The battle that you don’t see.


People battle with things that you never see. 

I recently was reminded of this during a lunchtime conversation. 

The “nugget” I learned that day was: “It’s hard when you have some pain people can’t see. There’s no cast, brace or a bandaid.” In that moment I was reminded that you never know what someone else is going through. Not all wounds are visible. 

So, what is the takeaway from that? 

In our daily lives, what difference would we make if we had more compassion?  If we were more gracious with one another? If we would stop and think, I wonder what they’re going through that made them say or act like that? 

I’ve battled with some things that many of you probably never could imagine. A few of you that I’ve “let in” know. For me the battle the last few years has been in my mind. Sure, I almost always have a smile. I try to bring encouragement and enthusiasm whenever I walk into the room, but sometimes I don’t feel like the chipper and jolly person that most of you think I am, but I keep pushing forward. 

What have I battled with? Depression. Anxiety. Crazy thoughts. 

While I’ve never been clinically diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I was told that’s most likely what I was dealing with. I learned that while seeking counseling. As a pastor and leader I knew I couldn’t just talk to anybody and everybody. So I sought professional help. It was well worth the time and money that I spent. I was really challenged and learned a few things that will forever shape the ministry God has called me to. I also learned that it’s OK to take time for Chris. I intentionally pulled back on the projects I was willing to take on. I’m still learning to do that. 

Why am I sharing these things? I’m sharing to encourage someone else that might going through a “valley” at the moment. To remind them that it’s OK — you don’t have to have all the answers. Take time for YOU! Pray. Slow down. Talk with a trusted friend. Seek counseling. 

While working through my struggles I’ve run across articles that have called my faith into question and have even said that the main problem is sin. While sin is a hinderance to spiritual growth, depression is real. Depression is something that devoted Christians struggle with. I whole heartedly believe this statement, “It’s what the church doesn’t talk about that its people struggle with the most.” Far too many people struggle with depression and are shunned because they are told they don’t have enough faith. That’s wrong. What we should be doing is coming alongside them to encourage and love them through their struggles.  

I’m hoping that my rambling thoughts generate conversation. If this is something you struggle with, I pray that you’ll reach out to your Heavenly Father and pray your fears, anxiety and worries to him. He can take it. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 91:2, “I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” If you’re someone who has a friend struggling with these things, love and encourage them. Here is a great article I read back in 2014, How to Help a Friend Fight Depression7 dos and don’ts for helping a friend who struggles with depression.

In closing, one of the phrases I learned during my counseling sessions was, “More curiosity, less judgement.” What would happen if we applied that to our daily lives? I wonder how many people you come in contact with each day are battling with something that you’ll never see or never be close enough for them to allow you in? 

You can’t see all battles or wounds. 

Be gracious and love well! 

Caught with your pants down!

I have to say that Friday’s article, “Transgender debate comes home to roost,” in the Sumter Item was a wake up call for me. I had been dodging the transgender debate for some time.

Why, I don’t know. Things have been heating up in North Carolina for a while and just recently a friend in Conway has been posting a lot of information and updates about the Horry County School District’s dealings with the bathroom debate. Somehow, I guess I was naïve and thought it would be a while before it gets here and we have to deal with it. Boy was I wrong.

I failed in being prepared.

I’m not one who typically gets into political debates, because it’s not something I’m strong or good at. Maybe it is the fear of not knowing all the details, saying the wrong thing or just knowing what debates to be a part of and spend your time on. Honestly, you can’t get sucked into every debate that comes along.

No excuses.” That phrase is currently on “rinse and repeat” in my mind. I’ve become comfortable in making excuses. I realized that recently and am praying and processing that through.

So, when it comes to this debate I don’t have any excuses. I wasn’t reading, wasn’t studying and honestly haven’t been praying about it near enough … But that doesn’t mean that I can’t start now.

