It’s About Options

It’s About Options

God is love (1 Peter 4:8) and love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4), so when we approach others, especially individuals who are not yet Christ-followers, we must do so with the patience, love, and grace our Heavenly Father grants us each day.

Recently in our small group, someone shared the story of how at work they include small devotionals (Bible verses) in the paychecks for their employees. This is such a great and impactful gesture to do as a business owner or manager because it expresses to the worker a personalized sense of both concern and gratitude for their contribution to the company’s success. I have so many amazing memories from my time in the Dominican Republic, and one that stands out is the delight we experienced when we included a hand-written note of appreciation in the paychecks of our staff members. To me, it was a novel exercise, but to our team, it was a heartfelt moment that lifted them up both as a collection of peers and as individuals.

My friend from our small group continued with his story about how they had just hired an employee who is Muslim. Given their practice of including devotionals with paychecks, he and his management team did not want to simply assume the new team member would be okay with this. Neither did they want to unilaterally exclude him from the practice. So my friend took it upon himself to have a conversation with this new employee and just ask; ask if it would be okay to include verses from the Christian Bible in his paycheck. He asked if he would be bothered or offended by the practice. My friend showed a genuine concern for his employee, granting him the option to participate (or not) in this company’s practice.

Some segments of our country would hold this up as succumbing to political correctness, and this story would be shared with a certain amount of disdain. Rather, I think it’s the perfect example of evangelism, reflecting God’s love, tenderness, and concern for our well-being. A relationship with Christ is something into which we’re invited, made possible first and foremost by Jesus’ death and resurrection, but also by those who came before us and evangelized the good news of Jesus’ gospel to us. It takes a follower to create a follower, and the great commission commands us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). Sometimes that ‘go’ is as simple as going and asking someone if it’s okay with them to receive a sprinkle of God’s love in their paychecks.

As an aside, another member of our group applauded the gesture, noting how much better our nation would be if everyone would apply a gentle approach to sharing their faith and discussing their differences.

Evangelism is not about Bible-thumping. Evangelism is not about the cliché combination of megaphones, sandwich boards, and vitriolic condemnation. Evangelism is loving a stranger and extending an invitation to something new, an invitation that starts with transformation and leads to eternal salvation. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. And it’s a choice I pray every human being is given the option to make.

Adult Times Two

Adult Times Two

For the longest time, this date felt so very far away.

Parenting is an interesting journey. You start off, for the most part, not knowing what you’re doing, and you pray a lot that you mostly get it right and avoid those huge mess-ups that can be life-altering. Then as you get older, you start to think about how wonderful it would have been back then to have the information you’ve accumulated in your head for so many years.

I like to think I did okay with my children given I actually did jump head-first into a huge mess up when they were little. That being the case, I am blessed to have to two healthy and amazing kids that are on their way to being adults and living their lives.

Actually … they’re there already.

Today is my son’s 18th birthday. He is my youngest, and I now stand at this point in my life where I am the father of two adults. It’s a weird feeling and one that – truth be told – kinda’ snuck up on me. It’s weird in that there are only two things I feel I’ve left to do as a parent.

The first is to continue to advise my children as they continue to learn and grow. I once heard someone say you stop being a parent when your kids are thirteen or fourteen and from then on you’re just a consultant. I think there is a lot of truth to that, which leads me to the second thing I’ve left to do. Pray all the advice and counsel I’ve provided my children has been sound and rooted in wisdom.

Specifically with my son Daniel, I’ve spent today looking back on the memories we’ve shared, mostly good but a couple of them painful. I think about all the times we’ve made each other laugh. I think about the times when he was small enough for me to toss him into the pool. I reminisce about all those weekend nights we’d stay up late playing video games. And I hang my hat on the series of heart-to-heart conversations he and I had this time last year as I was prepping to move to the Dominican Republic.

Uncle Jeff sends Danny flying back in 2007.

So on this milestone birthday, I think the only thing I can tell (continue to tell) my son is to love God, praise Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit guide him in all he does. There are so many good and relevant Bible verses I could select to use in this post, but I think I will go with the ever so wise words of the psalmist who is seeking direction, guidance, and provision on his journey:

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” – Psalms 119:105 NLT


Happy birthday, Daniel. These 500 words don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the pride and love I feel for you.

State of the Game

State of the Game

Last night, the Baylor Bears topped defending champs Notre Dame to win the NCAA women’s basketball championship. It is the third title for the Lady Bears and coach Kim Mulkey, and firmly plants the program among the elite in women’s college basketball.

Three hundred and fifty miles up the road from Baylor in Lubbock, Texas, lies the campus of Texas Tech University. Their men’s basketball squad will be looking to make it an all-Texas affair as they face off tonight against Virginia in the men’s NCAA title game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is the first appearance in the national championship game for the Red Raiders (as it is also for Virginia), and Tech has a Husky effort to bring a title to the Lone Star State in the same year as their peers at Baylor.

