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.


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?


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



You want the password.


The password is..

Last chance.

I'm not kidding.

The password



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 ( over the next week or so.

Thanks for your prayers, support and friendship.

Grace & Peace in abundance,


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:

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...

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.

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.

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.