Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Newness in Christ

I am just beginning to think through a sermon I will preach on Dec 31st. Please bear with me.

The Lord brings new things our way all the time. Many times, however, it isn't new to me. I have heard it before. I know that already. I have read this passage countless times before. How many times do I take communion? When am I not going through my routine? I let the oldness set in and stifle any newness that the Lord wants to bring.

Actually, oldness was set in with Josiah, Shaphan (the secretary), and Hilkiah (the priest). Looking at their life in 2 Kings 22, we see routine: a king doing kingly things, a secretary doing secretary things, and a priest doing priestly things (but not according to the Law apparently). They were not near newness.

That is until they discover a "new," old book of the Law in the temple. Then Josiah went throughout the kingdom bringing the newness that was intended to exist continually since the time of Moses. The newness came however, not simply because of finding this book. It was found by a responsive, humble heart (2 Kings 22:19). The newness continued with new responsibilities: the priest now had to inquire of the Lord, the king had to change the kingdom business, the people had to smash all that opposed the law, and the foreign priests had to die. The newness came with a vengeance.

Today, we have a chance to allow newness to penetrate our hearts. Our humility before the Lord will usher in new life. Our behavior will follow and thereby bring more newness. May God bring the newness found in Christ deep within ourselves and give us rest.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

God does what God does

Last Thursday I had a conversation that I have never had before (by choice) and will never have again (again by choice). The conversation was with Daniel, our intern. We had both talked with a student in our ministry, L, earlier that afternoon. She was wondering why things don't go easy for her and was asking for us to pray for her being able to get into a class to graduate on time. Both of us prayed for her.

Daniel mentioned in our conversation that he couldn't help but think about how easy things go for him most of the time. In his transition to another school housing, acceptance, transferring credits, and other little things just took care of themselves without much effort. I anticipate more of the same. As Daniel and I talked, I actually told him something I think fairly regular...I just don't ever say it. I told Daniel that I am not surprised things are going well for him. His life compared to L's is much more focused on God, much more in pursuit of godly endeavors, etc. Of course God is going to make things more easy for him.

Our conversation was much more complex than this. I told him my hesitancy to ever say something like this. I always think of the life of Job in situations like this. That keeps my mouth it should. Then I began to explore being able to discern God's will. With equal hesitancy I always balk in presuming to know his will for sure. I told Daniel that I think we need to allow the Holy Spirit guide us in times like this. We can know God's will through his just takes a listening heart. And on the conversation went...meddling in the activity of saying how God works in people's lives.

On my way home I picked up some Chili's. It was good. By the end of my meal however, I was having some major indigestion. Then the thought occurred to me that this was the same feeling I had with my kidney stones a while back. I began downing water like a madman.

The rest of the evening was spent in my room, mainly in the bathroom. I threw up my whole meal and more. Four hours of horrible-ness!! I couldn't keep even the water that I continued to drink down. And the pain continued to get worse. Only once I prayed to the Lord to take away my pain (toward the end). I don't know why I didn't cry out to him earlier.

Right before I prayed a dreadful thought occurred to me. I am convinced that the thought (voice?) was from the Lord. The thought was, "Do not presume to know how I work." As I prayed, I asked for relief so that God could be glorified. That is what I am doing now. I am telling you that I believe God caused my pain (in Job-like fashion) to humble my prideful presumptions.

I warn you: do not presume to know how and why God works in people's lives. Let us, however, be the ones God uses to accomplish his will.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Running Progress

Well...I can't believe I haven't posted in so long!! Oh changes now.

I have committed to run a half-marathon in the year 2007. I don't think this will be a problem...I just need to get my body in shape for it. Last weekend I hit the halfway mark. I ran 6.5 miles down Veterans Memorial Parkway. It was tough, but I know that I can reach my mark pretty soon. I plan to run 10 miles this week again down Veterans Memorial. After that it will only be 3 miles more.

I am encouraged to hit this mark...especially running down Veterans Memorial. It is really hilly...that is what makes it so tough. I figure that if I can run this the half-marathon won't be so way will it be THIS hilly.

The spiritual side of my running will continue to take form, but I offer these words. I definitely know that I am a beginner. In spite of this, I know my goal. It is encouraging to make so much progress, but I can't get discouraged when it doesn't go so well at times. All I can do is get myself in shape to take the next step. We must always keep is not an option to give up. The kingdom of God is progressing through us. May God be praised forever!! Amen.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I Saw the Turtle!!

It is official. I saw the turtle and we are having a boy. There is definitely no hamburger buns on that boy! Yesterday we had a sonogram. The boy is doing fine. He is healthy and moving around. Heartbeat is good. Yea!

Now we are starting the process of finding a name for our boy. This is a big deal for me. I go through the name book (at least when I get it back) and make sure that the name I am looking at is appropriate. If I can visualize my son having this makes the cut. Once this process is finished, I look at what I have and begin talking with Tanya. We will deliberate from there. The only thing I know at this point is...not 'Christopher Jr.' I can't stand that.

I am not sure if we will tell people the name beforehand or not. For Kayla we did. I really don't care if we do or not. I don't think it is a big deal if people know the name. Hey...its cool to know the name beforehand. Then we can talk about 'Kayla' instead of 'her' or 'the baby' before Kayla is born. I liked that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Holiday Break

Oh...I can smell it now...turkey, stuffing, deviled eggs (do these smell?), ham, football, Cowboys, laughter. [I know you can't smell some of those, but work with me here.] Thanksgiving break is huge at our family. Maybe even bigger than Christmas...I'm not sure. All I know is that I get excited thinking about it!

A when the break finally comes, nice times. I don't typically think about anything except being with family...I go on break! [There was one year that I had to do an assignment during the Cowboy game, but I was on drugs that year. That doesn't count.] Last year was the same.

But, there is a danger lurking there that I don't want to come around this Thanksgiving break. It is called the devil's playground or "spiritual warfare break." I am amazed at how these "breaks" bring Satan out of the closet full force. He loves it I know! He knows that we have mentally checked out and most of the time we have spiritually checked out too. His voice whispers, "We just need to indulge and give in every now and then! Everything will get back to normal...after your 'break.'"

I have already been battling this battle. Since Tanya and Kayla left, I have kindof been on "break." I need to wake up to Satan's lie. Lord, keep me strong throughout this break. It is this break that I need to draw from your strength, not Satan's. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Your name be praised throughout our break. Marana tha. Amen!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

As a "Bachelor"

This morning I woke up and turned in my bed to see my dog snoozing away. There was music playing in the other room from KSBJ, the local Christian radio station, because I do that every time Tanya and Kayla are gone. I stayed up late last night after church just working on learning CSS, a language to help with building websites.

After my normal routine, I decided to go to the office a little early to read the Bible. Then my day started, and here I am.

I wouldn't trade married life or life as a dad for anything. I don't know that I could exist otherwise. But, there are certain days that come along that God gives us that are not "normal," whatever that means. Today has been an abnormal day because the two people closest to me are gone. I have not had to do my normal husband or father duties.

God has allowed me to quiet down enough today to hear him a little more. I plan on allowing God to speak more this weekend. I can only praise God for this brief season. This is also a time that I am going to use to think about next semester's plans. I pray that God gives me wisdom through his Spirit.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why do students do that?

