Thursday, December 01, 2016

Imperfect is Perfect for God // A Christmas Thought

The Holidays are here meaning 2016 will soon be in the archives. But before this year is over there are still many memories yet to be made, because well…that’s what the holidays are for.  With Christmas, tradition, and memories in mind I hope you will take time to appreciate God in the imperfections.

I know that perhaps sounds strange. Because we often think of God in terms of perfect, without blemish, pristine.  But if the story of Christmas, that is the story of Jesus’ birth, teaches us anything it is that God shows up most often and most beautifully, in the imperfect.

So I invite you this Christmas season to look for God’s hand in the imperfect. See Him in that Christmas tree with the bald spot you missed when you picked it out, that casserole that doesn’t turn out right, the family photo with the one person whose eyes are closed, the house that is messy, the car that leaks oil, the kid in the choir that has to pee, the string of lights that doesn’t twinkle like it should… well you get the idea. God is in the imperfect.

I was reminded of this the other day at a For King and Country Christmas Concert at the Sun Dome. It was a marvelous show, complete with lights and smoke and lasers.  At one point in the show, the band played one of their hits, Let My Life Be The Proof.   It was a crowd favorite, evidenced by the 7,000 worshippers with hands raised, eyes closed, singing at the top of their lungs.  It was a great worship moment.

I was taking it all in when I noticed a young gentleman to my right in a wheel chair.  His hands were raised, his eyes were closed, his head down and he was singing with everything that was in him the lyrics of the chorus:

So let my life be the proof,
The proof of your love
Let my love look like You and what You're made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
-For King and Country

As he sang those words with such conviction, I was deeply moved. Here was a man bound to a wheel chair who was praying that his life (with all of its obvious imperfections) would be proof of God’s love.  And you know what? He doesn’t know it but in that moment last Tuesday night God did use his life and his imperfections to prove His love. Because he proved it to me through my brother. 

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you would see God in the imperfections. That you might see God’s hand at work in your own imperfections and in those of the loved ones around you.  When you sit at the table of friends and family with the assortment of imperfections each one brings, God is there. 

Christmas teaches us this.

The First Christmas was wrought with imperfections. An inconveniently timed birth. No room. A feeding trough. Smelly animals. Sinful shepherds. Poverty.  And yet, tight smack in the middle of that imperfection…God!  It turns out that imperfection is the perfect setting for you and me to experience God’s presence.

So this Christmas, my prayer is that you experience glorious moments of imperfection!

Monday, June 27, 2016

God’s Nightly Art Show

My wife Kristy and I were at the beach the other evening. It was one of those picturesque evenings, we so easily can take for granted in Florida. As we sat watching the blue sky turn pink we were in awe of the palette in the sky. It was a majestic swirl of pink, orange, purple, blue, and green. Truly amazing. And God does it night after night! I thought maybe there should be a chalk board sign at the entrance of the beach announcing, “Art Work Displayed Nightly - Free and Open to the Public.”

We admired God’s piece (see pic) like patrons at an art gallery, and talked about how creative our God is. He creates beauty effortlessly. His medium includes stars, planets, clouds and winds interpreted through our eyes (that He also created)! And with those he paints. He paints whatever he feels. And as we stop to observe and reflect we feel it too. We sense his beauty, his artistry, his care and his power.  Which is why, if you’ve been on the beach at sunset it is quite common for beachgoers to spontaneously applaud as the final speck of the sun dips into the sea. It’s a sort of “clap offering” to God for another masterful job. I just love it when that happens because people are ‘feeling’ God, and appreciating His artistry. In a way they are returning to the Creator His recurring words in Genesis 1, “This is good.”

While God is honored by it, He doesn’t create for applause. He creates because he is a creator. It’s just what he does because that’s who He is.  God never stops creating. He doesn’t wait until people are there to observe or admire the work of his hands. Or to write about it in blogs J  He just creates. All over the world, every day, our God is weaving together masterpieces in the heavens.  I suspect that some of the most beautiful sunsets have probably occurred in places where no one was there to applaud. In those occasions I just imagine the Holy Trinity, doing as they’ve done from the beginning. Celebrating, communicating, and allowing their joy to spill out on evening skies. The essence of the Christian life is being invited by Jesus, into the joy that has been shared eternally by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I offer two points I hope you will take away from this.
 1. Applaud a July Sunset or Two. This summer stop and applaud a few sunsets.  Make a point to go out to the beach at sunset with the purpose of worshiping. With your feet in the sand and the evening breeze blowing, read this:

Psalm 19:1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5  It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

And when the sun dips into the Gulf of Mexico transposing the evening sky, just marvel  and clap. Be sure to clap.

