Thursday, December 25, 2008

Coal For Christmas!

Its been threatened many times but rarely delivered on. It is the DEFCON 5 for all parents at Christmas. Its the thing that is held over every kid who has ever been bad in the weeks and days leading up to Santa's arrival. You know exactly what I'm talking about, its the dreaded, "If you don't straighten up you'll get a lump of coal for Christmas". Now from all the stuff I've read it seems to be an old tradition from Italy where parents would tell their kids that an evil witch would bring coal to naughty children on Epiphany or around new years. That's pretty harsh when you think about it, on Epiphany of all times! I suppose that the tradition migrated to America and has now become the threat of choice for several generations for frustrated parents. My brother and sister in law have three kids and two are twins. They are 4 and are great kids but as anyone can attest 4 year olds can be a handful. Yesterday was evidently the straw that broke the coal barrier. There seemed to have been an incident in Target or Wal-Mart to get things to this crisis. So early this morning the joy of Christmas, the "unbridled averace" (to quote A Christmas Story) came crashing down in flames for my nieces. As my sister in law tells: it was early and dark with just the Christmas tree lights on. Payton the oldest (10) came prancing in looking for Christmas bliss, but the room was empty. the twins soon followed in like fashion, nothing. No barbies, no make up kits, no candy canes, no ponies or unicorns and no princess paraphernalia of any kind. There under the tree were three stockings, each filled with coal! I was floored that they actually did it! How awesome!

Then the tears came and Melanie said, "I've been telling you for three months that this might happen!" Payton said through her tears, "I know! I know! I'm sorry!" They all got their pictures made with their "lumps" of coal. But, all was not lost, Santa had come, after all the cookies were gone! The kids were then lead through the house till finally Christmas was redeemed and grace was shown. They all got everything they asked for and more!

I know what you are thinking, "That was mean!" But really if you think about it, it was a beautiful reminder of what grace really is. How many of us really deserve gifts at Christmas? I mean when its all laid out there those kids didn't do anything to earn the gifts and neither did mine. If I categorized and wrote down everything my kids did wrong this year, they would owe me, big time. But isn't it awesome what God has done for us. The idea of a gift in God's eyes is one that is not deserved. In all reality we really don't deserve Jesus, we deserve less than a lump of coal! But God's grace is lavish and scandalous. His Word is pretty clear what we deserve, an eternity apart from Him. But Jesus came in a lavish way, a most ridiculous risky way to give the world what it did not deserve, a life with a living God. Now that's better than a Wii or an XBOX 360! Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

December Update

Its been about a month since I've blogged, my apologies for my lack of updates. I realize that most of you were not sitting at home freaking out because my blogs weren't coming through on a regular basis. So here are some highlights. Just before Thanksgiving I was invited by Dr David Jeremiah to Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego to share my testimony with his congregation. Tammy and I flew out there for a busy weekend of services and meetings. It was amazing to say the least. I have no idea how many the church building holds but it was a very large crowd for three services. Tammy and I got to sit back stage with Dr Jeremiah and enjoy some private time with him. It was something I'll never forget. Here I was sitting face to face with the man that 15 years ago had preached the sermon that showed me the way to Jesus! I tried to glean as much wisdom from him as I could in our short time together. He truly is the real deal, just as humble and sincere as you would want him to be.

Then we got a chance to tour Turning Point's studios (check the picture of me and Tammy behind Dr J's microphone), the place where the broadcasts both TV and radio originate from. The crew there came out of their offices to meet us. I really could not fathom why. But I realized that they work and work all year long and rarely get to see in the flesh the fruit of their labors. And on this particular day there was, in the flesh a married couple who had been changed by God through the impact of their ministry. It was a blessing to see the look in their eyes. I'm grateful to have been a part of it. They interviewed both of us for an upcoming edition of their monthly magazine; I think it'll be out in February or March.

We also got to spend some time with Sean and Vicki Brennan. Vicki works for Turning Point as the national representative for Dr. Jeremiah and is his point person on his nationwide events. She is amazing and they opened their home to us. Sean is a retired pilot from the Navy so we obviously had much to talk about. He's an amazing guy and it turns out he came to Christ through watching Dr Jeremiah on TV, amazing! Coming home we met some folks in the airport that had been at Shadow Mountain that weekend and we had a great time meeting them and praying with them in the airport. All in all it was a trip we'll never forget.

On another front we have a new dog. Her name is Sofie. She's a Havanese which I think is Spanish for a mop with legs. She is hilarious, but continues to use my house a septic tank. She chases her tail and licks my face while I do push-ups and sleeps in my bed. I think she's got me trained.

Finally in more sobering news, this will be the last Christmas I spend with my family till 2010. In the Spring I deploy overseas with the guys from my unit for a year long mission of winning hearts and minds and hopefully by the grace of God it'll be our last. I just got an email from my dear friend and Chaplain, Matt who has been there for almost 15 months. This is his 2nd Christmas away from his family. He told me that when he first got there and saw the faces of the guys he was replacing, the weariness the exhaustion, he swore he'd never look like that. He told me today, that he does look like that. He's doing a great job with his soldiers, but he's tired and ready to come home. I don't blame him a bit. I suspect my old buddy Ray is in the same boat, ready to see his family after nearly a year there. No matter how strong you are, 15 months of war takes its toll. I appreciate your prayers for me and my guys as we prepare to go. I wish you all a most blessed Christmas, Christ with us, Christ in us the hope of glory.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The fringe benefits of a morning in the woods

Late November, nothing more needs to be said if you are an outdoorsman. thanksgiving week is traditionally in NC the best time of year for hunting Whitetail deer. It is one of my most favorite seasons. I love getting up at 0430 when its bone cold and making my way into the dark woods and settle into my stand to wait on that monster buck that is sure to appear. Now anyone who has ever done much deer hunting knows that the monster buck is indeed a rare sight. Most mornings are cold and alot of waiting and watching. Today I got up earlier than usual to let my new dog out to do her business. My son was supposed to go with me. I stirred him from REM sleep and dreams of fighting orcs about 0500. He informed me that he was tired and didn't want to go, so I blessed him with the sleep a 10 year old needs. So I took off for our farm to hunt alone. It was an awesome morning, cold but not bitter, no wind. It was perfect, but no deer. I don't get frustrated with these days though. I'm learning alot about life still, learning that God uses really small stuff to teach us.

