Monday, December 31, 2007

I went to Wal-Mart today and wanted to complain about the crowded conditions, the northerners, and the overcrowding...but as I consider what is taking place in my second homeland it all pales in comparison. Kenya, a country of nearly 34 million people, just had their elections, the sitting president has been re-elected, but not without controversy, the hanging chad's of Florida and all the upset of that election are nothing, the Kenyans have taken it to the street! Stores are being looted, buildings are being burned, and lives have been taken. One of my friend has opened his home as a refuge and says that Kenya is close to a civil war, other are sending email requesting our prayerful support. Pray for Kenya, these are wonderful people in desperate need of God's intervention! I love Kenya, have been many times and will continue to go the remainder of my life, how I long for their safety and peace, may God give them grace and may the church of Jesus Christ arise in powerful ministry during these difficult times!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Blessed 2 Bless 2B Blessed

The Lord of Heaven blessed me this year with a number of gift cards for Starbucks, people who know me know that it is definitely close to an addiction in my life. Today my wife, our oldest daughter and myself visited one of the Starbucks in the mall, I ordered a tall caramel frap, a tall and a grande strawberry and cream frap, much to my delight the total cost was just over eight should have been closer to twelve! As the barrister went over my order we quickly discovered she had missed mine, the larger one, I told her I'd get my trusty gift card out again to which she replied, "Don't Worry About It!" I was taken aback and insisted, no she said, I've got it! Looking around I noticed the tip jar, assumed it would be split by the many, so I took out a five and said, "Well, you take this!", she tried to resist but I smiled, insisted, and walked off, she stood there grinning and my daughter seemed pleased.

This year I probably received 45.00 in Starbucks gift cards, the one I usually drink is 4.00, that's eleven cups of coffee, that's a caffeine heaven, it also became an opportunity to be be a blessing and to be blessed.

God blesses us in order to be a blessing, nothing is meant to be kept totally, we may not always give all of our stuff away, but once we've been blessed we need to look for the opportunity to bless others. I left feeling like I had given a hundred bucks away, when in truth, it was just a dollar over the price of the drink she blessed me with. There was something about giving that money to that young lady that made me feel like a minister!

I'm not meaning to brag, please don't misunderstand, I use this example because it's fresh to me, I want to be a blesser, to impact others without any reason or without seeking a return, if we do, there will be a return, in fact, it will be instant, you will obtain the joy of giving, of imparting something of value into the lives of others and that is powerful.

What would happen this year if we determined to be blessers? What if beyond our normal giving of tithe and offerings, missions and other types of giving, we looked for opportunities to bless people, whether it be a financial blessing, a card or email, a gift, a book, or just a phone call? Wonder how many people we could encourage in the next 365 days? What if once a month we did something out of the norm? Here's a thought, what if you blessed someone you have had a hard time with, knowing that they may not respond initially in a positive manner? Let's try it and see what the Lord will do in our lives!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas and Children
This has been a busier than usual holiday season, had to do most of my shopping on the run. Finally got it done, or so I thought...Christmas Eve my wife and I went to Golden Corral for breakfast, walked in at 9:00 AM, they're doors are open but they don't open until 10:00 AM, so we go to K-Mart for the 2.79 special, the place was packed, so we ended up at IHOP in Dade City nine miles away. From there we went to Wal-Mart for our weekly grocery shopping, I nearly backslid, had a heart attack and went crazy all at the same time...but we were I thought! We all start wrapping presents and the baby, our eight year old, starts counting presents...I'm back out to Wal-Mart...two of them to be exact, I got what I was looking for, but it took two stores and an hour to get there, and my baby got a brief, but kind reminder from her mother of the need to be appreciative! Today has been a good day, presents were accepted with great gratitude, dinner was wonderful, and I've been busy putting stuff together, batteries installed, and electronics hooked up...I got a clock that I can put my Ipod in and play it through...pretty cool and I've had several opportunities to use my new pocket knife...I am a real Floridian! 2007 has been a good year, I've been blessed with a wonderful family and the Lord has shown me great favor...thanks for being a part of my life this year...see you in the blogs!

Friday, December 21, 2007

I've been glued to the television for four nights watching The Clash of the Choirs. Two hours each night, I even slipped out of the Christmas cookie night at church to come home and set my DVR...Only for Nick Lachey to win...No Way! First of all, we could have got it all done in one hour, but his team while good, wasn't that good...Patti LaBelle and team LaBelle were off the charts...It's unbelievable, my day is ruined...well, that and the fact that I woke up before six this morning and couldn't go back to sleep and that my daughter lost her cell phone and we have to go shopping today...Go Patti!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Need I Say More? Caffe Mocha with a shot of Vanilla on my desk right now!
Eight Random Thoughts
I've been tagged by my friend Barbara on Tidbits and Treasures, check out her blog some time it's awesome. I'm supposed to share eight random things about myself:
  1. I'm 45
  2. I'm the oldest of two...My sister is 3 years younger than me
  3. I'm addicted to Starbucks
  4. I can't stand for the tags in clothing to show
  5. I dipped my cats feet in the bathtub while I was in it last night
  6. I hate Nextel cellular service but continue using it
  7. I love Florida
  8. I've been married 20 years to the most awesome friend in the world!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

