Friday, March 31, 2006

Draw from the Waters

I ran across a proverb this morning that I want to process. Proverb 20:5 says, "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out."

When I have read this proverb in the past, I haven't spent too much time on it thinking about it. As I look at it I see a couple of things. First, all kinds of stuff passes through my brain every single day. Some things are worth talking about and other things are not (nor should I). When I start thinking about the things that are deep down, I know that there are some real meaningful things. I think about my relationship with God, my relationship with Tanya, with Kayla, with family, with friends, with students, with all kinds of people. If I go further, I begin thinking about my prayer life, times of meditations, and lessons that I learn that can only be from God. The longer I sit down, the better I begin to understand how deep into my heart I can go.

This leads to the second thing I notice: I need to be intentional about going through this process. While I understand why it happens, sometimes I don't know why I don't spend time every day reflecting on things in my life or going down to draw from the deep water. All I know is that my intentional efforts to reflect on things in my life lead me to a place where I can be more sensitive to the moving of God in my life.

That is what I noticed this morning as I read this section of the Proverbs.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Nancy Grace's Church of Christ

I don't think I have ever posted anything about news-related stuff, but when it involves discussion about the Church of Christ I feel compelled. Last night I happened to be watching Nancy Grace on CNN who was talking about the Church of Christ preacher's wife in Tennessee who shot her husband. Nancy said that she didn't know much about the Church of Christ; I appreciate her honesty. But then she brings on a Baptist preacher (probably from the same small town in TN) to tell us what the Church of Christ is all about. I understand that it was a small town, but you would think that you go to a minister of the same denomination to find out what they believe. It was almost comical the caricature that this Baptist portrayed. I am not sure, but I wonder (just now) if his experience was with the International Church of Christ...who knows. He did mention something about methods of intimidation and pressure tactics. That sounds odd to me, but oh well...that is what he said.

The things he said remind me of an antiquated sentiment within our heritage. Mentioning baptism he said (I found the transcript), "Well, they claim that if you`re not baptized by one of their ministers, that you`re doomed to hell, even if you`re a believer in Jesus Christ..." I guess I am in trouble as a minister of the Church of Christ according to his picture since I was baptized in the Baptist Church.

I did feel compelled to write them a pretty positive email encouraging them to do good research. It won't take long to find out that their representation of the Church of Christ was very poorly done. Even though our heritage brings autonomy to the local congregation, I encouraged them to look at churches in Abilene and Nashville.

Overall, I hope that this trial does not end up causing many Churches of Christ unnecessary grief or hardship in spreading the news of Jesus Christ, who does save by grace through faith (that is in Romans and Ephesians by the way).

Monday, March 27, 2006

Worship Surprise

Last night we had our Mexico presentation to the congregation. The college students sang songs, led prayers, and service at the table. I gave the lesson.

I changed things up a bit from the norm, and I got a tremendous response that I was not expecting. Honestly, in my mind, I didn't think that things were changed up that much. I speak in Spanish for about 5 minutes before my lesson, but we sang a song in Spanish, I led a prayer in Spanish, and then I read a passage in Spanish. This might have loosened people up more than I thought it would. Also, we didn't have our normal closing prayer, I led a benediction. I guess you can call these things, little surprises in worship that allow God to show up.

People came up to me telling me that they felt so refreshed during the services. I can only praise God for this and thank Him, because he was the one who came near them during the service. It would be easy for me to say, "I did this." But this is really far from the truth. That is why I tell these people, "Praise God" and "Thank you for your encouragement."

This just confirms something that I already know (and our elders do least somewhat): our worship services need a little help. I will probably be posting more thoughts on this matter, but I need to be clear. While I addmitedly and wrongly think it is solely up to the worship committee to do all the helping, the help is not going to be in manufacturing some fantastic service that wows the crowd. It is going to be in a revival of God's people. It is going to be in God's real presence being made known in our worship services. It is going to be by God's power that our worship services are revived. With this, I offer a prayer.

Heavenly Father, help me to grow in my compassion for helping people experience your presence in their lives. Use me as an instrument to revive the souls in our congregation. Use me to pump your Spirit into our college students. I don't know how you will do this, but let me know what you want me to do. Teach me to compassionately pray for others. Amen.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Crying is for Wimps

Woke up yesterday morning just fine...or so I thought. Apparently, I had a little bitty piece of calcium getting caught somewhere between my kidneys and my bladder. AKA...a kidney stone. I cannot describe the pain that I was in, but I will say that I cried. I don't think tears came that I think about it...there were tears.

