Filter Through Life

Taming the Tongue

When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.  
Proverbs 10:19  


A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
 Proverbs 12:16  


A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,
and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
and discerning if he holds his tongue. 
Proverbs 17:27-28  


I am convicted by these words today.  God has been dealing with me for the last several weeks about my mouth.  I boast too much.  I gripe too much.  I gossip too much.  I just flat out talk too much.  I have a hard time controlling my tongue and I want to change that starting today. 


I want to be a godly man, husband and leader in my community and church.  I have to start with the small things.  I must love God and my wife.  I have to be faithful with my prayer.  I have to read my bible.  I have to go to church and I have to tithe.  But that isn’t enough.  If I do all these things yet cannot control my tongue then I am not godly at all.  James asks us in James 3:12, “can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?”  Certainly not.  Neither can a man leave his tongue unbridled and expect to have influence. 


I know I can’t do it on my own; I’ve tried.  I am glad I don’t have to. 


      But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,

      for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

                       2 Corinthians 12:9


Thank God for grace.


Ever Taken The Lord’s Name in Vain?

I try so very hard to not break any of the Ten Commandments.  Some of them are easy.  Some of them…not so much.  There is one that I have always considered pretty easy; taking The Lord’s name in vain.  I can’t say I have never done it but it’s not something that is part of my everyday language. 


Cheri and I went to Houston to visit my Dad in the hospital yesterday and on the trip home we decided to listen to a sermon on CD that my brother had given to me.  The message was Ray Comfort’s “Hell’s Best Kept Secret.”  The message is an absolute must for anyone that is, has or is going to be a minister, pastor or teacher of God’s Word. 


Anyway, about half-way into the message he recaps a hypothetical conversation he might have with someone that is not saved.


“Have you used God’s name in vain?”


 “Yeah…I’ve been trying to stop.”


“You know what you’re doing? Instead of using a four-letter filth word beginning with ‘s’ to express disgust, you’re using God’s name in its place. That’s called blasphemy.”


You know, I have thought about the fact that it is blasphemous to say the name of The Lord in vain.  That was a pretty big motivating factor in why I stopped doing it.  However, I never really thought about it this way.  I never thought that I was equating the most holy of names with something as filthy as excrement.  It hurt my heart.  I mean, not only is He my savior, He is my lord.  I wouldn’t call my boss a piece of poop why on earth would I do that to my God?  He didn’t just give me a job, He has given me life, salvation, my beautiful wife and everlasting life. 


I am sorry.  Please forgive me.

Shut My Mouth

I went to my friend’s house the other day only to find him working.  It was about eleven o’clock at night.  My friend is a bit of a workaholic to say the least.  I would recon that he stayed in his temple worshipping office working for another hour or so.  I even said as much but even less Jesus-like and a lot snider. 


I thought about this for a while and realized that I have a major character flaw here.  I prayed this morning for my friend and while I was praying I told God that I knew for certain that I was jacked up too and I hope some jacked up person out there was praying for me too. 


As I prayed and prayed I resolved to stop being such a jerk.  People think sarcasm is funny; the people using it.  The people at the butt of sarcastic jokes don’t think they are that funny.  I’m relatively vertically challenged and have been the butt of several jokes about it.  For years I hated the jokes but learned to not care grew thick skin. 


I am supposed to be a Godly man.  I don’t want people to learn to put up their guard when they see me coming.  I want them to know that I am not going to bring up their character flaws and/or sin and throw it in their faces.  I want them to know that I will certainly pray for their problems.  I want them to know that I don’t consider myself any better than them. 


How on earth am I going to do this?


We had our monthly staff meeting last night and it was pretty good.  I normally hate meetings and tend to drift off after a while (kind of like our leader…cough).  However, last night was a little different.  Tony talked about what we can look forward to in the coming months at Legacy, and it is pretty exciting and scary all at the same time.


The upcoming series is going to be about commitment; our commitment to the church, the churches commitment to the community, Tony’s commitment to us, etc.  He is fully committed to God’s purpose and his people and he is going to encourage us to be committed as well.  It is going to get really warm and uncomfortable in that building for some.  I love it.


Anne wrote earlier this week about church the church and the difference between making people feel welcome and making them feel comfortable.  We want to love people and we want them to know it.  Love isn’t always comfortable.  Jesus certainly didn’t always tell people what they wanted to hear but what they needed to hear.  That is our responsibility as well. 


Our pastors (and the rest of the body of Christ for that matter) can’t be afraid to call people to commit, even if it scares off a few people in the process.

Christians: Kind of like Harley Guy

I am part of a club.  If you ride a motorcycle you probably already know what I am talking about.  We who ride motorcycles have this commonality that brings us together, almost like a family.  We enjoy the freedom of being on two wheels.  We love the wind in our faces.  We love ripping around curves or cruising down country roads.  We even kind of revel in the danger of it all.  It’s not for everyone and we know that.  When we pass a fellow rider on the road we acknowledge the brotherhood by a little wave. 

