Monday, September 30, 2013

Amazing provision

I am amazed at God's provision.

This past weekend we had a monstrously large garage sale to raise money for the adoption we're pursuing.  We were hoping to make enough money to pay the next fee we have in the days ahead.  We didn't make enough to be able to make that payment.

We made enough to make the next two payments.

And that's not even what I'm most excited about.  Seriously.  Not even a close second.

I'm most excited about how many people participated with us.  When the Queen came to me with the garage sale idea, our deal was that if we could include people in the process of our adoption so that they felt like they were a part of something then I could say yes.  And boy, did they participate.

We had people show up with donations that were both generous and surprising.  Garages (yes, plural) full of stuff.  Nice stuff.  Small stuff.  Awesome stuff.

And then we had people show up on the day prior and day of and help organize, clean, stack, fold, manage, and every other function you associate with the insanity that is a garage sale.  And then they stayed.  They packed.  They tied.  They hauled.  They repacked.  They toted.  They stored.  And on and on.

God provided money, for which we're grateful.  But He provided good friends which amaze us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Funny Moment and #HusbandFail

We had a funny moment at our house the other night.  The phone rang Saturday night at 11:30.  My friend and neighbor two streets down had a teenage girl at home who heard the doorbell and then something rattle in the garage and they weren't home.  Scared Teen.  Worried Mom.  Speeding Dad.  I took off running down there.

I put a t-shirt on.  I woke the Queen and told her.  I ran.

I forgot to do one thing.

When I returned home, I was able to report that all was safe and sound at the neighbors' house.  The Queen was up.

I went to open the door and it was locked.  I didn't have my keys.

How did the door get locked if I didn't have my keys?

The Queen's question said it all:  "You ran down the street to rescue the poor neighbor kid from the bad guy in the neighborhood and you forgot to lock our door?"



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On Love and Wrath and NT and OT

Don Carson is a professor at the school where I'm doing my D.Min. work.  Here's some good thinking on how some people are tempted to pit the "god of wrath" of the Old Testament against the "god of love" of the New Testament.

There's only one God.  And He wrote both.

But the point to be made is that if we take seriously the eternal perspective that is laid out in the New Testament, then it simply will not do to write off the Old Testament witness as intrinsically harsher and therefore not something we need worry our heads about today.

I think it is closer to the truth to say that in the coming of the Lord Jesus and the new covenant he sealed with his own blood, both the justice of God and the mercy of God appear in sharper relief than ever before, leaving us with correspondingly less excuse, and with great grounds for praise and worship.
—D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil1st ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 105.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What would you say in a mall in Kenya?

By all accounts, the terrorism unleashed on the mall in Nairobi was brutal and religiously motivated.  So much so that the terrorists allegedly asked if a person was a Muslim.  If the answer was affirmative, the hostage was released.  If the answer was no, most were shot dead.  In cold blood.  Brutal.

Some of my dear readers will need a caveat here about how Christianity hasn't had a clean reputation throughout history.  Say "Crusades" and you know the reaction we're talking about.  So caveat here.  Done.

More important than a politically correct caveat is this burning question:  what would you have said?  If knowing a simple answer of "Yes" to the question on the other end of an AK-47 would save your life, what would you have said?  If confessing Christ (or not confessing Islam) cost you your life, would you still confess Him?

And the answer to that question lies in this one:  do you really believe that dying is gain?

Well?  Do you?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 9.22.13

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 9.22.13, on 1 Peter 2.4-10.  I started a series called Together, trying to highlight the necessity of the church.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio on our website,  You can also download the sermon audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 1 – New Person, New People 
1 Peter 2.4-10

Three Foundational Statements

  • We were never meant to be alone
  • We can be together and not be alone
  • We can become more together than we can alone
This is in the nature of the Gospel

The Gospel Creates a New Person

  • WhenIcometoHim,Iammadenew
  • When I come to Him, I am given a new identity
  • When I come to Him, I am given a new purpose
  • When I come to Him, I will not be put to shame

The Gospel Creates a New People

  • Jesus died alone so we would never have to be alone
  • Every noun referring to believers is plural
  • Every image requires a plural understanding
  • Church is a together effort

Particular Application:

  • Put yourself in a circle, not just a row
  • Invite someone to church 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How the Word shapes our Prayer Life

Three ways the Word helps shape our prayer life:

1.  Content - it helps us understand what we are to pray for.  It makes sure we don't go off being all crazy.  Now, admittedly, some people take the Word and think it says to pray for this or that.  They make a lot of money selling that formula on TV via their "world-wide ministries" and promises of blessings.  But they're charlatans and peddlers.  The Bible helps us pray by shaping our content that will make Jesus look more famous, not us have more convenience.

