Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Caboose

Day 40 Doxology:  Wow!  This year I've managed an entire Lenten Season without missing a single blog post-I may have miss-numbered a few, but I got'm all in!  "SPEECH, SPEECH!" I'd like to thank God...without Him none of this would have ever been possible!

I say that jokingly, of course. However, after I thought about it, there was a lot of Christ from a lot of people that helps throughout the year so that God can continue to show up in powerful ways!  I won't dare begin to list the names, but from Amy to the person that commits to showing up on Sundays this post is for you!  Today's doxology is not an image of my doxology but rather of symbol of "not my image"!  While you're scratching your head, I'll explain.

I have grown accustom to everything Amy does for me while she holds down a house, family, and more than a full-time (paying) gig.  Well, she has the flu!  To the best of my recollection, moms don't have time for the flu, but she does and asked if I could do the bulletins for church.  I did them, but it reminded me the value of Amy and it made me think about everyone else that plays a role in being Christ to, not only me, but to everyone else at The Summit and Julia Street.

So, for my final doxology of Lent 2016 my doxology picture is you represented by a single finalized bulletin for Easter, and a reminder that when we serve each other we are reminded that Christ has risen!

Feel better Amy, we need you!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Thanks Be To God

Day 39 Doxology:  Welcome to the next to last doxology for this season of Easter prep!  And...what a day of praising God it has been!

It started with some great reading!  I love journaling and reading about Biblical mentors!

After my time with my Biblical mentors, I cooked breakfast for Shannon and J-3.  If she told me once, she told me twenty times how much she enjoyed it and "thank you, dad!"  She is so sweet-like her Deddy!

So, if you're counting: Biblical Mentors, cooking eggs, bacon, and biscuits for the fam, and repeated praise from my daughter!

Next, I headed to St. Paul for our Good Friday service when I saw this man.  He was carrying a cross down the road in celebration of Good Friday.  He was one of three that I had the pleasure of not hitting as I passed!  Still I'm proud of their dedication, and it did make me slow down as I traveled through several counties today.

After, a colleague shared the Good Friday message we ate lunch-That's what good Methodist do!  I had the pleasure of another doxology as I sat and talked with my Julia Street Memorial family.  They are incredibly hard workers.  They had the desserts in the line-up awaiting one's BBQ drenched palate. There is something about laughing that makes you feel as if God is warming your heart!  I love my Julia Street family!

So, once again with additions: Biblical Mentors, Breakfast, "Thank You's", Cross-toters,  JSM Fam!

Afterwards, I headed back to the church for some emails and creative brochure handouts construction for Easter Sun-Rise at Mabry's Overlook.  While I was conjuring up my creative juices...Mrs. Diane. surprised me.  She was decorating for Easter-pretty awesomebut you'll have to wait until Sunday to see it for yourself!  It was worth a pause of "praise"!

I had to meet Shannon and the girls at her moms for dinner, but I had to go to the park and drop off the brochures in time for the weekend check in crowd, first.  Let me just say, every year I am amazed at the walk up traffic for our Sun Rise Service Celebration, and I want it to continue!

Once at the Lodge, I checked in-See yesterdays doxology!  Now get this...the check-in lady saw the brochure handouts that I had brought with me, and asked if she could have one?  She said that she has had several people ask her about the service, and they were there just for it!  Can I get a Praise God?  Whoop, whoop! I handed her the stack and said pass 'em out...they were for her!  She couldn't believe the coincidence...But we know, don't we?

But there's more praise to go around...I checked in, drove to our cabin and bamm...Sugar Love for the family.  In the cabin (which is a gift from our Summit family) was a basket of candy, chocolate, drinks and these packets of sour gum called "Cry Baby"-my mouth is full of spit thinking about it!  I couldn't quit eating them!

So, the count continues: Biblical Mentors, Breakfast, Daughter's Praise, Cross-toters (traffic dodgers), JSM peeps, A Diane surprise, the Holy Spirit helping me check in and the scales that fell from a ladies eyes, The unknown's asking about the Sun Rise Service, The cabin, The candy....and the Love!

Count'em!  That is a day's worth of moments that I paused and thanked God for the pleasure of His presence.  How many did I overlook?  The common thread linking each moment is love, more specific God's love.  How can anyone go through life and not know it, and why would we let them?

I have the greatest life, friends, family, churches in the world, and I serve the greatest God that is out of this world -Thanks be to God!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thankfulness For Everyone

Day 38 Doxology:  The following is clear and unobstructed...It is an example of my love for you and your love for my's a gift that is's a gift that is humbling! My goal is to not complicate it, and teach my family to recognize its greatness by saying thank you!

I often feel God's love for our church.,.and like last year, I get the advantage to teach my daughters based on previous years, that the times that I am away from home make a huge difference in the life of others.  It is a time of serving God!

Can you say that your time away from home is a time investing in your relationship with God?

