Thursday, January 29, 2009

Failed Co-Mission

I am sitting here in Costa Rica on a balcony looking out to the Pacific with lush greenery, amazing Condos and homes spread around this beautiful resort, Reserva Conchal. Yet within miles of this place it still has much poverty and the need of Jesus.

It reminded me of the American church scene. We are building opulent ‘ghettos’ in the midst of suffering and poverty. We can hide out in our ‘resorts’ and soon forget why we are really here.

The American church scene is full of destruct, reconstruct, makeovers, get back to the basics, new models, new generation paradigms, build it bigger and they will come, have ‘rock concert’ performances and call it worship, etc. all trying to make the church better (?) and getting sidetracked in the process. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars are spent on conferences to teach us how to do it better, tear it down and redo it, criticize the current ones, establish new models, etc. Not to mention the countless man hours wasted getting to these conferences then sitting there dialoging about it all. There are even people who want to get paid to strategize, talk, dream and attend conferences. They want me to pay for a lifestyle of meaningless activity that falls short of producing any meaningful change for the Kingdom of God.

We have become a Mars Hill experience and are in danger of erecting a monument to the ‘unknown god’ because we have forgotten Him, His commands and His power. Forgetting that Jesus said He would build His church we have tried to contextualize it, homogenize it, strategize it, box it and then sell it.

My prayer is that all the naysayers will get off their big butts and get back to the stuff. If we don’t the world will still perish on our watch.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On My Way!! Costa Rica-

Debi and I, her Parents- Harry and Arleen, our son Ryan and his wife Charity are on our way today to Costa Rica. Jason is on another flight later on today. We will spend the week in preparation for Jason's wedding. He will be married to a beautiful girl Lina-

I will be doing the wedding on Saturday, Jan 31, 2009. This pic above shows the facilities where the wedding will take place. I am pumped!

Also, I will down mega gallons of Costa Rican coffee while there. Life is rough! No good! No great!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This Baby Not Aborted!

President Obama should be thankful today that he is still here - the odds were against him - many declare this enough to abort a viable human baby. Life begins at Conception!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tumbleweeds or a Sequoia?

I like this time of the year. It is a season of new things, new promises, new goals, and new determination. The church gets especially blessed as members make a new effort to attend regularly and many guests are attending looking for a church and a place to fulfill their new goals.

It is like the following Sundays after ‘Black Tuesday’ September 11, 2001. Attendance at churches spiked dramatically across the nation. We too had a great increase in attendance here at The Vine. Bible sales went up 28%. Many people had spiritual questions. But, it didn’t last! Why? Our sense of urgency didn’t last. President Bush did keep us from another attack. He sacrificed his popularity and Presidency on protecting you and me. I salute and honor him.

It will be the same again in a few weeks as our promises and goals fade. Soon we’re back to work, back to PTA meetings, soccer matches, carpooling, and yard work. Although we were sincere at the time about seeking God, slowly our motivation dissipates.

Do you know what makes tumbleweeds so susceptible to the wind? Tumbleweeds only put down one root, and that root is very shallow. So tumbleweeds are easily uprooted when the wind blows. Soon the tumbleweed is blowing wherever the wind pushes it, without any sense of direction or stability.

Contrast tumbleweeds with a tree, like a sequoia, that puts down lots of roots and these roots go deep. Even in the midst of strong winds, sequoias stand firm, because their root structure is strong and deep.

Is your spiritual life more like tumbleweeds or a sequoia? If you only have one or two roots in your spiritual life and these roots don’t go very deep, you’re more like tumbleweeds. And when the winds of life come, the winds of suffering and tragedy, or the breeze of business and routine, you’ll be easily uprooted. But if you have deep spiritual roots, you’ll find yourself standing firm no matter what comes into your life.

How deep are your roots? Are you more like tumbleweeds or a sequoia?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

News You Can Use- and laugh at!

Is it just me or was this funny or what?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wingsuit Base Jumping-

What are you doing today with your free time?

thanks Ryan--

Monday, January 19, 2009

Toddler Preaching!

This young guy is getting an early start- may not be able to understand him, but he knows how to hold a mic and has the moves!


you can see the link here

Friday, January 16, 2009

Staying the Course!

The testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:3 NAS

I have been preaching a series on 'Staying the Course' here at the church over the past few weeks. It means that we need to start right, finish right, and abide in your calling. There is a fourth aspect that carries us on between starting and finishing and that is staying the course.

Many of you know that I have run 5 marathons- 3 Blue Angel Marathons in Pensacola, FL; Vulcan Marathon in Birmingham, AL; and the New York City Marathon. I know a little about endurance and staying the course.

Endurance means "staying the course." But endurance is only a word until you have to deal with a strife-torn marriage, the long road back from bankruptcy, divorce or illness, the rebuilding of your life, or the required preparation for success in any field. It takes commitment to keep going when friends fail you, discouragement whispers "give up," and doubt says "it can't be done." That's when endurance takes on new meaning. It becomes your anchor in the storm, your compass in times of confusion, and the head of steam that gets you up the next hill (ie. the many hills of the Vulcan Marathon!)

