Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Review

It was a great Christmas! Our Christmas Eve service was successful, and my family had our traditional Mexican food afterwards (a Texas thing!). Christmas morning was fun because we had five children under age 7 in our house. We had a Christmas Dinner with 16 people, and it was a great time of fellowship and laughter. One of the highlight of this Christmas was the opportunity I had to preach at the Gallatin Outreach on the 20th. I am amazed each month at the poverty that is evident at these outreaches. I was able to share Christ with these beautiful people, and several responded to the invitation. What a privilege - nothing was a significant as this night during my Christmas. Now will be several days of reflection and vision casting for 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Good News about Missions

This week we received some great news from our missionaries Phil and Katja Zarns. After months of raising money, Phil and Katja have raised all their monthly support. They are on their way to Stockholm, Sweden to start a ministry called “Stockholm Life.” Sumner Life sends this couple $200 a month on a continual basis. In addition to this, Sumner Life was also able to send them at $200 Christmas gift for their enjoyment this Christmas.

We are so proud of what Phil and Katja are going to do in Sweden. Check out their ministry at Keep this family in your prayers.

Monday, November 12, 2007


On November 11 I was in Manhattan. Standing on 5th Avenue, Rudy Guliani walked by me. He was all by himself - no wife, no aides, no security. He went into a tie store. He came out and took a picture with me, Peg Blair and Melony Burgess. It happened so fast. To say it was a cool moment is an understatement. This was huge for me, because I get excited when I take pictures with local politicians - the type that are so local, they give out their cell phone numbers. This was a whole new level - a thrill for me and my friends. Rudy was a very nice man.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Break My Heart For What Breaks Yours

A song that has meant a lot to our church this year is a song titled Hosanna by Brook Fraser. One of the lines in that song always grips me.

Heal my heart and make it clean

Open up my eyes to the things unseen

Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours

Everything I am for your kingdom's cause

As I walk from earth into eternity

The phrase “Break my heart for what breaks yours” is a bold prayer and declaration. I sing this line with energy because I want this to be true. But, I am not so na├»ve to believe I understand what this prayer means.

Here is what I understand so far. The things that break God’s heart are the things most people have no interest in. God’s heart is breaking for injustices. His heart breaks over the greed of the nations. His heart is breaking over the systems of power that keep people in oppression. His heart is breaking over genocide. God’s heart is breaking over the condition of His church. God’s heart is breaking over the weakness of His people.

God’s heart is breaking over things we aren’t concerned with. God’s heart is breaking over things we won’t honestly admit. So, I keep sing that line with hopes that I have the capacity in my heart to live out the reality of this prayer.

Monday, October 29, 2007

God's Compassion Doesn't Run Out

For the first time in years, I am slowly reading an excellent novel titled Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. The narrator / main character is a teenager who struggles with some form of congestion problems in the cold North Dakota winter. In reference to his young sister’s immature response to his illness, he wrote, It is one thing to be sick of your own infirmities and another to understand that the people you love the most are sick of them also. You are very near then to being friendless in this world.” This comment stuck with me as I read them last night because of the sermon I had preached earlier that day. My last point about the healing power of God was this: God heals today because He has compassion on his people (Mark 1:40-42, Matthew 20:29-34). The comment from the novel reveals that people’s compassion can often run out or fall short. Yet, the compassion of the Lord is sure and secure. He will not run out of compassion for our physical ailments, but His compassion will lead to our healing.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Elizabethtown Quote

I know Elizabethtown is an old movie now, but I saw part of it tonight and heard this quote - left the room and heard it again. It made me think. The quote is: Success - not greatness - is the only god the world serves.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

E-3 Project Review

On Sunday we had the E-3 Project, which was a night of worship and prayer on the church property. It was a magnificent night. The sun was setting, there was a gentle breeze and the peace of God was present on the property. Tim and Elliot Parry led us into the Lord’s presence through worship. After some remarks we opened up a time of sharing, and the Scripture was shared with great insight:

-I opened with observations from nature. As the wind had gently blown, I stated that we wanted the Holy Spirit’s breeze to continually blow over our congregation in a consistent, steady way. As the sun was setting we were reminded of the Scripture that states, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” – John 9:4.
- Tim encouraged us to fight spiritually through worship and prayer with a great Scripture (and he had a cool sword!)
- Barbara read Psalm 84
- Sherry gave a beautiful spiritual observation about the big oak tree (some say that we cannot cut it down now . . . but that is yet to be determined . . . ha!) - Ann shared some encouraging comments from Psalm 112
We walked the land and prayed. We gathered again, held hands in a circle and prayed. Simple. Real. Powerful. Memorable.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Real Spiritual Confusion

I heard about someone yesterday who in reference to the Vanderbilt football team said, "Vanderbilt needs to get set free from the spirit of oppression." I laughed! I think they need the spirit of speed, tackling and depth.

