Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Sunday, September 07, 2008
What an exhausting day. I will try to update you on the happenings, but may get things a bit blurry (just like my eyes at the moment). At least the night before ended with a 1 hour massage. I use the word "massage" loosely because it is more like a 1 hour torture session. The really cool thing is that the environment is very festive. There were 7 of us Maegorans (the Chinese word for Americans), and we all got to share a room. The Chinese massage is a fully clothed event, so no issues with coed mingling. There are 3 42" plasma TV's on the wall in this room where our 7 plush loungers are lined along one wall. Each toruturer, err, I mean therapist comes in with a huge wooden barrel with water and spices to wash your feet. The water is HOT, so my massage starts off with her boiling the skin off of my feet. Then she lotions and spices my right foot and wraps it in a super heated towel and begins to BEAT THE FOOL out of my left foot. For 20 minutes she pounds the mess out of my feet. And now, 24 hours later, the arch of my left foot is so sore i cannot touch it! She continues to massage my head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes, by rubbing, and then punching, and then slapping me. It's amazing that I am still alive. And yet, by the time the Grand Inquisitor is done with you, you feel refreshed. It's pretty amazing. And the best part if that the whole thing (including green tea) cost me 75 RMB, or right at $9.00 USD! Absolutely amazing.
So, we get up this morning and head to the park as we have every day. Our usual ti jienza group was there, so we jumped in. Everyone that is traveling with me has improved at this sport. I bought 12 or 13 of the shuttlecock to use with our kiddos when I get home. As we parted ways with them after 45 minutes of playing, I asked where the lao sher (teacher) bought his traditional gae from and found out it was custom made by a local lady. One of these folks spoke English, so he helped me find out how I could get a couple of outfits like his. All of the people playing were sure she could make me some outfits, but that they would take extra material for me since I am fat! They are very to the point here! So, I made arrangements to meet my English speaking older friend, another friend, and the lady that makes the outfits back at the park at 2:00 that afternoon. I handed out DVD's that have the story of hope, and brochures that share the story and we departed to go do some power walking at the campus.
After the park, Michael and Lindsey went to a local school to play with Chinese children. They had a chance to play and speak with the kids. Lindsey has some great pictures that I will insert once I get a few. They had an incredible time. Lindsey fell in love with one like pudgy boy named "Lewis." Lindsey decided he as a chunky monkey and she just wanted to squeeze him to death!
We met back up for lunch, and then it was off to the park for my fitting. While I was being fitted, the rest of the team made some appointments to have dinner with some of the University students. I was very proud of them for heading off without me to do the things that needed done. Dinner was filled with significant conversations as they showed the students how to make these beaded bracelets we have. The beads help tell about Dad's plan for us, and his cost to help us overcome our birth condition. From what they have told me, it was a good time, and the conversations were deeply impacting for a few.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of town, I was being told that the outfits would cost even more than they thought because of my girth. I just love the Chinese bluntness. My English speaking friend said he had the afternoon free, so I asked him to help me shop for Cayla. He agreed, and we headed off into the city. I must say at this point that I have really been excited about my ability to get around and take care of things while I've been here. I was very worried about getting around, ordering food/buying things, but have done alright. We've only needed to hand our cell phones to drivers a couple of times so our Chinese speaking friends could get us where we needed to be.
Anyway, as we shopped for Cayla, I shared about dad, and how His son has some wonderful things in store for us. We talked for a bit about that, and about the son's teachings. My friend said that he reads the book every day, and that he thinks that The Son is a great teacher, but that he just can't believe all of what he reads. We camped on that issue for a bit, focusing on The Son as an honest man and good teacher. If, then, he is an honest man and good teacher, then he must also be what he claims to be. If he is not what he claims to be, then he is a liar and not a good teacher. My friend agreed and said that he would think on this further. We parted ways, and I headed off to finish shopping on my own and headed to the bank to exchange money for the rest of the trip. I hope that he will think on that, and that he will find the truth.
Well, that's all for now. I will post more later!
Friday, September 05, 2008
Today we saw many great things. We were planning on doing a video conference home to talk with the youth group, and to say hello to our families, but we didn't want to miss our daily time of Ti Jienza with the senior adults at the park, so we decided we'd leave early. We arrived at the park at 6 a.m. and found our group just forming. In anticipation of our coming back, the ladies had invited their Lao shur (teacher) to come and participate with us. Several people who walked by mentioned what a "jing hao lao shur" he is. He was probably mid 70's, and could handle the ti jienza like a mad fool! It was AWESOME to watch. But what's really cool is that the ladies invited him to come play with us. Tomorrow morning will be our last day with them, so we are taking gifts to give them. Each gift is a DVD and a pamphlet that has good news in it or on it. Ask Dad to make sure they get watched, and that these gifts would impact the future of our friends.
