It's All About The Team...

I probably shouldn't let this out, but here it goes: Before the NFL was all about the benjamins, I used to be a HUGE fan of the San Francisco 49ers. Most of my favorite NFL players have worn the 49er logo. Montana, Rice, Lott, Norton, the list goes on and on. Knowing I was a big fan back in the day, a friend sent me this via email today. It's a rant by Mike Singletary, the interim head coach of the 49ers.

Singletary nails some big truths in this clip. And here is the most important thing: It's all about the team. I am fortunate to serve on an incredible team at The Connection Church. We have a team of people who are willing to do whatever it takes to reach people with God's love.

And if we're playing to win, then we have to work as a team. Here's the truth: Lone-rangers rarely do anything significant for the kingdom of God. And I'm with Singletary. You cannot win with people who don't put the team first. You cannot coach with them. You cannot play with them. You cannot win with them. And we're playing for something a lot more important than winning football games. So what are YOU doing to help the team?


The Weekend Update...

We had a great weekend. The only bad thing is how fast it flew by. Here's some highlights:
  • Friday I spent the day hanging out with my lovely wife Johanna. It was cool not to have a ton of stuff on the agenda and to get to just hang out together.
  • Friday night I went and watched to Wimberley, TX to watch the Liberty Hill and Wimberley football game with a good friend. I also saw an old friend from college at the game. Too bad the football wasn't as great as the friendships!
  • Saturday Johanna and I spent the afternoon with my boy Jmob. His birthday was Sunday and he turned the big 2-1 so we celebrated Saturday with him and his parents with some incredible Mexican food at Chuy's and delicious desert at Mozart's on Lake Travis.
  • Sunday was a great day at TCC. Cole and the band rocked it out leading worship and Zak did a great job preaching. Combine that with a great night at SURGE with our middle school students and it made for a super Sunday.
  • On Sunday we also had a meeting at Cabela's for THIS. If you live in the Kyle/Buda/South Austin area come and CHECK IT OUT this Friday, October 31st at Cabela's.


It's Enough...

I've been enthralled by a story in the Bible found in John 6 for the past few days. You can click here to read it. Basically, it's the story of Jesus feeding thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread and a couple pieces of fish that some boy had because his mom packed him a sack lunch. Jesus had been doing his thing - healing people, raising the dead, teaching life-changing truth - and an enormous crowd had begun to follow him. The next thing his disciples know, it's supper time and there are literally thousands of people that have wandered out of town onto the mountainside following Jesus.

The Bible says that Jesus looks at the crowd and poses this question to the disciples: "Where will we buy bread for these people to eat?" It also tells us that Jesus was just testing his disciples because he already had it all figured out. So how do the disciples respond? They've followed Jesus and seen him do absolutely incredible things. They've watched people be healed. They've watched the dead be raised. Supper should be no problem, right? Well, the disciples immediately focus on the size of the crowd. They freak out and figure that there's nothing they can do to make the situation work.

Enter the kid with the happy meal. Andrew, one of the younger disciples, notices that this kid has a couple pieces of fish and a few pieces of bread. He let's Jesus know and Jesus says "give it to me." Then Jesus does the incredible: He takes the small offering the boy had and he feeds thousands of people with it. The Bible says that every single person ate their fill and there were still leftovers. In fact, Jesus had the disciples take baskets and pick up all the leftovers for later. Maybe he thought they needed a reminder at lunch the next day about the power of the one they followed.

Here's why this has been brewing in my mind and heart lately: No matter how small or insignificant you think what you have to offer is, in the hands of Jesus it is enough. You may think that your gift or ability or talent or offering can't possibly make an impact. After all, the crowd is too big right? That's what the disciples thought. They lost sight of who they were following because they were overwhelmed by the size of what they were facing. But not the kid in the story. He gave all he had and Jesus made it into enough.

I don't know what crowd you might be facing in life right now. I don't know what problem or issue seems too overwhelming for you to conquer. But I know this: whatever God has given you - whatever talents, gifts, resources, and abilities - in the right hands, it is enough. So give it all to him and let him multiply it to the point where there are leftovers.


Wow Wednesday...

Each Wednesday I post a video that leaves you saying one word: wow. In the past, that "wow" has meant "I am so shocked at how terrible this is that I can only come up with this one word of response." (See examples here and here.) But today Wow Wednesday takes a twist. Today, I wanted to share a couple videos that make me say "wow" and mean "that's stinkin' impressive." Check out these two videos. The first has been a favorite of mine for a long time. The second is a video of a song that Zak pointed me to this week. Enjoy the good side of wow.


Link Love...

It's time for some link love! Check out the following links to be challenged, stretched, informed, and entertained. There's a little something for everyone.

