Sunday, December 27, 2009

God makes a way

I suppose that some areas of the country are different than Oklahoma. Go way north and a few inches of snow with wind is not that big of a deal. Go way south and it rarely happens.

We tend to get caught in the middle. So, each winter I hope and even pray that bad weather will not blow in on a Saturday or Sunday AM. I despise cancelling services. So I watch the weather a little closer, trying to pay attention. Oklahoma forecasters are notoriously bad at forecasting snow in advance...but I listen anyway.

Sooooooo.... this week began with the mention of some snow...Wednesday or maybe Christmas Eve. Yeah...right!

It ended up coming in Thursday afternoon. It was drizzle,sleet, then ice, 40 mph winds, and then 8 inches of snow.

Christmas Eve services cancelled. I hated it, but it was the right decision..

What followed was brutal cold, no melting on Christmas day. Okay, we still have Saturday, sunshine, and above freezing temps. Our snow crews worked hard all day to get the snow off the parking lot... but it was too much.

The neighborhoods are in terrible shape ( Oklahoma does not plow neighborhoods). The main road were good..but the parking lots were as bad as the neighborhood streets.

So decision time yesterday afternoon..... Unsafe roads mean unsafe parking which leads to unsafe walking on ice... add to that the fact that some of our most dedicated people are older and it was a change that we could not take.

CANCELLED Sunday Services.

Some churches did not cancel...but it was the right decision for us. (This is a nightmare for a preacher... no one wants to cancel).

So I went up to the church this morning. The parking lot was an ice rink. Good decision.

Only one problem... a man had been planning to come forward this morning to publicly rededicate his life to Christ. I called his Son and told Him about the cancellation. He asked if his dad could come anyway and make his rededication in front of their small group who had agreed to meet at the church one way or another.

How could I say anything but "I will be there?" And so they came. About 30 total people (big small group.) I shared a brief scripture from Acts 16 - the Phillipian Jailer... "What must I do to be saved?" I shared that if people want to come to Christ, or get right with Christ, God will make a way.

One thing I have not shared... the man lives in Grove, about 60 miles away. He drove here this morning . He knew church was cancelled, but he came anyway to be with his son and family. Then when he got there, his son told him, "Charlie and the group are waiting at the church...we are going to do this."

It was a sweet moment as he shared about how much this group meant to him, and how much FCC had meant to him, especially in helping him come back to God.

After a time of confession, we prayed, took communion as a group, and celebrated. He wants to be baptized at his new church in Grove... that will happen next week. His son will baptize Him.

When we were done, I told them, "This is why we (FCC) do what we do." We help others to know, love, serve and share Him.

"Weather" or not, we had church this morning... I know lots of others that did too, some in thier buildings, some in thier homes... and some as families, some as small groups.

I loved it. And after they were all gone, I took a minute and remembered what it was like to minister to 30, 40, 60, or100 people. So many good times... I am blessed to serve a very large church, with awesome people every where. We have a tremendous staff, great elders, and dedicated Christ-followers everywhere. But it these special moments that remind me that Jesus was interested in the one sheep that wandered off. Luke 15:3-7 tells the story. I suspect He would never let a little ice and snow get in the way of finding "the one."

So, cancellation or not, it all worked out great. "One" came home, a small group saw how they could influence someone to come home... and I somehow, by God's grace, got to be there.

Good stuff....

By the way, "they say" it's supposed to snow again on Wednesday. I wonder what God is up to?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I have a friend who is taking a risk... a big risk. He is putting himself out there. On the surface it looks like a great opportunity to invest in someone that probably needs it. But it is risky.

I have been reading some stuff he is writing about this... and every time I think to myself, "Could I take that kind of risk?"

I dont know...but risk taking is part of our faith. Risk taking oozes from the Bible.

If we never took a risk, would we ever exercise "faith?" ( You know the answer)

If we live life taking no risks, who do we depend on? (obvious answer)

If we choose to do only what we know we can do, is that really all that challenging? ( not so much)

My friend is taking a big risk, and each step of the way, I applaud him for it. I respect him for it. If it turns out well, I think it will be worth the risk.

But if for some reason it does not turn out well, I think He still will think it was worth the risk.

That is a good place to be.

I am thinking about some risk taking myself for the coming year. Some of those risks I am already committed to. I alternate from apprehension to excitement. As it all unfolds, I believe that I will see God's hand at work. I already have, so I have confidence that even in the risk, God will see me through it.

But there are a couple things out there that I need to commit too... It's kind of like stepping off the edge of a cliff. You may be "roped in", have spotters and all that, but you still have to take the first step. When you step over the edge, you are "all in." I want to be "all in." But they are big steps. ( The first one over the edge always is.)

My friend's risk taking is helping me get closer to the edge on a couple of those things.

There is another who took a big risk.... on me. His birthday is this week. When I think about what He did for me... it makes me think about how "all in" am I for Him. I fall short.

I will let you know how it turns out for my friend and me. Pray for him... pray for me... and think about some ways you might take a step toward a risk.

Near the edge....


Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It's been a hard year for alot of people. I know that some parts of the country have really struggled with economic issues... 18 months ago, Tulsa was declared to be "recession-proof." To quote one of my favorite football analysts, "Not so fast my friend....."

Last night a local trucking company told its 1000 drivers on the road to shut it down. They had run out of money. Tulsa city leaders are trying to figure out how to cut millions out of the budget. They seem to be starting with public saftey. Not sure I get that one... after all, we still have lots of crime, record murder rate, and many fires , along with emergencies right and left.... but I digress....Schools are feeling the pinch. The state of Oklahoma looked good a few months ago. But not so much right now. The recession has caught up with us.

In spite of that, our church continues to be incredibly generous. Giving has been amazing. We will finish well ahead of budget and expenditures for the year. How do I explain that? Well, we have very generous people.

But it is more than just giving money on Sundays. It is an attitude. It is the attitude of generosity that motivates young families to go to John 3:16 and serve food. It is that attitude that challenges small groups to reach out to the hungry , cold, and sick to meet needs. People with jobs are helping people without jobs. Food is being supplied on many fronts. Kindness is expressed to people who are going through hard times. I only hear about a fraction of it, but I know it is happening.

One example....I know of a teenage small group that took thier own money and went and bought some kids gifts for Christmas. What is interesting is that the kids used their own money. As I understand it, they did not ask thier parents for the money. Their leader took them to a local store and they pooled their money and bought the gifts. Those kids learned alot. They learned about how generosity does cost something. They learned how expensive some of the stuff they take for granted really is. From what I have heard , some of them went home and told thier parents, "Thanks for all the things you do for me."

These are 7th graders.... enough said.

Generosity oozes out of our church, and it is not just into an offering plate. It's not just money. It is an attitude.

I do not know what 2010 will hold for us. I am confident that we will have all we need to do what God wants us to do. I do not know how much will be given. But here is one thing I know... we will not lose our generosity. It is part of who we are.

No matter what the economy does, I am so glad to be part of of a church that will always be generous. Way to go...FCC!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Best gift ever?

Is it really "the most wonderful time of the year?"

Sunday I talked about the Christmas Carol, "Away in the Manger." I talked about the simplicity of the Christmas story. I also talked alot about the "tender care of Jesus."

What suprised me were the tears. During and after services, so many people wiped away tears. What was it all about? I did not think the sermon was a "tear-jerker." But it touched a nerve in young and old.

It was because Christmas is hard for many people.

It is hard for the person who will have an empty space at their table this year.

It is hard for the woman whose husband decided to chase after someone else this year.

It is hard for the mom and dad who have lost thier son to cancer.

It is hard for the family who was told that the job they had counted on for years would not be there after the first of the year.

It is hard for the children who lost a parent to cancer.

It's hard for the couple who have prayed , sometimes for years, for a miracle baby to come into their lives.

It is hard for the wife that never feels like she measures up to her husbands standards.

It is hard for the children who hear their parents fighting in the other room.

There is alot to be happy about at Christmas. But here is something to think about. Look around at the people around you. Get beyond the surface and look into thier lives. You might find some lives that are messy, hurting, and full of discouragement. You might find someone who is worried and fearful. You might find someone who is hungry and cold. You might find someone who is just tired of putting on a happy face and telling everyone on that they are great.

Those people might just fall into your arms...and burst into tears. And if that happens, be there. Be fully there. Just listen. When appropriate, extend your arms to them. Show them a special kind of love that accepts them where they are, points them to Jesus and makes them feel loved. Listen, pray, and listen some more. Do what you can, and then give them a hug.

It may be the best gift you give this year at Christmas

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Compliments and Criticisms... Learning from both.

"It takes 10 compliments to offset 1 criticism." I found that out this week.

I like compliments....alot. I get alot of them. People are really good to me.

I am good with constructive criticsm... really. I get more than you might think... and if the spirit is right, I deal with it pretty well.

I am not good with nit-picky and veiled shots that people sometimes take.

This week I got all three.

After thinking about it, and sulking just a little bit, I realized that one specific compliment was given to me ( by someone whose opinion I value greatly), in advance of the negative statement. God brought it back to me and reminded me that I need to accept the kernal of truth, but not let it get to me. Most criticism, even the nit picky shots have a kernal of truth. God uses it , even when it hurts.

Then today I read a piece from a highly respected leader who wrote that "Leadership is hard." Why should it be any different for me? Some days are hard...honestly, for me, most are not. I am blessed to be in a great church, with great people, a great staff, and fantastic leaders.

Tonight Pam and I went to a young adults Christmas event... and I was reminded, "This is why I do what I do." Young adults, many of whom have come up through our ministry to youth in the past 15 years, serving God, raising families, and reaching out. I see thier leaders and I think, " We are in good shape for the future...Leadership is coming up." I came away boosted and enouraged by them. It was exactly what I needed.

