Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Two weeks ago we made a drive out to Amarillo to celebrate Billy and Melba's (Kayci's grandparents) 60th anniversary. It was a very long trip and a very short celebration, but it was worth every minute of the drive. There were many bright parts of the trip, but the highlight for me was probably the little time I had with my sister-in-law, Amy. Amy lost her first husband to a freak accident over a decade ago. She married Kayci's oldest brother in March of 2002. She understands the pain of grief and loss. Our conversation didn't end with answers to grief, but it did give me courage to continue on the journey of faith.
This past week, David and Malaya have been in Memphis with us. They left this morning after a 9-day stay. It was incredible. David is a brother for life and I consider him a dear friend. It was an honor to stuff his face with some ribs from Rendezvous. Malaya is 10, and she's hilarious. We loved showing them off at church on Sunday.
My little bro comes with his family Thursday night and they'll leave on Sunday. He's going to lead worship this Sunday at SVC.
So, there you have it...the last two weeks of my life...and why I haven't been blogging much recently.
Monday, June 28, 2010
After I teach Tuesday morning, our family is driving to Amarillo for a family reunion with Kayci's side of the family. Two boys in a car for that long...thank you whoever invented the portable DVD player!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
We know the dude walked away sad: maybe he embraced Jesus' challenge and changed his life...maybe he rejected the teaching. Either way, he asks a question and Jesus gives a response that has been messing with people for centuries.
When it comes to spirituality, the guy is concerned about one thing--"eternal life."
Matthew 19:16, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"
The answer Jesus gives the young-rich-guy-with-power has nothing to do with eternal life.
Jesus says, "If you with to enter into life, keep the commandments."
After a brief dialogue about rethinking the commandments, Jesus says, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
Jesus doesn't seem to be too concerned with the original question about "eternal life".
He gives all of his attention and time to "this life".
This is what bugs people. Actually, it can tick them off.
The easist thing to do is to spiritualize the passage. That is, make it all about the heart being right with God. And this way, we can keep "our stuff" out of it.
The other thing to do is to water down the words of Jesus to only address priorities. Again, this way we can keep our stuff out of it.
I don't think the words to "sell everything" are a direct command for everybody, but I also don't want to dismiss the fact that Jesus is pretty passionate about speaking challenging words into cultures of materialism and greed.
But here's where I think we really miss the point of christianity. Sometimes we are too concerned about "eternal life" and not as tuned in to the fact that Jesus is seriously invested in what happens in this life. Our image of God is that we want him to prepare a great place when this world is over, but we want ultimate control over our stuff and time while on this world. This doesn't seem to line up with the story of Jesus in the NT.
Case and point--I think we can talk about heaven easier than we can talk about the activity of God in the here and now.
I taught three classes at Harding Uplift yesterday. I had a few hundred in the first class. I couple of hundred in the second and about a hundred in the third. I began each class with this statement, "I need two people to raise their hands." Immediately, like 20 hands go up before I even told them why I wanted volunteers. Then I said, "I need two people to share with me how God has worked in your life this week at Uplift." Every hand went down and everyone was trying to avoid eye contact with me in fear that I was going to call on them.
I simply wanted to hear testimonies. It wasn't meant as a test.
And...the kids couldn't do it. I had one raise their hand in the first class. After a long period of silence I had two raise their hands in the second class and I finally had one in the third class.
Now, do these kids love Jesus? Absolutely. They were great kids who had a hunger for Jesus. It was evident. But, when it came to articulating what God was doing in their lives, they didn't know how to talk about it.
I've received the same silence with adults both in worship services and in small group settings.
Why is this? I don't know how well we are doing at teaching people how to speak about God in everyday life. When it comes to articulating the activity and movement of God in the here and now, I'm afraid we are often mute on God. We can quickly go the end of times and talk to people about what they will miss if they don't prepare for eternity (and don't get me wrong, this is important) but I think there are people all around us who are eager to experience the abundant life right here...on this earth...where they are walking and sleeping today. I think one of the greatest challenges for Jesus-leaders today is to empower people to speak about God in everyday life. How do we teach this? How do we model this?
Sunday, June 20, 2010
As someone who has been planning worship services for nearly a decade, the question always comes up, "Where do we place announcements this Sunday?"
No doubt that announcements can be beneficial. It's information about "body life" and it can serve in a way to help the body pray and function together.
On the other hand, announcements can easily disrupt a flow. Sometimes announcements are nothing more than reading everything in the bulletin which is already in the hands of everyone in the church.
So here is my question: What should be the function of announcements within the public assembly? What is the best way to inform people of things going on within the life of the church?
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I was talking about how God has chosen to join us in the crossroads and intersections of life and what this means for us. I began sharing the impact this has had on my life in 2010. I told them that on Feb.3rd my sister, Jenny, sent me a text that she was running a fever of 105. We exchanged a few text messages and the last one I received from her, it was actually the last coherent conversation I would have with her, was Jenny telling me that even in her sickness, she was praying for our home to sale and for us to find a great place to live in inner-city Memphis. I told the kids that on February 4th she went into the hospital and was immediately placed in ICU.
One thing I realized in this moment was that if you talk about a sick sister in ICU, you get every one's attention. :)
I talked about this for a few moments and then I said, "On February 22nd, she breathed her last breath."
I never expected what happened next.
Someone yelled out, "We love you Jenny!"
Then, the place started clapping and people began yelling:
"We love you."
"We were praying for you."
"You are loved."
"Our church was praying for you."
I was stunned. Shocked. Frozen.
It was moment in which the grace of God rushed over me.
I'll never forget it.
Malaya was baptized last night at Bammel Rd. As soon as I get pictures, I will post a few.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I'll get back to this picture in a moment.
First, the good news of Jesus spread like wildfire in the 1st century world because it spoke a word into people's emptiness.
Jesus was a magnet for empty people.
So, this bleeding woman approaches Jesus in Mark 5. She's been bleeding for 12 years. According to Leviticus 15, she is unclean and anything she touches becomes unclean. Unclean kept you at a distance from society. There'd be no intimacy with a spouse or lover. No synagogue. No sacrifices. No contact with a priest. Basically, life sucked for you. 7 days of this was bad...try 12 years.
