Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Church Followership Poll

In regard to your church leadership, which is closest to how you feel?

a. Delighted in their leadership in most ways and gladly follow in the direction they are headed.
b. Somewhat happy with them because I know we need leadership and at least they are willing to serve.
c. Quietly frustrated in their leadership styles because they won't take the risks that you think would help the church grow and mature.
d. I am silently obedient to the leadership's faces but have expressed my frustration with my closest friends.
e. I am openly critical of them but I do what they ask me to do.
f. I overtly reject the church leadership.
g. I am utterly apathetic toward the leadership and just flat out don't care.
h. Other.
i. All of the above.
j. None of the above.
k. Simpletons and nincompoops.
l. I am tired of talking about it...just go away..."Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...."
m. Jesus (only a choice because every religious test has this answer).

What is the main source of your frustration? What responsibility do you think you have to the leadership of your church?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Who Taught you to Pray?

How did you learn to pray? Did you pick it up by listening to others around you (which would be OK if they know what they are doing) or did you pick up it by osmosis? Do you ask God for your material or do you come up with it on your own? Have you ever be formally mentored in prayer? If not, would you be interested in that?

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Avatar is Cooler Than Me

The title says it all. On Farmtown (Facebook), my avatar is easy going, quick to befriend, talk, and be open. I am some of those things in degree but not nearly so as my avatar. My avatar was even sharing about Jesus with another farmer who hired me and the conversation just was easy.

My avatar has a biting wit, is slightly sarcastic and very, very competitive. OK, OK, so the competitive part of my avatar is me to a 'T.' I can out plant, out plow, out harvest anyone else I have come up against so far.

For those of you who haven't done Farmtown, Farmville, or Yoville, I am the one running my avatar, controlling its motions, typing what it says....It is just easier with a cloak of anonymity. Granted I am talking about Jesus when I think I can get away with it...I guess I am the Farmtown evangelist....and that does not pay very well.

Are your avatars cooler than you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Judge Not

Our preacher this past weekend talked about judging others. Here are some of my thoughts about it:

God judges us yet still loves us. Why? God is a God of Justice and He is the God of Grace and Mercy. God is going to challenge our sin (which deserves rejection and condemnation) because he doesn't want us to linger in sin. He handles judging with grace and mercy because He loves us. He wants us to repent because in doing so, we acknowledge our own responsibility in our sin.'s our only way out of it and back to Him. After judgement, He woos us back to Him because He loves us and constantly longs for fellowship with us. Do you see a pattern between judging and loving? Yeah, its there!

Judgement has a place when the aim is the preservation and restoration of others. There is a difference in judgement and condemnation. God uses judgement to bring us back to Him, to restore the severed relationship that sin causes. We can only judge others if we love them , otherwise we condemn them. So if we judge, we are not to condemn. We are to love people, first and foremost. We are not to judge (condemn) those we don't know or love.

Condemnation is judgement without love or relationship. Condemnation looks down on the other as bad, unforgivable and beyond help. Condemnation shuns others as "less than," creating a burden of shame.

What do you think about judging others? Comments?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Places I Have Lived

Its been a rough week so I decided to list the places I have lived. Here's my list of where my journey has taken me:

1. Murray, KY... born there

2. Palmersville, TN in Weakley County...(lived there out in the country on the farm that has been in my family for many generations) This place was deeded to my family after the Revolutionary War. It has three family cemeteries dating into the early 1800's.

3. Sharon TN lived there 2 0r three years (way out in the country) Dad sold fertilizer, mom raised four kids and ran a small dairy.

4. Paonia, CO went to first to twelfth grade here (lived three miles from town on a farm) I milked cows every morning and evening and fed hay to 30-60 head of cows twice a day. We grew 95% of our own food and put the excess in cars at church that weren't locked. It is in the North Fork Valley of the Gunnison, surrounded by 12,000 to 13,000 foot mountains. Dad was a fruit farmer and worked in the coal mine. My mom worked at the coal mines four years and worked even harder running the farm (and raising four kids). We moved there to help a struggling church as vocational missionaries...they are still there working with the same church, creating a close knit family of believers. I was the president of FFA and the World Travel Club and broke my back wrestling Troy Dunham from Olathe my senior year.

5. Edmond/Oklahoma City, OK went to college at OCC (now OCUSA) Moved here one week after graduating high school. I grew up fast and learned that the world is not always a friendly, happy place like Paonia. It was a launching pad for learning how to do relationships, friendships, and life vocation. I got the confidence to dream that God may have a purpose for me in my life and learned I was actually kinda of smart (a fact not indicated by previous grades or effort).

