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10/31/12

TAKING THINGS FOR GRANTED

The staff has spent the last two days hunkered down in my Living Room.  Staff Retreat, minus the Retreat. (saving money while sleeping in our own beds...rather genius).  When you're with seven other people in the same room sitting face-to-face for 9 hours straight, you get to know them a little better. (good or bad)

We have a good staff.  We like each other.  We respect each other.  We work as a team.  We tell each other the truth.  Sometimes we agree.  Sometimes we disagree.  Sometimes we encourage one another. Sometimes we tell each other that their idea sucks or that an area of their ministry needs an overhaul or that they are just wrong.  That includes me.  By that I mean, I tell them and they also tell me.  Sometimes it feels like they mostly tell me....but, probably not.

We're just a church staff, like any other church staff.  No big deal.  We just are.

We have some new members to our staff.  They've served at other places before serving here.  In the course of conversations, they basically told us that we're not just "a staff like every other staff".  What we have is unique.  What we have is different.  What we have is very special.  Wow, we didn't know.  We just thought we were a bunch of lunkheads that had somehow found each other and were trying our best to keep our heads above water.  Who knew what we had was special?

We were taking it for granted.  No celebration.  No wonder.  No pride (the good kind).

I wonder how many things in our lives that are extraordinary we take for granted, assuming what we have is simply everyone else's experience as well?  Maybe it's our marriage?  Possibly our kids?  Our parents?  Our living conditions?  Our job?  Our church?  Our relationship with God?  The list is endless.

Today, I am more grateful for my staff than I was yesterday.  I'm not taking them for granted.  But, sadly, it required someone to say, "You know, this isn't the way it is everywhere".  I'm grateful I heard that, but it makes me wonder how many other areas of my life are extraordinary that I take for granted.
Maybe an attitude of gratitude is called for.  Maybe it's time to take stock of what I've really got and recognize them as the blessings...wonderful blessings, they are.

10/30/12

ELECTION FATIGUE

I know it's the biggest story in America right now (except for, possibly Hurricane Sandy...and that's because those Northeasterners don't have a clue how to handle a hurricane.  Seriously, they don't even know when to have one.  When's the last time you saw a hurricane bring snow?  That's just wrong...but I digress).  Back to the ELECTION.

Are any of you suffering from what I like to call, ELECTION FATIGUE?  That point where you have been so inundated, so over-stimulated, heard so many opinions, watched so many commercials (seriously,....are there still any people sitting on the proverbial fence who need just one more commercial to help them to decide who to vote for?)

I have my opinion.  I have chosen my candidate.  I've already voted for heaven's sake.  I hope my guy wins.  However, I know a few things:

1.  If my guy loses, I will be disappointed
2.  If my guy wins, I will, at some point, be disappointed
3.  Neither candidate is the answer for America
4.  Much of America's problems are political, but politics, by it's very nature, is incapable of solving
     them.  The political process has become the problem
5.  America's greatest problem is a spiritual one.  Someone asked if I thought God had given up on
     America.  That's not the question.  The real question is:  Has America given up on God?
6.  Christians are part of the problem.  We are more politically evangelistic than spiritually evangelistic.
     I would wager that most Christians have talked more, prayed more, argued more, Facebooked more,
     forwarded more emails, put more signs on their cars and in their yards for their political choice than
     they ever thought of doing for Jesus...the REAL HOPE FOR AMERICA.

Pick your candidate.  Pick your party.  Vote.  But, please remember, whoever wins, AMERICA WILL STILL WAKE UP IN A MESS THE DAY AFTER THE ELECTION...ONE THAT NEITHER CANDIDATE IS QUALIFIED TO FIX.

Oh, that after this election we would campaign for Jesus, the only one able to bring hope and change.

10/29/12

WORSHIP

Yesterday at Church, I really was moved in my heart and spirit during the time of congregational singing.  I know, most of us call it the worship time, but I'm one of those people who believe worship, even though it can very much happen during the time when we sing to the Lord, is in no way limited to music.  Here's my take:

1.  Worship can happen when we sing to the Lord.

2.  Worship doesn't automatically happen when we sing.

3.  Worship extends beyond music to include anything we do that makes God smile and says to Him, "I love you".

4.  Worship can just as easily happen during the message, following the message, at lunch or during the Texans game.

5.  Worship is much more about the attitude of our heart than about the actions we are engaged in.

Let's get back to that singing part again, because that was the part that really moved me yesterday.  It was all I could do not to stand up on my chair with my hands lifted as high as possible and shout at the top of my lungs...HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!!!!  I think, in that moment I was worshipping God.  But, I couldn't help but wonder, right or wrong, were others joining me?  Were other hearts being massively moved?  Were people singing along, like you do at a Justin Bieber concert, or were others loving God as best they could with their lips?

