Thursday, December 20, 2007

songs from heaven

Tis the season for singing. And, my daughter does plenty of that! We prophetically named her Jenna when she was born. The name means "little bird" and she hasn't stopped chirping since. In the bathroom, at the table, in the car, during movies, when she's alone, when she's in a group of people. Sometimes, when I'm with her, I feel like a 90 year old man trying to merge my 62 Impala from the entrance ramp onto the highway. It's impossible to get a word in edgewise.
But, of course, I love her! And, I love her spirit. Whatever is in Jenna has to come out. It doesn't trickle. It bubbles up and gushes out. It overflows the banks of her little heart and floods the whole room. No matter how hard you try (and we have) you cannot corral her. You might as well try to fence the wind.

The day Jesus was born, I'm told that a whole choir of angels exploded: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests." This wasn't just an announcement, like a newsboy in Times Square selling papers. It was cosmic news that couldn't be contained. God arrived on earth with grace and peace. A Savior was born. People could be saved.

This Christmas, don't hold back. Sing often, Sing loud. Sing strong. Follow the lead of the psalmist who wrote:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

[Psalm 40:1-3]

Saturday, December 8, 2007

a bueno bride, beach and book

Tiffany and I just returned from a great anniversary vacation in Cancun, Mexico. It's the first away time that she and I have enjoyed without kids in 14 years. It's sad to say. But, the rhythm of ministry during December rarely gave me the time to get away. This year, we just took the plunge. And--wow--what an incredible time away.

We enjoyed our stay at the luxurious JW Marriott on the beach. Our 6th floor suite had two balconies and we slept with the door open to hear the ocean each evening. Our days were delightfully uneventful--searching for sand dollars on the beach, relaxing and reading. I started and finished The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. It was recommended to me by one of our worship team members and it was a fantastic vacation read. I'll reflect on the book's content in another posting.

It was difficult to leave our island paradise. But, we return refreshed. Not just our souls, but as soulmates. I'm already planning next year's trip.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

eighteen years and loving it!

I never imagined that marriage could be such a joy. Today, Tiffany and I celebrate 18 years together and we have had the unusual blessing of saying that every year, every turn, every experience has been worth it! My bride carries herself with such unmatched dignity and grace. She is compassionate and elegant. She is spiritual, playful and beautiful. She is simple and spectacular, all at the same time. I can't tell you how many times I look at her across a room or catch her eye at the table of a restaurant and think to myself, "How in the world did I get such a prize?" God has been wildly good to me these 18 years. I can't even begin to imagine that the best is still to come! I love you, Tiffany!

Monday, November 26, 2007

better than I said it

I preached on gratitude yesterday. Today, I learned of perspective by John Piper that says it even better. Check out "Ganging Up On Gratitude". Thanks to Chris Webster for the link.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

returning thanks

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

–––Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

Friday, November 16, 2007

2 timothy 2:2

"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."

This verse has made my wheels turn for the last 15 years. It's a charge to multiply, to spiritual reproduce. It's a commission given by the Apostle Paul to his young disciple, Timothy. Paul is passing the baton. But, it's more than that. Paul is urging Timothy to pass it on to others as well. I notice 4 generations mentioned in this passage: "And the things you (2nd generation, Timothy) have heard me (1st generation, Paul) say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men (3rd generation) who will also be qualified to teach others (4th generation)." This is what disciplemaking is all about. Spiritually reproducing ourselves in spiritual reproducers.

Recently, I have begun two journeys that have made my heart beat a little faster. On Thursday mornings, I join Keith Smith in discipling 3 young men in our church. We have started exploring what the Bible is and what its story is from 30,000 feet. I'm simply passing on the spiritual lessons that I have learned from my mentors. Last week, I heard that one of these young men repeated our week's lesson to several friends. Count 'em. That's 4 generations!

I started this same kind of discipleship with my oldest son, Grant. For several years, I have been taking one of my kids to breakfast on Fridays. Today, Grant and I began more intentional training. I'm not sure which direction we'll head. But, I just know that I have a responsibility to be strategically spiritual with deposit whatever I have learned into him. That's discipleship. Hopefully, I'm preparing him for a lifetime of disciple-making. And, I'm looking forward to the future generations that may walk with Christ because of the investment that I make now. Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, November 12, 2007

make a difference to a marine

Hey friends. I'm gonna use this blog to request a favor. My nephew, Adam Wroblski (Ro-bless-kee) is serving in Iraq. He's homesick and, for some reason, isn't getting mail that others are sending. The quickest way for him to get a note of encouragement would be through Would you be open to showing love to a soldier that you've never met? Because I cannot post his personal information on this site, please email me and I will send you directions on sending him a quick letter. Thanks!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

be a fugleman

How's your vocabulary? Enrich your word power and take a hit out of hunger at the same time:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

my story | HIStory

This morning, our staff gathered for our Thursday chapel--a weekly opportunity to be a team and family together. The topic today, led by Keith Smith, was our personal testimonies. One-by-one, about a dozen people told the great story of how God met them. For one, it was in a jail cell. For another, it was through the faithful prayers of a devoted grandmother. For another, it was miraculous healing. Still another managed triple baptisms...just to be sure.

