Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Postcards Dec 2012 - Jan 2013

Here is the online version of the December 2012 - January 2013 issue of Postcards Magazine: Montgomery County Edition. I had fun with everything, but two things rise to the top as far as design fun for me: the cover page and the feature article on page 28-29. Enjoy the read.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Another Edition

I praise the Lord for another successful issue of Postcards Magazine: Montgomery County Edition. While there were certainly many late nights a few weeks ago on top of all the other responsibilities I carry with a full-time job, I continue to cherish the opportunity to work with the ACMI, Inc. team!

I hope you enjoy this issue as much as I do!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Busy Like a 7-Page Page

We wear busyness as a badge of honor! "Oh! I'm so busy" is usually said as a way to tout our unseen significance trophy we carry around with us everywhere. It is as if the more busier we are, the more important we are!

I disagree.

In fact, if we are so busy that we have no time to rest at all, this is a sign that we are living a less than human life. Think about it. God worked. God rested. And God created us in His image. So...we too are able to reflect God's character when we work and when we rest. To exclude one or the other would be living a life less than God's plan for humanity, to live less than human.

With that in mind, I created a video meant to highlight the absurdity of our busyness. I run around trying to fit so much stuff into the same amount of time, as if I can actually do everything! I do this too much and I am ready to stop it!

This insanity is like trying to fit a 7-page Pre-Course writing assignment I wrote for one of my Doctorate of Ministry classes onto one page! Thus, we are busy like a 7-page page. I hope you enjoy my silliness.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Welcome to Different

This morning another poem came to me as I was deep in thought and preparation for the upcoming academic year. My mind went to trying to describe the Kats for Christ ministry to a new student for the first time. We certainly approach the beginning of the year differently than many other ministries on campus...at least it seems that way.

To briefly explain, we refuse to act like a ministry we will never be. In my mind, that would be a form bait and switch where a new student comes in getting the impression that we do this all the time and at some point realizing our (even innocent) ruse!

Therefore, we intentionally try to reflect in the first week, the kind of ministry we are. We do have fun! We do talk about Jesus in normal conversation! We do serve! We do dig in God's word! We do serve again! We do hang out! And we do give academic advice as spiritual advice! It is...different! Here is a glimpse of my thoughts captured in this poem:


Welcome to Different
It's Same at first
Upon the surface
Explosion, burst!

Then a peculiar
Happening occurs
The depth of love
Erupts in blurs

It confuses
It taunts
It reaches
It flaunts

It rises upon
Our hearts until
Suddenly Different
There revealed

It teaches
Matures
It grow
Endures

Then service erupts
The other is clear
A towel to wash
Salvation is near

Welcome to Different
You can never go back
Embrace the call
And life never lack!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Postcards Magazine Design

Here is the first issue of Postcards Magazine: Montgomery County Edition! As the designer for this edition, I had fun working with the publisher, Karen Altom, and going through the process for the first time! Her patience with me was amazingly admirable and impressive!

Here is what I said on my Behance Profile to describing the kind of magazine it is:
"As the world becomes increasingly global, Postcards Magazine: Montgomery County Edition, published by Karen Altom, desires to highlight the unique aspects of a local community. Compiling local stories, local pictures, favorite sayings from local people in the community, and more, they create a free magazine where readers felt like they were sitting down to catch up with an old friend."
Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Be Yourself

This morning, I'm going through the StrengthsFinder results that 12 Kats for Christ students took and am enjoying soaking in the way that God made these students. It is helpful to know these things and am looking forward to learning more!

As I see them getting excited about their pouring more energy into enhancing their strengths, I remembered something important about the value of spending time learning who you are! Here is the profoundly simple thought:

When you know who you are, you can be yourself.

