Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Your Kingdom Come

My senior year of high school I took a job at Cici's Pizza. I was the cutter. I took this job because Mike Tolleson, the owner, was a dear friend of mine and he had converted all 5 of his managers to Jesus. Cici's was more than a place that served up pizza...it had become a place of authentic ministry.
Bruce Archer, one of those managers, felt the call into full-time ministry a few years back. Check out this video. The Kingdom of God is still being unleashed throughout this world. Please pray for this ministry!

Monday, March 30, 2009


The Tulsa Workshop was a hit this past weekend. I haven't been since 2001 and this time I was honored to speak a few times. The audience was great. People come to Tulsa hungry and excited to enter into powerful worship and to receive some words from Jesus. Terry Rush has my deepest respect as a guy who truly knows how to love people.
We broke a fast last Wednesday night at SVC, so I wasn't able to leave for Tulsa until 8:00pm. I arrived Thursday morning at 2:30, watched ESPN for 30 minutes, and slept for a few hours before waking up to speak. I drove because there wasn't a flight that left after 8:00 from Memphis. I made some enemies yesterday morning at SVC because I made this statement:
"I came back from Tulsa with a new evangelistic strategy. If churches were to adopt this strategy, their churches would double in two weeks. Here it is--If you don't know Jesus you will go to hell and hell is going to be like a long drive through Arkansas at midnight."
My Mavs were up on the Cavs by 15 yesterday in the 2nd quarter. They lost by 30 and they only scored 25 total points in the 2nd half.
On the other hand, Tiger proved that he is not human again yesterday. That was amazing!
Lastly, I went 3 full days without seeing my wife and son. Seeing them yesterday was better than Christmas morning. Today, I am resting with the fam.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jesus Weeps

When we think of Jesus weeping our minds immediately go to John 11:35. Lazarus dies, his family is distraught, and Jesus weeps.

There is another scene in the life of Jesus portraying his emotional side.

The Triumphal Entry is not what you'd expect.
Kings ride on stallions and in chariots. They wear crowns and robes. They stand over people.

Jesus rode into town on a colt.

Kings ride into cities, stand on platforms, stretch out their arms, and say, "I am somebody."

Jesus rides a colt into Jerusalem, gets off the colt, and he weeps.

We'd never expect this.

Luke 19:41, “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it”

Over the past few weeks this verse will not let me go. Jesus came into Jerusalem having received a warm welcome from those who loved him and the first thing he does when he gets into the city…HE WEEPS.
This is more than a lump in the throat that comes from watching a chick-flick. (So I hear. I wouldn't know from personal experience. :))
This is more than the tears that slowly work themselves down the cheeks during Special Olympics commercials or a high school graduation.

This weeping means that His heart was moved to a point of brokenness.

Jerusalem was a successful city. It was the vacation-spot of the Judean countryside. Buildings were mesmerizing, and to cap it off, there was the Temple—the anointed place they had been working on over 45 years. King Herod was one of the greatest architects this world has ever known. Architects of the 21st century are still baffled by how they were able to build the way they did. It was utterly fascinating.

There was so much to enjoy in Jerusalem. You walked into the city with a sense of awe, like driving into Yellowstone or Washington DC.

But Jesus wept over the city, because Jesus sees through buildings, and he saw all forms of injustice and oppression. He saw a system that was crippling people…a system that was stripping them of the image of God that was in them from their birth.

This wasn’t pity.

In the movie Hotel Rwanda, there is the scene of an American journalist who went into the streets of Rwanda to capture horrific images of the genocide that took over 1,000,000 lives in 3 months. He came back with footage and he said, “Look, if we can put this on the news all of powers of the West will see this atrocity for what it really is and they will quickly come and help us.” The Hotel Manager, played by Don Cheadle responded, “No they won’t. They will see the footage and feel pity. And then they will turn around and finish their meal.”

Here’s the unfathomable love of Jesus. He wept over a city and then he died for it so that it could live. His weeping was followed by the cleansing of the Temple, but more than that, his weeping was the embodiment of the compassion of God. “I cry over all of the injustice, brokenness, and misery that is right before my eyes…and now I am going to take this to the cross to redeem it.”

In this moment, Jesus wept for humanity, especially those living in Jerusalem.

