Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Need More Time...

Seth Godin has the uncanny knack of hitting the nail-on-the-head of many a "nail" I've been pondering. I thought he nailed a great leadership principle in this recent post:

First rule of decision making: More time does not create better decisions.

In fact, it usually decreases the quality of the decision.

More information may help. More time without more information just creates anxiety, not insight.

now frees up your most valuable asset, time, so you can go work on something else. What happens if, starting today, you make every decision as soon as you have a reasonable amount of data?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Can't, Or Don't Want To...

Late yesterday afternoon, Tyrone rolled up in his wheelchair to my booth at Sharky's. Tyrone had begun using the wheelchair over two months ago when he injured his foot. But his foot has healed, and Tyrone remains in the wheelchair. Tyrone has grown very attached to his wheelchair.

I asked Tyrone when he was going to get out of the wheelchair and start walking again. He smiled, stood up on his two feet (to show me he could stand)... and then sank back into the wheelchair.

"I can't walk!" Tyrone complained.

"Can't walk... or don't want to walk?" I questioned.

"I've got to go!" Tyrone muttered. He was tired of this conversation, so he rolled off to chat with another one of his friends.

I was talking with God last night and He challenged me to leave behind some weights that were keeping me from becoming more of the man He's calling me to be.

"I can't change!" I complained.

"Can't change... or don't want to?" God questioned.

"I've got to go!" I muttered. I was tired of this conversation, so I walked off dragging my weights behind me.

When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, "Do you want to get well?" - John 5:6 (The Message)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Proactive Swine Flu Response...

This child has apparently adopted a "let's be friends" approach to local swine... perhaps as a proactive, preventative strategy in response to growing concerns about the spread of swine flu.

I've gotta say, this approach is a bit too extreme for my taste.

Invisible People...

On the street I saw a small girl cold and shivering in a thin dress, with little hope of a decent meal. I became angry and said to God; "Why did You permit this? Why don't You do something about it?"

For a while God said nothing. That night He replied, quite suddenly: "I certainly did something about it. I mad
e you."

An individual who had enjoyed a successful career in the television industry found himself homeless and living
on the streets. God used the ministry of others to help him find a new start. Now he's helping to tell the stories of other homeless people. Check out their stories on

Here's one example:

I hope you’ll take the time to watch some of these stories. There are real people behind those faces. Then share the link with others.

Monday, April 27, 2009

WATS Day 2009...

Wow... praise God for the many, many ways in which He glorified Himself on WATS (We Are The Sermon) Day! I love it when the church leaves the building... and the SoHills church left the building in a powerful way yesterday.

I'm writing these words on Sunday evening, so my WATS 2009 perspective at this moment are the two projects the incredible team I had the privilege of working with completed. While I was tremendously impressed that our team was able to scrape and paint two houses in one afternoon... the God-moments of our day for me were the ways in which our team showed Jesus to each other, and especially to the sweet ladies whose houses we painted.

And I want to say a special thank you to Riley Stirman for his thoughtful WATS Day greeting... and the creativity he showed in expressing it to me. I know the homeowner must be as thrilled as I am to have this emblazoned on the side of their house.

Thanks, Riley!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I first heard about TOMS shoes a couple of years ago. TOMS' approach is simple and straightforward: every time you buy a pair of their shoes, TOMS gives a free pair of shoes to a child in need. One for one. Watch this video and be inspired.

TOMS plans to give 300,000 shoes away in 2009 to kids in need all over the world.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Benefits of Saying Less...

The pilot on a flight out of DFW came on with an important announcement: "We have enough fuel to get to Atlanta."

Hmmm. I probably was assuming that before he mentioned it. Is this something I really wanted to have brought to my attention? Is this something I needed to hear?

I started to imagine all the other situations in which I really would not appreciate an announcement. How about a nurse who assures you that the needle she's about to stick in your arm has never been used before? Or a waitress who mentions that the cook washed his hands before he made your sandwich? Again, really something I prefer you not call to my attention.

A boyfriend who says that he is not going to break up with you today? A boss who is not going to fire you? (Okay, in today's economic climate, that one might be nice reassurance to have.)

But we often say too much.

Here are five situations in which I'm thinking saying less would have been more:

1) Describing one more product feature, after the customer's facial expression indicates that she has already decided to buy. By describing an additional feature, the only thing you can possibly do is trigger an objection the customer had never considered.

2) Beginning any meeting or speaking opportunity by letting people know that you are poorly prepared, or that you prepared at the last minute. At a minimum, this demonstrates a lack of respect for the importance of the event, or other participants. In most cases, you also significantly decrease your listeners' receptivity to what you're about to say.