I made two observations from our sharing. First, every story is picture of grace. Years ago, I heard someone remark that the person who is born to Christian parents and comes to know Christ at an early age is as much a recipient of grace as the person rescued from a lifestyle of outward rebellion and overt sin. How blessed God is to protect some people from the involvement and effects of sin.

Second, I was struck by the uniqueness of every story. Young or old, a single moment or a year-long process, in crisis or in joy. Everybody has a story all their own. Or all God's own. Because no matter how diverse, every story comes down to one common denominator: God's grace saving undeserving sinners and granting them unimaginable riches. Now that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Soli Deo Gloria.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

bogeymen under the bed

I still remember my home in Columbia, South Carolina, and the little bedroom I shared with my older brother. For some reason, I have a memory of running to bed, bare feet slapping the wood hallway floor from the den, until I arrived at the doorway of our room. I calculated the threshold-to-mattress distance, multiplied it by my sudden heart rate increase and divided it by toy obstacles between me and safety (I should have cleaned my room before bedtime). At five years old, it was me against the bogeymen under the bed.

They're still there...unseen monsters that try to grab my feet and threaten my peace. You probably have a few keeping you awake at night. The monster of failure spooks me into thinking that the whole success of my church and family rests on my feeble shoulders. The monster of rejection leads me to read into what other people say or do as an indication of whether or not I am significant. The monster of comparison taunts me with stories of "better" dads, "better" husbands, "better" pastors, "better" friends. When those gremlins grow weary, there are a few others in the closet on standby.

I eventually overcame my dread of the bedtime bogeyman. Today, I overcome resident fears by remembering who I am and whose I am. God brought 1 John 4:18 to mind today: "But perfect love drives out fear." The Father's perfect love for me provides such security that all fear is chased away. All irrational fears (not legitimate ones like the fear of falling into Niagara Falls if I lean over the railing) are tricks of the enemy to call into question my identity. The treat today is that I am loved. That's not just an action; It's a unchanging reality. God overcame monsters, turned on the light and made my path clear because of His great love for me! It makes me sleep a whole lot better at night.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

amazing grace

Today, we explored grace, and how we can show grace to our neighbors. As I think about grace, and especially God's grace to me, I am reminded of a great definition of grace that I learned in college. It is worth repeating and remembering:

Justice is getting what you deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
Grace is getting what you don't deserve.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

Saturday, October 27, 2007

young and the restless

Recently, I was invited into a group of young men to join a discipleship process. It's where my heart beat for 10 years in Austin: the opportunity to impact the next generation through intentional relationships leading to life-transformation. I'm still passionate about investing in collegians, young singles and 20-something married couples.

Recently, I searched the database at Pantego Bible Church and discovered that we have more than 1000 entries for singles who are 19-29 years old. Yet, this demographic is noticeably absent in our church. Even though young singles make up almost 50% of the DFW population, we are missing this incredible group and missing the opportunity to impact the next generation as a result.

I'm grateful to Paul and Lynn Gibbs and the faithful leaders who have been meeting a small group at their home for the last 18 months. I dream of dozens of similar communities planted all over the Arlington-Ft. Worth and surrounding areas. While PBC has several established groups of older singles, our staff has been discussing specific initiatives to reach the 20-something crowd. I'm excited to be in a place that is committed to making disciples of all people. Please be in prayer with us as we explore our possibilities and potential. Soli Deo Gloria.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Suy Chhun Ey

Meet my newest friend...that I've never met. Suy Chhun Ey is a carpenter in Cambodia. And, tonight, I made my first $25 investment in his business through, a poverty alleviation organization that helps fund small, international business people in order to give them a helping hand up. Once Mr. Ey is able to turn a profit and better support his family, my investment will be repaid. I am so excited to see what a difference my small investment will make. Perhaps you'd like to read more about Kiva and join me in getting a carpentry shop going in the Kampong Cham Province!

BIO: Mr. Suy Chhun Ey, age 34, works as a carpenter producing beds, tables, cupboards, wardrobes, and other furniture. His wife sells the products her husband makes, earning the family about $4 per day in profit. They have four children, one who works in a garment factory earning $2 per day, one who is a welder making $2 per day, and two who are students. He would like to request a loan of $400 in order to purchase more wood to supply their carpentry business. Purchasing in bulk will save costs, and increasing the stock of wood will allow him to fulfill larger orders for the customers. This will increase both margins and revenue. He plans to use the additional income to reinvest in the growth of their business and support their children’s education. His wife is pictured in the photograph.

Friday, October 19, 2007

light your world

Last Sunday, I began a new sermon series called StreetLights. The title came from Tom Anthony, our Ft. Worth Area Pastor, and reflects our ongoing commitment to let Christ shine in our neighborhood [Matthew 5:14]. The concept is simple. My neighborhood has street lights every 5-6 houses. Each light shines on the home yard where it is located, the homes on either side and several homes across the street. What if I began to see my street as my mission field--Not the whole neighborhood. Just those who live right around me. On the same Sunday, we commissioned Dave and Christy Johnson as Pantego Bible Church missionaries to Ethiopia. We want to see people from every nation, tribe and tongue come to know Jesus Christ personally. But, reaching the whole world begins with reaching our world next door.

