October 31, 2008


Riding in the Jeep this morning Nathan announces to me, "Dad. I just counted to 28!" And then he asked me the most confounding question of all time - "Is 28 a lot?" I thought about it for a second and then said, "Well...sort of." And if you know my son (or any 4 year old for that matter) you know that this answer - sort of - is in no way satisfactory.

As I sat there, driving down the road in this contemplative trance, I began to wonder to myself, "Is 28 a lot?" And I began to realize that it's all about perspective.

First of all, if we're talking about money - dollars to you and me - we would say, "No way. 28 is chump change! 28 won't fill up half my gas tank or even pay my cell phone bill." But then you begin to realize - if you're paying attention, that is - that 28 will pretty much feed and clothe a child from World Vision or Compassion International. 28 will buy a wool blanket for a person living in poverty. 28 can provide 2 families with bed nets to protect from Malaria - the nastiest child-killer in the world. Holy cow. 28 just got a lot bigger! And that's not even the beginning.

What about 28 gallons of water? How does that measure up? Well, to put it into perspective, the average family home uses about 68-69 gallons of water a day. That's from the shower, brushing teeth, running the dishwasher & washing machine, watering the yard, and of course, flushing the toilet. And this doesn't sting as much until you realize that there are still people walking 4-5 miles a day just to get 1 bucket of water (about 4-5 gallons max) for their entire family to use. And that water is usually contaminated, viral, and slowly killing them. 28 keeps growing.

If this is making you want to curl up in a sad ball on your sofa and watch Feed the Children commercials, sorry. Not the point. The point is: DO SOMETHING!

"What, you might ask?" Great question.

Here's a small list of places to start:

1. Take $30 a month and sponsor a child (www.worldvision.org)

2. Give to blood:water mission (www.bloodwatermission.com) and help a family or even an entire village build a well. In the last year, Olivet has paid for at least 5 wells to be built!

3. Stop flushing the toilet! I know - "GROSS" you say. Well, when we go to Mexico we have a saying: "If it's yellow let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." Again, I know some of you find the thought of this detestable, and maybe you shouldn't practice this the night you're having dinner guest. But quit wasting water! You use approx. 3-5 liters of water EVERY SINGLE TIME you flush the toilet. (I drink 3-4 liters a day!) Turn off the faucet while you're brushing your teeth. MEN: when you go to a public restroom and use the urinal, WHY flush it? You're wasting H2O and putting your hand on that nasty handle. Stop wasting water!

4. Start making Christmas what Christmas is all about - Jesus Christ! It's HIS birthday for cryin' out loud. Give something away to someone else. Give your time. MAKE a gift for each other. Make the decision as a family to change to way you think...and take action. Visit www.adventconspiracy.org

5. Educate. Make sure everyone you know understands that lives are at stake...and that we can make a difference. Every single one of us can make a difference.

And in the middle of the chaos of your busy day, when the world is rushing by and time is running out and you're starting to feel like you're overwhelmed and don't know what to do...remember: 28 is a LOT!

October 28, 2008

Think Fast!

This day has been one of those that (ever since I made the decision at 5:45 to get back in bed rather than go running) seems to be stuck in the mud. Everything I've done today has felt like I had weights attached to me - sort of like trying to sprint in quicksand. Good luck.

Needless to say, on days like this you probably don't find yourself on the lookout for God to speak to you or to radically smack you upside the head with some fresh thought that puts a kick in your step. But just moments ago - while I was minding my own business - the Lord interrupted my day with a disturbing realization. I have utterly and completely forsaken the need in my life for fasting. In fact, as I've thought about it, it seems the only thing I'm good at fasting from...is fasting!

The rest of this day will be spent asking the Lord for conviction and discernment about WHAT He desires me to fast from, HOW often & long I need to partake of this, and WHO I need to share it with. I'm beginning to feel like God is already pressing his finger in on the sore spot - the thing He is going to ask me to set aside and release for awhile. We'll wait, pray, and see.

Are you fasting? Have you given anything up for the sake of prayer? Have you allowed yourself to walk through this experience that reminds us that HE is all we need? Or are you simply fasting from fasting? My encouragement to you...think fast!

