Sunday, December 21, 2008

Songs of a Pious Heart

Blake Hicks, a good friend of mine, has just released his new album, titled "Songs of a Pious Heart." The album was birthed out of reading St. Augustine's "Confessions," and I would call it a mix of ancient thought with a modern sound. I've been listening to the album for a week or so, and I have been truly blessed by his songs. I'm not just saying all of this because he's my friend, either.

Blake's the kind of guy I would fight in the spiritual trenches with anyday. His heart for the Gospel and sincere transparency are evident within his lyrics and his life.

Please go to Blake's website:, or find him on Facebook, to listen to some of the songs. This guy is so humble and genuine, that he's actually making his songs available for free on so that others can be blessed by it. He didn't ask me to say this, but you need to listen to the songs, and then if you like the music, purchase the album, either through his site or iTunes or Amazon. At $10, it might just be the best Christmas gift or stocking stuffer you've ever purchased, and it has eternal value. It will also help support Blake, his wife, and two boys.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

How do we avoid Christmas consumerism?

I want to start off this post with a humorous video:

One quick note about the video: the X in X-mas actually stands for the Greek letter "chi" which is a symbolic letter for Christ, so I get why people have called it X-mas.

But, like many Christians, I struggle with knowing just how much to embrace the holiday season. Nostalgia and excitement draw me into the "Christmas spirit" that our culture promotes as the goal of the Chrismas season. But how do I make sure this isn't my goal? I believe it's fine to enjoy the festivities, the parties, the music, and the decorations of the holiday season, but I also know that it's a challenge not to let this become all that Christmas is.

How do I lead my family in making Jesus the centerpiece of Christmas without jettisoning some of the fun things associated with it? Maybe it's impossible. Maybe I should follow suit with some who reject all the things like the festivities, the parties, the music, and the decorations.

As I was typing all of this, Will came up and gave me a huge hug and told me I was a great daddy. I took the opportunity to ask him what Christmas was all about. Unprompted, he said, "It's about Jesus' birthday." I guess I might be doing some things right after all. But, I will continue to strive to keep this on the forefront of our minds. Here's some thing we've been doing with this in mind:

- Each night, we read from the Bible and focus on an aspect of Advent. With the kids so young, I generally have to modify it, but they really seem to be picking it up.

- We don't do Santa. I know this sounds horrible for some, and my kid might be the one who blows it for your kid. I even know that I grew up believing in Santa Claus and it didn't destroy my faith in the long run. We basically tell the boys that he's pretend, just like Elmo or Bob the Builder, and that mommy and daddy are the ones who give the presents. We also tell them that there are some boys and girls who think he's real, and we will let their mommies and daddies tell them when they think it's the right time. The underlying principle for me is that I don't want to blur the line between reality/make believe to the point that my kids question the reality of Jesus Christ.

So, here's the question: What do you and your family do at Christmas to keep Christ on the forefront of your affections for the season? Post a comment or two and share how your family does it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Vietnam Video

Here's a video about our team's work in Vietnam. One of our guys put this together while we were cooped up in the hotel during some of the flooding.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving - What question should we ask?

In a little more than a week, the United States will indulge in the national holiday called Thanksgiving. I, personally, love Thanksgiving and consider it possibly the best holiday of the year.

I know what you're thinking...what about Christmas? Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, and I consider it and Easter to be the most significant holidays of the year. My problems with the holiday called Christmas is that it has become over-commercialized, including in Christian circles, as we have commercialized the over-commercialization of Christmas. (For example, I've seen "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" plastered on everything from bumper stickers to throw pillows.) But, this is all for a separate blog post, so I'll get back to Thanksgiving.

The most common question surrounding Thanksgiving is "What are you thankful for?" I would contend that this is the wrong question to ask. We should be asking, rather, "Who are you thankful to?" As with many originally religious holidays, society has watered it down. While the Pilgrims expressed thankfulness to the LORD on that first Thanksgiving for giving them life and the necessities of life, we now express thankfulness for the things we have (much of which is above and beyond the necessities of life). As is common with humans, we've turned our thanfulness inward. We focus on what we have over Who gave it to us. In this context it's nothing for a Buddhist or an atheist or a Wiccan to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." My prayer is that we would recognize that everything we have belongs to the LORD and that we are merely stewards of it ... that we would recognize the Giver over the gifts. Who knows, maybe when we start doing that at Thanksgiving, the meaning of Christmas will take on a clearer meaning as well.

Now for a confession...I have realized that the primary reasons I love Thanksgiving are selfish reasons. I love hanging out with my family, overloading on incredible food, and watching NFL football. Sure, we say a prayer of Thanksgiving, but I don't usually dedicate the day to expressing my gratitude to God. The Bible says I should live everyday this way.

