Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Joe Don's birthday tribute

My son Joe Don had a birthday yesterday.  So as is my tradition... here is why I love him and am proud of him.

He is a man of God.  Every father and son talk about things and give advice -- tho I notice that more and more I am the one asking for advice -- and we do too.  Every time, JD asks the God questions.  What honors God, what would Jesus do, what is the thing to do that loves God and loves my neighbor.

He shares his faith.  He talks with people about Jesus.  He encourages Christians, he engages non-Christians, and he does both with love and integrity.

He is a great husband.  He is still deeply in love with Jamie.  Still enjoys being with her.  Makes her more important than anything in his life except Jesus.

Great Dad.  Anna is going to know what a Christian husband looks like.  She knows she is loved and valued.  Andrew and Austin see every day what a Christian man looks like.  Strong, firm, gentle, loving, and fun.

I already see a lot of JD in his boys.  And that is a good thing.

Work is not his life.  He is successful and evidently a really good lawyer.  But that is not his identity.

He still loves life.  I have always loved that about JD.  Hanging out with him is fun.  His nephews and nieces adore him and love it when he is around to mess with them.

He is a good friend.  For as long as I can remember, people have told me how much they appreciate his friendship and  how he has made a difference in their life.

He is not perfect.  I love that about him too.  He is real.  He is transparent, and he is genuine.

So I look forward to watching what God does with Joe Don and his family.

It will be amazing.

So thanks God for blessing me with a son like JD.  Bless his family.  Give him many years to do Kingdom business in this world.  Keep molding him into the image of your Son.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Flesh and Blood Christianity

I have been thinking about flesh and blood Christianity lately.  One of the problems in early church history came from a group of people teaching that flesh was evil.  They even denied that God's Son came in the flesh.  The apostle John calls such people the anti-Christ.  I do not hear much theology that is anti-flesh and blood.  But I do think in practical terms we sometimes would rather our Christianity be not so real, not so physical.  So I have been thinking about how real, how physical, how flesh and blood our Christianity really is.

Of course it starts with the fact that God sent Jesus in the flesh.  He lived here.  He ate, he slept, he got tired, he enjoyed parties.  He hugged little kids, he touched lepers, he often healed people by touching them.  He cried real tears.  He hung on a real cross with real nails and a spear.  He bled.  He died.  He rose from the dead to live.  And he had the scars to prove it.

God did not send theology to save us.  Or rules.  Or doctrine.  When he wanted to redeem us, he sent his son in the flesh.

Baptism is a physical event. It may be based on love and faith, but it is physical.  Dying with Jesus, being buried with him, being raised to new life, sins forgiven, Holy Spirit received, lives changed.  Those happen in a literal baptism/immersion into water.  It is a real, actual event that can be felt and can be witnessed.

Communion is physical.  Declaring the death of Jesus until he comes, sharing again in his death, uniting around real bread and wine.  Eating and drinking his body and his blood.  Together.  Not in isolation, not just in our minds, but real, physical wine and bread that we actually eat and drink.

Fellowship is physical.  Holy kisses.  Hands of fellowship.  Common meals.  Laying on hands.  You do not do these internally or all by yourself.

Worship is physical.  Bowing, lifting holy hands, reading the Word aloud, Singing together aloud.  Praying aloud.  Passing that bread and wine among us.

So is our service in the world.  Feeding the hungry, healing the sick, doing for others.  Physical needs met with real hands.

Things done from the heart but not just in the heart.  Conscious choices that are acted upon.  Active.

Not passive worship, Not just send a check help,  Not just a mental and emotional acceptance of Jesus.  Not invisible fellowship.


Being physical.  Living aloud our faith.  Seeing each other and being seen by the world.

It is real.

A real God who sent a real Son into a real world to save real people.

Flesh and blood Christianity.

Don't deny it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


A Call for Christians to Act

A group of believers at a Bible study.  A man consumed with hate, not love.  Nine dead.

So what do we make of something that horrific.  Especially as a Christian who realizes that could happen to us.  And who believes in a very real sense, it did happen to us.

Remember that we live in a fallen world full of evil and darkness.  Do not let this tragedy be cheapened by making it a question of race -- of black and white.  As Christians, we know it is bigger than that.

