The Weekend Update...

It's been a crazy weekend so far...Saturday morning Jo and I got up early and made the 3 1/2 hour trek from my parents house to Lockhart. We left earlier because some friends invited us to go with them to the Alamo Bowl Saturday night and we had to be back in the LOC in time to leave by lunch. We had a great time last night at the game. Even though I am a Longhorn fan, I enjoyed it and had a blast with the friends we went with...Today, church came a little earlier than usual it seemed like...Maybe it was just because we didn't get back from the bowl game until 1 AM, but I don't know. Our pastor talked about what it means to understand forgiveness and let go of guilt...Good stuff. This evening we have been hanging out with some of our college students and friends. It's been a night full of eating (thank you for 50 pack chicken nuggets!) and hanging out...And the guys have been tearing it up on my 360. We've done everything from Call of Duty 4 to NCAA Football 08...I'm taking a break in the middle of our NCAA tournament, but I gotta go 'cause I'm up next...Here are a few pics from the bowl game...

Outside Before the Game

My Ticket

The View from our seats - In black & white

Me & Johanna during the game

Texas A&M about to score


Christmas Come and Gone...

The past few days have been full of Christmas memories and family time...We drove from Houston on Sunday after church and got to Stephenville late that evening...Jo and I then spent Christmas eve and Christmas with my family - my mom and dad, grandparents, and my brother and sister-in-law. We had Christmas lunch with my mom's family on Christmas eve...She has a really big family so we all just met at Cotton Patch and ate together. Then we spent Christmas eve with my dad's parents...It's been a restful, peaceful, good several days...Today Johanna, myself, and my mom headed to DFW to spend some of our Christmas gift cards...Bought some new books (of course!)...I bought a book by Erwin McManus called Soul Cravings that I am excited about getting into...

Since this past weekend I have had a song stuck in my head (and in my heart)...I really don't think I've ever been fond of the song until lately...I am not a "hymn" guy so this has really been weird to have these lyrics stuck in my head...But I think that the lyrics sum up for me what the Christmas season is all about...Especially the first few lines...I've hummed and sung them over and over the past several days...My prayer is that I will live them out and model them for others over and over for the days to come...Here are the lyrics...The song was written in the 1700s by a guy named Charles Wesley and is titled "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus." I hope it challenges you in the same way it's challenging me...

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.


Christmas Reading...

I packed a few books away in my laptop bag for some Christmas reading as we travel and spend time with our families the next several days...The books vary from some that have been sitting on my shelf haunting me because I bought them a year or so ago and still haven't read them to a book a friend gave me just this past week...I got some good reading time in today and started with a very small book called "Jesus with Dirty Feet" by Don Everts...So far it has been a great book...It's an easy read, only 120+ small pages written in a form called "sense lines." It's form is much like the style of something you might read in Psalms...So it's a short book...But it packs a powerful punch. So far it's been filled with solid insight and some very challenging words for what it means to be a Christ-follower...It would also be a great book to give to someone who is curious or skeptical about Christianity...Here are a couple of my favorite quotes so far...

Most folks think Christianity is an outdated religion. But it turns out it is neither outdated nor a religion.

What we would call "Christianity" was nothing more and nothing less than some simple people responding to Jesus' call by attaching themselves to him. They believed, followed, listened to, questioned, obeyed, talked with, learned from, and ultimately gave thir lvies to this character Jesus.

Most folks think of Jesus as the man who started that Christianity religion. But it turns out he wasn't just a man, and he wasn't interested in religion.

He (Jesus) never asked anyone to become a Christian, never built a steepled building, never drew up a theological treatise, never took an offering, never wore religious garments, never incorporated for tax purposes...He simply called people to follow him. That's it. That, despite it's simplicity, is it.