We left the park to go do the video chat with our friends back home. We had a really good time, and were very encouraged by each person's smiles, presence, and support. Thank you to Austin Mc, who made that magic moment possible. Our families came early and stayed late to visit with us live via the internet. It was a sweet time.
From there, it was lunch with local American friends followed by an afternoon of eating and shopping with some new friends who are not like minded yet. Thru the course of the afternoon, we shopped, ate, and shared Dad's truth with them. We also touched base with some of the university students from game night and made plans to hang out with them. I'll fill you in on that in a bit. As a team, we went with some new Asian friends to a restaurant that serves JZ BBQ. We were served scorpions on a stick, goat eye-balls, grasshoppers, chicken kidneys, silk worms, and much MUCH more. I video taped the meal and will include it in the final video that I'll post when we get back. Be SURE to watch me eat exotic, and watch the other team members nearly lose their lunch! Yes, I ate scorpion, silk worm, fried grasshopper, chicken kidneys, goat eye-balls, and all the rest.
After dinner, Rebecca, Michael, and Lindsey headed back to the campus where they met up with some of the guys and girls from last night. After some ti jienza, they shared and had some great conversation. Two of the girls have asked for copies of the book to read, and all of them said that they would come hang out with us on Friday night at the English corner we will be helping with. Ask Dad to bring them, and to continue to draw them. The conversations were deep, direct, and very encouraging.
While the three amigos where at the campus, I continued to spend time with the man who took us shopping and to dinner. We stopped off at Aaron Burger for a Coke on our way to the Night Market. While sitting at Aaron Burger, I got the opportunity to share the entire good news message with him. We dialogued for a long time on how to know you can trust Dad, how you can feel/hear/interact with Dad, and what a follower's life should look like. I thought that he was very close to joining the family, but sensed he was not quite ready to make a commitment. He did commit to ask Dad to prove He is real. My friend is seeking, and has encountered Dad before, but just isn't sure Dad isn't a fabrication of the human mind. It was a long, good talk that actually went from 6:15 up to about 8 p.m. Please ask Dad to show my friend that He is real. I am so encouraged by the conversation that I can't really sleep. But I will as soon as I'm done typing this. It's 11:52 p.m. and I still have video to capture. I'll update you on the massages (1 hour for $9) and our last day at the park when I do tomorrow's update
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Anyway, today has been a great day to this point. We got rolling at 6 a.m. heading to the park to do what we call "power walking." Power walking is an exercise in talking to Dad while we walk around. We talk to Him about the people we see. We listen for His directions. We sometimes quote His Book as we walking, knowing that the things we are saying and reading have never been spoken in these places before. It's an awe inspiring thing to speak the name of His Son for the first time in these places. It weighs heavy on my heart that His Name is not known here. But, it weighs heavy on my heart, too, that His Name is so taken for granted in our country. Such a great name should never be ignored, abandoned, or abused.
While at the park this morning, we played Jien za with some Senior Adults. Now, first you must know that the park is full every morning with Senior Adults who are in better shape than you or me. They are doing Tae Chi, sword practice, martial arts, and other highly energetic things. Some sections have places for stretching, and the senior adults can do amazing things like stretch their legs over their heads! I have been amazed. So, when I say we "played" with senior adults, understand that these people are athletes that could rival most 30 somethings! Jien za is like hacky sack, but is played with a really big badminton birdie that is flat at the weighted end instead of having a rubber ball. The name Jien za literally means "kicking the feathers." And these older ladies could kick from behind their heads, do scissor kicks, and had amazing speed. We looked like toddlers trying to hacky with university students. It was a lot of fun, though, and we are invited back in the morning. Over the next couple of days, I want to learn how to tell them the name of The Son in their language, and be able to part ways each day by telling them that Dad loves them very much.
