Monday, April 26, 2010

the City should be different

It's been bothering me.

As I drive around my city, it's been bothering me that i don't think that the Christians here, and the churches here...

Well, it's not that they don't make any difference in the city. I know that the people who are connected to Jesus here and the churches of those Jesus-followers are real and meaningful to those people, and to the people they love on.

But, really, can the city tell there there are people here who love Jesus?

I was with my friend Willie a couple weeks ago. He's talking about a city-changing plan to place mentors in every 5th and 6th grade classroom in our area. He's got the school board's blessing. (He got that because Willie has been, legit, serving others for a long time!)

I asked him where the churches were on the radar screen as he is looking for the right people to fulfill this critical, life-changing role.

Guess what his answer was?

Not even on the radar. He's worked to get churches involved in other things serving the youth, and only a tiny bit of progress. His business friends are much more engaged in serving the youth in such desperate straights as he works with.

So this though has been possessing me for a few months:

The City Should Be Different

The city should be different because there are Jesus-followers here, and churches full of Jesus-followers. Our influence and impact, if we follow Jesus and take as our own His radical mission to make disciples, to Love God, and to Love People, would be unmistakable.

The city should be different.

(photo credit, pjchmiel on Flickr)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Worship + Justice = WORSHIP (our response to suffering, like Haiti earthquake)

I'm the minister dude for college-age people at my church, We took 16 college-age people to Passion 2010 Jan 2-5.

I'm going to run out of creativity to describe how our enormous, glorious God showed up and impacted our hearts and eternities there! The students are still talking about it on Passion2010 + day 10.

A huge heartbeat of the Passion Movement, led by Louie Giglio, is to lead people to Worship with their whole lives. I remember Louie challenging us Worship as a way of life years ago, and it made a huge impact on me!

And Louie has continued to lead us to Worship, by completing it, marrying Worship with Justice, serving the least of these around the world!

Worship + Justice = WORSHIP!

15Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16

In light of the horror of a natural disaster in an impoverished place like Haiti, I am stunned. Let's not sit in paralysis or idle talk, but move forward to love those, to do good, to share, to sacrifice...for with such sacrifices, God is pleased.

Our college students are responding by serving time and money to, a way cool ministry that brings relief and medical aid in response to things just like this earthquake. M/S Integrity sails from Lake Charles on the 20th for Haiti, packed with food and supplies. It's way cool that we can put our cash and hands to serve the least of these in our neighborhood (just out of the Gulf of Mexico).

Lord, stir our hearts, people in America who call on Your Name! Bring us to tears in the news of tragic suffering, and stir us to respond in Worship, serving the least of these!

Photo credit:
Worship scene @ Passion 2010: Wade
Haitian man, Credits: Munoz/Reuters

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wrecked on the 208, part 1

I love camp!

I didn't grow up in church, so I didn't know about camp. I became a Jesus follower in college, and my first experience at church camp was the year I married April. We didn't have money for a real vacation, so we went with the church youth group, where we were teaching 8th graders, to camp.

It was GREAT! I didn't know what I was missing! If I just could have stayed with my wife that week, I could definitely live at camp.

Our oldest finished 6th grade and this was her first year to be able to go to youth camp. So, of course, April and I decided we had to go too! It didn't hurt that our favorite and most God-used in our world's speaker dude, Louie Giglio, was going to be the speaker. And we were staying in awesome condo's on Daytona Beach. And Chris Tomlin was leading worship. And David Crowder*Band would be there.

And Jesus!

So I was ready to be rocked. But I wasn't all the way ready. Louie encouraged us, challenged us to press in and meet God, experience His Presence!

And I did.

And I was wrecked...I don't have a better word for you. I met God in the back of the Ocean Center, in the left corner, Section 208.

And I'll never be the same.

Not a one-time event, never to be repeated. But a part of the life of a Jesus Worshiper, when press in to the Presence of our Great God through the Gateway of Jesus.

To borrow a line from The After's, I'm never going back to OK. Never going to settle for less than all of God's Presence through Jesus!

Here is the link to my talk,

I'll unpack this more in the next couple days (and post at least weekly, that's the plan).

I am Section 208!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

what kind of dirt?

I've been thinking about dirt a lot recently. What kind of dirt am I? My friends and my church - what kind of dirt are they?

Jesus told a story, a parable, to describe what happens when someone hears His message of God's Kingdom. He listed four types of responses - four types of dirt.

One kind is hard packed. Someone who hears about Jesus, never understands, and the enemy steals away the possibility of new life.

