Thursday, September 20, 2007

From Diapers to the Potty

Recently, two of my blogging friends wrote about the journeys that their sons are on towards manhood. One has a 12 year old son who will be a teenager next year. He titled his blog ‘From Boys to Men.’ The other has a son who is 19 and has just left home for college. He titled his blog ‘Passage to Manhood.’

I respect both of these friends and am inspired by them as men and as fathers. Both of their blogs challenged me, inspired me and led me to evaluate where I am in the journey with my three boys towards manhood. After a few minutes of reflecting, I concluded that we are still in the very early stages – but we are on our way!

About a month ago, my cell phone rang as I sat in my office reading. As I pulled it out of my pocket and noticed that the caller ID said ‘home’ I answered eager to see what Kristy needed. No sooner than the word “hello” was out of my mouth, there was a high pitched voice on the other end yelling, “Daddy, I went poo poo on the potty!” For those of you who have received a similar phone call…you can certainly relate. But what are you supposed to do with that information? Obviously, when your child calls you with this fantastic news, you want to reply with great enthusiasm.

“You went poo poo on the potty!? That’s awesome!”

I’m just glad I wasn’t at a crowded Starbucks when I received that call. That would have been really awkward.

That phone call came from my oldest boy, Micah who will be 3 years old in a few days. Some might say that he is getting potty trained at a late age, but here’s the beauty of it – that day that Micah called me was the same day that he was completely potty trained without our assistance. He just decided he was done with diapers and wanted big boy underwear. We haven’t had even one accident in over a month.

He’s well on his way to manhood.

Two weeks ago, I was building blocks in the den with Micah and Jonah (my middle boy who will be 2 in late November) when Jonah picked up a block and threw it across the room. Without really thinking about which boy I was talking to I said, “Go to timeout.”

Now, for this story to work, I need to set this up for you.

About 3 months ago, Jonah learned how to get out of his crib. We have kept him in a crib as long as possible because it just makes life easier when you have a place that your kid cannot escape from. Well, those days are over – he can now escape (and usually does escape every morning around 5:30 am, but that’s a blog for another day.) We have also been using Jonah’s crib as his timeout place for the last 6 months. (I know, I know – we shouldn’t use his bed as a place of punishment, but you’d be amazed at how many things we do that you’re not ‘supposed’ to do as parents.)

Anyway, when I told Jonah to go to timeout, he stood up, turned around and walked away – without even a whimper. After about a minute I looked at Kristy and said “where do you think he went?” We both started to walk to the back of the house to find him when we looked in his room only to see that Jonah was sitting in his crib. Who would have known! Not only can the kid get out of his crib but he can actually climb in!

He’s well on his way to manhood.

The other day, Nate (my third boy who is 8 months old) started cutting a tooth. He also recently learned how to sit up without falling over.

He’s well on his way to manhood.

I look forward to those days in the future when we will play football, hike mountains, shoot guns, go camping, play with fire, learn how to treat girls, build tree houses, and do all kinds of others things that boys who are becoming men do…but until that time…I am just enjoying watching as these little guys learn how to use the potty, build with blocks, eat with utensils, sit up, say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no mam’, pray to Jesus at bedtime and love life.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Everybody Wants to be Somebody

Alright, I’ll admit it…I like country music. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because my high school girlfriend liked it and I’ve enjoyed listening ever since. Or maybe it’s because my buddy Crispin is a huge country music fan and makes me listen to it every time we’re in his truck, or maybe it’s just because country music has such an encouraging, positive message. Whatever it is…I enjoy listening. In 2006 country music star Toby Keith released a song entitled “Get Drunk and Be Somebody”. For those of you who have not yet learned to appreciate the true joy and richness of country music, here is the chorus to Keith’s song:

All week long (we’re a) bunch of real nobodies,
But we just punched out and it’s paycheck Friday,
Weekends here, good God almighty,
People lets get drunk and be somebody

As I was listening to this song the other day, I got to thinking…you know, everybody wants to be somebody. Nobody wants to be a nobody.

I’m not going to disclose too much in this blog; I’m not sure I really want the whole world having access to my dirty laundry, but I will go so far as to say this – sometimes, I just want to be somebody. I’m not proud of it and I really don’t like it, but sometimes it’s just true. (For those of you who have never experienced this, congratulations – you are convincing when it comes to lying to yourself!)

I guess one thing that I take comfort in is that I’m in good company. In the gospel of Luke there’s this one verse that says, “And there arose also a dispute among them (the disciples) as to which one of them was regarded to be the greatest” (22:24). I get this picture in my head of these 12 guys hanging around in this room (with Jesus present) arguing back and forth…

James: “Well…he did wash my feet first, so obviously, I’m the greatest…”

Andrew: “No way! He might have washed your feet first, but when He was picking disciples…he picked me first. I’m definitely the greatest.”

Peter: “Actually Andrew, if you recall, he really picked me first. And quite honestly, I really thought that I might be the greatest, you know… his favorite, but then he went and healed my mother in the law the other day…so now I’m not so sure…”

So, here you have these 12 guys and they all want to be somebody. They want it badly enough that they are actually willing to argue about it in front of Jesus. Personally, I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that it’s even in me, but they didn’t seem to mind.

As I have been reflecting on this lately though, I have come to the realization that I really don’t want to be somebody. At the deepest part of my being, I ultimately desire to live a life that is lived out as though I have nothing to gain, nothing to lose and nothing to prove. I desire to have a heart and a life that finds its ultimate security and value in simply being a child of God’s. The truth is though, there is no way to live a life with nothing to gain, nothing to lose or nothing to prove until I become honest with myself and admit that at times I try to gain, try not to lose and try to prove that I am somebody!

