Snowed In

Posted January 12, 2011 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

“Forced Sabbath”
“Cabin Fever”
“Snowed In”
“Itchin’ to Get Out!”
“Stir Crazy!”

Over the past 72 hours, these are a few of the statements flying around Twitter & Facebook.  Here in the ATL (ok, actually Cartersville, GA) we got several inches of snow – and in some cases ice.  And because we obviously don’t have the equipment to clear the roads down here in the South, it sometimes renders us S-T-U-C-K.

2 quick things: First, I like that term “forced Sabbath”.  For many, this break in the 9-5 hustle and bustle caused a much needed SLOW DOWN.  Time to take a deep breath.  Time to not worry about that report due at the end of the week (you can’t drive to the office anyway!).  Time to pay more attention to the kids right in front of us…who, if we are honest, could use some more focused attention.  Time.  Just a little more time.  Reflecting on God’s goodness in our lives.

Second, these terms and these times like this remind me how sometimes our souls get stir crazy…and that’s a good thing.  Don’t you long to go on a mission trip?  To do something BIG?  To get away from the mundane and find more purpose and worth in your activities?  It’s the cabin fever of the mind.  The snowed in trap of boring American Christianity.  Maybe you don’t struggle with this.  Maybe you find 100% fulfillment in what you get to do everyday and you never get an itch to do anything different.  Not the case with me.  6 inches of snow brings about 6 inches of pileup in my head – thinking about where I’m at now and where God wants me to be in 6 months, 2 years, etc.  (Oakleaf Church mission statement there for those that don’t know. :))

So I suppose, in conclusion, I’d say I like times like this.  Reflection and Appreciation and Anticipation.  Family.  What’s God up to?  Are we available for Him?  Follow up on that stir craziness and do great things for the advancement…of not ourselves…but for His name and His glory.

Home Security

Posted January 3, 2011 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

I asked my 9 yr old the other night to shut the blinds on one of the downstairs’ windows.  It was bedtime and we were straightening up the playroom and winding down the day.  About an hour or so later I came back downstairs to realize that the door was unlocked.  Hmmm…interesting I thought.  Quite the oversight.  I had asked my son to shut the blinds to one of the windows so no one could see in – just a simple home security measure.  YET, I overlooked the fact that less than 10 feet away was a door that was left completely unlocked.

It got me thinking about how we sometimes parent.  We often try to shield our kids from stuff…and often wisely so.  Bad movies.  Bad video games.  The bad kid at school, etc.  But yet, like the unlocked door that was overlooked, we can miss the most obvious danger threatening our kid’s safety: the overwhelming fact that there is an ENEMY looking to destroy them.

If our lives are committed to Christ, we can expect spiritual warfare.  And not just on us, the adults.  Satan wants to destroy the family.  He wants to build up hatred in your kids – towards you, towards others, towards the church.  It’s real and can’t be ignored.

So yes, of course, look for the “blinds” in your kid’s life.  Look for the things that perhaps you can control and the Godly influences you can indeed put around them.  But while we do that, we must not overlook the unlocked door.  Let’s teach our kids the Word.  Pray over them daily.  Model for them a life sold out to following Jesus.  Don’t give the Devil a FOOTHOLD.  Make the JOSHUA declaration: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I heart QuikTrip

Posted April 1, 2010 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Here are a few reasons why the QuikTrip on Hwy 41 in Cartersville is better than any other gas station in the area.

1.  They take pride in having a clean store.  Most gas stations are dumps.  Dirty bathrooms, dirty floors, even dusty & dirty food sometimes.  Not QuikTrip.

2.  Only place in Carterville (that I can find) that offers free air for your tires.  Maybe not a huge deal to you, but I HATE spending 75 cents or a buck for 90 seconds of air.

3.  It always smells like hotdogs, which reminds me to pray for a dude (and his wife/kids/new ministry) that has an addiction to QT hotdogs:CLICK

4.  Lowest gas prices in town.  Walmart may be the only exception.

5.  Nobody comes close to their customer service.  Have never been in the store without being greeted as I walked in and as I walked to the counter.

So if anyone from corporate reads this and wants to give me a 1yr supply of free fountain drinks, thank you!  🙂

Outreach FAIL

Posted February 13, 2010 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

What I’m about to post is very ironic, considering my last post.  You may conclude I’m a hypocrite…no worries, I often draw the same conclusion.

