Thursday, February 28, 2008

Exhilarating Misery

Today, I thought it would be a good idea to go for a bike ride since my knee has been bothering me so much recently. Sure it was 22 degrees and we had just gotten 5 inches of snow, but that would just make it more fun, right? Needless to say, I was cold!

I biked 9 miles on all paved rail-trail riding Becky's mountain bike. I was fine for the first 4 miles, but after that I was cold and hurting in the seat area if you know what I mean. I am in decent running shape, but I learned today that I am in poor bike shape. I have a lot of work to do get get up to speed on my bike. It makes sense though why my knees have been hurting when I think how weak my leg muscles must be. So now I have a new goal in addition to my running PR's; I must also get into bike shape and I think that will help my overall running goals as well.

Anyway, today when I got done with the 9 miles (I think I would have rather run it), I was so glad to see my van (I turned the heat on immediately because my feet were wet and so cold. They were like big ice cubes.). And you should have seen the bike when I was done. It was hilarious! There was ice everywhere and some of it was so thick that I could not break it or knock it off. All in all, it was a pretty miserable experience except for the fact that exercise is exhilarating in and off itself and also the fact that I just love to do absolutely crazy things like that. When I got home, I told Becky to never let me do that again and ten minutes later I was talking about doing it again the next time it snowed. Go figure!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Short Sermon from Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins was an amazing man. If you have never heard of him, you should Google him and read a little about his life. I know that you know some of his music. He wrote Awesome God and Step by Step. He has always been an inspiration to me and still is. He was again an inspiration to me this morning when I found this clip from an old concert that he did. Carve out 10 minutes in your day and watch it. It is so good, filled with truth, and convicting. Don't be too busy to be impacted by this great man of God. Let me know what you think of the short message that Rich delivers.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

What has captured you heart more than anything else in the world. Need a hint? Just look at your checkbook and there you will see the things that are most important to you. What vision/mission are you living for? So many people who call themselves Christians invest their money into their own little kingdom. This is in direct opposition to the Bible. God says in Matthew 6 that where your treasure is that is where your heart is and goes on to say that it is impossible for people to serve God and at the same time serve money or stuff. Too many "Christians" ignore this, as well as hundreds of other biblical references to how we are to live in relation to money, by claiming not to serve money. But once we take a peak at our checkbooks and credit card statements, we realize we are spending way more on our kingdom than on God's Kingdom. We are living for stuff and pleasure instead of living to build His Kingdom.

As Christians, God has called us to invest in His Kingdom vision. This broad call tells us to fund organizations that place a high priority on global evangelization as well as feeding the poor and eradicating poverty. (Be careful to give to reputable, holy organizations and not to hucksters who are living high on the dollars of those they schmooze.)

As members of a local body of Christ with a specific vision, God calls us to fund the work that we believe in and that we are a part of. For the individuals who believe in what Crossroads Church is doing, it is their responsibility to fund that/our specific vision. I just read a quote from a Mark Driscol book in relation to this very idea. He said, "For our people to own our mission, they must also own our expenses!" I thought that was a blunt way of saying it, but it is very good. If people consider themselves members of a church and buy into the vision of that church, it is holy and helpful to fund that church and that churches mission/vision.

If Christians would really get serious about God's Kingdom, money would never be an issue in churches or in organizations that are set up to evangelize and help the poor. What are we afraid of. Why are we clinging to the things of this world? Do we not believe Matt 6:33? Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (stuff that we need) will be given to you as well. Maybe we are just selfish and are afraid that God will not give us our wants if we begin to fund His Kingdom.

If you want to read more about this, go get The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. Read it with an open heart and mind. It will transform your life. It will be the best, most eternal $10 you will ever spend if you read it and "get it".

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Snowy Return Run

I have taken a week off from running trying to heal my knee up a bit. No such good fortune. I ran 33:23 today which is in the neighborhood of 4 miles and my knee is really hurting tonight. I have got to figure this out. Running is so therapeutic and important to me.

The knee never really hurt until after my shower so the run itself was exhilarating. 4 miles is short compared to what I have been running recently, but still a great stretch of the legs as I was trying to take it somewhat easy. Anyway, a great run in the snow flurries turned my blah morning into a major spiritual high. I love how God speaks to me and what He does in me on my runs (I told you running was important to me - please pray for my knee). I listened to an Erwin McManus sermon and it was just what I needed. I started the run not really wanting to run and ended weeping over the sin and lostness of Morgantown. Talk about a big attitude change. That would have never happened sitting on my couch watching TV!

Home Again

It is so good to be home. Leaving my three girls was hard to do, but coming home to see them was so sweet.

I was not able to access my blog at the end of day two of the road trip and I was so tired at the end of day three when I got home that blogging didn't even show up on my radar screen. Days two and three were great - lots of driving, but great!