O My Goodness!
This past Sunday we had the most incredible experience! We ate at a Brazilian Grill called Texas DeBrazil. There are over 60 items on the salad bar, and then they start bringing the meat out on a spit, they carve you off a piece and then come around again and again and again. I think that there were at least ten different types of meat, we didn't eat all of them, but several...incredible is all that I can say. Then we went to the Bass Pro Shop, not necessarily my style of shopping, but it was I must say a good experience, they have absolutely the most fantastic selection of stuff for the outdoorsman! Christmas time in Florida, there's nothing like it! We're having a cool spell...down to 70 today!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Being Boring Is So Boring!
My children tell me from time to time that I'm old, I so appreciate their kind words...I usually follow up by telling them they're grounded...they appreciate me even more then! I may be old but I don't intend on being boring! It is my earnest intention to remain on the cutting edge, to keep myself up to date, out of the box, across the top, and to make sure I know where I am and where I'm going...I can't stand to be bored and don't want to be boring. Life is an exciting journey filled with surprises, corners to be turned, trials to be faced, decisions to be made, and life to be lived. Life is full of Starbuck's, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Cold Stone, Baskin Robbins and my soon to be favorite Texas DeBrazil...all of these places go outside the norm and offer something beyond McDonald's, Burger King and Arby's, their menu, their atmosphere, and their purpose for existence is cross over into area no one else is going. Don't you ever get tired of being like everyone else? Cookie Cutter Christians, Parrot People, folks that just say, do, and look like everyone else, it just doesn't work for me, I want to identify with others and don't want to impose my will on anyone, but I don't want to just be the same, following in someone else's wake, I want to create a wake others can follow...Just don't want to be boring!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

August Rush
My wife and I went to see the movie August Rush this evening, it is absolutely one of the most phenomenal movies I've ever seen. Simple story of a couple that met, got separated, she had a baby, it was given up for adoption unknown to her and a journey begins within all three to find one another. The child is a musical of those destiny type movies, makes you want to shout in the movie! I will buy this one the day it comes out!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm Going To Fire My Wife!
My wife works at our school as the Art, Music, and PE teacher, she is pretty and quite incredible! I'm thinking of firing her...think it may put me on the couch? She is working hard to get her Christmas musical ready for two night of performance next week, one week from today to be exact. Two or three weeks ago she requested that we purchase wireless mics for her, I responded no, we will rent some...I've told her this three she asked me if I had gotten the mics wasn't good...I am the chancellor you know...I could fire her...I would be in deep doo doo! I just needed to say it out loud...I'm better now, she's still beautiful, employed and I love her...but if she asks the fourth'll be the same!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm A True Floridian Now!
Being raised in the Chicago area I have prided myself on being quite Northern. Raised by southern parents I eat more southern than northern, except that I love Italian Beef, Gyro's, and Thin Pizza, all Chicago's finest...I have no southern accent, though I have lived and ministered much in the south over the past twenty years...I drink sweet tea with lemons like it's going out of style and have a deep love and appreciation for the south...tonight I became a true Floridian! After finishing a fine Cuban meal of black beans, yellow rice and roast pork, I opened my Christmas gift from our pastoral family at our annual staff Christmas party...A brand spanking new Winchester pocket knife! What every true southern gentleman needs...Even though Florida really isn't considered the deep south...we're deeper than anywhere else...I am now a Floridan!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Florida Christmas
Today it is nearly 80 degrees, last night there was a Christmas parade in the town next to ours, there are Christmas decorations up all over our's 80's! Christmas in Florida seems strange, I love it, but it is really different...I'm trying to get my wife to do away with the Christmas trees and decorate isn't working! The Yankees have returned, in full force and I believe they've brought more with them, our town of 30-40 thousand has now become a town of e nearly 90 thousand and more are on their way. Traffic is slow, restaurants are packed, and the stores are filled with wheel chairs and those little motorized carts...I keep getting stuck in lines at Walmart surrounded by seniors and behind people who have some type of issue that requires the calling of someone or the return of something...I'm trying to be patient and haven't blown a gasket ...yet! Last night I went to a Holy Spirit conference near Orlando, Pastor Ron Phillips was the guest speaker, it was timely and powerful, many were touched. The Holy Spirit asked me a simple question as we stood worshiping, "What are you leaving the next generation?" I'm still working on an answer!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Is Everyone Right?
In 1980 I had a spiritual encounter while at a college retreat in North Dakota, while kneeling in front of a window overlooking a lake, the Holy Spirit spoke a simple word into my spirit, "I have called you to be a pastor!" From that time I have desired to pastor a growing congregation, a group of people who love God with all of their hearts, who worship with passion, who minister to others with zeal and a harvest mindset, who give generously, who believe in global missions and most of all, believe that life is all about God! Simple as it sounds, that has been my dream and mission for nearly 29 years. The Body of Christ is in a season of transition, shifting, a time of decision, we are seeking to follow Christ and to be all that we can be, and it isn't always easy. There are many voices telling us which way to go, conservatives that tell us just hold the fort, don't make any waves, traditionalist that are convinced they are the only way to go, moderates that say we must blend yesterday and today in order to reach tomorrow, and then there are the emerging, those that say the past really doesn't matter we must become the church eventually...We debate over styles of dress and worship, wear jeans and t-shirts, suits and ties, sing old worn out hymns and new found worship songs, it seems that we are trying to determine what is right. Could it be it's all right? Could it be that we need to hold on to the foundation of our faith given by our forefathers, that some traditions have a place, and yes, we are constantly growing, or emerging into what God has always desired for us to be? Is it possible that in some places jeans and t-shirts are ok, while in others suits and ties are more appropriate, and that what is happening is we are trying to create a cookie cutter church where everyone is just the same? For me, I believe we're in a crisis of faith, we must know what we believe and who we are, how we express it and what each church does to make their ministries effective is going to be different. Our foundational truth can never change, who we are deep inside must always be secure, truth never changes and the Word always works! Solomon said that when it's said and done we need to love and fear God, keep His commandments, this is the whole duty of man while on earth!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The scripture keeps going through my mind that says that in everything we are to give thanks, to rejoice in the Lord always, and to be thankful and bless His holy name. I am thankful today for the Lord, His amazing grace and constant love...I'm such a loser, who knows why He cares for me, but I'm so thankful that He does. I am thankful for my family and friends, for my church and pastoral family...I'm thankful that it doesn't snow in Florida and that we aren't freezing to death...I'm thankful for the freedom to express myself and for the opportunities that have been afforded me...I'm thankful for the huge Thanksgiving dinner we enjoyed today, turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, no stuffing, and punch bowl angel food cake...Can you say stuffed? I'm thankful for my blogland friends and wish each of you a Happy Holiday Season!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