Like many others this morning, me and the kiddos headed out to explore Cartersville and find a big hill.  Objective: Sledding (and snowball fights and getting wet…and cold).  We found a nice sized hill next to a church where others were already and decided to join in on the fun.  As we approached the group of adults & kids – about 10 of them – a man approached me with this, “Hey man, we are having our own family thing here but you can use that slope right there” (pointing to a smaller hill about 50 yards away).  My first immediate thought was I’ve stepped on to private property and he’s just kindly telling me so.  My second thought – exactly half a second after the first one – was YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME as I surveyed the TON of space and the FEW people utilizing it.

I really wish it was just a property issue.  Unfortunately it’s much worse.

“Oh, I’m sorry, is this your property?” I asked.  He said no and then continued, “But it’s church property and I’m a member.” He then reminded me that they’re just trying to do a “family thing”.  He could tell by my silence and facial expression that the conversation was going downhill – pun intended.  All I could think was BITE YOUR TONGUE SUTTON.  Don’t be stupid.  Let it go.  Just walk away.  Instead, I replied, “You got to be kidding me” as I looked to my right and left as if to say “all this room and you’re going to stake your claim to a hill that doesn’t belong to you?!”

As I turned to walk away and head toward our smaller patch of paridise, one more thing came out.  I’m still discerning if it was of the flesh or of the Spirit (ha).  “Cmon kids, the church people don’t want us here” I said.  I wanted the weight of that to land on this dude.  I wanted him to think I was an unchurched guy and that he had just blown an opportunity.  Most likely though, it didn’t.  He never came over to apologize and they continued with their “family outing”.  It perhaps only gave me an opportunity to try and explain to my kids what I was attempting.

Maybe I’m missing something.  Maybe there’s something within this story I’m not grasping.  But from best I could tell, it’s an outreach fail (and a reaction fail on my part).  I couldn’t help but think about how many of the friends I’m blessed to know at Oak Leaf would have reacted if they had been in this guy’s shoes and a stranger had walked up.  “Hey, cmon over!  Can I help you with your sled?  What’s your name?  We got a table with hot chocolate over there.  Watch out for that big grassy patch.  You live around here?  Go to church anywhere?”

No need in naming the church…and no need in trying to blame them for one of their members being a twerp.

Bonus: Wonder if I should tell the church that this same member later brought out a 4 wheeler that made quite an impression on their landscaping?  🙂

Putting Down

Posted February 9, 2010 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

During my exciting errand this morning of going to purchase stamps, I was listening to talk radio.  In the middle of the normal he said-she said gunk, an interesting parallel developed in front of me…one that personally hit (convicted) me right between the eyes.

Putting Others Down: Not Just A Bad Idea For Politicians

At times it can be extremely popular for a politician to “turn” on their own.  I’m not talking about completely switching parties, but rather verbal jabs and putdowns toward their own in order to gain political favor…or so they think.  Many are doing so because they think it will A. Gain some merit from a needed few in the other party to help push through a piece of legislation or B. Gain more votes from independents or even opposite party voters.  THE REALITY THOUGH: It rarely works.  In fact, in this current political climate, people are fet up with the trashing of others.  The historical blame game is losing momentum, and fast.

But enough about politics.  I’m not going to pretend to know more than I do. (I’m your typical sound byte American. Ha.)  There is an unfortunate parallel with those who profess Christ.  We are often guilty for putting down other Christians, thinking it will gain favor with those “like minded” believers around us or even crazy enough to think it strikes a common bond with unbelievers who hear our garbage mouths.  Seriously, this is a bad strategy.  Trust me, I’ve been foolish enough to try it.  Oh, no, I didn’t sit down and plan it out on paper…it comes much easier…in everyday conversations.  “Yeah, but you have to admit, there is CRAZY stuff out there done in ‘the name of the Lord!”  I agree.  And to some extent, it’s OK to judge harmful, unbiblical speech and teach our children the difference.  But I’m referring to the unnecessary negative talk we toss out there that’s in no way Christ-like or even remotely smart.

