Thursday, May 27, 2010

Joy & Happiness

I'm curious, what do you see as the difference between "joy" and "happiness"?

Monday, May 24, 2010


Here's a video I shot a few weeks ago for a new series I'm doing called "Unchained." It's now on youtube. It's based on the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22. The Fruit of the Spirit is born out of a context of freedom. It teaches us how to live as free people.
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

Sports Central

Ok, it's been way too long since I've talked sports, so here you go:
  1. 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.
  2. 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 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.
  3. Could things get any worse for Tiger?
  4. 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

When I'm 70

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 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

Happy Mother's Day

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

Backing Out of Baptism...Almost

I haven't written much recently, but I hope to get back into a better rhythm soon. 2010 has been a nice punch in the gut and the motivation and inspiration to write just isn't there.

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.