We spent today out on Lake Travis with a bunch of students chilling on a party boat. We rented a double decker boat, drove out in the lake a bit, and tied up in a place called Devil's Cove. It's a great spot on the lake with one side lined by sheer rock cliffs and the other side lined by the same type of cliffs but with multi-million dollar homes built alongside it. What's that have to do with vision? I'm glad you asked.

While my buddy Jmob (check out his blog here) were floating out in the lake, I made this observation: At one time the only thing along this part of the lake were rocky cliffs. But then someone had the vision to place incredible homes along this cove. And that vision transformed rocky, jagged, useless land into some of the most expensive real estate in the Austin area. I know people who would kill for these homes. Seriously.

So what most people saw as useless land, someone saw as one of the most coveted places to live on the lake. And that vision has paid off...big time. It is a great example of how when vision is followed, it always pays off. It may not be monetarily, like someone selling plots to build million dollar homes. But following visions always pays off. The benefits at the end are always directly related to the willingness to seek, cast, and follow the vision from the beginning.

What about you? Got any thoughts on what it means to follow vision. If so, let's here them.



We're talking about obedience tonight at The Attic with our students. We spent yesterday in Austin doing some "on the street" interviews about the topic for a video we're showing tonight. It's a tough topic to talk about. And we've got some other really HARD stuff to talk about tonight so it's going to be a tough night...But back to the topic of obedience.

There's a passage in the Bible (1 Samuel 15:22) that simply says this: "Does the LORD really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn't want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him." Sounds simple enough doesn't it? But sometimes obedience is hard. Sometimes following God is difficult. When I read the Bible I see story after story of God calling people to do crazy, insane, difficult, tough things. And simply asking them to obey.

And when you read the stories through, you see that every time God calls someone to obey and they step up and follow Him, God proves himself faithful. Every time. No exceptions. God is faithful.

I don't know about you, but there are days when obedience is harder than others. There are times when it is more difficult. But when we obey, we allow God to do things that only He can as He works in us and through us. And God is always faithful. That's the one thing that never changes.


Junior High Camp - Video Style...

So you've already read my updates about Camp 7*8, our Junior High Camp that we held at Hi-Line Lake Resort on Lake Buchanan last week. But I thought I'd give you a recap of a different style. Check out this video, by the extremely talented Jonathan Mobley, to get a glimpse of what a week at Camp 7*8 holds.


Helicopter Fishing...

A few days ago a friend asked me about possibly going sky diving in the near future. Not sure I'm all about that. But one thing that I absolutely love to do is fish. In fact, it may be my favorite hobby. While this is not quite as high as jumping out of a plane, this may be the extreme sport that I'd really like to try. Check out this video!

Helicopter Fishing - Coolest Sport Ever - Watch more free videos

Parental Influence...

I make it my job to stay up on all things youth culture and all things statistically related to students because, well, it is my job after all. So when I read this on Tim Steven's blog about the influence parents vs. peers have on teenagers I was intrigued. If you are a parent of a pre-teen or teen you need to click here and read this right now. Tim, a pastor at Granger Community Church, talks about how, as children grow in age, the main influence in their lives crosses from parents to peers. You can even see the graph below which he includes in his blog. But one thing I really like about Tim's approach is that he also gives some great advice for parents on how to continue to be a positive influence on their students' lives. If you're a parent or you work with teenagers, take a few minutes to check it out


The Last Lecture...

Randy Pausch, the former Carnegie Mellon University professor who became instantly famous for his Last Lecture speech, passed away today after his battle with cancer. Pausch delivered his Last Lecture to students at the university in September of 2007 and quickly became an international sensation, appearing on Oprah and other TV shows. His speech was turned into a book that has been at the top of the best-seller list since it was released in April. You can read the Yahoo news obituary here. You can also check out his appearance on Oprah below:

Home Again...

