Monday, March 31, 2008

The Love of Flying & First Class

I am glad to be back in the land of warmth. Connecticut was a little bit too chilly for me.
The Youth Rally was fantastic. I spoke 4 times, and then I split the pulpit with my buddy Sam Garner yesterday at his church. WOW--Sam is a fantastic preacher.
At the Youth Rally, 2 hours was set aside for mission/service activities. The teens were given 3 choices: 1) sing at the nursing home, 2) visit shut-ins, and 3) take sack lunches to the homeless in Hartford. 75% of the teens chose to feed the homeless. I wonder what adults would have chosen.

A few notes about flying:
1) DO NOT fly through Chicago. I was delayed...and delayed...and delayed. I got to Hartford at 2:30 am on Friday morning.
2) I sat next to a 10-year-old kid on my flight from Houston to Chicago. He ate an entire bag of gummy bears, ate dozens of Pringles, and passed gas the entire flight. As we were getting off the plane, I was holding my Bible (which I had out the entire flight) and the kid said, "What is that?" I said, "It is a Bible." He said, "Oh...I'm Jewish. I have no clue what that book is." I laughed!
3) The man taking my flight information in Hartford yesterday, looked at my driver's license and said, "I heard they are cutting back on the making of cowboy boots down in Texas." He was shocked when I told him I don't own a pair. Can you say--"STEREOTYPE."
Last thing, (confession time), I hate the first class section on a plane. What I despise the most is the method:
-"We will now begin boarding the plane. We will first accept all of those in first class."
-Then, they seat from the back to the front. So, every other person walks past the folks in first class. We see them sitting in their nice, comfortable chairs. They have their nice drinks. Their pillows and blankets are in place. They have their own restroom.
-I'll stop right there!

Every time I walk by "the" section, I can't help but think of Jesus' words, "You always want the best seats..."
But just as I begin to judge, God puts me in my place.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


In a few hours I will be on a plane heading to Hartford, Connecticut. I've never been to Connecticut. I've only been to the northeast once. However, this isn't a trip to scout out the surroundings. Over the next 3 days, I will speak 5 times.
I checked the weather this morning and it is 36 degrees in Connecticut. There must be a mistake. I thought it only gets that cold in Antarctica. Dude, I'm going to freeze to death!

I've been excited about this youth rally for a few months now. My buddy Sam Garner has worked really hard in putting this together and he has been very intentional about the entire weekend. He is a great thinker, and we both share the desire to call these teens to an alternative way of life. We want to point them to the in-breaking of the Kingdom.

Speaking to adults has become the norm for me, so when I speak to teens, I really have to prepare well. I have to try to backup 10-15 years in my own life in order to ask theologian questions.


I'm stoked about lunch tomorrow. I am meeting up with two of my ACU buds--Sam and Colt McCook. They are both ministers in the northeast.


I will return late Sunday. Kayci and Truitt fly in on Tuesday. Note to self (and to all you young ministers out there with a fam)--NEVER PLAN SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS ON BACK-TO-BACK WEEKENDS. NEVER AGREE TO BE AWAY FROM WIFE AND KIDS FOR 11 DAYS!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mere Discipleship

Rather than understanding things like worship, baptism, and prayer as things we "must do" in order to be pleasing to God, we should understand that these are God's gifts to us, and to the world. Rather than seeing these practices as mere religious ritual, we should understand these practices as the very type of good life for which we were created, and at the same time as practices that help sustain us in the good life to which we have been called.

The quote comes from Lee Camp's "Mere Discipleship." It is one of the two books that I began reading last night. The other is "Reasons to Believe: one man's journey among the evangelicals and the faith he left behind" by John Marks.

Yes...I am one of those crazy people that sometimes has 2...3...or maybe 4 books going at the same time.


Kayci is gone, and I can tell because:
1) I have had canned chili as a meal.
2) Last night I had cheese nachos with a can of bean dip.
3) I sleep with the house at about 65 degrees.

However, I miss her. I miss my son. 8 more days!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Favorite Day of the Year!

It isn't Christmas.
Nor is it Thanksgiving.
It is Easter. This is my New Year. I go forth from Easter with passion and excitement. As I leave Easter, I enter into the various seasons of the year--seasons of growth and seasons of drought; seasons of joy and seasons of sadness. And by the next year, I am anxiously anticipating Easter again--a day of renewal, commitment, life, and passion.

I end my 9 week sermon series on "The Table" this morning with the passage from Luke 24. Jesus walks with two men on Emmaus Boulevard. They walk for miles...talking for hours. But it isn't until they are in a home...around a table...with Jesus breaking bread...that they realize who Jesus is. That is fascinating! That is gospel!

