Sunday, December 06, 2009

Getting in the Water -

Love Chapel Hill celebrated its first baptism as a church in the cold waters of Morgan Creek in Chapel Hill, NC. Witness this amazing day with us in the video below. This baptism is special for Jeanine and I as it is our brother, brother-in-law, and friend Stephen "Tony" Walker who gave his heart to Jesus just a few weeks back. We are proud of you Tony! The old has gone and the new has come!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A surreal moment...

The picture is not so great, but I had to share it. I'll capture a better one in the light of morning. This Sunday, October 4, our new church plant will make it's LANDING into the community of Chapel Hill. Where are we landing? The center of it all, one of Chapel Hill's greatest landmarks: The Varsity Theater. To be clear, we're not owners of the building, or operators really. We are a church meeting at The Varsity on Sunday mornings at 11. Our hope is to see The Varsity remain a central business in the heart of Chapel Hill, inviting and inspiring a creative community. We love this place! Just a little while ago, I got to write our web across the marquee. Surreal is the only word to describe it. I really still can't believe it's actually up there! We want people to know what's happening, but we also want them to know that this is a church for them... This is a church for me and for you; for us all types of people, and maybe even those who don't really like church. You're totally invited to come see what is a bout to happen at 11am on October 4. Varsity Theater, Chapel Hill, NC.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

September is here...

As you may know, I've got a birthday coming up. My good friend and co-pastor, Matt, also has a birthday coming up. We are September babies, and well, September is here. Check out this video ->

If you want to learn more or would like to give, visit
Instead of gifts or presents for us, we would love for you to help save lives by giving to this AWESOME organization. 100% of all financial giving to charity : water goes to building wells. They even cover their administrative costs from other funding. Rest assured everything you give will be bringing clean water to those who need it most!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

not fairweather..

As we worshipped together last night with a time of singing and preaching out at the old well it occurred to me that we are not fairweather followers of Jesus. Literally - check out this picture from Worship at the Well:

Yesterday was a full range of weather from beautiful golden sunbeams to torrentional downpours and thunderstorms...with a little dash of rainbow at the tail end. It was an awesome day of Loving Chapel Hill together. The impending radar picture and occasional rain shower couldn't keep us from a time of worship. Join us for the next Worship at the Well on September 12 at 6pm.

Also, check out Love Chapel Hill's new website at

Friday, July 24, 2009

Marriage is...

Marriage is a life,
A life lived not for yourself,
But for the one who holds your heart.

Marriage is a bond and a friendship,
One that is unrivaled by another,
another In this world.

Marriage is a source of grace,
And hope for sharing love
That knows no bounds.

Marriage is not a mere season,
But a calendar of decades
Planned for a lifetime of adventure.

Marriage is a celebration
of the perfect unity
found only in the mystery of our creator.

Today Jeanine and I look back over five years of marriage in amazement at how love can grow! I'm so thankful for this beautiful gift... This lovely lady!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A day among days...

A day among days...
Today is a day among days... It's the day of our church's annual district conference where the vision and course is set for the coming days and years. It's a day of being with friends from across the state and hearing how God is moving and working.

Today, as a part of this gathering, is my ordination for ministry as a pastor in the Wesleyan church and The Church which is the presence of Jesus Christ in the world today. Over the past few days I've been reflecting on this day and what is Ordination.

Ordination is not something of man. Though there will be people of God gathered round and laying hands on those of us being ordained, it is not they who ordain. I've been to college and seminary - I give to ministries financially and of my time - I've gone to interviews and conferences - I do a lot of things, but ordination is not something I earned. No, ordination is not because I'm different, more special, more loved or more holy than anyone else.

Ordination, as best I can understand it from scripture and the calling of prophets teachers and leaders, is something that can only come from God. It's much like salvation and life transformation, it's a gift of grace to an undeserving, maybe even unlikely person. That free gift of salvation doesn't leave a person the same; it brings about change over time. In that process each person is given gifts of the spirit (strengths to carry out God's purpose and calling in your life) because we are all called to serve the Kingdom of God - some as teachers, some as prophets, some as preachers, builders, leaders and janitors. God alone gives freely of love and grace and each is ordained to serve.

Tonight's ordination service is specifically a recognition of God's work in a person's life to lead the church. I'm humbled to be a part of this and so thankful for the family and friends who have helped guide me in my relationship with Jesus. He created each of us different, special, and loved, and wants us to be Holy as He is Holy.

This is a day among days! To God be the Glory!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Adventures in the Western Territory...

