We won’t tell you anything.

I like to know what’s coming. So this whole season of life had been difficult. I had spent years asking for feedback from church leaders, and received little to none. We had been in prayer for 5 months over where God wanted us to go, being very open with Him that we were cool with pulling up stakes and going on an adventure, and we hadn’t received clear direction until the opening of the North Carolina direction, and the breadcrumb trail that lead us to the Church Planters Assessment Center (CPAC) beyond that, we had nothing. We were being made to wait, to look, to listen, and we didn’t know what we were doing, where we were going or if and when something was going to open up. But God had led us to the CPAC, so we paid everything out of pocket, made arrangements to have the kids taken care of, and we did whatever needed to be done to get to CPAC.

IMG_1084Since we had no idea what was going on, just a date and time to be in Raleigh, I was starting to get antsy. I like to plan and prepare. I am hard-wired for preparation, I enjoy the work that goes into preparing and I tend to geek out a little when I get to just run with this kind of stuff. But the answers I kept getting were very nebulous. “What do I need to bring” would get “Don’t worry about it.” as a reply. “Should I prepare anything, gather some books or resources to have on hand?” received “You’ll get what you need as you need it.” as a reply.

Folks, this stuff kills me. I thrive on open communication. I live for feedback. I work best when there’s defined purpose, and when that purpose is unclear, my mind goes 1,000,000mph trying to work out all the scenarios. “Don’t worry about it” and “It will come as it comes.” are not acceptable answers in my book. But get this, my consistently highest spiritual gift is faith. I am endlessly trusting. I am a conundrum in this regard. I acknowledge that wholeheartedly. I trust God, but I still ask questions. I can trust people, but I like to know basic direction, motivations and direction. When I hear nothing, I begin to worry. I start playing out worst-case scenarios, and I have to wrestle within myself to regain lost ground. I have faith in God. But because of then-recent, deep-seated hurts I was in a very tough place to find trust in people. And if I’m being honest, I’m still struggling with it.

When we arrived at our hotel, checked in and made our way over to the church, I asked for a schedule for the week. When did we need to be where, that sort of thing. I was promptly told there wasn’t one, and that we would receive direction as it was needed. (Deep breath.) Okay, so we just roll with things as they come. That was our instruction. We were here, we were ready to do something. We just had no idea what CPAC was even going to be, we had literally ZERO expectations, no understanding of what would happen, and every session would have us trying to play catch up and learning wheel we fly by the seat of our pants.

People would later tell us how CPAC was the worst 4 days of their life. They hated it. It stressed them out. People were moved to tears. They made it sound like insanity.


I know, right? Read that again. It sounds crazy. Everything was pointing toward a crazy time of not knowing what was coming at any given moment. It was mystery shrouded in vagaries, and coated in obfuscation, and I loved every minute of it. Apparently I’m a little strange. People who have gone through it tell me as much with their eyes, if not with their words. It’s intentionally difficult, and I love a challenge.

And, I’m not going to tell you anything about it either. I’m not going to let you cheat. But hear this: it breaks some people, and others it energizes. There was a couple at ours that didn’t fare well. The husband was called out, with all love and direct conviction that punch in the face might deliver, in front of everyone else. He was carrying something that was dangerously unhealthy, and it was manifesting itself in the middle of a group project…and he belittled his wife to deflect the blow. He was called to the carpet right then and there, and I admire the assessor who did it, too. He was spot on, he was right, and it was good to hear someone with that skill set and credibility simply and clearly say “No. This stops here. It is not acceptable.”

Again, I loved it. I highly recommend it.

We don’t have to know everything. There are some details in life that we need to have, things we need to nail down. There are others where faith has to take the lead, and where trust needs to come with the experience, not be earned after the fact. That’s a hard line to walk, I admit it. But coming through that experience, I was glad we did it. It was there at CPAC, that I was reinvigorated for ministry. It was in CPAC that the God-given skill sets gifted to us through the Holy Spirit were confirmed and we were told not to compromise ever, ever again. It was life-giving in every way imaginable and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I was in a place where I was, for the first time in my life, doubting my call to ministry, and CPAC cleared away every lie and doubt the enemy had worked so hard to sow in my life. Beth had a great experience, too, but that’s for her to share in her time and in her way.

