Archive for February, 2012

I got an e-mail message from Kyra Hammett that The Nate Show (which I don’t watch on principle 🙂 ) today was highlighting upcycled art.  What is upcycled art you ask?  Good question!

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.

It’s like the Macgyver of the art world.  You take pieces that in-and-of-themselves seems like mundane, ordinary, or even – junk and you use them to create something of greater purpose and value:

Ordinary items or junk

and you turn it into this:

An Upcycled Bike Handlebar Bag w/reflectors

In the same way – God takes what seems like mundane, ordinary – and sometimes “junk” people and through the power of the Holy Spirit  he “Upcycles” our life into greater purposes and beauty!

So, this Sunday, we begin a new message series out of 1 Corinthians entitled “Upcycled Church.”  It will be an expository series as we walk through 1 Corinthians together.  Because of that – if you have a Bible – you are encouraged to bring it…along with a friend (or two…or 15!)

One last thing:  In conjunction with the Upcycled Message series we are working on an upcycled art project.  To help us, you are invited to bring us your “trash” over the next several weeks.  We will be collecting items that represent you…anything will do:  cans, bottles, a pair of jeans, a gift from a relationship you’ve left behind, wrappers, shredded paper…anything.  And with your trash, we will form a piece of art that represents for Living Stones:  We want an upcycled life.  If you have questions, feel free to send an e-mail to Jennae Gee here.

Greg either napping or illustrating the finer point of planking in my office.

OK…that title might sound too much like an eulogy piece.  Fortunately, Greg has not died *breathe a sigh of relief.*  UNFORTUNATELY (for us), Greg and his family are moving to Kansas City, MO to become the Next Steps Pastor for the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.

Greg got a call last September from one of his best friends and a minister on staff with the church in Kansas City informing him of a new position they were creating and how he thought Greg would be perfect for it.  Because Greg & Wendi were in the process of adopting two boys from Russia they passed on the opportunity, but not without Greg’s friend encouraging him to prayerfully consider the possibility.  And then…the friend called again and REALLY encouraged Greg to consider, given his passions and gift-set, the position.  Ultimately, Greg interviewed with the church and received an affirmation and calling to go serve in Kansas City.  I’m sad to see Greg go.  I have greatly appreciated his work, leadership, and friendship during his time at Living Stones.  But I too had to confess that when I heard about the details of the new position – I knew Greg would be great at it!

Even though we announced to the church a few weeks ago his future plans, THIS Sunday will be Greg’s last Sunday with us at the Living Stones Church.  We know God has been a part of this whole process, including the successful sale of his home (like in record time…there are three houses for sale in his neighborhood and the average duration of being on the market before a final sale is over 250 days!).  Continue to pray for Greg, Wendi, Etara, Adam, Alex, and Nick as they begin a new work and a new life in Kansas City, MO.

Communitas – is an intense community spirit, the feeling of solidarity and togetherness achieved by sharing in a common experience.

What are Communitas Groups?  Go HERE and listen to the last two podcasts (if time is limited…pick the second part of the two).  In it, I describe the vision and philosophy of our small groups ministry as we launch the first week of March our NEW Communitas Groups.


Sign up HERE to be in a group.  There are 12 different groups meeting at different times with different leaders and different formats (e.g., men/women, etc.).  I am VERY excited to see what God does through these groups on our quest to become spiritually fit – ready for ANYTHING!!

I haven’t blogged about the Biggest Loser in a long time.  I’ve been a loyal fan for quite sometime.  And even though I have fleeting moments of temptation to drop the show, I keep coming back.  I’m not really even sure why.  I’m sure a psychiatrist could work with me to uncover some of the reasons and rationale for it.

I think out of all the seasons, this one is my least favorite.  I think the contestants are the least likable (and I’m not saying that as to who they really are as people, but more in regards to the editing process of the show).