3) Asking a question that shows you have absolutely no idea about something you really should understand. I know, people often say there's no such thing as a dumb question. But, frankly, that's just... well, dumb. Sometimes it's much wiser to do some research (or ask a friend) in order to get some basic facts, and then come back with "smarter" questions.

4) Trying for a second laugh after your first spontaneous comment proves amusing. (Think of this as the "George Costanza rule" for any of you who are Seinfeld fans.) It almost never works. Quit while you're ahead.

5) Assuring people things won't happen that people never imaged would. An airplane with enough fuel should be a given.


What would you add to the list?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blooper Reel...

We usually begin SoHills' Refresh gathering with what we fondly refer to as a "pre-vid." The "pre-vid" is a very short video that is designed to let people know that we're about to begin.

For the most part, the "pre-vids" are encouraging, welcoming and fairly serious. But we'd accumulated enough "quality" outtakes that my ministry team mate, Stephen Corbett, couldn't resist putting together a "blooper pre-vid."

SoHills' youth minister and my ministry team mate, Ricky Pruitt, could have been a comedian.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


In his book, Whatever Happened to Worship, A.W. Tozer writes:

“Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters. That is where we are, even in the evangelical churches, and I don’t mind telling you that most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors putting on a home talent show.”

Um... ouch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Worship Gatherings Are Not The Problem...

I'm currently reading The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani. Last night as I read and prayed for insight, God used these words from The Divine Commodity to both challenge and convict me:

Worship gatherings are not the problem. The early Christians gathered regularly for worship, and the writer of Hebrews even commands his readers to not neglect meeting together as some were in the habit of doing (Hebrews 10:25). The problem is not our gatherings, but what we expect from them. If corporate worship is an external display of an internal reality--the glory of Christ that abides within--then these gatherings will not be full of passive spectators. These events will be where Christians gather to show a watching world the continual worship that marks their lives--whether it is celebratory, reflective, or even repentant.

However if people have no sustainable communion with Christ through his indwelling Spirit, they will come to worship seeking a temporary filling, a transient dose of glory to carry them along. And rather than reflecting the full spectrum of the human-divine relationship as revealed in Scripture, particularly the Psalms, these gatherings will fixate on only one element--the celebratory. Over time, as the familiar experience offers a diminishing return, religious consumers will either demand more energy through innovation, or the will shift to another church looking for a new experience.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I was sitting in my usual booth at Sharky's the other day talking with a bright, young Christ-follower... who happens to be a woman. In addition to possessing exceptional interpersonal skills, this young woman has a passion for teaching others about Jesus. She is a gifted evangelist.

However, as she looked me in the eye and spoke of her love for speaking about Jesus... we both knew that within our faith tradition, her gender most likely prevented her from teaching anyone but other women.

That said, let's consider the following... the Bible tells us stories about women that author Scot McKnight calls stories that answer the question: WDWD. Scot's WDWD acronym is one we should consider when we think about women in church ministries: What Did Women Do? in Bible times.

To name some of the more obvious, think of Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah; think of Esther and the woman in the Song of Songs; think of Priscilla and Phoebe. Think of Mary, mother of Jesus, whose influence on Jesus, James, and some early Christians is often overlooked.

The point is what these women did. They led, they prophesied, they taught, and they were local church mentors. These women were exceptions to the dominant cultural perception of women as inferior. They were exceptions whom God raised above the norm to do His will.

So here's the question, and join me in my booth at Sharky's as we pose it to ourselves and the young Christ-follower sitting across from us who happens to be a woman: Do we permit women to do in our churches what women did in the Bible and in the early churches?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Finish What You Start...

Here's a great video that our Communications team developed to support SoHills' upcoming WATS (We Are The Sermon) Day. Jesse Hudgens, ACU student and all-around good guy, directed and edited this vid.

We'll be showing this vid at both of our worship assemblies tomorrow as a gentle reminder to all of our WATS teams that we need them to complete their projects.

Friday, April 17, 2009


The current issue of WIRED magazine has an article that describes how our brains process information. Have a little fun and try out your brain on the simple David Copperfield illusion below.

Are you amazed?!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Caption Please...

A rebel with a beak.

Sign? What sign?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

PS 22 Chorus...

PS 22 chorus does an acoustic guitar version of Coldplay's Grammy winning song "Viva La Vida."

This made me smile.

Sticky Church...

If people only come to a church's worship gatherings, they can drop out without anyone knowing. When people move to a group, they stick. They stay. They last.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Want One Of These...

I'm thinking it would be cool if we could install one of these at the SoHills church office.

If you're going "down the tubes"... this is the way to do it!

Monday, April 13, 2009

He's The God of This City...

