Saturday, November 24, 2007

me and God.....

A question has arisen lately asking people why they go to church and what made them choose the one they attend.

Well, grab yourself some chocolate, buckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride…..

I’ve been going to church since I was two weeks old. My mother played the piano and sang in the choir, my father led the worship music and my grandfather was the pastor. In my family, once you are too old for the nursery, you’re in church. My brother, my cousins and I all sat in the second pew so mom could keep an eye on us (the front pew was for people who came forward during the invitation). Knowing that the entire congregation was behind us and possibly watching, we tried to look as cool as we could. It was your typical small town Southern Baptist church.

My grandfather retired from the ministry and when I was five years old, he passed away. When I was six, my parents divorced and my mom remarried when I was eight. So up until the age of eight, my entire world consisted of our small neighborhood and our little church. We stayed at that church even after grandpa died and after dad left because it was our church “home”.

My step-dad was a construction engineer, so we moved a lot. Every few years, once the particular construction job was finished, we would pack up and move to the next one. Every place we moved, we would find a new church “home”. But it was never the same. I met a lot of interesting people and lived in some nice places and made some new friends, but I never experienced the feeling of “home”. It is hard to put down roots when you know you will move away in another year or two.

It has been said that you can’t go home again. That is especially true if you hadn’t actually had a place you could call “home”. My parents moved twice while I was away at college so when I went home for the holidays I felt more like a guest in someone else’s house.

Growing up this way I had to learn a few things for myself.
One: Home is where you hang your heart. You have no idea how many lives you may touch every day, so make the most out of where God puts you (after all, He’s the one in control, right?). A house isn’t a home without the people.
Two: Church is about people and has nothing to do with the building or the name on the sign out front. In just about all of the different places I’ve lived, I’ve been approached by someone who said, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” I’ve been both flattered and ashamed at those times. Flattered because someone thought they saw Christ in me enough to ask, and ashamed because if they really knew me deep inside, would they still bother to ask? I’ve found that the children of the Most High God seem to be drawn to each other. I hope I am never regarded by anyone as, “Oh, he’s a Christian? Gee, I never would have known.”
The biggest testimony to your faith is YOU, and how you live your life every day (how you treat others).
Three: God loves me and has a plan for my life. That statement is so easy to make and yet so easily confusing to so many people. God loves me, I get that. But He has a plan for my life? Really? How do I know what that is? The truth to that is that you may never actually realize it. Unless of course, you take the time to examine your life and try to figure it out. To me, that just isn’t important. I know that a lot of people, pastors included, will disagree with me on this and that’s okay. (If you do know God's purpose for you, then great. If not, don't sweat it). I just don’t see the point in wasting my time trying to figure out what God’s plan is for my life. My reason for this is quite simple.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

“For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:15-16)

Many, many years ago I realized I was living my life for me and not for God. Each time I felt God calling me to serve Him in some way, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t do it. Believe me, I came up with some really great reasons why I couldn’t possibly be the right one for the task. While at a Men’s Retreat one weekend, I realized I had been missing out on so many blessings. A wise man once told me that, “Excuses only sound good to those who make them.”

I decided right then to do things differently. One on one with God, I told Him, “My answer is ‘Yes’, now what’s the question?” My life has never been the same. Wherever He leads me, I will go. Whatever He calls me to do, I will do.

Having said all that, you should know that I had not felt I was “home” until I moved here. I had never been to Indiana before, and I didn’t know anyone here, but I believe with all my heart that this is where God has called me to be. I have friends here that love me and hold me accountable. I have brothers in Christ who call me just because I crossed their minds and just wanted to say hello. My wife’s family accepted me from day one and show God’s unconditional love for me and my kids. Just a little bit of love goes a long way!

And for the first time I can remember, I feel I have a real church home. Northview Church is my church home. I feel loved here. I feel I belong here. I feel I am “Home” here. But it isn’t the building, or the name, or the programs that make me feel this way. It is the people.
From the moment you walk through the doors, several people will greet you and do their best to make you feel welcome. Don’t worry, you won’t get mobbed, just loved.
They are genuinely happy to see you and they are truly glad you are there. They don’t want your money and no one will ask you to join a group or to volunteer for any of the many programs going on. They will let you know about the many things available to you at Northview and that you are welcome to be a part of whatever you choose. The people here only desire to show God’s love to you in a practical way. What you do with it after that is up to you. You can just show up, sit through the service, get fed (spiritually), and leave without saying a word and that’s okay. Or you can hang around and get to know some rather awesome people. Either way, you will be accepted here and no one will judge you or look down on you, no matter who you are or where you came from. Jesus Christ hung on a cross and paid the price for your sins and mine, and if you are good enough for Jesus, you are good enough for us!

