Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blog, Blog, Blog

During this 30 days challenge to myself (which I am still questioning) I haven't read a lot of the bogs I usually frequent. However, as my 30 days draws near to close, I thought I would mention some other blogs that I really enjoy reading:

Kevin DeYooung - Kevin is one of my favorite writers. I think he is one of the clearest thinkers and talented writers in the Church today. He continually challenges me with what he has to offer.

Merely Theological - Part of the blog series produced by the Village Church in Dallas, TX, this blog provides insightful topics from the world of theology.

Justin Taylor - Similar to DeYoung, Justin always seems to have well written, interesting posts on a variety of current, relevant topics

JR Vassar - Although JR seems to disappear from the blog world at times (I can relate) his posts are usually written towards the heart of pastors. I think he must be a really cool dude.

Mars Hill Blog - Resource Rich! Pastor Mark Driscoll and the team at Mars Hill are always on the cutting edge of what is happening with churches around the world. I consistently learn something new when visiting this blog.

Tarheel Fan Blog - Not much explanation needed here.....everyone has their vices...right?

Grace Student Ministry Blog - I am obviously bias on this one. All the latest happenings, videos, photos and random thoughts from our student ministry staff and leaders.

Challies - This dude knows books! It seems like every few days he has a very thorough book review posted. I love books so naturally I am drawn to gain his latest thoughts. The only problem is I spend too much time on his blog and not enough time reading the books he recommends.

So there is a handful of blogs that I visit on a regular basis....I would love to hear where you spend your time online?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Film and Theology

Over the past few days I have had some interesting conversations about the difference between secular and sacred. All too often, especially in suburban, Christian culture, we tend to quickly label things as Christian or not. For example, we have Christian schools, stores, radio stations, books, clubs, etc. etc. I honestly hate the label. According to the bible only people can be Christians so I am not sure why we choose to label buildings, institutions and lyrics as such. Anyway, my friend Dion wrote a recent blog which deals with this issue as it relates to films and how they should be evaluated. Check it out:

Just this past week, a student in our ministry had this posted on his Facebook wall: “Robin Hood was terrible. Save eight dollars and watch the version where Robin is a fox.” His reasons: the movie lacked character development, the acting was so-so, and the dialogue was weak. While I don’t entirely agree with his assessment of the movie, it did raise a couple of questions for me:
8 bucks??? My ticket cost $10. Since they have student discounts doesn’t it only seem fair that they would have teacher discounts? What about pastor discounts?
What determines whether or not a movie is good?
For the purposes of this blog, we’ll ignore #1 (even though I think it is a great idea) and deal solely with #2. For the student posting on Facebook character development, acting, and dialogue obviously determine whether or not a movie is good. For some, a movie is good if it allows them a couple hours of escape, while others enjoy movies that make them think. Other criteria includes whether or not a movie was visually pleasing, whether or not a movie was entertaining, funny, or sad, and whether or not there was a lot of bad language, nudity, or violence. These are often the criteria highlighted in the responses people give when asked whether or not they liked a movie.
Unfortunately, what often is overlooked is whether or not what the movie presents to be true lines up with the Bible says is true. Take Avatar for instance. Visually, it was amazing. It didn’t have the best acting, but the acting was tolerable. And, it’s rated PG-13 so that means it is government approved for students to see. However, the movie is also filled with the lie that God and nature are one in the same. It presents a religion that is paganism at best. Or take just about any romantic drama commonly referred to as a “chick flick.” While these movies may not have a lot of cussing, lack gruesome violence, and stir your emotions, almost all of them end with a girl committing idolatry by finding her identity in a man other than Jesus.
Does this mean that we as Christians should ban all movies except for the likes of Fireproof and Facing the Giants? I sure hope not or else I may not watch another movie in my life. However, what it does mean is that the way we watch movies and the questions we ask afterwards need to change. It is not good enough for us to just ask whether or not we liked a movie. We must ask why we liked that movie and whether or not what we liked lined up with the gospel. We must ask what lies the movie presented as truths. We must ask whether or not the movie celebrated sin or accurately showed the effects of sin. In short, we most watch movies with Romans 12:2 in mind:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
If we aren’t careful, a seemingly “good” movie can lead to us copying the behavior and customs of this world instead of being transformed by God into a new person. Movies that do that should be considered “bad” regardless of how great the acting is.
- Joseph

Yeah Yeah

In the last few weeks I have had some very special dad moments.

A few weeks ago the annual BMW Celebrity Pro-Am was in town. I thought it would be great opportunity to spend some quality time with my son who loves all sports. In order to really make myself out like a hero I checked Cal out of school early which immediately gave me super dad status. His face lit up as if it were Christmas morning as I explained to him where we were going. Other than helping him understand why Tiger and Phil were not at this tournament even though it was a tournament for professionals, we had an amazing afternoon. We followed groups around as they bombed the ball of the tee, fired dart-like approach shots and drained lengthy putts with ease. Calahan and I were both amazed with the abilities that the seemingly normal athletes displayed. It was a really good day until we decided to sit and watch a few groups finish their round on #9. As one group finished, two players walked up to Calahan, smiled at him, and tossed him their golf ball. Almost speechless with shock and excitement, he managed to say thank you as the players gave him a high five and walked off. It was a total thrill to experience that moment with him.

