Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

We want to wish all of you a merry and meaningful Christmas. I pray that the Savior would be singular in your affections this holy day. May He outshine the gifts and time with family. May he not be a trite reference.

Celebrate the King with me! See him as Matthew, as the King of kings...whom Magi (intellectuals) seek and bow down to. He's the prophesied one; the hope of the nations. He's the Jewish Messiah, desending from Abraham, fulfilling the covenants. He's worshipped by men from the East, representing the nations who will bow at His feet. A jealous king slaughtered children as Jesus' family escaped to Egypt, echoing back to the Exodus, when a crazed Pharoah heard the cries of mourning families as the Israelites escaped from Egypt. He is Immanuel, "God with us."


See him as Luke, as the Good Shepherd...whom shepherds praised and heralded in the streets. He's the champion of the lowly...from an unsuspecting teenage girl to those lowly shepherds. When you hear that He was wrapped in cloths in the manger, think forward to Him being wrapped in cloths after His crucifixion...and remember that those grave cloths were cast aside as He rose in triumphant victory over death! Hear the angelic proclamation, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news (gospel) of great joy which will be for all people." Jews and Gentiles alike are included (Luke 2:32).



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Done with school...sort of

The fall semester ended today, and I feel like a free man. I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks without tests and papers. In fact, I'm really anxious about wasting this time.

I'll still be working, which will require a lot of focus and energy over the next two months. We're working on the upcoming seminary magazine, and it's a doozy. It will be our Centennial edition since the school celebrates 100 years in 2008, so it is a REALLY big deal. It's cool to read biographies about some of the presidents, but the whole project is a daunting task. It should have been started months ago, but I've come to grips with the fact that I cannot change that. Please pray for me and our team as we try to tell the legacy of an institution who challenges and trains men and women to bring the radically transforming person of Jesus Christ to a blind and hurting world. Pray for clarity, efficiency, joy, and sanity. Pray that we will be Christlike in the crunch-time and give grace to one another as anxiety rears its head. Pray that Christ will be exalted above the institution. Thanks for praying (even if, like I sometimes do, you prayed this prayer just now because you're afraid you'll forget to later).

I'm hoping to use the break to catch up on a lot of reading for my church planting internship, pray a lot about our future in church planting, spend time w/ the fam, and tell people about Jesus. Please pray for boldness and obedience in sharing Christ with strangers and/or family. I hope to blog a little more also...so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Long Time, No Speak

As you can imagine, the busyness of the semester has stifled my blogging, but I'm trying to get back in the saddle. I'll be working on a paper this week, and that should be the last major assignment before finals begin on Dec. 7. I've meant to post several times but just never seemed to get around to it. Here's a month's worth of things I've been thinking about:

- A new resolution (and it's not even New Year's yet): In church today, I was convicted that passion for God and effectively reaching people with the Gospel will not just magically appear in my life; I must be intentionally committed to spiritual disciplines. My spiritual disciplines have been lacking, and it's no wonder I often feel disconnected from the presence and power of God. I'm surrounded by religiosity at work, school, and church, but it's easy to neglect moments with the Savior here and there in this type of environment.

- Deconstructing Churchianity: There's a gazillion books out there telling people how to do church better. Is it a new model or just resurrecting an ancient one? Should it be a come-and-see church or a go-and-tell church? Have we put so much emphasis on the church that we've reduced it to a building or an organization?

The church is the body of Christ...the people of God. When we focus on the life of the disciple, church takes on a whole new look. I heard recently that in America, we have more mega-churches (congregations of 2,000+) than ever before, but we have fewer people going to church. When we replace Christian maturity with church models, we get faulty people running faulty organizations. Just think, the corporate model of church that we saw in the last decade (pastors functioning as CEO's) has dealt us the same fate as many large corporations: leaders who scandalously fall from grace. This happens when they focus on running the organization instead of personally growing as a disciple. You can see why I'm making the above resolution.

It would be easy to blame it on the fallen leaders, but a less publicized epidemic is with those in the pew (or stadium seating, if you're in a mega-church). My brother told me that a lady at his work actually said this about a co-worker who claims to be a Christian: "She says she is a Christian, but if that's what being a Christian looks like, I don't want any part of it." I'm growing convinced that discipleship generally happens better through a mentor-style relationship than a lecture-style.

- Reaching Generations and the Nations: I think this might be the slogan of our church in the future. Psalm 145 says that one generation will declare the glory of the Lord to another generation. I don't want to be a segregated church, ethnically or chronologically. Paul's charge in Titus 2 captures this perfectly. How do we accomplish a mult-generational, multi-national church? We must make disciples in our "Jerusalem, Samaria, and the utter-most parts of the world."
- Challenges from my dad and others: My mom and dad have been in town a couple of times recently. I love my dad's heart and perspective on ministry. He's old-school in many ways, but that's not always a bad thing. He's not easily caught up in current trends and is a shining example of someone passionate to see those outside the family of God becoming part of our family. He always knows the right questions to ask me that make me think more about future ministry. Thanks, dad!

- Christmas vs. Consumermas: I'm working on an article for our student paper on fighting the gospel of consumerism that's preached during the holidays. There's a humorous take on this in limited-release movie that will soon be out called "What Would Jesus Buy?" It's not a Christian movie, but it's made by the same guy who did "Super-size Me" and is a documentary on how Americans treat Christmas. I'm trying to figure out how to raise my kids to see that Christmas is more than a gift-giving holiday and even more than a holiday for family time. These are good things, and we'll engage in both, but I want my kids, and myself, to recognize the celebration of Emmanuel, God with us, as the central theme of the holiday. Amy and I are trying to find ways that the gifts given to our children and the time spent as a family point to this reality.

- Pictures to share: Working in the communications office at school has its perks, including being able to get a good deal on a photo-shoot with a talented photographer. Kathleen Murray, a photographer in our office, spent some time with our family on the seminary campus and got a lot of great photos. Here's some of the best ones:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Write Stuff


As you well know, I'm a writer at the seminary. People often ask me about the job, so I thought I'd give you some insight. Most of the time I think the title sounds more glamorous than the job really is. People hear "writer" and they get the idea that I'm some novelist who pumps out brilliant text. In reality, I mostly pump out news releases, write articles for the student newsletters and magazines, and write "copy" for advertisements/marketing material. Even though I'm not writing something with Fabio on the cover, I enjoy it.

At any rate, the job is going very well. I work with some incredibly talented people (makes me feel kinda out of place at times). They're also a lot of fun to work with, which makes the stressful moments a little more manageable. Some things are more interesting to write than others, but that's to be expected. One of my most exciting articles to write was about a Navy chaplain and the 9 salvations his ship saw while on a 7 1/2 month tour in Iraq. (see article and companion video to the article at http://www.swbts.edu/email/20071005.html)

The job feels like a good fit. They keep giving me writing assignments, so that must be a good sign. :) You can always check out what I write if you'd like. Our newest edition of the seminary magazine just came out (my first magazine), and you can read it online at http://www.swbts.edu/swnews/. You can also read news releases at http://www.swbts.edu/pressreleases/releases.cfm.

