Monday, December 14, 2009

A dream i had a few weeks ago...

Like everyone, i get busy now and again. This is a gift the Lord gave me in the form of a dream a few weeks ago, and i have just recently found time to post it. To Jesus be the glory.

Had an interesting dream the other night. I was in a large condo somewhere on a retreat. Jess and the boys were with me, as were other youth leaders and family.

It was obvious that I was leading the retreat, and that we were winding down from the days events. As I began to navigate my way through the house we were all in. I headed down stairs to find 2 large rooms, one with guys in bunks, hanging out, getting cleaned up, the other with girls doing the same.

The students were all busy doing their thing, and all seemed to fall in the Sr and Jr high range. As I made my way back upstairs to the main level. I walked over towards the picture windows facing outside to take a look, and behind me sat a typewriter on a flat table. Out of no-where the type writer threw itself on the floor and basically exploded. I ran over, took a look and immediately decided this was warfare.

I communicated this to my wife and the other leaders around me, they agreed and immediately we began to pray fervently, for our students, for our team. As I took perspective on our time of prayer, it hit me this was as aggressive as I can remember myself ever leading such a time of prayer, it was intense. We were coming against principalities, we were calling on the angels of heaven to come and fight. It was a pretty serious and victorious ordeal.

At some point I recognized that I had yet to check upstairs on my boys who were already asleep. As I made my way towards the stair case, the hall was very dark. And then I began to see flashes of light. Flickers, might even be a better explanation. At first I thought it was another round of attacks. And then I had this sudden peace about me, that this was not attack, but angelic. The Lord had heard our cries (obviously) and had responded (again obviously), and some sort of logic reminded me of a book I read by CS Lewis, and a quote that he had experienced the same sort of wonder. So I worshiped the Lord, thanked him for the spiritual forces, and headed upstairs to check on the boys. All was well with them, so made my way back downstairs.

It is at this point that I woke up from my dreaming. I checked the clock, it was 4am, on the nose. I remembered all I had just been dreaming about, and immediately went into prayer mode again. Very victorious, and very aggressive. Praying for our home, our family, Katy Hollis, the kids that were in the rooms hanging out at the retreat. It was a wild time of prayer. Somewhere about ½ hour into it, I found the peace again to rest. So I went back to sleep. I have shared this time with Jess and the only aspect that seems out of place, is me referencing CS Lewis concerning the flickering of lights that were around me. I cannot remember any quote by him about such a wonder, it reminds me more of Peretti to be honest.

I thank the Lord that he is always at work, restoring his kingdom, and that he allows me glimpses of wonders in my life to see what he is up to and to be a part on this side of Heaven.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Just finished the book Tribes by Seth Godin. What a great description of leadership and ability to tell it's story.

For many this book will frustrate you. In a world full of formulas and 5 steps to huge success (I jest of course) this is a book of identity an encouragement.

Seems that Seth is able to put his finger on the reality that God has a purpose for each of us. For him this is best described as leadership, and the innate need in each of us to lead in some way.

Majority of the book helps each of us identify with leaders and their choice to lead. Long before resources, a following, or a killer product there is that choice we must make to lead.

In fact it is the simple humaness of choice that leads us to lead. Reality is I will never have enough money to raise my children, enough time to write effectively enough, or enough spirituality to pray for everything that matters to me or my Lord. Instead I make a choice daily to move towards what i see in my minds eye as my future and not be inactive due to what I do not yet have or fear I never will.

As the book ends a few quotes moved me that I decided I would share, and the sure enough Seth asks that anyone who finishes the book will do him a favor and pass it on, so here goes;

I think most people have it upside down. Being charismatic doesn't make u a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic. It's a choice not a gift.

The secret, Reagan's secret, is to listen, to value what you hear, and then make a decision even if it contradicts the very people you are listening to. Listen, really listen. Then decide and move on.

Without people pushing against your quest to do something worth talking about, it's unlikely to be worth the journey. Persist.

Real leaders don't care about credit, they do all they can to give it away. Credit isn't the point change is!

I can tell you this; leaders have nothing in common. Except this they make a choice to lead.

Hope you enjoy the book, I look forward to your thoughts. And if you enjoy Seth and his ability to tell the story you should check out Tim Sanders too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How could America change the world?

How could America change the world?

Let me start by being clear about my love for all the amazing testimonies of grace that flow out of the western world and especially out of the US. From feeding the poor, to serving orphans, to protecting the widow, I am amazed at all we are up to in the name of Jesus. So this note is not about what is not being done, but instead what IS/CAN be done.

This week my brother in-law shared with me part of his story on how his family is affecting the lives of 4 adults And 3 kids on the other side of the globe. His story is so profound and so life shifting, that it has messed up my perspective and must be told to any and all that will listen.

Last year through a series of very random events online, my brother in law met a family from the Philippines. At first like anyone should be with online these days, he was skeptical at best to their need and their real reason for reaching out to him. However, something kept drawing him to reach out to them in very small ways. So eventually he began to ask the Lord, is this something He is up to?

This family lives in a cinderblock shack near Manila so their needs are fairly endless. In this need they have a real hunger for the gospel, so my brother and his family have been sharing the gospel and dealing with the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs they have, little by little.

From bibles, to a fridge, to college transportation, over time my brother in-laws family has found that a very insignificant amount of American $ can go a long way in the Philippines. In fact he has figured out that $100 a month wired to this family guarantees they all get meals for that month. By providing for food the family, they can use their income to upgrade their home and their lives, little by little.

The oldest daughter is fighting her way through college, so my brother in-law raises $ to make sure that she has the supplies, food, and transportation she needs each month, by the way this totals $150 a month. Literally in one generation this family’s life style will change by simply having a college graduate in their home.

Every once in a while a big need will come up, like surgery or a hospital visit, which must be prepaid. So my brother in law tells the story and his work buddies jump in to help. Just recently this team at his job raised just over $400 to pay for this surgery, that’s right $400 American for surgery and recovery in the hospital in the Philippines.

What both impresses and amazes me about this influence on this family is that my brother in-law is not rich by American standards. He is a hard working, very ok with being regular, blue collar worker that works with specialty woods shop all day long. He has a home, a family, and a church family he cares for, and does so quite well.

Yet he gets it. Americans are so blessed no matter their financial status, we live in abundance. So what if 1% of the American families adopted a family in another part of the world? Approximately 1 million families globally would be moving towards a change. The natural turn would be the gospel exploding in greater ways all over the world?

How can America change the world? 1 family at a time, 1 need at a time, 1 gospel story at a time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

How Small The World Is Really...

In the summer of 2007 I had the privilege of taking a trip to Kampala, Uganda with a group of students and leaders from our youth ministry. On this trip we experienced and felt many things that we could not have in the US. With 21 million people in its city, Kampala faces a 95% poverty rate we often faced images and human suffering beyond description.

