A Long Overdue Post

I haven’t posted in quite some time (five years to be exact).  I thought is was time to dust off the old blog and let you know what’s going on in our life.  My last post was an update on our move to Georgia from Alabama.  Fast forward to today and you’ll see that quite a lot has changed!

I am now working as the Engineering Manager for J&H Equipment.  I really enjoy the new role and work with a fantastic engineering and management team.  I am still serving as the Ministry and Missions Pastor at Living Stones Church.  I served as the interim Youth Pastor for a year and loved that experience as well.

April’s travel business, Family Memories Travel, continues to grow.  She is also teaching for Chamberlain College of Nursing and loves sharing her passion for nursing with her students. She also stays busy coordinating all of our schedules and driving the kids to school, church, and band!

Emily is a sophomore this year and doing very well in school.  She is involved in Academic Bowl, Beta Club, Spanish Honor Society, and Tri-M Music Honor Society.  Emily plays clarinet in the school’s Wind Ensemble and has been invited to play in the District Honor Band for the last two years.  It’s hard to believe that she is receiving letters from colleges and that she will be moving out in two years!

Sarah is a freshman and loves high school and band.  Her grades are excellent and she plays horn in the school’s Symphonic Band.  Sarah has been invited to play in the All-State honor band for the last two years and was second chair in the entire state this year!

Bradley is last but certainly not least!  He is doing well in all his classes, but really excels in math.  He is in seventh grade at the middle school.  Bradley plays trombone in the school’s Symphonic and Jazz Bands.

I guess you can tell I’m a proud husband and parent!  We are so blessed and thankful for God’s grace in our lives.  We have made so many great friends here and can’t imagine being anywhere else.  Until next time, grace and peace to you all!

Georgia On My Mind

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Georgia a little over a year!  I thought it was time to give an update for those who care to know.  We feel settled in Cumming now and really love the area.  We’ve learned to love the outdoors and have spent time on Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River.  We’ve “tubed the Hooch” in Helen and love visiting Dahlonegha.

There’s never a shortage of things to do including the Cumming Fair, Six Flags, Stone Mountain, and a ton of activities in downtown Atlanta.  We’ve also enjoyed watching the Braves and Hawks play.  I’m looking forward to going to a Falcons game whenever I can land some tickets.  I guess this is one of the best places to live for “staycations”!

We finally sold our house in Alabaster in August after being on the market for nearly a year.  We were very thankful to have just one mortgage again!  God answered our prayers and we sold it just as our resources were running out.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to have our faith stretched and to see God’s providence yet again.

The kids have adjusted very well to our move.  They love their school and the teachers have been excellent.  Our neighborhood is full of children and the kids all walk to school every day.  They’re making great grades and having fun with several extra curricular activities.

Work is going well for me and April.  I’ve adjusted to corporate life at Metso and have met people from all over the world.  I’m amazed by the opportunities I’ve been given to be an ambassador for Christ at work.  April is booking a lot of vacations at Family Memories Travel and has also been named VP of Human Resources and Administration at Medfirst Consulting.  I’m very proud of her work and the fact that she does it all from home so she doesn’t have to sacrifice time with the kids.

We’re very excited about our new church home.  We’re now members of Living Stones Church in Cumming.  It’s amazing to see what God is doing in this church.  Three pastors (including myself) who were formerly involved in church planting were drawn to the church.  We each have different gifts and passions and have agreed to serve with senior pastor Gary Bulley as pastors at Living Stones.

I’m serving as Ministry and Missions Pastor and April is our Children’s Coordinator.  We just had a Grand Opening at a newly purchased facility and we’re excited about the opportunity to be a part of God’s work here.  Please pray that April and I can be effective servants were God has placed us in our next phase of ministry.

We miss our friends and family back home and hope to catch up with everyone soon.  You’re always welcome at our place when your in town.  God bless!

Relocation Update 7/9

Hi everyone!  Thanks for all the encouragement and prayers!!  I’m seeing this as another opportunity to see God at work in our lives.  I can’t imagine moving away from Alabama, but know that there must be a reason God wants us in Georgia.  We’re frantically trying to get the house ready for sale.  Decluttering, repairing, painting, and yard work have kept us very busy this week.

