Aftermath.

Posted: February 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

We wake up on days like this and think this has to be a nightmare…
Dear God, yesterday couldn’t have happened…really?!
ANOTHER school shooting?!
We live in a world of lost boys and broken girls hurting each other, hurting themselves.
It’s a jungle out there, it used to be a garden.
Something HAS to change.
We have to lay down the rocks that we are prone to throw at each other.
We need to pick up our kids.
We need to tell them stories of hope.
We need to remember that love is ALWAYS stronger than hate, but it has to be unleashed.
kindness is a superpower that we all have at our disposal. It’s time to step up and put on the cape.
It’s a jungle out there, let’s turn it back into a garden.

The God of WOO and WOW!

Posted: February 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

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There is a word that has to be one of the coolest words EVER. It’s a incredibly fun word. It’s fun to say or shout or even whisper this word.
The word is WOO!
WOO is a wonderful word!
It means to try to gain the love of someone.
To WOO is to work to get the attention of someone you care about.
Valentine’s Day is a big WOO day.
People work hard to WOO today!
They WOO with chocolate and flowers.
They WOO with Valentine’s cards shaped like hearts.
But…hold on, wait a minute, wait a minute…put a little love in it…
WHAT IF the original Valentine’s wasn’t shaped like a heart, but instead shaped like a…
STAR?
What if in the beginning God created things like stars, and waterfalls, and cocker spaniels as Valentine’s?
WOW!
What if stars were God’s very impressive way of WOOing us, showing off, and getting our attention?
What if God WOOs us by creating a WOW?
I think God’s plan was for His people to be WOOed by the WOW. He created a garden that was full of WOW, but, in a shocking plot twist, Adam and Eve got distracted by the WHOA!!
We do that…
We lose sight of the WOW because of the WHOA.
As in…
WHOA! I shouldn’t believe this lie.
WHOA! I shouldn’t be here.
WHOA! I shouldn’t be doing this.
All the while God is WOOing.
The good news is that the God of the WOO knows how to wait.
He created a whole new Valentine’s. It wasn’t shaped like a heart, it was shaped like a cross.
In the ultimate act of WOO!
God died to show his love for us…WOW!
The Bible is one big love story. God is WOOing His people.
He wants them to experience the WOW!
But, we keep getting tripped up by the WHOA.
In Jeremiah 31:3 God tells His people: “I have drawn you with loving kindness”.
Let the Creator and Rescuer of your heart WOO you.
Choose to live in the WOW and not the WHOA!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Church Kid.

Posted: February 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

I grew up in the buckle of the Bible Belt.
The eighties were a magical time to be a church kid in America (even though we weren’t actually allowed to use the word “magic”).
We watched Gospel Bill and Fire by Nite.
We read “This Present Darkness” and it helped us see the invisible.
We wore “witness Tees” that flagrantly ripped off “secular” t-shirts…Bud Wise Up…God’s gym.
We learned that, although it was fine to steal from “secular” things, we should NEVER actually enjoy “secular” stuff. We could ONLY listen to secular music if we were listening to it backwards to find the hidden messages.
So we listened to songs that told satan to bite the dust.
It was a crazy time.

I grew up going to a small charismatic church in Owasso, Oklahoma (Charismatic is like Pentecostal with better fashion choices).
The building always smelled like mildew.
That little church shaped me.
I wasn’t always happy to be there.
Many Sundays I was dragged by my Mom. I think she knew that church would shape me.
We had a youth group of six kids.
Church happened Sunday morning, Sunday night AND Wednesday night.
We never ever missed it.
Never.
Ever.
I wanted to serve, not for noble reasons, simply because serving is always more interesting than sitting.
There were two main places for an unskilled angsty teenager to serve…
As an overhead projector operator or in kid’s church.
I got to be the overhead projector guy.
It was an important job that carried incredible responsibilities.
The overhead projector projected (hence the name!) the words to worship songs onto a yellowed screen.
The song lyrics were all handwritten with sharpie on sheets of clear plastic. My job was to put the shiny song sheet onto the lighted glass. The big fear is that you would put the words on backwards. My constant temptation was making bunny ears and other shadow animals.
Speaking of worship…
In the seventies, some of our worship songs were pretty violent. For example, consider this blast from the past…
“I will sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously , the Horse and the Rider are thrown into the sea” (sometimes accompanied by hand motions and a loud “splash”).
That sounds like a happy tune, but it’s based on the Red Sea story in Exodus. It’s a song about thousands of people drowning…hallelujah.
We had a lot of military songs about marching and kicking the devil’s butt.
It was a confusing time.

