Monday, December 28, 2009

Who are we afraid of offending?

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I'm really confused folks ...

Why do we have two lists to protect the airlines from "this or that" threat? We have a no fly list (Click Here) ... and we have a terror watch list (Click Here)? Why not have one list that says if you are on it, your Visa into the US is automatically denied and you do NOT get onto a plane headed for the United States.

Who are we afraid of offending here? The bad guys? Seriously?

If anyone is on any kind of a watch or terror list, they need to be denied entry into the United States, period. Why is Secretary Napolitano spending her time making excuses for why this latest terror suspect was allowed onto a plane? Why spend time on the news programs (being handled with kid gloves of course) trying to justify your comment that the "system actually worked"? True, you were able to notify those other planes in the air and airports that there was an immediate threat ... but what if that warning didn't have to be made because of a denial of access onto an international Delta flight headed into Detroit?

Come on you fools .... change the precautions from being gentle and simply deny access across the board. Madam secretary, who's team are we playing for here? I fly once a month somewhere in the country and believe me, I won't mind the extra few minutes to remove some knucklehead from the airport because he is on this list and cannot get on the plane. How about we stop playing one move behind the bad guys (being reactive) and actually be proactive in the protection of our nation?

When will we learn????

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What was celebrated?

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For weeks now (even months for some) we have been preparing for this past weekend, and now it has come and gone. The wrapping paper is all cleaned up, the new gifts are finding new homes in the rooms, and all that is left is dishes, exhaustion, and the desire to not eat for a week. However, do you hear it? Do you hear the still small voice that calls to you to remember what we celebrated? It is the birth of the Christ child, who willingly left the splendor of Heaven to come to a world that would shun Him, reject Him, and finally crucify Him ... all for you.

As we all begin to contemplate packing up this coming week, let us remember to NOT pack up the love of Jesus Christ. It is a sacrifice that has been given willingly to you, for the forgiveness of your sins, so that you would not be eternally separated from God in a place called hell. Did you know Jesus spoke about hell twice as much as He did about Heaven? He did so for one purpose, so that you would not spend your eternity there.

So, as you are packing up the stockings, the lights, the decorations, and in some cases the holiday cheer; never forget that their is a Savior who willingly laid down His life for you, to call you "friend". Jesus loves you is more than a catch phrase -- it's a truth that we must embrace today in order to be saved tomorrow. Do you know this Jesus? I pray that you do.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
John 10:9-15

Friday, December 25, 2009

What is this Christmas?

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Over the past few days I have been really trying to consider what this season means to me, and to be perfectly honest I have been coming up short trying to find words to fully explain it.

I realize that often times we all celebrate the holidays in different forms and fashions, and some don't celebrate at all - but collectively, what if we could spend time together just being thankful and grateful for what we have been given by the Lord? As many know I am an unashamed follower of Jesus Christ, and as I consider the biblical stories of Jesus and His disciples, the one theme that I constantly see is that they are always in fellowship, not spending time being divided or apart. Even in the most difficult situations, the disciples still managed to come together for a common purpose in serving one another and those they came across; with a focus and sole emphasis on sharing the message of the Lord with everyone they came across.

I wonder, if right now as the world collectively celebrates the birth of our Lord, if we would be so bold as well to join together for one purpose, and that would be to bring one another together. Of course, I'm not talking about having a "we are the world" moment where we start getting all warm and fuzzy and want to hug perfect strangers ... but what if we joined hearts for a common purpose of seeing Jesus Christ truly lifted up so that others could see Him? We all have our different angles on the holidays, and some have different views of exactly how to worship; but never once did I ever see Jesus assign different roles to the disciples to begin the Methodist movement, the Baptist movement, the Catholic movement, etc.

Jesus simply said ,"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

What if we got serious about these two verses and actually practiced it? What if we spent time lifting Jesus up, and telling others about who He is; instead of spending so much time trying to convince one another that our "form of worship" was the right one? How much more could He be glorified in that ... as He should be?

Christmas is not about us, friends. It never has been. It's not about Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, or even Saint Nick. It has nothing to do with our waistbands getting bigger nor does it have anything to do with going to church one of two times a year to "make your appearance". Christmas is about exalting the Christ child, who is the foretold Messiah of Isaiah 9. Can we agree on that friends? Can we lift up the One who matters?

From my home to yours ........ Merry Christmas. I pray that sometime today you would get alone with God and offer Him the worship and praise that He so richly deserves.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Who do you trust?

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So, I've got a little time this afternoon ... so let's run a little checklist from what's happened in the past year, shall we?

- GITMO (prison in Cuba) promised to close ... Still opened -
FAIL
- Iraq war will end ... Still fighting and Americans still dying -
FAIL
- President will allow five days of public comment before signing bills - FAIL
- Afghanistan war will end ... Now surging up to 40,000 more troops - FAIL
- Health Care "Reform" ... Socialism now firmly in place and the beginning signs of a dictatorship have been voted on and approved by the Senate -
FAIL

And my personal favorite:

- Decrease the National Debt ... $12.4 trillion dollars (and climbing) -
FAIL

Hope and Change are coming?
When? Where? I don't know either ...

What I do know, is that this world desperately needs to realize that
Jesus Christ is the only answer that we have ever been given that can be counted on. What we are seeing right now is the beginning of our decline and the birth pains resulting from our national rebellion for decades. God is not playing games with us, and it's high time that we realize that.

Wake up people ... the cross is your ONLY hope of redemption, not the government puppets who are slave to only their own desires.

Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Repent and turn from your ways my friends ... Jesus is the only answer.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Who do you listen too?

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Just a thought to consider this morning:

When we go to the doctor, and he/she tells us that we need to change our lifestyle immediately else we will die, have you ever noticed how fast we go home, clear out the pantry, buy an exercise bike, and quit smoking so that we won't have to hear those words again? But, when the Holy Spirit speaks to us and tell us to change our ways all of a sudden we become deaf and act like it's not meant for us.

So, who's voice are you listening too? Whichever one it is, that is the one that is more important to you. If you believe it you are living it ... If you don't live it, you don't believe it.

Think about it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Right Kind of Help

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The following is taken directly from Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest", devotion on December 20. No additional words are remotely necessary friends ... just read. - TJ

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"And I, if I am lifted up . . . will draw all peoples to Myself" — John 12:32

Very few of us have any understanding of the reason why Jesus Christ died. If sympathy is all that human beings need, then the Cross of Christ is an absurdity and there is absolutely no need for it. What the world needs is not "a little bit of love," but major surgery.

When you find yourself face to face with a person who is spiritually lost, remind yourself of Jesus Christ on the cross. If that person can get to God in any other way, then the Cross of Christ is unnecessary. If you think you are helping lost people with your sympathy and understanding, you are a traitor to Jesus Christ. You must have a right-standing relationship with Him yourself, and pour your life out in helping others in His way— not in a human way that ignores God. The theme of the world’s religion today is to serve in a pleasant, non-confrontational manner.

But our only priority must be to present Jesus Christ crucified— to lift Him up all the time ( see 1 Corinthians 2:2 ). Every belief that is not firmly rooted in the Cross of Christ will lead people astray. If the worker himself believes in Jesus Christ and is trusting in the reality of redemption, his words will be compelling to others. What is extremely important is for the worker’s simple relationship with Jesus Christ to be strong and growing. His usefulness to God depends on that, and that alone.

The calling of a New Testament worker is to expose sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior. Consequently, he cannot always be charming and friendly, but must be willing to be stern to accomplish major surgery. We are sent by God to lift up Jesus Christ, not to give wonderfully beautiful speeches. We must be willing to examine others as deeply as God has examined us. We must also be sharply intent on sensing those Scripture passages that will drive the truth home, and then not be afraid to apply them.

Source: http://www.rbc.org/utmost/index.php (December 20 Devotional)


Friday, December 18, 2009

How bold can you be?

