Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Friday, October 09, 2009

I'm Still Here

It has been a whirlwind few weeks. Everything at Troy has started wonderfully and I am really enjoying it. Life has been super busy with starting at Troy, preparing for the wedding, doing on online grad class, and still getting things settled. However, all of it has been a wonderful blessing. I am wanting to get ahead in the youth ministry, but I feel like all the deadlines are hitting me in the backside. Of course I am used to working like this, it's just that usually it's my own procrastination that gets the deadline kicking my butt. This time its that I really haven't had enough to procrastinate. I operate better when I know the kick is coming I think :). Well, I do work well under deadline pressure, usually.

The difficult part about moving has been not being a regular in my niece's life. Truthfully, she doesn't like me that much right now, but she needs me. She is not in a good place. She is a teen with no boundaries with a mom that is trying to be friend and not parent at all. I'm very concerned for her, but I have done what I can do. She knows my home is always open to her, but please pray for her.

Wedding invitations are going out today! Well all the ones that we have addresses for. There is much to do, but I am so ready for that day to get here. Nancy is still looking into transferring, but there are no good positions open at any of the stores around at the moment. Distance sucks!

She will be in next weekend, and I can't wait. It's going to be a wonderful visit but go by way too quickly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Update and Stuff

it has been a crazy few weeks, but I am now 2 1/2 weeks at Troy and I am loving it! The kids, the families, and the leadership are great. This is a wonderful fit.

As far as the biggest loser competition, last I weighed a couple days ago I was at 318, which is over halfway to my goal. In Scott and I's competition, I won June, July, and overall. Scott won August. I'll have to get an after picture up soon. I finished August at 325, which was better than my summer goal of losing 30. And I feel worlds better, and all the changes I have made are sustainable. I am totally sexier than Matthew McConaughey now.

Nancy was here on Labor Day weekend to help set up the house, and it looks wonderful! Her touch made is more welcoming than I could in a thousand years. Today I got our new queen size bed together. We were given a frame, but it was a little rusted, so I sanded it, primed it, painted it, and today it was dry so now a mattress is on it. Now I just need to wait a few more months for my queen. In the meantime, I do have a roommate. Troy has a part-time worship minister who is going to school full-time. He is getting married in June, and searching for his own place, but it is much too big of a house to be in by myself. He is proving to be a great roommate.

So now I need to get all the books unpacked and get the home and work office set up, and work on the yard a lot (the house is on an acre lot). But all this will be done in time. It's amazing what I get done when I don't have TV to watch. There is still much to do, but much has been done, and I am really enjoying life right now, except for Nancy being in Texas, but I really really hope she can transfer next month.

written to the Cranberries-Wake up and Smell the Coffee (rated a 7)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wedding Details

My trip to Tyler was absolutely wonderful and we were able to get a lot of stuff done. We got our engagement photos, we registered, we figured out what hotel to put everybody in, we figured out all the wedding meals, we went to Nancy's hometown and I met her mom, aunt, and brother and sister-in-law, I got to meet everyone at the church she is attending. Most of all I got to spend some wonderful time with Nancy.

Here are the details:

We are registered at JC Penny and Wal-Mart. Clicking on the links will take you straight to our registries. You are welcome to get something similar (for example, we signed up for a KitchenAid mixer, but if I get a different mixer, I will still be happy), but when it comes to colors, please try to keep the same theme.

If you want to come to the wedding and will need lodging, you can get a discount rate of $59.00/night at the Tyler La Quinta Inn. Phone Number-903-561-2223. Tell them you are with the Spain/Whitt wedding. Please reserve your room before December 15. That price is good for any night December 29-31.

The wedding will be the afternoon of December 31 at Lakeview Church of the Nazarene in Tyler, TX. Hopefully we will get invitations out by early October so you have plenty of time to RSVP.

And now for your viewing pleasure:

I'm Moving to Troy

I am going to be the new youth minister for the Troy Church of Christ in Troy, TN. I will start on Sept. 6. I am completely amazed at how everything turned out. This is one of those rare times where everything worked out exactly like I was hoping it would. My last Sunday at Parkway is going to be August 30. I will be able to move right into the job that I was hoping to have.

