Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Repaying Hatred...

Lately, I've been thinking about how to repay hatred. I had a conversation with my little 7 year old girl yesterday. We were talking about what to do when people are mean to you. I told her of a time when I played a joke on one of my good buddies...

It was moments before the OU title game was about to start. I called him and told him my wife needed help because the pipes in our house had broken and there was water all inside the house. I was out of town so I asked him for help. I heard the silence on the other end of the phone...you see, this guy is probably the BIGGEST OU fan ever, so there was, obviously, some hesitation. But a few moments later, he put on his best friend voice and offered help. I told him that I was messing with him. I told Liv, that was not nice...but it was funny.

Then, I told her that what you do comes back around. A few months later, While I was out of town, our washer overflowed and there was water all inside the house. I called him. He thought it was a joke. After several minutes of urging he finally believed me. To top it all off, he actually helped my wife. He's one of the best Guys that I've ever met. "I had that coming to me," I told my daughter.

After explaining the depth of my well-crafted joke and God's equally well-crafted come-uppance, the point was to not repay evil with evil. I told Don't be mean to someone just because they've been mean to you. (or cleverly funny, in my case...of course I can't say that to my daughter...) She may have understood, but it may take a few more conversations for it to stick.

Now, to practical application. http://www.xxxchurch.com/ is a community devoted to sharing God's love with Everyone. Jesus Loves Porn Stars is their motto. You can click on the link and read all about it, but one specific stop on their Jesus Loves You tour was in at the Westboro Baptist Church...you know, the ones who say that God hates America and God hates F*GS? They decided to stop in and repay Hatred with Love. You can watch it here.


The point is, that Paul Says in Romans 12 verses 14 thru to the end says,

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. 20On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Some good thoughts. Because, lately, I've been thinking about Repaying hatred...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Daily Battle

I've just returned from a weekend in the hill country. My wife and I were fortunate enough to be able to facilitate a retreat for 12 married couples. My wife and I have a passion for marriages and the possibilities they embody. If the marriage is solid then, more than likely, the family will be solid. This doesn't mean that the children won't grow up to make poor decisions, but it will mean that those poor decisions will be less likely to be 'poor' on a grand scale.

One thing that we are constantly reminded of is the need that people have for connection. a need to feel that they are not alone. When two people get married, that long-term need for connection doubles. So many of us feel that our issues are somehow different than other's issues. We live under the false assumption that to share in our struggles is to invite criticism and judgement into the relationship. This is what it is like with couples. It is also what it is like with the individuals.

I think Men are worse at internalizing than women are. We tend to feel that we can go it alone when it comes to our biggest struggles. I have learned that going it alone has never worked for anyone other than the 'Marlboro Man.' But even then I wonder, because we've only seen pictures of him in 1/10 second increments. When I think about it, I have an occasional 1/10 of a second where I feel rather indestructable...but then the brief mini-moment passes and I'm right back to where I was, attempting to make it to the next moment without crashing the whole world around me. As much as we hate to say it, Men need the company and encouragement of other men when life is most difficult. (proverbs 27:17) As Iron Sharpens Iron...so one man sharpens another. This isn't an easy process. Iron sharpening iron is painful at times. Sparks will fly and metal is sheared off into tiny bits. Fortunately, this process isn't as painful when it comes to marriages. HA!

What I've realized is that People need each other. God created a community. He instituted the church which is the Body Of Christ...community. Phillipians 4:13, "I can do all things through christ which strengthens me" is followed by "But it was good of you to share in my troubles." We need each other. God is present in suffering.

So...my prayer is for those of us who try again and again to 'go it alone' whether individually or in marriages. May you find godly community who will undertake the 'sharing of your sufferings.'

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Moves You?