The question that has haunted me for days is this, “What happens when we learn to weep over a city like Jesus wept over Jerusalem, only to then lay our lives and resources down for a city in order to redeem it?”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Peace in the midst of Chaos

That is all I have today.
We serve a God who delivers peace...who becomes peace...in the midst of chaos and unrest.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March Madness and Idol

It is that time again.
I refuse to go with all #1 seeds, so here is my elite 8 match-ups:

Louisville vs West Virginia
UConn vs Memphis
Pitt vs Villanova
Gonzaga vs Syracuse

Here's Obama's bracket

As for the other tournament, here's how "I" rank Idol:
Lil Rounds (she has Mary J potential)
Danny Gokey (dude's for real)
Matt Giraud
Kris Allen
Alexis Grace
Allison Iraheta
Michael Sarver
Megan Corkrey
Scott Macintyre
Anoop Desai
Adam Lambert (quit looking into the camera like that)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Three Worship Services in One Day

Yesterday was a great day for me. I went to sleep last night so full of God I was about to burst.

My day began at SVC. I had accepted another speaking engagement here in town yesterday, but the worship center at that church didn't begin until 10:30. I showed up at SVC around 7:15 in order to take time to pray for God's anointing upon the people of SVC. I had invited my good friend Jerry Taylor to preach yesterday and he lit the place up. As usual, God was mighty through him. I've had some great preachers fill in for me, but the hardest Sunday to preach is the Sunday after Jerry has been at my church. The Spirit of God flowed through him leading us to a deeper trust in God. I was tempted to get his notes and preach his sermon at my speaking gig at 10:30. :)

I quickly jumped in my truck and drove to Grace Crossing. My good friend Josh Patrick had invited me to come speak and I quickly accepted. Josh is a great minister/pastor. Every time I am with him I leave with a clearer understanding of Jesus' character and mission in this world. He makes me want to be a better follow of Jesus. I spoke from Luke 5 about radical discipleship. The worship was powerful, but more than that, I was encouraged by a few risks they are taking as a church in order to join God in acts of liberation and justice in the surrounding community.

After eating lunch with a few friends who attend Grace Crossing, I jumped in my truck and went to the best worship service I have attended in a long time. My friend Esther Rush had invited me to a Kairos celebration. I have been in county jails and federal prisons for men, but this was first time to enter into a federal prison for women. Kairos is a ministry that sends people into prisons for an intense 3-4 period of discovering God's amazing love. For an hour and half, I heard testimony after testimony of God's faithfulness.
One woman stood and said, "This weekend I opened up my heart to let God come inside again. Then, I closed the door so that He won't be able to leave." We applauded!
Another woman stood testifying, "I didn't want to come to Kairos, but I had a friend who talked me into it. After the first night, I went back to my cell. I wanted to lash out at my roommate for something, but I couldn't. It was like my lips were sealed shut. The next morning, I walked into the room with all of these women and I wondered why they were here loving me and giving me hugs. I haven't had many people who have shown me love throughout my life. After a couple of days, I was back in my cell and I heard a curse word and my stomach began churning. Then, I heard another curse word and again, there was a churning. I thought to myself, "O Lord, what have you done to me?" At that point, we all stood on our feet cheering. God had truly broken into her life.

Today, I'm enjoying a Sabbath Rest...reflecting on God's presence and power that surrounded me yesterday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human...It is not surprising that compassion, understood as suffering with, often evokes in us a deep resistance and even protest. We are inclined to say, "This is self-flagellation, this is masochism, this is a morbid interest in pain, this is a sick desire." It is important for us to acknowledge this resistance and to recognize that suffering is not something we desire or to which we are attracted. On the contrary, it is something we want to avoid at all cost. Therefore, compassion is not among our most natural responses. We are pain-avoiders and we consider anyone who feels attracted to suffering abnormal, or at least very unusual.
(By Henri Nouwen)
Henri Nouwen is one of those guys who expresses himself with words, images, and metaphors in ways that draw me into the center of the heart of God. He offers nuggets of wisdom that make me sit and chew on the fact that God is near.
His book Show Me the Way is a devotional book filled with readings to guide people through the Lenten season. Though each day contains about one-page of material, it is all I can take. It is that rich!
I began observing the season of Lent in 2002, the spring before Kayci and I were married. When Church of Christ folks think about Lent, we usually reach for our pockets or book cases. However, for many people, Lent is a season where we wrestle with the tension between winter and spring, anticipating the power and presence of the resurrection; a new season of life. For me, Easter has become my New Year. Yes, I celebrate and participate in the resurrection of Jesus every day, but there is something about Easter Sunday that launches me into the rest of year.
It is funny, I have people who come up to me at church whispering, "Josh, I don't know if you observe Lent, but I just wanted you to know that I gave up chocolate...tv...cokes...coffee...college basketball...in order to focus more on prayer as we lead up to Easter Sunday." I whisper back, "I'm with you."
For those of you fasting and praying through this season, may the mercy of God be upon you in transforming ways.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Should You Read the Bible?