So I’m trying to learn John 13:34-35 in a new way.  It’s one the most powerful weapons God gave us.  For many of us, it’s what drew us to Christ in the first place…seeing others care for each other and respect each other like never before.  Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that putting down a Christian is going to attract a nonbeliever or please God in any way.  Let’s instead use something that seems to be void from politics…something that stands out and grabs attention better than any good slogan: True Love.

Lawnmowers & Problems

Posted August 14, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

My cheap lawnmower reminded me of an important life lesson yesterday.  While cutting the grass I mowed over a plastic cup…actually a piece of a plastic cup.  The end result?  Well yeah, of course, a bazillion pieces of plastic cup all over my yard.  Not cool. 

We often (especially dudes) try to plow through our problems.  We figure if we hit them direct enough, hard enough, and with a big ole weapon (think lawn mower), then we can snuff it out in time or grind it away and destroy it.  And perhaps certain issues call for that.  But in my experience – only 32 years, don’t get too excited – we only complicate the problem because our weapon of choice just spreads the problem…and now we are picking up the pieces of a bad situation.  What could have been solved by stopping, picking up the problem in front of us and disposing of it properly has now resulted in extra time doing damage control.

Two examples that come to mind…perhaps because I’ve dealt with them in my own life…1. Anger/Temper: Your emotions tell you that you are solving the issue by controlling it, but REALITY is screaming, “Wow, look how far you’ve now spread this!” 2. Listening to your wife.  Don’t act dumb dudes.  You know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.  :–) Those times where your wife is simply just wanting you to listen to her…to hear her out…NOT try and be a problem solver.  Not quickly come in and run over her with a lawn mower.  (Ok, that was a weird statement.) 

Stop.  Think.  Turn off the blade if necessary.  Better to pick up one piece – isolated prob – than 47 shreds.

Speaking The Language

Posted August 12, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s always baffled me why sports talk radio shows and popular sports TV shows hire former athletes…and former coaches.  Most of them are absolutely horrific in broadcasting or commentating.  But I’ve realized they are brought on for 2 primary reasons:  1.  Their popularity helps with ratings.  2.  They speak the language. 

This was illustrated for me while driving to Zaxby’s today for lunch (YUM!).  I was flipping through stations and came across a sports talk show.  The former athlete (who’s name I’ll protect…ok, I can’t remember who it was) was talking about the Braves.  After 15 seconds of listening to him, I realized just how much he spoke Baseballnese.  After all, he had lived and breathed and inhaled it for most of his life.  He knew every nuance of the game.  If it’s anything remotely related to baseball, he can speak it.

We no doubt surround-intentionally and unintentionally-ourselves with people who speak our language – in politics, sports, love, television…you name it.   After all, we love it when we meet people who love what we love (that was 3 loves by the way).  BUT, I think it’s EXTREMELY healthy to often be around those that can’t or won’t speak our language.  It can only help you grow.

An example?  Sure.  If you’ve always grown up in the South, leave for heaven’s sake (said with a southern draw)…at least on a trip up north or out west. MORE specifically, if you’ve only experienced church in the south, then PLEASE see what God is doing elsewhere (in and out of the U.S.).  Why?  Mostly because Christianese is not spoken-at least to the same degree-that it is here.  And I think that’s a good thing.

What language are we speaking?  One that only a “fellow brother or sister” would understand?  Or one that has so much grace in it that all would turn an ear.  A language that prioritizes our likes and dislikes over the One we claim to follow?  Or a speech that clearly shows where our devotion lies.

It Still Blows My Mind

Posted August 8, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s never gotten old.  In fact, it makes this adventure called Following Christ much more mysterious and wonderful.  I’m talking about those rare pop-up ministry opportunities.  Those moments when you are going about your biz…grocery shopping, driving to work, in line at the bank…and God drops something right in your face.  A person.  A phone call.  A thought you can’t shake.  You know it’s the Holy Spirit.  You know you must stop what you’re doing.  You know you must act. 

I know, I know.  I hear you.  Yes, of course we should always be LOOKING for these ministry opps…after all, God is ALWAYS at work around us.  But what I’m pointing out are these random OBVIOUS moments like I experienced today. 

