Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You First

Tonight I'm preaching.
We live in a world that constantly preaches "me first" don't we? And yet our leader is the one of whom it was said "Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion."
Why is it so hard to be a "you first" kind of person? Really, what are we afraid of?
I know I'm afraid that I won't get what I want. You too?
I want to trust Jesus more -- that he will give me all I need, which is really what I want.
I should trust him easily -- he proved it on the cross.
I want to prove it, too. But for me, that proof happens with my wife, my kids, my coworkers - and even my neighbors.
Who can you say "you first" to today?

Go! Toledo

What a great group of guys -- pastors from in and around Toledo. This morning, sitting around the table at Bob Evans were Brad, Bill, Josh, Josh, Mark, Charles and Keith. All interested in serving the people of Toledo, Ohio.
Here's the deal: altho most of us are "Suburban dudes", we want to use our positions to bless our neighbors in Toledo. We represent churches from all different denominations and styles and we're working together!
Here's what we're afraid of: being the cavalry that rides in on a white horse, impresses the neighborhood, and then run off into a cloud of dust. We don't want to do that. We want to "move into the neighborhood" the best way we can. We want to be in for the long haul. To encourage, love, work together, laugh together, cry together and learn together! Instead of the cavalry, we represent the cross of Calvary! It was Jesus first, who "moved into the neighborhood" -- I'm so glad he did!
I look forward to GOing into Toledo. Pray for us!

Monday, February 26, 2007

GO 3-18

So, here's my friend Jon.
He's passionate about GOing and GOes like none I've ever seen!
Jon has led a couple of groups for me, to Pass Christian, and Gulfport - he's done an amazing job! Always organized and extremely upbeat even when times were tough.
Jon was GOing before Going was cool. Even before there was a GO Factor, Jon was busy helping the hurting wherever he could find them. In many ways, Jon keeps me GOing.
Oh, the above picture is when Jon met me at his new house in Tennessee. He insisted that nothing had changed just because he had moved south.
Here's the cool thing: Jon 'bleeds' the GO Factor. He doesn't have to think "hmmm, what can I do next" - he just does it. It's natural. He's always on the GO. He gravitates towards people with need, and then, he does everything in his power to change their life. Jon, always goes the extra mile! Whether it's helping the hurting, or making someone laugh -- he's ALL IN!
Why? Because Jesus changed his life. That's his motivation -- and it's a good one!
Way to GO, Jon!

Return to Pass Christian

Well, I've gone and done it.
I've scheduled another trip. So, Sunday, March 11 we'll leave and drive to Pass Christian, MS. We'll work Monday through Thursday, and then begin the drive home.
We'll take ten of us, and we'll do knockdown and paint the house above. A little trim work and some flooring and then MOVING TIME!
There's another house that we'll get to hang drywall in, so we've got that going for us!
So, pray for us! And if you'd like to join us -- holler soon before the slots are filled!

I'm Back

Well, I spent an amazing week with three good friends at one of my favorite spots on the planet.
Cathy, Jamie and Paul joined me for the small groups conference at Saddleback Church. Wow - they really challenged us, and we came home with what we hoped to discover, a way to organize our small groups and grow them and keep on track TOGETHER. We're excited about the possibilities.
We stayed on Laguna Beach, and each morning I enjoyed a jog through that quaint little town. It was perfect -- still being on Michigan time, I was out jogging by 5:30am each morning. The last day I jogged the beach and saw dolphins - how cool!
So anyway, we're back and ready to get things happening small group wise.
While there, I worked with our artist Meren, and built the new shell for the GO handbook. It's at print now, so soon we will have our fantastic handbook that will help us all GO forward!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Just a conversation...

Wow, what a weekend!

Afshin Ziafat ( spoke as part of our weekend series dealing with the major faith systems that surround the cross, the star and the crescent. Afshin told his story of growing up Muslim and turning to Christ.
Well, when he was young, he (being from Iran) spoke only Persian. That may be fine if you live in Iran, but Afshin lived in Texas. There was this lady, an American, who met with him in order to teach him English. Over time, she gained his trust and offered him a Bible.
10 years later, he read it and put his faith in Jesus. And then, there's a whole lot more of the story (but that is not my point here, so you better just buy the DVD!)
Here's the point. The lady. She met with him (he was only a child) and loved him enough to care for his need (learning English) and ended up giving him a whole lot more!
We had two organizations who joined our GO factor initiative today.
1- American School for Women and Children ( - and they offer English classes to immigrant women.
2- American Language Institute ( - which offers conversation partners to students at the University of Toledo, who are from other countries and who are learning English.
Both of these organizations have found a huge opportunity to minister to people from the Middle East!
Sometimes it only starts with a conversation.
Teaching English to someone might not seem all that wild and crazy. But your love for people can become very real -- just by making conversation!
Go for it!

