Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hunting for a Star Buck!

I was reading recently that going on a morning hunt was the norm for most American families in the early 1900's. Well, at least for the men. The women, of course, were slaving away in the kitchen. Below is a picture of a "hunt" of a different kind. Our forefathers would hunt for a trophy buck. Here is what people are looking for early this Thanksgiving morning: Starbucks.

We are in Houston (Crosby) for a quick Thanksgiving visit with family. We arrived after nine last night and will be on the road after lunch on Friday. It is always a good time to be with family. My only complaint with my in laws is their lack of broad band wireless internet. Hence, my morning trip to Starbucks to get my fix.

I have so much for which to be thankful. I could list the very obvious (family, friends, church, health, etc) but I want to share my greatest blessing I'll be counting today:

I am so thankful that I have someone to thank. God.

I was struck today in my quiet time with the horribly sad thought that so many people will say "thanks" today to no one in particular. Seriously, who does the atheist thank? I don't know about you, but I don't make it a habit to just say thanks to nobody. I praise God that He has shown himself to me as the giver of all good things.

I am a man, so richly blessed.
And I'm so thankful!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Redd with Generosity. Green with Envy.

What a great article! What a better story! In an era of selfishness and within a league of greed, Michael Redd stands out like a sore thumb. He is really a holy hand. The hand of God. Read this story of giving and you will receive a blessing.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Danger, Crack, Rock, and an Intercom. Amen!

Hello Friends,

Read a wonderfully dangerous post on my spiritual blood brother, Matt Ritchie's, blog a while back. This is awesome!

Mankind was born for worship, for communion with God. Our hearts where designed for wild worship, yet we're offered liturgy. Our minds designed to dream big the heart of God, we're offered building plans. Our bodies were designed for dangerous service; we're offered biblical commentaries from the safety of a pewÂ…or a comfortable theatre chair. There is nothing wrong with liturgy; the bible is filled with ceremony. There's nothing wrong with building plans, I like to be dry as much as the next guy. And we need the word, its absolutely essential. But at the end of the day, if we haven't touched the heart of God, if we haven't basked in His Glory, then the gathering is irrelevant. We don't need Sunday school; we need Jesus.

Matt's blog can be found here or more articles can be found on the website for the new e-zine called Precipice:


Just Let Me Finish My Crack.
A North Carolina man didn't speed up when police started chasing his car — he slowed down.
That's because he wanted to finish smoking his crack cocaine, Dunn (N.C.) police told the Dunn Daily Record. Read more.


The following is a logo and an excerpt from a flier I sent out to our church announcing our new sermon series on the life of Peter. Much love to Mark Weather's for his mad word smith skills.

"Peter's hands bore the callouses of a fishermen's life. Pulling in bowline as the sun drifted below the rocky hills in the distance, stitching up the holes of his wind tattered sail before the next work day, scaling fish on the Sea of GalileeÂ’s shores, silently taking count of that days catch. But one day, pulling in nets beside his brother Andrew, a distant figure called out from shore, offering an invitation, and in accepting this call life for Peter, called Simon, would be radically altered.

Centuries later, we still tell the story of the fishermen who became the very foundation of the Christian Church. We remember the foolhardy promises he made to Christ, we reflect on the bitterness of his denial of the very one he had sworn allegiance to and we look with admiration at ‘The Rock’ who would stand before the world with a testimony that could not be quieted, not even unto death. But we do not retell his story because of our love for nautical characters, or simply because we are endeared to tales in which victory streams from the dark waters of failure. The story of Peter must be told because, we too have accepted an invitation from a mysterious figure who stands in the distance, and we have a lingering sense that maybe the triumph of his life might become our own.

This Sunday, October 2nd, Lake Cities Church of Christ will 'put out into the deep waters' of a four part study on the life of Peter, the one who didn't get away. I hope to catch you there.

Following with you.


I read a great piece on leadership the other day. You might enjoy it - you might not...
I loved the part about being an intercom! So true.


I was researching the word "Amen" the other day (because I have that kind of time...) and found out that it has roots in IsJudaismudism and Christianity. Want to know more? Click here:
And finally, strange bit of trivia here - Amen is the last word of the Bible. Didn't know that.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Biggest Loser

At our staff retreat a few days ago, Stephen Bailey and I started singing an old school (make that - an old "private Christian" school) favorite, Amy Grant's, Fat Little Baby. The tune is catchy. The lyrics are convicting. The message is concerning.

Read for yourself:

I know a man, maybe you know him, too.
You never can tell; he might even be you.
He knelt at the altar, and that was the end.
He’s saved, and that’s all that matters to him.
His spiritual tummy, it can’t take too much.
One day a week, he gets a spiritual lunch.
On sunday, he puts on his spiritual best,
And gives his language a spiritual rest.

He’s just a faaa...
He’s just a fat little baby!
Wa, wa, waaaaa....
He wants his bottle, and he don’t mean maybe.
He sampled solid foods once or twice,
But he says doctrine leaves him cold as ice.

