Saturday, November 5, 2011

The System....

I awoke to a familiar sound this morning. The familiar sound Monday through Friday is cereal clinking the bowl as it's being poured, Channel 10 news (to hear the weather just one more time), coffee being brewed, and family shuffling off to school....wife included. But this....this is Saturday! And every Saturday I wake up to one familiar sound...fighting. Fighting? Yes, fighting over the dreaded Video Game line up. "And Batting first..." This is the actual problem; my boys are fighting over who should be first. They don't get to play during the school week, for obvious reasons. So every Saturday they wake up early, which is funny since I have to pull them out of bed during the week day, and see who plays first. So this morning, I wake up to the sounds of mean spirited arguing...can you relate?

Today,something was epiphany. A late night bible reading was about to shine forth like the shimmery shine coming through my window. The death of fall brings about the extra color of life....and I had the parable for the early morning.

My epiphany came in large part from Michael Card's book, "Luke, the Gospel of Amazement". It is an imaginative commentary on the Gospel of Luke. It's a must have. He records in Luke 22:7-30 the argument of the disciples about who is the greatest. And then you ask..."Which argument?" Well, this is the one where the backdrop is the last supper. What is funny about this conversation is not what is said but what is missing. In Card's book, he points out that the washing of the disciples feet is not recorded. In fact, none of the synoptic gospels record this event. Only John records this event, years after the other Gospels are written. It takes the one who is most intimate with bring out what was most humilating to Christ.

This living parable was definitely not seeker sensitive. In Roman times, you never saw a statue of a god in a kneeling form...not because it would signify they were worshiping something, but it was only that a slave took that position. Luke, who might have been a slave himself, might not have deemed it nescarry to record such a controversial move.

Nevertheless, Card states that maybe Christ was finally exhausted with words in trying to communicate servant-hood over their consistent foolish argument on "who is the greatest" needed a living parable. There is so much more to write on this but I have to get back to my own living parable.

As I lay in bed and my boys come to my room, I tell them to go to the kitchen table...since this is where most parables are thrown-down, it would make a great early morning breakfast meal...."Parable O's anyone?"

So I read them the story and give them my late night revelation. What happened next was something I could not have even asked for...but it's not what you think.

Wesley says, "We need a System! Give us an order of playing and then we don't have to fight". Then, it dawned on me...we always want a system. Now, I am not saying that this was not a logical idea or even a good idea. I wouldn't have to hear fighting on Saturday morning and maybe I could have those extra thirty minutes of sleep I keep looking for. But this was not the first thing that went through my mind....

We can either be slaves to a system that tries to legislate a heart, or kneel in worship to a God who "didn't make equality something to be grasped, but took the form of a slave".

Will the system tell you what to do today? Or can you take a few minutes out to gaze at the slave who changed the "rules" once and for all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

γραμμή τερματισμού

I was supposed to put the second part of a blog I posted last week, but let me interrupt with a little thing God did today....

I went to my second Cross Country race today. No, No, not for me, but for my son Lake who is in the third grade. Let me set the stage...

It was at Cove Lake. The mountains, majestic in the distance, and the lake hugging the course, served as a perfect backdrop for a memorable race. The girls raced, then the boys. Both races begin with a couple hundred kids lined up like scottish warriors waiting for Mel Gibson to say, "They may take our water bottles but they can't take our Gatorade!" The only thing missing from the racers were kilts, blue war paint, and spears. I have never seen anything like it. At the sound of a gun, hundreds of kids raced for one goal....the Finish Line.

It was a clear day, not a cloud in the sky, yet the water works almost came down. Not from the sky, but rolling down my cheeks. I don't really know what came over me but when I saw these kids crossing the Finish Line I about lost it...and it wasn't even my kid! All of the different expressions on these kids faces were priceless. From happiness to relief to confidence and my favorite...pain.

Kids crossing in pain got me choked up. Kids pushing their bodies to the point of pain just got to me. I guess it wasn't just the pain but pain handcuffed to pleasure. The pleasure of finishing. I saw it in my son's eyes.

