Saturday, January 31, 2009

What is so super about the Superbowl?

Superbowl 2009, Arizona Cardinals verses the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I am not a big fan of either team that will be playing in this years big game. I am however a big fan of some of the individuals who make playing football their career. Kurt Warner for example, is in my opinion a great role model. He understands that his life is much more than just playing football and he will tell anyone who is willing to listen. Kurt Warner has made more than one interviewer uncomfortable by invoking the name of Jesus during an interview. "If you ever really want to do a story about who I am, God's got to be at the center of it. Every time I hear a piece or read a story that doesn't have that, they're missing the whole lesson of who I am." - Kurt Warner

During a visit to The Oprah Winfrey Show, Warner "basically had three sentences to say, so, in the middle one, I made sure I mentioned my faith, because how could they cut it out?" he said. "I went to watch the show on replay . . . and they cut it out!". This really upsets me because Oprah has gone out of her way to be accepting of some really off the wall belief systems and has even claimed to be a Christian herself. It seems to me that the main stream media is only interested in seeing the "off the wall", wacky and just plain weird folks who claim to be Christians. They (The Media) are simply not interested in sitting down with someone who loves and glorifies God with their lives, so unfortunately you don't often see real Christians on TV.

After playing football for many years, I think I watch the game from a little different perspective than those who have never played. For me it is not simply a game between two teams but to me it is much more like many little battles between individuals. Many games are won or lost based upon these one on one competitions. I am in no way trying to negate the importance of teamwork but would simply point out the whole analogy of a chain only being as strong as its weakest link. So when you watch the game on Sunday, pay attention to the little battles that contribute to the overall game... it will add a new dimension to your football watching pleasure.

I'm going to be cheering on the home team from here in Arizona, hoping that Kurt Warner will get another Superbowl ring and that he would have many more opportunities to share his faith because of it. I further hope that Kurt would somehow see this article and would contact me about speaking to the Men's Ministry that I lead (Can't fault a guy for trying). I won't censor you Kurt, I promise!

In conclusion, what's so super about the Superbowl? For me, it will be spending time with family and friends. Sharing time together, talking and snacking. Having the opportunity to meet some new people and to deepen relationships with some I don't know so well... oh yeah, there will also be a football game on.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How to write a book

According to a very scientific poll (ok... responses to my Facebook status) it is clear that most people believe that everyone has a book in them ready to get out. If that is true, I am wondering what has to be done in order to extract that book. Seems to me that there would be several things that would have to happen.

  • Picking a subject - does it have to be something you are an expert in?
  • Do you write the book in chapters? - If so, does it come out in the final order?
  • Does the title come first - Do you have to have your title before you start?

I'm sure that I will think of other things I will think of later... but that's the questions for now.

Writing blog entries just seem to happen. I'll be sitting here and will think of something that I want to write about and it will just pour out with very little thought (that's not to say that some of it may be thoughtful...). Its a little funny, because when I'm in school or at work, writing feels like a chore, but when I feel like writing about something, it seems almost cathartic. I like the blogging paradigm because it allows for immediate feedback, which for me is kind of a big deal as it helps me to refine my thinking and may even help my writing.

I love to read and I think that causes me to want to write, but the question is; does that qualify me? What's the point of writing if you don't have an audience for your writing? It seems to me that most people already have an audience in mind when they set out to write a book.

Here is a short list of book ideas that I have had:

  • Stacking Bricks - A common man's guide to Christian Theology.
  • Drop and gimme twenty - diet and exercise in a simple and straight forward language.
  • Teens and Technology - Balancing freedom and trust with protection and censorship in the 21st century.

I have knowledge in each of these areas, but do not have a degree in any area related to them. Although this may not disqualify me from writing about them, it certainly doesn't give me a ton of encouragement or motivation.  Maybe I should just sit down and write:

  • Putting pen to paper - Encouragement and motivation for the would be writer.