Our church’s mission statement is quite simple.

“Connecting People with God, Connecting People with People.”
It is all about people.

One of the ways I served God in my church was by being the “Alpha Dude”.  I got to enjoy that blessing for three and a half years!  Alpha Dude is known to be funny and smart and silly and entertaining for the children of the adults that attend the Alpha program. Alpha Dude gives the kids (pre-school through sixth grade) the same lesson the adults are getting, just on a level that the kids can understand and enjoy. It is a great job and I had an absolute blast doing it! God has shown me what a blessing it is working those kids, even though it used to scare the bejeebers out of me working with small children. Honestly, I used to be rather intimidated by little kids. I don’t know why. But God said to do it so I did it and it is an incredible blessing!

During one of the lessons, I told the kids how God is the best friend they could ever have. One little girl asked me if God was really my best friend, and I replied, “Dude! me and God are like this!” while holding up my hand with the first two fingers crossed. One of the adult teachers commented that it would make a cool t-shirt.  I agreed and thought it was the kind of shirt that Alpha Dude would wear and would go perfectly with the blue jeans and Hawaiian shirt. I searched high and low for something like it and could not find one. So I designed and made my own.

My son wanted one so I ordered one for him and he wore it to church.

Several people asked where he got it and how they too could get one.

During all of this, our church introduced a program called

God has really blessed our church and it is growing. It is growing so much, in fact, that we are running out of room for all the people. Saturday evening services aren’t too bad yet, but Sunday morning services are full and we can’t stand the thought of ever telling anyone that we don’t have a place for them to sit. So we’ve built a bigger building. We simply had no choice. The church is expanding and we needed a bigger facility for the church people to meet. After all, the church is the people.

The Next Chapter involves raising the necessary funds to construct the new building. So far, God is showing He will provide and my wife and I would like to be able to contribute more than we are able. Can you see where this going? We already give as much as we can of our time and finances, but desire to do more.

Here’s how you can help. Just visit and buy a shirt (or ten or twenty). All of the proceeds will go to The Next Chapter building campaign. All of it. One hundred percent (100%). And how much do I get? Absolutely nothing. Zero. Nada. It ALL goes to the church.

Please visit the website. You can find shirts, sweatshirts, clocks, mouse pads, pillows, baby clothes, coffee mugs, tote bags, just about anything you like, to show the world that God is number one in your life.

These items make for great Christmas gifts. I’ve already purchased a bunch of them for my own family.

Thank you and may God Bless you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

If you can read this....

If you can read this,
thank your teacher.

If you are reading this in English,
thank a Vet.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Big Sky - 100th Post

For those of you who may have stopped by last week looking for something new and obviously did not find it…..sorry about that. I was in Missoula, Montana all last week at a Pavement Preservation Partnership conference. I met some interesting people and learned more than I thought I would. This particular conference was actually worth attending, and the workshops were rather educational.

I attended all the meetings and workshops, and I even managed to stay awake during the boring presentations as well as the interesting ones. The only meeting I didn’t stay to the very end was the final business meeting and my boss told me it would be over in about ten minutes and I could leave if I wanted. I didn’t see him again for another 90 minutes! Apparently, there’s a federal guy in there who can talk forever about absolutely nothing, and he did not disappoint.

All in all, it was a great week. Montana is a beautiful place. We were surrounded by snow-capped mountains and Missoula is not too big so it was easy to get around.

We arrived Monday afternoon and went straight to the first workshop. It is great to get to meet people in your field that know a lot more than you do, so you can ask them lots of questions and learn from their experience. My grandfather had told me long, long ago that the smart guy learns from watching others. So I watched, I learned, and I asked a lot of questions. Afterwards, we grabbed a quick dinner and watched the Colts beat up on the Jaguars.

