Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Kickin' Back at Starbucks


Kickin Back at Starbucks
Originally uploaded by Johnny Leckie.
Leona and I had a great cheap date tonight - Taco Bell, Starbucks (with a gift card) and wandering around Southlake Town Square.

This pic sums it up pretty nicely...

Pictured are my new Christmas jeans, one of my old shoes, my tall gingerbread latte and the general ambiance of Starbucks...

Nice.

Posted a few more here.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas 2006

Leona and I want to wish all of you a very merry Christmas! Thanks for being a part of our adventure! The best is yet to come. ..

Saturday, December 23, 2006

O (un)Holy Night

We have to hear this at least once every Christmas. Fortunately there's now a MySpace page in the "O Holy Night Guy's" honor.

Check it out here.

And be sure to not miss the climactic ending. It always brings a tear to my eye...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Shopping Fun

Two Christmas ads/promotional signs I saw recently:

1. Sign outside of a "Flooring Supply" store: "Shop Here For All Your Holiday Flooring Needs!"

Ok, let's see....we've finished the Christmas shopping, decorated the house, set up the tree, sent out Christmas cards....Oh no, we forgot to get the Holiday flooring! Dang! Get back in the car!

2. Sign in Target store above some shelves of merchandise: "$2.50 each, OR 'Mix and Match'- 2 for $5.00!"

Wow, honey, look! What a great deal! If I only buy any one of them, it costs $2.50. But if I "Mix and Match," I can get two different ones for only $5.00!

Hel-LO...

Biggest Part of Christmas...

Forget "reason for the season;" He's just the biggest part.

Again, I know they mean well, but it still made me laugh.

Click to listen:




Thursday, December 14, 2006

First Steps (Part 2)

This post is the second in the "Steps" series. It's the "follow up" post to this one: First Steps

When we first arrived in the Alliance, Texas area, it was a place full of promise. There were new neighborhoods being built everywhere, and just a glance at a master plan for the area made it clear that this was the place to be. It was shaping up to be the fastest growing area in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

But when we started the church there were far more cow pastures than neighborhoods here. The neighborhoods were in the works, but the population was still pretty slim.

The "Alliance, Texas" area itself was more of a concept than a reality at that time, consisting of a master planned land development project by the Perot family (Yes, that Perot family .) And as such, it loosely included the towns of Keller, Roanoke, Haslet, Justin, Westlake, Northlake, Trophy Club and North Fort Worth within what is sometimes referred to as the "Alliance, Texas Corridor." A brilliant development with big business appeal, Perot's company, Hillwood, aimed at the big boys first. Retail and housing developments followed.

The heart of this development was the Alliance Airport, located about a mile or so away from the Texas Motor Speedway. When we discovered a building near the Airport that we could rent for worship services, we were excited. We would be able to meet in the dead center of the Alliance, Texas area. [Of course we didn't know at the time that it really was the "dead" center, but - more about that later.] Yes, one location to rule them all...:-D

Our last Sunday at the Church we were leaving was in October. I was free to begin recruiting team members around this time. One couple said, "Yes" right away. Another couple called us up and came on board a few weeks later. In November, another couple was on board. We had our first public worship service in January...

Yeah. About 2 months from Team to Start.

...It wasn't very pretty.

Of course, to most church planters today (myself included), starting public services this soon in the process would generally be considered insanity. But, start them we did. Not "despising the small beginnings," we basically hit the ground running and didn't stop running for four years.

And on a personal level, I knew that this was where God wanted me to be - planting a church, learning to risk, caring about people, becoming a servant, making sacrifices, working through challenges, creatively solving problems, becoming fully dependent on Him and working through my understanding of what church could and should be.

Today, the Alliance, Texas area is everything that was predicted about it in those early days. It is truly a booming area, adding new neighborhoods and retail environments at an amazing pace. There are people everywhere. For reaching that "boom" of population, however, we were probably about 3 years too early.

But I am certain that God wanted us here, nonetheless. When we didn't draw the crowds we had hoped for early on, I knew it was going to be tough, but hey. That's just part of the deal. What worthwhile endeavor isn't challenging?