We just got back yesterday from a week at Junior High Camp. I am exhausted and spent, but like so much of this summer, it is a good, fulfilling, satisfying exhaustion. It's a kingdom exhaustion. And that's a good thing. We had an incredible week. We played some crazy games, rode jet skis, tubed out on the lake, fished and swam, and had a great time hanging out together. But even better than all that fun was that God showed up. God did what only he can do and he drew so many of our teenagers closer to himself. They've made commitments. They've taken stands. And now they have the opportunity to show others what they learned at camp, not by the stories they share, but by how they live. I think God worked in some students' lives in such a way that the kingdom is going to be forever different. And when that happens, it's a week well spent.


Link Love...

We're at youth camp this week with our Junior High students. We're at a campground that is "out in the sticks" so the internet access and cell phone service is a bit limited. In light of that, I've set a couple blogs to post this week and I thought I'd start out with some link love. Here's some stuff off the web that I thought worthy of passing on. Check it out.

  • Check out the blog Stuff Christians Like. Absolutely hilarious! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs to read.
  • I have the ABSOLUTE BEST student worship leader on the planet. He is insanely talented and does a great job serving in our ministry. Now he's started blogging. Watch out world, Michael Pittman is coming! Check out his blog here.
  • Ben Arment had a post about "slow motion decision making" that really resonated with me. Check it out here. I think there is something to this.
  • Perry Noble, pastor of Newspring Church in Anderson, SC, shared this post about leadership environments that he wanted to be in. It's really good stuff and it challenged me to evaluate my relationships with those who've been where I've been, who are where I'm at, and who are where I want to be.
  • Cole Phillips, pastor of The Connection Church in Kyle, TX, shared the following video. I grew up enthralled by The Wonder Years and this Joe Cocker tune was the theme song. I know it by heart. And this is also one of my dad's favorite songs of all time. I can remember growing up hearing him sing (yell) it from the other side of the house. But this video takes a "different" approach to the song...Hope you enjoy.


Camp 7*8

Today we leave for our Junior High youth camp, Camp 7*8. We're loading up our 6th, 7th, & 8th graders and heading to Hi-Line Lake Resort in Tow, TX. Hi-Line is a little piece of heaven on earth tucked away in the hill country on Lake Buchanan. The couple that owns the camp are incredible people who love Jesus and love to invest in people. While I absolutely love the campgrounds, the owners are the real reason that I get excited about doing events at Hi-Line. We're looking forward to an incredible week of camp with some great students. The theme of the week is "Plunge Deeper" and our prayer is that God draws students to take the next step to a deeper walk with Him. Pray for all of us. And who knows? I might even get a little fishing in while we're there!


Got My Picture In The Paper...

Just over a week ago our student ministry was busy serving our community and sharing God's love in practical ways with the people of Lockhart. You can read about it by clicking here, here, and here. You can also check out a video highlight of the week by clicking here.

This past Thursday the Lockhart Post Register printed a story in the newspaper about what our students were doing to serve others and to share God's love. They interviewed me and some of our students and put together a pretty cool little article, including some color pics of our group working. In Lockhart, getting color pics in the paper is a big deal!

Anyway, if you want to check it out you can do so by simply clicking here. Enjoy!


GREAT Quote...

I just read this quote from Seth Godin, author and speaker, over on Tony Morgan's blog and had to share it. GREAT food for thought!

"If you are willing to satisfy people with good enough, you can make just about everybody happy. If you delight people and create change that lasts, you’re going to offend those that hate change in all its forms. Your choice."


Today Should Be A National Holiday...

The title says it all. Today should be a national holiday. Each year, on a Tuesday in mid-July one of the greatest gifts technology has ever given us is renewed in the form of the newest edition. That's right. I am talking about NCAA Football by EA Sports. It is, hands-down, without-a-doubt, no-question-about-it, the one reason I own an Xbox 360. I like some other games. I'll spend time playing other games from time to time. But nothing in the gaming world compares to my love for NCAA Football. Last night at midnight Jaron picked up a copy at Wal-Mart and we were well into our first game of NCAA 09 by 1:00 AM. This afternoon we are having some "youth staff bonding time" and hooking it up to the projector for some "big-time" fun. I think I may write a letter to the president this week seeing if we can work on swithing this one out with one of those minor national holidays so that people can show their proper respects. Everyone could stay at home to play and all the businesses could be closed - except for the ones that sell the game. Let the sleepless nights, wasted hours, and addiction begin.