I don't want to judge too quickly because I myself am a sinner! But I logged into facebook this morning to find that two students were tagged in photos doing something I bet they are not excited that I saw. The title to the album was "Some Drunk Times/White Trash Bash." Actually, I have no idea what they were doing. The contraption is not something I have seen before.
I feel compelled to let them know that I saw the pictures, but what do I do from there? This seems like one of those moments where I need to hold out the truth of the gospel. They died to sin in their baptism; how can they live in it any longer? Let us put off our old self which is being corrupted in its deceitful desires and put on our new self which is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
It would be easy to condemn, but the gospel puts me in the same condemned state as a sinner myself. When I hold out the word of life, we all have the chance to repent and turn to God.
I caution myself when I say these things because this behavior (if done consistently) is not proper for God's people. Reading 1 Corinthians 5, the community is corrupted by such ways of living. The call in this case is to cast this one out. Exactly what that looks like will be a learning process for me, but I know that healing should be the final outcome sought. I know reconciliation can happen.
[Note: I know that this is just one picture taken at one moment in time and should not necessarily be taken as an example of his behavior over a long period of time.]

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Holy Spirit Preventing

I have always wondered about the following passage in Acts:
"Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and
Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the
province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter
Bythinia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. Do they passed by
Mysia and went down to Troas." Acts 16:6-8

What? Why would God prevent them from preaching the word? I thought we were able to do that wherever we went. At least this is what I tell students! And what is going on with the Spirit of Jesus not allowing them to enter Bythinia? Why would this happen? Basically, I am full of questions concerning this passage.

Not only this, but I have similar questions regarding my recent frustrations with LST in Huntsville. My efforts are going nowhere! Is the Holy Spirit preventing this evangelistic opportunity in Huntsville? I don't know, but why would this happen? Does Friends Speak need to be up and running before LST will have a chance? What is going on?

As of now, it looks like myself and LeeAnn are the ones wanting to go on a project. Even in my commitment, I must wrestle with the familial sacrifices it would take. I don't understand what is happening. All I can do right now is wait...and continue to wrestle with God's will!

Give me understanding, Lord. Let me be patient as I wait on your timing. I am dumbfounded...please enlighten me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Women in Ministry

I have mentioned Let's Start Talking on a few occasions now. I am finding out that women are my most enthusiastic students. They are the ones who take seriously the challenge involved with LST. They are the ones who seem halfway interested. They are the ones willing to go around the world to be used by God. Why is this?

When I get to thinking about this just in campus ministry, I see similar results. The women are more involved than the men. Women are more likely to talk to me after class about something that I mentioned than men. Women are more likely to think about how to coordinate events when I ask them to do that. [And they usually do a much better job at it than our guys!!]

I find this phenomenon interesting. This topic came up in a conversation I had recently and David mentioned that women are not given too many opportunities in ministry to make a big impact. As a result, they jump at the opportunity LST provides. I thought it was an interesting proposal, but a good one.

Looking realistically at our "student leadership" I see women AND men, but the women seem to step up more and more. I am looking to have a leadership team next semester when our intern leaves. We will see what happens.

God give me wisdom.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Let's Start Talking

Tonight about 7 are meeting to begin taking the commitment to an LST project to the next level. It seems like 6 weeks is scaring many people away from doing anything. Because of this, a 3-week project is what I am pushing for right now. I asked them to think about when and where they would like to go next summer. I would like to have our first official training meeting on Sunday if at all possible.

For a while now I have been discouraged about the enthusiasm of the students. It seems like they just didn't want to come on board with LST. I have let it rest for a little bit without saying much to the students (I don't want to be the one they avoid because they know I am going to talk about LST all the time). I am starting back up now with more enthusiasm because I seriously let it go. But time is getting pretty short now; people need to be making the choice to go on a project. We are less than a month away from the Dec 1 deadline.

Check out my personal LST webpage. You can begin making contributions to help me on my trip for next summer.

Lord, give me strength to answer questions and challenge students to get started with the application process. I want them to make the commitment because I know that God can do amazing things through them. May you be glorified, God.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Supporting Congregations

It is written in my job description, but I marginalize it all the time. I know that it is important, but I find myself doing other things. I might get it started, but put it off for another day that never comes. What is it?

I must write a report to our sponsoring congregations and people about the goings-on of Kats for Christ.

I don't know why it is not something I think about doing all the time, but it is difficult for me to actually do. I have learned (and will continually be reminded) through doing these reports that ministry calls me to do things that I don't normally find fulfilling. Yet, strangely enough, I think that these little tasks remind us that this is exactly what we are calling others to do. Namely, little things that they might not normally find fulfilling.

Give me strength this day, Lord, to fulfill my responsibilities as your minister.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Children and College Students

I mentioned earlier that I had talked to Mark Waldron about our students' willingness (or lack thereof) to serve. In that conversation I mentioned that I always struggle with a good, healthy balance between being the prophet and the pastor. The prophet calls students to change their lives. Repent before God's destruction comes! The pastor is the gentle one who offers understanding and guides the sheep in green pastures to quiet waters. Balancing the two is very difficult. When do I challenge? When do I be gentle?

I was mentioning this to Mark and he said, "Welcome to life as a parent! You will be struggling with this the rest of your life." I knew what he was talking about, but I guess it had not occurred to me that as I grow in my ability in raising Kayla and our other little one(s) my ability in ministering to college students will also grow.

The whole conversation made me realize that I do have some understanding in balancing prophet and pastor, but it will continue to grow as Kayla grows. John Huber mentioned that he could see the same thing in Barry, the previous campus minister. When he came he had one child and had two more while he was here. Through that experience, his ability to minister grew.

Cool deal. Thank you, Lord, for encouraging me to connect all aspects of my life. As I grow in one, another grows. You are so good, God.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Elder Teaching Class

Last night was a great class! It was the second of two classes that Mark Waldron (one of our elders) taught in our series on "Great Faiths." He and I met on Tuesday to discuss a few things that have been on my heart about our college students' lack of willingness to serve others.

In last night's class Mark was able to speak as one who had the authority to speak. He challenged our students to find their purpose in Christ by serving others. Mark even went as far as to say something like, "You are growing up in a world that just gives you everything. You are an audience generation! College age people now-a-days want what their parents' have right now. You are not willing to wait like your parents or work like your parents." His challenge was to not be the spectators, but the participants. God is wanting to accomplish something through everyone; we just have to be there while we can willing to be used.

I must admit that I wish I could say something like that and have the same effect. But it sounds so much different coming from Mark. He was born in 1955 and has many years of experience and wisdom in working with students in ministry. He was truly an elder leading our college students into a deeper relationship with our Lord. I loved it!

Lord, show me that you were active last night in class. Bring students to our group with a willing heart to serve you even when they are not asked specifically. May it be a joy for them to serve others here. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tidbits of Encouragement

In my ever-present desire to lead students into a deeper relationship with Jesus. I want to offer little words of encouragement every single day that students can take with them. It will kindof be like a little devotional thought that they can get by email. My hope is that they will read it as a way to remain focused throughout the week.

The thing that sparks this is my desire to slowly shape our students' way of thinking into that of Christ's. My hope of writing ONE email to say everything is not realistic. Especially seeing that students probably won't read something so long. Therefore, I think little tidbits here and little tidbits there will slowly guide students into God's presence.

Honestly, I don't know the best way to do this. I can just send out an email to our KFC group email list or put something on this blog group every day. The problem with the blog thing is that I don't always write devotional-oriented blogs.

Hey...I got it. On facebook I will create a group called something like 'thoughts on Jesus.' The group will be daily thoughts for college students to guide them in their journey toward Christlikeness. I can send out daily devotionals to them. I pray that God is glorified through these tidbits.

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.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What are you hanging on to?

Last night I had a dream about going water skiing. Now I have been doing this for as long as I can remember. Slalom by 12, barefoot by 16. I was also a ski instructor for a Christian Camp. I love it.

This dream was weird because we spent so much time figuring out what was wrong with the rope. Apparently, it was broken. We had gone out on the lake with a broken rope! We ended up on the other side of the lake still trying to fix this darn rope.

