The BEST job X2

I have had many jobs in my life. Some I’ve enjoyed tremendously to the point it was hard to leave. Some not so much. I’ve worked at KMart during my first summer working and at Walmart in the toy department DURING CHRISTMAS. I’ve made burgers and fries at a McDonalds (2 months was all that I could do here…) and I’ve cut more lawns of grass than I could count. I’ve built roof trusses for homes and I’ve been an order puller in a warehouse.
Following some college classes, I found my career path taking me to work for an architect and then later for 3 mechanical engineers and 2 mechanical contractors doing one thing that I have loved to do for as long as I can remember, draw. Now I get to draw every day all day using computer programs to create engineering designs, and I get paid to do this. How crazy is that?
That being said, money isn’t everything. Sure it pays the bills and sure I love to draw, but my desire and passion in life is to make a difference in the life of someone else. My regular job now doesn’t give me that opportunity. Sure I make a difference in the design of multi million dollar facilities and I definitely make a difference in the bottom line of my company but where is the satisfaction in that?
I am incredibly blessed to have 2 other jobs that aren’t really jobs at all. They are jobs in name only because they both bring me GREAT satisfaction as they make a difference in the lives of those around me.
I am so blessed to be the youth pastor at Sewell Mill Baptist Church. Sure there are bigger churches with larger youth groups with praise bands, lights and massive sound systems. I wouldn’t trade my kids for 10 of those groups. How many youth pastors of those groups can ride a bus to a corn maze with 5 youth, and have them cling to you during the event? How many get to laugh and cut up with middle school youth singing Taylor Swift songs at the top of their lungs? How many of those youth pastors actually know what is going on in the lives of their families? I have a group so close that I know when one is out. I know when one of my youth is hurting. Steph and I are able to connect with them, and their families, on a close, personal level.
As amazing as that job is, it doesn’t even come close to my favorite job. I am so blessed to be Stephanie’s husband. With that, comes many jobs, all of which I love more and more every day. I’m her protector, her mechanic, her spider killer, clown preventer, taste tester, and grocery “getter.” Each morning I’m her Starbucks barista and at night, I’m the one she watches the Voice and Castle with. Not only do we share our lives together, we share our hopes, our hurts, our dreams and our passions. With all that we have going on, we also do ministry together. She is my eyes when I can’t see the forest for all the trees in the way. She is my spell checker, message reader, and fact checker (especially when I say Alabama is 2 states away or that Eve at of the wrong tree). She does all this even when it comes at a physical cost. (Right now she is dealing with a knee that she hurt during a youth outing this past weekend.)
If I tried, all day, every day for the rest of my life, I would never be able to thank her for all that she does for me.
Thank you!

Dear God,
Thank you for the blessings of opportunities in my life. You have given us the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our youth and their families. You have given me someone who shares in this ministry and wants to use the talents that You have given her in ministry to make that difference. You are surrounding us both with people in ministry who will help us and pray for us as we follow the path that you have for us. Thank you for the best 2 jobs that I have had in my life.



Advantages of a Small Church

I just hung up the phone with a close friend of mine. The sound of his voice was heartbreaking. For the past few months he had been dealing with health issues of his own and others have had to care for him. Now he was facing serious health issues with his mom. Her kidneys were starting to fail and with her condition and age, he was confident that she would not be open to the idea of dialysis.

It would only be a matter of time before my close friend and one of my mentors in life would lose his mom. In a short period of time, she would be as he put it,  in a much better place. That is probably the only good thing about this entire situation but it wont erase the heartache of losing a parent.

I cannot imagine what he is going through. The pain of losing one that you had been close to, who had cared for you, who had loved you unconditionally throughout your entire life, would be almost too much to bear alone.

Thankfully, we are not alone. Christ and the Holy Spirit living in us and working through others gives us hope. They are our comforter in the storms of life. They will bring others around us to love on us during these times.

So, me being the fixer that I am, asked a question that I was shocked to hear the answer to. I asked a simple question of had he let those, who I am also friends with, at his church know about his situation. (My friend goes to a very large church that I once attended when it was much smaller. ) The sound of his voice, his answer, just broke my heart. He had let his church know about his own health issues and had not gotten a response. Why would he tell them about this? He went on to explain that this was one of the drawbacks to being part of a large church. Don’t get me wrong, he goes to a great church with a very successful pastor and staff but is this an acceptable response?

