Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I want to be in the Light...


I'm going through a lot of "new beginnings" in my life and so a little time in the Bible's "new beginning" seems appropriate.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). God is a creator. The fact that the Bible begins with a declaration of God's creative work is perhaps predictable in light of the fact of what God has done and what God has continued to do throughout the ages of time. He creates! He creates worlds. He creates life to fill those worlds. He creates emotions, thoughts, music, history, and best of all, He creates people. A very meaningful verse of scripture to me has always been 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come". God's creative work is even seen in His reconciliatory work of salvation on our behalf. All of us who are "in Christ" are new creatures (new creations that have never existed before). Perhaps it's not too much of a stretch to see spiritual creation symbolized in the Genesis narrative. Let's take a look.

"The earth was formless (confused) and void (empty) and darkness was over the surface of the deep . . . " (Genesis 1:2). Have you ever felt confused and empty? Have you ever felt like you were living in darkness--in the deep places (what we might call in over your head)? I'm sure that we've all been there but it is of course most pronounced when we are living without Christ in our life.

" . . . and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). I love this part. In the midst of our darkness, the Spirit of God is moving over the surface of our lives. When all appears to be out of control--the truth is that God is still in control. His Spirit is moving. I have just come through a very difficult stage in my life...but the Spirit was moving across the darkness. You may be in depression...but the Spirit of God is moving. You may not have a job...but the Spirit is moving. You may be recovering from a marital breakup...but the Spirit is moving.

"Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day" (Genesis 1:3-5). Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life" (John 8:12). John's gospel begins with a declaration that Jesus was in the beginning with God at creation. Jesus is God and Jesus is, "the Light of men" (John 1:4). 1 John 1:5 continues the thought, "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Jesus is the light that delivers us from our darkness. He separates us from the darkness and declares us good (righteous). It's interesting that on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit was given to the infant church, a manifestation of fire over the heads of the believers could be seen. Fire, of course, produces light. May the light of the Gospel of grace hover over our heads as we penetrate the dark lostness all around us. I, for one, want to be in the light!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

As I see it . . .

Grace River will be a safe and nurturing place for the broken to heal.

Grace River will be highly relational--encouraging community built around the fellowship of suffering.

Grace River will operate under the assumption that everyone is recovering from something--a hurt, a hang-up, or a habit.

Grace River will celebrate and facilitate healthy recovery in the lives of its participants.

Grace River will encourage creative participation in each element of corporate worship.

Grace River will provide opportunity for participation in the five biblical purposes of the church: worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, and evangelism.

Grace River will seek to provide the necessary tools in order to facilitate abundant living by it's participants.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"They are like trees planted along the riverbank..."


"Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do" (Psalm 1:1-3, NLT).

The NASB uses three actions to translate these verses: walking, standing, and sitting. Don't walk with the wicked. Don't stand with sinners. Don't sit with mockers. The emphasis is on the progression of action--walking by--then standing around--finally sitting down and joining. Have you ever been walking by someone and overheard their conversation? Perhaps they were saying something so interesting or unusual that you slowed down and maybe even stopped so that you hear more of the story. Perhaps you even joined in by saying something like, "Excuse me, I couldn't help overhearing what you were saying about..." The very first Psalm is warning us to be careful about who we listen to--who we take advice from. The Psalmist is saying, don't make your decisions based on the word of sinners. Maybe we could define sinners in this specific context as cultural norms--the world's wisdom. My paraphrase would be, "If you want to be happy, don't live your life according to the world's conventional wisdom".

But rather, the Psalmist David says, "delight" in the Word of God--think about it all of the time!

Now here's the promise: #1--You'll bear fruit, #2--You will not wither, and #3--You will prosper! You will be just like a tree growing beside a river. We need to get our wisdom from the Bible. We need to make decisions based on the same values that the Scriptures declare. We need to hear from God in making every decision.

Tina and I struggled to reach a decision in terms of whether to continue on with Cornerstone or whether to get out of the boat and to join God in something new that we had never had the guts to attempt before. Each day for the past three months, we have been in the Word individually and at times as a couple, seeking to hear from God. The idea for Grace River began to slowly emerge over the past three months as I walked through the darkest and most painful days of my life. We believe without a doubt that Grace River is of God and we believe that He will cause it to bear fruit and prosper. I am asking God to allow the first fruit to be born this weekend--may we see someone give their life to Christ before the week is completed. May we see a new tree planted along the riverbank...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Turning the Page...


Tina and I are in the process of turning a page in our life. Last evening, I submitted my resignation to Cornerstone Baptist Church. We've been at Cornerstone for the past 9 1/2 years and so this has been a rather difficult page to turn.

Today, I am stepping forward into a new ministry--one that will be focused on helping those who do not find church to be a safe place (the broken, the downcast, and the abused). My experiences in attending Celebrate Recovery over the past three months have demonstrated to me what the fellowship of suffering (real fellowship) is all about--sharing our brokenness. We're all recovering from various hurts, habits, and hangups. Perhaps this new ministry can be about telling the truth about who we are and who we are not so that we can finally walk together into recovery. I firmly believe that we are all recovering from something. I heard someone say last Friday that they are recovering from self-righteousness. Yes!

I've been drawn to a name--"Grace River". A river is a collection of small streams that each began either from snow-melt high in the mountains or perhaps from a spring. These small streams flow together and become more powerful as they combine their resources into a larger river. A raging river can move boulders and even cut through rock forming great canyons given enough time. "Grace" is of course the "unmerited favor" that is available to each of us through the work of Christ on the cross. As we each walk in and share our individual experiences of God's grace we will find that a mighty river of grace has begun to flow.

It's worth noting that in the early part of the Bible we see that God uses a river to water the earth. "A river flowed from the land of Eden, watering the garden and then dividing into four branches" (Genesis 2:10). The final chapter in the Bible also speaks of a river. "Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations" (Revelation 22:1-2).

I'll talk more about rivers in the future and especially about their symbolic role in the scriptures. For now, I just want to ask for prayer: prayer for Cornerstone...and prayer for Grace River.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturdays...

Saturdays are difficult days for me. I haven't always known that they were difficult. I haven't always allowed myself to feel the kind of feelings that I have grown to feel in these days. Feelings come and feelings go but I over the past few months I have found that every Saturday now includes an overwhelming sense of loneliness. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on. Even though I was feeling despair and depression as a common course during my leave of absence--Saturdays have been way more intense. Charles Stanley has helped me figure it out--or I should say that he figured it out and I have learned from him. He writes, "Until about three years ago, the loneliest times of my life were Saturday afternoons". Dr. Stanley's childhood was one of loneliness. He was raised by a single mom and though he had many friends to play with--they were usually off with their families on Saturday leaving young Charles feeling abandoned and all alone. I can relate somewhat to Dr. Stanley's experiences. I left home (North Dakota at the time) to attend a boarding school in Tennessee at age thirteen. I spent the next four years with lonely Saturdays. Most of the kids would be gone on the weekends leaving just those of us with families living a great distance from the school on campus. Those were lonely days for me--and they still are. It's amazing to me how dramatically I am now feeling the experiences of loneliness that I'm sure that I pushed down so many years ago. It's not about being busy, or being with people--it's about feeling the loneliness that I did not allow myself to feel way back in high school. Just thought I would share...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ten Responses to Abuse...

I have been reading Charles Stanley's book, The Source of My Strength. It was sent to me by someone that I don't know at the very beginning of the valley that I have been walking through for the past three months. A lot of what I have been experiencing feels a lot like abuse. I know a little something about abuse having gone through a considerable amount of abuse as a child, as a teenager, and even as an adult. Chapter Three of his book has to do with abuse and Dr. Stanley discusses ten godly responses to abuse. Perhaps these thoughts will help you work through some of your issues even as they have helped me.

