Friday, September 29, 2006


A quote from Tim Sanders' book titled: Love Is the Killer App

"The value with you inside a situation is greater than the value without you."

It's about adding value in everything we do and realizing the value-added by others. We all want to be our homes, in our jobs, in our relationships in our church. Negativity will result in value-lost. Foster the value in yourself and in others...contribute to the overall value of those around you. Tim calls this your "Network", your entire web of relationships. Be valuable and help others to contribute value...valuables are always appreciated...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

First time....

Ok, I'm 34 years old and I've done something today that I've never done before. I mailed a Birthday Card to my dad. That's right. I've never sent a B-day card to my dad. Why? Well, it's an extremely long story which someday I may begin posting on but....the short story is, my mother divorced my dad when I was 2. It was a very abusive relationship on all counts....Mom and us 7 children. Dad has never tried to be part of our lives and so over the last 34 years, I have seen or talked with my dad maybe 15 times. I miss him. I don't miss the abuse, but I miss my dad. He's lived in Memphis, Tennessee for the last 15 years or so. Before becoming a Pastor, I was a building contractor and we were building a Cancer Treatment Center in West Memphis, Arkansas. This was in 1996. I knew my dad was somewhere in Memphis, I just didn't know where. I located him and twice visited him while working across the river from Memphis. I would swing by his house on my way back home for the weekend in Alabama. It was a strange couple of visits. Almost like talking to a complete stranger. But I don't regret making the decision to go.

This past July, we had our first ever Lewis Family Reunion in Russellville, Alabama. Russellville is where my Dad's side of the family comes from. I still have a sister and 2 brothers living in mom lives only a few minutes from Russellville. I love going back! Well, on our way back home to Texas, I thought I would "swing" by dad's place and introduce him to his 2 grandchildren he has never met and his daughter-in-law whom he has never met. Tiff and I have been married for 13 years in July but she had never met my dad. He has never met my children either....Grace 7 and Chase 4. I wanted them to meet their Grandpa Lewis. I wanted Grandpa Lewis to meet them. I was a little unsure as to how they would react to dad because he is severely disfigured. When I was just a baby, dad and my uncle John were involved in a massive furnace explosion. Dad is burnt on 95% of his body. The only parts of him unburned are his feet and his waist....his leather boots saved his ankles and feet while his leather belt saved the skin under it. The rest of his clothing was burned completely off. As a result, dad is badly disfigured and handicapped. This is the only way I have ever known my dad. I have pictures of him prior to the explosion and he is a tall, dark haired handsome man. So, I was worried how the kids would react to him. I gave them all, including my wife a preparatory description of dad. I wasn't so much worried about Tiff being able to accept him, but I was a bit anxious about my children. To my complete amazement, they never flinched. They were kind and didn't shy away from him at first glance. They were able to see past the burn scars and see Grandpa Lewis. I was very proud of the way my children handled what must have been a very difficult situation. We sat outside and talked for about 2 hours then said our good-byes and we were back on I-40 West headed toward Texas. Now, 2 and a half months later, I still recount that visit in my mind all the time. In about a month or so, I hope to go back to visit dad. I've never told my dad that I forgive him. I need to do this. Although I do, it's never been said. That forgiveness has never been extended. I'm going to take a pilgrimage back to my birthplace in Janesville, Wisconsin. I need to put some things behind me. I need to reflect on God and His amazing grace that has brought me to where I am today. I'm going to take 2 weeks...just me, my thoughts, and God. I'm sure I'll cry a lot when I go back but I trust it will bring a healing to my soul that is long overdue.

Well, I didn't intend for it to get this lengthy. I could write a book or 3 on all of this. Maybe God will direct me to do something of that nature sometime. I don't know. I do know this.....our experiences in life, good or bad, will never be wasted by God. God never wastes a hurt. He always uses them to help us become who He knows we can become. The person he destined us to be.

Thank God for that!

Happy Birthday, Dad....I love you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Part two...........

Ok, so how does one effectively relate a gospel that is difficult to wrap the brain around?

