Monday, December 31, 2007

best question ever


Yesterday, I spoke on the "best question ever". I got some great material from Andy Stanley's book of the same title. The question is, "What is the wise thing for me to do? Since we are all unique, the answer changes with each individual. We looked at 3 different angles to the question.
1. In light of my past experiences, what is the wise thing for me to do?
- Things you have struggled with in the past, may make something unwise for you....and not for someone else.
2. In light of my current circumstances, what is the wise thing for me to do?
- Don't make decisions or react when your emotions are running high.
3. In light of my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?
- Be aware to make decisions on how they will affect you and your future dreams.

This question is gold. I know I use it on a regular basis. It even goes beyond right or wrong. Just because something is not wrong, doesn't make it wise for me to do. Ex. Eating a candy bar is not wrong, but eating 50 of them right before bedtime is not wise. This question is a great filter for life.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

wedding day


In a few minutes I am doing a wedding for a young couple that attend C3. They have no clue of what lies ahead, but only have their promise and commitment to each. This commitment will be tested their entire lives and must be decided on a daily basis. When people get married they each bring their own baggage and their families baggage into the relationship. This is what makes it interesting. My marraige has and always will be my biggest adventure. I love it!

Friday, December 28, 2007

pick something up


Yesterday, my son Kaden (6yrs) tripped and hurt himself. When I asked if he was alright, he said "I meant to do that." I had a good laugh and began to think about how we are the same way. As soon as we fall down, we try to get back up as fast as we can before anyone sees us. Maxwell says "when you're down there, you might as well pick something up." I try my best now, when I make a mistake, to learn something from the mistake so as not to repeat it. If I try and fail, I don't look at it as failure as much as, I learned something that didn't work....at least at that time and in that way. Also, when you are laying on your face flat on the ground, you tend to see details and angles you don't get to see all the time. So when you fall, (key word WHEN), pick something up.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

leaders are readers


I had a mentor say to me once,"If you don't read, I'm not sure that you have anything to tell me from the pulpit." That has stuck with me over the years. Currently, I read 2 books a month and several podcasts as well. This helps me to continually have a constant stream of ideas and new thoughts. This helps keeps me fresh. Another quote, I heard from a guy named Tim Sanders rocked me when he said, "I read because I love." The point being that the more I read, the more valuable I make myself to invest in others. You may not be able to be "well traveled," but you have no excuse not to be "well read." ---Just that fact that you are reading this, means you're on the right track.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

family

There is nothing like family! It is funny how we have such a great time around each other, telling stories, jokes or reliving the past. I may be alone here, but have you ever felt that your family is like the family on "Everybody loves Raymond?" Maybe I'm alone here, but I've even actually brought it up at a family gathering and pointed out who was acting like who. I'm just glad that we could laugh about it. But really, that is what makes a family, a family. We won't always see eye to eye or agree on everything, but there is a common thread of love and acceptance that runs through us all. I love my family!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

crazyness

Funny, how C3 is moving forward, but for the 2nd Christmas in a row, we have had our least attended Sunday service. I guess the majority of our people are younger and seeing that Picktown was a cornfield 10 years ago, no one is from here. So, they all head back to their parents houses and places that they grew up. But, we decided to do a Christmas eve service as an experiment. It was crazy! We had so many people show up, it was standing room only, and over half of them were first time guests. We were operating on a skeleton crew of leaders, but we pulled it off. I'm anxious to see what kind of momentum this brings to C3. To God be the Glory......yo!

Friday, December 21, 2007

tyranny of the urgent

Gary Fowler (C3's Exec Dir.) and I were talking yesterday about where we are as a church. We are currently a church of 220 -250 and from the small fires of staffing kids rooms to all the petty time stealers, we have found ourselves spinning our wheels a bit. We have a big front door and big back door. So we are taking this next season to focus on process and strategy to move to the next level of growth. Mine and Gary's conversation was about how easy it is for a church to stay at this level and "feel busy." Then before you know it, 5 years have gone by. So, we are making adjustments to delegate, staff and train leaders to move to the next level. Our discipleship process of Connect - Grow - Serve, is one of the main processes to take us to the next level. Also, I think the key is freeing up our top leaders to do what only they can do, while training and releasing other leaders at C3 to fulfill their purpose in serving God. We are loving the challenge!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The odds

Reading the Case for Christ for some sermon helps this week and came across a staggering statistic on the odds of Christ fulfilling just 8 of the several dozen prophesies in the Old Testament. These prophesies were written hundreds of years before Christ was born about the coming Messiah. The odds of It would be 1 in a hundred million billion. It would be like covering every piece of dry land on the planet with little white tiles that are 1 and a half inch squares, one of which has a gold star on the back. You get to walk the planet as long as you like and then get one chance of turning over the right one. It would be the same odds with Christ only fulfilling 8 of them. Food for thought during the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

preschool Christmas play

Last night, we went to see our 3 1/2 year old Kross, sing in his preschool Christmas play. There were at least a 100 kids on stage singing, wiggling, starring into space and yes.....even picking their noses. My Kross didn't sing a word, but rather kept looking at something on the bottom of his shoe. It was if he was temporarily paralyzed and was trying to get away from the hundreds of eyes that were on him.
Have you ever been there, where you are paralyzed from acting? Maybe it's fear or just not knowing what to do next. I know I have been there. When I have been there, my reply is "just do something". Sometimes we look at the "elephant" we have to eat and are overwhelmed by the sheer size of the problem. But we must realize that we eat an elephant, one bite at a time. Currently at C3, we are pounding out this "Simple Church" discipleship process. Which is very difficult and complex to get it to simple. But we are making progress and slowly it is becoming more clear and focused. We have chosen a direction and are chipping away at the mountain in front of us in order to get there.
Wow...I wonder if any of this even makes sense to anyone else...if not, please forgive the rambling.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

wonder

I try to make a big deal out of the little things in life with my kids. But really, I am just adding to the great imagination and awe, that is already there. We took our kids to a neighborhood right next to ours where the whole street has lights hooked up to each other and to the music on their own radio station. Griswald on steroids.....no doubt. I loved hearing the oooh's, aaaahhh's and the "look daddy". It's amazing how the little things can bring wonder to the heart of a child. Why do we have to lose that? It's amazing how much joy we rob ourselves from because we fail to appreciate the little things. I'm trying to hit the brakes this Christmas season and join my kids in the "wonder".

Monday, December 17, 2007

pirates 3

Wow! I just learned of Krogers $1 DVD rentals on new releases. It came just in time, seeing Keri and I have watched all the good ones there on our "in house" date nights. It is amazing how God speaks to me through movies. When I walk away, I want to go and get on my face to pray. Keri and I watched Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and there was a great line in there. "When you lose your purpose, you lose your life." That is sooo true. I'm truly enjoying living out my God given purpose on this earth. There is some amazing drive and satisfaction that comes along with living your purpose. I have met a lot of people who are just taking up space on this planet by living aimlessly, and they are miserable. There is so much more. God has so much more. Are you living your purpose?

