In the past week, we have enjoyed attending training camp practices for the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs, the two NFL teams for which we cheer.

During the first one – our trip to the Twin Cities – we were sitting in the stands of the TCO Performance Center (the Vikings’ amazing practice and training facility), when Marsha told Micah, “Okay, it’s almost time for their practice to start.”

Micah’s reply was priceless. He said with exasperation, “Practice?!” He was thinking that surely, with thousands of fans waiting in a packed house, we must have been waiting for something more than practice.

Still, it was fun, especially considering how close we were to the players. Everyone except Micah – not yet much of a football fan – really enjoyed the experience.

At Missouri Western State University, home of the Chiefs’ training camp, Zoe waited by a gate for 2.5 hours with the hopes of getting Patrick Mahomes’ autograph (it was QBs and RBs day for autographs). While she did not get Mahomes’ autograph, she did get a couple others, along with some great experiences, including Jody Fortson coming right up to Zoe, signing his gloves, and giving them to her. Needless to say, we are now huge Fortson fans, as well as bigger fans of Mercole Hardman (Zoe got his autograph on a jersey for Noah), Juan Thornhill, Justin Watson, and Austin Edwards, all who took a lot of time to come over, visit, and sign autographs.

Click HERE for some pictures of both training camps.

Also, HERE is the video of Fortson coming up to Zoe.

Zoe’s Testimony & Baptism

A few weeks ago, I had the amazing privilege of baptizing Zoe and my sister Ashley. Praise be to God! Below, you can see their testimonies and baptisms (first video) and/or just watch Zoe’s testimony (second video).

Never have I been more proud to be Zoe’s dad and Ashley’s brother than when they publicly professed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord by sharing their testimonies and being baptized. What a blessing and privilege it was to get to baptize them!

Exciting Relay Finishes

When I ran track in high school, I wished I was fast enough to run in the most exciting race of the night – the 1600-meter relay (4×400). Instead, I usually ran events like the 3200-meter relay (4×800), the 1600-meter run, and the 800-meter run. Levi, like Marsha and me, is probably more suited to be a mid-distance or distance runner, but he has been fortunate to run the third leg in the 1600-meter relay in most of the track meets this year, and his relay team has done pretty well.

He has passed at least three runners in each of his opportunities and has yet to get passed by someone else.

Below are a few of the exciting finishes to his legs in the relays.

What’s keeping you from turning to the Lord?

If God called you to Himself, what would keep you from turning to Him? Please know – He is calling you to Himself. He desires that you have a right relationship with Him.

You might respond, “Well, I’ve done too many bad things to be right with God.” No, you have not. True, we have all done too many evil things to have a right relationship with God, but His Son came to save and restore all who turn to Him. Thus, if you are still breathing, you still have an opportunity to know and follow God by turning to Him.

You might respond, “I don’t NEED God.” Yes, you do. We all do. Life might seem great for you right now, but what is next? What happens when this life is over? Are you certain of what your future holds? Are you certain of your eternal destiny? God is, and He alone can assure you of eternal life.

The simple reality is – we can either turn to the Lord in repentance and faith before this life is over, or we will experience His righteous, eternal wrath.

There are many more reasons people give for why they refuse to turn to the Lord than I can address in this post. I cannot help but wonder, though, how many of the reasons are rooted in fear? Are you refusing to turn to the Lord because of fear of what others might think? Are you fearful of God’s call on your life? Are you fearful of how things might change? Are you fearful of not knowing all the answers? Are you fearful of surrendering your all to a God you cannot see? Are you fearful of trusting in a God you cannot yet understand?

If we feared God like we should – the God of creation, the God of judgment, and the God of salvation – we would turn to Him without hesitation. Instead, though, the temptation is so often to fear everyone and everything except God. What an eternally dangerous mistake!

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will begin a new sermon series through Zechariah called NEW. God is able to make all things new, and He wants to renew and restore you. For this first message, I will preach through Zechariah 1:1-6 about what it looks like to be “Renewed and Returning.”

Is fear holding you back from turning (or returning) to the Lord? The name Zechariah means “the Lord remembers.” What a great name for a prophet of God who authored a book about God remembering His promises and faithfully keeping those promises!

Do not let fear hold you back from trusting in the Lord with all your heart. If you do turn to Him, the amazing promises declared in the song below are yours to embrace. Praise be to God!

Silas and Sahari follow Jesus!

This past Sunday morning, I had the amazing privilege of baptizing our son Silas and niece Sahari. Praise the Lord! Also, our dear friend Preston Thompson got to baptize his daughter, Charli. You can watch the testimonies and baptisms below (or skip ahead to any particular one by clicking HERE and following the linked notes from the video)…

The Mask of Pride

Rather than writing a weekly blog post this week, I recorded a weekly blog video in order to share my personal convictions about an issue that has, unfortunately, become far too political. No, I am not trying to convince you to wear a mask but rather to consider your motivations for doing so (or not doing so). In preparation for my Sunday morning message in our Walk Humbly sermon series, I want to challenge you to be prepared for God’s just judgment (as I’ll preach, Lord willing, from Micah 6) by responding to Him and others with humility and not with pride.

