Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Picks Sarah Palin, Alaska's 44 Year Old Governor, as VP

Well, I had planned on blogging today about Barak Obama's Democratic nomination presidential acceptance speech last night. And then the news of John McCain's vice presidential pick began to leak out.

According to reports, McCain has picked Sarah Palin, the young Alaskan governor. She is pro-life, a mother of five (one child with Down's Syndrome), a former Ms. Alaska runner-up, and clearly an outsider to Washington.

McCain has definitely succeeded in changing the conversation from Obama's historic night. This will give some excitement and interest to McCain's campaign. And this is a play for disenchanted Hillary Clinton supporters, who are disappointed that she was not the Democratic nominee. These are positives for him.

On the negative side, she only has two and a half years of experience in state wide office. This makes it harder to make the experience argument against Barak, which is easily one of the best arguments against him.

This is definitely a gamble, which speaks a lot of McCain's personality. It looks like he really is a Maverick.

What do you think of McCain's pick?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brian McLaren Endorses Obama - Should this be the role of a religious leader?

Well known Christian author Brian McLaren endorses Barak Obama for president in this youtube video. Should this be the role of a religious leader?

The long history of Christendom shows the dangers of the church being too closely aligned with the state. Inevitably, the church begins to use power to accomplish its purpose, rather than transformation. And corruption seems to quickly follow. Furthermore, many non-Christians see Christians as being too involved in politics.

On the other hand, should Christians pretend like the politial process has no bearing on our faith? What about Rick Warren's interviews with Obama and McCain? Was this a good or bad thing?

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Office: What challenges do you face at work?

One series that I am planning coming up will be "The Office: Practical Christianity at Work" or something like that. More and more, people are looking for help in living out their faith in practical ways. They want help in daily Christian living.

In the past, Christianity has been perpetuated as primarily a Sunday thing. Spiritual gifts were determined so you could serve on Sunday. In the church building. In the nursery. Etc. Things are great things to do and great places to serve. But so often, there was zero application for the overwhelming amount of time people spend in their neighborhoods, at home, and in the workplace. This is why in our Spiritual gifts assessments, we seek to cover all of these areas, and not just sign people up for church-based ministries.

So, to help me in this series, I ask you--what challenges do you face in your job/workplace?
What stresses?
What frustrations?
What challenges to your faith?
To your ethics?
To your morality?
To your family?
What is life like in corporate America?
What is your boss like? Your colleagues?

What opportunities do you see?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We can not get enough food---for those who are in need

When I say that we can not get enough food, I do not mean us personally. Most of our waistlines attest that we get enough food. I am talking about food for our food pantry.

We put out a call last week to our members, alerting them that our food pantry was empty. On Sunday, we had bags and bags of food lined up outside the office doors. This shows the great hearts of our people, who respond generously when they know about needs.
This week--unbelievably, most of the food is all gone. We have had a flood of people coming in who need groceries. We give them food and pray for them. One man, Christopher, when I asked if we could pray for him, hugged me and starting crying uncontrollably. As Linda, our secretary, and I prayed for him, he continued to cry. He has seven children, and wants to provide for his family. He said that his grandfather was a Baptist minister, and that his grandfather said that if he needed help, the church would be there for him.

Christopher was also interested in work. Interestingly--coincidentally--providentially?--someone (we are not sure who) called in this week to the office, saying that they needed some fence work done. When Christopher said that he was interested in work, Linda told him about the fence work that needed to be done. He said, "I'm a fencer." So we are going to try to follow-up on this. Coincidence--or providence?
I plan on communicating to our members that the food pantry is a constant need, not a one time emergency low. With the downturn in the economy, our location, and what we are asking God to do--to use us serving the community--we are getting a tremendous number of people coming in. We spent almost half the morning today distributing food, talking with, and praying for those who came in. If we will each just buy a little extra when we get our groceries and bring in, we can continue to provide food for our community.
How do stories of people like Christopher affect you?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Providing Work for Those in Need

We're back!

There is a lot of "catch-up" to do from being gone. You know how it goes. But with email and my Blackjack, there were not too many surprises. With email and my Blackjack phone, for better or for worse, I kept up with most of what was happening while away. You are less overwhelmed when you get back, but you are potentially more distracted while gone. Maybe we should just check email while traveling to and from our vacation spot.

One thing that is clear is that there are still a number of ministries that we need to develop/shore up, such as the Young Professionals ministry, ministry to widows, etc.

Another ministry that we need to develop is that of providing work for those who need it. We always give food and clothing for those who come in to the church building who have financial needs; however, there are often other, legitimate needs that we cannot meet. A Hispanic man named Christopher came in today needing help with his electricity bill. We do not have funds for this, but I offered him some yard work for $10 an hour at my house. (This is the second guy I have employed.) He was very eager to do this. So he will be here shortly, and I'll get him started.

We need to get a list of people who would be willing to offer work for those who need it. Yard work seems to fit the background of most of those who are coming in. It also is a bit safer, since it is outside. The people coming in, however, have not seemed like threats at all. They simply need work.

