Friday, December 30, 2011

early morning study

Up at 5 am to join other men for a walk through Ephesians. We have been wading through Ephesians since the end of October. I still marvel at the story of scripture and its impact on our lives. The joy of seeing men commit to a study like this that happens in the early morning hours is incredible.

I am honored and humbled that I get to share the glory of Christ in the early morning hours.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Heaven meets earth. Hope arrives in a world of despair. Light overwhelms darkness. Love journeys to a land of pain and in a single act reminds us that God is greater. Greater than anything, anyone, any place, any anything. A baby that truly changed everything. Mary Christmas! A teen girl looking into the eyes of God, loving the baby and worshiping the Savior all at once. Mary Christmas!

Hope to the hopeless. Life to the lifeless. He is and always will be the reigning King of a kingdom beyond this world. Peace to a world of turmoil. Mary Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


It cracks me up when we as humans (flawed) decide we are the smartest in the room and have the solution to most every situation. I am guilty, and it just cracks me up when I look back and see what I make myself out to be. Not that I don't have answers and thoughts, just the arrogance that I am the way. Seems Jesus used that title for himself.

Friday, December 16, 2011

selling Jesus

I love this tweet from Relevant Magazine... "The Church is at its best when our efforts are focused less on selling Jesus and more on being like him"....

God is out for the transformation of our life into His image, not the marketing of counterfeit hope in trinkets and sin management.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

first for GCC

This past Sunday, we celebrated our first baptisms as a church. A wonderful time of celebrating God's work and bearing witness to the hope we have in Christ. I love the simplicity of loving God and loving others without trying to legislate every move. The Holy Spirit is an amazing guide that leads us where we need to go and how we need to proceed.

As a church we are seeking to live as Christ would in a world that needs love, mercy and grace. We placed before the church the names of four couples that are willing to serve as Shepherds. The Church is praying for them and about them. Our first Shepherding group will be ordained the second Sunday of January 2012. Wow! These are great "firsts" for us as a body!

Monday, December 5, 2011

another anniversary

This past Sunday marked a full year since we did our first preview service to explore the possibility of planting a church. I flew out here last year to look things over, talk with people and see what would happen if we were to plant. I can remember walking in the Sierra Building at the Gold Country Fairgrounds and wondering if anyone would show up. We hadn't advertised and only the Core Group were talking about it.

We found a worship leader with a few days to spare and did a very simple service. From that first preview day up to today, God has allowed us to minister to people from this area. I was amazed that almost ninety showed up that day and even more amazed at the amount I see each Sunday now. I say amount because I have no idea how many are there because I don't count. Our desire is to be a church not focused butts and budgets. We are following a relational discipleship model that enables and equips people for ministry.

A year later we aren't doing preview services. We are inviting people into a worship experience that encourages them to live the way of Christ every day and to love others passionately. We are witnessing what so many have prayed for! We are living life and loving it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

thanks expressed in giving

It is amazing how Thanksgiving is lived out.  There is traveling, cooking, eating, watching, visiting, sharing, talking, walking, planning, implementing, and a gazillion other ings.  One of my favorite is the art of giving.  So many give themselves to serve and help others as well as give food and money to provide for those who are in need.

Thanksgiving has become more known for the day before Black Friday sales than for an appreciation of our blessings, which by the way we have many.  Giving is an expression of thanks.  Giving is a way of telling and showing a heart of gratitude for what really matters.  I have been scanning the news feeds tonight reading of people getting assaulted while shopping on black Friday.  Really?  We have reduced ourselves down to pepper spray as an advantage to get an extra game, gadget or deal?

Our hearts are getting more and more consumed with food that doesn't satisfy and gifts that don't give back.  I desire to have a giving spirit.  I desire to give God my thanks while giving myself to serving others with the love of Christ.  How do you define thanksgiving in your own life?  I'm hopeful it is expressed in giving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

fairy tales and crutches

So much of what we do is about meeting people.  We get to meet people from all walks of life and dispositions.  We meet those who have some belief in God, those who have a fair amount of belief and those who believe God is a fairy tale.  I met such a man a few days ago.

A man I have become good friends with has treated me to some rounds of golf and great conversation.  He is a former navy seal who has known his share of pain.  He is also a man of faith.  We played golf the other day with a friend of his who has no belief in, nor use for God.  It was fun visiting with him and hearing about his life and family.  I will confess though that I left feeling very sad.

His foundation for everything is belief that science explains everything and it is a cosmic mishap that brought us into being.  He has obviously been spoken to harshly by some along his past.  His demand that I need a crutch and have bought into a fairy tale was sad.  The world around us speaks of the intricacy of life and design of a creative God.  Their is great complexity and beauty all around.  In my humble opinion, far too much complexity and beauty for God to be a fairy tale.

I realize there is great mystery and things beyond my comprehension.  I don't fathom all the details of genetics nor bio-chemistry.  What I do understand is that in my life, God is the only answer to what I see as well as what I don't understand.  Scripture declares that the creation cries out of the glory of God.  By the way, I don't need a crutch, I need a savior.  His name is Jesus!  And that is no  fairy tale!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

that time of year

Well it is nearing that time of year.  The time of year where stores bypass one holiday to get to another.  Where marketing gurus and advertisers come up with every way possible to get our attention.  The season where churches market Jesus and make sure people know "they" have the best angle.  We are nearing that time of year I dread.  

I love the attitude of giving and sharing, family, friends, and welcoming new people in our lives.  I want for my heart to not get lost in marketing and advertising.  I am hopeful that I enjoy with joy the season of thanksgiving and Advent.  The joy of sharing with another a cup of coffee and bread brings a smile to my heart.  How can we break the mold of "marketing" Jesus and just simply live out the joy of the Incarnate Christ within us?

Let's live thankfully by sharing gratefully!

Monday, November 7, 2011

fried mind

I am coming off a really incredible weekend.  I had a great time with my men's bible study friday morning and then headed up to Camp Alta for the Bridgeway Men's retreat.  I thoroughly enjoyed being with this great group of guys.  I spoke four times on the theme "leaving there".  They jumped right in with the metaphor and wow the Spirit of God was so evident.  The group that led worship did a great job of engaging the men's hearts.
We were able to take a few hours on Saturday afternoon and play a game of "has been" football.  With temps in the low 40's and a little snow, it made for a kid like atmosphere.  I am delighted to say I didn't re-injure nor injure anything.
After my last lesson Sunday morning at the retreat, I jumped in my vehicle and headed down the hill to preach at GCC.  I arrived just in time to witness Jim Lunetta redeem "Joe Cocker's" you are so beautiful... WOW, what a great song to have everyone engage before you speak.  I was even more blessed before speaking as Phil Boyte spoke of the miracle of his sister's recovery from a heart attack.
I will admit my mind was fried from a weekend of speaking.  I don't know that a six lesson weekend is a wise thing, but it was amazing, fried mind and all!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the six week lesson

It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.  The blessed six lesson week.  I am honored to be doing a men's retreat for the Bridgeway Church this weekend.  I only know a few guys from this church so it will be a great opportunity to meet new people and share the story of Christ in my life.  That is fun, but challenging.  This is a large church with a really good teaching Pastor so they are used to good material.  Over the weekend I will share with them four times and I am really excited about that.  Before heading up the hill to the possibility of a snow covered retreat facility, I am leading my new men's bible study on the book of Ephesians.  This is our second week and I am loving this opportunity.  The sixth lesson of the weekend is for GCC.  I will speak at 9am Sunday morning for the retreat then drive down the hill to E. V. Cain and share with our church.