This image is a picture that reflect a church's love for the family that serves her...I only pray that you recognize the thankfulness that me and my families share for your graciousness!
I am the luckiest pastor on earth!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tracks of Growth

Day 37 Doxology: There are only three days of doxologies and four days 'til Easter left of this year's Lenten season.   It has been an extreme blessing for me, this year more than years past, I think?  This year, the blog expanded.  Friends away from the church learned of my Lenten discipline, my daughters learned what I had been doing, and it just grew and prompted many, many just grew.

Sometimes it is like that with ministries.  We start programs, do our homework then strategically implement steps to the system giving our programs the best chance for success, but sometimes they don't succeed.  Then the real question, what do I do?  Do we give up or be diligent offering an exercise in faith?

I have had such an experience.  A while back, I saw the need for an immediate class that guest could be a part of when they visited.  If God gave us the gift of guest for a Sunday, would I have place where they could immediately get plugged in?  We did not; we needed an entry point for guest!  I implemented a track for growth in discipleship called Growth Tracks-creative, I know!

It was successful at first.  It generated members, but then participation declined.  I questioned the times it was offered, the number of times it was offered in a month.  Heck, I even questioned the need, but I stuck with it. Within the last month and a half we have gained 3 new members through our Growth Tracks Discipleship Initiative-praise God!  The latest, not only became a member tonight, but will be baptized soon.  Is our time wandering in the desert over?  Sometimes we have to preach it until we believe it!

In the 1700's, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had visited the providence of Georgia (U.S.) on a disastrous mission trip to the Indians that left him questioning his faith.  As a result, he was thinking of leaving the ministry and stop preaching.  It was during this time that he met a man named Peter Boehler, a Moravian missionary.  In Wesley's journal he wrote, "Leave of preaching.  How can you preach to others, who have not faith yourself?" I asked Boehler, whether he thought I should leave it or not.  He answered, "By no means."  I asked, "But what can I preach?" He said, "Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith." The rest of Wesley's life is history.  The Methodist movement flourished and lives were tonight.  Preach Growth Tracks?  What would Boehler say?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Checks and Balances

Day 36 Doxology:  Tonight was an education in civic doxology.  Our small city is haven't a not-so-small disagreement about funding for our city school system-a school system that has always excelled more than their means.

There is one group that wants more city...including more resources and funding for civic structures and systems-important! There is another group that feels like the city is moving forward without any budgeting concern for the city school's needs in constant cycle of state funding decreases-important! Both sides are worth being heard.

So, tonight's doxology is NOT an exercise in futility.  Tonight, I went and listened.  Instead of getting mad, getting defensive, talking down, or making sure everyone knew that my feelings were hurt...I listened.  In listening, I promised myself that I would become better informed in the future.  That to date...I had been uninformed and absent in the system of checks and balances which makes our system greater than any other.

Our system of government is made great because we can listen and talk-checks and balances.  It is this greatness that makes the world jealous and angry.  What is not great is when our adults act like the children that we are claiming to stand in the trench for...not cool!  However, politics is not cool according to Christ-something to consider.

In contrast, Anything worth having is worth fighting for.  Just a few dates to remember...1776, 1918, and 1945, but how long will God support our cause?  Maybe the better questions is how long will God support our personal causes?

I wonder do we consider God's guidance on every level of our life?  In my experience, we want a change of circumstances and not ask God to change our whole life -that means giving up control.  God is a God of life changes!  Paint that on an overpass!

With all that said, my doxology initially was the moment I left the adults standing firm on the side for or against whatever, but that changed the moment I got home.  When I got home the fight became personal! When I got home, my daughter decided to surprise her parents by cleaning her room-stop the press!  I joke, but if you read yesterday's blog then you know the burden of a parent and the egg shells that are scattered throughout the house.  I stink as a parent...until tonight!

Tonight, after a clean room, I sent a single text to my daughter-"I Love You!"  If you have a child at college, then I encourage you to send a simple text that says..."I love you!"  Three words that can break all barriers.  Three words that adults and city council members could stand to hear..."I Love You!"-checks and balances for sure!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Start of the Countdown

Day 35 Doxology:  The countdown is on to the much awaited sunrise that changed the world and will bring to a close this years 40 doxologies.  However, that is a week away, and "we still have tonight."  Though that sounds a little too much like Bob Seger lyrics, we really are to make the most of today/tonight, and that is what I plan on sharing.

The events happened pretty quick tonight.  Once Shannon and I dropped some cash at Sam's we headed home to unload then to carry a few items to a friend. Once there, my life-long buddy insisted I stay and watch Woodlawn-a movie less about Tony Nathan and more about what Jesus can do if you allow Him into your home-school-community. This is the headline graphic...
If you've watched the movie that would be enough for today's doxology, but there was more left to my day before bed.  Shannon and I had found a two-sided mirror at Bed Bath & Beyond that I had wanted for a long time for our bathroom.  This mirror increases your power X8.  It attaches to the wall and swings out then folds up out of the way against the wall-it's great for putting in contacts.  By now you are thinking Jesus will return before he gets to the huge doxology worth mentioning.  Here it comes.