We also faced what the term “joy” truly meant. For a US citizen the term joy is almost always associated with fun, pleasure, immediate gratification. However, as we partnered with the local church (Gaba Community) and one of the local orphanages (Bethany Children A.R.M.) we were reminded of a more biblical “joy”. The ability to find peace in who we were, not what we owned, or what we could do for someone. Day after day we ran into people young and old whose confidence was in their creator and who He had them to be in Christ. In the midst of whatever circumstance they faced, they knew one thing for sure; their hope and their joy remained, because it was in Him who is unchanging.

One of these experiences happened one day when we stopped by the daycare program for Gaba Community’s local families. We actually happened upon these little ones on our way to another program for their high school students, and knew we would have to stop back by to see them. As we approached this gated area with the 3 small classrooms, little ones began to be filled with wonder as all of these “white” men and women approached. Their teachers reassured them, and very quickly we were accepted as part of their group. As we played with these 1-4 yr olds, we learned of their stories, many of which were heart breaking, and the knowledge that their only true love came from their care givers each day, as their parents often were HIV victims or street people, that allowed the church to care for their little ones. About an hour later, it was time for these precious little ones to move on to their next part of the day, which meant out of respect for their teachers we needed to say goodbye. To our surprise, it turned out leaving these little ones became a much tougher task for our soul, then when we left the orphanage days later. Uganda does a lot of incredible work in the orphanages, but that topic is for another time. We were leaving children which beyond their care at Gaba, we were not sure what they would face.

A few days later, we were on a plane back to America. As we reentered the worlds we lived in, each of us fondly remembered out little friends at the Gaba Daycare center. About 6 weeks after our trip, a friend of mine and his father took a trip to Uganda and visited Kampala. When they returned, my friend Joey began to show me the photo book he had created from his trip, I enjoyed seeing similar faces to the ones I had met not long before. My joy turned to tears about half way through the book, which caught both Joey and his dad by surprise. There in front of me were a couple pictures of the little ones at Gaba Daycare. I knew their faces, as sure as I knew my own. As I regained my composure, I began to bombard both of them with questions. “where did you get these pictures?”, “how did you meet these kids?” , “did you get to spend time with the folks at Gaba Community?”.

I was reminded once again that the world is a much smaller place than I perceive it to be. There are 21 million people in Kampala, and many groups of believers my friends could have met to encourage. And of all of them, they met with Pastor Peter, from Gaba Community, and my little friends from the Daycare.

That story is one of many in my life that reminds me how small the world is really. Each person I make contact with, each group of humans that I end up on public transportation with deserve every bit of Jesus that I can live out. For we never know as believers, what God has planned for tomorrow, through what we have lived out today. It could be that the people that we have ignored on a plane, bus, or in line at the grocery, maybe a connection that the Father had intended for His purpose. In God’s Kingdom and in His viewpoint, the east shores of China, are not nearly as far from the Starbucks I am sitting in as I have made them out to be.

Before your day ends, may the Lord show you how small the world is really, Selah…

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Last Night at Barefoot...

Over the week i have seen so many amazing things. Barefoot's agenda is simple, take students from every racial, economic, and environmental background, and put them together seeking Jesus together. Their goal; watch as Jesus breaks down every wall, and produces a family, on one fact; each of these young people are part of the family of God. This has happened over and over again at camp.

Friday night, we ended the evening with a practice called "carry your cross." Together these diverse teams would carry a large wooden cross from one side of the camp to the other, and then raising it up, nail all their hurts, their sins, their issues, to the cross, so that Jesus could carry their burdens for one and for all. It was a very deep significant finale to a cool week of God stuff. As each team finished, much prayer broke out. Not the typical pass the hat, now its your turn to pray stuff, i mean, deep groans that only the Holy Spirit could interpret and could do something with.

While the students and leaders were praying together, the Lord began to show me a picture of the battle that was at hand. At first it startled me, cause what i saw was men coming from the edge of the woods towards the students huddled together, these men carried large swords and other weapons. They were taking aim at the students, attempting to slice and dice them, yet to this point none of the students had been harmed. It took me a minute to realize that i was viewing; a spiritual battle happening all around us. So i began to call on the ministering spirits to show themselves. Slowing i began to see the angels not only protecting these students but also attacking the enemies. I was over whelmed by awe, so i prayed, Lord send more, send your protectors not only to this place, but to the hoods and neighborhoods these students are from. Send them in large battle ready forces. Send them now Jesus!

As this time of prayer ended, the group came together as one large group and the 90 or so of us began to worship together. Then we took the next step in the battle. One by one, students began to come up and share what they had seen God do in the life of another co-camper this week. Or talk about what another camper or leader meant to their life. This edification lasted a long time. What was interesting, is that there was very little fluff. These students in a weeks time had also found maturity. They were helping each other see themselves the way God sees them, and lose much of the false identity they had created on their own. As this time ended, we all knew who received the glory that night, Jesus. We also knew, who had been reminded he is defeated, the enemy.

Speaking of God's glory, here is a small list of the things He did in the lives of our campers that He should be magnified for: At least 4 students accepted Christ's gift of salvation for the first time. Many of the students broke out of their box, and left the need to be cool, in order to take on their acceptance as part of the family of God. On Friday, God touched the lower back of one of our campers who was injured and healed it, when they got to the hospital, no injury. Numbers of students were healed of addictions (Sexual, smoking, lying, cheating, self deprecation) and found freedom in Jesus, so that their lives may be free. Each day, reconciliation happened, as walls were trampled and divisions were no more, only family was left, it was awesome.

As Saturday came, I think we all knew that our lives would never be the same. Like in Joshua 3, many, many stones had been laid in the river, and the Hope had been ignited. So that in the years to come we would tell the story of what God did summer of 09 at the first Sr High Barefoot Republic Senior Camp ever on that campus. I hope many of you will find the Barefoot experience to be part of your journey in the years to come. PEACE.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 1, Post 1 - Barefoot Republic

Well, this will be a short one. Last night we finished our training as a staff at Barefoot Republic. What a diverse group of individuals from backgrounds, to race, to beliefs. And yet nothing was lost in our love for Jesus and focus on Him first.

As we prepped last night, God began to remind me of what His family looked like, here on earth. In the scriptures it says that his mother and brother came to see him, seeing a teachable moment, Jesus replied, "who is my mother and my brother"..... i assume silence as the question threw the crowd "those who do my Father's will, that is my mother, brother and sister". Such statements draw our team together. We have been around eachother less than 24 hours and already, we have found common ground to receive eachother as family. Only Jesus could do that.

Together, serving Sr Highers with just as diverse backgrounds, what a week that awaits us. All the glory to you Jesus.

Thanks to each of you for your words of encouragement and your prayers.

Peace - Steve

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Today during worship..

