Friday, July 31, 2009

The Ethics of Hiring Staff from Another Church


Ethics are involved when it comes to hiring staff from another church; especially within the same community. At PCC all of our staff members, except one, have been from within our church family and with good results.

Here are few thoughts:

  • Hiring a staff member from another church is not a sin. But doing so deceitfully and without integrity is another matter.

  • I think pastors in the same town should give more consideration to each other when hiring from another church. For instance, if PCC were to hire someone from South FL it probably wouldn’t disrupt the ministry of that church too much. But if we hire staff member from two miles down the road, it could cause confusion and negatively impact that church.

  • Ministry friendships can be strained or even severed when hiring from other churches if that process is not handled with integrity.

  • I prefer adding staff from within. You can read about that here.

  • A church that pilfers other congregations to sustain its existence is unhealthy. A church that plants, grows, and cultivates its own crops will experience fruitfulness and God’s blessings. For instance....

About three years ago a staff member from another church (in this town) approached me and asked if he could join our team and work for us. It was a chance encounter in a local restaurant. I said, “That’s a possibility.” I sat down at his table and we talked. He possessed good skills, was very experienced, and our church had an existing need that happened to be within his area of expertise. I’m thinking, “Maybe God is in this, and if so, the timing couldn’t be better!”

I then asked him, “Why are you looking to leave your current church? I know your pastor and no doubt he will be sad to see you go and your church will suffer a great loss.” To which he replied that he was embroiled in a conflict and wanted to get out as quickly as possible. I though, “Uh oh,” and then politely declined, not wanting to get involved in something messy. He then commented that he could pull some people out of his current church and bring them to PCC with him. At that point I rejected his offer and abruptly got up from the table. Later I called the senior pastor of that church and told him about the conversation I had with this staff member of his. He appreciated the call.

I refuse to get involved in things like that.

Good staff members can come from other churches. But I am still more inclined to look within. There may be a time in our future when God provides a good addition to our team from another church. But when that happens, God will have to be in it and the process will be conducted with the utmost integrity. I want God’s blessings on PCC, not Satan’s junk.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When People Leave Church & the 80% Loss


Each year the typical church loses about 20-30% of its people. This is due to four main factors; relocation because of work, changing churches (for a variety of reasons), death (of the elderly) or spiritual lukewarmness and backsliding. This is an ever-present reality. It is what it is. What this means is that churches have to be adding that many people through the front door each year (and getting them to stick) just to maintain current attendance levels. Furthermore, if a church is actually growing above those losses it means they have an effective outreach and discipleship emphasis.

Even more startling (and most people don’t realize this) is that the average church will actually lose 80% of its people over the course of time. Eighty percent! It’s easy to see that with 20-30% going out the door each year, it’s only a matter of time before there is a complete turnover of the people in the congregation. But this trend can be significantly reduced by focusing on winning the lost and properly discipling them. Why? Because newly saved people are easily bonded to a church family, and when discipled will buy into the vision. These people become some of the best servants in the house and will stick for a lifetime. This also reduces the possibility that people will leave for petty, selfish reasons.

When people leave a church it can cause mild trauma for a pastor. As an under-shepherd, we have invested time, love, and friendship in the care of our church members, so it is naturally depressing when people leave. Most unsettling of all is when church members leave for selfish reasons such as personality conflicts, not getting their way about something, all their friends are leaving, or jealously. The list of petty issues is endless.

I have learned some things over the years, and when faced with this dilemma myself here’s what I do:

Number one - I never attempt to talk the person out of their decision. Never.

Number two - I stand against the wiles of the enemy who tries to give me a sense of rejection.

Number three – I stay focused on the mission of the church, (i.e., the Great Commission). I can cry over the people who are leaving, or I can cry over the new people who are coming to Christ. But I don’t have enough tears for both.

I always remember that none of the sheep are mine to begin with; they belong to God. I am only accountable for being the best under-shepherd I am called to be. To that end, I have learned to not take it personally (most of the time) when people leave because I am simply a steward over God’s heritage; He is the landlord.

Furthermore, when people realize that they belong to God (not a man) they automatically begin to grow in spiritual maturity and begin to serve others instead of focusing their attention on their petty, selfish whims. It is also less likely they will be led astray because their strongest allegiance is to God, not a man. People who believe they belong to a man will often follow the wrong man.

The only string that ties me to the people of PCC is the cord of love. To that end we teach people the importance of commitment, agreeing to covenants, and conflict resolution. People must be told that leaving will not solve their problems, because most of their problems are within themselves (not in the church); and they will carry those problems with them wherever they go and will remain unresolved. Once there, it will only be a matter of time before the same issues surface again. The right thing to do is to fix the problem – usually by looking in the mirror.

This is why PCC breaks with the statistical trend of losing 80% our people.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What a Great Church We Have


A GREAT COMMITMENT to the GREATEST COMMANDMENT and the GREAT COMMISSION will result in a GREAT CHURCH

I think PCC is a great church. Here’s a couple of reasons why:

I was at church tonight. There was a lot going on. It was youth night combined with the monthly Unite family picnic. In addition, the teens had the finale to their summer Survivor series. It was a lot of fun. The kids really got into it. Even the adults had a blast. As I walked around this evening, I did so with open eyes making observations. Do you know what I observed? There was “one another” ministry taking place all over the place.

During the picnic time, I met a coupe of new people and had a very pleasant visit with them. They have been attending PCC since January (seven months now) and tonight was the first time I had a significant conversation with them. They told me of their spiritual journey, their commitment to Jesus Christ, and how much PCC means to them. Here’s my point: these people already have full buy-in to our church and they had not even met the senior pastor yet! Do you know what that means? It means the PEOPLE of PCC (that’s you) have made our church such a welcoming place that newcomers find it very easy to call PCC their home. Amazing.

Afterwards everyone went inside. The place was packed with people, mostly teens. I took a stroll through the building and noticed little pockets of people, here and there, having ministry time together praying one for another. I’ve just go to say, it’s great to belong to a church where the “members” actually function as the “ministers.” There’s enough spiritual maturity (and heart felt compassion) among our members that they take it upon themselves to get involved in the lives of other people who are reaching out. Amazing.

