Monday, May 22, 2006

Rangers Baseball

I was able to make it to the Astros-Rangers game this weekend in Houston thanks to some wonderful tickets from my buddy Nick Shock. We were really suffering for the Lord that night with free parking right next to the entrance, seats five rows behind the visitor dugout, and free passes to the club level (where we could get our ballpark nachos without waiting in line). All in all, it reminded me of so many baseball games that I went to as a kid to see the Rangers in the old Arlington Stadium, and it made me want to share the gift of baseball with my sons. I can't even compare the difference of being at the game with trying to watch it on TV. Baseball on TV is one of those great activities to do when you want the TV on, but need to really work on something else. But baseball at the park is an experience...keeping score on the program, the smell of hot dogs & nachos, the sticky beer & soda mix under your feet, the drunk guy who always finds his way to your section by the bottom of the seventh inning. To me, you can't put a price tag on the whole experience...well, maybe you can & maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much more since someone gave us the tickets. ;)

And, are we all cheering for the Mavs to bring it home in game 7 tonight? Go Mavs!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Big 6

As if doing seminary graduation & a birthday in the same week is not enough action, today is my six year wedding anniversary! May has turned into a crazy month of the year in my life, but it is always fun. I am reminded today of how amazing God has been to me in giving me a wife of rock-solid character, unbridled joy, loving compassion, and boundless energy. I am thankful that I have been called to love and lead a woman who is so easy to love and lead. Barie is a great mom and wife, & she is an unbelievable woman of God. I'm thankful for every single day I get to spend with her. I hope that all of you who are looking for right person to spend the rest of your life with are able to follow my example by marrying way above yourself & marrying your best friend. Here's me asking God for fifty more years with the most awesome person I know.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Big 2-7

So, tomorrow is another birthday for me. Age is a funny thing, especially when you go from being the old guy in the youth ministry role (if I heard one more time about driving a mini-van or having two kids) to being the young guy in the church planting role. It feels good to be turning 27 (I'm not sure why that feels more mature right now), but I am thankful that I'm at least not thirty (wink at Darin). All my students in Ovilla were sure that I was heading down the cliff of old age and that they would see me out mowing the yard in my dress socks any day. Here in Austin, however, I find it hard to convince anyone I'm over 18. Oh well, I like to have fun with it. The other day a sales guy from Time Warner cable came to the door asking about our cable service and trying to sell me some type of new package. About half way through the sales pitch that I didn't want to hear, I thought for moment, "I should tell this guy that my dad's not home right now to make a decision on your offer." He totally would have believed me. Here's my thanks to God for His gift of another great year of life.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Movie Review: Walk the Line

This movie is your typical messed-up music star life story, with plenty of drugs, drinking, extramarital sex, etc. going on in the life of Johnny Cash. While the man was obviously a musical genius, like so many who find fame, the depravity of man simply overwhelms any joy or peace he might find. The story reminded me a lot of Ray, where drug addiction and lack of self-control with the ladies led to all kinds of personal problems and broken relationships. I am glad that the movie did little to glorify Cash's lifestyle, but simply laid out the results of his choices. The surprising part of the story to me, however, was the incredibly broken relationship that Cash had with his dad. I appreciate the force with which the movie shows how Cash's pain over being rejected by his dad caused him years of problems. While Johnny Cash is obviously responsible for his own actions throughout his life, I couldn't help be reminded of the huge role we play as dads in the lives of our sons and daughters. I know that I go to bed each night thinking about my stewardship responsibility before God with my boys. I hope that all of us who are parents take seriously the role that we play in training up our kids.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A mother's day salute...

to my mom, now affectionately known as Momma E. to the grandkids:

Thanks for giving me such a passion for family, by showing me the priority of sacrificing my own interests for the sake of my family. You have always demonstrated your love for our whole family.

Thanks for being hard headed and stubborn, for teaching me how to stand on my own two feet, to be an individual, and not just follow the crowd. You have always taught me to lead well.

Thanks for helping me get through high school, college, and seminary in one piece.

Thanks for loving me patiently through the years.

and to my wife, the love of my life, now affectionately known as ma-ma by our one year old:

Thanks for teaching me what true strength is by giving your all to two toddlers all day long while pushing through the third trimester of the third pregnancy. I now know why God designed women to have the babies.

Thanks for giving of yourself to me and the kids with expecting nothing in return - except lots of hugs and slobbery kisses.

Thanks for being more like Jesus than anyone else I know.

Thanks for your passion for living, your passion for laughing, and your passion for people.

I love you both.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Great Day...

I had the privilege today of coming back to Dallas to participate in commencement activities at DTS. We had commencement chapel this morning and a family BBQ this evening. It has been awesome to catch up with many classmates I haven't seen in six months and to see how God is leading each of them in their lives. I am encouraged to think of how the body of Christ will be built up and the world impacted by these men and women. I am thankful for the impact that the faculty and students have had in my life. Sometime, I will have to share about some of the unique students I have befriended and where they are serving around the nation and world. While there are certainly things seminary cannot teach you, I would not be the person I am today without the influence of the godly men and women at DTS. I'm looking forward to the official commencement ceremony tomorrow.

