Thursday, December 20, 2007

Life is Coffee

A friend recently sent me this story. I liked it so much that I asked him if I could post it. It reminded me of how easy it is to get caught up in the pursuit of the "bigger and better", thinking that the more I have the happier I'll be. This Christmas st0p before you open your presents and thank God for the life you already have as well as everything you're getting.

"A group of alumni, all highly established in their respective careers, got together for a visit with their old unversity professor. The conversation soon turned to complaints about the endless stress of work and life in general. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went into the kitchen and soon returned with a large pot of coffee and an eclectic assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal - some plain, some expensive, some quite exquisite.

Quietly he told them to help themselves to some fresh coffee. When each of his former students had a cup of coffee in hand, the old professor quietly cleared his throat and began to patiently address the small gathering. "You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones.

While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is actually the source of much of your stress-related problems." He continued, "Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink. What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a cup, but you instinctively went for the best cups. Then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is coffee. Jobs, money, and position in society are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not truly define nor change the quality of the life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee that God has provided us. God brews the coffee, but he does not supply the cups. Enjoy your coffee!"

The happiest people don't have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have. So please remember: Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God. And remember - the richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least." This Christmas, I'm thankful for everything I already have, including my friends and family who add all the flavor to my "coffee."

Merry Christmas!!

Marks of a Healthy Church. . .continued

Besides being a place that glorifies God, is Bible-based and Christ-centered, is led by accountable servant leaders, helps people grow, exudes warmth, reaches out to others, and has a contagious style, Rick Duncan of Cugahoga Valley Church in suburban Cleveland gives one more mark of a healthy that he hopes will be part of their new church plant.

A healthy church reproduces itself

In nature, all healthy organisms reproduce themselves. That's true in a family and should be true in the church. Jesus command to, "go and make disciples of all nations, . . ." Matthew 28:19 is actually a command to plant churches. (Neil Cole, The Organic Church) Cuyahoga Valley Church was started twenty years ago as a church plant sponsored by a church in Dayton, Ohio with missions as a part of its DNA. It is that same DNA that CVC is seeking to pass on to Church of the Hills.

Ask yourself, “Does this church care about building the Kingdom of God beyond its own direct ministry? Does the church have a plan to reproduce itself? Are mission dollars being set aside to be used for evangelism that results in the establishment of new churches?”

What do you think? Are there any other marks of a healthy church? How healthy is your church? What can you do to make it healthier?

Journey Church won't be perfect but I hope in the end that we will have as our goal to be a church that glorifies God, is Bible-based and Christ-centered, is led by accountable servant leaders, helps people grow, exudes warmth, reaches out to others, and has a contagious style, and reproduces itself.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Marks of a Healthy Church


Recently I read that Cuyahoga Valley Church in south suburban Cleveland, Ohio is getting ready to launch a new church in the spring of 2008 called Church of the Hills. Rick Duncan who serves as lead pastor and teacher at CVC says, “we anticipate questions about the kind of church we are seeking to start."

As a church planter people have already asked me what kind of church Journey Church is going to be. Is it going to be contemporary or traditional? Seeker driven or for the saints? Topical or expositional? Will it appeal to baby boomers or busters? Etc. . .

Rather than define the church in these terms Rick suggests you look for a church that is first God-honoring and healthy. To help he gives six signs of a healthy church that I hope will in the end be true of Journey Church. Read them and let me know what you think. Also to learn more about Cuyahoga Valley Church and their church plant check out Pastor Rick’s blog at joy@heart.

A healthy church glorifies God

Scripture says, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31b). To glorify God means to draw attention to His greatness. The local church is the focal point of God's plan for displaying His glory to the nations. This is the primary purpose of the church and of individual Christians.

Ask yourself, “Do I sense that the leaders of this church really are seeking to glorify God? Or are they somehow wanting to get attention for themselves? Is the worship of God in spirit and in truth a top priority for this church?”

A healthy church is Bible-based and Christ-centered

The early church emphasized Christ-centered biblical teaching. Teaching should explain what Scripture says in a particular passage, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the people. Solid, consistent teaching from God’s Word helps us grow to be like Jesus in several ways. It matures and stabilizes our faith in times of testing. It increases our ability to detect and confront error. It gives us wisdom. Solid teaching should also be coupled with compassionate application. A Bible-based church produces people who are not just hearers of the word, but also doers who live like Christ and who have a commitment to know God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

Ask yourself, “Do I see the leaders of this church challenging people to learn the Word of God and to live out the Word of God in practical ways? Are they giving people practical opportunities to apply the Word – to love the Lord, serve each other, and be a blessing to the world?”

A healthy church is led by accountable servant leaders

Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mark 10:43). In a healthy church, the staff and leaders should serve in a context of loving, supportive accountability to God and each other. Since the best predictor of future performance is past behavior, it’s important to find others who have already served on a team with the leaders and to ask them questions about the leaders’ approach to ministry.

Ask yourself, “Do the leaders of this church have good track records as servant leaders? Does the structure of the church insure that the leaders are accountable spiritually and financially? Do I sense that the leaders are passionate about serving others rather than being served?”

A healthy church helps people grow

God gives leaders to the church to prepare God’s people for works of service so they will “grow up in every way” (Ephesians 4:15). Healthy churches provide various tools and so people in differing stages of the Christian life can grow. New believers, maturing Christians, as well as passionate followers all find positive encouragement to keep growing in Christ.