From there, we met up with friends and went to a Buddhist mountain that has many shrines and worship places. It was quite a hike to the top. We actually rode a chair lift 3/4 of the way up. At the top, we had a great conversation with new friends about Father, and how much He loves His children. We also had a great talk about the spiritual deception of other world views and spiritual oppression. Perhaps our new friend and his wife will have their eyes opened soon. Please talk to Dad about that. After the mountain, our new friends took us shopping, and we got to experience this city's version of Wal-Mart! It was pure chaos! But I found a box of cherries for $80! They have to import them. Of course, I didn't buy them since I hate cherries. Some things are expensive here, and other things are stupid cheap! We charted a bus today to take us (4) and our friends (3) to the mountain. It was a 4 mile trip, and the bus driver waited 3 hours for us to finish, and then brought us the 4 miles back into town all for $14. Go figure.
We are about to head out for an evening of board games with local university students. We invited our friends from today to come, and we hope they will. We will be playing Twister, Sorry, Genga, Trouble, Monopoly, and Uno with about 40 college students. Talk to Dad over the next couple of hours for us. We would like for Him to grant us favor with the new people we will meet. We would also ask that He gives us words to speak and ears to hear as we have these important conversations.
For those of you at THF, we will be doing a live broad cast for the youth on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. It's a time for them to ask questions and hear about Dad's work here. Feel free to drop in, but please remember that this time is for them. If we have further time, we can answer questions from you, but I'd like the students to have first crack at it.
As always, you are so very important to this trip. I am thankful for your support and look forward to the great things that Dad will do; knowing that you have made them possible. I'll send more update stuff when we have time!
If you would, please take the time to talk to Dad about a couple of things on our behalf.
1) Ask Him to give us some guidance towards potential partners in our endeavor. He knows so much better than we do who we should be spending our time with. Along those lines, we could use His help in communicating with those whose language we don't speak. We spent the afternoon on a cultural scavenger hunt with a list of things to do on our own with no Chinese speakers with us. We managed to get the list done in just over an hour, but it helped us realize 2 things. One is that we can communicate when we take the time and really think things thru. But the other thing we realized is that if we can find English speakers, it goes much better! We could use His help with that.
2) As you know, we are 13 hours ahead of most of you, and jet lag is affecting a couple of folks on the team. I am doing great. Michael and Lindsey seem to be doing okay. Rebecca is wiped out. She's fine, but it would be great for some outside help in adjusting. Of course, the hotel we are staying in has A/C, but decided that it is cool enough outside that we don't really need it...and they turned it off. So our rooms are about 85 degrees at night. It's not bad, but it makes for restless nights. Getting our bodies onto North Asia time will require us maximizing our designated rest times, so this could present an issue. Ask Dad to make it cool in our rooms! We'll make it without A/C, but it would be nice.
3) In the morning (Tuesday night your time), we will be heading out to meet people and learn their culture. If you would be so kind as to help prepare the way for us by asking Dad to be there ahead of us, that would be great. We'll be engaging some folks in recreational activities at the park. I'm going to learn TaeChi and hopefully share my views on inner peace and balance. We also have a badminton set to play with, and will be inviting folks to play with us. Then, tomorrow night we will be playing board games and Twister with some new friends. I am excited about playing with our Chinese friends. We are hoping that some will go with us to dinner and site seeing in the next few days. Ask our Father to grant us favor, boldness, and wisdom in family expansion.
As always, I am so grateful for you and for your support as I travel and seek the ancient work that Father started so long ago. He has been busy here for a long time, and with your help, I am sure we will find those places He is preparing us for.
Shiou Ju (my friends here last year nick named me Shiou Ju, which means "small pig.")
Monday, September 01, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Have you ever had one of those days where your phone just rings CONSTANTLY? Today has been one of those days. After getting to sleep around 2:30 this morning, my phone began ringing at 7:45 this morning. Then a text at 7:55. Then a call at 8:15. By 9:00 I'd had 6 or 7 calls and 5 texts. And it has been that way all day. Which isn't a bad thing in and of itself. But for some reason I feel like I need to take calls, check texts, etc. On top of that, my phone has been on the blink, so if it does work I need to jump on it. By 2:00 this afternoon, I'd run my battery completely down and had to turn my phone off. I know, I know...How ever will I live with my phone off? Well, it turns out that just minutes after I turned my phone off a lady engaged me in a spiritual conversation which ended up with her coming to Christ. She had been raised around a church where people respond to humans instead of Jesus for forgiveness and restoration. When I explained to her that true regeneration only comes from Christ and that it only comes when He becomes our Savior, she was ready to engage him. Through the course of our conversation we started talking about obedience and baptism, when she says to me, "You could baptize me RIGHT NOW. I'm ready!" It seems that she decided Jesus was going to be her master, so we went out behind the building to the hot tub that is there, and in the presence of some of our close friends, I baptized her. I say all of that to say this: what would her life be like if I had plugged my phone in, and been engaging the 100's (not really) of people who want to talk to me instead of turning it off and engaging the one in front of me? Just a thought to ponder. Turn your phone off and look around. The world won't end, and for someone near you, their world might just begin.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Cecil Sarratt left this world last night at 11:40. Well, he may have left much sooner, but his body stopped working last night. I imagine Cecil screeching into heaven on his Jake and Elwood Blue 1200CC Sportster.
