Monday, December 8, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
a couple of weeks ago, i sat with my friends and ministry family @ bgm and we were talking about 2009 and what our desire was for our areas of ministry. if you're not familiar, bgm is involved in all kinds of ministries. first, there is brent, who travels and speaks (the "DOT" com of the ministry); aaron loy, who travels and leads music--he's incredible by the way; terra nova student conferences--one of the most amazing worship experiences available for teenagers today; 7 trips to HAITI to impact a country that needs Jesus desperately, and myLIFEspeaks.
as we all shared about our areas of ministry, my turn came. i shared what God has been leading me to in my heart since April 17, 2006--to move myLIFEspeaks out from the "church" side of ministry and into the business/corporate world. i want to see ministry done in the marketplace...funny since i've been in the church world my ENTIRE working LIFE.
fast forward to Friday of that week when i got a phone call from the owner of a new company called "W1" and he wanted to meet for lunch. we met and he shared with me his vision for a company that was about WELLNESS. i was intrigued. i was hooked when he began talking about his working definition of wellness--including the BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT.
because i'm trying to be respectful of space here, let's just fast forward to what i'll be doing with W1. i'm going to be the director of sales and marketing. a new position for me, but a great transition. i will get to use the myLIFEspeaks process and ministry to help others during their seminars, teachings, and philosophy. i get to work with a group of believers with the desire to see ministry happen outside the church and in the marketplace, and i also get to help others get WELL--body, mind, and SPIRIT. i get the chance to interact with people and help them on their journey of LIFE...and just like the lady i met in hong kong a few months ago...help them begin their journey to Jesus!
i'll update more in the days to come...and the website should be up soon! go get well!
i start January 1, 2009. our first introduction weekend is january 2-4, 2009. interested? let me know!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
i just signed up for something that might be one of my favorite freebies of all times. i'm a sucker for something free, whether it's a ringtone for my cell phone or a sticker in the mail. i genuinely like free stuff. so you can imagine what a doofus i am when it comes to things like a trade show. i'm the guy that goes booth to booth and foregoes looking at the booths purpose, and focuses on the FREE STUFF.
that being said, if you like books, like to actually READ them, and would like free books, check this out. thomas nelson is giving away free books if you will review them. kind of like what you already do, like when i read CRAZY LOVE by francis chan and it rocked my world. i immediately went out and told my friends they HAD to get that book. i didn't give them mine because i'm still re-reading it and marking it up. like when i read frank viola's book, pagan christianity, i began to talk to others about it. i started challenging people about the "why" of the things we do as Christians that either make us look better or worse in religion's eyes.
so, with that being said, if you are one of the people who check this blog out, like to read, and have a blog, i would highly recommend this like to you...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 1:47 PM
Monday, October 27, 2008
with the last couple of posts about fear, i have come to realize that many things have caused me to be unnecessarily fearful in my LIFE. i have actually come to realize that many of these fears are needless and pretty petty. so, with that in mind, i thought i would finish this mini-series with a more practical approach to fear.
as you face today, one thing is certain, you WILL be faced with opportunities for fear. whether you choose to give in to those opportunities or not is completely up to you. you can choose to fear the future, the economy, the election, the monday night football game, or whether you will wake up or not. you really can choose to fear each of these things and more.
first, let's look at what fear is defined as:
a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. (www.dictionary.com)
second, let's look at it through this lens...
can i really trust God?
i think that's an important question, and rather than give anecdotes, i'm going to leave it at your feet. i know we all have fears...some are good--like the fear i have of snakes--i'll never get bitten if i consciously stay away from snakes (unless one sneaks up on me). some fears are crippling to us--like a phobia--which keeps us from doing something we might like to do. yesterday, e-dub missed out on a chance to go with d-money and a few of the neighbors on an excursion that ended with them being able to shoot bb guns. e-dub wanted to go but there was one HUGE problem...maggie. our neighbor's boxer was going on the trip. so e-dub's fear crippled him to the point of not being able to leave the driveway to just walk across the street to their house and hop in the truck. definitely a fear that kept him from something he wanted to do.
i realize e-dub will probably avoid being bitten by a dog simply because he avoids them at all costs, but some day, he might miss out on something AMAZING because of his fear. i also know that for me to simply look at him yesterday while he stood in the driveway and tell him to just "trust God" wouldn't have worked. he has to EXPERIENCE a God worth trusting...
if we trust God it's because we see Him as trustworthy. i don't trust politicians because i don't see them as trustWORTHY. i think they ALL lie. i think they ALL mis-lead us. i think they ALL are a little bit shady...even the ones who have the approval of focus on the family!
i think learning to trust God only comes when we actually meet God. not knowing ABOUT God, or our family's faith, or our spouse's faith, or a faith we read about in a book. trust comes when we have faith in a God that we KNOW intimately and personally, and before you know it, our fears of the little things tend to vanish, then BAM, we're trusting Him with big fears, decisions, and plans...
just a thought.
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 8:45 AM
Friday, October 24, 2008
Words Could Never Describe
Posted using ShareThis
this is quite possibly the best piece of "worst ever" i could imagine. hearing a rumor that this is from some cult, but sadly it could be from any number of churches i have either been to, been a part of, or know of. enjoy and laugh today! remember, God has a sense of humor.
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 7:48 AM
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
as i think about fear, i have to come clean about one of my greatest fears...currently. i struggle to let others know about it, because it makes me sound so out of control...which i am at this point of my LIFE.
my greatest fear occurs about 3 times a week...sometimes less and sometimes more. each morning that i wake up and don't hear lane playing in his room, brings me my biggest fear...what if something has happened to him during the night?
this might sound like a needless fear or you might think agree. the truth is, i don't care if you agree or disagree on this one. it's a very real fear for me recently, and i don't know why.
most mornings when i wake up around 6:10 to wake d-money up for school, lane has been up for a while and is already playing with his toys and making all kinds of noise. occasionally though, he sleeps all night and that means i have to wake him up...it also means that i don't hear his tell-tale signs of laughter, his shrieks, or the sound of his toys piercing through our downstairs.
up until recently, i longed to have lane sleep through the night, much like d-money and for the most part, e-dub, but now i find myself fearful of the "what if?" feeling. i think the hardest part of all of that is knowing that one day, none of us will be here, but the reality of lane not waking up one day or having a seizure that he never recovers from is a VERY REAL possibility in our world. i also know that when that day comes for lane, his world will go from horrible and painful to instant bliss. he will stand before his creator for the first time on legs that work and his eyes will work and his first sight will be he face of Jesus! i rejoice at the mere thought of knowing lane is going to be great one day, but the fear is still there today.
why? why would i choose to fear when i really do trust and believe with everything in me that it's going to be ok? am i afraid of the pain it would cause our family? am i ashamed that it might happen while we are sleeping and therefore it would be blamed on us? i really don't think it's any of those, i think it's actually a bigger character flaw within myself. i think it's my realization and reality that i really have NO control over it. i don't think i have worried about d-money or e-dub not waking up since they were mere infants, but lane's different...and fragile...and it's a real possibility that he might not wake up one day, but regardless is it fair to the rest of the family or to him to let fear have a place inside a heart that isn't supposed to fear? is it right to fear the uncertain...and is it truly uncertain if i truly believe?
i have to think about the story of Jesus and the dad of the son with seizures. the story in Mark 9. check it out below with my commentary.
14-16When they came back down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them, and the religion scholars cross-examining them. As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them. They ran and greeted him. He asked, "What's going on? What's all the commotion?"
because, when religious people get around those who truly follow Jesus, a fight usually ensues over who's really right...