Matthew 6:16-18
Isaiah 58:1-7
Acts 13:1-3

October 24, 2008

Politics & American Jesus

Over the last year I have thought many times, "When is this election going to hurry up and be over?" And now, ironically, I can't believe it's already here. As we have lived through the debates, the campaigning, the sucking up, the promises made, and everything that comes along with a presidential election, I have done more soul searching and praying about the issues and candidates than ever before. I have come to some realizations.

First of all, I hope that everyone (and "Yes" I mean YOU) has come to the enlightening conclusion that NOTHING is really what it seems. Most of us at this point have hopefully begun to focus in on the candidate that is going to receive our push of the button on November 4th. But make sure you know that 1/2 of what you think you love and support about your candidate is probably a facade or mirage. And in contrast, 1/2 of what you think you hate about the other guy is probably misperception, misinformation, or just plain flat lie. Because if you've gathered your information from the mainstream media or these ridiculous mass emails that circulate from one-track minded psychos then you've probably been duped. In politics, nothing is as it seems. Period.

Also, to those of you who are followers of Christ, are you still voting on the grounds of ONE issue? Hear this loud and clear: Abortion is wrong. It is murder. It damages, belittles, and wounds the hearts, souls, minds, and bodies of women. And I believe the doctors who perform these operations will one day answer and pay for it. But it seems to me that maybe the "HOW" has finally come back to haunt us. Is it possible that "Christians" have been standing on street corners with signs and bullhorns for so long, pointing fingers and spewing hate, that many of us have failed to realize that countless numbers of these same people are advocating the death penalty and totally OK with the collateral damage of war? Does this make any sense to you? Is it possible that the church is producing the greatest army of hypocrites to ever assemble?

And have we somehow allowed it to slip past us that the TRILLIONS of dollars we have spent fighting this war (to protect and defend OUR way of living) could have already eradicate the world's water crisis and put a very large dent in the fight against hunger and poverty? And before you get all "You're anti-this & that" on me, make sure you understand that I am all for us defending others, who can't stand up for themselves. I am all for liberation and protecting freedom. But what I'm not all for is us becoming so obsessed with defending the American way of living and claiming that it's a "God-ordained right" to live the way most of us live. FREEDOM - God ordained. Wealth in the face of poverty, obesity in the face of world hunger, drunkenness in the face of someone dying of thirst, consumerism in the face of an economic crisis...NOT God ordained. Some speak of a "moral compass". What moral compass? Some ask "What Would Jesus Do?" Well, that depends. Are you talking about the American Jesus or the one in the Gospels?

And make sure that if you're even tempted to think this is a political endorsement for anyone, you're mistaken. No matter who receives my vote on November 4th, it will be cast with much conviction and a prayerful burden along with it. But at the same time, there's another mistake I beg you not to make. Don't begin to think that if one man or another fails to be elected that it's all going down the toilet. Because if you think this way - if you allow yourself to buy into that fearful reaction - then you must be following American Jesus. The Jesus I know didn't come to defeat Rome - He came to defeat sin. Jesus called us to a NEW way of standing up, protesting, defending and doing things. And Paul said some things about this in Romans 13 as well. Don't panic. PRAY. Don't fear. TRUST.

I believe the Church here in the West has spent way too much time demanding and coercing legislation and way too little time investing in people's lives. We want the government to do our job. We want the government to demand what people can & can't do so that the burden of example is not on us. We have taken Matthew 25 and Luke 14 and said, "Surely you're not serious about this Lord!" All the while not realizing that even questioning the authenticity and demand of what's being said and asked...that questioning negates our ability to even call Him "Lord". 

It is time that the Church - the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ - start awakening to a NEW way of living. It is time that we start radically loving the world and stop expecting Washington to set the moral tone for HOW we should be living. 
Because if we start loving...they might start listening. No, some won't. But some will. And they are the reason that we're still here. At least, they're supposed to be.

For more:
Matthew 5-7
Luke 14:25-35
Matthew 25
Romans 13 & Daniel 2:21
Mark 12:29-31
Matthew 28:18-20

October 19, 2008

"You can do this!"