Just above the base of the mirror is a picture, two pictures in fact. They are a picture of my three daughters the first day that I arrived at my 1st appointment and the last day that I served that appointment.  Those two pictures represented 2 years of growth of my girls and myself.  It made me pause and just thank God that following Him is a process-a journey.  It is a road worth traveling regardless of the terrain.  It is our calling to be shared...whatever lies ahead.
That would usually be enough for me to close my computer and wished I'd proof my blog one-more-time, but there was more to my evening.  J-2 and J-3 had a strong discussion-an argument really that made them end in a hug and apology.  It took everything in me to NOT get involved.  The image of the two of them hugging was my true doxology (not pictured). If you have something unresolved with someone...there is a Father in heaven that wants you to resolve it, and fights the urger to fix it for you.  Be the bigger person.  Be the person that extends your arms to welcome the embrace that offers forgiveness and grace.  Isn't that was Jesus did for you?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

To God Be The Glory

Day 34 Doxology:  The countdown continues!  Also, the doxologies become more difficult as I witness God's reach throughout my life...I pray you have become a witness to God at work in your own life.  I'll tell you a simple secret...that is my goal!

Regardless if you've witnessed God at work in and around you I have, and I have loved this process.  So much so, that I almost hate to see it end.  I am trying to figure out a way to transition to a different doxology blog format throughout the whole year and hoping that it will not take away from what we share together during Lent.

Nonetheless, today was a bookends of "praise God" moments.  I served along side many disciples as we offered food alternative to those that need it most.  I watched servants take up the slack as one of our very own were investing in their own family time in Gatlinburg, TN.  Not to worry...we handled it well, and I believe they would be proud!  I had a lot of God moments throughout my Food Pantry morning, but one in particular included prayer with a mom that had lost her husband and wrestles with her son's liver cancer.  I never get use to prayer over a person as their tears are flowing...I never get use to being such a vessel of God's reach!

Speaking of God's reach...My day closed with an equally great doxology but in a different way.  I love the way our church has grown to understand that they have authority-authority to lead others; authority to share their faith; authority to act!

This evening, as I was sitting in my favorite chair and watching basketball with my busted bracket, I was sent a picture from someone in the church that shared how they spent their Saturday. I was blown away!  I didn't have the words to adequately share how much that picture meant to me.

Every day that I walk from my car to our church office I walk on a pea-gravel saturated sidewalk.  It is the residue of our daycare children playing. That is what they do! We have swept it, shoveled it and scooted it with our feet, but it's a natural process of our daycare children playing.  It's just what we have to deal with...until this evening!

This family worked to solve a problem.  I love it!  Our church is starting to reach a maturity where we no longer ask for permission to be disciples.  To God be the glory!

I can't say enough about the joy of feeling God's presence through our Julia Street Memorial Food Pantry and The Summit's growth through our small groups and discipleship planning-we are growing and growing more healthy! Again, to God be the glory forever, and forever, Amen!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Day 33 Doxology:  The Joy of the LORD comes to mind as I post today's doxology.  Tonight our church set up snacks for a ministry in our area.  Shannon and I invited two very special ladies to help decorate and serve so our snack hour would be a success.  They would be huge assets for this ministry and already are making a difference with this age group in several areas of their own lives.

It was a no brainer asking them to serve, but I'll admit that even I didn't know the extent of our Dr. Seuss theme.

One thing is for sure "The joy of the Lord is my strength" and sharing the joy of the Lord with these two were easy.  I could feel the room permeate with the Holy Spirt because everyone could let their guard down and relax.  Even "Thing 1" said she could tell "because she felt it" too.

Are we willing to forgo our own self image to put on the image of Christ? These two are!  They are more than just two girls in red onesies...they are Christ to me. Thank you both for today's praise God moment!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cotton Candy

Day 32 Doxology:  Today offers an orchestra of "praise God" moments.  Although they seemed different, after a period of thought it dawned on me that there was a connective thread than ran through the highlights of my day.

Tonight was our church's night to pack bags at our local elementary school for a ministry called Blessings in a Backpack.  It's always fun, and our church does a great job turning out in huge support.  After our time of packing and delivering the bags to each classroom, Shannon and I headed home.

On the way, J-1 called from her spring break trip to south Florida.  She was bragging about her trip to the beach for a sunset doxology of her own.  Her mom asked for a viewing, and technology didn't disappoint.

While on the phone, our trip home went from cloudy to clear, and just as we were escaping the clouds we could begin to see the most amazing sunset of our own.  Shannon immediately snapped a picture for both you and J-1.

I started to amazing is it that both J-1 and Shannon and I could be connected to God and God's creation at the same moment even though we were separated by so many miles.  How vast is God's reach. The Psalmist tells us that in terms of God's graciousness toward us our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. That covers a lot of ground -Thanks Be To God!

