Monday, December 31, 2007

Highlights of 2007

-May 5--My precious son was born. Being there for the birth was one of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life.-San Fran and Yosemite. I love traveling with my wife.

-Got to hang out with Troy and Bonnie twice. They are no longer best friends; they are family.

-Great family vacation to Lake Conroe. My family draws me closer to Jesus every time I am with them.

-Kayci keynoted the West Texas Girls Conference AGAIN--her 3rd time. This time, I was there. (Graves, I'm still trying to get her to allow me to send out that DVD)

-I was honored to speak at some great events--retreats, youth rally's, ACU, an interdenominational conference, Wednesday nights, a gospel meeting, and some Sunday mornings. I was the one that was fed!

-We took a trip to San Antonio with a few of our best friends here in H-Town. Watching Truitt and Reese together was adorable.

-The Zoe Conference was one of the best confereneces I've been to in a while. Great speakers. Awesome worship.

-Luke and Lindsay continue to be two of our greatest friends.

-BST and I grow closer every week. Glad to have you as a friend.

-Josh and Kara Graves are two people that Kayci and I want more time with. We loved hanging with them at Zoe. If we didn't live so far away--H-Town to Detroit!

-Kevin and Sarah have been an amazing gift to us. There is never a dull moment when we're together.

-Sarge and Chel's are great partners in ministry.

-The Cornhuskers...ummm...
-The Mavs...ummm...
-How about them Cowboys!

-I continue to love my work at SWC! Many challenges, but God is present with us in evident ways. Thank you, SWC, for letting me join you on this journey.

-The 30th year anniversary of the Sandifer's at SWC was memorable. They have been a mighty, steadfast rock in this church.

-We buried over a dozen people from SWC this year. We will continue to be a church in mourning, yet we hang our hats on the empty tomb.

-In 2007, I have fallen in love with Nelson Mandela & Desmond Tutu.

-My boy, Will Smith, continues to put out great movies.

-I am grateful for professors that are now my good friends--Jack, Chainsaw Charlie, David Wray, and Randy. My mentor, Cope, continues to inspire me.

This list could go on, but I'll stop there.
Blessings to all!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

West Houston Church of Christ

Tomorrow I am preaching at West Houston Church of Christ. Their preacher, Matt Soper, is on a vacation with his family in NY. Immediately following the 2nd service, I will jump in my car, set the cruise on 75, and make my way back up to Decatur. I miss my wife and son. I don't do well without them.

I am preaching on Luke 4-5. Over the past 3 years, these 2 chapters have shaped me, challenged me, and have compelled me in my faith more than any other piece of Scripture. (More to come on these 3 stories later)

The basic gist of the message is this--if we were to truly embrace the LIFE of Jesus, is it really good news?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pepperdine University

I have the privilege of speaking at the Pepperdine lectures next May. I've always wanted to go to Pepperdine, but it has never worked out. As a student, the lectures were always during finals week. Last year, the conference was held May 1-3; Truitt came on the 5th. I thought it would be best to stay at home with Kayci. :)
My title is, "Jesus--The Great Companion and the Annoying Nuisance." Throughout the past 3 years, I have danced numerous dances with Jesus in the gospel of Luke. Every chapter draws me into a deeper love. At the same time, there are many moments when I don't "like" Jesus. I love him, but I don't like him. He bids me to follow him into places I am not sure I want to go.
The title of the 4 gospels should be--"Enter at Your Own Risk!"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

From Family Life to Bachelor

Life as minister has its challenges. One of the greatest challenges is spending time with family. A commitment that I have made is that Kayci and Truitt will always be my first church. They deserve the best of me. Truitt is my mission field. So much of how he will think about Jesus, faith, and life will come from Kayci and me. I'm grateful to be on this faith journey with a woman that is so committed to following Jesus.
A greater challenge that I face is being in a family that is full of ministers. My dad is entering into his 20th year of preaching. My little bro is a full-time worship minister. It is hard enough for 1 minister to find a weekend to worship with his family. It is rare for 3 ministers to find the same Sunday to take off. Well, this past Sunday evening, we were all at church together: dad, mom, older sis, her husband and kid, little bro, his wife and kid, Kayci and Truitt. It was the first time that we have all been at church together since January 2005.
The last few days have been fantastic.

