Saturday, May 30, 2009


This video of Aaron Niequist's song "Changed" was built by some creative folks at Willow Creek Community Church. "Changed" is a wonderful song with a great message.

Are you changed?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Grammar Obsessive Disorder...

Do you or someone you know suffer from Grammar Obsessive Disorder? If so, you should watch this helpful clip.

Years ago someone reminded me that the English language is constantly evolving. Those words have challenged me to talk good, uhhh... well, uhhh... gooder.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Problem Solving 101...

It's been suggested that there are three ways to deal with a problem:

1) Lean into it.
2) Lean away from it.
3) Run away.

You lean into a problem, especially a long-term or difficult one, by sitting with it, wrestling with it, embracing it and breathing it in. The problem becomes part of you, at least until you solve it. You try one approach and then another, and when nothing works... you stick with it and work around it as you build your organization and your life.

Some people choose to lean away from the problems that nag them at home or at work. They
avoid them, minimize them or criticize the cause. The thinking seems to be: Put as little into it as possible and maybe it will go away.

And sometimes, a problem is so nasty or overwhelming that you just run away.

I'm a big fan of the first approach. And sometimes, quitting isn't such a bad idea. The second approach, unfortunately, is the one that many of us end up with by default, and the one that's least likely to pay off.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Defeating Nature of Comparison...

I recently came across an intriguing insight from The 4-Hour Work Week. In the book, author Timothy Ferriss relates a story about challenging some Princeton students to a competition: The first person to contact a seemingly impossible person to reach (Bill Clinton, Jennifer Lopez, J.D. Salinger, etc.) and ask them three questions would win a trip to anywhere in the world.

Out of an entire class of students, none of them accepted his challenge. Many thought the challenge was impossible, but the most common excuse was comparison. They thought the other students would certainly get there first. They didn't think there was any point in trying.

What a great lesson on the defeating nature of comparison! How many times have we been stopped in our tracks because we thought someone else could write a better book than we can... or was more capable of providing leadership in a church... or could do a better job at whatever than we can?

"I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength." - Philippians 4:13 (New Century Version)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Playing It Too Safe...

I was smacked between the eyes recently by the thought that I'm spending too much of my life attempting to walk the line between passion and peacefulness. We play it safe because we fear failure and criticism. I'm thinking most of us wake up every day and put on the straitjacket of not looking foolish, or not bringing unwanted attention to ourselves.

But I'll suggest a possibility
that I'm pretty sure is true: If we're not offending someone or risking personal embarrassment with our life endeavors, we're probably making very little impact. That's just how influence works... it comes with the price of personal unrest.

In almost every endeavor I go after, there is always a moment when I have tremendous regret. It's always that moment when I've gone too far to turn back, and there's absolutely no assurance of success. I start doubting my holy discontentment, my innovative nature, and I kick myself for being naive, calling it faith.

And then God does something amazing... and I go do
it all over again.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jesus Wants The Rose...

I've heard Matt Chandler speak on a couple of occasions... and I've been struck by his heart for God, as well as his giftedness as a teacher. Matt serves as the lead pastor at The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas. This clip, an excerpt from a lesson Matt taught at a recent conference, brought tears to my eyes.

Matt spent some time in Abilene during his time as a student at Hardin-Simmons University. Praise God for those who teach with the passion and conviction that Matt does.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kids Ask Great Questions...

How would you answer if children started asking you questions like this about Jesus?

These questions are even more intriguing when you hear them asked in these kids' British accents.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Favorite Sounds...

I thought it might be fun to list my top five favorite sounds. Here are my favorites (as of today) in no particular order:

1) Thunder
2) Rain on a tin roof

3) Conwell girlies' laughter (Susan, Katie Lea and Caroline each have wonderfully distinctive laughs that I love to hear.)

4) Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings"

5) A steam locomotive's whistle

What are some of your favorite sounds?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

If You Practice Long Enough, You Can Do This Too...

This is an amazing video! If you're the impatient type, give this clip to at least :56... it becomes bicycle artistry.

And I thought I was cool when I rode my bike and took my hands off the handlebars.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reviewing The Highlights...

