Breath of Fresh Air!

What a breath of fresh air when I heard Derek Carr’s (Now the highest paid NFL player) words when asked,…. I’ll get to that in a minute as I need to set this up…

Over the last several years NFL QB’s have not had the best of press. Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel are two that come to mind. I truly hope that they get things worked out in their lives as there is so much talent in both.

So when the reporter asked Derek Carr what he would do with his 125 million, he said,

“The first thing I’ll do is pay my tithe like I have since I was in college,” Carr told CBS Sports. “Giving $700 on a scholarship check. That won’t change. I’ll do that.”

What a breath of fresh air – he will pay his tithe – like he always has since college.
This resonated with me on many levels. Mainly, because that’s when I started tithing (in college) and have never stopped. Because I started tithing early you might think it made it easy to tithe the rest of my life… I think you’d only be partially correct. Yes it did make it easier but not because I didn’t make much money, but because I remained accountable to God. The amount doesn’t always matter because it’s still 10% for everyone, Tony Johnson making minimum wage at Olympia Sporting Goods or Derek Carr making 125 million, it’s still 10%.  Either feels like a chunk of change at the time!  Secondly, it sounds like he didn’t hesitate or question what he’d do with it. You receive income – you tithe. There came a day when I quit questioning whether I would or should tithe, I receive income, I tithe.
What a breath of fresh air to hear about a sports figure in the news for something positive. Even better though is it tells others about his conviction to Christ.
At least that’s the way I see it.



Why People Leave Churches – My Current Take

What I’m about to say is just my take on why people leave churches, your mileage may vary. As an addendum my thoughts are not all inclusive.

Let’s begin… I believe that there are 3 types of church growth: Biological (new babies), Conversion (new Christians – what Jesus was very interested in) and Transfer (people church hopping).

It’s the third I’d like to focus on. Some transfer growth happens when someone moves to a new town, but most transfer growth happens when people get disgruntled with their current church. Usually this is couched with various reasons – “I’m not getting fed”, “there’s nothing here for me”, “I couldn’t find a place to fit in”, etc… Then they move to a new church, it’s the one they have always been looking for – then guess what? Over time that same church becomes the one where they begin to say – “I’m not getting fed”, “there’s nothing here for me” and “I can’t find a place to fit in” etc…

Case in point… I received an Email years ago from a church  member (we now call them partners at my current church) that listed all the great reasons they decided to join. Then about  4 years later I received an Email  from that same person listing reasons why they were leaving.  Oddly enough those reasons were almost identical to the one they said were the reason why they loved the church so much. What?

People leave churches, and they always have, and they always will. My prayer is that somewhere we become honest with ourselves as to the real reason why we are leaving.

Real reasons why people leave – my take…1.  We fail to be honest with ourselves and think that it’s all about me.  It’s not, it’s really about impacting others on Christ’s behalf. A by-product of that, is that we do get something out of it. We must be taught, trained, we must grow in our faith. But many times this is the school we go to with the end goal of impacting others in our community. 2. We fail to take responsibility to get  involved in service and  small group learning environment. We encourage you to serve both inside and  outside the church. This reaffirmsyyour important role as part of the body of Christ – the church. Small groups, not corporate Worship, is where the real learning can take place. This group often becomes a second family. This group is the one that looks after you and holds you accountable to your Christian life – which should be becoming a lifestyle. 3. The grass always looks greener on the other side. It’s that way in all of life, why should the church be any different?

Here is what I know, that I want you to know. Some things are worth sticking around for. Your church community, I believe, is one of them (if you ever contemplate leaving for any of the above reasons). In my experience the majority of those that leave have never really gotten past just corporate Worship. Many didn’t get involved in other events the church offered – never served much, never attended other events, didn’t serve much in the community, etc… But many who leave because they believe the grass is greener eventually realize that all grass eventually has to be cut just like the old.  These people, if they’re not too proud eventually find there way back home and are there to stay.

Recently I read some ideas from Sebastian Junger (NYT best selling author – The  Perfect Storm, etc…). When asked, “What would  your 70 year old self  advise your current self?” Here is what he said, “The world is this continually unfolding set of  possibilities and opportunities, and the tricky thing about life is, on the one hand to have the courage to enter into things that are unfamiliar, but  also having the wisdom to stop exploring when you’ve  found something worth sticking around for.”

I think, if we’re honest, most church communities are worth sticking around for. The church I serve now is one of them.  This church is impacting our community like no other church I’ve served.

But that’s just my take.

Men Eating Meat – Cross Generational Gathering…

Men Eating Meat – a Cross-Generational Gathering of Friendship Church men was a huge blowout!  I wanted to create a fun atmosphere for men to gather and just talk.  No agenda, and certainly no hidden agenda! When I first conceived the idea, I was hoping for maybe 20 men that might be interested. At the close of registration, we had reached the restaurant’s limit of 65 and couldn’t accept anyone else!  It truly was a cross-generational gathering of men! One person had the family tree – son in law, grandsons, two great-grandsons and the boyfriend of his granddaughter! Fathers and sons and friends of friends and friends of sons, grandfathers, single men, and married men – you get it!