I found this to be a great read.
David Plotz decided to read the entire Bible and he found it to be absolutely fascinating. He entered into this journey as an agnostic, and he concluded the journey as an agnostic. But he loves the Bible.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ballgame vs. Wife

Here is a snippet of an article I'm writing for a magazine here in Tennessee. Have you experienced anything similar to this?

It has happened more than once: a ballgame has intricately lured me into a oneness with a sporting event taking place hundreds of miles away, when my wife, Kayci, decides to converse with me about an important matter. I’m too involved in the game to push pause on the DVR, but I’m also hesitant to tell my wife that she isn’t important right now. So, I attempt to do the one thing this moment can’t afford—I multi-task. It is one thing to talk on the cell while driving or listen to the ipod while jogging, but it is another thing to allow the emotions of a game to coincide with a conversation with my wife.

Kayci is far from ignorant. She has the intuition to know when I am really listening. The occasional “um…um” and emphatic “really” don’t fool her. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for her to gently say, “I need you to listen to me with your eyes.” In other words, it is time for me to put the game on pause and to be fully present in the moment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"You Have No Need For God"

When friends of mine were in Kenya, they met a Kenyan pastor named John. When this pastor visited the US, his first stop was their home. While standing in the kitchen, Pastor John asked what several things were and what they did. My friend Deb pointed out the uses of the microwave, oven, and dishwasher. As Pastor John stood looking at all of these appliances, he said to her, "You have no need for God."
(From The God of Intimacy and Action)

I don't always know what to do with these stories.
I'm usually not overwhelmed with guilt. But I am drawn to inward-reflection. These stories force me to ask questions about simplicity, priorities, and accumulation.
What about you?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sports Talk

It's been a while since I just chatted sports. Here you go:

Most dominant players of the past decade:
Basketball--Kobe Bryant (Shaq would be 2nd. Lebron hasn't been around long enough)
Baseball--Barry Bonds (with or without roids, the dude was feared. A-Rod would be 2nd, but he chokes in clutch situations)
College Football--Vince Young
Golf--Tiger (if you think someone else, you need serious help)

Least favorite player of the past decade:
Basketball--(Honestly, I just don't have one)
Baseball--A-Roid (who else did you think I'd choose)
Football--Ben Roethlisberger (don't know why; just don't like him)
College Football--Maurice Clarett (I do feel a little sorry for him)
Golf--Rory Sabbatini (dude, don't talk smack to Tiger two weeks in a row...on the other hand, do it so that we can watch him beat you down two weeks in a row)

My Favorite Teams:
Basketball--Dallas Mavericks
Baseball--Rangers/Astros (Cards are gaining)
Football--Da Boys
College Football--Nebraska Cornhuskers

My Least Favorite Teams:
Basketball--Celtics. Suns aren't too far behind
Football--Giants, Redskins, Eagles (pick one)
College Football--(USC, Notre Dame, and Colorado)


Sunday, March 1, 2009

March in Memphis

It snowed 4-10 inches around Memphis last night. Consequently, we cancelled our Sunday services. The longest day of the week for me has turned into a family day. It is 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon and I don't know what to do with myself. I'm out of my rhythm.
On the other hand, I don't have to write a sermon this week. However, I have a feeling that I'll find plenty of things to do.
Here are a couple of pictures.

Truitt is da man! Guess where Kayci is...um...INSIDE!