Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Day of Gifts

Day 39 Doxology:  This has been a day of gifts...even if I am into day 40 of my doxology sharing.  For clarity, Day 39 Doxology has been a true day of celebrations. 

This evening friends and family gathered at a high-flutten resteraunt in Birmingham to honor the birthday of a special friend.  This friend is a one-of-a-kind not unlike you!  She was one of the first people to step into my office after my dad passed away and prompted me to heal.  She was CHRIST to me.

Tonight, I experienced another kind of gift.  My church left, for me and my family, a gift that sheds light on the huge Easter experience.  Each year has been joy upon joy to share with my family.  And, my girls almost stand taller (if possible) when they see the church their dad serves pour out so much love this time of year.  I feel love throughout the year, but this time of the year is a special opportunity to share a Happy Easter Gift.  My church never misses an opportunity to remind me they care! This year, like years prior, we had an Easter Basket waiting.

Too many times we overlook the joy of the body of Christ...why?  Why would we miss out on elevating what God is doing in and through others...through ourselves?  

This Easter pause and think then...thank! Thank others for their thoughtfulness and caring.  If we all did it within our just might become contagious.  Praise be to God!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Looks that Kill!

Day 37 Doxology: Have you ever heard of the old cliche "looks that kill"?  Several times tonight I experienced the thought that mimic that old cliche -"looks that kill".  You are assuming that the word "kill" is a bad thing.  All my life I've called friends "killer", "choppy", "Captain," or "Gomer" when they did something goofy.  I think killer, choppy, Captain, or Gomer are terms of endearment a bond between people you care for.  They are friends that you never will forget.  When I called my friend "killer" it was as if I was saying you are a "killer" friend -A friend I'll never forget.  In kind... the term "looks that kill" is used to describe an image that will forever be a part of my memory.  Tonight, my mind is full of "looks that kill"!

Tonight was our church's Easter Eggstavaganza.  So many images run through my mind -children I've never seen, children I haven't seen in a while, and children that I never will forget.  Other images that can be described as "looks that kill" are the adults that serve tirelessly. They plan, paint, cook, pour, and toss their way into a child's life.  It's about the coolest thing one could ever witness.  What you see are "looks that kill"!

A couple of highlighted looks are shared for your viewing.  I will carefully not share their name because I don't have their permission, but I will share their picture -like that is better!  I begin with a small princess (we will call her Princess EK).  I've missed her while she has been recovering from surgery, and tonight I couldn't wait to be a part of this doxology moment!  My face looks so intense because of the huge squeeze being offered.  Thinking that I get to be this princess' pastor brings tears to my you can see it is a look that kills!

The next image is from an adult-child.  She was wading through children to somehow offer and excuse to sling fake grass and toss eggs.  The kids loved her, but really, who wouldn't?  This is a look that kills!

To close, how many image have you experienced today that you blew passed, or over-looked?  In the end, they were forgotten when God offered them as a "Means of Grace" for you to draw upon for days and weeks.  Tonight was just that...a Means of experiencing the Grace God offers to me through the relationships and life of others.  I believe them to be looks that will be uploaded in my memory for every...they are "looks that kill" for a very long time!  Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Big Picture

Day 35 Doxology:  Mondays start early for me at the district office for a Bible study of the Mountain Lakes District's pastors led by our district superintendent.  Today, although my family's spring break, was no different.  Then it was spent with the Boaz Ministerial Association with a Holy Week Service. Not important, other than I had a lot of chances for huge doxology moments...but there was only one that trumped them all!

We (parents) hope and pray that our children hitch their wagon to the faith in which they were raised. Even if we do not have everything about our faith worked out...we somehow feel that their believing will be better for them than not believing...and we all want the best for our children.  Today's doxology is a proud moment for me even if it began several years ago.

In 2007, or 2008, I was asked to lead the youth of the Mountain Lakes District in a mini-game filled afternoon for a District Training Retreat at Camp Sumatanga.   I had prepared several game-type competitions that had made our own youth program a success, but there was one thing that I didn't realize would pay huge dividends.

J-2 can paint.  So, I asked her to paint a huge painting of our denomination's "Cross and Flames" for the event.  My plans were to have all of the youth sign their name and their favorite scripture for permanent art for the district office.  The picture was a huge success for more than one reason.

Since it hangs in the district office, and I see it, it somehow struck me as a praise to God moment not just for the history of it, but also for the future.  My thoughts were maybe at the time of the event my girls might have been accepting the faith of their parents offered to them as a gift.  After our Bible study, like times in the past, I found each of my girls signature and scripture and I paused and prayed for each.  It's a great moment, and never gets old.

I think their scriptures are worth sharing...

Neh. 8:10, Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who those who have nothing prepared.  This is holy to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Jer. 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Gen. 8:21, The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart, Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclinations of the human heart is evil from childhood.  And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

For whatever the reason, to me these pictures are meaningful and exempts of their hope and understanding for the faith they are processing at that time.  It is the beginning of the faith of their parents becoming their own.  It is smaller images of a much larger picture!  Praise be to God!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Three J's

Day 34 Doxology:  I have so many words to share describing today's doxology...So, instead of a lengthy discourse about my three "J's" being together, or the fact that they were getting along as if they liked each other, or if we sat a table after Jesa's wedding and laughed until we cried...regardless of what I say, or don't say, today's was a huge memory for both mom and a dad.