In the mall with wife and 4 kids.  Deciding if we want chemically altered chicken from one of the 14 different Asian chow places in the food court or if we go with the christian chicken, or ride the subway, or ring the bell.  In the middle of the kid’s shouting their opinions I hear a “hey, how are y’all?”  It was a family we had met a few times before through a mutual friend.  What started as a hello ended up being a “pray for our family because…”

2.5 hours later, getting in the car to head back to Cville, I couldn’t get over several things.  God had us in that exact spot in that exact moment to run in to those exact people.  Yeah, some small coincidence, eh?  I love how He operates.  I love how He drops things in your lap and says, “Sit, listen, pray, comfort, minister, care for my people.”  And the 2nd thing I couldn’t get over:  how He uses us.  “Us” as in selfish people like me.  Seriously, it’s not always easy to shutup about yourself long enough SO THAT you can care for someone going through something bad…as in way bad…as in, you realize just how blessed you are. 

So we did just that.  Altered our plans, realizing why God had placed us in a mall (that we normally avoid) on an August Saturday afternoon.  To listen.  To get to know a family.  And for whatever it was worth, offer some comfort.  To learn ourselves.  To care for others like scripture begs of us.

Hope I never get over how God operates.
Hope I’m always ever aware of the opportunities that surround me and my family every day.
Blows my mind.

She wanted “normal” church

Posted August 2, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Tuesday night.  Sitting on the couch after eating some lasagna.  Me and kiddos watching cartoons and getting ready to leave for OLU (Oak Leaf University) classes.  My 4yr old daughter, Kinley, wants to know the plan for the night: “Daddy, are we going to have normal church tonight?”  I didn’t grasp what she meant at first.  But through a series of followup questions, I realized she was asking if there would be a lesson, video, and worship…or if it would just be a movie and a snack.  I explained that it would not be “normal” church that night, instead they would just chill and watch a movie.  “Oh”, she says, with a look of disappointment.

She got up and went to her room.  After about 60 seconds she returns and says, “Daddy, I just prayed.”  Ahhh, how sweet.  Very cool.  Dad is proud….but she wouldn’t tell me what she prayed for!  She was being shy about it, but I eventually coaxed it out of her.  “I prayed that church would be normal tonight.”

A few things here:  First, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE that a child of mine craved the lesson, worship, and small group time over playing and watching a movie.  (Never a guarantee they would choose that again, eh?)  In her words, “You know Daddy…normal…where we sit in a circle and talk, and jump on stage and sing.”  Second, it further confirms that the elementary ministry is heading in the right direction.  The volunteers of that area are goofy and love Jesus.  A dangerous combination!  :^)

It was a cool moment that I hope to see played out in her life for years to come.  My prayer for her and all my children and for every kid is that “normal” for them becomes choosing Worship over Entertainment, Giving over Getting, Service over Apathy, and always always always the desire to follow Jesus over any of the bazillion Distractions of this world.

Reminder:  Let’s model this for them.

Why I’m Leaving Oak Leaf Church…And Why You Should Too

Posted July 30, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Today is my last official day on staff at Oak Leaf.  The past 15 months have been an incredible growing experience.  I can easily say that I’ve learned more about God’s heart, more about ministry, more about myself, and more about reaching kids and families over this time than ever before.  Daily being around the great people of Oak Leaf simply just rocks your world – spurring you towards bold things…towards His agenda and not yours.  I love these people.  I love this place.  I love this community.

So why leave?  Because God told me to.  (And then confirmed it in 387 different ways so a simple dude like myself would not miss the clues.)  Super brief version:  Went on a mission trip.  Stirring in heart/soul/mind.  Great conversations with Michael about finding “right seat on bus”.  Final determination that I’M CALLED right now to serve in this place as a volunteer and not in a staff position.  That I’m called right now to re-enter the business world.  And that I’m called to discover how I can best use my gifts in ministry to impact a defunct and hurting world.  God is leading me and the fam from where we are to where He wants us to be!  (Sounds familiar, huh?)  It’s scary and super exciting all in one!

Oh, the play on words?  Yeah, thanks, I thought it was catchy too. 🙂  I am not leaving the church, just my staff position.  Oh, and the “you should leave too” part?  Yeah, check this out:

Leave your inactivity and boldly JUMP IN – serve on a volunteer team and watch God grow your faith like crazy!

Leave your tradition and accept the new things God is doing through this church in this community.

