Drenched…

This past week I was able to join a large group of guys from New Life along with my three boys for a campout and float trip.

We slept in tents Friday night and after a short night of sleep, the boys were up at the crack of dawn, running around and stoking the fire, we ate some breakfast, guzzled some coffee and settled in for our Saturday morning devotional. We were fortunate to be under a dense covering of trees and so even though it rained, we never got too wet.

After several minutes of rain, it cleared up, the sun came out and we loaded in the vans to travel to the starting point for our six-mile float down the river.

All together we had sixteen canoes with two to three people per canoe and a kayak traveling down the river.
The first major obstacle came when my canoeing partner, middle son and I entered a rapids and part of our canoe became stuck on a submerged log…within seconds, we capsized along with the coolers for lunch…and almost immediately, I noticed that my phone was gone.

I yelled out to some guys up ahead and thirty to forty yards down the river they rescued our submerged canoe and would you believe it…floating with it was my phone neatly tucked into two zip lock bags.

Once our entire crew made it to this point, we took off again on our float down the river. After more than a half hour of nature at its best, we began to notice some black clouds rolling in.

Within minutes, it became eerily dark, and without saying a word, everyone knew something was up.

The storm came in with incredible power, the rain gushed so hard that we could barely see ahead of the canoe, trees started to creek and we knew we were on the verge of an emergency.

Without warning a straight-line wind came across the river and blew our canoe over. Fortunately, we safely waded over to solid ground. One by one, canoes pulled into the shore. Everyone was shivering cold…especially the young boys. Several guys shared coats and sweatshirts while we waited out the torrential downpour.

For several minutes, the storm did not let up at all and there were moments when I caught myself wondering if we were in serious danger. I worried that we would be stuck in this place all day without help. I longed for warmth and dry clothes which made our current situation that much more difficult to endure.

After several more minutes, the storm finally let up, we were reunited with everyone, and we paddled as fast as we could to complete the float trip before anything else dangerous happened. As we arrived at our pickup point, the sun came out and shortly thereafter, we finally made it back to camp where we put on dry clothes and talked about the danger we had just survived.

There was a specific moment while huddling with two of my boys in the rain, that I began to doubt if we would ever be warm and dry again. I thought back to other difficult situations I had experienced in my life and remembered that even the direst circumstances of my life eventually ended and conditions improved.

This Sunday, I look forward to sharing from 1 Peter 5:10-11. Peter is writing to encourage his brothers and sisters in Christ who had been suffering. In our verses for Sunday, Peter promises the first century Christians that after they had suffered for a “little while,” God, himself will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish them.

This is good news for anyone…I hope you have a great weekend and I hope to see you Sunday at 9:00 or 10:45 am.

Troy

 

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Mom is…

Sixteen and a half years ago, Leigh-Ann and I experienced the most amazing moment when our first daughter, Alexa-Marie was born. I will never forget the anxious anticipation that led up to the moment when she came into this world, crying and gunky.

Not much has changed….just kidding :).

I must say that it is impossible for me to express the overwhelming joy that I felt meeting her for the first time. And to be honest, that moment has been just as powerful for each of our children, biological or adopted.

Having a baby and raising children are two very different responsibilities. Obviously, there is pain (trust me, it was hard supporting Leigh-Ann while she was in labor :)) and joy during the stages of life, however raising children is something that demands full attention for the long haul.

And this is one reason why I am incredibly grateful for the two mothers in my life, my wife, and my mom.

mom and grandma

My mom has always been my number one fan, whether it was on the wrestling mat, sports field or family game night, she has faithfully cheered me on. Mom instilled in me a love for Jesus and a commitment to doing the right thing. And even though she spoke much into my life, she has always walked the walk and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

As I consider my wife and the mother of our children, I am so blessed to have married Leigh-Ann who also loves Jesus and walks the walk. As much as I would like to think I have influenced my children, Leigh-Ann tirelessly speaks truth into them, leads by example and passionately fights for justice.

Over the past nearly nineteen years of marriage I am amazed as I have watched Leigh-Ann live out her calling as a mother. She was made to raise children…and she is top-shelf. She can whip up a meal or help with a school project and organize an entire household with ease. She can dig deep conversations out of our kids like an award-winning therapist and also make the entire family double over in laughter from her quick wit.

Each of these incredible traits is backed by one overarching passion…and that is her faith. And beyond her many God-given skills, I believe her love for Jesus will have the greatest impact on our family. I know this has been the reality for my own mom.

