Friday, March 25, 2016

A Somber Week...

This week — Holy Week — is filled with grief and sadness over the injustice carried out as Jesus was wrongful convicted and executed. So Holy Week is always a somber week, but the bombings in Brussels on Tuesday took this somber week to a different level for me.
On Tuesday, you couldn’t turn on the radio or TV or go online without being inundated by images and coverage of the three explosions detonated in the Belgian capital that killed at least 34 people and injured 100s more. When that kind of pain, suffering, injustice, and senseless killing of innocent people are on display right in front of your face, you can feel the shadow of darkness close in.
These attacks remind us that we live in a Good Friday world. It was on Good Friday over 2,000 years ago that so many people, who had found the hope and promise of a brighter and better world in Jesus, had their dreams crushed. Their hope was smothered as they watched the Messiah put to death on a cross.
In Mark’s Gospel we are told that darkness overshadowed the land from noon until 3 p.m. I feel like the world is once again under a cloud of darkness. Overcome with grief and fear, how will we respond? As followers of Jesus Christ — as people who have Easter hope, the hope of resurrection — how are we going to respond individually and as a community?
We can all shake our heads in disbelief and sorrow. We can pray for our brothers and sisters in Brussels. We can pray for comfort for all those who lost a neighbor, friend or family member. We can pray for peace, for healing for all those injured physically and psychologically. As we hear the stories and see the images through eyes filled with tears, we remember that our tears are joined with God’s, weeping for the brokenness and suffering in His world.
Then, I remember that Sunday is coming. I cling to my faith, knowing that on the third day Jesus rose from the dead. I hold on to the promise that evil and hate never have the final word. I know the resurrection is coming for us and for our world through Jesus Christ — love wins!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Snow Day

Snow in Texas is rare.   Most of the time it is ice.  
Thursday morning I woke up to a beautiful sight. It was 2 a.m. and snow was falling.  I looked out the kitchen window into our front yard and watched the snowcoming down as I heated a bottle for Righteous. It really is awe-inspiring to watch as the snow covers the tree branches, the cars, the street with its breathtaking white artistry.

 Later that morning, during my morning reflection, realizing the snow had once again slowed down the pace of life; I was reminded of Psalm 46:10 –
“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.” (NRSV)
The snow had forced me to stop, to slow down.  
I am reminded of what God said to Job to "stop and consider the wondrous works of God." (Job 37:14)
Today the sun is shining and we are back to the busy schedule. But I encourage you to take some time to be still.  To stop, take stock of the wonderful creation around you and, if it's snowing (or raining or sunny ...), to slow down and recognize God's power. 
Take a few minutes and read Job chapter 37 and consider what God wants to share with you today.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is Saturday! Some people can’t wait and have been planning on how to celebrate for weeks if not months. Why? Because they love to celebrate love. But others dread it. They feel obligated to prove their affection for their significant other. And then there are those who wish to skip the day altogether because Valentine's Day reminds them they are single.

 I remember last year, I spent Valentine's Day volunteering at my kids' school. Part of my job was taking flowers and cards to different rooms. One of my deliveries was to a student in first grade—six red roses. The students were gone to Specials, so several of the first grade teachers were visiting in the hall and became very curious when I went into the classroom I did. They all said the teacher would be right back. I told them it wasn’t for the teacher but a student. You could see the let-down when I told them it was for a student. They thought this single first grade teacher had someone new in her life.

 How are you feeling?

 I must confess I have mixed emotions about Valentine's Day. Not because I don’t want to celebrate love, because I do. I have the love of my wife of almost 16 years, I have the love of my beautiful children and my extended family and friends. And I have the greatest unconditional love of God through Jesus Christ that I can celebrate on Saturday.

 I struggle with the influence of the 18 billion dollar holiday. I can get flowers for Allison on Valentine's Day or I can buy them on the day after for 75% off and afford to shower her with flowers on other occasions, which she deserves. Seriously, if you don’t believe me, go to Kroger on Sunday. But if I save the money, I feel horrible. Why? Because I didn’t do what is expected (by culture) to give cards, flowers, and chocolates—all of which are temporary.

Hear me say buying gifts for Valentine's isn’t inherently wrong – and sometimes they are the perfect gifts – but there are so many other ways I can communicate my affection for my wife and kids. But I still feel all the trappings of buying traditional gifts.

As I am writing this blog post, this verse on love came to me: "Jesus said, No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13). In the 15th chapter, John reminds us of how great God’s love is for each and every one of us, and reminds us that the greatest of love is not shown through material items, but through giving completely of ourselves. Maybe the best gift I can give this Valentine's Day is of myself, through intentional acts.