I took a stroll through the kitchen and there’s a group of workers in there laboring tirelessly in food preparation and clean up. They do this faithfully every Wednesday night. It’s hard work with no pay. But they do it with joy in their heart and a song on their lips just so the kids can be provided for. Jesus often did some of His best ministry while sitting around a dinner table sharing a meal with sinners or His disciples. This is very important because there is a bonding effect when people share a meal together. After the kids are well fed, then they are fed the Word of God by a couple of exceptional teachers. If not for these faithful workers in the kitchen, this level (and depth) of ministry would not be taking place. Amazing.

Then I noticed a group of men who were having a Bible study together. They were discussing the Sunday sermon so they could dig deeper into the subject matter. As they talked in group discussion, they were not only going deeper in the Word of God but also deeper into each other’s lives. This is what is called “koinonia” – a Greek word that describes biblical fellowship. Then they concluded their Bible study with prayer for each other. Amazing.

These observations only scratch the surface of what I noticed tonight.

For eleven years Pace Community Church has had a Great Commitment to the Greatest Commandment AND the Great Commission. It was apparent to me tonight that we truly have a GREAT CHURCH!

PS - Lou & Loraine Colon gave me a gift card to Lowes for my birthday; that was the greatest part of all!

Unity Does Not Mean Uniformity



Do you know the difference between unity and uniformity? People often get them mixed up.

I can tell you what church people go to, or what denomination they belong to, just by the way they dress or comb their hair. I can also tell you, within sixty seconds or less, what persuasion of theology certain church goers are associated with just by the phrases they parrot. There is a distinct, detectable pattern of behavior, dress code, and terminology that reveals what camp they are a product of. You couldn’t learn this stuff from the Bible itself – you have to be taught it by men, who then attempt to use the Bible to prove their presuppositions. Just listen to them and you’ll hear the same phrases regurgitated over and over again. These disciples are simply the products of men. They are cookie-cutter disciples. This is what uniformity looks like.

Jesus prayed in John 17:21-23; “I pray… that they may all be one…. that they may be perfect in one.” This is a prayer for unity, not uniformity.

Unity means that people are united in thought and purpose (with a focus on God as the common denominator) while remaining unique as individuals as part of the body of Christ. Uniformity, on the other hand, means that everyone looks alike, thinks alike, dresses alike, and agrees on everything. Religion will try to make a clone out of you. Church people will attempt to make you a facsimile of themselves.

Churches will often attempt to create “one-ness” in their ranks by insisting that their members look alike, wear the same hair styles, adhere to certain dress codes, quote the same creeds, prefer the same musical tastes, and believe exactly alike about everything. This may look like unity on the outside, but in reality it is simply ‘uniformity’ (or conformity) held together by force. This is what you call legalism or bondage.

Let me ask you; in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-personality congregation, how do you get everyone to look alike and think alike in everything? When a congregation is made up of different kinds of people, from different backgrounds, who possess different personalities, how do you get everyone to dress alike, talk alike, and think the same? You can’t! Even if you could, it would mean that someone is denying their God-given uniqueness as they conform to someone else’s expectation. This is what churches often strive for in their attempt towards unity – but in reality it is uniformity (or forced conformity).

Unity is different. It means that people can be 'who they are' and live the way God 'wired them to be' while at the same time agreeing to embrace a church’s culture, vision, doctrine, and philosophy. This is called UNITY is the midst of DIVERSITY. This is what makes the body of Christ what it is and gives it strength.

For instance, if I were to attend a Christian church in the Caribbean Islands, the musical style there would probably be Reggie, the drummer would probably have long dreadlocks in his hair, and their doctrine may not be exactly the same as mine. While different, I could appreciate the cultural expression and diversity found within the body of Christ. In fact, I would probably enjoy it – even though that’s not who I am.

Suppose I went to a northern New England state and attended a worship service there – I would probably experience a formal, liturgical church service with a lot of formality and tradition with a strong puritan influence. Again, not my personal preference, but I could appreciate the diversity found in the body of Christ.

Take that same principle and apply it WITHIN a SINGLE congregation. God doesn’t expect that everyone look alike, dress alike, and parrot the same phrases. He expects us to be true to ourselves and to our individual uniqueness, while maintaining unity in the body of Christ (in the midst of our diversity). See the difference?

Churches that require uniformity are actually expecting their people to wear a certain “uniform” of religiosity – something that is only on the surface. Unity, on the other hand, is internal and much deeper.


  • Unity puts freedom first
  • Uniformity puts order first

  • Unity is present when people want to obey
  • Uniformity is present when people are forced to obey

  • Unity spreads through relationships
  • Uniformity suppresses through rules

  • Unity is a warm body
  • Uniformity is a cold machine

Yes, the scriptures call us to be “like-minded” and to be in “one mind and one accord”. This refers to the bigger issues like the mission of the church, doctrinal purity, and peace in the body of Christ, etc. But nowhere does the Bible call us to uniformity. Nowhere. In fact, the Bible embraces diversity.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity (Psalms 133:1)

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Youth Wants to Know


We are also (tentatively) planning a Sunday morning service called “Youth Wants to Know.” We will let the teenagers submit questions in writing and in advance, then I will (attempt to) answer those questions in the morning message.

Should be interesting…


Sneak Peek


In mid August
, we’re going to begin a new message series which will be timed with the start of school. Summer travel will be over and most people will be in a regular routine again. This will be the perfect time to reengage everyone with a fall family round-up as a new season of ministry begins.

We are also going to be doing a bit of a makeover in the atrium and children’s wing with visual upgrades; new signage, furniture, and backdrops. You probably noticed the new Welcome Center Desk last Sunday. It is very nice. This is the first step in the project.

Also on the slate is a direct mail campaign. We will mail invite cards into 15,000 homes, hoping to make contact with hurting people who might be spiritually receptive to Christ.

In September & October we’ll be in another message series designed to help you grow in your faith as a Christian. The fall semester of small groups will be under way by then too. We will also be offering Seminar 101 and Seminar 201 for the newcomers to PCC. A Sunday morning Communion service is on the calendar. Changes in leadership will result in a new organizational chart. We are also thinking of hosting an appreciation event for all our volunteers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

After Church Youth Pool Par-TAY


You can click the picture to enlarge the image.





