfully to God's people and have planted a church in a neighborhood that was spiritually wasting away. This summer we hosted a 3 week drama and art camp for 45 children (the largest number we've ever had). The church works with the neighborhood schools to help them get the supplies they need and they just started an ESL class two days a week to serve the influx of non-English speaking Hispanics since the storm.

The Carrollton church taught me what it reall means to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and is perhaps the reason I have any faith left at all. If you were to analyze Carrollton and look at all of the small parts, it certainly seems less than mediocre. We never start on time, the singing is never really great, the sermon is never the best one you've heard, and sometimes the planning is a little to be desired. But when you are there you leave different, because you met Jesus there, and no one who ever meets Jesus walks away unchanged.

The church building at Carrollton has come a long way in the four years since the storm. We're back to a safe, functional place to fellowship, worship, and minister in most of the facility. But we have one last "gotta fix" item, and that's the windows in the auditorium. Numerous panes are broken or cracked, letting heated or cooled air out, and humidity, bugs and critters in. Most of the frames are rusted, many are stuck (some open, some closed).

Repairs to the windows are something that must be done professionally, and special ordered to fit the existing structure. Carrollton is having a special offering on Sunday, December 13th, to raise the money needed to replace the windows. Bids are still being received, but the estimate on repairs/replacement is between $50,000- $60,000.
Please prayerfully consider how you might help. Use this address to email the Carrollton church for more information on how to get your donation to them: office@carrolltonavenuechurch.org

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Name Amnesia Essentials...

If you've ever had that awkward and frustrating experience of not being able to recall someone's name that you really should know... then you'll appreciate Tripp Crosby's recent post:

My friend, David, always talks about his torture chamber idea – it’s a room that isn’t high enough for you to stand up all the way, but isn’t wide enough for you to sit down. Yeah, that’s miserable. But, what about when you’re introducing your friends and you only remember 4 out of their 5 names?

If this has never happened to you, it will. So, here are some outs:

- Say all of their names except for the guy you can’t remember, and act as though it was an accident. Then, hopefully, someone will chime in with, “What about John?” At this point laugh innocently. Or...

- Don’t introduce anyone. Simply talk to the guy who just walked up. If you rush the conversation enough, your friends will still be standing there and you can explain by saying, “Sorry, I didn’t introduce you. I forgot that guy’s name.” (Don't do this if you've already used the guy's name!) Or...

- Have celebrity name in your back pocket such as “Barack Obama” that you can use as a joke. I wouldn’t advise using my example if the guy your forgot is the only black guy standing there. Or...

- Just pick a random name. Usually you’ll get a reaction from from your friends like “Who’s that?” Now use the line, “Wha’d I say?” You can trick everyone into figuring out for you which name you left out. Or...

- Give the guy you don’t remember a cool nickname like, “Razzle Dazzle” or “Champion Chip” (make sure you wink at him as if he should have known it was coming).

What other “outs” are there?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who's At Your Table...

There's a beautiful story in 2 Samuel 9:6-11 that describes how David invites the crippled grandson of Saul, Mephibosheth, to be always dine at the king's table. It was not unusual for most kings to destroy the families of their defeated enemies... so David's actions were extraordinary in that regard. But for the king's invitation to be extended to a disabled person was astonishing.

Compare David's actions to these words of Jesus in Luke 14:12-14: Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

As you consider your life this day, who is seated at your table, figuratively speaking?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Team...

Several of my SoHills' ministerial team mates and I spent the day at the 4-H Center in Brownwood, Texas participating in a ropes challenge course. Great experience... I really appreciate my team.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meet Habumugisha...

This is Habumugisha Girbert, and he lives in Rwanda. Susan and I are committing $38 per month through Compassion International to provide Habumugisha with opportunities for education, health and personal development.

I encourage you to consider sponsoring a child through Compassion. Never have the needs in our world been greater, and never have there been more resources available to meet those needs.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Fear of Failure...

Craig Groeshel posted the following thoughts recently. I felt his words were worth repeating.

The fear of failure paralyzes too many people. I’ve found one of the best gifts God can give a leader is the gift of failure. Too many of us are not doing what we feel called to do because we’re afraid to fail.

As I observe the people around me, it seems the most effective have failed far more times than the least effective. The people making the biggest impact seem to:

1) Try something outlandish.
2) Fail.

3) Learn.

4) Adjust.

5) Try something that works better.

Failure is never final. It is often the first step to success.

If you haven’t failed in awhile, why don’t you try something crazy and see what happens.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Some Thoughts On Leadership...

You probably are not leading when...