To explore this topic further, we will use the acronym L-I-G-H-T-S. Each letter stands for a simple way to connect with our neighbors. Each connection means a greater possibility that people living around me might come to know Jesus Christ and dive into the community I already experience. I can't wait to see what God does through His church as we light our world with the light of Christ within us!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

going deeper

Looking for some great tools to assist you in your own study of the Bible? Check out the website of my very dear friend, Dr. Bruce Hurt, in Austin, Texas: The site is filled with commentaries, dictionaries, maps and devotionals. If you run into Bruce, tell 'em David sent ya!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

cleared for take-off

A 747 taxis down the runway and prepares for flight. But, before journey gets underway, the pilot must get clearance from air traffic control. They must be approved for take-off. In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul urges his disciple Timothy to "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." In other words, when preaching or teaching the Bible, we must check our instruments, buckle up, be ready. This responsibility weighs on me with every message that I present.

Today and tomorrow, I am attending a Morris Proctor Seminar that helps pastors and teachers use a fantastic Bible Study program called Logos. A gracious benefactor equipped me with these tools several years ago and since then, this program has greatly helped me get ready for flight. I'd highly recommend it for anyone who wants to great tools to correctly handle the Word of God.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

staff infection

Our staff retreat last week at Sky Ranch was incredible! What a great connection we have with one another. The laughter was contagious and our unity powerful. Now, if I could only get the image of Lupe Salazar in a dress out of my mind...

Monday, October 8, 2007

10.88 seconds

A 16-year-old took the top prize at the Rubik's Cube World Championship last Sunday, solving the puzzle five times in an average of 12.46 seconds. But the fastest single attempt was a cool 10.88 seconds, just off the world record of 9.86 seconds. What are you doing with your spare time?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

sprititual treasure

What a book: Haggai. Two chapters, 38 verses, rich with spiritual implications for life. Who would have thought that Old Testament prophecy could yield such abundant resources for our own lives? I have so thoroughly enjoyed preaching the 5 messages in our "Spiritual Treasures" series at Pantego Bible Church. I have especially appreciated the spiritual response of our congregation who has embraced diving headlong into this study. What a journey!

To summarize the series:

Haggai 1:1-11 ["You Are Here"]
We run to whatever we are most passionate about. The wrong treasure can end in a wasted hunt. But, when my highest treasure is God, my greatest pleasure is gained.

Haggai 1:12-15 ["Mapping New Coordinates"]
God supplies all that we need to follow Him: a God-sent message, a God-sized vision and a God-stirred spirit.

Haggai 2:1-9 ["Hidden in Plain Sight"]
When we don't feel that we're making headway in our spiritual journey, we can be confident of the hidden treasures of God with us in our work and us with God in His work.

Haggai 2:10-19 ["Striking it Rich"]
We can get stalled in our spiritual progress because holiness in one area doesn't cover every other area of our life, but past sin does carry forward in consequences and life contamination. The only answer is grace...amazing grace.

Haggai 2:20-24 ["X Marks the Spot"]
We live in the tension between two worlds by looking forward to the treasure of God's Kingdom come and living faithfully as the treasure of God's Kingdom choice.

Friday, October 5, 2007

grace that taught my heart to fear

Since my sermon on grace last week [Haggai 2:10-19], I have been reflecting a bit more on grace. I remember a phrase I first heard in college: "Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is getting what you don't deserve, and grace is getting what you don't deserve." In spite of His people's disobedience, God said, "From this day on, I will bless you" [v. 19]. That's grace...amazing grace that relieves my fear of God's anger.

The song "Amazing Grace" highlights the flip side of grace. Grace has "taught my heart to fear" and that same grace "my fears relieved." In other words, by grace, I am free from condemnation [read Romans 5:1 and 8:1 together]. But, grace doesn't free me to do anything I want. The grace that liberates from wrath at the same time liberates me to worship. By God's grace, I come to see God as He is and live in awesome, fearful humility before Him.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


So, Grant entered an AISD art contest. He won 2nd place with the following photo. A great shot captured in China. Attaboy Grant!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

why believe the Bible?

I recently received a 3-part study from "Christianity Today" on why we should believe the Bible. I have permission to copy/use the curriculum with a bazillion people. If you would like me to send you a free copy for your own personal study, email me HERE. Of course, you can't copy and distribute it to others, but I think you'll be encouraged by the study yourself.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

shaking things up a little

Next week, I will finish a sermon series in the book of Haggai. In verses 2:20-23, God guarantees Zerubbabel, the political leader of His people, that he will one day shake the heavens and the earth, overthrow rulers and establish His Kingdom without contest. Tiffany is reading a great book, Epicenter [Joel Rosenberg], that looks at current political affairs and connects them to specific Bible prophecies such as Haggai's revelation. Rosenberg isn't a sensationalist. His global views are my wife says. Everyone believes (or at least wishes) that they were living in the last days. How I long for Jesus' glorious return! I shake just thinking about it...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

definition of community

A group of unicorns is called a blessing. Twelve or more cows are known as a "flink." A group of frogs is an army. A group of rhinos is called a crash. A group of kangaroos is called a mob. A group of whales is called a pod. A group of geese is called a gaggle. A group of ravens is called a murder. A group of officers is called a mess. A group of larks is called an exaltation. A group of owls is called a parliament.

