December 24, 2007

Oh Dear me!

OK, this is going to be blunt and humiliating but I have to come clean. There is never a time or circumstance in my life when I find myself more helpless and crying out, "Oh Dear me!" than when my body is being attacked by some sort of wretched intestinal virus. I was awakened Saturday night (Sunday morning) by my daughter just as she was about to hurl for the first of many times. Then my son followed suit starting @ 2-3am. My poor wife slept on their floor and probably got about 2 hours of sleep. When any of us get sick, she's like Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV.

As of late in my life my immune system has definitely grown stronger. I don't get sinus infections or other garbage like that near as much as I used to. But these stupid viruses have got my number. So naturally yesterday about 2-3pm I felt the cold sweat coming on...I ran upstairs to my bedroom...barely fell on the bed before I almost passed out. The next 12 hours my body felt like someone had shoved me into a toaster and pushed the lever down. All I remember from last night is laying there saying, "God.......please!"

The reason for me sharing all of this is simply to say (at least for me) there is nothing like the hated intestinal stomach virus to remind me that I am a frail, helpless, mortal weenie that at any time can be rendered powerless and paralyzed by something completely invisible. And even in the midst of feeling like a Peterbilt has parked on top of me, God will never give me more than I can handle. Never.

Oh, and also, my wife is much tougher than me.
That's not even remotely humiliating!

December 21, 2007

Just the right time....

Just the other day I got a note from one of my former students. What was so great about it was that it simply said "Thanks". There was much more to it than that, but the essence of the message was "I was thinking about the impact you've had on my life...and I wanted to say "Thank You". And like so often in life, this note came at "just the right time".

It's like there are these times in your life when you're not down or sad or depressed or even unhappy with what you're doing, you just need encouragement. And what's crazy is you usually don't even know you need it until someone sends it your way. This was definitely the case for me the other day. But this got me thinking about the character of God and how He tends to operate.

In Romans 5:6, Paul tells us that Christ came at "just the right time" to die for us sinners. I've always sort of passed over this and not thought too much about it. Ultimately we have no idea why it was "just the right time" - why not now or 300 years before? That's not for us to know. This is God's M.O. - He does everything at just the right time! He leads us to the desert, He brings us to the water, He brings the trial & struggle, He relieves the burden, and He brings the encouragement at "just the right time". And often...we are totally unaware.

I hope you're encouraged knowing that the God who "supplies all our needs according to His riches" is paying great attention to your life. He knows your needs and your heart. And He does everything at "just the right time".

December 18, 2007


So that I don't make any presumptions, if you've never studied and read through My Utmost For His Highest you need to get a copy NOW. Oswald Chambers shares some of the deepest, yet most foundational insights into scripture that I've ever read. You simply must go through this treasured book.

As I'm reading today he's touching on Romans 8:28. He begins talking about how we inadvertently become loyal to the work and the service and to all the things that we claim to be doing for God...and at the same time lose our loyalty to the person of Jesus Christ. We love the Godly things we're committed to but they often distract us from the One to whom we should be most loyal.

Chambers makes the statement that "The idea is not that we do work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us...."

So, am I loyal to Him...or to all the stuff I claim to be doing for Him?
We must ask & answer this question prayerfully.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose."

December 14, 2007

The Peace of God

Have you ever lost something valuable to you? Like you misplaced your wallet or your keys and you spend hours...days...weeks...searching - possibly destroying - everything you own to find them. When you lose something that is important to you a couple of things happen: 1)you will basically do anything conceivable to find it and 2)you discover just how valuable that thing was to start with.

About 13 years ago I lost something. The most difficult thing about it was that it wasn't something tangible, that maybe I had stuck in a cabinet or under the bed. I woke up one morning and my peace was gone. Yes, you read that right. I felt as though the peace I had in my life - the peace that only God can give - had been ripped right out of my heart. It was paralyzing. I remember sitting on the steps that morning with my Mom, refusing to eat, unable to explain the source of my struggle. All I knew was that the "peace" that Paul speaks of in Philippians 4 was no longer taking up residence in me. And I had no explanation.

