Friday, May 29, 2009

"TWILIGHT" is like Crack

This book is like crack cocaine. I haven't read a page, but I woke up last night at 4:30am and Kayci was in the living room reading. She couldn't put the book down. This was the third time over the past two weeks that she has nearly pulled an all-nighter.
What is it about Twilight that is so addicting? Am I missing something?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Living in a World of "Chosen Community"

I chose a peculiar place to write my sermon a few weeks ago on Acts 2.
Rarely do I write my sermons from my church office. My favorite place is The Common Ground, a coffee house not too far from my home. It has become a sanctuary for me...a place where sermon ideas flow.
Occasionally, I try to put myself somewhere in the city where I can read a text on behalf of the people who reside there. I know, for some you this may sound really odd, but it works for me.
When it came to writing my sermon on Acts 2, I chose to set up my office on the campus of the University of Memphis. I parked a mile from the campus and walked by sorority homes, frat houses, and Christian centers. I sat a table next to study groups and coffee-drinking-profs.
This entire time I was reading Acts 2 while praying, "What does this text mean for these people?"
I paused to give thanks for the girl stocking a shelf next to me with a huge butterfly tattoo across her neck as she socialized with everyone within a 15-foot radius of her floor job...asking God to to fill her with His presence and power.
I gave thanks for the couple I saw holding hands on the sidewalk...asking God to keep them pure.
I gave thanks for the young college student who was studying in front of me with papers, books, and notes scattered all over the table, and stress written all over her face...asking God to form her identity.

As I read Acts 2 in this setting, I realized a couple things:
1) Acts 2 isn't just about baptism. It is about the stirring of God that comes upon a group of people who were waiting for the coming Spirit. Then, the message Peter preaches was all about the power of God manifested through Jesus. People were baptized and 3,000 were added to the church. Acts 2:42 becomes the driving force of the rest of Acts, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." The power of this story is not that the 3,000 were baptized but that 3,000 entered into authentic community (Acts 2:42-47). By making that statement, I am not under-emphasizing baptism; if anything, I am elevating it. The baptized community now becomes an authentic community of Christ-followers.
2) This experience taught me that we live in a world of "chosen community". In college we chose are social clubs and our groups and coffee/drinking buddies. We are surrounded by chosen-communities. Look at our churches and neighborhood cookouts.
But something happens in Acts 2, people don't choose community...the Holy Spirit chooses communities. And when the Holy Spirit begins to knit people together...

Sunday, May 24, 2009


My faith tradition celebrates the Lord's Table every Sunday. At some point in our worship service we give thanks for the bread and the cup and we share in a meal together. (Well, actually it is more like a snack--a pinch of bread and a shot of grape juice, but you get what I'm saying.)
Some people prefer the mood to be like a memorial--solemn and quiet as people reflect on the death of Jesus.
Others prefer for it to be more like a celebration--joyful and uplifting as we reflect on the risen Lord.
Some like it quiet...others like a song, inspirational video, or a time for conversation.

It is a meal and people have preferences...just like all meals.

Some in my church would differ on things like:
  • Can you celebrate the Lord's Table Monday-Saturday?
  • Does it have to be unleavened bread?
  • Can a nonbeliever take part in the meal?
Two Sunday's ago while at Greenlawn Church of Christ in Lubbock (Kayci's home church), we were sitting next to Kayci's parents and when it came time for communion, I handed Truitt a pinch of bread. Like any child his age, Truitt saw food and he devoured it.
Kayci and I have no qualms allowing our children to take part in communion. There will be many times over their childhood when we will sit at a table in our home with family or friends and at some point in the meal we will celebrate the Lord's Table. We want our children to experience this moment--the relationships that are formed and the conversations that take place. We want it to be like the Passover was to the Jewish family--highly participatory and heavy on child-involvement.

After Truitt ate "the Lord's snack," he reached his hands out saying, "More! Daddy, More!"

I thought to myself two things:
1) He has it right. "More"--should be the respond.
2) He has no clue what he is really asking of Jesus, but I pray with all my might that he will fully embrace what he is asking for.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jantsen's Gift

I first heard her story through Matt and Mike Cope.
Pam Cope's new book Jantsen's Gift invites you into a story of grief and redemption. She was a stay-at-home-mom in Missouri who was living the American dream, but her world shattered when her son, Jantsen, died at the age of 15. He laid down for a nap after football practice and never woke up. His heart just stopped beating. Jantsen's death sent Pam into a deep depression.
It is out of her story of deep depression that God cultivated within her a dream to rescue suffering, broken, neglected, and abused children. Her story is one of the most inpsiring books I've read.
I laughed. I cried. I prayed. I reflected.
Below is a paragraph that describes how I want to raise Truitt and his little brother (we still haven't decided on a name). Then, there is a video that will usher you into the mission of God.