Sometimes the hardest things are the best things. Sometimes they are just the worst. But this time, we struck gold, and it was wonderful. There’s so much more to it, but suffice it to say, I’d heartily recommend it to anyone in ministry. It’s a great litmus test for your heart and calling, and God’s fingerprints were all over it.


If you’re interested in church planting, or in going through an assessment, I’m happy to answer (some of) your questions without ruining the experience. I’d also suggest reaching out to Stadia, the church planting organization that conducted ours.



Saying Goodbye, part 1

Okay, so this is hard.

It’s one thing to have the idea to leave. It’s another to begin the process of separating by looking for what’s next. When it comes to saying goodbye, that is where the rubber hits the road. And we had to do it twice in one transition. I know pastors don’t normally get to publicly speak into these things. If you’re a pastor, please, read through. If you’re not a pastor, hopefully this will help you see we’re just as human as you are. There’s some unwritten rule not to talk about this, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. The faith of the church isn’t in me or in any other pastor. It’s supposed to be in Jesus. He’s perfect, and He’s working on me.


When I made the decision to leave my previous position in the August before I left. I was making a painful decision that I had previously been determined not to take. When I have seen some ministers leave in the past, I have been tempted (not knowing everything) to think that they weren’t giving God enough credit or authority because they had some idea that they couldn’t see something through. It was a sign of weakness to me. It was a lack of faith, and it upset me.

And then I was the one in the hot seat. Funny how things happen to change when you know all the details, when you’ve experienced all the emotions. Things look different when you’re the one who feels neglected or beat down or doubted or whatever else bad stuff you might feel. Personally, again transparency here, I was feeling pretty worthless and ineffective. People were leaving and I found myself jealous of their freedom to go. That’s not a good place to be when you’re supposed to be the one leading and pastoring them. They saw the leadership stall out, they saw my attitude shifting. I accept my part.

I wanted to go to the big church down the street. I wanted to just worship and have no responsibilities. I was worn out. I had faith. I felt it, but I was dealing deeply with disappointment and rejection. When fear on our part stalls out the things that God wants to do, it’s hard to reconcile. When you’re energized and ready to go and your teammates in leadership are the ones dealing with trepidation, it can be incredibly frustrating. It creates friction. It can make things volatile. It can hurt.

You need a release. You need a God-honoring pressure valve, and looking back, I wish someone had pressed me into a place where I would have reached out even more. But so often, frustration can drive us deeper and deeper within ourselves. It cripples us, slaps blinders on our heart and eyes, and keeps us from seeing options that might be right in front of us. When you’re an introvert who can pretend to be an extrovert 2-3 times a week, retreating into quiet becomes a very attractive and comfortable place.

When your counselors press you to step away, to move out from toxicity, it makes anything and everything else look good. Again, this is not a good place for a pastor to be. I should have taken a vacation, gone on a retreat, sought out an extended coaching time. But since I was planning on leaving, it was more about being in survival mode rather than being effective with the time I had left. Again, just pointing this out, my attitude was not in the right place. The pressure and need for revitalization within the church was a constant pressure and I felt very alone.

But hindsight is often 20/20, and those blinders we wear in frustration can be really, really effective. There’s danger in the echo chamber they create, and I walked into my goodbye from within this echo chamber.

So, December rolled around and the pressure was building. It was the first Christmas season, the first Advent, I have celebrated where I just wanted it to be over. The careful approach to anticipation was gone. The reverent remembering was relegated to ‘maybe next year’ status. So, after Christmas wrapped up, we had an elder’s meeting, we had a very frank conversation and I resigned my position.

Have you ever seen one of those scenes in a movie when an EMP goes off and there’s a pulse of energy that presses out from the device? That’s what happened with my stress, my frustration, and my withheld tension.


The elder sitting next to me said, “Did you feel that?” Seriously, he felt it physically come off from me. Don’t tell me that there wasn’t an unseen spiritual component at work here during this. He asked again, “Really, did you feel that?” he was amazed and concerned. I told him that’s what I had been carrying for months and months. I told them I was sad there wasn’t some attempt to walk through the hardship together. After all, this wasn’t their first time we’d had tough conversations. We had talked through this, or attempted to,  many times. I said a few other things from that, they let me vent a little, and I expressed my hope for what might still come there. Some of the guys in the room started crying, some apologized. One sat stoic, unmoved by my departure.