football fans
We're sitting in Beef O Brady's this afternoon having lunch when our oldest daughter starts giggling. There are two little old ladies sitting at the bar wearing Indianapolis Colts Jersey's watching the football game, one of them has a sign "Go Colts!" that she holds in front of the television periodically....sports fans just aren't right! My wife is the sports fanatic in our home, I just go to my room and shut the door. When she gets a sign to post in front of the television I'm her a special with rubber sound proof walls!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Past, The Present, and The Future
I returned to my home state of Illinois last week to minister in Carmi, IL. Though I am from the Chicago area and Carmi is in the southern part of the state, it was quite the joy to be home for a few days and to enjoy fellow Illinoisan's! In fact, on my last full day there I traveled further south to Golconda, population 750 where I spent two and half years of my life as a child, and on down to Dixon Springs, a quick visit to the Chocolate Factory, owned and operated by Jim and Linda Meherg, friends and family that I've known and loved my entire life. While in Carmi I ministered to a congregation that has a tremendous past, established many years ago, pastored by some top notch pastors, this church has such a rich history, I drove past their first building, and their second building, and I preached in their new third building. The congregants of this church are middle age and up, many of them past 60, and maybe even 70. As you look down the walls you see the old stain glass windows of the old church embedded and lit up in the walls of the new church, and you hear the echoes of the past shouting into the present, prophesying to the future...Your time is now! I loved yesterday, it was a great day, it created opportunities for today, it blessed me with a fantastic foundation. In my yesterday someone paid a price that I could never have paid, they paved paths for me to follow, and they prayed that God would raise me up to take the reins when they could no longer lead, but that was yesterday...I live in today! Today is a great day, it was tomorrow yesterday, just as today will be yesterday tomorrow! Today I have the opportunity to pave the way for others, to impart into this present generation, into my family and friends, to impress upon my children the urgency of living in today, or as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The fierce urgency of now!" Today is the day the Lord has made and now is the time to rejoice and be glad. Today is the day to touch others, to impact lives, to make a difference in the world I live in...To live in My Space to the fullest! Tomorrow will never come, it will become today, what I want to be in my tomorrow must be planted today! In his book "The Present", C. Spencer Johnson offers these three options for life: a.) Appreciate your past, b.) Live in your present, c.) Plan for your future! We cannot afford to forget yesterday, but we must live in today, we cannot afford not to plan for tomorrow, we must sow into tomorrow...Today! I am convinced that we can learn from where we've been, enjoy where we are, and become what we've always been destined to be!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hanging Around The House!
Since August I've been gone as much if not more than I've been home, so when I flew in Thursday it was a thrill knowing that I am home for four weeks...That's right, four weeks! As I was flying into Tampa on Thursday my wife was flying to Dayton, OH to visit her family in Hamilton, her Dad turned 80 this week and her birthday was on Friday. So I'm here at home with my two daughters, one of which is rarely home and the other is either trying to be gone or to have some one come over, and then there's the pets, a dog, a cat that is crazy, and a new goldfish...if history proves to be true the fish will have a limited tenure here, we'll see! Last night my little one and I made the quick trip to Duncan Donuts, after 2:00 PM if you buy six you get six free...we bought six and got six, five are already gone, thank goodness only two of us are home, we'd be fighting for that last donut! Have you ever snuck into the kitchen to grab the last donut before your child got it? I have to admit, that's pretty bad but I've done it! There's no place like home, getting back into the swing of things, getting caught up and reconnected...There's probably a spiritual lesson to be learned here...for now I just want to quote the great prophet Ty Pennington, "Welcome Home Smith Family, Welcome Home!"

