Monday, November 27, 2006

My Wife Rocks . . . Bummer!

If you have been reading my blog long, you know I like to sing the praises of my amazing superstar of a runner wife. She is a former All-American middle distance runner and 2 time national champion in the Steeplechase. That's awesome, but it was also 15 to 20 years ago. She has recently started to run again at age 39 after having 4 kids. She has done awesome winning her age division every time, but she doesn't care about winning her age division.

She has placed 7th, and 2nd overall women in two recent races. These races were in a series of 5 races to get points for an overall prize. She ran one last race last weekend because the points come from the best 3 races. She figured that she could win the series if some of the gals that beat her in the first race didn't show up and she could win first or second.

Well on thanksgiving day we showed up and, sure enough, several of the girls who beat her before were there. But, this time she beat them and won the race. She is my hero!

Here is the bummer part; we found out that you have to run 3 races to qualify, but they take the top 4 race scores. Bye-bye $300. Maybe next time.

Ethos in the Big Apple

I am in New York City this morning for the Ethos Conference put on by Mosaic Church and Erwin McManus. This is my first time in NYC out side of the airport. What an awesome city. I wish my bride was here with me.

I am excited about what God has in store for me at this conference. I have already been challenged by Erwin's books. This is my first time at Ethos. There are lots of awesome pastors here who have planted great churches. It will be great to be around these guys and soak up all the wisdom they offer from their experiences.

I will try to update the blog with some notes if I get a chance.

Blessings from the Big Apple!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A&M 12, tu 7 - Poor T-sips . . .

It was a great day yesterday. I got to see the Aggies beat our arch rival on tv. I got to see the Aggies put 244 yeads on the #1 rush defense that only allowed and avg of 42 rushing yards per game this year. I got to see the t-sip QB heisman candidate Colt McCoy throw 3 interceptions. With the OU win today the t-sips won't even go to the Big 12 Championship. Poor t-sips :(

The Timex Minivan

In a recent prayer email to our prayer partners I wrote a request to pray for our 2 minivans. Combined they have over 400,000 miles on them. I included the odometer picture you see here.

Last week, Gina called me while I was on my way to meet with a friend about partering with our Paris Church Planting ministry. Gina said the car had broken down. She said that it was low on gas but that the car would start and is running right now but when she gives it gas it sputters and dies. But, it would start back up. I started putting the pieces togehter like dying on the road, running ,though running badly, and over 250,000 miles. My initial diagnosis was DOA engine (thrown rod).

I met quickly with my friend, who is now a new ministry partner and began driving to where Gina had broken down. The whole time I was thinking "What are we going to do"? I thought for a brief moment that maybe no one on the prayer team really prayed about our cars. I knew that when I got there I could check the oil and water in the oil would be a quick sign that my suspicions were true. Still I wondered how I would travel to meet with churches and pastors while Gina is at home with 4 kids. Who gets the other minivan? I finally came to grips with the fact that God would make it all work out (I quit whining). About a block away I prayed one more quit prayer, "God please let it just be out of gas" (even though it didn't sound like it from Gina's desciption.)

I arrived and got it in the car to start it. Guess what? It wouldn't start any longer, but it did sound OK. I quickly grabbed the gas can I through in may car on the way out the door, went to get some gas and put it in the van. It started right up and purred like a very, very old kitten. Yep that minivan has taken a licking and kept on ticking. I guess the prayer team really did pray about our cars.

As of this morning it has 253,968 miles on it. Should I try driving this thing from NC to TX and back for Christmas?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Today

By the way, don't forget to vote!

Extraordinay Insights

This morning I got up at 5:50AM. There was no emergency or place to be early. I have been trying to get up earlier. I typically stay up later and get up later (between 6:30 and 7, not 10). Some people can do that well, but I know that I am more effective if I go to bed early and get up early (something the Army taught me I guess). So, I am excited that I broke the 6am barrier this morning and ultimately would like to get into a 5am routine.

I really feel like God has been speaking to me lately. Each devotion and sermon seem to really target a specific area of my life. You see, God has called us to plant a church in Paris. He has confirmed this in so many ways. I literally have a document on my computer that I call the monument document that I write in to remember all the ways that God is working. We are finding how open the young people in France are to a new kind of church. We know that they will come and experience God in ways that will change their lives forever.

