Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Here's where I've been...

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I know that a lot of you have been wondering where I've been for the last month. Well, Texas has been keeping me busy. At church, we just finished a campaign for an auditorium expansion and new children's building. Over the last month we had ten separate informational meetings, a leadership banquet, and a big service last Sunday outdoors under a tent so the whole church could be together at one time. It's been a great month, but I couldn't find the time or energy to write any posts.

The other major event that happened this month, is that the Lunsford family grew! We added a new puppy to our family! Gracie is a 2 and a half pound Yorkie-Poo that was born on August 24, 2007. We drove four hours to meet the breeder from Fredonia, Texas and pick her up. She is very cute, but we haven't decided if she's smart or not. :) It's taken her a couple of weeks to respond to her name, and she's not even close to being potty trained. Ugh! But, she's a lot of fun and she's making me get up early to let her out and take her for walks. Which is causing me to fall asleep earlier than normal. For those of you who know me, you may be surprised that we even got a puppy. But, our daughter Samantha has always been a dog lover. She has begged us for years to get one. I always told her that our house in Tampa was too small, and until we had a bigger house, having a puppy was not an option. Well, when we moved to Frisco, we were able to get a bigger house. Funny how she didn't forget our conversation. :) Anne and I decided this would be a good time to go ahead and get a dog, so we began our search. Anne found this one online and we fell in love with her. The girls love her and she's fitting right in.

Tomorrow, we are loading up the Honda and traveling back to Tampa for the Thanksgiving holiday. Pray for us because we'll be traveling overnight on Friday. I haven't pulled an allnighter in a long time. We are excited to get back and see our family and friends. For those of you from Grace Family, we are planning to be there for service this Sunday morning. Make sure that you look for us!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I recently read the book of Ruth and saw an aspect of the story that I had never paid much attention to before. I guess since the main character in the story is Ruth, I have always focused on her part in the story. But as I read it this time, there was something new that stuck out to me. One thing I love about reading the bible, is that no matter how many times I have read it before, God always has more to say to me when I read it again. The story begins with Naomi. Naomi has two sons who marry girls in Moab where they are living. After some time, Naomi's life encounters some tragic events. Not only does she lose her husband, but her two sons die as well. She is left alone with her two daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah. Naomi decides that she is going to return to her homeland and urges her two daughters-in-law to return to their own homes because she doesn't figures they will be better off with their own families. Ruth, however, vows to Naomi that she will stay with her. She says (1:16-17), "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." Now in this exchange Ruth is showing an intense love and affection for Naomi. I think we can assume that Naomi was a loving mother-in-law who probably comforted Ruth when her husband died. I think that Naomi was truly looking out for Ruth's best interest, when she urged her to return to her family. I think that she valued Ruth more than she cared about her own happiness. So they returned to Bethlehem together. But it's there that Naomi tells her friends, (1:20)"Don't call me Naomi (which means pleasant), but call me Mara (which means bitter), because the Almighty has made my life very bitter." Now, she has many reasons to feel this way. She has lost her husband and two sons. Really, who could blame her. But as I read this story again, God showed me something. He had provided Ruth, whose undying devotion and loyalty was evident. Ruth could have left her and gone back to her family, but she chose to stay with Naomi and help her through this. Naomi was focusing on the wrong thing and it was causing her to be bitter. I can relate to Naomi. Not because I've experienced the same tragedy, but because I can easily take my eyes off of God's blessings and focus on what I don't have or things that I wish were different. Sometimes the very thing we're longing for is closer than we realize. At the end of the story, the women say to Naomi who is holding her new grandson, "your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth" (4:15). Sometimes we can't really see the blessing until it slaps us in the face. These ladies help Naomi to see how God used Ruth, the loyal daughter-in-law and friend, to bring more happiness to Naomi's life than she ever dreamed. This has got me thinking, what blessings am I taking for granted today?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Being a pastor comes with a number of responsibilities. Because of my position, a lot of people come to me to help them figure things out. In a lot cases, it's energizing. There are many problems that have a solution. When I'm able to help someone think through the details of what they're trying to accomplish, it's fulfilling because I feel like I'm helping them become successful. A few years ago there was a commercial by BASF that said, "We don't make a lot of the products you use every day, we make the products you use everyday BETTER!" I could really relate to that statement because that's what I feel God has called me to do in the church. I love it when I can bring an idea or a new perspective to ministry that helps us to be more effective in our mission. That's when I feel I am accomplishing what God has asked me to do. But I've found that there are many problems that don't come with a simple solution. Especially when dealing with people's family issues, marriages, money problems, illnesses, etc. There have been a couple of times where I've been approached by a church member telling me about tough situations in a friend or family member's life and then asked, "So what can 'the church' do about it?" I know what they're asking. They want me to tell them, "No problem, I'll call the 'church hotline' and all of your needs will be taken care of." But many times there is no "hotline" set up to meet that particular need. Or a family may have financial problems that go far beyond what our church's benevolence budget can meet. Many times the person who is asking for help walks away disappointed, or frustrated that the church couldn't help them in their time of need. I'm not saying that help wasn't offered, but sometimes the help that is offered doesn't meet the level of expectation of the person, and is seen as no help at all. When that happens, nobody is more disappointed than me. I became a pastor to help people in their time of need. I truly believe that God is the answer, and that He can make provision in people's lives when they are struggling. Unfortunately, some of the people who ask the church for help don't have the proper perspective. They expect "the church" to solve all of their problems, when many times they are reaping the results of bad decisions that they have made in the past. When situations happen like this, it can make me feel like it's pointless even to try. Is what I'm doing making a difference at all? As I was praying about this situation, God reminded me of Galatians 6:9 which says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Sometimes it would seem easier to give up, but I know that is not God's plan. I'm going to continue to ask Him for the wisdom to meet every challenge, and hopefully, even if I disappoint some people along the way, I won't be a disappointment to Him.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I’ve spent the last three days in Chicago at the Willow Creek Group Life conference. It’s been a really good time of learning, but I must admit, I’m ready to get home. Ironically, I came to the “community conference” alone. Primarily because of economics and logistics, it worked out easier for me to attend this conference by myself. I thought I would enjoy the time alone. It would give me time to reflect and plan for the upcoming months. In some ways, I think I’m a loner and enjoy being by myself. But throughout the conference, I kept wishing that there were others experiencing it with me. Others who I could bounce ideas off, or just enjoy dinner with. Actually, there were about 3000 other people who were experiencing it along with me, and I met some of them at lunches and breakouts, but I didn’t have any further connection with them. At the end of the day, they all went back with their teams and I was left by myself. Last night was the “big game” for my team USF, as they played #5 in the nation West Virginia. All day, I was trying to figure out how to meet someone who would want to watch the game with me. At my first breakout, I met a man from North Carolina who actually graduated from USF in 1968. I told him about the “big game,” but he wasn’t even aware of it. At the end of our conversation, I didn’t have the nerve to ask him about watching the game with me. At my next breakout, I sat next to a young pastor from the Florida panhandle who also was attending the conference alone. I thought he might be willing to hang out. As soon as the session was over, I turned around to see that he had already left. So I left the church, stopped by Jimmy John’s gourmet sandwiches, and went back to the hotel to watch the game by myself. The game went great! USF upset West Virginia and continued to show everyone that they are for real this year. As exciting as it was, it wasn’t nearly as fun watching it by myself in my hotel room. Some things are just better with others. So at this conference, I learned a number of great things in the context of the main sessions and the breakout sessions, but I also learned something else. I’m sure there are people that come to our church every week, and wish they knew how to connect with others. They probably look around and think that everyone is already connected and probably doesn’t want to meet them anyway. These last few days have confirmed how important life groups are to our church. There is nothing more powerful than people living out their Christianity together, experiencing the highs and lows of life with others who are also growing in their relationship with Christ. It’s also challenged me to be more intentional about living in community with others. But right now, I’m just looking forward to being home with Anne and the girls. I guess I’m less of a loner than I thought.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Football Loyalty

My post on football loyalty resulted in the most response I've ever had to any post. Thanks for helping me through this important decision in my life. ;) This week my Bucs gave me more reason to hope, and the Cowboys didn't hurt their standing either as they are still undefeated.