I am really excited to be able to work with Troy. They have some great kids, and I know most of them from doing some area-wide stuff. My predecessor Drew is one of my really good friends, and I am so blessed to follow in his shoes. Troy has a solid leadership, and an eldership that is has a solid vision and is community focused, and I'm coming into a healthy ministry. It's going to be a good fit. Plus they are bringing on a part-time worship minister, and I had a really good phone conversation with him yesterday. I think we are going to work well together. It's exciting to see what God will do. I will be able to really be a part of a ministry team, which is going to help me out tremendously. I work better when I am working with others on a common goal.

This is going to be a great place to put into place several things I have learned ministry wise, and its going to be a great place to start my own family. Troy has a parsonage (3 bedroom-2 bath) and its on an acre or two of land with a peach tree and a cherry tree. This is the first time I will be in the same town as the majority of my kids. In Cali they were all spread out, and I have been living in Martin, working in Fulton. Its wonderful both professionally and personally. Martin is 30 minutes away, so I will still be able to be there for Ashley, and my other nieces in Rutherford. In fact, I think being out of the house and being able to have her stay with me for weekends, or for a day, etc. will be great. Plus I will be more intentional in making time for her and using our time well.

Of course I am very excited, but the emotion I'm surprised by is that I am scared to. I'm in good company on that one. Moses and Gideon were scared when they were called to the very thing they were asking for. I realize how inadequate I am for the task, but then nobody is. God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. I'm thinking of all this will require of me, and it is a little scary to start something new. At the same time, I have learned and grown so much over the past few years that I am ready to start much stronger than I have in the past.

I could not have asked for a better situation. The only thing that's gonna make it better is when Nancy will be able to join me here. Hopefully she will be able to transfer in October. I will be able to get her stuff out of storage and bring it to Troy the first week of September, and she will be here Labor Day weekend to help set up our house (I love the sound of that :). I am in a state of amazement right now because this is all beyond what I could ask or imagine.

I'm very thankful for my time at Parkway, and since I will still be close, I will get to stay in contact with everyone here. The only thing I'm concerned about is that the kids will not have a youth minister. They are welcome to anything that Troy does. Parkway has been very good to me, and they are going to give us a wedding shower my last Sunday (unfortunately Nancy will not be able to be here for it).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beginnings and Endings

This was my bulletin article from last week. I will give a trip recap by the end of the week.

This week I am on vacation and visiting my fiancé in Texas. Primarily we are hoping to solidify our wedding plans. We will be registering, visiting family, getting some pictures, and figuring out what our budget for our upcoming wedding (December 31st in Tyler, TX at Lakeview Church of the Nazarene). There is a lot of stress, but also a lot of joy in being able to plan this (honestly, she probably has more stress than I do). We are definitely looking forward to starting our life together. As we are getting everything planned, I started thinking about our wedding, this a lot of preparation for a once in a lifetime event. The wedding is just the beginning. It is our life together that will need to be the testimony of our loving Savior.

It seems in some of the most important things, there is a lot of emphasis put on the beginning. However, the real test is living out the commitments that we make. Lots of things can be started, but it is how they are finished that truly matters. Weddings are a great thing, but it is only the beginning. The testimony can be given by an older couple that has lived out “till death do you part.” Those that have had the misfortune and pain of a broken marriage can tell you the difficulty of picking up the pieces from a broken covenant and feeling like they didn’t reach the finish line. Baptisms are celebrated, and should be, but it is a life of faithful living that really matters. The baptism is only the beginning. The end of a covenant fulfilled usually does not carry the same celebration as the beginning. There are many who start the race, but not everyone finishes.

In the world of sports there is much made of the beginning of the season. But at the end there is only one team left standing. The others, for all the celebration and hopes, come up short of the goal. It is not in how a team starts, but how they finish that they are known and remembered for.

Paul understood this when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” A good marriage is not made by a good wedding, but by a faithfulness to God and each other. A good Christian is not made by the baptism, but by a life characterized by faith, hope, and love.

Paul is a testimony to a life of faith lived well. Later as he writes what is likely his last letter we have in Scripture, he tells Timothy “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).” While Paul always looked to his conversion on the road to Damascus, it is this statement that shows he kept the covenant.