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My Pastor, Bro J.B. Burt, spent some time a number of years ago with Miss Bertha Smith who was a missionary to China for several decades -- and probably one of the greatest heroes of the faith in my opinion (look her up sometime if you have the chance). At our staff dinner, he was telling us of a story that happened to him one day while he was in a prayer session with her and it goes something like this ...

He said that in the middle of the prayer, she said that it was time to stand up and so he thought the prayer time was over. But, out of curiousity he asked why they were standing and this was her answer:

"Well, now we're going to talk to the devil, and the devil will never see me talk to him on my knees ... so I stand up when I rebuke him in prayer."


Wow. I mean ... WOW!!!!!!

Think about the implications of that faith!!!!! Think about the simple act of faith in standing up to the evil one himself and showing him that you shall not bow down to him in prayer. Imagine if more believers caught hold of that and decided that they would take a solid stand for Christ; and that nothing in this world would cause them to bend their knee EXCEPT in the presence of a Holy and Sanctified God?

How much of an impact could we have on our own lives if we were that bold? How amazing would it be to see our own prayer lives transformed in such a way that we were that intimate with the Father, so that we could boldly tell the "father of lies" that he has NO authority and NO power in our lives!?!

Wow ... just wow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's about the Joy

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Well, another week is about to hit the downhill slide and so I thought perhaps I would write a bit about some events that have been going on. Of course, everyone that I know has been preparing for the holidays in one form or fashion, but not everyone I know has really been taking a lot of time to pause and remember just what it is we are celebrating, so I thought I would do that here.

You see, this time of year has nothing to do with Santa Claus, or about the fact that our waist lines might be expanding, or even the desire to peek at a gift to see what so-and-so got us … but it is about celebrating the birth of this world’s Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of talking each Sunday morning in regards to the Advent season, and I actually never really spent much time focusing on the purpose behind Advent, other than knowing some candles were lit to show what each week represented. However, did you know that each week has a theme to it? For example, last week (week 3) discussed the JOY of the Lord, and I found one specific verse that just speaks to me so clearly about JOY. Interestingly enough, this verse comes from Luke 23:43 and it says, “… assuredly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” From the cross, as Jesus was fulfilling the purpose of His birth, he brings JOY to a repentant sinner who willfully cries out for the Lord’s mercy. I had to stop and really consider that. From this painful instrument of death that the Romans used, while Jesus was dying for our sins, He acknowledged that a man needed JOY and PEACE that could only come from God … and it was given to him.

So I ask you, are you involved in giving JOY this holiday season? How about PEACE? Are you focused on the HOPE that this season brings? Are you telling others that there is a WAY for us to have all of these things? Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; and no man comes to the Father accept through me.” As you look upon the celebration of the birth of our Savior, I pray that you would constantly keep this in mind and understand that Jesus was born to die, for you.

Are you willing to give your life to Him? Are you willing to tell someone else about the true reason for the season?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blackberry Curve Announces WiFi

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Warning: "Technology Geek" post dead ahead ...

A few months ago, I left the security of my Blackberry Curve to enter the world of the Palm Pre, and this past Thursday I had to go back. Honestly, the Pre is a "good" phone, but it really has some issues that for me I could not look past. From a tiny keyboard, to the slow response times, to the overall 'buggy issues' that the operating system had -- I just had to return to my Blackberry Curve. Now, the main reason I switched to the Pre was because it had WiFi capability and where we live I can barely send a text without standing outside on one leg holding an antenna in one hand with aluminum foil on my head. Well, let the light shine in because I just read an article today that tells me this is all about to change!

Introducing the Blackberry Curve 8530!


According to the article I read, the "Sprint BlackBerry Curve 8530 was rumored to launch on December 18th, but new information has landed in our inbox indicating that the handset will go live on January 10th of next year (2010). The Curve 8530 will feature the same specs as the 8520, but with the addition of WiFi and BlackBerry 5.0 OS."

So, let me just say "YAY!" to this new information!! Anyway, that's all that is new here -- have a good night everyone.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

People need the Lord

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Everyday, we see this world slipping farther and farther away from the intended plan that God had for us; which was for us to forever live in a place called Paradise and never be separated from Him. We were to have constant fellowship with Him, and be able to rely fully on His provision to meet all of our needs. But, we sinned - and fell from that place to the world we see around us. This is what brought Jesus to this Earth to redeem His Father's creation, and to make us pure in God's eyes.

However, there are millions who have gone to their deaths not knowing about Jesus, and from the day of their deaths until the end of time they will spend eternity in a place called hell -- simply because no one ever told them about Jesus. I want to challenge you today to prayerfully consider what it is that YOU need to do ... and then just DO IT. People need the Lord my friends ... when will WE realize it and reach out to them?




When?

That choice .... is up to you.



Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7, 2009

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Friends, may we NEVER forget the reason we need to constantly defend this GREAT nation of ours. May God bless the families of these men and women always, and may God continue to bless those who RIGHT NOW are defending our freedom. The following images are just 3 small reminders from December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

Above all ... LOVE each other

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Over the past few weeks I have been chewing on a particular verse that I just felt needed to be shared at this time.

1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." When I look at that verse, I see more information there than one could ever express in the course of their natural life. Yet, it's not about your natural life ... it never has been. Our lives our lived today to determine our supernatural life. To determine the life that we will have when our eyes close forever in death from this world and slip into the next.

We are commanded in God's Word to love one another deeply, to have respect and care for one another and to never spend a moment in hatred or raising up animosity for one another. Consider all the hate in this world that exists, why then would we as the Body of Christ have additional hatred or anger for one another? Sure, we get hurt ... I get that. Naturally, we feel resentment towards one another because of this or that. And yes, we may not see things eye to eye and so feathers get ruffled, understood.

But what do all these have in common? They are all OUR emotions being impacted by OUR actions because of OUR choices!!

When you look at the second part of that verse we see that Peter writes that "love covers over a multitude of sins." Let's consider Peter for just a moment. Remember this little jewel he released the night Jesus was arrested? "Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." (Matthew 26:33)

Or, how about this one after Jesus was arrested? "Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about". (Matthew 26:69-70)

But even with all these denials Jesus restores Peter and says that if He loves Him, to "feed His sheep" (see John 21 for the entire reference). If Peter was restored for denying the Savior to His face ....... perhaps there really is hope for us in this world???

Now, I'm not saying that all actions, sins, fights, etc., need to wiped away immediately and forgotten; but through repentance there is an opportunity to be forever changed by the Spirit of God. Let us remember that repentance means that we take action to seek forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and TURN AWAY from the sin. There is nothing we have to offer God that He needs from us, but when we come under the submission of the blood and the obedience of Christ our lives can be forever changed. What a wonderful time of year to come into God's presence, and seek out His Son who so willingly gave His life for yours.

So ............. that's what's on my mind tonight. God bless you.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Emmitt Otter's Jugband Christmas

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You know you remember this!!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Blind Side

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So this afternoon, Lisa, Nicole and I went to see "The Blind Side" and folks, let me tell you that this is the best movie I have seen all year. The entire theater was PACKED, and so was the showing before and there was another line to get in when we left. There is a reason this is doing so well in the theaters, and you need to see it if you have not.

I went from tears to laughing to tears several times throughout, and the acting was just real. It was not fake, it was not pushed, it was just honest and straight forward good entertainment with a tremendous lesson that we need to pay attention to those around us, and when we can reach out to lend a hand.

Now, let me be honest and say that there were a few "situational" areas where some language was present but there were no f-bombs, and absolutely NO nudity -- praise the Lord for that! What there was however, was just real life with real situations in the ghetto where one would expect similar types of conversations to occur. However, the main acting of the movie is either done in a Christian school setting or in a home and so the language was non-existent in those areas.

