Thinking Toward “Next”


My participation in “1o Days to a Better Blog” challenges me to evaluate my past performance in light of my future endeavor.  I have looked at the analytics for this blog over the months since January 2011…about three months after I started blogging.  My intention was to determine what categories and topics were most popular with my readers.  The top two categories are “Following Christ” and “Life in Community.”  The top two posts are “Community Prayer: The Balancing Act” and “Joining the Fraternity.”  These statistics do not surprise me in that the theme of the blog has always been, “Perspectives in the context of community.”  Posts that focused on practical and authentic faith in our daily lives were those most well received and where the greatest amount of conversation was engaged.

As I continue to think toward what is next, this will inform my focus and the topics I will tackle.  I will trim my categories, making the scope more concise.  My hope is that this will streamline the content and increase my creative energy.

Initially, my planned categories are (in no particular order):

  • Faith Journey
  • Writing
  • Relationships
  • Culture
  • Personal Growth

If you have thoughts about these proposed categories, I would love to hear it.  I’m sure they will be tweaked a bit here and there as I continue.  After all, this is a community (or at least that’s what I would like for it to become once again), so I value your feedback.

Let me hear your thoughts.

Reflection and Gratitude

2014-06-23 11.30.59

This picture is from this past June as my wife and I spent a week in Hawaii.  Being at the beach always makes me rest, relax and reflect.  It reminds me of why I’m writing this post today.

I was challenged to reflect on these past few days of doing the blogging restart.  Here are my thoughts…for what they’re worth.

Okay…what have these past three days been like for me? That’s a mixed bag of emotions and thoughts. It has been good for me…forced me to slow down and once again be a little more introspective. You know, life can get too fast, or too routine, or too painful to give us permission to pause. If we do, we might have to face something scary, feel the emptiness, or admit that we can’t quite keep up. These past few days have drawn me in to stop, reflect, think about where I’m going…especially with this blogging. Restarting isn’t quite as hard as I thought it might be, but I’m moving more slowly than I thought I would…you know, not really saying anything very significant so far? Haha…every word is supposed to be earth-shattering, right? 😉

Continue reading Reflection and Gratitude

Improving My Writing “Horsepower”


writing desk

Today I’m challenged to think about my environment for creative expression…specifically, writing.  The correlation between the environment in which I work and the effectiveness and efficiency with which I produce the “product” can’t be ignored.  As a pastor, I’ve known this for a long time.  Having periods of uninterrupted focus with few distraction is essential to being able to accomplish the task of preparing, thinking, seeking, processing and expressing ones self, no matter the end product-—sermon, Bible study, personal growth or writing project.  That is what I’m thinking through today in this post.

I am a car enthusiast.  I don’t have the resources to express and experience that as fully as I would like.  However, I can appreciate a beautiful and finely crafted automobile.  I love the details of how automobiles have developed over the years.  One of the types of cars that I love is the mid-twentieth century muscle cars.  I grew up around the vehicles and my favorite is the Ford Mustang.  I actually bought a convertible that was a fulfillment of a long-time dream.  Not surprisingly, related to that interest, I have enjoyed American auto racing over the years as well.  At one time, I really got into the stock car racing world by attending races, following my favorite drivers and even visiting tracks.  A few years ago, I got the privilege to drive a race car for 8 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway and reached a top speed of 154 mph.  That was a thrill!

Continue reading Improving My Writing “Horsepower”

The “Why” Revisited


If you don’t have a target, you have no direction for your shot. If you don’t know your motives, you have nothing to guide your actions. Without a compass (or GPS), a sailor will never make port. What is there to guide you when you set out to do anything? This is the question I am challenged to answer for myself in the restart of this blog. It is not enough to know what I write…and you can read about that here.  There has to be a deeper question…Why do I write?