The kids are moving through a range of emotions from excitement to fear and sadness.  Emily seems to be having the hardest time.  She’s very concerned about moving away without having the chance to say goodbye to everyone.  Both Emily and Sarah are sad to leave our house.  They were born and raise here and can’t imagine calling any place else home.  Bradley seems to be fine.  Once he was assured that there will be a McDonalds, playground, and swimming pool in Georgia he was fine!  I’m doing my best to help them process their emotions.  Please continue to pray for them.

Please pray for my parents and Graystone Engineering.  I’ve worked closely with my parents since I graduated from college fourteen years ago.  Dad and I make a great team.  I know that it will be difficult for both of us to adjust to working apart.  Please pray that Graystone will gain more work so that Mom and Dad will be financially secure.

Please continue to pray for Mountain Valley Church.  When I felt called to plant the church three years ago I though I would retire there.  I’m thankful for the loving and dedicated church family at Mountain Valley and have full confidence that they will continue the work we were all called to in Montevallo.  I will work with the church over the next several weeks to make a transition to new leadership.  We have incredible support from Westwood Church (our parent church), the Shelby Baptist Association, and Developing Churches Network.  The church has several great options for continuing the mission in Montevallo.

Most people wonder if I have another church in Atlanta.  I don’t have any ministry plans yet.  The move was driven by the need to support our family and not because I was looking for another church.  I have no doubt that God will provide opportunities for our family to serve Him in Georgia.  Please pray that we will be sensitive to God’s direction in ministry and that we will have the eyes and heart of a missionary when we arrive at our new home.

We have a lot of work ahead of us over the next several days as we plan to put the house up for sale on Monday the 12th.  To make things even more interesting, April signed up for a nursing travel trip in Fort Lauderdale next week before I was offered the job in Atlanta.  Then we plan on going to Atlanta on a house hunting trip for a week when April returns from her trip.

Well that’s all I know to tell you right now.  I’ll try to keep everyone updated on the blog.  Oh, I can’t forget to thank everyone who has pitched in around the house to help us get it ready for sale.  You know who you are and you’ve been a Godsend!!

We hope to see everyone before we leave.  I’d love to have a giant reunion before we move.  Let me know if you’d be interested!!

Go Out From Your Land

“The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. ” (Genesis 12:1, HCSB)

As many of you might know by now, we’re moving to Atlanta so I can take a job with Metso Corporation as a Design Engineer for Capital Projects in their Wood Handling division.  I’ve been privileged to work with my Dad for 14 years at Graystone Engineering.  The economy has taken a toll on our industry and many engineers are looking for work.  Dad and I agreed a couple of months ago that I should start looking for work elsewhere since we don’t see an upswing in the economy any time soon.  I’m thankful that God has given me an opportunity to work right at the time of our need.  I know that many people have been looking for work for weeks if not months.

This move is difficult for a number of reasons.  The first challenge is the change in geography.  This transition will uproot our family that has been in the same place for 14 years.  Our children have never known another home.  Neither April or I have ever lived anywhere except Alabama.

The second challenge is the change to our relationships.  I’ve worked for my family since I graduated from college and see them nearly every day.  April is very close to her family and being just an hour away from them in Northport has seemed like being half way around the world.  We’ve made countless friends in Alabaster during our time here that we will miss dearly.  We’ve counted each person as a blessing to us.  God has used each one of you to enrich our lives and help us grow.

Lastly, we face the challenge of leaving our church.  I couldn’t have imagined what God would do in my life when He first called me into ministry and then called me to plant Mountain Valley Church.  I’ll never forget God’s work in the lives of people inside our church and in the community of Montevallo as He has transformed them by His grace and love.

God has taught me many lessons over the last few years.  I have come to realize that we are called to be obedient no matter how strange God’s will for us might be.  My eyes have been opened to the overwhelming need for laborers in the mission fields of this world (Matthew 9:38).  I’ve learned that church leadership is not limited to the professional clergy (Acts 4:13).   God has reminded me over the last few weeks that the church belongs to Him (Colossians 1:18).  He has shown me that some of us are called to plant, some to water, but God is responsible for the growth (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).  I’ve learned that we’re simply called to trust, obey, and give God all the glory.