My thoughts didn't end there.  The reason we were on the road to begin with was because of our work beside so many others from our church with the Blessings in a Backpack ministry.  It was yet another testimony and praise of witnessing God's creation just as we had witnessed the beautiful sunsets together.

J-1 said the sky looks like cotton candy.  I say she's right.  Both skies looked like cotton candy, but seeing my church family praise God with their hard work is just as sweet as cotton candy!  It makes for a well-rounded doxology day. Thanks Be To God!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Easter Eggstravaganza

Day 31 Doxology:  It has been a long day.  Although it's been a long day, the blessings were not diminished in the least.  In fact, my entire evening could be classified as today's doxology highlight.

Between 6-8pm tonight our church hosted its annual Easter Eggstravaganza. We host it on Wednesday nights because we wanted to gain better access to the families in our area that are not a part of a church.  Usually, church people are in church on Wednesday nights.  Families came through our doors registered, and entered our sanctuary.  The very first table, as they entered, was a sweetheart of a person telling the Easter story using Easter props.  Our Easter Eggstravaganza has purpose, and tonight we saw it come to life.

Once inside, and now that you know the Easter story, there were games, candy, popcorn, and punch to devour while you waited for your glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunt.  I can't tell you how many people worked tirelessly from youth to adult from the parking lot to a broom.  All I did was walk around taking pictures and getting in the way.  So my doxology picture is a group of women that work nonstop to make The Summit great.  There were others that didn't make the picture that worked just as hard. Thanks to you all!  It's funny...we are slow to sign up for a volunteer list, but we always show up.  I serve the best church in the world!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Day 30 Doxology:  A milestone of be clear, today's doxology is trifold -a dedication to my wife, my God, and the new spring.  How cool is this weather?

Today, I was given the gift to observe life in a triad, of sorts -God the Father; Shannon the wife; and spring of new beginnings.

My wife surprised me today with a "personal day".  She took personal time to do internal housework that, to the naked eye, seems external.  She uncharacretistically took the day off from her job in education for herself-something she never does!

I had multiple meetings that made me jealous of her time today.  Each time, I would check in with her to witness and cringe jealous of her freedom.  The image I found when I finally got home, spoke to me on as many levels as this shared tri-doxology.

As she poured into herself she did what mothers jobs around the house.  She first laid in the sun, but it didn't seem productive enough.  She then cleaned the winter away from our back porch displayed in my last doxology which consisted of Windex and pressure washing.   It must have been at this point she moved beyond the porch to the concrete and tonight's picture.

We have a lot of concrete, and every year there is the enormous amounts of build-up.  We had talked about treating our concrete this year so that thought must have been on her mind when she advanced to pressure-washing a square of concrete.

This, surprisingly,  made me pause and think...

First, a mom's work is never done, and you moms display so many gifts!  If you are a God be the glory for everything you do that seems to go unnoticed-it really doesn't!

Secondly, spring is great!  It's a chance to start over. It's a chance to wash away the crud left over from winter.  It's often more difficult than a pressure-washing a section of conrete but it is as revealing.  

The cool thing is that as it becomes dark, the freshly pressure washed concrete glows in the dusk that ushers in the night.  The cleansed concrete, like our own lives, becomes a stand out from the rest of the concrete.  Both the concrete, and ourselves, become this beacon of light pointing to the REAL light for the world.

You can assume many characters in today's could be the teacher-needing time for yourself for health and rejuvenation.  You could be the springtime - ushering in a new season regardless of who is ready.  You might find yourself as the concrete-a standout from the rest of what life has to offer.

Just to close...we are all in constant change.  Our uniform goal should be to bring about "heaven on earth, as it is in heaven."  Is that or goal?  Or, do we constantly strive to live life self-serving? Our answer would be our own doxology!

Monday, March 14, 2016

From The Back

Day 29 Doxology:  Wow!  I have so many words and even I'll admit that I am having a hard time putting them into shape or formation to communicate what I feel is today's doxology.

Have you ever stopped and watched your family from the outside looking in?  I often fell like I spend a lot of time saying, "This is what I mean...!" So, with that out in the open, this is what I mean...I love cool evenings with a clear sky; a full belly; no where to be; and plenty of time to watch.  I love looking at the back of our home as an outsider.  If one were to sit and view the Jones from the front of the house it would appear that there was no life at all.  However, from the back...our home comes alive.

Today, I cooked blackened chicken, from the back...I left our garage in our golf-cart "from the back" to wish a neighbor happy birthday...I sat with my wife and talked about our future, and past, in the back...I saw my daughter, even if it was for a second, from the back...I welcomed and cooked hot wings and french fries for Jamie's beau from the back; and now I sit in quiet and watch them all from the back while writing to you.  I love living life in the back yard of our home, on the concrete in the space between our garage and "out-back"'s where life is more intimate and real!

Because of our lifestyle, tonight I share with you outside looking in.  It's my favorite!  I watch family life; I hear them laugh and argue; I watch their faces light up from the reflection of the TV; I can notice them travel from room to room... I see them at life.  And, it brings me joy!

