Monday, December 28, 2009

Church Planting

We announced to our church yesterday that we will be moving to the Magnolia/The Woodlands area to begin a new church plant. I will be serving as the Lead Pastor/Elder. Our church has been so gracious to us here in Brenham and they are fully behind this move and have committed their support to us in every way possible. It really is a great thing to be a part of a church planting church, and experiencing first hand them "putting their money where their mouth is" both figuratively and literally.

This has been on the horizon for some time, but I wasn't sure of the timing until recently. Through a series of events we found ourselves spending more time at our friend's lake house and more time in The Woodlands area. Now if you are familiar with The Woodlands area, then you know that there are a lot of churches. However, what you may not be aware of is that the population is booming out there, and there are a lot of people not going to church anywhere.

Also, to be honest, we like the area. It reminds us of where we grew up, but has a lot of trees, so that's a bonus!

We know a few people who are pastoring out in that area and who are planting churches themselves. Our heart is to go and serve alongside of them and partner together for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not our desire to compete, but to "spur one another on to love and good deeds." So far, every minister/pastor we have talked to out in that area have been extremely kind and welcoming. For this, we are grateful, and acknowledge God's favor.

I have already received a lot of questions regarding the church, and most of the information will be on a website that I am currently building and should have online soon. However, here's some of the details:

  • Target Area: Where Magnolia and The Woodlands meet: Click Here to see.
  • Will I keep traveling with Transform Ministries?: Yes. I love to travel and preach and that is definitely part of my calling. For the next year, I do not see too much changing with my travel schedule, but I may become less available on Sundays. However, depending on how quickly the Lord grows His Church, how Steph feels about my travel schedule, my elders, etc, all of those factors will be weighed. But for now, keep the invites coming!
  • When will we move?: We are working on some last minute touches to our house here in Brenham and will put it on the market hopefully in early January. Once we are able to sell the house, then we will move to the Magnolia/The Woodlands area.
  • Do you have a name for your church?: Yes. We just received notice from the state that our non-profit corporation has been approved: Christ Community Church of Magnolia
  • Who will we be affiliated with?: We are currently being assessed by Acts 29 and sent by Christ Church in Brenham as well as Crossbridge Church in Sugar Land. I have a video conference in early January with the Texas Baptists (BGCT). We will also partner with our friends in the San Felipe Baptist Association.
  • When will we start?: We are hoping to gather some folks together at least once in January to share the vision of the church and see who might want to serve as missionaries with us. We hope to have some folks to begin meeting weekly with for Bible study, prayer, and fellowship starting in February. Our plan right now is to not do anything on Sundays until we are actually living out in that area. We will probably not launch public services (that is, when everyone is inviting whoever they can) until we have a committed core of 40 or so.
If you have more questions you would like answered, please feel free to E-mail me.

Here's how you can help:
  1. Pray: Please pray for my family (the move, church planting, transitioning, finances, etc), for the new church plant (we need people, we are essentially starting from scratch!) We are asking God for a few families (singles are welcomed too!) who are believers and desire to live as missionaries in their current context and we are praying that we would see people come to faith early on in our ministry. Please also pray for finances. A lot of people don't like to talk about money, but it's the fuel that is necessary.
  2. Spread the Word: If you know folks in the area who do not currently attend a church, or who are missionary minded who would like to know more about the church. Please help by getting us connected with them.
  3. Give: If the Lord would lead you to support this new ministry opportunity, there are two ways to do so. 1) You can give to Transform Ministries if you are wanting to support Steph and I specifically as missionaries for the next year or, 2) You can give to the church. You can e-mail me by clicking the link above if you would like to give. Also, just a practical way to help out would be gas cards, Starbucks cards, and Amazon cards (a pastor needs a library, no? :-) ), as I have a lot of meetings and commuting to do.
  4. Pray some more.
Well, this is all for now. Thank you for your friendship, love, and support. We are grateful to God for His people and we are looking forward to being a part of what He is doing in Montgomery county!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Free Ministry - January 2010

I was just challenged by an old friend to trust God. This is not an issue of desperation, but determination. The Gospel MUST NOT be hindered by economic hardships and I am determined to be about my calling, even though times are tough. Therefore, I will speak at any event for FREE in the month of January. If it is out of state, then I might need some help getting there, but other than that, if there is a need, I will be there.

See Casey's Calendar

Invite Casey to your Event

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Writing and ADD

I've been working on my first book and I am reminded how annoying ADD can be. I'll be writing along, nailing a point, and then boom, a paragraph is injected in the midst of a very focused chapter that was a spin-off of a sentence above. Quite frustrating, oh and did I tell you about what happened at the mall today? <-- See!

Overall, today was a productive day. I am working on a book dealing with apathy in the church: the reality, some causes, and biblical solutions. It's in the early stages, but the last few days on this writing retreat have been very fruitful. I have a lot more organized outline(s) and thoughts to move forward with. Lord willing, the book will be ready to publish Spring 2010, but we'll see how it goes. Thanks for your prayers and I will be keeping you updated.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Who Cares?

I can't tell you how often I hear students and adults alike use the phrase,"Who Cares?" or "I don't care." There are other, more colorful ways that this is said at times, but this expression is far more revealing than one might understand. The fact is, the church is dying a slow death from misplaced passions about things that don't matter and apathy towards things that do really matter.

Now, it is NOT my intent to suggest that ALL arguments about the style of church music, the manner in which we facilitate communion, pre-mid-post-a, whether one is a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 27 point whatever, etc. are irrelevant. There are issues like this that must be considered and explored biblically. However, I do propose that these vigorous fights, debates, and splits are robbing us from caring about things that really matter. The two primary things that come to mind in this assessment are the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

To be honest, an increasing amount of American Churches (or American Christians for that matter) don't seem to care so much about these two things. Sure, these 'Greats' are in the majority of our mission/vision statements, but how much is this really being lived out? Are we as vigorous about caring about the 'widows and orphans' as we are about making sure that people are using the appropriate translation of the Bible or are refraining from whatever we perceive to be sinful? I wonder what would happen if we were more about the Great Commission of seeing the whole person transformed, and not just managing sin and changing behaviors?