The concept of a bad day for my kids is when the cable goes out, or there's a not enough milk for their Lucky Charms. I want my kids to know a different life than that; to have a different understanding of what constitutes hardship. The best way for me to do this is to do what I regretted not having done for Jantsen: teach them, through the way I live my life, that the world is not as big as we think and it's my responsibility--and will someday be theirs--to take care of people who need our help, even if those people look nothing like us, or live someplace that seems far away and foreign. I see many of my friends trying to shield their kids from pain and disappointment the way that I did when Jantsen and Crista were young, but I can't continue to do that. I don't want them to be crippled by fear. I want them to take chances and live adventurous lives. I want them to live their dreams, and the best way I can teach them to do that is to let them watch me live mine.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Staying Awake with God

I've written on here before that I never sleep well on Saturday nights. They are nights full of sermon prep, passion, prayers, and the burden of responsibility (a burden that God puts on me and carries with me). Rarely do I go to sleep on a Saturday night without anxiously anticipating the next morning. I just love preaching!
BUT, little did I know that this is true even on vacation.
I couldn't get ministry out of my head last night. I stayed up thinking about future sermons, praying over the vision of SVC and wrestling in prayer for some of my friends in Memphis. I thoroughly enjoyed God last night.
I miss not preaching at SVC, but the Sabbath I have received and the time with Kayci is much needed. I cannot wait to be back in Memphis one week from today to stand up in front of the church and say, "Please open your bibles to Acts 9."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pet Peeves

I've been in crowded places over the last couple of weeks (numerous airports) and Kayci and I have had fun discussing our pet peeves. Here are a few of mine:
  • People who talk on their cell phone so loud that the entire airport can hear them. Seriously, tone it down! The person on the other end can hear you just fine.
  • People who are walking in a crowded area, or down a sidewalk, and then they decide to stop right in front of you. People, it is not hard...just move over to the side because next time I might just run over you!
  • People who have been wearing those ridiculous masks "to prevent" the swine flu. A woman sat next to Kayci on the plane with one of those things on. Kayci and I were proud of ourselves because we held in our laughter for the entire flight.
  • People who fart on a plane. This one is not all! We can't roll windows down. We can't get up and move. Everyone suffers and we're forced to cup our hands over our mouths which doesn't work very well.
  • Loud ice-chompers.
  • When people make turns without using their blinker.
  • People who sit behind third base at a baseball game and think that they have a view to yell at a umpire for calling an apparent "strike" a "ball."

That's it for now. What about you?

Friday, May 8, 2009


Highlights from Pepperdine (in no particular order):
  • Listening to my boy Mike Cope preach tonight. He is a true artist!
  • Listening to Kayci speak on Wednesday. She is extremely gifted.
  • Hanging out with my brother today. He's one of my best friends.
  • Having the opportunity/honor to keynote at the Friday morning lecture. I had a blast and the people were very gracious.
  • Sitting in between Cope and Lynn Anderson before I spoke. Two men who have greatly impacted me.
  • The scenery. Seriously, you don't get much better than the scenery around this place.
  • Getting the phone call that Lucas Graves was born yesterday.
  • All the lunches and dinners with good ministry friends. We hung out the most this week with Brady and Donna Bryce. We even shared a bathroom with them. :)
  • Going to an Angels game with Adrienne (Kayci's "bff"), her husband Nathan, and Eric and Eddie (two of my buddies from Memphis).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Where is God?

The last 5 days have been a whirlwind. After two days of traveling, I have arrived in Lubbock. Kayci and I are off to Malibu tomorrow morning. I've only had time to jump online and publish a few of your comments. I have not had a chance to respond.
When I return, I'd like to take up a few of your questions. The question of "Where is God in the midst of tragedies?" is a great question. People have been asking it for thousands of years.
A few book suggestions:
Philip Yancey (Prayer)
Philip Yancey (Disappointment with God)
Philip Yancey (Where is God When it Hurts?)
William Young (The Shack)

Please pray for Kayci and me this week.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Micah Pate

Please pray for Micah Pate. She is a 25-year-old married woman who went missing last night around 8:30. I was out with friends until 5:00 this morning searching every park and street in her surrounding neighborhood. We are crying out to God to do something here. Please join us.

UPDATE: Micah Pate was found dead tonight around 8:00 by a gunshot wound. We continue to pray.