Thursday, July 24, 2008


We are packing up the Jeep and heading for Sandbridge Beach, VA for vacation. I just packed more weight in books than I will pack in clothes. Just need my swim suit.
The house has a pool and we are right on the beach. The name of the house is "As Good as It Gets." Now that's what I am talking about!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Camera

I bought a new camera - the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi. I feel like a manly man just typing the name of the camera. Anyway, it is a huge jump in technology for our family. We had one of the early digital cameras. It still worked but we began to notice that the picture wasn't as clear as it used to be. It was slower to take the next picture. There were just those little things that kept coming up that caused me to want to go get a new camera. Wow! What a camera. This thing takes clearer pictures than I could have imagined. It is a 10.1 mega pixel camera. That means it is rockin good!
As I thought about getting a new camera and what was happening with the old one, it made me think about the local church. It is so easy to get used to what we have always done. It has worked so well. We have great memories. But when we take a closer look, the way it used to work isn't the same as it is now. The quality isn't as good. The clarity of vision isn't as crisp. But we hold on to what we did because of the emotional attachment to it. (I have some of the most important pictures of my wife and kids that were taken by our old camera.)
We took our new camera to an outing in the mountains with some friends of ours. I took a ton of pictures (there is a feature that allows you to just keep taking pictures). I hooked the camera up to our computer and looked at the pictures. I was stunned! The clarity, the intensity were so awesome. We had a great day with our friends and I have the pictures to prove it. All of a sudden we have new memories. The camera didn't have anything to do with the great time we had - that is all about the people we were with that day, but the camera helped to capture it.
We don't do church the way most people in this region. We look very different to most people - from the way our building is designed to the way we create a total weekend worship package. We change things up to make sure that our vision is crystal clear to everyone who is connected to Charter Oak Church. We are developing and equipping people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. We will use technology, buildings, drama, etc but the real point is people - people who become more like Jesus.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Website Updated

The Charter Oak Church website has been re-vamped and updated with new information, pictures, and features. More pictures should be on the way in the future. More and more people tell me that they find Charter Oak Church through the web. Hopefully the changes will draw even more people. You can check it out here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Thoughts

This past weekend Pastor Dave continued his sermon series The Enemy Within by talking about bitterness. The total package of this weekend was phenomenal. Everything just clicked in together all building together to the message of letting go of the heavy weight of bitterness that people carry around with them every day.
We often do a funny drama to set the stage for the message. This weekend we did a very serious one that spoke about the bitterness in a marriage when someone has been unfaithful. At all of the worship services people didn't know whether to clap or not. It disturbed us - just what we needed to get our mind and heart focused on what God wanted to say.
I loved it when Pastor Dave said that forgiveness is available to everyone, God's grace is waiting with open arms to embrace you right where you are. Then he invited people to come forward and turn over all of their bitterness to God. Lives were changed for eternity this past weekend for sure. People dealt with junk that they have been nursing for a long time. They let it go so they could jump into the everlasting arms of Jesus and join God in His work.
If you are one of those people who didn't get out of your seat but you know that God was knocking on your heart to get rid of the bitterness, it isn't too late. Take the time right now, right where you are and turn it all over to God and ask for His healing. You will never be able to be all that God wants you to be until you let go of all of that weight taxing you.
If you are one of the people who did go forward, way to go!! That's so awesome. I want to challenge you to tell someone about the work that God did in you. Let your story help someone else have the opportunity to experience the grace and love of Jesus. God wants to redeem your pain by using it to display His power and mercy to someone who doesn't know Him or who has walked away from Him. Ask God to show you someone this week.
You belong to Jesus - He is all you need.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Celebrate Recovery

This past Friday we internally launched Celebrate Recovery at Charter Oak Church. What a great night! I am so excited about lives being changed for eternity as we journey together to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. Betsy Hunt has had a vision for bringing this ministry to Charter Oak Church and eventually to this region for over four years now. She gets the awesome privilege to partner with a great team of leaders led by Jeff Weneck to create a ministry that is Christ-centered. We are blessed to have gifted leaders like Betsy and Jeff to champion ministry at Charter Oak Church. If you are interested in more information you can show up on Friday nights at 6pm for a lite supper and then they kick off the ministry at 7pm.
All I can say is, way to go Betsy, Jeff, and the leadership team of Celebrate Recovery!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Book #14 - When Leadership and Discipleship Collide

I picked up a small book that is part of a leadership library that is being compiled by the big names in ministry. When Leadership and Discipleship Collide by Bill Hybels is a quick read that really gives an authentic revealing of the best and worst of decisions that Bill Hybels has made and comparing them to decisions that Jesus made. The last 10 pages really make the book worth while because it is Hybels saying what to do when leadership and discipleship collide, because they always do. The main point is, always choose discipleship.

Leadership Lessons from Track Camp

I have spent the last two evenings with my kids at track camp - it lasts all week long. I have watched how this camp has been run and I have learned some pretty good leadership lessons along the way. The camp is being run by the local college, Seton Hill University, track coach. He has brought about a dozen members of his team with him to help, both men and women.