Behaviorism as a measure of success for 'biblical discipleship' shows that the charge of the prophet Isaiah, and also Jesus' charge against the Pharisee's continues to be true today, “And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me...” (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8 ESV) This indictment directly confronts the prevalent belief that as long as we look like we are godly and give an appearance of being 'nice and well-behaved' then we are making an impact on culture. While external transformation should truly be a part of sanctification, it is not the end nor should it be our final goal.

If God does not revive the church in our land, it will continue to decline. The apparent attitude today is, "Who cares?" Well, I do and hope that you do too.

More to come on this issue in the weeks and months to come...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

'Why' Series: Part 2 - Brenham

We have lived in Brenham for over 2 1/2 years now and are grateful for everything the Lord has been teaching us. However, I am still often asked "Why Brenham?" by friends and new acquaintances I meet on the road. I'm sure that different people have varying reasons for their inquisition, and there is no doubt that Steph and I have asked ourselves that on more than one occasion. So, I thought it appropriate to pose this question and offer some answers in the midst of my 'Why' Series. In order to organize my thoughts, I'm going to address the various reasons in a numbered list.

  1. We believe that the Lord called us to move here. No cliche intended. However, if you have known us for any amount of time, you would know that it would have to be the Lord to move us outside of our 'comfort zone' (Please forgive the overused phrase...) into a context that neither of us have ever known prior to moving here. While we do have a Starbucks here, we moved from Sugar Land, TX where we had 4 Starbucks in a 1/2 mile radius. We left a new home built in 2003 for a home built in 1936. This raises another question: Why would the Lord move us here? Which leads me to my second reason.

  2. To sanctify us. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy or more like Christ. We have experienced some of the most fruitful and wonderful times in our family and ministry and some of the darkest times as well since we have been here. There have been several occasions when all we had left was the Lord, His calling on our lives, and one another. We have struggled with sin, both that we have committed, and with sins committed against us. We have wrestled to understand why certain things happen the way that they did. However, through all the ups and downs, we have grown in the Lord and closer as a family. My wife has always been a huge encouragement to me, but over the past 2 1/2 years I have seen her experience a deeper intimacy with the Lord, and extremely consequential ministry in the lives of others. Our marriage has been stretched, yet strengthened through it all.

  3. To help plant Christ Church. Our good friend's Pastor Justin and Brandi Hyde moved out here from Houston to let their roots go deep and Justin had a strong calling to plant a church. To be honest, I thought he was nuts at first. After all, why would anyone choose to leave the city to live in the country (no offense to all my country friends!)? Also, church planting is tough enough in booming suburbs, so how in the world would we be able to plant a healthy church in a small town, especially coming in as outsiders? We have certainly faced our share of challenges, but we have received such hospitality from a few of the churches in town, and have seen God grow His church from 7 to 50-60 every Sunday in just 2 short years!

  4. To minister to students at Blinn College. This small Jr. College boasts of over 2,500 students enrolled annually. By and large, there is not one church here in Brenham that can minister to, disciple, etc. that many people. I certainly don't think that we have all this figured out, but I do know that we have seen several Blinn students come to faith, be discipled, and even become involved in ministry.

  5. To be blessed with great friends. We have great friends back in the Sugar Land area still today, so this is not to say that we needed friends due to the lack of friends. However, we have been blessed with some great friends that we would have otherwise never had if we weren't here. It is humbling to think about how we knew one couple when we moved here and then forced our Realtor and his wife to be our friends when we moved here. Since then we have made so many great friends!

  6. To help us learn to slow down. We did not realize how hectic our lives were back in Sugar Land. We were ALWAYS busy! While we were blessed with so many friends we all were so busy that it was tough to get good time together. Since we have been here in Brenham, we have really learned to value of being able to slow down, enjoy each other, spend plenty of time fellowshiping with our community, and flexibility to serve those who are in need. In a way, it has helped us to be a little less self-focused out of necessity (i.e. so busy that we didn't have time to be self-less). Also, being an itinerant (traveling) preacher, my life is often hectic enough, so it is nice to come back home and slow down.

  7. Because it was the hard thing to do. At the time when we sensed God calling us here we were also considering other planting options in Los Angeles, in town, or staying put at a thriving church-plant. Plus, I was still going to seminary in Houston, so it would make sense to stay put until I was done. However, I remember what Dr. Woo used to say (and I'm certain he still does), "When you have several options in front of you, God is usually calling you to the hardest one." This season has been a tough one in many regards, but we have been forced to be dependent on Christ in so many ways that I am grateful for the good and the bad. Blessed be His name, anyone?

  8. To be a nobody. As most of you know, I have the privilege of speaking to thousands upon thousands of people each year sharing the Good News of the Gospel. It is very humbling how God chooses to use people like us to do His work. However, being in front of so many people so often it is tempting to think higher of yourself than you ought to. This is a constant temptation for me, but being in Brenham has helped to balance that out. No one really knows who I am, or at least really knows me well, so they don't care who I am or what I do (I'm not saying this in a negative way at all). The people in our church and friends in other churches who know me and are my friends love me for me and aren't wrapped up in what I do or who I know. They just like me (or dislike me) because of who I am. This is definitely a blessing, because I'm not a big deal, but sometimes when you are entrusted with authority and a platform, you can become deceived. I really see how God has used this season to keep me in my place.

