Friday, July 29, 2005

Big G. A Little Odd.

They say we use about 10% of our brain. A few thoughts come to mine: (get it? mine? my brain? okay...)

*Who is "they" anyway?

*10% is biblical - isn't it? Kinda like "brain tithing" or something...

*I hit for an average of .327 in baseball and thought that was decent. I don't know what to think about hitting .100 in brain-usage.

*I'm really hoping that I'm a double digit guy in the big picture. I've been to Walmart past 11:00pm and seen the guy wearing the overalls and no shirt. That can skew an average quick.

and finally...

*What if we did use the other 90%? What would that be like?

All this brain-percentage-talk caused me to consider the following question:

How much of God do I use? Maybe another way to ask that is how much do I believe God? Or better still - how big is my God? Do I believe in a 100% God or a 10% God?

I know...tough question. The answer is equally as brutal.

I think my God is too small. I know I don't live for gods. You know, like "little g" gods...

I believe that my life has been surrendered to the one and true God. You know, like "Big G" God...

But just how much of that "Big G" God do I believe? How big is my "Big G" God really?

I find it odd when my God is anything but Big. I'm going to pray that my God is really big in my life today!

It is bad enough to only use 10% of your brain. Believing, loving, and following anything less than 100% of God is more than a little odd. It is completely sad!

I leave you with the words from a contemporary psalmist from Waco, David Crowder:

I'm so bored of little gods
While standing on the edge of
something large
While standing here, so close to You
We could be consumed
What a glorious day
I give up, I lay down
Rest my face upon this ground
Lift my eyes to Your sky
Rid my heart of all I hide
So sweet this surrender

How great Your love for us
How great our love for You
That grace could cover us
How great Your love

How marvelous, how brilliantly
Luminous, You shine on me
And who can fail to give You awe
To fear You, God, so sovereign and strong

What a glorious day
What a wonderful day, today
What a glorious day
What a wonderful day, today
Glorious day

-the song is "How Great" and is by David Crowder

What about you? Are you bored of little gods?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Take a Peak

Greetings from Quaker Ridge Camp just outside of Woodland Park, Colorado (1/2 west of Colorado Springs)! How amazing! I don't have time to write much. We've made a quick trip into town to Starbucks (praise God for T-Mobile!) and I wanted to share a couple of pics that I snapped during my quiet time this morning. I confess I struggle with a consistent time with God but oddly enough, it has not been real hard this week. I look forward and see Pike's Peak, behind me a calm little pond, and no more than four feet from my feet is a little rabbit eating breakfast.

The week is going great. Jeff and the band are so incredible to serve with and I praise God for their hearts. I hope to post some pics and thoughts later. This church (First Baptist Boerne - Boerne, TX) is absolutely beautiful. The youth pastors, Jason and Angie Brown and Danny Phillips are the real deal and love teens out of an overflow of a love for Jesus. I am so blessed. Spoiled blessed! I miss my bride and my kids so much and wish that they were here with me. God is so faithful and his love endures forever. My heart has found "home" in Him.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Longing For a Homeland

I don't travel much. Much, I must admit is a very relative term but suffice it to say that I'm no Jeff Berry or even Mike Cope. By that I mean that I don't travel near as much as they do. And besides, I can't sing like a witch (plus I don't shave my legs and arms!) nor can I preach my pants off (plus I don't speak Spanish) so anyway....

But I was in Houston last Friday through late (as in 2:00am on Monday morning late!) Sunday night. I was in Nashville on Wednesday and spent all of Thursday trying to get to California. I made to California Thursday night and left Sunday night after seeing good friends, performing a wedding, and preaching on Sunday. I arrived in Dallas at 1:00am on Monday morning to the most amazing sight for sore and tired eyes, my beautiful bride Kim. I drove us home to Abilene and fell asleep shortly after 4:00 am. Yesterday was a blur and today has been spent trying to prepare for this next week. I'll be leaving Abilene tomorrow morning for Colorado Springs from Wednesday through the following Monday. I will spend Monday in the Metroplex and then come back to Abilene on Tuesday. The next weekend (30th-31st) I'm preaching back in the Metroplex at Lake Cities Church of Christ and then the weekend after that I'm back preaching in California. Bottom-line is that I've become a mini "Road Warrior" this summer and I'm not entirely sure of what to make of it.

A few miscellaneous ramblings, travel stories and hopefully some encouragement for your journey:

This past weekend with the Cinco Ranch Church of Christ was incredible. I know I'm guilty of calling a hot dog at a ball game incredible but I mean it when I say that it went way beyond my expectations. This church is one of the most missionly minded faith communities I've crossed paths with to date. They have a vision for the future which flows from their heart for the lost. They treated me like royalty and our entire family loved everything about the church. Brandon gave my name to them and a true gentleman named David was my contact. This guy was the real deal. Just as nice as the day is long. I felt like I was being loved by God in his company. The elders are amazing and have evangelism in their DNA. One of the hightlights of the weekend was meeting Raymond and Luree Key. So godly and so good. They gave Emily butterflies (see Kim's blog) and have been married almost 60 years. Incredible folks. It will be exciting to see where we end up at the end of the road of change.

