Saturday, December 29, 2012

Exploring what it means to be weird versus normal.  Of course normal is a loaded term.  Different people have different definitions and understanding of what normal is.  For some, normal is chaos and pain, while others have a normal of peace and health.  Obviously normal can and does change as seasons of life change. 

For Jesus, normal was being misunderstood, sought out for his power, threatened, challenged, accused, approached, avoided, and everything in between.  The disciples went from a normal of fishing, tax collecting, working to walking behind, being amazed, confused, dazed, bewildered, scared, to bold, focused, and on and on... 

What used to be weird i snow normal and the old normal is now weird.  But then again, that's the way it has always been.  Jesus didn't come so life could/ would be boring.  He came to give a better life, which in many ways is a difficult life, but better nonetheless.  Normal was for the first to be last, the greatest to be least, to take up a cross daily, deny oneself, serve and love others and find ways to help those in need.  That normal is really weird, but in a good way.  So we should be weird and let that be our new normal. 

I'm not referring to odd, quirky, out of touch weird.  But the kind of weird that goes against the flow and stands out rather than just fitting in.  Hmmm... this is going to be a weird sermon series...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


There is never a shortage of decisions to be made in Leadership.  Being part of a life giving, relational ministry allows for those decisions to be made in connection with other leaders.  I am thankful our model isn't a top down, one man show.  It is "easier" in the short run, but more problematic in the long run. 

Most of those decisions have to do with people.  Good people wanting to do things, needing help with things, having made bad decisions.... on and on it goes.  In the midst of it, I have to keep asking God to rule in my heart and mind.  Those in authority have to be under authority.  In doing so, leaders are in a right frame to lead by following. 

Too many want to appoint themselves as leaders and take up positional authority.  They promote themselves and their ideas and their ability to teach.  They are constantly seeking an audience to listen to them so they can fill their own need.  Positional authority has great limits.  Relational authority on the other hand, shows our greatest influence isn't self promotion, but rather self-less service. 

Look around and see the relationships your leaders are developing.  Are they self-serving?  Are they protecting themselves from others having relational authority in their life?  Are those who are clamoring for leadership always the ones who have to be heard?  Leaders set the pace by serving, loving, caring, developing, sacrificing, and leading!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Friends that bless Friends

Timeout!  Three weeks between posts that includes non stop parental, pastoral, and personal events.  I am catching my breath in this timeout but also giving thanks for friends that bless friends.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Celebration, entered into Advent and non stop chaos. 

By "friends that bless friends" I mean those in my life from before California that have traveled west to bless the new friends we have here.  We like to maintain all the friends we can and we have certainly been blessed by many.  So many of our friends have been rescued by God and empowered to share their hurt, pain, joy, education and life with others.  In the past couple of weeks a few of those friends have come alongside our ministry and shared hope in a profound way. 

Two weeks ago, my good friend Craig Smith came to visit.  He and I along with my fellow Pastor Mike Bivins went up on the mountain to open up our hearts and lives to each other as we shared life together.  Great food, conversation, amazing scenery in spite of the rain, openness, vulnerability, and the embrace of the Spirit of God made for an incredible time.  On Sunday morning at GCC, Craig Smith opened up his skeleton closet and shared his journey with our church.  It is a hard story.  It is a hard story to hear again because we lived it again in our hearts.  But this time, knowing the place God has brought him, my tears were grateful tears. 

His skeleton closet has death and life, sin and forgiveness, deceit and truth, division and reconciliation.  There is grief and hope, there is loss and recovery.  He freely shared about his mat and his condition, but also how God is transforming.  My new friends were incredibly blessed by my old friend.  Me too!

This past weekend two of the most dear  people to me came and joined us.  Joe and Alice Beam gave up their weekend to travel west.  I pleaded with Joe for almost a year to come and lead a marriage weekend.  Wow!  His open, thoughtful, direct, scholarly, and Spirit filled words were just what we all needed.  All weekend I have heard from individuals and couples that were filled with words of grace.  Marriages that are in trouble have some new direction and insight.  Marriages that are good are on the way to better.  People were able to understand the differences and find answers to questions they didn't know how to articulate.

Alice, in her sweet spirited way, was there as evidence of grace.  Her ability to forgive and trust and reconnect were so profound for those who haven't seen that as a possibility.  Her words of encouragement to ladies and men alike were like balm to troubled hearts.  Alice being here with her husband was such an amazing God touch.  Joe was powerful, Joe and Alice were incredibly powerful!

I haven't even talked yet of Sunday morning.  Joe's walking through Ephesians 5 and 6 and the call to Stand was point blank.  The call back to the reality we have an enemy and he has no flesh and blood was spot on.  I have heard from others how my friend blessed their lives.  I love it when friends bless friends.  I was so blessed by both sides of my friends!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanks a lot

How is it possible that we are three days from celebrating Thanksgiving 2012?  While I love this time of year, I am a little ill prepared for it to already be here.  Oh well, can't do anything now but get with the spirit of the season.  So thanks!  Thanks a lot!   That would be thanks to an abundance of people who have touched, challenged, blessed, enriched, and walked with us in this life. 

So many people have invested in our lives and allowed us to invest in them.  Thanks a lot!  We have so many friends.  We have great family.  We have been blessed to be part of incredible churches.  Thanks a lot!  As a Pastor, many have trusted us to walk with them in difficult seasons.  We have been there when many have been married, buried, and baptized.  Thanks a lot! 

Our parents have sacrificed for us to have what we needed to move forward and serve God.  They provided a system of love that taught us you can always go home.  Thanks a lot!  Our kids are reminders of God's provision and grace.  They were all gifts to us.  They may at times be challenging, but life is more full with our challenges.  Thanks a lot! 