When I speak about this peace being gone what it felt like to me was that there was this pain or uneasiness in my gut - in that place within you that can tell you quickly that you shouldn't have had that 5th slice of pizza and also sends messages to your brain like "Oh, I did not need to see that man's femur pop out through his shin!" There was this painful stirring going on in my soul and as the days passed I began to have one mission in life: find out WHY! Where had my peace gone? Why had it left me? What was God trying to tell me? And so the journey began.

I wish I could tell you that a couple of days or even weeks later I woke up and sunshine was shooting out my ears and everything was better. That would be a lie. The next 7-8 months of my life were a day-to-day process of almost re-learning what it meant to walk with God. I had made a series of choices that led up to this and I see now that there were choices and decisions I would face in the days that followed. God was preparing my heart. He was taking me through a fire that had to be heated up hotter than usual so that He could pose the question to my heart: "Are you ready to be mine? Are you ready to seek me first? Are you ready to follow me wherever I lead you? Do whatever I ask? Or are you still holding on to this or that?" These questions are not easy ones to ask or answer. But make no mistake, when God is ready to ask them He does whatever it takes to speak clearly. The journey for us is figuring out how to listen.

Oswald Chambers speaks of this in My Utmost For His Highest. He says, "Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of peace...which is not natural, but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, tarry 'til it does or find out the reason why it does not." This all began for me on December 5th, 1994. I read these words from Chambers 9 days later. A light went off in my head and I knew what had to be done. I had to "find out the reason" and make it right.

My friend Jarrod is the only person I know of who can identify with what I went through. Thankfully - and definitely not coincidentally - we went through this at almost the exact same time. But there may come a day when you wake up and wonder who snuck into your room in the middle of the night and stole this prize possession of peace. If it happens, know that it wasn't stolen. God is trying to get your attention. "...tarry 'til it does or find out the reason why it does not." Because without a doubt it will return. And when it does, your heart will be refined, polished, stronger, and ready to walk the narrow road.

"The peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27

December 10, 2007

I Finished the Race

26.2 miles. I can't believe I finally did it. There are so many thoughts and impressions running through me after this monumental event in my life.

First of all, I thought I would break down and get really emotional when I crossed the Finish line. That didn't happen. For 2 reasons. First off, I think I was so insanely exhausted that I looked like I was intoxicated, stumbling up through the Finish Gate. I left everything I had on the pavement. But the other reason was that somewhere around 24-25 miles it began to dawn on me, "I'm about to finish this thing. I'm about to conquer this mighty beast." I began to have these thoughts of all those days out running, preparing, praying. All that time and sweat and prayer that was spent. I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord that I almost started to lose it. I think I even spurted, choked and made some funny noises as I was trying to hold back the tears. It was just indescribable.

The other thing that's still fresh on my mind is that the first 7-8 miles of this race were pure adrenaline. Those first 60 minutes there was never a shortage of people lining the streets, cheering you on, injecting you with enthusiasm and encouragement. There were people yelling my name (b/c they could read it on my number bib) and I was yelling back. I was so pumped I think there had to be people noticing, "Check out that guy who's running with that goofy big smile on his face." As I ran through this, I was instantly struck that this should be a picture of the church. We should be there, spurring and encouraging each other on. Even those we don't know us should be affected by our enthusiasm and our desire to see them "finish the race".

So many times, at just the right time, I would run up on someone wearing a shirt with encouragement from God's Word on the back: "they will run and not grow weary..." or "I can do all things through Christ...". God's timing and His Word are always perfect. And then of course was my sister-in-law hanging out the car window at mile 18 yelling, "Go Brian!" That was awesome!

Everyone should experience this. You may not be a runner - may never be - so it may be in your cards that you need to be the one on the side of the road holding the sign that says, "You Can Do It Dad" or "We Love You Nancy". In some shape, form or fashion everyone needs to experience this rush and impact of 26.2 miles. It will change your life.

December 7, 2007

Strolling Down Memory Lane

We arrived at my parents house in Arlington last night. I got up this morning to go for my last run before the marathon. It was a pretty intense and memorable 4-5 miles.

