Monday, February 28, 2011

Our team in Haiti

We have a team on the ground in Haiti with YWAM where they are building a duplex for two displaced families.  They took with them cereal, toilet paper, trash bags, paint brushes, pencils, a few tools, and some tractor parts.

Tractor parts?

Yes.  Tractor parts.

Kevin, a YWAM staffer, sent an email and told us his tractor broke.  He needed some small parts to come with our team.  Done for a whopping $16.42.

Here's what I think is cool about that:  God knew that the tractor was in trouble, that we were coming, and that there's a Case IH store down the street.  And we got to be a part of God's ongoing work in Haiti because of three little tractor parts for $16.42.

Sometimes Kingdom investment is small but has a big impact.

Seems like Jesus said something about that... (Matthew 13.31-32)
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
Any small investment you need to make today?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sermon Notes from Sunday 2.27.11

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday's message.  We continued the series on worship while jumping off from the book of Mark into Revelation 4-5.  To view these notes in PDF and get sermon audio, visit  You will also be able to get sermon audio on iTunes via our podcast.

Lean Forward
Part 2 – Sing!
Revelation 4-5

The people of God have always been a singing people (Mark 14.26). 

Environment of Adoration
  • Component #1:  Singing
    • We worship Him because He made us (4.11).
    • We worship Him because He saved us (5.9).
    • We worship Him because He transformed us (5.10).
  • Component #2:  casting our crowns (4.10).
  • Component #3:  involvement of our bodies (4.10).
Environment of Declaration
  • Dynamic #1:  we say things that are true about God.
  • Dynamic #2:  we remember what He has done.
  • Dynamic #3:  we encourage one another.
  • Dynamic #4:  we instruct one another.
  • Dynamic #5:  we intercede for one another.
  • Result:  we often hear the voice of God through others.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Haiti Team - Godspeed, boys...

3:55 wake-up.

4:03 out the door.

4:07 pick up one passenger.

4:18 at the church building for rendezvous with the other five team members.

4:28 wheels are rolling to Hobby Airport.

4:50 drop 'em off, check 'em in, off they go.

Godspeed and good ministry, boys.  Pray for these guys and four from Mulberry Baptist in Houma, LA who will be joining them.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snakes are scary: Not sure if David had this in mind when he danced before the Lord...

It's 2:55 worth of Snakes are scary but so is this...

(a) Theology = sketchy

(b) Dancing = horrible

Thursday, February 24, 2011

He revealed Himself. On Purpose. The Wrap Up.

Once again, let me point out the driving force of these three blog entries:  because God chose to reveal Himself in language and images of His choosing, we don't need to be messing with those by...

  • Adapting a cultural image to God since that makes God in our image.
  • Adapting the language of His revelation to fit a cultural trend.

The first one we took up yesterday.  Yes, contextualization of the Gospel so that it makes sense is necessary.  Using images from culture to illustrate can be helpful (see Acts 17).  But neither of those can alter the essential message of God in Christ rescuing sinners (see Acts 17 again).

I know a guy who was a part of God's movement in my life.  In 9th grade, this guy lived out his faith like none I had seen.  It was a man wrapping his life around his faith rather than the cultural Christianity I was used to:  fitting my faith into my life.  He's now a social work professor and still as honest and forthright as he was then.  He's just liberal.  And I don't mean left of me but left of basically everyone.

One of the best conversations we had in the past few years regarded his willingness to refer to God as "God's self" and his leadership in a gender-inclusive conversation about God's identity.  My friend has no problem referring to God as she or s/he.  No patriarchal language for him.  No sir.

He has and will continue to adapt his language to the trend of culture toward inclusion.  I see two theological problems with that.  The first is simply that cultures and their trends change.  What's in vogue 50 years from now might make you look stupid today.  And because of the inherent sinfulness of the people within that culture, it will probably shift away from all things that are true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, and excellent.  It just seems like a bad linguistic investment.

