Archive for January, 2022

Focus on “Little Wins”

Posted: January 29, 2022 in Uncategorized

I’m not sure why exactly, but some folks try to find a word of the year. I wasn’t really looking for one, but one sort of “found”me and that word was “focus.” I have this real habit is getting caught up in the things going on all around me and sometimes I get really distracted. Within the first week or so of the year, I read a book called Chasing Failure by Ryan Leak. The idea behind the book is to put aside your fear of failure and being intentional about trying things until you succeed, sort of failing forward rather than being afraid to fail. I found a lot of it useful, but I know of already do that, but there was one thing I really thought might work for me and it has. Leak mentioned that he makes a list every week of 30 to 40 things he wants to accomplish during that week. Well to me 30-40 sounded a little excessive. Mainly because a lot of the things I do are pretty time consuming. Still the project sounded worthwhile so I decided to give it a go, using 20-25. I’m in the third week of this discipline and it’s working like a charm. 

Last year, I determined in my heart that I was going to do one design and one blog post every day and to be honest it was sort of lackluster. My hope was I would grow this blog and my art blog by populating with more content. I did a lot of work. Without bearing a lot of fruit. I think what I learned was, 1. You have to do more than create content to build an audience and 2 I felt like my efforts were not focused. There are really important projects that sort of fell by the way side while I worked on stuff that wasn’t gaining traction. Time to refocus. 

So this year, I will make the lists. I start each week with the things I want to do every day. This is daily Bible reading and reading at least one chapter of a book each day. I had originally added prayer to that list, but I didn’t feel like prayer was something to be checked off a list so I removed it in favor of something else, which I will get to in another post. The Bible reading moves me toward the goal of finding a new translation of the Bible for my preaching in the coming year and of course, my daily devotions. And the (at least) chapter of the book each day, while including some recreational reading, is mainly to keep me focused on completing my Doctoral dissertation this year. From there I am breaking down things I want to accomplish this year into manageable pieces. I am hoping to minister at a camp this year, so I have broken down each of my sessions into manageable pieces which I will add to the weekly schedule. I am also attempting to write a chapter of my dissertation (at least the rough draft) each week. If I can accomplish that, I will be able to finish the rough draft of the paper by July. I also am working on a new ministry video, so I scripted it and am now place a few off the illustrations into the schedule each week until it’s done. Rather than trying to do a piece of art each day, I have decided to try to create one new design for a line I am trying to develop each wee; Of course I am also working in some of the mundane things that just need doing, like tax work, sales calls for my speaking ministry, etc.  

Of course the main focus of the list next to my devotional life is on my church ministry. Those are the things that must be done first and for which there is a specific schedule. So far it’s worked. The first week I finished the whole list. Last week I finished all but one. I didn’t panic about that, I just reevaluated what I wanted to do and moved it to this week. In this way, all the priority work things get done, and each time I finish something it feels like a “little win.” Now this system is mainly for my professional life and my projects, but what I am realizing is there needs to be a list for my personal life as well. Stay tuned.  


Posted: January 27, 2022 in Uncategorized

This week I was invited to join a group for artists, by a really great artist and friend. Unfortunately I had to decline, because their meetings are on Sunday, and as a pastor, my Sundays are pretty full, but one of the things I really do long for is community. I have found a really wonderful one online, and I started a virtual mastermind group that I really need to get back to, but there is still something about getting together in the same room and creating together. Maybe I’m just old fashioned. I love the possibilities for long distance collaboration presented by online community, but I still long for a closer connection. I feel the same way about Sunday Worship. Online is great, and I love the opportunities I have to reach beyond the walls but I still really crave in person worship.

I remember our first Zoom Bible Study after the lockdown. I had almost no idea what I was doin g and I’m sure if I looked back own it now, I would find it amazingly clunky, but back then just to see the faces of my congregation on one screen brought tears and maybe that’s the big thing. I was a person who took going to church for granted. I don’t mean that in a negative, unappreciative way. I mean since I’ve been a believer, if it was Sunday morning I just always took for granted that I would be in a church building somewhere worshipping God with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Most of the time that would be in the church that I pastor, but even if something prevented that, I would be worshipping with someone somewhere, and then all of the sudden, the church buildings were closed. Now I know some will rush in and say the church is the people not the building. Yes I heard that diatribe all through the pandemic, and while it is to some degree true, I also think we were created for community. I think we were created to be, not independent, but interdependent on others and totally dependent on God.