Whether your desk is filled with flowers and chocolates or you're rolling your eyes at it all because you're without a special someone this year, remember this: You are loved by God completely, and that's what matters. And if you are still looking for the best gift to give, consider giving intentional acts which show those you love that they are worthy of your whole being.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Puzzle of Life

One of the things we did as a family when I was growing up was work on jigsaw puzzles. It would take weeks. The first step was always laying out all the pieces and turning them right-side up. The next step involved putting all the edge pieces together. Then, we would look for large sections of the puzzle that had the same color pattern. We would work together, and slowly but surely, the final image would begin to emerge. One of the great things about working together on a puzzle was that we all saw different things along the way. Each person helped fill in missing sections that the rest of us hadn’t been able to figure out. It took all of us, and if we had missed any single piece, it mattered to the outcome—the picture would be incomplete. I don’t know about you, but at times, my life reminds me of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. I work hard to put all the pieces together – kids, marriage, work, friends, family, church, and ministry – but it can all become a bit overwhelming. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. We all work hard to lay out the many pieces of our lives so they will ultimately form a cohesive picture. We try to get a framework of what life is to look like, then we start putting everything together. But then something inevitably happens that causes a piece to be misplaced, or keeps us from clearly seeing the big picture. It is at these times that we need others to help us see the pieces we are missing, to see the picture from a different angle, or to connect pieces of life that we had not yet realized fit together. Life is not intended to be spent alone. God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other. This is why, as a church, we want everyone to be part of an intentional small group. This is why we structure the leadership of the church in teams. We need each other. Every piece matters, and we are better when we work together. We need our spouses, partners, children, friends, neighbors, small group members, and colleagues to help pick up the pieces, and to better see God’s vision for our lives. I am grateful for my wife, Allison, the Faith staff, my friends, my extended family, and my colleagues who have always been there to help pick up the pieces, who have seen things I could not see, and who stepped in to help connect parts of the big picture for me. They have all gathered around the table with me and helped put together the pieces of a beautiful life. Who are you grateful for this week? How might God be calling you to help with someone else’s puzzle?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010



Xbox vs. Playstation vs. Wii

Texas vs. Texas A&M

iPhone vs Android

Pepsi vs Coca Cola

I am sure you could list a bunch of other rivals throughout life. And the list could get really personal for me. My high school’s biggest Rival was the Fayetteville Bulldogs. Every year our game was billed as the battle of the Dogs. It was a week filled with tons of trash talking and us vs them statements. I wasn’t friends with any of them. However, my first week of college, I meet several of them, and discovered we had a lot in common. We became great friends.

It is crazy, but any rivalry is going to lead to winner vs loser attitudes which clouds our judgment.

I remember 100’s of commercials growing up about how x number of people choose coke over Pepsi in taste test. I remember taste tests being held in grocery stores, at the state fair, and other venues. Everyone had a preference. You were either with them or against them. Who is the winner in your book?

Pepsi or Coke, PC or Mac, or Texas or Texas A&M.

As Debra talked about in her Sermon on Sunday, “us” vs “them” has been around since the beginning of time. It is recorded throughout our biblical history. What I find profoundly challenging is that “us” vs “them” or “winner” and “loser” attitudes might be part of human nature, but it is not what God intends. In fact, Jesus came into the world to teach of a different reality. A world in which there is no partiality, no winners or losers, but a world where every knee will bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus is Lord. We are all children of God, we are all family, we are all part of “us”, and there is no “them”.
I think the challenge for us is to begin to see or dream of the unity we have in God, father, son, and spirit. Think about it.

Can you imagine what it might be if we didn’t talk about others as “them”, and ourselves as “us”?

Can you imagine what it would be like if we saw our neighbor not as them, but as us?

Can you imagine Aggies and Longhorns living in harmony?

Seriously what if we stopped talking about the other Christians, or the other churches, and we started talking about the body of Christ, about our brothers and sisters in Christ? What if we didn’t see others in the world, but saw brothers and sisters?

What rivalry do you need to let go for the sake of the Gospel?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering." St. Augustine

Monday, January 18, 2010

Light Bulb Moments

Passionate Worship
When The Light Bulb Went Off!

“The Word, Passionate, expresses an intense desire, an ardent spirit, strong feelings, and the sense of heightened importance,” says Bishop Robert Schnase in his book, Cultivating Fruitfulness (Abingdon Press, 2008 p. 25).

Worship could be described as intentional time given in community so that we might experience and encounter God.

I can say that I have been going to worship/church since I was born. My dad was a Methodist pastor and we were in worship every week and in worship multiple hours. I thought that was what everyone did. I was bored at times. I was sleepy at times. I was like every other kid, I thought. I sang in the children’s choir and rang bells. When I got older I went to youth group.

Worship wasn’t bad, in fact the music was familiar, and I liked to sing, but it wasn’t “fun.” (Except for children’s time) Worship was just something I did. Maybe you can relate… but by the time I was in High School things changed a little. I had been in a few pretty cool worship services… you know one of those services where everything just felt electric or like it was just for me. I remember some of those worship service were with special guest or special music where the music just lifted you out of your seat. Still others were on a retreat or mission trip. Most involved eating bread and sharing the common cup. Have you been there too?

I continued to go to church, throughout my college years. It was later in my life, I found myself longing for more of those moments, and I wondered why it wasn’t that way every week in worship. In talk with some of my friends about worship and how I just don’t get anything out of it some weeks, that The light bulb went off. One of my friends said, worship is not all about you and you get out of it what you put in. POW! What was my attitude like on those Sunday’s, how was I participating? Even later in my seminary training on leading worship, I was taught the audience of worship is not the congregation, but God. Everything we do in a worship service is done to give honor and glory to God.

Light Bulb…
Passionate worship isn’t about the style of music!
Passionate worship isn’t about being in a certain location!
Passionate worship isn’t about the sermon!

Passionate worship is you and me, the whole church who have gathered in that space at that exact time, to encounter and experience God! The way I worship today, was changed by these light bulb moments…

What is one of your Light bulb moments about Passionate Worship?