Well, this Sunday is Mother’s Day and I am super excited to look closely at the lives of a mother and a grandmother in the Bible, Lois and Eunice. These gals did not have an easy life, however, in spite of their own hurdles, they raised Timothy who became best friends with the Apostle Paul. And believe it or not, they have an incredibly powerful piece of advice for parents that want to raise successful children…always remain faithful to the Scriptures.

I look forward to sharing more from 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and also sharing in the celebration of some new babies at New Life during our baby dedication. Rumor also has it that there will be a video from KidCity. I hope to see you soon.

Troy

Tornado Sirens…

storms downtown kc

On Wednesday evening shortly after we put the kids to bed, we heard the tornado sirens….and eventually, everyone ended up in the basement. When it comes to tornado warnings, our family is split down the middle. Half of us move directly to the safest area immediately while the other half is pretty laid back.

A few days ago there were no exceptions. Two of the kids and one of the adults (I’ll let you guess who) moved downstairs immediately complete with shoes just in case we had to make a run for it. The other half of the family, begrudgingly meandered downstairs, a bit frustrated that a natural disaster could disrupt our plans for the evening.

While a part of our family talked about scary possibilities, the others wanted to skip the exercise altogether.

In spite of our various personalities, I imagine that if in fact any one of us had ever experienced a tornado, we would be forever impacted. I spoke with a few people who have actually survived a serious tornado and they would most definitely be in the group that takes natural disasters seriously. They would move swiftly to the safest possible area.

The reason is they have watched the power of a tornado firsthand. They have experienced roofs being taken off of houses with unbelievable power.

They would be the first to tell you that no person in the world is a match for the power in a tornado.

This Sunday, Pastor James is going to share a sermon from 1 Peter 5:5 on the topic of humility. Similar to those who have experienced a tornado, those of us who have experienced God working in our lives and the lives of others are naturally humbled by His power.

We make the choice to respect God’s power as superior to our own strength and this is exactly where we are called to live. Our decisions are no longer filtered through our own greatest desires, but rather through the will of God. So, when it comes to tornadoes, it is always best to find shelter immediately and when it comes to the power of God, it is also best to drop to our knees and humbly find shelter under His authority.

I am thankful there were no serious injuries reported as a result of the tornado and pray for continued safety. I also look forward to hearing more about God’s work in our lives to keep us humble before Him. There is much more to discuss with regard to humility, and if you can attend New Life on Sunday at either 9:00 or 10:45 am I would love to see you then.

Have a great weekend,

Troy

Leadership…

Great Grandma

This past week we celebrated the life of my 95-year-old grandmother. Her passing provided an opportunity for me to reflect on many memories.

One of my favorites happened at least thirty years ago in Eagle Grove, IA. Mom, Dad, and four kids squeezed into the family car for the four-hour drive. This gave us plenty of time to plan out our grand entrance.

We would sneak in the back door, tiptoe up the stairs and then SURPRISE grandma in the kitchen. When we arrived, the back door was open. Without a peep, we made it into the basement and paused for a moment to relish the completion of stage one.

Our oldest sibling and fearless leader moved ahead with military-like skills peering around the corners and starting up the steps. In the distance, we could hear the sink running and the sound of cupboard doors closing.

Feeling like we were going to burst, we held it in and forged ahead. Upon arrival to the main floor, we flattened ourselves up against the wall and then….at an ideal moment…emerged in the kitchen to see Grandma, facing away from us with a pot in one hand and a towel in the other.

SURPRISE!!!!

Grandma let out a howl and let go of the pot.

Mission accomplished!

Grandma loved seeing her grandkids. And not just our immediate family who had surprised her, grandma loved each of her grandkids. She was always kind and loving and generous to anyone who crossed her path.

As a result, over the course of her lifetime, she cared for and impacted hundreds of people. I don’t think she ever spoke harshly or attempted to manipulate. However, for the time I knew her, she not only loved people of all ages and backgrounds, she literally influenced them to be better followers of Jesus.

This Sunday, we return to our study of First Peter with a sermon from 1 Peter 5:1-4 on the topic of leadership. As leaders, we are told to guard, guide and provide like a good shepherd…and really, like my grandmother. I look forward to sharing much more on the topic of leadership. I hope to see you at either 9:00 or 10:45 am on Sunday.

Have a great day,

Troy

Run Troy, Run…

I am a runner.
Running pic email1

And actually a pretty sorry one at that…

In a good week, I will get out 1-2x per week. Here is what this looks like…I will receive a text from a friend and running partner the night before. I will wait for a few hours to make sure there isn’t a good reason to decline. I will set my alarm for zero dark thirty and go to bed mentally preparing myself for what lies ahead.

My alarm will shake me out of my sleep and I will roll out of bed, put on some running clothes, fill my water bottle and walk out the door to meet for the run.

