Thursday, November 21, 2013

Columbus Day Reunion with Golf Friends

On Columbus Day October 14, my best golfing friends reunited to play in the Annual Captain "Woody" Rushing Charity Golf Tournament at Kimbleland Country Club in Jackson, Missouri.  What a beautiful day!  Together we shot 7 under par and certainly had early opportunities to win the entire tournament.  However, we stopped to eat lunch at the first nine turn, laughed and told jokes, and consequently, lost our momentum.  The "birdie" streak ended. 

Nevertheless, the opportunity to just be reunited and be together was a highlight for me.  These men of God are all great golfers and tremendous friends that I value very much.  Maybe 2015 will be our turn to win the tournament overall.

Congrats to David, Sam, and John.  What a great group you are!

Grace moments,

Monday, September 30, 2013

Playing "Mirmichi", Justin Timberlake's Golf Course

Last weekend (September 27-29, 2013), Carmen and I traveled to West Memphis (Bartlett) Tennessee to visit with her brother who is a malpractice attorney.  It was a great weekend getaway from teaching school and an opportunity to enjoy a Sunday out of the pulpit.

On Saturday, Carmen's brother and I played "MIRIMICHI" golf course.  It is a championship golf course open to the public and owned by world- renowned entertainer Justin Timberlake.  "MIRMIMICHI"  What's in the name?  Justin Timberlake's roots are Native American.  "MIRMIMICHI" means "place of happy retreat."

The golf course, located just north of Memphis, is tucked away among rolling hills and tranquil woodlands.  Mirmimichi is a golf course that provides challenges around every fairway bend.  Deep pit bunkers, elevated greens, seven pristine lakes, waterfalls and creeks, and provides 7,400 yards of championship-level golf with greens comparable to greens at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.  In fact, Golf Week Magazine has rated MIRIMICHI as the NUMBER 1. golf course in Tennessee.   Check out the website at   From East Memphis, take I-40 West toward Little rock.  Merge onto TN-300 W via exit 2A toward Millington.  Immediately following the light at Fite Road, turn left onto Rust Road.  Turn left onto Woodstock Cuba Road.  Mirimichi is on the left.

How was my game?  Thanks for asking.  Aside from enjoying the panoramic course views, I played my best golf for 9 holes in ten years.  The course par is 72.  Here goes.  I shot a Par 36 on the front nine with two birdies.  I shot a 46 on the back nine (including 2 penalties) and finished the 18 hole excursion with an 82.  Did I have a witness?  ABSOLUTELY!

I was so "pumped" after this fantastic round of golf.  I'm definitely not ready for the tour, or any tour for that matter.  But I am playing so relaxed right now with a focus that has not been there since my brothers' death on June 5.  From tee to green and every step in between, I was challenged by this championship designed course and inspired by the beauty that surrounded me.

 I was equally impressed by the philosophy and practice of the course management to honor the land and the living ecosystem that MIRIMICHI shares with nature.  MIRIMICHI is the first golf course in the United States to be designated as a Certified Audubon International Classic Sanctuary.  And, it is the first course in North, South or Central America to receive Golf Environment Organization (GEO) certified status.

Any comments?  I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remembering MLK

This afternoon, I reflected on my past as I watched the television airing of 50th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. famous "I Have a Dream" speech today in Washington.  I was only 9 years old on August 28, 1953 as a young boy in Kentucky who had walked across the street to visit with my neighbor when MLK made his speech.  I watched in my neighbors living room...standing not sitting because I couldn't believe that someone was giving a speech but it sounded like a sermon in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

I knew that day something special was happening in history and I was a part of it.  My neighbor passed thru the room, pointed to the television screen and said MLK was a "trouble maker."  I was shocked that my adult neighbor whom I loved and admired held such racism and disgust for a man of peace.

I grew up in a Christian home but racism and racist remarks were frequently made about people of color.  It was not until I went to the military that I came to grips with my racist background.  My faith grew and I overcame my past even though my family did not agree with my understanding and acceptance of those who were different from me.

I am thankful today for my many friends of color I met in the military and those whom I have served with in ministry.  Our nation has gained ground but we still have more ground to gain.  Unfortunately, there are those who make racist remarks even within the Christian community.  I am so ashamed of them and pray for their faith to grow.  Oprah Winfrey said today in Washington on the steps where MLK once stood...."Injustice that occurs anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."  Another speaker quoted a Japanese proverb that says, "The water flows on but the river remains."  This means our work to eliminate injustice, oppression, and marginalizing of people remains unfinished.  We still have work to do in cleaning up the language and verbal conversations within the Christian community and other places as well. 

Together, we can help by showing God's grace to everyone on our journey.  "Let freedom ring."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Excellence and Diligence

With this new gig in ministry, worship leaders and myself are tweaking the order of service and flow in the contemporary service with the objective to achieve worship excellence.  The entire process begs for everyone's patience and cooperation.  The service has actually been "morphing" and last week's service was terrific with positive comments for those who worshiped with us.

So, my point is this.  We must bring excellence and diligence to our worship in order to move to the next level.  If we bring excellence to what we do__God will extend our influence.  God can get behind excellence.  When we exceed expectations, that is excellence.  When we bring excellence in our work or anything we attempt and do it everyday...that is diligence.  Proverbs 13:4 CEB  says,  "The lazy have strong desires but receive nothing; the appetite of the diligent is satisfied." 