Now, I am back in Houston as a Bachelor for a few days. Kayci and Truitt are still with my parents. I have to work today and tomorrow, and then I preach at West Houston Church of Christ on Sunday morning. Over the next 3 days I plan to read, write, watch the Godfather (I still haven't seen it), and play a game or two of X-Box. As for food...umm...

Monday, December 24, 2007


He came into a world of pain, fever, disease, betrayal, and sin. He came to change existence. And...he continues to come!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Table

In Churches of Christ, we are more like a brotherhood than a franchise (to steal the image from my partner Steve Sandifer). This wasn't true 30+ years ago. If you were miles away on a vacation, but needed your 6:00pm-service-fix, you could step into a C of C and everything would look just like the home church--2 songs...prayer (which you could almost quote verbatum), the Lord's Table was taken either one of two ways:
1) People were asked to raise their hand if they weren't there to participate at the am service. These were the hunters and "immature" Christians. How sad was the evening if you were the only one? A person would pray and bring the bread. Another would pray and bring the cup. Then, another prayer by the same person that prayed for the bread (because the rhythm of 1-2-1 is better than 1-2-2) who would bless the offering. You felt obligated to at least put in a dollar or two.
2) Or, those that weren't there in the morning were asked to exit the auditorium where they would be led to Room C. Again, the eyes would glaze over the not-so-serious-Christians.

In January, I plan to begin a sermon series on The Lord's Table. I have been heavily influenced by John Mark Hick's book Come to the Table.
It is common for bloggers to ask for feedback, but today I am passionately requesting your stories. Feel free to respond here or email me at Here is what I want to know:
-What would be the ideal way to participate in the Lord's Table? Silence? Conversation? Home? Church? (There is no wrong answer. I am asking for your preference.)
-Is there an experience around the table that has greatly impacted you? Please share.
-If you have studied this formative topic--what books, articles, or sermons would you suggest?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lord's Supper and Sex

Below is a story about a couple that attends Farmers Branch Church. I first heard this story while listening to Charlton Taylor's lecture on baptism at the ACU lectures. (Listen to it! Charlton explodes the idea of how baptism transforms our daily existence.) Last week, Chris Seidman, the Senior Minister at Farmers Branch (The Branch), called me at my office, and later in the conversation I asked if this story was true. He said, "Every bit of it." Below is what he wrote and shared with his faith community.

I know of a couple here at the Branch who faced the greatest challenge to their marriage earlier this year. He was an influential executive working for a corporation who had to travel out of town for a week on business. The corporation sent a new female executive with him.
They wound up working late into the evening alone and as often happens in that kind of context their relationship quickly became personal. They wound up embracing before he got a hold of himself and the situation and quickly retreated. The woman was embarrassed herself and quickly left.
It was a sleepless night for the man who was under great conviction and guilt for what had happened. The next morning he called his wife and confessed, breaking her heart. He then quickly called some of her closest sisters in Christ simply telling them his wife needed them right now. Later his wife called and said, “Finish your work and get home as soon as you can.”
After he flew into DFW, he went to the parking garage to get his car and as he was pulling out of the garage there was his wife and their small children standing at the exit of that parking garage. The kids were holding a sign – “Welcome home daddy.” Needless to say, he was completely broken by that.
They went to a restaurant and had a family meal. Then after coming home and putting the kids down, she said they needed to talk, obviously. When he came into the living room there was wine and bread set out by his wife. She told him how hurt she was and that they had some work to do on their relationship, but that after all that God had forgiven her of, how could she not forgive him. They prayed, wept, took communion together, and then she took him into the marriage bed that night.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Novelene's Confession

Yesterday, I preached on Genesis 45 and reconciliation. In Genesis 45, Joseph gets creation right. He gets us back to Genesis 1-2. The overarching theme of Genesis is this--God created creation to live in relationship with God and with each other. Joseph had every right to respond with an eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth mentality. He had the power. He had the authority. But instead, Joseph wept and reconciled.