Our house went on the market last Wednesday morning and while we don't know where God is going to lead us next we know that we want a bigger house but not necessarily a newer house or nicer house. One of the proverbial fleeces that we have thrown out is that Kim won't have to work and that we could have a house big enough for our kids to have a room and be able to have guests often. Kim has the spiritual gift of hospitality and yet I don't have a strong gift of financial earning. We both have trust that wherever God leads us He will provide the house that we need.

Nashville was incredible! I had never been there before and totally loved it. Of course I'd love being in Nowhere Nebraska (probably a real city...) with Brandon and his beautiful family. Hanging out with Brandon was a blessing and while there I got to watch a film called Most. Our friend Matt Duncan is doing some amazing things to bless the conversation between the church and the art community at large and this movie was a great step. Hopefully, I will be writing more about that film. Brandon and I bawled like babies for most of the movie. I'm talking audible crying! It was sad enough and then when Sheryl brought baby Sam to Brandon it made it all the more pathetic. It was terrible and beautiful, horrible and holy at the same time.

I don't have time now to write in detail about Redwood City but the wedding was great and Rachel and Freddie were totally awesome. Preaching was a blessing and I spoke on the Sabbath. Of course I always speak on the Sabbath! (bad joke). I love the Redwood Church and as much as I hate to admit it, this was a sad trip of sorts. I can't (or shouldn't) explain it on this blog, but I felt really sad for the church. I did get to spend time with Seth and David and the Stevens' and that is always a blessing!

Travel is cool for about a day. And while I'm so pumped about going to camp tomorrow and the other opportunities that await, I am looking forward to settling down, getting a new home and spending time with my family.

I am reminded of some powerful words from Lynn Anderson in his great book, Longing for a Homeland:

"Moses, did you once feel that Egypt was really your home? What's that? Never completely so? Deep down inside, Moses, under all the regal trappings, did your child-heart sense that you didn't really belong to that place? Somehow you knew that you were not a true son of Egyptian soil. Did that slumbering awareness burst wide-awake that day you fled as a fugitive from your forty-year childhood homeplace? That first night beside the desert refugee trail when you pillowed your head on the sand - what dark, sad, homeless soliloquy flooded your mind?"

When we all get to heaven...

I'm reminded that the majority of my travels are for the purpose of increasing the number of the "all" above.

And that makes it better.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Good Night Church

I had a headache yesterday. In fact I had a backache too. I was tired. At times during the day, I was short with people, especially my family. I was more reactionary and unintentional in my moment to moment interactions with others than I care to be. I didn't experience much abundance. I was alive and yet there was a "deadness" that encircled me like a bunch of vulchers.

Then I went to sleep.

I rested.

I gave up control.

The next 7 hours were filled with dreams.

I woke up this morning and I feel great!

What if "the church" got some sleep? What if we traded activity for abiding? Swapped the rat race for some rest? What would we look like if we spent a little less time doing and a little more time dreaming?

Good night church.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What If?

What if a group of people taught one another how to be serious disciples (apprentices) of Jesus, as they represented Him to those around us (2 Corinthians 5:20).

What if making "disciples" (as Jesus called it in Matthew 28:19) was the primary ultimate goal of this group of people in all they did?

What if a group of people taught one another how to be serious students of the Scriptures, not content knowing the Bible only at a surface or shallow level, but to desire a deep understanding of the entire Bible?

What if a group of people had a leadership that was committed to seeing that Scripture is taught deeply and a goal of seeing the group of people were becoming "self-feeders" of the Scriptures (Hebrews 5:11-14)?

What if those who are part of this group of people committed to serve each other so that they experienced true community (Acts 2:42-47; John 13:34-35)?

What if this group of people was passionate about helping other people discover how God desires each to have a very valuable part of being in the "body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27)?

What if this group of people truly believed that the "family" should be highly valued, taught about and supported with the various ministries developed (marriage, family, children etc.), as the family is critical in the shaping of our society and culture (Matthew 19:4-6, Deuteronomy 6:4-9)?

What if those in this group of people learned to have their hearts break for those who have not yet experienced the love and grace of God and joy of knowing and following Jesus (2 Peter 3:9)?

What if this group of people attempted to learn to see people and love people as Jesus did (Matthew 9:35-38)?

What if those in the group had a heart for being involved in their local city or town and in activities that express the love of God outside of the group's own internal activities and events. What if this group truly believed that they must be a local community-a very focused and involved group that engaged their neighbors?