You know how you can think one thousand thoughts in one second? But to express those thoughts would take ten pages? Well, I don't have the time to write that and you don't have the time to read them. But indulge me a little...

Earlier this summer, I was able to go the Crosswalk Reunion, a reunion for all those who went to the youth group of Trinity Chapel. It was nice to see people I had not seen in 15-20 years. During the reunion, we had people share about how much Crosswalk meant to them. My friend, Paul, got up and shared his testimony and it brought tears to those in the room. But one thing he shared stuck with me. He looked at everyone in the room and said, "I'm finishing this thing...I'm going to finish this race"! When you give your life to Christ at an early age, sometimes you don't have years of pain to go through to test that faith. Now, twenty years later, I can echo the same sentiments as my friend Paul. With years of pain built up...dissapointments, false expectations, mixed with the awesome faithfullness of God...I am going to Finish this Race!

Today finally put art to Paul's words. It summed it up in a living painting. We may not finish first, but if we don't finish this race in Pain and Pleasure...maybe we never ran the right race. Loving Jesus involves pain, but it is blended with the pure pleasure of serving Him...isn't that worth fighting for...worth finishing for?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Can't get away from it....

My son sends me a text... Hey today at school "Billy" and I talk about church and he says he doesn't go to church, so I said we could get him a thing for every Sunday morning At first, I didn't understand what Sam was talking about. He was referring to his friend who does not go to church. When I got home and we were talking about his day at school, he was interpreting his text for me. I don't believe I am the only parent who has to have these daily interpretations. He basically was saying since "Billy" doesn't go to church we could get him some Bibles for his family and bring church to him. This, of course, is without any kind of permission or acknowledgement from the parents....but nevertheless, awesome! Images of Sam and I showing up at this family's door on Sunday and barging in to have church with them was kinda fun to think about.... Sam didn't blink an eye, or try to think of a reason or "plan" to get him to come to church. The common sense of it all was obvious to him...but still hard for some of us to grasp, "Bring church to HIM"! As a parent, I was proud. As a Christian...convicted. You know, we can't get away from it. This whole thing is "Incarnational". Is that a word? If not, maybe that is the point. Words need to be fleshed out or this whole thing is bunk. Jesus didn't bring us to Himself before he came down to us. It is amazing when you read the scriptures with the theme of incarnation running through your mind. Try it...IT will start to revolutionize the way you walk with Christ...and disrupt the way you walk here on earth. I think of two examples of this most passionate theme in scripture.... Elisha experienced incarnation in a very interesting way. The woman who was promised a son by Elisha has come back to him in distress. The son, the apple of her eye, is now dead. Elisha, seeing the distress and desperateness of the woman, with no hesitation sends Gehazi to raise the boy up. Gehazi runs as fast as he can to the boy and lays Elisha's staff on the boy's face. And you know what happened? "Nothin'!" (you have to say this like De Niro in the "Untouchables"). Gehazi comes back and tells Elisha that he is still dead. So Elisha goes and lays his body...mouth to mouth...nose to nose...hand to hand....feet to feet....right on that dead boy. Then the dead boy sneezed on him and opened his eyes! Elisha should have known this was the only thing that would have worked. His mentor, Elijah, did the same thing to raise a boy back to life. Even though the methods of miracles in the bible change from book to book, the lesson here is shouting through the ages as the church grapples with social media and a technological age that rivals personal touch. We've got to get dirty and physical. Sending "Elisha Staff" text messages through a wireless 4Gehazi network doesn't get the job done. We've got to get down on the dead...that's it. This whole thing is about a baby in a manger....and when we get away from that, we get away from the gospel. I will give the second example in the next blog post. Can you give me an example of Incarnation in the Bible? Shout it out to me, or better yet, deliver it in person.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Part 2: "Does anyone get Saved Anymore?"

I was driving down the road with my boys the other day. Usually I am the one calling our family to a "Throwdown", but this time, my boys called one on me!

