Doing Life Together at Journey

20 things that I believe:

I spent most of today working on my message for the weekend at the local Cracker Barrel and drinking Sweet Tea and as I was taking a break I started to think about some of the things that I believe. Now these are not my core values just a list of random things that I believe. Some of them are opinions and others are ideas in development and a few are hard core. Just a random list of 20 Things I Believe:

1. I believe that dogs are better than cats. 

2. I believe food taste better when you're with people you love.

3. I believe a long drive on a country road can wash your blues away. 

4. I believe that holding hands with your mate adds years to your life. 

5. I believe in the magic of Christmas.  

6. I believe deep down all people are the same. Broken.  

7. I believe everybody should wet a line every now and then. 

8. I believe that I sleep better with two pillows instead of one. 

9. I believe you should live life with passion every day.  

10. I believe Coca Cola is better than Pepsi.

11. I believe that love between a boy and girl makes the world go round.

12. I believe that checkers is better than chess. But Scrabble rules them all. 

13. I believe the best movie ever made is "It's A Wonderful Life".  

14. I beieve that sitting on the front porch isn't tried often enough. 

15. I believe children and grand children give the world hope for the next generation. 

16. I believe that swinging in the back yard is the most fun you can legally have.  

17. I believe that clean socks, thick towels and ceiling fans hold civilization together.  

18. I believe music on a record player sounds better with a little white noise.  

19. I believe there's a lot more things that I believe so I'll continue this later. 

20. I can't prove this last one but I believe it with all my heart. Jesus is coming back. 

Doing Life Together

The most redneck thing I've ever said...

     After spending 3 years back in our little home town an hour away from Slidell, we recenty moved back to the home that we bought after Hurricane Katrina. We do love living in the country but it's nice to be back in the city. We have been unboxing and setting up things and today I came across an amazing discovery. In one of the boxes, I found my "Old Timer" pocket knife that I have had since about 1977.  That's 40 years! That's how long Moses and the children of Israel were in the wilderness. It's hard to believe that I've had that pocket knife for 4 decades. Just holding it in my hand brought back so many memories. Me and that knife have a long history together. Hunting trips, fishing, exploring the woods around the house and showing it off to impress my childhood friends. But how I became the owner of a pocket knife 40 years ago is the story that I want to tell you today. 

     In the 1970's  I joined the local branch of the Fututre Farmers of America as a freshman in high school and stayed as a member in good standing for the next 4 years. Each Spring we would do a fund raiser as a club to help pay for events throughout the year. The sponsor of the FFA at my high school was also the Shop teacher and one year he decided that our fund raising project would be for each student to sell cans of mixed nuts to our family and friends and neighbors and as an incentive he promised that each boy that sold a certain number of cases would win their very own pocket knife. I was inspired and I wanted a pocket knife so I began furiously selling peanuts to every one I could think of in my family and friend circle. I was racking up sales at a fast pace and before the deadline came I had met my goal. I sold enough peanuts to earn my very own pocket knife. A two blade Old Timer brand pocket knife. I was one excited little boy! The first thing that I did after school was walk over to my cousins house to show him my new knife and as little boys do we started horsing around and I accidentally stabbed him in the hand. It was a tiny cut but it bled profusely. I got into a heap of trouble for that but my dad let me keep the knife. Best dad ever. And keep it I did. I've held onto it for 40 years now. Which brings us to today. So let's get to the "most redneck thing' I've ever said. 

   I walked out of the bedroom today with my ancient pocket knife in my hand and I met my daughter Gabby in the living room and I was still excited about finding my knife so I showed her the knife and asked her if she wanted to hear the story about my Old Timer pocket knife and she said YES! And that's when it happened. All the years of being a country boy found their expression in my next sentence. And this is what I told my daughter, "I WON THIS KNIFE IN HIGH SCHOOL BY SELLING PEANUTS FOR THE FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA AND WHEN I GOT HOME THAT DAY I ACCIDENTALLY STABBED MY COUSIN." Gabby paused for a moment and looked at me with a worried face and finally she said. "Dad, that's the most redneck statement that I've ever heard in all my life." Yes. Yes it is.

I love my Old Timer pocket knife and the Future Farmers of America and my daughter Gabby but not in that order...

Doing Life Together

I love my country.

I love my country. The USA is an experiment in self government that is unique and exceptional in all the world. Today we celebrate 241 years as a free republic that harbors the values of freedom of thought, speech, worship, self-protection. America was designed to celebrate the power of the individual. But I'm also mindful that liberty is always only one generation away from being lost. Be ever vigilant.

