Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Faith of Trees.

There's a field by my office where some of the last big trees in "Broken Arrow, OK" live. Tulsa's a big town as far as Oklahoma's concerned, but it's still small enough to not feel like you're actually in a big town. I wonder sometimes, if they know what they're doing? Did you ever see something not only stand , but reach up towards the sky as far as it could...tiptoes and everthing? Just a little more...a little more...

That's kind of a crazy statement when you think about it. (If I could reach the sky?) Can't we? Where does the sky start? If we were bugs looking up at humans, we'd be pretty saticfied to say that they touch the sky...or at least hang out there. If a bird fly's (no matter how close to the ground...) as long as he doesn't touch it, he's in the sky right?!

I suppose our feet touch the ground, but everything else (our hearts, hands, head, etc...) operate already touching a vastness that goes on forever. You know it's funny.... Even when I fall, some part of me is still touching the sky. Maybe that's why God made us the way he did? If the sky was the hand of God and the ground was the foundation of his love...(huh...) with that perspective, faith doesn't seem all that hard anymore.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Clarifying the Madness...

In my last blog, I was asking myself..."Am I?"...under the guise of something being wrong with that picture....

My buddy pointed out to me that we're constantly asking that question. "Steve, why is that a bad thing?" Well, it's not. I don't always say what I mean clearly. (that's obvious) I am famous for the whole... "What's that look like?"...question. If we don't ask, how will we ever grow? This particular "Am I" question ( asked in-The Church in My Mirror) was not one I ask myself in response to's in response to truth. If I am a child of God...(I don't mean how good or bad, or to what degree...) I mean, if I believe it at all. My level of maturity, spiritual or otherwise is debatable. But if I believe that I am saved...if I believe that God is who He says He is...if I believe that I am his son...and that makes me part of the church...and that nothing can remove me from the hand of God....then why do I so often treat Him like it's a pipe dream?

You see...if I Am...then why doesn't the world see me (the church) differently? Why don't I look like I am the child of someone named Jesus? Lots of guys mentioned in the bible had struggles. (Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Israel, Joseph, David, Solomon, Bathsheba, Ruth, Mary, Jerimiah, Mary of Magdellah, Noah, Job, Peter, Paul, Thomas and so many others...) All of these people had issues, flaws, defects, failures, sins, mistakes, mess-ups, doubts, you name it...

No matter what they questioned, they didn't question that He was God and that they were his people. But their lives and the lives of those around them, still changed the world. (Even ours) At times, those people (like us) acted like total contradictions of his love. Yet when they failed, they knew whom they had to go to for restoration. They knew that they needed to be on their faces before Him. No matter their faults, it was their relationship with God and their love because of it, that defined should mine (...shouldn't it?). Maybe it's more than just me...If it's not, let me know and we can just tell 'em to stear clear of the short guy...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Church in My Mirror???

Standing in my bathroom staring in the mirror:
I can hear the saying...the local church is the hope of the world, and I believe that it should be. I believe that I should be. Father, I can't always match what I'm seeing in my mirror to that statement. I believe that you, Jesus are the hope of the world. I believe that the church (including me...) should be family of should be me...the believer and my brothers and sisters. I am part of, what the bible calls, "the body of Christ". I am Your hands and feet, reaching out to a lost and dying world. Or am I? But then, that's really the question isn't it..."Am I?"

Remember your shepherd on the hillside....Moses? When he asked you who should he say sent him to the Hebrews, You said, "Tell them that "I Am" sent you." So if You are the "I Am", and I have to ask "I Am"...."Am I?"...Then some thing's wrong with this picture.

Being your church isn't about being perfect in every way. It's about You, God...perfectly loving me no matter who I am or what I've done. I am your child. (no matter my age) Children fall and get some bruises learning to walk. I should have expected that. Sorry Steve, nursing the scratches won't lead people to Christ. You don't have time to lick your wounds. There are those out there who don't know that they're your children yet. I have to tell them, show them, and love them. Brennen Manning said in his book, The Importance of Being Foolish - "The church must be Christ's love raised up to the poor."

I never been the best at it. But I'm trying...maybe if, tomorrow, I try again...I wonder what tomorrow could look like? So right now, in this moment and all other moments after it....(Galatians 5:6b) "The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love." I have a purpose! I have set out to see (in each knew moment) where this might find me. If I am really being your child...would I ever really need the word "missionary"?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sand Castles

