Golfer shows extreme integrity

Veteran golfer, J.P. Hayes, turned himself in for using a golf ball not approved for play by the United States Golf Association.? In doing so, it disqualified him from the Q-School tournament and he did not get a coveted 2009 PGA tour card.? There are many articles and blog posts about this event when you do a Google search. There is also a great discussion on Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio here.

I played golf on my high school golf team (Go Chiefs!!–That’s for Ronnie!).? With those experiences, I learned a lot of lessons about integrity and life.? I also learned that the game of golf is officiated by each player and there is the possibility for a lot of cheating to take place.? I had an experience one time during a match where an opponant’s father was watching the match.? He came up to his son after we left the green and told him something.? The player then told the guy with the score card that he had not properly marked his ball on the putting green and would need to take a two stroke penalty.? Amazing couple of minutes for sure.? Turns out that his team needed those strokes to win and they lost the match.? Again, there is a ton of stories like this that come out of sports, especially golf.

So, for the weekend hacker, don’t kick your ball from behind the tree, play “winter rules” in the middle of the summer, take a mulligan every hole, and the list goes on and on.? Play the game with integrity and most importantly–enjoy the game!? Enjoy the day that the Lord has made!? Enjoy the people you are playing with (though it is extremely difficult at times!). Enjoy this terrible, horrible, exellent, frustrating game we call golf!

When have you seen someone show integrity when no one would have known?

First Cars

Here is a picture of a car we saw at Maple Leaf. It is the exact same car that was my dad’s first car.

My first car, “The Silver Bullet,” was a 1980 Chevrolet ‘Vette–Chevette that is! It was silver that looked like primer or a homemade paint job with rattle cans–or both! The best part was that it was a standard transmission. Sweetness!

What was your first car? What funny stories or memories do you have of that car?

Do you hear what I hear? Probably not.

It is pretty funny (ironic rather than “ha ha”) that every time I seem to feel like I am getting along better as a leader, husband, father, friend, etc., the Lord always tightens the screws a bit and makes me better!? The problem with that is that it, most of the time, is a painful process of humility and putting others ahead of myself and my agenda.? This is the same idea that Christ talked about to his disciples–that we ought to serve other people, that we ought to put others first in all things.? Why?? We ought to serve others and be humble because he served us and humbled himself “even to death on a cross.”? (Phil. 2:8)? He is the ultimate leader and every time I get to thinking I am figuring this stuff out, he lays another nugget of truth on me!

One of the HUGE concepts that God is laying on my plate these days is learning how to listen.? There is a difference between listening and having a person “be heard.”? I think I am a good listener–just ask me!!? We all would probably say the same thing, wouldn’t we?? But maybe we ought to ask those around us if THEY think we are a good listener.? But be careful, as in my situation, the Lord will allow those people to be TOTALLY honest with you and you just might not like what you are hearing!

So we have a choice.? We can deny the problem exists of our lack of listening to people, or we can allow God to shape and mold us into the kind of leaders we were called to be.? For me, it is going to be a pretty long journey of conversations asking if I am a good listener. . . i.e. “do you feel like I ‘heard’ you?”? I am also quite certain that this process of becoming a better leader and listener is going to include me becoming more humble–realizing that only with Christ’s help can I be better.? It is also quite certainly going to include some apologies for a lack of “honor” that I have not given to those I serve alongside each day.? Jesus called us to love our neighbor as ourselves.? I think I’ve got the loving myself down!? I even love to hear myself talk sometimes!? Now God is shaping me into truly learning how to lead–in love.? All the while, making sure that all around me are “being heard.”

When are some times when you thought you heard, but really didn’t hear at all?

Happy Birthday Jenny!

Today, November 13th, a Friday that year, my beautiful bride was born!? The older we get, the more I respect and love her!? Something happens when you move past the trite, sappy sayings and you go through wonderful, horrible, amazing, crazy times together and really begin to grow together as soul mates.

The last year has been “one of those years” for me and therefore probably for Jenny.? I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have her encouraging and loving me through some pretty dark times.? I am not one of those romantic guys–mainly because it is hard to be romantic when you are the class clown and village idiot!? However, I do cry at movies . . . (and even some commercials.)? I just love when the appropriate words are spoken at just the right moment!

