Category: Spiritual

The Law of the Circles

Are you a Christian?  Do yourself a favor and watch this video of Bob Warren explaining The Law of the Circles.  It is well worth your time.

9 Easy-to-Steal Habits of the Super Successful

One of the things that always sparks my interest is the differences in the successful and the unsuccessful.  This blog post at Fast Company on 9 Easy-to-Steal Habits of the Super Successful is one of the better lists I have read showing some of those differences.  As I read this list, I thought of how this is a list that every leader in the church should read as well.

There are a lot of good ones in this list which I won’t cover, but there are a few I do want to point out.

The one that struck me the most in this post is “Lead, Don’t Dictate”.  This is a leadership principle that I hear over and over, and one that I think ever single person who is in any sort of “leadership” role should reflect upon.  Are you leading?  I think there are roles for managers (people that manage processes or people to accomplish a task), and I think there are roles for coaches/mentors (people who help guide others, though they aren’t necessarily in the trenches of the day-to-day job themselves), but this world is sorely short on leaders (people who have a vision and are willing to jump into the battle to lead their team toward that vision).

As I read back on those words, I am not sure I have adequately defined that, and even more so I see how much work I need to do to be a real leader both in my professional career and in my role in my church.  Much to ponder on this one …

Another one that struck me as very important is “Keep Promises, No Matter How Small”.  Wow, this one makes me sick at my stomach.  Why?  I fail at this.  It isn’t that I tell someone something that I don’t intend to do, it is that I forget I have told them that.  This is a real issue for me, and I suspect it is for others too.  What sometimes happens is that I commit to something and I don’t write it down.  Perhaps that commitment is not that important to me, though it is to the person I committed to.  Because I don’t write it down, it escapes me, and I don’t follow through.  Wow, I now see I need to work much harder on this one.

Another one I struggle with is “Take Breaks”.  In fact, I am reminded about this often from people who are around me.  Candidly, I know they are right.  No one is effective if they work all the time without taking a break.  In fact, Stephen Covey said it well with Habit 7 from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

You can renew yourself through relaxation. Or you can totally burn yourself out by overdoing everything. You can pamper yourself mentally and spiritually. Or you can go through life oblivious to your well-being. You can experience vibrant energy. Or you can procrastinate and miss out on the benefits of good health and exercise. You can revitalize yourself and face a new day in peace and harmony. Or you can wake up in the morning full of apathy because your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone.

There are several other good ones in this list, some of which I have adopted (#1 comes to mind immediately) and some of which I still need to work on (#9 comes to mind immediately).  Now the challenge of the day for me, and perhaps others too, is to work on those areas where I am weak, and to strengthen those areas where I am strong, so I can be the best example I can be – the best leader I can be.  This isn’t just about our professional lives either.  As I said in the opening paragraph, this applies to leadership in our churches, and that doesn’t solely mean the pastor.  It means everyone in a position of “leadership” in the church.  It also means our homes, our personal life, and everything we do.  After all, a leader isn’t just a leader in part of their life; leaders are leaders all the time.

Tribute to Bob Warren

Yesterday this world lost a great man, Bob Warren, but let there be no doubt, he left this life and walked into Paradise to spend eternity.

I was not fortunate enough to have known Bob Warren as well as others may have.  I never attended a camp at The Hill.  I was never fortunate enough to sit and study the Bible with him.  I was blessed, however, with multiple opportunities to talk with him about many things as we stood on the sidelines of a football practice or a football game.

Bob, and his wife Kim, chose to homeschool their son, Ben, just as Charity and I have homeschooled our boys.  Charity met Kim a number of times through the years at homeschool events, and always felt she had the sweetest spirit about her.  We only met Bob sometime later when their son, Ben, wanted to play football.  Football is a tough sport for homeschoolers.  It is expensive, requires a lot of practice, and it requires a lot of boys.  Even so, Bob didn’t let that discourage him.  He helped Ben pursue that dream, and through a lot of hard work and coordination, The West Kentucky Warriors were formed.

Despite being a professional basketball player earlier in his life, Bob didn’t overexert his presence at the practices or the games, but he made sure that the team always had a spiritual focus, giving the glory to God for everything.  I not only saw that though, I saw a terrific dad supporting his son in pursuit of a dream.