We wrapped up quickly at that point. They committed to providing for my family for the next 90 days, which was amazing, and I promised them that I would continue to operate with complete integrity and without drama. They didn’t ask me to do that, that promise was mine. They reassured me they weren’t worried about me in that regard (which was nice to hear, they at least knew my integrity mattered to me), we prayed and parted ways.

When I got to the car, I called my wife, told her I was coming home and then called my parents and played everything out from the evening to them as I drove. The mixture of relief, sorrow, confusion and hurt washed over me through the following days. I told the staff, one by one, I kept it quiet until the following Sunday. I wasn’t going to drag this out.

I jump into the cold pool. I rip off the band aid. I don’t stretch out unpleasant circumstances. I wasn’t going to drag the church through this with some prolonged leaving. I once saw a minster take six months to leave and it was painful. I was determined to let everyone move on as quickly as possible…but that’s for the next post.

I have to tell the couple of hundred people that I had served and served alongside of for almost a decade. That was going to be the hardest part, and the next post.


Someday, I’ll Do Something Great

We all hope for something. We truly, deeply want to see something happen. Maybe it’s a steady paycheck that actually pays the bills. Maybe it’s that new car. Maybe it’s a promotion. Maybe it’s that our children are successful. Maybe it’s that tomorrow comes without drama, sickness or hurt. We all long for something, We all want to see something happen. We make promises to ourselves that it’s going to happen.


Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Step one is remembering that God already has a plan laid out for us. He has a pattern He wants to build on and work from. It’s non-negotiable. We are called to walk in the image of Christ, having put Him on as our new identity. If anything great is going to come out of us, it’s going to be because of Him.

So, if you have plans, hand them over to Jesus. Let Him give them a work over, refocus them, and then press forward with Him. If you want to do great things for God, then expect great things from God. Move in faith, and roll with Him.

It’s a walk of faith & it’s about His glory.

Planting for the Future

In Mark 4, Jesus tells a parable about a seed growing:

“And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

What is the point of the parable? Which element is most important?
That a seed is planted right?


I would want to say that the seed grows, but it cannot grow unless it is first planted. So, the planting must, by necessity, come first. When we look at the planting, we will notice a few key actions.

Number one, the man took up the seed and went to the field.
Number two, he placed the seed in his hand and chose where to scatter it.
Number three, he went to work, trusting in what he did not understand in order to accomplish what he knew needed to be done.

This is the work of the kingdom. There are elements of what God calls us to do in Christ that are non-negotiable. We who have received the Word & Gospel must take up ownership of it and go to the field. When Jesus commands us to make disciples it isn’t a point of debate. He is our Master, and this is His will. Secondly, we must take a hold of the Gospel, personally, purposefully and then make a plan to spread it around. Third, we take action and do what we planned and were commanded to do.

We don’t have to know all the details. We don’t have to harness great skill. We simply need to be obedient to the task, trusting that God will do what He intends to do, and that He will seek His own glory in it all. This is right and good.

We cannot balk because we don’t know everything. We are not God. We never know what will grow from what we sow, and that’s okay.  It’s not for us, but for Him, and for those who will grow to Him from that effort. We simply trust and obey.

Check out this article about a man who was preparing for the future, and how his seed went to work long after he was gone. It’s a cool story.

What’s your story? Where are you in the process of scattering the Gospel seed?

The Planting Journey

So, usually a farmer knows where he’s going to plant his seeds and attempt to raise a crop for harvest. That’s normal practice, right? You work that soil ahead of time, add in fertilizer, see where the land rises and falls so you can be aware of spots that may hold water, where wildlife come to graze…you know, farmer stuff. Seems like this would be a part of how you operate.