The meat and conversation was fantastic. We had loaded pork potatoes to ribs and everything in-between. The conversations varied from boats, cars, baseball, and football. Surprise, surprise – right!

I started things off thanking them for being at the first and last gathering of Men Eating Meat. But surprised them with “this isn’t the last meeting of our Cross Generational Gathering of Friendship Men and their male friends.”  There will be more to come, so keep on the lookout for the next gathering.

As one could expect, I received a lot of suggestions of other possibilities for our gatherings! From Bowling, a Chili Cook-Off for bragging rights, Barbour Motorsports Park in Birmingham, that just happens to have a Bass Pro Shop next door, to many other suggestions!

It’s always awesome to create fun atmospheres for men to come together in a healthy way and just be men!  It’s also a lot of fun learning from those older and younger than us. To hear great stories and laugh a lot. To eat with our hands and talk with our mouth’s full! To have BBQ sauce on our face – on purpose, and feel comfortable with it knowing no one is going to ask us to wipe it off!

From where I sat, all had a great time!

Until next time when men gather…

Church Closings Revisited…

United Methodist ministers meet annually with other ministers and church attenders. This is known as an annual conference. It’s a visioning/business meeting sort of thing.  Reports are read and presentations are made that highlight the state of the church.

One of the reports/presentations includes churches that have closed. It’s always sad to hear the church names read while a picture is placed on the screen. It’s one thing to hear a name but  another thing to see the church. They come in many forms and happen in what seems every type of community.  During this presentation, people that have attended those churches as part of the church body are asked to stand.

This year it hit home more than usual as a close friend stood when his childhood church’s name was added to the list.  The church was 9th Street UMC in Decatur, AL. His mother was still a part until it closed. In fact, it’s the church you see at the beginning of this post.

Every church seems to have a season and some close. They close for various reasons… Lack of vision, leaders like the power of their position and won’t give up their post, financing, lack of ability to attract new people or even the lack of desire to have new people, just to name a few. I also believe that there are times when you can do all you know to do and it’s still not enough. The season is over.

As I heard the names read this year, as in years past, I wonder how it ended up this way. Who wants to be a part of a church that is declining to the point of closing? My guess is nobody!  The churches, at one time had been vibrant and full of life, as people who stood on the conference floor when their church was read could testify.

I understand that some churches come to the end of their useful life – none of Paul’s churches still exist. But what frightens me are  those churches that close that hadn’t finished serving God the way God had hoped.  That could happen in many ways, I’ll leave you to guess what that would  look like…

But the one question I have relates to our love for the “have nots.”  Did any of the closed churches quit loving  the “have nots?”  Did they love on those they had, “the haves” and  lose sight of the ones they didn’t, the “have nots?”

Loving the “haves” is very important. But, in my opinion, the love for the “have nots” must be incredibly important too. Nothing earth shattering here. While many believers may agree, the question remains, what are we doing to reach  the “have nots”  on a personal level?  Many believers would agree that we should, but how many actually have a personal strategy for actually reaching the “have nots?”  Many may have a detailed strategy, I just don’t know, but my hunch is, my gut instinct is, they don’t – but I hope I’m wrong.

If you don’t have a specific plan to reach the “have nots”, then I hope you’ll give it some thought. I don’t think  we need to pray about “should we”,  but instead pray that God will guide lead you in ways to do it.

It’s something to seriously think about, if we haven’t, and time to put that plan into action.

Habits of Productive People

Who doesn’t want to become more productive? To feel great about the day’s accomplishments! If you want to become more productive, these might be the ticket for you!

These come from Forbes Magazine’s online article 9 Habits of Productive People:

  1.  Cut your  “to do” list in half
  2. Take more breaks
  3. Follow the 80/20 rule
  4. Use your morning to focus on yourself
  5. Tackle your challenging tasks before lunch

To see the details and learn the next 4 then read more here!

Why Easter’s not on a set date every year…

Christmas is always on December 25th – right? So what’s up with Easter? Why is it not on a set date every year?  Glad you asked!  Here’s the skinny on Easter…

The Council of Nicaea set the date of Easter in 325 A.D. They determined it to be the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after the spring equinox.

So, Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after March 21.

That means it can fall between March 22 to April 25th.

You can read more about the significance of the paschal full moon here.

Cut Your Cell Bill – Frugal Phone Plans

I’m amazed at how much people spend on their phone service and their actual phones! Let me confess what you’re already thinking – obviously he doesn’t have an Apple Iphone. And you’d be correct. Don’t get me wrong, I love apple products and would surely love an Iphone – but only if someone else is paying for it! Which isn’t happening right now in my life! Not that it may not change at some point – never say never! But for now I’m happy with an Android phone – but  let  me tell you why…

Features and cost are the two main selling points for me. I use the Kyocera Hydro phone that weighs in at a  whooping cost of $42.95 on I must admit that I periodically suffer ridicule from my Apple Fanboy friends when they see my Android phone! Until I tell them about  the Boost advantage… that advantage – cost and service! I pay less than $50.00 per month for UNLIMITED EVERYTHING through Boost mobile who uses the Sprint network. Big bonus is no contracts! Month to month, pay as you go. Did I mention unlimited everything?