LORD, forgive me for failing to recognize You as the Giver of all things with my thoughts, my actions, and my words. Remind me each day in Your Word how blessed I am to know You and walk with You. Not only are You the reason for Christmas, but You're the reason for Thanksgiving and every day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Breaking the Silence

Well, I took a hiatus from posting on my blog for a while. In the post below this, I put some videos showing what I've been doing. I've been very busy, but here's a quick rundown of what I've been doing and where I've been:

August: 2008 Black Hills Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, SD
I went with the seminary to South Dakota to minister and share the Gospel with bikers from around the world. We had an incredible time and saw lives changed for eternity.

September/October: Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief in Southeast Texas
When Hurricane Ike hit shore in late September, the storm surge flooded large parts of Southeast Texas, where I was raised. My parents had 6 feet of water in their house and lost pretty much everything they had. Additionally, my dad's church had 3 feet of water inside, forcing them to have church services in the parking lot.

I have organized and led several teams down to help with the disaster relief. We helped tear out walls and flooring in houses and treated them for mold. We will be sending more teams in the future to help with the rebuilding process as well.

October/November: Trip to Hanoi, Vietnam
I went with my church to Vietnam to provide humanitarian aid and complete service projects in the region. When we got there, it began raining heavily and didn't stop until we left 10 days later. The massive rains caused the worst flooding in nearly 30 years in Hanoi, claiming the lives of at least 89 people. This threw our original plans into a tailspin and kept us from completing many projects, so we regrouped and were able to complete service projects at a couple of orphanages in the area, helping them clean up in the aftermath. We saw a someone become a new family member and will hopefully see another one soon. As one guy says, "The Kingdom of God runs on the rails of relationships."

Family Update
Everyone is doing well. Will is 4 1/2 and Blake is 2 1/2. Will is going to pre-school two days a week and continues to amaze us with how quick he learns things. Blake is talking up a storm and is proving to have a much different temperament than his brother. He is generally a jovial kid, but we've seen our share of terrible two meltdowns. Mostly, he loves to laugh and is very athletic. Amy has been taking classes for early childhood education in the church at seminary and is enjoying it. We're planning on going to Florida to see my grandmother for Thanksgiving and then trying to lay low for a while after all the travel these past couple of months.

If you want to see some of what I do at work, visit

Two Videos that show what I've been up to...

I have two videos for you to watch to show you what I've been up to this semester. The first one is a Veteran's Day interview I did at the seminary. You can send people the link to share the Gospel. At the end of the video, there is a link to a Gospel presentation. Don't say I didn't make it easy for have no excuse.:)

The second video is a recap of a Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief trip I led to my hometown. My parents' house had 6 feet of standing water and their church had 3 feet of water inside them. Our seminary has led several teams down and look to continue to do what we can to get people back on their feet and show them the love of Christ.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Prison Ministry Shoutout

I'd like to take this post to give kudos to some friends of ours in Colorado who have walked in obedience to the Lord. Gwen, Stacey, and Nancy, along with a few other women, felt led by the Lord to do some prison ministry. They didn't have a great plan or clever gimmick. They just wanted to love some ladies and offer them true freedom in Jesus Christ. There's a YouTube video that kind of tells their story (see below). I want to commend these ladies for stepping out in faith on this. The church needs more believers like these who seek the Lord's direction for opportunities to minister and heed His call with humble obedience.

Check out the video:

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Irrelevancy of Inerrancy

On my lunch break, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what I've been reading lately.  I'm currently reading Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.  It's an honest look at the emerging/emergent church movement and offers some keen insight into the concerns this movement raises. 

The title of this blog post is a subheading from a section of the book that talks about the emergent church's view of the Bible.  In a nutshell, they tend to view the Bible as a means through which God speaks, but not necessarily the inerrant Word of God.  In Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian, he uses a character named Neo (very original character name, huh?) to argue for a postmodern understanding of the Bible, one without propositional truth (something that is true or false).  Many emergent leaders may themselves hold to a more orthodox view of Scripture, but to pander to their postmodern audience, they like to use vague language and posit questions about its authority and inspiration.  To this, DeYoung says:

"I'm not sure what the emerging church believes about the Bible. And this concerns me. Burned-out evangelicals who go emergent and talk squishy about the Bible may still basically treat the Bible as if it were completely true and authoritative. This would be a fortuitous inconsistency. But what happens in the second generation? What happens when an erstwhile church planter with a few Neo books under his belt starts doing church with a radical skepticism about the authority of the Bible and forms a people by musing on about how his community affirms the Bible (in part?), therefore making it "welcome" in their conversation? We can wax eloquent about the beauty of the story and how the Scriptures read us, but unless people are convinced that the Bible is authoritative, true, inspired, and the very words of God, over time they will read it less frequently, know it less fully, and trust it less surely."

I concur.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Missional Senior Citizens

On our trip home from New Mexico today, I encountered a divine appointment. You see, we decided to keep pressing on past noon and wait until 2:00 to eat lunch...partially because of a late breakfast and partially because there were zero towns for about an hour and a half. Nonetheless, the small town of Brownfield, TX was the location where God's providence and our hunger met...and it was at Burger King of all places.

