Friday, March 28, 2014

Hairy Vision!

Day 21 Doxology: If you're keeping score I missed yesterday's Doxology moment...Please forgive me God? 

The family has enjoyed themselves this week and now the week is fast coming to a close.  In our exuberance, we are certain of our plans and where we are heading in the week, month, year, and life.  We go to great lengths to act as if we are completely confident in our planning that we seldom have patience of anyone that thinks different than ourselves. When that happens we find ourselves at the mercy of others. 

The following image is a picture of J-2 and Clair-Bear on the golf cart headed home from the Warf.  They couldn't see but trusted even the unlikeliest candidate, big brother -Big Mac- to drive them home.
I couldn't help to think how many of us depend on others to guide us in this world when we are ultimately responsible for our own plot in life. We all find ourselves blinded by the smallest of things and simply need to remove the things that hinder us from seeing 20/20. God help us to develope our own Spiritual Disciplines.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Over or Under -Communication

Day 19 Doxology: I'm a bit late on yesterday's God's more like a revelation.  And, since this is my blog I believe I'm afforded a few luxuries.

Last night we ate a late supper at Bayou Bills, a seafood favorite.  We were seated by the hostess at a round table -equal chairs for each person.  For some reason I was surprised at how nice it was to see everyone and the freedom to have a community conversation...with one exception...the teenage cell phone (dah, dah, dah!)!

Parent immediatly involved the "no cell phone use" and after the usual addiction denial the conversation was back on track.

After what seemed like minutes to me and hour to J-2 she got up and went to the restroom.  After a lengthy stay she finally returned and when
I saw her I realized the reason for her extended absence...busted!
So, here is my revelation.  Today, it's has become increasingly difficult to have the private time aside to "be still" with God.  What if we used the same enthusiastic persuit with God that today's teenagers use with their cell phone usage.

At some point today enthusiastically demand yourself to "be still" and have a conversation with God.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Morning Manna

Day 18 Doxology: For many of us we look for God in all things and at all times throughout the day. We do so regardless of success or failure. Regardless of our day, it began with the expectation of God.  

My day this morning began very early in San Antonio, TX and ended 12 hours later in San Destin, FL.  We drove and drove, and I'm not certain that I witnessed God in the cars, pick-ups, and Tractor-Trailers that I saw through our 5 state trip. However, because I saught God first the gift was waiting. And, it carried me throughout my trip.

Take just a moment to give God the first fruit of your might be enough manna to carry you throughout your day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Perception vs. Reality

Day 17 Doxology: Have you ever had to discern between perception and reality?

Perception for the Church is we are strong and growing. Our youth are learning about ways to strengthen their relationship with God while maneuvering the potholes of college. Our young adults are learning healthy ways to fulfill their commitment they made, while as a youth, as they move toward more investing decisions regarding the family. The perception is the Church in America is growing.

The reality is the church is not growing.  Maybe the Church in other countries is growing, and lives are being transforms, but not in America.  The reality is our youth are more concerned with the tangible rather than the intangible.  So, as they grow and decide if church is for them, they review their past experiences and determine Church is irrelevant.  This revelation came from years of surveying my youth and extensive work done by The Barna Group. The reality is the Church in America is not growing.

Now, moving, while on the River Walk in San Antonio, TX I sat under an overpass as I waited for the rain to stop.  I sat with my family and friends and enjoyed the amazing company of both.  Seldom can you sit and waste time and it not matter.  The truth is it was life-giving (A term I use often).  While we sat and watched the world walk beneath the overpass where we were resting, I noticed that some passersby would glance at my family and me, while others would fixate their eyes on the river.  They represented their own race, age, relationships, social economical status, and other (I don’t want to leave anyone out)…BUT, there was this one guy.

My perception of this guy was immediate.  He was holding an umbrella and continued to hold the umbrella as he walked toward me.  It’s kind of like the guy that sways with the beat of the music, but once the music stops he realized he had continued. swaying  This guy had walked with his wife out of the rain underneath the overpass and stood with the umbrella in full force.  My perception of this guy was, “lacking!”