I actually have answered that question before, here.  As I went back an re-read that post, I realized that my intentions remain primarily the same as they were back in 2010, when I wrote that post.  However, let me take just a moment to melt it down just a little more for you (and myself).  In that post I said…

I endeavor to write something that…

  1. Touches their lives
  2. Opens their eyes
  3. Inspires their hearts
  4. Intrigues their minds
  5. Challenges their thinking
  6. Tickles their funny bone

and… G.  Elicits their responses

Here is the central focus…I want to have influence.  I don’t want to wax too spiritual for any of you who don’t really come from that perspective, but think about it.  When you leave this life, there is really nothing you can take with you.  You know the old adage, there are no hearses pulling U-Haul trailers.  The “stuff” we too often spend our time and efforts to gain, just rusts and decays and will eventually be destroyed.  The only thing that will follow us into the eternity beyond this life is the influence we have managed to have on others through the life we lived and the relationships we established.

So…I write to influence.  I want to make an impact of some sort on the lives of the people with whom I rub elbows…physically or electronically.  If I can have even a small influence for good in the lives of those around me, I know my time here has not been wasted.  Therefore, I write.

Nineteenth century British author, George Eliot, wrote:

Perhaps this blog will be blessed and a blessing as I seek to lovingly and truthfully influence the souls who pass this way.




An interesting word, “torn.”  It is the past participle of the verb, “tear.”  If you are an English speaker, I don’t need to tell you what this word means.  You know that it is to rip or slice, making something that was one to become two or more pieces.  It is usually a reference to something being destroyed, but can be useful in everyday life.  We may tear a piece of bread as we are eating.  The usher may tear our ticket as we are admitted to a movie.  Negatively, I may be upset if my new shirt gets torn on a nail, or my manuscript is torn by a critic who calls it drivel and tosses it back in my face (a little extreme, I know).  The point is, tearing can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on the circumstance.

There is, however, another meaning of “torn” that is a little less common.  It is being “in the state of uncertainty between two conflicting options.”  Chances are, you’ve been there.  We find ourselves in decision-making situations every day.  Most of the decisions we make are of little consequence in the big picture…what will we have for lunch?  …whether to have another cup of coffee?  …buying those new shoes?  One may argue that even these decisions carry consequences; and they do, but they aren’t generally life-altering in weight.

On the other hand, we do face decisions often that are quite life-impacting.  These decisions can have long-range effects on our lives, and the lives of those around us.  Decisions like relationships, career, education, lifestyle choices and personal responsibility, can make a huge difference in the trajectory of our lives.  This can be true in a deeply spiritual and moral sense, as well as just the practical path of our lives.  Have you ever wondered how things might be different if you had made a different choice at some juncture along the way?

I remember taking our first ministry position after graduating from my undergraduate program.  I began working as a youth pastor at a church on the east coast.  It was a process that had taken a few months…contacts, interviews, visits, prayer, discussions with my new wife.  We decided that this was the place God would have us begin our lives of ministry.  So, we made the move halfway across the country.  A month into our new work, a call came from seemingly out of nowhere.  A friend at a publishing company in Nashville, TN (from where we had just moved and left friends and familiar surroundings), called and offered me a position in a new division they were creating. It would be a national-level youth ministry position.  It was an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something influential and new.  The possibilities were exciting and the offer was enticing.  Here I was, just getting started in a new church ministry position and facing this offer that was more than I could have imagined.  I was torn.

It is in situations like these, that we need more than just our own judgment.  Using only my personal judgment and the criteria that human reasoning brings, it would have been a “no-brainer.”  There is much more future, recognition, chance for advancement and self-promotion to take the publishing house position.  Just think of how that would look on my resume.  Think of the doors that may open.  However, there was more at stake here.  I had made a commitment to a church…a body of believers.  I had prayed and determined that God was directing us to this place for ministry.  There were youth there who had accepted us with open arms and were excited that we wanted to lead and minister to them.  I needed wisdom that was beyond my own to make the right decision.  It was a matter of integrity and faithfulness, and those are two elements that earthly wisdom doesn’t always provide.

