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:

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.