Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Journey- Follow Me

It's 2 hours till 2011. 2010 wasn't a bad year for me personally, just complicated. So I look forward to a new year... I am looking forward to new opportunities, new friends, new ideas and new ways to celebrate life with my wife, kids and grandkids. Even more so I am looking forward to a renewed committment to get to know Jesus better and to imitate him.

One way that I am going to do that is to read through Gospels this year. I am looking for the way that Jesus treated people, because I think I can do better at that. I am looking for the way that Jesus lifted people up, paid attention to people no one else would, even reached out and welcomed people into his life, because I think I can be better at that.

I am going to look more for how Jesus related to His Father, because I think I can do better at that too.... I want to find the little things Jesus did and see how those framed his ministry, because I think that it is the little things that make the difference.

So why don't you join me on this journey in 2011? Read the Gospels. There are 89 chapters... so that means if you and I read 1 chapter a day, we will go through the books 4 times next year.

Why should we do this? Well, Jesus said, "Follow Me." If we are going to "follow Jesus" we ought to know more about what He did , where He did it, and who He did it with. We find that in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Call it a resolution if you want... I call it a plan. And if I miss a day, its not the end of the world. I will just pick up where I left off... As one writer said, " The goal is not for getting me through the Word of God, it is for getting the Word of God through me." Its a journey... one that God directs. I figure He will reveal what I need to see, when I need to see it.

There are alot of other things I hope to accomplish in the coming year ( now 91 minutes away). But this one is something we can do together...

I like doing things together... I hope you will join me.


Where do I start?

Recently I watched a piece on ESPN by Rick Reilly. It was a commentary about the last year of Tiger Woods' life. Reilly chronicled the story of hs fame and power and how it was all brought down by self-destructive behavior in his moral life. In the end, his immorality and impurity cost him millions and millions of dollars, prestige, and worst of all, his relationship with his wife. His relationship with his children has been changed forever.

Within a few weeks of that ill-fated 2009 Thanksgiving run in with a fire hydrant in Flordia, Tiger was busy with image rehabilitation. His handlers had a stratgey to get him back in front of the public, say the right things at the right time and then start working on the next 5 majors which would break Nicklaus's record. Over the past year we have witnessed this effort. He has talked about working on the person he is, and occassionally he would show flashes of the new nicer, kinder and gentler Tiger. But there would be flashes of the old Tiger too. Either way the changes did not translate into wins on the golf course. For the first time in his career he was winless for the year.

It should be no surprise to those of us who follow sports. Truth is that to win at any professional level, it takes the best that you have. Distractions, personal or professional are certain to doom almost anyone who plays sports at that level.

We are a "spiritually minded" people in America. Because of that, for Tiger, there were more than a few questions about his inner life. Almost all his answers were focused on his childhood religion of Buddhism. It may be something he truly believes in...but there is one problem... and it is the problem that Tiger has had all his life. It is self-centered. And therein lies the problem with our country in general. Faith has become self-centered rather than Jesus centered.

Reilly finished his piece with this insightful statement.

"What good does it to gain back everything on the outside, if so much is missing on the inside?"

Tht is a statement that sounds alot like what Jesus said. "What does it profit a man if he gainst the whole world but loses his soul?"

The two statements have the same answer. Starting on the outside and working inward is a dead end. Instead God says "start on the inside and let that be the catalyst for the changes on the outside."

I suspect that Tiger Woods will win more golf tournaments. I suspect that he will continue the rebuilding project that is before him. But if he does not figure out that rebuilding his soul begins and ends with God and Jesus Christ, there will be a day when he will have lots of records, trophies and the accolades of people, but still be empty inside. His life will always be defined by the events of 2009-10. On the surface it may all turn out well, but it will never be what it could have been if God had been at the center of His heart... not hmself.