How important is excellence and diligence to your job everyday?  Let me hear your comments.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is Your Mission a Moving Target?

Knowing the mission of the church is not only important but absolutely essential.  The mission for each United Methodist church is "Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."  It is clear, concise, and relevant.  However, our interpretation and action steps to the mission of the church can be like a "moving target" as often portrayed on one of my favorite reality shows called "Top Shot."

 Top Shot is a shooting competition among expert marksman who overcome unimaginable target and odds to win.  In order to emerge as a serious contender and a winner, a shooter must be focused on their hit the target...even if it is moving!   But somehow the shooter must focus his laser and view in his/her mind the clarity of the mission and see the target as right in front of them.

Now, think of your church's mission.  Does it have clarity?  A clear mission statement will tell you what to feed and what to starve.  It will also tell you what to focus on and what to ignore.  Otherwise, a person is easily seduced by every idea or proposal. 

It is hard to hit the bulls-eye when it is a moving target__or anyone who thinks it is a different target or no one knows for sure what the target is.  Unfortunately, when a church does not agree and possess clarity on the mission then one can expect the church going in all direction without a clear TOP SHOT.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Is God an Accuser?

In his book A Testament of Devotion, author Thomas Kelly writes "In this humanistic  age we suppose man is the initiator and God is the responder.  But the Living Christ within us is the initiator and we are the responders.  God the Lover, the accuser, the revealer of light and darkness presses within us."

What does Kelly mean when he calls God "the accuser"?  Let's consider for a moment how that when we live in disobedience instead of with Holy Obedience with God, we experience instantaneously an injured relationship with God where we experience condemnation but where God accuses us with divine compassion.  Let me try to explain.

For instance, we all know people in our lives who, either in their communication or body language they can offer us criticism both constructive and out-right critical, and it is difficult for us to swallow.  Makes a person want to retaliate or fight back.  But have you ever noticed that there are individuals in your life who can say anything critical (both constructive and out-right critical) as well, and because of the level of your relationship with that do not want to retaliate?  Have you ever noticed that and how it works in some relationships?

Well, the same is true with God.  Yes, he is the Accuser...just like He was with the Woman at the Well in John 4.  But God always accuses with compassion.  Jesus highlighted to this woman her inability to preserve long lasting relationships.  Nevertheless, Jesus offered her the opportunity for personal growth and salvation.

Kelly continues in his book to write a chapter on Holy Obedience.  Here, he says that through "mediation upon the amazing life and death of Jesus..." a person take the first step to Holy Obedience. (p. 32)  Kelly further says that "the second step to Holy Obedience is to begin where you are by obeying now.  He offers a third step in Holy Obedience as a counsel..."If you slip and stumble and forget God for an hour, and assert your old proud self, and rely upon your own clever wisdom, don't spend too much time in anguished regrets and self-accusations but begin again, just where you are." (p. 33)  Finally, Kelly offers a fourth consideration in Holy Obedience and that is..."Don't grit your teeth and clench your fists and say, 'I will!  I will!' Relax. Take hands off. Submit yourself to God.  Learn to live in the passive voice--a hard saying for Americans__and let life be willed through you.  For 'I will' spells not obedience." (p. 34)

What do you think?  Is God an accuser?  Can you accept and handle his criticism of your life? Share your response.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Quotes from Global Leadership Summit 2013

On August 8-9, I attended Willow Creek's Global Leadership Summit via satellite hosted by La Croix UMC in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  A special thanks to pastor Ron Watts for the ticket to attend.  I love to learn and benefited greatly from hearing Bill Hybels and General Colin Powell speak about leadership.  Below are some of their quotes.

Quotes from Bill Hybels:
  •  Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people.
  • God didn’t make you a leader so that you could merely reside in a position, but God made you a leader to move people from here to there. To make people so discontent with the way things are.
  • Every significant vision that God births in you is going to put your courage to the test.
  • Every leader knows how ugly it would be to move a cause halfway and then not be able to finish the job.
  • What do some leaders do when they get a challenging vision from God? They abort secretly. I believe that God has sent millions of visions to leaders all over the world. No one knows that all of these visions are being aborted though.
  • Don’t go to the grave with unrecognized visions dying inside
  • If you knew your vision would succeed, you would drop everything and pursue it today. But you lack one thing, basic bravery. Old fashioned courage.
  • Visions are holy commodities. They come from our transcendent God. Treat them with utmost respect.
  • There’s a time to cast vision, and then there’s a time to instill viable value.
  • Some of the most rewarding experiences in a leader’s marathon are reserved for quite late in the race.
  • Leaders, do not bail on your mission, no matter how tough it gets.
Quotes from Colin Powell:

  • Leaders inspire people to reach beyond themselves
  • The followers get the work done who want to follow you because leaders give followers a sense of purpose.
  • I can't achieve my purpose unless the person who works for me achieves their purpose.
  • A vision is a sense of purpose.
  • When a subordinate will not buy into your purpose and your vision then they must look for another job.
  • Leaders are always solving problems.
  • Followers don't like it when a bad leader is getting away with not solving problems.  What then?  First,  they will stop bringing problems to you.  Second, they will think you don't care enough to solve their problem.
  • Ego is the "red flag" in a leader.
  • Promote people on the basis of their potential not their performance.