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 www.barefootrepublic.org. 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 GCCCpray.org, 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 (www.playtimesportsgames.com) 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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One of the most fortunate people in the world...

I find myself being one of the most fortunate people in the world. Let me explain.  A friend recently reminded me that "he lives in Disneyland."  That for about 96% of the world, despite the fact that he is jobless at the moment, and that he has many prospects but no finales, his world looks much like Disneyland to most of the world.  It was a great ah-ha moment for me.  No not the band, my friends from the 80's, i mean one of those perspective moments that are appropriate on a regular basis for any God fearing Jesus chaser. 

Which leads me to my life.  Each day, the Lord reminds me how blessed i really am.  For some reason i have been connecting to many, many current and future world changers.  Now please don't tune me out because i just used that over played term "world changers", these truly are
 people that are effecting human beings all over this beautiful planet. 

Start with my friend Scott.  I had the pleasure of serving on ministry staff with Scott a few years back, and love his zeal for the Lord, and his pleasure at seeing the lost found.  Recently Scott brought his little adopted daughter home from Zambia.  Her name is Gracie, and she is their second adopted child, the first being Jordan, who is from the US.  Jordan and Gracie are both jewels, Jordan genuinely is all boy and ready at a moments notice to take on the world. Gracie is a delight (i have not even met her yet just heard stories) her smile can light up a room instantly.  Out of this latest adoption was born an organization made to help others help many other children world wide through adoption, called Abba Java.  Abba Java is a small but vibrant coffee company who's proceeds all go to causes that serve children.  Scott was sharing with me this morning that Abba Java is growing so fast, he cannot keep up.  Which is a great problem to have. Scott is stunned by the success that this little organization is having, and is listening with
 an open heart on what is next for this endeavor.  Each of the coffees and the 
endeavors have personal touches of Scott and Linde's children, you could say its a family business, to expand the Kingdom family.  As i considered all Scott was up to, i thought how many of us need to hear the rest of Scott's story to see how God will fill in many of the blanks, if we will just be faithful to what he has called us to.  I recommend some time at www.abbajava.org to get the whole story and learn how to be a part.  Warning!! It might just alter your life, so proceed with caution.

This brings me to my next "world changer".  Today i posted a similar link and quotation about our family friend Katie Davis on FB.  The best way i can describe Katie is to say this "You want to know what Mother Teresa was like as a young women, just get to know Katie."  But as just stated, be warned, Katie's story will not only make you laugh and cry, its about real people, so it may change your life, so proceed with caution.  http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com  .   Katie runs an orphanage that she started about 2 ye
ars ago in Jinja, Uganda.  Oh yeah, she was 18 when she started it, and that was after she had fully funded and put together a school for 100+ kindergartners, and trained five local women to
 run the school.  Then she was bored (ha!) and adopted 5 girls and began an orphanage in her home.  Katie now has 4 volunteer staff, and 13 girls at the orphanage in her home.  What you need to know is that orphanages in Uganda are all state certified.  You can't just make it happen, it takes a lot of hard work and follow through.  I can't explain how, but Katie, who is a fun and loving as her pictures show, really understands what it means to be faithful to the passions God has given her.  So at every opportunity God gives me, i tell her story, it is the kind that should be a 15 minute special on the latest TV news show, instead of the negative crap that
 seems to fill our airwaves.

This leads me to the next one.  Here name is Brooklyn, and man is she crazy.  Brooklyn is part of the church plant that Jess and I have found ourselves serving in on weekly basis.  It is called Slowburn Nashville, and is led by my buddy Clint Thomas.  Clint like many young pastors is leading a charge to the church to fall in love again with their first love, Jesus.  However, right now is not a discussion about Slowburn, though if you love Jesus and want more of him i suggest www.slowburnnashville.com, it is about  my young friend Brooklyn.  What you need to know about Brooklyn is that in the late 90's before Columbine made school shootings common news material, Brooklyn was at a high school in Paducah, KY and watched a number of her friends shot by a classmate at their school during a prayer time.  When Brooklyn tells her story, you realize, because of the way the shooting went down, she still hasn't figured out how she survived.  This reality however is not what makes Brooklyn a "world changer" instead it has only been the catalyst that at times has shined her into the lime light.  Reality is Brooklyn is a "world changer' because God has molded her to reach out to the hurting a lost, and bring, drag, manipulate them to spending a moment with Jesus.  She is convinced that if she can get that person in the room with the healer, healing will occur.  If she can get that person in the room with the redeemer, redemption will occur.  You get my point.  What is so beautiful about this is that her ultimate goal is not about that moment, but instead seeing those people begin their journey of discipleship and life in full in Christ.  So her commitment to them is only beginning when they finally answer the call.   So Brooklyn is making a plan to work with a number of young adults next summer, taking them on a different kind of missions trip.  Not just one to serve for a short period, but instead one that causes her young disciples to have a life shifting 6 week turn.  The beauty of all of this, is that she has asked me to help her with the process, and of course i am blessed the opportunity to see such a dream followed through, for His glory. You can learn more about Brooklyn's journey and where she is speaking, teaching and impacting students nationwide at http://blog.projekthero.com/

