An Unlikely Champion

It is hard to believe that I will be thirty years old next month. A new decade approaches and I am not sure what it will bring. What I do know it will bring is a chance for people overcome their situations and become an unlikely champion. I have seen it happen in a few lives. I live in a fairly rural area where there are many people living in poverty. I know the region and its struggles and have tasted them myself.


Today’s post I want to talk about one individual who has become an unlikely champion. I went to high school with the individual and, at the time, he was known for his mischievous ways. He was always looking to instigate some sort of joke or spout off a comment or take some sort of action to provoke a response from those in leadership. It was not that he was a terrible guy, but rather one that liked to press the buttons.

After high school, he took a couple of years to find himself. That is the best way to put it, I suppose. He had a small run in with a police officer and had to fight a battle in the courtroom. Rather than letting this be his new normal and the way things would be for the rest of his life, he found mentors that were willing to help guide him to a better way of living. He had to overcome the obstacles of his past and his locality, but these can be see as excuses or a reason to put in the extra work required to make a better life.

He then enrolled at the college with the determination to not only survive, but thrive. Through the guidance of some inspirational figures around him, he managed to complete his degree in business and economics and was sought after as an employee when he graduated. He has since moved out of state, but now has a thriving career with nothing but potential in a field that is growing.  I fully expect him to be one of the most successful individuals to come out of our small town, but it was not without work.

I am thrilled that there are inspirational movies being pushed to the big screen. This Friday (September 30th), Disney is releasing a new film called Queen of Katawe and it is one that will inspire you. If you are like me, you may not have heard of the film before now. However, after watching the short clip below I cannot wait to see it for myself.

Who knows, maybe I will see you there!


Go by Preston Sprinkle

The church in America is in a downward spiral. You do not have to see any survey results to know this. It seems as if you can look at any church and gather the truth. Preston Sprinkle has not only reported the facts of a new Barna survey in his new book Go, but also given us ideas to combat this and compel the church to action.


In his writing, he does not call the current way of doing church a sin, but rather encourages us to look at other ways of gathering. As a church planter, I recognize the fact that the same old ways will not gain us ground in spreading the Gospel. I know the hardships faced by a church with a small budget while wanting to maintain a consistent outreach and mission presence.

In the grand scheme of things, I believe that the church has failed to make disciples. We may have done a decent job at getting our message out there, but we have failed to make life change. The survey results show it. Our churches show it. Preston shows us, but he also gives us hope. By taking a different path, we can see the church return to vibrancy.

It does not matter if you find yourself before the pew or in the pew, this is a book for every church member. There are common denominators between all of us and we are all responsible for making disciples.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. The words expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Uninvited Book Review

I have a confession to make. I have listened to Lysa TerKeurst off and on for the past few years, even saw her in person at a conference within the past year, but have never read one of her books. I suppose now is as good of a time as any to correct this. I am so glad that I did.


While Lysa’s new book Uninvited is geared towards women, anyone can relate to the message that she has written. I have been making it a point to read more female authors lately and I am thankful that I have had that privilege. I feel as if it has helped me become a better husband and pastor. I now give more thought to how the females in my life will take my words, but that is not the point of this post.

Regardless of how long you have been alive on this sphere going around the sun, you have felt left out at some point. It does not matter if you found yourself as a popular kid in grade school or the social butterfly of the office, at some point, we have felt as if we did not belonged. Thankfully, God has not left us in that time and has given us plenty of things to say to ourselves during these times. I am grateful that Lysa has been given this message of hope to those that feel uninvited.

I received this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. The words expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

We Could Use Some Culture

I have often found that people are reading their Bible, but they do not take time to consider the culture in which the words were written. Rather than seeking to hear the words through their original culture, we tend to read it from our modern vantage point. This can sometimes lead to confusion and even frustration as we get things wrong. I am glad that there has been a study Bible released to help us bridge this gap.


Let me be quick to say that I can already sense the mumbling coming from the mouths of seminary scholars. I know that this Bible will not address every facet of the culture and will not outline everything as neatly as you would. However, I am thankful for its existence to help educate everyday readers to the culture of the Bible.

Throughout the Bible, we are given chapter summaries, maps, and snippets of everyday life for the Jewish people that were the first recipients of Christ’s message. These are just a few of the many things that are addressed on the pages of this Bible. To fully appreciate Scripture, it helps to know the connotations in which it was written. You can relate more to the struggles that were facing the original audience and grasp a little bit more what it meant to have a relationship with God. For the relatively compact size, this Bible packs a lot of information. Could there have been more information? Absolutely, but then it would have been too big to move around. While it is still large to preach or teach from, it is not unbearable for personal study at home.

I received the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible for free in exchange for an unbiased review from BookLookBloggers. The words expressed here are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

My Favorite Hillsong Song

The title seems generic and almost a tongue twister to where you question if this will be a thoughtful post. Truthfully, it is and my answer is different today than it was last year and that it will be next year.

Narrowing down the catalogue of Hillsong songs is quite difficult. It’s difficult enough as it is, but if you consider United and Young & Free, you add even more great songs that fight their way to the top. I have always had a drawing towards the United stuff simply because I believe it resonated with me more during my teen years than the Hillsong Worship and Y&F was not even an idea there. So, what is my favorite Hillsong song?

Right now I would have to select Scandal of Grace as my top song from Hillsong. Could it change tomorrow? Yes. Will it change? Maybe. This one has meant a lot to me since I first heard it a few years back. It was reinforced even more after my visit to Hillsong New York where Brian Houston brought a message by the same title. It helped solidify just how scandalous the death of Christ was and still is. When you understand the nature of a scandal and how Jesus was willing to be involved in this for us, it puts everything else in perspective.

That’s my favorite song from any Hillsong outfit at the moment. I hope to hear more songs just like it on the big screen when I view their new movie Let Hope Rise when it is released on September 16th.

Do go out and support the film. I have known about it for quite some time now and am even more excited now than I was when it was first mentioned.

Do you have a favorite song from Hillsong? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Falling Leaves

Fallen leaves begging to be crunched.

Let me first say that I enjoy every season. There is something about living in the season that the calendar reflects and making the post of those days. I think if you try to rush your days, you end up missing out on the things God is doing right now because you are more focused on the future. This post is not about living in the present though. That is for another time. This post is about how Fall (or Autumn if you call it that) is right around the corner. 

I first noticed the weather hinting at the change a couple of weeks ago while mowing the lawn. While there were not many and it did not cause me to break out a rake, it did ensure I would pause to check the date on my phone. 

The second time I realized the seasonal change was upon us was when I was walking in the front door after driving home from the office. When I got rose out of my car, I immediately felt the wind whipping against my back and it felt cooler. Later that evening Leighann and I took our daughter and dog on a walk through the neighborhood and I noticed the wind kept blowing. By the time we had made it home it was noticeably cooler than it had been in the evenings prior to this day. 

I can tell when the seasons are changing when I notice specific landmarks changing. There is a large tree that I pass on an almost daily basis as I drive up the interstate on my commute. Earlier this week it began to show signs of orange and yellow. This is the first tree that changes before Summer ends. I know that regardless of whether or not I wanted it to end, Summer is fleeting and there is nothing I can do to stop it. 

These are just three of the signs that I have noticed that Fall is nearing its arrival. That does not include the sounds of the bugs I hear at night or other guideposts that mark the way towards the end of the summer. I know that the calendar gives us another month or so before Fall begins, but in a blink it will be here. 

Have you noticed any signs of the seasons changing where you live? Do you get to experience all four seasons? What is one last thing you want to do before the summer officially ends?

Review: HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible

First off, let me say I am not an artist. I doodle and can barely create anything worth even a mention; however, I believe this Bible is for people like me. Sure, it can be used by those with more artistic skill and they would do a lovely job, but it is also simple enough for people like me to use. Why is that?


Well, despite being labeled as a Bible for Illustrators, there is still ample room for notes. Down one edge or the other, you will find lines that are begging to be filled with notes as you do your own study or listen to your pastor. There is enough spacing to allow writing that could easily be read later, but also enough room to get plenty of ideas down on the paper. Speaking of the paper, it does feel a little thicker than most Bibles, but it still seems like it could have been slightly thicker. It does a good job of keeping bleeding to a minimal (as that mainly depends upon your pen), but I recognize the fact that with thicker paper comes a thicker Bible.

I also like how each time you turn the page there is a new illustration on the page that is ready for you to add the color. That is a nice touch for those of us that should not be forced to rely upon our God-given abilities. I would have liked it better if the illustrations were not as gender biased. It seems as if every illustration is geared towards the female gender. It could just be my interpretation, but I still stand by it. The outer cover seems nice and should allow for a long life. And let’s not even get me started on how much I like the translation.

Overall, if you like to add color to illustrations that are already available and would prefer to have plenty of space in the margins of your Bible to take notes, this is one for you. It appears to be able to withstand years of use and allow you to capture your thoughts like never before.

I received this Bible for free from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. The words written here are my own and have not been influenced by the publisher in any manner.