Sunday, December 28, 2008


The turning of a new year is a strange phenomenon. A random calendar date causes us to look forward and back: to evaluate who we are, where we’ve been and what we would like to see change in the future. Resolutions are made and new ventures are pursued based on the psychology of the marking of time. His mercies are new every morning…what if we approached each day with the Lord as though it were New Year’s Day? I have my resolutions for this year and for today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


“I love Jesus, I just hate Christmas,” he said. I thought about it and replied, “I guess the two have become separate.” Later I pondered how the coming of God to live among us, to be one of us so that He could explain, reveal and embody His love to us…how can that get lost? What would Christmas look like if it didn’t become something else? If it were always and only about the mystery and celebration of God with us: Jesus?

Sunday, December 14, 2008


We sat in a circle, each having picked a present from under the tree. The presents were to be “from the heart” and for the group, something that revealed more of our heart. I unwrapped an old shoe, the last one shoe of Jimmy the paraplegic who is in my life group. He holds on to the shoe because it represents both the question “why?” and the grace and power of God. It was a powerful moment as the old shoe revealed more of Jimmy’s heart. One man played a song on a piano that hadn’t been played in years, because of his broken heart the music had died. He gave us a song as his gift and in turn we helped heal his broken heart. As the night concluded it was observed that “this is family, the most intimate Christmas we might hope to experience.” The only thing we have in common is Jesus and a commitment to one another.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


For over a year I’ve been planning my wife’s surprise party where I asked all of her friends who were able to surprise her on a cruise. A close friend assisted me in the ruse and invited Jody to go on the trip as though it would be just the two of them. I feigned disappointment as though the friend had stole my opportunity to do anything for her birthday and so I would just throw a small party the night before they left. Ironically, her friend’s husband contracted meningitis the night before the big trip and Jody felt for sure the trip would be postponed. That’s when I had to spill the beans that in fact it was a surprise I had been working on for a year. Who would have imagined that our close friend would contract meningitis the night before sailing? We often times make our plans very carefully and yet God is the author of them down to the details. We can live in disappointment or we can anticipate his unique design. Sometimes the biggest detail we fail to account for is Him.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


A few of us were gathering to ride and one of mine friends was complaining about his bike, another was complaining about his hamstring and how he didn’t know if he could make it. Though I didn’t say anything I was wondering how I’d do in a group ride because I hadn’t been on a road bike in some time. Then Danny rolls up. Danny fractured his c 7 vertebrae 8 weeks ago and hasn’t ridden in those 8 weeks. Without a complaint or excuse he pulls up and heads out for 40 miles and even got out front in the wind when it was his turn to pull. Toward the end of the ride, when he was clearly fading, he never complained or made an excuse. There are so many reasons we can’t, we can come up with them to justify our underachieving or self-interested ways. Then there are those subtle reminders that our wills are simply not robustly aligned with His. What’s your excuse?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Word

The unexpected Word of God is a profound blow to the soul. We are often numb to the beauty of the Word chiefly because we assume we know what it says. In doing so we drowned out the voice of the Spirit bidding us to come and listen. We are often shocked when we have it thrust upon us in the light of unexpected illumination. How changed might we be if we assumed we knew less and hungered and craved for more of Him revealed?

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The decorations are out already and the bells are ringing at the Wal-Mart. My list is shorter this year. The party invites are coming in. The parties I'm hosting are already arranged and I'm actually starting to work on the Christmas letter that will need to go out soon. It's not about any of this of course, they are all symptoms or expressions of what when I analyze it, think about it or just quietly meditate turns out to be plainly "Love." It's not a Hollywood, juvenile or cotton candy "pop" love. It's the climb any mountain, sail across the stormy seas, drive all night, lay down my life kind of love that leaves you breathless and broken. When the expression or the 'symptom' if you will no longer leads you to the source then it's time to reframe the expression. I'm not talking dispensing with Christmas, just centering it as Christ Mas. Gifts are nice if they are the reflection of love, songs are nice if they are love songs, parties are nice if they reflect adoring, loving community. Santa is nice too if he was a guy who lived out this radical love to others always anchored in the source. In the end it all comes down to love. Where every day is Christmas and every night is New Years Eve.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Revolutionaries: those regular, every day Christians who are changing the world through action. I think of Sharlla Stone volunteering at the Pregnancy Center, Oscar Ramirez working among the urban poor at Avenida Guadalupe, the rag tag bunch of radicals who feed the homeless each Monday and my 70-year-old mom who volunteers at the Christian Women’s Job Corp. I see them putting meaning to words every day so many of us merely espouse. Herbert Hoover said “words without actions are the assassins of idealism.” The apostle James said “faith without works is dead.”

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fear of Change

My son came home from his homeschool co-op and asked was it true that we would no longer be able to homeschool if Obama becomes president? I told him no, that people fear change and they fear the unknown but our God is a sovereign God and He is the one who puts people into power. President-elect Obama has never suggested or stated such a position and that while the party he represents tends to not be in favor of certain educational philosophies it in no way threatened our way of life. That same day my nephews came home from their affluent Christian school saying that if McCain didn’t win God would turn his back on America. I hung my head in disappointment. I long for Christians to follow Jesus first and be identified with Him.
Let me urge you to be a Christian first! Seek truth, unity and the Kingdom of God. Do not fear for He is sovereign, do not slander for it is sin. Build one another up. Seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Live It Out

My son has been mowing lawns near our home. One of the single women whose yard he mows has been undergoing chemo and he began mowing it out of a request from the church. Recently as he was mowing she offered to start paying him and he told me about it. I got excited for him and started calculating the income he would be adding to his little business and he said, “No Dad, I told her not to pay me. She has cancer and it wouldn’t be right.” I marveled at the deep grasp of truth that he possesses. We can easily rationalize what Scripture clearly extols, we can justify and wiggle around the lucid demands of Christ and yet the pure of heart see it so clearly. The Scripture that I know so well sometimes loses its clarity in familiarity. To see it lived before me challenges my understanding.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Get in the Word