Though there are plenty more, even many i spoke to today, I will end my thoughts tonite, with text that i heard while attending the youth ministry service at Grassland Heights Baptist Church.  It is from 2nd Corinthians 5 : "16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. " 

Which leads me back to my original thought of the night.  I find myself; a pursuer of Jesus, one who is a new creation, not on my own merit, but on His doing through reconciliation, called to be an ambassador for God to the world; to be one the most fortunate people in the world. For God has not only done this work in me, but connected me over and over again with men and women with a similar view of their lives, that are effecting many lives on this planet as His ambassador. Such relationships cause me to strive to love my Jesus more, and keep Him the main thing in all that i am. Hoping the natural sequence of events being the world will be changed for His glory. How fortunate are we that God would use us His people to have a role in Changing the World. Peace!

Monday, May 4, 2009

All about the Kingdom

One of the good fortunes of doing what i do in the world of student ministry is that i have the opportunity to work with all sorts of men and women who serve the local church with Kingdom in mind.  What is interesting about such a statement is that for years early in the ministries i was involved in, that meant that non-denominational was Kingdom building, and denominationalism was not. Thanks to numerous strategic relationships in my life that the Lord has provided, my preconceived notions are being destroyed.  

One of those relationships is with a new friend name Brad Fiscus.  Brad is a father of 2, who's wife is a prominent doctor in our area.  And in the last year, they have felt the call of God return Brad to the place as serving as the Youth Director for this area of the Methodist church.  Brad has a heart to see every student in his distract reached with the gospel of Jesus.  Every student, not just the ones that are somehow attached to the Methodist church.  And when he presents that audacious goal to the Methodists churches he serves all over Tennessee, he is quick to point out to them that such a goal will not be accomplished without the whole Church of Jesus in our area, and not just the Methodists. I like that, its Kingdom, and Brad is not afraid to say so.

Brad and I had breakfast this morning, and in our time together he honored me when he was introducing me to one of his friends by calling me one of his advisers.  Now i would not go so far as to say that I advise Brad on much, however what Brad and I have found is a common goal. And as the scripture says, "Iron sharpens Iron as one man does another." I believe Brad and i spend our time wielding the common sword God has given us to swing with one another.  What this causes is a refreshing cutting, and clanging of ideas and beliefs that God has resonated deep in our soul.  This conversation becomes quite comical at times because Brad and I both tend to speak over one another.  Not in the rude, let me get my thought in sort of way.  But instead in excitement like two little boys that can't believe that recess is actually part of school, and can't wait to explain to each other what is about to happen or has already.  I will share one quick example with you today, that really cleared Kingdom up for me in his world.  Brad reminded me that there are a number of organizations that are tied to the Methodist church that are training YP's.  His distract office is just one of them. This fact was brought to his attention by another ministry in the light of competition, which Brad very quickly and precisly stopped.  To paraphrase him, "there is way too much to do and be accomplished for the church to be worried about who is getting credit for what.  I want to reach every student, and the only way to do that is for us to celebrate all the tools that God is using to train up that army that is meant to reach them." I loved the comment, and appreciated the positive outlook on all the opportunities he faces. So mad props to my buddy Brad Fiscus, keep wielding the sword gave has given you to swing!!

I spent some time in Proverbs today.  Not nearly the study time i would have wished, however still it is part of my disciplines, and I am moved by it.  Anyone who has spent any amount time walking with me either as an attender or better yet a disciple will know that i think proverbs is a great place to start learning the scriptures.  The amount of wisdom in each one, makes it fresh everyday.  And there are 31, so anytime you need to make a decision where to start your reading, just think about the calendar day and go there. It also seems logical to me to read a proverb and a chapter from one the Gospels.  If you were to accomplish this discipline for a year.  You would have read proverbs through 12 times, and each of the gospels a minimum of 3 times through.  So for a year you get wisdom and life in Christ every day.  Sounds like good foundations to me.