This morning, our family partook in worship at Fellowship Bible as we do most Sundays. As we entered the second song, I began to have a vision. As a church we were singing the chorus "Worthy is the Lamb", and there before me appeared a map of the U.S. As I focused in on the map I remember paying more attention to the eastern half of the U.S. The Lamb appeared somewhere around the Nashville area and began to walk up I-40 and I-81 towards the Northeast U.S. As he walked he became The Lion and stopped somewhere around the Philly/Baltimore area. His destination was not the main focus, so i cannot be sure of location. What was significant was when he stopped, he sat up in a very victorious stance and roared 3 times. The growls were a battle call and the army of the Lord was being called there. He stood triumphantly as the battle was already won. Just as quickly as this all happened the image faded away, and i began to write.

As i wrote down the vision, i remember considering a number of things. But one item real struck me, The battle is already won, the army is being called. It is now time to decide will you go and be a part or not. With that said, i am careful not to place the term "interpretation" on that thought, i will blame that on me processing the obvious that is happing in our lives. As you read if the Lord gives you something i would appreciate your thoughts as well. PEACE

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Yesterday, Justus and I returned from camp with Grassland Heights Baptist Church (and guests Christ Church Columbia). What a great week we had! I had the honor of speaking and pastoring the camp, while my buddy Jerry Davis, the Youth Pastor at Grassland, served as the camp director. The team of adults at this camp were amazing, and really poured their lives out on the lives of the students attending.

Our theme for the week was TAPROOT. Our desire to dig deep
into the things of Jesus, dealing with the things behind, so that in time we could create momentum in our lives to Tap our roots deep in the Rock of Jesus, living in today and moving to the future for His glory. Yeah that's a mouth full, but it happened.
Each day we focused on what it meant to be the family of God, and the reality that we "need" the people of God around us, and in our lives. In this world of acceptance we found our identity in Christ, and that the blood of the Lamb and our Testimony are enough to change the world around us.

Like any camp i have been involved in, the students were divided into teams consistent with the theme of the camp. So that during each part of camp there was a smaller family there to be with them through the process. Each day we worked through many opportunities of "lecture and lab", in doing so we not only talked about what it looks like to live in Jesus, we practiced it together.

As i stated earlier, Justus joined me with for the camp. He did a great job being a part of the
family. The students and adult leaders were so gracious to him as he
joined us for each part of camp. Justus got to spend allot of time with my brothers, Carlos and Lamar. Each day as i would
head to be with Jesus, and make sure i was prepped for the evening services, Justus would hang out with them. They were a huge blessing to me, as they loved on him.

Camp was held on the Barefoot Republic campus in Scottsville, KY. It is their first year to have summer camps on their grounds. And we happened to fall in an off week, where their camps, were on break. The campus has so many great amenities that created awesome moments for our camp. Here are a few; Barren Lake, The Treehouses, Disc Golf Course, and the Amphitheater. Speaking of the Amphitheater, on Tuesday and Thursday nights we held our evening worship services there. WOW, really, WOW. What a cool thing to watch the sun go down in the midst of worship and then look up and see the stars above as you are singing to the King, in the midst of His creation. Thursday night, we worshipped with only the light of TIKI torches, and after 2 hours of Lecture, Lab and Worship. The students began to spontaneously share what God had been up to in their lives, and what He was putting together that week. An hour later, after 16+ students testified. We all realized that we had been in the midst of what must look something like the original Antioch church services early in the NT. Three hours had gone so fast, and God had done so much. We just had to praise Him!!

As we packed up yesterday we finished with serving communion to one another. Only God knows what he has planned for the GHBC and CCC youth groups. What i can tell you is that a few huge TAPROOTs were placed in the Rock of Jesus, in each churches group; (1) Our need for Family - "who is my mother, brother, sister? Those who do the will of my Father" (2)We are all identified with Christ, and accepted as part (3) Jesus and our Testimony can reach the world - For God is not slow to keep His promise, as we understand slowness, He is patient, desiring none to be lost, that all would come to repentance.

What an honor to be a part, what a great God we serve. I will watch with expectation to see what Jesus is up to in these lives in the days to come. PS, you are all welcome to join us for a recap this Sunday Night at Grassland Heights Baptist Church, in Nashville at 6pm. There will be worship, Testimony, Family Time, and oh yeah, whole made Ice Cream.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

ahhhh summertime

Over the last 2 days i have had the great joy of having my 2 boys by me just about every moment of every day. Jess is getting ready for her first year of Art Exploration Camp, so I have been on major daddy duty. As i should, i want to pause and recognize my wife and all full time moms, and the extraordinary amount of patience they have been given by the Lord. Needless to say over the past 2 days though loving the time with my boys, my ability to extend them the grace they need as a 18month, and 4 year old is something i have to work at constantly, it is definitely not natural.

I want to key in on two moments that have defined all that summer is setting up to be. The first
happened yesterday as Justus and I were playing outside, we both
realized my foot was better and it was time for bike riding. So after lunch, the 3 of us (J,N, and me) headed to a park on Concord Rd, to give Justus plenty of room to try out his bike. This was his first real ride since he got his bike for his birthday and it was way over due. Best of all he did great. He was hungry to figure it out, and the land had just enough slope and hill that he had to practice all skills on his bike, but still accomplish a number of small victories on his first try. At one point one of his pedals fell off, and he just laughed it off. Well if you know my head strong, highly emotional son, this too was a big deal he was living in the moment and enjoying the ride. What a great moment we had been blessed with, awesome summer weather. A new bike to break in, even Nate loved it as he giggled on the path as we tried to keep up with Justus while pushed his
stroller. As we headed home, Justus and i decided that we would need to do the bike thing again soon. So today we took the boys and Jess to the park, and he did even better. It is a wild thing to consider all the "rights of passage" my son continues to go through at such a young age. I am so honored to have this time in my life where i can be right there for all of them.

The second moment to mention also occurred at the park today. However it is about another one of my boys Lamar. Lamar has been a student under the ministries i serve in since he was in 6th grade. In a lot of ways. I am as close to a Father as Lamar has truly had. In a sense, our
church was his father, i was just one of a few that played the hands and feet, often. Lamar and I have gone everywhere together, camps, mission trips (Africa), ball games, he has grown leaps and bounds in our time together. He is now a 2nd year college student, getting ready to start playing ball for Vol State in Nashville. I began to tell Lamar's story today to a friend that teaches special education at McGavok High. Lamar's story needed to be told to him, to encourage him that some of the at risk kids we run into do make it past age 27 (Ps, that is the national life expectancy of Special Needs (no autism) students in our country, that is not acceptable). Fortunately there are men like Danny willing to pass on a promotion to make sure those kids have a chance. Back to Lamar, he has never known a consistent parent home growing up. By 12 he settled in with his grandparents, and survived that time, graduating from high school and excelling his first year of college. As Lamar continues to find ways to figure out what it means to be a man, i have often prayed for him that the Lord would put together a way for him to spend quality time with other African American couples that are dearly in love with Jesus. Then this summer that opportunity has come together. Lamar has accepted a position with Barefoot Republic this summer, a camp that will have those sort of possible influencers in his life for 6 separate weeks. I am praying that the Lord will bring him some new found wisdom and relationships that will continue him on his amazing path.

