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.