Tuesday, December 23, 2003

We are headed to Houston tomorrow. Won't be blogging for a few, unless I can sneak away to a Starbucks. Man, I love Starbucks and high speed internet! Merry Christmas!


The following is a letter I've writen to my mother in law. She is a wonderful lady and is battleing cancer as I write this. I hate cancer. It is the most ruthless reminder that this world is not our home and we are just a passing through. If you can gain encouragment or inspiration from the letter, consider it my gift.

Christmas ‘03


Merry Christmas! They say that Christmas is not about the gifts but I beg to differ. I want to draw your attention to a few gifts that I am especially grateful for this Christmas.

I am glad God gave you to me as a mother-in-law. The saying goes that “the definition of “mixed emotions” is seeing your mother in law drive your Cadillac over the cliff.” I have never felt that way about you. My feelings for you have nothing to do with a law but with love. You have been kind to me and I have always appreciated it. You are a gift.

I am very thankful for the gift of Kim. Kim has your great traits and any bad traits she does have are a result of Ralph, her siblings, living in a trailer or just bad luck. But she doesn’t have any bad traits in my book. I can’t praise you enough for raising such a wonderful daughter. She is a pure joy to go through life with and I have you and God to thank.

I am full of gratitude for the successful surgery you underwent and for the treatment you are in the middle of now. Every day with you in our lives is a priceless gift from God and I thank Him for your health daily.

Most of all, I am appreciative for the gift of Jesus. I praise God that you are too. This Christmas is a bit tougher on all of us, especially on you, due to your battle with cancer. I want you to know that we are praying for you every day. You and I both know that the gift of health is one that can be taken away. But the gift of Jesus is eternal and cannot be taken away.

Christmas is about gifts. More importantly, it is about the gift.

Merry Christmas Cathy!

Love your favorite (just kidding Keith) son in law,


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Wanna a great rendition of O-Come all ye Faithful? Click here:



Tis the season to seek the savior.

I ran across this article. Wow. Did this guy record some of my prayers and tap into my thoughts? Read and repent.

God & Google
Do you ever treat God like a search engine?
by Tracy Carbaugh

Have you googled today? If so, yours was one of the 150 million searches on the world's biggest search engine. Did you find what you were looking for? Google will always give you something. Sometimes the results are, "like, totally wacked." Sometimes they're "way tight." (I googled "modern slang.")

Do you ever approach God as if he were a giant search engine? You tell him what you want and expect instant results. What if God doesn't give you what you're really looking for? That's OK. There are lots of other "search engines" out there: parents, friends, the mall.

But God isn't the big search engine in the sky. And if he has something in mind for you, he won't substitute it for something that's second best—even if it's something you really want or think you need. Here are some things to remember about God:

God knows your deepest desires—and motives—before you ask: "O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. … You perceive my thoughts from afar. … Before a word is on my tongue you know it com-pletely" (Psalm 139:1-4).

Even though God already knows your thoughts, don't skip prayer: "How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him" (Matthew 7:11).

Didn't get what you asked for? Maybe it's not good for you: "Every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17).

Your ultimate search should always be for God himself: "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always" (Psalm 105:4).

God isn't like Google. He won't give you something substandard just to satisfy your immediate desires. So keep asking, and seeking, and knocking—and know that he wants to give you the very best he has to offer.

Think about it:

What am I searching for?

Why should I pray?

How do I know God answers prayer?

What are three things I should pray about today?

This devotion was adapted from a writing that appears in the summer edition of Soul Journey, a daily devotional guide published by our friends at RBC Ministries. Go online each day for a new devotion from this faith-stretching guide: www.soul-journey.org. Or subscribe to the magazine version of Soul Journey at www.getsj.com

Friday, December 12, 2003

I heard a redneck disc jockey crack the following joke over the radio this morning at the gym. Forgive me if it offends you. I found it funny.

"Have you heard of that show, Queer eye for the straight guy? Man what kinda show is that? Who watches this crap? Boy, don't even think about putting me on that show. You'd have to change the name to "Black eye for the queer guy!"

You got to love Abilene.

Just ran across this one on the web. Great analogy. Worth the read.

