Thursday, July 28, 2005


I am mostly talking to myself today.

It is a good habit to make a point to give people complements. In every conversation that I have, I can be intentional about complementing this person. The more I practice this, the more it will become natural.

The other day, I made everyone pay two different people complements before they left the devotional. After doing this, I found myself being sarcastic with one of the students. She then told me that no one had paid her a complement yet. In addition to this, two other people had given some sarcastic remarks as well. I was tremendously embarrassed. Here I was hoping everyone would get a complement and I am the one putting someone down with a sarcastic comment. Aaahhhh!!!

Let us be intentional about giving complements in every conversation we have with those around us.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Student Center Face-Lift

Last Friday night we began the Student Center Face-Lift. I am seeing the improvement already on two fronts.

The first front is the new paint, the new carpet that will come soon, the tearing down the walls, the scaffolding, the moving furniture around, and many other things. It is great to see all these things happening.

The second front is the changing attitudes on all our faces. I am seeing you students come together for a common purpose like I haven't witnessed before. It is good to see. A wrinkle of criticism disappears here and a sag of clickishness vanishes there. It is good to see.

The Student Center Face-Lift is lifting more than just the physical appearance of our gathering place. We can only praise God for this. Amen!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I'm just joking

"Yeah, Julie, you are lookin' pretty ugly today!!!" "What?!" "Oh...I'm just messin' around with ya. Don't worry about it...I'm just joking."

I find myself just joking around too often. While my sarcasm has diminished, it can get pretty bad at times...mostly with people that I begin to feel really comfortable around. There is a time for a nice little pun that knocks a close friend or a bit of sarcasm every once in a while. But, have you ever met a person who is always offering "little" put-downs here and "innocent" nuggets of sarcasm there every chance s/he gets? It seems like everything out of her or his mouth is "just a joke." Being around these type of people is not something I always look forward to.

Consider these proverbs:
"Many a truth is said in jest." - unknown
"Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I was only joking!'" - Proverbs 26:18-19
"The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." - Proverbs 15:4
"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply--and how good is a timely word!" - Proverbs 15:23
"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." - Proverbs 25:11

This is the lesson: I must think before I make a joke that could work against the edifying that I am called to do as a Christian.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Living Christians

This morning my devotional reading led me to consider how Christians live. Does it matter how I live as a Christian? Those who say no might run to the offers of salvation by grace alone. Those who say yes might run to James' faith without works argument. Sometimes this question comes up in discussions about salvation; does the way I live affect my salvation? I want to shift the focus away from this toward living everyday life.

Does it matter how I live as a Christian? Well, what do you believe about God? Does he want some ceremony or a momentous intellectual ascent to appease him to let you into heaven? Does he need you bombarding him with praises and adoration to help out his lack of self-confidence? Or is he interested in a relationship with you? Is he wanting to transform your life here on earth?

If God is interested in a relationship with me, it follows that I can hurt or strain the relationship with my own actions, even with my own thoughts. God has provided the way through Jesus to enter into relationship with him. As my relationship grows with God, I will look more and more like Jesus in my life. My will is transformed to strive for his perfection. I will be able to find true life in this world; my life will have purpose; all my desires will be to nourish my relationship with God.

It does matter how I live as a Christian.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Yeah...You Are Fat

Have you ever met someone who always seems to make comments about themselves in front of you like "I am so fat!" or "I am really dumb!" Most of the time this person does not really believe these things about her/himself, but they are just fishing for some affirmation. How do I know this? Well, imagine if you actually agreed with them right after they made the statement. "Well, yes you are fat." or "Yeah, you are dumb." More than likely, this person would think that you were being unbearably rude and even insulting. This proves that they really do not believe the things they say about themselves.

Two lessons we can learn. One, we can watch our motives in how we talk about ourselves. Are we putting ourselves down so that others can give us comments that feed our pride about ourselves? Or do we have good measure of self-acceptance to where we really can say that we are fat? Everyone on the face of the planet has faults. We need to accept our own as just that...our own. So when it becomes clear to others that this is a fault of ours, we know that they have just learned something that we already know about ourselves...and there is no harm in that.

