Archive for May, 2010

Crossing The Stage

This has been a big week.  Kristi and I celebrated 20 years of marriage on Wednesday (read about that here) and now our oldest son, Jared, graduates from High School today.  It’s hard to believe that “Jared-Boy” is no longer a boy.  He is quite a young man.

He has grown in so many ways.  When he sets his mind to something, he is going to do well.  He is graduating as distinguished with honors.  We are so proud of him!

Jared, as you cross that stage tonight, you are walking through a doorway that divides the very beginning of life from the rest of it.  Cross through that door with expectation, excitement and hope.  You can do anything you set your mind to do.  Your Mom and I believe in you!

Through out life, we all have milestones, doorways and other markers that serve to show we are growing and progressing.  Never neglect your spiritual growth.  In the end, the only thing of value and meaning is your relationship with Jesus.

We love you!

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Today is the day!  20 years of living under the same roof.  It was 20 years ago today that Kristi and I said, “I Do!”

I am not sure that either of us really understood what the next 20 years would be like, but we knew we wanted to experience them together.  A little known fact is that Kristi and I are a blind date that worked out.  I was in graduate school in Abilene and she was a recent Tech grad working in Midland.

On January 6, 1989, I drove to Midland to meet up with my life long friend and his girlfriend.  They had set the whole thing up.  We went to Kristi’s apartment where she had cooked dinner for all of us – enchilada’s (I still love her enchilada’s).  After we ate we went bowling!  Who would thought that a blind date the ended up in a bowling alley would lead to 20 years of marriage!

The date went well so I asked to see her again the next night.  The Sandhills Rodeo happens each January and so we made the drive over to Odessa the next night to the rodeo.  Thus, began the long distance courting.

We began seeing each other frequently.  We even got to the point we were meeting in the middle – there used to be a neat little country diner in Colorado City (which is between Abilene and Midland).  Before class each day, I worked at UPS as a loader so I had to be at work at 3:30 or 4 am each morning.  There were many times we sat and talked to the point that I drove home in time to change clothes and go to work.

By May of 1989 I was wrapping up most of my graduate classes and began looking at the seminary in Fort Worth.  So in June I moved to Fort Worth.  Now our 3 hour long distance relationship turned to 5 1/2 hours.  Obviously, that continued (with many Southwest flights between Love Field – appropriately named – and Midland Air Terminal.

All of that history to say, our blind date turned into a long distance relationship that resulted in 20 years of happy marriage.  We had never lived in the same town before we married.  Now we have lived under the same roof for 20 years!

Kristi, it has been an amazing ride and I can’t wait to see what the next 20, 30, 40 or 50 years brings our way!

I love you more today than I ever thought possible!

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Last night I couldn’t sleep.  So I got my earbud headphones and listened to the Jesuit devotional, Pray As You Go, devotional for yesterday.

The reading for the day was the story of a man who wanted to know what he needed to do to get to heaven.  Jesus pointed out that he needed to keep the commandments.  The man replied that he had been doing that since birth.  So Jesus responded with the instruction that the man must sell all he had and give the money to the poor and then come follow him.

The account says the man went away grieving because he had many possessions.

Listening to this reading did not help with my inability to sleep, in fact, it gave me something else with which to wrestle.  As I laid there pondering the story, I was reminded that following Jesus is really about surrender.  In order to truly follow Jesus, pleasing him and living as he lived must be our first priority.

This is a daily struggle.  I have mentioned this before but the problem with being a living sacrifice is that we have the ability to constantly crawl off the altar.  Daily we must commit to surrendering our desires to Jesus and taking on his desires as our own.  I can say that over time this becomes a bit easier, but don’t let anyone ever tell you they have it mastered!

So what is Jesus asking you to surrender to today?

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Priority of Marriage

I had the opportunity of performing a wedding ceremony on Saturday.  The young couple came to me last fall and asked if I would do the service.  I had known the bride to be for many years and had only known the young man for the last year or so through the Baptist Student Ministries at South Plains College.

One of the things I require before performing a wedding is that the couple go through premarital counseling.  So they both agreed to meet with me several times over the last two months.

I say all this to say that through our time together, I got to know the both of them much better and the more I learned about each of them, the more I came to believe that they are truly meant for each other.  They compliment one another just as God intended.

But the most important aspect to their relationship is how they have kept God in the center.  They met through their involvement in the BSM and served together there.  They have continued to focus on their own personal spiritual growth as well as the spiritual growth of their relationship.

We could all take some lessons from them.  When is the last time you prayed with your spouse?  Or spent some time discussing God’s plan for your family together?

Make time today to pray together.  God will honor it!

I made this statement during the wedding ceremony on Saturday but it is true for every couple – As long as our focus is on loving and pleasing God, and loving and pleasing our spouse, then there is nothing in this world that can come between you.

Chad and Amanda, may your marriage be full of blessings and may you continue to grow more and more into the people God intends for you to be – both individually and as a family.

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BSM Roofing Crew 2010

It has been a hard and long week but very rewarding.  Not only did I have the opportunity to do mission work (which is one of my passions) but I had the blessing of working with some amazing students in the process.  Pictured here is a portion of our “roofing crew.”  Two others were helping on the other construction site when this picture was taken and one other had to return home a day early.

These young adults did a great job this week and I pray they will be blessed for the efforts they have made.  Not one of them complained about anything, even though the last day was a bit tedious getting all the loose ends tied up before leaving.  Each one stepped up and did what needed to be done.

