Ten Years After

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Yesterday was my Jesus birthday.  One of my friends asked me if that was the day I was baptized.  Another asked if it was the day I started going to church.  And as much as I do remember each of those events, they don’t qualify as a birthday celebration!  My Jesus birthday is the day I gave my life to Jesus!  It’s the day I got down on my knees, put my hands up in the air and said, “I give up.”  It’s the day I realized that I was all messed up and I needed help.  It’s the day I realized I couldn’t do this crazy life thing on my own any longer.  It’s the day everything changed.

On September 21, 2000, I gave my life to Jesus and nothing has been the same since.

I’ve learned a few things in the last ten years:

  1. Jesus isn’t about religion – rules or regulations.  Jesus is all about relationship.  He wants to be your friend.
  2. Relationship involves communication – if you do all the talking, you are not communicating.  It’s a two way street.
  3. When you communicate with Jesus, if you ask him a question, be quiet and listen for his answer, he will give it to you.
  4. When you ask a question, be prepared for an answer you may not want, but definitely need.
  5.  The Bible is the most interesting book I’ve ever read (and I’ve read thousands). 
  6. The Bible comes alive and words leap out of the pages, right into your heart.  Really … I’m not making this up.  There is a Greek word for it … but you don’t have to know it to experience this.
  7. When you fall down, get back up.
  8. When you fall down, and can’t get back up, just sit still for a bit, until you can get back up.
  9. If you can’t get up, ask Jesus to pick you up.  He’ll carry you till you get your strength back.
  10.  You are not competing with anyone, don’t compare yourself with others.  God loves you just the way you are.  Really.  I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

 There is more … lot’s more.  But it all started with a simple decision to say YES to Jesus.  I didn’t have to clean up my act.  I didn’t have to read the Bible through first.  I didn’t have to become perfect.  I didn’t have to wait for just the right time. I just gave my messed up life to him and he did the rest. 

I am so thankful for that decision … I can’t wait to see what God is going to do next!

Jesus, thank you for loving me … first.  Thank you for changing me, from the inside out.  And thank you for making the last ten years of my life the most amazing.  I am so looking forward to what’s ahead … WITH YOU!

I love you Jesus!
   In Your Name I Pray,

God Bless You!


The Choices You Make Today…
Will Affect Your Tomorrow.

Leadership Attribute – #19

Servanthood:  To Get Ahead, Put Others First

You’ve got to love your people more than your position.
– John C. Maxwell

When you think of servanthood, do you envision it as an activity performed by relatively low-skilled people at the bottom of the positional totem pole?  If you do, you have the wrong impression.  Servanthood is not about position or skill. It’s about attitude.  You have undoubtedly met people in service position who have poor attitudes toward servanthood:  the rude worker at the government agency, the waiter who can’t be bothered with taking your order, the store clerk who talks on the phone with a friend instead of helping you. 

Just as you can sense when a worker doesn’t want to help people, you can just as easily detect whether a leader has a servant’s heart.  And the truth is that the best leaders desire to serve others, not themselves.  What does it mean to embody the quality of servanthood?  A true servant leader:

  • Puts Others Ahead of His Own Agenda – The first mark of servanthood is the ability to put others ahead of yourself and your personal desires.  It is more than being willing to put your agenda on hold.  It means intentionally being aware of your people’s needs, available to help them, and able to accept their desires as important.
  • Possesses the Confidence to Serve – The real heart of servanthood is security.  Show me someone who thinks he is too important to serve, and I’ll show you someone who is basically insecure. How we treat others is really a reflection of how we think about ourselves.  Only secure leaders give power to others.  It’s also true that only secure leaders exhibit servanthood.
  • Initiates Service to Others – Just about anyone will serve if compelled to do so.  And some will serve in a crisis.  But you can really see the heart of someone who initiates service to others.  Great leaders see the need, seize the opportunity, and serve without expecting anything in return.
  • Is Not Position–Conscious – Servant leaders don’t focus on rank or position.  They are one person trying to help another.  If anything, being a leaders gives them a greater sense of obligation to serve.
  • Serves Out of Love – Servanthood is not motivated by manipulation or self-promotion.  It is fueled by love.  In the end, the extent of your influences depends on the depth of your concern for others.  That’s why it’s so important for leaders to be willing to serve.