Friday, July 24, 2009

Dawg & Dog



I'm noticing a similarity.
Just a couple more tats and the makeover will be complete!

Staff Changes & Children's Ministry

Our most pressing concern with Cathy Denny stepping down from the children’s ministry was how the parents of the children (as well as the workers) might feel about the vacancy in leadership. We understand the concerns that could be raised, such as - how long will it take to find a replacement? and, will the program flounder in the meantime? To that end, we have worked diligently to formulate a plan to ensure a seamless transition.

First, let me say, that Cathy was gracious enough to provide us with two months notice, which provided us with enough time to make good decisions (rather than having to hastily react). To Cathy, we say “thank you” for your forethought.

Second, the best ministry leaders and staff members usually come from within our church family, rather than from the outside; therefore we have been looking among our own ranks for the appropriate person to fill the vacancy. Here’s how we do it: when we realize a certain position needs to be filled, we always look at who is already doing the job as a volunteer and then make our selection accordingly.

Third, we have made our selection about the changes in personnel.

Here’s what the plan is:

  • Christy Klein will be the new Children’s Ministry Director. Christy is currently our Pre-school Director and will be moving up to the elementary grades, becoming the new leader there.

  • Of course, moving Christy creates a vacancy in the pre-school department, so we’ve had to find a replacement for her as well. That person will be Richelle White. Richelle currently serves as the Assistant Pre-school Director and will now be stepping up to take full leadership in this area.

We’ve been through the interview process with both of theses ladies and have found them to be the right persons for the task ahead. There are still a few more meetings ahead of us and details to work out to complete the orientation. After that, the transition process (changes in leadership) will begin and will be complete by August 31.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Staff Changes at PCC - Cathy Denny


Cathy Denny is stepping down as our Children’s Ministry Director at the end of August. She notified me of this about four weeks ago, giving us a two month notice. She is a great person, outstanding leader, and top notch performer. PCC would not be where it is today without her contribution and commitment to this ministry. She has served in this capacity for six years, taking a fledgling and disorganized children’s ministry and turning it around to become what it is today. During her time in this role, Cathy has demonstrated her leadership skills by successfully pulling together a ministry team to help carry out the work. Through vision casting she has been able to inspire and motivate others. Together, she and her team, have formed ministry initiatives and executed those plans with a standard of excellence. Cathy possesses full buy-in to the mission & vision of PCC, and it is evident by her passion for this ministry. She has proven herself absolutely loyal and faithful, in the best and worst of times at PCC, making her one of the most valuable members of our team and my staff. Scores of children have been led to Christ while under her spiritual leadership. Many of these children are now teenagers who are still connected to PCC and are living for God; and because of this solid foundation, the process spiritual formation continues in their lives. Her efforts have made this possible.

Cathy’s reason for stepping down is that she feels her time in children’s ministry has run its course and has now come to an end. Nothing is supposed to last for ever, and she is looking forward to new challenges and ministry opportunities. For now, Cathy is simply taking a Sabbatical, where she plans to devote more time to writing, to her family, to rest, and to seek God’s direction for ministry involvement in another area at PCC. She also believes that a ‘fresh set of eyes’ might be able to take the children’s ministry to its next level.

She and her entire family are remaining with Pace Community Church where they will continue to serve and worship. Her husband, Scott, is actively involved in our teen ministry, serving on the teaching team (and is an excellent teacher BTW) and will continue there. Cathy also serves as one of our Corporate Officers for Pace Community Church, Inc., listed in our charter with the State of Florida, Division of Corporations, and will continue to serve in that capacity.

This, of course, raises questions about the children’s ministry and what’s going to happen in Cathy’s absence. Just so you know, we have been working diligently behind the scenes for the last four weeks to ensure a smooth transition.

I will write about this tomorrow.

In the meantime, you can read Cathy's blog HERE

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Twin Values of Leadership


All leadership is based upon character and competence. Those are the twin values of leadership – character and competence – and it takes both. When looking at potential ministry leaders we ask, Is this person a growing Christian whose integrity is unquestioned? (character), and Can they do the job? (competence).

If a person has character without competence what you have is sincere ineffectiveness - i.e., good people, but just can’t do the job. But far worse is when you have competence without character. When somebody shows up at a church who possesses the skills to do a certain job, but doesn't posses the right kind of character, what you’ve got is a menace – a menace to the church, a menace to the flock, to their small group, or their ministry area. In any form of ministry or leadership, both character and competence are needed.

Let’s talk about CHARACTER. God says it's not age, it's not appearance, it's not achievement, it’s not academics. It's attitude. It’s not just what you believe, but how you behave. That is the determining factor of spiritual maturity - attitude and behavior. Character is the way that you consistently respond to the situations of life. Character is not your reputation. Reputation is what other people think you are. Character is what you really are. D. L. Moody said, "Character is what you are in the dark." Character is what you are when nobody is looking. Character is what you are when you're not on stage. Character is the real you.

In time, a persons true character always reveals itself. Always.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Night I Comitted to Christ


For me, the decision to follow Christ was not a small one. I knew what it meant. I had given the idea plenty of thought, plenty of time, and had counted the cost. Nothing would be held back, it would be total commitment, and the deed (to my life) would be signed over. If Christ is truly Lord, then nothing He asks (or commands) us to do it optional. So central was this truth to me that every action, every decision, and every aspect of my life would now have to be defined by Him.

The most annoying thing about truth is that it is true, making anything that contradicts it false. Christ is either God incarnate, risen from the dead, or either He is not. There is no halfway position here. If Jesus is not God, then His teachings hold no more authority over our lives than those of Confucius, Dr. Phil, or Oprah. We can take them or leave them. But if Christ is God, it changes everything – it means that everything He said was absolute truth and it must (of necessity) affect the way I live my life. Christ offers us an all-or-nothing proposition, and one way or another, everyone of us have already made a choice about Him. We have either committed our lives to Him whole-heartedly, or we have not.

There is no middle ground.

I think some people are willing to affirm Jesus as the Son of God in the same way one might support their political party or favorite sports team. He occupies one room in the “house” of their life, but He is not the foundation upon which the whole house stands. Big difference.

