31 October 2008

my therapy

(video embedded...if you can't see it in your reader, click "view article" at the bottom.)

I was reminiscing a bit this week…about Africa and this season that we’re entering. I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving and the way that we’ve celebrated that over there a few times. I’ve been thinking about hope and loss and the way that politics shapes our lands. I guess I’ve just been thinking.

The video below was good therapy for me, a perspective check. It encapsulated a couple of weeks that we spent with some Grace Pointers in South Africa last year around this time. As we head into a potentially divisive election, I needed to see people who cherish simple freedoms that were not available only a generation ago. As we go into this absurdly materialistic season, I needed to see the impoverished people who live with incredible joy and full hearts. As we prepare for the arrival of our little Bella Areah, I needed to be reminded of a few faces that helped to inspire her existence.

I hope you’ll take a zen moment in your day and watch the video. I hope it’s therapy for you like it was for me. And I hope that we can all spend a moment to reflect, reorient, and reengage ourselves as we move into the different seasons that are advancing upon all of our lives.

30 October 2008

this parallel place we occupy

Life has funny parallels sometimes.

Living in Johannesburg, we often remarked on the gunshots we heard. It was not uncommon to hear multiple shots in the night and hearing them on our street was unfortunately a similarly regular occurrence. Stefani and I had a habit (that we shared with Tiffani while she lived with us there) of hearing the gunshots and then looking at each other and simply asking, “Firecrackers?”

The answer would be a nod of the head and an affirmative “Firecrackers.”

It wasn’t so much denial of what was going on around us as it was a way to acknowledge what we had just heard without giving it any power to induce fear.

There was, of course, the night when the Indian festival of Diwali started and we thought an epic gun battle was raging until we figured out that Johannesburg’s immense Indian population was setting off fireworks to celebrate. That really was firecrackers. But I digress…

Our residence in San Antonio isn’t exactly in the most posh suburban neighborhood. The homes are old and small. Graffiti abounds and we hear the names of streets around us mentioned on the news regularly as sites of violence and gang shootings. It doesn’t matter to us. We love where we live. It is charming and wonderful and, besides, we knew what we were getting into when we chose the area. Yet we do hear gunshots from time to time.

On Tuesday night, we were watching TV with Tiffani (who again lives with us as the occupant of our little guest house) and we heard those all-too-familiar pops of gunfire.

“Firecrackers,” she asked.

“Firecrackers,” we responded.

We all smiled and went back to enjoying the evening.

It only occurred to me later what Tuesday was…the first day of Diwali.

29 October 2008

all hallows even

Because you need to know things like this...

Halloween
has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year". Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the alive and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them.

History of name


The term Halloween is shortened from All Hallows' Even (both "even" and "eve" are abbreviations of "evening", but "Halloween" gets its "n" from "even") as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day", which is now also known as All Saints' Day. It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day from May 13 (which had itself been the date of a pagan holiday, the Feast of the Lemures) to November 1. In the ninth century, the Church measured the day as starting at sunset, in accordance with the Florentine calendar. Although All Saints' Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were, at that time, celebrated on the same day. Liturgically, the Church traditionally celebrated that day as the Vigil of All Saints, and, until 1970, a day of fasting as well. Like other vigils, it was celebrated on the previous day if it fell on a Sunday, although secular celebrations of the holiday remained on the 31st. The Vigil was suppressed in 1955, but was later restored in the post-Vatican II calendar.

(from the Wikipedia entry on Halloween...)

28 October 2008

you preach your own funeral

I went to a "memorial celebration" this past Saturday.

A man was fondly remembered by his family and friends for a life in which he impacted many.

At the point where the preacher would usually deliver a message to the attenders, the pastor in charge of the service stood up and said he would be doing no preaching that day. He relayed some wisdom his father had given him:

"You preach your own funeral."

How true...

We are all living this life ahead of identical moments, moments where our family and friends will gather to simultaneously mourn our loss and, hopefully, celebrate our life.

We will preach our own funerals.

What do you want the message to be at yours?

27 October 2008

thoughts that aren't quite worthy of their own post

We have some cleaning to do around the post-karmic house. Every so often, the “thoughts that aren’t quite worthy of their own post” pile up to the point where I need to release them in order to maintain my sanity. So, in no particular order…

-Did you know that libertarians and far-left liberals actually have a lot in common? We're exploring the possibility that if you get far enough to the edges of the political spectrum that you actually meet on the underside...

-Why is there lipstick on the nozzle of the office water cooler?

-An office mate of mine takes Crestor for his cholesterol. Couldn’t they make that in a spread or a seasoning, so he could just sprinkle the Crestor on top of his cheese-fries? They could make the Crestor look like bacon bits. Why am I not running a pharmaceutical company?

-Familiar with Stockholm Syndrome? I think it is my favorite syndrome by far…

-Remember the Beijing Olympics? Doesn’t that feel like it was 30 years ago already?

-I was recently given the new Ben Folds album in exchange for my lung (long story). I think Ben is having an identity crisis. Either that or he just became self-aware after years of delusional thinking in which he only thought he was self-aware. So, in an attempt to prove that he really is self-aware now, he completely refused to make the music that made him famous (and as a by-product convinced him prematurely that he was self-aware). Instead, we get the bones of a great Folds album (songwriting and melody) but covered in the skin of somebody who was sick of doing the same thing and wanted to completely ruin people’s expectations (bizarre tech-noise and less than clever lyricism). Confused? Me too.

-We’ve only been back from Africa for 7 months.

-Japanese people drink something called Pepsi Cucumber Ice. These are things I think you should know.

-Is anyone as disturbed as my wife with regards to what is happening between Jim and Pam on The Office? She is deeply concerned. I, on the other hand, am just happy that Dwight is still around and that Andy intends to move to Celebration, Florida.

-Celebration, Florida makes for a really funny, really subtle laugh. I wish I hadn’t read so much about the place, but it is fascinating and disturbing and wholly American.

-I noticed that not many people are taking Columbus Day off. This definitely bodes well for my plan to eventually replace Columbus Day with Amerigo Vespucci Day and then to eventually replace Amerigo Vespucci Day with No One Discovered Anything Since There Were Already People Living Here Day.

-My cubicle neighbor tells me that I have the same ring on my office phone as the people in the TV show “24”. Now you know.

-I think we need to have a well-written and realistically haunting “end of the world” movie come out. Not one with monsters and bazookas and spaceships and spider-men. I am talking about emotion, grit, and a renewed sense of our own frailty.

-Winter is the best season.

-If for some reason Stef pops out twins in December, the second child will be named Reverend Willie Dengler Burkholder regardless of gender. Cross your fingers.

-Can I admit to watching this season of Survivor? Survivor was an entertainment life-saver in Africa. Somehow, out of a sense of loyalty and a consistent fascination with how hunger skews judgment, I can’t bring myself to turn it off.

-Why does it take $4/gallon gas (petrol) to tell us that being more efficient makes sense? And with the price dropping to $2 soon, how many of us will now relax our efficiency standards? Wouldn’t it be wise to always seek ways to maximize the return on an investment? I don’t see what the price of gas has to do with anything. No matter where it is, you save more money if you drive a more efficient car.

-It’s Truck Month!!

-I don’t like Diet Coke or any other artificially sweetened drink for that matter. I once blogged about the study I read that showed how zero-calorie artificial sweeteners actually caused weight gain lab mice because the human body doesn’t recognize the amount of “sweet” it is taking in (since it’s artificial) and therefore ends up eating more because of a false sense of modesty... I really like Diet Coke with Lime. The fake lime covers the aspartame and the sweet taste helps me forget about the cancer that the drink is probably causing in me. Good stuff.

­-A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song, due to near homophony.

-If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be taking pictures with a cell phone, buying diapers on something called amazon.com, listening to music stored on a flash drive, ignoring the World Series, connecting to something called “the internet” without wires, living in 78201, voting for Democrats, preaching at a church, and reminiscing about the years I spent in Africa…I would have checked myself into an asylum right then. Still, none of that is really all that impressive. We still have people starving all over the world and no amount of touch-screens is going to solve that problem. A little perspective...

