Monday, December 8, 2014

Missions and Music

The tradition of our church is to have a mission emphasis on the 1st Sunday of December. We've done all sorts of programs including having a mission banquet for several years. This year we combined our mission day with our music ministry and, in my very biased opinion, had an awesome worship experience last night with the adult choir, children's choirs and band leading us all to contemplate the true meaning of Christmas and, really, the reason we have a mission emphasis to being with. It's all about Jesus and the desire of seeing the nations worship Him.

Yesterday morning we had a couple of IMB missionaries sharing in our morning worship. As Tom pointed to a manger he remarked that there are millions and millions of people on the planet that would see that and have no idea what it represents. To the follower of Jesus, it represents the birth of hope for an abundant and everlasting life, the birth of our Savior. I don't even know if Tom would remember this (I should've asked him) but the first time I met him was in London. He asked what role I had in missions. I obviously am not on our church staff but am a pastor's wife who, remarkably, has the privilege of facilitating global missions. Tom said that I was a "mission enthusiast." I liked that and it stuck.

I was reminded last night why Johnny and I so want our church to go overseas on mission. Joe said it and Johnny said it. So many people are called to full-time, vocational missions after going on a short-term mission trip. In addition, Scott said it in his video, even if God is not calling you to vocational missions, it can change how you live. We are all called to be the light in a dark world. Johnny read Isaiah 49:6 last night. Service is not enough, God has called us to be a light to the nations so that His salvation may reach to the end of the earth. 

I woke up this morning to find a newsletter from a missionary family in my email inbox. A couple that Johnny and I know from so many years ago. They packed up their kids and moved to Asia just a few months ago. They wrote of seeing the monks in the morning in the streets gathering alms and giving blessings. The wrote about the burden of knowing most of the people they see having only enough knowledge of God to damn them. The people they see mostly know nothing of His provision of redemption, the covering of sin and shame offered them through the cross of Christ. They long to be able to tell all the people they come in contact with about the truth in a way they will understand.

Yesterday was most definitely a beautiful night and an amazing day. I am so appreciative of each person who contributed to our mission fair - to share what God has called them to do so that others might also join in the effort. I am super thankful for the ladies who work in our office and their hard work. Behind the scenes, faithfully making us look good always.

The true test of whether our day accomplished its purpose won't be the amount of social media posts or counting the hours of work that went in to making such a day happen. The true test will be if those that participated and those who attended let their personal worship and realization of the weight of what Jesus has done cause them and compel them to live missionally in 2015. Not for the glory of our church or any person other than Jesus Himself. To Him alone belongs the honor and glory. Service is not enough. Attending is not enough. My prayer is that we will be a light to the nations and a light in our community. Starting right here with me.

Serving the King,


Monday, November 10, 2014


What a weekend. My middle child, my girl, will be graduating from college in one month and 9 days. Ten days after that we will be in Alabama moving her into an apartment. She accepted an offer to do her dream job and will move 3 states away from us. Even though we have known for more than a month that this is what will happen, I can still barely type those sentences without tears welling up in my eyes. Moving requires having a place to live so she and I flew out this weekend to find that place. That the weekend was a bit stressful is an understatement. Yes, Johnny and I have been praying about this very specifically. God provided the job, He will provide the living situation. My head has got that. My heart is that this amazing young woman that I happened to give birth to would have a lovely, safe, affordable place to live that also happens to be in a good location.

Friday was a bust. We saw a few places. She had found a few places online before we went. At more than one of those places I pulled into the parking lot and right back out saying not only no but never. My first priority is safety. One complex that looked perfect that we just happened to drive by, I stopped, she looked up the rent online and said absolutely not. Her first priority is budget. We did find a place on Saturday that we both feel good about. And, we got to eat some really good Alabama barbecue and found a wonderful coffee shop not too far from where she'll live.

We flew back on Sunday and arrived at DFW in the early afternoon. By the time we got home and had lunch I had just a little while before I headed to a 4:00 monthly gathering time with folks involved in our church's Embrace project. These people mean so much to me. Honestly, I'm pretty astounded by how they have all bought in. I am floored by how God used these people and their trips to the UK to seal a commitment to what our church agreed to do with the IMB. Mostly, I'm grateful.

