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.)