Now it's off to try and finish this short read before the night's done...Tomorrow we are going to church with Jo's family to watch our nephew, Luke, be baptized and then it's off to Stephenville for more Christmas and family time...Hopefully, I will have a chance to post between now and then, but if not, Merry Christmas! May God grant you the peace and hope this week that He gave to the world so many years ago...And may we all be able to comprehend a little more fully what it means that God came down in the flesh and made His dwelling among us...May we see the love that brought him from heaven into our neighborhood...Merry Christmas!

Go Jesus, It's Your Birthday...

Found this over at ysmarko.com...It's a virgin mobile commercial and all I can say is "Wow..."


Big Things Ahead...

I got to have lunch with a couple great guys today. It was good to share fellowship with some like minded people and to pick their brains about what the church could and should be...Fantastic time...Johanna and I have felt for a while that God is up to big things with us...I'm excited about the future and what that holds...All that today held was a refreshment of that excitement...And I am stoked about some of the possibilities that lie ahead...My biggest goal in life is to live 100% spent for the kingdom...When all is said and done in this life for me, I want my life to have counted. I want heaven to look different because I lived on earth...I want it to be more crowded because of what God used me to do in this place...And as I continue to follow Him and as Jo and I continue to live our lives to the best of His glory, I sense big things on the horizon...And today, God BLEW ME AWAY again with how big He is and how incredible His plan can be...Yep, God's pretty much amazing...And then again, that word doesn't even begin to touch who He is...


Christmas Quotes...

As I spent some time this morning searching for Christmas quotes, I came across a huge variety of perspective and insight...Here are some I thought I'd share...Some funny, some insightful, some painfully honest, but all worth reading and pondering...

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.
- Dave Barry

Christmas is the day that holds all time together. - Alexander Smith

Christmas is the one time of year when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ. - Bart Simpson

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
Hamilton Wright Mabie

From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.
Katharine Whitehorn

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree." - Roy L. Smith

The Christmas season has come to mean the period when the public plays Santa Claus to the merchants. -John Andrew Holmes

Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny (expletive) Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white butt down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of buttholes this side of the nuthouse. - Clark Griswold, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected. -Samuel Johnson

"The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why." - G.K Chesterton



Today may become known as the darkest day in Major League Baseball history. Don't get me wrong...There have been dark days before. There have been days when things could be a lot better...There have been days marred with scandal such as the days of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the White Sox. There have been days marked with greed, such as the strikes. But today quite possibly is the darkest of them all. The Mitchell report came out today and confirmed what almost all of us who are baseball fans already knew, but deep down never wanted to know...Major League Baseball is filled with cheaters. Today we realized, or maybe just couldn't hide from any longer, the fact that the last 10+ years in professional baseball are marked forever in history with an asterick. It's not just Bonds...It's far bigger than Canseco, McGwire, and Palmeiro. It's big and it encompasses all of baseball. Sure they only named around 80 players specifically, but now we all know that this is a widespread problem. They named 80 players, with a tie to EVERY SINGLE MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM. They named General Managers and Trainers and Owners who swept things under the rug simply to keep the cash flow coming...The biggest devastation for me as a Yankee fan is the involvement of Clemens and Pettite, two of my all-time favorites. I cannot believe these guys were implicated...I guess deep down I knew they were recovering from injuries faster than one could realistically do without some help. But I didn't want to believe it...And two of my favorites, two of the truly good guys in the game were caught cheating...And it is so much bigger than those two guys...Today we, the baseball fans in America, lost what little innocence we had left. Steroids has not affected a few players in the game. It has not even began to infiltrate the game. Steroids and the use of illegal performance enhancers have not tainted the game. They have ruined it. Today we found out that steriods are the bedmate of baseball - Not just players, but management and owners and trainers. All so that the money keeps rolling in...And little kids all over America got a message that you do whatever it takes to get the big contract...even cheating. There have been some hard days for professional baseball, but this cloud may very well be the darkest one yet...


Breaking The Code...And Jumping Ship...