Funny story. A.J. Jacobs (the author of "The Year of Living Biblically") spent 1 year attempting to follow every single command in scripture. Most of the book is absolutely fascinating because he's not a believer, but to follow every command means you have to pray and do other things that connect you with God and it really started to mess with him. There are funny stories like throwing pebbles at people in Central Park because they were breaking the Sabbath and the OT commands people to be stoned for doing it.
One night, Jacobs and his wife got in an argument. The next day he came home from work and he went to sit on the couch and his wife said, "I sat on the couch."
She was fully aware of Jacobs 1-year commitment and she knew that the OT teaches that anything a woman touches while she is bleeding is unclean.
So, Jacobs went to sit in the recliner. Again she said, "I sat there too."
Jacobs attempted to sit in one of the chairs at the kitchen table. Again, "I sat in all of the kitchen chairs."
Jacobs had no where to sit. He ended up having to buy one of those folding camping chairs, which he began taking with him everywhere because as far as he knew, every chair in New York probably had a bleeding-woman who sat in it over the past week.
She knows if she can just touch Jesus' clothes that she'll be healed. So, she begins maneuvering her way through the crowd. Have you ever realized the risk she is taking by doing this? She's in a town in which most people probably know her as the bleeding lady...I mean...she has been bleeding for 12 years. I'm assuming she is veiled to cover up her identity. But anyone she touches is unclean. She touches Jesus and she immediately knows that she has been healed. End of story, right?
No! Jesus then exposes her by asking, "Who touched me?" Jesus asked a question in a public setting that exposes this woman for who she is. Is this a merciful move on the part of Jesus, or not?
The woman gives in and confesses.
Here is where it gets interesting. Jesus could have...and SHOULD have...sent her to the priest. He SHOULD have sent her to the place where she would offer sacrifices to make her right with God and with the synagogue.
But he doesn't.
Jesus skips straight to SHALOM. He goes straight to "peace."
Mark 5:34, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. GO IN PEACE, and be healed of your disease."
The peace that is found in SHALOM is more than Truitt meeting me at the front door when I go to work...holding up his two fingers while saying, "Daddy, PEACE" as a way to say, "Peace out."
Shalom meant wholeness, completeness, harmony, rest, rhythm, etc.
This is what Jesus gives Ms. Bleed-a-Lot.
I preached on "peace" this past Sunday. While preparing this sermon, I felt compelled to take a prayer drive through my city (Memphis) to think and pray about peace.
There are so many things about Memphis to love: pork bbq (yes, Rick Atchley, it actually qualifies as bbq), music, history, culture...a special place of the "King's"--Elvis, MLK, Don & BB.
There are also valid reasons that Memphis has received the reputation it has today.
-We are ranked #2 when it comes to violent crime. Thank you Detroit for surpassing us last year.
-Forbes magazine listed us as one of the top 3 most miserable cities to live in.
-Racism is still rampant.
So, I went on a prayer drive because I was eager for God to speak a word of peace into my life.
My journey took me to Caritas Village.
This is one of my favorite restaurants in town. It is a community set within an impoverished neighborhood that exists to bring hope and change. You can see a bunch of wires to the left of this picture. They are in the shape of a human. If you were to count them you would get the number 147. Two weeks ago, a prayer service was held at Caritas. In the last year, 147 people were murdered in Memphis. The focus of the prayer service was to pray for peace/shalom to come to our city. Passionate prayers were prayed for God to come and end cycles of violence.
From there I went to Hope House.
Hope House is a daycare that serves families who suffer from the AIDS epidemic. To qualify for Hope House, one of your parents must be infected and you have to be under the poverty line. Walking into this place will rip your heart out. You are staring into the eyes of 6 month to 5 yr-olds...1/3 of them were infected from birth...and most of the kids either will lose their parent before they turn 16 or they will die before they turn 16.
Peace? Shalom?Then, I went to Babyland. This picture at the beginning of this post is from Babyland. #1092 means nothing to most of you, but it represents an infant who died in Memphis whose family couldn't afford a burial. So, there is a field in Memphis where these infants are buried. Most of them don't have a name on their grave...they have a number.
There are more than 17,000 infants buried here.
If you want to read about a nurse who knew some of these babies personally, you've got to check out my friend's blog, Callie, who wrote about Babyland. You can check it out here.
One of our zip codes here in Memphis has a higher infant mortality rate than some 3rd World countries. Every 43 hours an infant will die in Memphis...and most of them die of preventable problems like no prenatal care, abuse and malnutrition.
I spent a while praying in this field.
I saw hundreds and thousands of discs with numbers.
I saw a few stones with names.
Here's what gets me...it's Jesus.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
He doesn't bless people who stand for peace or those who love peace or those who pray for peace. He prays specifically over people who MAKE peace.
So, if we are not creating peace among those around us, we are not being true to our baptisms, which enlist us as agents of peace.
The resurrection of Jesus has invited us into God's Shalom...we are called to join in his ongoing work of implementing the wholeness and harmony of peace in this world...here and now.
I'll tell you this, prayer-drives to focus on peace will smack you in the face and challenge your values. Enter such prayers at your own risk. Jesus might just do something to you.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
But we do it.
Remember, stiff-arms are all about creating distance, space, and separation, and we often do this with God...sometimes intentionally...sometimes subtly. I might not be too far off in saying that keeping God at a distance is where we like to hang out and camp.
What so much of spirituality boils down to is this--what are your expectations of God?
High expectations--means you live with the faith that God is very much involved in every day affairs and that He is eager to intervene and intercede in this present world.
Low expectations--means that you believe that God will take care of everything in the end, but that he's not concerned about interceding in every day affairs. One day, he'll make the world right.
Here's the kicker, if you choose to live with high expectations of God, moments will present themselves when you will feel like God has let you down...
...like he has made a wrong turn...
...like he has turned a deaf ear...
...like he has been silent and still.
So, let me give a little advice IF you want to save yourself from ever feeling like God has let you down...live with low expectations of God. Expect him to make things better in the end. But don't expect divine intervention in day-to-day life.
Many people call this "deism". It supposes that God has a plan for the universe, but that divine intervention isn't on his radar or agenda. For years, I thought that deists were crazy. After February of 2010, I've come to see that many times people become deists (even though many people wouldn't admit it) in order to protect God. Some things happen in life, and there's no way to describe it, but that God has his hands off but one day he'll set the world straight.