The world sings their anthem loud and clear…Be Somebody!

But as I look into the scripture it really seems that Jesus’ plan for us as his followers is quite different…lose your life, don’t worry about gaining, losing or proving…just follow me.

Eventually 11 of those 12 got it. They realized that everything that they were was because of God. And they lived their lives accordingly.

So, today I move closer to singing my anthem, the same anthem that those disciples sang on their journey through life and eventually to their deaths:

I am loved by God. Everything that I have, everything that I am is because of him. I find my security and my value in Christ alone. There is now no need to be somebody. Therefore, I may now live today with nothing to gain, nothing to lose and nothing to prove.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Little Old Ladies

Kristy and I live two houses from a private high school in beautiful Metairie, LA. It just so happens that this school’s parking lot provides a great shortcut to get to my house – much quicker than if I take the regular route. The gates are always open, so I have always assumed that the school must want me to use their parking lot to get to my home. About 2 months ago, I did my normal cut through the parking lot only to find that the gate that I usually exit through to get home was closed.

There are actually 3 gates that I could exit through to get home; so I slowly drove past the first closed gate only to notice that the other two were also closed. As I circled around the parking lot and looked through the gate at my house I figured that getting out of my car to open the gate might be a little inconvenient, but it would get me home quicker. So, I pulled up to the gate, stepped out of my car, took 2 steps towards the gate, when all of a sudden I heard a high pitched voice from behind me yelling, “Sir! Sir! Please don’t open that gate sir!”

For the past 4 months, I have been stuck in this one book by Watchman Nee entitled Spiritual Authority. In his book, Nee makes every effort to explain that as Christians, God desires that we would learn to submit to authority. Nee explains that to submit to authority is to submit to God and the one who rebels against authority ultimately is rebelling against God.

Nee writes in his book, “Whoever has met authority deals purely with authority and not with man. Let us not see the man but only the authority vested in him. We do not obey man but God’s authority in that man.”

Since reading the book, I have asked God on a number of occasions to show me my shortcomings, to challenge me, to teach me, to show me the places where I might actually be living in rebellion towards God – either directly or indirectly. I have asked God to make me aware of His authority everywhere that I go.

To be quite honest, I really thought that God might choose to use my boss or a mentor, a police officer or someone who has some real authority in my life. Instead he chose to use a little old lady yelling at me with her high pitched voice.

You might think that this really isn’t a big deal.

So what? Who cares? Some lady asks me not to use the gate, so I just get in my car and leave.


Where’s the brush with authority? Where’s the rebellion in that?

Well, let me finish the story…

As I turned around to face this woman, something inside of me began to burn with anger. I could feel my face turning a bright shade of red. My ears began to burn and I could feel the beads of sweat forming on my bald head.

I had been caught red handed and I was so mad. I knew that it was private property. I knew that it was wrong to cut through the parking lot. I knew that it was wrong to get out of my car and attempt to open the gate. I knew all of these things. Unfortunately, none of those thoughts were going through my head.

Instead I was having other thoughts. Evil thoughts. Thoughts like:

Woman! Do you know who I am? (Now, to be quite honest with you, I’m not even sure what I meant by this question. I mean…really…who am I? I am Brian Jeansonne – the guy who cuts through this parking lot illegally, every single day!)

Thoughts like:

She is little, brittle and old. I bet that I could open that gate, get back in my car and drive out of here before she could even run those 30 yards or get my plate numbers…

Thoughts like:

Who does this crazy woman think she is, telling me not to open up this gate?

To make matters even worse, I consciously chose to turn and glare at her. I didn’t say anything with my mouth; I just let my eyes do the talking. I could not believe that she was telling me what to do, or what not to do.

As I got back into my car to make the journey home, I kept mulling over how angry I was…and then it happened. As I sat at the red light, blood pressure raised, sweat rolling off of my brow, I sensed God ask me: “Brian, why are you rebelling against me?”

And it was at that moment that I realized (again) that I have much still to learn and that God will use anyone or anything necessary to teach me.

So, if you are looking for a good heart challenge; if you’re looking to take a journey and learn a little bit about what it truly means to submit to God’s authority in your own life, I recommend two things:

Number one: Check out Watchman Nee’s Spiritual Authority

Number two: Watch out for little old ladies

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover

About two months ago, I was browsing my bookshelf and a very plain looking book caught my eye. The book is Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee. This book has been on my shelf for about 5 years now, but for whatever reason (I think it’s because the cover of this book lacks pizzazz) I have not picked it up before.

Well, today I am reading through the book for the second time in 2 months and it is changing my life.

God seems to be doing a number on me, page by page. It is difficult to even put into words what I am learning right now. I do intend to revisit this subject and try to express in a future blog what I am learning.

As far as today goes, I just thought I would give you a couple of challenging quotes straight from the pages of Spiritual Authority:

“Whoever has met authority deals purely with authority and not with man. Let us not see the man but only the authority vested in him. We do not obey man but God’s authority in that man.”

“As man’s obedience increases, his actions decrease. When we first begin to follow the Lord we are full of activity but quite short on obedience. But as we advance in spirituality our actions gradually diminish until we are filled with obedience. Many, however, do what they like and refuse to do what they dislike. They never ponder whether or not they are acting out of obedience. Hence many works are done out of self and not in obedience to God.”

“Many consider themselves obedient to God while actually knowing nothing of being subject to God’s delegated authority. He who is truly obedient will find God’s authority in ever circumstance, in the home, and in other institutions…Special attention must be paid each time words of reviling are uttered. Such words should not be idly spoken. Reviling proves that there is a rebellious spirit within; it is the germination of rebellion.”