Two, if we encounter a person constantly fishing for complements, it is okay to look for ways to give them complements. They are obviously lacking confidence in themselves and feel they need to get it from others, even though it might be through deceptive means. The reality is that others do give people confidence. If I am in an environment where people accept me for who I am (faults and all), I can be confident. If I am in an environment where people complement me intentionally, I will learn over time that I don't always need to fish for it.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Standing Under Temptation

A sign of spiritual progress is the ability to resist temptations when they come. In fact, that you are continually being tempted more and more shows that you really are making spiritual progress.

Temptations will also keep you humble. There is no woman or man alive today that can say..."I am not tempted by anything." Paul spoke of a thorn in his flesh that kept him from thinking too highly of himself. He even pleaded three times that it be taken from him. The Lord refused and merely said, "my grace is sufficient for you." When things have been going well in regard to the temptation department, I might think I somehow have surpassed others in my spirituality. Thus, I need temptations to keep me humble.

So many, myself included at times, might think that temptation in itself is bad. "I don't want to tell people that I was tempted to look at pornography because they might think I actually did look at it or that I am weak somehow." No way! This is not true and I am weak. Just think...Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). His ministry began with being led into the desert to be tempted. Temptation is not bad...

...rather, temptation is a great opportunity to make progress in our relationship with God and in our spiritual life. Amen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Big or Small?

Why do I think I can tackle big weaknesses in my life if I can't even overcome the smallest temptations? What makes me think I can do this? Perhaps it is my lofty goals or my competitive nature.

Do I not understand that the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30? The master put in charge of many things the faithful servants who doubled the talents given to them. "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'"

If I prove myself faithful in my ability to say 'no' to that extra coke on a consistent basis, then I will be able to say 'no' to many of Satan's other attacks and temptations. It is a small idea, that has many repercussions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Thomas a Kempis offered this comment in The Imitation of Christ in his discussions about temptation and overcoming faults: "If every year we uprooted a single fault, we should soon become perfect."

While I doubt very seriously that he really considered perfection attainable within this lifetime, he makes a great observation that I can take home. We, as Christians, simple try to tackle too many things at once. We try to make too much progress at once. What would happen if I struggled to overcome over-indulgence for a whole year? What would that do to my spiritual life? What would happen if I spend 365 days gradually developing my prayer life and leave other disciplines for the following years?

I am going to try this out, but I will do it with others who want to do it with me. I think requiring this of Student Center interns is a must in spiritual progress. Other students might be interested, so I will open it to anyone willing to take that step.

I ask, Lord, that you bless our efforts toward more commitment to you.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Reading the Bible

For the last month that I have been listening to our preacher I have found my mind wondering. As all preachers preach, the things that are said evoke thoughts about the listeners' life. Sometimes this is good and sometimes not so good.

Yesterday, I found myself again thinking of something I desperately need to do more of: reading the Bible. Being a teacher of the Bible, I am already reading it, preparing to teach it, and encouraging others to read it more. This is good. But my thoughts go toward consuming myself with the Word of the Lord. I want my life to revolve around it and draw strength from it as the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:28, "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." Throughout this Psalm, I find a man who is completely consumed with the instructions of the Lord. Teaching about the Bible and being consumed with it are two different things.

Lord, my prayer is that I desire to be in your word so that I may find you, that I may dwell with you, and that I may reflect you. When I open your word next to take a break from the world, bless my effort to know you and your people more. Then I can walk according to your word. Let it seep into my soul that I may find healing and rest.

Posting Plans

Postings have not been frequent...that is for sure. But I think that I will be posting fairly short devotional thoughts for the day. It will be a way for me to focus my thoughts on things that matter, on Godly things. Hopefully, this will also grow into something that others use to focus their own thoughts. They might even comment on the things that I offered.

Lord, help us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things We have been raised with Christ and will seek to set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at your right hand. Bless our efforts Lord.

Monday, May 23, 2005

To Huntsville We Go

Well, it has been a while since my last post. Tanya and I have been busy closing one chapter in our lives. I drove my last school bus for a while, and Tanya said goodbye to the professors whom she has kept organized for the past few years. Now we are packing up the house for the big move on Saturday morning.