There were a few responses to the sermon. A young wife and mother confessed in tears that her relationship with her in-laws is rocky right now. We laid hands on her prayed. Another woman wanted our prayers for her sick nephew. But it was Novelene's request that melted my heart. She said that she has a sister that she hasn't talked to in years. She felt compelled to attempt to call her yesterday to try to make things right. Yesterday was her sister's birthday. She also cried, as she verbally confessed to not loving Narcine (the woman I talked about last week) the way that a Christian should. Many of us held our heads in shame. She was speaking for us all.

God was present. God was active.

Last night, I sat in a room of people that have been walking lives of faith for decades, yet they spoke with great conviction about their journey to find disciplines that draw them nearer to the heart of God.

Needless to say, I went home a blessed man. This is a great church! More than that, God is doing some amazing things in our midst.
Any testimonies/stories of God working yesterday?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Better Story Line?

Which is the better story line:
-Pats 13-0 or the Dolphins 0-13 (and they play next Sunday)
-Bonds indicted or Vick sentenced
-Pat Robertson endorsing Rudy or Oprah endorsing Obama
-Detroit having weather in the single digits or Houston enjoying the 80's (IN DEC.!!!)

A Confessional Prayer

You asked for our hands that you might use them for your purpose,
We gave them for a moment then withdrew them for the work was hard.
You asked for our mouths to speak out against injustice,
We have given you a whisper that we might not be accused.
You asked for our eyes to see the pain of poverty,
We closed them for we did not want to see.
You asked for our ears, that we might hear the cries of the oppressed.
We did not listen for it was too hard.
You asked for our lives that you might work through us.
We gave a small part that we might not get too involved.
Forgive us for the times we have washed our hands of people, walked away when they needed us, offered half measure,
O God, our Father, forgive us.
We believe in one God, author of life, Creator of the universe.
We believe in the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who came into the world to seek the lost and to redeem the whole of creation.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, who renews us and helps us grow in the likeness of Christ.
We believe we are created to be faithful servants who will not waver or be crushed, who, by praying, working, and standing together can bring justice and truth to the whole earth.


Below is a short piece I wrote about a friend of ours at Southwest Central. Her name was Narcene. We received a phone call this morning that Narcene passed away on September 5th in a nearby hotel called Tweeties. She enjoyed staying at Tweeties periodically because it was the only affordable place that had a handicap bathtub that she could fit in. It was probably the only place that she would bathe.
I'm at a loss for words this morning. I'm glad that God sent Narcene our way. Sometimes I wonder if people like Narcene are sent to us for us to help, or to help us. We will miss her.

I was sitting in my office wrestling with Luke 5, brainstorming how I can get "my people" into this story. How can I tell this story in a way that captures the imagination and calls us to follow Christ into the crevices in life where exilic people abound? As I was engaged in the sermon process of wrestling scripture with a pad on the desk and a pen in the hand, a doorbell sounded. Benevolent cases are routine around our place, but this day it was Narcene—a heavy set woman who lives across town in a compressed, one-room motel. Narcene rarely showers. She wears the same sweatpants and sweatshirt until she can’t wear them anymore. She disposes of them only to put on the next pair which will last a few weeks. Needless to say, when you are within a 20 foot radius of Narcene, all 5 senses suffer. Put her in your car, and you’ll smell her for a few days. This particular day, she visited us because she was hungry. I invited her to walk with me—while keeping my distance—to the convenient store to purchase a bottle of water and a few items to eat. In times of giving, I seek to speak redemptively, wanting people to know that giving is in the name of Jesus. As I was blessing her, Luke 5 wouldn’t let me go. This story of Jesus kept nagging me. God-in-flesh touched the leper, and this text was calling me to touch her. I refused, bargaining with God for a possible “dap” or a rubbing of the elbow. Yet, this text compelled me. So, I put my hand on her shoulder and I blessed her in the name of Jesus. A smile came across her face that hadn’t appeared before. It had been weeks since she had been touched. My eyes were opened to see that I was in Luke 5. I could see Jesus, the leper, and the crowd. I could smell the Judean countryside. I was in its space. That day, God used Narcene to host me in this redemptive narrative.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Should Christian Churches be multiracial?