Staff Retreat

Today through Wednesday is all about our staff getting away as a team to dream, plan, and prepare for the next season of ministry at Hope Fellowship. I really enjoy hanging out with this group (we have 7 pastors and 3 directors) so I've really been looking forward to it. We arrived at Lantana lodge last night. I don't know where it is, but I know it's somewhere in Texas on a beautiful lake. Last night we watched football and engaged in some friendly wii competition. (John has a killer serve on the wii tennis game.) Today, we've been engaging in a lot of prayer and discussion about the next steps for our church and our team. John asked each of us to read a book called Simple Church. It's sparking some really good conversation that I think is going to help us in the future.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's always something

Yesterday was the day we became true Texans. I waited as long as possible, but the day finally came. Yesterday was the day that I replaced my Florida license plates with ones that say Texas: the Lone Star State. It's taken me a while to actually come to grips with the fact that I really do live in Texas now. My first realization of this was a couple of weeks ago when I attended my first Texas Rangers baseball game. During the game, the loudspeakers blared with songs that were previously unfamiliar to me. Songs like, 'The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas,' Cotton Eyed Joe (not the new techno version either), and another song sung by a girl who asked God if she couldn't go to heaven, at least let her go to Texas. (Is she implying that Texas is hell, or maybe just purgatory?) During that game I came to the surreal realization that I wasn't just visiting anymore, this was my town. These were my songs. I'd better get used to it. It wasn't a bad feeling, just like reality finally sinking in. But, I was comforted by the fact that when I got in my Element to drive home, it still had my Florida license plate. But I couldn't live in denial forever. And yesterday was the deadline. So, when Anne and I dropped off the kids at school, we were off to get our Texas license plates and drivers licenses. Having been through this process before, I wanted to make sure that I was fully prepared so I didn't have the painful experience of waiting in line only to be told that I forgot to bring some piece of information. So I studied the website and gathered all of my materials. The most important, cash. Texas likes their license plates. :) We arrived at the Frisco city hall and got our new Texas license plates with no problem. In fact, it even cost less than I expected. Only 2 car payments instead of 3. We were then given the directions to the drivers license office. Yes, it's about 30 minutes away, but no problem, we've dedicated the whole day to this process anyway. When we arrive at the office, the line is about 40 deep. There are only 2 people working the counter. It's going to be a while. After about an hour, we finally made it to the front of the line. Everything was going well, until the lady behind the desk said, "Your wife's name is not on the car registration, so she needs another form of identification." "No problem, can you use a credit card or something like that?" "No, we only take a birth certificate or a marriage license." Uggh....It's always something. So, we drove back to the house, picked up both just in case, and drove back. Another hour round trip. When we returned, she let us go to the front of the line and we got it all taken care of. After just four and a half hours, we were official. I took the screwdriver out and removed the last bastion of Florida from our cars. It was kind of like removing a band aid. A little bit painful, but better when it's done quick. We are now Texans. Do you have any DMV stories?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

blog time and other dilemmas

I've been having some difficulty carving out blog time over the past couple of weeks. I'm hoping that's not a trend.

Football season- For me it's the best time of the year. The first week was filled with highlights and lowlights. The biggest thing for me was that my USF Bulls beat Auburn!!! And even bigger, I was able to see it since it was on ESPN2. I'm hoping they can keep the momentum for the rest of the year. They've got a killer schedule, but they're off to a great start. My Bucs were a big lowlight. I didn't get to see the game, but there weren't very many highlights available either. Is it going to be another down year for them? My fantasy football team was also a big lowlight. I have to quit talking so much smack if my team is going to continue to be that bad. The final highlight of the weekend was the viewing party that I hosted at my house with some of the guys for the Cowboys opening game. But that has created another dilemma for me...

One of the most asked questions by people in Tampa as I was moving to Frisco was, "Are you still going to be a Bucs fan?" "Of course I'll still be a Bucs fan," I said. Truth is, the Bucs are MY team. When my family first moved to Clearwater Florida in 1980 from Colorado, I adopted them immediately. Even though I had loved the Broncos (more on that later), I now felt that I lived in a city with a team. And since I lived in a city with a team, I should root for them. Since then, I have always rooted for the Bucs. There were plenty of lean years, but when a lot of others were jumping on the bandwagon during the championship year in 2002, I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had rooted for them all along. There was a time, when I lived in Tennessee, that I adopted the Titans. The Bucs were still MY team, but I liked rooting for the home team, and it never interfered with the fact that I was a Bucs fan first. Fast forward...Living near Dallas makes the local team the Cowboys. That doesn't seem like a big deal, but I have always had a strong dislike for them. I think it might have started because they killed the dream of my first favorite team. In 1977, I was just a kid growing up in Colorado, and starting to love football. It turned out to be a big year for the Broncos. There was the Orange Crush defense with Lyle Alzado. There was Craig Morton at quarterback. It was their year. They made it all the way to Super Bowl XII. I remember that day vividly. My mom woke me up in the morning singing 'This is the day, This is the day that the Broncos play' to the tune of 'This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made.' Probably sac religious, but I thought God wanted the Broncos to win too. My parents had to be at church that evening, so we brought a portable tv from home for me to watch the game in the basement while they got ready for the evening service. And the Broncos got creamed. By you know who...the Cowboys. America's team. So smug and arrogant. Well, from that point on until now, I have maintained my dislike for the Cowboys. So now I have a dilemma, do I stick with my normal philosophy of rooting for my local team, even if it's the Cowboys (at least Bill Parcells and Keyshawn are gone), or do I keep holding my grudge? These are big, serious issues. :) Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Recently I was reading the story of Moses and was struck by a couple of things. When God first told Moses to go to Pharoah, he reacted with skepticism. "Who am I?" he asked (Exodus 3:11). Even though he was unsure of his own ability, he trusted God to use him. As the plagues continued, it was clear that Moses' faith was growing. When Pharoah finally relented and said, "Go, worship the Lord as you have requested," (Ex. 12:31) I wonder if Moses felt a sense of relief. I wonder if he said to himself, "I'm glad that's over, now let's just get out of here." If it were me, I'd be ready for some rest, but that's not what was in store for him. As soon as the Israelites had gone from Egypt, Pharoah realized what he had lost, and began to pursue them to bring them back. As the Israelites approached the Red Sea, Pharoah's army began to overtake them. This is where Moses made a bold decision. A decision to take a stand for faith, even though he didn't know what the next step was. "Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.'"(Ex. 14:13) As I was reading this passage, it occurred to me, how did he know that the Lord would bring deliverance? When he had been approaching Pharoah in Egypt, God told him exactly what to do, and what the result would be. So, even though he needed the faith to follow through, he knew what was in store. But this was different. Moses boldly promised that the Lord would deliver, but God hadn't given him the plan yet. The next verses go on to tell how God instructs Moses to raise his staff so that the sea will part, and the Israelites can cross. To me, this seems like a defining moment in Moses' life. He knows the power of God, and the promises of God. In fact, he has had conversations with God in the past. He has seen God do what He promised, was there any reason to think that God wouldn't deliver them? I think there are times when we all have doubt about God's plan for us. We know that He is able, we just aren't sure if He's really going to follow through. If Moses had given into doubt or fear, the way the Israelites were, I'm sure they all would have been doomed. But Moses instead chose to speak faith, and God showed him the way. I wonder why God didn't tell Moses that this was going to happen ahead of time? Maybe it was because Moses was going to need that boldness many more times in his life. Today, I'm praying that I will be bold in my faith, and believe that God's promises are true.