Today I was watching the forest come to life and this morning the birds were particularly frenetic. All varieties, robins, wrens, sparrows, and several species of woodpeckers were just having a blast. Sitting in solitude for 4 or 5 hours is really good for you and your senses about the environment around you become heightened. I was watching these birds, chirping out a symphony, sprinting from limb to ground, to bush to tree. I set my stand up right next to our small creek. Its really a pristine little corner of the world. And as if someone hit a switch every bird within a hundred yards of me made a bee line for a small shoal in the bend of the creek not 15 yards from me. I watched as they splashed and played and sang and drank. It was amazing, literally 50 little birds converged all at once to get their fill of the water. I forgot completely about the deer and just watched in amazement. Now being one who is always looking for God to be saying something I began to ask, "Lord, what are You saying in this display?" It was so crystal clear, Matthew 10:29 says that not even one sparrow falls to the ground without Father knowing it. All those little birds flopping and splashing in that water, Father knows! He knows them as I write this. He knows them as the seas ebb and flow with their tides. He knows them as hotels are attacked in Mumbai, as soldiers are aching to be at home on thanksgiving, as a nation wonders about its future. As all the Universe is held together and orchestrated by God, He knows those little birds that frolic in the small patch of woods at my farm in NC.

I began to dwell on that for a bit, and a very contented smile broke across my face at the realization that amidst all the stuff, the trouble of the world, the hairs on my head (or lack there of) are numbered. My life is not merely my own it was bought with a price and tended by a most gracious, kind and loving Father who speaks both explicitly and implicitly through His word and His world.

That is a benefit of 5 hours in the cold and not seeing one deer!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Podcast

Its the Heart of a Sportsman Thanksgiving Edition Podcast. Have a great time in the woods and around the table!

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Pre-Redneck Olympics Podcast

Discussions about the Red Neck Olympics, opening day of deer season, idol worship and building relationships!

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

New Podcast: Kirks Moose Hunt

After a hiatus the boys are back with Kirk Fessler talking about a moose hunt in Newfoundland, shout outs galore, and swan hunting...whoever heard of that!

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I'm not sure how to really write this but I'll give it my best shot. My life changed 14 years ago on a bright spring day riding in a 1992 Saturn sedan on NC HWY 18 in Western NC. That was the day that I met Jesus Christ. Many of you know my story and for the sake of blog brevity I'll be brief, because its about a 28 year tale. Long story short, my life had been in a tailspin for many years from the age of 16 on filled with wrong turns, bad decisions, poor judgment and faulty ideas. Enough said! On that March 22nd 1994 I was driving alone on that curvy rural highway, deeply engrossed in of all things a sermon on the radio. the gentleman speaking was a guy named David Jeremiah out of San Diego, CA (

He was teaching through the book of Revelation of all places and I was basically an atheist listening to a guy teach on the return of Christ. For some unexplainable reason it all made sense that day. I came to the very real conclusion that there was a God, His name was Jesus, that I didn't know Him and that if I didn't get to know Him, my life was going to continue to be the mess that it had been. Worse than that, I realized that the question of my mortality hinged on the very words from this 2000 year old book we know as the Bible. Weird huh!

That day, Dr. Jeremiah gave a call out over the radio to those listening via the airwaves to stop and take a moment to evaluate one thing, "What will happen the day that you die?"

Believe me, I had no idea. I waited for the answer and it was clear as the windshield after coming out of auto bell. I needed Jesus. I needed forgiveness, I needed to know this God who made me and you and everything else. So, without much fanfare I asked Jesus to forgive me. to take my life and make it what He wanted. And true to His Word, he has done just that.

14 years later, beyond my first days of being mentored and discipled, my classes at seminary, being ordained as a pastor, speaking to thousands now, caring for soldiers as a Chaplain, carrying the Gospel around the world to strange places, I find God has indeed done what I could never have done.

That brings me to today's post. In gathering materials for our unit my Chaplain assistant SGT Russ Robinson contacted dozens of ministries. We have been overwhelmed with support. Books came flooding in and with it, materials from Dr Jeremiah's ministry in CA. With it came an invitation to attend a small event in Winston Salem, NC with DR. Jeremiah. We of course responded yes!

Russ, being the sneaky soldier he is, emailed a Dr J's personal assistant, Vicki, and told her that I had come to Christ through the ministry. I then received a phone call from her and she asked me if I'd like to tell my story at the event. I of course said "Absolutely!"

We met at the stadium where Wake Forest University plays football and I got to meet and hug Dr Jeremiah and personally tell him thanks for his ministry and then I was given a few minutes to share what God had done. As I spoke Dr J sat on the front row along with 170 other folks, my wife, Russ and his wife. I looked down as I spoke and He was crying. I thought it odd, but realized with great clarity what God was doing for him. For 14 years I have been living my life with Jesus, following him as best I know how. My story of conversion is very common to me, because its mine. I don't find anything particularly powerful about it. But, this man had never heard it. For 14 years as I lived my life, he had no idea what his obedience to proclaim Jesus started in me.

Standing before him in flesh and blood was a brief confirmation of the power of the proclaimed Word of God. It was pretty some kind of cool to be a part of. The great thing about it is that I can take no credit for it. I just rand into Jesus and He did the rest.

I got to go on the radio for an interview the next day with Dr Jeremiah, who had been taped earlier in the day. If you'd like to listen to it you can just click here.