Probably, everything about today that I mentioned was worthy of praise, but what I kept thinking as I waited in line for the bathroom so I could get ready, prior to Jesa's wedding was three J's honored both their mom and dad by caring enough for Jesa, and her day, to get off work, come home from school, get ready to go, and enjoy doing it so much that this wedding ranks as today's top daddy moment, and...we have pictures to prove it!

Do each of us care enough to do the thing that we know in our heart is right?  Today, the "Three J's" did!  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Authentic Doxology

Eye Care - Guntersville, AL - Guntersville Eye Clinic - Specializing in Contact LensesDay 31 Doxology:  Let me share how God has spoken to me today.  I can't tell you how much fun I get out of visiting a sweetheart of a doctor and friend Dr. Suzanne!  She has this special characteristic that allows her to hangs on to every word like it is the most important thing in the world at that particular moment.  She somehow builds you up without saying a word.  She is a special presence and a sweet friend!  I'm sharing her shameless plug without her knowing....  Every time I go for a check-in and check-up it is always fun for me (maybe not so much for her staff)...but for me, it is awesome.

The girls at Dr. Suz's office are always a little reserve, but open to my mocking and "Tom Foolery" (I've been wanting to use "Tom Foolery" for years).  With all of that said...they are warm and accepting!  Today was a special treat, because I was able to visit with Breanna (Dr. Suz's daughter) while waiting for my eye appointment.  Like so many daughters nowadays, she is all grown up!  The really cool thing is she has plans for the future!  I may benefit the most from her drive and anticipation, because I have her autograph for when she competes in the Olympics! As part of a special doxology, this is the part of my day that included family and church family in perfect harmony!

I was blessed yet again!  There are special times when you are blessed by the words of others.  In a special way, it was one of the draws to was the desire to make a was the blessing to extend my family boundaries.  Too many times in seminary I was told to not allow yourself to be "too" open.  In other words, don't reveal too much of yourself.  I'll admit, I can see times in my life where that has been a painful lesson for me, but the times that it works well are such a sweet spot that it becomes addictive.

This week is Spring Break for our church and their families.  A couple of families made plans to visit relatives and friends in Colorado.  They booked a rental, they bought plane tickets, and they scheduled their trip (although, thinking about it...they never invited me!).  Today's doxology is the blog of a friend.  This friend is special in more ways than I care to share tonight (maybe, Seminary still has a small amount of hold on me).  However, I guess the real admiration comes from her authenticity.  She writes!  And in her words she describes life as I wished others would see it.  She writes like we think...she allows you to share in her and her family's experience.  What a gift!  The really social thing about this person is you know that she is for real.  IT shows in her writing and her life.  She is the kind of person that her face cannot hide what her mind is thinking.  I believe this to be a TRUE gift of God.  In her presence...she must be authentic.  And, her writing reflects that.

I wonder how many of us care enough to write with a heart for others.  When my friend writes it's like she cares enough for me and my family that she just knows what I want to know next.  Part of you are sitting there thinking, he knows she will read this...and she is in his church...and he wants to make some brownie points...however!  It's time we write the stories of our life like we care to have someone accompany us on our journey.  It's time we ignore the seminaries of this already broken world...sharing our hurts, our regrets, our disappointments, our joys, our laughter, and our tears.

Last night J-2 and I watched a 30 for 30 special on Jimmy V. (Late Coach of N.C. State), and his words spoke to my heart.  He said, "There are things that we should do every day of our lives.  Number one is laugh.  You should laugh every day.  Number two is think.  You should spend time in thought.  And number three is, you should have your emotions move you to tears, could be happiness or joy.  But think about it, If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day.  That's is a heck of a day.  You do that seven days a week, you're going to have a something special."

This speech was given as Jimmy Valvano was dying with cancer. Today, in the wake of watching this special with my 2nd daughter, it reminded me how little we allow ourselves to be authentic.  So today's doxology is Dr. Suz and her daughter, and my friend and her blog.  In many ways, it is the way God said something is important more than safety...more than security.  God said being honest and open is holy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Porch Doxology

Day 30 Doxology:  Today's thought is still a focus on the family.  Maybe it's because my family is becoming excited about Spring Break next week...maybe it's because the families in the church that I serve are excited that it is their Spring Break this week...maybe, just maybe it's because I am officiating a wedding this coming Saturday.  Regardless why, family is the focus!

It's funny how I get crazy because my family doesn't value the same things I was made (or inspired) to value a child.  I'm not going to share an itemized list, because my family is tired of hearing it!  But, I will say it is a great list!

Regardless of why something, or what, makes the is of importance to me.  Regardless of my negativity...I have to admit that, as a family, we do some things that even my mom or dad would rate important.  They would be things that we do well that would make my mom and dad's list of family doxologies.

For instance, we gather in the sun on the porch. Our porch is a sacred place.  It is a place that I work on sailing knots; it is where our Hot Tub rest; it is where I chew on my daughters when they've done something bonehead; it is a place where I watch Shannon doze off to sleep; it's where we watch T.V.; and it's where I read and prepare for sermons.  My daughters will look back on our porch as a place where "family" happens.

The cool thing is it's not just temperature specific...meaning, we extend the life of "the porch" by putting up plastic walls for the cool parts of the year.  It's sacred, right, so you do your best to exalt it or treat it as such!  The family is worth it!