  • Our Lead Pastor Cole Phillips proved he could "take one for the team" at the Catalyst Conference. Read his account of this life-risking event here and check out Zak's blog here to see a video of the event.

  • My friend David Brown posted this fantastic blog of what rap music should be. Trust me, it's dope. It even includes some old school, phat Youtube videos. You've gotta' check this out!

  • Ben Arment posted this blog about "stepping away from the photoshop" - seeking help and forming a team.

  • Steven Furtick shared this thought from his wife Holly. It's a good reminder to all of us as pastors about how much is on the line with our character.

  • Brad Ruggles posted 3 Ways To Become A Generous Giver. If you are a pastor or leader in ministry and you want to lead generous people, do you know what the key is? Be generous yourself.

  • Tony Morgan posted this video clip of his pastor, Perry Noble, asking the question, "Are you settling for crumbs?" It is a great illustration and if you are a lady, especially a single lady, you need to check it out. Now.

  • And finally...you've got to check out this blog by one of the coolest 6th graders I know. Keep blogging Kenzie!


Catalyst Recap - Part Three...

Here is the third and final post in the recap of my experience at the Catalyst Conference. You can read the first post here and the second post here. Here's a recap of the final few sessions and some thoughts I took away from Catalyst:

Andy Crouch: Culture Making
  • We need to move from condemning, critiquing, copying, and consuming culture and begin cultivating and creating culture. This is what God originally asked us to do.
  • We need to take what is already good and help keep it good.
  • Ask 3 questions: What are you cultivating? What are you creating? Who is in your creative circle?

Matt Chandler

  • Our churches are filled with people who come to church, have been baptized, and know all ABOUT Jesus, but don't know Him.
  • If you are using Jesus to grow a big church, have a great marriage, or become wealthy, then you are an idolater.
  • The gospel is that you get Jesus and Jesus is enough.
  • You can't teach what you're not doing. As a leader, your church will be weak where you are weak.
  • There is a way to teach and live that allows men to see what the gospel is and what the gospel is not.

Andy Stanley: Recent Random Thoughts On Leadership

  • Andy shared the following quotes and then his take away from each quote. We had to leave this session early because the conference was running late and we had to catch our flight. Some of these notes have been copied from other sites.
  • "To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing." - Craig Groeschel. Andy's Take Away: Become preoccupied with those you haven't reached as opposed to those you are trying to keep.
  • "The Next Generation product almost never comes from the previous generation." - Al Reis. Andy's Take Away: Be a student, not a critic.
  • "What do I believe is impossible in my field...but if it could be done would fundamentally change my business?" - Joel Barker. Andy's Take Away: Pay attention to the people who are breaking the rules.
  • "If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do? Why shouldn't we walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?" - Andy Grove. Andy's Take Away: Acknowledge what's not working and own up to why you are unable to do anything about it.
  • "When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near." - Michael Hammer. Andy's Take Away: Don't let the past overshadow your future.

That concludes the recap of speakers throughout the conference. As far as my closing thoughts on Catalyst here they are:

  • Catalyst does it right. Absolutely incredible experience. I was challenged, inspired, stretched, and all for the better.
  • Aaron Keyes might be the most passion-filled worship leader I have ever seen. This guy is not simply a singer or musician. He is a worshipper. Of all the incredible talent on the Catalyst stage, Aaron Keyes stole the show in my opinion. Amazing talent and heart for God. You need to check him out right now.
  • I had a great time hanging out at the Blogger's Dinner hosted by Brad Ruggles. It was great to meet some new peeps and hang out. Thanks Brad!
  • Catalyst doesn't simply focus on great speakers. It's all about the experience. From the moment you exit the interstate to head to the arena, they begin to create an experience for the particpants. Most churches could learn a lot from this.
  • There were some awesome ministries represented at Catalyst. Of course, one of my favorite organizations, Compassion was there. But you should also check out Trade As One, the new rockumentary Call and Response about human trafficking, Hoops of Hope, and Samaritan's Purse to name a few.
  • Billy Graham was given the Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award. Due to his age and health issues, he couldn't be there to accept in person so his son, Franklin, accepted the award on his behalf. There will be thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people in heaven because of Billy Graham. This was one well-deserved award.
  • Overall, Catalyst was a fantastic experience. If you are a leader, especially in ministry or the church, it is a definite must-attend conference. You need to be there. Do whatever it takes to make it happen. I know I'll be back next year.


Catalyst Recap - Part Two...