Do you understand worship?  Do you worship God?  Is it a need that cannot be quenched by anything else?  Do you tell Him, "I love you?".

10/26/12

REST

Read any good Bible lately?  Notice what a big deal God's Word makes out of the concept of REST?  It's a BIG DEAL.  The whole book starts off with God creating the cosmos in 6 days and then resting. REALLY?  Was He worn out?  Did He...the God of the universe, who never sleeps, need a nap?  I'm thinking ...NO.  

So, what's the big deal with with all this rest business?  Yes, our bodies need rest...sleep, a nap here or there, a little R&R.  But, I think God's talking about that, but so much more than that.  I sleep every day, but I'm not sure I rest.  When God talks about the absolute necessity of rest, I believe He's talking about taking off MENTALLY & SPIRITUALLY.  

Today, I'm playing golf.  That could be rest.  However, if I'm preoccupied all the time with what I need to get done and how that message is going to go on Sunday and my credit score and how my retirement account is doing and why I have this little pain in my whatever that isn't all that bad, but just won't go away and if my wife had other plans for my day than this golf outing and why that person wrote me the nasty note last week and............  You get the picture.  Not REST.

REST happens when I put things in God's hands and turn off the worry and wonder and what-if machine and just exist in the moment.  It's when I totally get away from the cares of life and just live.

REST for you may be curling up with a good book, or taking that needed nap (without remorse) or feeding the homeless or whatever...but, it's not so much a matter of where you are or what you're doing as it is a state of mind.  REST is the opposite of STRESS.  And God knew we needed it.

So, REST.  That's an order!

10/25/12

WHAT THIS ELECTION IS REALLY ABOUT

As you prepare to vote in this election, please be aware you are doing more than voting for one man over another man.  You are endorsing the entire agenda and platform on which that candidate stands.

As you know, I'm a little technically challenged, but I'm attempting to share a link to a video that I think really sums up what I see this election being about.  Hopefully, I can get it in and hopefully you will watch it...and ask yourself what vision of America is yours.

http://youtu.be/v-Zm10BCyxc

10/24/12

10 COMPLAINTS PASTORS WON'T HEAR IN HEAVEN

1.  I wish I had seen more Rapture Charts.
2.  I wish you had worn a tie (or cooler jeans).
3.  Why didn't you teach me how to make more money?
4.  Why didn't we have more Business Meetings?
5.  The services were way too relevant.  Not enough nostalgia.  We didn't remember the Good Old Days.
6. You should have made it harder for lost people to come in.
7.  You shared way too much about your flaws.  We really needed you to be the perfect example.
8.  I needed more theology and less practicality.
9.  You bugged me too much about inviting lost people.  They really messed up our church.
10. I wish I had given less and kept more for me.

10/23/12

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES

I watched the Presidential Debates last night. (completely forgot about Monday Night Football!)  Before you either click the delete button or wait with great anticipation to see who I thought won, let me say, "Whoa Padna".  That's not my intention at all.

It was amazing to me, that God had chosen a little nothing people called the Jews, mainly based on the fact that they were a little nothing of a country, to be His people.  Not because they WERE anything, but because they WEREN'T.  That from this nothing country He brought a savior into the world and began to write his story of His glory through history.

Now, 2000 years later, this little nothing of a country is stealing the show on the US Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy.  Why do they even matter?  What's their greatest import...export?  Are they rich?  Are they powerful?  Are they big?  Do they buy our stuff?  Do they owe us money?  Nope.  Negative to all of the above.  They are important for one reason and one reason only...God chose them.  A long time ago, God chose them.  For the most part they have turned their back on God and are totally unfaithful to Him.  They are one of the most secular countries in the world.  Their spiritual relevance is that of a tourist destination, not an active place of worship.

However, that doesn't change the fact that God chose them, and no matter how unfaithful they have become to God, when God makes an unconditional promise, He keeps it.  So, faithful or unfaithful, if you take on Israel, you're taking on God...not because of Israel's goodness, but because of God's goodness.  And, if you stand with them, you stand with God.   Since they are tiny and problematic and everyone around them wants them to go away, it would be easier to just forget them and let nature take it's course.

But, we can't forget them.  Thousands and thousands of years after they emerged, they are still the major foreign policy topic in the US Presidential Debate.  WOW!  When God speaks, people listen...even when they don't think He exists!

10/22/12

PARENTING WISDOM

You can't choose your kids and you REALLY can't choose your kid's spouses.  Mine have done well in that department.  Here's some great parenting wisdom for raising boys from my lovely Erin...

