Sunday, August 26, 2007

Emily's New Blog

Here's the link to Emily's new blog. Her's is much more interesting than the bore you receive here, so be sure to check it out as the school year progresses to hear all about how ministry in Arlington is going. Thanks.
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Tomorrow is my first day of school. Really excited/anxious/about-to-throw-up...that's how I'm feeling. Prayers, please. More to come...
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pic of the day:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Paul and Transition

As one chapter of my life wraps up this week I have been reflecting on the life of Paul. I think he knew a thing or two about transition. Paul stayed months, even years, in one place spending his life for the sake of the gospel, before moving on to the next place of ministry. No doubt it was difficult for him to follow the Lord’s calling after pouring so much into people he loved, and was loved by. But he faithfully obliged.

Like Paul, I have been privileged to have poured out my life to an incredible group of students and families these past 5 years. And, like his ministry, the church at Grapevine has constantly loved, encouraged, challenged, and affirmed Emily and I. In the process I have learned a great deal about myself, ministry, and what it means to truly follow Christ.

So it is only appropriate at this time that I borrow some of Paul’s words from Philippians 1 to express my gratitude and love to those who've made the past 5 years so very rich:

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Thanks for the many sweet memories--I love you all deeply.
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pic of the day:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


This is my last week at Grapevine. I first came here as a naive and immature intern in the summer of 2002, and then joined the staff in January 2005. But it is time for a change. My new job as a junior high coach and math teacher in Arlington begins in two weeks, and I am very, very excited.
It's bittersweet though. Sunday we'll say goodbye to kids and family who've done nothing but love and challenge me the past 5 years. As I pack up my office, hang out with kids, and look back on all the Lord has taught me and brought me through, I can't help but feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by his faithfulness, and affirmed in this next step. More reflections to come....
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pic of the day:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rich in Christ Part 3: Rich Young Ruler Matthew 19:20 the rich young man says he has kept all the commands. Yet he still sensed something was missing. In these few words is revealed a great truth when it comes to following Christ and becoming rich in him.

This weekend we’ve talked a lot about looking for value in possessions or parties or relationships or how we look or dress. And we all know that those things leave us unsatisfied. Well here this guy, a good kid, well-rounded educated, religious kid is still lacking something. Being a good person, or going to church, or looking right on the outside, doesn’t make us rich in Christ. Those things simply cannot because Christ desires relationships, not religion.

The harshest words he spoke in scripture, the people he had the most problems with were the Pharisees, the overly religious people. The people who outwardly looked like they had it all together but who inwardly were nothing but walking tombs, empty.

In John 5:39-42 he tells people that you don’t find riches in memorizing scripture, or being smart, or looking good, or even coming to church. You can only receive true riches, true life, from ME.

That’s a hard lesson and it took me awhile to learn it--that just going to church and trying to be known as a good person still left me lacking. It wasn’t until I realized that Jesus was more concerned about me coming into a relationship with him. I tell the kids I work with in TX all the time that this world doesn’t need any more good people, or nice folks. This world needs Godly, Christ-like men and women to bring his love to people, to offer others the LIFE he has given them.

When the young man asks, "What do I still lack," Jesus' reply is this. "Go sell everything, give it all up, and come follow me. Jesus tells him to get rid of everything that keeps you from me. Quit holding on to the things that are safe and comfortable. You don’t need that stuff, it’s only going to distract you. Because if you want to be rich in me it’s going to cost you everything. All that you got.

And the really sad thing is he couldn’t let go of it. His outward unwillingness revealed the inner condition of his heart. The young man is grieved/distressed b/c he thought he was one easy step away from having it all. And I guess he was, but it was a big step. A COSTLY step.

Now here’s where I have to tell you something scary. Did you know this was the only example, the only person in scripture who we see come to Jesus and walk away empty handed. Everyone else who comes to Christ leaves different, leaves fulfilled and saved. But not this man.

