Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Site for my Blog . . . Please Re-Subscribe

My blog has officially moved to

This does mean that you will have to re-subscribe if you want this blog sent to your e-mail.

Click the link on the top right of, and you can subscribe there.

I know this is an incovenience, but the new site should prove to be much more effective.

Thanks for being a reader!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Taming the Tongue / Monteagle Report #3

I am excited about my message this Sunday . . . Taming The Tongue.    The Scripture says so many good things about our words, and I have been personally challenged as I have prepared for Sunday. 

I originally thought this would be a low Sunday since it is Sumner County's Fall Break.  However, I have not heard of many people who have left town, so I am feeling more optimistic about what our attendance will be.

Monteagle Report #3

My third report on Monteagle is not so much about Monteagle, TN - but its neighboring city of Sewanee, which contains The University of the South.   We made the five minute drive to the campus, and we discovered a little sliver of Europe right in the middle of rural Tennessee.  The campus for The University of the South is gorgeous, especially All Saints Chapel.   Beth took some incredible pictures of All Saints Chapel.   Also, there is a huge white cross visible to the community that we visited one evening.  You will see David and me at the foot ot the cross to give you an idea of how larget the structure is.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Want To Lead Video Shoot / High Point Restaraunt

Thursday was a super-busy day, but it had its fun moments.  I enjoyed spending time with some of our HS Seniors, as we filmed a promo video for the I Want To Lead promo.   
We really had fun!

Monteagle Report #2
Believe it or not, there is a 5-star restaraunt in Monteagle called High Point Restaraunt.  This restaraunt has a unique history as told on its website:
"Contained in a 1929 mansion, presumably financed by Al Capone, the three-story compound is complete with escape hatches on the roof and underground tunnels in the basement used by Capone for the transferring of liquor in the twenties and early thirties.  It is rumored the floors were complete with a lining of sand beneath each one, suspected to prevent the penetration of a bullet. -
The food was delicious with large portions of excellent sea food and steaks.  Many times higher price restaraunts that I visit do not deliver the value their prices demand.  This restaraunt was an exception - the higher prices were justified with an excellent atmosphere,  delicious food and a unique setting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

24 Hour Rule Broken / Special Scripture / Thursday Video Shoot

I have been running a little behind since the staff retreat.  I have broken my "24 hour rule" with e-mails - I am way behind on returning those.   The "24 hour" rule is my commtiment to returning an e-mail within that time frame.  I want to create an e-mail culture in our staff and leadership team, but that will only work when I return e-mails promptly  This is my on-line confession.  I also want to use this blog as a communication tool, which takes consistency too.   Well enough of beating myself up for this, because it has been a good week of work and ministry.

Tonight, I shared a lot of Scriptures that emphasized the phrase "Fear Not" during our Wednesday night service.  I felt like our body needed a lot of Scripture to build their faith, and fight off the feelings of fear.   It was an encouraging night.

On Thursday,  I am taking some of our high school and college students to downtown Nashville to film the "I Want To Lead" promo video.  You'll hear more about I Want To Lead in future blogs, but tomorrow should be a fun morning.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Janeen Kohler / Staff Retreat / Monteagle Report #1

Janeen . . .
Janeen Kohler did a great job speaking tonight!  We are so blessed to have so many talented speakers at Indian Lake. Janeen and her husband Steve are a true blessing to our church.

Staff Retreat - the reason
Our first staff retreat was a dream come true for me because I have always looked forward to raising up a strong team around me.   I am so impressed with the staff God has brought to work with me and Beth. I have been on staff at other large churches, and I found that the times we traveled together had a very positive effect on me.   Changing environments for two days gave us a chance to deepen our relationships, have more time to explore important subjects and analyze issues we had delayed action on.  Some of the nicer parts of the trips are also a reward for a job well done by these dedicated employees.

MonteagleReport #1

The retreat took place on Monday and Tuesday in Monteagle, TN.  Monteagle is half-way between Nashville and Chattanooga.  On the old highway 41 between Chicago and Miami, it is the highest point at 2,000 ft. elevation.  You would expect it to be a typical small southern city, but it is really quite a sophisticated place.  There is a lot of variety in culture for a small community.  We stayed at a Bed & Breakfast called Monteagle Inn.  The house was not as isolated as the picture made it appear, but being in the center of town ended up being quite convenient.  I was pleased with the customer service and laid back atmosphere.  The breakfast was delicious - the blueberry scone was especially tasty.  I wish we would have done more work on the front porch, but there were not enough plug-ins for all of our lap tops on the porch.  Another downfall of technology!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Water Baptism - Should we ever "sprinkle"?

I love that water baptism is becoming a regular part or our worship experience.  It's becoming the norm - the way it should be.  Praise God for this!   This will probably be our last water baptism of the year because of the weather, but if someone wants to be baptized immediately, we will figure out a way to do so.  This Sunday was a little cold.

I did a little research on the history of "sprinkling" instead of "immersion" - which is how we baptized.   From a Biblical stand point, "immersion" is the accurate way to baptize.   However, in the Middle Ages people begin to "sprinkle" for health reasons - especially in the winter.   With this in mind I actually consider doing a version of water baptism in which I just poured warm water on people's head during the winter months.   We may do that someday, but it's one of those "emotional issues" that cold really stir religious people up.  I may want to really think this one through - ha!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday Reflection / Ray Boltz's Confession

Wedneday Reflection
On Wednesday, Doug Bagwell shared a solid teaching on "How to Avoid Compromise."   I appreciate Doug's friendship to me and his leadership in our church.  He is a very wise man.