Continue to pray for us. Working, schooling, internship, etc. eats up a lot of time and energy. I struggle with not having the time I want with Amy and the kids and time to reflect and process what I'm learning. At the same time, I don't want to be in school for 5 years, so I must press on. Pray that I will be efficient with my time and keep my priorities where they should be.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Planting Pontifications and more

As I'm in the mode of church planting these days, things run through my mind off and on. I want to share some of my thoughts lately...really more for myself so I can look back on this in the future to see what God was doing in me...but maybe also for someone else out there. Pardon these ramblings:

God continues to strengthen in Amy and I a desire to return to NW Denver. Every time we hear anything about Denver or Colorado, we grin from ear to ear. For example, how about those Colorado Rockies?? (the baseball team, not the landscape, although they are quite nice as well)

I'm getting seminary credit for the internship I'm doing through our church. As part of the credit, I also have to have a support group of peers who I talk about ministry with. So, I invited a couple of my close friends and their families over for dinner last night. They asked us some really good questions about church planting, such as "How do you plant a church?" We shared our experiences and what we would keep or do differently if we had a chance to do it all over again. It was a really refreshing time because I tend to make greater strides and keener insights when I dialogue about things out loud with people. It's like things that have been sporadically bouncing around in my brain begin to link together in words and sentences, and they suddenly make more sense. I'm looking forward to future meetings like these.

I've been struck lately with a deep concern about the current trend towards church planting. Please don't misunderstand me, I will be the first to say that church planting is one of the most effective forms of evangelism we have today and it's one of the most needed things. I am 100% for church planting. My concern lies in the underlying trendiness associated with church planting (which I'll now start referring to as CP to prevent carpal tunnel). CP is the really cool thing to do now. It's being pushed in most evangelical denominations and for good reasons. There are a lot of young men and women who are jumping into CP with a desire for the glory of God but no foundation. They think (like I did at one time) that it's better to jump right into ministry and not waste time with training and/or seminary.

The danger in this is that many people, enamored by the opportunity to start something exciting in a new place and thinking they won't have to deal with people set in their ways at an existing church, press on towards CP without being called by God to do it. In effect, God may want them to revitalize an existing church, and yet they forsake that calling because it seems uninspiring or boring. I reject the notion that some CP "experts" have that says that we should just let dying churches die b/c it's easier to plant a new one in their place. God, forgive us if we ignore the work You've begun when You want to do more.

So, back to my concern...I'm afraid that scores of people will chase the trendy ministry of CP without counting the cost and in the long run end up costing the Church a double-whammy: abandoning existing churches and burning out and never doing ministry again. CP is extremely hard work, but it is also some of the most joyous work when it's what God has called you to do. This is why I have waffled so much with whether God is calling me to do it. I don't want to do it b/c it's trendy or adventurous. If I do that, you can buy my plane ticket back home for 2-3 years from now when I fizzle from trying to do something in my own power.

We need church planters! We need teams of individuals to lay it on the line and engage communities with no visible church presence for the sake of the Gospel. We need blue collar and white collar workers to transfer jobs or venture into new careers so they can move with a team to plant a church. CP teams do not need to be made solely of vocational ministers. Our views of discipleship have got to change. We have a lecture-style mentality of discipleship which says, "Just buy a couple more devotional books or participate in another Bible study, and you'll be a stronger Christian." My Korean friends are showing me the biblical model of mentorship-discipling. Jesus didn't set up a university to train disciples...He said, "Come, follow me."

I issue a challenge for you to pray right now about the possibility of CP, whether that be from a prayer or financial support aspect or whether that be from a participation aspect. Too bad we think church planters have to be young. Oh, to see middle-aged and senior adults leveraging their spiritual maturity and life experiences for the Kingdom of God instead of trying to figure out a way to spend their remaining years in self-satisfaction. But, in all of this, we must count the cost. (By the way, this is not a plea for you to join us in CP, although we welcome anyone who God calls along side of us. God may be calling you in a completely different direction, and you need to follow that calling).

In addition to the call, I believe church planters must be equipped not just with strategy and networking skills, but also with pastoral skills and preaching skills. It's disheartening for me when I read CP books that never teach church planters how to effectively and creatively preach the Word of God or how to relate it to someone who is struggling with certain issues in his life. They'll tell you how to plan events, reach out to the community, or cast vision, but I haven't read much about how to teach the biblically illiterate in your mission field how to read and understand the Bible. Fortunately, I'm getting great training in how to do some of these things, but like I mentioned before, many church planters skip the training because they're anxious to get their hands dirty. Maybe God will allow me to help train others in some way.

Lastly, here's some facts I heard the last week or so. The U.S. currently has approx. 500,000 international students in its colleges and universities. 70 % of these students have never been invited to an American's house. 80% have never been invited to an American church. Oh what a global mission field awaits us out our back door! It's government-funded missions, and you don't have to leave the country. The mission field is coming to us. Won't you consider seeing how you can befriend an international student or two? They are lonely. They are struggling with the language barrier. They want friendships. They need Jesus. Are you daring enough to at least ask God what you should do about this?

I'm sure this stirred the pot some. Post a comment or two if you'd like. There's lots here to hash out.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

3 Minute Testimony

In my contemporary evangelism class at school, we had to write a 3-minute testimony about our life before Christ, our conversion experience, and what has happened since. We were challenged not to use "churchy" words. Here's mine:

I grew up in a religious family. We went to church all the time, and most people would say I was a good kid. The problem was that I was an addict. No, I wasn’t an addict to drugs or alcohol. I was addicted to something more hidden: selfishness and rebellion against God. I wanted to do things my own way. I had a big problem with telling the truth. I would tell lies to cover up my actions and to try to make myself look good. I believed God existed, and I thought I was good enough to go to heaven when I died. I went through all the religious rituals, but nothing changed in my life.

Over time, I learned that I couldn’t be good enough on my own. Even one lie was breaking God’s law, which made me an enemy of God. This breaking of God’s law, which God calls sin, separated me from God and deserved punishment. I couldn’t outweigh my sin with good deeds. I realized that Jesus took my punishment and offered me forgiveness for my sins and a new life. If I accepted Jesus’ payment for my sins, renounced my sinful ways and committed my life to him, I could have a relationship with God and the assurance that I would live with Him forever. So, one night at church, I repented and committed my life to Jesus.