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Intense Searching
Have you ever lost something that you just knew was still around, you just had to find it? You turn the car, house, office, briefcase, whatever you can find and wherever you have either been or think you've been or even thought about going in hopes that the item will show up. I have, it's one of the most frustrating feelings in the world, especially when you either don't find it or it was right out in the open and you looked over it forty times...Kind of like loosing your keys and they're in your hand! In Luke 15, Jesus told the parable of three lost things: a Lost Sheep, a Lost Coin, and a Lost Son, while He dealt primarily with the concept of being lost, He also revealed the necessity of intense searching. The fact that the lost item had such value that it could not remain lost, it had to be found regardless of the time and cost it took to find it. We generally use these scriptures to describe the lost sinner, the person who doesn't know the Lord and have a walking relationship with Him, but what if it goes beyond that? What if we can be saved, know and love the Lord, and still be lost? Is it possible that we become lost to ourselves, to others, and yes, lost to the relationship we have with Jesus, but not lost from Him? Is it possible that there are times when we lose our joy, our spunk, our desire, our intensity and must seek diligently until we find it? I think so, personally, there have been times when I just wasn't certain who I was anymore, I knew my geographical location, but wasn't sure of my place there, I had to search for myself, had to refind myself, and sometimes it required intense searching... I've also found that I and my stuff are usually where I left them, much like the student who came to the prophet sorrowful that he had lost a borrowed axhead. The prophet asked a simple question, "Where did it fall?", to which the student, in the water...he knew exactly where he lost his edge and I contend that most of the time we do too...We just have to look for it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lost Thunder
After years of being the "Big Dog" and the only pet in our home, thanks to the baby kitten, Gizmo has lost his thunder. A baby kitten is cute and cuddly, cries allot and needs much attention, is small and light as a feather, he's just a baby...and is getting that new child attention...So our dog looks like he might be depressed. On top of that the kitten has him on the run, he's afraid of it, I keep calling him a girl, which is better than my usual daily dose of calling him an idiot! I think I've lost my thunder a few times, moments when I wasn't sure of who I was, where my place was, and wondered if I really fit. Nothing anyone could say or do was enough to make me feel better or change the way I was thinking, I just had to work it out...Maybe I can learn a lesson from my dog!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stormy Winds & My Two Sons!
Last night in Jensen Beach we felt the effects of Tropical Storm Noel, rain came along with strong winds, at times I thought the tent was going to blow over. Yet, the Lord revealed Himself through His Word and by the working of the Holy Spirit. As simple as this sounds I am so thankful that God knows who we are, where we are, and how to touch our lives, if it were not for the Lord where would we be? While I was gone there was an addition to our home, a new kitten...He is so cute and crazy, one minute he's licking on my finger, the next he's trying to eat me...I've fallen in love with him already! And then there's Gizmo, our Shitzu. We've had him since our 15 year was in third grade and until today I've never actually touched him...I don't touch dogs...Period! Today I guess I felt guilty for paying so much attention to the new addition that I actually petted him a couple times and let him ride in the car with me...I'm quite confident it won't become a habit, but it stretched me to say the least!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Today's Stuff
Since August I've been traveling like a crazy man, been to Chicago, Kenya, Illinois, Ohio twice, and am presently in Jensen Beach, FL. Tonight I preach in a tent revival, last night there water in the tent, and the Lord revealed Himself in a beautiful way, I'm going home after tonight's service. Saturday I'm off to Illinois, and then home for four weeks...PTL. In all of my travels I have come to appreciate the goodness of the Lord, the protection and provision of the Lord, my wife and children, my pastor and church, and my own bed! There really is not place like home, I'm clicking my heels right now. There's also a new addition to our home, Coco, a six week old kitten, I left yesterday afternoon and he moved in shortly afterward, we haven't met but I am confident that we'll be fine. Thanks to all that read here, I'll write something good later, just wanted to stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

They're Back.....
Leave for a week and what do you get when you return? Northerners, Yankees in Cadillacs and RV's, eateries stuffed to the gills with 80 year olds asking for the senior discount, telling the waitresses what to do...and Walmart, aisle filled with shopping carts and motorized wheel chairs! I suppose it's good for our economy, and on the most part they are beautiful and wonderful people, they can't drive or walk fast, but that certainly isn't a character flaw. After all, we always say the South is going to rise again, who knew it would as the result of Yankees who couldn't stand the cold so they came to the kitchen! From one Yankee to 50,000...Welcome Home...We really are glad you're here!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Proclaiming Our Passion
I read an article today about blogging, it suggested that we should blog about the things we are passionate about which really got me thinking, what am I passionate about? Starbucks is an addiction for me, I love Caffe Mocha with a shot of vanille, Duece De Leche...when they've got it, and an occasional Caramel Macchiato. Wherever I am I do my best to eat my way through that town or city, Tony Paco's in Toledo, Webber Grill in Chicago, Ach & Lou's in Aurora, The Columbia in Tampa, Jenny's Diner in list is endless and yes, I am overweight...170 lbs today! But what am I passionate about? I love Jesus, He is everything to me and I want to know Him, love Him, reflect Him, and to please Him. I have an awesome family, a wife of 20 years, two phenomenal daughters, a mother who continues to be amazing, a sister that I'm quite proud of, Im quite passionate about them. Ministry, I'll celebrate 29 years of ministry this July, 26 of them I have been full time either as a evangelist or pastor. I love being in ministry, love church, people and pastoral families...God has given me the choice occupation, it hasn't always been easy or pleasant, but it is fulfilling and I would never want to do anything else. And lastly, writing, I love to write, to express my thoughts, to share my feelings, to release the voice within me. I'm not always confident that I'm doing it well, I'm just happy to do it. So from this point on, I'm going to boldy proclaim my passion. What are you passionate about? What are you doing to make it work for you? Can I join you in the journey?
I'm on my way! The reservationist is on hold, but we are patiently waiting, Dali Chicken is my earnest quest!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Adjust The Settings!