Prayer of JaPEZ
by Steve Case

I'm not now, nor have I ever been an urban youth minister. I've spent my career in youth ministry working with basically happy, upper middle class, white kids. I've worked in suburban churches with mostly good budgets in mostly good neighborhoods. I don't think I have the right to offer comment (humorous or otherwise) on the state of urban ministry today.

So let's take this time to discuss one of the most underrated youth ministry tools of our time.

PEZ dispensers.

PEZ dispensers can bring us closer to God. Think about it for a moment. The simple design of a PEZ dispenser hasn't been improved upon since its invention nearly 50 years ago. A simple plastic toy with a plastic head that, when tilted back, gives you one small piece of sugar candy. Let's start with the obvious reference of Luke 11:9:

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Now let's look deeper. In a world where robot dogs are being given away in fast food kid meals and teens are flipping out over the latest mega-bit graphic video game, the PEZ dispenser shows that simplicity in life is the greatest reward. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus said, "Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

PEZ dispensers have also achieved their own private level of coolness. To own one is to stand out and say, "Hey, I'm not one of the crowd." "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2) Then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

What happens when you pull a PEZ dispenser out of your book bag or your pocket during a youth meeting or on a long drive? A dozen hands come out asking for just one tablet. PEZ dispensers open up lines of communication between strangers on a bus and break down barriers in a board meeting. The simple act of sharing a PEZ candy can lead to sharing stories of childhood and eventually of faith.

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions were his own, but they shared everything they had." (Acts 4:32)

PEZ dispensers come in thousands of different styles. Each character on a PEZ allows us to express our own individuality to the world. Show the world you're a Charlie Brown, a Batman, or a Kermit the Frog. We're all different flavors and characters, but we're all still part of the body of Christ.

"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." (1 Cor. 12:12-13)

I want to see Biblical PEZ dispensers. Great heroes of the Bible depicted in PEZ plastic. The Moses PEZ dispenser would have only two tablets. The John the Baptist PEZ would have a removable head. The Jesus PEZ dispenser would somehow never run out. Imagine a Nativity display comprised entirely of PEZ characters. The Adam and Eve dispensers would…well, never mind.

For those of you thinking, "He's getting a freebie," the answer is no. I'm not getting anything from the PEZ Company. (Although if they're reading this article and felt so obliged they could express their gratitude by sending it in care of this journal.)

We have a simply designed tool, uncomplicated and accessible. It allows us to express our individuality while at the same time opening the doors that remind us we're all connected.

Could there be a more perfect tool for youth ministry, urban or otherwise?

I don't think so.

Listen to these words:

"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised."

How cool was that? Did you check that?

Against all hope . . . he trusted God's power to keep his promise.

He faced the facts . . . without weakening his faith.

He knew that the though his body and her womb were dead . . . but God wasn't.

I am praying today for a faith like Abraham. How about you?

Monday, December 08, 2003

Got this from my friends at Youth Specialties. Definitely worth the read.

When people decide to look for Jesus, what's the best way to find him? Is faith primarily a matter of the head or the heart? No one has all the answers, but if you listen closely to the biblical Christmas stories this year, you'll find some good clues.

How did the Magi (wise men) find Jesus? They used their gray matter. They studied. They pondered. They discussed. They combined their knowledge and logic. And even though all they had to go on was a general direction, they acted.

The shepherds, on the other hand, weren't rocket scientists. They were simple guys working the night shift. They had gray matter, too, but it was caked on their sandals after tromping around in sheep by-products that smelled like--well, let's just say the stuff didn't smell like frankincense. But when a bevy of heavenly strangers showed up and told them the good news about Jesus, they acted.

Meanwhile, there were two senior citizens at the temple who were also included in the celebration of Jesus' birth. Simeon was "a righteous man and very devout" who had been promised by God that he wouldn't die until he had seen "the Lord's Messiah." Anna was an 84-year-old widow who "never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer." You don't see these two standing around the manger in the Christmas story in Luke 2, because Jesus went to them. When Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus to the temple to thank God with a sacrifice, Simeon and Anna both got to see him and rejoice.

If finding Jesus required smarts, the shepherds would still be sitting in the dark. If it took a choir of angels handing out personal invitations, the Magi would have stayed home. If it took lots of money, the right friends, a good reputation, or a prestigious job, then Mary and Joseph wouldn't have qualified in the first place.