Friday, December 14, 2007

home


Home....where's yours? I used to say, "home is where your mom is." Or when I go back to southeast Ohio where Keri and I were Youth Pastor for a few years, kind of feels like home. Perhaps Canton Ohio, where I spent most of my High School and some college years could be my home. Having lived in 20 something homes, it makes it kind of rough to claim one of them as "my home." But really I think home is the place where you feel you are truly alive. The place where you feel that safety and "where everybody knows your name" kind of feeling. Home is where you are excepted for who you are, and can just be yourself. I'm really starting to feel at home at C3 and in Pickerington Ohio. No doubt God has here, now, for this cause. I feel like my family and I are "home."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

frosty the snowman


Last week, we had some snow that was soon going to be melting. So I took my kids outside after dark in our front yard to make a "Frosty" the snowman. The snow was perfect packing, and our Frosty was almost 6ft tall. Then we had a snowball fight to top off the evening. (I can still dominate the 1st grade and under level...ha) Soon though, came warmer temps and even some rain, and Frosty began to shrink. He began to lean forward and we even moved his head back on his body to prolong his life, but it was inevitable. Kind of like our lives. The Bible says we are "but a vapor." It's sad that we many times spend so much of our lives on things that are temporary (myself included), while passing daily the only things that are eternal.......and that is SOULS. If people are the only thing we can bring with us from this life to the next, why do we invest so much of ourselves in stuff that will soon be gone?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

remove hurry


Talking this morning with the wise Gary Fowler and he said something that stuck. If we truly want change in our lives, we must "ruthlessly remove hurry from our lives." WOW! Even when I was a kid, my mom said when they would say it's time for me to go to bed, I would respond "I can't, me busy." To this day, I still find myself always doing something and many times, I'm in a hurry. But when I live life totally wide open all the time, it's easy to miss the beauty of life that can only be seen when we stop and take in the details. I have to constantly remember to slow down and smell the roses and to REMOVE HURRY.

Ok, that's all the time I've got, because I have to run.....oh wait...uhhhh....yeah...bye

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

love


Love. We all want it, need it and many times will do crazy things in order to get someone to love us. I think it's crazy that the more you love someone, the greater capacity you have to hate them. The more you love someone, the greater their ability to hurt you. Have you ever noticed that the one who cares the least about the relationship, is the one who controls it. Some, even withhold their love to manipulate others to get what they want. It's a crazy thing this love. I'm so glad that Christ modeled perfectly what love is and should be. From the crib to the cross and everything in between.

Monday, December 10, 2007

life is messy

Today, I spent the day at home for my day off. Interacting with my kids really got me thinking how life is not "nice and neat." In other words, we can't control others emotions, problems and some of the crazy situations we find ourselves in. This afternoon, while in this process of raising my kids, I had to deal with a "fit throwing" issue. I can remember as a teenager saying "my kid will never act like that." Keri and I have blessed with great kids ....hyper yes, but rebellious, usually no. We do on other hand find ourselves on a daily basis disciplining our kids, and still we have had a few occasions where our kid, was "that kid." In the moment it didn't matter how many spankings, threats, bribes with candy......at that time, it just wasn't going to happen. Life can just plain be messy. But really, that's what makes life....LIFE! As I talked about this week at C3, this journey of life is all about the process. I have begun to look at all the crazy, messy situations I find my self in, as challenges.

Friday, December 7, 2007

outside eyes

Yesterday, Gary and I had lunch with the Boss man, Doug Clay. He is an incredible leader and idea man. We were asking him a ton of questions and he gave us some great solutions, many of which were right under our noses. I think it's funny how when you are in the middle of something, it's very hard to see some things that may be obvious to an outside pair of eyes. One of the questions we try to ask ourselves is, "What advice would we give ourselves in this situation?" Personally, I feel I need to take some outside speaking engagements where I travel out of Pickerington. It helps me step back from our situation and see it with a different set of eyes, as well as get to rub shoulders with some sharp people outside my normal circles. It also gives me a chance to dream and pray for clear vision and direction and I always come back recharged. Do you need a fresh set of eyes to look at your current situation, or perhaps you need to step away for a few days to recharge and think about direction?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

mercy not sacrifice

I was listening to "the Bible Experience" this morning while working out and Jesus (once again) said something in Mt 12:7 that really got my wheels turning. (I was on the stationary bike..ha) He said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."
Wow, do I show enough mercy? Have I, while in the mindset of sacrificing, perhaps with salary, fasting, ministerial duties, etc, missed opportunities to show mercy? I can see how sometimes sacrifice could turn selfish. We can tend to then get judgemental of others who are not doing as much as we are. Or we say, "if they only knew how much I have sacrificed." This is a wrong paradigm and an abuse of true sacrifice. It turns the focus from God to ME.
I received a phone call from someone asking if C3 confronts sin in our church. (I knew he had a story to tell and I let him tell it after I answered his question) I told him that it depends. (dramatic pause for effect) If someone new comes into our church...NO....it's the Holy Spirit's job is to convict them. In other words, mercy and love are shown to them as they begin seeking God. How can we expect to hold them to a standard that they don't even know exists? On the other hand, if someone claims to be a believer and are a part of this body (church), then yes, absolutely. It will be done with love and mercy, but it is the responsibility of the leadership to do so, for their sake and the sake of the church. I want to have both mercy and sacrifice.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I still date my wife

Last night Keri and I went on a date. I wish I could say this was a weekly occurrence that we get to go out for a night alone, but that is not quite the case. With the price of baby sitting and just finding a free night being somewhat difficult, we have to get creative. So weekly, we put the 3 kids to bed and watch a movie (free from library) and have "popcorn and Pepsi night". It is our in-house date night. I realize that having a young family can take it's toll on a marriage relationship, so we are doing our best to not only guard ours, but grow it. We must be intentional to do what is important, but sometimes overlooked.

Last nights date of PF Changs, $30 game card for GameWorks and 2 coffees, cost us $3.80. Thanks to gift cards, and a buy one/get one free coupon. THE LORD IS GOOD!
(I'm doing my "the Lord is Good" dance right now)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

pet peaves

We all have them! I think it is kind of funny some of the things that bother us. For me, I can't stand to see a door open when it is cold outside. I guess in my head I'm asking the guilty party if they are "trying to heat the neighborhood?" Another one I just found out I had, is when someone refers me to a book that they read that is no good, but they claim that it is. Here is where my issue comes in. If they read quite a bit and it really spoke to them, then great, no problem. The problem is, when they are not well read and try to jump in a conversation with the only book they have read in the last 3 years, and then I go buy it and waste some time reading it. Wow, I think that was the most negative blog I have ever written (as I move my bracelet). Ok, I'm back to being my old positive self. Make it a great day!

Friday, November 30, 2007

TGIF

Fridays are either the day where I say "YES" the weekend is almost here, or "OH NO", I still have so much to do. For those of you still brave enough to stick with this "complaint-free" life, you have almost made it a full week. I have talked to several who are taking the challenge and they admit they had no clue how much they complain. I think we are all past the point of admitting we have a problem and now are doing something about it. Today, why not take some time and TGFYB or (Thank God for your blessings). It is amazing when you begin to not only remove the negative talk but replace it with positive, it changes your whole day and outlook on the world around you. So, what are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stephens don't quit


We got this saying within our family that was passed down from my dad to me, and now to my kids. My little 3 year old boy Kross modeled it perfect the other day when asked about his last name. He said "Stephens and Stephens don't quit!" There are times when they want to quit and I'll say "What is your last name boy?"
I think with this whole complaint free challenge, many of us are now at the point where the "shine has worn off." It is now moving from funny to...this is tough. But this is where the old habits are being broken and new one's are being formed. In this season of change, many people bail out....but not you. So, in the words of the great Winston Churchill in his real life 5 word graduation speech, "Never, never, never, give up!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

give up to go up

I have learned in life and in leadership that you have to many times give up, to go up. I experienced this in HS when I had to sometimes sacrifice hanging out with friends to make time to do a running workout. Later though, I reaped some school records. Another, was having to give up Softball in the evenings to take the State Youth Director role. I had to do a lot more traveling, but in turn grew in my leadership to another level. We have to give up, to go up. The same is true in life and with this complaint-free challenge. We may sometimes even enjoy bringing the stinging words or cut down on someone, but that doesn't justify it. So here we find ourselves giving up the complaining, in order to walk more closely with Christ. Give up, to go up.

Keep trying, don't give up............unless it's the complaining!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

slowing the complaints

Hopefully by now, those of you participating in the 21 day challenge to be "complaint free", are beginning to recognize your thoughts BEFORE they leave your mouth. Remember, this is a PROCESS not an event, so don't give up. We didn't get this way overnight and it is going to take some time to break our negative habits. It is true that "you form your habits and your habits form you." What are you becoming? Let's be intentional about it.