This is the paragraph where I try to encourage and motivate you (the reader) to sit down and write some feedback to this and any other articles that I have written. Why should you comment? You should comment because your opinion matters to me. I enjoy dialog, even with people who strongly disagree with me (I have learned tons from people who disagree with me, maybe more than I have learned from those who share my opinions).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Experiencing History

Tomorrow all of us will have the opportunity to experience history. When Barack Obama the first African American president is sworn in as the forty-forth president of the United States. I wish we lived in a world where I didn't have to include the term African American in order for this to be historic. I wish we could simply say that Barack Obama the man, who was created in the image of God was being sworn in as president. I long for the day when the world begins to see things as the Lord does. When He looks, He sees His creation, the creation that bears His image, who was created for the express purpose of having relationship with Him. I think it is sin that blinds us from seeing as God sees and we in our sinfulness desire to see those things that make us different and to miss on the very thing that makes us all the same.

My prayer is that Barack Obama the man knows and has relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That Barack Obama the man would be placing is full trust in God and that Barack would know God's voice.

All politics aside ( I did not vote for Obama ), but I will be praying diligently for him and for his family. They will be under tremendous pressure and I want to cover their family in the prayer of protection, so that no matter what happens, that their family would remain strong and united. I will pray that Obama will allow himself to be used by God to accomplish the Lord's purposes. Please join me in praying for our new president, for the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James)!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What can we learn from chronic pain?

First I want it to be extremely clear that I am not writing this to draw attention to myself or my condition, I am simply sharing some thoughts that I am having. Once again I see that the Lord uses our circumstances to teach us and the following is my way of processing what He is showing me.

I'm not sure that chronic physical pain is all that much different from other chronic pain, whether it be mental or spiritual. I have seen chronic pain from both sides, as an observer and as the one experiencing the pain.

I know that as an observer I have had times when I have grown weary of those complaining about whatever condition they were facing, I would simply want them to get over it and not spend so much time complaining. Yes, I fully realize now and may regret my transparency that my reaction was fully based upon selfishness. My selfishness blinded me from being able to see the real need behind they constant talk about their condition.

As a person who has has chronic pain for a while (not nearly as long as some), I understand why people talk about their hurting... They talk about it, because they don't know what else to do. Medicine and therapy can can accomplish a lot, but it usually entails some kind of pain killer or mind numbing agent and relying on those kinds of things, is no real way to live.

It is true that we may not be able to bring total relief to those who are hurting, but you know what, we can simply listen, stand beside them and we can do what Jesus did, we can pray for them. We need to realize that these folks have no desire to remain in the pain that they are facing day after day and most of them would be willing to do anything to get rid of the pain that they have. I have often said that I would cut off my arm to make the pain stop.

We as followers of Christ (maybe this message only applies to me)need to learn about real compassion, not some made up, self-empowered form of caring. I'm convinced that what people need to see in us can only come from God. I often think about what it would be like to really look into the face of Jesus and what His eyes would say to us, without Him even saying a word. I have been blessed to see this in a few other people, that when I look into their face, that I see love, honesty and total acceptance. I may never get there, but that's what I'm praying for.

Where does that leave us, what can we learn from chronic pain? Maybe very little, maybe a whole lot, if nothing else it proved to be a jumping off point for a short discussion of real God empowered compassion. If we can find ourselves empowered by God, with real compassion, the community in which we live wouldn't stand a chance against the changes that would come.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Where is the Unity in Community

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:34-35

Where is the Unity in Community? I am not talking about the larger form of community, I am talking specifically about the church community, the body of Christ, the local meeting of believers. Is it really a stretch to expect something different within the church than what would be typically found outside the church. I'm going to tip my hand and give you a glimpse of my conclusion... Yes, I believe we can expect something different.

When a new person comes into the church, what should they expect to see? Here is what I think. I think that people should walk in and be totally struck by the love that the church members have for one another. They should see people communicating on a much deeper level than what they would see outside the church. They should see real and genuine concern, one member to another. We in the church need to set aside who we are and simply remember who He is and remember that our relationship (one member to another) is based on Him and not upon our likes and dislikes. We need to set aside our own prejudices, look beyond the visible and look for the recognizable life of Christ in the people we attend church with. This should be more than enough to bridge the gap that divides us.

We have to learn to have grace for one another, because we will say stupid things, we will do stupid things and we will be careless. Grace should allow us to say... "Hey, that person may have said something I don't like... but they don't mean it in a malicious manner". Most people don't intend to offend us, they are simply being who they are and we need to have a place in our hearts that allow them that freedom.

The reality is that I may not have enough in common with you, that I would plan my next vacation to spend it with you, but that shouldn't stop me from being able to give you a genuine hug and to be able to tell you that I love you and that you matter to me. If we can't find a way to love each other, how are we ever going to be able to love the lost one who comes through the front door.

