Friday, July 29, 2011

Snakes are Scary: I would've picked Him for a Target guy...



Who knew He was there?

You think this is good PR for the leading retailer?  I mean, when Jesus is there...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Memoriam: John R.W. Stott

You may not know the name, but you are influenced by him and his work nonetheless.  He was a leading evangelical for the past 50 years.  He wrote 50+ books, some of which are powerhouses that God uses to change people's lives still today (like The Cross of Christ and Basic Christianity).  He was part of the movement shaping Lausanne Covenant.

Here's to a man whose live was well-lived and whose impact long ago outpaced his life and still does.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Post 450: Political Commentary? Are you kidding?

I started writing this before I realized it would be a milestone post like #450.  Sorry about that.  Sort of.

One of the ramifications of this political and economic battle that's brewing in our country right now that I have not heard a peep about is how it will affect missions.  I'm not saying it's the most important factor in figuring out how to pay the bills the country owes and how much we should owe and if we should owe more or less in the future.  I realize people are dependent on this stuff and I'm for our elected officials in Washington making a stinking decision that, for the good of the country, has little to do with their political careers.  Do something because it's right, people!

Anyway, if the dollar craters, like most people predict it will if we do not get this thing settled and sooner rather than later, it will affect missions.  Salaries will not go as far.  Expenses will be higher in USD.  Travel will be more expensive.  Resources will be less available.  Should I go on?

I'm a strong proponent of a strong USD for no other reason than that.  True, God's not limited by a weak USD.  But from my experience, the other way sure looks and works better.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Labels. They are dangerous.



Whole grain.






Ball hog.









Illegal immigrant.



Christian. (for you BG)

How about this one?  "Fundamentalist Christian."  That's the latest label for Anders Behrin Breivik.  While no fundamentalist (of the Christian persuasion) advocates murder in any form or fashion, that's what they're calling him.

That's dangerous because labels can make words lose their meaning.  And when words lose their meaning, there's not a channel for communication.  And then there's no community, no togetherness, no belonging nor a chance for it.  Disintegration of relationships and personhoods spirals and keeps spiraling.

Words matter.  Let yours and mine matter today.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, July 25, 2011

To live is gain, to die is Christ

I've been chewing on Philippians for a few months now.  It began in simple devotions but has blossomed into full-on consumption and preparing to preach it in the fall at Heritage Park.  The most famous verse in Philippians is 1.21:  "For me to live is Christ and die is gain."

But I wonder if that's how we live.  Is that how I live?

I wonder if, instead, I live for gain:  gain in comfort, possessions, status, pleasure, knowledge, a sense of being right, etc.  And when I die, I get Jesus.

What a deal!  Right?

But, as usual, the Bible inverts the whole thing.  Completely upside down, backwards, and not-of-this-earth.  The gain comes when I die.  Right now, it's Jesus.  Because He's better than comfort, possessions, status, pleasure, knowledge or a sense of being right (see Philippians 3.8).  He has a surpassing value over anything and everything I might gain in this world.

So here's to being upside down and backwards.  It's the biblical way to live.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 7.24.11

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon on marriage.  To get the sermon audio and these notes in PDF, please visit  You can also get the sermon audio on iTunes via our podcast. Last note:  I mentioned a great book on marriage called Love and Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs from which I took some of this material.  You can read about it here or get it here.  I highly recommend it.

Taking Aim at Marriage
Part 3 – Ephesians 5.33

Marriage is God’s portrait of Christ’s relationship with His people through the selfless and passionate covenant of husband and wife.

God defines marriage:  the one-flesh union of husband and wife.

God designed its purpose:  to show His relationship with His people.

God determines its roles:  godly leadership and faith-filled submission.

Summary Statement:  Love and Respect make marriage work well.

Husbands:  Love your wives
  • Undergirding Thought:  I will pursue God’s best for my wife.
  • This command to love is unconditional. 
  • Main objection:  I don’t know how to really love her.

Wives:  Respect your husbands
  • Undergirding Thought:  I will honor God by honoring my husband. 
  • This command to respect is unconditional.
  • Main objection:  respect is an earned commodity.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Snakes are Scary: God always hears

Sometimes something comes along that serves as a critique even though it was never meant that way.

I watched this video on  It's well worth your 5:38.  I found myself moved to tears about three different times.  In so many ways, I want to be more like Lucas.

The shot where he's clapping...

The shot where he's raising his hands...

"I feel right at home at my church."

If I were more like him, I think my life might be more pleasing to the one who made us both.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Some meat to chew on"

This phrase came to me in an email from a friend.  He offered some feedback to me that has been both helpful and insightful.  Believe it or not, I actually don't get things right all the time or get the right things right all the way all the time.  I know, I know.  Shocking.

