Sunday, November 30, 2008

Heading to the woods!

Today we finished C3's latest sermon series called cages. The latest one was on "Fear." The main point, "The more we trust, (in God) the less we fear."
Right after service tonight, my buddy Cal (from FL) and I are heading to some friends house to do some deer hunting in Southeast Ohio, at an undisclosed location. (Just for the record, I am a real woodman who eats all that I harvest.) When I get alone in the woods, I feel incredibly close to God. I can't wait to connect with the rain and snow!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Thanksgiving was great! When you mix family, friends and good food all together, it makes for a good time. It's a reminder of how blessed that I truly am. I also got to take my 7yr old son on his first deer hunt. I had the bow and we were crammed into a 1 seater tree stand, 15ft off the ground. He did great......but we saw No deer. Bummer. That's why they call it "hunting" and not "getting." I also ran a 5k race on Thanksgiving morning. There were 1,400 runners, and I placed 29th in 17:35, but it did land me 2nd in my age group! I improved my time by 34 seconds off my last years time. Anyway, when my kids get older I want to make running that 5k a family affair, a Stephens tradition!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Counting the Cost

Today, I'm meeting with a couple builders to talk future expansion of C3 Church. We have made no final decisions yet, but rather want to gather several possibilities and as much information as we can. Before any decision is made, you have to count the cost, because there is a price-tag. Of course we immediately think financially, but it is so much more than that. There are the price-tags of time, energy, people hours, focus, staff hours, etc. As leadership, it all has to be factored in. Our prayer is for God's wisdom and favor as we continually move forward.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Natural Church Development

C3 just took a test that measures the 8 essential qualities of a healthy church. Can I say that taking this test is a little scary. When it is all said and done, it all points back to the leadership, or lack of. Anyways, we got the reports back and we are very excited. The national average score in each of these areas is a 50. We were well above the average in every category...PTL! Our minimum factor, which scored a 55 was "Passionate Spirituality." This deals with the fact of people being excited about their relationships with Christ to the point that they enjoy studying the Bible, praying, etc and that there is a passion and excitement in serving God. Now, while I'm excited that our low is better than the national average, this area is going to get some serious attention. The key is, that we have defined reality. We will now assemble a team to form a plan and go after it. Next year, we will take the test again and look to tackle our next minimum factor. If the church is the "bride of Christ," we have a long way to go to get her ready!

Monday, November 24, 2008

2 things

1. Ohio just won another National Championship! No, it's not the Buckeyes...and barring a miracle from God, will never will be the Browns, Bengals, Cavs or Bluejackets. It was the Columbus Crew! For some, you still have no idea. We have a Soccer team....and apparently a pretty good one. Props to the Crew!

2. I am changed by every single person I meet or have contact with. I was thinking about some of the conversations I have had in the past week. Every person I interact with, changes me. I glean from everyone I can in order to grow. I take a little from everyone I meet. Many for the good, while several cause me to strengthen my convictions in certain areas. I walk away at times with answers, while from others with more questions. Either way, I want to continually be wrestling and praying in order to continue growing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


"The truest knowing, comes in doing." If we truly know Christ, it has to change the way we live and what we do. In today's society, talk is cheap. We have to live out the message of Jesus Christ authentically. Most followers of Jesus Christ are over-educated and under-applied. If we would live out half of what we know, we could change our world......but the key is "doing" and living it out loud. So let's get doing!

Wealth Conundrum

Reading the book "Wealth Conundrum" by Ralph Doudera and having my eyes opened even farther as it pertains to money and stewardship. Stewardship means - all of what I own belongs to God, and I'm just managing His stuff. I want to think of all that I have as "on-loan" from God. This book challenged my thoughts on permanent and temporary assets. Permanent assets are those that are given to God, while temporary assets are my bank, retirement accounts, etc. I guess the big overall thought was the fact that we squabble over giving a cup of water, while standing at the bottom of Niagara Falls. God owns it all, and He blesses those who take risks (at least in our little minds) to give toward His Kingdom. I'm now challenged to tithe more than 10% and give more spontaneously to those in need. I never want money to have a grip on my life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I read a great quote in the book UnChristian tonight that said; "I need to be more concerned with what happens in me, than to me." So much truth in that statement. I think it is easy to remain focused on the action, words or circumstances that has happened to us, and miss out what is going on IN us. Questions like: Why does what they said, bother me so badly? Why does that persons actions make me angry? OR, we unknowingly allow our environments or circumstances on the outside, to slowly shape us on the inside. We must continue to ask ourselves, take inventory of what is going on and being shaped in our lives.