But, if you choose to live with high expectations of a God who is still eager to participate in a world in which he is deeply concerned about day-to-day life, then know this, there will come moments when we'll be forced to ask, "At what length do I want to keep God?" Because ultimately, the stiff-arm will inevitably become a form of idolatry, which is where many of us are in our prayer lives, because we use God for our purposes, plans, and agendas. And if we keep God at a distance, we can free ourselves from ever feeling like God could let us down again.
Call my faith small if you want, but today it is with hesitation that I choose to live with high expectations, and I have faith that God can do something with that.
What about you, do you have much experience in trying to keep God at a distance? Do you struggle to live with high expectations of God?
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Our staff from SVC hooked up with her for lunch last Tuesday. One of the cool things about hanging out with Kerry is that you get to take a picture with her "I Love Memphis" sign. Below is our team from SVC.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Thanks to the Joe and Chris from the Highpoint Church. These guys do amazing videos. Check them out here.
Eric Cheney, the heart and soul of the tech crew at SVC helped me as well. This dude volunteers at least 15 hours of his week to help us at SVC.
Also, thanks to my dear friend and one of my shepherds, Jim Coleman, the chief jailor at the famous 201 Poplar jail here in Memphis. This guy has a flock of 1,000 staff members and 3,000 inmates and he deeply cares about them all.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
- I want a Suns-Magic NBA finals, but I'm afraid it's going to be Lakers-Celtics. I've got to pull for Nash here. The dude was shooting running 3-pointers with one eye. (It reminded me of myself going one-on-one with Graves) Plus, Nash is who he is because he was formed and shaped as a Maverick. My prediction, Lakers over Celtics in 6.
- There's a good chance Nebraska is going to get an invite to the Big 10. Though it will bring them more money, I don't want them to do it. Nebraska vs Ohio St isn't going to bring the kind of excitement as Nebraska vs OU or UT. Plus, it's hard enough for NU to recruit kids out of Texas...it will be even harder in the Big 10. My prediction, NU stays in the Big XII. Missouri goes to the Big 10. TCU joins the Big XII.
- Could things get any worse for Tiger?
- The Cowboys picked Dez Bryant in the 1st round. I hope he performs so well that Jerry cuts Roy Williams. My prediction for the Cowboys this year: 11-5.
That's all for now.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I'm still 40 years away from turning 70, but it doesn't keep me from thinking about the kind of person I'll be when I'm older. Kayci and I will be celebrating our 49th year of marriage. My kids will be in their 40's and grandkids might be graduating from high school. I'll still be cheering for the Cowboys, Mavs, and Huskers who will have won at least 20 championships between the 3 of them by then. I'd like to still be active in life--engaged in ministries of reconciliation, serving in communities, swinging golf clubs and traveling with my wife. I'll still read books and I'll eagerly be awaiting the 58th season of "24".
But more importantly, I'm writing today to describe the kind of 70-year-old Christ-follower I want to be.
I don't know what the church will look like in 40 years. If I read my generation right, I think the lines between denominations will be very thin. I think more churches will be actively involved in a number of humanitarian efforts...meaning that they will have a voice at the table of world-wide conversations concerning AIDS awareness, value of life, child-slavery, global poverty, education, and women's rights. I think growing churches (when I use the word "growing" I'm not just talking about growth in membership, but growth in mission, vision, and spiritual health) will be tapping into all different forms of social networking and media-aid. Baptism and the Lord's Table will be celebrated regularly as important aspects of the Christian life...not just for salvation but as two practices that keep us rooted in the story that calls us to a radical life of giving ourselves away for the sake of the world. I think the best evangelism will happen in neighborhoods, jobs, and in places where Christ-followers choose to live with intentionality and purpose...and...it won't happen so much with persuasive arguments but with lives that bear the fruit of something to be imitated.
I've been in ministry almost a decade now.
I’ve seen a lot.
I’ve experienced a lot.
One of the great pleasures and challenges as a minister in the western world in the 21st century is that we speak to 5 generations every Sunday. I preach in front of people every Sunday...some of our oldest members remember WWII like yesterday. Some of our younger people who are graduating from high school were born in the early 1990’s. Did you know that High school graduates were born when Saved by the Bell was going off the air? That makes me feel old and I’m still 4 months from turning 30.
Over my decade in ministry I’ve had numerous encounters with older people. In so many ways we stand on the shoulders of the people who have lived lives of faith for decades.
Here’s something I’ve learned, every person is going to come to a point in their life when church practices are going to change. The message of the gospel may not change, but how the gospel is presented and lived out will always change.
I’ve seen many of my “more mature” friends respond to this change in a few different ways:
1) Along for the ride. I’ve seen many of my friends who have adapted to change and have embraced it. In many ways, they are along for the ride. They believe in the essentiality of Jesus being presented as the way, truth and life, but how that confession is lived out can be massaged and tweaked. They are willing to try new methods and surrender to new paradigms in order to see the good news of Christ enter into the crevices of life.
2) Don’t like it, but where else will we go? Some of my more mature friends aren’t big fans of change and for reasons that I’ll never understand. People who suffered during the Great Depression or lived during WWII were taught to hold onto what you have with a deathly grip because life is precious and sacred. These experiences shaped their lives and worldviews. It shaped theology and practices. But one thing is true with some of my friends in this group, they value relationships and loyalty. Though they don’t like changes in worship or in methodology, jumping ship isn’t an option. Some stay and become consistent complainers. Some stay, and even though they don’t like changes, they choose to encourage and edify.
3) Can’t take it. Some of my friends just can’t take it. Changes invade consciences and disrupt concentration. Some leave kicking dust and others leave grieving because they don’t want to, but they need peace, joy, and comfort.
Here are four principles I want to live by when I’m 70:
1) I do not want to be driven by fear. I want to learn to live the central message of Galatians 5 that in Christ we have been set free. I don’t want to be bound by anything but by the resurrection of Jesus. I want to be fearless.
2) I want “mission” to trump all forms of “traditionalism”. Traditions aren’t bad. I know that. But when traditions become sound doctrine things can become toxic. Too many times we want to be part of a church that does Sunday morning right before we are interested in joining in their mission or vision. I don’t want to live that way. I want to join in a faith community because I’m eager to get in on the mission of God in that place.