So take courage if you preach the Gospel, there just might be a guy listening out there and it just might change his life too, and if your not careful 14 years from now you might get to meet him!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

1 minute to make a difference

I ran into a LTC (LT Colonel) today at my unit and we really hit it off. She's a nurse and looking for a home at our unit. After speaking with her a few minutes it became gloriously obvious that she was a follower of the "Way" as many Christians were called in the early days of the church. She had a right side patch (meaning combat deployed) so instantly she carried with her credibility. She shared with me how some of her family members were missionaries to France of all places. Upon finishing our day at Battle Assembly, taking care of soldiers, going to meetings, checking the block I saw her again in the hallway near the bookshelf that SGT Robinson (my chaplain assistant) has put together. She began to tell me of a ministry that is devoted entirely to prayer for the city of Baghdad. This ministry began right around the surge back in 2007. The word prayer is used 139 times in the Bible. The word "pray" is used another 195 times. I suspect a word that is used more than 300 times in God's word is probably pretty important. Verses like psalm 5:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Mark 1:35, and many others stress not only the importance of prayer, but also the effectiveness of that prayer.

I logged on to and signed up to take part for 1 minute a day to pray for Baghdad. Many of us in the military have a vested interest in the peace of Baghdad. I have friends there right now.

Many of you may have asked, "What can I do to help?"

Well its fairly simple....pray. If you sign up the team from Baghdad Prayer Patrol will send you a 1 minute prayer for a section of Baghdad. Here is today's prayer:

Scripture: “And it will come about after this, That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.” -Joel 2:28

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are worthy of all glory and honor and praise. There is no other God besides You, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that You alone are God.

Bullets and rockets are not enough to subdue the wicked, so we look to You. I bring Your attention, Lord, to the main troublemakers in Baghdad, and You know who they are.

I want to target one of them in prayer right now, and ask that tonight and every night this week You would disturb his sleep with dreams and visions he cannot forget. Speak to his heart and convict him of the wrong he has been doing. Break down the hardness that violence has forged in his heart, and give him a fresh new outlook.

Give him no rest Lord, until he turns from his wickedness, and accepts a better way. Birth a new hope in his heart and give him the grace to let go of the past and lay down his violent ways. Tame the troublemaker Lord, and make him a man of peace. In Jesus name, amen.

One striking thing about this and don't let this slip by, how many times have you or I for that matter made it a priority of each day to pray for our enemies, to pray that they would indeed come to know a better "Way".

Take a moment and lift those who would persecute us up in prayer today and take a moment to check the Baghdad Prayer Patrol and pray for the peace of that city.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 17th Podcast

After a two week absence the guys are back and live from Cleveland with special guest Brent Sears and issues like noodling, community, and shimmying up pine trees.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stained Glass, Wood Pews, and Deep Roots

When you walk in the building a real sense of "You probably should be quiet in here" comes over you. I remember as a kid hating that, little kids never want to be quiet, they never want to sit still, they certainly don't think reading from a prayer book is nearly as cool as playing with a G.I. Joe. I'm speaking of the church building of my childhood, Trinity Episcopal Church in Statesville, N.C.

This past weekend I attended the 150 year anniversary of that church. My former priests came back to visit, Clay Turner and Joel Keys were both men that modeled much of what i wanted to be in life. Clay and Joel both birthed in me a love for fly fishing. I took it up late in life but remember well seeing them heading off to the mountains with their rods and wicker creels hoping someday that would be me.

I remember as those men administered communion, "The body of Christ, The Cup of Salvation". I remember looking up from those deep, rich brown pews high to the cathedral ceilings in the center of the church to the stained glass window of a triumphant resurrected Jesus. But I also remember a gentle nudge to follow this very wild God in the way that they had. I remember their vestments and "Holy" cloths. I remember how kind those men were and how I wanted to be near them and listen to them.
I suppose my vocation as a Chaplain and Pastor was very much birthed by Jesus using those two guys in my life as a little boy.

I remember that it didn't make that much of an impression on me then.

But add 40 years of life, death, war, joy, encounters with God, blessing, pain, struggle, marriage, children, successes and failures and it leads to a renewed view of the inside of that building. Yes the building is wood and brick and glass, but as I look back I see how God was moving me along in those years where I had so many questions unanswered.

I sat there this past Sunday and heard the current Bishop, and African American man full of passion break open God's Word from John 12:31-34. He spoke of the heritage of that church that in 1968 at the height of the Civil Rights movement when the denomination I currently align with sat on the sidelines of the hatred and the violence. In the middle of the south not 65 miles from the Woolworth's in Greensboro NC, where a young black man refused to get up from his place at the lunch counter, in the same year when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were murdered, when it would have been easy to sit it out, two small churches did something amazing. Trinity Episcopal a white church and Holy Cross Episcopal Mission a black church decided to combine congregations. In the midst of all that mess, Jesus was lifted up and men and women of different colors came together to worship him.

I sat and listened to that story with my mouth open, because in all my years I had never heard it. I am so glad it was told again. Bishop Curry spoke baldy and loudly and something happened in that church that I had never heard, spontaneous applause! That just doesn't happen in the reverent atmosphere of a liturgical church. It was inspiring. Jesus was present and he was drawing all men unto Himself.

I left there proud that my mom and dad joined that church when I was a child. And even though I wasted many years chasing the world and being unappreciative of my spiritual heritage, I have been renewed this week and for all intents and purposes I am better for having spent my Sunday morning among those pews, and stained glass and getting a new look again at my deep roots

Thursday, September 04, 2008

September 3rd Podcast

Shout outs galore! Opening of deer season, geese, the wilderness and other musings by Brad and Jeremy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another marker along the way, Splitting firewood!

My dad and my grandfather both were big believers in hard work, sometimes really hard. My grandaddy grew up on a farm plowing fields with mules and working in a saw mill. My dad was a Navy man and self employed for 40 years after that working hard. One of the chores we had to do as kids was to cut, split and stack firewood. We all partially heated our homes with firewood and my grandaddy would burn a fire when it was 70 outside. So that meant lots of cutting and splitting. Splitting wood became something that I had a love hate relationship with. I love the smell of fresh cut wood, the crack of the maul slamming into a new piece. I hated the stacking and moving. It just never seemed to get done. But splitting wood did alot of things for me. It made me physically strong. I can still swing a maul or hammer for a while before I get worn out. It really made me feel like a man to be able to bust up a large chunk of wood into something that would provide for my family. There's nothing quite like it, the simplicity of that.