These Christmas stories suggest that God uses many methods to call people to himself through his Son, and we ALL are invited. Whether we're trying to find out more about Jesus through spiritual, intellectual, or emotional pursuits, the key is not how much we know, but rather how we ACT on what we know.

The only person in all of these stories who didn't find Jesus was the one with the most resources at his disposal. King Herod was told exactly where to look for Jesus. But instead of going himself, he asked the Magi to check it out for him. Some people still lose out on the world's most wonderful discovery when they leave the searching up to parents, friends, or someone else.

The Bible promises that those who seek will find. And if you're seeking Jesus, what you find will change not only your life, but your eternity as well. So in the next few weeks, use your head AND your heart as you look for the real meaning of Christmas. Better yet, take a hint from Anna and Simeon. When you devote yourself to a righteous and devout life, you can't miss him.

Growing up in California, summer was my season. There are lots of reasons but the biggest is because it is really our only season. Things never really die so that wiped out fall and spring and try telling someone in any where else in the nation (other than Arizona) about "California Winters" and you will get laughed at mercilessly.

Things change.

Fall is my new favorite season. It is probably due to a combination of factors including the splendid fact that we are undergoing one of the most beautiful falls I have ever experienced here in Abilene. It could have something to due with baseball playoffs and football season, but I doubt it. There are the brisk walks, the falling leaves, and wearing really comfortable sweatshirts that are a bonus as well. But that is not why I am falling for fall.

Fall is about change. So is Spring but in a different way. Fall is the cause of change. Spring is the result of change. Fall is tougher, less pretty, and often unpleasant. Spring announces, "here comes Summer!" Fall windfully whispers, "get ready, Winter is on its way."

Change is good. I'm playing in it these days the way a kid rakes a big pile of leaves and jumps in them. I see more than just seasons changing these days too. I see the force of change. The Father over all nature. He is saying to me, things changes. Change is inevitable. Button up. Let go of every leaf. Let the wind of my Spirit and the brisk breath of Christ breath into you change.


Ok, here are the last three parts to my sermon thougths on "The Root of the Fruit"

3. It is Significant

The Bible talks a lot about fruit. In the Old Testament Israel was referred to as a vine in Psalam 80, Isaiah 5 and Jeremiah 2.

In Matthew 3, before Jesus even speaks a word we find John the Baptist saying, “produce fruit!” and later in Matthew 7:20 we find Jesus telling his disciples that it is by their fruit that people will recognize them and that they are to recognize others.

Romans 6 talks about reaping, Ephesians 5 tells us that the darkness is a fruitless state to live in. Philippians 1:11 calls us to be filled with the fruit of righteousness but the classic passage in the Bible on Fruit is found in Galatians 5 starting in verse 22. If you have your Bibles go ahead and turn to Galatians 5:22. Let’s read it again.

4. It is Seen

The fourth fact about fruit is that it is seen. If we see a tree – we don’t know what kind of tree it is until we see the fruit. Fruit is an outside thing that can be seen. Notice I didn’t say it had to be heard. You don’t walk up to a tree and have it go “hey check me out – I’m an apple tree, I’m an apple tree aren’t I cool? No an apple tree just sits there being cool making apples.

5. It is Squeezed

Now some of you are saying, well I’ve seen trees that looked like lemon trees but they were really oranges, or orange trees that looked like grapefruit. Do you know how you can tell? Squeeze it. That is number 5 on your outline under the facts of fruit. Fruit is squeezed.
You say what does that have to do with anything? Of course fruit is squeezed. Well life has a way of squeezing us to doesn’t it?

One way of telling what kind of fruit you posses is by seeing what comes out when life starts squeezing on you. Anyone can respond gentlely to a request or to a dilima when life is smooth sailing. It takes the spirit’s filling to help you to respond gentley when the storms of life crash against you.

