Jesus loves me this I know. Debra Wants me this I know. My kids appreciate me this I know. My church encourages me this I know. My Life Group cares for me this I know. Everything else I know, I will share with you.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Year in Review part two

2011 was a good year for the church, but how would I describe my year? It may sound strange by it was just OK except for one thing I will share at the end that was awesome.

Busy was the early part of 2011. There was so much going on with new families and all of their new needs. Most people who come to church need some form of stabilization in their life before they can grow spiritually and 2011 was no different.

Add to that our first Liberty Theater service and you have a recipe for work. It was good work, fruitful work, but pretty busy.

Because of this I did not take care of myself mentally or physically as I should have and found myself longing for a break and by the middle of August I was ready to go.

This began a 20 day, 6500 mile adventure with my brother that was amazing. On my Harley the only thing I have to concentrate on is the road and the only council I can give is to myself. And while I missed my wife and children horribly, I would have gone back on the road a month later if I could have. It was refreshing, freeing, fun, and I believe every man should go on a trip like this every year. Praise God my wife is so amazing.

But when I came back, I fell right back into the same routines that wore me out before and soon I found myself weary again. and then.............

Something amazing happened. I found hope again.

Hope in my Calling as a Pastor.
Hope in my Commission as a Christian.
Hope in my Command as a Husband.

From a one day conference on ministry I was given answers to questions no one had ever been honest enough to give me. And questions that I would have to seek answers to on my own but at least I had a guide line to work from. I can't wait to work these things out in my life and I am sure that you all will benefit from that experience greatly.

For most of the year it was OK other than the trip. It was awesome. and the conference it was amazing. But there is one great thing I think may have finally sunk in.

I never want to end a year with an OK.
There is so much life God has called us to live. Jesus said life with Him would be abundantly lived and that's what I am looking for in 2012.

What about you? OK or Oh Yea

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Year in Review part one

2011 was an interesting year for me. Not great, not horrible but worthy of remembering.
I say this because at 48 you start to stack up some years you would love to forget, but you also begin to work harder at living the ones worthy of memories. So here are a few from my year 2011.

Church Memories:
2011 started out amazing as we saw 15 baptisms and 25 people join the church. After years of transition we started seeing the fruit of God's work in our lives. It continued on with an amazing Easter service where we had 278 in attendance. For us that was huge.

But soon after we suffered the loss of a couple of long time members who decided to go elsewhere. Its always sad to lose loved ones but sadder to think they would stay unhappy with where they were.

The summer was kind of blah in the church but that might have been because I was so focused on a motorcycle trip with my brother.

In the Fall, fresh off of 6500 miles of American Asphalt something changed in the church. People started just coming in. Amazing people who loved God and loved what we were doing. I remember asking Tim Clark who all these people were and he himself didn't know. All we knew was that they were as excited about Jesus as we were and all of them wanted to worship with us.

After years of declining attendance we grew in 2011 by more than half. Christmas closed out our year with 367 in attendance at a wonderful service at the Liberty.

Its been a good year for our church as we have seen so many come to know Christ, take the step of baptism, and desire to be part of what we are doing.

For those of you who have stuck it out. Thank you for your faithfulness and willingness to keep serving. And for those of you who are new I look forward to seeing how God uses you to love Him and others.

Tomorrow: My Year in Review

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Letter from PRob

Hey newLife I know that were supposed to be taking a break this week but there are seven things I wanted to share with you today about this past year.

1. "278/368" - The number in attendance at the Liberty theater on Easter and Christmas. These are the largest crowds God has ever allowed us to minister to in the same place.

2. "80%" - The percentage of people involved in one way or another to our Christmas service. The importance of this number is in the church world that number is10% and even in our past that number of involved people was closer to 20%. Big Steps newLife.

3. "50" - The number of people in attendance at Life - East. And its only the third week.

4. "52%" - The amount of Average Sunday AM attendance increased over the last 12 months.

5. "52" - The number of Sunday Morning Opportunities to reach more for the Kingdom of God in 2012.

6. "10" "6" "1" - The number of Teachers, Instrumentalists, and staff we need right now to step up and serve. Each need to be gifted, giving, and able to meet our church needs and not all of them are here right now.

7. "1" God, Savior, Holy Ghost to whom we will love, serve, follow, and share in 2012.

Its been an amazing year for our church and I believe as God continues to refine us and define us 2012 will be even more exciting.

Thank you for faithfully sticking with what God is trying to do in us and through us as we learn to Love God and Love Others in 2012.

PS: for those of you who think that this post was all about the numbers, it was.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
(any and all are numeric terms.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

One last thing.

We must remember as we prepare for our service tonight.
The power of One.

In Luke chapter 15 we find a powerful truth about one.

There was One sheep lost.
One coin lost.
One son lost.

But when one was found, all Rejoiced.
So please be praying this morning for that one lost soul, one lost heart, one lost son who tonight may finally come home.

See you at 7

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Person of the Year Part 2

Last week Time Magazine came out with their Person of 2011 and it was the "Protester." While I shared a few things about this yesterday, today I want to know .....

Who is your Person of the Year?
Who is the person who had a huge impact on you in 2011? Was it a Pastor, an author, a teacher, a friend or family member?

For me it was older brother Dave. He has been there for me through some very difficult times, sharing his wisdom and more importantly his life. I was honored to spend 19 days on a Harley Road trip with him and it literally changed me. We shared miles, meals, money (almost all from him), motorcycles, and memories that will last a lifetime.

That is mine. Your Turn.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Person of the Year Part 1

Time Magazine has named their person of the year for 2011 and its the Protester. Yep, the person of the year ended up actually being a group of the year.
And I get this.
The Protester changed the world much like our forefathers did 200 + years ago.

But it made me think.......while I think protesting is not what we as Christians are called to do, we are called to turn the world upside down.

What if rather than sit around and complain about the world, we got involved in an more proactive way much like the "Protester".

What if instead of complaining about drug and alcohol abuse we sought out and loved on those who find the only way to survive is to self medicate?

What if instead of whining about how the church has failed we go out and be the Church God has called us to be.

If I am going to be a Protester, I am going to Protest Christians who have a problem with everything the church does and challenge them to get more involved.
To Live more, to Give more, to Love more, to Do more to make a difference in our world.

If newLife was the Church God called us to be, we would "Protest" how Selfish Christians are. Instead of fighting corporate greed we would fight Christian greed.

 I clearly believe that Time got it right and the "Protester's" have inspired me.

Its time newLife to turn the world Upside down.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anticipation is not Red and Thick, but its close

My wife says that Ketchup ruins everything. I say it makes everything taste better and proudly put it on everything.

Anticipation is that way. Some may say it covers up what is really there, I say, it makes everything taste better.

I can't help myself, Sunday is going to be AWESOME!

Sunday will be one of the most important messages for anyone who has suffered from depression. I didn't say it would be an easy message, but if you want to come "Out of the Depths" you will have to hear Gods plan for it.

Our attendance last Sunday was a record for our church. Some say its not all about attendance but that's what SATAN says. The bible says that God is not willing that ANY should PERISH! We want as MANY of the ANY we can get.

Our Greeting ministry was Amazing! I can't wait to see what happens this week.

And of course, our Christmas Service is coming up!

Our future looks bright, I can't wait to see what God is going to do next!

Have a Great Day Today and put some Ketchup on it!
Anticipation makes Every Day Better!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Psalms

Jonah 2:3 (KJV) For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
In the deep places of the heart, where depression lay as the floods of fear overwhelm, I found a few songs that spoke to me. New Psalms that spoke to me in my loneliness from men who I did not know, but knew what I was going through. I want to share a few of them with you today.

#1 Revelation by Third Day - Listen to the words, they were mine. #1 in my Playlist by far. I wanted God to help me, save me, show me, free me.

#2 Born Again by the Newsboys - This is what I wanted. This is the Life I desired in Christ. Not the religion I had been taught from a child, but a relationship with the one with two scarred hands. I claimed this whenever I felt is was slipping back or when someone tried to move me there.

#3 Mountain of God by Third Day - You were there with me. Do I need to say anything more?

#4 Rescue by Desperation Band - I need you Jesus to come to my Rescue. I still cannot listen to this song without weeping in that Jesus came to me and saved me from the deep.

#5 Never Alone by Barlow Girls (Acoustic Version) - This was my Anthem for a while. My Prayer. I Screamed it. Held onto it as there were many days when I felt so alone, but I held tight to what I knew, Your here and Never Alone.

#6 Love is here by Tenth Avenue North. From His Wounds we drink Salvation, He is the Lord, Love is here, Love is now. WOW

None of these are songs of Worship. They are songs of the Wounded. Songs that spoke for me when I could not speak. Songs of hope, when I had none. Songs that kept me going when I wanted to quit.

Maybe they'll help You.