Ask yourself, “Does the church have a passion for helping people grow to spiritual maturity? Do the people sense that their leaders are growing in their walk with Christ? Are personal spiritual growth plans encouraged?”

A healthy church exudes warmth

Not only was the early church caught up in worship, individual devotion to the Lord, and instruction from the Word, but “they were continually devoting themselves… to fellowship” (Acts 2:42). They cared for one another. Members of the church should reflect a true commitment to the life of the church through attendance, giving, prayer and service. The leaders must be concerned not only with growing numbers, but with growing members.

Ask yourself, “Do the leaders of this church encourage people to be in authentic community with one another? Do the leaders and people in this church really care about each other? Do they have a plan to help attenders get connected with others believers? Are the leaders themselves connected to others in their church body?”

A healthy church reaches out to others

First-century Christians took their concern a step further and shared what they knew about Jesus with others. When they ventured beyond their walls, lives were changed: “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). A healthy church helps people appropriately express their faith where they live or work.

Ask yourself, “Does this church have a genuine passion to fulfill the Great Commission? Do the leaders and people care about making more and better disciples? Will I be challenged to reach my circle of influence for Christ? Is compassionate service to others in need a part of the ministry of this church and is it exemplified?”

A healthy church has a contagious style

Like a magnet, a church with a contagious style draws people to its doors. Four features comprise this style: 1) It is biblical in content. Messages are based on the Word of God, not on the opinions or interest of the leaders. 2) It is authentic in nature. This is a church that believes what it says. 3) It is gracious in attitude. The church sees itself as a family, not as a corporation. 4) It is relevant in approach. This church shows how God’s Word applies to today’s needs, issues, and concerns.

Ask yourself, “Do the people of this church freely invite others into the church family and fellowship? Would I want to invite my friends, neighbors, and co-workers to visit my church and to join our fellowship?”

Whether you are a new or long time follower of Christ or just someone on the journey to finding out who Christ is I hope you will consider Journey Church. Journey Church won’t be a place for perfect people. It will hopefully be a place that glorifies God, is Bible-based and Christ-centered, is led by accountable servant leaders, helps people grow, exudes warmth, reaches out to others, and has a contagious style.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Well I hope you survived the weekend. Like usual the weather wasn’t as bad as everyone was predicting. However Saturday was a little crazy. We went to Mount Vernon for my brother Darrel’s graduation from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. It started to snow during the ceremony and by the time it was over the roads were a mess. It took us two and a half hours to get home, but it was a beautiful snow.

My tendency however wasn’t to enjoy the snow but to worry and complain about it. On the other hand my brother’s son knew exactly what to do, he made snow balls and threw them. He wanted to throw them at me but I convinced him to throw them at my car instead.

If we’re not careful something happens when we grow up. We lose the wonder of things. I don’t’ want to lose the wonder of winter nor of His creation. Neither do I want to lose the wonder of Christmas and Christ’s birth. Mary didn’t want to lose the wonder of Christmas either and so even while the shepherds were still worshipping at the manger, we’re told that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:18.

When is the last time you pondered anything? The word ponder means to consider, converse, and consult (Strong’s) Mary was thinking to herself, in her heart, what was going on that night as well the significance of everything that had happened up to this point and everything that might happen in the future.

Though she could have been tempted to worry or even complain about the long hard trip, the unpleasant lodging, and the uncertain future she didn’t. Instead she saw that night as a Winter Wonderland.

Maybe it's a stretch but next time it snows do yourself a favor, and ponder the wonder of the snowfall. Better yet make a snowball and throw it at. . .your car.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Myths of the Magi, Truth or Tradition

Few Biblical stories are as well known, yet so clouded by myth and tradition, as that of the magi, or wise men, mentioned by Matthew. Enjoy this classic video from the Claymation Christmas then see if you're as wise as you think by answering the following true or false statements about the wise men.

1. There were three Wise Men

False. It’s a legend that came out of middle ages in which it was assumed that since there were three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, there must have been three wise men. Truth is it was probably more of an entourage of wise men and their servants. Some scholars suggest there may have been as many as 14.

2. They were Kings.

False. This is another myth that came out of the middle ages. They were not kings but more likely an order of priests and philosophers which came originally from Persia or present day countries of Iran and Afghanistan.

3. They were from the East (ie Far East)

False. The “east” was that region just beyond the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. This would be the area of ancient Persia- today, the countries of Iran and Afghanistan.

4. Their names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.

False. This is purely traditional.

5. They were astrologers who followed an astronomical comet or nova to Bethlehem.

False. Arnold Fruchtenbaum comes to the conclusion that the star was no regular astral body; “That this is no ordinary star is evident by the actions that this satr too. For one thing, the star led them from the east to the west; secondly it led them from the north to the south; thirdly, the star stood over the very house where Jesus was; and fourthly, it was “his” star in a sense that is not true of any other star” (the footsteps of the Messiah, 422) One other thing is to note that it appeared and disappeared, and then appeared again, hardly characteristic of a star. Thus “his star” is probably a reference not to a literal star but something more like the Glory of God, which appeared. . .