God has redeemed us.  He has turned our worst days into opportunities to connect with others and live grace.  God has trusted us with His word and His people.  He has shown us time and again that His Holy Spirit is alive and speaking to us daily.  God continues to overcome our mess and offer His love to us and the world.  Thanks a lot!  It isn't much in the grand scheme of things.  Thanks seems so small.  Thanks seems so inadequate.  So, Thanks a lot!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

crazy, fast paced living!

Like most days, weeks and months of my life, things have been moving at a pretty rapid pace.  There have been so many conversations with people, lessons spoken, lessons learned, walking with couples who are struggling to find grace in their marriages, walking with couples who are living grace with each other, people hurting, people recovering, .... and on and on the lists could go.  I am sitting down for a few minutes before I put the boys to bed.   I had this desire to write.  I guess the desire came from a prayer request I received from a global prayer network.  By the way, this writing comes with tears. 

A little tiny newborn is not well, he had to be intubated as he has stopped breathing.  I prayed!  I was overwhelmed with the thought of the parents of little Elijah.  His mother sent out the prayer request through a friend.  I can hear her desperation. I have been with families in these illnesses and in times of overwhelming grief.  I hurt for them.  Perspective.  Perspective of what it means for a world to fall apart and things as they are known and expected and hoped for to not be that way anymore.  I have been with far too many when grief overwhelms, pain cuts the heart, mind and body into pieces, and hope is lost. 

That kind of ache surpasses who lives in a nice white house with an iron gate in far northeast.  Of all the things to rant and rave about and feel overwhelmed over, well, let's just say baby Elijah and others like him should be way up on the list.  I know, difficult days will be faced one way or the other by all.  But feel the desperate plea of a mother for a minute so you can stop complaining and start praying.  "Elijah is not doing well at all.  Stopped breathing. They just intubated him. Prayers Please!

Feel the hurt and ache around you.  Gain perspective.  Live! Love! Feel! Pray! Praise! Stop and Rest and Realize the need around you for people with genuine faith to reach across to those whose faith is in the crucible of fire and pain.  Pray for Elijah and his parents!  It could be a long night or a lonely night........

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm honored and excited to be speaking for the Bridgeway Church Men's Retreat!  Great setting at Camp Alta with great men seeking God... I am hopeful God speaks through me and even more instead of me...

Casey Frye leading worship and the canopy of the ages above us!

I am blessed!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

There are difficulties in any relationship.  As humans, if we are involved there will be bad decisions, mistakes, misunderstandings, and some extraordinarily good times.  It just seems to work that way.  There are ways to improve our relationships and I believe the church needs to be a primary resource for the community.  It's not that we have all the answers, but rather that we live in honesty with reality and seek to grow and improve our relationships at every opportunity. 

We are working to bring my friend Joe Beam to Northern California in early December.  Joe has been a Pastor, motivational speaker, redeemed son of God, father, grandfather, as well as a guy who has given his life to helping couples find life in their marriage.  I am excited to have him come here and share with this community. 

Joe's ministry, Beam Research Center, provides an intensive weekend encounter for couples who are in trouble.  Their success rate is phenomenal.  It isn't magic, but solid, practical, Spirit led, researched, and well delivered help.  As a Pastor, I have sent over a dozen couples to his intensive weekend and they were all positively impacted. 

Joe has been featured on programs like; the Today Show, Good Morning America, Dave Ramsey, and many regional radio shows.  I feel blessed to have a close relationship with Joe and his family and be able to host him here in the Sierras.  I will be posting more information as the schedule firms up.  If you are within driving distance, this will be well worth your time on the road.  Mark your calendar for Saturday December 8.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Two years ago yesterday, God spoke two words that at the time I didn't understand, but within twenty four hours would be crystal clear.  While praying from "Iron Point" as I looked down over the Foothills, I distinctly and clearly heard, "Welcome Home".  Unsure what that meant, I kept those words to myself.  The very next day, Jennifer had the burden of planting a church in Northern California laid upon her heart.

Two years later, Jennifer is on the same campground, with the same amazing lady (Alice Higginbotham) by her side, praying for the movement of God in the lives of women.  I shouldn't be surprised that God would put those two back together on the same campground, serving along side each other, on the same weekend two years later.  

I took my five boys up on the mountain yesterday and we praised God for His creation and work in our life as a family.  I am so grateful to talk about God stories with my boys.  We celebrated His work in our life.  So amazing to hear my kids on a mountain thanking God for people and things in their lives.  Two years... can't believe it has been that long, but it doesn't seem that long. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yesterday was a "fellowship" day at GCC.  Great worship set, delicious food, people willing to invest in others, and the sweet aroma of friendship made for a fun morning.  We try and do these "fellowship" days often enough to build a safe place for people to connect and not too often so as to lose it's effectiveness. 

I love watching people get to know others and see how their different stories impact each other.  There is a difficulty in being a relationally driven church, but I wouldn't trade it for a program driven church.  Authenticity and care for others are strands of healthy DNA for a church.  Our fellowship days are great reminders that it is about the relationships. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


We are on the countdown.  That could be any number of countdowns, but one main one that has us all consumed.  One more sleep until mom flies home from Tennessee!!!!!  Yes, I am way more excited than the kids.  No, I'm not ready to dump the kids and run.  I am ready to see my wife.  She is my co-minister, co-parent, co-counselor.  She is the part of my heart and life that God gave and knew I needed so desperately.  She is the reminder of grace in my life.  She is the beauty in beauty and the beast.

The kids are so excited because she is mommy.  She is nurturer, nurse, and homework guru extraordinaire.  She gives great kisses and hugs and picks out outfits that match.  She snuggles them, cuddles them, and understands them.  No they haven't been neglected, abandoned or abused while with me.  Rather, they have been loved on, protected, well fed, and held.  But, they know they need and want their mommy. 

