My random, sometimes insightful thoughts on life, God, family, and everything else

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There’s just something about being in the woods!

My morning view!Anyone who’s spent any time around me knows that I love to be outdoors. Especially when being outdoors has something to do with hunting or fishing. For my fellow hunters out there you probably know that this last week bow season for deer opened, and I had the incredible privilege of hanging out with two great guys (Ray & Rex that’s you) in the woods for a couple of days.

For you non-hunters out there who don’t fully understand the draw allow me to attempt, with mediocre words, why we/I love it so much. You usually wake up around 4am after a night of very little sleep anticipating what will happen the next day. Your alarm goes off and you rise to shower and prepare your freshly, scentless clothing. If your hunting with a couple of buddies, which I highly recommend, then you join up and drive to your location. The conversation and camaraderie is really second to none, ribbing, joking, and most of all boasting about who will get either the most or the biggest deer this year. But, this is all pre-game, the event is yet to come.

Once we arrive on location, everything goes quiet, it’s not that you can’t talk, but it just doesn’t feel right. The world around you is still in silent slumber, often even the bugs aren’t making a sound. It is an eery, yet calming feeling that washes over you as you step into nature. In absolute silence you walk to your tree stand, and with as much stealth as possible climb the 12-20′ up to your 2′ x 2′ front row seat to the awakening of the world. If you time it right, you sit in darkness for at least an hour before you feel the cold rush that proceeds first light, as it washes over you enveloping you in the wondrous show that God has prepared just for you in this moment. You take one last look around you knowing that in less than an hour everything you think you see will be gone, and what is real will be unveiled.

As the pre-dawn ignites it is almost imperceptible, the hues of black turn to grey, then blue, orange, and yellow. In this 1,800 seconds the alarm clock of nature erupts around you, as every creature in God’s marvelous creation begins to awaken. In those seconds of pre-dawn glory I have seen more amazing sights than I could probably write about in a life time. I’ve been stared at by curious squirrels, scolded by blue jays, crawled on by annoyed chipmunks, almost knocked out of a tree by a woodpecker the size of a small dog, and once had an owl fly within inches of my nose…and it was glorious!

When the sun finally breaks the horizon the morning is in full throated chorus, with every creature adding to the harmony, reminding you just how small you are, but how special you are. For all of this, this orchestra of nature was created just for us. God built this amazing world just for me. In these moments, during these mornings, I am reveling in God’s love song to me, reminding me of his incomparable power to watch over me, guide me, protect me.

If you need a fresh encounter, a revelation, a time of reflection, can I challenge you? Wake up early, and I mean early. Make some coffee grab a warm blanket, snag a front row seat, and allow your God to unfold before you the majesty of creation…and then remember, you are his crown jewel!

Dave

Some Serious, Life Altering Things Have Been Happ’nin Around Here!

Over the last 18 months my beautiful bride and I have experienced some pretty big life events:

  • June of 2014 we celebrated 20 years of marriage
  • October of 2014 we celebrated 10 years at Friendship Church
  • January of 2015 we celebrated 20 years of full-time, pastoral ministry
  • March of 2015 daughter numero uno turned 18
  • May of 2015 same daughter graduated
  • July of 2015 I signed my life away to begin the building of Friendship Church’s new facility, to launch the next phase of our church
  • August of 2015 my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage
  • September of 2015 eldest daughter struck again and started college

If reading through this list makes you tired, just think how we feel…BLESSED! That’s the word I choose because even though it’s been a hectic, crazy, tilt-a-whirl year and a half there’s not a single one of those that I’d trade for anything. It would be easy for us to look at that and feel overwhelmed, stressed, run-down, worn-out, you name it, but what would that accomplish? It wouldn’t slow anything down, it would stop the world from spinning, and it certainly wouldn’t help us deal with the changes any more effectively. But, if we choose to see these moments and events as blessings, as a part of the process of growing up, we can smile, maybe a few tears of joy, but mostly smile.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years, or rather God has beaten into my stubborn soul, is that how we look at things will change the way we react to things, and even change the very emotions we feel about things. I’m reminded of David’s beautiful prayer of thankfulness to his Shepherd, “EVEN THOUGH I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil.”

You see more often than not our prayer is, “God please remove me from this situation!” not “God help me see the blessing in this situation!” But, maybe, just maybe, God’s plan for you is NOT to remove you from the situation, but to remove your anxiety about the situation from you! After all, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power…”

See it differently and enjoy the ride my friends!

Dave

The Art of Being Unthankful and Unappreciative!

(The following is written with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek)

Today, I’d like to share with you 8 ways that you can develop an unthankful and unappreciative spirit, so that all of those who lead you, mentor you, and invest in you will be wounded by your callous disregard. If you’re ready to excel above the rest of the class, pay attention carefully and see if you are doing everything necessary to become all that you can’t be!