Day two was so encouraging as we met with CPC (Churches Planting Churches) in Sparta, TN. We got to hear what God was doing in all the other church plants as well as hear about a new work in Seymour, TN. It was also just great meeting with and praying with like-minded pastors who are all in this thing together. I also connected with an old college buddy for dinner that night. I had not spoken to Bob in 14 years. It was great to see him and find out all that God had done in his life as well as others that I knew during my freshman year at UTM (Univ. of TN at Martin). Day closed out by crashing at J.R. and Susan's house in Kingsport, TN. It was so good to see them again. They have been friends of mine and my mom and dad's for more than 20 years. It was wonderful visiting with them.

Day three started off with more visiting with J.R. and Susan (Thanks you guys for everything) and then on to Cracker Barrel to have breakfast with Sherree, John, and Judah (my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew). That was a good time as well as it always is with Sherree. Then we hit the road again headed for home (Take me home country road to the place I belong, mountain momma, WV, take me home country road - Oh sorry! I just love calling WV home!). It was a great drive with Ian and Donald as we laughed and spurred each other on in our walks with God. It was also great as Ian crawled in the back seat and opened his guitar case and we did some worship planning and some worship itself. It was a great time and I was thoroughly encouraged. I was really glad that Ian and Donald went along with me. Thanks guys!

As great as the trip was, it sure is good to be home and I really look forward to being at Crossroads tomorrow!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Road Trip Day 1

Today has been a good day although it started out a little shakey. When I woke up and checked the weather, there was snow warnings all along our morning WV route. I didn't want to get into bad weather so I was questioning whether or not to postpone our little ministry partner road trip. After some inner debate, I decided to make a go off it. We did have snowy roads for about 60 miles and I had to put the trusty Sidekick into 4-wheel drive. That gave extra confidence and I never slipped and even made pretty good time.

The drive with Ian and Donald was very fun and entertaining. Needless to say, I never had to worry about falling asleep. Sometimes we had great spiritual conversations and other times we just got slap silly and laughed alot.

The visit with Hillcrest was great! I always love the encouragement that I recieve from being with my Hillcrest family. They are an inspiration and they rock! Spending time at IHOP with Pastor Dave, Doug J. I and Doug J. II (some Hillcrest Leadership) was especially entertaining and encouraging. Those guys are fun and helpful to my walk with Jesus. It was a great time and I think the staff at the Morristown IHOP thought we would never leave.

It's late (12:20 AM) and we need to get to bed so that we can be prepared for another great ministry partner road trip day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thank God for Ministry Partners

I will be out of town for the next three days as I roll on down to TN to spend some time with and report to two of Crossroads ministry partners. Words can't really describe how thankful I am for all our ministry partners but these two church groups in particular. CPC (Churches Planting Churches) based in Cookeville, TN have been such an awesome blessing since the inception of Crossroads. I can't wait to visit with all the pastors and planters that make up this group. It will be a great time of encouragement on Thursday. Where would we be without Hillcrest Baptist Church in Morristown, TN. They have been on board with the Crossroads mission since about 6 months after we started. God sent them along at the perfect time and they have been such a blessing over the past year. It will be great to be with them on Weds. night. I will blog about my trip along the way as I have the opportunity.

Road Trip !!!!!!!!!!!!! Ian and Donald are going with me. Should be a very entertaining drive!

Monday, February 18, 2008

One Sick Kid

Anna is so sick! I can hardly think of anything worse than having a sick 2 year old. She is so pitiful and it is so hard to watch her feeling so bad. It makes it worse when you know that you can't really do anything about it. Nights are especially stressful when she has such a hard time sleeping. My heart goes out to Anna and I am so tired from ineffective rest/sleep.

In light of Anna's sickness, I must say that Becky is so amazing. She is the best wife and mother. In this hard situation with Anna being so sick, Becky especially shines. God has truly blessed me with an incredible wife and has blessed two little girls with an incredible mother.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Run Canceled

Well today is a regularly scheduled long run, but I am not going out on the trail today. My left knee has been bothering me and yesterday my neck and shoulders started really hurting bad. I don't know what it is, but something is wrong. This is rare for me. After 6 years of running, I have had very little pain and injury.

I know that I am still a young man at 34, but my body does not respond to stress and injury like it did when I was 24. Becky hates it when I talk like I am getting old. She says I am not even close to old and I know she is right, but I also know my body is not 24. So I am going to take this Saturday off and see if I can get my neck and knee at least a little better. Besides I need to spend some extra time with the family since I will be out of town for three days next week.

