Tuesday, December 2, 2014

To Be Connected!

First, let me say this is not an advertisement for one of the greatest hamburger places ever.  Hartell's is located at The Warf in SanDestin, Florida and is a retro hamburger establishment that my family craves from the moment we learn that we get a chance to visit our closest friends condo in this amazing gated community of SanDestin.

The food is better than good...the fries are perfect!  The service is amazing.  With all of these characteristics this post sounds more commercialized than theological...Humm!

When people come to church they come to be connected.  They come to feel the presence of God, but also to be connected to mother, father, sister, brother, or any number of mentors special to who they are or have become.  They come to be connected to...to find connection with...!

I am at the beach planning for the end of this year and the start of the next, and my family left Sunday to start their normal school/ work week and although I have much work to do...I miss them.  So, what did I do?  I went to Hartell's to be connected!  

Don't underestimate the importance of church, especially this time of the year.  We have the advantage of allowing those that God has entrusted in our care to be connected, which is exactly what each of us need!  "Comfort Food"...more like comfort connection.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Day 40 Doxology:  Well…there you go.  We are at the end of our Lenten Season.  It's a season that mimicked the the early church, and a way to teach new converts and those that had been separated from the church about the love of God.  Moving forward to the contemporary Church, I think we (The Summit) have come full circle since inception.  I think what we've done (in Jesus' name) has been to share how God has been in, and through, the life of our congregation.  I pray you can back away and see God at work in each Doxology Day Moment?

To close out this season of doxologies, I have to return to God's greatest gift to me (other than Christ)…my girls!  Tonight's doxology moment was like compounded interest (Go Dawn!).  Here is what I mean…our church made arrangements for my family to spend time together in a Chalet at Guntersville State Park.  This meant that we would have to spend time at a meal and in a different sleeping arrangement than usual...that meant communication.

We spent time talking-unheard of today as they age rapidly into young adulthood.  Tonight's meal was as it was suppose to be…laughter and conversation.  Although this was the greatest earthly experience of my Lenten Season…what I am about to share speaks to our theological need.

We (my family) were eating a wonderful meal together.  On our table we had cheeseburger and fries; Blackened Grilled Fish with all sides; Chicken Quesadilla and chips, Buffalo Wings and fried potato wing chips (Amazing!), and an Angus Filet with salad and crawfish soup.  Though our meal is not the moment of praise (Though maybe it should)…in part, it was when my wonderful daughters arrived at the lodge that began the 1st leg of my praise to God evening. We were ushered to our table and at a point when the setting sun was too great they lowered the blinds.  This was received with great relief because the setting sun was too great.  All I heard was ahhhh.

The heart of my doxology moment came moments later.  When the Sun hid just below the horizon, and the blinds were raised.  This meant that someone was eagerly watching God at work, and the moment my girls heard the blinds being raised they stretched to see the Sun…a truly reflective doxology moment.
In the church world we look for those that stretch to see God at work.  The excitement is irreplaceable.  The problem comes when the church cannot replace what they feel is God's greatest productivity - Grace!  What if everyone in the church stood and reached to see the glory of God's work?  What if half would be so willing?

I close out this Lenten season with a picture that almost brings to close all my thoughts, joys, and tears…but, really the sun must set to rise again.  So, we'll see where God is tomorrow as we celebrate God's Son and His connection with the Sunrise.  God is good…the way that I know...is because I see God in each of you! Happy Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2014

An Alphabet of Doxologies

Day 39 Doxology: This has really been a day of doxology moments.  Today, I was reminded that I often have more than one "Praise to God" moments throughout my day, and I should be made to report my day's event to the church so that each of you could witness God at work through our church.  So, if you'll grant me the privilege, I'd like to share a few that ranked at the top of my list.

In the very early morning, Rhonda Dawson (A daycare mom and Summit faithful worshipper) gave birth to her 2nd son, Coburn (7lb. 11oz at 1:42am).  So, when I took care of few loose ends, I headed to Marshal South for a look-see.  The baby was beautiful and mom looked equally picturesque. Doxology moment 39-A.
Afterwards, I stood outside the hospital and had an equally incredible time hearing how a special person's life had moved closer to God, and her faith journey was strengthen in part because of our Lenten Devotional and largely because she set goals for her Lenten Season and kept them.  How can that not be a great doxology moment?  To know that the Season of Lent now meant something more to this person than it had in the past (Sorry, no picture). Doxology moment 39-B.

Next it was off to the office.  Wait, not much of a doxology moment there unless you are reminded that it's a great office...heated and illumined by each of you and your faithfulness.  Also, I am reminded that there is a generous man in town that offers the building because he cares.  That's worth our praise! Doxology moment 39-C.

I traveled home to pick up my wife and drive to Gadsden to watch a movie…but wait again!  This movie was the same movie that J-3 watched hours earlier and shared with our family that she was on a Spiritual high (The movie is God's Not Dead).  It's pretty excited when one of your daughters feels the Holy Spirit connect is such a powerful way.  Doxology moment 39-D.

Somewhere between home and the movie Jenny Franks sent a FB message about Raigin's project at school.  You could hear the excitement in her words and the Easter understanding in Raigin's story.  Both the excitement and the story could be attributed to Orange -our Children's Ministry strategy.  Orange is in it's 4th month, and it is a huge success for our church.  We will soon re-evaluate to meet the needs of the growth and ask more of our adults to volunteer.  All we need at this point is a little tweaking, and it will burst at the seams.  Raigin is a testimony to Orange's success.  By now you should be praising God hands raised and standing in a chair.  Doxology 39-E.

