Wednesday, December 30, 2009


This past Sunday I had an experience that makes any parent tremble. Jen, the girls and I were in the Fireside Room at Parkside's Salem Road Campus preparing to leave (winter means that just getting jackets on can take a short forever). I left to go get my Bible and notes from the stage and made a few passing comments to people as I made my way back to the lobby. I met Jen there asking me if one of our 2 1/2 year old twin daughters was with me. Upon saying no, Jen left our other two daughters with me as she took a quick glance at the elevator to see if she'd gone there (I'm not sure why our daughters love the elevator...they just do.) She returned to say that she wasn't at the elevator either. At that point I leave our other daughters with friends and begin to help her search. I'm running down hallways and looking in rooms with a vigor that it's hard to describe unless you've lost a child before. Very soon, Bart Steever (our Discipleship Minister) came around the corner with our daughter not far behind (she wouldn't let him pick her up or hold her hand). The entire episode probably lasted all of two minutes, but they felt like two years.

As I said, it is very difficult to describe the sense of worry--absolute panic--that swept through my body like a tidal wave. I was immediately concerned that she was wandering out into the busy parking lot or, worse, had been abducted. It's funny how your brain waves come in torrents in times like this. Stomach in knots. Whole body tense. It's wretched.

I was SO glad to see my daughter again. SO relieved. That feeling of relief is probably equally difficult to describe. I held her pretty tightly for longer than she liked.

Later Sunday, once the panic had subsided, I started to think about the situation from a different perspective. And I wished that my sense of panic and pain for God's children who have wandered far away from a sustaining relationship with Him was just as deep and real. I wish I ran down hallways to reach those who were lost. I wish my stomach was just as uneasy every day with the reality that an entire world around me needs to find their Father in the same way that my daughter needed me. Nah...that's not even true. They need their Father much worse.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Light of the World

There is a candle in my office with a deep well at the top where the wick is. I've been burning it a lot this week (it smells like cinnamon and Christmas) and I've noticed that the flame makes the top very pliable. In fact, it's been fun to play with the wax at the top--pushing it one way and the next--as I've been working on this week's sermon.

It's the eve of the day that we celebrate the birth of the Son of God, whose coming has made it possible for our hearts and lives to be changed. As with the candle wax in my office, may we also be malleable and changed as we draw closer to the Light of the World.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stuck in Romans 12

I'm stuck. I've been reading and rereading Romans 12 for about the past week (at least I think it has been a week...keep in mind that I have a newborn baby so my relationship to time is seriously altered). While the first few verses are highly memorized and get much play, I'm caught most by the end of that chapter. Simple sentences. First-grade-reading-level sentences. But the impact is amazing. And I struggle on varying levels with just about every simple, weighty sentence Paul throws at that early Roman church. I find that it isn't the hard theological arguments that trip me up but the simple, you-know-what-this-means stuff.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I recently started using Twitter. Not so much to say "On my way to the grocery store" as for the challenge to basically blog in about 10 words. While I don't mind filling people in on what's going on in my life, the tweets (not making this up...that's what comments are called on Twitter) that are most influential for me are the ones that reveal something about the tweetererer (okay, I did make that word up). There is also a feature on Twitter called retweeting. You retweet something that you read from someone else on Twitter. It then appears on your page with the original author's name attached.

Today I placed on Twitter (and, therefore, Facebook...mine are linked...wonders of technology, I know) the following comment: "sometimes it all comes down to wanting to be retweeted." Though I think a few people simply took that as a cheap attempt by me to get retweeted, my intention was different. Deeper, I think.

The more I'm around all of us who are broken the more opportunities that I have to notice how we want to be significant. We want to be noticed. "Retweeting" wouldn't exist if our basic nature didn't cry out for it. Notice me and think that I'm worth something. We clamor for status. How else do you explain couture jeans and foods that take 10 words to claim organic status? Perhaps Halloween lawn ornaments fit into this category, too. And, lest the rest of us be left out, interrupting others in conversation, name-dropping, living beyond our means, withholding affirmation from others and the like all usually have something to do with being noticed and ensuring status. For me, I also trip over my desires to be thought of as "wise" or "articulate".

The Fall is an ugly thing, isn't it?

I didn't so much want my tweet posted over everyone else's twitter page. I was just shooting to communicate that (in ways I wish I didn't have to admit) I want to be noticed, too. I want to be noticed in this world that is passing away to nothing.

I wish I didn't. Jesus needs to teach me more about his sufficiency because I get caught listening to this culture telling me sufficiency comes more from what I know or own than who I am: a child of God being changed into His likeness more each day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


As some of you may know, my wife and I are expecting our third daughter in about 2 months. In fact, this weekend we have a hospital tour scheduled. The reality is setting in more and more with each passing day.

But when I say that I'm expecting, I mean more than just a baby. I'm expecting a lot more. I'm expecting to feel the immense stress of dad-ing three daughters (the weight of that seems oppressive and intimidating even as I type it). I'm expecting to be scrutinized by three pairs of eyes for the rest of my life: my relationship with Jesus, how I treat their mom, how I treat them, how I handle my temper or my money or my time. I'm expecting to set an example of how each of them should expect to be treated by guys. I'm expecting to laugh. I'm expecting to cry. And I'm expecting to be surrounded by crying (four women in one household...even a cat that at least used to be a female). I'm expecting a lot.

