Friday, December 11, 2009

I bring you good news...

"That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (From the New Testament book, Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 through 14.)

This is my favorite time of year. I love the time from Thanksgiving ‘til New Years Day. There are 3 big holidays in a month and half; also there is my birthday (Dec. 31 - don’t forget!) The biggest of them all, especially for me, is Christmas Day. During each stage of my life this day has had different meanings. Being married and having an awesome wife and a wonderful son makes this a special day for me. I love getting Courtney and MD gifts. I love filling up their stockings with knick-knacky stuff. I also enjoy the gifts they get me.

One thing that happens to me during this time is things get really busy and everything becomes a whirlwind. Christ came as a child to bring us great joy, not just happiness, but joy. Happiness is based on happenings, from one moment to another. Depending on the moment we are in depends on whether or not we are happy. Joy is from within; it is eternal and a state of mind. Joy is not based on circumstances or events, it’s not a next-door neighbor named Joy or something you jump for. Joy is what you have regardless of what you are going through. Joy is what helps sustain you in the dark moments of life.

The good news of the angels to the shepherds, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people…” This “joy” is for everyone, not just for a few people but for every single person on this planet. God cares deeply for you; He cares about how you feel and what you are going through. He sees your struggles, your circumstances, your busy-ness, and your depression. He knows about the economy, your oddball family members and the parties/gathering during this time of year. He wants you to experience joy, not just between now and News Years Day but all year - every single day of your life."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2009 has been an incredible year for me!

This past October 1st marked my 1-year anniversary on staff at Rocky River Church. I love what I do and am challenged by what I do. It’s been 9 years since I served on a church staff and things are so different now. When I started in 1995 as a youth pastor in Ohio, most people didn’t have the Internet, cell phones, DVD players or laptops and I was fresh out of college. So, of course, I knew everything there was to know about church ministry. Yah, right.

So, during my 4 years in Ohio, I could have learned so much. I look at the people who surrounded me back then: John Musgrave (the pastor I served under), Sara Snavley (my assistant and one of my best friends) and Randy Davis (youth pastor/friend.) These Godly people spoke to my life. However, my problem was all the book knowledge I had with very little or no life experience. I knew very little then and wish at times I could go back with the knowledge I have now. (Sounds like a country song, huh?) I would be more teachable. I would remember people (even myself) are sinners and I would rely more on God.

After leaving Ohio, I didn’t want to be a youth pastor or a full-time church staff person again. I just thought I’d retire as a real estate agent. Then, some changes starting taking place in my life – I became a dad, we changed churches, real estate started to slow down for me and the company I was broker/manager for closed overnight (huge shock.) By this time Jimmy had already asked me to come on staff to work with RRC’s small groups. So, I accepted and now I work with some great people who are more than my co-workers.

Teresa (RRC’s administrative assistant) is awesome. She makes me laugh and she challenges me with her honesty. Travis (RRC’s student/families pastor) is like the younger brother I already have, just 10 years younger. He has incredible insight and wisdom way beyond his years. Then there is Jimmy, RRC’s lead pastor. I don’t know if I have ever met anyone so like me, but so opposite of me too. I know it makes no sense - just ask Teresa, Travis or our spouses. They’ll agree. Jimmy is an awesome leader and has a huge heart for our community. He speaks to my life more then he will ever know.

I love the people of Rocky River Church! Thanks for a great year.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lessons from my Son


I love being a dad. I have learned something from Michael Dean that I don’t think I would have ever learned if I weren't a dad. A while back I was reading on a friend's blog or posting on Facebook about playing with your children. It mentioned that when you are playing with your kids - turn off your phone, computer, and/or any other devices that can be a distraction. Give yourself completely to your child.

Well that's what I did. I bought MD a water sprayer for his birthday and one hot evening after work we hooked it up. He stood and watched it for a while, but didn't want to play in the water. So, I took off my phone, shirt and shoes and emptied my pockets and just started running through the water. I was acting foolish and having fun - which made MD want to join in. We were sucking in the water and spitting it out, running though the water and just having a great time. I didn't worry about work, emails or phone calls. All of my attention was on my boy. What a great time both of us had.

