Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The soil of my marriage

I meet with a lot of people who want me to help them fix their marriages.  I'm a pastor.  That's what I do, right?  Well...

Not so much.

Most people, especially in the ministry context I am in, think that if they can change one part of the equation that they can get a much better outcome on on the other side of the equal sign.  Change a variable in the formula, get a preferred result.

The problem with that is (and we repeated this over and over this past weekend) that marriage is not a formula.  It's more like a garden.  The disciplines that we sow into our marriage are not "fixes" that are diagnosed and then cured.  The disciplines we sow into our marriages are more like fertilizers for the soil in which our marriage grows.

You fix a car.

You grow a marriage.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday's Post: A little late

Well, so today I'm posting on a Monday and it's way later than I normally post and there's good reason for all of it.  Let me explain.

I'm currently typing on very little sleep after catching the red-eye in from San Francisco this morning.  The Queen and I led a marriage conference for our good friends, where the husband serves on staff as the Family Pastor of Bridges Community Church.  It was amazing.

The Queen and I learned a lot about prepping this much material together.  Not only was the material itself a good challenge for us, so was the process.  When you're talking about prioritizing your spouse, it's hard not to figure out how you measure up to what you'll be saying.  And the process of forming those things into cogent thought also revealed some significant communication deficits that I have.  Good stuff all the way around.

I encourage all of you married types to take a moment and think about how you prioritize your spouse.  And then, so as not to get overwhelmed, take just ONE thing and implement it this week.

I think you'll be amazed at how your marriage can grow.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

P.S.  Welcome to post #601.  Thanks for reading along and letting me process and prod out loud.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Reptile Dysfunction

This is a true story.

I know because it happened to me this week.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent...

The Ninja and I go to his karate class at the local elementary on Monday.  The Queen, the Bear, and the Peanut stayed at home to do stretching and homework and things that get done on Monday evenings at our house.  Apparently, during the activities, The Weather Channel comes on as a reward for good behavior and working hard on some therapy stuff.  If you know my family, you know that this is actually a reward and I'm not blowing smoke here.

Ninja and I return to some giggles.

Queen:  Bear, you need to ask dad your question...

Me:  *looking askance at the Queen*  What's up?

Bear:  Dad, what's reptile dysfunction.

Pause here.  Apparently Cialis is now an advertiser on TWC.  Thus, the question.

Queen:  *dying while biting her lip, trying not to laugh*

Me:  *brief glare at the Queen before turning lovingly to my son*
Bear, reptile dysfunction is when snakes don't work like they're supposed to anymore.
Queen:  *quite literally ROTFLs*

Bear:  Hmm...okay.

And that, folks, is a true story from the Henderson house.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three things that bother me #3

This will be the last post in this series I should've called Gripefest.

I think one of the things that frustrates me about society is the soundbite.  It's superficial.  It's easy.  And it's rarely substantive.  I say all of this as someone who uses words every day in his profession and seeks to make positive, memorable use of them.

One for instance will do:  I was watching State of the Union commentary when one of the Democratic commentators talked about how we shouldn't give tax breaks to corporations those who don't hire American workers, etc.  The Republican counterpart commented that his kind of thinking was the path to a trade war (of large or small scale, depending) because, for instance, Toyota, in San Antonio where they build Tundras, would simply (a) not build or (b) bring in Japanese workers.  The original commentator said something in defense of his premise.  And then the other guys jumped on him (former White House staffers included) for being an idiot.

Why would he say such silly things and then try to defend them?  Because they sound good.  And we live in a soundbite-drive and superficial world.  And it's not just in politics.  It's in sermons and speeches and brochures and blogs and commercials and commentary.  Blech.

Words matter.  They have the power of life and death in them.  Long ago we threw away the idea that it's only sticks and stones that hurt.

But here's the problem for you and me.  Because we swim in these shallow waters, we're more apt to think this is normal.  So we participate knowingly or unwittingly because it's just what we do.

A zinger around the water cooler.

A snappish email.

A terse, sarcastic answer to your kid.

Not that I've ever been guilty of these.  You probably haven't either.  But then I remember...
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Prov. 25.11)
Rarely does that apply to a soundbite.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Three things that bother me #2

This one doesn't bother me.  It makes my blood boil.  True story.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a youth volunteer acted inappropriately toward one of the youth.  Upon hearing this the pastor of the church sets his aim on the youth and gives the age-old Satanic line:  "Well, you kinda had it coming."  Wickedness.  Evil.

