Monday, January 02, 2012

Why Jesus Came (In His Own Words)

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” ~ Mark 1:38

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:26-28 (also Mark 10:45)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” ~ Luke 19:10
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” ~ John 12:27
“‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’” ~ John 18:37
The incarnation of the Son of God is miraculous and wonderful in so many ways … but if the Story ends at the manger, or even in Egypt, then it is only a partial telling of the miracle and wonder; it only hints at the purpose.

For His purpose as stated is much the same as ours:
  • To preach good news
  • To be a servant; to give up our lives in service
  • To seek and save the lost
  • To face the hour of sacrifice with courage
  • To testify to the truth
Long ago the Preacher opined, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Jesus knew His time and His purpose. We who believe should, too.

Our time is now.

Our purpose is His.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Little Faith is Worth Something

Meditations on Faith after reading Colossians chapter 1
-Chris Gonzalez

A little faith is worth something, spotted and tattered as it may be. It is worth something because it exists. There is no better case against the forces of Evil than the existence of faith…faith in any condition or size.

Evil has a no tolerance policy on faith and therefore any little scrap of it is an affront. A little quivering, gelatinous splotch of faith is all that is needed to thrown Evil into a four-alarm emergency. Faith is so much a threat to Evil that it cannot justifiably and comfortably exist if even one person has one ounce of it. The threat that faith poses to Evil is so striking and so profound that it is like a giant lumbering through a land of tiny, tiny people. It could crush evil, even without trying. Faith, its mere presence, even in its weakest form, keeps Evil awake at night, mind racing, fearful of what to do about the problem. Frantic, manic and paranoid, Evil scurries about for solutions to this impossible problem of Faith.

What lie can be told to diminish faith?

What distraction can be concocted to have faith forgotten, even for a minute?

And yet, all Evil can do is defensively try to put out fires, all the while perplexed and frustrated as to how it is that these fires keep starting.

Evil’s endless movement to extinguish faith is merely a desperate attempt to justify its own existence. One instance of faith pronounces all of evil for all time irrelevant and meaningless. Evil loses when Faith exists. It is all or nothing. Faith may be beaten and bloodied by the wild and reckless flailing attacks of Evil, but Evil is constantly playing defense. Faith assaults Evil by existing. Faith does not have to actually do anything but exist in order to do damage to Evil. Faith with a sense of volition and agency sends Evil into a frenzied rush for the nuclear button. Faith in action takes Evil by the throat.

Oh ye of little faith, you wield a mighty power.

Monday, September 28, 2009



I always thougth diversity just happened.
I always thought that diversity was easy.
I always thought that diversity was someone else's job.

I knew that diversity is beautiful.

I knew that diversity is a sign of Christ.
I knew that diveristy fires us up.

I didn't know that diversity is intentional.
I didn't know that diversity is easiest when we start over.
I didn't know that diveristy means we change who we are.

Then I watched our praise team Sunday morning.
I realized that diversity is a gift of God.
How wonderful it is to preach for a church that is reflecting the diversity of our city.
How wonderful it is to be in a church that is more like our children's culture than mine.
How wonderful it is to have the chance to start over.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Reflections on Being A Dad

Today is my son's 17th birthday. What a joy it has been to see him grow in our home.
However, this post is probably more about me than him, and I guess I should begin by stating that. You can read on if you want, however as parents we do self reflection on our kids' important days at times.

I had a dad who was emotionally distant and didn't connect well with me or my brother. He was an atheist and had been a B-52 pilot in the Airforce. He was physically abused as a kid and I think in light of that he did a good job. However, he never missed our birthdays (except when he did a tour in Vietnam). He was at least present. Of course, as usuall I took my toys and went off to play with my friends. Didn't interact with him much. I always wondered if he felt it was a waste of his time to sacrifice a day to see me maybe 1 hour.

I guess I figured in my attempts to be a better dad and as a Christian, that was the least I could do.

I've so far been able to maintain that tradition. I think over the years that it wasn't hard. It is the right thing to do but I've met a lot of men who admit to not being consistent in their families.
Nathan's birthday comes in August when there are opportunities to speak at Family conferences. I remember last year backing out of a conference because they scheduled me to speak on his birthday, when I specifically said I would return home the night before. The secretary said, "Sorry, you'll have to miss," the director said, "No, we will change the date for you." It worked out. I actually met men at the conference who shared that they had missed their kid's birthday for a conference in the past. When I was working on my doctorate I missed the first day of a couple classes because I wanted to be there for his birthday. It really was a sacrifice and I had to work my tail off to catch up. Well--no more of a sacrifice than my dad was willing to make for me.

Hunter's birthday comes during one of the biggest national Biblical Scholar's conferences in the country. I make it 4 out of 8 years. I enjoy the conference. I also have many men tell me that they miss their kid's birthdays for the conference.

Caleb's comes one week after Lori's birthday, so there's never been a problem. Course, he's only four. I wonder what is coming down the pike.