Now I am ready to go preach tomorrow...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Learning lessons from good teachers

Who was your favorite teacher? In school, I had so many teachers ( and it has been so long ago) that I really can't remember a favorite. I had a German teacher that I liked... and a High School Geography teacher I really liked. Of course, he was also my basketball coach( maybe that was it).

But outside of school I have had alot of teachers. Pam has taught me alot. She does not conduct lessons...but she has taught me that you do what you have to do when things that are unexepcted come your way. I can never forget how she stepped up 3 1/2 years ago and took care of me when I was sick. She did not sign up for what she got. She taught me about committment, love, and keeping at it even when it was hard. She has taught be about sacrifice. And her care for me and my health continues to this day ( as we had a talk about my schedule). I would like to think I would do the same thing... but I am well know for being a little low in "mercy gifts." Her example shows me the way.

My parents are teaching me right now. Same sort of things. Into thier 70's, when things should be kind of cruising, they have hit some hard times. But they keep a positive spirit. They are supportive of my sister who has really struggled. Thier faith is strong, and thier love for each other is growing. Its encouraging to me... and teaches me about how I should be.

I have a co-worker named Lori who is teaching me some things right now. She has stage IV melanoma. She has had more heartbreak and sorrow in the last 3 years than most of us combined. And now this. The doctors prognosis is not good for her...but she is teaching me that there is optimism when you have faith in Christ. She is teaching me that it is okay to laugh your way through the bad news, and always be looking for the positive. Her notes that say, "Hey, Its a great day to be on this side of the grass," is pretty amazing. She is teaching me... about how to live well, even in spite of tough circumstances.

I have a friend who is teaching me that finding something you love to do for yourself is okay. He recently did something pretty cool and he is like the proverbial kid in a candy store. He is dedicated to God, to the church, to his family and to his work. It is cool to see him do something fun for himself. I need to learn a lesson or two there...

I am learning from Jesus. This month I have been looking at passages that deal with stewardship. Its a touchy subject for some people. Jesus did not pound on people, he just loved them, told them the truth and let the truth settle in their heart. That is what I want to do more of... "let the truth settle in thier heart." I do not have to change lives... that is the Holy Spirit's job. I just have to be used by him to get the Word out there...

God keeps putting teachers in my life... it must mean that I have alot to learn. I suppose that is true for all of us... Teachers are all around let's keep learning.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Athletics provide us with many opportunities for lessons... lessons that we all need to learn and re-learn.

Dez Bryant, the Oklahoma State wide receiver is known as one of the best college football players in the nation. He is a 1st team All- America, and has been a vital player in the resurgence of Oklahoma State football. He has a great personality ( at least from a distance), has stayed eligible in school, has been a good teammate, and in general had a great career.

This summer, it is alleged that he spent time with Deion Sanders and some associates, who at least on the surface seem to be connected to professional agents.(Maybe they were, but maybe they weren't) Apparently someone caught wind of this, and eventually the NCAA began to ask some questions.

In interviews with the NCAA, Bryant was "less than forthcoming." That means "He lied." He did not tell the truth about those encounters with Sanders and friends, because he "thought they might be violations of NCAA rules." So he did not tell the truth.

When it all came to light, what he did was not a violation. It was okay for him to eat dinner with Sanders and even take a jog with him. But the fact that he lied is a serious violation.

I have listened to lots of people who have said, "What is the big deal? He was scared? He thought that what he did was wrong, so he did not tell the truth."

The problem is that this is epidemic in our society. In the last month two promiment Head Coaches and some of their staff in Tulsa High School football have been suspended because they were "less than forthcoming with the information they were asked for." They lied. In the course of things, they did not seem like big deals either. But superintendents were forced to go before the media and announce suspensions, forfeits and other penalties, because according to the investigations , their guys did not tell the truth.

Here is the deal... If people of any walk of life are allowed to lie their way out of trouble, it tears are the fabric of who we are as a culture and people. If we can not trust High School coaches, who lead teams of 100 football players, we have a problem. If coaches can cheat, and then lie about it, or just not tell anyone the total truth (what's the difference?) then we have a problem.

Of course, ( and I hate to bring up the past), but in the middle 90's we had a president who lied under oath about his relationship with an intern, and it got him impeached. Should we be surprised that we hear more and more of this today?

Lying will get you arrested and thrown in jail (ask Martha Stewart). Lying will get you fired. Lying will destroy the trust of those you are closest to.. Lying wrecks your life.

I think God has a better that we should pay attention too.

"He who concelas his sins does not prosper, but who ever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. " Proverbs 28:13

Dez Bryant apparently broke no other rule than the one that says, "Thou Shalt not lie.." After he was caught, he came clean about it...but it has cost him, and his university. I don't like the punishment that the NCAA gave him. I think it is heavy-handed and inappropriate. ( We can debate this...but a one year suspension seems like a bit much here). But it does send a message... maybe a message that others have not been willing to send. If you lie, you will not prosper. You will not get away with it.

Tell the truth all the time.... It just is better that way.

One other verse from Proverbs 28:14- " Blessed is the man who always fears the lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble."

I fear that we have hardened our heart toward "truth-telling". But as I heard all the time growing up..."Honesty is the best policy."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Right Place, Right Time, Right Person

Matt Thomason and I have been in Southern California for the last 4 days. We have seen lots of really neat things. Lots of church things, and lots of beautiful scenery. And of course we have met some amazing people... The Kingdom of God is incredible that way... lots of people who do not know you, but are willing to share and help you, all because of a higher calling to the Kingdom of God.

The highlight of the trip for me came this afternoon. We have been studying what churches are doing to grow, and looking at some different models. One of the models we are very interested in, but we have struggled with one question. Over and over, we have tried to figure out the answer to a question and it seemed like there was no good answer. The solutions we were coming up with were just not right.

So after our lunch meeting, we headed north to see Cindy Minich ( former FCC member and a good friend). We found her place and follow a good visit, we headed out to Saddleback Church. But along the way, God reminded me of Crossroads Christian Church in Corona. We were going to drive through there, so we got off the busy freeway ( freeways are always busy out here.) We found the church and decided to look around. We found the worship center, which seats 3100 people. As we looked around, God put one person in our path who was a video editor for the technology team. He was very friendly and we got to talking.

In the course of the conversation, he told us of a process they work on, which was the answer to the question that we had. As he talked , we realized that this guy was giving us the answer, even though we had not asked the question. It was amzing. We walked out of there 5 minutes later, just blown away about how God had put us at the right place, at the right time to talk to the right person.

It reminds me of Proverbs 16:9. "In his heart, man plans his course, but God determines his steps" I love seeing God do that, and I am glad that we were "smart enough" to listen to his direction.

I think there is a place for good planning...but ultimately if we are committed to listening to God every step of the way, we will always end up in the right place at the right time, even to talk to the right people.

It's a great way to live.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Keep your eyes on God

This morning I was reading from 2 Chronicles 20. The enemies of God were gathered against Jehoshaphat and the people of God. The report had come to Jehoshaphat that there was this vast army that had already gathered in stratetic positions to attack.

"Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and the proclaimed as fast for all Judah. the people of Judah came toghetehr to seek help from the Loed, indeed , they came from every town in Judah to seek him." 2 Chronicles 20:3-4

So the people come and Jephoshaphat prays . (20:6-12) It is a passionate plea for help. His ending line in the prayer caught my attention.

" We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." 2 Chronicles 20:12

Have you been there? I have. I usually get the first part right... "I do not know what to do..." But the second part.... not so much. I usually say, "I do not know what to do, but I am going to do something... and I hope you bless it."

Jehoshaphat had the right plan... "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." We will wait to hear from you. We will do what you tell us to do. We have no other option but to do this.

Of course God answered... told Jehoshaphat that he really had nothing to worry about. God had it under control. God could see the future and He had a plan.

If you read the rest of the chapter, you see how God worked in a miraculous way.

I think alot of this came about because Jephoshaphat just keep his eyes on God. He was bold in his prayers, but patient in his actions. He waited to hear from God, and then let God unfold his plan.

Both in my life and as a church leader I could learn alot from Jehoshaphat. There are alot of unanswered questions about the future. But If I ( and our church ) keeps our eyes on the Lord, He will reveal the plan step by step. It will take GREAT FAITH. It will take OBEDIENCE. It will take PERSEVERANCE. It will take alot of HARD WORK.

But in the end, I (and we as a church) will celebrate. We will praise God for we have seen that 2 Chronicles 20:21 is true.

" Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever."

No matter what you face in your life, keep your eyes on God... listen for his counsel, obey and then watch Him work. That is what makes life and the future so exciting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


WHY? That was the question. It came from a person who knew that Matt and I had been to Chicago a couple weeks ago to talk with some church leaders about some new ways of doing things.

I got to thinking about that question. Why? It's a fair question in most contexts. And certainly, when I am using church money and time, I should be able to answer the question.

But I think part of what bothered me was the blank look on the person's face. I just felt like this person was saying, "Why do we need to think about doing new things? Why do you need to go somewhere else to talk to other people who are doing new things? Why? "

It took my back to a statement I started the year with.


I love that statement. ( I got it from Andy Stanley at Catalyst last year.) What are you dreaming about... or are you just living with your memories?

I have been doing alot of dreaming. I want to dream God-sized dreams that can only be accomplished with God-given power, Spirit-led faith and "whopper" sized committment.

We are on the verge of announcing some of those dreams on Nov. 1st. They are not my dreams... but they are dreams that God has laid on many of our leader's hearts, as we set out to "help others know, love, serve and share Him."

I have never been more excited by our future, and in a sense more overwhelmed by these dreams. But the truth is that God's plans for me, for us always involve faith , committment, big giant steps, and just a little bit of fear and trepidation. Those things keep me grounded... that it is about God and His plan.