Now it would be very easy for me to "pick apart" every decision at every turn and challenge we experienced along the way and spend a ridiculous amount of time over-analyzing why our church plant has drawn to a close after four years, but doing so would be tedious and unproductive. Instead, I'll be focusing on the things that I have learned and that will be helpful for the future. I'll throw in a few "behind the scenes" stories along the way.

The next post in this series will provide a basic "time line" of the journey of Compass Church.

...And what an exciting, difficult, powerful, frustrating and wonderful journey it has been...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Leckie Loco Salsa

This year, Leona and I decided to bottle up and give our delicious homemade salsa to my family members at the Leckie Family Christmas gathering.

We've been wolfing this stuff down in embarrassing quantities since we made the first batch this past summer, so we thought it was time to share.

Oh, man. Add some salted tortilla chips and this salsa's a taste of sweet heaven.

Click the image for a larger view, and be sure to read the "Nutrition Facts."

Hey, it's crazy tasty...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fellowship Church Christmas Fun Pack

Everyone present yesterday at Fellowship Church received this bag of promotional/invitational items following the services.

Pretty cool stuff.

I think that giving your church members and attenders great tools to make it easy to invite friends and family is generally better than using mass media invitations. It's a mix of produced quality and personal touch.

It also helps if they are very excited about what's going on at your church, and really do want to invite people. The church then becomes the "street team" and partners with the staff to reach out to those far from God.

That was definitely the case at Fellowship Church, yesterday. People grabbed this stuff up like crazy.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Photos From "Santa Duty"

Here are a few images from my "Santa Duty" tonight at the Roanoke Christmas Parade. Once again I had to stuff my jacket under my shirt to provide enough "girth" to keep my belt from falling to my knees!

Enjoy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Santa Duty Tonight

I have "Santa duty" tonight (Saturday, 12/2) at the Roanoke Christmas Parade. The parade and festivities (including free pictures with Santa) begin at 6 pm tonight in Roanoke and will be going on till about 9 pm or so.

If you live in Roanoke, Keller, or the general Alliance, Texas area you really should check this out. It's one of the more unique, fun and free Christmas celebrations in the area! If you're not yet in the Christmas spirit, this event will be just the ticket.

Oh, and if you make it to the event tonight, be sure to say hello. I'll be the one in Red and White...

A Plan For "Changing Plans"

Taking a cue from my sermon, "Crash: When the Plans Change," [Acts 27:1-28:10] here are a few things I'm currently working on during this time of transition:

* Remembering that plans change, but vision remains the same. [Acts 27:9-11] (Thanks, Andy Stanley & Visioneering)

* Understanding that sometimes the plan is out of our control. [Acts 27:11] (Unanticipated events, choices of others, and circumstances sometimes take the wheel for a period of time. When this happens, it is now "big picture" time.)

* Acknowledging that God is not limited by plans or the planet. [Acts 27:14-18] (Sometimes the vision is realized in a different way. There's nothing that takes God by surprise or that He hasn't planned for- even our mistakes.)

* Realizing that hope & stability can be found in instability. [Acts 27:21-25] (Uncertainty provides a powerful and unique opportunity for courage and faith to be strengthened.)

* Striving to obey God more than my plans. [Acts 27:30-28:10] (Taking my eyes off of my goals and more intensely onto God and His guiding.)

* Developing strong relationships. [Acts 27:1, 3, 6; 42-43] (Friends, neighbors, family and community.)

* Sharing the truth. [Acts 27:30-32] (Still caring enough to share Christ with neighbors and others in my community - there is no "break" from this. The mission is for all Christ followers, not just for church planters!)

* Staying connected to God. [Acts 27:35] (Daily time in prayer and Scripture, keeping the 'God lines' clear.)

* Meeting my needs. [Acts 27:33-36] (Lots of mental & physical rest, eating right, building financial resources, paying bills, focused time with my wife and kids, evaluating and planning.)

* Meeting the needs of others. [Acts 28:7-10] (Still volunteering, looking to meet needs in my neighborhood - interestingly, this confirms in me the authenticity of the serving, because I truly have no strings attached...)