reflections from the chair

I went to the dentist this morning and in the words of the dentist "there will be no FUN today." Of course he was talking about "fun" for him and not for me. But here are my take-aways from the chair:
- A little discipline daily (flossing, brushing) can save you from a lot of pain.
- I had to constantly remind myself to relax and quit flexing every muscle in my body. Life is better when I'm relaxed.
- Regular check-ups can help be pro-active. They can identify issues and head them off before they get too bad, but it requires frequent reality checks.
- It's never as bad as I think it is going to be. In life whether it's a conversation that needs to be had, or something I have to do, once it's over, I almost always say, It wasn't as bad as I thought.
- I hate the sound of "THE DRILL!" I'm just glad it was next door.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Today, I got up early and hit the gym and then headed for a coffee appointment with a buddy. Gary picked me up there and we headed for a Central Sectional Pastors meeting (which I led) in Marysville. We then jumped back in the car and headed to Perrysburg to meet with a church building company to talk about what could be. No money has been spent yet, nor decisions made, but we are gathering all the info to make a decision about the future of C3 church. Exciting times! We loaded the car and headed back to get here just in time for our Community Group meeting at C3 Church......I love our Church.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Family Day

Our family is always on the go. So much so, that my 3 year old little girl asks everyday, "Where are we going today?" When we tell her we are staying at home, she asks if we can go somewhere. I just have to laugh. Anyways, I'm trying to be more intentional meeting the "Love Languages" (Great book) of my kids, especially on my day off. There are 5 languages; physical touch, affirmation, gifts, acts of service and quality time. So today I will wrestle with Kross, (physical touch) hug and kiss Kali and tell her how pretty she is (also physical touch and affirmation) and play a board game with Kaden (quality time). It's amazing how being intentional by showing them love in the their own love languages, speaks loud and clear to my kids. I love being a dad.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Do you have vision for your relationship with Christ? My bedtime devo last night was from Oswald Chambers who said, "Your reach must be farther than your grasp." How many times have we gotten spiritually relaxed to the point where we are not longer reaching for more of God? Then when we do go to God, it's only in a crisis. Today in my prayer time, I'm thinking of who I want to be spiritually. Then trying to think through what that looks like and be intentional about creating habits and steps to get me there. So, is your reach farther than your grasp?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Tonight, we are holding a "Partnership" meeting. This is for those who are ready to commit to be "All In" at C3 Church. They are coming into a covenant relationship with the leadership and others at C3, to fulfill the vision God has given us, which is to lead people to LifeChange. They are committing to move from the bench to the actual playing field. Our Partners are willing to come under a different level of spiritual accountability. I hope tonight will be a time where God shows up and cements us together as one body. As Partners, there is an agreement to give, serve and pray. We are giving them shirts that say C3 on the front and "Partner 08" on the back. I pray God's favor on tonight!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This morning in my devo's I read this quote: "Our lives are not made by the dreams we dream, but by the choices we make."
I think it is true to say that most people's dreams never come true. The reason why, is because of our choices. What would happen if we would make choices with regard to how it would effect our future dreams? Then perhaps instead of hindering our dreams, our choices would allow us to seize them. I want to be intentional with my choices.....for my dreams depend on them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

day of prayer

I spent the day in a cabin for the sole purpose of praying and thinking about the future of C3 Church. I love connecting with God!
A good quote I came across tonight, " You can tell a man is clever by his answers, but wise by his questions."
I believe that questions are keys that open doors into others wisdom. If I have the right questions, I can get the right answers. I try to collect some good questions that I can use anytime on anyone. I never want to miss an opportunity to grow or glean from another who may know more than me.
Here are a couple that are always in my back pocket:
- What are some experiences or people that have shaped your life and why?
- What's your biggest challenge right now?
- What are you passionate about?
- Your favorite team is the Buckeyes too, right?