The other strange thing about this ski trip was that I did not know these people I was with from Adam. They were two older, fairly heavy-set women. Maybe one of them was a man. It really wasn't that important for me in the dream. All I knew is that I didn't know them, but they were trustworthy people.

Well, I ended up working on this rope for hours and hours. It was something about the handle. I couldn't get one side right. I kept trying and trying, but it just wouldn't work. By this time we were almost to the bridge (you obviously know where that is if you know my dream). I kept cutting the rope shorter and shorter just committing to start over so that it would be right.

I finally got it to where I wanted it. It worked! So we headed for the boat. (Somehow we had gotten on shore at this pig farm to fix the rope). When I looked at the rope however, it was way too short! I couldn't ski behind this! Great! But, I decided to try anyway...then I woke up.

DREAMS!!! Can't make sense of them sometimes.

As I was washing dishes this morning...the interpretation came to me. Here it is. Who is taking you for a ride? What are you going to hang on to? Just trust the rope and stop trying to fix it!

Here is what I make of it. The ride is toward God. Jesus is the rope! I need to stop tinkering with the rope, which is hindering my riding toward God. The people taking me on the ride are trustworthy people who know the way. They have been there before me.

Simple. Easy. So, do it!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More Rantings on Silence

Well, I am still limiting my talking. While I could probably speak double bass right now, it is better for recovery that I still not talk. This is hard! But, I am still learning from this little challenge.

When you talk with someone in a soft voice, they calm down! It seems like it is relaxing to them or something. People I talk to with my voice like this automatically begin whispering themselves or at least talking softer. It is funny to watch.

Their whole demeanor seems to change as they seem more patient and receptive to what I am saying. It is like this person to whom I am talking actually stops in their tracks to listen. A few have even forgotten what they were talking about because they were trying to hear me.

The lesson for me is to talk softer on a regular basis. People might start listening to me more. Anyone can learn from this, especially if they regularly find themselves in intense-filled, argumentative situations. Begin talking softer and watch patience and understanding creap into the conversation.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Laryngitis musings

I lost my voice on Sunday night! It still is not back as I write. It is different not being able to talk. I really do talk a lot more than I would have guessed.

Thinking about this for a day now, I have learned a few things. Among them is this: I don't have to raise my voice for Kayla to understand what I am saying. In fact, I almost don't have to talk. She understands my body language a ton! Hand motions. Looks on my face. Raising of the eyebrows. Standing up. All of this communicates a ton.

I have realized that I need to rely less on my voice and more on my actions. They really do speak louder!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


What does it mean to submit? Is submission something that we should practice on a regular basis? If someone submits to someone else, does it mean that this person is weak? Or is it a sign of strength? How does submission line up with the message of the gospel? Can someone be led to submission? Under what conditions? Where does trust in the one to which we submit come into play?

I ask these questions because I wrestle with asking students to practice the discipline of submission.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dentyne Fire Challenge Questions

I have started something that I find a little challenging.

One of my professors in graduate school would start off his class with something he called the "Hershey Challenge Question." Being a greek class, it typically dealed with some nuance of the text we were reading that week. It was never an incredibly easy question, but if we put time into preparation for the class we would have some clue as to the answer. Whoever got the answer he gave a Hershey bar.

I decided to start doing this on Wednesday and Thursday nights. While I don't have Hershey bars, I do have a bunch of gum to give away. Thus, I am calling it the "Dentyne Fire/Ice Challenge Question." I think it is a fun way to challenge students with questions.

The challenge for me is to come up with good challenge questions. Do I tell the students the topic a week before and ask something in line with what we are discussing? Do I just do random biblical knowledge? Do I ask questions on what was said in church?

I'm leaning toward something dealing with the class that is about to be taught, but we will see how it develops.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Hamburger Lesson on Blessing Others

Yesterday we had our weekly ministers lunch. We went to a fairly normal place, McKensie's, and had a stinkin awesome hamburger! Something happened to make me remember that I am thankful for life.

We ordered our burgers as normal and went to the table with beans and our drink waiting for the order. As we left, there was a group of correctional officers were standing around waiting for their burgers. They were very vocal about how long it was taking to fill their orders. One was laying into the new girl at the front about how she was filling the orders. Apparently, they were watching her take the orders. She waited til she had 4 or 5 orders before giving them to the back. The were groaning and moaning until their food came out.

It was really annoying to me. I couldn't help but think about their conversations back at work. "Can you believe how long they took! This girl didn't have a clue! This place is horrible! I'm never going back there again!" I thought about how sad that is. Really great hamburgers forgotten and supposedly "ruined" by not getting selfish expectations of fast service met.

What happened was a really big phone-in order came in. This just put them a little behind. No big deal...understandable, in fact. Nothing to get upset about. I wish I could have told the one vocal lady about.

This morning I woke up with a little sore throat. I also feel a little weak. I hope I am not coming down with something. I will take something when I go home for lunch.

I could complain about it all day, sucking everyone else into my OWN world of self pity. Putting myself in anothers' position (a good practice for everyone), I would not want someone to go on and on about how bad their situation is. I would not want to hear little groans here or little groans there. "I wish I could talk better." "I wish I would feel better." "Look at me" "Look at me." I can't stand being around this, so why would I want to put others through this?

Let's accept our situation and bear it quietly. In doing this we bless others.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Friday Retreat Thoughts

I really enjoyed the retreat this last weekend. It was about an hour northeast of Huntsville, so not too far. The place was really pretty. I loved the scenery.

There were only 17 students who came, but that was a good number. We started out on Friday night with ice breaker stuff, which turned out to be incredibly funny! Courtney did a great job getting all those together for us. What stuck out to me that night was our prayer at the very end. We circled up and held hands. If someone wanted to pray out loud, they could. If they didn't, they would squeeze the next person's hand. I invited the women of our group to pray and was amazed at who was moved to offer prayers! Praise the Lord! Our prayer lasted about 20 minutes and I was encouraged by every word.

As we were unpacking, Tanya came and asked me where all the refrigerator stuff was. I just stood there knowing that I didn't get it. We brainstormed for a bit and decided that it would be less expensive to drive back to get them rather than buy all of them from the local store. With everything ending about 9:30pm, I knew it was going to be a late night for me.

While many students asked to go with me, I told them I would go alone. This ended up being exactly what I needed! I really had not spent good time praying for the weekend. Preparing for lessons and getting all our plans set consumed my time and energy. So, because our vans don't have working AC, I had the windows rolled down as I made the trip back to Huntsville.

I prayed for each student by name. I prayed for their life. I prayed that God speak to them this weekend. I prayed that he encourage them. I prayed that he change them. So I brought each student before the throne of grace as I traveled the dark roads. It really renewed me and got me on track for the weekend.

God heard my prayers too! This year was not full of cliques and people who gravitated to their own group of friends. Everyone was mingling with everyone else. It really was amazing to witness. We actually looked like a group of people dedicated to glorifying God and removing all hindrances.

I praise you, Father, for that time of prayer on Friday night. Thank you for letting me forget the fridge stuff. You use so many things in such strange ways. Open my eyes to see more of this in my life.

Fall Retreat

We just got back from our fall retreat. We went to the same place we went last year, Pineywoods. It was a great retreat! God was glorified and we were able to really get focused on waking up to the life that we have in Jesus. I will probably post more about it later on today.

I wanted to say that I have that same feeling that I had in college after a full week of 5 or 6 major exams. It is over! Praise the Lord. I was able to teach three different sessions on Saturday and then a brief lesson on Sunday morning. It was good, but I am glad it is finished. May God continue to give us energy to glorify him in our life.