Why? That quesiton can be answered by an old worn out saying... "Because if you keep on doing what you've always done, you will get what you have always gotten." ( my paraphrase)

It's a new day. God wants to do new things in us and through us. I am excited..

Be there on Nov. 1st.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Titles and naming babies

She announces that they are expecting a baby....7 1/2 months from now. Could she and her husband be any more excited? The anticipation of the new life coming into their home is very real. There is a healthy reality to the situation as well. Are we ready? Can we really afford this new mouth to feed for the next 18 years? Will everything turn out right? And the big one....


I have been thinking about this..... ( no, no big announcement here from Pam and me!) But naming a baby is a huge deal. Some people stick with family names. Some people stick with Biblical names. Some people pick the names of movie stars, athletic hero's , or politicians. Some names are a combo deal. They combine the names of two grandparents to come up with some sort of interesting name... you know how it goes. There are alot of oddball names out there. You try to be nice....but when they tell you the name they have picked out for their child, there are times you want to say, "What were you smoking when you picked that name out?" ( I never say that.. I just smile and say, "What an interesting name!)

Rick Rusaw once said, "Preaching is like giving birth on Sunday and then waking up on Monday to find out you are pregnant again."

I feel that way sometimes... but it is a good feeling most of the time. Except for the titles. (naming the sermon , so to speak.)

I am working on preaching themes for 2010. I have a over-reaching main idea. I have known where God has wanted to take me in the preaching for the last several months. Lots of thinking, reading, prayer, and talking with people... that's not hard.

Now it is down to where the rubber meets the road. The title. The hardest part of this piece of the planning is series titles and sermon titles. I have been knocking a big chunk of the plan out for the last few weeks...and it is always the titles that get me.

I know what some of you are thinking... "Charlie, it's not the titles that count, its the content." I know that... Don't tell me that... I am with you. But....

I want to be witty... I want those titles to be catchy. I want the title to explode off the bulletin ! I want them to draw people in, snag them , and then lower the boom on them in the message. Hit them right between the eyes (figuratively of course) with the title AND the content.

The problem is that I am not that witty or catchy. I am not a fisherman... and I have a lousy right cross. So this is a big struggle for me.

I look for ideas...anywhere... Other preachers, magazines, movies, quotes... anything to stir some imagination and creativity.

Then I think about others. Does the President of the United States have to title his State of the Union address each year? Nope. It is just the 2009 State of the Union Address Did Knute Rockne title his pregame speech and the Fighting Irish go ready to go out and do battle? I don't know, but most of the time I think they are called, "The pregame talk." How about Jesus? I don't read about him getting ready to go down to the Sea of Galilee thinking in his mind, "Let's see, what am I going to call this talk??? How about "The Sermon on the Mount?" Yeah, that's catchy, witty and creative.

I think about people who write books... and then I read somewhere that the publisher usually title the books... lucky dogs...

So I am left with mom's-to-be and preachers... And guess what? When we settle on a title ( or a name), it is a big accomplishment. It's a break through. A good title means alot. A good name means even more. You can't really delegate naming a baby to some stranger can you? Same with a sermon... A title is your first shot into the minds of hearers and readers. It opens the door to the heart.

And it is a struggle at times.

Naming kids can be a struggle too... Have you ever known a kid that needs to wait to have himself named. It is a stab in the dark isn't it? How do you know that he is going to grow up true to his name? I propose that we wait until all kids are 21 , before they get their name. Hmnnnn.... that won't work.

Well, I can wait till the sermon is done to title it, can't I? ( insert the word, "YES"). So I LABOR ( pun intended) away... Titles are coming... I know they are....

Sermon writing is alot like giving birth. Sometimes they just come fast and furious. Sometimes they take alot of pushing. Sometimes they come in multiples. Sometimes they come in the most surprising places.

But every time, it looks easy if you are not the one carrying the baby ( or writing the sermon). Those of us who are husbands think ( to ourselves if we are smart), "Hey I could do that." I suspect that some people in the pews think the same about the sermon.

You may think it, but a word of advice... DO NOT SAY IT (to either of us.)

One last thing about sermons and having babies... It sure feels good when you get them out...

Now, I have to title this blog...Ugh!

Monday, September 07, 2009

"Me thinks I am old"

This comes from a blog by David Landrith. It hit home.

This is the mindset of the freshman coming into college ( from Beloit College)

-They don’t remember when “cut and paste” involved scissors.
-Heart-lung transplants have always been possible.
-Wayne Gretzky never played for Edmonton.
-Pay-Per-View television has always been an option.
-Al-Qaida has always existed with Osama bin Laden at its head.
-“Whatever” is not a part of a question but an expression of sullen rebuke.
-Voicemail has always been available.
-The federal budget has always been more than a trillion dollars.
-Bill Gates has always been worth at least a billion dollars.
-The Starship Enterprise has always looked dated.
-They have grown up in a single superpower world.
-They never saw the shuttle Challenger fly.
-They never saw Pat Sajak or Arsenio Hall host a late night television show.
-Digital cameras have always existed.
-Tom Landry never coached the Cowboys.
-Jimmy Carter has always been an elder statesman.

Wow, I am old...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

One Month to Live..

The series, "One Month To Live" has been an earthquake for our church. Alot of things have come together to make it a high impact series.

* For sure, this is a God thing. He is moving. People feel some permission to ask some hard questions. They are thinking beyond the sermon time . They are taking it home, talking with friends and family. The challenge - "If you were given 30 days to to live, what would you change?" is powerful. God takes these kinds of thoughts and uses them.

* Our Worship Teams have done a great job of connecting all aspects of the service. Tim and his teams do more than just sing 4 or 5 songs on Sunday. He has other people that helped with the lighting, the staging, the sound, and the "marketing" of the topic within our building. People drive on to the property and they are confronted with topics. The "yard signs" are preparing people as they come in...

* The mood around this topic is upbeat and positive. This could be a sad , even dark series. But we have approached it with a very positive attitude. This is about living, not dying. People respond to that.

* The stories that are coming to me are amazing. What a joy to see and hear people talk about God and life in such revealing ways.

* The fall is usually really strong attendance wise. But this fall has been the best ever. Why? I think it is a convergence of many factors, not the least of which is that people are inviting friends. (hmmmmm..... Know, love , serve and SHARE...)

I am so looking forward to next week and seeing what God does when it comes to "Learning Humbly."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Birthdays... they come around once a year. This year's birthday was great fun. The Facebook friends came through big. Lots of greetings and good wishes. I was in meeting all day, but they were invigorating, encouraging, and hopeful.

Ate Lunch with James, Dinner with Pam, both of which were nice.

then tonight had another meeting. Cant say alot about it right now,but God is up to something in our church. I can feel it. and so can others. There are some amazing opportunities for us to reach people for Christ...some of which are beyond our imagination.

I have a feeling that the only thing that will hold us back is how big our vision ends up being. I don't want to be the limitation to accomplish the vision God has for FCC , our community and even the world.

So pray for our, our leadership teams, Mike, matt and myself. We all want to be led by God in all of these things.

One Month To Live is off and running. The responses have been amazing... Look for some more in the coming days.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Yesterday one of young moms was diagnosed with cancer. Pretty devestating to her, her husband, and kids.

What do you do when you find that out? You TURN....

TURN TO GOD. God cares...and God is there. He does not promise that we will not have valleys...but he does promise to walk through those valleys with us.

TURN TO FAMILY... I know they huddled together. They also have leaned on family

TURN TO YOUR SMALL GROUP. 24 hrs after the news... They were gathered in our church with thier small group, praying, crying, hugging, laughing and saying in every way possible, "We will go through this together."

Do you want to know why we are pushing groups and classes? Do you want to know why it is such big deal that you engage with a smaller group of people. Do you want to know why a class, a group or a ministry group is so important? Do you want to know why it is so important that you go beyond the 500-600 people in your service on Sunday???

Because you get cancer. Because your mom dies. Because your children rebel. Because your house burns down. Because you lose your job. Because you have a baby. Because you wonder if anyone cares. Because you need reassurance. Because you need to give hope, give love, and give reassurance. Because you need someone to share good news with...someone to laugh with...someone to share life with.

Because you need to give grace and receive grace. The best way to do that is to be a part of a group.

This couple did that. It has changed their lives. They have been part of helping change the lives of others... and now, they will go through another life changing experience.

Something tells me that this will turn out well. They have a great God, good family and a super small group.

Prayer for Tonya and David, Dalton and Andrea...

Sunday, August 16, 2009


When I was a young kid, we lived in a mobile home that made noises at night. Occassionally, it would get windy and when it got windy the trailer would shake. I would lie in the dark thinking, "I hope that is just the wind." It always was the wind. But in the back of my mind I would comfort myself by remembering that my dad was in the house and if anything bad were to happen , he would take care of it. But I was always glad it was the wind.

This morning I asked all of our current Elders, the Elders from the past year and two new Elders to come on the stage. It is our custom to "ordain" new elders with prayer. We have moved this to the morning services, in part because we want to involve as much of the church family as possible. God told Moses to lay his hand on Joshua in front of the whole a sign of his blessing and committment to Joshua's new leadership.

It occured to me that while these Elders are my friends, my leaders, as well as leaders for thier families and church, they also provide a certain measure of "comfort" because they are our protectors, overseers, and shepherds.

Things seem to happen pretty fast around FCC. We are growing and reaching people like never before. It seems like there are times I want to say, "Stop the craziness." But then I remember that God is in this... and that the efforts to reach out and connect people to God and in relationship with each other is what God called us to do. I love it!

