Place of Grace – Meridian – for my children

I never finished this, but it was an idea for a poem or song or something to give to my children. It expresses the things I plan to share with my kids when I take them to visit Meridian State Park someday. I’ll tell them the story of how I came to know Jesus. I’m so excited about that day! These words capture some of the emotions I feel as I think about telling them.

Anyway, maybe I’ll finish it someday, but I wanted to go ahead and post something so I wouldn’t lose it.


This is a couple of years after I came to know Christ, but it still floods my mind with memories of that day. Lots of the same people in this pic.

Come let me show you this place, this place full of grace.
Come let me show you the spring where we sat and listened to the quiet
And the outcropping where we waterbombed the bus.
Let’s go walk the carpet of bluebonnets
and run past the bees on the trail of Mesquite
As a child I ran these trails and stepped on a snake
These vines scratched my legs but helped heal me too.

We played frisbee golf and waterballoon volleyball
Chased Bulldog to soak him
James Garner taught us the Scriptures under the tree.
Ross Senter spoke around the campfire.

Let me show you the grace in this place.

Come watch the horizon swallow the sun
Breathe in the lights. See the milky way run
From up on the ledge and above the lake
Lets watch the sky. and see the stars come awake.

Come hear distant voices from the lake down below
Let’s sit and sing and wait – take it slow
If we’re lucky we’ll see a star fall from space
Here in this place – this place full of grace

And this is where I sat and sang and cried
Around the campfire On the night I gave my life to Christ.

This place is so dear. It’s a place I want you to know
Whether this place or that place, I want you to have your own place full of grace.

3rd Space

McmanusErwin McManus spoke at the RightNow conference in Dallas 2008 and shared a great message that solidified some of the things I’ve blogged about in the past. Here’s my summary of his talk:

Acts 17:16 – “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18  A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
19  Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?
20  You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.”
21  (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22  Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.”

Erwin points out that there are 3 different spaces described here.

The 1st space (vs 17) is where Paul goes when he is first troubled by the idolatry – The Jewish synagogue. Most church folks do the same thing. When they have a problem, they first discuss it with the people closest to them – people like them. We like to bounce ideas off of people who think, look, and act like us ’cause it’s a safe way to arrange and solidify our own thinking. This is the space we arrange, create, and maintain to help us feel safe. It’s home. It’s where we invite others to join us. Many churches use an “attractional” ministry strategy to get people into their 1st space. This is a great strategy as long as it continues into the 2nd space.

The 2nd space is also seen in verse 17 – the marketplace. Paul immediately, takes his concerns to the people outside the church too. This is the space that no one controls – where everyone is welcome. Unfortunately, most Christians rarely speak of faith outside their “safe” church walls.  However, if they did, they might get invited into the sacred 3rd space.

The 3rd space is seen in verse 19. “Then they took him” describes the 3rd space. It’s the place that others control and create. It’s the place where they invite others. It’s in this space that Paul’s concerns are finally eased. In this 3rd space, he gets to talk to the main people he’s concerned about.

This 3rd space is truly where Christians can reach the world. Instead of waiting for people to come to church, the church should go to the world and express Christ’s love in such a way that they are invited into the 3rd spaces of others.

Another post with similar ideas can be found here: Welcoming or Welcomed?

Cathedral

Livingston_2This weekend, I experienced the sacred mystery of an amazing cathedral. Entering, I was first struck by the arches of east Texas pine stretching to a ceiling of endless blue. An easiness washed over over me and the world’s worries disappeared as I became overwhelmed by a sense of peace. We rested on old rocking chairs at a humble altar of two by four decking where we offered up our most lofty dreams and concerns communing with each other and the Creator. We laughed around a table sharing something more than our lives – truly sharing the present moment. It’s a sacred place – a holy place – where God engages us and helps us to think bigger stretching our hearts beyond the corners of our present state. It’s truly a joy to be in this place – an experience that I’ll never forget, and yet it’s also one which is not alone – I have come to expect and long for these experiences.

Thank you Godbolds! I truly consider our times with you in Livingston sacred.

Here’s a few pics of Kasen’s second trip.
Livingston_bath_2
Livingston
Singing_w_daddy With_aunt_laurie_2

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Lily Pad Leadership

Lily
Here’s an excerpt from “Traveling Mercies” by Anne Lamott – She seems to have this idea that God’s leadership is pretty difficult to imitate. He can lead with such intricacy that we don’t even recognize that we’ve been led there.