When in doubt, love God and love people. Work on becoming and learning. Plans and "next steps" will generally follow and flow through that.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Big Little Church in Grapevine

We returned from Tennessee late last Saturday and made a last minute decision to help the attendance of a little country church in Grapevine on Sunday. :)

The service was incredible and was a nice change of pace for us. Kind of strange not leading anything on a Sunday morning, but this short break has been more refreshing and energizing than I imagined.

Keep following the "Steps" series for the inside scoop on where we've been and what's ahead.

Oh yeah, the coffee there was pretty good, too... 8^D

Thursday, November 30, 2006

First Steps

* This is the beginning of a series in which I'll be "unpacking" my experience thus far as a church planting pastor and how we arrived where we are. It won't be a voluminous anthology or anything, but by necessity the posts will be a little long. "Popcorn" posts on unrelated stuff will be scattered along the way...

In 1972, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized at the age of seven. From that day forward I have never known a time when I have not sensed God's leading and presence in my life.

When I was a teenager, God unmistakably called me to serve Him in full time ministry. I remember the night I fell on my knees at an altar in response to His calling and prayed fervently, "Lord, I'll do whatever You want me to do and I'll go wherever You want me to go."

And God has pretty much held me to that. In fact, He's had me "doing" and "going" quite a bit over the years.

In fact, I've been in ministry since 1984, serving in a paid staff position from then to now with no lapse between church positions.

[Do the math. I'm a "geezer" to some and a "whipper snapper" to others. But for just a little perspective, I'm two years younger than Johnny Depp, so I've definitely still got a lot of life in me. Barely getting started, in fact.]

I have served as a youth pastor, worship arts pastor, recreation coordinator, associate pastor and senior pastor. I've worked with children in a variety of ministry settings. I've been a summer missionary, written, produced and presented a full scale dramatic musical with orchestration, performed concerts, spoken to groups of all sizes, conducted weekly nursing home services, performed weddings, ministered in many funerals, made countless hospital visits, led hundreds of Bible studies, written worship songs, counseled students and parents of students and served in a variety of volunteer roles with the cities of my community.

I helped start a Christian club on campus and was in the first graduating class of the Caddo Parish Magnet High School for the performing arts and academics, receiving a diploma with distinction. I've earned a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry, and a Master of Arts in Religious Education, including a minor in Music and a Youth ministry specialization. I'm a certified graduate of the Covey Leadership Center's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." I was voted "funniest" in high school, and elected "wittiest" and "Junior Class Favorite"in college. I think I have a few perfect attendance certificates and other miscellaneous awards lying around somewhere. I like long walks on the beach and kissing in the rain. Yadda, yadda, I think you get the point.

And it's all fine and dandy. If you're a Christ follower, you could probably tell a similar story. If you're also a pastor, your list may certainly be longer than mine.

But when God called me to plant a church, I really entered a whole new world. It was one He had been preparing me for and one in which He wanted to prepare me.

Back in 2002, there was no mistaking that God wanted me to leave the comfort of a thriving, long term ministry (with a great salary package and housing allowance, I might add) and move to a new area for the purpose of planting a new church.

He didn't tell me what would happen next or how it would turn out, but He most certainly told me to go. To not go would have been disobedience.

And although I wrestled with it for an extended period of time, I eventually said, "Yes" again to His call, even as I remembered my teenage prayer. God's call is not static, after all, and the deal was still on.

So like a skydiver who grabbed a blanket to break his fall on his way out of the plane, and with only a slight backward glance, I jumped full force into the big blue sky.

(To be continued.)

Coffee Creek

Think "Wonka Land" for adults...
I've driven by this many times before, but just had to stop this time on our way back through Oklahoma.

Yes, it's a real creek.

No, it's not really flowing with coffee.

But can you imagine how jittery the fish would be?

If you happen to drive by "Lake Latte" or "Venti White Mocha Skinny Extra Hot With Whip Falls" please let me know. I'll bring extra cups.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Much To Be Thankful For

We have much to be thankful for.

I could make that statement at any point in my life and under any circumstances, because it is simply true.

Following the horror and loss of the American "War Between the States (Civil War)" in the last part of the 19th century, President Abraham Lincoln Proclaimed the need for a national day of repentance and thanksgiving to God.