Then I remember, when I want to jump off... that we have Elders in the house. They slow me down, prod me, love me, encourage me, support, sometimes warn me, other times they say yes and no. They teach , they lead groups, they help the other staff members, they pray for me, staff and church members all the time.

They are there. They find strength in our past, find power in the present, and share in our very hopeful future. They rely on the truth of scripture, the person of Christ, the personal ministry of the Holy Spirit, and the power of prayer.

There are there... even when it get's a little windy....

Thanks guys!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

One of your best leadership moves....

"If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you will be right." Steve Jobs, 2005 Commencement speech at Stanford. He's right.

This week, we addressed a subject that no one wants to talk about. In Numbers 27, Moses and God talk "transitions." That is always a hard talk to have, especially when you are a leader. God started it by reminding Moses that he would not be leading the people into the Promised Land. Moses said, "Appoint a man... so that the people will not be like a sheep without a shepherd." This is a statement that reveals Moses' character. He was not bitter or angry about the fact that he did not get to go in the promise land. He was thinking about the people he led. They needed a leader. God knew that and immediately he said, "Take Joshua."

No matter who you lead, there are questions that need to be asked and answered.

1. Do you have a plan for when you are not here? Probably need to talk about it with your spouse, children, business associates. Even at church, there needs to be regular discussion about the next generation of leadership on all levels.

2. Are you mentoring others to carry on into the future with your values? Fathers... have you passed on the important values to your children? In a marriage, if one of you does all the financial stuff, does the other one know enough to carry on if you are not here one day? Simple things like when you pay bills, passwords and usernames for online accounts.... a will goes along way toward helping people left behind in transitions. If you lead in a church ministry, who will come up behind you? After all, life goes on, and so does the ministry of God

There are many more questions. They do not all need to be answered today, but they will be answered...hopefully by you as you exercise leadership

After all, the people you lead (in any walk of life) should not be left like "sheep without a shepherd."

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Gracie in the house

We are starting an adventuresome week with Gracie in the house. Lizzie, Nathaniel, Lydia and James are on thier way to Florida.

So far??? Well it has only been 7 hours. A few thoughts.

She is a doll ( I am not biased)

She is so happy,

Pam and I are older than the first time around

We will have lots of fun with her.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What I need

Here is a prayer you won't hear on prosperity TV shows...

" Two things I ask of you, O Lord, do not refuse me before I die; keep faslehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of the Lord." Proverbs 30:7-9

What a novel idea...praying for only what you need.... Let's see....Jesus said, "Give us this day our daily bread..."

That sounds so revolutionary.... and so simple.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A visit from Gracie

BIG NEWS!!!! Two days till Gracie comes to stay a week with us...

Wow...what will it be like to have a 1 year old in our house for 8 days?

I think we will be tired...

I am glad it is possible for Gracie.

Pam is Gracie-proofing everything what. We will see what we forgot.

Fun times

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Church was awesome!

Church today was awesome! I am not a objective observer... I liked the sermon... alot. But then again I have really liked all of the Moses sermons this summer. I feel like I have really gotten to know the guy.

What makes a church service awesome?

Worship that draws passion for God out of people. ( Not talking volume, pace or anything like that.) I sensed passion in both services...

Stories of God working. The guy who told me that God has changed his life over the past two weeks. He had no idea that God could use him like he did. Or the guy who was just overwhelmed by the help a small group and the church gave him his family after their house burned down. There were tears of appreciation.

Having some trouble getting through the Gathering area after church. Why? People were hanging around, talking, laughing and connecting. Gotta love that .

Talking to some people in 101. Some great stories of how God is leading new people to the church. Lots of new people checking things out.

Seeing a Dad baptize his son into Christ... and seeing Jacob's face as he came out the water. Something happend there... too cool.

Joy... even from a lady who is fighting cancer, a husband who is dealing with severe marriage threats, parents of new babies.

Looking at small groups meeting in gathering area... praying, laughing, open bibles on the table... all the main ingredients of a great small group and class ministry.

Meeting a couple who reasearched communities in Oklahoma and decided that Owasso was their choice. they moved here from Orlando Fl. ... they love it.... they think they might have found a church.

Messages which hit us where we live. We all need a good dose of the truth, "God is God and I am not."

Walking out of the building exhausted, but exhilliarated at the same time.

Working with a great staff... we are back in town and it feels good!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Peace, strength and hope

Tonight, I slipped away for a while and visited a dear lady who wasn't feeling well. She's been a part of our church for a long time. But in the last year, her days have been complicated by a succession of health problems. It's not been easy for her.

She wasn't entirely coherant...but when I told her that I wanted to pray with her and her daughter...she perked up. So we prayed for peace, for strength and for hope in the coming days.

Peace, strength and hope. I have another friend that I pray for those same things each day. He is young. He is a Iraqi War veteran. He's been injured and hurt...seen things that most will never see. He has lots of tough days. I pray each day that he will have peace, strength and hope. I pray the same prayer for his sweet wife. She is by his side and is the picture of what marriage is all about to me. I used to teach her things as her youth minister. Now she teaches me... about Peace, strength and hope.

Peace, strength and hope. I pray that prayer for a young couple in our church. They lost a child a year ago or so. She is in her third tri-mester... things are going well... excitement is building. I see it in both of them. But I still lift up prayers for peace, strength and hope for them

Peace , strength and hope... this past Sunday in 2nd service, I just asked anyone who needed prayer to stand up. No explanations, no microphones... just an act of faith by standing. I was surprised by how many stood... and who stood... I prayed for peace, and strength and hope for them. It was a cool moment...and I felt there was an extra dose of Peace, strength and hope brought from heaven that day.

Might be a good prayer for someone you know...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

28,000 days?????

Day by day, moment by moment, we live life thinking that we will have "another one." Its an an assumption that we all make . After all , if we live an average life , we will live 28,105 days. ( 365x77).

But the Bible says "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." ( James 4:14). "Each mans life is but a breath." ( Psalm 39:5).

10 days ago the father of one of our members died in an traffic accident caused by a heart attack. It was totally unexpected. Then , on the day of the funeral an aunt died of a blood clot that struck her heart. Totally unexpected. It has been a blurry two weeks for them...first one funeral, then travel, and another funeral.

Last night our Children's Minister's ( Aaron Rathbone) father had a heart attack and died. Just like that. He was 63. ( By my calculations, if he lived an average life span he still would have had 6000 days left.) Mike Rathbone was a faithful minister of the Lord's church. He was a good father, good husband, an encourager of other people. He was the guy that was at the hospital when other people died, some earlier than expected, some not. He was the guy that comforted people in funerals, told people in hospitals that God would be with them before the surgery. He was the guy who spoke of the love of God, the neccesity of faith in Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.

He never would get to have his name in lights... never get alot of accolades. But he was a shepherd. He was a teacher. He was a kind man. No pretense about him at all. He was a man who was faithful unto death. And last night, He went home to his reward. Heaven.

I often find myself saying about someone who is a believer and has died, "Good for them, bad for us." I know that Aaron and his siblings were not ready for this. It was totally unexpected. But it turned out to be "the day." Thier comfort comes in knowing that He is with Jesus.

Aaron and his family will press on... because it is what Mike would have done. As hard as it is, they still have some days to live... full days... many happy days.... and some days filled with sorrow. Some days will be really hard, other days ...not so much. Mike will be missed by his wife, his children and his grandchildren and the church he served.

No one knows if they get the full allotment of days ( 28,000 plus). Some get more... one lady in oklahoma just celebrated her 109th birthday ( that is nearly 40,000 days). Some don't get to the average. Thier lives are in a sense cut short.

So the Psalmist says, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

No matter what tomorrow brings or doesn't bring, what is most important is whether or not you and I are ready to meet the Lord. Are you ready to face judgement? Am I ready? Yeah, I am . I am confident Mike was too. How do I know? We share a common bond... Jesus. He makes the way to God possible through His blood and sacrifice on the Cross.

For that I am thankful.

Your prayers for Aaron and his family are appreciated...


Monday, July 13, 2009


Its late on Sunday night... I am up alone... Pam has gone to bed, but I felt poorly... I think it was becuase I did not get a good amount of rest all week..and especially today. I have a routine that basically means getting up early on Sunday, go preach, come home and rest for 30 minutes, go back and preach, then do lunch, take a 2 -3 hour nap and then get up, do some things. maybe go to evening church...or just lay low.

Today, I did not get the long nap...and progressively I felt worse. I went to bed, but laid their with this sick feeling in my head... I HATE feeling that way. It just shuts me down. I cant really explain it...I know it happened because I did not rest like I should... After 3 years, you would think I would have figured this out...its not going to get better...

So I need to stick to the routine. I am hoping I can settle into some sleep soon...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Losers who Win

I am convinced that we learn more from our losses than we do our wins. We celebrate wins. We learn from losses.

If you are into athletics, that is no surprise. How many times did you hear a coach say, " We need to learn from this loss?"

The Bible is full of examples of men and women who lost. That is one thing that I love about the Bible. It is full of losers who learned. It is full of people who tried, failed and then tried again. Sometimes they broke through and had a win. Sometimes they did not.

It seems to me that we don't try things unless we have a reasonable shot at winning. Yet, if all we do is win, it could mean that we are not stretching, not challenging others, and not neccesarily following Christ. He was a risk taker. The Apostles were risk takers. Sometimes they won, sometimes they did not. But there was one thing that was true about them... they tried things.

I think that is called faith... no matter if you win or lose.

Take a risk today. Stretch your faith. Win or lose, you will be better for it.

Monday, July 06, 2009


I try not to rant in this blog....but I am going to rant.... I am not sorry for what I am about to say.

In the past two weeks, we have watched the media and society in general take what was the death of a pop music superstar turn into a circus. I have heard that MJ's ( not the basketball player) memorial will be unlike any the WORLD has ever seen. Now alot of that is hype. There is no doubt. It is about ratings and it is about $.