“My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear.”

Lily2
I John 4:18 (NIV)
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I wonder if leading someone into discipleship could simply be the creation of "lily pads" to direct people across this swamp of doubt? How do these ideas play into the "method" we’ll be learning in class?

Substitution

In hanging on the cross, Jesus was our substitute. He was without sin. We are not. It is sin that deserves the punishment of death (Romans 6:23). Jesus took on our sin and died in our place – substituting His own body in place of ours. This concept is  important because Jesus is the only man (of course He is God too) whose perfect, sinless life was sufficient to pay for the sins of the world. The good news is that He did it and that God’s righteous judgment is still intact because His just demands have been met.

This concept is clear throughout Scripture:
Isaiah 53 –  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Matthew 20:28 – . . .the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

I Timothy 2:6a – who gave himself as a ransom for all men. . .

Galatians 3:13a – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. . .

2 Corinthians 5:21 –  God made him who had no sin to be sin[1] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 3:18a – For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous. . .

How does this concept impact my life? In every way. I live because Christ died in my place. He took on my sin – it is no longer my burden. It has been paid for by Jesus’ own blood. He has conquered death and brought me into the family of God. In this life and beyond I will enjoy the favor of a Father who is God. It’s a classic statement, but appropriate here – Because He died for me, I choose to live for Him! I’ll never be able to substitute myself for Him, but He has called me to try – to work on becoming like Him and to then represent Him to the world. It’s an incredible privilege that I’m honored to be a part of.

(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 323)

Meridian State Park

Meridian Gosh, I’m not even sure where to start this post. That title alone – MERIDIAN STATE PARK – conjures up so many images and emotions within me. Meridian holds memories of friends, campfires, fried fish, rock climbing, hiking, Bee’s Ledge, Herman, water balloons, swimming, guitars, and singing. It makes me think of people like my dad, JET, Deason, James, Jackie Jo, Schlotzhauer, Chris, Bulldog, Chuck, Ronnie, Shayne, Robin, Todd, Dowdy dude, Brandon, John, Mary Francis, Joni, Wendi, Stephanie, Holly, Mike, Seabolt, Susan, Jaime Jo, and so many others. Connie, Tinker, Susan, Yvonne – truly the list goes on and on. And the crazy thing is that each item on this list is a memory. Most importantly, Meridian is the place I gave my life to Christ. It’s the place that everything else in my life hinges on. If it weren’t for the people and relationships that I made that Wednesday night (July 18, 1985), I honestly don’t know where I’d be.

Id_crowley_jr_year2By the way, this ID pic was taken of me just a month or so after that Wednesday night. As you can see, I was well on my way to a really great mullet – the 80s were so cool!

Joe, my youth minister, invited some folks to go to Meridian this past weekend. I was the first to arrive, and so I walked around the camp alone just praying for about 45 minutes before anyone else showed up. As I walked, everywhere I went, it seemed like every step I took my mind was flooded with these emotions and memories of something which had happened in that very spot. I thanked God for each of those events and for the people connected with them.

Joe talked Saturday night about the “Standing Stones” from Joshua 4 which were set up to memorialize what God had done in that place. (Stopped the Jordan river from flowing so the Israelites could cross and enter the Promised Land.) Standing_stones2 When people would come across a standing stone in later generations, they would ask the question, “What did God do here?” and then they would worship Him in that place. (No! These people are not bowing down to a standing stone, but to God. The stone only reminds them of the Lord’s work.)

Anyway, as I thought about Meridian this weekend, I realized that Meridian is the first “Standing Stone” Memorial that I have in my life. It’s the place that began my life with Christ. As I have continued to live my life with Christ, there have been many others. I can look back at quite a few other memorials and see where God has moved. Some of those include: Jan 3, 2004 and my Beautiful Bride, the day my dad died, the Godbolds, the Wesley Foundation @ A&M, Mike Mathews, The Wave, Throne Together, my trip to Israel, Mercy Ships, and now Lake Jackson. There are still many others both past and future, but it sure makes my life easier knowing that I can look back at each of these events and see very clearly that God moved. My faith almost doesn’t seem like faith, because I have had so many evidences or revelations of God in my past. Each of these memorials has made me who I am. When I step back and look at all of them together, each one adds to the other to point me down the road for my future. I still don’t know what my future holds, but with each of these anchor points it sure seems like God is leading a particular direction. His wind is mighty, my sails are up, I’m excited to imagine what’s next.