Category Archives: Personal

Zilker Kite Festival

On Sunday after church we got to go down to Zilker Park to celebrate the Kite Festival.  It was our first time to attend and it was awesome!  You can’t really see the kites in the picture that well, but there were thousands of them everywhere.  Ours got tangled up a few times, but for the most part it was great!

European Vacation

My wife and I got to celebrate our 10 year anniversary going to London, Paris, Rome, Trier, and Luxembourg for two weeks.  It was in our 12th year of marriage, but it was amazing.  Here are some pictures and some travel tips:

Flight:  We signed up for a British Airways credit card for 100K miles for our plane tickets.  We still had to pay $300+ in taxes and random fees, but it was a huge help.

Hotel:  We both signed up for Hyatt credit card and received 4 nights at 5 star hotels and that was a huge help.  We stayed with some friends for a few nights and Pricelined a couple of nights for around $100.  We did have one scary night in an airport hotel outside of Rome, but other than that it was great!

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Why don’t we pray?

Scripture teaches us we can turn to an eternal God and pray to Him and He hears us.  Can you believe that!  However, I have noticed in my life there are times where instead of turning to Him in prayer I try to fix things myself.  I am not sure why.  Perhaps it is pride in that I think I can do it, or perhaps it is that I don’t believe it makes a difference but I have found that instead of turning to Him in prayer I try to take care of everything on my own.  I create this world in my head where I am the hero of the story and I have to try to take care of everything and everyone.  It is exhausting.

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Raising Children

My wife and I went to a seminar on parenting last weekend and below are a couple of practical things we walked away with after the seminar:

1.  Responsibility of Parents:  As parents it is easy to blame MTV, school, friends, movies, but the responsibility for exposing our children to a relational and powerful God who wants to be involved in our lives falls to the parents.  In Judges 2 there was a lack of familiarity of God’s provision in the past and that responsibility ultimately falls on the parents.

As parents we need to be asking ourselves:

  • Are you personally in awe of God?
  • Are your children in awe of God?
  • What needs to happen in your family to have a greater love for God?
  • What have you experienced in the past that placed you in awe of God?

2.  Children and all People ultimately want to be God (Genesis 2):  Therefore they are going to push back on any kind of authority because ultimately we want to be the authority.  It is the same with our children.  This is the beauty of the church and family.  It is in those social contexts we see our rebellion.  We see how we hurt ourselves and hurt others, and we see are not qualified candidates who are worthy of worship, but we can point them to a God who is worthy of worship.

Practical Tips:

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Easter Sunday 2011

On Sunday, April 24th we are going to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  It is something we are stepping into with great anticipation.  We just spent the last 35 days preparing our hearts for this season going through a spiritual journey as a church as we prayed, fast, read, and reflected on the holiness of God.  I know for me personally this Easter has been different.

It is different for me because my family is in a different place.  Our children can hold conversation and talk about the subject of Easter.  On Good Friday we sat around a fire on the back porch eating s’mores and talking about why Jesus had to die on the cross for our sin.  It was a lot of fun.  It is also different because I feel like my heart is in a different place.  I didn’t grow up celebrating Easter and when I trusted in Jesus I was in college so Easter weekend was really about getting caught up in school before the final exams.  After college I worked as a college pastor and most of the students would go home for Easter and for some reason it still seemed like a busy holiday weekend.  Our church would have Easter Sunrise services, we would attend, but I almost found myself thinking, “Why are we going to this much trouble for Easter.”  Looking back it saddens my heart to know there was such a disconnection for me around Easter.

The last couple of years Easter has continued to carry a deeper and greater meaning, and I am hopeful that trend will continue as I consider the price that was paid for my sin so that I would no longer have to carry the shame and guilt, but know that it was completely accounted for at the cross.