2 Ti 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. NIV

Staying the course is important for the Christian. We must complete our race! Paul told Timothy that he had run his race and was ready to receive the crown. So it is important that we finish well. But in the process we find there is an advantage for others who are watching us. There was not a single sidewalk in New York City Marathon that did not have people lining them cheering us on. They are encouraged as they watch our response to trials, disappointments, and the ability that we show them to stay the course.

Paul writes, "People are watching us as we stay at our post… working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness and honest love; when we're telling the truth… when God's showing His power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God… immersed in tears yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all" (2 Corinthians 6:3-10 TMB).

That's called "staying the course." We all are called to endure and stay the course.

What do people see when they watch you?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Abiding in The Vine in 2009

Ever have trouble with certain passages of scripture? Passages that maybe you wish God hadn’t put in the Bible? There are passages that can be very difficult to understand.

Case in point. “Anyone born of God does not sin.” (1 John 3: 9) When I became a Christian, the Holy Spirit entered my existence and began convicting me of sin. He showed me again and again, day after day; just how much was in my life that shouldn't be there. I was only saved about 6 months when I ran across this one. My world came crashing down. I was really bothered with this one!

I must not be truly saved! It must not have taken! Why, because I was still dealing with sin and this said ‘anyone born of God does not sin’ period! Or so I thought. Was John saying, OK, folks, I have my doubts about a few of you; some of you might not be saved. I'm pretty sure a few of you are really lost. In fact, here's how we can tell who are the phonies among you are: those of you who still sin, you're not saved?

I went to see a pastor about it, and he explained to me that the Greek verb was in the present tense and indicated "on-going" sin, and he showed me how other translations rendered the verse differently: "No one born of God practices sin (NASV)." "No one born of God will continue to sin (NIV)."

Oh, I thought, he's not talking about one sin. He's talking about on-going, continuous sin. Guess what? It didn't make me feel better. I still qualified for John's exclusion. I "continued to sin." I had been living the Christian life for six months, and I was still sinning every day. I thought, If no one born of God continues to sin, that rules me out. I must not be saved. I became convinced that my conversion didn't work. It didn't take!

I now understand when he says, "No one born of God continues to sin"—that's not a threat; it's a promise. He's not trying to make his readers doubt their salvation; he's trying to give them hope. He's saying: You belong to God, we've already established that. And since you have been born of God, you won't continue to sin. You can be free of its grip. “And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins.” (v. 5)

John tells us in verse 6: "No one who abides in him sins." When you're abiding in Jesus—the word abide means to remain or reside—you cannot practice sin. When you're abiding in Jesus, or as John also calls it, walking in the light as he is in the light, the Holy Spirit convicts your heart of every thought and action that comes between you and God. You cannot continue in that thought or action. Your new nature—the life of God that is in you—will rise up against it.

There's a difference between being saved and abiding in Jesus. You received salvation when you invited Jesus Christ to come into your life and forgive you of your sin. It's a one-time event; it's an act of God that you receive by faith. But that's not where the God part of our lives ends. It's where it begins. Those who have been saved are called to abide in Jesus.

What does this mean and how do you do it? Here's what it means to abide in Jesus: It means acknowledging His presence in everything you do, and yielding to His leadership at every turn. Brother Lawrence called it practicing the presence of God. Bill Bright called it ‘spiritual breathing.’ It's receiving God's presence in your life each day, each moment of the day. John says "no one born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him" because the seed that God has placed in your life will continue to grow, continue to mature, continue to blossom, until the image of Jesus Christ is fully developed in your life.

Abiding in Christ means that God has to be inside of us and we have to be inside of Him!

We are God's people. He has put His life in us so that we can experience power over sin and can be changed into the image of Christ.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Great Staff Retreat 2009

We had a great time at our annual Vine Fellowship Staff Retreat. We travelled to Glen Rose TX to the Riverbend Retreat Center. Great facilities, we stayed in their new motel like rooms and the meeting room was a kitchen/meeting room. Auto coffee machine that even made espresso shots. We kept it active.

I taught on Pastoral Care: Do's and Don'ts; How NOT To Abuse God's People; and Pastoral Care Land Mines. We then worshiped and prayed for each other. Closed the evening by playing a game and eating junk food.

On Saturday, we dialogued about the vision for the Vine in 2009. Good and productive discussion led by Pastor Rob.

And of course, a stop at Hammond's BBQ on the way home! Did anybody mention besides the great BBQ their Peanut Butter Cream Pie?

Love to hang with our staff, great people, great servants, great men and women of God!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thoughts on Diet--

Great Reads for the Health Conscious

Diet, not exercise, plays key role in weight loss.
click here-

Think these 8 foods are healthy? Wrong!
click here-

Flat Belly Diet-
If you've been unsuccessful in losing weight around your middle, here's some good news! The key ingredients found in the Flat Belly Diet—"MUFAs" (monounsaturated fatty acid—a healthy fat!) hold the power to truly change your body and specifically target hard-to-lose belly fat. Pair these fabulous foods with a reduced-calorie eating plan and you’ll slim down where you want to—your belly.