Tuesday morning, I woke up at 3:30 AM. My body was still on Indiana time. I tried to get some more sleep since my first class didn’t start until 9AM. Shortly before 6AM, my step-daughter called me on my cell phone…..
“Did I wake you?”
“No. I was just about to get up.”
“Oh, good. Hey listen, I’m in Richmond (Indiana), giving a friend a ride to school, and my car just died right in the middle of an intersection. What should I do? I tried starting it, but it just rev’s up and dies.”
“Do you have any gas?”
“Of course I do!”
“How much gas do you have in the tank?”
“I don’t know, but I know there’s enough.”
“Well, the first thing you need to do is get the car out of the middle of the intersection. Have your friend help you push the car to a safer place, then call me back and we’ll see what we can do.”
“Okay, there’s a gas station nearby. We’ll push it to there and I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”
Several minutes passed by and she finally called me back…..
“Hi. While we were at the gas station, we filled the tank with gas and the car is running fine now.”
“Okay, good. Drive safe. See you Friday night.”
“Why Friday?”
“Because I’m in Montana and I won’t be home until Friday around midnight.”
“You’re in Montana? Then I did wake you! I’m so sorry.”
“No, you’re okay. I had to get up to answer the phone anyway. Have a great day. Love you”
“Love you too”
Yeah. She’s real observant like that. She’s only 19 and still learning. It was nice that she called me. She could have called her dad, or her boyfriend, which were both a lot closer to where she was, even if I had been in Indianapolis. Even after I had just told her few days earlier how stupid it was for her to get a tattoo. She asked me about it before she did it and I told her it was a bad idea. She wanted one so she did it anyway. She got a flower tattooed on her side, from her hip to just under her armpit. She showed it to me and asked what I thought of it. I still told her it was most likely the most stupid thing she’s done yet. She wanted so badly for someone to happy for her and tell her how cool her tattoo is. I said I couldn’t lie to her and told her what I really thought about it. Her little brother asked what kind of flower it is and I told him it is a blooming idiot. (My wife didn’t think that was funny). But still, I’m the one she called when she was in trouble anyway.

Tuesday night we went to dinner and the waitress asked where we were from. She said we didn’t look like we were from there (we were “too clean”, she said). There’s a big “M” on the side of the mountain overlooking the town, and our waitress explained what it meant and how it got there. After she left, and elderly lady came by our table and told us that the “M” stood for Montana, and was placed there by the University of Montana. (This lady had real class. She never once said that the waitress was wrong, she just corrected certain parts of her story). The campus is located directly below the "M". It used to be formed by a bunch of large rocks, but visiting sports teams would climb up and re-arrange the stones into their own school’s letter. So the owner of the land built a dirt road around the side of the mountain so the concrete truck could get to the spot and now the “M” is made out of concrete. There’s a small cave behind the “M” where they buried one of the football player’s jerseys, since it smelled so bad. So now you know the story behind the big “M” above Missoula. Just don’t ask your waitress, she may not know.

Wednesday our sessions let out early so we drove up to the Bison Range. We couldn’t get close to any Bison (Buffalo), but we did find evidence that were nearby recently.

We could see some buffalo across the way, but none were close enough for a picture. We did get close to some elk, though. I had to step back just to get this guy in the picture. He acted like he didn’t even care that I was there and just kept eating grass. The three fellows I was with thought I was crazy and urged me to get back into the car.

It sure was a beautiful place to be.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for dinner and I had a 10 0z. Big Medicine Buffalo Burger. It was just about as big as the plate. It was good, but could have been better if they’d have cooked it all the way. I don’t particularly care for rare meat, but this fellow didn’t look like he’d even been hurt too bad!

The next couple of days were spent attending seminars, presentations and meetings. It wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be and actually learned quite a lot. Even Thursday night at the final dinner and reception party when I learned how to graciously excuse myself from the table after one of the main event guys got so drunk that he started disclosing way too much personal information. It was a little embarrassing. My boss even followed my lead and excused himself also.

All in all, it was a really great time. Friday morning, before catching our plane, my boss and I climbed the mountain to the big “M” overlooking the city. It was beautiful from up there.

The flight home was okay, even though the stewardess on our little pond-hopper plane was wider than the narrow aisle (and seemed to be in a really bad mood). She really wasn’t very nice so I closed my eyes and slept most of the way home.

It was good to be home. I missed sleeping in my own bed and I miss the smell of my own sheets. The gentleman in me prevents me from saying more.

I thank God for the opportunity to meet new friends, to learn new things and to experience more of the awesome beauty He created in the Big Sky country.

Saturday, my wife and I served on the usher team at church. Sunday we drove to Cincinnati to watch the Bengals play. (Had they actually played, they might have won). Then Monday night we went to the Encore Awards in Indy. Our director won for Best Director in a Drama, and I got to watch. After the event, I congratulated our director and we all posed for pictures. Janet, who was nominated for Best Actress, really should have won. She did an awesome job. As I shook her husband’s hand and gave her a gentle hug across her shoulders, she looked at me and said that it was enough just to be nominated. But the look in her eyes said the same thing I felt in my own heart in that, “I’m only saying that to be gracious. I really hoped to win”. Next season will be different.

This is my 100th post.

I have so much more to write about, but that will have to wait for next time.