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Married to my amazing wife Sonya, father of three beautiful girls, senior minister of LifeWay Community Church and most importantly friend of God.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Paradise lost?

“So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” -1 Corinthians 15:45 NIV

When Adam was first created he had it made. A perfect relationship with God, a perfect relationship with creation, a true partner in life and a purpose in life. He and his wife were entrusted with dominion over every other living thing. But first things first - Adam was created on the 6th day meaning that his first full day of his existence was a day of rest. Adam was complete God and therefore could rightly relate to everything and everyone else in life. His worth was in his being rather than his doing.

Fast forward to the fall. Adam had it all and then chose to give it away. His single act of disobedience set into motion a chain reaction that radically affects the world we live in today. This was the result –

“To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:17-19 NIV

Ever since that fateful day man has been trying to work his way out of his brokenness and back into his picture of paradise. The problem is that in the end it all leads to death. Unfortunately many Christians today have yet to find that place of rest, that place of peace, that place of being because they are so busy doing. See it’s in our first Adam nature to strive and to struggle by the sweat of our brow trying to earn our way back into His grace. But the Last Adam has opened the door for us forward into relationship, forward into significance, forward into rest.

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” – Hebrews 4:1 NIV

Do not confuse rest with inactivity. Adam had great responsibility before the fall. In reality he had GREATER responsibility but that was not the essence of who he was. He was defined by the fact that he was created in the image of God. Out of that security he was free to be who God had created him to be. When we learn to ‘be’ then we will be empowered to ‘do’ - wonderful things, impossible things, eternal things.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dr. King & The Divided States of America

Today, as we remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., my heart is heavy for our nation. The United States of America has become the Divided States of America and I have never seen us so fractured. We are split along racial lines, generational lines, political lines and gender lines just to name a few. And the church is not immune. We fight over anything and everything from the color of the carpet to which translation of the Bible Jesus used. All the while the enemy sits back and laughs as he watches his plan unfold.

Jesus said it like this -

“Knowing their thoughts, He told them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and a house divided against itself falls.”” – Luke 11:17 HCSB

Our nation needs healing and I believe the Church has the message of hope the world so desperately needs. But we must do more than just preach a message of unity, we must live it. We must move beyond tolerance into love, treating others with the same grace and compassion that Jesus has shown us.

Here are just a few timeless quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -

"The time is always right to do what is right.”
See what’s right has nothing to do with what’s popular.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Too many people are quick to point out a problem and too few are willing to be a solution.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We must be the peacemakers in this moment of crisis, dousing the flames instead of fueling the fire.

Fifty years ago Dr. King gave his life for a dream that I still long for and believe in today. Some 2000 years ago Jesus gave His life to break down the walls that divide us.

“Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:1-6 HCSB

Dr. King led in his generation, it’s time for us to lead in ours.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Here comes the BOOM!

I was spending some time with the Lord the other day and I heard the Holy Spirit speak 2 specific things to my heart –
  1. You are tougher than you think. 
  2. God is bigger than you can ever imagine.

 The word God spoke to my heart wasn’t just for me. In God’s providence I trust that if you are reading this then it’s a word of hope and encouragement for you as well.

Let me expound. Some of us don’t feel very tough. As a matter of fact some of us feel like we are barely holding on by a thread. But here is the deal – we are still holding on. We are still alive and the devil has yet to defeat us. Despite his very best efforts here we are. We may have a taken a few licks but we are still in this fight. If there is still breath in your lungs then there is still fight in your bones!

And when we feel like we are on the ropes, when it seems like the enemy as the upper hand, when it seems like life is spinning out of control remember that the God who holds the universe in His hand is in control. Absolutely. Of everything. We may not see it with our eyes but we have to see it with our spirit.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

It’s time to get back in the fight. It’s time to get prayed up, praised up and fight for what’s ours! The devil is a liar and he’s already been defeated. Jesus is victory and his Spirit lives inside of those who believe. His blood is coursing through our veins and His plans for us will come to pass!