I think one thing has to be realized first and foremost. No one has all of the answers! There, I said it. I don't have all of the answers to life's questions and neither do you. I realize the more I understand God the more I don't understand God. God tells us that, "His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours." God cannot be "figured" out. He can not be formulated. He can not be captured. We must become the captured. When sharing the love of Christ with someone, I'm sharing my personal experiences of that love with them. That is the one thing a person can share, their own experiences.

When Legion had been delivered from the many demons in his life, he wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus tells him to, "Go home to your friends, and tell them all the great things the Lord has done for you, and has had compassion on you." What did Legion do? He went throughout Decapolis broadcasting all that Jesus had done for him. We're told that all that heard him "marveled". Legion shared his personal experiences with the Lord. To effectively relate this gospel of Jesus Christ, you have to share your experiences. You'll be more passionate about your personal experiences with Christ than those of another. The New Testament word for this is "witnessing".

Do you remember the Samaritan women whom Jesus met as he sat on Jacob's well? This exchange is very revealing in many ways.
Jesus, by way of compassion gets into this woman's life to reveal to her the deep need she has for God. By the end of the conversation she believes that Jesus is in-fact the Messiah! She goes back into town and begins to tell the men that she had met a man that told her all she ever did. "Is this not the Christ"? She is immediately sharing her experience of being with Jesus. What was the result? John 4:9 gives us the answer. "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did." Her experience is now relating the gospel message! What's even more interesting to me is this.....

John 4:40: "So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
John 4:41: And many more believed because of his own word;
John 4:42: And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard [him] ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Many more believed because of Jesus' words. The better translation of verse 42 would be this:
"They said to the woman, We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

You see, it was their own personal experiences with Christ that drove the point home! They now know he is the Savior of the world because they had now experienced Him for themselves. Isn't that the ultimate goal of the witness? To get people to experience the love of Jesus for themselves?

I think the struggle with sharing the gospel in some folks is that they don't have enough personal experiences with God. You cannot share what you have not experienced.

You don't have to have all the answers to effectively relate the gospel message, but you will have to have had a genuine encounter with Jesus........

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How does one.......

Effectively relate a gospel that is difficult to wrap the brain around? Now, I know what you're thinking already. What kind of opening comment is this? How can you NOT grasp the gospel? It's so simple that even a child can understand it!

Does a child understand it or just simply receive it? In the "synoptic gospels", we find Jesus telling his disciples that if they are to receive heaven, they will do so as a little child receives.

Obviously there are even greater truths that come up to question through these statements of Jesus....but we'll save them for another time. That is one of the things I love about God's word.....the answer to one question leads to yet another question. Never stop searching....never stop wondering....never lose the awe of God's word! Suffice it to say, children of Jesus' day were not highly favored in Jewish tradition. IF they received anything of their father, it would be 100% generosity of the father, not by merit of the child.

When David's reign as King of Israel was nearing an end and King David was on his deathbed, he said to Solomon, "I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man." IKings 2:2

In the very next chapter, God has made Solomon King over Israel. But what does Solomon do? Does he receive his new assignment as a man? He tells God, "O Lord my God, now you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn't know his way around." IKings 3:7

Translation....I don't know how to wrap my brain around this!! Solomon, receives his new duties as a child. He is unsure of what it all means.

Again, I ask the question. How does one effectively relate a gospel that is difficult to wrap the brain around?

It's an understatement to say that Jesus did things and said things in His 3 1/2 years of public ministry that is difficult to understand.

For example:
Love your enemies, If you even look on a women and lust over her, you have committed adultery, If you are to be great you must become servant to all.....How did he walk on water anyway? What about feeding 5000+ on the hillside with 7 items. Five fish and two loaves of bread? I know the short answer is miracles...but I'm not satisfied with the short answer. I want to relate the deeper truth of who Jesus was then and who He is now in my life. I believe Him to be the same yesterday, today and forever!

to be continued.......

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Valero Texas Open

Today was a fantastic day! I spent the entire day with my Sister, her husband and two sons at La Cantera Golf Course! Which means "The Quarry" in Spanish. The Valero Texas Open is being played there this weekend. I love golf and it was a ton of fun watching some of the best golfers battle it out on the course today. None were doing so well as Eric Axley though....this guy was on fire! His finish today put him at 16 under! Unbelievable. Tomorrow is the last day of the tournament. I sure hope he can hang on for the win.

