Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Holiday prayers...

Let me share with you three groups of people to be sensitive and to pray for during the holidays.

The first group is one that we often do remember: those who have lost loved ones. The first holidays without someone you love are very difficult. sometimes you realize that you set one plate too many. Sometimes it is a favorite movie or song, or a gift that reminds you of the one who is not there. Sometimes it is during the prayers when you thank God for their life and influence that the feeling of loss and pain are the most intense.

Many of us love holidays because we have families that love each other, worship together, eat lots, laugh lots, and focus on how blessed we are to have each other. Some people don't have that. Some have to deal with blended families, and custody issues, and divorce consequences. Others have serious family estrangement issues. Some don't even have family to share the holidays with. Remember them.

Finally, remember the new Christians this holiday season. I am talking about those converted from outside the church. We are beginning to have more and more of those here at SH. Some face ridicule, insults, or persecution from family members. Others have to enter an environment hostile to their new lifestyle as Christians. Their family gatherings may involve too much alcohol, no worship, no praying, much profanity, and other things that are dear to the world. They are trying to leave that life. It is hard for them to remain strong.

If none of these apply to you, thank the Lord for your blessings. If they do, we love you and are praying for you. Let me know and I will say a special prayer for you. If you know someone in one of these situations... then pray, be sensitive, be there for them in any way you can.

As for me... family, food, ballgames, hunting, grandkids, games, laughter, and worship. But pain for the Allens, concern for some of our new Christians, and no Remington.

But whatever comes this season, or in the seasons to come -- I have a great life and give God the glory for what He has done and will do.

Until the holiday season of heaven comes... enjoy these next few days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Thinking about our mission...

It is healthy for every church to periodically focus on it's mission -- it's purpose for being. I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately as we at Southern Hills embark on an ambitious building program and as we continue to have multiple worship assemblies focusing on differing communication styles. It is easy for the projects and programs to become the mission. If they do, they will fail. Change becomes threatening and unhealthy if it does not clearly fit with the mission. So, for me, here are some quick thoughts about what I think should be our mission at Southern Hills.

Seek and save the lost. Buildings need to be functional as tools to funnel visitors and seekers to an encounter with the family of God. Assemblies are not designed to convert people, they are designed for the family to worship the Father together. But if we are reaching the lost, we will a lot of new Christians among us. How easy is it for them to get what we, and now them, should be doing?

Reclaim the fallen. We have lots of Christians in Abilene who have given up on church. I don't mean left our fellowship for another... I mean they don't see the relevance of church to their life. If we continue to do the same things in the same ways we will continue to get the same results. I am not so much interested in making it comfortable or easy for the faithful Christian to worship. I am very interested in making it comfortable and easy for the weak ones interested in coming home.

Disciple and equip university students. God has placed us in a position to have great influence on the church of the next 50 years. What are we doing about it? Do I mean that we should cater to the young? I don't want to cater to anyone, but I do think we better be about the business of making disciples and equipping these young adults to live faithful in this world. If not, we do not have to worry about the future of the church. Just continue to focus on what we older Christians want and in a few years it won't matter.

Well, just my thoughts. But these things are why I support the building program -- and I am not much of a fan of buildings. But I think we get why we should do this. And that is why I support Daybreak, Refresh, Sundown, Home Gatherings, and HIP. They are ways to more effectively enable us to make disciples, reclaim the fallen, and equip our students.

We are on the right track for the mission as I see it.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Goodbye Remington

Many of you have come to know Remington, our Golden Retriever, over the last 13 years. He first belonged to Joe Don and then we inherited him. Many of you remember him from the back porch counseling sessions when he would sit right in the middle of us. He liked to be part of the prayer circles in the Living Room. He provided lots of good sermon illustrations and has been the subject of articles and programs.

I always felt good about having Rem home when I had to leave town. I knew he would protect Marsha with his life. I always liked coming home to see him. His tail always wagged and he always smiled at me. He was a good running buddy and always glad to listen when I needed to talk things thru.

Over the last two weeks, he suffered several strokes and we finally realized his quality of life was not fair to him. So Jim, our friend and Vet, put him down. I want to thing he is running in the fields of a new creation with Jaxon, Bella, Sandy, Winston, and all the other dogs we have loved and had to see leave this life.

Marsha has grieved over him because I was out of town the day he died. When her little buddy Jaxon, the dog we inherited from Julie, died, Marsha still had Rem. Now we have no dogs. And he was her last connection with when the kids were at home. And he kept her company when was out on my preaching trips.

So we're sad. But we have great memories. He was great with the grandkids. He was glad to see all of you when you came to the house. He was the best dog we ever had.

He was a great dog and a good friend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Prayers for the Allen family

My heart is heavy this morning. Ben Allen, son of one of my fellow elders, passed away suddenly last evening. He was in one of the med schools in Houston.

Garrett Turner, son of another Southern Hills family and also in one of the med schools in Houston, was with Ben at the hospital when he died. He too is in my thoughts and prayers.

I'm sad for all my friends who are in pain -- Ben's extended family, friends, our Southern Hills family.

I'm glad for Jesus and the promise of heaven. I'm glad we have each other.

What do those in the world do who have no hope?

This family will be united again. Thank God.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Election thoughts...

Random thoughts from the election.

Barack Obama won on the force of his personality. It approaches cult status. Very cool way to win, very difficult to live up to expectations as a President. He is a man...not really sure he is the "chosen one".

McCain gave a great concession speech. Not sure who was the real McCain: the one who gave a gracious, bipartisan, healing speech, or the one who ran a negative, divisive campaign.

I worry about Christians who got so angry about this election. I worry about Christians who cried about the result. Have we cried those same tears over our sins, or over a lost and dying world?

I know Christians distraught over the results and I know Christians ecstatic over the results. Will we still be in fellowship? Remember, our fellowship splintered once before over politics -- the north/south division during and after the civil war. And I don't buy the theory that we divided over instrumental music, missionary society, or whether Christians could serve in the military. Every one of those issues had a north-south division.

Why has there been so little coverage of the marriage amendment results in California, Florida, and Arizona. Same sex marriage defeated. Could make for an interesting next few years between federal and state decisions.

I love politics and election coverage. As an alien in this country (my citizenship is in heaven) I am fascinated and interested. But the good news is that this election really does not change anything. I still think God is in control. Always has been, always will be.

If you want to read some interesting thinking about Christianity and politics, check out my friend Tim Archer's blog here. Check some of his recent posts.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


More thoughts on vision...

Several of you have asked about the Biblical foundation for the kind of church I would like to be a part of... so here goes.

The core doctrine would be the gospel as seen in I Corinthians 15: that Jesus died for our sins, he was buried, and he rose on the third day. That's it for the theology. I would want us to study, be in the Word, and be people of the book. But if one someone asks about our theology... well, that would be it.

We would call individuals to share in that gospel by being crucified with Christ and raised to new life in baptism. Being part of our church requires you to die. It is a commitment to live as a slave of Jesus. Romans 6: 3ff

We would participate in the gospel together as a body by sharing his body and blood in the Lord's Supper. I Corinthians 10: 16-17

We would commit to make disciples in this world. Matthew 28:18-20

That's it. That's the theological basis for the church I want to be part of. All the other details could be worked out and I suspect they would look slightly different in different congregations. But that's all. The gospel: believe it, share in it with Jesus, share in it with each other, share it others so they can be part of us.

My vision for church. Not much on slogans, plans, rules, opinions, details, programs, and mechanics.

Feel free to comment. Or not.

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