Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Once A Semester Musings

I start with an apology as I have the last five posts or so. I have to admit, I'm responsible with many things, but with blogging I am irresponsible. It's definitely not first on my list.

One thing that has turned me off to blogging recently is the negativity present in most of the blogs I frequent. We need prophets who continually critique the church's current practice. My Old Testament class has convinced me of this, but if all we do is critique, who is there to pick up the pieces and do something about? (Wow! This is a great argument. I am being critical of those who are critical.) I just tire quickly of those who critique without any praise and I would rather not post if all I have to say is prophetic. The church has a lot wrong with it. Everyone who knows me knows that I believe that, but the church has a lot of good going on as well. This is not a sufficient excuse not to blog, but it has kept me from writing much lately.

This semester has been difficult for me. I am currently in Christian Spiritual Formation, Ancient & Medieval Church History, Advanced Introduction to the Old Testament, Narrative Evangelism and Supervised Practice of Ministry. As has often been the case in school, God usually brings certain passions to my life through the course of each semester. Somehow the material in all of my classes and the rest of my life causes me to become passionate about something. In past semesters, this passion has been for church unity (denominational and racial), Missional Church, the issue of civil religion in America and preaching. This semester I have been challenged to become more involved in social justice and make it an emphasis in my life.

Christian spiritual formation has caused me to see my spiritual life as a broader thing than I have seen it as in the past. I used to believe prayer, Scripture reading and going to church were the practices of formation, but this semester has forced me to see how many more things are formative. Social justice and contemplative spirituality have not been emphases of our tradition in Churches of Christ, but they are integral parts of a person's formation. Intro to the Old Testament has forced me to struggle with parts of the prophets I have never really thought much about. Scripture cares deeply about justice for the poor and oppressed and worship without an ethic of justice is worthless to God. This flies in the face of our tradition where we have focused on correct practice rather than worship that demands an ethic to follow it out the door of the sanctuary. Ancient & Medieval Church History has also challenged me to think about asceticism and ethical living. The church made a huge difference in Roman culture because of its care for the poor. Following is a quote that continues to haunt me from Jerome:

"All riches come from iniquity, and unless one person suffered loss another would not make gain. Hence the popular saying seems to be true: A rich person is either wicked himself or the beneficiary of someone else's wickedness."

How are we complicit in the plight of the poor? What is our responsibility as Christians to the poor and oppressed? Surely, we don't think our political views and voting are the answer. It takes getting our hands and feet dirty in order to meet more friends who are not like us.

If Jerome is right, Americans have a lot of explaining to do. How can I responsibly argue for having lots of money in the bank when there are so many that could use the money that I invest so that I can be secure when I retire? There seems to be a disconnect somewhere. God help us! We save so that we don't have to have faith that you can provide. How can we better help the poor with our abundance? How can we believe it is perfectly fine to put so much money into our cars and homes while so many have no food to eat while our pantries are full. These are disconcerting matters that I would rather not think about, but people are dying as we begin to move this matter to the back of our minds.

Just something I've been thinking about. What do you think?

Monday, August 28, 2006

What time is it again?

Ah, yes. You know it's school time when you have...

- 13 hours (grad school none the less)
- 27 books
- 5 new syllabi
- weekends filled with papers
- to pay for all of this

Can't live with it, can't get a job without it. Yet, somehow I love this time of year. Maybe it's the school and the books that I've grown to love. Or, maybe it's the college football season coming on. Well, here it goes.

Friday, August 04, 2006


It's been a strange summer for Holly and me. For the past three summers, I have been doing internships. This summer has been different. We are spending our first summer in Abilene, which is definitely a shift from our summers in Houston and Dallas. It is a different town without the college kids. All of our friends from undergrad are gone for good. Eric and Sarah moved to New York and Chad is only miles from the powder keg in the Middle East. We miss them so much. And Holly doesn't even have a summer for the first time. Who knew that adults didn't get the summer off? Holly is having to learn the hard reality. We really are growing up!