2.  Motive - it purifies the motives we ask with.  The more we're in the Bible, the more the Spirit of God will help us by convicting us and making sure we're not asking "to spend it on ourselves" (James 4).  Sometimes this is the deepest and most difficult work.

3.  Answer - it helps us understand and interpret God's answer when it comes.  It's not always the answer we want.  Sometimes it's not an answer we can even fathom.  But it's God's answer.  And crazy, view-shaping verses like "As for God, His way is perfect" (Ps. 18.30) put it all in its proper place.  Examples like the three guys in the furnace in Daniel 3 - "God can save us.  And if He doesn't we'll die.  But either way we're not going to be unfaithful to Him" - rattle our comfortable cages.  Rightly so.  But they do help us understand and interpret His answers.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Process Matters!

I was in a conversation with one of our church members this past week and we were laughing about how we wish God would go ahead and get us to where we were going.  I'm praying about X, so just go ahead and resolve the issue, whichever way it's going to go.  We love the end.  We can embrace that.

Embracing the process of getting there is a different story.

And that's the rub, isn't it?  But it's in the process that we're transformed.  That way God not only changes a situation but us too.  It's a double-whammy for Him.  In the process of praying, waiting, calling out, having conversations, expressing frustration, praying, waiting, and praying and waiting some more, God moves in us.  He shapes us.  We keep our eyes on Him and He transforms us, just like He said He would (2 Cor. 3.18).

So if you're there - and our family is SO there right now - know that the process matters.  And it's good for us, even though it's not our favorite part.  We're transformed by that process, not by the outcome.  And what do you know, but most of the time we couldn't embrace the outcome without being transformed by the process.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy Birthday to the Bear

Happy Birthday to my now 11-year old.  

I've seen you come into the world

We've played golf (which was SO fun with you)

I've watched you grow

And I'm glad you're mine.  Happy birthday, Bear.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I had a moment yesterday...

You know what I'm talking about?

One of those moments.

One where you know it's coming and you can't help it.  You're just trying to move from okay to "Oh, PLEASE not the ugly cry.  PLEASE."

Yep.  I had one.

I'm sitting in the baptistry getting ready to lead the church in baptizing three precious girls and one precious lady.  Frank, our worship pastor, rolled out the Gospel music standard Because He Lives.  We do that song on occasion because he and a friend have a great little bridge that goes with it.

It was the verse that got me though.

And then one day, I'll cross that river.
I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives...

I got to thinking about the people who were out there singing that.  The lady who was facing death-defying surgery the next day.  The person who got a bad report from the oncologist.  And on and on.

That was my moment.

It happened not because the song is that touching.  It's a smidgeon on the old side stylistically for me.  But the lyrics rang so true as I thought about the people singing it.  I sat down on the baptistry steps and wept.  And then tried to pull myself together so that Pastor Blubber Face wouldn't be the reason the girls' baptism was memorable.

This story doesn't really have a point.  It's just worth telling because God touched me.  And I love the church for that reason.  It's the place God touches people.  Amen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sermon Notes on Ephesians 6.17-24

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 9.15.13.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 27 – Praying for Words
Ephesians 6.17-24

What?  “Prayer”
It is by prayer that we wield the sword of the Spirit
If we pray without the Word, we are rudderless
If we don’t pray but have the Word, we are religious

When?  “At All Times”
If you’re going to wield the sword, you must be a person of prayer
Prayer is conversation, not recitation
Prayer is dialogue, not monologue
Prayer:  talking with God about mutual concerns

How? “Alert”
Stay Alert that there is a war going on around us
Stay Alert with Perseverance
It’s through perseverance in prayer that our sense of its importance is sharpened

Whom? “All the Saints”
Prayer is inherently relational
Paul asks for prayer that his ministry would be effective
Paul makes sure they pray in an informed way
Together we become people who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible

Friday, September 13, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Third Grade Goals

Did you ever dream of this in third grade?  I didn't either...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Today, Church looks like...


No kidding.  This is church for me today.  Mmmmmmm...

Here's why.

One of our friends and fellow Heritage Parkers brought down dinner tonight.  I had a full day and night of staff meeting, other meeting, sermon work, letter writing, and paper chasing.  I rushed home to a 5:30 basketball practice for the team my son is on and I'm coaching.  This is after the curveballs of yesterday and the insanity that is life with four kids under 10.