Secondly, and more importantly, it assumes God was so dumb that He didn't recognize that others down the road might be offended at His lack of inclusion.  God should've thought through His revelation more carefully and not gone with a misogynistic, patriarchal culture to reveal Himself to humans.  We, today, are more in tune with what God should have said.  Baloney.  That kind of chronological snobbery is foolish and heretical.

God revealed Himself in ways of His choosing.  He chose Father.  He chose Son.  He chose King.  And the images and language then are just as valid and just as needed today.  For example, we need to know God as Father.  Any question about that can be answered with a look at the societal devastation of absent fathers.  We're not smarter, more in tune, or more evolved than God.  We're just arrogant when we think that we can reshape or reword how He's revealed Himself and it come out better for us.

The objection comes from picking up on the couple of seemingly feminine portrayals of God in the Scriptures.  I'll deal with two briefly.  One is Jesus wanting to gather Jerusalem under His wings like a hen her chicks (Matthew 23.37 and parallels).  I'll point out that it's a man saying that.  I'll also point out that as a dad, I like to do the same thing on family movie night - especially when the scary part is happening and it looks like the bad guy is going to win.  That doesn't make me feminine.  It makes me caring.  Good dads care.

The second comes from the portrayal of wisdom in Proverbs as a female.  Even a cursory reading of that clearly delineates God and Wisdom.  It's not saying God is a female named Wisdom.  It's saying the beauty of Wisdom (beauty being a feminine characteristic), as God possesses it, is indeed a beautiful thing.

So no language changes needed.  God knew what He was doing in giving us the images and metaphors in the Scripture.  And no bowing down at the altar or cultural trends will improve on it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

He revealed Himself. On Purpose. Part Deux.

Picking up where I left off yesterday, I'd like to take up this topic of God's revelation of Himself and why the images and language matter.  Two examples I'd like to point to as to how, in my opinion, it's okay to do contextualization of the message of God in Christ into the culture of our day.  I'll take one today and one tomorrow.

As a recap, this all started when a gal I knew at Baylor didn't like me razzing anyone and everyone who claims Jesus is My Valentine (see post on that here).  My point then, my point yesterday, and my point today is the same:  you can't just pick and choose who you want Him to be (though I don't think that was my friend's intent).  But, more dangerous to American evangelicals, neither can you talk about Him like you want to.  Classic, though overused, examples include The Man Upstairs or The Big Guy in the Sky.  It's right and good to help people understand who God is (a.k.a. contextualization).  But if you change the message of God or pick up metaphors from the culture which confuse the message of God (i.e. Valentine Jesus), that's not good.

Now to the example I mentioned earlier.

Christianity Today is running a great article on translating the Bible into Arabic and some of the issues it's causing.  Collin Hansen writes in his informative article, Son and Crescent, about the misunderstanding that the phrase, "Son of God" causes among Muslims.  In a word, they think it means God had sexual relations with Mary and thus it brings up some real issues because they have no context for trinitarian theology.  Because of the confusion, some of the translators use the phrase, "Beloved Son who comes from God."  It's theologically precise while not culturally confusing.  Others have taken issue with the fact that they have changed the Scripture by not using the literal phrase, "Son of God."  I think everyone who objects probably shouldn't ever use an NIV or NLT Bible since they use the same translation philosophy, technically called Dynamic Equivalence.  In essence, DE means they translate phrase for phrase to capture meaning in the translation rather than word for word.

So what does this mean for you and me, the average people on the street?  For me, it's a big fat reminder that I can't create or translate God into my own image.  No matter how cool it might seem, how many friends it might fetch me, how easy it might make evangelism, or how many people it might convince, I can't do that.

What good is it translating God to my neighbor if it's not really the true God I'm talking about?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

He revealed Himself. On Purpose.

I had a great set of interactions the other day with a Baylor alumnae on Facebook, where I often post the link to this blog.  Her argument against my Jesus is My Valentine post had to do with how God is love and He does meet her every need and His love is really enough.  Amen to that.

