Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Like Father Like Son

I found myself in the midst of a cool moment yesterday at Daybreak Coffee.

Monday, December 01, 2008

You just never know.

It's become a tradition for us to host our Asian friends at our home for Thanksgiving.  Last year, it was Ken & Miho, Richard, and Jack & his family.  I know those names don't look Asian, but everyone except Miho has taken a Western name to spare us the embarrassment of trying to pronounce them.  Anyway, this year, Jack's family couldn't make it, so we invited the new Yamagata chef, Lewis.  Lewis is a native of China.  He actually lived near Marcus and Kat.  Lewis and I were talking and it turns out his mom is from the city where Kat and Marcus live.  He was excited to meet someone who has experienced the Night Market!

Anyway, as they were leaving around 3 on Thursday afternoon, Miho stayed behind while the guys all piled into the car.  She stayed behind to tell us that Lewis' dad had passed away on Monday, and getting to share a family meal had meant the world to him.  She thanked us profusely, and then made her exit.

We never would have known of Lewis' loss if she hadn't told us.  It reminded me that every moment is an opportunity to impact someone's life.  We never really know what's going on with them.  By simply being hospitable, polite, or even generous, God can do things that we remain unaware of.  The author of Hebrews (I lean towards it being Luke, btw), wrote, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." (Heb. 13:2)  To do that means making the most of every encounter.  And to do that means laying aside yourself and your agenda for a higher purpose.  Our daily mantra needs to sound similar to what Jesus told His disciples in John 4:  "My food is to do the will of my father."  Especially in this holiday season, learn to breathe that simple phrase of obedience.  In doing so, the least you may accomplish is passing a test to see how you would treat a stranger.  The best you may do is to be Jesus in the life of someone who is hurting and desperate for hope.  Either way, you express the great love for Jesus that we say we have for Him.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When Good Choirs Go Bad

Holy Cow!  You've gotta check this out!  http://michaelkelleyministries.wordpress.com/2008/11/11/the-future-of-church-choir/.  If you thought "The Renewed Mind" was rough, you'll love this!  Try to catch these blue hairs ridin dirty.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A "New" Word

I'm reading "The Tangible Kingdom," by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, and in my reading this morning, I stumbled upon a word that is not new, per se, but is just the word that I needed to read today.  It's a word that comes closest to expressing how I feel.  I've had this feeling for some time, and couldn't quite put my finger on it until just a few moments ago.  The moment was so impacting that I put the book down and came straight here to get this thought "on paper."  

The word is "tension."  Here of late I have had this feeling of unrest, imbalance, or an uneasy feeling that may even be pouring out through physical expression.  My pilgrimage over the last 3 years has brought me to a place of question and unrest.  I had hoped it would do just the opposite.  Yet I find myself more so there than when I began the current leg of my pilgrimage.  In spite of a new focus, new methodology, new resources and friends, I still have not seen people coming to Christ the way I had hoped.  And that has fostered this tension that I know understand.  Perhaps you feel it.  Perhaps you long for something different.  Maybe, like me, you have this gut-level tension that longs to see other Sojourners find faith and a community that brings them life.  

So, what do you do with tension?  I could get a spiritual massage, I guess, and placate the longing by thinking about the good we've done in the last three years.  But I think I am going to do the opposite.  Often times, after a good work out, my muscles experience a tension from the exertion.  And I have found, at least for me, that working the tension out in another workout helps.  Now, to figure out what that looks like spiritually...  Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Life is an occasion. Rise to it."

I love movies.  And "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" is one that I will watch over and over.  Dustin Hoffman's title character captivates me because he embodies wisdom and play at the same time.  The funny thing is that his funny speech pattern was something he came up with as a joke, but everyone loved it so much that they kept it.  Anyway, Cayla (my 6 year old daughter) and I were curled up on the couch early Sunday morning watching Mr. Magorium when 2 things happened.  The first is that Mr. Magorium (who I've quoted before) is talking to his young protege, Mahoney (played by Natalie Portman) when he reminds her that "Life is an occasion.  Rise to it!"  I had to pause the movie and write that down.  The most awesome thing about the quote is that Jesus and Paul both taught the same thing 2,000 years ago.  Jesus reminds us that He has set us free and given us the ultimate life.  To live anything less is to miss the precious gift he provided for us in this life.  Paul said the same thing when he reminded us to train our bodies as an athlete running for the prize.  Finish Strong!  Don't miss out on the life that Christ has provided.  It was an amazing moment as Cayla and I talked about that very thing.  