The night I committed my life to Christ, I sat on the edge of my bed trembling. It was decision time for me. I knew everything I needed to know – I had weighed the evidence, counted the cost, and worked my way through some important questions that troubled me. In the course of my seeking and searching, I think Christ revealed Himself to me as the One who IS Truth. Then I did what “doubting Thomas” did two thousand years ago. I fell to my knees and said, “My Lord and My God.” He became the complete authority in my life that night.

Think of your life as a house with many rooms. Your faith in God cannot be just one room in the house, equal with your job, your political affiliation, or your hobbies. No, your faith must be like the very air you breathe. It must fill and permeate your whole house, your vocation, your behavior at home, and your dealings with everyone around you – including the poor. That’s how deep our commitment must be.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Mind Dump

  • Church was AWESOME today.

  • Several people committed to Christ. Many more turned in prayer requests reaching out for help. A ton of visitors. Where are all these people coming from?

  • Attendance was pretty good too – 430 – not too bad for the dead middle of summer with two dozen families away on travel. After school starts we should get back up to normal attendance.

  • I enjoyed the new songs.

  • Chris P. is doing a good job “prompting” the congregation. I recently asked him if he would take that role. Glad I did.

  • I saw some neat comments on Facebook about today’s service.

  • The message really resonated with me today – “What Does God Expect of Me?” – based upon the Greatest Commandment, which is a favorite topic of mine. That commandment, in and of itself, changed my view of Christianity about fifteen years ago.

  • After first service today someone stopped me in the atrium to have a friendly chat. He said something to the effect that it appears like “all is good at PCC right now” and that “he was glad there is so much unity, harmony, and friendliness” in our church family. I think this was a reference to our ten year hiccup and the utter contrast to how our church is now. Things have never been better!

  • Have you noticed how good our church grounds look? Every time you drive by, or drive on to the campus, it ALWAYS looks maintained and taken care of. Thanks to the group of volunteers who mows each Thursday, the grounds are always in pristine condition. I could not be more pleased.

  • But all the good things at PCC don’t begin and end there. We have many, many, volunteers who do so much to make PCC successful. Everything from maintenance, to ministry, housekeeping, teaching, behind-the-scenes-work, to ‘whatever needs to be done,’ our church has the most awesome group of Christian workers I’ve ever seen.

  • I’ve been called to JURY DUTY TOMORROW MORNING.

  • Ch-ch-ch-changes…… I have a very important announcement to make this week. I will post it on my blog on Thursday or Friday. My first mention of this was in last weeks Sunday Mind Dump.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How God Changed My Worldview


I have wrestled most of my life with the claims that Christ makes upon those who will be His followers. What is my responsibility to the poor? How should I use my money? How do I deal with my own self-centeredness? What does God expect of me if I claim to be a Christian? Can I even call Him “Lord” when I don’t always do what He says? And what right do I have to challenge others in ‘their’ Christian walk?

Yet, God uses broken and imperfect people to challenge and inspire others. He uses our mistakes and our successes to shine a light on the path, so that others might follow the right way. The transforming power of the gospel in the life of each person is a miracle in itself. What God has done in my life is a miracle too.

In the end, responding to the gospel and doing what it says is not meant for communities, or even churches; it is meant for individuals – one person at a time. It takes a transformed people to transform the world. But each of us must have our own “Damascus Road” experience, and our own “Thomas moment” in which our doubts fall away and we drop to our knees and acknowledge Jesus Christ as “our” Lord and “our” God (Acts 22:1-11; John 20:24-28). Only then does the journey of faith begin.

As a teenager, I can remember when I first realized (or falsely believed) that if I ever make it in life it will be because I make it happen myself. I purposed within myself that I would always have to stand up for myself and fight back to keep from being bullied and taken advantage of. I would not depend on others, and if I did, it would be as little as possible. “Chart your own course” became my mantra. My self-reliance grew through my teenage years and early twenties. I became very focused in this pursuit. My confidence only increased while in the United States Army where I served as an Airborne Ranger. I wasn’t content to be ‘regular’ Army; I had to belong to the elite troops. In a standing Army of 780,000, there were less than twelve hundred Rangers in two separate battalions. That placed me in a very small group of special forces in an otherwise very large army. I think my determination to be self-reliant became almost like a religion for me – at least it was as far as my dedication to it was concerned. I had a plan for my life, and I didn’t need anyone else’s help.

But then I began bumping into Christian people. While I thought they were very weird, and weak, I took note of them. Sometimes they said things that made me think. Plus they seemed to be all over the place. Every time I turned around I would have another encounter with one of them. While in the Army, the guy who bunked next to me was a Christian. He read his Bible every night. Over the course of many months he shared his faith with me. Most of the time I chose to debate or laugh at him instead. Only later did I come to realize the impact he had upon me. Then when I was being discharged from the Army, I had a three-day encounter with another Christian that rattled me to the core. He said things that I still remember to this day. These kinds of encounters happened on a regular basis with me over the years, and are too numerous to mention.

After I was discharged from the Army I continued on my course of self-reliance and independence. This led to me getting involved with the wrong crowd of people doing the wrong kind of things. I was now on a downward spiral. What had began as a way of self-reliance had now flowered into a lifestyle of self-ruin.

It was an ordinary day, in the midst of this downward spiral, when I picked up a book entitled “What Next?” by Kenneth Schmidt, and thumbed my way through it. It was a Christian book about the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth - something I had never heard of. Reading a book on theology on a Saturday night was, for me, (a hard party animal), a bit of a miracle. To this day I can’t fully explain why I started reading it. But I found that I could not put it down, and six hours later, at two in the morning, I had finished it and sat trembling on my bed. What I had read had shaken me deeply. Somehow that night, God had gotten my attention, and the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ came crashing (intruding) into my life. My self-important, self-reliant, worldview had been assaulted and challenged.

I did not become a Christian that night. After so many years of self-reliance and skepticism, I would need more time and convincing evidence to put my faith in anything as fantastic as this resurrection and Second Coming story. My years of reading had helped me build a fortress of rationalization against anything supernatural or church related. But, I began to be honest with myself, and despite my understanding of the world around me, a gnawing uneasiness lingered. I understood the basics of science, the natural world, the theory of evolution, and the big bang. But there was still a hole in my worldview that I had conveniently ignored.