•to Abraham in Genesis 14:12-18, sealing the covenant.
•Later it appeared to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-5).
•It led the Israelites in the form of a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
•It appeared to Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:5-9, descended on the tabernacle (Ex. 29) and
•later filled the Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:10-13).


6. They visited the baby in the stable

False. These magi did not arrive until possibly almost two years after Christ's birth, certainly sometime after his presentation in the Temple Luke 2:22-39. Matthew says instead that they came not to a stable but to a house and saw not a newborn babe but a child Matthew 2:10 (Immediately after the visit of the magi, Mary and Joseph fled with Jesus to Egypt, where they probably stayed till after Herod’s death in 4 B.C.)


Journey to Jesus



Last Saturday was a celebration of two birthdays, the celebration of Jesus' birth and the birth of Journey Church. It was an evening like nothing I, or any one else, could ever have imagined. I am so grateful to God and those who took the time to be with us.

The theme of the night was "Journey to Jesus". We looked at the wise men and discovered that they traveled the farthest to come to Jesus. We learned six principles from their journey to Jesus.

(1) Follow the light as far as it shines.

(2) It's ok to stop and ask for directions.

(3) Sometimes you have to journey alone.

(4) Rejoice on the journey.

(5) Worship once you get there and

(6) Journey on in obedience to the Word of God.

Life is more than a destination, it is journey. Jesus called us to "follow him." Journey Church is not just about helping you find Jesus but journeying on in obedience to Him.

Journey Church's inaugural worship service will be Sunday, January 6th @ 4:30 p.m. at the Dublin Recreation Center, 5600 Post Road, Dublin Ohio. Please, feel free to come early and enjoy a cup of coffee as well as a few moments of conversation before we sit down (or stand up) for worship.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today is the birthday of Journey Church, or at least it is the day of our preview service. It feels a lot like the day we had our first baby boy. I was excited and nervous. Little did I realize how our life would change. I suppose if I did I might have thought twice about it but it seemed like the “right” thing to do. After all God’s Word is clear that we are to be “fruitful and multiply.” Besides we were having so much fun as a married couple serving in our first ministry, that we wanted share it with someone and thought that having a family would give us a chance to do that.

What I didn’t know is how much I would learn by being a parent, and just how much God would use it to change me. I knew I was going to get to teach my son a lot of things and was looking forward to that, but little did I know that having a son was the very thing God was going to use to teach me a thing or two. Now four children later I am so thankful for every one of them, as well as our daughter-in-laws, for what they have taught and are continuing to teach me.

Now as I think about giving birth today to a church, I think there is nothing more exciting that I can give my life to. After all God’s Word is clear that we are to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:18. Some think this is a direct reference to not just saving souls but planting churches, (ie Neil Cole, Organic Churches)

So, like a married couple, giving birth to a child there is nothing more natural for a follower of Christ than to give birth to a church. After all following Christ is so much fun, why not look for a way to share it with others. That’s what we are trying to do by giving birth to Journey Church today. First, to be obedient to God’s word and second, to share the joy of knowing Christ with others.

But I am still nervous. I’m nervous because we’ve never done this before. And just like parenting you have no idea what you are getting yourself in for. Yet you know it’s what God has called you to, and so you do it, trusting that in the end he will give you the wisdom, the strength and the encouragement you need to do it.

So we are having a baby and I thank God not only for getting to be the pastor of Journey Church but for all that he is going to teach me alone the way.

P.S. No that's not an actual picture of any of our "boys" but it could have been!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Celebrate Christmas Debt Free

Now you can celebrate Christmas and be debt free too, just follow these simple money principles. Move over Dave Ramsey! It will make a great Christmas present too. Maybe you can charge it?!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Don't Waste Your Life

Does it ever seem like you just wasted your day? Or maybe your life? Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. I didn't feel like I wasted my life but I did feel like I wasted my day. I only had two things I wanted to accomplish and I didn’t get either one of them done. Instead all I got done was getting a haircut, a little bit of shopping and going out to eat. What I realize today is that I didn’t waste my time. I got done what God wanted me to do. Apparently my agenda is not always God’s agenda.

First on God’s agenda was to spend time in his word and pray. I did, but it felt like a waste of time because I didn’t get done what I wanted to get done. Ed Stezer in his book Planting Missional Churches says that “church planters are not particularly prayerful people.” (p. 97) That’s interesting because you would think that if anyone was prayerful it would be church planters. After all what else do they have to do?! Yet as a church planter I was convicted again last week in our study of Acts that God is calling me to give my attention first to prayer and the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4

Second on God’s agenda is people. I learned that when on my way to the barber I made a “bargain” with God. I said if the barber brings it up, I’ll share Christ with him. Well wouldn’t you know it, the very first words out of his mouth were, “is this your day off?” I think the fact that I had jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie on was his first clue. Anyway I said, "I’m sort of between jobs" and proceeded to tell him my story of how I quit one job and and am in the middle of planting a church. It gave me great opportunity to share Christ and what he means to me.

Next I did a little shopping. I went on down High Street to Einstein Bagels. Einstein Bagels is the place where Carol and I met a lady named Joy. She is the manager. She and her husband just moved to Columbus and as she said, don’t have a lot of friends, so she has invited us to come over to their house for dinner some time. They live near us so we hope to take her up on her offer as soon as possible. In the meantime we’ve been dropping in just to keep in touch Besides they have absolutely the best flavored coffee I’ve ever tasted. It’s called Winter Blend! You'll have to try it. If you do tell her we told you about it.