Today, I took a day off and spent it with a buddy from my childhood who was in from out of town. It's amazing how reminiscing about old times can turn into "negative" laughter at the expense of others. Ouch! I laughed and then realized what I was doing, but I love the challenge. Day one.......again! Ha.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Complaint Free Challenge

For all those C3'ers out there, I hope your complaining is now starting to wain a little bit. Don't give up, it will most likely take you a couple days to begin to get yourself refocused. Remember, this is a process and not just an event.

So far this morning, I have done pretty well being complaint free. I have caught myself a couple times thinking some not so positive thoughts about this "wonderful" rainy weather. Once again, if you change your words, you can change your thoughts and if you change your thoughts, you can change your life. I would love to hear how you are doing. Good luck!

Also, the "complaint free message" is on the website www.myC3church.com under podcast, if you need to hear it again.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving


The past 3 years I have started out my Thanksgiving day with a road race and today was no exception. We were up in Canton staying the night with my parents so I jumped in a 5k. Wow! There were several college teams as well as several high school cross country teams present.....1300 signed up. It was chilly, but I did manage a 2nd place age group finish (36th overall). The only bummer was, I was beaten by one of my old rivals from my High School days. Of course, he is now a HS CxC coach....but it still hurts. Ha! The reason for this blog is to say that I can't wait to make a Turkey trot run an annual family tradition. I'm now thinking on what other family traditions that I can be intentional on making a part of our lives.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

stress and holidays


I was talking to a couple the other day and they mentioned how stressful the holidays were. All the food that has to be bought and prepared, family relational issues, gifts, money and on and on. I think it's amazing how we let our fast paced stressful culture work it's way into the times that we are supposed to be taking a break from it. FIGHT THE POWER! This year I'm choosing to relax and try to truly enjoy my family, friends, and most of all my amazing Creator and His blessings on my life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Grateful


Some day when I stand before God, I'm sure I won't be on the top of the list for those who were the best preachers, prays the most (although I do daily), the most talented, the greatest leader, but I do want to be one of His most grateful kids. It is one of my life goals to be grateful for everything He has given me. I deserve NOTHING and anything I am blessed with.....God gets the glory. I give Him praise in the little things and the big and when I do, He keeps dishing it out. So I not only want to give thanks on Thanksgiving where we are supposed to take time to give thanks, but everyday of the year. I know when my kids are grateful for the tootsie roll I had to split 3 ways, it makes me as a dad want to give them more. This is not my motivation with God, but I have found that the byproduct of being grateful to God is His FAVOR! So, what are you grateful for? How about thanking Him a little more often.

Monday, November 19, 2007

complaint free

Wow, I thought I was a very positive person, until I started wearing my "Complaint Free" bracelet. The goal is to go 21 days without being negative. If you are negative through complaining, gossip or otherwise negative words, you have to move the bracelet to the other wrist and start again. It sounds easy, but's it not. I caught myself already saying something negative about the Cincinnati Bengals. I'm excited about doing a message on this for this weekend on being complaint free. For Thanksgiving we always talk being grateful, but we are going to mix it up and make a commitment not to speak any negative words. If we change our words, we can change our world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rivalry


Today is the day.....Ohio State vs michigan football game! The biggest rivalry in all of college sports (according to ESPN). It's amazing how I get pumped up for a game I'm not even playing in. It is one of my joys that makes life more fun......as long as the Buckeyes win...ha! I'm holding my breath.
I have personal rivalries with certain runners around Columbus who I know when we are in the same race, that it is going to be a battle. Those kind of rivalries can help take us to another level, the problem comes when we look at other churches or ministers as rivalries rather than as teammates that play different positions on the same team.

Go Bucks! Pound the team from up north.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Celebrate

Today, as a staff we are heading to a coffee shop to hammer out processes and strategy for 4 hours. Sounds like fun huh? Then we will pick up our ladies and head to GameWorks where we will meet our Advisory Board Members and spouses along with our worship leader and youth director. This will be a time to show appreciation for what God has done and for their hard work and investment in C3. There will also be some vision casting about the future of our church. After we have eaten, we will all go play some games together in the giant game room and then grab some coffee together. I think many times as a team we move so fast and fail to take time to celebrate and truly enjoy the journey together.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The state of C3 Church


Coming back from my prayer and planning retreat (thanks Christy for reminding me to blog about it) I felt God confirming the direction I feel in my heart. God has incredibly blessed our church and we have grown fairly rapidly to the place that internally we are usually behind on many things and doing a lot of scrambling. Much of this is because we continue to move forward, which almost always means adding something new. With the newest addition of our (Sun Eve 7pm) 3rd service, we now have bought ourselves time to work on the internal processes and procedures of C3. To make simple steps to move people from Connecting to Growing to Serving. We will take the next year and focus on the internals of C3 to get us running as if we are a much larger church, so we can handle the growth as God continues to give it. Currently, we are an engine that is running and making ground, but losing gas and dripping oil. I feel the vision for "now" is to get us running effective and efficient.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Buckeyes


Here is my take on the 2007 Ohio State Buckeyes:
Tressel does an amazing job every year getting his team ready to play even when it is supposed to be a "reloading" year. The fact is: LOSING TO ILLINOIS WAS THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO US. Here is why:
1. We are not the best team in the nation (this year) and if we get blown out in ANOTHER championship game, next year the BCS voters are not going to want to give us the votes so easily when we are the #1 team in the land.
2. If we did play for the national title this year and get beat by LSU, we will never hear the end of the SEC fans on how the Big Ten is so weak.

This year is no doubt a rebuilding year. At the beginning of the year we were picked to be 3rd in the Big Ten, but Tressel and the crew will have exceeded even our highest expectations of this year if (and when) they beat michigan (Big Ten Champions) and win the Rose Bowl.

That's it...Thanks my conclusion after some good discussion with my good friend Greg Ford.

Go Bucks!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Personal prayer retreat

I'm leaving in a couple of minutes to go to an old farm house out in Marrow County to spend some time with God. While there I will map out some personal vision for this next year as well as the future direction of C3. It's so amazing when you block out time for nothing but to spend time with God.....He has the tendency to show up BIG! I look forward to this time every year. Also, this weekend is our Leadership teams yearly retreat, of which GameWorks, and the OSU vs Team Up North with all be worked in.

PS - The Buckeyes recent loss has been devastating.....but Jesus is still on the throne!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

C3 night

We just had our first night service, which is our new 3rd service. It was a totally different feel that we think went over pretty well. There were quite a guests who decided to give us a try and I believe they will be back. We had a total of 50 show up and 37 who did not attend a morning service that day.
I love new things, especially when we are creating something from the ground up. We have a great team that jumps in and fills the holes until we can replace ourselves. With this new service, we now have some room to grow and we can turn our focus on getting all of our processes and procedures where they need to be. I feel like C3 is a engine that is running and moving, but we are leaking fuel and dripping oil. My heart is to see that we are both effective AND efficient. We are up for the challenge!