I don’t know how to say this more plainly, but our STUFF gets in the way of us following Christ. Jesus said in verse 21, if you want to have treasure in heaven, if you want to truly be rich, then it’s going to cost you everything. And that’s hard for you and me to really wrap our minds around isn’t it. Because if you want to get specific, what does we it cost us to follow Christ? EVERYTHING. Friends, family, possession, comfort, time, ourselves, our desires, money, everything....
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pic of the day:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rich in Christ Part 2: Jesus Redefines Wealth Luke 12, there is a rich man who tears down the barns he has (already rich) and makes plans to build bigger ones, as he prepares to be even richer. We tend to think if we can save enough, store enough, prepare enough then life will be easy. That’s what we’re looking for: to take it easy, eat, drink, and be merry.

But Jesus steps in and reminds us how foolish we are. No, no, no, no, no, you’ve got it all wrong. He flips our plans upside down and says, "Guess what, you’re going to die, and you don’t get to choose when that is. And, you don’t really have anything. It’s on loan. It’s all going to end up at a rummage sale or in a landfill, being picked over by people who you probably wouldn’t want to smell."

The longer I live the more I realize that we’re completely selfish people. Jesus isn’t telling us here to be afraid of possessions, but warning us against becoming satisfied by them.

How many of you have a cell phone? Cool. Well I’m not much older than you all, but I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 21. I’ve got junior high kids in TX that have them and I’m like, you don’t need that. Anyways, so what normally happens. We get one, we text, we love it, then one comes out with a color screen. Ooohhh, I gotta get that one. Then a phone with a camera. Then that’s no longer cool. Then one that plays music. Then one that does your homework. Then one that drives your car, washes your dog, votes in the next election, pretty soon cell phones take over the world! Ok, not really. But do you see what I’m getting at, really what Jesus is getting at?

I think he’s pointing out to us that we’re never satisfied. We aren’t. And you know why? OPTIONS. We love options. We can go to a burger place and get nachos. Go to a Mexican food place and get burgers. Go to a Chinese place and get chicken fingers. 200 channels on TV. Don’t wanna dig through my cd’s, BAM, 6000 songs on my iPod. XM radio, more options.

We’re obsessed with having options. And the thing is, all these options are killing us. They are absolutely killing us. They cloud our lives, they trouble our hearts, bring anxiety to our souls. Like the rich man in the parable said: WHAT SHALL I DO?

And so what happens is, we can’t even enjoy what we have, because we’re always looking down the road to what is next. Next semester, next year, even next week. If only I could afford this, if only she would go out with me, if only I looked like this, if only…and our lives are empty and without depth and gratitude because of it. We can’t live in the future or waiting for what’s next b/c we miss out on the blessings of life here and now with Christ.

Anybody here ever feel like that? Feel burdened, exhausted by playing games in the world? By worrying, having anxiety bearing down on your soul?

Fortunately there’s hope, there’s an answer that Jesus gives. He tells us there is no connection between our stuff and really deep life. He knows what we need. He does and he will provide. What does he want us to do? Seek first his kingdom. Seek him first, stop being weighed down by all these options, we can rest from being burdened by anxieties, b/c He is our best option. If we pursue Christ, like a hidden treasure, if we chase after him, then not he’ll take care of the rest of this. He will.

He’s our treasure, he will satisfy our needs. He is what makes us rich. All these options, all these possessions that we store up, they’re going to end up at a rummage sale, or at the dump. They will. But Jesus beckons us to store up a purse, to seek a treasure that won’t fade away, that can’t be taken from us. He calls us to seek first His Kingdom, to pursue HIM as our treasure. And he says when we do that, not only will he provide for our needs, but our hearts will find peace and rest and abundance in him.
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pic of the day:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rich in Christ Part I: Solomon

Segment of Part 1 from a retreat I did for some super cool high school kids in east Tennessee a few months back. Enjoy.
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Solomon spent his life pursuing wealth, power, possessions, and women. Extravagant palaces, huge kingdom, 700 wives, everything to the greatest extremes--and he found it all meaningless. Quite possibly one of the riches and wealthiest guys in history, and he says it himself, “I missed it, I missed out on the real treasure.”

