I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

From my column in the OCC newsletter...

Are you too busy? Perhaps you are too busy with church stuff. Huh? Did the preacher just write that? YES HE DID! I did because I firmly believe that sometimes we are tempted to do more & more church stuff… start more activities… do more things… plan more events and fill the church calendar. Yet, WE MISS THE SIMPLICITY OF BEING A PART OF THE BODY OF CHRIST. Have you ever wondered how the early Christians survived without all the trappings of the modern church? In our current age there is a tremendous pressure to try and do “what the big churches do.” We are deluged with books, magazines, websites, conferences, etc. all trying to tell us how to improve church. This supposed improvement usually requires buying somebody’s ministry programs or products. Some are helpful, but some result in activity without productivity. We erroneously seem to think that busyness is next to godliness. Don’t misunderstand: I’m not suggesting idleness as a preferred lifestyle either! I have, however, seen many well intentioned believers burnout and drop out. It usually starts with intense enthusiasm and energy yet ends with barely a trickle of life. Church leaders aren’t inclined to say “no” especially to people who want to do more stuff “at church” so we often unwittingly let them run full speed into their own demise! Let me illustrate: Someone comes forward with a ministry idea (usually something someone else is doing somewhere else)… he/she reasons that this a MUST FOR US TOO… he/she recruits help… and sells the idea… and takes off with great expectations only to be disappointed in the end. This scenario is frequently accompanied by unrealistically elevated expectations of our brothers and sisters. We end up, in the worse cases, turning on those we were allegedly going to serve. How, you ask? Well, these folks don’t “support” or “participate” like they should. Maybe the leaders (or yours truly) aren’t doing enough either. So we then begin that highly detrimental practice of fault finding in others. It is ironic, but it is predictable. That’s why I share it. Maybe someone will avoid spiritual calamity, maybe not. But, let me close by suggesting some alternative ideas to the present pressure of the current church culture.

Here are some suggestions…

  • Keep it Simple! Clichés are irritating but this one is true & powerful.
  • Remember: Everyone can’t do everything so instead let’s major in majors.
  • Less is more! Sometimes a prayer with a child is better than an elaborate event.
  • Stop evaluating everyone else. Fault finding is only helpful when it is applied to oneself.
  • Read your Bible more than the plethora of authors who roll out the latest & greatest fads.
  • Finally, read the passage below very slowly & prayerfully.
Romans 12:9-17 (NLT): 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
In Christ,

Jon Gibson Have A Talk With God

This guy was one of my favorite Christian music guys back in the day. I remember jamming to this song over and over again! Great memories with this one.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Faull in the Fall

We finished our fall revival this past Wednesday. It was outstanding! I don't know how exactly to put it but George Faull is an enormously powerful Bible teacher. I sat there with my jaw dropped half the time. His insights were tremendous & his command of scripture was unmatched in my experience. God was glorified by His servant and we were all inspired. If you ever have a chance to hear brother Faull teach please don't let the opportunity pass you by. I joked but it was true: George makes me feel dumb yet he inspires me to want to know more. I don't think I'll ever forget him preaching on sin being exceedingly sinful! WOW! That was some good preaching!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Me a Coach?

Just call me Coach Willis. Today, I begin a training process that will hopefully result in my earning "coach certification." I am working with Virginia Evangelizng Fellowhip and they are training me in coaching. The VEF’s Coach Certification Program will allow allow me to be deployed to coach other kingdom workers. So far my reading has been interesting, but I admit, I do occasionally think..."if the blind lead the blind...!" Actually, I think the training is going to be very helpful and I'll be able to use it in my ministry. It's different than I thought, but I think it will be helpful.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Yeah, Newt. Attention Republicans. Meet your presidential candidate: Newt Gingrich. Notice I didn't write my presidential candidate. I saw Newt this morning on one of the morning shows and I believe he's going to be the guy for the GOP. Fred Thompson has not gained traction and the others seemed to be without much momentum. Someone will fill the void and Newt is an opportunist. Here he comes again with and 6 point plan (another contract with America?). A lot of folks love Newt, but I've never been a big fan. He seems to be an establishment guy akin to William Bennett. I used to like those guys until they both unleashed hatchet jobs on Pat Buchanan many years ago when Pat became competition to their candidate in the primaries. Anyway, Newt vs. Hillary ought to generate some entertaining debates.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Revival & More Revival