Leave your fears about inviting your lost friends to church and just do it already…as in right now!

Leave your checkbook where it belongs – with God.  It’s all His anyways.  Tithe.  Sell stuff.  Give to those who have nothing.  Then give more.  (I’m learning this in all new ways myself.)

God has big stuff in store for Oak Leaf and the community it serves.  God has positioned the right people in the right places of leadership to accomplish the hard work on hand.  I’m thankful to play my role and anticipate big bold things as we do what’s necessary…because of what’s at stake.

Final Thoughts from 30,000ft

Posted July 29, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Last 2 thoughts I had flying back from Trinidad:

The fuel of youth. When teenagers get behind a movement or idea, crazy things can (should) happen.  Church history shows us that MANY great movements of God were ignited and sustained by young people.  It never gets old seeing students give willfully of their time, energy, money and gifts in ministry.  Knowing all their available distractions, it never gets old to see them choose Christ.  As leaders, lets never forget our Biblical mandate to pass on a zeal for Jesus to the next generation.

Use every available media. So I’m standing in a driveway of home that barely has indoor plumbing, in the middle of Trinidad (seems like a jungle to me)…and the dude asks, “Hey man, are you on facebook?”  We should use every available tool at our disposal to connect with believers and nonbelievers.  Missions has changed over the past decade with the advancement of new media.  Churches that shy away from good media…in fear that it “waters down” the Word…are missing great opportunities to further reach people.  Find what fits your ministry and USE IT.

30,000ft Thoughts…part III

Posted July 23, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

2 more things mission trips tend to teach/remind us:

Never forget the orphaned & widowed. May we never become a “holiday only” ministry.  In other words, the needs of the hungry & homeless never go away.  The cries of starving children are heard by our Father every morning, afternoon and night…shouldn’t we hear them too?  Let’s give sacrificially oversees.  Let’s give sacrificially here at home.  Let’s give now.  Not just money, but our time, energy…our voice….our homes.  James 1:27 should bug us to death.  If we claim to have the love of God in us, then we should prove it by caring for “the least of these”.

Personal agenda aside. Want to hijack a mission trip quick?  Want to chip away at the foundation of a ministry?  Then decide to care more about yourself and your own comfort then you do about others and the Kingdom Agenda.  Please be about Jesus.  Please be about the Gospel.  Please be only about these things.  If there’s a secret part of you that starves for the attention brought on by successful speaking engagements or hints somewhere within in you to push or promote yourself for selfish gain, then find a new career.  Lost people don’t need another great communicator.  People hellbound don’t need to buddy up with Christians who have hidden agendas.  They get enough deception at work or at home.  They need genuiness.  They need authenticity.  They need to see Christ in us, so no room for personal agendas – after all, we forfeited those at the very moment of our salvation.

30,000ft Thoughts…contd

Posted July 22, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

The American Dream is a an American Waste. I love our country, my country.  I’m a patriotic dude…but that doesn’t mean I won’t speak the truth to fellow followers of Christ.  If you’ve bought in to the American Dream, please stop.  It’s a waste of valuable time and resources.  When you are oversees and see this principle with your own eyes, you want to throw up.  We indeed do have it so good.  You know all the stats.  So why waste your time storing things up for yourself?  Why the bigger house and better car?  Why so defensive about your “rights” to such rich and valuable things?  You have no rights.  Please give everything away.  Please pursue success in your job SO THAT you can be a blessing to more.

I pray we become chasers of a new dream.  A dream of generosity.  May we be known as a people of givers, not collectors.  Not those who store.  Don’t waste talents and gifts.

Get your hands dirty! Mission trips are hard work.  But you don’t mind the sweat and tiredness.  What is being accomplished is worth the cost.  This work ethic must remain constant.  There’s no substitute for hard work.

30,000ft Thoughts

Posted July 21, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Was flipping through my journal that I took to Trinidad and came across some thoughts I jotted down as we flew back to the states.  Here’s some things that I think most people learn from mission trips.  8 total, here’s the first 2:

AcceptanceIf you’re not in to diversity, if you’re not in to people different than yourself, if you can’t seem to have a healthy respect for other cultures, then you are really gonna hate heaven!  Visiting a foreign land for the first time (or even a different region in the US) can be eye opening and a very healthy experience.  This principle of acceptance screams that God loves everyone and that Jesus died for all.  Accept others…after all, God accepted you just as you are.