My mind is running in all directions and at this point the file folders are more than a little unorganized.  I am thinking through the material and praying for a divine movement of the Holy Spirit to make sense of it all.  Oh and the Saturday evening session of the retreat is in the middle of the Alabama vs LSU football game.  What was I thinking???  Oh well, the six lesson week will be fun and exhausting.  Prayers gladly welcome!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


So much fun this morning at GCC!  Gregg Redmond put together a very diverse group to lead worship today and it was just amazing.  The Spirit of God was overwhelming and what an amazing sight to see a gym full of people worshiping the Risen King!  Wow!

There are those moments when we recognize it isn't about us and we abandon everything but God.  When we experience those times it is so refreshing and convicting.  Crazy how we love those moments but even more crazy that we keep trying to make life about us which keeps us from those moments.

Looking forward to more of what we experienced today!  Wow!

Monday, October 24, 2011

what a year

This past weekend marked the year anniversary since Jennifer and I felt God's leading to plant a church in Northern California.  We returned to Birmingham and met with our leadership to seek their guidance and prayers.  Two and half months later we felt the confirmation to make the move.

We began an incredible journey that has taken us over twenty five hundred miles from our families, resigning a church we had been through major change with, walking away from a comfortable salary and really good friends.  Tonight we sit in the midst of a move of God in Northern California.  We have made and are making good friends and have been given the opportunity to invest in the lives of people in Auburn California.  Who would have thought it possible????

God is so good and faithful.  The transition has been relatively smooth and we are most definitely busy ministering.  I am working with/ married to the most beautiful, Spirit filled woman imaginable.  I am humbled and amazed at this new season of our life, but even more expectant at how God will work next.

The events of this past year have happened at warp speed with no sign that they will slow down now.  My friend Larry Espedal messaged me the other day with a great sentiment about our lives...  He said, "Let's spend the rest of our days swinging for the fence"...  Oh man am I ever in Larry.

October 23 Gold Country Church Sermon - “Thirty Days to Live”

October 23 Sermon - " Thirty Days to Live "
October 23 Sermon – “Thirty Days to Live” - Craig Kelley

October 16 Gold Country Church Sermon - “Thirty Days to Live”

October 16 Sermon - "Thirty Days to Live"
October 16 Sermon – “Thirty Days to Live” - Craig Kelley

Monday, October 17, 2011

another amazing weekend

Jennifer and I love working with the Tres Dias Community both in Birmingham and Northern California.  This past weekend we had another amazing weekend.  It is a great environment when we don't make it about a slant of Christianity nor a particular set of practices, but rather focus on the one thing that matters.  The one thing: Jesus Christ!
I love witnessing unity, grace, love and service.  The Holy Spirit speaking into men's lives and bringing a greater awareness of the Kingdom of God.  The hope now is that legalism nor apathy will set in.  The opportunity to live out the grace of God daily, moment by moment is right before us.  Each day is an opportunity to live differently in a world that needs a fresh expression of love.

Monday, October 10, 2011

we are nearing an anniversary

Hard to believe this time last year we were getting everything ready to come to Northern California from Birmingham to help with the first Northern California Tres Dias weekend.  Jennifer and I brought our three little guys (3 yrs old last year) for a eventful ten day trip.  It was in the course of that ten days that God laid on our hearts to consider moving to Northern California and planting a church.  To say the least this will not be a anniversary that will slip by.  Now a year later we are in the midst of our seventh month of a new church, in a new city, in a new state.
And this week starts Northern California Tres Dias retreat #3.  How can it already be a full year?  So much has changed and happened in the past year.  We have left behind the familiar and been left by the familiar and at the same time embraced by the new and watching God do what only He can do.  So, Happy Anniversary to Jennifer and I for the opening of a new adventure in the lives of the Kelley family... What a year!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the week ahead

Jennifer left this morning to attend the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta.  We have made that trip for nine years, but this time I am sitting out.  With so much happening here in Northern Cal I need to be here.  This will be a great time for Jennifer to be challenged Spiritually and be away from her mom duties.  I on the other hand am taking on those mom duties for the next four days.  Lord help us all!

So how much trouble can six guys get into without the wife/ mother in town to monitor?  Should be interesting... anyway, the week ahead will be fun and exhausting.  Such is the life when you are blessed with this many kids!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Well GCC survived their first day of me talking about our Shepherding model of Leadership.  The response was positive and it presented many opportunities to pray over people today.  The thing that was really exciting was seeing different groups of people gathering together and praying over situations and people in need.  I was honored to pray over several as was my fellow Pastor Mike.

The desire we have is to provide safe pasture for people to explore faith, find healing, and connect with other believers.  Safe pasture means:
    relationships with fellow believers are deep and restorative
 worship flows, not from techniques but from hearts communing with God 

  the Gospel’s promises are not carrots used to attract people, but experienced realities that bring hope
Jesus, the Great Shepherd, shows up in Transformative ways that the corporate ceo approach can’t produce             
  we are authentic, transparent, and committed to loving our community as we first love the God who formed and     
  redeemed us
God is doing a great work here in Auburn CA.  The challenge is to not get in HiS way and quench the Spirit's work!

Friday, September 23, 2011


One of the toughest tasks for me in this church plant is in developing church leadership.  It is among the biggest decisions that need to be made.  As a process, we are in the early stages.  Seven months in to the plant, we are now at the early stages of sharing with the church our view of church leadership.  This Sunday I will talk about a Shepherding model of leading.  It is a very different view from what most have experienced with a CEO model or a board of directors.

Shepherding is the biblical picture of providing nurture, care, teaching, reconciliation, Spiritual feeding, prayer, and other relational ministry characteristics for the church.  I am hopeful of what this model will facilitate in Northern California as we live it out.  Of course as with anything, it has everything to do with how our people respond to the implications of the gospel.

God is doing an amazing work here in the foothills.   Relationships are being restored, ministry is happening as people love on others, sacrificial service is being poured out, and people are gathering together to study and pray.  It is a time for Leadership to enhance, not get in the way.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today marked a pivotal moment in time for our nation.  But there have been many "anniversaries" that are marked with pain and loss.  Pearl Harbor, War in general for that matter, Kennedy's assassination, Space Shuttle Challenger exploding on ascent and Space Shuttle Columbia breaking up on descent from space, Columbine school shooting, Hurricanes and Tornadoes, and the list goes on and on.  We have a history of momentous events that changed the lives of many.  There are also the individual anniversaries that are hard to deal with.  The loss of loved ones, health issues, divorces, and the list goes on and on.  That is not to be trite, but just the reality that life happens hard and fast.
Remembering can be difficult, but also healing.  We need to remember more the presence of God in our adversity.  We need to remember the love He poured out and the work He is doing within us.  We need to remember that He hasn't abandoned us.  Our lives are under constant attack, but God, who is rich in mercy,  is at work to transform us.  

