Schemes: Factionalism

Schemes: Cynicism

...a season of giving

                November is a season of harvest and gratitude. We celebrate God’s bounty and return thanks. November is a good time to consider the practice of giving. I am rereading Jack Hayford’s book, The Key to Everyting, this month as part of my devotional practice. Pastor Hayford argues that giving is the key spiritual discipline. I would like to share some of his thoughts with you.
                “…learning and applying the Key to Everything involves the growing of a heart attitude of giving, which gives the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reasons. Such giving takes many forms.
·         There are times to give up, not in resignation or in abandonment to despair, but in a surrender of self-righteousness.
·         There are times to forgive, that is, to release what otherwise could be retained as a grudge…
·         There are times to give over, to place into the hands of the Creator-Judge of the universe matters which only his might or his justice can sufficiently handle.
·         There are times to give to, providing with generosity in assisting the circumstances of another human being or group.
·         There are times to give in through simple obedience…
·         There are times to give wisely because we understand reciprocal laws of God which promise a bountiful return if we give. And that return is his way of making possible our learning to give over and over again with increasing resources and joyfulness. “
What will you give during this season of giving? Will you give thanks? Will you forgive? Will you give money as a thanks offering so that others may hear? Will you give yourself by giving your time? Give. It just may be the key to everything.

FBC Marion

Our crew is traveling to Marion, MS next week. I will be preaching in an old school revival at FBC Marion. This church is served by Drew and Emily Dabbs. Drew and Emily are a fantastic couple. They both graduated from Truett Seminary and are doing a great job sharing Christ's love with their community. The church is multi-generational and has a vibrant outreach to children in their community. We will focus on the gospel from generation to generation. Pray that I share the gospel plainly. Pray that this church is refreshed. Pray that Jesus is honored.

I am grateful that Todd Still will preach for FBC Waco while we are away.

Sex and Church

Meredith and I have been invited to lead a group of young couples at UBC Waco in a discussion about sex in marriage. This church is attempting to help young couples face the big challenges that impact marital health. I am encouraged by this and hope to borrow a few ideas. Marriage is sacred and fragile and the church has a role to play.  Please pray that we are able to help a little and make a big deal about Jesus. This event is Sunday October 13 @ 6:00.

Every Generation Needs a New Outlook On Mission


“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

“…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”


            We’ve all been had. Isn’t it a terrible experience? Worse yet is being duped and not knowing it. That is deception. It is possible that we are being deceived right now. We exist to lead all generations to love God, one another and the world in the Spirit of Jesus. We are to love and lead, lead and love. I truly believe that is God’s intention for the church. There are, however, real principalities and powers organized to combat our loving and leading. How do we confront these powers?

            We confront dark power by loving. We love God through worship and obedience. We love one another through fellowship and service. We love the world through missions. We confront the powers by loving those difficult to love through the Spirit of Christ. Greg Boyd wrote, “The way we fight principalities and powers is by loving those who are unlovable, those who are against us, and putting on display the character of our God and His Kingdom because His character is revealed on Calvary.” We are called to love and lead in the power provided by the Spirit. This is a call to spiritual struggle. Love is a battlefield.

            We confront dark power by leading wisely; by being aware of the schemes. We can avoid being outwitted by living humbly and thoughtfully. From time to time it makes good sense to explore some of the powers’ schemes. My next message series begins October 27 and will be titled, Schemes. We will explore common hindrances to loving and leading in the Spirit of Jesus. The arsenal is full so this series will not be comprehensive. I have selected six schemes that are common to churches like ours. We will explore the schemes: cynicism, nominalism, parochialism, factionalism, materialism and fatalism/universalism.

 I would love for you to be an engaged part of this series. I’d love to hear your thoughts on spiritual warfare.  Twitter, Facebook and Blogger work fine. Send a letter. Email me @ Carrier pigeons and smoke signals are cool. Thanks!



The Priesthood of the Sacrifices

                Baptists cherish the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer. The notion is not unique to us. We believe that it is rooted in scripture and it is shared by other Christian groups. We are right to cherish and protect the doctrine. It is fragile.   The doctrine has been damaged by the individualistic spirit of the age. This is antithetical to the plain teaching of scripture. No wise priest ever swaggered into the holy of holies because it was his “right”.  Priesthood is about the individual before God, the individual in community and the community of faith declaring Jesus in the world. The doctrine is individual, communal and missional. It is up, in and out. It is a doctrine primarily about our grateful response to our gracious God.   
The chief functional of a priest is sacrifice. Any spirituality divorced of sacrifice lacks the thick blooded vitality that is necessary to stand in blinding wind of secularism. We are the Order of the Priests of Jesus Christ. Our call is a call to cheerfully sacrifice. The New Testament calls me (us) to sacrifice:
MySelf – Romans 12:1
My Music - Hebrews 13:15
My Deeds – Hebrews 13:16
My Money – Philippians 4:18
  I am using these sacrificial passages in the New Testament to shape my priesthood. I am often a shabby priest and I do not want to be. I really do not want to be a swaggering priest.  My prayer is that we allow the biblical language of sacrifice to form our ideas of priesthood. I believe that will make a profound difference in the way we live out our faith. Maybe “battlin’” Baptists will one day be known as “sacrificin’” Baptists. We will see.

