Be Careful What You Touch

When I was young I did not go to church, ever. I didn’t know the Lord and didn’t know any Christians. My reference point for the things of God was zero. Those who grow up in a Christian family are made aware of the things of God, but that wasn’t my journey. So, how does God find and introduce himself to a guy like me?


It was fifth grade and I was flunking out! I hated school and was not a good student. It is a fact that had I not moved out of state at the end of my fifth grade year, they would have failed me and held me back. I can only imagine what that would have done to change the course of my life. That was one of seven or eight calls I can point to in my life that could have gone either way and made all the difference for who I am today. Thank you Lord!


One day a classmate named Christy Westmoreland brought a Bible to class with her. To my recollection, this was the first time I had ever seen a Bible. I remember asking her why she had it at school. I don’t remember her answer. But, she did invite me to church (way tshutterstock_173726786o go young lady). I laughed and said that we did not attend church. Class started and there was that Bible on her desk. It had my full attention. I remember it was all black, and written on the outside were the words HOLY BIBLE. Something about the conversation and the presence of that Bible made me feel uneasy, like something was wrong with me. So, I drew a picture of a Bible with holes all in it and called it HOLEY BIBLE. When I gave it to Christy, she was not amused to say the least.

That was it. I didn’t get saved that day. That would come a couple months later through a crazy turn of events, when my father led me to the Lord and my life changed forever. But go back to that moment for a second. Imagine what happened in heaven that day. God—knowing that I would become a preacher who would one day study, teach, eat and sleep the Bible—touched that spot in my life before I even became saved. I imagine the fun that He had with the angels as they watched me studiously drawing that disparaging picture of the Book that would change my life.


Two closing thoughts: Thank you Christy, for making me aware that there is a God. And thank you God, for finding me when I didn’t even know I was lost. For more one this subject go to

Try Measuring It

When man was put on this beautiful global ball, he was instructed to multiply. Deep down, each of us desires to flourish, reproduce, and multiply. And, each of us does it differently. Whether it is a mother that wants to have children and share her love with a family, or a man who has an idea for a business that could change humanities daily life and create honorable jobs for others—we are driven to make a contribution to this world with the life we have.


So, how do we “multiply”?


There is a great adage that says, “You cannot multiply what you will not manage, and you cannot manage what you will not measure”.


Recently, I re-read the great business book “E-myth revisited” by Michael E. Gerber. The premise of the book is: just because you’re a great cook—doesn’t automatically qualify you to run a restaurant. One is a talent—and the other a business. He goes on to say that each one of us has three basic business elements, although in very different portions.


The first business element in each of us is the “entrepreneur”. It is the dreamer, visionary measureand risk taker part of us. The next is the “manager” who develops systems, processes, and routines that puts legs to the vision. The last is the “Technician”, who performs the daily tasks that make the vision tangible. Some of us lean heavily towards one or the other. While we all have these three elements, we all need help from those who have the opposite leanings.


Let’s honor the “technician” for a minute—they never get enough credit. The process of multiplication begins with measuring, and that is a “technician” job. In January, I joined the gym. I weighed more than I wanted to, had gotten a little soft, and needed to sweat! So, I joined a class. One of the first things they did was establish a benchmark for me. They had me do one sit-up, one push-up, and one air squat. Then I was to add a rep to each exercise in round two—so I did two sit-ups, two push-ups, and two air squats. I was to continue adding a round, adding a rep each round to each exercise, then see how many reps I could get done in 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes I was spent. I had accomplished 10 rounds, and was in the middle of pushups on the eleventh round when time was up.


A month later, they had me do the very same exercise. This time I made it through 15 rounds. I improved to 65 sit-ups, 65 push-ups, and 65 air squats. I had not lost a bunch of weight. I didn’t have bulging muscles—yet. But, I unequivocally knew that I was making progress, and that the class was working, because I had measured it.

Measurements can change our lives. Calendars measure our time—budgets measure our money—diets measure our calories. If you want to make a change in your life today—measure something. For more on this subject go to







Sibling Seniority – a lesson in leadership

Recently, I played cards with a group of young men. I hadn’t played cards in sometime but one of them had heard I like to play a certain game that he wanted to learn. The card game is called “Bambu” and I unabashedly (first time I have ever used that word while writing) proclaim it the BEST game e-v-e-r. I know all the card enthusiasts out there are screaming, “You can’t say it is the best game ever!” But, it is, and the reason it is, is because it is 6 card games rolled into one.


I was to meet the three young men at 5:00 pm sharp. When I arrived, the ten year old was waiting. We talked for a few minutes while I shuffledeldest-siblings-are-more-intelligent1-1459856533 the cards. Then mom summoned the other two and the twelve year old appeared. After a few more minutes I asked, “Where is your older brother?” The twelve year old replied, “He must not have heard mom call.” He then turns
to the ten year old and says, “Go get our brother!” Without argument the youngest brother left to fulfill this command, at which the twelve year old turns to me and says with a smile, “Sibling seniority!”


