Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'd love some sermon help...

If you're up for it, you can leave comments here, on Facebook, or on Twitter to help me with my sermon this weekend.

Wives:  I feel most loved by my husband when...

Husbands:  I feel most respected by my wife when...

Thanks for the sermonic aid!  I could very well quote you and you'd be famous for about 15 people and for about 15 seconds.  Congratulations!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shaven Heads and Church

I know I'm behind in the reporting, but I love the fact that George H. W. Bush (affectionately known as "41") shaved his head for the sake of the kid with leukemia whose dad is on 41's security detail [LINK].  I love that.  I love that 41 is 80+ and still kicking it and that he has the chutzpah to pull off something like that.  Some people thought it was a publicity stunt.  But if you're a former president in your 80's with not much time left on the planet, do you really need publicity?

It reminds me of ministry.  We identify with those who are hurting.  We weep with those who weep (Romans 12.15).  We recognize not only that people around us are hurting - we recognize the people themselves, the ones who are hurting.  And in our best ministry-oriented moments, we enter into their pain to the degree we can and try to alleviate it, strengthen them so they can endure it, or both.

Does that stick anywhere on your life today?  If so, there's probably something to be done.

I can tell story after story of people in our church who have done this.  We're not perfect, but we work hard to bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6.2).  And if you don't do that as a church, is it really church?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's a whirlwind, but please don't think I'm heroic

For those who haven't heard, my sweet and courageous wife, the Queen, is in China working to serve orphans through her skills as a physical therapist.  I miss her.  But I'm glad she is being used by God and her unique skill set is being employed.

Some of my most well-meaning friends have talked about how incredible it is that Ginny's gone and I'm at home.  I certainly don't mean to be ungrateful here, but I just don't know what they're talking about.  Let me explain briefly.

Yes, I'm at home with four kids.  My mom has popped in for a couple of days, so there has been help.  Some dear friends brought over a meal today because they're just awesome like that.  We're all alive.  No one has missed a meal.  As I type everyone is sleeping peacefully.  It's a mere ten days.

There are moms and dads who do this solo for days at a time while the spouse travels for work regularly.  I'm no hero.

There are military moms and dads (looking at you, KR) who do this for months at a time.  I'm no hero.

There are single moms and dads who do this solo all the time.  I'm no hero.

There are moms and dads who care for sick spouses for months, then have to grieve as death wins and then help their kids grieve.  I'm no hero.

I'm glad to support my wife.  I rejoice that I have a wife to support.  I'm glad she's on mission and using her God-given skills earned through her hard work.  

Thanks for all who've asked about me and the kids.  We're doing fine.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sermon Notes on Ephesians 5.22-24 from 7.28.13

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 7.28.13, on Ephesians 5.22-24.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio via our website,  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 22 – Marriage is a Faith Issue (for Wives)
Ephesians 5.22-24
Question:  do you notice me?
·      Sarandon Quote from Shall We Dance?  “We need a witness to our lives.  There’s a billion people on the planet.  I mean, what does any one life really mean?  But in a marriage you’re promising to care about everything.  The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things…all of it , all the time, every day.  You’re saying, ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.  Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.’”
·      Fear:  Am I alone?
·      Fear: Will I matter?

What is the content of the call?
·      Submit to husbands as to Lord
o   Not passive 
o   Not absent from text

What are the expressions of the call?

·      Encouragement – summoning godly leadership out of your husband

·      Affirmation – saying yes to godly leadership by your husband

·      Following – supporting godly leadership by your husband

What are the conditions of the call?

·      As to the Lord – you follow your husband and follow Christ

·      This is about faith in Jesus, not your husband


·      Find the Cross

·      Deal with Anger

·      Deal with the Issues (see 4.25-32)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Hacky Sack Awesomeness

For all, including my brothers, who thought we were good at Hacky Sack when we got out of the bus on church youth group trips.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pray for the Queen

No, not that Queen.  My Queen.  The former is a new great-grandmother.  The latter is headed to China.

She's going with the organization through which we adopted Peanut.  And she gets to go to a similar orphanage.  In doing so, she'll be spending time with orphans with special needs and getting to teach nannies in the orphanages how to do ongoing care.  How cool is that?

