You’re Great!

This week in my message I spoke about developing healthy relationships.  One of the keys to a healthy relationship is to be grateful of other people.  We will experience more joy/happiness in our life if we get into the habit of complementing people.  As an action step I challenged us to compliment everyone we spoke to this week.


  • They will be more joy-filled as you express what you appreciate about them.
  • It helps us focus on positive instead of negative things which will help us experience more joy.
  • I think we will feel God’s presence more fully as we are intentional about complimenting others.

How can we compliment everyone we talk to each day?

  • Comment on something they do and let them know you appreciate it.
  • Look for a positive attitude behind the action and applaud that.
  • Watch for something they may be proud of and compliment about that.  (i.e. what a nice dog.)
  • If you are totally stumped ask God to show you something positive to say.

As you compliment people this week let me know about your experience by commenting below or on Facebook.  I look forward to hearing your stories.



The Future is Now!

Wednesday night I was walking around the building and it was so exciting to see the future TODAY!  What do I mean by that?  We are a church that believes every person has been made for community and that we all do best in a circle of relationships.  That is one of the reasons we emphasize the importance of being a part of a small group, (a group of 5-15 people who share life and help each other grow spiritually.)  Many of the adults who attend here belong to one of our small groups.  The “hole” in our thinking has been that we didn’t have any groups for children and teens outside of one high school group.  Children’s Pastor, Amanda Marshall, and youth pastor, Evan Brownell, along with Merritt Badeau, a long time volunteer and leader, recognized that gap and began to work on fixing that. Last fall we started “Kid’s Small Groups” that meet in the building on Wednesday nights.  Next month we will launch a restructured youth group based on the importance of small groups.  

Wednesday when I walked around the building I saw several adult groups meeting here.  BUT I also got to experience the kid’s groups.  They were full of energy and laughter.  I saw kid’s having fun and building relationships that are centered around Jesus.  It was awesome!  It could change their future and it IS changing their today.

Our kids are not “the church of the future.”  They are the church of today.  It is a big win when they build of circle of relationships now.

How has being a part of a small group helped you? 



Howdy Partner

This weekend was an exciting weekend for me. I literally got goose bumps as I watch 100s of people file up front, to publicly commit to “journey with Jesus with this group of people and do these kinds of things” for the next year.

It is thrilling to know at all our sites we are unified in our desire to grow and our commitment to each other. There is power in that kind of momentum and healthy direction in the declaration.

What I have done over the years to help maximize my partnership declaration are the following:

  • Take some time THIS week to assess where you are at in each area.
  • Make a specific plan of how to grow in each area.
  • Review the declaration every month to keep focus.
  • Every time you see it on the wall in the lobby, ask God to help you grow.

I think 2014 can be a year we can avoid the swamp of spiritual stuckness!

(B.T.W.- If you missed service this weekend and want to sign the Partnership Declaration, it will be in the lobby at Cicero & Auburn, and in the office at Syracuse)

Healthy Marriage?

The relationship with our spouse is one of the relationships that most effects our life.  When it is going well it gives us strength and when it is toxic it can sap us.

I wasn’t able to say much about marriages in last week’s message on Radioactive Relationships because of time.  But, I ran across a very helpful article on keeping marriage strong.  I think you will find it helpful.

10 Habits of Happy Couples
by Dr. Mark Goulston
What does it take to be happy in a relationship? If you’re working to improve your marriage, here are the 10 habits of happy couples.

1. Go to bed at the same time.  
Remember the beginning of your relationship, when you couldn’t wait to go to bed with each other to make love? Happy couples resist the temptation to go to bed at different times. They go to bed at the same time, even if one partner wakes up later to do things while their partner sleeps. And when their skins touch it still causes each of them to tingle unless one or both are too completely exhausted to feel sexually excited.

2. Cultivate common interests
.  After the passion settles down, it’s common to realize that you have few interests in common. But don’t minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. If common interests are not present, happy couples develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting to your mate and prevent you from appearing too dependent.

3. Walk hand in hand or side by side.  
Rather than one partner lagging or dragging behind the other, happy couples walk comfortably hand in hand or side by side. They know it’s more important to be with their partner than to see the sights along the way.

4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode.  
If and when they have a disagreement or argument, and if they can’t resolve it, happy couples default to trusting and forgiving rather than distrusting and begrudging.

5. Focus more on what your partner does right than what he or she does wrong.  
If you look for things your partner does wrong, you can always find something. If you look for what he or she does right, you can always find something, too. It all depends on what you want to look for. Happy couples accentuate the positive.

6. Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work
.  Our skin has a memory of “good touch” (loved), “bad touch” (abused) and “no touch” (neglected). Couples who say hello with a hug keep their skin bathed in the “good touch,” which can inoculate your spirit against anonymity in the world.

7. Say “I love you” and “Have a good day” every morning.  
This is a great way to buy some patience and tolerance as each partner sets out each day to battle traffic jams, long lines and other annoyances.

8. Say “Good night” every night, regardless of how you feel
.  This tells your partner that, regardless of how upset you are with him or her, you still want to be in the relationship. It says that what you and your partner have is bigger than any single upsetting incident.