Racism is evil.  Hate is evil.  Murder is evil.  These are the works of Satan.

We believe that God gave his Son to redeem this world.  We are the light shining into a dark world so God and Jesus may be seen.

We love God.  We love each other.  And we love our neighbors.

So pray for that church, for the families of the victims, and for the one who followed evil.

But more than that, I am calling Christians to action.

But not with the weapons of the world.  Not by having armed guards at church.  Not by legislation.  But by the power of Jesus.

Live your faith courageously in this world.  Do not let this discourage you or cause you to retreat.

Live your faith boldly in this world.

Make a friend of someone who is lonely.  Share a meal.  Demonstrate racial equality by how you treat all men.  Visit the hospital.  Pray with someone.

Speak about Jesus.  Do service in his name.  Give God glory in public ways.

Worship boldly.  Sing loudly.  Commune as family.  Speak God words together courageously.

Bring people to Jesus.  Invite to worship.  Share your story.  Serve coffee with a Jesus story.

Reclaim the fallen.  Go into the pigpen and beg the prodigal to come home.  And hold his hand till he gets there.

Do not apologize.  Do not retreat.  We are at war with Satan.  Attack.  Be willing to die for your faith.
I died with Christ to be born again.  And as a follower of Jesus I am called to go into a dark world and make other followers.  And so I will until I am home.

It is scary.  It is risky.  It is hard.

And it is what Jesus did when he came after you.  And he will be with us.

Live, love, serve, speak.

Now and forever.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


How I know the church is not dying...instead I think it may be thriving

These were random conversations and events over the past couple of weeks that make me optimistic about the future of the church.

I was at a restaurant and ran into Brent Isbell, preacher at University church of Christ in Abilene.  He told me they had just baptized a young married couple.  I go to a different congregation in Abilene but I was excited that somebody was sharing their faith at University.

And I am still excited about what God is doing on Long Island.  Lots of commitments to talk about Jesus and to share their faith.  Lots of studies happening from the Hope for Life campaign last week.

I saw pictures from Live Beyond in Haiti.  They were of people being baptized.  I love Live Beyond because they are healing the sick and proclaiming the good news.  Southern Hills has a number of our people involved and my daughter-in-law, Jamie, has been there with the Hills church of Christ.  Lives are being saved.  Literally forever.

I just scheduled another Can I Tell You a Story seminar.  That makes four for this fall.  These are churches that want to be motivated and equipped to share their faith.  Churches in Chicago, Tulsa, Minneapolis, and Manhattan, KS.

And then my son-in-law Bobby visited with me about one of his baseball boys.  The young man is thinking about giving his life to Jesus and wants Coach Bobby to baptize him.  Love it when your family discussions are about helping people decide to follow Jesus.

All over the world there are people giving of their time, energy, money, talent -- giving themselves -- to share the good news of Jesus.

Churches that "get it."  People that care.  Making a difference now and forever.

What about the church and the future?

Looks good to me.

So thanks God for letting me get a glimpse of so many of your people making a difference in your world.  Help us see opportunities to share your son's story, give us the right words to use and the courage to speak them.   

Tuesday, June 09, 2015


Bobby Gilbreth had a birthday

Sunday was our son-in-law, Bobby Gilbreth's birthday.  Here are some things I love and appreciate about Bobby.

He married Julie and they gave us Jake and Avery.  Love those Grands and so thankful they are part of our family.

He loves baseball.  That's good because so does Julie and all our family.  He is serving this year as President of Wylie Little League and he is coaching Jake's team.

I have seen him work hard at being fair and honest.  His work and efforts have made money for that League.  He takes pride not just in how good they are but in how things operate and how they look.  He was instrumental in bringing one of the major state tournaments to Wylie this year.

And two things I appreciate about his coaching.  Every year his teams have a Bible verse inscribed on their caps.  And they pray before every game.  That is the only time some of those boys get to pray.

I am proud of him when Julie is sick and he brings Jake and Avery to church.  And proud when he and Julie taught Bible class with Mimi.

But I have to tell you my favorite memory from Bobby's birthday Sunday.  I looked down our row at church and saw him taking Communion with Grandpa, Marsha's 87 year old Dad.  I will remember that for a long time..

