Book Wars


Books are influential in my life. I've finished hundreds and have started thousands! Some have been great, others I use as door stops. So what if I took some of the books from my shelf and paired them up? Not a book review just a overall theme and comparison. Which would win? Why?


The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg
Knowing God by J.I. Packer

I thought I would post a brief time line to celebrate the past 14 years of marriage (and almost 20 years of being together).

1991 - I broke my ankle and noticed you cheering on the sidelines. I thought, "Wow, that girl is too cute not to go out with me..." and on October 19 we went to Homecoming (almost 20 years ago).
1992 - This was the infamous 'Schlitterbahn' trip were I acted like I didn't like you. Yeah, still sorry about that. I just had to realize what I had in you.
1993 - This was a fun year... we were crazy high school kids! I remember always surprizing you somehow at the locker we shared between classes.
1994 - We had to grow up a lot this year. I graduated, moved to college and snail mail became our best friend. This was before email and texting, remember all those hundreds of letters?
1995 - You graduated, and we lived for Fridays when I would drive home and meet you at your house outside on your steps for 'the hug.'
1996 - This was perhaps the longest year of our lives. The wedding was set and we just simply waited... and waited... and waited. Though we had upgraded from snail mail to 'pager codes' such as 00000 (which meant "I Love You") it still was excruciating to wait for the next year to get here.
1997 - After three years of me driving home every weekend on May 31st, 1997 we stood before God and entered into a lifelong covenant. We had no idea what would be in store for us but it didn't really matter. We had each other and a determination to do whatever it took to always be the other one's #1.
1998 - Oh man... what a fun year this was... Newlyweds! I was working at Circuit City and going to school full-time and you were taking some classes and teaching full-time. I remember our small little apartment and of course how could we forget about our pot-smoking, sailor-cursing, clinically insane, bird-hating, downstairs neighbor, Gary.
1999 - I graduated from A&M and we moved to Lufkin. Little did we know that our lives would be forever changed by meeting 6 of the best friends in the world.
2000 - This year was marked by working, doing lots and lots of fun ministry, late nights at the Burch's and sleeping late on Saturday mornings (wow, remember what that was like?).
2001 - Heartache is the best word I can use to describe this year. We wanted a child so much and nothing seemed to go our way. Yet we held on to the hope that joy was indeed coming...
2002 - Joy did come. Except we called her Ashlin. All of a sudden we found ourselves holding what we had been praying for. We were as clueless as we were eager. We struggled but we learned lots.
2003 - I remember you saying, "It might be fun to live in a different state for a while." And with that we moved to Oklahoma and started an entirely new chapter in our life. We only had 1 kid, we ministered with new friends, and I earned lots and lots of free airline miles!
2004 - This year we searched for what God would have us do. It seemed like it was taking forever. Then Claire came along and it all fell into place. Now we had two kids and felt just as clueless.
2005 - I started full-time ministry and seminary this year. Meanwhile we were loving having two little girls to play with. I just remember there being lots of pink around the house.
2006 - As we continued to serve where God had us, He also began to change our hearts. He drew us closer together and gave us a desire to help other marriages do the same. We also decided to have another child. Then Levi was born, the great equalizer. He brought what was greatly needed to our house. Namely testosterone and camo colors.
2007 - Three kids now? Still in seminary... Are you kidding me? How did we do that?
2008 - Well, well, well. Apparently whatever was broken back in 2001 was fixed for good now because here came baby number 4... Carley. This year is also significant because it launched us into another category of living... The Minivan!
2009 - I finally finished seminary (serving full-time and having 4 kids). What we never thought was possible ended up being not only possible but down right fun. We also began to sense God leading us into other areas of ministry... but where?
2010 - Apparently that place was Tyler. We moved and began a new ministry, bought our first house, had a dog, and started to feel a little more grown up (but not much). Oh and the dog didn't last very long.
2011 - Here we are. What will this year bring? So far it's brought some sadness as well as hope. I could not have gotten through mom's passing without you. Your wisdom and loving hands have brought healing and comfort. I can only pray Levi finds a woman such as you and that our girls become mothers of tenderness and best friends to their husbands like you are to me.

