Friday, December 18, 2009

a break...

So, the benefit of campus ministry is that the school schedule is your schedule. After four days with the boss-man in Houston at a campus ministry conference, I have about two and a half weeks to be/think/pray (a.k.a. think and pray while I build a house!). These are my two big thoughts for the next couple of weeks...

how do you help a senior college leader who's passionate for Jesus be ready to face life in the church?

how can we change the church to accommodate a college post-grad who's passionate for Jesus?

I'd love to have your thoughts (in comment form!) if you have any contributions...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Family Birthday

Last weekend was the "December Birthday Celebration" for Carolyn's family. Emmaleigh's 4th is on the 28th, so she was a celebration recipient!
Blowing out candles...
Opening the goodies...with a grin!

wesley pics '09

My discipleship guys on staff: Mike Nakayama, Matt Whiting, Clark Waite, Thomas Hartley, Jim Towson, me, Blake Tipton, William Draper, and Craig Martin.

And my dL (discipleship/Leadership) staff in my office: Lindsay Allgood (Associate Director) and the interns, Ashley Plant, Keenan Klayman, and Diana Zylow (left to right).

I was driving home today, our last day, thinking about my staff and how much we pull off...unbelievable! Thanks guys. It's been a great Fall!

Friday, November 13, 2009

a story of 'the honesty'...

Carolyn is getting dressed to go into town yesterday and Emmaleigh wanders into the room.

"Mommy, why are you getting ready?" Emmaleigh says.

"Mommy has to go to the doctor to make sure the baby is okay," responds Mommy.

Very matter-of-factly, Emmaleigh replies, "Yeah, Mommy, you need to. It looks like you have a bottom on your belly. I looks like this," as she squats down and pushes her rear into the air, putting her arms out in front of her belly as far as she could reach.

We call it 'the honesty.'

**back-logged pictures to come...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

a day...

As Mom says, "it's been a day." Subtly understated. Interpretation: "Today was too much to describe. I'm still processing. Talk to me after my nap."

I led worship this morning at Heritage Community, Carolyn's Dad's church. Then on to an Inner Healing training at 1 for Wesley and then Community Group Leader Training at 5 for Athens Church. Great day, long day...not much of a Sabbath.

Any helpful suggestions for life with two (soon to be three) kids under 4? A.K.A. any suggestions for having a life with young kids, as opposed to just coping? Do you have to cut everything? Just wait it out for 20 years? We've cut out a lot and today was really an anomaly in the schedule (though it made me aware of some bad life patterns). House will be done in January. Fall semester will be done in January! Jena's recovery is progressing well at this point. So, new beginnings are upcoming, but we'd like to start better life habits. Putting it out there to get some wisdom, if you don't mind posting a comment...

Monday, October 19, 2009

at Watson Mill Bridge...

All the cousins came on Sunday afternoon for the picnic and a hike...

Monday, October 5, 2009


Every so often the Wesley staff will have a theme month. Last October we had Manna month, after the dewy bread from heaven. This October, Manna II, our staff has been directed to ask the Lord to renew our desire for him and to seek him for things that have been pushed aside and neglected. Psalm 63 sums it up nicely. Personally, I am always struck by how easy it is for the "fire" to grow still and smoldering inside of me. It doesn't take much for the flames to die down low. As I've been praying during the last week, I was reminded that the Lord's perpetual invitation is to seek him, to thirst for him. Normal Christian life isn't supposed to be's suppose to be supernatural! Christ is in us! In the last few months, though the Father has been so faithful, I've gotten pretty comfortable with 'less than.' Less faith in prayer, less perseverance. Less trust in some areas (and strangely more, in others). Certainly less longing for him. I don't usually like overly spiritual blog posts--too cliche. But I post this instead of pictures of my beautiful girls because I think it's past time that we all woke up from the slumber. The Lord's inviting us to cling to him again.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

two birthdays

Hannah turned 2 today. We pulled a table into the foyer so that Carolyn could watch us eat birthday dinner as she laid in bed with a stomach bug. Hannah is "twue." Lou, of course, complained of stomach aches the whole night--the queen of sympathetic pains! Maybe its a gift...

