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...