  9. To gain valuable ministry experience. There are many universal truths regarding church planting that transcend time, space, and culture. However, there are also many things you won't learn about ministry in a smaller town unless you are in this context. What I have learned is too much to put down in this post, but let's just say that through failures and successes I have learned things about God, forgiveness, grace, judgment, trials, and victories that I do not believe I would have learned in my previous context. I have learned how to love people, to serve them, to speak truth in love, and to let them love me in return.

  10. The Question is the Answer. Ultimately, the question, "Why Brenham?" is exactly the reason. This is not a strategic ministry location for my 'career' in ministry. This doesn't make practical sense in a lot of ways. Thus, God HAS to move and if He doesn't, then we will sink. The very fact that my family and I are here right now is a God thing that requires God to move, to bless, to provide for, to rebuke, to restore, and to bring His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.
We don't have a strategic reason as to why we are here. In some ways, moving here has likely closed some ministry doors. However, we have opted to value faithfulness and obedience as our standard for 'success' instead of salary, position, busyness, number of people in church, etc. Perhaps we are in error, and if so, I pray that God would be gracious to us and correct us. Yet, if we are growing and maturing in faithfulness and obedience, then we rejoice in Him!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'Why' Series: Pt. 1 - Programming Evangelism

As I continue to read through the Bible, God is always kind to illuminate the Scriptures in a fresh way. I occasionally make the mistake of reading through Acts (sarcasm implied) and I start questioning things. If you don't know me very well, then you might not know that I have a lot of questions. One of my favorite questions to ask is, "Why?"

Thinking about church today, I begin wondering about why such intense programming is necessary? Of course people are busy, but I think the problem lies much deeper than just that. It seems in many places that the church is either expected, or assumes the responsibility to program sanctification. This is so normal that it doesn't seem that many people even think much about it, but when you compare it to the teachings of the New Testament, there is definitely a disconnect.

One of the primary areas that I am baffled is about are evangelism programs. Now I am not questioning at all the validity of training people on various ways to share the Gospel, to live missionally, or to help them understand the biblical commission all believers have to make disciples. I think that is to be expected and encouraged. However, I think it is odd that if churches don't provide evangelism 'programs' then by and large, evangelism doesn't normally happen.

This observation is not an attempt for me to point the finger. I'm just as guilty at times of not being aware of the great privilege we have as believers to share the best news with people from all backgrounds. However, being a minister, I wonder what has happened from the times of the New Testament, the Great Awakenings, etc., to this seemingly sterile approach to evangelism.

Why do we have to schedule something that should be a natural response to the grace of God given to us in Christ? Why are we placing the responsibility of our own sanctification in the hands of the church to schedule it for us? Why are we so content to view church through consumeristic lenses and to make our selection of where we will do life based upon the music program, youth program, kids program, singles program, college program, discipleship program, missions program, etc?

Look, I understand that we are ministering in a fallen world, and our people are busy. Also, I understand in a post-Christian nation that it is becoming less and less acceptable to share the Gospel openly. However, if we get so bogged down into the programming of evangelism, discipleship, etc, then at what point do we expect believers to do these things because they are, well, they are believers?

If you have an evangelism program at your church, praise God! I'm grateful that the Gospel is being preached, regardless of the means or motivation. However, I do believe that our brothers and sisters who have gone before us have modeled for us how to BE Christian and not just DO Christian things. Something to think about...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bible Study Prep

I've had the privilege of walking through Galatians for the church-wide Bible Study at Christ Church here in Brenham. There is a special place in my heart for Paul's letter to the Galatians as this was the book I was teaching through (feebly at that!) in the fall of 1999 when God called me into full time vocational ministry. This small letter confronts major issues dealing with legalism, the Law, and liberty that are still prevalent in the modern church of today.

As I am preparing to teach through Galatians 2:1-14 tomorrow evening, I am encouraged by Paul's fidelity to the Gospel, and his passion for the freedom of Christ to be realized in the lives of believers, both Jew and Gentile. Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians has been a very helpful resource in preparing for this study. He provides great insight into the confrontation of legalism and the healthy expression of liberty as it pertains to the Church.

This is the first time in quite a while that I have had the privilege of leading a more in-depth Bible Study, and I had forgotten how much I love to teach the Bible! Don't get me wrong, when I preach, I teach the Bible, but this is different. With true Bible study prep, I have the opportunity to slow down and ask some harder questions. Less time is spent on developing illustrations, and more time is spent wrestling with the text for understanding, insight, and by God's grace, revelation and illumination.

So, for all of the brethren out there leading Bible Studies, be encouraged! God is faithful to continually reveal to us more of Himself. This is not for our own selfish consumption, but for the sake of His Kingdom and His people. What a privilege we have in rightly dividing the Word of God!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A long day...

God is very good to us, no cliche intended. He just is. I had a wonderful time with family this past weekend and some fruitful time of ministry. I've driven more this weekend than I have in quite some time, but I feel that even the time on the road was fruitful. The next few months slow down as far as traveling goes, so I hope to use that time to be productive writing some new sermons/talks, curriculum, blogging, and working on a book.

For those tracking along with me on the writing project, Steph doesn't like the title 'The Church's Silent Killer', and that alone is enough for me to re-think that. So, I'm open to suggestions. We will be heading to a friends lake house next week to spend a few days writing and doing some speaking near by. Please pray for that time to be fruitful.

Well, I'm tired, so I will go for now. More blogging to come this week.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What to Write?

As I mentioned in my previous post, it is time for me to start writing my first book. The hang-up is no lacking content, but lacking some direction. I have been and continue to be praying and seeking the Lord as to what would best serve His work and trust that He will lead.