Again, speaking of the scriptures and my desire to devour them more and more.  I was hit in the face with a fact the other day.  Many times in my teaching / preaching ministry i have talked about my love for the Torah (the first five books of the bible, mostly thought to be written by Moses) and all the Jesus that is in the OT in general.  One of the themes i have used so many times is a period of Testing (40days) and i have preached up and down about the flood, the exodus, the testing of Christ, etc, etc.  However i never noticed that exodus has 40 chapters. Seems funny, however it took an incredible picture book i found at Davis Kidd for it to hit me in the face.  In this book the author attempted with one large picture to depict the ongoings of each chapter, and then had the text on the painting in both Hebrew and KJV english.  I walked away from those few minutes thumbing through the book, realizing that God is constantly teaching us the scriptures.  And that often i have made my scope way to narrow.  I am one that pushes myself to be more creative in how i think and teach and yet, how often on my early morning drive to the gym do i miss the Genesis story of creation being told right in front of me with the breaking of the sun over the trees, or the early morning busyness of all the animals i pass.  There are new mercys every morning, and i must continue to press myself away from religion so that my faith in Jesus will set me free to see all that God is up to, always.

Another Kingdom conversation i had today was with Shannon Popp. Shannon is the City Director of First Priority Front Range in Aurora, CO.  Shannon has an incredible passion to see the local church united through Aurora and all of Denver.  What i have found incredible about him is his zeal and tenacity for the cause.  When it comes to ministry, it seems it is often easier to find all the things that are wrong with the work of the church, and let's face it especially in religious circles, negativity sells.  But in my very biased opinion, Shannon has got it down. He feels that what the Lord has called him to means, giving his ALL to it.  Not in the weird sense where is forsaking his family.  No, instead in the sense that says, his hard work, attention to detail, and willingness to share the gospel with anyone who will listen, will lead to value.  That value being, chasing after the goal that the Lord has placed in front of him.  Seeing the defeats and closed doors as opportunities, and seeing the victories as Glory to God and worth working hard for. Shannon is a one man show, guiding an army of city leaders, youth pastors, and parents with all he has got. So when i get done with a phone call with him, all i can think about is Kingdom and all the glory he is bringing to God. Well done my brother, well done, may the Lord allow you another 60 years to continue on.

I will close the evening with this thought.  I have been with First Priority of America now for almost a year Full Time. In that time we continue to serve 61 cities that are on some level trying to unite with the cause of reaching every student in their area.  During my time with First Priority we have faced so many incredible opportunities to stay together in the midst of perceived economic turmoil.  In fact at this time it looks like that each of us will be returning to serve in a local church across the US, in order continue to better lead this orginization.  Which if we are not careful seems almost logical, since FP is a "Local Church Strategy" not a parachurch minsitry. So our family faces the issue that the local body we serve may not be in Nashville TN where we currently reside.  Right now there seen to be opportunities in Birmingham AL, Philadelphia PA, and even Oklahoma or Las Vegas.  Much of the consideration of these possibilities leads me back to a book i recently finished by Myles Monroe called Discovering the Kingdom. Though there are many incredible thoughts in this book.  I am constently reminded of one thing, it is a quote of Jesus from Matthew 6, towards the end of the chapter where he is teaching on worry, and he says this "Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all of this will be given to you as well." it finishes with a reminder about worry.  So for our family, each day has enough worry; consideration, contemplation, opportunity, that today is enough for us to focus on, tomorrow and our future will be taken care of if the lens we choose to see it through is Kingdom. That my friends is a goal that will take a life time to walk out, but a journey that will be worth each day as it revealed.

May the Kingdom of God chase each of you into the day your face tomorrow, and may He remind you to seek it and its righteousness first.  PEACE.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A day of Rest, Reflection, and Refreshment

Well, as i begin my blog.  I have to laugh at myself.  Because there are so many items to catch up on, that at first it may not seem that my day was one of rest at all.  However, today was just that, a day of rest. I got to sleep in with the drizzle of rain, Justus and i rested in his room for a while today, and much of what i did around the house was really just hanging out.  So it was a refreshing day.

Spent some time with Jerry Davis today from Grassland Heights Baptist Church.  We reviewed the first version of our itinerary for camp, and even began to assign leaders to the different areas of responsibility.  Our camp theme for his camp this year is "Taproot".  Jerry tells the story of a tree at his home in Texas.  The actual type of tree alludes me at the moment, however bottom line because of the dryness of his area of the world. This type of tree only typically lasts about 10+ years, but the one that was in his front yard was over 40 years old.  The neighbors were convinced that the roots of this tree had tapped into some sort of constant water source underground.  So many of our students that walk through student ministry stay with the group for their years in school, but often don't plant deep roots in their love for Jesus.  So as they leave the shelter of the constant rain of student ministry, they find themselves in new dry land, and with short roots, many, upon many find themselves with their world of faith and belief in God falling and failing.  Its a story that is repeated at an alarming rate in this country. So our goal this summer is to help each student tap their personal root of love for Jesus with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, so that we will see bunches of lives tied to Him for generations to come.
To give Jerry some quick props, if you don't know Jerry and all the resources he represents for Inter-linc, while also being a Good husband and father, and a FT Youth Pastor, it would be worth your time to get to know him over a cup of coffee, or through FB, or even at Inter-linc.  Bottom line if you are a YP looking for every good resource to help you in this journey, Jerry should be one of your guys.  
you can get the rest of his info from there.