Which brings me to summer time. What an amazing time to live, to enjoy the heat and the ability to be outdoors in it. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store. More to come on this end i am sure....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pray for Mounie

This morning, i had one of those "only God could arrange this" experiences. I met a young man that i am extremely proud of named PJ for breakfast. PJ believes the Lord has called him into ministry, specifically in the area of ministering to students, so we decided to spend some time over pancakes at IHOP discussing what that means.

As we got into our meal, our waitress was very attentive to our discussion. She finally asked where my smile came from, so i told her, i was smiling because all that Jesus has done in our world, referencing my life and PJ's. Now Mounie struck me very unique from the beginning, she had an Indian (India) background and was in her late 50's early 60's. In some ways she fit the build of the type of person you would expect to be your server at IHOP. In other ways however, there was a deep need in her world that i could not shake.

As i answered Mounie's question, and gave Jesus glory, something seemed to fall off of her. She welled up with joy, and said, i knew it, i know it was the Lord Jesus. Turns out Mounie is a sister in Christ, who converted from Hinduism when her husband passed away 14 years ago. She gave PJ and i a brief understanding of who she was, and then asked us to keep her son's in prayer. We assured her of such prayers. Then i asked her if we could pray for her, which we did. She grabbed my arm like any grandmother would do of her grandson, which admittedly just about melted me. As PJ and I laid our hands on her and prayed in the restaurant, in the background i heard another server say "What the hell is that." Such opposition just made me smile, no devil, there are no restrictions to where we will pray for our sister, so "get thee behind me." in the mighty name of Jesus.

Mounie continued to stop by throughout the rest of our time at IHOP and as we left, she thanked PJ and I for coming in. We reminded her that she is never alone, God is always with her. We both spoke a few scriptures over her to encourage her and gave her hugs to remind her the body of Christ is truly all around. It is my hope that each of you get a moment with the Mounie's that serve you your meals today, and that you will commit to pray for her and them in your day to come.

Man God's timing and plan blows my mind, peace.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Playing Catch up, personal reflection.

Seems the past week has gone like a blurr.  This past Thursday night my buddy Carlos graduated from Ministry school, and began the next steps of his journey.  It has been amazing to see how far Carlos has come since I cornered He, Martin, and PJ at the CC gym and shared a few items from my heart about the future of CC and their involvement in its leadership. I know i am NOT the only one that did so, however its amazing to see that all 3 of them are walking in ministry. Carlos the evangelist, Martin the missionary in China, and PJ the future Youth Pastor, WOW.

Friday, our family celebrated as i turned 35, but mind you i still feel 23.  And if i could loose this 15 pounds that haunts my belly and buttocks and gain back a little muscle strength, i would feel that much better.  Yeah that is the flesh talking, i admit it.

Friday morning, the Lord reminded me in so many ways of many of the moments in my journey that he had guided me through.  So i reflected deeply on being a child, teenager, young adult, new married, and new parent.  As i have written in the past, i reflect rather poorly.  My choice to live fully, sometimes lacks in the calm to reflect.  So i work harder to do so.  Again it is the reason for my newer discipline of journaling through blogging.

Friday and Saturday were full of people.  Humans that I value as co-laborers to the gospel, as friends, and as family.  Its funny, as i begin this list, i am cautious to state that this list is so small compared to the many upon many humans that impact my life each day.  So please see this list as a beginning of the effect, and a genuine gratitude for their lives.  The Alfreds, Michael's call to students and families, Shelly's ability to see what really is happening, and their daughter, Nadia, bringing joy to their family and ours. The Halls, Michael and Adie the prayer warriors.  The constant reminders to our lives that love and grace wins. And their daughter Charlotte, what a princess, what a doll. The Hollis. Chris and Colleens love for our son's.  Our joy of watching their children walk through the later stages of childhood, and becoming young adults. The Thomas'.  Clint and Jody, what a fun couple.  Pastor Clint's heart to be a pastor to his family first.  Andtheir 2 little ones, Livi and Calan.  Then there is 3 of my little bro's.  Phil stopped in town for a quick drink and conversation at Panera.  Its hard to believe that he is such a man.  Still so many things i want to share and discuss with him, but all in good time.  The Lord is working on his heart, i just see it.  Stephen and Ben, joined us as well.  Again, what an amazing sight to watch young men, become men in the midst of trial, growth, and a longing to love Jesus more and more.

Saturday, a small group of us headed up to spend the day at Barefoot Republic to work on the campus, we are so close to camp time.  I rode up with Carlos and Zack Self.  Zack has been a topic of conversation for the Pastor's of SLOWBURN lately.  He is a young man, who has a lot of call on his life.  As we rode up to Barefoot, i asked Carlos to share his story with Zack.  And he started this way, "Well Zack, I was once lost, but now i am found."  I loved it.  Over time Los began to lay out all God had been up to over the past few.  Then we asked Zack to share his story.  A young man who has been in "church" and under wonderful "teaching" most of his life.  A young man, who at 18 is still looking for his identity.  The Lord laid a few words of encouragement on my heart for Zack in this area.  The greatest being this; in our lives, especially as men, we are often looking for identity.  As a young man, in what i can do. As a father, in how i lead my family, etc, etc.  However in each of these, i must always return FIRST to my identity in Christ.  That in EVERYTHING my identity and who i am is found in the grace of God on the cross.  Not by my power and strength but in His.  I am convinced in there will be more discussion about Zack in the days to come.  Los and I seemed to come up with a metaphor about him like this; Zack you are a piece of coal with a diamond inside.  But nobody can see that diamond.  As you die daily to yourself.  Jesus will begin to chip off some of that coal, and the sparkle will begin to attract attention. You will reflect the savior.  So grab hold of that identity and grow!

Also on our road trip was Pete Chod, Ben Scott, and Seth King.  Man what a group of guys. We busted it for about 5 hours and then set off to the great metropolis in Scottsville, however on our way ran into a "bait shop" across the street from the camp. So we stopped in and got a ham, cheese, and mustard sandwich.  Not sure what to say about eating at a bait shop except that it was quite an experience. We finished up the day at the camp, mowing, bush hogging, digging, cutting down trees about 2pm, and headed back to Nashville.  Carlos and I continued to talk about all the Lord was up to, and how to seek him more in the midst.  Man i like what the Lord is doing in that guys heart.