I was able to grab some autographs on my hat from some players today, including Eric Axley....others were, Fred Funk, Jesper Parnevik, Justin Rose, and John Senden. All great golfers. I also registered to win a Harley Davidson and a 42" Plasma Television...woohoo...wouldn't that be sweet!!??!!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Family Movie Night!

In my previous post I talked about resigning from my game server. It was a great decision.

Now that I have more "free" time, I'm planning my time differently. Thursday I had to go to WalMart to pick some things up and while I was there I saw a movie my children had been wanting to see....If I'm to be honest, me too :) Anyway I saw it and picked it up. The movie is Disney Film called: The Wild. I won't go into the plot of the movie here but suffice it to say, it was a great film that we all enjoyed!

All day long Chase, my 4 year old, asked me if tonight is Family Movie Night. My kids wanted to wait until it was dark before we sat down to watch the movie....I guess it's not really Family Movie Night if it isn't dark outside. I made sure I got by the store so we could have popcorn while watching the movie as well. After it was plenty dark out and the popcorn was popped, we turned every light in the house off per Gracie's request and watched the movie together....we laughed together and had an incredible evening. After the movie was over we talked about our favorite parts with one another. I really enjoyed it! I firmly believe that some of the greatest moments in life are missed because they are the simplest moments we tend to overlook. Grab the family...find a movie, pop some popcorn and laugh together!

I gave it up!

Well, I've finally finished the migration away from Call of Duty2. This was the game server I hosted for quite some time. If you know anything about hosting a game server, you know they demand a lot of your time. They are very time consuming. Add to that a full service website with a highly active forums and you have even more demand on your time. When I first started hosting the game, I loved it! It was great. But after some time, it begins to eat up ALL of your time. For me, that's dangerous. I have way to many other things I want/need to do. So, I resigned my clan/server and left it in the capable hands of the members. Out of 7000+ plus servers, my server -=SNIPERFIRE=- had been ranked 167! That's not bad! We've switched all the databases out of my hosting account, switched the game account and transferred all of the files via FTP so I am officially done! I am so relieved too. Now I will have the opportunity to do what I love the most. Give more of myself to God's purposes for my life. Sometimes in life we involve ourselves with things that don't really point to our goals, whatever those goals may be. Sometimes we need to look at where we are headed and make decisions as to whether or not it's the right direction. For me, the game server was not. It would never bring me to a completion of my life's goals. Only God can do that so I must remove those things that I willingly involve myself with that hinder that movement rather than assist in the movement. Here's the thing. When we are caught up in doing something that really isn't what we are about, eventually it begins to leave a bad taste in our mouth. It begins to reveal itself as a time thief. Time is a finite resource, we should use it wisely :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

We're not alone

God reminded me of a valuable truth tonight. Not only is He with us in all we do for Him but he also places special people to do the work next to us. I just left a board meeting a little bit ago and to be honest, I went into this meeting kind of feeling like I was alone. My church has been constructing a beautiful new facility for God's work for the past 3+years. Well, after such a lengthy time of building, it's beginning to wear on me physically, emotionally and spiritually. When these things begin to wear on you, you start to think singularly. As if you're the only one feeling these weights. God reminded me that I'm not the only one here. There are others that care deeply about the vision that God has given this ministry. I'm not the only one that carries it and has a deep love for it and a commitment to see it's completion. I have an entire church that shares this with me. I do believe God called me to do what I'm doing. Of that I have no doubt. My doubts are in myself sometimes. Can I really do it? Do I really have what it takes? Am I strong enough to see this through? The answers to those questions are no, no and no. I can't do it without God, I don't have what it takes apart from Christ and I'm not strong enough within myself to see this through. That's why God gives us others to work with, plan with, strategize with, struggle with, cry with and finish with.

Thank you God for where you have me right now. At this point in my life. May I always have the strength to see your work through. Even when it's difficult, even when I'M difficult. When I'm weary, weak and worn. You are faithful! When you're done with me in this work, I shall follow you to the next but not before.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Yesterday was a great day!

