Monday, October 30, 2006

Cleaning Up

You won't notice it when you first walk into my office, but there is a shelf that I just finished cleaning up. It wa full of books, paper, junk mail, notepads, and stuff I don't even know why it was there.

This morning I chose to begin slowly cleaning up all the junk in my office...starting with that shelf. It jut makes me feel good to have that part of my office clean! I can't explain it. I might even keep it completely empty for a while so I can just enjoy it...we will see.

As I look around my office right now I know there are places that I do not need to touch. My nice bookshelf is spotless, my cabnet is cleaned up, my notebooks are organized, my study resources are neat, and my Bibles are in place.

There are also places in my office that I know I need to work on. Most people really don't even know until they get to looking. Hidden behind my desk is a mess that I can't put into words. If I don't want to deal with something at the moment, I put it on the floor with the other things I haven't dealt with. Also, haphazardly thrown into my drawers is something I just call "office stuff." Pens, staplers, sissors, highlighters, business cards, etc. I think I could even find cassette tapes (I don't even have a way to play these suckers! Aaahhhh!)

I will begin to clean these up too...but I will do so slowly over the next few weeks.

This got me to thinking. Imagine that!! I've got to begin cleaning up my life spiritually. I could start in areas that everyone can see, but I could also start cleaning up areas that no one sees. I am intentionally keeping this vague, but the stuff I keep putting behind my "desk" to deal with later need to be dealt with now.

Lord, help me start cleaning.

Where do you need to start cleaning?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Critical Update

I wonder why I am so critical of things. Most of the time, no one ever knows about it, but I definitely think about stuff all the time. Not only about myself, but also with others. I struggle with the right time to express my criticism and when to refrain.

A little while ago (last Spring), I really made a mistake without even knowing it. I was being critical with a student who needed some positive reinforcement. This student gave me a paper that we were going to use for our Mexico trip and wanted me to look over it. It was written in Spanish. I had looked over it and noticed several grammatical errors. It was just wrong. When she came back to my office a couple of days later. I just showed her some of the mistakes I saw. I also asked her about the progress with the other things she was working on.

In my mind, she was a solid student. Someone I didn't need to think about how to encourage all the I thought. Apparently, I really hurt her. She hid it really well, but she eventually let me know about it. I realized that I need to be in the business of contructive criticism. This is encouraging people, yet offering suggestions for improvement too.

What sparked this thought is our secretary. I asked her to make some copies for me, front and back. When I got them back, they were one-sided...and with paper clips. The paper clip thing didn't bother me, I just asked her to staple them for me. But the front and back thing did bother me.

I am not going to say anything to her about this because I just need to get over that. However, I do think I need to communicate that I need her to listen to me a little more carefully. Lord, give me wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Concentrated Ministry

Happy Birthday, Chris. It is now one year until I am the age at which Jesus began his ministry. Kindof crazy to think about. He hadn't even started yet. All the work. All the changed lives. All the preaching. All the life.

What stands out to me is that he actually spent that long in preparation for this concentrated ministry. He was very focused. He was very intentional. There was a time when he actually left! The only glimpse of what he did before he set out is as someone who was learning. He continued to learn more and more. He grew taller. People liked Jesus, and he pleased God (as our easy-to-read LST workbook says).

What am I going to do to prepare myself for the beginning of concentrated ministry next year?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Heart Issues

Yesterday while going to a funeral in Houston, my mom called to tell me that my grandfather had a mild heart attack. This while climbing steps to send me a birthday card in the mail! Wonderful! Being the day after the third anniversary of my grandmother's passing, I have not been able to articulate some of my thoughts. Here it goes.

Moments like these remind me of the frailty of life. We think we will live forever, but that is vaporized in a moment. Close calls in the car...praise God that we are still breathing! Family members collapse and recover...praise God that he gave them (and us) more time to point others to Him! Life can vanish in a few minutes, a few seconds. What else can we do once we realize this if it is not praise God for life we have RIGHT NOW?