Then the second thing happened.  Jason Bateman's character (they call him "Mutant") reminds Mahoney that she just needs to believe in herself and she will be successful.  Cayla looked up at me and said, "Daddy, she needs to believe in God and not herself to be successful."  Then, after a short pause, she nodded approval to her own thought, and went back to watching the movie.  Boy, she was RIGHT ON!  And there in lies the tension that I think we all live in.  Celebrating the life that Christ has given to us without ever taking our eyes off of Him.  If you are like me, when things are going right, or going well, you take the credit for it and revel in the achievement and recognition.  It's only when things get "not so good" that we look to Christ.  It seems like it's only in the dark times that I lift my eyes up and look away from myself.  Paul lived in the same tension.  He knew there were things he should be doing but wasn't.  He knew there were things he shouldn't be doing but was.  And in that tension, Paul lifts his eyes in recognition that the only resolution for this is to realize that any life he lived in his physical body was to be lived for Christ; lived out in faith and a tribute to the One who gave that life to him.  Good or bad, up or down, your life is an occasion given to you by Christ to rise to in honor and worship of Him.  My problem is that I usually only get half of the equation right.  My little girl's reflection on the movie is what I leave with you today:  don't believe in yourself...believe in the God who dwells in you and thru you who abundantly blesses and cares for you.  Believe in the Jesus of the Cross who sacrificed His life so God would be exalted and we would reap the benefit.  Have that mind in you that was in Christ, who richly celebrated life with service and who always rose to the occasion.

Monday, October 20, 2008

One of those days...

For me, as I've mentioned before, Sunday is "GO Day!"  Yesterday was no exception.  I was at the building at 7 a.m. getting the LIFE Group info table organized and moving some stuff around.  Band rehearsal kicks it at 7:30 a.m.  At 8:30 I grab a quick breakfast and pray with the band.  9:00 we do the music for the first service.  9:45 found me printing pictures for a booth I was manning for an annual gathering of local churches.  10:30 hugged my wife and kids since I hadn't seen them yet that day.  10:45 we started the next service.  12:30 I left the building to go have lunch with my students at Taco Bell.  By 1:45 I was at Calvary Baptist Church setting up the Ignite booth, which I manned until 5:00.  By 5:15 I was getting everything ready for The Journey's gathering at J&B.  7:30 we wrapped up and headed to dinner, which we do every Sunday night.  I was home by 9:00 and watching Seattle get trounced by Tampa Bay, and asleep by 1:00.  It was a crazy day, but in the middle of it all I got to talk to A TON of people.  And it wasn't just talk, there were some meaningful conversations, and the sharing of some lives that made the day really special.  I guess that's what gets me through those busy days:  I get so engrossed in the conversations that I don't realize I've been on my feet for 7 hours, or haven't eaten in 5 hours.  And the cool thing is that each conversation reminds me that people really do long to be connected, to be known, and to know others.  It's just a matter of being where they are to connect with them.  Even this morning, I had a great conversation with Rick and April at J&B.  Although yesterday was an 18 hour day, it was a great day.  I'm finding myself having more of "those days" than bad days, or even boring/uneventful days.  Don't get me wrong, just like my friend Courtney said last night, those days when we get a break are great.  But I get my batteries recharged with people...So, I'm off to have lunch with 10 folks right now!  Peace!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Joy of Childhood

My kids LOVE to spar with each other.  They put on the gear and go at each other like mad, mini kung fu masters.  But they giggle and laugh the WHOLE time!