Let take a look at some followers of Jesus as they are getting squeezed.
We will pick up the story in upper room. Jesus has just finished washing the disciples feet and the disciples are feeling pain.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Saw the movie Master & Commander last night. Great movie. If you like history - you'll like it. If you like sailing - you'll like it. If you like Russell Crowe - you'll like it. If you like action - you'll like it. But if you like leadership - you will love the movie. Crowe leads his ship with laser like focus and pure power. I loved it. Here are the traits of a great leader that I picked up in the movie. (it was the 10:45pm showing so I was bit tired - forgive me if I missed more - probably did)

1. Great Leaders believe in themselves.

2. Great Leaders inspire those around them.

3. Great Leaders mentor other younger leaders.

4. Great Leaders have compassion for people yet put the goals of the group first.

5. Great Leaders never give up.

6. Great Leaders rely on a mix of strategy and instinct.

7. Great leaders surround themselves with other competent leaders.

8. Great Leaders do what is needed (preach, assist in surgery, etc)

9. Great Leaders don't just wish, the work to make it happen.

10. Great Leaders don't take themselves too seriously.

Of course, there was a lot more than leadership lessons in the movie but I was most impressed with that one element.

Go see it, if you don't have a queasy stomach!

Here is part two from my Sermon called "The Root of the Fruit" about the fruit of the spirit. (See blog entry form Thurs, Dec 4th below)

2. It is Singular
No I’m not talking like the cell phone giant. I’m talking the opposite of plural. The fruit of the spirit is. Is not are. Now notice back up in verse 19. The acts of the sinful nature are. Those are plural.

I’ve heard people say botch it and call it the fruit fruits. I even heard someone the other day refer to this series as the fruits of the spirits. That was the first time I had ever heard of the Spirit being plural. It is important that we see the fruit as one thing. If we don’t then we think that we are spirit filled when we have only a part of the fruit. It is not a tree with multiple types of fruit or a bunch of grapes with 8 grapes. Think of the fruit of the spirit like an apple. The apple is made up of many parts but it is still just one apple. Without a stem an apple can’t be attached to the tree. Without skin the apple would rot faster. It has seeds and a core and vitamins and enzymes. You can’t say I have love, joy, peace (you just thought of a pizza didn’t you?), patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, but not gentleness or self-control right? Of course not. It is not like the spirit ran out of those. Sorry, fresh out of joy today – guess you’ll have to love others but be miserable while you’re doing it. No, make no mistake –the fruit is singular.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I ran across a sermon I preached about the fruit of the spirit (it is the fruit - singular - and not fruits - plural, by the way. . . )this past summer. I'll post a small part of it over the next few days. (or the next few weeks if my past posting is any indication)

The Facts of Fruit
1. It is Spiritual

This means you don’t have it. It does not come naturally. I wanted to clarify this because it is so foundational to the rest of our study in Galatians 5. When we talk about this fruit we must understand that it is something that must be developed. It does not flow naturally from us. It must be developed. You don’t have to teach a little kid to be inpatient do you. No parent ever sat down and said ok Billy now let’s lets see the foot tap, and how about the let the breath out. Ok good now repeat after me, “Are we there yet?” Good job, keep that up and you will be sitting in the car impatiently honking the horn like a caveman while your wife is trying to get three kids ready for church. No, this fruit must be developed. It is different from a spiritual gift too. A spiritual gift is given from God. Spiritual fruit is developed by God. And fruit is more important. Spiritual gifts is about talent. Spiritual fruit is about character. You might be able to sing like an angel but if your character is like that of a demon then your giftedness goes to waste.

For those of you who don't know who Mike Yaconelli was you can get a pretty good glimpse of the man just by taking a look at a sampling of his thoughts below:


I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability.
- Mike Yaconelli

If I were to die today, I would be nervous about what people would say at my funeral. I would be happy if they said things like "He was a nice guy" or "He was occasionally decent" or "Mike wasn't as bad as a lot of people." Unfortunately, eulogies are delivered by people who know the deceased. I know what the consensus would be. "Mike was a mess."
- Mike Yaconelli

Jump first. Fear later.
- Mike Yaconelli

It's not about perfection; it's about our intimacy with God, or our connection, our relationship with God. Once we get through that, once we realize that we can be imperfect, flawed, broken; those kinds of things are the ingredients of spirituality.
- Mike Yaconelli

We'd like to have it all neat and orderly. We want to be able to measure it and control it, but the reality is that Jesus is a mystery. The Christian faith is a mystery. The disciples spent their entire time following him going, "Uhh, what the heck are you doing? We don't understand what you're doing and we don't know why you're doing it." And when he would explain why he was doing it, they still didn't get it.
- Mike Yaconelli