Have an Awesome Day. Love is Here. Thank you Jesus

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Letter from PRob

Hey newLife there are seven things I want to share with you today about Sunday

1. Sunday was the most energetic pre-church service we have had in a long time. There was an anticipation of what God was going to do and He showed up powerfully.

2. Sunday was awesome because I saw so many people greeting and caring for others. From the parking lot to the pew people were loved. One first time visitor told me that He had never felt so welcome in any church he has ever been too. Great Job Tim and Debra for leading those efforts.

3. Sunday You all Learned to Clap! What is up  with that? It was Awesome.

4. Sunday the Song service was just what I needed to free myself from me and find myself focused on Jesus.

5. Sunday Anthony showed us a side of himself few of us ever knew.

6. Sunday the message spoke deeply to me and I appreciate the fact that this church allows me to be real without judging me for it. The pain I see in so many, I have felt, and I just want them all to be free. NO ONE ought to live in Depression for long. and NO ONE ought to be ALONE when going through it.

7. Sunday is Coming Again, Lets Anticipate Greater Things.

Lets get the Party Started

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's all Cake

I loved birthdays growing up.
Being the last of eight kids my mom went all out.
Tons of presents, lots of friends, fun games, and cake.
I love cake.
German Chocolate.................uuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm.

Birthdays were that one day when I felt special, important, valued.
I even loved going to my friends parties for the same reasons.
It was there day and I got to celebrate it with them.

Now they just suck.
My next one will be 49. Kill me now.
and everyone of my friends feel the same way cause thier all old too.
But thats not the point of this post.

I feel that way about Sunday.

I can't wait to get to the Party.
We are going to celebrate Jesus!
We are going to Sing our Guts out!
We are going to share the Good News!
We are going to have a Baptism!!!!!!!! (In warm water)
We might even have someone join our church!
Lets Go All Out!

Maybe we should have a Cake?

I love MY LIFE

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Can I get a Witness!!!!!!!

This morning I woke up at 2:00 am. Not to be sympathetic to the Loggers in the Church, but because of too much.

Too much I want to do for God.
Too much I need to do for the Church.
Too much I have to do for my life.

I'm back a day and a half from a conference on learning how to finish well and I am already overwhelmed.

Too much is too much.
There is so much that has to be done.
All of the phone calls, all of the meetings, all of the sermon prep, all of the relational activities.
And it has to be done today.
No rest for the wicked.

But I'm not wicked.
Jesus saved me from that moniker years ago.
His work on the cross freed me from the bondage of wickedness.
His life was given for mine.

So why no rest?
Because I'm choosing to live my wicked life again.

Peter understood something about choosing to live the wicked life when He denied Christ. He got caught up in all that was going on with Jesus Crucifixion and failed miserably, so when he writes about this subject he writes from experience.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Its my pride that tells me that I have to get it done............myself.
That I have to carry the burden............myself.
That if I don't get it all done I will fail...............myself.
But Peter learned another option.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Today I am going to do two things.
1. Recognize that God cares for me.
He loves me and saved me from the wickedness that drives me.
He wants me to love my life, to live it to the fullest, to be free.

2. To do this, I have to cast my cares upon Him.
Is it that simple?
I am going to get off the computer, take my too much to Him in Prayer and go and live my life to the fullest.
What gets done, will get done because of His work in me.

Rest, yes, but for the Witness not the wicked.

Why is this important for me?
because of the next verse.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
My life has an adversary.
He wants to steal and to kill and to destroy.
He wants me to live overwhelmed and fearful which will lead me back to a wicked life.

No rest for the wicked.

I'm am going to go and pray, then go to breakfast with my brother, and then I will start a very long day.
And its going to be Awesome.

Join me this morning by casting all those burdens that are weighting you down on Him.
and be a witness of the grace, love and mercy of our Savior.

I love my Life

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No rest for the Wicked, is true, but there is hope!

If there is one truth about conferences, it is this, They are not for Rest.
Because to be a part of a conference, you have to get there.

The Travel is stressful.
The Time is wasteful.
The Meals are horrible.

and then at the conference they leave you with more questions than answers.

But I guess that's why they called it Re-Awaken.
The goal of this conference was to wake you up to what wears you out to keep you from wimping out.

And it did, and I'm Glad.
and Today I ask for your Prayers.

I have so much to work on in my life Physically, Emotionally, Relationally, and Spiritually to be the Pastor newLife needs for the future. And, for the first time in years I have hope that I can not only survive but thrive in ministry.

newLife is becoming a great church and I am excited to be a part of it and hope, that the work that God is doing in my life will help Debra and I to FINISH WELL.

But before I begin, I am going to rest from the travel, so I can work on the truth.
Thank you newLife for caring for me enough to allow me to do so.

I love my LIFE

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cover Your Mouth!!!!!!!!

I hate colds.
It's not just being sick, but that it's an annoying sick.
Annoying in that your nose runs all the time, breathing hurts, and you just generally feel gross. And worse of all, annoying in that colds are so easily preventable.

If your getting sick, rest.
Stay germ free by washing your hands.
Eat properly.
If you cough or sneeze do so into your own arm.

This week Debra and I attended a conference for sick Pastors.
They stated that 90% of Pastors do not finish the course of their life well.
I took it as if a Pastor does not finish well, how would thrived church finish?

If I have a cold, hang around me too much and you'll probably get sick too.

I am walking away from this conference with the understanding that I need to be healthier aa a Pastor.

1. I need to rest more.
A. Physically
B. Emotionally

If I am going to finish well.

2. I need to wash more.
A. Be more aware of my own Spiritual health.
I. more time in personal prayer and bible study rather than people prayers and sermon prep.

3. I need to eat better, more healthy.
For me this is more than more bible study or book reading, but meditating on what I am getting from God.

4. I need to be more aware of my own sin, and repent of it.
Even our bad attitudes can spray filth on those around us infecting them with our bad day.

newLife I want to be healthy and finish well.
I don't want to end up a statistic or a sick man embittered and battered by the work of God.
And I definitely want our church to be coldless.

Pray for me as I begin this journey of health to finish well.
I'll share more as I travel.

Have an awesome day tomorrow!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


At re-awaken and ready. Please be praying for Debra and I as we recharge after 15 years of service to our Lord. And thank you church for being so great to us. I hope you have an awesome prayer meeting tonight as this is an amazing time for our church. I'll write more tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Letter from PRob

Yesterday was a tough day for me.
Its not easy being that open in a judgemental world.
Often it only opens up more fears that depress.
I had a hard time getting away from my notes, it was too important to miss a thought, a truth.

But I am not alone as the hands raised testified.
They understood as they've been in the belly of the whale.

and I am thankful for them. Those who struggle with depression as I believe God saving them for a reason. They will be free one day. Free from the lies that lead us to run from God. Free from the hurts that push us away from men. Free to live a thriving life, free from that which takes life, freed by the one who gives it.

God gave me Love in Jesus, Life through Jesus, and is living in me as the Holy Spirit.

Do I struggle with depression still? Everyday.
My flesh wants to fight the truth of God.
I don't know why, but it does.
and so everyday I must choose to walk in the Spirit. hear His voice feel His love trust His leadership touch His people

I know many of you are still in the belly, just know, though it feels lonely in there, we are here for you, with you, Cheering you on to Freedom.

Just repent of the lie and you will see the light of day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How Change Happens - The Final Chapter

I am fast approaching my 15th year as an ordained Pastor.
The Accident that motivated change in my life happened almost 9 years ago.
My Personal change occurred almost 4 years ago.
I began to lead the church differently 4 years ago as well.

Change Happens through Great Promises.

There was never a guarantee that what God was doing in my life would spread to others.That the Love that I felt from Him and wanted to share with others would work on a church scale.

I had never experienced a church like it. and its not like the church was a bad church, it just wasn't all it could be.

In November of 2007 God gave me the revelation I had been looking for.
It was the book of Nehemiah and His word was so clear.
Rebuild the walls in 52 days.

I spoke with a very close Pastor friend who told me that changing a church is like turning a ship, it takes time and can get stuck on a sand bar. Another told me that its easier to give birth than raise the dead.

And while I understand both points and I agree that there are some churches that the culture is so toxic that there is no way it would change but it would be best to let it die.

I didn't feel that way.
God would not let me leave town.
God would not free me from the bonds of this body.
and so four months after sitting on this series of messages, I started in believing that it was a God thing.

It was not easy, as friends, co laborers, even family left us.
Our attendance in 2010 was horrendous and the offerings hideous.
But I believed the Promises of God.
I believed that I we loved God and Loved Others everything else would fall into place.

and suddenly, others began to believe.
Many early adopters to change began to change themselves in 2008.
others took a little longer and began to change in 2009
while even others, maybe a little sceptical at what was happening, began to change themselves in 2010.

and suddenly, in December of 2010, God began to fulfill His promise bringing people to our church who wanted what we all wanted.
To love and be loved.
and today, not minimizing the people of our past who helped get us here, today, our church has changed.

We are newLife, and we are living a newLife, and we are bringing others to newLife in Christ.

