Saturday, June 21, 2008

Time With Mentors

I have been blessed over and over again in my life with a plethora of incredible mentors. These men and women are a diverse group who have formed me into the image of Jesus Christ and provided me an example of what it means to be salt and light in this world. Some of these spiritual mentors have no idea of the impact they have made on my life and others have been intentional about taking me under their wing and teaching me incredible lessons about ministry, marriage, and spirituality.

During my four preaching internships, I have had incredible opportunities to shadow and learn from incredible men who have become peers and friends. I thank God for Prentice Meador, Tim Spivey, Ronnie Norman, and Phil Ware. They all were so gracious to give me their time and energy as I sought to learn what it takes to be a preaching minister in the twenty-first century.

At ACU, several more professors were key participants in my formation. Randy Harris passed along a rare ability to make Scripture come alive in new ways for people in a congregation. David Wray allowed me a glimpse into a man's life who is seeking after spiritual formation in so many ways. As I saw him share his stories of confession, personal devotion, and pastoral care, I saw how a minister must treat a congregation. Jack Reese shared with me a vision for the kingdom that seemed impossible years ago. Charles Siburt taught me how to care for a congregation in times of crisis and conflict. We all want peace, but Charles is a peacemaker, first and foremost. I have so many mentors at ACU that will continue to be my teachers as I enter ministry.

Many ministers have also had a big impact on my development as a minister. Mike Cope, Eddie Sharp, John Siburt, Scott Sager, Doug Peters, Vann Conwell, and all of my internship supervisors have been incredible examples of service in a congregational setting. I appreciate their preaching, but more than that, I appreciate the love they have for their congregations. I am so grateful for the gifts of time and wisdom they have shared with me over the years.

Then, there are the mentors who are closer to my age. Josh Ross, who was once an intern at Highland Oaks while I was in the youth group, is now the preaching minister at the Sycamore View Church of Christ. Josh has always been an incredible friend and mentor who has loved me enough to push me when I needed it most. He saw the spiritual leader in me far before I could sense God's call on my life. I am grateful for his big kingdom vision, his love for his family, and his deep love for the marginalized and oppressed.

I write this post because I have been reminded again this week of how wonderful my mentors are. In the past week, I have shared meals with Lynn Anderson, Rick Atchley, Chris Seidman, and Ray Hardin. What a week it has been! I have been able to ask so many questions and listen to so many stories of God's faithfulness in their lives and ministries. Repeatedly, these men have blessed me with so much advice and many prayers of blessing as I begin my ministry.

For those of you who have lived awhile on your journey of faith with God, share that journey with someone who is beginning their journey like me. You may think your age difference will be a roadblock to community and mentoring, but my life would be so much poorer if others had not poured their lives into mine. I am committed to mentoring others in the future, and all of God's people have a responsibility to share their lives with others. Mentoring is nothing more than poor spiritual beggars sharing their crumbs with other spiritual beggars on the journey of faith! God has given us enough bread to go around. Start spreading the crumbs!

Please comment and tell about someone who has mentored you in your journey of faith!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tiger Woods

He did it again! Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open on an 19-hole playoff today. Even with his knee still recovering from surgery, Tiger was incredible as he earned his fourteenth major championship trophy on his way to Jack Nicklaus's record of 18.

I can still remember the first time I saw Tiger Woods play golf. I was 12 years old when he won his third U.S. Amateur Championship after rolling in a long putt to beat Steve Scott on the 38th hole of their incredible match. Soon after that day, he turned professional and changed the PGA Tour forever. I remember mimicking his fist pumps and even wearing his shirts and hats on the golf course as I sought to emulate my new favorite athlete. At one point, my dream was to become a professional golfer who would challenge all of Tiger's records, but my guess is my golf hopes have dwindled to living vicariously through Tiger's triumphs as I sit on my couch.

This U.S. Open showed a new side of Tiger. While he has certainly not started to inch down the back side of a declining career yet, I saw Tiger struggle more than he ever has before. He double-bogeyed four holes while grimacing after most of his swings during the week. I never imagined Rocco Mediate might have a chance of beating Tiger Woods in an 18-hole playoff, but he certainly looked to have Tiger's number after rolling in three birdies on the back nine today.