A group of Christians loving each other and living life together is called community.

Friday, September 21, 2007

snappy shots

Here are a few pictures that my son, Grant, took and entered in a photography show. I think these are extraordinary. Snappy young man! Proud dad.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

on prayer

"When a person is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way to nourish one’s life with God. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible’s idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself. It is not so true that ‘prayer changes things’ as that prayer changes me and I change things. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of redemption alters the way in which one looks at things. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in one’s disposition." [Oswald Chambers, Christian Personal Ethics, C. F. H. Henry ed., Eerdmans, 1957, pp. 573]

Sunday, September 16, 2007

geocaching and deocaching

I was introduced to geocaching several years ago by my friends Chuck Ellis and Nic Nichols in Minnesota. The concept is simple: God to and download coordinates into your handheld GPS receiver. The coordinates correspond to one of thousands of caches [aka "treasure"] left by private citizens in public places. The treasure hunt hobby might end in a little film canister tied in the branches of a tree or it could lead to a camouflaged ammo box filled with trinkets and toys for the taking. The next time you head out on vacation, check to see if there might be a cache or two near where you'll be staying.

I have started preaching a new series--Spiritual Treasure-- in the obscure Old Testament book of Haggai. The message of 1:1-11 is simple: "When our highest treasure is God, our greatest pleasure is gained." To say it differently, God's best for my life is God and when I choose to pursue Him as my greatest treasure, He becomes my greatest gain. I can hunt for lightweight treasures apart from Him only to find they they get "blown away" like the Divine dust in the wind [v. 9]. Or, I can delight myself in God's glory [the Hebrew word for "glory" means "heavy"] and uncover a treasure that is weightier than everything else. Soli DEO Gloria

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

remembering 910

This morning, I woke to the somber reminder that, six years ago, our country was dropped into a dark despair that caused everyone to wake up to their need for God. Spiritual sensitivities after 911 were at the highest levels. Formerly disinterested citizens suddenly took note that life is fragile and that, if God isn't in control, we have even more to fear.

But, this was true on 910, the day before 911. On Monday, September 10, 2001, all of life was sustained by God [Acts 17:25, 28 and Colossians 1:17]. He was pouring out His gracious blessings on those who loved Him and those who didn't [Matthew 5:45 ]. The day before, He was creating, loving, protecting and providing. Perhaps it's just that we became so accustomed to God's extraordinary presence that it didn't seem so extraordinary any more. It took the collapse of two buildings and the loss of life to shake us [me] to our senses.

This morning, a cool front blew through the DFW metroplex. In the first half of September, that's a gift. So is the fact that I made it to work safely, my children slept soundly and the medication I took yesterday is working wonderfully. These little things could easily be missed. I pray that it doesn't take take another dark tragedy to open our eyes to the work of God that is already shining brightly the day before.

Friday, September 7, 2007

dealing with the debt collector

Gregory hasn't paid his bills. Unfortunately, Gregory used to have our cell phone number. Apparently, phone companies allow unused numbers to go dormant for a while and then reissue them. It seems that it took about that long for Gregeory's debts to catch up with him...or us. We're getting calls every day! Some collector named Guido is threatening to take away all of our birthdays if we don't pay what's due. The fact is, however, we have a spotless credit record. Our score is near perfect. Our bills are always paid on time. We owe nothing. But Guido keeps calling.

Revelation 12:10 calls Satan "the accuser of the brethren." He badgers the Christian daily, trying to make them pay on an account that is already clear. Our debt has been paid in full at the cross of Jesus Christ! We owe nothing [see 1 Corinthians 7:23] but the continuing debt of praise to God for the freedom we have from our sins! Don't let the demonic debt collector accost you and make you think there is a balance still due. Just hang up on him...right after you remind him that, in Christ, you are free.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

filing my flight plan

I caught the news yesterday that aviation adventurer, Steve Fossett, is missing. Rescuers are searching a 600 square mile region of the Nevada desert region to see if they can locate him or his plane which went missing yesterday. The biggest challenge: Fossett never filed a flight plan. The story took me back to the incredible tale of Aron Ralston who went hiking in Utah's Blue John Canyon in May 2003 and was suddenly trapped by a boulder. After several days without food or hope, Ralston eventually snapped his radius and ulna bones and severed his own arm with a multi use tool he was fortunate to have with him. Ralston's first mistake: He never told anyone where he was going.

These stories have made me pause and ask myself the question: Who really knows where I'm going? Am I flying solo or hiking alone? Who is aware of my journey?