Let me say though, seeing it today was especially great since ALABAMA beat AUBURN last night in the "Iron Bowl". I tell ya what, when the coach of Tennessee was shown there were "boos" in the theater, when the coach of Georgia was shown, more "boos" were heard, when the coach of Old Miss was shown even more "boos" .... however when Nick Saban was on (even though he was playing his former role as coach of LSU), "cheers" erupted throughout the theater! Woo! I absolutely LOVE me some SEC rivalry! HA HA HA

Back on point though, the movie was just first rate and I would recommend it for anyone over the age of 13. Parents, you can feel OK taking your teens to see this movie .... and I would not steer ya wrong. Thanks for reading and thanks for allowing me to promote this film.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The power of the cross

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Oswald Chambers had a few great statements yesterday (in the November 26 devotional) that I thought were worth examining a bit here and bringing to light some application for this world. Let me be clear first though that I do not believe Oswald Chambers needs to be "amplified" at all (especially by me), but the additional thoughts are just what the Lord was speaking to me as I was reading, and so I thought I would share them with you.

"If you want to know the power of God (that is, the resurrection life of Jesus) in your human flesh, you must dwell on the tragedy of God. Break away from your personal concern over your own spiritual condition, and with a completely open spirit consider the tragedy of God."

Friends, where is our examination of the tragedy of the cross? I have said it for years and I am convinced that we simply do not focus enough on the cross and what it means. Take a look at this world and you'll see why. Everything is about "me", even in the church we have folks showing up asking "how will the Lord bless me ..." and personally I am sick of it. The cross of Calvary is beyond our understanding, but as a challenge we should be focused more on it to try to understand the mind of our Lord and why He would sacrifice His Son on it, for us. We must be willing to attempt to grasp the cross, to attempt the grasp the sacrifice -- and in doing so I believe our lives will be changed forever ... but it must be a life-long journey to comprehend Calvary.

"We have to focus on the great point of spiritual power— the Cross. If we stay in contact with that center of power, its energy is released in our lives."

Wow. The cross is our power. It is what brings to our realization that it is not about us, but it is about what happened on the cross for our sakes. Can you imagine if we were to really plug into the cross how different our lives would be? Could we imagine the change that would happen in our lives if we actually stopped trying to do things ourselves and yet allowed what God has given us to be manifested and to move through us? Let me be clear and unapologetic in saying that we can do nothing without God's authority and power; and I really feel that more pulpits need to have this proclaimed from them. It is not a human thing to bring people into the Kingdom of God, it is a Holy Spirit thing and as soon as we stop thinking we are something to behold, I believe that the cross will begin to have REAL power in our lives.

"The feebleness of the church is being criticized today, and the criticism is justified. One reason for the feebleness is that there has not been this focus on the true center of spiritual power. We have not dwelt enough on the tragedy of Calvary or on the meaning of redemption."

Finally, this just hits it home for me. The church has no power today friends. We have lost the focus that it is about the cross, and in my opinion the cross needs to stop being a decoration on a wall. When will we wake up and see that the work is of God, and we are only vessels who have the honor of participating? I think this starts when we begin to try to comprehend the cross, even though we will never fully understand it. This ought to stir in us the need to continue searching for the understanding, and in this search make us hungry for the mind of God.

So, where is your priority? What do you focus on today? Is it the mystery and the wonder of the cross or is it on something on television or even here on the internet? It's time church to stop being feeble and pay attention to what God has done for you; and not spend all our time trying to do things in "our name". This nation, our city, our town, even our homes will NEVER change until we begin to focus on the power and the authority of the cross.

Wake up church ... wake up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

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This morning I (finally) woke up to the smell of bacon and eggs and immediately I was thankful for the family that the Lord has given me. My beautiful wife Lisa decided to make breakfast this morning (even though we have a big meal to cook later) and it's just those small things that make me thankful for what I have in this world. As we begin to celebrate Thanksgiving (we are having a quiet one this year at home), my mind goes back to past Thanksgivings where times were much tighter, and still there the four of us were pulling ourselves together and ensuring that what was really important ... stayed that way!!

Today as you celebrate Thanksgiving I pray that you take the time to give thanks, and not just in the traditional praise chorus way or even do it flippantly; but really take time to offer thanks for all that you have been given in this world. Personally, I’m thankful for the salvation so freely given to me through a sacrifice at Calvary that I did not deserve or earn; I’m thankful for the wife and children that the Lord has entrusted to me and all that they mean to me; and I’m thankful for the blessed friends that I have made over the past year while we have each been celebrating what Christ has done in our lives.

May the Lord bless you richly today, and always my friends. I would like to say most especially that I cherish each of your friendships, and I am the one who is richly blessed for having you in my life. May God bless you always. Happy Thanksgiving.

Psa 30:12, "... that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever."


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mercy Me in Johnson City, TN

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Most folks know that I am a pretty big Mercy Me fan, and have been following them on tour (more specifically online) for a while now .... as well as live as our family got to see and meet them this year in Montgomery. Well, tonight was the last night of the Fall 2009 tour and they posted a short video on their blog that I really felt was worth sharing. Johnny Diaz and Tenth Avenue North appeared on stage with Mercy Me as back up dancers .... it's just too funny. Check it out!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sanctified

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Note: This post is dedicated to all of my BlogNation friends whom I have met through the online Mercy Me concerts where the Lord continues to do an amazing work. Thank you for our times of worship and edifying the Body of Christ, you are a tremendous encouragement to my life. May the Lord always bless you!!

This afternoon I went for a run on the treadmill, and of course I always enjoy listening to Mercy Me when I run so that was playing. However, about halfway through my run, the Lord began to speak to me through the song “Sanctified”, to the point that I had to play it several times. As I continued running, I was suddenly awestruck by a portion of this song that I have heard dozens of times before. It goes:
No greater love has ever been known,
than He who came to find the lost.
No greater sacrifice has been shown,
than He who laid upon the cross.

Let all creation sing for He has come and He's changed everything!

Sanctified I have been set free,
Grace divine has swept me off my feet.

John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”, and to me I just cannot understand why Jesus would die for someone like me. Why the creator of everything that ever is or was would look at me and say that I was His leaves me without words. There is no greater sacrifice that has ever been shown than to consider the cross and what it means. It is not a piece of jewelry; it is not a symbol at the front of the church; but it means that on that place a man, the very Son of God, laid down His life willingly so that you and I could redeemed. Did you get that? He laid it down. He was not was thrown down, nor was He forced to give it up – but He gave it so that this world might find hope. Amazing …

I confess that there is nothing I could ever do to repay that sacrifice. There is nothing I could ever do to say “thank you” enough to repay Him. Yet, as Jesus was about to be arrested, He is seen praying for those that would come after Him (that would be you and I). He prayed to His Father (recorded in John 17:19), “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” My friend, Jesus knew what He was about to do, and in doing it (laying down His life) He knew that it would not only complete Him, but complete everyone who followed Him.

Tonight I must admit that my heart is simply over-flowing with His love, for which I am so incredibly unworthy. How does one express how thankful they are that on April 19, 1994 Jesus Christ became my personal Lord and Savior and forever changed the course of my life? How could I ever begin to repay someone who willingly died for me, just so that I might be sanctified? This evening I feel swept off my feet, because I know that I belong to Jesus – and there is nothing I could ever do to earn it, but it was a gift given freely to me.

What about you? How do you feel? Sanctified? Free?

Or maybe, imprisoned? You too can be free, if only you would admit that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died for you, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.

Would you?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where does the time go?

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Can anyone tell me ... Where does the time go?

2001:


2009:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pre vs. Blackberry vs. Yours?

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I'm just going to say this for the record: I'm looking at my Palm Pre and my Blackberry sitting side by side on my desk and I am honestly beginning to miss using my Blackberry ... big time.

The Pre is a good phone and all, but really, other than the Wi-Fi option (so I can use it in the house here in the "sticks") I just cannot seem to find anything else spectacular that drives me to the Pre. The photo clarity on the Blackberry was so much better, not too mention I could record video if I wanted too. The support is the same online from both companies and there are loads of communities out there filled with users who will help and argue for or against both; but to be honest right now I am just not sure which is the right phone for me. And oh yeah ... the keyboard was also easier to use with my Fred Flintstone-sized hands and well, I'm just torn right now.