This seemingly obvious and simple idea is deeper than it first seems. I'm amazed at how easy it is for me to slip into a mode of trying to "be" someone else. Here's an example. While I'm standing among a group of people it becomes obvious that this group (generally-speaking) is opposed to and even says some harsh things about another group who holds certain beliefs. As someone who holds that supposedly "negative" belief, I am tempted to "act like" I believe something different. Even if asked a direct question in that situation, I still try to "act as if" I hold different beliefs and go into vague generalizations of some kind rather than answer their question directly.

Well, as I've grown in understanding who I am and even what I believe, I've learned that I can actually be myself. I can actually answer a question someone asks me without worrying how the other person or group of people will respond! It is so freeing! It energizes me to be who I am.

What about you? Do you struggle to be who you are? How have you been tempted to be someone else?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Strengths are Important!

"Effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and build on each person's strengths." Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, Strengths-Based Leadership

We are going through a process in the Kats for Christ ministry where we are intentionally trying to enhance the principle in this quote. I want to help us all learn our strengths so that we can live fully alive and experience God's fullness in that!

Isaiah sees a world that I desire for our ministry. It is a world where students come because they know God will reveal himself directly and they will learn more about themselves. Isaiah says all kinds of people will river toward God's place and will say, "Hey, let's climb God's mountain....He'll show us the way he works so we can live the way we're made."

This image compels me forward as we are in the process of developing a Kats for Christ Student Leadership Team. The exciting part of this process is giving nominated student leaders an opportunity to take Tom Rath's StrengthsFinder 2.0.

While we've been talking about working in our strengths for a long time, we are now taking a big step in integrating that idea into our organization. I love how the assessment gives you your top five strengths, explains the tendencies for each of those strengths, and even factors in the other four strength areas in giving you that feedback! Amazing!

On top of that, the report includes practical ideas for action so you can utilize and enhance your strength areas! It is also insightful in offering perspective on how others may be perceiving your strengths.

As each student goes through this process to develop our KFC Leadership Team, I plan on communicating a little more about my own discoveries! This, actually, is one of the suggested "Ideas for Action" under my Input theme.

What do you imagine happening when we focus on our excelling in our strengths?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Outstanding Religious Organization

Last night the Kats for Christ won "Outstanding Religious Organization" at SHSU's 18th Annual Sammys, an awards ceremony that recognizes SHSU's outstanding student leaders and organizations.

In order to be nominated for a Sammy Award required us to receive nominations from members of the University community at large. Those nominated answered questions that were sent before a committee who determined the winners in each category.

We praise God for this award and certainly lay it before the Cross of Jesus!


Here is what was read as our representatives made their way to the front to receive this award:

"The Kats for Christ organization focuses on training and maturing disciples of Jesus. As a student-led ministry they accomplish their purpose by creating many opportunities for SHSU students to learn God’s word, experience faith community, live out Jesus’ life on earth right now, follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, and train other disciples.

"They work hard to provide a safe place for students to learn and grow in more than just academic studies while in college. Experiencing the fullness of life as they serve others, the students with Kats for Christ continue to make a big impact on campus, in Huntsville, and around the world right now.

"Whether it is transforming their building into a full-fledged, pizza restaurant called 'CafĂ© Italiano' (complete with Chicago-style pizza ovens, greeters, waiters and waitresses, head chef, crazy-fun DJs, and over 10 different kinds of homemade-from-scratch pizza), or whether it is responding to calls from widows who need young, strong backs to help move them across town, or whether it is sacrificing a summer to help people in Malaysia, Germany, Brazil, and Thailand improve their English, the Kats for Christ organization exemplifies the depth and maturity of Jesus Christ that lies behind Sam Houston State University’s motto: 'The measure of a life is its service.'"
It is so cool to be a part of the Kats for Christ!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Studying and Salvation

I was a pirate last night! At least that is what I told everyone when they asked me why I had an eye patch on my eye. It was fun to mess with people and say, "Arrrr" alot! I love the opportunities to confirm for others what they already know: I'm a dork! And this is a random opening paragraph to lead into a deeper topic.