I can't truly live how God wants me to if I let my frailty and fear consume me. If I refuse to ride in cars because I might have a fatal accident, I have not yet let God be praised for the life he has given me! My peace is not in preventing death. My peace is in experiencing life fully while praising God and pointing people to him.

I pray that God comforts my family as we remember that our life on earth will end. Our hearts hurt, but we are growing to understand our need for God more and more. Keep the eyes of our hearts open to how you transform us through our life experiences.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sunday Morning Prayers

I did not do a good job at preparing myself for worship yesterday morning. I went to bed upset at Tanya. I woke up thinking about getting Kayla ready for church. I watched the weather channel and a little sports center. Not good. Then, of all things in the world, I caught a little bit of MTV's Laguna Beach. WHAT!!?? Why was I watching that!?

Needless to say, I was not ready to encounter the living God in worship. When I went to class, only one student showed up. We talked a little bit, and then I decided that we better pray. I was mainly wanting to pray about students who weren't showing up. That they would get a little dedication in their lives. That they would wake up for class. That they would take God seriously.

As I prayed (even as Tanya and Spencer prayed), God showed me that I was just like them. I needed a little dedication, a little waking up, a little taking God seriously. God's presence through that prayer encouraged me a little bit, but helped focus my time for corporate worship.

Prayer bombs are on their way. In order for God to work through our students, he must first work through me. May your Spirit empower me to pray for our students. Give me the burden to sacrifice myself before your altar, God. Keep me in your path. Amen.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Parent's Visit

This weekend my parents are coming to Huntsville. I think it is great that they get a chance every once in a while to come down. It is refreshing to have family come visit. Kayla has been saying Che-Chann for the last few days. Tanya asks her who is coming and Kayla gets this big smile on her face and says, "Che-Chann." I can't wait to play some 42 and cards, sit around and talk, and watch Kayla play around the house. Praise the Lord for family!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Technological Suffocation

My laptop broke down about two weeks ago. Well, I could still work on it. I just had to hold the back left part of it up about two inches. Very annoying. I ended up sending it to HP to have them replace the system board. I finally got it back two days ago.

During the about 10 days that it was gone, I went through what I call a computer fast. (In reality it wasn't a true computer fast. I still used another computer, but it wasn't my laptop with all my files on it.) All my lessons were prepared on paper! Can you believe that!? I can't.

Oddly enough, the lessons that I prepared dealt with simplicity, Jacob's faith, my own faith, and solitude. It is strange that this happened to be the week I thought about simplicity! It is strange that God chose this time to remind me of how he worked so powerfully in my life in the past! It is strange that solitude of heart and soul is something I seek more and more throughout my day.

Yesterday was the first day back in my office with the computer. If you want to talk about how busy I felt, here you go. I was drained after the first two hours of my day! I had several studies going on, but I could hardly concentrate because I was tired. Tired from being up late on my computer the night before. I had all kinds of emails to respond to, people to put on our church email list, and files to update on my computer.

About midday I realized that my computer seemed to tbe the culprit. I felt busy because of all this technology. There might be something there in preparing lessons without the computer. There might be something there in restricting the time I use the computer. There might be something there to really seek God rather than busying myself with computer stuff.

Right now I have my Yahoo mail up, my Facebook account opened, and notepad stuff for my blog. Before writing this, I had Dreamweaver open. I will throughout the day probably have 5-7 different computer applications open because I need to go from one thing to the next and back.

Some food for thought from a computer guy: let's intentionally detach ourselves from the busy-ness of trying to do so many things at once. What would happen if we put aside our computer for even 4 hours of our day? Perhaps I can intentionally do this in an effort to help God speak to me. Am I listening?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Jesus' Sleep

I wonder about how tired Jesus was day in and day out. Did he cat nap?