“Only a fool takes pleasure in the failure of delegated authority. He who dislikes God’s delegate dislikes God Himself. It is the rebellious nature of man that makes him want to obey God’s direct authority without being subject to the delegated authorities God has established.”

“To be an authority is to represent God. Whether it be in wrath or mercy, an authority must always be like God…A delegated authority is supposed to manage affairs for God.”

“A person who has known authority will naturally try to find authority wherever he goes…the Christian will look for and find authority everywhere.”

“Only those who do not know authority are those who wish to be authorities.”

Those of you who know me well know that I am always recommending books. Well, today is no different.

This book is defenitely worth checking out.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Maybe We Could Just Follow the Planes...

If you have been keeping up with my blog over the last few posts, you have probably noticed that God seems to be doing a real number on me when it comes to my heart. I truly believe that the last couple of months have been an intense exercise in learning to love – an exercise that is transforming my heart, my attitude (I truly hope those around me often can tell a difference) and my life.

The things that God is teaching me are coming out in my blogs, in my journal and also in my teachings. In church right now, we are doing a series entitled: Revolution. The series is all about learning to love – truly love – people as Christ has commanded us to. Last week I taught that love is patient – or – slow to anger.

The way I see it – I am on a steep learning curve and it seems like God has no desire to allow me to remain the same or to run in place. Yippee.

As I write, I am on an airplane flying back to New Orleans from Chicago, where I was doing an Alpha conference.

So, I have to share this story with my 3 faithful blog readers.

Just for fun, I’m going to let you in on the process of me learning to love.

This morning I taught the first session at the conference and as soon as the session was over, this young girl found us and said, “I’m Emily. I’m taking you guys to the airport.”

We had a bit of a cushion, but I knew going to O’Hare Airport in Chicago we would need a good amount of time to check in, so I was anxious to get going.

We loaded our bags and hopped into her car. As we started driving we made some small conversation and then she says, “I am so bad with directions. I hope I can find this place.”

This statement caught me off guard and to be honest with you it scared me a little.

Immediately I began to have thoughts…bad thoughts…things like:

Aren’t you from here? You don’t know how to get to the freakin’ airport?

You have got to be kidding!

You’re not really a brunette, are you?

You have one job for this conference – getting people to the airport!

Maybe we could just look up in the sky and see all the freakin’ planes and follow them!

There must be over a million people who live in Chicago and this is the only person they could find to bring us to the airport?

At this point I really was a little nervous…so here is the conversation that I actually had out loud with Emily.

Brian: “So, Emily….do you live around here?”

Emily: “Yes. I live close by.”

B: “No kidding. Do you get out much?”

E: “Yea…”

B: “But you don’t head over to the airport to often?”

E: “No….but…last year for this conference I took a bunch of people to the airport, but that was like a year ago.”

B: “Oh.”

At this time, Emily pulled out her phone and called her mom for directions.

As she talked to her mom, I sat quietly in the backseat, looked up and watched all of the planes that were flying over our heads. And I began to have more thoughts.

We’re screwed.

Don’t look at Shawn (who was traveling with me.)

Maybe she could just take us back to the conference.

There must be over a million people who live in Chicago and this is the only person they could find to bring us to the airport?

As these thoughts are flying around in my head, we pulled into a gas station to ask for directions. I was at least happy that she was a girl, because asking directions at a gas station was not going to be a problem for her.

At this point, I started thinking that we would certainly miss our flight so I pulled out my phone to text my dad.

The text read….

“They got some 22 year old chick who doesn’t know where the hell she is going to take us to the airport. We are currently at a gas station asking for directions.”

I waited for a few minutes and finally received a text back from my old man. It said, “Love is patient.”

Indeed it is.

We made it to the airport in plenty of time. I remained calm the whole way and did not let my thoughts or my emotions dictate how I treated Emily or responded to her. Instead, I chose patience. (Thanks dad.)

When we got out of the car Shawn and I shared our thoughts and pretty much agreed on two things.

1. Choosing to do the right thing is always the right thing to do.

2. In the future whenever we are asked to take someone, somewhere…we might not know where we’re going…but we’ll never let on to that fact.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Global God

This past weekend I was in Boise, Idaho visiting a friend of mine who is one of the pastors at the Boise Vineyard. On Friday morning as we were walking through the office, Tri – the Pastor of the church – stopped me and asked me to step into his office. (I met Tri about 2 years ago when he led a team down to New Orleans to help with Hurricane Relief.) As I sat down on the sofa in Tri’s office he proceeded to explain to me that the guest speaker he had scheduled for the weekend was extremely sick and was unable to make the trip from Australia. He then told me that it just so happens that four different people from four different parts of the world - where the Boise Vineyard is involved in missions - were in town. He asked me, along with the others, to each talk for about 10 minutes at all three of their Sunday morning services about the things that God is doing through the church in the places where we live.

The other speakers included Savve from Fiji, Chris and Cathy from the Philippines and Shelton and Rebecca from Zimbabwe.

As part of the morning worship set we sang ‘Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble’ by Martin Smith. The bridge and chorus to the song sing:

And we can see that God you're moving
A mighty river through the nations
And young and old will turn to Jesus
Fling wide your heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord

Open up the doors and let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring your hope
Songs that bring your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice

Following worship, one after another we stood on stage to tell about the things that God is doing in our parts of the world. It was such an amazing experience that showed just how small our world is and how big our God is.

To hear the stories of those around the world bringing heaven to their piece of the planet was an incredible picture of dancers dancing upon injustice. From the hurricane ravaged streets of New Orleans to the Zimbabwean villages that have no drinking water to the tribes in the Philippines that have no toilets, we heard story after story of the Kingdom of God coming to these places through the church. One Church. One God. Many different faces, places and cultures.