I wished I could take the time to pause and relate my joy with scripture to be a voice of God, but sometimes God's world is found in the spaces of our lives more than least, I feel God in the spaces of my life, and that is worth sharing!

Enjoy the spaces and sound of your family...they are "praise to God" moments of your day!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Better To Give Than Receive

Day 28 Doxology: It's better to give than receive.  We've heard that statement all of our life, but it wasn't until tonight that I felt its fullness.

My daughter, J-2, is halfway through her 2nd semester at a college in Alabama...really, she is well on her way to nursing school proving that grades won't be an issue.  In addition to grades, as parents we've witnessed a better than hopeful advance in maturity on her part.

We have an older daughter in college and this one is our 2nd, soon there will be a, it is important for us to know that she is taking her education seriously.  Therefore, after her trial period of computer labs to complete her homework, and waiting on me to get home, even visits at her mom's classroom, she proved to us that her complaint-less period was enough to earn her the right...for a helpful leg up.

So, I did what all parents do...I (we) went into debt.  I bought her a Mac Air.  It was worth the smiles, and hugs, to tell her that she had been so great to act like she didn't deserve such a gift even if we thought she did.  She really did.

The images that I am sharing are her going through the steps to set up her Mac Air.  The images that I share might show her, but really they are images of her parents glowing in pride that she gets the gift.  She understood what it took for us to get it and to give it.  The image is of her joy, but really it is a picture of OUR joy, because to give brings more joy than to receive.

It made me think about the love of a father.  The love I have watching her joy is unprecedented.  It's without words.  It means everything to me.  At the heart of my faith is the love of the Father for a world that, at times, doesn't recognized a Father's love.  Yet, the Father is insistent, to the point that His plan is eternal.  I'll admit that it doesn't make sense unless you've witnessed, or experience, the unconditional joy on the face of your loved ones-unless you've shared unconditional love! 

God knew, as I am learning, it is better to give than receive!

Friday, March 11, 2016

What Do You See?

Day 27 Doxology: When we look...what do we see?  I am under the impression that we often see what we want to see.  Sometimes there's more than meets the eye.

My personal plug is this...I was jogging back from doing stadiums. You know, a thankless run up while trying to breath going down.  Before you know it, both your legs and your breath is gone.  So, I was jogging back from this traumatic event when I noticed today's doxology.

It's beautiful isn't it.  This image of the moving water makes you almost think you can hear it.  The contrast of the green grass against the water moving over the rocks looks like it would make an even greater black-and-white and seem as if it came from the Great Smoky Mountains.  I didn't have the advantage you have...I was able to see the whole picture.   Ironically, that is what looking for God during Lent allows you to do-see God in the plain and ordinary depths of our life.

If you back the image up, one can see the surroundings that seem to take away from the beauty that was once observed.  What if we recognized God's beauty in everything first?  Would it change the way we see the world? You see...I believe if you never look for God, you'll always see a big ugly, beat-up, drainage pipe just carrying water in life. If that is your becomes boring and gray!

As Christian, we are called to look look see God's beauty in creation.  Here is the 25,000 dollar question...are you looking for God in the world, or do you walk by God everyday and miss many doxology moments?  They are yours to see!

John 1:10 says, "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Faith From Tony the Tiger!

Day 26 Doxology: Have you ever sat in silence and listened?  Today I did, and it was Gooooood!

Because of technology, today we are so connected.  We have talk radio, pod cast, cell phones, tablets, computers, internet, cable, satellite, and hot spots.  Seldom is there a time when we are not connected...except, when we are connected, hmmm?

I guess to answer the questions we first have to determine to what are we connected, or to whom are we connected, or not?  I spend the majority of my day handling "God stuff" and there are days when I feel like I haven't even spoken to God as a result.  I talk to everyone else, but not God.  Why?  When I am so connected to this world, I am less likely to be connected to God, and vise versa.

This evening I allowed myself 15 mins of Holy Silent Worship!  I sat. I was quiet, and I let my eyes focus on the darkened room.  Because I was still; I became aware...I noticed something amazing.  The way the light changed my mood.  I think for the first time I saw the stained glass in my church like those that have worshiped before me saw it.  The colors danced to life as I could hear a "soft whisper"usher in the presence of God.  At that moment I felt like Elijah.

In 1 Kings 19, The LORD speaks to Elijah at Horeb.  Like me, Elijah was waiting for a one-on-one with The LORD when something else happened.  Like life today, Elijah witnessed the mountain falling down around him.  Like so many of us, Elijah caught himself looking for the LORD in the mighty rushing wind, "but the LORD was not in the wind."  Then Elijah looked for the LORD in the post earthquake fire, "but the LORD was not in the fire." After the fire came the sound of "a gentle whisper" (the KJV says, a still small voice).