The truly holy people I've met in my life are really interesting people. They're a mix of the most incredible godliness and at the same time, the most unbelievable earthiness. I know a woman who curses like a sailor, but she's the most holy woman I know. She is! I'm not kidding. We've created this image of what holiness looks like that's just nonsense. Good holy people probably drink too much some times, and have colorful language, and there's plenty of room in the Bible to see people like that. We have to see life for what it is, entirely more complicated then simple. Spirituality is not simple; it's complicated. It gets messy sometimes.
- Mike Yaconelli

There are a whole lot of people who are so freakin' busy—they've so cluttered up their lives—they're at their wits' end. And if they'd only just stop for a minute, they could hear the God of the universe whisper to them, "I love you."
- Mike Yaconelli

I'm in awe of youth workers, and I think Jesus is, too. I just wish the Church felt the same.
- Mike Yaconelli

Christ never promised that Christianity would be exciting, adventurous, or radical. He simply said it was the truth.
- Mike Yaconelli

I am beginning to understand that faith is not the way around pain, it is the way through pain. Faith doesn't get rid of the opposition, it invites it over for dinner. Faith doesn't give you the winning point at the last second, it ties the game and sends you into overtime. Faith doesn't give you the solution, it forces you to find it.
- Mike Yaconelli

The power of the Church is not a parade of flawless people, but of a flawless Christ who embraces our flaws. The Church is not made up of the whole people, rather of the broken people who find wholeness in a Christ who was broken for us.
- Mike Yaconelli

We have a room here full of rag-tag, foolish, unsophisticated, unfinished, work-in-progress, weak, disrespected, ragamuffins, who have been called to work with a group of rag-tag, foolish, unsophisticated, unfinished, work-in-progress, wondering young people. What an honor. What a calling.
- Mike Yaconelli

Youth group should be an adventure, a cauldron of fire and passion, an uncontainable terrifying presence of the Holy Spirit overflowing into the souls of students resulting in a volatile desire for Jesus regardless of the chaos caused by following Him!
- Mike Yaconelli

I'm beginning to believe that if those who are called into youth ministry follow the lead of the One who called them, getting fired is inevitable. Why? Because, in general, the institutional church doesn't get it. The institutional church has become hopelessly corporate, hopelessly tangled in a web of secularism. Instead of the church being the Church, it has opted instead to be a corporation.
- Mike Yaconelli

"Real Christians do not condone unbiblical living!!!" And they would be correct. Christians do not condone unbiblical living, we redeem it. Youth ministry, also, is about redeeming more than it is condemning.
- Mike Yaconelli

A youth worker in our town was recently fired because he was reaching the "wrong kind of kid." I thought the wrong kind of kid was the right kind of kid. The elders insisted that youth ministry was not about bringing in the "riff raff" off the streets but working with the kids that were already Christians. I thought we were all riff raff.
- Mike Yaconelli

If I were to have a heart attack right at this moment, I hope I would have just enough air in my lungs and just enough strength in me to utter one last sentence as I fell to the floor: "What a ride!" My life has been up and down, careening left then right, full of mistakes and bad decisions, and if I died right now, even though I would love to live longer, I could say from the depths of my soul, "What a ride!"
- Mike Yaconelli

I want a lifetime of holy moments. Every day I want to be in dangerous proximity to Jesus. I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger. I long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. I want to be with Jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh.
- Mike Yaconelli

I want to be "dangerous" to a dull and boring religion. I want a faith that is considered "dangerous" by our predictable and monotonous culture.
- Mike Yaconelli

The grace of God is dangerous. It's lavish, excessive, outrageous, and scandalous. God's grace is ridiculously inclusive. Apparently God doesn't care who He loves. He is not very careful about the people He calls His friends or the people He calls His church.
- Mike Yaconelli

Christians believe in life. We seek it, long for it, and weep when life is snuffed out. Our belief in life after death doesn't cancel our love of life before death. Death is never better than life. That's why Jesus wept at Lazarus' tomb and defied death by bringing Lazarus back to life again. Although the Christian recognizes that death is not the end, that by no means justifies the belief that life doesn't matter.
- Mike Yaconelli

