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.