I have not been without church work this summer. It has been an honor to work beside three other friends from grad school to prepare and teach "Lessons From the Front Porch" on Wednesday nights. We have spent so many hours planning and God has been faithful to teach us as we led the church in its worship. It has been such a growing experience. Also, I've preached many times this summer at churches in Buffalo Gap, Aspermont, Abilene and Snyder. These have been great experiences, but we are ready to rejoin our family at Southern Hills in the fall.

I took two classes at the beginning of summer, Pastoral Ministry Skills and the Gospel of John. I learned so much, as I always do, in my grad school classes. Fortunately, I have finished with all of my work.

Summer is coming to an end. It's been strange, but God has been faithful and formed me in the midst of change. We are building great, new friendships with couples at Southern Hills. God always brings people into our lives that even make Abilene feel like home. Now, we can look forward to our cruise. After, all it is Holly's only week of summer so we better make the most of it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Which Terrorists?

As I walked into class today, I was informed of something that made the class cheer in approval. As I turned on the radio, I heard that it was a good day. As I turned on the tv, I was forced to look at the face of a man who was supposed to bring me joy.

Normally a seminary class cheers when God has answered a long awaited prayer request. Usually my radio makes me feel good when my sports team wins or when one of my favorite songs comes on. Most of the time I rejoice when I look at the tv and see the hopes of the homeless being answered on Sunday nights on ABC.

However, today was not such a day. In fact, I might sound un-American, but that is not my biggest worry right now. Today a man was killed and millions rejoiced for that reason alone. Al-Zarqawi, the second greatest threat in the Eastern World, expired. No, I take that back, he died by means of two 500 pound bombs. Pardon me if I don't rejoice. Pardon me if I don't feel like singing praises to my God right now for upholding the cause of America. My veins don't bleed red, white and blue when my country's best news this year is found on a tv screen showing a dead man's face.

I have to admit that my ideas have changed in the past few years. Four years ago I would have thought this was a great thing, but as I am mastered more and more by Scripture and God's Kingdom, it becomes more difficult for war and fatalities to bring a smile to my face. The Kingdom of God asks different questions than how can we preserve our lives best in America. I have stopped pretending that God favors America any more than anyone else. I have stopped praying for God to bless America and start blessing the world.

Call it pacifism if you want. Call me a coward, but I don't think justice is served in retaliation and I don't think this endless string of violence will end with one more assassination of an Arab person (or Arab target as many call it). I don't have many answers, but I have a model to follow in all of this. Christ has taught me to follow his path down the road to the cross. I am called to turn the other cheek and pray for my enemies.

Sure, we need to uphold the cause of the oppressed and there may be justification somewhere in all of this, but surely we can hold our cheers when we hear of the loss of a person's life. We must mourn for those the terrorists murder, our troops and our enemies. I can't quite see Christ rejoicing in this news today.

The best news I heard tonight was from a father whose son was beheaded by al-Zarqawi a couple of years ago. Larry King interviewed him and asked him some volatile questions. He asked him if al-Zarqawi's death brought any closure. The father said (paraphrase), "No, any loss of life is a loss for all of humanity." King went on and on trying to get the father to admit some joy or relief in this death, but the father obstinately denied feeling any relief or vindication. Al-Zarqawi's death would not bring his son back and vengeance wasn't the answer.

Wow! What a testament. Perhaps we can learn from this father. I'm not sure what I really believe. I don't condone terror or rejoicing in the death of another person, but what do I do with with the murder of an unrepentant sinner? Is it ever right to condone and rejoice in the death of another? I need more time to reflect and think, but I'm not sure I can do this.

It was sickening to hear the applause of classmates today. It was gross to hear a radio personality claim victory in the death of another. It was appalling to continually see the face of a dead man on tv tonight. I am a part of the Kingdom of God. My goal is for all people to be transformed by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. We must lay down our lives for the sake of others. We must share the good news with those easy to love and those difficult to love. In short, we must be Christ to a world in the midst of suffering, terror and murder. We must proclaim, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!" not only to the Arabs but to ourselves when we condone acts of terror abroad and among our friends and relatives.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Journey to God Knows Where

This is the title of my sermon I am preaching Sunday at Southern Hills Church of Christ. This year the church's theme is "The Journey to God's Horizon," so I thought I would take a stab at what that journey is.

