3 Things I Love About New Orleans

I have had a distant love and attraction to the city of New Orleans since hurricane Katrina and the aftermath devastated that city in 2005. Before Grace Community Church officially launched, we wrote our first check to relief efforts in that city. I was in New Orleans for the first time earlier this week. I spent a couple days visiting our student ministry team who were there on a mission trip. It was a very quick trip, but in addition to seeing the great work our team was doing, I was able to visit with a few great pastors doing good work in the city.

I had been to Louisiana a couple times, but had never made it into the city of New Orleans. It was hot and humid, but I left with some good memories and was glad to see some ways God is impacting that city.

On a short bus ride from the car rental hub to the airport terminal, the bus driver asked what I liked most about the city. It was an easy answer:

Food – Sorry to put that first, but it was that memorable. I never had a bad meal. I asked at the hotel where I should eat and, while she did give me a recommendation, she also said, “You won’t find a bad meal around here.” She was right by my experience.

People – Everywhere I went, regardless of the class of people I met or the side of town I was on, they were friendly and helpful. I’m sure there are a few scrooges in New Orleans, but those may be the tourists and I didn’t encounter them. From the police to the restaurant workers to the clerks in a store, the locals seemed exceptionally nice.

Resolve – New Orleans is coming back after Katrina. That period remains very much on the minds of the people. It was obviously a defining moment in their history. Progress appears slower than some want it to be and there are still frustrations with the government, but from an outside perspective I saw a people determined to love their city back to health.

Yes, there are still problems. I wish those who choose to litter wouldn’t. There are some places good Christians shouldn’t go. πŸ™‚ The roads could use some attention. πŸ™‚ They could lower the humidity a bit for my comfort. πŸ™‚ I suspect they could find some of those issues in my city as well. Overall, I was impressed with the city of New Orleans.

Have you been to New Orleans either before or after Katrina? What were your impressions?

Let’s Talk Mentoring

I have had mentors in my life since I was in my early twenties. These men have added so much to the quality of my life. I can’t imagine doing life without them. Mentoring is certainly not a new concept, but it seems to be talked about more recently than I’ve heard in some time. People, maybe especially men, are looking for someone to invest in them and help them find their way.

This week alone I’ve had half a dozen conversations regarding mentoring, either personally or with someone on Twitter. It’s certainly an issue on my mind more recently. I shared some of that with you in THIS POST. I also recently wrote about one of the new mentors in my life HERE.

I’m currently playing with some ideas, perhaps a resource or two, considering what I can do to engage in this process and help with this need.

Will you help me think through this issue?

Let’s talk mentoring today.

First, take 5 minutes and complete my 10 question survey on mentoring HERE. (Your responses are completely confidential.)

Second, leave a comment on this post (so everyone can see) if you know of any good mentoring resources.

Third, please share this post with your friends online (or the survey link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/75Z7ZBL ) so we can get some good discussion going on this important topic.

Thank you for your participation. Hopefully more to come!

10 Reasons I Love America

I have visited many other countries and always been impressed with the cultures, beauty and people of other nations in the world. I appreciate the readers of this blog from around the world, and I have even been in another country as they celebrated their founding day. Today is our special day in the United States, as we celebrate our country’s founding.

I posted previously why I love my country, but I’m thinking the list might be endless.

In honor of my great nation, here are 10 reasons I love America:

Freedom – I have dear friends who fight to defend our freedom. This freedom gives me the right to do what I do without fear of government intervention.

Adventure – I love a capitalistic and entrepreneurial system of government and I’ve experienced both the ups and downs of our system.

Diversity – Every nation, race and color is represented here. We are integrated with diversity, which has made our country stronger.

Risk – This country was founded with risk and risk-takers are still applauded today. I would struggle personally in any other environment.

Determination – Throughout our history, Americans have had a desire to succeed at any cost.

Patriotism – We love our country. Period.

Volunteerism – When there is a need in the world, Americans will be among the first to assist. We may argue about our politics, but when there is trouble around, Americans come together and you want Americans nearby.

Beauty – I’ve traveled a great deal in our country. I can’t land on a “most beautiful”. Mountains, deserts, beaches, lakes, rivers, plains, and swampland. We have it all.

Opportunity – It’s still true. If you work hard enough, persevere through failures and setbacks, you can still achieve success in the United States.

Economy – Yes, I said it…and I mean it. Our economy has seen better (and worse) days. We still have much to be thankful for with our economy. Poor here is still rich compared to most of the world.

God bless the United States of America! Happy Fourth of July!

Why do you love your country?

You can read my previous posts:

10 Reasons I Love the U.S.A. (A more humorous look.)
The Real 10 Reasons I Love the U.S.A

My Current Heart Stirrings: Men’s Ministry

I did men’s ministry for many years before I went into vocational ministry. Recently I felt led to address the young men in our church. One Saturday morning, I invited men aged 35 and under to join me as I shared some thoughts with them. Basically I said to them what I wish had been said to me at that age. The response from the guys who attended has been amazing. They want more.

In the process of planning and praying for this event, God did something to my heart. I’m still processing all that means, but I know it involves being more intentional addressing concerns I see as a need for more godly men to lead in their homes, communities and churches.

This week I received this email. (Some details are omitted to protect the identity, although this email is one of dozens like it I receive each year.)

Hi, my wife and I attend your church regularly. My wife feels like I need to be more of a spiritual leader. I wanted to get your advice on what I should do as a husband to be more of a spiritual leader in my marriage and what it looks like. Thank you for your time.