When we walked in, I noticed a group of about 25-30 chronologically advanced men and women sitting throughout the tables. It looked like a Jr. High dance, the men were huddled on one side at a couple of tables, and the women were huddled on the other side. Imagine my surprise when I saw a couple of long tables displaying some homemade desserts in the middle of the eating area. I knew then that something was up.

We ordered our food and sat down at a table away from the festivities, and as we were eating, one of the ladies came by and told us that once all the senior citizens had gotten a chance to get desserts, we could help ourselves to some as well. Amy asked her what they were doing, and she said, "Well, I'm a Christian and I just love people. I organize this monthly birthday party for senior citizens, and the owner of the Burger King lets us do it here." She said she paid for everything out of her own pocket, which I imagine was a stretch, seeing as she was probably on a fixed income.

As I sat and watched these senior citizens talk and laugh and pass out birthday cards to those who were having birthdays in July, a smile came across my face. Then, I noticed other people in the eating area who were not a part of the party going and getting some desserts as well, including a police officer and what appeared to be a homeless man. This lady's generosity spilled over to her generation as well as the community around her.

She might not think all of it was that big of a deal, but I saw a missional senior citizen shining the light of Christ into that Burger King. She used the context of a birthday party to open up doors of relationship in a fast food restaurant. The church was being taken into the marketplace. I would give anything to have individuals from the senior generation leading out in love in my church when we plant. In a day where most churches just plan trips to Branson for their 55+ Sunday School classes, this lady was mobilizing the aged for the Kingdom. As the psalmist says, "One generation will declare Your glory to the next."

Oh, by the way, the peach cobbler and banana pudding were incredible!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wii...we're off to New Mexico

A real quick post here to brag on my wife. Amy has been amazing the past couple of days. She has cleaned the house, washed clothes, packed and prepared for our trip to New Mexico. She baked me a double-decker chocolate birthday cake with fresh strawberries in the middle, and she put the Survivor TV show logo on top of the cake. She organized a birthday party for me with some friends tonight since we'll be gone next week on my birthday. She cooked dinner for the party, including some awesome chicken enchiladas. She managed to keep Will from telling me what my birthday present was (which is remarkable) and ended up giving me a Wii game system for my birthday!!! I was blown was a total surprise. Sorry, fellas, she's all mine, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Well, we're headed out early tomorrow morning to Ruidoso, NM to visit with family.
We're also planning on stopping by Carlsbad Caverns while we're there.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Exporting the Prosperity Gospel

Take a look at this video. The voiceover is John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. If you've never heard of him or read his stuff, he is a prophetic voice in Christianity today. He's authored many books, and I would highly recommend them. Here's 3 I would recommend for every Christian to read:

Don't Waste Your Life
When I Don't Desire God
Let the Nations Be Glad

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cowtown Collier Brand

This is our new family brand, courtesy of my good friend and co-worker Blake Hicks. We're getting family T-shirts made for me, Amy, and the boys. I guess when we move to Colorado, we'll return to being the "Colorado Colliers" and have to change the logo to mountains or something, but until then, this is what we'll use. By the way, the nickname for Fort Worth (where we live) is Cowtown because it was a major city along the western cattle drives. Thus the term "family brand" instead of "family crest."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Personal Applications of the Trinity, Part 3

In this final installment, we'll take a look at the Holy Spirit. Ware remarks about the Holy Spirit: "Amazingly, even though the Spirit has identically the same nature as the Father and the Son, even though he is fully and equally God, yet he willingly accepts this behind-the-scenes position in nearly everything that the Triune God does. In creation, redemption, and consummation, he willingly accepts the role of supporter, helper, sustainer, and equipper, and in all these respects he forsakes the spotlight.

Ware also offers this in regard to the Spirit's roll in the inspiration of Scripture: "It is because the Spirit moved the hearts and minds of the writers of Scripture so that when they wrote what they wanted to write--that is, they wrote the truths that were on their hearts, with the words, grammar, and syntax that they chose to use--the Spirit was working in them so that what they wrote was simultaneously their word and God's Word."

Ware also points out that no matter what, the Spirit always points the attention to the Son.

Personal Applications of the Trinity:

  1. Ware says, "There is something in all of us that wants to be seen and to receive the credit for what we've done. To accept the behind-the-scenes position where no one may know and notice the service we have rendered is difficult indeed. To work sacrificially, all for the purpose of pointing constantly to another, and for the honor he might receive, can be extremely hard to accept. But this is the way of the Spirit, and this is the power that is at work in us, to help us to serve to the honor of Christ, that he may receive all the glory." I can see that this type of sacrificial anonymity is extremely difficult in a work environment, especially in our success-driven society. Some may ask, "If no one notices our accomplishments, how can we move up the ladder of success?" Whose praise are we looking for?
  2. The Spirit's humility is a "beautiful example of willingness to accept the behind-the-scenes place for the sake of advancing the common mission, unified purpose, all for the glory of another.
  3. In the Spirit's role as "third-fiddle," notice that he joyfully and willingly embraces it. There is no resentment. As we assume this type of mentality, let us be wary of attitudes of resentment or getting a martyr complex.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Personal Applications of the Trinity, Part 2

Continuing the series on personal applications we can draw from the doctrine of the Trinity, today we turn our eyes to the Son, Jesus.