Until...Tiger stepped on the 18th tee. The feeling I felt both times Tiger stepped on the 18th tee yesterday and today was indescribable. It's why we watch golf (for those of you honest enough to admit that you love watching golf...hopefully there are a few). Somehow, I knew he was going to make the impossible happen and he did!!

It's fun to follow your favorite players in person and on TV. However, Tiger isn't just one of the best current players. He is one of the best of all-time, and he likely will be the best of all-time. Each time he steps on the course, he rewrites history. It will be so much fun to tell my kids about the rounds I watched him play.

But like my dad, years from now my kids will not be impressed. They will say, "Tiger-who?" just like I say to my dad, "Jack-who?" I guess that's when I'll know my dream for the tour is over. I can't wait!

And a note to my wife who endures my zeal for golf: Thanks for watching (and sleeping on the couch while I watch) golf with me and caring enough to listen to me talk about Tiger. While a 25-hour golf weekend might seem excessive, I assure you that history is being made. And I won't be on the couch again watching Tiger again until...well...a few weeks from now when the British Open begins. I love you!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Taste of Littleton

Last night, Holly and I were given the incredible opportunity to spend time with several kids from the Littleton Church of Christ youth group. This visit was the first time we have been able to meet any members from Littleton since we have accepted the preaching position. In addition, we got to meet the interns who are spending their summer serving the kids of Littleton.

Rick Odell, the youth minister, had asked if I would be willing to meet the group in Abilene on their trip across the country and lead a devotional for them. If these youth group kids are any indication of the entire church (and I have no doubt that they are), God has certainly blessed us with an incredible group of Godly men and women who seeks after God with all of their lives. It was a special night for us to get a taste of our future.

The excitement is building! I was grateful for the chance to pray for the students in the youth group, but I was especially blessed by the words of encouragement and blessing we received from them in return. God used our new friends that we met last night to impart his grace and joy to us. Though it was a small taste of what is to come, we thank God for such a wonderful blessing last night! As I went to bed last night, I could not sleep as I dreamt of the ways God would work in the coming weeks, months, and years! And the amazing thing is that he can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us. The future is bright!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

One of the Joys of My Life

One of the most amazing transformations in my life over the past six years has been my growing love for reading. In high school, I dreaded homework and I certainly was not going to sit down and read a book over the weekend. It is possible that my love for video games got in the way. I received good grades, but no one would have described me as a focused student who loved to learn.

However, as I began my freshman year at ACU as a Christian Ministry major, I developed a new joy for education and reading. Instead of dreading my school work, I could not put down the books. I loved learning more about Scripture and church history. I read books that challenged me to grow spiritually and others that challenged me to dream more about God's intentions for his church.

One of the most exciting benefits of graduation from my master's work is that I get to read the stack of books that have intended to read for a long time. During school I read many good books that I was forced to read. But now, I get to read books that I have chosen to read, which is always an added benefit.

In the future, I plan to suggest certain books for those who might be interested in a good read. Some of the books I get excited about would only be worth reading for those who are admitted "Bible nerds." These are the kinds of books I would never pass along to Holly. But there will be other books that I think others might be very excited about.

Today, I want to suggest two books for your future reading schedule.

The Shack is the first book I would suggest. While many people might think of the Trinity as an antiquated notion without much relevance today, William P. Young authors an incredible story that Eugene Peterson has dubbed the Pilgrim's Progress of our generation. This book is sure to widen your perspective about God and "his" presence in our lives. I would certainly encourage you to pick up this book when you get a chance.

The other book I have recently finished that I would pass along for your reading pleasure is Same Kind of Different As Me. This book weaves the stories of an African-American sharecropper and a white, upper-class art dealer who become close friends because of the impact of one woman in both of their lives. This book has widened my view of God's kingdom.

I hope these books will benefit your lives as you seek to be people who embody the values of the kingdom in your everyday lives. God wants to use each of you for his glory today! As God blesses you, commit to giving him the glory for the ways he shines through your life.

If you have any books that you would suggest for me to add to my future reading list, please let me know.