Please be in prayer for our family in the days ahead.  I’ll start my new job on August 1st.  We have so much preparation ahead of us in such a very short time.  Please pray that our house will sell quickly and that we’ll find a new home soon (we’re looking at the Alpharetta, John’s Creek, or Suwannee area).  Please pray for our children as they face the fear of the unknown.  Please pray that God will pour out His wisdom, grace, and strength on us as we go out from our land.  Please pray for Mountain Valley Church as they decide what the future holds for them.

I”m sorry that this post is so roughly written – several days of working on the house until midnight has left me delirious!  We’ll do our best to keep everyone up to date on our transition.  We love you all and hope to see you soon!

The Priority of Evangelism over Caring for the Poor

Greg Gilbert over at 9marks.org posted a transcript of a discussion between Don Carson, John Piper, and Tim Keller on priority of sharing the Gospel in our compassion ministries.  I have become strongly convicted that followers of Christ must care for the poor and helpless as an expression of our love for God and people.  In the midst of these ministries, however, there is a subtle temptation to serve the needy in order to improve their life in a temporary way without addressing their eternal destination and need for salvation.

Carson, Piper, and Keller stress the priority of the Gospel and it’s role in motivating us to help those in need.  We must never help someone with the shortsighted goal of improving their life.  We must be driven by the destination of their eternal souls and their great need to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Take a look at Gilbert’s transcription of the discussion here and let me know what you think.  You can follow a link to the original audio after the jump.

Source:  Church Matters: The 9Marks Blog

In Honor of Church Planters

Church planting has been the most wonderful and yet challenging experience for me.  My faith has been stretched to its limits and my dependence on God has grown immeasurably.  I have seen God move in the lives of men, women, boys and girls.  I have seen social and racial barriers shattered as people of different backgrounds worship the one true God.  I have seen the poor among us and watched God stir up a deep compassion for them among the people of our church.  I have seen people cross the line of faith and follow Jesus.

And yet, there is an ever gnawing sense of discouragement that we are not “successful”.  This lie from Satan has caused many church planters to turn from their calling and throw in the towel.  At Mountain Valley, we have not seen “success” as determined by many inside and outside the church.  We have not grown at an exponential rate.  We are not moving into a building anytime soon.  Our budget has been shrinking rather than growing.  We are sowing in difficult soil.  But I am convinced that I have been called to this ministry in this community for the purpose of lifting the name of Jesus so that all men may be drawn to Him.

I appreciate the words of Edward Leach that were written in June 1869 edition of The Sword and the Trowel – a magazine edited by Charles Spurgeon during his 19th century ministry in London:

We honor the men who, subsisting on scanty and humble fare, battling with adversity, and living down prejudice, are seeking to the best of their ability to plant new churches in apparently unhopeful districts. With the accent of conviction on their lips, the truth of God in their hearts, and undying perseverance leading them on, they must succeed in breaking the dreary monotony of a sinful village life. Their preaching may not please the highly cultured; their methods of working may not suit this decorous age; their unambitious lives may fall flat upon the feverish world; but their faithfulness to God, and persistency in his service, shall be rewarded with the divine “Well done, good and faithful.” We know no greater heroes than these sufferers of contumely and hatred, who so gloriously bear up and strike dismay into the enemy’s camp. Their imperfections are not worthy to be weighed with their virtues. If England is to be evangelized, it must be by such men. Fit them, train them to as great a degree of perfection as mortal man can bear–no standard is too high for God’s ministers but let not culture destroy Christian simplicity (it does not in the truly great); let not learning quench earnestness and enthusiasm; let not supercilious affectation snub them, or selfishness despise them.

Though we may “fall flat upon the feverish world”, we must remain faithful to God and persistent in our service.  I’m honored to serve with men of God called to plant churches that reach a lost and dying world.  Please pray for those called to this vital mission and ask God how you might help a church planter today.

Source: Founders Ministries Blog

Happiness Machine

I love Coca-Cola’s commercial called “Happiness Machine!”  It got me thinking about how much happiness I spread to those around me.  Now, I know what some of you are going to say.  Some of  you think that since we can’t make everyone happy it’s not worth trying at all.  I also know that many Christians seem to think that following Jesus means living a stoic life devoid of any fun or happiness.  What if we lived with outrageous generosity that made people smile in amazement?  What if we served people with no strings attached?  I think it would open many doors of opportunity to share the love of Jesus!  What do you think?