Friday, November 9, 2007

C3 Art show

Tomorrow, we are doing an art show at a local golf course. One of the guys on our advisory board had a contact with an art company that donated (that's the key word) 3 (count em 3) U hauls worth of art. We did a presale last night for just our people and pulled in around $1,500. We sell the art for $10 - $30 and it seems to go fast. We are giving a kick back to the local High School art departments as well as a platform to sell their stuff. Excited to see how it all rolls out. Also, Sunday night at 7pm will be the launching of our 3rd service. It will be the same message but with different set up of chairs a big area rug and I will speak from the floor. Also, an acoustic worship set and a prayer station. This will be our experimental service. Time will tell.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Kaden


I got to Kadens school for a "loved one's lunch" a couple days ago. He showed me his school, lunchroom and playground. He told me at lunch that next year he would have to bring mommy, because it is only fair. After some time on the playground the bell sounded and he said goodbye and ran to line up. As I walked away, I looked back to wave a few times and noticed he never took his eyes off of his dad. The power of the responsibility I have as his father, really began to sink in. How as a young boy, most of his self worth, confidence and values, will all come from me. I am his model for how a man treats a woman, loves his family, loves God and interacts with others. I am far from the perfect role model, but I am striving to be that with everything I have within me. It's scary to think, we all have little eyes and ears who are being shaped by the way we live.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

snow


Walking out of the gym this morning and seeing the snow/sleet falling, makes me realize that winter is almost here. I think it is amazing how the seasons change. This is one of the reasons that I love Ohio. Life and ministry are all about seasons as well. I have been through amazingly rich times in my walk with God and incredibly dry times. Also, every "season" of ministry has prepared me for the next one. My prayer is that I learn what God is trying to teach me the first time through. I hate to repeat (unless it has to do w/winning). It's like reheating leftovers....again...and....again! I talk to alot of people who try to prematurely jump out of a season because it get's a little uncomfortable. But it is in those "seasons" that we are truly shaped and tried as followers of Christ. What is God trying to say to me? What lessons can I learn? Is there anything I can do, to not get here again?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

preventative measures


This morning, this was my view. I do thank God for modern day medicine as I felt almost no pain, but that zzzzzz sound of the tooth grinder just gives me chills every time. Anyway, I had a filling replaced that I had gotten when I was a kid. The problem was, it was not totally airtight, which allowed some more decay to happen inside. But the kicker was, I wasn't having any pain. So, I took my dentists word and had some preventative work done.
- Life Application: I had to ask myself today: If I keep running this pace, or in the direction I am going, where will I be in a year, 3 yrs, 10yrs? What preventative changes can I make now, that will keep me not only on track but the right track for the long haul. So whether it's rest, growth, accountability, etc.......what preventative work do you need to do? Git R Done.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ed Young yo!

It's not who ya know....it's who knows you. Today, (Thanks to Joshua Fischer, Bible College Prez of World Harvest, who knew me from my Ohio Youth Dir. days) invited us in the green room to meet Ed Young and his wife. I was impressed to see that he was the same guy behind the door as he was on the stage. God is using him HUGE and myself & staff gleaned some good stuff from him over these couple of days of his speaking. World Harvest also has an incredibly sharp team and I pray they continue to blow it up for the Kingdom of God.

Side bar - I have talked with many ministers, usually younger, who bad mouth other ministries and pastors. I feel the root of this negativity is "jealousy" and perhaps some "pride". I personally just want to remain humble before God and celebrate other Christian leaders success. It's not about my "empire" but about HIS "KINGDOM". Can I get a witness?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happy B-Day C3


I can't believe it, but C3 Church is 1 yr old today. We had a party with balloons, streamers, giveaways, and the works. It is awesome to look back on what God has done in so short a time. We cast vision for the future and talked about how BIG God is. I can't wait to see how C3 shapes up in this next year. Next week, we add the 7pm Sunday service. I'm praying and anxious to see how it turns out. Also, to top this day off, our staff went to World Harvest (Wow) to hear Ed Young.
Side note: I know the president of W. Harvest Bible College and we were invited back to their chapel tomorrow morning to hear Ed Young speak again and maybe....perhaps.....get the chance to hang with him for a few minutes. HA! Time will tell.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Church Planters Review


Thursday and Friday were both spent at our annual Church Planters Review, where there is encouragement and accountability. It is always great to see friends, get away and think as well as grow. Mark Batterson (church planter from DC) came and poured into Ohio Church Planters and I was privileged to gain a few extra moments over coffee and driving him to and from the airport. I felt I walked away from these 2 days a little sharper than I came. It's like my friend Troy Jones says "we either grow daily, or die graduallly".

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

siezing an opportunity

Yesterday, I spoke again at Dayton CLC's youth ministry and was there for the passing of the mantle from one YP to another. It was cool to share that experience with my good friend Andy Warren. I also got to spend an hour with Stan Tharp which is always beneficial. He is a mentor of mine and I appreciate any time that I can get with him. One of my core values is to "chase mentors". Tomorrow I get to pick up Mark Batterson (incredible church planter from DC) from the airport and sit down over a cup of coffee with my team present as well. He is flying in to do our church planters review through our district office. You can best I will have a ton of questions and I won't be doing much talking. We never learn when we are the one's talking. Anyway, I look forward to hanging with him and downloading some of his experiences as a church planter.

you can tell

You can tell a lot about when someone when they begin to talk. The Bible talks about how we speak from our hearts. So whether it's poison or life giving words, they both reveal what is going on in someone's heart. It is also easy to see if someone is over or under something by the way they talk about it. What does our hearts reveal about us, when it comes to the words we speak?

Monday, October 29, 2007

advisory board

Last night, Gary Fowler and I went with 2 of our advisory board members to a "Leadership Tour" put on by our district office. I feel totally blessed to have a board that understands their role and carries it out. I have been in many churches where the board feels their role is to "represent" the church and to make happen what the people are desiring to see happen. Or there is a serious power struggle on direction and if it's something they don't completely agree with. In the end, the church always suffers and it's growth is stiffled.
I am incredibly blessed to have board who's role is to support me by being a sounding board, accountability, prayer support and friendship. Our model is - Staff Guided, Board Guarded and Congregation Gifted. I am loving this journey.

Friday, October 26, 2007

wrestling


In the 8th grade, I was the 95lb county champion wrestler. I know that is hard to believe, but it is true. That singlet looked like a poncho on me. Luck was on my side seeing that the guy seeded #1, suddenly came down with a hernia. I hope it was luck......because I was praying really hard. HA! Anyway, this week I felt like I was wrestling through this message I'm going to speak this Sunday on GREED. I never thought of myself as greedy....I mean c'mon I'm a church planter. According to American standards I'm sure I would be in the elite of givers to non-profits (God's Kingdom), but according to God's standards is another issue. God desires us to be generous, but many times we live financially and time wise, with NO MARGIN. Then when we see a need to give money or time to, we have nothing left. Or how about when we get some extra cash, we immediately think it is for us. When we are in need, we ask God "Where are you?". But when we have extra, we never ask "What am I to do with this?". I guess I'm just battling the whole American culture that keeps our focus on what we don't have. I've been wrestling with my greed in the little unnoticed areas of my life. I love when God's Word and His Spirit forces me to wrestle with my shortcomings so I can become a little more like HIM.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dutch Brothers


I almost forgot I had snapped this picture while in Oregon of a new coffee company that is quickly growing on the West Coast. Which usually means, it will hit Ohio in about 3-5 years...ha! I had a cup on the way to the airport and it was decent. We actually went out of our way driving so that I could try this "new" brand of coffee. Usually when I travel, I want to go to, or eat at places that are NEW or that I've never tried. I love to try new things and experience all that I can, any chance I get. I'm trying to teach this to my kids this, but they are not as eager. In fact there have been times (while laughing) I have almost forced something into their mouths only for them to smile and ask for more. Why is that? Is it fear of the unknown or leaving our comfort zone? I think many times when God is trying to get us out of our comfort zone to experience more of life or to accomplish His work, we run back to the familiar. What are you missing out on because you are afraid to try.....or be obedient?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

never taken for granted

Last night I spoke at Dayton CLC's Youth Ministry. We had a great time and saw God do some cool stuff in students lives. My good friends Andy & Beth Warren are about to step in as new YP"s and I am totally stoked for both them and the church.

