Monday, November 24, 2008


The Life Group that Alana and I attend on Sunday night started a new series last night. It is the Foundations study on God. The first session deals with what God is like. When we have thoughts about God, we think of him in a particular ways, most of the time, not based on biblical truth.
As we talked last night we looked at what the bible says about God and then thought of our own personal views of God. We had the typical views that most humans have: God is a father; God is a judge, God I light, etc. As the pastor, I felt like I was supposed to have a really clear, concise, theological view of God that would impress everyone and bring some kind of clarity to the conversation. As we discussed last night and as I reflect on it this morning I am convinced that the very thought I had about that shows my lack of depth and understanding about the real God.
You see, as humans I think we spend time trying to impress others and God with how much we know, our deep philosophy or just how spiritual we are. It is the antithesis of who God is in reality. God is not like that. He is not out to impress or show off.
God is about love in action. He is about sacrifice and gentleness. He is about showing love where love in neither easy nor deserved. I guess what I have really come to understand about my view of God is that although I have years of training, know the theological arguments and am a “professional” in religion, I only know the surface of the God of the universe.
The more I think I know God and how he works the more I discover my thoughts are mere images and dreams of a wandering traveler. To quote John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace” once again: “I know two things; I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior.” In many ways, I guess that is enough.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christianity and Civilization

“If Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilization, compared with his, is only a moment.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Given the most recent elections in the United States, great debate has occurred within and without the church walls as to the meaning and significance of the times. I have spent the last two weeks listening, thinking and reflecting on this issue and have a few ideas that I want to share.

Whatever your political views may be one truth cannot be denied: the election of 2008 was historic in nature. More money was spent, more people voted and the very first African American President was elected. For many people this was a sign of great change and opportunity. For others it was cause for concern and alarm.

One thing we must always keep in mind is that God is the controller of the eternal destiny of mankind and he is the controller of the governments of the world. Scripture teaches that no government exists except that God allows it to exist (Romans 13:1). Some have taken this to mean that God mandated President-elect Obama to office. I stop short of that interpretation because God allows man to make free choices and decisions. It does not necessarily mean that God approves of our choices. As individuals we make decisions that honor God and as societies we make decisions that dishonor God. But what is clear is that God is still God, no matter who the President of the United States happens to be.

I am fascinated by the above quote by Lewis because it seems that in the wave of emotion that has swept our nation in the past weeks we seem to have forgotten that the United States is not an eternal entity. Governments, civilizations, societies and cultures all fade from the world except to live on in the pages of history. But individuals, they are the one eternal creation.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
Lord Alexander Tytler (1747-1813)

My point is this: God’s call to humanity is to love him and love others. That is how Jesus defined the law that rules men’s lives in Matthew 22. As followers of God our job is not to rely on government to be the answer to life’s solutions. Nor is our role to be afraid of our government. We serve an eternal king who has an eternal perspective.
If the church in America works together to love God, love others and seek the wisdom of God in the daily affairs of our lives, we will see life and liberty in ways only dreamed of in the social construct of our day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life Lessons

If you can't tell, my family is really into sports. Kimmie loves soccer, Zach did play baseball but now loves basketball, and Emily has been a hoops head her entire life. We spend many days, nights and weekends in gyms or at fields. We spend almost as many hours counseling after things don't go right or celebrating when things do. (By the way, Zach won his basketball game with a free throw in the final 10 seconds the other day!!!)
I have a motto I use with our kids. I am especially drilling it into Emily's head as she has begun her sophomore year on the varsity team. Before every game and every practice I remind her, either through a text message or talking with her of four simple words: "No Blame. No Complain."
It is so easy when things go wrong on the court to pass the blame to someone else or complain about someone elses failure. The referees were bad (okay that one is mostly true) my teammates didn't hustle, I got fouled, I got pushed, the coach is a jerk. That last one really hurt when I was the coach!!

The same is true in life for us adults. We tend to blame and complain when things don't go our way. We pass the buck, attack the messenger, or simply refuse to accept that maybe we are the problem. I am always fascinated by people who want all the responsibility and none of the accountability. It is a trap that has weighed me down far more times than I would like to confess.
So, here is my challenge: take 1 day where you don't blame or complain. See if you can do it. Don't gripe about your boss, don't complain about traffic, don't suggest that your co-worker is the source of contention in your life. Take the 4 Word Challenge!!
No Blame! No Complain!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I have a band that I really like that most people have never heard of. To be honest I don’t know if they still are around or doing anything, but I still pop in a CD occasionally and veg out as I drive down the road. The band is “Everybody Duck” and they came out of Hume Lake camp in California. They have some cool late 90’s guitar driven songs that are fun and really hit the sweet spot when you need to travel light.
One of their songs is called “Shakespeare.” The chorus simply says this:
“You do Jesus/Just as well as you do Shakespeare/ and frankly that’s not very good at all/
The church is your theater/ and tradition is your script/ but where you gonna be when the final curtain fall?”
It is not deep meaning rock and roll, but the point is good. Most of us do our Christian lives about as well as we could do Hamlet. Remember reading Shakespeare in high school and having no idea what he was talking about? I remember sitting in class at Kirby High as Mrs. Patterson tried to explain it to us. I never got it. The key to understanding Shakespeare is the same as understanding the King James Bible: you have to speak Elizabethan English.
My point is this; we will never get our relationship right with Jesus until we invest in it. We spend time reading the bible, listening to others teach and praying through scripture and we develop a deeper appreciation for what Jesus had to tell us. But most of us treat it like we did high school Shakespeare: we simply endure it.
Jesus told us that to truly be his follower we had two things to do: Love God and love others. Matthew 22:40 tells us that all the rest of the bible narrative rests on those two things. When we invest in those areas of life, we find that we have the ability to love God and others at deeper levels than we ever imagined.
So, are you doin’ Jesus like you do Shakespeare?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taking Flight