17-18A man out of the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn't."
a seizure...want to get attention? have one! i can actually feel that dad's pain. i can feel his hopelessness, his frustration, and his anger. i might even go as far as saying he could even be a little more than ticked that he's helpless when all this happens. what good dad would just sit back and watch this happen to his son? and then he goes to get help from Jesus' disciples, and they were helpless too. so this is what was in store for his son for the rest of his LIFE? i'm so glad we have a great neurologist, that i trust, but this guy had nothing like that.
19-20Jesus said, "What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here." They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.
first, the AMAZING sense of sarcasm and frustration in Jesus, and second, the mere contact with Jesus' presence brought the funk from the demon. maybe there's something more to that than we've previously given Jesus credit with. His presence should royally tick off some demons and evil around us...
21-22He asked the boy's father, "How long has this been going on?"
"Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!"
notice, Jesus didn't just jump right in and help out. He didn't just bail the dad out of his pain and suffering...again, ANOTHER LIFE lesson
23Jesus said, "If? There are no 'ifs' among believers. Anything can happen."
24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, "Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!"
I NEED TO HEAR THIS! I have if's! they are crippling and they suck the faith out. thank God for this passage and for a dad who was willing to do anything for his son.
25-27Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: "Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!" Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, "He's dead." But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.
of course a crowd was forming. you have Jesus and then a seizure. why would a crowd not want to watch THAT trainwreck?
28After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, "Why couldn't we throw the demon out?"
29He answered, "There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer."
from the message paraphrase
so what am i praying for today that is preparing me for what i'm not going to be able to do on my own tomorrow?
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 10:03 AM
Monday, October 6, 2008
so now it's october, and fear is a big word. some people are going to spend their money to go and be scared...or at least try to find something that scares them. horror movies are rented, pants are soiled, and adrenaline races...all for the quest of fear.
i for one am not a big fan of being scared. i kind of hate it. i grew up afraid. i was afraid of the dark, afraid to walk up the stairs by myself because i just KNEW that someone was going to grab my leg through the railing, i was petrified when cujo jumped through the window (if you don't know what i'm talking about you're just too young), and the sight of a hockey mask still makes me shiver a little bit. one of my most embarrassing moments of ALL-TIME involves myself and fear. we were walking one friday night late to the "asylum" in knoxville--an old "supposed" abandoned insane asylum--with a bunch of people. i remember it was dark and just the intensity of the moment made me jumpy. i remember looking at the group of guys i was with (richard, chris, and maybe one other person) and making the stupidest statement of all time--"hey guys, no FAKE scaring!" i couldn't shove the words back in my mouth fast enough. richard reminded me of that statement for months. i still would expect he would remember it if i ran into him today.
the bottom line is simple, i HATE being scared. i have gone into "punch first, and ask questions later" mode as i get older, and have had to be mindful of a young child coming to the bedside on more than one occasion. i thankfully still haven't hit one yet!
so what do you do when you get scared? do you panic? do you freeze in horror? do you shriek? do you get aggressive? i don't know why, but all of those reactions are pretty normal.
my own kids have their own fears. e-dub HATES thunder and storms. this morning when we got out of the car to go into school, his first question to me was to find out if it was supposed to storm today. the only word for what goes through his mind...panic! lane absolutely DETESTS air horns! we found that out on saturday at the football game. a couple of moms chose to bring them to the game and every time he heard one, he went nuts! screaming and crying were plentiful...and not that kind of crying that says i'm hurt, it was that horrible, i really hate that and i'm scared kind of scream. d-money is just like me. he HATES to be startled...and i know it and do it more than anyone else. EVERY SINGLE TIME i jump out or scream, his reaction is the same, "DAD! AAAAHHHH! that's SOOO STUPID!" i know how he feels, and have actually taken a vow to not do that again...because i remember how i hated it.
for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline...2 timothy 1:7
so why is our first reaction usually fear instead of power, love, and self-discipline? i know this is a stretch for this verse, and i know that this verse is (in context) is an encouragement to timothy by paul, to live a LIFE that would be confident in Christ, but what i don't know is why we so often live in fear of things.
can the boogie man really grab me as i walk up the stairs? he sure can if God allows it, but he could also walk up to me in the middle of the super-giant-mega-mart and grab me in the middle of the soft drinks...if God allows it. so why do i spend so much time and energy focusing on the fear instead of the power, love, and self-discipline?
just a thought...and oh yeah...it IS STORMING today!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
we're still a viable band--bring it on...as long as it doesn't interfere with our family lives, which is the number-one priority for all of us. which makes (our band) number two. sorry, everybody out there. but if our families came second, the band would implode.
you might be like me and read a quote like that and ponder the wisdom of the statement. you might think this statement came from a giant in the "Christian" music sector, who has learned over the years to champion the cause of his or her family because they realized ministry has to start in the home. you might think about giving this band a listen, since obviously their priorities are closer to where they "should" be. or you might even be taken back by the sincerity of the statement, but i can almost guarantee you that you never expected this statement to come from the source it came from.
you see, the ONLY magazine i currently subscribe to is rolling stone. it was a personal choice a few years ago when i realized i was getting everything from similar sources. i have NOTHING wrong with other magazines or magazines that would be labeled "Christian." i pick them up from time to time and even make mental notes about things that challenge and spur me on. the reason i chose to no longer subscribe to any of the "professional" Christian mags was simple...i was tired of looking at pages that seemed to advertise every possible way to get my ministry to succeed. ads for software, hardware, marketing, books, conferences, etc. if you don't believe me, just pick up a journal or magazines for vocational minsters and look at the ads...promises to help anyone be successful...and quite frankly it just bugged me.
i chose rolling stone for a couple of reasons. one, it was highly recommended by a good friend in ministry...someone i did and still do look up to. someone with a great ministry to people on the "outside" of the church culture. the second reason was even simpler. i could get a LIFETIME subscription for $99. that's right, for two years of a journal, or a few years of "help" mags, i could get an issue every other week for the rest of my LIFE...so i did it. i subscribed.
i love the way rolling stone (rs) is written. i like the wit, biting satire, and most importantly hearing what people (who i had no clue ever existed--the "other" side) believe. all that being said, it's important that i point out, I DO NOT ENDORSE OR AGREE WITH EVERYTHING PRINTED IN ROLLING STONE. it has language that would get my kids (and my own) mouth washed out with soap more often than not (but words i have heard more than once--even recently--on the youth football field, by coaches, parents, and even kids!). it is completely slanted to a non-God and unbiblical view, and the political section is quite possibly as far away from what i believe as possible. i have the UTMOST respect for matt taibbi, who is the political guru there, because i enjoy his style, wit, and biting sarcasm--something we might have in common. i have to admit i wonder often why he is so anti-God and anti-Christianity. my own opinion is that he has experienced hurt in the form of church like so many of us have. i have seen it more than once, this time it's being thrown out in the open rather than hidden. rs many times glamorizes things that i believe makes God show His mercy by holding back His wrath for another moment. for every morsel like the one above, there are 3 more that make me cringe. i have to rely on God to show me what i need to read. it helped tremendously that rs put the above quote in one of its captions under a picture (which having severe ADD helped me find it!).
so, you probably want to know who said it. i was amazed to know, it was metallica's kirk hammett. i have to admit, metallica was one of the groups that was "off-limits" for me growing up. their album titles like, "kill 'em all, master of puppets, and ride the lightning" were just too "out there" for our family, so like with so many other taboo things, i chose to hide it.
i read that quote and am amazed by it. it could have come from a marriage conference, a pulpit, or any number of places, but it came from one of the heaviest metal bands ever. a band that has come through addictions, losing a member in a tour bus crash, anger issues, counseling, and more funk than anyone can imagine, and triumphed. they have found sobriety (for those who chose it), family, and fun...all without Jesus. THAT'S the worst part. how many people do i know or bump into who appear to have things all worked out, or even figured out? do i even look past the surface, and do i even care?
so there you have it. i subscribe to rolling stone, play rock band on the xbox 360, and am amazed by quotes from metallica (didn't even have time to talk about their new album or the song, "the judas kiss," here). maybe i'm mixed up, but i'm definitely going to let my LIFE speak to others who are searching, hurting, and looking for something out there in this crazy world...
oh yeah, my boys love music to. dmoney has a guitar that he's seriously thinking about trying to learn to play, lane is a wiz with one hand on the piano and keyboard, and e-dub is SERIOUSLY a drummer. what if they grow up to be in a band?
businessmen? is it all really a metal act?