But it never would have happened if people would not have believed the promises.
So while I am a day late in giving Thanks, Thank you for believing the promises of God.

and that through our experiences, others can have faith in them as well.

Change can happen in any church, but it starts with me and you.

and I feel like I've been Born Again (#2 on my Play list, Thanks Third Day)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How Change Happens Part 3

Change happened in me through Great Pain (see post from 11/22)
Change happened in me through Great Prayer (see post from 11/23)

and change happened in me through Great Problems.

I know what could be a problem to great change in our lives?
The point is simple, but not easy.

When we Change we Change, others don't.
Through my great pain and my great prayer I was ready to live a different kind of Faith life.

I felt unloved, alone, and hopeless.
I knew what that felt like. I experienced the frustration from a Christian community that was more concerned with self than the suffering
and I vowed never ever, to purposefully allow someone to feel this if I could help it.
and the faith that I promoted, the Church that I pastored, the people who were supposed to be my friends.......... Didn't understand it.

Pastors, who didn't really care anyway, shunned my change or tried to guilt me into changing back.
Some Church members, who were more concerned with their Traditions, separated themselves from my change thinking that they were going to punish me by their leaving the church.

and this created great Problems.
I loved these Pastors
I loved these People
but I had to chose between them and Loving God.
And so I did.

This caused great problems in the church as many faithful members left the church.
Emotionally this was difficult as many who stayed, didn't understand their choices.
Financially this was difficult as many who left were wonderful faithful givers.
Relationally this was difficult because with a drop in attendance there is less ministry happening.

This caused great problems in the community as well because many of the former members in order to defend their choice had to demonize my change and choices for the church.

But Change never happens if Everyone and Everything Stays the same.
Every change in your own lives, will cause problems with those who are around you.
But when Change is necessary, the problems are inevitable.

But that's not all, check out tomorrows post.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Change Happens Part 2

While pain is a great motivator to change, that change if its lasting, comes from the next step in change.

Through Much Prayer

But not your garden variety prayers like.....
God is great God is good let us thank Him for this food.
Dear God. mumble mumble, mumble sssssssssssssssssssssssssss
Dear Heavenly Father, At this present precious time of purposeful reflection upon the beauty of your majestic Holiness and the power of your purple mountains majesty, blah blah blah

My conversations with God started out with Great Commotion
I was Angry. Much of what I believed about God didn't add up.
People who said they were praying for me, never prayed WITH me.
God didn't seem to Care, Christians didn't seem to Care and yes I got angry.
     Where are you God?
     Why are you doing this to me?
     What did I not do? and what work do I need to do?
     Don't you see me God? Don't you care?
     Debra's Hurting every day Lord.
     She may not walk Again.
     Are you there?
     Where are those Christians who talk so much of Love?

Oh there were many more, things I am ashamed of that I said to God in my anger.

My Conversation changed to Great Crying
I am not ashamed to admit it.
But I spend many hours weeping over the pain.
I felt forsaken, I felt forgotten, I felt punished wrongly.
I had to watch my wife suffer in pain, my children suffer without her.
Why God?
Much of this time I sought a revelation.
and as the Third Day song says, I was trying to find my way, haven't got a clue, But I knew that I had nothing without You.

(This song has been played more than any other song in my I-Tunes and I cried through it even this morning)
I wanted to run, to leave this place of pain.
I even contemplated the benefits of death.

But I knew that I was wrong
and after a few years, yes years, my conversation changed to Great Conviction

One day, I don't even remember the day, but one day, Jesus came.
God came and let me know, He loved me.
God came to me in a time of prayer and spoke through the pain of my heart.
Though I yelled at Him, Though I contemplated leaving Him, Though I was unworthy of the God of the Heavens to take any time out of His life, God came to me.

And I saw how selfish I had been.
In the way I believed, in the way I worshipped, in the way I worked as a Pastor.

Standing before the Holy Father I was undone, I was uncovered.
and I repented.

Three years in the belly of the Whale, and through one act of Love by God, I was laying on the beach as He lovingly freed me from the bondage of the sin of my selfishness.

But there is another step to how change happens that I will share tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Change Happens Part 1

During our Sunday Morning pre-service meeting, one of our faithful servants spoke of a conversation they had with someone from another church who asked the question, "How do you change a church?" and so I thought I would answer that question.

Through Much Pain.
I know that the more spiritual will say it is through much Prayer but that's not how it started for us.
Pain is an amazing motivator to change and God uses it all the time.
For me it started with the pain of my wife's car accident.
We were taught not directly but indirectly, that if you did right things, right things would happen.
God blesses obedience, God honors faithfulness.

To us that meant that good things would happen. and then WHAM. Our world changed.
It was as if God had forsaken us. My God. The one to whom I believed would take care of His own was not. My faith, or at least my belief system was shaken.

From that accident and the fears we had believing that Debra would never walk well again, we had more pain. The people I had pastored, loved, cared for, ministered to, sacrificed for, were concerned but not necessarily caring. And to add insult to injury, my friends, Pastors that I called to encourage constantly, Men that I fellowshipped with, did little or nothing. The relationships that I thought were there to encourage my family through this difficult time, were non-existent. And if it was not for my brother Dave, the Ness family, the Guest Family, and Dale McGinnis we would have had nobody. Surrounded by people, The fruit of my love and life was loneliness.

And all of this pain, caused me to reexamine everything. James talked about pure religion being one of loving the lonely and Jesus said this about Christians and Pastors that you would know them by their fruit that it would be that of love.

and I looked around at my own life and did not like what I saw. My Faith was not producing Spiritual Fruit and my Family (Church and Pastoral Friends) were concerned by not caring. In fact many of them were very judgemental and still are.

It hurts to hurt and be surrounded by selfishness.
It hurts to hurt and be suffering in loneliness.
It hurts to hurt and be stagnated by cold Christianity.

and while I am not blaming anybody, what I am saying is that God used this great pain, to make a great change in me.

To be the Best Christian I could be I had to stop being selfish and focusing on my pain, when all around me people were suffering similar lives of loneliness.
To be the Best Christian I could be I had to stop suffering in loneliness and surround myself with people who know not only how to be loved but to love.
To  be the Best Christian I could be I had to stop stagnating myself with a cold emotionless Christianity and begin to see Jesus through the lens of His Grace and Love.

I could have been bitter
I could have walked away from God and the Church
I could have blamed Christianity and Pastors and my Parents

But by God's grace, He gave me a better way.
Change Me

Pain, Great Pain, Motivated Me to Change

and I am so thankful for that Pain.

Tomorrow, How Change Happens Part 2

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


You could........
...spend your day thinking about how bad life is
...spend your day dwelling on how messed up churches are
...spend your day believing that your right and everyone else is wrong
...spend your day focusing on what others are or are not doing


You can......
...spend your day thinking about how amazing life is with Jesus.
...spend your day dwelling on how you can make YOUR church better.
...spend your day believing that having grace is more godly than being judgemental.
...spend your day focusing on what God is doing in YOUR life.

I wonder what would give you a better day?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What is your Business?

In the message Sunday I mentioned something that I was going to blog about, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was.

I remember Anthony saying the word Brain Fart from the Platform. (For all of you who can't handle that I am sorry)

I remember how Khristie Dhalke Sang out with such beauty and passion. (She was behind me)

I remember Garth raising His hand in admission to being different and at times difficult.

But I do not remember my part.
and I think that there is a problem with this.

I wonder how different our life experience would be if we started paying more attention to how we act, think, and are, than we do about others.
Many of us have a problem remembering our sinfulness, but struggle to forget others.

People in Churches are notorious for judging others without judging themselves first.
Pastors Love to attack others, but never think that maybe their attack is as evil as those to whom they are attacking.

What if we were more concerned with remembering what we do?  Rather than dwelling on someone who wrongs us we dwell on how we deal with it. Rather than worrying about what someone else is doing we stay mindful on what we are doing.

Before Jesus left the earth for Heaven, He told Peter in John 21 to feed the Lords sheep.
Three times Jesus questioned Peters love and loyalty finally frustrating Peter to the Point of anger. Then, once Peter had finally stated that He loved Jesus and would serve Him, Peter says, what about John? To which Jesus replies to Him and us this morning.

"If its my will that He waits till I come, What is that to you? Follow Me!"

We would do well to remember our responsibilities, and worry less about others.

Have an Awesome Day


Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Wake Up Call from Apple

Thanks to the many loving members of newLife I was a able to purchase an I-Pad to help with the Ministry. And amazing as it is, right out of the box, it doesn't work.
So after spending a few hours on the phone I have to return it.

That's not the problem.
It is Apples Arrogance.

One, that they would sell something so valuable that doesn't work, yet believe its the best on the market.
Two, that they would assume that waisting my time is the price I would pay to own their product.
and Three, that they would not be embarrassed and apologetic for their arrogance and change.

and it was a Wake Up Call.