3) I don't want to care about comfort. Yah, I’m sure that comfort will be a major part of life when I’m 70. I’ll be popping in all kinds of vitamins and pills. I’ll probably invest in a comfortable recliner so that I can kick my feet up. But when it comes to the local church, I don’t want comfort to be the key to a joyful existence with others brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope to be at a place where I’m eager to join in daring, creative, adventurous attempts to present Jesus to everyone in every way.
4) I want to be an encourager to help people dream with God...especially for young ministers. I don't want to confine future leaders by relentlessly asking them to massage the church of my past. By then, I want to be fully able to let go of the church of my upbringing and to help the generations under me to dream with God of what the gospel needs to look like to reach the people of the 2nd half of the 21st century. If it means that I need to sing songs that just don’t do it for me, I want to sing them with passion. If it means that I need to serve in a soup kitchen full of prostitutes and drug addicts, I want to be at the table. If that means that I need to dye my hair blue to reach some kids, I want to do it. But if it means that I have to wear a Yankee jersey…now that’s just crossing the line. I want the spirit of Paul to be in me, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.”
You might think it is crazy that I’m writing about being 70, but I want to set in motion some principles and disciplines that will form me into a person who thinks, lives, and breathes the gospel story of Jesus. Plus, when I’m 70, someone will find this blog in my archive and hold me accountable. I better be ready.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
I called you this morning at 7:25am. I'm glad you were awake. You and I usually have a lot to talk about. But this morning, I didn't know what to say. I remember sitting in the hallway of the hospital with you during the 18-day fight for Jenny's life. As we sat their weeping, you lifted up a prayer expressing to God that it was 31 years ago that your life began.
For 31 years you have laid your life down for your 3 kids. You have been a discipler, nurturer and companion. Your 3 kids adore Jesus because you showed us a way of life that is absolutely thrilling. You made Jesus fun and adventurous!
Today, you grieve. For the first time in over 3 decades, you won't hear the voice of your oldest child on mother's day. I'm sorry. I wish I could be in Decatur with you. But know this, Jenny adored you.
You are loved in Memphis today!
Monday, May 3, 2010
I had the privilege of talking with my buddy Eric yesterday morning before he was baptized. Eric is 13 years old and he is a die-hard Memphis Tigers fan. The kid bleeds blue.
So he stood with me in front of a few hundred people and I told him how proud I was of him. I bragged on his family for a minute, and then I told him that baptism means something. It calls us to a way of life. I told him that our baptisms mean that we have to love University of Tennessee fans and that we have to pray for them...and not just for them to lose. At that point, I think he almost backed out, but he went ahead and went through with it. When asked about it later on during the day, Eric told everyone that I was joking. HA!
Here's the link.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
1) Disease and epidemics were taking children at very young ages.
2) The idea of original sin was widespread. The teaching was that children were born with sin. They were born separated from God.
So, in a culture where people were taught that children were born as sinful creatures and infant mortality rates were off the charts, it becomes fairly easy to see how people could come to the conclusion that infant baptism would be necessary. People wanted to make sure their kids were saved. Plus, they had the Jewish tradition of circumcision on their side where infants would enter into divine-covenants when they were 8 days old.
Infant baptism quickly became more than a spiritual covenant. It had significant political undertones. At the baptism, the infant also became a citizen of the empire. Ultimately, you became a child of God and a listed soldier at the same time.
For over a 1,000 years in the western world, people were not immersed in baptism as believing adults.
This all changed in 1525.
The Printing Press changed the cultural landscape. People now had the resources to read Scripture with their own eyes. Up until this point, your knowledge of Scripture was primary whatever you heard from the Priest's mouth at church. And a lot of times it was in a different language, so good luck with that one.
A group of people were diving into Scripture and they began to ask, “Church wasn’t intended to include everyone, but only those who really wanted to follow Christ.” They began to question how a baby could join a church if they knew nothing but to cry, eat, and poop? The conclusion was that the only true baptism comes when one is old enough to understand its meaning.
There was one "minor" problem: it was against the law to not have your child baptized as an infant. Remember, infant baptism had spiritual and political connotations.
However, Conrad Grebel and his wife were expecting a child and they decided to not baptize the newborn as an infant. Other families close to them followed their example.
The Zurich City Counsel wasn't very happy about this. Quite frankly, it ticked some people off. So, they handled this civil disobedience like they would anything else: they held a public debate. Conrad (a great name of a revolutionary) and his buddies shared their recent conviction about baptism by immersion as adults, and the other side shared their 1,000-year-heritage of infant baptism.
Then, they voted, and infant baptism won.
Conrad and his friends were commanded to discontinue their "radical" meetings full of nonsense and to baptize their infants within 8 days...OR ELSE!
Conrad and his friends met that night to discuss what they should do. They prayed and they talked. They worried and they prayed. Then, George Blaurock, one of Conrad's friends, made up his mind that not only should they not baptize their infants, but if they believed that the NT teaches that adults should be immersed as the method of baptized, then they should be baptized themselves. So, Conrad baptized George and George baptized all of the adults who were present.
The high-up leaders of the city caught wind of their actions.
They were told to quit with their meetings, but they kept meeting.
They were told to quit with their teachings about baptism, but they kept teaching it and practicing it.
They were told to stop "OR ELSE", but they kept doing it and they were arrested, persecuted and executed.
Conrad and his wife were put to death within a year of their baptisms.
One pretty cool story is about a woman named Elizabeth Dirks. She was arrested because she had become one of the "radicals" who had been baptized as an adult. They began interrogating her with some sick methods. All they wanted was to know who had taught her these radical ideas and who had baptized her, but she was silent. They proceeded with all kinds of Jack-Bauer-like techniques. They drove screws underneath her fingernails, but she remained silent. They drove larger screws into her legs crushing her bones until she fainted. Still silent. (Needless to say, Jack Bauer would have had greater success, right?) When they realized they couldn't get any info from her, they put her in a bag and tossed her into the river.
This dude named Balthasar Hubmaier baptized over 6,000 people in a time when it was illegal to baptize adults. He was burned at the stake and his wife was drowned.
Thousands of adults were baptized and thousands were killed for it. Drowning became the chosen method of execution. It was performed out of sarcasm, "You people want to be immersed as adults...we will immerse you." Then, they would tie them to chairs and toss them in rivers or lakes.