Here are some of the ideas that I have been thinking about. They are in various stages of development, but I thought I'd share with those of you who would be willing to pray with me and perhaps offer some insight. These are working titles:

  1. Consequential Faith: A study of Matthew 6 (and various cross references) on pursuing a faith that matters.
  2. The Church's Silent Killer: Confronting the apathy in the American church, the problem, the challenges, and some biblical solutions.
  3. Living Biblically: Topical books discussing issues facing today's teens: Relationships, Discipleship, Campus Ministry, Family stuff, Purity, etc.
  4. The Whole Naked Truth: Confronting issues of purity pertaining to students. Not only dealing with abstinence, but also re-casting a vision for biblical marriage as something to look forward to and actively pursue.
There a few more ideas, but they are more chaotic thoughts that are not organized, so I will spare my readers from them for now... I'm just glad that I already have a publisher to work with. That relieves some of the initial pressure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Writing Life

I will breeze past the whole "I know I haven't blogged in a while..." shenanigans and just leave it at "I have been busy." I had believed this fallacious idea that I would be far less busy once I had finished seminary. False. However, I do find myself spending far more time doing things I like than before (nothing against seminary) and feel great!

A lot has been going on, but what I feel like blogging about right now is that I am hoping to start writing more frequently (blogs, articles, books, etc) in the near future. I had been saying that I wasn't going to focus on writing a book until I was 30. Well, I am 31 now and not getting any younger. The problem I am facing right now is that I am not sure which project to start on. I have a few projects with preliminary outlines, sketches for introductions, and even several sermons transcribed, but still don't know where to begin.

However, I am committed to blogging more frequently here. I will be sharing some exciting developments in the coming days.

Check back often to see what is going on and to join me on my journey to writing something worth publishing.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Help Transform Ministries - Take a Survey!

Please take a few moments to do the following survey. It will help us out greatly. Thanks!

Click Here to take survey

Monday, September 07, 2009

Kingdom Kuriosity

Just got word that my good friends, the Barrett's, lost their only source of income. I'm curious about what might happen if God's people would actually behave like a family and take care of their own? The Barrett's are in the process of training to become missionaries overseas. If you and yours would donate just a few bones, God would be glorified, they would be provided for, and you would be satisfied.

Total Amount Raised: $243.00 - 12:53 am (CST) on Sunday, September 13, 2009!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Certified Business Coach

As some of you already know, I recently became a Certified Business Coach through The Growth Coach. For those of you that know me well, this step makes a lot of sense. I have been involved with starting businesses for over 16 years, both for-profit and non-profit and I found that this training will help me serve better in various capacities.

I work with a good friend, Glenn Smith, who is based in Sugar Land, TX and am excited to serve people from Houston, Katy, Cypress, Brenham, and Bryan/College Station. If you are interested in learning more about how I can help you, please let me know.

Click here to see a video about The Growth Coach.

P.S. - No. I am not quitting the ministry! :-) This will actually help me to serve the Lord!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Braelyn's Blog

My sweet little 3-year old has her own blog! She tells Mommy what she wants to say, and Mommy types it as is. Enjoy!

Click Here for Braelyn's Blog

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Aaron Ivey - Between Beauty and Chaos

I am loving this album. Way to go, my old friend! You should go get it now...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Need a Logo?

My friends at Gutensite are at it again offering ridiculous discounts on their amazing work! Click the image above or click here to check out their 'Summer Design Special'. Tell them that I sent you!

Also, you can now follow Gutensite on Twitter:


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxy

Orthodoxy: Right Belief

Orthopraxy: Right Practice

There seems to be some confusion today regarding orthodoxy and orthopraxy (or orthopraxis). For some, they are completely separated (both in licentious and legalistic circles). For an individual who believes that they can do whatever they want, with an "God will forgive me anyways" attitude then they are completely detatching orthodoxy from orthopraxy. Conversely, for the legalist who makes rules and laws that extend beyond the teachings of Scripture, there is a dualistic disconnect as well.

I have the privilege of speaking to thousands of people each year, which gives me the great opportunity of meeting many people from all over the United States. There have been many life-giving conversations, and unfortunately, several conversations that left me feeling confused and disoriented. I cannot even count how many times I have heard the phrase, "I'm not concerned about talking theology, but I think that..." For as many things that licentious and legalistic believers are in opposition about, this one phrase is a commonality from both groups. This is a severe error.

When we evaluate a person's practice (behavior) we must seek to understand their beliefs. Jesus was often concerned with the motivations of the people He interacted with, and we should be as well. Why a person does something seems to be more important than what a person does.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9 ESV, Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 29:13)

Now, you may be thinking, "Okay, Casey, but doesn't a person's actions reveal the true state of their heart?" Of course! However, it would be shortsighted (and lazy) to not seek to understand the motivation of why people do what they do. An example of this would be a rock band made up of Christians, but play in "secular" clubs. The issue here may be one of orthodoxy or it could be one of orthopraxy. I have had friends who are Christians and they played music, but specificially chose to play in secular clubs. Why would they ever do that?!? When I asked them, to seek understanding, they explained to me that they felt God calling them to be missionaries of the Light in a dark place. I originally had an issue with their orthopraxy, but after asking them with the intention of understanding (see Prov. 20:5) I agreed with their orthodoxy. We are called to be salt and light and Jesus was often criticized for spending time with 'sinners' (see Mt. 9:11-13, 11:19; Mk. 2:17, 5:32; Lk. 7:34).

What is the most upsetting to me is when individuals attack other Christians over issues of orthopraxy and don't even understand whether or not their motivations stem from proper orthodoxy. I have had several friends who were attacked by other professing Christians because they didn't like the behavior of my friends. Whether it was an issue of eating, drinking, watching, reading, listening, or visiting, they were not confronted in order to gain understanding.