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Potato

I don't know a lot about Spanish, so feel free to correct me if this is wrong, but a friend of mine was showing me this shirt that says, "Mi papa lo arregla  todo."  The shirt is supposed to translate to say, "My daddy can fix anything."  But, if I am right, without the accent over the last "a" in "papa" (like this mi papá ) it really says either, "My potato can fix anything" or "My Pope can fix anything."  Whichever the case, isn't it funny how different the message can be if even one little piece is missing?  It reminds me to communicate clearly and take nothing for granted!  The sub-text says "For nothing is impossible for God," as it quotes Luke 1:37.  How true it is!  If God has given you a potato that can fix anything it really is miraculous.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

See You At The Pole

As I stood across town video taping students at Coronado High, my children met at their flag pole and prayed for their campus.  They also prayed for students around the world who will be sharing Christ with those who need to hear.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spontaneous Worship & Uprising

So, I've been sitting and thinking about a somewhat spontaneous (probably more instantaneous) worship event.  I'm wondering if there are some that would drop what they are doing with a days notice to be somewhere public to share in song, Scriptures, and prayer.  Are you one of those who would?  If you are, leave a comment and join the revolution.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Whatever Happened to Ray Boltz?

Many of you may be too young to remember Ray Boltz.  He authored several spiritual hits in the 80's and 90's.  Among them, "Thank You" and "I Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb."  Well, as I was reading Los' blog last night, I found a post about Mr. Boltz coming out of the closet.  So, I did some looking around, and found an article.  You can click here to read for yourself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Some Thoughts

I am sitting in Houston International Airport (or Bush Int'l, as it is now called), and it is 4:30 in the morning.  The rest of the team is sound asleep on the floor around me.  Someone had to stay up to watch the luggage, right?

Anyway, I wanted to put this down before I forget it.  The biggest thought or lesson I am bringing home from our Asian experience is that there are MANY people from our country who love God and have answered His Call to go to the corners of the world.  They sacrifice holidays with family.  They sacrifice their favorite foods.  They sacrifice television and radio that they can understand.  They live humbly and serve selflessly.  In some places, like the place we were in, they even have to maintain a low profile and work in secret.  Too often I take for granted what I have here in the States.  I can speak the name of Jesus without repercussions.  I can gather with my local church and lift up songs.  I can pray for and be prayed for openly.  I can engage in the work that Christ has called me to without worrying that it might cost me the chance to stay in this country.  I can share with people here without fear that they or their family could be imprisoned or killed if they say "yes" to Jesus.  And yet, there are days when I feel alone, stifled, like I'm the only one who gets it.  That's not true here, but for our friends in foreign lands, they are alone, stifled, and they know they will remain so.

So, here's to my heroes.  For all of you on the front lines, who give and give and give, who sacrifice and work to advance the kingdom at risk of peril, loneliness, and discouragement; THANK YOU!  You are an inspiration to me, and a constant encouragement to push harder, reach farther, and to never give up.  May God bless you with His presence and with the opportunity to see the fruit from the seeds you sow.  And know that you are in my thoughts and prayers daily.

And to all of us in open countries who feel like we've got it tough...maybe we do.  But it's nothing compared to what our friends overseas deal with daily.  So lift your eyes up and get to the task.  Let us run with endurance, knowing that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  Strive for the prize.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Asian Experience - The In-Between Day

Sorry!  I thought I sent this and just realized that I didn't!  This is the Thursday night and Friday morning update.  The one I just sent that is day 4/5 begins after this one!

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!


The Asia Experience - Days 4 & 5

Friday night here found us at a couple of houses with some University students who want to practice their english skills.  There were 14 students at the house where Lindsey and I were; and there were about the same number where Michael and Rebecca were hanging out.  We ate some American food prepared by an American friend here, and sat around and spoke English with our students.  The theme for our English Corner was "Home Town."  We answered questions about our home towns, and then split up guys and gals for more directed time of sharing about our home.  It was a great time to share that, although my family and friends are in Texas, my home is not on earth.  I got to share the story, share about my family, and share about the reason I travel in this world.  I want to invite them to my real home, and ask them to be in my family.  It was an awesome time that led to some great stuff on Saturday.  After the English corner, I was talking with Lindsey, and she said the girls had some really deep, well thought, and specific questions about our "not-in-this-world" home.  She was very encouraged by the questions, and feels that some definite steps towards the kingdom where taken.  Michael and Rebecca shared similar experiences from their English corner, as well.

After the English corner, I called two of our new Chinese friends and asked them if they would like to accompany me to sight see on Saturday.  They said they would be honored. The other English corner produced two students to travel with us, too.  So, Saturday morning, we all met at the train station at 6:45 and took a 2.5 hour train ride to a city on the coast.  The train ride provided us lots of time to get to know our new friends, and share our stories with them.  We also got to hear their stories.  Our friends have all adopted American names.  They go by Wayne, Owen, Tina, and Nancy.  We went to the place where the Great Wall began.  It's called the Old Dragon's Head, and it begins on the Bohai Sea.  I will have some great pictures to post of our travels.  We also visited some caves that the rebel armies used to hide from the emperor during a revolt from the 1300's.  It was cool to walk on the Great Wall, thru the Great Wall, and under the Great Wall.  

On the train trip back, conversations  turned to important family business.  We found out that Own already knows and loves Dad.  So does Tina.  I believe Wayne met dad yesterday, and will be telling others about dad.  I'm not sure about Nancy.  I know she heard our family story, and knows what our family is.  I am sure that she will have more encounters in the near future that will help figure all of that out for her.  It was an AWESOME day!  Our American friends who live here will stay in touch with our Chinese friends to help them learn from the family book and become more like dad.  I will never forget what Owen and Wayne (they are room-mates who read the book together every day) said as we got ready to leave the train.  "This has been the greatest day of our lives, and we will never forget you or your gift to us.  We hope that you will visit us again so that we can continue to be friends."  And they really meant it.  As we parted ways at the train station, Wayne began to cry.  It was one of those moments where no one wanted to leave, but we all knew it was time.

From there, we went to dinner with Marcus and Kat at the Sizzling Skillet.  It is SOOOOO GOOOOD!  They serve the meal on skillets like fajitas are served on in the states.  It was a very good meal.  I left the restaurant to play ping pong with a friend and dream/envision our next time to visit here.  The others went back to the hotel, and the girls were asleep around 9 p.m.  I got in around 11:30 after having been beat like a drum by american and chinese friends.  

Today, we gathered with other family to celebrate Dad like many of you will do on Sunday morning.  We sang songs and celebrated what Dad is doing here.  I shared a word of encouragement with those who will stay.  They are my heroes.  I shared about boasting in weakness, and not worrying about those moments when they feel inadequate.  Those inadequate moments are times for Dad to make us strong and do the impossible.  It was an emotional moment for us.  The realization of Dad's goodness was overwhelming for some.  For me, the emotional moment was the realization that the windows were open and compliments to Dad about His character and His goodness were pouring from the apartment.  There are so many things that you and I take for granted in our country.  Dad reminded me today of my great freedom, and of my great laziness in doing the work at home.  My friends here sacrifice, wrestle, and struggle DAILY to get the word out.  But I am inconvenienced by having to be kind at home?  Anyway, I'll share more on that in my trip summary that I am working on.

In just a few minutes, Rebecca and I will be meeting with local parents to share parenting methods and customs.  Or methods and customs are shaped by The Book, and we hope to impart wisdom and truth.  And the, we meet back up with the rest of the team to head for Beijing as we begin our 3 day trip home.  Monday will be sight seeing, and Tuesday/Wednesday will be reflection and travel.  It seems like we just got here and it is time to go.  LOL.  One of the American children here told us we should come back when we could stay for 7 months or even 7 years!  And each one of should really consider that.

Thank you for all you have done to make this trip possible.  I will be sharing in the next/final update about the results of the trip.  You will be amazed at what father has done here.  And your prayers help in that.  Keep on keeping on, and remember the struggle of family here as you walk your journey.

