Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Be sure if you're still following...

To go to ministerlane.wordpress.com for my new blog.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Times, they are a changin...

As I stated in my last blog entry, I am changing my blog address, and host as well. My new blog address is


Please make the necessary changes in your links/community on blogs that link to mine. For everyone else, goodbye from the youth minister world, and welcome to my new life.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Blog...

For a while now, I've been posting on this blog. The web address - www.youthministerlane.blogspot.com, is not quite relevant anymore. I no longer serve as a youth minister. In the next few days, I plan on re-working a new blog, that will be available from this blog, but in the next few days, youthministerlane.blogspot.com will no longer be updated, in theory.

I have started a new site over at tumblr.com, which to me is more my style for now. Its sort of like "Twitter" on steroids. Everything I post there is immediately uploaded to my Facebook page, as well as my Twitter feed, and everything I post on my Twitter feed is immediately put on my Tumblr page.

However, I will be starting a new "blog" as well, just be patient (not like I have that many readers anyway). I will post the new blog on here soon, but for now, you can link to my Tumblr page on the right at "Lane's World", or you can go to lanesworld.tumblr.com and see what that is all about.

A Total Numbers Game: Membership in the Church of Christ

I've been involved with churches that were big, and involved with churches that were small. The first church I worked for averaged about 180 members on Sunday morning for their worship service. Compare that to the church I attended when I graduated from high school, and where my father currently serves as a minister, which now has about 700 members.

One of my best friends and fellow minister, Jason, works for a congregation in Alabama that has well over 2000 members. The church I attended for the longest time from about 1st grade till around 10th grade only had around 35 in attendance.

Seemingly, according to Mac Lynn's 2006 book "Churches of Christ in the United States", it seems as if the majority of the congregations in the United States have anywhere from 50 to 199 members. If you were to take an average, the churches of Christ average about 97-100 members per congregation.

I have to be honest, I hate numbers. I've hated numbers for a long time. It started with Algebra 1 in 9th grade. I had a horrible teacher who cared more about flirting with the athletes in the class instead of teaching us math. Ever since then, I gave up on numbers.

When I was in youth ministry, there was always a double standard for numbers. I needed to grow the amount of people in the youth group, but it was okay for the church to stay the same size. If we weren't bringing in more teenagers to the youth group class, then I must be a lousy minister. That equation, sadly, is the equation that so many ministers must live up to.

Now I work for a church that is "struggling" with an average attendance of 160 or so. Of course, according to the studies of the church, this is an average, or better than average size for a congregation. Since I have moved here, I finally seem to have figured something out. No matter how large the church is in numbers, if you don't have love, it means nothing.

Sure, 2000 members singing in harmony together during a worship service sounds wonderful, but so do 75 members.

You may have the best and most educated ministers in the few 1000+ member congregations, but the churches of 200 members have ministers who put a whole lot of time into their work as well.

Most importantly, I feel as if when we pressure people to become members, they run. And if they run, more than likely they are just running away completely, and not to another congregation. When we throw a membership card in their face as they walk in the door, they're naturally going to think that we're just like every other venue in their lives.

Get to know them. Talk with them. If they want to give you their contact info, they will based upon desire to get to know your church better.

Have cards for them to take that have contact info for your church, service times, activities, etc. If they give you permission to call them or email them, great! If not, let them make the next move.

If you have done all you can as a church, they will want to come back. If the church was not friendly, clean, inviting, prepared, organized, welcome...no amount of cards, visiting or free cookies will get them back into the church.

We don't want the church to sound needy. When a church sounds needy by saying things such as "We really need you to be a member" or "Our church sure could use another servant", it comes across as needy. Instead, offer to do something for them, instead of trying to sign them up for the Benevolence Committee on their first visit. See what you can do for them, or if they have any questions.

The truth of the matter is, God did wonders throughout the world with Jesus and his 12 disciples. If I'm doing the math correct, 12 < the average number of members in the Church today.

I hate numbers. I always have, and I always will. The only number that matters is that there is ONE God, ONE Savior, and ONE Hope. Let's just do our best to show everyone who comes through that door, or everyone we come in contact with, or everyone we see on a daily basis, that Jesus Christ loves them and died for them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Moment to Brag

A few days ago I posted some before and after pictures. Yesterday, I went back to Lifetime Fitness to have my fitness re-evaluation. Here are the results:

On May 4, my weight was at 254 pounds. Yesterday, on October 15, I weighed 265 pounds. I know, an 11 pound INCREASE. Stay tuned.

My Cardiovascular measurements went from Very Poor to Poor. Doesn't sound all that good, but it really is better.

My bicep strength went from middle of the average to middle of the good category. Good news.

My flexibility is still horrendous. On the sit and reach, my score was 6 on the first test and 6 on yesterday's test.

The good news: On May 4, my body fat percentage was at 32.2%. Yesterday, my body fat percentage was at 25.7%. That went from the Obese category down to just the overweight category.

My overall fitness went from 29.2% up to 41.7%, which is a positive increase. This puts me from the fair up to the average category.

Earlier, 82 pounds of my body was fat. Yesterday, only 68 pounds of my body was fat. My body age according to my physical data went from 41 down to 37. All in all, a positive day.

And that, is my moment to brag.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Would He Do?

The Parable of the Sea

So true.

So sad.

And yet, most of us do nothing to change this.

