Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Son and a Stranger

This morning, Truitt was sitting in Kayci's lap while I was getting ready to leave for work.
(FYI--he is full of life in the morning.)
I said, "Truitt, this is our first Super Bowl together. Who you cheering for?"Having only lived about nine months, his vocabulary is rather small. It consists of "Maa....maa...maa" "Da...da...da..." and "" We are working on "Dirk Nowitzki."
I continued, "If you raise your right hand, you are cheering for the Patriots. If you raise your left hand, you are cheering for the Giants." Without hesitation he raised his right hand. Little did I know that my son loves the Boston area.
I was at a red light on my way to work and there was a man standing outside selling newspapers. He walked up to my window and we began to shoot the breeze. I said, "How you doing?"
Most people follow that with, "Pretty"
His first comment was, "Bush done f---ed this world up!!!"
I felt God saying, "Welcome to this day!"

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Becoming What We Pray

What happens when we become the prayer we pray?
I read a phrase similar to this towards the end of Eugene Peterson's "The Jesus Way." This idea won't let me go.
I am filled with questions:
-Do I pray with an expectation for God to really do something?
-What would happen if God really gave me the courage that I pray for? Would I still want it?
-What in my life needs to change in order for me to be clothed with the character of Jesus?

Quote from Peterson:
Be slow to pray. Praying puts us at risk of getting involved with God's conditions. Praying most often doesn't get us what we want but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests. And when we realize what is going on, it is often too late to go back.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Church Families

Today, I am grateful for a few different churches that have shaped and formed the people that I am closest too. Here are a few:
1) Grace Street C of C in Crockett, TX--my dad's first preaching gig. We lived there 5 years. My sister and I were baptized at this church. I have been back to speak for 8 straight summers, and these people are still like family.
2) Mesquite C of C in Mesquite, TX--I found my calling while at this church. They were my church family through middle school and high school.
3) Highland C of C in Abilene, TX--I served on staff at this church for 2 years. Words can't express the formation that took place in me while at Highland. They will always be family.
4) Avenue B C of C in Ballinger, TX--they put up with me for 2 1/2 years. I loved preaching at this congregation. They will always have a special place in my heart.
5) Greenlawn C of C in Lubbock, TX--this church helped raise my wife from birth-college. My father-in-law still serves there as an elder.
6) Highland Oaks C of C in Dallas, TX--I was on staff at this church for 2 summers. Lot of challenges, but I saw God do some amazing things while I was there.
7) Bammel Road C of C in Houston, TX--my brother serves on staff there as the worship minister. I love them because they won't stop pouring love into my brother and his wife.
8) Decatur C of C in Decatur, TX--I've never witnessed a church pour so much affirmation over a minister and his family than this church does for my dad and mom.
9) The Met in Kellar, TX--my sister and her husband have found a place close to their home where they can experience the power of God and the power of community.
10) Richland Hills C of C in Fort Worth, TX--besides admiring many of the ministers on staff at this church, my bro-in-law and his family are nurtured here every week.
11) Grace Point C of C in Montgomery, Alabama--I don't know them well, but I know that they have been a great source of strength and support for my other bro-in-law and his family. He serves as the Youth Minister there.

I could go on and on...I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know churches through short speaking engagements: West Houston, First Colony, Conroe, Saturn Road, Westover Hills, Lakewood, Kingwood, Southern Hills, Marble Falls, Sweetwater, 10th and Broad in Wichita Falls, and others. I often enter these places to speak, but I usually leave as the one that has been touched.

And, I can't say enough about the Southwest Central Church. I love this place.

What about you?

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Role of Listener

I'm trying to do better at the discipline listening. Most people would say that I am paid to speak. Actually, I'm paid to listen--to Scripture, to people, to our community, to our culture, etc.

In the past 10 months, I've been able to sit and listen to two of my favorite speakers--my wife and my mother.
My mother spoke at ElderLink last year. I was honored to sit in her class for two sessions as she spoke about discipleship, pastoral care, and forgiveness. Her personality, training, and passion for Jesus filled every word. I was a proud son.
My wife has spoken at two conferences for teenage girls in the past 3 months--one in Abilene and one in Houston. Again, I was made to acknowledge that I am not the best preacher in the fam. She stood in front of those girls and led them into the gospel. WOW!