In Proverbs 2 Solomon shares with us what that “one thing” is we’re all looking for; he points out our treasure.

It’s the Lord, it’s a connection, an understanding of who he is and what he does for you. Scripture says God is more precious than valuable stones or anything else. Granddaddy Solomon is pleading with us to listen to his advice. There’s no value in the riches this world offers: power, possessions, prosperity.

Notice the verbs here he uses in chapter 2 to describe our quest: “accept, store up, turn, apply, call out, cry aloud, search, look for.” This idea of searching for him like silver or like a hidden treasure, it’s an unoccupied pursuit. He’s the hidden treasure, the ONE THING that is worth searching for, worth pursuing. And if anyone knows this, it’s Solomon.

There lived a great missionary/explorer in the mid 1800’s named David Livingstone. He was Scottish and very poor, but first European to see Victoria Falls and the headwaters of the Nile River. Livingstone spent his whole life telling the people of Africa about God, venturing into the deepest jungles. A man who knew well the one thing worth pursuing, he did so with everything he had, for everyone he ever met.

There’s a point in his ministry in Africa when some people back home wanted to come visit him to see the work he’s been doing and witness firsthand the amazing things he’d written about. So they sent word and asked him, “Have you found a good, smooth road to where you are?”

And David Livingstone writes back to them, “If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.

So I wanna close tonight with this question: what would you pursue if there was no road at all? Would it be the Lord?
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pic of the day:

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Greatest Tragedy

“I am convinced the Christian faith is the most attractive and desirable option one can discover—a pearl of great wisdom. Further, Jesus Christ is the most attractive and desirable person to ever walk the face of the earth.
The greatest tragedy of all time is that His attractiveness, beauty, and grace is obscured by the cobwebs of religion.”
- John Miller, long time minister of the Gospel

These words convicted me this week in view of a world around me full of lost souls. How guilty am I of letting my “religion” too often shield hurting people from experiencing the splendor of Christ. How often have I wasted opportunities to display the wonderful love of the Savior because of a petty hang-up. How many times do I get in the way instead of stepping aside for Jesus to take center stage.

This week, as I seek to allow the attractiveness of Christ shine in my life uninhibited, I am thankful for a God who is patient with me.
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pic of the day:

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Becoming Less

I am a little over 6 feet tall, and yet there have been more than a few times in my life where I have felt considerably small. For instance, last week in Colorado, standing at the base of Mount Princeton gazing up at it's snowy peak, I felt tiny. Or this past Tuesday, driving by the new Cowboy's stadium in Arlington, I felt like a shrimp.

I've got a hunch though that none of these compare to how small John the Baptist felt as he stood next to the Son of God in the murky waters of the Jordan. John, a true man’s man, a guy’s guy, had to have felt like a spec of nothing as he dipped Jesus into the current and saw the Spirit descending on the much-anticipated Messiah. Later, when asked to compare his ministry with Jesus', John responds in an interesting way. When we speaks of Jesus, he simply says, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

As I consider my ministry to this broken world, these words must be taken to heart. Like John, I too need to become less. Less selfish and more concerned about the hurting and abandoned around me. Less self-reliant and more dependent on Christ and in tune with his ways. Lord, bless us all as we seek to become less.
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pic of the day:

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I like to travel. Especially when it is to see Emily. In fact, I've probably traveled more in the past 18 months than I have the previous 18 years (yeah for frequent flyer miles).

Tomorrow I'm going to Colorado for a week for Emily's assignment at Frontier Ranch. It's a bittersweet deal because while I'm excited about spending a week alongside her working with the summer staff, reality will sweep in as I fly home next Saturday knowing we won't see eachother for another 3 weeks. Stinks.