2. God is Painting You … a Picture. God is a creator and he makes beauty out of unlikely mediums.  No matter what this summer season finds you going through, know that God has his hands in the paint of your life.  And he will, if you let him, create beauty out of all of the good, bad, mundane of your life. Our God is love and our God creates. Those two together make for a pretty cool picture!

Have a blessed and enjoyable July!

You are Loved,

Pastor Terry

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Honey, We Finally Graduated Elementary School!

Today we graduated elementary school. We had been there for 14 years, in 3 states and 5 different primary schools. Here's to you Atlantic Shores, Landstown, Clear Creek, Dennis, and Brooker Creek! My wife and I have posted hundreds of art pieces to our fridge, stuck mascot stickers on our cars, signed and returned permission slips, walked marathons to and from the bus stops, and volunteered at field days and class parties. We’ve attended countless talent nights, concerts, parent-teacher conferences, and fund raising events. Today we have moved the tassel.

Today JT, our youngest, graduated from 5th grade. This means the era that began with our first daughter in 2002, has now come to a close. The elementary years are complete. We, along with him, have graduated.  

Thank you to all the outstanding principles, teachers, assistants, coaches, and administrators who invested in our kids at their most vulnerable ages. We may not remember all of your names, but we will never forget the impact you made! 

Thank you elementary school, it was even better than when we did it ourselves!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Skip the Dip

First, thank you Baysiders for your faithful financial support of our mission to see more people become more like Jesus! As of this writing, giving has been over budget 11 out of the past 12 weeks! If you’re new to Bayside, curious why this a is bid deal, or just want to be reminded of the inspiration behind this move of God, go to the website ( and watch the “The Blessed Life” series. Without question, that series continues to be used by God to inspire and bless our church family. Let’s pray this upward giving trend continues through the summer and we skip the dip. That would be a miracle!

And here’s why. Summer is a unique season in the life of the church. While there is a lot of ministry going on with camps, trips, outreaches, special worship services and fellowships, it tends to be a time when worship attendance and giving take a dip.  That dip is compounded in Florida because our part-year members head back north for the summer. Let’s pray and commit ourselves to continue strong through the summer in our giving and our attendance in worship. So let’s skip the dip! 

Speaking of worship, I’d like to offer a few ways you can invest over the summer months in yourself so that you don’t experience a summer spiritual dip.

Find a Spot
A few weeks ago, in a message on worship I mentioned that one of the most important things we can do for our spiritual lives is to identify a spot where we meet regularly with God. Do you have a spot?  If not, this summer, identify that place that will be the place where you will worship, pray, and read the Word of God.  I’ve had many ‘spots’ over the years. But the spot that is my ‘spot’ for the past 3 months or so has been a picnic table at John Chestnut park. This park is right on my way to work in the morning, so I exit out of the southbound traffic and find this little table by the lake. And there I read the Scripture, talk to Jesus, and just ‘be’ in the presence of God.  Your spot may not be at a park; it may not even be outside at all. It may be in a recliner, or at kitchen table, or kneeling bench. It’s your spot so it can be anywhere you (and God) want it to be.

Pick a Book and Hit “Repeat”
Pick a book of the Bible and hit “repeat.” For me, my book this summer will be Proverbs. Short books in the New Testament work well for this too. Instead of trying to read through several books of the Bible, just pick one and read it through several times through the summer.  Pick a book like Proverbs, or Colossians, or one of the Gospels and seek to read it through a couple of times over the next several weeks. I think you will find this to be an incredibly enriching process. Think of the books of the Bible like 66 friends. Picking one book to read over and over is like spending extended quality time with one friend, instead of a few minutes with a bunch of friends. You will get to know and understand the book, the author, and ultimately God on a more intimate basis.

Learn from a Godly Person.
Pick a godly person, living or dead and listen to their biography on audio book (or read it.) While you’re sitting on the porch, deck or beach towel, take a biography with you. Reading the life journeys of people of faith can be an incredibly inspiring and challenging exercise.

If we apply these three simple things over the summer, we just may find come September that our spiritual life has skipped the dip. Instead of a lull, we may find it has actually heated up over the summer.

Praying that you will experience sacred moments of relaxation and refreshing this summer. And don’t forget the sunscreen!