He was implying that because he was older than the ten year old, he could expect the younger to comply with any reasonable request. As I thought about this, I realized it is an important and powerful spiritual truth. While older siblings do have seniority, the first word in that phrase is sibling. Being a brother comes first and while they might boss each other, you wouldn’t want to get between them because they would fight to the death for each other.


In other words, never use your seniority (authority) in a way that could cause you to lose your brother!


The Bible says about Jesus that He is the firstborn among many brethren. He attained ALL authority when He sat down at the right hand of the Father. He shares His authority with all His brethren. But, Jesus never uses His seniority (authority) in a way that abuses or jeopardizes the BROTHERHOOD.


Remember, relationship with your brothers and sisters comes first and must be guarded and valued above all else. Only when that is held in the paramount position does seniority and authority find its rightful place. For more on this subject, go to


Relief makes relationship possible, but conflict makes relationships stronger!

One day I was giving a guy from Atlanta a tour of our beautiful community, showing him some of the incredible ministry successes we have seen that have happened through collaboration between our churches, non-profits, businesses, and government officials. He was amazed at what God had done in our “neck of the woods”.


I love it when big city folks are amazed that God also moves in the sticks.


As we concluded our tour, he stated that our community looked like we were operating in a Jesus’ ministry model. Curious, I asked him, “What is that exactly?” He said, “Jesus always provided relief, which then created a margin to have a spiritual conversation.” He encouraged me to go back and review the gospels. Jesus would meet someone along the way, identify their torment, deliver them from their ailment, and provide relief. Once relief was established, the person then had space or margin to make a choice to enter into a relationship with Jesus, or not.


I have noticed this as a pastor. I, or someone on our staff, meet someone at a point of need, and once that person has experienced relief, some go on their way, but others take the opportunity to further develop a relationship with myself or with our church family.


Later, I was talking to a Christian counselor abimagesout this and he said, “Ah, yes, but nothing builds relationships like conflict. If the relationship can’t handle conflict; you don’t really have a relationship. During times of deep conflict, you have the opportunity to truly navigate what is important to you and the other party. Never aim to resolve conflict too early, rather aim to grow the relationship to its maximum potential during a conflict.”


I thought both ideas were good advice. Use relief as an invitation for relationship. Let people make a choice for relationship based on want, not need. Once a relationship is established, don’t be afraid of conflict. It is the ingredient that seasons your relationship. For more on this subject go to,-position,-and-purpose.html



Garbage Speaks

I was standing outside of the recycling center having a conversation with someone when suddenly I heard a crash. I turned and looked in the direction of the noise and saw an elderly woman in great distress, standing in utter shock staring at a large pile of garbage at her feet. As I sprinted her way to help, I deduced that she had been attempting to throw her garbage in the recycling bin when the bag broke and spilled everywhere!


As the woman started picking up the garbage, she was startled by my presence. I quickly said, “Here, let me help you with that”. She didn’t seem to know whether she wanted my help or not. Which made no sense to me, until I started helping.


You can learn a lot about someone by their garbage.Garbage


I never asked the woman her name, where she was from, or even how she was doing. But;, I can tell you the type of beer she drinks, the formula she takes every morning to help her with a health problem she has, and a couple other things I would prefer not to talk about here. After helping the woman, I understood why she probably would have rather not had my help. Garbage is intimate stuff.


It got me to thinking about my own personal baggage and garbage. I do not like people to see all my stuff; my quirks, oddities, and shortcomings. So, like everyone else, I keep most of this information to myself, and allow just a few people that I trust into those areas. The problem is, from time to time, our bag will break in public, and everyone can see our yuck. It happened to me this week. I was not kind, I was not patient, and I was not loving to someone. My garbage came out and several people saw it. I was embarrassed that I could act like that. In the end, I went back to the person and publicly apologized. I wished I could do more, but sometimes you can’t undo the mess, you just have to own it.


I learned two lessons from these two experiences. First, be kind to people when their garbage is exposed, and consider how much they would want you involved. Just because you see it doesn’t mean they want you to go through it with them. Secondly, I am switching to black garbage bags from now on. Just saying. For more information go to


Maggots……a gift from God?

I am a builder. I like to create, establish, and birth new things. Whether it is a ministry, program, book, organization, or relationship; I like starting new things. I am not a very good maintainer. If I am responsible for an organization or relationship for the long haul, I have to recreate it from time to time as my form of maintaining or managing it well.