Typically ministers know where they are going serve on a given Sunday. They know their people, there’s probably a building, people leading, carrying the load with them (hopefully) and others who rally around the cross with them, all at various stages of maturity, growth and service…you know, churchy stuff. Seems like this would be a part of how you operate. IMG_8CF53472CA55-1

That’s unless God decides it’s time for you to do something different. Almost exactly one year ago, I resigned my position as Lead Minister with a legacy church in Kentucky and officially kicked off a new adventure that is still taking shape a year later. Right now, I know what city I’m supposed to serve. I have a general idea what neighborhood or area we’ll be located in (it’s not where we’re currently living) we have a pretty complete idea what our team looks like, but there are still many, many unknowns. It’s definitely a different feeling after 20 years of ‘normal’ Southern, North American ministry.

There’s that old saying, “Life’s a Journey.” And there’s also, “Life is about the journey, because that’s all you have.” Or you could say any number of motivational poster type things that speak to the importance of seeing where you are, appreciating it, and then enjoying the trip to the next spot. And so on and so on, right?

Scripture talks about planting seeds. It’s something we all can understand. The farmer plants the seeds, there’s hope that something will come from it and faith that a harvest will come one day. That’s good stuff. This is how life works. There’s a high degree of uncertainty simply because we can’t see beyond the curtain of today and take a sneak peek of tomorrow. So, we plant those seeds. Some will grow, others will never germinate, some will begin to grow and nothing will come of them. That’s life.

So, for us, we are doing a lot of prep work. We are in the business of speculation, planning for growth before we have the seeds or even know where the field sits. It’s a weird place to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Is it hard? Sure it is. I wouldn’t learn anything if it was easy. And so far, I haven’t been handed a lot of ‘easy’ stuff over the course of my ministry career. There are people involved. People who are broken like me. People who have problems, who make mistakes, people who hurt one another, who feel like they know better than everyone else, who plot and gossip and try to get their way. That’s life, right? We all deal with this. And as long as sin is present, we still will. So, I choose not to get hung up on the hard stuff, and instead I focus on what God has for me to do, and I trust that He will lead me into tomorrow when it comes.

And such is church planting. We will get to till soil with prayer. We will get to plant and water. The time is coming. But we are journeying to that day.

So far, we’ve made the big cross-country move. We’ve stepped out in faith physically. Now we are beginning our support raising journey, trusting that God is going to provide for us, so we can accomplish what He has called us to. This is His journey with us. He is the guide, not me. He is in charge, and I gladly submit to His leadership. Soon, He will begin directing us to begin new relationships, open new doors, and allow us to plant seeds in new hearts. This is more of what I am used to and expect. But no journey is constant travel. No journey is a non-stop cascade of motion. Instead, we find seasons of waiting, seasons of trust, seasons of rest.

This is a part of farming, right? This is a part of ministry, right? Yes, yes it is. Everything is a journey. What matters is Who we journey with, and Who we’re trusting along the way. There will be plenty more to share some day, but today, I wait. And I wait with faith for the harvest.

Our Present Father

Do you think that the Queen of England ever forgets her status? Do you think she ever gets up in the morning, looks around the royal bedchambers, notices a staff member setting up the tray for her morning tea, opening the curtains, laying out her things and wonders, “Well, who is this and why are they doing all this?”

No. Of course not. She’s the queen, and that life is what is afforded for her. It is part of her rank and status that she would be so cared for & so well attended. While she may have no real power, she is still beloved by those who are hers.

We often forget what we have been afforded in Christ. We look around at the world God has created, at he provision He has laid out for us, we forget how dearly loved we are. We forget =Whose= we are and we fall into the trap of disbelieving just how deeply and how greatly we are loved.

Galatians 4:1-11

4 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

God has made provision for =you= in Jesus Christ. He has shown the depth of His love, and breadth of His grace. He has given us a wonderful gift beyond measure. But so often we see and observe, and we turn back to what we once had. That is what Paul is dealing with in this portion of his letter to the Galatian church. Why would we turn back to the life that once had us, to the pain that once ensnared us? Why would you turn back to death once you have been brought back to life?

But we do it every day.

We leave behind the rich appointments of grace to wallow in the filth of our own sin.

This is why we are daily glad for grace, and for the presence of the Holy Spirit that corrects us.  There is mourning that comes with this realization, but it is a mourning that is infused with hope.