Ray Boltz's Confession
If you haven't heard yet, Christian singer Ray Boltz admitted last week that he is a homosexual.  In Lee Grady's recent editorial he informed his readers the following:

The 55-year-old singer, winner of three Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association, told the world last Friday that he just got tired of fighting his same-sex feelings. He told the Washington Blade, a gay magazine . . . 
Boltz told the Blade that he disclosed his repressed homosexuality to his wife and four grown children in 2004, the year he retired from his music career. He quietly moved to South Florida and began dating. His divorce from his wife of 33 years was finalized this year. - Article "When Christians Come Out of the Closet" found at

If trends continue in our culture, stories lke this will continue to come forth.  It's easy for people in the church to make jokes and giggle about homosexuality, but this habit of masking our discomfort will have to change.  The church must provide solid answers and solutions instead of ridicule.  The truth is, there are individuals struggling with either this tendancy or or active sin sitting in our church every Sunday.   It is not God's will for any person to be bound by homosexual behavior.  Still, the church must create an atmosphere in which people with these struggles will have an avenue to get help.  I don't know the answers yet, but I am trying to ask the correct questions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday Reflection / Quote about Governor Palin

Reflections on Sunday's service . . . 
I got a lot of good comments on Sunday's service.  Most of the good feedback that I recieved didn't focus on one aspect - like the music, preaching, media, movie, ect.    Instead, everyone seemed to leave the service spiritually encouraged, and focused on Jesus.   I look forward to having more services that flow together in unity of purpose and focus - that focus being Christ.

Governor Sarah Palin
On another note, I ran across this quote from an editorial in the New York Times about Governor Sarah Palin.  I'll let you come up with your own conclusions, but I think it is a very interesting comment . . . and quite funny:

Sarah has single-handedly ushered out the “Sex and the City” era, and made the sexy new model for America a retro one — the glamorous Pioneer Woman, packing a gun, a baby and a Bible.
- Article titled "Bering Straight Talk" by Maureen Dowd, New York Times, September 13, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kim's Message / Study Day

I was so impressed with Kim Driver's message on Wednesday night.  Seriously, it was an excellent message.  It touched me personally.  Like I have mentioned before, I love not only preaching to my church family, but I also love hearing good teaching with my church family.   I think that is an important component of community.

In the last few weeks I have been developing a better personal schedule and rythm.   I am utilizing the excellent staff we have at Indian Lake, and this is allowing me to work smarter.  So, today I had a complete study day at my home office, and I found it to be immensely beneficial.   I think that making Thursday my "study day" will bring great value to my ministry and preaching.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update . . .

Quote #6 (my favorite quote right now) - "Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper."-Robert Frost

You look up one afternoon, and it has been 8 days since you have blogged.  The world has moved on without my blog . . .

Here are some highlights over the last few days:
- Everyone really enjoyed Brent Batson's preaching last Wednesday.  He is very passionate speaker
- It was fun to hang out with my friends from Indian Lake at the Vandy football game last Thursday.  It was great to see Vandy get a SEC win.  
- On Friday, I hear our first planning meeting for the "I Want to Lead" conference (Formerly "Lead Now").  I am gathering a team in hopes that next summer we will conduct an "I Want to Lead" conference for students entering or leaving their HS Senior year. You'll hear a lot more about that as time progresses.
- On Sunday, we started the 4.6 Experience with great success for our 4th - 6th grade.  Also, our parking situation improved as everyone got off the grass, and used the parking spots.
- On Monday, 25,000 post cards started to hit homes in Sumner County.  We are getting good responses so far.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Recap

I had a good time at Tailgate Sunday, but pulled my hamstring playing touch football during the afternoon festivities.  On Sunday evening, I treated the injury incorrectly, but after a phone call with Jaroy Carptenter (SWAGU athletic trainer), my recovery is on pace.

I had a nice Labor Day.  I turned down a couple of nice invitations to cook out with friends, in favor or reading and icing my hammy.   I finished True North . . . the second half was as good as expected.  Its always a great feeling to finish a book.

Since the Tennessee Vols just lost their opener, it may increase my counseling cases this week.

Relieved to hear the good reports about Gustav . . . let's pray the positive news continues into Tuesday

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Night Thoughts . . .

Thoughts before I go to bed . . .
- I am thrilled to see my mother-in-law (no sarcasm).   Peggy is a great mother-in-law and friend.   She is in town until Monday.
- Hurricane Gustav is hard to believe.   I feel horrible for all the destruction this hurricane is causing in The Carribbean, and will potentially cause in our country.   There is this part of me amazed at the fury and magnitude of a hurricane, and I feel a little guilty with that fascination.
- Beth, my sister Shelby, Margie Huff and other friends in the "soccer mom" category were thrilled with Sarah Palin as a vice-president nomination.  The circle of women in my life have never been so excited about a political news item.   Brilliant move and timing by John McCain.
- The city of Hendersonville is really excited about MiMi's Cafe.
- In case you ever need a quick Saturday night dinner, the Cracker Barrell in Whitehouse was almost empty tonight.  We met Rich and Jessica there (Beth's brother and wife).

- I think Tailgate Sunday will be a nice change of pace tommorrow.   We are setting up for it at 6:30 a.m. tommorrow.

- Brent and Kirsten Batson - my good friends from Austin - are somewhere in Nashville tonight. They may be in church tommorrow, but they will probably be on their way to Gatlinburg.  Brent will be preaching this Wednesday night.
- Two of my friends from HS are getting married this weekend (not to each other) . . . Both are in their early 30's, both on first marriages.  People really are getting married later in life these days.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Take the Next Step

As I pursue things God has put on my heart, I am discovering the power of the "next step."  Whenever you chase something big, there is a little voice that tells you to stop or give up because the dream seems too hard or so far away.  At other times, we might think someone else has done what we want to accomplish or could do it better.   Taking the next step can sometime seem futile and undproductive.   Yet, when we ignore that voice and take that next step, God often has two or three steps immediately ready for us.   Even if you don't feel like it, take the next step.