How many more churches need to split over contemporary worship music or hymns? Or, projectors or hymnals? How many more youth pastors need to be run off because they see theological truths communicated well in movies that are rated 'PG-13' or 'R' (besides the Passion of the Christ, that is)? How many more times should we cause unbelievers or young believers to stumble because of the way Christians 'bite and devour' one another? When one's orthopraxy causes you to violate sound orthodoxy, then you are just as guilty and need to repent.

I may not agree with a church or individual's choices, but I must be careful to not 'break fellowship' with them because their practices are different than mine. Orthodoxy (Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a perfect life, died a death on the cross in our place, rose again, ascended into Heaven, and will return again one day, etc.) is worth defending. We need to be really wise with how we handle issues of liberty and orthopraxy, because if we aren't careful, we will find ourselves working against the Lord (see Acts 5:27-40).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Upcoming Articles/Posts

Hey, friends. Sorry it's been a bit since I've written on here. I have a few things to blog about over the next few weeks. Here's a list of a few of the topics (may not appear in this order):

  • Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy
  • Mercy Not Sacrifice
  • False Gospels - The False Hopes Plaguing the Church Today (This will be a series)
  • The 'Garbage in, Garbage out' Fallacy
  • Biblical Confrontation and Restoration

Friday, June 05, 2009

Cash Quote

"It's good to know who hates you and to be hated by the right people." - Johnny Cash

A Great New Worship Album

My good friend Stephen Miller has released a full-length worship album full of 12 original worship songs. It is fresh, vibrant, authentic, and theologically solid. I'd encourage you to get a copy and be encouraged. There are also several songs that my other worship leader friends should consider leading out with.

To get the MP3s on Amazon - Click Here
To get the MP3s on iTunes - Click Here

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Compelling Quote

"Those standing in the stream of historic Christianity have been especially slow to understand the relationships between various areas of thought. When the apostle warned us to "keep [ourselves] unspotted from the world," he was not talking of some abstraction. If the Christian is to apply this injunction to himself he must understand what confronts him antagonistically in his own moment of history. Otherwise he simply becomes a useless museum piece and not a living warrior for Jesus Christ."

Francis Schaeffer in The God Who Is There.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thought Provoking Quote...

"Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is proof of this."
- John Wesley from The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Erica's Baptism

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

This past Sunday I had the joy of baptizing one of our college students here in Brenham. I met Erica last year when I was leading a college Bible study in one of our students apartments. She was sweet and seemed to be interested in spiritual things. The more Stephanie and I got to know her, the more we fell in love with this little sister in Christ.

Erica came to live in our garage apartment this school year and has been such a blessing to have around. Steph, Braelyn, and I have shared wonderful times with her and have been able to watch first-hand as the Lord continues to mature her. Steph and Erica have been in a discipleship relationship that has been beneficial I'm sure for both of them.

We love you, Erica and are SO proud of you!

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Testament in a Month

Now that I am done with seminary, I have the freedom to read WHATEVER I want to. I cannot begin to express how excited I am about this! However, one of the first things I want to do is get back into the Word more intentionally and more deeply. Not that I was not encouraged to study the Scriptures in seminary, but now I can read them with the sole purpose of enjoying God and preparing my heart and mind for ministry. Should be the same, but in my mind and heart it is different. If I'm off on this, please pray for me.

Early in my seminary experience I had the privilege of taking several classes with Dr. Rodney Woo (Pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church). This man is the epitome of a perfect combination of scholarship and a pastoral heart. There is much I have learned from him, both in content and by his example that I am eternally grateful for.

I still remember the day in class when he was sitting on the edge of the table with his intense stare and he said, "Gentlemen, if you are going to preach the Bible, you had better know it!" This statement hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean, on one hand this statement seems to be obvious, but as this pastor-scholar sat there with the fire of God in his eyes, I realized that he was not talking about 'knowing' it, but to KNOW it.

One thing I loved about being in his classes was that when he brought correction or exhortation, he always provided a way forward. On this occasion he told us how he stays sharp in the Word. He shared with us that He read through the New Testament each month for 9 months out of the year and then took 3 months to read through the Old Testament. At first, I thought this was impossible, that it would take too much time. However, Dr. Woo shared that it only took about 30 minutes-a-day and that he would just read. No note taking, no word studies, he would just read it and enjoy it as it was. He then challenged us to try it.

By God's grace, I was able to do this several times. This experience helped me to see the grand picture of God's redemptive story through the entirety of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, it has been quite a while since I have enjoyed this discipline and am now resolved to re-institute this life-giving exercise.

If any of you out there would like to give it a try, here's the schedule:

1. Mt. 1-10
2. Mt. 11-20
3. Mt. 21-28
4. Mk. 1-8
5. Mk. 9-16
6. Lk. 1-8
7. Lk. 9-16
8. Lk. 17-24
9. Jn. 1-7
10. Jn. 8-14
11. Jn. 15-21
12. Acts 1-10
13. Acts 11-20
14. Acts 21-28
15. Romans 1-8
16. Romans 9-16
17. 1 Cor. 1-8
18. 1 Cor. 9-16
19. 2 Cor.
20. Galatians – Ephesians
21. Philippians – Colossians
22. 1 & 2 Thess.
23. 1 & 2 Tim.
24. Titus – Philemon – Heb. 1-3
25. Heb. 4-13
26. James
27. 1 & 2 Peter
28. 1-2-3 John / Jude
29. Rev. 1-11
30. Rev. 12-22

Let me know if you're going to give it a shot. I'd love to hear about your experience!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

As Promised - I am Commenting... Pt. 1

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
(Proverbs 20:5 ESV)

A few months ago I blogged briefly about an article in Christianity Today™ that discussed an accusation against SWBTS (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) accusing them of a ploy to fire Calvinists from their staff. I posted a link to this interesting article, which you can read here.

