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.

Stars and Vision

The other night Miranda and I decided to go out to eat in Pearland. Montana, one of the youth, was bored and called us so she ended up going with us. As we drove back towards Lake Jackson, Miranda said that it would be a beautiful night to look at the stars. We were pretty close to the exit for Brazos Bend State Park, which is also where the George Observatory is, so I said, “Why not? We don’t have any other big plans, so let’s go on over there.” We had always talked about checking it out, but never done it. Anyway, we got there and it all ended up being a bit more costly than I had thought, but still, a great experience. There were quite a few amateur astronomers out there with their telescopes pointed to quite a few different things and they all allowed us to look too. It was, in some ways, a pretty cool little community. I wonder how the church church would be  different if everyone shared their excitement and passions with others?

Holmes_4
Anyway, we got a really close look at the moon, the planet Neptune, a “double-double,” M15, and Holmes’ Comet. The talk of the night was Holmes’ comet. Evidently in the past few days it changed from a very dim comet to a very bright one. It orbits somewhere just inside Jupiter and takes six years to go around the sun one time. It also doesn’t have a tail like I imagined comets to have. Most theories about why it’s gotten brighter have to do with it breaking up and gaining more surface area to be seen. It can be seen with the naked eye right now. The double-double is actually four stars. Two pairs of them have somehow gotten into an orbit around each other. They look like two stars until you look a little closer and realize there are actually four. M15
M15 was pretty interesting too. It’s a globular cluster of stars that are 3500 light years away. That means that the image I was looking at was 3500 years old. They may not exist at all right now – it just took 3500 years for the light to travel that distance – it’d be another 3500 years before I could look at what it actually looks like today. Weird stuff to think about. This means that as we learn to look deeper and deeper into space we can actually see into history itself. Considering that they say they have seen stars millions of light years away, how does this fit with the whole creation story in Genesis? How old is the earth? Are faith and science at odds? I’ll never know the answers to these questions, but these kinds of experiences make me think.

OK – so if we can see into the past, is it possible to see the future? How can I be the kind of man who can lead others into the future that God desires for them? In order to find certain stars in the sky, the astronomers used other stars as reference points. Over the years I’ve learned to figure out God’s direction by looking into my past and focusing on specific reference points to draw a line into the future. I understand how that works for an individual, but what about doing that for a group? a church? a ministry? How far do you need to look into the past? How do you determine what reference points to focus on? Is this why relationship is so important? – so people will trust you with their past enough for you to discover a future? How do I find the “yellow brick road” for  a group of people? Or do I just start walking the road He has for me (like Dorthy) and get others to join me in the journey?

Prayer:
OK God. I’ve got all kinds of questions. I know You’re using this time in my life to expand my understanding and view of You, and I’m so grateful to be growing. Help me to answer these questions and lead me to ask the right questions. I truly want the future that You have for me.

Indescribable

Here’s the info I spoke on last Sunday Night. I got it all from a DVD sermon by Louie Giglio – the founder of the Passion Worship movement.

1 milky way galaxy

Psalm 19:1-4 – New Living

“The heavens tell of the glory of God.
The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.

They speak without a sound or a word;
their voice is silent in the skies;[a]

yet their message has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to all the world.”

The stars are shouting God’s praises – day after day they’re telling us what they know! The stars are like a billboard telling us everyday about His glory and how great He is.

Big bang – there probably was a big bang when God created it all! Science and Christians are all seeking to find the truth in this mystery of creation.

God said “let there be light.” Of course – when God asks for something, that’s what He gets.

We don’t even know how big the universe is – the telescope isn’t big enough. God is laughing at us – He enjoys when we discover more, but He has so much more for us.

Habited planets? If the universe is just for us, then it’s way oversized. What if it’s primary purpose isn’t to give us a home, but to show off the glory of God? Then it’s probably the right size.

Light Speed is 186,000 miles/second – a beam of light could circle the earth 7 times every second.

Psalm 33:6 – “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

We live in the subdivision called the milky way universe. Consists of billions of stars. Scientists say there are hundreds of billions of other galaxies in the known universe.

Light year = 5.88 trillion miles/year

2 milky way galaxy

If we were to count just the stars in the milky way galaxy one/second, it would take 2,500 years.

Isaiah 40

25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

We’ve got to right-size Him tonight. He is not our size. He doesn’t think like we think. He is working on a canvas bigger than anything we ever imagined. The heavens are telling us that, and they’re telling us that we are really really really really small.

3 – milky way galaxy

 

4 – milky way galaxy

The Milky way galaxy is a bard spiral galaxy which is 100,000 light years across. (remember a light year is 5.88 trillion miles)

5 – milky way galaxy with earth

Where’s earth? We’re not even in the center of our own subdivision – it’s not about you, it’s about God. You don’t wanna live in the center anyway – it’s scary there. It’s also scary in the bands surrounding the center – we live between them about 2/3 of the way out. Our solar system is too small to even put on this picture. Scientists say that our solar system is the size of a quarter and the milky way galaxy is the size of the North American Continent.