26 October 2008

the roots do indeed grow deeper when its dry: a source of hope in gray days

(on occasion, youtube videos, like the ones in this post, do not come through in email and reader subscriptions...if you can't see them, click the title of the post to come through...)

David Wilcox will be in San Antonio on November 1st at Lions Field, near Brackenridge Park. Hope to see you there.






24 October 2008

augie's barbed wire smokehouse - a review

(After a heavy blogging week, some lighter fare...well, not really lighter, but you get the point...)

My religious upbringing had a place for food in the worship experience, though the experience was, well, wafer-thin.

I have found a new place for including food in the worship experience. It is called Augie's Barbed-Wire Smokehouse and it is located near the San Antonio Zoo on N. St. Mary's Street, or what will now be called: "The greatest piece of culinary road on planet earth."

I first began admiring Augie's from afar when I learned that they served pulled pork, a great southern (as in Tennessee and North Carolina) BBQ favorite that we Texans have neglected due to our bizarre fascination with beef brisket. Don't get me wrong, I will put down brisket with anyone, but this pulled pork thing is ridiculous. I mean, it's like we Texans are a remote village that has rejected trying wine because we really enjoy our fermented beet juice. Well, the fermented beet juice may be nice and all - but the geniuses in the next village over have wine!!

Beet juice aside, I finally made my way to Augie's as I had some work-related business in the area for a few days. I was not disappointed. I had pulled pork on Monday (which comes in a HUGE portion) with buttered corn, mac and cheese, and some killer sweet tea. I went home and told Stef all about it. I considered creating a new Christian denomination devoted to Jesus and pork (dodging lightning bolt)... I almost got a pig tattooed on my lower back. The point? It was good.

On Tuesday, I had to go back. Again, I indulged in the most tender, wonderful meat I have ever had the privilege to enjoy. At one point, I literally looked upwards and thanked God for the simple pleasures in life as I ate my lunch. I teared up a bit at one point, although that may have had more to do with the book I was reading (Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters - sigh)...

So Wednesday rolled in and, guess what, I again stumbled into Augie's for BBQ'a holy grail - pulled pork. Again, culinary bliss.

Do I need to tell you where I went on Thursday? Yup. Augie's. Hey, the company offered to buy me lunch four days in a row - I took them up on it.

Am I overselling things here? Maybe. Do I think I could build it up so much that you would be disappointed? Not bloody likely.

I gotta say that I think Augie and I should be friends. Maybe neighbors. We could get an apartment together...

Augie's BBQ sauce has enough black pepper and smoky flavor to distinguish itself nicely from all of the dressed up ketchups that we so often find at BBQ joints. His sides are all good. His sweet tea is beautifully typical South Texas crack. And his willingness to make pulled pork everyday (only so much though - they do run out on occasion, so go early) makes him my favorite San Antonio restaurateur by a mile.

All of this to say: There are a few places in town that I will never turn down an invite to...a couple coffee shops and burger joints, a certain Italian restaurant, and now - Augie's Barbed Wire Smokehouse


Thanks to Dave at http://silvercreek78250.blogspot.com/ for the photos...

23 October 2008

of favor, fulfillment, and our falsification of his thesis

Remember your English and Composition classes? Remember when the teacher explained a thesis statement? Remember how they told you that everything that follows the first sentence is in some way directed back at that statement as support?

Consider how Jesus began his ministry. It is his introductory sentence or thesis, if you will...
When Jesus came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come."

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them.

The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day.
He read the Scripture that had been handed to him. I don't think it was a matter of coincidence that he would read the bit he did.

He came to fulfill that writing. He came to bring the Lord's favor. He came for the poor, captive, blind, and oppressed. Knowing all of that...is our perspective of Jesus changed at all? Do we still feel like the object of his ministry? Have we successfully continued his ministry if it was indeed to bring favor to those folks?

What is the reason we don't often talk of this Christ-thesis? Could it be that it is easier to follow the Christ we have created for ourselves, in our image, than it is to follow the one who stood in the synagogue that day?

22 October 2008

of incense and worship

I love the metaphor of incense as worship.

I love the symbolism of smoke wafting ever-upward, on its return journey to the Source.