Teaching Scripture

I didn’t grow up going to church.  Not even close.  In fact I made fun of people who went to church.  I didn’t know anything about the Bible so it is a little funny to me sometimes that I teach Bible today.  Early on when I started learning Scripture and teaching Scripture the focus was on finding the timeless principle.  It was really helpful.  It was grounded in truth.  It wasn’t a personal opinion of the day.  It was communicating God’s world.  However, I have found teaching timeless principles ultimately leads people moral and behavioral modification.  It was a timeless principle, but it ultimately fostered legalistic patterns and neglected to exalt and elevate the righteousness we have been given through faith in Jesus Christ’s work on the cross.

For example, when I would study to teach Old Testament Scriptures I would look for timeless principles so that we could have the life of that Old Testament character.  When I would study New Testament Scriptures I would look for principles of how we could live with that same dedication or commitment.  It wasn’t bad, it was biblical, but it also didn’t seem to lead to life change.  It would lead to behavioral modification, but it would never seem to last.  It never seemed to result in lasting courage of Joshua or lasting passion of Paul.  As a result it would leave you with one or two responses:  Either exhausted because you are trying so hard to have courage or passion, or angry because you can never seem to have encourage courage or passion.

In addition, it reduced Christ’s work on the cross to a closing comment at the end of a lesson.  There might be moments where there was a powerful illustration that would be used to call people to transformation, but for the Christ-follower it often seemed like the truth of Christ’s work on the cross was repetitive and something that was for other people.

As I examined this pattern in my life it led me to look at the Scripture differently.  It led me to study and teach Scripture with the focus of looking for Christ’s work on the cross being exalted.  It led me to not settle for teaching moral principles.  It led me to a place of seeing the gospel throughout life and not just in a call of transformation.  It doesn’t mean the biblical principles are overlooked, but that the biblical principles aren’t the destination either.

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What makes Jesus attractive?

I met Jesus when I was 18 years old.  I am 36 today.  I am 50/50 in life with Jesus and life without Jesus.  Recently I was reading a book called Humility by C.J. Mahaney and reflecting on the last 18 years.  I know there is a whirlwind of spiritual activity in our life when it comes to the works of the Holy Spirit, but when I look back on my relationship with Jesus I noticed there are a number of different attractions to Jesus throughout my life.

The first attraction was stability.  I was 18 years old.  A season of life that contains a lot of transition.  I had been raised to be independent and at an early age and I felt a lack of stability.  I wondered if Jesus could bring that stability.  What if He was real?  What if He was true?  It was a blind leap for me, but I kept coming back to, “What if?”  It was those two words that radically changed the rest of my life.

As I continued to mature spiritually I was drawn to Jesus because of the character He would bring into my life.  I could learn responsibility.  I could mature.  I could have discipline.  I was in my early 20’s and my life felt like an endless roller coaster.  I saw other men in my life that had a relationship with Jesus and I was impressed by their character.  I wondered, “What if I could have that type of character?”

As I continued into my mid 20’s my attraction to Jesus continued to evolve.  I had experienced some stability, some character; not a lot, but some.  I began to become attracted to Jesus because of leadership and influence. I saw that there were truths in Scripture that were beneficial to the lives of other people and if I could communicate those truths it could lead to leadership and influence.

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Character of a Christ-follower

Recently I was talking with a friend as he was wrestling with some decisions in his life as a Christ-follower and it reminded me of some good council I once received:

1. Pursue Holiness: Our holiness only comes through faith in Jesus Christ and because of that relationship we get to walk in holiness. Although this sounds like a really big religious word for people who shave their head and go by names like “Guru Joe” it really just means we are set apart to live for His glory and His purposes. Pursuing holiness simply means to repent of our sin and run to Jesus. We will deceive ourselves with thoughts like, “I have been working really hard, I deserve it, it isn’t that big of deal, some people do a lot worse, nobody will ever find out”, and instead of making excuses for sin we would do better to run from sin, run to Jesus, and repent.

2. Read the Bible and do what it says. Sounds simple enough but it is easy for our hearts and mind to drift from Scripture. We can be stubborn and rely on our own strength and our own ability, but if we are allowing Scripture to touch our heart it will make a difference.