Our family finished the day at Olivia Bledsoe's graduation party from Ravenwood High.  I have been Olivia's pastor in some shape or form since she was in 4th grade.  So it was an honor to stop by her party briefly and celebrate with her family.  This years graduates from my years at CC also included; Cameron Lee, Erin Banks, Megan Alonzo, Bekah Lemonds, Chase Lemonds, SarahCardente, Maggie Hardwick, Sarah Cage, Jacob Galloway, Taylor Dixon, Alyssa Abraham, AngelaSessler, Brandon Baker, Haylie Murray, Jake Daniel, Matthew McClure, Kirk Duclos, Lauren Black, Marshall Bolton, Michael Robinson, and Trey Long.  I am sure there are many others, but that is who i could remember off hand.  Again most of which i have known since 4th grade or before. What an honor to see them head off for their next steps. May the Grace, Peace, and Glory of Jesus, chase them...

Sunday we traveled to PA to visit family.  Which took us to the Watsontown area on Monday for memorial day celebration at Max's home.  What a gorgeous day!!  Nate and Justus loved the pool.  The sun was very warm and the water very cold, and the boys and i had a blast.  Justus, loves to push the limits in the water, so i had to jump in a few times to get him back to the end of the pool he could stand up in.  He has such an adventurous spirit.  Nate began to walk to today on his own.  That was a big moment, as Jess says often, he chooses not to, its not ability, and he proved that again to day as he took steps on his own.  Jess and I both thanked Max for taking the time to put together this extended family time.  This is one of the holidays my wife's family grew up spending at her Gram and Paps.  And with their return to the Father in the past few years, if it weren't for a few moments like these, our boys would never know their extended family.  Which is so important to us.

Today ended with some time working on a few little projects for pop.  Running a LAN cable fornance's computer, adding RAM, working on toilets, etc.  We ended the night at Dave and Emily's house for a Spaghetti and meatballs dinner, mmmm, good.

Tomorrow, i interview with GCCC just outside of Philly.  Jess and I continue to thank God for all he is up to in our lives in Nashville.  Obviously we have heard God's call on our lives, so if being a part of this community is what He has for us next in the pastorate, then so be it.  However, at this point i have not yet heard the Lord say that this is "the" move for us.  So we will continue to stay plugged in Nashville, "Fully Present" if you will until we hear his voice.

The word says to ask, seek, and knock. So i will do so even as i finish up tonite.  Let your voice be clear Lord, let us walk in your ways, to do your will.  For we love Jesus first,  peace..  

Monday, May 18, 2009

You don't really know someone until you create with them

Today i had the honor doing something i have not done before, but thought i would really enjoy.  I got to be part of a team of 4 guys that designed a 9 hole Disc Golf course on the Barefoot Republic property in Scottsville, KY.  This means i spent an intense amount of time with a few guys. And to borrow a saying from our current presidents brother in-law "You don't really know someone til you get them on the Disc Golf course and create with them".  Ok so its slightly skewed, but it applied incredibly today.

The team was led by a veteran designer named Ron Pittman.  Ron is a 50 something, that has an incredible amount of energy and genius, and a genuine understanding of human beings. Most of this understanding being at a comical level.  I will spend a few minutes on my new buddy Ron in a minute, however I also spent this time with Keith Mason @keithmason. Keith is an old friend, youth ministry parent, and loves to be with others that are walking with Jesus.  So Keith and i have reconnected thanks to disc golf, and a mutual suspicion that God is up to something in our world.  The final gentlemen in this equation is the director of Barefoot and its visionary Tommy Rhodes.  There is not enough to say about Tommy, however i will begin my summation with this "Tommy knows his dreams for barefoot are often 'crazy', however it is that logic that seems to drive him to see how far God wants to take this organization."  Admittedly, each of these men attribute qualities that i hope to someday also shine as i serve Christ.

Ok, so back to Ron.  Ron runs a business locally call Southeastern Painting and in his spare time runs the local Disc Golf community in Williamson County (he is the man to thank for having 18 great holes at Crockett Park).  However, it seems after talking to Ron, to be more of an ends to a means, than his heart.  Ron has been involved in ministry for a long time, practically since he was in highschool.  He has had his share of victories and sorrows while serving in the church.  He has 3 children, one almost my age, so when Ron speaks, i do my best to listen up. What i most enjoy thus far about Ron is his genuine love for his God, his family, and specifically his son Ryan.  Ryan has down syndrome, which the more i listened to Ron, Ryan's handicap is just a great opportunity for their family, daily.  So my day was blessed about great conversations about the modern church, the local body of believers biblical call, and how each of us fits in it as families and individuals, which led often to the tangibility of that.

As for the course, i want to personally invite you (without Tommy's permission mind you) to come up after June 1st and play the course with us.  Its about an hour and 1/2 drive toScottsville KY from Nashville.  But trust me, when this puppy is done, playing 18 up there will be worth it. The creating process, really was great to be a part of, and i can't wait to put the sweat equity into it over the next 2 weeks to get it ready.  Any of you that would be interested in being part of the team to make this happen let me know, i will be glad to plug you in.

Being around a group of good men like these 3, helps me to often take stock of the life the Lord has given me to live.  I turn 35 on Friday, and the Lord is continuing to reinvent me as a pastor each day.  Again, almost to a comical level.  Right now, the Lord continues to use me to serve the existing cities of First Priority for encouragement and growth, serve my buddies church plantSLOWBURN, connect to Barefoot Republic, serve a few youth groups in Nashville for camp this summer, and walk along side a number of young men and women that are working through their ministry call.  As most of you know, like so many nonprofits world wide, First Priority has fell on tougher times financially.  So our family is a few months behind on receiving paychecks.  Yet, the Lord has not only provided for every bill, he has also streamlined what it is that i do well, and placed me in those giftings.  He has truly taught me that He is our families provider, He is my source for what it is I do. 

This also leads me to a genuine thankfulness for the family he has given.  My wife (Jessi) is an unbelievable blessing for our family.  First as my love, man i am overwhelmed with her grace, trust, and poise as we serve in the ministry and we learn these lessons of provider together.  On top of that, she is an incredible children's minister to our kids, in fact i am so sure of her talent i would put her side by side with any out there.  But i don't have too, instead she finds great joy in being our full time children's minister at my home. You know that's right! Then our boys, i am not sure how to appreciate our boys enough to Jesus. All i can say is, if you have never heard the stories of God's graciousness to our family through the gifts (miracles even) of Justus and Nate you need to.  I was in the midst of each, and i still say WOW when i think about them.

I will close with this thought. Tomorrow is a special day.  It is the day that a bunch of Jesus followers have chosen to set aside to pray and fast for an organization i mention often calledKeza.  They are in dire straits financially, and yet are bursting at the seems, with their creative team exploding, their internship blooming, their women run businesses and ministries sprouting, it truly is an awesome time to see what THE LORD can do when men and women lay down what they have created so they may walk in what He has for them.  I would appreciate any of you that can to spend some time reflecting for the needs in East Africa and KEZA.  And fasting, the bible is clear in Ephesians " the battle is not flesh and blood but of the Spirit."  The enemy is taking pop shots at the people of God and we will not stand for it.  So tomorrow we battle, because this kind "comes out" through prayer and fasting. I thank you in advance for being a part. And i will report back with the victory announcement when it comes, so we can all celebrate together.  Til then, His Peace, His Grace, and His Glory - Pastor Steve

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

dark reflections, so that Hope may rise...