But this is why we need one another in the Christian life.  Like in my car, I have blind spots where I can't see what's happening.  That's dangerous enough when you're doing 70mph on the Gulf Freeway.  It's worse when you're headed through life toward eternity.  Even more so when you're trying to lead others who are headed through life toward eternity.

Some of the biggest controversy happening in evangelicalism in this moment is related to a man who wouldn't hear feedback, who wouldn't take and chew on the meat he'd been given.

Father, give us the humility to hear and ponder what you have for us, especially the things that come through others who love You.  Amen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An old old Bible...

My brother gave me a copy of an interlinear Bible yesterday that's old.  It's falling apart old.  It's cover-is-flaking old.

But I don't know how old because it's in German.

And Hebrew.

(Did I mention that the only 'C' I've made in my life was in Hebrew?)

But how old doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.  It's old, but it's not as old as the Truth contained in it.  That Truth is so much older.

That Truth is as old as eternity because it proceeded from the Eternal One.

That Truth is forever established in the heavens (Ps. 119.89).

That Truth is unchanging, having withstood immense cultural, political, and economic swings.  And it will continue to survive immense cultural, political, and economics swings.  It's the Truth.  It doesn't change.

And that Truth is what sanctifies us (John 17.17) by the power of the Spirit of God.  We do not grow without it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slowing down - why do I forget to do this?

Over the weekend, we spent some time with my brother-in-law and his family at their lake house in Kingsland, Texas.  It looked like this...

and this...

Jealous?  You should be.  A boat.  Sunshine.  Quiet.  Birds.  Water lapping against the shore.  Quiet.  A back porch overlooking the little cove on which their house sits.  Quiet.


Slowing down.  Resting a little bit.  Some time to think.

Why don't I remember to do this more?  Do you?

My soul expands rather than shrinks.  My heart beats more slowly and opens up to God and my wife and others.  I seem to hear and think more clearly.  Problems seem smaller.  And, amazingly, the world goes on without me.

And it's good to remind myself of this every so often.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, July 18, 2011

On being wrong...

I have no idea who this lady actually is or what she stands for.  I know I was mesmerized for 18 minutes and found myself in her talk in several places.  It's worth it.  And I'm still chewing.

If you're having trouble viewing the video, try downloading Flash Player here or go to the original video here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Haiti Update...Incredible

Here is the village in which Heritage Park built the first duplex in October, 2010.  Thanks to incredible generosity and hard work (especially by my wife!), we have put two of the houses up in this development. Amazing.

As a data point:  when I left there in October, 2010, there was a field with a solitary house in it and 8 people there.  Now look at what God has done...

We hope to send a team back in December.  Should you want to go or want to contribute to the cost (approx. $6000 per duplex of which we have $0 right now), please contact me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


For those not familiar with adoption parlance (and admittedly, there are some terms I'm still confused by and the alphabet soup of EA, PA, TA, RA, LOA and XYZ PDQ), let me introduce you to a term:  Gotcha Day.  It is the day adoptive families celebrate the entry of their kiddo into their own forever family.

Today is our day.  Two years ago today, our daughter left the arms of a nanny and came into the arms of her mommy and daddy.  I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  So, here's the video celebrating it...

P.S.  Props to my awesome, incredible, wonderful, beautiful, amazing wife for making the video.  She doesn't get enough credit for all she does.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More cultural pressure on marriage

Wouldn't it be great if the cultural pressure to redefine marriage was only located in culture?  That way, church folks could just get along fine without our worlds be rocked or even influenced by those evil people out there in the world.  Mean ol' evil people.

But it's not just there, is it?

The cultural pressure is heavy on us no matter whether we're followers of Jesus or not.  Two unique pressures in addition to the one yesterday might help you understand this.

First one?  Marriage is supposed to be easy.  It's like dating, but with older people and more financial responsibility and maybe some kids around.  But just like in dating, when it gets to hard you just call it quits and move on to the next one.  Thank you, no-fault divorce, for instilling this in our culture.

The second has to do with marriage as romance.  There should be.  And there should be plenty of it from both the guys and the gals.  But it doesn't always end up like a Jennifer-Aniston-Julia-Roberts-Meg-Ryan RomCom marathon.  Sometimes it's halitosis and hospitals and, "How are you doing?  Feels like I haven't seen you in two days."  Hollywood paints a mighty strange picture of marriage.  But maybe that's why celebrity hookups and breakups are the headlines in the check-out line at the grocery store.  They've bought what they're selling and it's ruining them.