I like to think of acts of worship being memorialized by a planted stick of burning incense. And I like to imagine that one day we could get enough burning at once to pervade the senses of entire cities. The smell would be unmistakable. The haze would be unavoidable.

The metaphor only gets embedded deeper...


21 October 2008

of abundance

We are swimming in abundance.

The stock market is down about 632%, house prices are nose-diving, we are mired in war in the middle-east...

The sky is falling, right? Wrong.

We live in a land of incredible abundance. There is enough. Of everything. We do a pretty terrible job of making sure that everyone has enough in our land. The evidence is only a few miles away in the line forming outside of the shelter. But the reality is that we have enough. I mean, have you walked down the aisles at a grocery store recently? They keep getting bigger because we keep getting more and more options. Even if we are pinched financially right now due to exterior conditions, we are downsizing to ground beef from steak or to Hamburger Helper and Spaghetti-O's from Outback and Chili's. We are overfed as it is. Maybe a little contraction is needed.

And there is nothing wrong that. I hear more rubbish in my office about tanking 401k's and the price of gasoline... WE LIVE IN THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

While we grumble about having to bring a sandwich to work (again), 1.4 Billion people in the world today cannot afford even that. If they saved all week, they might be able to afford to put a bit of meat in between two slices of bread. Because 1.4 Billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day.

$1.

1,400,000,000.

Souls. Hearts. Human beings created in the image of God. Count the zeros again. How many children sleep hungry tonight? How many mother's cannot take in enough nourishment to even produce the milk that her baby needs so desperately? How many will reduce themselves to informal slavery in sweatshops and sexshops just trying to find enough to survive to live the horror again tomorrow?

We are so ridiculously blessed. And this wealth ensnares us. We get caught in the cycle of covetousness and we find ourselves so deeply unhappy because of what we lack, because of some perceived scarcity.

We can decide today to remove ourselves from that world of scarcity. We can be sources of abundance in our workplaces, schools, and churches. We can be compassionate to the hurts of others, but unrelenting in our message that there is enough to go around and that we are indeed blessed beyond our wildest imagination. We can quietly make this holiday season about others. We can choose to practice Jubilee. We can choose to joyfully redistribute the wealth that has been dropped on us so abundantly.

If nothing else, we can recognize our abundance. And raise our eyes in thanks.

20 October 2008

of scarcity

Scarcity...

We’re running out of everything. Oil – check. Water – check. Time – check. Money – check. Patience – check.

Scarcity is the problem of infinite human needs and wants in a world with finite resources, the idea that there will never be enough to go around.

Scarcity is what causes parents to line up outside of Wal-Mart at 2am to be sure that they get the Christmas season's hottest toy for their child. They will sell out!! I have to make sure I get mine!! Ahhhhhh!!

Scarcity on some level causes a condition known as Harris' Lament, the idea that "all of the good ones have been taken". Harris' Lament can be heard frequently in the yearnings of single, 28 year-olds who wish they weren't.

Somehow, deep in our souls, we believe that all of the good ones have been taken, that there will not be enough for everyone, and that we have to "take care of #1" if we have any chance at survival.

How did we get to this place of scarcity? Where did our abundance go?

18 October 2008

baby showers, stef, and dwight schrute

Stef has her first baby shower today. Dwight Schrute delivered a watermelon in preparation for a baby shower on this week's episode of The Office.

(those viewing the post in a reader or email may have to click through to the site to see the video..)

http://www.hulu.com/watch/39647/the-office-baby-shower

16 October 2008

a man as an island and the village it takes to sustain him

(Last preaching-related message, I promise...)

There is a perception that a preacher is sort of an island unto himself, a great source of wisdom and thought. He studies privately, stews mysteriously over biblical complexities, and then explodes onto the scene on Sunday morning to deliver a message to the yearning masses, an accomplished soloist in front of an amateur orchestra of willing emulators.

That’s always how I sort of imagined it anyway…

The unseen beauty of the whole process is behind the wizard’s curtain. On Sunday, I had no fewer than a dozen people ask me if I needed anything. I had a dedicated wife and Jeff’s dedicated assistant (as well as her own self-styled “executive assistant”) just waiting for me to call on them. I had bananas delivered (from what felt like heaven) to help keep my energy up between services. I had fresh cold water waiting to soothe my throat. I had constant encouragement and my wife’s reassuring eyes supporting me at every opportunity. I had true friends speaking love and life into a weary body when it was all over.