I just started reading "Breaking The Missional Code: Your Church Can Become A Missionary in Your Community" by Ed Stetzer and David Putman. I have seen some other stuff that Stetzer has done in reference to church planting and reaching the unchurched and thought this would be a good read. The book is basically about how we as Christ-followers and churches in America need to see ourselves as missionaries and use those principles to reach our communities. We can no longer sit idly by and just open the doors and expect people to come in...Here is a quote or two that stuck out from the first chapter:

"For many, evangelicals have become a voting block rather than a spiritual force."

"Many are convinced if you just "preach the gospel" and perhaps "love people" then your church will reach people. They are wrong and their ideas hurt the mission of the church. Communities across North America are filled with churches led by loving gospel preachers - most of whom, if statistics are true, are not reaching people...Loving people means understanding and communicating with them. Preaching the gospel means to proclaim a gospel about the Word becoming flesh - and proclaiming that the body of Christ needs to become incarnate in every cultural expression."

This first chapter has hit a vein with me and my great disdain for the way that the vast majority of churches just expect people to come to them. We expect to open our doors on Sunday morning and for the unchurched to just magically appear. So many church people and leaders live by a mindset of "well, they know where we're at so they can come to us" whether they would admit it or not. That's why most evangelical churches spend more money on fellowships and flowers than they do on outreach and local missions...Shame on us. Even on those of us who don't agree with that mindset but continue to allow it to be the dominant way of thinking in the church and continue, by our presence and involvement in said churhes, to go along with this incredibly un-biblical way of thinking and living...As for me, I am ready to jump ship! I am tired of seeing churches that are dying and are on life support because they continue to fail to reach people...It's time to take the gospel to the people. After all, that's what Jesus did. He never said "come to me" but rather always went to them...And that is even the message of this time of year. That God stepped out of heaven and put on flesh and lived among us to show us love and truth. The Message Bible says that "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood." It's time for those of us who claim to follow Christ to take action and to model the love and life of our Master...It's time to shut the doors of the church and hang a sign on them that says, "If you're looking for us, we're out sharing the love of Christ in our community in real practical ways. We'll be back when that's done, so it might be a while. I wouldn't wait around. I'd just join us there." Until next time...


The Weekend Update...

I'm watching football highlights from today's games and thought I'd share a short weekend update...Saturday I headed to the Alamodome in San Antonio with some good friends to spend the day watching Texas High School football playoffs...I got to hang out and watch some good football while Johanna stayed back at the house and studied for her finals coming up this week...Today was a full day...We had church this morning, lunch with a couple families and some friends from the church, and then a birthday party this afternoon for the little girl that Jo baby sits...Tonight we went to church and watched our church choir perform their Christmas musical...It was really, really good stuff...After that we headed to Austin to eat with Jaron, Jenna, and Foster and hit up some Starbucks...Overall, a relaxing weekend spent with a variety of great friends...Can't ask for more than that...


Sights and Sounds...

Unless you live somewhere besides planet earth, or specifically, the United States of America, you probably already know it's Christmas time. There are some things about Christmas that I cannot stand: the gross materialism, the greed, the mass consumerism that leads to so much debt, the pain, hurt, and loneliness that so many people feel during the holidays...But there is a lot about Christmas that I LOVE: the fact that it commemorates that Jesus was Immanuel - God With Us - that we serve a God who stepped into our world to show us life and love, the fact that it opens the door for weeks for those of us who are Christ followers to share the story and love of Jesus, the opportunity to give to others, and the time spent with family and friends...