While eternally identical in nature with the Father and Spirit, the Son is also eternally submissive to the authority of the Father. He seeks to do the will of the Father and glorify the Father. He humbled himself, even to death on the cross, in order to demonstrate his love for the Father through costly obedience.

Understanding the coexistence of full divinity and full humanity within Jesus is difficult. For example, if Jesus is God, why did he say that only the Father knew the hour of the second coming? Ware explains it this way: "It seems that the answer must be that Jesus Christ, as a man, accepted the limitations of his human existence, including the limited knowledge that goes with living life as a finite human being. In his divine nature, he retained omniscience, but in the consciousness of Jesus, the God-man, he accepted a restricted knowledge so that he would have to trust his heavenly Father."

Said another way, Jesus humbled himself by "pocketing" some of his divine attributes in the incarnation. He did not get rid of them; he willingly suppressed his freedom and right to use them. It seems odd to me that people who have trouble with Jesus not displaying omniscience do not have a problem with him not displaying omnipresence while here on earth.

In his incarnation and earthly mission, the Son submitted himself to the Spirit to fulfill his role as the Spirit-anointed Messiah. Some might offer the rebuttal to the above paragraph that Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking and details about the life of the woman at the well. It was through the Holy Spirit, and Christ's dependence on him, that Jesus knew these things. Just as the Spirit revealed unknown things to others in the Bible, such as Nathan (2 Samuel 12) and Peter (Acts 5:1-11), the Spirit revealed these things to Jesus. While the incarnate Son submitted to the authority of the Spirit, the eternal Son holds authority over the Spirit.

So, how can we apply Jesus' example of costly obedience and humble submission. Ware offers these tidbits:
  1. In reference to Jesus' submission to the authority of the Father: "Rather than despising authority, or even rather than yielding to authority with a grumbling and begrudging spirit, we learn from Jesus what true submission looks like."
  2. In reference to Jesus' submission to the authority of the Spirit during the incarnation: "Marvel at the submission of the incarnate Son to the Spirit over whom he, in his eternal existence as God, had rights of authority."
  3. In reference to the amazing harmony of authority and submission within the Trinity: "Relations of authority and submission, lived out in unity and harmony--this is the model set for us by the Trinity, as expressed so beautifully in the life and ministry of Jesus." We should live out our relationships of authority/submission (i.e. husband/wife; employer/employee; father/child; pastor/congregation) in unity and harmony. The Trinity never displays resentment or selfish ambition in their roles and relationship with one another.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Personal Applications of the Trinity, Part 1

For my Systematic Theology class, I've been reading "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" by Bruce Ware. It's a book about the relationships, roles, and relevance of the Persons of the Trinity. Most people see understanding the Trinity as impossible, so they choose to avoid thinking about it. If God thought it important to present Himself in Scripture as one God in 3 persons, it stands to reason that it should be important for us to understand it the best we can. We'll never wrap our minds completely around the concept, but there are valuable applications for our own relationships when we begin to study the relationships between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One overarching premise to keep in mind: "Each Person is equal in essence as each possesses fully the identically same, eternal divine nature, yet each is also an eternal and distinct personal expression of the one undivided divine nature."

Over the next few posts, I'd like to point out some of the applications Ware talks about in his book. I realize it will be difficult to compress all of what Ware says in a couple of blog entries, but I'll do my best. I apologize in advance for any confusion.

Personal applications from the relationship of the Father to his Son and Holy Spirit:
  1. The Father has authority over the Son and the Spirit, and he exercises this authority by doing much of His work through the Son and the Spirit. To exercise authority with wisdom, goodness, care, and thoroughness, and not in self-serving ways, is to be like our heavenly Father.
  2. We learn from the Father what true fatherhood is really like. Like the Father, earthly fathers should cultivate an atmosphere of respect for their authority while also being lavish, generous, and even extravagant in their care, love, provision and protection for their children. Additionally, men and women who have been affected by abuse can learn afresh from our heavenly Father just what true fatherhood is.
  3. It's amazing how God chooses to delegate his work to the Son, the Spirit, and even humans to accomplish His purposes, and he rejoices over them when it's done. "The Father shares his work, and with the Son, he shares his glory (e.g. John 17:5). It is as if the Father says, 'Shine the spotlight on my Son, and praise and honor his name.'" In light of this, those who are in authority over others should seek to find ways to spotlight those under them. "May God grant us hearts, like our Father's, that seek ways to share the 'best' of the work so that others may have the joy of such a rich participation in things that truly matter."
  4. "While the Father shines the spotlight on the Son, surely also the Son longs with every breath and in every deed to give honor and glory to His Father. In like fashion, those of us who are "put in the spotlight by another in authority over (us), should, like Jesus, reflect back (our) honor on the one(s) who have granted (us) the privilege and the training for (our) particular ministry."

