Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Write Everything Down!!

I really liked Steven Furtick's post today. So me. So up my alley. I so agree! I see it this way, if you are leading the second fastest growing church in the USA, you probably have something valuable to say. It's why I read his blog. Today, this was simple, practical and fresh.


Write everything down! It doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to get done.

Some of your best sermons never get preached because they weren't written down. You thought you'd remember. You didn't. It's gone.

Millions of lucrative business ideas and helpful inventions never saw the light of day because somebody did not write them down!


An Inside Out Work

For far too long, the story of Christian faith has been wrapped up in what we do not do, instead of what we do. Do not cuss, drink, have sex outside of marriage, smoke, shew, dance with women that do, lie, steal, cheat, etc.

Look, I know that the 10 commandment stand and that there are plenty of "thou shalt nots" throughout scripture, but God has been showing me something about Jesus's approach to discipleship in the New Testament. It looks something like this:

Give me your heart! First! Let me start at the core of you. Your center. From there, I will do an inside out work. I do not want your feet, hands, eyes and mouth first...I want your heart first!

Once I have your heart, and you meet me, and I meet you, and I come inside and make my home, then the outside will begin to change. We've got time for that.

If I can have your heart:
  • You hands will gradually stop touching the same things.
  • Your feet will stop going the same places.
  • Your eyes will stop wanting to see the old things.
  • You mouth will slowly stop saying the old stuff.
  • You bedroom will start becoming a place where sexuality will take on a new purpose.
  • You will see your relationships through a whole new set of glasses.
  • People will start to look at you and do double takes.
I really don't want to be a Pastor or Leader that gets it twisted and backwards. Our job is to give our hearts, the center of who we are over to Jesus. Jesus is the master of cleaning us up.

God has been showing me this very strongly recently as I have been interacting with more seekers at CCF...many who are waiting to "get there act together" before accepting Christ. Why do they feel the need to do this? Because they have been told for far too long that Jesus wants only the perfect and clean. My, how we have missed the message. Jesus came for and died for the sinner. And we can come just as we are and THEN the Lord will begin an inside out work!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Davis sees himself during the Alphabet Song!

Turn. Turn, Turn

I let The Byrds sing my text (basically) yesterday before I read it. Here it is:

There's a Season for That!

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11 served as the main text. Click here to read it!

Here were some of the driving thoughts about seasonal living from my message yesterday..."There's a season for that." The message should be online by tomorrow.
  • Recognize that the the nature of seasons are like the seasons of nature...they will pass!!
  • A season in our life is a time frame that has been allotted for something to happen.
  • If you fail to recognize a season of planting and soil work (unseen and internal), you may miss the harvest (noticed and external). I will not know to go gather the crop if I never knew it got planted!
  • Genesis 8:22 confirms that life has seasons when it says "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
  • Advice: Don’t Force Spring When It is Winter.
  • Resist rushing or delaying your seasons!! You will pay for both!
  • Proverbs 20:4 says, “If you are too lazy to plow in the right season, you will have no food at the harvest.”
  • In the natural realm we have a calendar which says that on the 20th day of this month, the season changed. Yet we know the season doesn’t always change on the 20th. The physical manifestation doesn’t always appear on the 20th.
  • So, remember this: The season doesn’t change because the day has arrived, the season changes because the time has arrived.
  • When King David was anointed to be the King of Israel, it would be years later before he would be appointed King, because the time of his anointing was not the time of his appointing.
  • Remember your seasons! Do not forget them. And rack up the lessons learned in them!!
  • Gal 6:9 says "Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not."
Praying for you as I write this that God will do the work in the soil of your heart that causes you to reap a harvest of faithfulness!

What season do you see yourself in right now? What is God showing you in this season?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Overnight Growth

I showed this picture in the sermon this morning. This was some flowers in our front yard...YESTERDAY!! Trying to bloom. 1 had bloomed.

This is the same exact flower patch...TODAY!!!! 10 had bloomed. Overnight. And on the same day I preached on seasons. Just blessed me and reminded me of how good God is.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Eatser Image and Theme Released...HOPE!!!!

Get ready to have your heart and the hearts of those you bring with you filled with "HOPE" this Easter Sunday, April 12th! Who are you inviting?

(Take these images and this post and cut, copy, paste, link and share them on your blogs and with your friends!)

Your Last Words

This is a truly powerful blog post by Mark Beeson, a Senior Pastor that I have really grown to respect. This is an inspiring and moving post. Click here to read it!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Blogging Church (Book Review)

I love to use this blog to review books that I read. It may help you some, but it will help me more. It helps me to reinforce my highlights and document what I read and learned for later when I need it.

While in Guyana, I read "The Blogging Church" by Brian Bailey. Guys, it was such an incredibly helpful tool/manual to help me become a better, healthier and more effective blogger. GREAT BOOK! If you are a blogger or are thinking about starting one, this book is a must, must read. Here are some random bullets of my favorite ideas in the book:
  • Blogging is a revolution in communication, community and conversation...a revolution that churches cannot afford to miss.
  • The Blogosphere is a new online home for the curious and creative.
  • Before blogs, if you wanted to publish something online, you needed a website, money and a whole lot of knowledge about online code to do it. Now, it is free, type and publish!
  • At the start of 2001, most Americans did not know what a blog was. By the end of 2004, Webster declared blog the word of the year!
  • Blogging is simply online hospitality.
  • Blogs help make a big church small.
  • One of the biggest decisions every blogger needs to make is whether is a tool or a toy!
  • Blogging gives a phenomenal return on ministry.
  • People love blogs because they love real time updates.
  • Blogs do what church bulletins and newsletters cannot because they are from me to you (personal). Not from we to you all (impersonal)! Oh, and did I mention that blogs are free? No printing cost.
  • People are asking questions and blogs are a place to answer them. Why not answer for hundreds all at once, instead of one person one time.
  • When laptops, wireless networks and coffee shops converged, we gained the ability to work anywhere and anytime.
  • Blogs are one of the few ways that Pastors can disciple people while they are asleep.
  • Blog writers are huge blog readers! It is where we get our inspiration. What a tool. Free, fresh and current thinking everyday!
  • Blogging has radically and permanently changed ministry! No longer do we need to travel to learn. Who needs to go to as many conferences when there is top notch free info in the blogosphere?
  • Picasso said "Good artists copy. Great artists steal."
  • Don't be driven by statistics. You will never be a successful blogger if your only motivation for blogging is more traffic.
  • People are looking to blogs for something that they cannot get anywhere else. That something is you!
  • People are tired of perfection and hungry for authenticity. A blog that is free of emotion and controversy and written like a company annual report will not be a successful one.
  • Churches are often 100% relevant on Sundays and 0% relevant the rest of the week. Blogs help prevent this trap!
  • One whole chapter dealt with commenting. Some bloggers allow them. Others do not. You can get some pretty inappropriate comments sometimes, but not allowing them turns your blog into another sermon instead of a conversation.
  • As with all that we do, in blogging we have to determine whether we are doing what we do for His glory or for ours. Are we focused on serving our church, our readers or ourselves?
  • The book helpfully warned of traffic traps, blogging burnout and blogging addictions. (Yes, I was listening!)
  • Be controversial once in a while. Stimulate healthy debate!
  • Blogs represent the evolving expression of our most passionately held ideas.
  • Blog your whole experience, not just your polished thoughts.
I am stopping now. I could keep going. This is enough, though.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Let God Be God! (Lisa Savoy has something to tell you!)

Hey, friends. This morning I had the privilege of doing a hospital visit with one of my favorite sidekicks...Momma! We went down to visit Lisa Savoy at Hadley Memorial Hospital in SW. As with almost every mission trip or hospital visit...it impacted us more than her.

I want to take a moment to share with you an update about Lisa. She is excited to have a voice through this blog. Lisa cannot talk anymore. She can no longer breathe on her own either. She is on a breathing machine. She gave her doctor permission to share with us what is happening. She has Sjogrens syndrome, Polymyositis, COPD/Emphysema and now has been diagnosed with Pneumonia. Today, we learned that she will need to remain on a breathing machine for the rest of her life. Although she could not talk, we seemed to read her lips well and she pointed to letters when she needed to.

I asked Lisa what are the 3 most important ways that CCF can be praying with her? She answered:
  1. That God's will would be done in my life and future. If it is his will that I go home (Silver Spring), let it be done. If it is His will that I go home (Heaven), let it be done.
  2. That Aetna Insurance would open up their heart and help me!!
  3. That my life will still count for something. That I will still be of value and make a difference!
After hearing that and crying together, I assured her that she still had a voice and she was still making a difference! At least to our church and the hundreds that read my blog.

I then asked Lisa what the ONE THING is that she would want to tell people. Without hesitation, she said:

Let God be God!

There is so much to extract from those 4 simple words. She made it a point to say, "even when you cannot talk or breathe on your own, let God be God!" "Do not rely on yourself...rely on God. Put him first and let him be who is wants to be in your life."

Amazing! Finally, she she said that too many visits exhaust her. She just wanted me to bring her words and heart back to you. She also enthusiastically agreed to a short video shoot. Here is Lisa Savoy. Same sweet spirit. Same precious heart. Same love for her church. (Oh, she made sure to tell me that this was HER church!) Check her out....blowing you kisses:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chinese Finger Puzzle About the Ring Finger

Someone sent me this and I thought it was kinda creepy/cool! Check it out:

Facebook Fan!

If I have any doubt before about this whole Facebook thing....it's gone....I'm a believer!

Here are a few reasons why:
  • I made 3 new friends in Guyana! Not online...in person! Because I saw them on Facebook at a restaurant we were at. I walked up and said: "Oh, cool. Facebook! I want to be your friend." There faces lit up as they asked me my name and typed it in the search box. I am now friends with Collin, Lisa and Marlon from Guyana! We communicate. They see me talk about my family, my church and my God. Seeds are being planted! Love it!
  • Facebook is growing our church (and will keep doing so if we leverage it)! I am connecting with old friends and acquaintances that are coming to CCF. Two more friends are planning to visit this weekend! The connections are amazing.
  • Unlike other social networking sites, it is easy to use and consumes very little time. Maybe I am doing something wrong or underusing it, but I check it every other day for 3 minutes and stay in touch. (The fact that my Twitter updates automatically show up there make me look like a power user.)
Facebook Rocks! It is going to open up great doors for impacting people. That is my heart! That is why I do it. Lord knows I don't need one more thing to do. I see it as a tool, not a toy! It is all in how you use it. You have to use it, not let it use you!