Now, if they would just start writing my sermons for me... :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Preacher's Husband--PART II

This weekend, I am becoming the preacher's husband again. Tonight and tomorrow, Kayci is keynoting another Girl's Conference. This one is for the surrounding Houston area. She is co-speaking with her good friend J-Cook (aka--Jennifer Cooke).
Please remember Kayci as you walk with God today.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Long Walk to Freedom"

April 27, 1994--this date has never meant anything to me. I was in the 8th grade (some of you chuckle), and I was concerned about important things like high jumping, girl friends, and the season finale of the 4th season of the best show that has ever aired on television--The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
I have just completed the most captivating autobiography that I have laid my lands on--Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom." The date of April 27, 1994 will forever be etched into my memory. On that day, in South Africa, the first free election in South Africa's history was held. Mandela and Tutu describe the day as the first time many Blacks truly felt like they were human. Centuries of apartheid came to an end. Whites and Blacks stood in the same line together. They shared sandwiches. They conversed. They stood under the same umbrellas. The Blacks felt equally human. The lenses that had tainted the eyes of the Whites had been stripped off.
Mandela was the driving force behind this push for equality. Nothing could hold him down. Twenty-Seven years in prison couldn't kill his dreams. He was a man with a mission, or should we say, a mission had captured him.

(More to come later)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Today, my precious wife turns 27.

I hate sleeping one night without her.
I hate going 3 hours without hearing her voice.
I hate when we are apart from each other on a Sunday. Without her there, I am missing my greatest source of support; my #1 fan.

I love her smile, her personality, her zeal, her commitment to Jesus, her passion for mommy-hood, her tolerance when it comes to watching my favorite shows and teams, her cuddling ability (this one is designated for me only), and her passion for life.

Today, I honor my best friend and my partner.

Monday, January 21, 2008


This is by far one of my favorite holidays. I continue to feel the call of God to be a voice within our churches that continues to live into MLK's dream--a dream rooted in the Kingdom of God.
Chew on these prophetic words from MLK's "Letter From the Birmingham Jail":

We have waited .for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God- given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six- year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Heroes in the Faith

A few names come to mind: Mike Cope, Randy Harris, Jack Reese, my parents, my bro and sis, my partner and best friend in life--Kayci, Troy Robertson, and Luke. These people have shaped and formed me. They have encouraged and criticized me. They have laughed and cried with me. They have taught me. They have sustained me. They have been the presence of God in my life.

I could think of another list of people that I have never met, but they have been used as instruments of God that have sharpened me in my faith: Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, Philip Yancey, NT Wright, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Tony Campolo.

One more name--David Wray. This man has been a spiritual "giant" in my life. Today, he came to SWC to facilitate some theological conversations on Missional Church with our people. He was absolutely phenomenal. Every thing he said I have heard from his mouth before, but it was so fresh. His passion for shepherding, spiritual formation, and missionality is so evident.
He stayed in my home last night, which gave us a couple of hours to share stories from our lives. I was on holy ground. I wouldn't be the man I am today without D-Wray.

Who would make your list of your heroes of faith?

Friday, January 18, 2008

"Follow Me"

Two of the most important words in all of Scripture.

Eugene Peterson: "When Jesus says 'Follow me,' and we follow, he rescues us from the ways that Herod used to depersonalize people so that he could use them to serve his ambition, reduce them to mere functions."

Dallas Willard: "I do not know of a denomination or local church in existence that has as its goal to teach its people to do everything Jesus said."

NT Wright: "The longer you look at Jesus, the more you will want to serve him in his world. That is, of course, if it's the real Jesus you're looking at. Plenty of people in the church and outside it have made up a 'Jesus' for themselves, and have found that this invented character makes few real demands on them. He makes them feel happy from time to time but doesn't challenge them, doesn't suggest that they get up and do something about the plight of the world. Which is, of course, what the real Jesus had an uncomfortable habit of doing."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Highland Church of Chirst

Three years ago today, on January 16, 2005, I was preparing to preach at the evening service in Ballinger, TX, when I received a phone call from Sarah Campbell. In tears, she began to share that on the way home from Winterfest, a youth rally in Dallas, a vehicle carrying 8 people from Highland had rolled over on I-20. One teenager had died. A few others were seriously injured. It was when she mentioned the name, Chris Cope, that my heart sunk and tears began to flow. The Cope's have always been my Abilene family. Chris had been injured and he was being flown to Fort Worth.
I was unable to make it through the sermon that evening. I drove straight to the Campbell's where I sat with Kevin, Sarah, and their dog Maccie for hours. Very few words were spoken. We just sat in a living room, staring, wondering, questioning, praying, etc.
My partner in life, Kayci, was gone on a trip with her girlfriends. I was terrified to share the news with her. Kayci grew up at the Greenlawn Church of Christ in Lubbock. In 1999, on May 2nd, the Greenlawn youth group was returning from a youth retreat when a bus wreck occurred killing 6 teenage girls.
Kayci became a voice of God through the healing that took place at Highland.
They are still healing. Today I remember the Bourland's, the Cope's, the Childers', the Campbell's, and the other families involved. I remember the Highland family, who I still consider my family.
It has been 3 years, but the pain from that day still stings.