Moving in the Right Direction

The school that my kids just started attending is a brand new elementary school that is welcoming it's first students this week. As with anything new, there is a lot of optimism and excitement surrounding this brand new school. I expected that enthusiasm to be reflected in the school's motto. But, when I saw the school's motto, boldly painted in the entrance to the building, I had to chuckle. There it was, in all it's glory, the statement to the world about the difference that THIS school proposes to make in the world, and how effective they will be at shaping young minds into future leaders. Here is the vision that they wanted all of the families to catch..."MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION". I have to give them credit, I predict that they will live up to that motto in a very short period of time. But when I saw it, I felt kind of let down. I thought, "that's the BEST that they expect to do?" They're not promising to produce "Tomorrow's leaders" or claiming that they will unlock my child's "unlimited potential." I wasn't inspired because it was so SAFE and IMMINENTLY ATTAINABLE. I had to chuckle because, being a thirty something-sometimes cynical person, I can relate to wanting to manage the expectations. I think it's funny when I see a company has a vision that doesn't even make sense. Like a flip-flop company with a motto like, "Changing the world, one thong at a time." They're not even SHOES people. :) But somehow I expect more from the school that my kids attend. I want them to understand that they are part of a bigger picture, and that they have limitless possibilities available to them. I think it's also a lesson to those of us who are ministry leaders. The people that come to our churches are looking for more than just "moving in the right direction." They want to know that we believe what we are talking about. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. So challenge your vision. Is it safe, or will it take divine intervention. Think BIG!!!

Five Dysfunctions

I just finished reading the book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. Actually, I didn't read it, but I listened to the audio version. I have started doing that recently and have discovered that I like listening to books. It makes the commute much more productive. Anyway, I didn't like the book at all. Not that it's a bad book by any means. In fact, it contains a lot of great ideas. It's a management/leadership book in the form of a fable. What I didn't like about it, is that it made me re-assess what it means to be on a team, and how those interactions should look. I didn't like the fact that I had to look at the kind of team member that I have been in the past, and realize that I may (I emphasize MAY) have not always been the best team member. It also made me think that some team interactions that I have typically characterized as dysfunctional, might actually be healthy after all. If you're like me, and would just prefer the ignorant bliss that comes with knowing you're right all the time, and don't want to find out that it's not always true, then I don't recommend reading this book. :)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Church Ministries Convention

Last week, my friend Tim emailed me to let me know that he was teaching a workshop for church leaders on blogging and podcasting, and that he would be using my blog as an example. Of course, I figured he would probably show them a really cool blog written by a great pastor like Mark Batterson, and then tell them, "Now, don't let that intimidate you, look at this blog." Then he would show them my blog, and everyone would say to themselves, "Wow, I guess anybody CAN do this." :) Actually, I hope that was the case and that more people start to share their stories through blogging. I know that God is doing incredible things all over the place, and it's encouraging to hear those stories. So, get off the fence and start writing!

School Time

Tomorrow starts the new school year here in Texas for our three girls. It's been a long summer of transition and change, and I think they are actually ready for the new year, and some structure, to begin. Of course, they are all having a little difficulty actually going to sleep, but I'm sure that has something to do with the crazy schedule they've been keeping this summer. Now, it time to get back to having bedtimes, homework, and hopefully meeting new friends. They have been so resilient through all of the changes that have happened in our lives recently. I know this is going to be a great year!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Do One Thing Well

Last night was daddy daughter night in our house. For the last few years, we've had a tradition that we would go to the local Long John Silvers/A&W restaurant whenever mom wasn't with us. My girls share my love of malt vinegar on fish/chicken and real draft root beer in a frosty mug. Anne on the other hand, prefers more "sophisticated" fare. :) It seems that God was with us in our move to Frisco, because there's a new LJS/A&W close by. After dinner, the girls wanted to do something else. I was trying to think of what we could do (that wouldn't cost a lot) when I remembered "The Snow Cone Lady." Back when we visited Frisco a few years ago, we were taken to "The Snow Cone Lady's" stand, but the girls couldn't even remember. As we pulled in to the lot where the stand is located, there was a line with at least a dozen people waiting for a snow cone. When we finally reached the front of the line, Sydney chose the banana, Morgan went for the green apple, Samantha picked Watermelon, and I settled on the strawberry shortcake snow cone. As we sat on makeshift benches in the parking lot eating our snow cones, I was struck by how many people kept coming. The line never got smaller than a dozen people. I am told this happens every night. As I was eating my snow cone, which only cost ONE DOLLAR, I realized why people kept lining up to get theirs. It was a generous portion, with more flavor choices than I'd ever seen before, and it TASTED GREAT! "The Snow Cone Lady" has continued to be successful because she has concentrated on serving the best snow cones at the best price. There are no frills, no fancy marketing, just good snow cones. I'm also told that after working in Frisco for "a season" which is about 6 months, she leaves with more than a six-figure income. Not bad. I might have to drop by later for some more "market research." ;)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Only God knows

Yesterday, my sister called me to tell me that her friend, a 32 year old mother of 4, had passed away after a long fight with cancer. It's difficult to find any words that would even begin to express how sad it is to know that those 4 children have lost their mother. I am praying that God will comfort them, and guide them through this season in their lives, and that their father will have the strength that he needs as well. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that I have experienced this. I have presided over and attended several funerals in the last few years of lives that were cut short by disease or tragedy. For those who are left behind, there are all kinds of questions that come up. Why did it happen? Was there anything I could have done? We prayed for healing, didn't God hear us? In most cases, we just don't have simple answers that can make it better. But for those of us who know God, it's important to understand that He still hears and answers prayer. He still has the power to heal (Isa. 53:5), but He also knows more than we can fathom about how these circumstances will affect others in the end. I have heard numerous accounts of family members coming to know the Lord through these events. We know that God is working for our good (Romans 8:28), even if we can't see how right now.

Today I was reading in the book of Genesis the story of Joseph. At the end of the story, in chapter 45, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and forgives them. I have always marveled at Joseph's attitude when dealing with the circumstances that faced him. Here he was, with incredible power, and the opportunity to take revenge on the brothers who had sold him into slavery so many years earlier, but Joseph chose to forgive. In verse 5 he says, "And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." Joseph could see how God had worked all of these circumstances together for the very day when he would be able to help save his own family from becoming destitute. It makes me wonder about the loved ones who have left this life and gone before us. When we see them again in heaven will they say to us, "Don't be distressed, it was for this reason that God sent me ahead of you." In the meantime, keep praying, keep believing, and keep hoping.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cost to be #1 Dad-- $11.95

You might remember on Father's day when I wrote this post about being the 2nd best dad in the world. Well, today I moved up a notch...

If you have kids that live in the United States between the ages of 7 and 11, then you probably are aware that Friday, August 17 is a big day. In fact, in our household we've been counting down for months. (Sorry sis, it's not because it's your birthday) It's the premiere of "High School Musical 2" on the Disney Channel. I have to give Disney a lot of credit for their marketing. They obviously know how to capture the imaginations of kids....and their parents money. Tonight, the girls convinced me that they just HAD to have the soundtrack to the new movie. (It conveniently came out today.) They want to be able to sing along to the songs the FIRST TIME they see the movie. I was skeptical about the whole HAVING to have it thing. But, they sold me when they informed me that this small act would push me over the top, and that I would be, by all accounts, the BEST DAD IN THE WORLD!!! Well, I figured that at $11.95 it was a pretty good deal. So, I am now the enjoying the benefits that go along with having the best dad award, while listening to my girls sing and dance around the gameroom. Oh, they just gave me my best dad says "expires in 12 hours." :)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

MySpace and Facebook

Over the years I've sat on the sidelines and watched the hype about these social networking sites. I have to admit, I don't really get the attraction of these sites, but about 60 million people on myspace, and 30 million people on facebook must know something. So....I decided to set up profiles on both sites. My sister says that It's pretty sad that I don't have very many friends on my profile. If you're using either of these, feel free to "friend" me or "poke" me or whatever it is we're supposed to do on there. Maybe I'll figure it out someday...

Leadership Summit

This week I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit at a satellite location in McKinney, TX. There were so many great points made by the speakers, but I thought I'd share a couple of the highlights for me. Bill Hybels started by challenging us to have a "vision to die for." Throughout church history, people have been willing to sacrifice heavily for the cause of Christ. He defined vision as "the painting of a picture that inspires passion." He went on to talk about the vision formation process and how it's most effective when done as a team. Carly Fiorina was the next speaker. She is the ex-ceo of HP. She was fired in 2005, and spoke candidly about it. A quote that I liked from her was, "There's a gift in everything if only we will see it." That's good perspective. I also enjoyed her point that leadership requires both passion and dispassion. Passion is essential because you have to own the vision and have heart for the mission. But a leader must also remain dispassionate enough to be able to objectively see things as they are. She said that passion can blind you as well as motivate you. She summed it up by saying that leadership is about unlocking potential in others. When we take a chance on others, THAT is leadership. Marcus Buckingham is the author of one of my all time favorite books, Now Discover Your Strengths. He continued his thoughts about building on strengths first, and managing weaknesses second. If you've never read his books before, they are HIGHLY recommended.

On Friday, Bill Hybels opened up the meeting with some very compelling research that they have been doing at Willow Creek about the satisfaction level of people in their church. They have learned that as believers grow stronger in their relationship with the Lord, they actually feel less satisfied that they are being "fed" by the church. One conclusion that they are coming to is that they need to train new believers how to take responsibility for their own spiritual growth, and show them a roadmap for how to get there. I think they have hit on some important information, and I think it may be as revolutionary as their focus on "seekers" twenty years ago. You can read more about it here. Michael Porter discussed strategic thinking as we approach our community outreach programs. He said we need to "do better, at doing good." He says it's important to define clearly what our goals are, and specify the needs that we're going to address. He says that it's more important to do things effectively, than just do things. I agree.

Colin Powell shared his thoughts on leadership, called "Powell principles." He said to embrace the "clash of ideas." It's better to get all of the ideas on the table, even if it means that there will be some clashes. A couple of the other principles that I liked were, "things always look better in the morning," "optimism is a force multiplier," and "trust the element of instinct."

John Ortberg shared about the story of Esther and challenged all of us to not allow our "shadow missions" to become our mission.

Basically by this point my brain was mush, and could not handle any more learning for the weekend. :)

Monday, August 6, 2007


This weekend was my first weekend as a staff member at Hope. Pastor John was out of town, so Pastor Aaron, the student ministry pastor spoke. He spoke about the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22,23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

His main point was that this was not a list of things that we need to DO, but they are qualities that we can BE. If we are allowing Christ to work in our lives, others will be able to see Him in us through these characteristics displayed in our actions.

Each of these characteristics is actually a reflection of how God responds to us. I thought that was a really good point, and for me it made me think about how FAITHFUL God has been to me. He has been with me through so many circumstances in my life. When I look back, I can see God's faithfulness as the one constant through all of the changes in my life. I am so thankful that I can trust in Him. I pray that as I continue to grow in Him, that His characteristics will rub off on me.

Moving in

Last week, I posted and mentioned that Monday was going to be a critical day in our move. Well, everything didn't go exactly as planned, since our Tampa house closing didn't happen until late in the day. So, we had one more night in the hotel, and our mover was upset because he couldn't unload his truck. But, we finally got the call at noon on Tuesday that everything was taken care of, and we were able to move in. We have been unpacking and getting settled ever since. Anne's parents flew in on Thursday and have been a tremendous help. They've helped us paint, install towel bars, and all the stuff that I'm no good at. :) Today, we are supposed to get our internet, cable, and home phone hooked up. I'm looking forward to retiring the rabbit ears again!

I'm Back!

I'm sitting at my new desk in my new office at Hope Fellowship, and it feels good to get back to work. Of course, I don't really know what I'm doing yet, but I'm enjoying getting to know the staff and learning how they do things here. One of the areas that I have responsibility over is LifeGroups. I am praying that God will give me some new ideas for how to get more people involved. I'm excited about meeting the current leaders and hearing what is happening in their groups now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

We Made it!

We made it to Texas! It's a long drive from Tampa, but we made it with no problems. We arrived at the hotel around 3:30 this afternoon. After we checked in, we took the girls by the new house. The builder gave us the key so that we could go inside. The girls were able to see their new rooms, and we even met a neighbor who was walking his dogs. Tomorrow is a big day. We have a walk-through scheduled at 9:30am, and then our closing at 11am. The one hitch in our plan is that our Tampa house, which was supposed to close in the morning, may not close until the afternoon. If that happens, then we may not be able to move in to our new house tomorrow, and our mover will also be stuck having to wait. He's in a hurry to get back to Florida for another move on Wednesday. It's incredible how many different people are affected by any changes in the plan. We're just going to take it one step at a time. If you don't hear from me for a few days, it's because our internet service will not be installed in the new house until August 6! Time Warner cable had a three week backlog on installations.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Packed Up

Today our house in Tampa was packed up and is now completely empty. As I watched the truck pull away, (with all our earthly possessions onboard) it became real to me that we were really leaving. I took another stroll through the house and just thanked God for all of the memories that we have had in that house. I remembered how it was the only house we ever looked at when we moved to Tampa. We walked through it probably no more than fifteen minutes, figuring it would probably be sold by the time we were ready to buy. It was an older house (built in 1976), but it was in a good location, in a family friendly neighborhood, and it had a POOL! We didn't think we were going to be able to afford a house with a pool, but this one was in our price range. All of the pieces worked out (as God usually does) and we were able to sell our Nashville house quickly. When we called back to inquire about the Tampa house, it was still for sale. We made an offer over the phone, and they accepted. It certainly wasn't our dream house, but it's been home. When we moved in, our kids were toddlers. While we've lived here in Tampa, our kids have developed strong relationships with their grandparents that will last a lifetime. Last Monday night, when Anne mentioned to the girls that it would be our last night in our house, Samantha started to cry. It's the only house she's known. But Anne explained to her that our home is not defined by a house, home is where we are together as a family. We will have a new house, and it may feel strange at first, but because we are on this journey together, we will soon call it home too. There were times when Anne and I felt like that house was becoming too small for our family. There were times (like when we had to replace the roof, the air conditioner, the pool pump three times) when we wished we lived in something a little newer. But the things I will remember are: wrestling with Samantha every night at bedtime (her terrible two's lasted a year and a half) but being impressed with her fortitude. (She never liked to give in and go to bed). The three girls in little ballet outfits dancing in the living room. Eating dinner around the table and hearing about their first day at school. Praying at separate times with each of the girls at bedtime, and having them ask me to pray with them to ask God into their hearts. That house will always be the place where our young family started to mature, and our little girls grew into young ladies. I am thankful for all of the blessings that God has given us. As that truck drove off, I knew that this chapter was closing. Our house may be empty, but our memories are full, and a new chapter in our lives will soon begin...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Local Eats

