Quiet – The Internet Can’t Do This

Quiet – The internet doesn’t do quiet. It’s good for a lot of things, but quiet is not one of them. The internet overflows with information. It is loud and noisy. It’s a million voices. It’s full of people. (Many who would never be so obnoxious in person.) This can be a great thing. Sometimes, we need sensory overload and we need to fill our brains. Only then, can we sort through it all and make sense of the world around us.

Unfortunately, we need quiet for that part to happen. We can’t live our lives fully online, ’cause the internet doesn’t do quiet. When we’re online, we don’t see the long, quiet, thoughtful moments where people wrestled with themselves or with God or with other people. No one communicates the deep unsure quiet space where they work through things…..where they pray or where they seek guidance, but we need these times to sort through all the noise and settle in on the quiet where we find the “still small voice.”

I studied under Mike Ayers in college and he used to say, “A leader needs time to sit and stare out the window.” We’ve all got to have time to stare and imagine what life “could” be like and maybe more importantly, how it “should” be. Staring out the window gives us a chance to imagine and create a way to get to these new places, how build something new, to develop a new strategy. It allows us space to dream. Maybe daydreaming should be a bit of a discipline? When we need to make big/important decisions we need space and margin. We need quiet. Internet can’t do this.

Confession: Quiet is what I need. Soccer games, and football practices, and dance classes, and church responsibilities, and work, and family, and lifegroup, and, and, and. It all just overwhelms me. My life seems like a lot of noise. Then I come home to the internet……and it’s just more noise, more information, more, more, more. The stress builds and just piles on. I feel like screaming. I just want it to stop. I need quiet. I need margin and space so I am working on it. As a family, we are taking January off from sports – no soccer games or practices. We didn’t sign up for basketball. We’re planning to go camping. I’m also refraining from tv and much of the internet – planning to read more and write (on this blog) – to contemplate and sit and “stare out the window.” Pray for me.

I’d also encourage you to do the same – take a break from the internet. Disconnect and I believe you’ll find real connections – deep connections which the internet cannot provide. Get quiet. Listen to God. He is so much better than the internet. He has real answers without the booming voice – without all the sensory overload and confusion. He is the “still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12)

Dream Apnea

I’ve had sleep apnea for years.

For those who don’t know: (If you already have an understanding, skip ahead to the “bold” section.) Sleep apnea keeps you from entering REM sleep (when dreaming occurs) and eventually causes heart problems. Someone with sleep apnea holds his/her breath while sleeping which causes a lack of oxygen to the brain. At church camp one year, my “friends” (thanks Throne Together) recorded me holding my breath for up to a minute. I went for years without dreaming ’cause I wasn’t really sleeping. I used to fall asleep at the strangest moments too. I walked around tired all the time since I wasn’t really resting at night.

Since our health insurance wouldn’t cover a sleep test or any treatment, I ignored it for over 5 years. Eventually a good friend gave me a CPAP machine to try. I’ve been using it for a year or so now and it has changed my life. The CPAP gives me a constant flow of oxygen which doesn’t allow me to hold my breath during sleep. In turn, it has allowed me to sleep well again and to actually enter into the deeper stages of sleep. I wake up and remember having dreams again.

OK – here’s my question. What else keeps us from dreaming?? (not actual sleep-dreams, but imagining-a-better-future-type dreams) Does your busy life allow you time to dream? Do you imagine what life could be like if. . . . ??? Do your fears keep you from dreaming?? Are you held back by something else? Do you believe in the person God made you to be? Is there someone else who holds you back or keeps you from dreaming?

Personally, I think we all need a steady flow of down-time to really dream. We have to be intentional about thinking/dreaming/imagining. Mike Ayers, my Biblical Leadership professor, describes it as “staring-out-the-window” time. This world will keep us crazy busy if we’re not intentionally seeking out “smell-the-roses” time.

I also think we’ve gotta have a healthy understanding of who we are in Christ. How can we dream God-sized dreams if we don’t think enough of ourselves or of God? What will it take for us to begin imagining a better future?

A machine helped me dream again. I wonder what other dreams I’ve missed out on??

