After a short time away on a retreat with our campus ministry I’ve been rolling over in my mind the tasks/obligations in my life that are essential and those that are not nearly as important. As a notorious multi-tasker so often I take on extra activities projects and my life and time fills up with so much that I can never give my full attention to.

I will always be protective of my family time. God has blessed me with a fantastic, gorgeous, loving wife and a sweet, beautiful baby girl. After my relationship with God they are my highest priority and my first ministry.

I am blessed to serve with a loving congregation–they are spectacular–they abound in love, encouragement, and hospitality.

I am determined to continue growing and learning through my degree program at HST. I can never fully describe how great an impact the faculty, staff, and fellow learners have had on my life and my ministry.

Also, I want to devote more time to learning and writing about the areas that interest me the most–preaching, congregational ministry, and spiritual formation. I am recommitting to all of the above, this blog being included among them.

My plan is to post 1-2 times a week. Most posts will be geared toward the intersection between life and congregational ministry. Come along for the ride and let’s learn together!

Review: Esau’s Doom

ObadiahWhen was the last time you studied the Old Testament book of Obadiah? Sure, we’ve read through it in our Bible reading—recognizing that it is one of the shortest books of the Bible weighing in at a whopping 21 verses. Michael Whitworth is able to unpack Obadiah and provide some explanation into its themes that would greatly benefit any Bible student.

Whitworth combines great academic sources with an easy-to-read writing style that conveys the deep truths of this prophetic book in a very engaging way. Not only does Whitworth cite the heavyweights of Old Testament scholarship, but plugs in 93 endnotes in this one alone–just to give you an idea of how well-researched it is.

From an editorial standpoint the book is divided well. Michael breaks Obadiah into four sections (vv. 1-9; 10-14; 15-18; and 19-21). One of the best assets of any of Whitworth’s books is his “talking points” section and he does not disappoint in Esau’s Doom.




Click here for to get a copy for yourself.

Review: Living and Longing for the Lord

ImageLiving and Longing for the Lord is Michael Whitworth’s new commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Michael has already proven to be a talented commentator with his work on Genesis (The Epic of God, 2012) and Daniel (The Derision of Heaven, 2013). Living and Longing strikes a great balance between scholarship and devotional reading; making deeper exploration of the text available for people of varying biblical knowledge. Whether you are a seminary graduate with an M.Div., a high school student, a bible class teacher, or someone who is still trying to figure all of this out Living and Longing for the Lord is written in a way that you will gain much from it.

Michael is able to masterfully weave his humor, personal insights and experiences with New Testament scholars such as: F. F. Bruce, Gordon Fee, Bruce Metzger, Warren Wiersbe, Ben Witherington III,  NT Wright, and many others to present a great work on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

At 186 pages Living and Longing is a concise work that is able to convey the great truths of Paul’s Thessalonian correspondence without being overwhelming. Each chapter concludes with a “Talking Points” section to help solidify and further apply the information in turn making this a great text for use in the bible classroom as well as for personal study. Get your copy today, you’ll be glad you did!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Living and Longing for the Lord:

“The Thessalonians were simply a group of Christians trying to live out the radical implications of their faith in the midst of a hostile environment.” (26)

“God’s work is our greatest cause for gratitude.” (26)

“Given that the American church invests a lot of faith in the U.S. military and the Bill of Rights, Paul’s warning should convict us of so great an idolatry. Trust the government all you want, but know that such trust is utterly misplaced. The only thing that can save us from the greatest disaster the world will ever know is a radical, sincere confession of Jesus’ lordship and preparation for his return.” (97)

“I find joy in a large bag of M&M’s, a hot cup of coffee, or when my wife makes my favorite dessert. In the grander scheme of things, however, none of these delights matter nearly as much as what God has done for us in Christ. Christians can “rejoice always” because “setback” isn’t in God’s vocabulary (cf. Romans 8:31).” (115)


2013 is in the books. What a year it was–bringing lots of blessings, some challenges, and numerous memories.

  • Married the love of my life–Sierra
  • Sierra and I picked up our Labrador Retriever–Scout
  • Gatlinburg Trip with the Campus Ministry
  • 30+ Campus Ministry Devotionals and Events
  • Was blessed to be able to preach 50+ Sermons
  • 5 Graduate Theology Courses Completed
  • Moved from role as a Campus Minister to the Pulpit Minister
  • Achieved my goal of reading over 30 books in a year

With the beginning of a new year is the mixing of reflection and resolution. This year I resolve to write more, read more, and serve more. What did 2013 hold for you? What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

Two Days Worth of Observations

1. I am beyond blessed to work with the Cape Girardeau Church of Christ. The love these folks have for Jesus and for each other is authentic and inspiring. They give me hope for the future.

