Archive for June, 2007


Guest Bloggers

In just a few days I am scheduled to take some time off for vacation. And, if the Lord is willing, I plan to do a lot of reading, running and relaxing.

I want to thank the choice people of CrossPoint for allowing me to take this much needed break. My spiritual and physical batteries need recreating, recharging, and reenergizing, and this time of the year is the best time for me to take a break with my family.

In order to keep the JUSTONEMORE.INFO blog running smoothly, I have invited four different friends to post blogs in my absence.

The first writer is Mandi Logan. She is the zeal behind the wheel in CrossPoint’s respite ministry. Her passion for children with special needs is what makes her such a great educator in the Trussville School System. Mandi is a reader, and I have found readers to also be good writers. She will encourage you with her insights.

After Mandi’s stint, I have asked our Student Minister, Jason Motte to do some guest blogging. You will have to put on your thinking caps with Jason. He is a sharp thinker, and I know his blog will challenge you. I like Jason’s desire to disciple our students. You will see what I am talking about when you read what he writes.

Next is my good friend, Dr. John Thweatt, pastor of FBC Pell City. Allow me to state in advance, I am not responsible for what he writes. John loves the Lord. He is a great father and husband. His church dearly loves him, but the guy is as crazy as a road lizard. Prepare yourself, his blogs will be different.

Finally, I have asked my blog master, Vaughn Harris to fill in for me. Vaughn is a cutting edge thinker. The guy has a major passion for souls to be saved and for lives to be changed. I love his heart. I love his zeal. His enthusiasm is contagious. I know you will like to read what is on his mind.

Mandi Logan, Jason Motte, John Thweatt and Vaughn Harris are all first string players on God’s team. I am impressed with the lineup the Lord led me to select. My greatest concern is returning to town with many of you requesting more from these people than from me. Their blogs with bless you.

And finally, please pray for my family and me, since we will be covering a lot of road during our time off. I look forward to CONNECTING with you when we return home.



What is the first word that comes to your mind when you think of church? I am sure many of you would say worship or discipleship or evangelism. And, I agree with those responses.

Another word that comes to my mind when I think of church is fellowship. I am convinced that fellowship is a vital key to true church health. When we read in Acts 2, we discover the first century church was “devoted to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship.”

Last Sunday evening the staff and I had the privilege of fellowshipping with many of CrossPoint’s deacons. We met on the back veranda, located outside the new education wing. By the way, that is a great place for a fellowship if you are looking for one.

John Coon and his cook team provided burgers, ribs, salad and beans. And, as you would expect, the meal was superb.

Ron NeSmith and his Deacon Leadership Team did a great job organizing the evening.

Although the food was over the top, it was the fellowship that meant the most to me. I enjoyed spending time with these servants of the church. We ate a lot of food. We told some great stories. We bonded in fellowship. Yet most of all, we prayed. We did not just pray once, we prayed twice.

Ron asked me to share a few words before we dismissed. During my remarks I shared with the men how Dutch Reform Pastors would say to their congregations, “When you pray me full, I will preach you full.” I asked the men to continue to pray me full so that I may continue to preach CrossPoint full. After that, we concluded with prayer.

It was then the real fellowship began. Ron asked the men if they had anything they wanted to say. Several of the men wanted to know when we would do something like this again. Then Ken Johnson shared his heart with the group about his daughter-in-law’s battle with breast cancer. One of the deacons said, “Let’s gather and pray for Ken and his family.” Before you knew it, someone placed a chair in the center of the patio, and we gathered to pray.

It was a great evening last Sunday night. I thoroughly enjoy it whenever I can gather with our deacons for fellowship. Just about one month from today we will gather as a church at Camp Coleman for our annual picnic and outdoor baptism. I hear tickets go on sale on July 8. We have scheduled this year’s picnic from 3 to 7 PM in order to try to beat the heat. By the way, in case you are wondering, we have asked John Coon to cook the meal. Mmm, my taste buds are already in overdrive.

I have already made plans to be there on July 29 because I enjoy fellowshipping with you so much with you. I trust you will be there also.

The Loudest Voice

What is the loudest voice in your life? What voice do you listen to above all others?

All of us have a voice in our life; all of us have some kind of message ringing in our ears. Of all the messages we hear, which is the loudest?

Some voices we hear are imagined. Other voices we hear are real. Some of us listen to recordings we play over and over again.

There are those of us who constantly hear the messages of our parents playing back in our heads. That can either be good or bad, depending on the voices that were ringing in their heads.

Some of us hear criticism playing over and over again. Perhaps it was the expression of a teacher, coach or a peer who humiliated us and we cannot get that message out of our head.

Other people listen to those they are trying to impress. They hear the voice of a spouse or a boss that is always asking, “What have you done for me, lately?”

There are some who pay attention to the voice of fear. Listening to this signal cripples many from realizing their true value in Christ.

A few people listen to their own voice. Obviously this voice, like all other human voices, is influenced by our sinful nature.

I do not know what the loudest voice is in your life. It may be one of the aforementioned voices I have previously discussed or it may be another voice you hear that I have not mentioned.