As matter fact, no matter what age you are, mom is always mom.  Dad should always be dad.  We should have an affectionate place for the parents who gave us life.  Not all of those are biological.  Many, like us, are adoptive parents.  No matter.  Love for a child is love for a child and we most definitely love our children.... all seven of them! 

So we are on the countdown.  Mom is coming, mom is coming.  We're ready!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  I served with some of the best people in the Kingdom of God at Tres Dias#27 and then returned to speak at a men's retreat for Agape Bible Church in Willits California.  Both weekends were terrific encounters of meeting new people, seeing friends, and watching God do great things in the lives of men.

I am continuously blessed by the work of God in my life.  There are so many challenges it seems overwhelming, but God continues to move in faithful ways.  The human struggle against temptation, despair, bitterness, and countless other "enemies" seems to come like a torrent.  The enemy baits us with gimmicks and distractions so as to refocus our heart on quick fixes.  Don't let your heart fool you.  Stay tuned in to God's work in your life.

Quick fixes usually take us further from real solutions and add another layer of problems to what can already be difficult times.  The enemy is good at cloaking his tactics in the fabric of what we need/ want/ have to have or it makes me feel better.  These past two weeks are just another reminder to let God sort through the deceptions while remaining submissive to His will.

Ah, there is nothing like a good whirlwind...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Thinking through material I will present in 2013 at a Lecture.  I will be addressing the fine line of loving kids through the difficulty of destructive choices while not walking away from who we believe we are in Christ.  We all make unwise and destructive choices.  We all hurt those we love.  We all need the grace of God to hold us together and redeem us.  Parents feel that hurt towards their children in a profound way. 
If you have stories, or insights in loving through these difficult seasons, please share them or if you feel safer, send me an email: 

I would love to hear your heart on this matter of the heart! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

I love this time of year.  College Football is ready to kick off, the temperatures are starting to drop, high school football has begun, school is back in session, did I mention  that school is back in...
I am excited about what we experiencing at GCC!  Worship and study are going great!  People are finding ways to serve others!  Small groups are forming and relationships are developing!  Christ is being exalted!  So many things are happening that I can't keep up and the beautiful thing is that those are happening because of the engagement of others! 

The sad thing is that marriages are still in trouble, drug use is crazy bad, people are feeling hopeless, and suicide is prevalent.  I am no dooms day person, but we live in a hurting world.  I love the change of seasons, but hurt doesn't seem to wait on a season.  People everywhere are hurting.  For all the craziness, we still find ways to distract ourselves amid the chaos. 

Over the next few weeks, I want to be more equipped to share hope with others, to speak love instead of hate, to offer help rather than scorn, to seek unity rather than division, to find good rather than seeking the evil, to be for rather than be against, so I can move deeper into the life of Christ.  I want to enjoy the right things, find my peace and contentment in God, and be grateful for family and friends.  I want to encourage other ministers from different churches so I can strengthen the body of Christ in its fullness.  I want to love at all times and all times of the year. 

So what do you want??????

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I went to Santa Cruz yesterday.  No it wasn't a fun at beach day, though it was a chance to ride the motorcycle four hundred miles.  A friend that is very familiar with the area went with me to search for the son of my good friends.  This young man had decided months back that he would leave the east coast to live on the west coast and make a living with his guitar.  It had been a month since their last contact with him.

I really don't know what I expected yesterday as the search was akin to needle in a haystack, but felt compelled to try.  I was blessed that my friend Mike led me there and helped me search.  It really was a blessing to know someone would join me in an impossible search and a long ride.  I was also blessed with other offers of help and many, many prayers.  Have I said lately that I love my church!

Well after a day of looking and nothing really solid, except for other street musicians saying they hadn't seen him in a couple of weeks, the young man has made contact and is safe!  Today I received a call from his parents that he had made contact.  Praise God!  It appears that strange people calling numbers and asking questions has an effect.

I can't fathom what was going through the parents minds as a month went by with no contact.  And then the relief to hear his voice.  So much to be said about our own silence towards God and His compassionate response when we do reach out.  I won't say the obvious, but will offer that God is gracious and at work.  Maybe my journey to search wasn't about the young many, but about the man that went in search...  You just never know what God is up to!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Finding the right words...

One of the hard things about ministry is looking into the eyes of the hurting/ suffering/ struggling people who just want an answer and you know there isn't a good one.  I know there are answers.  But I'm not up to offering church talk, religious jargon, or trite slaps on the back that promise it will all be alright. 
I met one of those people today.  He was hurting, angry, desperate, searching, frustrated, and tired.  Looking into his eyes I saw the struggle I have seen so many times before.  People are looking for hope and help.  The person I met today fits that well.  I was reminded again that ministry is a sacred trust where we participate in God's work in the lives of his people. 
It is not up to me to fix or say the perfect thing.  It is my calling to be there, be present, be compassionate and help them see that they are not alone. 
My calling is the same as your calling.  We aren't called to defend God or try and figure him out.  Our challenge is let God's work be evident in our life so others can see his work in their own.  His work may be different from life to life, but it is all generated from his deep and profound love for us.  Let God's love speak for itself.  God is really good at saying what needs to be said.

Friday, August 3, 2012

when will it end....

Hurt... Hurting people hurt people.... Life hurts... relationships in trouble hurt... there are hurts everywhere... faith is developed amid hurts... Genuine faith is formed in the crucible of adversity... When will it end?   I hear that question more than I can count.  Somehow, God takes hurts and hurting people and moves them into a place where their story and healing impact others in remarkable ways.
It is allowing heaven on earth when faith holds us through our hurts.  God is reconciling all things to himself... I am grateful for his redeeming work in the midst of the pain.  I am grateful for those whose faith light a path for others to follow as they seek a way through their pain.