Making a New Friend Overseas

I recently had the privilege of being introduced to a pastor named Gabriel Nsofwa in Kabwe, Zambia. Bobby Culpepper at Westwood Baptist Church told me I should get in touch with him and lend some encouragement and prayer. It’s been a blessing to communicate with Pastor Nsofwa over the last several weeks as he has shared what God is doing in Kabwe.  Pastor Nsofwa comes highly recommended by missionaries who spent many years in Zambia and served with him there.

I’m struck by the wonder of making a friend halfway around the world and the instant bond we shared because of our faith in Jesus.  Pastor Nsofwa is the pastor of Kabwe Central Baptist Church and is working hard to share the Gospel in Kabwe.  I hope you’ll join me in praying for Pastor Nsofwa, his wife Tricia, and their children.  You can also help to support Pastor Nsofwa and his church by contributing to their ministry with money and resources.  Here are a list of items that they need:

  • Evangecubes
  • Musical instruments
  • Clothes and shoes (second hand items in good shape are welcomed) for the poor and orphans in Kabwe
  • Bibles
  • Worship materials
  • Christian books
  • Laptop computer
  • Tracts
  • Copies of the Baptist Faith and Message
  • Video projector

Send me a message if you can help with any of these items.  I’ll gather the items and send them to Kabwe.  You can contribute to Kabwe Central Baptist Church securely through this widget:

http://widget.chipin.com/widget/id/316a94871afe2c25

Kabwe Central Baptist Church

Taking My Son to the SEC Championship Game

I got an incredible early Christmas present last Friday – two tickets to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. It was a whirlwind trying to make plans at the last minute. April was scheduled to work the day of the game and we couldn’t find anyone to keep the kids. After making some frantic calls, April was able to get off work but we had nowhere to leave the kids. I really wanted April to go. We talked it through and decided it would be a great chance for me and my son Bradley to spend some time together.

I have to admit that I didn’t anticipate what a challenge it would be to get a five year old to one of the biggest football games in the Southeast! I talked to a friend familiar with Atlanta who suggested I park north of town and take MARTA (Atlanta subway) to the Georgia Dome. Bradley couldn’t be more excited about that plan – he LOVES trains!! The idea was to avoid the congestion that would most like occur from everyone else boarding MARTA on the west side of town closer to Alabama.

We left the house at 8 am and stopped by Chik-Fil-A for a biscuit. That really got the day started off right!! It was a good trip to Atlanta. We got to see a nice snow dusting in Birmingham and along I-20. We rolled in to Atlanta about 3 hours later and made our way to the MARTA station.

It was frigid outside while we waited for the train! Bradley could hardly contain himself as we watched for the train to arrive. The train pulled up and we got on. After riding for a few minutes, Bradley turned to me and said, “Dad, this is the best day ever!” I nearly lost it!! I was so glad I decided to take him.

There were a lot of fans taking the train with lots of goodhearted cheering for both teams. The biggest challenge was holding on to a five year old in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people. Most folks were considerate, but it was hard to avoid Bradley when he only comes up to your waist! Most folks didn’t even know he was there!!

We got off at the Dome station and followed the crowd to the convention center where we grabbed a bite to eat for lunch and went to the SEC Fanfare event.

Bradley loved SEC Fanfare. There were games to play, prizes given away, football players to see, pep rallies to watch and popcorn to eat! The highlight was watching Bradley run an obstacle course for kids. He was probably the smallest kid there, but it didn’t slow him down a bit!



We headed to the Dome about an hour before kickoff and made our way to our seats. Bradley wanted to get a giant Bama hand and I picked up a program.

Our seats were great! We were only 15-20 rows away from the field and right behind the Alabama band. We had fun watching the game and experiencing the band so close!

Bradley stood on his seat for the entire first half and really got in to the game. The folks around us were great – they doted over Bradley the whole game! I looked over at one point and the lady next to Bradley had given him her bag of peanuts. He wolfed down the whole bagl!!