Response #1: Seek God's Guidance. Ask God what he wants you to do about it. Dr. Stanley says, "Nothing in the Scriptures requires you to continue to stay in the presence of those who abuse you or to continue to associate with those who have abused you in the past".

Response #2: Pray for Your Abuser. Dr. Stanley says, "Even as you pray, recognize that the person who is being abused is rarely the cause. Oh, the abuser may say that the victim is responsible, but in fact, the abuser must be held accountable for the actions and must be responsible for what is inflicted". He also points out, "The abusive person has an intense restlessness, an agitation, or a festering wound. Something is deeply wrong inside the person who is abusive. Hurt, doubt, worry, hatred, bitterness, or anger is unresolved and likely has been unresolved for a long period of time". Also, "The abusive person rarely expects to be confronted. Power and control are the core issues to the abusive person. Abusers expect their victims to run away and hide, whimper, cave in, cry, shrink back, or fall silent. One of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself as a victim and for the abuser is to stand up to the abuser and say, That's enough.'"

Response #3: Don't Blame God for the Abuse. "God never uses an evil means for a righteous end. Abuse is contrary to God's desire. It has nothing to do with God's will. He never promotes abusive behavior or approves of it."

Response #4: Forgive Your Abuser. Forgiveness is not putting yourself back in a position where you can be abused again. It is choosing to release them from your heart and into God's hands.

Response #5: Forgive the Person Who May Have Allowed Your Abuse. If you feel bitterness or the need to blame someone--then you may need to speak to God about forgiveness.

Response #6: Choose the Truth About Yourself and About Your Abuser. Dr. Stanley says, "One of the greatest lies that abused people frequently swallow whole is the lie that they deserved the abuse they received. Nobody deserves to be manipulated or injured, or to have their self-esteem, identity, and sense of value smashed into a billion bits".

Response #7: Open Yourself to God's Healing of Your Abused Emotions. I'm learning to let Christ walk with me into the scary places so that He can begin to heal what is broken. We are never alone!

Response #8: Refuse to Retaliate. God is really good at stripping us of the things that don't please Him--I know personally. Prayerfully put people and God's hands and let him deal with their stuff.

Response #9: Choose to Go Forward in Your Life Positively. Remember who you are in Christ regardless of what others may tell you.

Response #10: Look for God to Bring Something Good out of Your Experience. Romans 8:28 is all that needs to be said.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Puzzle


This is a shot today of our dining room table at home. I'm somewhere in the middle of piecing together 1000 pieces that all look a lot alike and yet are each uniquely different. When I'm done, I'll have nice picture of a lighthouse--right now, I have chaos.
I started doing puzzles several years ago when I was going through a period of stress. It was suggested to me that the exercise of building a puzzle might just help me relax. I think that it does help.
I always start by building the border--that way I know what my limits are. Next I look for easily recognizable and unique patterns like the buildings which I clearly finished first. These pieces are unique in color and it's not too hard to see how they fit together. The hardest part are the pieces that all look alike--in this case the sky and the water. Sometimes I have to resort to trying each individual piece in succession until I find the perfect fit. It can be tedious work but it really feels good when you see a piece drop into place perfectly.
I am in the process of trying to decide if I am supposed to stay at Cornerstone or if I might be a better fit somewhere else. The border seems to be in place and so I'm simply looking for all of the other pieces that might look like me. I have a unique shape, a unique color, and somewhere out there is a unique space just waiting for my arrival. God is the one building the puzzle to which I belong--a puzzle that we might call the Kingdom of God. I've been doing lots of praying, lots of searching in the Scriptures, and lots of talking with my friends and family. I would like to see God simply drop me in place but this puzzle piece seems to have been given a choice.
I would ask all who may stumble upon this post to take a moment and to lift up some prayer for the Samples' family.
Perhaps Moses was working on a puzzle when he prayed to God, "You tell me, 'I know you well and you are special to me.' If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way I will continue being special to you. Don't forget, this is your people, your responsibility" (Exodus 33:13, The Message).

Monday, October 26, 2009

God says, "You're Good to Go"!

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). What an amazing promise! NO condemnation! Why is there no condemnation?

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death" (Romans 8:2). There is no condemnation because Jesus has released us from the tyranny of the law. The law of sin and death has been replaced with the law of the Spirit of life. Jesus has perfectly fulfilled the law. This applies to us in to very practical ways: #1--Jesus fulfills obedience to the law resulting in righteousness (life) and #2--Jesus fulfills disobedience to the law resulting in death. The righteousness that Jesus has created through his obedience is more than what we could ever do in our own "self-righteousing" efforts. "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). The only righteousness that counts is Jesus' righteousness. The stuff we produce just isn't good enough. Isaiah says that our rightousness is like old dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6).

"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). Following the rules can never make any of us truly righteous. The law can't get it done. Therefore we are all set up for condemnation. However, the only condemnation that God will ever provide has already been provided towards Jesus Christ. God condemned sin once and for all in the death of Jesus.

"So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to te flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:4). Here is the positive result: Christ-followers fulfill the law--not in the flesh but in the Spirit.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). In the middle of Romans 8 during this great and weighty teaching on how Christ fulflls the law on our behalf we have yet another awesome promise: All things work together for good to those who love God and are called to His purpose. EVERYTHING works out good for Christ-followers! Through Christ, God takes away our garbage and replaces it with treasure. Christ's death fulfills the wages of our sin (death) and also fullfills the wages of obedience (righteousness).

"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified and these whom He justified, He also glorified" (Romans 8:29-30). Here it is spelled out for us: Christians have been predestined to look like Jesus. God predestined--God called--God justified--God glorified! What's left for us to achieve? Absolutely nothing!

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God,who also intercedes for us" (Romans 8:31-24). Who can condemn us? It certainly cannot be God--He says that we are good!!! Who can accuse us? It certainly cannot be Jesus--He is too busy praying for us!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Geoff Moore - A Beautiful Sound

I came to the conclusion last night having heard an amazing testimony that I must abandon every single bit of control that I would place upon my future. My inability to even influence my next breath should make that an obvious conclusion.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cooking Spaghetti...

Jaren passed his driving test today (finally). It took him several attempts. He is a very good driver but I think that he gets really nervous when he takes the test and makes silly mistakes. Well, today he pulled it all together and passed and is now the proud holder of a Colorado Driver's License. Our progression of events now leads us to job hunting in an attempt to earn enough money to actually purchase something with four wheels that runs. Just one step at a time...

Tina saw a movie today ("Love Happens") that she says is essential for me to see. I accomplished task #2 on "The List" today: "Clean cobwebs on front entryway". Today included three hours of coffee with one of my very good friends. I continue to learn new things each day as God continues to speak through His word and through His servants that happen to pass through my space.

There was not much to report from my quiet time today--sometimes it's just quiet.

Tonight....I cook spaghetti!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hiking, Sailing, and Chess...

The boys and I hiked the North Fork of the Big Thompson yesterday morning. The total hike was almost nine miles. I intended for us to only do about half of that. There is an old abandoned cabin in a meadow near the river which was our primary destination. The trail continues from there up to the Rocky Mountain National Park. I hate to leave a trail unexplored and so we ventured all the way up to the park and back. We were tired when we finally got back home. Zach headed off immediately to a friend's house for an overnight birthday party. Jaren and I took a nap.