Amidst the conversations, accusations, and being called dogmatic ("it could benefit the masses to sometimes use less dogmatic statements about how people describe their love for Christ"), something really stuck in my craw.  No, it wasn't a person running to the worn and tired "you're just dogmatic" argument, although that is both worn and tired.  For all who use it, I offer that it's hard to biblical without coming across as dogmatic because you're talking about things that aren't your opinion.  Your other option is syncretism, it seems.  But I digress.

What struck me was the seeming lack of care for God revealing Himself to us in language and images of His choosing.  Why do I need to improve on how God chose to reveal Himself to me?  Why do I need to go beyond biblical imagery?  Why do I need to move beyond Father, Lord, King, etc.?

One of the dangers of preaching is using metaphors and images to help people understand the metaphors and images the Bible gives us.  My metaphors and images cannot be confused with God's.  Mine are illustration.  His are revelation.

More on this tomorrow.  I just don't think it's wise to pull images from this confused, broken culture and act or speak as if they're the revelation of God - no matter how much explaining you do.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Midweek Memo 2.22.11

Here is this week's column for our church's Midweek Memo...

Dear Church Family,

What a great time of worship on Sunday. Thanks for your continued responsiveness and readiness. I look forward to the rest of the series and hearing God speak to us about worship as singing, celebrating Communion, and giving. Just to give you a warning: we will intentionally be shaking things up some to remind ourselves that it's not songs, order, or any other item on our agendas that make it worship. What makes it worship is the anticipation of God’s people meeting with Him and responding with our allegiance, affection, and action.

And because we are and will be a people who worship with more than our lips, we are providing an opportunity for action coming up in April. We’re calling ourselves, as a church, to engage in concentrated service at Eagles Lift Ministries, some great folks who help unwed moms. Please set aside the first three Saturdays of April for this Season of Service. We have opportunities for all ages, shapes and sizes. There are things to paint, to pick up, and to plant. We’ll fix some stuff, help some folks, and put feet to our confession that worship is more than singing.

And one more note of explanation on our prayer bowl. For those who might not have been there this past Sunday morning, there is a big bowl in the front of the room. We’re inviting you to fill out prayer-commitment cards and drop them in that bowl any time you’re in the room. Cards are available right by the bowl and in the bulletins on Sunday morning. This is our commitment as a church to remind ourselves to pray for the lost and hurting around us. Every time you see that bowl, you’ll be reminded that Jesus is still in the business of saving sinners. We get to join Him in that process through praying and sharing. Dropping a card in the bowl won’t change anything. But praying will, because God listens and enjoys the incense that is the prayers of the saints (Rev. 8.2-4).

Thanks for being the people of God. I can’t wait to see what all God does in the future in us and through us.

Leaning forward, 

Not me. Only Him.

"My back really hurts."

That's what my lovely bride said to me the other morning.  Her being a physical therapist and tougher than everyone reading this (unless you're a Delta Operator...when it'd be a tie), I knew it hurt.  Being the kind and generous husband I am, I asked what I could do to help knowing full well I didn't have a clue.  A little KinesioTape, a phone call to our pharmacist friend to check on drug interactions, and a prayer later, she was out the door to work (still in pain).

I feel just as inadequate in ministry sometimes.  I have two degrees, would like a third, 15 years of experience, great mentors, and read a lot.  I still feel lost sometimes.  Counseling situations baffle me.  Leadership situations confuse me.  Relationship issues befuddle me.  Sometimes even the process of sermonizing (my wife's verb for it) escapes me.

Paul, after reflecting on the seriousness of ministry, asks in 2 Corinthians 2.16, "Who is sufficient for these things?"

Not me.  Only Him.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sermon Notes from Sunday 2.20.11

Here are the notes from today's sermon that kicked off our worship series.  To view these notes in PDF as well as hear the sermon audio, visit (these are normally available mid-week).  You can also find the sermon audio on iTunes and subscribe to our podcast.  