As we're getting closer to leaving, I'm making sure to eat at all my favorite Tampa spots. I love eating at places that are a little bit off the beaten path, and that you can't get everywhere. My favorite subs can be found at Subport. I always get the #9 (Turkey and Cheese) with everything on it. There's just something about the combination of bread that they use, and the spices they add, that make their subs unique. I've been a fan of theirs ever since I was in college. Yesterday, the family and I ate at a new hamburger joint that just opened up around the corner. I think it's actually a franchise, but I haven't seen them anywhere else. It's called Five Guys, and they have some of the best burgers I've eaten in a long time. Whenever I go to Prime Time Sports Grill, I get the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. I order it hot, but not swimming in sauce. It's a huge piece of chicken for the price. (And, just to make me feel better, I order broccoli instead of fries.) I love Thai food, and we've got our share of Thai restaurants here in Tampa, but my favorite is still Benjarong Thai. I get the red curry (hot, of course). For a good bento box, you can't beat China-Fuji. I usually get the salmon. Does anyone know of any good local eateries I should try when I get to Frisco?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lightning Strikes

There is a reason why Tampa's hockey team is called the Lightning. It's because this area is known as the lightning capital of the world. Well, the lightning found us yesterday afternoon. Anne was getting ready to go to dinner with the Grace Family pastor's wives, and I was on the computer in the family room, when a big storm started. These are common in Florida, especially in the summer, so I didn't think much of it. Then I heard an odd sound. It sounded kind of like a big piece of equipment was powering down, and our lights flickered, but came back on. Then, five seconds later, it happened again and everything went off. At first, I figured it was just a normal power outage, but then I noticed that our air conditioner was still on, while everything else was off. I decided to walk out to the garage and see what the electrical panel looked like. when I walked out, I could see that the panel door was blown open, with black soot on the inside. As I got closer, I could see that there were still sparks flaring up inside the panel. I must admit my first thought was, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!??! The week that we are closing on the sale of our house, and my electrical panel is blown up?" Since I was watching it, and the sparks were dying down, I decided that I didn't need to call the fire department. But, I called an electrician. (This is where the silver lining comes in...) A co-worker had told me that he had some electrical work done on his house by this company, and their name stuck in my mind. So I called Small Jobs Electric and Nathaniel was here within 30 MINUTES!! He told me that I would have to replace the panel. I agreed, and he called his partner and they got to work. Five hours later, the electricity was back on, and we tested all the other appliances and electronics in the house and there was NO FURTHER DAMAGE! As I was going to bed last night, I was thankful that we were able to get the situation resolved so quickly. But, it was even more significant than I thought. At 9am this morning, there was a knock on the door. It was the APPRAISER! Can you imagine if we were still without power with a burned out electrical panel?! Anyway, he was able to see our house without any issues, and was off to write his report. I'm not sure what God is trying to teach me through yesterday's events, but I know that He was protecting us, and causing All things to work for our good. (Romans 8:28)

Monday, July 16, 2007

unemployed reflections

I'm now officially unemployed, but I've been busier than ever as we're preparing for our house to close and make the big move. There are so many little things to take care of through this process...

Thursday was my official last day at Grace Family. A lot of the staff was away at camp, but those that were in the office made sure to give me a hug and wish me well. As I was packing up, I began to reflect on the last six and a half years and think about how much the church has grown, how many opportunities for growth that I've had, and the circumstances that brought me here in the first place. It just confirmed in my mind that God has a plan, and has directed every step. In a lot of ways, I feel like Hope Fellowship is poised for the same type of growth that Grace has experienced. It's almost the same size, with the same auditorium constraints that Grace had when I came here. I can see God's hand in my time at Grace, preparing me to assist Hope through their next growth spurt. The time here at Grace has also allowed us to live close to our family. It's has allowed our kids to establish bonds with their grandparents and other family members that will never be broken. We have been very blessed.

My last weekend at Grace was July 1st. As we got ready for church that morning, I think we all felt a little tinge of reality hitting us. The girls were anxious to get to "The Zone," to be a part of the kid's ministry one more time. We were preparing for our last chance to minister with the "Blend" worship team. As you might expect, God definitely showed up in the service. The kindred spirit that we have felt with the worship team was evident, and we had a lot of fun playing music and worshiping together for the last time. I got a chance to share with the Blend, and the other three services how much I appreciated my time here. I am so grateful for how Pastor Craig has handled this whole situation. He has been clear that he didn't want me to leave, (I'm glad about that) but that he knew that God has put this in our hearts. He has been very supportive through the whole process. He presented me with a plaque thanking me for my time at Grace. Also, they put together a video that they showed to the congregation. I felt honored that they would spend so much time and effort putting it together, even if they used some pictures and video that I thought had been long forgotten. (You can see it here. If you look closely you'll even see Anne busting a move in one scene.)

This chapter may be coming to a close, but the relationships and friendships that I have been blessed with through my time at Grace Family will stay with me forever.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


This weekend we have been in Boss, MO celebrating my grandparent's (my dad's parents, I call them DaddyDon and Momeen) 70th wedding anniversary. It's quite a milestone, and so all of the family came in to celebrate. We're quite a bunch when we all get together. Our family has a long history in and around Boss. My relatives settled there a few generations ago, and there are still a lot of our family that live there today. When my grandparents retired in 1983, they decided to move back to the homestead for their golden years. Yesterday, we had a party at the Steven's steakhouse to celebrate the anniversary. And today, we all took part in the worship service at Boss Assembly of God. I am told that my great-great grandfather donated the land that the church sits on. DaddyDon pastored there in the 40's. I had the privilege of sharing in the service today, and am now the fifth generation in our family to have ministered in the church. As I was thinking back on this weekend, it struck me that we weren't just celebrating 70 years of marriage that has past, but a legacy that is only beginning. A legacy that is lived out in the lives of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, not to mention the numerous families that they have ministered to through the years. (I realize this post is long, but hey, I haven't posted for a week.) There are a few lessons that I've learned through their legacy. The first is faithfulness to God's calling. DaddyDon's ministry took him through Missouri, Illinois, Florida and Colorado. He has always been passionate about the cause of Christ, and willing to go where God wanted him to go. Through his example, I have a better understanding of Psalm 100:5, "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations." The second lesson I've learned from their legacy is perseverance. When I was a young boy, DaddyDon would take me fishing at Cherry Creek dam just outside of Denver. After we parked the truck, we couldn't just stop and fish where it was convenient. He had to make me walk over huge rocks for miles and miles (it was probably just a few hundred yards, but it seemed longer). But he knew that there was a payoff if we would take that walk. The fishing was much better on the other side. I know in their lives there have been plenty of "rocks" that they've had to climb over, but they understood what the bible meant in James 1:2 where it said, "Consider it pure joy my brothers, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." There are many more lessons that I could share, but I'll just share one more that sums it all up. Love. A love that lasts a lifetime is more than just a "butterflies in the stomach" feeling, but a deep commitment to each other no matter what the cost. I'm sure that their love hasn't been perfect over the years, but it's been the foundation on which their relationship has stayed strong. I Corinthians 13:4-7 is the textbook for how God loves us, and how we are to love others. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." A legacy of faithfulness, perseverance, and love is only possible when we dedicate ourselves to God and His purposes. My grandparent's legacy is really just a reflection of God's perfect faithfulness, perseverance, and love for all of us. When we accept Him, we begin a legacy for all who follow after us.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Requesting an extension