When will it end?... for now we are in the season of not yet, but soon.   I love the words to Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons.... "The sun comes up 
Its a new day dawning
 Its time to sing your song again
 What ever may pass and whatever lies before me 
Let me be singing when the evening comes"...

Whatever may pass and whatever lies ahead... one thing for certain, there will be a measure of pain involved...  But in all that has happened and will happen, there is the God who loves unconditionally and redeems all things...  God is doing profound healing work in a hurting world... so until it ends, we sing His song, bless His name, and trust in His goodness.....

Sunday, July 29, 2012

We are almost finished with the moving process.  That statement is loaded, pun intended!  Moving is exhausting, overwhelming, and far more than I could describe in a single post.  But it is also humbling.  To have people come and pack, load, unload, clean, organize, cook, lift, serve, build, fix, take apart, put together, wash, make up, and a million other things is just humbling.  I have heard it said that friends help friends move.  We have been blessed with so many friends in the course of our life and ministry.  I love this journey.  Seeing where God takes us, relationships we get to experience, learning from others as we help others.
In worship today I was reminded how much I have.  Scripture, song, seeing people worship and express themselves, hearing stories of God's work, praying with others and having others pray over me, and on and on it goes...  I was and still am exhausted from the moving process this morning.  I gained energy by just being with others this morning. 
We closed this morning with this thought, "Contentment is not the achievement of all that we want, its the realization of all that we already have".   

I am reflecting on that thought.  I know this.  I have too much stuff but never enough friends.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I had one of those moments today.  You know those moments you aren't expecting but it just overwhelms you?  I was honored to spend time up at Camp Alta serving as a "Coach" for their I-FIT Camp.  I taught basic football skills and observed the kids competing in games.  The moment came this morning before my first coaching session.

I went to participate in their morning worship time and hear their speaker share the scripture.  Worship was led by a group of college age students from a Korean Church in Davis CA.  As the worship was really focusing on pleading with God to speak and stir our hearts, my friend called my attention to the young lady playing keyboard.  She was totally absorbed with drawing near to Christ and adoring Him... Tears just streaming down her face... It was, one of those moments!  One of those incredible, soul stirring, heart pounding moments.  To be part of the worship was a blessing in and of itself, but to sit and witness her passion and heart for God was...overwhelming!

For her to sing about not remaining silent and making much of God, realizing in her home country that is against the law and cause for being shunned, was sacred.  I found out later she is leaving for Korea next month to serve three years as a missionary/ English teacher.  It explained a lot about what she is preparing her heart for.

Isn't that just like God.  Send me up to camp thinking I'm going to do some coaching and then just crush my heart through the passion of a Korean Worship Band?  I love those moments when God turns the world upside down and makes things as they should.  I love those moments when we see our own heart through the hearts of others and realize we are all in desperate need of HIM.  I love when God gives us those moments to see Him.  I love when I'm reminded that God is huge and always at work.  I love when God uses those moments to draw me to Himself and reveal His glory.  Have you had one of those moments lately?  Tell me about it.........

Monday, July 2, 2012

I took a two week vacation from posting while I was on vacation. I did my best to be present with my family and not too present with multi-media. Now that I am back from vacation I am also back to posting. We had a great time seeing both sets of parents, daughters and grand baby, as well as friends back in Alabama and Tennessee. It was a whirlwind trip that allowed a time away, but I am excited to be back home. Speaking of home... we are moving... from one part of Auburn to another. We have been blessed to live on this property for almost seventeen months. This move will give us a break in what we spend for living space as well as increased acreage for the boys to run. The church seems to be doing well. I don't know how you really know. I see more and more people ministering to more and more people. I am hearing stories of the impact GCC people are having as we love our neighbors. Lives are being transformed and the lonely are being placed in family so I guess you would say we are on the right track. I have grown leery of modern day measures of success... ie... the number of butts and how big is your budget. I am more focused on conversations we are having with others, opportunities to serve and care for people, introducing more and more to Jesus as opposed to another dose of religion that takes the life out of people. Yesterday morning around 6:30 I get a text from a friend. "You awake".. yes I respond... my phone rings and I hear, "here's what I'm thinking. Our neighbor is moving back from Colorado after being gone a year. How about we put together a flash mob to unload their moving truck"? I'm in, lets do it... We did... In 34 minutes a twenty four foot moving truck was emptied and a lady overwhelmed was on her lawn with tears. No sales pitch, no expectations, just a group of people loving on a neighbor. I love what we are doing here in Northern California! I love the people we are doing it with! I am looking forward to making more and more friends! I am excited that we get to put in a good word for Jesus and usually we don't have to say too much!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Back in Bama