1. You will set the tone for the sexual relationship, so don't take something away from her that you can't give back.


2. Play a sport.  It will teach you how to win honorably, lose gracefully, respect authority, work with others, manage your time and stay out of trouble.   And maybe even throw or catch. 


3. Use careful aim when you pee.  Somebody's got to clean that up, you know.


4. Save money when you're young because you're going to need it some day. 

  
5. Allow me to introduce you to the dishwasher, oven, washing machine, iron, vacuum, mop and broom.  Now please go use them. 


6. Pray and be a spiritual leader.


7. Don't ever be a bully and don't ever start a fight, but if some idiot clocks you, please defend yourself.


8. Your knowledge and education is something that nobody can take away from you.


9. Treat women kindly.  Forever is a long time to live alone and it's even longer to live with somebody who hates your guts.


10. Take pride in your appearance.

 
11. Be strong and tender at the same time. 


12. A woman can do everything that you can do.  This includes her having a successful career and you changing diapers at 3 A.M.  Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship.


13. "Yes ma'am" and "yes sir" still go a long way.


14. The reason that they're called "private parts" is because they're "private".  Please do not scratch them in public.


15. Peer pressure is a scary thing.  Be a good leader and others will follow. 


16. Bringing her flowers for no reason is always a good idea.


17. Be patriotic.


18. Potty humor isn't the only thing that's humorous.  


19. Please choose your spouse wisely.  My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me spending time with you and my grandchildren.


20. Remember to call your mother because I might be missing you.



10/19/12

THE PART OF MINISTRY I HATE THE MOST

I LOVE what I do.  I love being a pastor.  I love pastoring Crosspoint Church.  I walked into my Bank the other day and the guy behind the counter said, "Mr. Allen, I've never seen you in a bad mood".  (He obviously hasn't seen me that much)  But, my answer to him was, "Dude, I'm living the dream.  I've got a great wife, great kids and awesome grandkids, and I pastor the most awesome church imaginable...and they pay me to do it!  Why shouldn't I be smiling!".  

I love what I do.  Well, most of it.  Some comes natural.  Some skills I've had to work hard at.  But, even after 32 years of pastoring, I'm still learning.  Learning my strengths and weaknesses.  Learning what comes natural and what I have to work the hardest on.  Learning what I love and what I hate.

So, I know what you're asking...What do you hate the most?  Well, it might surprise you.  It's not the hours, (I know, you think I only work one day a week.  How can I say this in a politically correct way...that's STUPID!).  It's not the people, even the ones that get mad and leave or the ones that do the same lame things over and over and over and...  It's not the study, the preaching, the planning, the meetings, the meetings or the meetings.

Reality is, the part I hate the most is funding the ministry.  Jesus talked about money more than any other topic.  However, we have a tendency to do exactly the opposite.  Why?  Part of that comes from the extremes that television evangelists went to in previous decades.  Another component is the "prosperity gospel" taught by so many churches that basically says that if you give to God He'll give you a Mercedes.  Then there's the aspect that most people want you to talk about how to have a great family, marriage, kids, job, happiness, relationships, etc....but don't mess with my money.  And, to round it all out, I have two degrees, one form Baylor university and one from Southwestern Seminary.  Neither of them equipped me to balance a checkbook, much less lead a $million company.  So, there's the "I'm totally incompetent" component as well.

BOTTOM LINE:  Ministry takes money.  Ministry takes generous, committed individuals.  What I've found is the following:
1.  Income has little to do with giving.  It's not those who make the most who give the most, or those who make the least who give the least.
2.  Giving has more to do with vision and discipleship than income.
3.  Giving is a matter of discipleship and spiritual maturity rather than one of disposable income.
4.  There is a link between giving and satisfaction with church, family and life.  Those who give most generously tend to have the least complaints about life in general.  When you see God's plan for your finances, you seem to see God's plan for the rest of your life.  And...the opposite is true as well.

Not a GIVER?  Not GENEROUS?  Check your satisfaction level.  There's a connection...I assure you.

10/18/12

HOW TO GO TO A FOOTBALL GAME

I'm writing this because some people may not have grown up in the south or may have lived under a rock or have somehow mistaken a football game for the ballet and strangely don't know these things.  I'm only here to help.  Follow these rules and you'll have a wonderful experience.

1.  Arrive Early.  Nothing is worse than a late arriving crowd to a football game.  If you miss the National Anthem, you've blown it.  You can't cheer for your team from the parking lot.  I like to be in my seat for warm-ups, but definitely by kick-off, or you're NOT a real fan.

2.  Tailgating is suggested.  That's when you get there early enough to eat with friends outside the stadium.  This is the relational part of the experience and allows you to get that much more excited for what you're about to experience.