Last year Ben graduated high school, and perhaps one of the last pictures I have that Bob was included in was the picture of Bob, Kim, and Ben being honored on the field during the last game.

Bob, Kim, and Ben Warren at Ben's last football game.

Bob, Kim, and Ben Warren at Ben’s last football game.

I will never forget Bob Warren, and I know that I am only one of many, many others who believe the same.  He has left behind a legacy that is powerful, a legacy that was centered on Christ, family, and loving others.  I am truly better off for being privileged to know him.

My heart goes out to Kim and to Ben.  Bob was taken all too early for any of us, but there is no doubt where he is right now.  May the Lord comfort Kim and Ben during this time, and may they be comforted knowing that Bob was welcomed into eternity with the Master saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant!

Four Leadership Lessons From Nehemiah

I came across an interesting blog post the other day titled, “Four Leadership Lessons From Nehemiah“.

I would like to add a disclaimer before I get into the meat of this post.  I have not checked out the church from whose blog I read this.  While I normally do that, I didn’t feel these points were impacted by theology.  

  1.  Leadership Is Providential – While I agree with the Patterson’s point on this, I struggle with it too.  I believe God ordains each of us for our work, but by simply saying leadership is providential, it makes it seem as if leadership doesn’t fall into our lap, God hasn’t ordained it.  Sometimes God provides us the skills and the calling, and sometimes I believe God expects us to develop those skills.  I think this goes along with point number three.
  2. Leadership is Spiritual Hard Work – Perhaps a better way to say this is “Leadership should be spiritual hard work.”  In fact, I am not sure the discussion behind this point supported the point as well as I expected it to, though the point still holds true.  Good, godly leaders are not just leading, but they are supporting those they lead in prayer.  If it were only that, it would be simple and easy.  Good godly leaders also consider those they are leading to be more than employees or “followers”.  In fact, just like the Bible tells us in Romans 12:15, we should, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  You should consider those you lead, especially those you have direct influence over, to be a significant part of your life.
  3. Leaders Use Projects to Build People – This is a powerful point that I would not have gotten on my own reading Nehemiah.  All too often in today’s world, this principle is thought of backwards.  People are thought of as a means to complete a project, but that is not how it should be.  We can see other examples in the Bible of this as well, the one most coming to mind is the disciples.  The interesting truth behind this, which isn’t stated, is that by using projects to build people, the people you lead will then complete the projects better.  By placing the growth of those you lead above the projects they are assigned to, you ultimately end up with better, stronger people doing better, stronger work.  This can be a slipperly slope though, as one can fall into the trap of attempting to grow people so that projects will be done better, which ultimately fails as the leader’s heart is not really on their people.
  4. Leaders Persevere – I loved the quote from Mark Dever in this section of the article.  Mark states, “A godly leader keeps leading.”  What else is there?  If God has put leading others on your heart, then leading is what you do.  Trials come.  Challenges happen.  Projects are completed.  Jobs are finished.  Even so, leaders keep leading.

One of my long-term goals is to be the best leader possible, and these four principles are certainly ones to keep in mind, especially #2 and #3.  It seems to me that the greatest task a leader has is using their influence as a leader to build up the people they lead.  As I see it, the foundation of this is both the second and third points from above.

Who Deserves All the Praise and Glory?

Who deserves all the praise and glory?  God, right?  Do we deserve any of it?  NO!  Why is it that we feel we do then?  Why do we always seek to claim praise and glory?  Aside from our sinful nature, it is because we are comparing ourselves to other humans, and in that instant we might have done something in our lives better than another human.

Now, let me ask: Have you ever felt really good about how something turned out, only to later find you totally messed it up?  What happened?  All too often we aren’t good enough to understand what good is.  It reminded me of these three examples:

  • A friend of mine had a son who was the best in the state of Kentucky at one point for his discipline of martial arts.  He told us once that when someone gets to black belt, they begin to realize that they have only started to understand karate.  What?  Black belts are experts, right?  NO!  They are people who finally have enough knowledge to see how little they know.
  • When I first took up photography, I really thought I had a natural eye.  I thought that even though I wasn’t as good as the great photographers, I could compete.  As a means of seeking affirmation of my greatness, I posted some pictures on a photography forum full of professionals.  The resounding sound I heard was something like, “You aren’t even to the point we can help you yet.  You need to learn the basics.”  This infuriated me.  After all, I could plainly see that I was taking high-quality shots!  It is only now, years and years later, that I see how poor my work was then.
  • I have played chess much of my life, but it was only after I was an adult that I really took it up.  A friend of mine at that time, a guy I worked with, purchased a dedicated handheld chess machine.  We would play this on the highest level, because obviously we were that good.  Of course, the machine would beat us terribly!  The funny thing was we thought the machine was cheating!  Why?  Because we weren’t even good enough to understand how the machine was checkmating us!  It was only sometime later that we realized how foolish we had been.