We have a calendar on our church web site that shares all the monthly activities of our church. It's not a fancy thing, quite basic in nature, but it allows us to share what we do and for others to participate in which ever activities interest them. Last week I just happened to venture by our web site and check the schedule, you won't believe the shock that over took me when I noticed that all of my entries simply read: "Busy", the times were correct, but it just said "Busy!" I wasn't sure how that happened and was hoping that no one else had noticed, or at least no one I knew...well, you know it couldn't be that easy, someone stopped by my office today and mentioned it...I was horrified, well, bothered to say the least.
Quickly I emailed our web host and asked how to fix this error of mine, what is it that I need to to, after a brief response from him I went to my calendar provider and low and behold, the checking of one box opened my calendar to the whole world...I just needed to adjust the setting.
There's a spiritual lesson to be learned here, often in life we see things as blurred and out of sync, life as we know it is out of adjustment and we don't know what to do. If you're like me, and you are, we look for all sorts of things to correct our situations, we call people, email them, ask their advise, all the while hoping for some complex answer to solve our simple issue...We need to check the settings!
The settings are those places in our lives where God has made deposits, the entrance points of the Holy Spirit where He has touched us, places that in times past have been rearranged by the Lord to improve our serve. Settings are those areas the Word of God speaks to directly in us, things we don't have to pray about, we just have to do them. Isn't it amazing how we can avoid the settings and ask God to move in places He's already in, to speak about things He's already addressed? We get so busy in life that we look for something quick and easy, or we believe our situation is so unique that we overlook the obvious...check the settings!
When I was a new convert my mother talked about my shine, the glow of the Lord in my new found relationship with Him. As I learned to walk with Him I quickly found out that Christianity doesn't remove humanity, and that I continuously needed to adjust my shine so that I could continue to reflect the glory of the Lord...Sometimes we just need to be tweaked!

Habakkuk 3:2 (The Message)

1-2 A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk, with orchestra: God, I've heard what our ancestors say about you, and I'm stopped in my tracks, down on my knees. Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them. And as you bring judgment, as you surely must, remember mercy.
How I need to hear a word that renews the awesomeness of God to the very core of my being! To be reminded and to actually remind myself that it's all about Him and not me. I don't want to return to the good old days, I want to make sure I'm where I'm supposed to be today...To make sure I'm still connected. Lord, let me hear Your words and be in awe, to be afraid in a godly reverence, not afraid of You, to be to fearful of offending You...This is my prayer today!

Monday, October 15, 2007

When my wife and I married we agreed that we would wait five years before we had children, after all, we were going to be evangelists the rest of our lives and may never have kids...too busy working for the Lord you know! Our first children was born within a month and half of our fifth anniversary, while we were in our second much for life long evangelism. After Kaitlin came around we were never having any more children, I couldn't imagine loving another as much as I loved/love her, then we went on vacation, there was a baby epidemic in North Carolina where we were vacationing and I came home wanting another little one. Today I'm home with my eight year old, she's got a fever and a tummy ache, so I brought her home from school, she went immediately to bed and I haven't seen her since. It bothers me when my kids are sick, when I can't fix the wrong things, sick things, inner things, when I can't make things different for them. I struggle when I don't have all the answers, when I have to tell them no, or that we can't afford it, or not now. It bothers me when they struggle and when they hurt...I want to make it better. I wonder how the Lord feels when we struggle? Our issues and struggles, our sickness and our pain are no problem for Him, but I wonder how God feels when His kids are sick?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

USF vs UCF=64 to 12 Several of the guys from our church ventured to Tampa today for the football game between USF and UCF. It was a great game, I had a wonderful all beef hotdog and a huge coke, great fellowship, and our team won...I am the most non-athletic person on the face of the earth, but enjoyed being with my friends and am glad our team won! All I can say is....Go Bulls!
Where Are You Going?
I've been reading some blogs and message boards and have become disturbed at the belief system of many Christians. It appears that more believers are believing less and then we wonder why unbelievers don't believe in Christ. There appears to be a surge of questioning of Biblical truth, I I am reminded of the words of the Prophet Isaiah who said that if the foundations be destroyed where will the unrighteous appear? If we as believers question the foundational truths of scripture, if we no longer believe that scripture is divinely inspired, that Jesus is the only way, or that there is a hell, if we no longer believe that a person must repent and turn to Christ, why should some one who doesn't know the Lord want to? I've also noticed that while there is a questioning of hell, there isn't any questions about heaven...Let me suggest that we can't have our pie and eat it to...If there is no hell, there probably isn't a heaven! I'm all for progression, for making the church relevant, check out New Vision Ministry Center in Louisville and you will see a progressive church that has taken foundational truths and implemented them into an extremely progressive setting, I love it...Yet I am concerned that there is with some a turning and questioning of truth that is unhealthy. Jude said we must earnestly contend for the faith...fight for the truth! We are called to study the scripture, which most definitely includes asking questions and knowing for ourselves, not just accepting a belief system at face value...but the Word of God works, it speaks for itself! After Jesus fed the multitudes the Bible says that many of His disciples went away and walked with Him no more. Jesus asked the twelve, "Will you also go away?" The response is incredible, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You are the Christ and You have the words of eternal life!" Where are you going?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hangers, Ings, & Things
I have some issues and am probably in need of some serious counseling or Prozac, or both! Can anyone explain to me how clothes hangers disappear in the same house they were used in? At my house I do the laundry during the school year, without fail each week we are short a hanger or two, and no one knows how that happens. Also, when you remove a clothing item the empty hanger should never be left among the clothes still hanging, it should be placed in a designated spot, but each week I search for hangers...frustrating! And then, there's this thing of not using the "G" on ing words, like going, showin, doin, leavin, complainin, eatin...etc. What's up with that? It's kind of like preaching from the Book of Revelations instead of the Book of Revelation or talking about the Fruits of the Spirit instead of the Fruit of the Spirit...I told you I have issues! Not that I'm perfect, but it isn't hard to take the hanger off the rack and it shouldn't disappear if it's placed in the right spot and adding a "G" and leaving off an "S" wouldn't hurt anyone would it? Of course, my issues are just my issues...In fact, maybe this is just about me in the first place! And isn't it amazing how easy it is to see others issues and to make them our own, when in truth, we're still a work in progress ourselves! Maybe it's not counseling or Prozac that I need after all, perhaps I just need to relax and let life take it's course, it will all work out in the end!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Whew...I'm Not Going To Jail!
My income tax is due this Monday, I mailed my information to my CPA last week from the wrong tax stuff is lost in USPO space and there are three actual working days before taxes are due...was I scared or what? It's the last thing on my mind when I go to bed and the first thing when I get up, wake up in the middle of the night...right there on my forehead. Today I was able to get the information together, faxed and already heard back some good news! Whew, I just knew I was going to be involved in a prison ministry from the inside and am so thankful that I'm not!