Yesterday I ran the KC Marathon. I've been training for months and have felt more confident and prepared going into this one than my first one last December. But somewhere around the mile 17-18 the mental battle began. 

First of all, there were not near enough port-a-potties on the course. I'm talking 6-7 mile stretches with no relief in sight. If you're a runner you know that for most this will ultimately result in creating your own restroom. No biggie. It's a runner thing. And to add onto the pressure buildup in my bladder for 8 miles there was the issue of bad pasta the night before. Or maybe I should say bad sauce. Not sure, I just know that Pasta la Vista was not the greatest Italian cuisine I had ever put in my mouth or stomach. A marathon is not supposed to be a 26 mile intestinal fight. But things happen.

Morgan and I saw our friend from the Y at home a couple of times. And Faith came out and brought me a dry hat and took some of my stuff I didn't need anymore. This was a total blessing! But back to the mental battle. 

I don't even know how to explain it, but somewhere along the way you just begin to start wondering, "Did I train enough? Holy crap! Could there be any more hills!? Are my legs still there underneath me?" And the war of speculation goes on. I began to feel like I just needed to hear someone yell my name - I needed to see a familiar face again and hear them say, "GO! You can do it!" And then it happened. As I was coming up this hill I saw some friends. I had no idea they were going to be there. And they were yelling for me, yelling my name, people I knew were encouraging me on, to keep going. Heather even jumped out and ran with me for awhile. (I tried to convince her to carry me, but she wasn't buying it). Carolyn was taking my picture. Allie was handing me Skittles (most of which I dropped on the street). But this was all I needed!

It was such a vivid reminder of Galatians 6:2, that we are to "carry each others burdens". We so often take for granted the blessing that we are to each other and we forget that the encouragement we find in being part of the body of Christ is almost unexplainable. Just to see each other. Just to hear someone say, "You can do this." To know that you're not alone.

And when I crossed the Finish line, there they were. I staggered over to them to try and explain how much it meant to me to see them and hear their voices at just that right time. It was powerful. And my 4 hour goal - I crushed it! 3:53:23.

We ran back down to the final stretch, waited for Morgan (who was not far behind me), and cheered her on to the Finish. This is what the body of Christ should look like. I'm thankful for the reminder.

October 13, 2008

Cleaning Out Cages

Over the last 6 weeks we've set out on a mission to expose the "elephants" in the church - these issues that are on our minds and are affecting our walk and our relationships, but we don't want to talk about. We had to hunt them down, drag them out into the open, and expose them for what they really are. We talked about legalism, authenticity, transparency & hypocrisy, consumerism, sexual purity & sin, gossip and apathy. To many (including myself) it sort of felt like a prolonged punch to the face. Glad that's over!

So where do we stand now? Hopefully we're cleaning out the cages where our elephants use to live. In all fairness, they've taken up too much of our time and energy and we've been cleaning up the mess they leave behind for far too long. All that being said, have you honestly said goodbye and good riddance? Or are you just cleaning out the cage and getting it ready for the next elephant to come and make himself at home in the middle of your heart? There's one way to know.

ACCOUNTABILITY. Have you found it yet? Have you finally reached the place where you've demanded of yourself that you not go another day without finding that someone (or someone's) who can speak truth into your life and with whom you can confide and confess your sins and struggles? Have you finally decided to quit playing church? Has God convicted you or challenge you over these last weeks about something in your life that needs to change? If yes, fantastic. But have you shared that with anyone? ANYONE?

Let's just be clear about this: if you're still limping through life and telling yourself, "I'm fine. I don't need your accountability"...you may think you've shown these elephants the back door...but they'll be back. And when they come back they'll be bigger, fatter, louder and nastier than ever before. Until you demand accountability of yourself - THAT is your elephant. ACCOUNTABILITY is your elephant. It's the thing you know you need to do and somehow keep refusing, putting off, and excusing away. The ignorant and outright LACK of accountability between the people of God is the elephant of all elephants in the church. And until it truly goes away, we're just cleaning out those cages for nothing!

James 5:16
Ecclesiastes 4:12
Galatians 6:1-3
Proverbs 27:17

October 9, 2008


We're sitting in the airport the other day, waiting to board our plane, and I hear the Delta agent across the hall spewing some blah blah blah about waiting for our plane to arrive and then I hear her utter that famous word that Delta and American are so famous for: OVERSOLD! Have you heard this word before? When you're waiting for your plane? This is the airline's way of letting you know, "We sold you a seat...but not really." They sold you a ticket for a supposed seat that doesn't technically exist until they figure out if everyone who bought "supposed" seats has shown up when they then somehow reserve the right to inform you that someone (voluntarily, mind you) is going to have to give up their "supposed" seat. OVERSOLD.

When I talked to Enterprise Rent-a-Car on the phone and asked the question, "So, the Suburban on your website means that you actually have a Suburban or the equivalent - something I can put 6 people and luggage in?" And the answer I got was "Yes Mr. Mayfield!" I love being called Mister. Only to arrive at Enterprise yesterday and have the lady explain to me that a Tahoe (which you all know is NOT a Suburban) available for me. Again, the communicated reality is not really the reality at all.

Fast forward 4 hours. We arrive at the hotel. I have booked 2 Suites - those are rooms with 2 double beds and a sofa bed - 2 Suites that would sleep 6 people. I have 6 people. They give us our keys, we go to our rooms, open the door...NOT suites. I go back down & explain to the men at the front desk the situation. We concur that there is a dilemma. One of the men begins to explain to me that because I booked my reservation at Travelocity - not directly with the hotel - that my reservation was secure, but not the TYPE of reservation. In other words, we could put you in the Janitor's closet if we wanted to. Are you serious? Is anyone seeing the pattern here? Is this the largest conspiracy in the history of the world? Are there travel agents thinking this up and selling the idea as a scam?

It's just begun to bake my bagel that all these people and companies and organizations call sell you something that's not really what they say it is. People want to know that they're not being sold a bag of goods and that at least to some level of decency things ARE actually what they seem. People are hungry and desperate and longing for some integrity in this world. And they're not finding it overflowing from the walls or the fabric of the American dream or from this capitalist haven we call home. It has to come from US! The people of God have got to be determined and set on being WHO and WHAT we say we are! We can't be the one selling the bag of goods. If we're not the genuine article...who will be?

So, don't be the one adding to the facade. Don't be caught pawning off a varied version of reality. And don't - I repeat, DO NOT - expect a Suburban to actually be a Suburban or a suite to be as sweet as you think. And the next time you arrive an hour early for your flight...expect to hear the magic word: OVERSOLD.

October 6, 2008

Putting Out the Fires of Frustration

Ah, the Whispering Elephant...the "dainty morsel"...the cancer of gossip. For far too long it has run amuck in our midst. Yesterday we talked about the need for the people of God to grab this unity-killer by the scruff of the neck and toss him out the back door. Gossip has NO place in the body of Christ.

This morning I was reading in Joshua 22 where Joshua blesses the Eastern tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh) and finally allows them to return home. They have served the rest of the Israelites and it is now their turn to take their land, their families, and their tribes and make a home for themselves. But something interesting happens when they're exiting Canaan - they build an altar. This seems harmless, right? What's the big deal? Well, the rest of Israel hears about this - in other words, they got 2nd and 3rd hand information - and they were furious, gathered everyone together, and "prepared to go to war against their brother tribes." Apparently, this is about to get really ugly, really fast!

But some smart, level-headed, rational person (or group of people) suggested, "Maybe we should send a delegation to talk to them and find out WHAT they actually built and WHY." What a genius! So this delegation crosses the river and lets the people have it - they hit them with the "How dare you's" and "What were you thinking" and then someone finally shut up long enough to let them explain. "...let all Israel know...that we have not built an altar for ourselves to turn away from the Lord...but as a memorial." Oh....uhhh....right. Well....carry on then!