What is our journey as the people of God? As I've thought about it, I've realized that is new language in some ways. Christians have not always perceived themselves as being on a journey, but at our most faithful, we are pilgrims who do not call this world home. However, all too often, we have been comfortable here forgetting our journey at times.

I have always seen Hebrews 11 as the "Hall of Faith," but there is a tremendous amount of journey language there as well. Abraham was an alien who lived in a tent who sought a city designed by God. Moses left the confines of the Moses' palace to suffer disgrace for the sake of Christ (thousands of years before Christ was here). These people were on a journey and did not stay stationed anywhere for much time.

But, the journey stopped for many of God's people. The Israelites asked for a king and a temple and God allowed them to have these things, but these are the first things that keep them from their journey. Israel becomes a sedentary people who forget to journey on.

The people of God are most faithful when they are pilgrims on a journey, but they are most unfaithful when they settle for an earthly kingdom rather than an eternal, lasting city.

In the fourth century, Emperor Constantine created Christendom (Christianity was the state religion). And for 1600 years, Christianity has been at the center of culture. The church was built in the town square not by accident. This reality symbolized the social location of Christianity. But, in the last few decades, the church has moved to the margins. We are losing our place as the powerful church. Some would even say we're losing our influence and for some that is scary.

Many want to regain our position at the center of society. There are two main ways to do this. Many try to seek political power. These people try to legislate through the courts what has already been lost in society. Others try to market the church and these churches become vendors of religious goods and services for consumers. Both of these possibilities miss the mark. If we seek political power as the church did in Western Europe, we risk losing the story of Christ exhanging the spiritual city for an earthly kingdom. If we market the church, we risk losing the uncomfortable and challenging message of Scriptu8re in an effort to gain people through attractions.

Hebrews 13:11-14 gives us the response of those who want to rejoin the journey. We are to follow Christ who went outside the city bearing disgrace and we are to join him on that road. We must leave the safety and security of the city to rejoin God on the journey. We drop all attempts at regaining power because we follow the one who accepted his role at the margins of society ministering to the marginalized.

This is the church's call. To become a pilgrim people who forsake power as we continue the journey that Abraham and Moses began. We are to leave the city. We are to live in tents. And we are to follow Christ outside the city on the path of disgrace. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Yesterday was WATS (We Are The Sermon) Day. Southern Hills, with several other Abilene area churches, left the building early and went to do acts of service in the name of Jesus throughout our community. What a blessing it was!

I had the opportunity to be our group's team leader, which gave me the chance to meet the lady we would be working with beforehand. Josephine was the owner of the house we worked on. She was an older woman who had no family to help her. In fact, we heard story after story about how she had been mistreated by them. Her son had come by earlier in the week for the sole purpose of cutting her air conditioning line in 90 degree weather. She was in need of so many things.

We decided to take on the task of painting her house because it was very run down. It was great to see our young marrieds' class working together outside of the church building in the community. There were over 50 projects just like ours throughout the town of Abilene going on simultaneously. What a work of God. I will never preach a sermon in all the years I have ahead of me that will make such a difference in so many lives.

Yesterday, I saw the church as God intended it. We were salt and light. We were the hands of feet of God bringing cold water and shelter for dozens. Many might say the work we did could not possibly further the name of Christ, but I want to say the work we did was more powerful to Josephine than any tract or sermon could have ever been. Instead of being a church that waits for people to come into our fortresses, we were "sent out" to the lost. This has to be the model for the church in the future.

There is a picture from yesterday that will stick in my mind forever. On the corner of Josephine's street was a Church of Christ. Her house was next door to the church, but she said she had never met anyone from that church in all the years she had lived there. This woman, living in poverty in a house that is needing to be condemned, had not been visited or helped in all of these years. I was amazed, but then I was convicted. How many neighbors has Southern Hills neglected? How many neighbors struggling to get by has your church looked past? There are so Josephines in our communities who can see Christ through us if we take the time to see them and meet their needs.