UncomfortableNot routine, out of the ordinary, outcome unknown.  On mission trips, it’s often the weather and the food.  Inland it may be the risk in sounding weird to your friends or stepping up in your church or shifting your schedule or finances toward more God honoring things. Following Christ and reaching the disadvantaged and poor and sharing your faith and living an audacious life will not be comfortable.  Be unusual.  The more uncomfortable, the better.

Be a superstar model

Posted May 14, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

I recently chatted with our worship leader Matt about engaging today’s youth.  Matt leads on Sunday mornings and also Wednesday nights at Fuel.  His heart bleeds passion for God…passion for others to see and understand and “get it”…a desire for others to stand in awe of who God is and have a heartfelt response…WORSHIP.

So naturally, seeing how he attempts to lead youth in this arena, there are frustrations.  There are times when you question if all the rehearsals and lyrics and in-between-songs scripture reading is worth it.  If kids are just going to talk and text, why keep up the sustained effort of leading them to an encounter with Almighty God?

As I stood down front last night at our first Fuel service at the House of Rock, singing out songs of praise as loud as I could, this recent conversation and these recent questions flooded my mind.  I stood among these middle schoolers and high schoolers and one single thought could not escape my heart – It Must Be Modeled For Them.

As with many things in life, if we want young people to grasp something, it must be more than taught, or said, or simply commanded.  We must model what we so crave for them.  If we want kids to have an all consuming love for Jesus and to genuinely engage in worship, then we ourselves need to model that for them.

Bottom Line:  If we are frustrated that kids are not engaging in worship, I think it’s wise for us to first stop and evaluate what kind of healthy examples we see around them.  Is there anyone (adult, small group leader, parent, anyone) modeling a kind of faith for them that will stick?  Is there anyone in their immediate circle that lives audaciously enough?…showing that Christ is relevant on Monday through Saturday too?  Is there an older student or anyone challenging them to get rid of sin so they can engage God with their whole heart?

Step up.
Be a superstar model.

Where Have U Been?

Posted May 14, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Hubby, Dad, Family Pastor – getting in to a new building.
I Twitter all the time.  Be back soon, maybe.  🙂

Motive Matters

Posted April 22, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Michael wrapped up Sunday’s sermon by pointing out our motive matters (in regards to drinking alcohol).  I thought about how that applies to education.  My oldest son Braden (7) is finishing up his year end school testing this week.  As great as many of the teachers are in his school and others in this area, I still often wonder about motives during this time of year.  After all, there’s no doubt our education system is flawed.

Everything centers around a test score.  How the students score on this one test can affect salaries, funding, and a variety of other issues.  Perhaps this is the best way to judge whether something is working…don’t ask me, I was educated in North Alabama.  🙂  But what I don’t like about this system is how it can shift the motive from caring about the individual success of each and every student to a focus on doing whatever it takes to “get those scores up!”.

But don’t think this matter of motive is restricted to our educational system.  The church struggles with this.  In children’s ministry we have to check our motives weekly.  Am I choosing this particular curriculum because it is the best method to lead kids to Jesus, or is my motive to find something easy?  Am I trying to appease parents, or am I sticking to the God given mission & calling for my ministry?  Do I truly care about the spiritual development of each and every child, or am I more concerned with how things appear to my boss?

Motive matters.

Defender of Kids

Posted April 16, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

Couldn’t shake several thoughts today.  I always want to be a person that defends kids…defends the importance of family.  And let me stop here for a second.  I often feel guilty because I’m not always the best father myself.  I blow it sometimes with my kids.  And we are all a little hypocritical sometimes because we say AMEN when someone exclaims “family first!”; yet if we put our schedule on a spreadsheet it would show some frightening results.

With that said, however, here are some thoughts I couldn’t shake today:

  • The Church has a great opportunity to show (not just say) they value kids to the society around them.  Never forget, we live in a time that “endangered” animals often get more sympathy and attention than hurting kids.
  • “I just don’t like kids.” I seriously hear this way too much.  I know some people are just…as they put it…trying to be honest, but allow me to translate that statement:  “I’m so self absorbed that I can’t imagine trying to give my time away like that.”  An even better translation:  “I have zero understanding of what the Bible has to say about the importance and role of kids and family.”
  • Defend the innocent.
  • Protect the abused.
  • Feed the starving.
  • My great wife and I are re-thinking our current schedule, re-thinking how our kids are educated, and emphasizing to each other the importance of our parenting.


