All posts filed under: Personal Growth

Win the War, Die to Yourself

Over the past two years, our Student Pastor, Keith Trollinger, has been training and leading me to be the Campus Pastor and Chaplain at the Central School cluster. During the months of August through November, if you were to ask me what I’m doing the answer would most likely be related to football. Part of being the Chaplain for the Central High and Middle School football teams includes being a spiritual leader to the students as well as the coaches and their staff. I’m there on the practice field leading devotionals, in the weight room praying for students before games, and in the multi-purpose room every Tuesday night eating cheap pizza and leading a Bible study with the football team. I have invested a lot of time into these guys and have built strong relationships with a lot of the athletes and coaches. During the first football game of the season for Central High, I caught a glimpse of Keith and immediately thought, “Why is he here? Shouldn’t he be at Carrollton? Who does he think he …

Revisiting What the Time of Remembrance Represents

The night before Jesus was to endure suffering and humiliation for all of mankind, He sat down with His disciples to share in the Passover (Pesach). This is one of three major holidays in Jewish customs. The Passover is to remember what God did for the children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt. Its purpose is to remind the Israelites of the final plague when the angel of death passed over their firstborn and cemented their release from captivity from the Pharaoh (see Exodus 12). During Passover, Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. When He broke the bread, Jesus said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then He took a cup of wine and said “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people — an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you” (Luke 22:19-20). After they finished eating, they sang a hymn and then went out into the …

What Do Your Words Reveal About Your Heart?

When I was a kid, I remember seeing an illustration regarding my words. Maybe you’ve seen this illustration as well: two individuals are put head to head, squeezing toothpaste out of a tube as fast as they can. Once completed, the participants are then instructed to put the toothpaste back inside the tube. As you can imagine, this is an impossible feat and you’re left with a mess. I’m not sure exactly when in my childhood I participated in this experiment, but it has stuck with me for at least 15 years. Usually, if you do this activity with a group of kids, the atmosphere is fun and playful (unless you are the one in charge of cleaning everything afterward) and I think this helped the lesson stick with me. I remember the teacher explaining to us that our words are like the toothpaste, “Once you say something, you can’t take it back. It’s out there.”  Unfortunately, the illustration falls short when it comes to the clean-up. A mess made by toothpaste is much easier …

The Fence of Grace In Life

Wes Seeliger writes in One Inch from the Fence about an old alligator at the Houston Zoo. He nicknamed it “Scarface” because a fellow reptile had chewed a hunk out of his snout. The wound was covered with a grotesque mass of scar tissue that made this 18-foot long gator one of the ugliest most vicious-looking creatures he had ever seen. He tells about the day he and his son fed marshmallows to Scarface. Wire mesh was the only thing that separated them from jaws that could snap a horse’s leg like a twig. And the whole time his hand was just one inch from becoming Seeliger-burger! But there was a fence! And that made all the difference in the world. I love the title of our series on the book of James: the Gospel on the ground. And that’s where life is lived—on the ground; terra firma. But the terra is not always firma! Several times a week, if not every day, we feel the tremors of this adventure called life. Frustration with the kids’ schedules. …

Are You a Believer or a Follower?

Recently through Scripture reading, I’ve come to this conclusion: there is a difference between a believer and a follower, especially when we are talking about Jesus. Christ Believer – Someone who thinks Jesus is God in human flesh. I think that is a pretty good description of a Christ Believer.  This person believes in Christ’ power, authority, and ability to save. But… (Couldn’t you just feel a “but” coming.) But according to scripture, we can not stop at, “I believe.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. – James 2:19 When Jesus walked around with His disciples, He healed many people and cast out many demons.  A common thing we see about these demons is they all believed Jesus was the Son of God.  They believed He was who He said He was, but what good did it do them?  They definitely didn’t become His disciples.  In fact, they often asked Him to go away and leave …