I ended the day by going to my sister’s house. She and her husband had Carol and I along with my mom, and my two brothers and their wives up for our dinner. It was just a chance to enjoy being family as well as celebrate Christmas. In the end it wasn’t a wasted day! I didn’t get done what I wanted to do but I did get done what God had for me to do, which is good enough. Now I better go because I’ve still got those two things to do that I didn't get done yesterday, unless God’s has something better for me to do! We'll find out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Journey of a Thousand Miles. . .



It’s said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step”. The birthing of Journey Church has been a series of "first" or "baby steps" as Dr. Leo Marvin says in one of my favorite movies, What About Bob. It began this summer with 3 families meeting together for prayer, healing & encouragement. It continued with the formation of a home group that is growing almost every week. We are meeting to study the book of Acts and share life together. Last week we had our first Thanksgiving communion. It was an awesome time of gathering around the table, up the stairs and all around the room.

The next step in the journey will be December 8th, 2007. That is the date of the very first public service of Journey Church. It will be a Christmas Gathering for everyone appropriately called The Journey. As the picture “post card” at the top of the page says, it will be a relaxed and casual evening celebrating Christmas with music, teaching and refreshments.

The evening will also be an opportunity to share personally the details of Journey Church including our vision to Discover...Dare...and Dream. Our vision is based on both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment in which Jesus said to love God, love people and reach the world.

While only God knows where he is taking us, we are excited to take "baby steps" and join Him in the journey of “birthing” Journey Church. If you would like more information, please contact Journey Church at journeycolumbus@gmail.com.

Friday, November 23, 2007

30 Years & Counting

Yesterday was our 30th year of celebrating Thanksgiving at Diane & Mike’s house, my sister and brother-in-law. There were only 12 of us 30 years ago. This year there were 31. Much has changed in 30 years. My sister’s two daughters are both married and her youngest, Lisa, has two children, Lauren and David. That makes my sister the only one of my siblings who is a grandparent, but then she is the oldest! Carol & I have four boys of whom none of them were with us 30 years ago, as well as our two daughter-in-laws, Erin and Kayla. My brother Dale has three boys, and my other brother Darrel, yes that’s his real name, has seven! He was the one who said he wasn’t going to have any kids! I guess he changed his mind. There was also an “intruder”. His name was Dale. He’s a friend of my brother’s boys, Nathan and Thomas who attend Southern Wesleyan University. He lived too far away to get home for Thanksgiving so the boys asked him to come home with us. (You won’t find him in the family photo – he’s taking it!)

Two people who were there 30 years ago but not in the picture this year are my dad and Aunt Marilyn. They’ve both passed away, but they were present in our hearts. I especially missed my dad carving the turkey and then giving us samples so we could taste test them. I didn’t miss him choking on the sweet potatoes, which was something he did at least twice and we had to take him to the emergency room. He just couldn’t resist sampling them, too.

With all the changes, one thing remains the same, the love we share for one another. Somehow over the years our families have stayed together and our love has grown. (I think God has something to do with it!) As a family we have so much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for Diane and Mike who have put up with us taking over their house at Thanksgiving for all these years (especially when our kids were small). Also, I’m thankful for Dale and Kathy who Carol and I have shared so much life with including our boys of whom we have almost raised together. I’m thankful too for my “little” brother, Darrel, who’s just finished his masters program at Mount Vernon Nazarene. And for his wife Ginger who’s put up with our family for the last 19 years. Lastly, I’m thankful for my mom. After all, if it weren’t for her none of us would be here! Mom, thanks for giving us life and for giving us such a great example of what it means to love family, to love God and to love life. I hope we have 30 more years of Thanksgiving, but if we do, Diane and Mike will have to get an even bigger house!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tukey Day Trivia

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist sharing a little Turkey Trivia to enliven the conversation at your dinner table this Thanksgiving. The following questions are adapted from an online quiz by Aristotle, Inc. but you can tell your kids you made it up if you want. Maybe they’ll think you’re not such a “turkey” after all. Have a great Thanksgiving. (Answers on the comment page)