I also helped in kid’s church. We did puppet shows and used flannel grams to tell stories. (Surprisingly, flannel grams didn’t involve flannel shirts, I always thought they should have!)
We served up Goldfish crackers and Dixie cups filled with warm tropical punch Kool-Aid. We sung songs like “Father Abraham”. That kid’s church was my true training ground.
That church shaped me.
In the midst of a lot of cultural clutter I discovered Christ.
It was because of a tiny band of true believers, precious people who accepted me, encouraged me, and laughed at my stupid jokes.
It was just a small church that smelled like mildew. They never reached the masses…
But they did reach me.
It was a comforting time.

I learned so much there at the Foursquare Church.
I learned that every person matters.
Every.
Single.
One.
There wasn’t a crowd to get lost in.
I learned that you can be completely imperfect and still get to experience and communicate a perfect love.
I learned that BIG things can happen in the smallest places.
I learned that God was good and I’m not alone.
I learned that Jesus loves me, this I know.
I learned that sometimes miracles smell like mildew.

 

 

 

Soiling Myself Shogun Style.

Posted: February 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

It was a beautiful night…
Diana and I were enjoying a nice, quiet, semi-romantic evening out: a little dinner, a deep conversation, we were planning on going to some sickeningly romantic movie. It promised to be a truly unforgettable evening…
and that is exactly what it became…

We went to eat at one of those Shogun Japanese steak houses where an authentic samurai-style chef named Juan comes out armed with a sword, a spatula, and a tall hat. He slices, dices, and prepares your meal right in front of you. It’s all very exciting.
As we sat next to a giant aquarium full of sickly looking fish, our chef juggled our steak, seafood, and vegetables. (I guess it’s all right to play with someone else’s food, just not your own.) He threw sharp knives and salt shakers around just inches away from our faces. This meal was death-defying stuff. He flipped some shrimp and made a little onion volcano. It was soy sauce saturated entertainment!
Finally he finished the show, and we got to eat.
I was starving by then so I quickly inhaled my meat, veggies, and fried rice.
We were having a great time.
I was enjoying spending some time with my beautiful wife.
BUT…
all of that was about to be shattered by a rumbling in my stomach. I tried to ignore it. I sat there and drank a little hot tea. But the rumbling got louder and more violent. It became painfully obvious something in my tummy was desperately trying to fight its way out. I knew if I didn’t find a bathroom right away, things were going to get real ugly. I tried to quietly excuse myself. I walked briskly to the men’s restroom, reached down to open the door, and found it locked. The restroom was occupied!
THIS was HORRIBLE.
I could feel my colon about to make a serious download, and I knew time was running out. I knocked on the bathroom door and heard a raspy voice inside say, “Hold on, partner—I’ll be out in a few minutes. A few minutes? I did NOT have a few minutes.
I looked over and noticed that the women’s bathroom door was cracked open. I assumed this meant no one was in there. So I waddled over and swung open the door, only to discover that someone WAS in there. She screamed and let the entire restaurant know I was a filthy pervert.
I did the “trying to take my mind off this” dance, but it didn’t work.
It was bad.
I tightened every muscle in my body, hoping this would somehow hold things off. I heard the guy in the men’s restroom flush. Then he started washing his hands and whistling.
He was WHISTLING!
I couldn’t believe it.
Finally he began to open the door. At that point, it seemed like everything was in slow motion. He was an elderly man wearing a cowboy hat. He looked at me and said, “I don’t know what your cotton-pickin’ hurry was.”
At that precise moment, when I was just inches away from the porcelain promised land, my body reached the point of no control. I lost control, and my muscles, which up to this point had fought a brave battle to contain the coming flood, gave up. Right there in a Japanese restaurant in Arlington, Texas…
I soiled my shorts.
It was violent and loud and terrifying.
I made a sad, futile attempt to clean myself up. Then I tried to walk out like nothing had happened. Diana said, “Hey, Babe, do you want dessert?”
I looked at her with a pained expression and said in a hushed tone, “I pooped my pants.”
She said, “What did you say?”
I replied, “I…pooped…my…pants!”
She looked at me with a compassionate yet confused look and said, “Eeww!”
We walked out of there, trying not to draw any attention to me or my defiled pants. The hostess, who was wearing a brightly colored kimono, said, “Thank you. Have a nice evening.”
I looked at her and said, “I pooped my pants…”

 