Just yesterday, I taught as a guest speaker in our children’s worship.  The topic was wisdom.  I shared with them that wisdom is “using knowledge in the right way.”  That means that we may have lots of knowledge…the “know how” it takes to get something done or to accomplish a task, but that doesn’t mean we know how best to go about it.  Wisdom takes the knowledge we have, and it sifts it through the grid of God’s truth.  Whether it involves a career decision, or a moral decision, the process is the same.  Take what you know and submit it to the truth of God’s Word…the principles that will guide us into making decisions that reflect integrity and faithfulness, among other characteristics.

I love what James reminds us,

If you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do — ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. (James 1:5)

I love it that God wants us to know how to make good decisions.  He has promised us that if we ask Him for wisdom, He will freely give it.  He isn’t hiding the truth and playing games with us…sitting up there joking with the angels about how we just don’t get it and taking bets on whether we will figure it out.  He is ready and willing to give us what we need to make right choices…if we only ask.  That’s a promise I can use!!

I stayed in that youth pastor position and went on to have a very fruitful ministry with those teenagers.  I still communicate with them today and they share with us how thankful they are for the years we had together and what God taught them during our tenure there.  Might life have taken a very different path if I had made the opposite decision?  Yes.  Would it have been a bad thing?  Perhaps not.  But, there is no doubt that the decision I made, with the wisdom God provided, resulted in so many things that were God-ordained.  I wish I could say that every decision I’ve made in life had equal application of God’s wisdom.  Nevertheless, every time I’ve been torn, and I’ve allowed God to give me the wisdom to make the choice, the tearing has been for my benefit and the benefit of everyone around me.  There is no better way to maneuver the choices of life, that through the application of true wisdom.

Back to the Future

Back to the Future
Image from


Keep your eyes open for Marty McFly, the time-traveling teenager from 1989, who has come to 2015 to save his family.  He may be hard to spot, because he will fit right in while using the hover boards, riding in flying cars and wearing self-fitting clothes that are so prevalent today. 😉  Well…maybe not.  It is quite interesting, however, how much technology advances the writers of Back to the Future got right.  Flat screen TV, tablet computers, computer watches and video calling were all predicted in the movie and are commonplace today.  Interesting, isn’t it?  You can read all about how much the movie got right and what it missed, here.

Going “back to the future” can be helpful sometimes…and I’m not just talking about a sic-fi movie.  In my journey back into blogging, I went back to read a post I wrote about this very thing in 2012.  It was poignant and introspective for me to go back and read it.  It informs this process of “restarting” for me.  I think you will find some of the things there helpful in your journey as well…not just as a blogger, but as a fellow journeyer in this life we are living.

This is going to be a slow and steady process for me.  If you’re reading, I hope you will have the patience to walk with me.  If not, that’s okay.  At least for the first phase, it is going to be more for my own benefit than anything else, anyway.  Maybe something will strike a chord with you too.  It just reminds me that God is faithful.  He is patient and loves us more than we can ever imagine.  His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.  That means I will walk back into this sphere one step at a time and with confidence that God will use even this as a process to continue to make me who I need to be.

Go here to read the post to which I have referred, Returning is Not Just for the Prodigal.

Pressing reSTART


Start Sign

It has been a long time coming…coming back, that is.  I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions or turning over a new leaf, but there is something about January 1 that makes us desire a fresh start.  It is mental, it is spiritual and it is practical.  I’m not going into all the reasons, at this point, of what has taken me away from writing these many months, but suffice it to say…it’s time to RESTART!


I need to regain the benefit that writing brings.  I need to exercise my mind and emotion in a way that helps me process and keeps me on a productive cycle.  Blogging actually impacts all of life.  If you’ve ever blogged, you know what I mean.  I need this…I’ve needed it for a long time now.  It may be a bit slow at first, or it may explode…I can’t really tell you what it will look like.  But it is time.


You know when it is time..right?  You can feel it.  Your heart tells you so.  Your mind is full, and it’s all jumbled up until you let it out through the written page.  That’s where I am.  Writing gives me a place to organize my thinking, express my thinking and test my faith…applying it to the practical process of daily life.  People do that in different ways…I do it through writing.