The Northampton Church of Christ concluded their fall revival last Wednesday and we began ours yesterday. It's been cool having back to back revivals with a sister church. D.J. Maxey was the speaker at Northampton. I've known him since he was a teenager and (I'll sound like an old timer here) I'm really proud of D.J. He is an outstanding preacher and is doing great things for the Lord in his ministry. D.J. is also the most spontaneously funny preacher I know. He had me on the verge of crying with laughter at times. I pleased that our revival has started off extremely well. George L. Faull is our speaker. Brother Faull has to be more well versed (pun intended) in Scripture than anyone I know. I am actually intimidated when I discuss the Bible with him! I just feel so dumb! He inspires me to want to study more and that's great. He's been tremendous in and out of the pulpit. His style is so good too. He brings so much depth in his messages - thorough, logical, meticulous and, of coure, biblical. I can hardly wait for tonight!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Johnny Cochran, where are you now???

O.J. Simpson is in trouble again. Surprising, huh?

NFL observations...

Here are some of my early NFL observations...

  • Belicheat's Pats may get SuperBowl #4 this year.

  • "LT" should take a few reps next preseason.

  • Carson Palmer is really, really, good.

  • Peyton Manning is still the man.

  • The Saints are back to being the Aints.

  • Who is this Derek Anderson guy? Wow!

  • The Cowboys might be pretty good.

  • The Redskins are probably not.

  • Randy Moss is back.

  • Favre looks like the old Favre again.

  • Atlanta wishes they still had Matt Schaub!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I used to jump like this (in my dreams).

This an old video of me back in the day before I changed my name to Willis. NOT!

I don't get it

I know fantasy football is a big deal these days, but I just don't get it! I played one year after being talked into it by a brother in law. I lost interest pretty rapidly. I kept thinking "Who cares?" I mean the trash talking alone was beyond silly. There's something about a bunch of non-athletes (or athletes for that matter) talking smack about their fantasy teams and idolizing "their players" that brings the unflattering term "jock sniffer" to mind. Is it just me or does this whole fantasy thing seem a little juvenile? I know it's popular and surely I'm overstating things, but c'mon! Get away from your TV and your computer and, yes, your cell phone and go do something productive!

Monday, September 10, 2007

My ideal church gathering...

Foundational Scriptures…

KEY: Romans 12:1: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Mike Root: “We will have Sunday only Christians as long as we have Sunday only worship.”

Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Hebrews 13:15-16: 15Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.


Mike Root: “Together is one thing you can’t do alone!”

Mike Root: “The saddest indictment of any church is that it is structured in such a way that members can attend the assembly and still be alone.”

Do I need to “go to church” to be with God? NO! I need to go to be with YOU!


Hebrews 10:22-25: 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Acts 2:42: They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The apostles' teaching…
OUT: Dry lectures from the pro. Surface level stuff.
IN: Deeper teaching. Interaction. Application. Questions. Answers. Equipping.

The fellowship…
OUT: Turn around & shake hands “fellowship.” Fellowship only happens outside the “service” mentality.
IN: Table fellowship = eating toget
her…perhaps breakfast before or lunch after. TIME to talk, pray, encourage, share life, etc.

The breaking of bread…
OUT: Chiclets & mini-shot glasses & isolated spiritual fetal position “communion.” Synchronized communion rituals.
IN: Breaking bread, taking together, sharing thoughts on Jesus and the cross. Communing as families, as small groups, etc.

OUT: Predictable invocation-benediction stuff.
IN: Authenticity. Variety of times and lengths. Silence. Large group. Small group.

The Sunday gathering becomes active instead of watching the show. Authenticity trumps “excellence.” People will be central to what happens and not just on the sidelines.

THINGS THAT ARE OUT: Cooker cutter service. Ruts & routines. Predictability, boredom & auto-pilot services. Formality. Cathedral thinking. The pulpit. The “communion table.” Offering trays or bags. The “invitation.”

