Monday, December 14, 2009


Yep I did it, took the plunge, gave in, folded! After years (yes multiple) of saying no, I finally took my family to Disney. For 5 days we strolled through magical lands, conquered evil forces and brushed shoulders with everyone from Mickey and Minnie to Dumbo and Sparrow. The attention to detail, mind-boggling creativity and unending hospitality were all more than I remembered or could even imagine. However, more than anything it was the people, the guests, not the Disney cast and crew that kept my mind spinning and my jaw dropping. Here are a few takeaways:

- Take your family! It was some of the best family time we have ever had.
- Stay there/Eat There. Totally worth while. No car for a week, no pb&j.
- Take Dramamine. Yeah I almost puked all over Calahan on Star Tours.
- Marketing 101. Help your kids understand they don't have to purchase something just because they enjoyed the "experience."
- Stay Late. Fireworks and Parades are a great cap to the day.

- Take your parenting cues from those around. Fascinating!
- Drink the water. I know why they charge so much for a Coke.
- Miss all the details. Everything has a meaning!

- Grown women standing in line to get autographs from Cinderella and Tinkerbell!!
- A grandma wearing a Minnie Mouse dress(plus 120lbs).
- Ellen's ride in Epcot where she attempts to dominate Jeopardy, educate everyone on the environment and promote the Big Bang all wrapped up in a painfully boring 30 minute presentation. She should stick to day time television!
- Names of fireworks shows: Fantasmic, Spectromagic and my favorite Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. Please! Can't we just say stick around for some sick nasty fireworks.

- Toy Story Mania. This is the coolest ride ever! If you go to Orlando you have to go to Hollywood Studios just for this ride. It is 4D! You wear 3D glass, ride in a moving mobile and fire at moving targets. Oh and the best keep score!!! Get there early, do it as often as you can. Be prepared to wait. I am not alone in my opinions.
- Character Meals. By lunch time of the first day I knew we had hit home run with our kids because of their reactions to Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and Pooh.
- Harper's sparkle, Kelly's tears and Calahan's energy.

After giving my time and energy to the world of Disney for a week, I still have just as many reservations and unfortunately am even more cynical about some of what I saw. However, I never would have imagined the joy it brought to my family. And even more than that, the amount of time we were able to spend together provided experiences and memories that will last much longer than the thrills of Cinderella and Tinkerbell.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Take it Like a Man; or Woman

“Cool”, “Dank”, “That is boss”, “You got murked.” Sound familiar? These are just a few of the “hip” phrases that are common jargon for the current generation of high school students. However, after this past weekend, some of them have developed a more robust vocabulary.

For 3 days nearly 100 high school students from Grace Pelham and Powdersville dialogued, discussed and even debated what it means to be created in the image of God; to be created male and female. Today’s teens just aren’t being asked to “be open” to alternative ideas such as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender, but additionally are being told that gender is self-defined, that no outside force, culture or deity can determine who you are or who you should be.

So in an attempt to bring clarity and direction in a world of chaos, we spent our weekend studying what it means to live out manhood and womanhood biblically as a high school student. Here are a few of the takeaways:

1 – Gender is a worship issue. Gen 1:26-27 says that “in god’s image we were created male and female.” As Christians, if we are going to adequately reflect the image of God, we must live out our gender the way God intended. As much as singing songs, journaling, reading the Scriptures and living in community, fulfilling our gender as male and female is a way we worship God.

2 – Gender is broken. (Genesis 3) All of creation is affected by sin and the fall of man. Because of this men and women no longer naturally reflect the image of God through their gender.
• Man’s core struggle is passivity which gets played out in areas such as school, friends, family and how we relate to the opposite sex.
• Women’s core gender struggle is independence and it can be evidenced in the lives of high school girls’ interaction with friends, families and relating to the opposite sex.

3- Gender can be redeemed. (Rev. 21:1-5) Due to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, “all things, (including gender) are being made new.”
• Men are called to pursue, protect and provide.
Pursue = lead, take initiative
Provide = take care of your responsibilities
Protect = defend the weak and needy, hold your peers accountable
• Women are called to affirm, respond and nurture.
Affirm = to come alongside and fill in what is lacking
Respond = to react for the benefit of others
Nurture = to provide life for those around you

4. We are agents of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). As Christians, we are part of God’s game plan to reconcile the world to Himself. He has given each of us, including teens, a role to play. We believe that one of those roles is to be the men and women that God intended for us to be and to show the world how great our God is.