Even with a one-eyed facilitator last night, our discussion went well. We continued our "You Asked For It" class discussing salvation. It was cool to see how quickly everyone went to emphasize the on-going nature of salvation. One of the first texts from the Bible referenced was Philippians 2:12-13:
"Therefore my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
The difficult part in our conversation was understanding how "working out our salvation" translates practically into everyday living. At one point I asked, "Does it count as an example of working out our salvation when I am studying for an exam and being a good student?" There was a lot of silence as the great minds in the room were thinking. In fact, I almost smelt smoke!

How could studying for an exam count as continuing to work out your salvation? Here are some of my thoughts.

First, as I've mentioned before, I am one who consistently refuses to accept (and even recognize) the ginormous chasm most of us have between our spiritual life and any other aspect of our life (even academic life). No! We have one life! That's it! And each aspect of our life is connected to all the others! It is impossible to have one aspect of my life (say, academic studies) isolated and uninfluenced by another aspect of my life (say, how I treat my parents)! That is why our studies gets a boost of newfound energy when we come home from Spring Break having had a little time to rest. (btw...the opposite is equally true if our Spring Break experienced some sort of parental bomb shell!)

So! Studying counts as working out your salvation.

Attending to academic studies is a venue through which students can consider themselves as working out their salvation. Attending to your studies is a living-fully-alive-as-God-created-us exercise. It is a loving-the-Lord-your-God-with-all-your-mind thing. You are growing up into the fullness of Christ when you are growing in knowledge. It is all related.

I love how practical this is for students! Want to work on growing up in your salvation in Christ? Study! Review! Take good notes! Listen to your professor! Ask them questions! Sleep at night! Eat well! Grow!

This sounds like the Jesus I read about in Luke 2:46, 52. His parents "found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. .... And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Closed Window to My Soul

Today I'm wearing sunglasses inside all day long! My right eye is having serious impetigo problems again. And rather than having someone pass out after looking at my really red, puffy right eye that I want to scratch out of socket, I decided to just wear these glasses.

It is weird for me, though! Especially when I'm talking with someone else. Normally, even if it is really sunny outside, I take off my glasses anytime I talk to someone. It is an attempt to be personal, to let someone "in" so-to-speak. "If they see my eyes," I think, "they will know that I'm putting myself out there to be vulnerable." If our eyes are the window to our soul, I want people to know who I am. So, I almost always take off my glasses when I'm talking to someone.

That said, today is difficult for me as I keep my glasses on all day! I've had several conversations. Even though they centered on why I had my glasses on inside, I could feel the emotional distance. I was looking right at people and could tell they were wondering where I was looking. They rarely looked directly at me and kept shifting their eyes around as we talked. I tried to give them an "out" by looking around at other things myself. It is hard!

And tonight will be even more difficult because I'm teaching our Wednesday night college Bible class. I've debated about what to do. Glasses? No glasses? An eye patch? Maybe a pirate's patch! That would an an interesting spark to our discussion.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Going Bananas and Getting a Blessing

Last Sunday I was humbled by seven bananas!

After church last Sunday, Kayla and I ran by the grocery store to pick up some bananas. Tyler, my son, was sick at home with Tanya, and we needed to keep his diet very bland. We needed bananas. No big deal...or so I thought.

So, we went to the produce section, picked out about seven good looking bananas, and headed to check out. As I was visually trying to determine the best checkout line to enter I reach in my back pocket for my wallet and stop! Great! No wallet!

If there was a day that I would forget my wallet, it would be on a Sunday! I usually get dressed right before leaving for church and many times forget my wallet on my bathroom sink. Most of the time I forget my wallet, however, I would realize it before even getting to the store.

What was I supposed to do now?

I look around to see if there is anyone I know that I could ask to borrow some money. No one! And that was weird, because I always see someone I know at this store...and especially right after church on Sunday! Ahh! Now what?