I am looking forward to our wedding and the celebration of love in Christ we have. But it is only the beginning. I must look ahead to learn how to be the best husband and father I can be. I want to be able to live in such a way that at the end of my life, I can say those same words of Paul and be able to hear those words from Jesus I so long to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” It is the ending that really matters.


One of the things closest to God’s heart is justice. Justice is a theme running throughout the Mosaic law, the prophets, Jesus’ own ministry, and “being justified” is a major theme in Paul’s writings. Something so important and so close to the heart of God needs to be emphasized and understood. As I started to look at how often justice, mercy, and righteousness are together in Scripture, it made me realize that these work together, they are not opposites.

Our American idea of justice is more influenced by our court system than by Scripture. We think of justice as synonymous with punishment. We mess up, we pay the price, and justice is accomplished. There are several examples in Scripture where God brings justice by punishment, both individual and entire nations. But this is only a way of accomplishing justice, it is not the same as justice. God’s idea of justice has much more to do with protecting the innocent.

The best definition I have heard of justice is “justice is to make things right.” To be justified is to be brought into a right relationship with God. God chose to do this not by punishing us, but by sending Himself in the flesh to become our sacrifice. Punishment happened, but our justice is accomplished by God’s mercy and grace.

I have heard many conversations about God having to balance his mercy and justice, or His love and holiness. This is a bunch of nonsense. God is not divided and He has to balance nothing. His justice and mercy work together. He is holy because He loves and He loves because He is holy. He can only be wrathful because He loves so much. Because He loves so much He wants justice, and He will often use mercy to accomplish it.

How is justice accomplished? It can be through punishment, but more often it is through mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love. Justice is accomplished when a relationship that has been destroyed is rebuilt. It takes whatever was wrong and makes it right.

I have noticed that most people want “justice” for the one who hurt them, but when they are the responsible party, they want “mercy.” What if we made decisions that accomplished both?

Making things right has nothing to do with letting people off the hook and ignoring wrong. That is neither justice nor mercy. If wrongdoing and sin is not acknowledged, than there is no way to make a relationship right. Being dismissive and rationalizing sin is far from the heart of God. Justice demands that wrong is dealt with. What mercy does is allows the one wrong to be restored a stronger person who has learned from what they have done.

As a church, we must be about justice. We need to be in the work of restoring what was wrong. We don’t punish wrong (that is the Lord’s job alone) but we work to redeem it (the greatest work our Lord does, and He invites us to share in it). It is not easy, or comfortable, but it is absolutely right. To ignore justice in our world is to ignore and make light of the very heart of God. We have been justified by grace. May we spread that message.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

-written to "Black Like Sunday" by King's X

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wedding Planning

I am on vacation this week in Tyler, TX. I got here yesterday and will be returning to Tennessee this next Thursday. I will be in Abilene on Thursday and Friday. Most of this week will be wedding planning.

The big day will be December 31 in Tyler at Lakeview Church of the Nazarene. Today I shopped around for hotel rooms, which was okay but it did tire me out. It was surprising to me what hotels discounted and which were priced ridiculously. I got a better rate with some of the nicer hotels. Of course, we've still got to figure out how many rooms and what which ones we are paying for and all that. Luckily, New Years is a slow hotel time in Tyler, so the holiday won't create a problem with reservations or pricing. Tomorrow we will get some engagement photos done and hopefully get all our registering done. We will be going to Wal-Mart and JC Penny. Saturday Nancy and I will go to Waurika, OK, her home town, and meet with some of her family. The other thing I really want to get done this week is find where we will do our tux rental.

I am really not stressed at all about wedding plans, but Nancy is. We talked yesterday about decorations with her sister, Jackie, and my response on that was if Nancy is happy, than I am happy. To me it is about celebrating our love with the Lord, each other, and our family and friends. If the relationships are there, than I am thrilled.

In fact we have a different definition of a "big" wedding. To me it means super fancy and expensive. To Nancy it means more than 20 people. By her definition it will be a big wedding, but mine it won't be.