Josephine couldn't have heard a message of Jesus without her house being fixed. Meals on Wheels had been planting seeds for years with her, and I believe that we have watered those seeds and I am confident God will bring the growth. What a blessing it was to serve Josephine yesterday. Yesterday was what church is all about.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The DaVinci Code: A Christian Response

The DaVinci Code. One of the most popular books in recent history. It weaves a great story together of part-history and part-fiction. Many have read it! Have you read it?

The other day, my dad was in the auto shop getting new tires put on the car when The DaVinci Code became a lightning rod that attracted an interesting conversation. My dad was only 50 pages into it, but as he read, a man waiting with him began to ask him questions about the book. What does the Bible say about Jesus? About Mary Magdalene? This man was an admitted non-Christian who seemed to be searching for truth. He valued what science and history would have to say about the book's historical claims. His questions for my dad centered around who Jesus was and the validity of The Davinci Code's information about Christianity. I don't know about your conversations at the auto shop, but mine rarely center around any Christian topic.

But in walked Satan to disrupt the conversation. OK, maybe it wasn't Satan. But a disruptor overheard the conversation and tried to break up any hope for an evangelistic conversation. OK, that may be too strong also, but stay with the story. As my dad and this other gentleman talked about issues in the book, a woman piped up and said, "Why don't you just read the Bible to get your information on this subject!!!" If I were my dad in this conversation, my fundamentalist Christian radar would have gone off as I said, "Whoa! Settle down there missy. I happen to be in the middle of my Master of Divinity planning to preach one day. I happen to read the Bible too. Leave the evangelizing to me please." (My dad has a Masters and Doctorate in Bible, by the way) But, my dad kindly answered her question. Unfortunately because of her interjection, a conversation possibly heading towards redemptive places was halted and an opportunity for God to work possibly missed.

And this whole conversation got started through a book that many in the church call heretical. (Don't get me wrong there is heresy in the book that is dangerous.) If we were in a different era, there would be book burnings by the church. Who knows, there is still time for that to happen. But, I am calling for Christians not to burn the book or even refuse to buy it. I'm calling for every Christian to read this book. Christians are in a great position to have many more conversations like the one my dad had if we just read the book.

It's too easy to label the book heresy and not read it, but God is presenting us with an opportunity. The book has sold over 40 million copies and a movie is coming out soon that will spread its popularity and hype even more. In our Postmodern society, this can be the very thing that can foster Christian conversations. People are extremely interested in spiritual matters. That is part of the reason why so many copies have been sold.

So, I encourage you to read it for yourself. I'm currently reading it a second time and highlighting any heretical sections. Don't just read a response to The DaVinci Code and why it is wrong. Read The DaVinci Code itself so you can be a full participant in the conversation.

I plan to write more on this. There is dangerous fiction cast as fact in the book. I want to write more about these subjects. But, let's not be outside of this conversation. If we close our eyes and ears to this opportunity, then people will settle for the answers Dan Brown gives in his book. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Let's get to work!

P.S. What questions do you have about the book? What possibilities might this bring to our churches?

Friday, March 10, 2006


Well, I stand three days from turning 22 and I suppose another chapter of my life has been completed. Looking back, it is easy to see the way God has transformed my life in the past 21 years. There's something about the age 22 that makes you realize you are not a child anymore. It's time to put aside the childish ways and move on to bigger and better things, though I have had a blessed life thus far.

I could not have asked to be born into a better family than I have. My life says nothing about who I am, but everything about my genes and the parenting I was given. I often hear stories about the wonderful people my great-grandparents were and I am blessed to have known all of my faithful grandparents. I thank God for each one. I miss Papaw and Grandmom especially when I hear wonderful stories about them. Although it is a blessing to know that I will see them again one day. My parents are also incredible people of faith. I was born as a preacher's kid into a family of love and faithfulness to God. I knew no life outside of the church. Christian men and women have been my teachers from Kindergarten through my current work in grad school. Like any good Church of Christ boy, I was baptized on my 13th birthday by my Bible preaching father. If I only knew then, what I know today, my Christian walk might have looked a little different. If I only knew that day was an inauguration into a life of mission rather than baptism being the end goal of faith, I might have walked differently through my teenage years, but I appreciate the process and journey as much or more than the destination.