Ticked off yet?

It gets worse.

The church doesn't address the volunteer and who knows what happens after that to others.  Youth and family leave the church.  It's all swept under the rug.  So on we go with Shiny Happy People on Sundays.  Wickedness.  Evil.  Sin in the camp!

Here's the part that I don't get.  How did the pastor not call the deacons to form a modern day posse, go out and get this guy, and bring him to ecclesiological if not criminal justice?  And how in the _______ does anyone at the church let the pastor get away with:  "Well, you kinda had it coming"?

Yes, I realize there should be an investigation and so much of this turns into one person saying one thing and the other person saying the opposite.  And teenagers can do life-ruining (and just as wicked) things like make false accusations.  I get all of that.  But blame instead of investigation?

If the church fails to protect the unprotected, we might as well write Ichabod over the doors and play golf and watch NFL pregame shows on Sunday mornings.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Three things that bother me - #1

Here's something that bothers me.  See if you recognize it in your life.

When you think and/or know you're supposed to do something, don't do it (for any number of reasons, be they good or bad), and then God makes it happen in a way that reminds you that He's still in charge and you should've listened and done what He said to do.

Ever had that happen?

A brief personal example:  a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking how crazy our life had been and how I needed to take a day and slow down for the good of my soul.  Ends up, last week I spent a couple of days basically in bed.  Hmm.

So I encourage you that if you know you need to do something, do it!  Our delayed obedience is our disobedience.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, January 23, 2012

In case you missed it

Well, the presidential primary season is fully in swing.  We've sort of figured out who won Iowa - Mitt Santorum, or something like that.  We've heard from the granite folks of New Hampshire.  And by the time you read this, you know that the Newt Train is chugging in SC.

Which brings me to this clip.  Watch it, and I'll offer a couple of comments afterward.

Okay, now for some comments.

First, whether or not you vote for Newt or anyone else on that stage, he's dead right on the question of leading off a presidential debate with something like this.  Leadership is all about character as I've argued before.  So his character is certainly in question in a presidential race.  But it seems (!) that a 13-year old claim against him by an ex-wife who has reason to profit from this when his daughters and friends all claim its falsehood might be a little out of place.  And by all other accounts, it seems that Newt has genuinely changed over the years.  So character matters.  But let's think about his character as it's revealed now (hello, Herman Cain).

Second, I appreciate the fact that Newt called John King out on this deal by pointing out that he and his staff chose to lead the debate with that question.  And then he made sure that he knew that CNN wasn't going to pass the buck to anyone else.  Good for him.

Now for John King's response.

I'm 100% for character studies when it concerns our elected leaders.  I'm also for responsibility in media.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sermon Notes for Sunday, January 22, 2012

Here are the notes for Sunday, January 22nd.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio on our website (sermons.heritagepark.org).  You can also find the sermon audio on our podcast in iTunes.

Three Pair of Shoes
A Series on Spiritual Growth
Part 3 – Trials
James 1.2-4

Expect Trials.
  • Trials rooted in sin.
  • Trials from Satan.
  • Trials resulting from brokenness.
  • Be careful not to become bitter (see 1.12-15)

Understand Trials
  •  See them for what they are. 
  • There are things you can only learn by trial. 

Grow in Trials
  • Produces steadfastness , which leads to maturity. (cf. Rom 5) 
  • Purifies faith (1 Peter 1.6-7) 
  • Lessens our grip on worldly things
  • Tightens our grip on Jesus
  • Bears witness to others
  • Encourages more faith

Rejoice in Trials
  • Our joy in trials is predicated on our coming reward (Matthew 5.12).
  • You are not called to rejoice dishonestly. (2 Cor 4.7-11)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sleeping upside down

I'm not feeling well today (aka, I'm sick, and thus the late start on the blog entry today).  It started last night or late afternoon.  The Queen, Bear, and Peanut were on their way back from Dallas.  I was in charge of bringing the Ninja home from AWANA. As a side note, I hope none of you AWANA types are feeling ill.  I came home and basically went straight into a Nyquil-infused sleep.

I slept on the trundle bed in our guest room as not to infect any of the rest of the family.  Somewhere in the middle of the night, I rolled over on the trundle and it gave way.  Technically, only half of it gave way.  My head was suddenly about 18 inches below my feet.  An interesting way to wake up at o-dark-thirty.