The writer of Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 reflects on this important issue:

There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless— a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Life was never meant to be lived in isolation. God has made me for community--to be together. It's not just for my joy. It's for my protection. I am grateful for the people around me who know my flight plan. They know the coordinates of my heart and the direction I'm walking. They check in on my welfare (like a dear brother did this morning) and they rescue me when I'm lost in the desert places. I can't imagine going at it alone.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

the danger of doing nothing

This morning I presented a sermon on Proverbs 6:6-11 titled "The Danger of Doing Nothing." An excellent follow up to this topic is a sermon preached several weeks ago by my good friend Brian Gray. Download his sermon ["My Work Life"] online at the TNLC website. A good word!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

ibc : refreshing

A year and a half ago, I met with Pantego Bible Church leaders and put a root beer in each of their hands. I urged them to continue making PBC an IBC culture--a church of "Irresistible Biblical Community." Fortunately, the foundation had been carefully laid before I ever arrived and godly men and women have endured in their commitment to make our church more than just a Sunday experience. So many people are experiencing genuine community.

I confess that in the months since, immersed in ministry, I had been unable to see the forest for the trees. Today, at our weekly leadership meeting, I asked Phil Anderson to offer his most significant observation of PBC. Phil, an out of town pastor, has been visiting with our staff during the last two weeks to learn more about our Connecting Church model of ministry. He paused for a moment and then commented that our picture of community is what stood out the most. People really do love one another. Hearts are really being knit together. It's authentic. Not just a paradigm. God is at work in our church in the most extraordinary way enabling people to share their lives with one another. I'm glad Phil noticed. I'm more glad I get to be a part of it. Irresistible Biblical Community. Refreshing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

no divine shadows

As I drove to church today, during the early morning hours, I caught the tail end of the lunar eclipse. It’s the phenomenon resulting when the moon passes through some portion of the Earth's shadow. In other words, the Earth blocked the Sun's rays so that the moon couldn't radiate with its usual brilliance. The last eclipse of this kind occurred seven years ago.

Even more spectacular is the eclipse that never takes place. Because God is forever the same, nothing gets in the way of the brilliance of who He is or what He is doing. The great hymn states, "Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee;Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be."

The Apostle James gives me a biblical point of view: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). I can fully trust that God is the same today that He was at the beginning of creation, in the Psalms, and in the ministry of Jesus. It's what we call the immutability of God. He never changes. He never shifts. Always the same. Always faithful. Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

don't leave home without it

This morning, I preached from Proverbs 4:5-9 on the value of wisdom--one of the most important survival skills for the spiritual life. At the end of our worship services, we prayed for our students, teachers and administrators. It was a very moving experience.

Our time together left me wondering how biblical wisdom would manifest itself in the lives of my three children, Grant, Pearson and Jenna. I recalled a list that I offered my congregation in a July 2006 message on parenting. As I release them to their respective 3rd, 7th and 9th grade experiences tomorrow morning, I pray that they will, with godly wisdom, continue to remember...

1. …that the world revolves around God
[Genesis 1:1, Acts 17:24-28]
2. …that God has created them for a divine purpose
[Ephesians 2:10, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:16]
3. …that God offers salvation through His Son Jesus
[1 John 5:11-12, Romans 10:9-10, John 1:12-13]
4. …who they are in Christ
[1 John 3:1, 2 Corinthians 5:17]
5. …that God is discovered in His Word and through prayer
[Jeremiah 15:16, Proverbs 15:29]
6. …that worship is a lifestyle
[1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 10:31]
7. …that God dwells in His church in a mysterious way
[Ephesians 2:22, 3:10]
8. …how to live extravagantly for the King and His Kingdom
[1 Corinthians 4:2; Acts 20:24]
9. …that all people matter to God
[Psalm 8:4-5, James 3:9-12]
10. …that this world is not our home
[Philippians 3:20-21, 2 Peter 3:11-14]

From “Letting the Vine Grow Wild” (Proverbs 22:6) ● July 30, 2006

Friday, August 24, 2007

i love these people!

Last evening, we hosted the Pantego Bible Church staff and families at our home for an end-of-summer party. There's probably a universal pool occupancy code that we violated. What fun we had being with one another! I love these people!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

making God famous

I have been on a winding journey for much of my spiritual life, searching out the "main thing"--that one thing for which I live and, quite possibly, would die. That "thing" has changed throughout the years.

I was set on the path of life purpose when I met Jesus Christ in 1983. From there, I began to think that my life purpose was spiritual maturity. Grow up in Jesus. Then I discovered that the outcome of spiritual maturity was spiritual reproduction. My mission in life was to help others grow in Christ. Then I morphed to mission. The goal of the Christian life was to grow in Christ, to help others grow in Christ so that, together, we could take Christ to others who might one day grow in Christ as well. My vision was becoming increasingly global and focal along the way.

Each refinement was an attempt to answer the question "Why?" Several years ago, I asked the question again, "Why do I grow in help others grow in that, together, we reach the world for Christ?" Why? Why? Why? The answer was: To glorify God. And, I haven't found a better purpose yet.

The word "glory" in the Bible [doxa in Greek...hence doxo-logos means "words of glory"] means "to be weighty or significant." To "glorify God" means that whatever I do or say reflects the all-surpassing excellency of who He is. Glorification is about reflection. It is to mirror the magnificence of someone or something. Since God is worthy of worship, it makes sense that everything I do be purposed toward declaring how wonderful He really is. In other words, my mission is to make disciples who are changed by God to change their world. But, in the end, what I ultimately want, is God to be made famous.

God declares this mission to be absolute in Malachi 1:11,
"My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.