3.  Get into the game.  This is not the time to swap recipes and talk about your root canal.  It's game time!  Pay attention.  Get into it.  If you don't understand why their punting on 4th and 1, ask.  But, be engaged.  This isn't a tea party.

4.  Be Loud.  When the team makes a good play, cheer.  LOUD.  When the coach makes a great call, cheer, clap, slap your noise makers.  We want to see veins sticking out in your neck.  This is your opportunity to let out all your inhibitions.  All that pent up energy and frustration from the week.  LET IT RIP!

5.  Be Encouraging.  Don't be one of those boo-ers.  (Unless of course the zebra really screws it up.  Then booing is allowed...possibly even suggested)  It's your team.  They're trying their hardest. If it's not good enough, get louder...and more encouraging.  And for Pete's sake, if they score a touchdown, don't just sit on your hands and quietly think to yourself, "Good job".  REALLY?

6.  Stay till the end.  Nothing is worse than those folks who find it necessary to leave midway through the 4th quarter.  SERIOUSLY?  You need to be there for the school song.  Leave early, you just might miss the best part, big touchdown, unbelievable comeback.  They play four quarters for a reason.

7.  Be a fan all week.  Don't just throw on your gear 30 minutes before kick-off and call yourself a fan.  Wear your gear all during the week.  Put your sticker on your car.  Talk about your team incessantly.  Fan is short for fanatic.  Get as close to obnoxious as possible without stepping over the line.  But, get close.  If you're a secret fan, you're not a fan at all.

I hope this helps you have a wonderful football experience.

PS: These same rules apply to how to go to church.  Please apply them liberally for the maximum church experience.  WOOOOOOOO...HOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!  (We should have cheers!)


10/17/12

PEOPLE

God blesses us in many ways.  Some of His greatest blessings come in the form of people.  Family, friends, co-workers, the list goes on.  Not many years ago, it was me and a secretary.  Today, I have the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people on earth.  My secretary, Debbie, has served me for the last 100 years.  She deciphers what I pass off for writing and never complains.  She makes me look good, in spite of me, and is my memory when mine fails.

Sandy does....heck, I have no idea what Sandy does, but she does it very well, and wears really cool jeans.  She keeps everything organized way behind the scenes.  Chelsea is part mascot, part adopted daughter and the quiet, but surprisingly competent first face of Crosspoint.  You call...you talk to her.

Katie and Chase are ridiculous.  They are two of the most talented people on the planet, Katie graphically, Chase videographically.  And they are just babies. They have all the creative genes I missed out on.

Dean brings tremendous organizational experience to the table.  He's the brain.  Bryan brings great energy to the table.  He's the passion.  (really LOUD passion)  Nathan brings unbelievable talent to the table.  He's competency, in so many areas that it makes it hard to funnel it in one direction.  Sherri is the advocate for the "least of these", the children.  She's the voice for those that don't have a vote.  Adam is the servant of the group.  I could tell him to do just about anything and his only question would be, "Now?".  David has a heart for hurts.  He's the compassion.  He's a magnet to those most would rather pass by.  Mike is Mr. Relationship.  He honestly likes people and loves to see people find Jesus.  Robby is to the staff what Aaron was to Moses.  He holds up our hands when they get tired.  Ariel loves the least of the least...the little bitty, teeny weenie guys.

I don't know why God decided to put all these great people around me.  Probably, He knew I needed all the help I could get.  Or, maybe I'm just His favorite.  Either way, I'll take it.

10/16/12

EMOTIONS

That's probably one thing I'm going to ask God when I see Him (which I really hope isn't too soon).  You made us...just like you wanted us to be...in your image...blah, blah, blah.  So, what's up with these emotion things.  Yeah, yeah, I know they're important and good....like when someone gets married or a child is born or your team wins a big game.  Also, when someone you love dies, or evil seems to win the day or when a heart gets broken.  I understand they have their place.  But, I've observed people long enough to know that some folks appear to almost have none, while others seem to have nothing but emotions.  As someone who tends to gravitate more toward the former end, I sometimes wonder what God was thinking...or how his plan has gone so incredibly array.

Emotions are good things. They make us feel, they make us human.  However, like everything else, we need to remember that every bad thing is a good thing perverted.  So, there's a few things we need to be aware of in regard to emotions:

1.  Emotions lie.  They tell us to be angry, hurt or resentful at times when that is totally inappropriate.  They tell us we're in love, when we're only in lust.  They tell us we're a victim, when we're just in the middle of God's plan and can't see the end from this vantage point.  They tell us to be discouraged, when the data surrounding us points to the exact opposite conclusion.

2.  Emotions control.  If they can get you to feel what they want you to feel, they can control you and your whole perspective on life.  They have the power, if we give it to them, to manipulate, not only our feelings, but our actions as well.