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” – Proverbs 24:15-16 MSG

So let me say it one more time – You are tougher than you think and God is bigger than you can ever imagine!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Out of Gas

If you have ever run out of gas then you know the feeling. And it’s not a great one. I’ve run out of gas twice in my life. The first time I had just bought a ‘new’ 1967 Camaro project car. My wife and I headed out for a short drive with what I thought was a quarter tank of gas. I thought wrong, or at least the gauge lied. The best part of the story is that my wife was pregnant with our first child. So I had to leave her with the car, jog back to our other car, drive home to get a gas can, drive to the gas station and then back to the car. It wasn’t one of my best moments!

The next time was legit though. My wife and I were headed home from a conference that was on an island just off the coast of South Carolina. We had enough in the tank to get a ways down the road where fuel would be significantly less expensive. We set the cruise control and headed inland. When we drive we talk; about everything and nothing and this trip was no different. We got involved in some deep conversation and the next thing I knew the cruise control kicked off, the car sputtered once and then we coasted to the side of the road. At least she wasn’t pregnant this time! Fortunately we made it to the shade of an underpass but there was no running to the nearest gas station. I climbed the embankment to see what was around and the only thing I found was some barbed wire hidden under some vines. So back to the car I retreated with a hole in my pants and a matching one in my thigh. We called roadside assistance and waited an hour or so before we were back on our way.

So here is the lesson. The lower the level in your tank the greater the chance you will run out. Obvious right? I know people who seem to perpetually drive around with the gas light on. I also know people who start looking for the nearest station as soon as they get below a half of a tank. Running out of gas is more than a minor inconvenience. It costs time, energy, money (yours and sometimes others) and has the potential to cause greater damage. When you run a tank down to the last drop you often suck up trash that can clog filters, lines, injectors, etc. And that costs LOTS more time, energy and money.

You might be getting the idea that what I’m getting to isn’t just about cars. See we have all kinds of tanks in our lives. Health tanks, love tanks, relational tanks, emotional tanks, financial tanks, spiritual tanks and that’s just scratching the surface. And when one of those tanks runs out bad things happen. And often they don’t just affect us.

Just like cars we have to fill those tanks up on a regular basis to keep running. And we have to fill them up with the right fuel! So let’s take a minute today and look at the levels in our tanks. Some may be full which is great, some may be running a little low so let’s make sure to get those filled up and some may be completely dry (which is called a crisis). Not all crises are avoidable, but some are. And when our tanks are full we are definitely better able to handle them when they do come our way.

One last quick thought – Did you know that you can fill other people’s tanks? That’s right! Some of what God has given you doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to Him and He has entrusted you with the responsibility and privilege of passing it along to someone else. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

0 Dark Thirty

It’s 5:45 AM. It’s dark. And I’m awake and writing this.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against sleep. I know that the Bible says -

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” – Proverbs 6:10-11 NIV

But it also says -

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” – Psalms 127:2 NIV

If there is one thing I know it’s that God loves me. They say, ‘The early bird gets the worm’, but I haven’t ever eaten a worm and I really don’t plan to. After all we’re not on Survivor! I’m not typically what you would call a ‘morning person’. Actually I would be more or what you would consider as a ‘night owl’. So why am I up so early this morning? Well to be honest I’m just too excited to sleep. I’m running another Spartan Race today and I’m fired up! 13+ miles of mud and barbed wire and obstacles are calling my name. You know when I was a kid there were certain days I would wake up way before I needed to – Christmas morning, trips to Disneyland, the day of our annual family camping trip; I was just too wound up to sleep.

I’ve realized that there is another day when I find myself awake long before my alarm goes off – Sundays. I am just so excited to be in God’s presence, to hang out with God’s people and to see what He has in store for us. He is the Creator of the universe after all! Now I know that God is there on Monday and Tuesday and every other day of the week but when we gather together as the church it’s just different. It’s full of potential and promise and power. And if I’m preaching that day I’m not even sure how I ever fall asleep!