One of the greatest things about living in South Florida is watching the Space Shuttle launch. On Friday night my kids and I watched on a clear night as the shuttle took flight. The moon was full, there was not a cloud in the sky and we could see the shuttle for several minutes. We could see it separate from the rocket booster and the flames behind it extinguish as it took orbit. It was very cool!!!
I picture that and think about our lives as followers of Christ. Many times it begins with an explosion of excitement that people see for a while. We have some dramatic experience that helps us to begin this new journey with Christ and it is incredible to watch.
What people don't see is all the behind the scenes work. It takes months and months to prepare the shuttle for launch. I believe that God works in our hearts for a long time until we are finally ready to launch into this new relationship with him. Then, after an amazing start, we settle in to the tasks of becoming fully devoted followers of God. It is usually not as dramatic at takeoff and most of the time, no one is watching this part.
Sometimes I think we focus so much on the launch that we miss the important stuff. We miss the growing process and the behind the scenes work that God does to draw us and others to himself. It is not always impressive and not nearly as exciting, but it is just as important.
This week, I want to challenge you to do some real work on your flight plan. Study God's Word. Listen to his voice. Share your observations and your questions. This is the deep space flight that God wants to develop in our lives. As we grow in him we will learn to soar into unknown spaces of his limitless love.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One of Those Lives

Some people have one of those days. I feel like I have one of those lives!! You know what I mean? The last few weeks have been amazing in ministry and brutal in person. I have gone from incredible joy and celebration to incredible depths of hurt and pain. The culmination of most of that has been the death of my dad and the trip to the service. It has left me feeling ragged, strung out and feeling like a shadow of myself.

I was telling my brother the other day that the best thing that happened one day last week was the car wash broke the antenna on Alana’s Suburban. Literally, that was the highlight for me. Personally, it was a nightmare.

As I look back on it, I realize that on the same day about 40 people from LifeQuest gathered together to make blankets to send to some missionaries in Mexico to help them minister to the poor in their community. The same day, a small group from our church put together a new church sign to face the Turnpike entrance next to the church. The same day people rallied around to cover the weekend service so I could go be with my family in Mississippi.

It has been a week of less than joyful moments. But I am reminded that Paul told us that the troubles of this present age are of no comparison to the joy of the age to come (2 Corinthians 4:17). I am also reminded that he who is in me (Christ) is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

I don’t understand it all. Why does it pour when it rains in our lives? Why isn't it all just easy and joyful? Why does God allow pain and heartache to accompany joy and celebration?

Greater minds than mine have tried to understand. I know very little when it comes to the ways of God. But, as John Newton the author of Amazing Grace said, “I know I am a great sinner and Jesus is a great savior.” For me, that is enough for now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Update on My Dad

If you have read on here in the last few weeks you know that my dad has been very ill. He passed away about 30 minutes ago and is now free from the pain and struggles of this life. Please pray for my mom and my family as we travel to Mississippi for the services this weekend.

Monday, November 3, 2008

True Identity

I couldn't help but post a picture of "Hannah Montana" on this weeks blog. Of course, that is not the real Hannah Montana, that is my daughter Kimberly who dressed up like a rock star who is dressed up to avoid looking like Miley on the Disney show "Hannah Montana." If you have a young daughter in the house you know what I mean. If you don't, well this is where Google comes in handy.

We had an awesome time trick or treating with our kids. Zach was a punk rocker and Emily was Sarah Palin. I also posted a picture of Zach. Emily would kill me if I posted pictures of her!!! We went trick or treating with some friends and had a blast. literally when we poured lighter fluid in a pumpkin and set it on fire, but that is a story for another day.

I was thinking about Halloween and costumes and Hannah Montana this morning and could not help but think about how we dress up and pretend in real life as well. We go through life putting on masks to hide pain, shame or grief, and we act as those everyone owes us something. We are so guarded with our true identities that we live life as split personalities. We live as rock stars, super heroes or martyrs unworthy of love, attention or even pity.

But Christ has called us to so much more. We are called to live in the beauty of the kingdom of the eternal king. We are called to live as children ofthe king. We are called to be heirs of the living God. Mostly we live our lives putting on "airs" and not living how God really designed us to live.

This week I am making a serious effort to get over a life of masks and images. I want to live as a true son of God. I want to experience life in reality and in the glory of Jesus. I want to take seriously the idea of living as God has made me: a child of the king!!!

"He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and his will." Ephesians 1:5