The reality is while we were sitting and watching everyone, and waiting on the boat cruise to re-open this man, his wife (pushing an new born), and about 3-year-old son walked into view.  Watching people, as I do, I couldn’t help but to noticed that this mom and dad had decked this child out in a child’s version of the “Letterman’s Jacket”, baseball cap, and the latest tennis shoes. They wanted the very best for this child and in life.  HE was going to be an all-star whether he liked it or not. The dad stood underneath the overpass and held that flippin’ umbrella while he and his wife were fixated on their son.  And I’ll tell you this; he let his son climb the wall to visit the duck that had attracted his son, and then he allowed the son to climb back down without rushing to catch him or to lift him or to nudge him toward the success of his venture.  He loved him enough to let him fail…I stated to think…Could I?  I was impressed!

Now, my point…perception verses reality.  The perception was this dad didn’t have what it took to walk down the street –rain or shine –but the reality is he was a man being a dad and nothing was going to distract him from his son’s needs.  I think if the church had this dad leading the charge our children wouldn’t be leaving the Church, and I believe that to be…not perception…not reality…but I believe it to be a FACT!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bug Eyes

Day 16 Doxology:  Today, I was able to watch the eyes of my children widen with amazement.  However, if it was the New Orleans French Quarter that widened their eyes…Honestly, I might be messing up.  For two girls that grew up in a rural city of 7,000, half way between I-65 and I-59, they really got a picture of the world today that they had not experienced before today (Praise God).

They walked in amazement.  They ate food they had only heard their mom and dad talk about; they saw people acting like they had never heard their mom and dad not talk about, and they saw expressions of an artistic culture they never knew existed.  I wondered what their thoughts were as they settled down for bed at the end of our day?

I also wondered if the excitement I felt I as I watched them experience the French Quarter…they felt in me as I ate Catfish tonight.  I have traveled many places, and I have sampled food from all over the world.  I had the distinct joy of growing up in the south where everyone ate catfish often.  Tonight was a first.  At a fishing camp on a pass between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain, in Akers, LA, there is a restaurant called Middendorf's that produces the most amazing Fried Catfish.  This Fried Catfish was slithers of Catfish filets fried to a golden light brown.  It was cut so thin and fried so light that my eyes widen with amazement.  Later that night, as I sat in the stiff plastic chaired provided by the Hampton Inn after our meal, I recapped the day and had to laugh.

The teacher was taught a lesson.  I guess you’re never too old to be amazed about the world.  You might have experienced things that others never knew existed, but there is always more of life to experience.  The only stale life we experience…is the one we’ve created.  I cannot wait for tomorrow so that I can see more of God’s creation, and be amazed even more. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Lullaby

Day 15 Doxology: Almost halfway...but enough for today.  Today's  "praise be to God" moment comes at the end of many miles...for Pete's sake it's a bed, and I'm going to use it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Ant Farm

Day 14 Doxology: Can I say Ant Farm? I never could see the use, or the attraction, in the ant farm thing. However, I will say busy with a purpose does seen attractive to me.  I like having a job...I like knowing I can work the job, and everything works out (stellar first-child syndrome).  My dad would say, "make a plan; work the plan!"  The ants were working tonight!

Every month on our packing night for Blessings in a Backpack, I worry will everyone turnout to pack bags for the families in our community. I ask myself, "Is everyone too busy? Do they still think it is important?"  The truth is our church never disappoints!

Tonight's Doxology is a reminder that the answers to my questions are always, "Work the those crazy ants in that childhood 'Ant Farm'"!  The plan is "love your neighbor as yourself!"  Great job Church!

Chilling Praise! Burrrrr!

Day 13 Doxology:  Wow!  What a day of doxology moments when I can raise eyes and voice to God in praise and thanksgiving.  I could bear witness to J-2 being tapped into the National Honor Society (And, until later at The Summit this took the cake); my political conversation with David D. about America and “Mother Russia” (I think it was more about his being informed); My activities at The May’s home which was opened and welcoming with family love (but proved to be a bit chilling).

Before I go further, I think I need to comment on the “May’s Compound”!  It is a combination of serenity and contemplation.  I’m sure many will agree the serenity is confined to the “Hot Tube,” while the contemplation is because of the pressure of friends and cold water.   Either way, the ol’ Riverboat Captain and his lovely wife Nancy, opened their home to so many hopeful participants that would brave the challenge from friend and family.  Thank you Nancy and Joey May!