It is great timing too.  A person whom I look to as a bit of a mentor in the blogosphere, John Saddington, has developed a new publishing app (DeskPM) that won “BEST APP of 2014.”  This is my first published post using the app.  He published a post on starting or RESTARTING a blog today.  John is also beginning an online workshop entitled, 10 Days to a Better Blog, which I have signed up to attend.  The stars are aligned.  This is a perfect alignment for my decision to restart.



I don’t know what this blog is going to look like.  I know that it will continue to be real and I will do my best to be genuine and open with what I think and believe. I will also be launching a new brand and professional endeavor, that will be linked to this blog, called Tandem Coaching.  More to come on that.


Everyone needs a fresh start from time to time.  It’s emotionally and spiritually cleansing.  It’s bibically sound.  It’s a function of the amazing Grace of God!

A Cross-Cultural Desire: Be a Resource

The Faculty and Staff - Elementary, High School and College
The Faculty and Staff – Elementary, High School and College

Whenever we engage with people of other cultures, we are usually concerned about bridging cultural gaps and being appropriate and applicable in our host culture.  We know that this is necessary in order to build relationships and to be effective in whatever our endeavor.  However, there are some things that transcend cultural boundaries and differences.  These are universal to the human experience and heart/mind.  I have been reminded of this very graphically while here in the Philippines. Continue reading A Cross-Cultural Desire: Be a Resource

Chapter 2 Begins


Sitting here at the airport…all checked in and waiting to board my flight. This last week has been a whirlwind making sure all my bases are covered in the ministry at home and preparing for the work I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks. It’s exciting. It’s an opportunity I don’t take lightly. I’m thankful God has opened this door and that I have the privilege of playing a small part in the equipping of believers and workers in the Kingdom on the other side of the world. Thank you, God.


God has given me this opportunity but there are many others who have made, and are making, it possible to do this.  Many have told me they have been, and will continue to pray for me and this work.  Many have given financially to support and participate in this mission.  Thank you to friends, fellow church members, relatives, the church from my hometown and those who believe in what I’m doing in this endeavor.  I’m also thankful for the sacrifice of my wife who hates being at home alone for extended periods of time.  Although she does not like to see me leave on these trips, she wholeheartedly supports me and gives of herself to make it possible.  Thank you Sweetheart!


You can read about the overall scope of this mission here, if you haven’t been in the loop so far.  Specifically, this time I will be focusing on training.  I’m privileged to have the opportunity to be involved in the following tasks.  As you read this, perhaps you can pray more specifically about the work I’ll be doing over the next 15 days.

Topic/Focus                                                                          Group

Best Counseling Practices for Crisis Intervention                Pastors and deacons serving as pastors

Best Counseling Practices for Crisis Intervention                Faculty and Staff – GBBC and School

Counseling Older Congregants                                                 Young Pastors

P.L.A.C.E. Assessment and Coaching                                      Junior and Senior College Students

Teacher In-service                                                                       Faculty GBBC School


Thank you in advance for your prayers.  I ask that you seek God to give me wisdom in the material I present, the ability to discern needs on the fly, the discernment to make cross-cultural application and relevance and strength and stamina physically and emotionally.  Your partnership is not taken lightly and you will share in the blessing of knowing Kingdom impact is being made.


A Small World…Light Years Apart

My Friend and I on Easter Sunday
My Friend and I on Easter Sunday

I wonder what he thought as he watched us laugh and joke…as he saw us go about our days as though there was not a care in the world?  As I looked into his eyes, I saw a depth of concern and burden that disclosed a faith that knows what it means to put one’s life on the line for following Christ.  Don’t get me wrong, my new friend could laugh and smile…and he did often.  However, he was never so serious as when he worshiped or spoke of his faith…he was never so passionate as when he challenged us to be bold in our faith as well.

Continue reading A Small World…Light Years Apart

Reflections in the Context of Community

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