For the Christian, there is no distinction between the sacred and secular. Everything a Christian does is an expression of his faith. He does not make choices based on the religious significance of the alternative. As a Christian he makes the choice that is a logical extension of the values he has derived from his faith…
- Mike Yaconelli

Peace describes a condition rather than a demeanor. Peace is the result of salvation, which means that man and God are no longer at war. Peace describes the state of man after conversion. He is at peace with God.
- Mike Yaconelli

We're attempting to convince the world how good Jesus is by how great we are. This is precisely how Madison Avenue sells toothpaste, automobiles, and underwear. People don't need any more images of success, wealth, and power; they're surrounded already. What they need are their sins forgiven. What they need is healing. What they need is love.
- Mike Yaconelli

It is time for us to reclaim the glory of the common, the power of the plain, the authority of the unpretentious. It is time for us to reclaim the radical consequence of the Gospel—which is that the weak, the broken, the fragmented, the suffering, and the non-experts are the authorities of the Church.
- Mike Yaconelli

Conversion does not get rid of the secret self; instead, Jesus becomes a friend to it. We can live fully and honestly in the presence of the real tension between both selves.
- Mike Yaconelli

The tragedy of modern faith is that we no longer are capable of being terrified. We aren't afraid of God, we aren't afraid of Jesus, we aren't afraid of the Holy Spirit. As a result, we have ended up with a need-centered gospel that attracts thousands...but transforms no one.
-Mike Yaconelli

We are afraid of unemployment, we are afraid of our cities, we are afraid of the collapse of our government, we are afraid of not being fulfilled, we are afraid of AIDS, but we are not afraid of God.
- Mike Yaconelli

When people look at the Church and see only impostors, they conclude that Jesus is an impostor. But when they see followers of Jesus who are real, they see a Jesus who is real.
- Mike Yaconelli

If you want to know more about Mike check this link out.


Sunday, November 16, 2003

I'm up praying for U-turn and wondering how the candlelight devo went (the entire retreat for that matter) and find myself in "other's shoes" again. Let me explain.

U-turn is the name of the student ministry at Redwood Church. Kim and I served as youth ministers from June 95 until Aug 03. Every fall we would take the students on a retreat. From the time we arrived in RWC (Redwood City) we put a high value on prayer. Several weeks prior to the retreat we would pass out a prayer cover sign-up sheet and give people an opportunity to pray for the students and staff. Every hour would get covered in prayer. Sometimes (as you can imagine) the wee hours of the night and morning (2am - 5am) would be difficult to cover. I remember calling friends in Texas to pray for the slots that were hardest to fill and they could do it because of the time change without as much sacrifice.

For eight years I was on the receiving end of those prayers. This weekend I switched sides.

I always prayed while leading those retreats (I'm sure Kim prayed more) but my mind was also so full with the details, drama, and divine activity that each retreat brought. Unless a problem arose I was usually in bed by 2am on Friday and Saturday night. But someone was praying for us as I was sleeping. Kinda like the "night watch" system of fire prevention in London many years ago. Someone stayed up and provided protection.

I always appreciated it but this weekend I just see the role of the "prayer warrior" from a different angle.

The work of prayer is not tough stuff in theory but it is brutal in practice because the enemy is so opposed to it.

I am reminded of Jesus asking his disciples to "watch and pray" and remembering even they fell asleep and let their flesh rule.

I am also more grateful than ever for the "warriors" who covered our retreats in prayer the past eight years (nine counting this one) especially the ones who prayed in the "wee hours"

God I ask that you take every spiritual, right, and memorable experience these students had "up on the mountain" and you use it as fuel for their days "down in the valley" I ask you to help them to release they don't have to wait for another retreat to have such an experience either. I pray that they could see that if they would just get away from the noise and make time for you to work they would feel you move in ways big and in ways small.

Christ fan into flame their faith and may they come ignite a generation of lost in their schools and in their homes.

I pray that the retreat was a time where students headed in the wrong way (away from you) could make a U-turn into your loving, forgiving, and life changing arms.

I don't know all the details of how the retreat has gone. I do know this. God is faithful and I am confident that he moved in a powerful way in the hearts of many up there in those Redwood trees.

Friday, November 14, 2003

You ever have one of "those days?" No, I'm not talking about one of "those" days, I'm talking about one of the kind of days where the "noise" was nonexistent and "God" was loud and clear." Today was that day.