In my early teenage years, I was a good child. I honestly sought God. I only wish I would have developed spiritual disciplines in those early years that might have made my current devotional life that much better. The move to Dallas was tough. All I knew was San Diego. Why would God move me from such a wonderful place? Now I know. I would have never met Holly were it not for my grandfather's stroke and our subsequent move. Now, I am thankful, but then I could not understand. (Perhaps I should keep this understanding in mind throughout my life. It might come in handy!)

In Dallas, the theme must have been fitting in because I went to great lengths to do it. Sports were a great way into the mainstream of the guys at Dallas Christian. There are so many good memories on that football field and on the golf course. I shed tears at the end my careers because of the memories I will forever treasure. My youth group was good. I was a leader, but deep within me faith was on the back burner. Faith was not lived out, it was separated from my daily routine and behavior. I never got into deep trouble, but I never lived deeply into God either. Why did it matter so much for me to fit in? Why was faith not lived out? Why was I so sectarian about a faith that did not matter enough to implement in my daily life? These are questions I can only consider today because they were not even on my radar then.

And oh Holly! The beautiful girl I picked out my first day of school. She didn't notice me for almost three years, but it is all worth it now. Head cheerleader, beautiful smile, popular. Dating her was only a dream in my mind, but God somehow brought two totally different people with totally different agendas into a relationship that would one day foster great faith, spirituality and deep love in a marital relationship. I can safely say she is one of the best choices I have ever made. I can only wait to see my perspective 50 years from now when she has mothered a family, nurtured a preaching husband and lived a life of faithfulness. The wrinkles she will one day have will not be because of wrong decisions, but because of the tender, loving service she will have rendered to so many through her years of service for the Lord. I can only wait in expectation to see the woman she becomes!

College has been a life-changing endeavor. The Bible department has been a huge factor in my spiritual growth. Though I have struggled with many things in college, I can safely say that these four years have brought me to real faith. I have changed from a slave to sin to a slave to righteousness. I have changed from a disinterested student to a passionate grad student who cannot stop reading, thinking and dreaming about how God will use me in his church. I have changed from a single guy to a married man. I now sense a calling and purpose in life.

I feel like everything has been leading up to this moment in my life. I am now comfortable with who I am. Fitting in matters less to me than proclaiming the word of God faithfully and boldly despite persecution. I have a message to share with the world that I cannot keep silent about. Nothing will detract me from the mission I have been given. Sin no longer has its deep roots in my soul. My wife fights the fight of faith with me. Professors are taking me on a journey to deeper faith and understanding. My parents's prayers have always been a grace that has surrounded me. I may be 21, but I have been transformed by the grace of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God has brought me from the kingdom of darkness into his light. He has called me to proclaim freedom for the captives, for that is where I have been. I have been called to lead the blind, for that is what I once was.

I am happy and content with my place and purpose in life. What can be better than that? I want to thank my parents for their faithfulness that has been passed down. I want to thank my grandparents for how they have always walked in the truth and how they taught my parents to do what is right. I want to thank Holly's parents for working in Holly's life to form her into a deep woman of faith that is loyally devoted to me as I am to her. I want to thank my professors for the way they faithfully form students to become ministers not only in knowledge, but in spirituality. I want to thank Josh Ross for the impact he has been on me in example and speech. I also want to thank Prentice, Tim and Ronnie for the mentoring and friendship that you have provided. Each of you has been a servant of God sent to me in order to confirm his call on my life.

Ultimately, I thank God for the work he has done in me because of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. I am still early on in my journey with much to learn. However, for the first time in my life and I can say I am content in myself and in my life. Thanks be to God! Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Friday, February 24, 2006


My favorite time of year has come and gone. Lectureship at ACU. Most students cringe at the thought of parking being hectic because of a crowded campus, but I can't think of a better time in the four years I have been in Abilene. I love the classes, lectures and most of all time with my family.