After a little wrangling, all was well.  But it scared the willies out of me.

I'm sure there's a great illustration in there somewhere.  But I'm honestly not in the frame of mind to mull it over enough to figure it out.  But I can offer this today...

Sometimes, things get topsy turvy in our worlds.  Phone calls.  Medical reports.  Pink slips.  Arguments.  Frustrations.  Whatever it may be, it can go crazy and get there quickly.

It may take some wrangling.  It may take turning on a light and thinking about what just happened even though it's in the dead of night.  It may take some outside help.

But here's the thing:  Jesus is in the business of changing lives.  Even upside down ones.  So talk to Him about it.  Do what He says is best.  And see what happens after that.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sneaking up on a Bear with a BB Gun

My completely awesome middle son, the Ninja, who fears nothing or no one, had a funny exchange with the Queen the other day.  He told her that he wanted a BB gun and she asked why.  He replied he wanted to go hunting.

Queen:  But why would you want to hurt the little animals like squirrels and rabbits and birds?

Ninja:  Mom, I wouldn't hurt them.  I'd sneak up on a bear or a tiger or something.

After dying laughing at the re-telling of the story, this thought hit me:  how many times do we approach spiritual warfare woefully unarmed and pathetically outgunned.  When it comes to our adversary, he's a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour.  We don't have to go looking for him.  He comes looking for us.

You don't take a BB gun to that fight.

No small pellets of determination or will-power or "I promise I'll do better next time" will do.

Sin is waiting to grow large enough in you to kill you according to James 1.  You better load up with heavy artillery like prayer and Bible memory and spiritual friendships.  Don't take a BB gun on a lion hunt.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MLK: Two moments

I love both of these speeches.  And I love that God used them for His purposes to accomplish some justice on the earth.

I have a Dream (MLK starts at 1:00).  Don't skip over this.  Listen to it.

And this is a brief quote from the last sermon/speech he ever gave.  He was assassinated the next day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Deacons and Church Multiplication

We ordained two new deacons last night at Heritage Park.  They're great men who walk with Jesus and have been used in our little corner of the Kingdom to extend it.  I was proud to be a part of it and grateful for the opportunity.

In their ordination charge, I shared the passage from Acts 6.1-7.  One of the great surprises in that passage to me is how it ends.  The widows' needs were going unmet because of the growth in the church.  When it all shook out, Stephen and a crew were ordained to ministry.

The surprise for me is that it never mentions the widows again.  I fully assume that the widows' needs were indeed met.  But at the end of the passage, it says three things happened...

The Word of God increased

The number of disciples multiplied

Even priests came to faith

When the deacons served, the Word went forward, multiplication happened, and people you wouldn't expect came to know Christ.  I hope that's the case with the church I pastor and of which you are a part.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sermon Notes from 1.15.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, January 15th.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at sermons.heritagepark.org.  The sermon audio is also available on our podcast via iTunes.

Three Pair of Old Shoes 
A Series on Spiritual Growth 
Part 2 -­ Disciplines
1 Timothy 4.7-­8

Pictures of Spiritual Disciplines

  • Weeding and Fertilizing a Garden -­‐ Health
  • Seeing a Doctor and Getting Some Exercise -­‐ Activity
  • Shooting Free Throws to Perform under Pressure -­‐ Freedom 
  • Hoisting a Sail on a Sailboat -­‐ Grace

The Goal of Disciplines is Godliness

  • There are terrible substitutes for the only proper motivation: godliness.
  • Disciplines are not in themselves spiritual maturity, but stones on the path to it.
  • We fully expect one another to change and should settle for nothing less.

Disciplines are Training, not Trying

  • Spiritual disciplines are both commanded and assumed.
  • Spiritual disciplines are continual in nature.
  • Spiritual Disciplines involve bodily activities.

Disciplines Contain Abstinence and Activity

  • When you struggle with doing something, you train yourself to abstain.
  • When you struggle with abstaining, you train yourself to do something.
  • Abstinence-­‐related
    • Fasting -­‐ desires out of control
    • Disconnecting -­‐ life at too hectic a pace
  • Activity-­‐related
    • Giving -­‐ breaking greed and materialism
    • Serving -­‐ warring with entitlement 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Glad this guy's not my pastor...

God can choose to heal any way He wants to.  I'm a big believer in that and have prayed for people to be healed.