Monday, January 14, 2008

ESPN responds to my letter on Nov.15th

Dear ESPN,
Thank you for responding to my prior letter. We, the sport fans in America, are very appreciative. Now, I wish I could ask that you would not play any more highlights of the humiliating lose yesterday to the Giants, but that is part of sports. Have a great day.
Proud to be an ESPN Junkie,
Josh Ross

(Below is the return letter from ESPN)

Dear Mr. Ross,
We appreciate your loyalty to our network and we look forward to providing you and other fans with up to date sporting news for many years to come.
We took into consideration the concerns that you expressed on November 15th. You were one of the millions of letters/emails that we received in regard to OJ Simpson and Alex Rodriquez.
In regard to OJ, he has formed a habit of being arrested quit regularly. As a network committed to providing up to date news, we must share the information concerning his arrests, but we will do so briefly. We have decided, in conjunction with your letter, to not send our legal experts to follow his case. Also, as an ESPN team, we have made it a company policy that "OJ news" will not receive more than 15 seconds of airing. We hope you will be satisfied with our commitments.

In regard to Alex Rodriquez (pAy-Rod), we didn't know that the American fan base felt the way they do towards him. We thought that we were the only ones that had a distaste for this physically-gifted, yet mentally week, superstar. His arrogance and money-driven tactics have alienated him from the members of our network. His deal with the Yankees came as a shock, but it solidified one thing--since he is returning to the Yankees, this guarantees that the Evil Empire will not be in a World Series for the next decade. If you have noticed, we haven't given him playing time in a while, and we don't plan to anytime soon.

Again, thank you for your commitment to our network. Let us know if you have any other concerns.


Friday, January 11, 2008

What's the Deal with Tithing?

If I were to ask, "What percentage comes to mind when you think of the word tithe?" Your response would be, "10%."
Though 10% is a good idea, it falls far short of the teachings of Jesus. My critique of tithing 10% is that we have legalized it. Allow me to flesh this out:
Nowhere in the NT does Jesus say to give 10%.
However, here is how we often think--"Every paycheck I give 10% to God and the other 90% goes to me (mortgage, rent, loans, bills, entertainment, etc.)
This idea of "10% to God/church and 90% to everything else" doesn't parallel with the good news of Jesus.
I'm not the only one that has thought like the following--if something else comes up worth giving to, we are more prone to restructure our 10% tithe than we are to restructure our 90%. The mortgage/rent has to be paid every month, right? Bills and loans must be paid, right? If these things aren't paid, we suffer penalties and late fees. If our tithe is late, nobody knows. We aren't severely punished.
So, if something pops up worth giving to, we think, "Well, this month, I will give 6% to the church and 4% to this other effort." Instead of thinking, "I'll give up Starbuck's for a month" or "We'll cut back on our DISH Network plan."
I like a lot of things about Dave Ramsey, but here is what I don't like about Dave and other Christian speakers who talk about money management and debt--they spend 98% of their time talking how to work with the 90% that we have in order to make life better. Then, they sum it up by saying, "And...most importantly, give 10%."
Jesus never says, "Give 10%." Here's what Jesus demands from us--"COMPLETE SURRENDER!" Here is the question worth wrestling with--"How can we bring everything we are and everything we have under the Lordship of Jesus?"
This question will force us to rethink our home as a place of hospitality...our television as a place where people can come to watch shows or big games...our front porches...our vehicles...

Someone might say, "Ramsey is right. Focus on getting out of debt and then you will be able to give more money." My response is this, "People don't understand how difficult it is to transport the time and energy given to managing money "over to" surrendering everything to Jesus."

What is the most difficult thing or place in your life to bring under the Lordship of the Risen Lord?
I invite your thoughts.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Canon within a canon

Scripture is referred to as a "canon"--a compiled collection of books, letters, and poetry. The phrase "canon within a canon" basically means this--throughout time individuals and churches have latched on to certain books. For instance--Luther lived in Romans. The Churches of Christ have enjoyed a close knit relationship with Acts. And so on...