  • We are so quick to stand up for so many things, aren’t we?  We will protest taxes (forgot to send my tea bag to Washington…oops).  We will defend our favorite college football team until we pass out.  We will argue for particular worship styles.  And we will easily defend time consuming hobbies or even jobs that rob us of time with our kids – time that is eternally gone.  Maybe we should stop for a sec and remember who we are and what we are called to.  Defend those who are often silenced and “burdensome”.  Defend their importance.  Start with your own.

Psalm 68:5-6 (click it)

Worth A Thousand Words

Posted April 14, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized


Recently I captured the above pic on my camera phone.  If there’s one picture that communicates the past 2.5 years of Oak Leaf kid’s ministry, it’s this one.  It’s a bunch of sweaty dudes, stopping early in the morning to pray because they realize their volunteer work goes far beyond the banners and puzzle piece flooring.  They understand that what will take place in the room they helped build is eternal.  And so they pray for God’s favor.

Oh sure, I have plenty of other great pics too.  Kids playing and singing.  Teachers smiling and hi-fiving.  But in our history of being portable, this about sums up our heart.  And no, this isn’t a planned thing.  These guys started doing this on their own.  They are some of the best dudes on planet earth. It’s an honor to serve with them each week.

In KidVenture, we will always strive to improve what is taught.  We will continually improve the environments.  We will push for fun.  And at the core of who we are as a ministry, we will always work hard – having a work ethic like these guys.  Hard work & prayer, love it.


Posted April 6, 2009 by jonathan sutton
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Fuel Preservice Loop I HERE

And the 2nd one HERE

(must be really really bored to 1/2 way enjoy them)

OLC’s Preschool Director

Posted April 3, 2009 by jonathan sutton
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Having devoted more than two decades of my life and all of my professional skills to studying and working with ministries of all types, I am now convinced that the greatest hope for the local church lies in raising godly children. Barna

Celebrate with me!  Oak Leaf has a Preschool Director!  Rebekah Britt has agreed to lead this OH SO VITAL ministry of our church.  Below are some fun facts about Bekah:

  • Engaged to Matt Warren (cool dude above) – Wedding is in June!
  • Primarily grew up in GA
  • Both her and Matt are Berry College grads
  • Degree is in Family Life Education
  • She likes dark chocolate, ice cream and the color green
  • Spent a summer in Romania doing missions
  • Passion #1:  To see families function together to serve the Lord
  • Passion #2:  To see children grow and develop into who God made them to be

This is a huge answered prayer and we anticipate what her and Matt will do for God’s glory.  Be sure to congratulate her on Sunday!

Bekah can be reached at

Faith in Action

Posted April 2, 2009 by jonathan sutton
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My good friend Stephen Hauck documents his mission trip to Honduras…on the local Birmingham news (where he is an anchor).

Great story.  Great to see it make the evening news.

Click HERE (video on upper right hand corner)

Fair Weather

Posted March 31, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

I’ve noticed something recently in my beloved town of Cartersville.  It’s hard to miss –  they seem to be everywhere.  What am I talking about?  Church signs? nope.  Easter eggs? nope, not yet.  Banks?  That blog will come later.

Fair weather bama and florida fans.  Oh boy, here we go…an angry Auburn fan. Well just hold your horses cowboy, let me explain.  Here’s why I’m making this claim:  The car tags and flags and logos of these two teams are everywhere (as in you once NEVER saw them around here and now they are on 1 out of every 400 cars).  Seriously, though, with the recent success of the two teams (especially Florida) you have fair weather fans pimpin’ out their rides with all the gator and tide stuff you can handle.

Ahhhh, Jonathan, they’ve always been there, you’ve just never noticed until now. Wrong.  For starters, I’m extremely observant.  Also, you can obviously tell these are brand new tags.  Don’t get me wrong, EVERY team has fair weather fans…even my Tigers.  I just think it’s interesting to see the plethara of “new fans”.