1. When was the first American Thanksgiving celebration?

a. 1492

b. 1567

c. 1621

d. 1776

  1. Where was the turkey first domesticated?

a. Canada

b. The United States

c. Mexico and Central America

d. New Zealand

  1. What is the female turkey called?

a. a rooster

b. a cuckoo

c. a chick

d. a hen

  1. What is a male turkey called?

a. a larry

b. a clark

c. a harry

d. a tom

  1. How fast can turkey’s run?

a. 5 mph

b. 15 mph

c. 25 mph

d. 45 mph

  1. How many feathers does a mature turkey have?

a. 1500

b. 2000

c. 3500

d. 5000

  1. Which state produces the most turkey annually?

a. Kansas

b. Ohio

c. Arkansas

d. North Carolina

  1. Approximately what percentage of American homes eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

a. 49%

b. 67%

c. 82%

d. 90%

  1. What country consumes the most turkey per year per capita?

a. the United States

b. India

c. Israel

d. Spain

  1. What great American statesman lobbied to make the turkey the national symbol?

a. Benjamin Franklin

b. Thomas Jefferson

c. John Adams

d. George Washington


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Game Day in Columbus





Ever wonder what its like in Columbus on the morning before THE GAME? Today, Ohio State plays the University of Michigan for the Big Ten championship and a change to go to the Rose Bowl and perhaps beyond. To get in the spirit of the day, we decided to go to Tommy's Diner for breakfast. Tommy's is an old-school diner in the shadows of downtown Columbus. It's an institution in Columbus that Carol & I went to when we were kids (it was Ater's then.) Anyone else remember that? It's owned by Tommy Pappas. Today he was at the grill cooking up pancakes, eggs, and everything this is good (not good for you) breakfast. Everybody there was dressed in Scarlett & Gray, including the waitresses. To entertain the customers while eating, Tommy shouts out "O" "H" and the customers respond with "I" "O". That's a battle cry unique to Buckeye fans and annoying to everyone else. Get in the spirit with us by checking out these pictures of Tommy at the grill and the waitresses & customers in their Scarlett & Gray. That's all for now. the game is ready to begin. GO BUCKS - BEAT MICHIGAN!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We're Having a Baby!!

Remember when you and your wife first found out you were having a baby? I do. I remember how excited we were to tell everyone the news and how excited everyone was to hear it. Well, now we are having another baby! It’s not a baby, baby. Carol is too old for that! Instead it is a "baby church" and I am just as excited, and nervous as when we found out we were having a real baby.

It was confirmed Sunday night when Carol and I met with three other couples from our home group and shared with them more of our vision for planting a church. We shared with them the name of the church and a vision statement. What amazed and humbled us was their excitement for our vision. It was obvious that God had done a work in their hearts, as well as ours, to prepare us for this moment.
The name of the church is Journey Church. We chose the name because the Christian life is a journey, not just a destination. None of us are there yet. We are all in process to becoming fully devoted followers of Christ. Our vision can be summarized in three words: Discover. . .Dare. . . Dream.
  • Discover Life in Christ
  • Dare to Live in Community
  • Dream of Changing the World
Please join us in prayer as we "labor expectantly" (pun intended) towards the birth of Journey Church. You can let us know you are praying by sending an email to journeycolumbus@gmail.com. Feel free to share your requests with us as well.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I Get My Best Ideas in the Shower!

Ever get an idea in the shower? I do. In fact, it seems like I get my best ideas in the shower. Maybe that’s why my ideas are “all wet”. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist) I think we get our best ideas in the shower because it’s one of the few “quiet” moments of the day. You can’t watch TV, at least not in my bathroom. You can’t read a book and you certainly can’t read the newspaper. All you can do is think.

Another time I get a lot of thinking done is while mowing the yard. It’s an hour to an hour and a half of “quiet” time with nothing to do but think. I’ve tried listening to music or messages on my i-pod but I have to turn it up so loud I’m afraid I’ll bust my ear drums, so most of the time I just think.

Thinking is important. The apostle Paul said, “finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” This Thanksgiving after you’ve stuffed yourself with Turkey and pumpkin pie, take time to think. Think about the good things God has done for you and is doing even now in your behalf. As for me I think I’m going to go take a shower. Maybe I’ll get an idea on what to blog next.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Biggest Question!?

I don’t know if it’s the biggest question or not, but it’s a pretty big question, especially as I think about our future and what God is up to. Four months ago, I resigned from a very comfortable position in a fairly large and successful church with basically no idea of what God wanted me to do except “get out of the boat and come to Him.” Since that time I’ve visited more than a dozen different churches; large, small and everything in between. I’ve preached at a home church, attended a church planting conference, met dozens of people for breakfast, lunch or coffee, made a number of hospital and home visits, done some career coaching and premarital counseling, and even conducted a funeral.

I’ve also had the opportunity to attend all Matt’s soccer games (except one), and to travel to Tennessee, West Virginia and various parts of Ohio with my wife. We also started a Home Group Bible study in which we’ve made new friends and gotten better acquainted with old ones. But in the end, there is still one question that looms large in my mind, “Did God call me ‘out of the boat’ to plant a church?”

Two months ago when I attended the church planting conference I prayed that God would give me an answer to that question. What He gave me instead was a word from Isaiah 6:8 in which Isaiah, after seeing God “seated on the throne, high and lifted up”, said, “Here am I. Send me.” What I took from this verse is that God wants our availability more than our ability.

What I want more than anything is to be available for whatever God has for me, including church planting. So, after attending the conference, I asked our home group to pray about it. We also began looking for a larger place to meet so our group could grow. We looked around and found the Dublin Recreation Center. It was available Saturday, December 8th the exact day we wanted for our Christmas Celebration. The Christmas Celebration will be a time of worship and fellowship for our Home Group and others who may be interested in joining us on the journey. Our plan, God willing, is to have weekend celebrations as well as home group commnities after the new year.

In the end the biggest question may not be, is God calling me to plant a church, but am I available. So in the words of Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me.” That’s my biggest question and my answer. What about you? What are the big questions in your life?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Are You So Happy?