Finally, the end of my lengthy discourse...I'm  close to the end of this doxology day…almost.  You, you, and you gave the Jones a very unexpected gift of love.  A gift neither my wife, my daughters, nor myself will ever forget.  My Summit family provided my family with a chalet for the end of this Holy Week.  You would think that in and of itself would be enough, but sweet angels went to the trouble to buy snacks and more snack...pack them in a tub to provide the most outlandish example of love one could ever show to an overweight middle age man, his smoking' hot wife and his three beautiful teenage daughters.  Can you understand what the visual of this love offering means to my daughters?  Doxology moment 39-F.

This might be the only time it's great to end on an "F".  I have shared 6 amazing doxology moments from my day (Doxology moment 39-A, B, C, D, E, and F).  How many doxology moments was I unable to recall?  How many did I overlook?  The truth is God was in every aspect of my day, and I bet if you were keeping score you'd find that each doxology moment from my day was really because of each of you.  That is how we can love our neighbor -by providing glimpse of God/ examples of Christ whenever you can. Doxology moment 39-G -God is good; all the time! And all the time; God is good!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Restorative Soul

Day 38 Doxology:  Lately, there seems to be a "Children's" theme goin' around the church.  So here's mine.  This is Holy Week.  And…today I was able to serve the children in the daycare Holy Communion.  They loved every minute of it and did a great job explaining the Holy Trinity (kidding).  They got the gist -Jesus loves them.

Since Easter was in the sir, Ryder felt compelled to elaborate after the amazing liturgy from Holy Communion…that's just the way we roll.

My Doxology came between Ryder's laughs, and when I realized God has given us our plot in our community.  We are a church of children.  We felt compelled to start a daycare, we felt compelled to enhance our children's ministry, and we enjoy with great enthusiasm our children being a part of our worship services.  They lead us in the most amazing prayers of simplicity -"Thank you God for Captain America and Bat Man!"  They seem to not matter that one represents DC Comics and the other Marvel.  If we want to be clear, it is the children that teach us.

That simple prayer merging comic competitors should be at the basis of all our prayers…maybe not DC Comics and Marvel, but for those that share differences.  And, in the end, we say to ourself, "he restores our soul."  My doxology is for all our Summit children.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Imperfection is Beautiful

Day 37 Doxology:  Before I begin let me take a minute to apologize for today's post.  At first, one might find it difficult to see the doxology in the story I am about to share.  But…one did, and I hope others can?

One of the things that I do is prepare bulletins for our Sunday worship service.  You know worship…a time when you can praise God with your complete presence -voice, thoughts, witness, praise, perfection.  This past weekend's bulletin was similar to the previous weeks except for one important element -my typo!

In the bulletin, there is a song list.  I like including the title of the songs that our amazing praise team sings so that our congregation can keep records of their favorites.  I've heard from more than one that they like it.  Here's my error…This weekend we sung Agnus Dei.  No big deal, right?  For your evening pleasure imagine Agnus without the "g".  Yep!  There is a God…and He has too much to do to be worrying about proofreading our bulletin.

So, by now you might be wondering where in this story is the doxology…I think it's full of "Praise to God" moments for us all.  First, the joy that others got once they realized I was human…not perfect. Second, their acceptance of my mistake, and their willingness to forgive. Third, not taking themselves too seriously.  I think we acknowledge that we serve a God that accepts imperfection.

When I arrived at The Summit in Jan."10, the youth were repainting a room they were planning on using as their own.  One of them wrote "Imperfection is Beautiful."  I remember how comfortable that made me feel.  Now that is worthy of our praise.  To those youth; to our church; and to the world…our church believes "Imperfection is Beautiful!  Lucky for me!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Project Remember

Day 36 Doxology: I've had an amazing evening laughing with the girls.  While we were joking and laughing, J-2 was working on a project for Anatomy.  She was asked to create a cartoon that described the blood flow thru the heart.  Basically, a tribute to the way the heart functions -a great learning technique.  What she created was soooooo funny, and so perfect for today's doxology.

Using her humor and wit she developed something incredible…using her heart, she made me proud.  When I turned the cover page I saw where she had dedicated her project to my dad. You know…I often wonder what are their (my daughters) memories of my dad.  Do they remember he doted over each of them in a unique way that was special to each girl.  Do they remember that he treated them like little princess.  Does J-2 understand what a gift she gave her dad because she remembers.  Because of her gift she has allowed me to reconnect with years of memories…and, it's been too long.  He would love this project!  What do you need to remember?

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Clean Path

Day 35 Doxology:  We are nearing the end of my 40 days of "Praise to God" moments, and I am getting more excited than ever in the way I am experiencing God.  There is never a more important time to witness God's handiwork than "now".  A take from the Methodist version of "The Kingdom of God is both the here and the now."  Music to my ears if I must say?

Today's doxology moment snuck up on me as quiet as a church mouse.  I was searching for the moment to share how God was visible at The Summit…almost forcing God's hand to be revealed.  When there it was, without a signature from the culprit.

For the past year, on and off, I've been shoveling pea-gravel from our daycare's playground off the sidewalk for a couple of reasons: 1) limit liability, and 2) to make a positive 1st impression.  Today I received a surprise.

I had an early Bible study on the book of Romans at the district office and drove to the church around lunch.  When I got out of my car, I saw our sidewalk like a first-time-visitor would see it…a clean path.  I had an uncontrollable smile.

I am constantly asked to lead others.  Often, I am asked to critique leadership styles.  I have a dear friend that I have often reminded, she exhibits a passive-aggressive type personalty and believes that others should know her thoughts while in return want to honor her wishes.  The truth is…they love her, but do not know her wishes.  For my friend, it is assumed that no one cares that she has done everything under the sun with absolutely NO help.