I am grateful that the pandemic forced us to find other ways to be in community as believers, but I still pray there is never another lockdown that will prevent me from worshipping in person with my fellow believers. We were created for community, and I will never take church for granted again.


Posted: January 24, 2022 in Uncategorized

I lost a good friend this week. He passed away after several years battling cancer. He was a great guy. His name was Pat. He was a few years younger than me and his main work was feeding people. He was the food service director at Delta Lake Bible Conference, which is where we met. The food he made was always really good and while I spent most of life in recent years trying to lose weight, I never accomplished that goal at Delta. Pat did a lot more than serve food though. He was a bringer of joy. I used to love to watch him interact with the campers I served. They all loved him and his joy was infectious. I remember once early on, I left my newly acquired plate of food on the table to get a drink. I came back to find a bite had been taken out of each piece of food. It was a little prank, but in that prank I felt something precious. I was no longer just a hired speaker, I was becoming part of the family. Pat had a way of making you feel welcome and I am going to miss him, a lot. Today I feel a great loss, but did you notice, I put a question mark behind the word in the title. That was deliberate. Because you see, Pat wasn’t just my friend. He was my brother in the Lord and so today there is a void in my life, but my friend is not lost. He is just somewhere I can’t go right now, but I trust I will see Him again. In the mean time, my journey continues and so does yours. I need to take what I learned from my friend Pat, and in my own way do some good in this world. I need to bring the kind of excellence to my calling that Pat brought to his and hopefully along the way, I will also be used to make some people feel a little more welcomed and maybe even part of the family. Thank you Jesus for putting this friend in my life. Thank you even more that he has life in you. Please be with his wife, kids and all the other people whose lives he touched.

Have you ever felt like you’ve been misunderstood. You’re in good company, because there was probably no one who was more misunderstood than Jesus. Check out this week’s message to hear more.

Labor of Love Complete

Posted: January 22, 2022 in Uncategorized

Here is the finished product of the mural I did for my grandson, who loves red farm equipment. 

Labor of Love…

Posted: January 18, 2022 in Uncategorized

One of the happiest projects I have ever done was painting a mural on the bedroom wall of my soon to be coming grandson, six years ago. Well now David is here, six years old and his pappy’s pride and joy. My son (Brandon, David’s dad) along with his wife, Stacy, AKA David’s mom and, of course, David are moving to a larger farm and part of that move is me getting to do another mural. David is a farm kid beyond a doubt and for this mural I was able to ask him what he wanted. He settled on a Case IH combine just like the one his daddy just bought. Yesterday I was able to start this labor of love. It’s not done yet, some projects take more than a day, but I am really happy with what came out, so far. I love that little guy and it is such a blessing to be able to give him something he will see every day for a long time. This mural is a labor of love. How can you use your gift to show someone your love for them?

Ryan Leak is a really interesting guy. He has done everything from securing a tryout with an NBA team, to planning a surprise wedding for him and his wife. He is a motivational speaker who tries to help people overcome their fear of failure among other things. I bought this book in hopes of using it for research on my doctoral dissertation. It didn’t really fit my topic. Instead it dealt with stuff that has been broken in me for a very long time. This is one of the most helpful books I have ever read. I also learned all kinds of ways to get myself organized toward reaching my goals. It challenged me to take some risks and dare to fail on. my way to success. I would recommend this book to literally anyone, but especially anyone who has a dream they must see become reality. It’s a quick read, but it is full of really useful information. It was extremely hard to put down. Leak’s stories are compelling and humorous, while at the same time the advice is practical and highly useful. I loved that at the end of each chapter, he sums the information up in a single sentence that really leads to application. This book is fantastic. I only wish I could give this more than five stars. I loved this book and I think you will too.

In this message we look at a very important teaching from Jesus on a topic every believer needs to understand—how to deal with conflict and the essential nature of forgiveness. If you’ve ever dealt with conflict, and who hasn’t? This message is for you.

Discerning a Change

Posted: January 15, 2022 in Uncategorized

In this new year, I have found a new hunger for God’s Word. As a pastor, I better explain that. I love the Word of God and I spend a fair amount of time in it, but I have to admit, lately I have been experiencing some real frustration. You see I became a Christian at the age of 22 in 1986. When I was baptized, I was given a copy of a new translation of the Bible, the 1984 New International Version. I loved it’s plain spoken approach with simple language so I could understand what I was reading, plus my pastor preached from it and so I could follow along. I owe a lot of my growth in biblical knowledge to the NIV and since I went into ministry it has been my translation of choice. Then along came 2011 when the people who put the NIV together, decided it was time for a revision. I was pretty much frustrated from the get go. All of the sudden passages that I had committed to memory were different in my Bible. Not only that but the publishers went “scorched earth” on the old translation, making it virtually impossible to find. I didn’t really like the new one, and I couldn’t get a hold of the old one.