Explore. Dream. Discover.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain


SnowmanLast Friday, it snowed here in Lake Jackson and even more in Pearland. We were up in Pearland (my in-laws house) preparing for our family pics at Penneys and so Kasen and I built a snowman. It was his first experience with snow. He was having tons of fun, but couldn’t enjoy it too much ’cause he was also so cold. (The snow was real wet.) One minute he’d be telling me he wanted to help build the snowman and then the next he was ready to go back inside – we’d head toward the door and then he’d want to go back and build the snowman again – just couldn’t make up his mind. He was torn between two worlds. The cold, fun, and passion of building the snowman on one hand and the warmth, safety, and security of the house on the other. I’m glad to say, that in the end he chose to stick it out and finish the snowman. If this is an indication of his life, he’ll be the guy taking all the risks – living life to the fullest. I pray he’ll grow up to be that kind of man – One who won’t be afraid to take a risk and dream big when it comes to expanding the Kingdom of God – an arrow in my quiver, (Ps 127:4-5) one which breaks through on enemy territory taking ground for God.

Sleeping Giggles

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I had my 40th birthday Friday and then Monday (yesterday) was told that my full-time ministry position would become part-time in January. They were clear that it was not performance related and this decision was also for all the other full-time programming people too. They said, “It’s the economy”. . . blah. . .blah. . . (After the original blow, I’m not sure I heard much more.) In the end, none of their reasoning (and by the way, I believe they have the best intentions) changes the situation my family is in. Bottom line: I would need to find another way to support my family by January.

So last night I couldn’t sleep. There were too many feelings, thoughts, prayers, and junk rolling around in my head. I just fiddled with the computer from about 3am ’til morning. Around 4am, Kasen (almost 2yrs) woke up and I heard him down the hall. He walked into our room to crawl into bed with Miranda and I. I wasn’t there. I was in the loving room “thinking.” I tracked him down and tried to put him back in his bed. He fought me on it and I was in no mood to fight back, so I brought him into the living room and laid down on the couch with him. He went back to sleep in my arms almost immediately. Then it happened. Was that a giggle? There it was again. Yep, it was a giggle. I can’t believe it. He’s giggling in his sleep.

My son was so comfortable in my arms that he could sleep deeply enough to giggle in his dreams.

God, You are my Father. I know I’m safe in your arms. But I’m also feeling pretty vulnerable and insecure. Help me to trust in Your providential hands enough to sleep and giggle again. AMEN.

A Forest Dream

I had a dream last night that I was running around a forest with some friends. It wasn’t like we were running from anything. All I know is that we were running. We were up on a hill overlooking a subdivision of houses, but running further into the woods. I was naked and was hiding behind leaves, trees, etc – but I didn’t seem to care too much. We came across a strange U-shaped rock formation which you could get underneath. Somewhere along the line, I forgot I was naked. Together, along with some people we met near the formation, we began to build a glass roof over the inner part of the “U.” This created a cool room underneath which let the light in and illuminated everything. It was a room which was very organic – very much a part of it’s surroundings. Our plan was to make it a restaurant. Then I woke up.

I woke up wondering what in the world was this all about? Here’s my best guess at an interpretation.

Restaurant = Church

The only thing I’ve ever wanted to be a part of building is a church – a community of people who are seeking and serving Christ together. Restaurants are also places where people are served. So a new church must be the restaurant.

Naked = Vulnerability

In order to plant a church like that, I will have to be very open and vulnerable – I’ve also always felt like my personality allows me to be vulnerable pretty easily. Maybe that’s why I didn’t care about being naked too much.

Rock Formation Room/Organic = Type of Church/Community

The church I would hope to be a part of building (which by the way, may not have a building at all) is one which would be a community of people who sort of melt into the landscape and surroundings by serving their community. A group of indigenous people.

Friends = Partnership

I can’t imagine embarking on a process of planting a church all alone. I’m guessing that’s why my friends were with me.

Other thoughts: I’ve never really thought much about where I could plant a church, but maybe there’s a subconscious part of me that realizes I might be best suited for planting just outside a populated area. Maybe we were running further into the woods reaching people.

Anyway, that’s my best guess. Anybody else got any thoughts?

A Leader’s Poem and Prayer

POEM by Sir Francis Drake:

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess,

we have lost our thirst for the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

we have ceased to dream of eternity

and in our efforts to build a new earth,

we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future, in strength, courage, hope, and love.


“Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


Everyone seems to agree there are fewer true leaders in the world today than in any other previous generation. I wonder why? Here’s my BIG thought: I wonder if the lack of leadership is somehow connected to the lack of “play” in the world? Let me explain.

