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9/19/13

LIVING, GROWING THINGS

I have watched in amazement as our new campus has been built.  From the first turning of the dirt to pouring the walls right there on the foundation and hoisting them into place to painting and lights...all the way to, at least externally, the finished product.  But, nothing has made the entire construction project come to life like what has happened over the past few days.  LANDSCAPING.

Trees and shrubs and grass and flowers.  This beautiful, but dead, concrete building has come to life.  There's something about things that are alive...that live and grow and change...that changes everything about a building.  I think it's an outward reminder of an inward reality.  IT'S NOT ABOUT A BUILDING...IT'S ABOUT PEOPLE.

During his presidential campaign, Bill Clinton's campaign manager had a huge sign printed and hung in the campaign headquarters.  It was to help keep the candidate focused and on message.  It simply read, IT'S ABOUT THE ECONOMY, STUPID.  Maybe, we need to hang a sign somewhere in our building that reads, IT'S ABOUT PEOPLE, STUPID.  It's not about buildings or programs or if we sang our favorite song or if "I'm being fed" or, well, ...whatever.  It's about PEOPLE.  People who are lost.  People with messed up lives.  People who are obnoxious.  People who don't get it, but will.  People with hurts, habits & hang-ups.  People you wouldn't want to hang out with, normally, but you do, because they matter to God

IT'S ABOUT PEOPLE, STUPID!

Let's not forget that.

9/16/13

MORE THAN A FAN

We live in Texas.  In Texas, the number one sport is Football.  The number two sport is Spring Football.  You get the picture.  Football is BIG!  HUGE!  It's not LIFE & DEATH...it's BIGGER THAN THAT!!!

We don't just love football, we love OUR TEAM.  We're FANS.  FANS is the shortened version of FANATICS.  That perfectly expresses how we feel about "Our Team".  We bleed red or green or orange or maroon...whatever our team's colors happens to be.  They win...life is good.  They lose...life is bad.  We are true-blue, honest-to-goodness, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-in-our-eye fans!

Count me in.  I'm an Oiler fan (the Pearland variety).  I'm a Bear fan (the Baylor variety).  I'm a Texan fan.  OK, so I don't paint myself. And I don't make that many games.  And, if they should lose, I never contemplate ending it all.  But, I am a fan...at least, I think so. Being a fan is great.  But, even so, it appears that Satan is always looking for any opportunity to divide and conquer.  Even if it's along color lines.  (Not skin color....school color)  It appears it is possible for Satan to take yet another good thing and turn it into a bad thing. (Every bad thing is a good thing perverted)  It goes like this, "If you don't cheer for who I cheer for then you hate me and my team and I'm offended and can't be your friend and you have disrespected me and everything I hold near and dear to my heart.  We can't be friends, much less brothers.  Go away!"  This is nothing new.  The church in Corinth faced the same dilemma centuries ago.  Paul writes, "I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter” or “I follow only Christ.”13 Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 for now no one can say they were baptized in my name."

It appears that in the first century, they were already picking teams and dividing up the church.  Paul writes them and basically says, "That's great that you have favorites, but your favorites can't compromise the unity of the Body of Christ.  When that happens a good thing has become a bad thing".  

In other words, be a fan.  But, when it comes to Jesus, his church, and his plan for this world, you need to be MORE THAN A FAN.  Cheer your heart out on Friday night or Saturday afternoon or Sundays, but keep it in perspective.  IT'S JUST A GAME.  I know to many of you those words are blasphemous.  But, they're true.  There's something much bigger at stake than the final score of a football game.  It's literal life and death.  It's eternity.  

When it comes to your team...BE A FAN.  When it comes to Jesus...BE MORE THAN A FAN.