May it not be for us.  Contend for the covenant of marriage, the portrait of Christ's relationship with His people.

It's worth it - for us, for the watching world, and for the generation coming.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, July 11, 2011

The cultural pressure on marriage

I riffed for a minute yesterday in my sermon on the cultural pressure to redefine marriage.  It is immense and coming from two of the three major shapers of society:  the legal system and the info-entertainment industry (I include news broadcasts in that).  If the legal system can mandate it, then we have to accept it.  If the info-entertainment industry can get us to laugh at it, then we will accept it.

So let me reiterate a couple of things I said in yesterday's sermon and, Lord willing, tomorrow I'll try to bring it home for everyone.  To be clear:  I am not for redefining marriage so that it fits any definition of the society's whim of the moment (which just so happens right now to be gay marriage).  I reckon that since God made it, He can define it.  So, here are my thoughts...

First, the cultural pressure is not going to ease.  I think it will only grow in intensity and breadth.  As followers of Jesus, we need to be thinking about this now and readying our response.

Second, the Word of God has not and will not change.  Gay marriage or any other redefinition of marriage will never be okay in God's eyes.  I'm not mad about that.  But our wills cannot change His standards.

Third, Christians who think that the wrath of God is coming because of gay marriage are both foolish and unbiblical.  They are foolish because they sound like God is readying His quiver of thunderbolts to drop on Mount Rushmore and the Washington Monument and the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.  It's simply not true and unbelievers have no idea what you're saying.  They are unbiblical because, according to Romans 1, the wrath of God is already upon us if we're having these discussions.  Three times God states He will turn us over to our own desires as a passive expression of His wrath against us.  Here we are.

Lastly, the call of the church hasn't changed.  We are to stand for the Truth and love the people around us.  What that means is we stand for all the Truth, not just the parts we like or the portions we feel like we're obeying already.  And it means we reach out in love to everyone:  even gay people or those who think gay marriage is a good idea.

It's high time we as a church quit being mad at those who are lost and are acting lost.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

(and more tomorrow)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 7.10.11

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon, part 1 of the miniseries called Taking Aim at Marriage.  On the audio (found at and on iTunes), you'll note that I only got through two of the three statements.  We'll see about picking that point up later.

Taking Aim at Marriage
Part 1 – Ephesians 5.31-33

Marriage is God’s portrait of Christ’s relationship with His people through the selfless and passionate covenant of husband and wife.

God defines marriage (v.31)
  • One flesh:  their lives become a life for a lifetime.
  • Culture tries to shape and twist the things of God to its own selfish ends.
  • Covenant marriage is selfless and passionate.
  • Selflessness grows because you have a reason to be selfless.
  • Passion grows because the soil is fertile.
  • None of this is possible without the reality of the Gospel pressed into us.

God designed its purpose (v.32).
  • God designed marriage with God in mind.
  • It’s primary purpose:  display the beauty of Christ’s relationship to His people. 
  • It’s secondary purpose:  a means for the transformation of our lives (v.26-27).

God established its roles (v.33).
  • Husbands:  love your wives unconditionally.
  • Wives:  respect your husbands unconditionally.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sin in church and ministry leadership

"News" broke last night that one of the key leaders in today's evangelical life is taking a leave of absence from his ministry position to deal with charges brought against him for "various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy."  No adultery.  No immorality.  No impropriety.  Just good, old-fashioned sin that hurt others that, by his admission, he just wouldn't see.

I put "news" in quotes earlier because it's really not news.  A man in high leadership of a ministry still struggles with sin?  God convicts this man through some tough conversations?  He humbles himself, submits to disciplinary action, voluntarily steps down from ministry because of the widespread nature of this sin, and doesn't blame others or flat out deny it?  That's not news.  That's a model to follow and cheer.

Think about every other public leader you can right now who has had issues.  Anthony Weiner.  Bill Clinton.  Mark Sanford.  Newt Gingrich.  How about this one:  Ted Haggard.  Ergun Caner.  Eddie Long.  Benny Hinn.

Denials.  Well-crafted media statements.  "Release" from current positions (they can't say fired?).  Tearful apologies on 20/20 or Dateline or 60 Minutes or Oprah.

And here's this other guy.  No denial.  No blame-shifting.  Accepting responsibility.  Accepting accountability.  