First off, when we left Wichita yesterday it was about 35. When I left to go running at 8am it was already 65 and humid. Just one of the reasons why I don't mind not living in Texas anymore! My run took me for a jog down memory lane. Some of the memories good, others I'd rather forget.

I went past a church parking lot where so many of my friends in high school would go to hang out and drink. Yes, you heard me right. And don't think that memory wasn't screaming in my face. It was like the enemy was ready for me with signs and flashing lights saying, "Remember what you used to do here loser!?" Ouch.

I went past the rec center where I worked for so many summers in college. This is where I met Morgan and fell in love with her. Lots of great memories there. And the rec center is just a block from the house I grew up in (maybe that "grew up" statement has an unfinished tone to it!) and my elementary school. I was running down some of the streets that Kevin James and I would ride our skateboards and bikes on everyday of the summer. And then there was Bailey Junior High School. Man, did I know how to get in trouble at that school! As I was running in front of the school a mom was going to her car. She jokingly said, "You don't look like you go to Bailey!" I kept running and yelled back to her, "Not for 25 years!" Again, ouch.

I got back and was still a little hung up on this whole running by my bad memories thing. I sat down at the table to read my Bible. I've been reading through Romans and I'm now to chapter 8. I start reading and the very first verse of Romans 8 tells us that "Now there is NO condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus." This weight I had jogged with for 30 minutes was immediately lifted off of me. Jesus was saying, "You keep bringing that up...but I don't know what you're talking about. I threw it in the sea."

I don't know what you might be running with, carrying it on your back or in your heart, but God says to you, "Lay it down, walk away, and don't come back to it. I'm throwing it away." That's freedom. That's the essence of our hope and peace.

So, in 48 hours I'll be pounding the streets of Dallas running the White Rock Marathon. The forecast is 68 and rain. I'm definitely not excited about that. I'd rather it be 45-50 and sunny. But at least I'll be running without that weight on my back!

December 3, 2007

Feast or Famine?

This past weekend was such a huge reminder and encouragement that the longing in my life for peace, satisfaction, hope, purpose and connecting & communing with my Creator will only be met through the time I spend "feasting" on His word (as my friend Nathan Jones likes to put it).

I watched many students this weekend who were visibly shaken, convicted and renewed by God. Many of them commented that "I felt closer to God this weekend than I have in a long time." My hope for them (any you) is that we get a clue and realize that it comes as we draw near to God - as we seek the truth of His Word and let it seap into the cracks of our soul. These feelings will go away. It's not an "if" but a "when". And when they go away, if your heart is not set on His Word, you will all of a sudden start wondering, "Where did God go?"

He doesn't go anywhere. We do! Our hearts wander - they run off chasing things that will fade away. I think of the words from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing: "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above." And the way God "seals our heart" is through the power of His Word. Period.

So, are you feasting on every word of life and hope and purpose He has placed at His table for you? Or are you withering away through your own self-inflicted famine? It's your choice. Come join me at the table and let's dig in.

November 29, 2007

Not Interested!

I spent some time the other morning reading in Galatians 6. When you get to verse 11, Paul takes the pen from the person he's been dictating the letter to and by doing so says, "The rest of what I've got to say is so important I'm gonna write it myself."

In verse 14 Paul says that because of the cross of Christ "my interest in this world are long dead...." This is not something shocking for us to hear Paul declare. We're used to this idea - at least hearing someone like him proclaim it - and it's something we've grown used to knowing we should desire. But then he continues on and he catches me off guard. He says "...and this world's interest in me died long ago." Stop and think about that for a second.

What the heck does that mean? Doesn't that cut against the grain of Christ's mandate to me to be a "light in the darkness"? I'm supposed to have something others see and desire, right? I was just plain flat stumped by this one. Then I think it hit me. The world, and the one who's been given free reign to wreak his own bouts of havoc on it, doesn't bother with those who are clearly, without a doubt, sold out.

