David Robinson’s Hall of Fame Speech

•September 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It always encourages me to see people who are in great places of influence, to use that influence to bring glory back to God. David Robinson is no exception.

However, I do find it interesting that right at the exact moment he starts to talk about Jesus, ESPN throws up a bunch of sound and logos on the screen… interesting timing… 🙂

Fun Halloween / Fall Festival Event Ideas…

•September 11, 2009 • 7 Comments


As I do every year, here’s some fun event ideas for the upcoming holiday season, starting with Halloween & Fall Festivals… This year, I’m listing ideas for my new context: The Greater Fresno, Ca Area. (For those in Denton, TX – feel free to look at previous year’s posts for ideas). These are great ideas for family outings, date nights, or roommate/friend opportunities…

Thanksgiving & Christmas posts coming soon!

News Story on The Well/Cross Merge…

•August 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment


Thought this was interesting… the local news paper here in Fresno just did a brief write up on the merge that’s about to take place between The Cross Church & The Well’s Fig Garden Campus…



Cross Church and The Well prepare to merge

Published online on Friday, Aug. 21, 2009
By Ron Orozco / The Fresno Bee

A church merger is drawing a lot of interest in the area’s faith community. Beginning Sept. 13, The Cross Church will begin holding Sunday morning services with The Well Community Church’s satellite congregation that has been holding services and other activities Sunday evenings at The Cross Church. The merged congregation will be known as The Well Fig Garden, under pastor Shea Sumlin.

“They’ve rented from us for seven years, so we know them,” says The Cross Church’s pastor, the Rev. Sam Freshwater. “It’s time to get married.” It’s refreshing to see churches helping each other. The Cross Church has deep roots. It was organized by German immigrants from Russia in 1892 in southeast Fresno. Although the church thrived in the 1960s with 2,200 members, it has fallen on hard times with just 130 people. That happens. Adult members die off and their children move on.

The Well is a success story. It began as a college ministry at Northwest Church under Brad Bell in 1998. Then, he turned it into a fledgling congregation in February 2002. Its first home was the rented sanctuary of The Cross Church. The Well has grown to more than 2,000 members, mainly those in their 20s and 30s. They have worshipped at the church’s main venue on East Nees Avenue since August 2007. Satellite venues were also added at Sunnyside High School and Maple Creek Elementary School.

The merger doesn’t affect The Well’s other sites. But it allows The Well to make deeper connections with neighbors near The Cross Church — and that pleases one of the church’s longtime members, Sharon Crabtree, 66. “It helps sometimes for young eyes to see new vision,” she says. “You can get stagnant in what you’re doing.” Freshwater says, “We see it as a God-given opportunity to reach the Fig Garden area. I’m not an evangelist. My heart is for the lost.” The merger, he adds, is “one that has a great facility and one that has fresh eyes in ways to reach people.”

Before the merger is complete, The Cross Church will hold special events to celebrate its history. A legacy service will be held 9 a.m. Aug. 30 at the church, 4545 N. Palm Ave. Former members are invited to attend. A luncheon featuring German foods and videos will be at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 6 at the church’s fellowship hall. Reservations should be made. Details: (559) 222-3700.

How Not To Go Broke In College

•August 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment


Here’s an article from some friends over at “associatedegree.org”… They list 100 ways to think smart (financially) while in college. With school cranking up all across America in the next couple of weeks, it makes for a pretty good read.

CLICK HERE for the article.

Update from Tom Nelson

•August 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a video update from Tom Nelson concerning his recent heart attack… this was released this past Sunday at Denton Bible Church… More updates and well-wishes available at https://www.dentonbible.org/tommy

My First 60 Days in Fresno, CA

•July 28, 2009 • 4 Comments

It was exactly two months ago today that I left the great nation of Texas to head out West & come work for The Well Community Church in Fresno, CA. The following are some of the highlights of my first 60+ days here…


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The Well is a young church that has grown tremendously since it was planted 7 years ago. Right now there’s about 3,000 people in the church spread out over 3 campuses & 6 services. Already since I’ve been here there’s been new hires, new opportunities, and all the challenges that come along with growth. I’ve spent most of my time these past two months just learning the culture of The Well (or “tasting the special sauce”, as Brad says). It’s definitely like learning a new language since I’ve been here… new church, new ethos, new city, new people, new context, new way of doing ministry, etc… The learning curve is definitely steep, but thus far I seem to be adjusting well & fitting right on in. I’ve preached twice already since I’ve been here, and had a blast doing it- although preaching 4 times live along with 2 other video-feeds can make for a long day 🙂 We also had a church-wide baptism service last week (held at baseball stadium) which was also a ton of fun. Our “State of the Church” service is coming up in a couple of weeks- so right now we’re gearing up for a strong vision cast for the year ahead. Ton of stuff going on here… like drinking from a fire hydrant!


