Saturday, June 28, 2008

We exist...

We (the people of God) exist to...
...set people free
...swim in God's stream of grace for justice
...see the image of God in every person
...tear down barriers between race and social class
...speak and live "good news"
...dream "Kingdom-dreams"
...nurture relationships for a cause greater than ourselves something daring with our lives in God's holiness in every moment

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Check out this piece from Wade Hodges on Discipleship.

From Lee Camp:
Thus "church," biblically speaking, is much more than "doing church right." Being church means embodying God's intentions for the world as revealed in Christ. "Church" is not about showing the world how to be "religious," but showing the world how it is supposed to be a world that reflects the intentions of its creator.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Randon Thoughts

I will try my hardest to never again preach a wedding in Dallas on a Saturday night and a sermon in Memphis on Sunday morning. I was feeling it yesterday. (It was an awesome wedding!!!)

The NBA Finals was "this" close to being so good for the NBA. The ratings have dropped over the past few years and the Lakers/Celtics had a chance to redeem it. The series was mostly anti- climatic. The last game of the NBA Finals needs to come down to the last 25 seconds; NOT--game over at the beginning of the 2nd quarter.

The word "create" shows up more times in the book of Isaiah than in any other book. This is fascinating: people in exile...away from home...wondering if their God is around...and here comes a prophet saying, "Lift up your eyes. Your God created in the beginning, and he can create something new right now."

One thing I love about Memphis is that banana-pudding is a fruit.

Pork BBQ is quite tasty. I still prefer brisket BBQ, but I'm a fan of the pork.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I HATE conversations like the following:

(Setting--dialing a number)

Voice on the other end--"Thank you for calling ________. We hope that this menu will serve you. If you are calling for __________, press 1. If you are calling for ________, press 7...and if you would like to speak to a representative, please press 9.

I press "9".

Voice on the other end: "Please let us know the reason why you are calling. In one word, let us know the reason for your call."

Me: "Checking"

Other Voice: "We could not understand your answer. Please say it again."

Me: "C-H-E-C-K-I-N-G"

Other Voice: "Did you say, 'checking?' If so, say, "Yes."

Me (talking loud at this point): "YES!!!"

Other Voice: "Okay. We are going to transfer you to a representative."

And the cycle continues.

I am in the process of writing a petition to the Supreme Court to ban automated voices on the telephone. Would you be in support of my petition? (I'm really not writing one, but it does sound like a good idea.)
I'm grateful that communicating with God doesn't go through automation.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dying and/or Living

A good question that we ask to measure the love we have for someone:
"Do you love someone so much that you would die for them?"

I prefer this question:
"Do you love someone so much that you would live for them?"

Truth is:
-We have a lot of parents living today who would die for their children, but they aren't making decisions to live for them.
-We have spouses living today who would die for their husband/wife, but they aren't making decisions to live for them.

Jesus didn't just come to die...he also came to show us how to live.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Poor

For a summary of my post yesterday, look at my last comment (#14).
It takes a lot to bring the wrath-of-J-Ross out of me, but if you want to see it, come up to me and quote Mark 14:7 as a reason that we shouldn't invest in the poor of our communities. Jesus said, "For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me." I've been in circles in which people basically say, "The poor aren't going anywhere...They are here to stay...Let's help them when we can...we can't solve the issue of poverty...blah...blah...blah..."

Hear these words from the context Jesus was referring too:
If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, 'The 7th year, the year of remission, is near,' and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor mighty cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, 'Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.'"

Now, let's get past our first inclination, which is to say, "That is the OT. We are NT people." :)

Shane Claiborne hits the nail on the head when he says, "The problem isn't that people don't care for the poor; it is that they don't know the poor." (paraphrase)

Here is what I have discovered, I often walk into places of poverty thinking that I have what they need--for example: words of hope, resources, contacts, the good news of Jesus, etc.
However, I leave these places convinced that many times God uses the poor to teach me about theology, the Bible, and life.

Here is why I enjoy hanging out with "the poor": (no particular order)
1) In them, I discover my own hopelessness.
2) God teaches me about simplicity.
3) 1 out of every 10 verses in Scripture deals with the poor and oppressed. With the poor, my eyes are opened to new meanings in Scripture.
4) Poverty is not about issues; it is about people who have been created in the image of God.
5) I find God at work.
6) I receive dreams for liberation, deliverance, and justice.

Feel free to add to the list.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Question for Church Leaders

If you knew that there was a direction that you needed to steer your flock...a vision that would increase the level of spirituality, the prayer lives of your members, outreach in your community, service to the poor and oppressed, and deeper commitments to discipleship...
You knew that you would lose 15-20% of your congregation because the vision seems too radical...

