Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Doves Have Taken Flight!

The Dove Tree project that I headed up at church has finally come to an end.!It was only a month's worth of work, but oh how difficult it turned out to be. It was a typical situation where the depth of the project is explained to you as one thing, but, in the end it was at least three times as much work, if not more.

Let me be the first one to say that it was worth all of the effort, aggravation and frustration. We were able to provide gifts for 191 kids who are in single parent homes. We're not talking socks either. Some of the gifts were run of the mill necessities (i.e socks, shirts), but many a gift was super nice. There were numerous digital cameras, I-pods. Nintendo DS' were definitely the en vogue gift this Christmas season.

Praise God for this project. It was solely because of His grace that these kids will be blessed. But He also blessed me in a big way. I was totally blessed to be a part of the project. It gave me something to invest in and spend my time with. The entire project was a confirmation of a word that I had from the Lord before we ever moved to Lakeland.

In the end, I just want God to get the glory for this project. I hope the Kids feel the love of Jesus through the generosity of Victory Church.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dirty Birds must fly together.

Bobby Petrino is finally gone from the helm of the Atlanta Falcons. I can honestly say that I was never excited about the hire. Always hopeful that we might some how win, but never thrilled for Bobby P to be leading my team.

I will be the first to admit that this has been ununbelievable year for the Falcons ( in a horrible way that is). I know it was tough, but He didn't even last one complete season! I wrote about finishing strong last week and that is one post that Bobby needs to read. His track record is mind blowing. Two years after signing a ten year contract with Lousiville, he bolted for the NFL. 13 games into a five year contract, he abandons the Falcons for the University of Arkansas. It kind o f makes you wonder what Arkansas thinks will happen in a couple of years.

I think it is a risky hire to invest in someone who routinely jumps ship for something better. This has me thinking....Do I jump ship? Am I scared of tough times. I would like to think that I am not and that I am willing to stick it out. I have recently experienced a success with this idea with Dove Tree and it feels really good! It wasn't easy but there is something awefully rewarding about finishing the tough things.

I want to again encourage you to be faithful to your commitments and finish strong. People (and God) are watching. How you finish may directly affect what others entrust to you the next time.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I almost tossed my cookies!

Every couple of Friday's I go down to Lake Parker and play ultimate Frisbee with the guy's from Master's Commission Lakeland. Due to circumstances out of our control, we only had 7 players. We played 3 on 3 with one sub. The idea seemed good at the time. Thirty minutes in, everyone was sucking wind. I was good until we hit the one hour mark. It was at that moment that my stomach starting gurgling. I was ready to explode.
Fortunately, I was able to stave off an internal eruption.

So for all of you out there that are wondering. Ultimate Frisbee is not for small groups. You might get sick!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Be obedient!

Have you ever noticed how obedient Joseph (Jesus' Dad) was? I totally remember the story of Jesus's birth, but I had forgotten all of the obedience's from Mary and Joseph. All obedience's are important, but these were extra huge because they fulfilled the prophecies about Jesus (Matt. 2:17, 2:23).

Matt. 1:24-When Joseph woke up , he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

My initial reaction to this verse was that Joseph was incredible to be obedient in such a difficult and unique situation. But as I read on in the following chapters, I began to realize that Joseph was obedient over and over again. There was a culture of obedience in his life. He was able to be obedient in the "large" things because all obedience's were large to him.

It is important to be obedient in all things. Obedience in what we consider small, helps our willingness to be obedient in the "big" things. What we discover down the road is that all obedience's are important. The "small" obedience may very well lead to the next gigantic thing in your life.

Lets take a lesson from the earthly father of Jesus and be obedient.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's all about the sunshine

The state of Florida is amazing! December 5th, and the high was 70 degrees. I spent the bulk of the day panting a couple of pieces for a bedroom we are making over this weekend. I sat in my living room, washed in sunlight. listening to Christmas music. The day could not have been better.

