Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Mother's Legacy

Whew. We just did a whirl-wind tour of Dallas. 900 miles in 30 hours! I mentioned in my last post about some of my inner formation that were shaped by my father. This wouldn't be complete without mentioning my mom, Linda. She raised the three of us pretty much by herself, and there's a lot of me that I owe to her, too. There's no way to "capture" Linda Bishop with words. She's a woman that you just need to meet.
My mom is the 6th of 7 kids. A native of Ohio, she has retained much of her "Yankee-ness." I know that our family up north thinks we talk like Texans, you can tell my mom is a transplant. From her fake whistle (she yells, "Fwee-oh-Fweet.") to making creole burgers, much of her life growing up made it into our lives.
Her life has been pretty amazing. She's been a physicians assistant, a dance instructor, a collections specialist, a baseball/softball coach, our PTA room mother, Santa Clause, and a myriad of other things. With my dad's absence during my childhood, mom often played both roles, and did so remarkably well; like one of those successful movie moms in the after school specials. I remember once, when my dad had quit coaching my little-league baseball team, The Cubs, mom took over. During batting practice, we beat her shins black-and-blue! She would play Santa Clause for our school classes, and we never knew it was her. An amazing woman.
She is a lady with a huge heart. When we were growing up, she would not let us have a dog. We thought it was because she hated dogs. It turns out, it's because she has a huge heart. She didn't want to have to deal with a dog dying, or explaining it to us, or the other myriad things that could happen with a dog. Her love of people and her heart would cost her lunch most days. As she went to work in Dallas each morning, she would hand her lunch to the homeless guy at the corner by her work. She didn't have money to give him, but what she had, she gave. She's always been a giver. I learned to think of others because of her.
When my dad left in 1984, she went back to work trying to make ends meet for us. A single woman working a minimum wage job to pay for our large house, swimming pool, and refinanced vehicles, my mom never gave up or gave in. She is tenacious. To this day, she's tenacious. And, as with anyone, that's good and bad. Thinking about what she instilled in me, this tenacity always comes to mind. She modeled for me what it means to take charge and get after it. Many of you who know me and her will recognize this. It's something I love about watching her live life. No excuses, no whining, just get the job done. But, it's also something that keeps us from asking for help, admitting when we're wrong, or graciously losing an argument! And all of you who know me will recognize that!
Something else she taught me was to give my all, and when that runs out, give some more. My mom was the neighborhood "flop house" mom when I was a teenager. There were numbers of kids who lived with us as alternatives to running away. I could name at least ten people who lived with my mom at some point because they had nowhere else to go. Even though we didn't have enough food, or the A/C wasn't working, or whatever the crisis was at the Bishop home, there was always room for more people! I learned that it's important to take care of one another inspite of a lack of resources. The flip side is that I've been burned a couple of times by people close to me who knew I would bail them out. It leads to cynicism and a little bit of jading, but we keep giving.
My mom introduced me to Monty Python. Some of you may be asking, "Who's he?" "He" is one of the greatest comedy troops to ever perform. As a little boy, I would watch "The Holy Grail" with her, and listen to her lament the fact that she always fell asleep just after the french taunting when they catapult the cow over the wall. She is a woman of great humor and quick wit. I owe that to her, too. And, as you can imagine, that has gotten both of us into trouble a time or two.
I never have wondered if mom was proud of me. I've always known that she is, regardless of what I'm doing. I remember calling her from camp one year while I was in college. I was a yell-leader and was learning to do gymnastics. I called her the night that I did my first tumbling run; a round-off, back handspring, full back. I was jazzed. When I told her what I was doing, and what I was learning, I asked her if she was surprised. He response was, "No, you've always been able to do whatever you set your mind to. The only thing that ever surprised me was you becoming a minister."
She drove to my college graduation. She drove to my grad-school graduation. She acted handicapped at my high school orientation. She has a love of life, a great sense of humor, and a huge heart. Ultimately, whenever I've needed her, she's always there. She doesn't have much, and there are others in her life that need her greatly, but if I ever have need, I know she's there. Mom, if you're reading this: Thanks. For all you do, and all you've instilled in me, thank you. I couldn't be the man I am today without you. You've always been there for me. I love you.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Father's Legacy

The holidays always seem to bring moments of reflection for me. Forgive me if this seems a little narcissistic, and really long...
I'm sitting at Aroma's, and one of my friends (Cal) is talking about birthdays. He was talking about his birthday, and that he was born in 1937. It spun me off into another train of thought...My dad was born in 1932. I think about my dad often, but usually around his birthday, and around holidays. My dad, Jack Bishop, was an Old Spice wearing truck driver. He was what's called an OTR driver. "OTR" means Over The Road. He would be gone for long stretches at a time. To this day, when I smell diesel fuel or Old Spice after shave, I am taken back to memories of dad. Just after we moved to Texas, we went through a stretch where he would be gone for months at a time. So, I remember very little of what we did together when I was a little boy. I remember the smells, and that he had a mustache that tickled when he kissed me.
One big thing I remember is going to the drive-in movies in our van to watch Godzilla movie marathons. My mom, little sister and little brother would be asleep in the back of our conversion van while dad and I watched Godzilla destroy Tokyo in some movies and return to save it in others. I would cry at the end of each movie that Godzilla died in. To this day, if there's a Godzilla movie on, I've already seen it numerous times, but watch just the same.
I also remember when my mom had back surgery, and I was very young, watching the original Dracula movie (Nosferatu) and being terrified! Mom was at the hospital, and I had talked to her earlier on the phone (yes, we had phones back then. They were just rotary). But that night, after dark, when dad and I were sitting in the downstairs den, I had to call her again because I was freaking out! I've always been a fan of Dracula movies, shaped no doubt by my parent's love of that genre.
I remember watching Dallas Cowboy's games even though we lived in Ohio. I was born in Cincinnati, and should be a Bengal’s fan, but the Cowboys are my team. My love for sports started early. I started playing baseball and football when I was 7. Dad would agree to help coach my teams. He always made sure I had the latest and best equipment. At age 10, I had a Max-pro enameled helmet with our team logo encased just like the pros of that time had. Even though I was the one of the smallest kids on the team, dad taught me to be aggressive, and never give up. He seemed so proud of me as I excelled at every sport I played. And, there were days where I didn't excel, and caught all kinds of flack from him. My greatest embarrassment came when I let a ball go through my legs at second base. He chewed me out and pulled me from the game. At age 10, I led our Pop-Warner league in tackles (again, being one of the smallest kids). I had 254 tackles that season. The closest kid had 100 and something. Dad was really proud. I got stars to sew on my jersey for the tackles. When I was 11, I went out for an elite football team in inner-city Dallas, The Oak Cliff Mustangs. You had to make the team. It wasn't an "everyone plays" kinda team. I made the team (I was one of two white kids on the team). He was proud. And even though is was a little boy, I began to realize that dad loved me when I did good, and didn’t necessarily love me when I didn’t do good. He was that kinda guy. I heard him say over and over, “Play to win, or don’t play at all.” To me, this became a life motto that quickly became a win at all costs philosophy. To this day, I cringe thinking about that exchange during my baseball game.
Well, on the family front, dad wasn't the greatest of role models. My mom was his third wife. He had 8 kids, of which I was number 6. I was the first of my mom's kids, and grew up with a little brother and little sister. I met one of the older kids once, and don't even know the names of 2 of the older ones. When I was 13 years old, my mom and dad divorced, and I never saw him again. That was the trigger event for a long and sorry road I chose to walk down as a teenager.
Dad died when I was 19. I never got to say goodbye, and never got to share with him that Christ had changed me and could change him, too. I carry that with me, and will regret not making a greater effort to find him and share Christ with him.
When I was 24 years old, while sitting at a desk in Dr. Dickens’s Christian Ministries class in grad school, I realized that much of what I loved (movies, sports, coffee, etc) came from something other than shared experiences with my dad. As a little boy, I began to realize that I had my father’s attention and approval when I performed well, and that I had his wrath and ire when I didn’t. Certain events became things I loved because I garnered my father’s attention and approval, as any boy would. Certain events became things I hated because I could never perform well enough to be loved and accepted by him. The perplexing thing is that I still find myself asking if dad would be proud. My “win at all costs” mentality about sports and life wasn’t because I’m just that intense. It was because, even after his death, I was still seeking his approval. Not only was I still seeking dad’s approval, but I found myself transferring that same concept of life to God: that I could have God’s attention and approval if I was a winner. But that’s not the case at all. Without God, I could never be a winner. With God, I am a winner. Period. I may have failures in my walk, but God does not base His approval or acceptance of me on my performance. He bases it upon the Son whose blood I’ve been covered by. When God looks at me, He sees His Son, Jesus, in whom I dwell. There is a freedom that comes in that realization. Now, I can play to play, play to enjoy, and play to my heavenly Father’s enjoyment. I can also allow my son to play, give his best, and simply enjoy whatever he sets his hand to.
Why this, and why now? Well, holidays are often times of reflection, and I wanted to simply ask you to reflect on a couple things:
What have you transferred to God from your past that isn’t really Him?
How have you been striving for approval, from either God or man, that is striving in vain?
How do you portray God’s acceptance to others, especially your children? What legacy are you leaving for the world and for your family?
I hope that the greatest miracle of all this Christmas is that you will have a God encounter with the Christ child who came to set you free, to show you God’s love, and to empower you to share it with others.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bloglines.com


My friend, Roy, turned me on to an internet service called bloglines. It is a web site that receives rss feeds from blog and news sites. What does that mean? it means that you can use this web site to keep up with who has updated their blogs without having to subscribe to them. For those of you on xanga, that/s no big deal. But for the rest of us, it allows you to open one web site and see who has recently updated without having to surf every blog you follow. I've been using it for about 5 days now, and love it. You can find out more at www.bloglines.com . Be sure to include the "s." There is a different service called blogline.com.