When I became a Christian, my life was forever changed. I didn’t enjoy sin anymore, and I wanted to please God. I started reading my Bible, and it started making more sense to me. Life wasn’t perfect, and neither was I, but I had hope and a genuine joy in my life that I had never experienced. I’ve gotten to know God better, and I have discovered His plans for my life. I have the sense of purpose and satisfaction that everyone’s looking for. I love Jesus and will do anything He tells me to do. Have you ever had an experience like this?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

>>>>>New Poll>>>>>

Check out the newest poll to the right>>>>>>>>>

Overdrive

Well, things are in overdrive. This was the first full week for school, and I started my new job on Tuesday. I like the new job; the office environment is great. I get along with everyone. This week was more of an "easing into the cold water" (see pic of Blake in ice cold river water) week, but I'm pretty sure they're going to push me in next week. My biggest concern is time management, so if you have a couple of moments right now, will you say a prayer for me and my family? Thanks. It's just going to take discipline and flexibility.

I've been challenged lately in my walk with the Lord. As I've been reading from the book of Matthew and some other books for my church planting internship, I've realized that I've been trying to live the spiritual life apart from the Spirit. It has hit me like a brick wall. You'd think I wouldn't be this dumb...after all, spiritual has the word spirit in it! I've been frustrated over the past couple of years with not being consistent in my walk and not experiencing the power of the Lord. It's like I've been running on empty for so long, and I haven't noticed that the plug came out of the socket. The Bible tells us that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is power, freedom, boldness, and wisdom. Without the Spirit, we're no better off than those who don't walk with the Lord. Without the Spirit, my eyes are dull to the Bible...with the Spirit, the Bible becomes vibrant. I've wondered why when a preacher or my professor explains a passage, it explodes with life and depth that I've never seen. It's because they're walking in the Spirit, and the Spirit breaths life into Word. I heard a message the other day, and the preacher explained that in the Bible, Spirit and Word are inseparable. They're as inseparable as breath and speech. (See Gen. 1:2-3; Ps. 33:6; Luke 4:18; John 3:34; 2 Tim. 3:16). "When the word of God is expounded, the Spirit speaks." (R. Kent Hughes)

Here's some pics from our trip to New Mexico:


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer Update/Big changes in store...

It's been a while since my last post, and boy have we been busy! Here's a brief summary of what we've been up to and some pics along the way:

New Mexico
The day after Blake's birthday, we headed out for a road trip to New Mexico with Amy's mom, dad, and nephew. It was a great trip. FYI, don't go 73 in a 65 in Texas when you're 5 miles from the New Mexico border...just ask my father-in-law. :) In New Mexico, we stayed in Ruidoso, which is a mountain town, and all of Amy's aunts, uncles, cousins from her mom's side got together. We rented a big house right off the river. Will, Blake, and I were adventurous and played in the river. The water was pretty cold, which Will hated, but Blake dove right in...literally!

Will's Birthday/Class Reunion
We returned from the New Mexico Trip on Tuesday, and on Friday, we drove down to Beaumont to see family. That Friday was Will's birthday, so we had a party. There's a lot of birthdays on my side of the family in July & August, so we had a joint birthday celebration (see picture below of everyone blowing out candles...we missed you, Jay). I had my 12-year class reunion...I know it's stupid, and I don't know why my class is this weird. Basically, they missed the 5-year, so they had a 7-year instead, and so now the tradition continues. I'd like to pontificate about life and reminiscing with friends, but I wouldn't have a lot to say. It was nice to see people I haven't seen in 12 years. Some have changed, most have not. I realized that it only takes about 5-7 minutes to get updated on some one's story since high school. Maybe if I would have gone to the bar that night w/ everyone I would have heard more, but a family picnic for a couple of hours suited me just fine. I only have a handful of people from high school that I even remotely keep up with, so it's not that big of a deal.

Family in town
The following week, my oldest brother and his family came up. We hit Six Flags twice and went to the Star Wars exhibit at the Fort Worth Museum. It's so cool to see our kids playing together (see pic below). Also, this weekend, my parents came up to see us. Dad and I went to the bookstore to get some stuff for school and my upcoming church planting internship. We also went to Six Flags last night. Storms rolled in right as we were getting there, so all the rides were shut down, which was disappointing. We decided to go eat dinner and see if the storm would blow over, and it did. The park was practically empty, so my younger brother, dad, and I got to ride all the rides we wanted...multiple times. Will also got to ride a lot of rides w/ his Meme (my mom)...thanks mom for enduring the Mini Mine Train 7 times in a row!

Will's Birthday Party
Last weekend, we had Will's birthday party...2 weeks after his birthday. See the picture below of his cake...Amy did this. We had the party at the seminary rec center and had a pool party. The cake is an ocean scene, complete with graham cracker island and lounging teddy grahams. It was a hit, and Will loved his "Water Party".

New Job
Last but not least, I'm changing jobs! Crazy, I know. It happened really quickly, but it will be a huge blessing. I wasn't really looking for a job, and I got an email from the seminary. They were looking for people to work in their Communications Department. Long story short, I sent my resume, submitted a sample of my writing, interviewed, and a week later, I had a new job. I'll be a Senior Writer, which means I'll write press releases, marketing materials, news articles, etc. for the seminary. It lines up with my bachelor's degree, and I love writing. Through the job, all my tuition will be paid for, and I'll get full medical benefits for me and my family. I'll have to work 40 hours per week instead of the 30 I was working at Sylvan, but it will be worth it as far as I can see. I start on August 28th, just after school starts. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. It's a great opportunity that God has provided, so we'll see where it goes. It was a very difficult decision because I love working for Sylvan, but it was the best decision for my family. Please pray for me and my family as we all make the new adjustments.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Blake!











Today is Blake's 1st birthday. We are so blessed to have such a healthy and energetic child. He's a mover and shaker, and we are praying that God would use this for His Kingdom. Here's a couple of recent pics of the family and Blake's birthday. Enjoy!




Sunday, July 08, 2007

Vote Now!

Check out my new poll to the right. The first one just asks what you'd like to see more of on the blog. You can choose more than one.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

One more week of being in my 20's


I can't believe I turn 30 next Sunday! I'm as old as Star Wars! I love birthdays. I'm not one of those people who dread them or are afraid to tell people their age. Maybe this will change as I get older, but I doubt it. I think you can look at birthdays in a few of ways: just a number, a dreaded event, or a milestone. I prefer the last one.

Turning 30 is a pretty big milestone for me. First, I can't believe I've actually been alive for 30 years. It seems so long. I know I'm getting old these days because I love to reminisce. I like to think about my childhood: the crazy things we used to do, the family vacations, the what-if's. I like to think about my teen years: awkwardness around girls, wishing I would have put more effort in being good at basketball, God really working on my heart. I like to think about college: getting my first job, surrendering to God's call to ministry, growing tremendously in my relationship with God, and meeting the only woman for me!