"We Are The Sermon" (WATS) Day is about churches in Abilene worshiping God through serving others. The focus of WATS Day is to serve our neighborhoods and in doing so, represent Jesus to them. WATS takes church out of a building and into the community.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming...

The story of Jesus' crucifixion is one of betrayal, brutality, pain and despair. But Jesus' story doesn't end at the cross.

It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Am Barabbas...

This post by Mark Batterson spoke to me on this Good Friday.

This thought keeps going through my mind today:
I am Barabbas.

Imagine what that Friday must have been like for him. He was sitting in a jail cell awaiting his execution. He knew it was the last day of his life. It was the end. There was no hope. Then he hears the crowd chanting his name and the next thing he knows he's a free man. The charges are dropped. His life that was almost over starts over. And a sinless man named Jesus literally takes his place. He expected to die. He deserved to die. But his execution, in the sovereign plan of God, was scheduled on the same day Jesus was arrested.

If ever there was a picture of II Corinthians 5:21 this is it: "God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us."

I am Barabbas.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Leadership Can Be Lonely...

Pete Wilson posted this on his blog earlier this week. I felt Pete articulated well one of the challenges of leadership.

Very early in my ministry I had another leader tell me leadership can be a lonely activity.

I've worked very hard in my life to surround myself with other leaders. I've worked hard to empower the people around me and build authentic community. However, I agree, there is an element to leadership that is lonely. Whether it’s leadership in a church, leadership in the workplace, or even leadership in your home.

In leadership you carry a weight and responsibility which can drive you to a very lonely place. A healthy leader will allow this loneliness to drive them to a greater dependence on God.

Luke 22:39-46 recounts how Jesus asks his disciples to pray with him. It was such an intense time of temptation the Bible tells us as He prayed “his sweat was like drops of blood”. After he finished he walked back over to his disciples to find them asleep.

In leadership you’re often going to feel as if your fighting a battle alone. You're going to ask…

- Does anyone care?

- Is anyone else as passionate as I am about this cause?

- Will anyone else sacrifice?

Jesus lived in the reality that even when you do life in community leadership can be lonely. Just hours later even his closest follower would deny knowing him.

Reflecting on this passage and these principles makes me realize…

1) If it happened to Jesus it will happen to you. People will abandon you and yes, you will feel lonely. And let’s be honest. Because you’re not Jesus and you have sins like pride and arrogance you’re going to bring some of this upon yourself. Whenever you step into any kind of leadership role make sure you count the cost.

2) Extend grace whenever possible. One of my favorite scenes in the Bible would happen a few weeks later in John 21 when Jesus and Peter have a little chat on the beach. Jesus would take this opportunity to extend grace to Peter and re-communicate his belief in him. Jesus always chose to see people for who they could be rather than who they were in that very moment.

3) Don’t get bitter and withdraw. I've had way too many ministers tell me they don’t do “friends”. Whhhhhhat? Listen we've all been hurt. We've all been tempted to withdraw into our own little cocoon and never trust again. Don’t fall into that trap. Jesus invested in a bunch of guys who he knew would abandon Him in His time of greatest need. Developing authentic relationships is risky business in the midst of leadership, but it’s a risk you need to take.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

100 Best Movie Lines...

And the Oscar for "Best Editing" goes to... "100 Best Movie Lines in 200 Seconds."

Can you name the movies from which these quotes came?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gaining Credibility...

The following was recently posted by Brad Lomenick. I thought Brad's comments were insightful.

A young friend of mine in his early twenties asked me the other day how I had gained credibility and a platform over the last 10-15 years. The first thing that is important to know about my answers and my perspective: this is a work still in progress. I have not arrived.

But after giving him some thoughts on this, I thought it might be helpful to the community here on the blog. So here you go-
my thoughts on gaining credibility:

Be Self Aware- first, you have to have an accurate understanding of who you are and where you are in life. A very clear and realistic picture of your self identity and current reality. If you are 24, you have to understand that life experiences and job experience probably aren’t something you can hang your hat on.

Listen, Listen, Listen. Ask great questions of those around you, and then listen to the answer. Don’t talk until you have something to say. But learn to ask great questions and learn from them. This is especially true in a team environment.

Experience creates expertise- this is obvious, but sometimes we forget. Credibility comes with action- doing, not just thinking or talking. Jump in and get involved.

A platform takes time- it’s just a reality. Most of us aren’t patient enough to spend adequate time at doing something until we gain a platform or credibility. We usually lose interest, get bored, or just simply move on to something else. The key- stick with it.

Connect with leading organizations, networks and individuals- connect with companies, teams or individuals who are highly respected, and you’ll gain respect. But the key on this- connect with them and ask how you can help them, not how you can gain from them.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Five Things That Always Make Me Cry...