Thursday, February 15, 2007



One hour of cross-country skiing, plus the storm of the century in Southeastern Michigan, plus single digit temperatures equals sweatcicles!


But what a fun night!

Monday, February 12, 2007


So, I have a friend.

Really. His name is Bill and he's on staff at CedarCreek church in Perrysburg, Ohio.

And, there are two strange things about him.
First, he doesn't really like coffee. I'm so shallow, that that would normally mean I'd never want to hang out with the person again.

And the second wierd thing is - he doesn't wear his own shirt.

Bill is different.

He's a world changer. An "I don't care who get's the credit" world changer. And that's the best kind.

He told me once that he loves to help his church connect with other churches and organizations that are doing "world changing" stuff, and help support what they're doing.

And here's the coolest part: when he and his church people help another church do something cool, he has his people wear shirts from the other peoples church. Did that make sense?

Let me try again. His CedarCreek gang don't wear CedarCreek shirts when they help another church. Instead, they wear shirts that promote the church they are helping.

It's his way of saying "I'm all about the Kingdom!"

Right on!


So my friend, Ron Kopicko (which coincidently, rhymes with a restaurant Mary and I used to go to, back in our seminary days near Lexington, Kentucky... Taco Tico)
... where was I?

Oh yeah, Ron Kopicko gave a great challenge last week at a Pastors Conference I attended. The problem, as he put it, is this: we skew the object of our worship. We make the object of our worship our "experience" of Jesus, rather than Jesus himself. Have you ever sang a song in church, and afterward remarked "now, that's good worship"? I have. And usually, what I mean is "I liked that song", or "that song made me feel good..." and Ron is right.

So, I was thinking about the blessing that I receive when I go and do something "world-changing" in the name of Jesus. It's odd how I always feel like I've received more than I've given. I wonder if I promise the wrong things to people: "Hey, if you GO in the name of Jesus, you'll sure get a lot in return..."
I hope I don't promise the wrong things!
Here's the deal: It's good enough just doing something for Jesus, even if it's difficult and tiring and doesn't particularly pay you back. It's good, because He's good.
"Master, what are you talking about? when did we ever see you hungry and feed you [tacos?], thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?" Then the King will say, "I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me -- you did it to me".
Yay for Ron! Yay for Taco's! and Yay for Jesus!

Changing the World

I was thinking about changing the world. And when I think about that, my head hurts. I mean, where do I start? Certainly, there are lot's of things good about our planet and it's people, but there are many things bad, too.
So, here's the deal: I change the world by impacting one person. Find their need, meet it in the name of Jesus. Boom -- I've changed the world.
Yep. Maybe not the whole world -- but their world. And that's what matters. One need, one person, one world at a time.
Titus 3:8 says "I want you to insist [on these things] so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone."
That means -- when you do something good for someone else, it's good for them. It changes their world.
But it means that it's good for you too. It'll change your world, too -- for the better.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith - dead at 39

Well, that was wierd. When I heard on the news that Anna Nicole Smith had died, I felt bad. It's always sad when someone dies a premature death, but I didn't expect to really care.
Not that I've followed her in the news -- she seemed to be everywhere - and always pathetic.
A sad life with a sad ending. Now, my goal here is not to bash Anna Nicole - for I feel badly for everyone in her 'circle'. It's all just...sad.
But the learning for me is this: this is the natural end when life is all about 'me'. When the goal in life is to be famous, big, important, wanted, needed, happy, or fulfilled -- that life will lean towards the pathetic. Sad, frustrated and selfish.
I'm convinced that 'giving' is the better way.
Now, I'm no porn star or billionaire and I'm not famous -- but I recognize the tendancies within that make me want to be 'about me'. And I think 'giving' is the way out!
Today: give. Something, somehow -- give. Try it!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Winning the Battle

So, I learned something.
You may have heard the axiom "idle hands are the devils playground". It's true!
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 "...we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle..." Warn agains what?
If you don't intentionalize (I made that word up!) your time, someone will do it for you -- and guess who that often is? The devil! Sure -- he'll fill up your time with meaningless talk, activities or even (dare I say it?) - sin! To the hungry person, any food (even canned peas) looks tasty! To the bored person, anything looks fulfilling and fun.
After coming home from a week in Mississippi, I realized that for a week or so, I hadn't felt the usual temptations that come along with life. And I figured it out: I just didn't have time to sin.
Oh, we could easily fill up our time with anything -- but I don't think that's good enough. That anything could easily become something that pulls us away from God and those we love.
Instead - what about intentionally filling our time with that which we know is honoring to God?
Hmmm, I think that's a good start.
Sitting around, allowing "boredom" is just asking for trouble, isn't it? Killing time by clicking through the channels or surfing the web -- really, where will that lead?
Never have I gone to bed at night saying "Wow, what a productive 2 hours of t.v. I just had, I sure feel good about myself." But whenever I'm busy doing God-honoring tasks, I feel a sense of God's blessing - without the guilt that so often trails behind "time wasters".
So, what can I do today -- for someone else? How can I help someone who's down on their luck? What kind of encouragement might I offer?
And how about you?
Life's too short to waste it and then feel guilty.
Intentionalize dude.