Here is part of that proclamation:

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing
with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American
people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United
States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign
lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."


Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the day to the next to last Thursday of November to allow merchants a little more time to sell goods and services before Christmas during the Great Depression and here we are.

The Leckie family is spending this day in Maryville, Tennessee, visiting family. There will be 19 friends and famiy members gathered around the table in "Norman Rockwell" fashion to enjoy far more food and blessings than we deserve.

As we do, I will also be remembering some other famous words written to Christ followers in all times and circumstances:

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. " - Colossians 3:15 (NASB)


I pray the same for you. May God bless you with a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Solution to the "Adventure Beach Picture Code Game"

It seems only right that I provide the solution to the "Adventure Beach Picture Code Game" that has been on the Compass website since the summer. It's actually pretty clever, if I do say so myself!


It may have been too clever, however...

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, this game coincided with the "Adventure Beach" series, and involved solving several "clues" that were all based on the promotional image shown above. Solving the clues provided passwords that allowed the player to open a "pdf" file with more information and clues. There was also an "easter egg" link to fun extras like videos, mp3 music files, desktop wallpapers and things like that.

Solving all of the clues worked together to provide a final password to open the final "pdf" file that ends/wins the game. That final "pdf" file also contains the answers and rationales behind all of the clues, as well as direct links for the hidden "easter eggs" contained in all of the earlier files.

In other words, if you solve the final one, you get all of the rest.

So.

First, here's the link to the game, because it is no longer linked from our home page:
Adventure Beach Picture Code Game

Scroll to the bottom of the page and find "The End of the Game" and click on the phrase, "When you think you have the answer to win the game, Click Here to enter the password."

When prompted, enter the password...


But before I give you the password, let me pause to also mention that there was a hidden clue in one of the "Adventure Beach" sermons. It was at the beginning and end of the audio of the first message and it was played "backwards." Reversing the audio allows you to hear the clue as well as some Leckie family shenanigans. But you don't have to reverse the audio, because on the bottom of the page is also a link to the audio playing forward. Check it out. But I have to warn you, it's pretty silly.

Ok, so what's the solution? What is the password of passwords?


Here you go. The password is...



Are you sure you want to know this?



Really?


I bet you could figure this out with a little effort....


Alright.


Password.


You want the password.


Ok.


The password is..



Last chance.



I'm not kidding.


The password



is




splash



So now you know. Enjoy.

Thanks for the emails & comments

Thanks for all of the encouraging emails, offers of lunch, and opportunities to talk. If you haven't heard back from me yet, you will very soon. It's a busy time.

God's good, He's in control, and it's all going to be fine.

His voice has been pretty clear to me over the past few days. For that, and for all of the encouragement from many of you, I am very grateful.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Crash - When The Plans Change...(Reprise)

In the strangeness that is this week, this message is worth hearing again:

From the Series: Adventure Beach
Title: Crash - When The Plans Change

Jesus calls us to a life of adventure, not a long, tiring, annoying trip.

In this message, "Crash," we discover what we need to know and what we need to do when in the course of following God's vision for our life, the plans suddenly change.

To listen now, click the podcast icon below.

Crash - When The Plans Change

Run Time: 34:56

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And Then The Unthinkable Happened...

* Update...Click here.

Your reaction to this news may vary. Anything from "How can you do this?" to "What took you so long?"

Either way, I get it.

It ain't easy, so please be kind. The email went out this week:

Friends and Prayer Partners of Compass Church,

Thank you for all of your prayers and support as we have strived with all of our hearts to "re-plant" North Point Fellowship as Compass Church. We have worked very hard, made great sacrifices and reached out to our community in creative and strategic ways.

Please know that words cannot express how much it grieves me to share this with you. But this weekend marked the end of this phase of our journey. After much prayer and seeking on the part of our lead team, we now believe that God is drawing our church plant to a close.

Our final gathering and celebration of the past four years will be this Saturday, November 18th, 10:30am. I wanted to give you a "heads' up" before you see this in my blog or on our church website. Rest assured, there is no scandal or impropriety of any kind - we have just realized that God is leading us to move on.