Thank you Lord for the weather!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Finish the race

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just want to jump ship and head for dry land? I am in the middle of one of those situations right now. I am aggravated and sort of fed up and I want to cut all ties and start fresh and anew.

I momentarily made that decision, but before I could even act on it. Before the thought could leave my brain, God put the brakes on the very notion. "You must finish strong," were the words I heard from the Lord. As I drove home, God continued to remind my of important truths about finishing strong.

The old saying is true, no one remembers how you begin, they only remember how you finish. This fact is aggravating, but so true. My authorities have praised me continually for the work I have done. If I quit now, the only thing people will remember is that I left the job undone.

Realizing this, two things come to mind. I am so thankful that Jesus did not leave His task of saving the world unfinished. I am sure He wanted to jump ship many times before he DIED on a cross! Also, if I quit now, hundreds of other people will be affected. It is not their fault that I am aggravated or upset.

In conclusion, the next time you are ready to abandon ship, remember that your decision will affect more than just yourself and that God has you in that place for a specific purpose. He has made a way for you to make it through. Hallelujah!!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is flying straight at us. This year's Thanksgiving was off the hook. All of my immediate family met up at Nana Howard's in Gum Branch, Georgia. Sixteen of us stayed at Nana's house for four days.

One of the highlights of Thanksgiving has become "Howard bowl." This year was the sixth edition of this backyard football game. The teams are rarely completely fair, but with all of the sibling rivalry (3 generations) involved in the game, neither team acknowledges any disparity.

This year was the largest game yet (11 people). We introduced to spouses to the game and actually played with flags. My brother also had official T-shirts printed up. The final score found my team the loser by one touchdown, but this is not all of the story.

The Howard Bowl witnessed it's first major injury. Courtney, my sister and best cover defender, severely sprained her ankle and preliminary X-rays look like she may have torn the tendons. If all of this was not bad enough, she did it on the second play of the game. We had to go the entire game without our shutdown cornerback. If you ask me, the fact that we only lost by one is a testament to our team.

I walk away from the game with an even greater appreciation for Courtney. While watching on the sidelines, she would periodically wipe away tears. With her ankle immediate swollen well past the size of a softball, Papaw asks if she is crying from the pain. She looked at him and said, "no, just disappointed I can't play." When I heard that my heart lept with joy. What a competitor!

If I only found out one thing this year, it is that even though it is just a backyard game, the Howard Bowl has found significance in our family tradition.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Brother Bowl 2

I played my brother for the second time in fantasy football this season. He termed it Brother Bowl 2. I defeated him in the first match up and have posted a 6-1 record since. Caleb has gone 3-3-1.

I won't go into a long story. All you need to know is that he beat me by two measly fantasy points. He deserves all of the credit. I hope Brother Bowl 3 is for the championship. Congratulations to my worthy foe.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm out of shape

It has now been 4 months since I had a job. The first few couple of months were cool. Then I was getting the itch to start working again. Now I am in the place where I just want to be where God desires for me to be. I am currently volunteering with Quest, the young adult ministry at Victory Church. I go in three or four days a week and just help out however I can.

What I am quickly realizing that I am out of working shape. The morning comes earlier than it used to. I am wiped out from an entire Tuesday spent at church.

I better watch myself. If I become weak in the workplace, I may become a permanent stay at home husband! Dun-dun-DUNNNN!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My one shot

After talking about it for several years, I am playing fantasy football this year. I must say that I love it! Our season began with the third week of the regular season. Thus far, I am tied for first place with a record of six wins and one loss.

I will keep you up to date with my my season, as I pursue fantasy football glory.

Monday, November 5, 2007


I was looking up some information on countries around the world for a missions service tomorrow night. The basic info I was after was a)Population b)Major Religion c)# of missionaries. It was astounding to see some of the statistics. It is very humbling to see countries that have millions of residents and only two hundred missionaries. It is even more astounding to see countries like China and Turkey, where there is no mention of missionaries listed because it is illegal to do mission work in those particular countries.