As I walk back toward produce I think to myself with Kayla a little confused, "Do I put the bananas back, go home, drop off Kayla, and come back?" I'd hate to do that!

I stop for a second to consider other options. An open checkout line comes available. The checker comes to the end of the isle, looks at me (bananas in hand), does the little eyebrow thing that asks without words, "Are you ready to checkout, sir?" I decline his offer shaking my head and think to myself, "No...I'm the idiot who left his wallet at home and is standing here like a moron with some bananas in one hand and a daughter holding the other asking me what we are doing!"

I tell Kayla that I forgot my wallet and I'm trying to figure out what we can do.

At that point, I considered asking a complete stranger! It was a crazy thought as I lingered on it for a second scanning the isles looking for prospects. Fragile, white-haired, church-suit guy with tons of stuff in his basket? No. Too long of a wait. And when would I ask him? After he started checking? Pass.

Larger, middle-aged, barely-making-it lady buying a lot of food in regular clothes? Pass.

Last option: Younger, 30ish-mother, buying cupcakes in the speedy checkout lane? Okay.

I begin to go toward that checkout lane again and think, "What am I doing? I'm about to ask a complete stranger to buy some bananas? Ahh! What? Am I going to get her number and send her a check for one dollar of bananas? Do I ask her for her address?"

I stop after a couple of steps. "This is too much! I'm just going to put these bananas back, go home, and come back."

Then, on my way back to the produce area AGAIN, a new perspective crosses my bald head brain. I consider it for a second, turn around, and continue my thoughts having decided what I need to do. No more flinching!

I get to the speedy checkout lane behind this younger, dark-haired lady who is now on the phone. "Great! Do I interrupt her?" Before I have time to chicken out another guy gets in line behind me. "Oh, man! Now I'm committed!"

I look toward the back of this lady's head, lean my head over to the side with my eyebrows raised trying to make eye contact. I wanted to get her attention without saying anything. No luck. Without touching her I say, "Excuse me, mam?" She turns to me with her phone still to her ear, takes a quick glance at my awesomely beautiful redhead holding my hand, and non-verbally gives me permission to continue.

With a weird "I'm an idiot!" smirk on my face, I reached into my empty back pocket and said, "I know this is going to sound weird, but I forgot my wallet at home. And..." I paused for about a half second to take a breath and hold up my seven bananas. "...I was wondering if you would buy my bananas for me."

Silence.

The several seconds of her silent processing time seemed like four hours of humiliating torture! I lower my bananas a little. Then she says somewhat confidently as she hangs up her phone, "Sure! Throw 'em up there with my stuff. No problem!"

I put them on "the conveyor belt of shame" right on the divider thing that separates one shopper's stuff from another's. She turns to talk to Kayla a little as she waits for her turn. I'm at a loss for words. I muster up a quick yet audible, "Thank you so much! I feel weird!" She soon turns her back to me as she attends to getting out her wallet to pay for her things (and my bananas!).

"Where do I stand?" I thought. "Do I go around to the front where the bag people do their thing?" No. "Do I bag her few groceries for her as a sign of my appreciation?" Uhh..no way! That would make it worse for all parties involved.

Right then the checker finished ringing up all her things, leaving my bananas straddled on the divider. He looks at this lady and asks her, "This is where your stuff ends, right?"

"Are you kidding me!?" I think. "Why do you have to make this torture worse than it needs to be? Did you hear me ask this lady a few moments earlier to buy my bananas? Certainly everyone in the entire store heard this CRAZY MAN ask a complete stranger to buy his bananas! And, just in case someone missed it, you had to ask her to clarify for the masses my incompetence again!? Thanks, dude!"

I contained all those feelings as I looked at the floor.

She told the guy that she was paying for my bananas. He rang them up and gave her the total; she paid and started gathering her stuff. No one touched the paid-for bananas. I waited until she had cleared everything before I reached over the counter to take the grocery bag containing my seven bananas.

