Home, But Different

We rolled back into our own city, our home, a couple of hours ago. It was a welcome sight and, quite frankly, time to get out of that van seat. I spent a lot of hours there this week.

It’s our home, just the same one that we left several days ago… but it’s different.

While we were gone our small city of about 22,000 folks endured a couple more blows to our collective heart. Significant flooding caused some serious problems for some of our neighbors – many of whom were already staggering through job losses and the deeply depressed oil industry and the ramifications thereof.

But more significant has been the gut-wrenching reality of a missing young boy who still has not been found these almost six days later. It’s heart-breaking. As we drove into town I could just feel it well up in my heart.

This city that I love is wrestling with fear and uncertainty and a brokenness that seems a lot closer to the surface than before. It’s still my home, but it’s different.

But it’s not just this city that is different. We went off to the big city of Austin and were stretched and challenged and did things that some of us had never thought to do in serving that city. We saw God do amazing things and we were reminded that we are called to come back to our home and reach our city with the love of Jesus.

We left here eager and maybe a bit nervous. We came home, but different.

I came back home, but different.

As we approached our city from the south, I found myself reflecting on what was written of Jesus as he encountered throngs of people,

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9.36)

So many folks have spent so many hours searching and hoping and praying for that missing little boy and they feel helpless. So many people have had their lives turned upside down by round after round of layoffs and cut-backs and downturns and they feel harassed.

And because Jesus is at work in me, I feel compassion – which is really to feel deeply for someone. And I just want to go out and point these hurting, helpless, harassed sheep to the Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep.

Just like I would give anything to be able to bring that little boy back to his mother’s arms, shouldn’t I be just that willing to strive to bring people back to the Father that loves them so desperately that he gave the life of his firstborn to make a way for them to be reconciled to him?

My heart breaks for my city – perhaps more than ever before. For almost nine years it’s been my home, but today it’s different.

I came back home, but different.

May God take this difference in me to make a difference in this place.


It’s Only Monday…

We arrived in Austin on Saturday afternoon with some hope and expectation of a powerful experience. We gathered with about 300 other students and leaders to form ministry teams to go all over this great city and demonstrate the love of Jesus in numerous ways and to share the hope of the gospel. We wanted to see God move. We wanted to join in what God was doing.

We gathered in a room to worship and heard sounds most followers of Jesus don’t often hear – sounds of some 300 people who aren’t here to get away from home or to have a nice vacation or to see a different place or to have fun lifting their voices in praise and anticipation and expectant joy. It was the kind of praise where the worship leader sings the first line of the song and steps back from the mic to get out of the way and let the people sing their hearts out.

We spent a day worshiping together and planning and preparing. We organized and trained and strategized and adapted and rearranged.

And sweating… We’ve done an awful lot of sweating.

But today… Continue reading It’s Only Monday…

Embarrassingly Easy

I’ve lived in the same house for 8 1/2 years – coming up on 9. We live in a very pleasant neighborhood with a ball field across the street. We’re known as the house with all the cars/teenagers.

I’m attempting to lead our fellowship to step out into the community this summer and our first “breakaway” event was to have a cookout there by the ball field across the street from my house. I told our faith family that I was inviting all of my neighbors. I was going to print a nice invitation with a picture of us so they would know which crazy neighbors had left this piece of paper on their door. Continue reading Embarrassingly Easy