From 5:00am to 10:00pm God just kept "rattling my cage" and I loved it.

This weekend, U-turn, the student ministry that Kim and I gave so much love to and in return received so much love, is having their annual fall retreat. It is the first fall retreat that we have not been at and it is hard to get used to it. But God is faithful. Below is a letter that we sent to my best friend Mitch to read to the entire group on Saturday night at the candlelight devo.


There is a passage in Acts 17:22-28 that says:

So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: 'To an unknown god.' Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone. From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.

God knew that we would have to move. We didn't. You didn't. But God did. This has been both excruciating and exciting. Full of pleasure and full of pain. We want you to know that we miss you more than we could put into words (If we were there I'd give it a shot but I don't want Mitch to have to talk for 50 minutes!) We hear great things about U-turn and sometimes things that make us sad. We have heard that some of you are very sad that we are not there. The truth is that tonight is the first candlelight devo in the history of U-turn that is Quile less and yet we want to remind you of another truth. God is there with you. Listen to the words of Luke in Acts 17:27 again ` Did you catch that. "so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far away from each one of us."

U-turn, tonight you have the holy chance to reach out to a holy Jesus by expressing holy love to one another and making holy commitments to a holy God.

Who are you? You are U-turn.

U-turn. Who are you turning too? God.

Right now is not about turning to Kim, or Joel or anyone but Jesus. It never has been and we pray it never will be.

Could it be that God moved us so that you, u-turn, would seek him and reach out to him like never before?

We don't know. But we do know this. While we are not there with you, God most definitely is.

Make this moment about Him. Seek him u-turn. Reach out to him u-turn.

That was all we ever wanted while we were with you. That is still our prayer tonight.

Right now, over 1600 miles away, we are on our knees praying for you this very moment.

God is not far away at all. He is right there with you. Seek him. Reach out for him. Never stop. You will find him.

And only in him do we truly find life.

Our eternal love,

Joel and Kim


This was a great day indeed. Up at 5:00, time with God, journaling up a storm, worked out with Mark, saw Luke, good time in W.E. Class, Wimon went to bat for me, made an "A" on CJ test, had an exciting lunch with Kent, video editing, bake sale help, snuggled with sick Emily (102.1 degree fever), got a hair cut, took Laura to a B-day party, excellent dinner, talked with Todd F, David B, Mitch W, David N, and many more. Prayers with family, relax by the fire, and here I am blogging away!

God is good. Things went really well today. They might not tomorrow. Guess what. . . ?

God will still be good.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Okay, so I'm not the poster-child for consistency. I will improve as I have no choice. In the words of Barry Bonds (you either love him or hate him) "the game has disciplined me" and life does have a way of causing us to keep up or get trampled.

Kim got a job today so it is official, "I'm a free-loader!" God is so good which is easy to say because he just answered my prayer according to my will. The catch is ascribing goodness to God when he answers your prayer requests the way we parents respond to our kids when they ask to eat a candy bar before bed and after they have brushed their teeth - "NO!"

I have had a, shall we say, "heightened awareness" of God's involvement in my life these past few weeks and I know that God is going to take care of us. The stupid in me forgets that God has always taken care of His children. From Adam to Abraham, from Moses to Matthew, and from my first days until today God has proven time and time again his faithfulness. The fact that I realize this today won't stop the enemy from furiously fighting for me to forget in the future.

Abilene has always been a "desert" time for me and this go around is no different. God is using these shapeless days to shape me. For what? That is around the corner I'm sure. I've got my eyes on the lookout for any "burning bushes" and the thought that keeps me sacred scared is the possibility that I could walk right by it. Sometimes, I am ashamed to admit that my antenna for God is so low that if he were calling to me in a burning forest I just might miss it for the fact that my eyes are so tightly fixed on myself.

I had lunch with my best friend (I'm kinda like a junior high girl in that I really have about three best friends . . . No way I just referred to myself as a junior high girl) Grant Boone today and he shared with me that he has kept a journal every day this year. Praise God. I would love to have that kind of discipline and commitment to the important instead of giving into the urgent. That is the kind of discipline for which I have a holy hunger.