Receiving my blog via email

Well, I think you can now receive my blog posts via email. Let me know if you are having a problem with it. I will just add you to the list. Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Praying New

I must tell you that this last week has been a great journey in prayer for me. With the help of Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline I have discovered praying with imagination. Let me explain.

He uses the example of praying for a husband and wife and their marriage. The husband has been having an affair for some time and it has become public. You commit, he says, to pray for their marriage over the next thirty days. Using you imagination to pray for their marriage. You imagine that every time the husband sees the woman with whom he has had an affair he is filled with disgust. You imagine that when he sees his wife he is overwhelmed with love for her and wants to do everything he can to mend their broken relationship. You see them able to laugh together again, you hear them discussing hurt feelings, you imagine the pain of the affair being taken away.

I decided to try this new type of praying out. Kayla has been a pain in the rear, Tanya has had enough, and when I get home I feel the stress in both Kayla and Tanya. It has not been good. In fact, it had grown to a point that I was feeding off it too. Late one night I prayed with my imagination. I saw Kayla waking up without screaming while beating on the door she can't open yet. She was filled with contentment and ready to discover another part of her world. I felt the joy that Tanya felt when she would see Kayla in the morning when she got up. I saw the smile on her face. I imagined that breakfast and lunch were pleasant without whining and asking for "appi" (apples) all the time. I went through the whole day imagining what I prayed for. It was actually hard to do. And it took a long time to do it! But, when I came home asking how the day was, I knew the answer already because I had already felt it and imagined it before it happened. It is unlike anything I had experienced before.

When I told Tanya how I had prayed, she was encouraged. I told her that I was happy to work with God that day to make the day go so well. That is how I look at it. I am working together with God through my imagination to bless others. Wow! That is what it means to be "God's fellow workers" (1 Cor 3:9). I can't wait to tell other stories of how God and I have worked together to bless others. Until then...may God give us wisdom.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

God Through Us

I send this in a recent email to our group:

"God led me to challenge all of us to empty our wallets for a little girl with cancer, Melissa, and her family. Her dad has passed away some time ago leaving her mom to take care of 3 kids. Recently, Melissa's mom quit her job to be at home with her, and paying bills was not a concern for her. Without any government support because of their undocumented status in the U.S. she faithfully said, "God will provide."

And that he did through us. On one Thursday night God offered this family (through us) $500.11 plus a gas card with just over $5 on it. When I got the final number, I almost couldn't believe how good our God is.

When I gave the money to the social worker last Friday, she was brought to tears. She couldn't believe it! God truly is an amazing God. And he is working through you to do amazing things!"
I got to thinking about when this happened. Thursday night is the night in town when the abnormal college student goes out to get plastered. They will go to wherever and take in a substance that causes them to lose control of their body, spending a sum of money to engage in this abusive activity. In start contrast to this, we were spending that night being controlled by the Spirit of God. We willingly submitted to the power of God to reach into our wallets to offer (not spend) money to God.

Think about the joy that both types of students experience from these two activities. One's joy is completely gone, a long forgotten thing of the past. Being overtaken by drugs, they might have done something stupid that lands them into a place that produces anything but joy.

The other's joy continues as they point to the God who did all this. They have something inside them that sustains them to pour their lives into others. The joy is stirred to an equal state every time they remember what God did through open wallets.

When we chose to let God work through us, we make a choice that lasts much longer than any other choice we can while here on earth. Choose to be used today.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sins and Confession

Consider the first 5 verses of Psalm 32.

"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'--and you forgave the guilt of my sin."
What strikes me is that forgiveness is extended in the OT. Even two nights ago in class someone talked about how forgiveness is new in the New Testament because they didn't have baptism in the OT. This is a common thought, especially in our heritage. In response to this comment during class, I was reminded of this passage (Psalm 32). I couldn't recall where it was, but I stumbled across it. [Total side note: Funny thing is that I should have read Psa 32 on Wed morning according to the Bible reading schedule. If I had, I would have been able to mention this when I taught class on Sunday night. That's what I get for getting behind in my reading.] sin and transgression is forgiven in OT. I even read that the guilt associated with sin is forgiven. Holy cow! How does this happen? Well, God is in the business of forgiving.

But here is what seems to happen BEFORE forgiven comes: acknowledgment of sin...confession of transgression. If this doesn't happen, we see the Psalmist (and I know this from personal experience) wasting away. His affliction was deep down to the bones. His strength was gone because of the weight of sin he was trying to carry as if he were hiding it from God.

Once we confess our sins to God, the weight of them is lifted. God is a gracious God. He will forgive. Your lack of honestly before God weighs down everything you (and myself included) can't fool God into thinking you are a good person. He knows. Confess it to him and let the healing begin.

Here is what I found in this Psalm this morning: be honest with God; even confess your sins to him or they will weigh you down so much that you are not an effective instrument for God to use.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


This morning I got up an extra hour early because Kayla had been waking up just as I sat down to read the Bible. Well...that hour came early sure enough. Right as I woke up and went to the bathroom, I entertained the thought of sleeping in another 30 minutes.

I sat on the edge of my bed trying to turn my attention toward God. Surprisingly enough, I was able to. But, I decided to put my head back on my pillow fully aware that this is what I was doing. Right as I did this a song came to my mind. "Jesus is tenderly calling...come home...come home...calling oh sinner come home." I don't know the song really well, but those verses kept coming to mind. I sat there for about 15 more seconds before another thought occurred to me: "I will keep you strong." More thoughts raced in my mind as I sat up in bed again. Am I going to die today? Can the Lord really keep me from being tired all day long? Doesn't the pillow sound so nice? Is Jesus calling me right now? Am I going to ignore that call to experience his presence.

I decided that I would spend the next 15 minutes being attentive to God. I kept hearing the song in my head, but it didn't bother me. As I sat there, I realized that expecting God to "show up" the first time I did this is ridiculous. After doing this every day for a while, I might be blessed with an incredible awareness of God's presence.

As I sat there on the edge of my bed, I was quiet before the Lord. He began my day. My tiredness quickly subsided. As I took a shower another cool series of thoughts occurred to me. "The home to which Jesus is calling me is the home of eternal life right now. It is home for Christians to know that their life really transcends this life that we think of as life. Life for Christians goes far beyond normal life. It is an eternal kind of life. It is a life in the presence of God right now. Jesus is calling me home to eternal life today. I can experience fullness of life today through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit."

The Lord will sustain my day because he is able. I look forward to doing this more often. May you be blessed.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Samson's Subservience

Every time I read the story of Samson, I am intrigued with how his story is connected with God's; throughout the narrative he is God's instrument. God uses his desire for a Philistine woman, for example, as a way to confront the Philistines (Judges 14:4). The spirit of the Lord comes on him when he is killing his enemies, the Philistines. The Lord opens a place for him to get water (15:19).

What strikes me is that Samson's life doesn't seem like the epitome of God's servants. He kills people right and left, the sleeps with a prostitute, and he defiles himself by touching an unclean lion carcass. But, even though this is the case, God is close to him. The Lord uses him for greater purposes. God has a plan and he carries it out in spite of Samson.

It reminds me of our relationship with God. Not that sin does not matter, but God uses us because his plans are bigger than us. It is an image that God uses sinners. Think about it...who else could he use? Non-sinners? No one on the face of the earth fits that description.

Let's fall to our knees praising God for him using us to accomplish his purposes in the world...sinners that we are.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Joseph and God

I am amazed at how God uses Joseph. I wouldn't want his life looking at the things that happen to him. His brothers try to kill him by throwing him into an empty cistern. Then they decide to get something out of it by selling him to Midianite merchants who take him to Egypt. Once there we see that the Lord was with him (Gen 39:2), but someone else is out to get him: a woman. Because of her position with the powers that be, she returned Joseph's refusal to sleep with her with prison time. But, "the Lord was with him" (Gen 39:21, 23). There is more, but this is what I was reading this morning.