I am shocked about how many people have actually never read the Bible or even a book of the Bible all the way through! I was listening to statistics of how 71% of high school graduates will never read another book and how 48% of college graduates won’t either. I realized that literacy for Americans is on the wane. Recently, I began reading the Bible like story again. Did you know in Matthew chapter eight there were actually two demon-possessed guys that were delivered when the demons went into the pigs? I didn’t and I have a Masters Degree in Theology. How come we only hear about the one? Did one become a disciple or did one simply not follow? So many have never even read the wonder of it all and others have become too familiar and approach the Bible in snippets. (I’m guilty of that at times.) “Faith Comes By Hearing” has a mp3 player where in 28 minutes a day you can listen to the entire New Testament in 30 days—and it’s very well done. There are dozens of reading programs online that can take you through the Bible in a year. I challenge you to start somewhere and fall in love with the beauty, the mystery and the power of God’s Word.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What is Tyranny?

With the bailout of Wall Street and the pervasive incompetence of our goverment, I consulted the declaration of independence and found these words comforting : "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
Immediately following are a list of grievances against the King--most of which presently exist and a whole new modern list could be added. Democracy has afforded us the opportunity to vote in and out the representatives that lead us the problem now it seems is that these leaders flock together in partisan huddles immune to the voices of the people that placed them there. Tyranny is when the people against their wishes have a government do something else. Abortion, prayer removed from schools, unjust war, free market bailouts, taxation without representation....and the list goes on.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Childlike Faith

Last week my eight year old decided she would bake five loaves of bread every week for 50 weeks and charge $5 in order to raise money for the Student Center building fund. If she was faithful she’d be able to give $1250.00 to the building. This week she received a check in the mail for $1250.00 and the contributor said they only wanted one loaf. Instantly my little entrepreneur went to doing the math, and realized, as she put it “It’s a miracle--God multiplied the loaves and I’ll be able to give $2500.00 to the Student Center.” We were all amazed as we watched God provide in a miraculous way. No wonder He says ‘you must come to me as a child to enter the kingdom.’

Monday, September 29, 2008


After my daughter’s friend knelt and exchanged her life at the “Rooted” weekend, she had the opportunity to say “I’m so glad I had a small part in influencing your life!” Her friend replied, “You’ve had a huge influence on me--thank you!” As a father, I couldn’t have been more proud. I think about what discipleship looks like and in the end, disciples follow the example set for them and they choose which example they will follow. Leaders don’t really disciple, they simply follow Christ and those who choose to follow their example are disciples. How great as a dad to celebrate a Christ-follower who has others following.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wild Goose

I love the “Chasing the Wild Goose” phrase that the early Celtic Christians coined in reference to the Holy Spirit. Following the Holy Spirit is a great adventure and oftentimes leads us into the unknown. Sometimes we even end up going, “Huh?” Other times we clearly see the convergence. This week I was chasing the Wild Goose and it felt like a free fall—with a smile on my face. I sold a car, gave 90% of the proceeds away and purchased another old fixer-upper all in a 48-hour period. I just said, “Okay Lord, I’ll follow.” It’s been a blast. It’s been exciting. I feel alive.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I was driving and Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Cinderella” came on the radio. It’s a song about his little girl growing up and the opportunities to dance along the way. I probably should have pulled over but I just wiped the tears from my eyes and kept driving. I have three girls: 6, 8, and 14. Man, does life go fast. So many times the “weight of the world on my shoulders” has kept me from seizing the ‘dance.’ As they get to the age where they don’t want your attention as much, you wish you could go back and do it over. I don’t want to miss the “dance” for my selfish agenda or for the clamoring pseudo crisis of the world. Whether it’s “Butterfly Kisses” or “Cinderella,” the reminder to seize the day is just a song away.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Powerful Stories

The living room was crowded and the couches were full as we shared our stories. The tears flowed as she shared how she was the first in her family to follow Jesus. They mocked her as “the church lady.” But with the passing of her mother, she was now the matriarch! The one who would lead the way—a way would be different. Her children would know a loving, active mother who pointed them to Jesus and they would know of the miracle of their family and how God had delivered them. We all have such a story, the story of God pursuing us and the redemptive history of our lives. What’s your story? As you tell it, there is power. As you live it, there is wonder. Turn the page.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wanted: Nobility

We long for nobility! Leadership that would risk everything in order to secure freedom and prosperity for our nation, like our forefathers. It seems now sometimes our leaders pursue public office in order to secure prosperity and power for themselves risking only the millions of the lobbyists and donors they are obliged to. Cynicism gives way to reality when the evidence is apparent. On Interstate ten a new multi-million dollar overpass is being built for the few hundred residences that live in an exclusive subdivision. The project was tagged at the end of a bill in the Texas legislature by a senior legislator who happens to live in that subdivision. Meanwhile, loop 1604 is a parking lot from Braun to Hwy 90--apparently no wealthy legislator lives over there. Justice and nobility go together, and leaders who lead out of self-interest are devoid of both.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


A few years ago my wife and I went to a bed and breakfast for ministry couples. Honestly, we were at the end of our rope and just needed to breathe. Early the first morning we went down for breakfast and at our place setting was a little note, each person’s being different and quite random. I picked up my note card and the spot I chose to sit and it read, “Be kind for everyone is in a battle of their own.” It reminded me that I’m not the only one in a battle. We all have our own battle to fight regardless of the scale everyone is in the thick of it. The ministry of encouragement is a spiritual gift as well as an exhortation and when we become aware that everyone has their own battle we become better capable of nudging them forward.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Call It

The difficult thing about being a “call it like you see it” person is that it means in order to be consistent you have to “call it” on yourself sometimes. I have been guilty of holding my ground convinced that I’m right and I’m learning to lean into the Spirit and listen to His prompting--especially when I’m wrong. It’s easy to spot arrogance or selfishness in others and so much harder to spot it in yourself. Humility begins by listening and obeying even when you “call it like you see it” on yourself.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Home From Camp