Think about this. Do you imagine Satan to be convening with his cohorts around the table about their newest plan to bring down Billy Graham? Can't see it happening. I'm pretty sure they stopped investing any of their time or energy in Billy a long time ago. They know where he stands and that he will not be shaken or fall from the foundation. No, the enemy - the world - spends time waiting, prowling and watching for those who just can't seem to make up their mind.

It's like commercials. Like that BEEF, IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER commercial. Do you think that ad is aimed at vegetarians? No way. They're not trying to convince a vegan to chow on some cow. They know there are these millions of people out there who at one time tasted that mouth-watering ribeye and that they must might be able to convince them they need to come have another bite. They're aiming at the undecided.

So, have you decided? Is it crystal clear to the enemy - to the world - where you stand? Or is the only thing that's clear is that you just can't make up your mind?
I wan't to be in that place where the enemy finally says, "We're not wasting our time with Mayfield anymore. It's just not worth it. Not interested!"
Have you made up your mind?

Dig Deeper:
Galatians 6:1-15

November 27, 2007

Life on Planet H-Trae

There's a parallel universe...somewhere on the other side of the sun. We don't want to talk about it or act like it's there because then we'd have to reconcile what would happen if they came and took our stuff or ate all our pie. But trust's there. And crazy things happen in the upside-down world. Things that just wouldn't work here on the "big round ball".

For instance, athletic coaches, country clubs and job supervisors hear things like, "No, I'm sorry. I won't be there because I'll be at a church event" or "I'm sorry but this (game, job, position, blah blah blah) really is not the most important thing in my life."

There are days here on earth that I just wish...for once...I could hear those words come out of someone's mouth about something. I know, I must live in some sort of plastic bubble or I'm detached from reality. Probably. That's where I've always been most at home. Help me out here. Am I crazy? Am I - at 35 - just way too old fashioned? Say it isn't so. But what is it in people's lives these days - especially Christians - that sets the standard and determines the priority?

Maybe that parallel universe isn't really there. Maybe I'm just making the whole thing up. But I'm starting to wish...and hope...that it's out there somewhere.

November 23, 2007


Thankful. Yes I am. So many things to be thankful for. Have you made a list? I think you should. It's helpful everyone once-in-awhile to just put pen to paper and put it out there for your eyes to see - here are all the reasons I have to be grateful, thankful and realize that I am blessed.

Here is my shortlist of what I am thankful for:
My amazing wife who loves me, encourages me & supports me.
Libby & Nathan - my 2 beatiful children who make me want to be a great Dad.
My family - ALL my family.
Dad - that God has chosen to continue to grace us with Dad being here!
My new home. A roof over my head.
Clothing on my back. Food on my table.
Hot water. Cold water. Water period.
That I can run. 22 miles yesterday in fact. 26.2 here I come!
Good music. Really good music.
My jeep that gets me from A to B.
Great friends. Brent, Shawn & Mark - who keep me accountable.

Jesus - thank You for saving me, calling me, redeeming me and allowing me to be called Your own. If we have You, how can we be anything but thankful?
I am thankful.

November 18, 2007

Now is the time

This morning we began our worship service with our Pastor letting the congregation know that a man in our church family was struggling with cancer and needed our prayers. The important thing is that the man was asked to come to the front with our Pastor, his wife and family were asked to join him, and our church family was asked to come and surround the family and lay hands on him.
Without hesitation, 100-150+ people got out of their seats, came forward and "carried each others burdens". It was a beautiful sight.

The music, message and everything else in our service this morning were important, but I believe those first few minutes are defining. They reveal the heart of who we are. They expose the heart of our Pastor and our family. Thank you Father that we have come to the place of recognizing that you have called us to pray. You have called us to lift each other up. Remember, PRAYER is the greater work.

How often does someone share their need with us only to have us affectionately reply, "I'll pray for you." What a load. What a big fat load. When someone lays their burdens out on the table, exposes the hurt or the need, carrying that burden means picking it up then...immediately. WHY do we wait? WHY do we waiver? Are we afraid to pray? Do we not have the time or the patience to just stop and do the greater work?

