Tag Archives: Faith

BE-ing There

We were barely seated in the restaurant and I had just laid my napkin across my lap. I looked up and smiled at the tops of five bowed heads. My privilege this day was to take the band, [a.k.a. music leaders, a.k.a. “worship team”] to lunch. You may think that all five had bent their heads in prayer. Not so much.  Instead, each guy had his mobile device in hand and was either reading or thumbing a message.

Now, I assumed that they were “checking-in” or making straight their schedules for the afternoon. But I waited, and as waiter worked to find out what we would be drinking, the texting/tweeting/thumbing continued. There were peeks up and a clumsy sort of reconnecting to conversation. I was trying to get to know them and create rapport at our table. Oddly enough, throughout lunch, the devices remained at the ready; short vibrations caused the owner to give a glance, often accompanied by a grin. Around the table the fork was intermittently laid aside these young, deft fingers sent out a quick message. It was all very natural and normal for this bunch; I was the only person who was having trouble engaging. I guess I’m addicted to a bit more eye-contact. They proved to be gifted at multi-tasking; they could eat, jab at one another, answer questions I tossed onto the table, and maintain allegiance to their cell phones. I was both impressed and depressed.

Woody Allen - philosopher?

Woody Allen, that great philosopher once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

I’ve always liked that one-liner from Allen. My personal application is the importance of BEING THERE.  How much of life and opportunity have we wished away simply because our mind it somewhere else? I spent too much of my childhood wanting to be a grown up, and I’ve spent too much of my adulthood wishing I was a child again. I’ve worked on self-discipline of mind — Be Where You Are. (After all, we are human-beings, not human-doings.)

I wish I could say that I’m such a perfect person, so much without sin that I don’t commit an occasional breach of cell phone etiquette. I have loving family members who have corrected me when tempted to disengage because I have my device out and am checking email, texts, tweets, and anything else available from the outside world. I work at device discipline and etiquette.

I think Jesus would have been great with the use of his iPhone. Continue reading BE-ing There

Something Beautiful

Last May I was in Orlando, Florida as a part of my job (sponsoring 60+ high school seniors, tough job, but somebody has to do it). One afternoon I took some time off and met two wonderful ladies. They were once “just kids” in the church youth group (circa 1985). I was the youth pastor. Tisha and Alisa have become godly women who inspire me.

We rendezvoused for a 25 year reunion at a nice restaurant at Downtown Disney. Our lunch turned into a 3 hour conversation that was just a little bit of heaven for me. Toward the end of our time I had decided that one of life’s greatest privileges is meaningful conversation. We spoke openly about our lives and all that God has been doing in our 25 years. Our passion for God, life, and one another is mutual. Our fellowship was rich, rich, rich.

Alisa's Family

In that conversation Alisa showed us pictures of her kids. They sure are growing. And then she announced that they are expecting a third!  What? I was happy, but I thought, “Wow, that’s great, but you’re how old?”  By the grace of God I did not say that outloud , no insensitive outbursts… this time.  — She was absolutely glowing, and that made me very happy.

Then Alisa said, “Here’s a picture of him.”

A sonogram? No. She turned the page in her picture book and said, “Here he is, we love him so much already!”

Baby Hudson, I love this kid!

It was a photo of an infant. I took a double–take. This baby had a severe cleft-palate. The light went on and I understood. Bill and Alisa were adopting a special needs child. And these words spilled from my heart, “How beautiful.”

This weekend, the first weekend of February, 2012, Bill and Alisa are in China. They have been waiting since last May for the travel documents

In route to China

that would permit them to go get their son.

I remember Alisa’s famous words to me that day. “We have prayed to be found faithful in doing God’s work. We have friends who have adopted unwanted Chinese baby girls, and then we learned about little boys with special needs. They need families too. We thought ‘if not us—then who?’”

She talked about Bill’s job in the Air Force and the kinds of medical benefits his family receives. They have viewed their assignments in life, their gifts and abilities, as a part of God’s sovereing design. As stewards of all that God has done in their lives, they want to be used as God’s instruments of love, grace, and hope.