Why am I here? Where did I come from? Am I an accident of the cosmos, or was I designed and created by an intelligent being? How do we explain the beauty, order, and complexity of the world around us? Where do our instinctual notions of good and evil come from? What happens to us when we die? These are the kinds of questions that make even atheists and agnostics uncomfortable, because there seems to be no rational answer for them. That little book I read seemed to have the answers. The author made a powerful and intellectual argument that the claims of Christianity were true – that Christ was actually a historical person who lived, died, and yes, even rose from the dead; that God was active in creation; and that it is possible to know Him.

In this worldview, everything fit.

The next day, in a panic, I went to a Christian bookstore and bought half a dozen books on Christianity, covering a variety of topics. I even bought a Bible, a paraphrase version, to help me understand the words of Christ. I eagerly read everything I could get my hands on. Keep in mind, at this point I am still not a Christian, but everything I am reading I am seeing for the first time and it is turning my world upside down! Over the next few months I literally read about thirty books on Christianity. For the first time in my life, I was actually searching for truth instead of making up my own. With every book I read, and every Christian I encountered, new questions were being answered and pieces were falling into place. I began to see the utter beauty and total credibility of God’s truth.

Eventually I summoned the courage to attend church one Sunday. I was nervous and afraid. This was a world that I was unfamiliar with. I didn’t come back for a couple of months. When I did, I had the same experience. But I couldn’t ignore the tug in my heart. This was a pattern that continued for two full years. I was caught between two worlds and utterly miserable. Then, one Sunday night, after I got home from a church service, I sat down on the edge of my bed, and I knew: it was true.

At that moment I understood that I had a choice to make. I could accept this truth and commit my life to following Jesus Christ – or I could turn my back on God, walk away from something I knew to be true, and spend the rest of my life living a lie. There was no partial step I could take. It had to be all-or-nothing, one way or the other. Either Jesus Christ would be the most important truth in my life, governing all that I would ever do, or I would go it alone, doing everything my own way.

It was then that I knelt down and prayed the best way I knew how. I had worked my way through my “doubting Thomas” questions and had my own “Damascus Road” experience. I asked God to forgive me for my stubbornness, pride, sin, and much wickedness. I committed my life to Him that day without reservation, and committed myself to a lifetime of service. There were no angels singing, no voices from heaven, but I knew my life had changed dramatically, and forever. The gospel, the good news, had entered my life with power, and nothing as been the same since. The emptiness was filled.

At that point, my life finally began to make sense.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pensacola Murders


It appears the motive for killing this couple was money. The killers were after a safe inside the house. I wonder how much they got. One thousand dollars? Ten thousand? Whatever the amount, it cannot compare to the human suffering and grief they have caused... which is something that cannot be calculated.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

God's Concern for the Poor


16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 22:16 NIV)

In the last few weeks God's Word has really got a grip on my heart. I have been impressed (again) with the emphasis in scripture of God’s concern for the sick, the poor, and underprivileged. All through the Bible, in both the OT and the NT, God cries out against injustice, demands justice for victims, mercy for the repentant, and compassion for the suffering. He called His people to action - to do something about the bad state of affairs in society. The kingdom of which Christ spoke about was one in which the poor, the sick, the grieving, cripples, slaves, women, children, widows, orphans, lepers, aliens – the “least of these” – were to be lifted up and embraced by God.

Last Sunday’s message (God is For You) was an overflow of what’s been happening inside me.

Proclaiming the ‘whole gospel’ means more than having a holy huddle for believers only. It also encompasses providing tangible help for the poor, and the sick. It also includes efforts to right the wrongs that are so common in our world. God is concerned about the spiritual, physical, and social dimensions of people. The ‘whole gospel’ is truly good news for the poor and underprivileged, and it is the foundation for social change in our community.

In Jeremiah 22:16 (above) God clearly communicates that helping those who suffer is WHAT IT MEANS to KNOW GOD. Yikes! Can we honestly say 'we know God' if we do nothing for others? Or perhaps it is telling us that we experience the heart of God when we help the needy. Either way, it is clear that knowing God and helping others cannot be separated.

If it was Jesus’ mission and ministry agenda to preach the gospel to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to release the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19), then it is also the mission of all who claim to follow Him. It’s MY mission. It’s YOUR mission. And it is the mission of the CHURCH.

More and more, our view of the gospel has been narrowed down to a simple transaction for salvation, like checking a box on a bingo card at a prayer breakfast, or coming forward during an altar call. In our efforts to make the good news accessible and easy to understand, we have boiled it down to a kind of “fire insurance” that one can obtain. Then, once the policy is in effect, the sinner can now go back to the life he was living. As long as the policy is in the drawer, we don’t have to concern ourselves with the plight of others. We’ve got our “ticket” to the next life.

There is a real problem with this kind of view of Christianity. It’s not the whole gospel. It’s only part of the gospel. The other part is our obligation to give to others what we have freely received ourselves. Christianity was meant to be spread – but not through coercion. God’s love was intended to be demonstrated, not dictated. Our job is not to manipulate others into agreeing with our boiled-down-sound-bite-Christian-clich├ęs. Our charge is to both proclaim AND embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God’s love (through us) in tangible ways. When we are helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and assisting the sick, then God can use our actions to give others a glimpse of HIS love and character. It is God – not us - who works in the hearts of men and women to forgive and redeem. God is responsible for the harvest – but WE are the ones who must plant, water, and cultivate the seeds by showing compassion in tangible ways.

Jesus always cared about the whole person – one’s health, family, work, values, relationships, behavior towards others, and yes, their eternal soul. His view of the gospel went beyond a bingo card transaction; it embraced a world being transformed by a transformed people. Those words from the Lord’s Prayer, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” were a clarion call to Jesus’ followers to not only proclaim the gospel, but to BE the gospel here and now.

The whole gospel not only means personal salvation. It means social involvement in human suffering.

...... comments are OPEN

Monday, July 13, 2009

Churches Without a Strategy


I had a meeting with this guy once. He told me that he thought churches should not make plans or form strategies to carry out those plans. I disagreed with him. Here’s why. If you have no strategy:

1. You give the loudest or most contrary person in the room the opportunity to decide what happens at your church.

2. High capacity people and sharp leaders who are accustomed to serving in organizations with clearly defined plans for future growth won’t stick around your church.

