Ramblings of the Mind

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our reason for going to Brazil

Yesterday was our first day in Brazil. People have been asking why we came here. Most assume it's a mission trip, many ask who else is going with us. But it's just Lacy and I. And it's not a mission trip, at least not in the traditional sense. You might say we are on vacation, though it won't be much of mental rest for this introvert. 

More than anything we are here for spiritual renewal and encouragement. For me personally, every time I have come here I've felt built up in my faith. I find clarity here from the Lord both in my calling as a minister and more importantly as a disciple and disciple maker. 

That's not to say I don't have encouragement at home. I do, and I love where God has placed us at North Side and wouldn't trade it for anything. But at home I still deal with personal stress and insecurities and sometimes doubt about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Here I can take a break and reevaluate things. And, as has happened in times past, I expect to return to Weatherford with a renewed sense of purpose and calling. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


One of the definitions of the word streamline that relates to meteorology: On a weather chart, a line that is tangent to the flow of the wind.

This morning I was contemplating our study of Malachi and how it relates to my life. In Malachi 1 we see God rebuking the people of Israel for offering up animal sacrifices that were cripple, lame, stolen, and blemished. They were basically giving to God something that cost them nothing. And God says He'd prefer that they shut the doors to the temple rather than sacrifice half-heartedly to Him.

This made me think of the things that I do for the Lord that are only half-hearted or less. Do I give my best to God in everything I do? No. Why not? First of all because I can be lazy. I have to fight this frequently in order to give God the best of what I can give (what He's already given me). But a big reason is also because I'm busy. I've got too much going on and God gets the leftovers. 

I love this word streamline, and I feel that in order to give God my best I need to streamline my life so that it flows with His will, His Spirit. What are those things I've got going on that don't relate to what He is doing? What are those things in my life that aren't tangent to the flow of the Holy Spirit? Those are the things that have to go. And when I give the best out of everything I do - the things He has called me to - then my will will be flowing with His and I'll be best able to follow where He is taking me. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What not to do in Jordan

I arrived in Jordan and I figured Amman, being an international city, would have a little more substantial transportation signage for tourists. I was clearly wrong. I had received an email from a travel agent about what to do, but that didn't help at all. I got in a taxi with Hammed and Omar, two Jordanians both somewhere in their late 20s.  Neither of them spoke good English and my arabic is limited to "salaam" and "jihad". We worked out a price that I though was a bit high. I went to the bank to ascertain the exchange rate and thought it high but acceptable. About 2 minutes after we leave the airport I realize this is definitely not a legit taxi. First we stop to get coffee, then gas and they ask me to pay. I tell them that all I have in cash is the amount they told me the fare was and they were ok with that. I start to get pretty nervous, and just in time my cell phone starts working. I open up my maps and notice that we are headed to the middle of nowhere. My heart is almost racing at this point. I looked up the number to the hotel and called just to make sure before I jumped out of car and ran for my life-leaving my bags behind. Turns out, not only were we going in the right direction but we had two more hours to go (or so I was told). The ride was interesting. We had limited conversations about family and work. I even told them I was an Imam for Jesus and they kept calling me friend. We stopped again for candy and once for an outdoor bathroom break. About 5 miles from the destination they noticed they had a deflated tire and then got lost trying to find a place to air it up. When we finally arrived at the hotel I gave them the fare they had asked for minus what I gave them for gas. They told me I didn't pay them enough and I told them again that I had no more cash. They went in to the hotel with me to ask the clerk where the nearest ATM was. To get more cash we would have to go back into town where they got lost. So at that point they quit calling me friend. I told them that I had already paid them what I said I would and that I would not go back into town to get more money. They cussed at me for about 20 minutes in the hotel lobby while the clerk attempted to translate. I finally walked away to my room, glad that I hadn't been taken advantage of. But then I thought about Jesus' words in Mt 5. If anyone sues you for your tunic, give him your cloak as well. Would the right thing to do be to go ahead and give them the extra $30? Was it a bad idea for this "imam for Jesus" to take up a posture of standing up for himself?  These are just some questions I'm pondering after such an eventful day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day of Action

One of my most memorable Thanksgivings was the year I spent as a missionary in Chile.  It was my first Thanksgiving away from my family, and there were very few around me who understood the holiday.  But being away from family and outside the United States brought a special meaning to this day of giving thanks.

