That's Quotable...

Today is my brother Justin's birthday. Twenty-nine years ago today God allowed me to win the brother lottery. If there is one person in life that has my back no matter what the situation, no matter how big the fight(besides my wife) it's my brother. I'm honored to call him my brother and proud to call him my best friend. Justin is a first year coach at Magnolia High School in Magnolia, TX near Houston. He is the head freshman coach and the varsity assistant. He is incredibly passionate about basketball. I've honestly never seen anything like it in my life. And he is a phenomenal coach. You'd never be able to guess he's just starting out. One of the little things he's brought to the Magnolia program is a weekly newsletter that informs parents and fans of the past week's activities, upcoming games, and provides motivation for the players. His team is in the second half of district play and in a battle for a playoff spot. This was his quote for the week in the newsletter he sent out on Thursday:

Those that believe it can’t be done… better get out of the way of those that are about to do it.

I like it. I like it a lot. And that quote alone gives you a good glimpse into my brother's outlook on life. Happy Birthday Bro! I hope those who don't believe get out of your way so they don't get hurt when you run over the top of them.


Rock of Love...

Our new series Rock of Love starts THIS SUNDAY at The Connection Church. It is going to be INCREDIBLE and you DO NOT WANT TO MISS OUT! And even more than that, you don't want your friends to miss out. We'll be talking about dating, marriage, and sex in this revealing series about how to build your relationships on the "Rock of Love." This Sunday Cole will specifically be sharing a clear, easy to understand presentation of the gospel, so be sure and invite that friend or neighbor that you've been wanting to share Jesus with. Take that step. Make that phone call. Knock on that door. Do whatever it takes to get your friends who don't yet know the love of Jesus to TCC this weekend!

Rock of Love Invite Cole Phillips, The Connection Church from The Connection Church on Vimeo.

Everyone Matters...

Last night at our High School Connection Students gathering we finished up a series we've been doing called Everyone Matters. Here's the whole premis: Everyone matters to God, so everyone ought to matter to us. For the past three weeks we've talked all about how we can share God's love with others so that they know they matter to God. And it has been incredible to see our students engage and respond to what we've been learning together.

There's a church word for what we've talked about. It's called evangelism. Over the years, the church has made evangelism into a pretty complicated thing. We've got evangelism classes. We have evangelism campaigns. There are special conferences on evangelism. We buy books and studies on evangelism. We explain evangelism. We teach evangelism. And so many times we make it so complicated, that we never do evangelism. Here is what evangelism is: it is letting people know they matter to God. Evangelism is simply caring about God and those who are far from Him. It's that simple. Everyone matters to God. If we're his disciples, they ought to matter to us.


Attack of the Zombies...or The Hackers...

I saw this article thanks to my friend Randy Moore, who is the Youth Pastor a Milwood Baptist Church in Austin. Apparently hackers hacked into a portable traffic sign on Lamar and 15th in Austin, TX and warned people with this message:
That's not only impressive computer hacking ability, but impressive wit as well. Even the spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation agreed: "It's sort of amusing, but not at all helpful," he commented. However, if there ever is indeed a zombie attack in Austin, TX, it's good to know that our technology is capable and prepared to warn us.


Spit-And-Polish Veneer...

One of my goals this year is to read the entire Bible. I blogged about it earlier in the year here. So last night after our High School student gathering, I was reading in Matthew 23 in The Message and came across this in the first few verses:

"Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer." - Matthew 23:1-3, The Message

That passage hit me like a ton of bricks. I go to great lengths to make sure that I communicate in an effective and relevant matter when I teach God’s word, whether it’s to students or adults. Apparently the Pharisees were pretty competent teachers as well. But when it came to living out what they taught they stunk. They were so off-base that Jesus told people that their teachings of the word were ok, but warned them about following the way they lived. Ouch.

As I teach God’s word and lead others in following Jesus I don’t want that accusation to be made of me. I don’t want others to have an excuse to say that my teaching is all spit-and-polish veneer. I want to live in such a way that my life gives my teaching power, not polish. I want to follow Jesus with such passion that my teaching comes from my heart instead of hides it. When I think about sharing the word of God I want to be able to talk a good line. But I want to live a good life to give that talk power. God, help me to make sure that my beliefs match my behavior, that my convictions match my character, and that the meaning of my talk matches the marching of my walk.