In summary, Ware offers this: "While those in authority need to be more like the Father, who lavishes favor on others by calling them to participate in his work, often putting the spotlight on them for their labors of love, those under authority need to be more like the Son, who gratefully and obediently embraces the work given him by his Father, and gives highest honor to the Father for all that is accomplished. What a revolution would take place in our homes and churches if such reciprocal honoring of one another took place, all the while maintaining clearly the lines of authority that exist, by God's good purpose and wise design."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer is here!

Okay...I know it's been a while since I last wrote, but I have been traveling (out of state twice), working (cranking out another magazine) and doing school (finishing the semester, doing a 2-week I-term, and taking a summer school class), so it's been pretty busy. Here' s a recap of what I've been up to:

Amy and the kids and I went to Colorado to see friends and family as well as make continued church planting connections. We're not going to be out of school for another year and a half or so, but we wanted to keep the relationships we've built going.

Being in Colorado was like being home again. The weather was beautiful and we had an incredible time with the people there. I was going to take the boys up into the mountains on Memorial Day, but the rain kept us from going. I gathered some info about the area we're looking at planting in. I met a couple of church planters in the area. I have to say that I feel completely inadequate to take on this task. God reminded me that Gideon felt the same way. There's a lot of areas I still need to let God work on in my life before we start, so pray for me as we prepare.

I went to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Indianapolis last week. People ask me how it was, and I guess you could say it was as good as a giant business meeting can be with some additional highlights mixed in. There were no knock-down-drag-out fights, and there seemed to be a constant theme of seeking reconciliation and revival. Now comes the time where we see if anyone was listening and will be obedient.

While there, I got to see a pre-screening of the upcoming movie "Fireproof," which is made by the same people who made "Facing the Giants." The acting was a thousand times better than "Facing the Giants" and the story line was incredible. It's about a fire-fighter (played by Kirk Cameron, but in a role like you've never seen him before) whose marriage is spiraling towards divorce. Along the way, he takes a challenge from his father to try to salvage the marriage and becomes a Christian in the process. There is a clear presentation of the Gospel, and I would highly recommend this to anyone. It comes out in September, but you can check out a trailer at

What's Next
As for the rest of the summer, we'll be going to New Mexico in July to visit Amy's mom's side of the family. Will, Blake, and I have birthdays in July, so we'll do birthday parties and everything. In August, I'll be going to Sturgis, South Dakota with the seminary to do some evangelism & ministry at the biker rally...I'm taking motorcycle classes before I go so I will have my license and be able to ride while I'm there. I know what you're thinking...Keith and Harleys don't mix well...who knows, I may come back with tatoos and lots of leather.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bold enough to wear this shirt?

This is what happens when it's the Friday before Memorial Day and almost 5:00 at work. This is me in my new cow shirt standing in front of one bad western dude, B.H. Carroll. Carroll once sprinted across an open field during the Civil War just to engage an enemy in hand-to-hand combat. I wonder if he would be bold enough to wear this shirt.

The shirt is courtesy of the "Helping Hands House" on campus, where students can get free hand-me-down clothes. I imagine this shirt was donated by the estate of a former rodeo clown. Amy helps work at the HHH, and the clothes are generally really nice...I have some really nice shirts from there. But, she just couldn't pass this one up.

Well, we're headed up to Colorado to spend Memorial Day weekend with some close friends and family. I'll put a new pic up upon our return so you don't have to look at this hideous attire.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Two more days and I'll be done with the spring semester! I will be preaching on Wednesday for my last class, and then I have a whole 5 days off until my Maymester begins next Monday!
God has been good to us (as usual). Here's some picks of Will's first fishing trip. Pictured are Will giving a big thumbs up and the proud daddy and his boy showing off their gigantic bass. It's actually much bigger in person...the camera takes off 10 lbs. on fish. We caught two whoppers on the day, so we were pretty pleased. A huge thanks to Uncle Bebo (Brent) and Aunt Patti for buying Will the fishing rod and for taking us to Patti's parents house to fish. They made this once-in-a-lifetime father/son experience happen.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Facebook + Flair = Community???

I've recently joined the wonderful world of Facebook due to the influence of some of my coworkers. I never was into the whole myspace thing, and wasn't sure Facebook would be any different. But, I actually really enjoy it (check out my flair!)

For those saying "Face what?" I'll give you a quick rundown. According to the site, "Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet."

A friend of mine, who is a church planter in Colorado, was also recently introduced to Facebook and posed the question: "Should the church use the internet as a community building resource?"

The internet has made life so much different in our culture. I think the church would be ignorant not to utilize this effective communication tool, but I do have a couple of cautions.

Our culture today is starving for genuine, authentic relationships. Community is what people want. Sites like Facebook offer a form of pseudo-community. Yeah, I can go visit a friend's page and hear about what movies they like, what their relationship status is, and what their highest score on Oregon Trail is (yes, you can play that too on Facebook). But, do I really know them?