Quote #5
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - -Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Good Tired / The NET

Oh man, I am tired.   But in a good way!   There is a certain type of tired that feels good - Like:
- The "tired" after a long jog
- The "tired" after winning a game
- The "tired" after finishing an academic test or project you know you aced
- The "tired" after worshipping God with all your heart
It feels great to feel "spent" for the work of God.    I am amazed at how hard the staff at Indian Lake is working right now.   I know God is going to bless this effort, and we are about to see some really great fruit. 

Quote #4
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."

Today, we hosted the Hendersonville Youth Pastor's Network (a.k.a "The Net") at the church for their monthly lunch.   It was good fellowship.   Jonathan did a great job leading some worship, and David did a fantastic job on the devotion.    I felt like our church was represented well by the entire time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Newcomers / Stocker / College Football

Tuesday night we had a great representation at our Newcomers Dinner.  It was great to meet new people, and to see how a diverse group of people are interested in The Church at Indian Lake.  Steve and Janeen Kohler were great host.

I really enjoyed David Stocker's preaching tonight.   This guy was full of passion and was an excellent communicator.  He is the first of several "home-grown" talents we are going to have in the next few weeks.  I really like having different speakers on Wednesday nights for a few reason:
1. It gives people an opportunity to use their gifts. 
2. It frees me up for more time with staff, church members and creative thinking when I don't have a Wdnesday night message to prepare.  People or sermon prep?  When it comes to Wednesday nights, I choose people
3. It provides different voices to the church.
4. People don't get tired of me.   Seriously, my voice doesn't get too "familiar."  No one is so good of a speaker that people can hear them 2 to 3 times a week without listening fatigue.

Tomorrow night is an important night for me - the college football season starts.   I know that is a little silly, but I love college football.  I am looking for the first upset of the year to be NC State over South Carolina on Thursday.   Though I hate to admit this, I think Miami (Ohio) will beat Vanderbilt.

Speaking of football, Tailgate Sunday will be really great.   David and I have a couple of sideline passes to film clips at Thursday's Hendersonville-Beech game.   It should be fun to use the new camera on some gridiron clips.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Making of A Great Church Outside of Sunday Morning

When I think about Sunday, I feel great about The Church at Indian Lake.   Beyond the service (which was a good one), we had positive things happen beyond the hour and thirty minutes.

- Our men's Bible Study before church has grown.
- We have a great sign up for our Newcomers Dinner on Tuesday . . . our best group yet!
- The Young Adult lunch was well attended and a positive experience . . . the group is really growing in camaraderie.
- Kenny Powell and Chris Taylor took a small group of boys (including my son Luke) to Circus World as a reward for their Scripture memorization over the summer.  Kenny and Chris are great leaders!  Luke had the time of his life!
 - Both of our 242 Hendersonville Groups were packed . . . we had lots of young families involved (thank you church for paying for childcare).
- We are starting the 4.6 Experience for 4th - 6th graders on September 7  . . . this is our most crucial age of discipleship.  I am pumped about this!

God is building a great church, and the Sunday service is just one aspect of it.   The most effective ministry usually happens outside the Sunday morning service.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Week in Review / Modern Gadgets

I was on a roll in my blog, but this week was wild and I lost steam. Here is a quick breakdown of my week:
Tuesday - Leadership Board meeting . . . the best one we ever had. We were able to dream about the future. Everyone appeared to leave energized. Plus, we got to eat a meal cooked by Beth Barnett and Judy Terry - which is always good.
Wednesday - Loved our communion & prayer time during the mid-week service . . . so nice!
Thursday - Launched our 50+ ministry. Great turnout, great home cooking, and even better fellowship. I think this ministry will be an important part of our future. Any name suggestions?
Friday - During parent's night out, we had an impromptu dinner with Clay and Tawana Baggat ( It was the first time Beth and Tawana have hung out extensively, and they connected as well as Clay and I do.

After resisting quite a while, I am on Facebook. I even started "status updates." If you have or want to join the social networking revolution, look me up.

The latest iphone addict
I also reluctantly got an iphone this week. I must admit, I am in love (i know that is lame!). This really will be a revolutionary device.

Quote #3

""Every man is entitled to be valued by his best moment" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Day Off with "True North"

I had a good day off on Monday. 

I read about half of a book called True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George.  So far, this is the best leadership book I have read in years.   Bll George teaches at Harvard Business School, and he has lead billion dollar companies.   I look forward to finishing it this week.  I am getting a ton out of this writing . . . perhaps I'll summarize some things in future blogs.

Tuesday has become my big meeting day.   I have my weekly Staff Meeting and the monthly Leadership Board Meeting on this Tuesday.  A long day, but I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Reflections / The Water Cooler

Sunday Reflection
Powerful worship today - as usual!   I was glad to introduce the church to Soul Walk.  I am not crazy about the name (ha!) - but I believe in the event.   I was able to pray with someone who needed salvation, then I took communion with this man - his first time to do so.   What an honor! 

After service Beth and I had a great first meeting with Lead One - a mentoring time with high school seniors.  I think this could be the beginning of something special.   

I will rest a bit this afternoon, then we'll play a game of  Ultimate Frisbee with the young adult group.  I don't know if I am ready for this;  I will have to give a report later.

The Water Cooler
It?s been a long time since David and I have done a Water Cooler Episode.   Its pretty much non-sense, but if you are interested in a potential laugh, visit and click on "The Water Cooler" link on the left.  Laugh with us, not at us!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Children's Conference Over

Just finished the Tennessee District Children's Conference that was hosted at our church. I was in and out during the weekend, but I was impressed with the sessions I was in. I am very grateful for the hard work of Chad Clark (who ran media) and Penny Cowart (who ran sound and was our staff host). I was also glad that Deanna Powell and some of the children's staff attended - they acquired some great ideas for our children's ministry. Bob Driver and Don Tracy did repairs to the sign on our building - those guys are studs!