For those of you who don't know, the Queen is actually Dr. Queen, having gotten her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from a top-5-in-America PT school after already having earned her MPT from one of the top programs in the state.  So yes, she's pretty smart.  And awesome.  And I'm proud.

So pray for the Queen as she goes, that she'll have ample opportunity to be hands-on in ministry and God would extend both His touch and His healing through her.  Pray also for opportunities to share the Gospel with her translator and anyone else who God may bring along.

And you can pray for those who will remain, that it would be peaceful, prayerful, and not seem like too long until she returns.

Thanks to all.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Phil Mickelson won the British Open - and I'm glad

Sometimes good guys do win.

Phil Mickelson did so in style with a final round of 66 (-5 to par) on Sunday.  He called it the round of his life.  Maybe so.  I'm just glad he had it.

I like the way he plays golf.  He's a go-for-broke kind of guy who was once quoted on the difference between a great shot and a smart shot being a smart shot is what a guy hits when he doesn't have the guts to try to pull of a great shot.  I may be off a smidge on that, but not much.

But I also like the fact that he hugged Amy, his wife of 17 years, and embraced his three kids.  I like the fact that he basically suspended his golfing career when Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer and in interviews on the subject talked about it in the first person plural (our treatment, etc.).  I like the fact that he often signs autographs for an hour.  I like the fact that he and Amy started a foundation that helps with education in math and science.  I could go on and on.

Let me sum it up though:  he remembers that there's more to life than what makes him money or makes him famous.

I don't know if he's a person of faith or not.  I do know that he's a great example which some husbands and dads who are followers of Jesus can follow (contra another famous golfer who can't swing without cussing and has made a very public wreck out of a disaster called his personal life).

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, July 22, 2013

I wish George Zimmerman had been a Good Samaritan

If you're familiar at all with the Bible, the story of the Good Samaritan is probably in your repertoire.  A guy walks along the road and some bad guys beat him up and leave him for dead.  Two different types of religious leaders see him and walk on by.  Then a guy who's not even supposed to like him stops, helps, pays for care, and checks on him the next day.  That's the nutshell.

I wish George Zimmerman had been like that.

Admittedly, the story is wearing on us as a culture and media fatigue might be just around the corner.  But I can't help but project about a decade down the road.  I think about Trayvon Martin and the little guy who is currently occupying the Child #4 position in our family (aka Spiderman).  For those catching up, we're fostering a cute little guy right now - and yes, he's African-American.

I told the Queen that a decade from now, Spiderman could have had a similar experience.  That.Freaks.Me.Out.

I don't want to get into the Martin-Zimmerman fiasco even more than I already am.  The case was tried. The verdict was rendered.  I'm grateful for a country with a system of government (albeit imperfect) that allows trials and juries and verdicts.  There's plenty of guilt, shame, regret, and pain to go around - to last a lifetime, to shape a lifetime even.  Enough on that.

What I do know is that race still matters in this country.  We haven't achieved MLK's Dream or the Apostle Paul's vision of no "Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female - because we're one in Christ" (Galatians 3.28).

And this brings me back to the Good Samaritan.  I don't know if George Zimmerman claims the Christian faith or, more importantly, has been claimed by it.  I do.  And I know people who have.  That faith demands that I recognize "no one according to the flesh" (2 Cor. 5.16).  It demands that I don't walk by the beaten up guy on the side of the road because of his race nor immediately think the worst of a 17-year old kid who looks like he might be trouble in baggy pants and a hoodie.  I'm not sure how the Good Samaritan would have shaped that fateful night, but I can't help but think that there was a better outcome than the one we have.

And I've rambled on (you should've seen this pre-edit!) to get to this point I guess:  it was an individual who stopped to help the man.  A single person.  One soul.  Not a system.  Not a conglomerate of legalities, norms, mores, social pressures, and economic realities.  A single person.

That's who stopped.  That's who helped.  That's to whom Jesus pointed as the example of a loving neighbor.  A single person.  I wish George Zimmerman had been that person.