3. Open your life. It is easy to be private. We tell ourselves other people won’t understand. We don’t want to look stupid. We are suppose to be leaders. What will people think. Those are all thoughts that keep us from opening our life to other people. We would do better to open up our life so that people can speak into it and sometimes tell us things we don’t want to hear.

My son’s singing debut!

Tucker and I were driving in the car the other day and he started to sing a song. I am not completely sure what he is saying, but to some degree he is saying the same thing over and over.

It had Kennedy having so much fun I couldn’t help but to record his singing. So turn up the volume and jam out to the future of rock-n-roll’s greatest hits, “What’s the big idea?”

Tuck’s Big Idea

Bar-B-Que In Texas

This weekend my family and I made a trip to Lockhart, TX to try their BBQ. It was a lot of fun. There are three places in Lockhart that are known for their BBQ and we tried all three. We went into each place and tried 1/4 Brisket, link of sausage, and beans.

The three places are:

Kreuz’s Market

Black’s BBQ

Smitty’s Market

All three were awesome and had a ton of character. Kreuz’s Market looked like it had been remodeled recently. Huge parking lot and easy to spot when you are driving into Lockhart. I was a little concerned when I walked in and was greeted by the heat in a large open room, but it was where you would order your meat right out of the smoker. Fortunately they had an air conditioned room to sit down and enjoy your meal. They wrap your meat in paper, give you a knife (no fork, no sauce), some bread and you go inside the next room to order your sides. We just ordered some beans and actually they were the highlight of the meal. The brisket and sausage was good, but the beans had chunks of tomato and green bell pepper. It was awesome. Tons of spice and flavor. The brisket was a good, and the sausage was a little gritty for my taste, but overall it was a good start.
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Raising Children

Raising children is one of the greatest experiences and exhausting experiences all at the same time. It is something that can get discouraging at times, but Scripture gives us some direction on raising children and it teaches us to go after their heart. We tend to chase after obedience, moralism, comfort, distraction, performance, but Scripture teaches us to connect with their heart and Ephesians 6 gives us 3 simple principles to connect with their heart:

Pray For Your Children: Pray with your children and pray for your children. I love to hear my children pray. Sometimes their prayers are really simple and they just say, “Dear Jesus, thank you for today, thank you for taking care of me. Amen.” We want our children to learn to pray and they learn to pray by watching their parents. Prayer is caught not taught and they need to see mommy and daddy praying.

Praying over dinner, praying through conflict, praying through disobedience, praying in spiritual devotion, and there will be times when Tucker will walk in my study while I am praying and I will just pull him close to me and start praying out loud with my arm around him. Sometimes he sticks around, sometimes he just hugs me and leaves, but we want our children to see and hear us praying. We want them to see that we are not the ones that are keeping this family together and that we are desperately dependent upon Jesus.
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Husband Love Your Wife

In Ephesians 5 we see husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church and this is a ridiculously high calling. Jesus loves the church (all those who place their faith in His death, burial, and resurrection throughout history) by chasing after us, initiating with us, listening to us, serving us, sacrificing for us and it wasn’t because we were pretty, smart, funny, or enjoyed His hobbies. It was just the opposite. All the while we wanted nothing to do with Him, ignored Him, hated Him, and yet Jesus chases after us, pulls us toward Him, dies for our sin and shame, and through faith we are clothed in His righteousness.

Scripture is teaching us as Christ loved the church so the husband is to love his wife.

Below are a few gauges to help us respond to this challenge:

Physically: I want my wife to know that she is protected and cared for in our marriage. I want to initiate physical touch, hugs, affection, holding hands to let her know that I am looking after her best interests.
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Trip to Florida

Just got back from a family vacation in Florida and we had a blast. We stayed on Satellite beach, got in Magic Kingdom for the kids, Kennedy Space Center for Tucker (really me), day trip to Miami (amazing beach), got to help some sea turtles lay over a 100 eggs (by help I mean sit in darkness and watch quietly for an hour), and had a lot of fun. As fun as it was in Florida we are excited to be back in Austin!