One time an older man in my life said to me, “Be careful what you birth. Whatever you birth, you are responsible to care for the rest of its life”. Wow! That comment stopped me in my tracks and took the wind out of my sails. Was that true? If so, I was not so sure that I ever wanted to birth another thing the rest of my life.


Is the price of birthing something maintaining it as long as it lives? It is if we are discussing children, of course. But, what about organizations or churches, are they supposed to live forever? Whether you agree with the man’s comment or not, it was a word of the Lord for me and a much needed wake up call. I had not considered the long-term care that was going to be necessary for the things I birthed.


Recently, another man provided well-needed balance to this conversation. It was T. D. Jakes, as he was being interviewed by Bill Hybels, during The 2016 Global Leadership Summit. T. D. explained it this way; while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God fed them fresh manna every day. If the people gathered the manna and tried to keep it over night, maggots would spoil the manna. God allows things to spoil, and sometimes provides maggots, so we don’t try to hold onto everything that belongs to yesterday. He went on to say that not every relationship, assignment or program deserves the energy, time or resources that God has given you for today.Unknown


Some things you birth will live for a season and then pass away, because their usefulness has passed. That is ok. But, it is not ok to create and build new things without any consideration for their care. There has to be balance.


What if the maggot devours things that allow us the freedom to fully embrace today? Just a thought. For more on this subject,

Battles & Burdens

Growing up, I was always looking for ways to make money. My first job was as a paperboy. I delivered papers three times a week. But, I always had something going on the side as well. I also picked up soda bottles and redeemed them; five cents for the small bottles, and 10 cents for large bottles. I loved making and saving money.


When I became older, that drive or desire to make and save money didn’t change, just the ways I chose to make extra money. Instead of picking up bottles, I became interested in flipping houses and owning rental property. I invested a ton of time and money in real estate. And things went really well until 2008 when I learned for the first time in my life, what a downturn in the economy looked like. I had some investments that didn’t make it. It was painful watching something I had once loved become something I loathed.


Something else happened the winter of 2008. A group of people formed Haywood County’s first homeless shelter. I was elected to the board and served on that board for six years. Then the homeless shelter merged with two other organizations to form, The Haywood Pathways Center (a homeless shelter, half-way house, and soup kitchen). I have served on that board since its inception, and still do so today.


The Haywood Pathways Center houses up to 100 people who are working on turning their lives around. Currently it is an adults only center since we may need to serve those who have been past sexual offenders, and our two dormitories are an open floor plan. The next phase of our ministry is to focus on families in crisis, by providing off campus temporary housing for moms and their children. This may involve buying, flipping, and managing families in individual units.


Funny isn’t it? I got into real estate to make money for my family. I learned a lot about the market, renters, contractors, bankers and their policies and procedures. And as I personally experienced the ups and downs of the real estate market, God began turning my heart towards those that have no place to live. God is now redeeming all of the time I invested in real estate, and I am now using every bit of it for the benefit of others.


Some of our greatest failures might be God given burdens misapplied! God has graced my investment as I have focused on helping others.


If God has given you a passion, but it doesn’t seem to be working for you, you might want to consider using it to serve someone else. You may find, like I did, that it was always His original intention. For more on this subject


Discovering the Mind of a Woman

When my wife and I had been married about seven years, we went through a very difficult time. We were both working hard to make ends meet and take care of two toddlers. Our marriage became very strained. Honestly, we were in trouble but didn’t even know it. Then a friend handed me a book on marriage. The title was “Discovering the Mind of a Woman” by Ken Nair. The author said, “you cannot understand all woman, but you should understand yours!”


I read the book so long ago I can’t fully recommend it, but I do remember two things. The first was that we should listen to our wives, they usually only want our best. Most women aren’t getting up in the morning thinking; how can I ruin my husband’s life, or how can I make him miserable today? Yes, there are some, but most don’t.shutterstock_16524841


What my wife wants is a husband she is proud of. She wants me to be the best in every area of my life because it increases the quality of her life and she loves me. But, who do you think I regularly don’t listen to when she has something to tell me? My wife! All too often I discount what she has to say, because I am overly familiar with her voice since I hear it every day. But time and time again, I have found she is my best counselor.


The second thing I remember from the book was that a woman wants to be pursued, discovered, and cherished. I remember asking my wife if she felt I was pursuing her or if she believed I cared about the matters of her heart. She bluntly told me, “no” and that she had lost all hope that I ever would. She had resigned herself to thinking we would end up roommates at best in our marriage. I promised her that day that I would change and not take her for granted. She said, “I will believe it when I see it.”