I have another great friend that say, "it takes one to know one."  Meaning...if someone suffers from a lack of confidence (substitute any personality problem) then they can recognize others with the same problem immediately.  I might have recognized my friends problem of passive-aggressiveness, because I have the same problem ( a lot of problems and a lot of friends-praise God)?

Here's the deal (You've been waiting on this haven't you?), someone recognized a need and started shoveling the need.   That (this) sidewalk was as clean as a whistle, and inviting to anyone that would want to visit our amazing worshipful service.

I praise God for the angel (unisex) that saw a need and acted on the need.  They are Christ to me…I love my church.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sacrificial Saturday

Day 34 Doxology:  Today was a mix of emotions.  I had a prior commitment, but due to time restraints because of district pre-conference meeting we needed to get some things done around the church cosmetically.  Out of need, several stepped up their effort.  We scheduled a work day.  Because other unmentionables we didn't heavily promote the work day.  That means we would be working with a limited staff.  I found out the "limited staff" was in words only.

When I finished with my Emmaus Team Meeting I stopped by the church, and I could't believe all that was accomplished.  Let's be clear…today's doxology is not about the work, but about the people.

In my life, I hate to ask people to go to any trouble for me.  Realizing that today's friends worked hard all day for God and not me doesn't lesson my love for each of them.  It makes me think about the future of God's touch in our community.

We are all called to be ministers…Our motto, "Every Member is a Minister!"…if we believe that/ this then ministry is shared.  A lot like today's hard work!

I give thanks and praise to God for everyone that put their Saturday on hold so that others can see how much we care about the place where we worship.  What we do matters, and our efforts build roads to success. I didn't take a picture because I didn't want to leave anyone out…here is a clip art to remind us that it takes everyone to complete our goals in life.  Thank you team.

Friday, April 11, 2014

When First Isn't First

Day 33 Doxology:  We are near the end of our Lenten doxologies, but before we come to a close, I have a doxology that includes J-3.  For those of you who are keeping score, this should make you very happy.  Although, it wasn't that I caved to pressure…in the words of E.F. Hutton, She earned it.

Tonight J-3 was at a local track meet where she was required to run in the 300m hurdles.  This is her first year to compete in the hurdles, and I have to say she has done pretty well not to have been instructed regarding the technique.

After a discouraging 100m hurdles, she set out to have a better showing in the 300m…and a better showing indeed.

As parents, we often wonder what kind of character our child will display when tested.  We hope that they will rise to the occasion and deliver that baby, colt, or calf without hesitation.  Really?  Really, I just would hope they would call someone to deliver that baby, colt, or calf without shying away from the need.

Tonight J-3 was tested, and I have to say, She smoked it!  She competed at a high level, but with compassion.  After crossing the finish line in first place, she realized that a fellow competitor had fallen on one of the hurdles.  J-3 turned around and went back to help her competition then jogged across the finish line with her.

I think competition is important, but the older I get the more I realize our greatest victory might come from our willingness to come in first and last.  I don't deserve J-3, but do we ever really get what we deserve?  Praise God for the moment that I can raise her arm in victory, not for her place, but for her stance in life.  A teared up father says, Amen!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Clear Memories

Day 32 Doxology: Many times we advance in years and the memories of people that God placed in our life fades.  The details of their face loses sharpness.  But…sometimes there are some that have meant so much you, and your family, that their memory could never be taken from you.

When Shannon and I began our married life together we knew that one of the first things we would do would be to find a church home.  Little did we know the impact that family would have on our lives.

15 years later, when I decided to get a Masters in Divinity (Mdiv) and enter into the pulpit, they made sure that my family was taken care of.  The Men's Club of Lester Memorial helped us financial, Spiritually, and physically making sure they were to be Christ to the Jones.  We love each and everyone of them.

I was able to spend time with them tonight.  Every Spring there is an annual Men's Club campout.  It is held in the campgrounds at Guntersville State Park.  Each year there's golf, fishing, eating, and a lot of laughter.  It is a time of digging up old stories and old memories that are as unforgettable as their faces.  These guys are Christ to me.

Being with them tonight made me think about my investment in others.  Get this…when I Baptize someone these men are present.  When I serve Holy Communion these men are in attendance.  They are a part of everything I do, because they invested in me.  Without them, I could have never left my family every week to attend graduate school in Atlanta and focus on God's calling.  Am I investing in others the way they invested in me?  Are you?  Their memories will never fade.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peace Like This

Day 31 Doxology:  Today a small child in our  church was scheduled for surgery to correct the alignment of her eyes.  It's funny how you never really noticed there was a problem, but the doctors, mom and dad, and the growth percentile charts understood the problem and feared that it would get worse or lead to greater problems down the road.  So, there was a need, and there was a way to solve it - surgery.

I believe no one likes or wants surgery.  You don't wake up that morning and say, I think I'll schedule surgery for myself, or someone I love, for tomorrow.  Let's see...I'll have the doctor's office demand I go without  food, take my blood, require a healthy co-pay, and insist I get up at 4am to hurry up and wait for a 6am surgery slot.  I believe no one wants this, but sometime it's necessary.

Though some things are necessary, it still doesn't mean that we don't worry about them, or stress over the results.  As a pastor, I pray for grace that is accompanied by patience through it all…I pray for a peace.  Peace is a powerful thing, even through surgery.  I wished we could have peace in other areas of our life.  I wished we could have a peace about life changing decisions that we make; peace for the future; peace that we are loved; peace that we will always be loved; peace that we are worthy of love…you are (we are!)!

If we could just tackle life the same way a child tackles life, or the same way a child trust their dad and mom to take care of them we could limit our stress and anxiety then peace could freely flow.  What would that picture look like?  I think it would like this.

It's really funny how today's pictures simply just touched my soul.  It gave me a peace.  If we could trust as a child then life would be amazing.  This isn't an excuse to live life childish, that's different.  I'm talking about peace-like trust that things will work out….knowing that my Father in Heaven has this.  What would that picture look like?  I think it would look like this.