We have the most valuable message in the world and believe its the best on the market.
We assume that the way we do church is so desirous by people that they would put up with poorly put together services, messages, and ministries because their members.
And rather than change to make the work we do Representative of the Value of the message, we arrogantly assume people just need to buy it.

I have no desire today to hammer on other ministries or to address other Pastors faults.

I as a Christian, have the most valuable message in the world. It is not just the best, but the Only Message that Saves men's souls from sin.
I as a Pastor, cannot assume to waist peoples time with a poor presentation of that message, but must study to shew myself approved, be bold in its delivery, and stay focused on the work at hand.
I as a Member of newLife, must desire excellence in all ministries as everything we do is reflective of that message.

I want people to believe in Jesus.
I want Jesus to be King in every home.
I want Jesus stickers to be on the back of every ones car.
I want people to want to come to church because Christ is Valued and so are they.

There are enough Arrogant Churches and Christians who like Apple assume that they are the best.
But the proof is in the service call.

Time for more change newLife. Its gonna be good

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When not being Lustful is difficult

When I was a younger man, if I saw something I wanted, I got it.
It didn't matter if I could afford it or not.
It didn't matter if I needed it or not.
If I saw it, and I wanted it, I got it.
It didn't matter what others said, not even God.
My flesh wanted it and wanted it so bad that it would go to any length to get it.

This is the Lust of the flesh in its most basic form.

But what happens when you don't allow the flesh to lead you?
How are decisions made?
I know I know your all going to say Pray about it and that is true, but there are some decisions that are difficult because there is no clear bible explanation and so the answer could easily come from what my flesh is telling me and not God.

and here is the Answer. Wait.
If your not clear in what you ought to do, wait. Don't do anything.

Most of the time if I wait, my flesh will change its desires leaving me a clearer understanding of God's definite leading.
I may make the same decision I would have before, but it will be without my sinful flesh leading the way. And even if I miss out on what I wanted, I am better off to miss a good deal than to be damaged by a bad one.

Wait, I know its hard, but wait.
Not all decisions are easy, but the hardest ones are the ones you've made wrong. Just ask anyone struggling with debt, felt the sting of divorce, or felt the pain of being dumb.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Even More Amazing

It just gets better!
Last night we met as a group of men to discuss our future and I was amazed at the great ideas and thoughts that came from them.
Not that I don't believe that we didn't have great men, but to see them in action is awesome.

Our future is bright newLife as long as God keeps sending us faithful men.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More Amazing than I could imagine

Just when you think that God is doing Amazing things, they get more amazing.
In yesterday's post I spoke of some of the many volunteers in our church who willingly jumped at the chance to serve a family in their time of grief.
But I was even more shocked to see three of our men show up to serve as well.

All three of them took time off of work.
Took time off of work.
Took time off of work.
       In this Horrible Economy
       With their own families in need
       Without any question
Took time off of work to come and serve.

I know that I should not be shocked at this type of selflessness, but in an age where selfishness is a virtue, selflessness is of great value.

This all makes me wonder, what is God about to do in Astoria with these kinds of selfless servants running around?

I can't wait for Sunday to find out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another Amazing Day in the Life

I can't say enough good about those who serve newLife and yesterday proved it once again. Let me explain.

One of our beloved members passed away this weekend.
Mary Dowell had been a faithful member for years but for the past couple has struggled with Alzheimer's and has not been able to attend. She went to be with the Lord on Saturday afternoon.
Praise God.

Yesterday we finalized the funeral for today. Yes you got it, for today, yesterday.

I needed a Pianist. Khayla Cave, though struggling with the early stages of pregnancy willingly volunteered.

I needed a Soloist. Christa Jasper, through a mother of young children and never singing the song before willingly volunteered.

I needed a Soundest. (a Sound man) Rick Lawrence, though working a full time job, willingly volunteered.

Without hesitation.
Without making excuses.
Without complaining.
They volunteered to serve others.

Amazed? Yes and no.
Yes, because for all three of them real sacrifice is involved.
No, because that's the heart of a people who have the heart of God.

Another Amazing Day with Amazing People serving an Amazing God

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Trick to this

Our neighbor Bob delivered this to us last night.
It was a treat.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Really, Thank You

Over the last several weeks many of you have shared your appreciation for me as your pastor and I want to say that I am thankful, but I must admit, this church is not what it is because of me, but because of you.

Let me explain.
Four years ago Debra and I went on vacation to Idaho. That Sunday we picked a church to visit that I thought would be interesting. From the second we entered we felt welcomed and loved. They were clearly a family and made us feel right at home. And then we heard something that shocked us. They had not had a Pastor for two years and were just getting ready to vote on one.

Why was this shocking? Because they were a strong church even without a Pastor. They were still passionate about Jesus, they were still purposeful in seeing souls saved, and they were still powerful in that they loved God and each other. And while I understand the value of the Pastoral role, because they were such a strong church, they only became greater when they added their new Pastor.

The Best Churches don't have the Best Pastors, but the Best People.
When Jesus Christ is the head of the people, its a great Church.

I know that I am valued and loved by this congregation, but I know you value and love Jesus more than me.

Thank You for loving God and Thank you for loving Others.
I appreciate those of you who follow Jesus and make this church about Him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I was doing a study on the word Influence the other morning and came upon an amazing thought.

Websters Dictionary says that influence is a Heavenly fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans.

Aytos dictionary of word origins says that it is an astrological term coined in medieval Latin to describe a fluid that was given off by the stars that would affect human life.

To which the English came up with the word Influenza which was applied in the early 1900's as a flu epidemic devastated Europe. When this flu hit, they believed that the flu was caused by the stars.

Those affected by the virus believed that their lives were influenced by the stars.
That the epidemic came from the atmosphere.

I really don't care if you get a flu shot or not. at least for the flu. But I do care about whether or not our church influences our community.

We do that by being the Stars we are called to be.
Philippians 2:15 (KJV) That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Jesus himself said this about the flu
Matthew 5:14-16 (KJV) Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

and while there are many churches that are just sick. (They have a Negative flu bug)
We want to be the kind of church that influences others in the Right way.

We want to be that light.

So today, how can you influence your home, job, school and community as they see your heavenly works, so that you give people the bug (Jesus)?

Don't be a Christian that's only influence is one of sickness or selfishness.
Share your Jesus bug with others!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Could it be a Rabbit?

I am finding that the older I get, the more I struggle with focus.
My eyes just don't seem to work the way they did when I was younger.
But its not only my eyes, my mind as well wanders way more than it did when I was 35.
Things are blurry, furry and at times fuzzy which is very dangerous.

(Now I know why old men drive so slowly)

The danger of poor sight is it effects our ability to make right decisions in life.
It causes us to rely more on feelings not facts, guessing and not God.
Add to this problem a friend who councils you who is as blind or ignorant to a situation as you are and you have a recipe for failure.

Hence Clarity has become a highly valued commodity in my life.
As a Christian, we have been gifted with three things that bring us clarity.

#1 The Holy Spirit
#2 The Holy Scriptures
#3 The Holy Man

The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. (John 16:13, John 14:26)
The Holy Scriptures guides us with all truth. (Psalm 119:105, 130)
The Holy Man guides us to understand all truth. (Jeremiah 3:15)
This Holy Man is more than just the Pastor of your church, but the husband in your home, a father of children.

In a day when everything seems so out of focus we need men who will be led of the Spirit of God, by the Scriptures of God, to open the eyes of those without God to the truth of God.

The older I am getting, the more value I place on those things that give me clarity.
The Holy Spirit, the Holy Scriptures, and Holy Men of God who by working together stay off of rabbit trails and follow the path God has for us.

Today, My prayer is for men and women to be focused on what God's plan is for them for this day. That they may see Him clearly in the beauty of His creation, know His will through the light of His word, and love Him passionately because their eyes have beheld their God.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Letter from Pastor A

There are a few things I noticed that I want to share with you from Sunday.

#1 We Have Awesome People
Teachers who Love their students
A Worship team that Loves their Jesus
Life Group members that Love the people
and a Congregation falling in Love with Jesus.

#2 We Have a Lot of new Faces
Some being drawn by the Love
Others being drawn by the Life
and many being drawn by the Lord.

#3 We Have an Amazing Lord.
One who forgives our sins
One who loves unconditionally
One who Lives eternally.

Its a good time to be a Lifer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Faith is ............

This thought has been heavy on my mind as of late. As a Pastor its a daily word. I use it in my prayer time, my people time, my preparation time, and in my personal time. Yet, its not easy to define. I know that its a substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, and by it the elders proved their belief in God. and this morning it came to me through the back door.

Faith is not Security
Helen Keller once said: "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

Every time I think I'm in control, circumstances remind me how silly I'm being. I can't control the outcomes of a meeting. I can't control the weather. I can't control the events of my day and I certainly can't control people. and I know I can't control God.

So maybe faith is Courage.
The courage to obey the word of God when I would rather seek whats best for me.
The courage to believe the word of God even when I would rather believe what I feel.
The courage to live the word of God even when I would rather follow the dictates of my heart.