This whole time, I'm wondering what is the appropriate thing to say at the end of all this. A simple, "thanks" came to mind. So did an "I appreciate your generosity." Those seemed weird in the moment and superficial. The only thing I settled on was, "the Lord bless you."

I wanted to convey the Lord's involvement somehow, without being all crazy about it. My mind considered the times that I'd heard that from others. It came from mainly strangers that I'd decided to help out in various ways. I always dismissed it as some kind of unnecessary formality. I would tell them what this lady told me after I said it: "Oh it was no big deal."

This experience has many chapters of lessons that I will share for a while. These lessons started as I went to the car. I told Kayla that she just witnessed how God blesses people through others. I communicated to her that this lady displayed the heart of Jesus in a small, yet powerful way! "Her gracious generosity," I told her, "is a loud testimony to our abundantly good God!"

Have you ever been in a position to experience God's generosity, even in a small $1.07 way?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Profanity Plan

Do you have a plan for the next time you recognize your desire to unload all kinds of foul language? Most of us have no plan! Here is one suggested plan I offered last Wednesday night in our class discussing profanity.
  1. I will stop whatever I am doing the second I recognize it
  2. I will take a deep breath and close my eyes for 5 seconds
  3. I will say this phrase that I have already written down on a piece of paper in my pocket in that moment: “I desire to be an imitator of God as a dearly loved child and to live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
I wonder what would happen if we had that kind of plan to rid filthy language from our lips from which come both praise and curses! God may transform us yet!

What is your plan?

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Grass Has Grown!

Last Wednesday night, continuing the "You Asked for It!" series, we raised some questions about the use of profanity. I ended the last post stating a few principles to take home in learning to honor God with our lips. The first one was to realize that transformation happens slowly and only over time.

After class (and in class) several students talked about being unable to control the words that come out of their mouth instinctually. The examples mentioned were moments when there was no time to consider what they said. They crush their thumb with a hammer. Someone scares the living ...uh... daylights out of them. Or they fall off a chair or down the stairs. In these moments, they told me, there is no way to avoid using profanity.

I thought about myself as students were telling me these things. Does profanity even come to my mind during these instinctual moments? While I struggle to know what verbal response I typically have, I have a hard time remembering the last time profanity crossed my mind in those moments. Other moments (like when I'm angry) bring those thoughts out for me.

"How did this happen?" I kept asking myself. I know profanity used to be the norm for me almost all the time, especially in moments when I was reacting on instinct! How could I even forget that these moments were a no-brainer when it came to moments I would certainly cuss?

My answer: Transformation.

Last Wednesday night was one of those moments when I looked at the grass (so-to-speak) and noticed that it has grown to be rather green! It seems like yesterday the grass was just seed in need of germinating. Meaning: I too thought it impossible to transform instinct. Yet, my instinct is changed!

How did the grass grow? I happened slowly...and over time. One choice here. Avoiding that word there. Exploring creative ways to express myself differently. "Gina! The monkey has caught my brain instead of the banana and turned the sucker upside down right before my eyes! Things are backwards! Yet, the kingdom grows with each choice."

It takes time to transform a mind! And there are no shortcuts! It takes intentional work. Hard work. Work that you sometimes forget about. Then you remember. Then you forget again. And then someone reminds you of how things used to be for you...on a Wednesday night!

God is in the business of transformation! And He is amazingly patient as the grass continues to grow as he designed it! Grow grass grow!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Psalm 137 and Lament Teams

In my opinion, we had a FANTASTIC conversation this morning! Thanks to all you who offered great insight.

Reading Psalm 137 (especially the last verse) confronts us with a reality that we generally ignore when we are in church. Created in God's image, we have a wide range of emotions going on inside us. Yet we sometimes feel as if we have to keep all the negative ones bottled up inside to ourself.

Who would ever say publicly in church something like, "Happy is...he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks!" What!? I can hear someone respond instantly by asking, "How could we even think something like that!? We are supposed to love our enemies!"