Yet we all proclaim to serve the same mighty God.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Getting Fit: 2 Months Later

On July 13, I took my "Before" pictures for the "Before and After Pictures". This is actually a journey I started way back on May 4.

I am somewhat disappointed in my weight. I started out at 254 pounds. Now, I am at 256 pounds. However, I have added a lot of muscle. This week Kristen and I have drastically changed our eating habits. I'm sure that will help a whole lot.

Here are my before and after shots as of October 8, 2009.

I feel my posture has improved greatly. Kristen says that is the best improvement so far.

My gut looks a lot better in this picture.

Latest Update on Claire Lane ** Prayer Request **

Here are the latest two entries from the Lane family:

Posted Oct 5, 2009 3:03pm

Great work, Claire!!! The techs have taken her off of the EEG (monitoring her brain wave activity) because she is showing signs of alertness when her sedation starts wearing off. She has responded to the command: "open your eyes" and "move your finger"... although her response is slow, we have never been so thrilled to see Claire follow directions! We are still very aware that she has likely sustained some degree of brain damage, but we will not know the extent for quite some time. For now, we are just thrilled that she can hear us and respond at all. Her vitals remain stable (with heavy medication regulating them) and she has all but bored the nurses to death, today... which is just the way we want it.

Claire remains in very critical condition and although we are thrilled with every tiny bit of good news we receive, we have to stay "cautiously optimistic" about her condition. Her lungs remain covered with infection (although today's x-ray did show a tiny smudge of darkness at the top!) and she remains on the blood-thinner/life-support/bypass which are keeping her tiny little body alive. She is still fighting for her life...but what a fight she is putting up.

We are looking forward to another day of holding her warm, pudgy hand and reading to her. The fact that we are still here with her, one full week after her heart attack and crisis makes us the luckiest parents alive.

Here's one that had some humor in it:

Posted Oct 6, 2009 9:13am

All stable over night. Vitals remain in good shape. She got a bath and looks nice and smooth. (The hair is another issue, and will require its own rehab therapist). She was suctioned again overnight and they were able to remove more gunk (I think that's the technical term); so we are hoping (cautiously, as always) for a good X-Ray report.

Followed by a very encouraging note:

Posted 23 hours ago

Way to go, Monkey!! Another stable night for Claire, so we got a sweet, warm, soft hand to hold this morning. She is starting to give the doctors and staff a run for their money... she keeps coming off the sedative and tries to move her hands and legs, opens her eyes and attempts to breathe on her own (all good signs to Mom and Dad, but considered misbehaving to the docs since they want her completely still and inactive). They have added medications to keep her mellow (she has become a drug-addict's dream!). Today she opened her eyes on command, and when I asked she moved her little fingers while I was holding her hand, which of course had me in tears...but I'll take tears of joy any moment of the day!
Claire just finished having her lungs cleaned by the respiratory team. They used a video scope to find trouble spots of "gunk" (Scott's technical term), loosen them and then suck them out (I hope you are not eating while you read this!). She handled the treatment very well and will have a follow up x-ray at 1pm. Hopefully, I'll be back on with a good x-ray update this afternoon. We've heard "talk" by her medical team about weaning her off of the life-support machine and onto the ventilator over the course of the week and weekend. Nothing definite, but it seems they are encouraged about her stability and progress this week. The "weaning" process poses a whole new array of obstacles for Claire, but that little fighter has made it this far, so we are confident she is going to forge through this "Claire-style" and make those docs earn their paychecks this week.

We are so proud of our little girl and how strong she has been this week. She continues to amaze us each day.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us through this. All of your thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes are helping us make it through each day and they are helping Claire as she continues to fight for her life.

And finally the most encouraging note so far:

Posted 18 hours ago

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE...Look out, swine flu, here comes Claire Lane! Scott and I got to meet with the docs following Claire's x-ray and we are starting to see visible progress in her right lung. There are now two small sized pockets of air in her right lung, indicating a lack of GUNK in those two areas. This means that her lung has some "vacancy" for volume. Her left lung is still quite full, but there is one small area that is starting to darken - indicating a lack of gunk. She is definitely headed in the right direction, even though she is certainly not out of the woods. We continue to stay "cautiously optimistic" (that's our mantra for right now), but that little monkey is giving us so much hope. She has become our little Super Hero. When she gets out of here, I'm going to add a little red cape to her school uniform! We are so proud of you, Little Claire!!!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Latest Update on Claire Lane**Prayer Request

Many of you have been asking about Claire Lane, the little girl who suffered a heart attack, along with Pneumonia, and has been in the hospital for a while now. I just got word this morning that at some point during all of this pain and suffering, that she has also had a stroke.

The doctors have put her on an ECMO machine, which basically breathes for her by bypassing her lungs. Lali, Claire's mother, is in the best spirits as possible, understanding now that even if she does get to take her child home, that she won't be the same little girl due to the stroke.

The family is asking for prayers of comfort at this time. Pray that Claire will have the comfort and peace that only God can provide.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The BEST Concert I've Ever Been to....

About 4 years ago, when I was living in Memphis, Kristen and I went to see a Third Day concert. My good friend Jason Bybee and his wife Sunny happened to be visiting that weekend, so we all went together.

