May 13, 2013
Larry Sherman passed away suddenly last week. He was a mentor, encourager, cheerleader, and friend. When I felt God’s call to plant a church in Mt. Juliet, Larry was introduced to me as someone who could help. “Someone who could help” was an understatement.
Besides helping us gain funding, Larry believed in me. He actually said that I was an answer to his prayer about starting a church here in Middle Tennessee. Talking to him always made me better than I was before the conversation.
I could always be honest with Larry. He would come into town 5-6 times a year and we would have lunch and talk. We would also talk on the phone between visits. I remember one visit a couple of years ago. Larry asked me as we sat for dinner, “So how are you today?” I told him, “I ready to quit, Larry. I didn’t feel that way yesterday and I don’t think I’ll feel that way tomorrow, but today I’m ready to quit!”
It didn’t matter if things were going great or if things weren’t going so well, Larry was the same person. That person was always encouraging.
I was with Larry in Orlando a few weeks ago and Larry mentioned retiring. I told him he couldn’t because we needed him. (I told him then that he was not replaceable.) Larry explained that he was anxious to move to Dallas and begin spending time with his kids and grandkids. I hate that he wasn’t able to do that. I know that he loved his family dearly and they loved him too.
Larry called a few weeks ago and asked me if I was free on May 6 for dinner. He told me to bring some of my leaders. Eight of us got together at Cheddars and had a great night laughing together. We talked about the church through the laughter and As Larry ate his fish tacos, he suggested that we go around and tell one thing that no one else knew about each other.
The next morning, I received an email from Larry telling me he enjoyed the evening and bragging on my leaders. A few hours later, he got on a plane and went to his REAL home. He went to see Jesus. Larry passed away on the plane headed to Detroit.
There are countless church planters around the country that feel the same as I do about Larry. He will be irreplaceable in his work, friendship, and leadership. I will miss him dearly. His legacy is HUGE.
What I don’t understand is why I was chosen…. Blessed…. by God to share his last evening with him. Out of all the church planters across the country, his wife Debbie, his kids and grandkids, I received that blessing. I don’t understand and I don’t deserve that honor.
I am humbled and thankful for the gift of spending the last evening with Larry and I will treasure the time for the rest of my life. I miss my friend.
February 2, 2013
The Super Bowl is Sunday. One of the big stories that you’ve been hearing about is Ray Lewis, the pro bowl linebacker. He’s one of the greats of the game and this is his last year. It’s a great story that the Super Bowl will be his last game as a pro. It’s been great career.
Now picture this: It’s Super Bowl Sunday. All the hype is in the past. The stadium is electric with energy. The teams are lining up for kickoff and the television camera pans through the crowd and you suddenly see something unexpected. Ray Lewis, in full gear except for his helmet, is sitting in the stands. You see him yelling “Go Ravens” with a beer in one hand and popcorn in the other. That would be stupid!
Ray Lewis is part of the team. He’s supposed to be on the field. He has a job to do. Why would he be in the stands watching?
Some people I know are like that. They claim to be part of the church but they have never really gotten involved. They never serve. They never give. They just come and sit for an hour if there is nothing better to do that day.
“The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him-and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by.” -Frances Chan
Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in.
If that’s you, I just want to say that the Church NEEDS YOU. YOU need God and you also need the church. It all goes together. 1 Corinthians 12 talks about how we’re all given “gifts” by God to use for His purposes. If you aren’t there for your purpose, the Church isn’t all that it’s supposed to be. Just like the Ravens would miss Ray Lewis, the Church misses you if you’re sitting in the stands watching.
Besides the Church missing you, you can’t grow into all that God has for you if you aren’t on the “field”, playing with the team. You need God and walking with Him means serving Him and being part of a local church. He said that in the Bible. I didn’t make it up. If you want a life that will count towards something that will last forever, get on the field. It’s time for the game NOW.
January 25, 2013
Sometimes it seems like there is no one involved in certain areas of our government with a brain. This has rang especially true in the area of immigration to me lately. No matter what your thoughts are on immigration, when a guy tries to do things the right way, he deserves credit.