I think today our families forget the importance of "the family!"  We have fathers do stupid teenager stuff.  We have mothers...acting like they are cast for the movie "Mean Girls".  Sometimes I wonder if  life is so easy that we do not bond as a family...we take family for granted.  We charge more than we should...we go out to eat more than we should...we live in a house better than we should, and we do all of these thinking that it will make our family better!  Wow!  Why don't we just invest all that money, energy, and time in our families?

Why don't we just make our porch fit our families?  Today's doxology is our family's back where life happens, and where it happens more abundantly.  Here are a few pictures of ours.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ottoman Joy

Day 29 Doxology:  So many times I know where I'm going before I start to share the highlight of my day, but today I don't. So, If I start to ramble...well, I'm a dad!

There are moments as a parent when you think..."can I have a do-over?"  In fact, most ever day I think that is my response.  However, sometimes a parent can hit the sweet spot.  Tonight, I witnessed that "sweet spot", and this is where it happened.

Tonight, one of my three daughters experienced somethng in their life that demanded her mom's advice.  This brings about two obvious joys outside the fact that God allowed me to witness this sacred moment.  First, my daughter cared and had confidence enough in their mom to share their concern or hurt...(I will never get tired of this fact!).  Second, by their action they admit that somehow their mom got it right in life.  This is where I share in this gloating moment.

Dadship, as it turns out, is hard.  More times than not, I go to bed wishing I hadn't said this, or I wished I had said that.  To sum it up, I'm always second guessing myself, except tonight.

The ottoman pictured is the place that my daughter sat to share, ask, and receive advice of her current situation.  The fist-pumps (not pictured) are not as a result that my daughter was struggling with a certain issue, but that she wanted to ask our (her mom's) advice.  What a moment of exuberant joy!

How great would it be if we were all so confident in our relationship with our Heavenly Father that reproduced such an image? What if we wouldn't pause with a moment of concern to sit on an ottoman before God and share?  Today, the church is full of families that get upset at others, doctrine, or programs mainly because they fail to pause and seek counsel with God.  Today, I pray for our Church (universal) because I'm excited about my family! Praise be to God for every joy I've experienced as a dad and pastor!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Children Nuggets

Day 26 Doxology: God sent me nuggets of rich blessings throughout my day.

At some point during my day J-1 sent me an awesome picture of her having a great time at the beach for her Spring Break.  When I saw the picture, I stopped what I was doing, and gave thanks to God that her college "Spring Break" and her father's is separated by more than just years.  At the top of my Doxology is my thanks that's she is a much better person than I am and such a head start on life, and with that, the blessings God is ready to bestow on her.

To end my day it was all about the children.  As a church, we pack bags for a ministry called Blessings in a Backpack at a local elementary school.  Our families always bring their children teaching them to serve.  They are always so much fun and are surprisingly great help.

The truth is simple...this was a day of our children.  Whether it is my child, the churches children, or the children that are waiting on the bags we packed with food for their weekend. I am reminded that God said bring the children to me.  When you fills your day with Doxology moments.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pisssssst, Here I Am

Day 25 Doxology: How many times have you looked at something, and it's the same something that you've seen a hundred times before. Yet, when you see warms you.

Today, this evening late, I had a moment like I just described.  It was long overdue.

I spent the entire day staring at books or a computer with an assortment of phone calls and text, I looked everywhere and nothing warmed my heart like I just described until the day slowed down.  

God does that you know -tries to get our attention and we won't let Him in.  I read scripture (God's Word alive and fluid), I read commentaries (theologian's expressions of God when I cannot find the words), phone calls and text (from the people God has called me to serve and share in their every moment of life), and it wasn't until I quit trying so hard that I could use all my senses to pinpoint God that I found Him.

This image is not a special "ahah" moment of brilliant colors that takes your breath (Although it is a beautiful contrast of colors)'s picture is the picture of a whisper.  God whispering to get my attention by saying, "Pisssssst, here I am..."  Thinking about it at this moment warms my heart.  

Don't waste a minute of your day looking but not seeing!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Doxology Residue

Day 23 Doxology: Tonight I have left-over thoughts from this weekend.  My aging daughter...the daughter that was a youth being baptized yesterday and a college student today is growing up.  So, today's doxology is for you, and it is a reminder that you have a small amount of time to make a difference to with your child.  Life goes by, and all you have are memories -good or bad.

The joke is in our family that we can't get J-1 to come home from college.  Well, as luck would have it, this week was spring break for the U of A, and they closed her dorm and I guess ( I wonder if) all she had was home.  She drove in on Friday and was gone again Saturday.  The call today was she stopped off in T-Town for fresh clothes and dinner with friends.  She then jumped into the car for a stop at Ole Miss then on to Memphis with friends.  She is planning a trip to the beach to close out the week.  She is visiting friends that she studied with in Oxford, England.

I was talking to a neighbor today telling him about J-1's plans for Soring Break, and he said, "Oh, to be young again!"

I thought about our conversation when I left his house and I agree...Oh what it would be to be young!  But not young and in college...a "young" parent!

To go back and do parenting again would be giving...guilt relieving.  What if we could do things better, and it's not too late?  Would you act on your convictions?

This picture is a picture that even 4 days later is my Doxology moment!  I would change this moment for nothing except to add J-2.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Many Doxologies in One Day!

Day 21 Doxology:  I really don't know where to begin...however, there seems to be a theme.

Today is usually a day off working on stuff that has been put off -sermons, phone calls, emails, statistical data, healing hearts, calling families, visitation, etc., etc.  There is always much to do.  Today had a different flavor.