Pastor, how would you answer that question?

God is placing a huge passion and burden on my heart for men, specifically young men who desire to be godly, but aren’t sure where to start. I’ve seldom met a man who didn’t want to do the right things, but I’ve met many who didn’t know how to get there. Mentoring and discipleship resources for men are rare compared to what’s available for women.

In the coming weeks and months, I’m going to spend more time addressing this issue here and in other venues. I’m even praying about a bigger opportunity to address this need. I don’t know what’s next completely, but I know when I stand before my God I want to have been faithful to His call.

Am I on the right track? Help me process this need and opportunity.

Men, be honest, do you need some help in this area of your life? Are you struggling in your roles as a man?

Women, what about your take on this issue? Do men need help learning to be godly men?

What are the best resources right now addressing this issue?

I’d love your input as it helps confirm and fuel my heart and thoughts.

Vacation Preferences

We are on a few days vacation this week. We came with another couple to the San Francisco area. Cheryl and I have traveled extensively, and we’ve been to California, but never to this part of the state. Even only after our first full day we love this place! It was a gorgeous day and we explored the famous Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and walked every inch of Alcatraz today. In addition, I ran 6 miles along the bay this morning. We came back to our hotel exhausted.

This is not an atypical day for Cheryl and me on vacation. On every vacation we are never still, seeing everything we can in the time we are away, and we often go home more tired than when we left. That’s how we do “vacation”.

How do you do it?

Join my quick post today and tell me how you spend vacation.

Do you:

  • Never slow down and see everything you can?
  • Do nothing you don’t have to do and simply relax?
  • Does it depend on the location and type vacation?

BTW, just to thank you for reading my blog and bothering to comment, I’ll draw one commenter randomly to win a copy of my devotional, book, Mustard Seed Thoughts.

Friday Discussion: Should We Boycott the the New NIV Bible?

Southern Baptists this week in their annual convention voted to reject Zondervan’s new version of the NIV Bible. Citing the gender neutralizing changes, such as saying “parent” instead of “father”, among other changes, the convention voting decisively to state their objection to the new version. The resolution also suggests to Lifeway stores, a Southern Baptist entity, that they refuse to sell the version. There are actually several NIV versions after the original and more popular 1984 edition. This objection is to the newest release. You can read the entire resolution HERE.

I’ll be honest. I had already decided not to use the version personally after seeing a change in one verse. Philippians 2:5 is one of my favorite verses. It’s critical to understanding who we are to be in Christ, in my opinion. I don’t like the wording change in the TNIV.

  • The original 1984 NIV says: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
  • The new NIV says: In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had…

That seems like a major change to me. So, according to the revision, I suppose I’m only to have the mind of Christ when I am dealing with other people. If I’m by myself I can have any mind I want… πŸ™‚

Anyway, that change alone was enough for me and I’ve decided not to use the version.

At the same time, I’m not big on denominational boycotts either, so I’m not sure how I would have voted had I been there.

What about you? Discuss with me.

  • What version of the Bible do you use?
  • How would you have voted at the Southern Baptist Convention?
  • Should we boycott the TNIV?
  • How do you feel about gender neutralizing the Bible?

Be honest…Discuss!

A Word to the Men: From Pastor Ron

The last two years have been a season of change in my life. I’ve experienced a change of perspective as we’ve transitioned into being empty nesters and I’ve experienced a change of passion in terms of where I see God wanting me to invest my energies.

At 47 years of age, I have learned enough to know there are things I wish I had known earlier in life. Reflecting on my role as a husband, father, and leader, I realize how much wisdom is necessary to accomplish all that is required of men. In my conversations with other men, I know that many men never received proper instruction and wisdom on what it means to be a man. I have a strong and growing desire to encourage the next generation of men and young leaders to be men of God in their homes, churches and communities.

Recently I felt led to address the younger men of our church with this issue on a Saturday morning. In a simple, two hour gathering, I plan to speak to men candidly and challenge them to live godly lives in all areas of their lives. The premise of the meeting will be to address the men as if I was sitting with one man, helping him discern how to be a godly husband, father, and leader.

If you are in the area, come join us Saturday, June 18 from 8 to 10 AM at St Bethlehem Christian Church. We have advertised this to men age 35 and under. That’s not a magic age and no ID’s will be checked at the door. We are limited in space and want to make sure I’m addressing audiences younger than me. I’m still learning how to be 47!

Young men, be honest: Do you wish someone further down the road in life would speak into your life?

The Strangest Thing You’ve Seen in a Woman’s Purse

So the other day I was at a mall and witnessed something that made me chuckle. This mom apparently had 3 kids and a husband. Of course, that was an assumption I made about them, but for this story it won’t really matter. What I thought was funny was the woman’s purse. It wasn’t huge, but every child and the husband wanted something from the woman and she found it in her purse. Apparently she was the keeper of her family’s stuff.

Ever seen that one before?

She had a brush, money, some kind of medicine, something to drink and a bottle of mustard…and I’m sure some other things. I know…random right…but that’s what made me chuckle. This mom was prepared for whatever her family needed…all within a single purse.

So it made me wonder

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in a woman’s purse? If you’re a woman…feel free to share the strangest thing you’ve ever carried in your purse.

I’m curious…Share now!

Thank You for Your Service

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Thank you for those who have committed their life to protecting our nation’s freedom!

Happy Memorial Day!