Kim and I got a phone call from the school this morning. Emily was in the office with a temperature. She is sick. So here is what we did. We went and picked her up. We brought her home. We wrapped her up in blankets. We set her up with a movie and some hot chocolate and took turns snuggling with her. We tried our best at helping her to get well.

So what?

When we are sick, even, no especially when we are spiritually sick, we should call out to our Father in heaven and ask him to pick us up. He will if we call and he will restore us to health. He will not have to take turns holding us as He has endless time for each one of us. And (you're way ahead of me here) he will heal us.

Just thought I'd share that with you.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Find me a guy who doesn't like Saturdays in the fall and I show you a "battle-droid." I'm serious. Sleeping in later than usual. Pancakes. Messing around in the yard. College football. Taking a walk with your family. Saturdays are so cool.

Sometimes I wonder if I Sunday's are as special to me as Saturdays. I'd like to hope that they are but I don't know that for sure. I look forward to Sundays but it is a different awaiting. I think the bottom line is that I feel like Saturdays are mine. I feel like I have to share Sundays. I might be the only one who feels that but I feel it nonetheless.

In my "God time" this morning I admitted to him that I know that life is not about me but rather about Him but I forget that often. Isn't it funny how I think of Sundays as when I have to share with others when in reality God shares everyday with me? Well actually it is not funny at all. Kinda sad.

I'm going to enjoy my walk this morning (we're about to leave), but I'm also going to ask God to help me to enjoy Sunday's more.

This is the Day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

There's something about living with three girls (that sounds bad) (I'm talking about my wife, and two daughters) that makes a man better. This morning my wife woke me up (of course she'd been up by 5:00 and cleaned the entire house) and asked me watch Emily while she takes a bath. The first thing I saw was Emily's face dawning a "bubble beard". I wanted to go watch Sports Center but keeping a watchful eye on my bubble baby was the "better" thing to do. I started to ask Kim to do it so I could watch Sports Center but she was busy working (milking the cows, changing my oil, etc) I finally pried Emily from the tub and was just about to make my way to couch when I noticed the garbage in need of some attention. Choice: Watch Sports Center (I had to see the dejection on the Cubs - Love it!) or dump the garbage? Hmmmm. Kim had done 53 loads of wash and was organizing Emily's room, Laura was standing in a towel watching her clothes dry, and Emily had now moved to the safety of the shower to "de-bubble" so if the garbage was to be dumped it was me or Jesus. I figured the Lord had enough to do so needless to say, Sports Center had to wait. As I finished up the "Herculian" task and made my way to the couch I was intercepted by Laura in desperate need of a ride to school. I started to tell her that I was out of the question as I had a "prior engagement" but I figured "hey, if she doesn't go to school, she'll flunk. If she flunks, she might drop out. If she drops out - no guys going to marry a drop out-flunkie and she'll be living at home until she is 36 (sorry to all the 36 year olds I just offended) so I put Sports Center on hold until my chuaffering duties were completed.

I returned home anxiously awaiting the soothing sound of "da na naunt, da na naunt" (is that the correct spelling of the sound that is Sports Center?) but instead was instructed by wife that I would relieve her of listening to Emily read her book while she finished doing the dishes (some women just can't multi-task) I wanted to listen to Stuart Scott go "Boo-ya" but I didn't. We prayed for Emily's breakfast (Kim's prompting - I hate when she is so "spiritual" - actually I love it) So I listened to Emily read. As she struggled with worlds like everything and beautiful my mind faded away from Sports Center. I realized the blessing that I was living and the insainity of wanting to "waste" my precious time watching over paid people whom I don't know and who do not love me in the least.

I was interupted in deep thought of how these girls bless my life in so many ways every single day with two kisses from Kim and Emily and in a flash the house was still. I was by myself at the kitchen table. I could finally get up and go watch Sports Center. I didn't. I could've - but didn't. I am not the best guy in the world, but because of my three girls (and my son, John, who doesn't live at home. "I love you John") I am getting better.

My your day be filled with the "better" of life.


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Okay, how hard can this be? I just type whatever is on my heart or in my head and then billions of people on the planet can all come read my thoughts and the world will be getting smaller like one tiny happy village and then . . .

Okay, so it might take some time to get it down.

Hey Cubs fan: keep your head up. "Wait until next year."

God is good. His love endures forever.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

joel quile