Why is it that men tend to say that crying is for wimps? This emotion is something that God gave as a normal human expression. People cry. This is not something to be ashamed of or that someone should try to suppress all the time. It is actually freeing when we cry because the emotion we tend to feel during these times cannot be expressed in anything other way except by tears...and it is okay.

I can understand the reaction that "non-crying" men have. They do not want to be perceived as one of those women who can't control their emotions all the time. We see them on TV all over the place. So, this crying business is a supposed sign of weakness.

This is were I disagree. Crying is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. You show those around you that you feel pain, that you have emotions, that you can express them like everyone else on the face of the planet. Everyone does this, and strong men show their vulnerability.

Father, help me to be real with all my emotions. I know that you have shed many a tear over us. I know that you have been angry with us and shown it. I know that you are filled with joy at times. I know that you have emotions that I cannot completely know. Lord, help me to be real today.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


It is such a good thing to have good conversations with those to whom you have felt disconnected. Last night I had a wonderful conversation with my mom. I know it might be weird, but there has been something there that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Maybe Christmas, maybe Thanksgiving, maybe Tanya, maybe Kayla, maybe something else. Something was weird. Well, we were just able to talk about stuff. We weren't mean; we weren't defensive; we weren't blaming anyone; we weren't doing anything...except talking...reconnecting. I look forward to talking to her again today.

I praise you, Father, that you have helped me connect again with my mom. Your streams of living water are now flowing in our relationship.

Let me ask you now...who do you need to re-connect with? Do it now before you don't have the chance.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Well we are back from Mexico. I must say that it is good to be home. I really missed my bride and my daughter. Next year (I have already told Tanya) she is going with us.

I have committed to taking my Spanish to another level. Because I was put in the situation during our trip as one of the only translators, my inadequacy was made very obvious. While I was still able to communicate effectively, all my weak areas came to the front. Thus, I need to slowly take it to the next level. At least 5 times a week I will read an article in Spanish making sure I understand every little aspect of the language. At least 5 times a week I will watch at least 30 minutes of a TV show in Spanish (preferably the news). At least 5 times a week I will also be reading out loud the Bible in Spanish. Finally, I will only speak to Kayla in Spanish. I might even throw in learning 10 new words a week. So, I will be refining my skills in comprehension, listening, and speaking.

I pray that slowly I will refine my skills in Spanish.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Guitar Worship

Yesterday I picked up my guitar for the first time in a long while. I had forgotten how much this nourished my need to worship God from my heart with something besides just my voice. I am amazed how the presence of God comes so close as I allow Him to move my fingers on the guitar. I can just play one chord over and over and go deeper and deeper into the presence of God. I can't explain how it happens; all I know is that it happens. As the chords sound on the guitar, so God's presence sounds on my heart. Perhaps this is how king Saul felt when David played for him.

Continue to guide me, Lord, deeper into your presence through these moments of worship.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Intimacy Discussion

I must admit that I was a little nervous about last night's class. Even though we were splitting up into guys and girls groups, I didn't know what to expect...and this made me nervous. Everything was for nothing because both classes went great. Tanya and I stayed up pretty late last night (at least late for us) talking about general things each group discussed. I was happy that both groups had good discussion about the topic of sex, intimacy, honeymoon stuff.

What makes me even more bust-my-excitement-button-right-off excited is that two of our elders were able to talk openly about their own marriages and offer words of advice to young men and women in our college ministry! We need this so much! There are not too many elderships (that I know of anyway) who are so committed to college students as to dedicate themselves to discussing a topic that destroys so many marriages

Praise you, Lord, for putting this opportunity into our lap and giving us the courage to follow through with it. Amen.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Monster Weeds

I finally got around to pulling up some gargantuan weeds in our yard. Some of these monsters were taller than I am. I am embarrassed that I let them get this big this winter. I guess I am not used to weeds growing like this where I came from, especially in the winter when you do not need to maintain the yard. Well, I learned something.

By the time I was almost finished pulling all these suckers up, my nose was dripping so bad that I decided not to mow the yard would wait until tomorrow. So, I went inside and took a shower. When I got out I looked down at my arms, and they were puffy red with welts all over them. I couldn't believe it! I guess I got into something that broke me out. If i would have just maintained the yard all winter, I would not be full of Benadryl right now about to fall asleep. Guess I am learning my lesson.

This reminds me of times in my life when I innocently let the weeds stay. 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 fill my eyes with unproductive TV; 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 could drink water instead. All these weeds I just let grow ever so slowly. Then, all of a sudden, they are bigger than I am. Even when I try to tackle them, they leave marks that don't go away. 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.

Let us pull up the weeds of sin that so easily entangle us. Lord, show us that our little choices to avoid sin in this moment right now lead us away from the consequences of ignoring what we thought were 'little' problems.