It’s has always been a pet-peeve of mine that kids today don’t know how to play. They are good at wasting time with TV or video games, but “play” is a whole different thing. You’ve gotta be creative to play. You have to use your imagination to play. (By the way, in the Scriptures, the very first characteristic God chooses to reveal to us about Himself is His creativity. Then He says we’re made in His image.) Play revolves around creating stories and scenes and situations. You’ve gotta be willing to look foolish if you’re gonna “pretend” anything – and what is play without pretending something? Remember when you used to play hide-n-seek. I remember imagining that I was the good guy who was hiding from the dreaded evil enemy. I remember playing football and pretending to be the radio announcer as the game winning touchdown was scored.  My parents didn’t look down on me for those days. They didn’t think I was foolish. They laughed and enjoyed my creativity. They encouraged my imagination. They imagined with me. In play, we learned about the world. We began to understand how it worked. We developed deep friendships – in some ways they were probably deeper relationships than our current ones.

What if leaders began to “play” more? What if they imagined and weren’t afraid of looking foolish? What we created a culture of “play” where everyone was a part of it and no one really felt intimidated to join in on the fun? When we “play,” we don’t have to feel insecure, ’cause it’s just for fun anyway. If we taught our children to play more (by playing with them) would their generation have more leaders? I think it would.

If our leaders were allowed to imagine more, dream more, how many of us would dream with them? If they were allowed to “play” with stuff until they figured it out, what new innovations would we have?

In his book “Soul Tsunami,” Leonard Sweet says:

He (Jesus) displayed a genius for never growing up. He didn’t have much use for work. In fact he attracted his disciples by calling them from work: ‘Let others work, even bury their dead. You follow me.’ (Matthew 8:18-22)

Ask someone born before 1964, “What do you do?” and you will find out where they work, what their title is, what they “do” for a living. Ask someone born after 1964, “What do you do?” and you are as likely to find out that they dirt-bike, mountain-climb, net-surf, sea-kayak – in other words, they define themselves more by “life-first” than “work-first” commitments. . . .

If you want to make a violin sing, do you “work” at it? No, you “play” a violin. It takes a lot of “practice,” but the “practice” leads to “playing” the instrument. I want my marriage to sing. That’s why my wife and I don’t “work” at our marriage; we “play” at our marriage.  . . I don’t want the Scriptures to “work” in my life; I want them to “play” in my life.

Erwin McManus says:

People don’t get “burn out” from too much work, but from not enjoying their work.

Anyway, leaders should learn to play and play hard – not just when they’re away from the office, but even while they’re in it. Work should never really be work – it should be enjoyable – going to the office should be like entering the playground where you are free to express yourself (within the boundaries) and imagine and create and dream and get others to join you in it all. When you leave, you might have some dirt to clean off, but you’re still excited about coming back to play again the next day.

PS – I have watched children and on the playground, it’s the ones who imagine and dream and are willing to look foolish who end up leading the other kids. Leaders play. Players lead.

A Vision in the Night

OK – I’m not even sure where to begin this one. If you’ve been reading this blog much, you already know that I’ve been feeling called to being a part of a church plant one day. I was talking to my father-in-law, Mike Mathews Saturday, Jan 20th! He is my greatest supporter. He wants to see me involved in planting probably more than anyone else I know (including my bride – his daughter). His excitement is contagious and he really believes in me. When we talk about it, I feel like I’m the one trying to be realistic (This is odd for me ’cause inside, I’m going crazy with excitement too.) and attempting to keep my feet on the ground. Of course some of that is natural – I mean, I’m the one going to have to come to a place where I’m willing to let go of a steady paycheck to risk chasing after what God has called me to. I think I have a healthy fear of it all, but regardless, I’m the one with my feet on the ground when I talk to him. I’m also not interested in being involved in a huge church. I’d be truly happy with a small little church that functioned in healthy ways. A church that transformed people and equipped them to go out and do ministry. A church that plants other churches/ministries. A church that was small enough that I could serve part-time and keep my feet in the culture a bit too with another part-time job. Anyway, when we talked that day, he made some flippant comment about me being known all over the country for what we’re gonna do with this church thing. I told him that was definitely not what I wanted. I’d much rather serve quietly among a healthy little community of people. I feel like I could handle that kind of thing – and it’s certainly a big enough stretch for my faith. He dropped it.

Well, on Sunday night, I had a dream. What follows is what I wrote at 2:30am when I woke up unable to sleep.

I just woke up from a horrible dream. I’m not sure what it
really was or means, but this is what I remember:

I was with a bunch of guys working on a project in some sort
of big mechanical warehouse/plant. We had been working on the project and left the room, but I went back around the corner to see it from a distance and it was gone. There was a flat world in its place with a bright light eminating from it. There was also a deep sense of emptiness, loss – the project was just gone, but it was more than that – like God was gone and all our relationships were gone.