Or does it matter?

Multiracial churches are defined as congregations in which no one racial group is 80% or more of the congregation. So, if you have one African-American family or one Hispanic family--most likely you do not qualify. The authors of the prophetic book United by Faith state that only 7.5% of over 300,000 "religious" congregation in the US are racially mixed. In "Christian" congregations, the percentage drops to 5.5%. Is this disturbing to you? Should we care?

We have all heard the statement, "Christian worship is the most segregated hour in the US!" Okay. But it is time for us to move beyond this statement.

A few observations:
-This is at the heart of the gospel. You cannot read the NT without acknowledging that the good news of Jesus came to break down existing walls between people--Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, male and female. The baptismal waters compel us to enter into relationships with people that do not look like us, live like us, or dress like us.
-The "white" churches were decades behind the integration laws of the 60's. Forgive me for finger pointing, but the "white" congregations should have been pleading for forgiveness while living as people with a mission to embrace the essence of Gal.3:27-28.
-It is "nearly" impossible for homogeneous, "white" churches to transition out of the mold in order to become multiracial. It can happen, but there are MANY obstacles to climb over. Though we should be striving to unite as faith communities, I believe that multiracial churches are going to have to be birthed by church plants. Unification must be in their DNA from birth. This means while churches dream of planting black churches and Hispanic church, they also need to be dreaming of how to be intentional in planting multiracial churches.
-To get minorities into a church building is not the goal of being multiracial. You can get people of all different ethnicity's into the same building, yet still be just as segregated. The goal needs to be to form a new kind of community--one where people of different ethnicity's can sit on the same pew handing the bread and cup to one where different "groups" join with one another for Sunday where people can join one another during the week around tables. When this happens, know this, the Kingdom of God has come.
-"White" churches cannot strive to be multiracial while insisting on doing church the "white" way. To become multiracial is not just about people of different shades of skin, it is about embracing different cultures. It is about embracing different worship styles. It is about learning to pray differently. This calls for great humility!

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Abilene High beat Southlake Carroll 22-21 last Saturday. I don't know if I am more excited that Abilene High won or that Southlake lost.

Through my 4 years of undergraduate studies in Abilene, I couldn't wait to get out of that city. Yet, after 3 years of graduate work, I never wanted to leave. What happened? Well, let me see:

Things I don't miss about Abilene:
-29 degrees with a 29 mph wind
-Loved it when it would rain, but the meteorologists would come on every time basically having to describe what rain is. They interrupted some of my sporting events.
-The flat land.
-City with no Pappasitos/Pappadeaux
-Road construction on the south loop

Things I terribly miss about Abilene:
-The people.
-Highland Church
-The ACU community
-Flag Football
-Los Arcos and Abuelos
-My mentors and good friends (Mike Cope, David Wray, Jack Reese, Randy Harris, Chainsaw Charlie Siburt, and Steve Hare)

Anything you would add?

Sunday, December 2, 2007


The University of Nebraska will experience redemption. The Huskers have hired Bo Pelini. He will redeem the "blackshirts." He will go down as one of the greatest coaches in Husker history. Mark my word.

"Planet Earth" portrays redemption. God is living in relationship with his creation. You can't watch this show without wanting to love, marvel, and immerse ourselves in God's creation.

"Extreme Makeover Home Addition" is a show of redemption. One can argue that it depicts that the way to redeem is to build big, but on the other hand, it is a show that inspires, compels, and moves us to think what we can do for our neighbors.

We experienced redemption this morning in our worship service. We engaged the text where God and Jacob wrestle. Jacob was touched by God and he was never the same again. We have been touched God. We struggle with life, and while struggling, God has met us there, and he has touched us. We provided a redeeming moment for people to express the stories of their lives when they had been touched by God. WOW!!!

Tonight was redeeming. We talked about spiritual disciplines. I challenged people to form a "Rule of Life" over the next 2 weeks. A 90-year-0ld woman came up to me afterwards ecstatic about this exercise.

May God work in redemptive ways in your life this week.
Any stories of redemption out there?