The other reason it was a great day? I even had time to catch a nap this afternoon!

What's in my iPod today? Listening to Erwin McManus at Mosaic in LA and Matt Chandler at The Village in Dallas.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Hurdles to Obedience

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and personal encouragement for my preaching at HCBC Pflugerville yesterday. I had a great time preaching, and I am feeling more comfortable with just being myself in the pulpit. I shared from the life of Peter about the barriers we confront in trying to obey God's will. The message can be found HERE on Pflugerville's website (or on their iTunes feed).

I finished Driscoll's book yesterday. What an encouragement to me as a young church planter. He may be one of the best at finding the most creative metaphors to describe life. The book if flat-out hilarious. Started Calvin's Institutes last night (the abridged 200 page version, not the original 1500 page beast). I thought spending some time with him and Luther would help balance my current church-philosophy reading with some historical giants of the faith.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Random Thoughts

It's been a crazy week, so I apologize for being slow at posting this week. I've been out of pocket Monday through Thursday of this week in Dallas and Waco. Monday night, I was on a panel for our church called Frontline, where we did some equipping on how to use the DaVinci Code to help start spiritual conversations and move to the gospel. Afterwards, I took off with a couple other staff guys and we drove to Dallas to join the rest of the staff for the Texas Large Church forum - a two day time of discussions with staffs from other large churches in Texas. It was an interesting time of learning for me. I was able to catch up with a lot of buddies from DTS that I hadn't seen in a while who are on staff a different churches around the metroplex (Fellowship North, Stonebriar, Irving Bible, etc.). It was really great to see them. The forum splits up the staffs according to the areas they lead (all the junior high pastors together, small groups pastors together, etc.) to facilitate learning between churches. I started in the Leadership Development forum on Tuesday (which was too large a category to foster a whole lot of learning - none of the other churches are doing church planting, so I didn't really have peers at the other churches to learn from). But on Wednesday, our pastor invited me into the discussion group with the other senior pastors. A few general observations about what God taught me through the process...

1) While all senior leaders share similar gift mixes (good communicators, strong leaders, team builders, love people), they don't all share those gift mixes in the same order. In other words, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of "A" gifts among the senior pastors of these churches - some felt like preaching was their "A" gift, others felt like leadership was their "A" gift, and so on.

2) All the senior pastors of these churches had different personalities. Again, I was encouraged by the fact that they were all real people with real struggles and real successes. But I was also encouraged by the diversity of the group; it was a good reminder to me of how the Holy Spirit uses all kinds of people in His Kingdom.

3) Training up leaders to replace ourselves and working with other churches are crucial components to seeing the influence of the gospel spread beyond the four walls of our individual church. Part of our struggle as independent, autonomous churches is our tendency to never truly collaborate with other like-minded churches.

Wednesday afternoon, I had an awesome time of catching up with former students and families in Ovilla - it was great to see how they are growing and being used by God in many different ways. I met with a couple that I am marrying in June to do final ceremony plans with them - I love doing ceremonies for students who went through our True Love Waits program and actually made it until marriage. Their wedding will be an awesome time of celebrating the goodness of God and challenging others to follow their example.

Thursday, I caught up with Barie at the farm in Waco (H&R), where we had some down time with the kids and I did some final sermon prep for Sunday; I'm preaching at HCBC Pflugerville tomorrow, and I would appreciate your prayers. I presented my sermon outline to the elders at PF on Friday morning at their regular meeting, and all went well, so I'm excited to share this message with the people at church tomorrow.

Song recommendation of the week - My Jesus by Todd Agnew - powerful message.

Interesting book I'm into this week - Confessions of a Reformission Rev by Driscoll - the story of how Mars Hill Church in Seattle got started and grew to where it is today. Favorite chapter title: Jesus, Our Offering was $137 and I Want to use It to Buy Bullets.

Have a great weekend - I'm off to play some golf this afternoon with a friend from the church - first round of golf in four months - can't wait!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Like I said...

Study HERE showing how few Americans think they need the church to grow spiritually. Ouch.

Kyle Lake's Legacy

I'm excited about what is happening with the effort to remember the life and work of Kyle Lake. I barely knew Kyle, enjoyed lunch with him one time while I was at Baylor, but I was deeply moved by his death last fall, especially since I have young kids as well. Some friends of Kyle are working to put together a short film that captures some ideas from his last sermon and highlights of his life. You can check out their work HERE, where you will find links to the web page with the trailer and the blog of the producers. From all I can tell, it will be a great look at his life and legacy. If you haven't donated to help his family out, you can do so by going to UBC's main website HERE, and following their instructions. Also, Kyle's talk at Catalyst last year about the future of the church can be downloaded off their website for free HERE (scroll to the bottom).