But isn't that the way it should be?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Casey Anthony, the Constitution, and the Cross

I watched, like most people in America, the verdict come down on Casey Anthony yesterday:  not guilty.  Technically, I saw it after the fact on one of the many news sites that had the video in full.  But that didn't blunt my surprise or the surprise of many around the country.  Not guilty?  Wow.  I honestly thought they had her pegged based on what little I knew about the case.  Granted, the jury returned guilty on the lying to a police officer counts, but she's off on the Murder 1 and Manslaughter charges.  I saw on the same site the tweet of the day from Ashton Kutcher:  "Even OJ is upset at the outcome of this trial."  I digress...

But it's a victory in some senses.  The Constitution presumes innocence before the law (though obviously not before the media).  It also ensures, as appropriate, trial by a jury of peers.  And the statutes throughout the states, as I understand them, also put a high standard for the prosecution to reach:  beyond a reasonable doubt.  Meaning, if I'm in the jury room and I can see another way this might have gone down, my vote has to go in the "not guilty" column.  If I cannot see any other way this might have conceivably happened, then and only then do I vote "guilty."  Like it or not, agree or not, hack attorney or brilliant counsel, Baez and his crew defended Casey Anthony to the degree that doubt persisted in the jury room.  I call that a victory for the constitutional form of government.  What's more, if she is guilty but got off, she'll no doubt do something stupid again and get caught and then hopefully go to jail (speaking of OJ...).  Call me a fan of the Constitution.

But also color me a huge, stunned, give-my-life-for-this fan of the cross of Jesus Christ..  There was a judge yesterday who had a person before him and he said the words, "You are judged not guilty."  She may still be guilty, but she's judged not guilty.  There is another Judge who has a person before Him.  I know I'm guilty.  No question about that one in my mind.  But because of the sacrifice of Jesus, I hear Him say, "I declare you not guilty."  Christ took my sin and my punishment.  I go free because of Him.  Far deeper than those words went into a questionable mother, they plunge into my guilty soul.

Not guilty.  Because of Christ.




But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Refreshment of Friends

Paul said of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1.16) that he often refreshed Paul, not being ashamed of his chains.  There are wonderful things that friends bring, not the least of which is refreshment.  We shared a meal yesterday with some friends at their house, around a spread of hamburgers, italian sausage, chips, and all the fixin's (as we say in Texas).

We laughed.

We talked.

We laughed some more.

We had a great time.

And I went away thinking about Paul and Onesiphorus.  I was refreshed.  Friends are good like that.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, July 4, 2011

A prayer for America on July 4th

Father, thank you for blessing our nation with freedom in various ways.  Thank you for men and women who have sacrificed to make this freedom a reality.  Thank you for allowing us to prosper over the decades.  Thank you for granting us leadership, the rule of law, and the ability to have free elections.

But we need your forgiveness.  We have wandered away from a normalized morality and ethic, one that is rooted in Your revelation to us.  We have allowed rhetoric to rule instead of logic and sense and goodwill.  Most of all, we have forgotten how to blush with shame at our sin.

And we also need your help.  Help us to endure the test of our prosperity with a view to the future and to the world.  Help us to spread freedom among ourselves and the world, and help us to discern between that which is freedom and that which is bondage masquerading as freedom.  And help us to be confidently humble and humbly confident in attitude and action.

In Jesus' name,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Snakes are Scary: Baptists and Homosexuality

Okay.  I'm a Baptist.  I admit it.  Pray for me.

And something happened that was really funny this week to the Southern Baptist Convention.  I say "funny" because I know some might not find it all that funny, including the SBC.  Put me in the I-think-this-is-funny category.  Apparently a hacker group posted a fake SBC website and put out a press release saying that the SBC had changed its position on homosexuality.

Here's some of the report from Fox News...

The release falsely announced that the Southern Baptists had met in “extraordinary emergency session” to affirm gay rights and repent “of any past homophobia that not only hurt gay people but kept them ostracized from the church.” 
The release included phony quotes and comments affirming homosexuality from real denominational leaders, including Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright. SBC President Bryant Wright said he suspected the culprits were those in opposition to the denomination’s stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. 
Two parts of the report are funny to me.

First, that Bryan Wright said he thought it was probably those in opposition to the denominations stance.  Whew.  Glad he cleared that one up.  I thought maybe it was three skinny teens high on Elmer's glue, Cheetos, and Mountain Dew.  I'm sure Bryan Wright is a good guy.  But he certainly stated the obvious pretty well there.

Second, for all the resolutions and whatever-elses we've done as Baptists against Mickey and New Age and Highway Safety, we finally get something thrown back at us.  And we're a little shocked?  Is anyone surprised by this?

I'm as theologically conservative as they come on most things.  But we may have been announcing to the world what we're not in favor of and are against for so long that the real message might have been lost.

May God grant it that we're known for what we stand for and who we love and how well we love them, not what we're against.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...