The Holiday Open House

Here's an update on the Holiday Open House:
Last night we hosted a neighborhood open house. Last week my son and I went door to door and invited folks from our neighborhood to come to a party at our place. Maybe its a lack of faith, or just pragmatic world view, but I expected no one would show up. And, as of 5:25 last night, Caryn and I had decided we had a lot of food to eat... That's when it happened. A rap at the door. It was Jerry, a neighbor from down the street. We greated him, and invited him in. As we got to know him, another knock at the door. It was Tory and Lee, a young couple with a new born daughter from the east end of the block. Next to arrive were Nathan and Elaine. Nathan is the worship leader for The Journey, and Elaine is a teacher. Then, Scott & Amanda and their three kiddos made it by. They are friends from The Heights. And last to arrive were the Jumpers. Ralph and Mary Lou. And we had a great time! It was well worth it. I know many of you were praying for us last night, and I want to thank you. Even though we handed out about 100 invites, I am still pleased with the turn out. Out of last night's festivities, every couple asked about The Journey, and plans are rolling for a late spring Block Party. It was a very pleasant evening getting to know our neighbors.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Manger - Peace on Earth


Our shopping is done. Decorations are up. Wal-Mart is insane! I'm blessed to have a wife that finished our Christmas shopping well before the mad rush. She also had a great idea this year for our decorations: we have a life-sized manger as the center piece of our decorations. It holds the place of prominence in our family room. She and I had talked about positive ways to reinforce for our kids the real message of Christmas, and this was the central piece. We felt it imperative to help our children really grasp Christmas. Our daughter, Cayla, just turned 4, and Jeremiah is 5. They are bombarded with commercials this time of year telling them that there are a lot of things out there that they should want for Christmas. So, if they don't get the right message at home, they won't get the right message at all. Oh, sure, they may hear people talk about giving, or peace on earth and good will towards men. They usually ask about the Salvation Army ringers outside the shops. But Christmas is more than just peace between men, and hearts focused on each other. Christmas is about God making peace between Himself and humanity, and the showing of His good will towards us. That is the greatest of the Christmas messages. And the manger offers us a great opportunity to help them understand that.
We're doing several things this season to help our kids understand that Christmas is about God, and His intervention into humanity's timeline. Today we delivered presents to children whose parents are in prison. I decked out in my biker leathers, and rode with about 30 other bikers and Santa as we went around Lubbock delivering presents to boys and girls. Jeremiah and Cayla were able to actually hand out some of the presents and tell other boys and girls, "Merry Christmas." I was proud to see them wanting to give out the presents. And, at every home, Santa told the story of the candy cane, and talked about Christ's provision for man kind on the cross.
Earlier this week, we went door-to-door to invite our neighborhood to come to a party at our house on Monday. As we did that, Jeremiah and I met Mrs. Greer, a widow that lives three houses down from us. She lost her husband of 50+ years back in May, and this is her first Christmas alone. Jeremiah and I decided to adopt Mrs. Greer into the Bishop family.
Each night this week, we will discuss different people who were there at Jesus' birth, using our miniature manger scene, allowing the kids to tell us what they know about the characters.
And, there's the life-sized manger. It's made of rough wood, using thick rope to hold it together. It's filled with raffia (real hay would kill my allergy-ridden family!). Baby Jesus rests peacefully in the manger, along with a cross that reminds us that He came to die. Under the manger, presents wrapped in gold seem to be offered to the baby. However, on closer examination of the presents, each is labeled with something that Jesus brought to us on that first Christmas. Eternal life, forgiveness, grace, mercy, joy, peace, and love are just a few of the gifts of the God-child. And, this year, as the Bishop family unwraps their gifts from under the tree on Christmas Eve, we will also unwrap the presents of the manger, focusing on the gifts we've received from Christ and talking about their significance to us. Let me encourage you to make the baby of the manger the center of your Christmas. No matter what age you are, it serves as a great reminder to everyone that Peace on earth and good will were realized through the Christ child.
How about you? What did Christ bring you through His birth, death, and resurrection?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Is He Worth It?


As I was reading Parke's blog this morning, I got to thinking about the circumstances surrounding John the Baptizer in Matthew 11. I really want to pour out some thinking here because of the place in life some of The Journey's partners find themselves in. There's not nearly enough room or time to do this adequately, so forgive me if I make a couple of leaps. I hope you'll leap with me.
In this text, we find out that John's been inprisoned. From prison, he hears that his cousin, Jesus, and Jesus's disciples have been working miracles. John sends his disciples to Jesus with a question that exposes a condition we all have, a very human condition. He sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He really is the one who was to come. Now, I know it's not in the text, but I can see this progression of events in my head. John has heard about the miracles. He's spent his adult life (at least) announcing the coming of Jesus. But now he's in prison probably facing death. And so, in spite of everything he has seen, and what he is hearing, doubt comes. Even John the Baptizer could doubt. His question strikes me as a need for affirmation; "Has it all been worth it?" John's circumstances have overwhelmed him, and in a human moment, he needs a word from Jesus. And, as always, Jesus proves that it is indeed worth it. Jesus tells John's disciples, "Report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." (NIV) Verse six is puzzling. Is John falling away? Is it because of Jesus? My opinion: the greek word that the NIV translates as "fall away" is the word skandelizo. The word really means to offend or shock. We get our english word "scandalize" from this word. It is in a passive voice here, meaning that someone is being offended or scandalized or shocked by someone else. In this passage, it could read, "Blessed is the man who is not offended/scandalized on account of me." Jesus response speaks to the heart of John's question. John's disillusionment clouds his memory. His circumstances begin to block-out what he has believed all his life: that Jesus is the Messiah. And at the heart of his question is a cry of "Am I going to be shocked/offended because I gave my life to this cause and it turns out you're not who you say you are?" MAN! Have you ever been there? Life blind-sides you, and suddenly you begin to wonder if Christ is worth it. Is Christ worth your life? Is He worth the hurt? Is He worth the tears? Is He worth the sacrifice? If He is, where is He in all this? That's the scandal facing all humanity, isn't it? The shocking, scandalous, offensive message of Christ is that there is something greater than ourselves, even when we don't feel like there is. Even when we feel that our circumstances are unfair, unjust suffering, there is a King who is worth it. I can imagine Jesus saying back to John, "Remember what you've heard. Hear the testimony of what others are seeing and know that I AM, and it's been worth it." The call to suffering is offensive. It is shocking. It doesn't make sense. Shouldn't the righteous flourish? Shouldn't the faithful be rewarded and esteemed? When I read this passage I am reminded that those who lose their life for the cause of Christ will find it. The world says that's a crock. Jesus simply points to the cross. What more scandalous event has there ever been? When you're in that dark night of the soul when the doubts come, look to the cross. Remember what you've seen. Remember what you've heard. In spite of the circumstances, Christ is worth it all.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Once Again Unto The Breach

There's been a great major development in my life that I want to share with ya'll! I just became the part-time Youth and Small Group Pastor at The Heights Fellowship here in Lubbock. I'm excited to be once again charging to the summit of the mountain in Student Ministry. No matter what else I'm doing or called to, I have a passion for students. Young people are the greatest ministry field in my opinion. There is such a great opportunity to shape them, and to make a difference while their lives are still more potential than actual. Not only can I help build a student ministry from the ground up, but the Small Group stuff will really sharpen my skills for The Journey. Being a ministry structured around small group ministry, The Journey will benefit from my involvement at The Heights. And, one of my closest and oldest friends, Mike Martindale, is the Pastor there. With him, me, and my friend Matt Wideman (the worship guy), it'll be amazing if we stay out of jail! The Heights comes along at a great time for me, too. Most church planters are bi-vocational. My dilemma has been that my skill set has been shaped by 17 years of student ministry and a Bachelor's and Master's degree in ministry. While all invaluable to me, they don't qualify me to flip burgers at McDonald's, let alone find a job that can support my family! Being bi-vocational in serving two churches makes great sense! The Heights provides me the means to do The Journey without fretting about finances, and The Heights gets a 17 year student ministry veteran to build their student ministry. A symbiotic relationship has been formed. And I'm really jazzed!
My only concern with doing this was to have enough time for my family and for The Journey. Most of you know me well enough to know that if I have free time during the day I feel like I've squandered my time (unless I spent it playing X-box, then it is time well spent! Hahaha!). I've been looking at the 168 hours I have each week, and here's the results: The Journey takes up about 45 hours of my week in conversations, reading, planning, prayer and dreaming. I'm sure that it takes a little more than that, but that's a fair estimate. I sleep about 6 hours a night, or 42 hours a week. So far, we're up to 87 hours out of 168, leaving 81 hours still out there. My ministry at The Heights will require 30 - 35 hours a week. With all of this going on, that still gives me 46 hours every week (or roughly 6.5 hours every day) for my family. Have you ever really looked at how you spend your time? I was amazed that I could do a full-time and an almost full-time job, and still have ample time for my family! And, on top of that, with some of the overlap, I will be able to utilize some of that time for dual purposes. For instance, The Journey will have an opportunity to be a part of the Angel Tree Toy delivery next Saturday, December 17th. It'll be a great time of ministry, but also a time to spend with my children doing meaningful family ministry as we deliver toys to children in need.
I guess the catch here is to be frugal and intentional with my time. I want to encourage you to check out how you spend your time. Write it down, check it out, and see if you like what you find. Maybe you will discover that you have more time than you realize, and that you can enjoy life and still maximize your time. Or, maybe you'll realize that you have a lot of time requirements, and you use your time well. Either way, I encourage you to check it out and let me know what you find!
Peace

