Sunday, December 06, 2009

Today at UHBC

Today I get to preach the riches of His great grace at University Heights in Huntsville. I can never forget what an honor it is to be called upon to deliver God's message to God's people. Pray that I will make much of The God Man Jesus today and that hearts will be opened and lives changed!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Greater Things at UHBC: The Step of Faith

We are going through a capital and spiritual emphasis at UHBC in Huntsville, TX, our home church. I have been impressed because it has been one of the best run campaigns I have ever seen. The problem is that it has brought me face to face with a problem I have been putting off for some time.

The answer is not simple but it is easy. I need to take a step of faith. The details of that step my be complex but the bottom line is easy: step out in faith.

So here I sit nice and scared. I am wondering what all God has in store for us over the next few days/weeks/years. Never have I needed more clarity and purpose than now. I may have divided "occupations" but there is no room for a divided heart.

Trying to remember which missionary it was but I am pretty sure it was William Carey who said "Expect great things from God ; attempt great things for God." Not bad advice right about now.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review: The Truth About You: Your Secret To Success, Marcus Buckingham

I love books that help me get better at anything, especially when they bring out a fresh new perspective that I need to hear. It also helps when they are presented in a way that helps to build the lesson into me rather than simply present the information. Such is Buckingham’s work.

The whole kit comes with a book, 110 pages, a DVD that is integral to working with the book and a follow on notepad to use over the next few weeks in carrying out the observations and action plans described in the book. The book is snappy and light reading. Each concept has a “here’s what you’ve heard, here’s what you really need to do” feel to it. Then it has the instructions on what to do. My suggestion: do what it says.

There are several salient points in the work. Each person who follows the action plans will likely be affected differently. For me it was the idea that I needed to abandon the idea of being a “well rounded person” and get comfortable with my strengths. Then, lead with my strengths and get paid for that knowledge, experience and effectiveness.

I have the fortune of working in both the corporate environment and in the church. The thought of applying an action plan to what I do at church is a little scary. I may need an action plan to implement my action plan. I rate this one worth your time, especially if you are looking for a fresh, simple and effective way to get off center and on track to the success you hope to pursue.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Teenagers Add Fun and Perspective

Call me crazy but (OK, you were a little too quick with that!), as I was saying, call me crazy but I love having teenagers around. Well, young adults too. We have three extra tonight and the house is full of life. Please understand that our house is typically full of life anyway, especially with our star entertainers Christa and Charissa. Add three more, two Davis kids and Jonathan's fiance Marissa and we have a super sized allotment of fun.

I came home with a few minor but not overwhelming burdens from the day. They quickly melted in laughter and hugs and joking. Not only was I having fun but I was getting a fresh dose of perspective. The other stuff of life just does not compare to this!

Feeling down, burdened or distracted? Go borrow a couple of extra teenagers (or young adults). There, now don't you feel better?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mistakes I Have Made: No Time For Rest

One of the problems I am trying to correct is a serious issue that I left undone for a long time. Specifically, I neglected this while I was Pastoring a church. I did not make time for rest. Since January I have been working on this. Recently I have taken time to go to the beach and to go on a Summer hunt in South Texas. The nicest thing about both of these is that I did not have to rush to get back in time to be at my home church. While I realize I had "job responsibilities" my actions still contributed to the unhelpful "more religious but not more spiritual" syndrome.

Another side effect of this was the burden it created in the rest of the schedule. Because so many things were done in rush mode with no margin I managed to teach my children to work that way as well. Many times I see their hastiness, impatience and failure to think things through and realize that I am quite likely the one who fostered that.

To my kids. Get off the "hurry" treadmill and enjoy the down times. Plan for them. Put margin in the schedule.

To my friends I want you to answer the question with me, "Did my schedule and lack of rest contribute to my health problems? (Stroke, seizures, blockage, lack of exercise and poor eating habits leading to obesity)

Pull out your calender and schedule rest. Hurry! Do it now!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Precious In The Sight Of The Lord...

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints." So say the words of Psalm 116:15. Tonight a dear Saint of God went home to be with the Lord. That Saint is my Aunt Hazel. I lost most contact with my paternal side of the family for many years. After being reunited to some extent (any distance from that point on was of my own doing) I came to greatly admire my Aunt Hazel.

In a family that had many problems she seemed to be a "burden bearer" who was there to carry the load. She took care of sisters and her Mother and all sorts of others who passed through her life. She was there as an encourager to me welcoming me back into contact with the family. I think she bore many burdens others never knew or knew of.