As I was driving down Tennessee street this morning and observing a few of these tags, it got me thinking about the church and it’s fair weather fans (attenders).  It’s rather sad.  The pattern is comically similar.  When the church does something good in their eyes (right song choice, correct paint color) they are quick to raise the church banner.  Things are on a high.  Inviting is easy.  Serving is easy.  The buy-in is solid.  They are one of the biggest cheerleaders around.

But the moment a decision is disagreed with…the car tag comes off.  The flags go back in the garage.  And worst yet, the attitudes flare.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have disagreements.  Believe me, you can’t hang around our staff without seeing healthy disagreements.  But what I am pushing here is when these moments arise, don’t overreact (I’m speaking from experience here).  Don’t discard everything God has done through you at your church.  And don’t immediately dismiss the leadership and call everyone stupid…like being at a Kentucky basketball game when the team is struggling.

So support the mission of your church, even when things don’t make complete sense.  If you’ve bought into the God-sized vision of the church, then don’t jump ship 1/2 way through.  Don’t be a fair weather fan that bases your support off every “play” you see…after all, mistakes will happen…something will rub you wrong…and you won’t always understand the method behind the madness.  But stay bound to the place God has called you to serve & give & worship & lead.

On The Line

Posted March 29, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

I shared with the Theater 12 Production Team this morning a quick devotional thought about what’s on the line.  Last week I was able to meet a dude that had a lot of family issues pressing in on him.  We had a great conversation and I was glad to learn he had been visiting OLC for several weeks.

As we prepped for our service today, God brought him back to mind.  His situation seemed fresh as ever in my head.  I thought about what was on the line for him in these recent days.  I thought about his first visit…and every 1st time guest…and the possible things that hang in the balance: their perception of God and church, their overall impression of OLC, how they are greeted, did they find the grace of God?

It’s so important that we give our best every week, isn’t it?!  MUCH is on the line.  MUCH is hanging in the balance.  And the beauty of it:  God simply asks us to give our best and trust Him with the results.  We can’t save souls or force people to immediatey learn how to worship.  But we can be faithful with giving our absolute best every week, not settle for mediocre, and know that God will continue to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things!

Bonus:  I enjoy working for a pastor like Michael who constantly reminds us of what’s on the line.  He pushes the vision hardcore and preaches that God deserves our absolute best.

KidVenture Feedback

Posted March 23, 2009 by jonathan sutton
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Oak Leafers:  Click on the link below to fill out a KidVenture Feedback form.  Thanks!  We value your opinions ans suggestions.


On Their Level——————->will look different

Posted March 20, 2009 by jonathan sutton
Categories: Uncategorized

One of the things that stood out to me from the Unleash Conference was the emphasis that Newspring puts on teaching kids about Jesus “on their level”.  They have obviously worked very hard to show these kids that Jesus is relevant in their world.

I thought about this principle the other night at my 6 yr old’s soccer game.  The league he is playing in does things very different from a “normal” (adult) soccer game.  Upon first seeing these differences, I was kinda bummed…thinking it wouldn’t work.  After all, it didn’t “look” right.  The goalie does not touch the ball.  The field is 1/4 the size.  There are no goal kicks.  There are no throw-ins…whenever the ball goes out of bounds, one of the coaches simply throws a ball down and says, “play on”.  Instead of 1 hour games it’s always 30 minutes of practice and 30 minutes of a game.

But after a few weeks of being up at the fields, I’m beginning to see the benefits of these actions.  I especially like the no throw in rule.  Having the coaches roll a ball out keeps play continuous.  The action rarely slows down and never stops – therefore keeping the kids engaged and never bored.

Kid’s ministry on a Sunday morning should look different than an adult service.  It should feel different.  Sound different.  And even have different objectives.  We should always resist any temptation to make it look like an adult service.

Yes, they are learning about the same loving God.  Yes, they can worship Him.  Yes, the Bible is still taught.  But it is wise for us to always remember they are on a different playing field.

Family Ministry Model

Posted March 19, 2009 by jonathan sutton
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Why? (good read)

A Parent’s Love

Posted March 19, 2009 by jonathan sutton
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Posted March 18, 2009 by jonathan sutton
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Great read on discipleship HERE

Parent Priority

Posted March 10, 2009 by jonathan sutton
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Good stuff HERE