Representative Peter King of New York is being smashed by the same media because he said that the media coverage of Michael Jackson's death and memorial is an "orgy of glorification." He has called for America ( and especially the media ) to honor our American troops who are sacrificing thier lives for our freedom. That is not a 4th of July message... that is everyday! King will be villified by most media outlets as insensitive, cruel and abusive in his portrayal of Jackson.

Well, that is one situation. The other is almost as disturbing. Somehwere in the south, there is a woman and 4 kids who are grieving the death of their NFL Superstar husband and dad. I said HUSBAND AND DAD and apparently BOYFRIEND to a girl 16 years his younger, whom police say was laying at his feet, with one gun shot in her head. No disputes thier death. And apparently, no one disputes their relationship.

So, read the media outlets.... Steve McNair was a pillar of the community, known for his charity work in Nashville. He was considered a mentor for NFL athletes. He has been called in the last couple days, " One of the classiest guys in Nashville." There is some concession that there was a different side to McNair that none of us knew...but that should not skew our view of what a classy guy this was and how this "episode" should not taint his legacy whatsover.


Well, I got to tell you.... WE LIVE IN AN UPSIDE DOWN WORLD. That is not my idea. There are songs written about how messed up our world is... There are books about it. And there is one book that tells us that from the beginning of time, man ( and woman) did not get it right. It is a book that tells a story of how messeed we all are, and yet how there is a GOD OF TRUTH who LOVES people and wants to guide them into RIGHT SIDE UP living.

But before that can happen, we all have to be able to confront the TRUTH about ourselves, our athletes, musicians, politicians. The fact is that the TRUTH will come out here, or at judgment.

I am in the middle of a series on Moses from Exodus and Numbers. Great guy, certainly not perfect. ( In the Bible, we learn that outside of Jesus, we all have a bumpy past.) He blew it several times. But somehow, after 120 years, the Bible says, "His eyesight was clear and he was as strong as ever." His legacy was strong at the end. Numbers 11 tells us that "Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth."

It occurs to me as millions line up for a glimpse at the Staples center in LA tomorrow , and as people gather in a football stadium in Nashville, that maybe just a few minutes everyday, looking at the life of a guy like Moses might give us a better clue as to how to live in an upside down world.

He will never get the attention that Michael Jackson got ( in life and death), or that Steve McNair go ( in Life or Death), but this week in my heart, and in person, I will honor the life of a good man named Don Klahr. Don loved his church. He loved the Lord. He loved His wife of 30 years, Dickey. He loved his children. He loved me. He fought health problems for the last year, but when I saw him, he told me that he was ready...and he knew it was in God's hands. He was just a good guy who had his prorities in order and who lived and died the way God would want for us. He's the kind of guy that churches are built on... faith, strength, honor, and love.

For me, I will honor Don Klahr... and others that come to mind who did not need to be on Enterntainment tonight, or be the lead story on Sportscenter. All Don and many others that I know did was "Love God with all his heart, mind , soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. ( Mt. 22).

Give me 1000 Don Klahrs... I won't waste my time with Pop Superstars and NFL stars. They get enough applause and accolades at their concerts and ballgames...

Let's spread it around alittle bit. Do you know someone who is a Don Klahr kind of guy? Go tell him.... let him know that hes the real hero ...a hero in the right way. He probably will dismiss or deny it, but the truth is that guys like Don... they deserve a little slap on the back. Don would tell you , "God deserves the slap on the back. He changed me."

End of Rant... The Gospel group TRUTH had a song 20 plus years ago that was quite popular. It is entitled "Living life upside down." It tells a story of exactly where we are today.

John has a new way of looking at life
He’s tired of his job, his kids and his wife
He says the secret to his successWas in leaving and finding himself
Now he’s someone to somebody else.
And you say we’ve risen to a new age of truthY
ou’re calling it a spiritual Godly pursuit
But I say, I say,

(chorus)What if we’ve fallen to the bottom of a well
Thinking we’ve risen to the top of a mountain
What if we’re knocking at the gates of hell
Thinking we’re heaven bound
What if we spend our lives thinking of ourselves
When we should have been thinking of each other
What if we reach up and touch the ground
To find we’re living life upside down.

We’ve got a program for saving the earth
While unborn children are denied their right to birth
One baby’s blessed, another cursed
Have we made this world better or worse
Now that the life of a tree comes first.

You say we’ve risen to a new age of light
You’re telling me what used to be wrong is now right

But I say, I say,
What if we’re living,
what if we’re living,
What if we’re living life upside down.


Thursday, June 25, 2009


We are getting old(er). Pop stars that we grew up with are dying. I have watched some of the coverage...and have read some of the thoughts of my friends on Facebook. Michael Jackson's passing this afternoon has struck a nerve....

Why? Because we are getting old(er).

Many of us who grew up in the 70's remember the Jackson Five. We remember the ever- changing music landscape and how it really reflected the cultural changes of the day. And for those of us born in 1958, we remember MJ being a superstar young adult, who got really wiered after he became famous. His was a troubled life. He had the talent, the fame, and the money. And the heartache ( no pun intended .) The last 25 years were bizzare at best.

I listened to a Doctor who was asked, "Isn't 50 really young to suffer a cardiac arrest?" The Doctor said, " No, it's not, it's actually pretty common."

Hmmmmnnnnnnn.... We are getting old(er). 50 doesn't seem that old...and in many ways it's not... Honestly, I like 50. But I am seeing the things my parents have seen for years. Contemporaries of thiers have been dying for years. Now, contemporaries of mine are dying too. Guess that is called getting Old(er).

So this begs the question for all of us.... Are we ready to leave this world and get on with the next? Psalm 90:12 says, "teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

We ought to figure this out. After all.......

We are getting old(er).


It's been a good vacation. Lots of sun, water, time with Pam and Abigail. It will have been 14 days when we get back. Pam and I believe that is the longest vacation we have taken...

Some observations....

ANYOMINITY is a nice thing... at least for a while... Here I am just another dude walking around with his shirt off (not a great visual I suppose). I need that from time to time.

Because of TECHNOLOGY, it is hard to completely get away. I checked my email WAY too much, was on Facebook more than I wanted to be... and along the way asked a few more questions about church than I should have. And guess what???? The church does quite well without me. (You would think I would have that figured out.) Maybe that is the biggest "learning" from a vacation for me.

I have done alot of WALKING , which has been hard because of heat and humidity. But I persevered and kept after it.

The hardest parts of vacation are the three days before and the three days after you get back. Most of us have jobs that have deadlines that accomodate vacations, but do not give into them. We work hard to get ahead before we go, and then we have to work hard to catch up when we get back. Just the way it is.

I appreciate vacation because there is an start and end. I also appreciate the fact that I get vacation, because it means that I have a job. In 2009, that is a big deal.

I have appreciated this vacation because we really had no I read alot.

- The Essential Church- Ranier
- Beyond Megachurch Myths- Thumma
- The Three big questions for a Frantic Family- Lencioni
- Pistol ( Biography of Pistol Pete Maravich)- Kriegel
- God Built- Steve Farrar
- Bible- (just parts of it)

It has been alot of reading...Most of it work related... but pretty good stuff...What did I enjoy the most? PISTOL was really good.. I am a basketball reading this book was fun and interesting.

One other observation... Life goes on, even when you are on vacation. Rock and TV stars die...and so do many others. Church members get difficult diagnosis from doctors, politicians confess thier affairs, governments under go revolutions, the stock market goes up and down, and LIFE GOES ON.

When I get back, I will jump back into writing, preaching messages, working on vision and the exciting future of First Christian Church, loving my wife, kids and granddaughter, and working harder to establish relationships with people outside of the Kingdom...And along the way, I want to build a stronger relationship with God... ALL PART OF LIFE...

It has been a very much needed break...God blessed us...



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vacation report

Technology confuses me until it blesses me. Today I got to e-chat with Abigail who was in Phnom Penh Cambodia. It was a nice surprise. She arrives back in the states Sunday Night. I think it has been an incredible experience for her.

Joel has arrived in Portland Maine. On to sports Camp tomorrow. I know that he is so excited to have something to do, after being unemployed for the last 7 months. I was grateful to God for saftey in travels ( about 3400 miles). And I don;t believe they stayed a night in a hotel. They had lots of friends strategically placed.

So, here I am in Panama City. Someone asked "why two weeks?" It takes me a week to relax... and to enjoy things. I feel that after 5 days, it is happening... no real schedule, no demands to speak of... lots of reading... time on the beach, or in the new Pier Park which is really cool.

We watche Paul Blart, Mall Cop tonight... pretty funny.

I say a vacation is a something where you can do what you want to do, when you want to do, how you want to do it. I can be pretty anonymous here in Florida, which is really nice...Sometimes, living in a smaller town, and pastoring a larger church, makes it harder to go out to stores, or restruants and not be stopped. Don't get me wrong...I like connecting to people...but there are times when I feel like being anonymous is something that is refreshing.

So it is going goood.... reall good...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two much?

I have become quite conflicted over all this communication technology. I have a cell phone, that allows me to access my office email account at almost any time I want. I have a lap top computer, which has WiFi capability, thus making me accessible to almost anything I want. I have developed the ability to Text on my phone. That is is almost always to our kids, or to Pam, and a couple friends. Then I got on Facebook. Mostly to spy on church members..but I post on there every so often. It is amazing that people I know not know want to be my friends on Facebook. Hmmmmmnnnnnn... I used to think you needed to know someone before they became your friends. Now, I am also on Twitter. Although I have not figure it out... It just seems to me to be a "sound-bite" kind of deal where you tell people what you are doing ( some are much more transparent that I ever would be), what you are thinking... and what others are telling you. You only have 142 characters to use in this, so it has to be brief.