“Heren” is a young lady in our church that fell in love with Ricardo. I married them and they seemed to really be good for each other. Heren’s son, Ozman, is ten years old and he really looks up to Ricardo as a father figure. Ricardo was good for Ozman. He also has a 3 year old daughter that misses her daddy. He’s a hard worker and works hard as a drywall hanger to provide for the family.
Ricardo confessed a relationship with Christ and he was baptized at our church, MJLife. He was always happy to help in whatever way that he could in the mission of the church. He’s a good guy!
After a year of marriage things were going well but there was an issue that needed to be dealt with. Ricardo was an undocumented alien. He had entered the U.S. illegally and knew that he needed to take care of that situation. He knew that he needed to gain legal status in the U.S. and that issue would always hanging over their new marriage.
Ricardo agreed to do the “right thing” and he went back to Mexico as part of the process to gain legal status. He was told that it could take up to a year to be able to legally return to his new family. Many of us at MJLife wrote letters on his behalf, substantiating his marriage to Heren and his involvement at MJLife.
After jumping through every hoop and providing every bit of information that was requested from him, he has now been told it may take up to another year because the immigration office needs MORE TIME to review documents.
This family NEEDS to be reunited NOW! Heren needs her husband. Ozman and Monica need Ricardo home too.
Ricardo and Heren’s story puts a face on this whole immigration issue for me. The system is broken. Will you help us in this matter?
Here’s how you can help:
PRAY: We know that God can move mountains. He will be the one ultimately to move the hearts of those involved to push this along
Write to Senator Corker and ask for his help. Ask them to look into the case involving Ricardo Morales-Castellanos. His Consular Case Number is: MEP2012677022
(Ricardo needs an I-601 Waiver to come back.)
U.S. Senator Bob Corker
185 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Thanks for your help in getting this family reunited!
January 15, 2013
Everyone likes a story. Whenever I get together with old friends, it seems like the same stories always come up. We laugh every time we tell them. That’s the way a lot of stories are.
Other stories aren’t told because we aren’t proud of them, yet they are part of our history. We didn’t intend for these stories to go the way they did. It just seemed to turn out that way. Maybe they were caused by mistakes and poor decisions and habits on our part. We “own” them.
The truth is, we can impact the stories that we can tell in the future by the decisions that we make today.
In essence, we write much of our own stories.
Andy Stanley said, “Direction, not intention, determines our destination.”
If we keep doing the same things that we’ve always done, most likely, we’ll get the same results that we’ve been getting.
The way we live our lives is perfectly designed to get the results that we’ve been getting.
If you don’t like something about where you’re headed, CHANGE IT TODAY!
Think about your habits today…. “Play it forward” and try to imagine what your life will be like if you keep making the same decisions that you’ve been making.
- Keep nagging your husband = Unhappy marriage continues & maybe divorce.
- Overeating and gaining too much weight = Possible heart attack down the road
- Overspending constantly = Possible bankruptcy and loss of house
- Read Bible Everyday = Ready for whatever comes
- Treat your wife with respect without fail = Happier home
- Treat church like it’s not important = Teaching your kids to do the same
I don’t’ know what your “habits” are but I know that we write much of our own stories. The best way to do that is to allow the “Author of Life” to help and guide us.
If we live our lives and make decisions according to His Word, without compromising, our story will be fuller and more meaningful. He won’t force us. It’s up to us.
What story are you writing today?
This post was inspired by Craig Groeschel and LifeChurch.tv’s “My Story” series. If you’re near Mt. Juliet, come hang with us at MJLifeChurch. If not, check out LifeChurch.tv online.
January 6, 2013
- Emmanuel, In Chloe’s Words 21 COMMENTS December 2012
- Learning to Walk in Step with God: Guest Post by Rebecca Poole 5 COMMENTS January 2012
- Is it OK to Get A Tattoo? What if I Already Have One? 6 COMMENTS January 2012
- We Kick God Out and Wonder Where He Went 14 COMMENTS July 2012
January 1, 2013
A friend mentioned that she wished she had a list of the best spiritual books. There are so many good books to choose from but I thought I’d post the ones that have helped me the most thought the years.
“Experiencing God”, By Henry Blackaby The Blackaby’s have written several books and they are all good. ”Experiencing God” is best if you can go through it with a group. Believe it or not, when I teach it, I always use the Youth version. My men’s group of 11 guys are loving it right now.