I included a video of the hopeful challenge to my wife (what was I thinking?), Olivia Wilks (Dang great job costing me money), and John Amos (pretty scared I’m goin’ to be tasered). However, that was not my “Doxology” moment.
It would be absolutely easy to pick the whole church doing something wild and crazy for our Daycare Ministry as my doxology moment.  I mean think about it…everyone in the church is in a buzz about their challenge or the completion of “The Challenge.”   Yet, I saw God in the laughter and communication in the ride home.

Everything that I've mentioned are, in their own right a true "Doxology Moment, " however, once we left the May’s, J-1 and I started home laughing and joking about what had just happened (Sorry, no picture).  We discussed who should be challenged and who would except such a challenge.  The older I get the more I value these moments with my children.  This could easily be an “Ah that’s nice moment,” but it’s so much more.  While I traveled home in my boxers wrapped in a blanket; our hair wet; waiting for our throats to be sore, waiting on the flu to accost our home, we could do nothing but realize that we had shared a moment together.  I thank God, and I thank Missy W. and my church family for allowing me this moment with my daughter. That is truly a moment of praise and thanksgiving that I am fast becoming a fan of anything family! I pray you are as well?  “Praise be to God from whom all Blessings flow...”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Mundane and Ordinary….NOT!

Day 12 Doxology: Meetings, phone calls, conversations, and interstate…really hard to see God in the mundane except that Scripture calls us to embrace the mundane and ordinary as holy and beautiful. (1 Thess. 4:11). 

My Doxology today is definitely not mundane.  In fact, it is so “not” mundane that I really don’t what it is?  This picture is an image of connection, whether they’ll admit it or not…it’s family having fun doing who knows what.  I think it involved a challenge and really cold water; bookend by laughter; finished up with a communal hot tube. Still not real sure what I’m seeing, but it looks fun. 

Yep! Scripture tells us that God is in the mundane and ordinary, but there is nothing mundane or ordinary about this group, and I see God all around.

Monday, March 17, 2014

God's Love - Domestic and Abroad!

Day 11 Doxology: Today, I first experienced God while reading JAmos' "Day 11 Devotional" available to the whole church.  Then, I experienced God at our Mountain Lakes District Roman's Bible study.  After wards, I witnessed God through your assorted text messages and emails from the weekend and the start of your week.  So many ways to experience God now that I am open to God at work during Lent, but…maybe my biggest doxology came from my amazing wife.  Before you cringe wait to hear how.

I received a wrapped gift today that represented the culmination of months of secretive work to please one of my deepest passions…sailing!  That's right sailing.  Since our first sailing class together, Shannon and I wanted to take the next class in the series so that chartering sailing vessels abroad would be made easier.  Well, at least I wanted to take the next class.  The class description was defined as a "live aboard" for 5 days to complete the 103 and 104 Coastal Sailing Classification.  As I shared, when I got home Shannon (like a kid in candy store) was eager to give me the books that I would use to prepare me for my class and a note that stated that she had almost paid for the already scheduled mid-week class.  To be clear, the doxology moment was the undeserving, unconditional love that my wife continually surprises me with daily.  No way do I deserve this kind of love.  Thank you God for giving me a mate to share your love.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Church Transformed

Day 10 Doxology: How many times have you heard people say, “People never cease to amaze me!  Well, you know?  People never cease to amaze me…Summit People, that is.

Recently, we have had a young expected mom become a regular at our church.  And she has enthusiastically participated in worship and our children’s ministry.  So, when a member of our church heard that she was going to throw her own baby shower, she wouldn’t hear of it.  She started making plans.  After an already planned meeting at our church this morning others joined in to help regardless of their Saturday plans.  It was way cool watching people scurry around being Christ to our community. 

That should be enough in and of itself, but there’s more.  Planned on the same day was a birthday party for one of our faithful, yet your nincompoop pastor messed up the calendar/ scheduling again!.  The birthday party designers stayed up late and decorated our fellowship hall with lights and runways for a “fashion show” themed party.  It was incredible!

Now here is the “way cool” part…in the picture the two parties were happening about the same time, or with at least an overlap in time.  In the back and through the double doors the birthday party boomed away, closer to the handsome photographer…the baby shower.  It’s a perfect doxology moment of people being Christ to their neighbor and the Church being transformed into whatever needs that can best serve God’s people. Our Summit people never cease to amaze me!”  Now that is a Doxology day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sky-like Predictions

Day 9 Doxology:  If you live in, or are from, Alabama you recognize this image.  Maybe…certainly, I’m ignorant and others from other states recognize this image as well.  However, Alabama is my reference to the world, for better or for worse. So, bear with me...