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 9:06 AM
Friday, September 26, 2008
tonight i'm in naples, florida getting ready to speak at a single's conference. i'm doing a general session tonight and a breakout tomorrow. i have to wonder, when the people listen to me, what will they be learning?
i'm praying they learn that God is teaching me that i don't have to have all of the answers, even though the outside world, and many times the church-world, try to convince me i do. i want to live each day in the grace and rest of Christ, and through His teaching and leading, be able to experience LIFE as He would have me go through it.
what if He's leading me to sell my house? what if this economic time of crisis doesn't clear up tomorrow? what if He tells me to be a part of a church that isn't like anything i've ever been before? at first it sounds beautiful and almost romantic, to think of doing church in a new way, but this weekend has taught me, i'm pretty cynical.
the cynicism comes from watching things from a distance for a while. it comes from promises broken, hurtful statements, and watching my kids have a jaded view of God. regardless of all that though, my cynicism is not necessary. i have become nothing more than a prosecutor of pharisees, and NOT a lover of Christ.
it's easier to point the finger at the religious, especially when it's my pet peeve, but it's so hard to watch God point back at me and remind me that i have been just as silly...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 3:30 PM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
i was getting ready for our office bible study last night here at the bgm office, when a friend told me about a magazine controversy.
can you imagine a magazine that could only be purchased by asking for it? while a store might carry it, they definitely wouldn't put it out on the shelves for others to see. you know the magazines that i am describing...the seedy magazines that have wrappers on them so children can't see the cover. wal-mart even blocks the covers of the weekly tabloids to keep kids from seeing who is losing how much weight and who is addicted to what.
imagine how i felt when i read that LifeWay Christian Stores was the store, and Gospel Today, was the magazine! the magazine was pulled not because of sexual or risque pictures, but because it portrayed women pastors.
i just keep having questions as i see things like this...why? if it's a fundamental difference with the magazine, why carry it? if it's going to cause problems, why have the magazine at all? but then, wouldn't other titles need to be pulled from the shelves? how about rick warren's, purpose driven life? didn't that cause a great controversy? how about the book that's causing uproars everywhere (and exciting even more people)--the shack?
how can LifeWay pull this magazine cover, and keep a book like pagan christianity on its shelves? this book by george barna and frank viola challenges EVERYTHING about the church...going as far as calling many things--like worship services--pagan!
just one more instance of someone making a decision, that might not have been the brightest...seems to be the theme in the religious world lately...and we tend to wonder why people aren't acting interested in hearing our strategies of evangelism.
maybe we don't need a strategy any more. maybe we need to fall so madly in love with the Creator God that HE influences everything we do. maybe we need to quit worrying about being the filter and keeping things from those who can't handle it, and start letting HIM take control. yes, i completely understand the need for filters (it's why Cartoon Network is blocked from my televisions at home!), but could it be we focus too much on the how, the why, the method, and the plan, and don't focus enough on the WHO. yes, i know i sound jaded and cynical...and i AM. i am because i'm seeing that we're selling people something that isn't real, rather than introducing them to SOMEONE who loves them and wants to consume them. the One who is going to make the changes happen. the One who is responsible for LIFE. the One who cares so much He offered His grace freely and without second thought...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 9:25 AM
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
i drive by a particular church parking lot every few weeks, and one things sticks out in my mind. the parking lot has a larger metal barrier which is locked at the front. (for honesty's sake, this isn't the actual sign or barrier, but it'll have to do until i can take a picture of the actual one...) i realize this gate is opened probably every sunday for services, and possibly for other events, but i have NEVER seen the parking lot open. i wonder what happened in this particular parking lot that made this congregation choose to put a barrier up? brings to mind the movie "footloose." if we put an end to ALL non-church sanctioned music...that'll fix our problems with our children.
why do people work so hard to keep people out? i thought the church was the place to bring people to? i realize some VERY un-godly things could have (and probably did) happen in this parking lot (as they do in many church parking lots) at one time, but i still have a hard time reconciling the reasoning behind the gate...oh well...
maybe that has more to say about the church's influence in the community than anything else...makes me wonder if the church has a parking lot ministry...or if they've been successful at keeping the "wrong" elements out (of their church that is)?
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 2:09 PM
Monday, September 22, 2008
this sunday we had a chance to visit another church with some great friends. they have been inviting us to go with them for quite a while. we went and the impression i was left with: the people we knew that went there all told us the same thing, "this morning's not as good as the last few weeks."
i don't really know how to take that. i don't know if i should be frustrated or not, but i want to go somewhere that's ALWAYS exciting...so i guess we'll keep looking for a while...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 9:32 AM
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
this weekend was another great Franklin Cowboy fun weekend. big e got his first win over the goodlettsville trojans CC team 33-19. he didn't get to play as much as his dad would have liked, but i think it bothered me more than him. he was excited to play, and more than hustled each time they called him in to the game. e DID have a tackle
d's team won handily 56-0 over the goodlettsville trojan AA team. the game saw d get the chance to play qb since our starting qb is out again this week with a knee injury. d did a great job and he also ran a kickoff back for a touchdown, ran in for a couple of scores, and made some huge tackles.
then, we decided to go back to watch our friends on the AAA team play goodlettsville. about 3 minutes into the game, e came running over crying. needless to say his front teeth were in major need of removal. he said he "got hit in the mouth by a kid." after much investigating and tears, we decide to forego the interviews with other boys and get e some water, paper towels, and instructions to remove his messed up teeth--no chance. it was way too difficult for him to do alone.
after the game, we got home, put e to bed, and mom gently reached into his mouth and removed BOTH of them...
now what's he going to ask for at Christmas time?
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 10:52 AM
Friday, September 5, 2008
today, i saw this picture and realized that it really shows what my LIFE looks like sometimes. as i look at this picture, i see the parallel to my own LIFE.
many times my LIFE is just like the room behind this window. people can see my LIFE, but i choose to guard it, bar it, and even though others can see the truth, i try to tell them everything is ok.
the best part of this picture to me is the brick wall behind the iron bars and broken glass. whatever is behind that window must either be valuable or horrific...
when you look at this picture, what do you see? do you see your LIFE?
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 10:07 AM
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
today, i'm sitting in a hospital waiting room, while my friend brent has sinus surgery. i've been here for a while, and just discovered they have wi-fi here...so what better time to update the blog?
the televisions in the surgery center are all turned to cnn today, and the topic of conversation is...the republican national convention. i've heard enough about sarah palin, her pregnant daughter, and john mccain. in fact, i think i've heard more than enough. i am officially over it. i am sick of the over-pressed coverage of politics.
as i ask the question today, how do you want to be remembered, there are reasons for it. i wonder how politicians want to be remembered. i wonder how reporters want to be remembered. i wonder how i want to be remembered.
i don't know about the rest of those, but i want to be remembered as someone who got past the religion of the day. i want to be known as someone who was truly different because of my relationship with Christ. i want to be someone who has been changed at the very core of who i am.
i don't want to be known as someone who is a part of a particular group, denomination, or even someone who is a rule-follower. i want my love for Christ to show me as different...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 12:54 PM
Thursday, August 28, 2008
it's that time of year...time when things are more exciting than just about any other time of year...it's time for LABOR DAY. With Labor Day just around the corner, that means some other pretty exciting things are coming too. things like:
1. the beginning of Franklin Cowboy Football
2. the beginning of college football (not just one team, but ALL teams) College Football!