It started around lunch.  A class in our daycare climbed all over me while they shared more than you would care to know.  Then I made a few heart warming calls as I drove home.  Just before I pulled in the driveway, I was forced to pause because J-1 pulled in just before me.  Yeah, my oldest daughter is home form college!

As I celebrated J-1, J-3 slept on the couch preparing for the Friday night she would give up to work.  I am constantly reminded that each of my daughters have great work ethics...Then in the dust of a thumping bass, here comes J-2.  The windows down and "peace signs" waving as she pulled into the garage driving her mom's Yukon.  Then great joy as she jumped into the car of a friend headed to the senior-high basketball game, but not before a show of talent for her mom and the neighborhood.  All my girls are home; life is good!

I love my girls! I really love that each girl is unique beyond description.  Each girl brings their own unique characteristic to share in one joyous Friday night -A God-is-good moment!

I am reminded that today's Doxology started with a class of our daycare's finest.  They sang and danced as they shared what they've been taught.  I then went home, and I felt great joy from my own children.  It became clear to me the next generation and the generation beyond are the fruits of our best work! 

I pray that we remember the joy we all share in teaching those that God has trusted in our care...I can't think of a greater expression of our's and God's love!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lenten Discipline Doxology

Day 20 Doxology: Today's Doxology was a very unexpected surprise.  In today's mail was a card that express things like appreciation, gratitude, recognition, service, prayer, thankfulness, and my personal favorite...friendship.  Both Shannon and I were humbled to say the least.

There is another Doxology beyond the obvious.  What I realized, after the initial surprise, was Lent matters.  I talked to the person with the purple pen and incredible handwriting to say thanks...their response was it was their Lenten Discipline.  40 days and 40 that's what I'm talking about!

As a pastor, you pray for moments like these.  Someone in your congregation participates in certain disciplines that connect them to God...and what they feel is God.  And, as a pastor, I'm thinking that if I can get people in my congregation to feel will stick!  Because, I believe there is not another feeling like it in this world!  When it sticks...bridges are built, healing begins, and lives are restored.  The past is forgotten, and yes forgiven, and hope for the future lights all the dark spaces of our lives.  I believe that feeling then becomes contagious!

So, this Lenten Doxology was because of a Lenten Discipline of another...And, I pray that because I shared it with you...the gift continues.  My only concern is why am I only 20th on this person's list?  I guess I'll admit...I'm just happy to be on the list!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Real Doxology Blessing

Day 19 Doxology:  I have jumped through many hoops today.  I saved roughly $4,300 on our copier bill; another, $70 a month on our phone service (Ok, Amy actually did that, but I had to hang up on Rodrigues! -Actually, I didn't even do that, but I was in the room!); I visited a family before and after a funeral service; and I had a very productive meeting with a very good daycare director that has worked very hard to keep us in the black this year!!! and !  I ran the gamut on hoop jumping today at work!

Focus -the bottom line for today's Doxology is simple...I did a lot of several different things -some productive and some not!  Regardless, my greatest productive day's Doxology is clear!  When I got home from church, around 8:30ish, I spent time with my wife, conversed with J-2, said an abbreviated "hi" to J-3, and talked with J-1 on the phone about several things including "Doctor Who"!  I could hear the excitement in her voice. 

Regardless of the reason for her excitement, it reminded me of an old Coach Bryant, AT&T commercial from years ago..."Have you called your Momma today?...I wished I could!" 

The connection between child and parent is today's Doxology.  If you are a parent, I pray you are patient.  If you are a son, or daughter, and can call mom or it!  It doesn't have to be about "Doctor Who" has to be about you!

Today's Doxology picture is an after-the-fact image, but it's really a window into a parent soaking up the moment when God's blessing rained down!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Imagined Imagery

Day 18 Doxology: I know how much you love waiting to see what today's image will be that reflects my day's doxology...So, let me begin by NOT apologizing for what I am about to NOT share.  You will have to imagine today's doxology.

Tonight I joined members of my church and members from other churches in my community in an extended period of praise through song, word, prayer, and Sacrament.  I was asked to help serve Holy Communion, and though Holy Communion is always special...tonight, it was more special than usual.

The line was near it's end when a 3 member family (a mom, a dad, and a special needs son) came from a different direction to receive.  The mom, humbly received the "Body (bread)" and reverently dipped it in the "Blood (juice)".  Then watching the mom, she instinctually put the juice-soaked bread in her mouth then pulled out a morsel to feed her son.  She placed Jesus just inside his lips to be gobbled up.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude for witnessing this moment.

How many times have I served Communion?  How many times have I received Communion?  Tonight God, through the nurturing love of a mom, gave me an understanding of Holy Communion in a way I've never imagine possible.  I will draw on that imagery for years to come.

In a a large way, God softens Communion for us.  I fear if we were tried to partake of Holy Communion in its true might be more than we can handle -too much "body"; more than we can chew.  Too much "blood"; we might get choked.  The consistency has to be just right for our palette!  And who would know that consistency best...only a mom; only a Father!

So, tonight I only offer this imagined imagery for you to chew on...I pray Holy Communion becomes more special than ever for you this Easter.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Hope to Come

Day 17 Doxology:  Sometimes there are few, if any, things that move us.  You are probably thinking..."This is the best that Jones is got for his doxology?"  Just be patient!