A few weeks ago a very large maple tree gave up the ghost in the woods behind my house and fell almost on the back corner of it. Its limbs were precariously close to every window on that side yet nothing broke. The funny thing is there was no storm or wind that day. I came home and there it was laying my yard. I found my newly reconditioned chainsaw and enlisted the help of Brandon Brothers and we began to work on this giant behemoth. Brandon is a college wrestler and budding MMA star and strong as an ox. He was good to have around. After about 5 hours of work we had most of the major limbs off and the trunk cut into workable sections.

Even though we made a sizable dent in the job, I was still left with a considerable task, so every evening I go out in the back yard and toil in the joy of wielding a chain saw and cracking maple logs into burnable pieces.

Little jack is obviously interested, though not quite strong enough yet to be a great help, I still allow him to piddle in the yard with me giving him jobs that sound really important, like fetching my saw files, or rolling the wheel barrow. He loves it. But the other day I bought a new shiny maul. Its basically a big sharp steel wedge on a stick. Its heavy but has a plastic handle so its lighter than my man-killer maul with a solid steel handle.

Jack took up with the new one and asked if he could split some logs. His momma wasn't too keen on the idea, but I looked at this boy desperately wanting to exert his manhood and relented. I found a piece of wood that would split easy enough, taught him some technique, "keep your legs apart, keep your eye on the wood, let the tool do the work, raise it high and let fly!"

He fumbled with it a bit, barely denting the log. But I give credit to him. He wouldn't quit. He kept on, I kept correcting him. I went back to work not standing over him inspecting every move, and every now and again sneaking a peek his way. He just kept hammering away. It was an odd looking ballet him and that tool. It looked more like the maul was swinging him around. Then I heard a sweet sweet sound, "CRACK!" and followed by an "OH YEAH!"

He had actually done it! That log splintered in two halves and flew apart. He stuck out his chest and bowed up. He hollered, "Dad, I did it!" What a cool scene. I high fived him and acted like he was the toughest kid around.

I imagine God is alot like that when he sees us tackle something and succeed. He instructs us on how to do things through His wisdom, encourages us that we can do it, then steps back and allows us many times to be man-handled by our task, but when the "CRACK!" happens and we achieve a measure of success in our walk with Him, I imagine He's quite pleased with all that.

So keep swinging away at whatever you are doing, the "CRACK!" is not far down the road. Listen for Father's encouragement and instruction and be blessed this day.

And then you too can say "Dad, I really did it, just like You taught me!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back In Cleveland

We are back home, jet-lag, Dog ear rubber bands, Pastor Mack and Cookin Keith Sell, the wildlife wild man!

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school days!

Well...its back to school today for Tori, Jack, Tammy and me! Yep, I'm going back to school as well. I start teaching middle and high school today. I'll be teaching history and New Testament every day till lunch. I'm only doing it till Christmas because I have to prepare for the upcoming deployment. I've never really taught school before but teaching something I've been doing for the last 20 years in one way or another. I'm going to utlize the internet as I have put together blogs for each class for my students to post some of their school work there. I'll let you all know how that goes. So its off to school now transforming minds full of mush into real thinkers, I hope. Take care everybody!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Live from Salt Lake City

Our last Alaska Podcast, short but sweet with our new snowboarding friend, Greg Bombeck. We met him on the plane from Anchorage to Salt Lake City. We spent an hour with this bright young man who is pursuing the Living God and just had to interview him. Now we'll start once a week podcasts so your inbox won't be so full, thanks for listening!

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The Wayne Myers Interview

The last official podcast from Alaska with our most hilarious guest yet, cattle rancher, knife maker, and all around good guy, Wayne Myers!

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The Ron and Robbie Interview

Walking with Jesus, Cod Catching, Halibut off shore and sportsmen Ron Ridenhour and Robbie Fero in this podcast recorded live in Kenai, Alaska.

Listen now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Podcast Delayed

If you're wondering where the latest podcast is from the guys, well, it's been delayed a bit. However, don't worry! The last two podcasts should be up tomorrow night. Thank you for all the support you've shown the guys on their trip, and keep an eye out for their last installment!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Campfire Podcast

The campfire addition of the Heart of a Sportsman Podcast recorded live from the banks of the Russian River, special guests, outdoorsmen Shane Brock, Trent Smith and Scott Isely along with Pastor Mack who has a new nickname!

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Fridays Podcast

Interviews with Spring, Abby and Brenda, missionaries in Alaksa, and a bonus....the top ten list of things not to do when your man goes on a man trip.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bear Day

Jeremy and Brad talk about the day of seeing bears and building relationships.

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Live From The Shack

The heart of a sportsman podcast recorded at 3500 ft at the base of a glacier lake in the Shack!

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Tuesday in Alaska

Special guests today outdoorsman Mark Ridenhour and Charlie Parnell, guitar maker. Both guys following Jesus in Alaska.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Live From Alaska: Aubrey Interview

Fishing with a mission in Alaska. Its the first full day of fishing a building relationships, seeing bears, catching salmon and a great time with guest Aubrey Junker. More to follow!


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Podcast #2...Off to Alaska!

On Sunday a group of 15 men from Cleveland NC will get on an Airplane and leave for Soldotna, Alaska! Its a trip of a lifetime. We are going there to fish....for salmon and for the hearts of men and women! As you can see in this picture there will be a couple of folks there. I'm just going to try to avoid getting a hook in the ear!

You can keep up with us by going to itunes and subscribing to The Heart of a Sportsman podcast. Our 2nd installment is linked here as well. Or you can just get the feed from this blog.

I appologize for the audio, we had some pretty "hot" mics! And there's also the fact that we really have no idea what we are doing. So if you listened with the 6 other people on the web, we appreciate it.
We'll be broadcasting a podcast almost every day while we are there.

So tune in and hang on!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Heart of a Sportsman: Oh my goodness, those hicks can Podcast!

The other blog I'm involved with is through the sportsman's ministry at my local fellowship. Here is our first podcast leading up to our big trip to Alaska...enjoy!

The Heart of a Sportsman: Oh my goodness, those hicks can Podcast!

Friday, July 18, 2008

How to worship with your face!