As a human I seek security and believe comfort is best.
As a Christian I seek obedience and believe faith is best.

So this morning pray with me, God give me courage to live by faith and share with me what God is asking you to do by faith.
Let's Pray together!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The essence of spirituality is contained in this phrase:
complete and utter abandonment to the will of God.”
Jean-Pierre De Caussade

I have to admit, I am struggling a bit.
While I love seeing what is happening in the lives of newLife members.
      The Joy of Jesus expressed so honestly.
      The Love of Jesus exposed so openly.
      The Hope of Jesus shared so powerfully.

But there are things that still hinder us.
For years I thought it was religion, but I think that its more than that.

What do I think is standing in my way? Fear.
Fear of what I do not know, understand, or control. (Religion makes me feel free)

While I desire freedom in my life through Christ, I don't really know what that looks like and while I think that I am willing to give myself totally to the will of God, my fear keeps me back.

What about you? What is keeping you from complete and utter abandonment to God's will?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Letter from PRob to newLife

Hey newLife there are 3 things I want to share with you today.

1. Celebrating Freedom in Jesus Christ never gets old. I love seeing people in our church who want to be there because they are free in Christ and you see it in their enthusiasm.

2. One of the men of our church who is a policeman was working with a homeless guy on Saturday night who was looking for a life change. He invited the man to church and on Sunday James J went and picked him up. Its awesome to see that our church understands that the only hope of the world is Jesus Christ!

3. For the third week in a row we have had visitors looking for a church that is real and not religious. Wow. I think that the word is getting out that we are becoming that place.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Freedom and Fruit

The Angry Christian

They cannot smile because it might reveal in them love
Cold as the clothes they wear, they piously portray themselves as spiritual but in reality they are nothing more than Pharisaical.

I see no fruit of the Spirit in their life for their is no Love, no Joy, or Peace.
I see no Jesus in their Judgementalism as their is no grace.
I see no God in their faith as their is no trust of God's judgement.
With tight jaws and cold hearts they only reveal the depth of the bondage they are in.

But around them I saw love.
People praying for them, concerned for them, wanting to Love them.
The only bonds on us are the bonds of Love.

We are truly Free

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life Group 101

Yesterday I was talking with one of my favorite people in the world, Tim Clark, and we were talking about his work with the young men and women from Tongue Point who have been attending our services as of late. Every Sunday after Church Tim and Teresa invite them to their house and they feed and love them.

I asked him how he was affording to feed them every week. (Imagine 15 hungry young adults and your refrigerator) His reply was, were getting by. This brought me back to another conversation I had this week with a young woman who was going to personally pay for her brothers friend to attend youth conference.

I love that people are so passionate about others knowing Christ and His love that they would sacrifice so much. I love their willingness to do whatever it takes that someone might be saved. But, no one individual can support any ministry to anyone. You will either run out of what you have to give, or burn out from giving so much. This is a lesson I have recently learned.

So my suggestion to both of these individuals was to go to their Life Group and allow them to participate in ministering to these people.

In speaking to Tim I made a statement that I believe sums up what our life groups ought to be about. (I hope you realize I did not know what I was saying until I said it)

Here is Life Group Philosophy 101 "Carry your responsibility, but share your opportunity"

Each one ought to do what they can to reach people for Jesus and love people for Jesus, but as I wrote earlier, no one person can bear this weight. But we can as a GROUP.

This is what I believe will create sustainable ministry. That we do our part, but allow others to join us on the Journey. This creates an atmosphere where people are able to give knowing someone has their back to help. It provides opportunity for others who may not have even known there was a need to be a vital part of meeting that need.

So this week, as we seek to love God and others..........
Carry Your Responsibility, but Share your Opportunity

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Letter from PRob to newLife

Five things to Celebrate from Sunday

#1 Let's Celebrate - We had an auditorium attendance high of 168! 378 on Easter
#2 Let's Celebrate - We had some Amazing First Time Visitors!
#3 Let's Celebrate - We had an Awesome Spirit!
#4 Let's Celebrate - We had a moving Altar Call!
#5 Let's Celebrate - We heard from Above!

Some say church isn't for celebration, they just don't know our God!
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Let's Celebrate

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Its no Assumption, Its real

Yesterday Debra and I met with a young lady who has been attending our church for a while. She wanted to meet to let me know what has been going on in her life.

Forgive me but I thought that it was going to be a counseling session.
She is an amazing woman who has been through a whole lot in her life and so I assumed that I would be helping her with her future in relation to our God.

But I was so wrong and if anything it was a counseling session for Debra and I.

Through life circumstances and great pain, she came face to face with God and when she came into the office it was like seeing Moses after coming down off of the mount of God.
Her face just shined of the Love of God.
and all of the Jesus stuff, became Real.

Debra and I were shocked, not at the fact that Jesus could do this, but that the evidence of Sundays message was displayed so clearly in front of us.


and so is God.

What's the Point?
I think we believe that all that we do in church is kind of real but not really. I mean we spend so much time sharing the love of God with so many rejecting it or making religion out of it that we assume that few will make it real.

Oh no, this woman was clear evidence of someone living the abundant life in Christ.
Though she has lost so much in life, the love she has received from God has given her more than she could ever imagine.

And there are so many more out there like her. They come in and cry and leave. They are under pressures we've long forgotten about and have problems we've solved years ago.
Lets not assume they need anything but our Love because if there is one thing that cannot be denied, faked, or fooled, its Love.

1 Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth: "its always real"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trust or Rust

I love to read other Pastors and Churches Blogs.
It helps me to see that our church is definitely not an island.
These five points came from a church planters blog and his thoughts on the beginning of their church. (In 12 days)

What is funny about these points is that they are very similar to what I learned on my trip as I contemplated my future in ministry.

Here's his thoughts:

I. If I’m not having fun it probably means I’m trusting more in me than Him.

2. If I’m thinking more about what could go wrong than what might go right, I’m probably trusting more in me than Him.

3. If I’m not sleeping well, ditto.

4. If I’m not taking care of my health and carving out time to exercise, same thing.

5. If I’m not fully present with my wife and my kids, I’m trusting more in me than Him.

I could not imagine the personal pressures of a pastor in this position.
What if no one comes?
What if no one tithes?
What if EVERYONE comes but I lose my Health or even worse, my family to the ministry?

Its so easy to trust in our selves for a while, but so much more enjoyable to trust in God.

Trusting in God allows us to not worry about the outcome but enjoy the opportunity.
Trusting in God allows us to think about the things God will do. (Eph 3:19-20)
Trusting in God allows us to rest knowing its more important to Him than me.
Trusting in God allows me to care for me physically to Honor Him rather than care for them physically honoring me.
Trusting in God allows me to live life the way God intended, focused more on my wife and children than on work, worries, and whys.

I am excited for the people of Gwinnet Church as their Pastor has learned something priceless before he even starts.

Trust God and not ourselves. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

How about you today, are you trusting or slowly rusting?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Today, I am Blank, Empty, Filled with Nothing
and just a short time ago I thought this was a bad thing.

But its not.
It means my mind is rested, literally at peace.
It means my heart is secure, nothing to fear.
It means my life is anticipating what God has for me today.

Don't get me wrong, I have issues going on in my life, some pretty heavy, but today they are not mine, I gave them to Him.

20 days on the Harley taught me that its OK to focus on nothing but the road ahead.
To shut out all that's going on behind me and if I need to apply some throttle to get farther away, it only makes the trip more exciting.
Oh I know what's behind me, I'm not ignoring it, but I choose not to focus on it.
Its Hard to ride a Harley looking backwards.
Its a much better ride if I spend most of my time anticipating what is over that next hill, corner, or even a long straight stretch. Good or bad.

What does God have for you today?
What will you see if you spend it anticipating His work in your life?
What will you miss if you never get up and Ride?

Today, I have nothing in front of me but open Road. It's gonna be a great day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Letter from PRob to newLife

This morning as I came into my office I do what I always do.
Turn on my Computer, Load up my I-Tunes and let the music fly and this morning a song came up that said it all for Me!

Its Called "Into Jesus" and I just want to walk around and sing the Chorus
"Hey, You, I'm into Jesus"

I am really into Jesus

I am into His Grace
I am into His Love
I am into His Conviction
I am into His Challenges for my week
I am into His Church

I am into Him and I love that our body is really getting into Jesus as well.
Those in attendance yesterday I believe are very real when it comes to following Jesus and I am excited for our church.

What are you into about Jesus today?

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Letter from PRob to newLife

What an amazing weekend it was.
A beautiful wedding.
An Happy Worship Service.
And Wonderful People.

I believe that Jesus was very pleased with the laborers of newLife this week and I am sure that you all deserve a Well done thou faithful Servant!

Can't wait till next Sunday and its only Monday!
Have a Great Week Lifers!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Something to think about Church

As I sat in a room filled with Harley Davidson Employees I learned somethings that should make Christians Jealous.

