Monday, September 29, 2008


Have you grown since yesterday?

This is an interesting question. Like a blade of grass turning to its lawn buddy blade and asking, "Do I look taller or more lush to you today?" Or the time I overheard the little oak tree ask the sparrow how mighty it had become since their last encounter one day earlier. It is an interesting and maybe irrelevant question.

There are times that we need to stop and gaze down from the heights of our forrest and remember our mighty smallness. It is good to remember the simpleness of what once was, how far one has come.

But, to merely think back will get us nowhere if we do not continue attending to the cultivation that made this growth possible. We will soon die if we lose ourselves in the bliss of recollection. In fact, I suggest that remembering should compel us toward action. It should goad us into the possibility of the future. It should catapult our hands over the walls that lead to inaction and passivity.

How great a task it is to remember! Growth happens. Where has it happened in your life? Be careful as you remember.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Traveling to Dallas

Normally a three-hour trip to north Dallas took four hours last night. Honestly, I thought it would have taken longer especially when it took almost an hour to get to the next city north of Huntsville, Madisonville! I just rolled the windows down and let the wind blow through my long, flowing hair (I wish). In spite of the traffic, I was amazingly peaceful. Mainly because my expectations were so low!

What is funny is how we developed a little community for most of my trip home. People stayed in the same lanes. There was no weaving in and out of traffic to get ahead. I stayed behind one car most of the trip. The person behind was there too. Those in the right lane would go ahead for a while, then we would return the favor. On and on it went. I grew to appreciate the consideration for all of us fleeing from a natural disaster. It helped me think about the "community" more. Peace.

Then I saw two ambulances in my rear-view mirror making their way through traffic. I was in the left lane. People were just pulling over to the left so it could get through; I followed suit. The people on the right pulled to the right so the ambulance was basically given one big lane in the middle of the highway. No big deal, right?

Well, I saw the pride before the ambulances passed. There were two cars riding the tail of the second ambulance just cruising along as if the highway was their's to own. The first car was a huge Hummer (a nice sign of pride). The second was a sedan of some kind. There was no room for anyone to cut these cars off they were so close. Someone would have if they could've!

That is just wrong! To think that the highway is yours for the taking betrays an intense pride that God surely opposes. Just looking out for yourself and how to promote your own well-being betrays any sense of community. And we were a community out there! It hurt to see them doing it. It bothered me. It took a while for me to get over it.

But it confirms for me how destructive pride is to any community! We might not understand the full effects of pride because we have not completely experienced a fully selfless community. However, we do recognize the breakdown of community when intense pride enters the picture. Because of this, I am encouraged to seek humility. God's grace will soon follow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Whatever Happens

Here is a little quote from Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ (1.20.6):

"In silence and stillness the devout soul advances and learns the hidden truths of Scripture. There it finds the salutary tears that wash away the guilt of sin, so that it grows more intimate with God as it severs itself from the clamor of the world."

It has been good to begin going back through this wonderful book again. (We are taking various passages from the Imitation as discussion points for Thursday night devos this semester.) I find that every time I open its pages I meet challenge. Though there are certainly weaknesses to the book, I find the ever-present charge to be attentive to my soul. He also reminds me of humility, something any minister needs.

As the hurricane gets even closer and evacuations already beginning, silence and stillness is a good reminder. It is important to remember the one in whom we trust. "Whatever happens," Paul writes, "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." The hidden truth of scripture lets us make preparations for the hurricane, but also lets our hearts remain unmoved and still.

My heart continues to go toward those having to vacate their homes. May your peace surround them as the fog surrounded my car this morning. Let your presence be close, Lord. Keep us safe in your hands.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Conversation with God

"I miss your coming to me. You like to fill your time with anything but me. When left alone at home you'd rather see what you might be missing on TV than do the things I've been whispering in your heart. I love your enthusiasm. I gave it to you. What is taking you so long? Take comfort in me. Take my strength. Take my diligence. Take my endurance. I need you to start. Let's do this together."


Today I pray for those who will be impacted by hurricane Ike. It could still run right through us. My prayer is also that the hurricane doesn't strengthen like they anticipate. The damage will be less for sure.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hand Washing

Don't tell anyone, but when I normally wash my hands I don't spend a ton of time making sure every part of my hand is absolutely clean. I don't wash each finger individually or wash the top of my hand thoroughly (its not like I'm going to use the top of my hand the rest of the day).

Yesterday afternoon I just decided that I wanted to be thorough in washing my hands. [That is definitely the dork coming out. Sometimes I do totally random things. I'm glad no one sees these things most of the time, but now my cover is blown...oh well] Even as I was doing it I felt silly. Even so, I made sure to spend sufficient time on each finger. I even moved my ring around to get under it. Yeah...I know...silly.

Then...all of a sudden...I found a spot of something at the bottom of my palm. What!? I didn't know that was there. If you would have asked me before I washed my hands, I would have told you it was not there; I would have told you my hands were clean. I even debated at first whether I should wash my hands at all! "They are already clean!" I would have said. I'm glad I decided to be thorough in washing my hands! Who knows what kind of embarrassed I escaped from my thorough hand washing! This little spot was now gone. Relief. I rinsed off my clean hands and went on my business.

What are you talking about Chris? I'm glad you asked. Think about this: How often are we thoroughly attentive to the little spots of "dirt" in our lives? Many times, we don't spend time even considering what is dirty. We might even say, "little white lies never hurt anyone." What about that little bad attitude that is only seen by God? I bet you didn't see that little speck of jealousy.

Today I will be attentive to the sins that hurt my relationship with God. I call out for God's cleansing hands to be thorough in washing me. The imagery of Psalm 51 is fitting. Hear our prayer:

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love ... Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge .... Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice."