Signs Signs Everywhere

We had our church’s business meeting last night. We meet for congregational business four times a year. We always mix the nuts and bolts meeting content with something fun. Last night was desert pot luck and intergenerational game night. Molly Kat calls this, “The night I get to play Wii with Mrs. Betty.” As I was sitting in our fellowship hall waiting for the action to start a friend told me about a church he recently passed in a neighboring Texas city. It promotes itself as a church, “uniquely created for seniors age 50 and better.” My friend (who is better than 50 by the way) was not a bit pleased.

Google the phrase, “not your grandmother’s church.” You will find a list of churches clearly targeting those 30 and “better = younger”. It seems like the generational rift in the country is so common that churches are openly putting the bitter signs of segregation over their doors. I wonder if this is not a tacit admission that we don’t believe the gospel is powerful enough to bind us together. We need help!

Strangers in Babylon: What is Worship Leadership?

I enjoyed working with Eric Mathis. He is a fantastic guy and Samford University is lucky to have him. I you are a church music leader The Alleluia Conference at Baylor is worth your time. My friend Taylor Sandlin will be the preacher next here. Come on!

Stranger is Babylon: What is Worship?

Seeking The Welfare of the Temporary City

                My family spent a few days with Mission Arlington and Mission Metroplex this week. FBC Waco’s youth were there working with Rainbow Express.  Meredith is a volunteer in our youth ministry, I am their pastor, and we want our own kids dealt in early so we made some calendar time and went. We love Jamie McCallum and our youth.  Watching my daughter watch Tillie Burgin was a gift I’ll treasure.  It was a great experience.

                Mission Arlington is a fantastic group of humble and very normal people. They don’t try to act like angry prophets or heroes. They are joyful and loving. They take a genuine interest in the kids that come to volunteer and labor for their spiritual formation.  If you are a student worker I can’t recommend a partner in ministry more highly than Mission Arlington.

                I carried a bag full of helpful ideas away from our experience. There wasn’t anything novel about the ministry. They do ancient things well. They have fleshed out a missional lifestyle that is attractive and contagious. Tillie Burgin says more profound things accidentally than most of us pastors do on purpose. She was teaching from Hebrews on night and was focusing on God’s sturdy trustworthiness when she tossed out a reference to 13:14 – “For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” I know the context of the verse is about Jerusalem and the importance of Jesus’ death taking place outside the city but the extension of the principle was pretty amazing. Here was a lady pouring out her life for a city she was convinced had an expiration date. She, like Abraham, was looking for a city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  She seeks the welfare of a temporary city while looking toward the city illuminated by the face of Christ. This approach makes a profound difference in the way we engage the mission of God. I can think of three immediate implications:

1.       It encourages humility.

2.       It encourages hope.

3.       It encourages two winged engagement (social ministry and evangelism).

Help me think about additional implications. Email or comment on



The Serve


I am a sports fan. My hands down favorite is baseball but I also enjoy football and college basketball.  I have some friends that are crazy about tennis.  I have a hard time sharing their enthusiasm but I am happy that it makes them happy. They seem to believe that tennis is as existentially important as baseball. Maybe they are right.

 I recently read a piece about the importance of the tennis serve that I thought was instructive. The writer said that consistence is more important than placement or power. The serve is a ritual. I know from pitching a baseball and serving a racquetball how true this is. You must do the same thing over and over and over - magnificent monotony.

Serving Christ and community requires the deep magic of ritual. We dip our fingers in the wash basin. We take up our cross. We climb on the altar – again and again and again. God’s grace empowers this because we experience the Spirit’s presence and power in the midst of the serve. The Spirit lifts the cross and washes feet because the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ.  God is very Christ like.

Summer is a good time to begin or renew the Spirit fueled, Christ forming, ritual of service. Our church has sent teams to West, Texas and the Mississippi Delta. Our students will spend a week at Mission Arlington. Church members will work in various community ministries.  Pray that a lifetime rhythm of service will start with a pile of new folks. If your wash basin is dry and your cross is lying in the dust recommit to the grace of service. You will find the Spirit there.


Alleluia Worship Conference Baylor 2013

I am happy to be part of this worship conference and hope to see a few friends. I'm not sure I am comfortable being a clinician - will have to figure out what that means.


...and God spoke.

Summer Sermons at FBC Waco

What should I do now? What should I do? What shall we do tomorrow? What shall we ever do? What shall we do with ourselves this afternoon, and the day after that, and the next thirty years? F. Scott Fitzgerald scribbled down these questions in 1925. Gatsby’s world was a wasteland of shallowness. His acquaintances chased after Solomon’s wind and found themselves in Eliot’s rat’s alley. The spirit of that age is alive and well.