The Apostle Paul summarizes this life mission in the theologically rich declaration of Ephesians 1:11-12,
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
And, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, the mission is unmistakable,
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Wow. To think that God didn't save me for me. He saved me for Himself. And, all of life is given to me in order that I might show how weighty God really is. Making Him famous. That's my doxology.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

speaking of platforms...

If you ever wonder what I think about as I am taking the stairs up to the platform on Sunday morning...Watch the whole thing.

changing platforms

We got a new computer last night. Let the headaches begin.

I spent hours reloading old software, trying to remember passwords that long ago left my mind, and getting used to a new system: Windows Vista. It's a challenge changing platforms--moving from one look, feel and way finding, to another one. Perhaps, in time, we'll get used to it.

Years ago, a Christian magazine spoke with me about writing an article on the topic of switching churches. They wanted a pastor's perspective on when it's right and not right to "switch platforms." Other responsibilities crowded out that article, but I have since thought about the topic. In every church I've served at, people have left. Sometimes, they left for good reason [like needing to replace your computer]. Other times, they changed churches for poor reasons [like the person who invests in a new computer because the beige electrical cords under the desk better coordinate with his off-white carpet].

As I think about the rationale for changing churches, two caveats shape my thinking. First, I endeavor to be theological. I try to base my decisions on what God says because my heart isn't always the best indicator of what is true and best. Second, I believe that the Body of Christ, locally and universally, is precious. Our unity trumps all personal preferences. Unity means that we work hard at reconciliation [see Matthew 5:23-24 and Matthew 28:15-17 ]. Unity means that see ourselves as thermostats changing the temperature around us, rather than thermometers, who report what's heating up, but do nothing to bring about solutions.

Some families have no choice but to change platforms. Perhaps a job exports them across the state and staying at a church isn't practical or possible. But, for the rest, booting up to a new system usually isn't the answer. God is more honored when we hold high the ever-changing, richly-diverse community called the church. It's hard work, I know. But it's essential for our own maturity, not to mention the mirror we become reflecting the grace of God to the world. So, as I struggle to configure my new computer tonight, pray for me. And I'll be praying for you. Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

close to home, closer to our hearts

One of the most impacting experiences of the last week at Pine Cove was the number of families attending camp from Fort Hood. Tiffany and I heard, firsthand, the price that soldiers and their families are willing to pay. This morning, in our second worship service, Pantego Bible Church prayed for Dr. Paul Phillips who is being deployed for Iraq on Saturday, August 25. The reality of war hits closer to home in our church community. When I got home, I received email notice than my nephew, Lance Corporal Adam Wroblski (pictured above), just left for a 4-6 week stint at Camp Penn. Then he leaves for 7-9 months in Iraq. Tiffany's stepbrother, Major Paul Hains, deploys in a couple of weeks. Much too close to home. Pray for our soldiers and their families. May God never let us lose sight of the price of freedom and the immense value of human life!

Friday, August 17, 2007

knocked out?

Tonight was the finale of Family Camp at Pine Cove. The staff and counselors did a grade-A job of taking care of families and showing us the heart of Jesus in action. What servants!

We ended our great week with a carnival of sorts. And, as I walked back to our cabin to turn in for the night, I reflected on the games we played. Counselors perched themselves above a dunk tank daring kids to throw their best shot. Tiffany and another wife "jousted" each other, trying to pummel each other off their respective pedestals. In 4-Square, players tried to catch one another off balance. And, in dodge ball, we ran to mid-court to pelt our opponents. Every game was about a "knock-out."

What was fun and games for campers is a spiritual reality for the Christian every day. We face unseen forces that attack our family, our ministry, our identity, our integrity, our purity, our destiny and our community. Satan is the enemy who lies in wait, looking to charge forward and throw the unsuspecting Believer off balance, off their foundation, out of their square and out of the game. How important for us to remember that we are at war. We must be vigilant....equipped by the Spirit, dependent in our position, protected by the Word (Ephesians 6:10-18).

A friend of mine used to sign his letters, "Stay in the Game." That's a good word. Watch what's getting thrown at you. Don't give up. Don't get knocked out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

order in the courts?

Have you watched the news today? The University of Florida has restricted Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity from being a campus organization on it's college campus. The reason: Beta Upsilon Chi (Brothers Under Christ) is a Christian men's organization. The fraternity faced similar hurdles on two other college campuses. When they moved toward legal action, the universities dusted off their copy of the United States Constitution and recognized the fraternity's freedom of religion. Today, Fox News has been covering the latest developments and the impending suit.

This hits especially close to home for me. In the Spring of 1985, I and 20 other friends started Beta Upsilon Chi (nicknamed BUX) on the University of Texas campus. Since then, the fraternity has multiplied into 21 chapters and God is doing an incredible work--far beyond what we founding fathers ever imagined when we began meeting weekly in the basement of University Christian Church. On the one hand, I'm sad that Christians have to battle for community. On the other hand, how exciting that our fraternity has gained such momentum that it has threatened spiritual forces who would prefer that Christians never gather in the name of Jesus. In the meantime, I remember that "the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord" (Proverbs 21:1) and God will determine the outcome.

always "on" discipleship

Our family has spent the last two days in the incredible surroundings of Pine Cove, sometimes serving and mostly being served. I'm grateful for the prayers of friends who have been supporting my ministry to about 40 families this week. This evening, I will present an evangelistic message on forgiveness.