See you soon,
Jason Bishop - weary traveler

Friday, September 05, 2008

Asia - Day 3

Last night we had board game night with 40 local university students, and we had a BLAST!  When the evening concluded, they all hung out and continued to visit with us.  No one wanted to go home.  Several of the students exchanged phone numbers with us, and made plans to spend some time with us today.  From there, we went to Aaron Burger, where the team had pizza and burgers!  WOOT!  It was a GREAT evening, but a late one

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

Zi Jian.
Jason Bishop

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Asia - Day 2

Ni Hao!  That is the traditional Chinese greeting that is equivalent to our "hello."  It's funny because when people here see Americans, they yell out, "Hello!" to which we respond, "Ni Hao!"  They always look shocked or amused that we can say hello in their language...even though they themselves can say hello in ours!

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!


Asia - Day 1

We are nearing the end of our first day in JZ, and have had an incredible day.  Michael, Lindsey, Rebecca, and I have had a great time learning our way around the city, and sharing some meals with like-minded people.  We are going to the local university in a little bit to spend some time power walking and meeting university students.  I will be posting some pictures on my blog as soon as I have a reliable internet connection.  My blog is www.thebishopsjiggymusings.blogspot.com. You should be able to check there in the next day or two for some pictures.  I'm attaching a picture to this message for you to see some of what we've seen today.  My friend, Austin, will be helping me upload some video footage to YouTube in the next few days, too.
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.")
aka Jason

Monday, September 01, 2008


We landed Monday, and headed to the city we are staying in last night (we are 13 hours ahead of those of you in Texas!).  Today we spent time at a local park talking to Dad about the people and how to bring the family business to this city.  We are expecting for answers to these requests, and would ask that you join me in talking to Dad about this opportunity.  I'll post pictures and some directions for video viewing when I get a chance.  Love all of you!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Brick

So, it turns out that at some point you go from breaking wood at Tae Kwon Do belt tests to breaking concrete bricks like this one I had to break for my last test.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Team USA (Lopez)

As I predicted, Wu Jingyu brought gold to China for the Featherweight Division.  Our very own Mark and Diana Lopez brought home a silver and bronze for the light weight divisions.  Did you see any of Mark's matches?  That man may have the fastest legs in Taekowndo.  Congratulations to Team USA on 2 medals so far.  We have one fighter left to try for gold.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympic TKD

In case you didn't know, the Olympic Tae Kwon Do is broadcast live over the internet.  You can go to nbcolympics.com and select the sport you want to watch.  Unfortunately, to watch it live you must do what I am doing right now, and be awake at 2:30 a.m.!  It's been good stuff.  The 49kg Chinese fighter Wu Jingyu is a strong contender for Gold.  I've seen more axe kicks to the head from her than all the other matches combined!  

I am watching Charlotte Craig's 3-2 loss to Venezuela.  It was close, and a couple of shots should have gone her way.  Tough match.  We still have the Lopez family to look to.  Maybe they can bring home some hardware!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Some AWESOME Links

Check this out:  Sweet Lyrics 
You can also check out a new project by Mercy Me called "Cover Tune Grab Bag."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Turn Your Phone Off

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

My Friend, Cecil

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 vs. Potential

Two words that you never really think much about: actual and potential. Simply defined:

"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 Loss of a Friend

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 praying for Sheri and Jacob.

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 9:15 a.m. Thursday, headed east on 82nd Street as he approached Milwaukee Avenue. At the same time, Laurie Cromeenes, 33, was traveling west, police said.

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 Milwaukee and the vehicles collided.

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 Covenant Medical Center by ambulance with minor injuries.

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

Boston Stryper...Styper Boston...Bostyper? Strypton?