I know a lot of trivial facts about them, but no matter how much I look at that page and post messages on their wall, there will be no authentic relationship. You can never replace physical presence in a relationship building scenario. God has designed us to live in community, and I believe this includes hanging out with each person. Notice that the Bible says, "Where two or more are gathered together..." Now, I'm not saying this verse is about Facebook, but it assumes face to face contact...not just email or snail mail or pony express or pigeon delivery. Paul wrote letters to churches, but he always mentioned his longing to see them face to face.

Some couples spend more time texting one another or viewing each other's Facebook to get to know one another than they do sitting on the couch and talking.

As we utilized growing technology to stay somewhat connected, let us not give up meeting together in person. Technologies that are supposed to make life easier have only made life busier and more disconnected. It might require radical measures...such as inviting a neighbor over for dinner at your house (much more conducive for relationship building than a restaurant) or detoxing from the cell phone/internet slavemaster and sitting on the couch with your wife.

Now, I'm going to stop blogging and go sit on the couch with my wife. :)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Doing an experiment...afraid?

I've been thinking a lot about evangelism lately. The problem is that it's all I've done. I haven't shared the incredible news about Jesus with anyone in a while. Sure, there are tons of excuses...I've been really busy...I live, work, and go to school in a Christian environment...I forgot to wear my lucky socks. In a recent interview I was doing, a man said to me, "Do you want to know why people don't tell others about Jesus? One reason, FEAR." It's not that we don't care about people, although that could be a possible factor. It's not because we want people to go to hell (hopefully). We are afraid. We're afraid we'll look like a looney. We're afraid they may blow us off. We're afraid they may ask a question we don't know the answer to. We're afraid we'll lead them astray. We're afraid they might get confrontational. We're afraid.

Maybe FEAR should be the one reason we should share Jesus with others. Another wise man said: "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil" (Eccl. 12:13-14). Seems to me that one of His commandments is to make disciples.

Take a moment to be honest and answer the poll in the right-hand column. I'm doing an experiment to see how many people actually share their faith. (Note: you can go in and change your vote, so if you share with someone, come back and change it).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Random yet providential

I got a random request the other day. My dad, who is a pastor in Southeast Texas, called me on Wednesday night and said a lady (Lucy) in his church requested prayer for a little baby who was in the hospital. The baby is the grandson of Lucy's friend. His name is Dillon, and his parents live in Ft. Worth. Lucy asked my dad if he could find someone in Ft. Worth to visit them in the hospital and pray with them. My dad called me and asked if I could find someone to go. He didn't have much information for me other than the names of the parents, grandparents and child.

At first, I was thrown off a bit. I didn't want to show up at the hospital as some weird, random guy. What if they told me to go away? Nonetheless, the Lord really pressed on my heart that I needed to go, so Amy and I got some neighbors to watch the boys and we went to the hospital after work on Thursday. My dad had called earlier in the day and told me that Dillon, who is only 8 week old, had meningitis and was in ICU.

When we arrived, we got the room number, and went to see the family. I introduced us and explained how we found out about them being in the hospital. They were very receptive to our visit and told us how everything was going. Dillon had started running fever on Monday (St. Patrick's Day) so they took him to the doctor. After running some tests, they found out he had bacterial meningitis caused from the E.coli bacteria. If you don't know, if not caught quickly and treated quickly, this can be fatal. Providentially, the parents, Derrick and Destin, had caught it early and the doctors were able to treat Dillon and rid his body of the E.coli. They had even moved him out of the ICU because he was doing better. Then, as he was sleeping in his mother's arms, he seized up and became stiff. They readmitted him into the ICU and checked to see if he had had a seizure, which fortunately he had not. When we arrived, he was still heavily sedated because they had done an MRI, and he had an IV running through the top of his head and a breathing tube in his mouth. As a father of two, seeing that precious little baby on that bed was humbling. They said that when he woke up, they would be removing the breathing tube, and it sounds like things are turning up for him. They were also going to check to see if there was any damage to the brain tissue by him seizing up. After visiting with the family for a while, we had prayer with them.

I'd like to ask you to say a prayer for Dillon, Derrick, and Destin. Please pray for continued healing and a strong recovery for Dillon. Pray for Derrick and Destin as they walk through all of this. When I talked with them, it doesn't seem like they have a church family to walk through this with them, so please pray that they will find one of those too. I really appreciate this, and I know they do too.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Inside the mind of my 3-year-old son

For a class Amy is taking on developing the spiritual lives of children, she had to interview a preschooler. She interviewed Will, and I'm amazed at his answers...some of which are more theologically correct than they first appear. As you read them, remember that he had no prompting and was just answering off the top of his head. These are also direct quotes. Here's the Q & A session:

Q: What is your favorite game?
A: Thomas the train

Q: Do you like to play outside? What do you like to do when you are outside?
A: Yes; paint, play ball, go on my bike

Q: Who is Jesus?
A: God; a preacher

Q: Who is God?
A: He gives me everything I need and houses

Q: What does God look like?
A: Jesus

Q: What do you like to do at church?
A: treasure chest; play; Celebration Zone; worship God

Q: Do you go to Sunday School? What do you do in Sunday School?
A: Yes; color, read stories which are one page

Q: Tell me about your Sunday School teacher.
A: I love them. They teach me how to do things that are right.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do with your dad?
A: Wrestle

Q: What is your favorite thing to do with your mom?
A: Jumping on the bed

Monday, March 03, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

I was allowed to be part of a private screening for an upcoming move called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It's a docu-drama featuring Ben Stein (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Win Ben Stein's Money, etc), and they showed it to a select crowd today at the seminary. One of our professors, Bill Dembski - an expert on ID, was interviewed for the movie.