However, a good friend reminded me this week how great time apart can be. What he meant by that was that even though it's tough when you're away, it makes coming home to each other that much better. You appreciate your time together even more.

With the nature of our jobs and summer schedules, being apart isn't anything new to us. And as I try my hardest to fall asleep tonight (I'm so pumped about tomorrow it might be awhile), I will whisper words of thanks to the Lord, for the faithfulness and provision he allows to abundantly fall in our life. It is going to be a memorable week.

Did I mention I don't miss my bachelor all.
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pic of the day:

Friday, May 11, 2007

Too Much

Too many thoughts in my head to sort through this week. So instead of a real post, here's a few scattered pieces of what's going on in our world.

We spent an unbelievable weekend back in Oak Ridge, Tennessee doing a retreat for some of our good friends there. If there's one thing East Tennesseeans have got (besides gorgeous country) it's a knack for cooking good food. It seems all we ever do when we go visit is eat, and eat well. Lucky for me, the woman I married aquired some recipes and skills during her two years there, of which I am now reaping the benefits. Everything about the retreat was great: the lake house, kids, leaders, worship, games, and program. The Lord really blessed us with a "rich" weekend (more on that to come).

I came back early Sunday for a full day of events with the GCOC, including our last SNL of the year, coupled with a youth group family cookout. We had a great night being together and celebrating all the Lord accomplished this past school year. To highlight the night were two huge egg and waterballoon toss competitions, pitting parent/student teams against one another. Who knew such a silly game could be such a hit.

This afternoon we're headed to Abilene for Hannah and Kyle's graduation. This will be the first time we've been with much of our family since the wedding so we are really looking forward to a weekend in their good company. Nothing like a May weekend in Abilene and a trip to Joe Allen's!

And lastly, I've mentioned this many times before, but again in the craziness of this week I am overwhelmed by the constant faithfulness of the Lord. His provision and presence in our lives is perfect, for he keep opening doors and leading our lives in a way that is powerful and full of hope. Oh Lord, you have been good.
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pic of the day:

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dinner Lesson

Awhile back, Emily and I were invited to eat dinner with a student at his favorite restaurant. Throughout the meal, several of the wait staff and managers came up to our table to say hi and chat with this young man. You know that old theme song from Cheers, “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name?” Well in this case they actually did—and it was obvious he had formed some neat relationships with an entire restaurant just by showing up there to eat every Wednesday night.

What made the whole experience extra special is that I got to witness one of our young men bring the light of Christ into that restaurant. And all it took was a warm smile and kind spirit, week after week. This had become a part of his rhythm of life.

There's a lot of talk in Christian circles these days about the concept of missioinal living. How humbling and yet refreshing to see it exemplified in a 12-year-old.

So I ask myself, am I carrying the love of Christ into my daily circles of life. Do the people who cut my hair, sell me groceries, change my oil, serve me food, see Christ in me? Lord, thank you for blessing my life with students who teach me how to live more like Jesus.
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pic of the day:

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Last night in my junior high class we discussed the Virginia Tech massacre, and I asked my kids a simple question: why? Why did this happen? What ensued was an interesting and honest conversation, and I was fascinated by some of their insights.

There's a tiny book of the Bible written by a man named Habakkuk, who's dialogue with God Almighty includes him asking God some very tough and honest questions. As you read the book you can almost here the frustration in his words as Habakkuk brings up some difficult issues to God. He knows that God is compassionate and merciful by nature, and yet he is baffled by the injustice and evil that often prevails in the world.

The very fact that Habakkuk (as well as us today in the aftermath of Monday's events) is enraged at what he sees going on around him in the world points us to the fact that there is some other standard by which we live, one higher and purer that what we currently exist in. Last night I told my kids that it is ok to feel sad and confused and even a bit angry, because God's response to Habakkuk is the same as his response to us today.

The righteous will live by faith.

We know God is not responsible for the events of Monday (I'm so tired of hearing people say, "God must have been trying to teach us a lesson.") It grieves God when He sees sin/evil (the results of humanity's rejection of Him) reeking havoc on His people.

