Monday, August 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Owen Daniel!

Today is my son's birthday. We were blessed Owen 4 years ago. Many do not know our story, but there was a time when we didn't know if we would be able to have any children biologically. Then we were blessed in 2005 with a little girl, Abigail Grace. After that we thought we were blessed and probably wouldn't be able to have any more. On Christmas day, 2008, we found out were going to have another child. On August 26, 2009 this little dude entered the world. What a great blessing he is to us!

Of course, I was one proud daddy! I wrote about why we named him Owen Daniel here. And this is still my prayer.

His sister was also proud to have a little brother. She even promised to love him forever!

My wife was also quite grateful for our little boy.

And by the way, the Lord wasn't finished blessing us. We had another son, Judson Elijah, last year.

Happy Birthday Owen. Daddy loves you 'dude-man' very much. May the Lord bless you and keep you all the days of your life!

Monday, August 12, 2013


I just completed our series on Habakkuk. I can't believe how applicable this has been in my life and perhaps in the life of every church member. Though we do not know what it's like being taken into captivity, we can still resonate with this prophet. If you're interested, you can listen to the 11 sermons here.

God is Patient

In my last post I talked briefly about my transition to pastor of Cypress Lake Baptist Church. I'm coming up on the completion of 3 years here as pastor and I am keenly aware that God is extremely patient with His church (and pastors!). I came into this church with a ton of hopes and dreams. Being in a heavily unchurched area I thought the harvest is plentiful and was ready to labor to reap. I had hopes of transitioning the church smoothly and quickly so that we would be a missional church reaching our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had plans and dreams of everyone who was already here joining in on the mission God had given us here in SWFL.

He's patient. He's far more patient than I am. My first year here we saw several visitors, but added maybe 2-3 new members. In fact, there was very little change overall. Everything pretty much stayed the same. Now, I was asked to come lead this church through change, but it wasn't happening. At least, it wasn't happening visibly. Our music stayed the same. Our dress stayed the same. Our structure stayed the same. Our ministries stayed the same. Everything appeared to be the same. And this began to cause some impatience on my part. I was ready to move forward...yesterday! But it didn't seem like God was using me to move this church anywhere.

I was wrong. Just because God doesn't appear to be working or moving doesn't mean He's not (just read Habakkuk 1 and you'll see this to be the case). God was working. He was working in my heart and in the hearts of His people here at CLBC. He was clarifying for me several factors (and still is). He was helping me to see how completely dependent upon Him we really are if we are to see any real, lasting change. He was working in the hearts of our people as many were growing in the Lord and becoming more and more gospel-focused. He was preparing us for whatever His will was in this church.

Looking back I can see the unbelievable amount of growth/change that came even in that first year. Though we didn't add or lose too many people that first year, we made some big decisions and were growing in grace. To put it simply, God was using my feeble attempts at preaching His Word to build up His people. He is patient. He is patient to work in my heart. He is patient to work in His church. But one very clear lesson to learn and to relearn is that though He is patient He is still working in and through His people.

I am grateful to be loved by such a patient God!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Reflecting Back 3 Years Ago

On this day three years ago my family and I were visiting Fort Myers, FL for the first time. We flew in on August 5, 2010 to see the area, meeting with the pastor search committee of Cypress Lake Baptist Church, preach on Sunday, and flew back to North Carolina and then drove to where I was pastoring First Baptist Church in Pulaski, VA. Today I'm reflecting on that time as well as what the Lord has done these past three years.

That first weekend in August was a hot one! It was ridiculously humid and hot. Did I mention it was hot in August? Well, it still is! Anyway, my wife and I immediately loved the area. We like the beach, so being within a few miles of it sounded like a great thing. It's certainly not a big city, but reminds me somewhat of where I grew up in Matthews, NC. And, there were plenty of coffee shops around. All that was good and exciting.

On Saturday, August 7, I was able to meet face-to-face with the search committee. That was my first time meeting all of them face-to-face (we had several phone conversations prior to this). The meeting when well. Though I was still unsure if the Lord would lead us to this church. In fact, the Wednesday night before we flew down to FL we had a fantastic meeting at my church in VA. A meeting that caused me to reconsider whether we should stay or leave. I was torn at this point.

Then came Sunday! Sunday morning was a great joy for me. I preached a sermon from Matthew 16 because I wanted our church to know that Jesus would be responsible for building this church if He chose to do. One thing that drew me, however, was that when I looked over the small congregation I saw diversity. We were not all the same color! And that was really exciting for me. For the evening service I preached a sermon from Matthew 28 because I wanted our church to know that Jesus builds His church through His people being faithful to go and make disciples of all nations. All went well on that Sunday.

However, we were still not 100% sure God would lead us to CLBC. There was the flock in VA that loved us and cared for us deeply. And we loved them. Once we got back to VA it became clear that it was time for us to leave. There was a very uncomfortable feeling about the church. People knew I was preaching at another church in FL and that I may be leaving FBC. At that point it became clear to us, but Cypress Lake had not yet voted to extend a call to me. That came August 15. And it was unanimous. And we excepted. And within a couple weeks we were moving.

I wrote this blog post then describing the hectic schedule moving and settling in Fort Myers.

In the next few days, God-willing, I'll post some reflective thoughts on what God has taught me over the past three years.