Monday, October 08, 2007

New Release
Several Years ago I began to send out e-devotionals to the congregations that I was pastoring. It began as announcements with a thought attached and became a devotional. Now I write bi-weekly if not weekly, usually sharing a thought, a life event, or a prophetic insight, and some times something just plain stupid. This past week I decided to write a book using these devotionals, it won't be a novel or a spiritual revelation, no it will be a thought on paper, the rantings and ravings of a man on a journey, of a person with a passion to release something that is deep within his belly. I'm pretty pumped about this, this first writing will be a office produced experiment, my secretary will create a colorful cover, we'll use our church binding machine and it will be a short production, but it is a start and I'm excited. Inside of each of us there is something waiting to be released, something God has placed deep within us and is waiting to see what we do with it. Call a seed, a kingdom deposit, a gift or a talent, whatever it is, it's there and we all have it...whatever it is! If someone asked me what I would do if I could do what I want to do, I would write all the time and preach on the weekends. If I could live by preaching on Sundays and writing, it would be awesome...not that I don't like what I'm doing now...I do...I'm talking about that living your dream stuff we all have...Whatever I do, I want to be creative, to glorify God, to bless others, and to make a difference in other peoples lives! What's inside of you that needs to come out?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I have just concluded a series of revival meetings in Elyria, OH, and am now spending a couple days with my friends. My flight leaves on Saturday afternoon and I can't wait to get home. I've missed my wife and daughters, our oldest daughter Kaitlin has been sick, but she is doing better, the Lord has ministered to her. She also informed me that if I were to buy her something it would help...I offered to share my new House of Blues shirt...she's not buying the offer! I've missed my world, Oasis World Outreach, Heritage Academy, the babies in K-3, my office and my pastor. I've missed Florida, there really is no place like home! While I've missed all these things terribly, I needed to be here and will leave with a refreshed spirit. Something happened in my spirit this week, I felt no pressure to perform, didn't need to be anything I wasn't, the people received me...for me! Service after service I shared God's Word, and they received and responded to it, they pulled the preach right out of me and allowed me to say what I felt the Holy Spirit said to me...And then we went home! Perhaps it's just a preacher thing, but it was a joy to minister to people that simply loved God and wanted His Word and that enjoyed hanging out with a little fat guy from Florida. I will return home fresh and renewed, ready for the next place, encouraged and ready to love God, love people, and to tell them of the awesome grace of's our mission you know! PS: For those who think my wife doesn't really exist, this is our picture at a recent Tampa Bay Devil Rays game. I'm looking old and fat, she's still hot after all of these years! She's younger than me of course...I married up!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My Daughter Is Sick...Would You Pray For Her?
Last night our youth pastor brought our oldest daughter home from dance practice saying that her chest had been hurting, her pulse was racing, and she was having difficulty breathing. My wife took her to a Urgent Care facility where they got her calmed down, did a breathing treatment and determined she doesn't have pneumonia. We're not certain what is going on with her, but she has not well for several weeks, has headaches quite often and simply needs the touch of the Lord. I'm in Ohio, so while I can't really do anything for her, I want her to be well and I believe that God heals and that when people pray God moves. For me it really is that simple. So if you read my blog today, would you mind whispering a prayer for my baby? Thanks!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lost Lives
Brittney Spears lost custody of her children's really a sad thing. I don't watch her and am neither a fan nor defender of her. She has made choices on her own and is now reaping what she has sown, but it is still a sad thing, after all, our society created her and now it's going to crucify her. Here is a person with charisma, talent, finances, and two precious children, she has issues and has not been able to resolve them. Recently her return to the stage was less than perfect, greatly criticized, and now her private life is being made public. But tonight when she gets home it won't be a secretary or publicity agent or a nanny explaining to her children that they can't live with Mommy anymore, it will be Brittney. Can she or should she return to show business, she probably can, I wouldn't. I would get my act together, my children back into my life, my addictions under control and tell the rest of the world where to go...this girl needs Jesus and some people in her life that aren't saying what she wants to hear but what she needs to hear. She needs people that have the ability to create an atmosphere of restoration and healing. Lost people lead lost lives, they simply need to be found...I pray someone finds Brittney before it's too late!
Cleveland Rocks!
I'm in Elyria, OH this week with my good friends Thom and Janet Cody, they have a great church and are such awesome people...I love being around them! We've had three phenomenal services, there has been no pressure to perform, just open to allowing the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to work in their lives. They have a number of older people, these people have absolutely blessed my soul beyond words, they worship, they receive the Word, and they respond to it. I love to watch them praying in the altar and ministering to one another, it's fantastic! Elyria is just outside of Cleveland, yesterday I went to Cleveland, visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ate lunch at the House of Blues...I know, I'm such a sinner, but the Lord must not have minded too much, He still used me last night! The city is awesome, if it didn't get cold and lots of snow I could probably live there...That Florida weather just can't be beat, but Cleveland Rocks!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Where In The World Are We?
I consider myself an open minded person, a positive thinker, even though I go on sometimes here about being depressed, wore out with people, frustrated with cranky old men, I really am open to allot of things. With all of my heart I want to be progressive and relevant, a discerner of the times with an understanding of what we ought to be doing, especially as it pertains to being a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ! With all of that said, I am bothered. Last week I was watching Extreme Home Makeover, the builders were creating a new home for a lady who had several children with HIV/AIDS, the team went to some type of concert where a young child, couldn't have been over 12 said that her church kicked her out, that her pastor told her and her family that they weren't welcome, it would be best for them to find another place to worship...It ticked me off. How can we say that we are believers, that Christ dwells in us and yet take this kind of approach. Isn't the church in the people business? Didn't Jesus come to seek and save the lost, to heal the sick, and to mend the broken hearted? Aren't we supposed to do the same things He did and greater? Or have we come to the point that church is about us, that we're supposed to feel better, collect a long list of prophecies, weep over the lost that aren't in the building and then avoid them at all cost? I spoke with an angry, hurting pastor today, a person hungry to see ministry take place in his congregation, but the people simply want a good sermon on Sunday and to be left alone. Where are we in this end time world? Is this really the church we want Christ to return for?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Minding Your Own Business
I was getting fuel in my car a few days ago, my wife was sitting in the car enjoying the air conditioning, when an older man pulled up to the pump next to me. He noticed that my car was running and then proceeded to ask me if my car was running, I told him it was and he then asked me again if it was running..."You're not supposed to pump gas with your car running, why don't you turn your car off?" "I don't want to!" Was my reply, he then turned and complained to his wife. Why did this guy care if my car was running, he didn't work there...People simply wear me out?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