The point of this is not to tell how difficult she had it in life but what a joy she made it. To me she was always one with a kind word and a joyful spirit. So many thoughts are racing through my mind I cannot possibly put them to keyboard and screen. I hope that God will give me the maturity to be full of joy for the joy she now experiences. The one who I saw as a burden bearer is herself in the presence of the ultimate burden bearer and God of all comfort.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Choose Change

Two events have brought the idea of change to the forefront of my life again. The first of those is an event that many of you know about already. In early April as we were returning from vacation I began having pain in my chest and left arm. A couple of days later the cardiologist went in and cleaned out a 99% blockage in my right coronary artery installing a stent to help keep that area from being a problem again.

Medicinally I will likely be on Plavix and Lipitor for the rest of my life. I would love to quit taking those at some point but that may never happen. The whole event has pushed me to make a decision about living healthy.

Honestly this is a decision that should have been made years ago. The truth is I was selfish and undisciplined and allowed my weight to balloon and my body to deteriorate. That all caught up with me quickly. Funny that the procedure took only a few minutes but the lifestyle change to prevent it from happening again takes a lot more time and a lot more effort.

The plain truth is that if I do not change I will be back in bad health and perhaps even facing worse consequences. So far this change has gone well. I realized I cannot diet. My goal is not to lose weight but to change my lifestyle. It is a conscious and intentional change. I am choosing to change.

In my case that means I am eating right and exercising. I like to say I have divorced butter, broken up with sugar, quit seeing sugar and I am only spending limited time with salt and red meat. White processed breads are also being eliminated from the menu as much as possible. Fruit is in as are whole grains. More chicken and fish and olive oil are on the menu. I am not living austerely, just limiting what I eat that will contribute to high cholesterol of the unsavory sort. Interestingly, with many meals I just cut whatever I am served in half and that seems to really help.

Sometimes it is hard. Sometimes I want things I know I don’t need. Sometimes I don’t have full control over what is put in front of me or the choices I can make out of it. Nevertheless it is worth it. It has now been seven weeks and I have lost about 22 pounds. The first 16 came very easy; the last six are being ground out.

The other half of this equation is the exercise component. I have not perfected it yet but I am on the right path. I know I definitely feel better when I exercise. The biggest challenge is MAKING (not finding) time to do it. In addition to the lost weight I received my first round of blood work back last week. The numbers were fantastic!

For fellow strugglers I want to encourage (or scare) you with this. I saw some survey results that said 70% of people with a support group succeeded in changing their lifestyle by losing weight and exercising after a heart attack. On the opposite side 90% of people without a support group failed to change their life style. Let me say that again, 90% failed. Do not try to go it alone. I chose to change my life style and I chose not to go it alone.

Now, let’s go on to a second choice. My company is going through a change…a big change. We have finally eaten something we cannot digest without great change. That change will affect me. I have been in meetings for the last two days in Phoenix with a fantastic group of people who share the same role as I do in various locations in the Western half of this great land. All of us are in the same boat. Change will happen.

At the end of this two days I came away with a new resolve to pursue with greater vigor something I have already been chasing. The choice is simple. During a time of great change you can either wait to see what gets changed, or how you will be changed, or you can decide to be a part of the change. I am not naïve. I know that all the focus and energy in the world MIGHT NOT make a difference. In the end someone else can end up making major choices about me without my input. On the other hand I know that if I choose to change I will more than likely get more say in what happens to me. I choose to have a chance to be part of the change rather than a victim of it.

It is interesting how this kind of decision breeds great clarity of mind and purpose. I know what I need to do to have a seat at the table. If I don’t do anything I might get invited into the room or I might not. Now I know I will be in the room and I might have a place at the table. Choosing to change is a good thing.

I have seen many others in similar circumstances who seem to be paralyzed in fear. They are waiting for something to happen before they decide what to do. I say decide what to do and see what kind of things happen.

Perhaps I will eat these words but at least they are not a detriment to my cholesterol or my blood pressure or my waistline! I choose to change and I like it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Review: "The Noticer" by Andy Andrews

“Sometimes all a person needs is a little perspective.” That is the tagline on the cover of the book, The Noticer, by Andy Andrews and that is the core value of the books hero, Jones. The story is told from the perspective of Andy, a semi-fictional version of the author.

From the first chapter to the last I was completely captured with the story, something unusual for my own personality type. We first meet Andy as a twenty something homeless and hopeless man living under a seaside pier on the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama. “Jones”, a mysterious man who seems to appear at just the right time throughout the book comes to the crying young man’s rescue by befriending him and pushing him in the right direction of taking charge of his own future and life outcome.