An Inaugural Prayer...

Rick Warren took a lot of heat over his invitation and acceptance to pray at President Obama's inauguration ceremony. He took heat from all sides - atheists, believers, churches, and anti-religious groups. I thought he was a great choice. And I thought he delivered a great prayer. Here's just a portion of the opening part of the prayer:

Almighty God, our Father:
Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone.
It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory.
History is your story.
The Scripture tells us, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

(You can read the entire text of the prayer, along with Pastor Mark Driscoll's comments, by clicking here.)

A lot of people discredit and criticize Rick Warren for a lot of different reasons. In my opinion, he loves God, loves God's church, and loves people too much to see them live without a relationship with a loving God. And in my opinion, his inaugural prayer was top-notch.


A Little Link Love...

Thought I'd throw out a little link love today. Here's a variety of links with random stuff you need to check out:
  • In light of today's historic Presidential Inauguration check out this Inauguration Speech Generator to make up your own speech, mad-lib style. Worth a couple laughs for sure.
  • Have you seen the I Am Second website? If not, you need to go check it out right now. Incredible sight where people share stories of finding purpose and hope in the midst of everyday struggles and failures.
  • Ever wonder what goes through the mind of a crazy-random-awesome-cool 6th grader? If so, check out Mackenzie Phillips' blog. She's the daughter of our lead pastor Cole.
  • This daily blog by Brad Ruggle's is always full of creative goodness. And it may be one of the sickest blog designs...(wait for it)...ever.
  • I mentioned this story via my Twitter several weeks ago, but I don't think I ever shared it on here. This story by Rick Reilly from ESPN will inspire you, challenge you, and probably make you shed a tear or two. Awesome read so click here now and check it out.
  • I've been watching this blog and following Vince as he begins to plant a church on the Las Vegas strip. God has really burdened me to pray for Vince and Verve Church for the past few months and I want to encourage you to do the same.

A little linkage. A lotta' lovage. And I'm out.


Thankful For Dreams...

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.


1978 - A Year In Review...

I celebrated my 31st birthday this past Thursday, January 15th. As I reflected back over my life so far it’s obvious that I am blessed beyond comprehension. God has been so good to me. I’ve had a lifetime of great family and friends that have been absolutely amazing and filled these 31 years with love, happiness, and fantastic memories. As I looked back, I thought it would be cool to take a look at what was going on during the month and year I came into this world. Check it out:

January 1978:
  • I share my birth month and year with folks like Kimberly Locke, Chad Ocho Cinco, and Jeremy Camp.
  • I share my birthday with the anniversary of the Dallas Cowboys Superbowl victory over the Denver Broncos. My mom and I were lucky enough to have my dad at least come see us at the hospital during half-time and stay through the third quarter...Thanks pops!

Entertainment of 1978:

  • Top movies of the year included Superman, Greece, Saturday Night Fever, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws 2, Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke, and Animal House.
  • 1978 was also the year of the inaugural Sundance Film Festival.
  • Popular musicians of the year included the Bee Gees, Paul McCartney & Wings, John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John, The Rollingstones, Eric Clapton, Andy Gibb and The Commodores.
  • The year's top songs included You're The One That I Want, Shadow Dancing, Night Fever, You Light Up My Life, Staying Alive, Kiss You All Over, Lay Down Sally, and Three Times A Lady.
  • Some of television's top shows in 1978 were Chips, Happy Days, Little House on the Prairie, Charlie's Angels, Saturday Night Live, Three's Company, and The Love Boat. By the way, John and Ponch from Chips were some of my childhood heroes!

Sports in 1978:

  • As I previously stated, the Dallas Cowboys won the Superbowl on my actual birthday.
  • My New York Yankees won the world series defeating the LA Dodgers 4-2. Maybe that's why they've always been my favorite.

  • The Washington Bullets were atop the NBA, defeating Seattle in the championship series 4-3.

Money in 1978:

  • The average cost of a new house in 1978 was around $54,000.
  • One pound of bacon would have cost you $1.20.
  • You could get a gallon of gas for 63 cents.
  • A dozen eggs would set you back a whole 48 cents.
  • The average monthly rent for a home was $260.
  • 1978's annual income was around $17,000.
  • The Dow Jones year end close was 805.