What if this group decided that they will not measure success by group attendance, their degree of professionalism or production related factors, but instead will measure what they do by how they constantly seek to increase the degree of our love for God and for people (Matthew 22:37-39)?

That group would be the church.

Not the "church" as in something you go to, but something you are.

And I would want to be a part.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Dead Meat: Second Chances, Third Stories & the Gospel According to Harold

I am preaching tomorrow night at Highland and coming out of a text that I have never preached and never heard a sermon on in my life. That is often a bit risky and yet always rewarding. The story I am leading us through is found in Acts 20:7-12 and is the account of young Eutychus falling asleep during Paul's message.

I am planning on using the following illustration in order to communicate that Paul knew the secret that we must never forget: We must love others so much that we don't just share with them the gospel but our lives as well. His lesson was important but his love was life changing. The church in Troas had just seen a miracle. They had just witnessed a physical transformation as young Eutychus had been loved back to life. That was enough to rejuvenate them for the rest of the night.

A lot of us in Abilene have been to Harold's right? A business contradiction of sorts: Bad location. Crowded. Long lines. And his BBQ sauce isn't the only thing in that restaurant that is hot! I'm serious. I can sweat off more calories than I can take in at that place. It's like a big BBQ sauna. But yet Harold's is always packed. Why? The food. The product. The meat! Not the fancy building - the meat. Not the convenient location or speedy service it's the meat! The prices are not the draw - the product is. Advertisement is non existant. But the word of mouth - can't stop it!

The church would do well to learn a lesson from Harold. Our focus cannot be on our buildings, budgets, and bureaucracies. Our product is Jesus. His redemptive love must always be our missional meat. Jesus came down and loved us on Calvary. He knew we were sick and so he threw his arms around us and healed us. He knew we were lost and so he ran from Heaven to the hill of Golgotha to find us. Paul left a house, stopped a sermon and descended three flights of steps to awaken the dead. Jesus left heaven, stepped into the constraints of time and descended into hell for three days to awaken the dead.

God is calling us to do the same. For the church to be a community where people will do whatever it takes to save some. He is calling us "Christians" to "wake up" and rise up and descend into greatness and engage and embrace those in our world who lay broken and left for dead. He is calling us to go to them and to love them back to life and share with them not only the gospel but our lives as well. Only then will we earn the right to break bread with them and live with them in community. And only the revolution of changed lives will cause the church to greatly rejoice.

Our "meat" must be our willingness to "meet" others where they are at and love them back to where they belong - with God.

Monday, July 04, 2005

4th and 249 from the 2005

Happy Fourth of July!

A few thoughts on America's 249th Birthday...

I agree with Brandon's post from Saturday -- you don't have to hate other countries to love America. In fact, you don't have to think that God loves America more than everyone else to love America. I would go so far to state that I can love America less than I love God, my wife and kids, and anything else I want.

I find it odd though that we (read: "conservative Christians" -- broad stereotype...) look down our noses at those who have a problem with our government (read: Bush) and its policies (read: Iraq) and do something about it such as protest or just plain voice their concern and yet, today, we are celebrating a legal holiday commemorating the REVOLUTION that resulted in independence from a government that good people FOUGHT against because it found it oppressive and ungodly. Am I the only one that sees the irony in that deal? I doubt it.

I ran across two other good posts this morning (different perspectives but good nonetheless) that I would recommend that you check out. Bart's blog and Larry's blog both offer thought provoking material to consider on this day.

And finally, when the greatest risk I will face today is accidentally blowing off my own hand due to the deadly combination of too little common sense and too many fireworks, I came across some of the realities and risks that our forefathers faced by signing the Declaration of Independence. You might want to check it out.

Regardless of your level of patriotism, I would urge you to remember that while we eat hamburgers, corn on the cob and homemade ice cream, while we enjoy sleeping in and a day off of work, while we watch parades, play with sparklers and oooohhhh and aahhhh over tonight's fireworks that much blood was given over the past 249 years to protect our freedom. Our freedom as citizens of American was bought with many lives. Yes our ultimate freedom comes from Christ's sacrifice. No disputing that fantastic fact. But living in America is also a great gift. I don't think it is a sin to be thankful for this truth.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Piece on P.E.A.C.E.

Get ready.

Don't say I didn't tell you.

It's coming.

P.E.A.C.E. -- Saddleback's next big thing.

In an era when there are a few churches that truly threaten the gates of hell, Saddleback has declared war by accomplishing P.E.A.C.E.

Check it out:

And to think that there is a church somewhere arguing about a guitar, grape juice, and guest parking...

Pretty sure hell isn't shaking over those issues.

But planting churches, equipping leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick and educating the next generation?

The gates don't stand a chance!