The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament was inaugurated in 1982, with the Lady Techsters of Louisiana Tech defeating Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 76-62 to claim the first title. In the thirty-seven years that have followed, there have been two times women’s and men’s teams from the same state have won the title in the same year. What makes this statistical nugget more interesting, however, is both instances occurred at the same university.

In 2004, Jim Calhoun won his second national title at the University of Connecticut, leading the Huskies to an 82-73 victory over Georgia Tech. That same year, Geno Auriemma guided the women’s team to a nine-point victory over Pat Summitt‘s Tennessee crew in the championship game. It was Auriemma’s fifth title at UCONN, his fourth in three years, and his third in a row. However, it was only the start of the dominant run for UCONN women’s basketball. Ten years later, Auriemma would secure his ninth title (he currently has eleven) with a victory over Notre Dame. In 2014, the UCONN men also played in the championship game, defeating Kentucky to give Kevin Ollie his first title and the fourth championship for the men’s program at Connecticut.

From left to right, Geno Auriemma, Jim Calhoun, and Kevin Ollie.

If you’re wondering how close other teams have come to accomplishing the in-state victory celebration, both squads from Duke University lost the title games in 1999. In 2011, the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team of Notre Dame secured the championship, while the men of Butler University lost to Jim Calhoun and UCONN. Notre Dame and Butler are both in Indiana. Two years later, as Rick Pitino‘s Louisville Cardinals cut down the nets in victory, Jeff Walz‘s Louisville women’s squad fell short to Auriemma’s Lady Huskies in the championship game.

Tonight, UVA is a 1.5 point favorite over Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders are playing like a proverbial team of destiny, and the Cavaliers have needed blunders on the part of their previous two opponents – Purdue and Auburn – to eke out victories and advance to the championship game. For Tech coach Chris Beard, he’s planning to ensure Kim Mulkey is not alone in celebrating in the Lone Star state.

Texas Tech’s Chris Beard. Photo via Yahoo Sports

It’s About Caring

It’s About Caring

I was speaking last night to another member of my church small group and we were discussing how we do not like shopping at a particular supermarket. It had nothing to do with the prices or product selection, but rather with the lack of care displayed by the employees of the store. As she was describing her experience, I nodded my head in understanding and told her I will always pay more if it means receiving the level of service I desire.

It’s amazing how much caring makes a difference.

My wife and I have been struggling to find employment, and the hardest part has been the empty void into which our applications seem to disappear. On occassion one of us will receive a notification saying the application is being reviewed, but then the waiting continues and frustration simply mounts.

This morning, however, I received an email from Johnson & Johnson. It was in response to an application I submitted yesterday. Yes …. YESTERDAY! As in, “J&J replied to my application within 24 hours!” Take that, empty void!

It was a rejection letter – to be honest, I knew I did not meet Johnson & Johnson’s requirements – but it was a letter crafted on a foundation of gratitude and empathy. Sure, perhaps J&J have the ability to automate responses. I would assume they receive thousands of applications on a daily basis. Still, someone at some point took the time to ensure a process is in place to respond to all applicants. And the genesis of that decision making is a genuine concern for the human being who submitted the application.

Johnson & Johnson cares about the individuals seeking employment in their organization. If you read their Credo, you’ll know they care about a whole lot more, too. In reading their email this morning, I honestly felt they cared about me.

We appreciate your interest in joining Johnson & Johnson. When you submit your application to us, we look for certain minimum requirements essential for the role. Though your achievements are impressive, they didn’t exactly line up with what we’re looking for in this particular job. For example, you may not have met the required years of experience, education or other minimum requirements.

We understand that being rejected is always disappointing no matter how far along you’ve made it in the process. But, don’t let it hold you back. Your relationship with Johnson & Johnson doesn’t end here and there are some things you can do to open yourself up to other possibilities: ….

We wish you the best of luck as you continue your search and we hope that this won’t be the last time we cross paths.

Who wouldn’t want to work for a company like this?

And now all I keep thinking about is how this sense of compassion aligns with my personal belief system. Compassion is such an undervalued sentiment in our fast-paced, instant gratification world. As a Christ follower, I firmly believe compassion is the currency with which we should transact every interaction.

In the NASB version of the Bible, the word compassion appears 92 times. Matthew uses it seven times in his gospel, often to refer to the emotion Jesus felt for the people to whom he was teaching.

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.Matthew 9:6

When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.Matthew 14:14

And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”Matthew 15:32

Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.Matthew 20:34

To paraphrase Andy Stanley, other people should be important to you because they are important to God. And when times are tough, make the time to give your empathy and express your compassion to those who really need it. Show them you care, because it may be the very thing they need in that moment.

I really think this quote from Brene Brown best illustrates the importance of compassion.

Finding Home

In July 2015, my wife Lee traveled to Eutaw, Alabama, to serve on a domestic mission trip. On her way to Eutaw, she stopped in her hometown of Dothan to share some time with family. Her cousin Kathy invited Lee to join her and her husband at church, and with that Lee was introduced to Wiregrass Church.

