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.