A.D.D. side bar - My heart is to NEVER get to the place where I take for granted the anointing and/or the presence of God. I have seen where some ministers have gotten so accostomed to the anointing, that treat opportunities to preach the sacred Word of God, without the respect that is deserved. It's almost like we can become addicted to God's Anointing to the place where we get "used to it" and not realize what God has entrusted to us.....until it is gone. I mean look at Samson! God's anointing and power was on his life even when he began to stray and walk the fence......until God removed it from His life. My heart is to do my best to treat anything that God trusts me with, with utmost care, fear and respect.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Anger/Forgiveness

Today, we talked about anger and forgiveness. It was great to see some people in both services respond to God's Word as the Holy Spirit does the work that only HE can do. A couple key points were:
- Anger says, "You owe me"
- The root of anger is: I'm angry because I did not get my way.
- The fact is that something has been stolen from us, and we want someone to pay up.
* Most of the time, what had been taken, can never be repaid.
- How long will you allow someone you don't even like, continue to control your life?
- The remedy for anger is forgiveness.
- Quit playing the role of the victim.
* Victims are powerless and can only react.
- Mt 18:21-35
* Forgiveness = Canceling the debt



- Mad props to Andy Stanley -

Saturday, October 20, 2007

true church health

Tomorrow is the Columbus Half and Full Marathon. Of course as luck would have it, it always falls on a Sunday. We have preached personal health a few times and have several people at C3 who have truly bought in. In fact, tomorrow we will have 5% of our congregation actually running in the 2 races. What other church can say that? Ha! That is proof that we are striving to be a healthy church.....in more ways than one.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Day with my kids

My Keri has been at the Ministers Wives Retreat for the last couple days. Which means......I get to hang with my kids the whole time! It really has been fun. I get a little work done during their nap times and after their bed times. But when they are up, I want to be all there for them. God convicted me a few years ago of how I put some much time, energy, creativity and focus into my work and give my family the leftovers. Now when I'm home, I want to be ALL there. I want to give them my very best. There are times when I come home exhausted......but my kids are excited and ready to play. In those times, I must die, so they can live! Truly, their little lives are my greatest investment, legacy and proof of what kind of man that I really am.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

new series


Last Sunday we just jumped into a new series entitled "It Came From Within." It is taken from Andy Stanley's book of the same title. We are dealing with 4 "monsters" or diseases of the heart. It is a much more of a heavy series that really forces us all to take an honest look at what we struggle with. The 4 area's are guilt, anger, greed and jealousy. Dave Stewart designed our slide, It has that "old School" monster feel, just in time for halloween,

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

FunOween

This Saturday we will have another big Outreach event for the families of our Community. On the property we will have Free hayrides, pumpkin painting, games, bonfire/smores, inflatables, chili cook-off, box maze, music and more. It should be a lot of fun. We are praying for a great turn out. Time will tell. Usually after one of our events, we have have a huge number of guests show up. I feel good about that now that we have our community groups up and running and about to launch our 3rd service in a couple of weeks. I think many times the church (in general) will do something big to bring in people, but then not have plan for moving them toward Christ. This weekend is a "bridge" event where our people can "serve" and reach out to the community with "no strings attached." Praying for NO RAIN.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

#1 baby


It is a great time to be an Ohio State Buckeyes fan. It has been fun rooting for a team that no one considered to be a national championship contender. But time changes alot. The Buckeyes have played pretty consistent throughout the year. Coach Tressel is all about getting better and "peaking" at the right time. It reminds me of what Brother Crabtree told me "if you keep doing the right things long enough, it will eventually pay off." The same goes for us in life. As we continue to work hard and live with integrity, we will continue to move forward.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

serving opportunties

This past weekend while talking with some young leaders at the Oregon Convention, I was asked "How did you become a national speaker?" I started laughing. I told them I'm a church planting pastor that gets a few invitations now and then to travel and speak. I am always humbled by any invitation to come and minister. But I also shared how tonight I may be on stage in front of a big crowd, but when I go home, there are times I will be cleaning the toilets in our church. I shared that in God's eyes it's all about serving. How, it's more of a heart issue with God than anything else. In man's eyes (and sometimes pastors eyes) we see that the bigger the ministry, venue or paycheck, the bigger the success. But we have got it all wrong. "If you want to be great in God's Kingdom, learn to be the servant of all." Honestly, every time I hop on a plane or get in my car to go speak, I am totally humbled and honored that God would trust me. So no matter how, where or what it looks like, my allegiance is to Christ and I am compelled to serve in anyway HE sees fit.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

cool cats


At the Oregon Convention, I got to minister with the Tim Bach Band. Tim (dark headed guy) and Lonnie both have great hearts. Both these guys have been around. Lonnie has played with Petra and DC Talk and Tim travels to lead worship and speak. Amazing musicians that I have enjoying hanging with. It always amazes me how the chemistry comes together at an event like this. From the host team to the speaker, worship band, students and leaders. All working toward the same goal.....seeing students have an encounter of God. God is so faithful. I love to hear the testimonies of students and what God is doing in them. I am truly blessed to play a part..

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oregon Youth Convention

Tomorrow bright and early, I am flying out to "Duck Country", Oregon Ducks that is. It's always a privelege to be asked to come and minister. For me, I feel it keeps me fresh. To get out of my little world and rub shoulders with others who sharpen me. I always go with the intent to give and to serve, but I always come back full and blessed. This will be a crazy weekend speaking 3 main sessions and a breakout at the convention, flying in at 11:30pm on Saturday and then speaking 2 services here on Sunday. I feel like I'm the District Youth Director again. I'm praying for God to move huge.
Side note: I used to get real nervous before I spoke, but now I've come to the fact that I'm just the servant. I will pray, study and prepare, but the results are up to God. Once I grasped that, it really took the pressure of me and I enjoy life and ministry so much more.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

thefts


Last night, again one of the cars down the street got some stuff stolen from it. Usually CD's, sunglasses and some spare change have been all that has been stolen. I really doubt that the thieves are professionals, becuase they have never stolen any radio's or even cars. It's funny, they even got in my mom's car, but left her "Gaither" CD's sitting on the front seat. They are the one's missing out! Anyway the kicker is this, all the cars that have had things stolen, have been UNLOCKED.

Thinking this morning about how well locked my heart and mind are from the enemy of my soul who want to steal from me. Maybe the question is, "what am I doing to ensure that I don't fail or fall?" It's not that I plan to fail, but do I plan NOT TO? What measures have I taken to ensure it? Also, there are probably alot of people who haven't failed (morally, spiritually, with integrity) only because they haven't had the opportunity. My prayer is that God helps me to "guard my heart, for it is the wellspring of my life."

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A good day

Sunday was a good day! We had a good crowd, took an offering for some other church planters (Adam/Jenna Long), baptised 3 and pushed missions. I always get a big kick out of the fact of how God blesses our church financially every time we take an offering for someone else. In fact I once encouraged a Pastor who's church was struggling, to take take an offering and give it away! I remember when we started we did the same thing and God blessed us huge, just as He did today.
We also announced the 3rd service and our people were excited. This excitement builds momentum and we are going to do our best to keep this momentum going to continue C3's growth. We are all truly honored to be a part of what God is doing.

Keri and I watched Akeela and the Bee tonight for our "in house" date night......I never thought I would be crying while watching a movie about a spelling bee.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

We are launching a 3rd service

I am pumped! We just had our advisory board meeting and decided to go to a 3rd service on November 11th, following our 1 year birthday as a church on November 4th. It will be a Sunday night service that will be real close to the Sunday morning. We took a survey and close to 60% of our people said they would go to a Sunday evening service. So now we are quickly structuring the frame of it to hold the weight. In my gut I really feel this could be the "niche" in our area. Once again, everything is an experiment. Looking back at our last jump to another service, we gained 40 - 50 people that week. We are hoping this appeals to a whole new crowd. It will be the same message with a couple of tweeks in the service. Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sunday