This picture is a Picture of Jaycee from the recovery room sent by her mom via Snapchat.  This is ultimate peace in the wake of the unknown, and yes, with medicine. However, it still calms my heart, and I bet it would calm yours if you trust it?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Day 30 Doxology: I have spent the majority of my day with my face in a book or staring at a computer screen.  That makes is hard, or at least limits my chances, to see God at work first hand throughout the day.  But, then I got home.

When I fIrst got home I went on my usual jaw gritting walk through a messy house wondering how can we let stuff get so stacked up…I hate clutter!  I DISLIKE clutter.  I started spouting orders like a General during a smoked engulfed fight in the trenches.  "Pick this up!" "Put that here!" Nobody likes that and it's exhausting.  More times than not, by the close of the scrimmage, I lose the battle.  If you have never felt the feeling…it feels like I lose the battle.  Tonight something eased my heart. It was God speaking through the General's orders.

When it came time to settle down for some hot tub time with the General's wife, I checked the chemicals in the hot tub and the revelation began.  There is a balance where the water in a hot tub, or pool, is perfect.  When something's wrong, I check the balance with what I call the "stick".

This "stick" allows me to measure the amount of bromine, chlorine, hardness, and ph of the water that I enjoy if it's only 103 degrees.  When something is off, the water is not balance, and I can tell something is different.  Like a father that is always concerned…only concerned if the house is clean very day when he gets home.  Can you see where I'm going?

If we go through life and we are too religious then we miss the personal relationship of Jesus.  If we are free spirited enough to say love, love, love without the love of discipline then we miss out on the Father.  If we study love, and hold to the letter of the law, but fail to put wheels on our faith then we miss out on The Holy Spirit. This is just one example.

We need balance in just about everything in life -diet, exercise, study, work, family, church, joy, pain, sleep, pizza, pork etc., etc. (I think you get the picture?).

Take a picture of your life and tell me if you have a balance of blessings.  You may be like me…you may need to omit some things and add other things.  Don't you think that Lent is a great time to test the water.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Texting Goodness

Day 29 Doxology: I have missed 2 opportunities to share "praise to God" moments.  Both days were packed full…funny thing is I saw God in several instances it's just that when the day came to a close my motor shut down and before you knew it I was out of time.

I witnessed God Friday when I was visiting with friends while the patriarch of their family underwent open heart surgery.  Together we laughed and laughed while in a room, not so far a way, doctors and nurses repaired and mended the years of someone's life.

Then Saturday began with an early Emmaus Team Meeting.  Afterwards, a much later church Easter Egg Hunt complete with free snow cones, warm popcorn, chocolatey treats, and fruity-sugary hard candy…and, oh yeah…kids, kids, and a lot of kids.  While everything about that annual event was a "doxology moment".  Maybe my favorite piece of the pie was the adults in service volunteering their day for their children and other's children that they did not even know.  Now that is true grace.

And, now today…I have pledged to contemplate a day's doxology images for the sharing.  First, let me tell you what it was not.  It's not the soup my wife made me eat to help lose weight.  Not very good, not very chewy, and not very manly.  It's just not a doxology moment.

So, if being in the office the bulk of the day tethered to some tasteless soup was my plot, then the doxology moments were going to be slim pickings. Well, at least until after an Administrative Meeting and the ride home.

While I was rubbing my head because of the headache created from the lack of food, and trying hard to focus on the road, I received a text.  I PULLED OFF THE ROAD and what I read moved me above everything in my day, and yes…even Shannon's soup.

This is the text:

This person is right on more than one level: 1) Sometimes we do need to point out for our brothers and sisters where God is at work the most (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  2) It is all about a family…the body of Christ -Brothers and Sisters spurring on one another, and working to bring about The Kingdom of God here on earth (1 Corinthians 12:27).  I can't help but to hear Sister Sledge singing, "We are family…get up everybody…dance" Now that is a text worth dancing about.  Thank you for the smile…and the tear!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Best Avocado Ever!

Day 26 Doxology: Let me tell you about the funniest luncheon that I have had in years…it was Chinese if you're wondering.

Today, I had lunch with some "district peeps" and it was amazing.  I know of a Chinese buffet that serves some better than average sushi.  Which means in code…I won't die from eating raw fish or crab in large quantity, but the rest of the bullet is amazing.  Even if I am a sushi fan, I'll settle for the buffet if it won't kill me (Have you seen me?).

What made today so funny was some of Blount County's favorite.  Deep from the hilly woods of Blount County came a family that brought me so much joy that I can't share the amount of food that I gave up on because of laughing.  It even started the most amazing conversation.

A lady (not talking about age) adorn with every bracelet and ring she owned, her favorite camouflage shirt, her biggest hair garnered my attention with a yelp.  Her beef, when she demanded my attention, was chased immediately by a hot cup of coffee.  First of all, I love coffee more than most, and I have yet to eat Chinese food with a huge cup of my blackest best.  I immediately thought what was she thinking…who does that? Then I heard her cry…"That is the hottest avocado I've ever ate!"
I glanced at the lady at the table next to mine, and thought Avocado (it's still not registering)?  However, I had a lot of distractions on the plate in front of me...(Have you seen me?).  Without further delay, here's the deal.

When the lady commented to the people on her table, I started thinking.  I started watching the people eating at the table with the deep wooded "Blount Countian," and they were laughing uncontrollably.  And, I'll admit, I'm usually pretty quick but I felt the answer slowly flood my body, from my head to my toes, and an immediate grin overcome me. What she thought was avocado (or guacamole dip) was wasabi.  And in her love of avocado (guacamole dip) she had a double heaping of the hottest sauce on the buffet.  I immediately started thinking about the way my overindulgence of wasabi would take my breath and water my eyes, and then I would add more soy sauce to tone it down.  I...bet…she…was…on...fire.  And, to chase her wasabi with coffee seemed less than pleasurable (for her, anyway).