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cloning Culture - Killing Life

I was just reading my friend, Elaine's blog, and it directed me to an article at from Relevant Magazine that piqued my interest. You may enjoy the read. But it brought to mind a conversation that I've had a couple times in the last week. The article is titled "Mimicking The Mainstream." What is it about our culture that the modern church feels it has to mimic? I know that most Christ-followers talk a great game about the evils of the world, "ungodly music," and other hot topics, but we still feel compelled to a copy-cat mentality. And I wrestled with this all the time in Student Ministry. My Youth Minister always said, "You can never out party the world. They have more disposable resources committed to entertainment than the church. Don't try." And that shaped much of my philosophy of Student Ministry, even though it cost me a couple of "jobs." "We need more fun stuff." "We need more fellowships." What we really need is more Christ, and that doesn't require a budget or programming. It requires genuine, Christ-centered, integrity relationships. Sorry, I digress.
Why does the community of faith feel that copying the world will bring people in? Why do we think building a coffee bar will impact the unsaved? I think there are some things we are missing.
The first is that its not the coffee bar that brings the people in. It's missional thinkers who utilize the tool to build relationships that bring people in. Of course, many of you know my thoughts on "bringing them in." We should take Jesus with us out to the culture. A topic for another time. Although sometimes birthed in good intentions, I think that the modern church thinks that the buildings are for Christ-followers to enjoy and remain sheltered from the "bad world out there." And, in an effort to keep the givers happy, the facility becomes a broken tool. It becomes a holy huddle. The church begins to legislate policy that makes it harder for the community to utilize the facilities. And we lose site of the original intent of the facility: to facilitate ministry to the world we copied!
The second factor is much more insidious. How do you copy life and not lose something in the translation? If you've ever seen "Multiplicity," you understand this concept. It's why human cloning hasn't been accomplished yet. With cloning, life seems to take hold, and then dies for no apparent reason. Most of what the church copies gets "sterilized." It loses the organic feel of life. It becomes like processed cheese food in a world of better cheeses. It's becoming more and more amusing to me to watch the church try to copy life out there and bring it in here. I can almost here the discussion: "Lots of people go to concerts. We should have a concert." "You know, coffee bars are very popular. We should have one." "Kids love to hang out on Friday nights. We should have alternatives for them to hang out at on Friday nights." But you can't make life happen. You can't take something that is chaotic, organic, wild and bring it into the controlled environment and make it flourish. It either dies, or it takes over like a transplanted weed. My friend, Barry, mentions this in his most recent post on The Lost Art Of Farming. What a shame that we feel we have to bring life under the roof of the church so it is safe to be involved with, or so that we can control it, or record it's growth.
I think the biggest factor in all of this is that the church seems to lose people to the world. We send people out from our Sunday gatherings unprepared to live life as Christ. They are well prepared to attend something, but ill-prepared to answer questions, interact with Hale-Bop cultists, or give an answer for the faith they have. In an attempt to draw people, we have dumbed-down the faith with entertainment and spoon-feeding. And so they end up being OF the world instead of IN it. We send out babes to the slaughter instead of farmers to the harvest. At best, disciple-making has taken a back seat to fellowship among the believers. At worst, disciple-making has been kicked to the curb for better seats, comfortable facilites, and safety. In the article mentioned above, Tim quotes a theologian named J. Gresham Machen. The quote reads, “Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all human thought… instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand, withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God” (Christianity & Liberalism)." The imperative facing the faith community has always been living life among the world in such a way that Christ is lifted up so that He may draw all people to Himself. Only by shifting our focus away from attender-making to disciple-making can we make the transition to effective ministry and worship. I'd like to see churches do one of two things: Either build a facility that is of value to the community so that life comes in and grows there, or divide their resources among the body and send them out to live life on its terms. One such community expression is FRWY cafe. Years in the planning, this missional faith expression is making a difference in their culture. I love what their Pastor says. “When we planted a church, the original idea was to start by building a community and then develop a cafĂ©,” explains Pernell Goodyear, pastor and ethos-shaper. “We wanted to create a place that is neutral ground, public space. We asked what it would take to create a place that is normal, that would reach people in our culture.” They landed on launching a cafe that is also a church rather than a church that sponsors a cafe. Or, what would it be like if a church had a capital funding campaign that redistributed all the money raised to their members to spend building relationships at local venues? Imagine FBC Anytown saying, "This morning we reached our goal of $500,000 in our fund, so we bought all or you a $1,000 Visa gift card to spend building relationships! Go now and make disciples with these resources."
So, what do you think? Tired of cloning culture and killing life? You are the only one who can change it. What will you do?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Recovering

Well, I'm back. Kind of. The last week has been a whirlwind of working out, indoor soccer, teaching, and speaking at a retreat (which included 12 hours of driving for me, and paintball!). Shout out to my friend John Young, the youth pastor who blessed me by allowing me to be with his kids this weekend. Hang in there, Bro.
Anyway, I've been sitting here staring at the screen thinking about what to write for nearly an hour now, and there's just nothing there. I realized that I've been drained with all that I did this week, and my brain is in recovery mode. It's been one of those days where I can't think of the right words for simple things. It's been one of those days where right in the middle of a coherent train of thought, my eyes look out the window, my brain sees a vehicle go by and says, "Ooo shiny truck. pretty truck." And the coherent thought is lost! So, I'm just letting you know that today is recovery day, and I'll be back in full swing tomorrow. Check back then for something "normal" for my blog. I'll be back in my right mind tomorrow, I promise.
Peace...ooo, look! Pretty bird...pretty bird...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Brilliant Question!

I'm sitting at Aroma's, and over heard some advertising folks talking. Their conversation turned to churches. I listened intently (is that wrong?). Anyway, I had an opportunity to introduce myself and The Journey to these three folks. One asked, "Why do people need The Journey?" That's the first time I've been asked that. What a great question. I wrestled with it for a moment, and came to the following conclusion: people don't need The Journey. People need Jesus the Messiah. That said, The Journey exists to introduce our community and the world to Him. As you look at the demographic of Lubbock, you find that there is no explosive faith-growth, no great awakenings, no great revivals. The closest thing to an explosive faith-community is The Heights Fellowship, who has grown from 32 people in Fall of 2002 to having 800 on Easter of this year. But still, Lubbock County has 250,000+ people. Statistics show that around 200,000+ are not connected to a faith community, being either non-Christ followers, or disconnected Christ-followers. So, The Journey exists to love and connect them without expecting them to "come to us." We're going to the community in an effort to just love and value people reguardless of their world-view. The Journey exists to live among our community as Jesus would, embracing people and cherishing God. I believe that this kind of faith-living will spawn a movement bigger than Lubbock. I believe that this kind of faith living will change the culture of Lubbock and the world. I believe this kind of faith living is what the early church did. And ultimately, I believe that this kind of faith living brings honor, glory, and fame to our Master. If The Journey stays 10 people in size, but is used to change the world, to lower the divorce rate, to lower crime rates, to raise people's awareness to social injustice, and to introduce everyone they meet to The Creator of life, I'll be well pleased. It's not about raking in a huge number of church hoppers, it's about introducing everyone to Christ, and letting Him draw all people to Himself. So, in short (I know, you wish at this point that I'd started with "in short" and saved you all this time of reading...) In short, people don't need The Journey. They need Jesus, and that's why we exist.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Trust From One Father to Another

This morning, while attending worship at The Heights Fellowship, I was hit with an interesting perspective. Mike Martindale, the Pastor at The Heights Fellowship, mentioned something about the character of Joseph, husband of Mary, and step-father of Jesus. Mike mentioned that Joseph was the only person in history to be able to boss God around! It was pretty funny to think about Joseph telling God (Jesus) to take out the trash or clean up the wood shop...but it really got me to thinking about the unmeasureable amount of trust God placed in Joseph to raise His son. I'd never thought about that before. God really trusted Joseph to take care of, nuture, and guide Jesus through those adolescent years. The Bible is silent as to Joseph's presence beyond the birth and childhood of Christ, but we see alot of Joseph's character in the first couple chapters of Matthew. When faced with a pregnant fiance/wife, Joseph chose to waive his rights because of God's leadership. This was a man not given to knee-jerk reactions. He was a man of faith. As a carpenter, I imagine that he is a patient man, making careful measurements before cutting wood. I imagine him being a creative man. Through all we read of Joseph, he was the ideal dad. Even when he was faced with finding a place to sleep that night in Bethlehem, he didn't panic. he trusted.
Now, I know, Jesus had to come through the line of David and Joseph fit that qualifications. I believe there was more to this than just the line of David. Think about it. There were 42 generations that Jesus could have been born into to meet that qualification, The "fullness of time," though, was to be the generation following Joseph. This morning, as I meditated on what Joseph did, how he lived, and how God felt about him, I was moved to be a man like Joseph. An even-keeled, patient, creative, man of faith who faces adversity in the counsel of God. If you'd like to hear Mike's sermon about "Surviving Christmas" with the thoughts on Joseph, click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One other cool picture

I couldn't get one more picture into the last post, so I thought I'd place it here. It's pretty cool. While repelling our two normal faces (The Face and The Invert), we discovered another spot to go off. We haven't officially named it yet. We called it Orange Rope because we used Austin's bouncy rope, which was really freaky because when you lean back, the rope keeps giving! Anyway, we got Mike and Austin down on The Invert and Orange Rope and got a cool picture:

Repelling...what a great hobby!