06 – earth

Earth – you don’t see any people, cities, countries. . .you don’t see the great need, the poverty, the strife, the pain, the glory, the glamour – as you step back you get this feeling that maybe we aren’t so big after all. We know the one who made this world must be huge. Maybe we aren’t as important as we thought. Maybe our plans aren’t so grand at all.

Neil Armstrong – first man who walked on the moon said, “I remember on the way home on Apollo 11, it suddenly struck me that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the earth. I put my thumb up and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out planet earth, but I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very very small.

Psalm 8

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

Voyager was launched 1977 – to take pictures. In 1990, Voyager is 3.7 billion miles away from the earth traveling 40,000 miles an hour away from the sun. It takes 60 pictures, with 640,000 pixels in each image. It takes 5 and a half hours for each pixel to make it back to earth from 3.7 billion miles away. – talk about a dial-up problem.
07 – pale blue dot

Do you see earth in that one? It’s there. The “Pale Blue Dot” picture was taken – the suns rays reflected off voyager (4 billion miles away) to create the bands you see. Earth is the dot.

Famous astronomer called it a “mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam.” Our huge lives are all played out on a “mote of dust.” Not trying to make you feel small – I want you to see that you are small.

But it’s significant, insignificance ’cause as tiny as we are – we are prized my majesty. Who sent for us and knows us and loves us even though we are just tiny little specks in this vast universe that He made. Just as He can call the stars by name, He can start in this room and call each of us by name. And not only that – He could even tell you how many hairs are on your head and what you’re thinking right now and if you secretly desire to be sitting next to someone else right now. He knows us!!!!! And Is aware of us!!! And Loves us!! And Invites us into a relationship with Him that will never ever end!!! It’s amazing to think how big He is and that He still knows and cares for us.

Lets go on a journey now.

10 – sun

93 million miles out to the sun.

It burns you up. Raging ball of fire. Not the smiley face sun like we drew it as kids. 10,000 degrees on the surface. It’s like billions of nuclear explosions going off every second. It takes 8 seconds for light from it to go the 93 million miles from there to your skin. It came out of the mouth of God – He is not some kind of wimpy God. He is intense, powerful, ferocious, holy, and full of radiant splendor – He opens His mouth and stuff like this just come out. The sun is 100 times the diameter of earth.

11 – earth/sun comparison

That’s why you wanna thank God in your bed tonight that we are 93 million miles away from the sun.

12 – close up of sun

Close up of the sun from the Swedish solar institute – they’re doing studies of the sun – raging fire. Scientists say, it would take the gross national of the United States for 7 million years for our local power company to run the sun for one second – and it’s just one star out of billions in the milky way – which is only one galaxy of billions of known galaxies in the universe that God has made.

5.88 trillion miles is a light year – 440 light years out we find:

13 – plieades

The Pleiades constellation.

Job 38:31

“Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion?

14 – vela pulsar

Vela Pulsar – 1000 light years away

what’s a pulsar? A star explodes into a supernova and can collapse back into itself into a magnetic intensity – it’s a highly magnetized neutron star – it’s center occilates 11 times a second – it sends out this intense signal:

A radio telescope captured this recording of the Vela Pulsar

The vela pulsar didn’t wanna miss out on the worship – it’s screaming “He’s Big!! He’s bigger than you think He is!! God is Awesome!!”

15 – hourglass nebula

8000 light years away – hourglass nebula – just beautiful – God is watching us.

16 – helix nebula

17 – star dust ring

28 million light years out (28 million X 5.88 trillion miles) – sombrero galaxy


18 & 19 – sombrero galaxy

Sombrero galaxy – not just a cool little frisbee thing – its 50 thousand light years wide – trillions of miles thick – why is it there? Just to glorify God – to give a small example of who He is. Showing off the greatness and majesty of God.

20 – hubble telescope

Hubble hangs out 353 miles above the earth.

21 – whirlpool galaxy

31 million light years away – grand design galaxy – hundreds of billions of stars – pink areas are star-forming incubators – every second a new star is born in our universe – God is naming them all and putting them where He wants

Let’s go far far far out! Indescribable how far out it is

22 – christ

He made everything we’ve seen tonight – and yet He chose to be hung on a tree that He himself created. The maker of the entire universe came to that pale blue dot –

Philippians 2:5b-11

Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Psalm 103:8-12

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

23 – x structure at core of whirlpool galaxy

The world – the universe is all about God. Not us, but God. And He has decided to ask you and I to be a part of His big big story. It doesn’t matter how big your situation seems, God is bigger and He loves you! Nothing can shake you out of God’s hand as He holds you.

Love so amazing so divine, demands our my soul my life my all.

Stories I Need to Tell – Dancing & Dogs

Here’s one about my beautiful bride.

