Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Prayer as Truth-Telling

Posted: July 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

Such a great blog on Beautiful Prayer from my friend Joe Chambers

Field Notes On The Jesus Way

“We must lay before him what is in us; not what ought to be in us.” ~ C.S. Lewis

“Into your hand I commit my spirit.” ~ Jesus and David

One of the truths I grip with all my strength is the fact that without suffering in this life we will never know a deep aspect of the character of God—His presence. Jesus promised us that we would feel the comfort of our heavenly Father when we mourn, and he said we would experience the blessing of God because of it.

Comfort from our heavenly Father and on top of that “blessing” or “favor” —when we mourn.

When we tell our story of pain, we gain authority over that story. Our painful experience transforms in the telling. I believe that is why there are more Psalms of Lament in the old Jewish hymnbook than any other genre.

The late Dawson…

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The Jail

Posted: April 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

“There is no desert that God won’t cause to bloom.”

Field Notes On The Jesus Way

I sat down on a cold plastic chair in a narrow beige room; a thick barrier of Plexiglas spanned the table to the ceiling. Tender names of lovers and vulgar epithets were etched on the walls. Loud voices and the bang of heavy metallic doors echoed in this cramped space as I waited for my friend to step through the door on the other side of the plastic barrier.

In the two minutes that passed before he arrived, I replayed the high points of our friendship. I remembered the grace with which he received my story. I flashed on the image of working beside him in a little church on Saturday Work Days. I smiled at the deep laughter we enjoyed telling stories with our families. I remembered the Bible study he led. The prayers he prayed. The acts of service for the community—all of these memories tumbled together in…

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Calling a Mulligan

Posted: October 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I am not looking for any verbal hand-outs. As I write this I know that several of you who love me, as you read this, will start loading up the shopping cart with a healthy dose of encouragement, looking for a way to deliver it to me.

I appreciate that so very much, but it’s not necessary this time.


I don’t play Golf, but when I do, I need a lot of mulligans.

If you don’t know, a mulligan is a do-over.

So, say you step up to the first tee and you set the golf ball down on that little piece of wood that will hold your small white dimpled ball off the grass far enough so your shot will scoop as little turf as possible when sending the ball sailing through the air towards the flag in the distance, but, upon swinging your club, you lean into the swing and end up slicing the edge of the ball and digging twelve inches of dirt and sod up, sending the ball careening off into the nearby duck pond, possibly killing a feathered friend.

At that point, I like to say, “I’m calling a mulligan!”

When one calls for a mulligan, one hopes no one saw the horrible hack one previously took at the ball.  If the game is going to be played, the mulligan is taken and the game is continued, not ended.

This past Sunday’s sermon left me calling a mulligan. It was horrible. No, seriously.  Honestly, it happens, once in a while. I have been trying to figure out what happened. Why had my brain frozen up halfway through the message, followed by a core melt-down?  I think I said something, someone got up, a baby cried, a siren went off, I felt the hole in my sock, I wondered if I said something that offended or was theologically incorrect and as I continued talking with my mouth, my mind went into its own slightly psychotic conversation with itself and a guy named Burt, trying to assess if I was speaking any sense or theological truth and whether or not Dietrich Bonhoeffer would agree or if Joe Chambers would tell me in his sultry voice, “Soul Care.” And the words that came out of my mouth echoed around in the hollow space somewhere inside my head. Was I still speaking and if so, why wasn’t I stopping? Someone, press “Pause.”

For those of you who don’t preach every week, I’ll let you into the inner circle. It’s not really that easy.  I remember my thoughts as a young man in my twenties, sitting in church listening to my pastor and in my ignorant arrogance saying to myself, “I could do that, and probably better.”  And, then I would get a chance to preach, once a year. And every time I would knock it out of the park with a great message that would encourage, exhort and equip people. Afterwards, people would come up telling me how much they were moved and encouraged to live life for God in a new way. I was the man, and preaching was the plan! I was going to change the world one sermon at a time.

Then I grew up. And reality slapped me in the face.