My son came home from camp yesterday and on our way home we were catching up on all the adventure. I asked him what the highlights were and he shared about the usual things and then slowly and reluctantly he reached into his shirt and pulled out a dog tag and said “I got voted most Christ-like in my cabin.” As the tear ran down his cheek they began to well up in mine! When I was in the 5th grade that wasn’t something I would have been in the running for. Later that evening as we watched Michael Phelps win another gold medal and I reached over and grabbed his dog tag and said, “this is better than any gold medal in my eyes.” So much of what we do will never be seen on T.V. or applauded by the world but if our peers notice Christ in us then I believe God is cheering us on and we are amassing trophies in heaven.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Dragon's Tail

The mountain pass between western North Carolina and Tennessee is called “The Dragon’s Tail,” where it is up and down and round and round. This summer as my family and I crossed over the Smokey Mountains by way of the “The Dragon’s Tail” and it also happened to be in the pouring rain. I was focused. Not only was it a round trip, something I’m usually all business about anyway, but we were facing some pretty intense conditions. It became stressful as one of our kids got car sick from the roller coaster route and the intensity grew. I had just finished a book that focused on living in the present and allowing Christ to fully inhabit the present moment so joy could enter your life, so this was a test. How in the world could there be joy in this? As we neared the top of the Smokey Mountains the rain ceased and the sun peered out, a sign read “scenic overlook ahead” and I did something I don’t normally do—I stopped! We piled out of the van and what I can only describe as majestic confronted my senses. Lake Fontana, a mountain lake in the Smokey Mountains, was glistening with clouds below us and the sun was breaking through. And there it was, the present moment, filled with joy. I can only challenge you not to miss it. It is there…He is there.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Leadership Summit '08

As many of you know, I have been out of the church office for a few weeks for a time of retreat, vacation and fresh learning. I highly value this time each year--I suffer as a leader without it. A discipline many leaders can struggle with is purposefully taking times of rest, times where you are being poured into and filling your tank.

Another highlight each year for me as a leader is Leadership Summit, which is an equipping, energizing event. I would encourage anyone who's not planning to already, to check it out and take advantage of the opportunity. Read a posting of why it's important as a leader to attend. If you want to join me at the Grace Point site, be sure to register ASAP. We as leaders need to set the example, it is what leaders do.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fitting In

Recently there was some questionable content on my daughters MySpace page--nothing scandalous, but it was worthy of a conversation. When we discussed the ‘attitude’ and words that were questionable she said she was “trying to fit in.” We talked about fitting in and maintaining your integrity and then if the two conflicted then always maintain your identity and integrity. We talked of trust and how she has unprecedented freedom but if she broke trust she would lose those freedoms. I told her the words I saw on the screen were not the words of the daughter who had that trust, she acknowledged the joy of her freedom and apologized. She has been restored to freedom but with a more attentive eye. Trust is easily broken and though it is willingly restored it requires a great effort to build and only a moment’s indiscretion to break. We walk in freedom and we should never destroy such freedoms by trying to fit in, we must maintain our integrity and the freedom and trust follow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Healthy Heart

I’m radioactive—at least for the next 30 days! I actually have a letter so if I travel or go into a federal building and set off the screening devices they will know why. A few days I had a stress test where they shoot you with a radioactive isotope and then have you run on a treadmill so they can evaluate your heart. It’s clear that what is going on in your heart is a great indicator of your overall health, but the only way to really know is to look deep within. How you respond under pressure will often reveal the state of your heart: you make look healthy to the rest of the world but what’s taking place on the inside is the true measure of the state of your heart.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


The other day, I was asked to provide some coaching to a “new pastor” by a church planting consultant. He asked me to coach the “new pastor” on values. I said I’d be happy to but then I asked, “why values?” The consultant said that of all the churches he knew of, Grace Point was shaped and vigilant about values. He went on to say that he has seen us make directional decisions, personnel decisions and sometimes painful decisions based on our values. I was encouraged of course and I began to reflect on some of these values-based decisions and it’s true: we either make decisions based on our values and they further form and shape us or we avoid such decisions and arrive at different values.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


The other day my daughter was ‘villainized’ on our block. She was maliciously spoken of by another seven year old (as seven year olds do) and it became the talk of the street. We talked of it that evening and on her own she wrote a note and delivered it asking for and giving forgiveness. Last week John Davison spoke of how he contacted with his father’s murderer and was able to tell the man that he forgave him for killing his father. From gossip to murder, forgiveness is possible and the means of grace is unlimited. From an individual to a nation, the common denominator is the heart.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Morning Reminder

On the days I commute to work I jump onto a trailhead just down from my house and in the cool of the early morning when it is just me and the elements. I sometimes pause and watch the deer, rabbits, possum, owl, and hawk—all of which I routinely see on this little dive into the creek bottom amidst the bustling of asphalt and steel just above. I often arrive refreshed and relaxed knowing that I have been in a world that largely goes unnoticed by the rest of the commuters. I recognize that with Spiritual eyes I can continue to see the world that way as I go through my day. There is a lot going on around us all the time if we would be willing to see and enter in.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mark of Discipleship

I was listening to a speaker explain his discipleship method in China: the fastest area of Christian growth in the world, maybe ever. He said, “What we do is we tell the story of the Bible and then we say ‘go and do.’ When you have obeyed, come back and we will give you another story.” They insist obedience is the mark of discipleship! Within four lessons the new believer is now leading a church in his home. He has obeyed to command to pray, tell, gather and teach others to obey and he is replicating the discipleship that he has learned. We spend a lifetime listening, thinking that learning is discipleship. It is not. Obedience is the mark of discipleship.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mountain Biking

My daughter went on her first mountain bike ride this week! She’s eight and just got a new bike for her birthday and she wanted to go mountain biking. I took her to a park where there is a section of smooth single track and we rode for about half an hour. She did great, but she would freak when she saw a cactus or rock. I just kept telling her to keep her eye on the trail and peddle. As we got off the trail and were on some gravel heading back to the car there was a small hill we had to climb. Twenty feet from the car, as she was trying to go up the hill, she crashed. I jumped off my bike and scooped her up. Her knee was bleeding and she was crying. I held her as she said, “I never want to go mountain biking again!” Then five minutes later at Sonic she asked, “When can we go again?”
Life is full of obstacles, dangers and hardships but we have to keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith and ride our race. The trail is not always smooth. We are going to crash and feel like giving up sometimes, but we have to dust ourselves off and with the hope and expectancy of a new day get back up and ride. I know you have had an obstacle or crash this week, but don’t give in or give up. Keep riding because you never know what kind of beauty or adventure is just around the bend.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Favorable Year?