Epilogue (or why in the world I would tell this story): I know what you’re thinking: Man, that’s gross. I’ve lost all respect for you, Luke. Why would you include this story?
Here’s why. A few weeks after this incident, I was speaking at a youth rally. I shared this story, and it seriously disturbed some people. But one disheveled-looking junior high boy came up to me and said, “You know, I pooped my pants a while back, and I thought I was the biggest loser in the world. And then I heard your story, and I realized everybody does that once in a while, and I realized I’m okay.”
THAT, my friend, is why I share this story. Because maybe, just maybe it will make someone realize they are okay. You can feel amazing liberation in knowing you’re not the only one who has messed up or failed or disappointed someone.
Two of the most powerful words in the English language are “me too”.
When we become vulnerable and completely honest, we open the door for others to identify with our mistakes or struggles. That opens the door for healing to happen. This is how we turn failure into fruit.
But too often we try to maintain the perfect facade, and we’re afraid to let people know we stumble and sin and soil ourselves. I’m not willing or wired to play that game anymore. If by exposing my shortcomings, someone else can find hope, humor, and healing, then I’ll do it. (I think that’s fairly obvious now.)
Something amazing happens when I admit to myself and those around me that despite my hard work and best intentions, I’m not cool and I won’t ever be cool—and it’s okay. Because God, who knows me more than anyone, accepts me, even when I soil myself, and he loves me. And not only does God love me, but he also likes me. And he feels the same way about you. When we’re honest and open about our weaknesses, God’s strength is truly allowed to show through us.

The last few years have introduced a trend that is kind of creepy.
Some celebrities are making a comeback…sort of.
We are hearing from entertainers that have…well…um…died.
It’s nothing supernatural. It’s all technical. We have seen holograms of Michael Jackson, Tupac, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. All captured in their prime…dancing, singing, rapping, doing their thing again…in spite of the fact that they have actually left the building.
And now there were rumors that Justin Timberlake was going to perform with a hologram of Prince at the Super Bowl, But, that got shut down pretty quick and instead Prince showed up on a giant curtain.

The hologram thing can look pretty real. But, they are just a little fuzzy.
It got me thinking, what if the Christian subculture capitalized on this?
Someone could create a hologram of Rich Mullins or Keith Green. Can you imagine? It would be HUGE!!! There could be a big comeback tour probably sponsored by K-LOVE or Chick-Fil-A. They could fire up the magic hologram machine and sell lots of tickets. The hordes would sing along with the familiar songs, people would cry and talk about recapturing something that the modern church has lost.
Honestly, I would be tempted to go! I loved both of those guys and their music was a very special part of my journey.
It is a great memory!
I saw both of them in person, I remember them. But it’s been a while, so it might seem kind of fuzzy.
That’s the funny thing about memories…they get fuzzy. We forget that the past wasn’t perfect. We start thinking that the past was better than the present and less scary than the future.
We are constantly trying to recapture something that once was and we end up with fuzz.
Instead of recapturing something that once was, let’s contend for something that never has been.
It seems like God is up for it…
In Matthew 9:17 Jesus put it like this, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
New wine has fizz…not fuzz. That seems like our choice…fuzzy or fizzy.
Live in the past, everything is safe and really familiar yet a little FUZZY.
Live in the moment and taste and see that the Lord is FIZZY.
Live for a memory or live for a movement.
Don’t recapture fuzz when you can discover fizz.
Jesus is not a hologram. He is alive and real.
Jesus, whose first miracle was turning water into new wine, wants to pour out new wine into our lives and gatherings.
He wants to bring the fizz!
Let’s pop a cork.

Super Bowl Monday.

Posted: February 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

It’s Monday after the Super Bowl, which really should be a national day off! But since it’s not, there are other ways we can celebrate. Here are some things you can do:
Every time you accomplish anything, do a touchdown dance.
Take a selfie with a stranger while listening to Justin Timberlake.
Randomly stand up and tackle yourself to the ground.
Flap your arms like an Eagle and shout “I can fly!!”
Get your hair cut like Tom Brady cause bangs are cool.
Use Kleenex as penalty flags to throw fouls on coworkers and family.
Eat some leftover wings and Doritos.
Celebrate good times, c’mon!

Wondering and Wandering.

Posted: February 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

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Suddenly our granddaughter has an exciting new skill!
The Moonpie can crawl!!
Her world will never be the same, (neither will ours!) She had been doing a modified army crawl the last few weeks to get around, but now she is off to the races. And she is already faster than me!
It is amazing how we are ALL designed to discover, and wired to wonder, and made to move.
The timing is different for all of us, but we instinctively know when it’s time to crawl, and walk, and move.
I recognize certain things in her that I see in myself. We are prone to wonder and now, wander. We both think we are fiercely independent without realizing that we are still completely dependent.
She is crawling looking for new adventure.
So am I.
I just got to try to keep up.