Later in the day an older gentlemen arrived at our home to deliver a trundle bed that Tina had purchased at a garage sale. Tina's sister is coming to see us next month and we need another bed for the guest bedroom. We had one in there but it got moved to Zach's room when he grew out of the bunkbed. a Big part of my learning to "follow Jesus" and to NOT be in control is learning to recognize when God is up to something. This gentlemen who lost his wife about a year ago was able to speak into my life loud and clear with the voice of Jesus. He shared some sailing insights with me that happen to coincide with some similar thoughts that I heard back when we were on Anna Maria Island a little over a month ago. He reminded me that the point of sailing is not to get from point A to point B but rather to sail. "Don't miss journey", he said. He further said that it almost always requires two people to sail and that those two people must be communicating. Finally, he said that the quickest way to get between two points when your sailing is to zig-zag. Course adjustments are constantly required to make the best use of the wind. He used the word "journey" several times which if you know Tina and I well, then you know that "journey" is a code-word for hearing the voice of God in the details of life.

A third important aspect of my day yesterday was getting to spend some time with one of my very good friends. We played chess which is our excuse for getting together at the coffee shop to talk. God allowed me to win 3 out of 4 games and so I am considering the event a success. My friend was also able to speak into my life as I shared with him some of the things that I have been learning over the past several weeks.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Learning to Lead Like Saul...


"Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul's head. he kissed Saul on the cheek and said, 'I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the leader of his people Israel'" (1 Samuel 10:1). We should never forget that it is God who raises up leaders and it is God who brings them down again. God appoints His leaders for whatever time he sees fit. At times it appears that perhaps we have something to do with choosing our leaders but God's word is rather clear that it is God who appoints leaders. I have heard several times in the past several weeks that the call of God upon a minister is irrevocable. This is true if in fact it is God who is doing the calling and not merely human invention. A part of my Sabbatical is intended to examine my calling, to examine my qualifications of serving as a pastor, and to allow God to speak his calling into my heart one more time. What is the singular sign that God has appointed a leader? Take a look at verses six and seven.

“At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you with power, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. After these signs take place, do whatever you think is best for God will be with you” (1 Samuel 10:6-7). The singular sign that God had appointed Saul would be the coming of the Spirit upon him with power. He would literally be "changed into a different person". Once the Spirit arrived, Saul would then be free to do whatever he thought best. God would literally be with him and Saul's action would be God's action. The indwelling of the Spirit of God within the life of person allows them to do what God would do with God's effectiveness. The Spirit's saturation of a minister is absolutely necessary for effective service. The Spirit changes us! The Spirit remakes us! The Spirit resurrects us!

“As Saul turned and started to leave, God changed his heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day” (1 Samuel 10:9). Notice that life-change occurs for Saul in a single moment. Wow! It's not just any moment--it's the right moment! What a great breathing prayer for the day: "Change my heart!". A breathing prayer is simply a short phrase that we quietly place upon our lips as we breathe in and as we breathe out. Everything changes with a changed heart--even kings are made!

“And the Lord replied, ‘He is hiding among the baggage.’ So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else” (1 Samuel 10:22-23). I love this--"He is hiding among the baggage"! We've all got baggage and like Saul, we tend to hide among it. Get this--God loves us enough that he will disclose our hiding place. He will reveal our baggage. He will do whatever it takes to force us to deal with our stuff and to come out into the open (I speak from personal experience ). Having come out of the baggage, "he stood head and shoulders above anyone else". No one could see who Saul really was as long as he was hiding among the baggage. The reality was however that Saul was a big man. May we all come out from among our baggage so that we can stand tall.

“When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a band of men whose hearts God had touched became his constant companions. But there were some wicked men who complained, ‘How can this man save us?’ And they despised him and refused to bring him gifts. But Saul ignored them” (1 Samuel 10:26-27). Finally, let me learn today to surround myself with "men whose hearts God has touched". Ignore the rest!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Twin Sisters...

The beauty of a Sabbatical that requires me NOT to use my church office effectively allows me to declare any space my office. Yesterday, my office was the 3.6 mile trail up Twin Sisters in Estes Park. It's 3.6 miles up and 3.6 miles back down. In total, I spent about five hours on the trail (excuse me...in my office) reading Scripture, meditating on the things that God has been doing, and basically trying to learn how to follow Jesus without needing to be in charge. I came down the mountain having heard one thing loud and clear from the Father: He wants me to learn how to be thankful for the abuses that I have received in my life. It's funny because as soon as I had the thought, I was able to say the words, "I'm thankful for the abuse". Words, however, are not at all what God is looking for. He is wanting me to go much farther. My trip last week to Kimball was a beginning in terms of coming to grips with the very real impact that my abuses have had upon my life. I'm not sure what the path wil look like to learn to be thankful but I am pretty sure that it is going to take more than just one hike.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Growing Up with Samuel...

“As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said was wise and helpful. All the people of Israel from one end of the land to the other knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle. And Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel” (1 Samuel 3:19-21).
  • Samuel grew up. I too am growing up. The Father and the Spirit are teaching me each day new things about myself and new things about God. Things that I have never understood in forty-five years of life are becoming understandable.
  • The Lord was with Samuel. This, I suppose, is the secret. The presence of the Lord Is absolutely essential for life. A friend has said that he has learned the difference between religion and relationship and that now he is learning the difference between relationship and communion. I share his desire. I want to be in intimate communion with God—a life-sharing fellowship.
  • Everything that he said was wise and helpful. I will speak at Baby Gabriel’s memorial service this afternoon. May the Spirit saturate me with His life so that everything that I say today will be wise and helpful. May I learn to simply be quiet if I have nothing to say.
  • He was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. All of the people knew that Samuel was confirmed. Who confirmed him? God did the work of confirming. How did it happen? I don’t know except that the people somehow knew that Samuel was a prophet. May God confirm me in the same way as a prophet of God. This will be a process as I continue to grow. May God show up today at this funeral and demonstrate His ability to provide love and care. May I somehow be a useful tool in the hand of God as he comforts his people.
  • The Lord continued to appear to him. Tomorrow morning I will head to the mountains for a day of prayer. May the Father appear to me! Each day for the rest of my life, may the Father appear to me!
  • The Lord continued to give him messages. Though I am not preaching, the Father continues to give me messages. May I find the intended recipients and share the Word of the Lord faithfully.
  • His words went out to all the people. The Father’s plan is to saturate the land with the Word of God—the Word of grace—the Word of salvation. AMEN!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tina is Home Again!!!


I can't tell you how great it is to have Tina back home.

Zach and I made the trip to DIA this morning to pick her up at the airport. We took special care to navigate down 120th Street in order to pick up a dozen "hot" Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I wanted to go through the drive-thru but Zachery reminded me that if we go in then we would also get a free sample--which we did.
Our timing at the airport was perfect and we were able to meet up with Tina at the baggage claim carousel and get out of the parking lot for the $2 minimum.

We are both making preparations today for Baby Gabriel's Memorial Service tomorrow afternoon. It's been a thrill to once again hear Tina singing at the piano. She remains my favorite vocalist of all time.
I'm cooking up a big pot of chili for dinner. It's rainy and a bit cool here in Colorado and chili sounds great.
Today, God says, "I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me" (1 Samuel 2:30). He then promises, "I will raise up a faithful priest who will serve me and do what I tell him to do" (1 Samuel 2:35).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Roadtrip...

