here is a half-stolen sermon from matt chandler, the pastor of the village church, in highland hills, just north of dallas. the topic is something that's been flipping around in my head, and i didn't know exactly what to do with it...then last night, i was lounging around church while katy, ryan and the rest of the singers and band for amplify were rehearsing (i don't know why they don't ask me to sing...i'm amazing!), listening to one of chandler's sermons on my iPod, and he just started speaking to me...his words were exactly what i needed to hear...so much so that i scribbled some of it down on a piece of paper and felt compelled to share his words here. so, here it is...the names and some of the words have been changed, but the problem (and sermon) are real...

"joy... so much of The Bible can sem threatening... do this or, do this or, do this or, God doesn't like this, God doesn't like that, it use to seem like God was really angry. and not only angry, but pretty against anything that i thought was funny.

the commands of God are about joy...that God is not glorified in begrudging submission to rules, but rather by our joy in submitting to Him.

here's an illustration... marriage: if someone asked me "jeff, how's married life with katy?", and i said "well, i gave my word, so i'm in...look to be honest with you, i think that woman is horrible, and she sucks the life out of me. but i made a promise to stay faithful and i'm a man of my word. so, for the rest of my long, long, long life..." is anyone going, "oh, i want some of that! i want that for me. when i was little, i drempt about just that, a committment that was so....strong, that it could endure the most horriffic of circumstances." that's absurd...but that's what people have done with Christianity...that's the package...be committed.

but in the scriptures, Christ is going, "i'm not glorified by your begrudging submission, i'm glorified by your joy, so i'm trying to lead you to joy"... so the commands about your wealth, or food, or acts is not about getting your money or possessions or mouth, it's about your joy... because God is most glorified in your enjoyment of Him.

God's not sexually repressed...for the record, it was His idea. "be fruitful and multiply"... has anyone read Song of Songs, chapters 3-4? God is after our joy...that's why there should be a joyful ferocity towards obedience.

the truth is, everyone of us is in this story (talking about Mark 4, The Parable of the Sower... we are all 1 of the 4 seeds)...we all have a part to play, whether we like it or not. so, how do we find out what part we are in this story?

it's self-examination. how you view your stuff, how you live your life, how you view your job, how you view your neighbor, how you spend your money. all of this has to be a part of your life, because there are very eternal things at stake in your life.

and nobody want to call each other sinners, and no one wants to call each other out, because it's what we are, we're all sinners, we're all broken.

all we can do is examine our own life, lay the scriptures on our own heart and see if our own life is bearing fruit, it there change? we must ask ourselves, "can i and others see a growth in love, joy, peace and patience in my own life?" and where we fail at those things, we must run to the mercy of Christ, beg for forgiveness, ask for help and get back up and go."

do you pass the process of self-examination?


Joy In Mudville

drenched in sweat, splattered in mud, sprinting up a hill to complete my run tonight, i realized, what a day today was...

it started off quite early, waking before the sun to get to church around 7..."today was going to be a long day", i thougth. we drove to church through the haze and drizzle. the first week of 3 services... "i hope people show up". then, they did...

josh davis spoke to hundreds today at church...about competition, about finishing strong, about gold medals, about showing our gratitude to God, about training, about sacrifice, about michael phelps, about having the right motivation, about our championship moment... we did the math and figured out that he put in over 22,000 hours of training for a race that lasted less than 2 minutes. what endurance, what dedication, what sacrifice, what determination, what vision...

later on, driving back to church through the rain again, we went to financial peace university. katy and i were convinced to put away a large sum of money, an emergency fund... and we were instructed to do so by a man we've never met, through a dvd. something we've joked about doing so many times suddenly made sense. we're going to do it... we've already begun! what a great feeling. we saw the vision. it'll take endurace, dedication, sacrifice, determination...and it will happen.

tonight, after getting home, i decided it was time... time to start running again. so, i put on my new shoes, stretched out my legs and headed out the door. it felt so good to get out and stretch my legs...test my limits. while on my run though the muddy streets, thoughts grabbed ahold of my mind. thoughts of victory, thougths of security, thoughts of gratitude to God, thoughts of Chariots of Fire...

drenched in sweat, splattered in mud, sprinting up a hill to complete my run tonight, i got a glimpse of my championship moment.



do you ever get on those runs, those moments of life where everything seems to be okay... where life seems to be manageable... where gratitude doesn't seem to fully justify the emotion... the tranquility... the peace... when you realize that the painful, sour feeling in your stomach is gone, and you can't remember the last time you felt it there... when you stop caring about what everyone else thinks about your life... your decisions... and when you're finally okay with the ones you're making for yourself... when life seems good, and you're not sure why you deserve such a thing...

those are the good times.

sometimes when i’m all alone
i don't know if i can
take another breath
some say home is where the heart is
tell me where my home is
cause i am scared to death

falling from the rooftop
crashing like a raindrop
can you make my heart stop
shaking like a leaf
standing at the floodgate
steady as an earthquake
can you hear my heart break
tearing at the seams

i am drifting in the deep end
holding on to your hand
is all that saves me now
life can treat you like a beggar
you hold me together
but i don't know how

falling from the rooftop
crashing like a raindrop
can you make my heart stop
shaking like a leaf
standing at the floodgate
steady as an earthquake
can you hear my heart break
tearing at the seams

some say home is where the heart is
and my heart is in your hands
you are all i need

rising from the ashes lifted from the madness
now you see my heart is
deep enough to dream
heal me from the deathblow
lead and i will follow
now you feel my heart glow
mending at the seams


duncan: pet, vomit, teacher

last night, our beloved dog, duncan, threw up...which was unexpected but not totally uncommon. by the time i had gone to grab a towel, a damp cloth and some sanitizer spray, he had already eaten it all back up. (don't be too grossed out, there really wasn't much) pretty typical for a dog i guess...at least for ours. i cleaned up what was left as best i could and went about my evening...as did he.

fast forward to today... i had totally forgotten about last nights little 'episode' until i randomly came across a passage of The Bible from 2 Peter 2 which reads, "A dog returns to its vomit". this chapter is talking about false prophets and how "they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error." now, while i don't think duncan is trying to lure katy and i into a spiral of sinful destruction, it did make me think about the passage for a while...and i never want to miss a chance to learn a Biblical lesson from our 4-legged pet.

how often do we come across these "dogs" who try to distract us from the good that we desire? how many times do they succeed? or even worse, how often are we the ones trying to entice others to a life of sin? how many times do we return over and over, allthewhile knowing the wrongs that we are doing?

i've gotta hand it to duncan, he only returned once...



there were two men who lived on opposite sides of the fence. both were hard working, great to their friends and family & took care of their home. one man lived a great life on his terms. enjoyed life and all that came with it. the other man had struggles & contantly faced adversity in life and from others around him. God was pleased with this man. he lived his life on God's terms, not his own.