Its an interesting thing to genuinely reflect.  Admittedly, i probably reflect less than i should to maintain some sort of mental health in my life.  What this lack of reflection can cause at times, is short periods of low.  It would be fair to say, moments where even though logic tells me how very blessed I am, there is still a gaping wide hole in my soul.  Today provided multiple opportunities to reflect, and really began to build a greater need i was feeling to write, think, pray, and build hope.

It also seems that documenting such a process could be dangerous, especially in the world of the church.  Religion screams loudly that pastors need to have it all together, and be on the game at all times.  Yet i find myself in a constant struggle remembering that the call to Shepard is huge, and yet I am at the core human, dust and dirt.  Only worthy of my adopted kingship because of Jesus.

Part of my reflection today was with a buddy of mine, Keith Mason.  @Keithmason is a profound musician and scholar, and teaches at Belmont University in the School of Music.  Saying he teaches is a poor testimony to all of his talents and abilities, in fact he listed off his plans for his "summer off" and it did not sound any thing like being "off", which he loved. Keith's discussion today, caused me to remember how much i appreciate and love the people from the church i was raised up in ministry.  It reminded me that especially as a servant leader, that when the institution begins to fail, I must continue to take myself back to the people.  And there is no doubt that most of the human beings that i served, i led, or i immersed myself with effected me positively for the Kingdom's sake.  And yet its been a year since Jess and I felt the Lord move us out of that community and into another.  In that time i have struggled how to not lose all that i gained for the Kingdom through those people, and yet in a very healthy way move on to what He has for us next. Today's conversation, definitely helped me understand even deeper the complexities of such a process, it also opened up gaping holes of emotion, that i must deal with as the Lord continues to propel our family forward to what He is doing with us now.

Some time before Keith showed up at Starbux for our hang out, i read another chapter of Jud's book, Stripped.  The chapter i read was about a young man, in his late teen years, that rededicated his life after much heart ache and personal abuse.  Only to lose it in a random car wreck 6 days later.  As i read the chapter, knowing i have heard a number of stories like this, i was moved with great emotion.  My heart turned immediately to my own boys, and then just as quickly to all the students i have served throughout the years.  Oh my God, to lose even 1.  I have experienced such a loss, however that pain of possibility can scare many out of ever serving again in student ministry.  But my heart is convinced that i am called to serve families, especially students until i am 95. The Spirit reminds me that each of these students are first God's not mine and that His timing is perfect, but the call placed in me by that same Spirit does not want to lose even 1 (1 Peter 3:9).  So my reflection continued to grow.

As the day continued, my reflection grew darker for lack of a better term.  Not darkness that is evil, but more like darkness that i was finally willing to peer into, and admit reality. Darkness as in loneliness.  Which seems silly, considering my next reflection.

As the afternoon wound down, my buddy Daniel decided it was time for me to have a twitter acct., something admittedly i have avoided to protect myself from being a FB junkie, or so i thought.  But @danielbelltn and @jeremycarlson knapsacked even hoodwinked my information and set me up in the tweet world.  So spent some time with them getting lessons.  This brought be back to the church that i spent the previous 10 years of ministry in, and because reflection had been rising, this just caused that next wave of emotions.  So i hugged a few necks, caught up with a few friends, and as i left did my best to celebrate that time with them, and try to catch wind for a moment to figure out what the Lord was doing in my world.  Being out of leadership in a specific local church over the last year, and instead serving the church (global) in a town, or city, or state causes a different set of emotions and thoughts. So to be faced with so many reflections on that part of my world, i was about on overload.

Here i am 35 years old next week.  And it seems for all purposes the Lord is releasing His plan for our next step to us.  Which may include the need to move our family to another part of the country.  Which has its own duplicity of issues.  For a time now, Jess and I have felt that stir, that the Lord may prep us for the next thing somewhere in the Northeast, and we have been excited about that. And yet everyday, our family becomes more tied, more hungry, and more in tune with what God is trying to do in this city as the "spirit of religion" is being demolished one brick at a time. As pastor Clint has said, the "sleeping giants" are awakening, some to be released for the Kingdom, others to be slayed so that they will exist no more. So the Spirit of freedom is being released in order to bring many, many to His Kingdom.

I admit, the amount of weight and consideration of all that i was soul searching on, in my head by 6pm, was to the point of overwhelming.  I found it almost impossible to be fully present with my family, and knew that i needed to get out and reflect for their sake and mine.  However, as many know, when you have young kids, the timing of such a rest does not always come, right now.  So as i begin to breath again, calm begins to enter my heart.  Peace begins to enter my mind, and hope begins to rise, Romans 5 : 1-5.

This morning Jess was awakened by a very vivid dream.  The details of the dream i cannot remember, however what i do remember is realizing that there was a very heavy battle going on in the Spirit. And that i needed to be more diligent to pray, and be on the offensive in my prayers. 

So as i come to the end of my day, with so much thought considered, i realize that now is the time for me to grab that Hope that rises.  For the world to know clearly, no, first for me to know clearly, that this home, this family, this heritage it is that of the Kings.  And that no enemy physical or spiritual has any authority over what is the Kings.  That all that He has created us to be, to serve, to love, and to walk in is for His glory.  We are already sealed in His victory.  Our lives our not our own, we have been bought for a price, only to be set free.  And so our journey will reflect His glory. It is at the depth of such love, such call, that i would be a fool not to reflect.  I would be arrogant not to Selah (holy pause) and consider, and i would lack character if i pretended not to fail at all of it often.  But that such a day of reflection, may draw all who are willing to be honest closer to all that He is, was and will be.  For to you my King be all in all, now let Hope rise... 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This morning came pretty early for the boys and I. Jess is on the final phase of her recovery from a nasty virus that is going around the school she teaches Art Appreciation at, so i have done my best to stay on Daddy duty and keep them quarantined from the house. So i got the boys up about an hour earlier than normal so we could head off to Barefoot Republic for a day of research.

On the way we picked two friends from Grassland Heights Church. Duane and Fred. Duane is going to be the games master for the camp in June and Fred is a professional videographer that is creating commercials for the event. Both are good men, that love Jesus, their families, and students. So off we went to Barefoot.

I have briefly discussed Barefoot in previous blogs, but i want to give you the background of how it came about, and why i am so excited about their new (and ever growing) facilities and staff. Admittedly, this is to the best of my knowledge, so there may be some very important holes in the discussion, but it is still worth starting.