3. You’ll get to hone your debating skills as people argue about what to do next.

4. You’ll get to have more meetings! Where there’s no strategy, the meetings flourish.

5. Your church services will turn into a boring routine. Just the same old thing over and over and over again.

6. You don’t have to worry about celebrating success, because no one even knows what success looks like… and you won’t have any.

7. Rather than trying to discern God’s will for your ministry, you can just rely on dumb luck.

8. You don’t have to pray as much, because there’s nothing to pray for. As an added bonus, that means you don’t have to develop as much faith either—whatever happens…happens.

9. You can count the church offerings a lot faster, because people will save their financial gifts for organizations that actually have a plan for the money they receive.

10. Your lack of ministry strategy, which IS a strategy, will give you the results you currently have.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Mind Dump



  • 9:00 PM Sunday Night. Just got home about 45 minutes ago. I’ve been going all day long. I’m beat. I guess you could say I'm dog tired. Two services this morning (which always takes a lot out of me). After church today I spent the afternoon in two different hospitals. One man (associated with our church) is having open heart surgery in the morning, (6:30 AM) so I stopped by for a visit. While in his room my wife called telling me that her mother was being rushed to the hospital with chest pains. I go there and hang out in the Emergency Room until they get her stabilized. Renae and the rest of her family are still there.

  • Just heard from Renae – her mother is being admitted. Renae is spending the night.

  • I’m home alone… Guess I’ll keep on writing.

  • Church was good today. A lot of people were encouraged by the message – “God is For You.” I felt it resonate within myself too. In fact, I was even encouraged. And you should have seen the cards turned in! They were filled with encouraging notes, commitments to Christ, volunteering to serve, and numerous prayer requests. It was like a dam broke open and out came a flood of desperate cries for help. Our church is full of the walking wounded.

  • Ch-ch-ch-changes…. Usually during the summer months we launch some type of ministry initiative to keep the momentum going, but we are not doing that right now. We’ve already had Baptism Sunday, Student Life Camp and Vacation Bible School, which were three big events back-to-back. All our workers need a break. Besides, it’s the middle of the summer and is vacation time for a lot of families. But I will tell you that we are working diligently behind the scenes right now on some issues that need to be addressed. This is going to result in some significant changes at PCC. We are working on upgrades, and improving some of our systems. All of this is in preparation for the August-September time frame. We want to be in position to handle what God is going to do in our midst. I will be posting more about these changes in a week or so.

  • FACEBOOK – Okay. I have opened a Facebook Account. I don’t think I’m going like it. I can’t figure the stupid thing out. Besides, I might be too old for this social network. But since I have had some 40 requests to be listed as a “Friend” I decided to cave in and give it a try. Tonight I added 16 friends. What is the purpose of FaceBook anyhow? I don’t get it. If it is inter-active, maybe we can chat… unlike on my blog which (usually) remains closed to comments. There are too many crackpots and kooks out there who log on to my blog. Will Facebook be any different? I don’t know. If you’d like to be connect, I’m willing.

  • Does this mean that I am ‘cool’ now?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Bible for "Sophisticated Dummies"


25At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. (Matthew 11:25)

Through storytelling and parables, Jesus made God’s truth more accessible and understandable to the common person. He taught in a way that did not require sophisticated theological scholarship to decipher the meaning behind His words. The Sermon on the Mount, for example, is beautiful in its simplicity. But on one occasion, Jesus made it even simpler. He was asked what is the greatest command of all. His response, found in Matthew 22:36-40, was so simple that anyone could understand. He said, “Love God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your soul.” Then He added, “the second greatest commandment is like the first, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.” Then came the clincher, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In a sweeping simplification of thousands of years of Jewish teaching, Jesus summed up God’s law in a way that anyone could understand.

Love God. Love your neighbor. That’s it. That’s the “Bible for (sophisticated) Dummies.” This must have been so refreshing and liberating to the common people who were used to being manipulated by the complexity of teachings coming from their religious leaders. (Incidentally, listen to what Jesus had to say about these teachers: “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them… Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves will not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” [Matt.23:4, 13]).

These two commands are commands that we must obey with our WHOLE being – totally and completely. They sit above the many detailed requirements of the Old Testament Law, as well as the books of the Prophets, because it recognizes that all forms of obedience to God must first and foremost flow out of our love for Him. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their legalism that was devoid of any love for God or for their fellow man, and He equated loving our neighbors with loving God. So then, if we truly love God, we will express it by loving our neighbors, and when we truly love our neighbors, it expresses our love for God.

There are some hurting people in our community who need an expression of compassion extended towards them that you are called to give.

Let’s be a different kind of church.

This Sunday


This Sunday's Message is "God is For You"


healing... hope... and help

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Beware the Leaven


Matt. 16:6, “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Verse 12, “Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”

When I was in college I took an English course in liberal arts. In this class we would study a story or a poem, and then read into it whatever meaning we felt existed within. This exercise was designed to encourage creative thinking and develop deeper thoughts. The more wild and absurd our speculations, the more satisfied the instructor became. It was as if she didn’t really care about the actual content of the written piece, only our suppositions. This was incredibly frustrating for me. Instead of finding out what the author was really saying, we were pushing our agenda on their works, making the books or poems say what we wanted them to say.

Can you see the parallels within Christianity?


Quote of the Day


Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Christians Shouldn't Judge is a MYTH


If you would ever like to see people get up in arms, simply call something sin and begin speaking out about behaviors or lifestyles that God forbids. 

It won’t be long before somebody (who otherwise doesn’t have much use for the Bible) begins to pipe up and suddenly quote Matthew 7:1…. “Judge not that ye be not judged” and wax eloquent about the virtues of tolerance.

The idea that Jesus (or the Bible) forbids us to judge is a myth. It is another silly idea that cannot stand up to the actual words of the Scriptures. Refusing to make judgment calls, or call sin for what it is, is NOT what Jesus commands. The text in Matthew 7:1 (which is so often misquoted and misapplied) is simply telling us not to judge improperly.


Today, tolerance is the catch-word for every bizarre belief, every behavior, and every standard of morality. We have been conditioned by society, and the misapplication of Scriptures, to tolerate anything and everything. As a result, in most circles, disagreeing with someone else’s beliefs, morals, or lifestyle is considered to be a major social faux pas, and a sure sign of being an arrogant bigot. And when someone glibly quotes Matthew 7:1, they are (presumably) taking the moral high road of tolerance and sanctimony, while you are  the judgmental one.