Lean Forward
Part 1 – A Beautiful Thing
Mark 14.1-11

Lean forward:  the invitation to worship God.
  • How we receive this hangs on whether we came to evaluate or engage.
  • That is measured by whether we brought expectations or anticipation.

Worship:  responding to God with our allegiance, affection, and action.

  • Worship always involves sacrifice (v.3). 
  • Her sacrifice was lavish (v.4-5).
  • Her sacrifice was physical. 

  • Where our priorities are pointed, our passions follow.
  • Everyone worships something.
  • Our culture’s favorite idol:  status.
  • Sometimes worship is affection, sometimes longing, and sometimes sorrow (v.8). 

  • What we do as worship often outlasts us (v.9).
  • What we do as worship reveals our allegiances (v.10-11).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Introducing: Snakes are scary, but so is this...

I don't like snakes.  I don't like them behind glass at a zoo.  I don't like them on display anywhere.  I like them dead.  That's just me.

I think my anti-love for snakes comes from being at my grandpa's house one day, stepping out in the woods that were next to his house to do what little boys do in the woods when they've had too much RC Cola to drink, and, in the middle of delivery, find a coral snake about 6 inches from my feet.  Were I not already in process, it would've scared it out of me and I would've had to explain how a 6-year old wet his pants.

I don't like snakes.  They scare me.  

So I get sent a lot of stuff in the email inbox.  Most of it promises me that Bill Gates says that if I forward the email to 12 people that 7 times the blessing will come back to me because I promise that I love Jesus more than everyone else and I'm proving it by forwarding the email because email forwarding is the primary love language of Jesus.

But I digress.

Some stuff shows up in my inbox and it's scary.  Some people mean it as a joke.  Some mean it seriously.  Either way, it's scary.  So in honor of these scary inbox occupants, I am starting a series called Snakes are scary but so is this.  I'll probably blog on one a week.  For some I'll provide commentary.  Some speak for themselves.  Are you ready to be frightened?

Lord?  King?  Savior?  Shepherd?  Door?  Way?  Truth?  Life?  Teacher?  Bread of Life?  Living Water?  Crucified?  Resurrected?  Intercessor?  Conquerer?  Creator?  Judge?  



But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Me

I was sitting with our personnel team last night doing my staff evaluation and reporting on the rest of the team.  Suddenly, I realized that it was my anniversary.

So without further ado, I'd like to congratulate the great people of Heritage Park for putting up with me as their pastor for 4 years.  Thanks for your tolerance, patience, willingness, and pliability.

You make it a joy to come to work every day.  It's never boring.  It is an honor.

I watch over your souls with joy (Hebrews 13.17).

Thank you.  And thanks to Jesus for giving me this calling and ministry.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rejoice (always)

Rejoice in the Lord, always.  Again, I say rejoice.

I read those words in Philippians this morning and two things struck me.

First, it's a command.  The Spirit, through Paul, isn't asking us to rejoice or inviting us to rejoice.  He's commanding that we rejoice.  But how can you command someone to rejoice?  That's like a dad saying to his teenage son, "Well, just get happy about it."  But the thing is, I have the capacity to produce joy in my kids.  We had kolaches and donuts for breakfast this morning = joy at the Henderson household.  Our Father gives gifts too, the greatest of which is Himself.  And this command serves as a great guard rail against the cliffs of bad attitudes and sour attitudes.  Obeying it means we focus on something other than whatever's making us mad, sad, or sour.  That lifts our eyes to God.

Second, rejoice always.  Boo.  No, seriously.  Boo.  Who wants to rejoice always?  Why can't I just be sad sometimes without God commanding me to rejoice even in the midst of sadness?  But His commands are good and for my good.  And, as stated above, I think it guards me from pathetic self-pity and gloom.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Midweek Memo 2.15.11

Here is the column I wrote for the Midweek Memo for February 15th...