I know that most people who read blogs (especially guys) are going to be “throwing up in their mouth” to coin a phrase by Kevin Stratton when the read further, so be forewarned!? I always hate it when guys gush over their wives . . . especially on their blogs.? But . . . honestly this next few lines aren’t for you, they are for Jenny, but I want and need to say publicly (or at least for the 5 and a half people who read this thing!)? This year was a little different as I surprised her pretty early with a present, so this goes as a card . . . and will last as long as I have this blog.

I really don’t know how I would make it without you!? Keeping me grounded when I need to be grounded.? Encouraging me to soar to great heights when I don’t feel like I can get off the ground.? Loving me, especially in those “unlovely” times.? Being an awesome mom to two amazing boys!? Making me laugh at myself and helping me not take myself too seriously.

You are the best and I am so grateful to have such a wonderful companion and friend in my life!? Happy Birthday!? I love you!

Refocus On Podcast

My buddy next door, Gabe Lett, is a counselor and life coach.? He has a new life coaching business called Refocus, Inc. that coincides along with the Life Transformation Center that he runs his counseling business through.? He asked me a couple of weeks ago if I would be willing to have a conversation with him about “Revolutionary Christianity” on a podcast.? Basically, it is a discussion of the book Revolution, by George Barna.? I jumped at the chance to talk with him (I know many of you find that hard to believe that I love to talk!)? Here is a link to the podcast online.? You can also go on his website, and subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.? Enjoy.

I really like Gabe and his heart for helping people and connecting them to the Church.? He has a lot of great ideas and is a great young leader in the Church.? He is also an author of Let’s Get Together: Building Community In The Church. You can get it here.? Trust me, he didn’t have me say that and I don’t get any kickbacks for this advertisement (I should though. . . just kidding!).

Golden Testimony

We are in the final stages of our Generations Campaign at our church.? It is a capital fund raising campaign, yes.? But what I am finding it to be is a “faith raising” campaign.? I know for sure that our faith has been challenged for sure.? Jenny and I have neither one been through a campaign like this, so we are definitely “newbies.”? I have heard stories about couples praying seperately and then coming together to the penny, etc.? I always thought those kinds of stories were from super spiritual people and would never happen to me.? We actually had that happen as well to us this time around–pretty crazy.? I actually didn’t want to say what I had in mind because it was a huge stretch, so I asked Jenny what she thought first.? (Some people call it a lack of guts, I simply call it diplomacy!)

All along the way, however, there have been AWESOME testimonies come in about God’s moving in our church.? Here is yet another unbelievable, creative I might add, testimony of what some of our folks have done to give to this campaign.? Got this tonight from our pastor in an email . . .

Dear Generations Team,

Yesterday, we got an unusual gift from an anonymous donor.? The letter said,

“We felt like this offering needed a letter of explanation. Enclosed you will find a portion of our offering to the Generations Campaign. We have both been previously married and at one time these were a symbol to us of a person’s love and commitment to us and God. We both took our vows with commitment, but later in life, found that our former spouses did not. The results of our divorces left us feeling little self worth, but the Lord never gave up on us.? We were worth His life. We are priceless

Some time later the Lord led us to FPBC where we met through the singles ministry and became friends.? We were married here and gave each other new rings that symbolize our love?We have asked ourselves what we could do with our old rings. They are worthless to us, but the Lord could make them worth something for His kingdom.? Please accept them as a portion of our offering to the Generations Campaign.? We pray the Lord uses this offering to heal the broken, return the lost, and reveal His children’s worth to them.”

Attached is a picture of the rings.

I’m excited about Sunday.? I believe it is going to be a miraculous day!

Much love!


Thoughts on Obama’s Acceptance Speech

A friend of mine, a church planter in Jefferson City, Marc Backes, just wrote an awesome post on the powerful images of community in President-Elect Obama’s speech last night.? Go here to read the full post.? But here are some nice exerpts . . .

Parts of his acceptance speech last night struck me in one very unique way. They resonated with a powerful Biblical theme and they went to the very core of why I think the church is struggling to stay relevant with younger generations of people.

And so last night as I watched Obama give his speech, I was struck by one thing. There was a deep thread of community woven throughout the speech. Once again, I?m going on the face value of the comments and making no commentary about them. Here?s a couple key excerpts:

It?s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Sounds a lot like ?every tribe, every nation, every tongue? doesn?t it? The church isn?t made up of rich, poor, Jew or Gentile. We are the church.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other??In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people??to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can?t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

As you watched last night, and as the American people indicated by their votes (regardless of whether you think rightly or wrongly), that sense of call to community resonated. And I think it?s resonating in a deep way in the hearts of people who are tired of going to church and feeling alone. Who are tired of struggling to be good Christ followers and believing that they have no one they can turn to. Who are ready for the church to be a place where we truly do love, honor, welcome, greet, serve, teach, admonish, sing, support, encourage, forgive, bear the burdens of, and fellowship with one another all unto the Glory of God?.