On the heels of this retreat we are praying that God will give our high school students a vision and a trajectory to go out and lead their peers, families and culture in the area of gender. Realizing that the way they embody masculinity and femininity today, has immediate impact and eternal consequences.

Now that is dank!

For further study in biblical gender for singles and young adults, you may want to read Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart by John Ensor.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Twelve Feet of Black Top

Most mornings as I leave for work, I find myself struggling to get out of my neighborhood. Work and school traffic zooming in both directions, three nearby neighborhoods producing hundreds of morning rush-hour vehicles, and no left turn lane all contribute to a challenging (ok, maybe frustrating is more accurate) jump-start to my suburbia commute.

Recently, I have been noticing the cars that exit the neighborhood directly across the steet from mine. The only thing that separates us is asphalt and a double-yellow line. But as close as our neighborhoods are in proximity, there is a large chasm that is obvious to all who drive by. In the neighborhood across the street, property owners are leaving luxury homes that are worth more than four times the value of ours. The detailed landscaping of their yards makes me wonder if their lawn-care budget exceeds our monthly grocery allowance! And as they sit in line waiting their turn, they do so in high-end detailed SUV's, while the commuters from my subdivision cruise up in their factory-produced, fuel-efficient vehicles.

As different as my life may be from these high-income homeowners across the street, in these moments we are the same. Money, fame, luxury, comfort, and even opportunity can't get you onto Hudson Road any quicker. We are all at the mercy of a break in traffic to allow us access to the hustle and bustle that characterizes our morning commute.

Waiting and watching this process unfold each morning has caused me to reflect on how this is an exercise in the gospel. Working through the book of Colossians with our high school students has given me reason to meditate on the specific implications of the gospel. What I have been reminded of so clearly these past weeks is that the gospel is simplistically profound. Writing to a group of Christians who seem to "get it," Paul spends the majority of his time clarifying for them the importance of the gospel, reminding them that they no longer belong to this world, and that Satan has no control over them. He pleads with them to not be restrained by the cumbersome rules of religion. Over and over again he points to Jesus as the only true distinction that matters. Origin, ethnicity, family heritage, social status, and even religious traditions do nothing to help one enter the kingdom of God.

So as my neighbors and I "patiently" await our turn each morning to exit our neighborhoods, I want to be continually thankful (1 Thess 5:18) that in God's kingdom, nothing I am/do/have really matters. And just maybe I will even become thankful for my "patient" wait which allows me to ponder such things!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

So She Says

Ever see the show, Kids Say The Darndest Things? Well if not, you are missing out because the show is hilarious. Scene after scene kids say anything and everything that is on their minds. I can remember watching it during the late 90's thinking..."Do kids really say such things off the top of their heads? Surely some, if not all of this, is scripted." As funny as the TV show was then, I could never have imagined how funny it would be to actually hear my own kids say such things. Our five year old daughter, Harper, happens to be at a stage which has us eagerly anticipating the next comical thing to come out of her mouth. Here are just a few of the most recent:

- "Do I have to spend this quarter daddy? It has the state of Mickasota on it."
- "When I grow up, I want to be a petanarian so I can take care of animals."
- "Lots of boys in Calahan's class have mohog haircuts."
- "I don't need to noose the bathroom."
- "Today at church I learned about Noah and the whale."
- "Miss Sarah, do you have smoke detectors at your house? You have to go outside if they go off."
- "Soccer cleats have sparks on the bottom of them."
- "I learn everything good from Curious George."

So if you need some free entertainment and you can't find any reruns of Kids Say The Darndest Things, feel free to drop by and spend a few minutes in dialogue with Harper. You will be sure to get your fill of laughs, and you may even learn something new, especially if Curious George is on.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Tough Pill To Swallow

This morning my life changed forever. I took my first statin (cholesterol-lowering drug). At the age of only thirty-four, I consider myself to be healthy and in good shape. I exercise regularly (ok, compulsively!) and I eat a low-fat diet. And it was only two months ago that my doctor told me that I am as healthy as any thirty-something he knows. And so, you can imagine the shock when yesterday, that same doctor told me that I needed to go on cholesterol medication, most likely for the rest of my life. I sat glossy-eyed and tried to focus, thinking to myself, "Are you serious??? How can this be???"

There is a phrase that a golfer often uses when faced with a situation where he has the option to pull off the heroic shot (with high risk and high difficulty) or choose the easier shot (with low risk and low difficulty). Now adrenaline, testosterone, and a competitive nature will entice the golfer to go for the hard shot and make the birdie; but reason, logic, and percentages beg him to compromise with an easier shot for the chance to make a par. Choosing the latter is referred to as "taking your medicine." Although it doesn't feel good, it is almost always the best thing to do. I have used that phrase time and time again for myself and others while on the golf course, while never fully understanding its deeper meaning!