  Our family will gather today on the patio and in the back yard of our little slice of independence and we will BBQ, play Corn Hole, listen to music and play some Fibbage and revel in our tight knit community, surrounded quietly by the liberty paid for by the blood of patriots.

  We placed a tiny American flag next to our mailbox at the end of the driveway to honor this nation, its people and a grand experiment rarely seen in the history of humanity. While we are celebrating today, our freedom is so ingrained that we will all but take it for granted. How ironic?

  God bless the USA.

Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness.

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Doing Life Together

"I Love Your Pastor" She said...

It's Hurricane season here in Louisiana and we have a tropical storm already brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. June is rather early in the season to already be tracking a storm but that's what I'm doing. Since I'm on Sabbatical I have become a full time weather man for the family. They may be growing tired of my text message weather alerts but deep down I know they like it. It's a culrutal thing here in Southeast Louisiana to buy extra food and water for the unexpected Hurricane party, so that's what I did early this morning. I went to the new Wal Mart on Robert to stock up for the storm. (I was wearing an LSU polo, short pants and an LSU cap on backwards, because I'm cool like that). The water shelves were being restocked as I shopped and the potato chip  aisle was too. Apparently people love bottled water and chips during a storm so I bought some too... Then the strangest thing happened next...

   An older lady came up to me in the water aisle at Wal Mart and introduced herself and asked me my name. She explained that she is not from Louisiana and the impending storm had her worried. She wanted to know if I was from Louisiana and if so what was my opinion about the weather approaching. I told her that yes, I'm from Louisiana and my best guess was that we were going to be okay for it appeared that the storm was tracking West. That seemed to bring her great comfort. Funny how the confidence of a total stranger can calm our fears and relieve our worries but that's exactly what happened. She stopped and talked for a few minutes and changed the subject to church. She asked me, "What church do you belong to here, son?" I paused for a second and debated whether I should tell her that I was a pastor. I decided not to mention that but to say that I worship at Journey Fellowship Church. When I said Journey, her eyes lit up and she said, "I have visited Journey before!! I'm Catholic but I love to sneak out to visit Journey occasionally." Then she said this, "I LOVE THE PASTOR AT JOURNEY" I looked at her and said, "Me Too!". Obviously she didn't recognize me and that's cool because for a moment I could see how our community sees us. "I love Journey and I love your pastor." For a moment we both forgot about the storm, smiled and parted ways.  We were off to our separate ways to face our own storm. 

Apparently, you can learn a lot about life on the water aisle at Wal Mart while shopping for Hurricane supplies. 

Tropical Storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico

Tropical Storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico

Doing Life Together

Father's Day with my 5

   I'm half way through this Sabbatical and find myself at rest on Father's Day. I woke up at 5:30 this morning and went to the kitchen to make some coffee. We just bought a new Mr Coffee maker which works fine except it only stays on for two hours after brewing so you've got to drink while it's hot. But I don't mind... After Rachel and I had coffee we got ready for church. Since I'm not preaching this month we are visiting a different Journey campus each Sunday. Today we worshipped in Slidell on the Pontchartrain Campus at the 8:30 Experience then headed over to the I-12 Campus to enjoy our kids leading worship. Then Rachel and I met up with all of our kids in the cafe between services to take pictures in the photo booth. We stood in line waiting our turn and laughing and enjoying the morning at church and talking to friends and hugging one another. That's what Sunday is all about for us: Jesus, family, Journey. 

   When it was our turn at the photo booth we took a bunch of different shots of the family. We laughed and squeezed in tight and took a few more. Then I took one picture of just my 5 children. They range in age from 15 years old to thirty-one. Each one a gift from God. The contents of that photo captures my best work; they all turned out to be amazing human beings but I give the credit for that to Jesus and Rachel. But I have been along for the ride and it's been an incredible 31 year journey. Today I was fortunate to be called daddy by 5 of the best people I know. Ryan. Christian. Gabrielle. Cade. Camden. I love you guys. Everyday. 

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Doing Life Together

Top 10 things I'm doing on Sabbatical

     This year marks our 21st year as pastors of Journey. We planted the church in 1996 and it's been a great adventure here on the North Shore of New Orleans, LA. We have raised our family, followed the call of Jesus and served these communities for more than two decades. We have lived and loved and laughed and cried. We have seen some of the best days of our lives here and faced a storm that nearly ended it all. But through the years the Grace of Jesus has remained. So during this month of June 2017 we are taking a Sabbatical to rest and recharge for the next season of ministry here at Journey. We are very grateful for a church leadership team that sees the value of an extended time of rest. Thank you Journey. The McAllister family loves and honors you. So what do I plan to do this month ?

Heres my Top 10 list of things I plan to do on my Sabbatical:  

1. Stay up late at night and hang out with Rachel and our kids. All five of our kids are nearly grown so our relationships have grown to a new level and we are all pretty tight . We love our time together.  

2. BBQ. Rachel bought me a new grill and I plan to cook out as often as I can.  

3. Binge watch Netflix. I am currently watching The Andy Griffith Show. The first 5 seasons are the best because they are in black and white and then Don Knotts leaves the show after season 5 so the show loses its appeal for me. Barney Fife is one funny character. 

4. Yard work. We just moved back to Slidell after three years in Ponchatoula living on the farm. So the house and yard here needs lots of attention. But I'll take my time and pace myself. I like working early in the morning and stop around lunch to take a break. 

5. Naps. I now regret all those times that I fought my Mom when she wanted me to take a nap. She was a wise woman, my Mom. So I'm making up for missed naps. I'm due for one now. 

6. Reading and drinking coffee. The best way to start a new day is to put on a pot of coffee and read and wait for the sun to come up...

7. Take long drives in the country. I love to take a back road and drive through the country side with all four windows down and music cranked up on the radio. Nothing like burning fossil fuels in my SUV and enjoying life like an American boy should.  

8. Eating home cooked meals. I made BLT's late last night and we ate way too much bacon. Best meal ever. 

9. Listen to some vinyl. My kids bought me a record player last year and I've been collecting some albums. I bought an old LP of The Best of Otis Redding. "Sitting on the dock of the bay..." 

10. Count my blessings. I've been married to the same pretty girl for 36 years, raised 5 amazing children, love being a granddad, devoted my ministry to the people of Journey Fellowship Church. I'm not sure if my life could be any better...

Doing Life Together

DDay June 6, 1944

     It was the beginning of the end of World War II. On that Tuesday some 73 years ago, more than 150,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches stretched across 50 miles of France's Normandy region. The Nazis were waiting and well fortified and the future of world power and maybe even freedom itself hung in the balance. Ironically, the young men and women from the Allied forces were the deciding factor. Many of those young men died on the beaches that day and the price for a free world was paid in their blood. Every time I see the American flag or hear the Star Spangled Banner the memory of those brave young men stirs my soul. This was the largest land, sea and air invasion in history and it was planned to surprise Germany but the Germans were ready and the battle raged. Thousands of young men died that day and many of them were buried there.

"The Normandy American Cemetery, overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel, was established on June 8, 1944, as the first U.S. cemetery in Europe during World War II. It holds the graves of more than 9,300 U.S. servicemen who died in the D-Day invasion or subsequent missions."        

                                                                                                      From the history.com DDay story. 

  General Dwight D Eisenhower was appointed Commander of the invasion in January 1944 and would spend the next six months planning this battle to save the world. On June 5th, one day before the invasion he told his troops, "You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.” 

On this day we remember the generation of young men and women that saved the world.

God bless the USA.  

 

Doing Life Together

Story Tellers

     I fancy myself a story teller and I'm always on the look out for a new story to tell. That may be why I love country music because it's the art of telling the stories of small town America. Country song writers are great story tellers. So the equation seems to be Story plus Music equals Country Songs. One of the classics of Country Music is the story of a man falling in love with a Cajun girl. "Jambalaya" was written and recorded by Hank Williams Sr and went to Number 1 on the country chart in the early 1950's. It's a song steeped in Louisiana culture and stereotypes and may be one of Hank's greatest hits. I first heard Jambalaya in the late 1960's when I was little boy. In my memory that song  is tied to my cousin Kelly Brent getting married. Kelly Brent married Carmen (a Cajun girl) at a Catholic Church in South Louisiana and that day is etched in my soul. The Cajun music, my cousin Kelly and the wedding day with the little Cajun girl always reminds me of a story. It's the story of love and Louisiana and food and dancing at the wedding reception with my extended family. Thanks for the memories Kelly Brent and thanks for the story Luke the Drifter that still echoes in my soul. 

 

Here's the lyrics to Jambalaya:

Written by Hank Williams Sr.

Goodbye Joe, me gotta go, me oh, my ohMe gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh, my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Jambalaya, and a crawfish pie and a file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma chère amie-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

The Thibodeaux's, the Fontenot's, the place is buzzin'
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
Dress in style, and go hog wild, me oh, my oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Jambalaya, and a crawfish pie and a file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma chère amie-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

Jambalaya, and a crawfish pie and a file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma chère amie-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

 

 

Doing Life Together

Imagination can take you ANYWHERE in the world.