Dear Church Family,

We’re moving into a busy season of ministry. We have two mission trips headed out in the next month. We’re putting a team on the ground in Haiti led by Clay Caldwell that leaves Feb. 26th and another team in northeast England led by Kyle Jackson over Spring Break. We’ll be introducing a push called Season of Service that will give us an opportunity to serve an incredible ministry here in the Houston area. And then we find ourselves in the midst of Easter celebration. Before you know it, summer is here.

What will undergird all this effort? It has been, is, and will be your prayers. Please pray for the mission trips, the efforts, the work, the ministries of Heritage Park. Pray as an individual. Pray as a family. When you gather in your Bible studies, please pray. And another prayer gathering happens at 6pm on Wednesday nights. That group is serious about prayer and they’d love to have you join them. Nothing we do will have an eternal impact apart from prayer. Join with me and many others in putting these things before our Father.



Ultimately each church will be evaluated by only one thing.  Its disciples.  Your church is only as good as its disciples.  It does not matter how good your praise, preaching, programs, or property are:  if your disciples are passive, needy, consumerist, and not moving in the direction of radical obedience, your church is not good.
~ Neil Cole


What would your life say about your church?  What part of any blame or credit is yours?  What part is your church's?  Where is the greatest need for change in your life?  What's your part in getting there?

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Tribute to My Valentine

I love my wife.

If you're reading this blog, there's a good chance you love my wife too.  Some of you have spent significant time together, others know us through the adoption process, and others because of ministry.  No matter the reason, thanks for indulging me on my Valentine's tribute to her.

I love her because I can always trust her to do the right thing.  We've done some hard things in marriage, faced down some tough decisions and situations.  We're still together, still love one another, and still genuinely like one another.

I love her because she has this really tender way of looking at me.

I love her because of how creative she is, clearly seen in her photography skills at her website.  But she's creative in a lot of other ways too.

I love her because she has great ideas and we have great conversations because of them.

I love her because she consistently looks out for our family.  She's a great mother to our three.  You can follow some of the insanity that is our life at her blog.

I love her because she loves Jesus.  A lot.

I love her because I know her.  And she's worth knowing.

I love you, Ginny.  Happy Valentine's Day.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sermon Notes from 2.13.11

Here are the notes from my sermon on February 13th.  It was a special day in the life of our church as we were celebrating our I Love My Church Family Banquet.  I preached the passage from Mark 12 on the greatest commandment.  As always, you can find these notes in PDF and sermon audio on or just the audio on iTunes.

I Love My Church Family
Mark 12.28-34

What makes us Church?
  • Recognition of and response to the uniqueness of God and His claims.
  • His primary claim:  love Him with everything.

Isn’t that narcissistic? 
  • He loved us first, inciting and inviting our love in return (1 John 4.19).

What does that mean?
  • It’s not a religious exercise (v.32-33).
  • Nothing in our personality remains untouched by Him (2 Cor. 5.14-15).

How do we do that?
  • Recognize and respond to the love that God has given us in Christ (1 John 4.10, 16).

What makes us Family?
  • In the same way we go “all-in” with God, we also love each other.
  • When we love our neighbor with this kind of love, we love God.
  • When we love our neighbor with this kind of love, we become the tangible expression of God’s love to them.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Grade-Level Leadership

It's Friday, warming up outside, and a half-day in school for my oldest.  Good day.

I had a great conversation one time with someone about leadership.  He recited a quote he was given which I'll pass along because I remember it many years later.

A-level leaders hire A-level players.  B-level leaders hire C-level players.

I like the insight there.  High-octane leaders generally aren't threatened by their own kind, precisely because they're high-octane and have plenty to do and want others around them who can help them get it done.  Those of less octane bring less-than folks onto their team.  Maybe because it's they don't want to feel threatened.  Maybe they just don't know any better.

It's true in homes, schools, churches, businesses, and every other place you can think that leadership happens.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Great little lesson...

