What makes your church move?

  " It can’t be done." That’s what they told John Ericsson when he first began working on a new way to propel boats over the water in 1835. Boats had moved on wind for centuries, and lately steam powered paddle boats had taken over.  Not many saw the need for Ericsson’s invention, a screw turned propeller.  And even fewer than that believed that it would work on large boats.   By 1839 Ericsson had come a long way with his new invention, and soon gained fame as the designer of the US Navy’s first screw propelled warship, the USS Princeton. It defied belief that the Princeton could beat other ships in a race.  At over 160 feet long it seemed incredible that such a small propeller could move that fast.  Now almost every boat from little fishing dinghies with trolling motors, big fancy bass boats, Cruise ships, and battleships all are propelled the same way. The internal engine turns the rods which in turn moves the propeller, and that motion moves the boat almost effortlessly ac

Stop living for the moment

  “A date that will live in infamy forever. “ That’s how President Roosevelt described the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor to the US Congress and to millions more on the radio one day after the attack. Today, long after almost all those involved have passed on, the words of FDR have proven to be true. That moment shaped countries, economies, and the lives of millions of people. The events of that date didn’t just change life for those on the base, but for people all over the world.  Much of our study of history is made up of these events, these dates and places that impact world history.  They have names like “the shot heard around the world” or “Custer’s Last Stand,” or the simple “9/11”. Going back to World War II, events like V-Day or D-Day are still remembered and celebrated long after most of the participants have passed. For centuries students have had to memorize names, places, and dates of the most famous events in history.  There’s something about these types of events that dr

Farming in tainted soil

  Recently the EPA announced a plan to find and counteract what they called PFAS, or “forever chemicals. “ These are often by products of industrial processes, and so far scientists have found them everywhere they have looked.  These synthetic chemicals “ glide through air and water with ease, evade all natural processes of decay, and inflict debilitating injuries even at exceedingly low levels of exposure. “ These chemicals can be traced back to big companies and even governments, but for decades most of them turned a blind eye to the problem.  Finally the EPA has a plan to address the problem, but at this stage it feels impossible to overcome.   Almost everything in our world is tainted with these chemicals, and we won’t know the final results for a long time.   These spills can happen or by accident, like a an oil spill or nuclear accident.  Everything that is touched by those chemicals is changed forever.  There are few things that have the power to change everything they touch.  B

Waiting for things to get back to normal

“Maybe you just have a good baby.” Those were the words the doctor said to us as we took our first child back for her month checkup. I asked him what was wrong with her, because I anticipated having a baby in the house to be harder than it was.   All we had heard about was babies with colic, or sleep problems, or having trouble feeding.   Our first born slept through the night the first night at hospital, didn’t cry that much, and was a delight to be around. It was still a lot of work of course. But honestly I anticipated it being harder than this.   So he told me that perhaps we just had a good baby.   I remember leaving the hospital thinking “I must just be really good at this.” I assumed I was simply crushing this first time father thing, and that’s why the baby was so good. Then after our second child was born I found out that wasn’t the truth. This time I anticipated things differently than the first time around.   I thought they would be like they were before, but this child crie

Why do we need rest?

The last two weeks have been crazy at our house. And the next two weeks look like they will be too. But today is Sunday. The day that we stop and rest as God has commanded us. Why do we have to rest? So much of God’s creation continues in motion without a rest. The sun rises every day and never gets a break. The flowing river never stops to catch it’s breath.The waves beat on the shore without ceasing. God did not command the flowers to sleep, or the animals to lay down and rest. But he did for man. Why is that? The rest that God prescribes us is not just a physical rest, but a spiritual and emotional rest. You might be able to physically keep going today, to accomplish whatever you need to do. But God has designed us in such a way that we need rest. Not just rest for our bodies, but rest for our hearts and minds. We were refresh our bodies by ceasing from work. And we refresh our minds and hearts by worshiping God. This is the way God has made us. And we are to do this worship

Reflection over 1,000 sermons, or 10 years at FBC Tishomingo

It was sometime in the spring of 2011 that I received a phone call from the search committee at FBC Tishomingo, wondering if I would be able to come down and speak with them. I replied that I would be glad to, right as soon as I figured out where Tishomingo was.  Even after spending most of my life in Oklahoma, I don't think I had ever been here before. I found that Tishomingo was not on the way to anywhere, and that you had to be going here to get here. I guess that's why once I came I just decided to stay.   I came in view of call and my first official Sunday was Easter, April 24, 2011.   God has been good to me and my family and blessed our time here immensely.  I didn't know how hard it would be to stay here this long, and I didn't know how much of a blessing it would be either.  It's only by God's grace that I have been able to stay here and continue to minister.  As I reflected over the last 10 years I also put together a few statistics about my time here.