(If you have not joined, do so today at www.facebook.com)

"There's a Season for That!"

This Sundays message is going to be out of Ecclesiastes 3 and other texts. The title of my message will be...

"There's a Season for That!"

Gonna be talking about seasonal thinking. Last Friday was the first day of spring. Made me think of the meaning and value of seasons. What is a season? What does God intend for a season to do in you? What happens when we miss one? Rush one? The main premise will be this: Everything that happens is getting you ready for what's next.

Come this Sunday expecting to hear from God together as we open Scripture.

--Pastor Noah
Oh, Would you mind leaving a comment?

This blog is not a monologue. I want it to be more of a conversation. I invite you to leave a comment answering this question:

What is the most insightful thing that you have learned about life's seasons? (You may just hear your comment in the sermon on Sunday.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Harrison Family

(Pay special attention to Jon-Jon's classic facial expressions.)

JFK Airport Intimidates Me

...But I love it!!

Seriously, JFK airport is an amazing place, but a scary place:
  • It is massive!! We had to change planes today. The walk was equivalent to walking from Bowie to Annapolis.
  • Planes are parked everywhere like cars at Target.
  • There are Airlines that I cannot pronounce heading to cities that I did not know existed.
  • While we were standing in line to clear customs, there were so many nationalities and languages being spoken around us that it hurt my brain.
  • I stare a lot at International Airports. Just so many types of people I have never seen before. Anyone know what I am talking about, or am I just weird?
...But I love it! I love the diversity at JFK. I love the reminders all around of how big the world is, how small I am and how creative God is!

Anyway, that was my thought of the day.

It was a smooth trip home. Watched a movie on the flight home and it made 6 hours feel like 3!

Prayer for Guyana

Up before the sun, but not before the Son!! Last morning here in Guyana. Felt compelled to just spend some more time praying for this nation..as I have done throughout these last few days. I prayed for the hearts of the people to turn to Jesus. For Alcoholism to be removed. For poverty to be replaced with equality. For diseases to be healed. For other people around the world to assist in social justice work here in this country. But perhaps my most focused prayer was for those that have met Jesus...or at least think they have. The longer I live, the more I observe people in the faith, the more afraid I become that we are more the problem than the solution. I prayed that Christians here would be authentic difference makers for Jesus and not so set apart from the brokenness that they let broken people fall apart and miss out on the blessing of abundant life and eternal life!

There is something different about praying for a nation on the ground...on their turf. Something profoundly moving that is hard to put into words.

I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples. -Psalm 108:3

Monday, March 23, 2009

Trip Overview

This is the last full day that we are in Guyana. Let me give you a few brief comments about this trip:
  1. Overall, the weather has actually been unusually cool. Go God! He knew Mim and I were coming. Hal can handle the heat better than us.
  2. We had more down time than we anticipated. We used it wisely and feel zero guilt about it. Have stayed connected online (a totally unexpected treat) and have accomplished a tremendous amount of reading and writing.
  3. We met with the leaders of the churches that we have planted here in Guyana. Different from other trips, they came to us in the Capital city instead of us traveling in to them. This was intentional. We discerned it to be the more appropriate approach for this particular visit. Our discussions were successful...exceeded our expectations!!
  4. You may have been interpreting my silence and/or reading between some lines on some of what is going on here. As soon as we are home, Hal and I will be briefing the Executive Board and the International Team and then we will be sharing more detail with the congregation. Hang in there and we will get you up to speed real soon. There are reasons that we have not yet.
  5. Nikki Harrison (formerly Greaves) and I were kids in the youth group together. Now, she is living here in Georgetown, is married to John and has two beautiful boys, Jon-Jon and Judah. Judah is a massive 5.5 pounds!! We have spent time with them and truly enjoyed it. It has meant so much to them. They send greeting to the family back home. If I can get a short video clip of them later, I will post it.
  6. Trying to arrange a meeting with another Pastor here in Georgetown for today. We'll see.
  7. We will be traveling all day tomorrow. Leaving our hotel at 6am tomorrow...should be kissing my wife by 8pm!

Thoughts from "Guynana" (as Davis calls it),


Changes to my Blog

I am 2 chapters from being done reading a book called "The Blogging Church." I will share a review on it when I finish....maybe later today. Great tool. As I read it, it has made recommendations about the blog and encourages you to go implement it as you read it. I did.

Here are a few minor changes that I made that I wanted to tell you about:
  1. I introduce myself now. The book pointed out that many bloggers are missing the most important thing. Who are you? And how can I contact you? I have given that info on the left sidebar now.
  2. Made it easy to get to some of my favorite and your most popular posts. Some new readers want to see some of what this blog is about....an overview...without searching for it themselves. If particular posts were frequently visited or linked by to by others, the book advised I sift them out for you and share them with you. I have done that. I hope it helps committed readers re-read some oldies but goodies and new readers get acquainted with the kind of stuff they will find here. They are now on the sidebar on the left as well.
  3. Changed "blogs I read" to "sites I visit" allowing me to share more than just good blogs, but good sites too!
  4. Adjusted the home page so that it only shows 1 week of posts at a time. I did this in hopes that the blog loads up faster for some of you on a slower connection.
More to come...These are just a few changes with the hope of improving your visits. Great to have you around.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Me and my Guyanese friend, John

Money Matters in the Church

I brought 2 books with me on this trip. Big mistake. Should have brought 3 or 4. I am done 1 and halfway done the second. Bummer. Anyway, this morning I was up at 6am and had 3 hours alone with the Bible and a book. Such a treat! I read the book of Acts and finished another book called "Money Matters in the Church" by Aubrey Malphurs and Steve Stroope. Thoroughly insightful book. About half of it strums on CCF's guitar.

