Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Inspire me…

15 Sep

The word “inspire” means literally, to “breathe life into someone.”

So, what or who inspires you?

I have a special playlist on my iTunes called “Inspire Me,” including about 20 songs from different stages of my life that get me fired up or help me focus on growth and perseverance.

I love being part of a staff and work team of people with inspiring goals and personalities – people who are looking ahead with hope and purpose.

I’m grateful for a few tremendous leaders in my life who live with passion and intensity and integrity that inspires me to do better and to be better.

Certainly, God breathes life into all of us by giving us life, body, soul, and personality.  But He also brings me to life in His presence, in His Word, and around His people.

What inspires you?

Whatever or whoever inspires you – keep connected.. keep inspired… keep humble and moving forward!


Secret Salsa Specs

06 Sep

I love making salsa.

Almost as much as I love eating salsa.

Here goes, out with the secret:

1 – large, ripe, red tomato
8 – ripe grape tomatoes
5 – Marzetti pepperoncini peppers
1 – ripe jalapeño
2 – tbsp white vinegar
2 – tbsp lime juice
1 – tbsp garlic powder
1 – handful of fresh cilantro
1 – chopped white onion

If you feel like it….(1) add 2 tbsp of your favorite pasta sauce. (2) use red onions instead. (3) Lemon juice if you don’t have lime. (4) cherry tomatoes if you don’t have grape. (5) Roma tomatoes instead of larger… (6) dash of Tabasco is great. (7) no sugar.

Chop it.
Blend it.
Heat it.
strain it.
Fridge it.
Eat it.
Thank me. LOL.


Short and Sweet…

04 Sep

This blog entry is short.

Recently, a friend told me that my blog entries are too long.

He’s right.

We need friends like that – who say the truth we need to hear.

Say the truth, and say it like you care. Short and sweet.

I eat that stuff up.

Like a strawberry dipped in dark chocolate.


Just Do Something? Yep, pretty much.

01 Sep

Apathy.  Fear.  Insecurity.

So many things can hold you back.

But there is another path.  At least I think so, and I’m telling you now.

You are made in God’s image.  You have great potential, freedom, and opportunity.  You have one life to invest and step up to the plate and swing hard!

Too many world-changing dreams have been choked out by the expectations of others.  Too many hearts grow cold and bored because people are afraid to rock the boat or afraid to fail.

Not so with you.  You are better than that.

You are meant to be, to do, and to experience so much more than that.

So get started!  What is right in front of you?  What do you want to become?  How can you grow, learn, and experiment with something new in the next month?

Join a club.  Take a class.  Start running.  Read that book.  Call Mom.  Help the poor.  Stop complaining.  Stop playing the victim, as if you don’t have a say in how your life goes and how you could impact the world, if you only tried…

Just. Do. Something.


Twas the Night before Easter…

23 Apr

For followers of Jesus Christ, it doesn’t get any bigger than Easter Sunday.  More appropriately, Resurrection Sunday.

Tomorrow, millions (and millions) will gather together in all corners of the world to praise a tremendous man who lived a superior life and who was raised to life three days after his death.

Nobody in human history can match the resume and legacy of Jesus.  Some have dared to try, and others have been prematurely placed on a pedestal.  But nobody matches Jesus.

On Good Friday, Jesus was cruelly accused and sentenced to death under one of the most violent and gruesome penalties in human history – the crucifixion.  He was beaten, whipped, spat on, betrayed, abandoned, mocked, stabbed, and punched countless times by evil men.  Finally, later that day, he died a very bloody and torturous death.

It doesn’t seem like a “good” Friday on any account.  For those hours and days after Jesus’ death, you have to wonder what the disciples felt.  What Mary felt.  What Peter and James and John felt.  What the religious hypocrites felt.

Even though Jesus talked repeatedly about how he would eventually give up his life and be raised from the dead, the disciples clearly doubted, grieved, and feared.  Even though the religious ones had studied Old Testament concepts about a suffering servant who would be betrayed, disfigured, and serve as a sin offering, they never considered Jesus for that role.

What was it like on that night – that Saturday night – before the first Easter?  The first Resurrection Sunday?

Dark.  Sick.  Tear-filled eyes.  Torn clothes.  Broken dreams.  Shattered souls.  Hopeless hearts.  What do you even say to each other?  Sometimes, in our day, we comfort each other by admitting “there are no words for this.”  “I’m so sorry…”

We know that the disciples were in hiding, afraid of who might be next for the death penalty.

We know that Judas hanged himself.

We know that many women disciples were weeping and grieving as well.

We know that a prominent Jew (Joseph of Arimethea) had to pull some strings to get Jesus an honorable burial.