A friend of mine trusted Jesus with his life today! We've had some good conversations over the last 6 months or so, and he made the choice after we talked about some things again at lunch today. His prayer? "I'm in. Help me to be in." Beautiful! Praise Christ!

Monday, September 14, 2009

eventful days...

After many sewing hours and much lugging of heavy iron beds from the shed to the room, Hannah graduated into 'the big girl bed' last night. She couldn't be more pleased. And we couldn't either--she's stayed in bed both nights in the new bed...let angels prostrate fall. Praise Christ!
The Cole Bros. Circus came to town and we went this afternoon. Elephants, twirling ladies on bedsheet trapezes, clowns--the whole enchilada. The girls were wide eyed the whole time. They loved it. All sorts of mayhem would be going on and Em would just be staring at the curtain on the far end. Carolyn: Do you see them swinging, Lou? Emmaleigh: I'm waiting on the elephants. Over and over again...elephants were the grand finale.

And lastly, dinner conversation. David: Okay, let's pray. Emmaleigh: Okay, wait. I need to get this noodle out of my shirt.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Wesley Service last week

Wesley's first service was last Wednesday night in the Grand Hall at the new Tate Center. Kelly Pickler (the American Idol, now country singer) was doing the building dedication the next day so we got to use her sound and light equipment...we've never sounded better! We had about 1300 students come to worship and about 1200 last night. Crossroads (Campus Crusade at UGA) had 400 their first night, and I think BCM had a good night on Tuesday as well. There is a unity prayer service September 8th in this same room (we're all cancelling our individual services) to ask God to awaken the yet-followers who are on campus. Every year I find myself asking the Lord to increase his church here, that the numbers of people connected to communities of faith wouldn't fall off but increase August to May, that his body would be growing up into him, building itself up in love. It's the way it was meant to be--we carry with us an advancing kingdom. We have hope...
I'll try to post some pics of our Leadership Prayer meeting if I can. We're actually meeting in one of the auditorium classrooms in the middle of campus this year, which I think is pretty significant from the perspective of the coming-kingdom. Thanks for praying for us.

Monday, August 24, 2009

good days...bad days

Tonight after dinner, after we did the swings in the backyard, we walked our walking stroller down to Aunt Dawn whose little Luke is three weeks on Wednesday. Emmaleigh, of course, insisted on pushing it and kept running the thing into the neighbors ditch. To her credit, she stuck with it. The weather the past few days has been unbelievable in the evenings. Just before dusk it feels like an Athens fall day and the outside pulls on you like Friday afternoon before a vacation. When we got back to the house, I stuck the girls up in the big magnolia that sits in the front. Hannah takes her turn and Emmaleigh is running around the yard pretending like she doesn't see her: "is she in the bushes? is she under the steps?" It was serene.
A week ago, Carolyn and I were sitting in bed and heard the unmistakable thump of Emmaleigh's body hitting the floor as she fell out of bed. We, of course, rush in to make sure that she hasn't broken something, but she's only screaming because she's scared. As I pick her up to snuggle her and put her back in bed, I notice that she has a big lump on her stomach. I ask her, "what's that, Lou?" And she answers, "its the baby in my belly. Just like Mommy." I pulled out a stuffed giraffe and she cracks a big grin before crawling under the covers and falling asleep.

The last three months have been difficult, though, to say the least. Jon, our brother-in-law, had massive infections in his blood and on his heart and brain. As soon as he recovered, Jena (his wife) started her battle with AML. She finished her second round of chemo last week and is at home waiting for bone marrow treatments beginning in the middle of September. Three weeks ago, we found out that our pregnancy was a doublet, twins, and only 7 days later that we lost the weaker of them. In the last week, Carolyn's mom has also developed health problems and is undergoing tests. Really unbelievable.

We keep giving the Father opportunities t0 show up and (no surprise) he does. He's still good...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Long overdue...

So, it's been a while since I've posted. My sister-in-law has been fighting with leukemia the last month and we've been scattered about caring for all sorts of things. To update: she'll be undergoing more chemo and then a bone marrow transplant in the next few months. Her age and relative health are in her favor, but her sub-type makes her 'high risk.' We'd appreciate your prayers.

In the meantime, the girls have become good friends--something we've been waiting for! Here they are on the swing at Papa and Nana's...and with the cousins Abby (left) and Rose (right).For my birthday, my parents took the family to the Georgia Aquarium complete with picnic. It was a great time for everyone, although Emmaleigh ate it up more than any of us. The post-aquarium picnic...the girls observing fish with Granddad's steadying hand guarding for falls...with Mom and Aunt Becs...with me in the exhausted Hannah at the end of the day...Thanks for the day, parents!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

second week in Zambia

It's been a good week since I've been back...mostly been working on the house and getting started with summer Wesley. Here's some pictures of the last week of the trip. This is Jean Claude, a student at the University of Zambia and president of Chi Alpha (a campus ministry). He attended Dave's conference last year and ,over dinner at our place, he told us about how he has started several discipleship groups at the college...

This is Jack (on the left) and Simon (on the right). We stayed in the guest house of a Baptist seminary surrounded by other small houses with the students and their families. I let them listen to my iPod the first day and these two boys, especially Simon, came around the house to play the rest of the week...
They were preparing to pave the road that led to the seminary. Dave and I walked down it everyday to get to the grocery store. The road had large rocks just below the level of the upcoming pavement, so about twice an hour you'd hear a boom and feel the shake as they blew them up with explosives! In this picture, you can see pedestrians on the right side of the road walking past the dust storm of a freshly exploded rock! While you might expect a road closure or something like that, they had a guy with a whistle and a red flag...unbelievable.
These are the pastors and deacons that we taught the second week (I'm taking the picture!). It was somewhat disappointing considering that the pastor setting up the conference told Dave that he'd be able to get more pastors than last year (25) and wasn't able to do so because of lack of forethought and pre-planning. The week was good, though, and those that came were extremely receptive to the material. We're not despising the day of small beginnings--the kingdom is yeast in the dough and a mustard seed...
Thanks so much for your prayers while I was away.

Friday, May 22, 2009


We finished up the conference for the pastors/deacons/church leaders in Lusaka today. We have a day tomorrow of rest and packing and then we'll head home Sunday! Thanks for your prayers. I'll post some pics when I get back.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesdays post...

So we got to Lusaka Monday at 10:30 in the morning. We were planning on talking with the Pastor who set up the conference here and then plan the week...we tried and didn't hear back from him until 8:45 that night. Most of the afternoon we were wondering if there was going to be a conference at all! Welcome to Africa! It worked out, though, and we just finished our second day of teaching. The pastors and deacons that we are teaching are really moving with us through the material well and seem to be responding really positively. They are not nearly as engaged in interacting with our questions or asking their own compared to the students last week, but its hard to describe the hunger of the students at the college. We'll be doing the same thing tomorrow and Friday, then resting on Saturday before leaving early Sunday for the long trip back! Keep praying for us!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The church plant turned out to be a house church in one of the 'compounds' just outside of Kitwe. The compound is where the poorest of the poor urban people live--the government provides a small lot and the people construct whatever form of house they can manage. The house that we worshiped in this morning was a small three room house. Walking in the door from the sunlight I could hardly see my hand in front of my face and I smelled only dirt. We sat walked through the kitchen area and into the living area where there were several old couches and a few straight-back chairs along the walls. The floors were dirt and the outer walls were clay bricks with a loose-concrete mortar. The church usually met up the road a bit in another home, but the wife of that house had just suffered a seizure and wasn't able to host the church. We were able to visit her and pray after the service. There was also a funeral in the community this morning, so the usual 30-40 counting children was whittled down to about 8 adults and 15-20 kids. After some singing they called me to preach, and I think I surprised them a bit when I asked if I could sit on the floor and teach the children before giving the message. I taught the kids from Matthew 19 and the adults the same thing that I shared in the previous church--sowing and reaping in the kingdom of God and how that sort of activity is opposed to the sowing and reaping of the kingdoms of the world (from Isaiah 9, Matthew 13, and Galatians 6). I was blessed to be a part of the small community there, only less than a year in existence. There was genuine life in the leaders Robert, Gertrude, and Blessed, and they were upbeat and hopeful about being able to reach the compound with the gospel. They blessed me even more by cooking a meal after church, chicken, rice and potatoes, an expensive meal in their context. The generosity and graciousness of the Zambian people continues to convict my heart.