Here are some steps that should be taken by all of us:

1. Pray
2. Have conversations with both sides
3. Listen when you have conversations
4. Process what you’re hearing
5. Pray some more
6. Read multiple sources, trust worthy sources
7. Write out your thoughts and not necessarily for others to see or to be posted online. Dig deep and take time to process things.

An observation from Friday’s article in The Item:

The policy states “a student who has been identified as transgender under these guidelines should be permitted to use the resources assigned to the gender which the student consistently asserts at school.” Baker said the key word in the policy is the word “consistently.”
The former photojournalist in me keyed in on that word and formatting, “consistently.”

I also appreciated what Dr. Baker said about the disciplinary policy and actions that would be taken against any student who would try to abuse the bathroom policy.

Also, this comment I ran across on Facebook stood out to me: “Private schools and homeschooling are about to reach an all time high!!”

Hmmm … Yes, the answer to our problems is to run from them. That makes perfect sense. Not. My children attend public school because my wife and I attended public school. You can’t shelter your kids forever. The same issues that are in the schools — the social, political and economical issues of children and their families — are the same ones that exist in your ENTIRE community.

As Kyndal and I have seen, your classmates are the same ones when you grow up that will come running to your rescue you when you call 911; the same ones that will wait on you when you go out to eat; the same ones that will be caring for your love ones in the hospital, etc. Whether you like everyone or not, public school children, adults and administration and staff are the ones you’ll have to deal with on a daily basis, either now or in the future. Whether you agree or disagree with them, their lifestyle or their attitudes they are your neighbors. Those who consider themselves followers of Christ, isn’t it your responsibility to love those around you as you love yourself? As you love Christ?

I’d like to also take a second and talk about Dr. Baker. He’s getting bashed around town and on social media. I heard him speak just this past Thursday at an event for Partners in Education — where the district and chamber are encouraging businesses, industry, churches and nonprofit organizations to get involved in our schools. Dr. Baker said something similar to what I’m about to say … The Sumter School District exists to meet the needs of ALL students regardless of their background. The district’s website even states, “Sumter School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or age in admission to, treatment in, or employment in its programs and activities.” So, whether you like it or not, they have to accommodate and be mindful of things that you might just disagree with.

Lastly, what’s with the name of my post? My original title was “Ignorance is not necessarily bliss.” Then, “Getting caught with your pants down,” came to mind. That’s pretty embarrassing, isn’t it. It applied to how I was lazy and not prepared as a pastor/leader in this discussion, but it also reminded me of this section from a Time article mentioned in the links below.

Mel Wymore a trans man, “as well as the parent of a daughter, says more dialogue is needed, as people’s attitudes towards gender begin to change. “I’ve never heard of anyone [in the trans community] who wants to make other people uncomfortable,” he says. “I can say from my own personal experience transitioning that it’s uncomfortable to be in a restroom where you know people are uncomfortable.”

Things we don’t know about or understand can be uncomfortable to discuss. Disagreeing with people is uncomfortable. So, let’s begin to have conversations — with each other and God — and love one another regardless of our differences in opinion and beliefs. Yelling and screaming at one another is not the answer. This discussion and debate isn’t going away, but it is only with civil conversations, love and thinking of all aspects of a situation that change can take place to make our community to be a place to live, work and play!

Let’s keep the conversations going!

Conversations lead to relationships.

Here are some articles I’ve read and links I’d like to share.
NPR articles and coverage of transgender issues:

TIME: “Even in Liberal Communities, Transgender Bathroom Laws Worry Parents”

Southern Baptist Convention > On Transgender Identity 
Written and adopted in 2014 at the SBC National Convention in Baltimore, MD.

This section of the above article stood out to me:

Where to begin … 


It’s 4:05 a.m. and I’m staring at a blinking cursor in the notes app of my iPhone wondering, “Where do a begin with all these thoughts running through my head?”

In moments like this, I have to stop my brain from racing and focus on just one word. That one word this morning is: authentic.