Croossroads Summer Camp is now in its 13th year of existence. What began as a music festival started by my buddy Clayton King has now turned into a year round ministry. What began with a couple hundred high school kids and some college students that had no idea what they were doing has now grown into a ministry that is literally reaching the world, caring for orphans, discipling young people, building community and blessing the church. I've been back at Crossroads teaching workshops this summer and have just been amazed at what God is doing. And that is important. If you read in Acts 2 that was one of the characteristics of the early church, amazement at God or a deep sense of awe at God's work in this world. There is nothing more motivating in life than wonder. It is wonder and awe that produces scientists and explorers, musicians and artists, and disciples and worshipers!

Last week Clayton and I were back stage praying and watching the music portion of our worship service. Our dear friend Carl Cartee was leading worship with a song that repeats the words "we will sing sing sing and make music to the heavens!" We looked at the front of the stage and there in the midst of the throng of teenagers was a young Asian boy with Down's Syndrome. The song was fast and he was keeping perfect time with the drummer on his own set of imaginary air drums. He was singing every word at the top of his lungs and his face was contorted with such joy that I thought he was going to explode right there! Clayton and I both looked at him and nearly lost it. I was reminded right there that the Gospel of Jesus is so good! It is so profound and deep that scholars can dive deep for decades and never reach a place where they cannot learn more and it is so simple that a young boy with Down's Syndrome can embrace Jesus with his heart and worship with his face!

Let that be a blessing to you today, Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again and sing a song and worship with your face!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The video shown here was shot as we rested after a vicious climb. We first met up with 3 guys that were coming down from the highlands gathering the medicinal worms (see previous post for explanation). As God would have it they were all believers and the guy in the bandanna Phurpu had baptized more than 10 years ago! Then as we had fellowship together more and more people showed up. All of a sudden we had about 15 believers standing around praying and encouraging one another. As you watch the video you'll hear words like "danye bhat" which means "thank you" and "Zai Mashe" which means something like "Jesus is powerful" or "Jesus is Lord". I first of all want to state that as we travel and bring the Gospel to the world we are in no way trying to rob people of their culture. We just want people to have the opportunity to know the Savior. These guys all continue to be Tibetan. They just follow Christ now. We don't want to change people into Americans, we just want them to know our friend Jesus. The big scary looking American is Tony Lellie and dear friend and fellow football coach at Statesville High School. This was Tony's first mission trip and I beleive that he had a blast. It was surely great having him along. More to follow.....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Don't complain about your job!

I've seen alot of crazy stuff in my 42 years, but this one was a top ten. In the Himalayas there are no roads, so every item that is made down the mountain has to be carried up either by donkey or by man. In this video this man or more appropriately "superman" is carrying an office desk and the chairs that go with it. He is heading up a trail that will gain over 4000' in elevation. I'm not sure where he was going, but I do know he gets paid by the kilogram, a little over a dollar per. Wearing shorts and shower flops this guys was moving this massive desk up this mountain. I was amazed and hope you can appreciate the labor that some people in this world perfom.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 2 and 3: Movin' on up

With my puking behind me and a lot of miles ahead days 2 and 3 were days where we made up some time, moving from altitudes about 5000 ft up to 10K. The trails were steep and long. The weather was amazing though. The beginning of June in Nepal is the rainy season, that's why many tourists don't go there. It can be extremely dangerous during the monsoons. Flooding and landslides are common during this time. Many of the trails hug the river and make travel easy when its dry but when the river comes up you have to go over the higher trails which are longer and more treacherous. In these two days we made it from a village called Tal and got all the way to place called Dhukaru Pohkari. Prior to that we stayed in a place called Timang Besi. It was there that we all got hot showers. Oh my goodness what a blessing. It was there too that I ate for the first time in 48 hours. My meal consisted of boiled potatoes and salt. It was one of the best meals I'd ever had. Phurpu and James thought I was weird for eating the skins on the potatoes. I guess they weren't all wrong. We also had the opportunity to treat an injury there. One of the local boys had a nasty cut on his shin. He got injured when his sister was cutting wood and missed and hit him. I figured that might be half true. But we cleaned up his sound that probably should have had stitches. but it was good enough to keep infection from setting in. We had the guest house to ourselves and it was awesome. I got to call home and talk to Tammy from there for about $3 a minute, but it was worth it, every penny.

The next day was our first glimpse of the big maintains. After a long climb turned a corner and there it was, our first 20K plus peak. Tony had never seen a mountain like that and he was hanging in the back that day so I waited on him with my video camera to catch his reaction. He ambled around the bend and I said, "Hey Tony....look up!"

He did and he just said a long drawn out, "Whoa!"

Words sometimes will ruin a moment. The sight of that mountain was indeed beyond description or pictures, words and pictures would only cheapen the majesty of seeing that for the first time.

I think "Whoa!" sums it up best.

That same day we met a group of young guys coming down the mountain from their jobs high above the treeline. They go up to about 14 or 15K and search in the thin dirt there for this worm that grows a mushroom out of its backside (I'm not kidding). This worm and mushroom combination is said to having amazing healing powers. One guy even told me it cured AIDS. The worms sell for 300 rupees (about $5) in Kathmandu. That is an unbelievable amount of money. So the young men head up to the high country to harvest these things.

Well this group coming down happened to be believers in Jesus. And right there on the side of the trail we had church. We encouraged each other, prayed for each other and fellowshipped for about an hour. One guy looked at Phurpu and said, "I know you". Turns out that Phurpu had bee in that are 10 years before and baptized a bunch of people and this guy was one of them. How's that for coincidence. It was a blessing.

So days 2 and 3 we covered about 24 miles gained some mad altitude and met some great folks and had a hot shower. Not too shabby.....more to follow!

Monday, June 16, 2008

DAY 1.5: The church no one knew was there!

While puking my brains out and getting a heavy dose of humility handed to me, the rest of our team was fully engaged in Kingdom work around us. We stopped in one village for lunch and as our guides were probing the locals, we find out that in that village they had a church with a pastor. It was quite a surprise since none of us thought that an established presence of believers had made up that far. I was forced by my illness to take refuge prone at someones kitchen table while the rest of the team went to see the local meeting hall with members of the church. It turns out they had a full blown sound system and a place big enough for many families to meet. In fact they told us there were about 150 believing families in the area. And we had no idea. Its really a comfort to me that God's Kingdom is so much bigger than me and my plans. It is never all resting on my shoulders, and thank God it isn't. What a glorious surprise to find that the seeds of the Kingdom were taking root on the sides of the Himalayas. More to follow!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Nepal Day 1:Broken!