If you are in Abilene, I hope to see you on my whirlwind trip.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Camp Week

Sunday will start my favorite part of the summer. I absolutely love camp. It was at a camp in Cisco, Texas in 1993 where I first experienced the love of Christ in a real and powerful way. That week I knew for the first time in my life without a doubt that He loved me and that I had a role in His kingdom. It changed my life forever. In 1994 I went to the same camp session but at a different campground. It was Camp Pettijohn in Oklahoma. That summer I met this good friend named Nancy. Fifteen years later we are engaged. When they say you may meet your future spouse, they are telling the truth. I went to Pettijohn every summer because of the wonderful friends I had made. I was challenged and grew each year. Even though I lived in Tennessee, several of us from the Martin congregation found a way to go to camp in Oklahoma. When I was 17, I drove myself and my friend J.R. My mom let me because she knew how good it was for me and that was the only way I was gonna get there.
In California I was able to be a part of Sierra Bible Camp. It was a wonderful place to be, with God’s people surrounded by God’s beautiful mountains. The last summer I was there, when my nieces Ashley and Tara were able to join us, it even snowed on us for 30 minutes. That was a rare thing for a stormy cold front to move through in June. Usually it was in the 80s for camp if you were wondering. We were only 6,000 ft. up. But even that cold week hearts were warmed by the love Christ.
Now I am looking forward to Western Kentucky Youth Camp. Again, I am privileged to be a part of a great camp session. The directors and staff do a terrific job conducting a spiritually challenging and uplifting week filled with fun and faith building. For a week I have no worries, no concerns, and I just get to enjoy learning about Christ and hanging out with kids. I am dead tired at the end of the week, but it is completely worth it.
Camp is one of the most important faith building events that teens experience. It helped shape my faith in profound ways, and I have some of the best memories of my life from my camp experiences. I never remember the heat, or the fatigue, or the late nights trying to get kids to stop talking and sleep (actually, I sleep pretty well through that). Just ask teens from my youth groups about camp and they will have all kinds of funny, amusing, and uplifting stories. This year will be sentimental because it may be my last camp with the Parkway kids, and also because Nancy is going to be a counselor, and I haven’t been able to be at camp with her since our senior year of high school.
Please be in prayer for camp this week. Pray that God will move in our hearts and change us deeply and profoundly. Pray that it will be spiritually dangerous, because it will bring us to grow and move and take faith risks.

Yea, Camp!

The Exodus Pt. 4

from the Demotivational Poster collection at

Idolatry can be very subtle. Often times it is not putting something on the throne instead of the Lord, but it is finding a throne for other “important” things and asking God to share space. Israel almost never stopped serving Yahweh. Their problem was they served Yahweh, and Baal, and Asherah, and wealth, etc. Human nature wants to have something that is tangible, and is able to be seen. It is easier to believe in what we see, and more so it is easier to have some ounce of control over what is physical. Idolatry is putting ourselves in a position where we feel like we can have power over God. But there is nothing we see that will last. True reality is in the unseen, in the things that will survive long after this world has passed away. God does not want idols in anyone or anything’s likeness, not even Himself.

Exodus 32 illustrates this human desire powerfully. Moses has been up on Mount Sinai for quite awhile and the people are getting restless. It is a matter of weeks since the people agreed to enter into covenant with God, and that they would have no gods before Him, or make any idols. They just came out of Egypt, a powerful nation that had a god for everything. The people wanted gods that would go before them. They wanted something they could see, and understand, and probably have a sense of control. What they have seen is a God who is invisible, wonderful, powerful, unpredictable, holy, and probably just too big for their liking. They were afraid. Who is afraid of an idol?

Aaron acquiesces without much of a fight. However, Aaron is not going to abandon Yahweh, so he plays politician and gives the people what they want while proclaiming this new calf as God. He’s trying to please the people and not get in too much trouble with God. Then there is the prototypical politician answer when confronted by Moses.
“So I told them, 'Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.' Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!" (Ex. 32:24)
. He will not take responsibility for his place this sin, even blaming his actions on an uncontrolled miracle. Aaron is perhaps the worst in this whole scenario because he will not take sides. He is leading to please everybody instead standing for what he knows is right.
Idolatry is alive and well. In our lives, we can so quickly start trying to ask God to share space. We can use religion as a means to control instead of to serve. We can try to tame God and tell Him what He does and doesn’t do. God will not be contained. He will not share space. He will not be tamed. C.S. Lewis sums it up brilliantly in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe talking about Aslan,
“’Is he—quite safe?’…’Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver ‘Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.’"