The second kind is thin. Someone hears about Jesus, gets into it - all excited. But some trouble hardship comes up because of Jesus, and they fall away. No Root Syndrome.

The third kind grows up with thorns and weeds. Someone who hears about Jesus, gets into it and starts to grow. The problem is that the weeds and thorns are growing alongside this person, and they are using up part of the critical air, water and minerals, choking the new plants growth, and this plant never bears fruit, it never matures and multiplies. Jesus said the thorns are the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth.

The forth kind of dirt is good, ready to support growth to maturity. Someone who hears about Jesus, gets it, is all excited, understands what has happened, and unhindered by competing threats, has room to grow roots, and takes off!

I want more good dirt - the kind that grows up and multiplies.

What kind of dirt are you?

What kind of dirt are you cultivating in your church?

UPDATE, later that same day...
One of my employees has been looking in distress this past week. She broke up with a boyfriend - there was obvious drama. I told her I was praying for her, because I was.

Today, three hours ago, I was at the laundry working, and after some conversation, I asked her if anyone has ever told her the Gospel of Jesus in a way she could understand it. She said no. I asked if she wanted me to tell her. She said yes...

An hour later, Tanya expressed to God her faith in the power of the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, and how she wanted to follow Him as Lord!

Tanya said she had no Christians that she was aware of in her world. So I started working my friends in her area to try to connect her to a healthy Bible-believing church, and some cool women in love with Jesus who could walk with her in her new life in Christ. I'm praying for that now.

Because I want Tanya to be that 4th kind of dirt. God wants that too!

Go Jesus! paul

Monday, April 20, 2009

The River

I was thinking. And listening.

And this thought came: Life with God is like a River. The River is everything that's included in doing life with God. It's God's Will, His Agenda in the Earth, His Ways (aka principle's), how He does stuff, His Values, the way He grows His disciples, what He thinks about sin and rebellion, how this thing is going to end get the idea.

It's Where God is Going, What He is Doing, and How He Does it.

The River.

The picture above is a beautiful scene; a river gently flowing through a forest in Springtime. Wow!

My concern is that we can, way too often, include only this kind of smooth water in our map of the River of God. Stuff that's fairly easy. Calm. Safe. Controlled.

But as I read the Bible, it seems that is not an accurate River map. So with the wrong map in hand, we pack for calm. Nice wide canoe. Sun hat. Fried chicken in the picnic basket. No life jacket. Large telephoto lens to capture the moment as we gently roll along.

But around some of the the corners are fast waters, rapids, large boulders in our path. (Think "foxes have holes...but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head, come and follow me. Matt 8:20. Or, John 12:27-28, where Jesus said He came for the Hour where He would lay down His life.) We turn the corner, unprepared, and the results are not pleasant! Canoe overturns, our stuff is gone, and we gag in the water without helmet or lifejacket...and we blame God for messing it up, not keeping up His end of the deal. And we turn away from Him.

Is your River map accurate? Moreover, is it complete? Are the rapids included (stuff like...John 16:33, In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.)

I want Jesus-Followers to finish well. To make it to the end of the River on Earth and make God look sooooo good in the process.

Make sure your River Map is good - get to know this God, dive into His Words, develop your relationship with Him, go on the Adventures He provides, put your self in places where you HAVE TO depend on Him.

Life with God is an adventure!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Grave Couldn't Hold Him

I love the message by Rev SM Lockridge, That's My King. Rev. Lockridge tries in marvelous eloquence to put to words the majesty and love of Jesus, His King.

At the apex, he bellows out the truth, "And the grave couldn't hold Him!"

Death could not contain Jesus!

He told us it would be this way.

He taught His disciples ahead of time, "31He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again." Mark 8:31

The shock of Jesus' death rocked the disciples, and they seemed to be able to see nothing other than the horror. The authorities brutally murdered their Lord. It seemed to out of God's will.

But it wasn't. Here is what Jesus said, "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." John 10:16-17

Death has been overcome. The grave overwhelmed! Jesus' love, His determination to give though it cost Him dearly, and the Father's will to plan a rescue that no one expected...I'm so glad the Grave Couldn't Hold Jesus.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


How does a person grow closer to God?

Isn't that an important question?

We read and study the Bible, go to church, serve there, and do it again every week. Oh yeah, and you have to believe the right stuff. And tell others about Jesus. All True. And our hearts need to be devoted to God, completely...a love without rival.

Those ingredients listed above are in the recipe for growing in our relationship with God.

What else is in the mix?

