Friday, November 30, 2007


The Last time John had seen him the "Baptist" had baptized him and now for he had been gone for fourty days now....but now he has returned, gaunt and wirey but it's the change in his eyes that you notice the most..."what had he seen out there in the wilderness"? You are releived you didn't know if you'd see him again and there is something uniquely powerful about this man whom the 'Baptist' calls the lamb. He is only with you a few days and then he prepares to are compelled you cannot let him go this time and at a distance you follow. He stops asking you what is it that you want and in that moment you be with him. He says come follow me. It is in that moment that the truth of His life "the sent one" converges with the truth of your life "my disciple" His purpose, your purpose co mingled and running down from a cross to the ends of the earth. God with us, live among us that the compelling nature of his coming to tell us of our long lost father, to show us the way home. And we behold his glory...and we will be like him and we know it...So we must behold him, long to be with him and follow him...home.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grace Point Initiative

Archie Rhines is our new Facilities Director...check out his blog at and see how a leader involves other leaders. Leading a volunteer organization is the most challenging job in the world. Bill Hybels often comments on how leading when people aren't motivated by a paycheck requires top notch vision, strategy and leadership. We are blessed at Grace Point with such leaders....Check out Archies Blog and get in the game....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jewish Wedding, Rocket Launchers & Hagee

My friend Phil got married last weekend and it was a Jewish wedding...I know Phil is Jewish but he has never been particularly 'religious', and so it was odd in some ways for it to be a Jewish wedding. I was in the wedding party and was sitting with all of Phil's other friends and Gary who I didn't know had been on 60 minutes as they attempted to show how easy it would be to sale a rocket launcher...Gary buys and sells parts...Soon the conversation turned to beliefs...a Jewish playboy from San Fransisco who I knew from High School was talking of tithing...most Jews don't evidently (tithe that is). And then Gary asked me about Hagee and his support for Israel and how he felt it was all political...I said I thought it was mostly theological...that the Jews are blessed and that God was going to fulfill his covenant even though the gentiles had been grafted in...I told him I actually believed that as that moment our table was being moved so the new couple could dance and we were abruptly re located...soon it was time for my wife and I to head home. Two days later I got a nice email from Gary...he was hoping he hadn't offended...he had not of course, but his kindness was grand. When I read in Ez.37 about the dry bones being raised and the Spirit of God coming and restoring his people it's hard to imagine how Jesus cannot be accepted and yet I know there is a reason. The culturalism of Judaism as well is Christianity is people hold on to the form without the substance. I want to know Christ, to follow him, to be filled by his spirit...not just a cultural religious context to wrap my life. The promise of Ezekiel it seems is Mazeltov...the broken pieces put back together again. I pray the Spirit of Christ Jesus will open the eyes of my friends and that I will not be a stumbling block.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

To The Ends Of The Earth

Yesterday I met with the President of Baptist University of The America's along with two professors from the university. As we discussed the great need of hispanic churches and the demographic tsunami crashing over North America there was a sense of urgency as well as excitement. Over the next 15 year the United States will become predominantly hispanic and the population densities will be more spread out than ever before. That means all over North America hispanics will be living and working and raising families. The present strategy to take the gospel is insufficient, it is focused on anglo, suburban church plants neglecting the need for a massive infusion of equipped, trained and deployed mulit cultural planters. The networks of immigration are also the networks of salvation and yet we are still attempting to colonialize. In other words planting a spanish speaking church in an area may provide a beach head into that community but likely only if the immigration network has already affirmed the church through the word of mouth network all the way back into mexico, brazil, colombia etc....If we plant along the lines of the immigration highway to destinations then it is possible to build trust and community. So rather than an outpost it is more of a train depot...interconnected along the a church planting network and brand that conveys integrity. Immigrants talk, they call and say I have a job for you or come to this town and they meet in barrios, bars and homes...but the church is seldom part of the conversation and this can change maybe even must change. The ends of the Earth is always next door.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Litmus Test of Ingratitude

I was faced yesterday with this subtle distinction between appreciation and gratitude. Appreciation is being thankful on one end of a spectrum but fails to acknowledge the source of that thankfulness...Gratitude is when the source is acknowledge...Ingratitude emerges in forms of envy, pride, in the past...for me I find myself preparing for the 'worst'. A sort of defensive posture that is ready to pounce on an anticipated worst case outcome. It's somewhat crazy actually and this epiphanal awareness is an engrained habit that when mixed with stess and caffeine makes for an intolerable batting cage of reaction. It's like I'm opening a Christmas gift expecting it to be a bomb or a box of nothing or worse a tie...I'm preparing myself for ingratitude. The conditioned response, the presumed preparation for worst case, is really a habitual preparation for ingratitude...The lowering of your expectations protects you from disapointment but over time conditions you out of the ability to recieve the fulness of the gift which makes the words 'thank you' hollow. So now the long slow road to identify the trigger mechanism of worst case fantasy management and start practicing full cup gratitude.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rebellion Freedom Trap