We cry out to God, and shake our fist then wonder, while we are kicking and screaming, why we cannot hear God.  Maybe we need to just sit and mandate for ourselves a grown-up "time-out!"  Maybe then our day will be better than gooood, it'll be Grrrrrrrrrrreat!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Crystal's Voice

Day 25 Doxology:  This "praise to God" moment will absolutely undeniably rock Crystal's world!  If it doesn' certainly did mine!

I have never allowed myself to get caught up in the reality show "The Voice" for many reasons that I'll not share here because it'll distract from this post.  With that was awesome!

There were many unbelievably talented individuals that shared their natural gifts to woo us all -voice coaches and listeners alike.  Albeit, there was this one person that shared the very moment I sat down, and it hooked me for the rest of the show.

This talented person sang a song that was better than made me pause and say, "Wow!"  In that moment one of the coaches asked, "Tell me your story?"  The artist shared..."I started singing at the age of 4 by singing "Jesus Loves Me!"  Then they asked him to sing it...and he did!

My eyes watered and chills came from no-where.  In that moment, I thought that this young man was born for this moment, and what if we were born to hear that song at this particular moment?  And...who in the world has not heard such a life-giving message to this point?

This artist answered God's call by following his dreams; why can't we?  Why don't we muster the strength and courage to do the same?

"Jesus love me this I know..." This song, originally written in 1860 by Anna B. Warner, for her sister's Sunday School Class, and more specifically, to cheer up a dying boy.  That means that 156 years later an over-weight middle-aged pastor in rural Alabama can have his eyes water and skin covered with chills because someone answered God's call to share...Only God can do that!

It reminds me of a story found in the same Bible that is mentioned in that same song...Acts 5.  In this story, a Pharisee named Gamaliel said after some disciples were arrested-again for sharing the message of God's love, Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Only the message from a Divine presence can transcend time and space.  And yes...even the Divine can use "The Voice" to continue His message of hope!

You go, Crystal!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Morning Church!

Day 24 Doxology:  Wow!  The days are screaming by...before you know will be Easter and our daily "Praise God" moments will be a fleeting memory.   You will, in your conversations, at some point, recognize this year's doxology and what they've meant to you....I pray they have been as much a blessing for you as they have been for me!

Today's doxology will demand some vision!

Every morning (most every morning) I begin my day with a workout.  A workout for me and my workout partner - Tracy B - is weights and cardio.  Over the past several days I have balked on my workout scheduled for you - the church.  That means that I have forgone my usual morning ritual of..."Church!"

This is what I mean....

At The Gym is a wonderful spirit that welcomes me everyone morning with coffee and the Word!  I have gained enough trust to share her life story and enough trust for me to respond...she is Christ to me!  Today was confirmation of our time together and apart!

Mine and my wife's joke is that I go to The Gym 1st thing in the morning to "have church."  In part, that's true.  However, it's not the's not the's the people!  Every morning a special person meets me at the counter with a personal testimony about their previous day.  Today, in general, that would be a risky thing, but not with this person!  Her faith is her cornerstone to life.  This morning proved it!

This morning we were talking guessed it, church!  It's what we talk about every morning over coffee and while I wait for my workout partner.  This morning she and I were talking when a different lady walked up and asked if I was her pastor.

She admitted that I was a pastor, just not at her church.  Then the doxology began!

This lady began to admit that every morning she overheard us talk about Jesus (I privately smiled!). Also, that a Christian's attitude toward Jesus should let others know our passion.  She shared that a young girl she had just met asked if she was a Christian because she had just accepted Christ as her LORD very recently, and in her line of work, and with her new awareness, she could tell if someone was a Christian by the way they acted.  Oddly enough....Godly enough...that was what we (me and My GYM buddy) were talking about.

If you are Christian...please live life like you were saved!  Live life with the joy that you believe in the risen savior!  And, live life as if "To God be The Glory!"  Other lives depend on it!

I serve a church, but every weekday my church starts here...

Monday, March 7, 2016

Complicated But Simple

Day 23 Doxology:  How could I put to words the culmination of the years of one's work?  The picture that I am sharing today is a doxology in huge proportions -it's a capital doxology!!   It's complicated, yet simple!

It's complicated because growing a church means that you have to have close relationships.  Jesus did share a moment with 5,000, but he invested...Really twelve.  And...not only twelve, but he had an inner circle of three.  So, in that sense, relationships are nice, but CLOSE relationships are the BOMB!

When we revamped the "Small Groups" our focus and passion was born out of an experience of one of our families.  They had an event in their life that demanded a warm embrace...and yet, the embrace they received was limited even cold.  As a result, their love of God demanded that they changed the culture...and, they did.  They answered God's call by pouring into small groups.  They invested their personal time and built relationships.  Those relationships are now a third generation of life-giving!  Growing discipleship is messy, unpredictable, hard, time-consuming, and worth it!

It's simple, because it is just doing what comes natural -answering the phone, sending a card, sharing your eggs, telling your stories, laughing, smiling, sweating together.  That seems simple, but today life is so busy that to do everything that I listed demands that I be intentional. As hard as that really is simple!