Why authentic? Maybe because it’s at the forefront of my mind. It is the first core value of the church we are planting here in town. Cornerstone’s values are: Authentic. Loving. Simplistic. Excellence. The phrase I’ve often repeated is, “Conversations lead to relationships.” I’ve gone on to remind our core families, you’re never going to build “real” relationships until you’re “real” with one another, thus authentic. That means letting down the mask and stop pretending you have it all together.

I realize I’ve failed miserably in practicing what I preach.

My Facebook page and social media channels are — like most of you — my “highlight reel.” You only see and read what I carefully select from my daily life to share with you.

So, allow me to be “real” with you for a minute.

I don’t have it all together, I haven’t for quite some time. I prayed to the Lord back in the very beginning of 2014, “Lord, break me, mold me and make me into the man you’d have me to be.” December 31 of that year I realized He gave me exactly what I asked me. I realized then He wasn’t done and He isn’t done yet. (Honestly, as a friend reminded me, He won’t be done until he calls me Home) Needless to say, it hasn’t been easy, but more of that another day.

These last few weeks God has allowed me to see and reflect on many of my flaws, mainly centered around leadership or the lack there of. I’ve failed to lead well. I’ve failed to keep going and pushing forward. Instead I’ve thrown my weight around, thrown in the towel, but worse thrown people under the bus. I’ve failed to listen. I’ve failed to take time to reflect, process and pray. Instead I’ve responded in the moment thus hurting those around me.

What started as a post about struggling with being anxious — that was the first word I wrote down as I started this note and stared at the screen — has turned into this.

I’m reminded of Psalm 46:10, oft repeated, but seldom executed well by me, “Be still, know that I am God …” Even in saying that in these moments I realized, maybe we should be sure to say, “Be still, know that HE is God …” For He indeed is and I am not.

In this season of being refined, I think as I reflect that I can say, thank God I’m still on the Potter’s wheel!

Weight loss: Things I’ve learned thus far …

Things I’ve learned on my weight loss journey …

Set realistic goals
One of the first goals that I set was to go to the gym every day for an entire month. With a loving, supporting and flexible wife I was able to hit that goal.

In retrospect, probably not the smartest goal I’ve ever set. I wasn’t killing it each visit, but still, I learned that your body needs time to rest between workouts.

Share your journey with your spouse and/or close friends. It’s always great when you have others to hold you accountable.

It’s better with friends. 
Getting connected with my F3 buddies (Fitness. Fellowship. Faith.) has made all the difference in the world. I’m thankful for them pushing me to be better physically and spiritually.

Also because I’m back in the gym, our friends signed up for a membership too. So now Kyndal and I have gym buddies. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard from mine in a while. Time to send a few texts!! We’ve got to hold each other accountable.

It needs to be hard!
Yes. You read that right. If it isn’t hard, you’ll get bored and drop it. By setting the bar high and pushing yourself, it makes all the difference in the world. That’s one of the key principles of F3. Who willingly gets up to workout at 5:30 a.m. with a bunch of guys? It’s because it’s hard and we encourage each other along the way.

For example, when I started working out with F3, the other guys would do 10 push-ups, I would do 5, then 8 and so on. Building over time. Don’t try and kill it, but you do have to push yourself. I still struggle with this. Just ask my buddy, John.

Don’t step on that scale!
If you want to see progress then don’t step on the scales often. It was at the 2-month mark before I stepped on the scale once I started this go-round. 2 months! Do you know how hard it is to walk past the scales in your office and at the gym, all day, every day?! It’s ok. You can do it! Push yourself.

How do you know you’re making progress without the scales? For me, my clothing — especially my belt — told me that progress was being made.

I’ve since stepped on the scale more often. In the past, I’ve tried to only weigh on payday (every other week). If you allow a period of time between weigh-ins, it will help you to see a difference, that’s for sure.