Last week, rice and grain shortages among the global poor reached ‘newsworthy’ levels. Third world countries pay $13 in debt for every $1 they receive in grants. Without debt relief, these economies will continue to see oppressive poverty. Jesus said, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) The "favorable year" is the jubilee when debt is forgiven, when land is returned, and when Sabbath is shared. Later in the same chapter, his message is rejected and his life is threatened by the people who watched him grow up because what he suggested was uncomfortable and unpopular. For us his people, those who are entrusted with the Good News—this Gospel—what does “jubilee” look like? What does setting the captive free look like? Try eating only one bowl of rice a day for one week and pray for the Good News to the poor. As I evaluate my own habits and practices, I wonder how I have missed this Gospel.

Monday, April 28, 2008

State of the Heart

Jesus was not a pacifist. The scripture is starkly bold “do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles…” (Matthew 5:39-41) This is not pacifism, nor is it violence. It is what Shane Claiborne refers to as the third way of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus stands without backing down to a slap to reveal the weakness of the other person who would slap the other cheek. Jesus disrobes all his earthly possessions for the weakness of hatred to be revealed in the heart of the one who would sue you into poverty. Jesus goes an extra mile to reveal the corruptness of the heart that would break even his own law in order to have control or power over you. This is not passivity and cowardice, nor is this the unrestrained arrogance of power based in control. What Jesus teaches and models is far more difficult, bold and courageous: He takes all of the force of the punch of hatred and withstands it in order to reveal the impurity of heart of the one who throws the punch because he knows only when the individual realizes their state of their own heart can it begin to change. No amount of force can trample out evil.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How do you change a country?

Seventy-seven dollars at the pump! You begin to wonder how many billion dollars have we spent in the name of freedom to decimate a country with bombs when the same money could have provided a home and income for every one of them for the same fifteen-year period. Ghandi and MLK modeled passive resistance: how only the change in a man's heart can change a country. Jesus never picked up a sword, but he changed the world with love and sacrifice. We are a country whose hippies are now the wealthiest generation the world has known and their lost ideals have turned into heartless capitalism and the alienation of the world. This may seem anti-American but my concern is less about patriotism and more about Christ-likeness. I have erased these sentiments so as not to be divisive but I wrestle with the silence. We have lost our way and are trying to combat radical Islam with bombs-did we learn nothing from the crusades? We hide behind our freedoms and wealth but we have lost our ideals because we have marginalized our beliefs. Would not love provide the shock and awe we are in need of?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Church Plants

I was asked, “Why in the world would we consider sending some of our people out to help start a church plant?” The answer is pretty simple really: "they're not our people" and "it's how we got started.” We can get pretty possessive and we try to monitor all the health metrics on attendance, giving, baptism and exchanges but at the end of the day, we want God's Kingdom to advance. Mission Church is a church plant in the Helotes area and Ryan Frazier is a friend who is going to be leading this prevailing church plant at O'Connor High School. Grace Point is on the front edge of church planting and we trust that by giving or sending more people will come to know Christ. We don't care who gets the credit and we trust that Grace Point won't wither away if many are sent to help start a new work. That's the secret: if you give it away, it comes back. It’s an upside-down kingdom.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sitting in traffic...

I was caught in traffic the other day and saw some window stickers on the back of a truck. Behind the passenger side was the picture of a little boy kneeling at a cross. Behind the driver side was the picture of a screaming boy with the caption that said, “Life is short, party naked.” I am no longer surprised that in our world both of these sentiments are expressed and lived by the same people. We seem to have a two-tiered view of our lives. We love Jesus and yet we see no disconnect in living ways that are contrary to Him and His way. I recognize this in my own life and yet I still see it as problematic—a clear dissonance—but to the emerging culture these are not seen as conflicting or problematic, only that’s just the way it is. Our view of following Jesus has been mixed into our cultural norms and we have adapted Christ to us rather than conforming to His image and shaping the world around us. We kneel at the cross on one side and “party naked” on the other and it’s all portrayed as a composite whole. The confusion of what it means to follow Christ gives way to a confused message and a confounding lifestyle.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Check it out!

I have started using my personal website to post devotionals and blog-like entries.
Take advantage of the Guestbook and let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I just dropped off my wife and oldest daughter (13) for a week long mission trip in Honduras. It is a strange feeling 'sending' your wife and daughter off to a strange land where there is perceptibly more danger and less control. I trust they will be well and God will open their eyes to see there what is all around them here. God speaks to us in the going and the sending--the illusion of control that we live under is undressed when we send and the blindness of opportunity is unveiled when we go. Both the going and the sending open our eyes to the life we take for granted right in front of us everyday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thoughts on Leadership