We are never promised the fruits of our labor, but tonight we have an image that shares what faith relationships could look like.  Two children doing what they witnessed adults doing...what we are called to do -talk and celebrate the fracture and healing of our life.  Cooper broke his arm, but his bones will mend.  Not only will they mend, but they will become stronger than ever.  While we heal it means the world to have someone sign their name on our brokenness as if to one will get to you, or I've got your back...even, I'm with you through it all!  When we co-sign we are saying that we are co-responsible for you -complicated but simple!

Wouldn't it be great if our adults could learn from our children?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Colored Corn-Starch

Day 22 Doxology:  I am afraid that today's doxology will seem unintelligible - that's code for oxygen deprived!  Bottom line...unless your name is Jeremy, James, or Shannon your evening consist of a hot tub, someone cooking for you, and Ice Cream while you reminisce about your day's victory!

Here is mine...I took several pictures today, but I didn't realize my "Holy Doxology" until uploading today's pictures to my computer.

While waiting for our community's Hospice Race to begin, I stood off to the side watching Summiteers, and others, countdown until the color toss for this year's "Race to Remember."  When I saw the cloud, I started taking pictures.  What was recorded was a holy profile.

In churches everywhere we try so hard to share the Holy Spirit given to us at Pentecost.  The description of that moment had always been told to me as the Spirit of God "descended" on God's people.  It wasn't until that point that God's people could do amazing things.

While I looked at my pictures from today, I saw the profile of colored corn-starch descending on God's people and it made me think...what if this was the start of Pentecost for Albertville.  What if the Holy Spirit of God could come in colored contact with everyone like this cloud?  What if this day, the world was changed forever and chapter after chapter of what Christ is doing was starting to be recorded?  I do believe it is up to us and our confidence in this year's Pentecost for our community!

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Magical Place

Day 21 Doxology:  What is the antidote to a less than spiritual day?  Answer:  My morning!

Once a quarter, or a bit more, I volunteer at a local dentist missions.  Each Friday, a local church opens their doors to individuals from our community that need dental work.  Their dental needs usually consist of nothing more than pulling teeth.

They come to the clinic and register hoping that this Friday would be the Friday that they receive help...sometime it is, and sometimes it is not?  This clinic is limited as to the number of people it can accomedate. Since this clinic is a ministry/mission of this church they make sure a clergy person is on site to meet and pray with each person - English speaking or not!

Today's antidote to yesterday's lull came from a series of prayers, one prayer in particular.  I asked each person their prayer needs, and this one mom didn't offer anything.  Usually I don't pry, but today I did, and what I discovered was a very tough, rigid shell of a mom.  She shared that she had three children and they were in different places staying with three different relatives.  After further prying, she finally shared that she was working to get them back.  I offered the only thing I could...

I told her that they couldn't wait to be in her arms again and that if she was my daughter that I would say, I am so very proud of her, and that I love you regardless of what happened in the past.

I'd love to say that she broke down and begged Christ for forgiveness, but part of me thinks that she has done that to an even greater extent than I ever have.  I could see her stiffen to help her remain strong.  My doxology today is simple...I was reminded that I really don't understand what people are going through as much as I'd like to think, and my problems are so small compared to the world.

Since it wouldn't be appropriate to take a picture of the mom, or any of the prayer partners from today, I thought I would take a picture of the door to the clinic where I served.  I've watched people walk in holding their mouth (covering their mouth)  thinking they will never smile again.  However, when they leave they are already smiling with gauze poking out from their mouth.  It is a magical place, just like the time spent praying with everyone that passed through these doors.

I hate that I took a day off from praising God...but that's what happens when you take your eyes off Christ!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Whoa Is Me...

Day 20 Doxology:  Let me begin by saying "I hate to disappoint!"  

Today has been full of many "likes" -great disappointments, huge defeats, friendly worry, and miles logged-in through rain, sleet, and snow!  The bottom line is some of you, I don't feel like praising God!

Without getting into the "whoa is me" I'll ask for a pass.  I'll awake in the morning with a new perspective, and I will be faithful!  

Thank you for this Doxology moment of forgiveness!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Many Hats!

Day 19 Doxology:  A director of a daycare wears many hats.  Not sure if that's the norm, but our's does....Counselor, CFO, Administrator, Boss, Teacher, Bus Driver, Plumber, Dish Washer, Janitor, Decorator, Disciplinarian, Cashier, Secretary, and oh yeah, Daycare Director.

Today, I saw a different hat...burglar or at least locksmith!

I left my office keys at home, and my back-up key was left with the woman with a hat collection.  She had taken my spare key home weeks ago, and today seemed determined to help me get through this barrier to my work.

The pictures that I am sharing are a Lent's worth of doxologies taken through the window in my office.  I laughed too much to help, but I could take some very priceless pictures -two I'll share and one I will not.  I didn't want the next hat she wore to be that of undertaker.