I will remember today for a whole new set of reasons.  Today was our first 9/11 in California.  We had an incredible worship time at GCC.  Rick Turton surrendered his life and named Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior.  God showed up and reminded me how he has overcome in my life.  And the list goes on and on....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

first California wedding

Well it had to happen sooner or later; my first California wedding.  I was helping a friend out and conducted a sight unseen wedding.  I prefer to know the couple and work with them through premarital counseling.  As I said I was helping out a friend.

You know it is going to be an interesting wedding when the bride hands you a two page document and says, "don't say anything that is not on my sheet".  By the way, they wanted to use the term "holy matrimony", but didn't want God mentioned.  I am not quite sure how that works.  I failed in that by the way.  I kept mentioning God and therefor said what wasn't on her sheet.  I probably won't get invited back to do another for her.

Oh well......

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

old and new

I wrote about being in Los Angeles last week with my good friend Dr. Al B. Sutton Jr. while he preached.  Today I received a message from a long time friend that he and Dr. Sutton sat together on a flight from New Orleans to Birmingham.  I love when friends of mine connect with each other in odd and strange places.  I love it even more when they really connect and see the strength and gifts in each other.  Though they live over fifteen hundred miles apart, the enjoyed an afternoon of conversation.

Isn't that the way it is with the Kingdom of God.  The world is small and only God is big!  When we open ourselves up to get to know the stranger next to us they may in fact quickly become a friend.  I realize we all like to have quiet moments and to get work done on flights.  I also realize that at times we even sit next to people who don't want to be bothered.  But what a mysterious and beautiful thing to engage another valuable human being in conversation and enrich ourselves with their life.

That was the case today with my two friends who had never met.  They are now aware of each other's ministry and family.  Such a wonderful turn of events.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to embrace new people into our lives.  What blessing are you going to experience by being open to a random conversation?  You never know what connections may occur when you do.

Monday, August 29, 2011

California cook out

Last night was fun.  We hosted GCC for a cookout.  The sight of all those new friends gathered on the lawn was a beautiful picture.  There were new friendships formed among the crowd and of course many others reconnected with people they have seen in a while.  I had a person tell me they got to visit with someone they have seen in over twenty five years.  That alone was a great reason to host the cookout.

As we continue the ministry of this church plant, activities like this will continue to be a focus.  The atmosphere created over good food and welcoming new people into our lives is so rich.  As I moved around and greeted people there was a continuous spirit of laughter and joy.  What a great evening!  We even offered a little southern sampling last night.  Along with burgers and hotdogs, we offered up boiled shrimp and hush puppies... Always good to have a little southern flavor.  I even wore an old tank top with stains for dramatic effect.

Looking forward to the next California cook out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the Kingdom and friends

I have been visiting with a friend of mine who is out in California preaching for a church in LA.  Aside from it just being fun being with Dr. Al Sutton, it is also an incredible experience.  I am enjoying an entirely different worship experience and making new friends.  The whole experience is a good reminder of how big the Kingdom of God is and the importance of remaining connected to friends.

Dr. Sutton is the Pastor of Living Stones Temple in Birmingham AL.  I have been blessed by our friendship as well as the occasions we have ministered together.  I watched and listened last night as he masterfully walked through Psalm 37.  One of his statements has really hit me.  "Just because God is delayed doesn't mean you have been denied".  The work of God is always on His time and pace.  He will fulfill his work in His time and according to His plan.

Dr. Sutton's lesson last night gave people hope.  I saw an explosion of joy and worship.  I am looking forward to tonight as we experience round two.  Take some time and reflect on your view of the Kingdom of God and the friends who bless your life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spiritual Battle

For our battle is not against flesh and blood.  I am becoming more and more aware of the battle we are really in.  The war within and around us does not stop and is constantly drawing us into frustration.  The Ephesian 6 passage above reminds us that our struggle isn't with people; however, we tend to fight like it is.  The principalities and powers that we battle against bait us into turning on each other.  Many find talk of such a battle as preposterous or nonsense and yet everyday the enemy assaults our relationships with deceitful tactics.  Husbands and wives blame each other and ignore the root of the sin that is separating them.  Parents and kids pull further and further apart and the real enemy sits back and watches the destruction.

As a people of faith we need to turn our prayers and efforts into recognizing we are fighting the wrong battle.  We waste time destroying other humans as if they are the enemy.  Scripture says they are victims of the real enemy and the power to defeat them is the humble fervent prayer of Spirit filled believers.  I have been drawn further to my knees as the battle all around rages.  Will you join me in recognizing our desperate need to battle not against flesh and blood, but rather principalities and powers?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

staying focused

You see it with running quite often.  Athletics in general is a field in which it is a struggle.  After lunch work projects as well as a million plus other things all have in common the struggle with staying focused on the the task at hand.  Whether it is fatigue, boredom, lack of interest, or any number of other valid reasons, focus at times is elusive.  I am reminded of that right now.  I am supposed to be focusing on finishing a message for this Sunday, but my mind is distracted.

I am distracted by hurt in the lives of people I care about.  I am distracted by the regret of things undone and things that shouldn't have been done.  I am distracted by monotony of being in a office alone.  But it is fair to say I would be more distracted were I at home with a house full of boys. Side note.  Ah I am distracted by what distracts me.

I have a gazillion things to do and at this point they won't get done.  I don't necessarily fret over that because what is most important to me are the relationships with people we are meeting.  I am thinking in my own life sometimes my focus is so set on the wrong things that I get aggravated when I am distracted by people.  Ah but people are what really matter.  So there is a positive slant to being distracted.  We can't allow ourselves to be so focused we miss out on the people who need us most.  I want to stay focused on that.

Last night we had dinner with new friends and what I heard from one of them was this, "I love this new church because it isn't about stuff, and big buildings, it is just real and people care".  Not a word for word quote, but close.  Wow!  I asked that person to hold leadership accountable in remaining that way. To keep us focused on what matters most.  Exalting Christ and connecting people!

What are you focused on?

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Oliver Twist dared to do the unspeakable.  He asked for more.  For a child that is hungry and wants to be full, it is really all you can do.  As I sit here in Northern California, surrounded by the wonder of God's creation and the challenges that today brings, I can't help but ask myself what I really want more of.  Deep inside I want to be able to say that I want more of God.  Even saying that I feel like a phony.  After all, if I really want more of God isn't it right there for the asking?  I know the answer to that, I think.  But it is still the question.  Do I really want more of God?  And If I really do, what am I willing to leave behind to receive more?