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So far the church staff has been tremendously gracious to us. It’s a fairly large staff, good mix of young and older, and tons of children that our girls have enjoyed meeting & playing with. As many of you know, coming out here I already knew two of the staff really well… I’ve known Brad Bell (our senior pastor) since 1995 and Mike Slayden (multisite director) since 1994 (we were also fraternity brothers and college roommates). Brad has been out of town for 7 out of the 8 weeks that I’ve been here- and Mike for almost 3 of them- so I haven’t spent much time with either of them. But that’s turned out to be a good thing, because it’s given us some more intentional time with other staff. The staff has definitely been a ‘family away from family’ for us. Huge team aspect here that’s been exciting to be a part of. We’ve especially enjoyed our time making new friends at the Fig Garden campus which I’m pastoring (see below).


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When the Well planted several years back, they began renting out space for an evening service at another church here in town (The Cross Church). A couple of years ago The Well grabbed their new home in a building across town, but a group remained at The Cross Church (in the Fig Garden area) to form a multisite campus for the Well. They’ve been there for a couple of years now, still running that 5pm service. Right now, there’s about 200 folks who call that campus home. I’ve been hired to come in and take the reigns from my buddy (Mike Slayden) as the pastor of the Fig Garden Campus. Already we’ve met some amazing people/families at the Fig campus.  I knew we were in for a treat when the first week I was here, the Fig Campus hosted a ‘pounding’ our family- where basically, people each brought us a ‘pound’ of something for our new home (coffee, pasta, chocolate, plants, etc…). It was a great time meeting everyone & we were hugely blessed. People have been so friendly to us here, having us in their homes just about every week we’ve been here.  Probably the most exciting news about this campus is that we now have the opportunity for the Cross Church to merge with The Well. The Cross Church voted unanimously this past Sunday to dissolve their charter and become the Well. So along with the people & the building, we’ll gain an additional one or two services at Fig. This move will allow us to solidify The Well in the Fig Garden area for years to come- and now gives us the opportunity to grow and reach more people in this area for Christ. Prayers are definitely solicited as we now into this new season. In the meantime, I’m loving learning how to lead as a multisite campus pastor & enjoying the great friendships God has already provided here.


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Above is the home we’ve been living in for the past two months. This is a temporary house we’re staying in until our more permanent one becomes available (sometime in the next month or so). The new house will be located in the same neighborhood where Emma will be attending 1st grade. In the meantime, we’ve really enjoyed the house we’re in as well as the neighborhood… we’re actually kind of sad to move out of it, but look forward to being closer to Emma’s school.


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As busy as things have been out here, we have managed to really make some huge family deposits. Much of that is due to how closely we are connected with so many fun things around here. Thus far we made a trip down to Disneyland (pics at http://www.facebook.com/sheasumlin), riding bikes at Woodward Park (this massive park in town that has live outdoor concerts each week, bike trails, disc golf, horse trails, playgrounds, you-name-it!), played Putt-Putt golf at two stellar courses in town, took in a Fresno Grizzlies game (AAA baseball), soaked up a local waterpark & have eaten some tasty fruit & vegetables at local Farmer’s Markets. On top of all of that, I got the opportunity to speak at a Christian camp up in the mountains (called “Hume Lake”). We’re currently planning a trip up to San Francisco and then a camping trip to Yosemite later this fall. So yeah, we haven’t been too bored :). But honestly, it’s really been nice spending some good quality time with the family right out of the gate.