06-08-11 01When Miranda and I first started dating, she bought me a dog. I named him Peanut. At that time Miranda was living with some friends of ours. When I would go visit her, I would bring Peanut and we’d go out together to walk him. Mostly we just wanted to be together and talk, but Peanut was a good excuse for us to have this time together. Anyway, I’d say that these times of walking together are part of the reason we fell in love. We had some incredible conversations as we’d walk through the neighborhood. We’d talk about our history, our future dreams, our ideas about life – everything. Those were incredible days and incredible conversations. Anyway, after doing this for a few months, we kind of found this one special place where we could sit down and talk and sometimes we’d dance. It was a courtyard for the neighborhood pool. We’d tie peanut to the fence or whatever would could and then we’d dance out under the stars to the music in our hearts and we’d talk and dance some more.

One night, it was a perfect night. Beautiful sky. A subtle breeze. Quiet enough to dance to the music of the crickets (OK – now I’m getting cheesy.) Anyway, I tied Peanut up as normal to a water faucet that was sticking out of the ground. 06-08-11 kiss As we danced, he pulled one too many times and soon we were dancing under a 20 foot fountain of water. I figured he had somehow turned the pipe so that it came unscrewed so I tried to screw it back in, but realized in the process that the pipe was totally broken. There was nothing to be done except turn the water off, but I didn’t know where the valve was. Miranda, Peanut, and I began strolling back to our friend’s house thinking we’d call someone when we got there.

Then, we hear a man screaming at us, “You’re just gonna leave??!! That’s right. . . . run away!!” I turned and went back – the man was a neighborhood watch guy who thought we had done it one purpose. I explained what had happened and he knew where the valve was and everything turned out fine.

Anyway, there’s no real lesson to this story – it was just a funny thing that happened when Miranda and I were dating.

Well, maybe there is a lesson – don’t tie your dog to a water faucet!

Stories I Need to Tell – Falling Star

Alright, I decided today that I was gonna write a series of stories and post them all on here. I’ve been collecting stories out of my life for a while and even have a file on my computer called “Stories I Need to Tell.” It’s just a list of the stories I’ve been collecting – ANYWAY – I’ll start with a story where God really spoke to me in a powerful way. (Of course anytime He speaks it’s powerful, but I actually noticed that it was Him in this story.) This may actually be the first story I remember thinking that I needed to tell somebody else about – this is the one that after it happened I decided to start “collecting” stories.

——————————————————————————————

The Falling Star

06-07-31 01When I was a Senior in High School, I met a girl. Her name was Gema. We started dating and I must admit that she was the most amazing girl I had ever known. She was beautiful. She was smart. She enjoyed alot of the same things I did. And probably the biggest thing she had going for her was this: She actually liked me too. Anyway, we dated for a few months toward the end of my senior year (She was a senior too) and somewhere in the middle of the summer (probably July) I had returned home from church camp. (Meridian – that’ll be in another “Story I Need to Tell”) After arriving home I called her up and she came over to my house. My family lived in the middle of this big 80 acre field in those days so she and I went out back and sat in the porch swing. It was one of those really clear nights where there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – the temperature was just cooling down from the summer day and there was a nice breeze. It was a pretty romantic sort of situation (I was pretty good with that stuff in those days.) Anyway, as we talked that night about leaving each other as we had planned to go off to college, Gema soon started crying. It wasn’t long that I had joined her. Somewhere deep inside I felt that things would be OK and since I had just come from church camp, I knew it was God speaking to me. Through my own tears I spoke to her and said, “It’ll be OK, God will be with us.” 06-07-31 02 THEN OUT OF NOWHERE CAME A FLASH ACROSS THE SKY! This falling star shot from one end of the sky to the other – It was HUGE! It was like God spoke through me saying “I am with you!” and then He sent this Big EXCLAMATION point with the falling star. Our tears dries up that night and we both had received the hope that God had given us that night. Of course the next day. . . . .we were sad again and scared about our future.

After starting school at Texas A&M a month or so later, trying to keep our relationship alive, I would drive 3 hours home each weekend to meet up with Gema. One weekend I came home and things felt different between us. When I asked her about it – she would say that everything was good and that she “loved” me. By the time Sunday night rolled around she pretty well had me convinced that things were still good between us. After my 3 hour drive I called her to tell her I had arrived safely and asked her once again what had changed. Why had things felt so different? She finally gave me the truth and said she didn’t know what it was, but she wanted to “break up.” She said she loved me and that I had done nothing wrong, but still wanted to “break up.” What??!!??!! What does that mean?? She still loves me, but doesn’t want to be with me??? It just doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, when I finally got off the phone it was about 3am. I was crying, but didn’t want my roommate to know I was crying over a girl – I guess that’s the macho guy in me. As I walked around the apartment complex, I cried out to God, “Why?? I don’t understand God?? You brought me down here where I’m all alone. No friends. No family. No church. No job. I’m all alone and now, You’re taking away my girlfriend??!! I don’t get it??” And then He answered as only He could. I saw a “falling star” shoot from one end of the sky to the other and was reminded of what He had said before with that same phrase. “I am with you.”

I AM WITH YOU! Listen to Him say it to you.

I AM WITH YOU!

From that day forward I have realized that I wasn’t ever alone, and that I am stronger when it’s just He and I than at any other time in my life. Wherever you find yourself today know that God is with you and that He loves you.