Jaren and I will be heading to Nebraska on Wednesday morning. It will be a good chance for him to practice driving on the Interstate and it will be a good chance for me to face some of my demons. When I was around five years old--maybe six, my dad surrndered to the ministry and moved our family to Kimball, Nebraska to pastor the Calvary Baptist Church. It was in Kimball that I was molested by a next door neighbor. At the time, I didn't tell anyone and evidently nobody discovered what had happened. It remained a secret well into my 30's and only then did I tell one person--my wife. There is not much to see in Kimball but I'm not going for the sights. I want to somehow connect with the little boy that I left behind forty years ago. I don't know what to expect. It could be very emotional--I just don't know.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

September 15th

And the good news is....

Tina is flying home on the 15th!!! Continue to pray for her mom's continued recovery.

Friday, September 04, 2009


"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him . . ." (John 3:16-18).

I suppose that John 3:16 is one of the most quoted and best known of the scriptures. It is especially significant to me in that it was featured in a fairly recent dream of mine. You can read about the dream here. The verse was also included prominantly in the windows of a church that I visited in the previous month. As it would happen, I also recently purchased a new wallet that has John 3:16 printed on it. This morning my Gospel reading includes John 3:16 and so I think that this important verse is worthy of a closer look.

The context is a conversation between Jesus and a very religious Nicodemus. Nicodemus has some questions about the Kingdom of God and the answer that Jesus gives makes no sense to Nicodemus. John 3:16 is meant to clarify to Nicodemus God's purpose for humanity--not to destroy them--but to save them.

The facts are:
  • God loves us enough to die for us!
  • God does not want us to perish (literally to rot).
  • God is interested in saving--not condemning.
  • The key to salvation is believing (trusting) in Jesus.

Let's talk about believing/trusting for a moment. Trusting means letting go of the need to control. It is to believe that Jesus can and will save us and therefore to resist the urge to try to save ourselves. I have tried unsuccessfully to save myself my entire life. I have failed miserably in my attempts to protect myself from unseen dangers an known enemies. I really stink at being God. So, perhaps the point of this verse in my life today is that God is asking me to quit trying so hard to be whatever it is that I think that He wants me to be and to simply trust Him. I don't need to save myself--that job is already taken! I don't need to figure anything out--God already has a plan!

Yesterday I met with Martin Castro, Pastor Oscar de la Cruz, Ernest Maxey, and John Howeth. Today includes a haircut and then lunch with my good friend Gary Clyma. Tonight the boys and I will attend the WHS football team's season opener. This is the first day this week that is not slammed with meetings.

I have two goals today: #1--to follow Jesus, and #2--to show empathy.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

King-pleasing...

“In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

The text implies that it is the “king” who is to give direction to the people. Right and wrong should be defined by the king. He decides what we should do. The absence of a king seems to release the people to do whatever seems right to them at the time. I’ve spent lots of years—both doing what is right in my own eyes—and also doing what is right in other people’s eyes. As a recovering “people-pleaser”, I can assure you that it is more than just a drive to do what is necessary to try to keep people happy—it is a raging addiction! God is not honored in my people-pleasing any more than He is honored in my self-pleasing. He is interested in "King-pleasing". The journey that I am currently beginning requires that I learn how to discern the many voices of those who would provide council in order to hear the singular voice of the King. Certainly, the King can and will speak through others I am learning that His voice is truly unmistakable.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Shaking Free...

Samson found himself trapped by his poor decisions and irresponsible behavior. The Scripture says,“When he woke up, he thought, ‘I will do as before and shake myself free.’ But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him” (Judges 16:20). This is an incredibly sad verse that demonstrates the futility of taking God’s Spirit for granted. David prayed in his great confessionary prayer recorded in Psalm 51, “Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me” (v11). Without the Spirit we are all toast! Only with the Spirit’s power can I “shake myself free”. Only with the Spirit’s power can we become all that God has created us to be. Samson would later pray, "O God, please strengthen me one more time..." (Judges 16:28).

I find myself in Denver this morning attending a very important meeting that was scheduled months ago. I am here to look into some issues concerning our state convention. I’ve discovered, however that the real purpose of my being here is to encourage my good friend who is and has been going through some very difficult days. I am in an especially good place to be able to come along side my friend. I wrote two things on the top of my notes as we began yesterday afternoon: #1—Follow Jesus!, and #2—Empathize! As of 10:00 this morning, a conflict that has plagued our convention for the past four years was finally resolved. With God all things are possible!

This afternoon was filled with conversations with good friends.

Late today I was given a wonderful gift. I was given Bob Dylan's 1963 record album, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan". This was his second album and included the radio hit "Blowin' in the Wind". The record is in excellent condition and is more than thoughtful in that not a whole lot of people know of my love for all things Bob Dylan, matched with the fact that I collect records.

The highlights of my day always include the conversations that I share with Tina. Her mom is doing some better though there is much improvement that is still needed.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Samson...

There could not be a more unlikely hero than Samson. He not only married a woman who was not an Israelite--he married someone who was from the enemy Philistine nation. He deceived his parents by giving them honey taken from a dead carcass. He murdered thirty men just to payoff a gambling debt. He exercised revenge by burning Philistine crops. He slept with a prostitute. And that's just the stuff that we know about. Yet, in spite of all that Samson did wrong, God used him in a mighty way. His secret? It's a lot more than just his hair. Notice these five verses:
  • "...the Spirit of the Lord began to take hold of him" (Judges 13:25).
  • "At that moment the Spirit of the Lord powerfully took control of him.." (Judges 14:6).
  • "Then the Spirit of the Lord powerfully took control of him" (Judges 14:6).
  • "Then the Spirit of the Lord powerfully took control of him" (Judges 14:19).
  • "But the Spirit of the Lord powerfully took control of Samson..." (Judges 15:14).
May the Spirit of the Lord take hold of me as well...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Psalm 96

SING A NEW SONG TO THE LORD! God is the Creator and He has placed within each of us the God-like tendency to create. I believe that he loves for us to allow the prayers and passions of our heart to be expelled from our lungs as a melodic act of worship.

EACH DAY PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS THAT HE SAVES. Our great purpose on this planet is to share the goodnews that, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). How many will we pass by today who are dying without the Hope that is Christ? God loves for us to share His salvation message.

PUBLISH HIS GLORIOUS DEEDS AMONG THE NATIONS. Our God is a great God and his deeds should be proclaimed among the nations. What has God done? Tell it! Declare it! Publish it! Brag on God!

BRING YOUR OFFERING AND COME TO WORSHIP HIM. I was looking for a gift for my wife yesterday. I know what she likes and I know what she doesn't like. With great thought and creativity I selected a gift full of meaning that will communicate my heart. May I give as much thought to the gifts that I bring my Father each day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quiet Time: August 17, 2009


Here is what the Father is saying to me today:

"Get ready! Today the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you" (Judges 4:14). This is a powerful promise of victory that I hold dear today. The Lord is marching ahead of me and victory is certain! No fear! It is of no coincidence that this promise is given to Barak by Deborah. I also have a "Deborah" who is speaking victory into my life as well.

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers" (Luke 22:31-32). Yep, I know what this feels like! Notice that Jesus has no doubts that Peter will both fail and then repent of his failure. Jesus' prayer is that Simon's faith in God would not fail. Peter's failure and subsequent repentence will allow him to strengthen the brothers. God indeed causes all things to work together for the good for those who love Him.

"Happy are those whom you discipline, Lord, and those whom you teach from your law. You give them relief from troubled times..." (Psalm 94:12-13). It's almost absurd. How can one who is receiving discipline be happy? God is not like us at all! And guess what? Today I am truly happy!

God drew me into prayer this morning with one of my favorite prayers--the prayer of love. This is where I get to lie down on the floor and just allow the Father to pour his love over me and into me. I try to empty myself of any thoughts except the thought of receiving God's love and loving Him back.