I thank God for my Dad who always set the example for me to pray NOW. On the phone, in the office, in the airport, at the table. When someone needs prayer...PRAY. I thank God for our Pastor who constantly sets the example that there is no greater work for us corporately than to surround those in our family and approach the Father on their behalf. Prayer is the greater work. Now is the time.

And if the schedule has to be disrupted, if plans have to be put on hold, if the music has to be it. "Always pray".

November 16, 2007

It's Just Hair

Last night my daughter made a serious impression on me. Several months ago we began talking about Locks for Love, the organization that takes peoples hair and uses it to make wigs for cancer patients. Hearing about this, and knowing that her Papa had cancer, Libby spoke up that she wanted to do that. Morgan and I were a little apprehensive, thinking it would be long and hard for Libby to grow her hair out that long. That'll teach me to ever doubt my daughter.

We have a nice long pony tail in a plastic bag that we're sending in honor of my Dad. And Libby has a cute new haircut. But probably most of all I've been taught 2 important things from a 5 year old: 1)if you care too much about what you look like you'll probably miss the heart of who God wants you to be and 2) life is about loving other people. Period.

I can't wait til next week when my Dad arrives and sees this new haircut. Something tells me he'll care a whole lot more that my daughter cut her hair off than he does about losing his.

November 14, 2007

Shake it up!

So here I am, sitting in my office...staring at the screen...sitting in this same black chair...tick tock...tick tock.... Is it just me or do we all get in this funk every now and then where we feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day? I'm looking around thinking, "When did I let all this junk start piling up on my desk? Why are those stupid boxes still sitting in the corner? Why on God's green earth do I have a pair of roller blades in my office? Am I here? Is this really me?" Sort of sounds like a Talking Heads song.

I pride myself in being an advocate and an agent of change - in my life and in the lives of people around me. But there are times you just seem to let it go and all of a sudden...there you are. In the funk. Floating on your back in the cesspool of complacency, enjoying a siesta. Could someone get me one of those drinks with an umbrella in it?

So I've decided that it's time once again for some change. Those who've worked with me or been around me enough know that when this happens it's best to stand at a distance and look out for flying objects. I'm not sure what will have to go...or what will have to change...but something's gotta give.

This is who we are. We get comfortable and if we don't do something about it the rest is history. Not the kind of history you read about in books, but the kind that causes you to wake up one day and wonder, "When did I start wearing these ugly pants and combing my hair this way? And why has no one stopped me?"

I beg of you - WAKE UP! Shake it up. Throw yourself a curve ball (if that can actually be done) and shock some life back into the soul.
And by the way, does anyone need a pair of roller blades?

November 12, 2007

My Secret Life

I read this morning in Romans 2:16 where Paul tells us that " day God...will judge everyone's secret life." (my paraphrase)

There will come a day when we are judged by our creator and redeemer for the things we did in private, the thoughts that filled our mind, the things we thought no one knew about. These are the times & things that define who we truly are. As I read this the only thing I could think was, "I don't want a secret life!"

Here's the solution: accountability. [Oh, here he goes again. If I hear this accountability hoo ha again I'm gonna be sick.] Sorry. I had a small Jim Gaffigan moment there. Yes, accountability. And in case we're questioning what that really means, it's open, forthright, honesty with someone you can trust. It's the guardian of your integrity.

We can expose the things inside ourselves and ask God to purify our hearts, change us and give us a desire to run after Him. Or we can just wait for the day when all the "secrets" will be brought to light. And we can answer for it then.
I think I'd rather shorten that future Q & A time down a little.

For more:
Ephesians 5

November 8, 2007

The Greater Work

Just recently I read in My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers makes the statement that "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work. It is the greater work." Ouch.

I think most of us see prayer as this vehicle that gets me WHAT God wants me to have or moves me to WHERE God wants me to be. As if prayer is the great "assister" in the grand scheme. Prayer is not the vehicle, it's the destination. God desires me on my knees, on my face, communing with Him.

I often find myself wanting more to be used by God for His purposes than wanting to hang out at His feet and fellowship with Him. I'm missing the point.
Prayer is the greater work.