6. Abilene, TX Went to Abilene Christian University. Met my wife here as we were both working on our Master's degrees. Also met Rick Collett, who was my best friend and Best Man for my wedding. I was the youth minister for a year for the Highway 36 Church of Christ, 18 miles SE of Abilene. Awesome. My mentors Ed Headrick and Charles Rudolph were instrumental in helping me grow intellectually and spiritually.

7. Denton, TX My wife and I were both accepted into the Counseling Psychology PhD program here. Met some very good friends who supported us through the birth of our first child, a traumatic yet wonderful time of learning to help a medically fragile, special needs child. He wasn't supposed to live through the first he is 17 years old.

8. Irving, TX After my son was born, we needed to be close to family, friends and nurses who would take on the load of his care with us. Eva, Lori, Robin, Amy, and Becky have all become a part of our family. We also expanded our family with two more sons, finished our PhDs and have accumulated even more friends, who are our brothers and sisters...our boys see them as family. We also lost our precious friend (and Jared's nurse) Robin to breast cancer three years ago while we lived here...we still feel the loss of her in our family.

Have you been to any of these places? Where have you lived?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Personal God

I was locked in my car with my mother-in-law for a solid hour last week (I actually reeeeaaalllly like her, really) and she was talking about how people need a personal invitation for them to come to church. She was telling story after story of people who had never darkened the door of a church until she personally went to them and invited them. She was even willing to use the "as a personal favor to me..." card and the "I want you to share this with me...." card to get people to go somewhere with her....and I think she is dead on.

General, beat around the bush hints and the "they will see my life and become so impressed with Jesus and want what I have" stuff is not working for most of the sane world. People want the personal touch. They want to know you are interested in them, that you like them enough to ask. They want their invitation to be heart-felt, genuine and caring. They want you to be as personal as the God you say you follow, and they want to see it again and again.

I have had to ask people 3, 4 up to 10 times to attend a function with me. I am patient with them as they refuse me again and again. But if God is speaking in my ear to invite them, then I am going to do that, over and over again. Gently. Lovingly (not Tough-Loving-ly). Kindly. Over coffee or a piece of pie, they want to know you and be reassured that you like them (or love them). Kinda like when God knocked on my heart to come in...not pushy or cloying....just a nudge here and there.

If there is someone out there who needs what you have, invite them with you. You may be amazed at what happens.

PS. I just read this to my mother-in-law. She laughed. She said that the women's Bible Study she is a part of is overwhelmed with the number of women who signed up...mainly because ten or so women started personally inviting their friends to come. An unprecedented number of women signed up, twice the number that the expected. Maybe their is something to a personal invitation from a personal God....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

1/3, 1/3, 1/3

When I was younger, I wanted people to like me. In order for everyone to think I was cool, I was willing to do things that I will not mention here (because if you knew them, you might think I was uncool) just to get attention. All the antics, all the joking, all the goofy things I did to get a laugh or a "I can't believe you just..." was to get other's approval, get them to like or notice me. But at what cost?

My brother, Tim, once said that if "some people aren't mad at you, you're not doing what you ought to." That got me thinking. If you do the right thing, if you do what God wants you to do, if you are completely obedient to the Lord, some people are not going to like you. I have personally known many people, preachers, professional athletes, business executives, doctors, etc., who lived for the next "approval high" and in the process, lost who they were as people...lost what made them interesting in the first place. People pleasers actually lose their appeal when they try to please others over being authentic and genuine. Living a lie is rarely appealing.

Doing things for approval is like a penguin flapping its wings to fly. Its just not going to be enough. The harder it flaps the more nothing happens. If people don't approve of you, that is their problem, not yours. If they can't like you for who you are, then they are not going to like you for being who you aren't.

You have to look inside first, acknowledge the gifts that God has given you and use them. When one uses his/her God given gifts, that is enough. When you try to please someone and do something that is not "you," people aren't actually attracted to that...yes they may be amused or may laugh...but that is not going to fulfill the need you have to be relevant, obedient or purposeful...only God can do that. If we are content with who we are and how God is using us, we don't have the drive to please everyone else.

So that brings me to the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 Theory of Human Relationships. You want a 1/3 of the people to hate you, a 1/3 of the people to love you and a 1/3 of the people to be apathetic toward you. What???!!!??? Those are Jesus' numbers. Think about it. Just being the Messiah caused people to crucify him, worship him, and others ignored what he did...and he was God in the Flesh. Are we trying to get better numbers than Jesus? If we are faithful and obedient to the Lord, 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 is about as good as it should get.

How are your percentages? Do you want everyone to love you or do you want to be obedient?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Swine Flu

Well it turns out my son has swine flu, not strep as we previously thought, and now my family it taking Tamiflu. Just when I thought life couldn't get any more interesting, it did. Funny how God doesn't ask for our permission to be tested and tried. The creator rarely asks the created for a formal written consent, in triplicate, before he sends us on an adventure.