Here are some pictures from our recent repelling outings. I've used pictures from two recent events to give you an idea of what we were doing.

The hike to the top of the face is the most brutal part of the day.










Facing down the 100' - 120' face is really cool. You can watch people all the way to the bottom.








Getting the gear on and off takes more time than repelling down the face. Top to bottm, it takes about 30 seconds to get down. Once you have a feel for the rope, you can bounce your way to the ground!





At the end of the day, we glide down with the gear, saving us about 1/4 of the hike.




The thing that makes the day so much fun, though, is getting to "hang out" with friends and enjoy God's beauty.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another Moment of "Not-So-Divine" Inspiration


I just have to mention a great discovery that I had yesterday! It's not a divinely inspired moment, but it was heavenly. There is a new restaurant in town called Boogie-D's. It's a catfish place. Now, as way of background, I am a catfish enthusiast. Everywhere I have lived, and visited, I've explored the catfish venues in search of good catfish. From The Catfish Platter just across Lake Texhoma from Whitesboro, to Arlene's in Denison, to the little road-side catfish and gas station outside Meridian, Mississippi, to The old Iron Bridge Restaurant in the middle of nowhere, I know and love catfish. My Youth Minister was an old Cajun from West Monroe, LA., and he taught me about catfish, and could cook a mean breaded and deep-fried catfish.
Well, when we moved to Lubbock, we heard of a restaurant called River Smiths, and heard that it was the best catfish around...but it's not. I'm not even sure that it is fresh. The breading is all wrong. It's just lacking. And, if that is the best Lubbock has to offer, I'd be driving 6 hours back towards Durant, OK., where the Catfish Platter serves up the best ever. As a matter of fact, my in-laws live near the Catfish Platter, and Dad turned us on to the place, spoiling us from any other catfish. In fact, The Catfish Platter is so good that when we lived in Garland, (NE Dallas), we would load up every Thursday and drive an hour and a half to eat there. My kids became catfish lovers at The Catfish Platter. If you get there after 5:00, you'll have an hour wait just to get in. But yesterday, Boogie D's rocked my world! It was fresh, even fishy tasting in the way that great catfish is. It was thick, white, and cooked just right. The hushpuppies were even jalepeno hush puppies, fried crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle! It was a ray of hope to my 2 or 3 times a year of getting great catfish. Don't get me wrong, The Catfish Platter is still king, but there's a new contender in town. And given the proximity, Boogie D's will be my catfish place of choice. If you're ever in Lubbock, give me a shout. I'll gladly take you there.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Moment of Inspiration

One of the things that recently has been inspiring me is the story of The Christ. On the night he was handed over, he had an inspiring (for me) encounter with his Heavenly Father. There in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced the same question that I face every day: "Will I submit to the will of the Father no matter the cost?" For hours Jesus agonized over what was about to happen to him. He who knew no sin was about to become sin for the sake of undeserving people. It transcends just the suffering aspect of it. And, the answer for Jesus is the same as it must be for all those who follow him, "Not my will, but Yours, Father." To call Christ "LORD" is to say that you've made that choice to always do His bidding regardless of the cost to yourself. And so it is for me every day. I am faced with choice after choice (none of which compare to the magnitude of Jesus' choice that night). Will I answer as The Christ did? Will I submit myslef and say, "Not my will, but Yours."? The eternity of humanity may not hang in the balance with my choice, but make no mistake, for those who are not yet followers of Christ who are watching me to see if God is worth their time, Their Eternity Hangs In The Balance. And my submission to God's will may very well be what makes or breaks the deal for them!
Peace,
Jase

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Checking Out Audio Blogging

this is an audio post - click to play

The Family

Today I went through hours of old video footage. I watched the birth of our children, holidays, and some just plain non-sense. Jeremiah and Cayla watched with me. They were amazed at seeing themselves as babies. Jeremiah would just get to giggling as he watched "Baby Jeremiah." Cayla would just stare in disbelief. It was fun to look back. It set the mood for the day, too. Cayla was more lovey dovey than usual, and Jeremiah did stuff and would say, "I did that because I love you and want to be a good boy for you."
Having performed Marcus and Katlyn's wedding tonight, and having spent the day thinking on family, Family has been on my mind. It's not too long until our kids are grown and gone. I've been reminded today that our children grow up so quickly, and we have precious little time to invest in them. Make the most of the time you have. So many things that seem important can truly wait. Our kids, however, don't put growing up on hold. Make time with your kids a value that supercedes work, and even your own play time. They won't forget it. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 11, 2005

Availability

I had a conversation today with a lady that works at a coffee house. She was working when her replacement never showed up, leaving her in the lurch with lunch and childcare. By time I heard about it, I think she had gotten things squared away. I did approach her, though, and make myself available to "fill in" when something like this happens. With my history/experience of coffee making, and my presence at the coffee house, it seemed like a good idea. Anyway, she seemed touched by my offer. I hope that the next time they are strapped for help, she'll pull out my card and call me! Be praying for one of those moments where things get so crazy you have no idea what to do. You know the kind of moment where you'll call on anyone for help? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. I hope that my presence will have been a positive one, and that they will trust me to help the next time they find themselves in a pickle.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Inspired by life...


Today I have crossed paths with many people, actually getting to talk to a few of them. Through conversations with new folks, and stories from old friends, and inspite of the migrain I've had all day, I've been inspired. Life will always have work to do. One of my friends reminded me that I will probably have to "work" until I'm 70 years old. Another friend recently lost his job, and his life is better for it (although he is working hard to find one, he says the stress of looking has been much easier than the stress his old job brought him!). Another person mentioned the hectic nature of life, and waiting on God to show you what's next. Another person mentioned that he has rediscovered his PS2, and is really digging the games he used to play. It seems like my whole day was filled with people dealing with work and life. Then, in the middle of my day, my wife and daughter showed up to have lunch with me. My daughter, Cayla, will be 4 in less than a month, and is the most articulate 4-year-old in the world. She is absolutely amazing. During lunch, we were talking about Spongebob Squarepants, and she was delighted to tell me about the episode she'd seen this morning. Next, it was off to Tumblebugs where she played "Feed the Lion" with her gymnastics teacher. As she is telling me each detail, I can feel my joy level rising. We laughed, and watched as my little girl reminded me that we need to play more. There will always be work to do, but life's uplifting moments seem to come when we are lost in a moment, like children at play. All of these people sweating life, me included, could learn a lot from listening to a 4 year-old talk about what's important to her. Sitting at Taco Bell/Pizza Hut, my little girl was reminding me about what's important.
Isn't the life of faith this way, too? Sometimes we get so caught up in the "work of the kingdom" we forget that Jesus rolled on the ground with children. God is remarkably creative. I think He is remarkably playful, too. Don't sweat life. Play. Play with all your heart. Play like my kids who immerse themselves in the moment. Don't get me wrong. There is a time for work. But, as the old saying goes, "All work and no play makes Jason a very dull man." It also makes Jason a very stressed and unuseable man.
By the way, my family just stopped back by Aroma's (where I office) to check on me, and Cayla brought me a picture she drew of me. She said it would make me feel better, and gave me a kiss.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Learning To Ask

I've never been good at it. I feel funny doing it. Asking for things has never been comfortable for me. And now God has placed me in the position to have to ask, and not just ask of Him, but of others, as well. What a place for a man to be. Is that what makes it hard to ask? Is it a manly pride thing? I think that's part of it, and part of it is "independent Jason." The Journey has progressed by leaps and bounds in the last week. We are officially incorporated, have a bank account, have a logo in hand, and are getting our plan for the new year ready. All of these things depended upon God providing them through others in miraculous ways. From lawyers to accountants, graphic artists to denominational leaders, so many people have stepped up and done what God wanted to happen. And I have continually been blown away. It has brought to mind some very wise words, "You have not because you ask not..." Does that only mean asking of our Father, or asking of others? I'm finding out that it may be both. God comes through in all kinds of ways. As I sit here this evening, thinking about all that is going to be happening, and the wild ride that has just begun, I'm making a resolution: I will ask for help from those who can give it. There's a precedent that has been set: God is calling the shots, and using His people to accomplish His work. I just need to ask. Swallowing my pride (*gulp*), I'll ask. I would encourage you to begin asking God for the impossible. It's been His business for years!