But I'm glad this guy's not my pastor...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Family Update

I know some of you who read this follow our family pretty closely, so let me give you a brief update on the Bear.

We met with the orthopedists at Shriner's Hospital in Houston this morning.  They were terrific and their whole team was helpful and informative.  We have a gait study coming up where Bear will get all wired up with the sticky ping pong balls.  He'll walk and run in front of the high-speed cameras and we'll get an idea of what muscles are in play and which ones are struggling.  That'll give us a good idea of what corrections are needed, be it surgical or otherwise.

Thanks for all who have prayed.  Please continue to do so.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rehearsing His Wondrous Deeds

Imagine this scenario.

You wake up tomorrow morning to a blinding light in your bedroom.  No one else can see it, but you are both drawn to it and have to shield your eyes from it.  After a moment, you come to your senses and recognize it's God.

A deep, resonant, baritone voice speaks.  It doesn't wait for an invitation into your soul but more kicks the door down and demands your attention.

"Tell me what I've done for you."

If you stumble over your words, you'll be embarrassed.  If you can't come up with anything immediately, you feel convicted.

So what do you do when you read the command in Psalm 75.1 and come up empty?  "We recount Your wondrous deeds."




A good first step:  repent.  Tell God you're sorry for not being able to name hundreds of hundreds of things that He's done for you in the past few days.

Second:  take some time.  Think about the air you're breathing - the amazing work of your body to translate nitrogen-heavy atmosphere into life-giving oxygen.  Think about the family you have and the blessings they are.  Think about the place you live.  The friends you have.  The food you get to eat.  All of these come from God.  All of these are works of His hand.  All of these are His wondrous deeds.

Third:  say thanks to Him for all of them.

Lastly:  commit to rehearse the things God has done for you.  Maybe when you fall asleep, you think about how God has blessed you that day or protected you or worked on your behalf.  Maybe around the dinner table you and your family talk about a way that God has provided something that day.

"We recount your wondrous deeds."  Can you?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Joel Osteen on Oprah

My wife and I sat through Joel Osteen on Oprah's interview the other night.  Here was the most poignant and theological part.  Personally, I thought he was probably as clear as he has ever been on some key issues.  If you have better info than me, then please shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know.  This is no Larry King debacle.  What say you?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Character Awards and Parenting

My middle child is getting a character award today at school for being a person who demonstrates caring, one of the school's main foci of character.  I couldn't be prouder of him and I can't wait to go to the ceremony and cheer him on.  It also helps that he doesn't know that it's coming and therefore he will be utterly surprised.

Without this sounding like griping (because it's genuinely not), why don't they give character awards to the parents too?  I'm a caring person, so shouldn't I get one for helping him become a caring person?  I immediately know the answer:  because not all parents are caring and the kid may be caring precisely because the parents are not.  I get that.

But as a parent, I also know that my character gets replicated in the life of my child, even when it's by rejection of my character to pursue something opposite (as I mentioned above).  It's a natural process.  My character helps form his character.

And then I'm reminded and chastised by the Scripture:  it's not about my character being replicated in the life of my child that matters.  Should I continue to help him be kind and caring and respectful and so forth?  Absolutely.  But there's a clarity that we need in parenting.

It's the character of Christ replicated in his life that matters.  And that's a supernatural process.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sermon Notes from 1.8.12

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 1.8.12.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio on our website (sermons.heritagepark.org).  You can also find the sermon audio on iTunes via our podcast.

Three Pairs of Shoes
A Series on Spiritual Growth
Part 1 - Scripture
2 Timothy 3.16-17
The goal:  the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4.13)

The Scripture Carries the Weight of God’s Agenda (v.16)
    • It is inspired in that it is breathed out by God.
    • It is revelation, not just information.
    • Our response:  intake.
The Scripture Carries the Goodness of God’s Agenda (v.16)
    • Teaching and Training in Righteousness show us the way to go.
    • Reproving and Rebuking show us when we’ve erred. 
    • Our response:  obedience.
The Scripture Carries the Power of God’s Agenda (v.17)
    • Through consistent intake of and obedience to His Word, we are transformed.
    • Example:  killing the power of sin by a better promise from God (2 Peter 1.3-4).
    • Our response:  believe.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Snakes are Scary: Proposal Fail

Good rule for courtrooms (and apparently courtside):  know the answer before you ask the question.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I love morning hair

I love morning hair.  It could be related to me losing so much of mine, but that's a different story for a different day.  All three kids came down the stairs this morning with serious bed head.  Hair was going everywhere.  They weren't quite ready for the cover of Parenting magazine, but they were so ready for my arms.