We usually meet for about 2 hours - a time to talk and a time to pray together. I'm an emotional person anyway but, by the time we were done, I was spent. From the weekend. From how overwhelming the Embrace task is. From the desire for the gospel to be known among our people group. When it was over I just wanted to go home and curl up on the couch. Under a blanket. With comfort food. I peeked into the sanctuary where the evening time of corporate worship was starting. My beautiful and talented daughter-in-law was playing the piano and that drew me in. I'm so glad I stayed.

Last night our church celebrated the Lord's Supper. We took communion together. I found one of my friends and sat down beside her and somehow there was a comfort in that. Johnny's main text was 1 Corinthians 11:27, " Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord." He talked about the word unworthy. Part of the what he said about it was how the original readers, and modern believers, can take communion without really examining their lives. "Trading symbolism for substance." We can, at times, say things like, "thank You for Your many blessings" instead of counting them one by one. Or, "forgive me of my sins" instead of naming them, confessing them, turning away from them.

I often feel unworthy. Unworthy to be involved in the mission of God, unworthy to parent such great kids, unworthy of the material things that I have. I want to, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1, "walk in a manner worthy with which (I) have been called." My worthiness comes from Christ alone. My ability to walk worthy depends on leaning on Him and not streamlining or wholesaling my thanks or my confessions. Receiving communion last night, in a room full of people but alone in my thoughts of God, reminded me new and fresh that everything begins with Him. And not me. My natural bent to feel unworthy was paid for on the cross.

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat, this is My body." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." 
Matthew 26:26-28

Serving the King,


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Craving Righteousness

One day I was fasting and here's the voicemail I got from Johnny, "Hey, babe, I'm in line at Fuzzy's Tacos and just wanted to see how your day's going." (or something like that but it definitely included the words Fuzzy's Tacos) One thing that is for certain about me is that I crave Mexican/Tex Mex food. I don't want to say I love it because I love people not food but I'm really crazy about it.

This is what I texted this back to my man, "That's pretty hateful to tell me you're at Fuzzy's when I'm fasting."

Fasting is a spiritual exercise. The whole point of the fast is to focus on God, to seek Him, to lean in. One of the verses I have in my fasting journal is Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." I looked up the word hunger in my Greek Dictionary and this is what was there, "fig., to crave."

My question is this - do I crave righteousness more than tacos? If the answer is yes (and I want it to be yes) then I can't be sad about missing 1 day of eating tacos. Goodness knows I'll be eating tacos before this week is out.

Psalm 63:1, "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You..." Thirsts requires seeking. Seeking requires setting aside other things in order to be satisfied in God.

That doesn't always look the same way for me. Honestly, it rarely involves a fast. I like the discipline of it, though. The physical hunger that is almost like a signal that I need more of something. Oh, that my heart would beat more for craving righteousness, craving Jesus, than any other thing.

Serving the King,


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wedding Month

This is my view today as it has been for the past few days. What started as wanting to update 1 bathroom before the wedding has turned into painting almost all of the downstairs, refinishing cabinets, replacing light fixtures and appliances and a few other things. Our living spaces are a huge mess but our contractor assures me it will all be done in just a few more days. (He's fabulous, btw, in case you are looking)

Let me back up. I know the last time I was on here that this place I'm living in was labeled the "transition house" but it has become our permanent home. (I now have a beautiful 2.8 acres for sale in Burleson.) God's provision for this house was unexpected and totally not what I had planned. We're here now and we're settling in and want to make it our own.

It's wedding month, though. I don't know what I'm wearing to the wedding. I'm having a rehearsal dinner at this house. I'm having out-of-town folks coming in. Jessica will leave and fly to Birmingham to start her summer job and then fly back again for 3 short days for the wedding. Jacob will leave DBU and move back home for the summer before changing colleges in the Fall. Josh will move out and to his new address with Christy. At this particular moment I'm a tiny bit overwhelmed.