Since, I’m a pastor, I’m often in the hospital. Not because I’m sick, but because I’m visiting people who are. It’s not a very “fun” place to visit, but I’m reminded that we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice and sorrow with those who sorrow” so I visit as often as I can. One time, while visiting, I stopped by the cafeteria. There was a drinking fountain there so I leaned down to get a drink, but just as I did the water squirted into my face instead of my mouth. As I stood there wiping water off my face, someone, thinking I was wiping away tears, stopped to see if they could help. I was a little embarrassed but humbled to think that someone I didn’t even know cared.

Another time I was in the cafeteria getting carry-out. (I guess I love cafeteria food). While checking out the cashier said you must be going to the sixth floor.” I said, “you’re right, how did you know?” She said, “because, nobody else is happy.” I was happy and I was going to the sixth floor, because I was going to eat with my wife and our son who was just born.

This past Friday I stopped by to visit with Sandi and her family and entourage of friends who were all waiting with her during Stef’s surgery. (That could be another story, but we’ll save that for later). While there we got the good news that they were able to remove a major amount of the cancer including a tumor the size of a soft ball without having to remove any part of the colon or intestine. We stopped then and there to thank God for answered prayer. I know God can do anything he chooses and whatever he does is “good”, but once in a while it’s good to “rejoice with those who rejoice as well as sorrow with those who sorrow.” Keep praying for Stef and for Sandi and their precious children. It’s good news but their journey is far from over.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Answered Prayer

Yesterday I asked you to pray, to pray for our friends Sepf and Sandi. Yesterday Stef went though the surgery of a lifetime. The results were better than we could have imagined, or dared dream. How we thank God who is as the prophet Nahum says, "a good God who remembers those that put their trust in Him." Nahum 1:7 Check out the full report copied from his blog written by his wife.

Hi, it’s Sandi filling in for Stef–

Wow! What a day this has been. Actually, what a journey these past three months have been. We have been awaiting this day for some time now. We waited with both fear and excitement. We had a fear of the unknown because we didn’t know for sure what they would be doing once they opened Stef up, and we had excitement because of the possibilities of this surgery. We definitely saw what God can do. I do have to thank our amazing support system also. We have so many amazing friends and family who shared of their time with us over the last few days. Some dear girl friends of mine had me up for lunch yesterday and a time of prayer. Last night, some friends of Stef’s came to our house to pray with Stef. Today, we had some wonderful people sit with me at the hospital to help pass those long hours. A wonderful friend of Stef’s was there, seven of my friends sat with me and kept my mind off of things, my mom and dad, my sister, one of my brothers and his family, my niece and her boyfriend, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, a dear friend to both of us, and our pastor all were there for part of the process or the duration of the surgery to support us. Stef finally made it into the OR around 10 am. He went to recovery at 3pm. He then made it up to his room at 545pm. I talked to the surgeon and he said things went better than he expected. The cancer did not seem to be as extensive as he thought. We ARE still dealing with Stage 4 cancer, so please continue to hold us up in prayer. Our journey is far from over. However, the surgeon feels that he was able to remove about 90% of the cancer. He only had to remove the omentum (the sheet like drape that hangs down from the transverse colon) and the sigmoid colon (a small portion of the large colon where the largest tumor was). He was able to “peel” the cancer from the bladder and stomach, so those things did not have to be really messed with. He did remove some other tumors throughout the abdomen as well. We are so thankful for this remarkable answer to prayer. I was able to see Stef around 615pm and he was doing well. He knew about the outcome of the surgery and was so excited about this good news. I just want to thank all you who prayed for us and remembered us today as we took this path towards full healing today. Please remember to continue to pray as this is far from over. We still covet your prayers. Stef will need much strength and encouragement over the next days and weeks AND months. Please continue to check in on him. We love that. It reminds us that someone was thinking of us. I will try to keep everyone updated as to his progress until he can take over. Thanks again for all the love and support and prayer. We truly serve a God of miracles. Good night!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who Will Carry You?,,

Some day all of us will need someone to carry us. We'll be in a place where like the paralytic in Luke 5, he needed friends to carry him to Jesus. Well my fellow "journeyman" Stef is there now. He needs his friends, to carry him, maybe not literally but figuatively to Jesus. If you are not familiar with Stef, he is an incredible man of God, with an incredible wife (Sandi), incredible children, (Derek, Justin and Carley) and an incredibile faith.

Four months ago he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Tomorrow he will be undergoing a 9-10 hour surgery to try to remove as much of the cancer as possible. If you would like to know more about Stef, his journey and his family, you can check out his blog at http://tarapchak.wordpress.com. But for now, I want as many people who can to pray for him and Sandi and the rest of their family as he takes this next step on the journey.

His favorite verse on the journey has been Isaiah 43:2-5 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they wil not sweep over you. When you walk thought the fire, you wil not be burned, . . . for I am with you." I know God is with him, but my prayer is that he and everyone around him would sense the presence of God in a powerful way both during and after surgery! On the journey with you bro!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Welcome Home Jacob!

Did you happen to read or hear the story last week about a severely autistic boy who got lost in the woods of West Virginia? His name was Jacob. He wondered away from his parents and younger brother while hiking in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area of the Monongahela National Forest last Sunday and wasn’t found until the following Thursday.

Hundreds of volunteers and trained professionals had been combing the woods, calling for him to come to them for candy bars, ice cream and other food. Jacob who is 18 years old is nonverbal and has the mental capacity of a 3 of 4 year old which made it even more difficult for him to be found. “Finding him was like finding a needle in a haystack”, said one of the rescuers. His family credits God and their faith for getting them through this ordeal. Jacob is in good condition and after a night in the hospital he is home with his family.