I will stretch and complain about the fact that I don’t run enough. Then we will take off…

During mile number one my body is angry with me…similar to how you feel when a mosquito is buzzing in your ear. My joints will be testy and my lungs will tighten up.

By mile number two, my body starts to warm up and get used to the idea that I am pushing it to move far outside of its comfort zone.

Heading into mile number three, my mind begins to provide reasons to stop…just for a little while…maybe even walk a few blocks.

I resist.

The battle rages on…this past Wednesday I was faced with plenty of options. My knees hurt, my lungs were about to burst, my muscles were sore and my legs felt like lead weights.

The only way to continue on was to envision the end of the run. I kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other and shortly, I would reach the end.

I did finally push my out of shape body to the end and for the rest of the day, felt great about finishing.

My lungs felt better, my muscles were sore in a good way and mentally I would say I was more alert. If you are a runner you might relate…

This Sunday, we are going to talk about a race from Hebrews 12:1-2. Simply stated, the writer of Hebrews compares our Christian life to a race that we must run.

Within our Scripture, we are given three motivations to keep running. So, if you have been feeling pain or have questioned your faith recently, I think this will be a great Sunday to come to church. You are welcome at either 9:00 am or 10:45 am.

Hope to see you soon,

Troy

Hope…

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join a few friends and attend a luncheon for pastors introducing Faith and Family Day at the K for 2018. There were a few hundred pastors who met at Kauffman Stadium for some good food and instructions about the event.

However, the reason I have faithfully attended this luncheon for the past several years is Dayton Moore, the GM for the KC Royals makes an appearance to talk about Faith and Family Day.
Dayton Moore
This is significant for several reasons. Dayton Moore has an incredibly strong and courageous faith in God. Listening to him share about some of the ways he has had to practice his faith was inspiring to say the least.

Dayton Moore is also an incredible leader. He has a clear vision for the Baseball team and is confident in the path he has chosen to fulfill the vision.

But I think the best part of the luncheon is hearing people ask him questions about anything ranging from specific ways he shares his faith to questions about the team. Someone even asked if we were planning to keep Moose or trade him.

He told us not to tell….J/K.

There is something exciting about the beginning of the baseball season. Every Major League Baseball team will have 168 regular season games and then the top ten will make the playoffs.

Each team begins with the hope that they will be the next World Series Champion. Imagine what it would be like if you could look ahead and know that your team was going to win. Imagine how it would affect those days when you lose a close game in the final innings. It would be painful, but you would still have confidence that in spite of the loss you would still win the season.

The death and resurrection provide us hope and confidence that in the end, those who are followers of Jesus will emerge victoriously. Jesus has conquered death and shares the victory with each of His followers.

This Sunday, Pastor James will continue our sermon series, “The Cross :: God’s Best with a message from Ephesians 2:11-22 about the fact that beyond the cross, we have been given hope.

The hope we have been given can make the worst days manageable and the greatest tragedies acceptable.

We have so much to celebrate, I hope to see you on Sunday at New Life CityChurch at 9:00 or 10:45 am.

And, Go Royals!
Troy

Forgiveness…

Three boys

A few days ago I had a “come to Jesus” talk with my boys. I was not happy with the trash they were leaving in the back seat of my car.

Now, this was not the first conversation. Unfortunately, it seems that nearly every time we take a trip, I have to remind them to clean up their mess.

So, a few days ago, as I was gathering my things, and I noticed the growing amount of trash, I began to formulate a plan.

At first, the only person I could get to admit fault was, “not me.” However, after using some interrogation skills, each boy admitted fault. I explained that my expectation from here on was that NOTHING is to be left in the back seat. No wrappers, no jackets, no water bottles…NOTHING.

After going into detail ad nauseum, I finally told them that if they leave anything in my car it will cost them $10 per piece.

How’s that for parenting skill?

Well, I know my boys, and there is a zero percent chance that they will leave the backseat spotless.

Which means I will either make a lot of money charging them $10 per piece or I will need to teach them about forgiveness.

Speaking of forgiveness, this Sunday we continue our sermon series, “Beyond the Cross.” We are studying the lasting effects of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This week, the sermon will be from 1 John 1:1-2:2 about forgiveness.

Like my boys, there is no way we can live up to God’s standard of perfection. In fact, we fail regularly and the only way for us to experience fellowship with God is through forgiveness offered to us by Jesus.

Interestingly enough, the more I learn about God’s forgiveness for me, the easier it is for me to forgive my boys. I may have to see about that $10 fine after all…

Have a great weekend, stay warm and I hope to see you on Sunday, rain, snow or shine :).
Troy