But, it's wedding month. On the last day of this month Josh and Christy will be wed. They'll stand before family and friends and, more importantly, God and join their lives together. I could not love Christy more. She is such a precious gift to Josh and to our whole family really. On May 31st, Josh will have a wife, Jessica will finally have a sister, and Johnny and I will become in-laws. Everything will change.

This morning I was reading in chapter 1 of Colossians. Check out verse 17:

And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 

I just like the assurance of that - that He is immovable, unchangeable, eternal, holding everything together.

I know I wrote that this house is my permanent home but I know my real permanent home is in heaven. My citizenship is in heaven and I eagerly await the day I'll see Jesus face-to-face. But, in the meantime, I'm gonna make this earthly home a reflection of us and a place where we can share life with family and friends.

Our family is growing, btw!

Serving the King,


Monday, March 24, 2014


Those that know me know it doesn't take much to move me. In fact, I am moved to tears fairly easily. The fact that we have moved - physically, from our house of 9 years - has caused some emotion to rise up in me. It was the home of my kids' adolescence. It was where we shared life and so many important markers. It's the place where we gathered with extended family and many friends. All 3 of my offspring left from that place to go to college. In some ways, their leaving marked the time Johnny and I decided to move.

We just closed on that house today but we were supposed to 2 1/2 weeks ago. It's a long story and beside the point but we moved all our earthly possessions out on a Monday and Tuesday in anticipation of closing on Thursday of that week. Once everything was out, I spent the following day, Wednesday, cleaning and making sure we didn't miss anything. I started upstairs, in the kids' rooms. As I went from each of their rooms, I thought about so many memories, conversations, milestones. I prayed for each of my kids and so many of the friends that passed through those rooms. Such happy days, happy memories and even some difficult ones. You know for sure that I was bawling. In the first room I fell to my knees out of pure gratitude for every single day, every single moment of life and every person that passed through those thresholds.

Nine years is the longest Johnny and I have lived in one place together.

We are moved into what Johnny affectionately calls our "transition house." It's a house that belongs to a friend where we will live these next months while we build what we hope is our "forever house" in the country. Not everything is unpacked (nor will it be) but we're settled and grateful for a place to call home during this time of transition.

And, yet, I'm reminded that this "transition house" or even the planned "forever house" is not really my permanent home.

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20

Walking out of the door of our home for 9 years brought emotion but, I admit, the thought of my eternal home rushes over me and fills me with an emotion that I cannot explain or fully comprehend. A place of no separation, a place of no tears, a place where lightbulbs won't need to be replaced because the glory of God will be the Light. A place that is in the very presence of Him, the Holy One. His home. His dwelling place where those that belong to Him will be with Him forever.

Yeah, that moves me.

Johnny and I waited in the lobby today for our turn to sign the papers that mark the end of our ownership and the beginning of another's. The family actually goes to our church and they passed us as they were on their way out and we were on our way in. We remarked about what a great place that house was to raise teens, to have lots of folks over, to live. We hope they have the same experience.

God gives us places to dwell, people to share our lives with. For that, and so much more, I am so grateful.

Serving the King,


Monday, February 17, 2014

Road Trip Weekend Wrap-Up

The title for this post could also be "My Synopsis of Passion 2014." I'll admit it, sometimes I am discouraged by culture and things happening in the world. Then I sit in an arena full of thousands and thousands of college-age students worshiping Jesus and I'm blown away - again - by the power of the Almighty.

Here's another admission - I was not all that excited about going to Houston and, more importantly, not excited about having to drive in that awful traffic. But my son, Josh, is now our College Pastor (I feel emotional that I just typed those words - that child I gave birth to is now a College Pastor. I'm overcome with thankfulness.) so I felt compelled to go. I'm so glad I did, it was so worth it.

Friday night started with worship and Louie Giglio preached from Isaiah 6. One of my favorites, by the way. He talked about how Isaiah was undone when he experienced the breath-taking mercy of God. He said, "God is breathtakingly beautiful in His mercy." I love the thought of that.