How Full Is Your Glass?
Our pastor began a new sermon series this morning that spoke to my heart. He's talking about "Attitude Is Everything!", that how we perceive our lives determine how we live, that perception is about positioning ourselves, it means that we make a decision as to how we will relate to a thing, and how we relate to it determines the outcome. Do I see the glass half empty or do I see it half full? The line of half is the same whether it be empty or full, the difference is we either see it almost to the top or almost to the bottom, either at the beginning or at the end. If I see a thing almost over then I will begin to shut down, slowing my pace and preparing to end my journey. If I see it half full, I will understand that I'm closer to the top and believe that I'm in the winner's circle. It's easier to see empty than full, but it's necessary to see full rather than empty. When we see full we see success and accomplishment, we see potential and believe that God is turning things around. He we see things determine our approach, and how we approach a thing determines others responses. I'm not talking about false reality, I'm talking faith, works, a positive attitude, and confidence that God is not finished with us! How full is your glass?

Friday, September 21, 2007

K & M
Today is our youngest daughter, Madison's birthday. She is eight years old, blond, blue eyed, weighs 40 pounds if she's wet and wearing a heavy towel and shoes. Such a beautiful with a spirit that is kind and calm, she loves the Disney channel, the computer, her friends, and her hero is her older sister Kaitlin. Kaitlin calls Maddie her " mini-me!" Both of our children are hilarious. Happy Birthday Baby!
Kaitlin, our 15 year old is a phenomenal child, she's driving now, looks and acts like she's at least 23, sometimes has quite the attitude, and is brilliant. She is a prophetic young lady, sees spiritual things in unique and unusual manners, dreams prophetically, speaks in the same way, and yet has the ability to keep her feet on the ground and not be off the wall. She wants to be an attorney, I want her to send me a monthly check so I can retire!
Julie and I are so blessed to have such beautiful daughters, when they were little I was always afraid something would happen to them, I would go into their rooms and pray over them in their sleep, if they weren't moving I would touch them lightly to make them move or to hear them breath...I don't do that anymore, though I still want to...Now I just pray for their protection, for wisdom, that they continue to walk out their salvation, and that God will begin now to prepare men for them that can keep up with them, provide for them, and that will love and protect them as I do...Call me sentimental, I am a blessed man!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Am Blessed
I'm sitting in the home office of my friend Darrell in Galesburg, IL., we've had a fantastic revival, the Lord has ministered in a special way. This week I've had the opportunity to fellowship with a fantastic family, minister to a wonderful congregation, share our missions ministry, to which a crowd of 28 people gave an offering of 750.00, and I have enjoyed time with ministers of Illinois. As I age I am coming to appreciate people and value relationships in a deeper manner. Don't misunderstand, I've always loved people, but these days I value friends and family more than ever in my life. It's important to me to make a deposit in others, appreciate not only what they deposit in me, but who they are to me. This evening my best friend of 20 years will pick me up after church, drive me three hours to his home and we'll spend the day together in Chicago doing all sorts of things, it's going to be awesome...I want to make an impact on some one else's life, to be awesome to them as so many have been to me and to always be thankful...always.......! The picture I'm using today is a picture of my Kenyan brother and sister, Titus and Dorothy, they pastor two churches in the bush country, serve as the bishop of Mike Sloan Ministries International/Missionaries In Action Kenya, and most of all are two of my closest friends. We email weekly and when I step off the plane he is waiting for me, drops everything to spend the two weeks I am there and make sure I am able to accomplish my goals...We spend hours talking and asking each questions, discovering the most of our differences aren't all that different after all...We're depositing into each other's lives...Who can you make a deposit in today?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I Will Wait For The Children!