I hate not running, but I think I hate having pain or problems that I can't control even worse. You think I have control issues? It drives me nuts that my neck hurts. I feel like less of a man if I have a problem that I can't solve. I guess I need to turn that over to Jesus , huh? He needs to be in control, not me. Maybe that is what He is trying to teach me through this slight pain (and I mean slight - I know that there are millions hurting worse than me today). Man, I love blogging. It really helps me learn and think through things.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Where's God?

"Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.'" Genesis 28:16

How often is this true of us? God's presence is right with us all the time and we act like He is confined to the church building. I wonder how different our lives would be if we truly understood that "the LORD is in this place" in every moment and place of our lives. He is here and He is always watching us. Wow, that is exciting and scary, huh?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Muddy Trail

Today was my first day running since last Saturday. I ran 8 miles last Saturday and my left knee hurt me for about 3 days so I thought I'd better have a little more down time for knee recouperation. I think I need to run more often and run less miles. That is what I am going to try for the next few weeks. It will be difficult, though, to run more days.

Today's run was a great one! I went 5 miles in 40:17 in a very beautiful sunny 34 degrees. The trail that I ran on was very wet and muddy because of all the recent rain and snow. You should have seen the back of my tights when I got done. I was covered in a sandy mud from the bottoms of my shoes to right above my knees. It was so cool!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Being a Preacher II

"Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches." 2 Corinthians 11:28

It struck me again this morning as I was reading 2 Corinthians 11 just how much I love and agonize over the people who make up Crossroads church. In this chapter, Paul was talking about all the external persecution he faced by being a minister of the gospel of Jesus. Then he goes on to say that in addition to that, he has the internal pressure of thinking about and caring about the condition of the churches/Christians that he has helped establish.

I cannot understand his external persecutions (thank goodness), but I certainly do identify with this verse. I daily feel the pressure upon me of concern for Crossroads Church and all the lives that that involves. I hurt when they hurt. I rejoice when they rejoice. I stress about their disobedience and sin because I want so badly for them to experience the fullness of right relationship with God. I take very serious the admonition to present all those under my leadership as a spotless bride to Jesus. The joy and sorrow that comes from this calling is great. I am thankful to God for the blessing of being a pastor and secifically to being the pastor of Crosroads Church in Morgantown WV. The intensity that I feel for and pray for each member of Crossrads is huge.

If you consider Crossroads Church home, then know you are loved and prayed for by your pastor even when you don't think so maybe especially when you don't think so.

My life is intrensically intertwined with the body of Christ that is Crossroads Church. I cannot get away from it - ever - nor do I want to. The joy of responsibility applies to me as a pastor almost as much as it applies to me as a husband and father.

Thank you God for Crossroads Church and the "daily pressure" of it!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Pressing On

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
1 Corinthians 9:24-26

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

I ran 8 miles this afternoon in 1hour 10 minutes and 40 seconds with a final mile in 7:40. It was the longest run I have been on since I ran a half-marathon in April of 2004. I felt good for the accomplisment but a my knees were a little weak and my legs were a little bit wobbly. I am very tired tonight.

At one point around mile 6, I was at a very straight place in the rail trail and I could see a far distance in front of me and I thought of how tired my legs were and I thought of these two verses. I thought about how easy it would be to stop two miles short of my goal and still view six miles as an accomplishment and a good workout, but I would not have finished what I set out to do. Stopping would have been very easy to rationalize - maybe just walking for a little bit and getting a good rest before continuing on, but no, I wanted to press on and finish like I set out to and like I intended to from the beginning.

It is no wonder that the Apostle Paul used the example of running to describe our journey with Jesus. Walking with Jesus is not easy. It is sometimes very hard to go on. Sometimes it is hard to trust in what we can't see especially in the difficult times. Sometimes the lure of sin is so great and obedience to God is so hard. He never said it would be easy, He just promised to take every step with us.

Whatever you are going through right now, persevere! Stay strong! Even though your legs are wobbly, press on! Have faith! Be obedient! The goal is going to be excedeingly wonderful - far better than an 8 mile running accomplishment. This journey with Jesus is an endurance event. Persevere and finish well. Our great King will be waiting for you at the finish line.

Friday, February 8, 2008

3 Types of Church Goers

Check out Mark Driscoll's take on the different types of church goers from his book Confessions of a Reformission Rev. See if you recognize yourself in one of these three descriptions.

"Observers were happy to do and give nothing but just came to watch the show each week, not unlike people who hit the brakes when driving past a nasty car wreck to gaze and grin. Consumers likewise gave and did nothing but were always wanting more and making demands for more goods and services from me (the pastor). Participants were the handful of people who had bought into the idea of the church being a missionary to our city. They came to church seeking a way to serve a greater mission and were enormously encouraging."

I think these three definitions of church goers rings true in just about every church. If you go to church, try to see which one you are and maybe that recognition will help move you to being a participant if you arn't already.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Just a Little Bit Faster

Well, I certainly wasn't in shorts today as I logged a quick 5 miles. After a major tempreture change today, I was back to running in the 30's with a little bit of snow.