Well...an unspoken assumption in most of our corporate worship times is that the only legitimate expressions of worship are positive and joy-filled. Thus, in class we explored the appropriateness of LAMENT in our gatherings. Instead of just having conversation about a praise team, what if we also worked to have a lament team?

Even though this brings a little bit of laughter, I wonder how (and when) we could seriously entertain the idea of encouraging lament among us.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
  1. What would it look like to have a corporate lament service? Have you ever experienced this?
  2. Based on a closing question in class, do we need to reconsider what we do in our funeral services? How so?
  3. Why do you think most people are so uncomfortable with sharing any discontent about God with others in church?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Dang Gina!

Profanity. What counts? How do we honor God in our language? Where do euphemisms fit in?

Last night we had a great discussion in our "You Asked For It" class where we are addressing various questions raised by our students. At the end of class I shared a few helpful principles to keep in mind as we learn to honor God with our lips. Here are the things I shared:

  • Realize that transformation happens slowly and only over time
  • Realize that our language both expresses and influences our heart
  • Recognize in yourself the situations when you struggle most in honoring God in your language
  • Develop a plan of action for those situations ahead of time
  • Understand that small decisions to refrain from certain words (even if you still think them) are signs of real progress
Over the next few blog entries I will go into more depth to explain some of these things. What do you think about these things?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rated 'i' for Ignore

Have you ever been truckin' along in your Bible, come across a passage of scripture that you had no idea what to do with it, and rather than pause a second to make some sense of it just kept right on going? That is me more than I'd like to admit! There are some passages of scripture that are just straight up confusing! Why is that in here? How am I supposed to apply this?

Even more, sometimes I feel like I'm unable to actually say that in church! It is as if I know better than to ask why that passage is in there! I'm somehow already supposed to know how that applies to my life!

Well, I'm wanting to create a little safe space where we take a look at some of these passages, passages that we'd like to ignore. Some passages I have NEVER heard preached! Some passages are mentioned only in passing without any depth. And some passages should only be talked about in appropriate places!

This 10-week class series is entitled "Rated 'i' for Ignore: 10 Biblical Passages We'd Like to Ignore." Beyond looking at specific passages of scripture, I hope also to see more vividly the human element of God's divine word. The Bible reveals stories of God in perfectly messed up lives!

In the end, I hope that we can be more realistic and honest about our own "messed-up-ness" (since that is a real word)! These passages have something to say to us who humbly recognize our own inadequacies before the Almighty God who forever reigns above all!

You can bookmark the series link to peek into our conversation.

Encouraging Start

Yesterday was an encouraging day, and the KFC Building was open for only half of it! Campus has life again as SHSU started classes, our cleaned floors were received incredibly well, students came by with renewed excitement, prayers were offered by and for me, we had a great first Bible study of the semester, and my productivity was higher than normal! I praise God for His encouragement.

Lord, at the beginning of the day today, I ask you for the focus you need in me to extend your kingdom one encounter at a time! May excellence compel me forward in your service. With all the new pieces of information that will come my way today, Holy Spirit, teach me your ways in those decisions. So much is before me that I could easily be overwhelmed today. May your strength, Jesus, and faithfulness work in me today. Amen.

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks find; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Z2 Aroma

Z2 Convergence was an incredible experience this year!

The weekend had an aroma of Christian community lived out. We came ready to welcome other students we'd just met! The fragrance of grace filled the weekend even as collisions occurred. We connected with each other and offered ourselves for the others' sake. The scent of reverence lingered over our worship. We offered our sacrifices of praise in a variety of forms throughout the weekend. Praise the Lord!

Here is the video that I put together late Sunday night (and well into Monday morning!) to show Monday morning at breakfast as we left.