We know that Pilate (and others) checked the tomb to make sure that the body wouldn’t be stolen.

We know that Pilate ordered a seal and a guard to watch the tomb so that “the deceiver” (Jesus) wouldn’t rise again and be able to get out of the tomb.

We know that some of the women had secured spices to help Jesus’ corpse not smell so bad, but that – as good Jews – they wouldn’t try to bring the spices on the Sabbath (Saturday).

Twas the Night before Easter… and all the odds were stacked against Jesus.  Pronounced dead by several sources and stabs.   Tomb sealed by a pious Jew, a Roman governor, and military guards.  Mourned with finality by his closest friends and family.

Twas the Night before Easter… a very bad Saturday.  Jesus was dead and His dream for the kingdom was finished.  And nobody really expected Sunday to be any different.



Read it again for the first time…

22 Apr

Don’t take my word for it… don’t let something someone told you years ago be your word on it…

When it comes to Good Friday, perhaps we should consider the source – what does the Bible really say about Jesus and the Cross?

Click the links below and read the Bible’s account for yourself…

Matthew 27:27-65.

Mark 15:16-47.

Luke 23:1-56.

John 19:1-42.


Discover El Salvador

20 Apr

From April 6-12, 2011, I was able to spend a week in El Salvador. It was a tremendous experience and I enjoyed meeting some wonderful new friends who are doing great things for people in their home country with great needs.  Here are some FAQ’s (Frequently-Asked Questions) regarding the trip…

Q: Why did you go on this trip to El Salvador?

A: As a pastor from our church, I was invited by Compassion International to represent our church at the beginning stages of their “Church-t0-Church” partnership program.  This was called a “Discovery Trip” to meet leaders of churches in El Salvador and see the good work they are doing in their communities with the help of Compassion’s ministry.

Q: Did anyone go with you?

A: Yes, it was a thrill to have Dave and Esther Pacheco along from our church.  Dave is our youth pastor (junior & senior high).  We were also joined by pastors and church leaders from Washington, North Carolina, and Texas.  The team was led and trained by Mark Gehri, Compassion’s director over the C2C Church Partnership Program.

Q: How did you afford to go on such a trip?

A: Actually, Compassion paid for much of this trip, with help from an anonymous missions donation to our church.  We agreed (with enthusiasm) in hopes that God would guide this process and allow us to meet a church partner and help us build some meaningful opportunities to “team up” for missions work.

Q: What do you mean by “church partner?”

A: Compassion wants to match churches in the USA with churches in El Salvador (or other underdeveloped countries) to get to know one another and serve God together in some way.  The best I can do is ask you to read this article if you’re really interested.

Q: So, how was the trip?

A: It was a jam-packed five-days, full of meetings, tours, introductions, and events.  We spent our first day in the town of La Libertad, visiting a church and Compassion project there.  On our second day, we went to a church in Plan del Pino, not far from San Salvador.  On Friday and Saturday, several of us traveled three hours East (near San Miguel) to connect with a church in the rural village of Tongolona.  We were delighted to spend nearly 2.5 days with Pastor Jose Angel Rivera and his family and his church.  It was wonderful to get to know them and to see what God is doing in their church and community.

Q: What, exactly, would you say God is doing there in this church and community?

A: Well, their church is called Iglesia de Dios Manantiales de Vida Eterna.

Q: Can you put that in English?

A: Yes.  It’s “Church of God, Springs of Eternal Life.”  It’s a church of 100+ adults and nearly 100 kids.  They have a Child Development Center that teaches kids to read, write, and work with numbers.  They also learn trade skills like sewing, farming, crafts, and playing music.  The church also hosts a Child Survival Program (CSP) for newborn babies and young mothers, helping teach the moms how to feed, love, care for, and train their little ones.  Overall, the church reaches nearly 205 more children in their community through these projects!

Q: That’s great!  But do they have a radio station?

A: Funny you should ask!  Their pastor is in his second year of directing a Christian radio station that broadcasts to much of the country of El Salvador, and has an online streaming website for their radio!

Q: Really?  You mean we can listen to it online?  Here?

A: Yes.  For real.  Just click here – Rains of Blessing!

Q: So, what are the next steps (if any) in your partnership with this church in El Salvador.

A: Well, we’re in the “relationship building” stage, and really want to keep getting to know them.  We will connect with their leaders and people via E-Mail and Facebook.  I hope to talk with Pastor Angel on Skype.  We will talk about sending another team of people from our church sometime early next year.  There are many potential ways to work together and to get to know them.  For now, I’m grateful for the opportunity and excited to see how God directs this partnership.

Q: So, why El Salvador and not somewhere else?

