Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday

My dad says thanksgiving is the best holiday. I agree with him. Thanksgiving is the unpretentious holiday. Easter has it's eggs, Easter bunny and candy. Christmas of course has 'Old Saint Nic and all the commercialism. Thanksgiving has well, you know what I'm saying. It's just not that showy.

This year we had one of our best Thanksgivings. It was very different than what I have experienced most of my life. We were with family, but it was a different kind of family. Sure, all of my immediate family was with us, but there were really no grandparents or cousins. You see, as important as blood family is there is another kind of family that is very crucial.

4 families came together to celebrate Thanksgiving at one of our friends houses in East Texas. It was beautiful to see the backgrounds, ages and perspectives collide for a couple of days. The Murrays have just adopted a little girl while the Roeces and ourselves are continuing to try to figure out how to parent teens. I was able to teach Bryan how to fish. It was truly amazing.

Sitting around the fire there was great discussion. Whether it was about the character of God or simply trying to figure out what makes each other tick, the diverse and heart felt perspective was always engaging.

Sure we had great mesquite smoked turkey, ribs and brisket, but the food wasn't the star. It was the community. My friend Jackie says Americans don't really know what it means to live together in community. She would love for all of us to learn what it's like to live together, not like a monastery but like a mission. A place where people share what they have and reach out to others who are hurting no matter what their religious or spiritual background. I think she's on to something. Maybe we experienced a little piece of that that last few days.

Here's a little caution, community is almost never convenient or comfortable. When we are involved in each others lives it gets messy, time consuming and tiring. But consider the alternative. Aloneness is not God's design. Being one aa Jesus and the Father are one is his design.

So, happy Thanksgiving a little late. May we be people who set aside convenience for community. It's worth it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rick and Nancy

This morning I’m sitting at Rick and Nancy Beggs house with some strange memories. I remember sitting here having some wine trying to figure out life and what God was doing with the journey we were on. In fact as I sit here there is a flood of emotion that comes from a period of deep pain but great anticipation in my life.

In this room there has been lots of laughter and most likely some tears. I haven’t been here tons of times but the times I have been here have had tons of significance.

I really love Rick and Nancy. They're are the kind of people I would like to become. They’re gracious, hospitable, transparent and authentic. They love Jesus and love others really well. Although our paths only crossed for a few years they have left and continue to leave a mark on Julie and me.

Thank God for people like them. It’s once again a fresh reminder that God never intended for us to walk alone.

May God give us the grace to encounter people and be people that love others well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


For some reason God seems to work in unusual ways on retreats. Many of you have had a camp or retreat experience where God seemed to be closer and more active than usual. Perhaps it's because we finally hit the "pause" button. You know, we take the time to jump off the rat wheel to take a deep breath, and then exhale. Last weekend at Sky Ranch would be one of those times for our high school ministry.

As soon as students arrived you could tell something cool was happening. It seemed there was a sense of anticipation and hope about what this weekend would bring. Soon after everyone arrived every adult and student found a quite place to ask God one simple question, "God, what do you want to do in me this weekend?"

We had simply been asking God to help us connect with Him and each other in a fresh way. He did. We are still hearing stories.

One issue that is damaging to community and "togetherness" is unforgiveness. One student shared that he has to work on forgiving his father who has essentially abandoned and rejected him. That's God sized stuff. Another student said she understood and embraced the gospel for first time. She is now a Jesus follower.

When you look at us as a group it would seem we don't really "fit" with each other. There is all kinds of economic, racial, interest, religious, etc. diversity, but God seems to be melting our hearts together. Over the weekend students prayed together, shared food together, played together, and worshiped together, connecting with God and connecting with each other.

Hitting the pause button is kind of important. I wonder how often God is working and speaking but we're moving too fast to sit and listen to Him and others.

May we be people who make space in our lives to be still. Will you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Exxon Man

The coolest thing just happened. I was at the Exxon station here in beautiful Flower Mound Texas after hanging out with some high school kids at Chick-F-La. Out of nowhere a truck driver walked up and started talking to me.

He drove one of those huge tanker trucks that delivers gas. I know he was an Exxon man because he was wearing a hard hat that said "Exxon". I'm smart that way.

He was just nice and cheery. Not in an artificial, annoying way but in an organic natural way. He asked me a couple of questions. "Are you on your way to work or just somewhere to relax?" (I had on my sweat pants) I said "oh, neither". Then he told me he didn't want to take up any of my time. He wasn't, I was pumping gas.

Then came the big question, "I have here a gospel tract, would it be ok if I gave it to you?" Now, honestly this isn't really my style at all. I like to build relationships with people and share my life in such a way that gives me opportunity to live out the gospel before them. Kind of a share the gospel at all times and if necessary use words approach.

My response to the Exxon man? "Absolutely" He then said this, "this may be the only opportunity today for you to hear that God loves you".

It made my day! I'm so thankful I ran into him. Some of you are hoping I meditate on the tract and finally got saved. I didn't, but it did remind me that we are to boldly live out and speak the gospel in every aspect of our lives. At church, the restaurant, our work place, our school, our sports team or club and yes even the Exxon station.

May we have a whimsical, bold and gentle delivery of the gospel today, whether we wear a hard hat or not. Will we?