Lamentations 3:19-26

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,

    the wormwood and the gall!

20 My soul continually remembers it

    and is bowed down within me.

21 But this I call to mind,

    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

    his mercies never come to an end;

23 they are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.

24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

    “therefore I will hope in him.”


25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

    to the soul who seeks him.

26 It is good that one should wait quietly

    for the salvation of the Lord.

You are deeply loved and dearly bought when you are clothed with Christ. You are afforded a richness that comes with being drawn into the presence of the Living God. Jesus gave proof to His disciples after He was resurrected by doing something simple, He ate with them. He wanted them to see that this was the new reality, the new normal. The life they had been appointed to was past and there was something new on the way. This is what Jesus does for us, this is what God has laid out for us. It’s all for =His= glory, but as heirs, we share in the glorious promises of righteousness.

Luke 24:36-49

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

God will take great care to clothe us, care for us and shower us with His love. We are His children, deeply loved, dearly bought. Just as Christ did simple things, like eating fish, to convince His disciples that things really were as they were, even thought it was beyond hope, maybe even beyond belief, He was alive again and there, present with them. Just as He did that, we need to remember that every day, through many convincing proofs, God reminds us that He is present with us, loving us. He is our Abba, our Father, our Daddy & He cares very much for us.

Rest in His arms today. Let Him sing over you. May the joy of the Lord be your strength.

Letting grace move us

Father God, Lord of life, You provide us in every way & for every need. You keep us running, direct our hearts & sustain our souls, body & mind. You bring us life & a hope we can call on every single day. We come seeking You out in all these ways & more every day, because outside of You, we have nothing. On our own we have no hope, no strength, no provision, only empty promises we make to ourselves, but have no power to see through to the end. Forgive us our failings & pride, guiding us to completion in Jesus Christ instead. Empower us through Your Holy Spirit to walk with You today. We need to desperately & deeply. You are our rock & refuge. Restore us & bring glory to Yourself. We bless Your holy Name. Amen.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do you feel called by God? Can you sense His will at work in your life? Have you ever felt sent by Him to do a particular work? Do you know what that connection feels like & what it is He compels you to accomplish?

Here’s what we find to help us answer those questions. Paul begins by acknowledging these callings in his own life. God has made them abundantly clear. He says that he is called to do these things & that the church in Corinth is called to be a gathering of saints that call upon the Name of Jesus Christ. He acknowledges the call of an individual & the call of the gathering of believers collectively. There are things that we must do on our own & there are activities that we participate in together. That’s not revolutionary or difficult to comprehend, but there are temptations to neglect one of them or both, from time to time.

We often make excuses & tell ourselves it’s okay that we aren’t doing something that God has called us to as an individual, or that it’s not a big deal that we aren’t serving corporately with the rest of the body. But when we look at the second part of the passage today, we find out just what we are missing when we stand apart from this work of God in us.

Paul begins talking about grace & peace that comes to us through Christ. He acknowledges that this same grace is a gift from Christ and how He enriches us in every way through that grace. He blesses our strength. He blesses our knowledge. He blesses our speech & fills us so we do not lack in any gift. This all comes from walking in His will & in being obedient to the call of grace on our lives.

Grace doesn’t call us to simply rest in Him, which it does provide. Grace doesn’t call us to simply know about itself, which is part of how peace works its way in us. Grace calls us to an active participation in the Gospel work in us, it leads us into a new way of living, a movement in the rhythms it provides us, and in those rhythms, we find a new cadence for our lives that brings fulfillment, hope, peace & joy that we can in turn share with others. None of this is passive. None of this is meant to belong only to us. We live this & share in this together. This is what grace does. We are called, provided for & encouraged by grace into a deeper love, a full life & a living hope.

Because of this grace, we can also stand guiltless before God, and that is the greatest gift of all. This is what Jesus has provided for us through His life, death, burial & resurrection. Grace makes the calling & the life of dedicated obedience possible & it brings us to God’s unending well of joy, peace & fulfillment. It’s a wonderful place to be & a deep joy to walk out day by day. Christ is revealed in us through it all. Let Him reveal Himself in your life today. Seek His leading. Walk in His rhythms.