A: For one, El Salvador is a place of great need and poverty.  Compassion International reaches nearly 40,000 children in this country alone.  Compassion staff also works well with these local churches to help us have “solid ground” when we are able to get involved.  They can help with translation, travel arrangements, cultural challenges, and safety issues.  They can also help train our teams to be effective servants to God and others when we go there.

Q: What was one highlight of your trip?

Alberto Jurado

A: Hmm.  That’s tough.  One afternoon, we had the privilege of visiting the home of Alberto Jurado – the boy that my wife and I sponsor through Compassion International.  To see his home, the living conditions, the floor he sleeps on, and the difference in lifestyles… that was challenging and affirming… affirming that – though the resources are poor, the people are precious, and we have the opportunity to help… first with relationships and support… and sometimes with resources as well.

Our team from Delaware meeting leaders from the El Salvador Church - Pastor Angel is on the far right.

Q: How can we pray for the church in El Salvador?

A: Pray for the leaders, including the group here on the right – Pedro (far left), Ulysses (next on left), and Pastor Angel on the far right.  Pray for their safety and for their families.  Pray for God to provide a bridge to span the river that divides their town.  Pray for the young people who are so often tempted or forced to join gangs in this country.  Pray for their Compassion center, reaching 200+ kids each week.  Thanks for your partnership through praying for the brothers and sisters in El Salvador!

Q: How do I as a church member (who will probably never go on a mission trip) partipate in this relationship?

A: Sponsor a child (through Compassion International) who is part of this church’s ministry. Your monthly support for that child ($38), your prayers and your letters will change the child’s live…and yours!  Don’t be surprised if God does call you to go on a missions trip to our church and to hug your sponsored child in your own arms!


The Packing List…

24 Jan

Another update to the Africa blog


Six Minutes in Africa?

21 Jan

We’re going to Africa.  In 17 days.  Unreal.  Too much to do.  Trying to stay “un-sick.”

We’ve started a Facebook group for short, quick updates… join us!

Tonight, I’ve been mulling over our upcoming camping trip during our first few days in the Central African Republic.

After writing these blogs about Africa, I re-discovered a wonderful video produced by Project Hope & Charite’.  This video gives a great summary of our partnerships in Africa and can help you discover – visually – some of the thrills and opportunities we have embraced as a church.

It’s just six minutes, but it is informative, inspiring, and perhaps – an invitation for you to join us and get involved!   Let me know if you want to make a difference through prayer or giving or perhaps getting your own church connected with this kind of ministry.  Take a look…


Jesus is greater than…

02 Dec

I used to make a bunch of top ten lists.

Gary’s “Top Ten Best Movies of All-Time.”

Gary’s “Top Ten Best Taco Salads of the World.”

Gary’s “Top Ten Top Ten Lists.”

Yes, I’d rank things and assign values.  Football was greater than baseball.  Ohio State was greater than Michigan.  Our dog “Shadow” was greater than my cousin’s dog “Tricksie.”

I guess it’s in our nature to compare things.  To recognize improvements from one thing to another.

In Jesus’ day, people would gather and compare ideas.  They would find public places to get together and debate, discuss, and dialogue.

At some point, they’d make their own lists.  Who are the best teachers?  What are the best morals?  Who has the best marriage or the best wisdom or the best way to handle money?

This year, our church is reading through the Gospel of Mark.  It’s a book written by a friend of the Apostle Peter, who spent years watching and listening to Jesus.

If you ask Peter, Jesus stood alone on every top ten list imaginable, when Peter exclaimed, “You are the Messiah!” – Mark 8:27-30.

Jesus is “greater than” anyone or anything we could imagine.

His power was “greater than” all evil forces.  Jesus calmed the storm in Mark 4.  He casts out the demons in Mark 5.  He raises the dead in John 11.  He defeated the devil once for all at the Cross.

His power is “greater than” all our fears.  Jesus gave comfort to the hurting.  He brought hope for the desperate and love to the lonely.  Whatever you’re going through right now, Jesus can be greater than your circumstances and change your life all over again.

His power will be “greater than” anything we’ve ever seen.  Those who trust Him fully will receive “life to the fullest” – a true “eternal life” that starts right now as you live each day as and adventure with God.  Some people fail to see His power because they fail to take a chance and trust Him with their lives.

Don’t be like that.  Don’t settle for lesser-ranked things.  Don’t build your life on money, sex, or the approval of others.  Don’t give in to the lies that you’re not worth it or that you should give up and just be a victim of circumstance.

This Christmas, it’s your time to consider God all over again.  To really search for Jesus is to look at His Word, to talk openly to Him about your thoughts, and recognize His greatness in every area of your life.

Jesus is at the top of all the meaningful “top ten” lists I’ve ever made.  He’s truly “greater than!”