So – let me say to the writers and produces of Biggest Loser:  PLEASE, for all that is good and right…familiarize yourself with this historic scene from Happy Days and let it be a warning and a lesson to where you are headed:

This was the moment!  It was the turning point.  Fonzi “jumped the shark.”  And so did the show.  It was so ridiculous that when it was over, everyone knew that Happy Days had stayed on the air far too long.  The show had “jumped the shark.”

Biggest Loser – you are very close to “jumping the shark.”  Particularly with the showcasing of Conda, and most recently Adrian & Daphne, in all of the drama and conflict.  It is just unnecessary.  New viewers are not going to tune into Biggest Loser because of the drama of personal conflict.  It isn’t that good and other shows top you in the “drama” category.  You might have loyal fans continue to watch, and even do so with peaked interest at the unfolding conflict (much like a train wreck you can’t turn away from), but you risk losing other fans who are exhausted in it and aren’t watching the show for relational conflict, but for what the show was supposed to be about – people turning their lives around through hard work and new habits of life.  Don’t jump the shark!!!!

I was rooting for Adrian & Daphne.  I thought it unfair the first week when they got sent home within 15 minutes after losing the challenge.  And how hard is it to break into a team that already has an established dynamic after a month’s time!!!?  Very unfair.  However, could Adrian and Daphne have handled the situation any worse?  Very unlikable.  Good bye.

Side note for churches:  You too can learn from Happy Days “jump the shark” episode in regards to your ministry, programs, leadership, and vision.  There are a lot of implications for this principle.  What are you doing as a church that “has jumped the shark?”

Out of Town Conferences

Posted: February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Posting has been a little sporadic lately.  I’ve been out of town at a few conferences.  Last Tuesday I left for Dallas, TX to attend Fellowship Church’s C3 Conference.  Because of generous friends, the entire conference is paid for.  I have been (I think) for the past eight years.  I don’t meet many people who have been there as long a I have.  And I think there is a reason for that.  After 1-2 times you kind of get it.  You see Fellowship Church’s ministry philosophy, you know the overall vibe, you get the tone.  It isn’t that you don’t hear great preaching (Judah Smith & Steven Furtick were phenomenal).  But after so many years, there becomes a lot of repetition.  It makes me curious about other conferences and the life-span of conferences in general.  When a church puts on an annual conference do they have to recruit new attendees, or do they have a loyal following?

Yesterday, four of us when to Chicago for a GivingRocket conference.  It was a one day seminar on issues of congregational stewardship.  It was at the Orchard Community Church in Aurora, IL.  It was short, but I thought excellent.

Breaking Bad

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Television

I just finished watching the first four seasons of the show Breaking Bad.  It could be one of my favorite shows of ALL TIME!  It is an excellent story about a mild-mannered chemistry teacher who ends up being a Meth cook to finance treatment he needs for cancer.

The show does an excellent job of illustrating two main points:

1.  How sin, little by little, can take over a life.

2.  Every action has a consequence.

Amazing writing and acting!!!

Mad Dash to Dallas

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve attended the C3 Conference every year for probably the past eight years.  Generous friends who live in Texas invest in me every year by paying for the conference fee, getting me a plane ticket, and providing housing.  And every year, for the last eight years or so I have flown down on the Wednesday afternoon of that week.  So…I had in my head that I was flying down on Wednesday afternoon.

UNTIL…I had sent an e-mail to my friends to confirm the times of pick up from the airport and in it I said, “See you Wednesday at 7:00 pm.”  A little while longer I got a call from my friend to say, “I think your plane leaves today at 4:25 pm!

So…I pull up the itinerary e-mail and sure enough…MY PLANE LEAVES OUT OF THE O’Hare AIRPORT AT 4:25 PM!!!  It is after noon and I’m sitting in my office without a single thing packed thinking I’m leaving the next day.

After the overwhelming panic – I rushed home, backed a bag in the fastest time ever (I hope I remembered underwear) – rushed to Chicago, and made it to the gate with an hour to spare!!  Yes…I’m that good.

I just signed up to participate in the “Running of the Bulls.”