Later that evening as I was thinking about the day and the fun I had with MD, I felt we had really bonded. Then I had a thought - what would it be like if I had that undivided attention when doing my devotions? How much better would my walk with God be? What if I had that undivided attention in church? How much better would my service be? What if I had that undivided attention to my wife? How much better of a husband I would be?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Man Wig #5

Well actually it is not a wig but all natural. I have decided to go with something simple (actually- it was a mistake because of putting on the wrong clipper guard). I have decided to go with something similar to "The Lonnie."


Lonnie Bateman is on of the awesome volunteers at Rocky River Church.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Man Wig #4

I just can't seem to find the Man Wig I want. The "Darren" just seemed to trendy, with the "Randy" I kept hearing blue grass music and the "Travis" Man Wig, well lets just say it did not work for me. I am thinking about trying out the "Jimmy Man Wig."


Jimmy is the Lead Pastor at Rocky River Church

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Man Wig #3

Wow- the "Darren" and the "Randy" just doesn't seem to work for me. Let us check out the "Travis" Man Wig.


Travis is Pastor of Students and Families at Rocky River Church.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Man Wig #2

OK- I am not to sure about the "Darren Wig", so what about the "Randy Wig?"

Randy is the pastor of Care at Rocky River Church.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Man Wig #1

OK, here's the scoop. I've basically had the same hairstyle since the 6th grade - short, clean-cut and parted to the side. Well, since I'm loosing more hair than keeping it nowadays I decided to buy some clippers last Spring to save money and it's worked pretty well! Until this past Monday, when I chose the wrong size to trim my hair with. Man, is it short! So this has got me thinking about getting a “Man Wig” for a different look. What do you think? Take a look at the different styles over the next couple of days and let me know:


"The Darren"

Darren Libby is the worship pastor at Rocky River Church.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To all you GOLFERS out there.

To all you GOLFERS out there. The church I attend is having an awesome golf tournament. The tournament is next Friday, Aug. 28th at Corbin Hills Golf Club. I was part of the meeting this morning and here is some of the information:

1. Lunch starts at 11:30am and it is provided by OUTBACK Steak House and desert is provided by PF Changs
2. Shotgun start at 1pm
3. A chance to win $10,000.00 on a hole-in-one par 3!!!!
4. Hole sponsorship is only $150

It's not too late for you to participate. You can register a team or as a single. We'll make sure you get with a team. If you have more questions or would like to play give me a call at 704-309-8736.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just such a time as this

It’s been a while since I’ve “blog”-ged. I really enjoy blogging because it allows me to expose my thoughts for everyone to see, but mostly because it allows me to speak my mind.
Over the past month or so I’ve been reading the book of Esther, along with “Great Lives from God’s Word - Esther, A Woman of Strength & Dignity” by Charles R. Swindoll. I can already hear you guys saying - it is a woman’s book! Let me tell you, Esther is only 10 chapters long, but the way God places Esther as Queen and then uses her to save her people is amazing to me. There are some awesome characteristics of Esther that I need to have in my own life.

At this time in the book of Esther, one of the officials in the King’s court, Haman, has it out for the Jews. He doesn’t know that Esther is a Jew. Esther has won the heart of King Ahasuerus yet Haman comes before the king wanting to kill all the Jews. This is the moment I want to speak about. This is what challenges me.

The protocol is not for the Queen to go before the King without being invited. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, who raised Esther (because her parents died when she was young) is an advisor to her so he gives her these words,

"Don't think that just because you live in the king's house you're the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this." Esther 4:13, 14 (The Message)

Here is my challenge. Here is what speaks to me loud and clear, the last statement made by Mordecai - “Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.” He’s basically saying, “Esther - maybe this is why God put you where you are. Maybe this is why the King has found you more beautiful than any other woman in all the land. Maybe this is why you are the Queen - to save the lives of the Jews.”