When I read this story, I always wonder how Joseph felt during these things. Did he just accept it? Did he lose his cool? Did he try to defend himself? Surely there was some of that...he was human.

I would be bummed about this stuff happening to me. Sure, I would probably get over it and accept it because I couldn't do anything else, but I would still be bummed about it.

This story, however, encourages me to know that God can be with us. In fact, he IS with us if we are Christians. God is not just watching our situation from a distance. He is WITH us in the situation. We have received God's Spirit and he resides in us. Our bodies are his temple (1 Cor 6:19-20). Be encouraged today. God is with you in your trials, not just watching you.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

God did it!

As I was growing in the Lord, I felt like lashing out at God at times. At least those were my initial thoughts, but then I came to my "spiritual senses" and refrained from saying such things against God.

This morning when I read Job 19, I am confronted with a man who could truly blame God. God was the one who did it. Here Job says it. "...God has wronged me and drawn his net around me....He has blocked my way so I cannot pass...he has stripped me of my honor...he tears me down on every side...I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth...the hand of God has struck me."

Unlike my comments recently about Ruth, the story of Job tells us that it WAS God who did all these things. So Job is rightly directing his comments toward the divine.

I am encouraged to direct my objections toward matter how harsh they may seem. God can handle it. I am honestly opening my whole self to him. I am not acting as if I don't think these thoughts. In time, because of my honesty, I might understand more of what happened or I might not.

A word of caution about honesty: I have seen people use 'honesty' as an excuse to continue to be bitter and hateful, even reject God altogether. Honesty as I see it always needs to be accompanied with love. I love God; therefore, I am honest with him (even when it hurts). I don't think the bitterness and hatred should remain in a healthy relationship with God...that will produce a chasm that might hurt the relationship. Honesty is a by-product of the love in the relationship. Bitterness and hate can be just doesn't remain.

Gotta address this: The question of 'why' continue to linger throughout the story. Job demands an answer of God, though he will never get one. In the end we see Job saying...never mind...I don't want an answer. Perhaps we can get to a place in our relationship with God where we say the same. I probably say more about this as the story continues.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dwell in the House of the Lord

Psalm 27:4 - "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."

When I read this entire Psalm, I get the sense that the psalmist had an intensely close relationship with God. No matter what was happening he never waivered from his trust in the Lord. It was in the Lord that he found his well-being, not in the circumstances of life. In due time, the Lord would come through.

Dwelling with the Lord gives me an image of contentment. If I dwell at someone's house, I have bags packed and am staying a while. It is not like one of those, "Hey, I'm just stopping by to say hello." It is one of those visits that says, "I want to know what it is like living here." We are dwelling with the Lord in contentment.

Let's make an effort today, this week, this month, this year, and this decade to dwell with the Lord.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Perspective on Life

The small book of Ruth is a great little book in the Bible. When I read it today I found myself drawn to how Naomi looks at life. Her husband and two sons die. One daughter-in-law leaves and the other, Ruth, commits to stay with her. Even as she tries to convince her daughters to leave, she blames God saying, "It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord's hand has gone out against me." (1:13)

A little later, she doesn't even want to be called Naomi (which means 'pleasant'), but Mara (which means 'bitter') "because the Almighty has made my life very bitter." Again she places God at the center of blame. And she doesn't stop there. She continues:

"I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me."

Who can blame her, right? Her world, her identity, her well-being is threatened without the men in her life.

But that is when God uses the most unlikely person, Ruth, to bring his blessing upon Naomi. By the end of the book we see Naomi as the one who all the other women talk about. They are the ones who see God working. God is still alive. He has not abandoned her. "The woman said to Naomi: "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer..." (4:14)

Sometimes our circumstances force us to blame God. "How can God...?" "God is against me..." "God has abandoned me..." While this is okay for a season, God continues to work. It is good to read Naomi's story. It is good to know that friends are there to point you back to the Lord. He will hear your cry. He has not left you without. Take courage...God is faithful.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Giving to God

A thought occurred to me today. Why do we always seem to ask, "How much do I have to give to God?" It is as if we need some reason to not give a little something so we can keep that little something for ourselves. Oh how selfish my motivations can be!

I am struck this morning by Jesus' statement to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:15ff. Though there are definitely political overtones to them asking whether they should pay taxes to Caesar or not, they were worried about maintaining their own well-being as the religious leaders of the time. Jesus saw right through their duplicity.

He also struck at the heart of their objection...keeping a little something for themselves. They wanted to have the best, the honor of the people, the respect of the people, the appearance of true righteousness. In all, they wanted God out of the picture because they were busy showing off themselves.

When Jesus says, "Give to Caesar's what is Caesar's, and to God's what is God's" he made a spiritual challenge to a political challenge. The Pharisee's challenged his political allegiances to the government. In response Jesus called them on their spiritual commitment to God. In essence, Jesus told them to decide what is best to give knowing that they were holding their political allegiances high. From the perspective of the crowd, the Pharisee's already told were their allegiances lay...

The following chapter confirms some of Jesus' thoughts in this regard. The pronounces "woes" to the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Their own hypocrisy condemns them as they miss the true point of what it means to give to God.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Feeling Down Spiritually?

We have all had those times in our life when we don't really feel connected with God. There are a ton of reasons why this happens, but mostly it seems to be connected with me focusing on myself. All of my energy is fixed on me. It could be sin that I am consumed with; it could be my selfish endeavor's that ignore others. Whatever it is, "me" is definitely involved.

How do we begin to get ourselves connected with God again? I am convinced that it is by pouring our life into other people. I can't wait to do this for the first time with a student. Read on.

Say a student walks into my office telling me about how bad things are in her or his life. "This part of my life is bad, this is worse, don't ask me about that, and school is crushing all of it." For this past year I have spent a lot of time talking through these things with students in an effort of help them get connected with God. I think God has done some good things for students in these conversations. But, I'm not going to do that as much from now on. It is not that I am not going to talk with students at all. No way! I'm just not going to do it as much. This is what I will do instead. I will ask her or him: "Do you have 20 minutes?" "Yeah" "Okay, come with me." Then we will travel to a nearby nursing home or hospital. I will tell this student to spend about 15 minutes just talking to people, maybe praying with them. These students will then begin to re-connect with God.

When we pour our lives into other people we begin to do exactly what God wants us to do. He is a God who serves others. He washes feet like a servant. He will use us. All we have to do is put ourselves in situations to be used. We can hardly do that when we are consumed with ourselves.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Downloads

I just put up some desktop images on the KFC website. Since I am just starting, I am not thinking too many people will be interested in them. I guess we will see. It sure is fun and rewarding for me. Here is the site:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Attractive Fruit

Reading the Word
You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? (Matthew 7:16)

Reflecting on the Word
If grapes weren't delicious people wouldn't eat them and the seeds would never be spread. Think about it. When we walk along a path, eating grapes, we spit out the seeds. All along beside the path these seeds will germinate and new vines will be born.
In the biology of the Christian faith, seeds are wrapped in attractive fruit. If a vine bore only naked seeds, nobody would pick them. Everyone who wants to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is expected to bear fruit. This does not mean that we all have to be successful in bringing many people to the point of decision to become a Christian. It means our lives have to bear the taste, the fragrance, or the nourishment that makes people appreciate what we are and what we have to give. The people we work with, the members of our family or Sunday school class, should sense the pleasure and benefit of being with us. They should know that the flavor of our life comes from our abiding in Jesus Christ.
One day something may trigger the beginning of new life in someone you know who has tasted the flavor of Jesus through contact with you. We may not ever know how or when it happens. But it will be the germination of a seed that was planted because your own personal life was delicious.
Paul Brand, The Forever Feast