My pride, my stubbornness, and my competitive nature all conspire to convince me that if I just exercise more, cut down on my red meat consumption, and drown myself with grapefruit juice, I can beat my life threatening enemy, cholesterol! But in reality, that just isn't true. So this morning, tomorrow morning, and (hopefully) for thousands more, I will be "taking my medicine" and reminding myself that par is not a bad score.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Starting Fresh!

Routine, Routine, Routine! I need it, want it, and love it. It's surprizing to me that each May I get so excited about school letting out. I love the summer...sunshine, vacation, mission trips, students hanging out at the church, swimming pools, interns, long summer nights, catching up on reading, and of course, mastering my golden tan (as tan as a Scotch-Irish white boy can get). However, as much as I love the flexability that summertime brings, as we move closer to autumn, part of me ends up longing for the structure from which I wanted a break just a few months earlier.

So when August rolled around this year, I think I was as "pumped" about the school year start as my daughter Harper, who was beginning kindergarten. The first day of school was on a Wednesday. So on Tuesday morning, Harper came out of her room dressed in her "first day of school outfit," with her backpack strapped on her shoulders, proclaiming to everyone, "I am ready for school!" Her eagerness and readiness to launch into a world that will become her norm well into adulthood caused my wife and I to laugh, as we thought cynically to ourselves, "If only she knew...." But part of my thinking is right there with my daughter. I, too, am ready for schedules, routines, planning, discipline, expectations, and yes, even deadlines! I find that I am at my best in those moments. So here we go!! But check back in late April, because I am sure I will once again be begging for some summertime relief.... but this time I may have a six year old little girl pleading just as hard!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

American Tradition

On our way to the beach this past week, we happened to "stumble" into a very cool experience. Rapidly approaching our destination (ahead of schedule as you would expect with two goal-oriented people), Kelly and I realized that it was dinner time. Our normal approach would be to grab whatever was most efficient (quick, cheap, and on the same side of the road). However, just as we began to discuss our options, we passed a sign for Waffle House. Knowing that our kids had yet to experience this American tradition, we sacrificed our "Nascar-like" time for some entertaining eats.

As you can imagine, the "scenery" was just as enjoyable as the food. We sat at the bar, described the menu to the kids, and chatted with our Italian waitress (ok, I guess this should be considered an International Tradition). We ordered two All-Star specials, explaining to our kids that you are what you eat. They didn't get it! Our cook appeared from a side booth where she had been hanging with some of the locals. As she prepared our food, our kids watched in awe and asked questions about everything being cooked, and I realized that simple things can still fascinate and satisfy.

As our food arrived it became clear to me that there will need to be some adjustments the next time we visit. Both of our kids went straight for my favorite, the chocolate chip waffle. Ugh....parenting always shows you how selfish you are.....As we left the restaurant, well off schedule, Kelly and I acknowledged that the journey really can be just as enjoyable as the destination! And sometimes we just need a greasy spoon to remind us!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Recently I participated in my friend Joseph's wedding. Throughout the weekend, I was reminded that Joseph and his friends are at a different life stage. Countless hours of basketball, wiffle ball, and college-like goofing around, although fun, wore me out! You see, Joseph is just a "few" years younger than me. However, what stood out most to me that weekend was the relationships between Joseph and his good friends. Guys from his childhood and college buddies shared stories and memories of lasting impact. As they interacted, the strong bonds that exist between them was evident. They truly love each other and desire to see one another grow as godly men.

Observing those interactions reminded me of the strong friendships that I have. As the years pass by, it becomes easier and easier to get wrapped up in the "here and now" and forget about relationships which were once much more prominent. And although the majority of my time and energy is now spent with my wife, kids, students, and people in my local community, I know that the person I am today has been greatly shaped by some of these life-long friends:

- Brad is the brother I never had. Since the age of 5 we competed, laughed and lived together.
- Reggie is the older brother that I always knew would protect me and keep me out of trouble.
- Goldy has shown me the virtue of loyalty.
- Busick has taught me how to encourage others through word and deed.
- BW has always been there to hold me in check and ask about my life.
- Rowland has taught me how to make everyone feel included.
- C-Scott has modeled selflessness and sacrifice.
- D-Rowe has taught me the fine art of listening (I need more of this).

These men are forever a part of my life, and I am truly grateful. Regardless of the amount of time that we now spend together, I know that I have friends for life, and the man I am now has been shaped by who they are. I just hope that it doesn't take another weekend of exhaustion to help me remember this!