So how does this apply to us?  If we think we have done something good or praiseworthy, it is only because we have yet to gain the maturity to understand how far from good we are.  There is only one example of good – that is God.  If we think we have done something good, it is because we are only comparing ourselves to other broken, imperfect humans.  Once we gain that maturity, it is then that we see the only one who deserves our praise and glory is God, and we would be best if we humbly avoided praise for our good deeds, for they are nothing in comparison to what He did for us.

What Are You Wearing?

As I was reading through Matthew chapter 22 some time back, I realized there is more to the message there than I had understood in the past.  I feel this is powerful stuff for Christians to understand.  Pull up a chair and let’s go through this.

Matthew 22: 2 “The kingdom of heaven (note: this is talking about the kingdom of heaven.  We should pay attention.) may be compared to a king (the king is representative of the Father) who gave a wedding feast for his son (the Son, Jesus). 3 And he (the Father) sent out his slaves (His prophets) to call those who had been invited (the Hebrew people) to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 Again he (the Father) sent out other slaves (His prophets) saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered (I can’t help but to wonder if this is a reference to sacrifices) and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”‘ 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business (these two were placing the things of the world before the Father), 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them (this is the Hebrew people killing the prophets). 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire (Perhaps this is speaking of the Hebrew people who go to hell.). 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ (This is taking the good news to the world.) 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, (This would be the person who might have accepted Christ in word but with no heart-felt change.) 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Once again, hell.) 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Everyone can be saved, but not everyone is; however, I wonder if this is more restrictive.  For example, is the man who isn’t dressed for the wedding the person who at the end will share all they did for God, to which God will respond, “I never knew you.”?)

I believe there are many people sitting in church pews today who will not reside in heaven for eternity.  They are the casual Christian who might be able to point to the good works they did (lead a committee, teach Sunday School, or even serve as a deacon or pastor), but in reality they never made a heart-felt change; they never committed to Jesus as their King.

So the question we should ask ourselves is what are we wearing?  Are we not dressed at all for a wedding?  Perhaps we are in acceptable wedding clothes but not in our best.  I think being invited to this banquet would be an occasion to wear our best.  Or are you wearing your best “wedding clothes”?

I do want to be careful – I don’t believe acceptance to heaven has anything to do with works.  It is only by the acceptance of the sacrifice of the Lamb.  Yet, acceptance of that sacrifice means we turn our allegiance from the world to the real King.  By allegiance I don’t mean simply words saying we accept Christ.  Is that really allegiance?  I mean serving the King!

Now, this begs the question: Who do you serve?

Mission Complete

The title to this post is a bit misleading. Perhaps it would be said better if I just said, “WE ARE HOME!!!” That is a victory in itself, but that doesn’t mean that a huge part of me is not still in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi with my friends, both Choctaw and the mission team for the week.

I thought this might be a good post to give everyone an overview of the entire week. Some of the things we did included:

  • A four-day VBS program orchestrated by our new friend, Rachel.


  • A five-day adult Bible study mostly led by our friend Jeanne, from Wellington, New Zealand (yes, our team is international!)
  • A evening at the Choctaw Fair, where we watched the first half of the stickball game where Bok Cito (Bogue Chitto) won against Pearl River. Go Bok Cito!


  • A local Choctaw taught many on our team how to weave stickballs. Totally cool!


  • Lots of impromptu stickball games in the front of the church where we stayed between locals and some kids on the mission team.
  • A gigantic slip and slide – what fun!