Monday, September 08, 2008

God is Active

Last night I preached at New Waverly. Since I only preach there two times a month, I decided to slowly go through Philippians. So I get up there, begin my lesson, and notice that not a few people are laughing. Almost everyone has a big smile on their face. I knew they weren't laughing at me but at something that I didn't know; it didn't bother me.

So I finish my sermon (which I thought went pretty well), and we sing the invitation song. After this song, the song leader stops and informs me as to why people were laughing: I had just preached a sermon using the exact same text as the preacher in the morning.

They knew I didn't have a clue what was going to be preached on Sunday morning, so God must have been at work! I couldn't believe it! They assured me that the sermons were amazingly pretty different. God's hand is very interesting. I still can't get over something like that happening without any communication ahead of time.

Here is the kicker: there was someone who listened to both sermons that needed those messages. Struggling through many things, this person heard loud and clear that something needed to happen; no longer is sitting idly an option.

I praise God that stuff like this continues to happen! He is active. He does prompt us to do things of which we don't know the implications. As faithful servants we respond to these promptings and get to watch God work.

What are you going to do today, God? May we have the courage to lose ourselves in your movements.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Silence is difficult! I learned that silence is different than being quiet and different than not speaking. I can not speak all day long without ever being silent.

Silence involves not filling my time with so many different voices, with noise. Silence means being alone with God. Silence doesn't exist in a computer or in TV or in the radio. I recognized this about noon yesterday when I realized that I hadn't really been silent all morning; I had merely spent the morning on the computer without speaking, something I do fairly regularly.

Lunch is where I began to sit in silence, a hard task when I am accustomed to at least some TV speaking to me as I eat. After lunch Chica and I went outside to enjoy the afternoon. This was good silent time, but it ended after about an hour and a half. Coming back in I felt compelled to watch TV just for a little bit. Famous last words, right? I wrongly reasoned, "Well, I guess I am not speaking during this time, so I'm still being silent." I saw right through my hypocrisy, and I just gave in. It was too much of a weight to bear for such a long time.

I am dissappointed in myself, but I will try again. May God give me the strength to persevere.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Can I go a whole day not saying an audible word all day long? I am going to try tomorrow. Looking at my schedule, I think it will be possible especially since Tanya and the kids are in Dallas right now. Well, I guess I will speak when Tanya calls me tomorrow. That will be my only exception.

Well, let's say that I will speak only when necessity requires it tomorrow. Sometimes hard, fast rules don't accomplish what they intend. If, for example, as I was sitting outside my house tomorrow two cars crashed head-on, then breaking the rule to call 9-1-1 would be the wise and appropriate thing to do. So, a set rule to not talk tomorrow isn't appropriate upon further reflection. I'm curious to see what this exercise will produce.

May your Spirit, God, speak powerfully as I silence my own tongue. Let my ears be attentive. Father, if you desire, send someone who needs a listening ear tomorrow. I will not speak unless necessity requires it. Teach me your ways, Lord.


Having quit coffee, I am now thinking about at least limiting my intake of cokes, usually of the Dr. Pepper variety. Yesterday kindof confirmed that for me. In the late afternoon, I began to have a little bit of a headache. I realized that I had only had water all day. It made matters a little worse when I couldn't find any Advil or something for my headache. I went to sleep with my head pounding.

Here are my thoughts. Anything that produces in me some sort of reliance on that thing surely detracts me from totally relying on God. It makes me dependent on that thing rather than on God. Some of the obvious addiction tendencies are things like alcohol, drugs, sex, smoking, and caffeine. Some of the less obvious addiction tendencies are things like ways of doing things, cleaning up, making a mess, talking down to others, hatred, slander, food, and laughter. There are so many kinds of addictions, but anything becomes an addiction when it takes away from completely relying on God.

We all have addictions that control us, but I wonder if God calls us to begin laying these down at the cross one by one until we've learned to be completely reliant on Him. What addictions does God want out of your life?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

God's Sign

Yesterday, I saw God use the prayer sign in a new light. A middle-aged woman came to me and, before I even looked up at her, she said, "Thank you!" When I looked up, it was obvious that she was broken up about something; she looked like Niagra falls was about to gush out on campus!

She said it again, "Thank you." I said hey and asked what is going on. She said she is having an absolutely horrible day. She was walking on campus, thinking about her day, and asking God if she could just have a small hug from Him. "At that moment," she said, "I look up and see that sign!"

Standing up, I told her that it looks like I need to give her a much-needed hug. She didn't stay much longer, but I asked God to let his presence continue to surround her. I pray that she had a good rest of the day.

This gets me to thinking...had that sign not been there, how would have this lady's day been? We may never know, but I put this sign out so people will come closer to God. So many are looking to reach out to Him; they just don't know how to do it. I saw God use this sign powerfully today.

Now I ask this: what sign are you putting out that God can use to bring people closer to him? The small encounters with others are God's opportunity to speak. How is God speaking through you?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pray with Expectation

My day is filled with expectation. I can't wait to see how you show up today, God. Surprise me with a whisper. Overwhelm me with your presence. When temptation comes give me your strength to patiently wait until it passes. As people come and go, today, let me be an extension of your presence in their lives. Some need a smile; some need a touch; some need forgiveness; some need an ear; all need you. My day is filled with expectation.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Singing Praises

Yesterday I found myself singing praises to God in my house. It started out kindof soft, but gradually grew to be pretty loud. The thought occurred to me that my neighbors might be able to hear me, especially since we have tile flooring. This curbed my enthusiasm for a bit, but I soon returned to my previous vigor unable to control myself. I was lost in the moment of praise.

Consider one verse (Psalm 147:1): "Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!"

It is good. Let me encourage you to sing praises to God today. It might be one song; it might be twenty. Whatever it is, I pray that you experience the good and pleasant feeling of singing praises to our God.