I just got a text from McMinn that the legendary rock band, Boston, is playing in the D/FW area tonight...And sure enough they are. But the shocker is who their frontman is these days. Have you ever heard of Stryper? How about Michael Sweet, Stryper's founder and former front man? That's right, kids! I got this from Boston's web site:

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

The Anit-marketers

I was speaking with a local business owner last night that I met at a community event a few weeks back. We actually met at this local free concert series in the park down the street. He was there handing out advertisements for his shop while we were handing out water to the thirsty folks. After the concert last night, some of The Journey went out to eat, as we do every week after The Gathering. As we were finishing up, the business owner was there, too, and stopped by our table on his way out to ask what our "angle" is. Now, those weren't his words, but my summary of a 2 minute conversation. He wanted to truly know how we were planning to get those people into our church. He seemed stunned when I said, "We're not planning to get those people into our church." He just kinda stared at me. After the dazed look melted away, he wanted to know why were handing out water. This seems to be a hard concept to grasp in our western, money/resource based mind set. "Why would you spend money on people and not ask for something in return?" seems to be the real question. I assured him that we love the people at the park, and hope that they will come to Christ, but that our real goal was to be kind and show love unconditionally.

[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

Roy on Discipleship

My friend and great thinker, Roy, has some great thoughts on Discipleship. You can read more at his blog. Here's something from his site.

"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?
Are there any items you think should be added to the list?"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We were spotted.

Our local newspaper has a community photo site called "You Were Spotted." They "caught" us handing out free water at a local community event.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Week Without Distractions

We just got back from Youth Camp, and God definately had His way with our group. He saved 7 and led another 5 to be baptized in obedience to His desire for their lives. Out of the 22 kids we took, 12 made public decisions, and the others made life-changing/habit changing decisions. It was a GREAT week. To quote a close friend, "I love my life."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Remember when?

Every Memorial Day I think of Reveelation 2:5, where Jesus reminds the church at Ephesus to remember their early zeal for Him. Is that weird? Is it weird that every time I hear someone talk about remembering something meaningful, this verse comes to mind. That's what led to me thinking about this verse last night. I was thinking about a lot of things, remembering, when it popped into my mind. That brought me to the point of thinking about the early days of my faith. WOW! It's been a while. Not too long ago I passed the "swing point" where I've actually been a Jesus follower longer than I wasn't. I've been following Jesus for 21 years. Some of you have known me that whole time, AND you're older than me...just thought I'd remind you of that! I did some CRAZY things as a young believer. Some of them were stupid, and some were inspired (probably more the former than the latter). I would do things like take witnessing tracts and hide them in people's lockers at school, or unroll a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom and put an Answer Tract (remember those?) every 5 or 6 squares as I rerolled the paper. Lance and I would toilet paper people's houses on their birthdays and leave little toy ninjas on their porch. I had a friend named John Newton that nearly got us killed A LOT in South Dallas. My friends, Kyle and Laura, would make sure I got to church every Wednesday night, even though it meant they had to drive 15 miles out of their way and it meant that I had to be the only male Acteen (a teen-girl's mission group) in our church. I remember the youth newsletter that I was the editor for, "The C.H.U.B.S." which stood for "The Colonial Hills Underground Baptist Standard." So many good things came to mind last night as I thought about the early days of my faith. And so many good people who invested in me. Every person that I have gotten to reach for Christ is to their credit, not mine. So many people poured into me to make me who I am today.

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


Okay, so I'm twittering now. I'm not exactly sure what it is or why I am...well, I guess I am because a lot of folks that I follow by blog are twittering. You can connect to me thru http://www.twitter.com/thejiggybishop. I think!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fatal Hit And Run Takes the Life of Lubbock Man

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

Operation Study Break

We had an INCREDIBLE night last night. I am going to save the best part for last. But to catch you up on what we did; here's a summary. It's finals week at Texas Tech, and where we meet for The Gathering is a Tech student study hot spot. The back room where we gather is an overflow room during the week so J&B can accommodate more customers. So, the plan was to use our space to serve rather than run the students out for our 2 hour time slot. We decided to give out vouchers for free coffee and put out free pastries. We brought in our friend, Katie, who is a massage therapist, to do free 5 minute chair massages for those who needed it (and who doesn't need a free massage?). My friend, Matt, brought his guitar to provide soft acoustic atmosphere music, and we set up a prayer room upstairs for those who might want/need prayer.