For my 21 days of Prayer and Fast that started my 2015, I was revived and inspired the way God was faithfully rebirthing that person that I thought I had lost a long time ago.  This post may seem trite or insignificant, but for me, it is the enthusiasm of the hope to come.

Do you remember when you were a child how the night before Christmas was so crazy that you had a hard time getting to sleep?  You looked to the future with the enthusiasm of hope for what is (was) to come.  You never put it in those was usually "I can't wait to shoot the 22 rifle that Santa Clause will bring...I can't wait to ride the bicycle that Santa will deliver!"  It is the excitement that comes with the hope of a new and different future...A better future for yourself and others.

Lately, I've moved from the person that experienced overwhelming joy through my 21 days of Prayer and Fast.  Tonight, I gained a little of that back.  I watched (for a 2nd time) a documentary called Forks Over Knives, and I became excited and the enthusasitic hope to come. If you haven't watched it, please do.

In addition/ closing, it made me think of how many people come to the church looking (searching!) for that same feeling I've been trying to describe -the unbridled enthusiasm of the hope to come.  For many, the hope is acceptance and love -two feelings they've never felt not even from family.  If the church can't be that conduit for God's hope for the future...what hope is there?   To God be the glory!

Friday, March 6, 2015

All Our Senses!

Day 5 Doxology:  Wow!  Day 15 of my 40 days of doxology moments and today's came through the backdoor.

Funny how the weather makes me oblivious to my doxology moments...So selfishly, I missed yesterday.  Then today God sparked all my senses to remind me of His' glory.  If you are a parent...can you remember how God has been a part of your life through your children?  I mean really a part of your life?  Like the smell of the top of the barn when they're playing, or the sweat from a blanket underneath a saddle when they're riding.  What about the thickness of a pasture being turned then baled as they sit in your lap driving terribly?  Our memories touch all of our senses!

Today, my eyes waters as I closed a conversation with J-1.  Her "today" ended an assignation game played with her 130-150 R.U.F group...her faith-based peers.  When I talked to her earlier she mentioned that if she could complete today's classes then her advisor session and make it back to her dorm room the worst she could do is tie (Even though in Alabama that is like kissing her sister) -there was J-1 and one other left. And, the best I understood was she couldn't assonate the remaining contestant -that meant "stealth" was the utmost priority!  So, she made her way through class and sealed herself in her dorm to close out the game.  A well played planned that advanced her to the next round!  Great job Jonesy, but that is not today's doxology...

Today's doxology is the sensitivity to the senses...mainly, the senses of a father's memories.  When J-1 was a wee-little girl.  She world do this thing with her lips and nose that we dubbed the "Bitter Beer Face"!  During that time a Keystone Light Beer commercial was on T.V. and the advertisement slogan was, "Don't you Drink No Bitter Beer...Drink a Better Beer!"  J-1 would mimic the face of the bitter beer drinking actor and we (her mom and I) would dub the face "the Bitter Beer Face!"  We laughed and she'd performed!

Tonight, after advancing to the next round, she gave me a mature version of the "Bitter Beer Face"...a gift and today's doxology a result...all my senses of her youth are alive!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Time of Real Sharing

Day 13 Doxology:  Admittedly, I do not have a picture for today's Doxology, but I can offer Numbers 6:24-26 in place of today's picture and ask you to draw your own image of my evening:

25                                      [May] The Lord bless you and keep you; 
                                     [May] The Lord make His face shine upon you,
                                                    And be gracious to you;
26                                      [May] The Lord lift up His onttenance upon you,
                                                    And give you peace.

This is the prayer that is shared at the close of every Youth event! And tonight...I was able to share in that prayer with our own youth!

Different from more recent nights in the past, I led the youth in supply as our community of faith's "Youth Leader" was activated with the National Guard -serving both community and country.  It was a time of blessing for me more than them for sure! It was a time reliving days gone by when I led my own youth group and the bond was tighter than I deserved!  It was a special time in my life to say the least!  Tonight, well, reminded me of God's blessings-our Youth!

We started with real images of the cross. Then a description of the meaning of the cross for Christianity as whole, then the cross's meaning for each of us personally.  Next, we discussed "Cheap Grace" as described by Bonhoeffer...then a generous portion of bonding testimony-realizing each of us has a PERSONAL story.  We closed with my favorite Scripture and a request to hear was, without a shadow of doubt, today's Doxology moment as I heard amazing articulation and how God has touched each heart!  I love our youth, and I love the challenge I put before them...because Grace without the cross...well, it is simple "Cheap Grace"!   Let the revival begin!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

PART-ail Family Night

Day 12 Doxology:  It's late so I'll be brief!  Lately, we have made it a point to cherish family moments.  That seems incredibly hard with J-1 away at college; J-2 planning college; J-3 winning 3rd in the county with her award winning Pecan Pie, but we feel so strongly that our time (as parents) is slipping away that we are scratching and clawing to make every moment count!

Yesterday, I told the girls that I was taking them out tonight, and I didn't say where or what we would be doing.  It was amazing how excited they were just knowing that they were going to be my focus for the night.  So, tonight came, and they rushed home and got ready for some sweet daddy time with his wallet open!