So God, bless Bobby.  Thanks for the incredible gifts you gave him in Julie, Jake, and Avery.  Bless him as a Dad and a husband.  Thanks for good times at the ballpark.  And help our whole family grow to be more like you.

Thursday, June 04, 2015


God is at work on Long Island

I am spending this week in a Hope for Life campaign up in Long Island.  Just thought I would share a few thoughts.

Every church of Christ on the Island is involved.  They have all had members attend, all of their preachers have been involved, and they all have representation on the Steering Committee.  This is a great example of churches in unity on the core beliefs and willing to agree to disagree on all other issues.  I wish we could learn that in some other places.

There is something special about Christians gathering together.  Sunday and Wednesday night were two of the largest gatherings many could remember.  Watching them visit, sing, hug, laugh, and cry together has been inspiring.

They are passionate about reaching lost people for Jesus.  Love it when I am encouraged to preach evangelistic sermons.

I am sharing preaching duties with Walter Maxwell.  He is an older African American preacher on the Island.  He was converted in the Sixties by some of the Exodus Bayshore group.  This was an effort most have forgotten about and there was some criticism at the time.  A number of Christians intentionally moved to Long Island with the intention of starting congregations in the neighborhoods where they located.  They got jobs and began talking about Jesus.  I really do not know much else about this effort, but the good done by Walter over the past 50 years makes the whole effort worth it.  You never know what God will do with our efforts.

We are doing the campaign in both English and Spanish.  Love that intentionality.

Having visitors, Bible studies, and baptisms.

Here a couple of conversations I have had that help me remember why I love what I do.

One was a lady who has not been going to church but decided to come for this.  Hearing about how Christians do life together helped her realize why she needs to be involved in a local community of faith.

And the gentleman who wanted to know more about being born again and how to handle the indifference of his family should he make that decision.  And love the fact that the co-worker who invited him has been talking to him about Jesus and is already setting up times to continue sharing Jesus stories.

This is the vision for the church:  followers making followers.  Doing life together.  Telling our world that God loves them and Jesus died for them  Inviting them to join with us in the mission of Jesus.

Thanks God for letting me partner with you in the gospel.  You saved me and I am blessed to be ;your child and to invite others into our family.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015


Julie had a birthday yesterday...

Our Julie had her birthday yesterday and as always, I want to take a moment and share why I love her and why I am so proud of her.

Julie is a fighter.  Those of you that know us, know that Julie had horrible health issues the last three years or so.  They could not identify what was wrong and it was a long journey of Doctors, hospitals, and tests.  When they did think they had a diagnosis, it was bad:  congestive heart failure, cancer, and things I cannot pronounce or spell.  Thank God that they were wrong about most of these.  And today she is healthier than she has been in the last 5 or 6 years.  Still don't know everything that went wrong, but they are treating symptoms and we are thanking God.  But here is the thing -- Julie never gave up.  Kept working as a nurse, kept being a wife and Mom.  Kept fighting.

She is a fighter for her faith too.  Not just faith challenges because of health, but anytime life does not turn out like you thought, it is easy to blame God and quit.  Life is hard for all of us.  Julie inspires me to keep on keeping on because I have seen how she does not quit loving God, nor will she give up her faith in Jesus.

She is #3 in a line of 4 amazing women.  Granny, Marsha's Mom, and Julie are really connected.  Julie and Mimi (Marsha) talk every day.  And Avery, Julie's girl, is being molded and mentored by all three of the generations above her.  Julie loves her fam.

She is a nurse because she has a heart for the hurting.  She has always been a collector of the hurting, the lonely, and those in trouble.  Stray animals, kids, and people have always been part of her life.  Love her for that.  Love that in her choice to work at the school she is at now.  Lots of underprivileged kids.

Jules is passionate to share Jesus with our world.  She listens to the hurting. She shares her spiritual journey.  She holds out Jesus as the hope of our world.  There will people in heaven because she cares.

So God thank you for Julie.  Thanks for what she means to our family, especially her kids.  Thanks for the way she helps take care of Granny.  Thanks for what she has taught me about following you.  You blessed us when you made us her Mom and Dad.  Thanks for her health and let her keep blessing others in this world.

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