Joy Stealers


This time of year we hear an awful lot of talk about Joy.  We hear carolers singing, “Joy To The World.”  We see signage in stores emblazoned with the world JOY in the latest hipster font.  We can find racks full of shirts and sweaters  screen printed with some cool phrase with joy in it in some sort of distressed font. However, with all the conversation and mention of the word, this time of year seems to more void of actual joy that the rest of the year.

Why is that?  Why does the Christmas season run so low on real joy?

I believe the reason is due to what I call “Joy Stealers.”  These are the things in our lives that we allow to redirect our attention from the goodness of this season and God himself.  These things are tactics of the enemy – Satan – whose mission is to kill, steal and destroy.

So, what are some common “Joy Stealers”?  I am not sure what steals joy for everyone, but here are a few I have experienced…

  1. When I expect a moment or experience to be perfect and bring me joy.
  2. When I expect people to NOT be in a hurry and drive with some civility.  (Maybe that is more of a pet peeve and not a joy stealer.)
  3. When I get more wrapped up in celebrating Christmas than worshipping Christ.
  4. When I develop an attitude that I deserve something and don’t get it.
  5. When I feel like I didn’t buy enough or do enough this Christmas.

Do you notice a common theme?  It’s me.  Only I can allow my circumstances and situation to rob from the joy that God intends for me to experience.  Only I can chose to worship Jesus over a holiday that quite often has very little to do with Him.

So, what steals your joy? What keeps you from experiencing the joy of the Lord this time of year?

Remember what John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  So, don’t let the enemy use a season that should be all about the celebration Jesus to steal your joy.  It’s up to you.


Faithful To Speak


This past weekend I began a new sermon series at Piney Grove based on Isaiah 9:6. In this series we are looking at the names of Jesus mentioned in this verse – Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father & Prince of Peace.

We began by looking at the fact that Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor.  In last week’s message we discovered several ways that God speaks to us.  The primary way being  through His Word.  We learned how powerfully God uses His Word that is living and active to speak to us.

This morning I found this to be especially true.  I was reading in my devotion time and I ran across Psalm 46:7.  Here is what it has to say, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  When I read this verse I was struck by how our God is always with us.  He is truly is our Emmanuel.  The Bible screams this truth over and over from cover to cover and not just in the passages about the birth of Jesus.  Yet, I often overlook it.

Today I was reminded of a powerful truth that I have known for many years.  God’s Word is faithful to speak.  The only condition is that I need to be faithful to listen.  If I don’t hear from God, it’s not that God is not speaking.  The truth is that I am not listening.

As we move into the Christmas season, I want to encourage you to make time in your daily routine to listen.  Be still in His presence.  Stop all the busyness and listen.  He is waiting to speak.  All you need to do it open His Word and listen.

Please Forward Our Mail…

“Please forward our mail.”

This is the request that I recently made to the United Stated Postal Service.  Along with about a million other organizations and businesses that we had to change our personal information and mailing address with in order to move. Well, maybe not a million, but it seemed like it.

So, why?  Why did we forward our mail?

On August 27, 2017 I accepted the call to serve as the Senior Pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Ardmore, AL.  After accepting the call we went about the business of telling our friends, resigning at Revolution, putting our house on the market (It sold in two weeks for full price – YAY!) and packing all of our stuff.  The last couple of months have been a whirlwind experience for our family and there is more to come.  We still have to have our home built, tell the movers bring our stuff that is in storage, move from our temporary home and get settled at the new home.

So, back the question – Why? Why did we forward our mail?

We made the decision to forward our mail, our family and our hearts to a new church family for one simple reason.  God called.  God made it absolutely clear to us that our work at Revolution was complete and He had a mission for us in Ardmore, AL.  I don’t fully know what that mission is, but I have a good idea.  No matter what it is I am looking forward to Him unfolding the rest of it in the years to come.

So, I have a question for you.  Why don’t you forward your mail?

I am not talking about you packing up all your stuff and moving to Alabama, but if you do the weather is nice down here.  At least it is right now.  What I am talking about is hearing the call of God and going where He sends you.  For some of you God has been prompting you to talk to a friend about Jesus, but you are afraid of their response.  For others He is burdening your heart to go on a mission trip, but you are worried about the cost.  For others it is a call to ministry, and you have no idea where to start.

From personal experience I have just one piece of advice for you – FORWARD YOUR MAIL.  Just do it.  Join God in what He is calling you to do.  Sure it’s scary, but it’s so worth it.  It is totally worth the paperwork, phone calls, financial risk and relational changes.  It is totally worth it, because you are joining God in what He is doing and lives will be changed – beginning with you.