Enjoy these...I sure have.  Maybe the greatest hat she wears is that of a friend!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

God's Got "This!"

Day 18 Doxology: Another daughter doxology but of different sorts.  Today, I voted with J-1.  The first of the "J's",  and magically, because of her raising, she felt that voting was important enough to come home for the evening to drive back to Tuscaloosa early for a morning class.  I cooked her breakfast then took her to our polling station to show her off like a shiny new penny.  I introduced her to all of the regular volunteers, and I watched face glow red as I introduced her by name while being the loudest person in the room -Oops!  We voted then proudly displayed our stickers for our patriotic selfie for each of you.  I am so proud!

That would have been enough for my daily doxology, but there was a deeper lesson for me.  Yes, I voted, but it wasn't as easy as one might think.  Last night I started thinking about who I would vote for and the reason why.  After it was clear, I hadn't progressed in my thought, I started asking..."Ok, who am I not going to vote for?"  This seesaw type of thought went deep into the night, and was still unresolved this morning.

My dilemma consistently carried me back to the prophets of Israel proclaiming God's warning to friend and foe. Reminding them that because they had turned from God they would be cast into other words, here comes the Babylonians!  The proclamation was for a Holy leader with a heart for God and God's people.  Shouldn't that be our proclamation as well?

To complicate my story more...I am pastor.  In many ways I should set the precedent for the people that God has trusted me with (Sorry for the preposition at the end of my sentence).  So, my thoughts excelled to...should I have taught more; should I emphasize this message this time of year more; does my flock believe casting votes for a person of faith is important?  America is incredible, and certain candidates would seem good for America, but is...America our primary focus or God?  Before you doubt my patriotism...I love America, and hopefully my wife and I have instilled that ideology in my children and indirectly their children!

My doxology...After I spent all night and most of the morning fretting over God's will for you, me, and America...Shannon read aloud Diane's Day 18 Doxology in our Church's Lenten Devotional, and immediately my heart was at ease.

She reminded us that worry is prevalent but not necessary.  She cited Matthew 6:25-34 where Jesus said, "Don't worry...tomorrow will worry about itself." The timing of the her doxology was not planned, it was not an accident, it was not a coincidence, it was today's doxology so that I would pause then praise God to remind us all that God's got this...whatever "this" is!

Monday, February 29, 2016

God's Embrace

Day 17 Doxology:  Today has been a series of "praise God" moments. You probably wonder what "doxology" means if you've read more than one of my post?  Each entry begins with "Day [?] Doxology"...meaning a formal liturgical praise to God.  "Liturgical" means relating to liturgy or public worship...So, my doxologies are when I can take a moment of my day and pause to say I hear you God.  It's a moment when everything in me points in reverent praise to witness to my faith in God's control and Jesus' as LORD of my life.  So without further ado...

J-1 came home today to vote and return to class tomorrow.  With her return it made me pause and think about the joy it is for a father when his daughter falls into his arms.  In thinking of that embrace I am reminded that if she returns then there are times, admittedly, when she is not within my reach...within my grasp.

How many times have I not allowed God, the Father, to not wrap his arms around me.  But...when I do how He must feel?  I listened to a young lady this weekend share her testimony in our church.  She shared with great emotion her separation then return to God, and how she didn't know the future, but because of her embrace...the future looks better.  It makes me ask the question how can we get more people to feel that embrace?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Eyes of Christ...

Day 16 Doxology:  Today our church fed one another.  We served pancakes to our community as a fundraiser for missions.  Isn't it a bit ironic that we served so that we can serve.  It was a success!

5am came very least 2am.  Whatever the time, Shannon and I were late.  We arrived at 6:30am-ish to a group of hard workers waiting for the crowd.  We immediately ate and then started the mingling!  Waving a sign; sharing a "thank you" or two; laughing and joking with great friends, and so much more as we we prepared to serve!

Today's doxology is 2-fold.  Pictures of those that served echoes the life of our church -groups of people sharing joy through service...and since I forgot my phone these are the pictures from the lens of others...

The really amazing thing is that there were so many others that worked endlessly to make today a success.  In fact, I received a lot of pictures that I didn't include, but the one picture I couldn't get...that no one took...was the picture of the person whose idea was cast into action...this person was a constant go-between the kitchen and patrons.  This person worked endlessly to make this morning a success, to the point that this person didn't eat until the close of the "Flapjack Fundraiser"!  Was this person you?

You know Matthew 6 says, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."

I am reminded of this text, because of the lack of notice by the camera and myself of this person when I wanted to include everyone and their hard work.  Just because we don't see someone worshipping doesn't mean they are not worshipping.  We shape people, and Christ, in our own fit our world.  But...what if it didn't have to be that way?  What if we trusted God enough to allow Him to see our heart and the heart of others even when they appear different than our own?  In that instance...what could our service be?  What could our worship be? 

I can't wait to worship with my church family tomorrow like we did today...