Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Leather Face Man

On my way to visit a fellow Youth Pastor this morning I was red lighted at the corner of 720 and Custer. On my left a young lady in a silver V.W. Cabriosomething was busily putting on her make-up, radio blasting, talking on her cell. On my right an older leather faced man smoking a cigarette in an 1980 something pick 'em up truck. A Philippino sitting in-between. I couldn't help but notice the leather faced man. He had that look of wisdom, peace, solace and life experience written in every crack of his deep tanned face.
I turned back to look at the Volkswagen woman carrying about her many tasks. The journey before her. The thrill of life, the unknown, the excitement at every corner apparent in her soul. Leather faced man's demeanor never changed.
At that moment I realized how God works in various stages of our lives - from cradle to grave. It made me wonder when I pull into an intersection and people stair my direction, what do they see? Anger, peace, frustration, solace or is God apparent? Is my faith obvious? I pulled away from the corner of 720 and Custer aware of God, the thrill of life, the unknown, the excitement at every corner. Yet, I want the wisdom, peace, solace and life experience written on my face. Somewhere between a V.W. Cabriosomething and a pick 'em up truck sat a Philippino wondering what message he will leave on planet earth today. What about you? What message will do you leave?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Maybe... Not So Much...

whoa, i figured out my password. has it really been since the last week of November. evan put my blog on the CPR list - heh, heh, heh...

since we last spoke our church finally broke ground

one of my adult workers gave birth

i got a different hair do

wen't skiing in steamboat, colorado with the students

speaking of images. last thursday, while in steamboat, colorado, we turned on the the Today Show to hear Matt Lauer discuss "Cheerleaders Gone Wild." we looked at each other with that "no way! you've got to be kidding" look. right there on t.v. we saw the (former) principal of McKinney, North getting into her brand new Hummer. but we want talk about the 70k+ payoff the school gave her to go away.

one picture, 5 cheerleaders, and the media has given McKinney an image of not so appealing persona. on th flight back to Texas i sat next to a stranger. in our conversation i mentioned i was a youth pastor in McKinney, her next comment was,"O! is that the town with the cheerleaders..." i turned to look over at one of my students who was laughing...

i started thinking about this whole image thing... what image does my faith, my christianity, my relationship with Jesus leave on those i come in contact.

a trace - i think tracer bullets are simply amazing. you fire it from your gun and you can see the direction it went and the point of impact. if only my faith were that obvious.

residue - a smeer, an obvious mark or stain, if only my commitment to Christ was that impactful.

image - St. Paul tells us to not be of this world but to be in it. the compromise: be in it for Christ that his image is known, a trace of where we've been and where we are going is obvious, his residue of compassion stains this world...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

9 Cups Later

cafe' brazil. hands down my favorite new restaurant in mckinney. food is excellent. coffee keeps flowing and the staff is mucho excillante'. one gentleman is totally cracking me up! here's the routine. walk to the coffee bar, grab a new cup, fill it up slightly, walk all the way back to his seat, take a few sips, discards drink, puts used cup on a dirty table, goes back up to bar, grabs new flavor, repeat process. he’s elderly so you can imagine the snail pace and the eternal hike it takes him to get from point "a" to point "b." i laugh. yet, i mourn knowing ill be there one day.
speaking of mourning prayers for evan and erin during this time of loss.
loss? yea, Jesus was a loser (according to this world) as my friend matt neely says, "losers win." man i can scream "loser" and mean it. so we did a screamo song last night to talk about the history of emo music, to relationships, to passionate relationships. you can't screamo a song without meaning it! so i scream "remember to breathe...” then i loop it back around to my first kiss. how sloppy an affair that was, how embarrassing, and why the heck did i do that anyway, thanks high school friends for creating an invisible time table in how far i was to go with my girlfriend! so i repeat the words of my former youth director Paul, "ed, you are the future husband of some beautiful bride God has designed for you. likewise, your wife is out there floating around this universe just waiting to meet you. respect her by respecting your body. likewise you should expect her to respect herself by respecting her body. in doing so we honor God." i finally shared one of the only kissing stories in the new testament: judas, you know it. through all these loops i jumped through the kids got it!!! man did they get it.
victory stories: "i have been really wrestling about sleeping with my boyfriend." "i get so worked over the kissing thing. maybe God is working me up to share this passion with my husband." "i've kissed a lot of people ed, but the next person i kiss will be my wife."
o.k. i wasn't telling these kids they shouldn't ever kiss someone. i told them they needed to create their boundaries.
so this kissing thing. my last youth group was so close with each other they actually practiced the catholic thing, which is actually rooted in the early new testament church, passing the peace through a kiss on the cheek. it wasn't a weird thing for them. they really were just that close. they truly lived on the edge that this might be the last time we meet. they knew this story too well. in my interim at that church we had 1 student drown during a youth trip, we had 1 student die in a car accident, we had 1 of the aggies in the bonfire collapse pass away... yea the group was familiar with death, which made them appreciate life that-much-more.
now im not suggesting that we promote kissing in our youth programs but you get the picture.
it still blows me away that judas betrayed our master through a kiss. what the heck must have been going through his head as he walked the religious leaders and roman soldiers to that valley? did judas plan the kiss of betrayal? what it must have been like to have to approach your master, smell him again for the last time, come that close to his face. did he whisper, "i'm sorry" in Jesus ear right before he kissed him? did he say, "i win?" i need to duct-tape my brain on this issue.
likewise, when a husband and wife share that kiss on the alter of their marriage? does 55% of them say, "this is temporary" because i can always "kiss another" if this marriage becomes inconvenient? did Jesus become inconvenient for judas?
a kiss is a very passionate thing not to be shared, as one my kids screamed last night in the middle of my sermon, "there's nothing funny about any of this guys."

so the coffee is brewing, i mix all 9 flavors together just because i'm like that. hmm maybe i'll just get 9 different cups put them on my table and randomly pick a cup. maybe ill start a new trend here at brazil's. maybe the staff will kill me here!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Frustraiting Peace

i've had no peace since my return from juarez, mexico. i found myself driving 98 m.p.h. today, hand out the window flying my hand plane, "slow down cowboy!" my appetite has change, bug maybe? scheduling is out the waazoooeeeeee! 30 minutes early to a meeting yesturday, court case canceled today, rushed to a "maybe-not-so-much" video and church seminar today. most of things are out of my control. yet, when asked in Juarez, "how are you really" my inner chest truly whispers, "content" and yes i meant it.

content is not my friend. i can't stop thinking about the injustice in mexico. the lack of water issues. the corruption. our abundance. their nothingness, except hope. our client spoke broken english and told us, "for 6 months my wife has been doing everything to get us a house. she's worked through the government, private companies, her job, etc. and nothing. 3 days ago Jose' Luis showed up, then all of you showed up, now we have a house. i kept telling my wife to have hope." i don't think their was a dry eye in our crowd of 66.

last wednesday night i asked a student in my small group, "so what do you think the bare necessities of life are" his first comment was "the interent!" i land in mexico a day later, wow talk about emerging life perspective! we scream for the interwebthingy and they want clothes, education (which are one in the same thing - you have to be able to afford the 350.00 uniform in order to go to public school), shelter and food. yes in that order. all of those things we have as "our right as americans" including the interwebthingy.

so when i told the border agent, "citizen of the united states!" it meant something deeper than words can grasp. so i drive 98 down the freeway, my hand out the widow - grasping for air, eat my half sandwich, pocket it for later, complain about my overly booked schedule and pray for justice.

my hands will again be on those bricks in juarez fighting poverty, showing the mercy of Christ and fighting my inner battle. maybe content and peace can come in the form of frustration. so ironical... thanks God!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Heads congested, drugs aren’t working, going to Mexico in 6 hours, maybe not, youth tonight, ummm anyone got an idea for baptism? What do you do when you have a group that is mixed with Catholics, Baptist, Lutherans, Methodist, non-believers, atheist etc… I love the fact that our group is not all the same – yet it’s all the same water.
Flood stories exist in every culture i.e. the Gilgamesh Epic. My Prof. in college tried to disprove the existence of God because the Hebrew people used this story from the Mesopotamians. Umm yea whatever… …What this does tell me is that there must have been one heck of a wave that took out thousands and thousands of people. A wave so huge that cultures around the earth recorded it into history. The people of God in early Jewish History saw this as God’s hand at work. David Crowder, likewise states, “majesty, finally here…” Jars of Clay states, “rain, rain on my face…” No matter how we look at water can be deathly refreshing.
This is a paradox that is hard to put into words. But it goes something like this. Every wave (of God) that comes into my life effects me in 3 ways: a). sensing the presence, reality of God. b). washing out a previous thought, feeling, perception etc… c). washing in a new understanding of God’s Godness. All at once part of me dies; part of me is born again, part of just praises God.
I think this is what Crowder was tapping in on when he wrote “Here is our King.” It’s an incredible paradox that can’t be explained, yet we try. Hmmm…. I think I found my Baptism story for tonight.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BOO !!!

ok so my dog hates alarm clocks!!! when he was a young mutt, i would play this game i called turtle. i hid under the covers not moving, breathing as shallow as possible. it would drive him nuts. he would try to figure out where i went so he would pounce all over the sheets to find me. i would start laughing, picking him up, inevitably a tug of war would ensue wherein i would hide and he would try to unveil what’s behind the sheets. BOO!!!

we've all played this game. i saw a father at an airport playing the game with his little boy. it was a much simpler game. the baby sat across from him. he would cover up his face and say, "where's baby..." removing his hands and unveiling his face "...there he is!" the baby chuckled. Boo!!!

searching for the weather report for this weekend's retreat, a news reporter reported on a Church that is providing an "alternative to Halloween." my first gut reaction was "blah-puke!" the reporter interviewed a clergy person who stated something on the line, "we invite everyone to our church. we will be handing out candy and tracks..." ("what?" "uh-oh" my brain screamed! tracks? tracks? "track-or-treat" - heh, heh, heh...). what shocked me most was when the clergy person stated, "...Halloween, as we know it today is evil!" "Ahhhhh! I threw my remote at the T.V."

ok when i hear the word evil! my first gut reaction is "fear." Jesus reminds me that, "where there is love there is no fear." Halloween evil not! google it yourself.

is it out of fear we create, "Alternatives to Halloween?" we create programs based off of fear: Christian Sex Ed., Christian New Years Eve Celebrations, etc... been there, done that, guilty as charged! fear based programming sounds like a book that Oestreicher should write! (Speaking of Mark, 2 of my C.D.s from NYWC Austin don't work - arghhhhhh!!!!) maybe a good title to the book could be, "Boo Based Programming: Youth Ministry Fighting the Culture War!"

o.k. so back to my dog earlier this morning. my alarm clock went off and went off and went off - which is very untypical of me. i am usually up by 5:30 doing my God thing. but God was all in my ear this morning. a ton of prayer concerns: pregnant youth workers, struggling sunday school teachers, mothers with cancer, new worship service, lack of volunteer for retreat, finances, juarez mission trip, etc... so God continued to pray through me. it was cold so pulled the sheets over my head. after about 20 minutes of my alarm clock going off my dog finally had it. he came bursting into my room pouncing on the sheets (uh oh! the game of turtle has come back to haunt me!) BOO!!! he succeeded in pulling the sheets off of me, unveiling the reality that i can't lay in bed all day!!!

unveiling, BOO! Halloween sheets overhead, hands behind faces, a mask...

this morning i read, "in the Christian life, discipline is the human effort to unveil what has been covered, to bring to the foreground what has been hidden, and to put up a lamp stand what has been kept under a basket" (pg. 110, Presence-Centered Youth Ministry, Mike King). Boo!!!

maybe this Halloween i'll dress up as a candle, a lamp, a flashlight, or Q-Beam! Heck-ya! Q-Beam! maybe we need to not invite people into the four doors of our church providing "alternatives to Halloween" but maybe do the Jesus thing, and go out to the world... ...and see how God unveils himself through relationships, relationships that are often masked - BOO! relationships where we want to berry our face into our hands - Boo! relationships that we hide from God - Boo! maybe this Halloween should be the most terrifying event in our lives. maybe we should get out of our comfort zone (church, youth group, bible groups, sunday school classes, and all the rest...) and allow God to provide His Q-Beam to those that are still living veiled lives - including me!

Monday, October 30, 2006


Good Times... Good Times...

Reading a book from NYWC, Listening to Crowder, watching Dallas thump the Panthers I was reminded their was a cRoWdEr video I've been meaning to edit. So whats up with Texas football teams letting prepubescent boys run their team? Colton McCoy at Texas and Romo at Dallas. O! Well! Both had a rough start during their first game but both had significant improvements in their second.

O.K. so I am loving this video editing thing. It's also nice not having the interwebnet thingy at the homestead. Gives me more time with books and God. Speaking of Rachel S. had a great quote I am going to plaster on a shirt,

"So much God, so little time..."

So last week went a little something like this: snipers on the Church roof (don't ask), meeting with new adult volunteer, volleyball games, band practice, new worship planning, hunting, finalize sermon notes, room set up with Cameron, candles, candles, candles, football game, Dunns w/ Evan, finalize sermon points, Cameron, final sound check, Wed. night Prayer Service, 2007 Staff Planning meeting, Conor back in town, upload 200 pics from mission trip, set up for mission auction, Lauren's til 1 a.m., great conversations with transforming Freshman, Cafe Brazil with Cameron and Conor, trip to music store, finalize Sky Ranch trip, MNHS Homecoming Football game, GO QUEEN HOLLY S. I love you, hunting - simply amazing to sit in the woods, OSU vs Neb. what a game, USC lost to the Holy Quackers - go ducks, mission auction, UT beat Tech., drop the clock an hour, Sunday!!! student leadership meeting, Juarez Mission Trip Meeting, da' Boys...

I've adopted the Jose Luis life view where everything merges together, and where I can truly say, as Paul stated in Philippians 4:1, "My dear brothers and sisters, I love you and want to see you. You bring me joy and make me proud of you, so stand strong in the Lord as I have told you!" Go Fillipino's (Yes, I know its not the same people but what the hey!)

As cRoWdEr says, "how could you be so good?" I know its a God thing!