This guy had death on his mind and knew he needed answers.

Best line:  "...all your questions and your uncertainty are only making things worse...I need someone who will look me in the eye and tell me how to find forgiveness because I am running out of time."

May we all have the courage to stare down death and ready ourselves for it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Counted, Counting...

Paul in Philippians 3 makes me think.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them rubbish...

He uses the same word three times.  His first use is in the perfect tense, which means it is a past event with present implications.  He counted it as loss back then and that reckoning is having an impact today.  But he shifts to the present tense:  he counts everything as loss, counts it all rubbish.

Maybe I'll blog another day on the content of what he counted loss, but today I'm struck by this reality of following Jesus:  I may have to remind myself of decisions that I made.

Paul made a decision to follow Christ and counted the cost.  But he also had to wake up the next day and make the same decision again.  His first decision was valid and right.  Making that first decision actually helps in the subsequent decisions - his past decision had an impact on his present decisions.  But he still had to do it.

I see this in pastorland.  A person makes a decision to forgive, then have to get up the next morning and decide to forgive all over again.  Clarifying their intention to be a forgiving person happens on a daily basis until their emotions aren't running their lives.  The same way with purity:  I'm going to be a pure person in thought and action.  That's fine until you get tempted by the ad on the side of your news website and you have to clarify again.  And hundreds of other examples.

So to anyone reading it, know that Paul made a decision and then had to clarify his intention to follow through on it.  You're not in bad company.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Midweek Memo 2.8.11

Here's my entry for this week's Midweek Memo...

Dear Church Family,

It’s fun to address you as that: church family. And better than any other I have known, we do church family very well. It’s a testament to your commitment to do the right thing when it’s hard and do the good thing when it’s inconvenient. This Sunday right after worship, we’ll have our I Love My Church FamilyLuncheon. I hope you stick around and celebrate with us.

I love our church family because I see generations mingling and imperfect people pursuing God. I hear voices exploding with praise coming from hearts of faith; some are filled with faith, some are fragile. I cheer our church family on mission to neighbors and coworkers and family and friends and Britons and Haitians. I love how you serve children, students, and one another. I love that we’re the kind of place people come to hang around, exploring God and what it means to know Him. See you Sunday to celebrate this and so much more.


300th post...

Well, dear reader, I'm not sure how we made it this far but this is the 300th post of this blog.  I've known it was coming for some time and have been working on thinking of something profound to say or offer some cool illustration from the daily files of Trent's walk with the Almighty or even some numerological insight tied to the number 300.

I have none of those.

Sorry for the let down.  You probably want more than anything to slam down your coffee cup in disgust and swear off this blog forever (that's how passionate I picture all the readers, hanging on every word I type).

But in case you're still here, let me offer two things...

First, thanks for letting me process life out loud here.  You reading it, responding to it, and occasionally sending it to someone else really is an honor.  Really.  So thanks.  I started this blog last Easter, thinking I'd try to say something helpful.  It's ended up helping me as much as anyone.  Highlight of the past 300 posts:  75 of them belong to the NT75 Challenge.  I love hearing the stories of how God worked in that time.

Second, the basic message of my life is that the Kingdom of God is available through Jesus and in it, the Spirit transforms us.  Because of that, everything must change.  And everything will.

Thanks for being here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Coffee and a little history...

So I'm sitting here drinking a little coffee from my extra large mug I got in England and am thinking through my week.  There's a string of thoughts that all tie together and so please indulge my stream of consciousness writing this morning.

We had a great time of worship yesterday as the gathered church.  One of the highlights for me was when the saints belted out On Christ the Solid Rock, a dearly loved hymn.  They sang it like a mass choir, honking it off like geese trying to beat the first freeze.  I stood and listened most of the time.  And I thought about the people who were singing it who had nothing but Christ to stand on:  the beautiful lady riddled with cancer, the grandparents who left their grandson in jail, the guy whose wife just won't come to church, and the gal who just can't seem to make a good relational choice.