Here, 10 belly-fat-fighting superstars:

The MUFAs and vitamin E in almonds work together to cut cholesterol. Almonds are also a great source of vegetable protein and fiber.
Eating Tip: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of almonds over low-fat unsweetened yogurt and berries for an energizing morning meal.

Avocados, a great source of heart-healthy MUFA, contain more of the cholesterol-smashing beta-sitosterol than any other fruit.
Eating Tip: Mash a ¼ cup Hass avocado with lime juice, salt and pepper and serve with baked chips or raw vegetables.

Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Chocolate or, more specifically, cocoa powder made from ground, defatted cocoa beans, contains compounds that have the potential to protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Eating Tip: Melt ¼ cup of dark or semi-sweet chocolate. Drizzle over fresh strawberries for a belly-flattening dessert.

Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil is the best plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and helps reduce systemic inflammation, which researchers believe may lead to heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating Tip: Stir 1 tablespoon into a smoothie as a healthy afternoon snack.

Macadamia Nuts
Adding nuts and seeds to your diet can yield heart-health benefits. Macadamia nuts also contain fiber to help with digestion.
Eating Tip: Crush 2 tablespoons macadamia nuts. Dip one 3-ounce portion of chicken breast or 4 ounce piece of fish in low-fat milk, then press nuts to adhere. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-20 minutes or until done.

Natural Peanut Butter
A serving of peanut butter contains the antioxidant vitamin E, bone-building magnesium, muscle-friendly potassium, and immunity-boosting vitamin B6.
Eating Tip: Toss a half-cup of whole grain noodles with 3 oz cooked shrimp, minced scallions, and ¼ cup sliced red bell pepper. Dress with a mixture of 2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp warm water and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

Olive Oil
Olive oil is the best all around for cooking and salads because it contains mostly MUFA, which lowers "bad" LDL cholesterol without affecting "good" HDL cholesterol. The greener the oil, the more antioxidants, so go for extra-virgin.
Eating Tip: Basil pesto and sundried tomato paste are also good sources of olive oil.

Pistachios contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that help protect against age-related macular degeneration.
Eating Tip: Stir 2 tablespoons toasted pistachios into ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese with 2 teaspoons honey and 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips for a sweet snack.

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are packed with B vitamins, which play an important role in protecting against inflammation—and they're an excellent source of vitamin E. Sunflower seeds are also great for curbing hunger.
Eating Tip: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of toasted sunflower seeds in your salad.

Like seafood and flaxseed, walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect your heart and preserve brain health. If you're nuts about walnuts, try this easy snack: Mix 1/2 cup (4 oz) canned pineapple into 1/2 cup cottage cheese. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of walnuts for only 325 calories.
Eating Tip: Add a MUFA to your favorite salad by adding 2 tablespoons of roasted walnuts.

Happy right eating in 2009!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Okay, one more humorous blog on exercise- really this is the last! Have a Happy (and healthful) New Year!

~ I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently, you have to show up.
~ If God meant us to touch our toes, he would have put them further up our body.
~ I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.
~ If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.
~ The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.
~ I don't jog. It makes the ice jump right out of my glass.
~ I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
~ I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I'm doing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Exercise Routine for 2009????


~ Jumping on the bandwagon
~ Wading through paperwork
~ Running around in circles
~ Pushing your luck
~ Spinning your wheels
~ Adding fuel to the fire
~ Beating your head against the wall
~ Climbing the walls
~ Beating your own drum
~ Dragging your heels
~ Jumping to conclusions
~ Grasping at straws
~ Fishing for compliments
~ Throwing your weight around
~ Passing the buck

Friday, January 02, 2009

Dreams and Visions- 2009 and Beyond-

Ahhh- another year! For some there is great anticipation. For others, another year of unfulfilled dreams and plans. Some are ready to give up on their dreams as they have not come about speedily. After all, that is the way it is supposed to happen, right?

We dislike delay! But think of Noah, a man who stood on the Word of God for over 100 years building an ark, a man who never saw rain until it came. Now that is a delay. We get nervous if we’re delayed a few months. Could you imagine over 100 years?

Hab 2:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. KJV

Things I have discovered about dreams and visions:
1. Each person has a dream and a destiny in life. God created you to do something better than anyone else. Not only were you born for a purpose, but also your destiny was all set up before you even knew about it.
2. Your dream provides the blueprint for your purpose in life. You can only be truly happy when pursuing your dream.
3. Your dream will only make sense when you have given your life to Jesus Christ.
4. God wants your dreams and desire to be fulfilled.
5. Dreaming takes courage to break free of past failures, satisfaction, and fears.
6. Dreams must be cultivated with prayer, praise, Bible study, and fellowship.
7. Dreams must be multiplied by generosity, service, love, and readiness to share Jesus with other people.
8. The Holy Spirit is your dream partner. A daily relationship with Him will revolutionize your life and propel you toward your dream.
9. There is a miracle in your house to make your dream possible. You have everything you need to start achieving your dream.
10. Dreams are lifelong endeavors. You must set your pace and never quit.

God has a plan and purpose for your life. Find out what it is and begin to follow it.

Remember- Ecclesiastes 7:8 “The end of a thing is better than its beginning…”