And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


GETTING BACK IN SHAPE

One of the goals this year was to shed some weight and to get back (at least) to where I was when I moved to San Antonio nearly five years ago. This is a noble endeavor as are all endeavors for health, but this one has the added burden of being attempted in the enchilada center of the universe. Did I mention how much I love Mexican food? Someone needs to put together a manual for new arrivals to San Antonio with at least one caveat about the enormous calorie-intake potentials at the local Mexican eateries. No one told me eating a bowl of chips with salsa before the meal was like eating a loaf of bread. Lesson learned.

So, I'm getting back in shape. I still have a long way to go but I'm making progress. I also have the help of a wonderful trainer who I not only knows what she is doing but motivates me to think twice about everything I put in my mouth. If I don't, I will pay for it the next day. Some things you just can't hide.

The strategy boils down essentially to these three things:

1. Physical training - both cardio and weight training

2. Eating right - no more junky, fatty, empty foods. Only "clean" foods that are nutritious. I have learned to window shop at Whole Foods.

3. Breathing - believe it or not we all need to learn/relearn how to breathe.

The goal is to take off a couple of pounds per week which is happening. The amazing thing is that I have not had to go without any food. I might be onto something.

BUMPER STICKER OF THE DAY

Seen in in San Antonio:

"I do whatever the Twinkies say"


CLEANING UP THE CLUTTER

A few weeks back I came home and found the hugely anticipated yellow flyer hanging on my front door. It was the city of San Antonio communicating what day they would be in my neighborhood helping me to minimize residential clutter. And so last Saturday the family and I cut down limbs from the many trees on our property and hauled them out to the curb. It’s amazing how nice the yard looks but you’ll have to wait until the mountain of limbs and leaves are hauled away before you can see it. You know, I really like this service the city provides. I like it a lot. Once or twice a year it’s good to have an opportunity to take a look around and deal with the clutter that has, well, cluttered up the scenery. I know some people may not like the idea because they feel it creates work for them but I really like the idea. It's not that I'm much of a minimalist but I think it’s healthy to look around from time to time and decide what needs to stay and what needs to go.

And what is good for yards, garages and desks is also good for the soul. Sometimes I think are lives get so cluttered with activities and unnecessary responsibilities that the true meaning of life gets hidden away behind all the limbs and leaves where it’s hard to see it. Or, at least, the things that have meaning do not nearly get the attention they deserve.

I ran across this old Celtic (I love to say "KELTIC")prayer that speaks from the heart for a lot of us.

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life.
To organize myself in the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart;
teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it.
Lord, i give you these stirrings inside me,
I give you my discontent,
I give you my restlessness,
I give you my doubt,
I give you my despair,
I give you all the longings i hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth;
to listen seriously and follow where they lead
through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.

That's a good prayer. Happy uncluttering!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