And, or course the usual connection is to our church…How many of us act on our own confidence and find that our actions have left us with watery eyes and a less than pleasurable palate?   We all make mistakes, and in our mistakes..thank God for grace…but…what about our next decision?  Can we learn to evaluate our choices and then make the more enjoyable decision?  Wasabi with soy is amazing with fresh sushi and ginger…maybe life is a combination of "correct" choices that gives us the "best" pleasure in life.

I wished you could have seen her…she was on fire!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What a Day!

Day 25 Doxology: What a day!  I have spoken with many of you, and you've either expressed or exhibited signs of a stressful day.  In many ways I share your feelings.

I could easily add a picture of several conversations that I had today from family, church family, to subordinates even friends, but it seems less than appropriate.  I could share a moment of praise from emails, phone conversations, and yes even texts from so many. However, as great as they were…they just would't do.  I could add pictures of the visitors in my office that just make me feel better and they don't even know how or why…I don't even know how or why, but they just do.  I could make a collage of pictures of any or all the things I just mentioned and it still would't seem appropriate though each is worthy of praise.

The stress of the day culminated with the news reports of another Fort Hood shooting. If I seem less than cheerful it's because of the feelings of the families that either know, or are scared of knowing, the status of their family members stationed at Fort Hood.  If I seem less than satisfied with the world…it is because of the families in my church that are pressed with the idea of their loved ones being deployed, and their fear starts the moment they walk out the door.  If I seem less that continent, it's because I am reminded that we live in a different world than the world of my childhood.

My doxology moment today is the reinstatement of Matthew 28:18-20.  In this scripture I am reminded that though I don't have this (whatever this is) God does…Hey brother, calm your heart, 'cause I am with you always, and yes, even to the end of the age.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Snapchat Surprise

Day 24 Doxology:  Yep!  If you're counting I've missed a few days.  However, it's not because I haven't been seeing great Doxology moments…it's mainly because I share a problem that many of you have experienced…too little time to put God first.

The Good News of the Bible is simply God forgives all!  Maybe that's my message tonight above all.

Today's doxology comes to you without a picture….well, almost.  At least I've included a logo of the app I want to talk about.

Here's the deal…this app for your phone provides a chance to snap a picture then send it to be viewed for a specified period of time (ex: 1 sec. up to 10sec.). In my daughters case she always uses a 5sec. viewing.  In addition to the image sent, you can write or draw on the picture you send to a friend.  It gets to be pretty fun.

Over Spring Break, I asked J-2 to teach me about the app. She did…I downloaded the app, and we were off snapping pictures and drawing on tourist's faces.  It was a great time "communicating" with my teenage daughter at the expense of others.

This is my doxology moment…this morning she paused while walking into school to snap  quick picture then she sent a snapchat of her smiling face with the caption "Good Morning!" It was a great surprise even if I cannot show it to you because I could only view it for 5sec.

It made me think…have you ever not enjoyed something for fear it wouldn't last?  When she sent me the picture…when I viewed her picture, I remember being consumed that it wouldn't last but for only 5 secs.  It almost allowed me to miss the beauty of the moment.

I pray we all pause during the things we are involved in to enjoy the beauty of the moment.  I pray that the fear of the joyful thing fading doesn't consume us all.

God Bless every moment you share as a blessing from God, I know I will.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Hairy Vision!

Day 21 Doxology: If you're keeping score I missed yesterday's Doxology moment...Please forgive me God? 

The family has enjoyed themselves this week and now the week is fast coming to a close.  In our exuberance, we are certain of our plans and where we are heading in the week, month, year, and life.  We go to great lengths to act as if we are completely confident in our planning that we seldom have patience of anyone that thinks different than ourselves. When that happens we find ourselves at the mercy of others. 

The following image is a picture of J-2 and Clair-Bear on the golf cart headed home from the Warf.  They couldn't see but trusted even the unlikeliest candidate, big brother -Big Mac- to drive them home.
I couldn't help to think how many of us depend on others to guide us in this world when we are ultimately responsible for our own plot in life. We all find ourselves blinded by the smallest of things and simply need to remove the things that hinder us from seeing 20/20. God help us to develope our own Spiritual Disciplines.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Over or Under -Communication

Day 19 Doxology: I'm a bit late on yesterday's God moment...it's more like a revelation.  And, since this is my blog I believe I'm afforded a few luxuries.

Last night we ate a late supper at Bayou Bills, a seafood favorite.  We were seated by the hostess at a round table -equal chairs for each person.  For some reason I was surprised at how nice it was to see everyone and the freedom to have a community conversation...with one exception...the teenage cell phone (dah, dah, dah!)!

Parent immediatly involved the "no cell phone use" and after the usual addiction denial the conversation was back on track.

After what seemed like minutes to me and hour to J-2 she got up and went to the restroom.  After a lengthy stay she finally returned and when
I saw her I realized the reason for her extended absence...busted!
So, here is my revelation.  Today, it's has become increasingly difficult to have the private time aside to "be still" with God.  What if we used the same enthusiastic persuit with God that today's teenagers use with their cell phone usage.

At some point today enthusiastically demand yourself to "be still" and have a conversation with God.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Morning Manna

Day 18 Doxology: For many of us we look for God in all things and at all times throughout the day. We do so regardless of success or failure. Regardless of our day, it began with the expectation of God.  