3. the beginning of NFL football. that's right, it's time for the pros to earn their dough...
4. the "chase" for the sprint cup is almost here. i haven't really been able to watch too much, but it's still a great time.
5. fall break and our annual ltrip with friends to the redneck capital of the world--Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
this year, we're going to do something special on Labor Day...we're finally going to be able to go see my dad again. I haven't been able to get to see him since his accident, so i'm really looking forward to going to see him. i have had to make some tough decisions over the past few weeks, about whether to spend time with the boys (healthy) or to go see him (trying to get healthy), and i have chosen to spend some time with the boys. after being gone so much over the past few months, it has been a necessity to be home with the boys for some time. now, we're ALL going to get to go see mom and dad for the weekend.
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 12:38 PM
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
today, i'm blogging from my new office. it's not an elaborate space, nor does it have a great view...in fact, it doesn't even have a window. what it does have though is a great attitude, great camaraderie, and the opportunity for me to share a space with the people in my LIFE who spur me on to do great things for God.
without this space, i might be in a coffee shop somewhere, looking cool, sipping a coffee, and being a part of the "in" crowd, but i would have missed out on a great day, where God reminded me that He loves me, He has a plan for myLIFEspeaks, and He really is in control...
i don't think i've been able to say that about any spot over the past few years...
so it really is a new office...and a brand new day!
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 1:43 PM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
today i began a new page in LIFE. i joined the social networking hyper-information world of "Twitter". i can let others know what i'm doing as the time goes by. so, come follow me... we'll see how that works. it should actually be kind of fun. i'm looking forward to it.
thanks don, for helping me take the leap.
i had a great time this morning with a couple of meetings with friends. first, brian encouraged me to write...always good. then, what a humbling time i spent this morning with don, who truly cares about the family and me. it's rather embarrassing at times to think about even questioning whether people want to join in LIFE with you or not...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 12:41 PM
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
i realized something today. i'm 36 and probably half (or more) of my LIFE is gone. what is there to show for it? sure i have a smokin' hott wife, 3 awesome and talented kids, a great house, 2 mini-vans, and a daughter...but what is left at the end of LIFE that makes God smile?
it hit me today that i have spent most of my LIFE trying to get the next, biggest, best, thing to survive this temporary existence. what would change if i TRULY believed that God wanted me to live for Him each day? would i hold on dearly to the house? the cars (NO!)? i would want to love my wife more, my kids more like Christ, and then, i want to have a legacy that says...i loved Christ with everything.
my LIFE hasn't said that up until this point...maybe now it is, but it hasn't. pretty sobering thought...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 11:14 AM
Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
when i think about the question, "what are you FOCUSING on?" i have to be real. i believe that i am learning to focus on God with my complete LIFE. i have been reading "Crazy Love," by francis chan, and have been both challenged and encouraged by his description of lukewarm people. i believe i am learning to recognize His hand at work in all of me. i want to make more of what He has given me, and i want to be willing to let go of more that belongs to Him...i want to focus on His call and not walk away from it.
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 11:01 AM
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
i'm celebrating my birthday today away from the family. it's a little rough being away from them, but also re-assuring because i have been able to talk to them, hear them sing, and know that they are praying for me. i know that the roughest part of LIFE right now for me is getting used to the travel and being away from the family, but i know that God is going to use this time to impact the lives of so many.
what a blessing to know that God has given us a story that just might change the lives of others.
today, i shared part of our story with the group here in arkansas, and am so relaxed knowing that our story might help others either begin their walk with Christ or it might encourage them to take it more seriously...
what is your LIFE saying today?
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 10:53 AM
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
what do you do when things are out of your control?
that's a very real question to me these days. i think the most difficult part of LIFE right now is knowing that the majority of my LIFE is out of my control. i am completely living in a dependent state. i depend on God first and foremost to get me through the day, to get me up in the mornings, and to sustain my being.
i depend on my wife to take care of the kids while i'm gone. i depend on her to be the glue that is holding things together while i'm traveling. i depend on her to make sure things get done while i'm away...like getting kids to football, to voice lessons, and everywhere else they need to go.
i depend on the boys to help their mom. i depend on them to listen, be respectful, and to help even in instances when mom doesn't ask for it.
i depend on katie to help too. i depend on her to help get the boys around, to help with lane, and to walk with Christ.
as much as i hate to admit it, this LIFE of dependency is difficult. i don't have a regular "steady" job for the first time in 14 years. i don't have a "church" to call home. i don't know what things are going to look like next week, next month, or even next year.
i don't have a place to regularly plug into. it was so much easier when everything fell into place, but i'm finding out that God isn't concerned with things falling into place on my schedule, rather He's going to continue to want me to live for Him, and remember, regardless of what my fears tell me, that He is going to see us through--and He will. it might mean a big lifestyle change, moving, or facing my greatest fears and being a part of a different church, but i KNOW God is going to do something amazing in our lives, and I WILL DEPEND ON HIM.
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 10:52 AM
Monday, August 4, 2008
for the first time in a long time, sunday was different for our family. we didn't go to church. it's not that we haven't missed church in the past 14 years, but it was the reality of not having a place to call home. we didn't go to two rivers, which has been our home church for the past 9 years for obvious reasons, and we didn't go anywhere else because, well, we chose to stay home. i guess part of my thinking was, if i'm going to miss brother jerry's last sunday there after 22 years, i'm not going anywhere. i don't think i expected to have a difficult time with the decision. in fact, i was absolutely excited to know that we had the freedom to CHOOSE to stay at home and sleep in. the reality however was much different. there was a heaviness in our house. the sleep wasn't that great and even going to the pool with the boys wasn't what i had hoped it would be. i had a blast with them, but something was missing. the emptiness compounded with my chance meeting with a lady on saturday afternoon who chose to tell me (RANDOMLY) about how great her church was (fellowship bible church ) and that i would be welcomed there and would love it. she even went on to say (in our 5 minute conversation) that she had grown up southern baptist, and had found a home at fellowship. she was drawn to it because it wasn't legalistic, nor was she looked down on because of what she drove or what she drank. she truly was excited about her church and what was happening in her LIFE. now, i must admit, THAT IS EXACTLY what i think church is supposed to be about...being so excited about something that is drawing you closer to Christ, further from legalism, and removing you from bitterness. i think i want to be a part of something like that. now, do i want to be a part of something like that that is already going, or am i going to be a part of something that isn't yet known? there, it's out there. i'm praying through it! pray with me, won't you?
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 10:25 AM
Monday, July 21, 2008
i must say that the internet is an amazing thing that sometimes really helps. it's been cool to see what i can do and how i can get the message out.
last night i spoke at River of LIFE in Smyrna. it was a smaller group, but i must say, it was an amazing time to share what God has me being about in my LIFE right now.