I guess my point is that I was shocked at how many people really contribute to the message that seems to come from one man on a stage on Sunday morning. And I guess those people don’t often get a lot of public credit. They won’t get much public credit here either, as they are too many to name. But they know who they are and what role they played. I hope they know that one more person knows just how much effort they put forth. I won’t soon forget.

15 October 2008

the preaching hangover

I like to preach. I found that out in Africa years ago. I don’t know why I like it so much, but somehow my years with Willie and my propensity to ramble on about random inanity make it a fit.

I do not like the preaching hangover. I often experienced the hangover after delivering one 45-minute sermon to the morning service in South Africa. Well, if that was difficult, then delivering 3 sermons in one 5 hour period is a recipe for internal meltdown. I went home Sunday afternoon and was a completely worthless blob of crap. My mother-in-law had lunch ready for Stef and me when we walked in the door. Good thing, too. I almost couldn’t open my eyes after Stef thanked God for the food. I was a zombie.

After somehow swallowing two portions of lasagna (the warm pasta and sauce soothing my sore throat), I snagged a nap and woke up only a little more coherent than before. Stef and I had theater tickets, which ended up being a good thing since it basically amounted to us sitting in a dark room together. The content of the show didn’t even matter. We just sort of stared blankly at the stage. I appreciated that I didn’t have to talk.

Monday morning was an entirely different beast. I started out well enough, waking up on time for work and taking a longer than normal shower to try and awaken my senses. I arrived at work when it was still dark out and managed to actually get some work done before the wheels came off.

Sometime around mid-morning, my mind just sort of shut down and my body began aching in strange places. Why was my left triceps hurting? (And who knew that triceps is the singular form of the muscle and triceps is also the plural – weird.) I tried eating (which up until that point did not sound like a good idea) and it didn’t do much more than cause my eyelids to start drooping. I then decided to infuse caffeine into the equation, which was a hopeless endeavor, as my body took to the drug like a hare and my mind was still in tortoise mode. Is that the opposite of what it feels like to be really old – mind has a will the body can’t accomplish?

Eventually, realizing that I was probably stealing company money by sitting in my cubicle and staring at the wall, I decided to head home.

Jeff warned me that I was going to “feel it” the next day. Only after experiencing “it” can I really identify with what he meant. And yet, I can’t wait to do it all over again. (Only next time I’ll be smart enough to take a vacation day the following Monday…)

14 October 2008

as promised, sermon audio

Here is the sermon audio from my Grace Point (and American and western hemisphere and northern hemisphere and 1st world) preaching debut. I had an absolute blast doing it, although the “preaching hangover” was rough, as I will explain in tomorrow’s post.

Click here and then choose "The Power to Direct"...


13 October 2008

of snake-oil, the great george will, and the story behind the term "maverick"

I cringe at the media today. I too often look for expert opinion only to find pandering partisanship. I am so thrilled not to have cable…Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, and the rest of these snake-oil salesmen neither have the capacity nor the privilege to reach into my home.

And it is sad because these are high-capacity people who at some level have good intentions. These are people who are intrinsically persuasive and undeniably charismatic. It is just a shame that they serve a political dogma and not the populace. Their existence now only stands to polarize the country while their personal wealth and celebrity grows.

I just can't stomach it.

I read the New York Times, which probably makes me a communist to those who fancy themselves a deep shade of red and to anyone who doesn’t like to keep a dictionary handy while reading their newspaper. But I also love George Will, the conservative Washington Post columnist who is not afraid of intellectual honesty. Writers like him were the reason that I started my University career looking to be a journalist. Today, they are the reason that I still believe that there are a few experts (people exponentially smarter and more eloquent than I am) who can be trusted to deliver analysis worth reading.

...

For your amusement, we take a look at one of the most repeated words of the campaign so far: “maverick”.