There’s an app for that. 
I started using an app, then after getting my Fitbit I transitioned to their app. There are several. Pick one and you’ll thank yourself in the months to come.

Track what you’re doing. 
Track your food and your exercise. You don’t have to have a fitness tracker (Fitbit or smartwatch) to do that. App + input = accountability and a way to measure your progress.

Calories in. Calories out. 
Before February of this year, I had never counted a calorie. I can’t even begin to imagine how many calories I was eating at one point in my life. Crazy!!!

Exercise is good. It will make you feel better, BUT it is really all about portion control. What are you consuming and what are you burning each day.

Talk about your journey. 
People will gladly chime in. Some will offer helpful tips, others might confuse you or overwhelm you. Find a place to start. Some people focus on carbs others on sugars, sodium, etc. I found calories to be a great place to start. Easy to find and easy to track.

You CAN eat fast food and lose weight. 
I eat at Chick-fil-A multiple times a week. I hit up J. O’Gradys in downtown Sumter and even Subway. You just have to make good decisions about what you’re eating. I’ve also found the Artisan chicken sandwich, grilled snack wrap and the strawberry banana smoothie at McD’s to be quite good too.

The Market Salad from Chick-fil-A is the bomb! Whoever thought grilled chicken, nuts, berries, granola, strawberries and honey mustard could taste so good!

Also, steer clear of frozen dinners or prepackaged meals, those jokers are packed with sodium!

Drink LOTS of water. Sodas are wasted and empty calories. Sometimes I’ll mix my tea — 1/2 water and half tea — just be mindful of the calories you’re consuming as you hydrate. You can cut sodas and notice a difference right off the bat.

It’s going to be hard but push through. 
There have been times when my family would order a pizza. I’d eat what I was going to eat to align with my goals and the remaining pizza looked so darn good. I had to keep telling myself, “You don’t need it!” Keep telling yourself that. Seriously.

Also when you see how long it takes to burn calories, you’ll think twice about that slice anyway!

It’s OK to cheat, once a week.
Set aside one day  — at most two — where you can go over a little. Save a special treat like a milkshake, big cookie or slice of Baker’s Sweets cake. However, when you see how many calories are in that milkshake, you’ll never look at them the same, just saying.

Kill two birds with one stone. 
I sometimes go to the gym, set my pace at 3 mph, walk and read my Bible or book via my Kindle or iPad mini. I’ve found it relaxing. I could care less about TV, so it’s a good way to exercise both my body and mind at the same time. Plus I get in some much-needed reading.

Food and nutrition labels are your friend. Make sure to look at portion sizes and the number of servings per package. Some items will say 70 calories, but the package contains two servings.

Last, but not least, prayer!
Thank God for the strength to move and exercise your body. We take so many daily tasks for granted. Talk to Him as you go on this journey. He wants to hear from you.

A man for whom Christ died,

Walking daily and encouraging others along the way!
1 Corinthians 15:58

Top 6 “Nuggets” from Feb. 2015

On January 1, 2015, I started a plan to read the entire Bible again in the course of the year. Each day after my reading I post a “nugget” from my quiet time using the hashtag #Bible365 on my Facebook page. 

Below are the Top 6 (plus a special one) — in no particular order — from the month of February 2015. 

If you’d like to connect and see my daily “nuggets” connect with me up on Facebook or Twitter

Nugget #1

I’ll keep it simple tonight, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

Nugget #2

Have you mastered Psalm 34:1? I don’t know about you, but I fail miserably at times. 

For the Bible says, “I will bless the Lord at ALL times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
Wow! What a gut check of a verse. Two other verses — among many in this particular psalm — that I’d like to also share, with emphasis added on the last one.

Verse 18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Verse 19: “MANY are the afflictions of the righteous, BUT the Lord DELIVERS him out of them ALL.”

Nugget #3

Why is it important to know God’s Word?