9. Do a “weather” check during the day
.  Call your partner at home or at work to see how his or her day is going. This is a great way to adjust expectations so that you’re more in sync when you connect after work. For instance, if your partner is having an awful day, it might be unreasonable to expect him or her to be enthusiastic about something good that happened to you.

10. Be proud to be seen with your partner
.  Happy couples are pleased to be seen together and are often in some kind of affectionate contact — hand on hand or hand on shoulder or knee or back of neck. They are not showing off but rather just saying that they belong with each other.


The Small Group Jump

Last weekend I spoke about relationships and how they can damage us.  My point was to help recognize toxic relationships and to encourage you to back-away from them.  Then, once you’ve done that, to begin cultivating healthy relationships.

A great place to find healthy relationships is in a small group!  Have you jumped into one this week?  How was it?  Do you need to look at your choice of group again?  Or, do you need help deciding which group might be best for you?  The people listed below would be glad to help you find a small group at your site.

If you jumped into a small group let us know how it went.



As we turn the page and move into 2014, take some time to think about how you’d like to grow in the new year.  Every year I take time to evaluate where I am personally and professionally.  Then, in dialogue with God, I try to figure out where I should be.  I then make some goals to get there.  I’d encourage you to do the same.  The best way to make goals that work is to be S.M.A.R.T.

Specific:  Be clear and precise.  Should be simple and easy to describe.

Measurable:  Quantify it.  You need to know when you’ve reached your goal.

Attainable:  Be sure the goal is not too far out but one you realistically can reach.

Relevant:  It’s worth the effort.  Reflects who you are and what you value

Time-bound: Have a target date for completion.


Let me know at least one of your goals for 2014.







When God Whispers To Us

This last weekend we had a bunch of services at the Vineyard Church.  Many words were spoken.  In the Lobby there were lots of conversations with laughter and love laced in them.  We spent about 20 minutes singing words to God to honor and praise Him.  I took 33 minutes to talk to you about some truths from God’s word.

But maybe some of the most powerful words were at the end of three of our four services at the Syracuse Site.  At those services people sensed that God was whispering something to them for the whole congregation.  After screening it with a pastor they shared it.

It led to some powerful prayer and some people seeing transformation happening in their life.  What a great gift from God in this Christmas season.  What a great gift they can give


Did God impact you some how at any of our services this weekend?  Tell us what site, service and how…

Your Really Good At…

Last weekend I talked about the gift of Encouragement ( as I started a new series “Gifts that are Guaranteed to Please”.  In it I emphasized how we all need encouragement and it really is easy to give.  When we are encouraged it gives us fresh confidence and new energy and I got to experience it today!

I went to a High School today to speak to a history class as Simeon, Peter and the beginning of Christianity in the Roman Empire.  As I was waiting in the offices a woman asked me, “Are you the Pastor of the Vineyard Church?”  When I “admitted” it, she told me what an impact the church had on her daughter.  She said it was a great church.

I was very encouraged and proud of the team here.  As I went to the class, I was walking on cloud nine.  Encouragement is really powerful.

Have you had a chance to encourage at least five people today?  Do you have interesting stories about their reaction?

Let us hear about them below.

Thank you

I think Thanksgiving is the coolest Holiday America does.  We all stop to actual be thankful for all the wonderful stuff in our life.  It could help us to be a more grateful people, which leads to deeper joy, peace and generosity.  It can even lead people to worship God who is the giver of all good things!

So what am I thankful for?  There is a lot!  I’m thankful for Gwen my wife who has been my friend for 30 years and still loves me.  I am thankful for all three of my kids.  Each has brought great joy to my life and taught me much.  I’m proud of them.  For my parents and family of origin who showered me with love and wrapped me in community.  I am thankful for my tripod who have encouraged me over the last seven years.  I’m thankful for my staff.  They have enriched my life and make going to “work” enjoyable.

I want to especially thank God for this church.  I am amazed what a special group of people you are.  You have been willing over the years to allow me to learn on the job, take risks and have been willing to leap in faith together.  You have truly been a “Come as you are… and be loved” group.  You are so willing to get your hands dirty to serve others and have honored Jesus.  You are also fun!Image

I could go on and on but I won’t!

Please share a few things you are thankful for.


Second Hand Service: Better than Nothing?

Last week I spoke about serving others and how we can grow spiritually when we do that.  I was excited that so many of you checked the Action Step box to be contacted about figuring out how to serve through the church.

Part of the message was reminding us to serve others as we go through everyday life.  To be mindful to help our neighbors, school mates and co-workers in practical ways.

Here’s why I ask the question.  As you may know I HATE yard work.  My thinking is if you want to look at a well manicured lawn . . . go to Yankee Stadium.  I’m always the last one on our street to rake the leaves.  In fact, typically I pay a high school kid to rake them and I even delayed that this year and just asked someone to do it this week.  Hey, at least there aren’t any snow banks yet!

My neighbor, who is retired and in his 80’s, rakes his yard early.  The problem is then the leaves from my yard BLOW INTO HIS YARD!  To remedy this problem, and serve my neighbor, I had my “leaf raker” rake his yard too!  Somehow I think I missed the point of my own message!

Tell me how you served your “neighbor” this week.