I had a "Giant Cavernous Aneurysm" behind my left eye. I went to Dallas for surgery and it was killed...however post op my eye is unresponsive. It is if I am looking out of a steamy shower door. Some days it is better than others. Please pray that my sight will be restored. God has been putting words on my heart that I feel I must put on paper. The following thoughts are those I feel that the Lord is speaking to me lately. Enjoy.

November 29, 2005

Luke warming up by the fire

November 27, 2005

Fresh Cut Christmas Tree

Today was a blast! We went to the Black Forest to find our Christmas Tree. We ended up with a 13 foot Blue Spruce...and it only costs $30.00. The boys had a great time...except the fact that the wind chill was in the teens.

November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful day. Our day started off with the annual Focus on the Family Turkey Bowl. About 25 guys from Focus, including Jim Daly, Focus' President and CEO came together for a good old fashioned game of flag football. What a blast! Daly was a quarterback in college, and man was I impressed. The guy has a rocket for an arm. There were no groin strains or hamstring pulls...so that, in and of itself was a great start to Thanksgiving.

Our family did something we have never done. We went to the Salvation Army to "bless" those who were disadvantaged. Per usual, God had a different plan. We got there and immediately sat down with a wonderful older couple. Mel and Grace, who are 79, lived only a few blocks away. Our boys interacted with them and really made them smile. They live in the Springs, but have no family here. Grace kept crying during the meal and told us that God must have sent us. We had been home from the shelter for only a couple of hours and received a call from their daughter in Mexico, who is a missionary there. She extended her heartfelt thanks for reaching out to her parents, and told us that she has prayed for a family who could help care for her elderly parents. Again, how could this day get better?

Then, this afternoon, our dear friends Ken and Meredith Norwood came over with their 3 boys...all three the exact same age as ours. Ken and I started at Focus on the exact same date, and we both moved our families out to Colorado not knowing a soul. God has really knit our hearts together. We shared the most incredible Thanksgiving day meal together. We joked that we kind of felt grown up...having our very first Thanksgiving away from the comfort of home.

I missed being with our families back in Texas. However, I thank God that He gave us a wonderful day.

November 23, 2005

Nate The Great...Sweaty Lion

November 22, 2005

Making The Boys A Log Cabin

November 21, 2005

My Sweet Wife and Her Sweet Sisters

November 20, 2005

Paul Harvey's Prayer

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.

So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

"But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue.

Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all othersbetter than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome ..

"But what about the atheists?" is another argument.

What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep.

Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well ... just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard ... that the vast majority don't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, you don'thave to pray; you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance;you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right. But by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back ... and we WILL WIN!

God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce Him. God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all.

God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

May 2005 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of ourfamilies and institutions.

Keep looking up!

November 13, 2005

Milk Is Overrated

I just left my 5 year old’s bedside. We shared our usual nightly routine. We read a story from Sticky Situations, a book that describes a story with an ethical dilemma. At the conclusion of the story, five possible answers are given to choose from. Only one is correct. There is only one obvious answer. The others are completely out of the realm of possibility, and when Luke guesses it correctly, his eyes light up as if he just discovered the theory of relativity. Tonight was no different.

We finished our nightly sticky situation and our prayers, and I told him how proud of him I was. This morning he woke up (before everyone else in the house…per usual) and got himself dressed, brushed his teeth and quietly exited his room. He usually slams the door and wakes up his two other brothers upstairs. This was the first morning where he really put all of the pieces together.

He beamed with pride when I told him how proud I was of him. However, he was quick to point out that I had not mentioned his greatest accomplishment of the early morning. He said, “Dad, I even woke up this morning and told myself this was going to be a great day. I told myself and God that I would only hurt Nate one time today. And that was all I did…just once.”

I busted at the seam. I could not stop laughing. His morning devotional with God consisted of a conversation saying that he would only hurt his three year old brother once. If during the course of the day Luke only hurt Nate once, he has officially made progress.

Following Christ is a progression. That’s why the Bible compares metaphorically those beginning their journey with Christ to babies beginning their journey with life. “Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” I love this imagery. Those who begin their journey of faith with the Lord begin with a childlike faith. Each day bringing with it new and exciting revelations. With each revelation comes a deepening of faith. Deepening our faith instills a better knowledge of our Creator. The more intimately we know our Lord, the quicker we move from milk to Cheerios to hotdogs to steak. And how sweet the steak tastes when we begin to better understand our Father…our Abba.

Luke is on a journey. In his world, progress is measured by the amount of times he hurts his younger brother. He is taking steps forward, and I’m proud of him.

I am on a similar journey. In my world, progress is measured by the amount of meat consumed during a day. Some days I feel like I should be drinking from a bottle…diapers and all. But by God’s grace, I find myself bellying up to the bar eating steak more and more.

This life is a journey. As we walk down the road with Christ by our side, we long to consume meat. How would you like it cooked, medium or well? Grow up, milk is overrated.

November 10, 2005

City Of Angels

“Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it...Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13: 2, 8

Consider this verse for a second. Do you find it absolutely amazing, as I do, that within the same thought, we are told that there are angels among us, and our world is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow? Our God has not changed. Perhaps, there really are angels among us.

Imagine comforting the one who no one else wants to comfort. You know the one..the disfigured, the lonely or the one whom everyone else looks away from when they walk near. You might be showing grace to one of God’s finest.

Imagine offering to pay a dollar for the guy in front of you in line at the store who comes up short at the register. You might have just loaned a buck to an angel.

Imagine taking your family to the local shelter to feed the homeless. While modeling for your family the concept of true service, you just might be serving an angel sent by God Himself.