Whitney, Jessie, Coe, Josh, Bob, Sarah, Tree, Benny, Andy and Josh – you all did impressive work and it was my distinct honor and privilege to serve our Lord together with you this week.  Go home and continue what you have started!

Be blessed and be a blessing!

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I heard an encouraging story yesterday that I thought appropriate to share here, especially given where my heart has been this week.

A man here in the El Paso area shared his first memories of learning about Jesus.  He grew up in Mexico and did not have much to do with church.  But every year, for one week, his colonia was visited by a missions team who came to do Vacation Bible School in a local church.  He attended every year because he said, “Those white people in the white van had the best cookies I had ever tasted.”  He admits that he does not remember much about what they taught, but distinctly remembers the cookies.

The encouraging part of Chalio’s story is that now, 30 years or so later, he is a pastor and church planter here in El Paso.  While he can’t remember all the stories he was told as a child by the missions team year after year, the love those people showed impacted him.  He believes that he is exactly where God wants him to be and it is largely due to a group of folks who came and served cookies and Kool-Aid and told him about Jesus.

So take hope today!  The seeds you sew may not show growth immediately, but God will use your efforts to transform lives.  Stick with it!

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Last night, after a long day of construction in the sun, I took some time and visited one of my favorite spots in El Paso to relax and regroup – Kinley’s House of Coffee and Tea.  As I sat on the patio watching the sun go down over the Franklin Mountains, I thought about the people of the area and the desperation and hopelessness that many of them experience as a part of daily life.  Over the course of the hour or so that I sat there, I was approached by three different men who live on the street, asking for money or cigarettes.  One of the gentleman had perfected his approach allowing his personality to come through joking with the folks on the patio.  One of the other men asked first for a cigarette but since I don’t smoke, he then asked for change and the third simply asked for a little money.

The three men had one thing in common – very little hope.  I helped one of the men but not all three.  I left there unable to get the look of the third man out of my mind.  He was worn and broken with skin that showed his time in the sun.  His eyes were hollow and faded by defeat.

I have to admit, I am haunted today by his desperation and hopelessness.  I am overwhelmed by the immense need of the people of this area.  But I thank God that I am affected in this way.  May we never grow so accustomed to the plight of the poor that it no longer bothers us.

We live in an imbalanced world.  The very fact that I am able to sit at my computer and type these words, and in turn, you can sit at yours and read them illustrates the fact that we are in a different class.  I pray that God bothers you today by this fact.

I could offer some suggestions for how to deal with this imbalance – but I want you to wrestle with it today, and then offer some comments here as to what God puts on your heart.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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Monday was a great but tiring day.  It has been a few years since I have torn shingles off of a roof.  We had 9 college students and myself all working on the same project from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm in the El Paso sun and they did awesome.

It was so inspiring to see students who have dedicated a week of their lives to serving Christ and serving others.  The work they did was extremely strenuous but I never heard a single complaint.  I was pleased with their desire to work and serve.  Today we get to put the new shingles on the roof – less strenuous but still very tiring.  I have to say, I am looking forward to spending the day with my new heros.

I have two requests for you.  One is that you pray for these students today – for their safety and for sensitivity to all the opportunities God will provide for them to make a difference in the lives of others.  Second, I encourage you to consider the passion these students are showing this week and let some of that rub off on you – seek out opportunities today to make a difference in the life of someone else.

Be blessed today and be a blessing as well.

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Why is it that we can hear something and agree that it is true, but yet not internalize it or do anything with it?  Last night I had the opportunity to share with all the participants of the college mission trip in El Paso.  The primary point of the talk was this:  It is not about you, but it is personal.

Several years ago, I was certified in CPR and one of the things I remember is that once the situation has been assessed, the first thing you do is point to a person specifically and tell them to call 911.  Why is it important to do that you might wonder?  Because if you simply shout out, “Someone call 911!” it will eventually happen, but the indecision of the crowd will cost time and in an emergency, time is the one thing you do not have.  In other words, the natural response of those standing near will be to look around and see if someone else is going to do it.

Is it because no one wants to help?  No.  Is it because they don’t want to get involved?  Most likely not that either.  It is simply natural to hesitate and let someone else do it.

Our Christian walk is often just like that.  We know what we should do but it is just easier to wait and see if someone else will step up and take the lead or get involved.

What we have to remember is that it is not about us – but it has to be personal! We must serve others as if we do not matter, but we must live with the passion as if everything depended on us.

Take the lead and get involved today!

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I had to run an errand on Tuesday of this week and when I returned to the church what I saw really brightened my day.  Our King’s Kids (parents’ day out program) were in the field across the street from the church.  They were running around having a blast.  It was a warm day and other than a little wind (which was beneficial for their activity) it was a glorious day.

The kids were having kite day – but not your typical kind of kite.  These were hand made and special – as much wind catchers as kites.

Who would have ever thought of making kites from plastic bags?  These kids were having the time of their lives.  I appreciate the ladies who make our King’s Kids possible and the work they do with the children.

It is so important for kids to have fun at church.  I have come to believe that adult commitment to the church is often directly linked to the cumulative experience a person has had with the church from an early age.  In other words, people who have had a bad experience in church as children or students are far less likely to be involved as adults.

This is not to say that church should be all fun and games.  Obviously, one of the primary goals of the church is to partner with parents to strive to help children grow spiritually.  But there must be a balance between enjoyment and learning – and all of it has to be grounded in loving, safe and supportive relationships.  The key is to learn to harness the enthusiasm and fun and direct it in constructive ways toward spiritual growth.

I would love to hear what your church is doing to minister to children.  We can learn a lot from each other.  Leave a comment and let me know.

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