But we must respond with faith, trusting that He is waiting to come take us home, not waiting to extend our suffering, but only so He can extend His mercy to those who don't know his Son. We must find peace in the fact that He is not slow in keeping his promises.

Lord this is a tough time, with lots of tough questions. Thank you for being with us during times like this, thank you for giving us peace even when we don't understand, thank you for giving us faith to trust in your unfailing love for this world.
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pic of the day:

Friday, April 13, 2007

(Good) Changes

Loving it.

More to come...
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pic of the day:

Friday, March 09, 2007

8 days...

It’s almost here.

Just a few short days until Emily and I married—until I get to be her husband. This also means only eight more days and the planning, worrying, and stressing over the wedding will come to an end. Next Saturday can’t get here soon enough.

Recently though a wise friend advised me to enjoy this next week, not just endure it. He reminded me that in the midst of all this busyness and chaos there is something beautiful taking place, something holy. Paul describes it as a great mystery.

This unique process of two becoming one is just that, a process; a path to be walked. Talking to those "veterans" of marriage, I'm told there will be ups and downs. Yet it's not necessarily about the destination, but intead the journey alongside the partner God uniquely created for man, for me. Praise Him for his perfection and faithfulness.
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pics of the day (my favorite of Em, and one for my sentimental mom):

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Grapevine's J-Mac

Just as good as the original J-Mac story:

Grapevine J-Mac


17 days...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Swallowed in the Sea

Human beings were created with purpose, not on accident. A relational God formed us with the intention that we would find true life in Him. Last week these lyrics from Coldplay's "Swallowed in the Sea" hit me in a new way. I feel like they speak truth concerning the Spirit that yearns deep inside of us:

Oh what good is it to live
With nothing left to give
Forget but not forgive
Not loving all you see

Oh the streets you're walking on
A thousand houses long
Well that's where I belong
And you belong with me
Not swallowed in the sea

I love the verse in Ecclesiastes 3 that say God has set eternity in the hearts of men. There is something inside of us that longs to break out of this temporary shell. Something that cries out for a home everlasting; for intimate community with our Creator. Something that believes we belong to Him.

And we do belong with Him. We do. Not engulfed by the world; not swept through the broad gate of destruction that so many find. But created, purposed, intended to dwell with our Heavenly Father, both now and forever.
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I have decided to alternate pic of the day with a new feature, video of the day.

video of the day (thanks Heath) :
GSP Sing Song '07- Sixth in a Row

Friday, February 16, 2007

Conversion Story

Lately I have been listening to Matt Chandler podcasts when I drive to and from Arlington to see Emily. The one playing late last night on my way home talked about what occurs when the "love of Christ slams into a person's soul" for the first time. I think this article is a perfect example of what happens: Born Again.
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pic of the day:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

a month...

When you're engaged, life is full of choices. Lately Emily and I have been faced with many: what kind of plates, towels, chargers (?), sheets, and silverware we are going to use. Which waffle maker, cheese grater, muffin pan, napkin ring, and spoon rest do we like best (I’m still trying to figure out exactly what is a napkin ring and charger). The colors for our bathroom (my vote for Mavs’ green and blue got shot down); invitations and stamps; dresses and tuxes; attendants, cakes, music, flowers…the choices never end. I mean I had no clue there was going to be 68 options for a salad fork. Fortunately for me, Emily does most of the choosing while I try to nod my head and say things like, “Whatever you want, dear.”

Life is full of choices. In Deuteronomy 30 God cuts down our options. He says we must choose between life and death, between His blessing and His curse. Pretty simple decision, right? And yet so many other “options” clutter our lives that we often fail to pursue what God desires for us.

This week I pray that we will make wise decisions. I pray that God will quiet the subtle voice of futility that Satan whispers in our ears. And I pray that we will all opt to pursue the One who is constantly pursuing us; that we will all choose life (and the right duvet cover).
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pic of the day:

Friday, February 09, 2007

36 days...