The book addressed:
  • A Biblical theology of stewardship (all the rest of the book is built on this)
  • Developing donors and maximizing contributions
  • Strategic Budget preparation and management
  • Protecting the church's financial integrity
  • Understanding your Giving Champions
  • Deciding who decides about what
  • Regularly, systematically and creatively teaching about giving through more than just sermons
  • Staff Compensation Ideas
  • Legal issues, debt management, church banking, capital campaigns, and more...

Great book. Great tool to be used. I look forward to handing this one off to our Finance Staff and Executive Board. We can really use this teaching to make our already accountable system even more airtight!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blogging by the pool with a lovely warm breeze...

Yes, you read that title correctly. And yes, this is a missions trip or a trip with a mission.

I knew that I would not have cell service down here. Every time that I've come in the past, I have barely had Internet. I would have to find an Internet cafe, pay, and then hope that the Internet moved fast enough to send Tricia an email telling her hello. This trip, I decided to bring my MacBook so that I could at least do some typing and work on my next sermon.

Well, we ARE staying in a hotel and it does have a pool. But, you can erase what you are picturing. We are not living it up at the resort. Trust me. Well, today, I brought my computer outside to the table we were sitting at by the pool, clicked on the Internet and BAM! Google.com/guyana! Poolside, online, and high speed wireless...thanks to my MacDaddy! It won't work in my room, though. Just by the pool. Poor me. So, all that to say that I get to stay connected during this trip. I was kinda looking forward to the break, so I may not write as much. We'll see. You know me and my mad blogging tendencies.

A few thoughts/lessons from the day:
  • People in most (maybe every?) country and culture appreciate truth telling and honest integrity.
  • People in other countries (at least Guyana) think that people in the US have all the answers and all the money. Definitely a teachable opportunity in that. (I wish they could watch our news for 10 minutes to see how much money we DON'T have!)
  • Prawns are Shrimp. I hope. That is what I had for dinner.
  • Cricket is HUGE in Guyana. When we left the airport this morning, we sat in a cricket traffic jam for a big cricket event here today. Went 1 mile in 1 hour (after flying all night). That's always fun.
Holding off for bed so I can get back on schedule. We have meetings starting at 8:30am tomorrow.

Holla for Guyana!

--Pastor Noah

Here Safe...Saying Hi

We are here in Guyana safely. Other than a 3o minute nap on the plane and a 2 hours nap in the hotel, I have been up since Thursday morning. Tired to say the least. We have been in meetings with leaders for the last few hours and about to get some dinner now.

I have a good sense that God is already at work blessing this trip. We feel your prayers and ask you to keep sending them.

With love,

Noah, Hal and Mim

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flying out, Signing off (probably)

Getting ready to leave for National Airport. Then, we puddle jump to JFK. After wasting 4 hours of our life at JFK, we take an overnight flight to Georgetown, Guyana. I wanted to throw up a post before leaving.

Hal and Mim Smith and I are the three going. Hal is the chair of our Executive Board and International Team. Mim is very close to some Guyanese friends connected to CCF that live in Georgetown (a few of you may know Nikki...Patrick and Pauline Greaves daughter).

We are heading down so Hal and I can meet with our leaders in the Guyanese churches that we have been supporting for many years. The conversations that we anticipate having may not be easy. We really feel that we need your prayer support over the next few days. We will be returning Tuesday. Pray for safety, wisdom and peace. Pray also for our leaders and churches there that God would be there strength and portion.

If I can get on Internet, and it moves fast enough (that is the issue), I will post from there.

Much love and peace!!! I will miss you Sunday.

Pastor Noah

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Keep sending them, Lord

Had the chance to spend some time with a man today who has not yet made the leap into faith in Jesus. As I left him at the end of our Starbucks chat, I asked him again if he was ready. He said not yet. I give it a month at the most. He is so close!! He is so growing! This got me thinking today...

At CCF, we have recently seen an increase in lost/broken people coming. I love what I am seeing. It reminds me of this guy named Jesus. He seemed to attract similar folks. He is sending to us:
  • People in Brokenness.
  • Marriages in need of miracles.
  • People with addictions. Still trying to beat them.
  • Unsaved. Far from God.
  • The "never churched"
  • People in legal disasters
  • People in financial fiascoes
  • People who think that sexual promiscuity is a hobby
  • And alcohol is like a soft drink
  • And marijuana is no different than tobacco
  • People ready to give up...
Words do not express how humbled I feel that God is sending them to us, allowing us to help Him reach them and love them! This is a serious sign of the trust that the Lord has for CCF and it's leaders. It is a sign of the work of the spirit, of signs and wonders to come!

