Category: blog

May 26

Dear Church Family,

I stopped in a random Walmart for a haircut this week.  My hair was out of control, and I desperately needed someone to trim my locks.  Well, when I signed in to get the haircut, the only barber was a lady with bright, emphasis bright, blue hair.  Hmm, I thought, I have never had my hair cut by someone with blue hair.  I was not particularly biased toward the girl, just curious about how this would go.  I thought, if she can cut hair, what difference does it make what color her hair is.  I plopped into the chair.

 

“What have you been doing today?” Deanne spoke confidently.  “I have been in a meeting to help churches start programs to help people with addiction”, I replied.  Well, that opened the floodgates of conversation.

 

She began to share how her church ministered to people with drug addiction.  She had personally dealt with drug addiction in her family.  Jesus had healed her family.  Deanne poured out her heart about Jesus, and how he can change the lives of so many people….she went on and on.  It was sweet!

I began to affirm her for her testimony and for her convictions to share Jesus with everybody who sat in her chair.  “It’s like you have a one chair church!”  “All day long, people come to your “church” for a haircut, and for Jesus!

 

After I left blue-haired Deanne, I got to wondering, how many other one chair churches could we start?  How many captive audiences do we engage everyday, who need to be in “church” and hear about Jesus ?  I wonder, do you need to start a “church” where you work?

 

Also, thanks for praying for Jo’s family as her father is remembered this weekend in Austin.  Thanks Eric for preaching today.  Thanks to all our service people who have served.  Blessings to you.

 

Also, also, remember to fill out a yellow card with a sermon request.  I will be planning sermons for the next couple of months.  I want to include your request!

 

Blessings,

Dr. j

 

April 18

Dear Church Family;

 

“Gone with the Wind”, “The Sound of Music”, “Mary Poppins (original)”, “Lion King”, “Beauty and the Beast”….You get the point.  These movies never get old.  They are timeless tales that always evoke emotion, entertainment, and a smile.

 

To an even greater degree, the story of Jesus, especially at the last moments leading up to the cross, and ultimately concluding with the resurrection, never gets old either.  We are moved with compassion as Jesus shares the Lord’s Supper with His disciples.  We are grieved and touched as Jesus washes the disciples feet, (Including Judas), as He knows he is about the be betrayed.  We are gripped with emotion as Jesus asks for “this cup to pass from me” in the garden, and are terrified as Jesus is arrested and taken off to ultimately be crucified.

 

We weep with Mary as she (unlike many disciples), stands by Jesus on the cross.  We wonder, “what is she feeling” as her son is hurting so bad.

We go into the tomb (in our imagination) as Jesus wakes up on Easter Sunday morning, knowing that before he rolls the stone, He must be contemplating what has just happened, and what is about to happen.  And we imagine that the victorious exit from the grave, includes a moment when He might think about you, and smile a wry smile of victory.

 

We are touched in the heart when Mary realizes it is Jesus, and begins to cling to Him, never wanting to let go.  Only to know that He must go.  Jesus must go once again to the Father.

 

Every time we read the classic story of Jesus, we are again gripped, moved, and touched in a way much deeper than any movie can do.  So, as you settle in to celebrate this timeless story today, be ready to be moved, by Jesus.

 

Blessings, Dr. j

I’m Alright

Dear Church Family,

 

His name is Rodney, and he is my friend.

Several years ago, Jo and I took a little 48 hour trip to New Orleans.  We love the food and the music, and we always find ourselves hanging out on the benches along the river.  This particular trip was no exception, and after a long afternoon of drifting around the Quarter, eating a beignet, looking at art, we needed a rest on a bench.

As we were gazing at the lazy, powerful Mississippi River, I sensed a presence near me.  A disheveled, homeless man, slumped into the bench next to me.  “How’s it going?”, I sheepishly asked?  “It’s alright”.  He answered.  (He didn’t look alright, by the way).  “What is your name?”  “Rodney”  “What is your story?”  I asked directly.

He said he needed to stay awake till Monday so that he could get into Charity Hospital and get his leg amputated. He was so determined to get that leg amputated.  “What is wrong with your leg?”  I was hooked.  He lifted his pants leg and I saw the most swollen, painful leg EVER!  “How did that happen?”, I asked with a growing concern.  Rodney began to tell me the story of coming to New Orleans with his mom when he was 18.  He was from Minnesota and had never been to the Big Easy.  He was hooked.  His mom told him to never come back, but years later, after his mom passed away, he decided (against her dying wishes) to return to New Orleans.  Well, one thing led to another (after all, it is New Orleans) and Rodney was on the street.  His leg got hurt when he stepped in front of a car and got run over.  And now, the only cure was amputation.  He had an appointment on Monday, but he had to make sure he did not sleep on a bench and miss the appointment.

“I will give you money for a shelter, Rodney”  I generously offered.  “Nope”  “used up all my days at the shelter.”, Rodney abruptly replied.    “And if I fall asleep in New Orleans, they will arrest me and put me in jail.  I can’t miss my appointment.”  He kept repeating the phrase, “I’ll be alright!”  “I’ll be alright!”

We gave him some money for food, and I gave him my business card.  As we walked away, I noticed him shopping for a

po-boy at one of the shops nearby.  I prayed that he would be “alright”.

Months later, I was in the middle of a busy day at the church where I served as the pastor.  A call came in from a person who would not leave a message.  I could not take the call and the person just kept calling.  After about the 4th call, my youth pastor answered the call and said, “I think you better take this.” I hurriedly answered the phone and it was Rodney.  I was floored.

“What can I do for you Rodney?”, I asked, somewhat embarrassed in my spirit.  “I don’t need anything”, Rodney smile back through the phone.  “I just wanted you to know that ….I am alright”.  He began to tell me that he made his appointment on Monday, and his leg was amputated.  He had been in the hospital in recovery from the complications of surgery.  “You need anything Rodney?”  I asked urgently.  “No”, Rodney cheerfully replied.  “I just wanted you that I was alright.  I am going back to Minnesota, and I am never coming back to New Orleans.  I just wanted you to know I am alright”  And with that, he was gone.

I think of my friend often, and I think of how thankful I am that God gives us friends that will forever change our lives.

 

I am alright too,

Dr. j

 

March 18

Dear Church Family;

It was a recent foggy, rainy morning in Jennings.  I had cooked Jordan breakfast and sent him off to school.  Now it was my turn. Fried egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel bun.  Yum!  It was a good one.  I had taken one bite.  The cheese was melted to perfection. The yellow was hard, but not too hard.  The edges of the egg were crispy, just right. I wanted to finish eating right there, but it was time for me to leave to go to an early appointment.  No worries, I will just take this beautiful eggcheesebagel sandwich with me and eat it in the truck.

 

As I was putting my briefcase in the back seat, tragedy struck.  The plastic plate holding my eggcheesebagel…..cracked!!!  AArrgghh!!  Down, down down, went my eggcheesebagel.  Splat.  In the mud.  Aarrgghh!!!  I seriously considered the five second rule, but the mud, the glorious mud, kept that from being my option.  In about 100 miles of thought, all sorts of frustrating, complaining ideas flashed and started, (I said started) to rush through my head.  I mean, I deserved that eggcheesebagel, and since it was taken away from me, and, and no one was watching, I figured that a pitty party/complaint session was in order.

 

But then I heard a voice in my spirit.  It was God.  And He said, “Don’t you dare throw a fit!” Ooooo!  He began to flash before my mind thoughts of hungry people all over the world that had no eggcheesebagel this morning.  He flashed across my mind people who would gladly pick up that food from the mud.  He flashed across my mind all the goodness that He has provided for me, just because.  “Don’t you dare throw a fit this morning!”  You know, when God speaks, He makes a very compelling argument for doing what He says.  So, I picked up my mess, and went on with my day.  I was so glad God kept me from sinning, and complaining, over a lost eggcheesebagel.

 

Thank you Lord,

Dr. j

Dear Church Family:

 

When I was a young boy growing up in Houston Texas, my dad worked at the Goodyear Tire Store.  He was the manager.  And because I was his son, I got special privileges around closing time.  We would go pick dad up at the store, and get to run up and down the tire racks.  (nobody could tell us to stop, cause after all, I was the manager’s son)  After many years of working at the tire store, and after getting a little bored with running the racks, my dad was offered a promotion that would cause him to travel all over Texas.  He was offered a significant raise in pay, but it meant long weeks away from his family.  So, my dad quit that job.  He was confident that he could find other work, and for a while he attempted to re-route his career to being a stock broker.  He went to stock broker school, and we waited for dad to “go back to work”.  Finally, he started being a stock broker, and then the stock market bottomed out, and that job became a bust.  By that time, we were counting change in the seat cushions.  Things were tough.

 

One day, my dad was out looking for a job, and at the end of the day, when he arrived home, he didn’t have a job, but he did have an unusual package.  My dad hauled a 100 lb sack of rice into the house.  (100 pounds is a lot of rice).  He told the story, that he was driving down the road, when a rice delivery truck in front of him, hit a pothole, and this sack of rice fell off the truck.  My dad, being a good dad, stopped to get the bag of rice and bring it back to the driver.

 

Well, by the time he hauled that 100 pound sack of rice into his Rambler Car, the truck driver was gone.  Soooo, my dad brought the rice home.  (you remember that story of the manna from heaven?)  Well, we had our manna, and mom proceeded to serve rice at every meal.  We ate rice with everything, and that rice sustained us for a lot of meals, while dad continued to look for work.  God provided for our need!!!

 

When God provides:

  1.  He reminds us that he cares
  2. He sometimes uses circumstances
  3. He intends to always use others to help
  4. We are able to understand the heart of God in a more tangible way

Thanks for serving ,

Dr. j

White as Snow

My family and I just finished a vacation in the mountains of Colorado, where the beauty of the Creator God is on display.  From the white-capped mountains, to the white-flocked trees, and the layers and layers of perfectly white snow covering everything, the refrain of Jesus Paid It All was on repeat in my heart and mind.

“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow…”

Outside of the beauty of white, there was frequently brown snow, mostly where the dirt and grim of the road was pushed aside from snow plows.  The white snow was stained with the dirt, rocks and debris now marred, unclean, and of no value. Apart from the brown, we occasional saw a little yellow snow too. 

But one of the most interesting thoughts I had on this trip, happened while driving into the mountains.  As we begin our ascent up the mountain, we begin to see cars coming in our direction covered with snow.  I looked at my wife, Sarah, and said “You can tell these cars have been in the mountain.”  And almost instantly Acts 4:13 popped into my head.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13

You see Peter and John were so bold about speaking about Christ, that it was evident to those around them that they had been with Jesus. As simple, uneducated men, they sounded, looked, talked, acted, dressed, and smelled like Jesus.  The leaders who persecuted Jesus, recognized it right away.

And then think back to Moses.  Moses spent so much time with God, that his face literally glowed.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. – Exodus 34:29

For Moses, the more time he spent with God, the longer and brighter his face shined.  And as Moses spent less time with God, and more time with the people, the glory (or brightness) began to fade.  In the same way, some cars we saw had a lot of snow, some very little, and some none at all.  You can tell from their appearance if they were in the mountains, and for how long.

Our relationship with Christ is the same way and should be evident the same way.  Others around us should recognize that we have been with God.  Our face (or attitude) should be so evident of Christ, that when others see us they have to hide their face because it is so over powering.  For Moses, God’s glory faded because it was just temporary, but today we have the unending, never-fading, everlasting glory of God manifested in the Holy Spirit that actually lives within us.  The same power and glory of God, shining on the face of Moses, and evident in thoughts and actions of Peter and John, is the very same God who takes resident in our hearts.

As I reflect on this idea, this magnificent blessing God has given me, I can’t help but be reminded that:

  • The power and glory must come from God – it’s not my own
  • My life should be centered on spending time with God in prayer, communication, and daily living
  • My actions and lifestyle should reflect Christ, not my own agenda

Finally, I’m reminded of the red-lettered words of Christ:

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 15:35

As we start out another new year, my prayer for you and I is that we pursue Christ with everything in us.  We must spend time with God in prayer, listening, and daily reading scripture.  And our lives must be evident of Christ, that people will know we have been with Him.  Our faces will shine.  “ALL people will KNOW you are MY DISCIPLES, because of your LOVE  for another.”

Students as Leaders

Students today are not children finishing childhood.  They are young adults preparing for a real world.  We see many examples of this in Scripture.  Over and over we read how young people did remarkable things for God and His kingdom.  Students today are not the church of tomorrow as much as they are the church of now, alongside adults, fulfilling the work of the ministry of Jesus Christ.

  • Joseph – was victimized by his own brothers, sold into slavery, and abandoned. Yet as youth in difficult circumstances determined to serve God, became second in command of all of Egypt.  He becomes critical to the redemption of God’s chosen people and remains central to the mission of God.
  • Miram – risked her life to look after her brother Moses.
  • Samuel – heard the voice of God when His voice was rare
  • David – as a teenager kills Goliath
  • Josiah – stood for God and ended idolatry and witnessed a revival
  • Daniel – stood valiantly for God despite the circumstances
  • Esther – risked her life for her people
  • Mary – teenager saying yes to God to be used to deliver His Son to the world
  • Timothy – led the church following Paul’s footsteps

We cannot understand the amazing gospel, the great narrative of Scripture detailing the mission of God, without the role of young people in critical times.  When we read the Bible, we can easily see that God often used youth to fulfill his purpose.  And because God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can know that He still uses young people.

Students today want less to do with institutional programs and religious rituals and more to do with personal relationship and social injustices.  In the movement of Christianity, we must clearly speak truth and find a vision for living in light of that truth.  When the gospel has been at the center of the faith of believers, Christianity can become such a force.  We must also take care to not become so involved in the movement itself, but become overly involved with the Master of the movement.

It’s about Christ, not our preferences.  Worshiping God, not a style of music.  Showing and telling others the gospel, not our political or philosophical views.

People like you and me are the kind of people God wants to use in His movement.  Are you taking part?

Philippians 4:13 – “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

God’s Love for the Lost

Out of the millions of different ways God could have chosen to tell the world about His love, He chose you and I.  He designed us to tell a story. In fact, He designed all of creation to tell a story.  And that story, as a believer, should always point back to Him.

As I prepared for the series Jonah and the City, I am reminded that we as disciples are called to be on mission everywhere we go.  God’s love isn’t just for believers.  God’s love is for all. It’s for the person who cut you off this morning on your drive to work.  It’s for the drunkard walking into the bar tonight.  It’s for the single teenage mother going to night classes.  It’s for the conservative.  It’s for the liberal.  It’s for our friends. It’s for our enemies.

You have been given a divine appointment, God-created opportunity, to tell others about His love.  Exactly who you are and exactly where you are in your life, God wants to use you to spread the Gospel message of Christ.  As we learn from Paul, speaking to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-2, (paraphrased): Timothy, all that you have heard and seen from me, show and teach others who will show and teach others, who will continue the legacy.

This is the multiplication method of discipleship that Jesus taught.  Make disciples who make disciples.  Our compassion for the others, including the lost should be imitating the compassion our Father has for His creation.  And what better story to know about God’s compassion than the story of Jonah.