3.  Emotions rule.  Emotions like fear, if allowed to have control in our lives, act as a leash that tells us just how far we can go and just how obedient we can be to God.  Unforgiveness rules all our relationships.  Insecurity becomes a cell we live in, while believing ourselves to be free.  I could go on and on.  Put your favorite emotion in there, apply liberally...rinse..and repeat.

BOTTOM LINE:  Emotions are a gift from God.  They allow us to feel.  They allow us to be human. They are to be the spice of life, not the main course.  If I may use this illustration, think of your self as a train.  Facts, especially the factual truth of God's Word, are to be the engine that powers our life.  Faith, a belief and trust and total assurance that God has a plan and is in control are the railroad cars of our life.  They hold and move the stuff our life is made of.  And Emotions are the caboose of our life.  Rather than driving the train, they are to simply go where the truth of God and our faith in God takes us.

If emotions, feelings, are driving your life, it's very simple...You're living backwards.  Cabooses are great things to have on the end of your train, but they don't work well at all on the front end.

10/15/12

IT'S MONDAY...

It feels like Monday.  Monday on steroids.  I think my Sunday, plus the TEXANS NEVER SHOWED UP hangover is still giving me flu-like/manic depressive symptoms.  Quite the combination.  I even broke out my new JJ Watt jersey.  Lot of good that did.  Then there's the nasty note I got from someone who chose to remain nameless calling me out for asking people to show up to church on time.  (Glad I didn't ask them to do something shameless like bring their Bible or tithe or speak to guests!)

In between all that, I had a breakdown within my family.  I won't go into any details, because the details aren't important...and they're private.  It was a breakdown in a relationship between a parent (me) and a child. (I have four, and 3 daughter-in-laws.  Don't put together an office pool to figure out who)  Mainly, because that's unimportant.  My point is this...and I think you can learn from this...whenever you take a stand for something, expect Satan to attack that exact place.

It never fails.  I speak out on MARRIAGE, my marriage hits a rough spot.  I speak out on FINANCES, our finances are challenged with totally unanticipated expenses and I'm really tempted to do exactly what I'm committed not to do financially.  Even though my kids are grown, why should PARENTING be any different?  (One more thing, situation handled with love and maturity and totally biblically and all is well.  Have I mentioned I have awesome kids?)

Here's my point:  When you open your mouth and step out publicly, you become a threat to Satan.  EXPECT him to attack.  Don't be surprised.  Don't be unprepared.  Don't think, "It won't happen to me".  It will.  But, rather than being discouraged, wear it as a badge of honor...and hit it head-on.

You have an enemy.  Don't ignore that.

10/12/12

HUSBANDING

Today we're packing up the car and driving to San Antonio.  Actually, right outside San Antonio, to a little town (that's not so little anymore).  That's where my wife grew up and where she played basket ball, on a close-knit team that was undefeated until the final game of the season when they lost in the state finals.

That was 35 years ago, so tonight they're decided to all reassemble for a celebration of that accomplishment and reunionize (never understood that word.  Did they have a union?  Has the contract run out?  Are they asking for more money or better working conditions?  Tell you all about it when I get back.)  Any way, it's happening.  Susan hasn't seen most of these girls in 35 years.  I, on the other hand, have not seen most of these girls in 57 years...which translates to NEVER.

I am by nature an introvert.  Translation: This is my closet concept of what Hell must be like.  While Susan relives her exploits of past glory with people who are total strangers to me, it is my job to look semi-interested and attempt to not be outwardly awkward, while being inwardly fully awkward and wondering what to do with my hands.  I would prefer a root-canal without sedatives.  Or, possibly having my fingernails removed with pliers.

Maybe I'll approach different members of the team and ask, "Remember that time we played ___________, and we were down by 8 with 2 minutes to go and everything looked like sure defeat and we can back to win?.....Yeah, I don't either."  Or, "Do you remember the time Susan got so drunk the night before the game (absolutely never happened) and she was so hung over she went the wrong way on the court?  Yeah, me either.

OK, I dread this like the plague, but I'm going...and going willingly.  Why?  Because she wants me to.  That means she's not ashamed of me...yet.  So, until, she is I have to capitalize on every opportunity, even if I'd rather be having a colonoscopy.  It's called marriage.  This is definitely the down side, but that's means there's got to be an up side.  Wait for it...wait for it...wait for it....

10/11/12

WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU CAN'T EXPLAIN?

