Archive - January, 2009

How Great Was Sunday?

I baptized my son, we had a packed house at both services, music was phenomenal (a much overused word by me these days), 21 youth were confirmed, 16 of them were baptized (including my son Wesley), our staff and volunteers were right on, I got to wear a new shirt and sing “It only takes a spark”, I ate lunch at Tenda Chick with my in-laws and did I mention I baptized my son??? Love it.

Rusty Baptizes his son

Stepping Towards Independence

Wow…life moves pretty fast! One blink and things change. For example, Michael, my 15 year old, has his driver’s permit. He drove me and his brothers home from Montgomery this past Saturday (first time on the interstate).  We had just finished eating burgers and dogs at “5 guys and a Burger” in East Chase (let me just say mmmmmmm!). Anyway, halfway back to Auburn it hits me “This is Michael’s first big step toward independence. This time next year he’s driving on his own!- whoa”.  What happened to that little kid who was asking me to tie his shoes and make him chocolate milk??

Also, Wesley my 13 year old shaved for the first time last night and will be confirmed this Sunday. I will have the honor, privilege and pleasure of baptizing him and bringing him into church membership (as I did Michael 2 years ago and I will do for Will 2 years from now). I’m pumped! But I’m also reminded that time is moving on. It is relentless. It causes little boys to grow. It causes things to change and therefore, I have to change. Not always easy – but necessary.

So, in the words of  Kenny Chesney “Don’t Blink”.

Man Weekend Recap

Just wanted to update you on my recent yearly trek down to the farm (known as “man weekend”) for some hunting, relaxing, eating, hanging out fun. My two friends, Lance and Keith, from Georgia are a part of this deal. It’s funny because we take so much gear, clothes, food and supplies that you would think we were going away for a month instead of a few days! That’s the result of over excitement and under planning.

In short, the trip was successful. Between the three of us there was only one deer taken and very few seen. We got cold, wet and tired. You might be asking “soooo, where’s the success in this?” That’s the beauty of this trip. Don’t get me wrong we love the hunting, the harsh weather, the anticipation of a huge buck, using all the gear and climbing trees, but gem of this trip is the fellowship, conversations, praying and laughing together.

It’s about joking each other, sitting around the fire telling hunting stories (these are never called hunting “truths” by the way!) and standing around the stove eating whatever is being cooked right out of the pan. It’s about disengaging from stress and the cares of our careers and just being people who need nothing from each other but friendship. It’s just a great time.

So, there you go. Already looking forward to next year.


Leading the Man2Man Group Today

I had the great opportunity of leading the guys at our Man2Man gathering this morning. I love sharing with these men who are seeking the Lord with their whole heart. I am blessed by them. Anyway, I talked about something that I have previously blogged about. It’s a principle that John Ortberg brings to light in his book “Overcoming Your Shadow Mission”.  Our shadow mission is “a pattern of thought and action based on temptations and our own selfishness that lead us to betray our deepest values. The result: regret and guilt.”


Often it’s not something that’s 180 degrees from who we are and what we’re pursuing, it’s more like 5 or 10 degrees of the mark. It’s pursuing religion instead of Jesus, spending all our time with hobbies in the name of “stress relief” knowing it takes time away from family or serving God, seeking approval from people, seeking fame and recognition, etc. etc. Everybody has one – what’s yours?

To pursue this shadow mission is to waste precious time. You and I were created for something far greater, bigger and more important than some unimportant selfish quest. It’s like when Mordecai tells Esther “who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”. What about you and me? Who knows that who we are, what we do, our passions and gifts and resources were given to us for such a time as this. God needs us for this time in which we live.

Just a thought.

This is My Annual Man Weekend

I’m leaving tomorrow for a time that I have come to cherish over the last several years. It’s this once every 12 months “man weekend”. One of my old college roomates, Lance, and another friend named Keith come over from Georgia and we head down to the farm for some, gumbo-eatin’, deer huntin’, sunflower seed spittin’, camp fire burnin’ fun!! I look forward to this time. It’s really more than fun, it’s recovery.

I realize that as a pastor I have signed up for (been called to) a stressful career. It just comes with the nature of ministry, especially in a very dynamic church. So it’s not just relief I need, but recovery. Recovery is about reclaiming things like, my inner peace, my core personality, my God-given joy, my passion and my “non-pastor” real personness (not sure if you get that).  Everybody needs recovery of some type – would you agree?? (By the way, I don’t abuse this wife-supported hobby. I am NOT addicted to it).

rusty and his deerMy prayer – “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.” Psalm 23:1-3


Vacation Snapshot, Anyone Pick a Winner?

ha! just came across this pic from our vacation this past summer. that’s Becky and Michael. any takers on who won??

Rusty and Becky

I Thank God For My Family

I love my family!! (this begins a series called “I love ____”, just so you know). My wife, Becky, is just so cute and kind and compassionate and hard-working and generous and sincere (I wonder if she reads my blog?). She is the ultimate partner. I thank God for her. She is genuinely my soul-mate (way cheesy phrase! but true). We’ve know each other since we were kids. We dated for 7 years before getting married. We’ve been married for 19 years. I can honestly say it’s all been good.

Also, I’m so proud of my boys. Michael is 14, Wesley is 13, and Will is 10. They are awesome. While they totally have their “moments”, they are kind, thoughtful, well-mannered, good boys. They love to hunt, fish, ride the 4 wheeler, play football, play baseball, and just about anything outside. I love that they are growing up and becoming more of a peer with me. We have fun together. I pray for them so much.

I Love the Farm in Dale Alabama

I love the farm!! The farm is land owned by my wife’s family down in Dale County just outside of Ozark. We spend as much time there as possible. We spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas there.

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It is 700+ acres of pure therapy! We ride the 4 wheeler, swim at the river, walk in the woods, look for arrowheads, sit in the swing under the tree, spit sunflower seeds, eat boiled peanuts, deer hunt, turkey hunt, and just basically relax. I’m grateful to God for it. It is family time, me time and God time all rolled up into one. I love being outside smelling the pines, the dirt, the honeysuckle and the smoke from the bonfire. It’s just good! I’m thankful for the farm.

The Alive Megaseries Kicks Off

Alive SeriesWe kicked off our “Alive” megaseries yesterday. Very excited about it. There’s a hunger and thirst out there for more spiritual connection and a greater understanding of the Bible. It’s obvious in people’s responses after each service. They were saying everything from a simple “thank you” to “I love this whole “Alive” idea!”

I would say, however, that this is true for most believers in our world. We want more. More of God, more understanding, more knowledge, more discipline, more experience, more hands-on ministry, etc. I think it’s because God has placed in us a heart that is like a well. Sometimes there is a drought and the well is really low. Sometimes there is a flood and the water level is close to the top. But, somehow, no matter how full it gets, there is always room for more. So, I guess our prayer is “Lord give me more!”.

If you’re in our church, I really want to challenge you to be at church each week of this series. It’s like we as a church are moving somewhere together and we want everybody on board.

I Love My Church, That’s All

I love my church!!

Just wanted to declare that. I love the people I work with. I love that they are real. I love that they work hard (even when no one’s looking). I love our volunteers. I am inspired by their amazing sacrifice and commitment to leading people to know and serve Jesus (our mission). I love that God pours out His grace continually on us. I love that lives are being changed by Jesus. I love that people love our church and have made a serious commitment to be a part of it.

So, what I’m saying is, I love my church – that’s all.