Man, what a different perspective this brings. These events didn’t happen by accident. I didn’t stumble upon the position I am in right now. I may not know it, but maybe, just maybe, God has me here for a greater purpose. I think through the times, events and locations of my life and even though I didn’t recognize those moments, hindsight is always 20/20. I can see how God worked, shaped and moved in me and directed my path.

If you are struggling with your situation, job, position, or season of life you’re in: let me encourage you. Find out why you are where you are. Find your reason and your purpose. It may be tough right now but understand, God promises, “…I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (The Message)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who Am I?

I believe a lot of people, like me, struggle with this question. Sometimes I struggle with who I am and cannot get this doubt out of my mind. I wonder if I really matter. I want to be significant. I want to matter. I want to feel valued. I want to feel purpose and direction for my life. My life is filled with an awesome wife, family, friends and an awesome church - but sometimes I just don’t know Who I Am! Am I the only one who feels like this? Of course not! I believe there are seasons we all go through in our lives where we struggle like this. It is just a season of my life right now.

When I encounter seasons like this, I have to work extra-hard to meditate on God’s word. I have to figure out what God says about me? How does God view me? How does God feel about me? So I dig into the Bible. I chew on the following verses, in mind over and over throughout the day:

Isaiah 44:2 (CEV) “I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.”

Psalm 139:15 (MSG) “You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”

Psalm 139:16 (Contemporary English Version) “But with your own eyes you saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do.”

Ephesians 1:4 (MSG) “Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.”

James 1:18 (NCV) “God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made.”

Isaiah 46:3-4 (NCV) “…I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you. I will carry you and save you.”

Here’s a poem I found by Russell Kelfer that really sums this all up:

You are who you are for a reason.
You're part of an intricate plan.
You're a precious and perfect unique design,
Called God's special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason.
Our God made no mistake.
He knit you together within the womb,
You're just what he wanted to make.

The parents you had were the ones he chose,
And no matter how you may feel,
They were custom designed with God's plan in mind,
And they bear the Master's seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into his likeness you'd grow.

You are who you are for a reason,
You've been formed by the Master's rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Years Resolution Follow-Up

Back in January I decided I wanted to lose 20lbs by the end of April - then reward myself by shaving off my beard. Well, I reached AND beat that goal! The picture to the left is me at 238lbs on Thanksgiving Day 2008. Well, I reached my goal by the end of March, not April! On January 1st I weighed 238lbs and today I weigh 217lbs! That's 21lbs - gone. I am really stoked about this!

It's not been easy- I've had to cut back on the Cokes, Cherry Lemon Sundrops and Sweet Teas I drink. I've also had to watch what I eat (just from my plate to my mouth), especially candy - see, I love Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and I also love second helpings as well as desserts. I didn't completely cut these out - I just cut these back, way back.

Finally, I've been getting up at 5am on weekday mornings and heading to the Y to work out for 30 – 45 minutes. This has probably been the hardest thing for me to do. I'm working hard, really hard to make this a habit.

The bottom line is I feel better. I feel great, I sleep better (hopefully I can eventually stop using my CPAP machine) and I had handle stress a little better. I'm actually looking forward to my physical with Dr. Ha in July. I'm excited to see what my cholesterol will be. Last summer it was 290 and I had a fatty liver. See, it was really hurting my liver’s feelings when my kidney and spleen kept calling him "fatty, fatty 2x4 - can’t fit through the bathroom door!" So, I'm looking forward to my physical results and seeing the improvements I've made.

Now I want to be down to 210lbs by the end of July and I want to run a 5K on Thanksgiving Day with Tiffani and Travis. I think I can do it! Oh, and here's the latest picture of me and my boy - taken this past weekend. Do you see a difference?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Bad Grooming Job!

OK, so here's the scoop - Courtney’s company has been cutting jobs, laying people off and cutting pay. Over the past few weeks Courtney has had her pay cut by 20%. So in an effort for us to save money we tried this evening to groom Mila, our 5 year Shih-Tzu dog, ourselves. This is what Mila normally looks like:



And, this is what Mila looks like after our grooming efforts. Needless to say we are going to keep grooming in our budget!