The first thing I noticed was that the track coach wasn't actually coaching any of the kids. The members of his team are doing all of the instruction. The kids are broken down by age and each age group spends about 15-20 minutes at each track or field event.

The second thing I noticed was that each of the track team members that are assigned to the specific event corresponds to their own personal event. They are competing at the college level and therefore are specialists in discus, high jump, hurdles, long and triple jump, sprinting, and shot put. The sprinters are not teaching the shot put, but instead what they are very strong in.

The third thing I noticed was that the head coach just goes from event to event to encourage and to help the member of his team that is running the event. He is pouring into the leader of the event.

The four thing I noticed was that they gather all of the kids, maybe 100 kids, together at the beginning to tell them what they will be doing that night and any changes they are making from the previous night. No one wonders what they will be doing.

The fifth thing I noticed was they are building to the last night. There will be a competition night and the kids get to pick their three favorite events and then get to compete for ribbons. This is great because kids can begin to self-evaluate what they are good at or what they enjoy and then really work hard on those events because they know that a competition is coming up on Friday.

What I would have liked to have seen is the head coach bringing all the kids together at the end for a quick pep talk, see you tomorrow, and think about what events you will compete in on Friday. Just a little vision casting to finish off the night. I also would have liked to have seen the head coach notice the team members on their phone or texting and remind them to fully engage with the kids. Just a little reminder of why they are there in the first place.

All in all, I am very pleased with what is happening in the camp and my kids are loving it. Good stuff all the way around.

Book #13 - Leadership Gold

Just about every pastor knows the picture of the guy on the book to the left - it's John Maxwell. The very first conference I went to when I was new in the ministry was John Maxwell's The 21 Irresistible Laws of Leadership. I wasn't 30 yet, I was given the incredible responsibility of leading a church and I was scared. Thanks to John's teaching, writing, and encouragement I have been able to grow by leaps and bounds in my leadership.
While on the beaches of Jamaica I read John's latest book Leadership God: Lessons I've Learned from a Lifetime of Leading. I picked this book up on a recommendation from my friend Tom. When Tom speaks, I listen.
Leadership Gold is John Maxwell's collective wisdom of 40 years in ministry and leading organizations well. After reading this book I realized I need to go back and take one chapter a week and really go after what it is that John is teaching here. If these principles worked for him, I need to press in and listen to the Holy Spirit as it applies to me and my leadership. I don't ever want to stop learning and growing. John has been one of those people who has mentored me from afar throughout my career. This book is for all leaders.

Book #12 - The Irresistible Revolution

On the plane down to Jamaica I read Shane Claiborne's book, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. This is the first book the summer staff at Won by One to Jamaica is reading. This is not a book for Christians who are comfortable in their faith. This is a call to some radical changes in the way we live as followers of Jesus. It is very difficult to stay on the fringe after reading this book. Kelli is just finishing it and said last night as we walked that it might be the best book she has ever read. That's the biggest endorsement that could be given to a book in my opinion.
Shane has a new book out called Jesus for President. If you want to read about it, check out Pastor Mark's blog here.

Incredible Word of Love and Commitment

Yesterday the Lead Pastor at Granger Community Church posted a blog called "The Most Bang for Your Buck." I was blown away by his words of love and commitment to the people of his congregation. He had incredible courage to post these words and he sent these words to every member of their church. When we are in times of change and in times of uncertainity leaders step to the forefront and do what God has gifted them to do - LEAD. Mark Beeson is leading his congregation well.

I am so proud of the people of Charter Oak Church. In the month of June, a time when most churches see a huge downturn in attendance and giving, we have had our largest giving month of the year. Our attendance has grown. I know God is at work here in our lives as we seek to become more like Jesus. Way to go Charter Oak Church! Stay in tune with the prompting of the Holy Spirit - the best is yet to come!


Why does it seem like it takes the same amount of time to get caught up and re-engaged after vacation that you are gone? That's the way I feel. I think I have caught up on my emails, phone messages and meetings to get me to where I am supposed to be today. But at the same time I didn't post any blogs, I didn't read too many chapters in the books I am reading. I have learned that in order for me to be able to do all of those things and stay engaged with my family I have to give up certain things that I would otherwise be doing. I am willing to give up my blogging for a week to make sure I can go play soccer with my kids on Sunday night and take them to track camp last night. I am willing to read less so I can take a walk with Kelli. Re-engaging can take time, but I don't want to have to dis-engage from those who are most important to me in order to make that happen.

What about you? How do you protect yourself from dis-engaging when you are re-engaging after being gone on vacation?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back from Vacation

Kelli and I just returned from our week of vacation in Jamaica. Every year we go away together for a couple of days, just the two of us. But this is the first time we have been gone a week from our kids and the first time we have left the country for our time away. It was a great vacation. I think it was the first time I was ever out of the country on the fourth of July. It was strange not seeing fireworks and having everyone dressed in red, white, and blue. The people we saw down there had no idea what was happening back home.

It's good to be back. I have so much to do to get caught up. I hope to blog about the books I read, the stuff God dealt with me about, and what it means for me to be the new lead pastor at Charter Oak Church. It still seems strange to type that.

Please pray for me as I re-enter into life at work and home.