I'm spending time today, among several other things, thinking about what moves people?  In today's overload of information at the touch of a button, what interests people?  I'm developing ideas and themes for Sunday Classes that might be helpful to people in their daily life.  So many times we think that once Sunday is over, so the spiritual quota is complete for a week. Tough thing is we have 2 hours on a sunday (of course really it's only 1 hour) to interact with others in a truly spiritual way.  And this 2 hours is supposed to help us cope with the remainder of the week.  Two hours of training and encouragement = 168 hours of Christlikeness. (yeah, I had to use a calculator.)  One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies "TRUE LIES" goes like this.
NT. / EXT GIB'S CAR/ STREETS OF WASHINGTON - DAY They are driving through D.C.  Harry is still shocked by his daughter's behavior.   
GIB    Kids.  Ten seconds of joy. Thirty years of misery.
HARRY  She knows not to steal.  I've taught her better than that.
GIB    Yeah, but you're not her parents, anymore, you and Helen.  Her parents are Axl Rose and Madonna. The five minutes you spend a day with her can't compete with that kind of constant bombardment. You're outgunned, amigo.
Gib and Harry turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue, heading toward Lafayette Square. Capital Hill is behind them.
Problem is, how many of us really dig into the word of God throughout the week...honestly. Not trying to promote guilt, just reality.  So, Sunday morning is really the 5 minutes a day that we spend with God...and that's all that most of us have.
The reality though is that certain thoughts and ideas move us to action.  What are those?  I think for the most part we have a good idea, but when it comes to church and learning about how we can be more like Christ and how to share the hope we have with a world that's lost, what does that look like?  What would we be 'really' interested in?  In this information age when knowledge is at the touch of a button, why go anywhere?  I'm interested in your comments.  What moves you?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Starting Over

I don't guess it's really starting over. It's just a continuation of my journey. Here I sit in the middle of my lunch break from my very first class in my pursuit of a Masters of Arts in Religion. I've put it off as long as possible. the runing joke was that I didn't want to pursue seminary or graduate school in theology because I didn't want to be screwed up for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I told that Joke to one of my best friends, Dr. Michael Harbour, during one of our regularly scheduled morning coffees several years ago. He thought it was funny, but also a challenge. So, what he proceeded to do for the next 6 years was to screw me up for the rest of my life. His continuing questions and challenges to those things I thought I knew to be hard and fast fact became a bit more, well, soft and slow. I guess I figured that it couldn't be any worse in grad school, so I decided to take the plunge.
This story may sound a bit negative, but what I've discovered is that when your faith is completely shaken, you discover what really lies at the basis for your belief. I would venture to say that most westernized Christian Americans haven't really faced things that would challenge their belief. Maybe we're getting close, especially with the economy the way it is, but it took me 32 years until I came to that point.
Which brings me back to where I am currently. I'm on a break and my brain hurts. A january short course crams in an entire semester's worth of learning in about 5 days. OUCH! I guess it's not that bad. What I've truly come to understand about this starting point is that I've looked up and I realize that I have a long way to go on this journey. But then again, if I could turn the picture around the opposite direction, I might just see how far I've come. So, I trust that God will bless...not necessarily with things, although that would be nice, but with the realization that I haven't screwed things up too badly yet. My journey is interesting. My family is lovely and my God is completley faithful. And I'm not really staring over...I'm just continuing and the road ahead doesn't look too difficult or depressing. It's actually exciting. I hope my children learn that from me. That you don't necessarily start over, you just find yourself in a place where you ust have to 'continue.'

Friday, December 19, 2008

What happens after you get what you want?

I've been getting ready for this Christmas Holiday with a bit of apprehension. I don't know if it's getting older that occasionally ZAPS my Christmas Spirit or if it's other forces outside of myself hard at work. It's strange. This time of the year I usually am filled with excitement and wonder. I don't think excitement and wonder have an age limit. Last year we were waiting for Liam to be born. We were filled with hope and anticipation for the coming year. Anything would have been better than that last year. The IVF's, Shelly's Hospital scare and other difficulties. This year has been filled with it's own set of challenges. I think that Liam was our high point this year. His birth was the culmination of many years of praying through frustrated words and angry hearts.

I still remember after our first IVF exactly 2 Christmas's ago. I had gotten a call from our Doctor while at lunch with my family and my parents. Liv, our 5 year old, had been praying in her own way for quite a while. She would pray that God would give her a baby brother or sister. She was happy with whichever one...she just wanted one. When we told her, I remember that she was sitting on the chair watching TV and we sat down with her. We told her that God decided that we needed to wait on a baby brother or sister and that there wasn't a baby in mommie's tummy yet. Her eyes filled with tears and we all cried a little bit together, but we said that God knew what he was doing and we didn't need to worry. ( I should have said that to myself.)