I am enjoying this Saturday withouth the mental weight of tommorrow's sermon. David is preaching for me. I will miss speaking tommorrow, but I enjoy a mentally relaxing Saturday.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Mechanic's Quote

Randy Rodgers is a local mechanic in Gallatin and a friend of mine. Yesterday, he read a beautiful essay at Rotary that really touched me. I found out that he wrote this essay. Randy cave me a copy, and I am riveted by these words - especially the last ones: "we try to stop and smell the roses but we really don't. We try to stop and enjoy the sunsets but we really don't. We complain about the rain when it's here and when it's not. We complain about the heat when it's hear and when it's not. And even someone's life we complain about when they are here and when they are not.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Day I Forgot

September 12, 2007

Yesterday, I woke up and went through my morning routine. After getting ready for the day, I woke up the kids and helped them get to their bus. As my custom, I turned on the morning news to catch up. And then I realized the date . . . September 11. Then I got upset.

I was upset because I had forgotten. The five previous years I distinctly remember waking up with this tragic memory emblazed in my mind. I had started my date with awareness, sadness and a sense of awe. Like the rest of the country, this date of infamy was slipping back to normalcy. I knew in that moment that this is not good for our nation, and was not good for me.

Later that night Beth went to the ladies prayer meeting. It was a very rare night in which I was alone, the kids were asleep. I had several options to entertain myself with sports, political analysis or something to read. There was a program called “The Day the Towers Fell” available too – but I could avoid that with dozens of others alternatives.

Well, I chose to watch the documentary on 9/11/01. And I had forgotten. I had forgotten the intensity of the sights, sounds and trauma. For a couple of hours last night, I watched and my mouth dropped. I was in awe again. I can’t believe that September 11 has become another day in our psyche. It was too real. It was too human.

We have forgotten Civil War veterans on Memorial Day.

We have forgotten War World I veterans on Armistice Day.

We have forgotten Pearl Harbor victims on December 7.

Let’s not forget the events of September 11.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Podcast Interview

I know I am a wannabe talk radio guy. In fact, in my latest interview I use the term "airwave." However, my latest episode of conversations is with my pastor, mentor and best friend - John McKinzie. Take a listen at

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Story Really Bothers Me

This story was in The Tennessean on Sunday:

The Titans had no comment today on a report that they loaned former running back Travis Henry $9,800 for child support payments ... Henry, 28, has fathered nine children by nine women in at least four Southern states . . . Henry, who now plays for the Denver Broncos, has a $25 million contract and a base monthly salary approaching $50,000. According to court records, the judge wants to ensure payment by establishing an unusual $250,000 trust that Henry must fund by next spring.
Seeliger wrote that Henry displayed "bad judgment in his spending habits," dropping $100,000 for a car and $146,000 for jewelry . . . asked that the trust be set up because Henry rarely made the payments mandated by an earlier order, though they were $800 less a month. Wellon said there was testimony establishing that Henry received a $1 million bonus earlier this year but quickly spent most of it, buying, among other things, a Mercedes and gold jewelry. Edlin, though, said Henry collected much less than $1 million after taxes, and he said much of it went to debts. "He doesn't have any money," Edlin said. "The guy has significant financial issues." Records show that Henry's children live in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

This story disgust me. I enjoy watching football, its a clean excape (minus the needless violence). However, reading this makes me so glad I don't invest my money into the NFL. There is too much money spent on the NFL, and Travis Henry is the epitome of the waste and lack of responsibility. I spend money on Vanderbilt football tickets, but at least that is an institution of higher learning that makes some attempt to resist this ridiculous misappropriations of money and priorities. The Titans have brought a lot of joy and civic pride to Nashville, but I don't blame any resident of Davidson County who resist spending any more of their tax money on this football team. There are some great people in the NFL. This story is just too much. And I admit, I used to really enjoy watching Henry carry the football.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Weekend

Now this is a weekend:

- Dropped off the kids with Rich & Jessica for the night.
- Ate seafood with a group of friends (Beech Life Group) at Steamboat Bills
- Saw Borne Utlimatum with Beth
- Early morning coffee to create a new ministry
- Tubing on Old Hickory Lake (see pic above)with Dennis Stackhouse & The Studio
- Picked up the kids, hung with Rich & Jess
- Fellowship with the Huffs - the Indiana and Hendersonville version
- A great Sunday service
- A fun lunch at the Rollins home - lots of good fellowship with the Young Couples of SL
- A productive Advisory Council meeting - I love taking on the challenge of this building.
- I am still tired from the weekend . . .

Monday, August 20, 2007

High School Musical 2

My children are obsessed with High School Musical 2 - the Disney Channel movie that is enormously popular. It's not just children, but parents and teenagers who love this show also. This movie proves:

- Typical high school stereo-types never change

- Music speaks to us more than dialogue

- Entertainment with a wholesome tone still sells

Both High School Musical movies are the train wreck you can’t stop watching. You know it’s cheesy beyond words, but its still fun to watch. Just don’t admit it publicly!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Luke's First Day

Luke's first day of Kindergarten. This picture shows confidence and apprehension. There is uncertainty, but the knowledge that this "rite of passage" is necessary. I love this complex kid.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I am in Indianapolis right now. It is my first time, and I have found it to be exactly like David Letterman has always described - a bit "bland." Still, it is a nice city.