There is one notable exception to this rule: Harley Guy.  I am not talking about the guys that ride Harley’s because they are just their type of bike and I am not talking about your typical biker that rides a Harley; I am talking about the guy that rides a Harley as a symbol of status.  Harley Guy is the guy that rides his bike wearing a t-shirt that says, “Your Bike Sucks!”  Of course, my bike cost half as much, cost one-fifth as much to maintain and will still be running when a Harley is being melted into ball-bearings, but that is beside the point.  The point is: Harley Guy just doesn’t wave to non-Harley riders, especially sport-bike riders (the little terrors!).  I don’t know why, they just don’t.  So I intentionally blow by them on my sport bike, get in front of them and brake really hard, throw some former Harleys…cough…ball-bearings at them and then speed off before they knew what hit them.  Okay, so I am joking but I think that must be what they think. 

This really reminds me of some Christians out there.  I am not referring to Baptists, Lutherans or Protestants specifically, I don’t really even know if you can lump them into a group like Harley Guy.  I am just talking about the Christians that look down their noses at Christians that look like…well…me.  Many of today’s youth pastors have funny hair, dress like they are making a run to Wal-Mart instead of a job interview and can often be found in flip-flops.  (I don’t sport the flip-flops at church but there are a few dudes that go to my church that do but I am glad people that dress like that can actually feel comfortable at church.)  Note: this dress code is not limited to youth pastors.  I know a children’s pastor that loves the flip-flops and can slum it up with the best of them.

It’s not just the way people dress that causes this reaction from the pious Christian.  There are many things that can cause such a reaction.  When the offering plate passes by someone and they don’t, or can’t put anything in it there are thoughts all down the isle.  I am thankful for the thoughts such as, “I wonder if there is something I can do to help that family.”  I am also thankful for the way we at Legacy choose to collect offering and that is by placing a box in the back.  We have never passed a bucket and we usually don’t go without. 

The people I am referring to are Pharisees.  Jesus called them “whitewashed tombs” and I have been that guy.  I have found myself thinking how much better I am than someone because I go to church and I tithe.  I have found myself thinking I should step on the grimy toes of the dude wearing flip-flops.  Then I find myself thinking about Jesus.  He was better than anyone and yet He didn’t point out that fact.  I don’t know what He tithed but I know He gave.  I also bet His toes were fairly grimy from walking in the dirt all the time.  I bet He even ate without washing His hands sometimes.   

We need to get over ourselves.  Just because someone doesn’t look or act like we think they should doesn’t mean they aren’t important to God.  Just because someone doesn’t look like a Christian doesn’t mean they aren’t.  Jesus didn’t look or act like the king that the Jews were expecting.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity to love, witness to, teach, nurture, help or even learn from someone because I have a predisposition as to how someone should look.

And to you Harley Guy: I am going to continue to wave at you and it won’t hurt my feelings when you don’t wave back at me.  Those things vibrate like mad so I know if you don’t hold on with both hands you may bounce right off.  🙂

Convicted by a Beatitude
March 13, 2008, 9:32 am
Filed under: Conviction Hurts, Faith, God, Jesus, Ministry, Religion | Tags: , , ,

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8) 

Jesus said that.  I read it for the umpteenth time last night and have been dwelling on it ever since.  I can’t get it out of my mind.   

I keep asking myself, “Am I pure in heart?  Will I see God?  What does that mean?” 

I can’t say I think I am.  I don’t know if I will and I don’t really know what that means.  I know I want to be pure in heart.  I know I want to see God and if I can take that at face value I guess I don’t care what it means.   

I want to know how to get there.  I want to know what it takes to be pure in heart.  Is my heart attached to my brain?  Will my actions destroy the purity of my heart?  I believe the answer to both of those questions is “Yes”.  I feel like Paul because “what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15) 

I am wrestling with some stuff right now.  There has been a lot of talk on blogs lately about having separate personalities between life and blogging.  Well folks, this is me and this is my heart.  I am struggling with junk that I hate and I am airing it out right here.  I am doing it to be accountable.  I am doing it to get it off my chest.  I am doing it so that my readers will know that I am a real person.  I am doing it to give people out there a little hope.  God has not stopped using me because I struggle with junk.  God uses me everyday because His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The Winds of Change

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you probably know that for the past two years I have served as the youth pastor of a smallish growing church plant in Cedar Park (a suburb of Austin), Texas called Legacy Fellowship.  I also work full-time since the church is not yet big enough to support staff.  It has been a fun and exciting journey and I have learned a lot.  I think the journey is about to get really tough.  I just feel it in my bones. 

Over the last two years the youth ministry I lead has been inconsistent at best and at worst, a complete failure.  We have had as few as two kids and as many as twelve in a service depending on what kind of food we serve at the end.  (On a positive note, I have learned that food will bring in the kids.)  We have had events that were a blast (the lock-in), a success (car wash fundraiser), boring (hanging at my house) and one that never happened (Collide Festival).  I pray that all changes with the new year.  We definitely have plans to change it. 

I have been a pretty rotten leader.  It has been over the past few months that I have realized just how bad I have been and how much I want that to change.  I can’t use the “I don’t know what I am doing” excuse anymore.  I can’t have a victim mentality.  I have to move.  It’s a lot easier to turn a moving car around than a parked one, right?  Even if I go in the wrong direction for a few feet, at least I will be able to get it turned around if we’re moving. 

Cheri and I are getting better at meeting to talk about the plans for the youth ministry.  We are getting better at executing said plans too.  We have gotten better at connecting with the kids outside of church and that is one of the single most important things we needed to change.  We are going to get there; we have to. 

Our goal: To lead teenagers to Christ and teach them that they are not the FUTURE of the church, they are a vital and functional part of the body of Christ TODAY!