I wanted to continue the idea and thought about storms in our lives. I recently spent a week with the family at the beach. We spent most of our time on the beach building sand castles and riding waves. Steve and I had talked about a series I was writing called storms so this topic was fresh on my mind.
Cody, my 7 year ball of energy wanted to build a sand castle with a large hole in the center. We discussed or building plans and what this structure would look like. Once we decided on the structure then it was time to chose the location. This is the point when Cody and I started butting heads. I had more knowledge and experience in building castles on the beach, but that did not seems to influence Cody at all. I decided to let Cody have this battle.
So the construction began. When Cally or sweet 9 year saw us building she joined in with great joy. As we began to build, the plans grew larger and larger. Cally and Cody talked about how they would build a wall with the sand to hold back the water. We worked on the castle for at least two hours. This castle had tunnels,a wall surrounding it, and a hole that Cody felt good about hiding in. Two hours may not seem long but to a 9 year old and a 7 year old that was an all day job.
As we were building this thing I could not help but see myself in my two children. I know our father is here with us building families, careers, businesses, and so much more. I loved the time I spent with my kids building the castle. For me, it was not about the castle but about the time I spent with them in the process.
There was one huge design flaw. The castle was built in a location that when the tide came in, it would over take the castle. Cody and Cally did there best to try and stop the waves, but that was not enough. I knew this was going to happen from the time we made the first pile of sand. Was I wasting my time to help build something I knew would be destroyed? I would do it again tomorrow if I had the chance to spend with my kids.
You and I both know it is going to storm and the waves are coming in, so what are you going to do when the waves finally make it to your castle. I stood beside them and watched the waves piece by piece take the castle down. Should I have made them build in a better spot? What do your "sand castles" look like?
I want to leave you with A few verses:

24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

During The Hard Rain...

Today I was listening to Casting Crowns (I Will Praise You In the Storm). I immediately began to reflect on the storms in my own life. Some more recent than others.... I know how difficult it is to simply trust that God's got a plan. Every once in a while things happen that don't look like they're anybodies plan! How do I trust God through that? Exactly how far away is God when I can barely hear him calling. During those brief moments when I can hear him..."it's still rainin..."

Where did he go? Why didn't he fix it...whatever it was? .....I don't know. But just like the song says, "you are who you are, no matter where I am.....I will praise you in the storm."

Years back I saw an interesting episode of OZ. (A prison drama on HBO)I've never been able to shake this. In it, a gang member had been lead to Jesus by a priest (the prison chaplain). The inmates girlfriend was about to have a baby. The priest got permission for him to go and see her...hopefully just prior to the birth. She's having the baby...he's on the way...and just before he walks into the hospital room, his son dies. The next scene is a few days later. The priest comes by to see the young man in his cell. The inmate says something like this..."I want to thank you father for showing me a better life and introducing me to God. I just have one question...Where was God when my son died?" The priest didn't miss a beat and said, "The same place he was when his son died."

Sunday, June 28, 2009


One of my best friends in the world is a guy named Mark Stubbs. He and his family have been more to me than I could ever explain here. One of the verses that he taught me (early on) was Proverbs 27:17. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." But what does that mean? It means that you need someone in your life that is a little further along in their relationship with God than you are. (a little more wisdom & maturity) Someone with which you're building a best-friend realtionship. (Can you hear it?...Kusshht!) That someone is going to be there through anything, and you're going to do that for them. (Kusshht!) They aren't meeting with you periodically or just doing some kind of 8 week bible're living life together. (Kusshht!) They know that they're not your personal "Jesus police". What they try to be, is someone who loves because they are loved.(Can you hear it?....Kusshht!) And knows that they're problably closer to where you are than any of us are to being like if we're going, we might as well go together. (Kusshht!)

You both experience a friendship and a bond that cannot be explained. You find yourself learning more about Jesus than could ever be put down in a lesson plan. The bible becomes a handbook for loving both God and your neighbor. You see get it now...because you have the practicle example of your own relationship. You feel more and more aware of who Christ is every day. Everytime you get together you can hear the kusshhhht of iron against iron! ...and when you've forgotten that God was even there...(trust me, it happens...) it's that same sound that echos through your heart...and turns your head around.

That being said, what's it sound like when you & your friends get together?

Friday, June 26, 2009


Greg posted a blog the other day, (floating or swimming) and as always, forces me to engage and not just absorb. Greg asked me to consider my perspective. Perspective got me thinking about something I had to face recently. I was talking with a friend and telling him to be patient with a mutual acquaintence. He stressfully said that up til now he'd been tolorating him. Then he asked me, "What does that mean?" I told him that it was what Jesus does with me. He sees in me more than I see in myself. He sees that I can change, grow, ask forgiveness, and allow him to change my heart. Patience is standing, pecking on my shoulder and waiting for me to realize that my Daddy's right there. It would seem that patience is definitely a love thing. I realized that I was givin some great lip service, but that wasn't what my heart looked like in that same situation. My problem (I believe) was perspective. I wasn't being patient at all. I was tolerating. Websters says those two words are the same...but maybe websters' wrong? Tolerating someone is what I do when I HAVE TO ENDURE....whether it's work, play, or's when I grin and bare it. (but would light you on fire if I had a match....) When people are in the weeds...they act like there in the weeds. Well, what'd I expect? Ducks typically act like ducks. But, that's not a love that waits for them to see it. That's not seeing what a different person he might be if he knew Jesus. That's not giving them a's writing them off. One could say it's the act of my heart and mind seeing them as the enemy instead of a prisoner, and demanding an abortion. When it comes to it patience or toleratience?