Monday, November 10, 2008

a needed day off

We had a great Sunday yesterday with our biggest attendance ever at C3 Church, and it wasn't a special occasion! I have no idea why, but we'll take it. There are no doubt some big decisions of where we go from here. Seats, is one thing we are running out of. Tomorrow, I head to a cabin to do nothing but pray for God's wisdom and guidance for 2009. Anyway, this morning I was in the woods enjoying God's creation and looking for a close encounter with one that has large antlers. (only smaller antlered one's were seen) I then hit the gym and am now at home spending some quality time with my kids.......priceless.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

MI Uth Conv

God is so good! Jeff Kennedy in Michigan has an incredible team that put on a great Youth Convention. The band did great and the students came hungry. I was so honored to be a part the event! They treated me like a VIP which is always humbling. I love being a part of what God is doing. My prayer has been that the students leave changed forever by the power of God.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Off to the state up north

I'm in an airport on my way to the Michigan Youth Convention. I'm honored by the invitation of my friend Jeff Kennedy to come and speak to the students of MI. I will have to guard my words about the Buckeyes/wolverines rivalry...ha. I have been praying that God would show up huge and change students and leaders lives forever. I love conventions for the fact that the students come with expectations of God doing something big in them. And when people show up hungry....God moves in a big way.
WOW....while writing this, an airport supervisor just set down with one of his workers next to me and encouraged his employee. She lit up like a Christmas tree. I guarantee that she will work harder for the team because of that interaction. That makes me want to be an encourager all the more!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Last Sunday, BeckE started our new sermon series entitled "Cages." We are going off the Mark Batterson Book, "Wild Goose Chase." This week I am talking on the cage of routine. Too many times, we get into a routine or a rut that robs us of living life and knowing God. We then wake up 25yrs later and wonder what happened to our lives. In order to break the routine we need a "CHANGE OF PLACE + CHANGE OF PACE = CHANGE OF PERCEPTION. I'm not saying all routines are bad, in fact some are good, but they have the potential to lead us into a boring life. God did not create us to live boring lives! He is the author of creativity and adventure. What routines do you need to break!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

the votes are in

Here are some of my thoughts about the election and the future of the U.S. You could read into any of these a million ways and dialog for days. But still, here they are:
- No doubt Obama will have to try to lead in one of the toughest times in history.
- The day of the "silent majority" has come to an end.
- People vote for what they value, and more than anything else, our country values the economy.
- It was a great victory and tribute to the Martin Luther King Jr. and all minorities in the US.
- The election also shows that anyone of any race or color, can accomplish great things in this great nation.
- We will soon find out if promises can be converted to action.
- Obama ran an incredible campaign that focused on the younger voters.
- No matter what your views of the election, God is in control.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day

Today history will be made. The future of this country will take a turn for somewhere starting today. No matter what happens, God is in control and He is still on the throne. My prayer, is that God's Will be done. Today, we will see how this whole thing starts playing out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

vacation pics

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words....then here ya go!

vacations over

Today, we made the trek home. Getting 3 kids through the airport is fun. They did very well for the most part. It was a straight 2hr 10min flight. Keri was prepared with snacks, gameboys, coloring books and much, much more. It's amazing how preparation can stop a "blowup" before it happens. We came home with a bunch of great memories and came home to warm weather.....yeah...we brought it with us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

i met my brother this weekend

My dad, my two brothers and myself have an incredible relationship of love, deep respect and honor. So much so (Full disclosure) that we all have the same tattoo on our back right shoulder. We designed it ourselves and all got them while in college. To us though, they are not a mere tattoo, but a symbol of what our relationship means to each other. Since the inception of the "brotherhood," we have "grafted" in 3 other guys. (Calvin, Gary Fowler and Rhett) This is the same symbol my boys will all get when they go through their "rite of passage" at 18yrs old. Anyways, at Shane's wedding I met his "Army Ranger" brother Rhett, who now bares the symbol. As we left, we put our hand on the other guys shoulder and said "Brother to Brother, Yours in Life and Death." Just knowing that my brother Shane, thinks of him as a brother, now makes him a brother to me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

my brothers wedding

Today, the final Stephens brother tied the knot, when my brother Shane married my new sister-in-law Jenny. They had a beautiful wedding in a garden patio in downtown Orlando. My dad and I got to officiate the ceremony, which was a big honor. I was able to meet some of Shane's "Army Ranger" buddies and hear some more cool stories. Altogether, it was a great day seeing old friends and meeting new people. Jenny comes from an incredible family and she has been welcomed into ours. There was a time or two that I got a little emotional. I guess just knowing what a promise means to our family and to see my brother making a promise to his new bride.......well it's just plain powerful.