Cecil was a real friend. He was one of the first members of The Heights Fellowship that I met. He and "Charlie-boy" helped me get my Honda out of the mud I'd gotten stuck in on Father's Day, 2004. Earlier this year, the battery had gone dead on Harley, and Cecil left work to help me push start the bike at the United parking lot. He thought it was funny that the battery was dead because I forgot to turn the bike completely off when I got there.
Cecil was a good man. He'd only been a follower of Jesus for a few years. Saved out of the rough life of a 1% biker (1% is the amount of bikers who are"outlaw" bikers like you see in the movies), Cecil loved Jesus. Every Sunday morning, I looked forward to standing outside talking with Cecil and "Charlie-boy" about our bikes, about life, and about Christ. Three weeks ago, Cecil and I took what would be the last ride we would take together in this world. He was the Road Captain that morning for our Nooma Riders ride. We ended up at Spanky's where we laughed and had a great time. Of course, Cecil was at the center of the conversation with a sense of humor that was on such a roll all we could do was sit and laugh.
Cecil, you will be missed. We'll take care of those you left behind, and I'm looking forward to riding with you again one day. Peace, My Brother.
Monday, June 30, 2008
"Actual" - "presently existing in fact and not merely potential or possible."
"Potential" - "the inherent capacity for coming into being."
Taken at face value, we say, "Yeah, I knew that." But the implications of these two words can be profoundly life altering. Think about them when applied to people. Actual is what you are at the moment. It's the realized reality of all you've done. There's no changing what has actually come to pass. There's no changing what has become actual. It's done.
Potential, however, is all that could be from here forward. It can be a great word when we say, "That guy HAS great potential!" But when accompanied with one's actual, potential can be a horrible word: "That guy HAD great potential." See, our actual impacts our potential. I would even submit that as life goes on, your potential diminishes while your actual increases. At birth, we are 100% potential and 0% actual. At mid-life, we are 50% potential and 50% actual. Near death, we are just about 0% potential and 100% actual. John the Baptist understood this, stating that it was time for him to fade out and let Jesus take the scene. Jesus Himself realized this as we read John 13. His time was coming to a close, and it was time to show them the full extent of His love. I think it's this truth (although usually unknowingly) that drives people into "mid-life crisis." The thought sinks in, "I have accomplished so little and have such a short time left...it's time to do all those things I feel like I've wanted to do. Or at least to live life more fully with what I've got left." The counseling theory here is that a mid-life crisis is an unresolved fear of death and failure...but that's for another blog.
I bring all of this up to share a way to multiply your potential as it actually diminishes! I'm not a fan of math. I'm not current on math principles or trig, or anything else that could be hip about math. But I do understand multiplication, and am convinced that when you take whatever potential you have left and invest in those with potential, you increase their potential exponentially. If I am at mid-life (and at age 38, that's a reality if I live to be 76), and have 50% of my potential left, I can invest my energy and my future in my son, who at age 8 is still 90% potential. If I wisely invest what's left of my life in others, I can raise their potential, and in doing do I increase my potential, too! My youth pastor, Bart McMillan, once told me that the greatest investment you'll ever make is investing in people. Little did I know at the time that he was handing me the key to real success. No matter how long I live, if I will invest my energy in those around me, everyone's future gets brighter. Rather than being depressed or alarmed at how little life you have left, invest it in people and be amazed at what God will do with it. And be amazed at what God will do with you.
Friday, June 27, 2008
The Laseman family attended THF with us. Justin, mentioned below, and his brother, Jacob, have been on youth trips with us. I am saddened by the loss and ask you to join me in p
From The Lubbock Online web site (our local news site):
The motorcycle deaths of father and son Danny and Justin Laceman on Thursday add to an increasing number of motorcycle fatalities over the past three years, something that concerns hospital workers as the summer months arrive.
Typically there are more motorcycles on the road during the summer, and “people have got to watch for motorcycles,” said Lubbock Police Capt. James Shavers.