Packed and Lusaka in the morning.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

a day of rest...

Dave and I had a good day of rest today--napped, prayed and read pretty much all day. It felt extravagant! We are both refreshed. We'll preach in two of the churches in the area tomorrow morning, take the afternoon to rest and pack and then head to Lusaka early Monday morning. I'll be preaching in the church-plant of one of the older students' that we taught this week, Moses. It is one of four that the main church has planted in the last few years. Thanks for your faithful prayers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

yesterday and today...

Just a warning, this will be a long one...

We finished up the teaching this afternoon at 5pm. It was a long week with 7 hours of teaching each day. The students continued to be extremely receptive to the idea of disciplemaking and even began to grasp some of the practical things we were teaching them--small group training, one-on-one training, how to prepare for an intentional discipleship program. Dave and I were encouraged as were Bonnie and Bennett, who said the students were extremely talkative after class and during breaks about the material and that this wasn't common for them. They also blessed us with a gift, a chitenge for our wives. It is the common skirt for women here, which is a large piece of cloth that is just wrapped around and tucked in. They also use it as a back-sack for carrying babies around or for a head wrap if they are carrying a basket of some kind any distance. This was such a moving gesture because of the cost and because Bonnie said that they have not given a gift to instructors in a very long time. They were obviously encouraged and complimentary beyond what is their already natural way of kindness and preference. It meant a lot to Dave and I, and even though we are very fatigued, the week was definitely very fruitful. These are the students that we taught, from top left: Paul (who wants to be a church planter), Brian (this was his last class before graduation and he will be a pastor in a local church here in Kitwe), Dave, Mark (will be one of the first to graduate from the new Master's program here and will be a pastor), Kelly (a pastor), Sylvia (who is a local pastor), Nathan (my friend), Moses (a very mature and well-respected local pastor), Owen, myself, Peter (who wants to work with orphans in Somalia); and on the ground from left: Davies (a military chaplain), Gerald, Kelvin (who will be going into national and foreign missions and church planting), Saviours, and Winston (who is a head pastor at a church plant that is 10 years old).As I mentioned, I ate at Nathan Chifuna's house last night. He cooked a veritable feast for me, and we had some good conversation and a good time of fellowship. Nathan is a passionate evangelist and disciple-maker, although he functions in an extremely high level in the gift of encouragement. It is always a pleasure to be around him and his family. Their gentleness and generosity is such a blessing.

Dave and I also had the priviledge of eating this evening with Matthews Fikati and Wilson Chabu. Matthews is on the left and Wilson on the right. The Zambian people as a whole are an extremely respect-oriented culture, and these two were better dressed than I'd ever seen them before out of courtesy to us.

They are part of a church here that is an especially missions oriented community. Matthews just returned a month or so ago from a mission trip to the Congo, and they are both also highly involved in planting a church in the 'bush' town called Serenge. There is a lot of demon possession there, traditional idol worship and the like.

When they have been there in the past, Matthews described his program (his daily schedule) like this: "I would preach and cast out demons from 9-12. Then I would take a break for some lunch and rest. Then I would have a bible study for those who had been converted in the morning."