Seriously? Have churches gotten so large that they have become more concerned about the next program, the budget, staff meetings, etc. and have lost their ability to see who in their flock is hurting? This is a HUGE failure. Yes my friend is wrong for not letting them know and yes he is wrong for holding a grudge but are we to believe that for one minute that a church of any size, cannot minister to its member at a time of grief and loss?

I grew up in a small church. I was baptized at a church that I don’t remember it ever having an attendance of over 200. Later, I went to another small church that rarely ever runs over 100. That’s not a bad thing you see as everyone there, is family. Everyone there knows when someone is hurting, or grieving over a loss. Each time we go home and visit this church, people there know us, love us, and greet us by name. Sure they don’t have the light show, the movies to go along with the sermon or some of the other resources that large churches have. They don’t have an orchestra or even a praise band. They have something that a large church may be missing. A sense of belonging to something bigger than they are and a ministry of caring for those around them.

I love my church. I love my church not because I am staff there but because my church loves me and Stephanie. When a parent comes up to you and says “we are so glad you are here and what you are doing” that shows me that they care about us, even when I don’t teach their kids. We are noticed.

The next time that you are with your church family, regardless of your church size, look around. Notice who isn’t there. Write their name down. Call them. Don’t email them or send them a message on Facebook, but call them. Let them know they were missed. Check on them. Make sure life hasn’t kicked them in the teeth.

Be Christ to them.

‘After all, when life gets us down, we want someone to do that for us, right?

Dear God,

Thank you for my church family. They love us unconditionally. They minister to us, pray for us, and notice us. Help us to know when those around us are hurting and need someone just to come along beside them and let them know that someone cares. Help us to be the Light of Christ to a hurting world. Help me to notice others.


What I’ve learned

This Sunday will be a milestone for me. This Sunday I will have been on staff at Sewell Mill Baptist Church as Youth Pastor for 2 months. It seems like it was only yesterday that I sent an email to a great friend of mine asking if she could help me with making connections in youth ministry. It feels like I just had my first lunch with another local pastor about his youth ministry followed by lunch after church the following Sunday with my current pastor.

The interview process took weeks on paper. Those weeks seemed like just a few days. In that short amount of time, we got to know and got close to an amazing group of youth. It wasn’t the size that I had been used to at LMBC or PSBC. Those groups were much larger. This group is so much closer. In my years volunteering in youth ministry at LMBC, I wasn’t able to be as close to every kid in the youth group as I am now. In my time at PSBC, I couldn’t possibly have known the name of every youth. Here I not only know their name, but I have met and know each of their parents as well.

In these few weeks, the first 2 months of our youth ministry at SMBC, I have learned a few things. All of these are not new. Some of these I have been told some of these by mentors and other youth pastors. Some of these I have learned on my own in ministry. All are priceless to me in ministry here and where ever God has for us in the future.

In my first 2 months, I have learned….