Tommy Rhodes is the visionary and director of Approximately 10+ years ago Tommy was a Vandy grad doing Bio Chem work for a pharmaceuticals company. However, he had a nagging urge that the Lord had something more for him. Mostly because Tommy's life was amazingly effected by camp and he could not shake his love for it. So he and a buddy began the process of creating their own camp. In time, they came up with the name Barefoot Republic (there is a cool story behind this, but i can't remember it so i won't try to make it up). And Barefoot was born. They began their camps with the premise that if they could bring students from many different backgrounds (racial, denominational, monetary) to camp together, and then focus on Jesus for a solid period of time, all sorts of Godly transformations would occur. Little did he know how right he was. So Barefoot took off on the campus of Cumberland University. About 2 years into this process, Tommy and his buddy came across the land that Barefoot now sits on, and with the help of some family members snatched it up. Hoping to some day have their own campus for Barefoot. Since then they have slowly been building the ministry and prepping to start building their facilities. Which catches us up to this summer. This year there will be 6 actual Barefoot weeks of camp, and a bunch of other camps for specific churches filled in at other times. I have the honor to serve at 2, one in June for Grassland Heights Church, and the one in July for Barefoot. This will be their inaugural year of camps on their 85 acre campus, thus far they have 2 tree houses that can serve up do 130 students easily, basketball courts, outdoor skate park, outdoor amphitheater, low ropes, large soccer fields, 9 holes of disc golf, a great full functioning restaurant kitchen, + more, and tons more to go. What is amazing about Barefoot is not its facilities, in the end they are just tools. Well made, designed and completely out of the box tools. What makes Barefoot is Tommy's heart for the Kingdom. I listen to Tommy discuss all that the Lord has given him for a vision for this camp, and i realize that Tommy "DOES NOT" think he owns this thing. Nope in every way it is the Lord's, so he is calm in the storm and the sunshine, excited by teamwork and help, and can't wait to see what the Lord does in the lives of the students. I have 2 projects that Tommy has allowed me to be a part of in this process of developing the grounds. One is the 9 hole disc golf course on site and the other is the durable, basketball goals for the ball courts. The Lord is doing some really cool stuff in the midst of both and i can't wait to see how it all turns out.

If you get a chance to check out the website, and the Lord leads you to connect with Barefoot, let me know i would be glad to help you connect on whatever level. Obviously i have been moved enough to jump right in. But admittedly, i love the Kingdom, and really enjoy camp, so it has not been tough.

The day ended with a make up soccer game with our 3/4 team at Christ Church. We have 9 wonderful little ones on the team: Justus, Elijah, Paul, Caleb, Kennedy, Lily, Joshua, Taylor, and Dillon. Admittedly, i know nothing about soccer, seriously nothing. But i do know teamwork, and i can't say enough about our little ones and their families. This year has been a true joy to watch moms and dads on the field with their kids getting after in during practice. Seriously, its been quite crazy to think how connected the Lord continues to make us to Nashville in the midst of knowing that at any moment i could face the reality that we must move to go somewhere the Lord has us to serve.

Which reminds me. There are 4 opportunities that face our family right now. Which all happened to follow up with me yesterday with conversations. The first and most likely to at least ask me to be part of their staff is a church in Birmingham called Valleydale. Admittedly, this would be a wonderful church to serve as Sr High Youth Pastor, and has a huge harvest field of 3 of the top football schools in the country (i.e. Hoover from the MTV series). Pastor's Jeff and Calvin are good men, that are facing a rebirth in the church and looking for builders and releasers, both of which fit my mold. They are also huge supporters of FP and all that i believe in releasing students to reach students on their school campuses. And yet i have not heard the Lord at all say "yes this is the one."

Next is a church in Indianapolis. This church was pastored by the same man for about 20 years, and then he felt the Lord calling him to go back to school for his law degree. So he retired went to practicing law, and passed on the church to his son, off they went blooming in a new season. However, 4 years into it. His son got a call to return to the special forces and serve in Afghanistan. Which he gladly accepted, so now the church is left in need of another young family to come in and take it where the Lord has. Obviously, i am honored to even be considered for the discussion. And i love Vision, and Passion for a people, and Faithfulness to the call. What i cannot wrap my head around is the timing. Is this the season the Lord has for me to take up such a task to be the Lead Pastor. Especially since i am the guy who says he will work with Youth until he is 90 :<)

Next is a church out of Sapphire, NC, led by a good man, who planted the church 18 months ago. However, the church has seemed to peak, and though Pastor Steve is young in heart at 58, he needs someone with the energy and variance to come in and help him take it through its next season. Again, i am honored to even be part of that discussion.

Finally is a church Raleigh, NC. This church is in search of their next YP. And though i know nothing about them, my contact fills they may be the best fit for me that he knows of. Again, honored to even start the discussion.

I am left with these thoughts, and think i will close my night with them. Actually they are my prayers, i continue to repeat. "Lord, here is our family send us, Not our will be done but yours. God if we are called away from Nashville at this point, then why do we continue to become more and more tied to this city, its families, its lost, its hurting, its unloved? Lord, when we search our hearts and consider where you might send us, we consider the Northeast, and yet every opportunity keeps us in the very Christianize south, why, when we are so turned off by it? Father as i consider all of these things, i am reminded what my older, wiser, friend Benny says "Ministry is often less about where we are, and more about who we are."

So i have chosen to wait Lord." I would rather struggle where i am, and wait til i hear his voice clearly. Then to jump at a "good opportunity" only to have missed what he was trying to release me into where i was.

May the Peace, Grace, and Glory of Jesus, chase each of you today.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Well there is much to catch up in my writings.  Due to a pretty packed schedule it has been a few since i have been able to reflect.  So for those of you who read this along with myself, may be worth your time to skim.  Most of those who love me know that i tend to tell the "whole" story, so being lengthy can at times make my writings burdensome.

As i begin to look back on the past few, itunes is playing an old song from the days of SUP C - Is
 This a Dream.  A hip hop rock melody, that is well worth the repeat button in my player. Which takes me quickly to my days in that world.  Its Saturday Night and i left a show a few minutes ago running into my old acquaintances Stacy, Tron, and Otto from the Factors days.  Ah, its still good to breathe the fumes of rockin a mic, and having dreams of effecting the lives of young adults through 16bars and a track i created in my head long before it hit the wax.  And then i progress...

Thursday, seems like light years ago. Busyness will do that to you.  I had the good fortune of spending some key moments with my buddy Carlos.  The Lord is really continuing to prepare
 him for a life of service to the Kingdom.  During SLOWBURNNASHVILLE.COM that evening, i got a chance to pray with him.  It was an interesting prayer because it was more about release, and battling fear of man, than it was an personal issue he might have been facing.  I also prayed with one of the guys who is formally in Narrowgate. He is close to Carlos, and if i thought long enough his name would come to me, we have met several times.  This young man has heard the call of Jesus, and is even in a place where answering is an option.  However, there is still a certain lack of acceptance of that call that hinders him.  Almost like because he cannot believe totally what God already believes about him, it causes an inability to be broken/molded fully into what God has him to be.  I spoke with him afterwards, and his pursuit continues. I pray for his breakthrough even now.  Yes Lord.