THAT'S AN INTERESTING QUESTION.  Probably one you never ask yourself.  In fact, if there's something going on in your life that you can't explain, you, most likely either want to explain it or figure a way to get rid of it.  That's just WEIRD.  OR...that's the Holy Spirit.  Have you read the Bible?  Crazy book.  Very practical.  Very helpful.  Very challenging.  But, then there's that stuff that happens that transcends our comprehension...axe heads floating, blind people seeing, dead rising, someone getting transported from one place to another supernaturally, people somehow knowing stuff they have no business knowing, but being equipped to meet needs they had no idea even existed.  That's CRAZY!

That's the HOLY SPIRIT.  The Bible tells us...
*If we are Christians, we possess the Holy Spirit
*Actually, more than us possessing the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit actually possesses us
*The Holy Spirit is sent to lead us and direct us
*The Holy Spirit fills us
*The Holy Spirit does what He pleases with us
*The Holy Spirit is not limited like we are, so He does what is beyond our comprehension
*If the Holy Spirit is alive and well and living in you, there will be things happening in your life that you cannot explain

Sound like you?  If not, invite the Holy Spirit to go wild in your life.  Then the unexpected and unexplainable will become commonplace.

10/10/12

RACISM

This is not fun.  I don't want to write about this, but feel compelled.  I believe racism is alive and well in our country, and possibly more powerful than at any time.  Certainly, you may question that.  How can I say it is more alive today, when not that many years ago certain races of people had no rights at all, no power at all, were treated shamefully and excluded from society as much as possible?  Yes, our nation has a sad history when it comes to this story.  As a white man in America I cannot claim to fully understand it, but I can be embarrassed by it and mourn it and own it.

As a Christian man in America, I grew up singing, "red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight" and being taught that God "is no respecter of persons" and that "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  Yet, I learned those things at church, where the only black face ever seen was that of the custodian who was there throughout the week and seen only briefly by the staff.

Racism is not new, but it's expressions are ever-changing.  The fact that in the last two elections for the highest office in our land, the choices placed before us by the two major parties have been men of two totally different color.  Mind you, I am not writing about politics.  I'm writing about racism.  But, these elections have served as an opportunity to lance a boil and bring what has been there all along to the surface.  Let me say this, when President Obama was elected, I did not agree with his politics, but found myself finding solace in the fact that my country could and did elect a person of color to the highest position in the land.  Honestly, that made me proud.

However, that pride was short-lived.  What quickly replaced it was, "If you don't agree with this or that, you're a racist".  What happened to gentile disagreement and debate of issues?  If I don't want government-run healthcare, I'm a racist?  If I disagree with a foreign policy, I'm a racist?  I could go on, but time is short.

Bottom Line time:  If you are white, and you vote for a person based on the fact that this person is white, you are a racist....period.  In the same way, if you are black and vote for a person based on the fact they are black, you, too, are a racist...period.  Feel free to insert any and all colors into that scenario.  They all fit.

Dr. Martin Luther King, a man I happen to respect greatly, had a dream that there would come a day when all people "will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character".  I'm so sorry Dr. King, that day hasn't come yet.  I too, dream of a day we choose candidates based on their competence and their character, not their color.

10/9/12

YOU NEED A LAUGH

The Bible...you know, the B-I-B-L-E, says that laughter is good medicine.  I've seen a lot of pictures of Jesus.  Seen him healing and praying and casting out people from the Temple and dying...but never laughing.  Somehow we think that to be beneath Jesus.  He was the perfect man, but somehow that doesn't include a sense of humor.  I know the Greek term for that.  HOGWASH!

I think Jesus told a mean joke.  "OK boys, have you heard the one about the pharisee and the traveling salesman?"  When he talked about the guy with a log in his eye, I think he had some of them rolling.  Or how about the camel going through the eye of a needle.  Priceless!  I know, we read them with a straight face and get very theological, but Jesus had to be cracking up on the inside.

That's one reason we schedule COMEDY EVENTS.  YOU NEED A LAUGH!!!  Have you been watching the news lately...following the campaign....paying attention to the national debt?  YOU NEED A LAUGH!!!

On Saturday, October 20th, Crosspoint Church is proud to present Barnes & Miner, a talented, married couple from Seattle, Washington.  They've been around for a number of years and have been featured on Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Fox, NBC, ESPN, HBO and more.  These aren't just a couple of clowns we found down the road in Manvel (although, I'm sure there are numerous funny people there, too).  These people are legit.  

So...buy some tickets, invite a friend (if you have one) or a family member (if you don't have a friend) and make plans to be there.  Why?  Because YOU NEED A LAUGH!!!

DO IT!

10/8/12

ECAs

Well, we started our new series yesterday, UNDER MY ROOF.  There was some great take-aways from the message, I thought.  As VISION becomes clearer, OPTIONS become fewer and DECISIONS become easier.  You must begin with VISION and work BACKWARDS.  VISION always begins with a BURDEN.  That's pretty powerful stuff.