So, here's my question, what does it say about baptism that thousands of people would risk their lives because they believed in it so much?
I don't want to read too much into the actions of the anabaptists (the radicals in this story), but it doesn't seem that they engaged in acts of adult-baptisms just to get to heaven, but they actually believed that the "baptized-life" could transform their "here and now." They seemed to be eager to live in a different story. And...I like that.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Though she never became one of those club members who are sold out to their club while distancing themselves from everyone else, she did thoroughly enjoy her life as a kojie.
She was never much of a intramural player, but she lived for Sing-Song...a big event where social clubs perform on stage and compete against one another. Trust me, if they allowed alumni to join them on stage every year, Jenny would have performed until the day she died.
When Jenny got sick, the Kojies quickly got involved in every way imaginable. They prayed fervously. They recorded songs that they would sing during their devotionals and would send them so Jenny could hear. When they won Sing-Song in February, they gave their money to the family.
Even though many of the current members didn't know Jenny, they have responded to the tragedy of the last two months as if they had known her forever.
Here's where it gets even more cool:
Last night David & Malaya (along with my parents) drove to Abilene because they wanted to thank the Kojies for all of their expressions of love. David also wanted a chance to show Malaya around Abilene. He wanted her to see where Jenny spent a lot of her time.
When it was time to meet with the Kojies they were led by one of the members of the club, Stacy Bryan (a great friend of the family), but when they got to the room where they were supposed to meet, no one was there. So, they went to the "Plan B" place. No one there either.
Then, Stacy led them downstairs to the bowling alley, and there were the Kojies...all of them. They began clapping as they surrounded Malaya. It was a surprise party. They put a hat on her. They dressed her in a Kojie t-shirt. They stuffed their faces with 3 different birthday cakes. They circled around my family and read a letter thanking them for the last couple of months. They gave Malaya a birthday present and then they handed David a fat check...a FAT check. The Kojies had joined with a few others to raise money for the family.
This party went on until midnight. Needless to say, Malaya already wants to be a Kojie and she just turned 10. David is a little concerned that a social club is "rushing" a 10-yr-old. HA!
Thank you, Kojies, for loving my family. Thank you for the many sacrifices you have made...sacrifices that remind us that God is present and near.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
There is joy because Jesus conquered the grave.
There is sorrow because Easter also carries with it the reminder that things need to be resurrected. In my case, it's a sister who died at the young age of 31.
I've never needed an Easter Sunday as bad as I need this one. A step further, I've never needed to preach an Easter sermon as much as I need to preach this one. One more step further, I've never needed to believe the Easter message as much I need to believe this one.
As Christ-followers we get to celebrate the power of the risen Jesus every day. Every facet of our lives are transformed by the death, burial and resurrection. But for me, this doesn't take away the power of the Easter experience. This weekend is a reminder of the spiritual journey which carries us through the different seasons of life.
Friday is terrible. It's full of sorrow and tragedy. All hope seems like it's gone. We experience seasons that feel like Friday.
Saturday is about waiting, anxiety, and doubts. Will Jesus rise like he said he would? We experience seasons that feel like Saturday.
Sunday is about resurrection. There's no better news than that Jesus dealt a deathly blow to the powers of darkness in the world. We lean into Sunday desperate to experience the breath that flows from the lifeless grave.
Thank you God for getting involved in our grief.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Malaya had an assignment at school to complete the statement, "If . . ." Here is Malaya's response (remember, she is 9 years old):
If Imagination Were Real in Different Ways
By Malaya Bizaillion
If angels and spirits could talk . . .
If Mom were here . . .
If clouds were windows and the sun was the entrance to heaven . . .
If no one could leave this earth . . .
If hearts weren't broken . . .
If there were no color . . .
If there were no sin in the world today . . .
If death were defeated . . .
If heaven was earth . . .
If my heart was still full of pride and not broken . . .
If people could keep promises . . .
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I know this—grief sucks! (Forgive me if “sucks” isn’t in your vocabulary)
It has been 20 days since my precious sister lost her fight against sepsis. I would give away all of my possessions just to have 5 minutes with her. I’d do anything to hear her voice, her laughter, and her prayers. She always prayed with a sincere faith. She had the kind of prayer-life that is on display in Acts 4…when Jenny prayed for you, walls would shake. I’m missing her like crazy.
Kayci and I went on a date Friday night. It was the 1st date we’ve been on since Jenny got sick. Before we stuffed our faces with steaks, potatoes and cheese fries, we went to the mall to walk around for a little while. I took a few steps into the mall when memories hit me like a ton of bricks. The last few Christmas’s we have played a game at the mall as a family. My mom gives all 3 of her children and their spouses $50 and then we draw a name. We have 30 minutes to buy gifts for that person. It’s a blast! This past Christmas, Jenny had me.
- If a few steps into the mall bring back memories that make me so weak I want to fall on my knees, you can only imagine what the rest of life is like.
- Christian music is a struggle right now for a couple reasons. One, Jenny loved it. I don’t care what Jeremy Camp song comes on, it reminds me of Jenny because she loved Jeremy Camp. She was so jealous the time I got to hang out with him before and after one of his concerts. Two, some of the theology in Christian music makes me question if some of these artists have ever experienced real life. Some of it is so full of fluff it makes me sick. At this season in my life, the people who speak to my life are those who have experienced deep grief. I want to listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman, Fernando Ortega and U2. I want to hang out with Judy Shockley, Debra Pound and Deborah Hawkins…widows who have lost their husbands over the past year.
- I find myself engaged in American Idol now. Kayci and I have kept up with some of the seasons, but we haven’t been as interested recently. But Jenny loved Idol, so I watch it now.
- Truitt keeps praying for “Jenny and hers chest.” It is precious, but it stings. We try telling Truitt that Jenny doesn’t hurt anymore, but he doesn’t really get it…and it’s ok. He adored Jenny!!!
- I keep having dreams about Jenny. They aren’t bad dreams, they are good dreams, which actually makes it harder. They are dreams of connecting and interacting. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a dream to come true as bad as I do when I wake up from these dreams.
- At times when I hold my two boys, a feeling of sadness comes over me. Truitt and Noah need their aunt Jenny. We’ll do everything we can to keep her story alive, but it’s not the same.