Strangely enough Jacob and his family belong to the Chestnut Ridge Community Church, in Morgantown West Virginia, the very church we attended with friends this past Sunday. Thus on Sunday we got to witness a Celebration of Jacob’s Return! Appropriately the message that morning was taken from Matthew 18 and the parable of the Lost Sheep. In this story Jesus reminds his disciples that every single life matters. Jesus doesn’t want anyone to be lost and neither should we.


  1. A lost life is worth looking for, even those that wander away. I wonder how many times we’ve written people off just because they wandered away. Maybe they failed morally or simply disappointed or let us down. When they do that our tendency is to leave them alone and not to go after them but to let them come back to us. Jesus said, “ If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety –nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? “ Matthew 18:12
  2. Second, it takes reprioritizing our life and leaving the things we think are important to find someone who is lost. Hundreds of volunteers including the Governor of West Virginia put everything aside to look for Jacob. No doubt they had plenty of other things they could do but for those four days they put away everything else and risked their own lives to hunt for someone they didn’t even know or wasn’t part of their family.
  3. Third, finding someone who was lost is worth celebrating. The church put aside everything else they were planning to do that Sunday to celebrate, to celebrate the fact that Jacob was found. Sometimes we don’t take the time to celebrate enough. God is good, he’s good all the time and he deserves our praise but sometimes we don’t stop long enough to celebrate his goodness. “And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” Matthew 18: 13

How about you? Do you know someone who has wandered away? I bet you do? How are you treating them? Jacob couldn’t rescue himself and most lost people can’t rescue themselves either. What Jacob needed was actually a group of people who were willing to do everything they could to rescue him, after all isn’t that what Jesus did for us.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A-maize-ing Blue!


It wasn't so bad wearing "maize & blue" for the weekend, especially since both "maize & blue" teams I was cheering for won. Matt scored the winning goal for the Cedarville Yellow Jackets and WVU won over Mississippi State.

I will be wearing my "maize & blue" at least a few more times as Cedarville finishes their regular season with games against Urbana University and Houghton College and hopefully tournament play.

Go Jackets!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Go Blue?

So now that I have your attention, why would a Scarlet and Gray fan ever even think of wearing Maize and Blue. Because Maize and Blue are also the team colors for Cedarville University and West Virginia University. Those are both teams we are going to be rooting for this weekend. Our son plays soccer for Cedarville and they are playing Kings College in Bristol Tennessee, so we are going down to see the game. I can't tell you which son or I'd owe him a dollar. (It's an arrangement I had with the boys when they were young, so they wouldn't dread it when I mentioned their name)

On the way home we're stopping in Morgantown to visit some "old friends" and go to a West Virginia game. I don't see how it can compare to a game at "the shoe" but, it'll still be fun because we are going with friends. So in spite of the fact that Maize and Blue are also the colors of the team up north (ie Michigan), those are the colors I'll be wearing this weekend. So go blue! At least this weekend.

P.S. His name is Matthew. Tim is going to Michigan for fall break and Jonathan is coming up from Charlotte to see his brother's game while Ben has to stay home to work. Oops. . . now I owe them all a dollar.

Monday, October 15, 2007

No Longer Servants, but Friends

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his mater’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I leaned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:14,15

Last weekend I listened to a message by Tim Keller. In it he talked about spiritual friendships. He said that spiritual friendships are all about sharing, sharing feelings, sharing things, sharing faith, and sharing decisions. What is amazing is to notice that that is exactly what Jesus did with his disciples. These are not men who are in essence his equals, after all he is God, but men whom he lets into his life. He shares with them his feelings, his things, his faith, and his decisions, "for EVERYTHING that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.” It’s the “everything” that takes me back. Is there anyone who knows everything about you or are you holding things back, afraid that people will be surprised or worse that they will reject you. Jesus shared everything with his disciples and thus he called them friends. If you lack friends today maybe it’s because you are not sharing your feelings, things, faith and decisions.

More than anything, I think Satan's plan is to get Christians to live in isolation to one another, ie "to divide and conquer". The early church shared everything with each other. (Acts 4:32) They had to, or otherwise they would have starved. I wonder if God in His sovereignty might allow us to be put in a position where we are "forced" to share everything. Maybe then we will know true spiritual friendship.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

We'll Never be Broke

This past week Carol and I “celebrated” the 37th year anniversary of our “first date.” Yup, we were only three! Just kidding, we were actually seniors at West High School. But did you know she actually asked me out on our first date? That’s because she was on the Homecoming Court and she needed an escort so she chose me and I’m glad she did! Eventually we got married and now thirty four years and four boys later we still love being together. Anyway in reflecting over the years this week, I dug up from the basement a scrapbook she made of our senior year. It’s filled with a whole bunch of memorabilia but at the very end of it I found a dollar. I remember putting it in there and thinking, “this way should we ever get married, we’ll never be broke.”

Well, truth is a dollar won’t go very far. It didn’t then and it certainly won’t now, but when I saw it I was reminded of how rich I am, not because of the dollar, but because I have Carol for my wife. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife, finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” Well I have been truly “favored” and so even if we go broke, I will still be a rich man because I have her!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Why Can't the Church on Sunday Look More Like the Stadium on Saturday?