Before you write this off as a fictional version of a “Christian help book” you need to know that the advice delivered could easily be found straight out of the Book of Proverbs. It is not the message of “take charge of your own destiny” as it is “use your head and do your part to cooperate in the life God has given you”.

While the story begins with Andy’s tale of the role Jones played in his own life change it quickly expands to the impact Jones has on many different lives he touches. The mysterious and eccentric man seems to show up at the most needed moment in everyone’s life. Here he saves a marriage, there he saves a life and then restores a purpose in life. He counsels young and old, the driven and the defeated. This book is worth the read and worth passing on.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Go Fish!

I finally decided that if I was going to be miserable I might as well do it somewhere fun while doing something fun. Despite feeling horrible favorite son Jonathan and I finished his Spring Break with a quick trip to Sabine Lake. We left Friday afternoon and drove to Orange, TX where we checked into a $69.00 Econolodge. Surprisingly, the room was nicer than the Wyndham Hotel in San Antonio we stayed in just a few months ago which, as I recall, was somewhere in the $200 range. I'm not cheap, just frugal. BTW, we chose the Econolodge because the Holiday Inn Express across the street was $120 a night. I'm not cheap, just frugal.

We put in at River Rat Marina. This place is so hard to find even another guide who was putting in there didn't know it was called that! It's really just a boat ramp in a boatyard but it serves it's purpose. The only bad experience of the day happened here when we got out of the car and were immediately swarmed by mosquitoes the size of Volkswagons. After beating off the vermin we met up with our Guide, Captain Adam Jaynes who goes by the handle of Just Fish Guide Service. You can reach him at 409.988.3901 A trip for two without a firm quit'n time will set you back $450.00. In my book that's about right. I've been out with guides before who charged the same and were looking at their watch to make sure they did not get a minute over their promised trip time. I'm not cheap, just frugal so for all of you cheapskates don't forget that if your Guide puts you on the fish you dig a little deeper for a tip.

Adam earned his tip. The last time I fished with a Guide this young I had a bad experience. This trip changed that completely. If I spotted him a couple of years he might be 25. What he lacked in years he made up for in know how. Within a couple of minutes we were in the river and on our way to the Lake in his 22 foot Blazer Bay center console. God provided a beautiful sunrise for a great start.

We heard of a couple of Guides who had fished the day before and brought back a pretty light catch. We were hoping to do better and we did. I have fished by chasing birds before but never like this. Usually we would look for birds feeding then go there and fish. If the fish are also feeding aggressively that will usually be a pretty hot spot for a while. Well, the birds were feeding aggressively but the fish were not. We would move into a spot, catch a couple of fish and it would go dead. Adam wasn't daunted. When the fish quit biting we got moving.

The really fun part was the pattern that developed. We would spot birds (Ok, Adam would spot birds!). We would move there. We would start catching fish. Other boats would see our bent rods and soon we would have two or three boats full of Chorpus Christi fishermen trying to hog their way into our prosperity. Adam would just shake his head, laugh and move.

The only thing better than catching fish is catching fish when other people aren't. We caught fish. I don't know how many we caught altogether but as far as the keep, batter and fry variety we brought home 17 speckled trout and three nice redfish. On a side note we never caught a single trash fish all day. Thanks to some excellent choices in regard to plastics we spent the day hauling in specs and reds.

Now for the additional fun. First, I have never lost a Guide before but there is a first time for everything. At one point Adam went to pull the trolling motor in and the rope broke. Into the drink went one red faced Guide! The trip never got boring because when weren't hauling in fish we were laughing at our slowly drying out Guide. Fishing and a show!

Back at the boat ramp a couple of other boats came in while Adam was cleaning fish. They would pull up, look at the fish, congratulate us, walk away muttering, pull their boats out and go home. All in all Adam provided us with one fine trip!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This Ought To Get Interesting...

Scientist have found, or at least think they have found, three "God Spots" in the brain. Read about it,2933,507605,00.html.

In a Capitol One commercial voice, "What's in your God Spot?"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Thought About Missional

Perhaps the difference from just "being in the world" and missional living is intentionality. I think many times we practice the being in the world part but for get the clarifier "but not of the world". "World" of course stands for something a little deeper than the big blue planet we live on. It is mindset, a way of living, a philosophy of life and actions that bear out that philosophy.

I am thinking that true missional living is best defined by Jesus' command for us to "let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).