Responding to the Word
We give thanks for the harvest of the heart's work;
Seeds of faith planted with faith;
Love nurtured by love;
Courage strengthened by courage.
We give thanks for the fruits of the struggling soul,
The bitter and the sweet;
For that which has grown in adversity
And for that which has flourished in warmth and grace;
For the radiance of the spirit in autumn
And for that which must now fade and die.
We are blessed and give thanks.
Michael Leunig, The Prayer Tree

Monday, June 12, 2006


Reading the Word
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Reflecting on the Word
The path of discipleship is narrow, and it is fatally easy to miss one's way and stray from the path, even after years of discipleship. And it is hard to find. On either side of the narrow path deep chasms yawn. To be called to a life of extraordinary quality, to live up to it, and yet to be unconscious of it is indeed a narrow way. To confess and testify to the truth as it is in Jesus, and at the same time to love the enemies of that truth, his enemies and ours, to love them with the infinite love of Jesus Christ, is indeed a narrow way. To believe the promise of Jesus that his followers shall possess the earth, and at the same time to face our enemies unarmed and defenseless, preferring to incur injustice rather than to do wrong ourselves, is indeed a narrow way. To see the weakness and wrong in others, and at the same time refrain from judging them; to deliver the gospel message without casting pearls before swine, is indeed a narrow way. The way is unutterably hard, and at every moment we are in danger of straying from it. If we regard this way as one we follow in obedience to an external command, if we are afraid of ourselves all the time, it is indeed an impossible way. But if we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step, we shall not go astray. But if we worry about the dangers that beset us, if we gaze at the road instead of at him who goes before, we are already straying from the path. For he is himself the way, the narrow way and the strait gate. He, and he alone is our journey's end.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer -The Cost of Discipleship

Responding to the Word
Help me to consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that I might not grow weary and lose heart. Help me keep vivid in my mind the extraordinary life He lived, His calmness with controversy. His storminess with hypocrisy. His authority in teaching. His humility in serving. His quickness with compassion. His slowness with condemnation. His readiness in defending others. His reluctance in defending Himself. His joy at unexpected faith. His sorrow at unbelief. His submission to the Father. His resistance to the Devil. His daring in the way He lived. His dignity in the way He died.
Thank you, O God, for the steps Jesus left behind, so clear and distinct and unswerving. And so impossible...unless my eyes are ever and always only on Him.
Ken Gire

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Word

Reading the Word
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord from the stomach of the fish, and he said, "I called out of my distress to the Lord, and he answered me. I cried for help from the depths of the grave, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me."

Reflecting on the Word
We become what we are called to be by praying. And we start out by praying from the belly of the fish.
The belly of the fish is a place of confinement, a tight, restricted place. The ship to Tarshish was headed for the western horizon--limitless expanses of sea with the lure of the mysterious and beckoning unknown through the Straits of Gibraltar and beyond. The Gates of Hercules. Atlantis. Hesperides. Ultima Thule.
Religion always plays on these sublime aspirations, these erotic drives for completion and wholeness. Jonah, heady with this potent elixir and cruising confidently under full sails, the sea breeze and salt tang deepening the sensory anticipation of a thrilling life in the service of God, found himself instead in the belly of the fish...the unattractive opposite to everything Jonah had set out for.
-Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant

Responding to the Word
My prayers, God, flow from what I am not;
I think thy answers make me what I am.
Like weary waves thought flows upon thought,
But the still depth beneath is all thine own,
And there thou mov'st in paths to us unknown.
Out of the strange strife thy peace is strangely wrought;
If the lion in us pray--thou answerest the lamb.
-George MacDonald

Thursday, May 18, 2006

First Wedding

Tomorrow night I am performing my first wedding. I am really excited! I thought I would be more nervous than I am right now. I hope there are some nerves that come, so that I know I am normal. I bet I will be more nervous once I do all the rehearsal stuff tonight. We will see, I guess. Either way, I am not worried about it because the focus really is not on me, but on Kyle and Jessica, as it should be.

Only the proud minister thinks that a wedding (or even a sermon, class, or something else) is about him. Lord, continue to guide me in journeying in your path. Keep us safe as we travel. Amen!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ministry to My Family

Well, I mentioned that last night was a good reminder for me in regard to my marriage. Something happened in my mind last night for the first time. It wasn't the first time I thought about it, but it was the first time I actually pictured what it would look like. Let me explain.

I have said before that my family is my ministry. When I said this, my mind thought about spending time with them doing family things, being around the house, going out occasionally, and just being ourselves. That is what I "do" for this ministry.

Here is the shift that happened last night: if my family is my ministry, then I need to minister to my family. This may seem like a simple observation and obvious to some, but it is not so obvious when you are at home with your family. I thought that ministering to my family was just being myself. This is true because I always want to "be myself." But, I can't just let down my guard and say whatever thoughts come to my mind. I can't just vent my frustrations when they first come. I can't "go on pause," so to speak, when I am at home. I still need to be a minister.

At the Student Center, I would never think about venting to a student I am mentoring. If I did, I believe and pray that it would be done in a very pastoral and wise way. Why do I think that I can have this freedom at home? That is unfair to my bride and my little girl.

I need to work at home. I can't just go on pause and offer my raw self to my family thinking that this is ministry to my family. I must intentionally be the minister and leader of our family.

That is not to say I can't express emotions or be real with my family. No way! It is to say that I use pastoral care and ministry skills when I do so.

I pray that the Lord enable me to stay focused as I begin to intentionally minister to my family.


It really is important to understand my wife's needs. As I have been getting ready to do a wedding this coming Friday, I am reminded that it is not always about other people doing the things that I say. The message I bring is for me too. Imagine that!

I need to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I need to look for opportunities to forgive my wife without waiting for her to do it first. This makes for a great message for others at times, but how am I doing?

Last night was a good reminder for me to continue to pump energy into my marriage. Help me, Lord, as I learn to be a better husband.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wed Class-Summer 2006

I have been crazily busy lately...hence why I have not posted in a LONG time.

At the Student Center, we have ended on a positive note. I think that the classes we went through this semester have been good. The feedback has been encouraging.

I am really looking forward to the summer though, specifically on our Wednesday night class. As I sent out feelers to see what students thought, I was somewhat surprised by the positive response. This is a good thing.

We are going to be having a class entitled "The Story of God in the Bible." I have found that so many students recognize stories in the Bible. Generally, they know the characters and what happens. Once you get into specifics, they haven't read the stories enough, if at all, to know little nuances. With that said, students (and maybe even many adults in our churches) cannot tell you how all the stories are connected. They know Moses and they know Joseph, but they don't know the relation between the two. Why are the people of Israel called the Israelites? Why is the book of Ruth important for Israel? Why did the exile happen? What is the exile? Where does God fit into all these discussions?

These are the types of things that will help us as we read the stories on our own time. If I pick a book in the Bible to read, what is happening around it to make it the book it is?

Ultimately, I want the students to be able to tell someone the story of God in 5 minutes. This is what God has done. I want the students to be able to tell how they fit into the story of God as well. Here is where I am. There is definitely an evangelistic element to what I want to happen in the class. We will see how it goes.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Have Mercy

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

I read this morning from Habakkuk. He was complaining about how the Lord, who was so pure and without evil, would use the Babylonians, who were so high on themselves, to execute judgment. The Lord assured him that they would get theirs; they would not escape wrath. The last chapter of Habakkuk is a prayer of his. He says, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” This last phrase struck me: “in wrath remember mercy.”