In all seriousness, even though this "delegation" appears to have approached with a bit of an assuming attitude, they came nonetheless. And THAT is the point. The Israelites got this bad information based on someone's ill-conceived idea of WHAT their brother tribes were doing and WHY and spread it to the people. They were ready to go to war and throw down judgement and wrath in one fail swoop. There wasn't going to be anymore of this rebelling against the Lord and placing all the people in jeopardy. But instead of acting any further on assumption - instead of passing on this "fire of frustration" and allowing it to escalate into a full fledged inferno - they went to the source. They did the right thing. They acted with integrity and allowed the people whose integrity, character, and actions were in question to answer and defend themselves. And thousands of years later, we can all thank God! And hopefully learn from their courage.

"Today we know the Lord is among us because you have not sinned against the Lord as we thought. Instead, you have rescued Israel from being destroyed by the Lord." And they never would have known this if they had let the gossip go one step further!

So the question for us is, will we allow the people of God - the Body of Christ - to be torn down and torn apart because we fan the "fires of frustration"? Or will we put our foot down and demand that if it doesn't "build up" that we're not going to "put up" with it any longer, from ourselves or anyone else?

Remember: the Whispering Elephant is really just a BIG FAT CHICKEN! 

Proverbs 29:11, 26:20-22

October 2, 2008

Convenience And His Cousin

Convenience. That's what life is all about, really. Am I right or what? I mean, seriously, we live & breathe & function to constantly find a better way to make everything in our life this well-oiled machine of squeaky clean convenience. "Yes, I need my oil changed. And while I wait I'm going to get a manicure, have some lunch, and go buy a new garden hose and some cat food." Praise you O deity of convenience, who makes our lives so sweet!

OK, so maybe you don't need a new garden hose and if you're like me, you definitely don't have any need for cat food, but if you have any objectivity and any guts you have to admit...this is US! And it's not that there's something inherently wrong with convenience - we're just trying to be efficient stewards of our time, right? No, the problem exists when we allow our quest and obsession with our own convenience to blind us with ignorance to the rest of the world. For instance, is it ever convenient to pull over and help that person you've never met change the flat on their Toyota? No. Is it ever convenient to take 1/2 the day off and help a friend re-route the flood water out of their backyard? I don't think so. Or how about spending an hour listening to someone who just needs a compassionate ear - where does that rank on the Convenience Scale? How about a 1 out of 10!

The Book of Ecclesiastes is possibly the most erratic and bizarre book in the Bible. It could actually be used to make a case that Solomon took hallucinogens. But in all seriousness, it is packed full of these very sporadic but truthful and insightful messages that are still painfully relevant even today. In Ecclesiastes 8:5-6, Solomon says, "Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right. Yes, there is a time and a way for everything, even as people's troubles lie heavily upon them." Excuse me while I catch my breath from being slugged in the gut and called a slacker! Do these sound like words of convenience? Does this sound like a message that is ringing very loudly or clearly in our Walmart World of Wonder? I read this and think, "When was the last time I got out of my own way, saw a need in someone's life, forgot about whether or not my Levi's got dirty, and stepped up to the plate?" And let's add some insult to injury by erasing and invalidating all my excuses like, "Oh, I'm sick" or "I had an appointment to get to" or even "That just wouldn't have been safe!" That's my favorite.

Our lives can become a string of days and events and decisions that, all linked together, might be called a journey. How bad would it sting to reach the end of the journey and realize that your destination was convenience? Break out the champagne! Have a cigar! We've done it! We've reached the ultimate destination! We're there man!

I don't think so.

I think our new best friend's name would be Regret. Yes, Convenience is the road to Regret.

And up to this point in my life, Regret and I have not been the best of pals. In fact, I pretty much hate his guts! He laughs at me and calls me names and points out all my fears and flaws. Jerk! Why in the world would I want to be friends with him?

Yes, the secret's out. Convenience and Regret are related. Their cousins; sort of like Bo & Luke Duke. (Sorry, couldn't resist!) And if you're like me, you don't want them in your day, in your home, or anything to do with them. So how do we avoid them? Solomon says we're to "...find a time and a way to do what is right." There you have it. 

And make sure you just go ahead and realize that while the remote and the snooze button will not be happy with this decision, there not the ones who have to live with the Regret.