"There is no way to predict a motorcycle accident," he said. “You have to assume they don’t see you.”
Laceman was driving the motorcycle around Thursday, headed east on
That’s when Cromeenes, who was driving a 2005 Chevy Tahoe with a 5-year-old and 2-year-old in the rear, tried to turned left onto
Pieces of glass and parts of the Harley Davidson littered the ground in the busy intersection.
Shavers said police are still investigating the accident and have not filed any charges.
The two children inside the Tahoe were taken to
Danny, 43, and Justin Laceman, 14, were taken to UMC by ambulance. Police said Justin was wearing a helmet, his father was not.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The legendary band BOSTON will headline the outdoor festival at Marina Park on Friday, June 6 in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The show kicks off a summer of stadium, concert and festival dates that will span the United States and Canada. Seasoned Stryper frontman Michael Sweet and new fan phenom Tommy DeCarlo join BOSTON veterans Jeff Neal, Kimberley Dahme, Gary Pihl and of course, Tom Scholz on stage this summer. Gary, the longest reigning member of BOSTON next to Tom, joined the band in 1985 to help complete “Third Stage,” and through his efforts, the band reemerged in 1987 for the Third Stage Tour, which set stadium records across the US.
Monday, June 16, 2008
[ASIDE: Last night we even added a twist to the routine. We brought a box of Milkbone Dog Biscuits since so many people bring their dogs to the park for the concert. My daughter LOVES dogs, and she would take treats to the dogs while we brought water to the people. (By the way, a box of smaller Milkbone Biscuits is about $4.00, so there's really no overhead there. But we've discovered that dog lovers love people who love their dogs. They receive love by having their pets loved, too, so this is just another way to love people.)]
While most business owner's goals are to get them into their shop, our goal is to be Jesus in their lives. That seemed to just stun the local business owner. He even said something to the effect of, "Most churches would at least hand out a flier about themselves and capitalize on the marketing." Exactly. And that's fine for them. But it's not what God asked us to do. God asked us to go love thirsty people by giving them a drink of water.
[Sidebar] In three weeks, we are planning a cookout for the ENTIRE community. We're expecting to feed around 500 people. And the following week we are going to do a kid's club in the park every day from 9 a.m. to Noon with crafts, recreation, Bible story, and snow cones. Because we love Jesus and love our community, we are free to expect nothing in return. Rather, we get to lavish our love, resources, and life on Jesus by pouring ourselves onto people.
The business owner just kinda stood their again, thought for a second, and said, "So, you're like the anti-marketers?" Well, no. We are pro kindness. I told him again that our goal is to let people know they are loved and we are here to serve with no strings attached. He just kinda nodded, and walked away as he said, "Cool. I'll see you guys next week." I hope he understood, but don't think he did. But he will. And now we have another person to love and another person to serve. We just have to discover how to serve him and show him love. It's an exciting thing to be odd. It's like that line from the end of "The Incredibles."
TONY : You look different.
VIOLET : I feel different. Is different okay?
TONY : Hey, different is...[clears throat] Different is great.
Yeah, he's right. Different is GREAT. And I'm loving it.
Friday, June 13, 2008
"How did Jesus go about transforming a raw, interesting, diverse group of men from non-awareness to developed disciples? Reading the gospels, I came across several, repeated actions.
- Teaching. Jesus had an agenda of significant themes that had to be discussed. Sometimes, he initiated. Other times, he took His cue from the disciples' conversations or behaviors.
- Talking. The goal of talking is to relate, to express, to get to know someone. To be transformed, we need both formal and informal talk. Requirements without relationship won't produce lasting disciples.
- Time. Jesus walked over 5000 miles with the disciples. He ate around 3800 meals with them. Do you think their relationships deepened after all that eating, walking, and talking? Some parts of discipleship are better caught than taught.
- Trouble. Jesus used negative situations and turned them into teachable moments. He warned His guys about pending dangers. He prepared them for difficulty. Jesus didn't train His friends to expect a sterilized, sanitized world of fluff and puff.
- Thinking. Jesus asked the best questions. He knew how to get to the "what" and "why" of an issue. His provocative questions helped prepare the disciples for their purpose. Jesus knew behaviors and thoughts are linked together.
- Time-Out. Jesus laughed. He went to parties. He attended weddings. He enjoyed being with his friends. There should be room in discipleship for just fun. Is it possible more transformation could happen over ice cream at Friendly's than at Bible study one week?