When you are broken everything else ceases to matter. My vision of our first day in Nepal was shattered by a rude awakening at twilight. I arose to get sip of water from under the hard wooden bed in the trailside guest house we were sating in. The trail is the Annapurna Circuit in central Western Nepal in the heart of the Himalayas. Flanked by some of the world's tallest mountains, this area is truly a work of art. Our mission consisted of 8 men, Tony Lellie my friend and fellow football coach at Statesville High, Dave and Caleb Moss and Brent and Jared Bowman (the father and son duos), our Tibetan guides James and Phurpu. Our mission was to trek about 50 miles into the heart of the Annapurna range and distribute materials to unreached villages along the way and then hike the 50 miles back in about 9 days.

Day 1 began with leg cramps at 4:00 am. So I began to hydrate with water. When day broke I grabbed the water bottle and noticed that it looked strange. The water in the bottle looked as if I had gathered it from a stagnate puddle somewhere. I realized through my powers of deduction that I had the wrong water bottle. Where it came from I have no idea. About 15 minutes later it began, the wrenching stomach cramps, the runs came and then the vomiting began. Being the good soldier I am I strapped on my pack and began the days trek. About a mile in and heading up an incredibly steep grade I began to vomit violently. Phurpu stayed back with me and took my pack which I gave up reluctantly. He carried mine and his pack for the nest 10 miles as I struggled to make each step. My legs felt like they had lead in them. Phurpu would stop with me and pray in Tibetan. I was miserable and broken. After about 4 hours of this I sat down on the side of the trail, out of sight of the rest of my team, Phurpu with me, my insides screaming. I sat and began to pray and realized that without God's help I was not going to make it. There are no ambulances in the Himalayas because there are no roads. As Phurpu prayed for me I began to break inside. God spoke very clearly, "In your weakness My strength is made perfect, My grace is sufficient for you." I sat there in my vomit and I wept realizing that I had nothing left but Jesus to get me through. All of my strength gone, all of my pride stripped. James and Phurpu took turns nursing me. I collapsed about a mile from our destination for the day at the base of a vicious climb. I slept there for about 2 hours trying to stave off dehydration with Sprite. James shooed flies off of me. He sat there, never leaving me. After sleeping I had enough energy to attempt the climb. Finally we got to the top and made it to the next village. The team was there ahead of me and greeted me at the city gates and a Christian family there had a bed waiting on me. And I slept! For about 16 hours solid. Absolutely what I needed. I realized that Jesus had been with me the whole day, through the encouraging words of my friends, through his servants James and Phurpu. I was broken but healed at the same time. What is it about brokenness that teaches us so much? You never want to go through it, but I wouldn't trade that day for anything. The following video was filmed prior to the day's now infamous activities....enjoy!

Friday, June 13, 2008

1st pics from Nepal

Here is the first picture out of Nepal. I took this about 0500 one morning. Even with a cruddy camera its hard to mess that one up. The peaks you are looking at are Annapurna 2 and 4, both over 7100 meters. More to follow!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


My bed, my shower, my family, my dog, my goodness it is good to be home!
I got home about 11:15 last night after 40 continuous hours of travel from the Himalayas to rural NC.

I'm suffering the effects today, jet lag and some sort of gastrointestinal disorder that I wouldn't wish on anyone. But, I'm home, not in some airport or stuck in a hot airplane waiting on clearance to land.

I'll get started chronicling the trip to Nepal tomorrow after I download some pictures and videos. This all depends on how I'm feeling. But, hopefully tomorrow there will be some pictures up and some commentary on our trip. It was a blessing.

In the meantime check out one of my guide's website. His name is Phurpu (poor poo). It means Thursday in Tibetan. That is what day of the week he was born on. He was raised in a small village near MT Everest and came to faith in Jesus through a German mountain climber. Its a pretty cool story.

Our other guide was named James. James is a gifted musician and plays traditional Tibet style music but writes praise songs to Jesus with Tibetan themes. If you'd like to know how to get his music just contact me.

Both guys are Tibetan believers and are two of the greatest servant leaders I've ever met. I learned so much from them.

Phurpu's website is

Be back tomorrow.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Greetings from Kathmandu!

I won't have any pictures till next week but it was an adventure. When I get back to my computer at home I'll update each day with pictures so you can follow along with our trip.

Here are the nuts and bolts of it all. We hiked about 100 miles in 8 days going from altitudes just under 4000 ft to almost 13,000. In one case some of our team went as high as 15,500.

We averaged over 12 miles a day and this morning I really feel like it. Shin splints, back spasms, and general exhaustion are the rule.

We had many incredible opportunities to share the good news and I will update you on these as the days come.

We met two amazing men of God who have a heart for the Himalayas and treated us with unreal servant hearts.

An incredible journey no doubt.

But I long to hear these words, "Welcome to America son!'

I'll be home in a few days.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Here we go

Tomorrow is the big day. Here is what the next 48 hours look like.
  • We leave NC for NYC (2 hrs)
  • After a short layover in NYC we board a plane bound for Belgium (8hrs)
  • We layover in Belgium just long enough to fuel the plane then take off for New Delhi (9 hrs)
  • We arrive sometime in Delhi and stay there for about 20hrs
  • We leave Delhi for Kathmandu, Nepal (2 hrs)
  • We arrive Kathmandu, jump on a couple of vans and drive 8hrs west for Pokhara, Nepal
  • We then rest a day, get our gear fitted up and move out for the Annapurna circuit.
  • From that point we will walk for 10 straight days averaging about 10 miles a day.
When I get back I'll go straight to the physical therapist!

Be in prayer for our bodies and our spirits!

Will post again in a few weeks.

Friday, May 02, 2008

What a slacker!

I am so sorry, I have been away for so long and I apologize. Its been over a months since I posted last and so many things have happened in the last 5 weeks. I'll just run down a list of them for you.