How do we let our light shine? May I suggest it is as simple as imitating Jesus? I know we are supposed to live like this always but the truth is we don't. How about a three day challenge? Would you be willing to yield to His Spirit and make the attempt to live like Jesus, let you light shine in the world while not being of the world for three straight days? Would you intentionally live like Jesus for the next three days? I suggest we try an hourly "check-in" with the Father to see how we are doing.

You let me know how it goes with you. I'll let you know how it goes with me.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Page Well Turned

Yesterday morning Robin and the girls and I joined University Heights Baptist Church in Huntsville. This is the church that we called home for several years until we went to Pastor Dacus in 2000. We served at Dacus until the end of January this year and have been seeking the Lord's next move for us.

Coming "home" to UHBC was a wonderful experience. While we love our old church family at Dacus we have greatly missed our friends at UHBC. It has felt very funny living in one town but being oriented toward another. Please understand I am not complaining but it is always tough to intentionally leave friends to go to a new place. Now we have managed to do it twice, leaving UHBC for Dacus and then leaving Dacus for UHBC.

One of the most difficult aspects of this has been the eight and a half years that my best friend (next to Robin) and I have been in a holding pattern. We were both working two jobs and going to different churches. Yesterday they came over after church and we cooked backstrap, ate, played and just generally enjoyed hanging out. I know it may sound silly but it was a tremendously contentful day.

Later this week Robin and I will be going to TURBO, a church planting training session done by Bob Roberts church in Keller. Please pray for us as we continue to look for the path God has for us. Several conversations have taken place in the last week that have us excited about the near future.

To our friends and "family" at Dacus we love you and you will never know quite how much it meant to me to be your Pastor. To our friends at UHBC we are so glad and so blessed to be back with you.

All in all it feels like we have turned a new page to a new chapter and it seems to be a page well turned. I like the sound of that.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chuck Fixes Economy, Film at 11

What really scares me about both Congress and the President Obamistration is not just what they will do but the reasoning they take to get there. Pass the Prozac because every time I hear one of our vaunted representatives speak I instinctively reach for my wallet with one hand and grab hold of something to help stabilize myself for the epileptic seizure that I am about to have. (Yes, I understand Prozac is not for epilepsy, that's why I take Lamictal and Keppra. I just figure the additional chaser could not hurt.)

With that in mind here are three things that could be done right now in hopes of "stimulating the economy" that would be vastly better than what I have heard so far. So, let's make me emperor for a day and here I go.

First, stop pouring money into companies and pour it into the people. They will in turn pour it into the economy. How could this be done? Let's try this. Americans are sitting on boatloads (used to be shiploads) of money in IRA's, 401k's and other retirement plans. Let's let people withdraw tax free an amount equal to the taxes they paid last year. But that's not fair to the poor you say. The "poor" did not really pay into the tax system anyway. We would be giving back to those who have. They would in turn pour that money back into the economy. Even if they did not spend it they would be depositing it in banks and other financial institutions who need more capital. Seems to me that would be a good idea since the first thing we did was to...give financial institutions more capital!

Two things might be seen as wrong with this part of the plan. The first would be those who whine that this would decrease the assets of the government. Hmmm. The government is in debt not because it takes in too little in taxes but because the geniuses in Congress spend too much. Let's ask two different former presidents what happens when taxes are lower and people have more money to spend: John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan both proved that lower taxes mean more revenue for the government. The key is stopping Congress' insatiable appetite for spending. The second objection would be that this would decrease Americans assets for retirement and create another potential future disaster. True, this is a risk we would take. My point is that given the more disastrous courses we are about to take on this future risk is much more palatable.

Economic stimulus: problem solved.

Now to save the huge companies that are in danger of failing. The reality is that government funds are going to be used for this. While that is a bad idea why don't we at least look for the right way to do it. Let's deal with the Big 3 automakers first. Ford, Chrysler and GM are in trouble for two reasons: people, for whatever reason, like Toyotas, Nissans and BMW's better and the American companies have the built in "legacy cost" of pension plans and health insurance for retired workers. The actual cost to make the vehicles is really the same. Nissan manufactures trucks in Smyrna, TN at the same basic cost that Detroit does. Right now we are bailing out the companies with the peoples money. My plan is to bail out the people instead. Let's let the government take over these lopsided pension plans and honor those obligations. It would be a decreasing obligation for the taxpayers as the retirees will not live forever. Meanwhile, without the legacy costs the Big 3 should be more competitive. This will, in effect, give these 3 a chance to "reboot". No more pie in the sky pension benefits. Set up a nice 401k and decent health and dental and let's roll! Roll out competitive cars that is. If we are going to "save" these companies let's do it to the benefit of the workers, with a decreasing cost to the public and in a way that forces the Big 3 to either get in the game or fold.