My second season of prayer was a prayer asking for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Finally, I was given a prayer of meditation--considering all that God is doing in my life and identifying the ways that Satan would attack and destroy me.

"Father, as always, my life is yours. It comes from you and sustained through you. Allow me Father the opportunity today to build up my brothers. I believe your promises and I await your deliverance. Love me Father! I love you back! Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I might be supernaturally empowered for this day! You are enough!"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Practice! Practice! Practice!

I had a great time this afternoon with my son Jaren. He has twice failed the driving portion of driver's license exam. I rode with him over to Greeley and spent nearly an hour driving around this afternoon. He is a great driver but there are some difficult situations to navigate in downtown Greeley. It's pretty easy to turn into the wrong lane. He made a few mistakes but before long he was driving flawlessly. I think that he is now ready to go try the exam one more time. I'm not sure when that will be. He will have to call and get on the list. It could be next week or the week after. We had fun talking about all of the great things that he could do and experience once he has his license. I'm proud of him. He is a great young man!

Of course, his driving record is a great metaphor for life. It often takes us a while to learn how to navigate around the tricky portions of road that we travel. Like driving, practice makes perfect!

Quiet Time: August 16, 2009

I find myself in a season of my life when I am needing to hear from God more than ever. I have deeply offended a person who means a great deal to me. My time with the Father this morning was centered on this person, my choices--both good and bad, and the steps forward that I should be taking.

From Judges I read, "For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering" (Judges 2:18). Simply put, God is a God who shows mercy to those who are broken. I am encouraged that my God does not throw us away but that he embraces us in our weakness and sorrow.

My prayer began this morning with a prayer for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I have asked that God would remove anything that is offensive to Him and that I would be made holy by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will guide me into all truth and will also convict me of all faults. The Spirit will reveal to me each step that I am to take. May I today be saturated with the Holy Spirit.

Luke's Gospel reveals the story of when Jesus sent his disciples into Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover. They are told to follow the man with a pitcher of water and that, "He will take you upstairs to a large room that is alread set up" (Luke 22:12). I am encouraged that God already has a plan for me. I simply need to follow His direction to the room that is already set up.

My second prayer is the prayer of petition--praying for myself. I am asking God to bless me: Body, Labor, Emotions, Social Relationships, and Spiritual growth.

God gave me this promise from Psalm 92: "But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted into the Lord's own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green" (Psalm 92:12-14). It's always encouraging to know that God is not through with me. He will cause me to flourish, to produce fruit, and to remain vital. And though I am not "Godly" in my actions--I stand declared "Godly" through the actions of Christ on the cross.

My third prayer is the prayer of intercession and, of course, I spent the entire time praying for the person that I have offended. I have a large rock in my office that represents the judgement that I might be tempted to throw at myself or others. I carried that rock around with me this morning as I prayed and I wept for my friend. I prayed that I might feel their pain and that I might be able to pray for their healing through the passion of that pain.

I finished my time with the Father with a time of thanksgiving. I am thanking God for the pain and I am thanking God for the restoration that will occur. I am thanking God for His promises and I am thanking God for his love.

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening" (Psalm 92:1-2).

Friday, August 14, 2009

Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings. he will shelter you with his feathers. his faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day, nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. But you will see it with your eyes; you will see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your dwelling. For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone. You will trample down lions and poisonous snakes; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The Lord says, "I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will satisfy them with a long life and give them my salvation."

Psalm 91 (NLT)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Still Growing...


As I walked along the beach this morning with my Bible open and the warm waves washing over my feet, I was one more time reminded of the fact that I am still growing. I have a system of beads that I use to draw me into conversations with the Father. This morning, the green bead made it's appearance for the second time this week. I wrote about growth on Monday and I will continue my thoughts on growth today.

Not only is people-pleasing a temptation that I must constantly resist, I find that I am also drawn to the idea of being "superman". These two are closely related--I mean how can you reject superman? If I can just do everything perfectly, then no one will ever judge me! The problem with trying to be superman is that if forces me into the tyranny trying to be something that I am not and of course constantly failing to meet the mark. God gave me Psalm 89:2 today as a word of promise. In this Psalm Ethan the Ezrahite prays, "Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens." God is faithful! I fail! God's love is unfailing! My love fails! God is perfect--I am not! God is not counting on me to get it right--I suspect that he already knows that I will mess it up. Even in my failure though, He will show himself faithful! He is faithful!

This morning on the beach I watched for maybe thirty minutes as some kind of small shelled critters would come out of the sand as the water washed over them, only to retreat back into the sand when the water receded. I'm one of those creatures--constantly advancing and retreating. I embrace the water of God's faithfulness only to retreat back into the sand of my fear. I repeat the cycle over and over again. For me to be superman is to deny God's ability to be faithful--to retreat into the sand. Regardless of my retreat--the water will return. God is faithful! May I grow today to simply trust Father's ability to faithful--to me and through me.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Air 1 - NEEDTOBREATHE "Washed By The Water" LIVE

This is another one of those songs that could be from the soundtrack of my life. I am truly washed by the water...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Growing...


Those of you who know me well know that I am on a growth journey. I am continually confronting and resisting the compulsion to settle for "Dave" when God has called and freed me to be "David". Dave symbolizes all of the performance enhancing behaviors resulting from an addiction to religion. David is free to live, free to laugh, and free to dance!

I have come to understand that there are four primary manifestations of feudal thinking that exist within my mind. I tend to default to one or more of these four ways of thinking. I'll address all of them in time but for today let me speak of the first one and perhaps the most powerful of the four. I am very much recovering from an addiction to approval. I have lived most of my life craving the approval of those around me and consequently often prostituting my freedom in order to gain approval. I have felt good about myself only when others have felt good about me. Thus I have lived at the whim of others. The price of this approval addiction has been the denial of my own worth and being. Something clicked within me and I got it years ago in high school. I perform--people applaud--I feel good. The oppositie is equally true: I fail--people boo--I feel bad. And so...much of my life has been wasted performing--trying to earn applause. I can equate it to sports. I loved to play baseball my entire life and yet, at least in high school, I noticed that hardly anyone came to baseball games. Basketball, however, was packed with fans. So what did I do? I played basketball! I'm learning to walk away from the gym and back onto the baseball field. Who cares if nobody is watching?--I simply love to play the game. Surprisingly consistent (as He always is), God has given me a growth prayer today. As I am praying to grow, I have already today had the opportunity to choose between basketball and baseball, between "David" and "Dave". And though I have peered inside the windows of the gym, and for at least a moment, lusted for the roar of the crowd--I have in the end (at least for now with the help of a dear friend) chosen to return to the field of dreams and to allow my heart to dance.

There is a song by Skillet that expresses the emotion of my heart. You can hear the song and watch the lyrics here. You can see the actual music video here.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Sin of Wanting More...

Sometimes the message is found in what is not said...

A good church-goer asks Jesus a very important question: "What do I have to do to go to heaven?" Jesus answers, "Keep the commandments". And then he lists four of the commandments to which the man replies, "I have done all of this ever since I was a little boy". Jesus then says, "Great! Then you just need to do one more thing--go and give all your stuff away to the poor and then you can come and follow me". The man then walks away sadly because he has a lot of stuff. So what's missing?

The four commands that Jesus lists are #'s 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. He leaves out the first four that deal with our relationship with God and he leaves out #10 which has to do with "wanting". The first four commands and the last command are related. When we are rightly related to God--we no longer need "stuff". We no longer need to need stuff.