Lets put on our thick skin and learn to get along with one another. Lets pray that God will give us love for one another (I don't think we can fake this... it is really something that God WILL do, if we ask Him). Join me in meeting one new person this next week... look for the Love of God in this new person and pray that God will allow a special place for them in your heart. Go out of your way to make them feel welcome (even if they have been there longer than you) and special, don't expect anything in return, but know that God will be well pleased with you. You have nothing to lose, but a bother or sister to gain!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Creative or Artistic

I'm wondering tonight about creativity and artistic abilities. I'm wondering if a person can learn either or both. I tend to believe that creativity is something that can be learned but being artistic is more of a gift.

I think creativity is like a learned skill because it is used in so many different areas. Trouble shooting problems takes creative thinking, doing a puzzle takes creative thinking and there are many other things. It's possible to take someone and teach them to put together a puzzle or to think outside the box when solving a problem. This all falls under the heading of creativity.

Artistic ability on the other hand, I don't believe can be taught. Can you really teach someone to take a blank piece of paper and then have them create a masterpiece? When I look at a blank sheet of paper... that is really all I see. I have read about artists and how they think... I have looked at design books... read about techniques and still... nothing.

We learned during the Truth Project that there was a time in history when the Church was the center for the arts. The speaker made a really good argument for why the Church needs to regain that status, his argument was that our God was the ultimate creative one and that if we are created in His image, then we should be creative as well. It makes sense to me and makes me wonder if it is yet another thing that we lost in the fall.

I really want to move from being simply creative to being more artistic. I would like to understand the art behind the music, to be  able to see the picture behind the blank page, to hear the poem before putting it on paper and to visualize the portrait before snapping the picture. If my God is the ultimate artist, then being artistic is what I want to be, because I want to be like Him!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What can we learn from Master Chief


I'm thinking that we Christians can learn a lot about the Christian life from Master Chief. You will notice that Master Chief never leaves home without putting on his full armor, much like we should never leave home without putting on the full armor of God.

Eph 6:13
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Master Chief has a voice in his head that he listens to, this voice in the form or Cortana, guides and leads Master Chief through his daily struggles. We Christians have the Holy Spirit living in us and we should be tuned in to his voice, so that He can lead and guide us through each and every day.

Acts 1:1-2
Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

Master Chief will use any weapon available in order to achieve his objective and when there is no choice of weapon, he looks for ways to make the weapon he has more effective. We as Christians should be wielding whatever weapons the Lord provides us in order to be effective in the ministry He is giving us. When the Lord gives us the gift of faith, we must step out in that faith and act. When he gives us the gift of service, we need to be looking for a place to serve. We win battles when we use the weapons the Lord wants us to use, but only as we are trusting Him.

1 Cor 12:4-11
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.  7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith  by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various  kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

Finally when Master Chief is in the heat of battle and begins to take damage, he backs out and finds a quiet place to recharge, until he is once again recharged and ready to go. We Christians need to be aware of when we are under attack and begin to take on damage. When we find ourselves in this position, we need to find a quiet place where we can come into the presence of God in order to recharge and find healing.

Luke 5:16
16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray .

Its true that I am a fan of Halo and of Master Chief, but I am more than able to separate reality from fantasy. I have to admit that sometimes I feel like Master Chief being sent out into the battle on behalf of my Lord, into a world where many believe that my Lord is nothing more than fantasy.  I will press on in order to Finish the Fight!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reaching Out

Our church did an out reach and lunch for a neighborhood in Phoenix today. It was a new location for us, not the park where we usually get a large number of homeless, but this was a neighborhood. We normally go to a park in central Phoenix, but recently the Park Rangers and the Phoenix police decided that they no longer wanted us to feed people on city property, because we did not have food handling permits. It is kind of a bummer knowing that on a regular basis most of these folks get food from who knows where and we are willing to feed them a home cooked meal, but the city of Phoenix is concerned about a permit.

Our new location is a vacant lot in a lower income neighborhood where we have permission from the lots owner to be there. So on private property, we can throw a party and invite the neighborhood. It was great, we had good turnout and had plenty of food for everyone. We even made a contact in the neighborhood who told us that they would love for us to come and minister their as there is no other ministry going on in the area. We were even told that someone owned a home there that has been set aside for ministry purposes. I will be praying to see what the Lord might want us to do with this opportunity if anything. I love the idea about going into a neighborhood where we have an opportunity to meet the folks that live their and they can get to know us as well.