On this quiet Saturday night preparing for service, I am very grateful for the team God has assembled at Indian Lake!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Paris / Camera / Children's Conference

I talked on the phone yesterday with Robby Bradford, who is planting a church in Paris, France in 2009-2010. Robby is going to come see us in the next few weeks on a Wednesday night to keep that connection with our church. I am praying that Paris, France will be a major missions emphasis for our church in '09 and '10. We are going to start working on a mission trip for '10.

I believe one of the reasons The Church at Indian Lake exists is so we can plant churches in western Europe. Does that sound outrageously ambitious? Of course it does - that is why we need God! It is also why we need to start somewhere. Getting behind Robby's vision is a great start!

New Camera Here!
Our new, expensive, high end, HD camera arrived at Pastor David's home Thursday afternoon. We are giddy!

Children's Conference Starts Today
We will have 75 to 100 Children's Workers from across Tennessee at our church this weekend. I love being around leaders - this should be fun. This is a great opportunity for us, as Jim Wideman will be the featured speaker. Jim is an amazing talent in children's ministry - I don't know of anyone better. To learn more about Jim, check out this link - Jim Wideman's Bio

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back to School Blessing / Summit Report #2

Back to School Blessing

Saturday was a dream come true! Over 40 people from our church volunteered for the Hendersonville Back-to-School Blessing. In a couple of hours we gave groceries to 52 families, and school supplies to over 100 kids. Kim Driver did an amazing job leading this event. I felt honored to pastor such a wonderful group of people.

Summit Report #2 - Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels is the Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, and the visionary for the The Leadership Summit. This event would be worth attending just to hear his talks and be exposed to his heart for the local church. Every time I attend this event, I walk away from a story from Bill that sticks with me for the rest of my ministry. He is not a perfect man, and he is a target for critics. However, when the history books are written on the Church during these decades, Bill Hybels will be remembered as one of the most influential and positive leaders of our era.

Special Note: Bill's daughter Shauna Niequist is the author of the book Cold Tangerines. Shauna's husband Aaron is the worship leader at Mars Hill Church in Michigan, where Rob Bell is the pastor.

She will be the guest speaker at The Church at Indian Lake on Sunday, November 23. We are thrilled at this opportunity!

Summit Report #1

Summit Report #1 - Gary Haugen

Gary Haugen's talk was life changing. Gary is the founder of International Justice Mission - "an international human rights agency that rescues victims from violent forms of oppression, including slavery, sexual exploitation, trafficking, police brutality and illegal property seizure."

I found Gary's talk and life to be inspiring and challenging. Here are some good quotes from Gary:

- Just because I am leading, and people are following doesn't mean its what God is wanting.
- What is God's plan for justice? We are! God doesn't have another plan

- If you want your leadership to matter, then lead in the things that matter to God.

- If you say, "Justice is not my thing. . . " then, God is not your thing. God is about justice.

- Jesus did not call us to make us safe, he has come to make us brave.
- Anyone can lead people in what is "cheerful", "safe" and "easy"
Your community needs to know that those without a voice have a man of justice."
- Being brave comes from prayer.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Leadership Summit

The Leadership Summit

Last Thursday and Friday I attended the Leadership Summit that is put on by the Willow Creek Association. The event is in Chicago, but they simulcast it throughout the world - hence the video feed in nearby Franklin, TN. The event was amazing! This particular leadership conference always invigorates my call and gives me fresh vision. It's one of those events that may not be for everyone, but it makes my heart come alive. For two days, I heard from both leading pastors and CEOs, which gives me a wide range of perspectives. On top of this, the sessions by Bill Hybels are always insightful and anointed. Over the next couple of weeks, I will post some good quotes and highlight some amazing leaders that I was exposed to during this event.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I had a really good few days last week, but I didn't blog because I was frustrated with some hosting issues for this blog. So, I will catch up everyone little by little to keep with this theory: To have people actually read your blog, you have to keep the post down to a few lines per paragraph.

Sand Volleyball with the Young Adults

Last night, Beth and I played volleyball with the young adult group
from the church (see pic of this great group). It was a lot of fun . . . I kind of got into it (see pic for evidence). I was surprised how quick the competitive juices got flowing again. I wasn't near as athletic as I used to be (no surprise), but I still hung with the youngsters.

A Day Off In the Flower Beds
I had a true day off on Monday. The weather in the Nashville area was amazing (can't believe its August!), so I spent most of the days pulling weeds from my flower beds . Since I
neglected this all summer, it was an all day job. I lost a lot of flowers in the process, and it made me think of this passage as I worked . . .

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared . . . The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up? No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. - Matthew 13:24-30

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Value of a Church Family / Young Adult Ministry

The Value of a Church Family for a Lead Pastor
In recent weeks I have found great value in the prayer team that is interceding before each service. Typically, I only spend a few minutes with them, but that short amount of time gives me a lot of spiritual confidence and encouragement for the service ahead. On Sunday, I went through my typical process with them, but before I left the group a woman spoke up and asked to pray specifically for me. She had recognized something in my life in which I needed confidence. As she and others in that group lovingly prayed words of
encouragement and blessing, I was touched by the thought of "community." Even though God has given me a certain level of authority and headship in this church community, I was still receiving ministry from me fellow brothers and sisters. God has placed pastors to not only lead a church, but to be part of a faith community. Sunday morning was a great reminder that I am part of a family, not just a paid professional.

College / Young Adults
For the last two Sunday nights Beth and I have been leading the College / Young Adult group at our house. We have had a really good turnout, and we have really enjoyed getting to know this great group of young people. This is our third time to work directly with this age group, and though it has unique challenges, I love this age group.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Station Camp Football Camp / Baptism Pictures

Station Camp Football Camp
On Tuesday I went to Camp Nacome outside of Centerville, TN (about 1 1/2 hour from Nashville). The Station Camp football team were at their pre-season football camp. For the third year in a row I had the privilege of speaking to the team. I really like the way Coach Hollingsworth and his staff work with the team. This is something I really look forward to each year.