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!
My friend, Matt, came and provided live "atmosphere" music, which was very well done. The music side generated a new friend who calls himself T-Rex. He's a late 50's/early 60's manic musician! He plans on joining us in the back room for The Gathering this Sunday.

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

Confession, Forgiveness, and Freedom

it's been a week of lots of conversations with lots of hurting people. I am actually sitting here stewing over a pile of written confessions done by a group of teenagers this week. It has put me somewhat into a funk. But I know that God is in the process of freeing them from these things, so there is a bright side. Why do we carry hurt? Why don't we share it with others? My sense of it would be pride/ego. Maybe possible humiliation. But the truth is I can't quite figure it out. We all go thru very similar things. We all stumble and fall in similar ways. Why can't we figure out what James is talking about in chapter 5 of his letter when he says, "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; and the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (5:15-16) James deals with our own shortcomings as a sickness that needs healing; telling us that we will find the healing in confession and prayer. And yet, we continue to struggle and stumble, seemingly alone.

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.

All Talk and No Posts

Tons of conversations this week have kept me from being able to post or read much. I'm hoping to remedy that tonight...

Friday, April 25, 2008

As if reading my blog

It was an amazing thing yesterday. I posted that I didn't have a remote here in my room, and within minutes the maintenance guy was knocking at my door with a remote for me. It was very uncanny. It was as if they were reading my blog and realized that I needed a remote!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Remote

I'm in a Hotel in North Arlington, and I just kicked back on my couch to catch up on local sports and news (D/FW is home for me), when I realized there is NO REMOTE for the TV! Now, when the commercial's volume is turned up, I have to get up and walk over there...not to mention changing channels! How ever can I relax having to stand up every 30 seconds? And surfing...don't get me started on trying to find a good channel...UGH!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Make it so.

This week has been HECTIC! I actually had to turn my phone off yesterday at 5 p.m. because I hadn't had a break from people in a while. SOOOO, if you called or texted me yesterday, sorry! Sometimes I just need a break. Ever feel that way? So today, after our LIFE Group (which met at 10 for our study on the early church), I am going to practice Sabbath. I heard one pastor call the day of rest "cocooning." It's not a day to cease from work, but rather a day to focus. By God's own example, He doesn't cease from work on the Sabbath day. If God quit working, we would cease to exist! The Sabbath is a day to make sure your heart beats with God's heart. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that the Sabbath was made for man, and not the other way around. God knows that we have a tendency to allow the things around us to choke out the things He is doing in us. Sabbath is a day of "weeding," so to speak. So, after I'm done with this update, I'm going to jump back into the Scriptures, share the day with my family, and get some much needed recliner time. How's it going for you? Do you have a refuel and recharge day? If you don't, you're headed down a rough road. I'll be praying for you today. I'm praying that you will find that time of Sabbath. "I'm too busy to..." is only a symptom that you are heading for failure. If you are too busy to refocus and recharge with Christ, then you are too busy. As Jean-Luc Picard says often to Ryker, "Make it so."

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Last Guy I Sparred

The Old Man can still bring it. Here's a couple pictures of the last guy I sparred.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Who doesn't like crayons and playdough?

It's a simple truth...we all love to doodle, color, and play with playdough! It's an amazing addition to the worship gathering to cover the tables where participants sit with white butcher paper. Leave some crayons there and put out a couple cans of playdough. During the entire gathering, some people will express through their hands what they feel they can't with their mouth! For more creative ideas, check out LOS's blog.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Microsoft Abandons Power Point

I was reading Bill Kinnon's blog and found the following article. Alarming to say the least.

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

Disputable Matters

A re-read of Romans 14 brought this phrase out in my mind: "disputable matters." Paul starts the chapter saying, Accept him whose faith if weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters." I've read through this passage many times, understanding that it's point is the relationship between the mature and immature. As mature believers, we should guard our actions so that we do not put a stumbling block in the path of the immature believer. This is in keeping with Paul's statement that "everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." We are free to do what we want, but must always strive to measure the impact of our actions on others. You all know this (but if you are like me, you wrestle with it greatly). But I've never really thought about the things he goes on to list as "disputable matters."