Wow! This is really happening. We can't wait to get to Huntsville! God is going to be working in our midst and we can't wait to be a part of it. To be used as his instruments is an incredible experience.

Friday, May 06, 2005

My Two Primary Jobs

As we eagerly plan to move to Huntsville we think about transitions in ministry. This is an important time in the life of the church as well as the life of the minister. We know this because we have been on both ends at one time or another, and people have told us this. While we were students two different ministers came to our church (one a college minister and another an associate). We also made the transition as the new college minister at University Church of Christ. Both have proved to be opportunities for us to learn...and learn we did.

As students, we found out first-hand what happens when a college minister comes in without regard for what is already happening. He doesn't last too long and he makes many enemies. We also experience the wisdom of a minister who went to great lengths to understand the situation he came to. He is still there and has become the preaching minister of the same church.

All ministries are not the same, and each should be treated as unique. We will not make the mistake of ignoring context. College ministry at Sam Houston State University will be unlike any other place on the planet...we need to learn what that is going to look like. Lord, give us your wisdom and strength as we begin.

My two primary jobs as a new minister: historian and lover. I will do everything I can to learn what has happened to make Huntsville Church of Christ and the Student Center what they are right now. I will also love the people of Huntsville Church of Christ and the students at the Student Center. These are huge! They will also teach me a ton about how God will use my gifts in ministry in Huntsville, Texas.

Saturday, April 30, 2005


We must send praises up to God for the opportunities he has given us!

Tanya and I have accepted the position as college minister at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. We are super excited about this new part of our lives! It is crazy to think that I finally have the opportunity to do ministry full-time. We have been waiting for this for a while. I don't have grad school to work on or a graduate assistant job to maintain. We can't wait to start!

Now we are working on packing things up. We anticipate this being the last major move we make, and that is a good thing! Tanya and I were commenting the other day that we have been in three different apartments and one rent house since we were married. That is a lot of moving!

Saturday, April 16, 2005


I have always wondered why Paul spends so much time giving greeting to people in his letters. Isn't this just formalities? Why do I need to read these things?

I think for the first time in my life I have caught a glimpse of why he would do such a thing. He goes to a town not having a place to stay and finds hospitality from the local Christians or provisions from Christians in other places. This has a tremendous impact on his life. His gratitude cannot be expressed enough. Therefore, anytime he has opportunity he gives his greeting, despite its "formality."

We just went on an interview for a campus ministry position. The family we stayed with welcomed us with open arms; we were basically considered part of their family. The congregation mobbed us (in a good way) to get to know us better. The college students were genuinely interested in us as well. The other ministers were encouragingly refreshing. Overall, they served us as Christ served his disciples. What an example! We cannot express our gratitude enough.

Even if for some reason we do not end up in this city, it truly remains in our hearts forever. The love of Christ is overwhelmingly present here. Thanks be to God for his presence in their lives.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


I have known that this would happen for some time, but today it was confirmed once again. I am going on an interview for a campus ministry position in a certain Texas town this week. The person with whom I have been communicating mentioned one of my fellow graduate students as another candidate.

It is an interesting position to find myself. I cannot speak anything but positives for my fellow grad student. At the same time, we are interviewing for the same position. The only thing I can do is ask that God give the elders (or search committee) the wisdom and insight to know who is the family that would be the best match.

At the same time, I pray that God is showing each family whether their talents can be best utilized in that given location. It would be wonderful if both the elders and the families saw things the same way. I believe the hand of God could provide this. Amen.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Who is God?

This is an interesting question. If someone were to tell me who God is, where would this person begin? God is truth. God is life. God is all-powerful. God is an indescribable being. God just is. There are so many places to go.

One of my classes (Systematic Theology II) asked this same question. Because it was an academic question, I guess we had to put it in academic type form, so we asked for the whole semester, "What is befitting to say of God?" When we started, I naively thought we were actually going to answer this question. In reality, just in asking this question I was challenged in ways I didn't think were possible.