Bradley stayed focused on the game until halftime. We each got a hot dog for supper and watched the bands play. Bradley lost interest and want to play his DS. He kept one eye on the game while he played and I told him when something exciting was going on.

It was the most exciting game I’ve ever attended! The atmosphere was electric and the fans stayed in the game. The band played after every down and the Bama fans got more excited as the game ran its course.

After making sure that the game was secured for Alabama, we left with about 3 minutes to go. I wanted to hit the subway before the crowd. That’s when the real adventure began!

We didn’t have any trouble getting to the MARTA station near the Dome. We were outnumbered by Florida fans who left early. They all looked depressed and much quieter than before the game!! We transferred at the Five Points hub and I knew that we had to get on the north bound train. We got on the train, got a seat, and off we went.

I knew we had several stops to make, so I settled in and waited for them to call our station. I started getting nervous after the crowd thinned to just a few people on our train. A lady in front of us turned to talk to Bradley and we struck up a conversation. She and her husband lived in Atlanta and had been to the game.

After telling her where we got on MARTA, she frowned and said we were on the wrong train! There was one north bound train that left Five Points, but the line branched at Lindbergh station. One train went northeast and the other went northwest. We should have gotten off at Lindbergh station to get to our stop. Instead, we stayed on the wrong train until it reached the end of the line!

Another lady on the train told me that the only way back to Lindbergh station was to catch the south bound train, but it only ran every 20 minutes on Saturdays. We had just passed the south bound train, so it would be a while before we could catch it again.

We had to get off at Doraville whether we liked it or not. We got out on an the platform and were immediately hit with a blast of cold air. It was freezing out there and Bradley started to shiver. I knew we couldn’t stay out in the cold, so we went down to the lower level.

I saw a MARTA bus in front of the station that said “Lindbergh” on the front and I figured that was my best shot. We boarded the bus and started our long journey back to the station. We got an interesting tour of Atlanta at night!

We finally made it back to Lindbergh station and I went to the turnstile to use my pass. It was rejected! I finally figured out how to buy another one and we caught the correct train this time! We rode the train to Dunwoody station and I couldn’t be happier to be in the right place!

Then I lost my truck!1 There were two parking decks at the station and it took us a while to find where I had parked. Cold and tired, we finally got in the truck and headed back to Birmingham – an hour behind schedule.

A couple of bathroom breaks later, we were on I-20 and cruising toward home. Bradley was a trooper through the whole experience. I never let on that I was uptight and he though it was fun to get to ride a train AND a bus!

I had a chance to mull over the whole experience as Bradley nodded off to sleep. I was so grateful for the opportunity to go to the game. It was a once in a lifetime experience. But more importantly, I’m so grateful for my incredible wife and kids. It was such a privilege to spend time with my son.

I was also reminded what an awesome responsibility I have as a father. Bradley depended on me to guide him and protect him. I thought about how important it is that I guide my children through life while I have them.

As parents, we must take seriously our responsibility to teach our children the truths of God’s Word. We must take them by the hand and teach them how to live a godly life. We have to be an example for them as we face good experiences and bad. We must protect our children from danger until they are old enough to take care of themselves.

I thank God for the many blessings in my life! This game was insignificant compared to the spiritual events in my life, but it was more than just a game. It was a chance to teach my son and experience life together.

YouVersion Live

I continue to be amazed by the work being done by LifeChurch.tv that is building the kingdom of God!  They already supply wonderful resources to churches for free at Open, provide a free and easy to use online Bible, and now they’ve come up with an incredible communication tool for churches.  YouVersion Live lets churches publish an interactive page for mobile devices that you can use for worship services, bible studies, or any other event where you’d like to share information.  Here’s the description from the website:

YouVersion Live gives you a way to interact with church services and other live events using your mobile device. You can follow along with message outlines and take notes, read related Bible verses and click through to the expanded passage, vote on a poll and see the results live, ask questions anonymously, give, request prayer, and take it all home with you on your phone. It works with any web-enabled phone, as well as any computer with an internet connection.

With the widespread use of cell phones that can access the internet, I can easily see this as a viable tool for communication and interactivity.  I generated an event for our worship service this Sunday:

http://m.youversion.com/events/347
I can’t wait to find ways to use this incredible tool in our ministry!!