We have great sadness and grief about this, but do believe that God is in it. I'm not sure what the next step for me and my family will be, but we are earnestly seeking God's direction and still greatly need your prayers. Our kids are a little freaked out right now, and money at the Leckie home is tighter than ever.

I will be blogging about more of the details and my thoughts related to this time of transition (http://johnnyleckie.blogspot.com) over the next week or so.

Thanks for your prayers, support and friendship.

Grace & Peace in abundance,

Johnny

Well, there you have it.

What was "unthinkable" by me as recently as last week has now become very "thought-able" and "a done deal-able." I'll be sharing more in the days ahead.

We greatly value your prayers, and I want to say thank you to everyone who has already voiced words of encouragement and support.

It looks like I may now be able to write the sequel to Mark's book. The working title is "Eaten by a Lion in a Pit on an Overcast Day with Medium to Mild Temperatures."

I'll have to get back to you on that.

In the mean time, I would greatly recommend reading Mark's book. (It's actually good stuff, and has nothing to do with the rest of this post!)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Church Planter Mood Pattern

No, it's not a design on a blanket that changes color with each new emotion or mood swing. Although that would be kind of cool and probably beneficial for marital conversations...

I'm talking about the fact that I've discovered something about myself over the past few months. I have a weekly "mood pattern" that I've unknowingly fallen into as a Church Planter.

It goes something like this:

Monday:
Depressed, frustrated, hopeless, ready to quit ministry altogether and explore a different career path. Psalm-like exchanges with God verbalized by me, usually when I'm in the shower...

Tuesday:
Not as depressed, though still frustrated, but now confused about whether to stay in ministry where I am or whether I need to pursue somewhere else. The idea of taking another career path now lurks farther back on the "back porch" of my mind. Mood wise, this is kind of a blurry day.

Wednesday:
No longer depressed, fog begins to clear and I begin to see things more clearly. I reflect on Monday and Tuesday with a "what was I thinking?" type of attitude. Thoughts of quitting anything have now turned to "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who comes against the army of the Living God???" Righteous indignation and holy motivation rule the day.

Thursday:
I reflect on my "church planter mood pattern" and strike a balance between acknowledging current realities and challenges and working toward future hope and possibilities. Not depressed, not overly optimistic, but feeling sharp and on task.

Friday - Sunday:
Mood "ups and downs" as events warrant, usually depending on the amount and success or lack thereof of events and worship experiences. (Try saying "thereof of" out loud. That pretty much sums up the mood.)

Now before you order me some Prozac, understand that "Church Planting" is an emotional, personal, highly spiritual, relational and often physically demanding experience. Many church planters as well as other Pastors could probably describe similar mood variations. The intensity and regularity of the mood pattern depends on the experience and temperament of the Pastor, as well as other factors. This is just my observation; I'm not a doctor or mental health professional, nor do I play one on TV...

The trick is discovering your mood pattern, recognizing it for what it is, and then plan your schedule and prayer life accordingly. I'm currently making adjustments to my calendar now to offset and even change the pattern in a way that prevents the "roller coaster" mood ride.

Some verses for the task:
Proverbs 25:28 - Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. - NIV
Philippians 4:13 - For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. - NLT
I'll let you know how it goes.

Until then, I'm going to let "mood" be what the cow did, rather than let it be what's ruling me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scary Church Signs

Ok, so I was driving down the road yesterday and saw a church sign displaying the following message:
"No mask can hide your sin from God."
True statment; bad use of church sign.

I guess since it's Halloween, this sign is meant to communicate, "Oh sure, you can put on your masks and eat candy and all that, but don't think you're fooling God! He still sees that you are a sinner. ...That's why you're wearing the mask, right?... To hide your sin from God?... Yeah. Well you can't do that. You're kidding yourself. That candy may be sweet, but hell is hot!....You... you...spawn of the devil!"

Alright, so maybe it isn't meant to communicate that. A Little exaggeration on my part, there. Chill out, people. Just having a little fun here. No need to get stakes and torches to storm my blog castle. :-) I'd hate to have to turn off comments here like Gary Lamb had to do after a post about fall festivals!

So anyway, I kept driving along and literally 4 minutes later I passed another church with the exact same phrase on their church sign!