Friday, November 04, 2005

An Amazing Woman

Have you ever met my wife? She is a truly amazing woman. In addition to putting up with me for almost 10 years (next month!), she takes care of the kids, manages our bills/money, and manages our home. She's truly extrodinary. I couldn't ask for a better friend or companion. What makes her amazing to me, though, is the way she has weathered the last six months. As many of you know, we have started a church here in Lubbock. It's something that God laid on my heart some time ago, and I'm just now getting around to it. The process hasn't been a big deal to me. I'm a dreamer/visionary by nature. I can see the finished product from the start. Money has never been an issue to me. Being from such a poor background, the money we've had in our lives is amazing to me. To my personality type, it's just money, and there's always money out there to be had. Caryn, however, is a details person. God knew what He was doing when He put a dreamer and a details person together. Caryn loves lists, organization, and effeciency. She accounts for every dime of our money, and needs to see the income because she knows the bills that await us. For me, the hardest part of planting The Journey was going to be two fold: making a living, and selling Caryn on the idea that we could make a living. She made that second issue a non-issue. And this is what is amazing about her: she knew it was what God was telling us to do, and in spite of her fears, she stepped out and trusted. She has been my biggest supporter and fan. I often kid her about being my biggest critic, but it's not true.
She has offered to do what it takes to make this work, including selling our house, if need be. You must understand how much she loves our house. When we were trying to buy this house, someone kinda bought it out from under us with a cash offer to the previous owners. She was crushed, and actually cried and didn't want to talk about the house. A week later, when the cash offer fell through, we had another opportunity to buy, and the same thing happened again. She was even more crushed. Eventually, we had the house, and she has made it a home. It is a 2,000 square-foot house with 3-2-2, and it costs us less than the typical 2-bedroom apartment in town. It has a great back yard, and our kids have plenty of room to play and grow. And she was willing to let go of her dream house to chase God in our newest chapter of life. An amazing woman indeed. She has followed without complaint. She has supported without asking for anything in return. She has been my inspiration. The faith she has in Christ astounds me. Her confidence in me humbles me. And, I know that as she reads this, she's thinking that she's not really that worthy of praise or consideration... but she is. Caryn, I don't tell you enough that you amaze me. For all that you do in so many amazing ways, thank you. You are more than I could ever have hoped for in a wife. God's ultimate proof of His calling on my life has been that He gave me you as a partner. You are the greatest, and the words, "I Love You" don't say enough.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Frontpage for Dummies

Well, many of you have e-mailed me or mentioned f-2-f that The Journey's website needs more than just a picture. So, I went out and bought Frontpage for Dummies, and have spent some time learning/reading/experimenting. Now, for your viewing pleasure, The Journey's web site is up and running. I know, you'll laugh when you see it, but it's not bad for an html illiterate, old guy! Click here to check it out: www.journeylubbock.org. Be sure to let me know what you think...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Into The Future

What a weekend. Let me try to catch you up on everything that has happened in the last 3ish days... As I've already mentioned, The Journey got a major boost of confidence and support when our friends at Mosaic in Arlington signed on to be our support church. As their pastor, Stephen, and I talked, we realized that last weekend would be an ideal weekend to come down, sign papers, and get things really rolling. We had our community meal here on Saturday, and then we would head for Arlington Saturday night.
The community meal was great. Nathan and Elaine hosted the party and did a great job! In addition to the Futrells and my clan of 4, we had three other couples there. All total, our community meal had 12 in attendance! That's up from 8 at our last meal, and that is super! A special thanks to Austin, Andrea, "Fletch," and Candi for making the meal so enjoyable, and blessing us with their stories. We had steak and chicken shish-ka-bobs (sp?), garlic potatoes, fruit, bread, and cup cakes.
We finished at 8 p.m. and loaded our clan into the car and headed out for the 5 hour drive to Alrington. With the blessed time change, We got in at 12:30 a.m. That would give us plenty of time to sleep as we prepared to visit with our friends at Mosaic for their worship gathering. Caryn's mom joined us. As always, it's great to have her along. She is such a pleasant and fun-to-be-with kinda person. And, it never hurts to have MeeMaw along for the kiddos.
We worshipped with the Mosaic folks, and had a wonderful time. They have great leadership and a great worship space that is a drama/performing arts theater during the week. I was really encouraged when we walked in, and their worship space looks just like what I designed at Bacon, but in a full-blown fashion. Good stuff. I had the opportunity to share my vision with the "family" there in Arlington. Afterwards, we all went to eat at Mama's Pizza. What an awesome pie! Then, Stephen was graciuos enough to let us hang at his house for the afternoon. We went back to their Taste and See event that night, and shared fajitas with their potential new partners. Thanks, Mosaic folks, for a GREAT weekend. You have been great to our church and our family.
Then, Monday, we met with the SBTC friend that gave me all the paperwork for The Journey to become "official." The SBTC has really been a blessing, too. They have invested in me, and have been so supportive of my vision. We couldn't do this with them, especially Terry Coy. He is a dear friend, and visionary in the SBTC church planting arena. Terry has made some invaluable resources available to us for The Journey. What a blessing!
With all that happened this weekend, all I did was talk the whole way home. I couldn't stop, much to my wife's shagrin. She would drift off to sleep only to have me pop-off again about what God is doing...I'm surprised I made it home alive! The greatest thing, though, that I keep coming back to is something that God has been driving home in me since leaving Bacon Heights. Stephen has mentioned it a couple of times, as have others around me: Be encouraged. God has something special instore for me. When I left Bacon Heights, it was hard to bounce back and keep a positive attitude about the future. There was a nagging doubt in my head: Maybe you're done. Maybe God has finished with you, and you're done. But He has been faithful to me, as He always is. He has shown me time and time again since that point that I'm not done. I'm just getting started on a new chapter. And now, for so many people to hear my vision, and make an investment of their time and resources for this kingdom work has been a real encouragement. It's people I trust and respect saying, "You're not done. We believe in you." Rock on! Now, I've got so much on my mind that I'm having trouble figuring out what to do next! I think I mentioned this before, but my friend Nick reminded me that I am not forgotten. I am loved and esteemed by the Almighty. And now, we're journeying into the future, with a myriad of supporters, to change the world, to save the universe starting with Lubbock. Here we go...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Why start a new church?

Why start a new church like The Journey? Why is The Journey Needed?
The 21st century cries for a relevant expression of faith and spirituality. The Journey will be one such relevant expression. As the members of The Journey live life with Jesus, we will introduce Him to others in order to love and glorify Him. We will also love others and introduce them to Jesus in hopes of bringing them onto the narrow road. We will strive to see that everyone we encounter will follow Jesus as their guide and not have to travel the road of life alone.
A brief overview of Lubbock County shows a huge populous of wanderers and passengers mixed with a small percentage of pilgrims. According to the current Texas State Data Figures, Lubbock County has a current population of 251,443 people. According to the Malphurs Group, about half of those are “unchurched” (125,721). This figure was reached by a comparison of the church attendance rolls of evangelical churches in the county. However, this figure must be adjusted because most of these churches are not actually seeing 100% of their members in regular attendance. It has been suggested by many that the average church actually sees 37 – 40% of their rolls in attendance. This means that in Lubbock County, about 46,500 people are active in their church, leaving over 200,000 people unreached or unconnected.
Add to this that the Texas Tech University system is projecting an increase in enrollment over the next three years of 20,000 students, and it becomes easy to see that Lubbock needs relevant expressions of faith.
New churches are a proven way to reach people. With the vast number of disconnected wanderers and passengers in Lubbock County, a new church start based on a relational model makes sense. We feel that it is best to put this “new wine” into a new wine skin. Since our model of ministry will be relational-based ministry, we desire to structure differently from the normal church start so that we can build this into the DNA of our fellowship. To attempt this kind of ministry shift in a traditionally structured church could be very problematic.
The Journey will provide two styles of church multiplication. First, we will grow the core of The Journey as a cell-group ministry. That is to say that there will be many interconnected small groups that will make up the body of The Journey. These interconnected small groups will provide the relationship soil for individual ministry while remaining part of the larger body for congregational-styled ministry. As The Journey grows, we hope to provide the resources, personnel, and training for a simple church network as described below.
Second, we will be proactive in planting simple churches. Simple churches will be church bodies that function independent of the larger body. They will be places where Christ has been taken into a “pocket” of our culture, and done there in that place. We expect this to look like the New Testament house church of the first and second century.

Who Do We Wish To Reach?

Who do we want to reach?
We are taking a different approach to our ministry. We understand that our faith is to take root in our lives, and to be lived out. So, we are hoping to just reach people. We want to reach out and love on people as we would love on Jesus. Pretty simple, huh?

Our Name - The Journey

Why are we called The Journey?
We believe that life is a journey and that there are two kinds of travelers: wanderers and pilgrims. Wanderers are those who really have no idea where they are going, and pilgrims have made the turn to a life of direction and purpose. We do recognize that some people make the turn to the narrow road and progress no further because they are not following the instructions of Jesus. They become passengers, more or less, allowing someone or something other than Jesus to give them direction. Turning to follow Jesus changes your destination. Making the journey with Him brings purpose, fulfillment, and joy. “The Journey” is a metaphoric expression of this view of life, and an expression of how we will do life.