  • The value of a close group. These youth grew up together. They are as close as family can be and still have different parents. They love and care for each other. The other youth leaders care for these kids like they were their own and these kids look up to them, respect and love them like they are also family.
  • The value of a praying church. SMBC is unlike any other church that I have ever been a part of. They believe in the power of prayer and they put it into action. They have prayed for and over us multiple times and so many people come up to us and tell us that they are praying for us all the time.
  • The definition of a legacy. We went to the AWANA awards program. Some of the leaders here have been there 8, 9, 10, years and more. Some of our youth grew up here and had some of the same leaders that are still in place today. These leaders have poured the better part of their lives into these kids. Some of these kids have gone on, while others are still there but these leaders have planted more seeds than they will ever know. These leaders are the true definition of a legacy.
  • The value of a mentor. I have had a mentor in youth ministry for many years. Shan has become more than a mentor to me. He is a Christian brother who prays for us, advises us, and resources us more than I could ever have imagined. He has become a close friend who I am planning on meeting at SYM in March. Now I have a pastor who is working with me to help me get the Thrive Youth off and running. We discuss plans, curriculum, events and just throw ideas around to see what it sounds like. He is pushing me out of my comfort zone and helping me grow into the youth pastor that God wants me to be.
  • The unmeasurable value of a supporting family. Memorial Day weekend 2012 I had the incredible opportunity to preach to the entire congregation, not just the youth, for the very first time in my life. As Pastor David introduced me, he asked that anyone who was part of my family to please stand up. I almost lost it as I saw 2 entire pews filled up with people there to support me, stand up. Mom and Dad had come over. Stephanie’s family was there. Sam was there. There are no words to describe what I felt in that moment.
  • The power of 3. Yes I said three. Stephanie and I are a team. We are a team in everything that we do. I am the one on staff. I am the one that will get a W-2 at the end of the year but she is in this with me 100%. She is as involved at SMBC as I am. God is the center of our marriage and the captain of our team. I wouldn’t be able to, nor would I want to do this without her or without it being God’s will for our lives.
  • I serve a great God who still answers prayers today. I am so unworthy of the answered prayers in my life. I have an amazing wife, a loving and supporting family, a good job, a great home, a great church family with a “Thriving”  youth group. I am blessed more than I can mention in a simple blog post.

I can’t wait to see what God does from here….

Dear God,

Thank you for these past few months. There have been really high highs and a few really low moments too. You never left us in the valleys and you laughed and celebrated with us during the peaks. Thank you for the people that you have put in my path and help me to never take that for granted. Help me to be the husband, son, brother, youth leader and friend that you have called me to be.


I saw God today

A few years ago, Steph and I were up early like normal and headed to church. It appeared to be just a normal Sunday morning. We were tag team teaching the the youth at our church on reading their bible, taking the verses apart. We had talked it over together and we were ready to go. We headed out just like always and that’s when it happened.

I saw God.

I didn’t see God in the image that I was created in. I didn’t see a wise man older than time itself. I didn’t catch a glimpse of His robe as He passed by, but I clearly saw God in all of His power and in all of His might. I saw His hands wrap around me and Steph and others nearby as He made His presence known.

I saw God….in my right side mirror.

We were just a few miles from home. We were talking about our plans to get breakfast at someplace different than our normal stop by Panera bread. That’s when I noticed in my right side mirror, a white truck going fast enough to pass me on the right side. The only problem with this was…..there was not a lane on the right side. There was only a ditch to my right and this truck was down in the ditch.  A blink of an eye later as I watched in the rear view mirror, this same truck cut back across the road almost perpendicular to the highway, flipped over and landed on its top on the left side of the road.

I saw God….in my rear view mirror.

The instincts that I have gotten from my dad immediately kicked in. We quickly stopped the Jeep, turned around and raced back to help the driver of the truck. The truck was up against some brush and trees. The lights were still on. The radio was still blaring country music. There was debris everywhere. A mailbox had been destroyed with mail still in it. There was even mail in the grill of the truck. About that time, an extremely shaky man climbed out of the driver side of the truck, without a scratch on him.

I saw God….protect  the driver.

Steph had already called 911. Other cars were beginning to stop to check on the situation. The driver directly behind the truck saw everything told of how close that the truck got to him when it crossed back over the road. That’s when we realized that God not only protected the driver of the truck, He protected me and Steph. The truck was in the ditch and could have easily crossed over taking us out in the mix. He could have slowed up and taken the car behind him out when he crossed over.  How does a truck going that fast, between 2 cars, in Sunday morning church traffic, cross over 2 lanes of roadway, flip over and no one is hurt?

I saw God…..

Then the driver of the truck said something that explained everything. You see, he had fallen asleep at the wheel after working 2 days straight. When he called his wife to tell her what happened, I heard him say, “God must have something bigger planned for me.”

I saw God and the driver’s defining moment.

Enough said.

Dear God,

Thank you for Your hand of protection over me and Stephanie, over the other drivers, and over the driver of the truck involved in the accident. You not only kept the situation from being a lot worse, but you gave this driver a wake up call. A wake up call that many of us today need. You gave him and us, all a different look at life. Help us to not take this for granted. Help us to see the importance of a wake up call, especially one that we can walk away from without a scratch. Thank you that…..

I saw God today….