My mentor taught me to listen to the Lord’s voice above all others. He taught me to listen for God. As a result of that lesson I often ask the Lord to help me distinguish His voice above all others. I do not know what the loudest voice is in your life but I do know what voice you should be hearing above all others. The loudest voice in your life should the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Speaking of voices, Isaiah records:

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Isaiah 30:21

The Lord wants us to listen to His voice above all others so that we can know the way in which He wants us to go. He wants us to hear His voice. He wants us to follow His voice. He wants to guide us in His truth.

Jesus spoke of hearing His voice this way:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27

I don’t know what voice you hear above all others. I don’t know if that voice is a voice of criticism. I don’t know if the voice you hear over and over again is one that constantly overestimates your situation or underestimates your abilities. However, there is a voice I do know that will instruct you, encourage you, teach you and love you. That voice is the voice of the Lord.
Determine today to listen to the voice of the Lord. Learn to hear His voice above all others. Quit listening to the voice of the past, your own voice recording or the voice of others. Decide today to listen for the Lord’s voice. If you listen, you will hear Him.


I am Praying for You

The practice of praying for each CrossPointer by name, out loud, is one of the most gratifying disciplines I have added to my daily routine in a long time. Yes, praying for you is a burden. Paradoxically, the prayer routine is also refreshing.

Praying for each member of CrossPoint is changing the way I lead this church. It is also changing the way I lead our staff.

The more I pray for you, the more God works on me. Here are a few examples of the way God is working on me.

The more I pray for you, the less I try to do for God what God wants to do for you.

To state it another way, the more I pray for you the more I let God do what He wants to do, and, hopefully, the less I get in his way. (See yesterday’s blog about doing for God what God wants to do for me or you).

The more I pray for you, the more I pray for you.

Pardon my redundancy, but it is true. The more I pray for you, the more time I spend praying for you. Praying for you by name, specifically, each day is a contagious discipline. I suppose you could say prayer is contagious.

The more I pray for you, the greater my burden is for you.

Pastors are always burdened for their sheep. The more I pray for you, however, the deeper my burden grows. That burden, I believe, augments my preaching for you each week. That burden compels me to be more faithful to the Scripture each Sunday.

The more I pray for you, the better I know you.

I know that sounds strange, but there is an intimacy that the Lord develops through prayer. For example, I saw a CrossPointer the other day in public. We exchanged quick greetings to one another and then went our own way. Soon after walking away from them, I prayed for them, their spouse and their children. I think it was a natural result of praying for them on a consistent basis.

One of our Bible study leaders showed me how he has made a prayer card for every member of His Bible study class, so that they can pray for one another. He has also added our staff to their list. He told me he did this because he was following our staff’s example. If you are not doing so already, I challenge all of our Bible study leaders to piece together a simple prayer list for their class which includes the name of the members on their roll. Distribute the list and ask your class to begin praying for one another. Give me a report as soon as you see the first results of your prayer.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your pastor. Moreover, thank you for the privilege of allowing me to pray for you.


A Weekend with My Father

A few months ago my brothers, Chuck and Rhett, started working with me to put together a father/son weekend with my father, Bob. Many of you know all these three of these men. For those who do know them, I promise to start praying for you. For those of you who do not know them, you are blessed. (There goes my commitment to stop chiding others! I can’t help it. I spent the weekend with the king of chiders.)

Seriously, sixty days ago we started planning this trip with my Dad. We tried to make the trip in early May, but our plans fell through due to our busy schedules. Then we settled on June 21 – 23, we stuck to it, and I am so glad we did.

We left Birmingham very early Thursday morning and made our way to Highlands, North Carolina. Part of our trip included checking out a new cabin my oldest brother and his family are building in the area.

Although our trip was quick, it was full of activity. More than activity, I think the best part of the outing included our conversation. Actually, that’s all we did was talk, mixed in with some sightseeing.

The highlight of the excursion was when my oldest brother put my father in his place much like my father used to do with us when we were kids. Dad was complaining about something not being right and Chuck said, “You go in there and sit down on that sofa and do not speak until you are spoken to you. Do you hear me?” Rhett and I lost it. It was too much to handle, because it sounded just like my father from times past.

Another, more serious interaction, included how the four of us talked about our walk with Christ. All four of us are committed to four different kingdom enterprises in Birmingham. Dad is a member of Valleydale. Chuck and his family are members at Shades Mountain. Rhett and his clan are committed to Shades Crest. And I have made a lifelong commitment to CrossPoint.

As a pastor, I was particularly encouraged to hear of their commitment to tithing. We spent the better part of one afternoon talking the mission of each church and how each man supports his pastor. I admitted to them my struggle with CrossPoint’s pastor and how he and I rarely got along or could ever see eye to eye. They got a real kick out of that!

Chuck’s cabin builder commented to us how much he wished he could make a trip like that with his father and brothers. He told us how lucky we were to be able to share this moment. Then he added, “I can’t do that now that my father is dead.” I am so glad I heard Gary make that comment. Even though I realized the purpose of our trip, his comment gave our expedition more meaning.