First, there is a Wiki article about the original maverick of Texas and then there is a story about the legacy that the original maverick left (including a San Antonio mayor named “Maverick”) and what the surviving members of the family (who still live in San Antonio) have to say about their name in the current political landscape…

12 October 2008

a psalm for the day

"May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

-Psalm 19:14

10 October 2008

the spotlight and the pin-prick: the cost of true pursuit

So I spent some time conversing with this guy...

And then I read this post...

It is in that fuzzy context that I share this with you:

I yearn for more "followers of the way" to be consumed by the single-minded pursuit. I am starting to wonder if the "risk" of modern-day christianity isn't a simple opportunity/cost model…

If you really "sell out" and live for the glory of God above all else, you are going to lose out on a lot of things that enhance worldly quality of life (not simply a material statement, but in general). The cause of Christ is so compelling that it might steal (through re-direction) all sorts of other wondrous paths that we might have been able to search out. What a true "laser focus" really does is limit the options one can see. A spotlight becomes a pin-prick and we begin to squirm. Humans value multiple options to a highly irrational level (research by Dan Ariely presented in his book Predictably Irrational was brilliant on this).

It is as if we are standing at a particular vista and it is a spectacular scene. Still, we sense that there may be more incredible sights around the corner on the unknown path. That would, however, require leaving the one we are currently contented with and risking all of the other options that come with the path we are currently on. A move would change the scope (a possibly the breadth) of our array of future choices.

Therefore, we choose to limit our exposure/commitment to Christ's all-consuming cause, in order to keep a broad swath of options open. Like naughty children, we attempt to attain the line at which we can get away with slovenly life and still be accepted as followers. And the majority of us live there. The opportunity for true "life in Christ" costs us so much of our freedom and independence. We are, especially in the western world, unwilling to give up such things.

So we stand here, a thousand lost souls, seeking to serve both self and the Sovereign.

09 October 2008

when a memory reflects the future

A few years ago, a few idealistic souls gathered on a hilltop in Kenya... I came from South Africa to meet a team coming from Grace Point.

While so much has changed since then, the bonds that were so evident still hang on today...


08 October 2008

national night out: or how we learned to stop worrying and love 78201

So we hosted a National Night Out block party last night. We, who have lived in our house for 5 months and in this country for 7 months, hosted the party. And it was amazing.

All sorts of neighbors showed up in our front yard, eager to talk and meet and share their lives. One after another, they told us how many years they had lived on our street (1, 3, 5, 11) without ever meeting anyone else on the street. They told us how this was the first time anyone on the street ever reached out to them (we went door to door on Monday delivering hand-written invitations). Then they told us about their lives. One is an aspiring chef. Another is a faithful survivor of divorce. One is a teacher. Another is trying to put her life back together after some really difficult times with drugs.

It was just amazing. We rolled a grill out to the driveway, cooked hot dogs, and iced down some drinks. A couple of folks from our life group came over to help make sure that everyone had someone to talk to. That's it. That is all we did - and the people came. And they opened up like so many flowers, each showing their beauty and frailty... The night ended as darkness fell and one by one our neighbors excused themselves to head home - but not before several promised to have us over soon.

We are one step closer to a real community. We are one step closer to really being able to share life and love with the people living all around us. We owe that to our church, which paid for the food and drinks. And we owe our life group friends, who really stepped in and helped us to have enough hands and smiles to make our neighbors feel welcomed and known. We slept with grateful hearts last night. I suppose we can't possibly thank anyone enough, so we look upwards and wonder if the thanks shouldn't head that way...it usually does.

07 October 2008

preaching this sunday, the 12th


I am preaching at Grace Point in San Antonio this coming Sunday, October 12th.

There, I said it. It feels like smarmy self-promotion, but I thought I should get the word out anyway.

I'll be pinch-hitting for Pastor Jeff and delivering a message entitled "The Power to Direct", which is really a look how our words can impact others - often in all of the wrong ways.

Service times are 9:30am, 11:00am, and 12:30pm. A map can be had through this link. For anyone who cannot make it, I'll post a link to the sermon audio next week.

06 October 2008

the measure of a president

Bonus Post: I had to share a very cool NYT graphic, worth a moment to check out....

The Measure of a President...