That same weekend, I watched my 6 year old little girl score a soccer goal. While most people saw a busted and broken play, I saw a skilled player maneuver down the field weaving between defenders as she strategically placed a shot into the back right corner of the net. I might as well have been watching Mia Hamm score a National Championship winning goal for the Tarheels. As she half skipped, half ran towards me in excitement, I was overcome with the same feeling I had the day before with Calahan. I wish more than anything I could bottle those feelings up to use them on demand at a later time.

As I reflect on those moments I am reminded of 1 John 3:1, "See what kind of love the Father has for us, that we should be called children of God." If I can be overcome with love, joy, peace and happiness over the simplest achievements and special moments for my kids, how much more does God smile upon us daily because of the masterful accomplishment of his son Jesus. It's just one more subtle reminder of the goodness of God and the all sufficiency of the gospel.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I found this blog post from Kevin Deyoung a few days ago. It was extremely convicting and caused me to reflect on all the things that are right at my fingertips that I am harmfully neglecting.

The word “to marvel” or “to stand amazed” (thaumazo) is pretty common in the gospels. But it’s almost always used in connection with the crowd’s response to Jesus. They are usually the ones amazed or marveling, not Jesus. In fact, there are only two times in the New Testament where Jesus is said to marvel. One is in Mark 6:7 where Jesus marvels at the unbelief in Nazareth. The other occasion is in Luke 7:9 where Jesus marvels at the Centurion and his great faith. These are the only two times we have record of Jesus marveling.

It seems, then, there are two things that make Jesus step back and say “Wow!” 1) Those who believe when it’s not expected they would. 2) Those who disbelieve when there’s every reason they should.

Does Jesus ever marvel at you or me? I think when he sees his people trusting in the midst of extreme suffering, he marvels. When he sees people from the roughest backgrounds come to him with brokenhearted humility, he marvels. When he sees you give up comfort and security for the sake of his kingdom, he marvels.

But on the other hand, I fear he may marvel at us for the wrong reasons sometimes. If I were a teenager or twentysomething I’d hate for Jesus to look at me and think, “Here’s a kid with loving parents, Bible reading at the dinner table, prayers from his whole family, faithful teaching at church, a comfortable home with lots of opportunities and encouragements, and yet this young person wants nothing to do with me. Amazing!” That’s not the amazement you want from Jesus.

I think Jesus marvels at some of us who sit under the preaching of the word and enjoy the fellowship of the saints and know all the Bible stories and still there’s no zeal for Christ, no desire to grow in him, no effort to put him first.

Nazareth is a warning to us. Familiarity can breed spectacular unbelief. The Centurion is a ray of hope: even the unlikeliest among us sometimes believe. In both cases, Jesus marvels.

I’m sure Jesus stands amazed as he looks at the church in North America. I wonder what makes him marvel the most.


Of late, I have been telling people that I hate the month of May. From a distance, May seems so pleasant and so promising. Spring is in full bloom with warm temperatures, lush green grass, and the expectation of another glorious summer is so close you can almost taste it. Due to my job, that expectation is bitter sweet. Sweet because summer always brings loads of fun and adventure with family, friends and students. The bitter comes from a combination of having to prepare for all the future festivities and the complexities brought on by "the end." By "the end," I mean all that comes with the culmination of another school year: graduation, graduation parties, awards days, etc, etc, etc.

Thankfully, last night, if only for a moment, I was reminded of everything beautiful with the month of May. Each year, we put on a Senior Night for the graduating students of Grace Church. Our goal is to both humiliate and honor the seniors in a creative and professional way. For two hours (or so) we put on an Oscar-style night filled with awards, photos, cover songs and a plethora of pot-shots aimed at all the seniors. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much. It was quite impressive to the see the night come together with few to no hiccups.

Towards the conclusion of the evening we transitioned into a time of musical worship, prayer and one last charge to the class of 2010. It's hard to put into words how it feels to reflect on seven years of memories with approximately 30 high school students including Bible studies, retreats, mission trips, late night food runs, summer volleyball and pool outings. But more than all of that, most meaningful was thinking about how much life change has occurred in that group. As a leader, nothing is more gratifying than realizing how many of those students are giving their lives away because they believe in the gospel. An eternal investment with eternal rewards. To believe so deeply in something that you sacrifice your time, money, energy and interests for others is truly amazing.

As I read Ephesians 2:1-10 to our students, the power of the Holy Spirit was so comforting as he reminded me that loving God and loving others is always worthwhile. It is by God's grace that we have been saved. It is not because of anything we do. And because of that mind-boggling, radical truth, our lives can be transformed in a way that compels us to love others in the way He loves us.