Now that's scary.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: "The canned sayings have got to go."

[Disclaimer: I'm sure they are a great church with great people and I'm sure they mean well. I'm just talking about the issues, here, folks. We should hate the sign but love the signer.]

Book from across the pond

Have to give a quick public "thank you" to Martin Strickland in Combe Martin, North Devon, United Kingdom, for surprising me a few weeks ago with a book from my Amazon wishlist! I now have "Louder Than Words" by Andy Stanley and am looking forward to reading it.

I've never met Martin, but he lives in a very beautiful part of England. Here's a sample image from his blog:
Very nice.

My "Guitar in the wall" post from several weeks ago apparently cracked him up, and he decided to make my day.

That he did.

Thanks again, Martin!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Idiot Email Snafu

Ok, I'm an idiot.

I can't believe that I made such a goof up. Such a snafu.

Somehow in the setting up of the Compass contact email last November, I did something wrong. To make a long story short, last night I discovered 35 emails that had been sent to info[at]compasswired.com that we never received.

Some of those emails were from people who were very interested in our church...back in January.

Yeah.

I'm an idiot.

If you sent an email to us at that address and didn't hear back from us, that's the reason.

I've responded to those stray emails, but really - after 9 months, the prospects have a tendency to get a little cold.

"Oh, Technology...I love thee yet hate thee....But can't really blame thee, because in the end it was me." - Sir Johnny Da Idiot Snafu

Rats.

I'm going to bed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another Amazing Weekend

The "amazing weekend" from my last post was apparently so amazing that I was left blogless for over a week! Actually, if you’ve had trouble reaching me, I apologize. We’ve had a few technical (read financial) difficulties with a few services this week. :-D Hey, I'm just keeping it real, here, folks...

Another great weekend coming up for Compass and the Leckie Family, however.

Friday night:

We’ll be serving at the Harvest Ridge Neighborhood “Fall Festival.” My family will be wearing the Compass Church “colors” and handing out flyers about our Family Movie Night on the Green. Incidentally, another family in our church will be doing something similar at a festival in their new neighborhood.

Saturday:

AM
- Leona and I will be administering the ACT test to High School students in the morning. (The SAT went fine, by the way.) Before long, we will have given all of the alphabet tests out there….

PM -
"Family Movie Night On The Green." (Thanks, Scott Whitaker, although unbeknownst to you, for the cool "on the green" part of the name!) This is shaping up to be a cool but simple event. We’ll be showing the movie, “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” outside in the park across the street from the Roanoke Rec Center. We’re also showing a short promotional video trailer about our church before the movie:
“The following preview has been approved for all audiences by the people who are bringing you Family Movie Night on the Green…”
Another cool side note about this event is that we had 400 glow sticks and bracelets donated by a friend of Compass. Should be a fun surprise to our guests. But to you, it's just another reason to be there. :-)

Sunday:

AM

Ever After: Creating A Marriage That Thrives” Series continues. I'm taking a different angle on this topic than I have used in the past. I'm diggin' it.

PM
Crash on the couch with Leona and watch disk 4 of Lost Season 2.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An Amazing Weekend Ahead

This is going to be an amazing weekend. Full to overflowing, schedule overlapping, non-stop excitement.

I hope I survive it. :)

Here are the highlights:

Friday:

* Hopefully, our new T-shirts arrive (Navy blue and simple with a cool compass on the sleeve).

* Because of Saturday afternoon & Sunday morning (see below), we will be frantically cleaning our house, doing laundry and polishing things up.

Saturday:

* Leona and I are administering the SAT test for high school students from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Every extra penny's currently very precious. :-)

* Compass is serving at a big community event called, "Celebrate Roanoke" and the team is supposed to arrive at 11:30 a.m. Overlapping of schedules kick in here...

* Leona and I will grab a quick lunch on the way from the SAT, pick up our kids and meet up with the team around 1:30 p.m. We'll remain at this event till after 8:00 p.m.!

* During the event, we'll also be distributing flyers about our upcoming "Family Movie Night on the Green."

* Leona's parents arrive sometime in the afternoon. Hence, reason one for the aforementioned cleanup.