Friday, April 17, 2009

4 Down, 8 to Go!


I thought I was doing pretty well this year with my book reading until I found out Jimmy Britt, my pastor, reads a book every week! Holy smokes! I like reading, but not that much. Too many good shows on TV! Actually, it is because I am a slow reader. I have to even type this slowly because I can’t type and keep up with reading at the same time.

The fourth book I’ve read this year is, “It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It” by Craig Groeschel. Craig is the lead pastor at Lifechurch.tv, He started the church in a garage and it is now a multi-site church. I was first turned on to Groeschel when I attended the Leadership Summit this past September. I had never heard of him before, so I was curious as to what he had to say and after hearing him speak I went and bought his book.

The book talks about many churches, churches that have “IT” and that don’t have “IT.” The churches that have IT, how did they get IT? And the churches that lost IT, how did they lose IT? There was a lot I took from this book. It challenged, encouraged, pushed and refreshed me. I felt the book was a candid conversation with one incredible leader who wants churches across America to get IT.

I tell you - there are so many factors to having “IT”: staff relationships, creative thinking and being able to fail but still move on. When you boil IT down to the simple truth: IT is about loving God and loving people. Too many churches, pastors and staff only have half of IT right. They try all the surfacy stuff; they try the “bring your friend Sundays” thing; they try free BBQ lunches. But, if you are not loving God and if you are not loving people, you can’t have IT.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What motivates me

I have been challenged lately by what motivates me to do things. What is the condition of my heart? Why do I do the things I do? For whom do I do these things?

I am challenged by this verse: “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself…” (Philippians 2:5-11, The Message) How did Christ think of himself? “(He) made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant… (Philippians 2:7, NIV).

This is what challenges me. The problem is I tend to think more of myself then I do of others - it seems to go against my nature. Thinking like a servant is difficult. It challenges the basic problem of my life - by nature, I am selfish.There are 5 thoughts that I have to continually keep mediating on. These thoughts are:

1)Servants think more of others than themselves*: “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, NAS). Often, we try to get others to like to us, to be admired or to achieve our goals - this is being self-serving. Check your motives. When you serve, it won’t always be convenient or fit in your schedule.

2)Servants think like stewards, not owners*: “The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master” (1 Corinthians 4:2, TEV). The gifts, abilities and talents God has given us are not ours; God owns them. He specifically created us and gifted us for a purpose that is greater then you and greater than me. Are you using your gifts and talents for his purpose, for his kingdom?

3)Servants think about their work, not what others are doing*: “We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original” (Galatians 5:26, The Message). I know it is easy to look at other people and see what they are doing. It is easy to compare ourselves and compete with others’ ministries. But I am not responsible for what that other person is doing. I am only responsible for what I have been called to do, for what I am equipped to do. I need to simply trust God and keep serving.

4)Servants base their identity in Christ*: “Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron” (John 13:3, The Message). If you are going to be a servant, the first thing you must settle is your identity. For me, this is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Especially as I made the transition from being a leader as a real estate agent to a support role as a pastor. I was afraid, and still am, of exposing my weaknesses and short-comings. When your identity is based on your relationship with Christ, then you are free from others’ expectations.

5)Servants think of ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation*: “Serve the LORD with gladness” (Psalm 100:2, King James Version). When I was growing up, I had a pastor who always said: “We serve because we want too, not because we have too.” I like to buy my wife flowers and candy because she likes those things. But if I really want to show her I love her I cook supper for her, clean the house and do laundry. I do those things not because it is my job or that I have too, but because I love my wife and she can see that I love her by doing those things. Your service should flow out of a love you have for the Lord - not out of an obligation.

To be a servant - I need to change my thinking. To be a servant - I need to change my motives. To be a servant - I need change my actions. And to be a servant - I need to start acting like one.