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 9:15 AM
Sunday, July 20, 2008
today, missy and i ventured out to a new church. we visited GracePointe Church in Brentwood with some friends.
i must say, it was definitely odd to just GO to church. we talked about it in the van on the way with the whole family in tow, that today was the first time since the first couple of weeks in seminary that we didn't know where to go to church. we have been going to church where i have worked for almost 14 years...pretty amazing.
all in all the service was good, the people were nice, and the experience was pleasurable, but it was definitely difficult knowing our home church was going through so much.
we're going to keep seeking and searching as we look for THE place where we'll wind up, but until we do, we're going to enjoy the process. what else can you do?
Thursday, July 10, 2008
as i think about the things i learned, i have to let you know one more thing i have learned from my kids.
2. when i lay my kids down to sleep, one of the things i try to do with them is pray. i know, as a professional Christian you might expect that from me, but i do try to make it happen. unfortunately i get caught up like many people do, in getting the task done so they can get to bed and so i can finally wind down and crash myself. with summer upon us, it seems like i'm going to bed at the same time as my kids these days.
ok, so here's the lesson:
when Lane was young and still in the NICU, we got ready to leave one night, and we said his prayers over him. we quickly realized that we had "punched the clock." we learned it because we hadn't gotten too far down the road and my pager (yep, old school pager with a beeper) went off. we were notified to come back to the NICU. since we didn't have a cell phone, we immediately turned the car around and headed back to the NICU. when we got there we were greeted by a doctor who told us that things were ok now, but that Lane had stopped breathing while we were gone--even while he was on a ventilator. he explained that Lane was having bronchospasms--where his lungs just couldn't get air and no matter how hard the ventilator worked, they were helpless.
when things finally settled down early the next morning, Missy and i decided it was time to head home and try to get some rest. then we prayed with Lane again and realized the line in the prayer that we couldn't get past...."If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take..."
how do you pray that prayer knowing that it might come true? how do you pray and ask God to take care of your child who might die, when He just might do it? the only answer i have is faith. i don't know how, i don't know when, but i know it happened. we began to have a different faith. one that wasn't out for a comfortable moment, but one that said God actually knew best. one that said, our house will be great for Lane and we will take care of him, BUT God's house will be even better and God will take even BETTER care of him.
what a humbling and sober moment for a parent. i wasn't prepared for it. even with my professional Christian status and my theological training, i wasn't prepared for that giant growth of my faith, and God knew it. He knew i wasn't prepared, but He knew i was ready.
So today, regardless of what comes, i don't have to be prepared to learn, just ready. that's why through all of this with my Dad i REFUSE to give up. i REFUSE to blame ANYONE and i REFUSE to get angry. I don't have the right to question God's choice of when it is time for me to grow, i just need to be ready. i don't like growing, but i don't think Jonah, Job, Paul, Simon Peter, Moses, Noah, Samson, or anyone else did either. (pretty eclectic list huh?--and notice they all didn't handle things right!)
what are you going to do with your growing opportunity today?
if you have heard about Sunday's message at Two Rivers, then you might have heard i spoke a little about this. Here is the outline...
1. Our Problems are OUR opportunity to find God's strength and power.
Romans 8:18-19, 28, 31-32
2. Our problems are OUR opportunity to find OUR weaknesses
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Paul's background 2 Corinthians 11:24-29
2 Corinthians 4:8
3. Our problems are OUR opportunity to explore the height and depth of God.
then we sang Great is THY Faithfulness...
you can check out the podcast, by subscribing at www.tworivers.org
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 10:34 AM
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
if you know me, you know i really like to learn. i like to read and i like to watch those shoes on the discovery channel and national geographic channel that no one else watches. now that i have HD tv i find myself watching more weird stuff!
over the past few months i've learned some things. i think i will share them with you in the days to come. today, i want you to know what Lane has taught me...
1. Lane taught me that i am his version of what God looks like--really.
this is how it played out. we were in his room one day and i asked Lane, "who loves you?" he immediately answered, "GAAHHD." if you have heard him say this, you can imagine the sound. it was pretty cool. on this particular day i decided to take it a step or two further. i asked Lane, "where does God live?" Lane took his thumb and hit his chest a couple of times and said, "AAAAHHHRR." that's Lane for HEART.
i beamed as a proud dad who realized his son was getting it. i don't know how much he got, but i most definitely knew he was getting something, so i decided to take it a step further. i asked Lane, "who ELSE loves you?" Lane quickly replied, "DADDEEEY!" yes, i smiled again with pride.
then i did something i had never done before and hadn't planned to do. i asked Lane, "who is God?" i did this because i honestly expected him to respond with the sign language for Jesus, or say "GAAHHD", or anything else, but he didn't. he said, "DADDEEEY!" i quickly told him "no, daddy's not God."
i asked again and again, he answered the same. i was beginning to worry about him. i know he has severe brain damage and doesn't comprehend a lot of what we say, AND he functions on about an 18 month level, but what was i doing to my child? was i locking something into his brain that was forever going to ruin him? was i going to cause him to miss out on faith in Christ because of how he was answering? was i scarring him for LIFE? Funny how when we begin thinking we're so important we realize how quickly we mess things up!
then i realized that what i was seeing was something i had heard for so many years. i was actually witnessing what i have told so many people. We really ARE influenced about our view of our Heavenly Father from our earthly father! i don't think i was prepared for that. my whole LIFE message is to tell others that their LIFE is speaking. i know myLIFEspeaks, but i don't know that i realized what it was saying to my own children.
i still don't want Lane or anyone else to think that i am God. i shudder at that thought, but i do recognize now that when we ride to school, the mall, ball practice, or anywhere else, my kids are looking at me like i'm their version of God. i know they'll grow out of that--D is already growing way too fast for me.
so there you have it. #1....Lane has taught me to always be on the alert because God is being processed to my children through me...pretty scary stuff huh?
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 9:50 AM
Thursday, June 19, 2008
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Dear Friend or Family Member,
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Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 12:48 PM
10 years ago, i vividly remember asking a group of people to pray for our (then) newborn son, Land. Lane was a preemie and was having extremely difficult times. he had a stroke when he was born that would affect almost every area of his life in the days to come. i remember asking people to pray for him to do something most of us do regularly and without much thought--go to the bathroom. the problem with Lane was his bowels. he had a couple of major bowel perforations that caused him major problems, and we didn't know then if his bowels would EVER work. i remember the first time he "soiled" a diaper...i was about to speak one evening to our church--calvary baptist church in lenoir city, tennessee. i remember getting a page (yeah, that was a LONG time ago) and calling the hospital almost immediately. the nurse on the other end screamed, "HE DID IT! HE POOPED!" she even saved the diaper for us to see when we got to the hospital later that night. i got up and announced to the church how proud i was of our son because he had accomplished this task.
now what in the world does that story have to do with my dad you might ask. since my dad's accident he has been having to go through the most horrible "humility" therapy of anyone i know. i know this is a personal line i am crossing, and apologize profusely, but you must understand i don't think prayers get gross to God. i think He smiles when we rejoice and see His hand--even in something like Lane's situation 10 years ago or in what my Dad is going through even now.
my dad has never been what i would consider a physically imposing man, but someone who could and still does work me under the table. i remember as a child thinking he was the smartest human ever because he would work all day, read the ENTIRE newspaper--not just the comics, eat dinner, work around the house, fix the cars, keep the yard perfectly maintained, and still have time to throw baseball or football. i looked at him in the hospital bed this weekend and remembered all those things and saw the exact same man lying there in front of me. he might not be able to move his legs but i really don't think he needs to. i think he MUST be who God created him to be. i saw a side of my dad this weekend that i loved. i saw the gentle side, the caring side, the thankful side, and the side that says he will NEVER give up (yeah, he's multi-faceted!).