At the end of the day. After all of my studying. I am humbled by the blessing of living in America. In Lakeland, it is not hard to hear about Jesus. In most situations, it is not dangerous to profess Christ. This is a great reminder for me to pray for those risking it all for Jesus around the world.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Good Word

We had a guest speaker at Church this morning. He is the head of the "Book of Hope" Ministry that gets Bibles into Countries all over the world.

His main message was that God desires for us to live in His wisdom and power. Many times we get too busy to ask and wait on these specific things from the Lord. He told story after story of specific times when the Lord told him to do a specific thing and God proved Himself faithful.

My favorite story goes like this. After spending a good deal of time traveling internationally, He is flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg, then returning to the U.S. for a much awaited reunion with his wife and Kids. While in flight to St. Pete, God tells him to go to another city in Russia, that he had never heard of. Although he didn't want to, he changed destinations when he landed at the St. Pete. airport.

He showed up in the new town the following day. God directed him to a girl whose Father was the mayor of the town, which had 800,000 residents. He was inexplicable shown favor by the mayor, who asked for a book of hope to all of the kids in High School.

A few months later, he returned to this town, distributed the books, a six week crusade began and 28,ooo people were saved in the then communist country. All of it began with the Lord speaking to him while on a plane. He chose to be obedient and the Kingdom of Heaven was greatly impacted.

What a geat reminder he was to me.

As you go through your day, pray for wisdom and power, listen for God's voice, and then be obedient.

In the Navy!!!!

I wan to give a major shout out to the Naval Academy. Their football team defeated Notre Dame today 46-44, in triple overtime. The win was the first for the Academy in 44 years.

I keep an eye on the Midshipmen because of their coach. Paul Johnson was the head coach of Georgia Southern University in the late Nineties and early on at the turn of the century. Growing up in Brooklet, which is ten minutes outside of Statesboro Georgia, I grew up a big GSU fan. After back to back 1-AA championships with GSU, Johnson took the head job at Navy,

Since the move, Johnson has led the midshipmen to winning records, bowl games, bowl game victories and now a historic win over the golden-domers.

I know that the Irish are in a down year, but don't let that fact dampen the glory of today's victory for Navy.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The excitement inspires me!

Tuesday night at Quest, I met an engaged couple who who were attending for the first time. Turns out, this couple has lived in Lakeland for two years and never really checked out any churches. Two weeks ago, the guy, Jason, gave his life to Jesus. His transformation has caused his fiancee, Sarah to turn back to her relationship with Jesus. The events of the past few weeks has rejuvenated their lives.

This couple is an absolute delight to be around. We had dinner with them at Zaxby's tonight. We got busy talking and sharing stories. Four hours later, we parted ways. The inspiring part of being around them is the look in their eyes. Jason is absolutely lit up on Jesus. He is so excited to be a follower of Christ.

Admittedly, he knows almost nothing about Christianity and will not apologize for it. It is Jason's new-found passion in Jesus that causes me to get excited. He is eager to learn. He is going to buy a bible tomorrow. He asked me what Genesis is/means. Starting next week, we are going to start reading Genesis and move forth. The brother is hungry. His hunger is addictive.

His hunger has got me thinking. Am I that hungry? Unfortunately, I don't think so.

Why is it this way? Why am I less excited about diving into the word now that I have been a follower for several years? I know that I have so much more to learn. Why am I satisfied? I would quickly agree with you that the more I learn about God, the more I want to learn. And yet, I sit here also admitting that I don't read my Bible everyday. I Struggle to get in it a majority of each week.

Why is this the way it is? People have shared this same problem to me. I have been warned about it and yet, I still struggle with it.

I think the answer is found in passion. The gosh darn truth is that You spend time in the things you are passionate about. If you like to write you write. Golfers are found on the golf course. Movie buffs are in theatres. People passionate about seeking the face of God, spend time in the word. God's mouth, so to speak.