I will certainly be processing the weekend more and putting up other completely awesome videos as they become available. You can see all the Z2 Convergence posts here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Prayer for Punkinsaw

My 4 year old son, Tyler, has a hilarious way of bringing things together with his goofy words and keeping our family prayer times light-hearted! Last night, while he was praying before bed, he asked God for a safe trip to Punkinsaw. I had just prayed for a safe trip to Pine Cove for the Z2 Convergence, and Tanya had been talking on the phone about students coming from Arizona, all around Texas, and Arkansas! So Tyler prays for all of those in just one word: Punkinsaw! Amazing! We busted out in laughter as we finished our prayer time together! It was awesome!

God stirs our lives with the salt of laughter! I praise Him for Punknisaw!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Imitation Moment

In the book Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis there are times when he teaches through a hypothetical conversation between Christ and a disciple of Christ. I love this didactic strategy because he invites me in to identify with the disciple and to consider the words of Christ in a new way.

All the craziness associated with pulling together all the last-minute details for the Z2 Convergence that we begin tomorrow forces me to pause for a second to consider an interesting conversation between a disciple and Christ!

Disciple: Where are you, Lord, when I'm overwhelmed with all these details and all this stress?


Christ: I'm here with you, as you know already. I wonder what is overwhelming you to the point that you only now turn to me?


Disciple: I recognize that you have been here the whole time. At the same time, as my tasks continue to come at me with amazing vigor, my thoughts entertain the ever-present mountain called "things-still-to-get-done." I write them down "here" and "there." I forget about "this" or "that." I actually remember "the other thing" and manage to crank out pieces of randomness to add to the little hill called "finished." Are you just sitting there watching me? Waiting for something? What is going on?


Christ: Sure I see all that, my child. Actually, I feel how overwhelming it is for you. You take on so many things! I love that about you! I remember creating you like that on purpose. I also remember creating you to take delight in me, to experience peace in me. I see times when your faith in me alone carries you beyond this thing you are calling a mountain. You let go and sit at my feet as you breath your next breath, learning from me the way you must go. I love those moments that you are even unaware of yourself and so sensitive to my moving that it is as if I were directing your path according to my word. You do that so well, my child. Keep it up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hide-and-Seek

Opportunities patiently wait for us to discover them today! For some reason they like to play hide-and-seek all the time...and they are good at finding hiding spots! I know some kids who are excellent, top-notch, olympic-gold-metal-level hide-and-seek players, and these opportunities I'm talking about beat these kids all the time!

What is amazing to me is to watch them play. Even though the opportunities' hiding spots are incomparable, sometimes they like to toy with people. I occasionally see an opportunity, tired of hiding so well all the time, stand right out in the open ready to be "it" next round (wanting to be "it" even once), and someone just walks right past it as if she never saw it!! I am floored every time!

Well, today is going to be different for me! An opportunity told me to close my eyes and count to ten, and we all know what that means. I'm playing hide-and-seek today! It is going to be awesome.

You need to join us! Those opportunities have nothing on us! Ready or not, here we come!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Rated 'i' for Ignore

As I read through the Bible, I regularly run across difficult passages that make almost no sense. At least I sometimes want to ignore it and just keep right on reading, because touching that would mean...well...uh....I mean...okay, let's move on. Many things run through my mind as I have these interesting encounters with God's word!

"What in the world is that doing in the Bible?" "Did I misread something?"
"How can that be what I'm supposed to do?" "I can see why no one ever talks about this passage." "These are impractical and archaic nowadays." "Those things sound unchristian!" "What if baldness really can be reversed?" "Surely this means something else." "Does this sound like God?" "Am I a moron?" "What else is going on here?" "There is NO WAY that I would even think about bringing this passage up for serious discussion in a Bible class at church!"

Well, even with the bald joke implanted above, the time has come. I am venturing into a 10-week Adult Bible Class at 9am on Sunday mornings at Huntsville Church of Christ starting January 22, 2012 that peruses some of these passages that we would like to ignore. I'm calling it, "Rated 'i' for Ignore: 10 Bible Passages We'd Like to Ignore."