To be honest, I would not be surprised either way. Not to dishonor the president of SWBTS, nor to dishonor the other parties involved, but I have been involved in church-life long enough to not really get surprised about much. As far as I know, Dr. Patterson is an Arminian, and if there is a competitive thing going on with Southern, then I could see a possible motivation. But, I don't know. However, I must be careful to not quickly judge the situation with limited knowledge about what all is going on.

However, I do have this to say. Christians have got to stop making sweeping generalizations about people who are identified as 'Arminian' or 'Calvinist'. This is a dangerous and un-loving habit. One of my good friends and mentors was once asked how to best deal with a certain group of believers in his church and he responded, "It's not how we deal with this group or that, the question we should be asking is how we serve one another in love." Amen.

For instance, I know people who would call themselves "Reformed", but they are more Lutheran Reformed soteriologically (salvation), but Dispensationalist in their hermeneutic (bible study method) and eschatology (belief about the end times). This seems inconsistent with our little labels doesn't it? The same is true for the terms 'Emergent' vs. 'Emerging'. They are both different in meaning and what they stand for. However, if one is identified as 'Emergent', this doesn't automatically mean that they deny the Virgin birth of Jesus, etc.

All this to say, I think IF there was a hunt out to get the Calvinists professors at SWBTS out of the faculty I would be very sad. I would be equally sad if the same was happening towards Arminian professors. IF this were the case, then I would be concerned for the seminary. In my time at the Houston campus of SWBTS I was blessed to have Arminian, Calvinist, and Calminian™ (I made it up) professors. It helped to balance me out. To be honest, I entered into seminary with some pretty firm theological convictions that have remained, but have been refined by these awesome, Godly men. I give thanks to God for my time at SWBTS and pray that they will continue to provide a broad-scope of theological views that are within the bounds of orthodoxy and baptistic theology.

My prayer is that this whole thing at the seminary was a huge exaggeration or misunderstanding. However, there is a chance that this is not the case, and if so, I pray that the Lord would offer correction in His kindness.

Lord, help us to be a people who are known by the way that we love one another. (John 13:35)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Coming Soon...

You won't want to miss this... Coming soon to, Barnes and, etc.

Learn more about Rod Brace.

Four Conversations by Rod Brace. Published by Lucid Books (a Transform Media Group Company)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Taylor Swift Concert


The fun before the drama.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I will still blog here too...

Some friends have wondered if I will continue to blog on this blog as well, the answer is, "Absolutely." The new 40 Pounds of Purpose Blog is specifically for that project. There will naturally be some cross-pollinating, but I will be blogging about life in its entirety (holistically, actually, which is a pre-modern term before it was a postmodern term...).

I have some cool stuff I'd like to share with you, but it's late and I have to be up at 5am to drive to Seminary. Things you could be praying about:

1. 40 Pounds of Purpose
2. Writing a curriculum called: The Naked Truth, but it will actually be The Whole Naked Truth. If you don't understand the content, then you can ask your momma. I may actually make this into a book, too. We'll see.
3. I have another book idea that I am just in the beginning stages of outlining.
4. Wrapping up the final 6 weeks of seminary.
5. I just have to have 5, so I am putting this one here. :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

40 Pounds of Purpose - Days 1 & 2

There is something that I have been struggling with for the past 2 1/2 years. It's totally an acceptable sin/struggle, even in the most conservative circles, and it is not a new struggle for me. However, I have finally had enough. "I have what the doctors call a little bit of a weight problem." - Tommy Boy.

In the fall of 2002, my good friend Joel Engle gave me a talking to about my weight. He was very kind and willing to walk with me through repentance (and getting off my lazy rump) and got me started on a 'new way of life' (see Galatians 6:1-2). I lost over 30 lbs and was in the best shape of my life. Although my travel schedule continued to increase, I was able to stick to the diet/workout schedule pretty well and maintained a healthy body.

Then in June 2006, our sweet daughter Braelyn arrived. I had done pretty good during the pregnancy (as did Steph), but after B arrived, there were many late nights. Around this time we had discovered TV shows on DVD and I had (re)discovered Goldfish crackers. Many late nights up with the baby we would watch TV shows and I would chomp down on Goldfish crackers. I wish I could blame the entirety of my current predicament on Goldfish crackers, because that would be pretty cool, but that's just where it began.

So, here I am, 2 1/2 years later, 30 years old, 238 lbs, high-cholesterol, pre-diabetic, and borderline blood pressure. Not good. Something has got to change, so with the help of my dear wife, and the encouragement of some close friends, I am going to aggressively (Lord willing and Lord helping) attack this sin problem. Now, I am only a mild glutton (and for that I repent), but the deeper sin is entitlement.

Entitlement (a caveat of pride) is a wicked vice. It can manifest in many ways including times that I feel like I have been working hard, so why not comfort myself with some tasty treats? Or, I am feeling sorry for myself. Or, I am happy and wanting to celebrate (apparently I have a LOT to be happy about!). I have this Oprah-esque hidden belief that I 'deserve' all these good things in abundance. However, if these things are so good, then why am I finding myself at a fork in the road with 2 options. Option 1 - eat, drink, and be merry, but understanding that my close friends and family will have to explain to my dear daughter that, "Daddy just loved food and himself more than you and Mommy." Or, I can commit to being different, truly humbling myself, pulling an old word out of storage, "No", and humbling myself to specific forms of accountability.

Now, some of you, I'm sure are wondering why in the world I would post this? Is this a gross illustration of pride (I guess it can work in the direction of starving for humiliation, but that's not my pride-of-choice)? Or perhaps I just am starving for attention? No. As I get older I'm more of an introvert, especially as I have been learning to, "sit down on the inside" (Thanks, Neil). Then what gives?