Jesus said the greatest commandment is –

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” – Mark 12:30 NIV

There is so much there in that statement. Our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength – our desires, our emotions, our thoughts and our actions. To me the key word in that verse is ‘ALL’. God deserves nothing less than our everything. We should be so passionate about Him that it changes our whole world. I know it has changed mine. See passion is all consuming, it can’t be parked off in some little corner only to be dusted off every once in a while. Life has a way of redefining our priorities without us even realizing it. Maybe you’re realizing that your passion level is a little lower than you would like it to be. The good news is it’s not hard to fix. See passion is a product of priority. Make it a priority to spend more time with God, more time with His people and I promise that your passion problem will fix itself. I can’t promise that you won’t lose a little sleep! God bless.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


I was recently reading through the book of Esther and came across this passage –

“… like the days when the Jews had rest from their enemies, and like the month when things turned around for them—changing from sorrow to joy and from mourning into a favorable day—so that they could celebrate a season of feasting and rejoicing and sending food portions to one another and gifts to the poor.” – Esther 9:22 MEV

It’s an incredible story. If you’ve never read it you need to. God’s people were just days from being wiped off the face of the earth. They were already in captivity as if that wasn’t bad enough. But God in His infinite wisdom had orchestrating everything to absolute perfection. What looked like a setback was really a set up for God to reveal Himself to His people and to everyone else for that matter. God used the very thing the enemy had built to destroy the Jewish people to deliver them. In a day the enemy’s own weapon was used against him.

“The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.” – Deuteronomy 28:7 NIV

God is the master of suddenly. Sometimes we look at our situation and we lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. We feel like God has taken us TO the valley of the shadow of death and not THROUGH it. We sing songs that say ‘He will never forsake us’ but do we really believe it? Really? If I’m really being honest there are some times when I feel like victory is a million miles or years or dollars away. And it may be but what is a million anything to the God we worship?

I just want to encourage you that you are just as much a son or daughter of God as Mordecai and Esther were. He loves you just as much. Their seemingly hopeless situation was God’s perfect plan to deliver His people. What if God has you in a hard place to make a huge difference? What if God wants to use your life to reveal Himself? What if everything you are worried about today never comes to pass? What if this is the day or the month where things turned around for you? What if your ‘suddenly’ is just around the corner?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The plastic church isn’t ever going to reach the real world.

First let me say that I’m not fussing – I’m amused. Back in college I had a roommate that smoked like a freight train. Never in the room but everything he owned smelled like he had just chain smoked a pack of generic cigarettes. Because he probably had. Hey that’s his choice but I specifically requested a non-smoking room. Both of my parents smoked when I was a kid and I had pretty bad allergies, regular asthma attacks, recurring bronchitis, sinus infections, etc. They all cleared up when I moved out so I obviously had a sensitivity to smoke, hence my request. He was a nice guy but at the end of the semester I requested a different room. When he was notified he came to me to talk about it. I gave him my reasons and left it at that. His answer was that he didn’t want his parents to know that he smoked. So when they were filling out the admissions information he lied. Here’s my point. Dude you are a grown man, you need to act like one.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Has it really been that long?! As a pastor in a college town one of life’s little joys is when a college student brings their parents to church. Or should I say when parents take their college student to church. It’s the same scenario every time. The parents come up and introduce themselves and Johnny’s or Jane’s parents with their son or daughter in tow. I can always see it on their face. ‘PLEASE PASTOR DON’T SELL ME OUT! I’M BEGGING YOU.’  I usually pause just long enough to make it a bit awkward and then say something like, ‘It’s great to have you with us today!’ You can see the relief on the kid’s face as they finally take a breath. Although I’ve never seen their son or daughter in my life I know the deal. They’ve told mom and dad that they’ve been attending church since they moved off to college. But they haven’t. And they’re too afraid to tell the truth.

It’s been the same since the beginning.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” – Genesis 3:8-10 NIV

People are afraid of being exposed so they hide. Adam and Eve hid in the bushes. They tried their best to cover up their embarrassment with leaves. And we do the same thing with our lies. Let’s be honest. No really. Let’s be honest. Let’s own our decisions. If we’re not proud of our choices let’s repent and make different ones. Let’s be real about our struggles so we can get the help we need to overcome (James 5:16). Because these little games we play aren’t fooling anyone (except maybe parents of college students although I doubt it). Let’s embrace each other, as real people with real problem and tackle them together. The plastic church isn’t ever going to reach the real world.