We sang, "When darkness tries to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace."  It started building as I was thinking about those people.  "In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil."  Even a deeper sense of what those folks were experiencing while singing those lyrics.  "His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood."  Can't contain it - I'm getting choked up.  "When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."  I let out a big, "Wooooooooo." Not exactly psalmic in its sound, I know.  But loud enough that my wife gave me the look - the one that says, "You okay over there?"

And I read something the other day on an interview with a group of pastors about worship.  They asked the panel what makes a good worship song, what a pastor is looking for in a worship song, etc.  Good hooks.  Strong melody.  Singability.  Those were all things that came up.  One guy shut up the rest:  "I want songs that prepare my people to die."

It's why we all ran back to the hymns when 9/11 happened.  We didn't have current worship confessions that could help us reckon with "high and stormy gales" and "darkness hiding [God's] face."

A pastor friend of mine, with whom I had lunch last week, used to drive with a hymnal open on his steering wheel.  I'm not sure it was the safest thing to do, but his soul was enriched (and he was never in a wreck).  Maybe we'd have better followers of Christ if Fanny Crosby was our date rather than the latest offering from someone who didn't write their own lyrics but is cool enough and can be autotuned.

Our worship pastor is putting together a project tentatively called 10 to Remember, birthed out of his desire for his own kids not to forget the strong hymns of days gone by.  As soon as its out, I'll be the first to do the PR for it.

Last thought.  As I've done more thinking about this even as I'm writing, I've come to realize it has very little to do with hymns in and of themselves.  It has to do with a sense of fervency and weightiness.  There are great modern worship confessions that help me express my heart to God with fervency and a sense of the weightiness of the promise when I draw near to God that He will draw near to me.  But they are fewer and fewer it seems, especially when worship has become a genre of music rather than a response of the heart.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sermon Notes from 2.6.11

Here are the notes from today's sermon on the Olivet Discourse in Mark 13.  If the truth be told, end times material is not my comfort zone which is exactly why I preach through books of the Bible.  I'd never pick up Mark 13 and preach it on my own.  I'm sure that says more about me than I care to know and want to reveal, but it's the truth.  I focused on Jesus' command to "Watch Out!" (Greek blepo).  I did that not only because it's my temperament, but because in light of what Jesus emphasized it seemed textually appropriate and even necessary.  As usual, find the sermon audio and these notes in PDF at  I got an email that we've had some iTunes issues, but those should be resolved this week.

Happy Super Bowling everyone.

The Unknown Hour
Mark 13.1-37

Jesus’ response involves three elements:
  • Prediction
  • Certainty
  • Command

Watch Out:  Chaos Happens (v.5-8)
  • An environment of chaos can lead to confusion.
  • An environment of chaos can breed charlatans.
  • Jesus’ command:  stay focused.
Watch Out:  Persecution Arises (v.9-20)
  • Persecution will come from various sources.
  • Persecution will come because you follow Jesus. 
  • Persecution will provide an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel.
  • Jesus’ command:  stay faithful.
Watch Out:  Deceivers Exist (v.21-23)
  • Deceivers will pervert the Truth of Christ.
  • Deceivers will prove completely convincing.  
  • Jesus’ command:  stay rooted.

Watch Out:  Stay Awake (v.24-37)
  • The return of Christ will be visible, personal, and unmistakable.
  • Guessing about the signs is no substitute for ongoing obedience.
  • Jesus’ command:  stay confident.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

Having Church...

Don't really love the music style (although it has its appeal), but I love the fact that they're having church.  You talk about coming with a sense of expectancy and celebration. What would Heritage Park or any other church look like if we came ready like this?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Man, it's COLD

For living in Houston, it's cold.  So we're inside playing Wii and picking up the house between games (or trying to).  That has absolutely nothing to do with the blog today, but I thought I'd just say it.  It's COLD.