Clean Desk

Cleaning my desk was a good move. Ever since I came to Huntsville last June, I have had a really messy desk. Some days were better than others, but for the most part I could not really see the wood of my desk. I couldn't stand it, but I didn't do anything about it.
When I came back from Abilene, I decided to put everything up in folders or trash it. For a whole week now I have been able to keep things clean. There is nothing on my desk except my calendar (and maybe a book I want to read the following day). I have committed every day to clearing everything off my desk before I go home. It really make me feel good. Rock on!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Burden Shared, follow-up

Well, I must say that last night went well. I got caught in the hall before class, so I was a little late coming to class deal. I had set the announcement sheets on the floor at the door and the attendance sheet was on a chair near the door.

When I came in I went to talk to a couple of students for a bit and then took a not-my-normal-place seat. Immediately, some asked what was going on. I asked, "What do you mean?" "Do we start?" I said, "sure." A small awkward moment passed. Then another student asked, "Are you going to start or should we take the initiative?" I didn't even say anything and a student hopped up to welcome everyone, to pass out the announcement sheet, to get the signup list going, to offer prayers, and to open up the singing of two songs. He sat down and I got up to teach. Sweet chocolate pie!

I just asked a lot of questions, and the students got a chance to discuss the balance between me doing everything and them doing everything. I shared Romans 12:6-8 and added a few verses of my own (can I do that?): "if it is singing, let him sing; if it is doing announcements, rock on; if it is planning, bring it; if it is organizing, use the Staples easy button." Yes, I think I am a dork, but oh well! Basically, I think I led the class well...even though someone looking in on the class might say that I didn't lead.

Anyway, our students are great! They, I think, are beginning to feel a burden for taking my offer to share in ministry seriously. Some more than others, true, but we are all learning what it is like to partner together in ministry. For this I can only praise God!

Thank you, Father, for continuing to teach me new things. Give us your wisdom as we take your "great commission" seriously on the campus of Sam Houston State University.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Burden Shared

I struggle with how much I should do for students. My "official" duties and responsibilities say I am to "plan and organize yearly student activities with students." There is a huge word I see here: WITH. This says nothing about doing these activities FOR students. I need to come alongside of students to partner WITH them in the things that we do every year.

Not that this happens or would happen in this way, but I want to consider a hypothetical situation so I can think out loud. Suppose I see a planned activity, broomball, coming up pretty soon. We need to make sure it least I would like it to happen, as I am sure students would like it to happen too. I make the announcement that it will happen on X day, according to the plans set by myself and a group of students before the semester began. I call the place to reserve the rink. I pass around a sign-up sheet and communicate that the cost is determined by the number of people going, but it will be somewhere around $15 at most. When the date arrives, we hop in the vans that I filled up with gas earlier that day, go to the place, have a great time, pay up, come home, and let our bruises and soreness heal for a couple of days.

I wonder if what I just described fulfills my duties and responsibilities of planning and organizing events WITH students. I must say that I don't think I am living up to this part of my "job" description. I am doing it by myself and not with students. But, what do I do? I could just do nothing and put students to a test they don't know they are taking. What would it look like it I just didn't do anything? I again would not be planning and organizing events WITH students...the students would be doing it. To be honest, I am not even sure that the event would happen. Perhaps it would, but I really don't think it would. Doing nothing doesn't seem to be an viable doesn't give students a chance to grow. Or does it?

Somehow, I would like to help students feel the burden of ministry while they are students. This is part of discipleship training that will lead to involvement in the church when they leave college. Perhaps a tangible lesson on a smaller scale will communicate effectively what I am trying to convey to students.

I will do this tonight during class. I have communicated to the whole group that I will be teaching the class on Wed nights. Part of the class is singing. Usually we have a PowerPoint put together. There is also usually a brief time of announcements. Tonight I will just come to class, sit down, talk with students, and wait. I won't even pass out the announcement sheet like I usually do. However long it takes, that is how long it takes. I imagine someone saying, "Are we going to get started?" To this I will say something like, "Sure." and continue sitting there. I will just let time pass (at least until everyone stops talking). At some point, I will just be the one who starts asking questions about what just happened. I don't know if someone will just start songs or if there will be prayers or scripture readings or anything tonight. But whatever happens, I hope my questions will lead our students to feel the burden of ministry on a larger scale. I hope to ask questions about what my "job" is or what it "should" be in their minds. I hope to ask questions about what their "job" is or what it "should" be in their minds. I will probably bring up my duties and responsibilities as a campus minister that I talked about above.

I'm kindof excited about what will happen. I guess we will see. This semester seems to be turning into a time of foundation building more in the direction I was imagining before I started working in Huntsville last summer.