I often think to myself would I change anything if I had it to do over again. I think I would do somethings differently, but I also know there is one thing I would never change. No matter how many opportunities I would have, or how many things I could do over. I would always pick you. I still pick you and you're still my #1.

Thank you Shelly for being who you are, thank you for your love, your beauty, and your compassion. For all you do, and all you are, and for what you mean to me and our family. Happy Anniversary.

I love You.

Looking for ideas!

Here's what I'm looking for. I need creative ideas for building special moments together as a family and as a couple. I'm looking for TWO main categories. PARENTING IDEAS and MARRIAGE IDEAS. Here are some examples of what I'm looking for.


  • Family Fun Night ideas
  • Special Occasion & Holiday ideas
  • Movie Night ideas
  • Bedtime Moments
  • Mealtime Moments
  • etc.
  • Date Night ideas (away from home)
  • Date Night ideas (staying home)
  • Romantic Getaway ideas
  • etc.
Basically, if you could share your idea by EMAIL or comment below and include features such as 1) How this idea is best used
2) Things you would need in advance
3) A detailed breakdown of how to go about the idea (step 1, 2...)
4) Any possible scripture reference you might have to support the idea (scripture is not necessary).

I'd really appreciate getting these soon. Plus, if you send me an idea by email I will fill you in on what this is going to be used for.

Oh and as an added incentive...

The best idea for the Parenting category will win a free copy of Rob Reinow's book Visionary Parenting.

In addition, the best idea for the Marriage category will win a free copy of Rob & Amy Reinow's book Visionary Marriage.

Disclaimer: Voting of said resources will be conducted by my crack staff consisting of 4 kids and 1 wife. Bribes are welcomed!

Email me here

Faith@Home sounds cool and all... but do we really believe it?

"Parents are the primary spiritual leaders in a child's life..."
"We believe Deuteronomy 6 places the emphasis on the family..."
"We're going to partner with parents..."
"We've got to push faith back into the home..."
"Parents, it's your job to train and disciple your kids..."

I love these phrases. I've used most of them myself. With the recent popularity of groups like the D6 Conference, Rethink's 'Orange', and the whole Faith@Home movement these phrases are almost commonplace in many churches today. Thank God for that!

However what I'm seeing is that while many churches are embracing this mindset and looking back the the ancient paths of discipleship most are not charting a course to anywhere in particular. Most churches are not making the necessary changes to ensure this type of ministry actually happens. Most churches are simply adding more stuff on top of the old stuff. Most churches are not canceling certain children and youth events which exclude parents in search of greater ones that intentionally include them. Most churches are not taking that next step of asking, "So how do we really equip mom and dad for this lofty task we're slapping them with every week?"

Most churches are selling a product they have no intention of providing any type of instructions for.

Many are claiming family ministry is important (good). They're informing parents of their God-given responsibilities and callings (good). Yet they are leaving the masses in ignorance and darkness on simple pragmatics (bad).

So here’s something to think about if you’re a church leader who buys into an Orange-D6-Faith@Home model of ministry... what changes are you making in your church? What changes are you making in your home? What changes are you calling your people to make? What budget lines are you cutting/creating? What ministries are you stopping/starting? What community organizations are you partnering with? How are you personally equipping dads to be the spiritual leaders of their families? Are you asking them to read big books (cause they won't). Are you delegating this responsibility to other staff members and demanding they “fit it in” somewhere?

Let's not be guilty of calling our people to a higher standard than what we expect of ourselves.