- You wait for someone to tell you what to do rather than taking the initiative yourself
- You spend too much time talking about how things should be different
- You blame the context, surroundings, or other people for your current situation
- You choose not to speak the truth in love.

- You are more concerned about being cool or accepted than doing the right thing
- You aren't taking any significant risks
- You accept status quo as the way it's always been and always will be.

- You start protecting your reputation instead of opening yourself up to opposition
- You procrastinate to avoid making a tough call
- You don't feel like your butt is on the line for anything significant
- You think what you say doesn't matter
- You ask for way too many opinions before taking action.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Animated Poem...

There's a cool poem in this video... along with a great deal of typography.

It's interesting to see how the spoken words of this poem are used to tell a visual story using video animation.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

God's Beauty On Display...

Susan and I are spending a few days in Boerne, Texas... and this afternoon I'm enjoying the beautiful fall colors and Monarch butterflies found at the Cibolo Nature Center. God's beauty is on display in a magnificent way!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Systems and Seasons...

The following is a recent post by Craig Groeschel. I felt Craig hit the nail on the head with his insightful comments.

Even a good ministry system will eventually limit what God wants to do if the system doesn’t evolve or totally change. (By system, I mean any program, structure, philosophy, or culture that shapes and helps produce a desired outcome.)

Once people operate within a system long enough, they often start to do ministry out of “muscle memory.” They tend to do the same things and work with the same people, but the results often start to slowly (or quickly) diminish.

Because this is what “we’ve always done,” people might think we just need to do what we did—better. In reality, God might want you to de-construct some ministry philosophy or system so you can hear His new direction.

For example, years ago we were doing everything you could think of to innovate and create ministry possibilities. God directed us into a season of focusing on only five things. This philosophy served us well for about four years. It allowed us to focus on our core ministries without being distracted by lots of less-than-our-best efforts.

After a few years, it became obvious this season was coming to a close. What used to seem freeing started to become limiting. After prayer, we intentionally broke the established system to learn something new.

When a ministry enters a new season, we must open the door for new leaders. The “old guard” often resents new seasons. I’m a big believer in working hard to lead the tenured believers toward new life. Sometimes, though, they refuse to move forward.

In those times, we have to help people grow. If we can’t help people grow with the new direction, we need to be willing to allow some people to move on.

During these transitional seasons, I’m always looking for new leaders. Often they arise from right in front of you. There could be faithful people that were serving under others who seem to rise from nowhere when there is a new chance to lead.

When the current changes, keep your eyes open to new people God will raise up.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jesus Catching A Plane...

Some photographs are just about being at the right place at the right time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Servant Leadership & Premium Parking...

We're in the midst of some major renovation at SoHills and, as a result, our parking lots reflect a great deal of excavated pavement and parked heavy equipment. Parking spaces convenient to church building entrances are at a premium... and we're trying to reserve many of these for our guests.

As I pulled into our parking lot yesterday I recalled a church I had visited several years ago. They appeared to have parking issues, as I had to park some distance from their building. After hiking from the far reaches of their parking lot, I noticed that the premium parking spaces near their main entrance were reserved for the senior pastor, associate senior pastor, and administrative secretary.

At the risk of sounding petty, let me say that this status parking seemed crazy on several levels. First, I don't know when this ministerial staff was making their appearance... but I can tell you that when I arrive at the SoHills building (usually about 45 minutes before things get started) I can have my pick of almost any parking space on our entire campus. I'm not seeing why a reserved parking space near the front door would be necessary for most ministerial staff.

And even if this was a last arriving ministerial team, what kind of signal (first shall be last and last shall be first) are you sending to the rest of the church by placing a hold on the premium parking slots near the front door?

Now, lest you think the above sounds very judgmental, I will confess that the entire ministerial of that church may have had mobility issues... I really can't recall. So, I'm more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The whole point of this brief foray into the realm of church parking is to smack me (and maybe you) upside the head with a reminder that servant-leadership means just that... reflecting a servant's spirit in my leadership, even if that means sacrificing parking privileges. Because if servant leadership isn't reflected in the parking lot... it might not get a second look anyplace else.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Soccer Ball Hero...

What do you get when you build a guitar game that's three stories high and controlled by soccer balls? You get this...

Isn't this a cool concept and a great video?!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cell Phone Symphony...

What do you get when you place 1,000 cell phones on a wall and add 2,000 texts? A symphony... or to be more precise, Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture.

Creating this ad took 53 different ringtone alerts that were precisely timed. But after a lot of practice... it actually worked!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Comfort Zones...

"If we're not careful, eventually our comfort zones become cocoons and then coffins."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Love Jesus Parties...