In the movie, Stein interviews scientists from both sides of the Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design debate. His main premise is to find out why Intelligent Design (ID) proponents are discriminated against and why some of them have been fired or discredited for their adherence to ID. It's a powerful film, and I strongly encourage everyone to go see it opening weekend: April 18. The more people who go see it the opening weekend, the longer it will run in theaters for more people to see it. It's been likened to a "Trojan horse of truth dropped in the middle of popular culture."

What I really liked about the film is that it discussed the consequences to the idea of Darwinism: the loss of the sanctity of life. If evolution is true, then life has no purpose or meaning, and, therefore, the killing fields of Cambodia and the Holocaust cannot be considered evil. Abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, etc. are all simply part of the survival of the fittest.

To view the trailer, go to You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Let the Addiction Begin...again

It's that time of year again...Six Flags opened today! Amy, Will, Blake, and I arrived a few minutes after the gates opened and had a blast! I've been working a lot of extra hours lately, so this was a great day to spend with family...and the weather was awesome - 75 degrees and sunny!

Season passes are one of mankind's finest achievements. I know God is maturing me when we didn't ride one adult ride all day, and I loved every minute.

Will did the parachute drop (see picture) for the first time, which I wasn't sure he'd be up for. He liked it so much, he had to take mommy on it the second time! He also gave high-fives to some of the characters walking around the park, which is a huge step for him. When we left, he was even talking about taking pictures with them next time. I was really proud of him today...he overcame his fear of a big ride and scary individuals dressed up like cartoon characters. He only has an inch and a half more to grow and he can ride the Titan (70-mph steel rollercoaster with an intense drop)!

Lastly, we got a free photo. Now this may not sound like a big deal, but have you seen what they charge for one of these? We rode the log ride (a favorite of ours because all of us, including Blake, can ride it together). They take your picuture as you go down the big drop. (I hammed it up a bit for the camera b/c I know where it takes the picture) Afterwards, we were looking at the picture on the screen at the booth, and the lady running it said it was a great shot. She offered us a free photo if she could use it as a display at the booth. I signed a legal waiver, which I hope doesn't come back to haunt me, and we walked away with a perfect end to a wonderful day.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hermeneutical Hip-Hop

I wrote an article recently about a fellow student who mixes solid theology with hip-hop. You can read the article here:

You can also watch the companion video that my good friend Adam Covington made:

Surrendered Preaching

In my "Intro to Preaching Class," we read a book by my professor, Steven Smith. This guy can really preach, so I was excited to take his class. He's an expository preacher who thinks boring preaching is a sin (to which I fully agree). His book isn't published yet, but it should be. He talks about how the preacher must surrender to four things:
  1. God: "The preacher who is not disgusted with flesh, scared of God, with a healthy fear of His judgment, will allow the medium (persuasive speech) to be the primary message."
  2. The text: "Expository preaching is teaching people to read Scripture and motivating them to live it" (Paige Patterson).
  3. The audience: "The preacher learns to see in the dark, taking the light to those who cannot see."
  4. The task of great preaching: The preacher is responsible to clearly communicate the message of the text to his audience. He is not seeking to be validated or highly esteemed in his preaching. He is simply concerned with helping people understand and follow God.

I wrote this honest evaluation after reading the book:

Why do I enjoy preaching and teaching? Most of the time, it is because I derive some self-worth and value from appearing knowledgeable. I want people's approval. Lord, forgive me for seeking value in a place where I should be hidden. I surrender to You, Your Word, those you want me to teach, and the incredible task of communicating effectively.

All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give.

I will ever love and trust Him. In His presence daily live.

I surrender all. I surrender all.

All to Thee, my blessed Savior. I surrender ALL.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Standing Next to Hitler?