It's really quite simple. I recall talking to an old friend of mine who has trouble with his weight/health and he told me the reason he went to Weight Watchers™ was because he was forced to humiliate himself once a weak by stepping on a scale in front of a group of other people. That was his last ditch effort, because everything else (done in the dark), didn't seem to help. Also, I need your help, but let me start with what I don't need from everyone on the face of the planet. I know there is a huge risk in doing this, but it's worth a shot.

What I don't need from you:

1. Uninvited accountability partners. There are several people I have talked to or intend on talking to later this week about this struggle. They will have the right to speak into my life. So, if I have not asked for this delicate help, then I don't expect you to run up and slap a cheeseburger out of my hand or ask me how many calories are in such-and-such. There will be days that I will have a treat or two, which will be determined by me and my dear wife.

2. Fat jokes are not funny. I'm pretty laid back with most things, but it has gotten old having people pat my belly and make jokes about Blue Bell, etc. Thank you, I know you mean well, but seriously, I am very much aware that I have gained weight. It's just hurtful. I'm a tough man, and if you've said something stupid (which I honestly don't recall the who's and what's) no need to apologize, just be aware.

3. Denial of my weight struggle. Now, if I were 165 pounds and 6 feet tall and was talking about aggressively losing weight, then I definitely would need a talking to. However, if a person has 2 eyes and believes in science, then it is apparent that some radical changes need to take place. So, please don't try to say, "You don't look that fat..." I mean, I can handle it, but seriously, not very helpful.

4. Tons of diet plans. If I ask for tips on here, please feel free to share. But, I have become diet-schizo trying to incorporate everyone elses diets into my life. I can't handle all of that. I've lost weight before, I know what my body responds to, so thanks, but not necessary. I like tips like, "Green Tea is a great substitute for coffee!" That's helpful, but, "Do this diet and you'll lose 85 pounds in 2 weeks!" - Not helpful.

5. Brussels Sprouts. I do not care how good they are for me. No.

How you can help:

1. Pray. Please pray. I know how cliche it may seem, but I cannot do this on my own, nor do I want to strain my marriage by having Steph have to 'force' me towards anything. I need the Lord's help.

2. Gift cards to HEB, Wal-Mart, GNC. Not really, but my family and I are committing to eat much 'cleaner' and I know the supplements that help my body function appropriately, so any love in that regards would be great. :-)

3. Join me. This is a bummer to do alone. I'd love for some of my friends out in the blogosphere to join me in committing to living healthier.

4. Healthy Food Options. I never want a guest to plan a meal around me, by any means. That is why I have not made specific food requests in my ministry agreements (even though my Doc was trying to make me do so). However, if you are going to have pizza, please have salad. There are days that I will still eat pizza, but I love pizza, and need to watch my intake. Or, if all else fails, just let me know ahead of time that you are going to have unhealthy food and I'll get something to eat on my own. Totally cool.

5. Encouragement. When I said previously that I did not want uninvited accountability partners, this does not mean at all that you cannot ask me how it is going or encourage me. I just need to have some healthy boundaries.

Now for the Days 1 & 2 Summaries:

DAY 1: I had committed last week that this Monday (March 16) I would begin eating better and working out. To be honest, I like to work out, it just takes so much time, of which I am often limited. However, as I was driving home yesterday afternoon, I realized that I had sprouted, bloomed, or whatever you want to call it. I actually had MAN-BOOBS! Frustrated, yet determined, I walked in the house, barely said 'Hello' to my wife and declared that I would be going to the gym. She could tell that I was feeling upset and asked what was wrong and I declared, "I HAVE MAN-BOOBS!" Apparently, she thought that was funny, and in hindsight, I suppose that astute observation (and truthful statement) could be a bit humorous. However, I didn't think it funny at the time, but appreciated her light-hearted response.

So, I went to the gym, worked my upper-body and then did 20 minutes of cardio (just walking, after lifting I lacked the energy to run with all this extra weight). I ate well yesterday, and Steph has been a big help. Also, I have been drinking a lot of Green Tea, I hear it's good for you and a healthy alternative to coffee.

Day 2: Today has been a good day so far. I drank a lot of water yesterday, so I have been a freqeuent guest to our 1-bathroom and at times to our backyard (hey, we live in the country!). I had some Fiber-One™ Cereal this morning and Green Tea. Went to the gym and did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. Am blogging now, drinking green tea, and about to go have lunch. Weighed in at the gym today and I'm still 238 lbs. As much as I was going tinkle, I had thought that I could have dropped a pound of water weight or something. No dice... Steph reminded me today, "It didn't take one day to put the weight on, so it's not going to come off in a day either." True. Encouraging and discouraging.

Well, I'm off for now. I started another blog to follow this journey and to offer public humiliation/encouragement. .

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No Comment... for now...

A friend sent me a link to this article today. As many of you know, I will be graduating from SWBTS on Saturday, May 9th. So, I won't be commenting until May 10th...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

When the One You Love is ADHD and/or Depressed

One of the toughest things for those who love and support someone struggling with ADHD and/or depression, but have not endured it themselves, is the inability to truly comprehend what it’s like. With ADHD a common question is, “Can’t you just make yourself focus?” This often leads to, “He can focus on things he likes: music, movies, video games, etc.” --> Which inevitably leads to some pretty acute feelings of bitterness if you are not careful.

However, once you realize that as annoying as it is for you, it is torturous for him. You may notice in the next few weeks (while in the beginning stages of taking his meds) that he may be irritable and quite a ‘jerk’, which unfortunately is one of the consequences of taking a stimulant to help you concentrate. I had a friend almost dump his girlfriend (who is now his wife), because he started taking medicine and “didn’t care”... It may not have that affect on him, but just something to be mindful of. This also doesn’t mean that you just let him treat you poorly, but hopefully it will help you take it a little less personally.