I wrote a little yesterday about our water baptisms on Sunday. Here are some good pictures of that day:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday's Service / Jerry Sutton

Sunday's Sermon - The reluctant river
On Sunday, God led me to speak on Ezekiel 47 - which references a vision that shows the river that flows from the temple. The Spirit kept leading me to this passage, but I was resistant. The reason I resisted was my association of "the river" with some revivals in the '90's. I have been avoiding for the last decade songs, slogans and other references to "the river." However, as I studied Ezekiel 47 and corresponding passages, I rediscovered that "river" is actually the Holy Spirit. I was reminded through the Scripture that God is the first one to make the anaology of "the river" for the Holy Spirit. WIth that reminder in mind, I can now say, "Let the river flow." More importantly, let "the river - the Holy Spirit - flow through me!

Water Baptism Experience
Sunday, we had our second water baptism experience of the summer. Is there anything more meaningful than our baptisms? I am thrilled to have our church body gather around the "feed trough" to create a holy moment. There were several children we baptized, and I thank God for each of them. I was especially thrilled to baptize my good friends Chad and Kristen Clark. Kristen started following Jesus through our church plant that met at Guild Elementary in Gallatin. To watch her and Chad grow in the Lord the last three years has been thrilling for me!

Jerry Sutton's Resignation - a sad story
I was sad to read today that Jerry Sutton, the pastor of Two Rivers Baptist in Nashville, took early retirement due to pressue from some of his congregation. You can read the article in Monday's Tennessean newspaper. I have no idea wether or not his season was done, but I do know that way this circumstance came about was sad, and did not glorify God. Basically, the article summed up what has happened in this quote - "Sutton and church leaders hope his retirement will bring an end to a 14-month conflict. In the summer of 2007, a group of dissident church members sued Two Rivers, seeking Sutton's ouster and access to church financial records." Perhaps Jerry Sutton's season has ended, but it shouldn't have happened through disgruntled members, lawyers and the media. Disgruntled church members are the meanest creatures on God's planet. There may be some the bemoan Jerry Sutton's salary and retirement package, but they have no idea the pressures and unique challenges of a senior pastor's role. I pray for better days for both Two Rivers Baptist and Dr. Sutton.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Since Tuesday . . .

Here is a catch up of some things that happened this week . . .

BJ Christopher
- It was great on Wednesday night to hear a missions report from BJ Christopher. At age 72, this dear lady went on a mission trip with no one else she knew when she traveled to Kenya last year. She is going back again, and we are all proud of her courage.

Arts Camp / Lamplighter Theatre
- My friend and actor Greg Wilson hosted an Arts Camp for teenagers this week in Hendersonville. The final presentation was at our church on Thursday night. It was fun to see these students share their talents with all their family and friends. Greg is going to help The Church at Indian Lake partner with Lamplighter Theatre Company for their upcoming season of theatre. If all goes well, our church will be hosting It's A Wonderful Life this December, followed by some great shows in the Spring. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Preparation for The Hendersonville Blessing
Kim Driver and her team worked very hard in preparation for August 9th. I am so proud of the hard work I am seeing from our Compassion Team. I am so ready for our church to start outreach ministry.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Super Tuesday / Star Sighting

It was a super busy Tuesday at work . . .
- checked in at the church
- covered a surgery
- answered several calls
- worked on finances
- got a haircut (ok - not work related!)
- a pre-marital counseling session
- a board meeting
After 13 hours of work, I still have two sermons to write. But, I am not complaining - I love my job . . . love my call.

Star Sighting
At the surgery this morning, Bill Purcell (ex-mayor of Nashville) was in the lobby with his daughter. We made eye contact at the coffee pot. I wanted to talk about his potential run for governor, but it didn't seem appropriate for his family or the wife of the patient I was sitting with. For the record, in 1998 I forced Beth to watch the mayoral debate while were young residence of Davidson County. I was pulling for the now forgotten Jay West. I was convinced Beth would agree with me, but she liked Purcell - and he got elected.

They're back!!!! So glad to have Beth and the kids home again - thank God!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday at PWI

Jeff Deyo is hosting the Pure Worship Institute at Living to Go Church in Goodlettsville this week. On Monday night, Indian Lake's very own Jonathan Lee led an incredible time of worship. After five years of ministry with Jonathan, I believe it was the best his voice ever sounded and the most anointed I have ever heard his ministry. By the way, he did great Sunday too.

It was encouraging to have a lot of people from Indian Lake in attendance. This extended beyond the teenagers (which we expected), as we had quite a few of our adults.

I was personally thrilled to meet Kent Henry, whose ministry impacted my life years ago. Kent wants to come minister at The Church at Indian Lake - I look forward to that day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend Reflections . . .

Saturday at the Lake

I spent some of Saturday on Old Hickory Lake with some friends. You kind of forget how neat it is to have a major recreational lake in Hendersonville. It was great fun . . . however, I'll try not to go tubing again on Saturday, because I was sore and stiff for Sunday's service.

Sunday's Service
Well, I can feel people's prayers. During Sunday's message I strayed from my notes and begin to speak under God's anointing. I feel a little awkward stating that, because my desire is to always have his hand upon me when I speak - and I believe that this is the case. However, there are special times when you feel a unique impartation of His power and influence. Yesterday, was certainly the case. I felt that prophetic preaching was coming forth, and it is humbling to have God use me in that way.