Sunday:

* Team setup at the Rec Center at 7:00 a.m. New series kicks off today and Kim is back to lead worship. Yay to that!

* Volunteer/Team run-through/worship service at 9:00 a.m.

* Public Worship Service at 10:30 a.m. (Biggest highlight of the weekend)

* Somewhere during the middle of the service, Leona's parents are picking up her brother from the airport. Hence, reason number two for the aforementioned cleanup.

* After teardown, we finally arrive home around 1:10 p.m. or so, visit with company, and eat a late lunch together.

* Afternoon - Company heads to Oklahoma; Leona and I crash on the couch. (Second biggest highlight of the weekend)

Cooler weather has rolled in, there's much to do and enjoy, and it's great to just be alive. I'm looking forward to what God does as we blast through a weekend of service, worship and relationship building.

Maybe I'll have an amazing story or two to tell sometime after the Sunday nap. :-D

Updates ahead...

Monday, October 09, 2006

West-room

On a lighter note about my trip to Louisiana, there was a very kind church who provided a meal for my family following the Memorial Service. And it was a truly classic southern meal including fried chicken (of course), deviled eggs and potato salad. It was some seriously delicious and comforting food, and the hospitality was awesome.

But I have to tell you about the restroom. It was decorated in the most cowboy-western style imaginable. From the ropes, cowboy statues, and pictures on the wall to the wooden fence style stalls, it was a fun sight to see.

But the cattle skull by the urinal took it to a whole new level.

I had to get my brother, Kenny to snap a couple of pictures and send them to me on his cool new xpress mail camera phone pda thingy.

I would say, "Only in Texas," but this was Louisiana. :-D

I mean no disrespect; I just thought it was a hoot.

Check it out:

Friday, October 06, 2006

My Uncle Vince

I was out of town all day on Wednesday for a memorial service for my Uncle Vince, who passed away a week ago.

The service was held in Ida, Louisiana (pop. 258) in a little church near where my Granddad lived till his death in the late 80's and where my mom spent her childhood years. The church has a big iron bell on a pole that is still used on Sunday mornings.

My brother Bill did the officiating and did a great job under the circumstances. Vince's body had been cremated and the ashes placed in a box that he had crafted himself. Following the service in the church, we walked across the street to the cemetary where Vince was buried at the foot of my Grandpa's grave.

My uncle lived a pretty wild life, including a reported period of time in the Bandidos motorcycle gang, sleeping in caves on occasion, getting in barfights (involving a stray bullet or two), and generally pushing the limits of most of the boundaries in this life.

But he was always kind to my brothers, sister and me, and the few times we were able to see him in the last ten years or so, he always went out of his way to tell us that he was proud of us.

It seems like just yesterday we were wrestling and playing football with him in the front yard of my house as kids in Shreveport. Just thinking about that is a great reminder to me that this life is truly a blink of the eye (James 4:14) and that every day is precious. It's also a reminder that we will all stand before God one day. All of us, without exception.

We are told by my mom that her brother made a decision to follow Christ and was baptized as a boy, but honestly, only God knows the condition of his heart when he stepped into eternity.

I'm hoping for the best. May God's grace abound.

So long, Uncle Vince. I hope with all my heart to see you on the other side.

How about you? Are you ready for the ultimate appointment?

Monday, October 02, 2006

In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church (www.theaterchurch.com) in Washington, D.C. and is a daily (and I do mean daily) blogger@ www.evotional.com.

Mark is a sharp guy who often falls into the "bloggably linkable" category around here. Genuinely nice, he's a creative pastor who has been one of my prayer partners along the way and is a fellow coffee connoisseur.

He also chases lions.

Into pits.

Snow be danged.

And of course, this is one of the reasons I like him.

His new book, "In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day," is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture (II Samuel 23:20-21):
Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.
Here's a "stand out" quote from chapter one:
"What sets lion chasers apart isn't the outcome. It's the courage to chase God-sized dreams. Lion chasers don't let their fears or doubts keep them from doing what God has called them to do."
Having been in a few pits myself a few times, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Mark's book!