I took a few minutes today to glance over my Catalyst One-Day workbook... paying special attention to the notes I highllighted. These three items made my highlighted list. They struck me as significant when I first heard them, and in reading over them today I found myself nodding at the truth found in each of these kernels of knowledge.

+ The assumptions that a team has held the longest, or the most deeply, are the likeliest to be its undoing. Don't let anything be off-limits for discussion.

+ Vision doesn't change. The plans in response to the vision most likely will change.

+ We must refuse to do things that don't make a difference.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Old Couch Churchology...

I had the privilege yesterday of participating, along with several of my ministerial team mates, in Catalyst One-Day Conference. We received a wealth of great information, which we've already begun processing in light of the take-aways that have significant application for us at SoHills.

One of the keynote speakers at Catalyst One-Day was Andy Stanley, the senior pastor at the North Point Community Church in Atlanta. Andy talked about how church traditions can become like an old couch. When you first bought the couch, it was wonderful and just what you needed. Now the same couch, 20 years later, doesn't work for you... but you're holding on to it because it carries with it so much meaning, and so many memories from the past.

Are there any couches in your church that you need to let go of?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let's Raise Our Ebenezer...

We talked some at yesterday's SoHills Refresh gathering about an Ebenezer stone. In fact, I brought in a stone (which several people reminded me I lifted the wrong way--"Lift with your knees, not your back") which we named an "Ebenezer"... which means "stone of hope."

1 Samuel 7 provides us with the story of the original Ebenezer stone. Samuel's naming of the stone was followed by this pronouncement in verse 12: "The Lord has helped us to this point."

Samuel's raising of the Ebenezer stone took place on the heels of what appeared to be an impending disaster for the Israelites... and another expression of God's faithulness as He rescued them. The Ebenezer became a reference point, a touchstone, from which the Israelites could look back on the unwavering faithfulness of God. And from the vantage point of the Ebenezer stone, the Israelites could face the future with a confidence built on the solid rock of God's enduring faithfulness.

I encourage you to join me in raising your own Ebenezer... declaring that we serve a God who has been faithful on all counts in our lives.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Love of my Life...

Susan and I are celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary today! I am married to the love of my life.

Twenty-eight years ago I had these words inscribed in Susan's engagement ring... and they mean more to me now than they ever did: "These years with you and heaven."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dominoes Everywhere...

I'm thinking it would be fun to spend a whole day setting up dominoes throughout your house... and then watching them fall. That's apparently what this guy did.

I need to talk with Susan and see if she's up for my doing this in our house.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I feel like I've met this family before... the guy in the white turtleneck looks especially familiar.

This is actually from my portfolio when I was considering a career as a church directory photographer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saving Seats at Church...

I attended a conference recently (held at a church building) and came face-to-chair once again with the practice of "saving seats." With that experience fresh on my mind, I found Jon Acuff's recent post about seat saving at church enlightening.

Seven things you need to know about saving seats at church:

1. It's OK to save a seat for your spouse or significant other.

I would never advocate that you can't save a seat for your husband/wife. If you didn't, where would that leave him/her? I'll tell you where, sitting on your lap. You'd be all tangled up in a mesh of limbs and hymnals and awkwardness as the people next to you tried to pretend that wasn't happening.

2. Don't save a seat for someone at the end of the aisle.

Why would you put that kind of pressure on a visitor? That's like giving a little kid the emergency exit on a plane. If it's your first time to church you're not going to know that I am sitting in the middle of the aisle like a tightly wound spring waiting to be released so that I can grab my kid and race out of the church parking lot. What's inevitably going to happen is that at the end of the service they will sit in their seat, effectively blocking the whole aisle, telling you that "Hey, maybe I should give this God thing a shot." But I won't know that, so I'll ruin that tender moment by running across the aisle, using everyone’s head as a stepping stone like some sort of scene from a Jackie Chan movie.

3. Once someone has come to your church for 7 weeks, you can't save them a seat.

Service starts at the same time every week. If your friend has been at least seven times, then they know this. They shouldn't act surprised on Sunday morning when they wake up and think, "Oh snap, they're starting church at 9:30 today. When did that happen? Oh that's right, 1987. I should call my friend and ask him to save me a seat." If you have an ill grandmother, serve on some ministry, have kids, are late because you were nursing a baby deer that had been hit on the side of the road back to health, etc. you get a free pass on this one.