Would you be willing to offer work to those who need it? If so, what kind of work would you offer?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Alan Hirsch is coming out with two new books!

Alan Hirsch, world renowned missional leader, author, and my teacher at Fuller Theological Seminary, is coming out with two new books by November. I could not be more thrilled. The first is The Forgotten Ways Handbook, a practical, follow-up work to The Forgotten Ways. The Forgotten Ways is the best book I've read on creating missional church movements, structures, and leadership in a local church. My class was blessed to be one of the first to go through this material, as Alan gave us a pre-publication copy and went through the material with us. The missional handbook should be a great practical tool. See

The second work, ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, is a Christological look for how we should live, based upon the lifestyle of Jesus. I know that Alan has been working on this book for a couple of years now with Michael Frost (a phenomenal speaker and evangelist).

There is an interesting phenomenon about Alan's works. Most people who have a heart or gifting for mission read them and think, wow, this is dead on. It is--true, so very true. It touches on all of the things that I've been thinking about. In fact, I probably could have written this book or would have over time. In discussing this with him over lunch one day at a little diner in Pasadena, Alan said that this feeling was a common phenomen. He took it as a sign that this was the work of the Holy Spirit, and that these thoughts were not just things that he had dreamed up on his own.

If you are interested in the missional movement, you could not do better than to read Hirsh's works. Here is the link to the works on Alan's blog.

Have you read any of Hirsh's works? Did you get any sense that you had had some of these ideas somewhere in your mind?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Huge Turnout for Habitat Orientation--Workers needed tomorrow at 7:15 AM!

We're in Colorado right now, but the one ministry we've kept very close in thoughts and prayers (and communication) is Habitat for Humanity. God has answered our prayers! On Wednesday night, we had a huge turnout for the Habitat orientation, and one hundred and seven people signed up for this ministry.

I could not be more thrilled! This is yet another sign that God is working on the hearts of the congregation at High Pointe, and that more and more people are getting excited about serving and reaching out to our community. For more information about being a part of Habitat, and some of the reasons to do so, see

The woman from Habitat who did the orientation was overwhelmed by the church's response. And as I understant it, Habitat is already calling upon the High Pointe community to serve--tomorrow! For High Pointe members, let Chris know that you can come tomorrow morning. Habitat workers will need to meet at the church building at 7:15 AM. Chris will have coffee and donuts!

Pictures of Our Family at Glenwood Caverns in Colorado

Here are some pictures of our family at Glenwood Caverns. We took a trolley ride up the mountain, where the caves are located.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pictures of Our Family at Hanging Lake in Colorado

Below are some pictures of our family at Hanging Lake in Colorado, taken yesterday.

Caves and Mountain Climbing in Colorado

On Tuesday, we went and explored the 2nd largest cave in Colorado. It is located up at the top of a mountain. So we took a trolley up the mountain and spent an hour or two going through the cave. At the top of this mountain, there are also a lot of rides. One ride swings you out over the side of the mountain. I was going to do this, but they were having mechanical challenges. They said if I waited, they would keep testing it and might have it ready. That was enough to scare me away.

So I spent my ticket on rock climbing with Gina. This is that fake rock climbing, with harnesses and all. Surprisingly, Gina made it about a third of the way up the rock. I made it all the way without falling! A regular Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible).

Then yesterday we all went to Hanging Rock Lake to hike up a mountain there. It was a 1.2 mile hike, going up a couple thousand feet. We thought for sure that the girls would only go on a fraction of this hike. Amazingly, both Gina and Emily--our seven and four year olds--made the entire trip, both up and down. This was a challenging climb for adults. For their little bodies, it was about a 4-5 mile trek. I still can't believe that they made it.

At the top of the mountain there is a small lake and a waterfall. I put my feet in the water. It was ice cold.

I'm not a big hiking guy, but this was a memorable experience, and the kids really seemed to love it. I think that Emily in particular was proud of herself for making the trek.

The picture here is a picture of the waterfall and lake at the top of Hanging Rock Lake. We have some more good pictures of our caving and mountain climbing adventures that I'll add to this post, so check back soon!

Have you been cave exploring or mountain climbing?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm Praying for the Habitat for Humanity Orientation Tonight

We had a good day today, which I will post about soon. I just wanted to take a moment to say that I'm praying for the Habitat for Humanity orientation meeting tonight (7:00 PM, High Pointe). See for more information about Habitat. I'm praying for a great turnout and that many people sign up, both members and friends of members from the community, to help with this effort. I am also excited that we have some great young leaders for this ministry--Trent and Amanda and Chris. This ministry has tremendous potential to build relationships, to shine our light in the community, and to bless the lives of others. I'm looking forward to hearing great things about tonight's meeting.

Have you participated in Habitat for Humanity? What do you think of this ministry?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Greetings from Colorado--how do you spend your vacations?

Hello all. We got in last night to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, at about 9:00 PM. The girls traveled great, as usual. We do not have a dvd player in the car, and right now like not having one. The girls read, play, talk, sing. All that stuff kids used to do before tv and video games. Hey, there are plenty of times I admit to usually a movie to calm the kids down. We're just blessed that our kids travel so well (most of the time).