The Journey - A Narrative Metaphor

The Journey…
You are traveling down a long, straight highway, knowing that home lies somewhere well beyond the horizon. You have never gone this way before, but others have told you it will get you to your destination. So, you settle into your seat, adjust the radio, set the cruise control, and off you go. You are hoping to enjoy the wide and extremely well traveled road, but you really want to be home. You consider the journey a long but necessary trip. You concern yourself only with keeping it between the lines as your mind blissfully drifts from thought to thought. Then it happens; a noise, some sort of bump that jars you back to reality. The road isn’t as smooth as you had thought. Surveying your surroundings, you notice a person standing on the shoulder ahead, possibly a hitchhiker. He’s holding a sign that simply says, “Home,” and points to a much narrower and much less traveled road. It strikes you as odd, but you decide to keep going. As you pass the long-haired man, he makes eye contact with you, turning as you travel past him. You look at him in your rear view mirror, reading his sign, and watching his frame shrink into the distance behind you. Something stirs inside you. You begin to think, “Where does that road go? Who was that guy? Should I turn around and check it out? What if I’m on the wrong road? Can I trust that guy?”
We believe that life is a journey, and everyone starts the journey as a wanderer on the wrong path. But some of us have been shown the narrow road that we are meant to travel, and have chosen to follow The Guide on this narrow path. That’s where the real journey begins. We begin to move with intention and design. We have discovered that there are only two paths through life, and the one we were on leads to destruction. But, because Jesus of Nazareth has shown us the right path, we continue the journey on the right path towards a new destination with new purpose and new hope. We now find ourselves in the midst of the greatest journey of all; with the Great Journeyman as our guide. Our purpose has changed from making it home to making Him famous. We no longer travel uninformed. We get our direction from the One who set us on this path. He tells us things that would not have made sense on the other road. We know our destination, but concern ourselves with the journey, understanding that He is concerned with the journey. He asks us to travel together as strangers in a strange land. He leads us to help each others to be better travelers. He expects us to offer assistance and direction to those who are lost or stuck. He compels us to hold up our signs for those who are still on the wrong path, imploring them to change direction. Home, it’s just a matter of turning. All the while, we are learning that the journey is really all about our Guide. Ever bump, every breath, every step, every valley, every new traveler, it’s all about Jesus of Nazareth and His way. We find that He is the Way.
Where are you on the journey? Are you still on the broad and well traveled road? Are you considering making the turn and trusting this Jesus of Nazareth to be your Guide? It’s the right choice, and the only way home. Are you a traveler who has made the turn, but gotten stuck? Are you close on the heels of the Great Journeyman? Wherever you are in the journey, we want to come along side you and travel this strange road with you.

Some Info about The Journey

Hey gang! I'm in the process of updating The Journey's web site, and getting this info out for the world to see. But, this is a good place to start getting our stuff out. The next several posts will be info about our new church start. I'm going to do the info in different posts so they are easier to read through and handle. It's a simplicity thing. Be sure to comment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Journey

Well, I think we're on the road to where we need to go. The Journey took a major step forward in the last 24 hours. God has hooked us up with an incredible sponsor church from Arlington, Mosaic. Nate blogged about our meeting with them yesterday. He captures the essence of what we discussed. But this is monumental for me. Having a group of Godly people say that they believe in what we're about, and that they want to help was a big confirmation for me as the Pastor. I trust these guys implicitly, and knowing that God is saying to them what He is saying to us is a great surge of confidence for me.
For those of you who don't know, The Journey is something that God has been birthing in me for a couple of years. In June of 2003, my Student Ministry staff and I began to pray that God would reveal a new paradigm for reaching students. We sensed in our hearts that relationship building was foundational to reaching students, but struggled with structuring a relational ministry inside the structure of an established church. For two years we met together weekly and prayed. In the spring of 2005, God began to shape our vision and hearts to an ancient work for our modern day. In May of that year, we left our ministry settings to pursue the vision God had been shaping in us. As we explored relational ministry and discipleship, we realized that we had been brought to the place of starting a new work in Lubbock, TX. So, beginning in August of 2005, we began The Journey, a small group of believers who are committed to building relationships that communicate God's love and acceptance. We have altered the pattern of our lives to build relationships with wanderers in hopes of pointing them to the narrow road. We are engaging our culture in spiritual conversations while loving on people. As we build relationships, we are looking and praying for partners to come along side us in prayer and financial support of this ancient work.
In my next post, I'll give you all the details about what we're doing, our relevant metaphors, and a way to plug into praying for this ancient work. More will be coming. Right now my wheels are turing and my head is spinning. There's a lot to get working on!
Peace...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ode To The Chicken

A bit of stupidity that has been rolling around in my head since Saturday...
Ode To The Chicken
The chicken. O, suculent piece of white-meat. How you tempt me with your deliciocity. Although you were once covered in feathers, cuing and clucking like a mindless prairie creature, the Colonel has delivered you as a delicacy for my pallet. Fried in breading until you are extra crispy or baked golden brown with a lemon-pepper zing, you delight my taste-buds. Could I live without you? Yes, but why? To what end?
O, my chicken, you always rise early unwittingly waiting for your demise as you produce eggs for our enjoyment. You are such an intricate part of life, whether an unmoving bouillon cube to flavor otherwise boring hot water, or a source of feathers for a better night's sleep, you bring so much to our existence.
So, here's to you, you golden-fried, egg-producing, bouillon-flavoring, feather-giving marvel of God's great creation. You bock my world.

What a day!

Can I just talk about my day yesterday? It wa a whirlwind, and I'd like to just put it down somewhere as an "official" record.
Well, yesterday started off a little differently than the normal Sunday. Our local association of Baptist churches was having their annual meeting, and I was responsible for putting up our Hot Hearts display (since I am the Publicity Chairman). So, I got to The Heights Fellowship (THF), where Caryn and I attend on Sundays, early yesterday so I could print some stuff for our monster display booth (one of those 9' tall semi-circle deals). While working on that, I remembered that Caryn and I were working in the nursery that morning, doing Sunday Bible study with the 2-3 year old class. No biggie. Cayla is in that class, so I'll get to watch her do life with other kids. It was great, by the way. But the big bomb came right before my stint in the nursery. Mike Martindale (the Pastor of THF, and one of my best friends in the world) came in and told me that the Key-note speaker for the annual meeting's Youth Rally had just backed out because of a death in the family, and with only hours to go, there was no one to speak. I then talked with Nick Watts (another of the greatest men in the world and a very close friend) and suggested a local guy. Nick had something else in mind. He suggested that I do it. Why not? I said sure. Then, it hit me. I would be speaking at a rally for around 300 students with little warning and even less preparation. Yikes! So, I went from the nursery at THF to the worship gathering. From there, I grabbed lunch on the run, hit Wal-Mart for some booth stuff, and headed to the church where the annual meeting would be (Oakwood Baptist Church). I immediately went to setting the booth up, and gave Miracle Max some mediea stuff I would need for my speaking gig that night. Miracle Max is Max Webb, my former Ministry Assistant from Bacon Heights. He's now the pulbicity guy for Oakwood. He, too, is one of my closest friends. It took some time to set the booth up, then I helped with the media set up for the rally, and then found out that I had to speak to the adult assembly about the current state of Youth Ministry. From there I went back to media set up and helping Max get my video clips ready. Next was the actual event. By the time it was all said and done, it was 8:15 p.m. and I made it home just in time to collapse on the couch watching the world series. By the way, did the Astros win last night? I fell asleep about the 7th innning with the 'Stros up 4-2. I vaguely remember my wife laying a comforter on me as she headed for bed. The next thing I knew, it was this morning, and Jeremiah was crawling up onto the couch for our daily routine of morning snuggling. Needless to say, Sunday wiped me out! I realized, though, what a day I'd had, and what a great role my friends had played in the whole thing. God has surrounded me with men who are sensitive to His will, and are great encouragers. I cherish these men greatly.
The rest of my week is going to fly by, too. I have a volleyball game tonight, and my father-in-law will be at the house for a while. He's great. A great man who believes in doing right by others and for others. He's been a huge blessing to us, and the not-typical father-in-law for me. He's been like a dad to me. Tuesday, some guys from our potential sponsor church will be here to meet for the day. I'm excited about them coming. They, too, are great friends. We'll spend the day together sharing our visions for our ministries, and how we can help each other. Wednesday I'll be speaking at FBC Anton. Wes, the Youth Minister there, is a solid guy doing ministry that reminds me of my ministry in the early days. Thursday, The Journey will have it's worship gathering at our house. Friday will be a day to breathe, and hang with a friend at Starbuck's. Saturday is The Journey's Community Meal at the Futrell's house. It'll be great! We have some new friends coming to that. It'll be a great chance to meet and love on new people. Then, Sunday starts a new week and a whole different bunch of events! So, I'll be posting throughout the week to keep everyone up-to-speed on what is going on, and how things are going. I'm also going to post some plain stupid stuff, too, to keep my mind from thinking too much. Thanks for all of your prayers as The Journey and my ministry take shape. Great things are looming on the horizon, and my body is a-tingle with excitement about the unseen horizon.
Keep it real,
Jase

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Quick Survey

I wanted to say thanks to Alex, Josh, and Trent for coming to our worhsip gathering last night. Even though I got my butt kicked playing Halo 2 afterwards, it was fun. I haven't played my X-box in a while, and really enjoyed getting back into it.
At our gathering last night, we discussed relevant metaphors, and Jesus' great use of them. He always seemed to have a great way to express the good news to the people he was with. Like Nicodemus: an older man and a Pharisee who was part of a movement that was doing nothing for his soul. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night and wants to know the "mystical" secret of the life Jesus has. Jesus tells him he must be born again. The woman at the well, who has been looking for satisfaction and validation through her relationships with men, finds that Jesus brings eternal satisfaction. The Rich young ruller gets a money talk. Zaccheus gets accpetance from a righteous man. Great ways of expressing the good news of Jesus Christ! So, here's what I need from everyone who reads this: Take a moment to comment and let me know what would be good news to you. What would be the metaphor that speaks most to you about the good news of Jesus Christ. For example, mine would be that there is a Father who will never leave me, and who will enable me to raise kids who make a difference. What's the good news to you?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Crisp Morning Air

