As I sit in a Panera Bread waiting to meet with someone I've never met before (a friend of my brothers), my mind is swimming with a thousand thoughts from the last few days. Over time I hope to expound on several of these, but for now, let me just "air out" a few thoughts that are stewing right now ...

  • Dallas is a BIG place ... with a lot of construction work on their interstates! Because of this, I have been completely, and I mean completely, reliant on my GPS. The GPS I have is old and cheap (read S-L-O-W). Understanding how "off track" I would be without my GPS, why don't I rely on the Holy Spirit to guide my life more? The Holy Spirit doesn't just keep me "on" track, He helps me back on track when I wander off thinking I know the way better than He does. (I've spent a lot of time "wandering" around Dallas.)
  • As a pastor of a church, I cannot complain about the absence of the power and presence of God in the church when I am not pursuing the power and presence of God in my own life.
  • Yesterday was halloween. Several people have asked me what I think about Halloween, so HERE is a great blog post from a college friend of mine. Well said Joe.
  • I have put together a "50 by Fifty" list of what I hope to accomplish in the next 10 years (I am turning 40 next year, you know). It has been a challenging and healthy exercise.
  • Speaking of exercise, it is frightening to me how much my physical well-being effects my spiritual well-being. When I feel good physically, I worship better than when I feel fat, tired, and unlikeable.
  • Speaking of being unlikeable, we (I) strive way too much to be liked by people instead of being used by God. Sometimes that gets in the way of my obedience and pursuit of God.
  • People say, "It is easy to miss the forest for the trees," meaning we often miss the power/beauty of the big picture because all we can see are the trees in front of us. True. But often it is easy to miss the trees for the forest, because all we can see is the vision of the big picture instead of recognizing how beautiful each tree is.
  • After visiting one of the largest churches in America, a mid-sized church of a few thousand people, and a start up church, I have mixed feelings about "big" churches. Don't get me wrong, churches should want to grow bigger and bigger, but not at the cost of authenticity. Excellence may be more attractive than authenticity, but authenticity is more powerful.
  • HBO is not a good thing. Is it possible any more to have a "grown up" (read "no cartoons) channel without having to dodge "adult movies?" And don't even get me started on "the title of the movie will not appear on your statement" purchases in hotel rooms. Just a reminder, God sees beyond the titles on your statements and so does your conscience ...
  • Sometimes God gives you directions on what to do, and sometimes He doesn't, but most of the time He has already told you more than once what to do. If His voice is silent when you are asking for direction, maybe that's His way of tell you to stop asking and start doing. In the words of Gerrick Taylor from Live Oak, "Don't tell me, SHOW ME!"
  • I would be a better follower of Christ (and leader of people) if I were more like a Muslim. Sounds strange, but hear me out. If I were disciplined to pray every day without fail ... If I were willing to do whatever it took to be considered a passionate follower of Jesus ... If I were consumed by knowing the Bible and living its truths out in tangible ways ... If I saw my entire life as a small part of Christ instead of seeing Christ as a small part of my life ... I'm just saying ...
  • (Don't get your panties in a wad about that last idea of being more like a Muslim. I'm not suggesting we become militant and violent like some in the Muslim faith do (though it would be a good for many Christians to read through the history of the crusades as a reminder of how violent we have been). All I'm suggesting is that my life would shine brighter for Christ if I had a deeper level of commitment to Him, like Muslims have to Allah, or Jews have to God, or Tom Cruise has to L. Ron Hubbard!)
  • Hotels that charge for everything individually - $12/night to park, $12/day for internet access, etc. - would make more money through loyalty programs if they dropped their room prices below market value. Most of us would stay there for cheaper and buy the extras instead of staying their for more and not buying the extras.
  • Who buys "movies that are in the theater" movies in their hotel rooms for $19 + tax? (Hello, that's a matinee, coke AND popcorn at a theater!)
  • It's hard to be still and listen to God when you won't shut up.
  • Great followers make good leaders because they understand the need to surrender, even when they're the one "out front" or "on top."
  • I am married to an angel.
  • While I am saved by grace and nothing else, my actions display my heart and gratitude for God's grace.
  • I am not the man I want to be ... but God isn't done with me yet.

I'm finished with my lunch now. One more thing I've learned on this trip: be open to do anything God asks you to do. Today I was encouraged by a total stranger and I believe I was used by God to encourage him. It's amazing how God will put you right where you need to be when you follows His GPS ...