I so many times forget to fall before God asking for mercy. It is only through his mercy that I can live at all. With the sin that is so prevalent in our country we need the mercy of God. I so easily think to myself, “You know...I have been doing pretty good for the past week or so in regard to sin.” This tends to lead me to think that I am cool with God and somehow don’t need to ask for mercy. “I haven’t really sinned recently,” I might think, “so I don’t need to ask for mercy.” How small a thinking we have! We need to always keep our station before us. We are sinners in need of the mercy of God. To remember this all the time keeps us humble not only before the Almighty God, but also before our fellow humans.

Someone reading this might have thought to themselves when reading the first paragraph, “What in the world has he done? No one says these things without having sinned big time.” This person would be right. We tend to spread our sins out over our lifetime. They don’t look that bad if we do this. But, if I were to pull all my sins together to where I could see them all at once, I would realize how much I need the mercy of God.

Lord, as I walk today. Keep before the attitude that I am a sinner in need of your grace. Even Paul was able to keep his sins before him, to the point of calling himself ‘the worst of sinners.’ Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Light of the World

I let my reflection on Jesus' I AM statements slip a little this week. I didn't think about the next one ("I am the light of the world") in John 8:12 until this morning.

This is a statement that is an obvious concept, but hard to seek. The movies even portray darkness as something evil: in dark alleys people get mugged; evil villains come out at night; dark clothes convey bad behavior. While they portray darkness in a bad light (get it?), they also show light as something associated with goodness: crime deceases in daytime; vampires will die in the light; the hero wears white clothes.

As familiar as this image is, I am amazed at how Jesus says, "Whoever follows me will NEVER walk in darkness." Are you sure that I will never walk in darkness? "Yes," Jesus would say, "because you will have the light of life; you have me."

As physical trouble (and "darkness") might surround those who belong to Jesus, they continue to walk in light because they follow Jesus' light-filled path. It might look dark, but it is not. Christians follow the path that is filled with hope; it is filled with life. They have eternal life that goes beyond the circumstances in which they find themselves. Despite the circumstances, they have 'the light of life,' that is, Jesus.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Nice Teeth Dude, part 2

Well, I went to the dentist. It is kindof embarrassing. Nothing wrong with my tooth. All that was there was a little shell of a kernel from popcorn. I can't believe that this was all there was. The swelling is completely gone. Funny how a small little piece of food sitting where it is not supposed to be can disrupt everything. Gums swell, schedules change, money spent, and altogether not much fun in the end.

Makes me think about how a little sin in your life (somewhere where it is not supposed to be) can disrupt everything. Egos swell, God's plans change, money wasted, and altogether not much fun in the end.

Lord, keep us away from the destructive nature of sin. It does not belong in our life. I finish with Paul's admonition to the Roman church (Rom 6:11-13): "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him an instruments of righteousness."

Nice Rain

Last night brought a lot of rain for us. The thunder and lightening woke me up early this morning. We needed it though. Right now the windows are open, and the cool day is very refreshing.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us seasons of heat and seasons of coolness. Even in our own lives we know that the heat will not continue forever. There will be times of refreshing. May we cherish those times as we cherish our own lives. Keep filling us with your Spirit who refreshes our soul. Amen!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Nice Teeth Dude

My tooth is killing me. Last night I woke up at 4:30 or so because our dog, Chica, was wanting outside. I could hardly go back to sleep because of the pain in the back of my mouth around one of my molars. Even now it hurts as I swallow. The pain when I swallow is like the pain of swallowing when I have a sore throat. I don't understand that. All I know is that it hurts...bad.

Teeth have never been something that I take care of. I don't floss. I am doing good if I remember to brush my teeth before going to bed. But that is getting easier because Tanya brushes her teeth for about 45 minutes before she goes to bed, so I have plenty of time to be reminded. Sometimes, though, I am just too tired to put out the effort of brushing my teeth, so I don't (it will wait until the morning).

In the back of my head, I know that I should take care of my teeth if I want to keep them. But, in the moment, it seems like something I can put off. Now I am experiencing the pain of that choice. It seemed like such a small choice over a long period of time, but now it seems like a small choice that I should have chosen to do. I wish I could have been smarter.

All is not lost, however. I can use this as a way to encourage the small choices that I make in my spiritual discipline. It is a small choice to spend 5 minutes in serious prayer. Over a long period of time a real relationship begins to form with my Lord, and in a true moment of need a prayer can be answered quickly.

It is a small choice to give a complement, but this small choice changes the whole environment of the group with which you identify. The group feels more encourages and god-like. How much energy is spent on giving a complement?

It is a small choice to read 5 chapters in the Bible every day. As you do this, it increases your understanding of God's will in your life and decisions that you make become somewhat more effortless. The word of God "is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness."

It is a small choice to listen to your spouse or someone else in need. But, as you do this, you begin to nourish a relationship that God can use for His glory. The focus then turns toward God rather than your own selfishness.

So many little choices that prevent bad tooth problems. Let's brush our teeth today...multiple times.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bread of Life 3

It occurred to me that we cannot live without food (duh!). If we do not eat, we die. Jesus talks in a spiritual manner saying that if we do not eat of the spiritual food of Jesus, who comes from the Father, then we will die spiritually. There is part of me that already knew this, but I guess my growing desire to commune with God intimately throughout the day has made this 'eating of the bread of life' more real. The life I have in Christ is only made possible because of the ever-growing relationship I have with him. How could I not eat from the bread of life and still live?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bread of Life 2

The connection between Jesus' statements about being the bread of life and communion are pretty obvious. Especially since John is the only gospel writer who does not mention the Last Supper with his disciples. So, for most (myself included), John 6 functions as John's "Last Supper" or "communion" passage.

Thinking in terms of the Lord's Supper we see that Jesus' statements take on a new and fuller meaning. As we learn to identify with Jesus by "coming to him" and "believing in him" we begin follow through with this identity in how we live. We take on the flesh and blood of Jesus in living out his life on earth now. This is the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood that repulses those literalists in Jesus' day (cf. 6:53-60).

Every Sunday we recommit ourselves to identify with Jesus' death as we take the Lord's Supper. In this act, we receive the bread that truly sustains us. It is the bread of life. It is Jesus' body and blood that we proclaim keeps us going. It is the hope of eternal life right now that sustains the life we live.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Weeds revisited

I posted a blog fairly recently about weeds and their application to weeds in my life. Tonight, I preached a sermon about weeds. I used the text of Hebrews 12:1b-2a to really focus on how to get rid of the weeds in our life. I just decided this, but I am going to post my sermon text for those who are interested. Some of it is a repeat of the earlier blog, but it is only 1.5 pages in Word. I expanded in many places where I felt led, but the general idea is captured in my script. I hope you enjoy.

--Sermon given Sunday night, April 16, 2006--
1. Weed Story
Tanya and I like to joke around with each other. One time, probably about a three months ago, Tanya came from letting Chica (our little toy poodle) in and said that I need to do something about those trees out in our backyard. I laughed out loud because I knew exactly what she was talking about. We just have one real tree in our yard. She was not talking about that. She was talking about those weeds in our yard that were about this high at the time. I thought it was hilarious.

Like many males in our world, I said, “yeah, I need to do something about that,” but I didn’t give too much thought to when I would actually get out the chain saw to cut those suckers down. By the way…this is not good if you are trying to work on your relationship with your spouse (don’t just say sure to get someone off your back). Up until about two months ago, this was a ongoing joke that Tanya and I had between us. Every now and then I would let Chica in and tell Tanya that I almost didn’t find her. It was a great joke. I loved it.