Coming on the heels of my last post, I am absolutely convinced that God is alive and well and he is concerned and connected with all of humankind. He is a global God and his Kingdom is powerfully and forcefully advancing through the love, lives and commitment of his followers.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Image is Everything

“So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.”

What an extraordinary idea – the Creator of the universe choosing to create every single man; every single woman on the planet in his own image.

Once when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, “Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

As I have pondered these words over and over again, I am continually intrigued with the fact that Jesus did not separate the two. The man asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” It seems to me that Jesus could have stopped after saying, “Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength.” But he didn’t. He felt the need to take it to the next level. And not only did he take it to the next level, but he actually said that the second commandment was like the first.

It’s almost as if in the eyes of Jesus, you can’t have one without the other.

It’s almost as if Jesus is saying, you don’t really love God if you don’t love people.

I feel that God has really been stirring something deep within me in this area of loving others over the last year or so. I seem to be a pretty slow learner, so I can’t say that I’ve got it yet, but I do believe that I’m on my way.

For so many years I have tried so desperately to love people. I have read the words of Jesus – “love your neighbor” – and I have tried to do this very thing. At times I have been successful. At other times – I have not.

Only recently however, have I really begun to understand why Jesus tells us to love our neighbors – to love others (other than the obvious reason that God just loves people). As the great poet wrote thousands of years ago, “God created man in his own image.” We are created in the image of the Creator. The King of the universe has chosen to make us in his very own image. That means that the guy at the gas station pumping gas next to me is created in the image of the same God as I am. That means that the girl waiting on us at Houston’s restaurant is created in the image of the same God as we are. That means that the SUV driving next to you down Interstate 10 has an entire family in it who are created in the image of the same God as you are. These people are our neighbors. It’s easy to see. We live next to them. We eat next to them. We shop at the same stores as they do.

And, although this is true – it is really much larger in scope. Because it also means that the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa people who are being driven from their homes and slaughtered in Darfur are created in the image. It means that the thousands of children in Africa who are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus are created in the image. It means that those who are being sold into slavery and prostitution around this world are created in the image.

I have never really been much of a global thinker. I have always taken the mindset that I just need to focus my time, energy and attention on those who are close to me. I know that there are people all around this world going through there own trials, but honestly I never thought that it really affected me because I am so far removed.

Over the last couple of weeks however, I have been incredibly stirred by reports of slave trade, sex trafficking, the Darfur genocide, AIDS in Africa, extreme poverty and more.

I have come to the conclusion that these people and these situations should concern me, because they certainly concern God. I have come to realize that all people are created in the image of God. All people are created in the image of my God. All people are created in the image of the same God that I am created in. We live on a planet that is full of people with different color skin, different education, different language, different socio-economic status, different cultures…same image.

The one thing that the entire global village has in common is that we all bear the image of the Creator who formed us.

When there is an atrocity against any human being, it is an atrocity against all humankind. It is an atrocity against God himself. Whether a young 16 year old boy is gunned downed in the streets of hurricane ravished New Orleans or a woman is raped and beaten along the borders of the Sudan – these are sins against humankind – sins against God. As part of the global village, these acts affect me. They affect you. They affect all of humanity because we are all in this thing together.

Rob Bell* writes, “When a human being is mistreated, objectified, or neglected, when they are treated as less than human, these actions are actions against God. Because how you treat the creation reflects how you feel about the Creator.”

We belong to a community which extends far beyond state or continental lines. We belong to the global village. We are called to love. Not just those in our home or neighborhood. Not just those in our city or state. Not just those in our country. But we are called to love – all people. We are commanded by God to love our neighbors because – there is inside of every single person on this planet – an image – the image – the image of our God.

It is not until we learn to love the creation that we can truly say that we love the Creator.

*This quote was taken from the first chapter in Rob Bell’s second book, Sex God. If you have not had a chance to sit down with this book, I strongly encourage you to do so. This book certainly ranks in my top 10.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reclaiming to Restore - Part IV

Part 4 of 4

We now see our God in a different light…

He is not an angry dictator, who wants to wack us.

He is a:




His desire is to restore us to the life he intended…

His desire is to restore all men and women to the life he intended…

To make us all into the people whom he created us to be.

We see people in a different light…

We understand that all people are made in the image of God.

We don’t see a man without a home and disregard him as a worthless bum, but we realize that he is a fellow image bearer…and he is worthy of being:


We don’t see the prostitute as a whore who has no self-respect, but we see her as a fellow image bearer…who is worthy of being:


We don’t see those in a different economic bracket or of a different race or nationality or those who align themselves with a different political party as less than ourselves, but we see them as fellow image bearers…who are worthy of being:


We understand that all people have been created in the image of God.

We see our culture in a different light…

We understand that sin has marred God’s creativity…

But we also understand that much of our culture is worthy of being




We understand that we are not to abandon culture, but redeem it.

For the Christian life is not about abstention, but redemption.

We are commissioned to throw ourselves into culture so that all that God made is reclaimed to be used in ways he intended .

And the way we redeem culture is by using and cultivating culture rightly in a way that brings glory to God.

Being a Christian is not cutting yourself off from real life; it is entering into it more fully.

Whether it be music or art or dance or film, as Christians we understand that these things are from God we are free to



We see God’s creation in a different light…

We understand that this earth is our home.

We’re here for the long haul…

We understand that litter and pollution are spiritual issues.

We understand that we cannot live independently of the world God has placed us in.