I wasn't any different at 21, I wanted to test the boundaries of what was acceptable and of course bring attention to myself by challenging the establishment ( and many things in the establishment need to be challenged) by my niece wanted to talk about hypocrisy and christians and why she didn't need 'community' but only a 'personal relationship' with Jesus...and she was a little concerned that her choices might rule out that relationship. In other words she wants to live how she wants to live, believe what she wants to believe and if it's doesn't line up with Jesus' teachings the oh well.... All sin is that way of course those daily choices not to follow Jesus, when I was 21 I hadn't made the choice the conscious choice to 'follow' and even now that I have there are many instances in my mind and with my habits that I don't...but the difference is I have made the choice to follow and in spite of my failure I press on...Rebellion is the choice not to follow and the conscious choice to do the opposite without the desire to try again, to repent to is the belief that freedom is found in the independence of these choices and making the choice to satisfy oneself...I guess the only difference is knowing and believing it is wrong and feeling remorse for the activity and starting new to try to follow or justifying your behaviour by saying it isn't wrong and staying in it. So following Jesus, following Jesus badly and not following Jesus. I would rather follow him badly (be wrong) than not follow him (pretend I'm right).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am Thankful

I am thankful for so many things but central to all my gratitude is the cross. It's hard to say in non-religious terms...words that are worn, words that we have built some immunity towards. I am thank for Jesus and his willingness to be blugeoned and beaten, humiliated and massacred in order that I might have life. I am thankful to follow him...without the following the cross makes no sense. I am not freed from my sin to continue in it. Not given eternal life so that I can live a parenthesis of self aggrandized American pseudo christianity. I am freed by Jesus to follow is hard...i suck at it at times and yet I am compelled by my gratitide and the awarness that without him my life is meaningless. The cross gives meaning to my wife and children, my family my friends and relationships. Without the cross of Jesus and the choice to follow him these all become transient ideas of self pursuit that end without meaning. I am mostly selfish...still trapped in the flesh...still pursuing the transformation by the reknewing of my mind...but even so I am aware that I am free, changed, trapped only by my failure to pursue Jesus. We can only enjoy the sensual pleasures of this life...our warm soft bed, a bubble bath, the contoured leather of a well crafted sedan, the giggle of our children, the gathering of relation to the measure by which we understand Jesus and his enjoy apart from him, this thought of who he is and what he has done... is the height of self absorbtion.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Poll

Okay, I'm trying something new...I've added a Poll to my blog, which can be summarily removed upon it's lack of use, my lack of creativity or wrong answers...: ) just kidding. I got a lot of feedback from the blog where I suggested we should have one hol(y)day at a time...and so I thought I'd take a poll...check it out and let me know...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks

It's foggy out...a cold front is coming and it is the week of Thanksgiving. Likely it will 'feel' like a perfect holiday. I will go out to my moms and we will have Turkey, Corn bread stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans as well a sundry of other delights. We will eat until nausea sets in and then watch a meaningless ball game and most importantly just be together as family. 2500 miles away my friends will be huddled around candle light in Johannesburg, they will be eating from a community bowl a substance called 'pop'. It's like 'grits' only thicker. With great joy they will give thanks for the bounty and provision of the Lord and they will mostly give thanks for people and mean it. At thanks giving we should all take a packet of red stickers and walk around our homes and place a red sticker on everything (temporary), car (temporary), table (temporary), sports (temporary), food (temporary), and then in blue we should label everything that is eternal...Mom (eternal), Dad (eternal), Kids, wife (eternal) and the actions that influence the lives around us toward Christ (eternal). That way when we are sitting at Thanksgiving we will be able to keep it in perspective of what/who we are thankful for and what it's all about. In Johannesburg they won't need any stickers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So I bought myself a church....

As we discussed the man who went out and bought himself a church because he wanted a church the way he wanted it my friend said " I know a guy who bought himself one and it started with 34 people and 23 committees"... he wasn't joking. The new "owner" wanted to start with the right model and so he established 23 committees before it ever began. I know Lawyers, businessmen, CEO's that are successful running their businesses and so they either think that it must be the same 'running' a church or they simply lower their leader IQ when they think church.... What I've come to discover is that The Church is the Lord's it can't be bought nor can it be led with Spreadsheets, General Ledgers and conservative fiscal priorities. None of these things is in and of itself's just the church is clear about it's mission, power source and strategy. It requires risk taking faith, Spirit empowered leadership and a completey sold out, go for broke commitment to "the ends of the earth". Most people want an institution that doesn't change, Jesus commissioned a world changing organism....You can't buy a church ...if you can it is not the church...You can't operate a 'church' rational, methodical, reactive's a faith venture or else it's just business men playing church.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