My day this morning began very early in San Antonio, TX and ended 12 hours later in San Destin, FL.  We drove and drove, and I'm not certain that I witnessed God in the cars, pick-ups, and Tractor-Trailers that I saw through our 5 state trip. However, because I saught God first the gift was waiting. And, it carried me throughout my trip.

Take just a moment to give God the first fruit of your mornings...it might be enough manna to carry you throughout your day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Perception vs. Reality

Day 17 Doxology: Have you ever had to discern between perception and reality?

Perception for the Church is we are strong and growing. Our youth are learning about ways to strengthen their relationship with God while maneuvering the potholes of college. Our young adults are learning healthy ways to fulfill their commitment they made, while as a youth, as they move toward more investing decisions regarding the family. The perception is the Church in America is growing.

The reality is the church is not growing.  Maybe the Church in other countries is growing, and lives are being transforms, but not in America.  The reality is our youth are more concerned with the tangible rather than the intangible.  So, as they grow and decide if church is for them, they review their past experiences and determine Church is irrelevant.  This revelation came from years of surveying my youth and extensive work done by The Barna Group. The reality is the Church in America is not growing.

Now, moving forward...today, while on the River Walk in San Antonio, TX I sat under an overpass as I waited for the rain to stop.  I sat with my family and friends and enjoyed the amazing company of both.  Seldom can you sit and waste time and it not matter.  The truth is it was life-giving (A term I use often).  While we sat and watched the world walk beneath the overpass where we were resting, I noticed that some passersby would glance at my family and me, while others would fixate their eyes on the river.  They represented their own race, age, relationships, social economical status, and other (I don’t want to leave anyone out)…BUT, there was this one guy.

My perception of this guy was immediate.  He was holding an umbrella and continued to hold the umbrella as he walked toward me.  It’s kind of like the guy that sways with the beat of the music, but once the music stops he realized he had continued. swaying  This guy had walked with his wife out of the rain underneath the overpass and stood with the umbrella in full force.  My perception of this guy was, “lacking!”

The reality is while we were sitting and watching everyone, and waiting on the boat cruise to re-open this man, his wife (pushing an new born), and about 3-year-old son walked into view.  Watching people, as I do, I couldn’t help but to noticed that this mom and dad had decked this child out in a child’s version of the “Letterman’s Jacket”, baseball cap, and the latest tennis shoes. They wanted the very best for this child and in life.  HE was going to be an all-star whether he liked it or not. The dad stood underneath the overpass and held that flippin’ umbrella while he and his wife were fixated on their son.  And I’ll tell you this; he let his son climb the wall to visit the duck that had attracted his son, and then he allowed the son to climb back down without rushing to catch him or to lift him or to nudge him toward the success of his venture.  He loved him enough to let him fail…I stated to think…Could I?  I was impressed!

Now, my point…perception verses reality.  The perception was this dad didn’t have what it took to walk down the street –rain or shine –but the reality is he was a man being a dad and nothing was going to distract him from his son’s needs.  I think if the church had this dad leading the charge our children wouldn’t be leaving the Church, and I believe that to be…not perception…not reality…but I believe it to be a FACT!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bug Eyes

Day 16 Doxology:  Today, I was able to watch the eyes of my children widen with amazement.  However, if it was the New Orleans French Quarter that widened their eyes…Honestly, I might be messing up.  For two girls that grew up in a rural city of 7,000, half way between I-65 and I-59, they really got a picture of the world today that they had not experienced before today (Praise God).

They walked in amazement.  They ate food they had only heard their mom and dad talk about; they saw people acting like they had never heard their mom and dad not talk about, and they saw expressions of an artistic culture they never knew existed.  I wondered what their thoughts were as they settled down for bed at the end of our day?

I also wondered if the excitement I felt I as I watched them experience the French Quarter…they felt in me as I ate Catfish tonight.  I have traveled many places, and I have sampled food from all over the world.  I had the distinct joy of growing up in the south where everyone ate catfish often.  Tonight was a first.  At a fishing camp on a pass between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain, in Akers, LA, there is a restaurant called Middendorf's that produces the most amazing Fried Catfish.  This Fried Catfish was slithers of Catfish filets fried to a golden light brown.  It was cut so thin and fried so light that my eyes widen with amazement.  Later that night, as I sat in the stiff plastic chaired provided by the Hampton Inn after our meal, I recapped the day and had to laugh.

The teacher was taught a lesson.  I guess you’re never too old to be amazed about the world.  You might have experienced things that others never knew existed, but there is always more of life to experience.  The only stale life we experience…is the one we’ve created.  I cannot wait for tomorrow so that I can see more of God’s creation, and be amazed even more. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Lullaby

Day 15 Doxology: Almost halfway...but enough for today.  Today's  "praise be to God" moment comes at the end of many miles...for Pete's sake it's a bed, and I'm going to use it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Ant Farm

Day 14 Doxology: Can I say Ant Farm? I never could see the use, or the attraction, in the ant farm thing. However, I will say busy with a purpose does seen attractive to me.  I like having a job...I like knowing I can work the job, and everything works out (stellar first-child syndrome).  My dad would say, "make a plan; work the plan!"  The ants were working tonight!

Every month on our packing night for Blessings in a Backpack, I worry will everyone turnout to pack bags for the families in our community. I ask myself, "Is everyone too busy? Do they still think it is important?"  The truth is our church never disappoints!

Tonight's Doxology is a reminder that the answers to my questions are always, "Work the plan...like those crazy ants in that childhood 'Ant Farm'"!  The plan is "love your neighbor as yourself!"  Great job Church!

Chilling Praise! Burrrrr!

Day 13 Doxology:  Wow!  What a day of doxology moments when I can raise eyes and voice to God in praise and thanksgiving.  I could bear witness to J-2 being tapped into the National Honor Society (And, until later at The Summit this took the cake); my political conversation with David D. about America and “Mother Russia” (I think it was more about his being informed); My activities at The May’s home which was opened and welcoming with family love (but proved to be a bit chilling).