Where is your heart when it comes to serving others?  Do you desire to become a leader for the perks and benefits?  Or are you motivated by a desire to help others?  If you really want to become the kind of leader that people want to follow, you will have to settle the issue of servanthood.  If your attitude is to be served rather than to serve, you may be headed for trouble.  If this is an issue in your life, then heed this advice:

  •  Stop lording over people, and start listening to them.
  •  Stop role-playing for advancement, and start risking for others’ benefit.
  • Stop seeking your own way, and start serving others.

It is true that those who would be great must be like the least and the servant of all.

Action Steps

To improve your servanthood, do the following:

  • Perform small acts – When was the last time you performed small acts of kindness for others?  Start with those closest to you:  your spouse, children, parents.  Find ways today to do small things that show others you care.
  • Learn to walk slowly through the crowd – One of the greatest lessons I learned as a young leader came from my father.  I call it walking slowly through the crowd.  The next time you attend a function with a number of clients, colleagues, or employees, make it your goal to connect with others by circulating among them and talking to people.  Focus on each person you meet.  Learn his name if you don’t know it already.  Make your agenda getting to know each person’s needs, wants, and desires.  Then later when you go home, make a note to yourself to do something beneficial for half a dozen of those people.
  • Move into action  –  If an attitude of servanthood is conspicuously absent from your life, the best way to change it is to start serving.  Begin serving with your body, and your heart will eventually catch up.  Sign up to serve others for six months at your church, a community agency, or a volunteer organization.  If your attitude still isn’t good at the end of your term, do it again.  Keep at it until your heart changes.

Take Away

Albert Schweitzer wisely stated, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know:  The ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  If you want to lead on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest.

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28)

Chelsey’s Park Dedication

On Sunday, September 12, 2010, we held a service to open and dedicate Chelsey’s Park.  The park is in memory of Chelsey Murphy, who was hit by a car and died on March 14, 2010.  She was nineteen years old when she passed away and the park is in her memory.  The park project was organized by Kris Murphy, Chelsey’s mother as well as Mitch Grandy, a member of Boy Scout Troop 255, for his Eagle Scout Project.  It was a special time as we remembered Chelsey and her love for children.

Leadership Attribute #18

Self – Discipline:  The First Person You Lead Is You

The first and best victory is to conquer self.
– Plato, Philosopher

No one achieves and or sustains success without self-discipline.  And no matter how gifted a leader is, his gifts will never reach their maximum potential without the application of self-discipline.  It positions a leader to go to the highest level and is a key to leadership that lasts.  If you want to become a leader for whom self-discipline is an asset, follow these action points:

  •  Develop and Follow Your Priorities – Anyone who does what he must only when he is in the mood or when it’s convenient isn’t going to be successful.  Nor will people respect and follow him.  If you determine what’s really a priority, and release yourself from everything else, it’s a lot easier to follow through on what’s important.  And that’s the essence of self-discipline.
  •  Make a Disciplined Lifestyle Your Goal – To be successful, self-discipline cannot be a one-time event, it has to be a lifestyle.  One of the best ways to do that is to develop systems and routine, especially in areas crucial to your long-term growth and success. 
  • Challenge Your Excuses – To develop a lifestyle of discipline, one of your first tasks must be to challenge and eliminate any tendency to make excuses.  If you have several reasons why you can’t be self-disciplined, realize that they are really just a bunch of excuses – all of which need to be challenged if you want to go to the next level as a leader.
  • Remove Rewards Until The Job Is Done – Any business or industry that pays equal rewards to its goof-offs and its eager-beavers sooner or later will find itself with more goof-offs than eager-beavers.  If you lack self-discipline, you may be in the habit of having dessert before eating your vegetables. 
  • Stay Focused on Results – Anytime you concentrate on the difficulty of the work instead of its results or rewards, you’re likely to become discouraged.  Dwell on it too long, and you’ll develop self-pity instead of self-thinking of doing what’s convenient instead of paying the price, change your focus.  Count the benefits of doing what’s right, and then dive in.


Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates.  There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.  If you know you have talent, and you’ve seen a lot of motion-but little concrete results- you may lace self-discipline. 

Look at last week’s schedule.  How much of your time did you devote to regular, disciplined activities?  Did you do anything to grow and improve yourself professionally?  Did you engage in activities promoting good health?  Did you dedicate part of your income to savings or investments?  If you’ve been putting off those things, telling yourself that you’ll do them later, you may need to work on your self-discipline.

Action Steps

To improve your self-discipline, do the following:

  • Sort out your priorities – Think about which two or three areas of your life are most important to you.  Write them down, along with the disciplines that you must develop to keep growing and improving in those areas.  Develop a plan to make the disciplines a daily or weekly part of your life.
  • List the reasons – Take the time to write out the benefits of practicing the disciplines you’ve just listed.  Then post the benefits someplace where you will see them daily.  On the days when you don’t want to follow through, reread your list.
  • Get rid of excuses – Write down every reason why you might not be able to follow through with your disciplines.  Read through them.  You need to dismiss them as the excuses they are.  Even if a reason seems legitimate, find a solution to overcome it.  Don’t leave yourself any reasons to quit.  Remember, only in the moment of discipline do you have the power to achieve your dreams. 


A nursery in Canada displays this sign on its wall:  “The best time to plant a tree is twenty-five years ago … The second best time is today.”  Plant a tree of self-discipline in your life today.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.  (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Labor Day Picnic and Baptism

On Sunday, September 5, 2010, we celebrated the Labor Day Weekend with a picnic at Loudermilk Park and a Beach Baptism in the Gulf of Mexico.  Probably seventy-five people showed up for the picnic and twenty celebrated their walk with Jesus by being baptized.  It was a special day for all!

If Tomorrow Never Comes

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9

Garth Brooks sang a song a few years ago, If Tomorrow Never Comes.  It’s about letting the people that you love know that you love them before it’s too late, so that we don’t live with regrets in our lives over what might have been?   In the last six month I have attended three funerals.  The first was for the nineteen year old daughter of a friend who got hit by a car while crossing the street.  The second was for my cousin, who was my age, and he went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up the next morning.  Last week was the funeral of a twenty-four year old son of a friend who was just going to a party one night and in the process, got jumped by some guys and lost his life. 

Not one of these people knew that tomorrow would not come for them. They never got a chance to say good bye to the people they loved. 

Before I knew Jesus, I was always thinking that I’d take care of my spiritual life tomorrow. I knew that something was missing in my life, I knew that there had to be more to God than just a bunch of rules and regulations of what to do or what not to do, but I kept putting off finding out what He was all about.  If I would have died during that time, I would never have known His love for me.  I would not have experienced true freedom in my life.  And I would have spent eternity without being in His presence. 

I want to take the opportunity today to tell you that God loves you. He sent his son, Jesus, to die on a cross for you, so that you could live forever with Him.  He is not about rules, He is all about relationship.  He wants to spend eternity with you …  please don’t wait till tomorrow to get to know Him.

Father, thank you for never giving up on me.  All those years that I ignored you, you were always there, protecting and pursuing.  Thank you for bring peace into my life that is better than any artificial high the world has to offer, and for giving me true freedom, in my soul.  And thank you Jesus for loving me, first.

I love you Jesus!
   In Your Name I Pray,

God Bless You!


The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!