* The Five Points are Taken from Rick Warren’s book, “Purpose Driven Life” but the comments are mine.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Indescribable

Last week Courtney and I recorded “Planet Earth” on Discovery Channel. I tell you. It is amazing! I just don’t see how anyone can watch that and say we are an accident. The episode we watched was “Pole to Pole.” The weather pattern, the migration of animals and the changes of the seasons are intentionally designed to work in harmony. I wish my accidents worked like that!




I love the words to Chris Tomlin’s song: "Indescribable"

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How Do You View Yourself?

I love the TV shows CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Las Vegas), CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. CSI was the first TV show I set up a TiVo season pass for back in 2001. Well, the other night Courtney and I were watching CSI: New York, who stars Gary Sinise, one of my favorite actors. He seems to be a solid, stand-up guy, somewhat of a rarity in Hollywood. Anyway he told Danny, who was struggling with a decision to, “Not view yourself at your worst but view yourself at your best!”

Man - what a great quote, but I want to expand on it: “Don’t view yourself at your worst but view yourself the way God views you. See yourself at your best.”

What kind of confidence would that give you?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

3 Down - 9 More To Go

I'm happy to say I just finished finished the book “Sticky Church” by Larry Osborne. My lead pastor, Jimmy Britt got this book for me and I really enjoyed it.

This book is about small group ministries in a church. Since my primary role at Rocky River Community Church is Pastor of Connections, I made this book a priority to read.

Larry Osborne is the lead pastor at North Coast Church in Vista, California (7,000+ attend each weekend!) where he has pastored now for three decades. He believes the way to get people to connect or “stick” to church is through relationships in small groups. Besides Sunday services, small groups are North Coast Church's primary ministry. Osborne explains the process that led him and his ministry team to focus on Sermon-based small groups. As a result, the people who got involved in small groups at NCC were given an opportunity to apply what they heard the previous Sunday in the context of encouraging, accountable relationships.

I found “Sticky Church” very beneficial in helping to form and grow the small groups ministry at RRCC. Although small groups were already established before I came on staff, the church needed someone to champion these small groups. There were a lot of things going right, but there were also a lot of things that needed improvement. The biggest thing I picked up on was being intentional with what we did as a ministry in the church.

We have a lot of great small groups at Rocky River Community Church. They are the Taylors & Hills, Shropshires, Batemans, Britts, Mauldins, Bushes, GIGGLES (womens' ministry) and the worship band's small group that happens during their practices, as well.

I look forward to working with these leaders to make this a better ministry for our church. As our church grows (and it has grown a lot over the past few months!), relationships will be very important when it comes to connecting - both to people and to God.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Too Much White Noise

I remember life before cable TV. Growing up, I lived in the country, out in Mt. Pleasant. Even from there I was a good 10 minutes from town. So there was no way my family was going to get cable. My parents bowled on Fridays nights so we would go to their friends' house while they bowled - and they had cable TV! They had the box with 2 lines of buttons that made a loud clicking noise. Ah, the memories.

Anyway, before all of this high-definition stuff, my parents did have a remote control. It was called Donnie, Bobby and Dwayne! We changed the channels for our parents. On our TV there were 2 knobs - VHF and UHF. You know. You remember, right? On VHF were channels 3 and 9 which had the clearest pictures. On UHF were the new channels 18 and 36. These were always fuzzy with lots of static and white noise. So, it was hard to get a clear picture.

Well, in the past couple of weeks my life has been similar to these UHF channels. Lots of static and white noise. I've had many distractions, both personally and professionally. The white noise drowns out the important things in my life - like my bride, Courtney, and my son, MD. But, most of all it distracts me from God. If I stay distracted from Him for too long I forget my purpose and my direction and I am not the person I should be.

When the white noise gets too loud, I am forced to shut it off which is not always easy to do. I have to turn off the noise - like my phone and computer. I then go to the garage or back patio and read. In Psalm 46:10, God told David to “Be still and know that I am God!” The command to “be still” means “cause yourselves to let go.” When the white noise is too loud, I have to “be still” or “let go” to see the saving power of God in my life. I give up in trusting in what I can do or what is going on around me in order to experience the glory of God’s all-sufficiency.