Happy Birthday Babe!...

Today (Monday, July 14th) my incredible wife celebrates her 25th year on planet earth. We have spent the last several days celebrating her birthday. We started a tradition in our first year of marriage where instead of just a "birthday" she had a birthday week. It's a long story, but I was away on a mission trip so I left her a gift each day of the week. It's a tradition that stuck and I love doing it because it brings a smile to Johanna's face.

For the past few days leading up to today I've given Jo small gifts for her birthday. Today I suprised her with an Ipod Nano, some flowers and balloons, and we spent the evening in Austin and had dinner at Chuy's. It was a great day spent with the most amazing woman on the planet.

I absolutely love to celebrate Johanna's birthday. It's not only a celebration for her, but for me as well. It's a celebration of the day that God brought into the world my partner for life, my best friend, and my wife. It marks the day of God's incredible gift to me. If that's not reason to celebrate I don't know what is. Happy Birthday Babe! I love you!


The Weekend Update...

We had a great weekend. It's been both productive and relaxing. You just can't beat that. Here are some highlights:
  • Jo and I spent Friday having "the hottest, coolest time in Texas" at Schlitterbahn water park. We enjoyed getting to hang out with the family and it was cool to get to spend some time with my nieces and nephews. That said, we missed you Jerry, Ingrid, Lilliana, and Diego!
  • I spent Saturday morning in a meeting. Gotta' love meetings like this one! I'm pumped about what's in store for the future! But you'll have to wait to find out...
  • I took the longest nap I have taken in a long, long time Saturday afternoon/evening. Not sure why I've been so exhausted the past few days...Maybe summer youth ministry has something to do with it...
  • Had church this morning. The new drummer rocked it. We also sang the new Tomlin song "Jesus Messiah." It's good.
  • Jo & I had lunch and hung out all afternoon with a couple of my interns. We watched some TV, played some NCAA Football on the 360, and went for a swim. Now we're just all chillin' at the house.
  • That about wraps up the weekend. Hope yours was as relaxing and as good as ours.

Mission LTX - Video Style...

Here's a video recap of all our students did to share God's love with our community last week at Mission LTX. As always, Jmob did an oustanding job with the video. Check it out. I think you'll like it...


Bring Ya' To Your Feet...

Yahoo recently featured this article (click here) ranking, in their opinion, the top 10 bands that will move you and bring you to your feet. While I'm all about U2, dig some of The Killers' stuff, and have always considered Oasis one of my all-time favorite bands, a lot of this list just didn't resonate with me.

I think they focused too much on one genre of music and even in that missed out on some great bands. When I think of music and performers that bring me to my feet, there are more misses than hits on Yahoo's list.

But what about YOU, my faithful readers (ok...my mom)? What bands bring you to your feet? Comment away...


Mission LTX Update

This has been a tiring, hot, exhausting, work-filled, sleepless, INCREDIBLE week. Our students have dominated this week. They have taken seriously what it means to BE the church and have swarmed our community with the love of God.

We've painted houses, helped demo houses, landscaped, lead Backyard Bible Clubs at apartment complexes, and still have more to do. Through our words, our action, our work ethic, and our sweat we have said over and over to our community "God loves you and we do to!" That has been the message we have hoped and prayed would be communicated this week. And I think it is being heard.

On Wednesday morning I had a great conversation with one of the apartment managers where we are doing one of our Backyard Bible Clubs (We call them Rainbow Express - Thanks Mission Arlington!). She was new to this complex and at first was a little hesitant about the whole deal. But since we arrived on Monday she has really been blown away by what is going on. She shared with me that on Tuesday morning the owner's rep was there inspecting the property and watched our Rainbow Express team work with the children at the complex for a while. She was so impressed she contacted the owners and they asked us to go to another complex in town that they own and do the same thing next week! Of course we are all over that, so we'll be doing another Rainbow Express next week at a new location. The manager also told me that they have been so impressed with how our students have served that they are open to other ministries we might want to do at these complexes as well.