One of the things that I have noticed during my time here is how the counselors at Pine Cove are always "on"--always enthusiastic, consistently helpful, faithfully God-centered. And, it affects people continually. They remind me that discipleship is not an event. It's a lifestyle. What I mean is, it's not something a person turns on an off. Truth is, we're always discipling others in one direction or another. This is especially true of us parents. Our children are always writing notes from our lives (even when we don't think they are). Someone once said that we are the clock tower that they set their time by. They learn how to respect others by the way we treat our waitress. They learn how to honor commitments by the way we honor our word to them. They learn the value of service when they watch us give up our place for others. They develop healthy relational tools when they watch us run toward reconciliation with others rather than run from our problems. Our words end up becoming their words. Our lives are impressed upon their lives.

Wow. That's a sobering thought. They're always watching. We're always on.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

outta here

This afternoon, the Daniels family heads to Pine Cove Christian Camp near Tyler to attend Family Camp at the Woods. I will be speaking 6 times to the adults [exploring several life-change questions that Jesus asked His disciples] and all of us hope to enjoy playing, eating, reading, relaxing and building relationships during the week. Please pray that God's Word ministers to those who attend and that our family grows together in Christ-likeness!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

while you were baking...

As you step out into the 100 degree temperatures today, keep your cool with this in mind. This was our home in Bloomington, Minnesota (January 2004).

Friday, August 10, 2007

on being human (part II)

You might have noticed two significant digs happening simultaneously this week. First, archaeologists in Kenya discovered a Homo hablis jawbone and a Homo erectus skull in the same region. What's the significance? Traditional evolutionary theories of the genus Homo suggest a successive progression: Homo habilis gave rise to Homo erectus, which then begat modern humans, Homo sapiens. However, now it appears possible that the first two co-existed. One didn't evolve from the other. [see the full article here]

At the same time, a second dig continued in the mountains of Huntington, Utah. Workers are drilling frantically trying to reach six miners trapped by a cave-in on Monday morning. News reports this morning were bittersweet: Signs that the cavity where the miners could be located had fresh oxygen, but also no signs of carbon dioxide--a sign of human life.

Both digs converge in one important fact: If human beings were nothing more than glorified primates that evolved from single-cell organisms, hundreds of workers wouldn't be pressing on through night hours to rescue them hundreds of feet below. But they do. And, the watching world waits anxiously, hoping that they will be found alive. Because human beings are more than just physical stuff. Made in the image of God, we are precious. And, we are worth the dig.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

on being human

The 9 p.m. drive home from Austin to Arlington last Sunday evening yielded some interesting conversation with my two sons. Somehow, we ventured into the subject of what it means to be human. Before you think too much of us, I admit that we ended our trip sharing inane junior high jokes.

We discussed the fact that human beings, made in the imago Dei (Genesis 1:26) are unique from animals and the rest of creation because we possess not only physical body, but a soul/spirit. That immaterial essence is what makes us moral, intellectual, relational, volitional, emotional and eternal. It's also what makes us valuable.

Monday morning, I stopped by the Arlington Pregnancy Center and was treated to a tour by Becky Hyde. The center provides pregnancy services, care and counseling for expectant mothers. The highlight of my time there was a demonstration of their sonogram equipment which has the ability to show a "4-D" image to expectant mothers. I thank God for ministries like APC that graciously and gently seek to protect human life! Soli Deo Gloria.

filled cups

This week, Grant and Pearson have been staying with my parents at their home on Cedar Creek Lake. We settled on a four day visit and I secretly hoped they would at least make it two. You just never know how an iPod generation will fare lounging on the back porch watching the sun come up.

Pearson called me last night. "How ya' doin' bud?" I asked.

"Dad, can't even imagine how great it's been! We went to a movie with Meemaw and Peepaw and before that we went to the store and bought a shirt for school and last night we went fishing and caught four fish but three of them died so we're going to go fishing for more and we just got finished eating baked catfish and corn and baked beans and this morning Meemaw made her homemade cinnamon rolls and we had lasagna last night and macaroni and cheese for lunch and Peepaw taught us a new game called "Joker" and tomorrow we're going to do some more cool stuff..."

His emotional cup was to the brim. And, the funny thing is, we had bought him a shirt recently, went to the movies last weekend, and frequently eat macaroni and cheese. But, for the last two days, his eyes and heart were especially open.

God, open my eyes to see who You are and the great things You have done. Fill my heart to the brim with wonders of Your marvelous works so that, at the end of my day, I declare how great You are! "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (Psalm 34:8)

Monday, August 6, 2007

1000 memories

The family and I spent the last 36 hours in Austin, visiting with our friends at First Evangelical Free Church where I used to be on staff. I preached on Sunday and we all attended the wedding of very dear friends, Greg O'Brien and his class-act wife, Ginger. It was a not-surpising beautiful Laguna Gloria event officiated by the Nazarite-vowed-long-haired Derek Baker (gosh, I love this guy!) followed by a reception with faces and conversations that brought back thousands of memories for all of us Daniels. Our lives continue to move forward, changing, growing, shifting. But, when we get together, it's like nothing has changed. Thanks to everyone who reminded us again that we are deeply loved. We thank God for you!