But, for many, those things got lost underneath the one statement I made about ECAs (Extra-Cirricular Activities).  Some got the idea I was against them.  I am absolutely NOT.  Actually, I believe, that at least by the High School years, they should be mandatory.  Every child should be expected to find their niche.

What I see however, are children being placed into highly-organized, highly-competitive and high time demanding activities much too early.  Multiply that by 2 or 3 kids, then multiply again by 2 or 3 activities, some overlapping, and what you have is the beginnings of a performance-based, dysfunctional family, where the first thing to go is usually anything of spiritual nature.

The Bottom Line:
*ECAs are good
*ECAs should be postponed (Some kids are ready at 5.  Most aren't.)
*ECAs should be limited to one at a time.  No overlap.
*ECAs that impact or effect the entire family negatively are not allowed
*ECAs should be what the child wants, not the parent
*ECAs should not negatively impact what a child has to look forward to.  (If they get it all today,    what's there to look forward to?)
*ECAs should be kept in priority (Church is always a higher priority)
*ECAs expose a child's strengths, but also a child's weaknesses.  DO NOT force them to expose their weaknesses publicly.
*Chill out.

Today, parents in the Burbs can adopt "Sign-Up" Parenting.  They want their kids "signed-up" for everything.  We want them to have "everything every other kid has".  Inadvertently, we have given them everything but a parent and the right to just be a kid.  They only get one childhood.  Don't steal it.

10/6/12

HAVE I MENTIONED...

Have I mentioned just how excited I am about this new series, UNDER MY ROOF.  It's all about getting a grip on this parenting thing.  Tomorrow we're starting off HUGE.  We're not easing into this slowly and cautiously.  We're jumping off headlong into the whole ball of wax.  I want to help you set-up a plan for parenting, not just through this season of life or for the next year, but for a lifetime.  I want to share some things with you that you can use with your toddler, your teenager or your adult son.

It's practical stuff.  See you tomorrow!

10/4/12

UNDER MY ROOF

In 1996, we built our first home.  We'd had homes before that, but they were built by other people and lived in by other people and made to look like other people.  Now, we were building one that would be just ours, from the ground up.  It was exciting and scary and fun and new and a lot of other things all rolled into one.  We would load the kids into the van and make the trek out to Pearland several times a week, just to see if we could tell if anything was different.  We had a blast watching the structure go up little by little.

I remember one day receiving a frantic phone call from Susan.  She had snuck out that day at lunch to check on the progress, only to find that this particular day they were installing all the ceramic tiles on the floor.  With terror in her voice she said, "Tom, we didn't pick out pink tile, did we?" I assured her there was not a chance that I had picked out pink anything for anywhere in any house I'd be living in.  I raced out to the subdivision and found that, although the tile was definitely not pink, it did indeed have enough of a pink tone to it I would have never agreed to any such tile.

After many choice words with the salesman, he first tried to convince us we had, indeed, chosen that tile.  Once we made it clear there was no possibility of that happening in this life, he went to Plan B: The old, "It really doesn't look pink and most of it is down anyway.  I think you'll be happy with it."  Sorry, NO SALE.  Finally, under great duress, they agreed, begrudgingly, to  tear out the wrong stuff and put in the right stuff.

As parents, we're a lot like the salesman.  When something goes wrong with our kids, we first look for someone else to blame (the teacher, the coach, the school district, the neighbors kids, culture, our spouse, our parents, etc.).  If that doesn't work, we resort to Plan B: Well, it's not so bad.  It could have been worse.  A lot of kids are doing a lot worse stuff than this.  We should just be grateful this is the worst problem we face.  If, with all our best efforts, we are unable to convince ourselves, then we have to resort to the manual labor of ripping up what's wrong and replacing it with what belongs.  That's hard work, and always our last resort that we put off as long as possible.  Ripping up tile is hard work.  Tearing things out of our kids lives that don't belong is both hard work and painful work.  The key is to stay on top of things before they get to that point.  That takes vigilance and discipline.  But, the other options are much worse.

I'm looking forward to sharing some great, practical, biblical truths that I wish someone had shared with me about 30 years ago.  Can't wait to see you Sunday as we begin, UNDER MY ROOF.

10/3/12

THINGS PASTORS THINK, BUT CAN'T SAY

Today's blog is not my own creation.  It's by Scott Cochrane and I just couldn't resist sharing it.  I've got several to ad to the list, but for now...