I think about when I got married...this August will make 8 years: scraping by on nearly no pay, working through our differences, praying about future ministry. I think about moving to Colorado: growing closer to Amy, meeting new friends, trying new things in ministry, and the excitement of sharing Christ. I think about having our first child: the thrill/fear about being a new dad, the late nights, and the 30 minute prep time to go anywhere. I think about moving back to Texas to attend seminary: being sad to leave a ministry/people/state I love and not knowing if we'd ever be back, wondering if I would be able to balance school, work, and family effectively, and the "light and momentary troubles" when we arrived. I think about having our second child: wondering if I could handle 2 of them, return to late nights, and the hour prep time to go anywhere.

Overall, I have been really blessed these past 30 years. God has been more than good to me and my family. I love my family and extended family. I feel like I'm still a work in progress for the Lord's work. I'm learning things all the time. I guess you could say I'm growing up.

I want to thank some of you out there who've invested in my life. I am bound to miss someone, so I'm not going to make an exhaustive list. Please don't take it personally.


  • My parents: for pointing me to Jesus and supporting my obedience to the Lord's call
  • Dad the missionary- thanks for showing me a heart for missions (both here and abroad). I still want to go on an overseas mission trip with you. You can minister with me anytime.
  • Mom the prayer warrior- thanks for being willing to show genuine emotion when God moves in mighty ways. You're a prayer warrior. You rely on God for everything. You sacrifice for the good of others...and it doesn't go unnoticed.

  • My brothers: a lot of people don't get along with their siblings, but you guys are my best friends. You each offer unique perspectives that challenge and encourage me.
  • Jeff the wise- I can count on you for anything. You're rock solid, man. I hope to learn more about the outdoors from you so I can pass them along to my kids.
  • Jay the theologian - I miss the days we got to spend more time together in college. You challenge me to not waste my life. Most of the time when we have deep conversations, I find myself disagreeing initially but later on realizing that you're wise beyond your years.
  • Brent the creative - You're one of my best friends. We've been through a lot. There's no one I'd rather do ministry with than you. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and I admire that tremendously. I love every opportunity we get to laugh, debate fantasy football, and worship together.

  • My wife: Amy the Amazing - Words can't describe what you mean to me. You have supported me in every new adventure...moving to Colorado...quitting my job at RadioShack...moving back to Texas...the possibility of church planting. You challenge me to lead our family for the glory of God. I look forward to continuing to raise our kids together, celebrating future anniversaries, and partnering with you in ministry. I love you!

  • My discipler: Jeff Hazleton - you showed me that the Christian life is more than just Sundays. You helped me develop a quiet time and held me accountable to maintain it.

  • My mentor: Weston Nichols - I was a young 20-yr old punk when you met me. We grew together in ministry in Bridge City, and God allowed me the opportunity to minister again with you in Colorado. Thanks for showing me what vision looks like in a ministry. You challenged me to pursue excellence but also to make relationships important.

  • My extended family: Joe & Susie - I consider myself your son. You guys bring so much fun to our lives, and we love spending time with you. We can count on you for anything.

  • My friends: so many to name, so I'll just make this one general so I don't forget anyone. You guys accept me for my quirkiness. You sometimes laugh at my jokes. Even if I haven't seen you for a long time, it seems like we always pick up right where we left off. I know I could call you, and at a moment's notice, you would do everything in your power to help me. I've prayed with you, laughed with you, cried with you, and been shaped by you.

All of you have held the chisel and helped shape me into who I am today. Keep chiseling away!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Can you hear the stars speaking?




Here's an excerpt from my journal today after reading Matthew 2:1-12 (The Visit of the Magi):

Amazing! Some of the first people to find Jesus and worship Him were scientists! The magi, according to a footnote in my Bible, were "a caste of wise men specializing in astronomy, astrology, and natural science." They saw the star of the King of the Jews and followed it. Scientists today look for the origin of the universe through the stars. The magi found the Origin of the Universe through observing the stars. I'm stunned by the thought that when God made the stars, He knew even then that their rotations would be synced to His divine, redemptive plan. Genesis 1:14 says He made the stars, sun, and moon to "be for signs and seasons and for days and years."

A theologian once said there are two ways to magnify something: like a microscope or a telescope. A microscope takes something that is small and magnifies it to make it look bigger than it really is. A telescope takes something incredibly big and brings it into a closer view. Christians should magnify God like a telescope with their lives. We should allow others to see Christ in us and bring him into a closer view.

or

Monday, June 18, 2007

Thanks Tony


God is awesome. In my last post, I mentioned struggles w/ sharing my faith. God plopped an opportunity right in my lap yesterday.

I was at Six Flags for Father's Day with a friend of mine. We were in line for the Shockwave (double-loop, classic roller-coaster). Just as I was about to get on, I heard someone behind me say, "Excuse me, sir." I turned around, and a guy said, "I saw you have a shirt that says you believe in Jesus." I did have a Christian t-shirt on...remarkably, I only have one of these, and I don't wear it very often. Anyhow, he then shot straight with me and asked, "Why do you believe in Jesus?" I was literally getting on the ride when all this transpired, and I did not want to give him a trite answer. I responded with, "I'd love to tell you why. Would you like to talk about it after you get off the ride?" He agreed, so we got on the ride. It actually worked out well, because it gave me a little time to organize my thoughts to respond to his question.

We waited at the bottom of the steps for him. When he came down, I shared with him why I believe in Jesus. Here's a brief synopsis of what I told him:

First, I believe in Jesus because I believe in God. By believing in God, I realize that I am a sinful person and I've broken God's laws. Even on my best days, I've broken His laws. If I just look at the ten commandments, I immediately see that I have broken his commandments agains lying, stealing, and putting him first in my life. God says that the punishment for breaking even one of his laws once is death and eternity in hell. Therefore, I am hopelessly destined for punishment because of my sin. The great thing about God is that he provides a way for my sin to be forgiven and for relationship with him to be restored. John 3:16 tells us that God loved us so much that he gave his son, Jesus, that whoever believes in him will not receive God's just punishment but will instead receive eternal life, and John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God, which denotes a relationship. God requires a perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty of my sin, and Jesus became a man, lived a perfect life, and died as the sacrifice for my sin...and yours too. I need a savior, and Jesus is the only one who can save me. That's why I believe in Jesus.
He responded with a couple more questions, but as we talked I sensed that I was talking with another believer who was just testing me, and I was right. He was recently licensed and ordained for prison ministry. He said, "The bible tells us to always be ready to give a reason for the hope we have in Jesus, so I just wanted to make sure you were ready. You did a great job. God bless you."

I know he will probably never read this blog or see me again, but THANKS TONY for being obedient to God and challenging me. It was just what I needed... an opportunity to share my faith and "get back in the saddle" of evangelism.