So, here we are...our answer to prayer is 8 1/2 months old. We've gotten our answer. But still, I grumble a bit because of circumstances, hurricanes, money problems and job stresses. But, what happens after I get what I want? I still want more. The asking is where the transformation occurs. Satisfaction is for a moment. And even though I am thankful, I am greatly reminded that the absence I feel in my heart is a part of life. It's the yearning for perfection...for wholeness that will only come through relationship. And even then, only in pieces. I will not be whole until I see God face to face. I will know even as I am fully known.

So for now, as I think about this Christmas, I must remind myself that God has answered my prayer. I must remember the journey I've taken. How far I've come. I must remember the joy I felt and still feel when I see my children's smiling faces and hear their laughter and cries. And when I ask myself what happens after I get what I want? I will remember that Life happens. So do Job issues, stress and acts of God. This is a journey. An exciting one at that. They will continue as will we. Hopefully, though, I have a bit of wisdom for my two little ones seen here. I will tell them that the most important thing isn't in the getting...it's in the asking. Besides, there will always be something else that we really want.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I attended the WFX Conference and Expo yesterday. The keynote speaker was a man named Dave Ferguson. He is the Lead Pastor of Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL. (http://www.communitychristian.org/) His congregation has grown from the initial meeting with he, his wife and four friends to a 8 location Campus with over 5,000 people in regular attendance. I mention this because what he had to say about Vision was quite remarkable.

His original Idea was simple, but not fully realized. He wanted to be a church planter. Many dreams and ideas later, a meeting with an entrepreneur friend encouraged him to think about what he wanted. Think about the end. What did he see? He thought, Church Replication. If we have everything we need and we are making Jesus known to people, then why not replicate that? He began to formulate the vision and his conclusion was simple. If your vision cannot fit on the back of a napkin, then it’s too complicated. He chose, “Help people find their way back to God.” It was Simple. It needs to be something that everybody gets. Once the vision decided upon, then it needs to be cast to the people. As I have always said, if people buy into the vision, they will do so with their time and their money. Money always follows vision. This is what followed his idea. It wasn’t that he had the answers, it was that God was up to something and was ready for someone to follow His leading. God then began bringing people in to help fulfill that vision and, whether you agree with church replication, was able to begin 8 locations with 700+ members each within a few years. Wow.

When I think about Southeast, I see a church that is strong. I see a church situated in a fantastic location. There is absolutely no reason why we should not be leading the pack when it comes to how 21st century Churches of Christ should do church. We have the staff and the people to carry it forward. I know this to be true.

Does Southeast agree on what kind of a church we wish to be? The end is different for many of us. I know the ultimate vision is the same…for people to get to heaven. But the way we reach people is an area for discussion. I think we all know what will draw people to our church, but some people might see the ‘slippery slope’ as more dangerous than a church without many people.

I was really encouraged by Dave’s message yesterday. He let me know that it can be done. I’m not referring to the mega church realization. I’m referring to the fact that vision attracts people. If people could get excited about a new purpose then we might be able to reach goals and change the world!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fireproof - A Review

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing the film Fireproof. I’m typically a go against the flow type of a guy, so you see my conundrum. Do I go with the flow of all my Christian Friends who are yelling at me to go see this “Christian Film” or do I go against the world and actually see it. I chose to see it reluctantly and not expecting much. After all, it stars Kirk Cameron. What I found was surprising. It was a well done film that boldly attempts to reach into the heart of marital conflict.
Caleb is a firefighter who seems to be a hero to everyone in the world, except his wife. Catherine is lamenting the train wreck her 7 year marriage has become. They both need a miracle. The Story follows their conflict in some detail as they explore such marriage killers as infidelity, selfishness and addictions in the marriage covenant.
Ready to call it quits, Caleb is asked by his father to complete a 40 day “Love dare” if he has any desire to see his marriage succeed. He reluctantly accepts the challenge, but finds much more than he anticipated as he comes to realize that the ‘never leave your partner behind’ motto relates to much more than his job.
Expect to see the obligatory conversion scene, which you come to expect from a film by a mainstream Christian organization. This might be a turn off for some, but for me, it fits in this story. Every major story deals with a character whose life fundamentally changes somehow during the story. This is a standard storytelling formula. In this case, the change just happens to be that he chooses to follow Christ, which in my opinion is the pinnacle of change. So, it works. The film is quite heavy so there are several moments of comic relief, which at times, seems out of place and a bit forced. Nevertheless, some of those moments are very humorous.
This is the 3rd major release from Sherwood Pictures, the previous being ‘Facing the Giants.’ The truth is they are getting better. This is a marked improvement. At times, the acting appears amateurish, but not terrible. This could be said about other films as well. Overall, I recommend this movie. If people need motivation for their relationships, then this movie will help them in that direction. I left the theater with a better idea of how much God loves me and how much I love my wife.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Marital Bliss?