Quote #2
"Every conflict is the byproduct of immaturity." - Rick Warren

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Woking From Home

Working From Home
I have started working from home on some days. I did this exclusively in 2005-2006, so I have the remnant of a functional home office. I love seeing people at the church during the week. Being with people is what I love about my job. However, solitude and focused study is so beneficial for my creativity, speaking and spiritual leadership. When describing this same dilemma about himself, Mark Batterson described me also:

Just thought I'd share a personal observation I've made recently. On personality assessments I come out as an extrovert. But as a pastor I'm around people all the time so I honestly feel like I get my batteries charged by time alone. I love days like today--lots of interaction with lots of people. It's energizing. But it's also exhausting. So I've come to the conclusion that I'm an extrovert by personality and an introvert by necessity. If I didn't have an outlet to be with people I'm sure I'd go crazy. But because of the nature of what I do--pastoring a church . . . lots of meetings--I need some PT to stay fresh. = Mark Batterson ( - Tuesday, July 15, 2008)

Great Quote #1
Friendship is like an involuntary reflex, it just happens – Narrator on TV Show How I Met Your Mother (I don't recommend the show . . . but, I love the quote)

Highly Recommended
If you ever get the urge to buy a url, please choose I have used all the domain companies, and this one is the cheapest, easiest to navigate and has the best customer service. And no, they did not pay for this celebrity endorsement.

Friday, July 18, 2008

No - for now
I haven't blogged in the last few days because my url ( had been down while being transferred to a new domain company. However, I realized that my blog was still active on In the next few days will be back up - I know that will make a huge difference in your life - ha!

Family News / Bachelor Time
I am missing my family terribly - but now that Abbey calls me at random times, and has even sent me a text message from her Mom's phone - I feel more connected. I am happy Beth and the kids get this annual sabbatical in Kentucky. Their time with all their grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins is an important summer tradition. I also enjoyed being there Sunday afternoon through Tuesday with my mom. Beth's mother and family are just special people - and we cherish these years as we see many of them getting older. We are blessed to have such a great extended family on both sides of our tree.
If you have never visited you can hear three great songs from my all-time favorite singer! I think its time for some new songs, so when you see Beth join me in the campaign for new music.

Wednesday's Service / The Compassion Team

On Wednesday we had an unusually powerful time of prayer and declaration during our Wednesday night service. I felt a great energy that added life to our mid-week service. The beautiful part of this night was what occurred after the service. We took the enthusiasm and empowerment and directed it towards action in our community. Kim Driver lead our first Compassion Team ministry. The Compassion team exists to create events and ministries that will meet people's tangible needs in the community. By meeting people's needs we will demonstrate the love of Christ and open doors for the message of Christ to spread. We had great participation at this meeting, and I believed that all involved are as excited as I am about the future. Our first compassion event will be the Hendersonville Blessing on Saturday, August 9th. The Church at Indian Lake will be providing groceries and school supplies for families as a blessing before school starts. The level of the church's financial participation in the offering on Sunday, July 20th will determine how many families we can bless. I invite you to pray about what your participation in this event and offering can be.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back in Town / Youth Get Away

We got back Sunday night from our long weekend in Gatlinburg. It was very weird to not be in church on Sunday morning, but I knew our service was in great hands with the staff. The decision to have Sunday as my last day of the trip instead of the first day was very valuable. I usually miss one Sunday a year just in case you think I am slacking - ha!

This morning I watched the vans load at 5:30 a.m. with teenagers on their way to Florida. The youth group's summer trip to Florida is one of the most important things the church does all year. Our teenagers are challenged spiritually, and its a great time for them to bond with both their leaders and each other. One of my dear friends, Clay Baggat, will be our camp speaker. Clay was a very successful youth pastor, and he is now the lead pastor of Living to Go Church in Goodlettsville. You can learn more about Clay 's personality by listening to our "Conversations" podcast titled "Rebellious PK." In your prayers, let's pray for a spiritual breakthrough in our teenagers that will ignite our church and community. God can do this! Let's believe for more than hype - let's believe for a revolution to start with our kids.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Cook Out / Gatlinburg

Cook Out
On Wednesday, the church had our Independence Day Cook Out. It was a great success - good turn out, great hamburgers, perfect weather. It would not have happened without the hard work of the Acevedos and Barnetts. Great job guys!

Yesterday, my family all took off for Gatlinburg. We are in an incredible, brand new cabin in a community called Settlers Ridge. It far exceeded our expectations! I have already been able to relax and spend time with my kids and nephews. Since I am not preaching on Sunday, this is one of the few times in the year I can mentally relax. We are about to leave for a favorite spot in the Smokey National Park - a natural stream shallow enough for the kids to swim in, and clear enough to see them when they slip and fall.

July 4th
Happy 232 to the US!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Week End Reflections

Yesterday was one of those ultimate days. Our service was full of joy, and you could really sense that when we closed with the song "How Can I Keep From Singing?" I was able to baptize my first-born son, Luke. Could a father ask for a better moment? I hope to post a picture of that later.

Sunday afternoon we spent with the Novelos, some special friends from Texas. We were really honored they took time to visit us and the church. We then went to the youth talent show, which was an overwhelming success. I think a tradition at Indian Lake may have been started.

On this Monday, the high in Nashville is only suppossed to be 81. My sister and her family are in town, so I am going to figure out a way to get outside on my day off. I am hearing rumors in our house about a trip to the zoo.

Friday, June 27, 2008

VBS Week - A Good Throw Back

This has been a great week during our Vacation Bible School. With all that has changed in the world, there are some things that have changed very little. VBS is one of those few things that haven't changed:

- Craft Time still exist
- Goofy songs that adult find themselves humming at randomn times still exist
- Teenagers still do the drama / skits
- Snack time / meal time still is the best station
- The gender with the highest offering, still puts a pie in the adult leader's face (the modern version is "slimed" with green slime)
I never realized that a VBS would become timeless in our ever-changing culture.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Spiritual Fathers