The whole discussion seems to be a matter of desire.  If I truly desire to more in tune with His will for my life then what does that mean in my daily decisions.  Some will see this and turn away thinking it is a discussion about doing more, or some system of items I just obey.  I would turn away from that as well.  The essence comes down to "being".  I mean by that it is the work of God in my life before I try and do the work of God.  It means being transformed, refined, molded by the love of God in the deep places of my life.  That what I do is an expression of who I am becoming in Christ.  Yes we "do" things for God, but not before He "does" things in us.  Which leads me back to the question of the day.  Do I really want more of God?  Yes.  I want to be more in His presence, His will, and His image.   May today I "be" in the presence of God intentionally so that He can "do" His work in me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

last leg

For all that Kansas wasn't, Colorado and Wyoming more than made up.  It has been four years since I drove in Colorado and Wyoming.  That came when I joined four friends and we spent a week rustling cattle and avoiding low hanging door ways.  Driving by the exit for Hanna Wyoming brought back memories of an amazing trip with great friends.

The scenery across Colorado and Wyoming are masterful works of art.  The hand of God is displayed everywhere you look.  As we neared Salt Lake City Utah, (in the darkness) I was reminded we were only one day from being home.  This has been a good trip.  There have been those moments of temporary insanity, but all in all we have done well.  I am not superstitious so I am saying that before we begin todays travel.

On the last leg of our journey today we have the Nevada desert laying before us.  I am initially thinking Kansas like thoughts, but will reserve judgement until we pass into California.  Either way, we are nearing home.  Our journey has taken us over many miles.  We have been blessed by getting to see many friends.  We saw Don and Kelli Gilliam as we passed through Montgomery Alabama.  We were able to visit with the Koski family in Birmingham. Of course we spent time with George and Dana Welty and the White Station youth ministry while at camp in Tennessee.  In Denver we were blessed by our time with Wade and Dara Gardner.  Seeing my family and Jennifer's family along with friends has made the trip special.

No matter how far you travel, friends and family make the time special.  As we approach the last leg of our return, Jennifer and I both are looking forward to seeing our new friends and what God has in store.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


We are now on our way back home to Northern California.  I was extremely blessed being at Camp with the White Station teens and adults.  Of all the camps I have done, White Station does it extremely well.  There is an amazing flow of Spiritual desire and fun that are woven together for a very experiential time of Spirit Formation.

The worship is intense.  There is no air condition nor padded seats to settle you in.  They battle the heat along with other distractions but always seem to come back to honoring the fame and renown of GOD.  I am allowed and expected to bring Spiritual meat to the table.  Each night, just when you think the campers have reached their limit, they draw deeper into the flow of God's Spirit and shake the rafters.  I also love the fact that adults from the church are moving around laying hands and praying over the campers.  Of course, several of the teens were praying over them as well.

With nothing but road before us, it has given me time to reflect, praise God, and pray.  I will say that I am doing that with my eyes opened for those who are already concerned about my driving ability.  We spent last night in Kansas City and are now departing for Colorado.  On a positive note, I only heard Parker ask "are we there yet" about fifty times.  Jon just wanted to know when we were stopping to eat.  All in all, we are off to a good start.  Thanks for the prayers as we travel.  I am looking forward to being back in Gold Country and continuing our journey of building community.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


We are beginning week two of our Kelley family adventure.  This week though Jennifer is at her parents with the little boys and I am speaking at a teen camp.  This is my second year to speak for the Church at White Station out of Memphis.  Their teen camp is very well run.  I love the interaction I see between adults and students as both lean in to the word and will of God.

I have been tasked with speaking on the theme of "both/and".  Jesus is both Savior and Lord.  It is a continuous challenge to find creative ways to connect the story of scripture with teens who live in a techno world. As I have been thinking through the saving work of God, I continue to be humbled by the overwhelming presence of HIS complete love.  But like most, the challenge for me is to remain in the presence of Christ the Lord.  I love being reminded He has saved me.  I don't always like being reminded He is Lord.  That His will is perfect. His way is the way.  I struggle with going my own way and doing my own thing.

These past seven months of transition have been a test of following Jesus as Lord.  From hearing His call to move to California and planting a church, to leaving the security of an "established" church with people we love and that loved us, each day has been a call to surrender.  What we have found is that God is faithful.  He has provided.  He has given us people to love and that in turn have loved us.  He is showing us His will. He is maturing our faith and challenging our view of life.  This week of camp is reminding me that life is just a big camping trip.

As I look back over this transition, what I see is my faith and comfort were in what I had in the place I was in and not necessarily in God.  I had become settled and secure in what was before me and not so much in the God who had called me.  I am hopeful this week my story will be a picture of God's desire for our lives to be fully submitted and committed to Jesus as Lord.  After all, the important thing isn't about where we find ourselves on a map, but what Christ is doing inside us wherever we are.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Red Eye Recovery

We took the Red Eye out of San Francisco Sunday night and landed in the deep south Monday morning.  I usually love Red Eye Flights as I can sleep and be ready to hit the ground running.  This was my first Red Eye with kids along and hopefully my last.  To keep them up way past normal bedtime and put them on an airplane expecting them to sleep is little not smart.  Ok, well a lot not smart.  We  are still recovering from the experience.  Jennifer is beyond tired so I won't even go there.  The kids were so zombie like that after they ate two donuts they still passed out.

We have experienced a great time with my family which always includes amazing food.  The deep south warmly welcomed us back with a heavy dose of humidity.  Not having missed that old friend I am still wishing him to go away.  It is quite an experience to get out of the shower and need another one because you can't stop sweating.

I feel out of sorts though.  I have become so accustomed to life in Northern Cal that I feel out of place.  It is a weird feeling.  I am praying over and with situations that people are facing.  Even in the Red Eye stupor I am clear headed enough to join in praying over some friends who have been called to minister in a tough situation.  I love the fact that so many in this new church plant are taking on the call of God to walk along side of people in need.  We prayed that would happen and it is!  One of our hopes with the new church plant is that it would NOT be dependent upon a Pastor to mandate ministry.  Hopefully we are modeling in our life relational discipleship and others are choosing to live that way.  It will make for a healthy way sharing Christ with the Auburn CA area.

So while I recover from the Red Eye flight, others are ministering in Jesus name back home.  I love it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

the trip

Tomorrow evening we leave California for the three week Griswold family vacation.  How else can you describe a trip that has a family of seven driving across the country with three four year olds, a fourteen year old talker, and a fifteen year old child with autism.  Jennifer is going to video the adventure and I will attempt to market it to a film company.
We begin with a drive to San Francisco and take the Red Eye to visit my family.  Over the course of the trip we will see grandparents, put a floor in Nicole and Chad's house, and speak for the White Station Church's youth camp.  Of course the real adventure begins once we load up in the van my parents have given us and trek from Tennessee to California.  I will go ahead and beg now for all to be in prayer for me and my family.  For me in that I keep a sense of humor and for my family in that they remember God has mandated they have to forgive me.
So over the next week I will try and keep the blog updated with pictures and posts of the grand adventure.  Stay tuned... Clark is taking the family across country again!

Monday, July 11, 2011

special people

This weekend we got to visit with some dear friends.  Don and Jane Gann as well as Rodney and Alice Higginbotham were in Auburn CA for a few days.  As exciting as it was to see them Friday morning it was equally as sad to see them leave Sunday afternoon.  For eight years the Gann family has been special to Jennifer and I.  Don and Jane are like a second set of parents and their boys are like brothers.  We have walked together through death and new birth.  Each time I am with them I am reminded of the joy of having deep friendships that aren't limited by time and distance.