When a person becomes a speaking pastor, he preaches every week, not once a year. I no longer have eleven months to prepare a sermon. I have to be inspired by the Word, lead by the Spirit, write thoughts and ideas in an orderly manner and deliver it to people who want and need God’s words, not mine, all the while remaining theologically sound.  Every time I approach Sunday, James 3:1 swims through my mind like a deep sea viper fish; “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

My pastor friends and I are humans and we have fights with our spouses and parenting problems, we are wrecked with sin issues that plague us like multiple thorns in our flesh, we engage with people of the Church who like or dislike us or are just disgruntled, we have highs and lows and bounce between caffeine shakiness, sugar highs and food-induced comas. We have body and soul identity issues, addictions that haunt us in the night like monsters under the bed and loneliness that tears at our flesh. We often feel an overwhelming amount of guilt over our own sin as we abundantly stack grace on the heads of others. We are burdened by our income, the money we make off the backs of others and question whether or not our time is really that valuable.

The enemy fights hard against those whom God has called to lead his Church, especially those who are standing at the gates of hell trying to get in to rescue one more soul. We know salvation is God’s alone, but he has given that as our burden as well and Satan hates that. A Sunday morning is a conglomeration of a week, a month or year, of a burden, of a sensitive spirit following the Spirit. And frankly, it isn’t always going to go well.

And sometimes we need the grace to be able to call a mulligan.

But…thank God that it is His responsibility to build His Church. If people come and go because of my human-ness, I can’t really keep that from happening. My hope would be, that Epic Life Church would be a church that sees me as a man. Just a man, messed up, but redeemed. Saved by the blood of the Lamb, Justified and being Sanctified, every Sunday. And that we would be the Church together, as we all commit to speaking and sharing the Gospel well.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The Waterproof Bible

Posted: September 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

I have had this Waterproof Bible for several years now. When I saw it for sale, I loved the concept and picked it up to travel with.  I envisioned camping by an alpine lake in the wilderness in the pouring rain, reading my Bible. Or visiting Malaysia on a trip with students to share the Gospel on campuses, standing in the courtyard reading the Scriptures to a young person who is hungrily receiving the Word when an equatorial monsoon starts pouring rain down on us, but I continue to read. Or consider the many opportunities I would have to read the Bible while resting in a hot tub or swimming pool.

I envisioned the uses of a waterproof Bible to be endless and priceless.  

So, I ordered the Waterproof Bible in my support of Mr. Bezos at Amazon and waited in anticipation for it to arrive.  I ordered the camouflaged copy as I envisioned reading the Word while on hunting trip, as I wouldn’t want to scare the deer away with the cover of a typical brown or blue cover.

When it did finally arrive, I tore into the package to inspect my new purchase and there it was in its full camouflaged glory ready to be consumed on a rainy day.


I have come to realize, there aren’t too many applications for a waterproof Bible in my current life journey. Come to find out, if I am outside and there is a hint of rain, I won’t be reading my Bible, I’ll go inside. I don’t own a hot tub and bringing my waterproof Bible to the public pool, didn’t really seem like something I would be doing, especially given my feelings on public hot tubs and their close resemblance to human stew.  Come to find out, when the equatorial monsoons hit Malaysia, everyone goes inside. And to seal the deal, I haven’t got to hunt for 35 years.

I finally journeyed the long road to tested the Bible in the kitchen sink, filled it with water, immersed the Bible to the bottom and read the pages under water, it worked great and dried out in a little over a day.  But, I couldn’t find a reason that was substantial enough, that would lead me to stand at a filled kitchen sink reading my Bible under the water.

In my mind, I see a huge list of reason to have the Waterproof Bible, mostly organized around some kind of adventure that has me stranded on South Pacific Island alone.  But, in reality…I really haven’t used the waterproofness of the waterproof Bible to its full capacity.