- Tasks. Jesus gave both simple and detailed assignments. He debriefed the disciples when they returned. What did they see? What did they learn?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Then, of course, the comparison happened. I like to think that I do a lot more now and that I do a lot better now, but it's hard to compare like that. I do know this, whatever I did back then, it was out of a crazy zeal for Christ and the new life I'd been given. How much do I do today because it's expected? How much of my faith is a check list of things that "Good Christians" do? The early church at Ephesus did A LOT of great things, but they lost their focus on why they were doing it. Memorial Day always reminds me to remember my first love, and to allow Him to set my schedule, dictate my day, and have His way with me. I just need to love Him and do silly/crazy things because I am so in love with Him. I hope Memorial Day was a day of remembering for you, too.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I just don't understand people. Accidents happen, sure. But why hit and run? This was the senseless death of someone dear to many people in Lubbock. Here's the article from www.kcbd.com.
At 8 p.m. Thursday night, Lubbock police arrive at the scene of a hit and run motorcycle accident at the corner of 50th Street and Avenue D.
Just 20 minutes earlier, at 7:40, Monte Wampler was riding his beloved 2000 Harley Davidson East on 50th Street. In a split second, as Wampler passed Avenue D, he was hit by a 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis.
Allegedly behind the wheel was 21-year-old Rochelle Ranson. But police say Ranson didn't stop when she allegedly hit Wampler. The police report says Ranson backed up, running over Wampler, and then took off North on Avenue D.
Police say Ranson then hit another person, a pedestrian, running over the person's legs. At that point two people jumped out of the car and took off on foot and Ranson allegedly then took off west on 46th Street where she got into another accident - another hit and run.
Not 20 minutes later around the same time Wampler was pronounced dead at UMC, Ranson was pulled over and arrested at the Super 8 Motel on I-27 and 66th Street, barely a mile from where the initial hit and run occurred that killed Wampler.
"It appears intoxication may be a factor but we'll have more on that when the test results come back," said Lt. Jon Caspell with the Lubbock Police.
Until those results come back official charges won't be filed against Ranson. She's currently being held on an unrelated warrant at the Lubbock County Jail.
The family of Monte Wampler is getting ready for a funeral service Saturday and they say the public is welcome. If you'd like to pay your respects to Wampler, his family invites you to the First Baptist Church in Ralls at 2 p.m. Saturday for a service in remembrance of Monte.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Over the course of the evening, we had several conversations with folks just about life and why we would be giving away coffee, pastries, and massages. The massage chair was a big hit. Thanks Katie! Over the course of 2 hours, she did around 20 massages. The cool thing about that was that the staff at the coffee shop were able to take advantage of this gift, and it provided a further connection to them. One of the girls who was working the counter used to work at Aroma's, so she knows us a little. As she was tallying up everything and all the food products we'd served, she kept apologizing for so many people taking advantage of the free food. I kept telling her that we wished more people had been here to enjoy it, and that our goal was to give twice as much away next time. "Next time?!?!" she asked in a shocked/amazed way. "You mean you'll do this again? This has been GREAT!" We gave away $101.00 worth of coffee and bundt cake last night.
The people of The Journey were amazing, too. They bussed tables, played with dogs, handed out coffee vouchers, and engaged the people in our new oikos. I left last night feeling like we had done in one night what it took me several months to do at Aroma's. Yea for multiplied effort!
