Sunday, July 30, 2017

One Way I Know God Loves Me...

Someone said the best way to know how God feels about you is to look at who He has surrounded you with. If that's true, God must love me a lot! Because I have some really great friends. Way up at the top of the list is a guy named David Baudoin. David and I have been friends for over thirty years. Really close friends. 

Most people know that one of David's primary roles at our church the past 16 years has been Pastoral Counseling. What you may not know is that one of the people he's counseled most is me! He has been my constant confidant. I've run pretty much every major decision - personal and ministerial - by him. He has prayed with me, walked with me and been an amazing support to me. 

A couple of months ago David let me know God is leading him to step off our Lead Team at Crossroads Church to start a Christian Counseling agency here in town. Today was David's last Sunday as a member of our Pastoral team. It is truly bitter-sweet. I'm excited for him and I know he's going to excel in this new ministry assignment, but I'm going to miss having one of my very best friends right down the hall. 

I'm thankful for all the people David has helped while working along side us at Crossroads. I'm thankful for the sounding board he's been for me on so many levels, through so many decisions. Mostly, I'm thankful that God loves me enough to give me a friend like David Baudoin! 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New Additions to Our Lead Team!

This past Sunday I had the privilege of announcing that Curvine and Candace Brewington have accepted my invitation to come off the road and give their full devotion and attention to leading our Student Ministry here at Crossroads Church.

Curvine has served as our Staff Evangelist for the past couple of years, basing out of Lafayette but traveling around the country promoting Crossroads Leadership College as he traveled. When Beau and Lauren Dore left late last year to take a new assignment in Oklahoma, we asked Curvine to serve as our Interim Student Pastor. He did a great job, but his consistent traveling really prevented him from giving the kind of attention to our students that he would have liked to have given. 

I felt from day one like the Brewingtons would end up being our Student Pastors but there were a lot of things that could have easily made it impossible. However, God opens and closes doors according to His plan and it has been an amazing thing to see how He set up this opportunity we now have to bring Curvine and Candace onto the team! We are so thankful and so excited! 

For eighteen years, we have had very little transition on our staff since I became the Lead Pastor here at Crossroads. However, over the past two years we have seen God move some of our dearest friends into new assignments and we have seen Him bring equally beloved friends on board to take up where they left off. Someone told me years ago, God doesn't create void - He fills it! That has certainly been our experience here at Crossroads Church! Here is a picture of Bud and Yo Plake, who have taken over our Pastoral Care department, Marshall and Apple Hunter who have taken over our Media Department and Paul and Michelle Jaqua who have taken over as directors of Crossroads Leadership College! 

We truly have an amazing Lead Team and I believe we are entering the greatest season of ministry we have ever known! We have a wonderful history, but our best days are just ahead! Welcome aboard to the Brewingtons, Plakes, Hunters and Jaquas! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thank You Memphis!

Donna and I just enjoyed a little road trip. Several years ago I preached in Memphis, TN for my friends Matt and Shannon Anzivino and enjoyed the sights and the sounds of the city so much,  I've wanted to bring Donna back there ever since. After months of hard work preparing for our Joi de Vivre Women's Conference and our huge Easter weekend, we felt like it was time for a break to go recharge our batteries and get some R&R! 

The week began after a six hour drive up I-55 with some good old Memphis barbecue! Barbecue is one of Donna's favorite cuisines and Memphis has some of the best! Our first taste of the smokey goodness was at Central Barbecue just around the corner from Beale Street. It was delicious! Ribs, pulled pork and brisket with potato salad and baked beans - Yum! We also enjoyed Corky's later in the trip. Corky's is now a national chain but it all started in Memphis and they didn't disappoint! Lafayette doesn't really have a great barbecue place. Our people pride themselves so much in their own barbecue mastery that restaurant fare just doesn't measure up. I guess what we need is for one of those barbecue specialists to open their own place! (I'm talking to you Beau Roy!)

Another reason to go to Memphis is to get a musical history lesson. It is known as the birth place of the blues, but it's also really the birth place of what we think of as rock-n-roll today. In the early 1950's country, blues and gospel met up in a little studio called Sun Records owned and operated by the legendary Sam Phillips. He recorded unknown artists who would go on to be musical giants. People like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Ike Turner and B.B. King! It was the country music of artists like Elvis, influenced by the blues of the African American community in Memphis that forged the sound of Rock-n-roll. The amazing story is included in a tour of Sun Records and was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I really wish someone would make a movie about it - I find it facinating! Here's a picture of me standing at the mic that all those legends sang into back in the glory days.