THINGS THAT ARE IN: Anticipation. Participation. TOGETHERNESS. Informality. We are the TEMPLE thinking. People not performance. Love, edification, equipping, encouragement, KOINONIA!

Approximate length: 2 hours.

Possible flow: (With lots of flexibility!)

  • Breakfast
  • Prayer in small groups
  • Large group singing – some planned – might be some requests. VARIETY. Much more interactive & less about presentation, lighting & mood etc.
  • Communion within groups – discussing the gospel & remembering Jesus. It may happen within the small group “teaching time” or during a meal.
  • Intro of Bible teaching (large group)
  • Small group breakout for discussion, questions, application, etc.
  • Large group debriefing (elders lead)
  • Singing & prayer...
  • Hangout (People still needing attention, encouragement will hang around)
  • Giving? (Boxes located at doors)
  • Evangelism? It will happen here, but it isn’t the purpose. It is the by-product.
  • Elders & perhaps deacons and teachers will lead small breakout groups. The leaders can identify individuals or families in need of further attention.

    See Acts 2:42-27; Acts 20:6-12; I Corinthians 11-14


I know I am. The church where I serve is moving in the right direction. This, I believe, has resulted in inceased oppostion from our adversary, the devil. Of course that means my mind works overtime and I lose sleep. So, I'm committing to prayer instead of worry, to spiritual warfare instead of fleshly battles. Satan is stepping up the attacks...he is using gossip and marital problems WITHIN THE BODY in an attempt try to derail our forward progress. But we will not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The "trinity" of megachurch wannabes...

Signs that you are a megachurch wannabe:

  • Do you frequently say things like "Andy Stanley says..." or "Bill Hybels wrote..." or "Rick Warren does..."???
  • Are your three favorite churches North Point, Willow Creek and Saddleback?
  • Do you use "point" or "purpose" or "seeker" in everyday conversations?
  • Do you frequently refer to the "trinity" aka. Hybels & Warren & Stanley as though you know them personally? Sometimes you call them Bill, Rick or Andy?
  • Do you have a Purpose Driven calendar?
  • Have you considered changing your church name to include "community" or "creek" or "point?"
  • Do you think "40 days" is the key to doing anything?
  • Have you made the requisite pilgrimage to Atlanta, Chicago or Orange County?
  • Do you consistently disregard the fact that none of these three would recognize biblical soteriology if it was walking down the street with a hat on?

There are many more, so PLEASE ADD YOUR OWN. Thanks!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fred's in...

Fred Thompson finally makes it official. I have to admit he has a cetain likability factor and in this superfical age it can definitely help. Maybe it's the actor thing. Maybe it's his voice or his accent. I don't know about that, but I do know I don't see him winning this thing. I wish somehow Ron Paul could get some traction. Wishful thinking I know...


Church folks recognize the term "shut-in." The names of these people usually show up in bulletins for prayer, etc. Recently I got to thinking about this category within the church. I've encoutered "shut-ins" in department stores, medical facilities and at weddings & funerals. I know of some who seem to make it out to "hair appointments" and various other essential and non-essential activities with great regularity. I'm wondering if maybe we have assigned some sort of undo status to those in this category. YES THERE ARE GENUINE "SHUT-INS" and we do need to pay attention to them. But, I wonder how many "shut-ins" don't come to church simply because of reasons less respectable than being "shut-in." Younger folks have to use excuses... you know them: It's my only day off... The people aren't friendly... You don't have anything for my kids... I don't like the preacher (WHAT???)... We've been sooooo busy....ETC. But, "shut-ins" have a trump card and it makes them beyond reproach. Just try and criticize them and see for yourself. Yeah, I know one day I'll be old...but that's not my point! My point = every "shut-in" isn't truly shut-in. Okay, now I'll shut up about shut ins.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to School

Today was the first day for the public schools here. I remember being a child and hating to see those last days of summer slip away. It changed later in my highschool years, but I have to say that my kids handled it pretty smoothly (thus far!). I'm also starting a new sermon series Sunday after next. I'm calling it "Back to School" and I'll be tackling some hefty theological topics. I hope it's the right move. I'm just convicted that I need to get folks deeper and they ain't coming to Sunday School, so I'll just take to the main assembly.

Was that great or what?