Rodney and Alice came into our lives six years ago.  My wife Jennifer will tell you Alice is a Spiritual mother to her.  They have prayed some mighty prayers together, cried more than a few tears, and both heard the Holy Spirit calling us to a new ministry.  When we connected with these two couples, Jennifer, Alice and Jane went to a quiet place and spent time praying over each other.  Don, Rodney and I picked up with conversation like we had never been a part.  Oh the comfort and peace of dear friends.  They are traveling out on the coast for the week.  It was amazing and blessed to have them at GCC this past Sunday.  It made GCC feel even more like home!  I hope you have those kind of friends!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

there and back

Last night I returned from a quick trip to Alabama to lead my friend Rex England's funeral.  I realize funerals aren't supposed to be fun.  It wasn't fun in the sense that we were all excited to be there.  It was fun in the real sense that we celebrated a man who lived life fully.  I want for my funeral to be a celebration.  I told Jennifer I want music, food, drink, and laughter.  Though we grieved for his passing and for the loss  Valerie and each of us feels, it was a rejoicing over faith and hope and love.  Yesterday as I returned I thought through the impact of funeral that celebrates and a funeral that regrets.  They are worlds apart.

As we gathered this morning with our new church that is still in it's infancy, I was overwhelmed with the season of worship we experienced.   In every way it was healing and refreshing.  We took time to really think through the work of Christ in our lives and connect with God.  I had the biggest smile as we sang "The Stand".  Rex was experiencing on the other side the beauty of what we were proclaiming.  We sang in anticipation.  It was awesome!

By the way, GCC is experiencing an amazing season of worship!  Thank you for all who are bringing hunger and desire for the renown of God.  You are blessing my journey!  I hope you are being filled with the sense of laughter and joy as we encounter God.  I look forward to many more experiences like this morning.  My friend Rex got to worship in midst of the Holy of Holies!  We were pretty close ourselves!

Monday, June 27, 2011

life and death

There are some things you never get used to.  Most of those involve a life difficulty that causes pain to those you love and care about.  Yesterday evening I received word that a loved friend died suddenly.  He was by all accounts healthy, working to help his kids with some projects, and enjoying the joy of being a grandfather and husband.  Last night he was ushered in to the Holy of Holies to see the majesty of His Lord!  
No matter how of those notices I receive, I never get used to them.  In ministry you often get that call as a need to be there for the family.  There is no doubt it is a sacred trust to be present with a family during a season of loss.  Being twenty four hundred miles away doesn't soften the pain you feel for a family.  As I was thinking about my eight years of relationship with Rex England and his wife Valerie, I couldn't help but smile.  He was just a fun guy.  He loved his family.  He was crazy about his wife.  He was a great friend.  Rex was just fun.  
As his family and friends grieve his loss, I imagine most will say the same things about him.  There will be stories and reminders of how he impacted so many.  There will be a void in the England family for a guy who lived his life well.  The comfort and peace the family needs will come from the Holy Spirit.  That isn't a foreign thought the family though. They know in life and in death that God is still on the throne and will not abandon them.  Life and death.  Rex, you are loved and will be greatly missed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

live and think differently

I'm just curious, but is anyone else out there wanting to live and think differently?  I am thinking of hosting a public gathering where we share our dreams of living out a new way of "feeding the hungry" in our community.  There are many different hungers and we need creative and passionate ways to provide bread that last.  In John 6 Jesus says it is our calling to find a way.
Let me hear your dreams....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

old and new

I'm thinking back on nineteen years of ministry and amazed at how our lives have connected with so many different people.  In this new season of our life, the one thing that keeps coming up huge is relationships.  I love staying in touch with people and hearing how their journey continues to progress.  The story of God being lived out in individual lives is so profound.  When I think of the stories and people that have impacted my family and me it is really hard to take in.  Over the past couple of days I have had some great conversations with people from our past.  They inspire and encourage me, but also remind me of the challenge of remaining in touch.  These are people who live over two thousand miles away, yet in our conversations it is like they are next to me.

As we make new friends and experience new lives and new stories I continue to be reminded that relationships matter.  It matters who you influence and who is influencing you.  I love that about ministry.  I  get to walk along side people as they walk along side of me.  We get to invest in each other and help promote growth and transformation.  Whether it is old friends or new friends, relationships matter.  Most people have six people who will carry their box when they leave the earth.  How many have six people who they can call day or night, good or bad and be fully engaged in each other's life?

The further we get into connecting with the community of Auburn California the more I see that is what many people are missing.  We have hundreds of acquaintances, but very few intimately connected friends that are fully invested in sharing life together.  I am grateful for my "old" friends and learning to love my new ones!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day

Today has been a good day.  But then again I say that about most days.  That doesn't say there haven't been plenty of challenges, but all in all I have far more than I deserve.  I heard from my daughters who are in other states, my boys all made me cards, and my wonderful, beautiful wife continues to love me.  What more can you ask?  
I was able to talk with my own dad yesterday for quite a while.  As the years go by, perspective and appreciation continue to become more intently focused.  My dad has been an amazing source of wisdom and stability.  He continues to be a very present and influential part of our life.  For that matter so is my mother.  It does sound weird though to hear those words, "Happy Father's Day".  I know what is intended. I realize it is a "hallmark holiday".  But each day I find myself thinking how happy and fortunate I am to be a father.  And yes, there are days where I think about how tough that is.  I think that is why each day brings the opportunity to find gratefulness for my children.  
This past weekend we experienced the great joy of celebrating our Chance's fourteenth birthday.  He is a sweet little guy that loves to talk and ride dirt bikes.  At the same time though we were reminded that his birthday is also the anniversary of our beloved nephew's death.  Alex was such a part of our lives.  So when I hear "Happy Father's Day" I am reminded that each day needs to be celebrated for the gift of children.  Life is fragile.  We are given a great responsibility and opportunity in being fathers.  
Don't wait for the "hallmark holidays" to express your joy for your father or your children.  I know today, I am grateful.  I am hopeful that will grow as tomorrow comes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Last night Jennifer and I sat on the back deck and talked about our transition.  I had spent the afternoon in bed with a fever, so being outside in the evening was a real treat.  Thinking through the last nine months was pretty revealing.  Last October we were overwhelmed with a sense God was calling us to leave what we knew and were comfortable with to move across the country and plant a church.  Now having been here for three and a half months it was a good time to discuss the transition.

The move has been fairly smooth.  Our kids have settled in well and are adjusting better than we had hoped.  We are making friends and investing ourselves in the local community.  Our Sunday services have been really great.  Our gatherings are very simple in format, but growing in depth and number.  There have been many opportunities to minister to various people and see others ministering in Jesus name.  We are both connected to powerful prayer groups that meet during the week.