     Interstate 12 opened in the early 1970's and joined Baton Rouge and Slidell, crossing through the parishes on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Southeast Louisiana. I was about 12 years old when the Interstate was opened to the public and my family was living in the little village of Albany, LA, about halfway between Slidell and Baton Rouge. My dad worked in Baton Rouge and commuted from Albany each morning, traveling about 60 miles through the old Highway 190 route. The first time that I heard the phrase "Interstate 12" was from my dad, when he told me that he was looking forward to the grand opening of the new Interstate for he would save time and money on his daily commute. I asked him, "What is an Interstate?". I remember his answer to this day. Here's a paraphrase: Pop said,"Interstate 12 will be a non stop, super highway with multiple lanes that will make our commute fast and easy each morning. He continued, 'the government is building these roads all over America and son you'll be able to go anywhere you want to go in the country." ANYWHERE. That word hung in the air like the smell of freshly cut grass. I can go anywhere I want to go? Anywhere! That's the first time in my life that my mind opened up to the concept of travel. From that day on I knew that Interstate 12 held my destiny and from there I would travel throughout the world. 

    As a little boy in a small town with a meager life style, travel never even occurred to me as a possibility. But now my dad introduced to my universe the concept of going anywhere. It struck my mind like lightning and consumed my thoughts. I would have to travel the world and it would begin on Interstate 12. I knew it was going to happen but I had no idea how. When you're 12 years old and your imagination fires for the first time it's a spiritual high that changes everything. In my mind I could picture the world outside my window and I would stare through that window and dream, then every time that we crossed the overpass in the family car on Interstate 12, my pulse would race. My destiny lay down that road but I didn't know how to get there. I would have to settle for the travel allowed only in my imagination for the next decade. For the next 10 years,  I spent most of my free time and summer days in the tiny parish library reading everything that I could get my hands on and I traveled the world in my mind. Before a person accomplishes his destiny he will have already lived it out a thousand times in his thought life. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." 

    This year I will celebrate my 55th birthday. Over the last 43 years I have traveled the world. First in my mind then as a pastor and preacher traveling to tell the Good News. I have put my feet on every continent except Antarctica and I don't plan to visit there anytime soon. (It's too cold). But it all started with a highway. Interstate 12. My dad told me that story about his new commute to work and maybe I shared his excitement but something else happened. He sparked my imagination that day. That spark still blazes today in my universe. It's a spark that began on Interstate 12 in the early 1970's in a small village when my dad said that I could go ANYWHERE.  Fathers say a thousand things to their children and then one day they say something that changes everything. But ironically a father never knows which one of the thousands of conversations he holds with his children will be the one. 

    As my life comes full circle it occurred to me the other day that Intertstate 12 still plays a central role in my life. The church that Rachel and I planted in 1996 has grown to be a multisite church with three Campuses open in and around New Orleans and two more on the drawing board. But our first Campus has grown to become the hub of the entire ministry and it is central to all the others and it is located near Lacombe, LA on Interstate 12 at Exit 74. As Journey opens each new campus, we give it a unique name inspired by the local geography. There's the campus in Slidell that we call Pontchartrain Campus because it's located on a street near the lake with the same name. Now there is the Belle Chasse Campus located off the street in the city with the same name. Which brings us to the original Journey campus in Lacombe, LA. It's located off Interstate 12 at Exit 74 and we call it affectionately the "I-12 Campus". And there it is again. The words that I heard from my Pop still echo in my imagination. Doug that new Interstate can take you anywhere in the world. Yes it can Pop. ANYWHERE. 

Doing Life Together

My coat, my books and my papers

 “When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

   Recently, I moved most of my books into the second story of a little studio that Rachel and I built for the kids. They are all musically inclined and we wanted a place that honored those gifts that bind us all together.  So on the first floor of the tiny studio we store the musical instruments and gather occasionally to jam as a family. Those impromptu sessions fill my soul with great joy. But the second floor was mostly empty so we decided to make that my library. I filled it with the books that have shaped my life over the llast 30 years. Unfortunately Hurricane Katrina destroyed a large portion of my collection. But I managed to save some from the storm and added new titles in the years that followed. I've collected over a lifetime of principles, truth, lessons and doctrine from so many gifted writers. I love each book in my library. I know this is old school but I cherish the feel of  the book in my hand and enjoy turning each page. Books are a gift from God. If the Lord allows me I plan to write a dozen more books in that little library. According to 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul loved his books, papers and even had a favorite coat. He asked his son Timothy to bring all three when he came to visit. Bring me my coat, my books and especially my papers. I can identify with that. 

Doing Life Together