Funny thing is that I'm not even remotely smart enough to expect more than 2% of all that is ahead.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Almost There!

Tonight we'll meet together with the River Campus launch team and organize, sort, prep, organize, sort, and prep some more. Before the evening winds down we will have completely loaded the trailer that houses all the supplies and resources for the new campus in the East End/Columbia Tusculum/Linwood neighborhoods. So it should be both energizing and fun! Come on down to the Crossing at the Salem Road Campus if you want to lend some muscle tonight.

The launch of the new campus is still a few weeks off - September 27th. Between now and then we plan to have one Sunday in which we go down to set everything up (Sept. 6), one Sunday that both campuses are together again to pray over the launch team (Sept. 13), one Sunday that will serve as a practice (Sept. 20), and then it's time to launch! Those dates have always loomed way off in the distance. We get more excited and humbled as each day draws us closer.

Parkside (BOTH campuses) has a big, God-sized challenge ahead of ourselves. Months and years of praying, seeking God's will, and preparation have led us to this point...let's see what God brings in the next few weeks, months and years.

Monday, July 6, 2009

River Campus Launch Team Meetings

God has called us to a big job in launching the River Campus on Sept. 27th of this year. It's going to take quite a few people who are willing to step up to the opportunities that God has given us. Pray about being a part of the launch team. You'll be an instrumental tool (or an instrumentally instrumental instrument) that God uses to lead new people in a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ...and He'll produce life-change in you in the process. Join George for one of the two upcoming launch team information meetings. No commitments...just info. Make time and check it out.

Wednesday, July 8th at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 12th during 2nd service

Both meetings will be here at the Salem Rd Campus. See you there!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


So people often say something about God opening and closing doors with regard to making decisions. Sometimes I wonder whether or not God "closes a door" for us not because His answer is no but because we're letting out the air conditioning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I've often heard it said that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. I agree. It should be that way. But I sometimes see that the adage translates into, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you coddle."

Being cared for and being coddled may start with the same letter but that's about where the similarities end. In my opinion, it is much more caring for someone to make a hard, gut-wrenching decision to have a difficult conversation with me as their friend than to either ignore my brokenness or say something about me behind my back. In fact, many of the times that the Kingdom have been most palpable to me have been those times when in authenticity a difficult conversation takes place.

It is much easier for us to not confront. It is much easier to take the easy way...hence the obvious name. It evokes much less stress to maintain the status quo or equilibrium. But my times of growth and life-change (those times when I'm being changed by God to look more like His Son) usually don't happen in these contexts. Like muscles being torn during a good work out, my life change and growth usually happens with a tearing. [As a side note, that usually isn't a tearing of my brain tissues alone but rather a tearing of my ego, expectations, or heart in some way.]

So I want to know that people care about me before I care about how much they know...I really do. But I also want that caring to be the right kind of caring. Not coddling. Not allowing me to remain as I am. Rather, I want to be stretched by the kind of love that doesn't leave well-enough alone. Then I'll know how much they care and, probably, how much they know at the same time.

So does that make sense to you? Do you ever think the same way? Does my thinking need to be challenged? Because I want to lead in this same way. So it'd be good to know what you think, too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Leadership Paradoxes

Leadership is difficult. That probably isn't enlightening to you.

As a leader I often find myself questioning my own decisions and directions. (And, authentically, I wonder if other leaders do the same or if they have some God-given, self-assuredness that I'm lacking.) And I've often heard it said that if you think you're leading people someplace but turn around to see no one following, then you're simply taking a walk.

But perhaps that doesn't mean that you don't know where you're going or that it is the wrong someplace. Perhaps it is just that people don't want to follow. Or, likely, it is that we haven't help them to see and take the appropriate steps to be able to follow.

We talk about determining our next steps here at Parkside a lot. I hope God gives me more clarity everyday in my own next steps and in discerning next steps for those who are on this Journey with me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We're talking more these days about a discipleship path that will help people in their journey. People use language that can be an indicator of where they are in their discipleship. Jesus himself said that "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." James also talked about the dangers of the tongue and that we (as Christ-followers) should be quicker to listen than to speak.

As a leader, it is a challenge to develop that skill set. Not just knowing what to do with what people say...but being quiet long enough to let them say anything at all. I like to be heard. I like to have the last word. Sometimes, I like the's the devilish thing that still needs to be redeemed in me.

It's also a lack of love. It is much more loving and anti-egocentric to let someone else speak while I listen. I'm trying to let the Holy Spirit work on that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hope for Me

Our Lifegroup began meeting again last night after a two week Easter break. We talked about Acts 1 -- the ascension of Jesus. I told the story last night (we're using storying in our group...ask me about it if you're unfamiliar) and, as a result, I noticed the word Kingdom used twice.