We understand that when it comes to God’s good creation, we are called to:




In his book, Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell writes: “The point of the cross isn’t forgiveness. Forgiveness leads to something much bigger: restoration. God isn’t just interested in the covering over of our sins; God wants to make us into the people we were originally created to be. It is not just the removal of what’s being held against us; it is God pulling us into the people he originally had in mind when he made us….The goal here is not simply to not sin. Our purpose is to increase the shalom in this world, which is why approaches to the Christian faith that deal solely with not sinning always fail. They aim at the wrong thing. It is not about what you don’t do. The point is becoming more and more the kind of people God had in mind when we were first created. It is one thing to be forgiven; it is another thing to become more and more and more and more the person God made you to be.”

May we all be changed by the power of our God.

May we all experience what it is to be reclaimed

May we all experience what it is to be renewed

May we all experience what it is to restored

That we may all go forth to reclaim, to renew and to restore.


Reclaiming to Restore - Part III

Part 3 of 4

But like any good father, God decided right then and there that sin, death and the devil would not win.

As you read through the pages of the story of God and his people, you will notice that God wants to be here, with his people.

If you skip to the end of the book, you will read that one day, The Lord of the Heavens and Earth, the God of the Universe will come down and will take up residence on the earth with his people.

Revelation 21:2 – I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away….for I AM MAKING ALL THINGS NEW.”

This is a picture of our God’s plan to defeat sin, death and the evil one:




Heaven is not our final destination

But as Christians we understand and anticipate spending forever right here

In a new heaven that comes to earth.

The goal is not to escape this world but to make this world the kind of place that God can once again come to.

But how can we do that?

We can do that because as Christians

God is making us into the kind of people he originally created us to be.

The kind of people, who can do this kind of work.

How is God doing that?

Through the death and resurrection of His own Son.

You see, Jesus is God’s way of refusing to give up on his dream for the world.

He has reclaimed us from sin, death and the evil one

In order to renew us and to restore us to our original purpose.

And now, though this world is still fallen and marred by sin we are new kinds of humans.

Humans who have been reclaimed, renewed, restored.

Humans who understand that we reflect the beauty and creativity and wonder of the God who made us.

Humans who have one goal:

Your kingdom come

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven

Humans who bring heaven to earth.

Humans who usher in the goodness of the presence of God everyday, everywhere, in everything.

In every relationship, in every transaction, in every meeting, in every situation

We bring heaven to earth.

We are humans who understand that mentoring a child at the local public school is just as spiritual as spending an hour on our knees praying.

We are humans who understand that preparing a meal for a friend who has just lost her husband to cancer is just as spiritual as going to church.

We are humans who understand that playing cowboys and indians with our children in the backyard is just a spiritual as reading the book of Ephesians.

We are humans who understand these things because we understand that no matter what we are doing, we are doing it all for the glory of God with the intention of bringing heaven to earth.

We are humans who fully embrace our life here and now on this earth.
We are humans who understand that we live in the forgiveness of Christ




Our life is no longer about sin management.

When we are living in the fullness of who God created us to be, we have no desire to sin.

We now live a life that has been transformed and empowered.

The kingdom of darkness is a temporary kingdom on the planet

But now we understand that the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Light has broken in

And now, we live lives in which we are empowered to bring goodness to the inhabitants of this earth.

So, what does it all mean?

How does it change the way I live my life?

Reclaiming to Restore - Part II

Part 2 of 4

But even in those wonderful early days, there were two ways:

There was: the way of God

The way He created things to be;

The way He designed things to be.

And should mankind choose the way of God, then man and woman would experience life to the absolute fullest.

But remember, there were two ways:

The way of God

And there was: the ‘other’ way

A life that could be lived ‘outside’ of the way God designed things to be.

Basically, it’s the rules of the roof concept:

For anyone who has kids or has ever been a kid, you more than likely understand the ‘rules of the roof’ concept.

If you’re going to live under this roof then you will follow these rules.

The rules of the roof are not designed to make life easier for the maker of the rules, but are designed with the follower of the rules in mind.

These rules / guidelines are in place so that one may more enjoy life.

The creator of guidelines is in essence saying, “I know what is best for you…though you might not believe that, I know what is best for you, so here are some guidelines to better help you get the most out of life.”

In our house we have rules of the roof for our boys:

They’re simple:

No jumping off of the top bunk

No opening the front door

No running to the van without mommy or daddy

No climbing on the counters

No taking the knives out of the dishwasher

No sitting on your brothers heads

When you choose to live by the ‘rules of the roof’ life is good, because you are safe.

The rules are for your own good.

They are the best way.

Sadly however….God’s creation chose the way ‘outside’ of God’s design.

The day that Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they in essence chose rebellion.

They chose their own way over God’s way.

They chose to disobey the ‘rules of the roof’

And on that dreadful day, with the simple act of eating a piece of fruit and a more deliberate heart motive that says, “I know better than you, God”, the kingdom of darkness was given a place to manifest itself and with it came:









The absence of goodness

The absence of God – His rule and His reign.

Harmony was broken.

Relationships were broken.

Creation was tarnished.

Culture was blemished.

The Creator of the Universe was heart broken.

In that one simple act of deliberate disobedience, mankind robbed himself of living a life to the absolute fullest

Sin messed up God’s good thing.

Reclaiming to Restore - Part I

The following is part 1 of a 4 part series. I will post the final 3 parts over the next 3 days. I am writing about those things that have had a radical impact on my life over the last 10 months. This blog is inspired by a series of teachings from The Vineyard Church, personal study, prayer and some of the following books: Velvet Elvis (Bell), Simply Christian (Wright), Heaven is Not My Home (Marshall), Naturally Supernatural (Best), Heaven (Alcorn), Sex God (Bell), Heaven is a Place on Earth (Wittmer) and The Radical Reformission (Driscoll). The following writing has been taken from a teaching that I recently taught at The Vineyard Church. I hope that you enjoy.