Monday, June 29, 2009


It drives me crazy when people say "I'm busy, or I'm staying busy" when asked how they are doing, As if busyness were a virtuem emotion or feeling . So bringing up this topic is really tough for me but I can't accurately explain the past 6 weeks of my life any other way. In addition to regular office hours and routine family responsibilities, I have attended 3 graduations, 7 graduation parties, a weekend retreat for 5th and 6th graders, spent 8 days in Nicaragua, celebrated 3 birthdays, father's day, taken day trips to Atlanta and Hendersonville. During this time I have taught 21 times, sat in countless meetings and returned what seems like a bazillion e-mails.

Ok, I feel better now! I must admit that I have really enjoyed the past 6 weeks. Some of the highlights include:
* Hanging out with the kids on the Fusion retreat
* Participating in Joseph and Chelsea's wedding
* Lots of fun time and closure with our seniors (I will miss them!)
* Learning about Jesus, the church and Nicaraguan culture
* Teaching in the weekend services at Grace (always a humbling experience)

I believe that God has taught me a lot during this whirlwind of activities. I have plenty to think about, share and hopefully put in to practice. One thing is for sure. I am convinced now more than ever that I don't want busyness to characterize or control my life!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This past weekend we took about 50 high school students on a weekend retreat to the mountains of North Carolina. However, this was not the typical "have a lot of fun, study the bible, play ridiculous games, and stay up 'til 2:00am retreat. (Ok, we did do some of that!) No, the entire point of the retreat was to prepare for three summer mission trips. We have youth mission teams going to Nicaragua, Peru, and the Bahamas. (I promise it is a mission trip!)

If you know me at all, you know that I absolutely love taking students on cross-cultural experiences. Watching their eyes widen and their hearts explode as they experience "what the rest of the world lives like" is a true blessing to me. I believe it is one of the greatest things we can do for our students. These types of experiences, time and time again, lead to life change, ministry focus, and leadership development.

There is something special about loving on those who have great physical needs. This weekend, it became clear again why I need these experiences in my life. They are perfect reminders of the gospel. Some of the people who are in need are in need because of their poor sinful decisions (so am I). Many are blind to the help that is available to them (so am I). Some will reject the love and mercy that is extended to them (so will I). Some will not offer even a hint of thankfulness when compassion is shown to them (nor will I). Some will walk away unchanged by the words and deeds we offer (so will I).

I realize that my spiritual condition was and is just as bleak as the physical conditions that permeate the slums of third world countries. Additionally, I know that I routinely am blind to, reject, and go unchanged by the love and mercy that Christ so graciously offers me. However, the beauty of it all is that the gospel never stops coming. God's love reaches farther than any rejection I have to offer. The gospel keeps holding out hope for my soul, and that is why I will continue to hold it out for those in need.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Both of my kids recently celebrated birthdays. This year, I started a new tradition of writing my kids a letter for their birthday. I know, it's not nearly as appealing as a Nintendo Wii or an American Girl Doll, but hopefully one day it will be something they look back on and appreciate. I stole the idea from Matt Chandler, a pastor in Dallas that I really appreciate and follow (don't want anyone to accuse me of not giving proper credit). I thought I would share one of my letters:

Dear Calahan,

Happy Birthday! I cannot believe you are seven years old. It seems like it was just a few years ago when we were bringing you home from the hospital in Dallas.

I wanted to write you this letter on your birthday to tell you how special you are and how much your mom and I love you. Watching you grow as a young boy is so fun, and we are thankful that God has chosen us to raise you.

Some of my favorite memories over the past year include:
- Seeing you finish kindergarten
- watching you try to eat without your two front teeth
- coaching your soccer team, "The Bulldogs"
- fun times at the beach (golf, the ocean, bikes, putt-putt)
- watching you learn how to tie your shoes all by yourself
- your first trip to Chapel Hill (UNC/Dook football game)
- coaching your basketball team, "The Greenwaves"
- waking you up really late at night to watch UNC beat Dook in basketball
- playing Nintendo Wii with you

There are so many things I could write about because you are such a great son, and I always have fun with you. Since you are our first born, we are learning with you how to parent. By now you know that we mess up a lot and are still trying to figure out how to do this thing. We love you and want the best for you.

More than anything, we want you to know how much we love Jesus, and we want you to understand your need for him. I love you so much Son, but not as much as Jesus does. His love for you is perfect. He died for you, and I hope the rest of your life is changed because of that truth. As you grow older, my biggest desire for you is that you would fall more in love with Jesus. I hope that you will see how much your mom and I love Jesus, and you will love him too.