At one point in his ministry there he was able to convert the local witch-doctor, which was a dangerous undertaking (because of the real power that is available through the demonic) and an obviously enormous victory for the kingdom. He said that the W.D. had a joo-joo over his door that enabled him to read the minds of those who walked in his home. So when Matthews came to confront him, he already knew his name, where he was from, etc. Matthews preached the gospel to him and after he confessed Christ, they went outside to burn all of his joo-joos. They then went into the hills behind his house where they turned over and burned the altar where the W.D. had been sacrificing to demons. Serious business.

I am always amazed at the humilty of my friends here and their unbelievable levels of faith and power in the Spirit. At another time, Matthews told the story of casting a demon out of a person that was, in his words, "not wanting to come out". He told me that they were in prayer continually for 8 hours for the man until he was made well, finishing matter-of-factly with "once you begin to cast out a demon, you do not stop until it is out, even up to one or two days."

The church in Serenje now has 23 members who meet together regularly and Matthews is going back in July with a group from his church to formally open the church.

Wilson is also in missions and is active in the church plant. He has been serving in a more pastoral role in the home church since his graduation, but is hoping to work with the Zulu of South Africa in the future. As of now, he is about to be the instructor at a local bible college on the book of Titus. They are both extremely zealous for the Lord and the advancing Kingdom. I am always encouraged to be around them.

Dave and I will be going to market tomorrow in the late morning and then taking some rest in the afternoon before preaching in two churches on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Today was good. We had a solid day of teaching...the second grade class interrupted at one point to bring us muffins and sing us happy birthday (Dave's was Sunday and mine was yesterday). So cute, just couldn't get my camera out in time! The students remain very receptive despite seven hours of teaching each day. They really have little concepts of any intentional disciple-making structure so they are extremely eager to learn as they realize that the goal of the Christian life is maturity and that we are called not only to evangelize (which they excel in) but to make mature disciples of Jesus. Like the U.S., they see the effects of a lack of mature Christians in the church on the lives of believers and on the reputation and influence of the church in the community. As leaders, they seem especially convinced by the lack of maturity in some of the church's leadership and are beginning to see how Jesus' way of discipleship is the way to go!

Here's a question I got today:
"So, you're saying that we should help new believers to have a good foundation of love and trust in Jesus...what if there is a polygamist who becomes a Christian? Should he shoo his second wife away? And what of his children? When the children of the wife he sends away make him tempted to get back with that woman, should he send them away also?"

That one led to a really great conversation about the role of the church and spiritual leaders/mentors/disciplers in helping a person deal with difficult ethical decisions about their new life in Christ. Its sometimes startling the contrast of issues. To let you know a bit about the situation, for example, in the States we want to train leaders mostly because people rotate in and out when they get tired of certain areas of ministry. Their need for new leaders here is because AIDS and other things have lowered the life expectancy in Zambia to 38.

In the 'not so good news' department, I found out last night that the economic situation has more than doubled the price of a large bag of cornmeal (the staple) in Zambia from K27000 to K60000 $4.90 to $10.90. So, if you're living on less than a dollar a day, which most people here are, you're now eating one meal a day instead of two. Makes me a little less whiny about our low support the last few months...

In any case, despite the conditions, the students are extremely hungry for the word and for instruction. We ate lunch today with two of our students, Peter and Paul (naturally!). One is looking to go into missions in the middle east and the other is hoping to be a church planter in the northern part of Zambia. I was also able to speak with Wilson Chabu, who is a a graduate of the school who I met last time we came. He walked an hour and a half from his home to the seminary to talk! He is involved with disciple-making and evangelism in a local church in the area and is looking to do missions in the U.S. or South Africa. He's waiting on the 'Lord's leading' which, for him, means he's waiting on an open door and the funds to go. I'll be eating with he and Matthews Fikati (another graduate) on Friday night and another of the students that I met the last time, Nathan Chifunda, is going to cook for me at his house tomorrow! I'll save the Wilson and Matthews stories for another night...they'll blow your mind.