When I confess the truth about who I really am and entrust all my cares, burdens and distractions to God, I regain my focus, purpose and priorities as well as an unshakable peace and confidence.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It is cute now


My boy, Michael Dean, put his first sentence together this week, “No Daddie.” Man- did it make my heart melt, it was so cute. I know that cuteness will not last for long so I am going to enjoy, “No Daddie” for now.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2 Down. 10 More to Go. Every Man’s Marriage

Before I began reading “Every Man’s Marriage” by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, & Mike Yorkey, I was afraid it was going to be a man-bashing book. So I really didn't have an open mind about it. I wanted to read this book so I could be a better husband to Courtney and a better example of a husband to my boy.

I don’t have all the answers or know what to do all the time as a husband, so I muddled my way through it. Also, Courtney and I have only been married for 6 years this May, and I don’t want our marriage to grow cold. I want to learn to be a better husband. I want to make our relationship better. I want our marriage to set an example for my boy so he will know what to look for in girl and also how to have a Godly marriage. By the time I made it through the first chapter I realized this was going to be a good book.

The day we get married, we don’t set out to have a cold and empty marriage. We have dreams, passion and love for each other. As life begins to happen and that “honeymoon” period ends, distractions begin to detour married couples from each other. It's not intentional, it just happens.

“Every Man’s Marriage” is a jolt, a shot in the arm, a wake up call - whatever you want to call it - to maintain your focus on your spouse. I am a selfish person and it challenged me to put Courtney before my needs, and by doing that my needs are fulfilled. I highly encourage you to read this book. I read it about every two years or so.

I do want to give a plug along the same lines of marriage: this past Sunday, Jimmy (my lead pastor) and I went to a conference in Atlanta. On our way there we visited a church in Anderson called New Spring Church. The lead pastor, Perry Noble, was preaching part 3 of a 4-part series called “IWantANewMarriage.com.” This was the best message I had ever heard on marriage. It was good for married couples as well as singles. When you get a chance, take time to listen or watch the podcast at:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Confessions of a Wolfpack Fan

I don’t really know why I am an NC State Wolfpack fan. No one in my family went to college there. In fact, everyone in my family pulls for UNC. There were only a few of us State fans in high school - Jennifer Lancaster, Monty Murdock and the Fishers. We were very out-numbered , but that didn't matter to me. I loved the Wolfpack and watched as many of their games as I could. I knew we would be competitive in basketball. But over the years that excitement has somewhat left me.

Jimmy V had fire and got us excited for the games. Then Les Robinson coached the team - come on, you don’t get athletic directors to coach. That’s why they are athletic directors - they can’t coach. Then after Les was Herb Sendeck. He was pretty good. He gave state a chance to beat UNC. He was a good coach but could never really advance the team further than midway in the ACC.

Now we have one of the heroes of the Cardiac Pack, Sidney Lowe, to save team. Honestly, I have zero excitement. I love State. I still pull for them. But I feel the way Tarheel fans felt with Matt Doherty. I am not one of those fans who pulls for one college team in one sport then another college team in another sport (there seems to be a lot Florida Gator football fans out there who pull for UNC basketball - I call that a band-wagon fan, folks.)

I know we beat Wake this year, but UNC is our rival and I want that game to mean something again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Man-O-Man

Man- what an intense but awesome daylong meeting with the church staff today. If I had hair left, it would have fallen out today. I tell- I work along side of some of the most Godly and wise people there are: Jimmy Britt, Travis Bush, Darren Libby, Randy Mauldin and Tiffani Cochran.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day

OK - I'm going to be honest here. I'm not a big fan of Valentines Day. I don’t understand this day and I don’t know why it is such a big deal, until yesterday. I went to get Courtney a gift after beating my brains out for the past couple days wondering what I was going to get her. Then somewhere in the process it began to click in my mind about this day. I remember feeling lonely on this day when I was single. As I was looking for a card for Courtney, I was reminded what a great wife she is to me. On days like this she goes out of her way to make me feel special and make me gifts. This day is a celebration of love between you and your spouse. It is a day to let your loved one know how much you care for them.