#1 The Employees of HD believe in their product.
#2 The Employees of HD believed in Hard Work to create their product.
#3 The Employees of HD believed that Tradition was worth keeping.
#4 The Employees of HD believed that new technologies were worth trying.
#5 The Employees of HD believed that family was important.
#6 The Employees of HD believed in having fun.
#7 The Employees of HD believed in Living for the Weekend.
#8 The Employees of HD believed in living to live.

Everyone we met, loved their job, loved their Harley's, and loved their lives.
They believed that they were the luckiest people on the planet and made you jealous that you were not a Harley Davidson Employee.

After spending a few days with them, I wanted to quit my job, move to Milwaukee and work for Harley Davidson.
What if our church believed in the Church the same way the HD Employees believed in their company?
What if we so loved the church, the church that Jesus gave Himself for, that we made people jealous that they were not a part of it?
What if we so loved our life in Christ that it bothered people that they did not serve the same God?

I believe the "Church" is the Hope of the world, not Harley Davidson.
and if you believe that too, join me in making people want to have what only those who know Christ have.

Peace, Power, and a Clear Purpose to live an Abundant Life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


20 days, 6400 Miles, 4 National Park systems, 15 camp sites, 4 motels, 15 Subways, two motorcycle races in 100 degree heat, 1back tire, 1drive belt, 1driving light, and I am Home.

Its been the most amazing experience I have ever had.

I am sure over the next few weeks you will hear all of my stories, and then over the next few months as well.

Thank you for allowing me the time to do this.
Home Group Coordinators, Jack Burkhart, and all of you who faithfully supported this church while I was gone.

I am home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

27 Kisses

Twenty Seven Reasons why I love my Wife of Twenty Seven Years

1. She is the first Person I felt "Love at First Sight" with. "I Thought WOW"
2. She kissed me on our First Date. "I can still Feel it"
3. She is adventurous. "Bee's in Bronco's"
4. She Defends me. "Even from her ex-Boyfriend who would have killed me."
5. She Parties like a Rock Star. "Those of you who know her know what I mean."
6. She can think for herself. "Texas? Really?"
7. She is Patient. "Dating a Drunk Boyfriend but knowing there is good in me!"
8. She is Crazy. "For putting up with me in the early years."
9. She has always made me feel like a Man. "even when I was a stupid boy"
10. She loved Def Leppard Loud. "What? Rock of Ages!!!!"
11. She can Dance. "Sorry Hun, I got no body rhythm"
12. She develops deep deep friendships. "Love ya Teresa (Heaven) Liz and Misty"
13. She has never blown our money. "when I had it. lol"
14. She trusted Jesus as Her Savior and fell in Love with Him.
15. She gave me a Son. "Michael is and always has been tied as the most Beautiful baby I have ever seen."
16. She fell in Love with Another Man. "Our Son!.It was Awesome to see her raise him."
17. She gave me a Daughter. "Kasey is an always has been tied as the most Beautiful baby I have ever seen."
18. She Fought for our Daughters Life. "and Still Does"
19. She toughed it out in San Fransisco for months without me caring for Kasey without Whining.
20. She has been an amazing mother. "Teaching my kids things I never would have thought of."
21. She stood with me as we gave up the life we had, to serve others in the life we have.
22. She put up with Cranky Church Ladies and did not leave me. "Still Does and still won't"
23. She has suffered Greatly and fought Valiantly. "The Accident"
24. She is the friend I always wanted, but did not deserve.
25. She is stunningly beautiful, even as "I" grow older.
26. She is Fun and Funny. "Not when using Knappa Humor"
27. I get to spend the rest of my life with her. "Beyond Seventy!"

While there are many more, these will do.

Debra, I Love You

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Letter from PRob to newLife

Seven things I want to share with you from this weekend.

1. Joe Jasper is Awesome.
2. Rick Lawrence is Awesome.
3. Khayla Cave is Awesome.
4. Ron Isom is Awesome.
5. Darcy Cotte is Awesome.
6. Alexis Warn is Awesome.
7. Heather Dietriche is Awesome.

AWESOME: Something that inspires Awe or Admiration.

For many reasons these people stood out this Sunday as a testament to Christ Love and the Joy of Christianity.
Thank you for Being Awesome!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Little Things

A child who says to their Pastor, they "I Love you All Day"
A friend who values your relationship so much that rather than be angry at you they text you, "I do love you and appreciate our friendship very much"
A man who has struggled spiritually yet because of grace and love prays publicly for his pastor.
A new family who is so concerned with the pastors wife that though they do not know her well, reach out in love to her.
A couple who give little gifts just to let you know your on their mind.

Little things
They keep you going.
They make every day special.

I know that yesterday God gave our Church a big thing.
The Birth of Dan and Michelle Finns daughter is a testament of a woman's faith and a churches love and Danielle's (probably not spelled right) birth is a Big thing.
But don't we expect Big Things from our God?

Little things are not expected and maybe that's why their so big.

Do a little thing for someone this week and I promise it will be big.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A thought for the day

from Pastor Steven Furtick

"We teach our children to say, 'Please' and 'Thank You.' God teaches us to first say, 'Thank You' and then say, 'Please.'"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How to Blow UP your Relationship with God and others

The other day I did something that I greatly regret. I made an assumption about someone that I love dearly that could have cost us our relationship. Thankfully in the midst of the conversation I recognized my error and quickly sought his forgiveness to which he freely gave.

But sitting here this morning thinking about that lesson, I began to notice that I have been doing this with God as well.

I assume I know what God is doing in my life.
I assume I know what God is going to do with my life.
I assume I know what God needs to do for my life.

this is a problem because God might have other plans for me and if I assume something different it will lead to conflict and frustration in our relationship.

Yet, we all make assumptions. We make assumptions about what our spouse is thinking. We make assumptions about how our children feel. We make assumptions about what others believe about us, and these assumptions, especially with God, often lead to unnecessary conflict, worry and stress, as well as broken relationships.

and so today I just want to encourage you to stop assuming and start knowing. Jesus said that "Truth makes us Free" (John 8:32) So in every relationship lets seek the truth by asking Questions. Of God and Others so that we are properly informed and personally inspired by what is TRUE.

While this is a strange quote from Lemony Snicket its true....
“Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble. Making assumptions simply means believing things are a certain way with little or no evidence that shows you are correct, and you can see at once how this can lead to terrible trouble. For instance, one morning you might wake up and make the assumption that your bed was in the same place that it always was, even though you would have no real evidence that this was so. But when you got out of your bed, you might discover that it had floated out to sea, and now you would be in terrible trouble all because of the incorrect assumption that you’d made. You can see that it is better not to make too many assumptions, particularly in the morning.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Zipper 2

I know that this sounds funny, but thanks to the Internet, I fixed the Zipper on my Jacket.
It just needed a little crimping as it had gotten too loose to bind the zips together. (I know there called teeth but zips is funner)

I think this is true in my life right now, I need a little crimping as its been a tough road the last few years.

52 Days of Change and Our Great Transition (ask someone if you don't know) and the loss of friends and church members who did not like the change.
Georges Death
Dales Cancer
Debra's Surgery and long recovery
Decembers Revival (30 members added to the church in a four month period)
Dales Death
Debra's Surgery 2 and her infection scare.

My Zipper is a little loose or you could say, I've lost some zip.
and so when I was able to fix my zipper on my jacket it gave me hope.

How about you, Tired of the Journey? Weary of the battle?
Maybe you too need to find a way to put the crimp in your zipper?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Letter from PRob to newLife

Hey newLife, there are five things I would like to share with you today.

#1 Sundays Song service was off, way off, but I want you to know what happened because of it.
As I was preparing to preach, the Lord gently spoke to my heart and reminded me of this.
While our Worship is important, He is truly interested in our hearts and has the ability to discern even in discordant tones the truth of our heart.
Meaning: Just Preach and let me do the rest.
I did and so did He.

#2 Life Groups were awesome. I have heard that they were attended better than the service. (something that were going to have to fix) I also heard that the spirit of each one was very positive and upbeat about Jesus and His Church.

#3 We have changed without the leadership making any changes. There is something different about the people that God is bringing to our church. As those who have attended for years are loving God and loving others we are attracting the same. It's an interesting transition that has occurred through a change in our culture. Awesome.

#4 Debra is doing well and I have never seen an outpouring of love from this congregation for her, especially from people who barely know her. Special thanks to Adam and Khayla, Elsie, Ralph and Randy, Rob and Heather, and Malcolm and Darcy. Your Concern and care for her has encouraged not only her but myself. I Love people who Love People.

#5 Last Sunday a young lady came to our church for one reason. She was told that she would be loved here. She is young, bright, yet hurting from life. And from the second she entered this building, people reached out to her in love. She came back again on Thursday night and was loved. But Sunday came and she was not here. While my heart was broken I know this, no one can run from Love. We desire it, crave it, want it. No matter where she is, her experience in two services was this. Her past may be Loss, but here, her present is Love. If you would pray for her today, the young lady, that God would heal her hurting heart and show her the Love He has shown us.