The highlight of the evening, though, happened at the very beginning of the night. I had just put up the signs indicating that there would be a prayer room upstairs, and was getting ready to head up there to make sure the chairs were set up. Standing at the bottom of the stairs was "Mike," just gazing up the stairs as if summoning the courage to ascend. I would later find out that Mike is 55, has 3 daughters, and I think he's divorced, living alone here in Tech Terrace. I came along side him and just stood there, off to his right. He sensed I had walked up, and turned to me, asking, "Are you one of the people praying for folks?" I told him I was and introduced myself. He gripped my hand with the desperate/tight grip of a man barely hanging on. He looked me in the eye and began to weep. As the tears rolled down his cheek, he told me that he was going to end his life, and had gone for a walk to think that over. He told me he felt like he needed a coke, and came in to buy one...but he doesn't drink coke and wasn't sure why had even come in to get one. As he was standing at the counter, he saw the signs letting people know if they needed prayer to come on back. He said that at that moment he knew that God had brought him here to be prayed over and restored. So we walked up stairs, and he shared some of his story with me, being sure to say several times that he knew God had brought him to J&B to save his life tonight. Turns out, Mike is a follower of Jesus who has fallen on very hard times. He lives near J&B, and was out walking as he contemplated his suicide. He told me he had made a mess of his life, and just couldn't go on. So, we prayed. But before we started I just reached out my hand, and he grabbed it with both of his and squeezed the circulation out of it. I prayed Scripture over him, and asked God to give him wisdom. We thanked God together that Mike could offer a broken heart and contrite spirit. I prayed that Mike would find the end of his own strength and effort and plug into God's unlimited resources. We prayed and prayed and prayed, praying for about 15 minutes. All the while Mike wept bitterly and uncontrollably. After we finished praying, Mike continued to hold onto my hand as he looked up, visibly relieved, and thanked me. He knew it was a miraculous intervention of God into his life that we were there last night. As we talked about life, and what would be next for him, he began asking about The Journey. I told him I was the Pastor. He looked down at the floor and said he had skipped church that day because things had gotten so bad. I just smiled and told him that we exist to bring God to him. We chatted a bit longer, and he tried to offer money for The Journey. I told him we couldn't take money from him, but that we would continue to pray for him. We talked for a bit more and I asked him if there was anything else we could do to help. I didn't want to be the guy who just prays for him, and sends him on his way. He said prayer was exactly what he needed. He plans to come back and hang out with us. He even went as far as to say he thinks there are many people in this neighborhood who need to have God brought to them, and he felt like we would do that very thing. As he stood to leave, he grabbed my hand again, and thanked me for saving his life. I didn't know what to say, so I just told him that I was honored to be a part of his life, and that I would be honored to continue to walk with him. "You aren't designed to do life alone," I told him as we headed down the stairs. I gave him my cell number and told him that if there were ever anything he needed, to call. And, just like that, he headed out the door. We could have packed up at that pointed and headed out. I felt like that's why God had us here last night. Mike helped me see what God sees here at J&B. It's a normal thing for me to be broken for the lost condition of my community, but seldom do I dig in and really contemplate how bad some of their lives may be. Sitting here this morning, I'm wondering who else is at the end of their rope, thinking about giving up or giving in. Hopefully, The Journey will always be there to step in and be Jesus to those who need Him.
And I say all of that to say that our network of prayer warriors from all over the country played a vital role in what we did as they prayed for us last night. I really believe that as they prayed, God moved and brought Mike looking for a drink that he didn't have at home. I believe that as they took time out of their day to pray for us, Mike turned the corner to the left instead of the right and ended up here rather than the park. Ultimately, I believe that one hopeless 55 year old man now has hope because of prayer. Thank you to all of you who prayed for us last night, and for giving of yourself and your time to make a difference in Lubbock and the kingdom. YOU ROCK!
Friday, May 02, 2008
As I went thru the stack of confessions, I came to a simple drawing. It was a heart/sun! It was a heart with a smiley face and "sun rays" coming out of it. Then I remembered that my daughter, Cayla, had sat in on part of what we were doing, and that was her offering. It brought a smile to my face as I was deeply touched by her simple confession that Jesus, The Son, is love and warmth. She told me that was what she wanted to tell God, and I had completely forgotten about it until I found it in the stack. Now, I don't want to make light of sin, or say it's no big deal, but I think sometimes I beat myself up with guilt about my sin and forget that if The Son has set you free, you are free indeed. And confession brings freedom. And Christ is life, love, and freedom. In the midst of all of the yuck in this stack of human depravity is a reminder that, in spite of it all, God deeply loves us and seeks to forgive and restore. So why don't I confess more to Him? The Psalmist reminds me, "For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning." (30:5)
Confession is good for the soul is not just a glib cliché, but a soul-healing truth. Make confession a regular part of your day/life/moment. The Journey is best made with each other walking in the freedom of Christ's restorative forgiveness. Don't walk alone, Don't walk in guilt. Walk in the light, as He is in the light. He is the light.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Redmond, Washington April 1, 2008 (Wrediculus News Service)
Bill Gates announced today, that in spite of its popularity, Microsoft (MSFT) would be abandoning PowerPoint. Originally developed by a former Berkeley PhD student, Bob Gaskins and software developer, Dennis Austin at Forethought Software - PowerPoint was launched for the Mac in 1987. Forethought was purchased by Microsoft later that year and PowerPoint was released for Windows in 1990.
Gates made the announcement at a symposium put on in Seattle by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Eyeballs. Commenting at P.E.T.E yesterday, Gates stated,
"Listen this has nothing to do with Apple's purportedly superior presentation program, Keynote. I just feel that after almost twenty years, PowerPoint has served it's purpose. If you remember, I didn't even use it for my presentation at CES in January. But, quite frankly, that isn't the real reason we've canned the product.
As you may remember, Time Magazine voted Bono, my wife and me, Persons of the Year a few years back. It's because of our efforts to make the world a better place.
Dispensing with PowerPoint is a part of that initiative. We realize that no matter how wonderful the software is, it's being used in ways that are hurting people."
Gates said that one of the main complaints he'd heard about the presentation software was its use in churches. He stated that there are over 300,000 churches in America and it would seem a vast percentage were using PowerPoint. And using it badly.
"From cluttered screens to using every font in their system, churches are making a mockery of the power of this program. Things fly in, things zip out. It's making congregants sick. And Microsoft has had enough litigation issues without having to worry about a class-action lawsuit from the millions of pew sitters in America."
This reporter asked Mr. Gates why he hadn't recommended the writings of Garr Reynolds to the church PowerPoint audience. Gates said,
"Listen, I've really appreciated Garr's comments about my own PowerPoint presentations. I've taken them to heart. And I am making my way through Garr's new book. Unfortunately, Ballmer has been less willing to change.
But the problem is that Mr. Reynolds calls his website PresentationZen.com and churches really aren't into the whole Zen thing."
Gates stated that Microsoft (MSFT) would continue to support PowerPoint for Windows XP and earlier but that all development for Vista was being curtailed. He also said that all PowerPoint packages in the retail channel would have labels added to them stating "Not Recommended for Church Use."
Gates also told the gathered reporters that he was attempting to talk to Steve Jobs about Keynote as he feared churches would just move to the Apple platform. "As yet, I've not heard back from Steve."
Originally published on Feb 14th, 2006. I thought it would be appropriate for today.
Monday, March 31, 2008
One dictionary defines "disputable" this way: "open to argument or debate," and "matters" in this manner: "a vaguely specified concern." So, "disputable matters" leads me to believe Paul is now going to talk about "vaguely specific concerns that are open to argument or debate."
Paul (as Jewish as one man could be!) addresses two items as disputable matters: dietary laws and the Sabbath! Devout Jews observe these two matters more than any others. Yet Paul minimalizes them as disputable matters. This passage drove me to the place of asking, "What are some other disputable matters?" What do you think?
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
She came over and told me that something had happened on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. I told her I was sure it was Thursday. Well, her son had gotten into the car after school that day and proceeded to tell her that he "became a Christian today." She responded to him by saying, "Well, that's nice, Honey. We're all Christians," and continued on with her check list of things she needed to get done. Rick stopped her thoughts, though, when he said, "No, really. I'm not going to Hell now. I said a prayer and gave Jesus my life and I am a REAL Christian now." As she is telling me this, I am just waiting for the "Who do you think you are..." or the "How dare you..." But she stops and tells me how grateful they are for Jeremiah and that a wonderful thing has happened. It turns out that they are all excited about Rick. His grandfather is a pastor and he's excited, too. She finishes her conversation with me telling me how excited Rick is and how he is going to be bringing his Bible to school to read with Jeremiah, and that they are grateful for Jeremiah.
I made a couple of observations afterward that I think are paramount.
1. What if her response had been negative? What would I have done? I hope that I would have been gracious and still maintained the positive of the whole encounter; and that is that a little boy came to Jesus last week. I'm sure that my kids will cause some trouble as they further the kingdom. This encounter, although a hugely positive encounter, reminded me of the reality that trouble from spreading the Gospel is coming and I need to be ready.
2. Rick's mom responded to him by saying, "We're all Christians." I've made an assumption with this family that they are believers based on the fact that they attend church on a regular basis. They are VERY nice people. Rick's dad is very outgoing and just a joy to be around. All that to say, however, if they think that everyone is a Christian, then maybe they are not and I need to be speaking Gospel truth into their lives, as well. With Rick coming to Jesus, it's the perfect time to start that conversation.
3. A more general observation I made was that not everyone will respond to the Gospel in a negative way. That's a no brainer...but you'd be surprised at how many times you make the assumption that people only respond negatively to the Gospel. I am always prepared for people to balk at the thought of Jesus, but some people actually respond in a positive way and that I need to expect both reactions, and not just the negative.
So, what are you waiting for? Go cause some trouble and be blessed by the good that will come of it!