May I learn to be satisfied with the blessing of the day that God has already provided...without wanting more...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I am Blessed!


I just can't tell you how blessed I am to be in Florida this morning! I woke up at 6:30 (4:30 Colorado time) and I couldn't hardly wait to get up and to get outside. I walked down to the beach (about a block) and I had a wonderful time of talking with the Father. The sand is white and there are many shells. The water is warm and feels great washing over my feet.

Psalm 86:4 records a prayer of David, "Give me happiness, O Lord, for my life depends on you". Our Christian culture does really approve of praying for happiness and yet I am very confident that the heart of our Father is to bless us. As I walked along the beach I considered what I would like to experience over the next nine days. I want to be recharged, revived, and released! I want to return home in nine days with a new vision of what my life is to be and what I am to pursue both as a pastor and and as a person.

God gave me the silver bead this morning and so the focus of my prayer was the prayer of blessing. B-ody: Revive me--bring me back to life again. Let me rest and relax and fully recharge. L-abor: Give me new vision for what the next year and for what the next few months are all about. Give me a passion to do what matters. E-motions: May I continue to be healed emotionally--that I would feel and experience all of life without regret. S-piritual growth: Teach me something new about who you are. Heal me spiritually and release me from the religious tyranny of the past. S-ocial relationships: Bless my friendships and help me bless those who bless me. Give me the courage to pursue relationships without fear.

Friday, July 31, 2009

GPS = ACTS

I have a new post up today over at sbcIMPACT! Let me encourage you to head on over and check it out. Click here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vacation Countdown - "2 Days"


We're less than two days away from flying away into the wild blue yonder. I hid out at the office as much as I could today. Something happens at our house the last few days before vacation. Tina always gets this urge to clean the house really good just in case something happens to us. Yep, I don't think that I could really enjoy heaven while worrying about someone seeing our less than perfectly cleaned home . So, I have personally cleaned every toilet in the house and I am now awaiting my next assigned task. It's not so bad--I do enjoy coming home to a pristeen home. The problem is that we are leaving Jaren home by himself and I'm not convinced that he is going to maintain the place very well while we are gone. The good news is that he will likely never venture up from downstairs except to pilfer for food. If I leave enough cash, then he will eat out and will not venture into the kitchen much. We have a mini-fridge downstairs where we keep the sodas.

Packing is fun at our house. Zach and I usually find a shirt and a pair of blue jeans each and call it good. Tina, as any good woman would, forces us to pack for all of the unkown scenarios that we might face. Even though Florida has Walmart or two, we will check one ginormous suitcase and then carry on a couple of small ones. I doubt we'll need half of what we take--but we will do it for mom. I used to take a lot of books on vacation deceiving myself into thinking that I would actually read them. I'm not taking any this time--ok, I'll take my One Year Bible. Also, I'll take Conlan Brown's novel that I need to finish. Perhaps, I'll take one more just in case I finish Conlan's book and want something else.

Amy gave me some girl scout cookies for the trip--Samoas. I'll pack those in the ginormous bag and hope the baggage guys don't steal them. I'll eat the first cookie with one foot in the gulf in honor of Amy. The cookies are actually for Gideon (the church cat) but he said that I could take them with me in case I see some Florida cats.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Government Health Plan Chart


I don't know that you've seen this chart but is very scary to me. I haven't found that the government does anything well. The federal government is certainly not efficient. I know that we have problems with our insurance system that need to be addressed but I sure don't want this solution.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vacation Countdown: "6"


Just six days left...

One of the things that I am looking forward to is our first-ever trip to Busch Gardens. This park boasts some of the wildest coasters in America. Zach and I were watching "Youtube" videos of some of the rides in the park--Awesome! Tina will have nothing to do with us as we ride and will instead be at the shows and checking out the exhibits. From what I can understand, Busch Gardens is sort of like Disney's Animal Kingdom in that there are a lot of zoo-like exhibits to see. The online ticket purchase allows us to get in for two days. The plan is to hit the park mid-week, like maybe Tuesday and then return on Thursday for a second day. I'm a theme park nut and I have already started planning out the preferred sequence by which we will tour the park. Crazy, isn't it?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Vacation Countdown: "7"


Exactly one week from today, I will be enjoying Anna Maria Island. This is a beautiful spot on the Florida's Gulf Coast just south of Tampa. I can't wait!
One of the best parts of the trip will be just relaxing on the beach. In addition, we're planning to experience sailing, snorkeling, and even a couple of days at Busch Gardens in Tampa.
I love seafood and so I'm certain that we will have some wonderful dining expeiences as well.
We will be staying at a condominium that is provided free of charge for pastors and their families as a place to relax and recharge. I very much appreciate the foundation that makes this possible. Our church has graciously provided airfare and perhaps a few other things.
Clearly this is all that I will be thinking of for the next seven days.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Colorado Baptists Envisioning a Brighter Future


I had a great meeting today with the CBGC Revision/Restructure Task Force. I'm not sure what the real name of the group is but what I've written is close. I was concerned going into the meeting that there might not be the will among the group to ask hard questions and ponder substantive change. I walk away from the meeting greatly encouraged. The meeting began with us all on our knees asking God for guidance and for his ideas. We spent four hours discussing a variety of things but mainly focusing in on the philosophical purposes of the CBGC. We're just beginning and our next meeting is a month away. I believe though that good things are coming for Colorado Baptists. We're envisioning a bright future!

Friday, July 10, 2009

NAMB Trustee Beginnings...


I have a new post up at sbcIMPACT! discussing my new role as a North American Mission Board Trustee. I would invite you to head on over and check it out. The following link will take you there: http://www.sbcimpact.net/.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Of Dreams and Demons...


I was lying down on a cot in the living room of a great three story house. On my right was the owner of the house--a middle-aged man with glasses. One my left was his son--a shadowy figure who was there sort of like I imagine a ghost would be. The father was not completely aware of his son's presence--like he had died or something. The boy was scared and I held his hand as we lay there on our three separate cots. The purpose of my presence was to exercise a demon that had been tormenting the man. The demon was expected to manifest his presence at 9:00pm by slamming doors. This apparantly was his habit. The man had attempted to stop the disturbance in the past by shooting a shotgun at the doors. The 9:00 hour came and went with no activity. The three of us were leaving the house and had made our way about 2-3 blocks away when a loud and distinct voice came from the house addressing me. The voice was cursing me and was trying to shame me by openly declaring my sins in a ridiculing manner. We went back to the house and I began to quote Scripture over and over again--John 3:16. It was at this moment that my wife awakened me because I was talking in my sleep--speaking loudly, "For God so love the world that He gave his only begotten son..."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Team Honduras Update...


Jaren's Honduras Mission Update from CTI:

Team leader Laura Schuh called yesterday and gave us a personal update. She says "we've done 10 concerts in the last 4 days and it's been AMAZING. We've been having a blast touring Honduras. It's a beautiful country." The team is especially enjoying the time they spend with Mauricio Erazo (YFC Honduras National Director - in center of picture below) and his family.
Laura also updated us on a recent political development in Honduras. There is a vote on a controversial referendum scheduled for this Sunday, and the possibility of some disruption in civil services is anticipated (mostly in the capitol city of Tegucigalpa - the team is based in San Pedro Sula, which is 120 miles from the capitol.) Laura assures us that "so far there's been no violence, and we are completely safe." YFC Honduras had already been planning to take the team to neighboring El Salvador this weekend to participate in some ministry there. In order to avoid any potential disruption in travel, they decided to leave a few days early. We have also taken the additional precautionary steps of registering the team's presence with the US Embassy in Honduras, which will allow them to notify the team in the unlikely event that the US advises citizens in Honduras to leave the country.
We received e-mails from the team leaders and Mauricio's wife this morning indicating that all was well, and the team was safe in El Salvador. They expect to be there into the early parts of next week. Once they return to Honduras, they are scheduled for ministry at La Entrada, a YFC camp in the western state of Copan.Laura isn't sure what kind of internet access they'll have in the coming days, but she promises further updates whenever possible.
Please continue to pray for Jaren and his team as they travel and minister.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Alumni Luncheon...