So far, it is just fever, sore throat, whining, complaining and sleeping all the time. It it weren't for the fever and coughing, I would never have known he were sick.

Please be praying that my oldest son, Jared, who is an awesome special needs kid, doesn't get it. He has a fragile immune system and is very susceptible to catching everything going around. He already has a difficult time staying healthy and swine flu would not be good. Pray for God's protection from this virus.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Yesterday, I picked my 16 year old son up from school and he said his orchestra director wanted him to try out for the Lone Star Youth Orchestra....that afternoon at 4:30. The LSYO is an invitation only elite high school orchestra in North son plays cello. The problem is that he has golf practice every afternoon from 2:45 to 6:30....yesterday being no different. So we discussed him taking on yet another activity in addition to his AP classes on the way to the country club where they practice. (Note: talk about a rough life...he HAS to play golf four days a week for 3 1/2 hours at a country club and at Bear Creek Golf Resort...rough life). Add to that my son was sick yesterday afternoon, strep throat.

Anyhow, we pulled up to Las Colinas Country Club and found the coach and players standing around talking. The coach came over and told us that the course was closed for the day. That meant that he could audition for the LSYO, so we ran home, got his cello and made it in time for him to audition.....and he made it....and loved it...and listening to the practice, they are certainly amazing for bunch of teenagers. He walked out of the practice room last night with a huge grin on his face, a pig in mud with a bucketful of slop in the tough.

So is that God's providence, God making a way for something to happen? There were certainly alot of "coincidences" for it to happen like it did. What do you think? Do you have things like that happen to you, where it looks like God is making a way for something to happen?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What Is Your Favorite Food?

I am the cook of our family. Like my Grandmother Helen Montgomery (Gandma Grumm), I can slap together a tasty meal pretty quick...I can usually have something on the table within thirty minutes. I am having culinary brain freeze right now and cannot think of anything to fix for dinner. So give some ideas (and recipes, if they are handy) of what to cook. What is your favorite food? Who cooks it the best?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Love is not Jealous

If love is not jealous, what is it? Trusting? Secure? Relaxed? Content? Undemanding?

I have heard jealousy is the fear of losing what you already have...demanding that another is solely devoted....smothering the other with attention and insisting on the exclusivity of any fears losing its only source of love and therefore clings tighter, thinking the tighter it clings the less likely the person will be to leave.

So, love holds on loosely and allows the other to choose to be there instead of demanding it. Demanding that one love you turns love into obligation and "have to"....and very few of respond well to having love choked out of their life. The jealous person doesn't realize that the tighter the cling, the more repulsive and oppressive they become until the object of their jealousy has no choice but to run.

But love trusts that love is sure and true. Love is secure that despite flaws and weaknesses, love will last. Love realizes the other must have freedom to choose or becomes something other than love. Love relaxes because it knows that love will be returned in its own time. Love is at peace because there is stability.

How has jealosy (yours or others) affected your relationships?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Love is Kind

Kindness doing small things with love. Kindness considers what the other person likes/wants when expressing love to another. When my wife and I got married, we both made a list for the other with the heading:

I feel cared about when:

...and each of us listed 50-100 things the other could do for us to show that we care. Little things. Individual and unique to each of us. Free things. Caring deeds that indicate I care about her that I might otherwise not know. Here are a few of my wife's:
Back rub.
Mini Snickers from the store.
Run a bubble bath.
Make the bed.
Open the car door for me.
Do the dishes.
Cook dinner. Mac and cheese, sausage and green beans.
Talk for five minutes about myself.
Put my arm around her during church.
Hold hands.
Ask about her day.
Jewelry (any and all)
Spooning in bed
Pray with her.
Snuggle with her while watching a movie on the couch
Leave love notes where she will happen upon them during her day

Kindness says that I love her without using words. Each one is a voluntary, spontaneous expression of the great love in my heart where my words fall short. Caring deeds are the proof and delight of my love for her.

And to think, God is love...God is kind. God constantly pours blessings out on me and my family as a way of expressing His love to me. More than Scripture saying it...He proves it by the hundreds of things that I find that are good and right in my life.

But He also wants me to care about Him. He wants me to do things, spontaneous and voluntary, that show I care. Any relationship thrives on kindness and our relationship with God is no exception. It's more than obedience, although God digs that. Kindness shows God that I am thinking of Him, that I want Him, that He means something to me.

What do you do that shows this level of intimacy with your spouse, family or God?

Friday, September 4, 2009

You Can't Hurry God

I have attended worship services before where every minute was planned, filled and taken. Before one song was finished the guy leading the next prayer was already walking song ends and the next song begins with the next breath. Is it possible that when "do church" this way, there is no time for God to speak or move among His people? Do we even want God to move among His people during a worship service?