I'm a leader, therefore I must lead, read, lead, teach, lead, serve, lead, model and lead.
I must give it away because I have very limited abilities. I must focus and delegate.
I must clarify who I can lead, what leading looks like and how is it evaluated.
I must choose to lead those who are following and not those who I wish would follow.
I must reconcile that my calling is irrevocable--failure is not an option. Affliction is part of character building and the time is short.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

cynical faith

My son rolled an ATV right in front of me, and what I saw was amazing and miraculous. I told him he needed to thank God for His ministering angels. There was an ascent from my son but also a veiled cynicism. Familiarity breeds contempt and the more we are around the miraculous the less it registers.
I shook hands with Steve Larson on Sunday evening, he's been healed from Leukemia, though we've never really talked about it--the cynicism lingers. I prayed over Tracey Flores and my heart sank as I heard of her stage 3 cancer and yet she beamed in her trust of God and I was shamed.
I find it easier to trust God for the unseen than to validate the miraculous He has done in my midst. God has converged one miracle after another in my life this week and I cannot deny, suppress, dismiss His supernatural presence. I am broken that my cynicism has been shared, passed on and infected others. I see it in the faces of others when I talk about the miracle of faith, healing, deliverence, angels, and protection. I'm broken in this moment because I can no longer allow my own jaded heart to veil the glory of God. It is so apparent all around even in this moment. God, forgive me for hiding the light under the basket, wearing the veil, tolerating the scales, and minimizing the faith of others through cynicism. The sin of our age: the joy-stealing, faith-quenching, glory-robbing attitude of pride mixed with doubt. I'm sorry.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Suzanne @ 50

My sister Suz turned 50 yesteday and nobody turned 50 more graciously than she. I was thinking how her birthday has been one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received. Though she is a decade further along, she and I have always been close. We have laughed, cried, prayed and grown together as friends. She is passionate and principled, has a exuberance for life and is generous to a fault. There are few people I admire more and if she is your friend you have a true one. She will not tell you what you want to hear unless, of course, what you want to hear is what you need to hear but she will tell you out of your best interest and an unguiled sense of love. She is intense--a good intense like warmth from a fire or the light from the sun. She is a devoted wife, tested and true, and a tireless mother, sacrificial and steadfast. Fifty years doesn't seem that long the closer I get to it. As you approach getting older, you begin to realize the uniqueness of deep relationships and the trueness of character. You begin to value and cherish people--the clear and certain people who have been tested to the core of their character and who, though flawed in their own way, remain true. Suzanne at 50 is a paragon to beauty, virtue, love, joy and the zest to live in pursuit of Christ.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Red Bud: First and Best

The Red Bud tree outside my office reminds me of the splendor of Spring. It is always the first to bloom risking frost and it is always the most brilliant. Giving your first and best to God is not a mere act of obedience but the heroic act of trust as well as the sign to all that change, life, warmth and light are all on the horizon. First and best is about hope about love bursting into the darkness. The Red Bud tree is always first and brilliantly beautiful giving forth its best. I'd love to be consistently this bold and beautiful, risking the frost and yet still busting out in undeniable beauty--first and best.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Foie est Foie

Aaron Harvie and I were in the La Boqueria in Barcelona looking for the Rachel Ray recommended restaurant. What we found was a crowded little kiosk of sorts with a bustling but cramped staff of three meeting the needs of dozens of patrons. We waited and we sat down, looking at the menu. Our Spanish, not to mention Catalon, was not very good so with regards to a menu I asked about huevos con fritos. "Que est ..." and the man would simply pick up the item. The first was squid and the second item was fish. The third item said heuvos con fritos con foie. I asked "que est foie?" With astonishment and disdain the man said "foie?" Then there was a contemptuous pause followed by him emphatically saying "Foie est Foie!" So I ordered that. It was the best fried egg and duck liver I have ever eaten--seriously good. Sometimes you can't boil it down any further, and you can't show a picture or explain it, but can only experience it. Foie est Foie...and it's good.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Yesterday as I drove up to the church there were over 40 Buzzards sitting in the front of the church property. I slowed and looked and they were congregating but there was no obvious corpse. "Lord, is this some sort of sign or something?" I'm in a bit of a fog on Monday mornings anyway but this was eerily strange. Later in the day they were still there. As I drove to my lunch appointment, I passed the hord of vultures sunning themselves on the front property as thousands of cars passed by obvious aware that something was dead at that church. What a PR nightmare: "buzzards descend on Grace Point." I slowed and looked into the creek where there was the corpse of a deer that was probably hit crossing the street to eat all of our plants. I then had mixed emotions: part of me glad the landscape eating bandit got caught in the gauntlet and then miffed that death brings buzzards. As I drove home they were still there and maybe today when I go in the all day buffet will still be open. My wish is that the dead churches all around the country would have such a clear indication as buzzards on the lawn. There are just not enough buzzards to go around.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Full Circle

A few years ago our church produced a Worship CD and one of the songs "I want my life to be" I helped co-write. It was a great project and our church really got behind the CD and it was well circulated.
Fast Forward to last month or four years Niece has turned her life around and decided to focus on Jesus and distance herself from selfish and self destructive lifestyles. She has a new roommate from Saudi Arabia who is an active believer and she is reorienting her life and choices. As she stepped out of the shower she heard the song "I want my life to be" and she said hey is that my CD? Her roommate said no "it's mine". My niece replied " but that's my uncle's song....where did you get the CD"? She said "my youth minister when visiting the states came back to Saudi with the CD and gave it to me"...
My niece called me that morning to share the amazing story of how far and vast one act of worship can travel and how remarkable and significant seemingly unnoticed acts of faith can transform someone else. I praise God for allowing the little things to come full circle and remind me of how Great and Awesome, Deep and How wide his love is.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bike Porn

The Magazine is called Mountain Bike and the January 08 edition has all the new bike offerings for 08 from the various makers. They are laid out in Glossy airbrushed pics fearturing the flawless perflect positioned bikes in such away that they are glistening and mesmerizing. Page after page each bike with it's unique features entices you to want to purchase or possess. On my plane ride home I had given my magazine away but I saw another guy ooogling the same edition. Whether it's guitars, cars, William Sonoma, it's all the same it's porn. Pictures developed to cultivate desire and lust to the point of conquest. I'm addicted to internet bike porn and i'm not proud of it. I have a bike a great bike...why can't I just be satisified and be a one bike man? why do I always have to look and lust?
It seems addiction is the obsession with possession....when you become bored with addiction it no longer possesses could be's the thing that inhibits full devotion, seeking first, hearing His voice. It could be bike porn.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Missionary Minded