So, will you do it?  Will you join God in the thing that He is calling you to do?  Will you forward your mail?

Sunday Worship & Discipleship

I grew up in a large church in Memphis, TN.  This church had over 700 folks in attendance most Sunday mornings.  It was always an exciting time walking into the church gathering, singing and hearing the message from the Pastor.  I must admit that I might have nodded off to sleep a few times in my teen years, but it was always special.  Yet, those times in Sunday worship are still some of my fondest memories of church.

Something has happened in our culture.  The church culture most specifically.  This something is the idea that Sunday AM worship is not important anymore.  Claims of wanting more authenticity and needing deeper relationship are used to justify this viewpoint.  As a result many in the church no longer make regular attendance in worship important.  Most who consider themselves regular attend just two times a month.

This saddens me, because it was through the Sunday morning worship that I learned to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Here are some of the ways that Sunday morning worship shaped my walk with Christ…

  1. Attending every Sunday (unless I was sick or out of town) taught me that following Jesus is about being consistent and not hit and miss.
  2. Singing with a large group of folks gave me a taste of what heaven will be like.  It is not just about my worship and my walk.  It’s about our worship and our walk.  Jesus  made this clear in the Lord’s Prayer, when he said – OUR FATHER.  Following Jesus is not as much about ME as it is WE.
  3. Hearing messages (even the boring ones) has taught me how to study and read the Word of God for myself.  Sure, I’ve gone to college and seminary.  However, I really learned to study the Word by hearing my pastor walk through passages in God’s Word.
  4. Experiencing an invitation at the end of the sermon has taught me that God’s Word is not just something we read or hear, but God speaking and calling us to respond.
  5. Getting to pray and serve in that church opened my heart to surrender to God’s call to ministry.  I still remember a youth Sunday where I was chairman of deacons for the day.  Even though I never became a deacon, I saw that I had a place in the church.
  6. Giving my tithe once I started to work taught me that it all belongs to God.  It is not my money – It’s his.  He has just entrusted me with a small portion, so I would learn to trust Him more.

Now, I know that church doesn’t have to have a certain structure or schedule.  God was good to give us freedom in that.  However, we are called in Hebrews 10:25 to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.”

How regularly do you attend worship with God’s people?  You will be amazed at what will happen and how much you grow, if you would just make being with God’s people a regular habit.

Discipleship: In A Small Group

For the past four years on Tuesday nights Julie and I have hosted a group of folks in our home that we call “Community Group.”  This group is an integral part of our weekly routine and family life.  If we are out of town or our routine is upset our kids will ask, “Are we not having group this week?”  To be honest during the Christmas break Julie and I will often look at each other and say, “I can’t wait for our next group meeting.”

Why is that?  Why has this group become so important to us?  What is it about that group of 8-15 people that has marked our lives so much?

Is it the realtionships?  Yes, the relationships have been so important to us. The folks in our group are our best friends.  However, there is something more to it.

Is it the prayer we share together?  I would have to say, “YES!”  I have seen God move in the lives of the friends in my group in some very powerful ways over the last few years and even months.  Even with how powerful the prayer has been in our group times, there is something more to it.

Is it the Bible study and discussion?  Sure, the Bible study has been good.  The discussion of God’s Word – though off topic at times – has been very powerful and challenging.  Yet, with all the great moments we’ve had digging into God’s Word together, there seems to be more to it.

So, why has this group impacted my life so much?

After a good bit of soul-searching and personal inventory, the answer is one word – Discipleship.  Through the time spent in deep relationships, powerful prayer times and diving into the Word; God has made me a better disciple.  I see my weaknesses more clearly.  I rely on his strength more fully.  I see how important small group gatherings are in the process of making disciples.

Being a pastor and student of the Word, you would think that I would know that.  However, just like the first generation believers, I had to experience myself.  Here is what they experienced…

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.  – Acts 4:42-47 (ESV)

Here’s the truth – You will never know how a small group of believers will make a better dicisple until you get involved in a small group of believers.  So, as I was up this post, I want to ask – will you get involved?  Will you make the effort to become part of a small group and experience the growth that will happen in your life when you commit to being a disciple in a small group.  It may be a group of men, a women’s Bible study, a Sunday School class, a fellowship of Christian motorcycle riders, etc.  Just find a group and jump in.

If you would like help in getting connected to a group, give me a shout at  I would love to help any way I can.  

Discipleship: Face-to-Face

Have you ever been around someone that really helped you to grow in your relationship with the Lord?  I am not talking about that person whose sermons you listen to or whose books you read.  I am talking about that person that when you hang out together teaches you what it means to follow Jesus.  I am talking about that person whose words challenge you to think about what you believe and why you hold so dearly to it.