Ever go to a college football game and just look at the people? I hope not, but if you do, what you'll see is something very interesting. You'll see people of every age, gender, race, socioeconomic level and more in one place for one purpose, to cheer for their team.

What I wonder is why, when the church has Christ in common, is it so segregated? How is it that we can feel "comfortable" in a football stadium and yet "uncomfortable" in church with people "different" from us?

Scripture reminds us that someday "every knee should bow, . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11) If eventually people from every tongue and tribe will gather in one place to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, why shouldn't we do it now? My dream is that the "sanctuary" on Sunday would look (and even sound) more like the stadium on Saturday. P.S. Go Bucks!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hot Dogs

Last week a friend and I took a last minute road trip. We went to a Church Planter’s Conference in Raleigh North Carolina. (more about that later) Anyway before the conference started we stopped for lunch at place called Hot Weiners. Like their name says, they only serve hot dogs. They serve them plain or with your choice of coney sauce, mustard, and onions. It’s an old school “lunch counter” kind of place, so you just come in and sit at the counter wherever there's a seat. Consequently you end up setting next to people you don’t even know, but who eventually become friends.

Remember this is the south, so I decided to talk to the two ladies next to me. One was 80 and the other was 85. I know how old they were because they told me! Anyway, they had just gotten done delivering meals on wheels to shut-ins and were treating themselves to lunch. I asked the "girls" if they eat here often. They said, “all the time.” I also asked them where they were from. They said they were locals and were quite proud of it. Later they left and the owner/waitress came over and said to us, “You made their day.” I think they loved just having someone talk to them, not to mention somebody younger call them "girls".

Later two more people took their place. They were a husband and wife, a bit younger, only 70 something. (I choose all the really “hip” places to eat!) I asked them if they come here very often. They said, “all the time and they would come more often but they aren’t open for supper.

When we left I realized what happened. I had a chance to do carry out the truth of something John Wesley said hundreds of years earlier, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”

While I was in Raleigh, someone called and wondered if I would do her mom’s funeral. I knew them from the church I was a long time ago. They don’t go there any more. I guess they don’t go anywhere. (I suppose 27 years isn’t enough time to find another church?!) Anyway, pray for me. I’m doing the funeral tomorrow. I think it’s a test, a test to see if I willing to do all the good I can, by all the means I can, in all the ways I can, in all they places I can, at all the times I can, to all the people I can, as long as I can, even when I don’t feel like it!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Top Ten Things I've Learned by Being a Church Visitor

I'm a pastor, so I don't get a chance to visit too many other churches, unless I'm on vacation. Right now I'm not on vacation but I'm inbetween ministries so I've had the unique opportunity to visit quite a few churches. While visiting I've learned a number of things about myself and churches in general that I thought I would share with you.

The Top Ten Things I've Learned by Being a Church Visitor.

10. Coffee is a great thing to help people feel welcome. (Some even let you take it in the worship center as long as you put a lid on it)
9. Reclining theater seats are way to comfortable to sit in and expect people to stay awake during the sermon.
8. People are going to know you are a visitor in a church of 30 people who are all under 30 years old! (especially if you are 54!)
7. It's easier to go to church when you already know someone who goes there
6. God can use His Word to give you just what you need, when you need it, even if you are "just" a visitor.
5. Church can be done almost anywhere, at anytime with any number. (ie, "Where two or three are gathered there I am also")
4. If you visit enough churches in the summer you are sure to hear a youth pastor preach at least once while the senior pastor is on vacation.
3. I won't raise my hand to admit I'm a visitor, except to get a free CD.
2. The OSU Fight Song makes a great prelude if you live in Columbus and the Buckeye's won the game the day before.
1. I don't want to be a "church visitor" forever.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lessons My Dog Taught Me

As a parent I can’t tell you how many “life lessons” my kids have taught me. But now that we are almost “empty nesters”, God uses our dog to teach me lessons. Our dog’s name is Beckham. (I didn’t name him, the boys did, but that’s another subject) Anyway we’ve had him for four years and we still can’t trust him to stay in the yard unless he’s on a leash. Well winter is coming and I don’t want to have to stand outside in the cold another year waiting on him to do his “business”, so this summer we bought one of those electric dog fences, you know the kind that zaps the dog with a “small” electrical shock when they go out too far in the yard. The problem is you have to train the dog to know how far he can go before he'll get shocked. Well sometime, somewhere, in the training Beckham got zapped pretty severly. (Could be that "6" is a little too strong a setting for a Cocker Spaniel). Now he won’t even go out in the yard, unless we drag him out on the leash or “bribe” him with little bits of meat or cheese. Eventually he goes out in the yard and does his “business” but then rushes back to the house and to “safety”.

What frustrates me is that because he got zapped so bad, he refuses to go out in the yard and enjoy the new found safety and the freedom that is his without the leash. What I wonder is how many times we are like Beckham. I mean sometime, somewhere we got “burned”. Maybe by a spouse, a child, a co-worker, an employer, or even God. And now we are afraid to even go out of the house. Instead we stay where we think it is “safe” and forfeit the freedom and fun we could have if we would just go back out in the yard and try again.

I am reminded of the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So get up and go outside again. I’ll see you there!