I’m crippled. We, the Ross’ and Biz’s, are crippled. But here’s what we learn about crippled people in Scripture, watch out for the day when crippled people begin to walk and leap.
So, I’ve been preaching a good discipleship game for 8 years. I want to give my life as an instrument God can use to form others into the image of Jesus. But the question I find myself wrestling with right now is this, “What does it mean to be a disciple when you don’t get your way?” I’m living in the tension of this, “How do I continue living as a faithful follower of Jesus when I have a broken heart?” Please don’t try to answer these questions for me. Just let me live in the tension for a while. I need it.
Unable to Escape the Love of God,
Friday, February 26, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
God cried with me today, and that's exactly what I needed from him.
There are only a few people in this world I don't know life without. Jenny had just turned 2 when I was born. With her, there was never sibling rivalry. There was immediate connection. We were siblings who were also friends, or friends who happened to be siblings. The first 16 years of my life she was the protective one and we have a number of stories to prove it. If she didn't like a girl I was dating, she was quick to make life miserable for everyone involved.
At the age of 16, I experienced a dramatic conversion about the same time she was settling into college life. The roles reversed and I immediately became the protective brother the first time she used the word "marriage". It was like she had dropped the f-bomb or something.
I was offended by it.
It made me nauseated.
And I decided to do something about it.
From 3 hours away I would closely monitor her love-life. I was only 17, but I was confident that I could take out some punk-kid from ACU who tried to make a move on Jenny. After all, Jonathan and I watched Monday Night Raw every week and I'd seen Karate Kid like 5 times.
She contacted us one night to tell us that she was bringing a boy home to meet the family and I was determined not to like him. I wore the tightest shirt I could find and I did bicep curls before "the moment" arrived just to add to the intimidation factor. This guy (David, her husband) walked into the room. My arms were crossed and I was ready to regulate when his first words were, "Hey Josh, I hear you're a pretty good football player." If he would have started with, "Hey Josh, I'm David," I probably would have refused the handshake and had given him the eye, but when he started in with a compliment, I gave in. He's been part of the fam ever since and I couldn't ask for a better brother-in-law.
Over the past 13 days, 29 years of memories have flooded my memory. I've heard about the transforming power of ICU waiting rooms...I've sat in a number of them in my 8-9 years of ministry...but it's been different this time.
I arrived in ICU on Friday, February 5th, about 2:30pm. Even though I knew the seriousness of the sickness, I had no clue what I was walking in to. To see my 31-year-old sister lying in a hospital bed was one of the most helpless feelings I have ever experienced in my life. I wanted to pull the tubes out and take her to a mexican food joint or something. But I couldn't. All I could do was stand there by a bed praying and crying.
Waiting rooms force you to ask questions that you don't ask in the real world.
I've wrestled with the activity of God and spiritual warfare before, but it takes on a new meaning in a place like this.
I attempt to pray through the beattitudes in Matthew 5 regularly...words from Jesus that include "blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted"...but they spoke into my soul in a different way this time.
I preach on the power of community quite often, but now I've felt its power like never before.
I'm a changed man because of this brutal illness in Jenny, and I trust in God that that is a good thing.
For a number of days I've prayed to God for healing and power. I have joined with thousands of people, hundreds of churches, and prayer warriors in every continent (except Antarctica) who have prayed for God's healing power to do something miraculous in Jenny. We have experienced miracles that the doctors cannot explain. In fact, this morning, one doctor shook his head and said, "I'm beginning to believe in things I've never believed in before."
But today, though we continue to pray for God's power to be unleashed, I needed something different from God. I needed God to cry with me, and he did.
Some people think that God doesn't cry because he doesn't have any emotions. This just doesn't sound like the God who hung out in the Judean countryside.
I think some people take Revelation 21:4 and form their image of God from there--"he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away."
So, there won't be any tears in heaven because their won't be any pain. But if that's the reason you think that God doesn't get emotion, then you serve a God who stands at a distance and that can be dangerous to your spiritual journey.
I look around this waiting room and I see a place that has been bathed in tears. We have cried on chairs, against walls, leaning on coke machines, and standing in circles while praying. And, God has joined us here.
I wonder if Matthew concluded his gospel while writing during a time of grief. Persecution was breaking out and he felt compelled to declare that our story is one where Jesus is present with people. He abides. He hangs out. He enters into pain. He cries with us.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
A few thoughts before I go to bed. I can't believe it has been 4 days. I don't know life without my sister. From the moment I was born she has been a nurturer and a dear friend. We just clicked from day 1. Watching her lying in a hospital bed just blows my mind and I find myself waiting for someone to pinch me so that I can wake up from this dream.
I really missed not being with Sycamore View this morning because I know God did some pretty cool things. But I feel the love from my church family. I have received so many text messages that I have had to delete my inbox twice because it is full. I have received so many emails that it will take hours to work through them. I have received numerous voicemails that leave me in tears because of how much we are loved. I am not able to return all of the messages, so please don't think I'm ignoring you. Our Life Group called tonight after the 3rd quarter and over speaker phone, they took turns praying over Kayci and me. It left me speechless.
I'm emotionally and physically exhausted. We plan to wake up tomorrow and to put one foot in front of the other.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Here's a link and we will try and update it regularly.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Jesus begins with a statement about authority. It is his. He can do with it whatever he wants.
Then, the first command isn't to "Come," but to "Go."
The specific task is this--"Go make disciples!" It's not optional. It's like the 10 Commandments. The call isn't to go build churches or to baptize. The call is to make disciples.
"Making Disciples" is the direct object of The Great Commission...meaning that everything in The Great Commission is about disciple-making. We "Go" to make disciples. We baptize to make disciples. We teach to make disciples.
So here are the big questions:
-What is a disciple?
-Where do we make them?
-How do we make them?
-What inhibits discipleship?
Our staff sat in a living room a few months ago for a planning session. I wrote these questions on the top of a white board and then we went after it. Everyone was firing answers and I was writing them down.
Here's what is intersting--there were very few comments/answers that had anything to do with events that take place at the church building. It was all relational. Sure there are aspects of discipleship that take place in worship services and bible classes, but so much of it pointed to the streets, highways and byways. Now, notice where/when/how Jesus taught his disciples. Rarely was it in the synagogue or Temple. It was almost always outside "religious" space. What does this mean for the church?