But, about two months ago, I finally decided to tackle this job I was not looking forward to. I got out there and realized that this is not going to be your normal, everyday weed-pullin job. I got serious. I got my gloves on and everything. So, I went to town. Now, you know that this is a big weed-pullin job when you actually think about keeping your back straight so you don’t pull a muscle. And that’s what I was doing. This is a big job!

But, I didn’t finish the job without getting hurt. By the time I finish pulling all these suckers up, my nose is dripping so bad I can’t look down because this huge snot string begins to gush out. At this point, I decide it wuld be best not to mow the will wait for tomorrow. So, I go inside, take a shower, get out, and look down at my arms. They are broken out all over. They are puffy red with welts all over them. And these aren’t your small, ordinary welts. These are big! I can't believe I am actually looking at my own arms! So I call Mark Waldron, end up taking TWO Benadryl (not just one), and I am out! So, I learned a lesson: Get rid of your weeds…early. Don’t let them grow…or they may become so big that they wound you worse than me.

2. Weed Lesson – Why do I tell you this story tonight?

Because all of us have weeds growing in our life. They are just sitting there unattended, minding their own business. I let a bad thought linger in my mind; I quietly let my anger build as I 'valiently' remain quiet when I feel wronged; I just explode every once in a while (its not all the time); I fill my eyes with unproductive TV; I listen to music that would make my mother blush; I have an extra cookie or five when I know I don't need them; I go ahead and have another coke when I know I probably sould drink water instead. All these weeds I just let grow ever so slowly. You won’t notice them if you are looking at them. Then, all of a sudden, they are bigger than I am…these innocent little weeds that I have not attended to. When I finally try to tackle them, [pause] they leave marks that don't go away quickly. I must suffer through my choice to let these weeds grow so big...there is no way around them or the affects they had on my battle against them. But I have got to get rid of them. I’ve got to start somewhere

Let us pull up the weeds of sin that so easily entangle us. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a).

“It is an innocent little show on MTV. They even bleep out the words so I don’t hear them, but, yeah, I still know what they said. That kind of language is not something I say. It really doesn’t affect me at all does it?”

“It is an innocent little sporting event where I just happen to look a little too close at those nice lookin’ women. I mean this is public TV isn’t it. There are regulations here. Those images are okay aren’t they.”

“I’m just listening to the music and the beat, but the words don’t really affect me very much. I might drive a little faster when I listen or I might ignore my parents cause ‘They just don’t understand’, but it doesn’t affect me does it?”

“You don’t understand what he said to me. He obviously cares nothing about me or else he would not say those things. I can’t open myself up to him again until he apologizes! You would be angry for longer than I have been if someone said these hurtful words to you, wouldn’t you!”

“This dessert tastes so good. I mean…I know I shouldn’t have any more; I’m stuffed already, but its really not going hurt that much to have one more little bowl, right?”

Repeat for last time: “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

3. The Challenge

What weed are you going to choose to tackle tonight? There is something there that is growing slowly. God is telling you what it is right now. He is whispering that you need to tackle it…that weed that is just sitting there unattended…you need to do something. Maybe you have tried to start, but realized just how big the project was, felt discouraged, and gave up.

What do you need to do? You need to start by fixing your eyes on Jesus, the one who is helping write your story. He is the author of your faith. You need to fix your eyes on the one who is making you better…stronger. He is the perfector of your faith. Jesus is where you start.

He knows what you are going through. He has been tempted in every way, just as we are; yet he was without sin. Jesus is where you start.

He gave his life so that you can start tackling your weeds. He lives so that you can live. He shows you how real living goes…without weeds choking out life.

Cry out to him. Call out and say, “Lord, I need you. I can’t handle it alone. Come near me and rescue me.”

We are not alone; you are not alone. All of us here have had struggles with our own weeds. We need each other. I want to pray for you. I want you to come down here right now so that we can pray.

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Bread of Life 1

Well, here are some of my initial observations on Jesus' statement in John 6. Most of it is going to be text focus, which is where most reflection begins for me anyway.

I notice that the people are drawn to Jesus because they ate bread and were full; the feeding of the five thousand just happened at the beginning of the chapter. They at least recognize that Jesus can provide for them, even though it is physically motivated on banal needs.

Jesus takes advantage of this opportunity to do a little teaching on the true nature of the food that he offers. This is bread that endures to eternal life. He changes their slightly misplaced focus from Moses to God: " is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father" (6:32). They like the proposal and ask Jesus to not give them something he has already given them (physical bread), but to give them this bread that gives life to the world (6:33-34).

It is at this point that Jesus makes the emphatic statement, "I (not someone or something else) am the bread of life." I can't get past how Jesus says that 'coming to him' (whatever that means) will allay their hunger and 'believing in him' (whatever that means) will assuage their thirst. The presence of Christ in their life will actually take away their hunger and their thirst.

When I really think about this, I want this. To know (and beyond experience) God's presence in such a deep and real way is something for which I passionately long. The only way that I can describe it in words is to be caught up in the Spirit, to be overwhelmed with God's holiness. It forces me to fall down to my knees. I can't help but be taken and shaken, yet firmly established in the hands of the one called 'The Bread of Life.'

Father, continue to help me understand Jesus statement here in John 6. Reveal the depth of this statement to me. It seems a little hidden and I don't understanding it completely. But, I know that you are the revealer of all mysteries. Help open my eyes to this bread from heaven.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


In a conversation with Doug, our Youth Minister at church, I felt compelled to do some meditation on God's word over a period of weeks or months. Because he was taking one of the beatitudes a week on which to meditate I felt like I couldn't just copy him, as good as that would be.

This morning I was reading through Psalm 119. Anyone who does this even halfway awake cannot miss how meditating on God's word is something to be sought after. One particular section (Psalm 119:97-104), which happens to be the 'M' section, really encouraged me to take this meditation that Doug mentioned seriously. "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long."

So, I decided to meditate on Jesus' 'I am' statements in John over the next month or two. I will take one a week to do some meditation and reflection. Be ready to read about my thoughts every now and then on these things. The first one is in John 6 regarding the Bread of Life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

ONE Campus-wide Worship Service

Last Monday night, we had the opportunity to participate in a campus-wide worship service that has been in the works for a little bit. A student (Nathan) from the Wesley Foundation (Methodist Student Center) was really the driving force for making this happen. It was really good to see him not lose heart and really make it happen; I am glad that he stepped up to the challenge.

I really didn't know what Kats for Christ was going to do doing this service even though it was for us to decide. It didn't take much reflection on it to decide though. We were going to sing a few songs a cappella. There might have been a half of second hesitation on my part for two reasons. One, I knew most of the people there would not be accustomed to singing a cappella and we would probably follow a band (great!!). And two, I didn't know if our group would actually want to show up to sing. But, like I said, that only lasted like half a second.

In the end, I didn't want the focus to be on us or on our music. I didn't want to perform songs for all these other students. I did want to bring these other students to a place where they could encounter God through a cappella singing. The focus should be and was on worshiping our God together with other Christian groups.

We ended up being the last group to go. When Nathan came to tell me he was almost apologetic, but I didn't care where we were. As I got to thinking about it (and I said this before we started the first song), we were like the end of many instrumental worship songs I hear on the radio. In these songs the music typically stops and you just offer up your voices to God. I think it was fitting that we were at the end after all the other groups, stripped before God with nothing but our voices and hearts.

I was caught up in praises to him as we sang, but the few times I opened my eyes to see the students before us I saw their hearts exploding with praises to him. It was a wonderful thing to see. Nathan came in just a minute ago and even affirmed what I saw on Monday night. Many people thought it was a fitting way to end the evening.

I praise you Lord for this time. I pray that you were and continue to be glorified in our worship to you. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. May you draw people to yourself as we lift you up. Amen.