So…to my wife…on Valentine’s Day (see previous post)…sorry!

PS…It was over 60 degrees in Dallas when I arrived and our first stop was Hard Eight Pit BBQ…so…my Valentine’s evening worked out pretty well! 🙂

[This post is in a series of posting about marriage and weddings.  You can find the first five posts herehereherehere, here, and here.]

Husbands – there will probably be some point in your marriage when your wife will tell you, or hint, that she really doesn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day.  Maybe it is because things are financially tight.  Maybe it is because you just finished celebrating some other occasion.  Maybe she is just trying to help alleviate stress in your life.  And she will send you the, “Oh…you don’t have to get me anything for Valentine’s Day” message.  Now listen to this very carefully…


Of course she wants something on Valentine’s day!!!!  That is why she married you!  She didn’t marry you for you looks!  Have you seen yourself naked?!  You are hairy, disheveled, misshapen, and generally repulsive.  She married you for the perpetual security of having a “Valentine” on Valentine’s Day.  You HAVE to get her something.  And it doesn’t even have to be something big.  She wants to know that you invested thought and effort in HER.  Buy her a card, take her out to dinner, buy her flowers, get a stuffed teddy bear…something.  If you can’t afford to get something – make her a card, write her a poem, make her dinner (even if it is TV dinners transferred to the more fancy corning ware plates) by candlelight.  If you don’t…she will remember.  And it will not go well for you…IN ANY AREA!!

One other tip.  It is OK to purchase lingerie.  But you have to buy something else as well.  Because really…buying lingerie is like buying yourself a gift.

You’re welcome.



Dear Living Stoners

Just a reminder that tomorrow morning, Saturday, February 11th @ 10:30 am we are going to have a carnation giveaway.  We are blitzing area businesses (that means we go in and we go out…very little time…almost like a “love ninja” *Barry White voice* ).  Here is the plan, after fluffing the flowers (I have no idea what that even means), we will get our assignment, and then we are off to pass out carnations.  We are only going to pass out carnations to the ladies (sorry guys…no flowers for you).  BUT…for you single dudes, if you hand a girl a flower and say in a creepy voice – “God loves you” while moving your eyebrows up and down…there is no telling what could happen for you (like…a brief stint in jail…or a restraining order).  We highly recommend if you have kids – bring them.  This is a perfect activity for the children because EVERYONE loves to get a flower from a cute little kid.

Read any book on “healthy churches” and there will be a chapter on the importance of small groups.  I feel like I’ve read every one of them.  And when I hear “small groups”, this is what I hear – “blah blah blah blah.”  This is my pastoral confession.  I believe that every Pastor knows they are important, and the hidden secret is that a lot of Pastor’s hate them.

At the Living Stones Church (and even previously as the Donmoyer Ave. Church of Christ) we have tried to do small groups with every known method to man!  We’ve done classic Bible studies, groups based on demographics, groups based on your geographical location, gender-specific accountability groups, the cell-group model (and the cell-group model that was rolled out every year at a conference to be the “new and improved” cell-based model), the semester-based/short-term growth group model, etc.

There are pros and cons to all of those methods.  But in November of 2011 when we had a leadership meeting and we began discussing our small group ministry, I personally felt apathetic, and I didn’t sense a whole lot of excitement in the room of among the other leaders at LSC.


We started applying some principles we had read in a series of blog posts that challenged how churches typically structure themselves for spiritual growth and transformation.  And by the time we were done talking, dreaming, and planning – the whole room lit up with excitement about a new way of thinking and experiencing small groups at Living Stones Church.

Over the next two weeks I want to share that discussion with you and tell you about our plans for small groups and how they are intertwined with spiritual transformation and community (two topics we have talked about for a very long time).

As a hint – the author of the blogs we read, who happens to be a diehard CrossFit coach – used CrossFit as a working analogy and paradigm for the spiritual realm.  I’ll tell you more about it on Sunday!  I’m very excited about it…like uber-excited!