Ephesians 4:6-7
Matthew 26: 40-41
Mark 9:29
James 5:16
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
2 Chronicles 7:14


November 4, 2007

What Sunday Mornings Tell Us

Over the last few years I have wrestled with the issue of "the Sabbath". What I mean is, I've struggled with how heavily I'm supposed to hold people responsible for being at "church" - you know, showing up at the building - and to what extent that is someone's personal responsibitity and choice.

In Romans 14 Paul says that one person thinks "one day is more holy than another, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter." This was a brick upside my head a couple of years ago to back off and get off other people's case. But, there are so many other scriptures that talk about honoring the Sabbath (take Isaiah 58:13 as one example). The issue for me: how accountable are we to hold each other? Is it someone else's business? I'll leave it with a question mark.

All of this being said, I've come to a conclusion this morning. Regardless of what someone's decision with what they do on Sunday morning matter what they do, where they go, how long they sleep...Sunday mornings tell us something. They reveal priorities. They reveal to us and the rest of the world what our priority is and what we consider important. Here's what I mean. A family may not be present on Sunday at your service because their son/daughter is playing soccer. But what if that family (yes, the family) has intentionally invested in that soccer team to build relationships and impact lives for the Kingdom - are they using their Sabbath wisely? I would tend to think, Yes. But if you're at home, in your bed, and you just couldn't seem to drag yourself out because of that late night you had and all that stuff you've got to do today...well, you think about it.

And is it possible to be a leader in any regard when your presence and contribution is as inconsistent as the weather in Texas? Can people follow you or count on you when they don't even know if you're going to show up? Again, think about it.

Paul said that "Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter." Do you? Have you prayed about what you do with your Sabbath? Where you spend it? How you feel at the end of it? Have you communed with God? Have you had fellowship with God's people? Or do you finish your weekend in need of another weekend...and on and on?

Sunday mornings tell us something. We may not want to hear it, but they do. What are Sunday mornings telling you?

November 2, 2007

The Weight of Ministry

I remember in February of 1991 when I walked down the aisle of my church and made it official to the whole world (the whole world of Fielder Road Baptist Church, anyways) that God was calling me to surrender to full-time ministry. I remember the joy from making that public knowledge - the accountability and encouragement that came with it. I remember how elated my Mom & Dad were, believing for years that God was preparing me for something special. I remember a lot of memorable and amazing ups & downs that came along with this over the next years, all affirming that God had indeed brought me into this world to serve Him.

But I also remember in 1992 I was playing the drums at a statewide college conference in Texas. A pastor-friend of my Dad's was there and had heard about my decision to go into full-time ministry. After the conference was over we had a chance to talk for a few minutes. This is where he stunned me. I remember like it was yesterday his words: "Brian, I want to encourage you; if you can do anything else in this world and love it and enjoy that."
In other words: if you can be a disc jockey, an architect, a teacher, a coach, a dentist...ANYTHING...and enjoy that instead. Don't go into full-time ministry.


I remember thinking, "My Dad's gonna sock him in the mouth when I tell him what he said." To my surprise, my Dad didn't want to sock him. He wanted to thank him. And I was one confused collegiate. Pastors running around telling people, "Run for your lives...don't do it!" Was he serious?

Fast forward 15 years. I can recall right off the top of my head (which doesn't happen easily anymore) at least 5 conversations I have had in recent years where I have expressed this same advice and encouragement to young people seeking the Lord's will for their lives. WHY? Because - as I have been reminded of so clearly these last few months - if God has not called you, shaped you, prepared you and set you on fire to do this - to serve Him and PEOPLE - you will go down with the ship. The mutiny will crush you and suck the life right out of you.

Jesus didn't equate himself with a shepherd for no good reason. He's asking, "Do you have what it takes to be a shepherd? Do you have the patience? The perseverance? The humility? Do you like sheep? Do you love sheep?"

"If you love me...feed my sheep." I have no other Plan B...nothing. And there are so many days (and nights) when I just wish God would drop me a Plan B, give me a loophole or an escape route. But it doesn't come. And in the end, I would have no idea what to do, where to go, or WHO I was pretending to be.