But in the midst of all that God is doing in our lives and ministry right now there is still one area that does not seem to be coming along the way we would like for it to. That area is funding. As a faith based church planting ministry we are funded completely by individuals and churches who want to be part of planting a church in Paris. Right now the funding is coming in very slowly and has forced us to push back our deployment date. I can't help but ask God, why are you blessing in every area of our ministry except the funding.

I just finished reading Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire (again) and Practicing Greatness and In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day. All of these books ended with challenges. Fresh Wind talked about King Asa starting off well but forgetting God in the end. Practicing Greatness talked about God leading all of people he used in a significant way to a wilderness experience before he used them. In a Pit talked about how God doesn't do the impossible in the lives of people who don't attempt the impossible.

The Sermons over the last 2 weeks were on Nehemiah and Abraham. Nehemiah had to boldly ask the king for help. Abraham had to experience 100 dark years of not being able to have children to come to the place where he could believe God for anything and father a nation for God.

I won't go into the details of what each of these things has meant to me, but I can tell you that God is really shaking my foundations right now. I believe that He wants to do something big, but He must prepare us, if we are willing to do what it takes without knowing all of the details.

We have always expected that God was going to do great things through our team in France. Sunday morning, I really sensed God's spirit speaking to me. I wrote down this statement in my notes:

Extraordinary expectations require extraordinary preparation.

I am just beginning to grasp the meaning of this statement.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thoughts on the Ted Haggard Scandal

Many blogging pastors have piped in on the Ted Haggard scandal. We don't yet know what the truth is. We do know the fallout that is taking place from the accusations and we know that by his own admission some of the accusations are true.

I hate it. I really, really hate it. I don't hate it because Ted Haggard has somehow let me down or that there will undoubtedly be tremendous fallout against ministry leaders and evangelicals. What I hate is that another man of God is struggling with the main thing. I don't know Ted Haggard. I have read about him and I have read one of his books. I do know this though. Most ministers don't choose the road to ministry and church planting because they want a good, fun, or easy life. They choose it because they love God and want to serve Him. I believe that all effective ministry begins with a deep passion for God and Ted Haggard is no excpetion.

This morning in my devotion I was reading about King Asa in Jim Cymbala's book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. If you read through the account in 2 Chronicles 14-16 you will see a man who mysteriously had a deep faith in God after 2 generations of idolatrous predecessors. He destroyed all of the idols and high places and had deep faith in God to defeat powerful enemies. He even deposed his own grandmother from her throne as the Queen Mother and cut down her asherah pole.

In Cymbala's words

"Twenty-five years went by. Somewhere along the way - as has happened to many churches, pastors, choir directors and whole denominations - Asa stopped feeling his need to seek the Lord. We don't know why. We don't know whether the cares of life somehow made him spiritually soft. Maybe he thought he had reached a spiritual pinnacle and could relax. But the Bible teaches that we are always either drawing near to God or falling away. There is no holding pattern."

Asa never returned to the Lord that he once served wholheartedly. The Bible says "though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord . . . in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died. (2 Chron 16:12-13).

I am not saying that Haggard is like King Asa. I have no idea. I just think that this scandal should make pastors take a deep look at themselves. What ever the extent of Haggard's sin, we are never far away. If we are seeking to fulfill the Great Commission we will at times be attacked, scrutinized, criticized, over-worked, rewarded, blessed and revered. We will feel tired, discouraged, defeated, energized, anointed, and sometimes even unstoppable. Many will struggle at times with depression or pride and maybe swing back and forth like a pendulum ticking on a time bomb ready to explode.

We must find our comfort, encouragement and security in Christ. The Bible is full of verses that tell us to "SEEK" the Lord. If we seek Him with all of our heart He will be found (Jer 29:13) and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Heb 11:6).

Check out Mark Driscoll's blog for thoughts on ways to guard ourselves. This scandal should be a wake-up call for every ministry leader to do some self evaluation. We can address the sins or dangers in our lives like David or we can or we can ignore them like Asa did. Asa was told you have done a foolish thing and from now on you will be at war (2 Chron 16:9).

This has got me thinking. I don't want to be at war for the rest of my life.