And from these people, we are seeing the Lord begin the work of his spirit and we are seeing...
  • People being put back together
  • Marriages on the verge of healing and love being reignited
  • Salvation
  • Rededications
  • People going from getting high daily and not caring, to people getting high weekly and feeling heavy conviction and calling to confess
  • People putting God first with their money that never have before
  • People holding on and pressing on and growing...
Friends, if I believe one thing about the transformation and growth of a follower of the Lord Jesus, it is this...

Discipleship and Spiritual renewal/growth is a PROCESS that takes TIME and ENERGY and EFFORT and the gradual renewing of the heart and mind that only the Spirit of the Lord can do! Rare are the miraculous and immediate turnarounds. Most take time and good old fashioned patience. That is discipleship!!

We are keeping at it. The Lord is so faithful and I am so glad to work with him...and that he is working in us.

Keep sending them, Lord!

Pastor Noah

Staying Connected...Starts Sunday!

Messages every other Sunday will connect to Small Groups conversations for the following 2 weeks. We will be doing that for 12 weeks, 6 messages. This is the sequel to last year's "Making Connections." Excited about what the Lord will show us through this.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tricia's Birthday Present

Here is one of the gifts that Davis gave Mommy today. It is like 8 minutes long and every picture is of Davis. So, I suspect if you are not a family member or a Davis fan, you probably have something better to do with your time than watch this. ;-) Nonetheless, here it is.

What countries were represented last Sunday?

  1. Antigua
  2. Barbados
  3. Cameroon
  4. Canada
  5. China
  6. Eritrea
  7. France
  8. Germany
  9. Ghana
  10. Guatemala
  11. Guyana
  12. Honduras
  13. India
  14. Italy
  15. Ivory Coast
  16. Jamaica
  17. Kenya
  18. Korea
  19. Liberia
  20. Nevis
  21. Nigeria
  22. Panama
  23. Philippines
  24. Poland
  25. Portugal
  26. Puerto Rico
  27. Senegal
  28. Sierre Leone
  29. Taiwan
  30. Trinidad
  31. United States

Happy Birthday, Tricia!!!

Today is St. Patrick's Day. But, it also my sweetheart's birthday! Happy Birthday, Tricia! I hear it is rude to tell a Woman's age, so I will refrain from doing that. Instead, I will share 29 things that I love and appreciate about Tricia as my blog post this morning. This is her day and I want to honor her for the lady that she is! I appreciate and love Tricia because of/she...
  1. Her love for Jesus
  2. Her compassionate heart
  3. Her honesty
  4. Her integrity
  5. Hard worker
  6. Gifted teacher
  7. Her choice in men!!!
  8. Nurtures Davis....leads the kids department
  9. The way she makes simple things special
  10. Her dedicated ministry at Capi's Kids and her passion for her role at CCF
  11. The way that she loves her family
  12. The way that she loves my family
  13. How she adores every kid in her life
  14. She takes wonderful care of her husband!
  15. Which reminds me....her choice in men!
  16. Gifted Blogger (recently discovered this)
  17. Cares for the home
  18. Cleans more than me
  19. Does laundry more than me (Which is not hard since I have not done a load since I met her in 1998...thanks, babe!)
  20. Great at watching me cook ;-)
  21. Pays the bills and implements our agreed upon financial plans and vision
  22. Love her heritage in the faith
  23. Love how she loves me (I know that may sound selfish, but men love to be loved by their wife)
  24. Crazy reader!
  25. Maintains friend of high caliber character
  26. Super supportive of my ministry as a Pastor
  27. Hospitable with the home
  28. Her gentleness
  29. Her choice in men!
Honestly, I am starting to think that Tricia is as called to be a Pastor's Wife as I am called to be a Pastor (At the very least we know that she is called to be my wife....which is NOT an easy calling!!) She is a gem! Happy Birthday, Babe!

Can you do me a favor? Can you either leave a comment here for her or go to her blog and leave her a comment wishing her a happy birthday! Let's bless her today (and tomorrow too if you don't read this till then).

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. --Proverbs 31: 10, 30-31

Monday, March 16, 2009

My First Video Blog-- The Balding Pastor

Some of you incorrectly think that I am more technologically gifted than I actually am. I fake the funk pretty well. For example...I have not know how to film and post a video onto youtube until today when my Brother stumbled around and figured it out for me. Well, now that I know how, I will be breaking into the video blog world. So, sometimes I will post a video blog. Gonna be fun!

Here is a sample of our work. This was hilarious!!

Yesterday, International Sunday, Beautiful!