Click and enjoy.

a memory worth revisiting

One Sunday morning in South Africa when Pastor Willie was out of town, I was afforded the chance to preach in front of the people of Mayfair Baptist Church. When I preach, I don't often make an invitation to the church to "come forward" at the end of the service for counseling or prayer, but one Sunday I felt like the issue that we addressed was the type of issue that we needed to make a public commitment to root out of our lives.

So I finished preaching that Sunday and I made the invitation for folks in the congregation to come up to the front of the church for support, prayer, or just to make a public showing of the change that they wanted to make.

Stef played this song, "Come and Listen" by David Crowder Band as I sat down on the stage and hoped that our community would come right and take ownership of the place where we desperately needed the intervention that only God could bring in us. I closed my eyes and cried as I heard her sing. I wanted so deeply for people to respond...not to me or my morning message, but to the fullness that was available to them in the Source.

I vaguely remember opening my eyes to see two dozen people kneeling and crying and holding each other at the altar. I felt this warmth come over me. My memory is, however, dominated by how proud I was of Stef...her grace and gentle spirit breathing out every beautiful word of that song, her voice capturing the very soul of that cry to a Higher Power, that thankful refrain.

I also remember marveling at our ability to be present in that time and place. I remember wondering how two Texas kids ended up together in a drafty South African church together. It was a beautiful moment in time, a cherished memory if I have any.

Come and Listen...

03 October 2008

of reproach, the brokenness, and the beauty of reconciliation

I had a talk recently with a friend.

My friend had been away from a relationship for a long time. And has he unraveled the details of this broken union before me, I couldn't help but smile. He told me of a distance that he had sort of willed onto this relationship. He spoke as one who missed something desperately but didn't know exactly how to restore what had been broken for so long. He longed for the love that he once knew but didn't know how it had slipped into this lukewarm, distant expression of apathy.

I guess I smiled because I knew that he knew exactly what had to be done to bring that much-needed restoration. He knew just how simply it could all be put back together. Simple reconciliation. Fearless, unconditional love and a renewed passion to pursue real fullness and reciprocity.

There is such intense beauty in this thing we call relationship. What would we learn outside of it?

...

from "Truth & Lies" by Jillian Edelstein

02 October 2008

the vp debate, dwight schrute, and pooh

I have to admit that I am excited to watch the VP debate tonight (and how I wish it were between Schrute and Pooh, but alas we live in reality).

I imagine that the candidates will likely be asked about the economy, foreign policy, and domestic hot-button issues (seriously, what are hot-button issues and how did they get such an asinine name?). I am ashamedly more excited to see if one candidate mentions his favorite television shows from the 1800s or if the other candidate goes into wordy explanations about her experience with “narrow maritime borders”. Let’s be honest here - especially with these two titans, it may just be the gaffes that make the night entertaining.

Anyway, as you may or may not know, I have suspended my blog in order to focus on getting a rescue plan passed for the American economy. Before I get back to work on that, I’ll share a joke that seems recently to be more reality than comedy.

A CEO is interviewing 3 candidates for the open CFO position at his major financial corporation.

The CEO, a bit of an outside-the-box thinker, asks each candidate only one question: "What is 2+2?"

The first candidate says “4”.

The second candidate says “4”.

The third candidate says: “What kind of number are we looking for here?”

The third candidate gets the job (and potentially his share of $700 Billion…)

(I have been having some formatting problems with this post....if you get it streamed to you in either an email or a reader, please clikc the link to be able to read it on the actual website today. Sorry 'bout that.)

01 October 2008

of waiting and impressive influence: blogging baby burkholder

Yesterday's post was born out of a very tangible sense of responsibility welling up within me.

My Bella Areah will be here soon enough and every interaction I have with her will be a moment of influence. Everything will make some impression on her life - our habits in eating, praying, serving, watching TV, exercising, shopping, speaking, and generally living...

I cannot wait for her little eyes to meet mine. I cannot wait to watch her personality arrive, revealing itself in little bits and pieces. I cannot wait to be trusted with complete innocence. I cannot wait to repair that trust the first time I fail. Mostly, I cannot wait to find out what the Source intends to teach us through the angel he is sending.