Friday, August 3, 2007

the mourning after

How many times did I travel the I35 bridge over the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul? The recent collapse and personal stories that rise from the wreckage made me think of two things as I read this morning's paper. First, families are experiencing the mourning of unexpected loss. None of us know when the bridge will break beneath us and life will come to a sudden end. Carpe diem.

Second, I imagine the mourning of unfulfilled mission. This is the unfortunate effect of the first cause for many people. Thinking that tomorrow will surely yield another opportunity, they put off doing the thing they were made to do today. Carpe manana.

Consider my friend that I recently heard from. He and I met over scrambled eggs and coffee more than a year ago. He's a top-notch businessman, strategic thinker and passionate follower of Jesus. But, he had not been able to unscramble his life mission. I just received word that he and his wife have taken a position as camp managers of a Young Life camp in New York state. Why? Because he knows that this is what he was made for. He is leaving cash, comfort and community behind to live life on purpose. Carpe diem.

I have one life to live. Only one. Bookended between arrival and departure, I have time on loan to do what I was created to do. It's not like a shovel that I have borrowed from a neighbor or a video that I have rented for the weekend and is due back in two days. Life is a finite amount of precious time that must be seized deliberately, passionately, fully.

In John 17:4, Jesus said, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." And, on the cross, He said, "It is finished." That's different from the words many others might ask: "Is it finished?" I want to worship God by living on purpose. Carpe diem. Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

what is the church?

I was led to pull Robert Lewis' The Church of Irresistible Influence off my shelf and thumb through the pages again. Highlighted on page 41 are these words:

"I believe a fitting description for the church would be this: a community of people who stand firm in the truth over time against the raging currents of opposition and who present living proof of a loving God to a watching world."

The church is a community, not just a congregation. The church is bounded by truth, not a tradition. The church weathers the currents of culture, but doesn't escape culture. The church is living proof of God, not just the verbal proclamation of God. No wonder the church was designed to have irresistible influence!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

the contradiction of the cross

I recall an old folk song that declares that there is "power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb." I'm so familiar with it that it takes a moment for me to see the human absurdity in it. Power in the blood? Blood is violation. Blood is weakness. Blood is defeat. Blood is death. Where's the power in that?

This monring, Colossians 2:15 came to life for me. Paul assures Christians, "And, having disarmed the powers and authorities, [Jesus] made a spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross." Wait a minute. Are we talking about the same Jesus who was accused, beaten, spat upon, humiliated, pierced, strung up and abandoned? That hardly sounds like someone on their way to winning State Title. But, it was only through the cross that the enemy was crushed. Jesus fulfilled the Law and conquered sin, humiliated Satan and defeated death. At His weakest, Jesus was mightier that the enemy at his fiercest. It's upside down, I confess. But then, there's no mistaking who gets the glory.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

project "e"

For those who heard Pastor Keith Smith's sermon on encouragement last Sunday, don't forget to check out his blog:

white space

Since setting up this blog, I've been trying to figure out how to reduce the enormous margin on the left side of the page. Truth is, I'm guilty of that in my life...filling the white space with things that end up leaving me crowded, crammed, busy, exhausted. On the other hand, I thrive when I rediscover margin.

Case in point: Two nights ago, Tiffany and I found ourselves on the back porch, each reading our respective books (ME: God is the Gospel; HER: Same Kind of Different As Me). Storms rolled into Arlington and, as the torrent of rain washed my backyard, we enjoyed an unusual peace. Relaxation in the middle of a rainstorm. Enjoying life while lightning flashed around us. That's the way I want to live. Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). While life thunders about me, I continue to learn the importance of margin to give me room for real life and rest in Christ.

Monday, July 30, 2007

posting 101

Many of us are new to don't feel like a fish out of water. Want to comment on any post you see here? Simply click on the tiny words under this paragraph [0 COMMENTS]. A comment box will pop up and you can enter your comments. You have 3 options to submit your comment:

1. Enter your Blogger name and password if you have one
2. Click "Other" and enter Your Name and (as website...or choose another)
3. Click "Anonymous" and you don't have to make yourself known. But hey, I'd like to know who's thinking with me!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

God is the gospel

John Piper is a spiritual hero. But, he's like eating a delicious fish dinner. You have to pick out a few bones once in a while in order to enjoy the taste. I am picking my way through God is the Gospel--a weighty read in only 175 pages. Bottom line: The "good news" of the Gospel isn't salvation. It isn't life transformation. It isn't even eternity.


The good news is God Himself. I cannot confuse the gifts God gives that are intended to magnify Himself and cause me to discover the all-surpassing beauty of God...for God Himself. The Gospel message is that God enables us to savor and be satisfied in Him. 'nuff said.

first day on the blog

OK. I'm web savy, and have enjoyed the blogs of others. But, I have been slow in creating a forum to post things that rattle around upstairs. Keith Smith pushed me. Truth is, he got ahead of me and now my hand is forced. Hope you enjoy it. I look forward to the dialogue. Soli Deo Gloria!