Granted the flesh wants to be entertained and can't stand a moment of silence. Why? Because the flesh is very uncomfortable during the silence after praise. Why? Because God tends to speak during that time and the flesh has no time for listening or obeying God. Why? Because the "religious fleshly self" wants the time filled with interesting God things but doesn't want to engage with God Himself. Why? Because deep down in each one of us, the flesh and Spirit are in a battle for our attention. Silence after praise and worship gives the Spirit the room to move and act for a while.

This reminds me of the statement: Don't just do something, sit there! It has been my experience that God likes some quiet, unplanned time to speak to me. After praise and worship, He waits until my flesh is quieted before He talks to me. Sometimes I have waited 5, 10, even 20 minutes before I felt His quickening my heart and heard his still, small voice. But the wait is worth it. To me, it is the purpose and reason for me praising and worshipping in the first place. God may not be near as impressed with our worship services as we might think He is if He is not allowed to move among His people.

So my encouragement is: Don't hurry God. Be patient. Don’t rush. Keep it simple. Allow there to be times of silence during the breaks between songs and prayers. Give God an opportunity to speak and work. You'll be glad you did.

When does God speak to you?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jesus Friend of Sinners

I have never known a life without Jesus. My parents were both Christians and started me on my own spiritual journey early in life. I had friends that were Christians, went to Christian universities, married a Christian and have many Christian friends from many different denominations. To top it off, I live in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt.

Jesus' life changed how kings and governments rule. He changed how husbands treated their wives and how parents treat their children. His influence caused love to be acted upon in the world. He has influenced how employees work for their bosses and how bosses treat their employees. He offered a new way for people to find God, without all the rules, rituals and hypocrisy. Even in parts of the world that deny his deity, he still affects them in subtle, but profound ways. Since his Crucifixion, the world has been different. Since his infectious and sacrificial love was unleashed the entire world has benefited. People who have not accepted him as Savior and King still live in a world affected by his benevolence and kindness. The benevolence and sacrifice of His people have changed even the remotest areas of the world.

Because of Jesus, I want to give to the poor, help the needy, and attend to the sick. I want to carry fast food gift certificates in my truck to hand to the "Will Work for Food (or Beer)" folks who hang out on street corners. I want to help them in some small way. I want to be kind and hospitable. I like mowing my neighbor's yard (without them knowing) or loan out my pickup to help someone move. I dig that. It expresses the true nature of Jesus in me.

Yes, I know bad things have been done in the name of religion. Yes, I know about the Crusades and the cults that have destroyed the lives of many. I am well aware of the fact that Christians are NOT perfect (or even remotely close). But regardless of what we have done to pervert his name, he still reigns and rules. Despite our imperfections and brief forrays into the flesh, His love still overcomes sin and his love still affects the entire world through his people. His love is still being perfected in many imperfect people who seek to know Him and obey Him. I am counted as one of those.

Jesus is cool. He sought me out and became my friend. His love has changed my life and I have passed that on to many others. How has He affected you?

Love is Patient

Patience is the fruit of the Spirit that we all want to eat but we pick it before it is ripe. I have always heard one should not pray for patience for, in doing so, it unleashes a avalanche of learning opportunities ( aka., frustrating acts) and, therefore, develops patience. I have always prayed for patience with the caveat for God to have mercy on me but each time, the time worn saying holds true....lights turn red, children act like...well...children, and you always choose the slow line at the grocery store. So goes life.

Patience may be best described by its absence. We all have known someone (perhaps even ourselves) that is know, the one who hates to stand in line, speeds through intersections as the light turns from yellow to red, who yells at their children in exasperation, who picks the apple before it is ripe, who got DSL for internet because the other was too slow, or impulsively acts when restraint is the best choice. We have all been there, done that, except for some righteous soul who lives in a far away country in a far away place.

But patience is more than not acting impatient. Patience requires asking God for direction then listening. Patience requires one to follow God's direction and timing in every circumstance. God may have helped you choose a line in the grocery store that had someone in it He wanted you to speak and minister to. God may be teaching your children patience through you. God may want you to slow down at the stoplight and pray for someone He places on your heart. God may want you to wait to pick the fruit because it is so much sweeter when it is ripe.

If one is filled with the Spirit then he/she allows the the Spirit of God the time to move. Each instance of impatience is an opportunity to wait on God....and Scripture says God does not disappoint. So ask God what your next step is... and obey.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Tale of the Scales

Let's say you have two bathroom scales, one which is accurate (arg!) and the other weighs you lighter from 3 to 6 pounds than your actual weight. Which do you use? Why?