Here is my continued summary of the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. You can check out my first thoughts and part one of the Catalyst Recap by clicking here. Here are some more brief highlights from some of the event's speakers:

Seth Godin: Tribes
  • In today's society, people ask two questions: Whose going to be there? Whose going to lead us?
  • A tribe is a group of people, self-selected, usually with a leader, who come together with a purpose. A crowd does not equal a tribe.
  • The more powerful the connection, the more people will buy in.
  • Do something you might get criticized for.
  • We need to become heretics. A heretic is someone whose faith is so deep that they are willing to take on the status quo.
  • Leading is not choice. It is an obligation. It's using the leverage that's been given to you.

Craig Groeschel: Finding It When You've Lost It

  • This session was another one of my favorites. Some very stretching stuff!
  • The "It" is the something special of God that He does in and through someone or something.
  • We lose "it" when we focus on building "my" church, instead of His church.
  • If you lose "it" you have to do something drastic to get it back.
  • We ought to pray 3 prayers: God stretch me. God heal me. God ruin me.
  • Our heart should break for the things that break the heart of God.

Tim Sanders: Saving The World at Work

  • You create abundance by giving. Scarcity is solved by love.
  • That which you learn on Sunday makes you a rockstar on Monday. You have to take your values to work.
  • We need each other in order to be successful.
  • When you show someone love, even the people who only observe that act are changed.
  • Leaders guage reality and they give hope.
  • If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Dave Ramsey: The Enemies of Unity

  • There are five enemies of unity: poor communication, gossip, unresolved disagreements, lack of a shared purpose, and sanctioned incompetence.
  • You have to create communication.
  • Gossip is when a negative is discussed with anyone who can't help solve the problem.
  • Leaders must have a backbone!
  • An indecisive leader is by definition not a leader.
  • If you're gonna' put a fish on the back of this thing, you better drive it right! If it's "Christian" then it better have an extreme level of excellence!

I'll have one more post recapping Catalyst. It includes some thoughts from the final few speakers and a brief recap of my first Catalyst experience. Stay tuned...

Wow Wednesday...

I have to admit when Ace of Base crashed onto the music scene in the mid-90s I was all about their tunes. You might even could say that I saw "the sign." (You'll only get that if you've listend to Ace of Base before...) But when I saw this version of "All That She Wants" my only response was...wow. So it becomes my latest installment in the Wow Wednesday series - a video that can only leave you with one response - wow. Check it out.


Catalyst Recap - Part One...

I spent a couple days last week at the Catalyst Conference. It was absolutely incredible. 12,000 "next generation" leaders all in one place, at one time. It was challenging. It was stretching. It was good stuff. I thought I'd share a few highlights of what some of the speakers shared throughout the two day event. Catalyst was like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant, so understand that this is just a small portion of what was shared. I'm planning on posting a few blogs to at least cover a main thought or two that each speaker shared. Here are the first couple:

Andy Stanley: Louder Than Words
  • We must lead from moral authority. Moral authority comes from a balance between our creed and our deeds.
  • We must show moral authority in the areas of forgiveness, family, and finances.
  • In talking about balancing family and ministry: "Prioritize the role that no one else can play over the role that many others can play." Anybody can be a church's pastor. You're the only husband and father your family has!
  • In regards to finances: "It's simple. Give. Save. Live on the rest."
  • If you want to lead generous people, be a generous person.

William Paul Young, Author of The Shack

  • God has an affection that is relentless in our direction.
  • God heals us not so that he can use us, but because He loves us. And then He invites us to play.

Jim Collins: Good To Great

  • Good is the enemy of great. Good is what keeps us from being great.
  • Greatness is not a function of the cards we're dealt. It's a function of choice and discipline.
  • We are more likely to die from indigestion of too much opportunity than from starvation of it.
  • You have to prepare for what you cannot predict.
  • Shared this quote his mentor told him: "You spend way too much time trying to be interesting. Try spending more time being interested."
  • If you have a "to-do" list, you should also have a "stop doing" list.

Steven Furtick: From the Promise to the Payoff

  • This was by far one of my favorite sessions at Catalyst. Furtick exudes passion and authority. The brother can straight up bring it too - old school style!
  • Hold on to what you hear from God even when you can't see it.
  • First comes the promise. Then there is a process before the payoff.
  • Be faithful in the process!
  • God is preparing you for what He's preparing for you.
  • Don't forfeit the payoff by being unfaithful in the process.

I know this blog post is longer than normal, but there was just so much good stuff at Catalyst. I'll be posting at least one more Catalyst Recap post, if not two more. So check back here for more Catalyst goodness.


The Weekend Update...