Imagine, instead of judging the man standing with crutches at the traffic light asking for money, you actually blessed him. Is it feasible that maybe, just maybe you might have just passed the test given to you by our Maker?

I believe you have. If you fully believe the Bible, and you truly trust that our God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, this concept will transform the way you view servant hood. The way in which you treat others will forever be changed. Your newfound hospitality will revolutionize your world.

Today, as you travel, search out those whom you can bless. Pray that God will put people in your path that need a touch; you just might be touching Heaven…literally.

But what if one day it’s revealed that out of all of those people you served on this tiny blue planet, none were actually angels. None were sent from Heaven to test your hearing as the Spirit gently whispers to you. Does it really matter? Again, if we believe the truths of scripture, Jesus says it does matter. He says “I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

Lord, I pray today you allow me to share my time, my resources, and my talents with those who need a touch from you. Lord, if you choose to put in front of me angels from Heaven, or a con artist on a corner, let it be no different…because in Your eyes it is not. You call me to serve and to love those around me unconditionally. Thank you for trusting me to be your hands and your feet, as I travel this world. I accept the challenge.

November 07, 2005

Back By Popular Demand

What Do You Mean; “Do I Want To Be Healed?”

Perhaps one of the strangest questions asked in Christ’s 33 years. Since 8 years before Jesus was born, this paralytic man laid beside this pool…waiting. As the angel stirs the waters, phrases such as “First one in is a rotten egg” were not heard around the Jerusalem poolside. The first one in was healed. For 38 long years this guy was slow on the draw.

So, Jesus showed up and asked this guy, “Do you want to be made well?” This seems like a loaded question. The man immediately replied, “OF COURSE!” Or, at least you would have thought that. He never said “yes.” Can you believe it, he never said “yes.” Instead he made excuses as to why he hadn’t made it in the pool.

We all lay by the pool of Bethesda at some point in our lives. Some of us lay there so long; we could qualify for residency there. Others are there on the diving board waiting for the first sign of bubbles.

The angel is over there stirring the water and we’re hanging out under the beach umbrellas sipping an iced tea. We lay there on our beach chairs discussing our miserable lives with other miserable humans. What’s wrong with you? Get next to the edge of the pool!

Is it the attention? When we are in need of emotional, spiritual or physical healing, someone tends to pay attention to us. Maybe we are lonely. We fear when we actually get better that no one will listen to us anymore. I’ve received more emails in the past week, than I have in the last month. Please don’t stop writing just because I confess this vulnerability.

Is it the lack of desire to get well? It takes work to receive healing. Do we want to do what it takes to get better? Do we want to do the counseling, the rehab, or the moral inventory? When you are healed, people will come to you and ask about your story. You will actually have to relive the hard times. Maybe this makes sense.

The ultimate question is do you want your circumstance to change? Or, is it easier just to live here by the pool? Healing is done. It was done on the cross 2,000 years ago when the phrase was uttered, “It is finished.”

For now, I stand next to the pool, looking for the first bubble to surface.

November 05, 2005

Kyle Lake Meets the Giver of Life

The University Baptist Church in Waco will meet tomorrow morning without their Senior Pastor.

Imagine for a moment that you were one of the 800 present last Sunday. As Kyle Lake waited for the girl to enter the baptistery, he reached up to adjust the microphone…just as he had done a hundred times before. Only this time, something went wrong. A jolt of electricity went through Kyle’s body. Kyle belted out a scream, and was thrown to the rear of the baptistery. An amazing rescue effort ensued, but ultimately Kyle quietly slipped from this Earth and into the arms of his Abba.

I spent an afternoon with the staff of UBC this week. I never knew Kyle and had never set foot in the church before. But, as the stories began to unfold before me, the sadness that overwhelmed my heart was unspeakable. Listening to Ben Dudley, David Crowder and others reveal the hurts in the depths of their hearts was almost too much to bear.

Perhaps the hardest part of my conversation was when I asked about Kyle’s 5 year old daughter, Avery. After Jen, Kyle’s widow, told her innocent daughter the news of her father, Avery came out and tugged on Ben’s shirt. With tears in her eyes she said, “My dad got to go to Heaven. I won’t see him anymore, and I will miss him…but he’s in Heaven.” Any remaining strength I had left…left. I wept like a baby. I’m afraid Avery’s new found reality hit too close to home. I urge everyone to cover the Lake family in prayer…even if you don’t normally pray. Kyle leaves on this earth a beautiful 5 year old daughter, 3 year old twin boys, Sutton and Jude and a wife who adored him.

I left encouraged that this young church was allowing the Lord to gently lead them into their future…whatever that may be.

Below are Kyle’s final sermon notes exactly as he wrote them:

Live. And live well.

BREATHE. Breathe in and breathe deeply. Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.

On a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun.

If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool autumn day to FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE.

Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time.

If you bike, pedal HARD… and if you crash then crash well.

Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well done—a paper well-written, a project thoroughly completed, a play well-performed.

If you must wipe the snot from your 3-year olds nose, don’t be disgusted if the Kleenex didn’t catch it all… because soon he’ll be wiping his own.

If you’ve recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And grieve well.

At the table with friends and family, LAUGH. If you’re eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke.

And if you eat, then SMELL. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven.

And TASTE. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life.

Because it is most definitely a Gift.

Appropriate words for one who would soon meet their Giver of Life.

The following verses were read at Kyle’s funeral:

Psalm 34:17-19 "Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time."

II Corinthians 4:16-18 "So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever."

1 Corinthians 13:12 "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!"

1 Peter 1:3-5 "What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven - and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all - life healed and whole."

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