But, the concept is terrific, isn’t it?  The Bible we can take everywhere. It isn’t limited to nice weather, clean surroundings, safe places. The pages are durable and waterproof. This can literally go anywhere. I can take this to the highest mountain and lowest valley, to the widest plains and most rugged wilderness, to the brightest city and darkest forest, to the every place the English language is spoken and to the even greater places the languages of the world are uttered.

These pages won’t crinkle up and distort and smear and smudge when water hits them. These pages won’t tear or fall out. The words on these pages can go anywhere.

But this Bible had a predecessor. The original Waterproof Bible was a few men in the first century who considered it their responsibility to take the Word to every corner of the known and unknown world. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they hid the Word in their hearts and put their feet down on the first century dry desert soil and began to beat pathways vaster than the Roman Empire’s expansive roadways, for they wouldn’t just travel along the paved and stone roads, they would cut through the fields and cross rivers, and traverse great desserts and sail lakes and seas.

And their numbers would grow, as they would become more than a few scared disciples who fled out of abject fear when Jesus was seized, finding themselves, all but one, hiding in Jerusalem when Jesus was nailed to the Cross. They would encounter the risen Savior, an encounter that would so change their lives, that the very trajectory of their existence would be forever transformed. Every one of them would be transformed!

Evidence that demands a verdict, unbelievable if only ten followed through. But all of them?

The waterproof Bible they would begin to carry changed the way they viewed people. At once they would claim the Jewish race was above all others, slavery was just because class systems demanded some to be viewed as dirt, women seen as worthless and legal righteousness only attained by keeping oneself stain free in a system of the religious structure.  The change would bring about seeing humanity differently through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, realizing humans are loved and desired by God, not because of what they can offer him but because of what he did for us.

They now understood that The Way they would follow would stand out apart from all other religions past, present, and future. This Way, this Faith, would be about New Life. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  So they stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.  And began evaluating others from a Spiritual point of view.

Now even the least and the outcast had value, because of Jesus!

Now even women gave value and influence and were cherished, because of the reconciling strength of Jesus.

Now every race and creed needed the Word to be spoken to them so they might also hear, for how will they hear if no one speaks? In those days the greatest event in history took place in such a way that it transformed men to become the very first waterproof Bible. And they would go where the Spirit lead them to go for…

              God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; we are his waterproof Bible, God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

And they would find themselves tired, afraid, alone, beaten, bloodied, hungry, shipwrecked, isolated, imprisoned and yes, wet. But the Word was waterproof, it was life-proof, it was fear-proof, lonely-proof, hunger-proof, blood-proof, even death-proof.

They would bring this Bible to the ends of the earth and present the love, grace, and salvation to every person, regardless of color, race, sex, age or creed.  Even those who brutalized and put to death the messengers were not safe from the message they presented.

Now, they have passed the baton in the great relay race of life to you and me.

As God’s partners, they are begging you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.  You, indeed you, sitting here this morning, if you are received the gracious gift of eternal life, you are now his waterproof Bible, his ambassadors.

Every generation is presented with the world at its fingertips and we are asked, “what will you do?” What will you leave behind? What will you change? Where will you bring life?  There are a plethora of organizations and slogans calling us to be involved, but only one worth our time. There are millions of good ideas and worthy occupations but only one worth our lives.

We are Ambassadors. We are the Waterproof Bible.

God has entrusted to bring reconciliation to the world by going into the world, and preaching reconciliation through Jesus.

Paul points out that he no longer viewed humans as he once did, through the lens of selfish humanity, but now views them through the holy spirit. He looked at the world, not as parts of human constructs built up by greed, prosperity, power and abuse, but through the eyes of Jesus, that says all men are being called to Christ’s salvation. That’s why he got in trouble for not denouncing slavery. He wasn’t concerned with slavery, because some form of slavery would always exist…even now…even you…he was more concerned about all men knowing Jesus as lord, slave or free, servant or master, knowing the strength of the Blood of Jesus that sets the captives free, whether they are slaves on earth or not, but would also drive kindness to one another.

Go daily whatever the “weather” and be the waterproof Bible to whomever you come into contact with. This alone will heal the chaos of our world.