On Sunday I spoke about the role of "spiritual father's" in our lives. There have been so many spiritual fathers to me, but here is a list of some in my life - and what they are doing now.
- J. Don George: Pastor George was my pastor from age 4 until I moved to Nashville in 1995. He is still the pastor of Calvary Church in Irving, TX.
- Brent Batson: Brent was my sixth-grade football coach, and he led me to a relationship with Christ. He is now the pastor of The Church of the Springs in Dripping Springs, TX. No one can disciple young men like Brent can.
- John McKinzie: John is my long time mentor. As my Jr. High pastor John called forth the gifts in my life. As an adult I worked with John nine years, and we never got in a fight. My friendship with him is an example of true Christian brotherhood. John pastors Hope Fellowship in Frisco, TX - a church I helped him plant.
- Maury Davis: Maury was my youth pastor when I was in Jr. High (John was his assistant). Maury then gave me my first full-time job in the ministry, and brought me to Nashville. I learned from Maury so many professional qualities, and he has shown me so much about growing a church. He is still the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Madison, TN.
- Rod Loy: Rod is a family friend I have known all my life, and he was a pastor at my home church while I was growing up. Rod has been part of my life during key times, but in the last year his influence has increased as he is mentoring in me a greater heart for the lost and missions. Rod is the pastor of First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, AR.
- There are several others, but this are some of the pre-imminent spiritual fathers in my life. I thank God for each of there imprints on my life.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blog Catch Up

I have abandoned the "blogging" world the last two weeks for no good reason. However, it's been a great summer so far, and I have had two short, but amazing trips.

- In late May, Beth and I went to Colorado to officiate a wedding at the Air Force Academy (notice pictures of the amazing Cadet Chapel). It was such a privilege that the Linz family brought us there, as they are such special friends of our. I am very impressed with Charles Linz and his new bride Jennifer. They are a wonderful young couple. I love the Denver area!

Philly / NYC

- On Thursday and Friday I went to the suburbs of Philadelphia to visit my friend Rick Steimling. It just so happened, that Jonathan Lee & Matt Underwood were leading worship just a few miles away at The East Coast Worship Summit ( It was a blessing to hear Jonathan lead in a different setting; Paul Jackson was their with Media Shout - so I hung out with Paul after the conference. On Friday, Rick and I drove to New York City (about two hours) to watch a Mets game in Shea Stadium (see pic above). It was fun to sit among the locals. The crowd had a definite New York flavor, which made the night entertaining and colorful. Oh yeah, there was a baseball game, too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Reflections

I had a fantastic weekend! Usually Memorial Day weekend is a challenging Sunday for churches. We bucked the trend with a good attendance, offering and a great focus on God during our service. Several people commented on how strong the presence of God was in our Sunday service.

On Sunday afternoon the family dropped by the Bagwell's farm to visit our two dogs that are staying there. (By the way, if you know someone who would be a loving dog-owner of two great Beagles, both the Allison and Bagwell family would be grateful to pass along these lovable creatures). My family then headed to the Franklin Drive-In to watch Indiana Jones 4. Going to drive-in is like a step back in time. My favorite part of the evening was playing soccer and football on the lawn with the kids. A great night together!

Monday was a nice Memorial Day, and my 33rd Birthday. I know soon I'll be trading "early" thirties for "mid" thirties . . . I will savor 33. We cooked out at my Mom's and enjoyed the fellowship of some drop-by company that evening. A great, long weekend!

Friday, May 23, 2008

48 Hours with no Phone

I am in the middle of our anniversary trip, and we are having a great time! I decided to leave my mobile phone and laptop at home (I am using Beth's computer) - and I don't regret this a bit. I am very relaxed, and I am grateful for this time together. Now, off to another nice dinner!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Reflections

Friday night was my 10th Anniversary with Beth, and we spent it at home with the kids. It was actually rewarding to have a night at home . . . the seem harder to get. We'll do it up right later on this week when Beth and I will stay at at nice B&B in an undisclosed location in Tennessee. Beth deserves the trip to Hawaii . . . maybe at the 15 year mark?

Dr. Charles Gaulden gave a great message on Sunday. Dr. Gaulden is a professor at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. He holds a special place in the hearts of our members from The Hope Center. His father had been gravely ill, and he passed away during the service. He took the news well as it was expected and his father had lived a good, Christian life. Please pray for him as he joins his family in South Carolina for the funeral.

I had to pinch hit and lead a 2:42 Hendersonville #2 group on Sunday night. It was so nice to get to know some of my church family better - this was a very fun group. Even if the night had been horrible, Beth Barnett's "Buffalo Chicken Dip" was truly amazing!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Guys From Chattanooga

Today I had a visit from some minister's from Chattanooga. Damon Passons and Doug Simms are two guys I worked with at Cornerstone, and they planted a successful church called Hamilton Life Church ( They brought another church planter from Chattanooga named Dana Jenkins to pick up some church plant supplies we no longer need. Dana started a church in March called Embrace Church ( Luke - the youth pastor at Hamilton Life - came also. These four made up a creative and fun group. It's great to be around some young guys who are giving their lives to the local church.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A great Mother's Day

I was very proud of Beth on Sunday. She put a lot of heart in her message, and I got so many positive comments after service. After service I picked up Zaxby's, and we ate our Mother's Day lunch at home with some friends. My Mom was in Dallas visiting my sister. I then took the kids to the park so Beth could crash! What else would a mother rather do on Mother's Day than nap!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Book You Choose for Starbuck's

I was meeting someone at Starbuck's this morning, and had a few minutes to kill. Like I always do when waiting, I grabbed a book. Of the several books in my back , I had the thought "which was is coolest?" I then realized that the book you choose for Starbuck's is different from any other location. It is at Starbuck's that people will either ask you what your reading, or will peek to see what the title is. You don't want to be caught with anything on the Top Ten list of Family Bookstore or with the last name Lucado or Swindoll (though I like both authors). A foreign author or something from Oxford Press will be an interesting book and will impress the nosy. So the next time you have to kill time at Starbuck's, bring an impressive book.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A book that changed my life . . .