I love Jesus Parties... because I see Jesus in every person who's there. Our next Jesus Party will be Friday, December 4.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Who are the people you know who are the best "ideators"? Ideators are people who take ideas from... well, an idea... to implementation. Who would you want to learn this skill from?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Walls Are Up...

It was thrilling to see the walls go up over the weekend of the house that SoHills is building in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Pictured below is the sweet family who'll own the home: Monica, Adriahna, Anthony and Shannon. The last picture is looking into Anthony's bedroom... and when Anthony made this very clear to me on Saturday he was just about to pop with excitement.

and Laura Hollifield,
along with Tim and Amanda Pittman, have done an incredible job of coordinating things on SoHills side of the Habitat partnership. They've prayed, planned, communicated, managed work teams and hammered nails. They've even chalk outlined the individual rooms of the house... along with the name of who will occupy which bedroom.

Please make a point to visit the house before it's moved to it's permanent location on November 7. And as you walk through their new home, pray for Shannon, Monica, Anthony and Adriahna.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


This video called "Excuses" powerfully promotes breast cancer awareness... but it's also visually stunning.

Great message... astonishing creativity.

Friday, October 23, 2009

500 Years of Women's Portraits...

Portraits of women... reflecting a time span of about 500 years... in less than 3 minutes.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Lesson...

I loved this recent post by Caryn Carroll, daughter of my ministry partner, Donnie, and his sweet wife, Lisa:

Tuesday. It's raining. I'm leaving Parkland to meet my sister and niece for lunch. I start my car. It hesitates. It jerks. It runs. Whew! I turn onto Inwood Road to join bumper-to-bumper traffic in a highly congested and miserable construction zone. My car jerks. It keeps running. Red light. Green light. Bummer. It dies. Did I mention that its raining? Did I mention that there's tons of traffic? Did I mention I'm in an intersection?

What's a girl to do? Restart it, I suppose. Its running...4...3...2...1...it dies. So, I restart it a couple of times until I'm as off to the side as one can be on a no-shoulder, high-traffic, under-construction intersection. Then, of course! Call Dad! What's the problem? Out of gas. (I know- that's a dumb problem that shouldn't have ever happened.) He advises me start my car again, coast for as long as possible, start my car again, coast as long as possible, make people angry on the road, and try to crawl to the gas station about .2 miles away. After a few honks, angry expressions, and a very slow crawl, I make it to the entry of the gas station. Problem: it's a pretty steep entry. By now my car is crawling for about 2 seconds with every key twist in the ignition. Hmm... but I try. Nope. Try again... YES????

All of a sudden two men ran towards my car in the steady rain and started pushing against my bumper. We made it about half way up and then the dear car started rolling backwards. Then, two more men ran towards us and got behind the car and pushed. After a couple of attempts we finally made it to the beautiful gas pump!

So, who were these gallant men to rescue this damsel in distress in the tempest? Their faces I knew well. I pass them almost everyday in that same intersection. They are the men who walk along the streets lined with cars asking for food, beverages, and money. They are the men who find shelter from the rain under that overpass.

Many times I have seen them, shared a smile, but hoped that they wouldn't come greet me at my car window. Many times I have driven past, thinking to myself "I'm working hard, really hard, in grad school trying to feed myself and keep a roof over my head. Surely they could improve their living situations with a little bit more effort." These were the faces of men I judged without knowing their life story... without knowing their name. The men who are poor, unclean, hungry, and thirsty, the men who have been rejected by me (and countless others) are the men who were willing to get their clothes wet and willing to help someone in need. How grateful I am to these men who are slower to pass judgment and quicker to lend a hand. And how humbled I am by their grace and generosity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Best Don't Tell You They're The Best...

When looking for outstanding leaders, those who are truly outstanding (or potentially outstanding) usually don’t tell you they are outstanding. In fact, they often don’t realize they are exceptionally gifted by God to lead.

With rare exceptions, whenever someone initially rattles off a resume of success, I find that most of the time these "outstanding" leaders are either:

A) Very insecure.

B) Overselling themselves.

Those who are truly the best don’t seem to be driven to convince you they are the best. The most gifted do more than they talk.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Insincere Praise & Mean-Spirited Criticism...

One of the highlights of the recent Catalyst Conference for me was listening to Chuck Swindoll's message. Swindoll shared leadership lessons he’d learned over a half century of ministry. One of his points which stuck out to me dealt with how we receive the opinions of others. Swindoll said (and I'm paraphrasing):

"There will be people in your life who basically want to worship you. In their eyes you can do no wrong. They put you up on a pedestal and believe every word, every action, every thought is pure as the fallen snow."

"On the other hand you will have your critics for whom you can do nothing right. Every word, action, and thought will be criticized with little thought to who you are as a person."