Taming the Destructive Fire of Your Tongue

-written by J.J. Cole A single wooden match weighs .15 grams. It is so light, that its weight cannot even be felt. It produces a small spark and flame, that can easily be pinched out with our fingers.  Nevertheless, when not respected, it can produce a monster that will destroy and even take human life. In 2016 a single spark resulted in 14 lives lost and 10,000 acres of the Great Smoky Mountains to be engulfed in flames, including significant portions of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  A place with several decades of investment and effort that so many of us have visited laid in waste.  But, thanks to resilience placed in the human heart by God, rebuilding is happening. James 3:6 tells us that “the tongue is a flame of fire.” It goes on to explain in descriptive detail that it can “set your whole life on fire.” Basically, James 3:3-10 sternly warns us to respect the tongue, for at its core it is a match. Today, James may have included our fingertips as we …

Question and Grow in the Face of Troubles

Three hurricanes. An earthquake. A collapsed elementary school where 20 children were lost. Hundreds killed, thousands left homeless. Why God? It seems the past several weeks have been filled with nothing but tragedy after tragedy. And, the one question I keep hearing asked and keep seeing posted in social media is, “If God exists then how could He allow these things to happen?” To the unbeliever, I think this is the most difficult question to answer. I often respond with that we cannot try to understand and explain the infinite with a mind that is finite. We cannot attempt to understand the ways of God because His ways are not like our ways. But for the believer, as Jesus and James remind us in their letters, to choose a life of belief is not to choose a life free of pain. The Psalmist says, “The righteous person faces many troubles…” But, it also says, “but the Lord comes to the rescue each time” (Psalms 34:19). Times that bring great pain and seem to defy explanation test our faith. When …

4 Practical Fundamentals for Parents of Millennials

This past week at Southern Hills, Shannon finished the “Adulting” series talking about parenting. I would encourage you to listen if you missed it. It is solid teaching when it comes to parenting biblically. My takeaway: It is never too late to lead and disciple your child.  With that in mind, I’d like to share four fundamental practices to parents. 1. Know who your child is hanging out with and being influenced by.  It’s not just ok, it’s your job to look into the social media platforms of your own child and their friends. See what they are posting on Snapchat and Instagram. Get to know their friends on a personal level as well, and let them get to know you. Build a relationship with them. You never know what your relationship with your teenager’s friends may lead them not to do. I would encourage you to take it a step further and get to know the parents of your child’s friends as well. You don’t have to become best friends, but simply being in the …

Have The Wisdom to Trust And Follow

Wisdom… where does it come from? I had just graduated from the Fire Academy after months of rigorous and sometimes overly repetitive training. We learned to do the same simple task in the dark, in the heat, in a smoke-filled room, and under stress, over and over and over. But the one bit of information that was tattooed into our brains was, “Watch your Captain and do what he does and what he tells you without hesitation because he has the experience and the wisdom.” One of my first responses after training was a “possible gas leak” at a residence. As we got off the truck I began to follow my Captain to the back of the residence to investigate the issue, although there appeared to be no apparent emergency. He was several steps in front of me and as I turned the corner of the house I saw him running towards me. He was yelling something that I could not hear, but my Fire Academy training kicked in and I began to run also. …

3 Ways to Better Manage Your Money Today

Kelli and I were drowning in our finances three years ago. We were frustrated and often found ourselves bickering about our financial situation. Overdraft fees and spending freezes were a part of our weekly routine. Like fools, we kept doing the same things and surprisingly nothing changed. Finally, we decided to make a change. We began studying and following a plan that has totally changed our lives when it comes to money. We’ve learned so much over the past few years, but here are three tips I’d like to share with you that can change the way you manage money starting today.     1) Stop thinking it’s your money. A few weeks ago, before Kelli was about to take the boys shopping, I asked Levi if he was going to buy me anything. He said he didn’t have any money, paused a moment, then he told me he did. I said, “Oh, yeah? What kind of money?” He went into his silly Levi voice and shouted, “Yo mon—ey!” I lost it laughing. As silly …