WORDS FOR MOM

MOTHER’S DAY IS COMING UP SOON AND I HOPE YOU ARE ALREADY THINKING OF WAYS YOU CAN HONOR HER. BELIEVE IT OR NOT I LOOK FORWARD TO MOTHER’S DAY BECAUSE AS A FATHER OF TWO CHILDREN I SEE THE IMPACT THE IRREPLACEABLE LOVE OF A MOTHER HAS ON HER CHILDREN. AND BEING A MOM IS HARD AND SEEMINGLY ENDLESS WORK AND IT’S EASY TO BECOME DISCOURAGED BY ALL THE PRESSURE YOU FEEL. FOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES LET ME SHARE WITH YOU SOME THINGS WORTH REMEMBERING ABOUT BEING A MOM. FIRST, EVERY CHILD IS RAISED BY IMPERFECT PARENTS. ALL PARENTS MAKE MISTAKES. THAT’S REALITY. STOP PUTTING NEEDLESS PRESSURE ON YOURSELF TO BE PERFECT. ONLY GOD IS THE PERFECT PARENT. SO SECONDLY, NEVER STOP LEARNING TO IMPROVE YOUR PARENTING SKILLS. CHILDREN CAN PRESENT INTERESTING CHALLENGES TO SAY THE LEAST. AND AS THEY DEVELOP INTO ADULTS THROUGH THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF LIFE, SO YOU NEED TO CONTINUE DEVELOPING AS A PARENT. THIRD, REMEMBER THE MATURE LEADS THE IMMATURE. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH CHILDREN BEING IMMATURE. THEY’RE CHILDREN. THAT’S WHY THEY NEED YOU TO LEAD THEM. NUMBER FOUR, WATCH YOUR USE OF HUMOR. HUMOR THAT IS USED TO MASK CRUELTY IS CRUEL AND NOT FUNNY.FIFTH, YOUR CHILDREN NEED SPIRITUAL AND MORAL TRAINING. GOD IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOUR CHILDREN NEED TO KNOW. AND THEY ALSO NEED TO LEARN HOW TO LIVE IN LIGHT OF THAT KNOWLEDGE. NUMBER SIX, INTENTIONALLY POINT OUT THE GOOD IN YOUR CHILDREN. MANY TIMES THE WORLD IS BETTER AT POINTING OUT SHORTCOMINGS THAN STRONG POINTS. REMEMBER THAT THE POSITIVE THING YOU SAY TO YOUR CHILD MAY BE THE ONLY POSITIVE THING THEY HEAR ABOUT THEMSELVES ALL DAY. SEVENTH, DON’T FORGET TO TEACH THE REALITY OF CONSEQUENCES. A CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW THAT POOR DECISIONS CAN LEAD TO SOME TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES IN THEIR LIFE. AND FINALLY, NUMBER EIGHT, REMEMBER WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT. IT’S SO EASY TO BECOME DISTRACTED WITH RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE POINT THAT PARENTING TAKES A BACK SEAT. BUT IN THE END, PARENTING IS ABOUT BUILDING A PERSON, A HEALTHY, WHOLE HUMAN BEING. AND YOUR WORKAS A PARENT…AS A MOTHER IS IRREPLACEABLE. AND THAT IS WHY WE HONOR YOU.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

BUMPER STICKER SEEN IN SAN ANTONIO

Pro Wife
(I don't have a choice)

GETTING FOCUSED

This past Sunday we (meaning the staff and shepherds) announced that in an effort to address the five biblical areas of the church's mission, we would be realigning and restructuring our staff as well as hiring two additional ministers to become part of our ministry team. All of this is our attempt to be much more focused in our ministries with the hopeful product being greater effectiveness and excellence in our ministries.

The five areas are: Worship, Ministry, Fellowship, Evangelism and Discipleship. These can be found in the biblical texts we call The Great Commandment and the The Great Commission.

I will continue to preach and teach as well as work with our worship (and with our worship leader, Ben). I will add to my list of responsibilities the area of evangelism and outreach.

Richard will transition slowly from youth and family to what we are calling the "Congregational Life Minister." His responsibilities will be to help our church administer better our ministies, communication needs, technology and ministry development.

Douglas will continue to work with our adults in various ways but now with the official title of Minister of Adult Discipleship. His duties will continue to be to oversee adult education and involvement but the emphasis will be to make disciples of our adults.

Tamra, our newest staff member (one year anniversary coming up!)will serve as Director of Children's ministries.

With the addition of two new staff members, we will once again have six full time ministers on board.

Our congregation has been challenged to pray three times a day during the entire month of May as we begin the search process. This is to also include fasting for those who choose to do so.

May God grant us His favor.