Three days removed and having cafe con leche withdraw I am reflecting on the challenges facing Missionaries in Western Europe. The U.S. is drawing closer to the context of Western Europe...Prostitution is legal in many places in the U.S. the Medicinal use of Marijuana and a porn obsessed internet generation...we are more secular all the time and the relative nature of religious belief continues to make people numb. There are similarities and yet we still have an open window. In Western Europe the context is difficult and then add Missionary Board guidelines that make it all the more difficult to accomplish. The board is not bad they just are not on the Western European field. They pass well meaning guidelines but aren't able to see the domino in Western Europe. Bureacracies in general are this way...they mean well but slow and cloud the effectiveness because of an inability or lack of experience on the actual field of play. In Western Europe I learned a great lesson...don't rage against the machine...but be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. I then added a life lesson or spiritual discipline that I am going to grow in and pursue...Ecc. 7:9 "Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit for anger resides in the lap of fools"... More than anything I admire the men and women who are undeterred in their calling and unprovoked in their spirit's...I hope to become more like them....more like Christ.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Father Daughter Dance

I stepped off the plane at 6:30 p.m. I had slept 4 hours of the last 48 and I was running on adrenaline, caffeine and determination. There were 3 beautiful girls awaiting my arrival at the Dance. I snuck in the back and waited for hot never came in the 'bat cave' I just dressed quickly and put on some extra deodorant and found my girls dressed up like Cinderella and we danced. My oldest and I slow danced to "butterfly kisses" and I held back my tears as best I could. She had told me a boy would be coming to talk to me...since she was 5 she has been told anyone who wanted to be a boyfriend would have to ask me first. And we rocked back and forth and my mind was swimming with emotions I've never had and can't pretend to understand. So at this point I traded out a 13 year old for 6 and 8 and we jumped and twisted, giggled and laughed...they snuggled my neck and told me "daddy I'm so glad your home" This I can makes me feel so 'like a dad', wanted and in control...but 13 so much like a woman, dancing with her head next to mine telling me of the boy who will come and ask me the question.....she's growing fast, faster now than I'm ready to admit and in my heart she pulls away slowly with every inch and year...and the singer sings.."and I know I'll have to let her go but I'll always remember a hug every morning and butterfly kisses at night"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Epic Ride

Emilio my guide is part catelonian and part Mountain Goat his mantra is " to go down we must first go up" and up we went...and went and went...Emilio was gracious and waited on me to climb I said I was "sorry to slow us down" he assured me his day was carved out to make my ride perfect...and it was. From the top of the mountain we could see the Mediteranean and beautiful Barcleona meandering to the sea. We covered miles of single track and carved through a little one point well into a rigorous ride it happened...the moment when the smile comes across your face because you are in the beauty God created, riding like a child pushing the edges of new found freedom and simply being...enjoying...Life. We finished the ride and Emilio and I went for a snack "tappas" and we reminisced about our epic and his trip to San Antonio so that I can return the favor. The payoff of a ear to ear smile is only gained my lung pounding climbing...and it's good to make new friends along the way....Epic indeed

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


We often under appreciate team dynamics in North America...we often suffer with vinegar and water relationships because we seperate work and life...on the mission field this tension can sink the cause of Christ and it is painfully realized. This is no less true at in North America but it is easily overlooked and the lack of chemistry or toxic chemistry is endured and even apathetically accepted. I'm watching mission teams here thrive as well as come to sober assessments about team and who is in and who is not and chemistry and the ability to have life together is a key part. There are entire teams that relocate together...they are family forged out of hardship and mission and then others fragment because of intolerable chemistry that is suppressed, endured and accepted. I'm not sure I have ever fully appreciated the gravity...When the cause of Christ is dependent upon the chemistry of the team it is vitally clear how important team becomes...and make no mistake the cause of Christ is dependent upon how we live together, dwell together, unite and love.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Missionary Graveyard

I've been in a room with the Southern Baptist International Missionary Board's Western European Contingent and my eyes have been opened and my perspective changed. Barcelona is beautiful, artistic, bustling with life and can get a starbucks and the conveniences are unprecedented. It's easy to imagine yourself being a 'missionary' in a place like this... I mean how hard can it be? Then after a few days you realize the people are Ghost's ..spiritually vacant. Lost in a profound speak of God is like speaking of Santa Clause. Living in Western Europe as a missionary is like being a 8 track are odd and irrelevant w/seemingly nothing to are never even given a listen because you are so misunderstood. If you don't know what an 8 track tape is you are my point...if you get my point. Hearing the hearts of these missionaries has kindled something in me...they are warriors. What if I were called to a field ensured of little or no results...rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice...what if my style or finesse, my passion or ethos would never earn me a hearing...and even if a strong relationship was built the message of Jesus was still rejected out of hand...year after year. What if I spoke to my American friends and they offered me solutions that were scissors to a tree trimmer. And then I heard the phrase.."you know they call this the Graveyard for missionaries". I have few heroes...fewer all the time it seems...but outside the halls of Richmond and the irrelevant politics in Nashville ...These men and women are the rock stars...if they were the face of Southern Baptist we would be loved and welcomed we would be revered and unified...they would know us by fruit rather than fights...This may be the missionary Graveyard but it is a Hebrews 11 hall of faith a mosoleum of Faithfulness to the Jesus who unifies us and not the pharisee politicos that divide

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Rain in Spain....