How about a vital Connection with each other. Paul called the Church the Body of Christ, saying that each part was connected to and belonged to all the others. True.

God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are so Connected. They are in each other and are One. Jesus prayed in John 17, wanting all the Christians on Earth to be connected, be One, like He and the Father are One.

I'm thinking God and Jesus were tight?

Are you tight with the Body of Christ where you are? Do you have an environment where you give other Jesus Followers access to the real you (over some time, in appropriate steps)?

Do the new people showing up at your Church have a real, strong opportunity to get Connected right off the bat? Have you created and supported environments that go the direction of Creating Community? (Connection is a step toward real Community, which is a God-Given desire of man.)

He wants you and me to be Connected in Relationship with some other Followers around us. Then, He wants the groups of followers (churches) all over the globe to be Connected as well.

Are you Connected? What's your strategy for getting yourself and the Church Connected?

My heart beats fast for Building Community in the Church. It helps us accurately re-present Jesus.

And, Jesus said, when we are One, like Jesus prayed, the People we tell His story to will believe that God sent Jesus!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

UNFAIR...Celebrate Unfairness


That's a loaded word. Loaded with pain and anger, outcry and discouragement, loss and frustration.

It was the title of my talk just four short days ago. Do we really want everything to be fair? That's a fair question, don't you think?

What was the greatest unfairness ever? I say it was Jesus choosing the Cross, where the perfect, sinless Son of God would take on the sin, shame, failure, humiliation, punishment and death due to me, you and everyone else who would ever live. He took it and paid our debt in full.


So, in response, we, who have trusted Jesus and had Him pay for our unpayable debt, might live in light of this unbelievable Grace that God does for us in Jesus. We might be able to celebrate life in Jesus, even when life was unfair.

What I didn't figure is I would have to practice this in such a big way so soon...

Today I got some really bad news about a business thing. I was treated Unfairly in a big way. It's going to cost me. A lot.

So, will I celebrate Unfairness, having been the beneficiary of it in the most remarkable way through the Cross of Jesus?

Will you?

All for His Fame! paul

p.s. So I'm clear, God is into Justice and making things right, more than anyone! So I'm NOT saying it's no big deal for people to be mistreated. God said, " I'm in charge of vengeance and payback" in Deuteronomy 32:35. I have no doubt God will set all things straight. What I am saying is that our world is corrupted by sin, and we should not be surprised when unfairness crosses our path. I am encouraging us to respond in light of the Grace that God grants to those who are alive in Jesus.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Jesus prayed for us (John 17:20-23), everyone who has believed in Him because of the message of Jesus' disciples.

He prayed that we would be One, like He and the Father are One.


I'm thinking that Jesus and God the Father are tight.

Yet Jesus prayed that we, the Church, Jesus' body left here on earth, would be One.

I like that!

But it gets even better. Jesus said in His prayer that if we, the believers in Jesus, acted out our Oneness, then people would believe that God sent Jesus.

I really like that!

Us, the Church that belongs to Jesus, looking and being One, in the way Jesus and the Father (and the Spirit) are One, will empower people to believe that God sent Jesus, and that God loves them as He loves Jesus.


So, here's my question to you: What would it look like for us to be One?

One in your Community Group. One at TBC College Group. One at TBC. One in our City. One in the US. One on the Globe?

I'm looking forward to your thoughts.

All for His Fame! paul

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dream BIG. Work Hard. Trust.

I went to a really cool conference a couple of weeks ago, the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. I usually have high expectations for such things, and sometimes it's... Well, you fill in the blank. Not this time, it was outstanding!

Then, when I arrived at home, I got to see my awesome family, which was way cool. After a while, my bride handed me an envelope, with a note from someone really special to me. Personalized encouragement, sent from God. That's how I received it. And that was super way cool!!!

I had told my friend about our new kingdom opportunity in working with the College-Age group at our Church and me now being on the ministry staff there.

He was really encouraging and ended the note with this admonition: Dream BIG. Work Hard. Trust.

Yes and Amen to that!

Can you feel it? It's the Kingdom, the one with THE KING. It's growing. It's going. It's wild. It's free. It's setting loose the captives, and breaking through into the darkness, and tearing loose the strongholds, and proclaiming the Good News to the brokenhearted...

Jesus. That's the only name that is worthy of such a cool admonition.

Dream BIG. Work Hard. Trust.

Isaiah 40:26

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Coolest Things of the Day...

  • I am now the College-Age Minister at my church...Wow, do I need Jesus!