Thursday night, we had the gift of having 2 guest worship band members.  They are pastors at a church in Springhill about a mile from Clint.  Mark seems to be a bout 30 ish, and plays a mean bass.  His dad Andy also joined us, as a tenor sax player, which truly was an experience.  Mark's family is from the Philly area, just across the river in NJ.  Actually not far from a church that i have spoken to before called, Mr. Gary Clark.  These good men have brought my buddy Jeff Deyo up for worship before.  What a interesting conversation to hear Mark talk about his heart for this area outside Nashville, and for my discussion about how the Northeast is often on my family's heart. I would be surprised if that is the last time my family's path crosses with Mark and their family.

Last discussion that i will mention from that night is my reacquaintance with Jeane, from Grace Chapel and Narrowgate.  Although i am still learning all of Jeane's story.  Here are the details worth grabbing.  Aprox. 7 years ago, Jeane was diagnosed with lymphoma.  And at some point in her decision to battle the disease, her husband and she were called into retirement from their business to go into full time ministry.  When i ran into her again at SB that night, it was surrounded by a number of young ladies, so i will assume for now that most of her ministry is discipleship and raising up of young women and men who are called for His purposes.  Again, I suspect Jeane and her family will come up again at some point. 

Friday, i was given the gift of working for my buddy Damon Davis ( pretty much all day monitoring inflatable game teams.  So my morning started off around 7am at Ruby Major Elem. For the next 7 hours, i led a team that oversaw 3 inflatables. This team consisted of staff and parents from the school and about 30 Middle Schoolers from Donelson Middle.  Admittedly, this was less like work for me, and more like deep breath.  Ruby Major is a very diverse school.  White kids, black kids, iranian kids, hispanic, asian, mixed kids, kids with head coverings on. 500+ Kind - 4th graders, from every part of Nashville.  I admit that as i watched the organized chaos and breathed in, i listened to the students breathing in as well.  Here are a few comments that caught my attention: 2 second graders who don't know i am listening "I have never had so much fun in my whole life.... Yeah, this is by far the best day of school".  One of the teachers said this "I have seen 4 or 5 kids smile today, that i don't think i have seen smile most of the year."  What i could not wrap my head around that morning was this thought, "Lord what part of heaven am i seeing right now? And what is it you want me to do with this gift?"  Admittedly, i am not sure yet.  But will share a dream i had Wednesday into Thursday night, that may begin to shed a little light to my soul.

In 04/05 i led a small band of rebels into Antioch to start a church plant call The Rock.  Our logo
 was 5 smooth stones stacked upon one another, with a small pool of water underneath.  Each stone stood for a particular discipline of the faith that was core to our values.  I often yearn for the days of the Rock, because of the people. For those who don't know Antioch, the local high, middle, and elementary's have 28 primary languages spoken, where english is the 2nd language.  And more diversity of color, background, and make up than just about anywhere else i know of in Nashville.  While much of the American Culture Christianity focuses on silliness like english only, and "defending the faith", i believe the Body of Jesus yearns to reach the world, and could do so in an instant if they spent more than 20 minutes in Antioch, so i continue to be drawn. So back to my dream. God began to redefine the rocks. Instead of the rocks sitting on one another, His big strong hand was grabbing them one by one and slinging them at giants in Nashville.  I remember each rock having a very distinct definition, but right now i cannot place what each one was, only that they were no longer dormint, but active, very active.  I will ask the Lord to make them evident to me again, what the purpose of all of it is, only God knows in His timing. But i will ask, knock, and seek. 

Friday evening i made my way to the 2nd gig.  It was for a ministry that i am tied to called BGM.  They were having their latest fund raiser at Two Rivers Baptist, and i needed to oversee 3 games for the kiddo's.  However, Kelly on the BGM team asked me a day or two before to be interview about the guys from BGM (Brent, Mike, Aaron), this was  real honor to me.  As i arrived at the gig, i noticed that all the Terra Nova volunteers that i served with in late Dec last year where there again serving the ministry.  So we set up, and made my way to catch up with the BGM crew.  I ran into another brother in arms; Paul Teller.  Paul often MC's BGM events, he is the Jr High Youth Pastor at Clearview Baptist in Franklin.  He is a good man, who is super busy being faithful to the ministry.  So i don't get to see him much, but i am a huge fan, so when we get time i sure enjoy it.  Paul was going to conduct my interview that night, and we worked out the details before hand.  Jess and the boys got to join me for this event, which i am super glad because Jess wants to go to Haiti some day to serve in missions, and BGM has an arm of ministry that will have 8 trips to Haiti in the year coming, so i hope she will get involved.  
Justus continues to help me see God each day in his life.  Knowing that we had church the night before i gave him the option to stay in with the little ones in the inflatables all night, or go to children's church.  There was not even a hesitation, he was going to be with the "big boys" and go to church again.  Smiling to myself i thought, that's more mature of a choice than i would have made. As the night ended, Jess and i picked up a piece of artwork from Haiti that matches some of the work we have on the walls from Uganda, so we will add that to our home soon.  Also as the night ended, my buddy Paul allowed me to share our recent miracle about Justus tooth and mouth.  It led me to tell him, i would be praying for a need in his family that one of his boys needs healing. Paul loved the story, and said let's pray now.  So we did.  And i continue to pray that God will touch little Brody's life in his need.  I am believing for his complete healing and hope you will join me too.

My buddy Jeremy from CC, was also at the event to share about Terra Nova Student Conferences.  Jeremy and I have walked in ministry of some sort for over 11 years, and God is getting ready to release him into some very interesting new seasons in his life, so it was cool to catch up with him, momentarily as well. 

Saturday was another rain out, unbelievable.  However by noon the skies were clear and Justus, Nate, and I spent about 4+ hours outside playing in the mud.  Our home is kind of the local playground, so kids come over all the time to play with whatever is in our garage, which is cool with us. We love having them around.  Jess ended up with some sort of food poisening from her lunch on friday at the mall, so the boys and I spent the rest of the evening out with Stephen and Ben hodge, enjoying dinner (thanks to dick and steph) and then off to the concert.  

One last thought as i close.  Jess and I have been reminded lately how kind the Lord has been to me.  In the midst of tough funding moments with FP, and a yearning to serve a student ministry more faithfully possibly in our future.  God has continued to use both of us to serve the Kingdom through the local church, and in our community. As most men, some of my self worth comes from knowing i have value in this world.  As a pastor i am constantly teaching and sharing with others how their value comes from God's love for them alone.  However, i too must learn this lesson daily, and live in the grace that He provides by throwing me a bone every now and again.