Here's the weekend update...Comin' at ya' like a blitz!
  • I got home from Catalyst around 1 AM on Friday night/Saturday morning. Needless to say, I did not want to get up on Saturday.
  • Once I did get up, I headed to Gonzales, TX to do some painting. I've been working on a job at a friend's office building and had gotten behind on getting it done. I paint on the side to try and earn some extra money and I pride myself on doing quality work quickly. Since Jo's been sick the quickly has gotten left off of this job and I was trying to get as much done as possible on Saturday.
  • I listend to the Red River Shootout while I painted Saturday. The Longhorns put it to the Sooners and now UT is rated #1 in both national polls! HOOK 'EM HORNS!
  • Sunday was TCC all day. We had problems galore on Sunday morning. You name it, it went wrong. From mic problems, tech issues, volunteers gone...It was crazy. But what was even crazier is that God showed up in the midst of the chaos. Every time a day like this happens, God shows how He is so much bigger!
  • I spent Sunday afternoon planning for this. If you live in the Kyle/Buda area, you need to make plans now to be at Trunk or Treat on Halloween! It's gonna' be awesome!
  • Sunday night was spent hangin' with some great students at our SURGE middle school meeting.

That about wraps it up. The weekend flew by and now it's off to another busy week!


Leaving On A Jetplane...

Tomorrow morning I'm headed to Atlanta, GA for the Catalyst Conference. This will be my first time to go to Catalyst and I am pumped! I'm looking forward to being stretched and challenged in my growth as a leader, pastor, and Christ-follower. I say it all the time, but let me repeat it here: I'm on a journey and by no means do I have it all figured out. That's why I love opportunities like Catalyst where I know that I will have such an opportunity to learn.

If you follow me on twitter, I'm sure I'll be updating like crazy from the conference. If you don't follow me, check it out here or watch for updates on the side-bar on the right of this blog.

I've also got a couple of blogs set to post while I'm gone and I'll be recapping all the Catalyst goodness as soon as I return.


The HUGE Announcement...

So last week I said I'd be posting BIG NEWS on the blog here within a week. I know you've been waiting in anticipation, checking the blog multiple times a day, just dying to know, right? Well, here it is:

Johanna and I are expecting! We've got a baby on the way! That's right folks, I'm gonna' be a DAD! Johanna is 12 weeks pregnant and to say that we are beyond excited would be the understatement of the year. We cannot wait and are so pumped about being parents. And the fact that God would allow us to be entrusted with another life is absolutely humbling, amazing, and even a little scary! Even as I type this it's still all a little overwhelming. God is so rich in his mercy and grace to us and is so good to us.

So now you're in the know. You've got the scoop. Feel free to share it with those we know who might not read this blog. And pray for us. If you follow me on twitter, you know that Johanna has already had a couple hospital stays. You can read about that on her blog here. Every day, several times throughout the day, I pray and ask God for a healthy mom and a healthy baby. I'd sure appreciate you joining me in that prayer. And while you're praying, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to pray for the kid that will have me for a dad...there's no telling what adventures await him or her!


A Supermarket Rant...

Dear HEB (or any other supermarket),

I'd like to use my blog let you know exactly what I want and don't want. For starters, I want you store to be laid out in some semblance of logic. Please quit putting half of the cold stuff three feet inside the door so that by the time I check out it's completely thawed. Also, if we could at least get food groups on adjoing rows, that would help greatly. Second, no I do not want any of your basket specials or wow items at the checkout, no matter how great of a buy it may be. I'll pass on the jumbo box of Nerds for 99 cents, the overstocked toothbrushes you haven't been able to sell for months, and the Coconut-Strawberry-Fusia hair conditioner. If I had wanted any of this I would have picked it up at the display you had at the front door...or in any of the other 7 aisles you placed this junk in the middle of througout the store. Thirdly, I also do not want to sign up for any special discount card. No, I do not want to give you every last ounce of my personal information in order to get a keychain card that allows me to save 2.8% on Tuesday mornings from 8 to 8:45 a.m. Thanks for your incredible generosity, but I'll pass. Finally, I also do not want to have to press eighteen buttons just to complete my transaction with my debit card. I slid the card. I typed in my pin number. Do you really have to ask me if the total is ok and if I am sure I want to make this transaction four more times? You've got to be kidding me! It has taken you supermarkets years to screw up the simple process that Mom & Pop grocery stores invented decades ago: I give you my money and you give me your products. Here's what I want: I want you to check out the stuff I've chosen and placed on the check out stand. I want you to do it quickly. And I want you to give me my stuff, my receipt, and my change (if necessary). It really is that simple.


A Customer Who Hopes To One Day Get In & Out of Your Supermarket In Less Than 1 Hour


Wow Wednesday...

A friend sent me this as soon as I started the Wow Wednesday weekly post. I thought I'd in turn share it with you. The message of God's love is definitely true and solid. There is a God who loves each and every one of us. But the eyes and the "ooooh" noise...wow.