Several years ago a prophetic word was given to the church I was pastoring that said the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon the earth prior to the return of Christ in an unprecedented manner. We've heard that, read it in the scripture, and believe that it not only will happen, but is presently happening around the world. What spoke loudly to me in that word was the next phrase, "And I Will Wait For The Children!" God is a covenant God, He thinks in generations, not just who is here today, but who is to come. One of the Psalms states that these things are written that a generation yet to be born may praise the Lord. There is something about the children, about future seed that captures the heart of God. While the concept of children causes my mind to consider small ones and youth, to God, who is the Ancient of Days, He considers all of us children, and He is waiting for us to step into what He is doing. Scriptures assures us that in the last of days the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord, glory is heaviness or weightiness, the awesome presence of God that consumes our lives. To those who can see it, it's already here, others continue to wait. I was reading yesterday in the book of Habbakkuk, where the prophet prays that the people will receive an awareness of the glory that will cover the earth...That's what I pray for today, an awareness, let me see what I haven't seen, let others observe the fullness of God's grace and glory, and may many son's and daughter's be born into the Kingdom!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Freezing In Illinois
Yesterday I flew back to my home state of Illinois to preach revival for my good friend Darrell Garrett. I am from the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Darrell pastors the Harvest Church of God in Galesburg, about 3 hours from my home. When I left Tampa it was in the mid 80's climbing toward the 90's at a rapid pace, when I arrived in Moline it was 64, declining at a rapid pace. We went out to eat last night and it was 64, in the hour it took for dinner the temperature dropped six degrees to 58...I went immediately to Walmart and purchased a light coat...I'm freezing to death! Here we are in Mid-September and they turned the heat on...I love my friends and really enjoy this little city, but have to admit...There's no place like home....Florida!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Growing Up Is Hard To Do!
When I was growing up there was a Toys R Us commercial with a little jingle that said, "I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys R Us Kid..." I don't remember much more, but the concept sticks in my mind today as I press closer to 50 than I am 20, am the parent of a 8 year old and a 15 year old, and am now teaching young adults ages 18-30. The goal that I have chosen to accept is to assist these people, my children by birth and my children in ministry, in becoming adults with a purpose, to help them discover who they are, what their purpose is, and how to become what they are destined to be. The amazing thing to me is the examples many youth have to follow, adults that are outwardly mature but inwardly stagnant, stuck in yesterday, kicking and screaming about others that aren't growing while they themselves remain immature. Jealous, worried about someone getting into their space, pastors and ministers that fret that someone may take their sheep, all the while insecure themselves. Perhaps it's the place I find myself at in life presently, I have nothing left to prove, know who I am and have decided that if they leave me I never had them or only had them for a certain season...but I refuse to let others dictate my maturity level...I need to grow and I don't want to grow out I want to grow up! I don't want to get fat on stuff that isn't healthy, I want to mature in the things that have the ability to make lasting and healthy changes in my life. I'm rambling again, but I really do want to grow up!

Friday, September 07, 2007

British Haircut
I had a seven hour layover in London's Heathrow Airport and was absolutely bored to death. While sitting there I noticed this photo booth thing sitting to the side and a smiling man getting his hair cut. It's the latest thing in London, so on my return trip I ventured into the Hair Pod and my newest friend Dasso cut my hair. The cost was 11 pounds, about 22.00 US, the guy did a good job, I almost feel British!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mixing It Up
On our recent trip to Africa we encountered a demon possessed woman, during the worship time she would worship God, speak in tongues and screech like a cat. We heard her toward the end of the service and simply prayed that God would cause anything that was not of Him to cease, and it did. I spoke with the pastor about it the next day and he told me that this woman was mixing Christianity with witchcraft, a fairly common practice throughout Africa. As I thought on this it seemed to me that we as believers are equally guilty at times of mixing our relationship with the Lord with other things, perhaps not as extreme as witchcraft, but is it possible that our priorities are compromised as we try to make Christianity fit our mold? The constant theme of scripture is God desiring our whole heart, to be put and sought first, promising that everything we need will follow if we love Him first and more than everything...but we...or should I say I, sometimes say He's first, but in reality put Him somewhere in the mix...down the line somewhere. God wants to be first,He deserves to be, but only I can make Him first...I can't afford to mix!