I pushed really hard today in an effort to get a little bit faster. I did the 5 miles in a total time of 39:34. I ran each of the first 4 miles in exactly 8:05 and the final fifth mile in 7:14. Sweet! I think that is the fastest final mile that I have run in a long time. I feel good but tired (legs were a little wobbly for a couple of hours afterward). I am also really looking forward to my long run on Sat. I am not as fast as I want to be, but I am finally making strides to get there.

The Gift of Responsibility

I awoke this morning as I do every morning to the loud sound that only a two year old and a four year old can make. It has been a long week because Brannon and Anna have both been sick and the nights have been rough. I sat up with Brannon till 3 AM two nights this week and the rest of the nights were majorly interrupted. Needless to say, I was very tired yesterday and wanted to sleep late today.

This morning, I found myself thinking what my life would be like with no kids to wake me up every morning. I could sleep late. Becky and I could go do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We would have alot more money freed up to do with as we pleased. Those thoughts were fleeting because I was immediately blown away by the joy in my life because of my two sweet little girls. As I type this, Brannon is sitting at my feet "reading". She just looked up at me and said, "I love you Daddy." I can't imagine my life without the wonderful responsibility of being Daddy.

As my tired brain contemplated this thought, I went ahead and took it one step further. What would my life be like without Becky? Talk about freedom! I could have all my time and all my money to myself. I would not have to answer to anybody about where I am or what time I would be home, etc. That would be terrible! I realized this morning as I have many other times over the years that the greatest joy and priviledge in my life comes from the things that God has given me responsibility over.

My life is so rich and full because of my three girls. I cannot imagine my life without responsibility. It is the greatest place to be. Thank you God for the responsibility you have given me! Help me to be a great steward of the lives you have put under my charge. May I be faithful in loving and caring for them as You love and care for me.

Gotta go now! Dora the Explorer is on and I promised Brannon I would watch it with her. Oh well, my time is not my own. Thanks God!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Foggy 5

5 miles this evening in 41:32. The tempreture was 58 degrees so I was able to wear shorts which is always nice. It was not a bad run, but it didn't feel as fluid as I like to feel when I run and my last mile was 7:42 (ashamed to say). I think the thing that slowed me down a bit was the fried chicken and fries that I had for lunch. I should have made a healthier choice! The best part of the run today was the sermon by Andy Stanley that I listened to. It is so good to pour Godly stuff into your brain. You will become that which you pursue!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Piper on the Prosperity Gospel

This is a must see! It really makes you think just how much you love God just for who He is instead of what He can do for you.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

New Shoes!

God provided the means for me to get some new running shoes this week. It was great timing too because my old ones had over 350 miles on them and were pretty broken down. I took the week off because my last run banged me up a bit. I think my old shoes had a little to do with the hurting foot and knee.

The shoes felt great and the run was a good one. It was 32 degrees but the sun was out and I had a good worship time as I listened to an entire Chris Tomlin CD. I did not measure my distance today, but I ran for 31:57 with a final mile in 7:29.

I am so grateful to God for all the amazing blessings in my life! Thank you God for the new shoes. Thank you God for the ability to run. Thank you God that I don't go to bed hungry and that I have a bed to go to bed in. Thank you for Becky, Brannon, and Anna. What a blessing!Thank you for Jesus, the cross, and the forgiveness of my sin. Thank you for calling me into relationship with You.

Your goodness to me is mind-blowing! I owe you my life, Jesus!

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Gaze of God

The gaze of God is an extordinary thing. If we acknowledge the gaze of God, it would radically alter our lives in every area.

The gaze of God exposes sin and unrighteousness. It also is the gaze of love and acceptance. The gaze of God penetrates all actions, words, thoughts, and motives. Edward T. Welch says in his book When People are Big and God is Small, "God's gaze transforms. It will expel the fear of man and be a blessing for all people."

God has taught me so much and convicted me of so much over the past few weeks as I have read this book. He has shown me that I live more under the gaze of others than under His gaze. God has revealed to me that a major problem in Christian's lives today is the fear of man. We are so worried about what others think of us. We live our lives like leaky paper cups who constantly need to be filled by the love and affirmation of others instead of living our lives under the holy gaze of God and allowing His purposes for us be all that we "need." If I/we lived under the fear of God, we would not need man. We would be freed to love like God intends us to. To quote Welch again, if we lived under the fear of God and not man, "we would love people more and need them less."

Living under the gaze of God would truly free us up to walk and live in the holiness of God; to walk according to His purposes for our lives free from sin, selfishness, and neediness.

I don't want my felt needs to determine how I live my life, I want to be controlled by the Holy Spirit of God as I live under His holy gaze!