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 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

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...