My dad turned 73's a number not his age. The number itself is insignificant because it's not a hallmark birthday like fourty or sixty-five or sweet's 73. It doesn't represent his age because my dad is not limited by the number...he has always been "younger" in his mind...always forward thinking... he lives in the present and is unencumbered by the bitterness or regret of yesterday. He thinks about what is possible and rarely focuses or stagnates on what is not...He is a risk taker and knows that failure is not trying. He has an enthusiasm for life and for people and he always bets on the underdog if that underdog has a determined fight in his eye...He always grants grace through forgiveness even though the wound may be deep and personal. My dad is grace the most simultaneously broken and used vessel I know...perfect in weakness and explosively powerful though flawed. 73 is the amount of seasoning and wisdom, the amount of practice and acquired skill but not an age cannot contain is a lesson I hope to learn a wisdom I long to acquire, a model I strive to follow...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Truth Tellers

The phone rang, it was yet another interruption. My sister Suz was on the other line and with surgeon like skill she spoke the hard truth..." I had better get on the plane and go, if I waited I would regret...somebody else could preach, but nobody else could be there with my wife as her mother lay dying". The bible says the wounds of a friend can be trusted....I know that is true...I have learned to trust the hardness of truth and trust the truth tellers. Often the truth is side stepped and softened to the point of opaque suggestion but a friend will wound you and he/she will do it because you are deeply and dearly loved. That event happend almost 13 years ago but it was a defining moment when I realized everybody had the same information but only my sister was willing to fight for the truth...only my sister was willing to wound me. Truth tellers are true friends though they themselves are only sought as friends on a convenience basis...they are dangerous...they are fierce and wanted mostly in small doses. I don't feel that way but I know it's widely felt...I don't feel that way because I too like my sister Suz, am a truth teller. Wound you if we must but the wounds can be trusted....and by now we understand the cadence of our friendships and by now we have discovered the community of trust in those who will not yield, dilute, or mute the truth.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Grace Point @ 15...another note

This was sent via email....I wanted to share it....
"Words can’t describe what Gracepoint means to me. Other than my choice in wife, my choice in occupation, and of course my choice to follow Christ, choosing Gracepoint as our church home is easily the most important choice that we have made as a family. We have been members of Gracepoint from the beginning. Initially we just went to Church. Slowly, we got more and more involved. The more we got involved, the more we were blessed. We have all grown so much. I personally have learned what it means to step out in faith and be obedient; to be totally dependant on God; as well what it means to be led by the Holy Spirit. I have seen God Bless our faithfulness in our business, in our family, and in others who we have experienced life together with. It’s been awesome to see Karen and our kids grow in their relationships with the Lord. I am so proud of them. I hear so many compliments on how great our kids are. Well, I am here to tell you that our kids are a reflection of the HEART of Gracepoint Church. I will be eternally grateful for all the faithful servants from Gracepoint who have poured out their hearts and souls into our children. We love our Pastor and we love our Church. We love all you guys!!! You are the best!"
-Blogging is sharing..." the local church is the hope of the world "

Friday, November 9, 2007

15 Years and reflection

Not a week goes by that I don't have opportunity to praise God for what He is doing at Grace Point but as we approach our 15 year anniverary I've been a little more is just a normal story that I get every's who we's who we reach...As Sheryl Crow say's..."this ain't no Country Club".......

Mack who visited our Late Younger 3rd class on Sunday. She said that they would be back this Sunday for 9:30 worship and then she would go to Base Camp while Tariq was in Crosswalk. She explained that they had “no religious background” but wanted to get that for her son, and for her of course (a bit of an afterthought). She said Tariq had been asking a lot of questions lately about the Devil and religious things and she was worried that he would ask strange or inappropriate questions in his class here. I assured her that all kids (even the ones who practically live at church) as all kinds of interesting questions. They’re kids and they’re very creative thinkers. This was the place to ask questions and she shouldn’t worry about it at all!

They'll be back...a shepherd will dig into his life and share Jesus...and our Prayer is that the Holy Spirit will Transform yet another life.... 15 years and still going....

Monday, November 5, 2007

too early for christmas

All the stores are wrapped in tinsel, candy cane and lights...the marketing engine of Amercian Merchandising is in full swing and I'm just not ready for it yet. It's not even really cold, and we still haven't even had thanksgiving and it just seems unnatural to force Christmas down our throats a full two months out. The stark contrast between an unlikely savior in a barn, all earthy with straw and animals. The surprise and wonder of wisemen and different from the manufactured expectations of glitz and cash registers...lists and obligatory trinkets...I love the advent of's Christmas I can do without.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Life Changing Disc

In 1987 I was reclined in my Honda crx listening to the brand new 'tape' I had bought of U2's Joshua Tree. I listended and sureveyed each lyric as I read the tiny print of the tape jacket. I went on to wear that tape out and then I purchased the disc...The music caused me to reflect to be introspective and at the same time it lifted and this day when I hear the staccato base line of With or Without You i'm somewhat transfixed anchored and challenged music is powerful..What is your most transforming album and where where you when you heard it and how did it affect you?