So, how would you answer the question if someone asked you? By the way, rarely will you get this question point blank from a non-Christian. You must initiate conversation and find opportunities to be a witness.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Life's Ponderings



Life sometimes races at warp speed these days. I'm taking a Christian Ethics class, and it's really more philosophy than anything else. We're reading Aristotle, Aquinas, Kierkegaard, etc. The class is quite boring at times...if my mind wanders for a minute, I'm lost for about 20 minutes. Anyhow, I guess it's got me into a reflective mindset lately.

I've been wrestling lately with the complete inadequacy of me. I know that may sound hard to believe, but it's really been pounding me lately. I feel like God may be calling us to plant a church, but I look at the qualities and disciplines often associated with successful church planting, and I come up bankrupt. I don't have an entrepreneurial mindset like most church planters...ambitious go-getters who love to start things from scratch. My personal evangelism is non-existent...an important need if you're starting a church in an unchurched area. I really struggle with consistent times of prayer and bible study...essential in staying fresh and focused on the mission field.

I'm 0 for 3 on the Big 3. It makes me question if God's really calling us to church planting at times. It seems like all I'm hanging onto at times is the notion that God's calling us to do it. Wait a minute! Isn't that the trump card? If I truly feel God has called us to this endeavor, then I must trust that he will equip us to be successful.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3

Sometimes I feel like the "chief among sinners", but I was recently encouraged by the reason Paul gave for God's mercy in his life through Jesus Christ. Paul said it was so Christ could display his "unlimited patience" (1 Timothy 1:12-17). I need that!

Jesus, I'm walking in Your grace and unlimited patience. Forgive me for ignoring you and being disobedient in my testimony of you to others. I have not arrived yet, and I can't change myself. Holy Spirit, please change me. I submit to You. Grant me discipline to talk with you and meditate on your word daily. Give me boldness and a desire to invite others to embrace You as their King.


"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You."

Psalm 51:10-13


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Update/Prayer requests

Life is always moving and changing. In a week, we'll be moving into a townhome on campus. This will be nice for several reasons:
  1. I'll be closer to school (I'll even walk to class if the weather is nice).
  2. The rent will be cheaper!
  3. We won't have to deal with upstairs neighbors (probably my #1 benefit...no more domestic violence disputes or stereos with bass boost cranked to 11 at 1:00am).
  4. We'll be next door to some close friends of ours and also be able to meet some more people in the same life-stage as us.
  5. We'll be closer to church.
  6. I'll be 5 minutes closer to work.

Of course, there are some down-sides:

  1. We won't have lost neighbors (at least as far as we know) to invest in
  2. The area of town isn't as nice and as easily accessible to things (we lived across the street from a Super Wal-mart and w/in a 5 mile radius of restaurants, stores, and a mall)
  3. We'll be right next to a very active train track. Will is afraid of trains, so we're not sure how he'll adjust.

We'll have the same phone numbers, but our email addresses will change and will no longer be ___@sbcglobal.net. Just email me to get our new ones (I don't feel safe posting them b/c I don't want more email spam than I already get). I can also get you our new mailing address if you're interested.

Now for the family update:

Keith - I'm currently taking a May-mester (2 week course through the end of May), and I'll be taking a summer class in the month of June. I plan on taking July and the first part of August off of school to rest and spend time w/ family. My co-workers have graciously agreed to let me work just 4 days a week during that time, which I hope to use wisely. In the fall, I'll be back in the full swing of school, and I'll also be involved in a Church Planter Internship through my church, which we're excited about. Amy will be part of it as well.

Amy - Amy is planning for our move and looking forward to possibly going to Ruidoso, NM in the summer with her mom (I might go if it's in July). In the fall, she'll be busy with the Church Planter Internship, leading a group in MOPS (which she's very excited about), and continuing to stay home with the boys. She is an incredible woman, and I am blessed by God for being allowed to share my life with her. I couldn't ask for a better teammate on this journey. I love you, Amy!!!!!!

Will - Will continues to absorb things like a sponge. He has a photographic memory and can identify things he's only seen once or twice months down the road. We're trying to put this to good use and teach him sight words to help him towards reading. He knows all his letter sounds and a couple of sight words like pizza! He's still adjusting to a little brother and has his good times and bad times. We love to hear them giggle together, and I know they'll be good friends one day. Will loves to sing, and his favorite songs are from the David Crowder Band...he loves the "Holy Song" and "Shout Aloud", which are not the real names of the songs, but we know what he means. His summer will be filled with seeing cousins and going to Six Flags!

Blake - Blake is very active! He is a mixture between an eagle and a monkey. His eagle qualities include eyeing a crumb on the carpet from across the room and scampering (swooping) across the room to pick it up and eat it. His monkey qualities include climbing on and over everything and being silly. We love his active spirit, and I don't think Will is going to know what to do once Blake is fully mobile. Mischief is always in Blake's eyes, and I think Will is going to receive payback for all the times he's taken a toy or pushed Blake. Blake is taking 2 steps before falling now, and I'm sure he'll be walking soon.

Prayer Requests:

  • Keith - stay on top of his Greek over the summer so next semester will go smoothly.
  • Keith - continue to make time alone with God in prayer and bible study a priority
  • Amy - patience and wisdom with the boys each day
  • Amy - a growing heart for the Lord and the lost
  • Will - continued adjustment to a little brother and the new home
  • Will - he would come to know Jesus at an early age and be used mightily for the Kingdom
  • Blake - adjusting to a new home
  • Blake - he would come to know Jesus at an early age and be used mightily for the Kingdom

Saturday, May 05, 2007

SIX FLAGS!!!

Daddy and his riding buddy.
Will and Blake on the swings.

Blake waiting for big brother.
Will's favorite ride.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Hallelujah Nuns

Check this out! Maybe when we plant a church, these guys can come do a special music for us!

Lighten Up...Sucka!

Can you tell my research paper is over? I'm not out of the woods yet, but I feel free again.


My brother & sister-in-law sent me this great photo. It was designed by my Scottish pal, Greg "Braveheart" Shepherd. According to Greg, everything about Scotland is accurate in the movie Braveheart....just ask him. (Actually, if he could, Greg would be strangling me right now). It was originally a picture of our church staff in Colorado...(left to right) Keith "Fly Guy" Collier, Weston "How Much for One Rib?" Nichols (our pastor), and my brother Brent "Huggy Bear" Collier (Worship Pastor)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don't Waste Your Life!