The financial mess: since I work in that industry I am limited in my ability to comment. I will stick with this: people need to go to jail. By the way, the "evil" Executives at these companies should be last in the perp line. The front belongs to those who love being in front of the cameras so much. That's right, let's fill jail cells with the Congressmen who were supposed to be overseeing Fannie and Freddie in the first place. Hint: if you do not know who the suspects are just turn on the news. The people bloviating the loudest about going after Wall Street are the same crowd that was asleep at the wheel in the first place.

Now to my third item which will unfortunately fall on deaf ears. I would implement a new tax system. This is very complicated so pay attention. Ten percent: if it is good enough for God it is good enough for the government. The whine and cheese crowd won't like this. I can hear the refrain, "But we would not have enough money to pay for our existing programs!" Exactly! Here's an idea: cut programs. Goodness! How evil I must be to suggest that bridges to nowhere, studying the sex habits of Japanese quail and (you can't make this stuff up) millions of dollars for sex education as part of the economic stimulus package should cut!

There, I have just done a better job of fixing the country than the foolhardy flock of failures in D.C. I hereby resign. I suggest I be replaced by Larry, Curly and Mo. Surely three stooges would be better than the 636 we have now. (House, Senate and President)

Now if I could just fix myself!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The troubled economy hits a little closer to home when the layoffs affect those who are close tou you. I ask you to pray for those who are experiencing difficulties right now. Ten of my coworkers experienced this last Friday. Three in particular are especially hurtful to me as they have small children at home and with so many companies in the financial services industry laying off, restructuring and downsizing job prospects are not what they normally are.

We serve a great King and so far the friends I have talked to remain positive. A little dose of that positivity could do us good. Perhaps today would be a day to remember that even with the crushing losses in the stock market the situation in our economy is not near as bad as it has been before. Specifically I want to discourage us from thinking this is the worst economy we have seen or comparing this to the great depression or even the debacles of the early and late 1970's.

We have just recently moved to unemployment rates that are significantly higher than the historical average. Remember that we have had much higher rates many times in our past. In the great depression unemployment hit somewhere above 25%!

Let's pause to remember that we are still a nation of abundant blessings and our God will see His people through these times. Blessings today.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Clean Out The Garage!

I am infamous for my somewhat cluttered garage. Ok. The truth is my garage was declared an EPA Superfund cleanup site several years ago. I have recently decided to clean in based on the following story.

It seems an elderly Doctor passed away and his family found a $4.3 million dollar 1937 Bugatti race car in the garage. While I am pretty sure I would remember if I had parked one of those in my garage I think I will clean it out anyway just in case. I then plan to move on to the garages of my richest relatives.

One problem. My richest relatives are people that Jeff Foxworthy talks about. When my richest relatives got a new house I went over to help take the wheels off. I just might be a redneck!

Living "Like"Jesus?

I read a story about a Pastor who decided to "live like Jesus" for a year. I admire the devotion and I definitely think this would be a wake up call for any of us who tried this.

Still, I have two thoughts. One, don't I already have enough things to do to be living like Jesus without adding Jewish dietary laws? Second, he decided to vote for Barack Obama because he felt he was most like Christ. Maybe he should have followed the "letter of the law" in being like Jesus: Jesus did not vote.

What do you think?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome 2009

I guess I am glad 2008 has finally come to an end. There were some exciting changes for us but also a few really big bummers.

The biggest change came in the area of my work. I am now the Market Sales Manager for Houston. It sounds a lot more impressive than it really is but it is definitely a step in the right direction. I am really enjoying leading others and coaching them toward success.

Robin's ministry is going well. I even get to get in on the fun with a cruise in April where we will do a "He Says, She Says" marriage session!

Several sad moments happenned along the way. We lost Robin's Grandmother Strickland and her Uncle Junior Mize. I delivered my resignation at Dacus Church early in December and we will be leaving at the end of January. A volatile and down stock market along the way did not help though it pales in comparison to the other events.

Fun was had with trips to Gulf Shores AL and San Antonio/New Braunfels. Not quite the Yellowstone and Florida trips of last year but fun nevertheless.

2009 looks like sunrise right now. Between my new role at the firm and a new ministry venture there is a fearful excitement. The prospect of a transfer for Jonathan to University of Mobile also exists.

We never know what is around the corner but we do know we serve a God who is faithful and has been there before.

Blessings to all!