“Total Forgiveness”, by RT Kendall
GREAT BOOK that helps you walk through forgiving and understanding what forgiveness is AND what forgiveness is not.
“Crazy Love,” by Frances Chan This book challenged me. If you’ve grown complacent in your walk with Christ, this book will shake you up!
“Christian Atheist,” by Craig Groeschel Craig says that a “Christian Atheist” says they believe in God but they live like He doesn’t exist.
“When God Doesn’t Make Sense,” by James Dobson Sometimes we wonder why bad things happen to “good” people. Dr. Dobson helped me walk through my doubts and wonderings about this several years ago.
“Not A Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus”, by Kyle Idleman This book challenges the “rich” in the world, and that includes you and me.
“Weird, Because Normal Isn’t Working,” by Craig Groeschel Craig says that we should be weird in the way we look at our finances, relationships, money, careers, family, and every part of our lives. Everyone else looks at them “normally” like the rest of the world and they’re a mess! Be weird!
“The Pursuit of Holiness,” by Jerry Bridges This is an oldie but a goodie. I read it in college and it really taught me how God calls us to live a holy life.
“More Than A Carpenter,” by Josh McDowell This book explores the impact of Christ on the world. Another one that I read in college that helped me stay the course!
This isn’t an exhaustive list. These are just the ones that come to mind. These aren’t just “good” books that I have read. These books impacted my life as a Christ follower.
What books would you put on this list?
January 1, 2013
At the beginning of 2012, I set a personal goal to read at least 25 books. I finished number 25 on December 31st. lol Some of these books I listened to via Audible.com and some I read in the traditional way. I can honestly say that I enjoyed each one.
Here are my top 5 Favorites and then I’ll list the rest in no particular order:
1. ”Deep and Wide” by Andy Stanley Andy talks about his mission and vision to reach those who are far from God. He also talks about methods to do that. I loved this book as it challenged me and also helped me realize that I’m not as crazy as I thought I was in my pursuit to reach others that don’t know Him! lol
2. ”Making Vision Stick”, by Andy Stanley Yes, I love Andy’s brain. This book is so practical about sharing vision in the church and in business.
3. ”Through My Eyes,” by Tim Tebow It’s great seeing Tim live out his faith & seeing his heart. Makes me like him even more and I hate that since he’s a Gator.
4. ”Hearing God,” Henry Blackaby and “How To Hear From God,” by Joyce Myer Ok. I know this is two different books but both are very good at helping to learn how and when God speaks.
5. ”Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson Steve was a real knucklehead and a genius at the same time. His life story is a very interesting read.
“How to Kill 11 Million People,” by Andy Andrews This is a very short book and no, I’m not thinking of going into the serial killer occupation. It explains how Hitler killed the Jews without a revolt on their part. He did it one believable lie at a time until it was too late for them to react. GREAT READ!
“The Blessed Church”, by Robert Morris This book tells the story of Gateway Church and how God has blessed it. There are some great lessons to learn from their experience in building the church.
“5 Levels of Leadership”, by John Maxwell It’s Maxwell. If you want to grow in leadership, he’s the one you have to read!
“God’s Smuggler”, by Brother Andrew and “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom Great books about the lives of real people depending upon God.
Here’s the Rest and I recommend All Of Them
“Being George Washington,” by Glen Beck
“King Me,” by Steve Farrar
“Killing Lincoln,” by Bill O’Reilly
“Winning The Food Fight,” by Steve Williets
“Seal Team 6,” by Howard Wasdin
“American Son,” by Marco Rubio
“The Explicit Gospel,” by Matt Chandler
“One Minute After You Die,” by Erwin Lutzer
“Son of Hamas,” by Masab Yousef
“No Easy Day,” by Mark Owen
“Unleashed,” by Perry Noble
“This Ain’t No Practice Life,” by Micheal Burt
“The Leadership Pill,” by Ken Blanchard
December 31, 2012
C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”
When things are going well, He often speaks in a whisper and we have to listen closely. How do you know if it is God speaking to your conscience or if it is bad pizza from the night before? I won’t tell you that it is always easy, but I’ll give a few guidelines that I believe will help you distinguish between the two.
Before you begin seeking God’s will, make sure your heart is in a position to do WHATEVER God says. It’s important to decide that before asking God for His will.