When a person is struggling with depression, I think it prudent to encourage them towards activity and help them to identify the positive things going on. If their life is just totally in the dumps, then I encourage them that it really can’t get any worse! ;-) However, you have to treat it like a marathon and not a sprint. Baby-steps are sometimes best when walking with someone with depression. Hopefully it passes in the matter of a week or two.

The issue of becoming overwhelmed by school is one I remember very well. Especially when I wasn’t totally certain about what I wanted to do. It seemed pointless and tiresome, especially the courses that ‘didn’t apply’ to what I wanted to do. Compound that with the struggle of paying attention, then it becomes quite normal to start feeling ‘stupid’ or just want to quit. For me, I had to get to the point where I began to learn to love to learn, and realized that college was a means to an end for me, not the end of it all. Some re-thinking and other times just pushing ahead (when I didn’t feel like it) helped me to get through my undergrad program and Lord-willing through with my masters this May.

So, what are you to do?
  1. Encourage him to make good choices when it comes to diet and sleep. The reality is, he needs to take better care of himself. I believe if he would take better care of himself, back off the caffeine and alcohol, eat healthier, and get plenty of sleep that he will see an improvement with his ADHD, Depression, and health in general.

  2. Don’t mother him. That is an improper role for you to take as a girlfriend or a wife. This doesn’t mean you’re a cold, mean woman, but it does mean that you don’t just stand by and let him stay where he is. However, there is that balance of girlfriend / boyfriend encouragement. It’s a little easier if you were his wife, but you are not, so that’s tough.

  3. Help him to set more realistic goals. I.E. - instead of thinking about a PhD or even graduation (if it is far off), help him set an academic goal for the week. If he can start experiencing some small victories, it will boost his confidence and help him to become more proactive.

  4. Help him learn how to become more organized. Rod Brace helped me a lot with that, it might be worth visiting his website and reading some of his articles. It really reduces stress.

  5. Remember, feeling overwhelmed and thus shutting down likely brings about most of his depression. One can only sustain high levels of stress for so long. So, like they say about how to eat an elephant, you need to remind him it is one bite at a time. Therefore, you need to help him identify the bites that he needs to take and empower/encourage him to take those ‘bites’.
**DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed professional in dealing with these issues. These are some tips based upon my experiences with these struggles.**

Friday, February 13, 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

Who are antagonists?

"Antagonists are individuals who on the basis of nonsubstantive evidence, go out of their way to make insatiable demands, usually attacking the person or performance of others. These attacks are selfish in nature, tearing down rather than building up, and are frequently directed against those in a leadership capacity."

-Kenneth C.Haugk
Antagonists in the Church

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rise Up - Unofficial Video

A Refreshing Drink

My soul has a been a bit dry lately. While I know that the Living Water has been given to me, and I'll never be thirsty again (see John 4), I believe that all followers of Christ have seasons when they are busy pouring out more than they are 'taking in'. I take full responsibility. It isn't as if God is running short of Himself. Afterall, he is eternal and infinite. The honest truth is, the last few months I had been far too busy and far too over-committed. It's my fault, and by God's grace He has placed people in my life (especially my wonderful bride) to wave the red flag and encourage me to slow down.

Over the break I had some good down-time and I'm feeling ready to take on the last semester of seminary. Also, over the last few weeks my 'tanks' have been refilled and I'm once again ready to charge Hell with a water pistol, as it were. However, there are times when we need a little encouragement, and it comes in many different shapes in forms. One of these great encouragements to me is the album Cannons by Phil Wickham. I just purchased it the other day, but God has been using it in a great way to stir my passions once again for Him. I thank God, and I thank Mr. Wickham.

Just a friendly reminder (to myself included) that our hope isn't in music, speakers, preachers, books, friends, pastors, etc. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. When discerning the benefit of a 'resource' we must always answer the question, "Does this stir my passions for God?" and/or "Does this encourage me towards Christ?" If we just feel 'spiritual' with no specific direction, then we are setting ourselves up for great disappointment at best, and idolatry at worst.

So, if you have $7.99 laying around you can go to and download the MP3 album and enjoy. His first self-titled album Phil Wickham is also great.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our Mini "Vay-cay"

Steph and I are currently sitting in one of our favorite coffee shops in the country, Brasil, down on Westheimer in Houston. We have taken a 2-night 'vay-cay' to spend sometime investing in our relationship, celebrating our anniversary, and re-charging our batteries before my final semester in seminary. Our goals are: shop with Christmas money, eat well, sleep, eat, sleep, drink coffee, read, blog, shop, shop, eat, etc.

Since I travel quite a bit, I have learned that you can find great deals on and in the past we have gotten some sweet deals. So, as we were planning our little escape I went on Priceline and I put in $75/night for the Galleria area. To my pleasant surprise, we got a room at the InterContinental Hotel near the Galleria!!! Too good to be true?

I was amazed! Feeling proud (borderline arrogant) I boasted to my bride of our win and I shared my victory with my friends. It's a beautiful, high-end, 4-star hotel, and we got it for $75/night!!! How in the world could an expensive, plush, hotel afford to put commoners like us in its beautiful rooms for $75/night. However, when we got into our room, we figured it out.

We are on the 5th floor at the end of the building, right next to the workout room. The room itself is beautiful, but once you open the curtains, here is what you see:

It quickly became apparent why they were able to give us the room for $75/night. I was a little bitter about it, but I did ask the guy at the desk to, "give us the best we can get for what we paid for." He was probably thinking, "He he heh, I have a room for you, cheapskate!" However, we are grateful for our time, and don't care about the view. We'll enjoy living like royaltly on a paupers budget for a few days!

More to come, I'm sure.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy 8th Anniversary, My Love!

My Soul Mate

My Best Friend

My Lover
(Don't worry kids, it makes God happy!)