Swindoll stated that the wise leader will not take either one of these groups too seriously. I didn't take his comment to mean we shouldn’t still love them. My take was that Swindoll meant we shouldn’t allow these people to shape or mold us. Their insincere praise or eager critical hearts can damage the work God is doing in us and through us... so guard your mind and your heart.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quit Trying To Be Interesting...

“Quit trying to be interesting. Start trying to be interested.”

This statement changed Jim Collins’ life. It came at the end of a conversation the author was having years ago with his mentor. It was confrontational. It struck a nerve. And it stayed with him.

Which one do you find yourself most focused on these days: trying to be interesting or interested?

One is inwardly focused.

One is outwardly focused.

One won’t change much of anything.

One has the potential to change anything.

One is about me.

One is about others.

There are four simple ways to become more interested:

Be curious. Ask questions. Talk less. Listen more.

The ironic twist of it all is that when we become more interested, we might actually become more interesting.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jesus Plane...

This is funny... and sort of scary.

This is painful parody to watch.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Touching Moment...

At the Catalyst Conference which I recently attended, there was a moment so genuinely sweet and touching it couldn't have been planned or scripted. Watch this video (it's 18 minutes, but worth it) and see Jimmy Wambua, a young man from Kenya, meet his Compassion sponsor of 19 years, for the first time. Have Kleenex handy.

Susan and I are sponsoring a Compassion child... if you're not, consider doing so.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Love God Wholeheartedly...

The Ten Commandments end with "You shall not covet." Some people view this as more of a reward than a commandment... if you love God and seek him wholeheartedly you won't want any other life than your own. -- Rob Bell, Catalyst 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Making Your Mark...

Below are the notes that I took during Andy Stanley's opening presentation at Catalyst 2009. The theme for this year's Catalyst Conference was "On Your Mark." Building off that theme, Andy's comments focused on "making your mark."

- We need to take the subject of leadership and look at it through the lens of Scripture.

- The reason we are here and love to study and learn about leadership is because we want to make our world better… we want to make our mark.

- We want to make the world better.

- We want to believe when we are gone we will be missed.

- We want people to say: Our world was better because they were here. That’s not an ego, it’s the mark of God on our lives.

- Every leader leaves a mark. The challenge is: what mark are you going to leave?

- If you are discontent with the status quo and want to see change it’s because God has put that desire in you.

- Leaders always leave a mark the question is what kind of mark are you going to leave?

- You won't understand the mark you've left until long after you've left it.

- You won’t recognize your greatest mistake until after you've made it.

- You won't know your defining moment until it’s already happened.

- The challenge and problem for leaders who want to see change is that we don’t know the thing that we will do that will make the greatest difference.

- As you study leadership and leaders, you see they don’t realize the significance of what they've done until long after they've done it.

- “God takes full responsibility for the life wholly committed to Him.” – Charles Stanley

- It’s not about the mark you leave but the mark God makes through you.

- My responsibly is to be obedient to God and to trust him with the consequences

- You need to settle once and for all, who’s mark is this for?
Be consumed with Who you are for. Once you decide that, you can live your life with freedom in knowing that God will take full responsibility for your life and your leadership.

- You have no idea what God wants to accomplish for you.
When God has done His greatest work in the world you won’t know it.

- Living life to make my mark is too small a thing for us to give our whole life to. Live with greater concern about who you are for. If you settle this once and for all, you’ll be perfectly positioned for God to do His most extraordinary thing through you.

- You are going to leave a mark. The real question for you is, “Who’s mark is it gonna be?”

- Let’s not live our lives trying to live our small marks when we've been invited to play a role in God’s story and to make His mark in our world.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lessons From 50 Years of Ministry...

One of the significant moments for me during last week's Catalyst Conference was the presentation Chuck Swindoll made to the assembled gathering. Swindoll spoke of lessons learned over his fifty years of ministry. In bullet-point format, here are the lessons Swindoll shared:

- Whatever you do, do more with others and less alone.

- Whenever you do it, emphasize quality not quantity.

- Whenever you go, do it the same as if you were among those who know
you the best.

- Whoever may respond, keep a level head.

- However long you lead, keep on dripping with gratitude and grace.

- Leave room for the "crushing."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

World's Longest Basketball Shot...

I saw these guys at Catalyst Conference. They are really nice guys... and they make some amazing basketball shots. This clip documents the world's longest basketball shot--which was made from the third deck of Texas A&M's football stadium.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Movies Are Made To Be Seen...

One of the presenters at Catalyst used this clip to illustrate the persuasive power of images over words. I thought it was a good illustration of his point, as well as a pretty funny video.

I smile every time I watch this.