What about you? Is there a particular phone that you prefer?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

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This year, 2009, marks my last Veterans Day that I will spend on active duty and there are so many things to think about that I just do not know where to start. From the brutal attacks on our Nation that started an 8 year war on terror, to the recent shootings in Ft. Hood that make no sense, to the wars of the past that have granted us the freedom we have today ... we have much to honor our veterans for.

We have seen brave men and women willing to sacrifice their lives, and I am caught short of breath wondering what we have done to honor them in return. Veterans Day has nothing to do with taking the day of off, nor is it a day for sales to begin at the stores, but I believe it is a day to thoughtfully spend some time in reflection and prayer and ask the Lord to continue to protect this Nation of ours.

We have much to be thankful for and I wonder if you would accept my challenge to spend ONE HOUR in prayer for our Nation? Would you be willing to ask God to continue to protect us from those who seek to destroy our land and for our soldiers in harms way? I confess that I do not know what the future holds, but I am confident that I know who holds the future. We need to turn back to God and seek His guidance and continued mercy for our Nation.

Joel 2:12 says, "Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Indeed America, we need to return to the Lord with all of our hearts so that He may comfort and lead us in these troubled times we are now facing.

So, are you up to it? Can you spend one hour in prayer on Wednesday?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Another travel week down ....

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This past week has been a real challenge as far as being gone again for work, but I have to admit it really was a great trip. I attended the AF Resource Management Conference and during the week we had some very informative briefings regarding the coming fiscal year for the Air Force; as well as discovering some new and improved ways to do business.

However, I must say that the networking opportunities and chance to hang out with some very old (and a few new) friends really made it all worth it. Nashville is a great city to visit, and I have to admit that being a musician for the last 25 years there is a plethora of music to be heard and to see. Of course, if you happen to be in the right place at the right time you can see some great stars as well such as Big and Rich walking around downtown Nashville as well as some friends of mine met Melissa Gilbert ("Laura" from "Little House on the Prairie") in one of the elevators of our hotel.

At any rate, I have to say that while hanging out with friends is always a great time, it is good to be home and sleep in my own bed again. Actually, come to think about it I am home for 10 nights and then I travel again to DC for more meetings the week before Thanksgiving. Ugh. The lesson here is simple: Enjoy my time home this week and make a REAL effort to not work overtime nor add any time to being apart from my family these next few days.

Here's to hoping your weekend is a good one and you too make an effort to spend some time with your family and enjoy the simpler (but more important) things in life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1, 2009

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Another week has passed us by and I have to admit it was pretty good.

One item I have become acutely aware of is the countdown is really on until I retire from the Air Force. As of today I have 8 months and 29 days left of active duty service, and it is really time to start looking for a new job and getting things prepared for the "next life". I must confess that I am looking forward to officially being retired from the Air Force, but more excited to see what God is going to do next with me. Along the same front I am 17 weeks from completing my Master's degree and to be honest, I am about ready to be finished with school for a while.

I have been chatting a bit with our Pastor about getting involved in some opportunities in ministry at the church. We were talking last night at the Harvest Festival (which by the way was a spectacular outreach event) and I was mentioning how privileged I was to be able to preach for him the last three weeks. He confirmed that I would be doing more in the future and personally, many know that I love to preach so this was a joy to hear and to know I would continue to be used for God's purpose in this church. While I am now certain God is not calling me to pastor at this time, He is telling me that I need to be involved in ministry work and ensuring that I work to help proclaim the Gospel to a world that is in dire need.

You see, it is becoming abundantly clear to me through how God is confirming, that there are some real opportunities to be involved in ministry work right where He has me and I simply need to DIVE IN!! Over the past year I have really seen a change in the way I think about ministry work and I feel that the path God has us on is about to begin something new and rewarding for Him. I confess that I can never counsel or understand the mind of the Lord, but there is a reason why we were brought back to this church and as a family we are feeling more and more comfortable with each passing week. Personally, I just thank the Lord that He is still willing to use even me, for His glory.

Tomorrow I am headed to Nashville to attend a conference for work and am looking forward, even now, to being back home on Friday. Also, speaking of being home this morning we celebrated at church the return of Shon Scott after being deployed for a year and it was really good to see him and his family together at church. God is so good at answering prayers, and we are thankful for His answering this one on behalf of our entire church body.

Anyway, that is about all that is new here. I am praying that God would bless you this week and may you always be on the lookout for chances to share Jesus with someone.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Are you registered to vote?

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At the time this was written, there are only 1,102 days left until the 2012 Presidential election. Are you registered to vote, yet?

http://www.register-vote.com/

Friday, October 30, 2009

You think Halloween is scary? Try the House Health Bill!

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(Credit Sean Hannity newsletter - 30 October 2009)

House Health Bill – A Whopping 1,990 Pages!

The new House health care bill contains almost twice the number of pages than The Bible and weighs more than 5 pounds! The House bill, which was unveiled yesterday, weighs in at a jaw dropping 1,990 pages { Full text of bill can be downloaded here }.

Sean, who perused the massive document this morning, noticed a few important things. “The one important promise Obama gave that you get to keep your health insurance if you want is false,” Sean said. “Go to pages 92 and 18 and you’ll find some frightening language in there that I guarantee you no one in the media is going to pick up on.” Medical devices, such as hearing aids or knee replacements, now come with a 2.5% excise tax. There is also a new tax on health savings accounts and the elimination of non-taxable reimbursements of over the counter medication! “This is great stuff isn’t it?” Sean said sarcastically.

Republican Rep. Joe Barton had the quote of the day when he said the bill is “about four reams of paper” that add up to the American public “getting reamed.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Faithful to the Word?

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Here is a short quote I came across today that I wanted to share with you -- think about it.

"God's Word will never pass away, but looking back to the Old Testament and since the time of Christ, with tears we must say that because of lack of fortitude and faithfulness on the part of God's people, God's Word has many times been allowed to be bent, to conform to the surrounding, passing, changing culture of that moment rather than to stand as the inerrant Word of God judging the form of the world spirit and the surrounding culture of that moment. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, may our children and grandchildren not say that such can be said about us."

Francis A. Schaeffer
http://www.rationalpi.com/theshelter/
The Shelter

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A blood donation

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We had a great day today at the church, most especially working to prepare for Harvest Fest next weekend as well as giving blood to the American Red Cross. We also had a great lunch (Mexican ... mmmmmmm) afterward with some new friends at the church and we are grateful for the invite from Bobby and Leigha to join them.

Curiously enough (and not by intention) while I was donating blood I noticed I was wearing a t-shirt that said, "Just one drop of Jesus' blood washed away my sin". Pretty cool God moment, eh? And so, as I way laying there donating blood I really had to think about the sacrifice that was made on the cross for me, about the blood that was given so that I could live, long before anyone in my family was even thought of being born. Wow. It is indescribable how much that sacrifice means to me, and how much my life would be totally different had Jesus never came into my life. Two verses came to mind today which are:

Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Hebrews 9:22 says, "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

With these two verses in mind, I wanted to say thank you Lord Jesus for loving me enough to give of yourself willingly so that I may be FREE today. I am free because of Christ, and nothing else. I confess that I owe my life, my marriage, my children, and everything I have to that marvelous sacrifice on the cross ... and I am without words tonight considering that truth.

Thank you, Jesus. Good night my friends.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23, 2009

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Well, another week down and I am that much closer to retirement. Yay!

However, let me tell you about this weekend which looks like it's going to be REALLY awesome! (Hmmmmmm, can a 37 yr old use the word "awesome" and not sound like a geek?) Anyway, tomorrow we have a work day at the church to prepare for Harvest Fest next Saturday, and the church is also hosting the American Red Cross tomorrow for a blood drive. To be honest I am looking forward to donating again cause it has been almost a year and a half since I last gave blood.