A startling command, huh? To be able to accomplish such a feat, it's probably important to know what types of things lead to a wasted life. Pop quiz: what comes to mind when you think of someone wasting their life? Let me toss out a couple of popular answers: addictions (drug, alcholics, workaholics, etc.), selfish pursuits, laziness, undisciplined, poor decision making...
No one wants to come to the end of their life and realize that they've wasted it on things that do not matter. So, what really matters in life? I think far too often, we in the Church get the answer only partially right. Most Christians would say that being a Christian and "living for God" is what really matters in life. This is undeniably true, but the "living for God" is where I think many often short-change themselves and actually end up wasting their lives. Living for the glory of God means living for something more than yourself. It means more than having a comfortable life, enjoying time with your family, working hard at your job, and being involved with a local church. I would say that the majority of our culture does this, and they're not Christians, and they're wasting their lives.
What makes you as a Christian any different than your co-workers or family members that don't know Jesus. I felt the wind knocked out of me when I read these words by the author of the book pictured above: "Even sinners work hard, avoid gross sin, watch TV at night, and do fun stuff on the weekend. What more are you doing than the others?" If my goals are the same as theirs, why would they want Jesus?
I'm hoping to re-read this book this summer. I have a link to a website that has short videos and a blog to help people hash out what it means to live an unwasted life. I challenge you to visit the website or read the book or gather some friends and do a study on it as a small group. I guarantee it won't be a waste of your time...or your life!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Parenting with Kingdom Purpose



I've been reading this book for one of my classes, and it's sparked some really challenging thoughts/ideas. The book talks about raising your children in a way that helps them cut through the muck of modern life and live lives for the Kingdom of God. Have you ever noticed how much Jesus talked about the Kingdom?

Out of this reading, many ideas have arisen for me. Here's a couple of them:

  1. Start a bank account for missions - this can be for individual mission trips for each of your kids or family mission trips. How you spend your money is a strong indicator of what you are truly passionate about.
  2. Buy your kids a map/globe - use it to give them a more global perspective about what God is doing in the world. I subscribe to the free magazine Voice of the Martyrs, and they send out a World Prayer Map that shows countries where persecution for the gospel is high. We often pray for an individual country when we pray for our meal.
  3. Take your kids with you when you do ministry - visit someone in the hospital, pray with someone, share your faith, etc. By the way, this is not just what pastors should be doing...the Bible is clear that pastors and teachers are called to "prepare God's people for works of service."
  4. Instead of buying each other gifts at Christmas, buy worthwhile items for families in need.
  5. Make the Kingdom a priority in your personal life. The faith of the young will typically mirror that of the key adults in their lives. Most kids raised in "Christian" homes end up rejecting the faith or going through the motions because they saw how their parent's really demonstrated their faith. A guy in class today made a profound statement..."Hypocrisy is most clearly seen through the eyes of a 15-year old." Genuine modeling from my parents is what has spoken the most to me.

Let's brainstorm...what other ways can you encourage Kingdom living in your home? Maybe your children are already grown...it's not too late to model it. I know I'm still learning from my parents. If you don't have kids yet, how can you make the Kingdom a priority in your life. Who else in your life can you model Kingdom living for? What does it really mean to be Kingdom minded? Jesus talks a lot about it...why don't you ask him?

"4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

Deut. 6:4-9

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Anonymous???

Alright, wise-guy...or wise-girl...whoever you are! Someone posted a comment to my last blog entry, but they didn't sign it. I'm assuming it's in response to my challenge at the end of the blog entry. It read as follows:


Anonymous said...
I'm in! Let's go! YEE-HAA!



Someone either accidentally forgot to put their name on the comment (which defaults to Anonymous) or they intentionally left it off. If it's the latter, then I can deduce that:

1. this person either doesn't want to make the full commitment yet

or

2. this person knows it would drive me crazy not knowing who it is, and they just want to mess with me.



Now, I have to go into Sherlock Holmes mode to try to figure out who this might be. Let's dissect the statement. First, it's short statements, so it must be someone who is extremely busy or who is a person of few words. Next, it says "I'm in", so I would guess it's the statement of an individual rather than a family. Finally, there's the YEE-HAA! I'd have to say it's not a person from Texas, not b/c we wouldn't use this word, but more importantly, we all know it's spelled YEE-HAW (like the hit show Hee-Haw!). I have my guesses, but I don't want to call anyone out.



Whoever you are, don't be yellow! Step up to the plate! :)



Editorial note:

I realize that this blog entry may cause others to post anonymous comments, but I plead with you not to do so. With the stress from school and work right now, I might lose it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring Break

Well, last week was Spring Break, and we had an awesome time in Colorado! We got to connect with friends and family, and I even got a day in of skiing. It was a fun-filled week, and the boys did well with traveling, staying at different people's houses, and meeting a lot of strange people who talked to them as if they knew them but who the boys didn't recognize.

Update on the family...

Will continues to amaze me with his insights and humor. Watch out Comedy Central, this kid is clever and funny and doesn't use any profanity in his humor. He's gradually becoming a daddy's boy much to mommy's horror. He loves for me to tell him stories, especially "Go Jesus" stories and The Adventures of Will the Wild-Hearted and Blake the Brave (with cameos from Daddy the Daring and Mommy the Marvelous). What are these stories you might ask??? Anytime we tell a biblical story about Jesus or something Jesus is doing present day, we always end with the cheer "Go Jesus!" with all the enthusiasm we can. Will just can't get enough of this Jesus who does amazing things, and daddy is always happy to tell him more "Go Jesus" stories and even to talk with Jesus together. The Will and Blake Adventures are ones I just make up, and they usually involve rugged, manly adventures like wrestling bears in the mountains or fly-fishing (two things I know very little about, but Will doesn't know this yet...shhhhh). I'm getting him ready for life in Colorado...more about this below. Another cool thing Will is starting to pick up on is who God is. It's remarkably difficult to explain God to someone who has no frame of reference and the vocabulary of a 2 yr old. We're doing our best

Blake is going to be our adrenaline-junkie. He is crawling and climbing as fast as he can. The other night, he pulled himself up to standing in his crib all by himself. He's starting to smile and laugh more, and he loves to tackle Will. I don't think Will is quite ready for the hurricane that's about to come through once Blake can walk/run.

Amy is continuing to be a wonderful mom and wife. She takes great care of the boys (including the big one). She is involved with MOPS and just started a class for Seminary Wives that has assignments and homework, so she's excited about that. She goes the extra mile and is very understanding about my school load. We had a great week last week just being together. She's wanting to get involved in the ministry to special needs children at our church, which will allow her to use her special education experience to minister to kids in a Christian environment.

I am heading into a 3-week cave that involves book reviews, tests, and research papers on top of my normal studies. I'm reading Jonathan Edward's "Treatise on Religious Affections", and it's great. If you don't know who he is, he was one of the most popular preachers during the Great Awakening. He's probably most popularly known for his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", which was completely misunderstood and taught poorly in my high school English class. "Religious Affections" is primarily based on the premise that if you truly receive the gospel, you cannot be unaffected by it. It discusses what true and false religious affections are as well. I highly recommend it for those, like me, who struggle at times with apathy in the Christian life. One way to jump start your affections is to read the Gospels (and you might even let out a "Go Jesus!" when you realize that people don't rise from the dead everyday!!!) Outside of school, I'm looking into a church planter internship at our church. I'll give more info later when I have it myself.