Friday night ended with a Hillsong United concert which started past my bedtime but, then again, we were at an conference for college students.  Again, I'm so glad I was there. They sang some of my favorites but, maybe, my favorite moment was during an instrumental part of Oceans and it seemed as though the crowd spontaneously started singing the chorus over and over again. It's how I imagine heaven - voices filling the space singing with hearts joined in praise. They ended with The Stand and With Everything. It was incredible.

Saturday morning could not have started any better for this big fan of David Crowder and, perhaps my all-time favorite song, O Praise Him. Following Crowder was Francis Chan. He used chicken bones to illustrate Ezekiel 36. Yeah, real chicken bones. Here's a really great question he posed in reference to 2 Peter 1:5 -- when people say to him they aren't really feeling God's presence he responds, "Are you making every effort?" (Check out verses 6-7 to see the list of things we ought to be making every effort toward.)

Beth Moore taught the next session. My daughter (who didn't go with our group & wasn't sitting near us) sent me this 2 word text following Beth Moore, "KILLED IT." Oh yes, Beth Moore totally did. She said these simple but profound statements, "We were born with a fight in us. There's an ugly fight and a beautiful fight. We can't fight the good fight and the ugly fight at the same time. We are either going to fight for people or with them." She ended her time with statements of confession. Oh, to hear thousands and thousands of college students standing and shouting "I agree" to the great statements of our faith. So powerful.

The next session was about the Bible. The cause that Passion was raising money for at this conference was to buy Bibles for people in Iran. The curator from the American Bible Society was there and her testimony and journey were so interesting. Even more interesting was the story about the 1st Bible printed in America. It wasn't printed in English because that was already being done in Britain. A man named John Eliot wanted to tell the native Massachusetts Indians about Jesus so, first, he had to learn their language. But, it was only an oral language so he had to figure out how to write it then he had to translate the Bible into that language. After a 15 year journey, the first Bible in the American colonies was printed in that language. I can't get over the 1st Bible printed in America was for missions. It's our legacy! The Bible was printed in 1663 and some copies were sent to England along with fundraising letters so that more copies could be printed for the native Americans. Also present was someone representing UVersion, the Bible app. The app has 750 versions of the Bible in 450 languages. Eight-eight people/second open that app. Ah-mazing!

Judah Smith was next. When we talked about Mr. Smith later my son said I was so white, Protestant, old-school. Which, frankly, I am though I like to think I'm fairly well versed in what's current in culture. Once he got through an introductory story that I thought went on just a bit too long (hence, my son's declaration on who I am) what Judah Smith said was so powerful. He said, "God doesn't do renovation. He makes brand new." He went on to say, "Where I stand determines how I walk but how I walk never determines where I stand." He had 2 spots on the platform that he walked back & forth between making his points and made this point, "The great struggle of the Christian life is lived in me instead of in Christ." (2 Corinthians 5:16-21 was his text)

The final session, as is the Passion custom, was taught by Louie Giglio. He was again in Isaiah 6 and said in order to shift from consumerism (in the church) to costly following of God, you must be stunned (verse 5), seared (verse 7), and sent (verse 8). The real encounter with Jesus sends us out. He continued by saying, "The gospel never stops with me."

There are not enough words, or the right words, or I don't have the ability to craft the right words, to express how it impacts me to hear so many college students, young adults, and their leaders packed into a sports arena for the common purpose of making much of Jesus. There are some college students & young adults out there - some that I have the privilege of knowing & traveling with this weekend - that are living it out. Their passion for Jesus is so evident - not just in an arena - but in who they are. I can't wait to see what God continues to do through them.

Serving the King,


Thursday, February 6, 2014

What's My Good?

I so like to think no one is watching me in my front row spot on Sunday mornings. Honestly, I don't think about it which was apparent this last Sunday (if not all Sundays really). Let me write this disclaimer first - I really like all the songs we sang last Sunday. And, I'm a pretty big fan of the groups who recorded the 1st 2 songs we sang - I purchase & download their music, I listen to them on Spotify. Are there times, though, when you're singing a song - and you may be like me and really like the song - but there's just a line or two and you just have this thought: is that really correct? Is it true theologically?