I am so happy to be your dad. God is so good to me to let me have such an amazing son.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Two Shining Moments

It was a Monday evening in late March of 1982 and my face was glowing. Partly because I was allowed to stay up so late on a school night, which for a 7 year old is a really big deal. But my face was also beaming because it was glued to the TV screen. And I mean literally glued. OK, well not literally glued but almost. I was forced to sit/stand within arms length of our television set because the picture would only come in clearly when the dial (if you don't understand ask your parents) was held at a certain angle. That night my mom and I took turns squeezing the dial while the other jumped up and down and cheered on the North Carolina Tarheels to a national championship.

That experience is forever etched in my memory as the beginning of my avid, sometimes borderline insane, infatuation with the North Carolina Tarheels. I am sure there were games and moments prior to that spring night but none more memorable.

This past Monday I shared the same experience with my 7 year old. Dressed in our Tarheel gear, Calahan and I sat in front of the tv and watched the entire game (even the postgame interviews and the infamous "one shining moment" video) until after midnight. He too was pumped about it all. Staying up 5 hours past his bedtime, getting to see Tyler, Danny and others play their last game and watching them win "the trophy" which he has been asking about since the season began.

The sentimentalist in me hopes that one day he will be blogging about that night or at least telling his kids about it. Who knows, he may soon forget it entirely. But one thing is for sure. I won't! And now, instead of one shining moment...I have two!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Weeds 'n Things

This is my favorite time of year! I love pretty much everything about it--cool mornings and warm afternoons, trees and flowers in bloom, Daylight Savings Time, fresh fruits and vegetables, outdoor grilling, shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, Easter, spring break, The Final Four (Go Heels!), The Masters, and the list just keeps on going...

At this time of year, I also find myself getting excited about "the potential" for my yard. Dead branches, brown grass, and piles of leaves are enough to have me jazzed about transforming my lawn into something that resembles the likes of Augusta National.

So this past week as I was putting out fertilizer, trimming shrubs, and trying to make scizzor-straight lines with my lawn mower, I was quickly reminded that the five months of winter are just long enough for fantasy to overtake reality. Instead of the lawn of distinction that I dream of, I find myself facing endless weeds, crabgrass, and dandelions. It doesn't take long for me to remember that they don't go away. Regardless of how much weed killer is applied and how many taproots are pulled, the job is endless.

You would think as a pastor that the echos of Genesis would ring loudly enough to keep my hopes and dreams at bay:

And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
and in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

So with many months of weeds and sweat ahead, my prayer is that I will never forget the magnitude of sin, and that my real hope will be for a new "weed-free" heaven and earth.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Turn it Green!

Oh yes! St. Patrick's Day! As a man of Irish heritage, I always get excited about this annual celebration. However, my soul is saddened at the mockery our country (and others) have made out of such a meaningful man and his true legacy, which should give us all reason to celebrate.

This past Sunday, I asked the 5th and 6th graders at our church to tell me what they knew about St. Patrick's Day. Keeping with culture, they rattled off the things that have become so closely associated with this March holiday. Wearing green, getting pinched, clovers, and leprechauns. And before we chuckle too loudly, my guess is that most adults would be able to add parades, corned beef, and green beer to the list. What has been lost is the major impact that this one man had on a nation.

Born in Britain around 400 A.D., Patrick was raised in a wealthy family. Tragically, he was kidnapped and shipped off to Ireland where he was a slave for over seven years. After being rescued and returned to Britain, Patrick became a Christian. He then felt led by God to spend the rest of his days as a missionary to Ireland--a land which at the time had little Christian influence. He spent the majority of his adult life loving the very people he was once enslaved to, and telling them about the great love of Jesus. (Does that story sound at all familiar?)

As someone who comes from a long lineage of Christians, I am very grateful for the faithfulness of St. Patrick and his unending commitment to share and live out the gospel with the people of Ireland. So this year, as you don your green, watch your parade, pinch your friend, or toss back your Guinness, be sure to do it with an understanding of the true greatness of St. Patrick.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

little things mean a lot

I hear the phrase often, but I don't always "get it." And at times I believe it, but other times..hmmm...I am not so sure. But despite my ambivilence, the reality for me (like most of us), is that I am a product of my culture. And if you haven't noticed lately, this culture is all about me and all about now. Microwaves, instant everything, text messaging, live this and live that, drive-thru, drive-up, drive-by, fast food, fast cash, lose weight fast, get rich fast, interactive TV, everything on demand, and the list goes on and on. Simple ideas such as patience, diligence, routine, discipline, and process seem to fit more with re-runs of "The Walton's" than they do with life in the 21st Century.