Consider this: If I want to speak of God only in ways that I find in the Bible (something I want to do), then I am forced to use so many different images. I can't narrow it down to just one. God is a consuming fire. God is my rock. God is my fortress. God is a shepherd. God is a farmer. God is the comforter. God rides on clouds. God is a warrior. The list could go on and on.

One might say, "Well, God is all of these things." True, but how can being a warrior and a peacemaker coincide with each other at the same time. "Different times and circumstances demand different manifestations of God." Okay, but if I am to tell someone that God is x or y, then this person will just dismiss this as being how you view God at this particular time. I think that more can be done when speaking of God.

I guess the modern age has brought about the idea that we can reduce God to short, simple propositional statements. Jesus' parables have one point to make; the stories in the Old Testament have a driving force on which we focus. There is so much more here that we are missing. Life is not as simple as many preachers and teachers seem to make it.

If we learn to speak of God in story (something we find throughout the Bible), we might start getting a glimpse of who he is. Stories are complex. Stories carry ambiguity with them. They don't comment on every aspect of life, but they are helpful in telling us what kind of people we are. May I propose that God is like the man who accepted his youngest son back from the dead having squandered all his wealth in wild living? May I propose that God rescues his people like those he rescued from Egypt? May I propose that God destroys his people who have turned away from him countless times? May I propose that God will restore his people as he restored Jesus? All of these things imply larger stories that give us glimpses into who God is.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Romans 8:28

In an effort to understand the ways of God, one is inevitably forced toward Romans 8:28. I hear this passage quite often being offered as a word of consolation to the those who are in pain, either from the death of a loved one or some physical ailment or sickness.

We need to be careful at how we speak for God in these sensitive times in people's lives. We mean to help when we say, "God will work this for good; just wait and you will see." I wonder what statements like that really mean. Will God really work this out for the good of the one to whom I am speaking? How can I be so sure? When can I finally say, "Okay, now that was good!" and be at peace with it? Did this happen to Job? Was what happened good? Dare I even speak in God's behalf in any situation? I am nervous about doing this.

Consider how the NIV translates this verse: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." What is the difference between "in all things God works" (NIV) and "all things work together" (KJV)? [By the way, both are legitimate translations because the subject could be the implied 'he' meaning God or 'all things'; likewise, 'all things' could be the subject or the object of the sentence. You have to decide just like the translators of the NIV and KJV did for you.]

If God works "in all things," then it seems to follow that he takes the situations as they come and works good out of them. That necessarily implies that the situation itself is not deemed 'good' or even 'bad'; it is just the situation. If "all things work for good," then it seems to follow that one would have to say everything that happens is necessarily good, something I am not willing to comment upon (especially as if I know what is good from God's perspective). Just some food for thought.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

What is God's Will For Me?

I ask myself this question more times than I care to admit. This is a tough question because I feel myself being pulled in so many different directions, especially at this point in my life. I just graduated. Kayla was born. We are looking for God's direction in the midst of everything.

Recently, we just made the decision to leave the Mission Miami team. We were asking this question. Does God want us to continue with the team? Does God want to use us somewhere else? The crazy thing about this is that we thought we wrestled with this last summer when we made the decision to get on the Mission Miami team! So now what is the deal, God?

It basically came down to closed doors. Everywhere we turned, we found closed doors. The deciding factor was the door of funding for our work. We couldn't even make our monthly rent payment! This forced both of us to try and work full-time to cover our expenses, train full-time to prepare for Miami, fundraise full-time to actually get to Miami, as well as be full-time parents. We felt this was too much for us to handle at this time in our lives. It seems like God was speaking here. Is this what Luke was talking about when he says, " [Paul and his companions] tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to." (Acts 16:7)?

Right now, we are asking this question again but in a different sense. Now that we are looking for ministry jobs, where do we go? Do we go to Vermont? California? Texas? Within Texas do we go to Grand Prairie? Huntsville? Wichita Falls? We are researching all these places to see how God can use our gifts most effectively. We will see how the hand of God works here, but probably only after the fact.

Conclusion: I believe the only way to be absolutely sure of the will of God is in the times that we are looking back at situations rather than in the situations themselves. In the meantime, we trust that He will guide our paths.