The whole family made the cross country trek from California to Alabama. There were no injuries, beatings, fights or ejections from an airplane. We made it safe and sound, but probably not sane. The past three days we have been blessed to be with Gann family. They are incredible friends and blessings to our lives. We have made the trip to be part of the wedding for Bryan Lobue and Deborah Gray. What a great story of God's grace and redemption being lived out in humble love. God reminding each that He is the source of life and love as they have grown more into HIS life and will. Tomorrow will be a great celebration of what God truly has brought together. We are looking forward to being with our families after this weekend. For now, it is great to be together and enjoy the celebration of Bryan and Deborah's marriage.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tonight we celebrated the first High School Graduating class of Gold Country Church. I am so amazed at how things have progressed in the past fourteen months since we have been in Auburn. We celebrated the graduation of fourteen students tonight. These are all incredible young people who have so much to offer the world around them. As a church community it was amazing to be able to invest in the celebration of these young men and women. Our message is simple: You will always have a place that cares for you! Thank you to our Shepherding couples for loving these young people and providing for tonight. Thank you to those who gave their energy of serving tonight so families could enjoy a great meal. Thank you to the parents for allowing us to love on your teens. I love my church! God is doing incredible things!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thank you! Thank you to all who have served, sacrificed, survived and died fighting as a member of the U.S. armed forces. While war is not the desired way to deal with conflict, it has been a necessary part of our history. Many have fought to overcome tyranny or oppression as well as fought to free those being persecuted and attacked. There are also those who don't go away but suffer during times of war. The families of those service men and women have their lives flipped upside down in times of war. I have recently been reminded of this impact. A friend, whose husband is a Marine Pilot, wrote on her blog about the impact of her husbands deployment on their kids. There countless numbers of family members who live each day in the tension of two worlds. They have the demands of day to day life mixed with the knowledge that their loved one is in harms way on foreign soil. They live for the day that loved one returns but also with the tension of knowing that there are no guarantees. My heart hurts for them as it hurts for my family. My daughter will return to the battle zone in three months and we will live in the tension between two worlds. So on this Memorial Weekend, be mindful of those who have fought and died, fought and lived, and those who fight with the awareness that their loved one is not yet home. Grateful people don't spend their time bemoaning and bickering what we can't change, but rather more aware of the sacrifice that gives us the ability to enjoy a holiday such as this. Many will go to cemeteries this weekend and honor, remember, and mourn the loss of loved ones. They won't get to celebrate a great barbecue. They will be more aware than ever the cost of war. Let's love them, sit with them, mourn with them, be part of their future so they know they are not alone. Isn't that a great way to celebrate a weekend such as this?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday May 15... How can that be? It is already May 15! School will be out soon, summer is here. I realize I'm not supposed to say this, but here goes, time is flying by. Life is moving at mach speed. There is no slowing down the clock or rewinding it. Life is happening and it is happening now! Fast! Here is all of our reminder to live. Don't miss out on life. Don't trade real life for a cheap imitation. Don't settle for a life that is shackled to things that destroy real life. Live free and fully engaged with Maker of the Universe. Real life to me involves serving others, not being attached to things that don't last, giving and receiving love, valuing friends and making new friends, aligning with the will of God and reflecting to the world the power of HIS love and goodness. Don't let the days keep passing you by at mach speed while you miss what is truly life. Life was given by the life giver (God) and it was intended that we would be life givers to others by the way we share His goodness with them. If the first five and a half months haven't been lived well, don't panic. Begin living fully in His presence and see the difference it makes!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm sitting in my hometown thinking back. I'm not feeling nostalgia from the days of school and past glory. No, I'm thinking back on the well lived life of my Aunt Mildred. She passed away this week. I traveled 2700 miles to honor her and share in officiating her funeral service. If there has ever been a Southern lady of elegance and charm, Mildred Nelson was that lady. Her life made a huge difference to so many. She had a heart for people and serving. A nurse by trade, but devoted follower of Christ by choice. Aunt Mildred was one of the most consistent and committed followers of Jesus I know. In so many ways, her faith changed the stories of so many. Her passion and support for orphans and local church ministries was so beautifully lived out. She was fiercely devoted to her family. Her husband, my Uncle Earl, passed away two years ago. I was blessed to share part of his funeral as well. He gave his life to Christ very late in life. That as a result of a wife who kept living her faith in front of him and would not give up. So on day 2 of your promotion Aunt Mildred, I say I love and miss you! Give Uncle Earl a hug for me. We will certainly see you both again!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

This morning was great at GCC! The worship was excellent! It is such a great blessing to be in the room with people who are making much of God's love as they respond with hearts bent towards Him. The sound coming from behind me was filled with passion! It was also a great time of fellowship as people gathered around tables for conversation and communion. I love that as a church we are creating opportunities for relationships. As we continue honoring God's word and loving God's people, I am seeing our community grow. There is deepening faith and abiding friendships that are coming out of our time together. I love what I see God doing. There is anticipation each Sunday that God is going to show up. During the week people are finding practical ways to connect with others. I love my church! I love the diversity, the people, the simplicity, the passion, the move of God, the challenges, the blessings, the opportunities, ....

Friday, May 4, 2012

Enjoyed some days down in Southern California studying at Pepperdine. Always good to reconnect with friends and share together. I am thankful to be home with my family though. No place is as beautiful nor pleasing as is the place where your heart is attached. My heart is attached to the place where my family resides. Home sweet home!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Like a good neighbor...

I am blessed once again to be part of a community that rallies around those in need. A parent from my son Chance's school died suddenly leaving behind a wife and six year old son. The school has stepped in and supported this family in their time of need. Our church has come to the aid of the family and is walking with her through the steps of beginning a new phase of life. I have been blown away with the gifts and assistance offered to this family. They aren't "members" of our church, but rather members of our community. In the spirit of honoring the way of Christ and being good neighbors, we have intentionally invested in the lives of those around us. We are truly blessed with the opportunities God has laid before us. Those opportunities include caring for the grieving, the orphans and widows, providing resources for marriages to heal as well as compassion for those in addiction. There are many other neighborly gestures being given to aid those in need. I love the heart of service and ministry that is being lived out through GCC! Like a good neighbor, the people of Christ are there!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Family Bike Ride

We had a great time at Folsom Lake today. Jerry and Karen Green put together a "Bike Ride" cookout for GCC. The weather was sunny and hot which was reminiscent of summer in Bama. It was great seeing people of all ages riding bikes and enjoying a fun day. Our boys had a blast. Thanks to Chris and Katie Sanderson for leading the little guys on a fun and tiring trail ride. There were several skill level rides and a great meal prepared by the Green's small group. Thanks! It is inspiring to see others put together opportunities for people to connect. The "Bike Ride" was great fun and I am certain it will happen again. I am also excited because this has spawned other ideas in people to "host" opportunities for people to connect. Last week there was another "Bike Ride". There was a group of motorcycle riders that connected and took a trip. There are so many ways to get people together and invest in others. I love that GCC is a church full of people with creative ideas that are focused on relationships.

