This morning, my 40th birthday, my family surprised me each with their own list of 40 things they love about me. It was such a wonderful surprise! I told someone I might not be able to go to work because my head wouldn’t fit through the door!

Well, I’ve decided to “count my blessings” on this 40th birthday:

  • My relationship with God – He calls me friend because I have asked His Son Jesus to be my Forgiver and Leader.
  • My amazing, incredible and beautiful best friend, life and ministry partner who also happens to be my wife!
  • The three most wonderful children on the face of the earth who are a constant joy to me!
  • A transcendent cause to live for–the Kingdom of God–and not just some empty, fleeting American dream.
  • My calling. While I might not know exactly what my vocational calling is right now (worship, discipleship?), I know God has called me to do big things for His Kingdom!
  • My health. Other than seasonal allergies, a repaired knee and missing half my thyroid, I can’t complain!
  • A roof over my head. There are still 600,000 people in Haiti who are homeless from the earthquake more than a year ago.
  • Stuff. God has blessed us immensely with material possessions. But we offer it all back to Him daily. If at any point He tells us to sell it all to follow Him, we will!
  • Christian parents. Although my mom is in heaven, I am thankful that my parents were believers.
  • Christian inlaws. I love my inlaws! They gave me an incredible wife and mother to my children!
  • Christian family. Both Suzanne and I come from Christian families that shaped our life in so many ways. Our families aren’t perfect, but I am thankful for the influence my family has had on my life.
  • Friendships. As of right now (11:00am), nearly 100 people have sent me birthday greetings through Facebook! I’m thankful for friendships new and old.
  • Church family. I’m thankful for this church family that has welcomed and put up with us! You have absorbed an incredible amount of change in just a few years. But don’t get comfortable! We have a long ways to go to be all that God wants us to be!
  • People who poured into me. Men like Matt Wilmington, Dr. David Randlett, Dr. Jerry Falwell, George Kenworthy, Ray Redlich, Keith Moore, Allen Bonnell and others.
  • Incredible opportunities. In almost 16 years of ministry, God has given me some incredible opportunities where I have seen Him use me to see people take steps toward Christ.

Although I wasn’t exactly thrilled about turning 40 and saying goodbye to my 30s, I am very blessed!


one year later

This past Sunday, Suzanne and I celebrated our one year anniversary at Immanuel here in Corbin, KY. It is hard to believe that one year has already flown by! We drove onto the campus Sunday morning and found the church adorned with signs saying “Happy 1st Anniversary, Haglunds!” and balloons. My office and the choir room were also adorned with rolls upon rolls of toilet paper! I’ve learned that the way this church shows that they love you is with toilet paper. I don’t want to see what they do to people who they don’t like!

As we reached this one year milestone, it has been fun to reflect on the past year. Here are some of my thoughts at the one year mark…

Suzanne and I were driving home after our discipleship electives on Sunday night and I made the comment, “This is a different church than we came to a year ago.” It is quite amazing what God has done in one year in the life of our church and we are excited to be a part of what God is doing! There is a fervor and a hunger that is spreading like a wildfire. The people at Immanuel have willingly followed its leadership to give up some things that were good to pursue what is better! This has brought some significant changes–a departure from long established norms–especially for this area of the country!

One of the most exciting changes to me is the move from a traditional “Sunday School” model to a small group model. Even though most of our groups will still continue to meet on Sunday mornings, the move toward a small group philosophy is key–multiplication of groups and the apprenticing of new group leaders along with more group discussion instead of a master teacher format. I recently walked through the education wing of an area church. It was like a maze! There was hallway after hallway of classrooms and I thought to myself, “What a waste! All of this floor space that has to be heated, cooled, cleaned and maintained, let alone the expense of building it–all this to be used for one hour a week!” We’ll never be able to afford to build enough classroom space for everyone in this area who needs to connect to a small group–and if we could afford it, it would be a waste of money! My men’s small group meets on Monday nights in a home and the level of authentic community and sharing is awesome! Now, I’m not saying you can’t have that kind of authentic community in a Sunday School class, but it is much harder to do and much less likely to happen than when we meet in homes. What is so exciting to me is that the groups we have meeting in homes didn’t start because the staff decided it needed to happen. God moved in the hearts of the men and women involved and they took the initiative to get it started!

As the worship pastor, I’m thrilled to be able to work with the talented and dedicated bunch of musicians we have at Immanuel. I have been blown away by what they’ve been able to accomplish! Now we just need to get out and play in the community more often and add some “fun” music to the mix–not just the music we do on Sunday morning.

Another interesting thing is that I’ve had some amazing opportunities here in Corbin that I never had in Atlanta. First, I got to lead worship for Johnny Hunt when he came to do a men’s conference we co-sponsored with another church. At the time, he was president of the SBC. He is from Atlanta, but I never had that opportunity during the nearly 9 years I lived in Atlanta. Then, Casting Crowns came to Corbin and I got to hang out backstage and provide transportation for them around town, and backstage passes to the concert! On October 1st, Max Lucado is coming to town with the Make a Difference Tour along with Third Day, Michael W. Smith and Toby Mac. As a pastor, I’ve been invited to a backstage dinner with Max Lucado and special VIP seating for the concert!

As exciting as all these things have been, the transition from a major metro area like Atlanta to small town, rural Kentucky has not always been easy. We no longer have our favorite restaurants, stores, comforts and conveniences close by. Instead of walking into my neighborhood Starbucks, I’ve had to perfect brewing Starbucks coffee at home (or drive 9 miles up I-75 to the nearest Starbucks!). It has also meant moving further away from our family. On birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, it is especially difficult to be away from our family. I’ve learned that people who have grown up in a small town like Corbin typically have all their family nearby as well. Because of this, they don’t need places to hang out and meet other people. They spend their time with their family and extended family.

I believe God has us in Corbin to learn at least one important lesson. As David Platt says in his book “Radical,” to be a disciple of Jesus Christ means to give up everything you have, lay down your life and love Him in such a way that it makes your closest relationships look like hate. It has been a great journey so far!