Then on Sunday we have a great morning at church planned, followed by that afternoon I am hoping to meet up with a great guy (Brody Harper who can be found @ http://www.brodyharper.com) for lunch/coffee, and then that evening we are seeing Mercy Me in concert here at Frazier UMC. Like I said .... "awesome"!!

And so, I'm settling in to watch Criminal Minds (recorded from this week) and want to wrap this up; so I will close with a great quote I read today from Oswald Chambers which said, "But we must learn that God accepts nothing of the old life! Instead of being on the side of our prejudices, He is deliberately removing them from us. It is part of our moral education to see our prejudices put to death by His providence, and to watch how He does it. God pays no respect to anything we bring to Him. There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender."

Think I'll go and chew on that one for a while .... bless you friends.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MEN! Step up and raise your kids!

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Another great night was spent with my son yesterday. When I got home it got me to thinking about being a Dad and why there seems to be more and more cases of children in trouble where men could have/should have intervened long ago? Look, this might just be my rambling (its my blog so I can do that) ... but just because people can have children does not necessarily mean they should. As I've heard for years, any man can make a baby but it takes a real man to be a Dad.

The Bible is very clear that children are not only a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3, "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him."), but that we (as parents) will be held accountable for how those particular children were raised.

Men ... it's time to WAKE up!!

In my opinion, it's well past the time for men today to step forward and actually be men in their families, and we must take the time to raise our children to respect you, respect other adults, respect authority, and stop trying to be their "best friend" or worse, not be anything to them at all. For example, even though my son is 19, 6'3", 240 something & we go out and do things together as often as we can; I think he knows without any doubt that I will still pop the back of his head when he gets out of line -- regardless of the location or time of day.

I am so sick of seeing children in this nation who are for lack of a better word rejected by their father's for whatever reason. If you were in the room when that child was conceived, then step up and stop being a jerk and shirking your responsibilities to raise your children. You will be held accountable for how you raised or failed to raise your children; and in this day and age there are so many kids who need discipline and to be taught how to grow up it is ridiculous. Men, get off your butts and do something, and quit blaming everyone else for your family's problems -- the responsibility rests with you to bring your children up in the way of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.") .... so DO IT!

OK, I'm done now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11, 2009 - Challenging the Church

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This morning we had a wonderful church service where there was a presentation of the Great Commission in a way that was straight forward; without a show or humorous story behind it to water it down. This morning, I saw challenges ... reconciliation ... forgiveness .... and honesty actually demonstrated IN the church. To me, I cannot think of any four things that are MORE relevant to be shown in the church, especially since we are commanded to draw closer to one another as we draw closer to Christ. So, with that some questions came to mind during the drive home today.

- Why do members who simply "attend church" seem to miss these VERY simple things?

- Why is there not more honesty and working with one another for the common purpose (which is to evangelize and make disciples) vice tearing each other apart or being completely fake with one another?

- Why does the song "Stained Glass Masquerade" (by Casting Crowns) so clearly define the norm in churches today and not the exception?

- I wonder if the Apostle Paul could visit our churches today what type of letter would the Lord lead HIM to write?

And so I will say this for the record: Thank you Lord, for leading us to a church where we felt FREE to come home, and that homecoming has led us to be welcomed and challenged to dive back into ministry. I thank you for your continued challenge through the Word, and I ask you to continue whipping our butts and molding us into who YOU want us to be, and not who we THINK we should be.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9, 2009

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Well, we finally made it to another Friday!! I am sure most think I might decide to rant about the Nobel Prize thing .... but well, after contemplating it all day I have really come to the point of asking, "What's the point?" It's over and done with. Whatever.

Tomorrow the family is headed to Windcreek Park here in Alabama to do some ministry/evangelism work with the church; which in my opinion should be an absolute blessing! Looking forward to Monday and taking the day to just relax and veg out, at least that's the plan right now. Also, I was asked this past week to preach during the next three Wednesday night services at church ... and that is REALLY a great thing. Praying that God blesses all that we attempt to do for Him; because serving Him is all that matters in this world.

I pray that your night is a good one, and that you are richly blessed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6, 2009 - A random rant

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So, the lawn mower decided to be difficult this past weekend and now it's in the shop for a few days. And of course, yesterday I had to get a new battery for my truck after being told by a Wal-Mart associate that the battery was fine. Heh ... Did you know that the guy at Auto Zone (who I had re-check my battery on a hunch) actually suggested that Wal-Mart pays its employees in crack because he obviously had no idea what he was talking about? (That was a funny moment though ...)

Then, there is always my favorite news which has the Administration being confused over what to do in Afghanistan; even though every military advisor is clearly spelling it out. Geesh, do the Democrats have a play book or something or do they just read the Nixon memo's for how to screw up the US military? Grrrr!!!

Anyway, yeah ... rant over now. :-)

Monday, October 5, 2009

October 5, 2009

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I gotta post a short note just to say that last night Chris and I had absolutely the best time in Atlanta!! Yeah, I know most folks would be shocked to hear that I still enjoy a Metallica concert now and then (but I can say I don't listen to them routinely anymore); but I've always been a "rock pig on a pizza diet" and one metal concert every 4 or so years is not gonna be the end of life. If anything, it gives me an opportunity to spend what I consider VERY precious time with my 19 year old son whom I know one day is going to move out on his own, and then who knows how much time we'll have. Cast stones if you need too - but I've made my peace with the Lord on this one.

Speaking of good times had and to have .... in less than 2 weeks Chris and I go see Queensryche here in Montgomery and if you have never heard their music, they are really impressive in the lines of story-telling and a group that I have always enjoyed listening too. At the very least, their musicianship is amazing and have always inspired me to play better (for those that do not know I have played drums for the past 25 years). Then, less than two weeks from that date the whole family goes to see Mercy Me here in Montgomery. (Gotta love a busy month where I get to continually spend time with my family!!)

Anyway, that's all the news that fit to print from here at Lake Winnebago ... keep those cards and letters coming!

Friday, October 2, 2009

October 2, 2009 - REVELATION!

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Wow, what an exhausting and yet refreshing week this has been. I totally missed my normal Sunday post this past week, but hopefully this will make up for it. Many have asked what happened at the retreat (most especially with this status that was posted last weekend: "In Illinois at the Men's Retreat & I'm really seeing some things become clearer regarding the ministry -- but, honesty ain't always pretty.") -- and so, here is the answer.

This past weekend I had the blessing of attending a Men's Retreat in Illinois with No Greater Love Ministries (http://www.nogreaterlove.org) and let me tell you I was challenged by what I heard, opened to hearing God speaking to me, and totally plugged in to the power of the Holy Spirit! In a lot of different ways I have been struggling in my ministry to understand where it is that God is calling me, and how He wants me to be used - and I now have direction, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Just about three weeks ago I had an honest and open meeting with a Pastor friend of mine who after a two hour discussion told me that I could get involved in anything I wanted to at the church, and use the talents God gave me for Kingdom outreach. Wow, I cannot remember the last time I had a blank check handed to me, and I simply felt God's urging telling me to "dive in" and attack this opportunity. And so, after the retreat and of course after making sure that it was God I was hearing from, this past Sunday our family re-joined New Vision Baptist Church (http://www.newvisionbaptist.org) which was the first church we were members of when we came to Alabama, prior to being called to pastor at Bethlehem.

When we came up front to ask to be "plugged in", the welcome we received by the congregation was amazing, and we were simply blessed to be "welcomed home", which was said over and over to us.

In the meeting with our Pastor (Rev J.B. Burt) he pretty much told me that he is needing help in Men's Ministries but did not want me to even think about holding breakfasts or setting up grass cutting events or anything that typically comes with this (GET AWAY from the typical Baptist men's stuff was the immediate instruction here).