The weather here is great--a predicted high of 86 today and very cool in the evening. August is definitely the time to visit Colorado if you are living in Texas. We are looking forward to seeing some caves, doing some rafting, and just relaxing. I don't like a lot of planned things for vacation, instead preferring to "go with the flow" and do things as they strike me. The rest of my life is so full, I don't need a crammed full vacation.

By the way, the consensus on the informal poll I got about men and women driving on trips was this: men drive 70-100% of the time.

So how do you like your vacations--a lot of planned activities and things to do, or very non-planned and spontaneous?

Monday, August 11, 2008

On the road to Colorado

Hello all. We are on the road to Colorado to see Becki's mother. It is a two day trip. Becki's mother moved to Colorado a couple of years ago, and we have not yet seen her out there. So we are getting this trip in before school starts.

I'm doing some reading on theology and pop culture, so I should have some interesting insights to share soon. And if Becki let's me take a break from driving, and my wireless card works, then I'll be able to blog again today.

Just curious - what is the percentage split of you and your spouse (male/female) of driving on trips?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New cameras show scientists seeking to copy God's designs

I read a news story this morning that said that a new camera was coming out that was shaped like an eye. The article said that scientists were seeking to copy one of "nature's best designs." See

It turns out that the best design for camera's is the same design for the "cameras" found in humans--our eyes. However, this is not nature's design, but God's.

As amazing as technology is--and I have the sound and audio equipment to prove it--nothing can beat the amazing capability, fluidity, proficiency, and beauty of the human body. Evidence of a creator? Or as Richard Dawkins would believe, were we created by aliens from another galaxy? I choose to believe in a creator.

Do you think that the beauty and complexity in nature is an evidence of God? What would the counter argument be?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sunday Reflections - A Very Human Savior

Yesterday I spoke on the humanity of Jesus. Too often we dismiss Jesus' incredibly devoted life, saying, well of course he lived like that--he was the Son of God. But Philippians 2:5-8 tells us that Jesus gave up his equality with God, emptying himself and becoming nothing. He did not overcome temptation, focus on mission, love the poor and everything else that he did because he was just sort of human. He did these as a man--empowered by God, yes--but as a man.
It was Alan Hirsch ( who first exposed me to the thought that the haloed superJesus of most artwork was easy to dismiss. He was too far distant from us to have any impact.
But the earthly, fleshly, human Jesus who lived for God--that sort of takes away all of our excuses.
Last night we went to the small group of a young family, Travis and Stacey. Travis did a great job leading a discussion over the sermon. It was great to hear that this sermon hit home, and that the practical application was helpful. Perhaps that was what was most encouraging, that a heady theological topic like Jesus' essential nature could be seen as helpful in people's daily lives.
What we believe about God/Jesus really does impact our behavior.
Have you thought of Jesus as human or just sort of human? How does that affect the application of his life to yours?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

How the "Competition" strength can be used in life and ministry

I had another good Strengths and Spiritual gifts session this morning with a great young married couple, Chris and Christy. Chris and Christy are one of the couples that we first got together with at High POinte, and we have kids that are similar in age, so we have always felt a good connection with them.

As usual, there were many things that we were able to confirm that they were already doing in their lives with their Strengths and Spiritual gifts. And we were also able to identify some possible new areas of service, such as Habitat for Humanity, help with benevolenve, raising giving for meaningful works, and more.

One interesting Strength that was identified in the session is Competition. Those with this strength like to measure their performance in comparitive terms and want to "win." I remember my professor, Reggie McNeal, at Fuller explaining this Strength. He noted that we are in competition with Satan, that we can compete against ourselves, and that a healthy competition with others can help us spur one another on to love and good works.

When you combine Competition with say, Achiever, goals and "winning" become extremely important. What this means is that someone with these Strengths will want to serve in ways where there is measurable progress, and where the ministry is always increasing. So for instance, in giving, increasing the goals of giving is much for exciting than just making numbers add up to meet a budget.

Even mundane tasks can become more fun for those with a Competition strength if they are made into a contest. Like, who can complete the most household chores or who can do it the fastest.

Each of us is made uniquely by God, and it is important for us to frame different ministries or actions in the way that best motivates us. It is the task of church leaders to help others reframe and motive them for ministry.

How else can a "Competition" strength be used in a positive way in life and ministry?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Giving work to a Hispanic who came by the church building

A man named Rigoberto dropped by the church building today. He said that he needed money to pay his bills, which turn out to be tickets. He said that he was out of work. I asked him what he did, and he said landscaping. He had only been getting $6/hour, and it all went towards gas anyway.

So, I had the idea, why not pay Rigoberto to do some landscaping work at our house? So, after giving him food, I offered this idea. After talking for a while, he said that he would be interested in this. So next Monday he is supposed to come back to the building, and then he'll follow me back to our house and start some landscaping work. I offered him $10/hour. We'll see if he comes back. If he is interested in working, then I want to help.

Is it good to offer work to those seeking help? Or should we just give people money who ask?