All of this is okay...some of it is interesting... I enjoy getting a glimpse into people's lives...but the flip side...not so much. I am too much of a control freak. And gues what? On My vacation I have my computer, phone, texting, facebook, and twitter.. That's a problem.

On a happier note... I am far away from O-Town... on a white Sandy Beach for the next 12 days. What will we do? Pam and I will walk, read, lay around on the beach, check out some of the cool things in Panama City... not answer the phone unless it is one of our kids... and in general, just veg. But I also look forward to some quiet time where maybe God can work on some things in my life. So lots of bible reading, prayer, and some solitude.

The last time we were here was 3 years ago... just a couple months after the stroke. I feel alot better this time around. I still hit the wall... and when that happens, my speech slows down...I labor for words.

I am not near as verbally conversant now. Pam has had to live with someone that she could never shut up to living with someone who might only utter 10 sentences in a 15 hour drive. Lots of quiet...( I really am content to listen to music, or Pam talk). She misses the old charlie... and so do I. But it is what it is...

More from Pamana City later this week.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Tomorrow morning, Abigail gets on a plane and heads to Cambodia for two weeks.

Pretty amazing... first that she would go....Second ...that i would let her.

But I saw God's hand in this from the first time Abigail told me last fall... I saw his hand in her fund-raising... and I saw it in her eyes as she worked this spring with a group of girls at College Heights Christian Church. She has a passion to help young women.

I always thought she would be the star especially. And she was good. But she was better at Volleyball. Played in High School, and then played in College ( Made 2nd team all-region). But all along, it became clear that ministry was where she was headed. So this year, along with working two jobs, carrying 16-17 hours of school at a really good GPA, she also helped in the ministry at College Heights.

She packs more activity into less time than most. She is disciplined, loving and caring. She loves God, loves Mom and Dad, Loves her guy ( tyler), and her brother and sisters. And she will love her new team and the people they serve across the world.

Pray for her...For protection, strengthen, peace, and a hope-filled time sharing the love of Christ.

Pray for Pam and I. Abigail is a long ways away. Joel is driving from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine... And we are traveling for most of the next three weeks.

I am thankful that God can keep up with all of us, including Lydia, James, Elizabeth, Nathaniel and Gracie.

Thanks for the prayers

Sunday, May 31, 2009


I once heard Wayne Smith, then the Senior Minister of Southland Christian Church in Lexington Ky. talk about his Sundays. After preaching multiple services on Sunday Monring and then again Sunday night, he would come home and his wife would want to watch "In Touch" with Dr. Charles Stanley. He did not think that was all that great, although Stanley was his wife's "favorite" preacher. He told us that when he comes home after a long day, he did not want to see Stanley, but preferred seeing Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, say, "Go ahead, make my day."

So today has been long... the whole week has been long... Many meetings...some counseling, lots of thinking and dreaming about the future, and writing a sermon, thinking about future sermons... then two sermons this morning,,, visiting a Life group this afternoon and then off to FIGHT NIGHT tonight. All of it was good... but it drained me more than usual.

This is all a pace of a day I think that i can handle until I actually do it... and then I get a sick feeling... the "wall" is fast approaching and I crash... It was too much. I have crashed... I have this feeling of being closed in...words slow down, and some words do not make it from my brain to my mouth. Sentences are harder to complete. It is all a sign that I have gone too far. This week felt alot like some of the weeks before strokes three years ago... you know the kind where you don;t feel like you have control over much, you are reacting to lots of crisis and the energy is flowing out of you...

So I get home, through on some shorts... start thinking about my next week...decided to watch some TV...nothing on ( basketball finals begins Thursday). Oh , there is Hockey... now that looks like a treat! NOT!

So we finish off the TNT movie ( TWISTER). and then hit the DVR button... What is left to watch from the previous week?

Well, it is highly spiritual. It is uplifting... No, it is not Charles Stanley, or Dr. David Jeremiah... ( I like them both) No, on this night its not Dirty Harry..."

The winner is.... WIPEOUT.(ABC).. That is no conincidence since I am totally wipeout. That is about as mindless as you can get at the end of the day. And it will help me shut it down. Sometimes that is what I need.

I am shutting it down this week , hibernating, writing sermons, study guides from Moses and basically going to get two weeks work done in that I can be gone for 3 1/2 weeks. One week in Chicago... 2 plust weeks on the North Florida Coast.

But for tonight, it is about watching people make total fools of themselves by trying to navigate a obstacle course that is impossible to conquer. Now that is entertainment.

Got to Go.... they have the slippery course coming up...looks cool.


Saturday, May 09, 2009


This weekend we celebrate Mother's day. Always a fun day. But this year it is a little extra special. We will be leaving in a little bit to go to Fayetteville. Tomorrow, Nathaniel, Elizabeth and Grace will participate in a Baby Dedication at Fellowship Bible Church.

Baby Dedications are really special. At FCC we used to do them once a year. We would bring a boatload of babies, moms and dads up on the stage, ask a couple questions, and pray. But three years ago we started doing them individually. This is a special moment for the family and the church.

Either way, this is important. There are three committments in a baby dedication. One is the committment of the child to God. Every child conceived is a gift from God. ( Psalm 139). Every child is special, and holds special promise for joy and happiness . But, I believe that God puts us on the earth for a purpose. And the discovery of that purpose begins with parents saying, "God we know this child comes from you, and that he/she is YOURS."

Second, there is a committment of the parents to God. This dedication is a public step of committment to raise the child to love God and love others ( Mt. 22:37). When parents stand before God, family and congregation, they are saying, "we dedicate ourselves to be examples of Godly living, to raise our child to know God and His Son Christ, and to follow His commands."( Deut. 6)

There is a third committment. It is often overlooked in many instances. It is the committment ot the Church family to assist and support mom, dad and child in this monumental task of raising children. So in our dedications, there is a part where the church family is asked to committ as well. We take it seriously.

When we began to have children, 26 years ago, we prayed that each one of them would love God and love others. All four of ours do. Now, there is another generation. And our prayer is the same.

We could not be more thankful that Gracie's parents love God and love others... and we know that with their committment, the committment of their church family, the committment of their extended family and the blessing of God will result in a wonderful young lady being used by God to "make up there come down here."

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Over the past three weeks , we challenged our church to bring food to stock our Community Care Food Pantry. We have been giving out alot of food over the past 12 months. There is a big need for people who are finding themselves squeezed by economic realities. So today was the day, and the front of the stage was just FULL. I loved seeing people bring their food sacks in. From Senior Adults, to very young kids, they brought the food in and put it on the stage.

Why was this important?

1. It is the responsibility of the church to reach out and feed those who need food. The church can do a great job with this, if we take it seriously. There are lots of other things that our small groups and classes do for people. But this is something everyone can get involved in.

2. I love the idea of getting the church involved in this. We could go buy food, but that does not give us "buy in" with the congregation. We could go door to door in the neighborhoods and collect food. That's not a bad idea, but why not just ask the church to bring it? We did and they did.

3. We need to give people of all ages opportunities to GIVE. It's not just about money in the offering plate. We want to expand this aspect of stewardship to show people there are lots of ways to give. Food, time, encouragement, prayers, love, and so much more!

4. We needed a "tangible" way to show people that we have resources that we want to share. God has blessed us, and in turn, we believe that we are to be a blessing. We want to bless our church family and our community. This was just one way we could do this...

I thought our church family responded in a fantastic way. And I know that we will continue to do so.

One other side note... today at the end of services, we prayed for 7 people that will be part of our FCC "GO" Teams for this summer. We will have people in China, Thailand, Honduras, and Cambodia this summer ( there may be more!). Again, this is a way to give to the work of the Kingdom of God. Some great stories there.... stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Is it a pandemic?

Is it Swine flu or N1H1 virus?

Do we have enough medicine to fight it off?

Should we go to Mexico?

It may be serious. It certainly bears watching. We should pray for those that are sick, and do what we need to be healthy. ( Like wash our hands.)

But the best line I heard was from my friend Vince.

" The problem with 24 hour news channels is that they have to manufacture news 24 hours a day, and there isn't that much news."

I think I like his thinking.... What would happen in the world if we only had a newspaper to read in the morning? Wait a minute... it used to be that way.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Changing times... I was thinking about how Facebook provides some immediate feedback on a sermon, paper, article, or just a subject that a person writes about..

It is the day of immediate feedback....Is that always good? Do we get feedback that requires little thought? Do we actually mull over things, let them incubate in our soul, or do we just react? And when we are looking for feedback on Facebook, or in a blog, do we consider what is going on someone's life when they give feedback? It is pretty hard to read facial expression, or hear tone of voice....

By the way, I am growing to like technology...We used SKYPE to talk to Gracie and her parents. That's cool...

Back to the feedback.... what do you think?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Your ATTITUDE makes a difference...

Rick Rusaw leads a dynamic church in Longmont Colorado. He recently wrote the following to his church... I thought it was really good.

"Hi, how are you? Welcome to the men's restroom." These were the words that the small crowd of guys heading into a restroom heard. "Thanks for coming to the restroom." This was in a busy public place, and I can tell you by the response from most, it was not what you expected. This gentleman was the greeter of the Charlotte International Airport men's restroom. His job for the airport was to greet you as you used the restroom. I'm pretty confident it was also his job to keep the place clean. There is an unspoken rule among guys, and that is, you don't speak in the restroom-not to anyone. Except, when you are answering questions from the only other guy in the place, only to discover he was on his phone and not talking to you-that's another story.