Attributes of Leadership – #17

Security:  Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity

You can’t lead people if you need people.
– John C. Maxwell

All great leaders must have no doubts about themselves or their beliefs.  They cannot be always second guessing their decisions.  No one can live on a level inconsistent with the way they see themselves.  If someone sees himself as a loser, he finds a way to lose.  Anytime his success surpasses his security, the result is self-destruction.  Insecure leaders are dangerous – to themselves, their followers, and the organization they lead – because a leadership position amplifies personal flaws.  Whatever negative baggage you have in life only gets more difficult to bear when you’re trying to lead others.

Insecure leaders have several common traits:

  • They Don’t Provide Security for Others – An old saying states, “You cannot give what you do not have.” Just as people without skill cannot impart skill to others, people without security cannot make others feel secure.  And for a person to become an effective leader, the kind that others want to follow, he needs to make his followers feel good about themselves.
  • They Take More From People Than They Give – Insecure people are on a continual quest for validation, acknowledgment, and love.  Because of that, their focus is on finding security, not instilling it in others.  They are primarily takers rather than givers, and takers do not make good leaders.
  • They Continually Limit Their Best People – Show me an insecure leader, and I’ll show you someone who cannot genuinely celebrate his people’s victories.  He might even prevent them from realizing any victories.  Or he might take credit personally for the best work of his team.  Only secure leaders give power to others.  But an insecure leader hoards power.  In fact, the better his people are, the more threatened he feels – and the harder he will work to limit their success and recognition.
  • They Continually Limit The Organization – When followers are undermined and receive no recognition, they become discouraged and eventually stop performing at their potential.  And when that happens, the entire organization suffers. 

In contrast, secure leaders are able to believe in others because they believe in themselves.  They aren’t arrogant; they know their own strengths and weaknesses and respect themselves.  When their people perform well, they don’t feel threatened.  They go out of their way to bring the best people together and then build them up so that they will perform at the highest level.  And when a secure leader’s team succeeds, it brings him great joy.  He sees that as the highest compliment he can receive for his leadership ability.

How well do you understand and respect yourself?  Do you know your strengths and feel good about them?  Have you recognized your weaknesses and accepted the ones you can’t change?  When a person realizes that he is created with a particular personality type and has unique gifts, he is better able to appreciate the strengths and successes of others.
How secure are you as a leader?  When a follower has a great idea, do you support it or suppress it?  Do you celebrate your people’s victories?  When your team succeeds, do you give the members credit?  If not, you may be dealing with insecurity, and it could be limiting you, your team, and your organization.

Action Steps

To improve your security, do the following:

  • Know yourself – If you are the kind of person who is not naturally self-aware, take time to learn about yourself.  Take a personality test, such as the ones created by Myers-Briggs or Florence Littaurer.  Ask several people who know you well to name your three greatest talents and your three greatest weaknesses.  Don’t defend yourself when you hear their answers; gather the information and then reflect on it.
  • Give away credit – You may not believe that you can succeed if others receive the praise for the job your team is doing.  Try it.  If you assist others and acknowledge their contributions, you will help their careers, lift their morale, and improve the organization.  And it will make you look like an effective leader.
  • Get some help – If you cannot overcome feelings of insecurity on your own, seek professional help.  Get to the root of your problems with the assistance of a good counselor, not only for your own benefit but also for that of your people. 

Take Away

Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.  Don’t let insecurity prevent you from reaching your potential.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1, 39)

August Living Stone – Jan Fiacable

Jan Fiacable  – August  2010 – Tree of Life Living Stone

When  she went through the Spiritual Gifts Class, Jan Fiacable found out her gift is giving.  And give she does.  Jan works in the nursery area with the toddlers, enjoying their antics and their spirits.  She also volunteers her time to take care of the book keeping here at the church. 

Jan moved to Naples a few years back, with her husband, Mark.  They live on Marco Island, and when she’s not volunteering her time, you can usually find her whipping through the currents on a jet ski or enjoying a boat ride through the Ten Thousand Islands. 

Thank you Jan for giving of yourself to serve God at The Tree.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
   I Peter 2:4,5