Fast forward three and a half years and one heartbreaking missionary stint in the Dominican Republic; Lee and I found ourselves settling into a new life in Dothan, Alabama, and starting over. While in the D.R., however, I had spent many hours listening to Andy Stanley and his sermons via his Your Move podcast. I became captivated not only by Andy’s communication style, but also by his consistent message of keeping Christ first in your life. I knew this is what I wanted in my life in terms of continued spiritual growth.

Having remembered her previous experience at Wiregrass and that Wiregrass is a partner Andy Stanley’s North Point Church in Atlanta, Lee suggested we begin attending Wiregrass Church. The first service we attended was December 23, and from the very beginning we felt invited, loved, and accepted. We met briefly with Pastor Adam Roberson, which led to a follow-up meeting about Lee and me getting plugged into serving at Wiregrass by leading a small group.

We’ve been attending Wiregrass Church for two months now and it’s been absolutely amazing. It feels great to have a church home in which we can reset and continue to process our experiences – both good and bad – from the mission field. It’s a blessing to have a community of believers with whom we can connect, grow, and lean on. By directing us to Wiregrass Church, God resolved my worries and anxieties about starting this new chapter of my life.

God is faithful and wonderful, and I believe He has great things planned for Lee and me. And I believe those plans all start with us diving into worship, fellowship, and community at Wiregrass.

Meet Me On the Mountain – Jill Briscoe

Meet Me On the Mountain – Jill Briscoe

My wife Lee participated this past weekend listening to the presenters of the 2019 IF:Gathering. I happened to come into the room as Jill Briscoe was presenting.

Jill shared this amazing poem, and I simply felt compelled to share it with others. It’s such a beautiful reminder of our need to give all of of heart to Jesus.

You can find the original posting of this poem on the Telling the Truth website.


Meet Me On the Mountain by Jill Briscoe

Have you met Him at the lakeside
   Did you hear His still, small voice?
Did He call you there to follow Him,
   And said, “You have a choice”?
And did half of you say, “Yes, Lord,”
   And have half a mind to start?
Did you think He didn’t notice
   When you gave Him half your heart?

He saw it on the day
   He met disciples on the mount;
And gave them all another chance
   to make their whole lives count.
Some said that day, “What comes
   my way, Oh, Lord, I’ll do my part,
Dear Lord, I’ll be obedient
   and give you all my heart!”

I’ll love for you and speak for truth
   and tell the Gospel story
I’ll live from this day forward
   to give you all the glory.
Where e’er you send me—use me send me—
   I will speak for you,
Help me glorify your name—be with me—
   see me through!

So as we leave the mountain top
   Will you go for Him or stay?
Continue on half-heartedly
   or give it all away?
Will you yield yourself from this day on
   Receive the Spirit’s call?
Say Jesus, “I give all to you,
   Not half my heart—MY ALL!”

Starting Over

Starting Over

We are not designed to do life alone.

In the years since I first began attending Relevant Church in Tampa in 2009, this is one lesson I’ve learned in earnest. A large part of my growth as a Christ follower has been a result of sharing my journey with others. Volunteering, taking part in small groups, serving on mission trips; the fellowship I’ve shared with others and the time I’ve invested for others has brought me closer to Jesus in ways I didn’t know were possible.

Being a part of my church community gave me the desire to learn more about God. It was during a small group back in 2013 I came to the realization I was being called into ministry. Having the support of my faith family gave me the strength to press through the notification of being laid off after twenty-one years with my previous employer. Being surrounded by individuals with whom I’ve laughed, shared, cried, and prayed gave me the courage to step out in faith and move into the mission field.

The journey to the Dominican Republic was both exciting and eye-opening. My wife Lee and I learned a lot and grew a lot. Unfortunately, the experience came to end after only five months of being in the D.R. We came back home with heartache and longing, as well as a lot of uncertainty as to what the next chapter in our lives look like.

We had to start over. New city. New surroundings. New situation.

Same steadfast, faithful, loving God.

Upon prayerful reflection and a time of discernment, Lee and I decided to make Dothan home. God answered our prayers by directing us to Wiregrass Church and giving us the opportunity to plug into this new church home. Additionally, we are blessed to have the privilege of leading a small group. Fittingly, the topic of the group is Starting Over, and we will be diving into Andy Stanley’s four-part sermon series of the same name.

Lee and I have been attending Wiregrass since just before Christmas, and it’s safe to say we know all of five people at the church. Still, we’re confident this experience will introduce us to new individuals we hope to learn from and lean on as much as we also hope to direct and steer the conversations and discussions in our small group. By no means do Lee and I feel we have all the answers, and it’s our prayer that in community and fellowship with the other participants, God will bless us with some insight as to what our next steps look like.

If you’re in the Wiregrass area and you feel you’d like someone to stand by you as you go through your Starting Over moment, I invite you to prayerfully consider joining our small group. We will meet on Sunday’s at 11:00 AM at Wiregrass Church, and you can conveniently sign up online by clicking here.

We hope to meet you soon.