Thursday, April 30, 2009


I had back to back Mondays in which I failed in my goal of fasting one day a week. The first Monday I had a juicy hamburger shoved in my face at 6:30 in the evening and I gave in. The next Monday I had a fridge full of food leftover from a cookout the day before and caved again.
But this Monday, I got back on the wagon and made it through the day.
As a rule-follower like me, it's good to fail sometimes, it reminds me of God's grace.

And my fast on Monday was one of the best of the year. I'm FINALLY living out my 2009 resolution to hourly focus on God's presence (I'll blog about that soon) but being empty of food and filled with God's presence is a pretty good place to be.

My Debt Free Scream!

You can hear my Debt Free Scream from the Dave Ramsey Radio show at this link. Click on the archives tab, then find the Friday, April 24th show. Play the show in one of the media players and fastforward to the 1:20:09 mark.
My kiss-up at the beginning was to make him laugh so I could catch my breath. Talking on the radio with hundreds of thousands of people listening makes my hyperventilate...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dawson's Replacement

My son has been replaced. Not in my heart, mind you but as the youngest person in our church community. Sunday was the first Sunday in worship for Bryan and Tina Garner's two week old boy, Toby. As I looked at Toby, I heard the almost annoying cliche come out of my mouth, "was Dawson ever really that small." But I could help but wonder that aloud, it's amazing how small they are at first and how fast they grow. My boy is weighing a full 12 pounds now. He's getting fat rolls.


Though we've been talking with her about it for several months, Erin and I "officially" became godparents for Ryder Talamatez on Sunday, as Franci presented Ryder for baptism.
Ryder's the oldest kid I'd ever baptized or dedicated, which also made him the loudest. Franci was holding her mic before the baptism but Ryder got ahold of it and sang at the top of his lungs during the whole worship set. He didn't stop when the music stopped, though, he sang through the entire baptism liturgy, even while his mom was sharing with the church what God is doing in her heart. I don't know where Ry gets it, it's not like there's any performance genes in his body or anything.
I always have the parents give a blessing or pray for their child (unless they're terrified of public speaking), so Franci shared what God's doing in her heart and why she's baptizing Ryder. She shared that since meeting us last summer as director of The Music Man, Erin and I have been a huge influence in her life; being there for her and helping her struggle with questions about faith. Even though she's still not quite sure what to believe, she's baptizing Ryder because she wants for her son what she sees in our lives. She asked us to be his godparents because she wants Ryder to choose Christ and wants us to be there to help him with that decision.
Because Ryder was going to town in the mic, Franci wasn't able to share everything she'd planned to say. But she told Erin later about how she'd wished she could've shared why she's baptizing Ryder at TFC. Basically, it's because she's spent time in our church and trusts us and wants this to be the church where Ryder learns about Christ. She had high praise for what she's experienced at TFC.
When a good friend of ours who is on a journey toward truth finds TFC to be an inviting and safe place, well, that makes me VERY proud of our church.
Ryder's dad, Chris, had a bunch of family there, too. Many of them shared afterwards that they were glad to know Ryder had us as his godparents. I kept quite the response in my head, "you obviously don't know me very well." Quite a few of the family members were also thanking me for the message, that it helped them take some steps toward God.
I must say, it was a powerful worship/ sermon and response time that day. To hear the message, click here. I put this message together with (a lot of) help from Tim Keller and John Burke.
There were several families from Gardner Community Theatre there that day, too. Just like with Gardner's Got Talent from the night before, it was really neat to see the two most significant communities in my life, TFC and GCT come together. After worship, we had a cookout at Vern and Becky Denoon's house to celebrate Ry's baptism. As I like to say about GCT, "putting the community back into community theatre."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gardner's Got Talent

Yes, as a matter of fact, we have a LOT of talent and it was on display last Saturday night. The acts ranged from improv to clogging, barbershop to 90's alternative rock. It was an incredible night!

We only had three acts show up at tryouts, thanks to the freezing rain and snow, so I had to recruit other acts like crazy. Even though I knew all of the acts that were performing, I was still
I was still completely surprised by the quality of the acts. I was also surprised by the size of the size of the crowd. The energy level stayed high during the entire 2 hour show and the crowd and the GCT board were pumped up after the show. It was a great way to kick off what, hopefully, can be an annual tradition. Erin and I also really enjoyed seeing the two communities that mean so much to us, GCT and TFC putting on an event together. It's also amazing to see how those two communities are coming together; people from TFC getting involved in GCT and GCT families connecting at TFC.

Our band performed 4 songs and they were as good as I've ever heard them. But not only did the band members perform, they also spent hours setting up and tearing down. Our band and the other tech guys were able to set up TWO full sound systems in slightly more than an hour. You can hear our band perform live at this link.

As I shared on Sunday, I don't know if I've ever been as proud of our church as I was on Saturday night. It was a great way for us to serve our community while also giving a little picture of our church. As a GCT board member and the pastor of the church that co-sponsored the show, I had the chance to share about TFC for a few seconds. Personally, I think I did a pretty good job sharing how we're a safe place in a brief and no-pressure manner.

Toward the end of the show, Franci Talamantez sang "Better" by Toby Lightman, dedicated to me, Erin and Dawson. The song brought tears to the eyes of my sweet wife; it's quite an emotional song about having a son.

After the show, I shared with our tech guys how I'd love it if this event was one of the things TFC became known for. They all enthusiastically agreed with that idea.

TFC was able to sponsor Gardner's Got Talent through our Growing Up Campaign.

Isaiah Johnson

I want everyone to check out this blog about Isaiah Johnson. Isaiah's parents adopted him several years ago knowing he had this serious condition. This family has invested thousands of dollars and hours taking care of Isaiah. The Johnson family is a part of Lifestream Christian Church.