We discussed events that disappointed us, challenged us, gave us hope, as well as organizational things we have to do.  It was really amazing having that discussion with my wife and teammate.  Her perspective and insight is amazing.  To hear her heart and desire about this church plant was a joy.  In all the reflecting that happened last night, none was more powerful than me reflecting on how blessed I am by Jennifer.  She truly is the reminder of God's grace in my life.  Far too many people in ministry don't have their spouse as their most intimate partner.  I was profoundly reminded that God called both of us to plant this church.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

real life disciples

For the past five weeks, our church plant has been looking at what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  As we walk through the story of Jesus and people, it amazes me how very different I now see His ministry.  Today we looked at Jesus calling Matthew and the ensuing dinner party.  Jesus made a priority of intentionally being with those the religious world looked down on.  He was called a "friend of sinners", a "glutton and a drunkard" and who knows what else.  His compassion and love for the sick is inspiring our group to really think differently about how and who we love.

The tendency is for Christians to love those who look, smell, and act like themselves.  We have called people to meet us on our turf and respond to how we live.  Jesus met Matthew on his turf and wasn't offended by who he had been.  This radical way of loving "those" people is a pointed mandate to live the way of Christ and impact our community.  We are looking for new and creative ways to meet people on their turf and live the way of love.  This makes discipleship about authentic, compassionate living.  There isn't a list of things to do nor a class to learn how the real disciples do it.  Simply, it is real people living transparent and humbly for the sake of Christ in the lives of others.  What is being a disciple mean to you?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

I will just admit it now, I forgot to mention Memorial Day at our gathering this morning.  It wasn't intentional.  I had it on my mind to speak about.  I was thinking about how thankful I was that my daughter made it back safely from Afghanistan earlier this year.  Well, I added another brick paver to that road that goes no where.  Then again, there are many intentions I have that go undone.  For me it is the power of distraction that is illuminated.  I get distracted and my good intentions turn into vapor that dissipates quickly.
There were many things I didn't remember this morning.  I forgot to remind people that we had prayer stations for them to be prayed with and over.  I forgot as part of our lesson to share a dream I have of a ministry center that fosters a connection space for people.  A place where people have a safe place to come and drink coffee, search the web, have conversations, pray, sit, relax, serve, and well... so many other possibilities.  I forgot my computer this morning.  I forgot to, well, I guess I forgot what else I forgot.

So on this Memorial Day, I am so thankful for the many who have sacrificed and served.  I am proud of my daughter who is part of that group who have willingly put themselves in harms way for the safety of others.  But mostly today, I am overwhelmed by the one who overcame, because he sacrificed all to honor our Father.  We received the benefit of His sacrifice in that we are adopted into the family that is forgiven.  Today and everyday, let's live thankful lives for others who serve, but let's live sacrificially thankful lives for the one who redeemed us!  And while we are at it, let's not forget that!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

living out what we know

I love to learn.  There are many different ways to learn.  While I am not bemoaning classroom learning, I have come to a place where all learning has to be put into action.  For those who know so much and expound on it so eloquently, there has to be a place where we just live out what we know.  To talk in theory about what works or doesn't work, to float ideas and possibilities, to debate isms and fads, at some point has to to be overcome with our lives walking out the faith we profess.

Too many are talking about that day, one day, when we get to heaven, etc... and not enough are living today!  The great goal of our faith is that Christ be formed within us and in turn we impact the people and places around us.  By having Christ formed in us we then participate in the divine nature and reach out and into people.

I am watching this happen in a strange environment but in a profound way.  There are some guys meeting each Wednesday in a local pub.  They have embraced people they encounter with genuine care and friendship.  A new friend they met a couple of months ago is now suffering through the tragic death of his teenage son.  They attended the funeral and have been supporting him with the love of Christ.  He was having a particularly tough day two weeks ago and showed up at the pub for one reason:  he was hoping that group of guys were there for him to lean on.  They carried his burden, cried with him and brought laughter into his darkness.  They are living what they know.  In doing so, they are practicing the presence of Christ to the world around them.

It isn't just a technical knowledge that we need.  It is the knowledge that Christ brought hope to the world by being present with the world.  He lived what He knew.  We do well to do the same!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

after the wedding

Last week, our daughter Nicole married.  That meant Jennifer going to Tennessee early and me following the next day with our boys.  Just a note of caution, these next words are therapy for me so don't be offended if you follow the ways of Dr. Spock.  Traveling with three four year olds and a thirteen year old revealed a lot about me as a father.  First, I think I only wanted to turn around and return to California about thirty times.  I then realized that wasn't a good idea because mom was at the end of the journey to Tennessee so I persevered.  Then I learned that three four year olds, cramped all day on a plane or confined in an airport is torture of the worst kind.  They are like bombs waiting to explode and I continued to detonate myself so as not to be arrested for abuse.  The poor cleaning people in Atlanta that are still trying to get the mushed down french fries out of gate 02 carpet all the while cursing whoever did the deed.  My apologies for a three terrorist french fry war that had no survivors.  The lady sitting there viewing our tribal rituals was extremely amused until I began restraining the cannibals.  She had that uncomfortable squirm about her.  I almost volunteered to loan her the three for the next flight.
Of course nothing could compare to the Circus that ensued at the Huntsville baggage claim.  It was late, everyone was tired, everyone except the three who were working off of delirium.  They effectively pinned down my friend Lee Jackson while they took turns running the people obstacle course.  I should have charged an admission fee for the entertainment.  Yes to say the least, it was an adventurous day of travel.  Did I mention that we were doing this because my daughter was getting married?  I kept reminding myself how much I love her and wanted to be there....
The wedding was beautiful.  Nicole was a gorgeous bride!  The wedding was held in Fayetteville TN at The Lodge at Gunter Hollow.  It was a really nice, peaceful place.  Until...
Needless to say the owner had to lay the law down on the three.  Not sure they really ever comprehended the law.  I loved being with Nicole for the wedding and getting to watch my grand baby for a few days.  I hated seeing the wedding end.  I knew that meant I had to fly back with the boys to California without Jennifer again.
Lets just say that the first part of Proverbs 31 was written for dads who travel with that many kids.
Now we are back and continuing or work of planting a new church.  Pray!  Pray for our ministry and the work of God.  Pray for our home in Alabama to rent or sale.  Pray for God to be glorified and heaven to touch earth.  And pray for there to be no lasting and permanent damage to my kids traveling five thousand miles round trip with their dad.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pepperdine and back

For the past sixteen years I have made a trip to Pepperdine to study, visit with friends and network.  This past week I spent a few days on campus with my friends Buddy Bell and Joe Beam among others.  A gracious friend that is part of our new church family provided me with a reward ticket to make the flight down to LA.  Conversations, challenging topics, laughter and a reminder that the life of ministry is always challenging.   As I returned back to Northern California I had that feeling of being back "home".  That may not seem like a big deal to most, but for a guy who is still in transition having moved West two months ago, it was a good sign that my mind is getting used to calling this place home.
Being back at Gold Country Church today was excellent.  The worship today was especially inspiring and intimate.  I am feeling at ease preaching in a new place to new faces.  So yeah, Pepperdine was good, but it was even better to come home.