Friday, April 13, 2012

from the Ashes

For three years my family was blessed to serve the Norway Avenue Church in Huntington West Virginia. The church building overlooked the town and was directly across the street from the cemetery where the victims of the 1970 Marshall University Football team plane crash were buried. I am reminded of so many wonderful people tonight as we once again watched the movie "We Are Marshall".

The movie depicts the impact and devastation an entire community suffered as result of that plane crash. Seventy five people lost their life and thousands more were impacted. The story of recovery and new life is amazing. The community as a whole rallied around the University and forever entwined the two as one.

The imagery of what church should be is wrapped in and through the story. There is pain and triumph. There is loss and gain. There is love and hurt. There is destruction and rebuilding. There are ashes and there is hope. There is past and there is future. There is yesterday and there is today. In the midst of destruction there were those who would not give up on what could be.

The church should be filled with those who won't give up on what could be as well as filled with those who are seeking what could be. It is one group living as Christ to introduce Christ to those who are desperate for Christ. Those whose lives have been decimated to ashes receiving faith, hope and love from those whose lives have risen from the ashes by the power of God.

There is so much to the real life story of "We Are Marshall". Far too much to cover here. Let me invite you to experience it for yourself. But more than that, let me invite you to experience church as it should be. People helping people rise from the ashes of the past to live in the glorious now of Christ's Kingdom!

Monday, April 9, 2012

the day after

Loved celebrating Easter with GCC! The energy in the room was overwhelming as hundreds joined in worshiping our Risen King. I am hoping that today, the day after, the energy in our lives is greater as we walk out our faith. Live with joy and expectancy of what God is going to do.

I have already had half dozen conversations with people who are witnessing God's power today. I love hearing those stories of God moving in and through our lives. The day after is shaping up to be incredible!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter 2012

Today, as many took note of "Good Friday", the reality of Christ's crucifixion weighs heavy. The thought that man could not save himself is hard to deal with. As people who are fixers, we all want to handle our own stuff and not need help from anyone. The message of the cross, however; says we were hopeless without the sacrifice of Jesus.

In dealing with the somber and brutal reality of his crucifixion today, we gear up for the celebration of the empty tomb on Sunday. We celebrate because hope lives. All who have blown it in life, all who have been hurt, all who have doubts and pains and fears, all of humanity is welcomed to the celebration of an empty tomb. Death and hopelessness have been defeated. We live now with the reality of the Kingdom of God.

God has overcome and given us every Spiritual Blessing. I am looking forward to celebrating our second California Easter. I am excited about celebrating with new friends the hope we have in Christ. If you are in Auburn this Easter, join us at E. V. Cain as we encourage each other with the message of the finished work of Jesus Christ. He is Risen!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

20 years

I am in awe of the fact that God blessed me so richly. I am not implying my life isn't without pain and struggle. I am simply aware of how much I have received from the Gracious God above. My struggles have taught me painful but valuable lessons. My failures have helped me see it is in Christ all things are possible and there is always a second chance. It is in humility that I see the grace given not in the arrogant assertions of self.

I have much to be thankful for. Twenty years ago on this date a beautiful Southern Belle said "I do" to a injured, messed up, Southern boy. Seven kids and a grand baby later, I find myself more in love than ever. I get to wake up next to the love of my life and get this... she is still in love with me!!!

I see more clearly every day the need for God's presence in my life. The last twenty years have a been a blur of events both painful and pleasant, but always filled with joy. Joy because God has been present every step of the way. I am blessed! I am excited about writing in 20 years of the continued journey we are on. Twenty years and still counting!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jesus in the Mountains

Just spent an amazing three days with over 100 daughters of God. Jennifer and I served as Spiritual Directors for Northern California Tres Dias #4. What an absolutely amazing time! You don't have to go to the mountains to meet Jesus, but it is really a cool place to encounter Him. We spent a day in the rain and two days in the snow.

All three days were a constant reminder of God's grace and the call to live a life of love. So many stories of God rescuing and freeing women from the past. As the ladies were hearing the message of God's grace overcoming our mess, the snow kept falling. I can't help but think of the incredible visual of pure white snow speaking to the ladies about Christ's sacrifice purifying us.

Jesus in the city. Jesus in the country. Jesus in the good times. Jesus in the difficult. Jesus before me. Jesus behind me. Jesus by my side. Jesus within me. Jesus in the mountains! Jesus and only Jesus!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nehemiah and the lesson of politics

I have been working through Nehemiah for almost two months now. I love the practical insight into leading that Nehemiah lays out in his journal. This past week we focused on Nehemiah's focus amid distraction, threats, and attacks. I took time to use an example that is a hot button for many. I have been warned before about not using politics as an example but I couldn't help myself. Nehemiah remained focused on his calling and avoided getting dragged into innuendo and "might be true" conversations.

I am truly neither Republican nor democrat in my views. I am more like someone through paint against the wall. I have convictions and things that matter to me, but not the kind of conviction where I refuse to be friends with people who disagree. The example I used went like this... "Do you know how many millions of dollars and man hours have been expended by some to try and prove our President isn't a born citizen of the U.S.? Rather than us as believers spending our time consumed with that, let's just go love and serve, and care for the least of our community and make a difference."