I looked at tonight sky and immediatly predicted rain for the coming days.  Maybe it was my experience or my anticipation.  Either way, my forecast called for precipitation.  When I saw the night sky over the smell of chicken wings on my Green Egg and the sound of text messages on my phone, I immediately wonder something…I’m I seeing the joy of the Lord in the moment or predicting the “blah” for tomorrow?  You see, I think as Christians we get caught up in a miss-use of focused blessings (I think I’ll coin that phrase).  The bottom line… we as Christ followers are seldom happy and yet we should rejoice in the moment always –James 1:17.  Please pause and recognize that a child’s messy room is just as much a gift as your best worship experience –if in Christ!  What is the saying…”God is good” and our collective answer?  “All the time!”  All the time means always -every day and in every way.  Praise be to the God that trumps our plans and predictions. “God has greater plans for you than you could ever have for yourself.” You like Apples?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Peaceful Prayers

Day 8 Doxology: I was introduced to a picture of our ORANGE children offering prayer for things, issues, and people in their life, and now I share it with you.

I didn’t use this image as my daily doxology yesterday, because I couldn’t get God out of what I was experiencing in my own children-the praise God moments out of the joy I was experiencing through my girls. I believe you should feel the same through today’s doxology because it involves your children. So, today my Doxology moment is a praise to God for your children and for the influence ORANGE is making on our Summit families.

The door you see represents the prayers of your children…our children.  At least those that wanted to participate.  Before you are 27 prayers that YOUR children felt necessary to bring before the church and God.  How do you like ORANGE now?

As I stared at this door, I would close my eyes and picture the excitement each child would exhibit as they wrote out their prayer concern.  Then they shared, in faithfulness, their needs, and as they were joined with other’s needs they received a peace.  That peace is a healing and comfort that they have done all that they could do or was taught to do.  They laid it before the LORD. When I stared at their individual prayers I am reminded of Isaiah 54:13, All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children…shocker, I know!

We are teaching amazing life-giving moments through ORANGE…investing in every moment we have to make a difference/ investment in the future of every family.  You like Apples?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Doctor Who" Do You Love?

Day 7 Doxology:  How to begin?  I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood John 13:20 to the depths I have today.  I feel enormous joy; I’m smiling from ear to ear, and my eyes become misty at the thoughts of today’s doxology moment. 

When I went into ministry, my fear was faith, for my daughters, would be somewhat altered or challenged based on the church’s actions or inactions where I would serve.  I make no excuses…a parent’s desire for their children is to be happy.  We devote time, energy, and money to that cause…often to the point of overindulgence.  If you have never felt your children unhappy because of something you’ve done, or decisions you’ve made…then I’m not sure you fully get my point.  Conversely, when they experience great joy…you are exceedingly happy!  In fact, being kind to my daughters (My family) is the greatest gift you could ever give me as a pastor.  Which reminds me of John 13:20, accepting the Son is accepting the Father.   When you love God's children; you love God.

Not to compare myself to God in any way…today, someone hand-made and sent my daughter a Doctor Who scarf.  Not just any Doctor Who, but the 4th more classical version of Doctor Who.  I feel that I need to explain…Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television series that has lasted decades (1963-present). The Doctor, the main character, is a regenerating humanoid that travels through time saving the world from ourselves, and others.  I personally like David Tennant as Doctor Who, while J-1 (pictured left) has an infinity for the older more classic Doctors. Regardless of your favorite, to the Geek Squad, one would have to admit it’s pretty amazing writing that have united father/ sons and father/ daughters for many years.  So today, because of the kindness of another, the bond between father and daughter is uplifted, mended, solidified. This amazing person did this out of the blue; on his or her own; out of love.  It is the greatest sermon I’ve ever heard on random acts of kindness that exhibit unconditional love.  This sweet person is a “Means of Grace” to me, and my family and will be remember as one of the sacred moments of mine and my daughter's life.  Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.”  We never forget how people treat us, do we?  Some actions really do speak louder than words…don’t you agree (spoken in my best British accent)?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Action vs. Words