Barcelona is an ancient and beautiful city strewn with modern architecture and ancient gothic architecture. The people are Catalan, Spanish, Catholic, Christian, Atheist, Agnostic and they see know contradiction in that view of themselves. The Reign of Christendom has passed by long ago and the secular tide of humanism is the heart beat. No one is against the Christ they think of him like Santa Claus and the ruins of the Catholic Church relegated to museums. The atrocities of the Spanish against the Catalonianas is evident everywhere you turn and the spirit of rebellion and independence is strong...too bad they do not recognize Jesus was the rebel who broke into the world of darkness and freed the oppressed...that's what happens when we dress Jesus us up in suit and tie one recognizes Him...The state of international missions in western europe is sparkling once again as a new generation of Christ followers live transformed lives among the captives...maybe this time they will see Him.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Rule

In Colossians 3 the Peace of Christ is to Rule in our hearts...I'm to put off the old man with anger, wrath, malice, obscene language and lies....and I'm to put on compassion, gentleness, patience, humility, forgiveness the way Christ forgave me...and of course love. The Rule of Christ in my heart comes down to putting off and putting on. There are aspects of the new life that I must work more diligently to put on...and aspects of the old man that are as difficult to shed as longjohns over snow boots but the one simple rule is whatever characteristics I'm displaying at the time reveal the man I am at the moment...not the man I was intended to be, or even my fundamental identity... but the man I'm choosing to be. That's the rule and He rules when we shed the habits of flesh...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Last Move

In John Ortberg's book "When the game is over everything goes back in the book" He finishes the book by saying the King still has one more move. In some respects I don't like the analogy of life as a game. I often weary with the game playing in relationships and the strategic moves of upper and lower hands. There are the mental and emotional games of denial and self adulation that distort reality...but mostly games are about winning and losing and I don't like the zero sum analogy to life. I like Ortberg enough and read his stuff, in spite of the increasingly diluted content, it's hard to maintain and sustain depth...Life is not a Zero Sum game of win/lose...The pursuit of Christlikeness is only possible through putting to death the 'deed/desires of the flesh'...somewhere along the way we have lost the understanding that to grow in Christlikeness means to continue to grow in the ability to replace the strong habits of flesh with the practices of righteousness and this cannot happen through effort but through 'training in righteousness' aided by the grace of the Spirit. It's not enough to roll the dice and make the most of your turn...we have lost the vision of being like Jesus and settled for carrying out his mission. You cannot accomplish Mission if you lose Vision. For a season I lost vision... I know how dangerous it can be to take your eyes off of becoming like Christ...merely carrying out the activities of ministry. I watch as so many lose their sense of calling and become mere cogs in a religious wheel...feeling 'good' about their life but having lost the vision of becoming like him. I do believe that the King does get the final move but it is no game it is the ultimate counter offensive, the reaping of the harvest of all who pursue him...and life is in the living...the moments of grasping and pursuing the vision...everything else is the maintaining of righteousness.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Two Steppin

Last night Jody and I went to Floore's Country Store in is a famous dance hall...the stuff of country music songs and lore. Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and Waylon Jennings have all regularly played Floore's. It was family night and after a refresher lesson...Jody and I gave it our I'm no two stepper but I had fun...mostly being with friends but also watching some old timers cut a rug and have a blast. It was one of those moments...a quintessential South Texas Dance Hall, the boots and hats and country music...and we were two stepping. It's good to be with friends and it's good to's good to see folks with a lot more years under their belt still gives you's good to get a since of history by being part of it and it's good to laugh and we did...we were two steppin.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Defense of Food

I read this New York Times best seller and was amazed...In defense of food is about everything..politics, FDA, Marketing, Farming...but the bottom line is that we rarely eat food anymore. In fact one of the first cases of a child being diagnosed simultaneously with obesity and malnutrition has taken place in Oakland. The simple advice is that we should return to eating food...stuff that had a face or grew from the ground. So lately I've been putting it to the test...I eat soups the brothy kind devoid of a can of mushroom soup...salads, chicken and fish...i pass on anything that comes out of a package with ingredients I can't understand. I mean I read the label on my 100% whole wheat bread and I was actually has high fructose corn syrup and a bunch of other stuff I can't pronounce. So I switched to Ezekiel bread..sprouted barley and spelt and rye etc...all 100% peanut butter contents "roasted nuts and salt" that's it...Last night I had an epic meal at a Thai restaurant...Lemongrass soup and lettuce In two weeks I've dropped 7lbs. Yes I'm working out more and all that...but the bottom line is my body is getting what it needs because I'm eating food.
Could it really be that all we really needed was provided in the Garden of Eden afterall. Is it possible we are killing ourselves over abundance of things that are pleasurable for a moment but don't really provide sustenance? How true is that in what I purchase, what I read, what I watch, what I eat....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Finally after 3 months my Amazon Kindle's an amazing book actually...or bookstore. About the size of a paper back I can download over 100,000 books from anywhere in the world anytime without accessing a wireless port...the whispernet technology connects to whatever wireless tower is available and downloads my pick for only the cost of the book. The features of highlighting, clipping, uploading to my pc and a whole host of other neat little nuances is quite nice. I have three books on my kindle plus the Bible and it all fits into the size of a 7x5 journal. It can hold 100's of books.
I have a feeling my kids will all have kindles...or some tech like it...they will get their newspaper on it, there blogs etc...There will be those of an older generation who won't adapt so quickly but in time we might all be carrying around our library in the palm of our hands.
I was brought up to understand 'if you lead you read'......I think that is true...the kindle is magic to a reader. I researched these for a while, and I waited...not my strength...but so far It has not disappointed. So here's to reading...may it allow you to lead.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Going Postal

Deacon Dick is the thorn in my friend Tony's side. Deacon Dick tries to run the church and is a critic for Tony who is trying to bring about change. There is no encouragement and only the sniveling chisel of critique and unseasoned opinion, the kind of monday morning quarterbacking we are all prone to when we think we know what a certain job/role is about though we've never done it. Tony was a Postal worker before surrendering to ministry and he's lasted longer at the church than any pastor before him.. he says the numbing work and union politics of postal life prepared him to weather 'Deacon Dick'. Nehemiah had SanBallat, Jesus had Judas, there is always going to be someone on the inside who squeaks and creeks, complains and chisels but like Nehemiah the work is too important to be sidetracked and Like Tony God has prepared you for the encounter so lean into the Spirit and don't succumb to the flesh. The other side of the coin is there are people in your life who could use some encouragement or constructive coaching so don't be cavalier with your advice or fancy yourself an expert about their job unless you've done it...think about it...don't be a deacon dick.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Brandon Morton