This week I got to spend sometime with a guy like that.  That person is my brother-in-law.  To give you a little history about our relationship, I have known him longer than my sister has.  He and I met while we were in college together at Union University.  We graduated together, have eaten tons of BBQ and Taco Bell Chalupas together and enjoyed listening to 90’s CCM songs while riding down the bypass in Jackson, TN.  Our friendship spans two decades, and this week it was just like we picked where we left off last time.

The thing that I was reminded of by our time this week is how important face-to-face realtionships are for discipleship.  Without other believers in your life for you to spend time with, you will not grow in Christ-likeness.  Sure you can get more information from sermons, podcasts and the internet.  Yet, the one thing you need in relationship.  

Discipleship happens best in relationships.

Why are face-to-face relationships so important to our spiritual growth?  

The answer is  – that’s the way Jesus did it.  Sure Jesus used other methods, which I will write about in the coming weeks.  However, he primarily used one-on-one relationships to shape his disciples.  It is the one-on-one conversations that stuck.  His disciples may have remembered a portion of His teachings, but what he told them face-to-face they never could shake.  I bet Peter never forgot, “Feed my sheep.”  I bet the lame never forgot, “get up and walk.”  I bet John never forgot, “behold your mother.”

There is something intimate and personal that happens when discipleship takes place one-on-one and face-to-face.  So, I want to ask – do you have someone like that in your life?  Do you have someone you hang out with regularly that challenges you to grow in Christ?  Are you that person for someone?  Discipleship is not a one-sided thing.  It’s a two lane road.

I want to challenge you to find a friend like that and be a friend like that.  If you don’t have a friend like that, you need some new friends.  If you need help, give me a shout at  I’d love to grab a cup of coffee with you sometime.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

Time Alone With God

Over the last 20 years of serving in ministry I have spent much of my preaching/teaching time talking about a Christian’s time alone with God.  It seems like lately it comes up in every sermon I preach.  Why is that?  Why is it so important?  Why do I talk about it so much?

Well, over the last couple of years, I have come to realize how important daily communion/fellowship with God is to my walk.  I have had a quiet time in some form for 25 years or so.  However, in the last couple of years God has shown me more of why time alone with Him is so important.

This past weekend I was out of town with my extended family at a graduation. We had the privilege to stay at a park on Lookout Mountain in Georgia.  On Sunday morning I got up and went for a 4 mile hike.  I put on a book I was listening to and just went for the hike on the trail.  It was a fairly vigorous hike, but more than that it was breathe taking.  At some points alone the hike I had to stop and just say, “Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

For about an hour or so I listened, prayed, praised, and spent time alone with God.  It was so good for my soul.  I needed that time away.  At the bottom of this post, I have included a picture of a few spots along the trail.  I hope these give you just a snap shot into the glory of God and the beauty of His creation.

Now, what does my quiet time and a 4 mile hike have to do with one another?  It all has to do with what God has been showing me about my time alone with Him.  Here are a few of the takeaways…

  1. My time alone with God keeps me focused on Him.  I get so busy with life, to do lists, and meeting with folks that I can forget what life is really all about.  It is about God.  When I spend time alone with God, I am reminded that He is God and I am His child.  I need that reminder each and every morning.
  2. My time alone with God washes my heart and mind.  I take in a lot of information from social media to movies to in depth coversations.  I need what Pastor James McDonald calls “the washing of the Word.”  I need God’s Word to wash my mind and set it straight on what is true, right and godly.
  3. My time alone with God makes me a better follower of Jesus.  I am a guy who is trying to figure out what God wants me to do just like the next dude.  However, I struggle less at the following, when I spend daily time alone with God.
  4. My time alone with God makes me a better human being.  I can be grumpy.  I mean real grumpy at times.  I can be a tough person to get along some times.  However, when I spend time with God, I am quite literally a better person.  If you don’t believe me just ask my wife.  She knows.
  5. My time alone with God grounds my mind in the truth.  My mind gets pummeled with all kinds of thoughts each day.  I entertain a lot of the enemies lies about myself sometimes.  Lies like – you aren’t good enough, you are failing, etc.  When I spend time with God, He reminds me that I am His child, He doesn’t make junk and I am accepted in Christ.

I dont’ know where you are.  I don’t know if you have a daily time alone with God.  I just know from personal experience that if you will make the time, God will show you great and mighty things.

So, I want to encourage you to take time today and spend some time with God.  You can do it on a hike or sitting in your chair.  Just do it.  You will be amazed at the impact it will have on you.