About preparing for Colorado...

God is continuing to give us a heart for the Denver Metro Area, and last week confirmed our desire to hear the name of Jesus on the lips of the unchurched in that area. Church planting seems to be our path for now, and I met w/ the regional director of church planting in the area. It was also very encouraging to hear friends and family who live there who are completely supportive of us returning to do ministry there. Hopefully some of them will join us in reaching out to the community and seeing lostness reduced and lives radically transformed. We're still about 2 yrs out, but we're going to continue praying and seeking God on his direction.

Anyone out there who is reading this...I am making a formal challenge to you to pray now about if God would have you join us in the future in Colorado. You may not be a "minister" or have any ministry experience, and that's totally fine. God is calling people of all backgrounds and abilities to join Him in his global purposes. Maybe he's calling you to use your vocation to do missions? Sound crazy? Businessmen, teachers, plumbers, secretaries, real estate agents, salespeople, students, factory workers, engineers, entrepreneurs, etc. all over are leveraging their occupation to help start churches all over this planet. They are using getting jobs in their field in areas that need churches so they can be actively involved in church planting. New churches need people who are working in the community, building relationships, investing in the ministry, and sharing their faith. I hope you'll at least ask God if He wants to use you in this way, even if it sounds unrealistic. It's a whole new way of doing missions, at least as far as I've ever heard. We'd love for you to be part of our team...what do you think?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sow what!

"I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh...Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation." (Romans 9:1-3, 10:1)

This passage showed up several times in several ways last week for me. Isn't it incredible how God knows how hard-headed and deaf-eared we can be that He shows us things over and over until we listen? I knew God was trying to get my attention.

Evangelism. This word evokes so many reactions. What's yours? For me, I think "Ouch!" This is an area I struggle in. Some people are faith-sharing machines it seems...not me. It would be easy to say I don't have the "spiritual gift" of evangelism, but this is mostly a cop-out for disobedience. Jesus told us to make disciples, and that will probably be difficult if we're not sharing our faith.

I'm kind of an "all or nothing" type person. If I can't do something right, I don't want to do it at all. This fleshes itself out in areas like home improvement projects. When we lived in Colorado, Amy wanted to do things to our townhome like paint or put tile down in the kitchen. Not ever having done this, I was petrified to mess it up. I'm a perfectionist, and if I put one tile down crooked, I would have to see it every day, and that's not a chance I was willing to take. I had a chance to do some tiling with a friend at his house who knew what he was doing, and after months of "encouragement", Amy finally convinced me that we could do it. I consented, and we bought the tile and supplies. It turned out to not be as difficult as I thought, and now I look back on it and think, "Sure, I'd do it again. It's not that hard."

I think this mentality permeates my faith-sharing as well. If I can't share all of the gospel in one sitting, I may never get to see that person again, so I'm hesitant to even start a conversation. I'm realizing that it's not about an all-or-nothing deal. God puts us in positions with friends, family, acquaintances, and perfect strangers and just wants us to share whatever we can in the time we have with them. This is a relief for me. I am not always responsible to cultivate, plant, water, weed, and harvest. I'm just responsible to be available to do the stage of where the person is at that day on their journey to saving faith. One person may need some cultivating; another may need some watering; and still another may be ready for harvest.

Now, back to the scripture above. I know that in order for me to be sensitive to the moments God gives me, I need to have a desire to see people put their faith in Jesus. I'm praying for this desire because it's not natural. God tells us that he will supply all our needs according to his glorious riches...maybe he's not just talking about our financial needs. I need to hurt for the lost people around me, whether I know them well or not. Paul was at the point where he was willing to trade places and give up eternity w/ Jesus just to see his fellow Israelites come to faith in Christ. Wow! I'm not there yet.

Like Amy and the tile, I'm also asking God to keep putting people in my life to "encourage" me to be sharing my faith. I'm also asking Him for a mentor in this area...someone I can watch in action and work alongside in the faith.

Tell the world that Jesus lives. Tell the world that. Tell the world that.
Tell the world that He died for them. Tell the world that He lives again.

We'll tell, we'll tell, we'll tell the world about You.
We'll tell, we'll tell, we'll tell the world about You.

Friday, February 16, 2007

One Challenging Week

It's been a challenging week to say the least. Last Sunday morning, my dad called and told me my grandmother passed away. This was my mom's mom, and we lost my grandfather over Christmas, so my mom has lost both parents in a very short amount of time. My grandmother was in advanced stages of Alzheimer's, and she really hasn't been herself for the past 5-10 yrs. The great news is that she is free now. She was a Christian, and it's encouraging to know that she no longer has a frail body and weak mind. Thank you, Jesus.

Just as we were trying to get everything ready to travel to the funeral, Blake got a stomach bug. As a precaution, I made the trip on my own and Amy stayed with the boys. Subsequently, Blake shared the virus with Amy and Will. I returned late Wednesday night, and I was supposed to have a Greek test on Wed., but my professor let me do it today instead. I was far from ready for the test but gave it my best anyhow. I'm just glad this week is over and as of yet, I'm not sick.

Exciting news for us...we're taking a trip to Colorado! Over spring break, we're going to drive up and spend a week with friends and family. I'm completely psyched about this trip. I'm going to get to ski with one of my best friends(see picture) and reconnect w/ people we haven't seen in 7 months. Woo Hoo!!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

One more thing...

I just read this...after my initial post. Amy and I are now attending Northwood Church, and this interview is of the pastor, Bob Roberts Jr. http://www.christianvisionproject.com/2007/01/we_arent_about_weekends.html

Soul-Winner or Disciple Maker?


Heard a good message in chapel at seminary the other day (to view, go to http://www.swbts.edu/events/chapel_archive.cfm and click on Feb. 1, 2007 Chapel video - you can skip to the message which is probably about 30-40 minutes into the video). The pastor talked about the difference between soul-winners and disciple-makers. A soul-winner shares the gospel but doesn't carry on with the new believer once they've become a Christ-follower. (I like the idea of using the word Christ-follower rather than Christian b/c 51% of Americans say they are "Christians" but I imagine a much lower percentage are actually Christ-followers...more about this below).