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:9-11, NASB)

Our church celebrated the opening of its new sanctuary this morning, and the worship was incredible. During the musical part of our worship, a song based on the verse above was sung. As I sang, I got a picture in my mind of being in that mass of people on judgment day.
I don't know if everyone will be mixed together or if they'll be separated into believers and non-believers, but according to this verse, regardless of their earthly decisions, they will fall facedown in front of Jesus on that day. Then I thought, "What if I were standing next to Hitler on that day?" I would be facedown, overjoyed in the presence of the Lord, but he would be facedown in indescribable anguish over forsaking the real King. Part of me hurt for him. Then my mind shifted from Hitler to others in this world who are lost and without hope on that day. Instead of joyfully bowing in honor of the King, the sheer magnitude of the realization of their depravity will double them over.
Makes me want to tell them about Jesus. How about you? It makes me ache for the thousands of people in Colorado who worship the creation but not the Creator. It may not be literal could just be hiking on Sundays because it makes them feel spiritual. Regardless, when the mountains melt like wax before Him upon His return, the object of their worship will be made known.
Let's not be selfish. One day, your neighbor will bow...will it be the first time? One day, that stranger you ignored will bow...will it be in joy or anguish? One day, those whom you've despised and rejected will bow...will they shed tears of gratefulness or tears of terror? Think you can't tell them about Jesus? Think they'll never come to faith in Him?
My Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, the author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
Shine your light and let the whole world see
Your singing for the glory of the risen King

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Promotion + Vietnam + Interactive Bible Reading

Three quick updates about life here with the Cowtown Colliers:
  1. I got a promotion last week. I'm now the Associate Director of News and Information. Basically, I will be responsible for managing the writers and building relationships with media personnel to get our stories out. I'll still write and edit, and I'm really excited about the opportunity. Please pray for wisdom, creativity, and time management as I take on this new task.
  2. My Vietnam trip will probably get rescheduled to May. God raised the money for me to go in the fastest time anyone's raised it before, but no one else was able to raise the money in time. I asked our leader if we wanted to wait until May so more people could go. It looks like that will be when we go, but I'll keep you posted. It actually works out better for me schedule wise.
  3. If you don't have a regular Bible reading plan, I'm in the rotation with three other writers for our church's online Interactive Bible Reading (click to check it out). You can post comments about what God's showing you and everything.

Future Photographer

So the grandmothers were in town this past weekend. Amy's mom let Will go wild with her digital camera. Here's some of the "abstract" photos he shot:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Shred and Re-organize

Last night, Amy and I spent several hours re-organizing our file cabinet. We shredded old bills and forms with personal information. We also cleaned out folders of unneccessary items.

In church this morning, we were singing a song which said, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come." I realized that sometimes I'm satisfied with living my life, and I'm not always anticipating the return of Jesus.

As I began to repent of this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the reorganizing and shredding from last night. He said He wanted to do the same in me internally. I began to confess sin and ask that he shred it and reorganize my life and priorities.

In His power, I'm wanting to grow stronger and more intentional in my walk with the Lord. As I anxiously await the final coming of the Kingdom at the end of days, I will live in the Kingdom that is now at hand (Mark 1:15)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Humility Begins with Gratefulness

Last night as I was laying down in bed and praying, the Holy Spirit started convicting me of arrogance and pride issues. It's not the first time I've been faced with this aspect of my own depravity, so I repented and started talking to God about why I keep falling into this sin trap.

I walk around with a lot of insecurities, as I imagine almost everyone does. The ways humans deal with their insecurities vary, and my way is to try to overcompensate through humor and sarcasm. I'll say something that sounds arrogant in a humorous way in an effort to try to display some type of self-confidence.

In church today, several of the songs we sang spoke of thankfulness, gratefulness, and surrender. It felt as though God were saying, "Humility begins with gratefulness." When I recognize that everything I have is a gift from my King, then I recognize that self-confidence is not all that important. God-confidence is most important. If I rely on myself and begin to think I'm responsible for my accomplishments, pride begins to swell. When I recognize I'm an unworthy servant who has been adopted into the King's family, I will boast in His richness and grace.

Psalm 34:2 "My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad."

Galatians 6:14 "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whichthe world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

Here's some lyrics from a song we sang today:
I will boast in the Lord my God
I will boast in the one who's worthy
He's worthy!
I will make my boast in Christ alone

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Many of you already know that I am planning on taking a 10-day trip to Vietnam with my church planting internship in March. I wasn't sure if I would be able to raise the funds to go, and I also had some problems with my passport. On both, God came through with flying colors!!!

The passport was more of a timing issue. Because I'm going to Vietnam with a religious group, the Visa process takes a little longer. I called the US Passport Agency because my passport wasn't going to arrive for up to 3 weeks, and they said they would put in a request to expedite my passport, but we all know how fast the government can be. Within a couple of days, my passport was in my mailbox!

As for funds, I had to raise $3,000 to go on the trip. I sent out letters to friends and family at the beginning of December and after 3 weeks, I have nearly all of the money! For those of you who gave money, I greatly appreciate it, and please know that your investment has Kingdom rewards.

In each of these areas, God proved both His faithfulness and His plan for me to go to Vietnam. Our church has been working in Vietnam for 12 years now, providing development projects such as water filtration systems, special education training for teachers, and, soon, computer labs for underprivileged schools. I have been part of the team working on the computer labs, which will provide poor children computer skills to help them get jobs.

Please continue to pray for us as we prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Pray also for Amy and the boys as they will be without me for 10 days (and I without them).