Ba, ba, ba,,, ba!
He’s been baptized, sanctified, redeemed by the blood,
But his daily devotions are stuck in the mud.
He knows the books of the Bible and john 3:16.
He’s got the biggest king james you’ve ever seen!
I’ve always wondered if he’ll grow up someday.
He’s momma’s boy, and he likes it that way.
If you happen to see him, tell him I said,
He’ll never grow, if he never gets fed.

He’s just a fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fa-at, fat...
Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fa-at, fat...
Fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat,

Here is the part that rings so true with me:
"But he says doctrine leaves him cold as ice."

It is true, isn't it? Doctrine doesn't cut it. The sad thing is that for so many, they judge their spiritual fitness by their doctrinal diet. Diet is only part of the equation of spiritual health. The other is exercise. In other words, "Doing"

Doctrine plus Doing is the key to sheding that baby fat.
May we all lose a few pounds this week!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


My friend Bart Phillips has a great post about the tragic and triumphant passing of the young pastor in Waco who died last week.

Below are Kyle's final sermon notes exactly as he wrote them:

Live. And live well.

BREATHE. Breathe in and breathe deeply.

Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.

On a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun.

If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool autumn day to FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE.

Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time.

If you bike, pedal HARD and if you crash then crash well.

Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well done a paper well-written, a project thoroughly completed, a play well-performed.

If you must wipe the snot from your 3-year olds nose, don't be disgusted if the Kleenex didn't catch it all because soon he'll be wiping his own.

If you've recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And grieve well.

At the table with friends and family, LAUGH. If you're eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke.

And if you eat, then SMELL. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven.

And TASTE. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life.

Because it is most definitely a Gift.

Appropriate words for one who would soon meet their Giver of Life.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

What an amazing message!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Team Time. Dream Time.

Our Staff Retreat was this past weekend and we had a blast. It was a great mix of productivity and relaxation. I thought I'd share a little bit of the weekend (really just a Sunday afternoon through Monday night) with you. I've included an "open" letter that I wrote to my staff prior to departure as well as some pictures from the retreat itself. Our primary goals for our time together were to conduct a ministry analysis and increase our constantly growing staff unity. We have such a close staff and absolutely love each other. There is such a high level of trust and respect among us. We are committed to "pratice what we preach" as we attempt to call our church to function as a beautiful faith family and serve each other as Christ did. It has been an incredible first 2+ months.

I've been out of the blogging loop for so long. I hope that this entry will spring board a more consistent pattern of posting in the future. I just had to post about our staff. They truly are a blessing!

The letter I sent to the staff:

To The Best Staff in the Solar System, How does one express what an honor it is to serve arm and arm, back to back with fine servants like you? Your talent is amazing and yet it is your passion that I find so encouraging. I have to pinch myself every morning as I pull into the parking lot. The blessing given to me by you is an undeserved gift for which I thank God regularly.

Almost 30 years ago, a father of four and a machinist named Jerry Carroll made me an offer I could not refuse. He told me right before I took the mound of the biggest game of my short life that if our little league team, The San Carlos Reds, won the city championship he would pay for me to go to Church Camp. We won. I struck out 13. I went to camp. My life has never been the same.

A decade later God made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He asked me to follow him. I was baptized and for almost 20 years I have known the love, hope, presence, and power of Jesus Christ. I could have no greater blessing.

I wake up each morning passionate about the vocation to which God has called me. Whether I am preaching, encouraging, serving, or leading, I get to do what I love most. I love Christ’s church. I love communicating the work of the church, the hopes of the church, and the struggles of the church. I am blessed to be able to do that which is my passion.

It is because of my passion for the local church, and specifically OUR local church, Lake Cities Church of Christ, that I’m am beyond excited for our little retreat the next two days!

I hope you are equally as hope filled about the potential progress our time together can produce. Thank you for your willingness to participate with me in the strategic thinking process. Your partnership in this task not only benefits me, but I am confident that it will produce plenty of fruit in our entire faith family.

While our time together is brief, I truly believe that it will be blessed. I have provided you with a “tentative” time map of the next two days. As you know by now, the combination of my being chronologically challenged and open to the Spirit makes for a need to be very flexible. I do hope to stay on track as much as possible as I want to accomplish every objective and get us home at a decent hour on Monday night. That being said, this process is open to suggestions and if you feel the Spirit moving in you a need for us to pause or take a different direction, by all means, share that with us. This is “our” retreat, not Joel’s retreat. We are so blessed!

May the blessings we have received be used to bring glory to God, the only one who is worthy of the glory! And may we, the Lake Cities Staff, be blessed as we take the pilgrimage of which the next two days hold, the journey on which good is never enough.

“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it!”Matthew 16:18

You are loved!

Loving and Serving,


Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Emily & Rainey play in a sand trap

Matt chips around

Stephen & Stephanie relax by the pool

Kim & Karen chit chat

Stephen & I hard at work

Some quiet time by the lake

A Great Staff!