Google Project fi

But now Google has entered the market with the Project fi with unlimited domestic calls and texts starting at $20.00 per month and you can add friends and family or $15.00!  There are limited phone choices but for me that  doesn’t really matter after using an Android that does everything I need.

Republic Wireless

Then there is a company most have never heard of but is well known by those that value the dollar. Those that don’t have money to blow and would rather spend it on experiences than material things. The company is called Republic Wireless with plans starting out as low as $15.00 per month. Seriously, read more about it  on their website,

Think of all the options of having a lower phone bill that does everything you need! Check these out and do your own research, you may want to make a change. Do the math of all the money you could be saving.  You might be surprised if you do the math.

Practicing the Presence of God

Was doing my morning reading today and ran across something that I wanted to share. It’s something that I don’t think we give much thought to, I could  be wrong, but…. It’s known as practicing the presence of God.  Here is what was noted in respect to that important topic as noted in the intro to “Tending to the Holy”…

“Foremost among our parents in practicing the presence of God is Brother Lawrence, who penned the spiritual classic, The Practice of the Presence of God….He saw all of life as a response to God’s ever-present and loving presence.  According to Brother Lawrence, “the most holy and necessary practice in the Christian life is the presence of God.  Whether in the kitchen, running an errand, buying provisions, or receiving the Eucharist, Brother Lawrence asserted that our calling as Christians is simply to be attentive  to God’s presence in our lives.  Following the apostle Paul’s counsel to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17), Brother Lawrence advised that “whatever we do, even if  we are reading the Word or praying, we should stop for a few minutes – as  often as possible – to praise  God, to enjoy God there in secret”

I wonder how our lives would be different if we followed this practice? How it might change everyday decisions knowing that we are in the presence of God? In essence that’s what is already occurring, but we often fail to recognize that God is present – seeing all we do.

What decisions would  you have made differently if you truly recognized that God was present?

Now that you are acutely aware that is the case, how will it affect decisions in the future?

Practice the presence of  God…

The One Thing…And Sunday?

Over the last several months I’ve been studying the productivity concept of “multitasking”.  After reading “Deep Work” and “The One Thing”, I have reinforced my belief that multitasking actually hurts productivity.

These books actually land on a concept called “Block Timing”. In essence, you are more productive when you block off periods of time and remain focused on one thing. Cut off social media (there is actually software that you can use to block you from social media for a block of time – no chance of being interrupted.) Shut off all Email etc… Refuse to be distracted until you get your one thing done.

In “The One Thing” it suggests that you always center on this focus question:

“What’s the ONE THING you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

As I read books like this I’m reminded of the spiritual applications and ramifications when we transfer these principals to our spiritual lives.

in this instance I wonder what would happen if as Christians we made Sunday Worship our “One Thing” each week. What if we decided to block off that day to “Remember the Sabbath?” To not allow any distractions. To rest, and renew our minds and bodies? To quit multitasking.  What would the church look like filled with singing and praising God. What would our relationships begin to look like? How about our communities? How about ourselves?

Have we forgotten that remembering the Sabbath is one of the top 10? 10 Commandments that is.  It’s the only one that begins with “Remember.”  Could it be that God knew that we’d forget?  Could it  be that  God knew the renewing power of that day to renew our mind, body and spirit?

That commandment mentions Sabbath.  For Christians that has become Sunday. But if you work on Sundays, even as pastors we do that, find another day  to rest and renew. Attend an alternate night of worship as so  many churches offer.

I’m afraid that most of our Sundays are spent multitasking – working, sports, cleaning, grocery shopping, and maybe worship…

I hope that you’ll consider making Sunday a day of worship at your church.  That you might block off that day from distractions to find rest and renewal.  It will make a difference or it wouldn’t be one of  the top 10!

Remember the Sabbath…


Ages 25-35 Wanted!

More and more studies seem to concur that the Christian church is starting to experience a huge gap in the 25-35 age group.  Some would say that if we don’t have a course correction there will be a gap that will take quite a while to make up.  This age group has become affectionately known as Millennials.


  • Make up 25 % of the US. population
  • 53% already have children
  • Almost 50% like purchases that support a cause and 37% say they’re will to pay more for it
  • 46% reported 200 Facebook friends
  • 2.5 times more likely to be an early adopter of technology
  • 69% say they crave adventure
  • Read more here

More alarming is their dropout rate when it comes to church.

  • 59% who were raised in a church have dropped out
  • Only 4% are bible based believers
  • 96% don’t live out the teachings of the bible

So what can we do to reach this segment before it’s too late? offers 12 potential reasons why this is happening ranging form:

  • We’re sick of hearing about values and mission statements
  • Churches with no desire to really help the poor
  • Distrust and misallocation of resources
  • and 9 others

Read the entire article, and it’s worth the read if we want to reach them, here…