I realized earlier this week that 10 years ago I read a small book that Beth gave me called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (and its all small stuff). I read this book on the way to a mission trip we were leading to Chicago. At that time in my life I was very uptight, always making a big deal over little things. I was a micro-manager, and I was always irritated. Reading this short book caused a major attitude adjustment in my life. I haven't picked it up again in ten years, but I think it is unique to have written words still impact my life after a decade.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The World is Flat

For our Wednesday night teaching, I tried something different. I spoke out of a secular book. I wanted to share something I learned that that will effect the way we live our lives. Ultimately, it will effect the way we respond as a church. The book is called The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. I got a lot of positive responses from this, so I may do this again in the future.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Day at the Hospital

Yesterday I spend all day at the Baptist Hospital while Lana Tracy had surgery. The surgery was 6 1/2 hours long, and it appears to be successful. Don and Lana are some of my dearest friends. They have two of the biggest hearts I have ever known. Kevin Timblin and Jason Hylton hung out with me and Don during most of the surgery.

Don was so considerate of my time. He kept telling me to not "burn my day" by sitting with him. I stayed with him anyway - partly because I was trained that way, but mostly because Don is fun to hang out with. When I was a staff pastor at Cornerstone we were trained to stay with a family for the duration of a surgery. This has produced some long days at the hospital, but I have found these times to be some of the most rewarding days of ministry. Those long surgeries give me a chance as a minister to really get to know people and their families. We get way past the small talk, and really enjoy some good fellowship that passes the time during the surgeries. Of course, it is an honor to pray with the patients as well. Hospital visitation is one of the core values I think a pastor needs to stay connected to.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


This week I spent Monday and Tuesday in Chattanooga for the annual meeting of the Tennessee Assemblies of God. It was great to hang out with some other pastors. They conduct church services at this event, but I get the most refreshment from just hanging out with like-minded people. Clay Baggett, Damon Passons and Kirt Steinbach are some of the guys who make me glad I am in this movement. A trip to Chattanooga is always worth it when you eat at "Sticky Fingers." I ate lots of meat on the bone, and felt very primitive. Chattanooga is a great city.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Luke the Mountain Climber

Beth and the kids took off for Kentucky yesterday, so I am flying solo this week. After four months of intense activity, the prospect of a quiet house was a nice change of pace. However, it was particularly hard to see them leave because the kids are at such a fun age. I can see that my efforts to spend more time with my six year old Luke is making a positive difference in him, so I hated to stop that momentum. But when I heard he climbed the small mountain behind Beth's childhood home today with his older cousin, I knew he was in the right place to be for his Spring Break. The picture above is a few months old, but its the look I imagine he had when he reached the top.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My So-Called Day Off

The last few weeks have been some of the most interesting and exciting days of my life. Unfortunately, its during that time that I tend to abandon things like my journal and blogs. Yesterday, I worked official work hours on a Monday. For the last three years I have been pretty good about avoiding the office on Monday. Even though this is part of my regiment, I must admit that working on Monday helped me get a great start to the week - I feel way ahead of the curve. I will consider moving my day off to Thursday or Friday.

Monday, February 18, 2008

President's Day with the Family

Today, I decided to apply the sermon that I preached on Sunday to my own life by "embracing today." I have no extra time to take a day off, but today is President's Day. And President's Day is not significant this year, besides the fact that my children were out of school and they will never be this young again. I told Beth when we woke up, "We'll long for this day twenty years from now." So, we spent the day together as a family, and we had a blast! We took pictures on the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge. We then went to "Love Circle" off West End Blvd. Lincoln especially took pride in climbing the hill - his personal Mt. Everest. We then had a late lunch / early supper at The Loveless Cafe on Hwy 100. We walked off the large meal with a short hike outside of Percy Warner park. Lots of laughs. Lots of pictures. A day I'll never forget.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sunday's Service - Amazing!

All I can say about Sunday is – Wow! Two great churches came together, and it was an explosion of energy and excitement. The Hope Center Fellowship was so welcoming. I know God was pleased to see His church come together. It was interesting to see people from both congregations recognize each other. Maybe all the different churches keep us from recognizing that those we work and shop with are our fellow brother and sisters. I hope to see more of His body coming together.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Great Meeting at The Hope Center

Tonight Beth and I had a chance to share the vision God has given me for a local chuch with the members of The Hope Center. The people seemed to receive us well. We felt so loved. I can't wait for my family at Sumner Life to connect with these great people.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Big Meeting Tonight

Tonight is my introduction meeting with the members of Hope Center Fellowship. I am so excited about this! I will miss being with my Sumner Life family, but I know they will have a great night with Kim Driver teaching. When I think about tonight's meeting, I am not really nervous. I am confident in God's vision He has shared with me, and to share that with a new group of people is quite an honor. There is genuine excitement and enthusiasm right now. This is such a special time.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Merge

It has been an exciting few weeks as the leadership team and I have been working on a merger with The Hope Center Fellowship in Hendersonville. The Hope Center Fellowship is a wonderful church that has been without a pastor for 14 months. In this proposed merge, I would be the lead pastor of the combined congregations. We would establish a new name for the merged churches to present a fresh face to the community. There are many reasons to merge, but here are some things that come to the forefront of my mind:
1. It demonstrates unity to the community. People are tired of churches splitting. It would be great to see two churches come together.
2. This move would allow both churches to be in a stronger position to reach the dream God has given them to be a church of influence.
3. This makes the churches stronger financially.
4. It enlarges the family.
With any merger there are challenges, but I desire for the people of both of these congregations to enjoy the miracle of this new opportunity. There are some rare times in life that life we are part of moments that are bigger than life and unforgettable. I hope people recognize this moment as such an opportunity. I pray that the song recorded in Psalm 126 can echo the experience of this new beginning:

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Welcome to 2008. We need a new year, but God doesn’t. Every year we look at a new calendar, and let the new year define our life, and create time boundaries. It’s so good to know that God isn’t limited by certain years; He is always doing a new and fresh work – daily.

Speaking of Jerusalem, Zephaniah described God within that city as:

The LORD within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail. – Zephaniah 3:5 (NIV)