Only the impeded river sings

  “Just listen.” That was some of the wise advice I got from an older pastor about talking to someone who was suffering.  No matter if it is sickness, tragedy, trials, or worse, no one really feels like listening when they are facing tough times. That’s what makes the words from Peter stand out at the end of 1 Peter 4 as he begins to close his letter.  He tells his readers, and by extension us, to “not be surprised” when suffering comes. We spend most of our lives trying to avoid suffering, even though the pages of the Bible clearly teach that suffering will come to all of us. As a pastor, I can’t imagine sitting with someone in the hospital and telling them as they face a tragedy “well don’t be surprised.”  It feels callous at best, but the words of Peter stand as a stark reminder to us that no one will escape suffering. Right now as you read this you are probably facing difficulties of some kind.  Thankfully the Bible also teaches that the suffering we face on earth produces good in

Holy Mornings

Sunday morning is one of the most sacred moments of the week for me. Not just when we gather to worship. Although I love that of course. But I’ve also come to love so much the quiet moments when Sunday first starts. I walk through an empty church, turn the lights on, adjust the thermostat. I look at the pews and anticipate who will be here. I look at the empty spots of the people who have already passed on and are worshipping in glory today. The click of the lock, silent footsteps in the sanctuary, the hum of the lights as they warm up. Looking at the old pictures we put up of people who worship here decades ago. All of that has become so special to me. Each Sunday I wait in eager anticipation to see what God is going to do that week. I pray for people I hope to see here this morning. I pray that God would bring salvation, that God would restore marriages, bring wayward children back home, that God would bring life where it seems there is none. The past year has really taught me not

How Long Will Your Steps Last?

  Yesterday morning in the early hours at church I walked through some grass and left my foot prints in the dew. For a while someone could tell I had been there, but before long the sun came up and erased all evidence of me being there. As my footprints faded I realized that for most of us the legacies will leave behind us fade quickly like the dew. In a few generations most of the memories of us will fade except in a few family members. Like dew evaporates so does our memory of other people. But there is one way to make sure something we does lasts. By spending our lives on eternal things, Godly things, then we can be sure our work won’t fade. It’s an old saying but full of truth. “Only one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

The Gifts of God

  Almost every Sunday morning I start the day by driving through our local refuge. There’s some thing about the stillness and beauty of God’s nature that helps get my heart and mind in the right place to be with God’s people. Today several of the roads around the refuge were closed because of flooding from heavy rain the last week. The rains always remind me that we cannot predict God‘s goodness to us. We might have a pretty good idea, especially now with our advanced technology, of when the rain will come. But there’s still so much uncertainty about exactly where and how much rain will fall. In the same way we might generally think that if we live in active certain way that God will be good to us. But there are times in our life that God‘s rain falls on us, in times in ways we never saw coming. His goodness and mercy comes to us, even when we don’t deserve it. The Bible promises that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. God continually gives us gifts that we do not deserve, g

A Review of The Multi-Directional Leader, by Trevin Wax

  Every pastor probably knows the feeling of facing attacks from all sides.  In our current political and religious climate it seems like extremes are more popular than ever.  In his new book " The Multi-Directional Leader" Trevin Wax demonstrates that this is precisely why the church needs leaders who are willing and able to lead on multiple fronts at the same time.  Wax argues that pastors and church leaders shouldn't only guard from the right or the left side of the spectrum, but be on the constant lookout for any belief that takes us away from the Gospel. These threats can come from within the church just as well as outside the church, so we need leadership that consistently stands for the truth, no matter which side it offends. Simply put, Wax defines multi-directional leadership as "the ability to recognize and oppose threats from multiple directions."  Each of those words in that definition are key to his understanding of the task before church leaders a

Historical Theology for the Church, Edited by Duesing and Finn

Historical Theology is not a new field of study by any stretch. Almost ever since the beginning of the church pastors and leaders have been learning from those who came before them.  In their new book to an old field, editors Jason Duesing and Nathan Finn make a substantial contribution to those who want to learn from the faithful before us.  " Historical Theology for the Church " published by B&H Academic is a needed and helpful resource for church leaders of all types. In each chapter a different author follows an area of study in theology, as it relates to that time and location. The book is broken up into four units, detailing different areas of theology in the Patristic Era, Medieval Era, Reformation Era, and the Modern Era.  Within those era's the chapters focus on different areas like the Trinity, the Church, Salvation, and Scripture.   As a local church pastor, I found this book helpful as it traced the developments of different schools of thought in the churc