I woke up yesterday with one thing on my mind. SELL Tickets!! Our children's ministries at church is selling BBQ Chicken Plates. I took 44 tickets in hopes to sell them all at $5.00 a piece. After I got my morning routine accomplished, I set out to accomplish this task of moving my 44 tickets. About 9:30 I sold my first 4 tickets to Terri. Terri is the lady who cuts my hair. By 2:30p.m., I had sold all 44 tickets! 5 hours and I was "ticketless". The best part of selling those tickets to various places in our community was the chance to talk to people. It was really a fun day for me. So, as of right now, I think I'm in the lead for the most tickets sold. The reward? A $50.00 cash prize! I wonder what I'll do with it?

Yesterday worked out well in more ways than one. Just the other day as I was meditating on God and His work in my life, God impressed upon me to visit a local bar in town. Yes, a local bar. 11th Street Bar to be exact. I'll have to post a pic later. I know it sounds crazy. But he did. I asked God, "Is that really what you want me to do?!? God's reply was, "That's what I'd do". What do you do with that? I yielded and said, "Ok...that's what I'll do too." So as I was out selling tickets and I ended up on 11th street at the our church's old location. We sold the building to build our new one and it's now an antique shop. I go in and speak with Kevin, part owner with his Mother. Kevin was nice enough to buy two tickets from me. As I exit the antique shop and look to my right, 2 buildings down is the 11th Street Bar. I make my way down there, not to sell tickets, but to meet my new friends.

11th Street Bar is a unique establishment you could say. I walk up and notice 2 guys sitting at an outside table with drinks in hand. I walk through the gate, grab a chair and place it at their table and with all the confidence I can muster I say, "How's it going guys?" They were very welcoming and replied with, "Just trying to beat the heat." I was in!! They didn't say, "What do you want, who are you, or you don't belong here." Immediately the bartender says, "What can I get for you honey?" I respond by telling her I don't drink, but I'm thirsty so what do you have? We settle for a cold Coca-Cola.

As we're setting there, the guys and I just begin talking about whatever. I can talk about whatever because it's vague and at that moment, vague was very much what I was about.

We talked about allergies, the new construction the bar is undergoing, the long hours Melissa, the bartender, had been working. I felt it was time to let the cat out of the bag and divulge the real reason I was there. I asked them if it was OK for a preacher to come into the bar and kind of "hang out" even though he wouldn't be buying anything. The response was unanimous. "Sure! If you can handle the language", Rick said. All of them were open to my request. I began telling them that I had spent much of my childhood in a bar as my parents were for sometime bartenders themselves. Now I had a real connection! I begin to share how we spent Sunday mornings cleaning up the bar and finding money everywhere. It was like a contest between my younger brother and myself to see who could find the most dropped money from the night before.....we all laughed together.

Rick asks me where my church is and I tell him where it is and he replies, "That big church on the highway?" I said, "Yes, that's the one." I began to tell them that I'm not there to preach "at" them, but to simply hang out with them. I firmly believe that a relationship must be established before the gospel can effectively be communicated. I don't think they would have been so accepting of me had I went into their domain and hammered their lifestyle with my Bible or my theology. So I now have an open door to their personal hangout! I'm thrilled with that!

I asked them if they've ever had a "preacher" come hang out with them at the bar? They responded by saying, "Nope! You'd be the first." As I got up to leave I told them to have a good day and thanks for letting me sit in with them. Rick looked in disbelief that I even came to this bar as I was standing up to leave. In all, I spent at least 30 minutes with them. I hope there will be more late morning encounters at the 11th Street Bar that await me!

I'll be going back to this bar to further my new found friendships with Melissa, Rick and I forgot his name. I'm bad about that! :) Need to work on it!

I'm looking forward to the many firsts that God will lead me in as I journey with him!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin will be missed

It's not often that you are moved when you hear about the death of someone you don't know. I woke up this morning not having much planned as it was Labor Day. I figured I would kind of "take it easy". I did the usual, I open my web browser and began looking at the latest headline news on google when I saw something that immediately made me feel sick to my stomach. Steve Irwin had died! I thought I had misread it as I quickly refreshed my browser but sadly I hadn't. What a sad story. I always enjoyed watching this amazing person interact with amazing animals and different creatures from all over the world. He always made me laugh and wonder "Is this guy crazy?". He will be missed by millions of people all over the globe! My prayers are with his wife and two children that God would somehow comfort them in this incredible time of loss. Rest In Peace!