  1. I've taken a long awaited mountain vacation with my family and our friends the Fero's. We hiked, fished, ate too much, laughed outloud, slept late, got up early, prayed, built a dam in the creek, planted some flowers and all in all had a blessed time
  2. I've raised all my money for Nepal
  3. I've put in a hardwood floor for a friend
  4. My friend Hank is going into full time ministry and I'm proud of him for it
  5. I've preached to soldiers and boyscouts
  6. I introduced a young soldier to my best friend Jesus
  7. I got a new pack and boots for Nepal from REI (what a cool store)
  8. I have eaten some ice cream with Tammy
  9. I've lost a friend and I'm sad about that
  10. I've been turkey hunting 8 times with no luck but still ran through the woods like Last of the Mohicans
  11. I've had my friends Robbie Fero, Jeremy Harrill, Mack Jarvis, Clayton King, Matt Orth and Nathan Smith help me in a tough time
  12. I've listened to a new book by Johne Eldreddge on my ipod
  13. My dog Levi has two coons he fights with in back of my house
  14. The leaves are green now and I can see the resurrection of life before me
  15. I fixed my lawnmower
  16. Found out my friend Frank Lauer is being stationed in Italy and I can't wait to visit
  17. Found out that I have another deployment coming
  18. I watched my little girl get a base hit in a softball game
  19. Been playing catch with my little boy
  20. I have grown to love my wife more
  21. And finally...I've walked with Jesus through the good and the bad.

Thats my top 20 update. Hope you all are well. I'll bring some pictures back on the nest post.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nepal 2008

It all began with a conversation with my brother Steve about 8 or 9 years ago. He asked a very thoughtful question about the fairness of God. We were on a long road trip from Texas to NC in a rented U-Haul truck towing a VW van, being brothers and discussing life. The question of Jesus came up. We talked about the Bible and the history and hipocracy of the church, intelligent design, ethics, the resurrection, historical reliability of the Bible and the fairness of God. Steve asked the question, "If Jesus is the only way to heaven, then what about the guy whose never heard living on a mountain in Nepal?" Now in seminary I learned all kinds of theological and philosophical answers to this. But sometimes those answers, though based in truth and sound reason, just don't meet us at our human level. I thought about his question for while and decided that I wouldn't give him the seminary answer. I decided I'd give him the answer that I beleive Jesus wanted me to give. I decided to go find that guy on the mountain in Nepal. So with 6 good friends in 2002 I went there and we found that guy and a bunch more like him. And while we were seeing the most beautiful country I have ever seen, trekking a hundred miles or so, we found people that were hungering for God. So the theological answers to troubling questions are necessary, but action oriented answers to these questions are just as powerful maybe more so. God does love every single human on this planet and He finds ways of getting the news to them, even if its a small group of people from NC.

So this year in May the journey continues. I am joining another group of friends to go back to Nepal to carry good news there. We are also taking a medic with us and we'll treat injuries and illness. The last time we were there we met a guy on the trail that had a 5" gash on his foot from an ax wound. It was badly infected. Luckily we had a high speed med kit and Grant, our "Doc", was able to treat the wound. In remote areas of the Himalayas wounds like that can be fatal. We are also visiting friends there to encourage them and yes we'll probably find some "guys on the side of the mountain"

Maybe you'd like to help us go. And to be quite honest we need help. I know everyone can't do a trip like this. I know jobs and life prohibit many from going, but you can be a part of the adventure by being the one who sends us. If you'd like to help we've set up a tax deductible way for you to partner with us. You can email me at for more information on how to assist us.

Thank you so much for reading this and pray for us as we go.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Update on Hunter

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for Hunter. I just got an email from his mom and he is home from the hospital and has no fever today. Keep lifting him up and I will update as the situation changes. Thanks again and praise God who answers prayer!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Prayer for a warrior

In my last post I introduced you to Hunter Monk, my new friend from Roanoke. I told you all about Hunter's battle with cancer and how he is a little warrior, fighting this thing. Over the weekend he was all smiles and feeling good, but I have gotten word today that he is not doing very well. The text below is from a lady that met there las weekend. If you have a moment please read this.

Hey Brad, I am Jane Assaid from Southside. I was with Ty when you signed his bible Sunday after church. I wanted to up date you on Hunter. I am one of Hunter's teachers from school so we just found out this information. He went in yesterday for his chemo and spiked a temp. of 105 last night. They have moved him to ICU and they are giving him antibiotics. His fever is down a little today but not much. He is sick from the chemo and of course throwing up. He is a little fighter and I know he is trying to fight this. I just wanted you to pray for him and Jodie and the family. Her husband is in Texas working and I know this is very hard for him to be away. Just keep them in your prayers. I will try to keep you posted as to what is going on if you want.

Its hard for me to convey to you how much I was touched by that little guy. Maybe its because I have a son myself or because Its just so hard to watch his eyes full of life while his body is so sick.

Would you please stop what you are doing and pray for Hunter. Pray for his mom and his little brother who doesn't quite get all this cancer stuff. Pray Hunter's dad who is in Texas working.

I will keep you all updated as to his condition. Thanks so much for praying for him.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My new hero!

This handsome little guy is Hunter Monk. He lives near Roanoke, Virginia and I had the privilege of meeting him this weekend. Hunter and I have the same hairdo, mine is from age, his is from radiation treatments. Hunter has leukemia. But, Hunter is also a 7 year old boy and even though his body is filled with a disease that can kill him, his life is in tact. He runs and plays with his brother. His name betrays one of his great loves in life, hunting of course. He told me about a coon that he had taken. He skinned it but the flies got to hide at and ate it up. What a blessing just to be around him and his family. I met Hunter while speaking at a wild game dinner this weekend put on by some great people at Southside Baptist Church and my new friend Steve Jones.

I've met some courageous people in the military. I've met men who have faced danger, fear, gunfire and IED's. But I have a new hero and its Hunter. A few months ago his kidneys failed and he almost died. But if you look in his eyes you can see that there is abundant life there.