Now that God has blessed me with a new friend who is passionate to learn anything and everything about God. I get the chance to be Jason's scuba instructor as we dive into the Bible. I am so thankful for him. God is so great. He brings the right people into my life for specific reasons. He always knows what I need to keep me growing and challenged.

Pray for Jason and I, as we jump from the boat and submerge ourselves in the truth.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Robert was his name, he was Jesus' brother.

Mandie and I were on our way home from Church last Tuesday night. We stop to put gas in Mandie's car. As I was washing her windshield, a stranger walked up and asked for a smoke. When I told him that I don't smoke. "Good for you" He nodded his head.

He proceeded to explain his situation and how he has been having a tough time. He asked me for help. My gut reaction was to decline his invite to help him. And can I just say that I hate that about myself. I wish I wasn't so selfish. Some one comes up and asks for a couple of dollars and I find reasons to not help. You would think that someone who has been so freely given to, would reciprocate in a like manner. Unfortunately, most times, I reject those seeking my help.

I spoke in a previous blog about how God has been calling me to action. True to form, after God has taught me something new or reminded me of a truth, He puts me in situations to act upon it. Lately, God has been calling me to love through action. So I am continually finding myself in situations to love others.

There I was, this dirty, scraggly stranger staring me in the face, skin dark and weather beaten, asking for help. I could barely hear his request because God was also talking in my ear, "I tell you the truth, whatever you have done for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." -Matthew 25:40.

By the grace of God and solely for his glory, I am happy to report that I grabbed the hand he stretched in my direction. I had the opportunity to hook him up with a footlong sub and some orange juice.

Before we parted ways. He allowed me to tell him about my Savior. How God has a plan for him, that God wants to be his ever present help in time of need. That God already knew his needs and circumstances before he told them to go. That God loves Him more than he can comprehend and has already paid the price so that they can have a relationship. He let me pray over him. Out loud, directly in front of the entrance of 7 Eleven. I got to claimed his soul in the name of Jesus.

After I said amen, I pulled him in close, stared him dead in the eye and said "I am giving to you because God has given to me. I want to help you know God's love."

He nodded, "I feel his love."

With that, I walked back to the car. Mandie was staring at me with that look that was said, "tell me everything." Robert walked off into the night. I told him that I would pray for him and I am asking you to join me.

His name is Robert. He is a certified brick mason that needs to find work so he can pay off some debts, get an ID and start his life over.

As you go through your day, be attentive to the people that need love. Remember...Jesus is their brother!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just Wait!

I have been in Lakeland, Florida for three months and I still don't have a job. To be brutally honest, I have not searched for a job very hard. I have asked God over and over again to put me where He desires for me to be. Up until this point, He has yet to bring a job my way. Lately this has become an area of aggrevation and impatience for me. Recent developments have rocked my face and I want to share them with you.

I have become good friends with a guy named Shua. He works at a Starbucks here in town. He's been giving me the full-court press to get a job at Starbucks. "You would be good at it," or "we could work together" were the phrases that I heard from him that made me want to apply for the job.

Last Wednesday I went to the store and picked up an application. For three or four hours it sat on my table. Later that evening, I was talking to Mandie about the possible job. About how I could not get a peace about applying. While discussing it with her, God brought King Saul to mind.

In 1 Samuel 13, Samuel Tells King Saul to wait to offer the pre-war sacrifice until he returns. Saul waits and waits. As each day passes, many of the 2,000 soldiers become scared and begin to scatter. After the appointed seven days, desperate to not lose any more men, King Saul offers the sacrifice without Samuel. The scripture reads that as soon as Saul was finished, Samuel arrived.

Samuel discovers what Saul has done and details immediate punishment. Samuel informs Saul that God was going to establish his Kingdom for all eternity through Saul's family line. But because he failed to wait, God was going to move onto another man, whose heart was like His. This man was David.

At the end of our discussion, Mandie jumped in the shower and I sat on the couch with my Bible. As I dove into the story. I came out on the other side with a great promise from the Lord.