Without a doubt, the hardest part came about two weeks after we arrived, when one of our staff members’ (Jerrod Rumley) 4-month-old son passed away in his sleep. (For those of you back in Denton, Jerrod is Judd Rumely’s brother). Jerrod, his wife Jennifer, along with their older son Cooper- have been grieving pretty hard (as you can imagine). In fact, the whole church & staff have been grieving hard as well. I would definitely still continue to solicit your prayers on behalf of their family for the road ahead. I think the sweet spot in this difficult time has been watching the body of Christ come alive and surround the Rumely’s with love & support. Lots of people have logged some long hours with them, just offering the ministry of presence. It’s been sweet to experience the body of Christ surround one of its own in need. I could not imagine someone having to walk through what they’ve been walking through without the strength of the Lord or His church. Again, please pray for this family who is still grieving the loss of their baby boy.


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In all, this has been a fun & wild ride. It is so hard for me to believe it’s already been two months since  we left. There are days I wake up and can’t believe I’m really here- and not in Denton. When I think about what I left behind in order to come here, my mind spins a bit. My family, my friends, the state I grew up in, the church I ‘grew up’ in, the house all three of my children were born in, the Dallas Cowboys for goodness sake! …it’s crazy!

Truthfully, there’s been a few days where we’ve battled some homesickness. Not because of anything here, but simply because when you’ve spent the better part of 35 years in one place- and then in one single day, completely sever those years in order to start completely over somewhere else- there are some things you miss. We find ourselves missing time with family & friends (of course)- but also some little things… like old grocery stores, restaurants, our old neighborhood, etc… -little pieces of stuff that were consistent and familiar. So yeah, there’s been a little homesickness here and there- but for the most part we’ve been too busy with so many good things to have too much time to think about it.

But for me, as I think about what it is we’ve been called to out here- and as I contemplate my Savior and the mission I’m on for Him- I’m reminded it’s not so much about what you’re giving up in this lifetime, but rather what it is you’re gaining as you serve for His Kingdom. I’ve been reminded of Christ’s words in Matthew 10:37-39… “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

…and also in Luke 9:57-62… As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

These words have anchored us in our transition here. For my family and I, it’s the complete satisfaction of knowing that we were obedient when He called; knowing that we’re building into His kingdom and not our own. And now we rest in the assurance that we are in the center of His will. We’re not comforted by being comfortable- but rather by knowing we’re where He wants us to be. There’s a sweet peace that comes with obedience, even if it’s not always easy. I’ve always said I would serve Jesus well, whether I’m in a church or flippin’ burgers at McDonald’s, whether in Texas or far away… and now is my chance to make good on that statement.

These first two months have been the ride of our life! Can’t wait to see where He takes us from here…

Update on Tommy…

•July 28, 2009 • 1 Comment

I just received the following e-mail from Charles Stolfus, updating Tom Nelson’s condition…

Good Afternoon Everyone

I just returned from the hospital and wanted to give everyone an update on Tom’s condition. Most of the Elders as well as several of the pastoral staff were there in prayer and in support of Teresa and her family. Tom was in good spirits even though a little groggy from the medicine he is receiving.

The details in the previous messages have been confirmed by the latest tests and doctor’s briefings. Tom had a heart attack this morning about 10:15 am here at church in his office. He was taken to Denton Regional Hospital where he underwent a procedure that placed a stint in one of his arteries that was 100% blocked. The insertion of the stint was successful in restoring blood flow to that portion of his heart. He is recovering well from the procedure and is expected to make a full recovery.

We are rejoicing in the obvious hand of God in all of the circumstances surrounding Tom’s heart attack and the excellent care he has received. We thank the Lord for

  • The fact that David Boots was present and able to assess the situation with skill and professionalism;
  • The rapid response of the Denton Fire Department and Emergency response team;
  • The ambulance team that took him to the hospital;
  • The excellent care he has received from the Doctors and nurses at Denton Regional Hospital; and

We are also thanking God that it took only 27 minutes from the time the 911 call was made until Tom was at the hospital and undergoing the procedure to insert the stint in his artery. We have been told that this was critical in the positive outcome we have seen.

Many prayers have been offered up throughout this whole ordeal. The Lord has heard our prayers. DBC staff and Elders have literally been contacted by concerned friends from around the world. Tom and Teresa are grateful for everyone’s prayers and expressions of love and concern.

We will continue to pray for Tom as he recuperates in the hospital. He should be there for approximately 72 hours and then he should be able to come home. Let’s also pray for Tom’s wife Teresa as well as their sons Ben (and his wife Amanda) and John Clark (and his wife Jenni).

We serve and worship a living God.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Executive Pastor,
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