  1. Allow them to invest hours and hours into you and your life, take your frustrations out on them, blame them for things they did not do, and when you realize it was really all your problem the whole time…act as if nothing happened!
  2. Plead with them to take time out of their schedule to meet with you and them just minutes before cancel…or better yet, don’t show up at all!
  3. If you do decide to show up, make sure that you don’t do anything they’ve counseled you to do. And then several months later ask them to meet with you again.
  4. Always be telling the person who is working with you, how great every other mentor/coach/leader is, but make sure to never compliment or build them up (this is especially important on social media)!
  5. After someone has poured into your life, helped you deal with all of your crap, and got your feet under you again, make sure to always exclude them from any fun social gatherings…I mean that would just be awkward!
  6. Never share with anyone how this person helped you, and certainly don’t celebrate the impact they’ve made in your life. You don’t want them to get a big head after all!
  7. Take every opportunity to make fun at their expense, their a big boy/girl they can take it! Oh, and make sure to bring others along, it’s always better when there’s more people involved.
  8. Get all of the training you can from them, get all of your rough edges sanded off, allow them to suffer through all of your growing pains, and just when you’re really starting to become something, abandon ship to something ‘better’ and leave them hanging.

In over 20 years of leadership, primarily in church settings, I can say that I’ve had each of these done to me on more than one occasion, and every time it hurts. When you pour yourself into someone and then you’re either unappreciated or feel taken for granted it’s a scar that doesn’t easily heal. I’m sure some of the super-spiritual out there will say, “Well, aren’t you supposed to be doing it for God?”. To them I say, “Go suck on a pickle!!!” God made us to crave human interaction, yes, of course we do what we do for HIM and HIM alone, but it doesn’t make the pain any less real.

The Bible clearly tells us to Honor our leaders, whatever form they may be in. Part of honoring is showing gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness. When was the last time you told your boss, your leader, your mentor or coach that they made a difference in your life. That if it weren’t for them stepping in, you wouldn’t know where you’d be today. Take time this week to make them feel special and important…because they are! Maybe do a few of these 8 things:

  1. Deeply, meaningfully apologize. Thank them profusely for being willing to put up with you and help you through.
  2. When they take time out of their schedule to meet with you, move heaven and earth make it there, honor their time and their family.
  3. If you thought they were important enough to meet with, heed their counsel, God’s probably trying to tell you something. Then meet with them afterwards to let them know how their counsel worked and changed your life.
  4. Always be telling the person who works with you what a privilege it is for you. Tell everyone around you and especially others on social media what a great leader, friend, etc… they are for you.
  5. If someone has poured into your life, helped you deal with all of your crap, and got your feet under you again, you better make sure to include them in the good times too!
  6. When you share your story, give them credit, in fact lavish it on them, they won’t get a big head, they’ll be humbled to have been used by God in such a way.
  7. Take every opportunity to praise them, never take cheap shots, and don’t let anyone else take them either.
  8. Soak up everything you can from them, get all of those rough edges sanded off, then take your talents and leverage them to help them accomplish their mission!

Dave

MOMENTUM Is Building!!!

12003365_10153510085760801_7698132313598201454_nWow, talk about making your head spin! After being in the ‘hurry up and wait’ mode for the last couple of years things, the MOMENTUM is really starting to roll. Over the last month this is what’s happened:

  • Loan package approved and signed
  • Current mortgage paid off
  • Permits applied for and received
  • Massive hole for new sewer connection made and filled in
  • Asphalt cut and prepped for running the new sewer line
  • Playground relocation contractor chosen and date secured
  • And a whole bunch of yellow and orange is starting to show up on the property

…and once you’ve caught your breath get ready to see dirt start moving any day now! The time that we have been planning, praying, and giving towards for almost two years is finally here…I can officially say we are building!!!

With all of the excitement I must try to remain calm, but holy cow this has been a tough haul! To see it actually becoming reality is nothing less than electric for me, and I hope for many of you. Now, this doesn’t mean we can all just sit back and relax, just the opposite actually. We all need to be praying harder than we have ever prayed before for God’s hand of blessing and protection to be over this project. Our banker, who is a very strong Christian and has financed countless church projects literally said,

“This has been one of the most spiritually opposed projects I have ever been a part of. The enemy (Satan) doesn’t want you guys doing this…that must mean you are doing something right!”

I know that many of you have experienced spiritual opposition in your lives as well, sometimes even coming in the form of someone who was a friend or a family member, but you have remained faithful and now you are beginning to see God move in your lives, families, jobs, and marriages like never before. God’s promises are certain, his plans are perfect, and his timing is flawless…what an awesome God we serve!