  • Several visits to a local retirement home from which lots of great stories were told.
  • We helped a local pastor and his wife move.
  • Eyeball Pictures.  😀


  • Prayer walks, where we pray for communities, services, leadership, etc. This was a great experience.
  • Covering prayer, where we covered the rest of our group in prayer as they went about their tasks.
  • An obstacle course.


  • We spend most of a day cleaning a local church.
  • Fantastic Indian Tacos


  • Old friends and new friendships


  • And much, much more.

When we left this morning, and even last night before bed, hugs were exchanged, laughter happened, tears fell, and hearts were bonded. I love the folks in Bogue Chitto, and honestly, I miss them already. I would name names, but there are so many that touched me, so many relationships that were built, so many that I feel bonded to, I worry I would miss one. Each and every one is important to me.

Have you ever been on a mission trip? Have you ever devoted a significant amount of time making the difference in the life of another? If not, you really shouldn’t put it off any more. Consider partnering with a mission group, perhaps even a Native American mission group, and use what you have been blessed with to make the difference in the lives of others.

VBS in Bogue Chitto

I am waking for the last full day here in Bogue Chitto this year.  It’s hard to believe it is almost over, and it is hard to believe how God has orchestrated this differently than last year.

We were supposed to end VBS one night earlier, but we decided to go on one more night with a fun activity – a giant slip and slide!

Though I took pictures of the slip and slide, it was only with my proper camera, so I have no way to share that here yet.  I do have a picture from Wednesday though:


VBS is now over, and today we will spend the day connecting with folks one last time. Our team is going to use that time to give a local church a major cleaning.

If you would like to donate to help pay for our trip, it’s not too late.  Just head over to GoFundMe and see our page on Choctaw Mission 2014.

More to come later.


I had a great experience last night working with a young man at our vacation Bible school. Obviously something was wrong, and none of us had been able to get the young man to talk. Finally, he began talking to me last night. After he did we really began to connect and it was the first time I have seen him smile. Tonight he’s going to come back and were going to play a little bit with my camera which really interested him. I’m not sure what’s going on in his life, but I really hope that this makes a difference for him.

We have just finished visiting the Choctaw Residential Center. This is a nursing home in the Philadelphia area. No one on my team feels particularly called to this ministry, but we all had a good time. I worked a puzzle with a nice lady name Shirley and a young man named John was there visiting his grandmother. The rest of the team played ball with several of the residents. It sounded like they were having a good time.


If you would like to donate to help pay for our trip, it’s not too late.  Just head over to GoFundMe and see our page on Choctaw Mission 2014.

Choctaw Stickball

Have you ever heard of Stickball?  No, I don’t mean baseball, and I don’t mean lacrosse.  The Choctaw Indians, as well as some other tribes, play a game called Stickball.  Though I am probably off a little on the specifics, it is roughly 100 people on a football sized field, each with two stick with a tiny basket on the end.  The players are attempting to get a ball about the size of a golfball from one end of the field to the other without using their hands: throwing, scooping, and carrying, though you wouldn’t want to carry the ball far.  You see, if you are carrying the ball, you are fair game for something like a tackle in football, though much more rough.

By the time this post goes live, my family, my home-based church, and several other folks will be watching the final game of the World Series of Stickball.  They don’t play the final game until late in the evening, so we may not stay to watch it all, though my plans are to do so.

Last year it was amazing to watch the teams come on the field.  There were so many players, and the teams were generally led by drummers who pounded on their war drums.  The players hit their sticks together in a most menacing way, letting out war cries as they took the field.  This is, to these young men, no game.  They are here to win.

This is a picture of a player from the winning team last year, which was Beaver Dam:

A player from Beaver Dam prior to the game.

A player from Beaver Dam prior to the game.


And last year’s runners up prior to the final game:

Koni Hata before the game

Koni Hata before the game

And finally, some action from the final game:

Beaver Dam vs. Koni Hata

Beaver Dam vs. Koni Hata

This year the final game is Saturday, July 12th, and will start sometime after this post goes live.  With any luck Bok Cito (Bogue Chitto) will be in the final match.  Lot’s of love to that team, which is the town where our mission trip is based. UPDATE: Bok Cito won in the semi-finals against last year’s champion, Beaver Dam. They will face Pearl River tonight in the finals.

If you would like to donate to help pay for our trip, it’s not too late.  Just head over to GoFundMe and see our page on Choctaw Mission 2014.