A lot of times I fail to let Courtney know what she means to me. She is an awesome wife and an awesome mother. I love seeing her play with my son. I love coming home to her and Michael Dean talking and playing. I love the walks we share in the evenings. I love winding down our evenings watching TV together before bed. I love it when I come home early in the morning from the YMCA and our small talks we have as she gets ready for work. I love my wife’s long red hair. I love it when she laughs at my “dorkiness.” I just flat out love my wife, Courtney Brezina Icenhour.

Happy Valentines Day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

1 Down. 11 More to Go. "Built to Last"

In January, I set a goal to read 12 books this year - basically 1 book a month. I set out to read 12 because I'm not exactly the fastest reader. I read like I spell and if you know me, you know I can’t spell! So, I thought this was an achievable goal and so far I'm on task. My first book was “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies,” by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Poras.

“Built to Last” looks at visionary companies like Disney, Wal-Mart and Merck. These companies are at the very top of the business world and demonstrate longevity and great brand image. After reading this book, I definitely want to buy from these companies. In the book, these companies are compared to their counterparts - who are not as successful, but well-known. For example: Disney is compared to Columbia Pictures; Ford to GM; Merck to Pfizer; and GE to Westinghouse.

My favorite company is the 3M Company (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing.) 3M really fosters a culture of creativity from their employees and allows them to spend time researching ideas. They started as a defunct mining operation and soon realized they had to do something different. With the by-products from their mining operations they developed water-proof sandpaper. This kept the company afloat until they developed Scotch Tape in 1925. The Post-it Note was invented by of one of their employees as well. How cool is that? This is why the 3M Company is one of my favorite companies.

I also found things in this book I tried to carry over into my experiences with church operation. There are some business principals the church as a whole, can learn from such as organizational structure, laser-like focus for purpose, and the possibility for new ideas and creativity.

I really liked this book and would recommend it. But, if you're just not that into business-related stuff, you mind find this book a bit boring.

Darren Libby

I just can't say enough about RRCC's latest staff addition, Darren Libby. From the moment Travis, Jimmy and I received Darren’s resume, I knew there was something awesome about this guy. I've really enjoyed, for the past few months, getting to know him as a friend and as a brother in the Lord. I love to hear him sing and lead worship and I really look forward to our Sunday morning worship times. God really does use him to prepare our hearts for Jimmy’s messages.

It's been a smooth and almost seamless transition adding him to our staff. I gotta admit, I forget how young he is because of his great insights and wisdom.

Darren, I look forward to serving with you for many years to come.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Randy Mauldin

I have known Randy’s wife, Greta, since high school. So, getting to know Randy over the past few months has been awesome. Since joining our staff at RRCC he has made a big impact on our church's ministries through pastoral care. He has a tremendous gift of mercy. He fills a void that has been empty in our church for quite some time.

It was so encouraging having Randy at the hospital, praying and hearing his comforting words of encouragement, the day we had to put tubes in my boy’s ears back in December.

In spite of the fact that he is a Tarheel fan, he is a great guy with a huge heart for people and for God. Thank you, Randy.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tiffani Cochran

OK, so last week I wrote about Jimmy and Travis. Now I want to write about one of the most under-estimated and under-valued people on our staff at Rocky River Community Church. Tiffani Cochran. She is the assistant to Jimmy, our church’s lead pastor. She's also his personal trainer and I sometimes tap into her for fitness advice as well.

She kinda feels like a sister to me. Someone I can bounce ideas off of and know she'll be honest with me (sometimes a little too honest!) You won't see her giving announcements, leading worship or preaching a sermon - but ALL the stuff she does is so valuable. With her many talents she frees up time for Jimmy so he can spend more time on his messages, with the church's staff, with his family and with the members of RRCC.