Would you follow through with the theological commitment?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Great Sunday

This morning was a fantastic day at Sycamore View. I don't even know where to start. Here were a few highlights:
-Worship--Kip Long is a fantastic worship leader. He leads us straight to the throneroom of God. Having a gifted worship leader is like someone handing you the ball on the 1 yard-line saying, "It is 1st down...go and score."
-Kids--one of my favorite parts of our worship services are when the kids come up front to drop money in the baskets. You would just have to see it. It is memorable.
-Confession--a couple came forward today during 2nd service wanting prayers for the reign of God to come into their marriage. It was a healing moment.
-Video--we showed a Father's Day video that was funny, true, and inspirational.
-Baptism--Audrey was baptized after 2nd service. It was a beautiful moment to see both of her parents in the water with her.

Know this--we serve a God who reigns today! May his kingdom come and reign over all the earth.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I got home from a speaking gig last night around 9:00, flipped on the NBA finals, and watched one of the greatest comebacks (or meltdowns) in NBA history. Down 24 points in the 3rd quarter, the Celtics sparked an historic comeback and won by 6.

For some reason, I went to sleep still having flashbacks of the finals 2 years ago when the Mavs were up 2-0 before losing 4 straight. The nightmares still haunt me. The sound of the whistle blowing every time D-Wade stepped into the lane is a sound that will never leave me.
(Please read about 74% of sarcasm in the paragraph above)

I don't really care who wins the series, but I do want the Lakers to win Game 5. There is nothing like a Game 6 and 7 in any sport.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"In Between Places"

OFTEN...the best ministry (Kingdom-work) takes place in the unexpected moments of life. They come in between "point A" and "point B." My concern is that we spend too much time writing agendas and planning programs for planned ministry instead of opening our eyes to the spontaneous ways that God is moving in the world around us.

I am not condemning agendas, programs or intentional/planned ministry.

However, what I want to grasp as a Christ-Follower and a minister is that God is still at work in between point A and point B.
Look at the life of Jacob. We know the story of Jacob's dream (Gen.28) and we know the story of the greatest wrestling match in all of Scripture (Gen.32). However, both of these stories come while Jacob is traveling to and from Isaac and Rebekah's home and Uncle's Laban's.

How often do we pray while driving in our cars for God to help us to have courage to live the Christ-life...while we pass cars broken down on the side of the road?
How often are we amazed at the stories of Jesus touching the untouchable (lepers, the dead, the ill, etc.)...yet we fail to enter into the world to touch the homeless people on the street corners?
How often do we make our 30-45 minute commutes or drives, dialing number after number on our cell phones...instead of turning off the radio to allow God a little time to massage the wrinkles of our hearts?

May we open our eyes to see God at work in the "in between" places of life.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sycamore View

I could not have dreamed for a better first day at SVC. People were receptive, loving, welcoming, encouraging, and gracious. We went home last night exhausted, but thrilled to be here. We shook hands with hundreds of people and are trying our best to remember names.
Forgive me for word-shortage today, but I'll have more to say in a day or two.
For all of you who called, texted, and emailed us yesterday...thanks for your prayers.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Loving Memphis

We are in our new home and have received an outpouring of love from the SVC family.

I'll have more to blog soon.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Memphis Bound

On Monday morning, my family will take the day to drive from Decatur to Memphis. We anxiously anticipate our new home, our new neighbors, our new church and our new friends. Please pray for our transition.
On another note, I thought I'd take a moment to inform you of a few books I've read over the past 2 weeks while relaxing with the fam.

--Countdown to Sunday: a daily guide for those who dare to preach. By Chris Erdman. One of the best preaching books I've read in the past few years.
Grade--(A) (I'd recommend it to all preachers)

--The Preaching Life. By Barbara Brown Taylor.
In this book, BBT does it again. She is a master with words. She openly depicts the journey and struggles that preachers face on a week-to-week basis.

--The Wounded Healer. By Henri M. Nouwen. I appreciate Nouwen's willingness to write out of his own experiences. He always uses his pen to call people to that next step in deeper maturity. He does it again here.

--Sex God. By Rob Bell. I don't know how to describe Bell. He is a master story-teller, a Ray Vanderlaan disciple (which can be good and bad), and a great thinker for our days. I actually liked this book better than Velvet Elvis. He takes a very high view of human nature, explaining on every page that the call to be fully human is a call to live as people made in the image of God. Worth the read.

--The God of Intimacy and Action. By Tony Campolo and Mary Albert Darling. I'm intrigued by the premise of this book--How to bridge the gap between spiritual disciplines and social justice. I am still only a few chapters into this book, and I can tell you that Campolo's "personal relationship with Jesus" language is a little too much for me. Hey, I'm all about relationship with Jesus, and I'm a huge fan of Campolo, but I'd come at this much needed topic differently.
Grade (so far)--B

--A Knock at Midnight. Collection of Martin Luther King's sermons. He was a great preacher and one of the greatest prophets of our time. These sermons are inspiring.
Grade (A+)

Feel free to share with me books you'd recommend.