Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Father and Son HHI 2011
"When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened."
-Billy Graham

Growing up in Philadelphia you would think that I was a tough city kid.  I wish I was the one who won the fights and got the girl.  I wasn't much of fighter, and rarely ever got the girl.

In middle school, I was the kid in jogging pants and a Phillies jersey, not exactly the bad the boy the popular kids wanted to be around.  Actually, I like to think of middle school as a layer of hell found somewhere in Dante's Inferno.

There were moments where I found my self standing up to the class teacher more than the class bully.

I wanted to be brave.

As a father I see many of my qualities echoed in my son.  Some good, some not so good.

One quality I think he gets more from his mother than me is the ability to be brave.

This week we have the privilege of vacationing with my In-Laws at Hilton Head Island.  We can see the beach from our window and there is nothing like being at the beach.

This is definitely a step up from the Jersey Shore, but than again, I think most things are a step up from the Jersey Shore.

Going to the beach with a toddler who is 18 months old can be an adventure.
The ocean can be a very scary especially to someone who can barely see over the kitchen table.  However, making the most of the vacation time we headed for the beach the first day of the week.

As we came to the beach where the sand meets the water Keane had fun splashing and watching the waves come to shore.  That is until one of those waves knocked him over.

 Tears soon replaced his smile.

No one likes to be knocked down, no matter how old you are.

As Keane ran back to the shade of our umbrella and comfy beach chairs, I thought his day in the sun was over. A few moments later he was making his way back to tackle the waves again.

So we faced the ocean together hand in hand.

He got knocked down again, but he got up.
He no longer cried because of the waves,
He would now shout at the waves.

Watching my son I felt inspired to tackle my own waves in life.
It can be easy to turn your back on your fears and go where it is safe,
whether it be the shade of the umbrella or the comforts of the suburbs.

There is so much I want to teach my son,
to never give up and to persevere in tough times.

To have him learn from my example and be brave.

This time I found my self learning from his life,
This time I learned to shout at the waves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What I Learned from Snubbing Mark Batterson

Butler Township Fest 2011
The journey of church planting is a crazy ride and it has allowed me to go in and out of many church circles.  A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to meet a great influence of mine, Mark Batterson, and talk church planting.

Two things will always stick with me from with that day.

 One thing Mark Batterson said.
 And one thing I did, or should I say, didn't do.

In his office, which was pretty cool, nestled above Ebenezer's Coffee House, was filled with books.

You can tell a lot by a person by the books they have on their shelf. 

Mark has an eclectic mix of books which is no surprise to why he is such an effective leader.
Upon looking around his office and reading book titles, he offered me one of his latest written books at the time "Wild Goose Chase," and I said, "No I already have it."

Call it nerves.
Call it stupid.
Call it a snub.

I didn't say that it was one of my favorite books.
I didn't say that I have purchased and repurchased that book 
because of giving it away so many times.
I didn't allow him an opportunity to give. 

Followed by a puzzled look on Mark's behalf he graciously continued the conversation about church planting. 

And he left me with one of the most valuable pieces of information about church planting... location.

Batterson said, "One way you can find a location to plant a church is if you can see yourself raising a family in that area."

I found that statement to be very true and very encouraging as we have landed in Drums PA to plant Valley Community Church.

However, that conversation always left me with a bittersweet feeling, because of the snub, or the fact that when I get nervous sometimes and I say no when I should say yes.  

Which leads me to this past weekend, our church plant's first official event for VCC.  We had twenty volunteers from three local churches (MountainTop Family Center Church, Berwick AG and Faith AG Church) giving their time for the Butler Township Festival.  

There were times when I thought we had too many volunteers and found myself wanting to say no to some individuals.  

I guess my reasoning or fear was of having too many people 
standing around because all the jobs were filled.

Thankfully I said yes, and as it turned out, every single person that helped us this past weekend had an important role to play making it a total success.  There were situations that came up that I did not foresee and we needed more people than I originally thought.  

It's a good thing I said yes.

If I said no, I would have robbed a person of making a difference.

I have learned to say yes more than no.  

Even when people at the office offer if I want something for lunch.
Even when people offer a drink in the waiting room.
Even when people ask to volunteer.

There are times I think about that look that Mark Batterson gave me. 
If you asked him, he probably wouldn't even remember, but I do...

Because I have seen that look in others when they've wanted to be generous and giving
and thought I had everything I need.

It is good to give but,
I am learning that I am not too good to receive.