When we started planning our trip, I contacted Matt and Shannon. One of the things they told me I had to see was the Memphis Bass Pro Shop. I thought, "Really?" Now I know why they insisted! AMAZING! It's HUGE! The former arena for the Memphis Grizzly's has been converted into 535,000 square feet of outdoor consumerism. It comes complete with a hotel that overlooks the entire floor of the complex including the lazy river that runs throughout with live alligators on the bank. Yes, really. Walking through the place I thought, "I have friends in Lafayette that would think they have died and gone to heaven. I actually held a Browning shotgun valued at $80,000.00. What? 

Of course a trip to Memphis isn't complete without a visit to Graceland. I'd heard all kinds of reports on what to expect - Most of which included disappointment, so I guess I was prepared. I understand where those people are coming from - Compared to today's mansions, Graceland isn't much to write home about. But when you consider the times in which it was acquired by Elvis - At age 22 mind you - It is much easier to feel impressed by the estate he put together. There is a certain sadness you feel looking at the joy and elation of the pictures and film of his earlier days knowing where it would all eventually lead. The music business works so different today. Recalling the story of his overnight success makes you realize this young man was simply in the right place at the right time and tapped into a cultural eruption of social change that made his rock-n-roll dynasty possible. Here's a picture of me with one of his famous jumpsuits considering a different approach toward my Sunday morning fashion! lol. 

The Loraine Motel is where they tried to element the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It has now been transformed into the National Civil Rights Museum - A powerful reminder of this nation's ugly past and the struggle African Americans have endured to secure civil and equal rights. Growing up in the 1960's, so much of what is included in this tribute felt like deja vu. We also visited the Rock and Soul Museum and it may seem odd to compare these two homages but the Rock and Soul Museum tells the story of the struggle that blues music was birthed out of. Being the grandson of an Arkansas share cropper and the son of parents who grew up during the years of the great depression in the deep south, I felt a familiarity with that story that seemed haunting in some way. After winding through the Civil Rights Museum's tour of suffering and brutality, documenting the small wins and major set backs the movement soldiered through, you finally end up staring into the carefully preserved room Dr. King stayed in at the Loraine Motel the night before his murder. The faint melody of "Take My Hand Precious Lord" is playing through the Museum speaker system and time just seems to stand still. It's hard to explain how I felt, but the best word to describe it is grateful. We have so far to go as a culture to truly see the dream realized, but we have come so far thanks to the determination of people like Dr. King.

What was intended simply be a few days off turned out to be a pilgrimage of sorts that touched me deeply and inspired me to do more with my life. Thank you Memphis! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Voice

One of the things I've had to do in ministry for all these years is look for "the voice."

Music is such a huge part of what we do. Aside from the preaching portion of our services, music is the main thing we do. From leading people in worship, to performing special songs that will engage, entertain and minister to people, music has such a significant role in each service. Consequently, we are always on the lookout for people with extraordinary talent who want to use that gift to glorify God. 

I will never forget the first time I heard Hunter Plake sing. His parents have been friends of ours for a long time. They served as fellow pastors here in Louisiana for many years before coming on staff with us a year ago. We became really close friends in 2010 and started spending a lot of time together. It was around that time that I first heard Hunter sing and I knew right away this young man was something special. It wasn't just his talent, it was his maturity and ministry-mindedness that stood out to me. He took what his family does seriously and wanted to be a part of it.

After graduating high school, Hunter came and did a year of Master's Commission with us and I had him singing every chance I could get. Christian radio is dominated by male voices and it isn't easy to find guys in the church that can cover that material, but Hunter could nail anything we would throw at him!

After graduating Master's Commission, Hunter moved back to Baton Rouge to work with His parents in ministry again. He and Bethany met and began dating and we had the joy of watching their relationship develop. Fast-forward a couple of years and we were blessed to bring Hunter's parents on staff to direct our Leadership College. After they got married, Hunter and Bethany continued to live in Baton Rouge but would make the drive each weekend to worship with us at Crossroads. After the floods destroyed their home last year, they moved here to live with his folks until they could get back on their feet.

Since moving back to Lafayette, Hunter has been a huge part of our music team at Crossroads. When I heard he was auditioning for The Voice, I knew he would do well. It is such a thrill watching it all unfold and seeing this young man's dreams coming true right before our eyes! I know he will use whatever platform God gives him to point people to God's love and grace and I'm so thankful God has given him this opportunity. I'm so thankful God has given him this platform. I'm so thankful God has given him this VOICE! 

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