Jeanine and I just returned from an adventure out west. Jeanine was taking a class at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Neither of us had been to Washington before. We got to work in a quick trip to Idaho and then spent a few days with our good friends Char & Kevin in LA, Cali on the way home. Lots of fun flying and really beautiful scenery. Check out the pictures in these different albums from our trip.

Assorted WA & ID

Mt. Spokane

Spokane River


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Perspective of The Intern...

There's a guy here with us in Chapel Hill for the summer. His name is Nick Coronado...we affectionately refer to him as "The Intern"... but that doesn't even come close to describing him... A student at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, he comes to us as much a minister to this town as me, Jeanine, Matt, and Sarah. He's a spiritually mature man of God just living out his faith. He recently started a blog and I want to encourage you to check it out. It's neat for me to see his perspectives on thing as he gets into this mission of Loving Chapel Hill. Alright, enough talk, take a look:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Team 3G...

We're getting ready to head to the New River in West Virginia and play in the beautiful rush of the whitewater, but I'm realizing I never posted about our last trip out... The last trip on the river was the award winning team 3G - 3 generations, one raft and a victory! Grandparent, uncle, parent, brothers, wife and friend... Team 3G. I just wanted to share a few pictures with you from our trip. I cherish these memories!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

baptism in the first degree...

or maybe I just got my first degree in baptism? Who knows. But, I do know this has been an awesome day! It's late, so I'm going to keep this short and let the pictures tell most of the story. Today was the first baptism service of my pastoral career...I'm not sure I've ever been so humbled and excited at the same time (outside of our wedding). To be a part of such a sacred movement of the Lord where all three Holy Persons of the Trinity are present and active is simply overwhelming. The church body blew me away as well, coming around this young man to celebrate the work of God in his life. Praise God for a love that is always, ALWAYS, greater than sin! The old is gone and the new has come! Take a look....

Friday, April 03, 2009

No April Fools...

April 1, 2009: Me working at my ever cool pizza delivery job...
Coming in from a delivery my manager asks perhaps the strangest question I've ever been asked..."you don't have a kid in Burlington do you?" Um, what? "you don't have a kid in Burlington do you?" Well, I don't...Why? "I didn't think so." he said. "I got a letter from Alamance County Child Support wanting to know how many hours you work and how much money you make (hilarious in and of itself).... Waiting for the April fools, I stood staring... Nope, nothing... the real deal... They have my name & social security number... not good. My embarrassment was matched only by my wife's patience and humor.
April 2, 2009: Phone call to Child Support Agency
First question after getting my name - "What's the mother's name in the case?" "That's a really good question!" - maybe not the best response given the context??? After a transfer to someone else I get to explain the situation and find out that this has been referred by a county social worker who has to first be contacted to get more information... But I'm assured there's no amount due, this letter was just an initial inquiry. -Waiting the rest of the day to hear back!
April 3, 2009: You've only lived in NC 8 months, what have you done?
My "case worker" calls and asks if I recognize the name...which I'll leave out because I can't spell it... but definitely not a name I'd ever heard before. She was no doubt surprised to learn of the short time we've lived in NC... Apparently (or not so) there is another Justin Simmons in NC that shares my birthday. Seriously, is that possible?? When they put in the name and dob it searches all the state databases and that's where I came in the picture... (no where before that, I positively guarantee!) From the DMV database they got my social. While our dob and first and last names are shared, it appears I still have some uniquity - my middle name (thanks mom).

I will be receiving a letter in the mail as documentation of being cleared from this whole mess. Oh, and I found out they attempted to send a letter to the Dole Campaign - I'm glad this didn't happen 5 months earlier...I can only imagine the headlines :/ I have to say the people at the Alamance County Child Support office have been very easy and even pleasant to work with.

While all of this has been a bit comical, embarrassing and maybe more than a bit frustrating, I'm reminded that there is a story. There are people involved...broken relationships, hurt, selfishness, overwhelming pain, and a young child without a dad. My heart breaks for the child. In all of the messyness of life and though all the poor decisions, I believe beyond all else there there is the hope of redemption. Living, breathing, people in need of LOVE.
Lord open our eyes to the opportunities to show LOVE.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Pastor and My Friend..

I just got home from "the story: a journey in the life of jesus". It's a Bible Study of this new church starting in Chapel Hill, NC down on Franklin Street. Check it out! We had some great discussion tonight about Jesus and His turning toward the cross in the last few days of His life. My pastor and my good friend Matt LeRoy brought a great time of teaching from the book of John. Matt is just an anointed and gifted teacher of the Word. It's an honor to get to work with this guy!

