Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Prayers please

Had a great retreat this weekend...thanks for your prayers.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Ukraine for two weeks. There are six people from church going and we will be visiting/encouraging the missionaries and orphanages we support there. I'll also spend a considerable amount of time initiating some new camp work in the Crimea, where we went a few summers ago. There are so many different emotions and feelings running through me right now that I can barely sort through them all. It is hard to believe that I am getting to return to a place I love and have longed to visit again (though I doubted I would) and that I'm going to see some friends we made at Smena who I had never expected to see again. So crazy.

In still hasn't settled in that I'm going back, but nonetheless I am pumped about this opportunity and looking forward to what the Lord has in store for us. Please keep us in your prayers--thanks.
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pic of the day, from Mize:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Are you in love with Jesus?

I first read Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus for a class Church Leadership my junior year (taught by Eddie Sharp and one of my favorite classes I took at ACU, though I know Austin wouldn't agree, sorry bud). Since that time I have tried to reread the short book every year to sort of draw me back to the heart of God. Nouwen is such a gifted writer with a knack for putting deep truths, often concerning spiritual formation and ministry, in the simplest of terms. If you've never read Nouwen I would highly recommend diving into this book (you can pretty much read the whole thing in an hour or two). Here's an exert I reread today that is just beautiful:

This rejected, unknown, wounded Jesus simply asked, "Do you love me, do you really love me?" He whose only concern had been to announce the unconditional love of God had only one question to ask, "Do you love me?"

The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? Perhaps another way of putting the question would be: Do you know the incarnate God? In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal. In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred. It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response. It is a heart that suffers immensely because it sees the magnitude of human pain and the great resistance to trusting the heart of God who wants to offer consolation and hope.

The Christian leader of the future is one who truly knows the heart of God as it has become flesh, "a heart of flesh," in Jesus. Knowing God's heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce and reveal that God is love and only love, and that every time fear, isolation, or despair begins to invade the human soul, this is not something that comes from God. This sounds very simple and trite, but very people know they are loved without any condition or limits.

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Headed to Oklahoma tomorrow for our Spring Retreat. The whole weekend is centered around the theme LOST and we're really excited to see what God does. Please keep us in your prayers.
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pic of the day:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Happy Easter

Blogger is killing me. I posted twice last week about Passion week and it wouldn't publish them. Oh well, hopefully this one will work.
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Here are some pictures from a truly great weekend in Boerne:

The Kids (and dogs)


Austin killed a snake

Dinner on the Riverwalk (before the Lion King)

Bunny Time

Easter with Emily

Monday, April 10, 2006

Little Decisions

Interesting thought to chew on today from C.S. Lewis:

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparent trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.

I had to read this a few times before I felt I understood some of what he was talking about. The little things in life do matter, our choices, thoughts, and words all have lasting implications, for the good of the kingdom or for the Deceiver's advantage. Forming good habits, finding joy in the everyday "tasks," dying to ourselves and following God's will--these will enable us to achieve great victories down the road.
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Three great wins by the Mavs in the past week. If we can keep it up over the last five games (and get Devin and Adrian back healthy) then who knows what the playoffs may bring.

Wish I could say the same for the boys of Arlington. C'mon Rangers...
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pic of the day:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Learning to listen...again

People who don’t listen frustrate me. And when it is Christians who don’t listen, to other Christians as well as non-Christians, that really frustrates me (and for the record I would like to first say that I fall into both of these categories way too often). But I've been thinking lately, how can we truly give love to people if we don’t first give them a chance? How is the world supposed to see Christ in us when we write people off before we take the time to hear who they are and what they need? There seems to be a strong connection between listening and loving.

I think fear is largely behind many circumstances where we (myself included) don’t listen to people. It seems sometimes that Christians are afraid of even listening to other people share their beliefs, regardless of what those might be. But what do we have to be afraid of?? Listening, seeking to understand people, is not a sin but is something Jesus demonstrated and prioritized in his ministry. It is more than okay to have meaningful, honest conversation with people who hold different beliefs and views than us—I say it is imperative. I think a lot of people are afraid of being proven wrong or maybe don’t like to argue (which I/ve never been one for conflict). But we should always hold up the good news of Christ and use the Gospel lense to look into our world and the claims being made.

People long to be loved—to receive love at different levels and in various forms. There are several ways of communicating and sharing love to others, assorted love languages if you will (there ya go Linds King). But unless we listen to people and look deep into their hearts then we are incapable of effectively loving them in the fullness of the Spirit. We can say we love and even do things that show them love, but they will never fully know and experience the penetrating love that can reach the darkest corners of their lives, erasing fear and uncertainty from within. We must listen, listen, and listen some more, in order to love better, love purer, love more completely. Lord forgive me for not listening and for being close-minded. Help me listen with the ears and a heart like Jesus'.
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pic of the day:

Monday, April 03, 2006

"Our glory and joy"

Everyone has tough days, the kind that frustrate you to no end. In a life of ministry these days seem to be more frequent than I would like. There are all sorts of things that Satan tosses in front of me to get me discouraged: church politics, my own impatience and inexperience, flat out persecution, kids who you can't engage no matter how hard you pursue them, yada yada yada.

Just when I get ready to lose it though the Lord with out fail sends a refreshing cue into my life. And most of the time it is my kids who fill this role. My kids are the ones who keep me going, who remind me why I'm here and how fortunate I am. Their energy and innocence refuels me when I am running on empty. The look in their eyes, one of hunger in the midst of their search for something real, something pure, is what pushes me to give them more of myself. They have a way of making things right and not "too serious." I love them and am forever thankful for their presence in my life.

As I pray for them today, these words of Paul seem to perfectly fit my feelings toward them: For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy. 1 Thess. 3:19
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pic of the day: