Friday, November 30, 2007

I still get nervous...

I'm not afraid to admit it--I still get nervous every time I speak. I've been standing in front of people now for nearly 10 years, if you go back to high school when I frequently spoke at youth rally's, devotionals, church services, and FCA meetings. I've been preaching full-time for nearly 5 years. Yet, whether it is at my home church, youth rally's, other churches, retreats, lectureships, or church camps--I still get a feeling in my stomach. It's not the kind of nervousness that makes my knees shake or my hands sweat. Instead, it is a nervousness that comes from the responsibility that I have been given to stand before hungry people in order to declare a word from the Lord. It is a realization that I have been given responsibility to speak words into dark places, complacent hearts, desperate situations, "ruined" lives, hurting families, and broken spirits. I am called upon every week to speak pastorally and prophetically. Hungry and thirsty people come anticipating a word that will point them to something greater.

This nervousness gives birth to passion and excitement. This is my calling. This is my job. This is what I love to do.

I hope that feeling of responsibility never leaves me. If it does, I need to find another job.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Healthy Politics

Is that an oxymoron? Does "healthy politics" belong in the same category as jumbo shrimp and organized government?

I try to keep my distance from politics, only wanting to stay close enough to know what is going on. Here is my question:

What are the 3 issues that are most important to you going into the 2008 election?

Please be nice. :)

I will post my 3 in the morning.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Follow Me!!!

These two words are inviting, yet terrifying. They are spoken with sincerity, yet they are a cause for great discomfort. These two words are at the essence of Christianity. More than "accepting Jesus" or "believing in Jesus"--these two words implore us to enter into the Christ- life. When Jesus calls people, he invites them by saying, "Follow Me!" In other words, "Watch me. Be me. Live in me. Do what I do. Say what I say."
It is interesting that the disciples show up in nearly every story in Luke's gospel, but Jesus doesn't ask them to do anything until Luke 9. For a few chapters, they are there watching what Jesus does. Then, he calls them to action.

Here is what I want to see happen--I want to see people take Jesus seriously.

There is a guy that I am mentoring/discipl-ing/befriending right now. He is on a journey of becoming a passionate Christ-follower. Here is his problem--he knows Jesus too well. Unlike many people who want Jesus for his blood--(Dallas Willard's image) meaning that they want Jesus because he is a ticket to heaven--my friend sees Jesus as one that changes existence; he calls people to a new life. Transformation, sacrifice, and compassion are at the heart of the Jesus-life. My friend has a better understanding of Jesus than many decade-long-church-goers do.

When we take Jesus fill in the blank _______________.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving without Football

Can it be done? Can you enjoy a Thanksgiving holiday without watching a minute of football?

Okay, so I exceeded 1 minute of football over the past few days. I have easily surpassed 20+hours, but aren't Thanksgiving and Football joined in holy matrimony? Didn't the pilgrims get off of the ships with a pigskin in one hand?

Don't get me wrong--Thanksgiving is about feasting with family, but it sure is good to sit back with the fam and watch men battle it out on the gridiron.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I have mixed emotions today, and here is why--Thanksgiving is a time to be with family, or so we say.
-So, tomorrow, families will gather from miles away and they will share a meal. Some families will experience great joy because relationships have been cultivated. Other families will experience tension and chaos because bitterness has seeped in, abuse (physically, emotionally, and/or verbal) has taken place, or an absent father has tainted relationships. Therefore, I pray for this to be a season of reconciliation, forgiveness, and cultivation.
-Tomorrow, many of us will eat until we can't eat anymore--turkey, ham, brisket, potatoes, stuffing, rolls, etc. However, I also realize that many of my friends here in Houston will be without a meal tomorrow. I went to lunch yesterday with Kevin--mid-30's, has spent a few years in prison, can't find a job, lives with his mom, has 44 tattoos--he won't have a big meal. Many people throughout this nation won't. I can't help but remember them.
-Tomorrow, I will sit with my wife's family. However, I know that many people are experiencing their first Thanksgiving without a dad, mom, brother, sister, child, grandmother, or grandpa. My heart goes out to them. I pray for comfort and an overwhelming sense of God's abiding presence.

I still love Thanksgiving. I love:
-Huskers vs. Colorado
-UT vs. ATM

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Disturbing Passages

What is the most bizarre, or disturbing, passage that you find in Scripture?

Next to the sermon series on Luke that I preached last fall, I've never had more fun preaching than I am right now working through Genesis. This is a fascinating book, but it is filled with some shocking stories.

Yesterday, I preached the 2nd half of Genesis 25. Two words sum this text up--Jerry Springer. -The baby blessing is bizarre--it comes before the birth and states that "two nations are in the womb." Not exactly what a woman wants to hear.
-Jacob (heel-grabber) is holding the heal of Esau (little baby afro)--an image of what their relationship will be like.
-They have competing interests--Esau shops at Lowe's and Home Depot; Jacob likes Bed Bath and Beyond and Hobby Lobby.
-And last but not least, the parents choose favorites.

WOW!!! Simply stated, an overarching theme of Genesis 25-25 (The Jacob narrative) is this--God is faithful even in the midst of evil and deception. God can still do good with evil.

What about you? Shocking stories?

Props to my Cowboys. Looking great!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Letter to ESPN

Dear ESPN,
I write to you today expressing my appreciation, which will be followed by two major concerns. You and I have been close now for over a decade. One of the loneliest eras of my life was living without Sportscenter as a newlywed for 10 months. I would wake up hearing the sound, "Da-da-na...da-da-na!!! That dry spell was broken on my first Valentine's Day as a married man. I came home from work to find the DISH truck in my front yard. My wife surprised me with something more than DISH Network, she supplied me with you--ESPN, ESPNews, and ESPN2. There have been moments that she has regretted that gracious gift, yet we have compromised so that I can only watch one Sportscenter show; I used to watch the re-runs. I feel compelled to quickly state the reasons I continue to pay $45 a month for sports:
1) Highlights and recaps.
2) Around the Horn and PTI. These guys have become my friends.
3) Your commercials are second to none.

Thank you for being you.

However, I also write with 2 major concerns and 2 requests. I cannot take anymore of pAy-Rod! Will you please quit making him the highlight of every evening, every show, and every homepage? His face keeps staring at me every time I click on If his face isn't there, an article is near by. I write on behalf of the majority of the American people--we don't like this guy. His stunt to opt out of his contract during the final game of the World Series was ardently nefarious. It was absolutely appalling. He defies what baseball is about. Baseball is about passion, family, and teamwork. He is about himself, money, Don't get me wrong, he can play the game, but he doesn't deserve the playing time that you are giving him. My friends on Around the Horn and PTI need to find other things to talk about. We all know how the conversations will go by now. Talk about golf, tennis, or even the recreational sport of Nascar for crying out loud, just get rid of the talk about the greediest person in sports. What's worse, a cheating man taking hold of the homerun crown, or a money hungry, selfish, egotistical, out-of-position 3rd baseman? Umm...

Secondly, citizens of the world agree with me that we can't take another trial. As much as we are appalled by how much playing time pAy-Rod, Paris, Spears, and Lohan get, we can't handle another OJ trial. Please send your legal experts to places where true oppression and liberation needs to take place. Give us reports of how Boys and Girls Clubs are giving people in poverty a chance to play sports. Give us reports of how soccer brings joy to media-less neighborhoods. Just please, no more OJ!

Thank you for considering my requests.

A Sports fan for Life,
Josh Ross


Also want to give a shout out to my boy BST. Happy B-Day bro!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Robert Putnam suggests that every 10 minutes of commuting reduces the social life by 10 percent.

What affect does this have on our churches?
What challenges does this present for faith communities?
How will the rise in gas prices ($4 by next summer) continue to drive the statistics?

Is the "missional life" the greatest answer to this dilemma? (Read yesterday's post on missional church)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Living Missionally

When you have a few minutes, check out this video from one of my good friends Josh Graves. I love the way Josh thinks and talks about Jesus, the Kingdom, and sports. This video will give you a peek into what God is doing in the Detroit area.

I think, pray, preach, and seek to live missionally.
Missional church is defined by Roxburgh as “a community of God’s people who live into the imagination that they are, God’s missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all of creation in Jesus Christ.”
Dan Kimball elaborates, “To be missional is more than just to evangelize:
·Being missional means that the church sees itself as being missionaries, rather than having a missions department, and that we see ourselves as missionaries right where we live.
·Being missional means that we see ourselves as representatives of Jesus “sent” into our communities, and that the church aligns everything it does with the mission of God.
·Being missional means we see the church not as a place we go only on Sunday, but as something we are throughout the week.
·Being missional means that we understand we don’t “bring Jesus” to people but that we realize Jesus is active in culture and we join him in what he is doing.
·Being missional means we are very much in the world and engaged in culture but are not conforming to the world.
·Being missional means we serve our communities, and that we build relationships with the people in them, rather than seeing them as evangelistic targets.
·Being missional means being all the more dependent on Jesus and the Spirit through prayer, the Scriptures, and each other in community.

Sparks the imagination, huh?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not the best preacher in the familiy

Well, this weekend solidified the fact that I am not the best preacher in the family. Some of you know what I'm talking about. A few of us men have the degrees, M-DIV's, and experience, but our wives are the theologians and pastors.
Kayci was the keynote speaker at the West Texas Girl's Conference. Over 600 teenage girls came from Abilene, Lubbock, San Angelo, DFW, Odessa, Midland, and even Memphis. For one weekend, I was the preacher's husband. Our roles were reversed as she spoke, and I sat as her biggest fan. She spoke straight to their hearts. There is absolutely no doubt that Kayci is extremely gifted, and she will have plenty of opportunities in the future to use her gifts.
This was her 3rd straight year to keynote this conference. (Do you think I'm a proud husband?)
For those of you that prayed for her, thank you!!!

I always miss not being at my church on Sunday's, but there was no other place that I would have rather been this weekend than right here in Abilene.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jesus Teaches Us to Live

Before our talented youth minister, Steve Sargent, and his wife joined us at SWC, I was teaching the teen class on Wednesday evenings. One night, I asked them, "Who in your life would you die for?"
Sam was the first to raise her hand saying that she would die for anyone.
Cami was quick to say that she would easily die for her sister Sylvia.
Mark Anthony said that he would die for his family--Mark Sr., Sabrina, Tashila, and Dahjila.
Then, I asked Terry, the senior in our youth group, the leader, if he would die for his best friend Markquill. He shrugged his shoulders, grinned, and said, "Josh, friends come and go." (Way to go, Terry :) ).

Often, to measure our love for someone we ask, "Would you die for them?" This is a good question. However, the 2nd question that I asked our teens that night, and the question that should receive just as much playing time as "who would you die for" is, "Do you love someone so much that you would live for them?"

I have seen many parents that would easily take a bullet for their children, but they aren't making decisions to live for them. They are too committed to jobs and hobbies.
Husbands would die for their spouse but they aren't living for them.

Here is what I'm getting at--JESUS TEACHES US HOW TO LIVE! Before Jesus died, Jesus taught us how to live.
My main hang-up with The Apostles' Creed is that it goes straight from "born of the virgin Mary" to "suffered under Pontius Pilate." Umm...this leaves out Matthew 3-25, Mark 1-14, Luke 4-22, and John 1-17.
Before Jesus chose to die, He chose to live.

Luke 4:18-19 tells us what the life of Jesus will consist of. Jesus quotes from Isaiah saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor...TODAY THIS SCRIPTURE HAS BEEN FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING."

This is the thesis for Luke and Acts. This is "how" Jesus will live, and this is the mission that he hands to the apostles and to the church. Jesus teaches us how to live as people full of love, compassion, mercy, and justice. He establishes a new community where all are welcome, and calls us to do the same. He speaks out against sin, but he is quick to embrace and love the sinner--he even eats in their homes. He truly is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Prayer, Kayci, and Pat Robertson

My prayer for God's people today is for discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness.

A Franciscan Prayer:
May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

This weekend, I have the privilege of being the preacher's husband. For the 3rd straight year, Kayci will be keynoting the West Texas Girl's Conference. She has poured countless hours into the 3 talks that she will give. I have heard them, and I will soon steal the material to use on Sunday's in the future. :)
I am asking a favor, (and she is going to kill me for this), will you please take a moment today to email her at Let her know that you are praying for her.

Pat Robertson is endorsing Giuliani. I never saw that one coming.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Why Such a Deep Love for Sports?

It isn’t true that every man loves sports, just like it isn’t true that every woman loves shopping. But I know many people who spend hours a week glued to ESPN, and whose Saturday is spent watching 3 consecutive college football games. (Yes, I’m one of them).

Why is it?

My dad taught me to love sports. Some of my first memories with him were times when we would throw the baseball in the front yard, sit in left field watching the Astros, and read the box scores in the morning newspaper.

For over a decade, sports have been a part of me. My parents stood firm with all 3 of their children that if we wanted a car, we had to have the necessary funds to pay for the car, insurance and gas. In order to have the bling-bling, we had to get something called a job. For me, I didn’t have my own “ride” in high school because I didn’t have time for a job. Monday-Friday I would be in the field house lifting weights, throwing routes, and watching film. Twelve months a year, at least five days a week—this was a huge part of my life.

Today, I still love sports. I love following the Huskers, even when they have an atrocious season. J I always know what is going on in recruiting. I plan my Saturday’s around kickoff. On game day, I shower with a red towel, wear red boxer-briefs (tmi—sorry), wear red shorts and a Husker t-shirt.
My love for the Mavericks runs just as deep. Back in Abilene, I used to get together with one of my best friends to watch the Mavs (I won’t say his name, but he is married to a youth minister named Sarah and works for ACU). However, we had to cut back on our regular routine because we would get so upset after loses that we would lose sleep. It had an effect on our entire demeanor.
I also love the Cowboys, Rangers, Astros, and Tiger Woods.

Why is it? Why do some of us love sports so much that it can influence our mood? If our team wins, we can’t get sleep because we’re too ecstatic. If our team loses, we can’t get sleep because that one fumble, interception, strikeout, or missed free throw won’t get out of our head.

Here’s why I think we love sports:
1) We love competition. There is nothing more thrilling than finding yourself or your favorite player one-on-one with a linebacker, or standing wide open on the three-point line, or facing an ace in the bottom of the last inning with the game on the line.
2) We love rivalries—good vs. evil. Kayci and I went to Boston with two of our best friends, and it is hard to NOT cheer for the Red Sox after that. I like the Red Sox, but my love for the Red Sox stems more out of my hatred for the Yankees than a genuine love for the Sox. I cannot bring myself to cheer for the Rockets even though I live in Houston. I hate the Buffalos of Colorado, the Tigers from Missouri, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Phoenix Suns. They are all from the dark side.
3) Sports can be absolutely thrilling. We love the Super Bowl, Saturday’s and Sunday’s in the fall, March Madness, New Year’s bowl games, baseball in October, Major’s in golf, and NBA playoffs.
4) Most importantly, it is in sporting moments that relationships are cultivated. My dad and I bonded at baseball games and sporting events. My brother and I can talk about sports long into the night. My best friend Troy and I have traveled to San Francisco, Boston, San Antonio, and Dallas to watch games. Even Kayci enjoys going to sporting events with me.

Here is the question that I have found myself asking lately, “How do I bring my love for sports under the authority and Lordship of Jesus?” I will always love sports. I can’t wait to toss the ball with Truitt, but I don’t want my love for sports to have control over my attitude for it can have an effect on the husband, father, and friend that I am.

I don’t know who wrote this prayer, but I like it. It fits for crazy fans like me:

God, let me play well but fairly.

Let competition make me strong but never hostile.

Forbid me to rejoice in the adversity of others.

See me not when I am cheered, but when I bend to help my opponent up.

If I know victory, allow me to be happy;if I am denied, keep me from envy.

Remind me that sports are just games.

Help me to learn something that matters once the game is over.

And if through athletics I set an example, let it be a good one.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Abraham and Isaac (Gen.22)

Without a doubt, this is one of the most scandalous, surprising, disturbing, and shocking passages in all of Scripture. God asks Abraham to straight up murder the son that was born after a 25-year-old promise was finally fulfilled.
This was the passage that I preached on Sunday. I wrestle with Scripture every week--actually, Scripture wrestles with me--but this week this text got the best of me. The difficulty is that we are not allowed to read Scripture as bystanders. We can't peek into Scripture as we peek out of windows. We don't read Scripture as a history book. Instead, we are invited to put it on...get into the into the moment. However, this is one text that I struggled to get in on.
Here's how I preached it. Let me know what you think:
-One way to read this story is to see Abraham as a man that is fully present. In 22:1, 22:7, and 22:11, Abraham responds, "Here I am." This is his response to God, to Isaac, and to the angel of the Lord. Abraham is fully present. He is fully attentive. This is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to God and to our fellow human beings.
-God takes faith very, very seriously.
-An untested faith cannot be strengthened.
-This story doesn't allow Abraham to be the hero. This story is not about the faithfulness of Abraham; this is a story about the faithfulness of God.
-The statement, "God provides," is scandalous. We live in a society that says that bank accounts provide. It says that reason, logic, and greater knowledge provides. However, we are the people of God that hang our hats on the fact that God provides.

This text got the best of me.
Are there pieces of Scripture that have gotten the best of you?

Friday, November 2, 2007

The blog has launched!

Alright, I'm jumping into this blogging thing.
I'm hesitant, because I must be responsible.
I'm excited, because I enjoy putting my experiences into words, phrases, images, and stories.
I'm hesitant, because this whole blog thing has exploded.
I'm excited, because I hope that God uses these words to inspire, compel, invite, and create.
I'm hesitant, because this blog will give people a peek into my life. That can be scary. I'm excited, because those peeks lead to connections.

What you can expect:
-New blogs on a regular basis
-Stories from Southwest Central Church
-Stories about Kayci and Truitt
-Questions and comments about faith
-Ramblings about the Mavs, Huskers, Cowboys, and Tiger Woods

What I expect:
-To create an atmosphere conducive to healthy, spirit-filled conversations