i saw my mom try to be strong for him. she's the world's WORST actor, so it was tough for her, but still, she did her best. then i heard her say, "God is good and we're just going to have to trust him in this." my response was very pastoral, "you know, you're going to have to EAT those words in the days to come." She agreed and understood, for what might be the first time, that her sarcastic and cynical son wasn't completely a heretic. i know how those words taste, and i'm darn proud that my parents got to see me eat them. i know they taste like lane's earlier described accomplishment, but i know that they are made bearable ONLY when they are seasoned with God's measure of grace and mercy that He chooses to give us.
i also got to see my wife like i have never before seen her. (it's funny, my eyes have been dry the entire time i have been typing this and as i think about my dad in the hospital paralyzed, my mom's world being drastically changed by something she didn't ask for, but even THINKING about how amazing my wife was to me and IS to me makes them swell with these water droplets lesser humans might call tears!). when i got the call from mom on Friday, missy was the one to tell me to call mom back. i was at a breakfast meeting and just couldn't get to the phone at that time (i was pouring out all my own junk to one of my best friends in the world over a country boy breakfast at cracker barrel and thought i would just get back to mom later). when i got to missy, my first thought was to assess the situation and then if it was really bad go to knoxville to see them. i NEVER dreamed that this would turn out the way it did. i realized later that i never called anyone, and i started getting text messages from my friends. how did they know? why were they praying for my dad when i hadn't called? MISSY DID. she started using her spiritual gifts of the cell phone, text messaging, and email for my benefit. within hours thousands of people around the globe were praying for dad. my wife went from best friend to even bester friend. she knew exactly what to do when i didn't have a clue. she knew to call the couple i was supposed to do the wedding for and explain to them what had happened. she knew to have brent perform the wedding instead of me. she knew we needed to leave immediately. she knew mom needed me and dad would never ask, but secretly swelled with excitement to know we were coming. she's put up with so much over the past 15 years, i have to smile knowing that she's mine!!
Dad has been moved from UT Hospital (Knoxville's area Trauma hospital) to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Clinic for therapy. he was moved last night and it was a fairly comfortable experience. i think it wore him out, but at least he slept last night. sleep has been something that has been more drug-induced than actual sleep. He woke up this morning and got to eat a little (the bathroom thing is still a potential disaster) and has already begun therapy.
He has had so friends contact them and offer to help, he has been truly overwhelmed. i'll try to keep the commentary down in he future, but thought it might be a good change of pace.
please continue to pray for his shoulder, ribs, lung, pelvis, back, legs, and his whole body. he's busted up really bad, but even in being physically broken, pray that he will seize the opportunity to let his LIFE SPEAK to others around him over the coming days.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Thanks to all of you for praying for my Dad after his recent accident. If you aren't familiar with what happened, i'll try to catch you up.
Friday morning my Dad got up on his roof to clean it off...something he has done countless times before. Thursday afternoon had brought some rain, so the roof was a little damp, was cluttered with leaves and sticks, and had a little algae growing on it, so getting up on the roof Friday morning was more than a little treacherous.
He was on the second story roof and lost his footing and fell to his bottom and began to slide. he had a broom in one hand and a small gas powered leaf blower in the other. as he began to slide off the edge of the roof, he tried valiantly to stick the broom handle into the gutter and wasn't able to make it stick. he tumbled over the 2nd story roof onto the first floor roof of the porch and rolled right off the edge. he fell through an 8 foot holly bush (the sticker bush kind), and head first onto his back into the flower bed. the worst part is that he landed on a rock about the size of a football...and never let go of the gas powered blower!
his injuries are rather extensive: a busted shoulder (we have been told a broken clavicle, but that's not been confirmed yet), a collapsed lung, a few broken ribs, a pelvis that is cracked on both sides, and a crushed vertebrae (thoracic 12). The crushed vertebrae required emergency surgery to repair. the surgery required that his Thoracic 10th vertebrae through lumbar 5 vertebrae be fused together. the biggest problem is that when the vertebrae burst a piece of bone fragment went into the spinal cord and caused the spinal cord leak fluid. during surgery he lost quite a bit of spinal fluid and blood.
he came through surgery well, and is now out of ICU and in a room at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
We don't know what the long-term affects will be. He is having a hard time breathing deep and is understandably sore. The biggest issue now is that he can not feel anything below his waist and there is no way of knowing what the outcome is going to be.
Your prayers would be greatly appreciated as we learn how to deal with this. whether he can walk again or not we dont' know, but we DO know that God is in control. it's been easy to say that, but having to actually LIVE that is a little more difficult, but we DO KNOW that God is walking through this with us.
thanks for your prayers.
want to send him a get well wish? shoot me an email and i'll forward it to them.
Monday, June 2, 2008
well, i'm home. i have successfully traveled half-way around the world and made it back home. i have been able to hug my wife and my boys and tell them how much i missed them. i have been able to give them the gifts i got for them while in HK and have been able to spend some time laughing with them. i have tasted the flavors of the orient and survived!
now for the hard part. i'm back home and back to my normal routine. i'm trying to get back to LIFE as usual, but i don't think that's going to be possible. i've been infected with LIFE on a different scale. i don't want to ever be the same again. i want to grasp what God has in store for me and my family and hold on for dear LIFE.
i want to drink in His grace and mercy everyday and never be satisfied with who i am or what i am doing. i want things to be different.
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 1:00 PM
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
1. the humidity is higher than the 85 degree temperature
2. golf requires focus...i ain't got no focus
3. the fact that i don't play enough to help my team win a hole
4. showers...old men...and towel boys
5. drinking water is nowhere to be found
6. the halfway house isn't halfway
7. caddies don't speak english but man can they read a green
8. my irons
9. my putter
10. that ONE shot i hit every 3 or 4 holes that tells me i could be a really good golfer if i just put some time into it!!!
i want to get better at golf! i want my wife to play. i want my boys to play. i want to stop hating it, but golf is the one thing that we love to hate!!!
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 8:43 AM
sorry for the delay, but monday, tuesday and wednesday have been consumed with 2 things...eating and golf.
monday we got to play the hong kong golf club (hkgc)...sight of the hong kong open. tiger woods i am not, but i am pretty amazed that a course over 100 years old is in the middle of a city of 11+million people. thanks barry for letting us play with you.
tuesday, we traveled to china (the communist part) early in the morning. there we met up with mark and traveled to a course the locals call 9 dragons...i prefer to call it hills, valleys, and murder for a pitiful golfer. while i didn't lose as many balls as i did at hkgc, i did however find it possible to almost pass out from the heat. at one point my caddie told me i needed to put on some suntan lotion. china really is a weather smorgasbord.
after golf we rode into shenzen for some fun and then to mission hills golf club to spend the night.
wednesday we had the privilege of being hosted by william at missions hills golf club to play on the world famous world cup course designed by jack nicklaus. it was an amazing adventure that was only cut short when torrential downpours started and lightning sent us back to the clubhouse.
i would love to say that after playing for the 2 previous days my golf game was in top shape, but that just wouldn't be the truth. my game is fair at best, and will only improve when in get serious about it. so maybe in 15 to 20 years, i'll be good at the game.
the truth about wednesday though is that even if i wouldn't have been able to swing a club, i was amazed. i was paired to play with cm, andy, and james. these three men exude what it means to be a Christian. i don't think i'm ashamed of the word Christian when i think about what God is doing here in asia. i know that these men spend their lives living for Christ the best they can. i know that they trust God with everything and have made HUGE steps of faith just to follow Him. James' story is one of the most amazing stories of someone coming to Christ through adversity i have ever heard or seen. what i see in front of me is a mild man who loves Christ and literally saturates each breath with God-sized passion, BECAUSE he lost a daughter to cancer but gained eternal life. check out his story here. if you don't think God can take something we consider HORRIBLE and use it for HIS GOOD, then please explain to me how this man gets through each day. he and his wife, melissa, lost a son due to a miscarriage at 18 weeks and his wife's mother just passed away as well...but he still chooses to walk daily in faith with Christ. AMAZING.