Jesus, in the Great Commission, called us to make disciples, not win converts. A disciple-maker doesn't just encourage a new believer to go to a class to learn more about the faith or invite them to church with them or get them involved in a program, although these are definitely important steps. A disciple-maker comes alongside the new believer and gets integrally involved with their growth in the faith. I've known a lot of good soul-winners who are terrible disciple-makers, but I don't know that I've known any true disciple-makers who aren't also good soul-winners. I'm tooling around these days with new lingo, not really b/c I want to coin a phrase or pick up the latest fad but more because I think words/terms capture thoughts and using new terms helps us focus on the meaning rather than blindly ignore it b/c we've heard it so many times. Instead of soul-winner, I propose faith-sharer. Who knows, I may change to a different one down the road but this one will work for now. A disciple-maker is a faith-sharer who knows it's a hard road to walk helping a new Christ-follower adjust to new life in Christ and begin to grow. A disciple-maker echoes the words of Paul, "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ." (Colossians 1:28) To say it another way, a disciple-maker works to present new Christ-followers to Jesus as "ready for service".


Now back to the lingo shift to Christ-follower instead of Christian. My brother and I have talked recently about the debate that's existed called the "Lordship Salvation" debate. Basically, some people say that when you can accept Jesus as Savior (forgiver of sin) and that you grow towards making Him Lord (master). I side with what I would consider the biblical position that you can't have Jesus as Savior if you don't allow Him to be Lord. We do not have an a la carte Jesus. Romans 10:9 makes it clear that we must "confess Him as Lord". I was talking to my dad about all of this, and for those who don't know, he was a 41-year old deacon in a Baptist church when he became a Christ-follower as a sponsor at youth camp. Before that, he would have said he was a Christian and others around him would have probably said the same. He realized that he wasn't a Christian and had never allowed Jesus to come in, declare Him righteous, and take control of His life. This conversation causes us to consider ourselves, doesn't it (see 2 Peter 1:1-11 for why this is a good thing)?
If you've made it this far through my ponderings, I congratulate you. So where does all this lead me on a practical level...church planting, of course. As God continues to work on me about the possibility of planting a church after seminary, I want to make sure that wherever He places me, I'll be a disciple-maker. Disciple-making churches typically aren't mega-churches b/c they do the hard work of making disciples rather than record a bunch of baptisms and never see the vast majority of those who were baptized do anything more than casually attend church...if that. Now, this is not to say that if you have a mega-church, then it is not a disciple-making church. (For more on this, watch the video I've mentioned above) I will say, though, that when you start challenging people to become true Christ-followers, this may sift out some who were just buying into a good idea and didn't want to go to hell. If they have no intentions of allowing Jesus to be Savior and Lord, then they will probably bail. Jesus experienced this as well. As he called people to step up to the plate, many walked away. Look at Luke 9:57-62 (notice they call Him Lord) and John 6:60-68. Such is the straight and narrow, I guess. Few walk it, but those who do, they discover the true treasure, Jesus Christ.
Praise be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope this will prompt you to check out Scripture and bring you lasting joy in Christ.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

13 inches of snow in Texas!



Do you believe it? Take that, DENVER!!!!! 13 inches of snow (even longer...I mean "deeper" in some areas)! Just kidding, but it did snow today, which in Texas means that everything shuts down, so I didn't have to go to work. School starts tomorrow, so hopefully it will be safer to drive.



Saturday, January 13, 2007

Krispy Kreme & Flux Capacitors




We had a good time together yesterday, and I thought I'd share some photos. As you can see in the first pic, Will got his first opportunity to go to Krispy Kreme Donuts by our house. He loved watching the donut life-cycle (especially the part where the donuts are flipped over to cook the other side). Blake's getting bigger. He's rolling from front-to-back and back-to-front. We have to be careful now because if you're not watching, he'll roll across the room before you know it. He loves to watch and laugh at Will, and Will loves to oblige. This Thursday starts the Spring Semester at Seminary, and it already looks like a lot of reading (maybe more than last semester).

We're getting an ice storm today, which stinks. It's kind of a slap in the face to go on top of the 3 weeks of fresh snow in Denver that I'm jealous of. Even though I know God brought us here in his timing, I wish I could have been there for the incredible sledding and skiing we could have enjoyed. When I kept hearing the news reports about the snow in Denver, all I could think was "Fresh Powder"!

I've read many people's blogs lately, and it seems a lot of them are talking about resolutions. For me, I don't need a resolution, I need a revolution. (Kind of catchy, huh) My life's been in a state of flux lately, and I feel very confused. I want my relationship with God to grow deeper, but honestly, I don't always want to put forth the effort to see it happen. It's like wanting a really good meal and having all the ingredients but being too lazy to get up and make it, so you end up eating grilled cheese and spaghettio's instead. I'm working through this, and a very powerful book (in addition to the Bible) that I've read on the subject has been helpful. It's called "When I Don't Desire God" and it talks about fighting for joy. I highly recommend this book by John Piper. If you've read Piper before, you know that his stuff can be weighty, but to use another analogy, you can't be a body-builder if all you do is workout with fluffy pillows. (I should start collecting these Keithisms...okay, maybe not) Anyhow, I write all this to encourage those of you out there who may be struggling as well. Keep trying. Don't give up.

I've been reading the book of Job. Maybe these verses can tie all this rambling together.

Job's state of flux (Job 29:4): "Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house,"

Elihu's encouragement (Job 36:15-16): "But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction,"

Job's final words (Job 42:5): "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Blessed!


Ain't God incredible?! He has supremely blessed us and our family. A week before Christmas, Keith's 93-year old grandfather passed away. We weren't planning on going down to SouthEast Texas for Christmas but changed our plans due to the circumstances. My grandfather was not a Christian despite numerous attempts to share the Good News with him. We are saddened that he chose to forfeit the grace that could have been his (read Jonah 2:8). It was hard not to correct people when they tried to comfort us with phrases such as "He's in a better place" or "He's not suffering any more" because just the opposite is true. I know they meant well, but the reality is that he showed no signs of embracing Jesus. Now, I will say that I don't know his heart, and he may have trusted in Jesus in the final moments, but evidence points to the contrary.
You might be thinking, "How can he say God is incredible and then talk about someone dying without Jesus?" The reason I can say that God is incredible is that in spite of grieving over the loss of my grandfather, God allowed all of my family to be together for Christmas, which hasn't happened in years. God knew when my grandfather's final moments would be and how much my mom would be needing her family around her during the holidays after a long, exhausting year, so he orchestrated the events to coincide. A guy by the name of David Crowder once said that when His divinity meets our humanity, it's a beautiful collision.
We had a great Christmas, and I want to thank God for making it happen. The picture above is amazing as well. Who would have thought that you could get 16 out of 17 individuals (including kids and a dog) to look at the camera and smile at the same time. My nephew Tex is the only one not looking, but I have to give him credit...he was consistent...he wasn't looking at the camera in any of the attempts to get this picture to turn out right. I guess he's just making his mark. :)
School starts in 2 weeks. Better start reviewing that Greek. For those curious, I pulled off A's for the first semester!