I hope I am that person.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sermon Notes on Ephesians 5.25-33 on 7.21.13

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 7.21.13, on Ephesians 5.25-33.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio via our website,  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 21 – Marriage is a Faith Issue (for Husbands)
Ephesians 5.25-30

Two Big Fears in a Husband

·      Fear of inadequacy – negative answer to his question
·      Fear of being controlled – never be able to answer his question

Summed up in question:  do I have what it takes?
What is the content of the call?

·      To lay your life down for your wife

What are the expressions of the call?

·      Pastor
·      Provide
·      Protect

What are the conditions of the call?

·      It’s unconditional – you lay your life down no matter what she does. 

·      This is about faith in Christ. 


·      Be Spirit-filled – what happens in v.25-30 hangs on v.18
·      Remember: she’s God’s blessing (Prov. 18.22)
·      Go all in – lose the 50/50 myth
·      Get off the turf – when it doesn’t go the way you planned, get up and do it again
·      Keep the goal in mind:  her sanctification.
·      Do the small things – don’t quit in the small things – you’ll be more likely to quit in the big things

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Obedience - that's the test

If the confession of the Christian is, "Jesus is Lord," then I offer that there is one litmus test for a person's Christianity.  Any guesses?

Church attendance?  Bible study?  Time in prayer?  Serving the poor?  Helping the weak?


Well, mostly no.  Those could be expressions of a person's Christianity but they're not the litmus test for it.  Any more guesses?

How about this:  obedience.

Listen to Jesus, the One we follow:  "Why do you call me, 'Lord! Lord!' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6.46).

Yikes.  Ouch.

For those who want to follow Jesus, claim His name, receive His salvation, and live with Him forever, the one thing that we can look to in order to know if we're doing those things or not is the trajectory of our obedience.  Are we doing what Jesus said to do?  Are we doing what Jesus said is best to do?  Are we doing what Jesus said we must do?

Nothing else can test the state of our Christianity like obedience can.  And it's self-deceptive to test it by another standard.

But that's just me thinking thoughts.

Just watch this video...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Marriage and Life with Jesus

Want a way to think about how our relationship with God is mirrored in our relationship with our spouses?  Well, if you do, read on…

You remember the thrill of meeting one another?  Boy.  Girl.  Infatuation.  Up at night thinking about one another.  Being willing to go anywhere or do anything at any time.  Sounds like Abraham.  The thrill of meeting God.  Up at night (Genesis 15).  Going anywhere and everywhere. 

How about the sting of disappointment or betrayal?  You can’t believe it.  You are so hurt.  Tears.  Pain.  Nausea.  Sounds like the people of Israel.  Golden Calves.  Baal worship.  Asherah poles.  Children sacrifice to Molech.  Is it any wonder God talks about spiritual adultery?  Any wonder He describes His people as whoring after other gods? (see Jeremiah)

The devastating silence is there too.  You can’t talk and don’t want to.  The presence is there but the communication is not.  Maybe it lasts 400 years (or what seems like it) and is broken by a guy in camel hair who eats locusts.

And then there’s the relief and joy of reuniting.  Happy tears.  Pulse pounding.  Deep sighs and more than one I-can’t-believe-it.  Maybe your heart gets turned over within you (Hosea 11.8).  Maybe you rejoice and celebrate like it’s a honeymoon (Isa. 62.5).  Maybe there’s palm branches and celebration as the reunion occurs.

Yep.  Our life with God is a lot like our life in marriage.  

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Commitment - the need of the home

What’s the word that you associate with your marriage or the marriage you want to be in? Is it commitment?  I’d offer that it should be.  Out of all the words, commitment is the one that expresses the need of modern marriages.

Why that one word?

Because commitment best expresses the nature of marriage.  Marriage is a dual-covenant between a husband and wife and the couple and God.  Commitment is what it takes to stay in that covenant.  It’s not love that keeps the covenant.  It’s not kids that keep the covenant.  It’s not success or comfort that keep the covenant.  It’s commitment.

What’s more, the commitment is the fertilizer of the soil of that covenant.  It is what helps the love grow.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it this way:  “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”  Commitment is how the love grows.

So what about you and your commitment to your marriage?  Or if your single, do you have in your mind that it’s commitment (as opposed to romance, sex, or something else) that will make your marriage?

Commitment matters.  And it matters in your marriage and life.