tomorrow: ladies bible study and special needs parents gathering...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 8:02 AM
Sunday, May 25, 2008
this morning was an interesting experience. i slept great (jet-lag is real, but i thank God i'm doing well) and got up and had a light breakfast with doc, mrs. L, and j. thank goodness we went light with cereal, fruit, and muffins, since lunch was beyond large.
after breakfast we went to church. what an experience church in hong kong is. my first experience with being a part of a service included me speaking. i didn't have the benefit of knowing how to really do it, so i just jumped in. after 3 songs (by the way, the people in hong kong sing like there is no tomorrow during the musical portion of their worship) i was up to share an 8-10 minute testimony. the first service was a little rough. i got a little mixed up and didn't read the verse i wanted to and felt like i rambled a little bit. oh well, God brought me here to listen to Him, not speak for me, so after talking i sat down and was grateful that He had brought me this far.
it's amazing to think that God will allow people like me with all of the baggage that i have in my own personal life, to travel half-way around the globe to share my story. i realize today more than ever that God is about bringing Himself glory, and He very probably is smiling today knowing that i am such a wretched being, but want nothing more than for Him to be made glorified in everything i am a part of.
the second service was much better. i had the opportunity to hear doc speak in the first service. he was so clear and simple, while also talking like you might expect any pastor to talk. his message was amazing and encouraging, and i think i left changed.
after the first service amrah danced the mongolian dance again, and doc set it up in a way i never thought of. he told the church that they were more than welcome to stay and watch as amrah danced. he said that amrah's dance was a gift to the church and that he was performing for God. how awesome to witness; a young man and his friend that travelled for 3 days on a train to get here were able to bring their gift to God. they saved up for 18 months to get to hong kong, and then GAVE their offering to the people. wow, humbling. they did get to benefit from some new experiences. they went to their first ever mcdonald's (and they loved it) and they sat up at night at maik's (pronounced "mike") house playing xbox. funny, even people in mongolia who don't have much enjoy video games.
the second service was MUCH smoother. i felt more comfortable and did my best to leave everything out of my time other than what God is doing in me. i realize that God doesn't need me to speak for Him, He wants me to life my LIFE for Him and let Him teach from the excess he has given me.
after church we went across the street for dim sum. dim sum is a chinese meal where people gather together and eat until they explode...at least that was my experience. it's much like family-style meals for us in the states, but it is a chance to share a meal, talk, enjoy each other's company, and eat some more. i had my first chicken foot today. was tasty but more skin and bones than meat. definitely a chinese delicacy as each of the locals ate up. i love the opportunity to share a meal with someone. today i got to meet james lee. james was my "food guide" as he took the time to explain what each dish was and what was in it. i also noticed today that a meal allows people to put their defenses down. as we ate we talked and i learned that james is a man who has been through many trials. he has lost a daughter to cancer and lost a son last year to a miscarriage. i think his story might be THE very reason that i made this trip. i realized as i talked to him that God had given Him massive grace and humility. here is a man who came to Christ AFTER his his daughter's death and was able to benefit from true Christian friends. i long to introduce people to friendships like that in the states. i am that much more thankful for those who have taken the time to be my friend and for those who care so much about me.
i look forward to church tonight and then dinner (yes EVERYTHING in hong kong revolves around a meal. i think i might have gained about 15 pounds here...oh well, maybe i need to eat more chicken's feet.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
i am so exhausted right now that even as i type this i don't know if my mind is working.
i had an incredible day today. we began with breakfast with a truly fascinating man...mr. tan. mr. tan is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about numerous subjects. he is able to talk about business, church, finances, futures, and God all with the passion and knowledge of someone who has been involved in each. he was the example of a gracious chinese host. he took the time to share with us, eat with us, and showed genuine concern for us and each of our interests. doc and j were truly delightful to be with as they asked mr. tan questions that revealed more about who he truly is. what a great day.
*complete side note*
one of the most amazing sights i have seen is the scaffolding around buildings. it can go up many stories, but the kicker it is made of bamboo and put together with long wire ties. that's right, bamboo and wire ties make up the scaffolding. tonight i saw it completely surrounding a building of at least 30 stories from top to bottom! i wish i could have gotten a picture of that.
after breakfast i had the chance to share with a young lady for about an hour. doc set the meeting up in the church library and judy l. and i had the opportunity to talk about what LIFE had given each of us. i had the opportunity to share openly and honestly about my thoughts and feelings 10 years ago and now. i was able to give her some advice and encourage her to be spiritually dependent on God and trust nothing else--not her husband, her children, nor her job--to bring her joy, hope, and encouragement. it's funny, when you think things are rough, just sit down and listen to the stories of others for a few minutes. judy is hurting and frustrated, but it is easier for her to put the blame off of her and onto another rather than for her to accept that she is hurting.
the funniest part about today is that if you were to ask me what i LEAST like to do or feel comfortable doing, i would have answered counsel others, and today that's exactly what i did.
after my meeting with judy, doc, mrs. L, j, and i all went to the mall (one of about 10 million here in hong kong--i think they have one for each person) and we ate at a chicago-style restaurant...dan ryan's. that's right i came all the way to hong kong and ate at a chicago restaurant where they had a warning on the menu..."Warning, we serve AMERICAN portions." which is another way of saying that we american's ae FAT! We ate with Matt, (i don't remember his wife's name), and their daughters, Stephanie who is about to graduate from Princeton, and Audrey. amazing family. we are supposed to eat with them monday evening for Peking Duck at the peking palace. what a great thing. i hear that in china if someone offers you duck it is a great compliment. looking forward to that and chicken feet.
after lunch we got on the subway--which was one of the most crowded places i have ever been. i would have taken a picture, but i couldn't reach either my camera or my phone. i mean it was CROWDED!
we spent the afternoon shopping and doing a little errand running for doc and mrs. L. then we went home for a minute of down time then on to bubba gump's for an incredible dinner for the 4 of us. doc and mrs. L. were so amazing and patient as they listened to my stories and my words about what we and the church are going through now. what a blessing to have the opportunity to share with them and hear their wisdom.
we had an amazing view from the place called "the peak" where we overlooked the harbor and saw the lights. when we were finished with the meal we went outside to take some pictures and noticed the clouds had rolled in. we were so high the clouds obscured our view of the harbor below. oh well...
on the way out i passed on the chance to go to the harley davidson store here in hk. if you know me you know how much i love going to the hd store in the town i am in and getting a shirt, but tonight, i just wanted to come home and talk to my wife. got to chat with her and now i can finally go to bed...goodnight and God bless for another day/night...