Twenty years later we are happily married. Those toddlers are grown and gone and we love each other more than ever. My wife is pursuing her dream of being an artist. She is blossoming into who she always knew she was, and I am chasing after her, trying to keep up with this new and beautiful version of her. I am grateful that God saved our marriage. I am grateful that today I still have so much more to discover…and to enjoy about the woman I chose to love. For more, click on






Raising Men

My wife and I have two sons. We made the decision early on to raise men, not boys. That can be difficult in a society that panders to children. I am continually amazed at the decisions and the adjustments parents make based on the whims of their child. There was a day, in our society fifty years ago, when a child wasn’t to speak until spoken to. That, in my opinion, swung too far to one end of the spectrum. Today, most children can interrupt any conversation, at any time. That, in my opinion, swings too far in the other direction.


Raising men means that we accept where our children are in their development but parent them towards who they will become. We treat them one developmental stage ahead of where they are. That can be hard, especially for a mother, to train a child to be independent, instead of enjoying their dependence upon her.Raising Men


My wife insisted our sons clean their own room at a very young age. The boys started cutting the grass when they were six. Both did their own laundry by middle school. We taught them how to treat women, by opening doors and treating them with respect. They could feed themselves for as long as I can remember.


Besides giving them responsibility, we let our kids make some adult decisions for their own life (not for our family, see the first paragraph). This allowed us to use their real life successes and failures as coaching opportunities while they were still in our house. This limited the negative impact when they made a poor decision and allowed us to truly dissect the learning opportunity when their decision was a good one.


Now let me clearly say that my wife and I are not perfect parents. Rarely do I give parenting advice because I made a ton of mistakes along the way. But, those mistakes don’t discount the truths we did discover while raising our sons. Here are two truths we discovered about raising men:


  1. If you treat a boy like a boy, he may grow up to be a boy. I know some 30 year olds boys and no one thinks their boyish behavior is cute anymore, especially their wives. Boys desire to know (especially from their father) that they have what it takes to be a man. So, whenever you can, let them make manly decisions for their life and applaud their successes.


  1. Understand the difference between authority and influence in your children’s lives. When they are young, you have authority over them. You tell them when to go to bed and decide what they will eat. But, as they mature into teenagers, the “season” of authority begins to wane and the “season” of influence begins. Many parents miss this change and continue to operate from authority. If we miss this change, many times they move out of our house and reject any influence we have over their lives.


Today, my adult sons will call me and say, “Dad, I am making this decision, but I want to get your advice before I make it.” That means the world to me. They own their decisions but somehow, through all the mistakes I did make; I still have some influence in their lives.


Parenting is hard; the most difficult thing I have ever done. I do not envy todays parents and the hard decisions they have to make everyday. But as a father who has been down that road, I implore you to consciously raise men, not boys. You will not regret it. For more on this subject go to



The Gospel of Good Success

Paul and Silas were in jail, and they were innocent. The longer I live, the more I have come to realize that there are indeed innocent people in jail, and guilty people roaming the streets. This is a result of a fallen world, impoverished by sin. Paul and Silas are singing at midnight when a miraculous earthquake throws open all the jail cell doors. But, Paul and Silas don’t leave. How can they? There are other people in jail who need help. This is God’s assignment for them. The goal in their circumstances was not to get out of wrongful imprisonment, but to use the opportunity to serve other people in the prison!


One of my heroes of faith is a minister named Kirbyjon Caldwell. He wrote a book called, “The Gospel of Good Success”. Since 1982, he has served as Senior Pastor at the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. Now a congregation of 16,000-members, when Kirbyjon became pastor of the church, there were less than a dozen people attending. The church was located in a “not so pleasant” part of town. As the church grew, he was offered promotions and assignments to bigger and more glamorous churches. He turned them all down. His assignment was to make the community he pastored INTO ONE OF THOSE MORE GLAMOROUS COMMUNITIES. kingdom_builders_featured


He started by partnering with business folks to develop a piece of land into affordable single-family homes, which they sold below market value so that those in his community who never owned a home, could do so. After developing a neighborhood of over 100 of these beautiful brick homes, he went to the City of Houston and offered to donate church land to the City if they would build a brand new elementary school for the kids of that neighborhood. A new school was built. He then did the same thing with the Y.M.C.A, which built a new facility next to the new elementary school. He bought a strip mall and brought in successful entrepreneurs to teach his people how to start businesses using godly principles, and then allowed them to set up shop in the strip mall to get their businesses started. There are other creative endeavors that he has led, but I hope that is enough to make the point.


Kirbyjon has prospered; his church has grown, he has authored books, and developed business partnerships. But, he chose to stay with his church, and in his community. The result is that the church has prospered as well, and the community has become a beacon of transformation for the world to see.


We all walk through difficult circumstances, and many of us are tempted to make it our goal to escape whatever present challenge we are in. Yet our assignment might very well be to the very people around us going through the same thing! For more on this subject go to