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

Spring Break has sprung.

It's almost bitter-sweet when you realize at 4:20 on the last day of your ski/snowboarding trip that it's the last run until next year. What I can't figure out is why I don't spend more time doing what I love so much. We only live 4 hours from the slopes. And Jeremiah LOVES to ski almost as much as I love to snowboard. As a matter of fact, his old man's legs slowed them down and kept him from making one more run. Just a few pictures from the trip to Telluride, CO.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Changing Landscape

Loose teeth. Our home is filled with discussion about loose teeth. Both Jeremiah and Cayla have loose teeth, and teeth that are coming out. Jeremiah pulled one of his loose teeth yesterday. The "landscape" of their appearance is changing every day as they grow into adults. I remind them all the time that they are growing up too fast. But growth is inevitable. With every sun rise we are a day older. And for my kids that means a day closer to adulthood. What do we do with them? How do we invest in them? During a time of reflection last night I contemplated how little time we truly have with our children before they are out "on their own," so to speak. It's put me into an existential frame of mind, dwelling on how much time we really have at all, not just with our kids. Am I spending it on what's important? Will I leave a legacy? Will people be better because of my life? Has the kingdom grown thru my work? I think it is a healthy thing to ask these questions from time to time. Refocusing or "centering" is a vital part to maintaining a forward focus. I know it seems counter-intuitive to think that a great way to look forward is to look back. But, as George Santayana, a notable philosopher, once said, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." And surely the nation of Israel is a testament to that truth. Let today be a day of reflection for you; a time of centering.

The Impending Doom of Homeschool

What does this mean for us as Americans? A California Appeals court ruled last week that parents without teaching credentials will no longer be allowed to home school their children. As many of you know, often times what happens in California politics then spreads out from there. Will we see this in Texas? I read about this through Bob Hyatt's Blog, where he links to Denny Burk's Blog.

Friday, March 07, 2008

On the move

The Journey is on the move. This Sunday we begin the next chapter in our story. We're moving to J&B Coffee for our gatherings. I'm excited for several reasons. The greatest reason, though, is that we will be in a neighborhood coffee shop surrounded by Texas Tech student housing! We have an opportunity to become the neighborhood church. And that is the challenge, too. We have to figure out how to engage the neighborhood out where they are, and not just hope they will come to us. I think I am going to begin a dialogue around theology. Hmm, "Caffinated Theology." Anyway, I'm excited!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pasta Pastor

We are having a contest with my teenagers that should prove interesting. Tomorrow they will turn in pasta likenesses of me in an effort to win Newsboys Tickets. I know that there are at least 3 entries so far. I've actually seen one, and it is the bomb. I'll post pictures of the entries here. We have an independent judge coming in to decide which entry looks the most like me! After I post the pictures, you can get in on the voting, as well, so check back Thursday morning for the pics.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Big Trouble Can Come, too.

The "birthday season" has arrived. Saturday before last, we had two to attend. Last Saturday was another. There are more looming on the horizon. But last Saturday was a 2 for 1 party. Two of Jeremiah's classmates were having parties at Chuck E. Cheese. I happen to like Chuck E. Cheese because they don't let the kids leave without a parent, and you can see the whole place from the right seat, so the kids can run wild while I read or write (or sleep for that matter). Our Chuck E. Cheese has a new Hampton Inn next door with a STRONG Wi-Fi signal so I can actually be online while we're there. So, we showed up at Noon for the party and made our way through the ocean of children to the back corner where the parties were taking place. As we made our way back there I saw one of Rick's parents (he's one of the little boys that Jeremiah led to Christ last Thursday). That's when the feeling of trepidation hit. My mind raced as I thought of all the possible responses a parent could have to what had happened with her son at school. And most of the responses I could imagine were mildly negative to highly volatile. Am I about to get a smack down Cheerleader mom style in Chuck E. Cheese? Damage control kicked in as she made eye contact with me and headed my way (insert ominous music here).

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!