It's available to all as of today - Order it from Amazon here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Current Life Soundtrack - Mutemath

Earthsuit was a cool band a few years ago, and it was a bummer when they broke up. Fortunately, the leader of that group formed a new band called, "Mutemath."



Based out of New Orleans, this is a creative band that's not afraid of the "Keytar." But don't let that scare you or keep you away. The Keytar is completely tricked out and this is definitely no 80's band.

My musical tastes are wide and varied, and Mutemath is a like a jumbalaya mix of many of them, served up hot with just the right spices. (Now there's a sound byte...) With influences of Jazz, alt-rock, and electro-something or other - they're kind of hard to peg.

But pegged or not, Mutemath is my current life soundtrack.

Blogging - 2 years and counting

Time is a greasy bullet that left the barrel five minutes ago....

In other words, it really goes by quickly.

Yesterday marked 2 years for this blog, so to carry on the tradition from last year (and in case you missed them the first time around), here are my favorite posts/series from this past year...
  1. Creative Podcasting (By far, the most read/linked post of the year)
  2. Un-Wired-er Analog PDA Mindmap (The combination of words has resulted in a ton of hits from people searching for something other than this pic...)
  3. Spiritual Maturity "Sound Byte" (Still true, and you still either get it or you don't.)
  4. Being Missional in a Postmodern World While Trying To Emerge Past Modernity
  5. "Surprised by Santa" Series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part the 4th, and Epilogue
  6. Fun on the Redneck Trampoline (with video - The title says it all)
  7. "Where God Guides, He Provides" Series: A Slippery Excuse, WGGHP Part 2, and Part 3 (Part 3 is a close second for most read/linked post)
  8. Church Sign Series: "Here's Your [Church] Sign" and "Suggestions for Better Church Signs" (Unfortunately, most of the people who landed on these posts after doing a search were most likely not happy with what they found...)
  9. The Sincerest Form of Flattery
  10. Church Planting Strategy (The Short List)
  11. Usable
  12. Thoughts on Spiritual Growth
Well, there you have it.

Such as it is, this blog has helped me to sort through things as I've faced challenges, allowed me to focus my thoughts, provided a way to connect with people from all over and has given me a creative outlet for my random thoughts and ideas. If it has helped, encouraged and/or made you laugh along the way, all the better.

Thanks for reading, listening and watching.

Comments are welcome. Feel free to stop by and say hello.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wacky Religious Stuff For Christmas

The season before the season is now here. And I must say that it's just as weird as ever in the "wacky religious stuff" department.

On this year's slate of silly sacrilege:

First up -

It's "Religious Candy Cane Pacifier Rings!"


Individually wrapped with Bible verses celebrating Christ's birth! Peppermint flavor. 3" Fat-free.

Words fail me.

But there have to be at least a dozen jokes that could be inserted here... I guess we can at least be glad that they're fat-free.

Printed on the bag is Matthew 1:21-23. Baby Jesus. Baby toy. Candy. This makes sense to someone.

Next Up -

It's "A Stocking For Jesus" Stocking with Card!

Honestly, I'm not really sure which bothers me more, that Jesus needs a stocking for Christmas or that it's just so stinkin' small.

Here's the poem on the card:

"It is not great deeds we do in life that matter very much, but the Love with which we do them and the joy of those they touch! So lets hang this stocking for the Lord, to honor Him above. For Jesus did great deeds for us, and did them all with Love! Then maybe when we leave this life as every mortal must. We’ll find the Savior’s mantle hung with stockings just for us!"

Let's move on. There's a tear in my eye.

Next Up - It's "Plush Long Armed Religious Gorillas!"

Not really a Christmas item, but I didn't make up that title. That's really how they are listed.

Unfortunately, the furry little things all seem to be recovering from surgery.

Oh wait. That's a cross.

On a gorilla.

You know, now that I think about it, I think I've known a few "plush long armed religious gorillas" in a few churches along the way...


Last Up - (And also for all seasons, I might add)

It's "Religious Bouncing Balls!"

Yeah.

I think I'll just leave it at that.

...But if you purchase the balls, the web site recommends that you may also be interested in these: "Religious Paper Bags."









...Oh yeah. There's also an item in honor of anyone who buys this stuff:

"Religious Suckers"