This year, ACU focused on unity with Christian churches and the theme was the Gospel of John. It is amazing to think that we have no idea who our Christian Church brothers are because we have been divided for so long. We have similar theology and are conservative on the grand scheme of theological standing, but musical instruments have divided us mostly. It's crazy to think that such a puny matter in Scripture has divided us and kept us from being faithful to the greater doctrine of unity. There is much to be done not just with these brothers, but with all who hold up Christ as their Lord.

I was blown away by several lectures. David Fleer's sticks out to me. What an innovative, inductive preacher. David brought everyone into the text by describing a slideshow of his text. I felt like I had entered the Biblical world in a new and fresh way. What if every Sunday we read and preached in a way that made people enter the text in transforming ways? He truly has a gift that he gives to the students at Rochester. These sermons excite me again about the future and how God will use me as a voice for him. I can't wait for all of the sermons that will be written. God continue to work on me so that I am mastered by the text you have given.

All in all, it was a great week. My favorite week of the year. I only wish I could make it to Pepperdine and Tulsa yearly. Maybe in the future.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

For some reason this song ran through my head over and over again last night. What an amazing hymn! Check out verse 3. That ranks up there with "It is well With My Soul"'s 2nd verse. We talk a lot about grace, but what about the desire to be enslaved by God because of his grace?

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

1. Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.


Thank you for your love exhibited through your grace. Just as you brought the Israelites from slavery to Pharaoh to slavery yourself, you have brought me from being a slave of sin to become a slave of righteousness. Never let me wander from thee, never leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Church as Culture

Monday night in my Leading Congregational Transformation course we had another professor come in to talk about ethnology. She brought up a wonderful way of conceiving church I had never thought of before. She introduced the church as a culture of its own and her studied involved ethnology.

A church is a culture that has its own language, customs, rituals, etc. Every church has its own culture that encodes the story of God in their culture. For instance, an inner city church in Houston will have a completely different culture from a suburban church in Frisco, TX. As a new preacher to a church, it is vital to begin to understand a church's culture before making an impact.

In overseas missions, it is a grave error to plant an American church with American cultural norms and beliefs into an African church. Different symbols mean different things. God's story must be translated into the culture. This is why anthropology and the study of culture are so important for any missionary. You cannot plant an American church in an African culture.

Just so, I cannot plant a church conceived in a seminary in Abilene, Texas, in whatever church I end up at. Any model for church that is one-size-fits-all is not appropriate for church work. Culture and location matters. Each church has a different culture and needs a different way to do church. This is what makes church work so interesting to me. Every church will need a different kind of minister and symbol to get across the same message of Jesus Christ. The mosaic of Christianity points to the same thing but in different ways. How illuminating!

Flexibility is the key word for the next three years. May God continue to keep my plans and dreams for the church flexible because the last thing the church needs is a set of clones on a mission to take over the church for one agenda. I must become an observer of culture and symbol over the next three years and hopefully that will transform me into a preacher that allows dreams to come from within a church rather from without.

The Spirit of God is among the people of God. The mission of God is wrapped up in the gifts of a given community of faith. The mission may look different in every church, but the message must remain constant: God is the one who continues to seek the lost despite every human's reaction of sin. Jesus Christ is the only reason for our hope and in him is life!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Oh, Larry...

Last night I sat in bed flipping channels and stumbled across Larry King Live. He was having a discussion about gay marriage with two homosexuals and two heterosexual "Christian" voices. It was quite a heated discussion. The proponents of gay marriage seemed to be well-spoken, patient and agreeable people, while the opponents seemed to to be overly condemning and confident as they looked down at the homosexuals. Larry King, like most media moguls, was out to make the Christians look like bigoted jerks who wanted nothing more than to ruin the lives of these great homosexual citizens. As the callers called in, they were very upset with the Christians who chose to make a stand for what they believed. It was an interesting dialogue to say the least.