I performed a wedding last weekend. I haven't done many, but each time I have the opportunity, I'm reminded of many things. My own marriage...of course. I'm reminded of how young I was, not physically mind you, but mentally. I don't think I had maintained my preconceptions by the time I got married, but I did have some idea as to what it might involve. For the most part, though, I discovered that marital bliss isn't a long term reality. I love my marriage, don't get me wrong, but when I think of "bliss," I don't also think of "work." But moments of bliss...those moments come in-between bills and talking about what's for dinner and working through issues...bliss creeps into those unexpected moments. When it does, it's like a drug. Those moments justify the work. They solidify the bond. I'm becoming better at recognizing those moments and when they come, I drink them in. So, for my friends who marry, I pray for the ability to work as well as the ability to recognize and enjoy those moments of bliss.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sound of Your Love

I don't think I've never blogged about my Haiti Adventure. Experiencing the poorest of the poor in the Western Hemisphere has changed my life. Since returning from Haiti over a year ago, I've thought to myself that I'll be going back. Hope for Haiti's Children is an organization that I plan to be involved with for some time to come. You can find out more by visiting their website at http://www.hfhcministries.org/.

This is a video that I made of the orphans that HFHC houses. Their love for singing is evident here as they sing for us the song they have learned from the group Leeland. Take a look.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I just finished this piece on Freedom. It isn't my best work by any stretch, but it is fun and was a good segue into our Wednesday night lesson time. Take a look and I'd love to hear your comments.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I resisted at first, yes. I have, however, seen the light. Facebook really can bring the world together. At least it can bring friendships together in the shallow end of the relational pool. What I find is that the seeing an old friend after a long time of...well...not seeing them is very exciting and moving. You know, those friends I had when I was in High School, college and beyond. I mean, after all, I was voted "friendliest" in my class like 3 years in a row. I never did get best looking or most athletic. Sigh! Oh well.
When I do get some communication from one of my old friends the pattern becomes more or less a 'HEY! How's it Going!" and then they reply pretty quickly with a, "great! it's great here...and you?" And then I reply a little less quickly with, "yeah, family's good and so is the job! Man you look great after all of these years!" And then, a few days later they might reply with a, "well, it's good to see you..." and then...well, that's pretty much it. I find that those relationships I had so long ago were fantastic in the moment, but life does move on and it's difficult to share what's really gone on in my life- the ups and downs -the tragedies and successes- those things that have formed my spirit, personality and my purpose...it's hard to share these things in a short email. It's hard to briefly say, yeah, we've been trying for a kid for about 4 years and oh yeah, my wife almost died last labor day from what we thought was a muscle pull...yada yada yada... So, without really going into the details, I put forth the Cliff's notes version of my life. I know that there is so much I truly want to say, but I'm not sure how to write it all down.

It's not that my Facebook friends aren't important...it's just that, well a lot has happened in 10+ years...with all of us. But it's nothing to regret I guess. We offer pockets of communication...like our facebook profiles...or a blog, like this one. I think that blogs are a great way to peer into someone's life. Of course, you have to update it. And I try.

One thing I do not like about Facebook is an application I'm trying to get rid of...compare people...so far I'm on the low end of the most date able and best looking rating scale. Of course, I'm sure that if there were a 'friendliest' section, I'd probably be at the top. I guess after 10+ years, not much has changed.