Yesterday was so special!! Here are a few reasons why, followed by some pictures. The pictures will say more than I will.
  • Over 425 people gathered from 31 countries (that we know of..I will post that list later).
  • There were 150 kids, youth and (kids/youth) volunteers throughout the building. CCF is doing the darn thing with the next generation!!
  • We had to shuttle many people from the Giant next door to the church. (Thanks, guys!)
  • We worshiped! In English. In Russian. In Spanish. Quietly. Jubilantly. Authentically. In spirit and in truth.
  • We went to a new Connection Card system. That was a win.
  • Bishop Glenn brought a powerfully anointed and wonderfully applicable word to us. (I will post some of those notes later.)
  • People ate. And ate. There was so much food! And we are learning as a church that meals are about a lot more than food! They are sacred and they are about community and the presence of God.
  • The volunteers that organized and led this (Staff barely touched it!) did an amazing job and need a blog-applause. They were unreal. The kitchen team, the line team, the set up team, the tear down team, the whatever team that I don't know about that made this day what it was. When I left here yesterday, I looked around and thought, "how will this get cleaned up?" When I walked in here early this morning I looked around and thought "how dd this get cleaned up?" Amazing people. Servants. That's how.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Davis calls farms "e-i-e-i-o's". Well, our friends live in the cut. There are farms all around them. Early this morning Davis and I were the only two awake and we snuck out for a father/son excursion. After getting Daddy some coffee, we drove around finding e-i-e-i-o's and looked for horses and moo-moos. Mission accomplished.

Here is a video at the horses and a video at the moo-moo's. I love making memories with my son. Just he and I. We talk about a lot of things when we are together...girls and stuff. ;-)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Graciela Mia Lopez- Picture

Here is our new Niece. Some of you asked. There are more pics on Tricia's blog. So happy for Melyssa, but so bummed that her Dad is not here to meet Graciela. Man, do we miss Papa Ray!

This Video Is Powerful! (worth re-posting)

I used this 6 minute video in a message back in August. A few minutes ago, one of our teens texted me because they wanted to show their teacher at school. Amazing what sticks with kids.

Seriously, this video is powerful. I never get tired of watching it. I cried again this morning in praise for the amazing God that loves us and holds us together!

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col. 1:16-17

Funny Golf Videos

Go to this post on the Lew Good golf trip and watch these 2 short videos of guys getting mud on them. Both of their reactions are priceless. Click here!

2 More Preaching Thoughts

To build off of my post from Tuesday...

These 2 ideas are rather disconnected, but they are 2 things that the Lord has been showing me about preaching.
  1. I recently heard a story of a young Pastor who asked a much older Pastor..."How do you decide what to preach on?" To which the old preacher replied "Oh, I preach on whatever I find laying along the road." It took that young man a few years to realize what he meant. The best sermons flow out of your own life and things that God is putting you through, teaching you, and doing in you. Just think of the story of the Good Samaritan...it will help you to see what it means to preach about whatever you find laying along the road.
  2. God has been showing recently that if I fail to preach on the topics or passages that make me uncomfortable OR that I do not have ironed out in my own personal life, that I will be responsible for creating bottle sucking Christians. If my church is going to learn to eat meat, I am going to have to start feeding it to them. Lord, I do not want to pick and choose. I want to teach the whole counsel of God. Help me to discern and speak your truth in your time.
I have so much to learn still about so much. God, help.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Leadership Lessons...Get er' done!

Here are a few leadership principles that I have been thinking about recently, likely as a result of having a larger staff. Not fully developed these yet, but here goes.
  • I will lead many people in my life toward spiritual growth. I need to learn that I am not necessarily responsible for their growth, but that they grow. There's a difference.
  • Similarly, I am certainly not always going to be the one doing the discipling, but I will have to be sure that people are being discipled. There's a difference.
  • I have caught myself telling Staff members recently..."You don't have to do it, but have to get it done." There's a difference.

You can be responsible and held accountable that something happens and yet never touch it with your hands. This thinking basically pushes this "delegation" thing out more.

I just think that if leaders stretched their trust and became more willing to let other people touch things, they would see more growth, measure deeper discipleship and get more done!

Here's to "Gettin' er done!"


(Yes, I wrote this. And, yes, I am preaching to myself.)

Down to NCC

Pastor Nelson and I are headed out in a few minutes to take the Metro down to National Community Church in DC (Pastor Mark Batterson's Church). We will be meeting with their Discipleship Pastor, Heather Zempel (who we heard speak at the Willow Creek Small Groups Conference we attended). We will be hanging out at Ebenezer's Coffeehouse. Heather is a gifted teacher and thinker and the way that NCC does groups is pretty fascinating.

Pastor Nelson has scheduled Heather to come lead a Small Group training for our Small Group Leaders here at CCF on March 21. This morning, we are going down to hang out with Heather and plan that training. Looking forward to this morning. Glad Nelson got this all set up.

Hope you have a great day today!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To Don't

My friend just mailed me this. Yes, mail! Snail Mail! With a note that said:

"Dear Time Guru: Recently thought of you when I saw this. Thought you might want to add it to your system."

In case you cannot see it, the 4 categories are:
  1. To avoid
  2. To delay
  3. To pawn off
  4. To sabotage
Just, don't do it!

(Thanks, Ben Rainey!!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Increasing Love for Preaching

Something has been happening in my life over the last few months. My love for preaching is increasing. Exponentially. Not sure why, how, or what to attribute it to other than the Lord doing a work in me. 2 or 3 years ago I would have defined my feelings toward preaching as average. It came with the territory. God has called me to be a messenger, so I had to prepare and deliver a message.

Now...Today...I love to preach. I'm either growing into it or it is growing on me. Now, don't hear what I am not saying...I am not saying I am better....I am saying I like it better.

So, I have been giving this some thought, because I want to channel this passion for Kingdom growth and not ego growth! I don't need that. I need to reach and impact people for God.