9/12/13

CLOTHES

I have to admit, I was a little excited when they told me we were getting our clothes back yesterday.  When the fire happened, we were told to pull out "emergency clothes", and the rest would come later.  What does "emergency clothes" sound like to you?  A few days?  A week, maybe?  I had no idea that it would mean a month.  I've worn the same pair of shoes every day since the towering inferno.  My wardrobe was a bit repetitious as well.  So, needless to say, I was happy at the thought of wearing different shoes today.

One thing I wasn't prepared for.  As the gentlemen brought the stacks of hanging clothes up the stairs, I felt like it was a scene out of Jesus' feeding the 5,000.  Our clothes were the stand-ins for the loaves and fishes.  They just kept coming and coming and coming...  I'm pretty sure there were numerous basketfuls left over.  WAY over!

My emotions went from joy to total embarrassment.  We have too many clothes.  As I hung them up, I said to myself, "Half of these are gone".  There were things there that, for the life of me, I didn't know I owned...that I hadn't seen in years...that I didn't want to see, ever.

I realized in that moment, I am a typical American.  A consumer.  A collector.  A hoarder.  No, not like on the TV show.  But, a hoarder, just the same.

If you need something, sizes L & XL, let me know.  I need to share.  I need to simplify.  These things need to get worn, and there's only one of me.

These are, hopefully, the confessions of an ex-hoarder with too much stuff made evident by a tiny closet.  That's what it took to open my eyes and, hopefully, change my heart.

9/4/13

30-DAY PRAYER EXPERIMENT

I've asked my church to be part of a 30-Day Prayer Experiment.  For those who opt in, they will receive a text message each morning with one thing to pray for.  We started on Monday, praying that our church would be a family.  Yesterday's prayer was that God would provide for us financially as we move into a new campus.

Usually, the Sunday giving totals come in on Monday, but with the holiday, they arrived yesterday.  What's normal?  Around $25,000-$30,000.  But, the report read almost $50,000.  I asked to make sure it was correct and was assured it was.  Almost simultaneously, someone walked into my office with 2 envelopes that had just arrived in the mail.  One was a check for $1,000 and the other a check for $15,000.

Normal expectations:  $25,000 to $30,000
This day:  Almost $65,000

Coincidence?  Maybe.  But, then gain, we prayed for financial provision and it came.  So far, GOOD EXPERIMENT.

Want to be a part?  Text PRAY30 to 4411.  You'll get a prayer text every morning.  It's an experiment. Results depend on your willingness and God's faithfulness.

9/3/13

AUTUMN IN THE AIR

College football has begun.  The calendar has rolled over to September.  The kids are back in school.  Starbucks has broken out the Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  IT'S FALL!  Can't you just feel it in the air?  The Dog Days of Summer are over.  There's a crispness in the air.  Soon the leaves will be turning.  Time to pack up those summer clothes and break out the cardigans.

I WISH.

My thermometer in my truck read 101 yesterday.  Not quite the picture of Fall I was having.  No rush to cut firewood.

OK, so it doesn't feel like Fall...but it is.  (sorta)  School is back in session.  Football has, indeed, started.  And, in two Sundays it will be NATIONAL BACK TO CHURCH SUNDAY.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  Thousands of churches around the nation are involved in this...program?...celebration?...movement?  What do you call it?

So, what is it, exactly?  Does this mean that, as the church, we recognize and endorse the fact that many of our members will simply take the summer off.  That missing community, worship, and ministry for 3 months out of the year has become the norm, and that we're simply going to call it that and assign a day (like the beginning of school) for everyone to return?

Or, are we simply recognizing reality...that many folks get out of the habit during the summer and need a boost to get them "back in the saddle".  To have a problem with that would simply be arguing with reality, as I like to refer to it.  Fact is, many people see Summer as an opportunity to drop out, and even worse is the fact that many never return.  Sadly, church life is not an essential, but an option.

BOTTOM LINE:  If you're a Summer Drop-Out, please drop back in.  You don't even have to wait till September 15th.  We'll celebrate your return this Sunday...or any Sunday.  We just miss you!