Friday, April 29, 2011


There is an assumption that once we “come to Christ” we have miraculously arrived.  Believers tend to check a mental box and say well I’ve taken care of that... But what would have been taken care of.  By faith when we receive Christ and His forgiveness, we are invited into an amazing and ongoing journey.  We are invited to participate in the divine nature and in that we continue to move closer to the heart of God as well as maturing in our faith and understanding of His will.  
As a church plant we are beginning a series on Discipleship.  Discipleship is an oft used and even more misused word.  Discipleship is a journey.  It is exploring, investigating and discovering what it means to live as Christ.  It is not a title given to the super christians, nor is it an isolated 10 week class that gives us secret information.  
Discipleship is a way of life in which we follow the leading of God and learn from His example as we are taught by the Holy Spirit.  Discipleship is who we become, not necessarily what we do.  Well it is what we end up doing, but it comes from the reality of being who we are.  It is a response to the invitation to follow Christ. It is a maturing process where we die to self and serve others.  This is all from a heart that is bent towards honoring God.  
God is not in the business of purchasing museum pieces that sit on a shelf in a  cathedral.  He invites us to participate in His will as we respond to His grace.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Like many others, I am searching the web for every bit of information I can on the devastation in Alabama. As a native of Alabama with many friends and family there I have a vested interest in the healing process that will need to occur.  I am regularly speaking with friends about needs and prayer requests.  The images of what people have faced and are facing is overwhelming.  I have spoken with some who had no problems and didn't even lose power and also spoken with a young man we love whose bedroom was blown away with him a few feet away.
There are many who are wanting to help, but until search and rescue has ended, traveling south is not a good idea.  There will be massive needs for volunteers in the coming weeks.  There are great ministries lining up in the affected areas that we can partner with to get water, food, clothing and other necessities to those in need.  Ultimately, the business of praying for healing, wholeness, salvation, life, and motivation to move forward are what is in great demand.
Our house in Birmingham as far as we know has no damage.  The inside has not yet been checked, but the outside appears intact.  Jennifer and I are just hurting for those we love and the residents who have been impacted.  We served in Tuscaloosa in campus ministry and in Birmingham where I was the preaching minister at the Homewood Church.  Seeing the damage and knowing people in those areas just feels helpless being 2400 miles away.  Our new church plant here in California is pleading with God for his mercy and love to be poured out.  Join me in just putting everything else aside for a five minutes and asking God to do the miraculous in this tragedy for the glory of His name.  Habakkuk   3:2 would be a good prayer to read and then plead with God for.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

Well it wasn't a white Easter, but it did rain.  The weather didn't dampen the Spirit of God being poured out on the Gold Country Fairgrounds!  We celebrated the resurrection of Jesus with two services today.  The first service was our "normal" service that we invited the community to.  We were blessed with a great crowd and incredible worship.  People were at ease with the relaxed nature of everything and our team really welcomed people.  It was very inviting and warm.  The connections are continuing!  The second service was a special "Cowboy" church for the Rodeo.  The Professional circuit Rodeo was in town this weekend and we were given the opportunity to conduct Cowboy church.  I will confess it was my first cowboy service, but I hope it won't be my last.  The folks were friendly and appreciative of our offering.
I am not much on country music, but I will admit that when they played "I saw the light" with the banjo, it was rather fun.
So Easter 2011, our first in California is in the books.  We had so many of our Core really step up and serve.  It was wonderful seeing the sacrificial help that was poured out to make our services happen.  Thank you to all who served.  Bob and Mischal Franz did an amazing job of sharing why they have hope in the Resurrection!  Wow!
Now my mind has turned to the week ahead.  No time to rest in what happened today.  Too much to do getting ready for the week ahead.  God turned hearts towards him.  Now we go about the business of being 'living stones" to continue proving that He is Risen!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

settling in

One of the most asked questions we have experienced is, "how are you settling in"?  I thought it would be good to take some space here and discuss that.  Overall I think we are settling in really well.  The transition has been made easier by so many different people praying for our success.  That includes people in many different places from a variety of churches.  Another real blessing is the way we have been received by the people here in Northern California.  We are constantly asked where we are from, as if we have some sort of accent or something.  We have been able to talk about the church plant with many people and discuss what we hope to do here.
A truly amazing thing is the great people who keep coming to services and Bible Study.  Each week people come hungry to hear the word of God and connect with others in real relationships.  That keeps the reason we are here right before us each day.  Knowing why we are here and what we have been called to do is becoming clearer each day.  In that, the transition is going really well.
We miss friends and family back south.  I was asked the other day what I missed most about where we moved from.  After much thought, I think I settled on the ministry assistant I was blessed with in Birmingham.  We had facilities, supplies, things, etc... but wow I didn't fully realize how much I needed and was blessed by Misty until well, I am now my own assistant.  I would fire me as an assistant.  That is a big transition.  I am getting acclimated to it, but having that dependable and skilled helper is so crucial.  So that part of the transition is still in transition.
I am meeting with a couple of different groups of guys for prayer.  Jennifer is working on starting a prayer group for women.  Each week we are meeting more and more people.  More than that we are developing friendships with people.
The kids are doing well.  Jon has a really good team of teachers that work with him.  His Autism class runs a Smoothie business for the school.  Chance is also doing well.  He is going to a smaller school which has helped him in the transition.  He is making friends and really enjoying being here.  The three little ones have made themselves right at home.  They and we (Jennifer and I) definitely miss the Homewood Day School.  I will stop there.
So overall the transition is going well.  Jennifer and I are grateful for those that continue to check on us and pray over us.  Please continue.  We are excited about what we see God doing in our lives.  How are we settling in, pretty well.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

white Easter

I'm dreaming of a white..... Easter?!  No offense to Bing, but well, with this Northern California weather we just might have a white Easter.  Today it was a chilly 50 degrees here in Auburn while thirty miles up the hill in Alta they had a beautiful two inches of snow.  I am thinking we overshot Northern Cal and landed in Seattle.
Easter Sunday is ten days away and this is crazy.  We are planning for a big push on Easter Sunday and working on things for that day.  Do we plan on outside Children's worship area or snow sleds and warm coats?  This is crazy!!!!
I love the beauty and creative landscape God designed for this area.  It is truly amazing!  I must have slept through or skipped the class in seminary that dealt with multi dimensional weather forecasting and adjustable weather patterns.  White Easter.... could happen!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

not another Sunday

Well... I loved today.  Other than the guy who preached, today was just fun.  I love watching people connect with God.  It is truly humble and amazing to see people visibly connect with the God who is crazy about us.  Not knowing every story or person, but witnessing the freedom of drawing near The Holy One is, well, just really... Awe Inspiring!!!
Sound system issues, a temperature cold gym, nor a change of venue could hold back the Spirit of God moving.  It is so much fun to come with great anticipation of what is gonna happen next.  Greg Redmond did a fantastic job of allowing us to join him in celebrating with the King.  The sound coming from people giving back to God was really cool.  Thank you to all those who were with us today!  You blessed my soul!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

mobile church

We are about to test the ability of our new church plant to be mobile.  This weekend we are displaced from our normal gathering spot of the Gold Country Fairgrounds.  The ever popular "Quilt Show" has us meeting at the Placer High School Gymnasium.  Our setup crew is ready for the task.  Hopefully we have promoted this change of venue and people will make the adjustment.
So for all of our regulars, make sure you keep inviting and make others aware that tomorrow we are in the Earl Crab Gymnasium at Placer High.  We gather at 10am.  No coffee is allowed in the Gym so fill up before you come!