Over the 40 days that Jesus was with them after He rose from the dead the Bible says He talked to them about the Kingdom. Then, the disciples turn right around and ask if Jesus was about to institute the earthly, Israelite kingdom they had all been expecting.

It's easy to sit here 2000 years later (and having read the end of the book) and wonder how those guys missed the point. Jesus spent three years plus 40 days trying to shift their thinking...and obviously He still hadn't broken through.

But for me the point isn't so much the apostles who still didn't get it. The point, and the hope, is that just as Jesus was exceedingly patient with those first followers who were slow to grasp the power and reality of the Kingdom, He will be equally patient with me as a follower today going through those identical struggles.

I don't understand His patience. But I'm grateful for it then and now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Day

I often wonder how things got started. Today is an example. Who thought of April Fool's Day? Why? When? Etc., etc.

So, of course, I snopes-ed. Perhaps it has something to do with changing to a Gregorian calendar (and you thought they were just into chanting). Or it may have something to do with the Vernal Equinox, which sounds like an undesirable disease to me.

Whatever the origin, we've taken it upon ourselves on days like today to play jokes on those closest to us. So, enjoy your day and watch out for others enjoying theirs.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Yesterday I had to make a tough decision about doing too much...or, rather, not doing too much. That's difficult for me. I'm a person who likes control. Other people might say "control freak" but I don't have to because I'm typing...I'm in control...and I can call it whatever I want.

I'm realizing more and more that I need margin in my life. I don't always allow for it. In fact, in the few posts I've put on here this year you can probably see that as a theme if you look hard enough. But it isn't about my time management. It's about my relationship with God.

As a Christ-follower I talk about Jesus being lord of my life, the one who is in control. But while I acknowledge that in my cranium I'm pretty sure it isn't in my character and actions. Margin is less about my time management and more about Who I allow to manage my time. And contrary to popular business books, the correct answer shouldn't be "me".

So I made a tough choice yesterday to not do something. It was hard. But it was growth. If nothing else, it was growth in my image-consciousness (another achilles heel) by having to acknowledge that what "they" think or say isn't the issue. Obedience and those are issues.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Disciples Who Make Disciples

If there is one thing that is different so far this year within our ministry staff at Parkside, it is our focus and intensity in discussing how we make disciples who make disciples. We've long recognized (or, at least, questioned) how well we've truly been engaged in making disciples. But lately we've been challenged with an addendum to the question: how do we make disciples who make disciples.

I am convinced by looking at Jesus' model that making a disciple wasn't His ultimate objective. The role of Jesus' disciples was to go and make other disciples...not simply to become a disciple of Jesus unto themselves. It's a small shift in language but a huge shift in impact.

Jesus made disciples who made disciples and so on through one simple method embodied in lots of different ways: relationships. Jesus said that the most important commandment had two parts: love God and love others (in Matthew 22). We must be in a relationship with God and we must be in relationship with others. Not just any relationship, mind you. An intentional relationship with others that helps us grow in our life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our Reset Group has been an amazing experience so far. We collect as a group of people who are broad in age, life experiences, and places on our Journey. We range from not having a relationship with Jesus at all to having walked with Him for years. But it is awesome to continue to be on the Journey together.

In relationship.

Intentional relationships that are helping us become disciples...who make disciples.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Idaho Time

Andy, George, and I are in Idaho right now. We're here for a boot camp that will help us in the new campus in Columbia Tusculum and also stretch our thinking about the Kingdom. It's been a good day...the first of an extended stay here. Right now I'm really feeling the time difference. I've been awake about 20 hours and it's only 8:55 p.m. Rest is coming soon, though. In fact, I pretty sure I'm sleeping with my eyes open right now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Snow Day

For most of you reading this post you're surrounded by at least 8 inches of snow (with some ice layered in the middle). It's a level 3 snow emergency so you can't do much...few errands, few meetings, few schedules. Just unplanned, unanticipated (seriously, it was unanticipated...when do you ever believe the forecasts on TV?) time off.

When God prescribed time off each week he knew what He was doing...imagine that. And I don't believe that the New Testament trumps the responsibility we have to practice a Sabbath. Arguably Sunday isn't the Sabbath...I'll give you that. But I believe completely that God wants each of us to take some time to rest and relax. Days like today just remind me of that. As I look ahead and feel the pressure of our Ministers/Elders Retreat this weekend and 11-day trip to Idaho after that, it reminds me that time off and Sabbath rest is a test of whether or not I truly trust that God can take care of things without my help and my time. Pretty sure He can. But I need to be reminded.

So we'll see what gets finished...and what doesn't. But when the girls get up from their nap I'm going to enjoy them playing outside in their first real snow. Do the same. Rest. That's an order...well, a command(ment) anyway.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year

Now that the holiday season has passed I find myself looking down the barrel of 2009. I get very excited as I look ahead at the opportunities God is putting in front of us this next year. From launching a new campus to taking further strategic steps with our adopted people group, 2009 seems to be shaping up for a great adventure.

So what about you? Does any part of 2009 especially scare or excite you? It doesn't have to be anything necessarily related to Parkside. Are you anxious or eager about this upcoming year?