After a day of clouds, I awoke to a crisp, autumn morning today. The rising sun peaking through the trees to our East illuminates the drops of dew on the still wet grass. The morning feels sureal. Song birds lift their voices in a merry chrous announcing that it is time to arise and embrace the day. The cool, 65 degree air brings invigeration as I breathe it in. Neighbors begin to leave there homes for whatever errands they have saved for today. I wonder as I watch them if they, too, have had the epiphany that I have had this morning. Life moves forward at a steady pace, flooding my existence with moment after moment that speaks of the eternal. It speaks of a Creator who has orchestrated every ray of sun, every drop of dew, every bird's song, and every gentle breeze; all to His great glorious praise! To simply arise and face the day with no appreciation of this would be like watching Star Wars in black and white, or eating grandma's home-made apple pie with no taste or smell. To think that humanity has been walking in this creation for thousands of years without much of a clue of the majestic glory of the Creator that surrounds us every minute of every day. Even though the Creator has been making known His invisible qualities through His creation, the created tend to get self-absorbed and miss the message.
If you have not yet experienced the Creator through His creation today, turn your computer off and step outside. Breathe in the air and allow the Creator to to remind you of His provision for you. Experience His great symphany of life and marvel anew at the wonder that is our God.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Classic Revisited


Tonight marks my little boy's coming of age, so to speak. We just curled up in the living room and popped in a DVD classic, "Star Wars IV: A New Hope." And he is mesmerized! At the beginning of the movie where the Storm Troopers blast their way on board Princes Leia's ship, and Darth Vader walks through the smoke-filled door, Jeremiah looked up with wide-eyes and a sense of awe and said, "Woe, it's Darth Vader..." I was about Jeremiah's age when this movie made it's silver screen debut. So, here we sit, eating pop-corn and sharing a common experience, he for the first time, and me again through him. There's nothing quite like watching something of this magnitude through the eyes of a child. I don't have any idea how many times I've seen this movie. For my son, though, it's all brand new. Hahaha! Jeremiah just said, "That gold robot has issues with R2-D2." And that's what's great about what we're sharing. I'll get to see something I've seen hundreds of times, but this time through Jeremiah's eyes. It'll be fresh and new. It makes me mindful of how we should come to many of the elements of our faith. There is so much that seems to become commonplace to me. But it shouldn't. It should be fresh and new. Is this what Jesus means when He tells us that unless we become as children we won't see the kingdom of God? Could He possibly be telling us that the kingdom of God is visible here if we'll just look with the eyes of a child? Just as this movie is jumping off the screen into the imagination of my little boy, God wants His Word to jump of the pages into my mind. To see Christ with the same marvel, wonder, awe, and amazement as a child watching something larger than life should be our approach to our faith. I have been doubly blessed tonight. It's something Jeremiah and I will remember for a long time, and it's a time of God reminding me to watch Him with the eyes of a child. After all, when it comes to events that are larger than life, there's none larger than God!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Mystic Nation*


When I left to come to Arlington, it was pouring rain in Lubbock and cold. There was a great possiblity that Metroplex weather would be like that. I hate having to pack for a trip like that. I brought cold/rainy day clothes, mild/pleasant day clothes, and warm/muggy day clothes. I had to pack three times as many clothes for this trip, and then not wear 66% of what I brought! My suitcase is HUGE and I wore one piece of clothing out of it (besides undies and such....). This morning, as I was repacking my suitcase, I noticed a small piece of paper in one of my black steel-toed boots. My mood lightened immediately. My wife has been known to slip little notes of encouragement into my luggage as I am leaving town so that I can have pleasant little surprises while traveling. It's one of those things that I love about her. I reached into the leather upper of the work boot and grabbed the tan piece of folded paper. As I opened it, I realized it wasn't from her. It was a typed piece of paper that simply said, "Into The Mystic" at the top in a caligraphic-styled font done in black ink. Just under that it posed the question, "Are you ready?" It immediately sent my mind to racing. The only other person in the room was Jerry. Jerry is a good friend who was gracious enought to let me have a free place to sleep for the last 3 days. Did he know about the mystic nation? There's no way. So, I began mentally running through who could have put this cryptic message in my boot. My wife? Unlikely. Housekeeping? That would be wild. Who had access to my belongings? How could this happen? Had I really been physically contacted by a Mystic Warrior? Hmmm. But there was a greater question tugging at me: "Are you ready?" I stopped. Am I? And I guess that's what spurred my thoughts on the road of Christ and the cost of spiritual awakening that I posted below this. Am I ready? Am I ready? If I say, "Yes, I am ready!" what will it cost me? Do I need to know the cost to be ready? But, if I'm not ready, have I already paid an unbearable price? As you can read in the post below, I am ready. But I wanted to pass the note on to you:
Are you ready? If so, follow me as I follow Christ.

The Fame of Christ and a Spiritual Movement

Atlanta Bread Company...man, sometimes I miss the Metroplex. However, it took me 20 mintues to travel 3 miles down Cooper to get here! Sometimes I don't miss the metroplex at all. Isn't life really like that in many areas? There is good and bad with everything. Almost the idea of the yin and the yang... Dallas/Ft. Worth has great entertainment and eateries, but traffic and cold people are the exchange. As I sit here sipping my Strawberry-banana smoothie (yes, I know, that sounds healthy. But I've been at a conference all week where we sit, listen, eat, sit listen, eat, and I'm bloated like road kill right now! I won't need to eat for another couple days!) I realize that at first glance life seems to be like that, with more bad than good most of the time. But, when I dig into it, that's really a lie. First and foremost because there is no evil in Christ. He is all good. Second, there is no balance between the two. Good is the ultimate victor as promised by Scripture. Third, much of what seems bad is a matter of my perspective. I'm not debating that there is evil in the world, nor am I saying that you can view evil as good if you just look hard enough. But I am saying that James says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds..." Is it good or bad to be spit upon? Is it good or bad to be cussed for believing The Word. Is it good or bad to be ridiculed for the cause of Christ? It's good. Not because we should seek to walk into situations where we provoke people to spit upon us, but as we pursue Christ, as we walk the path into the mystic, it will require sacrifice and struggle. We are called to make Him famous. Too often I see the cost of that and decide that it is too much for me. I think I can't do it, or that there are smoother roads to walk. Was there a smoother road for Christ to walk that would accomplish the redemption of humanity? What is my road compared to His? A fellow pilgrim reminds me that Christ's yoke for me is easy, and His burden is light. The author of Hebrews pens, "Endure hardships as discipline." it's not pleasant, nor is it easy, but it is the way to shape and mold me. It is the way to a true spiritual movement. The road into the mystic is the pilgrimage to Christ-likeness. For me to see this, grasp it, cherish it, makes what looks bad become good. Rough roads in life can beat us up, or raise us up. I choose to be raised up, to make Christ famous, and lead the way for those who follow. One of my inspirations, Job, penned, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him!" Surely this will turn out for my deliverence...

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm Away Right Now

Hey gang! I'm at the Youth Minister's Conclave for a little while, and haven't had time to post. I've got some ideas already rolling around for my next post, and promise I will get to it soon. Just wanted to post a couple things to pray for:
1. I'm here marketing my speaking ministry, so pray that God will connect me with the people that I need to be involved with to assist their ministries. Pray also that I don't feel so much like a pimp. It's been rough, but I've spent most of my time just hanging with guys and if they ask what I'm doing now, I give them a card and a brochure. It hasn't been too bad.
2. I have a meeting Wednesday night with the Elders from a church here in Arlington that is considering being the sponsor church for The Journey. This would be huge for us. Pray that the meeting will go well, but more importantly that the meeting will be a time with God so we all know what His will is in this. I'll give you more about that after all the meetings have happened, should they go well.
3. As always, I miss my family, epecially my wife. We had an incredible week last week, coming off a rough couple days, and I hate that I'm not home right now with my best friend. Of course, Conclave is always cool because I get to spend time with the guys and gals that I've been in the trenches with over the years as Youth Ministers. But it's nothing like getting to spend time with my favorite person, Caryn. Pray that I'll not be too homesick!
4. I'm running more and more guys that are in the same situation as I am in life and ministry. At one point, I was sitting with 3 other church planters who are struggling with finances, ministry, and planting in general. I'm amazed at how many of us there are out there chasing God and paying dearly for it. Pray that I will be a source of encouragment to so many of these guys. Pray also that some progressive thinkers will begin stepping up and investing in the ministry that God is calling us to. I can't help but think that there are people out there that God is leading to support missional, relational ministries. Pray that we will be connected. Pray for one of my dearest friends whose family has really suffered through this process. Pray for the pieces to fall into place for him.
5. And remember, I'm praying for you, too. Your prayers, love, and support are precious to me. Thanks for all you do.
Peace,
Jase

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Mystic...