Monday, April 4, 2011

kicking the tires

One of the intriguing aspects of planting a church for me is those that come visit to "kick the tires".  They want to test drive what we have to offer and how we do Sundays.  I have no desire, intention, nor energy to be the mall where you can purchase the finest in religious goods and services.  Our goal is to relationally connect with those that decide to walk along with us.  Yes we want to have quality bible study opportunities and worshipful and experiential gathering times.  However, the bigger desire we have is to see people use their gifts and talents to serve others.
We are just in our infancy and still strengthening our core.  As a young and growing plant we aren't in a place to provide the latest and greatest.  So when someone comes in to kick the tires, my prayer is they kick the right tires.  They see we are committed to honoring God and serving others.  They see we aren't about laser light shows or archaic expressions.   We are simply about seeking God, welcoming the work of The Holy Spirit, intentionally living in relationship with others, and allowing God to use us however he chooses.
It may not be a fancy new sports car, but it is one that will faithfully journey with you.  So come on in and take a test drive.  Get to know those sitting next to you.  Hear their story of faith and struggle.  Watch as they connect with God and seek to connect with you.  You will probably discover a used model that is out of warranty.  But don't be fooled by what you see on the outside, they are being renewed and transformed from the inside out!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Over the next few weeks our church plant will hopefully finish our legal "stuff" and move forward as a state recognized ministry.  One of the changes that will be coming is the change of name.  Gold Country Church is a connection to the colloquial name of the region, but not the simple warm name I hope to be known for.  I am aware that the people living the way of Christ is what will speak to the community about who we are, but I am also aware that the name will be a form of invitation and keyhole to who we desire to be.
We are going to add the word CONNECT to the front of the name Gold Country Church.  Legally it is the easiest way to make the change without having to start over.  We will simply use the name CONNECT.  Our desire is to be a relational discipleship church.  We are desiring to connect people in relationships to their GOD and new friends.  People matter and all people need relationships.  The name goes much deeper but for now suffice it to say it is a subtle reminder that we are about relationships.
Last night we had the blessing of hosting seven new friends in our home.  It was incredible watching as conversations naturally flowed over dinner.  The beauty of investing our lives in others and being a community that cares is the essence of who we are in Christ.
As a people junky, I was energized by the connections over dinner.  The joy of hearing others share their hopes and vision of community was tremendous.  I am trusting each of the friends that joined us were as blessed as Jennifer and I.  CONNECT!  I like it when that happens!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Great day with the family celebrating 19 years of marriage to the most amazing gift of grace this side of the cross.  Jennifer is my co-worker, friend, lover, fellow study partner, prayer warrior, and everything else. I love her and praise GOD for her!  Who knew we would celebrate year 19 in California!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

establishing DNA for a new church plant

This morning was the fourth official Sunday of our church plant.  That really seems strange to think we have been here four weeks.  There are so many things that go into starting something new.  We have been doing services since the beginning of January with others shouldering the load.  I love the fact that others have embraced this plant and served wherever needed to get things moving. 
As we have begun, services have been pretty simple.  The fun/ challenging part of a church plant is establishing the DNA of the church.  One aspect of that DNA is that of Relational Discipleship.  Our desire is for real relationships to form and multiply.  We have spent the first month talking through what it means to give up ourselves for the sake of others.  I am witnessing it taking shape in the lives of those who are committed to making this plant mature.  That fact alone is humbling and exciting!  I am thinking of other "ingredients" that need to be part of our DNA.  I thought it would be fun to put this out there and ask, What would you include in the DNA of a church you were planting? 
By the way, this morning was great!  The worship was humble and Spirit led.  I love watching people come and receive communion.  The people gathered responded with a worshipful sound and expression.  The thing that continues to bring me joy is the way people are sharing and greeting each other.  What a sweet expression of Christ when we live in community.  I saw connections happening!  That is one of the reasons you will see the church name change to "CONNECT".  More on that later...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the dream team

I went down the hill today with my Autistic son's class on a field trip.  The destination:  the Galleria mall in Roseville CA.  I'm not sure, but I would say special education teachers may be the most remarkable people alive.  My son Jon and his class had an amazing day exploring.  They were taken to different types of stores and allowed to "shop" and sample what each store held.  I don't really know how to describe the experience of watching the delight they each had in getting out today. 
Jon's school offers children like him real life skills that prepare them for what comes after high school.  These students run a smoothie business in the school that sells anywhere from fifty to a hundred and fifty smoothies a day.  The proceeds from this business allow them to go on field trips and explore what we all take for granted.  They experience life in such a different way.  In all honesty, I wish I could see life in their line of vision a little more often.  They don't see people according to perfection or beauty.  They see people; just people.  Because Jon refers to me as "Father", a young lady in his class also addressed me as "Father".  It was just as natural a conversation as could be.  I was blessed by her.  Humbled may be more accurate. 
As we are in full swing of planting this church and ministering to people, it is a great reminder that ALL people need to experience the presence and love of Jesus Christ.  By seeing people sans the identities we assign them, God will use us to remind them the value HE has assigned to them.  By value I mean how much He cherishes all people. What I had envisioned as going to be a majorly frustrating day, God turned into a lesson in how to see people.  Alexis, Jon's friend, treated me as her equal and reminded me I am called to do the same.  Thank you Alexis for the kick in the teeth...  Hopefully next time I won't need the dental work reminder.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This is a new and challenging season in the lives of the Kelley family.  Three weeks ago we boarded a plane and moved to Northern California to plant a church.  There are new friends, new challenges, new opportunities, new home, new dog, new ministry partners, and a new city. I have always liked moving at a fast pace, but the past three weeks have been warp speed.  We are getting acclimated to saying California and when necessary "Auburn" the city in which we are planting the church. Roll Tide by the way!  Anyway, I digress. 
The kids are in new schools and settling in.  We are experiencing a new climate (rain every day, with three feet of snow a few miles up the hill).  All in all this new season is going well.  We are witnessing God do what He does!  We are forming relationships, ministering where he leads us and sharing the hope we have in Christ with all who we contact.  Did I mention that we moved to California... crazy!
This blog will be about the work God has called us here to be about.  I will do my best to update most days.  I will share stories of people we are coming in contact with and the work of God that is happening.  
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This morning I met with five guys for a time of worship and prayer.  There was even a guy from Alabama there with me.  We prayed over the city of Auburn, each other and what God had for us to be about.  It was an incredible time of reflection and alignment.  One of the guys there is named Titan.  He is a man in pursuit of God!  His story is amazing!  So amazing in fact that the Discovery Channel has been filming him for a show on the network.  He is one of those guys that is "all in"!  He holds nothing back and speaks boldly.  His friendship and partnership in this ministry is incredible.  I am loving the gift of his life in my life.  Suffice it to say that he is becoming one of those mighty men we need in our lives to keep us on track.  Who are those mghty "people" in your life?  I would love to hear about them...