It brought me back to another Larry King I saw months ago with Joel Osteen. Joel is doing many great things with the Lakewood Church that I have written about in the past, but on the show Joel refused to say there was one way to heaven and he got many Christians upset who believed he had not been strong enough in his beliefs on the show.

Where and how can we build bridges in this society to a world of people who do not know Jesus Christ? There seems to be no way to be a bridge builder with the liberal media without giving up the most vital parts of our faith. There is only one way to heaven, but how can that be said in our society that is so filled with intolerance for the intolerant. What should be the stance for Christians in politics and on shows like Larry's? I agree with these Christians last night that there is only one way to heaven, but I disagree with the way they said it. I also disagree with Joel for not being strong enough in his statements, but I applaud the way he sought to build bridges. Where is the middle ground? What would Jesus do?

This morning I received an e-mail asking me to join a group at ACU on the internet site "Facebook" called "Keep 'Brokeback Mountain' Off of Our Ranches." The group's intent, though mostly to be humorous, is " to complain about all the gayness in movies and to help people dealing with enough problems of 'brokeback people' just being around. I know many of the people in this group and many of them harmlessly joined just to be funny, but as I decided to reject my invitation, I thought what does that say about us as Christians? Gay jokes are easy and have been since elementary school, but is that the way of Christ? Is that this mission we are about? It is when I see things like this that I begin to ask myself, "Is the liberal media more correct about us as Christians then I want to believe?"

My political views are in flux at the moment. I grew up a good Christian Republican home (catch the sarcasm), but as I think more about what it means to be a Christian in all facets of life my views have begun to open up. Surely God is not Republican or Democrat nor does he care to join either side. And I am sickened by the right's "Christian" agenda. In this post-modern, post-Christian world, we must stand up for what we believe, but we must also never equate legislating morality with the great commission. Legislation is not where the battle for hearts and souls can or will be won.

I'm not sure where I am on the subject of voting and politics yet. I know I never want to support and candidate from the pulpit, but what are we called to as Christians in the political arena? And how would I begin to build bridges while standing firm in my beliefs as a Christian if I were called someday to be the "Christian" voice on a liberal media show such as Larry King that seems out to get me. These are questions worth pondering and discussing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hook 'Em Horns

What a great break it has been. Holly and I got to be in Dallas for about almost three weeks with our families. What a blessing our families are and continue to be. God has truly blessed our lives through the ones who have brought us up faithfully.

Not only has God blessed me with a great family and wonderful in-laws, but he has blessed my life most through the one I call my wife. We started dating five years ago Jan. 5. These years have been wonderful and I love you with all of my heart. I love that you long to grow close to the Lord and I ask that God will continue to bless our marriage and ministry in the future. You are a blessing Holly and I am especially thankful that you will be getting me through grad school. And you are still the most beautiful woman in the world!!

Grad school begins a week from today. I am excited and nervous. In this new year, I want to commit to being more spiritual in all areas of my life. I pray that the Holy Spirit will more fully lead me in the way of righteousness. Most of all I am thankful for Jesus who gives me a new breath, not just each new year, but each new moment. I am blessed to learn and grow at a place like ACU. Preaching is my passion and gift and I pray that God will continue to lead me in his direction and mission in the world.

Last night, Holly and I went to the hospital to be with Timm and Heather Dilling who should have a baby today. It is so exciting to be a part of something like this with close friends. Exciting times! We pray for the day she will take on Christ for herself.

But most of exciting of all, how about them Horns! I could not believe the performance Vince showed in the National Championship. I wish he would stay for his senior year but it will be exciting to see him on the next level. Trade up to get him in the draft Cowboys!

For all who read this, may God bless you in this new year not just in spiritual and physical ways, but may he bless you to join him in his mission as his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Don't get caught just going to church. Don't think it's enough to read your Bible and pray everyday. A checklist faith is not enough for our God. Be in prayer that God will use the gifts he has given you in real ways this year for the sake of his kingdom. May every small group and church be more focused on the ways God is moving in this world because there is so much God wants to do through each of our broken vessels.