Yesterday I mentioned that I would post about our last weekend at Grace Family, but as it turns out I'm going to need an extension. Right now I'm in the middle of mortgage applications, packing to go out of town, and other frazzles. We'll be celebrating our fourth of July on the road. We'll be traveling for about fifteen hours on our way to Missouri to celebrate my grandparent's 70th wedding anniversary. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the family there. I'll tell you all about it later.... :)

Monday, July 2, 2007

The House

A lot has transpired since the last time I posted. Last Thursday, Anne and I left in the morning for Frisco, Texas on a house buying mission. As soon as we arrived at the airport, we picked up a rental car and headed off to find THE house for us. We met up with our realtor, Kim, and started looking at houses. We looked at probably a dozen on Thursday, and another dozen on Friday. On Thursday, the houses we looked at were mostly in the central area of Frisco, closest to the church. We liked that location, but none of the houses we saw felt like they were "the one." So, we decided to go ahead and look in the North Frisco area where there are newer subdivisions. The last house of the day was in a new neighborhood, had just recently been built, and was ready to move in. When we walked in, Anne said, "I like it!" She felt like this house could be home. We were done house shopping for the day, so we stopped by Hope Fellowship and hung out for a few minutes while their VBS program was finishing up. We were graciously hosted by Pastor John and Melissa. (Thanks Macy for letting us take over your room for a couple of days.) John even showed me my new office. They already have my name on the door! It made me feel good that they're getting prepared for me to arrive. I enjoyed seeing the staff there and saying hi, even though we only stayed for a few minutes. The next day, we concentrated solely on the North Frisco area and newer construction. After looking at all of those houses, we still came back to the one we had seen on Thursday night. When we looked at it again, we could envision our family living there. We kept questioning ourselves, because this house was the smallest one that we had looked at. But, the layout worked, and we would be able to get it for about the same price that we are selling our current home for. With all that in mind, we decided to make an offer. They countered, and we came to an agreement. We found THE HOUSE! We hopped back on a plane EARLY Saturday morning so we could make it in time for the weekend services at Grace Family. (I'll post more about that tomorrow) It's amazing how God is working out all of the details for our move. Now, it's starting to feel like reality.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


"Admit it, you want to be cool." That's the first line of a book I recently read by Paul Grant. He hit on something that has become my new soapbox. I meet more and more people who are trying to project an image in an effort to make being a Christian "cool". For the record, I think being a Christian is cool. But, a lot of people think it's lame, and so it's easy to feel the need to justify our coolness to them. The thing about wanting to be cool is that we all want to be accepted. However, "cool" is about being exclusive. You can't be "cool" if you don't "get it." Now, a recent trend that I've noticed is to de-value someone else's relationship with Christ, because they are just "out of touch." While it seems innocent enough, instead of recognizing that we are all on the same team with the same purpose, it seems to divide us and make us less effective. Let me give you an example. My friend Russell likes to send me links to youtube videos that parody the Mac v. PC commercials. (You can read my thoughts on the mac vs. pc issue here). One series of videos was produced by a church, and is actually really funny.

While the intended point of these videos is that some Christians really emphasize the wrong stuff, I think it can easily move to a place where those of us who are more in the "Christ-follower" world can actually be just as judgmental towards our "Christian" counterparts as we have felt over the years. Here's what I'm wrestling with...In our effort to be cool and relevant, are we willing to say to non-believers, "Oh, those Christians really don't get it, but we do, and if you hang with us, we'll show you how to really be a Christ-follower." I really think it's important to realize that God created all of us in unique ways, and even though we may have different styles of worship, we are all in the same family. My friend Amy is a Catholic and wrote a post recently about the power of both/and instead of either/or. I don't know all the answers to these things, but I do believe that God wants us to be authentic. He doesn't want us to try to be something that we're not, for someone else's benefit or just to fit in. He created us and loves us. It's His acceptance that we need to seek. And for each other, we need to be reminded of Ephesians 4:32-5:2. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." I'm interested to hear what you think about this subject. Leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Endings Beginning

As my time at Grace Family is coming closer to the end, I am starting to have conversations with people about "lasts." Saying goodbye always stinks. It means that you will be less available, farther away, moving on, and that relationships that you have grown accustomed to will transform into "checking in" instead of "living life." But one cool thing about the process of saying goodbye, is that you go out of your way to spend time with friends, and make sure that you tell them how much they mean to you, and how they have impacted your life. Last week, Anne and I had the privilege of going to dinner with two couples that have not only been partners in ministry, but true friends. As we were sitting together, we commented about why we hadn't gone out more often when we had the chance. (Although, the sheer will demonstrated by all the parties involved just to carve out the time to go out when we knew it was the only time we had, gave us our answer.) Then, last night the Blend Worship band that Anne and I lead had a "going away" get together for us. The group had incredibly kind words for Anne and me, and even presented us with the "golden blender award" for our leadership. I also took the opportunity to share with each of them how important they have been in my life, and how proud I am of them. This may sound odd, but it reminded me of about a month ago when I was watching a show on the discovery channel. A car designer named Chip Foose was designing and building a car for the Detroit auto show, to be judged for an award called the Ridler which he ended up winning. (click here to read about it.) I was really impressed with him as a leader. He had assembled a team to build his design, who were all expert craftsmen. They had dedicated this part of their lives to going above and beyond all expectations, to create a car that was truly one of a kind. When Chip was given the award, his acceptance speech was filled with accolades for the people on his team who had worked so hard, and you could tell that he really cared about them. But even more than that, they cared about him. I don't think it's normal to get emotional when watching a car show on the discovery channel, but that really affected me. I told Anne, "I want to be a leader like Chip Foose." I have always lived with the belief that leadership is more than just telling people what to do. To me, it is helping people see themselves the way God sees them, filled with potential and gifted to do something significant. Last night, I felt a little like Chip Foose. I was filled with excitement for them because I know they will continue to grow in both their spiritual walk and musicianship. I was humbled by one musician who shared that I had impacted him and his family's life "far beyond the music." Statements like that are the reason I became a pastor in the first place. Even though this process of endings beginning is agonizing, I am grateful to be having these conversations, and grateful that God has given me such rich and valuable relationships that are not ending, but still beginning.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Good Things Come in Threes

I've heard it said before that "good things come in threes." I don't know if it's a true statement or not, but if the last two days are any indication, I am more inclined than ever to believe it...

As the week began on Monday, the stress of waiting for our house to sell was starting to get to me. In fact, I wrote about how I was feeling here. We had been praying for God to take care of the details, but we were also coming up with all of our contingency plans in case our house didn't sell. I was also getting discouraged when I read articles like this one that said the housing market was slumping and probably not going to get better any time soon...BUT...that was just the beginning....