This post would just be incomplete if I simply raised a bunch of questions and didn't offer any solutions or ideas. Truth is, there is a rapidly growing list of resources and ideas for churches and parents out there on driving faith into the home. You can find those fairly easy if you look for them (I’ve included a few later on). Here are some of my suggestions for all of us as we navigate this ancient-yet-future way of doing family ministry:

  1. Write information for dads that they can read during lunch or sitting in the bathroom, not during an entire baseball season (don’t expect your dads to read those thick books).
  2. Quit beating up men for NOT leading their families. Most know they need to and most secretly want to... however, most do not have time or practical know how. That’s where you can help.
  3. Lead moms and dads to Scripture. Let the Bible reveal most of what you're trying to instill in them.
  4. Speaking of the Bible... Preach the WORD! Quit skeet-shooting topics like Family, Marriage, and Faith with sermons that shove a few scriptures into your main idea.
  5. Show parents how to do what your calling them to do. Like really show them. Invite them over to your house, use your couch, and your kids. Be a literal example. Oh and make sure it's not scripted either. Otherwise they'll feel discouraged the first time they try it and fail. Help them see that perfection is a unicorn and chaos is quite normal.
  6. Point them to further resources... rather than expecting them to attend the next Family Conference with you.
  7. In all aspects, make it easier for them to do something.
  8. In all aspects, make it more likely that they will do something.
  9. Celebrate and make a big deal of it when they do something!
  10. Teach them to celebrate themselves for doing something! Small victories.

There are just so many good things to do and so many different ways to accomplish it. However, in our home, we seldom attempt to do anything on our own. We use some good tools from people who share our same desire to pass on to our kids a devoted love for God. Here are just a few of those resource ideas.

These people offer short devotional ideas based around a weekly theme. It’s good stuff and it does not take anytime at all. I will say most of these are geared toward younger kids but if you have some creativity you can easily adapt them for older kids. This is produced by a great organization that attempts to include mom and dad into the spiritual development of their kids.

Ever wish there was a website that you could go watch some Q&A videos from some great and talented leaders? This is it. They cover every topic from money, careers, sex, and parenting. It is video based answers to common questions many people have but are too afraid to ask.

Advent Conspiracy
Don’t worry this isn’t a protest for or against Santa Claus. This is a movement to rethink the way Christians do Christmas (primarily with how we spend our money). Their website explains it much better then I can. Check it out.

Servant Evangelism
Need some ideas for what to do as a family to share the love of Christ in simple, everyday ways? This site has more than enough ideas.

(all links go to amazon.com)
Parenting with Kingdom Purpose by Ken Hemphill & Richard Ross
God, Marriage, and Family by Andreas Kostenberger
Rite of Passage Parenting by Walker Moore
Building the Christian Family You Never Had by Mary E. DeMuth
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Spiritual Growth of Children by John Trent, Rick Osborne, & Kurt Bruner
Bedtime Blessings by John Trent
Mealtime Moments by Focus on the Family (Heritage Builders)


Go get em' and lead the way!



Movie Review: Get Low


Remember when movies told a story? This is one of those that tells a great story. It's truly a wonderful movie but not like you think it will be. Nothing blows up, no super heroes, no action figures or epic war strategies. It is a beautiful story of forgiveness, bitterness, urban legends, and mercy. Robert Duvall (already one of the greatest actors of our day) proves why he's still on top. Add in superb performances by Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek and you've got the makings of a classic film. And oh the soundtrack... It's an incredible mixture of bluegrass and haunting orchestral melodies. The overall theme feels a tad slow at times but like anything worth waiting for it makes you appreciate it as a necessary part of the process. Don't watch it if you're fond of picking A+B=C type movies. However, if you like stories that keep you guessing and wishing for more then try it.

Is Contemporary Christian Music, Christian?

Found this video several years ago in VHS form. Went searching for it tonight on YouTube and eventually found it (our culture amazes me).

Anyway I really can't set this up without incriminating several people and one out-dated church library so I give to you Evangelist Alan Ives.

If you've got time please watch it in it's entirety but if not my personal favorite section is minutes 38:00-44:00 (Rhythm)


Carolyn Conn (1950-2011)


A couple of years ago I asked my mom to write out her testimony. I wanted it for myself but also deep down I wanted it in case something ever happened to her. I needed the security of knowing she had a relationship with God and that I would see her again someday. Well she did and I want to share it with everyone here. I want you to know what kind of a mother I had. Her up and down battle with cancer and other illnesses finally took her life last week but she stands completely healed today in the presence of Christ. I miss her like nothing imaginable but I'm holding on the the truth that is Heaven and the hope of glory.