I had planned a movie (McFarland U.S.A), and dinner.  By the time they (everyone, but me) changed all of my plans we ended up with a daddy date at Buffalo Wild Wings minus the movie!  Here is the deal...the night was partial on so many levels...partial daughters, partial plans, partial meal, partial weather!  What was not "partial" was the joy of a thankful dad enjoying every FULL moment of the night!  We will do this again, I'm certain!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Legit Doxology

Day 11 Doxology:  What a day paying attention to sweet moments of praise to God...My day started with my elliptical workout then, of course prayer, and then next a very personal devotional from Jennifer Giddens (2015 Lenten Devotional).  Then, I encountered a fruitful bible study on the book of Roman's this morning at the District office.  It came to a close with precious, and much coveted, time with the family.

As a father of three girls...seldom, do I get to have one of my daughter tell me that they want "legit "Mom's" spaghetti" -my eye's watering thinking about the significance!  My heart was "strangely warm".

Nevertheless, Supper with...not three...not two...but, one of my daughters and her mom landed the greatest moment of the day!  No college talk...not, "do the clothes!"...not, "turn out your lights" or "clean your room!"  The pinnacle of my doxology day came from time spent eagerly waiting on the much coveted family-time watching the bachelor -Don't judge -house full of women!

So here's the deal...this weekend, I mentioned that I had a difficult time seeing God after being cooped up with the family because of all the snow...what was I thinking!  As a father, I crave for those moments...I pray for those moments!  I was reminded that my doxology moments were valued and help others see their own doxologies from a caring person.  In fact, if it had not been Sunday (mini Easters and not included in Lent), I would have screamed from the rooftops how much this person was Christ to me and thereby landing doxology "top honors!"  If by chance you are reading this...may God bless you!

Still...legit homemade spaghetti plus one-on-one time with your daughter and your wife...really?  What would your doxology moment be?  If your asking me...take the time!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

All Dressed Up...

The month and a half we have been confined to the house watching reruns of West Wing while precip rains down outside.  I loved West Wing the first time...the second time...let's just say I'm a little tired of the Dem's White Hiuse control during the 1999-2002 seasons.  Maybe, I'm just tired of eating and being confined to the house.

Today, I burst from the house to roll snow in a ball as J-3 shaped the snow into Frosty.  Today's Doxology is the promise of tomorrow.  However, I join so many Alabamain's with cabin fever and the over-pressing feeling that we are "All Dressed Up With No Place To Go" a lot like Frosty, but even Frosty will soon be gone. Good!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Unbridled Joy

Day 7 Doxology:  I'm posting today's Doxology from my phone...So, there should be an error curve!

Today, as can be imagined, precip has a part to play in my Doxology moment.  However, as exciting as 5+ inches of winter-bliss can be for is the joy of a teenager that makes me smile the most!

It has been years since I sang the song based on Nehemiah 8, "The joy of the LORD is my strength."  However, for some spirit-filled moment, I thought of it today.  My daughters made me think of God in a way that I had forgotten.

As the snow came down Jamie and Jessie's excitement grew exponentially...while Jackie was Alabama only receiving rain in disappointment.  It made me we have the same excitement about life and does God receive so much joy witnessing our excitement?  Sometimes, as a parent, my greatest joy is knowing my children are exceedingly happy!  This snow has brought me great joy, but for reasons you can't imagine...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Jalapeño Life

Day 6 Doxology:  This doxology recant really is a moment of my life that happens over and over.  Before I really is an extension of Pam Gilliland's Lenten Devotion if you're keeping score...Accord to Pam and Psalm 105 our mind is to seek God's face always!  This is convenient at times and inconvinent at other times...other than that, it is advised...

The problem of seeing God is recognizing God in the smallest of things.  Sometimes it means a blurring of God verses Us.

I argue that God can be found in the smallest of every action...tonight, I witnessed a transition...just like the transition God saw in me- a chance to spice things up a bit!

Tonigh,t my family witnesses an act that they have witnessed many times...I cut jalapeños for my hummus.  Like me, there was an old unspiced me...then there was life and flavor!  God is our spice of life and we don't need to "stake our happiness on people and things but on the presence of God in our life!"  Thank you Pam for the reminder...

Doxology Delayed

Day 5 Doxology (Delayed): What a day!  Have you had one of those days when you witnessed God at work throughout the day, but you seldom paused to acknowledge the splendor of the moment?  That was yesterday -sadly.

The testimony is simple...we can be doing everything we can to call out the good and perfect will of God at work throughout our day and even miss the opportunity to stop and give praise.  You could write a blog during Lent with the sole purpose of pausing, describing, and sharing God's praise moments and fail.  The testimony of the human condition is that we attempt to do the will of God and our humanism becomes dominant -sad!

I spent my day doing "the next thing".  You know, the day where you feel like your constantly trying to catch up.  A day when you make the most of that a day and part of the human condition spills over into the next.  That was my day.

After a few meetings, phone calls, paperwork and paperwork (not a typo), administrative council prep, administrative council meeting, and drive home before reading 200 pages of a book that was for a morning meeting with the day spilled over into the next.  In fact when it came to a close...I thought it was a true doxology not even thinking about taking the time to write my doxology moment.  So, my doxology from yesterday really happened this morning when I went to bed knowing that God would still love me even if I didn't post my moment of praise.

I recognize that this is not that touchy-feely post that you were hoping for, but it dawned on me that so much of life isn't.  Life happens and consumes more of us than we can give before God can regain our attention.  This is a picture of the moment of praise in question....and not a second too late!  That is one "Sharp" clock!

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Day 4 Doxology: God has really been showing me the growth of His people lately...Maybe not in myself based on yesterday's Doxology post, but certainly in others!