Now, for something I stumbled across as Nathan and I were talking about blog sites: The Mystic. Back in the day (Summer, 1988), I worked with a young man in the Dallas area named Erwin McManus. I was a summer missionary for the Dallas Baptist Association, and he was leading a team called First Priority (if I remember correctly). He spent some time with us teaching us how to share our faith in any situation, a technique that I've used very often. He is now the lead pastor for Mosaic church in Los Angeles. A friend of mine pastors a church that has ties to Mosaic, and our recent dialogue prompted me to find a new blog site that I've poured over tonight. Erwin's brother, Alex, has a blog site called "Into The Mystic" that has a great narrative about his quest to find a group of ancient warriors who are spiritual guides for those still in the fog. Go read it. No, really. I'll wait....
As I read it, something stirred in me. A chord was struck. Something subversive, something ancient, something real. Now that I am aware of this Mystic Nation, I'm looking for those who are part of the movement. Alex mentions that his discovery of The Mystic Nation began with a simple e-mail that looked like spam. But from that e-mail he began getting hints, and coming closer to discovering this Mystic Nation. I wonder, now that I've heard about it, when my e-mail will arrive.
I like a quote from one of Alex's narratives, “Warriors needed in a quest to save the universe one planet at a time starting with Earth. Safe return doubtful.” I'm ruined to the things of this world, and want to invite many of you who check this site to join the quest for the Mystic Nation. Thoughts? Comments? Let 'em fly!

The Journey


I've got two things to blog on tonight, but I'm going to do them in separate blogs so that...well, because I want to, and it's my blog!
Tonight, we had our weekly worship gathering of The Journey. There are normally six of us present in my home for a time of being together with Jesus. Katlyn was gone tonight, but it was fitting that she was gone. I'll explain that in a second.
For our worship gathering tonight, everyone was supposed to bring something to share about their walk, about Christ, or about the Christian life. It was a great evening! First, Caryn had prepared blueberry and banana-nut muffins, coffee, and hot tea as an act of Christian hospitality and fellowship. Elaine shared from Hebrews 11 about the walk of faith. The passage really spoke to where we are in our journey, and Elaine tied it all together as she shared about not knowing the future, but knowing we're following Christ. This kind of faith pleases God. Next, Nathan shared a song he wrote based on Isaiah 58. The resounding refrain saying that God is enough for us. Great song! Marcus shared about King Nebuchadnezzar, and how he was used by God to spread God's fame. He spoke of how we all can spread God's fame, or like Nebuchadnezzar (and King David), we can have our moments of slipping back into the flesh. The bottom line for a man or woman who is chasing God is getting back up when you fall. I closed us out with one of those "imprint toys" that have all the pins that shape to your hand or face, and leave an impression. I talked about Philippians 3: 12-17, and how we need to leave an impression for those who need to follow someone. "Follow me as I follow Christ!" And then there is Katlyn. As I mentioned before, she wasn't here. But she had a great offering tonight! She was unable to be with us because she has made a new friend and is pouring her life into this friend in a mentoring role. She was out making the impression that we were at home talking about. And that is as great an expression of worship as any other!
To all of you who have joined me in The Journey, thank you for sharing tonight. As always, you have been a source of great inspiration to me. Caryn's comment was, "Tonight was good." And she is surely right. Caryn, Marcus, Katlyn, Nathan, and Elaine: tonight was good. Thank you for giving and sharing. I look forward to what Christ is doing in our fellowship with eager anticipation.
Your humble servant,
Jase

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Book Of James


Man, this book really rips me up. It may be the most pragmatic book of the New Testament. I was reading the first chapter of James, and God just got to crawling all over me about life and trust. Consider it pure joy when you face trials...man, is this guy talking to me or what?!? But the "ah-ha" moment came as I discussed this passage with some other folks last night. One of my friends was trying to talk about the difference between faith and laziness. His main question was something like this: "I know we should turn things over to God, and trust Him to take care of it, but how can you know if this is laziness or faith?" God spoke to me in that moment because I've really wrestled with that very thing. James tells us that when we face these trials, we should ask God for wisdom... That's not to say you just leave it with God and hope it works out. When you find yourself in the midst of a trial, ask God for wisdom, and He will give it to you freely. With wisdom, you know what you need to do, and what to trust God with. With God's wisdom, you know where to step, where to wait, and where to leap. I've read this passage hundreds of times, but last night it really was a source of great inspiration. When we face trials, count it joy, and ask God for wisdom to walk wisely through the trial. That's the essence of life, really. And the bonus is that we will not only walk wisely and weather the storms in a Godly way, but we earn the respect of people watching because they see us walk with wisdom. Max Lucado calls these trials the "thumps" of life. He says, "When a potter makes a pot, he checks its solidity by taking it from the oven and thumping it. It it "sings," it's ready. If it "thuds," it's placed back in the oven. The character of a person is also checked by thumping." With God-given wisdom, our lives will "sing" when we're thumped. Otherwise, we react to the trials in our flesh, and the result is a resounding "thud" that declares we are not yet ready. My hope and prayer is for wisdom that will allow my life to sing with the thumps that inevitably come.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Blessed by Accident?

One morning this week while I was doing my Bible study, I went looking for a verse...However, it was early, and my brain hadn't engaged yet. I was looking for "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted among the earth." I know, Psalm 46:10. Like I said, my brain wasn't working, and I went looking for that verse at Isaiah 46:10. And the result was quite a blessing. Isaiah 46:10 says, "I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." I stopped, and thought about it. I know this verse is directly talking about God's superiority over the gods of the Babylonians. I know that, in a less direct way, it is speaking about God's triumph over sin, and the promised deliverance of His people. But I couldn't help but wonder if there was something more there for me that morning. Does God know the outcome of every situation of life? Does His will always happen? Will He do whatever He wants in spite of my obedience or disobedience? And I came to Yes and No. He will accomplish His glory with or without me. But there are things that He may ask me to do that if I don't, won't get done. For example: the salvation of the person I am supposed to share His word with. What a fine line must exist in this balance. It baffles my mind. I have found yet another oxy-moron of the faith.
But that morning, God spoke to me in a simple way about this verese. He spoke to me about trust. He has always had things under control. You'll never here Him say, "Oops, I hadn't thought of that." or "Wow, I lost control there for a moment." He is God, and there is no other like Him. He will faithfully do what He desires, and has always done. Trust Him with the future. He can use the birds of the air to accomplish His will. He can use a talking donkey to accomplish His will. He can use a ruddy boy to defeat the giant. He has shown Himself faithful to His purposes. My responsibility is to be sure that I am in line with His purposes. I can't control the future, but I can get in line with God and His purposes. That's the greatest place to be. And I was reminded of this by accident?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

In The Camp Of The Enemy

In his new book, "Organic Church," Neil Cole says something profoundly impacting. He says, "To reach the lost, you gotta sit in the smoking section." He's talking about how cushioned the church has become from the people we should be reaching. And, in many ways, he's right. I've said that for many years, but am really living it now.
I've actually had a couple of folks who read this blog ask me which coffee shop I've landed on. In case I didn't mention it, Aroma's is my new hang. While sitting there a couple days this week, I've noticed that there is a group that frequents there, and they are not the type groups I've found at the other coffee shops in town. So, this is where I'll wait for my first person of peace. It's not exactly the camp of the enemy, but it is a dark place. Pray for my light to shine brightly! God actually told me this would be the place about two months ago, and I just got side-tracked. My normal oikas (place to hang) has been Daybreak. But, back in July, they had a band and were charging a cover charge, and I was forced (because I'm cheap...) to venture out to Aroma's. The next time I was at Daybreak, lamenting the fact that I had been unable to enjoy Daybreak that night, God got my attention. He spoke to me about being in new places and meetin new people. He had been saying that to me for a while. It just took me a while to get it. And what a clue I missed that night as God showed me where I should be spending my time. So, here I am.
There is another place that I've camped, though, that will hit the enemy closer to home. I am serving in a volunteer position with American Field Services (AFS). They are an international agency for sending and placing exchange students. My position here in the Lubbock Chapter is that of Support Director. My job consists of spending time with the new students and their host families to ensure that their interaction happens in healthy ways. I am also responsible for making sure that problems get worked out. I am there for the host parents when the job is too big, or the week has been a long one. I am there for the students when life is overwhelming, or their family dynamic is too weird. Basically, I am a shoulder for them to cry on and an ear for them to speak to. Now comes the cool part: none of the students have relationships with Christ, and I think only 1 host family professes Christ. We had orientation today, and some of the students shared their "world view" of Christianity. In process, I realized they were raging against an institution, and none of them had encountered Christ. I found myslef in a discussion that most of us would have fought about, or at least fought to be heard. And it was okay to say nothing; to just listen. Most of them are liberal in their politics, and atheists in their beliefs. I've pitched my tent in the enemy's camp, right smack-dab in the middle of four families, four college students (liasons whom I will be training and supervising), 4 international students, and their four families in their home countries. Now comes the fun part. I get to be the presence of Christ in their lives and world. I will be as Christ, and let Jesus draw them in. I will serve. I will be patient. I will endure. I will not judge. I will take the high road. And in all that I do as a service to my King, may they see it and glorify God. We had several international students come to Christ last year without us having to convince them with our words. They came because of His life in ours, and His drawing them to Him. Once again, we're in the camp of the enemy, and we're going to stay put as beacons of light for those in the dark place.