This weekend little Mr. Hudson will join his family. After more than ten months of praying and planning for their son, Alisa will hold her son.

To God be the glory.

Hudson Taylor, missionary to China

And by the way, Alisa was firm in the fact that she wanted his name to reflect his birthplace and unique story that is a gift from God. The name “Hudson” is from one of China’s most famous missionaries, Hudson Taylor , 1832-1905.

Soulful Books of 2011


I actually thought about something “devotional” and / or inspirational for the New Year. But I was not devoted and / or inspired to write it.

So, I give you books! Books make great companions. What a great way to hang out with make believe people, or past presidents for that matter. I ran into a few people I didn’t like being around, but overall, books were my 2011 passion.  Each book brought a particular passage of Scripture to my soul and I share the verses herein.

Three Novels (or close to) that Touched My Soul

3. The Brothers K by David James Duncan

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else,

for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself,

because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1  

 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this…Romans 14:13

This is a huge novel about family, and families can be complex; it’s a book is about life, all of it. I found the magic of The Brothers K in watching six children of Hugh and Laura Chance grow, and I fell in love with the family, not because I could relate to them, but because Duncan made me care about them.  Parts of the story made me smile and parts were agonizing.  Papa Hugh Chance, a ‘coulda-been’ baseball all-star and his devout Adventist wife, Laura raise six kids that couldn’t be more different. More than once I found myself becoming extremely emotional as I fought alongside members of the Chance family trying to resolve conflict. It was life, existential and moving. I found myself empathizing with each character especially when they were at odds with one another.

This story struck me as authentic, no kooky plot twists or author’s indulgent inventions.   We see the four Chance boys grow up before our very eyes, watch as their characters age and become…  it’s a life experience and death experience — and we see the birth of hopes and dreams, and we see death, or worse.  This book is a big`ole juicy steak. Cut it up and savor each bite. This is not “book-lite” — This is book weighs in at nearly 700 pages. Who has time for that? I’m thankful that I made the time and highly recommend The Brothers K. (I’ll throw in a PG rating because I did  find that many novels ought to have some kind of classification — e.g. I read Water for Elephants and enjoyed the book, but um…R!) Continue reading Soulful Books of 2011

Know Your Directions


Are you good at giving directions? A lot depends on the orientation of the person you’re giving directions to. That’s my experience.

Are you good at receiving direction? I have given perfectly good travel instructions and clear directions to family members and I knew at the time that they weren’t getting it. My wife and I are very different direction receivers. I’m visual and she is linear; I can picture movement and she can follow the steps. Both ways can work.


In western Oklahoma you can say, “Go down to the intersection, drive a half mile west, then go three miles north. You’ll see a big-ole, green mailbox. Turn back east and it’s about a quarter mile up the dirt road.” And that works, if the person knows their directions — north from south.

If you’re in Apache, Oklahoma you know that 13 miles west and 14 miles north is Carnegie. Growing up I gained orientation to travel by asking, “How many miles is it?” I could figure my travel time by number of miles. But that changed once I became a ‘city-guy’. I’ve traded reference to miles for Continue reading Know Your Directions

Deconstructing My Christianized Self, Part 1 (republish: “Best Of”)

Editor’s Note: This was one of our top 20 most read essays in 2010. We’re republishing it as we continue through our “revisiting 2010 the ‘best of’ series of 2010.” Thanks.

Like so many others born and raised in the buckle of the Oklahoma “Bible belt,” I was Christianized from an early age. My father was a pastor, and as a PK (Pastor’s Kid), I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Flannel boards, K-Love, VBS, purity rings, Precept Bible Studies, DC Talk, and potluck lunches – all of this just came with the territory.

Somewhere early on, I absorbed the basic Calvinistic idea that the material world, like the material body, was colonized with eeeeviil. Most importantly, I was hard wired for eeeeviill. Every thought, impulse, feeling, and desire contained latent Dionysian energies roiling within them.

I distinctly remember attending a youth bible conference where the speaker confronted us on masturbation. Gulp. Blanch. Awkward. Stare at the floor. Crickets.

Continue reading Deconstructing My Christianized Self, Part 1 (republish: “Best Of”)