My wife and I were stoked about seeing Third Day, and as usual, we were prepared to sit through an opening act to get to the main show. The opening act was an up and coming worship band known as the David Crowder Band. I have to admit, I wasn't really looking forward to it, but Jason had heard them, and burned me a cd of some of their tunes to listen to ahead of time.

When David Crowder and his band walked out on the stage and began to play, I was blown away. Not only were they very obviously talented in their musical abilities, but their lyrics were so powerful.

When they were done, I wanted more. All through the Third Day concert, I kept on thinking about how awesome David Crowder had been. About two years ago, while living in Alabama, Jason and I drove down to Samford University in Birmingham to hear them perform again, in a small venue, and just them. They weren't opening up for anyone, they just did their own little show.

On Saturday night, Kristen and I went to hear David Crowder on the third stop of their "Church Music" tour. After sitting through two decent opening acts (Seabird and Danyew), out came the David Crowder Band. The first thing I noticed was the attire in which they appeared. Since it was the "Church Music" tour, they were decked out in Sunday best. David Crowder was wearing a full suit, including a vest. All the band members were wearing a suit, except the drummer, who was minus the suit coat.

They've come a long way, from opening act, to small venue, to a 12,000 seat auditorium on their own tour. Its been fun watching them grow. This concert featured the best of their new album, and great classics that they are known for. Their drummer even built a robotic drum set. It was actual drum set, with sticks connected to various electronic components, to add extra depth to the rhythm. This newest album of theirs features a whole lot more "hard" rock, mixed in with a slight bit of disco/techno as well.

Here are some pictures, not very good, but the best I could get since it was rather dark:

Friday, October 02, 2009

*UPDATE* Urgent prayer request *UPDATE*

Many of you have asked about an update on Claire Lane, the little girl who is in the hospital from Pneumonia. The outpouring of support for a total stranger amongst Christian friends has been wonderful! Here is the latest, and how you can help (non-monetary help):

October 2, 2009

Dear Friends:

We give thanks to God that Claire continues to be stable in her condition. However, she is still a very sick little girl, and we ask for your continued prayers.

Some of you have been asking how to show your support to the Lane family. There are three ways:

1.) Visit www.carepages.com, create an account that you can sign onto, search to her webpage, and send a message to her and her family. At that site you will also be able to read updates from Scott and Lali about Claire's condition and progress. After you visit the site and set up your account, cut and paste this link into your browser: CLAIRE LANE

2.) Visit the Texas Children's hospital website at www.texaschildrens.org. Under the "Quicklinks" menu you'll find a link to "Send a patient greeting." Follow the direction and you'll produce a postcard that the TCH staff will deliver to Lali and Scott who will read it to Claire.

3.) Visitors to the PICU Waiting Room (Texas Children's Hospital, Floor Three) are now welcome. Of course, no one will be permitted to visit Claire, but Scott or Lali would be happy to see you. However, it is critical that all visitors to the PICU be completely symptom-free of any illness. If you are sneezing, coughing, have a headache, or even think you might be sick, please do not come. It would be very disappointing for someone to get Scott or Lali sick and, in so doing, prevent them from seeing their little girl.

Finally, please keep Claire, Olivia, Lali, and Scott in your prayers. We will be remembering them all at the altar this Sunday morning, and all are welcome to join us in prayer for them. But no matter where you are, whether in a church or elsewhere, please keep the Lane family in your prayers. The family appreciates this support, and it is doing more good for everyone concerned than we can imagine.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Urgent prayer request

Oftentimes, we find ourselves asked to pray for someone we've never met. That happened to me today, and this one particularly touched my heart. The second grade teacher of one of the children of a family in our church has a pressing issue that is very serious.

I just don't know how I would respond if this was concerning my precious daughter. Please read, and then please pray.

I got the following email this morning:


Could you add this to tonight prayer request? Adam's second grade teacher from last year is having a very difficult time with her daughter. I would love to get the word out! Terry and I are so sad for this family.

Family and Friends,
I am sending out this email to everyone on my email list imploring you to pray for a little girl named Claire Lane. Claire, her big sister, Olivia, and their parents are in for the fight of their lives right now. Here is her story:

Claire was diagnosed with the flu this past Saturday (9/26/09). She was taken back to the doctor yesterday and was admitted to Texas Children's because xrays showed full blown pneumonia in one of her lungs. Her lung collapsed, and last night, sweet Claire suffered a heart attack. BOTH of her lungs are filled with fluid and she is on a vent to keep her breathing. As I write this, I have learned that the doctors are preparing to do another procedure to attempt to drain her lungs. Her parents have been told that if her body does not start fighting the infection, she has less than a 5% chance of survival.

Please pray for this God-loving, people loving, sweet family. The Lanes are a wonderful family and have touched many lives, including mine. As a mother, I cannot imagine how Lali must be feeling to see her baby girl suffer so.

Please stop what you are doing and lift Claire Lane up to the Lord. Please ask Him to restore Claire to health, to bring strength and clarity of thought to her parents and sister.

I believe in a merciful, loving God, and I believe in the power of prayer. Please pass this on so that He can hear our prayers for Claire.

Thank you and may you be blessed, -- Jill

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oh, Happiness

I think this may be my new theme song. This is off of the new David Crowder Band album "Church Music". We don't talk about grace enough. This song reminds me that grace is there, its free, and its for everyone.

When I listen to this song, I feel like it should be the song playing as we all enter into Heaven, kind of like the song that plays with the end credits of a really good movie.

Read the lyrics below:

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us
And the whole human race

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us
And the whole human race

From the full streams
Of Your care
All who come
Begin again
Hard or friend
Rich or poor
All who need
Need fear no more
Such a thing to give away

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us
And the whole human race

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us
And the whole human race

All regrets
Let go, forget
There's something that
Mends all of that
Such a thing to give away

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us
And the whole human race

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us
And the whole human race

Sound the church bells
Let 'em ring
Let 'em ring
For everything can be redeemed
We can be redeemed
All of us

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us
And the whole human race

Oh, happiness
There is grace enough for us
And the whole human race

Monday, September 21, 2009

Life Groups and Lasagna

Last night, Life groups began meeting again for the school year at the West University Church of Christ. Our Life Group consisted of 8 adults and 4 children under the age of 16 months. It was WONDERFUL. We enjoyed having everyone over to our home, and enjoyed the discussion based on our sermon that morning.

I have been tasked with being in charge of our Life Groups as one of the many areas of my ministry. This is my first endeavor into leading Life Groups as a whole. We have 5 groups in our church, and one of them is an experimental group that is basically outreach only in nature.

If you would like to get a copy of our Life Group study guides, I prepare them weekly and then stick them on our website at www.westuchurch.com, and they are located weekly on the home page under "News and Events" You can get to this week's by going HERE.

Last night, after our Life Group met and discussed and prayed, we had a meal of Lasagna prepared by my wonderful wife. While eating, I looked over at Josie (who was also enjoying a meal of Lasagna), and just had to take this picture:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tears Still Fall...

It has been 8 years.

I was about to step into my third period class during the first year out of college in my teaching career. The sixth grade students entering into the classroom had no clue what had just happened. How was I supposed to handle this? How was I going to tell these students that our nation, America, land of the free, was under attack.

No one had any clue whether or not there would be more attacks. The day continues to haunt me, and so many others.

40 dead in Pennsylvania in a flight that never made it to its final terrorizing destination.

184 dead at the Pentagon, a building that is massive beyond imagination, with a memorial that is moving to the heart.

2752 dead in New York City at "Ground Zero", where people fled a city reflective of a "B" grade monster movie. It was a nightmare coming alive.

This morning, as I sit and watch coverage of the memorials taking place at these three sites, tears still fall.

I did not know any of the ones who fell dead that day. I did not know anyone directly affected by the attacks. I just listen to the words of the family members today, and ache for them. My soul sits inside of me and shudders as each of the names of the fallen is read.

May we see, during this time of great divide in our nation, that we are strongest when we are brought together. May we put aside the partisan politics and quit arguing over so many petty things, and be joined together, not only today, but for all time.

This is the greatest country in the world. We have survived so much at our tender young age, and God has continued to bless us. May we turn back to Him, and once again be "One nation, under God".

God bless the families, friends, and co-workers of all those affected by this day 8 years ago.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Saving in September: Turning Over a New Leaf

I'm so wasteful.

Then again, most American's tend to be rather wasteful. My problem with waste often seems to relate to buying food. My eyes have always been bigger than my stomach. However, I am wasteful in other area's as well.

I have for a long time been a Dave Ramsey fan. He simply teaches that you should live below your means, not accrue debt, and if you have it to pay it off as soon as you can.

Living that way, my wife and I are proud to say we haven't had a car payment in about 4 years. We paid off her student loans about 3 years ago. My student loans are a bit larger, however (gotta love going into debt to get a degree to work in a church) and we have not tackled them like we should.

In fact, when we first got married, we made a decent salary, and bought a whole lot of crap. We went out to eat a lot, we bought a lot of clothes, toys, etc that we didn't need. We probably could have paid off my student loans with all the playing we did with the money we made.

So we refer to that as our "stupid tax", and are trying to remedy that now. Our goal is to try to pay off my student loans by the time the new year rolls around, but realistically it will probably be around March of next year. That means we will be living below our means, living on less than we make, and throwing a big chunk of our income towards that debt.

So here's a few things we're going to stick with in September:
1. A budget. We've had a budget for 6 years now, but we've never really stuck with it, rather, we've used it as a guideline.

2. Cash. We don't have credit cards. We never have, and hopefully we never will. I don't have a problem with other people having credit cards, I just know that we would probably buy a lot more with them if we had them. We do use our Debit cards a lot, and I've realized we spend a lot more when we do. We don't even think about it, we just get stuff and pay for it with a piece of plastic. We are going to use the envelope system, and we're going to make it work.

3. Eating out is reserved for Sundays, and maybe Wednesdays. Sundays are hard for us to make it back to the house, plus, we enjoy hanging out with our new friends. I have had a bad habit of going out to eat for lunch A LOT. Its just so easy, but it also kills the wallet and the waist line.

4. Water. When we do go out, Kristen is real good about getting water. I, however, always tend to get a drink of some sort. A soft drink at most restaurants costs between $1.50 and 2.50, and I never look to see how much it costs, I just get one.

5. Brown bagging the lunch thing.

I know that this will be hard, because we've been somewhat wasteful when it comes to our money. After I sat down and crunched some numbers, I was floored as to how much money we spent eating out, and wasting money on things we don't need. The goal is to pay off the loan, redo our kitchen, and then start paying off the house.

Things will get in the way, and Murphy will move in for a while, but we're going to do our best to act our "wage".

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tweet Tweet and other stuff

Okay, so I caved into peer pressure and joined Twitter. Okay, really no one pressured me into joining. I was curious. For now, I don't see how its much different from Facebook, without all the crap. You give a 160 character update on how things are going.

I am following several celebrities, however, and find that entertaining. Rainn Wilson is a gas.

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, you can go to www.twitter.com/lanewidick and choose to follow me.

I've also been tasked with redoing the website at our church. The guy who used to do it, Ryan McDonald, has a full time job with IT Work at Channel 2 news here in Houston. He did a stellar job setting up the old website and maintaining as often as one could with a full time IT job. If you would like to visit our website and let me know what you think, go to www.westuchurch.com and look around.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

This One's Dedicated to my Big (little) Sister, Mary Anne!!

Ever since I was born, I have had an older sister.

I know, it sounds silly doesn't it? Of course if my sister was already alive, then I've always had an older sister. The point is, I've never known life without her. So, imagine the response I had when my mom and dad called me a few months ago and told me that my sister had breast cancer. My first response in my mind was "How bad is it?", or "How long does she have?", and those questions are probably similar to what most people think when they hear those dreaded words.

My best friend growing up, Jason Bybee, sat at the feet of cancer and felt its tightening grip around the life of his mother and his father. Both passed away before he was ever married, had kids, or even graduated from high school. I was so confused at that time, wondering why his life had been touched by cancer, but my life hadn't been.

So, to hear that my sister had cancer, sent me into a world of emotions I had never felt before. My father had been diagnosed with some skin cancers on his back and shoulder, but those were simply cut out, and he continues to live a normal life. He didn't have to suffer through chemo, surgery, or anything of the sort. When my sister was diagnosed, this was a lot more "real".

Its never easy to hear bad news. I remember about 3 years ago when my mother called me and told me that brother was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack, at the age of 36. We rushed to the hospital to visit with him, and sit with during his open heart surgery.

And the same thing happened when my sister had her surgery. Money was not an object at all. We bought the plane tickets, and combined some time at home with Josie's birthday party. I wanted to be my her side, to let her know that I loved her and was going to do my little part to get her through this.

Since then, I've thought about all the times we've had together. I remember when I was very little, maybe three or four years old, she would play with me. We would do concerts while singing along to our "Disney Sing Along" records in my room. I remember as we got older, how she would play with her Barbie dolls and Strawberry Shortcake dolls, and I had my G.I. Joe men and my A-Team action figures, and we would an imaginary world for them to play in.

As we got even older, I traveled to every single one of her high school chorus performances from 9-12 grade. I watched her in the plays she was in. She was so good to try to include me in as much as she could. Her friends were my friends as well.

When she left to go to college, I remember getting in the old Dodge Caravan and driving down to Freed Hardeman with her. We didn't have a tape player in the van, (way before CD players), and I had brought my battery powered stereo with me. I played a Suzy Boggus song titled "Letting Go" about 4 times on the way down, getting a kick out of watching my mom and dad cry, and my sister sobbing. She always loved being at home, and she loved us.

I also remember after we dropped her off, and we pulled away from the parking lot, I sat there and watched her walk away, and the "tough guy" inside of me went soft, and I started to cry. At that point, I realized that my big sister wasn't going to be one of my best friends anymore, because she was getting older, and a new chapter in her life and in my life began at that moment.

It has broken my heart that I can't be with my sister and see her while she is going through all of what she is enduring. It breaks my heart that she can't see the concern I have for her. Sure, I could call her and email her everyday, but that's not the same. She means the world to me, and as I've seen her attitude throughout this whole situation, it makes me so proud of her.

She is taking it all in stride. She poked fun of me on Facebook this past week, saying that she is starting to look like her younger brother Lane due to the chemo. Most women would shy away from bringing attention to themselves during a process where their hair was falling out, but not my sister. If you'll go to her blog: "A Journey of Hope and Peace" you can read her tales, and how she is keeping God even closer to her than ever. She was even brave enough to post a picture of her with a cleanly shaven head, which in, sadly, she still has more hair than I do.

Please continue to pray for my sister as she deals with this, and her husband Kevin, who has been a rock for her throughout this trail. Pray for Faith and John Derrick, who have to see their mother go through hurt and pain. I love you big sis, keep up the fight, and know that you are an inspiration to so many.

Lord, give my sister the strength she needs to continue going through this procedure. Please eradicate all the cancer from her body. Help her to fight this fight. Please give her a long and cancer free life from this moment on, as she gives all the glory to you in whatever goes on with her. Amen.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Give Me A Heart That Wants To Be Holy

What comes to your mind when you think of the word holy? Seriously: Most of us probably think of things such as robes, chants, long prayers, Bible carrying scripture quoting type people. Or we think of a very sacred place.

Holiness simply means consecrated, sacred, hallowed, or most importantly, set apart.

How many of us really think about ourselves when we think about the word “Holy”.

Peter did. Peter, a fisherman by trade, a scummy and dirty job that didn’t require good looks or a good attitude, tells us that we’re supposed to be Holy. That’s like a fat man telling you to go on a diet. Its like a bald guy giving you hair styling advice. Of all the people to tell us that, why him? We all relate to him so well, because, well, he often seemed one of the most unholy of disciples. He was always sticking his foot in his mouth. He’s the one whose flaws seem so great. He’s the one who was swearing, denying that he even knew Jesus. He’s the one who cut off Malchus’ ear.

He’s the one who has the audacity to reprimand Jesus, only to have Jesus say “Get behind me Satan!”

If you want to go a step further, Peter is the one who when he first met Jesus said “Go away from me, I’m a sinful man!” By his own admission, he was saying he couldn’t be holy like Jesus was Holy.

And that’s how a lot of us feel. We feel like Jesus is just too Holy. There’s no way that He would want anything to do with a sinner like me. Peter felt the exact same way. Peter knew a thing or two about unholiness.

But there it is simply stated in I Peter 1:15-16 -- Be holy, as I am Holy.
For many of us, that might be the thing that basically tells us to close our Bibles, put them away on the shelf, and never look at them again. We might as well say goodbye to everyone this morning, and let them know we won’t be back again. We know God isn’t messing around when he gives us a clear cut demand from the Bible. This isn’t one of those GRAY issues that the church debates and argues about…oh no…this is a command, a straight up command: BE HOLY. See ya church! I can’t do that, and I suggest you come with me, because there ain’t many of us that can.

It just seems so hard to achieve, to reach, to even strive for. How can we ever be Holy?

God said to a little teenage girl: “You’re going to bear my one and only Son”. And Mary gave birth to Immanuel, to Jesus. And Jesus walked on the earth, and the people were with God, and they could touch him and talk with him. They could hug him and see him. And that was as close to God as they could be.

Then we took this Holy Child, and we arrested him, and we beat Him, and we put him on trial for being the king of the Jews. We convicted Him, and hung him on a cross, and crucified him. That’s where the cross comes in. 2 Corinthians 5 says God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. The cross is the place where we see most clearly that Jesus is indeed Immanuel, “God with us”. He atones for our sins and we are purified by his blood, which makes Holiness possible.

But then this Savior rose from the dead. He came and appeared to hundreds to show the prophecy fulfilled. He went to the mountain and ascended back into Heaven, and in ACTS 2, after he had ascended, his Holy Spirit DESCENDED amongst the people. Now we are truly as close to God as we can be, with his Holy Spirit among us, living in us. When you became a Christian and the Spirit of God came upon you, you became HOLY!

If you are a Christian, you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. But how much room is there for the Spirit’s Holiness to shine through? Even though we received this wonderful gift of God into our lives, so many of us treat it like a gift that we were given by a third cousin in law at Christmas. We accept it, and we forget that its there. Instead, it gets shoved aside, never used or remembered. This is what we do with the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at some verses that show what many of us fill our hearts with, instead of the holiness:

Colossians 3:1-10 NLT Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the Sinful earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshipping the things of this world. Because of these sins the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Look at these examples of unholy living: Anyone sweating yet? Anyone realizing that maybe your life isn’t so holy after all?

Sexual Immorality? Oh well don’t worry Lane, I love my spouse, I’m saving myself for marriage, I would never lust after someone…

Impurity? Oh, I live a pretty pure lifestyle…I don’t defile myself.

Lust? Even if a pretty lady or a handsome guy walks by, I can control myself after a peek.

Earthly things? I mean, I’ve got my possessions that I love, but I’d never put them before God…

Greed? I’m not greedy, I’ve got all I need, except for…

Anger and Rage? Not me, I’m perfectly calm all the time,

Malicious behavior? Why that sounds horrible. I always behave.

Dirty language? You won’t ever hear the words come out of my mouth.

REALLY? We have all these things under control, right?

The problem is, we may love our spouse and save ourselves for marriage, but what about the raunchy television shows and movies we watch that promote sexual immorality? But I’m not doing those things, I’m just watching it…YEAH, but you’re supporting it, you’re letting those things enter into your heart.

Impurity? So we don’t defile ourselves, except for the food and drink we fill ourselves with, the things we smoke or drink, or the images we put into our heads from the internet. There’s such filth we come across on the web. The things we see never leave our mind.

Lust? So you may catch a peek and not lust…but the Holy Spirit is there to keep you from the peek. If you’re in a loving committed relationship, what does that person have that your spouse doesn’t have?

Earthly things? So many of us have things we can’t give up, and those things continually make us unholy. They make us unholy because we can justify putting God aside for things we spend good money on, or things we need to make good money with. Season tickets, fancy TVs and cars. Our jobs are so much more important than our God. Remember the Rich Young Ruler? He was asked to give up everything to follow God. His inability to do this kept him from being holy. What can you give up that is keeping you from dedicating your life to God? Are you so busy that you can’t devote yourself to Heavenly things every once in a while?

Anger and rage? I’m never angry…especially while driving through Houston during rush hour. I know what its like, I also lived in Memphis and Nashville. Anger and rage rear their ugly heads all the time. Anger and Rage may be one of the biggest things keeping the Holy Spirit out of our hearts.

Malicious Behavior? What do you think gossip is? Me gossip? Its all constructive gossip, for their benefit…

Gossip is one of the most unholy things we involve ourselves in, yet its one of the things we involve ourselves in the most.

Dirty language? God will forgive the occasional slip, right? If those words are in your mind, is there room for you to also store up God’s Word as well?

Think about this. What is the only unmistakable evidence that an apple tree is an apple tree? ANSWER - It has apples on it. The fruit is all the evidence you need.

Jesus talked about the same thing in Matthew 7. He said “by their fruits you shall know them.” You can tell a lot about a person by the fruit of their lives.

The fruit of the Spirit filled life is outlined in Galatians 5.

Galatians 5:22-26 (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

That’s the evidence of the Spirit filled life. The Fruit of the Spirit.

Authentic Christian Holiness is characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit.

The Spirit of God produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. They are the by-products of Christ’s control in our lives. We can’t obtain them by trying to get them on our own. And we can’t live this way consistently apart from Him.

John 15:4-5 (NIV)
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

If you want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in your life, you must join your life to the life of Christ. You must know Him, love Him, hear Him, and obey Him.

And once you are connected, you must stay connected. Because just like any branch will die if it is detached from the vine, you must stay connected to the life-giving Source which is Jesus Christ.

In talking about what holiness is, we learn that Anything less than being holy is not obedience, but disobedience

If we are not children of obedience, we are children of evil desires. We live out a life of disobedience. We do those things that God makes clear He is against.
EPHESIANS 5:1 says to Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.

My father is my hero, I’ve told him before, and I’ll tell him again. He means so much to me, and I want in so many ways to be just like him. Many of you imitated your parents when you were young. I remember him letting me use an old shaver with the razor taken out of it. He’d take his old shaving mug and fill it with the cream, and take his shaving brush and brush the shaving cream on his face. Then he’d give me what was left, and I’d smear it all over my face. I’d shave just like him, minus the razor, imitating what he did. I’d look up and he’d be smiling at me, and I’d smile back.

But I’d often get in trouble. I’d get in trouble for lying, even though I never heard my father lie. I’d get in trouble for talking back, but my father never talked back. And even though I’d be imitating my father the best I could, I always got off course. When I got off course, I continued to go off course time and time again, even though My father was always there to punish and correct me.

Why do so many choose to stay in their disobedience, to stay away from the Holiness, to remain Unholy?

1.) Pleasure -- We are creatures of pleasure. Our society promotes an attitude: If it feels good do it. Like fools we buy into it. We may not do things that are “sinful” in our own minds. Maybe you eat a little too much of that food you like so well. Maybe you flirt with the co-worker because you like the attention. Maybe you spend money for the thrill that the purchase gives you. Even if you’re not willing to admit it, you do things that make you happy or feel good.

2.) Comfort -- We are also creature of comfort and there are times when we would kill rather than leave our comfort zone. We strive to that which we are comfortable with. This is why we often settle for far less than God wants for us. Growing spiritually is seldom comfortable. God stretches us and expands our limits. We like what we are comfortable with. Things that are comfortable give us a sense of security.

3.) Change -- The simple fact is that it is incredibly hard for people to change. People only change when they have enough information to make a decision or when they are hurting bad enough that they have to change. Change is hard but often difficult.
So we need to stop, and re-evaluate our lives. Ephesians 5 continues to say many of the same things Colossians warned us of: Sexual immorality, impurity and greed, obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes. It goes on to say that NO IMMORAL, IMPURE, OR GREEDY PERSON WILL INHERIT THE KINDGOM OF CHRIST AND GOD.

But the kicker is this, in verse 6. “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light.”.

I Thessalonians 4:7 says God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Luke tells us right before the story of the Wise Man and the foolish man in Luke chapter 6, in verse 46: So why do you keep calling me Lord, Lord, when you don’t do what I say!”

What does he say? I Peter 1:16 – Be Holy, for I am holy.

But I just want to do other things.

Be holy, for I am holy.

But my job keeps me from being involved in the church.

Be holy, for I am holy.

I’m struggling with pornography.

Be holy, for I am holy.

I only gossip at work, and its not about anyone here.

Be holy, for I am holy.

The world is calling my name, I need to go be with them:

Be holy, for I am holy.

God, I’m struggling, its so hard. I can’t go on. How can I be holy, I can’t be
like you. You’re God, you’re perfect. I’m so far from perfect.

Be holy, for I am holy.

Stop saying that God! I can’t be holy. I’ll I try and I try, but I’m never going to be holy.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. He knows its impossible for us to perfect, but he planned for us to do good things.

There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot--then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.

She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy--when I see my image in it."

There’s a song called “Refiner’s Fire” whose words simply state the following:

Refiner’s Fire
my heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for you Lord
I choose to be Holy
Set apart for you my master
Ready to do your will

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What Are You Living For?

Have you ever awakened in the morning and gone through your morning routine and suddenly asked yourself, “Where is my life headed?” Does it ever seem to you that you have had an empty and pointless life up to this point? There may have been some successful business deals and you may have had some fun, but in terms of satisfying friendships or lasting accomplishments, your life has been a zero. Maybe you have climbed the ladder of success, only to discover that all the while it had been leaning against the wrong wall.

When one takes a look at the life of Paul, how would you put a measuring stick to his life? Was he a success or a failure? I guess it all depends on whose yardstick you use to measure success. When measured by the world’s yardstick of success, his life seemed almost insignificant. He put too much aside in order to minister to the needs of others. As Paul looks back over matters, he saw that it had been rewarding but not easy.

Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy while languishing in a cold, damp dungeon awaiting execution. In a matter of weeks, the apostle would stand before Nero, the half-insane emperor of Rome, and learn that his life was coming to an end. But Paul knew that after his death he would receive the crown of life from the King of kings. History will reveal to us that the influence of his life had in reality changed the course of history itself. As Paul penned the words of that last epistle, he stated “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7). Wouldn’t it be grand to one day have the same confidence that the apostle had and to look over our life and say with confidence what he had penned centuries earlier.

Nero made a mark on history also. Ancient historians as well as modern historians have written volumes about the splendor of Nero and the vast Roman Empire. These same historians rarely if ever mention the apostle Paul. He was simply another radical who was put to death by the emperor. It is interesting to note that in our society we name our dogs Nero and our sons Paul. It seems to me that what we live for is pretty important after all. I think it would benefit each of us to simply review what it is that we are living for. Remember there are no losers with Jesus and no winners with the devil.

May each of you be blessed with a life that is fulfilled in service to the master.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Lost" bringing back characters from 1st season

By James Hibberd James Hibberd – Sun Jul 26, 9:25 pm ET

SAN DIEGO (Hollywood Reporter) – The characters Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) will be back on ABC's "Lost" next year, along with several other characters who haven't been seen since the first season, producers said over the weekend during a panel presentation at the Comic-Con convention.

The revelation confirms reports that suggested a "Lost" reunion of sorts for the final season. In May's finale, the castaways detonated a bomb on the mysterious island in hopes of resetting the last several years of their lives.

The news was among a scant few tidbits dropped during a well-produced hour in San Diego that featured several new mock ads and parody shorts, but no new video from the final season.

"There's a good chance you'll be seeing many characters you haven't seen since the first season again," said executive producer Damon Lindelof.

The final season, producers said, will in some ways resemble the first.

"(In the first season, the characters) were running around the jungle, things felt intense and surprising and (there was) the emotional discovery about the characters," said executive producer Carlton Cuse. "We have a way that we're going to be able to do that in the final season too."

Yet fans shouldn't think that any sort of narrative reboot will invalidate everything that's already happened, "because that would be a real big cheat," said Jorge Garcia, who plays Hugo on the show.

"Just trust us," reassured Cuse.

The show will also employ a new narrative device that's unique to the final season.

"The time-travel season is over, the flash-forward season is over," Lindelof said. "We're going to do something different."

As for lingering mysteries about the show's story, "everything that matters we're gonna answer," assured Lindelof.

Fans camped overnight to see the "Lost" panel at Comic-Con, which occupied the pop-culture convention's largest ballroom, usually reserved for presentations on major summer movies.

Other news from the panel:

* The matter of the mysterious Dharma food drops will be solved ... but there won't be much about the Dharma Initiative in the final season.

* Asked if the mysterious Jacob has ever appeared as any other character in the series, Lindelof said "no."

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Open your Eyes

I have always loved reading all the old Peanuts cartoon strips in the paper. There is a simple humor about the characters that Charles Shultz developed. The first Peanuts strip ran in 1950. In February of 2000 after 17,897 comic strips, the series came to an end. Recently there was one in the paper that caught my attention. Snoopy is looking up into the sky and is communicating with his friend Woodstock. Snoopy says “You have? You’ve actually flown above the clouds?” In the next frame, Snoopy continues and says; “Wow! What was it like?” In the final frame Woodstock mumbles something to snoopy (I guess in animal talk). Snoopy responds, “Well you shouldn’t have closed your eyes.”

I believe there are a number of things that we are blind to in our life. We hurry from place to place and never take the time to open our eyes to see the beauty that is around us. Maybe it is a scarlet red maple tree that we drive by every day. It might be a beautiful sunset as the clouds disappear just at the right time to allow the sun to set in all of its beautiful glory. There are times when you could slow down and watch the birds gather around your bird feeder and enjoy the meal that you have left for them. There are countless items that we seem to be blind to, or seemingly have our eyes closed just like Woodstock.

As important as it is to keep our eyes open to the beauty and might of God’s wonderful creation, it is even more import to keep our eyes open to the word of God. To know and understand what God’s will is for each of us. Wouldn’t it be a shame to go through life with our eyes closed to the wonderful teaching of God’s word. It is in God’s word, the Bible that we can gain strength to face another day. II Thessalonians 3:3 tells us “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” When I know that I can face the day with renewed optimism, it gives me an entirely different outlook on life. If I closed my eyes to that simple truth, imagine what I would be missing. What would my life be if I closed it to the truths of Romans 15:4; “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Isn’t it wonderful to be able to read the beloved stories of the Bible and receive encouragement so that I can have hope. As we go through life, let each of us resolve to keep our eyes open not only to the beauties around us, but also to the comfort that we can find in God’s word.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Don Meyer: A True Hero

When I was a kid, my Grandfather and Grandmother Smith were some of the biggest Lipscomb University Basketball fans ever. They, along with the McKelvey's, had season tickets together, sitting proudly in McQuiddy Gymnasium watching the Bison play their games.

In 6th grade, I went to Lipscomb's basketball camp. I was fortunate enough to learn and study under this gentleman. It did me some good, because I ended up coaching on a State Championship team at Westbury Christian.

Don Meyer has touched the lives of so many. Now, he's had impact on even more. This could be the best 5 minutes or so of television I've ever seen: (this link may end up being kicked off of YouTube, if it does I'm sorry)