My point was not a political statement, but rather a plea and reminder that our citizenship is to a Kingdom not of this world, but that will transform the world in which we live. I'm sure my example received mixed reviews. What I am most hopeful of though is that we live in the present and make an impact on what we can impact. That our lives aren't consumed with "what might be true" rather just live the truth that overcame the grave.

Even in the West it is dangerous to mix religion and politics!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

arrogant and isolated

Two words that we don't really self acknowledge, but that have deadly impact on our lives are arrogance and isolation. I say that from the perspective of takes one to know one. It is my opinion that we all have it in us to be arrogant and isolated. It shows in diverse ways, but it is a problem in the masses. Leaders/ Pastors are some of the worse.

Leaders/ Pastors begin to read their press about success or growth in their realm of influence. It can lead to a subtle belief that we have become the "smartest" "coolest" "most creative" .... etc.... and that can head us down a path of thinking we are smart enough to handle on our own anything thrown at us. It happens in families, businesses, churches, everywhere really. In an effort to protect or insulate ourselves we then begin pulling back from the very people we have been called to lead. This isolation mentality can lead to the deadly thought that I really don't need other people.

I could write books of how this thinking is ruining marriages, taking down Pastors, sabotaging corporate heads and wreaking havoc in every day life. I will stop with just these questions. Who are you vulnerable to for the purpose learning and being taught? Who is leading the leaders? Are you insulated from people knowing your struggles or are there trusted friends who are challenging your walk because you invited them to do so?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

This past Tuesday, I was in the Birmingham AL airport catching a flight back to Northern California. I was booked on the Southwest 4:25 to Vegas then on to Sacramento. Remarkably, on that exact day last year, Jennifer and I along with our five boys were on the exact same flight. A year ago we were moving to Northern California. This year I was returning. Today marked one year of being the Pastor of Gold Country Church. A year ago we were a new church plant. Today we were assembled with about 300 others to make much of Jesus!

What a year it has been... What does year two hold for GCC? I am excited and expectant of what God has in store for us. We set out to be a community of Faith, Hope and Love. Our desire is to invest in the community and be a relational discipleship church. God is so awesome! I love this journey we are on. I am so grateful that my beautiful wife and I are living this together! Happy one year to GCC! I'm looking forward to where God directs us!

Monday, February 27, 2012

sitting by the dock of the lake

I've been in Birmingham serving with the Tres Dias Community. It has been an amazing weekend of watching the love of God give hope to men in need of Grace. I have been able to spend four days with my parents before the retreat and was blessed by that.

Right now I'm sitting on the dock overlooking the lake. I'm having good laughter, rest, and joy of watching the peacefulness of a secluded cove. As much "peace" as I am enjoying, all I can think of is seeing my daughter and grand baby then heading home to see my wife and boys! I am so blessed with my family.

I will trade the peace of this lake for the noise of my house. Serenity and peace can't be solely based on location. I am learning to find serenity in knowing my kids are close and safe and my wife is in love with me. I am blessed!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It is at times a difficult task to grow. Growing requires movement. An awareness that we haven't arrived, figured it all out, nor reached perfect maturity can motivate us to continue studying, learning and growing. I have heard it said that a Pastor will travel a thousand miles to speak, but rarely two miles to listen.

I want to be a learner. I want to share wisdom but also to learn wisdom. There are many ways to learn but they aren't easy to come by when our heart and attitude deceive us into a "having arrived" mental state. One our first places of movement has to be humility. In humility we find ourselves able and eager to learn.

The Apostle Paul said, "I want to know Christ and the fellowship of his suffering"... I think scripture lays out his learning experience pretty well. We see his greatness in all he did, but maybe it is really in what he learned. He moved from the arrogance of "Hebrew of Hebrews, tribe of Benjamin, zealous, legalistic righteousness" to "counting it all as garbage for the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord". That is movement!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama!

So Jennifer and I are clicking channels to find something to watch on television and we come across a show called "Sweet Home Alabama". I guess it is the southern version of the Bachelor. I don't know as I have not watched an episode of the Bachelor. As we are watching it I see my cousin Boyd Little. This show is filmed on my cousin's farm in my hometown of Fairhope Alabama.

It is really weird watching a group of guys trying to win over a female while the "world" watches. It is really weird when I see the farm and land where I grew up. It is even more weird watching Boyd grill the guy from New York about his view of the South.

I am not a fan of these types of shows. I don't watch much in the way of television, but I just might become a fan of a show that extols the finer qualities of the south. Of course it also provides hilarity at the interaction of southern boys as they interact with guys from the North all the while trying to win over a female.

I am so excited for my cousins and what they are able to do with their farm. We love being in Northern California. I will have to say though, that there is something really amazing about Sweet Home Alabama. The place, not the show!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day

Jennifer and I have never been "valentines" people. I realize that statement has people gasping. It is a day that is given to marketing and purchases that make no sense. Besides, I choose to express my love for Jennifer daily in a variety of ways. Obviously I don't do all I could, but I am confident that as we live our love daily neither of us need a day of marketing or hallmark to say we are in love.

People spend hurried moments trying to pick the right card while bumping into others after the same thing. I'm not opposed to giving cards nor in bumping into others. It is just a funny sight to go by a store in the afternoon of February 14 and watch procrastinators sifting through what's left over. Roses die, and boxes of chocolate add weight, but daily working together for the same goal and sacrificing for the good of our family lasts a lifetime. So, "Happy Valentines Day"! I hope you live the card you long to give your loved one.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

talent and character

Earlier today, University of Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant suspended three starters. He had earlier in the week suspended another starter. With four top players suspended, Alabama took on Louisiana State University in a conference matchup. This post isn't about basketball.