One of the events of the Southern Baptist Convention that I look forward to each year is the gathering of the alumni of my seminary. The event is normally marked by good food and a brief report concerning the health of the seminary. The good food has consistently been BBQ at least for the past three years. You can imagine my shock when I realize that our alumni luncheon is nothing more than turkey sandwiches and soup. I'm not talking about the fancy kind of turkey sandwiches on fancy bread with subway-type fixings. I'm talking about white bread and lunchmeat. Now you may not sympathize with me yet but please realize that I paid $10 for the priviledge of making myself a turkey sandwich. This compares with the "free" chicken sandwich-wrap-kind-of-thing that I received the day before at the B21 luncheon. It was tasty, came with chips, sweet tea, and even a brownie. I guess to be completely truthful--I did get a strawberry/lemon tart thingy today with my sandwich. Now I am not completely unsympathetic with budget shortfalls that the seminary may be facing. I really don't expect them to feed me a free lunch (remember I paid for this one). I just was really disappointed not to get what I expected--BBQ. It may be that that is all that my $10 would buy this year at the convention center--if so I would have preferred to have purchased a burger in the snackbar. Now perhaps I was a little miffed to be making my own sandwhich (for $10) when I was on the same plane as the president of my alma mater sitting in Coach while he was in First Class. Maybe it's the fact that he had his personal vehicle driven to Kentucky (while he flew) apparently so that he would have his personal ride available. By the way I have no idea what the purpose was or how it may have actually been necessary. May it's the fact that the meeting went on and on...

Ok, I feel much better now...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

North American Mission Board Trustee...


I am both humbled and honored to have been elected today by the Southern Baptist Convention as a Trustee for the North American Mission Board. This is especially meaningful for me in that my mom and dad were missionaries with the Home Mission Board (older version of NAMB) as I was growing up. To have the opportunity to serve our denomination by providing oversight of such a strategic entity is truly amazing. May God grant me wisdom, integrity, and courage to be whatever He needs me to be in my time as a NAMB Trustee.

SBC - Tuesday - 10:14pm

Tuesday's convention activities are now posted at the sbc.net website. You can view them here.



Great day for the most part. I'm very tired and I have another full day ahead. I have lots of opinions and adventures to share. I'll have some time tomorrow to catch you all up on a few things. Good night...

Monday, June 22, 2009

SBC - Monday - 7:35pm

I just have time for a very quick update. The boys and I finished dinner at Spaghetti Factory and headed by the hotel for a brief rest. We're headed back to the convention center in just a few mintutes. Let me just quickly say that this morning's speakers were all tremendous. My favorites at the conference so far in order of preference would be #1 Francis Chan, #2 Ed Stetzer, #3 J.D. Greear, and #4 Tom Elliff. These are all worthy watching from the archives. You can find them at www.sbc.net. I'm expecting Johnny Hunt to be exceptional as well tonight. Let me add that Pastor Eric like Francis Chan the best of all so far. Scott like Fred Luter the best. I should note that two days of listening to preaching (even great preaching) has left me exhausted.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SBC - Sunday, 10:05pm


It was a great day at the SBC Pastors' Conference. The highlight for me was a reunion of sorts of several of my college friends. We had great time laughing and telling stories for several hours this afternoon.
The music at the Pastors' Conference was excellent tonight. My favorite speaker was J.D. Greear. He distinguished between Religion and Gospel and there was much that I found applicable. I am happy to report that all three of us were alert and present through the entire evening. We picked up our credentials making the three of us legitimate messengers.
Following the meeting, Pastor Eric, Scott, and I stopped by White Castle. This was the first time for the boys--they were not impressed.
I haven't seen Pastor Fernando, Donna, and the boys yet. Pastor Eric texted him and The Caballeros will be leading worship for the Hispanic gathering at 8:00 in the morning. We're going to show up and participate at least for a portion of their meeting.

SBC - Sunday - 8:32am

I'll start the day by sharing a little from my time alone with God. I was up a 7:00am and headed down to the lobby in search of coffee. I found a quiet corner, a $2.15 cup of coffee, and some great time with the Father.

God is: "The Head Over Every Power and Authority" (Col. 2:10). This is good to know with so much chaos going on in the world. He is head over President Obama. He is head over the Iranian president. He is head over the North Korean president. He is head over our SBC leadership. He is head over me!

Proverbs 17:19 says, "Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who speaks boastfully invites disaster". The SBC has been guilty of both quarrelling and boasting. May I be careful today to practice peace-making with a healthy dose of humility.

Luke 7:36-50 describes the account of an immoral woman lavishing love upon Jesus by washing his feet with her tears and kisses. Jesus' explananation is that those who have been forgiven much will love much. Passionate and loving worship of our Savior comes easy to those who understand their depth of depravity and the amazing and gracious forgiveness that Jesus provides. I want to prepare myself to lavish love upon the Father in my worship times today and tonight.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

SBC - Saturday - 9:48pm

Wow! Busy Day! We arrived safe and sound around 2:00pm, gathered our luggage, found our rental car and headed for the hotel. Persons of note on our flight from Dallas to Louisville included Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (my seminary) and Dr. O.S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Christian Resources. There were many pastors on the plane--you can always spot them!

After checking in, we headed out to TGIFridays for lunch/dinner. I was shocked to see Scott Coltor order some kind of green-looking wrap thing. Pastor E. and I ate manly food. Next we found our way to The Southern Baptist Seminary and showed ourselves around. It is an impressive campus with an impressive history.

I was dropped off across the river in Indiana at my good friend Richard's hotel. He and I then headed out for dinner/snack at some Italian place on the edge of the river. I had soup and salad (already stuffed). We had a great discussion about both of our ministries. Richard was my student minister when I was in college and also allowed Tina and I to serve on staff under his leadership at FBC, Monterey, Tennessee. Richard is currently on staff at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville and directs the Sight Ministry. He writes a blog here. His primary ministry is to individuals struggling with same-sex attraction. Richard is a brave man of God doing cutting edge ministry that is impacting lives. I'm proud to call him friend!

SBC - Saturday - 6:23am

We made it through security and to the gate without incident. I don't know why but I always get real stressed going through security. It's the fear of the unkown. Our flight is delayed until 8:00am and so we get a little more time to chill at the airport. I've already downed an Egg McMuffin Meal. Eric called Scott in Fort Worth and woke him up . He is going to be on our flight out of DFW.

SBC - Saturday - 3:40am


Eric will be by to pick me up in about forty-five minutes. I'm insanely diligent to make sure that I'm at the airport two hours before my flight. I'm not sure if that is still the recommended time frame or not--I just know that I always have a couple of hours to wait at the gate. I don't mind. I am planning on finishing Conlan Brown's novel "Firstborn". I started a month ago and then my wife somehow got it away from me andI haven't seen it since. She coughed it up last night when I was packing. Conlan is a very talented young man who attended Cornerstone at one time.

The highlight of the day will be dinner with Richard Hollomon. Richard is a good friend who has been influential in my life. He was my BSU director way back at Union University. Tina and I were able to serve together under his leadership at FBC, Monterey. That was my first full-time ministry position. Jaren was just baby at the time and so we're talking sixteen years ago.