Some possible random reasons for this increasing passion to preach that God has been showing me:
  1. I am planned out further than I used to be! Many, many times, I have chosen my sermon on Tuesday and preached it Sunday. Not anymore. That has changed in the last 3-4 months. I now know where we are headed for the next 13 Sundays. I know what messages I will be preaching. As a result, the Holy Spirit is massaging truth into those messages that are under development in my heart weeks before I preach them.
  2. Blogging has exponentially increased my love for writing and my passion to communicate truth. My passion to communicate in writing has impacted my desire to communicate verbally. Lots of connection here for me.
  3. Increased anointing and increased character. That has been the name of this season!! Bishop Glenn spoke it to me prophetically, I see it and I receive it. God is doing new things in my heart these days. (Read: I am trying to grow up and surrender more of my mess to him.)
  4. One thing is for sure and two's for certain....I will never be good at all of what it means to be a Pastor. In some areas, I just stink. But, I believe that where God guides, he provides! And where God calls, he equips. I know he has called me and I see him giving me what I need with each passing month....by HIS grace and for HIS glory!
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

On my mind today

Not really in the mood to write or do anything too inspiring today. Needed some mush time, if you know what I mean. Here are a few things on my heart and mind though, for those that care:
  • I am really excited about International Sunday this weekend!! Please come!
  • We are going to a new connection card system/way of welcoming folks this Sunday. I will share more about it soon. Going to be a great move for us!
  • Tricia kept it very real in her blog post today. Click here to read it. I love her increasing authenticity about he life as a woman and wife. Proud of my bride.
  • I am one lost puppy without my calendar in my phone. Reached for it 50 times today and said..."awe man!"
  • I am torn between two message choices for Easter. Asking the Lord to solidify his choice.
  • Not thrilled to be leaving again in a week. I will be heading back down to South America next Wednesday to see meet with our Guyanese Leaders. Gotta get through this International Sunday, wrap up and I am gone in a flash.
  • Even though I am not in a writing mood, I DO have some cool things on the runway that I look forward to sharing with you soon.
Great grace to you today!!

Brother Lew Palmer-Woods (Good), The Golfer

Brother Lew Good (our Pastor Emeritus at CCF) has been in Florida for the cold months. This week, he and his sons are doing their 20th annual family guys golf trip. Helen emailed me this morning to tell me that they started a blog for the golf trip so that we could follow along. This is too cool! I want to be 80 and golfing with my sons one day (insert conviction here and read: Noah, keep exercising, eating right and take care of yourself)! I love the camaraderie you can feel on this blog.

Check out the blog at http://goodguysgolfclassic.blogspot.com/ or by clicking HERE!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wanna Make My Day?

Post something like this on YOUR blog, if you have one? I love when people love their church! I believe that it makes Jesus proud when we are proud to be his body! Click here to read this blog post by Cydne Nash, a CCF partner for the last several years. Cydne is an EnrtyPoint Coach and she and her husband Bernie co-lead our Thursday Small Group with us (they are also our friends!). She was "representin'" on her blog yesterday! Click Here to check it out! Made my day!

Credit Cards

Last year I spoke to High Schools Grads and told them that "it pays to discover that you cannot afford a relationship with visa." I shared that in my message yesterday as well. After the service, Valeta Moore came up to me and handed me a folded piece of paper and told me to read it later. When I opened it, it said this...I thought it was too clever:

"It pays to discover that you cannot afford a relationship with visa, and to master spending wisely, without the card, and not with the typical American Express approach."

Bottom line. Credit cards are dangerous. Few can use them wisely. Many end up wishing they didn't exist and that we could just buy what we can afford.

Be careful!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Financial Peace -- Message 2 Bullets

  • Today's message was a buffet...not fine dining. Gave lots of stuff to think about.
  • Psalm 81 was a passage we spent some time in. It seems to say 3 things: 1) stop putting things before God, 2) when you do, things will flop, and 3) if you WILL put God first, he will hook you and and have your back.
  • You don't have to give it, but you aint gonna keep it! God does not need your money. In fact, I don't even think he wants it. What he wants is YOU! He wants to be first in your world.
  • I gave people (who wanted one) a paper to take home that outlined Jesus's main teachings on giving and Paul's main teachings on giving. We ran out and had to copy more. If you want it, email me and I will send it to you.
  • When the money is funny, so is my honey. There are ways that we can help marriages struggling over money. Just let us know, so we can try to help. Don't suffer in silence.
Bishop Roderick Caesar is a Pastor in New York who shares these wise principles with his church on the regular:
  1. Tithe and pay your bills on time
  2. Save systematically and invest
  3. Spend responsible and within your means
  4. Don't buy what you don't mean
Tonight, I read about a church in South Carolina (New Spring Church) that started a series this morning called "Where's my Bailout." The Executive Pastor, Tony Morgan posted some of the highlights from what Lead Pastor, Perry Noble said in his message this morning. I found some of the things he said to be pretty interesting...and wild. Click here to read this!!


Pastor Killed

This is so unbelievably sad. A church of 1,000. Their Pastor was killed in front of them while preaching this morning. Let's pray for this Pastor's family and the church. God help them.

Here is the Fox News Article.