As Jesus is in the wilderness, He is tempted by the devil. In Luke 4:10, you’ll miss it if you aren’t paying attention, the devil says, “for it is written …” And he (the devil) proceeds to quote Deuteronomy 6:13.

The devil knows the Word, he quotes it to Jesus. Don’t you think you should know the Word as well? When Jesus is tempted, what does He do? He quotes scripture back to the devil. Jesus replies by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.

It’s not a flesh battle we have to fight. Be equipped and prepared. The temptations will come! Know how to use your sword (the Word).

*Read Luke 4:1-12.

Nugget #4

God is our fortress. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 ESV)
Also verse 10 is another to underline/remember: “Be still, and know that I am God …” 

Nugget #5

God is in the transformation business! We just have to pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 ESV

Nugget #6

Jesus healed 10 lepers, but only one of them realized what had really taken place. What did he do?

“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15-16 ESV

How often do we forget to thank God for the blessings He bestows upon us? The healing He sends our way? The obstacles He removes?

Live a life of worship. Thank Him for all He has, is and is going to do in your life.

*Bonus Nugget

Today’s nugget is a very special one! When I realized the Psalm I was in, I knew I would share it. This scripture is what I was asked to read at my great, great uncle Charlie’s funeral. He was 99, just shy of 100 years old.

Knowing that, read this scripture with that in mind. What an amazing truth!

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. [interlude] We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” Psalms 39:4-7 NLT

Top 5 “Nuggets” from Jan. 2015


A new year. A new plan. This January I started the 365 Day Bible Reading plan in the back of my new journaling Bible that I got for Christmas. 

On January 1, after reading I felt led to post a “nugget” from something that stood out during my quiet time using the hashtag #Bible365 on my Facebook page. 

Below are the Top 5 posts that received the most interaction — in no particular order — in the month of January 2015. 

If you’d like to connect and see my daily “nuggets” look me up on Facebook or Twitter

Nugget #1

Do you like to read the Old Testament?

If not, I’d like to remind you of one of many promises that you’ll miss out on. In Exodus Chapter 6 as God is preparing Moses and giving him the message to the Israelites, God tells us, “… I am The Lord … I will bring you out … I will deliver you … I will redeem you …” (Verse 6) God promises deliverance.

Hide that in your heart and mind.

Nugget #2

The fall comes when it’s more about us than it is about Him!

At the Tower of Babel the Word states they said, ” …Come, let US build ourselves a city … let US make a name for ourselves…” Genesis 11:4 ESV

Our prayer should be: Less of me, more of you Lord!

Nugget #3

First sacrifice in the Bible, Genesis 3. “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 ESV

Something had to die to cover their sins.

Aren’t you thankful that in God’s timing that the perfect lamb was slain? Christ’s blood covered all, no more need for sacrifices. See 1 Peter 1:18-21.

Nugget #4

A sealed tomb, guards and large stone were no hindrance for God in the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

After Jesus was buried, I love how Pilate tells the Pharisees, “Go make it as secure as YOU can.” (Matthew 27:65) Man’s methods did not stop God’s plan from unfolding.

Just remember that the barriers placed in your path are no obstacle when God is in control. His Will and plan will unfold.

Nugget #5

Check your temperature! No, not for the flu or the common cold, but check your heart. Has it grown cold?

Interesting nuggets from my Bible reading today: I read of Jesus talking about the signs of the end times. He says, “… because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12

I see it all the time on Facebook and in our daily conversations — I’m guilty as well — but how quickly do we condemn others? The other ‘nugget’ I read was this, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight …” Psalm 19:14

A correlation? A coincidence? No. We first have to look to ourselves. Check the temperature of our own hearts. Has it become cold? What’s the remedy? To use Psalm 19:14 as a litmus test / a self check and a prayer to test and see if our words and thoughts (and actions) of our hearts are first pleasing to God.

Love one another!

If you’d like to connect and see my daily “nuggets” look me up on Facebook or Twitter