There’s only one problem with that view: That’s not what Jesus actually said, and it is certainly not what He meant. He not only told His followers TO judge, but gave them instructions on HOW TO judge PROPERLY. And for the record, Jesus did quite a bit of judging Himself!

In fact, it would be extremely strange for Jesus to tell us to never judge in Matthew 7:1 when just a few verses later, in verse 6, he tells Christians to beware “dogs” and “pigs” so that we don’t waste time giving them knowledge of God. The only way you can tell a metaphorical “dog” or “pig” is to form opinions or make judgments about people and their actions! There are, in fact, many more verses in the New Testament that exhort believers to judge other people (i.e., Matt. 7:15-16; John 7:24; 1 Cor. 5:9; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Phil. 3:2; 1 John 4:1; 1 Thess. 5:21).

Why We Need to Judge
If we are not allowed to make moral and spiritual judgments, then we have no objective way to distinguish between truth & error, or morality & immorality. But Jesus, and the NT, tells us precisely how to judge because some belief systems are simply wrong and some lifestyles are flat out sinful. Judgments should be made through a scriptural filter in order to distinguish between light and darkness. After all, Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit.

If we refuse to label certain behaviors that Jesus called sin, choosing cultural tolerance instead, then we are disagreeing with Jesus, and not following His Word.

The truth is Christians SHOULD judge and they should also NOT judge – both are true. We are not permitted to condemn, criticize, or pass ecclesiastical judgments upon people. Neither are we allowed to be a fault finder, for that too is sin. But we are permitted to judge false doctrines, the worthiness of potential elders, leaders, politicians, lifestyles, and a variety of other behaviors so as to discern between good & evil. What makes judging right or wrong is the spirit, motive, or attitude in which the judging is being done.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things…… ( I Corinthians 2:15a)



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Life Beyond Initial Belief


The beginning of our spiritual journey begins with the emphasis upon ourselves. It’s all about God identifying with us. What's more, God presents Himself to us this way in scripture....
  • Jesus became a man
  • He is touched with feelings our infirmities…
  • He was tempted in all points like we are…
  • And our prayers follow suit, usually sounding like this - forgive me, bless me, I’m so bad, make me better, get me out of this mess, etc.

But over time we move beyond ourselves and grow to the place where our emphasis shifts more towards God and less upon ourselves. Suddenly it’s not about God identifying with us, but rather US identifying with Him. Now we are…

  • Seated with Christ in heavenly places
  • Being conformed to the image of His Son
  • Ambassadors for Christ
  • Presenting ourselves to God as living sacrifices

At this stage, we don’t have to be ‘talked into’ doing God’s will. We just do it! When it comes to duties like giving, prayer, time in God’s Word, worship, being in church, volunteering, serving, etc, no one has to beg, plead, or guilt-trip us into compliance. We are glad to do it. Commands like deny yourself and take up your cross are incorporated into our daily lives voluntarily, and with joy.

The Bible teaches both of these emphasises as a natural process in our spiritual journey; and it’s important that we understand the difference between the two, keep them in balance, and give each one their proper place in our life.

It is also important to recognize which stage others might be in, so as not to lose patience with them.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Two Amazing Quotes for Today

  • "Can you trust God when there is no evidence of His activity in your life?"

  • "God seems to take broken things and do amazing work."

Andy Stanley....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Consumer Christianity



Instead of the regular Sunday Mind Dump I thought I'd post a follow up to this mornings message:

Consumerism in the business world is based upon customer satisfaction. The product or the service must be tailored to the wants, desires, and needs of the customer. In this paradigm the customer rules, because if there is no customer, there is no profit, and therefore, no business. Hence the philosophy, “The customer is always right.”

This very mentality has conditioned the American public to expect the same treatment and consideration in churches. Yet, in Biblical Christianity it is exactly the opposite – God rules, not the parishioner. God's agenda is not customer satisfaction, keeping everyone happy, or responding to pubic opinion polls. He is not looking for customers, He’s looking for disciples.

A couple of years ago a lady asked us, “Have you even bothered to poll the congregation to ask them what ‘they’ want?” In this painful incident she was demanding that we bend our church in a certain direction, (to meet her demands, yes demands), but we could not. The Bible has already outlined the mission of the church and the cost of discipleship, and is therefore ‘fixed.’ It makes no attempt to make itself popular. In fact, it risks its popularity by its severity. God is not intimidated when people threaten to ‘take their business elsewhere’ - and church leaders would do well to follow suit. Otherwise, they will end up with a church full of fickle saints who can never be satisfied and will change loyalties at the drop of a hat.

Even today, a card was turned in by a first-time guest who indicated the teaching was too hard. Among other things, this couple said they "need a church" that is "more loving and accepting" than we are. Say what? Did they miss the fact that John Chapter 6 are the words of Jesus Himself? Do we just take that part of the Bible and throw it out, or ignore it altogether? Which is more important, being faithful to God by delivering the 'whole counsel' of His Word, or offering selected softer portions of the Word that might be more palatable for people who are used to a diet of milk and possess a caviar appetite? With that note it became apparent to me that the 'consumer mentality' is still alive and well.

In contrast, eight others turned in cards indicating they were making a commitment in their spiritual journey; four committed to Christ, three offered to volunteer/serve in a specific area, and one wanted to find a small group to join. Other first time guests turned in cards indicating they wanted to find out more about PCC! I met a new couple in the atrium who said they will be back. About a dozen people spoke to me about how good the Word was today. One lady even said, "Thank you pastor for speaking to us like this... it's so important that people be 'all in.'"

People who have a heart that longs for God get it. The others don't.

BTW, I don't think you can find a more loving & accepting church in the entire area than Pace Community Church! It would be a mistake for that couple to judge eleven years of ministry, and some 450 people in our church family, by one church service; it completely overlooks the love, service, and self-sacrifice that exists among the PCC family as our members minister 'love and acceptance' to one another on a consistent basis. It also overlooks the 'balance' that I offer in my teaching schedule. The Bible says, "Behold the goodness AND the SEVERITY of God" (Romans 11:22), and that is a double edged sword that I strive to present in my teaching. I think it produces better disciples. And for the record, the Bible is the same way no matter what church a person attends. You can change churches, but when you get over there and open your Bible you will find it reads the same way over there as it does here. Just because you change churches doesn't mean that God is going to change His Word.