A disciple was more than a student.
A disciple wasn't just interested in knowing what their rabbi knew.
A disciple was someone who wanted to live like their rabbi lived.
This was a commitment to a way of life.
Here is something that inhibits discipleship and disciple-making: conversion-driven methods of sharing the gospel VS. disciple-making methods of sharing the gospel.
Think about it:
Did you know that there are some professors in Colleges of Business who watch Billy Graham sermons to teach their students how to make a sell? He's a master at it. Graham will be preaching in huge arenas or stadiums with thousands of people and he'll give a 15-20 minute long altar call. He'll say things like:
"Those of you sitting up there, I measured it off and it will take you 11 minutes to make it down front so you need to start moving."
"Those of you in this section right over here, there are people clinging to the chair in front of you. You need to let go and come on down."
We've seen this in Gospel Meetings and Revivals, right?
Quite honestly, here's been our interpretation of the Great Commission, "Go into the world and baptize people, and if disciples come from it...great. If not, then at least we've done what we could do to secure their eternal salvation."
That's not what Jesus had in mind.
Our baptisms are supposed to mean something. They're supposed to usher us into a new life.
I have people tell me all the time that they weren't baptized because they wanted to, but because they were scared to death not too. Sound familiar?
There has got to be a place for this question, "Why do you not want to be baptized?" The Bible is very clear about the promises and gifts of baptism.
But I think we need to begin asking this question more, "Are you sure you want to be baptized? Do you know what you're signing on to? This is more than status change. This is more than a belief system. This is more than a ticket to get into heaven. This is a commitment to live differently."
To take The Great Commission seriously means that we need to be just as interested in people after their baptism as we are before their baptism.
Discipleship is a lifelong journey of transformation. We never arrive. We never make it. But it is the call of Jesus--"Become one of my followers and reproduce this way of life."
Let's live in a way that people notice a difference in us and say, "Look, there is something different about you. Something is inside of you and I want in on it."
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
He was a two-sport star at the University of Oklahoma and was drafted in the second round of the 1996 NBA draft by the 76ers, but he chose to pursue a career in baseball. He was selected in the 33rd round of the MLB Amateur Draft. Minor would go on to play in 142 games in his short 5 year career. His career achievements were nothing to brag about: .177 career batting avg, 5 career homeruns, 27 rbi's, and he struck out 97 times out of 342 career at bats. But, Ryan Minor will always be remembered by Baltimore Oriole fans. In 1998, he was the backup 3rd baseman. Cal Ripken Jr. had already made his move from shortstop to 3rd base, which meant Minor would be one of those "10-run-players"--you only play if you're up by 10 or down by 10. On September 20, 1998, after starting in every game for 16 years, Ripken decided it was time for a day off. I wish I could have sat in on the conversation as the manager walked over to Ryan Minor and said, "Hey Stud, you got the start today. Go get'em Tiger."
If I'm Minor, I'm thinking to myself, "Who am I to replace a legend in the starting line-up? All these fans have been coming to the park for 16 years to watch Ripken field balls, toss double plays, and step into the box 4-5 times a game."
Now, imagine the disciples in Matthew 28. Who are they to carry on the mission of Jesus? All authority "in heaven AND on earth" was given to Jesus. It is his. Which means he can do with it whatever he wants to do. And here's what Jesus chose to do, "I'm going to entrust MY STORY to a bunch of non-professionals." It would never work, right?
After Jesus' words about authority, he gives a command, "GO!"
This is where we confuse the essence of The Great Commission.
Last Saturday night Kayci and I were driving to the Foreman's house to watch the Memphis Tigers and to play a little Rock Band. On the way there, I couldn't help but notice church after church that had something like this on their church sign:
"Come join us"
"Come be a part of our family"
"Come worship with us"
Jesus' words were to "Go into the world." He didn't say, "Build yourself some nice, attractional buildings and invite people inside." His words were to "March after the people of the world with purpose and intentionality."
We were driving through Waco back in December and we passed a church on I-35. A huge banner hung from the church and it read, "30 Minute Worship Services".
Interesting. That is how they were marketing themselves--"Come join us and we'll have you in and out in 30 minutes. If the sermon goes long, we'll bag up your communion and you can have it on your way home."
A church can have a building that is attractional and still get this command of The Great Commission. It doesn't have to be complete abandonment of property, but there does need to be a clear understanding that we (the church) are always functioning at our best when our backs are to the church building. We are marching from the places where we gather in order to live as tangible representatives of Jesus.
What would happen if we put the following message on our church signs:
"We are coming to you"
"Don't come to our church because we're rarely at the building. We hope to connect with you during the week"
Would it work?
Monday, January 25, 2010
Most of the time when we quote The Great Commission we begin with, "Go into the world..." but those aren't the first words from Jesus. He begins with this, "All authority in heaven AND on earth has been given to me." Jesus wants to make heaven great for us, but he also wants to make earth great. He's not just building palaces and mansions in the sky-by-and-by. He's at work to redeem the world.
If you're like me, the process of fulfilling The Great Commission has sometimes consisted of teaching people about a belief system and then baptizing them. It's been about knowledge and information. I think Jesus had more in mind.
How cool is it that after receiving authority over heaven and earth, Jesus would choose to empower disciples to carry his message throughout the world? He could have chosen to assemble a committee, but he would have had to stay on earth another 4 years because we all know how committees work. He could have gone house to house on his own...showing his scars and convincing people of his existence. But he chose a different route. He chose to hand this message to us.
We are called to live in a way that we honor the responsibility given to us by Jesus. Over the next few posts, I want to talk more about these final words of Jesus.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This was essential for disciples. Following a rabbi wasn't the only thing that made you a disciple. Just as important was who you were following a rabbi with.
A haver (pronounced "hah-vair") literally means a friend. This wasn't just any kind of friend. A haver was a friend who would help you master the text. These were co-disciples who would help each other grapple with Scripture and interpret it in light of the surrounding culture.
This is hard to grasp for westerners, because we have been taught the practice of solitude, silence, personal relationship with God...and seeking Jesus is something that takes place in quiet rooms; not in small groups. Personal prayer and Bible study has been taught as the primary methods to develop spiritually. We attend Bible classes and small group studies, but it is still very individualistic...and you know what, God has still worked.