Good Thing #1- We had an upright piano that we had decided we were not going to take with us to Texas. It was not a particularly valuable piano, and we weren't sentimental about it, so we just wanted to sell it. I went online and took out an ad in our local fl
yer which gets mailed to most households in the Tampa Bay area. I thought the ad was going to come out on Wednesday, but on Tuesday morning I received a call from someone who was interested. I met them at the house at 3:00, and we agreed on a price that was good for both of us. Since he owned a remodeling business, he called his work crew and they came and picked it up within thirty minutes! I couldn't believe that we had sold our piano in less than a day, and all I had done was take out a free ad and answered one phone call. I told Anne that I thought it was a sign. God was just showing me that he was still in control, and that He was not limited by our circumstances.

Good Thing #2- I was having lunch (unfortunately my last one for a while) with my good friend Roy, when I received a call from my mom. I wrote here about how she had to have a double mastectomy two weeks ago because of a recurrence of breast cancer. She was calling to inform me that she had just met with her surgeon who told her that they were able to remove ALL of the cancer and that she was now 100% CANCER FREE!! We are so grateful that God has been with her through this whole process. Even though her recovery is painful, she knows that this episode is behind her, and she has much more LIFE to look forward to.

Good Thing #3- We were scheduled to have an open house last night. But it never happened. At about four o'clock, a couple arrived who had been sent over by Josh, our realtor. Anne let them in to browse through the house while they were waiting for Josh to arrive. They seemed like a really nice couple with one elementary aged son who was having fun on the swing set in the backyard. It turned out that they had been scheduled to close on a house last Friday, but through a series of unforeseen circumstances, the deal was called off. Well, long story short, they made an offer. Even though it wasn't as much as we had hoped, we felt good about it knowing that we would still make a significant increase over our initial investment. When all the papers had been signed, and they had left the house, our whole family did a crazy "We sold our house" dance. We even made Josh bust a move! It all happened so fast that we were asking ourselves, "did we just sell our house?!" We are so excited that we will now all be able to move to Texas together, and now we just have to concentrate on finding our next home.

Once again, God has shown his faithfulness in our lives. As Angie Macy reminded me earlier in the week, He truly is an "On Time God!"

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.'"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The 2nd best Dad in the World

This year, each of my girls made me a card for Father's Day. They were all very sweet and showed each girl's unique personality. But when I read the card that Samantha wrote, it made me smile a mile wide. She is so sincere, and so loving, that she can make me feel great even when I'm not sure if she's complimenting me or not. :) I spent some time in negotiations with her, so that I could publish it in my blog. She gave me permission, but if you see her, don't tell her you saw it, or she'll never give me persmission again. :) In case you can't read it in the pictures, I'll type it out exactly the way she wrote it.


To: Dad
From: Samantha

You might have noticed that I wrote you were the second best dad in the world, but it's because God is the best dad in the world is'nt he. I bet I could name 10 or mabey even 100. The first reason is
Your not to loving but your not to strict ether, your just in beetween but that's just how I like it. I love you Dad.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Stuck at the Drawbridge

Last night we thought we'd take a little side trip, along with Anne's brother's family, to Honeymoon Island to see the sunset. We all packed into our two minivans and headed over. It takes about forty five minutes to get to the beach from our house, so we stopped at McDonald's just before the causeway to the beach. We were kind of rushing, because the sunset was just an hour away. The kids were starting to get a little bit cranky and the smell of the french fries was tantalizing for all of us. We were eager to get over the bridge and on to the beach. Just then, we hit a traffic jam. We could see that the drawbridge was up, but usually it goes down after a minute or two. The minutes passed, and we knew that something wasn't right. Then word came down the line that the drawbridge was stuck. Even if we waited, the sun would already be down, so we had to go with plan B. We ate our burgers and saw the sunset from Wall Springs park instead of the beach. As I was thinking about it today, I realized that being stuck at the drawbridge is a pretty accurate picture of the way Anne and I have been feeling lately. As we are preparing for our move to Texas, we are excited about what is ahead on the other side. As I am transitioning some of my responsibilities at Grace Family to others, I am beginning to look ahead. But, even with all of the preparations that we are doing, one big sticking point remains. We need to sell our house! We've had a number of people look at it, and I'm confident that it will sell, but it's just like sitting at that drawbridge. Will it go down before the sunset, or will we have to go with plan B? If our house doesn't sell in time, there is a possibility that I will move to Texas first, and then Anne and the girls will follow later, hopefully when the house sells. But right now, we're just waiting....

Dad's Day

I'm a day late, but I can't let Father's day go by without giving kudos to my dad, Don Lunsford. I have been blessed to be raised in a Christian home, by a father who has always been a good example to me of how to show love in every situation. I am constantly drawing from his example in my roles as husband, father, and pastor. He has been a great role model, and I'm proud to call him my dad.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Paris Hilton

Earlier in the week I saw this article about Paris Hilton, which said that she now believes that God has given her a new chance and she plans to stop acting dumb and put her influence to good use. Now, the cynical side of me wants to say that this "revelation" is just another in a series of "acting dumb, but really smart" moves that have landed her the celebrity status that she now enjoys. However, for our purposes here I am going to believe that she has indeed had a spiritual experience, and is giving up her "act" and is now going to concentrate on making a difference in the world. Here's why I think this is significant to us. We have become so numb to all of the marketing hype, the hollow celebrity lifestyles, and the barrage of disingenuous people held up as role models, that it has become difficult to believe anyone is really who they say they are. In fact, when we see popular people making stupid decisions, it can actually make us feel better about ourselves. But, Jesus warned the religious leaders of his day, who thought they were better than others by saying, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?" (Luke 11:39-40) Jesus was rebuking them because they, in their "righteousness", were really just putting on a show. Jesus saw through to the condition of the heart, which was the most important matter. Which brings me back to Paris Hilton. Since I don't know her, I have no way to validate how "real" her experience has been. Also, since I have seen her "act" through the years, it makes me skeptical as to her true intentions. However, I must not give in to the lie that says this kind of change is impossible. In fact, just the opposite. I know many people who have had life altering, heart changing encounters when they have truly dedicated their life to Christ. In fact, that is THE POINT of the gospel. Jesus came "to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 9:10. The older I get and the more I know about people, the more I realize that this kind of transformational life change is a miracle. But it IS possible, and in fact, it's what God has made available to us thorough Jesus. In Mark 10:26, 27 it says the disciples asked Jesus, "'Who then can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'" God, thanks for reminding me to see people as You see them, as people filled with potential and possibility.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


We celebrated Father's day a week early with my father-in-law today. Each year, the dads try to go to a "guy's" movie. Today, the best we could do was the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. It was awful! Even after sitting through the whole thing (I did take a little nap in the middle), I have no idea what that movie was about, or why anyone would want to see it. I should have known I'd be lost. I didn't see the second one, so I really wasn't familiar with the characters. Come to think of it, I didn't even like the first one. We should have waited a few weeks. They showed a preview of "Live Free or Die Hard" that looks like a "guys" movie worth seeing.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Interesting Stuff I've Read

I know that a lot of you receive updates by email, so I wanted to make everyone aware of a feature that I added to the site a few weeks ago. If you scroll down my blog page, you will see a box on the right called, "interesting stuff i've read". I read a lot of different blogs, and the best posts that I come across are listed there. For instance, Tony Morgan had a post about his all time favorite books on leadership. His list is basically identical to mine, so I included his post there for you to click and check out. I update the list at least once a week, so make sure that you take a peek every now and then.