There in the ground his body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave he rose again.
And as he stands for victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me.
For I am his
And he is mine,
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life,
No fear in death,
This is the pow'r of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell,
No scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from his hand;
'Til he returns or calls me home,
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bachelor and Bracket

Yesterday, I dropped Kayci and Truitt off at the airport. They are off to Lubbock for 11 DAYS!!! I've never been away from Kayci or Truitt for this long. So, pray for me!
Today, Kayci is in a wedding in Lubbock for one of her high school friends. Next weekend, I will be gone for 4 days--I'm speaking at a youth rally in Connecticut.


My college basketball bracket was looking great until yesterday. I had Clemson going to the Final Four. I just had a feeling about them. Well, my feeling was wrong.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is God Present?

Here are some of the hardest questions I am asked:
-Where is God in the midst of pain?
-Why so many tragedies?
-Because of pain and God really active in this world?

Henri Nouwen writes:
The truly good news is that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pains and participates in the fullness of the human struggle.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Recommending a Mandatory Tattoo!!!

Truitt is nearly a year old. He is already saying, "Da...da...da..." and we are still working on "Dirk Nowitzki," but after dealing with insurance agencies over the past year, I am determined to teach him a very important question asap--"Are you covered under my insurance?"

It is worth tattooing this question on your chest, just in case you are in an accident and are unable to speak the words, "Are you covered under my insurance?"--this question could save you 1,000's of dollars...all you need to do is go through the pain of a $120 tattoo.

After a year, we are still receiving bills from the hospital and from doctors because certain people came into the delivery room to take blood or check Kayci's pulse and we failed to ask, "Are you covered under our insurance?"

Check this one out--we had Truitt at Methodist Hospital. Our doctor only delivers babies at Methodist hospital. HOWEVER, the hospital is covered under our insurance and our doctor isn't. SAY WHAT???!!! Two different doctors came into a Methodist Hospital delivery room, a room covered under our insurance, but neither one of the doctors were. SAY WHAT???!!!

I now know that when our next child comes, I will be ready. As we walk into the delivery, I am going to set up camp. In front of the door will be a table, a chair, my laptop, and information about my insurance company. Each person that walks through the door will first have to pass the question, "Are you covered under our insurance?" Kayci is just going to have to be patient. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Wineskins

I am honored to have had an article published in New Wineskins.

Last October, my friend, Josh Graves (, urged me on more than one occasion to write an article out of my ministerial experiences in Houston. It took me a couple of months to actually begin writing. It was fun!

Check it out and give me some feedback. I'd love to hear the many ways that the Kingdom of God is breaking-in around you.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Shack

I did it. I finally read "The Shack" by William Young. I have had a few friends recommend this book to me, one of them being Diane Cope who said it was the best book that she has every read. So, last week, within about a 6 hour period, I read it.
I'm careful how many books I recommend to people, because the average person reads 1-2 books a year, and if I make a suggestion and it flops, I lose "book-recommending" credibility. I don't want to do that. With that said, this is a book that needs to be on your shelf. If you have every faced tragedy, have had questions about God's activity in the world, have struggled with God's presence in the midst of pain and suffering, or have wrestled with the whole Trinity--God-3-in-1 idea...this book is for you.
I am tempted to write about the book, but that would ruin it for many of you.
I give William Young a high-five for creatively writing a book that wrestles with the theological questions that we all struggle with.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Question of the Day

We are hard on Hollywood and its influence on society.

Here's the question:
Does Hollywood influence our society influencing Hollywood?
In other words, is our society creating experiences because of Hollywood telling stories about society?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Knowing that I am Loved

Let me begin by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed graduate school. I actually had fun getting my M-DIV. Don't get me wrong, some days were long, tests were hard, and papers were absolutely draining, but overall, I enjoyed my 3 years in seminary.

With that said, after I left graduate school, I had to learn to speak the language of the people again. I had to learn how to say "Jesus loves you" again!

Sometimes I try too hard to love God better, instead of taking time to marvel at this fact--I am loved. I don't always live as one that is loved by God. It's not that I forget it, but that I don't take the time to let this truth descend into the deepest places of my heart.

Know this today--"You are loved by God!"

Friday, March 7, 2008

Happy B-Day Momma Ross!

This is my blog, which means I can write with my perspective on life. If there was such thing as a perfect child, I was it. On the other hand, I don't know how my parents were able to put up with my older sister (Jenny) and younger brother (Jonathan). Together with my parents, we worked our fingers to the bone to raise Jenny and Jonathan. :)

Today is my mother's birthday. Through her I have learned countless lessons of faith and what it means to follow Jesus. Her life has given us much more than a few peeks into the Kingdom of God, it has ushered us into the center of Kingdom life.