My heart was touched by him and his infectious smile. We all want to ask why, why did this happen to such an awesome little guy. I don't know. I do know this that there will be a day when cancer and disease, war and hate, crime and jails no longer exist. It is the hope of the Kingdom. It is the hope of the promises of our God, that He will wipe away every tear and there will be no more death. But also remember that Jesus heals. So we pray for healing continually.

Please pray for Hunter as he is going to have tests run to see if he can handle chemo-therapy this week. Hunter has a long way to go, but we continue to pray for him and support his family.

His family has no insurance and are having to rely on the generosity of others to help with day to day needs. If you are reading this and you are moved to help this amazing kid in his fight please contact me and I can put you in touch with the folks that are helping his family out. You can do so through the comments section or by going to my profile and clicking the link for my email address.

To God be the glory

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CAT 31

Its graduation week for the Civil Affairs Qual course! Pictured left are my team-mates from CAT-31. The civilian dude is Dale from the McKinney Lake Fish Hatchery, he happened to get in our picture. From left to right are Joe "I've never been fishing" Sotile, Csaba Lukasc "The Enforcer", Brandon "Yes I do have an appointment!" Kreitz, The Chaplain, Dean "Hillbilly" McCoy, Ty "Ranger Joe or Catfish" Short, Beau "Mastiff" Dobbs, Casey "West Point" Baldwin and Ed "no nickname" Vela.

I could not have asked for a better team to work with. Everyone worked so hard and pulled together and made our team efficient, but it also made it fun to train with them. We grew close and I now have friends for life. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of this class with these fine people. Brandon and Dean are leaving soon for downrange missions and Joe follows on later in the year, keep them in your prayers. The rest of us will soon follow as our branch is a mobile one. We say bye to Csaba as he goes back home to Slovakia. I pray that God would allow us to see him again, he is a blessing to know, a quiet hard working man with a great sense of humor. I know his family has missed him terribly. To everyone in CAT 31... thanks and I will pray for you regularly. Thank you all!
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This is Isaam. He's a new freind of mine. We met in an unsual way at FT Bragg of all places. He's a role player in some of scenarios that we are put through in our training and Isaam played the part of the religous leader in the village we were training in. I noticed something in his eyes as I spoke through a translator. There was a kindess in them as you can see. We played roles all week long and finally at the end of training we got to meet as men, not actors. The first thing he said to me was, "He is the Savior!" and then I knew as I had suspected through those penetrating eyes, that Isaam was and is a believer. We hugged and got to spend a few very special moments together. I work in world where faith in Jesus is not something people talk openly about if at all. Only Chaplains wear it literally on their uniforms. To be able to just talk about the goodness of Jesus with this special man was worth the 20 mile road march and choking down all the MRE's of a 7 day field exercise.

Isaam informed me that he was from San Diego. I asked him where he went to church and he said that he went to Shadow Mountain Community church pastored by David Jeremiah. For those of you that don't I became a Christian 14 years ago not in a church or at a crusade or in a Bible study. I was lead to Christ by David Jeremaih over the radio as I listened in my car. It turns out that Isaam knows Dr. Jeremiah personally. Many people can point to their spiritual fathers. My son has me as the man who lead him to Christ. You may have that one person that you know that was instrumental in your faith journey. My spiritual father has no idea that I exist, that is until I met Isaam. Isaam went back to California and shared with Dr Jeremiah this week that there is a Chaplain in the Army that is engaged in ministry becasue he had been faithful 14 years ago to presnt the person of Jesus on the radio of all places. I am grateful today for men like Isaam and Dr Jeremiah. I am grateful that God ties up loose ends for us and sometimes in the randomness of life He lets us know that His plan is being accomplished in and through us. To Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever imagine be all glory and honor forever!
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The power of imagery

My friend, Frank, who is the best 1sg in the whole Army sent me this video. Now usually he sends stuff that would make me laugh till I puked. But even though he is a combat veteran with more scare badges than you can count, he has a spiritual side that is very tender and honest. He'll kill me when he finds out I wrote this, but I really don't care. When I watched this video I was mesmerized and found myself saying thank you Jesus. I hope you will too. Thanks to Frank!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

January update

Wow, its been a long time since logging a post here. I am truly sorry for my neglect. I've been busy in a school at FT Bragg, learning some new skills outside of the Chaplain world to make me better at being a Chaplain. Hope you all had a great Christmas. At our house we had a very relaxing time, I had 2 weeks off from training and it was awesome to be able to be home that long. I'm back at work now having my mind turned to mush by hour after hour of power point. In the Army its called "death by power point" and believe me it truly is, especially for someone who despises sitting all day. We'll finish this course with a field exercise which will be a welcome relief. I'll be back home in mid February.

Between now and then I'll be speaking at Crossroads Winter Conference in Gatlinburg ( ), then at Bethel Baptist Church in Troutman NC and in March I'll be at a Sportsman's Banquet in Roanoke VA. Its going to be a busy couple of months, but that is good.

I was reading John Eldredges latest email to his subscribers, you might know him as the author "Wild at Heart". He was talking about how he spent New Years Eve this year. I found it refreshing. Instead of making resolutions he consecrated the entire year of 2008 to Jesus Christ. He personally sat down and told God, that he was devoting the year to being oriented toward Jesus. He wrote it down as a reminder to keep him oriented later on in the year. I love being oriented. I hate being a new place and not knowing where I am. That is why I love GPS devices. I got a new one this year with a brand new antenna that allows for greater accuracy even in heavy cover and in valleys. The new antenna allows the receiver to be more accurate giving the user a more precise orientation to his position on the earth. I realized that I need to be like John and my GPS and consecrate this year with a renewed receiver. I need to be more oriented. I need to be a receiver that is able to pick up signals from above even in heavy cover. I think being intentional about pursing Jesus is that route. It is so true that spiritually we can navigate our way by having a more accurate fix on our current position. There are so many things that can come between us and God. We need amped up antennas.

I hope 2008 is the best year ever for you and yours. I pray for the Kingdom of God to be released in a mighty way for you in all you do!

The songs of life- Thanks to mom

My home was filled with music and people growing up. Mom loved music and can play an assortment of instruments but her favorites are th...