However, this past weekend, through the words of our pastor, Bill White, I was reminded that simple things actually do mean a lot, and they really do make a difference. It's just that most of the time we don't realize it until weeks, months and sometimes years later. So recently I have been evaluating my life experiences, and I have found plenty to validate this truth that things in the moment that seem simple, minute, and almost pointless over time produce life-long memories, create limitless opportunities, and make a profound difference in the lives of many. Looking back, here are a few that have meant the most to me:

- my dad always hugging and kissing my mom
- my dad reading the Bible to us during breakfast
- the use of "please" "thank you" "ma'am" and "sir"
- family, friends, and youth leaders showing up to my sporting events
- my friends hanging with me when I needed them most
- buddy days and family nights
- family votes

Here are a few that I am trying to focus on now:

- always telling my wife and kids that I love them and am proud of them
- praying daily with and for Kelly and the kids
- writing a quick note or e-mail to say thank-you
- talking to God about whatever is on my mind, even when I don't feel like it
- letting the kids win from time to time (this one is really hard!)
- smelling a cup of coffee before I take the first sip
- enjoying time my kids, even when it is late and I am tired
- reading the Bible to my kids even when they don't pay attention
- enjoying God's creation everyday
- saying "please" "thank you" "ma'am" and "sir"
- finding ways to encourage others
- piggy-back rides, even when my back hurts
- engaging a student when I would rather not
- smiling, laughing, and being ridiculous

I realize that a lot on this list may seem silly and even pointless. However, if history is right, I believe that this time next week, year, or lifetime the efforts will prove to mean so much more!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recent Reads

As mentioned in a previous post, I really enjoy reading. Some of the topics/areas I enjoy reading include history, leadership, sports (especially biographies), theology, the church, and other cultures. I am not a big fan of fiction, although I try to force myself to occasionally read it because I know I need it. You know, kind of like eating broccoli and carrots...never overly enjoyable for me, but I know my body needs them! I have listed below a few of my alltime favorite books, and I have also started a new section on my blog entitled, Recent Reads. If you are ever in need of something fresh to read, maybe something from my list can get you headed in the right direction.

Truman by David McCullough
Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough

Joe Dimaggio by Richard Ben Cramer
The Majors by John Feinstein
To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever by Will Blythe

The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Good to Great by Jim Collins
Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley

Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
Indwelling Sin by John Owen

Christian Life
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
What's So Amazing About Grace by Phillip Yancey

Teen Culture/Teen Parenting
Age of Opportunity by Paul Tripp
The Disconnected Generation by Josh McDowell

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dead or Alive?

I really enjoy reading books. I often find myself perusing the local bookstore and surfing on Amazon and other sites for the latest read. I quickly find myself wanting to read the newest books by some of my favorite authors, or books on the latest trends. For me, it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to read whatever is new, has a catchy title, and a hip, fashionable cover. However, more times than not I come away disappointed with my purchase.

One of my mentors in seminary was Jeff Bingham. He was my professor for a number of classes, and I spent two years as his TA (teacher's assistant). Dr B is about 6 feet 7 inches tall, skinny, and has hands that are so big they seem to take minutes to open. As a lecturer, he had an amazing gift of using simple illustrations and phrases to explain some of the most difficult and complex theological doctrines (I needed him!). Within minutes of sitting under him it became obvious to all that he had the gift of teaching and a passion for Jesus and the church.

One of the many things I remember Dr. Bingham saying was, "You need to read dead people." His reasoning for this was that dead people can no longer be influenced by the current trends and forces of culture. Additionally, if they still have an impact generations later, we should probably listen to what they have to say.

For the past 10 years I have tried to take those words to heart and have made myself regularly read books written by people who never knew cell phones, TV, or even indoor plumbing. Although the illustrations are dated and writing styles are awkward and hard to follow, I usually come away refreshed and challenged. They are the books I end up recommending the most frequently to others.

So as I recently finished reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to my kids, I was reminded of Dr. Bingham's words. In light of that, I thought I would mention some of my favorite dead people to read.

John Owen - His work, Indwelling Sin, really changed my life. His writing is technical and hard to follow at times, but well worth the effort.

Charles Spurgeon - Whether devotional, pastoral or technical, all of his works are timeless and relevant.

CS Lewis - Fiction or non, a gifted writer who blends creativity with solid biblical/theological truth that can stimulate the minds of all.

John Calvin - A pastor who loved Jesus, the Bible, the church, and all of God's people. His insights on the Bible are like few others

Martin Luther - His book, Bondage of the Will, really helped shape the way I think about my neediness for Jesus.

A few others:

Richard Baxter
Jonathan Edwards

Enjoy and help me add to my list!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Witch, The Lion and The Wardrobe

OK, before any of you purists correct my title, I realize that it is not accurate, but that is the way Harper says it and so that is the way it is going to be.

Of all the exciting Christmas gifts my kids unwrapped this year, the one I least expected to have any kind of lasting impact was this book. When I first saw it, I thought, "Oh, CS, maybe in four or five years our kids can begin to enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia."

I could not have been more wrong. Over the past month or so the characters and stories within this book have been the centerpiece of conversation within our home. Dreams about the witch, fantasies of Aslan's strength, and pictures of Mr. Tumnus have been the currency of life for the Keever kids.

All of this has me thinking, well actually baffled. I mean how in the world does he (CS Lewis) do it? How could an old dead Irish/Britt captivate the minds and imaginations of two American suburuban kids in 2009? I wracked my mind to think about what he could possibly have in common with my kids that would allow him a window into their soul. An intellectual whose closest friends were professors and scholars! He liked to hang out in bars and smoke pipes. Born in the 1800's in Ireland, he spent most of his adult life in England. He married late in life and never had children of his own. So what is it? How could it be? What could he possibly have in common with my kids?

Then it hit me.....JESUS! They have the gospel in common. The metanarrative that shapes all of our lives. The story of creation, fall, and redemption. The battle between good and evil. A superhero that makes all things right in the end. That is what they have in common. And as a skilled (maybe I should say gifted) writer, he disciplined himself enough to write in such a way that kids hundreds of years later would hear and understand the gospel. Wow! Thanks Clive! You are amazing. How cool to know that long after you are gone people's lives are being shaped by your faithfulness! I think all of us would like to leave such a legacy!

Monday, January 26, 2009


One of my favorite pastors, Mark Driscoll, refers to the "Monday morning blues" as bread truck Monday. After teaching 6-8 times over the weekend he suggests that the only occupation he wants to have on Monday is to drive a bread truck. His reasoning is he will not be forced to think or talk, and he will have a limitless supply of bread to comfort him. At some level I can relate to Mark. There is something "not so fun" about Monday morning and the emptiness it can bring.

But recently I have found myself longing for Monday morning. There is something exciting about a fresh start. I mean, the reality is that last week is only just a few hours ago, but it seems like a distant past. And what lies ahead begins to take on new meaning and urgency. I seem to gain clarity about what needs to happen as stale dates, numbers, and "to-do's" seem to gain life and meaning. It's like a do over, a new start, a time to begin with a clean slate. And most of the things I messed up last week will face me again. But this time there is the potential to handle them with more love, compassion, detail and excellence.

I usually start my Monday with a 6:00am work out (thanks D-Spann) or basketball game. After a few minutes with the family we all take off to start our week. I then spend the next few hours studying, reading, praying, listening to music and sermons and planning. I have designated Monday morning to preparing for the future. It could be as simple as planning for a meeting that will take place within a few days, or as complex as thinking through how and when our high school students will spend their summer in various countries around the world.

Another "tradition" I have added to my Monday morning routine is listening to "New Day" by Robbie Seay Band. It has been one of my favorites for over a year now. It captures the thoughts and emotions of beginning, newness, and starting fresh regardless of how life may have treated me in the past. In a way, it stirs my soul and reminds me of who I am, and even more WHOSE I am. It serves as a constant reminder that my Father sees me as clean, fresh and new because he sees me through the lens of Jesus. Knowing the truth that all of my sins (past, present, and future) have been paid for, and that Jesus continually intercedes on my behalf gives me meaning, purpose and hope to know that things can be different this week. Ultimately, my hope is not in my actions but in the person of Jesus. So if you find yourself struggling to "get in gear" on Monday mornings, I encourage you to follow the prescription found in the lyrics of "New Day." Try beginning your day with hope, coffee, and melody!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bottled Up

Last week I went to my son's school to read a few books to his class. In the midst of a busy day filled with deadlines, meetings and lots of studying, the last thing I wanted to do was break away to hang with a bunch of first graders. However, as I walked through the door everything changed. As Calahan (that's my boy) noticed me, his face lit up like a firework. He began to point in my direction and tell his "boyz" that his dad was here. As we began our time together, I asked each of the students about their Christmas. They were pumped to share their favorite holiday gifts and experiences. When it was Cal's time to share, he nearly came off the ground as he told everyone that his favorite activity was playing his Nintendo Wii with his dad. By this time my attitude and outlook had been completely inverted. There was no other place I would rather be! I mean, everyone needs to experience that. It must be what Tiger Woods or Bono feel like when they slip in to surprise one of their biggest fans. But this feeling was not caused by a stranger. No, this came from my flesh and bone, my "little Jeremy", as Kelly calls him. I wished more than anything that I could bottle that up and save it for another time. It is truly a feeling like few others.

While driving back from the school I pondered what it must be like for my heavenly father to look at me with the joy and happiness the way I do toward my kids. He created us in his image and made us for his glory. And in spite of all our desires to run, hide and cover ourselves from him, he chooses to love us in ways we can't even comprehend. He chose to crush his "own" son so that I may be called his son (1 John 3:1). That is unbelievable! That is the gospel! That is true love! And that is why Paul calls it the most important thing (1 Corinthians 15:3).

I know that it will not always be like this. In fact, I am too often reminded of that as I work with over 300 teenagers on a weekly basis. I mean our students love their parents......but it's different. When their mom and dad walk in from work, our teens do not welcome them with cartwheels, high fives and family hugs. But that's ok too. I mean that is the way God intended it to be. It's a subtle reminder of how much he loves us and that even our kids are not really ours. That, they too, are created by him and for him and so if we are going to do our jobs well we must be pointing them to something other than ourselves. To help them wrestle with the mind-boggling truth that Jesus loves them far more than Mommy and Daddy. I have to admit those thoughts excite and scare me all the same. I definitely have some things to learn in the coming years of parenting. But for now, I will relish the rock star status I have among my two kids and keep trying to soak up the deep feelings of joy and happiness they bring to my life.

Monday, January 12, 2009


This is old but thought I would upload it since I am just starting this thing!

Last week I was on a date with my daughter Harper. She was busy telling me about all that she wanted for Christmas when she paused and asked me, "Daddy, what do you want the "mostest" for Christmas?" Shocked by the sudden pause in her exhaustive list, I thought for a while and told her that what I wanted most was for "the brothers" (the twin boys we are trying to adopt from Peru) to be home for Christmas. At that moment my 4 year old theologian quickly responded, "Daddy, the only person that can bring the brothers to us is God, we just have to keep praying that God will do that." You see, she said that because we do pray for that every night along with their prayers for toys, yummy food and good weather. Driving and choking back tears I began to think about the things the both of us want so deeply. I mean on one hand, it seems obvious that asking Jesus for an adoption is a much more worthy request than Elf on the Shelf or a cupcake maker. But is it? I mean could it be that my fixation on what God can get me is just as absurd as asking him for a plastic toy? No matter what it is, if I desire it more than Jesus, then he is not supreme and the affections that belong to him are now bent toward what he can get me. In those moments I am just a religious sinner whose desires are more acceptable to the culture but are no more pleasing to God who demands to be first place in everything. That thought, that idea, has caused me to wrestle with the gospel in a new way. Is Jesus really enough for me? Or do I find myself longing for what he can get me? (a perfect marriage, obedient kids, a successful ministry, etc.) If the gospel is true, then what must be ultimate, what must be my greatest desire, where I find true joy, is in the person of Jesus. Period! The message is clear, I get God! So, as I watch my kids unwrap their gifts this year, I will do it with a fresh perspective. I will know that whether we get what we want, even if we ask it from Jesus, we have been given God. And that……is what I want to desire the "mostest." Every moment of every day I want to press into Jesus more deeply and to want more of him, regardless of what additions he may or may not bring my way.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Anchored? (Original Post) #1! It feels kind of weird, awkward, and a little stupid. I guess the good thing is no one with any sense will actually be checking in!

For over a year and a half I have been thinking about the phrase "anchor of the soul." It comes from Hebrews 6:19 (hence the title of my blog). The imagery of Christ alone being what holds my soul at bay is one that I continue to ponder and wrestle with. It's hard to grasp the depths of his love for me. And not just for me but for all of mankind. To know that he alone can fix the brokenness that exists throughout this world as well as the brokenness that resonates within the soul of everyone is just so hard to fathom. It is truly a concept that cannot be grasped or understood by my simple mind. So the thoughts that follow, the stories I share, the questions I ask will all be clothed in the fact that God loves me more than I know and even more than I can believe. And He does that in a person, the God-man Jesus. Wow! That is what will keep me resting deeply in Him alone regardless of the depth of the sea or the severity of the storm.