Also received an email from my buddy Jared Miller today.  He leads an organization in East Africa called Keza.  Keza helps women and their families, find ways to remove themselves from poverty, by taking products they can create and make even better, and creating a market for these products and distribution routes for the products.  Keza's first project comes from a large number of women in Rwanda who create the most beautiful necklaces out of paper beads.  My wife has 3 or 4 thanks to Jared, and she adores them. Jared and his partner in crime Ilea are doing a wonderful work for the Lord in East Africa, and the Lord will often bring them up in my mind to pray for during my studies.  Like most in the world, the perception of this economic climate has caused fear, and so their non-profit is feeling the pinch, however to quote his email "We'll make it though, We always do." That's what i love about Jared, he doesn't just know Jeremiah 29:11, but he knows what comes with those promises, that is verses 12 - 14. Yes, you will find me, says the Lord. And when you find Jesus, you will make it.  If you want to check out more about what they are up to just go to www.keza.com.

Part of our reflection today, was running a few errands.  Stopping by Barnes and Noble to pick up another copy of Wild Goose Chase to give away.  Speaking of Barnes, am i the only one that goes in there wondering if there is enough life in me to read and devour everything in that store that catches my attention.  I am not talking ADD here, i mean truly, from books with incredible pics of pet cats (yeah i dig em, they have personality, call a cat with "here boy" and see if they don't give you the international peace sign.. random i know), to destinations i have yet to travel to, to studies about the elders of the faith, to books about books of the bible, to all the children's stories that i have yet to read to my sons.  From Barnes to Sams Club to buy bulk, to Target, and we ended the evening by running to Fido's downtown, just the 4 of us enjoying some end of day treats.  If you visit us here in Nash Vegas, i want to suggest a few places to be sure to stop by.  During the day, The Frist Center, BiCentenniel Park, and if you go south of town, The Factory.  At Night, for dinner DaVinci's for pizza, then for dessert and atmosphere Fido's, if it's nice, sit outside, 21st ave in the evening is great. 

Jess and I also found out that our friends the Hollis' are headed to Mexico next week.  Along with leading a family with 3 kids, and running a highly successfully Landscape Venture Company, Coaching, Mentoring and serving the churches Youth Ministry, you get the picture, their a pretty amazing family. Chris and Colleen lead "Embraced By Hope" which serves orphans in Russia on the east side of the country currently.  It is where they got their son Carson from a few years back. However the Lord has also led them to a group that is helping orphans in Mexico.  With all that is happening in that part of the world, seems a number of doors were if-fy the past week or so, but now the Lord has seemed to take care of those issues, and is leading them to see how they can serve next.  To learn more check out www.embracedbyhope.org. 

Since we are on orphans for a moment.  My buddy Adam who is a YP in Detroit and his wife are getting ready to adopt 2 children from Rwanda.  I learned there are over 1 million orphans in that country.  However Rwanda does not want to work through US agencies, instead, if individual families do the hard work to get through all the paperwork to make an adoption happen, they choose to work with you directly.  Pretty amazing, if the Lord were to prompt you in that direction, just drop me a line, i will get you in touch with Adam asap. He has got some great stories and contacts for you.

Like many out there.  I continue to gain insight about my learning style.  So i am constantly digesting material in very short spurts.  Which causes me to be in about 3-7 books at a time (props to long time Pastor L.H. Hardick for making this process ok in my life). Some friends of ours, Jason and Mysti White, gave me a book called "Stripped, by Jud Wilhite", a while back.  I have with good intentions put it by my bed stand for a while now, however just recently i put it in the car, and began to read it at any red light or 3 minutes in a parking lot waiting for a friend.  The book is about Jud's journey serving Central Church in Las Vegas Nevada.  And it has caused me more than once to wish my heart would struggle for hurting of this world more than it does.  I want to warn you, if you are religious, this book IS NOT for you.  That is not a slam, or put down, just reality.  Only if for Freedom you are set Free, will this book make you hungry. 

Which leads me to my close, though i have soooo much more to say (as all my friends know, i have no idea when to shut up), however Jess just came in with her last quote from W.G.C. and its perfect to share ... - In the words of another daring twentieth-century missionary, C.T. Studd, "Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bells; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."

I pray that my life's reflection will point more to actions that live in the above statement, and not just my thoughts and great beliefs.

May the Kingdom be evident to each of you, as your love for Jesus spurns you on. PEACE!