We were discussing how I used to be a youth pastor. I was in ministry for 8 years. Somehow, my boys and I got around to talking about some of the things I have seen over the years...the ugly side of humanity. Also, for the last 4 years I have been a Membership Rep. I go into various homes each day and have seen all sorts of things! My oldest son, Wesley, turns to me and says, "I have wondered why you are not a pastor anymore, but now I know. He took you out of that so you could go into these homes everyday and share about Jesus..." OUCH! Whoa now, I'm the one who does the Throwdowns around here! That cut me to the quick. I have prayed with people over the years and have shared a little...but not in the way my son was suggesting. I'll get to this later...

Does anyone get saved anymore? My friend here in Knoxville recently prayed for two people to receive a mormon and one a salesman, both came to his door. The story was awesome! I was so pumped up after I heard it. My friend Paul and my son Wesley challenged me...

Look at the picture on the right again. I know, you are sick of it but it is just to cool.

After viewing Homer's work in a National Academy exhibition, one critic remarked that his paintings had a "rude vigor and grim force that is almost a tonic in the midst of the namby-pambyism of many of the other pictures on display." I love this quote! Because Saving someone's life requires no "namby-pambyism "! My son called out my guts...but what kind of guts?

Courage is essential in the Christian Life. Courage takes guts, and to share the gospel is not for the faint of heart. But I believe there is a deeper level of guts that we need...and Jesus had it!

Matthew 14:14 says that "Jesus had Compassion on them"...speaking of the crowds. That word, Compassion, literally means he "felt it in his guts". I believe gut level compassion will always move us...even when fear is all around us.

I started praying. "God just give me Compassion for one every day!" So the other day, my boys and I were in the mall. I prayed earlier that morning, "God give me compassion for one." I wasn't even thinking about my prayer and my guts stirred. A Muslim man selling shades at the mall. Fear started to come in...and I almost left, but compassion and obedience were calling. I went back, shared that Jesus loved him, and asked if I could pray for him. He declined, but the seed was planted. My boys were a little perplexed but then we had a great talk about the Spirit of God moving...even at the mall. Wesley was excited.

It is one thing to blog about this and another thing to do it. I remember the line in Keith Green's song, "The Sheep and the Goats"..."The only diffrence between the sheep and the goats is what they did...and didn't DO!!!! I know Calvin and Luther would roll in their graves...

So I am on a journey everyday, "God give me compassion for one!" I am excited to see what happens in the coming month.

Also, if you could vote on the poll question, I would appreciate it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Does anyone get saved anymore?

This blog is in response Am I missing something? Does anyone get saved anymore? Before I get to the obvious, I just want to bring attention to the piece of art on the right side of my blog. This is an etching done by Winslow Homer, who was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in American art. I am not an expert on art, but I wanted to type in the word "saved" in the google toolbar and see what happened. I came up with the usual trash, but this etching, called Saved, was a treasure. Just stare at it for really...I dare not explain it.

This etching almost made me cry...almost. Maybe it would have been beneficial for the tears to come rolling out. But when I look at this in juxtaposition to the question, "Does anyone get Saved anymore?" It makes me want to go tell the man at Weigels about the love of God. Yes it is great when the preacher prays for 10 souls on Sunday morning. It is amazing when the evangelist prays for 10,000 in a meeting half way around the world. But it is absolutly precious when one leads one...when one unknown man saves a limp and tired soul out of the dangerous sea of, well...hell.

Now to the obvious. Yes, people get saved...still. I think the question is...Does anyone get saved around me anymore? Even my son is praying for people at school...I need to take a class from him.

I was coming back from a missions trip back in the year 2000 from Peru. We just saw around 1200-1500 people give their life to Christ. On the plane ride from Lima to Miami, I had an older man, well in to his 60's sit next to me. When the plane took off, I was gong to sleep, but this gentleman had other plans. I really don't remember how the conversation went, but he started asking us about what our group was doing since we all had goofy t-shirts on. I started talking to him about the Lord. He was an atheist. Well, we spoke for about 5 hours. When the plane was about to land I asked him if he wanted to give his life to Christ. He hesitated...then said yes. As we were praying, the lights of the plane went out, the only sound was our voices. Then the lights came back on. While wiping tears from his eyes...he thanked me. The reason I write this is because of the painting. I totally thank God for the 1500 souls that week. But the face I remember that week is the soul that moves me the most. I know it's not about me...but wow! God etched a beautiful picture in that plane...and it is priceless to Him.

So look at the etching again...what do you see?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Good SAMaritan!

We sat down tonight at dinner to do our Throwdown and it was Sam's turn to pick the parable. He picked "The Parable of the Good Samaritan". Sam chose it because it had his name in it! Also, this parable probably fits him pretty good. So, I will take a minute to brag on him a little...

First of all, I read the parable to my family tonight and he just about told it back to me verbatim. Now, you may not be impressed with that but I am. He has always been a storyteller, but I saw how he can take these scriptures and parables and tell them from his heart to his friends...and anyone for that matter. Our small group is starting to use "storying" as a method of discipleship and evangelism. Check out our blog @ This is right up Sam's alley!

Secondly, Sam is a Good Samaritan! Latley, he has been the one volunteering to help the special needs kids in his class. In fact, all year he has been the one who helps them. Teachers have been coming up to my wife, who teaches at their school, saying how much they are impressed with Sam! I am glad that is making such an influence in his school! Now if I could just get him to pick up his room, stop hitting his bother and stop eating like a Carbivore!

The whole parable is told because the lawyer is looking for a loophole...hmm, interesting. This parable may have never been uttered from the mouth of Christ if it wasn't for a guy looking to cut corners. Don't we all! I hate it when I come up on someone "by chance" Luke 10 vs 31. When I say I hate it...I mean it is never convenient. But God calls us to something better! Religion looks for loopholes...Grace looks for opportunities! I pray this week to have Eyes of Grace! I didn't "GO" like I wanted to do last week...may I Go with grace this week...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Bat Phone....

I was in the car with my boys the other day and we were talking about the Great Commission. I told them where it was at in the Bible. I told them the scripture. We spoke about it a little. I asked them, "Do you know who spoke the Great Commission"? Wesley said, "The Commissioner?"

I had to laugh. Images of Neil Hamilton, Commissioner Gordon in the '60's Batman & Robin, came running into my mind. Also, how stupid that show was...and awesome at the same time! All the "Bamms, Booms, Oww's" are hillarious! But the image above all images to me...besides Ceaser Romero scaring the crap out of the Red Bat Phone!

Maybe we need a call from the Great Commissioner today. What would the phone call be like? What important message would be on the other end of the line? Probably a message we ignored the first time we picked up the phone! "Ouch, Bam, Boom!!!"

Maybe it is a call from Japan...not to send a check, but maybe to go! Just like Keith Green once said, "God can't cash out of state checks in Heaven!" We can never ignore the "Go" in the Great Commission. Japan needs us. At the end of WWII, Macarthur asked for 1,000 missionaires. We sent business men instead. Just be praying...maybe God is calling you and me to go! In the middle of destruction...God wants us to go!

Maybe he is just calling us to go across the street! I know we have heard this 1,000 times...but one response to "Go" is all it takes. I am pledging to pick up the phone this week...GO!!!!

While we can't ignore the "GO" we really can't ignore the "LO" of the Great Commission! "Lo, I am with you until the end of the Age". Without the faith in the "LO", the "GO" means nothing. The "Lo" gives us the confidence that Jesus is not only giving the orders but is leading the way. His presence changes everything! It is the difference between night and day...Hot and cold...the Joker and Batman! I pray not only for us to be "Goers" this week...but to be "Loers" as well.

So when the phone glows Red this week...pick it up in confidence that The Great Commissioner is sending us on a mission...and the irony of it all is that he is calling from the place we need to go...He is already there!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Favor Flavor

First of all, my family did our Throwdown tonight at dinner. Wesley, my oldest, was excited and reminded us to do it at dinner...I'm glad they want to do it and it isn't just initiated by Steph or I. We did the parable of the Pearl of Great Price. It was a simple Throwdown...but it is always great to hear my boys explain the parables to me...isn't that what it's all about? They realized that the pearl of video games may sometimes take precendence of their time with God...well, "sometimes" may be an understatement.