In this restroom everyone was talking because everyone was caught off guard. Our greeter had changed the atmosphere. Michael was exuberant, he was smiling, he was proud of his work. He even offered breath mints or mouthwash as you were leaving. The rule is, never turn down a breath mint-but that's another story. I thanked him for thanking me for coming, and he said in return, "Thank you for thanking me-for thanking you for using the restroom."

He liked his job. His bright smile and great attitude almost made me want to go back again before I got out of the airport, which as I get older is becoming more the norm-but that's another story. You can change your place and your environment, with one tool-attitude. Your smile, your greeting, and your attitude can make the stinkiest of places different in a moment. Whose world needs to be brightened a bit? What place needs you to make a difference? I can tell you one place that doesn't-but you would have to go to Charlotte to find it. By the way, if you find greeters this week at the restroom doors, you'll know where I got the idea!

I like the his statement in the last paragraph. "You can change your place and your environment, with one tool- attitude. Your smile, your greeting, and your attitude can mke the stinkiest of places different in a moment."

As you go to church tomorrow, or to work on Monday, or as you hang out in the house, or as you wander out to the soccer or baseball field for what seems like the tenth time in a week, you bring something with you EVERY time.... your attitude. Check it out , make sure your attitude is the same as that of Christ Jesus ( Phil 2).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Matt's Most Excellent Idea

Wednesday nights have changed ... It used to be I taught or preached each Wednesday night. Sometimes it would just be Bible Study. Other seasons it would be more of a worship service and then a sermon.

But this last fall we shifted to a strategy that included small groups on Wednesday nights, ( along with home groups on almost every day of the week) and small groups and classes on Sunday mornings.

Maybe one of the toughest things for me was answering the question, "What would I do on Wednesday nights?" Its taken a while, but I think I am figuring it out. I hang out and talk to people. Doesn't seem like alot... and at first, I thought it was not productive.

But lately, it has begun to fit a little better. For instance tonight... I talked with a lady I had never met before, whose two sons come to Glimpse. Good conversation. I talked with a family who attends FCC with their two daughters. They are really cool people, and I think we are friends. I talked with a guy that I like alot...just touching base on how his life is going and what God is doing.

I talked to 4 skateboarders in the parking lot, gently ( yes I was nice and gentle) about how I don't have anything against them or their skateboards, but they really can not do it in the parking lot in and out of cars. Why? Because they would get run over and I would have to be the one to go tell their parents that their son was killed in a church parking lot. ( I thought I had gotten through to them...but as I headed to my car they were climbing on the PODS at the end of the parking lot...I presume it was to make a jump.... I yelled- loud ... sorry guys)

I talked to a small group of 3 couples.. Chris, Morgan, Eric , Lacey, Bobbie and Liz are some of the coolest people around. All in their 20's they study the Bible, support each other, are masters at reaching out to other young couples, and have some of the most mature attitudes I know. They are servants in the church...totally engaged in the life of the church. They are teachers, computer dudes, electricians, moms, dads, and just really good members of the church. I left that conversation feeling really really good about our church and its future. Thank you God!

I talked to a friend of 15 years who has been blessed by God in his business. He and his wife are super parents, great committed members of the church, servants, and people who take thier roles as parents of a bunch of kids very seriously...loved just talking life with him.

I talked to a two couples who are older than me by alot. But they are some of the "youngest" people I know...and they love the church and all the youth there on Wednesday nights.

I also got to sit in on Glimpse. The place was packed, the worship was great...and it was really good to see all the adults in there who are investing their lives in these teenagers. COOL!

I loved doing that. It is especially good because on Sunday Mornings, I hardly get to talk to anyone. So Wednesday nights have become very productive for me... It allows me to connect to lots of different people in a relaxed manner...

THANKS MATT....Great idea

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Listen to the news, read the newspapers, click on the internet... in 2009 it all seems like bad news.

So some good news is always welcome. Hero's are pretty welcome sights during this "tough time." Three hero's came to my mind today... just kind of popped in there.

One is Captain Chelsey Sullenberger of US Airways. On the plane that landed in the Hudson, this man of few words simply said to the passengers, "brace for impact." They impacted allright... and everyone lived. Along the way, the Captain was the last one off the plane...checking to make sure that everyone else was off the sinking plane.

HERO LESSON: Be the best at preparation, pay attention to the tedious instruction at work, and you never know when it might all come into play in one "defining moment." Do your job, and do it well. Hey, if you are on that plane, aren't you glad he and the rest of plane's crew were paying attention in pilot school? Heroic actions come at the interesection of preparation and confidence.

Two is Captain Richard Phillips . He's the captain of the ship that was taken captive by Somali Pirates. He traded his own life for that of his crew, spent days in a life boat, often with a gun pointed at him. Navy Seals rescued him and he was eventually brought home to a Hero's welcome. But honestly, he wanted nothing to do with it. He said, "the millitary are the real hero's, next time you see a soldier thank them. " Then he took his wife's and said, "We want to go home and spend time as a family."

HERO LESSON: Courage is cultivated in the quiet times when your soul is shaped by what you believe about yourself, and those you serve. It seems to me that in one "defining moment" Captain Phillips thought the best deal was "you take me, turn them (the crew) loose" and we will figure this out. " That's courage that he did not summon up in one moment... it was a character decision forged in much quieter times.

The third one is Susan Boyle. She is the 47 year old English Spinster that competed in Britain's edition of Idol... Britain's Got Talent. It was a long day for the audience and the judges. They were tired, and had seen some terrible acts. Out comes Susan and she tells them that she wants to be a singer. People in the crowd snicker, judges writing her off before a note is sung..."let's get through this one"... Well, she sung her socks off...and got unanimous support from the jugdes, and an apology from Simon Cowell of all people, for dismissing her before she even sang... And over the weekend, other recordings of her songs have appeared... if everything is on the up and up, she is no one hit wonder. You will be hearing from her.

HERO LESSONS- If you don't believe in yourself, no one will. Follow your dreams. Be ready when the call comes and you find yourself on the stage of your dreams. And then after it is over and the so-called experts act all astonished about what they just heard... let them know you knew you had it in you... you just had to get someone to look past the outside to what was waiting to burst out from the inside. And keep saying that all the attention won't change you!

All three of these people, from different walks of life, remind me of something very important. There is a little bit of hero in all of us. A kind word, a prayer, a annonymous gift, a smile, or an email that just says, "you are worth it.".... all of those make hero's out of us. We don't do those to become known as a hero, but we ought to set out each day, to lift someone up...

There is alot of bad news in the world...but thank God for some hero's who teach us what it means to spread a little news along the way. Be a hero to someone today. You have it in you!

Monday, April 13, 2009



-Rainy Day....but our First Touch Team was awesome.
-Record #'s of people- but evenly distrubted services (3 of them)
-Really great worship time- great mix of upbeat, special songs and some quality reflection time
-Repsonse from people who came- very positive.

Lots of people worked really hard to make it happen. From those who spent hours at the property on Saturday, to Worship Teams who were there for 6 plus hours, to First Touch, Children's and EC people- all of them invested heavily in the day. I love our people.

I think that Jesus was good with it all... The focus was on Him.

The day after- tired. So its a day off...doing little things around the house, lunch appointment and class tonight. It will take a couple days to feel normal again. (Whatever normal is.)

The Monday after ressurection day 2,000 years ago???? What a day for the disciples of Jesus! Wow.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

WWJD on Easter?

QUESTION: If Jesus lived in 2009, what would he be doing on Easter Sunday?

Just a question... At staff mtg. today I asked that question... I have been thinking about it this week. I figure that he would celebrate His Ressurection... I guess. But maybe he would do more than just go to church.

Someone said to me this week, "Well, you are getting ready for the biggest Sunday of your year, right?"

From an attendance standpoint... Yes.

From an opportunity standpoint... ( to reach new people), its a big deal.

But I cringe when I hear that... Every Sunday is a big day to us.

Can I confess something? It's pretty easy for all of us on staff at our church to miss Easter. Many of our staff are so busy planning, putting teams together, developing services, writing messages, and anticipating potential problems (weather, check-in, enough communion, plenty of bulletins, timing of services, parking, visitors, and so much more) ... that it is very possible to miss what Easter is all about. We are not bad Christians. We are not spiritual midgets. We care about all the people that will come... and do come every week. But honestly, we could learn alot from Jesus about crowd "control", messages, and what is really important on a day like Easter.

So thinking about what things Jesus might do on that day...keeps me on track.

By the way... I love our staff... their heart and dedication to the Kingdom is unmatched in my mind. And I think through it all, each of them will find a way to really celebrate Easter.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Last night, ( April 3) Pam and I went out to celebrate our anniversary. The actual anniversary is April 5, but just like 28 years ago, that falls on a Sunday... and we are pretty busy on Sundays.

So, we went out last night. Before we left the house, Pam gave me my "present." It is a CD of favorite songs of ours. She told me that she had been working on compiling the songs for years. Abigial helped her get it on a CD. What a great gift... a treasure for sure.

So we jumped into our car and went to Tulsa. We had reservations at PF Changs. ( not exactly Taco Bell - that was our first anniversary ), but it was good. It was one of the many prom nights in Tulsa, so the place was packed full of high schoolers in formal attire. Before we ate, we explored Utica Square, sat and talked on a bench... it was all so simple and nice. A GREAT night.

It would be hard to let April 3rd pass by without considering another "anniversary." Three years ago, I had a stroke. Not such a good feeling... its been a long road back, two steps forward and one step back. But there have been constant people in my life that have made it alot easier.

Pam has been wonderful. Can't say enough about the burden a "care-giving" spouse has to bear. She did not sign up for this... but then again I guess 28 years ago, she did. There are exciting things ahead for her in life...we both know it and can't wait to see how God unfolds it all.