Monday, February 5, 2007

ZERO and Below!

Wow is it cold! I was very proud of the CrossRoads Community yesterday - who turned out in droves (what is a drove, anyway?) for our weekend program. A less committed bunch would have used the icey air as an excuse to sleep in or... go to a movie or something. Glenn did an amazing job communicating the heart of the Muslim faith -- everyone searches for God! I'm thankful for Jesus, the way to know God! Glenn's interview with Stevie Beal made it clear that Jesus is with us now -- yay God!

During second service, I got pulled out of my front row seat because "There is a man in the concourse who needs to see a pastor - now!"

So I meet with this veteran guy who spent the night before in his friends garage - because he's got no where else to go. Except his son's apartment. That's humbling for sure, but I think he'll do the right thing and hang out with family for awhile.

I told him that Cherry Street Mission serves meals -- CrossRoads has helped before -- and their meals are good!

I admire those volunteers who serve the burger with a smile, or who sit and talk with someone who is severely under-resourced and treat them with respect.

When you serve the homeless and hungry, you probably won't receive a commendation or reward, a trophy or be on a highlight reel -- but I hope you'll feel the warm smile of God who said "whatever you've done for the least of these, you've done for me."

Rise and Shine!

Saturday, February 3, 2007


Jim Moline, of Moline Builders brought his framing team down with us to Pass Christian, MS.

Jim - your guys worked their tails off!

You made us laugh!


Oh, this is one of two homes we built a couple of weeks ago, while in Pass Christian, MS.
Thanks so much to Jim Moline and his crew - who were the backbone of the trip.
Pictured with us is the family, right before they went in and saw their home for the first time. You should have heard the kids, screaming with delight things like "This is my room!"
Tears flowed freely. What a blast!

Go Factor - the quiet days...shhhhhh

So, these are the quiet days for the Go Factor.
The Go Expo is but a memory.
The 20 of us who went to Pass Christian, MS and built 2 houses in one week, are back home and "in the norm"...
Habitat for Humanity is still a few weeks off, and so is Haiti and India, and other "Focus" events that we oversee.
Now, it's the building stage.
Look soon for an online version of our handbook (see
Right now, we must get all the details together.
You'll notice 3 things:
  • Focus Events (things that the whole church focusses on together)
  • Partners (groups in and around the Toledo/Southern Michigan area with a CrossRoads Liaison) and
  • Friends (other amazing organizations that we have yet to establish an ongoing relationship with).

And then, call the representative or Liaison and find how you can plug in!

Here's the cool thing: Go Factor events are not limited to CrossRoads people. If you want to help change the world -- then I hope we can help you do that!

Go Expo

We had a great meeting this morning, thanks to a Bavarian Cream donut (thanks Eric!) and some Tim Horton's coffee.
Wow, am I blessed with an amazing team.
Two weeks ago, we hosted an amazing day at CrossRoads, called "The GO Expo" and had 22 organizations from around Toledo, Southeast Michigan, and around the world host tables. We dismissed from church early (not as early as I meant to!) in order to give our people time to talk with the different representatives. There were 12 groups in the Auditorium and 10 in the Concourse. We also had 4000 TimBits (thanks Tim Hortons for the delivery!)
Wow -- the people (way to go, CrossRoads!) hung around and talked and signed up! Every host had at least one new volunteer join them in their quest to make this world a better place.
I love this new initiative -- we don't just say "Hey, get out there and change the world!", but we say "I'll help you change the world!" How cool is that?
So, Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, Katrina Relief, Somerset Beach Campground, International Childcare, Haitians in Florida, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Love, Inc. and many many more all have new CrossRoads volunteers. Thanks people! Let's change the world!
What a great leadership team we have at CrossRoads -- beginning with our lead Pastor - Glenn Teal -- You dudes and dudettes ROCK! Thanks for making this possible!

First Post

So, I lead this ministy at my church called "The Go Factor" -- it's all about getting outside of the church walls -- "going!" and serving the hurting and hopeless. It's all about making this world a better place.
And...I have this foundation, called "The S.H.I.N.E. Foundation", that stands for "Serving Happiness In the NEighborhood". This too, is all about helping those less fortunate -- and linking those who'd like to "donate" and those who'd like to "do".
You put those two things together, and you have this new Blog -- Rise and Shine!
In the days to come, you'll join me (I hope!) in celebrating some amazing volunteers and remembering again why we GO.
There is no adventure like it!