One more item to note is that I love my Small Group!!! We are getting ready to start "Storying the Gospel"! I encourage everyone to read, Truth that Sticks; How to Communicate Velcro Truth in a Teflon World by Avery T Willis Jr, Mark Snowden: I know that we will be blogging about our Small Group's experience in this great way to bring the Bible to life! More to come....

I have been praying over Luke 4: 16-20 this particular over some missionary friends of mine. While I was driving around Greenback, TN got to the part where it states..."to proclaim the year of God's favor!" I felt like the Lord say, "Ask me what that looks like!" SO...."What does that look like?"

Well, obviously it is all the things that preceedes that part of the scripture...Eyes of the blind open, the poor have the gospel preached to them, freedom to the captives, the oppressed are free! But that is what it looks like for everyone else, those who we have opportunity to minister...But what does it look like for us?

We have to go no further than vs's 28-29: The year of God's favor started like this...

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Wow...the year of God's favor started off with...persecution. Now, this is hard for us to realize because the biggest persecution we usually feel is from somebody from the ACLU telling O'Reiley how my son can't pray at Public School....please. But when I pray for my missionary friends and they are in the middle of poverty and makes sense. Stories of imprisonment and trials are common.

So the Flavor of Favor is...Death in us, Life in them. This was the flavor of the month...from the beginning. How do we do this in comfortable America? Well, that is a flavor for you to one can taste it for you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rightfully so...

Tonight's Throwdown dealt with the parable of the Unmerciful Servant. We are all familiar with this parable as Peter's question is a catalyst for a secret of the Kingdom to be revealed..."How many times must I forgive my neighbor, up to 7 times?"

It is funny how if you put this parable in terms such as, "So if your friend threw your Nintendo DS off a boat, with all your games...would you forgive him?" This seems to hit home a little more than a million dollars...or a huge debt. And, just like Jesus, he knows how to always hit home with us.

It is great how my boys all acknowledged that you have a right to hold a grudge. They all understood that we all have a right to be mad...but it fails in comparison to being free.

In my job I come across many people. The last 4 years have shown me a lot. I have seen one man in total bitterness because his son in law killed his grandson. This man could barely operate. He was weeping all the time, and in total anger...rightfully so. On the otherhand, I also had a woman tell me she was shot three times in the head by her husband...not only does she live to tell about it...but she has forgiven and lives in freedom. I'm not saying she doesn't have things to work through...but you cannot tell what happened to her...all due to forgiveness. She lives in freedom...and rightfully so!

Forgiveness is a Divine principal. It is totally divine. The fate of the universe rests on this principal. You don't even have to be a Christian to use it...because when in operation, it works. Christians, we have all the more freedom to use it. Even Dave Ramsey couldn't get us out of the debt we are in! If you have ever heard his radio show, people call in and tell Dave how much debt they paid off...and then he plays the "freedom" yell from Mel Gibson's, "Braveheart". Wouldn't it be cool if we all called in a radio show and told how much debt Christ paid for us? Wow...

We all have to deal with forgivenss in someway. And sometimes it is hard to stare it in the face. But you got to grab that face and kiss it... and once we kiss the lips of forgiveness...freedom kisses us back!
No...I didn't get that from a fortune cookie...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"I didn't give you that to wear!"

We had our Throwdown at dinner tonight and I am always amazed what comes out of my kids mouths. Some good...some bad! Not only do we discuss the Kingdom of God but my boys like to say the word "poop". If you have boys, I think you understand. I don't have I don't know if they are just as fascinated with the word.
Isn't it amazing how God chose to relay the wisdom of the Kingdom through simple stories! I love discussing the Kingdom with my children. Tonight we discussed the parable of the Wedding Feast. This is one of my favorite parables because of it's evangelistic bent. There is so much in this parable but the part that got a hold of me is the part where God casts out the gentleman at the wedding feast because he didn't have the proper wedding attire on. Now, a little background here...When there was a wedding, the father of the groom would send wedding clothes, possibly a sash, for those invited...A Gift! So when all came, they would be wearing the proper wedding clothes. I asked my boys, "Why did the man get kicked out of the Wedding Feast?" Sam, never short of creative statements said," Hey, I didn't send you that to wear!" saying it like what the man wore was out of style!
It made me think though...sometimes we wear the wrong things in the Kingdom. God gives us proper clothes to wear...but we refuse to wear his righteousness! I like the idea that Christ lays out here. Righteousness is something we put on....not attain!
One more thing. Lake asks tonight,"Why would God invite the good people and the bad people?" It's great to know that when we finally sit down at that feast our identity is not what we were...but what we wear...His Righteousness!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I read this poem out of Jimmy Seibert's book, The Church Can Change the World. It was written by Carl Gully...I love the imagery. It is titled, Otherness...