I'm excited about this Sunday for several reasons. First, I am speaking on "missions". This will be C3's first real service, totally dedicated to missions. We will challenge our people to give (applied through a new church planter who we will take an offering for) and to go (applied through signing up for our missions trip to Nicaragua). Also, our church will get to hear about the 14 missionaries that we currently support. Secondly, we are having a baptism service this Sunday and have a couple people who are very excited to show their obedience to Christ. Thirdly, we are launching a new season of "Community Groups" through a Group Link, immediately following our service. This will be a lunch and sharing of all the new groups that are launching and give people an opportunity to meet leaders and get plugged in. I'm totally stoked about this Sunday, it should be good.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

the kid 2 blocks over

Yesterday on my day off, as I was playing in my backyard with my kids, when a neighborhood boy who is 9 years old stopped by. He was peering through the fence and asked id he could come in. I said yes, and he began to play with us, everything from soccer to baseball to basketball. There was only a couple of problems, one being he kept using the Lord's name in vain. So I had to pull him to the side and explain our "house" rules. That along with him trying to bully around my little guys who are 3 & 6. He then did well for a while as I would try to coach him and encourage him just like one of my boys. But then he would go back to the same old stuff. Eventually, after a couple of warnings, I told him he had to leave for the rest of the day. He looked at me with this stunned look and then left. I told him he could come back tomorrow if he would obey our rules. I realize first I have to protect my kids, but also this may be a chance God is giving me to invest in this kids life who seems to have no real male influence. I am excited to see how this plays out.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

splinter

Today, I was wrestling around with my 6 year old when he told me that I hurt a booboo on his hand. I took a look, and between his fingers was surprised to see an infected blister. I guess he had a splinter for quite a while but didn't want to tell us for fear that we would take it out. He feared the temporary pain of taking it out, and therefore just lived with the constant pain for probably a week. But of course, now that we had to take it out while infected, it was going to hurt it even worse. Many of us have things we are dealing with deep inside our lives. If we choose not to deal with them, they begin to fester as well. We dread the pain of dealing with our issues, but they only get worse. Just as my boys hand would not get better until the splinter was removed, so we must get our inward splinters out so that we can heal. So what's your splinter?

Friday, September 28, 2007

old stomping grounds

I'm feeling a little old as Gary and I both go back to our former church and perform the wedding of an amazing young lady who was in both of our Youth Ministries. I was her first YP and Gary Fowler was her last. We both look at it as a privilege. Another bonus is that I will get to spend early tomorrow morning in the woods......with my bow.....and hopefully a large furry woodland creature. Ha! Anyway, I'm excited to see some old friends. Side note: When you leave a church on good terms, it is always a great experience to go back. We will get to be with those who have watched Keri and I mature and grow and they continue to pray for us. We cherish those friendships. This is how it is supposed to be.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dreaming


Sitting in a Panera this morning with a good book and a ton of dreams. When God starts stirring my heart for the lost and all the possibilities of how we can make a "dent", I feel like I'm going to explode! I want to always do my best to be a dreamer of God sized dreams with a pure heart and motivation. I have to guard against only looking at the present and take some time to get out of my box and dream. I am very fired up right now as we are continually trying to stay ahead of the growth that God is bringing His church. I'm just honored to be a part of it. This is our time to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. I want to do everything within my power to bring people to Christ. My prayer is that as I dream, I begin to get a heavier burden for those who don't know Christ. If I ever lose that, stick the fork in me I'm done.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

We need each other


I love watching American Idol. Especially the auditions and fthe inal shows. That is when it gets good. In the auditions, I continually find myself asking "don't they know how bad they are?". Then some of them, after being ripped apart by Simon, say "My friends say that I am a great singer." I guess we have to ask, "Are they really your friends?" Woudn't a friend love you enough to tell you that you're bad? I look at my own life and hope that I have people who love me enough to shoot straight with me. I need others to help me not get too far out of balance, one way or another. We all need others whom we trust to give us wisdom, encouragement and honesty. It may hurt at the time, but we need it. Who do you need to shoot straight with? You probably can't see this one, but perhaps someone needs to be honest with you.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Endure


Sunday, I did a message called "endure". I used my Ironman race and the pain which I had to endure and parallelled it with life. If and how we endure, really comes down to our foundation and focus. You can check out the video that my Keri shot and my brother Josh did some studio shooting and editing. I used it Sunday for the message. http://myc3church.com/endure.aspx

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Favor

We had a great Sunday today! After the service, I took my 6 year old and teamed up with about 10 others from C3 to join in a citywide clean up day. I love how God just hooks things up. I just so happened to be in the group with the City Planner, a City Councilman and a lady running for Mayor. I had some great conversation about C3 Church and our community. They were very excited about our church and how involved we were in the community. I even talked some future plans on some land that if purchased would need to be rezoned. The City Planner (who makes those decisions) said, "that would be no problem to get that done for you guys". I am amazed at God's favor and am totally loving this journey. It always amazes me how God has me in the right places at the right time.........I may even make this weeks Newspaper with my picture picking up trash.

Friday, September 21, 2007

My b-day dinner

Last night, my Keri and I went out to a steak dinner (buy 1 get 1 coupon...yeah) and had a great time together. It was a man's restaurant......Texas Roadhouse! The floor was cluttered with peanut shells, very loud and had animal heads on every wall. Everything was going great until I decided to play the "hunting" video game. I love to hunt and have harvested one or more deer every year since I started hunting. That's why the gun had to be way off because I didn't hit one deer. (HA) That was embarrassing enough, but it suddenly got worse. Keri wanted a shot at it. I knew this was going in the wrong direction when she pulled up and waxed the first 5 or 6 deer. I mean c'mon.....it's MY day! She was smiling from ear to ear.
I think it is funny how God has a way of humbling me on regular occasions.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

far out


When it comes to vision, how far is too far out? Personally, I feel there is a happy medium somewhere. I have met leaders who can see their vision fully fulfilled. The problem is, they can't get started or don't know how to lead the change in order to get there. On the flip side of the coin, there are many leaders who can't get past the tyranny of the urgent. They are so bogged down in putting out current fires and managing where they are at, that any plan for the future gets lost.
I sat with my coach and he, (looking from a different angle) said, we probably needed to be looking at land for a future campus. It hit me pretty hard. I personally could see us doing 2 more services at our current location and either a multi-site or a church plant, but I wasn't thinking that far out. Perhaps my coach was judging the speed at which we (C3 Church) are growing. Whatever the case, it challenged me to get the vision for the next 2-3 years, while at the same time keeping in mind the next 10 - 20 years. My prayer is for balance and to hear the heart of God on the matter. So I will continue to seek God and wise counsel as we navigate this amazing journey.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

physical

Today, my insurance company is sending out a nurse to the church to draw blood, check blood pressure, etc. They want to see if I'm in good enough shape to insure me and give me an life insurance policy. The funny thing is that according to their computer numbers, I am not in the highest category for health. 6ft 3inches, 160lbs is considered not healthy. I tried to tell them that I was training for an Ironman triathlon and that I am in great shape, but they wouldn't budge. I have to pay $6 more every couple months because of it. I finally just had to laugh about it. My Keri gives me a hard time because she is in a higher health bracket than me. Anyway, perhaps today I can change their minds. --- In the middle of this blog the nurse came in. She was an incredible lady and everything went well. I got to hear a little of her story and she said that her and her husband may show up this Sunday. It is amazing to see how God sets different divine appointments.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kaden

Yesterday, Keri and I opened Kadens notebook from school (1st grade) and looked at a picture he drew about a rule in class. I was glad to see that he tried to write "be quiet", which is the one he struggles with the most. The picture he drew was quite the opposite. To the teacher it looked like a couple of stick men and a fat distorted guy with a tail. I, realizing that since my boys and I have been shooting my bow and arrows in the backyard at a deer like target, saw something else. That fat distorted guy with a tail was actually a deer with an arrow sticking out of it. The two other stick guys are my Kaden and Daddy with a bald head. Keri and I laughed out loud and was just thankful he couldn't find a RED crayon......Don't worry, I will talk to him.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I did it