Before I go further, I think I need to comment on the “May’s Compound”!  It is a combination of serenity and contemplation.  I’m sure many will agree the serenity is confined to the “Hot Tube,” while the contemplation is because of the pressure of friends and cold water.   Either way, the ol’ Riverboat Captain and his lovely wife Nancy, opened their home to so many hopeful participants that would brave the challenge from friend and family.  Thank you Nancy and Joey May!

I included a video of the hopeful challenge to my wife (what was I thinking?), Olivia Wilks (Dang great job costing me money), and John Amos (pretty scared I’m goin’ to be tasered). However, that was not my “Doxology” moment.
It would be absolutely easy to pick the whole church doing something wild and crazy for our Daycare Ministry as my doxology moment.  I mean think about it…everyone in the church is in a buzz about their challenge or the completion of “The Challenge.”   Yet, I saw God in the laughter and communication in the ride home.

Everything that I've mentioned are, in their own right a true "Doxology Moment, " however, once we left the May’s, J-1 and I started home laughing and joking about what had just happened (Sorry, no picture).  We discussed who should be challenged and who would except such a challenge.  The older I get the more I value these moments with my children.  This could easily be an “Ah that’s nice moment,” but it’s so much more.  While I traveled home in my boxers wrapped in a blanket; our hair wet; waiting for our throats to be sore, waiting on the flu to accost our home, we could do nothing but realize that we had shared a moment together.  I thank God, and I thank Missy W. and my church family for allowing me this moment with my daughter. That is truly a moment of praise and thanksgiving that I am fast becoming a fan of anything family! I pray you are as well?  “Praise be to God from whom all Blessings flow...”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Mundane and Ordinary….NOT!

Day 12 Doxology: Meetings, phone calls, conversations, and interstate…really hard to see God in the mundane except that Scripture calls us to embrace the mundane and ordinary as holy and beautiful. (1 Thess. 4:11). 

My Doxology today is definitely not mundane.  In fact, it is so “not” mundane that I really don’t what it is?  This picture is an image of connection, whether they’ll admit it or not…it’s family having fun doing who knows what.  I think it involved a challenge and really cold water; bookend by laughter; finished up with a communal hot tube. Still not real sure what I’m seeing, but it looks fun. 

Yep! Scripture tells us that God is in the mundane and ordinary, but there is nothing mundane or ordinary about this group, and I see God all around.

Monday, March 17, 2014

God's Love - Domestic and Abroad!

Day 11 Doxology: Today, I first experienced God while reading JAmos' "Day 11 Devotional" available to the whole church.  Then, I experienced God at our Mountain Lakes District Roman's Bible study.  After wards, I witnessed God through your assorted text messages and emails from the weekend and the start of your week.  So many ways to experience God now that I am open to God at work during Lent, but…maybe my biggest doxology came from my amazing wife.  Before you cringe wait to hear how.

I received a wrapped gift today that represented the culmination of months of secretive work to please one of my deepest passions…sailing!  That's right sailing.  Since our first sailing class together, Shannon and I wanted to take the next class in the series so that chartering sailing vessels abroad would be made easier.  Well, at least I wanted to take the next class.  The class description was defined as a "live aboard" for 5 days to complete the 103 and 104 Coastal Sailing Classification.  As I shared, when I got home Shannon (like a kid in candy store) was eager to give me the books that I would use to prepare me for my class and a note that stated that she had almost paid for the already scheduled mid-week class.  To be clear, the doxology moment was the undeserving, unconditional love that my wife continually surprises me with daily.  No way do I deserve this kind of love.  Thank you God for giving me a mate to share your love.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Church Transformed

Day 10 Doxology: How many times have you heard people say, “People never cease to amaze me!  Well, you know?  People never cease to amaze me…Summit People, that is.

Recently, we have had a young expected mom become a regular at our church.  And she has enthusiastically participated in worship and our children’s ministry.  So, when a member of our church heard that she was going to throw her own baby shower, she wouldn’t hear of it.  She started making plans.  After an already planned meeting at our church this morning others joined in to help regardless of their Saturday plans.  It was way cool watching people scurry around being Christ to our community. 

That should be enough in and of itself, but there’s more.  Planned on the same day was a birthday party for one of our faithful, yet your nincompoop pastor messed up the calendar/ scheduling again!.  The birthday party designers stayed up late and decorated our fellowship hall with lights and runways for a “fashion show” themed party.  It was incredible!

Now here is the “way cool” part…in the picture the two parties were happening about the same time, or with at least an overlap in time.  In the back and through the double doors the birthday party boomed away, closer to the handsome photographer…the baby shower.  It’s a perfect doxology moment of people being Christ to their neighbor and the Church being transformed into whatever needs that can best serve God’s people. Our Summit people never cease to amaze me!”  Now that is a Doxology day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sky-like Predictions

Day 9 Doxology:  If you live in, or are from, Alabama you recognize this image.  Maybe…certainly, I’m ignorant and others from other states recognize this image as well.  However, Alabama is my reference to the world, for better or for worse. So, bear with me...