Other Random Facts About 1978:

  • Cult leader Jim Jones convinced 400 members of his "church" the People's Temple into committing mass suicide in Guyana.
  • After 30 years, the Volkswagen Beetle stops production after manufacturing 20 million cars.
  • Serial killer David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam," is sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
  • Sony manufactured the first ever walkman.
  • Space Invaders launches the first craze for computer video games.
  • The first ever Cellular Mobile Phone is introduced by the Illinois Bell Company, even though it wouldn't be made available to the general public for another five years.


The Weekend That Was...

Here's a recap of a weekend in the life of the Burleson's. Check it:
  • We kicked off the weekend by spending most of Friday cleaning house. I abosutely hate cleaning...but I love that we got to rearrange the living room so that my old recliner is now included!
  • Friday night we got to hang out with the White's and Johanna made some of her incredible chicken fried rice...Great friends. Great food.
  • Saturday Jo and I slept in and then headed to Austin to look at baby stuff. We think we might have finally found a baby bed...now we just have to pay for it!
  • Sunday was an incredible day at TCC. Cole's message was great and we had a ton of first time guests.
  • Sunday afternoon we got to have lunch and hang out with Daniel, Jenna, and Jmob. I love the people God has placed in our lives that we get to "do life" with.


Lessons from Nickelback

I’ll go ahead and admit it: I’m a huge fan of Nickleback. I love their sound. Besides Texas Country, the music that makes up dirty, Southern rock may be my favorite. Their All The Right Reasons album is one of my favorite albums of all time. It’s full of positive, challenging lyrics and straight up dirty Southern rock. Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple great songs, their newest album Dark Horse is dirty in a whole different way. While the music is still classic Nickelback southern rock, the lyrics are anything but positive and challenging. But the real reason for this blog is not to share the greatness of Nickelback. I just wanted to share their video Savin’ Me as a tool to talk about another subject entirely. So watch this video, then continue below:

The concept of this video is simple: Once you get "saved" you're able to see the urgency at which others need to be saved. After their lives are saved, they are able to see that in reality we’re all eventually going to need to be saved. As Christ-followers - those of us who’ve experienced the forgiveness and love of Jesus - would we act with any more urgency if we could see “countdown clocks” above the heads of our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who are living apart from a life-giving, saving relationship with Jesus? If we could see the countdown of their lives quickly fading away would we share the love and hope of Jesus with any more urgency? Would we be any more passionate about sharing the saving love of a God who saved us? I would certainly hope so. But the truth is this. Deep down, we all know that life in general is on a countdown. Our families, friends, and neighbors are only given so long to live…just like us. And the truth is that our clocks are counting down. But are we acting with urgency to share the love of a saving God? Or are we wasting our lives focused on things that don’t matter beyond and fade away?

When we fail to share the love of Jesus with the people God’s placed in our lives who don’t know Him, then we are LITERALLY saying to them, “Go to Hell.” Maybe it would be easier if we could see the clocks counting down…or maybe we’d still find ways to divert our eyes to things that are less convicting…


The Best Christmas Gift Ever...

I know that Christmas has come and gone. By now even New Year’s is old news. But as I looked over my blog postings for the past couple weeks I noticed something.

Somehow I forgot to share about the most incredible Christmas gift I received this year. It was probably due to the fact that it “happened” while we were visiting my parents and since my mom doesn’t have her high speed, wifi network set up yet, her internet options are a little slow and blogging just didn’t happen while we were there.

Anyway, I realized that I had only shared this in Twitter-land, with those who follow me on Twitter so I thought I should share it here too.

On Christmas day we were sitting around my Papa’s place waiting to eat lunch and Johanna felt our son kicking and moving around. That’s nothing new for her. She’s been able to feel the baby moving for over a month. But not so for me. Every time I’ve tried to feel a kick or a move, he’s stopped. It’s like he’s playing Quiet Water, Still Water anytime my hand gets near Jo’s stomach. But not on Christmas day! I put my hand on her stomach and our son gave the strongest kick he’s ever given. It was AMAZING. Actually, it was way beyond amazing, but I don’t think there is a word for that. Hands down, it was the most incredible Christmas gift ever.