Thursday, November 30, 2006

time to decorate

I can't believe it is that time already to put up the Christmas tree again. This year my two boys were at the ages to really enjoy it. They were bouncing off the walls excited. It was as if they had just consumed a 10ft Pixi Stick and washed it down with a triple shot latte. It was a true family fun festivity. It is great to be able to enjoy what God has blessed us with. But many times it is hard to take the time to really relax and just soak it in. I don't ever want to take for granted what I have. It's the everyday things, the time in between the big events that really matters. This is where the majority of our lives are lived and where the rubber meets the road. I am truly a blessed man.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

complacently pleased

Reading this morning in Luke 18:9 about where Jesus told a parable to some who were "complacently pleased" (Message translation). That phrase just caught me. How easy is it to get complacent and then be pleased with ourselves as we compare ourselves to others. I think there is a difference between being "complacently pleased" and "pleased but not complacent". It is one thing to be pleased about what God has done or is doing in or through us, and thinking we have "arrived". I enjoy celebrating and enjoying a victory or win, but when the moment is over, I must move on. I am still pleased but not complacent. It's like the a team that wins the championship hardly ever repeats becuase of this "complacently pleased" mentality. It is so easy to settle, as if we have arrived. But we must realize this life is a journey, not a destination.
Are you compalcently pleased? Am I?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

light sabers

My boys love stories! They may only be almost 3 and almost 6, but they can still appreciate a good story line. So i recently rented the Star Wars trilogy. These movies were truly out before their time. My boys watched in amazement as Luke and Vader battled with their light sabers. I had some great discussion on how Darth Vader went to the darkside by allowing his heart to turn bad through the decisions he made and the thoughts that he would think about. I actually think my oldest Kaden actually got it. I really enjoy passing on things I enjoyed as a kid on to my children. Really, I think that it is my priveledge and responsibility. I want to be intentional about what I pass on. Have you ever thought about what qualities you want your children to develop? Perhaps even writing them down and thinking through how to influence them in that direction or perhaps away "from the dark side" ........ Wow...I can almost hear Darth Vader breathing!

For Christmas, you had better believe that they are getting a couple of light sabers! Let the battles begin!!!!

Friday, November 24, 2006

The latest craze

Thanksgiving, what a wonderful day where we consume so much food we can barely walk. I started my day off with a 5 mile road race in which I placed in the top 50 out of over 3,000. That part was OK, but there was one she-woman that beat me (ouch). Anyway, knowing that I had burned a thousand calories that morning, eliminated any guilt that could of come from the consumption. We also took our little family to join the bigger family where some bluegrass music, alot of food, some laughs and "corn-hole" ensued. That's right.....corn-hole, the craze that is sweeping the nation. Someone said it originated out of Cincinatti and now is all over college campuses and taligate parties. (And since Ohio is Buckeye country, we know how to tailgate...and riot)) Anyway this game is like horseshoes but you are throwing a bean bag (filled with corn) through a slanted board with a hole in it. Simple, yet profound and definetely addictive. My brother Josh and I finished 2nd in the Stephens family corn-hole tourny.....and yes I was once again beat by those of the female persuasion. The lesson I learned......had I been corn the cousins who beat us....we may have walked away champions. But still I am thankful, don't get me wrong!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Last night my Keri I loaded the minivan and headed to the Columbus Zoo to see the "Christmas lights". It was the day before it was opened to the public and was "member appreciation night". Free cookies and hot chocolate were on the flier as a way to say thanks for being a member.
What should have been a 30-35 minute drive turned into an 1 1/2 hours in a van with 3 frustrated kids wanting to get there. The traffic leading up to the entrance was moving not much better than a snail in 3 feet of snow, pulling a trailer with one wheel gone. A car had broken down in the middle of the road, which made it feel even more like a congested artery. We get there, walk 3 miles to get the door and find the whole park is so packed we could barely manuever our 13 kid Jeep stroller without injuring some small furry woodland creature. Then after the cold had set in, we found the "what used to be the free hot chocolate and not even a crumb of a cookie" stand. There were soooo many distractions, that it became hard to keep our focus on the kids and their fun. Am I complaining.....yes, a little, but it's for a purpose. We left there saying....."I will never do that again".
How many times have guests come into our church and felt like that? Whether we were totally unprepared for them, or something out of our control left a bad taste in their mouth. It is our responsibility to remove as many distractions as possible so we can to present Jesus in a relevant way. We want them thinking less about "Where will I sit?", and "Will my child be safe?", and more about "What is God trying to speak to me!".

PS - We made it a great zoo night for our kids that we soon won't forget.

Monday, November 20, 2006


My wife and I along with our teammates are 3 weeks into having just launched a church that God's favor is truly upon. But through all the hustle and bustle (wow, my first Christmas season jargon!) it is sometimes crazy to keep balance. Once I asked a mentor of mine, "I struggle sometimes with balance, how do you keep balanced in life?" He busted out a "Yoda-like" phrase....."The balance is found in the struggle". We discussed that since I was wrestling with this, it was actually a good sign. That balance with God/family/rest/church/friends/personally/etc, is never completely attained, but rather it is a constant struggle that must be readdressed continually. Since that converstation I have been able to put some guages in my life to keep me from red-lining (my wife being the biggest one). I also, have a growth plan where I put on paper what my ideal life would look like, as it pertains to where I spend my time. It is something to think about. Bob Biehl once spoke of a friend who was pondering on the question, "What is important?". He finally grasped the answer......."Less and less." Think about that today as Thanksgiving approaches. What is really important and are you focused on those things? So remember young padowon..."The balance is found in the struggle"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Seeing the best in people

I am a big Ohio State Buckeyes fan and this year has been a great ride especially with only a few days to the Biggest showdown in College football history with #1 & #2 (The state up north) meeting to decide who wins the conference and goes to the National title game. One thing that truly seperates the Buckeyes is their coach Jim Tressel. He is a class act that trickles down into the players lives. He is not only interested in winning football games, but in making his players better people. Case and point, Troy Smith. When Troy arrived from Cleveland he was a little rough (maybe a lot rough) around the edges. He made a couple of unwise decisions that put him on the sidelines for a while. But coach Tressel could see greatness inside of Troy and has helped him achieve it. Now after several years with Tressel, when you hear Troy Smith talk you hear a mature, unselfish team player who is better off in life as a person because someone took the time and risk to believe and work with him.

What about you? Who is in your realm of influence that is a diamond in the rough? Perhaps the decision you make whether or not to get involved in their lives could change their history and those they have influence over.

Just some thoughts to ponder. Go Buckeyes stomp the team up north!