Wow. God is good. He knows exactly what he is doing. Last week we weren't even sure if we would be allowed at this apartment when Monday morning rolled around they were so hesitant of what we were doing. Now they want us here every week. God is moving. And it is amazing to just get out of the way and enjoy the ride.


Video Stuff...

I have the blessing of having some incredibly gifted people on my team. One of those people is Jonathan Mobley (or Jmob to our crew). He is one of our student ministry interns and he specializes in everything technology. Seriously, if it is media or technology related I don't even attempt to answer it or try it. I just sick Jmob on it. Basically, we give him worse than terrible equipment, no money, and hardly any time and he makes the magic happen - whether it's design, video, running sound...he makes it happen. Check out his blog on the right of this page and check out these videos he's done for us this summer. The first is a brief highlight video of our Mission Arlington mission trip from a couple of weeks ago. The second is an intro video we play for our summer series ("You Make The Call") at our midweek student gathering. Check 'em out.


That's Why We Do This...

Today at Mission LTX we got to see God do what only God does - take dead things and make them alive. And I just had to share the story. So here it is:

One of our work projects this week is helping a family whose home has burned. The shell of the house is pretty stable and the family is wanting to rebuild around the walls, floor, etc that are left. But to do that there is literally TONS of demolition that needs to be done. So far this week we've torn out all the sheetrock in the walls and ceiling and scraped up burned carpet and tiles from the floors. It has been messy and hard and hot but our students have busted their tails in order to serve this family and be a blessing to them.

Our students and our youth ministry have become the talk of the neighborhood. People are amazed that our students would not only give up a week of their summer to work in our community for free, but that they would pay to do it in order to provide their own tools, resources, etc. And then when they see the work ethic of our students, they are really shocked. We demand A LOT out of our students. And that only intensifies when we are on a mission project. We believe that most students will give you exactly what you expect from them, so we expect big things from our youth. And they deliver.

So today one of the men from our church was driving his tractor down the street from the house, bringing it over to help us load some debri into a dumpster. As he drove by a house a man went into the street waving his arms to get his attention. The man lived in a home down the street from where we are working and he started asking Mark (the guy from our church) about why our students would do what they are doing. Basically, this led to Mark telling the guy how our youth want to show the love of God to others and this is one way they do it. That led to a presentation of the gospel. And that led to this man praying to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ right there on the spot.

I am constantly amazed at how God works. I am blown away at what he uses to draw people to himself. But I am SO PUMPED that he lets me be a part of it. And when God leads and you follow, be prepared to see incredible things. Because God is in the business of incredible and amazing. As I type this I am still blown away by this story. But I know one thing: That's why we do this...

It's Who We Are...

This week our students will be serving all over our community in our 3rd annual Mission LTX. Basically, Mission LTX is a week where our students spend their days doing whatever they can to share the love of God in practical, real ways with our community of Lockhart, TX (hence the LTX).

A big group of our student ministry, along with a few youth workers, will be doing tons of stuff to help connect the people in our neighborhoods with the God who loves them. We'll be ministering to children and teens in backyard Bible clubs throughout apartment complexes and neighborhoods. We're helping a family clean up after a fire has wreaked havoc on their home and their lives. We'll be painting some houses, handing out bottled water, cleaning up some yards...basically, we've opened ourselves up to do whatever we can to serve the people of our community and show them the love of God.

In a blog a few days ago Perry Noble talked about the calling of the church to "serve people into the kingdom." That is what we are about this week. And my prayer and challenge to my students and our ministry is not that serving others would be something we do. Rather, it would be who we are.

One of our freshman girls told me Monday afternoon that what we were doing (tearing down burned sheetrock) was way more fun than sitting at home and watching tv. It's a lot more important too. I couldn't agree more.


The Weekend Update...