I looked at tonight sky and immediatly predicted rain for the coming days.  Maybe it was my experience or my anticipation.  Either way, my forecast called for precipitation.  When I saw the night sky over the smell of chicken wings on my Green Egg and the sound of text messages on my phone, I immediately wonder something…I’m I seeing the joy of the Lord in the moment or predicting the “blah” for tomorrow?  You see, I think as Christians we get caught up in a miss-use of focused blessings (I think I’ll coin that phrase).  The bottom line… we as Christ followers are seldom happy and yet we should rejoice in the moment always –James 1:17.  Please pause and recognize that a child’s messy room is just as much a gift as your best worship experience –if in Christ!  What is the saying…”God is good” and our collective answer?  “All the time!”  All the time means always -every day and in every way.  Praise be to the God that trumps our plans and predictions. “God has greater plans for you than you could ever have for yourself.” You like Apples?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Peaceful Prayers

Day 8 Doxology: I was introduced to a picture of our ORANGE children offering prayer for things, issues, and people in their life, and now I share it with you.

I didn’t use this image as my daily doxology yesterday, because I couldn’t get God out of what I was experiencing in my own children-the praise God moments out of the joy I was experiencing through my girls. I believe you should feel the same through today’s doxology because it involves your children. So, today my Doxology moment is a praise to God for your children and for the influence ORANGE is making on our Summit families.

The door you see represents the prayers of your children…our children.  At least those that wanted to participate.  Before you are 27 prayers that YOUR children felt necessary to bring before the church and God.  How do you like ORANGE now?

As I stared at this door, I would close my eyes and picture the excitement each child would exhibit as they wrote out their prayer concern.  Then they shared, in faithfulness, their needs, and as they were joined with other’s needs they received a peace.  That peace is a healing and comfort that they have done all that they could do or was taught to do.  They laid it before the LORD. When I stared at their individual prayers I am reminded of Isaiah 54:13, All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children…shocker, I know!

We are teaching amazing life-giving moments through ORANGE…investing in every moment we have to make a difference/ investment in the future of every family.  You like Apples?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Doctor Who" Do You Love?

Day 7 Doxology:  How to begin?  I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood John 13:20 to the depths I have today.  I feel enormous joy; I’m smiling from ear to ear, and my eyes become misty at the thoughts of today’s doxology moment. 

When I went into ministry, my fear was faith, for my daughters, would be somewhat altered or challenged based on the church’s actions or inactions where I would serve.  I make no excuses…a parent’s desire for their children is to be happy.  We devote time, energy, and money to that cause…often to the point of overindulgence.  If you have never felt your children unhappy because of something you’ve done, or decisions you’ve made…then I’m not sure you fully get my point.  Conversely, when they experience great joy…you are exceedingly happy!  In fact, being kind to my daughters (My family) is the greatest gift you could ever give me as a pastor.  Which reminds me of John 13:20, accepting the Son is accepting the Father.   When you love God's children; you love God.

Not to compare myself to God in any way…today, someone hand-made and sent my daughter a Doctor Who scarf.  Not just any Doctor Who, but the 4th more classical version of Doctor Who.  I feel that I need to explain…Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television series that has lasted decades (1963-present). The Doctor, the main character, is a regenerating humanoid that travels through time saving the world from ourselves, and others.  I personally like David Tennant as Doctor Who, while J-1 (pictured left) has an infinity for the older more classic Doctors. Regardless of your favorite, to the Geek Squad, one would have to admit it’s pretty amazing writing that have united father/ sons and father/ daughters for many years.  So today, because of the kindness of another, the bond between father and daughter is uplifted, mended, solidified. This amazing person did this out of the blue; on his or her own; out of love.  It is the greatest sermon I’ve ever heard on random acts of kindness that exhibit unconditional love.  This sweet person is a “Means of Grace” to me, and my family and will be remember as one of the sacred moments of mine and my daughter's life.  Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.”  We never forget how people treat us, do we?  Some actions really do speak louder than words…don’t you agree (spoken in my best British accent)?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Action vs. Words

Day 6 Doxology: This is a special praise God moment for me.  At some point parenting changed and no one told me.  Lately it seems that I can seldom say the right thing.  Encouragement is perceived as sarcasm; discipline is taken as unfair, stuffy, out-of-touch, or even worse unloving. This morning I did something that felt so right.  I took J-2 to Huddle House for breakfast.  We slept in, got up late, and drove to eat breakfast then I checked her in late for school.  She got her usual-strawberry waffles with no whip cream and a side of hash browns.  I got anything pork with double hash browns.  We sat and laughed and tried to name the songs that were being drowned by breakfast conversation and Fox News from nearby.  What we didn’t discuss were chores, the future, stinkin’ boys, her hair, her make-up, her clothes, or anything that I might have thought she had done wrong.  As a result, I think we both savored every minute, and every bite.  It’s the first time in a long time, I felt like a father.  J-2 is a special daughter that I do not deserve…both she and God are worthy to be praised.  Today, different from other days, I taught by action and not by words.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Can Your Contrail Tell?

To my dismay, I failed to post my Day 4 Doxology.  Four days into my Lenten Season and I’ve already missed a daily discipline.  Maybe that’s what makes my period of Lent real and authentic…an acknowledgement that I might, or even probably, will fail at some point.  In my failure, I seek grace. So, I do what I know to do…acknowledge and press on with all eyes on Easter.

Day 5 Doxology: I hate to choose the usual sunrise or sunset “praise to God” moment. However, this image has attributes that I couldn’t pass up.  This was taken early in the morning on Hwy 231, a road I usually abhor.  Whatever my feelings for this road in which I have spent hours navigating it’s hills and curves, today God was waiting with a message.  All throughout scripture either God or Jesus is characterized as light.  As I reached the summit (a nice play on words) of the mountain I could see this image of the sky perfectly, and I immediately thought of Psalm 43:3.  If you will look closely, the cross of two contrails (the condensation trail of an airplane) are hidden behind the brightness of the sun (light).  When I saw this, I began to question whether the planes were flying toward the light or away from the light? Ok, I realize this post is a bit longer than usual, but I have to ask one more question…can a passer-by, just a simple observer, tell whether our trail leads us toward or away from the light that warms a broken world?