Men and women still pause to realize the vanity of shallow pursuits and followers of Jesus are still tempted to be squeezed into the patterns of the world. Scripture brings us back to the life of grace, life filled with the creator’s wonder, hope and purpose.

This summer we will journey through Genesis on Sunday mornings and 1 Peter on Wednesday evenings.  These biblical writings are serum against the poison of vanity. They root us in God and God’s purposes in the earth. I hope you plan on gathering with your church family this summer as we connect with God together.

Getting It Done In West

Thanks for contributing money and supplies toward the work in West, Texas. We have remained in contact with John Crowder over the past few weeks and he has told us amazing stories of God's faithfulness and the love of God's people. There will be  volunteer labor needs in West through the summer. Please consider giving some time. You can give a day, a week or more. A step everyone can make today is signing up to volunteer through the Baptist General Convention of Texas. This announcement from Curt will walk you through it. -
Local Mission Trip to West, TX--July 1-5, 2013--Our friends at FBC West are actively seeking volunteers for West Relief work and asking them to sign up the Texas Baptist's Disaster Relief Network.  Volunteers are needed all summer long, but FBC Waco will be helping as a church family from July 1-5.  Texas Baptists are coordinating the relief efforts, which will include everything from simple clean up to skilled labor.  Adults and children grade 6 and above are invited to help.  To participate, you must sign up in advance online at .  When you register, under location select "Add'l Volunteer Opportunities in West, TX" and enter the dates during July 1-5 when you can participate.  Cost for the week is $15, which covers required supplemental insurance.  Let Curt know if you're planning on helping!

Loving West, Texas


Here are a two ways to love our neighbors in West.

Give money though the link on the BGCT website or through FBC Waco. Note "West, TX" on the check and we'll get it there. 500 Webster Waco, TX 76706

Volunteer at the LIFT workshop on Saturday. We are setting up a "West" room to link citizens and help.

Jesus On The Loose


                The open tomb is startling scandal and wild possibility. A few years back I stumbled on the idea that Jesus is on the loose and it has motivated me since. It was in a piece written by Beverly Roberts Gaventa on the work of Donald Harrisville Juel. She wrote, “Among the striking observations in Donald Juel’s treatment of Mark 16 is that, ‘Jesus is out, on the loose, on the same side of the door as the women and the readers.’ This unsettling way of putting things builds on Juel’s earlier observation that the tearing of the heavens at Jesus’ baptism declared that the protective barriers between humanity is gone and that God, ‘unwilling to be confined to sacred spaces, is on the loose in our realm.’” The Spirit of Jesus refuses to stay put. God will not be caged. The Spirit is on the loose in the midst of human life. We will be exploring this theme in April and May. We will touch down at several points in Mark. Jesus is on the loose…

among fearful followers. Mark 16:1-8

among the withered. Mark 3:1-6

among the sent. Mark 3:31-35

among the kindred. Mark 3:31-35

among the children. Mark 10:13-16

among the rich. Mark 10: 17-28

Ephesians Series


I've been preaching through the book of Ephesians at FBC Waco. I love this epistle and have been challenged and encouraged by it. My prayer is that it will continue to form our congregation.

The Principle of The Messy Ox


Here's the word of encouragment I offered the Baptist General Convention of Texas staff last week. I hope it encourages you as well.

Pray For A NEW OUTLOOK on Mission


                Eugene and Annie Jenkins Sallee heard the “Go” of Jesus and the “Come” of China. God used them to renew missions in their generation. Their call began as students.  A recent graduate, Mr. Sallee gave a talk on his call to missions and, “That whole community was given a new outlook on the missionary enterprise…” That happened in 1903. It is 2013 and the needs of the hour again require a new outlook.

                Missional and educational are two of our root values. Our heritage affirms that we are at our best when these roots intertwine. In 1933 J.M. Dawson wrote of Mrs. Sallee, “That Mrs. Sallee should have such sympathy for missions may possibly be understood more readily when it is recalled…that she received her degree from Baylor University, which has supplied the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board with one out of nine of all its missionaries to the foreign fields; that she grew up in the First Baptist Church, Waco, under the ministry of B.H. Carroll and other pastors, which undoubtedly sent forth more preachers and missionaries than any other church in the South…” We have a “sending forth” legacy. New paradigms in missions are pressing us to reclaim it!

                We have much dreaming and planning to do. Our church has and I believe will make a vital contribution to the movement of God in the world. We have in our midst bright and godly men and women called to the nations. We must pray fervently. I ask you to join with me in praying three things as it relates to a new outlook on missions:

1.       Pray for a vision as big as the world. Acts 1:6-11

2.       Pray for a bold strategy that rises to the opportunities of the hour. Acts 16:6-10 It was said of Eugene Sallee, “He was a worldwide missionary but his place of labor was Interior China. Vision is for the nations and strategy for people and place.

3.       Pray for the called. Acts 13:1-3

Made Alive to Live

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