Here is my top 5 list of things we think but never say:

1. The way things were done in your former church really doesn’t interest me.

“You know, Pastor, at my old church, our pastor always had a special story time for the children before dismissing them to Sunday school.”
What are we thinking that we simply can’t say? “So what…”

2. The reasons I fired your favorite staff person are none of your business.

“Pastor, you fired one of my favorite people. Why did you do that?”
What are we thinking that we simply can’t say? “I’m not about to disclose the details of someone’s personnel file with you.”

3. I just finished preaching—I just can’t deal with your problem right now.

“Nice sermon, Pastor. But I need help with a marriage issue.”
What are we thinking that we simply can’t say? “I don’t have an ounce of emotional or spiritual energy for this right now.”

4. I’m sorry…What’s your name?

“Pastor! Fancy running into you here at the grocery store!”
What are we thinking that we simply can’t say? “I know I’ve seen you every Sunday for five years, but frankly, I just don’t know who you are.”

5. Your giving is really more of a bribe.

“Pastor, until the music volume is toned down, I won’t be tithing to the church.”
What are we thinking that we simply can’t say? “Until you stop attaching strings to your giving, just don’t give.”
My point is not that we should actually blurt out everything we’re thinking. That can be incredibly cruel. It’s simply that in church leadership, we must constantly manage the tension between appropriate truth telling and wise discretion.
How do you know if you get this wrong? Oh, you’ll know. Believe me, you’ll know…

10/2/12

QUESTIONS FOR GOD

I don't know exactly what it's going to be like when we get to Heaven.  There's going to be a lot of us there, not as many as I wish there were, but a lot.  Not sure if God will hold a Press Conference when we arrive, maybe go from neighborhood to neighborhood and hold Town Meetings, or we can just schedule an appointment with him and meet at the local Starbucks? (seriously, you didn't think there'd be Starbucks?  It's Heaven for Pete's sake!)

I guess we'll find out when we get there.  But, whatever the format, I've got some questions for Him that have been bugging me for a long time.  You probably have your own list.  Here's a sample of mine:

*Why mosquitoes?  Were they around before the Fall of Man, or were they a last-minute addition once the apple got eaten?

*The appendix.  Oversight?  Last-minute addition?  Practical joke?  Seriously, are you guys up in Heaven laughing that one off?

*Allergies.  OK, this is just mean.  We sit around sweating through the Summer or freezing through the Winter and as soon as the first front comes through and the weather is great and we're ready to run outside (finally!) we are reminded that we are allergic to nice weather.  Seriously, what's up with that?  As one who's head is now twice the size it was 2 days ago and who is in danger of shorting out my computer if I have my head directly above the keyboard, I would just like to say, "you got some splainin' to do!".

*Cats.  Enough said.

* Why does everything break one month after the warranty runs out?  You probably have nothing to do with that, but I would like an explanation, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get one down here.

OK, I have many, many more, but I'll show restraint and leave it at this.  Do you have questions for God?  I'd love to hear them.  Tweet them to me @tomallenonline.  I'd love to hear them.

Oh, just one more thing.  I honestly believe when I get to Heaven the 3 burning questions I'll have are 1) Where are the people I assumed would be here?  2)Why are there people here I assumed wouldn't be here?   3)And, why am I here?

10/1/12

KIDS

Over my 57 years of life, I've had the opportunity to experience a lot of wonderful things.  Life has been good.  On the other hand, I've experienced a lot of things that stretched me beyond my stretching point and almost literally scared me to death.

Usually, things fall into one of these two categories...joy or terror...except for one...PARENTING.  There's an entirely separate category for PARENTING.  Dickens writes in A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times."  That pretty much sums up parenting perfectly.  It is one of the greatest joys imaginable.  But, at the same time, it scares the snot out of you.

Look at it this way: If you mess up your job, you can always get another.  If you mess up your finances, you can get back on track and get them fixed.  Even if you mess up your marriage, there's at least a chance that you can repent, seek counsel and put it back together.  BUT, if you mess up your kids, they're messed up.  AND YOU did it.  Not only do you get to live with the guilt of messing up their lives...you get to spend holidays with them!  Then they breed and mess up their kids just the way you messed them up, because that's all they know how to do.  Oh yeah, did I mention that if you mess them up too bad, they'll always manage to find someone as messed up as they are, no matter how long they have to look,...and MARRY THEM!  Then they bring them and their screwed up brood with them for the holidays!

OK, this will most likely either depress you greatly or serve as tremendous birth control.  However, that's not my intent.  I have four kids.  They all turned out great...mostly.  (What did you expect?  Perfect.  I WAS THEIR DAD, REMEMBER!)  In spite of that, they turned out great.

This Sunday, we begin a brand new series called, UNDER MY ROOF.  Hopefully, we'll be able to share some of the extremely practical, biblical truths that make child-raising not only possible, but hopeful.  I hope you'll join us these 4 weeks at Crosspoint Church.