The past couple days have held some Christmas fun...Last night Johanna and I went to Sights and Sounds in San Marcos...It is basically a mini-carnival type Christmas celebration...The banks of the San Marcos River are decorated with lights and Christmas decor, with a small replica of the town of Bethlehem, carnival rides, craft booths, and food vendors galore! We walked the river banks, toured Bethlehem (and Joseph just happened to be a worship leader I met a few weeks ago!), looked for some Christmas gifts among the craft booths, and tasted some good eats...We had sausage on a stick, snow cones, deep fried cookie dough, curly fries, chalupas, and got some kettle korn and cotton candy to take home...Maybe that's why I didn't sleep so well last night...But that's another subject...We had a blast! I love getting to spend time at those kinds of things with my incredible wife...Then this morning, I finished putting up all our Christmas lights...We've got icicle lights around the house, with our flower bed lined with lighted candy canes, and a sprial lighted tree in the middle of our yard...I planned to poast some pics with this, but I still need another extension cord to get it all lit up, so the pics will have to wait...

I hope that in the midst of all the craziness, and the sights and sounds of Christmas, that you have a chance to reflect on Immanuel...My prayer for you is that you might really understand what it means that God stepped out of heaven and moved into our neighborhood...And that those of us who know that love and that truth might take the opportunity of this holiday season to share that love and message of hope with others...



Most of the time, I am pretty interested in politics...I am by no means a politcal expert or fanatic, but I keep up with what's going on for the most part...This presidential race has been intriguing to me because I think that without a clear front-runner and with so many candidates who are not your "typical presidential candidate" that maybe some real issues will get addressed...If I were to vote today, my support would probably swing to Guiliani's campaign...But there is a lot of "politicizing" left to do...With that being said, I got this video in an email today and I really like it...Anytime a candidate really stands for what they believe in, I think you have to respect them, regardless of whether you agree or not...In a day and time of wishy-washy, spineless politics it is refreshing to see someone be open and honest about their beliefs in a political race...Plus, I like what Huckabee has to say...It's funny that the moderator in the debate doesn't really like his response (and wasn't prepared for it, I don't think...), but the crowd seems to approve...Check it out:


The Missing Man...

The following is a clip from an article titled "Missing Man" by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports. The article is about how the Redskins took the field yesterday against the Buffalo Bills after losing one of their teammates in a tragic murder.

So here were Taylor's old teammates trying their best to honor him. They quietly decided the defense would line up on the first play against the Buffalo Bills with just 10 defenders. Doughty would stay on the sidelines; if Taylor couldn't take the field, then no one would.

"It wasn't one less man, it was playing with 10 and Sean," Doughty said. "We had all 11 out there. That is what we designed. I was sitting out the first play because Sean was going to be in there."

They were willing to concede what inevitably happened, the Bills' Fred Jackson running 22 yards against a defensive alignment with a hole in it. Then Doughty jogged onto the field to make the defense complete. The Bills threw to Josh Reed and Doughty flew to him, wrapping him up after just a two-yard gain, playing safety in a manner of which Sean Taylor would have approved.

It was perfect, the perfect football tribute at the end of a horrible week. The ideal on-field compliment to the moment of silence and the video tribute and the No. 21 towels waving in the stands.

As I read that article this morning, and as I deal with loss myself today, I wonder what the implications of this type of mentality are for the church...Our church lost an MVP last night. My friend, Roger Taylor, left this earth and went home. Please pray for his family in this time of hurt and loss. He will be sorely, sorely missed. I use the term friend because that is exactly what Roger was to me. As a minister, you can only develop most relationships to a certain level...Either people put you on a pedastal or they are looking for fault in you to bring you down...Not Roger. Roger just loved me for me, untucked shirt, goatie, and all...When I found out that Roger only had weeks left on this earth I journaled a tribute about how much his friendship affected me that I will post later this week. But today, I just want to say that I lost a friend. One of my biggest encouragers, supporters, and teammates is gone...And as a church, we will definitely be "fielding a team" one man short...You cannot replace a Roger Taylor. A man who, on his death bed, brings in his employees to share his faith with them one last time. A man who made it a priority every Monday night to go share his faith and share about our church with people in the community. A man who would grow a goatie just so that you're not the only one and make you feel more comfortable about it. We will be taking the field one man down, but heaven just added an All-Pro to their squad. Roger, I will miss you my brother...I will miss my friend...