So we've done some things to protect the house.  We wrapped the water spigots outside.  We bring the dog into the garage.  I left a faucet dripping last night just in case.  We've also closed the church office for tomorrow in light of the projected rain/sleet/snow/ice.  It all makes sense, right?

In light of where I live and what's going on around me, I'm taking appropriate steps to protect myself and my family.

Spiritually, we live on a battlefield.  There is a war going on around us.  The forecast is brutal:  temptations and trials, testings and traps.  So what are you doing to protect yourself and your family?

Do you share your passwords with your spouse?

Do you call when you're on the way home?

Do you set aside a date night?

Do you make sure you're not alone with a non-family member of the opposite sex?

Do you pursue your spouse?

Do you have accountability software on your computer?

Do you pray and spend time in the Scriptures daily?

Think about this question:  if your life depended on it, what would you do?  Your spiritual life does.  So go do it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Year of the Biography

So I'm trying to do a lot more biographical reading this year.  In addition to the books we, as a church staff, read and any others I might pick up along the way, I hope to get through some major pieces of literature about people in days of yore.

Because I'm sticking this out there, I'll also try to post a couple of reflections from the biographies I finish.  I'll start with George W. Bush's Decision Points.  Yes, I know that it's not a biography (technically) and certainly not from days of yore.  But it was a Christmas gift and I wanted to read it.

Bush structured the book around his major decisions while in his presidency.  I found it incredibly fascinating to get into his brain a little bit and hear it from his perspective.  Helpfully, he also provided some background information if it informed his decision making.  He covered the biggies:  9/11, Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, and TARP.  There were others too but those are the ones I remember.

As is true with most presidential memoirs, he told it in a way that made him look good.  I don't blame him.  Leadership is hard and you do the best you can.  Not everything can be proactive and sometimes the best thing to do is react.  I will say that I voted for him twice, so I'm disposed toward him generally.  He came across as genuine and thoughtful and wise in seeking counsel.  He was principled throughout, even when I disagreed with his principles (like on the handling of TARP).

I also note that, much like every other leader you can think of, he got more blame than he deserved.  I was flabbergasted at some of the discussion around Katrina and how much a bureaucratic mess it was between the governor and mayor, and how they didn't ask for federal help until it was way too late.

He has funny moments like when he asked then Chief of Staff Josh Bolton if Bono was the guy who was married to Cher.  I laughed.  Out loud.  Pick up the book and you'll enjoy it.  I'm off to read George Marsden's tome on Jonathan Edwards.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lost Tribe...Now Found

This is quite a story.  Apparently, a Brazilian plane flew over some jungle area and found these folks.

They are a lost tribe.  As in, they don't have a registration, a bank account, a Social Security number, a credit score, a driver's license, an identity.  Obviously in their own structures and family settings, they do.  But to the world at large, they are a group of primitive gatherers lost in the primordial environment of the rain forest.

On a spiritual scale, that's us.  We're lost in our own little world and customs, traditions and norms.  We have our systems and connections and in that sense have an identity.  But we are lost to the greater reality:  the Kingdom of God.  We are lost to the "really real" or the "true reality."  We are lost to the fact that God holds everything together by the Word of His power.  We are lost to the fact that we live and move and have our very being in Him.  

And here's the Gospel.  God didn't fly over in a plane with a camera.  He entered right into the jungle of our existence.  He didn't bring the internet or new farming methods.  He gave His life.

That's how we, the lost, were found.

Midweek Memo 2.1.11

Here's my Midweek Memo column for this week.  Find the full publication here.

Dear Church Family,

You ever wonder about how things will turn out in the end? This Sunday, we’re going to skip ahead to Mark 13 and tackle some of the issues that Jesus teaches about the end of the world. It brings up images of crazy beasts from the book of Revelation and wonders about whether 2012 is really the year or just a John Cusack movie that cost a lot of money. Jesus’ answers may surprise you. And I know they’ll challenge us to be ready for that day. Why don’t you read ahead and we'll look at it together on Sunday.