I was a little caught off guard when people from Chile would ask me about Thanksgiving. They had no clue, but it gave me a chance to explain it a bit and therefore understand it better myself.  Perhaps it’s what they called the holiday that taught me the most: Día de Acción de Gracias. Literally translated that means “Day of Action of Thanks.”

I used to think of Thanksgiving as a time when I would tell God how thankful I was for His blessings, and tell others how thankful I was for them. But now during this time I realize that being thankful should be accompanied by words and actions.  In both the Old and New Testaments, when we read the word thanksgiving many times it is meant to involve a sacrifice to the Lord that flows from a thankful heart. 

My prayer for this Thanksgiving is that we will express our thankfulness both with words and actions; that we would count each blessing that God has given us and show Him and others how thankful we are.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dry Mouth

As of Monday, I've been put on vocal rest for a few weeks, until the doctor says I can sing again. I'm glad I can still talk, but I'm trying to do less of that too.

So I don't know that being asked to give up something by your doctor can legally be considered fasting. But it many ways it is much like fasting. It is a very difficult thing to do, and for me I can only do this by the power of the Spirit.

This has all kinds of spiritual significance for me. The first being worship. In my head I've been able to say that worship does not equal music. I know that worship is a lifestyle and I must worship God through my every day actions. But now I'm being forced to live this idea out.

I often like to sit down and write songs to the Lord to express my gratitude, or just something I've learned. But that doesn't happen now. And I've not found that it is easy to write what I am feeling without expressing it musically. I used to be able to sing my thoughts while playing guitar or piano, but now all the musical expression I have is to play on a guitar or piano.

This "fast" is helping me to realize the extent at which music plays a part in my own worship. It makes me realize how much I have taken music and my own musical talents for granted. The good thing is, I'm going to discover new ways to express worship to the Lord. And I'll have to let the Holy Spirit speak for me at times. I am looking forward to this journey - and I'm a little nervous about it too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Will Power

I'm not much of a blogger. Especially not a daily one. I've definitely failed this past week.

A couple of weekends ago I did a DNow for North Richland Hills Baptist. Those kids are cool. I'm amazed by their maturity in Christ and their freedom to worship the Lord. On Saturday night after the worship service many kids got together in groups of 2 an 3 and prayed for one another. It was one of the those nights where you just know the Holy Spirit is there.

I realized that weekend and this past week that the focus of my fast has for sure been in the wrong place. I am a pretty strong willed individual and sometimes I like to test my own determination. I think that was the focus of the fast at first. But this is not about my will power - it's about Christ. And in week 2 of this fast I've tried to focus more on prayer, both for myself and others. And I love/hate what comes of that. All the junk rises to the surface - I've once again realized my depravity and God has brought some stuff to my attention that I need to work on. I just hope I don't try to bury it in the back yard like I normally do.

Tonight we are meeting with the singles group again to pray for one another and talk about what God has for us as individuals and as a group. I'm excited to see what He has in store.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 3

Today is day 3 of the Daniel fast. Feeling ok today. I had a headache this morning, but that slowly went away. The cravings aren't too bad. Somebody brought some pumpkin bread to the office today and I do have to look the other way ever time I see it. And I would definitely like a coke, but water still tastes good.

Last night I bought some whole grain wheat crackers - which I normally run away from. Surprisingly, they were incredible! I love wheat crackers! One thing about this fast - I've learned to enjoy wheat crackers. And I've probably come to appreciate other simple things as well. Simple things like writing down my thoughts here, despite the lack of eloquence.

And today I'm rejoicing for what God is doing here. I'm rejoicing for others who have joined the fast because they want to grow closer to the Lord and see what amazing things are in store when we trust and obey. I'm encouraged by the conversations, emails, and text messages from those who are sharing this experience. This is cool! (No, I can't yet use the word incredible like I did for the wheat crackers). Still struggling, still working, still pressing on towards the prize. The End will surpass all expectations.