Anyone is welcome at "the story" that meets in the upstairs of McAlister's Deli on Franklin Street. Every Tuesday night at 7 we share a meal and dive into the life of Jesus. Come join us on a Tuesday night. Find out more at

I've got some pictures from DC coming, not to mention this weekend is our annual whitewater race in Webster Springs, WV. Fun stuff...stay tuned!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's up??...

Realizing it's been too long since I last posted let me just give you a few updates:
  1. In two weeks time we've been able to enjoy 30 degree snowy weather and 80 degree carolina skies.
  2. I've got a new temporary job working at the UNC School of Dentistry.
  3. Jeanine and I head down to Rose Hill, NC just about every other week where I get to do some preaching at Bethel Wesleyan Church.
  4. "The Story" our Tuesday night Bible Study down on Franklin street is in it's 7th week and it's going great!
  5. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church and founder of World Hope came to visit Chapel Hill!
  6. Matt and I recently traveled to Oklahoma Wesleyan University and met some students who are going to come spend the summer as a part of the City on a Hill Project Team.
  7. We just returned from a great weekend of sharing the COAHP vision with Bagley Swamp Wesleyan Church in Hertford, NC. Many Thanks to James Spaugh!
With those updates I just want to share some pictures with you. These pictures remind me of the hope that exists everyday, even in the midst of the rain and when we can't see beyond the gray sky, this always exists -----> (I love to fly)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

these lyrics tell a story...

"He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us all,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is our portion and we are His prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And the heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Yeah, He loves us"
- He Loves Us (abridged), by John Mark McMillan

These lyrics tell a story. As John 1 has been so fresh in my mind and my life these past two weeks, this song has captured my attention. It's the story of the mysterious creator of the universe loving us so much that he, himself became a part of creation to redeem us. No matter how far we may wander, his desire is for our returning. He continues to show his love for us. This song was introduced to me by my good friend Matt LeRoy, and performed at Southern Wesleyan's Spiritual Emphasis week by Dustin and Miriam Ah Kuoi.

Check it out on itunes if you have a chance!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Favorite Thing

My feet like to be free! It's one of my favorite things, without a doubt. Flip-flops then are the logical footwear of choice...but sometimes even those have to go. In February it sometimes seems like flip-flops or bare-feet might just not be an option (and believe me I'll push the limits). I'm happy to say that this weekend 70's were reported all across the Carolinas and my sand loving feet caught some salty fresh air! Get your flip-flops off the ground cause spring is on the way (forget what the groundhog said)!

Geolocate this post.

Posted with LifeCast

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Over the past few weeks our journey, our story, has had unexpected twists and turns. The experiences Jeanine and I have walked through together will continue to shape our lives, probably for the rest of our years. As our hearts and lives have gone through cycles of brokenness and healing, we've been reminded that pain is a universal experience. There's not one person immune from feeling the pain of loss, disappointment, or struggle. But, neither is there anyone who cannot receive healing.

As we've heard so many life stories over the past few weeks with pain as a consistent theme, we're reminded of a choice we have to make. In our places of feeling and being broken, we can try to control our lives and drive them our own way, seeking out what we think is a better way (definitely our natural inclination). Or, from our places of brokenness we can discover ourselves as part of a larger story, one where pain is exchanged for gladness, and sadness for joy. Each of us has a story that matters: it's the one of where we've come from. At this point, now, each of us gets to decide how the rest of our story will go. Fighting and struggling to make our own way, or loosening our grip to something, to someone beyond ourselves.

We choose the bigger story, the one bigger than us, the one with hope and mystery, the one whose founder is Love himself. It's the story that brought a random group of people around a common table last night to journey together for the next 15 weeks. It's the story of Jesus - God, showing His grace is available to every person, extending the invitation to be a part of the greatest love story on the planet. That's the story, check it out.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It all comes down to this...

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Words for where there are none...

Yesterday's verses continue to speak loudly, yet so softly. Where there are no words to speak from human lips these have come from above.

John 11:3-4
3b"Lord, the one you love is sick." 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."

Romans 8:25-28
25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Psalm 24:1-2
1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

crying out from my heart today...

These verses are just a few from today that I want to share with you.

Psalm 25:1-2
1To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; 2in you I trust, O my God.

Acts 10:34-35
34God does not show favoritism
35but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right.

Isaiah 43:2 Message:
Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.
I've called your name. You're mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.

Isaiah 43:4 Message
That's how much you mean to me!
That's how much I love you!
I'd sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.

Philippians 3 Excerpts
1Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
20Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.