He reminded me that it is ok to wait. We live in a society that looks poorly at waiting. It is perceived as lazy and uninspired. Instead, the church now say's things like "when in doubt, just act and God will get in on it."
I believe with all my heart that if I miss what God has for me, that He does sometimes join me where I am and can do great things. The sole reason this can happen is because of His grace. He does not have to, instead He chooses to out of His grace and mercy.

Now just because God will do this, does not mean that it is always right to move without His clear direction. He is not required to make it all good. Moving without God can end up good. The catch is that God has His best designed for us. After his premature sacrifice, King Saul was able to rout the Philistine Army that was opposing him. If this was all you knew, you would say that everything ended up well for Saul. I would say that victory over the Philistine's was good. But God had something better in mind.

God made Saul the first King of Israel. Saul was Chosen to be the representative of God Himself to the nation of Israel. God chose Saul to reign over His chosen people. God also planned to make his Kingdom last for all of eternity. This means that God was going to bring Jesus through Saul's family tree. Saul was going to be the ultimate patriarch for the savior of the world.

As I read over this story. God kept saying, "wait, just wait!" It felt so good to hear the Lord's voice so strongly.

So that is what I am doing. Mandie tore up the app. and threw it in the trash. I am waiting on the Lord. I know that Starbucks would be good. But I am not interested in good. I am going to wait until Samuel comes walking over the horizon with God's best.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's all about action

About two years ago, I was at a lifestream service back home in Norman, Oklahoma. At this particular service a guest speaker took a few minutes to share about the ministry that he was involved in. This was not unusual, because many different organizations wanted to speak to the 700+ people that attended Lifestream. The ministry this night was Mochaclub.

This organization asks you to give up $7 a month to give to their work in Africa. The idea is that giving up two Mocha's a month would equal $7. With your $7 a month, the mocha club can feed one person for a month, give clean water to a person for a year, send two kids to school for an entire term, and the list goes on and on.

That is what I heard that Thursday night, two years ago. I finally signed up to be a member of the Mochaclub today! The truth is that I should have signed up that very night and I didn't do it. Since that time, there have been numerous times when God brought it to my mind. Reminding me I need to sign up and help. I just seemed to be too busy. Or it was never the right time.

Will there ever be an absolute "right time?" It is so acceptable to say I will wait until a better time. Until I have a better money situation. Until I have more time. I have said these things. The time to act is now. If you continue to put off your call to action, time will pass and you will miss out on a world of opportunities.

I was financially able to give $7 a month two years ago. But I just now signed up. Think of all the people I could have helped in the last 24 months. The sad reality is that I have been helped by so many people along the way. Do I do a good job of passing those blessings along to others?

I was talking to some friends at dinner last night. The word revolution was being thrown around the table. I am in the midst of my own revolution. God is changing my ideas, my desires. I am ready to take action. The cool thing about action is that it is the best way for me to serve God. Jesus said that which you have done to the least of these, you have also done unto me.

So I want to challenge you to take action. I have started a team at Mochaclub. Below is the link to get involved. I have chosen to help put kids through school. I am helping rebuild Africa through rebuilding a generation. Don't wait for two years. Get involved!

To join my team go to: mochaclub.org/join5863

Monday, October 8, 2007

Who am I cheering for?....It's complicated.

I am sitting here in utter disbelief. The Packers just lost and I can't believe it. There was not any moment during their game with the Bears that I thought they were going to lose. I was cheering a bit for both sides because Urlacher plays on my fantasy team and I was playing against a guy who was starting Favre. But I had picked the Packers to win on ESPN.

So I needed Urlacher to play well. Favre to play well enough to win, but not put up to good of numbers. The Packers to win. Unfortunately only Urlacher playing well came true. We will see how my fantasy end up tomorrow night. I am to cheap to pay for the automatic scoring system. I have to wait until the following day to see the breakdown of the scores.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sports Fantasy

This has got to be one of the best times of the year for sports fans. The postseason has arrived for Major League baseball. College and Pro football are in full swing. I love it! There is something good on everyday. Not only that, but games are on til late in the night or even the morning. This works out perfect for me, since I have nothing I have to get up for in the mornings.