It wasn’t the inclusive language that bothered me. While I believe with all my heart that women are smart enough to understand that man includes them and “and sisters” was implied when the Bible said “brothers” but I was okay with brothers and sisters being added. What was bothering me was missing verses and missing words. I know what they say, “Older more reliable manuscripts do not include this text” or something to that effect. This has always bothered me because the implication is God is not big enough to protect his word and that the Lord somehow needs our help to get His message right. For example, this week I was getting ready to preach on Matthew 18 where Jesus is teaching on conflict resolution, and when I dug into the verse, one I had memorized a long time ago, I realized two words were missing and those two words change the entire context.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Sounds pretty reasonable, but the missing words are “against you.”   Read it again. “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” The whole message of the verse is changed by those two words. The new version seems to want to put us in the place of judgmental hall monitors calling out everyone on their sin. I’m being a little facetious there and I do know that there is room for “iron sharpening iron” and calling people own their sins, but the context of Jesus’ message, is about what to do when you’ve been hurt by someone else, specifically in the church, and how to renew the relationship. It’s an urgent message for the church and one that does not need to be watered down.

This is just one of many frustrations and I’ve decided it’s time for a change, so this year I purchased a new Bible from a new translation, the ESV, and so far it’s been a breath of fresh air. It’s exciting to read God’s Word without the frustrations I’d been experiencing. I am not going to make it my new preaching Bible yet, as I feel I need to read the whole thing first, and prayerfully discern whether or not this is what the Lord is leading me to do. So far it’s a great read, and much closer to the Bible I’ve read and studied most of my life, than the Bible I’ve read and studied my whole life had become. There is one thing I have said for years. We are not supposed to change the Bible, the Bible is supposed to change us.

Stay tuned.

That’s Entertainment…

Posted: January 14, 2022 in Uncategorized

Let’s start here. I love entertainment and there is nothing wrong with being entertained. That being said, I feel like I need to take a few moments to talk about what just might be my word for this year. That word is focus. You see over the last few weeks I have become increasingly aware of how easily distracted I have become. There are times where I find it really hard to focus in all areas of life, and mostly the culprit is entertainment. Whether it’s a game on my phone, or social media posts, YouTube videos or even binge watching TV, it’s easy to get caught up in it, and while it is entertaining, I also realize it is cutting into my very limited time—the time I need to reach personal goals, not to mention my God-given call.

Am I going to strip away all entertainment? Of course not. There are times where it can be very inspirational, but therein is a key. I can’t speak for you, but the things I let into my head tend to stick with me, so it is important that I feed myself things I want to stick with me. I’m reminded of the verse that says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 NIV)This is a great gauge for entertainment. Ask yourself, will this diversion, put me in a better place after I have consumed it, or will it take me into negativity or even sin. For me social media can be a trap. I can read some of the things that happen there, and it will put my mood into a tailspin. I don’t need that in my life, and I’m guessing you don’t need it either.

Needless to say there is much more to be considered. For the most part, I am capable of making good choices and discerning good from bad, and I make pretty good choices most of the time, but there’s that word again “time.” I have goals and dreams and a calling to be considered and entertainment can really eat up a lot of time. So one of the things I need to ask myself are “Will this thing, whatever it is, help me toward the accomplishment of these goals? Will it encourage me or inspire me, or is it just a waste of time?”

I also have to be a little careful with how I analyze this. I recently picked up a book I planned to read for my doctoral research, but as I began to read, I realized it is really off topic for what I am working on. Still I kept reading, because while it doesn’t fit that project, God has been using it to illuminate some things I have struggled with my entire life. So while it may not fit the project, it is meeting me in what may be my place of greatest need, and so I continue. This is a really good book and an interesting read. It is entertaining but it is something more. If I put the principles I am learning in it’s pages to work, it just might bring me some healing that I have needed for a very long time.

So again I am not saying we have to live lives that are totally devoid of entertainment. Entertainment can help us unwind and bring us some real joy. What I am saying is you only have so many hours in a day to crush your goals and accomplish your dreams, the hours we spend we will never get back, so let’s be sure to invest them wisely. We need a lot more in life than entertainment.