The giving part of the project currently sits at 70%, leaving about $180,000 of pledges yet to be received. That amount is almost the exact amount of our need to complete the parts of the project that are not covered by our new loan. These items are ‘by owner’ and called the FFE Budget or Furniture Fixtures and Equipment. This money pays for such essential items as:

  • Sound System in the new auditorium
  • Additional Chairs in the auditorium (to save costs we will reuse current chairs mixed in with others)
  • New furniture for foyer and sitting areas
  • Stage Lighting
  • Landscaping
  • Alarm System (burglary & fire)
  • Communications
  • Playground Relocation
  • Interior Redesign of current building

So, as you can see that last $180,000 is pretty important stuff. So, for those of you who have been giving, thank you and keep up the good work! For those of you who are new and haven’t joined in yet, why don’t you start this month to help us finish up, you can get all the information on the project at FriendshipMOMENTUM.com. You can also make a one time or recurring gift right here: Friendship Church Giving Portal or you can always give on Sundays through the offering or at the Connection Center.

Thanks so much everyone, and get strapped, in because the MOMENTUM is ready to cut loose!
Dave

Psst, here’s a look at the schematics in case you forgot…

MOMENTUM Update Handout

par-ent(s): A New Series at Friendship Church!

This Sunday we will be launching a new parentsseries simply entitled parents. During this 4-week series we will be giving practical and biblical helps to enable you to not only feel more confident and capable as a parent, but also more successful! Far too often, because we feel like failures or we feel overwhelmed we give in, we ‘go along to get along’ as it were, and that only leads to greater feelings of failure and defeat.

Here are the 4 parts of this series:

  • It’s Never Too Late, 6/28: Every parent at one time or another has felt like they’ve completely failed as a parent and their best opportunities to help their child, even as an adult, has passed them by. Well it doesn’t matter if your child is 6, 16, or 60 it’s never too late, and as long as you don’t quit there’s always hope!
  • The 1 Thing, 7/5: If I told you that there was 1 thing that if your child learned it would guarantee he would have an easier more successful life, would you want to know what that 1 thing is? Yeah, I thought so! Every parent wants what’s best for their children, wants them to live a long life, and wants them to be successful, if you’ll do this 1 thing you’ll be setting them up for long-term success!
  • Start At The End, 7/12: What kind of Man/Woman do you want your child to become? Have you ever stopped and thought that through or are you just parenting for the moment? Until we take a long look at where and who we want them to be we won’t really know what to do as a parent to help them to get there.
  • Doing It Solo or Blended, 7/19: It’s an unfortunate reality today that many people are trying to do parenting under even more than normal, difficult conditions. How do you parent well when there is supposed to be two of you, but you are on your own? How do you work together with your child’s other parent when they don’t even live in the same house anymore? When we realize that we are not alone and God loves our kids even more than we do, it’ll give us a whole different perspective!

I really hope that you’ll join us for all four weeks of this series, even if your not a parent yet or your kids have kids of their own, this will be a great learning and encouraging time for all of us!

See you Sunday,

Dave

MOMENTUM Shift!

Last night, May 27th, we gave an update on our MOMENTUM Project, a topic of fairly regular conversation here. In that update I gave some information regarding what has been going on and what is happening next. To get a little more context look back at my article “So What’s Going On With The Building Project”.

Here is a very brief and abbreviated overview from last night (bullet point style):

  • In order to get sufficient financing we needed to cut about a million total dollars from the project, or be willing to wait another year. We cannot, based upon our numbers, afford to wait another year, so we began in March the process of looking at what we could do and get financed.
  • We decided to go with a smaller building to the North side (side closest to Worthsville) that would address all five of our chokepoints of momentum:
    1. Children’s Space (essentially our entire current building will become kids space)
    2. Parking Space (we will be able to at least double our parking space and more if financially able)
    3. Auditorium Space (we will be able to double our capacity from 230 to 450 seats)
    4. Office Space (as most of you know only Jamie and Jessica currently have offices at the church, this plan will allow the entire staff to be back in one location)
    5. Student Ministry Space (One half of our current auditorium will become to our Ignite and RIOT ministries)
  • We already have a bank that has given us a letter of commitment for a loan and will be working to find the best funding partner.
  • 65% of the MOMENTUM giving has come in, to be able to fully complete this project we will need everyone following through on their commitments. If you need a few extra months to complete your commitment please let us know.
  • 1st Quarter Giving Statements have been printed, but were delayed going out because I was working so hard on trying to get all of this completed. If you would like to see where you are in your regular and MOMENTUM giving, they will be available for pick up this Sunday morning. 2nd Quarter statements will go out on time, I apologize for the inconvenience!
  • Since 2010 Friendship has grown by 170% (138 – 381) in attendance and 130% in giving, God is blessing like crazy!