As a loyal Tampa Bay Rays fan, I understand what it means to be patient. But, sometimes they can be downright hard to love. This week they have blown leads of 8-1 and 8-2! Against the Blue Jays, all they had to do was close out the ninth inning, but they went through four pitchers and ended up walking in the losing run! Last night against the Marlins, they were up 8-2 when the pitcher gave up a grand slam. They ended up losing 14-8 after the bullpen took over. This is very frustrating as a fan, but I think it can teach us something as leaders. The truth still remains, you're only as good as your weakest team member. That is true in sports, business, and ministry. I have learned to take my time when adding someone to the team. Whenever there are open positions to fill, it's tempting to try to hire someone quickly. But I have found that it's better to hire the RIGHT person, than just to get someone in there. Tim Stevens has a good post on good questions to ask in interviews here.


Thanks to everyone who has been praying for my mom. She came home from the hospital today and is continuing the healing process. I just talked to my sister, and she said that they are sitting on the couch watching a movie together. The doctor says that she is doing great and everything is going well.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Music stuff: downloads du jour

It seems like the posts have been so serious lately. It's time for something a little lighter...

Here's the list of albums I downloaded into the Yahoo Music Jukebox this week...

Wanda Vick- Bluegrass girl
Believe it or not, I enjoy some good bluegrass every now and then. This album has a number of remakes of other popular songs like "Bless the Broken Road" and "I still haven't found what I'm looking for". So, if you're a fan of Bluegrass, check it out. (Uh, Dad, I guess that means just you and me.)

Amel Larrieux- Lovely Standards
I had never heard of her, but she has a great voice. This is good winding down music.

Cubano Jazz -
I have always been a fan of latin jazz, and this is a great collection of big band oriented cuban music. If you like this, you will also enjoy listening to Irakere.

Chick Corea and Bela Fleck- Enchantment
What if you paired up a legendary jazz pianist and a banjo player? Here's your answer.

Maroon 5- Nissan Live Sets
A good pop/rock band that actually has talent.

*A side note about music selections...Please understand that I enjoy music and discovering new artists. There are a lot of artists that I listen to that I wouldn't recommend to my kids. But, I find that truth is all around us, and I enjoy hearing what artists are saying, and it helps me to understand what is currently happening in popular culture. That being said, these next selections are great for everyone...

Jeff Deyo- Unveil
Whenever I see that Jeff Deyo has a new release, I get nostalgic. I haven't spoken to Jeff in a number of years, but I remember when he was just getting started in music, and I'm glad that he's been so successful. You might also want to check out my friend Aaron's podcast interview with him here.

Nate Sallie- Ruined for Ordinary
We heard him at the Winter Jam concert earlier this year, and have also been hearing his music on "The Message" on XM radio.

Britt Nicole- Say It
I downloaded this one mostly for the girls. It's nice for them to hear positive music from a good role model. We saw her at the Winter Jam concert also. The girls got to meet her and she was very nice and signed their t-shirts. (I also feel like I have an investment in her career, since I paid "concert price" for those three shirts.) :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mom Update

I spent most of the day in the hospital waiting room while my mom was in surgery. When I arrived in the morning, she was already prepped and ready and didn't seem nervous at all. My sister Angela flew down from North Carolina, and so she, my dad and I gathered around her to pray before she went in. At 12:30 we learned that surgery had begun. At 2:30, the first surgeon gave us a report that the mastectomy was done and that she was doing fine. He then said that the plastic surgeon had begun the reconstructive surgery. At 6:30, the plastic surgeon came out and told us that his part was done, and that it had gone smoothly as well. We were glad to hear it and thanked God that she was out of surgery. When I got a chance to see her in the recovery room, she was still pretty groggy, but she kept saying, "I'm glad it's over." As I'm writing this, Anne and Angela are with her in her room. Thanks to everyone who prayed. Please continue to ask God to be with her as she begins the healing process.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I have been blessed to have the best mom in the world. She has always been my biggest cheerleader, my best coach, and a great role model. On Wednesday, my mom is going in for surgery. This is her third bout with breast cancer, and the doctors have recommended a double mastectomy. Please agree with us in prayer that God will guide the doctor's hands, that her recovery will be swift, and that she will be completely healed of cancer. I mentioned in this post that the last time she was diagnosed, she placed a sticky note on the refrigerator that read, "Devil get ready for a fight!" I'm happy to report that she's still fighting, and most importantly, has faith that God is going to be with her through this. As the possibility began to unfold that the cancer had returned, I could tell that she was discouraged. She really didn't even want to go to the doctor and have to face the possibility that she was going to have to fight again. But I told her that I thought that the fact the doctor was being so attentive was a positive sign. I told her that the doctor believed that she had a lot more life to live, and wanted to make sure that she was able to live it. She told me that those words encouraged her, and I could tell because after that she went on the offensive, tracking down results, getting appointments with doctors when none were available, and staying positive through it all. I know that God has blessed her, and that He will be taking care of her in all of these situations.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mexico Recap

The team arrived home on Saturday night and we were all glad to be back safely. But I think that all of us will take a little piece of Mexico with us in our hearts for the rest of our lives. For me it was the opportunity to meet Yanitza (pictured here). Soon she will be moving in to the small house that we all had a hand in constructing. As she walked through the property she was smiling in anticipation of the day she will be able to move in. Steve, who led our trip, told us that she is currently living in a space even smaller than the one we are building, and there are nine children in the home. Soon, she will bring her three children to stay in this newly created home. Steve said that he asked her where she wanted beds positioned and other questions about the house, and she replied that it didn't matter because it was going to be such a blessing to have more space than she does now. The humbling thing is that she is so grateful for what she will be receiving. It makes me realize how ungrateful I am at times for how God has blessed me. For our team, it made us realize how much impact we can have when we choose to serve. Even though we were only in Mexico for a few short days, the work that we did will make a difference to Yanitza and her family for years to come. (If you would like to see more pictures of our trip, click here.)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Update from Mexico

Our trip is going extremely well. The team is working hard, and everyone is excited to be making a difference in the lives of these people. I plan to write more later, but I thought I'd share some pictures so you can see what we have been doing these last couple of days.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


This will probably be my last post for the next few days because I am leaving in the morning with a team from Grace Family for a missions trip to Juarez, Mexico! We are going to be working with missionaries there, helping them build a facility for the elderly. Please pray that God will use us to share His love and hope with everyone that we meet, and pray for safety for the team.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

We spent this weekend heavily focused on family time and hanging out with friends. On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at Anne's parents house. Lately, we've become fans of a card game called Hand and Foot. It's rare to go through a Sunday afternoon without somebody getting a game going. A couple of weeks ago, Morgan and Sydney asked if they could learn how to play. We didn't really think that they would be able to understand all of the rules, but we showed them anyway and they had been playing by themselves because we didn't think they could play with the adults. Well, yesterday it was decided that the "adults" would play one game while the "kids" played a game with me. I am not proud to say that they both beat me! In fact, it wasn't even close. But, it made me feel better when they did the same to the other adults later in the evening.

Today, we had our Memorial Day picnic at my aunt Cheryl's house in Palm Harbor. The kid's always have fun with Lauren, and having uncle Bob throw them in the pool. At sunset we went to Wall Springs Park for a nice walk and a beautiful view. At the end of a pier that looked out over the water I told the girls to take a mental picture, because the scenery's going to be a lot different in Texas. Oh yeah, we're also still trying to sell the house, and had become a bit lax in keeping everything spotless for a showing. So, this morning as we were getting ready to leave for the picnic, we received a call from our realtor letting us know that someone wanted to see the house! Arrgh! Of course we wanted them to see it, so we all ran around and cleaned up and the house looked great when we left. Of course, it sure was nice coming home to a clean house after the picnic! :)