I got to hold each of them and snuggle.  I got to stroke their hair and Mom eventually combed it.  I loved every minute of it.

And this morning, there's another Father who embraces me with all my messiness.  He'll embrace you too - yep, even with all your crazy hair or crazy life.  And great news:  He enjoys it too.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm wondering...

Well, we've had our fair share of doctors and hospitals over the course of our child-rearing.  I counted the other day and of the 9 years we've had kids, surgery has been a part of 7 of those 9.  And there's good potential that 2012 will hold another to make it 8 for 10.

I know how useless and helpless I feel when I see my kids hurting or dysfunctional (in the technical sense).  I know how angry I feel when my kid is wailing because the phlebotomist can't find the vein and on the third stick looks at me with the please-don't-throw-me-through-the-window look.

And so, this morning, after yet another doctor's visit, I wondered how God feels.  How does God feel when He sees the pain and hurt and dysfunction?  How does God feel when the world He created doesn't work like He designed it?  How does God feel when the brokenness and ugliness seems to be winning the day?

He brought to mind a time, at a funeral, when Jesus wept.

Seems about right.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

On the foot of a freshman

Jordan Williamson is the kicker for the Stanford Cardinal football team.  Here's to hoping this morning that he still has a job.  The poor kid from Austin, Texas, missed not one but two key field goals last night in the Fiesta Bowl, leaving the door open for the Oklahoma State Cowboys to win with a field goal in overtime.

One of the shots that ESPN put on TV was of Williamson hanging his head on the bench.  No teammate around him.  Alone.  Shamed.  Grieving.

I know that feeling.

For the 186th time, I've messed up.  For the 45th time that week, I've promised God I was going to do something and failed.  For the 12th time that day (or hour?) I've fought against sin and seemed to come out on the losing end.

And I feel like sitting on the sideline with my head in my hands.  Alone.  Shamed.  Grieving.

That's precisely where the Enemy would want me.  His ministry of condemnation means he'd love to fly this banner over my life:  unfit for use or service.  His words?  "You're useless."

But the Scripture couldn't be clearer:  there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  None. Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.

For those who have heads down today.  Lift up your heads and see the Truth.  And then step out into it and get back in the game.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Birthday to my little girl

My little girl turns 5 today.  She's been a part of my life for 2 1/2 years now and it's impossible to imagine life without her.

She is so much a part of not only my life but our family, knit into it just as we prayed for years.

She's got a great little giggle, especially when I tickle her.

She's tough, enduring three surgeries so far.  She'll spend her 5th birthday with her arm in a cast and a bandage on her leg from her latest one.

She's smart and funny.

She's a joy.

She's opinionated and fiesty, just like her mom.  I call it spicy.  (And I like my girls like that!)

She says "sawl" instead of saw.  Super-cute.

And she melts my heart when she calls me daddy.

Happy birthday to my Peanut.  Daddy loves you very much.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sermon Notes from 1.1.12: New Year's Day Sermon

Here are my sermon notes from Sunday, 1.1.12.  I typically preach on prayer on the Sunday following Christmas and this year was no exception.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio on our church's website (sermons.heritagepark.org).  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Prayer 2011
Luke 18.1-14
Persistent Prayer
    • The judge had authority but was unwise, unkind, and unjust.
    • It was the widow’s persistence that won her case.
    • Jesus’ point:  if someone who isn’t inclined is won by persistence, someone who is inclined certainly will be won too.
God is wise (Romans 11.33).
God is kind (Psalm 145.17).
God is just (Psalm 145.17).
God is near (Psalm 145.18)

Another place where His wisdom, kindness, justice, and nearness join together:  the cross (Romans 3.25-26).

Jesus’ Question:  Will I find faith on the earth?
    • He’ll return looking for persevering faith, especially the kind that persists in prayer (v.1).
Textual Objection:  What about heaping up empty phrases? (Matthew 6.7-8)
    • The problem isn’t with the persistence but with the attitude behind it.
    • We are not heard because of the way we pray or the fact that we pray - we are heard because God is our Father (Luke 18.9-14).
    • Prayer is not a function of the mind or mouth but of the heart.
    • Persistent prayer is also humble prayer.