I'll leave you hanging right there, knowing that more will come. Deeper purposes do lurk behind the surface waiting to explain why such a class would even be offered. Trust me! Confidence and conversation wait to reveal themselves.

In the meantime, I'm curious what Bible passages would you never touch, even with an 144,000 foot pole?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Space on the 12th Day of Christmas

Every year, on the twelfth day of Christmas, my wife and I get to celebrate our wedding anniversary! Tanya and I were married on January 6, 2001. We got a chance to get away for our 11th wedding anniversary yesterday and today! My mom came in to spend some time with Kayla and Tyler.

We went to Crystal Beach, near Galveston. And, get this! We backed up our Honda Pilot right to the ocean's edge, opened the back door, and sat there for hours! It was amazing! The sea gulls were doing their thing, the water was doing what it does best, and we were enjoying the comfortable silence...mesmerized by God's beautiful creation! The only people we encountered during these times were those in the one or two cars that passed by every couple of hours or so.

When was the last time you took advantage of some space to reconnect with God through his creation? You need to do that.
"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters." Psalm 24:1-2

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Praise the Lord!

What would happen if you said these words to 3 different people today: "Praise the Lord! God is so good!" How would those people respond? What kinds of conversation would come from a statement like that? Who needs to hear you say something like that? What would that do to your heart? When would you imagine a statement like that coming out today?

As this Christmas Break Exercise continues, stretch a little today and give a little shout out for God!

"Praise the Lord! O gives thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, or declare all his praise? Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times." Psalm 106:1-3

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Shine Jesus

Today's Christmas Break Exercise post is short and sweet. These have gotten longer than I first intended. Here we go.
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." Isaiah 60:1-3
The year continues to unfold before you, and God is still the bright one who shines through you! Keep your eyes on the way of Jesus and others will come around so that they can see more clearly.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Prayer for Wisdom

I praise you, Father, for your presence. Today your wisdom and understanding wait to be experienced by those of us looking for them. Whisper to us, Lord, that our hearts may find you again today. Prepare us, Spirit, as we wait to see you this day in your wisdom. Amen.
"Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy." Proverbs 3:13-18

Sunday, January 01, 2012

More Than One

Reminiscent of the nine lives that cats claim to have, I claim to have more than one life. In fact, I have more than two too! [get it...TUTU...ha...I'm a dork]. I have my spiritual life, my family life, my lame joke life, my church life, my work life, my exercise life, my hobby life, my you-name-it life. They are all there, present and accounted for! Each doing it's own thing!

As if it is against the rules to start over on, say, March 3rd or December 16th, the new year certainly encourages us to start over, to begin again, and to resolve to do this or that with my food life, weight life, or work life. If you are hitting reset this year, let me offer a thought that may take some pressure off your shoulders.

My thought: my plethora of lives are more fused to be one than I think!

I have recently been on a journey to clean out my office to get it in order! Thoughts may circle around in some people's brain about how Chris is finally getting his work life organized! These thoughts, if they actually happened, would be accurate. My work life IS getting more organized and more manageable!

At the same time, a funny surprise continues to unfold in front of me. As my office is getting more organized, my financial life is getting more organized, my spiritual life is getting more attention, and my time with family is being managed better! This is cool! Work on one and get four! To be a math nerd for a second, maybe one times one CAN equal four! Awesome!

Um...no! Epic fail, Chris!

The reality is that one times one equals...wait for it...one! We have one life. Work to enhance it even in small things, and your life improves. Your one, God-breathed life--every aspect of it--responds and adjusts to every small, seemingly-insignificant tweak. It is as if we are hard-wired in the image of God to be a whole and complete living being! Nice.

So, go for it all this year with a bang as you hit reset and work on your life again! My excitement and anticipation grows as I wonder what will be affected this year as I work to get organized at work. What about you?