Johanna and I spent the end of last week and part of the weekend with my family at Stephenville. My grandfather has been having some health problems, so we decided to go down and see if we could do anything to help and to spend some time with him. It was great to get to just hang out with family and be home for a while. Here are some of the highlights of the weekend:
  • Got to spend time with my Papa, my parents, my brother and my sister-in-law. I love it when we can all get together.
  • My brother, dad, and myself all joined some cousins and old high school friends for a round of golf at Par Country Club on the morning of the fourth. The course was PACKED, so we decided to play a little two-man team scramble, which my brother and I dominated of course...mostly thanks to him!
  • Johanna, Justin, Christie, and I spent the evening of the fourth eating Italian food, watching Hancock, and then watching the fireworks from the Stephenville Family Fun Fair with my parents. My Papa's house is literally half a block from the City Park where the firework show is, so we had some PRIME seats!
  • Justin and Christie decided to come to Lockhart with us on Saturday evening. We all went out and ate some tasty seafood at Clear Springs Saturday night and then spent Sunday afternoon shopping at the outlet malls. I hate going to the outlet malls on the weekend, but it was great to get to hang out with my bro, and as a bonus I got some $9 flip flops!

That about sums it up. Like I said, it was great to spend time at home with the fam. This week is gonna' be super busy. We started our annual Mission LTX today. There'll be more about that later, but now I'm gonna' grab some supper after a long day of work...


Some Great Quotes...

In light of sharing some link love in my last post, I thought I'd follow that up with a couple quotes that are stretching me today. Check 'em out:

"The biggest need we have in the world is not lower gas prices…and our greatest tragedy is not that Starbucks is closing 600 stores…the world needs Jesus…and it is OUR JOB as HIS CHURCH to do all that we can to take HIM to the world." - Perry Noble, Pastor, Newspring Church

"Jesus didn't die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous! The will of God is not an insurance plan. It's a daring plan. In fact, the will of God doesn't get easier. God gives us more difficult, daring, and dangerous things to do!" - Mark Batterson, Pastor, National Community Church

"Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell." - C.T. Studd, Missionary to China, India, & Africa, Quoted by Mark Batterson

Link Love...

I read a lot of blogs and spend a lot of time online. I thought I'd share some things that have got me thinking, growing, and laughing lately. So here's some link love:
  • Great post by Perry Noble sharing a story about how we are called to serve others into God's kingdom. Check it out here.
  • Cole Phillips shared a great paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 on his blog this week. It really challenged me in what it really means to love others.
  • My boy Jmob moved his blog over to Wordpress. Check it out here. He's in the process of moving my site over there too but with all the craziness of summer student ministry it might take a little time...
  • My college roomate Michael Norwood is one of the most creative and artistic people on this planet. Seriously. He can do it all. And his photography rocks. Last week he and a few of his photo buds got together for a "man road trip" and set up their own blog including pics they took along the way. Check it out to see some amazing pics. Go to http://www.mammothmen.com/ and prepare to be amazed.
  • My friends at Commonground Community Church went live with their new website. If you're in the Bridge City or Golden Triangle area check this church out! It rocks!
  • Several weeks ago I ran across the blog Stuff Christians Like. This week they compared famous pastors to Comic Superheroes. Let me just say this. Mark Driscoll = Hancock in this one. For a good laugh check out their website and scroll through some of the past entries.

Hope you find these links challenging, insightful, funny, or whatever else they were intended to be...


Meetings Galore...

The theme of this week has been meetings, meetings, meetings. I kicked off the week on Monday with a Student Ministry staff meeting and an evaluation meeting of our Mission Arlington mission trip. Today I met with a lady about an upcoming mission project for next week. Tonight was round two of meetings for today. It went great and I love it when meetings turn into hanging out and just enjoying time with people. Tomorrow morning our Youth Ministry staff is heading to Austin for a meeting with another church to recap and evaluate some ministry stuff from earlier in the summer. Like I said, this week has been all about meetings.

On another note, Johanna and I are leaving at some point tomorrow to go to the Stephenville/Ft. Worth area. We are planning to go see family, but my grandfather is also having some health issues and may have a heart procedure done on Wednesday or Thursday so keep him in your prayers.

Right now I've got a meeting scheduled with my bed and some sleep so I'm out...