Saturday, was the most physically and mentally punishing day of my entire life. I now see why they call it the "Ironman". The race started at the beach for a 2.4 mile swim on a lake, with a temperature of 38 degrees. It took me just under 1 1/2 hours. I felt pretty good in the water, until I came out shivering. I pulled of my wetsuit, put on a shirt, helmet and gloves and took off on a 112 mile bike ride. That took me 6 hours and 40 minutes. Those long straight roads lined with cornfields have a way of making you crazy. I started cramping pretty bad at mile 56, and pushed through the 2nd half of the bike. The ride took its toll on my body as I changed shoes, put on a hat and ran off on a 26.2 mile run. So many battles in my mind, heart and will. On mile 15 of the run, my body almost shut down. I got dizzy and thought I was going to hurl. That's when all the thoughts of quitting start crossing your mind. When you don't know if you have what it takes. There were several who did not finish. It is in these few moments in life where you really see what you are made of. I was literally so physically and mentally exhausted, I almost started crying. Crazy! Then I remembered what I tell my boys and little girl, "Stephens never quit". I asked Jesus for help and pressed on. I started feeling a little better as I ran. It was completely dark when I finished the race in 12 hours and 54 minutes. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I don't think I will ever do another one that far, but deep inside I know that when I was truly tested.........I prevailed..............because I can do ALL things through Christ which strenghtens me.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pre-race


I showed up today at Mattoon Beach Illinois for my Ironman, along with my lovely wife Keri and my dad. I stepped up to the shore and as I peered out over the water at those bouys.......Wow, do they look far. I threw on my wetsuit and went for a swim and then jumped on my bike and cruised down an old country road lined with corn. I suddenly have this sense that the 8 months of training, dedication and sacrifice are now about to be put to the test. The Ironman Triathlon is a 140.6 mile race that can never be handed to someone, but it must be earned. It is no respecter of persons and will test all who attempt it. 20% of all who have trained and attempt it......fail. They receive the dreaded "DNF" (did not finish). Personally, I love challenges that push me to my limits of mental and physical capabilities. I feel ready! I have done all the work and my personal test begins tomorrow morning at 6:45am. I have waited for this day for 8 months and have dreamed of it for close to a lifetime. My opportunity is here, and to that I say................ BRING IT!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

running low


This morning my mom asked me to move her car so my Keri could get her van out. But her car wouldn't start because she was so low on gas and sitting on a hill. So I sputtered, stalled and restarted all the way to the gas station and filled up. I began thinking that many Christians are kind of like that. They continually run on empty and are barely hanging on until they get to church and get fed, but it is not quite enough. Or perhaps it is our other gauges like, our emotional, mental or physical tanks. Whatever the case, we must constantly learn how to read our gauges. We are all wired different. Personally, there are times when I will tell my Keri that I am red lining in a certain area. She then knows that it won't take much to start an argument and she helps me until I can refuel....and vice versa. But the key is knowing when you are running low and what measures need to be taken to fill up. What are your gauges reading?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

you need a coach


I sat this morning with my ministry coach, Stan Tharp of clcdayton.com. His wisdom and questions have been invaluable to myself and our church as we grow. I think we all need people who have permission to either pat us on the back or punch us in the gut if we need it. Also, the fact that my coach is farther down the road of ministry than I am, allows him to help me through sharing strategies and lessons he has learned, that has accelerated our growth. Today, I felt he challenged me to see farther down the road then what I was looking. I think we all need that outside, honest perspective. So who's coaching you? Who can coach you? We all need them, so begin chasing someone.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

stuff


I lost in ping pong last night....(sounds of weeping).....that's all I am prepared to say about that right now. On another note:

1. At C3, we just polled the congregation on Sunday to see what they wanted as it would pertain to a 3rd service. C3 has begun to hit another growth spurt and we want to be ahead of the curve. I was surprised to see that the majority of our people said they would come to a Sunday night service. Our poll had about 5 multiple choice questions about service times, community groups and how people got to C3. Amazingly helpful.

2. We have totally revamped our discipleship process to 3 simple words: Connect, Grow, Serve.
Connect through our main service - Grow through community groups - Serve through our serving opportunities
Read SIMPLE CHURCH

3. I race my Ironman Triathlon Saturday.......BRING IT YO!

4. I took my 3 year old to his first day of preschool. That is one of the biggest days of his little life and I was honored to be by his side........right alongside the other roomful of MOTHERS who showed up to send their kids off. HA!

5. Ran through Starbucks drive-through and got the wrong coffee. I griped and grumbled and made a u-turn and went back. I got into a great conversation that led to a church invite and..........a free cup of coffee. Lord forgive me for my attitude.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Golf


Today, Gary and I golfed at the district pastors event. I have finally come to grips with the fact that I am horrible at golf. I usually love competition and usually do OK, but with golf......I am horrible. I think it is God's way to continue to keep me humble. So once again today, I had another lesson in humility.....but we had a lot of fun. I always try to take the lemon and make lemonade. Anyways, I get to hear our new Supt. (George Wood) of our fellowship tonight at this meeting. It should be good...and there is a ping pong tournament.....not golf, but ping pong. I hope to come home with a trophy! Time will tell.

Friday, September 7, 2007

habits

This Sunday we are touching on health as we continue a series entitled "Intentional Living". The main point is: "you form your habits and then your habits for you". It is so true in every area of our lives. Whether physically, mentally, relationships, etc, our habits all move toward health or away from it. I try my best to look at my habits on a regular basis to make sure I'm on track. I actually have them written down in a personal growth plan that is my track to run on to become the best I can be. What habits have you formed.....or do you need to form?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

good problems


It seems crazy to me that no matter if there is success or failure in a field, they both bring about problems, some good and some bad. But regardless, they are both problems. I talked with a pastor of a church plant whose church has not grown in the past couple of years, and this poses several problems, ie, money, resources and people. We are facing a "good" problem as C3 continues to grow, ie, space, parking, staffing, etc. Both scenario's are problems, but they are just on the opposite sides of the coin. So really regardless of the outcome of what you are spending your life on......there will be problems. If that is true, then how we view and handle these problems will either greatly hinder or help us.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

first ministry position


On Monday, I took the family and drove to South Canton for a little exteneded family get together at a park out in the country. I drove past my old High School and all the roads that I ran hundreds of miles on over the years. Then we drove by the church where I had my first paid ($30 a week) ministry position. I started youth ministry at age 18 in my first year in college at this Methodist Church. The pastor was the assistant Cross Country coach who gave me a chance. I also got to preach my first Sunday morning service there. I started with one kid and it grew to over 20. So many lessons were learned in that 2 years that God would build upon in the years to come. I'm just glad someone gave me a chance. Of course for $30 a week, they probably weren't lining up, but they still took a risk on me. Not only that, but they had patience and understanding to know that I had a ton of passion and energy but lacked on the wisdom side of things.
I want to be the one who believes in this next generation enough to give them opportunities that could forever shape them into who God wants them to be.

Friday, August 31, 2007

rematch


Tonight, we will be parking cars on our lot for the football game going on next door. Our community is starting to realize if they park at C3, they get something for free. Last week in the heat it was water, today it's tootsie pops. Tonight, is the rematch of the State Championship (div 2) game where Pickerington Central (us) lost to Piqua. The only thing good to come out of that game last year was that their runningback is now at Ohio State. This game is bringing some hype to Picktown.
Personally, when I lose in something, I always want a rematch. I want to know if learned anything from the loss. Did it make me better or worse? A rematch is all about adaptation. Can I adapt to their strategy better than my opponent can to mine? At C3, we are all about adaption. How can we adapt the most relevant message in the world (that of Jesus Christ) to make it clear and relevant to the people of East Columbus? That is the question that we will continue to wrestle with till Jesus comes back.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

feed yourself


Today while speaking at GCA's student chapel, I challenged the students to "Feed Yourself". I shared how with my kids, there was a process where they move from the bottle to solid food. Also, that someone feeds us and then we slowly learn to not only feed ourselves but prepare our own food. I think we have too many Christians who's spiritual growth has been stunted by a lack of spiritual nutrition. They eat only on Sunday morning which is a second hand revelation. As a pastor when God gives me a Word and I deliver it, it is still 2nd hand. I got it and passed it on. That is good, but it can;t sustain a spiritually growing person much like one meal a week would sustain us physically. As Christians we must learn to find and consume our own food. To get those first hand nuggets of revelation from the Almighty God.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Spirit led