Friday, May 23, 2008
i realize as i write this, i don't remember thursday (yesterday) at all. i remember getting on a plane in atlanta wednesday night, getting to san francisco, and getting on a plane bound for asia, then waking up friday morning 3 hours away from my destination. i lost a day somewhere, but boy, did friday make up for it.
today began with a couple of miracles, first, i was able to find both my luggage AND my golf clubs. second, my traveling companion--jl--found his as well. before we left the airport we both realized how much favor God had just given us. we arrived in asia, were reunited with our bags, and were on our journey.
as we walked out through customs, we were greeted by his parents and were taken through the streets of hong kong. first time for me in a right hand drive car and driving on the left hand side of the road. i must admit, while we've been doing it for almost 18 hours, i'm still a little unnerved every time we turn right or left.
our first stop was literally about 10 minutes down the road where doc turned off the main street and went across a bridge that was definitely NOT made with cars in mind. we drove up a winding road when i heard, "mike, get your camera, your boys are going to want pictures of this." we saw MONKEYS. that's right, real live monkeys out in the open. they were just hanging out on the side of the street. all of this before 8:00 AM!!
we arrived in Kowloon rather quickly to an unbelievably muggy and smoggy sky. we put our stuff down, grabbed showers, and headed toward KIBC (Kowloon International Baptist Church) where doc pastors. i got to meet a few of the people at the church and then we got to see an amazing sight--amrah (a mongolian) who rode on a train with his friend for 3 days from mongolia, just to come to hong kong--do a couple of traditional mongolian dances. one about a horse running and the other about movement. he spoke absolutely ZERO english, and his friend the translator (i can't remember his name at this time) spoke enough to get around. the dance was for the kindergarten at KIBC and was awesome.
after the dance show we went to lunch at nomad's--a mongolian bar-b-q. imagine the looks on the faces of the people when we walk through the door with a man dressed in full mongolian dancing attire. needless to say, we all asked him how the food was. we wanted to know if it was authentic mongolian or not. funny how we take things for granted in the states. on the bar-b-q bar was a bowl full of "US" eggs. they had to label them as US eggs to let everyone know they weren't from China.
after lunch and eating too much, i noticed some things about Hong Kong. It's an eclectic city. i had lunch at a mongolian restaurant, with 2 mongolians and 3 texans. there was an ad for a mexican beer company "sol" on the table, and brittney spears was playing on the intercom. everyone in the restaurant was either from india, america, china, england, australia, or somewhere else. what a true melting pot. when we got ready to leave a southern girl offered to take our picture...how ironic to get southern hospitality in a place where they don't have sweet tea but do have fresh octopus.
then we went back to the flat for a nap, a shower, and off to funeral street.
that was the most horrific and mind-blowing thing i had ever seen. if you didn't know any better, you would have thought you were walking into a 5 story bank building with marble floors and concrete ceilings. you would have been quickly greeted though to the sights and sounds of something very different. you would have immediately noticed the paper houses, cars, clothes, and literally everything you can imagine (ping pong paddles and balls, money, etc). this was all designed to be burned at the funerals. somewhere along the way, someone thought it would be a good idea to burn paper houses, cars, and the like, and have them waiting on the people who had just died. i couldn't get to the bottom of whether this was a daoist belief or buddhist, but the reality is that there were many people there who have put their hope and trust in the thought of an afterlife where you need a paper mercedes or gold paper shoes.
on down the hall was another funeral complete with buddhist monks chanting and singing their songs for and to the dead. their incense permeated the air and my heart skipped a couple of beats as i realized that not everyone believes or thinks like i do. many of the people there had chosen to follow something other than Christ, and others had thought maybe Christianity needed some more help. funny tip if you ever go to a funeral in Hong Kong--the Christians wear black and the buddhists wear white. don't know why, just know that's what happens.
after dinner i had the unbelievable opportunity to have dinner with alvin, see ray, thomas, and dorothy (i'm not even going to attempt to hit their surnames) at the Kowloon Cricket Club. alvin, thomas, and dorothy are ALL opthamologists and see ray is a family practitioner...all just a little big of over-achievers. alvin and dorothy are writing a textbook on eyes and thomas has just started his own practice. both couples have special needs children. they are both early in their journeys. alvin and see ray have a son (2) who has been diagnosed with learning disabilities and is "slow" developmentally. thomas and dorothy have a son (2) who has in the last 6 months been diagnosed with autism. they are all struggling with how to deal with their lives, their families, what the community and culture think, and how they should handle things. i had the opportunity over an incredible 4 course meal to share with them my own personal journey...my STORY.
they asked questions--questions i would NEVER be asked in america, and they wanted hope. they came to the table tonight looking for someone to genuinely be concerned about them and what they are going through. i pray that i get to be in contact with them again. they have all 4 been greatly influenced by what God has allowed them to walk through. i pray they are faithful and they have a support system of believers that come around them and love them at their church and in their community.
now, i'm laying on the bed, ready to go to sleep, but my mind continues to race. i don't know if i will sleep for a while, but i know i need to try.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
i have the opportunity to head out of town next week. i'm going to china! that's right, i'm venturing out of town for 10 days to get a chance to go to hong kong with a great friend. i have the opportunity to share my story and meet with people 11 times (as of now, the number is still growing!). i'm excited, anxious, and ready. the one feeling that is strikingly absent from my emotions? FEAR. i'm not afraid at this one. i've been afraid in the past to travel to some places. honduras was a little odd since it was my first time out of the country,
haiti was a little un-nerving simply because it's the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and going to mexico--even on vacation, was more than a little scary, since we had a category 5 hurricane (hurricane Kenna if you want to look it up...)
i look forward to getting a chance to meet with people from a different culture and share my story with them. i pray that i will be faithful to the Call on my life, and not care about anything else. stay tuned for more updates...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 1:19 PM
Monday, May 12, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
today here in nashville it is raining. the rain is setting the mood to how i feel right now. i'm not saying that i'm down in the dumps and droopy, but that the rain is forcing everything to change just a little. you can't drive as fast in the rain, that's a fact. well, i guess you actually could, but trouble would soon find you--maybe the reason for so many wrecks on rainy days.
my life is like this rainy season and i don't regret it one bit. this morning missy and i had the chance to talk to someone about our future. it's funny when you talk about your future, because you're planning it, thinking about it, and getting excited about the possibilities of what might happen one day, then you realize that the OTHER possibility is it might not really happen--pretty sobering.
when i walked into my office a couple of years ago my future plans were different. i never planned on being a part of a chaotic time, nor did i plan on being so caught up in a lawsuit. if you would have asked me a couple of years ago, i would have told you things were going to be different than they are now. i really expected to see things in a much different (even happier) place than they are now.
so the question i ask myself is simple...am i jonah? am i the cause? i don't think so, but the thought is still there. is God using this (one more) opportunity to get my attention and tell me to get on with what He told me 2 years ago? i think so...
so regardless of what my plans were or are now, i choose to always be willing to look at the rain and realize, sometimes things have to change...
Monday, April 28, 2008
I believe that everyone has a story. you have a story and i have a story. i can choose to share my story with you or not. i can choose to listen to your story of not. regardless of who shares and who listens, the reality is the story is still there.
when did it get so difficult to share what has happened to us? why have we chosen to hide things away rather than to face them head up or share them? why do we shy away rather than embrace them?
i think one BIG thing is embarrassment. many times we are embarrassed when things happen to us. whether we had something to do with them or not is of no concern, the most important thing is that something happened and someone else will possibly judge us for what we choose to share.
genesis deals with a lot of it...sin! we are guilty of our sins many times and see no redeeming value in them. while adam and eve's sin was a catalyst to humanity it still was sin. without a redeeming God, we would still be steeped in it with NO way out. now, we have a redeemer--Christ.
i encourage you today, know your story and share it. if you haven't shared it yet, what could possibly happen if you do?
Monday, February 4, 2008
i admit, i was really into blogging. i got to the point where i began making mental (and paper) "to blog soon" notes. i had a whole list, then i realized...i was a little too excited about blogging, and not interested in what was happening around me. i had to stop and celebrate. i celebrated Christmas, New Years, and January.
i watched the SuperBowl last night and realized that you don't have to be perfect to survive...you only have to be willing to come to grips with your surroundings and your LIFE.
so, with that being said, i'm about to begin some new blog thoughts. look for your chance to share your own "story" soon...here we go...
Posted by myLIFEspeaks at 11:21 AM