I know how I get when I don't get enough sleep. The day seems to drag on and on. Monday was one of those days for me. I was up late (admittedly watching a movie), Chica (my dog) had a bad ear infection that needed attending to at 3am, Kayla woke up the first time at 5am, and then the day began at 6:15am with a grumpy girl. The day was not the most alert day I have ever had. This being the case, I magaed to get through the day all the way without being a jerk to Tanya that night.

It seems to be a normal practice for Jesus to withdraw to solitary places. I am struck by Mark 1:35ff. It was very early in the morning when he went to pray. Perhaps Mark just mentions this as a typical thing Jesus did every day. But, if he didn't get to do this every day, was Jesus fighting to stay awake through the day? We will never know, but I bet he didn't.

This doesn't make me feel good.

I have experienced seasons (and days) in my life where energy just came over me that I cannot explain. It seems to be times that I was constantly consumed with God stuff. I didn't have time to worry about how I was feeling. Mission projects, service projects, retreat weekends, counseling sessions, lessons to prepare, Bible studies, etc. All of these put me in a situation that God's energy needed to come. It did, and I was sustained.

When I am dragging through the day, perhaps I am not consumed with God's business. I probably need to put myself in a situation in which God's energy is needed. Ask for it, and see what happens.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Taking Jesus Seriously

Are you serious!!??

This is the response that I get from many students when I ask them to leave with me at 4am to go get supplies for Loaves and Fishes, a Angel Food Ministries program that relies heavily on volunteers. It is great food at a cheap price. Tons of people take advantage of this and our church is a host site for it. People who would never come to a church come through to get their order of food. When students ask me this question I simply reply...yes.

I am sure I would have asked this of Jesus if I walked with him here on earth, especially looking at the radical nature of his message. "Hey, my family is really those who do God's will." Are you serious? "Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect." Are you serious? "The child isn't dead; she is only sleeping." What? "Listen, your sins are forgiven." "You feed them." "Anyone who wants to be my disciple must take up this business of dying." "All of you will desert me." "I am, and you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God's right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven." "You will be my witnesses throughout the world." Are you serious, Jesus?

His response?


Are you taking him seriously today?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Not enough time

I want to ask God for more time this week! There is just not enough of it.

Today was filled with conversation with students. All of them were good! They were conversations that needed to happen. A lot of ministry happened. I would like to think that God used these conversations for his glory. He probably did!

But, looking back on the day, I find myself wishing I could have gotten more things done! I did read the Bible. I continued preparing for class on Wednesday (on Jacob). I made some headway on our LST information meeting coming up on Wednesday. I thought about Thursday devo. I thought about what the Lord might want to say through me to a big group of teenagers on Sunday. I gave our intern some assignments, our secretary some paperwork, and our dog a trip to the vet. But, I feel like I didn't get anything done.

It is one of those things that I experience more than I like to admit. I am working on things that have an end, but most of the time they don't actually get completely finished until the day of or the day before. I don't like that!

It is easy for me to ask for more time. I hate to say this, but I won't get any more time. It is not going to happen. I will just keep using the time the Lord has given me. I continue to pray that He use it for His glory. May you be glorified as I offer myself to you and others. Please give me words to say at the appropriate time.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


This last weekend I went to Fort Worth, TX to a Let's Start Talking trainers and recruiters seminar. I got to room with my best friend David. The weekend was really good for LST stuff! I got to spend time thinking about how to tell people about being missionaries next summer. It really is a life changing experience.

The really encouraging thing about the weekend though was spending time just talking with David. Friday night and Saturday night we stayed up til about 1:30am talking about all kinds of things. Ministry, God, Jesus, church, discipleship. What was cool and encouraging was that we have been experiencing similiar growth in being Jesus' disciples. Each of us have been seeing our walk with Jesus in new, challenging ways. Both of us are being confronted with the kind of life to which Jesus calls his disciples.

Being ministers of the gospel we both also have challenges with how to bring others to similar places. All I can say is that God has encouraged us both! Praise Him for friendships like this. He really knows what he is doing.

Ask that the Lord put someone in your path that he can use to make you both better disciples.