Today, I'm driving back to the church after lunch and the thought just comes in my head to stop at GFS to grab some church supplies. So I go in, and at the checkout see a lady whom I have talked to in the past. She asks about the church and somehow the conversation comes to the point that I am the pastor. She can't believe that I am a pastor. I also told her that I speak in jeans and a cup of coffee in my hand. I can tell that she was intrigued because she asked about classes for her 2yr old. She says she is coming. But the point is, my conversation with God afterward was..."Lord, did you put the thought in my head to stop there, or was it the Chipotle Burrito that jarred my memory. I mean there are times where I feel YOU impressing me to do or say something, but this time I felt nothing. Or did You (God) just use me where I was at the time. Either way, I was used to plant a seed in a ladies heart who needs Jesus. I am learning that truly being led by the Spirit of God, means anywhere, anytime and anyplace, God can and will use the available vessel.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

spiritual emphasis week

This week in the mornings, I am speaking at Chapel time for Evangel Christian School. I get to speak to a couple hundred 6th - 12th graders. I can sense a real hunger for more of God. Although it is only day 2 of 5, I can see them continuing to open up for more of God. I really enjoy speaking to teenagers because they keep me sharp. If I'm not "on", they will eat my lunch. I had better be prayed up and come with something to say. I am honored at the opportunity.

Monday, August 27, 2007

independence vs dependence


Mondays are my day off and I love hanging with my family. Today, I played with my kids in the backyard. My little 2yr old Kali is now moving into that independent stage. "I wanna do it", is her new slogan. She is exploring and climbing and running. (although her run in the same speed as her walk, with only her right arm pumping faster) But independence is a natural thing for our kids to begin to desire and even live out. In our spiritual lives though, it is just the opposite. The more mature I become in my faith, the more dependent I become on Jesus Christ. When this begins to happen, we move from our small paradigms of things WE can accomplish to a complete, new, uncharted realm. God sized dreams! That's the only way I want to live.

Friday, August 24, 2007

dreamers


Today I sat with 2 young ladies at a coffee shop who both had amazing dreams that were placed on their hearts by an almighty God. I know this because I could just sense it in my spirit. Not only that, but there is no-way they could ever accomplish them without a big GOD. As I sat there, my heart was leaping inside me! To hear other visionaries with dreams to change their world for me is energizing. I continued to pray, "Lord, how can I help them?" I believe that God has placed us on this earth to fulfill our purpose and to help others fulfill theirs. I believe that God is looking for "dreamers" to recieve a vision from His heart and run with it. How about you, are you still dreaming? Is your life focused on fulfilling your God given dream? Find it, guard it, live it!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

enjoying the journey


It always seems that I am in a hurry to get somewhere or get something done. My parents said even when I was a kid, my line was "me busy". When there is a goal looming in the distance, I have a tendency to keep focused on it and push hard until it is reached. This is true for me with our church, at home, my triathlon training and life. The only problem is that I miss a whole lot of what God is trying to teach me along the way, as well as missing out on much of the joy of the journey. So now that I am in recovery to slow down, I try to purposefully take time to smell the roses, take in the sunsets and truly enjoy this journey that Christ is leading me on.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Great day Sunday


We had a big day Sunday with our biggest crowd ever, which was followed by our first ever church picnic. Altogether, it was a great day. I knew we were in trouble when our first service was very low, that our 2nd service was going to be crazy....and it was. Our kids workers had maxed out classes, but pulled it off. During this first year with our C3 Church plant, we are beginning to learn the rythms of our church and it's people. We have the best people on the planet and it is has been an amazing experience linking arms with new friends who are now journeying with us. God is no doubt in this thing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

mission minded

I'm driving back from a meeting today and realizing that I am a "man on a mission". I have chosen to accept this assignment to make a dent in East Columbus for the name of Jesus Christ. I think God is amazing how He leads me to meet someone who has a friend who needs to plug in a church and they happen to live in my town. I will get their name and number and connect with them. How cool is God to set this entire thing up because He cares for His children. This has happened several times. It is awesome to play my part, "my mission", which fits into God's bigger picture. Are you living your mission out?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

speed networking


Today, I went to Pickerington's Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon. As a member of the Chamber, they have been a great asset to us to help connect in our community as a new church plant. There were about 50 other business leaders there, and they did a speed networking luncheon. We ate and then all had business cards ready and sat in chairs facing each other in a half moon shape in 2 rows. They said go, and you each of us had one minute to exchange cards and give your mini presentation. I got to connect with a ton a people in a matter of 30 - 40 minutes. It was gold. I got an interview for a radio station and 2 people who will visit us this Sunday out of it. I also made some great first connections with business leaders in our community. I think as church leaders we must work hard to get out of our offices.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

ownership


Tonight, we meet with our key leaders to cast vision and get their input on our discipleship process that we have been hammering out. When we cast a vision, it is cast as a draft. This gives opportunity for input to bring it to the next level and gives ownership to our people to be a part of it on ground level. We show up with a good idea of where we need to go, but it is still changeable. Every meeting, the plan gets more and more refined. There has been some amazing questions and thoughts that have been brought up which have been implemented in the new process. By casting the vision this way, everyone has input and feels ownership. Vision is then grabbed and ran with by several people rather than just by the leader.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Simple


We had an incredible meeting on Sunday with our leadership team that will be the foundation for how our church will move forward. The discussion was on how do we make disciples, and how do we position our church to best accomadate that. If making disciples is our #1 goal, then it must be where we put our time, energy and resources. This is so much tougher than just starting a new program. In fact, we are less than a year old and we already have to nix a couple of "good" things, in order to get the "best" things. We are now in draft #2 and are pitching it before the various leadership groups in our church to get buy-in. It is shaping up to be "CONNECT, GROW, SERVE. The goal is for everyone in our church to know how C3 makes disciples. This will give a learning path for them to follow in order to continue growing. The book "simple church" has been influential along with one of my mentors, Stan Tharp of CLC Dayton. I have been amazed at the lack of a simple discipleship process that even some of larger churches don't have. If you know me, once we get this thing hammered out, anyone is welcomed to what we got.

offended


Today, while driving back to C3 from a $1.78 Taco Bell run, (proof I am a church planter) I saw something that offended me. There were a group of young girls probably 14 - 17 walking down our main street in town where several American flags hang from the light posts. As I look down the road I see one of the girls with one of those flags still on the pole and she throws it in the middle of the road and walks away. I am the first car to come upon it and I pull in a driveway, honk my horn at the girls who quickly walk away, run out and pick it up. Now, I am trying to keep from saying something that is unbecoming of a pastor in their town. But I was angry. When I find myself in situations like this, I tend to think through all the what if's. What if I would have run up to them and "tore into them", what if I could have called fire down from the sky. But I had to ask myself why did that offend me and why do I struggle to just let it go? In this case, it is for patriotism....but in most cases, it is not. It is more like pride or fear.....or both. Anyway...I FORGIVE THEM for what they did today against their country. They probably have no clue that men and woman have and still do give their lives so we can fly that flag.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Leakage


Today at 5:38am, Gary and I went for a very long run. After an hour and a half, I began to hear squishing sound from my friends shoes next to me. I have never seen a man sweat like this. You would have thought this joker had jumped in a lake. It was so bad, that while running next to him, I began to get sprinkled on my legs. I finally realized that it was coming off my buddy Gary's shoes, shorts and shirts. And I began thinking that we all leak! We leak who we are on all of those around us. We leak what is inside of us. Whether it is good or bad, positive or poison. I also realized that if I don't like what someone is leaking on me, then I can move. On the other side of the coin, I can be intentional at surrounding myself with those who will leak wisdom, positive attitudes and big dreams on me. While at the same time changing what I leak on others. Everyone leaks... so make the best of it.