2. Always sit with someone you don’t normally sit by at potlucks/meals. It’s amazing the wisdom that can gain by learning from a variety of people.

3. Deeply studying and living out the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) will rock your world. If you want to see what it looks like to closely follow Jesus—live out those principles.

4. The wait at the Dr.’s office is incredibly long–but it’s well worth it in the end.

5. Bronchitis and Sinus Infections are miserable.

6. Food cooked over charcoal always tastes better than food cooked over any other medium.

7. Where would we be with out Rhodes 101 Stops? 44 oz Coke Zero’s for $1.25 in a drive-thru–yes please

8. Never, under any circumstances feed pork tenderloin to a puppy on the same day you decide to allow him to eat as much dog food as he wants. —Side note: I have found something that will effectively open up clogged sinuses.

9. A good book and a good cup of coffee can’t be beat.

10. Find a group of people that you can talk life with. This is one of the best forms of “soul care.”

11. Google Hangout is awesome. How did I not find this out earlier?

12. Find time for self-care: Spend some time just being still; read; pour out your thoughts in a journal; call up a friend; fly a kite…do something!

13. Ministry is messy sometimes…often.

14. 90’s Alternative Rock is superb.

Community Builders




“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day the continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

                                                                                    -Acts 2:42-47 (NIV, emphasis added)

Luke paints a picture of a vibrant, living church—one that has active fellowship, hold things in common, and eats together. It’s important to remember that we were not created to go through life alone–in the garden Adam is in perfect communion with God but it’s still “not good” so God creates a companion for him. It’s also important to remember that we were not meant to walk through this faith journey alone. 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:24-25

The Hebrew writer emphasized the reason we meet together is so that we may encourage each other as we walk in the light.

It is imperative that congregations foster a sense of community–after all that is what we are. In his book The Indispensable Guide for Smaller Churches, David R. Ray provides several ways in which we may do just that:

1.Develop ways to help everyone know everyone else’s name and to know something about everyone else.

2. Photo Directory–Name, address, phone number, birthday, etc.

3. Make and utilize permanent name tags–have disposable name tags for guests.

4. Have a church member bulletin board with pictures.

5. Eat together–a lot.

6. Ask each group—women’s ministry, college ministry, men’s ministry, etc. to plan at least one purely social event for the whole congregation in the next year.

7. Take a photo of the whole congregation and make it into postcards for congregational use.

8. Establish a church telephone tree to make communication quick and efficient. 

9. Plan church retreats–“A Day Away,” a time for the entire congregation to disconnect from the world and connect with each other.

10. Don’t juts call people together to meet and do business. Call them together just to play—Volleyball, horseshoes, movies, ballgames, game nights, etc.

11. Create ways to get your people into each other’s homes–meetings, progressive dinners, Bible studies, yard work days (one hour at each house)

12. Develop a church newsletter.

13. Website—If you don’t have one and don’t utilize social media, stop reading the rest of this post and get on it.

–What are your ideas to build community in your congregation?

Semester One—-Check.

It’s been awhile since I last posted. I initially had a goal of posting once a week—I still hope to do that.

I just mailed off my last final of the semester. I’m currently working on a Master of Divinity at Harding School of Theology. For those of you wondering, “What’s that?” The M.Div is widely considered a foundational degree for ministry. At HST the M.Div is 84 hours of coursework and it emphasize both the practical and academic sides of theology and ministry.

This has been my first semester working on an M.Div at HST and it’s been a whirlwind–it’s gone by so fast. I love my alma marter but I have never been pushed so far in an academic environment. There were a lot of late nights, hours upon hours of reading and writing and several early morning trips to Starbucks but I made it.

I have learned so much and I’m so thankful for Dr. Cochran and Dr. Randolph for all of the guidance and time invested this semester. Now it’s time to focus on the summer semester. Advanced Theological Research and Congregational Ministry—-Let’s do this!

Attempting to inspire is what we do. Whether it be trying to persuade someone to cheer for the Arkansas Razorbacks, check out a book based on our recommendation, change a particular view, attempt to look at something from another perspective–we do it all the time.

How does one inspire action? Do we address the “What” before the “Why” or the “Why” before the “What?” and does it make a difference? Simon Sinek makes the case that it does in this awesome TEDTalk from 2009.

Why. How. What.