Thanks Seniors!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I can see you

I have known about Skype for a while. I have seen it used on TV and by some friends, but not until this past week have I actually used it for myself. Although I imagined it would be cool and helpful, I honestly never really needed it. I just viewed it as a luxury that I may or may not get around to having some day (kind of like an iPhone or a Blu Ray player).

However, this past week it became a necessity. We kept our two nieces while their mom and dad were traveling in the Bahamas, and they wanted to be able to talk to them while they were gone. Additionally, we used Skype with our good friends John and Tina as they are in Peru finalizing their adoption.

So, just in the past five days, we have had six Skype conversations. We are able to have essentially face to face communication with people that are across an ocean on a different continent! Now that is pretty amazing. But what is more amazing is that it didn't cost us a dime!

If you have not taken advantage of this technological nugget I would recommend that you do so really soon! Oh...gotta go....getting a Skype invitation from Peru!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

7 Miles

Last week my good friend Laura Babcock Baxley (or Babs as I call her) turned me on to the way cool website called sermon jams ( They take snippits of sermons and put them to music and catchy video. As I watched video after video I found myself wanting more as I continued to play the next one in line. I'm not sure what it is but there is something addictive in them for me. Ironically enough, most of the sermons they highlight I have already heard. However, this format is very compelling and very powerful. There is a creative genius to mixing clear, biblical, gospel-centered preaching with contemporary tunes and simple graphics. The perfect fit for our entertainment saturated culture. Check out this one. I hope you enjoy. But warning: you may be watching for the next few hours.

And oh by the way, Matt Chandler is one of my favorite preachers and communicators. Amazing how compelling he is!

Dos Mas

For the past few days we have had 2 little additions to our family. Mary Addison (3) and Raylie (1) are staying with us while mom and dad are on a trip. Having already ushered 2 kids through the toddler life stage, I didn't think it would be much of an ordeal to have them hanging around for a week. Little did I know, or should I say how quickly I have forgotten, what and emotional and physical task it is to provide and care for children at such a young age. Mealtime is more like a war zone than a relaxing dining experience. Food collects in booster seats and on the floor instead of in bellies. Tumbling sippy cups, clanging silverware and messy bibs all add to the ambiance that makes everyone long for a fastfoward version of family dinner.

One bonus of this age is that kids are an instant workout. You can get olympic style training for a variety of events. Preparation for track and field is common as you chase them around the house trying to keep up with their unending energy and to protect them from 95% of the household items that are not age appropriate. Interested in hurdles? Baby gates can be found at every door way and stairway. Somehow they are strategically placed where you have to go. Anyone for power lifts? Kids can get heavy fast! Especially when you are doing repetition after repetition of baby dead lifts, clean and press and upward rows. I mean I don't know how every mom doesn't look like Jillian Michaels.

As I sit on the couch, hoping they will stay engaged with Curious George for a few minutes, I am reminded of what a blessing from the Lord children are. However, for the past few days I am also clearly reminded that it is a tall task to parent well and one that requires a lot of emotional and relational energy.

And I have only had them for a few hours in the evenings!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1/2 way

I just realized today that I am on post 18 of my personal 30 for 30 challenge. And although I am a little off pace (don't worry, I will make it up), I am quite surprised that I am approaching the finish line. So, here are a few thoughts and discoveries from my first 18:

- I still enjoying writing and posting
- I have discovered that I get stuck in "doing" the same kind of blog
- I definitely like to have deadlines, even if they are self imposed
- This is the worst possible time for me to do this. May is ridiculously busy for me with retreats, graduation festivities, preparing for 5 interns, a new middle school pastor and prep for the entire summer
- Blog entries can be anything from a thought or question to a YouTube video or song lyrics
-Posting daily has caused me to visit many other blogs which I learn from and enjoy reading
- All of life is now filtered through the lens of blogworthy or not
- I actually get excited when I figure out a topic to blog about
- And last but not least: I am ready for #30

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


If you care anything about NBA basketball or you just casually watch ESPN, you have probably heard all the recent talk about Lebron James potentially leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for a larger television market such as New York or Chicago this summer. Everyone seems to have an opinion and many of them think he should leave Cleveland ASAP. Although I have never visited Cleveland, I really haven't understood the argument......until I found this Youtube video......I hope you laugh as much as I did.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I spent this past weekend with 99 5th and 6th graders. No, I am not insane (not yet anyway). Yes, I chose to do so. I was a little apprehensive to say the least. I am use to doing big events with students but never with a group this big and this young. I mean, at 11 and 12 these kids are just as likely to be home sick for mom and dad or a stuffed animal as they are to swim in a freezing cold lake. You never know what you are going to get. So the thought of being responsible for 99 of them for the entire weekend was a bit daunting.

But to my surprise, the entire retreat was amazing. For the past 6 years I have been on at least 15 retreats within our student ministry and I cannot remember having as much fun as I did with this group. The students were respectful and obedient, attentive and engaged, excited and involved, appreciative and responsive.

Throughout the weekend we had a variety of games that were all based on Japanese games show events. The students rose to the occasion and gave all the effort they had to win for their team. On Saturday night the Fusion band led us in a variety of different musical songs and challenged the students to worship God with their voices. It was quite a blessing to see them disregard what others may think, the awkwardness of singing, and various distractions to fully engage.

Additionally, they were pumped about free time which included a giant swing, a zip line, basketball, ultimate frisbee, and a canteen full of sugar. I honestly can't think of one moment where they were bored or lacking.

Most satisfying for me this weekend was our large group discussions about the book of James. As young students, it is often easy for them to be overwhelmed by the Bible. Language, times and cultural differences can make the scriptures hard for the average adult to digest, much less a grade schooler who is still primarily a concrete thinker. It was good to give them small chunks of scripture and help them understand what it means both to the original audience and for us today. We spent the majority of our time talking about biblical wisdom and how it is necessary for all of us.

On the ride home, a car load of students told one of our leaders that the teaching was their favorite part of the entire weekend. Wow! Really? Maybe they were just trying to "say the right thing." But maybe they were really understanding in part how amazing God's love is for them as revealed in the Bible, and they were pumped to experience God in a fresh way. My prayer is that the weekend was just a taste of what is to come for them in the future: that their passion for the scriptures would grow and grow and that they would cry out to God for wisdom.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I found this prayer to very appropriate for all who have every longed to get some much needed rest.

Blessed Creator,
Thou hast promised thy beloved sleep;
Give me restoring rest needful for tomorrow's toil.
If dreams be mine, let them not be tingled with evil.
Let thy Spirit make my time of repose a blessed temple of his holy presence.

May my frequent lying down make me familiar with death,
the bed I approach remind me of the grave,
the eyes I now close picture to me their final closing.
Keep me always ready, waiting for admittance to the presence.
Weaken my attachment to earthly things.
May I hold life loosely in my hand,
knowing that I receive it on condition of its surrender;
As pain and suffering betoken transitory health,
may I not shrink from death
that introduces me to the freshness of eternal youth.
I retire this night in full assurance of one day awaking with thee.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Middle of NOWHERE

Ever been to Allendale County? My guess is that unless you are from there, or you happen to get really lost on your way to visit the South Carolina coast, the answer is no. Until today, I too would have answered no.

This summer, we will be taking around 130 students and leaders to serve in Allendale over a 10 day period. As a church, we are committed to helping this community that is struggling in many different ways. As I listened to various people share their opinions, passions and desires, it became glaringly obvious that there is work to be done and we can play a role.

A few things that stuck out to me during my quick visit today:

- Allendale County is the poorest county in South Carolina where the average household income is around $18,000 annually.
- 75% of teens are sexually active by the time they are freshman in high school
- Allendale has the highest teen pregnancy rate and infant mortality rate in the state
- The closest mall is at least 1:15 minutes away
- Starbucks may as well be a foreign country
- Clara' s Restaurant serves up some amazing chicken-n-waffles, collard greens, candied yams and cornbread
- 90% of the school teachers do not live in Allendale County
- There are some amazing people like Angela, Joe, Wilbur and Carole who really love God, and their county

From a distance, Allendale county may as well be a a city on another continent from a different time period. But when you take a closer look, Allendale is just like Greenville. A city filled with broken people who are in desperate need of Jesus. I am excited to see how God chooses to use us to be a part of the reconciliation process in Allendale County in the coming weeks, months and years.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No Condemnation

This morning I was reading one of my favorite blogs (more on Kevin and blogs in a future post). I think it is a great piece on the workings of guilt and how Christians need to deal with it. The blog was very convicting and redeeming for me to read.

For as long as I can remember, I have always struggled with guilt. Not the kind of guilt that paralyzes and keeps one from functioning, but the kind of guilt that always keeps me wondering and second guessing myself. Questions that rattle around in the corners of my mind and never seem to go away. Does God really love me? Do I truly believe the gospel? Am I a legit follower of Christ? Am I doing enough for the kingdom? Was my teaching effective? Have I loved that person well? A seemingly constant tug of war.

I'm not sure where it comes from. Maybe everyone has the same questions and wrestles with similar feelings. Maybe it comes from my desires for achievement and approval. Regardless of the cause, I constantly find myself struggling to believe the words of Paul in Romans 8. "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." At the end of the day, I need to be reminded that my acceptance and approval has nothing to do with my actions but of the actions Jesus has already accomplished.

I would encourage everyone to read Kevin DeYoung's entry on guilt. I hope you find it as enriching as I did.

Monday, May 10, 2010


1a: painful or uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill.

According to Merriam, this is the definition of anxiety. I don't consider myself to be a very anxious person but "uneasiness over anticipation" most definitely describes my current state.

For the past 30 minutes I have been staring at my iCal in disbelief. With summer quickly approaching, I am feeling the mounting pressure of an insane schedule. By the time August shows itself on the calendar, I think I am going to need cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

During the next 80 days when I'm not sunbathing and drinking lemonade, I will be doing one or a combination of the following:

5 high school graduations, 6 soccer games, 2 retreats, 5 interns, 2 mission trips, football meetings and football practices, 4 bible studies, 16 teaching "opportunities," numerous graduation parties (the count is still rising), 1 missions conference, at least 20 more blog entries and 1 wisdom tooth extraction!

Ha, while composing this post, I have received 2 e-mails: one for another graduation party and one for another teaching opportunity. This is definitely going to be crazy summer. Ironically enough, summer is my favorite time of year. Travel, pools, lots of time with students, outdoor activities, and of course yummy fruits and vegetables. So uneasy = yes, a little anxious and overwhelmed = yes, but the chaos of my summer is anything but an anticipated ill. Soon the haze will lift and my colorful calendar will no longer seem like a burden. A brief moment of clarity is sometimes needed to remind me what a great privilege it is to be able to do and experience all of the things God has placed before me.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Daily Meditation

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

Colossians 3:1-4

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Weekend Part 2

As we prepare to love the world in deed and word (See Part 1 for more details), we are doing so in a way that is very strategic. We believe that in order to best be used by God, there are a number of things we must do. As followers of Christ, our compassion for others comes from an overflow of love and mercy that we experience from our Lord and Savior (Matt. 22:37-40). If we are going to love the world well, we must first realize that we all, at one time, were in desperate need ourselves. (Eph. 2:1-10) The goal for all of our students is NOT for them to "go on a trip" or "have an experience," but to continually become more like Christ. Instead of "doing" missions, we want them to become missional. God's mission for us is not contained to a few weeks on a summer calendar or even by specific locations. Therefore, we think every minute of every day is reason to learn how to love our neighbors the way that Christ loves us.

Here are a few practical steps of preparations for all of our students:

1 - Pray. We need to be in constant prayer for the people we get to minister to. (1 Timothy 2:1-5)
2 - Know Your Neighbor. Just like Paul in Acts 17, we must know the strengths, needs, and unique culture of the people we are in community with. (Luke 10:25-37)
3 - Know Yourself. Understanding who God made you to be and how he has created you to serve him will have a huge impact on how effective you can be. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
4 - Get Equipped. Preparation is key. Each experience is different and requires unique training. (Proverbs 1:1-7).
5 - Go. The core of becoming missional is that you can't stay put. Movement is a necessity. It may be across the street or it may be across the world. (Matt. 28:18-20)

Please pray for our students and leaders as we continue the process of becoming missional.

Weekend Part 1

For the past 2 days, I have spent time with 70 students and leaders from Grace Church on a retreat in the mountains of North Carolina. This retreat was different than almost any other retreat I have been a part of. In fact, all the staples you find on a typical retreat were noticeably absent this week: games, team competition, bonfires, s'mores and t-shirts.

No, this retreat had a single-focus; preparation for summer mission trips. This summer our student ministry will be sending out 3 different teams to 3 different locations.

1 - From June 7th-15th, a team of 14 will go to Managua, Nicaragua. This team will partner with a community church to do evangelism in schools, community outreach, sports events and lead multiple church services. Additionally, this team will lead a weekend retreat for youth leaders in Nicaragua. The goal of the retreat is to help equip the leaders with strategies for effectively ministering to their churches and communities.

2 - From June 20th-25th, a team of nearly 50 students and leaders will spend a week in Allendale, South Carolina. Allendale County is one of the poorest counties in South Carolina where that average household income is $19,000 annually. During this trip, our team will lead a day camp for the local Boys and Girls Club, do construction work on a local church, and participate in various events to connect with people in the community.

3 - From July 10th - 17th, a team of 30 students and leaders will travel to Eleuthera, Bahamas. Partnering with Mike and Shannen Fastzkie, our team will lead a a vacation bible school, a day camp for special needs students and help with local construction projects.

As diligent as our teams worked in preparation this weekend, I know they will continue to work just as hard from now until the time their trip is complete. I am excited to see how God will use all of this to shape our students, spread the gospel and bring glory to Himself.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


When our kids were younger, Kelly and I tried to think of creative ways to introduce them to the Scriptures, church and what it means to have a relationship with God. In addition to modeling an open and honest prayer life, we gave them some clear structure when praying. We would guide them through a prayer that would answer the following questions:

1 - What is something you are thankful to God for?
2 - What is something you are sorry for?
3 - What do want to ask God for?

As you can imagine, the amount of random comments from this exercise produced enough laughter to make anyone's abdominal muscles scream. In order to make it even more engaging and interactive, we used a small cushy ball that we would pass back and forth. Whoever had the ball would answer a question and then would have the privilege of choosing who would go next by passing them the ball (yes, this was the coach coming out in me). Over time, the ball become known as the thankful ball. Because Harper was very young and not yet verbally "developed", she always ended up saying "IFankfulfor (I'm thankful for). The thankful ball became a staple in our house during the evenings.

Over the past few days I have been thinking about the thankful ball a lot. I am just getting over a 4 day long stomach bug. Not good! However, as bad as it has been, it has reminded me of how thankful I am for some of the simple things in life:

- Coffee! Oh how I missed you! (nope, I don't have issues)
- food with color (I'm so done with white bread, white rice and white crackers)
- the gym (I just function better with exercise)
- a healthy back (soreness, aches and pains take over after so many hours on the couch)
- food with taste (oh how I missed fruit, and vegetables, and meats and sauces, etc, etc)
- human contact (being quarantined and being kept at a distance from all people got old fast)

Although I'm not ready to reintroduce the cushy ball, I am much more aware of some of the great things in life, as simple as they may be. And really hoping I don't need another reminder anytime soon!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chips N Dip

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I would share a few mexican food moments and memories.

Los Arcos - Lots of cheap combination #1's and Speedy Gonzales at the only mexican restaurant I think existed in Boone while I was in college. Why did ice cold coke taste so good with that food?

Fish Tacos - My friend Dave McIrath made delicious homemade fish tacos one year for my birthday! Totally scrumptious. Since then they have been one of my favorites.

Chuy's and Blue Goose - 2 of our favorite Dallas joints. Something about Mexican food in so good.

Calahan's 1st Beer - ok, ok, not really....but we do have a picture of him grasping a Shiner Bock at Chuy's as a 3 month old.

Homemade Salsa and Guac - Kelly does the guac, I do the salsa....yummy!!!

Pilo's - Some random border town mexican joint in south Texas. We ate their twice while on a mission trip. I remember that the flank steak fajitas were insane. Or maybe they just tasted so good because I was with 30 high school students in the middle of nowhere waiting for a hurricane to pass.

Back-2-Back - Eating at the The Blue Goose on consecutive days on a recent trip to Dallas. Special thanks to Mo and MK for making us get the Sopapillas. Unbelievable!

Tonight - Dinner at Corona's. The food wasn't that great but the experience was tremendous. Free necklaces, t-shirts and hats. Cinco de Mayo has instantly become a favorite holiday in our house.

Viva La Mexico

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thine not Mine

I regularly go through phases where my prayer life is not what I want it to be. What do I want it to be? Honestly, I am not even sure I know. I do desire to have a continual growing dependence on God. One that causes me to always be thinking and communicating with Him. One where others needs are on the forefront of my mind and my own agenda fades away. But sometimes, even when that may be happening, I feel like all is not right.

Over the past few years, one tool I have found to be a regular help with my communion with God is a book entitled, The Valley of Vision. It is a collection of Puritan prayers. Reading these rich declarations of dependence has driven me to echo and own them for myself. They are filled with a robust appreciation for the greatness of Christ and the neediness of mankind. Below is the entry that gave the book it's title. I hope God uses it to stir your soul as well:

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Though hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see you in the heights,
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold the glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen in deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy star shines;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Preaching to the Choir

A few weeks ago I was fulfilling my mr. mom duties of folding and putting away clothes. I was a bit surprised to see Calahan standing at my bedroom door as I had recently put him to bed (the rule is once in bed, you stay in bed). Before I could scold him and demand he return to his room, I noticed the curious look on his face and immediately knew something was up. With an outstretched hand he beckoned me to follow him. As we entered the hall, I could hear the voice of my daughter. As we drew closer to her bedroom door, the muffled tones turned to clear words filled with energy and passion. Quickly I realized what had caused Calahan's state of uncontrollable laughter. Before I proceed, you need a little more context.

As I was tucking Harper in that night, I told her that she could read in her bed for a while before going to sleep. In response, she asked if she could talk instead. Not really understanding what my creative, right-brained daughter meant, I simply said "sure Harper you can talk for a few minutes." back to the story. Here is what Calahan and I heard that night:

Harper - "Now, you need to understand that God wants you to be kind and compassionate to everyone. Do you know why? Because He made everyone and it makes him very mad when you are not nice to the people he made. And you know what else? You are disobedient and sinful. And God loved you so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for you to take the punishment for your disobedience."

Unable to control myself any longer I pushed open the door to find my daughter leaning over the edge of her bed with her finger extended towards her two American Girl Dolls. Yes, I am certain that Mia and Josephina got saved that night. If not, there is absolutely no hope for them. I'm not sure what is more haunting, the fact that my 6 year old theologian was preaching at inanimate objects or that she obviously takes in everything she hears me say. Regardless, I know I can never hear a gospel presentation again without that precious image coming to the forefront of my mind.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stirred Up

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

7am - 10pm.....that is a typical Sunday for me. I usually have an hour or two at home but most of my day is spent at church. If I'm not careful, it can become nothing but work for me. In one sense, it is work. I am a pastor. That is my job, and I get paid for doing the responsibilities that require such long days. However, I don't want Sunday to be a job for me. I want it to always be a time where I can encourage and be encouraged by my time together with the church body.

The author of Hebrews says that we need to meet together to "encourage on another." Today I was encouraged by:
* hearing the Scriptures taught
* singing songs of adoration to Jesus
* celebrating Communion
* talking with others about how they are being used by God
* listening to high school students talk about their faith
* talking to my Son about what he learned at church
* watching the many different body parts function as one moving unit

I am thankful for those words as they are a constant reminder that no matter how exhausting Sundays may get, I know that my soul needs to be encouraged in many different ways, by many different people. And in that I have a role to play as well, whether I get paid for it or not.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


The Short - I woke up with a stomach virus! My day has spent migrating between the bed, couch and bathroom. My diet has consisted of a steady dose of saltine crackers and watered down Gatorade. Mustering the energy to flip open the lap top and bang out a blog entry is a very tall feat.

The Sweet - Harper scored her first career soccer goal today! This is her first attempt at playing a sport (sorry, cheerleading doesn't count in my book) and I wasn't certain that a goal would come. However, she has steadily improved and seems to be loving the game. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it but having her tell me all about it was pretty special. I hope there are many more to come in the future.

Hard to believe that it's just day 3 of my challenge and I'm already experiencing a major road block. Oh well, here's to pushing through.

So, short-n-sweet.....there it is.

Friday, April 30, 2010


It's just about lunch time as I write, and already, life for the Keevers has been turned upside down (oops, maybe a poor choice of words). Early this morning, Kelly woke up with a bad case of the stomach virus. Since that time, our day has been a chain of mess-ups, changes and cancelations. Here is a sample of the day we didn't expect:

Dad had to do Harper's hair = She has to Wait for another day to wear it the way she wanted.
Trip to BP for a coke for Kel = Wait for 3 people to have a ridiculously long conversation
Scheduled golf match = Wait for another day (hopefully as beautiful as this one)
Getting a prescription from the doctor = Wait 2.5 hours just to have him call it in
Pick-up at Pharmacy = Wait, Wait, Wait because they can't find the order
Scheduled plans with friends tonight = Wait for another time
Trip to Allendale tomorrow = Wait for another time

So you get the picture. Wait! Wait! Wait!

The Psalms are filled with verses that command God's people to wait on him. When reading the sacred literature, I routinely blow past that word, not fully grasping what it meant to the original audience or what application it may have for me. Quite honestly, I'm not very fond of waiting (see above). I mean who is? Our society has pampered us with instant access to just about anyone or anything anywhere. Fast food restaurant, delivery services, cell-phones, and the internet have done a great job of masking the harsh reality that exist for all creatures. Over the past few hours a quote from my seminary professor Dr. Jeff Bingham has been rattling in my head. "Every time we have to wait should cause us to worship." The fact is, God alone is exempt from waiting. He created life by speaking it into existence. He heals wounds and diseases. He calms storms. And all in an instant! God is not bound by time. It's just one way we are distinct from our creator.

Instead of getting frustrated, upset and even angry over waiting, I want waiting to remind me that I am just a creature. And that no matter how technologically advanced our society becomes, I will always be bound by such limitations. But God isn't, and he never will be and that brings reason to worship our creator.

So this afternoon, and hopefully in the future, I will worship while I wait.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

30 for 30

Ok Ok! I know the title is not original. Hopefully you have had the pleasure of enjoying one or more of the entertainment nuggets airing on ESPN as part of their 30 for 30 documentary series. Some of today's best filmmakers use their gifts to highlight some of their favorite sports characters, moments and events from the past 30 years. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius. These hour long episodes are truly fascinating and clearly reveal how filmmakers really can make or break a story.

However, my 30 for 30 has nothing to do with ESPN, the past 30 years, or today's best filmmakers. No, mine represents a personal challenge. Over the past 6 months I have struggled with the motivation to maintain a consistent blog. Now, in my defense, I am regularly being asked to contribute to two other blogs (, which have become a bit of a distraction. But with that said, I want to offer up no excuses and find out for myself what I really think about the world of blogging.

So, here is the challenge that I have given myself. I am going to do 30 blogs in 30 days! Why you might ask? Because I want to commit wholeheartedly in an effort to see if it's really something that I like to do, want to do, and is beneficial for both myself and others. Although there may not be an entry every single day, the goal will be to have 30 blogs by the end of 30 days. Hopefully, by the end of May I will know more about myself, my desire to write and blog. And as is the case with all thing in my life, I hope this challenge in some way, draws me closer to God, gives me a better understanding of the gospel, and points others towards Christ.

Good night. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Here and There

I recently returned from a visit to Dallas, TX. I attended 4 church services, had 3 meetings, ate at the same mexican restaurant twice and enjoyed a romantic Valentines Day with 3 "close" friends all within 48 hours. (Just for clarification the romantic part with 3 guys was a joke! Please no e-mails to the elders of Grace Church).

There are definitely things I miss about Dallas: unbelievable Mexican food, a Starbucks on every corner, and Cowboys paraphernalia everywhere. However, midnight traffic, toll roads and the never ending concrete jungle that is Dallas served as smelling salt to my momentary lapses of nostalgia.

There is an old saying about the Lonestar state that "everything's bigger in Texas." and churches are no exception. The four churches we attended average over 6,000 people weekly and have buildings that resemble shopping malls. Coffee bars, oversized fire places, flatscreen tv's and leather sofas are standard clad in the metroplex mega-churches, and that is before you even enter the sanctuary. Inside, worship leaders wear scarfs, and pastors with designer jeans seem larger than life on big screens and big stages. However, once the bling induced shock wears off, there was plenty of church normalcy to be found.

Fellowship Church in Grapevine is ginormous! This was the most unlike Grace of all the churches we visited, and it was hard for me to focus, much less worship. The music was very concert like with a worship band the size of a choir and cameras everywhere. The teaching was filled with vivid illustrations and lots of comical relief. However, not once did I hear the words Jesus, cross, sin, repentance as the pastor worked through (I use the phrase loosely) the book of Nehemiah. I was reminded that visuals can really help communicate our message. Unfortunately, the message was't Jesus!

Watermark Church epitomizes Dallas. Lots of room, lots of money and lots of pretty people. I swear every dude there was 6'3 and 190 lbs of muscle. Excellence was the takeaway! They communicate well in everything they do. This local community is having an impact in Dallas and around the world, and they are doing it by teaching the bible.

BentTree Bible Fellowship was marked by people that are very loving, kind and generous. Although I didn't get to sit in their adult service I know that they are committed to loving people well and meeting all the various needs of the people in their community.

The last church we attended was The Village Church in Flower Mound. Unlike the other "souped-up" services, The Village offered nothing but a guitar, a bible and a few people using them to exalt the name of Jesus and equip the members to be conformed to the image of Christ. It was quite refreshing to worship in a place that felt like home. I found the Village to be a lot like Grace in a number of different ways. What stuck out the most to me, was their determined focus to do a few things well, and their contentment with what God has called them to do and be.

By the time we returned Monday night, I was both energized and exhausted, excited and overwhelmed. But through it all I am thankful for Grace Church and amazed that Jesus has chosen to use this thing called the church to save the world to himself.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Ever have "those songs?" You know...the ones that stick in your head for whatever reason and you just can't seem to shake them. Typically the stick occurs because of a catchy tune or a well-crafted lyric. While recalling the tune may start out as fun and cool, it can quickly turn into annoying and downright insanity. Typically I chalk it up as a natural side-effect that comes with being moved by tunes. However, my most recent encounter has grabbed me at a deeper level, and it won't release its grasp.

Over the holidays, I began listening to a dude named Daniel Renstrom. You can check him out at The song that keeps pricking my soul is Broken Cisterns. Yeah, the tune is good, but it is the lyrics that are rich with spiritual depth and purpose. Unlike a lot of today's "Christian music," (I actually don't believe there is a such thing as Christian music, because songs can't have a relationship with Jesus, but that is another entry for another time) this song does not dwell on the happiness of knowing Jesus, or how great life is for those who call themselves Christians. Quite the contrary, Renstrom's words revolve around the theme of brokenness. In a much more poetic way, the song echoes the story of mankind: God is good, he chooses to use us, yet we love ourselves more than him. Because of our stupidity, we are "cracked about the head" and in need of some major fixing! However, what resonates most deeply with me is the understanding that this need for repair is continual.

As someone who has been following Christ for a long time, it is easy to become complacent, and even satisfied, with who I have become as a man, friend, and pastor. It is scary and downright sickening to find myself believing and acting this way because it is in complete contradiction to the clear message of the gospel. Jesus says he only came for those in desperate need (Luke 5:31), and yet I regularly end up thinking the only thing I need is someone to help ME accomplish MY agenda.

As I sit and watch images of Haitians being pulled dead and alive from buildings, along with vehicles and stagggering piles of unidentifiable rubbage, I am brought face-to-face with brokenness. My heart and soul are torn for those people and their outrageous circumstances. They are in extreme need of physical help in ways that are hard to comprehend, even as I view the images right in front of me. And I don't want to miss that. I don't want to miss the reminder that I am called to meet the physical needs of all those created in God's image. But I also don't want to miss the fact that I am just as needy as those who are homeless, orphaned, and injured. My wounds just aren't as obvious to the naked eye. So I am thankful to D-Ren for his consistent (and not so quiet) reminder of the gospel. That I am a man in need of repair, and that repair can only come from the one that made me to be whole in the original plan.