There is a lesson there for all of us as well. As you contemplate new goals, new dreams and new hopes, start with your heart. Look inside first and make sure that God is at the center of what you are doing. We will be tempted to focus on the circumstances of 2010 and work hard to change things that did not turn out well. But we might take our cue from Jesus who set out to change hearts first, knowing that the rest would fall into line.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Christmas week is always a balance for me. It is lots of fun with kids and grandkids coming in. Yes, this year there will be two grandkids... and Lord willing there will be three next year! Pam bakes alot, there is tons of laughter and conversation. Joel wont be able to make it this year, but we will have all three of the girls and their husbands, so it will be a house full. It is always fun.

Tucked in all of that this year are two Christmas Eve Services and a Sunday Morning Christmas Service. Each of these services are special times for our church family and for those who visit or are checking out the church. I know lots of people are working on all the details to make it a meaningful time of worship and celebration.

This year we are talking about Christmas Stories... So Christmas Eve will be focused on the greatest story of all... the coming of Christ as a baby... Sunday morning we will have ONE SERVICE at 10 AM and we will talk about a "NEW DAY" for all of us because of the coming of Christ.

These are great services to invite people to... so I encourage you to get the word out any way you can... Invite friends, families, neighbors, or co-workers to celebrate Christmas WITH CHRIST at the center of everything.


DEC. 26th SERVICES are at 10 AM ( North Garnett) and 11 AM ( Stone Canyon).

By the way... so far the weather looks good for Christmas Eve... no blizzard this year!

Hope to see you there!


Friday, December 17, 2010

A "sort of vacation"

It is December. I am on a "sort of vacation." A "sort of vacation" means I have the time off, but am still preaching each Sunday and Christmas Eve .

There are two kinds of vacations for me. One is the real deal where you go away, far away, can't really be reached, get to be relatively anonymous, and unwind and relax. We did that this summer in Florida. I always look forward to those. I probably need two of those a year...but I am thankful for anything I get there.

The second one is this "sort of vacation"... which means we stay home, family comes to us, I get up when I want to, work when I want to, quit when I want to... in general, it is about me setting the schedule and doing what I want to.

So what will I do during this "sort of vacation?"

Well, I will visit Brynlee... and play with Gracie. I will talk to my daughters and their hubands. I will text Joel about games and life. I may go to the lake. I will read some books, and work on my study of James ( coming on Sundays and Wednesday in January). I will finish off some Bible reading for the year. I want to re-arrange my home office. I will putter around town some, workout, sleep in some, stay up, watch football, read some more and hang out. I will watch some basketball, high school, maybe some college. I will sit and talk with Pam. We will watch some movies. But I also will kind of stay out of her way. She has two weeks off and she doesn't need me hanging all over her. I will preach a couple Sundays, preach Christmas Eve services, and continue thoughts about what 2011 will hold. I will reflect on 2010 as well.

AND I WILL SAY THANK YOU LORD.... 2010 was a crazy year on so many levels. 2010 has forced me to depend on him more, praise him more, cry out to him more and to reach out to others more. It has been the most demanding year of my life. This was a surprise. I knew 2010 would have its challenges, but I really had no idea of the depth of those demands. We have launched a new campus, Pam and I began leading a new life group, our church has hired a couple new people, and moved some others around and I have established some new relationhips with church leaders at the North American, and in the Northeast. Pam and I celebrated 29 years of marriage, added a new son-in-law and a new granddaughter. We also have confronted some issues at church and in our own lives which have helped us to depend on Him more than ever before. We talk about "digging deep wells." so that when challenges come, you have something to draw from. 2010 was a year which really tested the depth of my wells.

Along the way I have witnessed lots of stories of how God works everything for His purpose, in my life and others.

So my "sort of vacation" is really a good thing... I will slow down and kind of mosey through the last two weeks of the year... hopefully on Jan 3rd, I will be rejuvenated to the point that I can hit the ground running on a new and exciting year ahead.

I also hope that this "sort of vacation" will renew a passion to write more in this blog. ( I know it has been sporadic.) So look for more random thoughts about God, life, and this crazy world that we live in...