Part 1 of 4

Today, I would like to tell you a story. This is a story of what was. A story of what is. A story of what will be. As you move through this story, my hope is that your life will be impacted, your capacity to love will be enlarged and your heart will be changed...forever.

In his book, Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell writes: “The point of the cross isn’t forgiveness. Forgiveness leads to something much bigger: restoration. God isn’t just interested in the covering over of our sins; God wants to make us into the people we were originally created to be. It is not just the removal of what’s being held against us; it is God pulling us into the people he originally had in mind when he made us….The goal here is not simply to not sin. Our purpose is to increase the shalom in this world, which is why approaches to the Christian faith that deal solely with not sinning always fail. They aim at the wrong thing. It is not about what you don’t do. The point is becoming more and more the kind of people God had in mind when we were first created. It is one thing to be forgiven; it is another thing to become more and more and more and more the person God made you to be.”

Are you becoming the person God made you to be?

Again, Bell says, “God makes us in his image. We reflect the beauty and creativity and wonder of the God who made us. And Jesus calls us to return to our true selves. The pure, whole people God originally intended us to be, before we veered off course. Somewhere in you is the you whom you were made to be.”

Once again, are you, the you, whom you were made to be?

Are you becoming the you, whom you were made to be?

According to Genesis chapter one

God created all of creation out of formlessness and emptiness.

In progression, he created:

Light and darkness

Water and skies and land

Plants and trees

Sun and moon and stars

Creatures to live in the waters

Creatures to live on the land

And then, in His most magnificent move

The Creator of the Universe created his crowning achievement:

He created Man and Woman

And upon creating this man and this woman, he commanded them to…

Rule over his creation…

Work his creation….

Cultivate his creation….

…and care for his creation.

And on the 7th day, the Lord God rested and He said, “It is good.”

Out of absolutely nothing, God created everything.

In his book, Sex God, Bell writes: “Each thing God creates and sets in motion is a step, a progression away from the chaos and disorder toward order and harmony. The first things God commands these people to do, then, involve the continuation of this ordering and caring for and the ongoing progression away from chaos…God’s intent in creating these people was for them to continue the work of creating the world, moving it away from chaos and wild and waste and formlessness toward order and harmony and good. As human beings, we take part through our actions in the ongoing creation of the world.”

That’s it. The original plan.


Living in harmony and order

Separated by nothing

Cultivating a fruitful, vibrant life forever on this planet

On this good planet.

God’s plan was good from the very beginning.

God’s desire was for good.

No sin

No stress

No pain

No disease

No tears

No death

No sorrow

Just goodness

Monday, February 5, 2007

It's 3 A.M...Do You Know Where Your Wife Is?

On March 1 Kristy and I will celebrate our 48 month anniversary – 4 years of marriage. Four years ago, I was 26 years old, living in a beautiful one bedroom apartment, had two nice cars, a great job and lots and lots of free time. Enjoying movies and a variety of dining experiences on a weekly basis, Kristy and I enjoyed our lives as we had very little responsibility and lots of ‘us’ time. Just 4 short years ago, I could be awakened at 3:00 in the morning, roll over and wake my wife up for a little 3 a.m. action. What a life!

It’s amazing how much can change in just 4 years time.

Forty eight months later our lives are in no way, shape or form the same as they once were (except that we’re better friends today than we were then). Now, don’t get me wrong – we still get to enjoy the things we once did. We still enjoy the movies and probably watch them more than in the past. Of course these movies include Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Toy Story, The Lion King and Jungle Book. We still enjoy a variety of dining experiences such as McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts and Chuck E. Cheese’s. We still have two nice cars – if you consider a mini-van a nice car. And most importantly we still get up at 3:00 a.m. The only problem is, now when I wake up at 3 a.m. it is usually to a child crying and more often than not I’m lying next to a space void of my best friend. As I write this today Kristy and I now have 3 boys – Micah (28 months), Jonah (14 months) and Nathan (4 days).

Saturday night, we had our newest addition, Nathan, home for the first time. All was running smoothly until about 11 pm when Nathan (4 days old) woke up Jonah (14 months). After getting Jonah back to sleep and Nathan fed, all seemed well until Jonah woke up again at midnight, lying in a bed that he somehow managed to wet from one end to the other. (I don’t know how a kid that small can pee that much.) I changed the sheets as Kristy began rocking him back to sleep. As she rocked him, I headed back to our bed only to be stopped in my tracks by a crying Nathan. So I went and took care of Nathan and finally met Kristy back in the bed at 1:30 a.m. Around 3:00 a.m. our oldest son, Micah (28 months old) began crying. As I rolled over to see if Kristy was going to make her way to Micah’s room, I noticed she wasn’t there. I was instantly transported in my mind to the days when we would get it on at this time…but I digress. Not tonight. As I get up and move towards Micah’s room I notice Kris in the den once again feeding #3. So, I go to Micah’s room and work my magic until he falls back asleep. At 5:45 a.m. I wake up in Micah’s bed (that was my magic) and drag myself to the shower to start another day. What a life!

Last night in our home, our experience was the same as Saturday night, with the addition of one child throwing up and having to clean up that mess. Needless to say, I am incredibly tired today. I could take time later to write out all of the things that I am learning right now, but that would make this blog way too long. So, I’m just jotting down the cliff notes today:

1. God is really teaching me, once again, that choosing selflessness is the way to go – especially in my marriage. I have been amazed to see how much it enhances my relationship with my bride and how valued she feels when I choose to help her in the middle of the night with our kids.