Dave and I are doing well. The best tired possible! Thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Africa update...

Africa is spectacular! We traveled for 21 hours to get here on Friday and Saturday plus sitting/waiting time, so it took a bit of time for the fatigue of that to wear off. I preached through an interpreter in a church in the capital city on Sunday...crazy experience. They say you get used to doing it after a few times, but in the two times I've done it, I've had a hard time keeping my mind on track! Traveled again on Monday morning by bus to a city in the North called Kitwe and we had our first day of discipleship training at the bible college today. The students were extremely receptive (as they usually are). Much like the states, there is rarely any model in the church that intentionally develops people in Christlikeness or maturity in faith, however you want to say that. So, the church is full of evangelized converts who stay perpetually at a very infantile level of spirituality. All that to say...the students really see how the things we're teaching would really benefit their congregations. Most of them are either pastors already or training to be in full time ministry, so they are highly motivated to learn and grow.

Its always encouraging just to be here. We're at the "Christian Center for Missions" and they are such gracious hosts. Bennett and Bonnie are the married (just a year ago) co-directors of the bible college. Bonnie is a missionary from Alabama (15 years into it) and Bennett is a native Zambian man who has a passion for the church and disciple-making here. He planted a church several years ago as well. They are also developing a primary school on their base which is ikn the top 25% of the country's schools. I was able to do the devotion for the teachers this morning and its exciting to be able to observe the many ways that the kingdom is being advanced here. This is a longer post, so I'll knock off, but please be praying for my father-in-law, Dave and myself, for energy and endurance. We're both are teaching about 3-4 hours each day.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Headed back to Zambia praying for my father-in-law, Dave and I. We'll be teaching a course in practical discipleship to the students at a bible college and for pastors in the capital city. And pray for my wife who will have the kids by herself for two weeks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some pictures from the last couple of weeks

This boot is actually a cake that Carolyn made for one of our good friend's, Courtney Ficken, for her surprise 30th birthday! Amazing!It's spring, so I raked some pinestraw for our flower beds. Our neighbor has a stand of pines that is pretty clean underneath, so I got it done pretty quickly. While Carolyn spread it, I did some weed-eating...which is how I avoided the poison ivy (yikes!). Carolyn is very allergic to poison ivy. It's all over her arms. This is the 'best' shot of her left elbow...
Living in the country, we get several 'pet drops' a year. People don't want their dogs and cats and just drop them off by the side of the road. On the way back from raking the straw, I spied these two hound pups running and playing in the middle of the road. We're currently trying to give them to a couple of Wesley staffers but in the mean time, the girls are loving them. Hannah carries them around with little grunts..."huh...huh..." SO ADORABLE!!
And Emmaleigh...the first thing she asks in the morning is, "can I go play with the doggies?" and she has to tell them "good night" before she goes to bed. Really need to get rid of these dogs!
A few Easter pictures...

And a couple of 'waking up' pictures.
Carolyn came in one morning and Hannah was very naked and very pleased with herself. She was laughing and jabbering and exploring her diaper!
And a proud Emmaleigh a few days later...she made her bed all by herself for the first time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Leadership Interview Day

After months of planning and a few weeks of busy-work, our Leadership Interview Palooza was a HUGE success. 330 of our 370 Leadership students were interviewed in 8 hours. In years past, we've spread the interviews out over the month of April and its been all-consuming and overwhelming for our staff. So, we exchanged a hard month for a hard day--a good investment.
This is Bill and Michelle (two of our staff) who were integral in planning and executing the day. The papers in front of them are the stacks and stacks of applications, covenants, interview and evaluation sheets.

We had 20 stations set up for interviews, which were 20 minutes each.
Our main chapel was set up with a big obstacle course, games and snacks for fellowship. This pic was taken at before things kicked off (the room was more full during the day!).This will mean more to some of you than others, but I (for one) am EXTREMELY glad that the interviews were more timely...and are finished! It's been a really intense few weeks.