Thank you for the awesome day and I will be Praying for you!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What does it mean when your Leather Jacket Zipper keeps breaking?

I know its been a long summer for me but come on.
Every time I zip my Leather jacket zipper up it pulls apart.
Its not like there are competing forces pulling at each other, there's still plenty of room.
But with Every Zip, there's a Split in the two sides.

This was never Gods intention, for something created to work together to ever come apart.
Like teeth in a zipper the church made up of different people are like the two sides that are supposed to slide in together and hold on to one another until they are forced apart by the Zipper thingy.
No Matter How HEAVY the internal force is pushing against it, its design is to HOLD Together.
No Matter How much PRESSURE from external forces pushing against it, again, its design is to HOLD Together.

Jesus said that He would build His church, and not even the gates of Hell could split it.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

For my Jackets sake, the problem is a few weak teeth near the bottom of the zipper.
Designed to be the strongest, the toughest, they are weary and worn out of anchoring the rest of the teeth.

Solution? I need a whole new zipper as once the bottom teeth are worn it only weakens the rest. And in the Church this is a difficult thing to do.

Let me make a suggestion that would be better.

1. Lets be careful that we understand the pressure of those in the church called to lead.
The life group coordinators, the teachers, the worship team and Pastor. We must always be mindful of the difficult work that they do and its value to the whole church. If they fail, it will be hard to hold things together.

2. Let's be careful how we apply pressure to those in the church called to lead.
Remember, sometimes its the internal pressures that weigh heavy on the zipper.
Lets be careful that we help our leaders, not become a burden to them. Rather than being a problem become a solution and lift pressure off of them by our willingness to serve.

3. Let's be careful of our attitude towards others in the Church. Each one of us holds an important spot in the Church. If we are weak towards the other zips, (become offended or angry at another) we can easily bring down the whole church. Jesus said that they would know who we are by the Love that we show each other. "Love will hold us together"

While I can wear my jacket without being zipped up, its cold, uncomfortable, and dangerous if I crash. If the church is not bound together in love, it will be the same.

We are not called to be apart but together in the work of God.
Lets encourage those zips at the bottom. Pray for your life group coordinator, pray for your child's teacher, pray for the worship team, and pray for your Pastor. We need it as you need us.
Let's Zip it up and go for a Ride!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


What is it about Home that feels so good?
Is it your own bed? Your own food? Your own Life?

Debra and I got home late last night and though it was a long hard day, it still is so nice to be home.

Church should feel that way.
I'm not talking about being comfortable, but familiar.
I have to admit, we have been traveling a lot as a church in the past few years.
Trying to move to where God wants us.
At times its been desert, at times its been valley, and there have been some times on the Mountain top.
Maybe now its time to cross the river and build a home.

What do you think newLife?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Ever Happened to Sin?

Have you noticed how sin has fallen out of favor even in Christian circles?
Its not that we don't talk about it, usually in relation to others who are doing it.
and its not that we don't think about it, cause many of us are filled with guilt.

What I don't see is us getting specific about it. In our own lives.
I realize that we live in a Big Brother world where even our entertainment is all about watching others sin, talking about others sin, dwelling on sins that have been committed on us by others.
But I wonder how many of us are dealing with OUR sin?


The Apostle John says in His book that if we walk in the light as Jesus is in the light we have fellowship, but.........

If I SAY I have fellowship with God, but Sin, "I" Lie. vs 6
If I SAY I have no Sin, "I" Lie to myself. vs 8
If I SAY I have not Sinned when His word says I have, I am saying that "Jesus" is a Liar.

Sin leads us from God
Sin makes us something God did not intend
Sin makes us bring reproach upon the name of Jesus.

There is only one way out of this sin problem.
Get Specific about my sins.

I must Confess My Sin. Not that I am a sinner, not that I have done something wrong. Confession means to recognize the wrong and be as offended by it as God is.

Because if I Confess My Sin I can be Cleansed of My Sin.

Let me describe it this way.
No one cleans their whole carpet for a spot.
Clean the Spot and the carpet looks clean.

Maybe we ought to stop ignoring the spots and accepting that the carpet is dirty and deal with the sin.

Maybe our prayer ought to be........
Psalm 51:7-10 (KJV) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We have only..............

When George Simmons passed away, He left some books from His library to the church. To me you can learn a lot about a man by what is on his book shelf. Whether it was a gift or if he read it, I will never know. But what intrigues me is a book he had called Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey. While its not one I would openly recommend, (not good nor bad) there are a few quotes in it that have touched me.

This one especially from Martin Luther King as he was speaking to Richard Daley, Chicago's Mayor at the time who was trying to stop King from Demonstrating in his town.

     "Let me say that if you are tired of demonstrations, I am tired of demonstrating. I am tired of the threat of death. I want to live. I don't want to be a martyr. And there are moments when I doubt that I am going to make it through. I am tired of getting hit, tired of being beaten, tired of going to jail. But the important thing is not how tired I am; the important thing is to get rid of the conditions that lead us to march.
     Now, gentlemen, you know we don't have much. We don't have much money. We don't really have much education, and we don't have political power. We only have our bodies and you are asking us to give up the one thing that we have when you say, "Don't March." (From Bearing the Cross)

Kings speech changed Mayor Daley's mind.

We have only our bodies

We as a Church don't have much money
We as a Church don't really have that much education
We as a Church don't have political power

We have only our bodies
But according to the word of God, that is enough.

Martin Luther King gave his body so that a people could be made free and almost 50 years later, they are.

What we do today for God may not be seen tomorrow, it may take 50 years, but if we don't do something, we are giving in to our fears.
Martin Luther King was a reluctant leader who changed the world. God is looking for men and women who even in reluctance, will give their bodies as living sacrifices to free those in chains from sin.

We have only our bodies, lets use them to Gods Glory, you might be amazed at whose mind you change.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Letter from PRob to newLife

Do you know what I loved about Sunday?Singing Jesus Loves Me.

I enjoyed it. Why?

Though a Child's Song it was sung by people who Love that Jesus Loves them.
The room was full of them.
Even the Teens Sung Out. It was Awesome.

I loved Seeing People Loving Each Other.

Though a simple thought, there was no judgementalism in the room.
No one thinking they were better than anyone else.
No one believing they were more righteous than the others.
Just people from all walks of life, loving that Jesus Loved them and Loving each other.

and I loved Seeing People Soak in the word of God.

Not religiously nor piously but really soaking it in.
Wanting to Hear it
Wanting to Love it
Wanting to Apply it

I did not recognize anyone who was not into the word of God and what is most exciting is the kind of fruit that will come from it as people upgrade their lives from Me to You.

All in all a great day for the Church.
Can't Wait till we meed Again.

Have an Awesome Day

Pastor A

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Do Things Rattle Around in YOUR Head?

Just something that's been going through my mind lately and I thought I would share it.
I have been watching Christians for quite a while now and there seems to be a season that many go through. Its the season of Low Expectations. Its the part of the Christian Journey in which we expect little from God.

Its as if there is a place in our minds where expectations sit.Like a little control center that operates the levers of interpretation and assumption that either unleash or choke our hopes and dreams.

When Low Expectations sits on that seat and pulls those levers, he is a little tyrant closing the valves of Vision, he dials down the voltage of hope, and cuts off the power of Action. Some are so entrenched in negative expectations that they have a hard time hearing the truth of God anymore.

Low expectations destroy the work of God through its hopeless view of the word of God.

But what happens when High expectations sits and pulls the levers of interpretation and assumption?

High Expectations Innovate.
High Expectations Persevere.
High Expectations Excite.

They open up the Valves of Vision, dial up the Voltage of Hope, and Empowers Action.

High Expectations Believe the Word of God and live it out to its Fullest

Jesus Himself said, "ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO ME, GO....."

Could you imagine a church filled with people who believed this and lived out the gospel with High Expectations?

I can and do, and if your a part of newLife Baptist Church, so do you.

Maybe this will stop the rattling.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Letter from PRob to newLife

I don't know what you thought, but I loved Sunday.
There was just a Great Spirit in Church.

Maybe it was Chris and Alexis - All they do is Smile
Maybe it was the Coffee Lady - Susan is such a great person
Maybe it was Bob and Carin - Boy can He play that Piano
Maybe it was Nathanial - He is funny without trying

and while these things were great Sunday, they were just a bigger part of something greater.

What made Sunday so wonderful was the freedom we have in Christ.
Oh I know that there are still Sinners whose shame hinders them,
Pharisee's whose religion binds them, some trying to recover
and those who don't feel worthy, feel like failures, and some want to quit.

But for the most part, we understand that in Christ we are free.
and if that doesn't uplift your spirit, your probably dead.