Here's the question--what has been your "canon within a canon?" This doesn't mean that you have chosen to neglect dozens of other books. But, what are the books that have formed you in your faith the most? When you experience seasons in the desert, what parts of Scripture revive your soul?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


From the age of 2 months to 7-years-old, we lived in Texas City and Hitchcock (a small community near Texas City). A few times a year, we would get in the car and drive to the Astrodome. These are some of the greatest memories I have with my dad. Our seats--usually the outfield. My wardrobe--always an Astros uniform, baseball pants, and leggings. I was a die hard. One night, the 'Stros were playing the Padres. Before the game the relief pitchers were walking in the outfield and my other 4-5 year-old buddies joined me in yelling their names. I was screaming, "Goose...Goose..." He turned, looked, and with one underhanded swoop, he threw a ball my direction. I was young, inexperienced, and in this moment--I was in a state of shock. The ball was coming straight for my face and I was paralyzed. That is when my dad reached out his hand and grabbed the ball. We never got the ball signed, but I still have it in my garage.
Yesterday, he was voted into the Hall of Fame.
Yesterday, I went home after work. I walked in, kissed Kayci, patted Truitt on the head, and sat down on the couch. Truitt was busy playing with some of his new toys. But as soon as I sat down, he crawled all the way over to me, reached out his hand and grabbed my leg. This was a moment that I have always dreamed about--coming home from work and my child wants to be in my arms. I won't lie--I teared up. I can't wait to take him to his first baseball game this year.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Roger Clemens

What do you make of this situation?
Is he guilty?
Should he be voted into the hall of fame?
Does the steroid era make you want to pull away from MLB?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Date Night with Denzel

There is never a dull moment as a father. Today, Truitt is 8 months and the little dude is already pulling up. His strength makes me proud. He is benching 8 pounds, squatting an easy 15, vertical jump is nearing an inch, and his 5-yard-crawl is well under 10 seconds. He is on track to suit up on the varsity squad in another 15 years. :)
Seriously, I really miss date nights. Truitt is dependent upon his momma right now. God didn't make me with the ability to fulfill some of his nutritional needs.
However, on Thursday night, thanks to Sylvia Tucker, Kayci and I went on a date. We ate Mexican food and then went to see Denzel's newest movie--The Great Debaters. GO AND SEE IT! This movie is magnificent, captivating, redemptive, convicting, is a masterpiece. Denzel rarely lets me down. This movie portrays racism in the 1930's. In the south, it was utterly mind boggling how human beings could treat other humans. It is appalling. The speeches delivered in this movie are worth downloading onto the ipod.
The movie was great, but more than that, it was great being with the love of my life. Kayci inspires me. She makes me want to be a better Christ-Follower. Last night, it was midnight and I was ready to go to bed, but I couldn't turn out the lamp because she wouldn't quit reading her Bible. I felt awful trying to tell her to put her Bible up so that I could turn off the lamp.
I can't wait for the next Date Night.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Driving through Houston, especially the part I minister and live in, it isn't unusual to see people standing on street corners holding cardboard. I've seen the usual:
"Help. Hungry."
"Will work for food"
"Vet. Need Food."
Even, "Need Beer"

Last Saturday as I was driving to see a family from church, I saw a sign that I have never seen before--"HELP! SPIRITUAL PROBLEM!" Instantly, I was intrigued. I had to drive another mile before I could make a u-turn. I was planning to buy an energy drink (I'm trying to stop) before reaching my planned destination, so I decided to run into the convenient store before going back to talk to the man. (Confession time--I shouldn't have hesitated). I ran into the store, bought my Monster drink, and went back to dialogue with--who I was hoping would be--my new friend. When I returned, he was gone. In less than 3 minutes, the guy had vanished. I drove around looking for him, but he was nowhere to be found.
I wish I had a great story to share, but I am only left to wonder and to pray. Maybe this guy was only attempting to use another tactic to get a few bucks to buy some liquor. Maybe not. Maybe he was suffering from extreme depression, loneliness, addiction, or complacency. Maybe he woke up feeling a great need to discover a life worth living for.
I've prayed for this man. I've prayed that God would put someone in his path to minister to him.

That sign will never leave my mind or imagination--"Help! Spiritual Problem!"