I'm not complaining.  I'm simply saying church looks like cheesecake.

Our friend rolled up to our house, dropped the stuff off, stayed to chat, and then left.  I came home to a yummy meal and just polished off some cheesecake with fruit topping - which of course makes it healthy.

And I'm grateful to be a part of a church family who loves people practically and without prompting.  It's just who they are.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I don't know about you, but I don't like curveballs.  At the batting cage, I can hit the straight ball - even in the fastest cage.  But don't give me a curveball.  Whiff.

Reminds me of that big guy on Major League.

As in life too, the curveball that comes (because they always do) leave me reeling, back on my heels, bailing out, and all sorts of other phrases.  Whiff.

But the one thing it does do.  It does make me dependent.  It does drive me to prayer.  It does change my perspective on God's bigness and my smallness.  It does make me trust rather than try.

Sound familiar to you too?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Do you value the Word?

Our student pastor, Kyle Jackson, preached a great sermon yesterday on the last three elements of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 (as a PSA, find it at  One of the things he kept emphasizing was how important the sword of the Spirit is in the spiritual battle.  It's the only offense-oriented weapon in the list.  Everything else is defensive in nature.  And though they protect, they don't win the fight.  The fight is won by the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

So here's the question I've sat with since the sermon yesterday:  do I value the Word of God like a fighter would his sword?

The follow-up this morning is this:  if I do prize it, what do I do to possess it? to make it my own?  What more do I need to do or discipline myself to do to make sure that it stays in my hand, sharp and ready, and in the fight?

Something to think about this morning.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Bus Ministry Pstr with Fam Issues (and many more)

There's a lot wrong with this poster.  

1.  Church = parents' break from kids.  
2.  Text-Speak on a Poster
3.  Diapered kids can't come to church (?)

I'll quit there...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Funny Ad

I don't have anything of particular import to say today.  But this is sure funny.  An ad for LG...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

On (that) road again...

For all who haven't seen the Queen's Facebook posts yet, we're on a unique road again:  the road to overseas adoption.  There are tons of questions to be answered, so let me try to do so briefly.

We've always thought there was another little girl out there for us.  We weren't sure from where or when, but were confident in her existence.  The Queen being in China stirred that faith afresh, so we're entering into the process.  We're using the same agency, AWAA, through whom we adopted our little Peanut.  And no, we have no idea how long it will take but are trusting God for mountains to move.  So if you hear rocks cracking...

Heck, you can pray along with us in our Mountain Relocation Project.

Our kids are excited.  I'm not sure they know what they're in for, but who is?  When we first started talking about it, the Bear said, "Mom, why are we even praying about this?  Let's go!"  And that from the most cautious one of the clan.

We believe in adoption.  We believe in powerful moves of God.  We believe in poignant pictures of the Gospel.  So we're stepping in to see what all God will do.  Thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Home. That feels pretty good to say.

We're home after a whirlwind trip to the big town of Columbus, Texas.  Yes, we vacation in the middle of nowhere.  Actually, it wasn't truly vacation.  I was preaching at a conference for a ministry we, as a family, love to give back to as many times as we can - Pine Cove.

It was a great time.  Ministry was sweet.  Some new friends.  Some good conversations.  Some connections made.  Some good times.  All in all a great Labor Day weekend.  So take all of what I'm about to say with this in mind:  we'd go back tomorrow without even thinking about it.

But I'm glad to be home:  Bunk bed or my bed?  Tiny bathroom for the 6 of us or multiple bathrooms?  Of course, I want the creature comforts of home.  And if you think I'm complaining a bit about the other, I'm not.  Mine are First World Problems.  But my bed feels better than a camp bed.

Being gone reminds me of how much I like being home.  It's true when I travel and preach.  It's true when I travel for my doctoral classes.  It's even true when I vacation.  Being gone reminds me of how much I like being home.

And if you ever have a heartache for something that you know is not right, if you ever have had your breath taken away by the phone-call-from-hell, if you ever have run into the brick wall of relational bitterness when you're doing everything you can to make it right, you know what Home feels like.

Nothing's broken in Heaven.  Nothing grows when it's not supposed to or doesn't grow when it should.  No relationships are unreconciled.  The only breath being taken away is by beauty.

The fact that we all know what that's like is proof in and of itself that this world is not our home.  But we have a place that is, one that is open to everyone who trusts Jesus.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...