We have a chance to help out the Johnson family by participating in a Softball tournament on Saturday, May 9th. If you'd like more info, shoot me an email or call 785-840-8438. The donation is $120 a team.

Appreciated Volunteers

I've been slow to post this, mostly because I've been waiting for a certain someone to email me the pictures, but I won't mention any names... :)
About a month ago, we had an incredible Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for those who serve at TFC.
Since we didn't have the money to do our usual dinner, I asked the greatest cook I know, Dale Sass to help make some Cinnamon rolls to give to our volunteers. Dale then decided to host an entire dinner for us. Dale's small group put it all together, even waiting on us with towels on their arms. New Life Church graciously hosted us all.
And the food... Well, I think Dale out did even his usual efforts. I'm not execrating when I say the tables full of food looked like a cruise ship buffet. I stuffed myself with so much cheese, amazing bread, shrimp, brisket and pie that I could barely walk.
And it was quite a night of community, too. For over an hour, we bragged on each other and shared stories of how TFC is changing our lives and the world around us. It was an incredible evening. One of those nights in which I thank God for the privilege of pastoring a church like TFC.

Dedicating my Son

On Easter Sunday, I had the incredible privilege of dedicating my son. Since I don't want to duplicate my blog posts but still want to share the story, you can read about it at the blog that Erin and I set up to share stories about Dawson, A Person's a Person no matter how Small.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mr. Mom

With Erin going back to work, today is day #1 as "Mr. Mom." I'm not quite sure how this is all going to work out, I'm a bit nervous about it, to be honest. I busted my butt the 1st three days of the week so I wouldn't have much work for Thursday and Friday. My work is going to have to get done during naps and in the evenings when Erin is home. My meetings will now have an extra little guy who will be hanging out in the carseat. The first set of errands Dawson and I need to do is continue visiting sponsors for GCT. It should be fun to introduce him to sponsors, since GCT is what lead us to Dawson.

Fitting with my mostly disciplined approach to life, I just finished reading the book Babywise. We've been very effective at getting Dawson on a 3 hour feeding schedule but not so great at a consistent napping schedule. So, I've got some work ahead of me in the next 5 weeks. Unfortunately or fortunately for my little boy (unfortunate in the short-term, fortunate in the long-term) I'm determined to let him cry for awhile so he can learn how to put himself to sleep. A half-hour till nap time is upcoming, there will likely be some tears shed...

Resurrection Sunday

By our 4th Easter Sunday as a church, I'm starting to notice a pattern; intense Sunday's in which the Holy Spirit does amazing things in people's lives! Four days ago was no exception. I could just sense the energy in the sanctuary, from the opening gospel reading to the final blessing. What always happens on Easter is that someone invites an unchurched friend and God does something powerful in their lives. I'm told that one brand new person was crying through most of the service. Another new person (brought by a coworker who lives in Gardner but is a part of a different Church of the Nazarene) told me he wants to learn more about Jesus but isn't ready yet for a commitment. Of course, there are also the other Future Christ-Followers who are still checking things out who were in worship on Sunday.

What really blows me away is how the Holy Spirit works despite our screw-ups. Last Easter, we had someone taking pictures, they were great pictures and some are currently on our website. Unfortunately, the photographer was being a bit disruptive (from my point of view) and I was having trouble concentrating. I had this sense of "don't worry, if I can raise my Son from the dead, I can speak over a photographer, just watch." And during the response time, I was amazed by the response. On Christmas Sunday, we had all sorts of tech issues, some of which were caused by the weather, but I was again amazed during the response time. And this Easter, it was the same story. Some technical glitches we've never even had before happened on Easter Sunday. The perfectionist in me gets frustrated but the pastor in me realizes we're in the middle of a struggle for people's allegiances. Again, the Holy Spirit is more powerful than our mistakes. I don't mean we lower our standards, I mean we just roll with the unexpected glitches. Even stupidly forgetting to pass the Friendship Registries (which I never forget to do) can't keep us from helping people continue to take steps toward Christ, I've just got to get creative in tracking people down!

So here's Easter Sunday in a nutshell; we had a lot of people in worship, the energy was intense, people responded to the message, we had first-time unchurched guests, I dedicated my son, and THE TOMB IS STILL EMPTY! Yep, it was a good day!


Monday, April 13, 2009

Preaching a funeral

Officiating funerals is a pretty new thing to me. In fact, Pat Logan's funeral on March 30th was only the 2nd funeral I'd ever done. Not only is it quite intimidating to stand before a group of people mourning a loved one, trying to bring some peace and hope, it's also overwhelming the way people find peace just from you (the pastor) being with them. In seminary, it was referred to as "the ministry of presence." Leading a family through the funeral process is way beyond my skill set; I simply had to find strength in Pastoral Office and confidence in the reality of Jesus' death and Resurrection. When I focused upon those things, I was able to minister to the family.

Here's a link to the funeral service, link. My sermon begins at the 28:00 minute mark. I kind of lost myself in what I was preaching, getting (a bit) carried away by the pain of death and the hope of the Resurrection. In fact, Pat's oldest son, Jeff, turned to his brother, Mike and said "he's on a roll!" I believe this message was all about Scripture, which as Mike said, has stood the test of time because it continues to bring comfort and hope.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Evangelical theology / Holiness theology

I was in a marketing research meeting today at our denomination's Global Ministries Center (World Headquarters) and the research firm was picking the brain of some fellow church planters. There was one professor in our group as well, from Nazarene Theological Seminary. He borrowed a quote from a preacher that had just been to NTS that helps define who we are as a "tribe."

Evangelicals are concerned with how a person becomes a Christian while Holiness people are concerned with how a person can be Christian.

Great quote and I completely agree. I could share more but have a ton of work to do...