What he was asking for help in was to first pray, and then come back to discuss how I could be used; and the answer I received from the Lord (during the pre-mentioned retreat) was in discipleship, accountability, and plain out "stop pretending to be a Christian and live it" Men's Ministries; which we also agreed could roll over to Discipleship Training for the entire church. This is one area that as a Pastor, I have seen is so needed in our churches today, and made me really stop and consider how best to challenge others and myself.

So, it sounds like a huge challenge, right?

How can I possibly do this you might ask?

Well, go forward a few days to this past Wednesday night (2 nights ago) where we sat in the evening service and got thrashed by the Holy Spirit to consider the concept of putting on the full armor of God, and quit pretending to be a follower of Christ. The central mission of the message was to GRAB ONTO the "Faith" (mentioned in Galatians 5:22) and actually live it! I tell you what, I sat there practically balling and realized that what I had been missing was ....... ACTUALLY BEING FED so that I COULD work in the ministry!!

I realized that I was starving spiritually and desperately needed to be poured into, not just emptied over and over for others with nothing coming back in return. Oh, how I longed for this and NOW I had discovered through God's revelation and IMMACULATE and PERFECT timing what I was missing and how I could gain strength to do His work!! HALLELUJAH!! For a year now since I left the pulpit I have not been fed, and it is really that simple and I will not mince words on this. Whether through my own fault or there being nothing of substance to feed on (which sadly was often the case), I was in a spiritual wasteland and starving for nourishment! This was the reason for the confusion, and why I was struggling so much; even as a "Reverend" I needed to be FED!!

So, here I sit in my office having had about an hour of quiet worship before God, I am humbled and amazed at how He works. My heart is rejoicing at this moment considering all that He is in my life, and how perfect He is in His timing, and that He is really all I will ever need. We have joined a church that is not only feeding our souls but is preparing, encouraging, and discipling us to work in a way that I never thought was possible. Truly, this verse comes to mind tonight and brings it all into perspective:

Psalm 91:2, "I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

Thank you Lord, for you are my refuge and all that I will ever need. I trust that YOU, God, know the next step, and I look forward to watching YOU move!! I love you Lord, more than even the air in my lungs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20, 2009

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Here we are, another week later and to say that I am exhausted is a complete understatement. After a week of travel to San Antonio full of meetings, discussions, and then two extremely fast vacation days running all over the place to see family I am just whipped. Lisa and I got home about 9:30 last night and everyone woke up with a cold this morning making for a very long, very exhausting day. And so, here are just some random thoughts and notions that I had this week.

- I'm ready for another challenging week of work and looking to dig out from the computer crash a few weeks ago. Man, that still makes my head hurt.

- 19 years ago today I joined the United States Air Force. One (1) more to go folks, one more to go.

- I am really looking forward to the Men's Retreat this weekend (Fri-Sat) in Illinois. This should be an amazing time of refreshing and discussion and another chance to actually get out of the pew and "do the stuff". If you'd like to come with me and are in the area, let me know.

- I found myself taking some inventory this week (as I turn 37 in a few days), and the number one thing I am reminded of is how I stand amazed at how God continues to show me that those whom I call "friend" seem to miss the ultimate example of friendship that we have. John 15:15 records Jesus as saying, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." I wonder aloud, where is that kind of friendship in this world today? Does it still exist?

- Future ministry work continues to become clearer each day and if there is one thing I am certain of, is that God has a plan ... and I am thankful He has moved me out of some situations to teach me what following Christ is really all about.

- I made mention on Facebook last night about the song "My Jesus" by Todd Agnew and how it has really been speaking to me lately. Truly, we have to challenge ourselves and ask, "Which Jesus do you want to follow?" Lord Jesus, who willingly died for me, I want to follow you.

As I close, allow me to offer one final thought: Lord Jesus, help me to follow you and allow the things of this world to truly grow dim; for nothing else matters except Your approval, Your opinion, and Your pleasure as you look at my life. Thank you Jesus, thank you for being my Savior.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13, 2009

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What a busy week this has turned out to be!! I am shocked more and more with the amount of work that this new job is bringing on, and well, it ain't easy trying to get up to speed on 10 years of missed data inside of 2 weeks! Ouch!! At any rate, here's some thoughts to consider from the past week ... my oh my how time flies!

- This weekend I listened to coverage of the DC Tea Party as well as Obama's speech in Minnesota (which he decided was more important than hearing American citizens on his own front lawn). Still wondering if anyone is going to tell him that he's won the election so he can actually LEAD and therefore STOP CAMPAIGNING?!?

- Headed to San Antonio today for another trip of work. Good thing is, I am on leave Thursday and Friday and Lisa will be in town as well and we are visiting family. To be honest, I am DYING for some Taco Cabana breakfast tacos and this week ...... IT IS ON!

- Had a trip this past Mon-Wed to DC for a meeting that never really happened, but at least we were there to ensure our program was spoken for and that nothing bad could be said about us. In all honesty, that was the best part.

- Spent more than 10 hours at work on Thursday and 11 hours on Friday and well, I am still dead tired.

- Sigh ... then ... on Friday my laptop crashed (which is my normal work computer) and took out 5 years worth of data. I had a backup, but had removed it from my removable hard drive to make room for others to use since they were getting new computers; and I never did another one. 5 years, gone. Honestly, it's like my first day at work. PEOPLE - DO A BACKUP AND DO ONE OFTEN!! That is all I can offer here (grumble ... grumble ... grumble).

- Have I mentioned that work is wearing me out? Yeah ... I think you get the picture.

- In other news, I had a great meeting with another Pastor this week and discussed many things as well as some opportunities in their church. Still listening to God to see what He wants us to do, but I do believe things are becoming clearer and with God's leadership and counsel I think we are about to see some real peace in this area. It is my belief 100% that God is in control, and after talking with another brother who is in Iraq (love ya Shon, praying for you) I honestly can see God at work in all things in this church. To be honest I am excited to see God's hand at work and bring about using our family for His glory.

- Next Friday (the 25th) I am headed to Illinois for a Men's Retreat that I just cannot wait for. It is on the book "Courageous Leadership" by Bill Hybels and this sets the tone and the pace for the coming year for No Greater Love Ministries (see: http://www.nogreaterlove.org).

Anyway, enough rambling for now as I can smell that the coffee is ready! Here's to praying that your week would blessed and that you would have the peace of the Lord in all things. God bless you friends and patriots.

"ROLL TIDE ROLL" and "HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO"!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

After tonight's Presidential speech ...

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Well, after listening to tonight's speech by the President .... I must publicly repent for not praying more fervently for our Nation. Believers, we must pray, and we must pay attention!!

Joel 2:12-13 says, ""Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity."

May God have mercy on us.

That is all I can say right now.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lord, grant me restoration.

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I wanted to take the time to share some thoughts with whomever might read this and just say that I am feeling spiritually worn out -- much like I have been taken to the woodshed and back several times. Over the past few weeks I have been reading the book "Courageous Leadership" (by Bill Hybels) and to be honest with you, I needed this book in my ministry 3 years ago. The concepts of church leadership and how to cast a vision that allows a church to grab on is so much more than just a sermon series and hoping/praying that it takes hold. Now, many know about the issues I went through and how defeated I felt, well, I think that cloud is finally lifting (praise the Lord) nearly a year later. Truly "joy comes in the morning" (see Psalm 30:5), but it is by God's calendar and not my own.

The prayer of my heart is that as a servant of Christ I would be restored to the pulpit only AFTER learning more about being an effective leader. I'm hungry, no, let me correct that ... I'm DESPERATELY starving for the Lord's teaching right now. Naturally, I have been asking myself "how can this be done"? The only answer that I can come up with is that it is done by WATCHING other successful leaders "do the stuff". It seems elementary of course, but as a man I have to admit that I don't have all the answers. Am I filled with pride and stuffiness? Admittedly yes, but thankfully Jesus is not done with me. The cry of my soul is that through the Holy Spirit I would be granted a clear vision of what it takes to lead a church, and allow God to work through me as a willing vessel, vice trying to lead and hoping God will bless it. I confess that sort of thinking is not only idiotic; it is un-biblical and will never work.

Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain."

Summarized, it takes the Lord's leading and guidance FIRST in order for anything to happen; and I want to see this verse become a reality in my life. My desire is to have a new heart created in me that brings to my life a vision for the lost of this world; and an understanding that THE CHURCH IS THE ONLY HOPE THIS WORLD WILL EVER HAVE. It's not about the church building, but the church body which lives its life in complete servanthood to the authority of Jesus Christ.

Lord, as I sit in this hotel room tonight I want to meet you, I want to experience you, and I want to see you manifested more in my life. Grant me a willing heart, strengthen my spirit, and allow me to live the rest of my life serving You in what you have called me to do. This is my prayer. This is the cry of my heart. This is my desire.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 6, 2009

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Well, here it is, another week has come and gone and I am actually not believing that it is already September. Time is really flying by and well, I am actually happy about it. So, here are this weekend's closing thoughts and ramblings about the past and coming week for you to chew on. Hopefully, I don't prattle along like a 5 year old.

- The health-care stuff in this nation is getting to be ridiculous; so glad I am part of an "angry mob" where there is a like-minded refusal to be told what to do by talking heads who are drunk with assumed power.

- You ever notice that some of the nicest folks can be found at gas stations along the highway? I have. Say hello to people, you might receive a blessing!

- Went to Huntsville yesterday to perform the wedding for Pete Frambach and Linda Haynes. It was a complete blessing to me to be a part of their joyous day, and one that I will never forget.

- So, after driving up there on Sat and coming back today, I have packed my bag to head to DC tomorrow (yes, on Labor Day) for a 3-day trip. Ugh. Then, I am home for four days and head out again to San Antonio, TX for work. September? What? When?

- I still miss my dog, Lucy. Some days go by uneventful, but others really tear my heart up (like watching football without her at my feet sharing peanuts). Hate that.

- The new job is really taking off and it looks like there are some real challenges ahead as well as some opportunities to to make a difference for the Air Force. Good stuff of course, just real busy with a steep learning curve.

- I've discovered that some shows just put me to sleep no matter what I do to fight it. (Programs on Lifetime are usually the biggest offenders here.)

- My grass really needs to be cut, but I haven't the time nor the energy to get it done. Not too mention the rain we have gotten lately has made it tough to cut, but I ain't complaining.

- School starts up again this week -- 24 short weeks from graduating with my Masters ... finally. Been thinking about signing up for Seminary next year; still rolling it over and debating the pros and cons.

- Lastly, people in this country need to know that there are actually others out there who are part of the human race and care about them. Take the time this week to hug a stranger or just buy someone lunch -- you never know what rewards will come from it because you were willing.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 30, 2009

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Another week has gone by in the journey of life, and we are setting up for a new week ahead. Looking back on this past week I am glad to have gotten through it since I have taken on some new job responsibilities; not too mention dealt with some type of cold or something at the end of the week. So, here are just some random thoughts I've had this weekend while considering the short work week (thanks to a 4 day weekend) ahead.

- Have you ever noticed that there is never a bad time to have pancakes for dinner?

- Why is it that school vice principles actually think the world revolves around them? Honestly, I will never understand this.

- I saw my first restaurant score a perfect 100 on their state health inspection; to say I was impressed is an understatement!

- While reading the book "Courageous Leadership" (by Bill Hybels) I began thinking about different leadership styles and wondering how best to lead a church again. It is definitely something to consider when it comes to the art of leadership.

- Taking a break from this Master's program has actually helped my mind re-focus and put some things in order for me. Only 4 short classes left to go.

- Lisa and I will be travel on Sat to perform a friend's wedding in Huntsville; cannot wait to be a part of their wonderful day! Also, looking forward to spending some time with family as well.

- And oh yeah, did I mention that pancakes for dinner is never a bad thing?

Prayerfully your week will be as blessed and as stress free as possible. Try to consider all that God has done for you, and I think the things that you must do in return may become clear. God bless you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 16, 2009

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Well, aren't I just a day behind on this one? It has really been THAT kind of week around here and well, I guess I will just have to settle with being a day late. So, without any other fanfare here is my SSS for August 16, 2009.

- This was a long week since I was on the road in DC. Lots of meetings and informational fact finding really filled my days. Lots of good places to eat though while we were there, so that was a plus.

- When I got home on Friday Lucy's ashes were on my desk and well, it was a sad day on Friday. I have everything together now to make her little memorial in my office and I will be putting that together in the next few days. It's sad still, and my heart still hurts ... a lot.

- This coming week has a Project Management Boot Camp filling most of it, so there are some definite good things setting up for the future there. I liken the class to drinking from a fire hydrant ... but it is VERY good information.

- I spent some time this weekend wondering why the old movies still make me smile; and then I realized the answer. It's simple entertainment without a bunch of nonsense to clutter things up ... I think I like that idea.

- We visited our old church on Sunday and really felt the presence of the Lord welcome us in. The search continues but there are now 2 churches who have shown some interest in my resume, so we'll continue to wait and see how God moves.

Well, it's short and simple this week -- I hope your week is a blessing. Please (if you do or could) remember my family in prayer. We are going through some things that I don't want to go into detail here but know that we are clinging to the cross for guidance and comfort. Thank you and may God bless you.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 9, 2009

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This week was busy, but I actually got a few things done between work and home that it was not a total waste. So, without much delay or fanfare here is my latest SSS for this week.

- Tomorrow my daughter is officially a sophomore in High School and I still find myself wondering where time goes so fast!! (Love you Niki!)

- Several things have been lining up at work and it looks like some new opportunities might be on the horizon for me. I cannot go into much detail, but prayerfully this will line up some things for after retirement (which by the way is only 13 months away).

- My brother, Tim, packed up his things and went back to NY yesterday (Saturday) – we wish him all the best and pray that he gets exactly what he desires out of life.

- I’m headed to DC (Alexandria actually) for a week of work with my boss and as always, it is a trip to look forward too but there is always LOTS of things to be done. Hopefully, I can get some clarification on a few projects and on the status of items which are in the “Beltway” waiting on approval/coordination.

- We visited another new church today and honestly the Spirit was simply refreshing. We are still visiting churches in the area and looking for a home church, so please continue to remember us in prayer as we follow the Lord’s leading. Never have we felt more in tune to follow His leading, and this time of “pilgrimage” (as I call it) has really brought a sense of renewal to me and our family.

- I received a letter this week from a church here in town that has received my resume and would like to discuss the available Pastor position. I am anxious to see how God works in this situation and I confess that His will being done is all that matters; and so even in my anxiousness I turn it over to Him for leadership and guidance.

Well, that is about it from here. Please be sure to remember Lisa and the kids while I am out of town this week. It is my hope that you have a wonderful week, and I will close with a blessing from Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

August 2, 2009

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I skipped last week’s SSS because I was on vacation, and well there was so much going on in our lives that it just simply took a back seat. So, without further delay here is my edition for this week.

- As most know I had to put my 16 year-old dog, Lucy, to sleep this past Wednesday and truth be told it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Thankfully, God has brought me through and lifted me up (and is continuing to do so), even enough to be able to write a tribute to her in memory: http://tjconwell.blogspot.com/2009/07/i-remember.html I thank you all for your prayers and warm wishes during this time of grief and sorrow in my family.

- School starts this Friday for Nicole (she’s a sophomore now in High School) so everyone is getting ready for that with glee and excitement … Well, everyone except Nicole of course. (HAHAHA)

- Chris will begin his sophomore year in college in about 2 weeks, and it’s such a moment of pride for me to see him being faithful to continue his education.

- Speaking of school, I have only 4 classes left until I finish my Master’s degree, looks like I am on track for a March 2010 graduation.

- Work is work … but at least it is moving forward and things are getting done.

- We are headed to a good friend’s church today to worship and celebrate his recent calling as their Minister of Music. It should be a blessing and a great time of fellowship.

- Our search continues to find a church home, praying that God will continue to guide and direct us as He has always been faithful to do.

Well, that is about it from here. May your Sunday (and your week) be filled with God’s mercy and blessing upon you and your family.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I remember ...

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I remember …

- I remember being in a band in San Antonio and our bass player, Steve, inviting us over for some burgers and chips and to just hang out for an afternoon.

- I remember going to Steve and Leslie’s and seeing this red-dog bouncing all over the yard, so proud of her surroundings and so full of life.

- I remember Steve telling me to ask you to “shake”, and when your paw hit my hand my face lit up and my heart jumped for joy.

- I remember praising you for this simple trick that you have known all your life and I remember my first thought of you thinking, “What a good dog.”

- I remember a few weeks later Steve telling us that he had received orders to DC and they would not be able to take their dogs and I remember thinking, “It sure would be nice to have a good dog like that.”

- I remember talking to Lisa about it and us going over to “meet you” one Sat afternoon to see if Lisa and you would get along and I remember thinking, “I sure hope they like each other.”

- I remember Lisa saying, “Yes” … and my heart once again leaping for joy.

- I remember the day you came home. It was raining out, and you tracked paw prints all over the beige carpet and I remember thinking, “It’s just a little dirt, it’ll be ok.”

- I remember you walking around the house, sniffing your new surroundings and I remember thinking, “My home is complete”.



- I remember our first few nights and that stupid cat next door sitting on the fence and the reflection on our bedroom blinds sending you into orbit. I remember thinking that “you and I should hide that cat!”

- I remember finding out that you liked to play fetch and that 12 inch piece of rope with two knots on it was our favorite toy in the back yard.

- I remember playing tug of war, hiding it from you and you finding it, and I remember you always bringing it back to me with that grin of yours on your face.

- I remember you running through the yard and how I used to comment that you “looked like a reindeer” because you pranced when you got up to a fast running speed.

- I remember those rough storms in Texas and how you always slept by my side of the bed, sometimes sitting up at the slightest noise and letting me know that you were watching.

- I remember having some rough times in our family and yet you still looked at me and loved me, reassuring me that you would always be there.



- I remember our move to Wichita Falls and how you walked around the new house cautiously, sniffing each crevice and room, almost inspecting it for all of us.

- I remember you sitting down on the living floor while we unpacked almost like you were relaxing and calling this place yours.

- I remember the couple of moves we had in Texas actually, and how each time how you’d look over the house and ensure it was good enough for us.

- I remember when we moved on base at Sheppard and Buffy joined our family how you seem to show her a few things, and then that was about all you had to do with her.

- I remember our family enjoying the new puppy and how you seemed to just watch her from a distance, but still you immediately responded to my voice when I called.

- I remember our first real vacation when I had to kennel you for a week, and that look on your face was so sad, almost asking, “What did I do, Daddy?” And I remembered when we got back you ran into my arms and wouldn’t stop licking me.

- I remember telling you that “I would never kennel you in that place again,” and I kept that promise because you just did not seem happy there.



- I remember our move to Alabama when you slept in the car the whole way, and how much you hated the hotel we stayed in. I don’t think you slept at all that night because each time I opened my eyes you were sitting up watching the door. I remember thinking, “what a good dog.”

- I remember meeting our new vet on Cobbs Ford Road and thinking to myself that we have finally found a place that is trustworthy and loves my dogs.

- I remember having to kennel you there when we went on vacation and how you simply went with the technicians, leading Buffy all the way and of course how excited you were when I came to get you.

- I remember everyone there telling me “what a good dog you are” and how lucky we are to have you. I agreed … I was the one who was always lucky to have you.

- I remember bringing you to the house we bought in Alabama and once again you inspected, sniffed, and gave it your seal of approval by laying down on the carpet in the living room and smiling at me.

- I remember your first trip outside, bounding down the stairs to sniff the yard, and making sure it was going to be good enough for you.



- I remember the countless nights from Texas to Alabama you would always sit at my feet while I worked on school, or sermons, or whatever the case may be and you never asked for anything; but when I reached down to pet you how you always jumped up to meet me.

- I remember sharing my dry roasted peanuts with you every time and how much you enjoyed this special treat. I remember thinking to myself, “what a good dog,” and being amazed at how loyal and patient you were sitting at my feet, licking your lips.

- I remember how Lisa would hear a noise in the middle of the night and her waking me up to investigate; and my assurance that it was nothing because my good dog would’ve let me know if there was anything to worry about.

- I remember every night or every morning getting up to go to the bathroom and being careful not to trip, because you were right there by my side of the bed.



- I remember packing for trips to go on for work and how you would always position yourself between me and my suitcase as if to stop me from packing.

- I remember always thinking “what a good dog”, how lucky I was that even though you didn’t want me to leave, that you still loved me.

- I remember you huffing and puffing while I would pack – but I remember the licks and the kisses before I left on each trip and as soon as I got back.

- I remember, and I think I will miss that the most.



- I remember your health beginning to decline and how we continued to try every medicine we could, and how you took your medicine in peanut butter even though I think you knew what it was and that it would not work.

- I remember the day the vet told me that “It was time”, and how my heart sank into my chest and how lonely I suddenly felt.

- I remember the next day making the appointment to say goodbye, and how much I hated every second of it even though it was going to be the right thing to do for you.

- I remember wondering if you would still love me because I had too, and then when I got home from work that day you smiled and licked me and I was grateful.

- I remember us having peanuts that evening, and my deciding that I would take “the day” off from work and we would go and do “everything” together.



- I remember waking up this morning and thinking that today you are the MOST important thing in my world.

- I remember packing food and water and getting you all ready to go out, and taking off that plastic cone you hated seemed to just liberate you; and you once again had that spring in your step and that smile on your face.

- I remember taking you to McDonald's for lunch (chicken nuggets and fries), and then going for walks at two different parks sharing peanuts together, and talking to you all the while my friend would look up and listen, and nod her head as I talked.

- I remember driving all over the city, and even driving up to our old church where you went with me many times to check on things and walk around the property together.

- I remember never wanting the drive to end, petting you and talking to you about everything I was feeling, both good and bad.

- I remember going home and hating that this would be your last time at our home.

- I remember watching the kids love on you and pet you - taking pictures with you and just being goofy all the while you would smile, shake their hand, and naturally they smiled back.

- I remember even Buffy and Kiki being extra playful with you, and not wanting to leave your side.

- I remember taking you to the car for one last car ride and Chris riding with us; all the while I was trying to be strong and try to not let you pick up on my anxiety.

- I remember the whole drive to the vet's office feeding you more dry roasted peanuts .... because you loved them so.

- I remember standing outside of the vet's office trying to rationalize this decision with myself and you instinctively trying to go inside cause that is what you have always done.



- I remember Lisa telling me that they were ready for you, and how my heart just broke. How I walked into that room with you following so faithfully I have no idea.

- I remember Dr. Ousley and her technician being so kind and gentle as they have always been, giving you a sedative to relax you and me getting to spend some private time with you while you got sleepy.

- I remember waiting in that room with you for them to come back, petting you and kissing you - the whole time asking God to take care of you, and praying that one day we would meet again where you would be as happy to see me as I would be you.

- I remember the medicine going in and you continuing to lick your nose, all the while your head resting on my leg as you had always done in our living room or in our bedroom.

- I remember your final breath and my words to you were of gratitude, thanking you for being my good dog ... and for loving me even though there were times that maybe I was not too lovable.

- I remember kissing you goodbye on the cheek, and leaving the office for the first time without you, and without a part of myself.



I remember, Lucy Ball Conwell. I will always remember and I will always love you.

Rest now my good dog.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
 

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