Mom, I love you. Thank you for everything.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

NT trumping OT

I love the Old Testament. It is our story. It is formative. We need to know it. We cannot understand Jesus or the story of God without it. The NT doesn't obliterate the OT; it fulfills affirms it. These are not my words; they are Jesus'.
However, there are a couple of places where the NT (mainly Jesus) trumps the OT. In the OT, enemies were hated. The phrase "love your neighbor and hate your enemy" was alive in every heart and soul. Read Psalms 54-59. Tucked inside Psalm 23 is the phrase "you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." David doesn't have in mind a table where he is sitting with his enemies in an attempt to reconcile. He has in mind a table full of blessings of God in which his enemies look upon from a distant.
This is one place where Jesus is in disagreement with David and the OT. Jesus comes proclaiming and demonstrating something different. David and the OT said, "Love neighbor, but hate and kill enemies." Jesus says, "Love your good..." With these words he turned humanity upside-down. He challenges and changes our worldview.
I don't know about you, but I don't love enemies very well. We don't preach it well. We don't live it well. Nations and governments don't operate this way. For thousands of years nations operate with the mentality of "you hate us; we hate like us; we'll like bomb us; we'll bomb you..." Jesus says something different.
I'm not attempting to get into a passifist/just war conversation, but I do want to let Jesus' words have a voice today in a world that hates too well.
We know Matthew 5:48, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." But we neglect the context. This verse is rooted in a passage on loving enemies. We strive for perfection by following in the ways of the one who challenges the way we view our fellow human beings.

I preached on this a couple of weeks ago. In our service, one of our dear sisters, Sara George, a woman I love, admire, and deeply respect, read this prayer:
Holy Father, we praise your name as our creator, our father, the holy one who has chosen us to be your children. Thank you.
As you promised to us, you provide us with what we need. Yet, we forget to thank you sometimes. And we worry way too much. We confess our sins to You. Please forgive us.
Jesus' words comfort us, challenge us, direct us, and teach us. The stories of his life on Earth and the words of his sermons and lessons are the reason we respond to you the way we do. Without Jesus, we would not have this intimate relationship with you.
But, I confess, God, that some of his words are difficult for me. In Matthew, He said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven...if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"
We consider Satan our greatest enemy. We can't love him. But we have enemies on earth, as well. When other people mistreat us, when terrorists attack, when some speak ill of us, steal from us, lie to us, cheat us...I suppose they are our enemies. And it's hard to love them. Very hard.
But we will try, Oh God. Because you told us to do so. We want to be your children. We want to obey your commandments. So I ask you to give us strength and resolve to love our enemies today. That probably means forgiving them, too. It's hard for us. Please help us, dear God. We cannot love our enemies without your help.
We pray in the name of Jesus, our Savior, your Son.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Alright, confession time. I watched Dr. Phil yesterday. Truitt was napping and I was being lazy, so, Kayci and cuddled on the couch and watched Dr. Phil. (Does this violate Man-Law 112.03b?)

Anyways, the topic was "Sex and Teens." Bishop Jakes was a special guest who appeared to be co-hosting the show with the Phil-master.

The guests were:
-An abstinence teacher who sees abstinence as the only way. He was a pastor for many years. To say the least, he is very passionate about abstaining from sex until marriage.
-A 21-year-old who learned under the "abstinence teacher." She thinks that teens should be given more information concerning contraceptives, diseases, and the human body. She felt that the teacher used scare tactics to drive people to abstinence.
-A 14-year-old girl and her mother who began having sex at the age of 13 with her mothers consent. Her mother felt that she was old enough and mature enough to make decisions on her own.
-An 18-year-old who is committed to remaining a virgin until marriage.

This was a great dialogue with some outstanding questions and concerns. Bishop Jakes was phenomenal, as he continued to challenge people to raise the bar.

Here are some facts:
-A 10-year-old is able to reason better than a 14-year-old because a young teenager's brain goes through a "pruning" stage. This is fact; not opinion.
-"Abstinence only" programs have not been working.

Here are some questions worth considering:
-Should schools be allowed to hand out condoms and birth control pills with parental consent? Without parental consent?
-Should information about sex, contraceptives, and the human body be given to teenagers in a health class?
-What is the role of parents in the sex ed process?

Over a year ago, a mother of a teenager told me that she was considering giving her 14-year-old daughter birth control pills because she was certain the daughter was already sexually active. I informed her of my conviction that contraceptives can protect against teenage pregnancy and some sexually transmitted diseases, but they DO NOT protect a teenager, or an adult for that matter, against psychological, emotional, and social damage. They do not protect one's dignity, self-esteem, or character.

Feel free to weigh in.