Day 6 Doxology: This is a special praise God moment for me.  At some point parenting changed and no one told me.  Lately it seems that I can seldom say the right thing.  Encouragement is perceived as sarcasm; discipline is taken as unfair, stuffy, out-of-touch, or even worse unloving. This morning I did something that felt so right.  I took J-2 to Huddle House for breakfast.  We slept in, got up late, and drove to eat breakfast then I checked her in late for school.  She got her usual-strawberry waffles with no whip cream and a side of hash browns.  I got anything pork with double hash browns.  We sat and laughed and tried to name the songs that were being drowned by breakfast conversation and Fox News from nearby.  What we didn’t discuss were chores, the future, stinkin’ boys, her hair, her make-up, her clothes, or anything that I might have thought she had done wrong.  As a result, I think we both savored every minute, and every bite.  It’s the first time in a long time, I felt like a father.  J-2 is a special daughter that I do not deserve…both she and God are worthy to be praised.  Today, different from other days, I taught by action and not by words.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Can Your Contrail Tell?

To my dismay, I failed to post my Day 4 Doxology.  Four days into my Lenten Season and I’ve already missed a daily discipline.  Maybe that’s what makes my period of Lent real and authentic…an acknowledgement that I might, or even probably, will fail at some point.  In my failure, I seek grace. So, I do what I know to do…acknowledge and press on with all eyes on Easter.

Day 5 Doxology: I hate to choose the usual sunrise or sunset “praise to God” moment. However, this image has attributes that I couldn’t pass up.  This was taken early in the morning on Hwy 231, a road I usually abhor.  Whatever my feelings for this road in which I have spent hours navigating it’s hills and curves, today God was waiting with a message.  All throughout scripture either God or Jesus is characterized as light.  As I reached the summit (a nice play on words) of the mountain I could see this image of the sky perfectly, and I immediately thought of Psalm 43:3.  If you will look closely, the cross of two contrails (the condensation trail of an airplane) are hidden behind the brightness of the sun (light).  When I saw this, I began to question whether the planes were flying toward the light or away from the light? Ok, I realize this post is a bit longer than usual, but I have to ask one more question…can a passer-by, just a simple observer, tell whether our trail leads us toward or away from the light that warms a broken world? 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Devotional of Grace

Day 3 Doxology: Today’s very late Doxology actually came really early in my morning. We have been reading devotionals written by our church, and I knew that we were short one very important author from our congregation.  In God’s precious (or better yet, perfect) time, she sent me this email with her healing words.  She gave me permission to share with you.  It reminds me how far we’ve come as faith community…it’s the church designed as Christ intended it to be – neighbor grieving and healing with their neighbor.  I don’t know?  It’s just a proud, selfish moment to think, yep, that’s my church family.  I pray you enjoy this amazing testimony of faith?  I did.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Good Wife

Day 2 Doxology:  Well, Day 2’s Doxology came early.  Today’s image was a picture of my wife being a hit with her students.  She always surprises me how well she can relate to her students to help mold and shape them in fairness and fun.  Today, as a fundraiser, she allowed them to duck tape her to the wall.  I have to admit, this gives me great joy for a couple of reasons: 1) it speaks to one of her characteristics that I previously shared, and 2) who wouldn’t get great joy in taping their wife to the wall and putting duck tape over her mouth (kidding!)?  The truth is #2 in my reason-folder is God has blessed me with a pretty amazing wife that makes me better just by thinking about her.  In short, God is good…and she doesn’t even read this blog. Wait, maybe that is not a bad thing?   Proverbs 31:10-12

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Summit Brand

Well, it’s hard to believe it has been already a year since I posted Doxology pictures and statements of where I saw God during my day.  For the next 40 days (not including Sundays) join me in this journey of Doxology moments of family, church, joy and hurts, and of love and loss, because that is where God can be found.  It is my prayer that reading the caption for each picture posted is as much a blessing to you as it is to me.  May God Bless our journey together.

Day 1 Doxology: How could God not be at work in the countless hours of planning, gathering, and reading everyone’s personal revelation of this year’s Scripture list.  At times I would laugh, more times than I would care to admit…I would cry, but most of all I kept smiling at how God was speaking to our church.  I would pump my fist and say, “YES!”  I knew that people were really listening to God.  Isn’t that a pastor’s goal?  Isn’t that one of my dreams?  This is going to be an amazing Lenten Season!