Have you noticed that our youth today jumble their communication with the over-use of like?  It makes my daughters steam when I stop them mid-sentence because of their like abuse!  Today I watched many from The Summit spend their freezing-wet Saturday in service.  As I watched them run around like little worker bees I said to myself...I Like It!  If you'll noticed I used the like correctly in the sentence.

I serve two churches -Julia Street Memorial UMC , Boaz, Alabama and The Summit UMC, Albertville, Alabama separated by only a few miles.  Julia Street has for years operated a Food Pantry on the 3rd Saturday of each month (Today) as a ministry to our communities.  Sometimes we serve up to 300 plus people an average of 130 families.  Today, because of the frozen roads we only served 37 families.  In fact, we almost had more help than we had people that needed help.

The Summit UMC is a relatively new church with young families learning how to be disciples (Not that Julia Street has it figured out), but then again aren't we all?  We have a growing children's ministry with an intentional curriculum that builds on the previous year learning.  We are learning our DNA for small groups and finding how to get more and more of our families involved.   Sometimes it seems like it is harder than it should be.  We are in the process of altering our missions/ outreach team to put more of the personal heartbeat for missions/ outreach within the small groups.  We found this adds to the intimacy and connectivity of the group in service.  One of our Summit Small Groups have partnered with Julia Street and pumped life back into an exhausted ministry.  They are today's doxology as they worked tirelessly, on a frozen Saturday when most people wanted stay home, to serve both another church and people in the community in need!  It's LIKE the Church!

Friday, February 20, 2015


Day 3 Doxology:  Sometimes the things we think, do, and say are backwards.  This morning, I was 5 minutes late meeting my friend at the Gym for our elliptical workout (at 5:25am what's five minutes, right?).  We usually set up our machine for 45mins with a 5 minute cool-down.  Since I was running late, Tracy told me to set up for a 43 minute workout and "try to catch up!"

The background is simple...I always beat her on calories burned (Because, I'm fatter than she is), and she manages to beat me on distance.  To bang out 4 miles is good for her, and I typically reach 3.8 or 3.9 never making the much coveted "4 miles"...until today!

Tracy went 50 minutes for 4.2 miles -not her best, but good even by her standards.  I went 48 minutes for 4.56 mile...that was 4.56!  She was completely broken hearted not knowing how I could have beat her on distance and in less time...that was in less time!  I simply told her "God is good!"  I didn't hear her say, "All the time!"

It's funny I know, now that I have reach premier-athlete status, that I can now point to heaven and say, "To God be the Glory!"  I never remember looking over at Tracy's screen for her mileage and say, "Thank you Jesus for letting this mother of 3 boys beat my brains in on this elliptical!"  It just seems that I'm backwards in my thinking or thanking!

You might be asking, "So, where is the doxology?"

After lunch I stopped by Walmart (This is not an advertisement) before heading home.  After getting out of my car, I noticed Tracy's Ford something or other with the dust covered rear window!  Here comes the doxology moment...I stood at the back of her car/SUV and raised both hands to GOD and sang "God is so good, God is so good!"  I caught a full stare by more than one person.  You see, I correctly gave God thanks "before" the blessing was received...I had learned my lesson from this morning!  With the tip of my pointer finger covered in road film I continued to whistle with joy!  This is the image of why I sang praises to God and why this moment became my 3rd Lenten doxology of 2015.

I won't share with you the text she sent after heading home!  Even our smallest of blessings can be backwards!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Show Us The Way

Day 2 Doxology: Today's doxology moment is a no-brainer.  This little girl is Christ to me.  She always makes me feel like I am so special.  Isn't that what Christ does?  Maybe not when we first meet Him.  Not at first...when we see that we are not who we can be (should be), but after we are in His presence for a while.  We learn that we can do anything.

We can overcome addictions, we can mend broken relationships, we can repair most anything that we've worked so hard to destroy.  Christ is more than a carpenter...He is the reminder of all things that are important -to love like a child!

I think I want to be more like this little angel that smiles at me when she sees me from her class, laughs at my jokes, and doesn't see my imperfections.  Because she reminds me that David Wilcox wrote a song that said, "Though in this darkness love can show the way."  If life was a would be the main has to be the main character in the play of life!  Wouldn't you agree?  It's time to be the church to the world -love like a child!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Heebie Jeebies

Day 1 Doxology:  Another year of doxology discipline....and I can't think of another way to begin my 40 days of doxologies than with Ash Wednesday -a doxology within a doxology.  I worry if I can fully share my thoughts to relay how humble I feel to be a part of this growing Summit tradition.  However, I have to try.

After the Greeting, Scripture, Homily, Invitation To The Observation Of Lenten Discipline, Thanksgiving Over The Ashes, then Imposition of Ashes (Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return!) I returned next to my wife for a closing hymn. Looking at our Praise Team lead us in the final hymn, I couldn't help but notice the mark of Ash Wednesday on their foreheads.  I just felt so thankful that we would always be linked because of what we share and have shared together.  The same Christ that saves brought me to The Summit to love all over my Summit brothers and sisters.  How could I have experienced the last 5 years any other way?  I will never forget that picture, and so many others, that shares the essence of life within the church -Doxology Day 1a!

Day 1b Doxology:  As I stopped singing and soaked up every minute of what I was seeing...I looked down at my hands.  I was overwhelmed with compassion for my church family and God.  God, because He would trust me enough to represent Him to His people.  My church family, because they trusted me enough to share in this moment.