That's what we're all about. Not trying to be like anyone or anything else. Just Jesus. It makes us look like aliens. Foreigners in a distant land. We stick out. And huimbly so. Why? Becasue the way we love is unusual. Out words bring tears of laughter and solace. Our music and dance are fueled by a different drummer and a better one at that. The fruit? A different song. A different value system. Not pushing the edge of sin and hell. Not ok with status quo. A place where beneficial vs permissible is clearly understood. And no one even wants the boundary line. We would much rather lunge out to the Kingdom's cutting edge...which is heaven's arms. Sitting on his lap is fine with me. His heart beat rythmically puts me to rest. Not apathetic slumber that leads to poverty. But deep love that thrusts us to Nineveh. Macedonians are still calling. And Ethiopians are still asking for someone to come and help them understand. And how do we know this?
For we look into different pair of eyes. Not just the window to his soul. But a magnifying glass of theirs. Look again: His tears aren't clear-and they don't taste like salt. Ther're colorful banners of the nations...and taste like the blood that was shed for them. A tear trickles down and I see Sri Lanka. Another hangs in the corner of His eye and deep inside I see a Sudanese lady worshipping over the family that just abandoned her. Here comes three more: Canada, France, Mexico. As he wipes his eyes, I see the colors of Morrocco, Russia, Scotland, and China on the palms of his hands. And where do those tears go? Not just stored in a bottle; but The Bottle. The one that held the cries of the saints of Germany. The one that held the deep secrets of Thailand's orphans, America's addicts, and Indonesia's widows. The groans of North Korea's underground church. And South Korea's prayer mountain. All in the bottle. Waiting for me to open my hands so he can pour them out. Why would he trust us with these treasures? These precious children of His? Because He calls us family. And He can trust us. Because we have seen the otherness of God. And long for more. For if You, God, were the same as the rest, You wouldn't be Holy. And my unholiness craves Your holiness. Your cleansing. You. In the process, we have become"other". And the importance of that? So many stories being told. Vying for my affecctions. My Passions. My heart.
But I refuse to be caught up in the small stories that seem brilliant at the moment, but soon become faded glory. I desire to be taken into His story. Into Your great plot for me and mankind. So I leap into the chariot of fire and ask for humility and courage to leave it all behind: NO MATTER THE COST! Because You desreve it. And they need it. Because I love You. And they need You. And the Spirit and the bride are still crying out, "Come Lord Jesus" And You will. You always do.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lake's Throwdown!

Wow...I haven't blogged in a long time! But it's time to start again. My boys love our Throwdown meetings so we decided to start again. We have a little different of a format in that we are doing it at dinner time. This is great for two reasons: 1. Everybody actually is still at the table by the time Steph and I take our seats and 2. We digest the word with Steph's great food...I'm a blessed man! By the way, my wife is the best cook! Homemade chicken fingers...Salsa Verde chicken bake...Home made Quesadilla's, just to name a few.
Tonight's Throwdown was good, we discussed the parable of the Rich foolish man. But what happened afterward was really cool. Lake, my youngest came up to me and told me about what they did in Sunday school. There was something handed out to the kids and it asked, "What kind of job would you like in church?" There was things on there like Pastor and other church occupations. He told me he signed up for "Floor Cleaner". I asked him, "Why did you sign up for that?" He said, "Nobody else did!"
Wow! I was impressed. I have to admit, I would not sign up for it either...but Lake got it...he got the Kingdom.
I was expecting to lead our Throwdown meeting tonight...but I guess Lake threw it down! Out of the mouths of babes....