"We are not long here"

Carolyn Conn – May 18, 2009

I was raised in a Methodist church and always enjoyed going to church. At the age of 10 or 11 my Sunday school teacher asked our class if anyone wanted to ask Jesus into their heart. I chose to do that, however was not really sure exactly what that meant. One Sunday, a group of us went to the front of the church and was baptized (sprinkled with water). As life went on, I tried to be a good person, always treated people as I wanted to be treated, and knew right from wrong. When my children were born I felt that they needed to be raised in church to have a belief in God. We visited a few churches in the area that were Baptist, because my husband was raised Baptist. Church going was sporadic after that for many years.

In 1993, I was hit with a catastrophic disease of cancer and prayed to God to help me through it. It was decided that surgery would be our only treatment and afterwards the doctor’s truly felt they had removed all of it. I was thankful to God and yet continued visiting church only every once in a while. In 1995, I knew deep in my heart that I needed God back in my life and longed for a closer relationship with Him. I started attending First Baptist Porter (the same church that my children had been attending). I really enjoyed the pastor and my Sunday school Ladies class. I had never been taught the Bible in such depth and I was like a sponge, absorbing as much as possible.

January of 1996 brought my cancer back in a full vengeance. I could sense that it was going to be different than the first time and I really needed God’s help. Our pastor spoke one Sunday on Carnal Christianity, someone just going through the motions of life, believing in God, praying to God, doing good for others, etc. but not giving their entire life over to Christ our Savior. “Oh my gosh” I thought… that was me. I felt I really needed to rededicate my life to Christ but pride set in and I didn’t want everyone at church to know that I really wasn’t sure if I was saved. I was also afraid that many would think the only reason I was rededicating my life was because of my cancer and that I was scared. But I knew deep down in my heart I had to get right with God, so I made a decision not to care what anyone might think. We had a revival at church in March and the pastor spoke on faith. He asked, “What type of faith do you have?” The example he used was if you are in a rough, choppy sea. He asked, “Are you drowning? Or are you hanging on the side of the boat for dear life? Are you trying to stay afloat? Or are you in the boat, assured, helping others into the boat?” I categorized my faith as simply trying to stay afloat, barely hanging on. I thanked God for allowing me to continue to live, stubborn as I was, to give me this new opportunity to make a decision for Him.

That very Sunday I went up to the front to rededicate my life. I don’t remember walking to the front of the church, I think I was carried. A young lady named Amy asked me if I had given my life to Christ. I told her that I remembered going through the motions but there had always been doubt. Right then we prayed the sinner’s prayer and I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I chose to be baptized that evening at church and to remove all doubt, no more waiting, no more pride.

At that time I was actively going through cancer radiation treatment and my body was marked up with black markers all over my torso to show the x-ray technician where to align my body exactly with the red laser cross beams so no damage would be done to my lungs, heart or vital organs during my treatment. These markings took about 3 hours to create and align precisely and I was told not to get them wet, because water would remove them. Therefore, I had been sponge bathing for about two weeks afraid to get them too wet. I began to fear getting immersed in water, thinking that might remove the markings. This was again the devil making another attempt to stop me, to put it off for a few more weeks. However, I decided not to wait and praise God on March 10, 1996 I was baptized. Oh yeah, by the way, the baptismal waters DID NOT remove any of the marks!

I now have calmness in my heart and there is no doubt in my mind about my salvation. I have also learned never to let pride stand in my way or care what some may think. Because God doesn’t care where YOU have been, He doesn’t care what YOU have done; He is only concerned where YOU are going!!

You too, can be a friend of God forever if you make the same decision I made. You can be forgiven and you can have eternal life with God if you turn away from your sins and turn toward God (this is called repentance), if you have faith alone in Christ alone. Please make this decision for yourself today, for today is the day of your salvation.