I will be gone this week in Bend and so Thursday we will be having Life Groups meet but I already can't wait until Sunday.
I am praying for someone to bring to experience Jesus with, will you?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

48 and Counting

Maybe its a Crisis, Maybe its a Cry, Maybe its Cool, all I know is that the older I get.....

The less I care about...........

What others think about me, my church, my family. This is especially true for judgemental Christians.

The harder it is to..........

Watch families suffer because of sin. This is especially true for families raised in church.

The easier it is to..........

Want to quit. This is especially true as the older I get, the less patience I seem to have.

The More I Wish...........

I could go back and do things different. This is especially true as I watch young men make the same mistakes I have made.

The Greater God has Become..........

To Me. This is especially true as age only shows us how weak and unwise we truly are revealing a Greater need for God everyday.

The More Valuable the Church is........

To Young People. This is especially true for those 20-30 year olds who wonder if anyone cares, loves them, believes in them as they are making the same mistakes we made.

The More Important the Bible Becomes.......

To a Pastor. This is especially true when my wisdom fails, my strength is gone, my understanding wanes and I need to know what to do.

The More I want to surround myself......

With Good People. Now don't be offended but they don't even have to be God people. But that is a bonus. I love the people of this church. They are good people. The best I have ever been associated with. EVER. But I also love being with my Brother and His amazing Wife. Though they are not church people, they are good people.
I have no time or energy for people who take, tear down, complain, whine, argue, drain me.

I love knowing what I know.
I love my church family.
I love being 48 and Counting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Big Question for the Day

What do you Honestly Expect God to do Today in Your Life?

Comment an Answer Please

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hymn # 106 Verse 3

There is no other way to describe my heart today, but as heavy with hope.
I feel this way because I have no other choice.
Something I am praying for is totally out of my hands.
If God does not move on our behalf there is no other way the thing that I as well as others are desiring will happen.
Some might say this is only a lack of faith. I say just the opposite.

I believe that God is at work on this issue right now.
And I know what Gods word says about this situation.
But my heart hurts for those who hurt, and its heavy because of the pain of Sin.
And more than that, when choices are made, they will be eternal.

As the old Hymn says, "Someone is Sinking Today"
and we stand in the gap with the Life Line.
We've thrown it out, will they grab a hold?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Letter to newLife from P Rob

Hey newLife there are a few things I want to share with you today...

#1 Thank you for the wonderful Birthday Song. I love the children of this church and am thankful that I am loved by them.

#2 This Sunday marks the end of the 14th year I have spent as a Pastor, but it also marks the start of year 15. While its been a long road, I believe that my best years are ahead of me!

#3 Because of this anniversary, this Thursday I am going to bring several things I have learned about people. Things I believe will encourage you.

#4 Starting Sunday and next Thursday I will be started two new message series. Both of them will address weaknesses, Sunday's in our lives, and Thursdays in the life of the Church. Start Praying Now.

#5 Please continue to pray for Nathanial Smith as he is on his missions trip. I believe that God is going to do a great work in Him.

#6 Debra and I will be spending some time with my Georgia Daughter today as she is visiting family in Eugene and I can't wait to see her! She's Everything a Father would want for his son. Beautiful, Smart, Funny, Loving, and a Christian and she loves me too. (I love getting old)

#7 Thank you all for being faithful to newLife. I realize we are not the biggest Church in town, but God looks on the heart and in His eyes we are huge!

Have an Awesome Day

Pastor A

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"__________________________________ "

Is there anything worse than being blank.
There is just nothing there.

Its not that my mind is on Vacation.
Nor is it troubled.

Its just blank.

I can't write.
I can't read.
I even went home early yesterday to try and revive my mind.
Yet I am Blank.

Usually this is a sign of overload for me.
TMI (To Much Information)
TLR (To Little Rest)
TMP (To Much Pain)

and the worst one.
TLJ (To Little Jesus)

I think I'll go pray, I just hope I don't blank out on God.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Its just a piece of wood..............

....but its heavy. The Cross that some Christians bear.
You know, the one they pick up so that others may know Christ.

Like the singers who give up Tuesday night every week.
Leaving their families at home so that they can encourage yours on Sunday.

Like the Pianists who work so hard several days a week so that they don't miss a note to throw off your worship of God with a discordant sound.

Like the Sound Guys, who even though they just got out of the dentist, still high on life yet hurting in mouth, come to practice so that they would not let others down.

Like the guy who works graveyard yet drags his tired body to practice without complaint to fill the monitors with his deeply moved voice.

Its just a piece of wood, a piece of wood that bore their Savior.
and they bear it so that the whole world may know Him.

Its just a piece of wood, but to them, its all they have

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why is it............?

.....That just when you think you got things figured out, you realize you don't.
.....That just when you really understand, you realize you don't.
.....That just when you believe your old enough, you realize your not.
.....That just when you know what to do, you realize its wrong.
.....That just when things are going well, you realize their not.

No matter how old I get, why is it that no matter how hard I try to live my life in my own power and wisdom, I realize how much I need God to live the best life possible.

I NEED His Word.
I NEED to Pray.
I NEED the Church.

Why do I need to do these things?
Because God knows something that we don't want to admit.
We need Him and that there will never be a time or place to where we will not need Him.

I guess the better question would be why is it that I fight Him being in my life so much?

Why do I make it so hard to hear His word?
Why do I struggle so much in prayer?
Why do I make the church a problem and not a solution?

Why is it........?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another Baby WOW

Misty (Cave) Gainey delivered Timberleigh Grace Marie at 8:59 Thursday Night.
8 lbs 7 oz!
This makes like twenty for Misty Right?
Mom and Baby are doing well.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A New Baby!!!

Luke and Melissa Ness are now the Proud Parents of Baby Emma.
She came into the world at 5 pounds 9 ounces Just like Daddy!
Does that mean she's gonna be a scrapper too!

Mom and baby are doing excellent!

Could God have given us a greater gift for Today?!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I was wrong again

This makes twice in my life that I was wrong. lol

I was not bummed from Sunday, but troubled as I felt that I didn't get the point across well. That maybe instead of God using my personality and person to share His truth, that my personality and person got in the way.

and so I blogged about it on Tuesday. And I was wrong

On Tuesday night I was talking to one of our church members whose been struggling in his faith life and has missed some church and he told me that he ran into one of the people who attended our services on Sunday.

This woman, who barely knows this family was a great encouragement. And her joy, and her excitement, and her love, came shining through so much that this man recognized that to have that type of loving person attend our church, that our church had become what he believed we were trying to become.

This woman, who is going through great difficulties herself, was sent on a mission by God, "for such a time as this"!

I love this Church!

I love that your proving my feelings wrong with your facts of faith.
I love that your living the word of God not being hearers only.
I love that Jesus is being shared by those who attend newLife.

I love being wrong!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Oh what a wonderful wonderful day!!!!!!

Just heard the news. A young woman by the name of Hanna trusted Christ as her savior Sunday!
How did it happen you ask?

Well, it was quite the process.

20 years ago Tim Clark Sr and His wife trusted Christ as their savior.
Their young son Tim came to church with them and learned about Christ and somewhere along the way Tim trusted Christ as His savior.

Yet Tim Jr like many of us fell away from God, then Tim Jr almost died in a car accident that turned Him around and brought Him back to God.

This he learned from His parents whose lives have been one trial after another yet never totally giving up on God either.

Because of this faithfulness to God, when Tim started dating Hanna it was just natural for her to come to Church because that's who the Clarks are.

After several weeks of coming to church and being moved by the testimony of the Clark's, the Love of newLife, and the word of God, Hanna trusted Christ as her savior.

Hanna's salvation was twenty years in the making.
and what makes this so significant is that she wasn't even born yet.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Who else is out there waiting to feel our love to see His love to know His love who wasn't even born when you became a Christian?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just when you think you got it............You Don't

This past Sunday was interesting for me mainly because I got the opposite reaction that I thought.
I thought this was a "charge up the Hill and take it" type of message, but for many, it was more of an ....I am not sure this is what I signed up for message.

Here is what I heard from people:
     I don't see where Ester was being selfish
     It was cut throat (this person was truly being positive)
     That was blunt

and it made me wonder, do people really want everything in parables?
Does it make us feel better to believe we are believers even though we don't really believe?
Are messages that tickle better than messages that touch?

I really thought that we had moved forward as a body of believers but I wonder if I have to bring out the carton of milk again?

But wait, I'm not done yet because I also heard something else.
I heard the old angry Baptist reaction as well.
You know the one that does not allow the Holy Spirit to work in peoples hearts but rather we must TELL PEOPLE what they ought to do.

Some days you wake up and wonder, can we make it?
Can we really become the church God always intended or will we forever be pulled back by people who use God for their Glory and not for His?

I know what your thinking and I agree...........
Yes We Can!

So don't give up, don't give in, and don't give away the opportunity God has given us for such a time as this.
As long as people are in bondage to their sins and believe that religion is real we have work to do.

Lets go and Save some Lives Today