Here is the CNN Article.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Life Change!!!! And the wedding in our Living Room

There has been a story of life change unfolding at CCF that merits telling. So, with their permission, the story goes like this...
  • Lacreshia comes to CCF for the last 4 years. I baptized her 3 years ago (her baptism certificate is on her wall in her house). She has grown in her faith. And grown. And grown. Especially over the last year. She was in my Small Group. I am so proud of Lacreshia.
  • We started praying for her boyfriend, Maurice at the end of last year. He came to CCF the first Sunday of this year...and gave his life over to Jesus! As he has said repeatedly, "I just can't do this on my own anymore!"
  • On Sunday (yes, 6 days ago) I baptized Maurice! I want to scream Hallelujah right now as I am typing this!!!! God is so unbelievably good!
  • About a month back, Creshia and Moe (as I affectionately call them), came to me and said..."we were thinking maybe we should get married." I said YES!! God would be honored by that. We've done some premarital counseling and....
  • Today, I married them. In our living room! 6 days after baptizing Maurice. It was surreal. I'm pumped!
  • It was just us. Not a big crowd, but a big sense of God's favor and presence! After all, they reminded me that today was about them and the Lord and what he was doing in them, not about a crowd of people or a reception.
Tricia and I rallied around them and prayed while Selah exercised her wedding planning gifts with a special little wedding lunch. It was exquisite and really blessed Creshia and Moe...I know!

Below are a few pictures from the day. We sent them out the door carrying a CD with these and many more pics (yes, we even did a little photo shoot).

I love being a Pastor! You get to share life's most monumental moments with people. I thank God for what he is doing in Lacreshia and Maurice. There are so many more stories about what God is doing in other people as well and I wish I could share them all.

Praising God,


Community Living...what makes it work

Here are the things that we have found need to be in place for community living to work in the most healthy way:
  1. The right people. There are some people that you know you could just not live with. Don't, then! In fact, I think it is the rare relationships that DO work. Make sure that you only live with people that have somewhat similar lifestyle choices and that have some integrity. Without that, good luck!
  2. Talk about the fight before the fight not during the fight. Recognize what may be a tension in the future and plan for it. Name your concerns and address them before they are riddled with emotion in the heat of the moment.
  3. Pay in! Each party in the community living situation needs to pay into the expenses of the home. It needs to feel fair to all of you. Figure out the percentage, the monthly charge, who will pay what utility or percentage thereof, what the deal will be with grocery bills, etc.
  4. Help out! The responsibilities around the pad need to shared or it can get really annoying.
  5. Develop a written and signed living/rental agreement. Allow it to speak to everything that seems important to each party...where you park, cable, internet, how having guests over will work, reevaluation period, etc.
  6. Meet regularly. Yes, an official and scheduled meeting to discuss what is going good and what is not going so good. Keep it real. Like: "When your friends come over with their loud children it can be very frustrating." OR "The fact that you all are not taking the trash out is killing me." If you cannot verbalize the things that frustrate you, you will start looking for ways to end the living situation.
Perhaps there are other things. Can you think of any? Leave a comment. Also, I would love to hear from anyone who is doing or has done this community living thing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Community Living

Community Living: Living in the same house as family or friends...each in your own space but sharing common areas (unless you have a mansion).

Been wanting to share about this topic for while. Here is a little about what Tricia and I have learned and are seeing happening around us.
  • Tricia and I have done community living about half of our marriage so far (A college dorm, her sister Melyssa and My sister and brother-in-law, Selah and Randy.)
  • Selah and Randy currently live in the upstairs of our home. It is a great set-up.
  • My parents and my brother and his family have recently moved into one home as well.
  • We are fans of community living and have not regretted a minute of it yet! But, you have to know how to wisely start it and wisely maintain it or it can be a mess!
  • The amount of people needing to enter into community living across America is rapidly increasing (I have read some crazy increased stats recently). It is much more common in many other countries. American individualism and materialism have driven us all to have our own everything. Now, American "poorness" is forcing many people to move in together (some are calling it "recession divorce"). It is even forcing divorced couples to live together in separate rooms in many cases.
In a later post, I will share:
  1. Positive things that we have learned that make this work.
  2. Some of the many benefits to community living.
  3. Some ways to make it fail if not paid attention to.

Davis doing laundry

Please don't turn us into CPS...he asked for it and he loved it. We didn't shut the door or turn it on. Wasn't that kind of us?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Power in Partnership (Guest Blogger, Pastor TC)

Saturday, February 28th, 2009 R.E.A.L. Teens (our CCF youth group) partnered with the Duval H.S. Gospel Choir to put on a gospel concert as a fundraiser for a Spring college tour. It was a time of high praise as choirs and praise ensembles came together with dancers and rap artists to give God the glory. 600 people were in the building at once (the worship center holds 400) and the energy was everywhere. The night saw myself, Pastor TC a.k.a. ASON (www.bigsonny.com shameless plug here) debut new songs with my wife singing along me. The true highlight of the night though was when a young man from Duval’s Gospel Choir sang until praise broke out all over the room. This from a public high school choir! Special thanks to the young men and women of the PG County Youth Explorers (Dist 1) who provided security and also to the many teenage and adult volunteers who worked diligently to make the evening a stunning success!