Next, ask yourself if one of the options or possibilities are in disagreement with the Bible’s teachings. (This assumes that you have to be reading the Bible and learning so you can know it’s teachings.)
For example, if you see three options and one of them calls on a little white lie, go ahead and mark that one off. It is NOT God’s will even if it is the easy option or most attractive to you.
If you still have two options and you aren’t feeling God’s leading strongly towards one of them, remember that God also speaks through the “Church.” (The “Church” is the people, not a building.)
Don’t ask everyone you know for their opinion. Go to a few trustworthy, wise, godly people that care about you and explain the situation. God can sometimes make things a bit clearer by talking to other people that love Him and you.
You can also look at the circumstances. Once again, you have to interpret the circumstances through the Bible. It’s not always a “given” that you take the most attractive option that presents itself.
If the options are:
- Take a high paying job.
- Keep the job that you have.
God may want you to stay at your present job to reach someone. That’s where listening to God is more important than a knee jerk decision to the most attractive option that seems to present itself.
If you have sincerely prayed, “God, I’ll do WHATEVER You ask me to do” and you have really sought His will through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the Church, and you don’t feel like He is saying “wait,” then make the best decision that you can.
I really believe if you “delight yourself in the Lord, that He will give you the desires of your heart.” After going through all of these steps with a sincere heart, make a choice and don’t look back.
December 27, 2012
When we want to know God’s will and the next step for our lives, the first step is simply to begin asking Him to reveal it to you.
One of the challenges most believers have is that they actually already know what that next step, they just choose to ignore it. For example, maybe they are asking, “God, should I take this job or should I stay here at this company?”
The reality is that many only want to hear from God on their terms and not on God’s terms.
What they see as important in their life is not what God sees as important. Perhaps God has already told them that they need to deal with they way they talk to their kids and they have ignored that. Maybe God wants them to forgive or He wants them to be a better employee.
God is more interested in a person taking the last step that He told them to take than He is revealing what you demand to know.
Don’t ask God to lead you in your next step without first telling Him AND MEANING IT, that you’re willing to do WHATEVER that step is.
Then, if He reveals something to you that you need to do, then do it! THEN you can ask for the next step.
We might think we really want to know God’s will for our life but unless we’re willing to do WHATEVER He tells us, we’re just playing at this Jesus following thing. It doesn’t appear to be something we’re that serious about. We need to make Him Lord, which means our life is really His.
December 21, 2012
Most Christ followers would say that their prayer life is not what they feel like it should be. While saying this, they have in mind that they aren’t TALKING to God enough.
Jesus had a specific time in the morning while it was still dark when He went by himself to a quiet place to pray. We probably picture Jesus pouring out His heart to God as He prayed. I think that is one thing that He did during this time, but I also believe He was simply quiet during this time too.
Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person did all the talking and you couldn’t get a word in anywhere? Maybe they didn’t seem to care about what you had to say? You just want to staple their lips together!
If you’re in a relationship with God, He isn’t only interested in hearing the shopping list of the things that you want Him to do. He wants time to speak too. Most Christ followers say they want to hear from Him but won’t be still and shut their own mouth long enough for Him to say anything.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Other versions says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
Sometimes we need to sit and listen!
How does God speak? Henry Blackaby teaches that God speaks to us mainly in 4 ways. He speaks through the Bible, through prayer, circumstances, and through the church.
Let’s look at the first way that I mentioned. God speaks to us through the Bible. For example, if you are a Christ follower and haven’t been baptized, you don’t need to ask Him if you should be baptized. He’s already told you to do that in the Bible! Just DO IT!
If you are holding a grudge against family member or an old business associate, you need to forgive them! The only prayer that you need to pray regarding forgiving is perhaps for the strength to follow through on forgiving them. Don’t even ask if you should forgive them. (That’s another subject, but if you’re interested further in forgiveness, try: http://eddiepoole.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/she-cant-forgive-him/)
Sometimes God only gives us one step at a time. If He’s revealed to us that we need to spend more time with Him and we haven’t done that, he may not tell us anything more until we do the last thing that He’s told us to do.
Pray about your next step with God, shut up, and LISTEN. When he reveals that step, TAKE THE STEP. THEN ask for the next one.