This is the place where I ask for prayers for the Cubs. Its been so long since they've won a World Series (99 years). They deserve more than a sweep. I mean really. Don't the Diamondbacks have any manners. The least they could do is let the beloved Cubbies win the two at home.

Make sure you take some time to sit on the couch and soak in the history. Things happen every October that shape sports in America. It is way cooler to see it happen live instead of Youtube.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Are you married?

The random things that happen to me don't stop just because I moved to Lakeland. I went to lunch with a guy from my church this past Monday. I told my buddy that I wanted to go to a place unique to Lakeland. He suggested Diane's Cafe. I want to state for the record that I had the hamburger with fries and fried okra. It was off the chain.

We sit at our table and the waitress comes by for the first time. We order drinks and she walks away. She brings our drinks and asks us for our order. Here is where the fun begins. Dennis is ordering and can't decide what his two side should be. I jokingly say, "go ahead and get the okra, you know that looks good."
The waitress then chimes in "aren't y'all a little young to be married?" Unsure off what to say. I just look at her for her next move. I am expecting her to say she was just kidding or something. Nothing. She just look at me. Finally, she says' "aren't y'all both wearing wedding rings." I respond with "yes I am. But I am married to a girl."
"Oh, That's great!" She says.

That's great? She wasn't embarrassed or anything. In fact she conversed with us for at least ten minutes throughout our entire time at the Diner. I have to say, I am thoroughly impressed with her ability to shrug off the possibly awkward moments.

Please don't let this post deter you from eating at Diane's. The food is great. The service is even friendlier. Trust me!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Do I really like it?

I am in the process of writing a novel. I have always felt that the two most popular goals that people set and never achieve are 1. Running a marathon and 2. Writing a book. I have said I could do both. So with more time on my hands than i have had in years, I am writing a novel. I don't promise that it will be any good, nor that it will ever be published. But I am doing it!

I was reading on a ladies website yesterday. She was talking about various aspects about being a writer. She said "if you don't write a lot, don't say you like to write. This idea really resonated with me. I am in the midst of writing a novel and i would say that according to this definition, I don't like to write yet. It is still a chore to get myself to write on an almost daily basis.

As I begin to apply this mode of thinking to other aspects of my life, I am realizing that there are important areas and things that I don't like to do. Namely, spending time n the Bible. I don't get in my Bible on a daily basis. If someone asked me if I liked to read the bible, in reflex I would blurt out yes. But the fact that I only occasionally spend time in the word argues to the contrary.

So as you go through your day. Begin to think on the hobbies and activities that define who you are. The think about how much time you spend in/on those things.

What's a Paintin' Fool

For the last two and a half years of my life, I have worked as a maintenance guy at Journey Church in Norman, Oklahoma. One of the almost weekly tasks that we performed was painting. We painted every wall in the church, numerous times. There were times when I felt like all I did was paint. "I'm a paintin' Fool" became the answer when People would ask me what I did at Journey. The label began as a different way to say that I painted a lot. It became my life's identity.

One of the best aspects of my job was the people I worked with. My boss and the two guys I worked with on a regular basis became my brothers. God brought us together to encourage and challenge one another in our pursuit of Christ. It was not long after I absent-mindedly said that I was Paintin' Fool, that us for maintenance guys became known as The Paintin' Fools.

To say that I am Paintin' fool is to say that I am a servant of Christ. That I realize that everything I have and everything I get to do is solely because of God's grace. That I am willing to do whatever the Lord asks of me. Typically, a maintenance job will be on the low rung of the career hierarchy. It requires humility to do the tasks that no one else wants to do. It is this same humble attitude that I want to posses as I pursue Christ as a Paintin' Fool outside of Journey.