BTW, if you don't know already, he covention proceedings including the Pastors' Conference will webcast at http://www.sbc.net/. I would encourage both of my readers to watch some of the convention to get a sense of what it is all about. The Pastors' Conference is a giant worship service with maybe a dozen sermons over the period of a day anda half. The convention itself is just a "ginormous" business meeting. The convention center has wireless and so I should be able to interact with the blog/facebook/email throughout the time that I'm there. I'll try to give a big "heads-up" if something significant or entertaining is going to happen. For example, on Tuesday at 8:40 the agenda calls for "Introduction of Motions". This will be the first opportunity for messengers to bring motions from the floor. This is where we will get a sense of what may be coming...

Friday, June 19, 2009

SBC - Friday - 8:00pm


Tomorrow is the big day when I fly to Louisville for the Southern Baptist Convention. This is only the sixth national convention that I have memory of attending. It is possible that I attended a few when I was kid that I don't recall. It's easy to forget...especially as a young man. I'm working on three in a row: San Antonio--2007, Indianapolis--2008, and now Louisville--2009. I don't know the year but I clearly remember going to St. Louis with my parents. I remember because we were the guests of the Womens' Missionary Union and they paid all of the bills which meant that we ate well and stayed in a very nice downtown hotel. We even went to Six Flags one day--awesome time. I was around 13 or 14. I also remember befriending a bum on the street and inviting him up to our room. I know it seems insane but I was allowed to wonder around downtown St. Louis all on my own. I'm lucky that the guy didn't rob us or something. He just seemed nice and I guess he was. The other convention that I remember was in Salt lake City. I was pastoring in Lipan, Texas and my youth pastor and I along with another friend went to the convention together. We had a blast as I recall. We spent some time up in the mountains, we drove out into the Great Salt Lake Desert, and we toured the Mormon Temple. We also participated in "Cross Over" which is an evangelistic outreach that is accomplished every year in the host city. We stayed in a really dumpy motel in the bad part of town. Every morning we had new chalk art in the parking lot in the shape of a fallen man.

This year I will be joined by Eric and Scott. Eric is my youth/associate pastor and Scott is a student at Southwestern Seminary. We think that Scott is on our flight out of Dallas. I have plenty of pranks in store for young Scott . I am just about finished packing and my lovely bride Tina is ready to go for a walk. Talk at ya later!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shin-Soo Choo wins game by hitting a bird

There are a lot of distractions in life. Sometimes they cost you the game...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jaren's Mission Team...


Here is an update from Jaren's Mission Team:


Hello!!!! This is Team Honduras checking in!!!

We’ve been really busy over the last week learning music (16 songs in 5 days!), learning about how to share our testimonies, and just having fun as a team. Last night we had our first practice concert and were blessed with the opportunity to share our excitement with the Hong Kong team as well. Our Bible studies and devotions have been teaching us what it means to be a servant. Philippians 2 has been our focus for all of training - imitating the servant posture of Christ. Other than that, it’s been really fun getting to know each other and learning how to be a team. We’re looking forward to another week of learning about what our ministry will look like in Honduras. It’s going to be an amazing summer, and we’re so grateful for all of your support. If you’d like to be praying for us, here are some specific requests:

Memorization: 12 of the 16 songs are in Spanish, and instrumentalists have a ton of chords to remember!

Health: Don’t worry! We’re all still healthy, but we’d like to stay that way! Pray for rest and rejuvenation daily.

Unity: God has brought together 12 very different people and we are learning what it means to put those differences to good use- covering each others’ weaknesses and drawing on each others’ strengths- to become one unified body working together to serve God’s Kingdom.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Great Commission Resurgence...

I have posted an article today at sbcIMPACT! concerning the Great Commission Resurgence. Let me encourage you to head on over and take a look. I would love to hear your comments. You can get to the article by clicking here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Webcast...

Cornerstone is in the early stages of providing a live webcast of our worship services. Our belief is that this will enhance our effectiveness by allowing us to communicate our message beyond the walls of our church building. We ran a initial trial yesterday that you can check out at our Cornerstone website: www.windsorcornerstone.org. Just click the link on the left side of the page that says "watch sermon". Both Pastor Eric's message and mine are available. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Cornerstone en Espanol...

I had a great meeting this afternoon with Pastor Oscar de la Cruz to discuss the formation of a Spanish-language worship service at Cornerstone. I'm thrilled that Oscar and I share common vision to see a fourth worship service begun at Cornerstone. We're not looking to begin a new church, we're not just letting the Spanish congregation meet in our building, but rather we are acknowledging the presence of the hispanic community in our town and in our church and we are making a place for them within our local Body of Christ.

My name for God today is "Branch of the Lord" (Is. 4:2). It's a perfect description for God as He shows himself today to be a new branch within our church.

My Proverb today is 14:28, "A growing population is a king's glory". God is growing our population through the inclusion of the Hispanic community.

My spirit soars to think of the possibilities--more so than the many other things about our church that I'm excited about. One of the spiritual markers (Blackaby lingo) in my life is the presence of ethnics. My dad was a Home Mission Board Missionary to Native Americans. I grew up around ethnic people groups. Throughout my life, I have had effective ministry in and around ethnic communities. I believe that Pastor Oscar's service is going to be a big part of Cornerstone's future. May it be so!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Throwback...


The boys and I have long been fans of sugar-sweetened sodas. Maybe it's all in our heads but we are convinced that the sugar-sweetened beverages taste better than the high fructose corn syrup alternative that has been the soda main-stay for years now.
Seriously, Jaren still has an unopened can of Dr. Pepper from the original Dublin, Texas bottling plant. You can share the adventure here.
We have even identified one retailer in Northern Colorado that stocks bottles of Coke imported from Mexico. It seems they still use sugar in Mexico to sweeten things rather than corn. We risk the potential unknown contaminants to get a "real" coke made with "real" sugar.
So you can imagine our joy when we saw advertised "Throwback" Pepsi and Mt. Dew made with sugar. We're stocking up just in case the change their mind at some point. (BTW, let me know if you see any vanilla pepsi out there somewhere).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What's Jesus Worth?

It always a fun adventure to read through Leviticus which I am currently doing and as expected I have learned something.

Leviticus 27:1-7 contains instructions to Moses from God concerning the monetary value of human beings. The purpose of the information is to give values so that people dedicated to God may be redeemed by their families. The text reveals the following values of human beings based on age and sex:

A man between the age of 20-60 is valued at 50 pieces of silver.
A woman of the same age is value at 30 pieces of silver.
A boy between age 5-20 is valued at 20 pieces of silver.
A girl between age 5-20 is valued at 10 pieces of silver.
A man over 60 is valued at 15 pieces of silver.
A woman over 60 is valued at 10 pieces of silver.

Of course you are aware that Jesus was betrayed by his friend Judas for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15, 27:3). Certainly the religious leaders who paid this bounty were aware of the law's declared human values. Is this one more attempt by the religious elite to embarrass Jesus and to put him in his place? It could very well could be. A common Jewish prayer in those days included the phrase, "Thank you Lord that I am neither a Gentile nor a woman".

Let me add one more twist to the tale. The religious leaders are not actually the ones who set the price on Jesus' head--God did! In fact Jesus as God set the value of his own betrayal at 30 pieces of silver--the value of a woman. The prophetic text of Zechariah 11:12-13 declares, "'If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!' So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, 'Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.' So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD".

My take on this today is the fact that God values all humanity including women and Gentiles. God's word says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).