Our kids have been incredible. Lizzie, Joel and Lydia were gone, off to college or on with thier lives. But they have been so supportive and understanding. Abigail was in High School, so she saw the day to day. It was scary for her. So what a blessing last night when I got a text from her celebrating the fact that I was alive... I think the whole thing was such a surprise to all of us. Three years later, our lives have moved on. There are husbands, a boyfriend, new places of residence and a granddaughter. And no matter what, they let me know how much they love me.

First Christian Church... what can I say? They have treated me the way a million other pastors would wish their church treated them. Patience, understanding, space... I get to preach, lead and kind of pick my spots... alll with no fear of what others will say. The Elders have been amazing to me. I could not be in a better spot.

Friends. Whether they just are people I can talk to, or staff members, or buddies who just want me to keep plugging away... they are there. I have needed several of the over the past three years.

God has been great to me. Three years ago, I was not in a healthy place on several fronts. Its still a battle on some, but I am better. Occassionally, there are reminders that I am human and I need to take care of myself.

Getting back to health has been a priority over the past three years. But where would I be, if 28 years ago, I had not stood in front of family, college friends, and a church in Superior Nebraska and pledged my love and life to Pam? From that day on we have been faithful to each other and faithful to God. He has given us every blessing we deserved ( do we really deserve any?), and a ton that we don't.

And even if there are days like April 3, 2006 in my future, I am still way better off than I could imagine... because on April 5, 1981 two lives became one.

I look forward to the "next day." I hope it ends up being another 10,220 days. But even if it is only 1 more day, I have had an incredible life, with an incredible woman...

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moses- Leader with Faith and Humility

I have started a study of the life of Moses for the Summer of 09. I like character studies,becuase they remind us that God uses all kinds of people, in his own way and time, to accomplish his purposes.

Moses was the Deliverer... but he was so much more. He was a humble man. He was scared at times. He did not believe in his ability to convinice Pharoah, to let the peoeple go. He felt inadequate as manager of large groups of people. He had an anger problem at times. His leadership was constantly criticized. He disobeyed God and it cost him something very precious. (the honor of going into the promise land.") He got to spend time face to face with God, and then go down the mountain and confront the sin of the impatient people. I have read through his life... don;t see alot of down time once he turned 80. That was a hard run into the last 40 year segment.

If I were going to study 5 hero's from the Bible I would study, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and David and Jesus. Those are the top five in my book.

Right now I am outlining the books of Exodus and Numbers...along with some refrences in Hebrews 11. All in preparation for 10-11 sermons and 12 study guides for the summer.

You learn alot about God by watching how He works through other people.

I am thankful for a church leadership and staff who gives me the time to study for a series like this...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Real Life meeting works

Being from Oklahoma has somewhat insulated us from the harshest realities of the economic downturn. Here in the heartland we are not seeing the wide-spread layoffs that are hitting the Northeast, West, Southwest and Upper Midwest. It may get worse, but for now it is more like a trickle, instead of a flood.

But we are seeing people in our church who are being laid off. It doesn't matter whether it is you, or a 100 people, it is still scary to get the paperwork. When Joel was laid off last November, he said that he was so surprised and shocked... They were putting papers in front of him and telling him to sign them. He was numb.

Imagine what it is like for someone who is married and has children. Joel is single and in pretty good shape as far as obligations. But lots of people are not. It's scary.

I saw an email that one guy in our church wrote to his small group this week. He talked about how he would be laid off today. It was kind of scary, but he knew that God would take of him and his family (including a baby on the way.)

So what did he do? He emailed his small group. The email is one overflowing with faith. But it is also a signal that they have a group to call on if they need help. He ended his email with a quote from 2 Cor 4:8-9 and these words, "I will praise Him in the hard times!"

We will help where we can, along side of the groups. We are being blessed now as a church for times such as these. If you have lost your job, let us know... we want to help.

This is where real life meets faith. And it works!

On another note, Pam and I went to an open house for Pregnancy Resource Center. It is really growing influence in our community. There is a strong vision, great leadership and a desire to care for people. They have expanded thier facilities and they are making a difference.

It is another place where real life meets faith. And it works!

A member of our church lost his brother suddenly this week. His small group was on it, before I even knew about it ( And I knew within about 2 1/2 hrs). There is a group of people who will minister better to him and his family than I can. I will do my part...but the group is where the consistent support and love will come.

It is another place where real life meets faith. And it works!

We want to be a real life kind of place, full of grace and love, support, honoring the truth of God's Word and using those things to build faith into the lives of people. Sounds exactly like what the church should be doing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


MARCH MADNESS- going very well for me... see previous post... Proud of the OSU Cowboys!

NAIA-Steve Mowery and I went to KC for the NAIA Championships ( 24 games in 3 days). Love it! And we got an added bonus... we took a chance and went to the Sprint Center, bought two tickets and got to see OU-Morgan State. ( Yes, I saw the flip...It was just as bad in real life as on TV.) Great time with a great friend.

CHURCH- The BAGGAGE series has been awesome. It has also been the most draining series of sermons I have done in a long time. People have so much to deal with... and preaching about Anger, bitterness and guilt surfaces alot of things. I think I most pleased with the fact that people look to God to help them with these kinds of things. I have said the same thing every week...."If you allow bitterness, anger, or guilt to take up residence in your life, it makes you tired and weary. And even worse, after a while, you begin to think how you feel is normal and how it will be for the rest of your life."

Galatians 5:1- "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."

Good Stuff...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March Madness

Here it is... the predictor of March Madness. I am not an expert in Basketball, but I know a little about it. And it sure beats talking about the economy....

Round 1 Upsets- Not too many limbs to climb on in this round...
- Sienna (9) over Ohio State (8)
-USC (10) over Boston College ( 7)
-Texas AM ( 9) over BYU (8)
-Maryland ( 10) over Cal (7)
- Mississippi State (13) over Washington ( 4)
-VCU (11) over UCLA(6)
-Butler ( 9) over LSU (8)
- Western Kentucky ( 12) over Illinois ( 5)
- Michigan ( 10) over Clemson (7)

Round 2 Upsets
- Fla. State ( 5 ) over Xavier ( 4)

Round 3 upsets
Gonzaga (4) over UNC (1)
Kansas (3) over Michigan State ( 2)
Wake Forests ( 4) over Louisville ( 1)

Round 4
Pitt Vs. Duke- Pitt
Gonzaga Vs. OU- OU
Uconn Vs. Memphis - Memphis
Kansas vs. Wake - Kansas

Final four

Pitt Vs. OU- Pitt
Kansas Vs. Memphis ( rematch of 08 national championship)- Memphis

Title Game
Pitt Vs. Memphis- MEMPHIS

there you have it... Should be interesting...

Oh boy.....

I am going to wade into "deep yogurt" here. I am no expert... but have a thought or two.

It's this AIG thing. I understand that the government bailed them out last fall because they were "too big to fail." I understand that salaries and bonuses are hot buttons today and get people all riled up. I have watched for the last 2 months or so at how the "government " has been outraged at what has been happening in some of these banks and insurance companies. Today, I listened for a bit as Congreessmen and Senators, and even the President said, "We will figure out a way to get that money back, even if we have to tax them (those that got the bonuses) at 90%.

WOW.... here is my problem. Several ( I am being generous here) of the administrations top financial people , along with tax legislation writing congressmen have been accused of dodging personal income taxes over the past few years. Only when they were nominated to the cabinet, or called on the carpet by regulators did they come clean and pay up. Hmnnnn..... and now they are screaming bloody murder about AIG bonuses?

Don't get me wrong... I am not a big fan of 1 million dollar bonuses. ( I never have received one.) This is not the time to be doing that... bad PR.... I think that there would be some better uses of the money.

But , if they are contractual in nature, and have been agreed upon before this current crisis hit ( and that seems to be the case), then what is the big deal about? A year ago, the climate was different. I kind of doubt that someone at AIG woke up in mid-feb and said, "Hey I think I will shell out 165 million dollars of the tax payers money, to a bunch of my buddies at work, some of whom do not work there any more."

What bothers me more is the idea that Congressional members are trying to write laws that would TAX 90% of that money to recoup it. If they will do that, then where will it stop? Talk about "trickle down economics." Pretty soon we will taxes go up on everything , even for the middle income kind of guy...all in the name of "making things right." That is code for "wealth re-distribution." And no matter what anyone says, when the wealth get re-distributed someone gets rich. Its generally the guy who did not work for it.

This gets personal if the government decides to take their new found power to "make things right" and tells me that I can not preach on passages in the Bible that stand against homosexuality ( and if it begins there, it will never stop until Biblical Christianity is legislated out of existence in this country.)

I see this desire to use "power in legislation" to re-shape our country. It is scary.

I am not all that political in nature... I generally try to stay out of these kinds of things... I rarely if ever, write about it. But this Sunday I preached about "Dealing with Bitterness". At the end I talked with people who were dealing with bitterness toward family members, toward employers, even toward God. But one guy really caught my attention. I respect this guy so much and have grown to love him. He told me how good the messages in this "Baggage" series have been, and then he told me he had a problem with bitterness... toward the people that are running this country into the ground right before our eyes.

I thought it was a very transparent and sincere thing to say. He really wants to guard his heart.

There are days like today when I think, "He could be right... and we could be watching it all happen right before our eyes."

I am not smart enough to know whether that is exactly true or not. But I do know that if our government can write legislation in the name of "making things right" that will tax anyone any amount they deem "right", allowing them to dip into our wallets, and to leigslate our own moral beliefs, then this is really not the United States of America any more.

Our hope???? Turn to God...Put our faith and trust in Him. For in the end, all of this will be hay and stubble, and all that will remain is our faith in God and trust in His Son. I believe God is in control and in the end, he will use anyone, anytime to draw people's hearts and mind back to Him.



I will post my final predictions tonight.