4. Don't save a seat with your shoe.

If you're going to save 47 seats, then grab 47 bulletins. There's no call for putting a shoe or a mint or taking every key off your key chain and laying them down individually on each seat you want to save.

5. Don't expect me to help you save seats.

I hate to say "no" to people. I've gotten better, but in general I hate saying "no" to people. It's a problem. I'm working on it. And saving seats for someone often becomes a constant parade of "no." I had to do it last year at Catalyst as I waited for my little brother and when someone would ask me if they could sit in the seat I was saving I felt like they were saying, "Do you mind if I sit here and worship God? Do you mind if I relieve my weary bones and collapse in this spot of resting and renewal. Won't you let me sit here please, kind sir?" So... if you ask me to help you to save seats, expect me to pass on that opportunity.

6. Release the seats when it appears your friend isn't coming.

If the announcements are done, the worship music is over, the offering is collected and the sermon is about to start, let that seat go. It's over, they didn't come. Set that seat back into the wild. If it really loves you it will come back.

7. I don't have a seventh idea but I know better than to end a list on a Christian website with 6.

Do you save seats?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Long Haul...

4,000 photos + 360 camera track = a pretty sweet stop-motion video.

And beyond the cool production techniques, this video has a great message.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Elephants in the Church...

Churches are made up of people... and sometimes, elephants. Beginning this Wednesday night at SoHills, we've identified a number of different elephants in the church that we feel need addressing. We believe it's time we talked about some issues that are all too often swept under the rug in many churches.

During this seven-week series, we'll be talking candidly about some of the issues that plague us, the topics that confuse us and the questions that intrigue us. I'm looking forward to this elephant hunt.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Treat Your Mother Right...

With Mother's Day taking place on Sunday, I thought it would warm the cockles of your heart to hear Mr.T encourage us all to "treat our mothers right." Take it away, Mr. T...

I need to get me a pair of shorts like Mr. T is wearing.

Signs of The Times...

Someone has gone to the trouble of assembling a collection of pictures of unusual signs. They're all pretty funny, but these are three that made me laugh...

Who would have thought signage could be so amusing?!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Listening & Leadership...

A big chunk of my day today will be spent in airports or on airplanes as I travel back to ABI after attending Drive Conference '09. As Drive concluded, Ricky Pruitt and I began debriefing each other on our key take-aways from the Conference. Here are some of the notes I asterisked in my Drive notebook:

* To be a great leader, you must be a great listener. Here's why... you are probably not the smartest person in your church/organization. You are just a leader.

* Leaders are attracted to environments where their ideas and opinions are heard. Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.

* If you want to attract gifted leaders to your church, create a system where their voices can be heard.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

iMarriage- Part 3...

Today concludes the Drive Conference '09 which Ricky Pruitt and I have been attending this week. The Drive Conference is hosted by North Point Community Church. I wanted to share a final clip from a marriage enrichment lesson series that North Point did called iMarriage.

Ricky and I head back to ABI tomorrow afternoon. Please pray for us to have safe travel.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

iMarriage- Part 2...

As I mentioned yesterday, this week Ricky Pruitt and I are in Atlanta attending the Drive Conference '09. The Drive Conference is hosted by North Point Community Church. I wanted to share another clip from a marriage enrichment lesson series that North Point did called iMarriage.

Ricky and I are learning a lot at Drive... keep us in your prayers.

Monday, May 4, 2009

iMarriage- Part 1...

My ministry partner, Ricky Pruitt, and I flew out of ABI early this morning headed for Atlanta to attend the Drive Conference '09. The Drive Conference is hosted by North Point Community Church.

I'm anticipating that it may be a busy next couple of days for me... so instead of trying to keep up with my regular posting routine, I thought I'd share some clips from a marriage enrichment lesson series that North Point did called iMarriage. (We recently based some lessons on this series in the Young Marrieds' class I teach at SoHills.) Enjoy these intros that North Point developed in support of the iMarriage series.

SoHills' Young Marrieds' group really benefited from the iMarriage series.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Even smiley faces can have a bad day.

No smiley faces were actually harmed in the making of this video.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The iBible...

If you're looking for the latest in theological technology... then consider the iBible.

The iBible is not sold in stores...