We enjoyed another highlight on our way home Saturday. While driving through Atlanta, Dad commented how neat it would be to find the old house we lived in when I was born. Two minutes later we took an exit to Decatur[Georgia] and we were on the way to find the house. My sister got involved with the adventure when we called her for possible directions. After thirty minutes of driving in circles we almost gave up. Then we reminded each other that we were not are quitters. After renewing our resolve, my phone rang from Indiana, and it was my sister. Her daughter, Dallas, Googled directions for us and we were two blocks away from the house.

It was fun seeing the old place. It was even better listening to my dad talk about memories we shared. I do not remember living there, but I felt an immediate affinity with the place listening to their comments.

From that part of the trip we discussed the different places we lived. Once again, it was good to hear Dad share his memories. By the time we arrived in Birmingham, we were all thankful for the way the Lord made Birmingham home for our family.

In the last few years I have made a concentrated effort to slow down, laugh and enjoy moments like these. I have to admit it did not matter where we went as three sons and a father the best part was that we were together.

If your father or mother and brothers or sisters are still alive, and able, I suggest you make plans to spend a quick weekend together. Even though I was exhausted from all the driving and sightseeing, the fellowship with my father and brothers was energizing.

The next time the three of us take a special get-a-way with dad it will include his grandsons. Now that will be a trip worth writing about.


Doing God’s Job

For those of you who do not know, CrossPoint’s staff meets every Tuesday morning. Steve Parr, CrossPoint’s Executive Pastor, leads the meeting, which is divided into three segments. The first segment includes praying over the needs of the church as communicated through the Communication Cards, reviewing the calendar of events and assigning guests contacts. The second third of the meeting includes week-to-week administrative items in addition to staff reports. The last third of the meeting is left for me to lead in discussion of specific topics.
The topics I discuss in staff meeting are divided into a four-week cycle. The first Tuesday of the month is “Big Staff Day”. This is the day every paid employee of CrossPoint meets to ensure we are all on the same page. The second Tuesday of the month, we examine CrossPoint’s vision. The third Tuesday of the month, we evaluate CrossPoint’s process. The fourth Tuesday of the month, we discuss a book or a specific topic of study. And, we use the fifth Tuesdays that roll around each quarter to catch up on other issues.

Since yesterday was the third Tuesday of the month I facilitated the staff in a discussion about our process. The result of that discussion was eye-opening.

While concluding our process evaluation, I reminded the staff that their job as the leaders of CrossPoint is basically two-fold. (Let me add, these two items are not in order of importance. They both carry equal weight.) First, the staff members must recruit and develop leaders. Additionally, the staff members must ask God to provide the leaders necessary to recruit and develop. In short, we talked about developing the leaders God provides.

Where we went next was spiritually enlightening.

While discussing the balance between recruiting and developing leaders and asking God to provide leaders, I commented that sometimes we do for God what God wants to do for us.

This observation came to me a few weeks ago while praying for the members of CrossPoint by name each morning. While working through my particular list that day I weighed in my mind how much I try to make something happen in our church instead of asking God to do it. Another way of saying the same thing would be to ask how often or in what areas of life do we take the place of the Holy Spirit.

Jason Motte, our Student Minister, asked me for an example. I jumped quickly on an example of a family who recently joined CrossPoint. Last fall I dropped them a few notes in the mail. I even approached them in the hallway, and asked when they planned to join. When they did not respond to either effort, I quietly placed that desire in God’s hands. In short, I turned the matter over to God. A few months later, without my prompting, they approached me about joining.

I could site several other examples where I have tried to do something for God that God wanted to do for me.

How often do you take the place of the Holy Spirit? In what areas of your life do you take over for the Holy Spirit? In what ways do you do for God what He wants to do for you?

I think many of us get in God’s way by doing for ourselves what God wants to do for us. And I think the way we do that is by doing things for God without first asking God to do them.

There are many sentences in the bible that teach me to call on God to do things rather than me doing those things in my own strength. Listed below are three such examples:

“If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
John 14:14

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
Jeremiah 33:3

“Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Matthew 6:8

I am not sure what I wrote for you today is sensible. I am blindly trusting God to use this blog to prompt you to think more seriously about allowing God to do things for you that most of the time He allows us to do for ourselves because we do not ask Him.

One more thought and I am done.

Let me add, whenever we do things for ourselves or in our own strength, they will always fall short of what God can do for us. Sure, we may be able to accomplish some things on our own for God. But just imagine what God could do for us in His own strength.

I think today I will ask God to do some things for me I typically try to do in my own strength.


Giving, Praying & Fasting

I firmly believe the Lord Jesus wants CrossPoint to be a giving, praying and fasting church. The more I study the Sermon on the Mount, the more convinced I am that giving, praying and fasting are three disciplines every Christ follower must continue practice.

Speaking of praying, I returned to the Puritan prayer I read for you at the close of my message yesterday morning. I provide this profound prayer for you to use in your daily time alone with the Lord this week:

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.