When Biblical teaching is adhered to, in an unadulterated form, then holiness and fruitfulness will follow. God’s blessings will be apparent. People will be saved, they will grow into disciples, and become servants who sacrifice themselves for the cause of Christ.

In our maturity process we come to realize that the Christian life is more about what God expects from us, rather than what we can get from Him.

What a great church we have! It is full of disciples and we've never had to compromise the gospel to achieve it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Who Influences You the Most?


He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20).

All of us come under the influence of other people in some measure. It is the people that we ‘open’ ourselves up to the most that influence us the most. This can have both positive and negative implications. Think of an immature teenager who begins hanging out with the wrong crowd; eventually he/she begins to mimic their behavior. On the other side is the person who spends time with spiritually healthy people; in time they are influenced in a positive way. You get the idea.

In the Bible there is a story of a man named Joash who was king in Jerusalem. During his reign the Bible says he “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” This happened as long as he was under the influences of a godly priest named Jehoiada. After this priest died Joash began listening to wicked people who offered him ungodly advice; the Bible describes them as the “officials of Judah,” and were eventually able to convince the king to abandon his walk with God. What’s more, when the new priest, Zechariah, who happened to be the son of Jehoiada, the former priest, came to talk to the king and urge him not to forsake his walk with God, he was stoned to death! You can read the story in 2 Chronicles 24:1-2, 17-22.

How does a righteous man turn his back on God and even have people killed who try to talk sense into him? Simple. He started listening to the wrong crowd.

The three greatest influencers in your life should be:

God’s Word. You will not mess up your life if you read the Bible and then do what it says. It’s just that simple. Right behavior, morality, doctrine, conduct, theology, and ministry methodology will never go astray if it has its basis in God’s Word. Read it and live it.

God’s People. It’s important that we spend time with godly people who love the Lord, who are living the life, and bear evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. The cumulative effect of their influence on your life cannot be over stated.

Myself, when it comes to making major decisions at our church, I do not do so without the input of godly people who I know and trust. There is great safety and wisdom in having a multitude of counselors.

Let me be very blunt here. We need to seek the advice of people who truly love God. We can always find a group of self-serving fools that will affirm our sin and dysfunction because by doing so it allows them to justify ‘their’ lifestyle.

God’s Church. When you come to church on a regular basis and walk in with a prepared heart ready to hear from God, you will often find that God DOES speak to you in very direct ways. Almost every Sunday people come up to me after service and say something like, “Pastor that message today was exactly what I needed to hear” or “I was just reading and studying that very same passage this week” or “God really spoke to me today” - which amazes me because I wasn’t directing any of my comments towards these persons. When that happens I instantly realize that it is not about me. It is simply God doing what He does – speaking to people who have prepared their hearts.

Who you listen to will ultimately determine what you do. Life is too short for us to be making one bad decision after another because we follow fools. We need God, His Word, the Church, and each other. The only question is, “Who are we listening to?”

Be blessed and make smart decisions.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Men . . . .


A man was driving down a street when he noticed a traffic camera flashed.He thought his picture was taken for exceeding the speed limit, even though he knew he was not speeding.

Just to be sure, he went around the block and passed the same spot,driving even more slowly, but again the camera flashed. He thought this was quite funny, so he slowed down even further as he drove past the area, but the traffic camera flashed yet again. He tried a fourth time with the same result. The fifth time he was laughing when the camera flashed as he rolled past at a snail's pace.

Two weeks later, he got five traffic fine letters in the mail for driving without a seat belt.

Men . . . .

(Thanks Melinda for the humorous story)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Got Pulled Over Today


I just found out that the new seat belt law that came into effect Monday night at midnight is now being enforced. Yikes! On my way to work this morning I came to a four-way stop-sign intersection. There was a State Trooper sitting in his cruiser on the shoulder of the road. I stopped at the sign, waited my turn, then proceeded through the intersection. Immediately he pulled out behind me, flashing lights and all, caught up with me and pulled me over. As he approached my vehical I rolled down my window and asked, “Did I do something wrong, officer?” He said, “You didn’t have your seat belt on.”

Pretty dumb of me, I thought. Not a safe way to drive… and now I’m facing a stupid ticket!

He asked me for my drivers’ license and proof of insurance. I handed the two cards to him and he said, “This insurance card is expired. Do you have another?” Now I’m digging deeper in my wallet and I find about six insurance cards…. that go all the way back to 2005… to a green Ford explore that we don’t even own any longer! When I found a card that was only one year old, I handed that one to him and said, “This is the most current one I have.”

By now I’m thinking of the movie “Dumb and Dumber” and I’m the main character. I’m in deep doo-daw and it’s getting deeper by the moment.

He sits in his car about fifteen minutes, doing a background check, or whatever it is that cops do when they’re sitting in their car behind you. I’m dying by now. All I can see are those flashing lights in my review mirror… and hoping to God that nobody I know comes driving by right now. I thinking, “What’s taking him so long? He must be writing three or four tickets – one for the seat belt, one for the expired insurance card, and two more for being dumb.”

He gets out of his cruiser and walks to my window. He says, “Your fine for the seat belt violation is $101. But I’m letting you go with a warning.” I said, “Thanks.” He went on to say, “However, the expired insurance card will cost you $10, and you will have to go to the courthouse and show them that you actually do have insurance. If you don’t do this within thirty days, the fine will jump from $10 to $100.” I said, “I have insurance and going to the courthouse won’t be a problem.” After that he let me go. “I got lucky,” I thought.

I pull back out and drive down to highway 90 to take care of some personal business. After I get though I drive back the same way I had just come from. As I approached the SAME intersection, but now from the opposite direction, this same State Trooper is sitting there in the same spot again. So I come to a complete stop, wait my turn and proceed through, ensuring my shoulder strap is pulled across my chest. As I drive by the State Trooper he recognizes me and waves. I wave back.

I learned two lessons today:
  • It’s time to clean out my wallet
  • And always wave at State Troopers