I am tempted to call out those who were there by name, but I will not spoil the rewards that they are laying up for themselves in heaven. I know in my heart that the Lord was well pleased, the people were well fed and the Spirit accomplished His work.

There were a bunch of young people with us as well, high school, junior high and even younger. I love to see them serving in this capacity, learning to make it a regular part of the ministry of Jesus and not something that they just read about. I am very proud of each them and I know that they glorified our Lord today.

I need to give a shout out to the ladies who made this happen today... H.L. and A.C. You guys are awesome and you inspire me beyond the words I have to express it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Forever the student

I finally got my first book for the church history book club. "How God Saved Civilization: The epic story of God leading His people, the Church" by James L. Garlow.

I am only a little way into the book, but I really like it a lot. I have forgotten how much l like reading about history. It is amazing how much you can learn when you look at things in historical context. This book is not written in an academic fashion and is very readable, which really adds to its enjoyment.

I'm looking forward to seeing who shows up to the book club and hearing all about their experience with the book. I'm hoping that others will enjoy it as much as I am.

On the learning front, I'm also wanting to learn more about photography... I don't know why, but I would really like to be able to take some good pictures. Have you ever looked at She She's pictures (, she takes great pictures. I want to be able to do something like that.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Too much to title

So my mind is racing... too many things to say and no title would do them justice.

So I'm playing Halo with my son and thinking that it reminds me of my Christian life... Here I am, a Spartan who is wearing super armor (the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith) and I am battling through each day fighting against the schemes of the enemy. Around every turn there is a brute with an accusation trying to kill me by stealing my joy and side tracking my trust in the one true king. My companions are ever present, providing me with weapons like the Word of God, Prayer and words of encouragement. Step by step I walk the path set before me battling the enemy and with every step I endeavor to become more like my Jesus. I am Commander Lonnie, Master Chief of the Vineyard Community Church in Gilbert!

It is hard going back to work after being off for two weeks... but I find that I miss my work mates. I find that I have have grown fond of them and have a genuine desire to make a difference in their lives. It goes way beyond the whole work environment, its become personal. I find that I care about them and their families. Its weird... but it shouldn't be.

I find myself struggling with wanting to do or say something inspirational, but as I search, I can't come up with anything to say. I feel like I want to write a poem or song or something, but I don't have the creativity to pull it off. I have been listening to a lot of Skillet songs and have found them to be filled with truth and artistic qualities. I feel like I want to say something that evokes emotion like some of the songs that Skillet has done... doesn't make much since does it.

Makes me think of a time when someone prophesied over me, saying that I would do some creative things and that I was a creative person. I have tried hard in my own power to make that prophesy come true... maybe because I want it to be true so badly. Perhaps I should cool it and let the Lord do what He wants, so I can just sit back and see what happens.

I got my book today for the Church history book club... I need to be reading about 22 pages per day in order to get through it on time. I don't think it will be too hard to get through, although I don't feel much like reading tonight. If only I could put the book under my pillow and  gain the knowledge from it via osmosis or something... that would be cool. I would have a different book under my pillow every night.

Have I mentioned that I am part of an awesome small group? Well, I am! I stay in t0uch with most of them via Facebook and its a  really cool thing. I feel like I know them and I feel like they care about me. I posted about having to go to the hospital last night and I got a ton of "I'm praying for you" messages. I can't thank all of you enough.

My wife and I were talking last night... she tells me that she can understand why people are afraid of or intimidated by me, because of the way I look and act. It seems so strange to me that I can have one view of myself on the inside and that people can have such a different view of me on the outside. Actually I think I have used this to my benefit, keeping people at a distance, pretty weird huh?

I have likely said too much already.... I better go.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tough end to my last day of vacation

So I ended my day by spending a couple of hours at the hospital in the ER. Here is the story... I have been having problems with my left shoulder for the past several months and have been working with my doctor to get it fixed. I have what is known as impingement syndrome. This is where there is not much room in the joint so things start to get squeezed and it causes pain when reaching to the side or overhead. This means that I have had pain most days but nothing that I could not put up with.