"like the salt" he said referring to his last name. The first time I met Brandon my sense was 'jovial'...the guy is just a genuinely happy guy. Friendly, joyful, kind. Each time I have come across Brandon he's oozed joy. Last night in the commuter apartment I stay in when I travel to Kansas I learned Brandon's story. Twice he's been inprisoned, once at 16 for armed robbery then later in his twenty's because of drug related parole violation. Brandon was a methamphetamine addict who as he tells it "was stuck on stupid" until he met Jesus. He is radically saved. A plumber by profession serves his local church and is enrolled at the seminary so that he can go into full time ministry. The joy....he who has been forgiven much, loves much. I went to bed last night amazed...another captive set free...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


It's snowing...falling like feathers...huge clumps of snow covering the sky. It's quiet, peaceful and beautiful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Big Sexy

That's his nickname and I didn't give it to him...It was two years ago when we first met and we roomed with an undergrad when during the summer Mark came out in some tidy whitey underwear and the undergrad said "well aren't you the big sexy' and it stuck.... We've roomed together now off and on when I come to Kansas City for class and it's like rooming with John Wayne if he were one of the disciples. God just put us together since day one and over the last few years we have helped plant a church together and we have networked ministry trips and God has used a strange Felix Unger/Oscar Madison relationship of his own making. This is probably my last trip to Kansas in which I'll have opportunity to room with the Big Sexy and even now as I write this hiding under my blanket so he can snore I am amazed at how God weaves the thread of redemption often using the oddest of combinations...and yet he is the person and cause of Jesus. Jesus is the tie that binds us...even when the couple is odd and the sight not so appealing...tidy whitey's weren't made for everyone.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

evangecube toy

My 11 year old 8 year old and 6 year old were upstairs playing when my 6 year old came across the "evangecube", which is a cube with the story of Christ in very bright illustrated form. My 6 year old was trying to get it to work when she asked the 8 year old for help. So upstairs in our play room the 11 year old and the 8 year old when through the story of salvation and how Jesus had to die for our sin but how if we accept the Jesus and his work upon the Christ we can have the relationship with God that was always intended...My 6 year old came down stairs and told her mom she wanted to 'exchange' her life and as they talked through it she prayed and gave her life to Jesus.
I think the toys we play with are important...our hobbies our make believe define us....I think any Christ follower is capable of helping someone come to Jesus. There is no substitute for the great sense of joy in listening to my 6 year old tell me she 'exchanged' her life...I pulled a rock out of my pocket that day someone had given it to me and on it was chiseled it seems..

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The experiment

Today is day four of no television.....the first step in recovery is to admit you have a problem. It began with my father in laws gift of a 52 inch DLP HD screen a year ago. So we decided it would be a waste if we didn't have 'cable'. Then it slowly devolved into a nightly habit of watching 2 hours of television regardless of what was on...along the way I disovered 'survivorman', the Dog Whisperer and watched more movies that I can remember. John Ortberg says the most dangerous object in the home is the 'easy chair' and I must admit I agree. I've spent less time on the street with neighbors, on my bike or in the garage. I've spent less time with my wife, though next to her at times...luring her into the addiction. So on Monday of this week I quit it...I missed the National Championship...I should say I didn't watch it...I didn't miss life is fuller because of it...Instead Jody and I had Spa night...where we gave each other back rubs...two hours a night equals 14 hours a week...that's two short work days or one massive work day a week...You could spend a month of your life in front of the T.V this's what I did last year...So I quit...I don't quit often...but somethings are worth walking away from. I'm not saying I won't watch a movie from time to time...I just don't want my life to be defined by the 'easy chair'.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Check Engine Light

My check engine light came on in my truck...I had already done the routine maintenance and it was in between 'significant' mile marks. I took the truck into the shop and a day later they called to tell me my fuel air sensor was bad. I asked if that was important and the tech said it was because it determined the amount of air to fuel that my engine should be getting. I pretended to understand what that signified and said alrighty then....They swamped it out in under an hour.
The check engine light in my life comes on from time to time and the Holy Spirit let's me know that an important sensor has gone bad....the difference is that when I pretend to understand verses really comprehending the gravity of the malfunction...nothing is swamped out. So often I need God to open up the hood and just swap a part out but he says come, let me show you and unless I'm willing to see the part, how it works, what went wrong and unless I'm willing to trade the old for new....then I just run with a bad fuel/air sensor and sooner or later things get worse.
Most days I just want to drop my soul off and pick it up later ....all better. That, for our sakes, is not how it works...God does all the diagnosing and repair, but we learn all along the way and we must be active in the process. Full service...yes...blissfully ignorant...No.

Friday, January 4, 2008

gratitude threshold

Studies show that some are more easily grateful than others. There is a certain % of the population that is grateful for simple things while others require something more 'significant' to register in order for gratitude to happen. I like this study because it let's me blame my ingratitude on my 'gratitude tolernace'....but like anything whether genetically predisposed or not that is only a small percent...the rest is discipline and effort. My goal is to bless God 24 times day. This morning I thanked him for my cat and the bradford trees that are a brilliant red this morning. I'm genetically predisposed not to give a rip about cats and bradford trees but so what, we overcome our genetics all the time. The capacity to be transformed is our God Granted is the 'work' of the Holy Spirit in our lives and these little 'reknewings' or revolutions of habit are the pathway. Gratitude is not a gift we give to God in order to acknowledge Him...Gratitude is his gift to is the great capacity to enjoy and he watches with delight. Gratitude is the tastebud at the onset of a tangerine, the eardrum of a symphony, the eye at the oceanside sunrise...Gratitude is God's gift to us...the capacity to enjoy the life he's given us.