It may seem like I am bragging and I don't mean to. I guess blogs are the place to talk about ourselves. I think how easy it is to say yes to speaking engagements. How easy it is to manipulate our kids and spouses by telling them "this is important," or by saying, "I'll make it up to you by doing..." However, I wonder if it is ever really worth the sacrifice. Jesus said, "What good will it be for a someone if they gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can a one give in exchange for their soul?" (Matt. 16:26) I wonder what would happen if we substituted family for sour (maybe made it plural instead of singular)?
Would it ever be worth the sacrifice?

Its not been that hard to say no the more I have done it. In actuality, I am fine and the opportunity to speak has always come around at a better and more convenient time. Even more, I have not ever wrestled with guilt when I have been gone and am preparing to speak or listen.
While this is self reflection I am hoping that some of you will at least take this to heart. Maybe your dad or parents weren't there for your special days. It doesn't matter that you understood (or were expected to understand). How did you feel? How would you have felt if they would have been there?

Maybe you have been there and are struggling to "be there." I hope this helps you. I hope you ask yourself and your families if it has been worth it. I hope you see what you have been missing.
You can change the future. You can be there. You can start a new tradition. Your kids will never criticize you for being there.

No one has left this life regretting being there for their families!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What is justice?

What does the word justice bring to mind? What did justice mean to Jesus?

I think of the words "fairness" and "equity" and "dignity" among others.

Today we're hosting Paul Kent from Habitat for Humanity Tulsa at the Green Country Event Center. We'll get his input on how our land or resources can be used to bring justice to those without adequate or affordable housing in Tulsa.

We're also hosting Linda Williamson, Chairman of the Board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Tulsa. She is bringing her team and we'll also get their input on how we can participate in justice for Hispanic people in Tulsa.

Friday, May 01, 2009

As many of you know today is our monthly Friday prayer and fast day. I am cramming a handful of Lays potato chips in my mouth in preparation.

The Vice Principle at Reynolds High School has recently challenged me to be praying about our work to develop boys groups in the high school. She has also been leading a committee to do a Human Trafficking conference in May at the school. She asked me point blank if I had a team, as she does in her church, who will be on their knees about this. Basically, she said Satan dominates in this area and will protect his territory. It is exciting to see that we have good people and people of faith fighting for our kids in the public school. It is humbling as a dad of one of their students, to be convicted as to what I should already be doing.

It made me think about our abuse, human trafficking, and recovery ministries. We have people breaking free and trying to stay clean. Some stumble, others relapse, but all are putting their heads down and pushing forward. They daily say no to Satan, or at the least they give it their best shot.

And I forget to pray for them.

I have been concerned about the girls who live across the street from me. While I was in the yard yesterday I asked her what I have been wanting to ask for weeks, “Are those boys treating you with respect? You know you can always talk to us if you feel you are in over your head.” She smiled and said yes, walked away, and stopped. Then she said, “Thanks,” and went in the house. Funny thing was I could feel Satan telling me over and over again I was too busy to talk to her, she didn’t care, I needed to go about my business. I had to ask for courage to do this one little thing.

How hard it must be for others to say no to something that grips their heart, soul, and mind. Those who are saying no to daily addictions have more courage than I can imagine.

How about tomorrow we pray for all our brothers, sisters, friends, enemies, ministry leaders, and Zak, Kathy, and Lori. As everyone seeks the God of order in a world of chaos can we pray, miss a meal or two, and ask God to help the weak, empower the strong, and protect all of them as they love others more than themselves. I will send this out to the missionaries I prayed for today and help this thing become global.

1 Cor. 10:13 God will not let you be tempted beyond your strength (God is keeping Satan at bay) but with the temptation will provide a way of escape (God is pulling for you and me).

Have a good day today.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Earth Day Wednesday, April 22

This message is from Michael, co director of Alternatives for Simple Living

How will you be spending Earth day? We hope you will be able to spend time enjoying creation and support efforts to encourage the wise stewardship of the planet earth.

A common comment these days is "Now is the time we need to start living more simply." Usually this comment is made in the context of the current economic situation, where people are losing their jobs and investment income.

That is a good reason, but I think the reason we need to live more simply is more than adapting to an economic downturn; it is about the survival of human life on earth. "Live simply so others
can simply live" says it clearly. We in the, so called, developed world cannot continue to consume in the fashion or amount we have grown accustomed to and expect that life on Earth will thrive let alone survive.

David Korten, in his new book, Agenda for a New Economy; From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth writes, "Unless we are voluntary simplicity initiates, we are inclined to increase our consumption in tandem with growth in our income, placing an even greater burden on our planet. We often say with pride, "I can afford it," without asking whether Earth can afford it."

Earth Day asks if the planet can afford humankind's careless use of resources, particularly the extravagance of the richest third of the Earth's inhabitants. Our faith traditions ask whether we are being faithful managers or stewards of God's creation, and reflect back to us, that as we care for creation we are showing love to God and neighbor.

Have a great Earth Day,