Humility. Patience. Perseverance. Compassion. Brokenness. Passion.
These are the things I ask for. These are the things You have asked of me.
These are the desire of my heart.

Stinky Shepherd

October 30, 2007

The Others

I'm reading this morning in Luke 14 as Jesus tells this parable about the Great Festival. He speaks of a man who invites all these people to a party and then sends out a messenger to tell them the party is ready to get crankin. But as the messenger reaches each of the people they all have excuses as to why they can't come: I've got work to do; I just got married; etc....

So the man sends his messenger out to find other people - the lame, the crippled, the blind, the poor, the outcasts - and tell them all to come and enjoy themselves. Go out to the country - find anyone who desires to fellowship with me - and bring'em. Let's party. BUT, as for those who got the first invitations and didn't come...they won't even taste a morsel of how good this was.

Here is where Jesus seriously gets in our crawl and disrupts our everyday. I mean, is He saying what it sounds like He's saying? Honestly, I think we can contextualize and interpret this parable all kinds of ways and do it just in such a way that it makes us feel a little bit better about the possible ramifications. But I believe the one thing that is clearly being said here is that when it's ALL said and done - the show's over - many of the people who will meet Jesus face to face are not the ones we expect. It will be the others.

All the time we watch as people who have received their invitation take it, put it up on their bulletin board, mark their calendar...but then the messenger comes calling and says, "It's time to party with my master"...and here come the excuses.

God is asking us this morning: "What are you doing with MY invitation?"

September 19, 2007

The Quicksand of College

I've had several of my college students share with me lately that they're struggling - they're spending less & less time with God and more & more time feeling like they're buried underneath the weight of all they have to get done and all that's expected of them. For anyone who's been in college, you know this feeling.

What is difficult to communicate to someone, and regrettably it seems we each must discover for ourselves, is that this is simply about choices & priorities. There are 2 things that you must demand of yourself in college or you will all of a sudden realize that your legs are stuck in the quicksand and there's no one there to pull you out. You must find fellowship and you must spend time in God's Word. Period.

So many students go to school looking for a church just like the one they've grown up in at home. They don't find that magical connection, they get discouraged, they quit looking and they quit going. And when you cut yourself off from the fellowship (and everything that comes with it) of the local church - a body of believers - you will begin to spiritually crash & burn.

And quite frankly I don't know how to even expand on this - as if it needs my validation. If you don't spend time filling your heart and mind with God's Word, you will fall flat on your face. Read Psalm 119:9-11, think about the implications. Hiding God's Word in our hearts is LIFE! It's your spiritual bread, water, oxygen.

If you're in college and you're facing this struggle to any degree, do NOT give up. Demand these things of yourself. You won't regret it. And you'll find that your studies (hello! you're in college!) will begin to improve as well. Don't believe me? I dare you to try it.

September 18, 2007

The Art of Waiting

We put our house on the market last Monday. Friday, the first person who looked at it, bought it. Crazy! Sort of...but not really. As Morgan and I had been praying about this decision of grand proportion, my prayer was that if we were supposed to sell the house that it would sell for what we were asking, believing that our house was worth that amount, and that we wouldn't have to bend, negotiate or compromise. We didn't. At all. And yet in the midst of praying, expecting, trusting God, when He actually does what you're praying for it's as if you're shocked. He is so good!

So now we've put in an offer on a home that we fell in love with the instant we drove into the driveway. We're trying not to get excited for fear of being let down or disappointed. We prayed, we calculated, we submitted our offer, and now.......we wait. And wait.

I recall Paul saying something about not worrying or being anxious, but instead praying. And then praying some more. And somehow through that process finding this peace that only God can give. I hate it - we all do - but it's in that waiting that we draw closer to God more than any other time. It's in the waiting that we either learn a little (or a lot) more about trusting Him or we decide that we can handle it, manipulate it, and control it better than He can. And you know where that leads!

So, we wait. And remember that "those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength". I think it will be worth the wait. Don't you?