It is amazing to me the things you miss in life unless you happen to be looking with the right kind of eyes and notice them. For example, I was stopped at a crosswalk at a local elementary school just as school let out. And while I was sitting there in my car I noticed that the woman who was serving as the crossing guard was very popular with all the kids. As they walked by her they would reach out and touch her on the arm to say, "hello." A couple of children as they walked by held up their school pictures and you could tell from the smile on the crossing guard’s face that she was communicating to these small ones that she thought they were just terrific. And I thought to myself as I sat in the traffic that here is a woman who is not only making sure these children get across the street safely but at the same time letting them know that they mattered. She’s at the crosswalk for awhile in the morning and awhile in the afternoon and all the while making a difference. And then there was the young man—probably a college student—walking up to the entrance of the local HEB who on his way grabbed a shopping cart someone had left in the middle of a parking spot and pushed it up to the front of the store and left it with the rows of other carts while he went into the store. Again I thought to myself, here is such a small thing…moving a cart out of a parking spot, getting it out of the way so that it doesn’t chip the paint on someone’s car…it’s small but it made a huge difference in someone's day. And have you noticed how polite people can be coming and going from the local starbucks…smiling and holding open the door for you. An instant of politness. Little acts of kindness. A brief encounter with courteousness. A brush with charity. When Jesus talks of going the extra mile, he not only means those moments that call for great sacrifice but also every degree in between that brings goodness, decency and rightness into everyday life.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Here is a John Updike poem about the Resurrection entitled Seven Stanzas

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Texas Still Alive

You never know which team will show up but so far the Longhorns have played good ball and, if they continue to play such, will meet for the second time this season Duke (in the Elite Eight). If the team that showed up for the early season match up appears on the court for the tournament game I am afraid Duke will romp to another forty point win. But if the physical, hard-charging, athletically blessed team shows then who knows...

Stopped in Mid Stampede

It has been sometime since the last post which is another way of saying my mind has been going full tilt with other issues and unfortunately, this leaves no time for writing. When I get into these veins of mega-activity I usually find myself not concentrating as I should on my readings. And then, all of a sudden, I run across a piece of writing that stops me in mid-stampede. I just read a very moving piece about an E.R. doctor who ministers to a miserably soiled homeless man not in the name of medicine but in the name of Jesus. You can read it for yourself at http://missionrus.blogspot.com/2006/03/er-jesus-homeless-schizo.html. I am thankful for such pieces as they come to me, causing me to stop, and to reflect on how the cross is not merely an example to follow but an achievement to be worked out in each of our individual lives. I could not help but think of the true power of the gospel when it has truly captured out hearts.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Top Starbucks in San Antonio
The Starbucks coffee shops around San Antonio have become in some respects satellite offices for me. The reasons are simple. First, they provide a great atmosphere for reading uninterruptedly which is a necessary of component of each day. And secondly, there are times when folks who wish to see me for counseling purposes would rather go to a neutral site. Being seen arriving in the middle of the week at the preacher's office can be a daunting task for some. So, over the last few years I have had the opportunity to sample the ambiance of nearly all the Starbucks in the area and here are my favorites.

1. Nacogdoches and New Braunfels (inside Loop 410): By far the best Starbucks in my opinion in San Antonio. They always get the coffee right, the staff is the most pleasureable to interact with and it's not far from the office. Their entire store is predominately windows which makes it an optimal place for reading. And besides, Oak Park is a great area of the city.

2. West Avenue and Lockhill Selma: Again, another great place for meeting or reading. They do a great job with the coffee and have adequate space for meeting people. Late last year, I arranged for a group of our Worship Technology fellas to meet with a donor to talk about improvements which could be made to the sound system of our auditorium as well as (and especially) upgrading some recording technology. This store provided a great relaxed place for that to happen.

3. Broadway (Broadway and Austin Highway): They have a great area in the back of the store where one can read and think without being disturbed.

4. The Quarry: They have the best patio area which makes a great place to meet with groups. The Quarry store is where I have met with the single/college group from church for years. We have had as many as 18-20 out on their patio enjoying each others' company. During the cooler months of the year, they have placed space heaters on the patio to take a bit of the chill out of the air. The only downside is that it is also an extremely busy store. The timing has to be just right to get enough chairs. In general they are quick to get the coffee to you as well.

I feel the need for caffeine comming on.

Prayer for Monday
My God and Father: The week stretches out and I see before me each opportunity for ministry and I lift them up to You for Your blessing. I beg for Your wisdom, discernment, tender compassion and mercy to fill each of these moments with Your grace. I also pray for each unforeseen interruption that will come as surely as You give us time. Patience I ask for. May all be done with one thing in mind: Your Glory! Amen

The nearness of God, that is my good. Psalm 73:28 (NASB)