2. God is teaching me to enjoy the stage of life that I am in. Whether you’re single and want to be married, married and want to have kids, have kids and want more kids, have kids and want them to leave for college – the stage that you are in is what it is – and it will be gone one day so don’t rush through it. God is teaching me to truly enjoy where I am in life.

3. God is teaching me about his love for me through my kids. Just as I take incredible pleasure in my boys, he is teaching me that when I live in his presence, I can truly experience his pleasure in my life on a regular, daily basis. (I will certainly write more on this.)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dying Well

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy once said, “Life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments.”

There are moments in time in all of our lives that have the potential to define the rest of our lives. These are moments that could change us for all times – if we let them. I believe that I am in the middle of one of those moments right now.

An ordinary man once said, “…the time has come for my departure and it is okay with me because I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (italics mine).

Actually, in my mind, the man who uttered those words has always been to me, anything but ordinary. Those words were spoken close to 2000 years ago by one of the most devoted Jesus followers who ever lived – his name was Paul. He was a man of conviction, a man full of passion. He was a man who lived in total surrender and obedience to his Master, his Lord, his Friend. He was a man who literally died for the One he loved. To me, that is not ordinary, but on the contrary, quite extraordinary.

I have often read those words and wondered what it would be like to utter such a phrase. I often wonder if one day as I lie on my death bed, will I be able to say that I have fought the good fight, that I have finished the race, that I have kept the faith? In my thoughts, I’ve always hoped that I would be able to utter those words, but have never really known for sure. That is…until today.

This past week, two people that I knew had their earthly lives stolen from them by cancer. Both were young. One was in her early 50’s. The other, a man, was 42. Both were fully aware that their time on earth was quickly coming to an end. Both had lived very different lives.

She had experienced an incredible relationship with Jesus for many, many years. She was incredibly loved by those in her life and she played a huge role in showing others to a life changed by Jesus. I was unable to visit her in her last days, but as I have spoken with those who had the opportunity to spend time with her; they all made mention of how much love and joy and life were in the home in which she was dying. There was no ‘spirit of death’ so to speak. There was no fear or regret. There was just life. In the midst of death; there was life. And in her death she finished strong and died well.

He, on the other hand, had spent most of his life stuck in a rut, far, far away from God. This man met Jesus about 3 years ago. It was a wonderful introduction in which his life began to change. For him, however, his own personal demons would not stop their tormenting and he found himself once again in that old familiar place. About 3 months ago, I ran into him. Once again, he was tired of living life his way; he wanted to make things right with his family and with his God. Two days later he found out that he had terminal cancer. As this man lay dying on his bed, he admitted that he would rather his life today, with the freedom and love he felt in his relationship with Jesus, than his life of old; and that he would not trade the one for the other – for anything. He died a few days later. I believe that my friend finished strong and died well.

I am a follower of Jesus. I am not ashamed of that fact. As a matter of fact, I believe that I am more excited today that I am invited to follow Jesus than I have ever been in my life. I, like most, desire to finish strong and eventually, one day, die well. At the same time, I also have an intense desire, while I have been given time on this earth, to both live strong and live well.

So, today, why do I believe that the Apostle Paul was just an ordinary man who was able to utter such peaceful and extraordinary words at the time of his imminent death?

I believe that Paul was an ordinary man because my Christian friends, who passed from this life on earth this week, passed in the same way that Paul passed. These Christians who passed this week were ordinary people, just like you, just like me. But they were both filled with the presence and power, the love and acceptance, the grace and mercy of the one and only Jesus Christ – the same Jesus Christ whose spirit filled the Apostle. Ultimately, both surrendered to the call of God on their lives and they answered in humble obedience. Ordinary people experiencing relationship with an Extraordinary God. And when this extraordinary God comes to dwell within us – He takes the most ordinary of people and He changes us, enables us and empowers us to be and to say and to do all of the things that he has called us to be, to say and to do. I believe this is the key. Living a humble life, fully surrendered to the Extraordinary One who has chosen us.

For our days on this earth, may we all live strong and live well and one day, may we all be able to say, ‘the time has come for my departure and it is okay with me because I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. I have finished strong and I may now die well.’

(Note about the photo: As I was driving around town the other day, I saw this church marquee. It summed up everything that I had been thinking and feeling. I had to go back with my camera. I don’t think I will attend the seminar, I do believe that the real life experience is God’s way of transforming me.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Smell of Rain

A couple of weeks ago, I started a new tradition with my 2 year old son Micah. We have started waking up on Monday mornings and heading off to Dunkin’ Donuts – just the two of us. We’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks now. We turn into the parking lot and Micah begins yelling ‘donuts, donuts!’ As soon as we walk in the door he turns to his left, opens up the cooler and takes out a chocolate milk. I then sit him on the counter and ask him what kind of donuts he wants. The answer is always the same – ‘chocolate.’ After we get our six donut holes and our chocolate milk, I give the bag to Micah and he leads me to our table where we sit and talk about donuts. Sometimes Superman goes with us, sometimes it’s Woody and other times it’s Buzz, but the most important part of the morning for Micah is just that we’re together and we’re eating donuts. It’s all about the moment.

Kids are funny people. I’ve always liked kids, but I didn’t really appreciate kids until I started having my own. When you have your own kids, it’s really cool because you finally have someone in your life that has to do what you say and you get to practice counting to three a lot. The most amazing thing about kids though, is just how much you can actually learn from them. If my boys have taught me one thing then they have taught me a thousand things. But one of the things that I love most is that they have taught me (or are teaching me) how to slow down and live in the moment.