But Jesus seems to teach, just like other rabbis of his day, that God's presence resides in the presence of small groups determined to seek Jesus just as much as he resides in the personal closets of intimate prayer and study.
Years ago, I was told by an elder of a church that there was no need for accountability because we are only accountable to Scripture. Interesting. I couldn't disagree more.
We need people who can ask the big questions with us. We need fellow Christ-followers can help us as we interpret Scripture in the 21st century. I need people who will kick me in my tail when I'm mistreating the gospel and hold up my hands when I'm passionately pursuing the things of God.
There was a time in my faith walk where everything was very private and personal. I didn't see the need for community, but the more I read Scripture, the more I saw another way...a better way.
Now, I can't imagine myself without havers.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Jerry Jones isn't going anywhere. The dude has money, power, and the 8th wonder of the world.
Wade looked defeated long before the game was over.
Romo was the Romo of December. He was running for his life like McCoy when he was running from the Huskers. (I just had to throw that one in there)
The defense didn't play that bad. The offense put them in some awful situations.
Do they fire Wade and go after Cowher?
Do they give Jason Garrett a shot?
Do they keep Wade and give it another year?
Props to Favre. I think he retired during the 1st quarter and decided to come back 7 minutes later. The dude is 40 but he can still play.
I did think it was classless that the Vikings would go for it two times on fourth down when the game was already out of hand. If I were Brooking, I would have taken a 15-yard penalty and a possible fine and I would have put my helmet in Favre's chest before he made it to the sideline. The "D" still has to stop a team even if it is bad sportsmanship, but they have felt it.
Too many questions at this point. But, I'm a fan and I'll remain faithful.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
On a more serious note, Randy has the gift of celibacy and he laughs at the fact that people come to him for premarital counseling. He jokes that his premarital counseling consists of one meeting and one word, "Don't!!!" Randy jokes about his one-word counseling sessions, but there are others who are promoting this message, especially when it comes to celebrities and high-profiled athletes like Derek Jeter. I'll get to that in a minute.
Kayci was on a flight to see one of her best friends in California a few years ago. She was sitting next to a guy and he noticed the ring on her finger.
He said, "Are you married?"
She said, "Yes, I am."
"How old are you?"
"Oh...so this is your starter marriage."
"Ya. In California there is a starter marriage that's only supposed to last a few years. Then, after you've gained a little bit of experience, you enter into a longer marriage."
Kayci said, "Actually, I'm in this one for the long haul."
And the conversation was basically over after that.
Check out this column by Robert Lusetich who writes for Fox Sports regarding Derek Jeter's engagement to Minka Kelly.
Is Derek Jeter really ready to settle down?
The New York Post is reporting that the Yankees captain is prepared to walk down the aisle with girlfriend Minka Kelly come November. I’m not saying he shouldn’t — at 35, maybe it’s time to tie the knot and start a family. What I am saying is that marriage will require what we’ll call a "change of lifestyle."
Jeter spent a lot of time over the past couple of years with Tiger Woods, and I’m guessing they shared mutual interests. Rachel Uchitel, the attention-seeker whose loose collagen-enhanced lips helped ruin Woods’ life, claims that she was one of those mutual interests.
The only reason Jeter has been spared the Inquisition that devastated the Tiger Woods brand was simply that, unlike Tiger, Derek was single — and therefore held to a different standard. So what if he was using the Victoria’s Secret catalogue as his little black book? Indeed, there’s many a man who’d give him a standing ovation.
But be sure, Derek, that if there’s a wedding ring on your finger, your every move will be watched. Don’t think for a second that the predatory New York tabloids won’t be keeping a very keen eye on your nocturnal habits.
If there’s one record in sports Jeter doesn’t want to break it’s the one recently set by Tiger: 20 straight days on the front page of the Post.
OK. Part of the article had a place where you could vote and answer the following question, "Should Derek Jeter get married?"
The three choices were:
A) Yes, he's played the field long enough.
B) No, he should wait 5 to 10 years
C) Never burn that black book...never
Over 52,000 voted and the results were:
A quick side note, I admire Jeter's baseball skills. The dude is the epitome of an all-star shortstop. Though I hate the Yanks with a passion, I have a ton of respect for this guy. And Minka Kelly has become a favorite of ours because of her role as Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights.
Back to the topic of discussion. Needless to say, the expectations of marriage aren't very high anymore. The greatest threat to marriage in our world is not same-sex marriage. The greatest threat to marriages in our world are poor expecations, the inablility and unwillingness to enter into a covenant, cheap thrills of gratification through porn or inappropriate relationships. Too many people who live under microscopes like athletes, actors, and even ministers, too often begin to believe that they are above standards and the norm. They begin to think that they are worth the money they're paid and the praise they receive. Such power seems to always lead to destruction...the Bible bears witness to that.
So, I could go on complaining about articles like this, or I could go home and commit to loving my wife in a way that our marriage becomes an example worth modeling.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Simplicity is going to be a word that drives me and my family this year. Kayci and I had a good conversation about this recently concerning what it might look like for our family.
I'm passionate about a simpler way of living because life becomes too complicated because we often make decisions that lead to chaos...not peace and joy. This is true for:
-Individuals (we over-commit and use poor methods to establish priorities)
-Families (allow the kids to sign-up for too many things and watch too much tv instead of sitting down at tables)
-Churches (think that adding more programs and ministries is what it means to be involved)
Kayci and I have decided that we want to have more fun in 2010. Sounds simple because it is.
I'm going to assemble a community of friends who help me make decisions concerning my schedule. I need this accountability because I can easily allow my schedule to get out of control.
Personally, I am not going to allow my closet to get any bigger. If I get a new shirt, new pants, or new shoes, that means that a piece of clothing has to go. Last week, I turned every hanger in my closet around. Whatever hanger has not been moved by the end of April will have to go. If I'm not wearing it, someone else should.
As a family, we're going to begin a discipline in an attempt to become better stewards. Every piece of clothing we by for the 4 of us or any item we purchase for our house (not including food), we will match whatever we spend, penny-for-penny, and that money will go to a greater cause such as Touch-A-Life, IJM, or other acts of service.
The "simple life" sounds good, but it sure can make life complicated. :)
Check this out by Donald Miller.