After our Ash Wednesday Service I spent some time talking with good friends.  We laughed together as "Sweet K" issued a Public Service Announcement: it was incredibly hard for her to let someone put anything on her face, let alone Ashes!  I laughed slightly and told her how impressed I was that she trusted me enough to receive her cross.  What I didn't share was I know exactly how she feels.

It is so hard for me, for a lack of better words, to have my hands dirty.  Before you point and yell "Pretty Boy," hear me out!  It's hard for me to imagine digging in dirt with just my hands...all I can think of is fingernails clawing in dirt.  Weird, I know but very real nevertheless!  So, to the doxology point...the common denominator is Jesus!

"Sweet K" was willing to fight through her heebie jeebies for some Jesus, and I was willing to fight through my heebie jeebies to share some Jesus!  So, I guess the doxology bottom line is boundaries can be overcome with some Jesus -a great lesson for the world if only they will listen!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Finishing Well

Day 21, whew!  I could think of several ways to celebrate the end of 21 days of Prayer and Fast.  I could end with a pork-ish breakfast complete with biscuits and gravy; maybe even chocolate syrup?  Or, I could end well.

For me ending well would be to complete the discipline I've gained over the past 21 days.  After all...isn't that what discipleship is about?  Discipleship is a process of growing in Christ...trying time and again to build on the disciplines that help me become more like Christ in every area of my life.  For was living in the world and not being of the world.  I celebrate the last 21 days and kick myself for not doing it sooner.

So, with that said, to finish well means that I end it like I started -working out and eating well while engaging in some serious prayer.  This morning I celebrated the end of 21 days with 1 hour on the elliptical, after my morning prayers.  It's funny because next week is a clergy Prayer Summit at Camp Sumatanga -Monday thru Wednesday.  And, usually I treat it at a chance to get back to Spiritual Disciplines, however, this year I go into with a different perspective.  Instead it being a starting point, I am treating it as another way to finish well.

I pray that you have gained increased confidence in the way you are able to finish the race.  I am reminded of 1 Cor. 9:25, "Everyone who competes in the game goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."  Life is not a sprint, I'm not sure it can be compared to a marathon...but one thing for certain, it is potentially timeless IF you finish well!  Well done thy good and faithful servant.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Just in the Nick of Time!

Well, we are nearing the end of our churches 21 days of Prayer and Fast, and I've never felt better!  I can never forget that to gain is to lose.  What I've been reminded is to gain that greater connection to God that I so desperately needed, I had to disconnect from the world.  The last 20 days (soon to be 21) provided that opportunity for me.

My Tabernacle Prayers each morning were saturated with the faces of my congregation.  I caught myself envisioning where each family sat, but after a couple weeks of prayer I noticed something odd.  Each time I prayed for my friends and family...I noticed each person was smiling...was happy.  Now I don't have to tell you that the church isn't some Pollyanna world were everyone auditions as Stepford Wives.  We, the Church, attract the broken...Jesus attacks the broken.

The truth is I had forgotten how beautiful our congregation is while connected to God-my prayers reminded me!  I forgot how my vision for God's beauty is impaired while connected to the world.  For us to be the church, we have to learn to not think as the world thinks...for us to mend the broken memories of our past, we have to be connected to the one who created life.  Jesus speaks to us in a conversation with His disciples, "...Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life, will lose it, but whoever will lose their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?..." (Matthew 16:24-26)

For me and the ministry I share with my church and start this new year with 21 days of Prayer and Fast came just in the nick of time! "May the Lord bless you and keep you."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 Gone...Working on 4!

Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 are in the I'm working on my 4th day of my 21 Days of Prayer and Fast.  The 2nd and 3rd day were draining.  I had the feeling of being washed out.  Although I was fighting for motivation, God knew my needs.  At different times throughout the 2nd and 3rd days I would read something priceless; I would pray something inspiring; I would gain greater confidence as  I separated myself from the world.  I truly believe it is a connection thing!

I am reminded of my connection as God spoke to me multiply times throughout the drain of the 1st 3 days of this lengthy prayer and fast.  Replaying in my mind (in my own voice) was...greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)  Mainly, my greatest victory comes from my adoption by God, and everything beyond God choosing me fails in comparison (regardless the level of importance I place on the difficulty!).  I Love the way The Message puts it...My dear Children, you come from God and belong to God.  You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far greater than anything in the world.  My lack of personal prayer, and my attachment to large quantities of unhealthy food is based on my connection to the world and all the world teaches.  Greater is any part of God that is in me than anything that is in the world -Thanks be to God!

Maybe my attraction to The Message's interpretation is based on the reference to the Spirit in me is greater than anything in the world.  Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to support us for a task that we couldn't complete on our own.  When Jesus gave us our mission statement, He told His disciples to hold up in a room until the Spirit fell upon them.  They did and It did...then the church was born!  I pray for that kind of revival for our church...for The Church.  It will happen when we remember greater is He that is in [me], then he that is in the world.

To reach some kind of conclusion in my excitement, I realize the day is still young.  However, this morning, I am encouraged and strengthened because I awoke fresh and allergy free and ready for my 3rd consecutive day at The Gym (5 out of the last 7 days). Whatever the remaining part of my busy day started and will end with God.  Our church's commitment to 21 Days of Prayer and Fast might just be what God wanted for us -Confident Connection! Again, Thanks Be To God!