I woke with these feelings rushing through me and with the lyrics to a song embedded in my head. (It’s a song from the “Once” soundtrack and the lyrics are “If you want me, satisfy me.” – that phrase repeats over and over – I guess I need to go listen more carefully to the song.) I woke up Miranda. She held me and my heart rate began to settle. I spoke verbally against Satan in the name of Christ and we went to check on Kasen to make sure he was alright too. We prayed for God’s protection and for good dreams. I realized that I had a headache and got up to get some Tylenol – now I’m writing this stuff down.

Here are my first thoughts at interpreting it all – the project (maybe this idea of a church plant) may have been destroyed because God wasn’t in it. Maybe the representation of the flat world with light coming from it was Satan’s false light which made us think the project was of God. The emptiness I felt – like God was gone, may have really been that very thing – the feelings that would come to lose your baby (project) and the feelings that you’d given your life to something that wasn’t of God. I’m wondering also if the lyrics to the song is God’s way of telling me that the project/dream/vision isn’t enough – it won’t satisfy Him. He wants more.

Interesting to think that nothing has really been defined about what this thing would be or become, and He’s possibly telling it needs to be more. More than what? I must admit that I don’t want a big church – I’ve always thought true relationships and intimacy and health were more important – it’s ok to be small if we’re doing what He calls us to. It’s also easier to grab the reins and lead a small group. In spite of this: God, I do want You and it is my desire to satisfy You!

It’s now 2:50 and my heart is still racing. Guess I’ll watch some infomercials/TV and let my mind go elsewhere so that I can get some sleep tonight.

Wow! That rambles a bit, but hey, it was 2:30am and I was pretty freaked out.

OK. . . now . . . as I look back on the situation, I’m even more confused – is God trying to tell me that a church plant is not going to satisfy Him, or is He telling me that my concept of a church plant isn’t enough? It’s not big enough? I want to be a man of faith who chases lions and gets to the end of life to hear God say, “Well done hyper-hopeful risk-taking servant,” but I also want to be smart. . . realistic. . . content. I mean, truly – I have already been saved. I have more than I could ever need or deserve in Christ alone – not to mention the other ways He’s blessed me. (OK maybe I will mention my bride and son, and family, and friends, and. . .and. . .and. . .) Who am I? I’m no Beniah. Or Moses. Or David. Of course the other side of it is that I am a child of God. I am His representative on earth. And I have been given this measure of faith which seems to make these kinds of steps pretty easily.

If you’re still reading this, pray for me as a wrestle with all this stuff. I truly want to do what He has called me to do, but I’m still in an “investigation posture” right now – trying to discover and discern.

If any of you are dream interpreters, I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

Are you really here or am I dreaming
I can’t tell dreams from truth

For it’s been so long since I’ve seen you
I can hardly remember your face anymore
When I get really lonely and the distance calls it’s only silence
I think of you smiling with pride in your eyes a lovers that sighs
If you want me, satisfy me
If you want me, satisfy me

Are you really sure that you believe me
when others say I lie?
I wonder if you could ever despise me?
You know I really try
to be a better one to satisfy you for you’re everything to me
and I do what you ask me
If you let me be free
If you want me, satisfy me
If you want me, satisfy me


About 17 years ago, I went to the National Youth Workers Convention for the first time. It was in San Francisco that year. Anyway, while I was there, I went to a workshop on creativity by a guy named Craig McNair Wilson. It was the “Imaginuity” Workshop. Anyway, many of his ideas have really stuck with me throughout the years. His main idea is that Imagination is a great thing, but it falls short of creativity in the sense that imagination stays in the head. He combined the two words to come up with “imaginuity” which he described as “imagination” with “creativity” infused. It’s about making imaginary things happen. In my own words “imaginuity” is “imagination with wings.”

Anyway, I was reminded of all these ideas when I was reading Andy Stanley’s book Visioneering today. I’ve already posted about the difference between a dreamer and a visionary (visionaries imagine themselves getting things done, dreamers just dream). “Imaginuity” is another way of speaking about vision because it too motivates one to do something. McNair Wilson worked for Disney at one time and was called an “Imagineer” – that’s a pretty good term for a visionary too.

Anyway, these were just some thoughts I had today about vision.

I’ll try to pull out my notes from that first convention to see what else I can remember about his “imaginuity” ideas. Maybe I’ll even order the video with his teachings on the subject.

I’ll finish this post with a quote from McNair Wilson. (It has nothing to do with vision or creativity, but it’s still good.)

“If you don’t do you, you doesn’t get done and the world is incomplete. Do what you do best. Do that a lot.”