I had that thought last Sunday. (here's where my thought about no one watching me comes in) I had a chance to ask Johnny about a particular line in a song during the welcome time. Just briefly. We agreed that maybe it wasn't completely correct and talked about it later that afternoon. Then, we got to another song and I had the same thought and just looked over at Johnny and laughed a little. He knew what I was thinking. Y'all, after 25 years of marriage sometimes I believe we read each other's thoughts. I kinda love that.

This blog post is really about 1 line in a song: "You make all things work together for my good." It's likely a reference to Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes." The message of the song is good. It's just that I think that verse is plucked out and misused - not in relation to that song but in general. How often do you hear someone say just that one little part, "God works everything for good..."?

I don't mean to be particular but I guess I'm spoiled because I've listened to such good, exegetical biblical teaching over the last 25 years.  I so much prefer hearing a message preached or taught from a passage of Scripture where context and truth is considered as opposed to someone making an outline of general truths and plucking verses out to make his or her point. Really, it's just a personal preference. The truth of the Bible is finite and verses really need to be considered in context. But I'm getting off topic because I really am stuck on the whole of Romans 8:28 and what it means.

First of all, God works all things for good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. John Gill wrote it like this, "those who work in concert with the will of God." I'm sorry, but a general thought of God working all things for good for all people is just not truth. We can't be out in the world doing whatever we want and expect God to work it for good.

Sometimes God's good may not look like what we expect good to look like. God can use trials and suffering for our good. Certainly when we are suffering or are in trials we don't think that's good. Romans 8:31 reminds us that God is for us! Sometimes what's good for us doesn't feel like good. Good has to be in line with God's purposes. The note in my Ryrie Study Bible notes that good is "conformity to Christ." When we get to the end of chapter 8 of Romans we find that nothing, absolutely nothing - death, life, angels, principalities, things present, things to come, powers, height, depth, any created thing - nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.

What if our good is just that and only that - we can never be separated from the love of God? Not the good we desire or expect but that God is for us and nothing can separate us from His love. That in the process of making all things work together for good we are made into imitators of Christ.

What's good has eternal significance. God's love never changes and we can't escape it. That's good. God is working out things in my life so I become more like Christ and that's for my good.

Now if I can just get the part right where I'm always working in the concert with His will that would be really good.

Serving the King,


Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Posture for Prayer

Happy New Year! A new year is a great time for new things. My man and I are not big on New Years' resolutions. Apparently, we're not the only ones since no one in our Life Group yesterday admitted to making one. I guess after years of making them & not keeping them we've just decided it's better not to make a big declaration of change that we are pretty sure won't stick. Johnny and I did make one though - we resolve to build a house on our property in the country in 2014. I am really, really counting on that one.

For the beginning of the new year, I'm reading the book of Ezekiel. Today was chapter 2 - all of it since it's only 10 verses. Here's the 1st verse in the NASB, "Then He said to me, 'Son of man, stand on your feet that I may speak with you!'"

After that one verse I felt compelled to stand and pray. At first I stood there thinking about all sorts of things - reading the rest of the chapter, re-filling my coffee cup, what work I need to accomplish today so I need to sit down and get to it. So, to combat that, I started reciting characteristics, attributes, (as Ryrie calls them) perfections of God. It turned out to be kind of a holy moment. Or moments, I guess. There I stood, hands lifted, praying for my family and friends, myself and my church.

I don't anticipate that I'll be standing to pray everyday from now on. Maybe I will, I don't know. But, I'll be honest, sometimes I don't pray like I should. I can be so distracted in my prayer time, in my usual prayer place. There are times when my feet need to be moving to pray. There are times when I need to be flat on my face because of the weight of my prayers. There are times when friends or family email me, call me, Facebook message me & ask for prayer and I whisper them up at a moment's notice.

Maybe a new prayer posture is just the start I need for a new year of praying. I'm not making it a resolution but I guarantee I'm looking for more holy moments like the one today in 2014.

Serving the King,