This past week, we were up in Flagstaff enjoying the snow and I slipped on a patch of ice and landed on my left elbow, which caused my shoulder to get jammed. I thought I could just deal with the pain the same as I had over the past few months... but tonight I was having some serious sharp pain that felt like someone shoving an ice pick into the center of my shoulder joint. I tried to hold out, but lost the fight and had to go and get some medicine to help me with the pain.

I have been putting off having surgery to permanently fix my shoulder so that I could finish some projects that I have been working on, but it looks like I need to get this thing fixed sooner rather than later. I'm thinking I will only be out of commission for just a couple of days followed by a couple of month of physical therapy. I had something very similar done to my right shoulder about 15 years ago and it went very well leaving my right shoulder as strong as ever. I'm hoping for the same results for the left. God willing!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cleaning the garage

It is interesting that when you clean the garage, that you feel better about a lot of things. Cleaning things out helps you to take stock of what you have and also allows you to throw out those things that are no longer needed. I feel better after having spent the time doing the work of sorting through the things that have just been taking up space.

In our lives, I think we can all benefit from doing a little cleaning and organizing. Looking at those things that once seemed so important to us and evaluating whether they still hold our attention. Year after year our passions change and the things that we once held dear become a thing of the past. It could be that there is simply a season for all things or it may simply be that as we mature we place emphasis on different things. Like growing a garden, it is important to spend time removing the weeds, those things that hinder growth.

While cleaning things out, I find things that were so very valuable to me as nothing more than stuff that takes up space. I find more joy in the simplicity of having less to deal with and having more time for the things that my heart is drawn towards.

My time is short and needs to be focused on those things that are most important and should not be spent maintaining things that are of little importance. As hard as it is, I need to learn to say no to some things and to say yes to others. I trust that God will provide guidance and will lead me toward those important things and away from those time wasters of the past.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Action Packed Day

Today was action packed...

Started off by answering some email and checking Facebook. I have really enjoyed staying in touch with friends on Facebook, I think it is really helping me to feel more connected. Its just another tool that I can use to build community with others and I hope that we can get the whole church family on it eventually.

Next came a little work that needed to be started... it was a little tough to get back into work mode after being off for more than a week. I followed this up by playing a little Halo 3 with my son Caleb. He is quite good and we have a lot of fun playing together.

All of this took me into the afternoon where my daughter setup a trip to the movies with my family and a few of my daughters friends. We saw Bedtime Stories and it was a really good movie, filled with some funny scenes. I liked Adam Sandler in this movie, he did a good job and is quite funny.

After the movie we went to dinner with some friends to Arriba Mexican Grill for some good Mexican food. I am a big fan of Mexican cooking, especially when it is cooked with lots of peppers... the hotter the better. I had the Hatch chicken especial which is a three pepper dish (they rate the spice from one to three peppers). I really think it could have had a little more heat but the dish was very good overall. One little disappointment was that their tortillas are not made on site... so they didn't seem very fresh. It could be that I am spoiled because once you have had fresh tortillas, its hard to go back. I need to make it a point to learn how to make them myself... ok... its on the list. Good food, great friends and wonderful conversation!!

After returning home I spent some time working on a pet project of mine. I might talk about this another time once I decide its true value. I was hoping to find my books for the Church History book club in my mailbox but was disappointed. I'm hoping they get here soon so that I have time to get through the first book before the meeting. It will take some real discipline to get through a book a month, but I will give it my best shot.

Yep, an action packed day!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Years Day

Its New Years Day a day for reflection and a day for looking ahead to the new year. There will be many who will use today to begin planning changes that they plan to make throughout the next twelve months. These resolutions will stick for some and for others will become areas of discontent.

As I look back over the past year I am thankful for many things:

  • A new small group. (The Gentes Group)
  • Facebook - I have connected with lots of old friends and have made some new ones.
  • My 40th year on earth.
  • My 20th wedding anniversary.
  • Leading the Junior High Youth Group.
  • A great Six Flags trip.
  • A fun filled trip to the snow.
  • and many more.
Looking forward to the next year, I am reluctant to make any resolutions, but will say this... I will continue to pursue God but with more passion. I will continue to love and serve people with the gifts given to me by the Lord. I will strive to experience the Kingdom in all ways available. I will continue to study and expand my understanding. I will allow others to speak into my life, both blessing and correction.