Susan and I were leaving a movie theatre recently after having watched a real tear-jerker. I was clearly not the only sensitive man in the audience in touch with his feelings, as I noticed several other males in the crowd dabbing at their eyes with a handkerchief, or slipping on their sunglasses (it was 10:30 p.m.).

That experience got me thinking about men and crying... and since I am a sensitive man in touch with my feelings, I decided to make a list of the Five Things That Always Make Me Cry. Here's my list:

Crowds applauding handicapped people - it doesn't matter if it’s a Special Olympics medal ceremony, or handing out prizes at a Jesus Party. If people clap, I cry. Kleenex.

Old Yeller - if you've never seen this movie, come prepared with a box of Kleenex. Make that a case of Kleenex.

My wife crying - This works like yawning. If Susan cries, I cry almost immediately. Kleenex, please.

Cats not dying - I saw a cat almost get hit by a car the other day. Good thing I had Kleenex handy.

Getting a shot at the doctor's office - Well, it used to. Now I act like a bug flew in my eye. Nurse, may I please have a Kleenex?

Okay, what makes you cry?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

You Will Not Get This On American Airlines...

This guy seems to be missing his calling... or maybe not.

Making flying just a bit more fun.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dangerous Churches...

Craig Groeschel posted the following earlier this week. It hit me somewhere between "gut punch" and "wake-up call."

I was talking to a guy on a plane about God. When I asked him if he went to church, he explained politely that he wasn’t interested. I asked him why he wasn’t and he said matter of factly, “Because I’ve already been and nothing happened.”

Maybe he went to a “safe” church. In a safe church:

* The message makes you feel better.

* You’re never confronted about your sin.

* No one rocks the boat.

* You don’t have to change.

* You may never truly encounter our Holy and Life-giving God.

When I read about the New Testament church, it was filled with people with a dangerous faith. While we certainly should make our environments welcoming, our message should remain dangerous.

* We’re called to leave everything to follow Christ.

* We’re invited to believe God for the impossible.

* We’re told to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

* We’re told that to find our life we have to lose it first.

There is nothing safe about that message. May our churches become a safe place to encounter a dangerous message.

What are some of the ways you offer a welcoming environment while presenting a dangerous message?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Criticism & Critics...

Seth Godin had a great post a few days ago about critics. Here's my take on what he had to say.

Criticism and critics. We've all experienced it and them. Whether it's a blog comment, or a person at church who criticizes us. We could get 98 positive comments and 2 negative comments, and we will still dwell on the 2 negatives. Why do we do that?

Godin says dwelling on criticism and critics is a shame: "The critics are never going to be happy with you, that's why they're critics. You might bore them by doing what they say... but that won't turn them into fans, it will merely encourage them to go criticize someone else."

Godin's words ring true. When was the last time that you turned one of your critics into a "fan"? In my experience, that rarely, if ever, happens.

But Godin takes it a step further and says that not only should we not listen to your critics, we should also not listen to our "fans."

Godin continues…

"Your fans don’t want you to change, your fans want you to maintain the essence of what you bring them but add a laundry list of features. Your fans want lower prices and more contributions, bigger portions and more frequent deliveries."

So, who should we listen to?

According to Godin, and this is his term, we should listen to our "sneezers."

We should listen to the people who tell the most people about us. Listen to the people who thrive on sharing your good works with others. If you delight these people, you grow.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Slipped Up...

I did something the other night that I haven’t done in nearly twenty-nine years of marriage. I've been proud that I've never done it before. I'd heard about other men doing it and thought, "Wow, I'm glad I'm not that foolish and insensitive." I've seen how women react to a man who's thoughtlessly acted in this way, and I've witnessed the pain and distrust that it causes.

Men, I want to pause and ask that all of us make a serious commitment to not do this anymore. Susan has forgiven me… and I have promised to never let it happen again. But...

What's sad is that most couples never talk about this issue until after it happens... and by then it's too late because the damage has been done.

I've overheard women talking about the shame caused by men who slip up and do this despicable thing. Frankly, I'm afraid of what women are going to say about me now that I've done it.

I feel so ashamed. I was so careful for so long… but one careless moment, one self-centered second… and it can happen to you. And the pain can be devastating.

I'm so thankful that Susan has forgiven me… and I have promised her that it will never happen again.

By the way, I probably should tell you what my failure was… I left the toilet seat up.

Susan got up to go to the restroom about 2 a.m. and nearly took a plunge! (My sweetie said only her quick reflexes saved her from a swim.) I'm fairly confident her not falling in probably saved my life.

Men, we've got to put the toilet seat down! There’s no excuse for anything less than giving that little extra effort to the ones we love the most.

Happy April Fool's Day...