OK, so not a few excerpts, because I felt it necessary to get you folks who don’t follow links to read the meat of his thoughts!

I can recall a time when my friend, Daniel Scott and I were eating at an establishment down in Galloway that there was so much community there it was scary!? The problem was that it wasn’t the true kind of community that a group of people might have with Christ in the center of the community.? I remember thinking that there has got to be a way for the Church, the True Community, ought to be like that community–at least in it’s acceptance and love that seemed to be there in that place.

The problem, I think, (and what our small group studied on Monday night) is that we as believers have become so concerned that people do the right things that we focus on the externals.? What we really ought to focus on, as the old evangelists used to say “focus on what Christ has done.”? We need to focus on our own depravity that has been washed clean by the blood of Christ and begin to be a unifying force for real, lasting change in our world.? But that starts with me . . . if I have the courage to love like Jesus loved.? That’s a tough start indeed.

“God Does Not Ride Elephants and Donkeys”

My dad always taught us that “a fool votes a straight ticket.”? I guess that comes from a political scientist though.? I am finding that statement much more appropriate the older I get.

I have read several blogs from a whole lot of people talking about the craziness that is the 2008 Presidential Campaign.? Some, like John Hill’s post on how hurtful people can be are discouraging indeed.? I have always had the idea since I have been in ministry that I will not publicly speak of who I am voting for, because (as in the 2004 election) most of the time, you basically ostracize half of the people right off the bat.? For me, there are far more important things than backing a political candidate–mainly to make sure the Kingdom of God is moving forward as far as it is up to me anyway.

I ran across this post a couple of weeks ago from a guy I really respect, Sam Shaw.? He used a quote from Tony Evans for the basis of the post and the title of this post–“God does not ride elephants and donkeys.”? Here is Sam’s post in it’s entirety because I felt it was that good.? In honor of Super Tuesday . . . Enjoy!

Yesterday, I met with the leadership of Mission Mississippi (Dolphus Weary and Neddie Winters). We talked about the presidential election and the need for Christians to be Christians first then Democrats or Republicans.

I will be challenging our church to?

1. Pray for the new president – be he Obama or McCain. The Bible commands us to pray for those in leadership (1 Timothy 2:1-2 – the king at that time was Nero, who was killing Christians). The next president needs our prayers – his responsibilities are overwhelming, the power of the office is head-turning, and the potential for great good or great evil is tremendous.

2. Love Christians who did not vote as we did. We do not have to see eye to eye in order to walk hand in hand.

Love means refusing to accuse or justify if things go bad. It means not judging another?s motives. It means deliberately reaching out to each other in good will and believing the best of each other. It means recognizing the bond we have is deeper than simply being Americans on different sides of the political spectrum.

Yesterday, I learned of a small group of Christians who have met together for 4 years. These are committed Christ-followers whom I respect and love. Now, they divided and losing their small group – simply because of differing political views. What a tragedy!

If you can?t love those Christians who disagree with you as brothers and sisters, then love your enemies!

3. Refuse to identify Christianity with any political party. It is incredibly dangerous and short-sighted. Just look at the confusion in Northern Ireland or Germany or Panama!

Both major parties in the USA have Biblical planks in their platforms. Both have Christians involved in the process. Both are seriously flawed, full of pride and selfish ambition.

Remember -the kingdom of God is bigger than a political party.

I love the way Tony Evans put it – ?God does not ride elephants and donkeys!?

Branson Trip Pics

Finally getting some pics up from our trip two weekends ago to Branson.? It was really good to get away after Parent Teacher Conferences on Thursday.? We are really proud of Taylor and his progress into a really cool, smart little boy!? It is nice to have an “easy” Parent Teacher Conference–not something that mom and dad probably had with me–Ha!

Our friend, Brian Hissink works at the Sight & Sound Theater in Branson as a Lighting guru (my term).? He got us four tickets to see Noah: The Musical.? It was really cool!? The second act after intermission, you are inside the ark–real and robot animals all over the place!? Lions, Tigers, Bears, oh my!!? Thanks again, Brian!!

Here are some pics from the weekend: