Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Planting Seeds

This month at Hope, John has been talking about Jesus' parables and how they still apply to us today. One of the parables that he mentioned came from Luke 8:4-15, the parable of the sower and the soil. The basic takeaway is that when we share Christ (plant seeds), the effectiveness will depend on how ready the person is to receive it (good soil, rocky soil, thorny soil). In my experience, it's always worthwhile to plant seeds whenever possible. Only God truly knows if someone is ready to hear the good news.

This became even clearer to me this week when Anne received a phone call from some friends that we had in Tampa. We got to know them because our daughters were in the same class in school. Through the couple of years that we knew them, the conversation would sometimes turn to what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. During the phone call she told Anne that her entire family was baptized this past weekend, and thanked Anne for "planting seeds." It reminded me of a lunch appointment that I had with her husband just a little over a year ago. After my lunch I sent an email to some friends (this was pre-blog). I thought I would re-post that email here.

"Today I was having lunch with a friend who is at the beginning of his spiritual journey. As I was sharing some of my life experiences with him I mentioned a time in my life when God led me in a certain direction. He immediately stopped me and asked, "How did you know it was God?!" I really appreciated the question, and I had to stop for a moment to figure out how I was going to explain that concept. Through that conversation I was reminded about what a privilege it it is to have a relationship with a God who is not distant, but is present with me and hears me when I pray. I told my friend that over the years my relationship with Christ has grown and I have learned to distinguish between an idea that I have in my mind, and something that God is leading me to do. It's difficult to put into words, but I explained that it's similar to relationships we have with other people. For example, my wife knows me so well, that there are times she knows exactly what I'm going to say before I even say it. Over the years she has learned my quirks and my tendencies and she can generally predict what my reaction will be. In the same way, as I have studied the bible, prayed and walked with God daily, I have come to know more of who He is, and what He would say about the situations that come my way. Jesus said in John 10:14-15,27 (NIV) 'I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father Knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep.' 'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.' I believe that as you pray and ask God for direction in your life, He will answer you. This week, ask Him to help you to hear His voice above all of the other distractions that come your way."

I'm glad to know that some of the seeds that I planted in his life during that lunch began to grow. Hearing about his family getting baptized makes me excited! I can't wait to hear what else God has in store.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


A couple of days ago my friend Tim celebrated eighteen years serving at the same church, Faith Assembly in N. Ft. Myers, FL. Tim was already on staff when Anne and I moved there for my very first full time pastoral position in 1992. We were there a little over two years, and we became good friends. You can tell by the picture that we were WAY ahead of our time. Totally cutting edge! (I think we were doing a drama about Sunday School, but I still wear the cap occasionally). We still keep in touch even though we rarely get to see each other in person. I have a lot of great memories of my time there. We were treated very well by the pastor, Phil Goss, and the church family. One cool thing is that 3 of the pastors, including Pastor Goss, are STILL THERE!! I think that says a lot about the character of the leaders there. Anyway, as I was thinking about my time there, I was reminded of a funny story that has a moral in the end...

Tim was/is a huge Atlanta Braves fan. He was always trying to figure out how to mix his love for the Braves with some type of viable ministry opportunity. One day, he decided to organize a church outing to Miami to watch the Braves play the Marlins. When I heard about the incredible ministry that was going to be happening, I asked Tim if he needed my assistance. (Doesn't every good bus trip need to include the Music Pastor? I thought so.) So I came along and we had a fun trip over to the park. By the time we arrived and got to our "great" seats (outfield of couse, Tim spared no expense), I was really hungry. Of course if you read this blog very often you know that it's against my personal values to buy overpriced stadium food, but there was no escaping it this time...I HAD to EAT!! To my surprise, they sold large pizza's for ten bucks! Not a bad stadium value, so I got one and started in. About half way through the pizza, I was feeling kind of full, but I could still eat some more. Now you have to remember that this was a long time ago when I was pretty skinny and could eat whatever I wanted and never had to think about it (oh, the I miss thee). That's when the guy behind me (a big guy, man's man, who was on the church board) asked, "You gonna eat that whole thing?! You can't eat that!" I said, "Oh yeah, I'm going to eat it, and I'm going to love it. Just watch!" He had set the hook, and I had taken the bait. I was in. By the time there were two pieces left, I was FULL. But there was NO WAY I was going to stop with just two pieces left. When I stuffed the last piece in my mouth, I turned around and showed him the empty box, and said "See, no problem!" I think he even acknowledged my greatness by saying, "You're crazy" or something like that. Either way, I had WON! No pizza's gonna get in my way...yada, yada. I then turned back around in my seat and my stomach started to churn almost immediately. That dough felt like it tripled in size when it hit my stomach. I sat through the last half of the game with the worst stomach ache in my life, but I couldn't let anyone see because that would cheapen my earlier win. It was kind of a miserable ride home, and I can't even remember if the Marlins or Braves won the game, but there is one thing I have remembered to this day...there are times when "winning" is JUST NOT WORTH IT!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Very Own Street

This weekend we were out and about in Plano, dropping in on a new burger place recommended by my friend mistermunoz, when I came across my very own street! I guess when the city found out that I was moving to Texas, they hurriedly put this sign up in my honor. They must have done it quickly, because I didn't even get an invitation to the dedication! I'm sure they just figured I was way too busy to be involved, being the famous blogger that I am. Either way, I'm just glad that my work has finally been recognized, and that whenever people walk down this street,they will think of me.