I drove up here with two of my pastor friends - Clay and Damon. We drove up Wednesday and will be back Friday night. We are part of the national meeting for the Assemblies of God. The reason I came to this is because we are electing 4 of the top 6 positions for this fellowship of churches. Its really an historic time period for our little world - a changing of the guard.

Today at lunch my Texas and Tennessee world collided with a lunch that included the guys mentioned above, Eddie and Amanda Turner, Scott and Jenni Wilson, John and Melissa Mckinzie, and Tom Wilson. It was on odd combination, but a great lunch. It was kind of neat to be the one to pull that group together. I only wish Beth was with us.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Some words that are working on me

I put a lot of work into my sermons. I love public speaking, and I always feel honored when people take time to listen to me. Last week I head a message on-line by Francis Chan (picture above), a pastor in California. He seemed to be coming back from vacation and was addressing his church for the first time. The opening words have really affected me. He in essence told them, “I have been praying for you this summer, does that mean something to you? Or am I just the guy who speaks to you once a week.” Francis went on to say, “I am starting to realize that my prayers for you are more powerful than my speaking.”

These statements are really sticking with me right now. As a pastor, my speaking means so much because I have access to the most people during one time period. In addition to this, as a minister I am judged and evaluated primarily by my speaking. This reality causes me to put speaking as the supreme priority, but Francis’ words have reminded me that prayer is the pinnacle of my call.

God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times – Romans 1:9-10

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How I Know I Live in the Bible Belt

I just read the Gallatin News Examiner, and I now know that the Bible Belt is still in charge of Sumner County.

The reasons:

The lead story the last two weeks in the paper has been about a fight in the local Baptist church that caused their preacher to leave.

In a pitiful scenario, the article states:

"He (the minister) also elicited sympathy from the congregation for the difficulties his family has faced, including threats that led to extra police protection in his neighborhood and his family being placed in protective custody. Gallatin police spokesman Lt. Kate Novitsky confirmed the department had patrolled LaBorg’s home over allegations of vandalism, but said, “He has never been under protective custody.”

Both the threat and the exaggeration of the threat are ridiculous.

The article goes on to quote this preacher as saying: "find a Holy Ghost, corn-shuckin’ man of God." He goes on to say, “Pray for him, because he ain’t got a clue what he’s coming into."

If you have to shuck corn to be a man of God, I am in trouble.

I do agree with the pastor's quote that said:
“If you’ve got time to sit at the computer and read those stupid blogs, then you’ve got too much time on your hands,”

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wake Up The Sun

I have been saving this story for a special occasion, but its time to write it down. Earlier this year my family and I took advantage of some hotel points, and we stayed at a high-rise hotel in downtown Nashville. We entered our room for the first time late in the afternoon, and the sun was very bright as it descended over the city. It was an impressive sight. We left the hotel rooms and spent the next few hours downtown for dinner and a walk. When we returned, the view from our hotel of the dark city was a huge contrast to the sunset we had seen a short time ago. I left the room for ice, and when I returned my 5 year old had grabbed a toy plastic flute and was playing a tune to the window. I asked him what he was doing, and he responded, “I am waking up the sun.”
I was struck by the boldness of this child who still believed he could do anything. When did we get so jaded by reality that we quit such ridiculous attempts? I think more of us should keep a child-like faith that causes us to try the impossible. Why can’t the solar system respond to our toy plastic flute? Let’s wake up the sun.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gatlinburg and Beth Allison's Birthday

Galtinburg, TN has become one of my favorite places. It has its paradoxes: Its an odd mixture of commecialism and rugged nature; It is very congested, yet everyone seems very relaxed. Right now I am listening to the combination of a mountain steam and the morning traffic. Is this the place where the modern world has met nature and agreed? Like I wrote, it has its odd combinations. But if you want a pancake place, this is the place.

This is the first time I have been here in the summer, and it is absoulutely packed. I can't imagine how congested it will be over a summer week end.

Today is Beth's Birthday. I don't have anything spectacular planned (yet), but I am thrilled that we are together today. Several times over the last decade I have been on youth group trips when it was July 12. Beth either patiently worked her job to supplement my income, or later on took care of the kids at home. It was always ironic to me in my former job that I was paid to chaperone other people's kids while that same job often took me away from my own.

I am greatful for Beth because she is such a loving person. She truly loves people for who they are, regardless of their popularity or social status. I can't imagine a person loving her children more than Beth does. She has put up with a lot in me, and still loves me. I hope I can make the rest of her life a joy.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Red Eye

Last night I watched a suspense movie called "Red Eye." It was one of the worst movies I ever watched, but I loved it. Beth, Shelby, Jackie and I laughed and laughed last night; we are still laughing today. Dreadfully funny.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Why I did this

So many of my friends have blogspots I want to read, I decided to get my own site.