This morning I left my home around 6:30 am. It was cold and rainy – a typical January morning in New Orleans. This morning for whatever reason, I was not in a hurry. As I stepped out of my front door, the cool morning air brushed across my face and I felt alive. As I stood on my front porch looking out at my car through the falling rain drops, I was filled with a sense of awe. It was cold as I stood there in that place, but I experienced an overwhelming sense of God’s presence as I realized that today was another day of life, full of opportunities, full of possibilities. I pondered running as quickly as possible to my car or just waiting it out for the rain to stop. I chose to wait. And in that moment, I could smell the rain. I don’t know how to describe that smell to you. All I know is that it was the aroma of life. It was fresh. It was refreshing. It was the moment that I was in. It was the only moment that I was being guaranteed.

On Monday mornings, Micah is so content to eat his donuts. He has no idea that there is more to do that day. As far as he is concerned, it’s just him and his daddy enjoying chocolate milk and chocolate donuts. His finite mind cannot fathom that there would be anything more, anything better than where he is at that precise moment. I hope that one day; I can be just like my boy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's All About Me....Right?

Whenever I hear someone talk about serving others I am always intrigued by the idea. I like to picture to myself contributing to the lives of other people, helping to make their lives easier, better. I have grandiose visions of being the one who is always there when needed, quick to reply with a simple ‘yes, I can do that’ or ‘I’ll certainly be there to help.’ I can so easily get lost in those thoughts, those ideas. It makes me feel all tingly inside.

Then I usually come falling back to reality only to land once again so comfortably on my plush sofa in front of my 32” flat screen television. My wife- who is 9 months pregnant - is running around the house chasing my 2 year old son, Micah, while toting around my 14 month old son, Jonah. She makes it look so effortless. Dinner is on the stove, there’s a load in the laundry, my boys have on clean diapers, the den is free of toys and I can just sit back and relax. Life is grand.

Then she looks at me and asks “Could you please put Micah in his chair and start feeding him dinner?”

“Um…hello… I’m watching television? Anyway, you seem to be doing just fine.”

Then the phone rings. I don’t like talking on the phone. As a matter of fact, I hate talking on the phone. But I notice that it’s a buddy of mine, so I answer. He asks if I can come over tomorrow and help him spread a load of dirt throughout his yard. I don’t like moving dirt. As a matter of fact, I hate moving dirt. I am trying to figure out if there is any way out of this. Maybe Kristy will need help feeding Micah at lunch time tomorrow. Certainly that would be easier than moving dirt.

“I’ll have to get back to you buddy and let you know if I’m available tomorrow.”

So, what is it that stands between my grandiose visions and my reality? It’s really pretty plain and simple. I am selfish. I wish there were another way around it, I wish there were a prettier way to say it…but I’ve thought this through and it’s just the plain truth. I guess I’d be pretty content to stay selfish if it weren’t for the fact that I am a Christian and the fact that it really makes me feel like a bad person. Sometimes it makes me feel so bad that it motivates me to be a little more selfless, but most of the time… it doesn’t make me feel that bad. I figure that since this is the case, if I really want to live like a Christian, I’m probably going to just have to start choosing to act a little more selfless and all along the way continue to ask God to transform me.

I really do like myself in that grandiose vision of mine…not because it makes me look like a good person, but because I know that the person in that vision is making a radical impact on the lives of others for God Kingdom…and I really do like that.

Philippians 2:3-8 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!"

When I read passages like this, it really reminds me that Jesus is my hero. I have other heroes, guys like Brennan Manning (author), Rick Warren (Pastor), Jack Baurer (CTU Agent), but as cool as these guys are…they just don’t match up to Jesus.

I mean, Jesus taught a message – a ridiculously radical message – and then he went out and did it. Think about this – Jesus was God in the flesh, but he decided not to let that get in the way of getting himself killed for me. The Bible actually says that he made himself nothing, and that he took the nature of a servant.

Imagine that….God….a servant…

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Opinions, Listening, Optimism and Bitching

As I sit and think about the new year, I am really excited about all of the possibilities that 2007 has to offer. There are a lot of things that I want to do this year and a lot of things that I want to be by years end, but there are also a couple of things that I don't want to do and don't want to be by years end. Actually, truth be told, I don't want to be or do these things by weeks end.

So, let's get to the list...

I don't want to complain and I don't want to be a pessimist. I spent a lot of 2006 working on this, but it is very difficult to overcome. I think that I am better at it today than I was one year ago, but I think I have a little more ways to go. Quite honestly, I am so sick of hanging around with people who complain and people who constantly have a negative outlook on things. I don't know if I am one of those people, mostly because I'm with myself all of the time and I think when your around someone a lot you kind of get used to that person - even if it's yourself. But I know one thing for sure - since I don't like being around those people - I certainly don't want to be one of those people. Instead, here's what I'd like. I want to see opportunities, not problems. I want to be the guy who finds solutions and doesn't just bitch and complain about the hardships. I want to be the guy who is constantly looking for the good in all situations and in all people.

Another thing that I really want to work on this year is listening to people. I have always been a decent listener, but I think I have a long way to go. One of my biggest problems is that most of the time when I'm listening to others I am simultaneously thinking about what I'm going to say which in turn means that I miss a lot of what is actually being said to me.

Finally, I want to keep myself in check when it comes to believing that my opinions are fact. I have been working on this a lot for the last 8 -12 months, but I want to continue working on this. I have opinions. I think that's okay. What I don't think is okay is when I begin to believe that my opinions are right simply because they belong to me.

So, by years end, I'd like to be able to say that I am less opiniated, more optimistic, that I spent more time listening, and less time bitching.