Before we can do what God has called us to do, we must be who God has called us to be. This is only possible when we turn from sin and surrender our lives to Him, trusting in what Jesus did on the cross and what Jesus accomplished through His resurrection. To learn more, check out The Story.

Spring Picture Highlights

Well, this has certainly been a unique spring season. While we obviously pray for a quick end to this pandemic, we praise God for the time we have been able to spend together as a family. He has been gracious to us, so we are grateful for His love and provision, our health, our family, our church family, and much more.

Here are some picture highlights from the past couple of months, followed by a video the kids did in reflecting on our adoption of Micah three years ago…

What’s your attitude?

When we were on vacation a few weeks ago, my sister Ashley treated the girls (Zoe and her three Drake cousins) to airbrush tattoos. As is clear in the picture above, Zoe loved getting hers. That attitude of excitement was true of all four girls, from the process of picking out the tattoo to getting it applied to their skin.

While every single one of us is uniquely designed by God and not meant to be the same, we are to have the same attitude when it comes to following Jesus Christ. Does it mean we will look the same or be the same? No. But, it does mean that, by the grace of God and the work of His Spirit in our lives, we will have a biblical attitude.

This morning during our worship service with Richland Baptist Church, I preached on “The Attitude of Discipleship” (Mark 9:33-50).

Below is the entirety of a video I showed a portion of at the beginning of my message, illustrating what happens when we begin to have backwards thinking (or a backwards attitude).

God created us for Himself, and if we try to live for another purpose, we will never be satisfied. What is your attitude when it comes to following the Lord?

Understanding: Essential but Limited

Although Silas learned how to ride a bike a few years ago, he did something new a couple weeks ago – he rode an adult-sized bike. Clearly, Silas already understood how to ride a bike. And, with a little explanation and demonstration, he was able to understand how to use those same skills to ride a much bigger bike than the one which he is accustomed to riding.

In order for Silas to actually successfully ride that bigger bike, though, he had to not only understand that it was possible; he had to embrace the task.

Similarly but in a much more important way, we must both understand and embrace the message of the gospel. We must understand who Jesus is and what it means to be His disciple, and we must choose to follow Him (to embrace who He is and what He has called us to be and do).

During our worship service this morning with Richland Baptist Church, I preached on “The Message of Discipleship” from Mark 8:27 – 9:1. Will you consider both seeking to understand and choosing to embrace the message? It all begins HERE.

Below is a one-minute video of Silas riding Grandma Jo’s bike (and Micah trying to tag along on a trike).

The Heart of the Matter

What is the root of our most important calling in life? What is the reason someone faithfully follows Jesus? How is someone able to do so?

During our morning worship service at Richland Baptist Church today, I preached through Mark 7:1-23 on “The Heart of Discipleship.” My challenge: does your heart gladly reflect the heart of discipleship?

Frankly, one can “successfully” come across as a faithful follower of Jesus in the eyes of others. He can be devoted, zealous, consistent and committed. Yet, he can be headed straight for hell, relying on himself and looking “good” while doing so.

That is what I addressed in my message this morning. We need to understand the heart of discipleship, knowing that a genuine relationship with God is not earned by our obedience but rather a result of our humble surrender. Salvation from sin and death is not a result of what we can do, but rather the result of trusting in what Jesus Christ has already done.

When we were on family vacation at the beginning of this month, one of the fun things we had the privilege of doing a few times was a ropes course. The “Leap of Faith” was one of the obstacles at the course, and there were seven of us from our group of 27 who attempted the “Leap of Faith.” Four of us were able to complete the task, which involves climbing up a 20-foot telephone pole, figuring out how to turn around and stand on the top with only a rope on your back, and then leaping as far as you can to grab a trapeze bar.

If someone can successfully complete the “Leap of Faith” as seemingly easily as 13-year-old Noah did (see the below video), then it might be assumed that person is not afraid of heights. What we cannot see when watching someone do the “Leap of Faith,” though, is the condition of his heart.

There might be adventure and excitement consuming someone, and/or there might be fear and dread. There might be confident assurance, or there might be absolute horror.

The reality is that life is a lot like the “Leap of Faith,” but much harder. Really, we cannot do anything by merely “willing ourselves” to do so. We may be able to appear as if we have it figured out and are confidently moving along, but we are never at a point where we do not need the Lord.

Sure, you might successfully complete several “leaps of faith” along the way, but you also have several failures (We all do!), particularly when compared with a perfect, holy, righteous God.

So, what is the condition of your heart? Are you trusting in what you can do, or are you trusting in what Jesus has already done? Are you depending on your own abilities, or are you humbly surrendering to the Only One who paid it all?