That is certainly not the same thing as having been there last night, but at least that should give you a pretty good idea of what was discussed. If everything goes as planned (I know I just hate even saying that out loud!) we should be in the building in late February of 2016 and celebrate our ‘grand opening’ on Easter next year. So, here are a couple of things that you can be praying for:

  • That all of our financing comes through quickly with no delays and the best pricing available.
  • That we have no more surprises that end up jacking up costs.
  • That we have great weather that will allow us to move very quickly on every phase of the project.
  • That all of the MOMENTUM commitments come in therefore enabling us to do everything necessary for the project.
  • That once the doors are open and the road is finished that God continues to bless us and this new building is filled up with people who have experienced the life changing reality of Jesus Christ through Friendship!

Dave

BTW, here is a rough sketch of the building, I know it’s not very big, but it’s the best I have right now. We will update and upgrade as available:

MOMENTUM Update Handout

The Chaos of Baltimore!

Wow! Here’s what I am struggling to grasp: Why in the world are we seeing so many of these types of ‘protests’ all over our 150427+bmore+fire+660 country these days? Sure, a significant part of it is ginned up by political operatives and race-baiting profiteers who want to line their own pockets. But, let’s be honest, for this type of thing to happen multiple times in different locations across the nation there has to be something systemically wrong in our country and specifically in our urban communities.

Now, I am no politician (thank God!) nor am I a philosopher, but I am both a preacher of the truth and a student of the human condition. So, my thoughts on this are based in those two things, the truth of the Word of God brought to bear on hurt within the human condition. Here are the systemic problems I see:

Lack of leadership: John Maxwell wisely once said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership, everything.” It’s tempting to qualify that statement and say, “Well, almost everything, but not EVERYTHING!”. But, think about the course of human history, even in the midst of humanities darkest, most desperate moments, great leadership was transcendent. The problem is we have far to many people who want the power of ‘leadership’ but abandon the responsibility that it takes to be a real leader.

If a king is fair, he makes his country strong,
but if he takes gifts dishonestly, he tears his country down. – Prov 29:4 NCV

Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers. – Prov 11:14 NLT

Unclear Vision: Vision is a picture of what the future could be and should be. In far to many of our urban and even suburban areas there is no vision or at best cloudy vision of what the future holds. Vision provides hope, it gives a reason for working hard, it tells us that better days are ahead. Today we are being told by some of our ‘leaders’ that this is as good as it’s ever going to get, this is just reality. Many of our urban citizens (regardless of ethnicity) wake up everyday with no hope in their hearts, no dreams for the future. When the most lucrative future for young men is to join a gang, sell drugs, or simply become a thug of some sort…there is no hope!

Where there is no vision a people perish. – Prov 29:18 KJV

Rampant Abuse: In our world abuse has become as commonplace as fast-food restaurants. I know that many of these ‘protests’ are blamed on police abuse, and there may be some of that for sure, as authority unchecked is often authority abused. But, humanity as a whole has an unbelievable propensity for evil against other human beings. Just look at the amount of physically abused women, children, and elderly that we see all of the time. How about the rampant sexual abuse, don’t believe it? Ask yourself when was the last time you were ‘shocked’ to hear that a teacher had sex with one of her students. Exactly, something that was preposterous just a decade or so ago has become so common that when we hear it we shake our heads and roll our eyes, but that is about it. When the value of another human being is weighted only by the usefulness they provide to another we are in a dangerous place.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves – Phi 2:3 NIV

Familial Decay: When I saw this video today http://abc7news.com/video/embed/?pid=684859 (warning: it does have some ‘bleeped’ out language) I was both thankful and dismayed. Thankful because a mom cared for her son so much that she would go to any lengths to keep him from making a potentially life shattering decision. Dismayed because I saw no father alongside her. Now, it may have been that the dad was at work, but more often than not we see that adult males (I refuse to call them Men) simply refuse to live up to their responsibilities of being a husband and father, abandoning the mother of their children and their children. The only male role models they have are the adult males in their neighborhood who live off of others, profit from others addictions, or are held captive by their own demons. Fathers are just as essential as Mothers!

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. – Prov 1:8 NIV

Maybe your initial reaction to all of this is anger, can I challenge you on that? Maybe instead of anger or disgust, you take a minute and ask God to give you some perspective. Now, don’t for a moment think that I condone or in some twisted way believe that the violence is in any way justified, it’s not. In fact, it’s sin. But as Paul says;

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. – Rom 5:20

Instead let’s ask ourselves some hard questions. How can we lead better, what can we do to give vision/hope, how can we help the abused heal and the abusers reform, and what can we do to rebuild the family? You see I believe that it’s easy to criticize, but it’s far harder to critically think about how you can make a difference.

Just my two cents,

Dave