Thanks "Tif" - for ALL you do.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Travis Bush

In my last post I talked about Jimmy, the pastor of our church. In this post I'm talking about Travis Bush, our Student & Families Pastor. I'm a firm believer in letting people know how much I care for and appreciate them. I think too many times we just don’t do it or we wait until it is too late.

Well, I've had the opportunity to work with Travis for several months now and I am always amazed with his wisdom. God speaks through him during our staff meetings where he shows wisdom way beyond his years. It's awesome to hear his vision, not just for the youth but also for their whole family. I went to college to study youth ministries and have been at a lot of great churches with great youth programs. And I gotta say, Travis does it right. He really is a top-shelf Student & Families Pastor at Rocky River Community Church.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jimmy Britt (see picture below)

Now, this may seem like I'm brown-nosing my boss. But I'm really not! It is a real honor to work at Rocky River Community Church and the people with whom I work. For many years now, I've been involved in ministries at several churches and worked at many businesses where I've had some pretty great bosses and co-workers. But, I gotta say - Jimmy Britt is one of the best.

He takes himself seriously enough to fulfill God’s calling in his life and for the town of Harrisburg, but not too seriously where he can't laugh at himself (and at me too!) I sit in staff meetings and listen to his vision for our church. I hear his compassion for hurting people and his desire for our church to be a light in the Harrisburg community. I enjoy hearing his sermons as well as all the conversations we have that challenge me to grow in my faith. He also has an awesome wife, who truly is his better half (and who takes great care of my boy in the nursery) and 2 great kids - Annie and James.

OK, enough of the brown-nosing. It really is awesome for my family and me to be a part of one of the greatest churches around.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mila & Me

Mila, our fluffy little red & white Shih-Tzu, is my wife’s dog. After we got married she harassed me about getting a little, inside dog and I wanted nothing but an outside dog. The only kind of dog I had growing up was an outside dog. That's all I knew. Plus, at the time, we lived in a small home - only 800 sq. ft. So we really had no space for a dog.

Well, the next year we moved into our townhome and she now definitely wouldn't let up on getting a dog. So I decided to give in and get her one for her 27th birthday. We did a lot of research. We didn't want to be one of those people who buys a dog because they're "popular" only to later abandon them. We wanted to make sure the dog would fit in with our lifestyle. So, with all of our research we decided a Shih-Tzu was our best doggy match. (I know. It's funny to say. Jimmy Britt still giggles every time he says it.) I tell you, though, I really love this dog.

Lately, I've had several sleepless nights and will get up to read or just do something - and Mila gets right up along with me. She is the first one to greet me when I come home. There is nothing that makes me feel better than walking up the driveway and seeing my boy in 1 window and my dog in the other. She'll jump at my leg until I pet her. When I sit to watch TV, she jumps on the recliner with me. When I was working from home she was always at my feet. She sits and looks out the window all day until Courtney and/or I come home. She doesn't have a care in world other than Courtney, Michael Dean and me. She is truly a pleasure to have and is an important part of our family. It doesn't matter how bad a day I've had, she will always be my dog and will always love me. In fact, a lot like God loves me. Now, I'm not comparing my dog to God - well, maybe the characteristics. But she kinda is a reflection of God’s unconditional love for me.

So, yes - that's right. I call Mila "my" dog and not Courtney’s dog. Don’t tell her, though!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I am Excited!

I am so excited about being part of a great church like Rocky River Community Church. There are a lot of great things happening. We have an awesome pastor, Jimmy, who has a heart and vision for the community. We have a tremendous youth pastor, Travis, who has done a lot with very little. Then there is Randy - man he is turning our weaknesses into strengths with pastoral care. And next week we will be welcoming Darren as our new worship pastor, who has a great heart for God. Last but not least - there is you - connecting you to God and connecting you to others is what it is all about!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's resolution/goals

Every year I am always good sbout setting some goals/New Year's resolutions. I really don't set a lot just 3 or 4. So I will share them you, don't tell anyone just incase I can't fulfill them:

1- Read 1 book a month
2- Loose 20 Pounds by the end of April
3- Improve my golf game

Simple- I know.