Coach Grant, in his comments about the suspension, made a great observation. Grant said, "Talent is a gift, but character is a choice". Wow! Talent is a gift. There are many types of gifts possessed by many different people. Those gifts cover a wide array of fields from athletics to music and academics to art. Each of these gifted people have to work at their gift to refine and improve its power. Talent can be squandered or improved upon and used for great good.

Character is a matter of choice. Doing right things for right reasons is a choice that has to be made over and over again. I don't want to suggest those four young men from the Alabama basketball team aren't good guys, but they have let their character suffer because of choice.

It is a parallel walk when it comes to our faith walk. We constantly have to make choices. We have to choose to choose. It is so pivotal for our witness as Kingdom people to stay the course of character (Godly) in our choices. It isn't a matter of being perfect nor sinless, but rather seeking to sin less. In some ways, the choices we make are based off of choices we have already chosen.

The Biblical character Joseph had many talents. He was a handsome and well built young man. Mrs. Potiphar liked what she saw and invited him to display his hidden talents. He had already made a choice towards Godly character long before the challenge was issued. He lived out the previous choice of honoring God. Character was a choice. He chose wisely!

Monday, February 6, 2012

one brick at a time

I love conversations with people who are constantly thinking about ways to serve, grow, and expand the influence of God's Kingdom. I have had several today with a group of people who are serious about living as Christ.

The more I/ we as a church/ get into the book of Nehemiah, the more I see the value in people and effective leaders. There are many gifts among the body of Christ and all are important. The gifts we have been entrusted with must be used to build up others.

Our desire is to build community one brick (person) at a time. How are we going to live in such a way that our gifts give life and value to others? I would love to see your ideas expressed here!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

left, right, and up the middle

I am weary of political adds and statements. The left does this or the right said that. I am thinking that God is looking at His Kingdom and saying you know those words I spoke in Matthew 25 and the rest of my book, I meant that. The Kingdom of God is to be light to the darkness, love amidst the hatred, peace instead of chaos, unity overcoming division.

The left and right need to lay down their verbal weapons and embrace the move of God. I realize there are those on either side who don't care for nor acknowledge the reign of God. But I'm speaking to those who do. We should be lifting the burdens and leveling the ground the community lives on.

Let's live as Christ and love those who the world has given up on.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I love the book of Nehemiah. So much there for us to really understand what it means to see the hurt in people's lives. Nehemiah longed to see his "city" as it should be not as it was. What a great vision for all Pastors and Leaders. Nehemiah counted himself in with the people and together they were used by God to redeem a city.

Rebirth, renewal, rebuilding, repentance, the list is pretty long of the experiences they were part of. Week three of "Building Community one brick at a time" tomorrow. When you look at your city what do you see, Problems with potential or just problems?

With God all things are possible!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I love having my daughter and granddaughter in town for a few days. It is a great reminder of how strong love is even though I haven't seen them in over four months. God was so gracious to allow us the pleasure and pain of feeling, giving and receiving love. To not love, even when it hurts, is to miss out on too much. The possibilities with love are overwhelming.

I have no idea how God wired us, but man is love not the deal? I am in awe of God's gracious and lavish love. My heart is full. It is full of joy and sorrow, peace and pause, pain and freedom and yet I wouldn't trade it. I am so in love with my wife and kids. I am learning daily what it means to be in love with God and His people.

Don't hold back love. Give love as you have received it from the Father!

Monday, January 16, 2012


I am thankful for those who have given themselves for the betterment of others. I have been blessed to have relationships with people who championed causes. The thing about those men and women is that they lived their heart. They put into practice the change and effect they longed for.

Today, many will paste quotes and speeches as a way to mark the day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Great! But instead of just pasting quotes and videos, lets live with passion and sacrifice so that the generations that follow will have heroes and pursuits that are worthy of following. Not that we lift ourselves, but rather we lower ourselves as servants of King Jesus. Let's not limit the impact of those like Dr. King to one day, but rather each day live fully engaged in the will of God.

I have friends like Dr. Al B. Sutton, who continue the practice of proclaiming hope and change in places like Birmingham Alabama. Dr. Sutton's ministry continues pursuing equality and relationship among rich and poor, black and white, educated and uneducated. Each day he has to live that desire. Let's join that. So go ahead and paste your quote. But then don't forget to live that quote today, tomorrow and the next day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

the week ahead

Pretty crazy that we are already at January 11th. I mean, didn't we just unwrap presents? Wow, time is passing quickly. I am laying out the week ahead and realized the week ahead is half over. So much happening that it is hard to keep track. I am pausing to thank God for family and friends and the ministry HE has called me to.

In the frantic pace of life right now it is easy to miss the blessings right in front of us. Let's slow down long enough to embrace the family and friends and opportunities that are so very close to us. I am thinking it will give perspective about the week ahead. No matter what is on the schedule, it is not as important as the people on my schedule.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. HIS love endures forever!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I met a young man when I first moved here that I absolutely love. Nick has walked a hard road. He has been battling addiction for many years and yet, God has sustained his life. He made a decision a couple of months back to enter teen challenge and fight his addiction. Our church has been loving on and walking with him in his journey. He gave his life to Christ and is on the road to healing and wholeness.

I love the fact that Nick and others like him feel safe and welcome at GCC. It is in loving and accepting people with the Grace of God that lives are transformed and relationships formed. It is the way of Christ and the call of the church.

Nick was allowed to come back for the weekend to see his terminally ill grandmother. He was with us on Sunday at church. As a church we prayed over him. It was so incredible to see so many come and lay hands on him and speak grace into his life. Please join with me in praying for Nick and the many others that need so desperately the love of Christ that gives life!