A collection of random thoughts, as I sit a mere 869 hours away from marriage...
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He could not do any miracles there, excepty lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

Personally, this passage is like a spiritual punch to the gut. A question resonates in my soul: "How is my lack of faith keeping Christ's Spirit from moving and working?" Troubled by this, I wonder if my less-than-mustard seed faith is holding back our kids (as well as me) from truly experiencing the fullness found in Christ?

I get frustrated because so much of my ministry seems to stem from my own efforts or energy, without much asking (and expecting) of God. Lord help me change this; help me mature in faith; teach me to trust, to ask, and to expect.
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Wade Phillips, though lacking in flare and pizazz (probably a good thing), will be a good fit for the Cowboys. He's a proven defensive guy (which we desperately need), and, like Dungy and Lovie Smith, does things the "right" way.
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Here's an interesting quote from an AP article What Drew us to Anna Nichole by Jocelyn Noveck (notice bolded part):
" show host Joy Behar...trying to put her finger on why we watched this strange woman over the years, she came up with two things: Dysfunction. And beauty. "No question, she was beautiful," said Behar, of ABC's The View. "We know people like to watch dysfunction. But beauty gives you something extra to look at. Dysfunction and beauty: Now that's something to watch.""
What a sad reflection of the brokeness of humanity; that the dysfunction of others is actually appealing to us.
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pic of the day:

Thursday, February 01, 2007

44 days...

February has arrived, with March 17th just lurking around the corner...
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I was humbled today as I read Luke 9:57-62 and was reminded of the cost of following Jesus:
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." NIV
The three encounters Luke records here all spoke a different truth into my life. Even when I willingly take the iniative to follow like the first man, I fall short in realizing the magnitude of the cost of becoming a true disciple of Christ. Jesus speaks of his own homelessness here, and beckons us to give up all the comforts of life to pursue his way.

With the second man's situation, I am reminded that even our most urgent priorities pale in comparisson to the urgency of the Kingdom. Not that burying one's father is unimportant, but we are shown that it is secondary; for essentialy if we fail to do it someone else will take care of it. However, the matters of the Kingdom will be left unattended unless we treat them with the urgency that Jesus demonstrated.

And lastly, I am really humbled by the third encounter, for it is the place I often find myself in; telling God I'm ready to go, but then making an excuse. The words of Christ are strong here, stating that those who fall prey to hesitation are not fit for service in God's Kingdom. Not fit, unworthy, useless.

Lord, forgive me for hesitating. Forgive me for living without urgency, for not considering the cost of belonging fully to you, for being useless. Help me deny myself, help me pick up my cross, and help me follow you today.
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pic of the day:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

53 days...

It has been awhile since I posted (my bad) and much as transpired in that time:

- An insane period of about three weeks traveling to Boerne for Christmas and Emily's birthday, then to Austin to see my family, back to Arlington, then to WinterPark for a very fun Young Life Ski Trip where I got snowed in for 2 extra days and missed being with Emily on our 1 year anniversary (she had left early to go to Phoenix for Kim's wedding), then back to Grapevine, then back to Colorado Springs that same day for the National Conference on Youth Ministry, and then finally back home. Fun times though for sure.

- Another crazy Young Life trip, this one a Polar Bear weekend to Huntsville of all places, that was almost extended by icy weather and bad roads, thus keeping me here. Emily and crew made it home safe though.

- A strange period of a week and a half where the sun failed to show its face the temperature hovered around 30. Lots of ice and a few snow days to boot.

- A weekend at Winterfest with the youth group. We saw some old friends and had a great time with my kids.

As Emily and I look ahead there is much excitement/busyness looming, as showers, retreats, family visits, YL/church events, and trips have consumed every weekend until the wedding. I'm looking forward to it all though, and sit a mere 53 days away from marriage. Absolutely can't wait.
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pic of the day, Martin Young Life Christmas Card: