Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I've been listening to Andy Stanley lately. Not the Andy Stanley carefully organized in books and tapes, but the unedited Andy Stanley in an interview with the folks from the Catylst Conference. There were two points in particular that have grabbed my attention and won't let go.

First, Andy says that in the end, leaders look back on the opportunities they chased. We set goals, we plan, but we really have no control over what's coming and it is the opportunities taken that eventually define a ministry. That's freeing.

Second, he says that it is initiative that defines leaders much more than talent or intelligence. John Maxwell used to tell him to watch for staff who took ownership, who were willing to start things. Those were the ones to trust with more. It's about courage.

Which leads me to the real point. We have a little over three years left here. Suddenly, we begin to think about life after seminary. On Saturday, I asked Wendy what she saw next. Do we seek a wounded church looking for a senior pastor? Do we seek a small church ready to hire it's first pastor? Do we come on as an associate and wait patiently? Do we wait for a perfectly healthy church to look for a new pastor? Do we wait to be approached by someone seeking to plant? OR, do we start making plans now--initiating--to help plant or begin a new work....

It's a thought that haunts me. I struggle with the arrogance of those who begin churches by throwing off accountability. And yet, it is the repainting of the church that keeps it healthy and moving forward. And, if it can be birthed with the blessing of a parent church, then health can come quickly and humbly.

So, we begin a new set of questions and a new phase of life. Is there a particular region where we feel burden? Is there a particular group of people? Do we already have a vision and need to flesh it out? Are the leaders we would need already in our lives? When we came to Texas, we came with the vow that we would never again allow fear to keep us from following. My own sermon about Nehemiah 2 helped remind us of that, which is what God often does when we unfold the Word. We're starting to pray new prayers. We're ready to begin dreaming. We're not alone.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Beaver Bend

It was colder than we expected. It was more rustic than we expected. It was less kid-friendly than we expected. It was exactly what we needed. Wendy will put up some more pictures tomorrow and she may disagree in her assessment, but I believe the camping trip that we cut short was a wonderful beginning to a wonderful week.

My soul needed the walks in the dark and the outdoor cooking and the chance to walk around with a hunting knife again. My kids needed a family without computers and cell phones and a daddy who had time and could teach them things. Wendy needed a husband fully alive again. We speak often of the busyness that comes when seminary is in session, but it's only in weeks like that when we really appreciate just how difficult life had been.

A week of late mornings, laughing children, long delayed projects, a smiling Wendy and a focused Steve brings us up to date like a long unbalanced checkbook. Now we once again begin to make withdrawals and we pray that the lessons of last week stick. We pray that we not let the account sink so low before the deposits come.

It was one of the best weeks of my life.

Tuesdays 2:
1-The Nehemiah sermon is online. There is no PowerPoint--I used props on stage. It will be awhile before I tell the other part of the story.
2-My sister Patti was in town tonight and took us to dinner and then sat down at our house for a long and well cherished family catch-up session.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Woohoo! We're off for Beaver Bend after a long Sunday preaching. Someday, I might tell you the whole story, but for now, it was a Sunday to remember.... We should be down from the web for at least a week!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Prairie Creek

I went to Prairie Creek Park today (pretend it's still Tuesday).

I was up late last night and I sat and listened to Coldplay as I rebuilt Wendy's computer and broke down yet again over Robbie. On the way to a day retreat at Paul's house, I had extra time, so I turned down Custer Road.

I drove around the park and soon found a parking detent on the east side. As I walked down a dirt path, I was struck by the design of a tree with five or so trunks. I thought, "I know he would have liked this tree. I wonder if this is where he did it...."

I tried to call Judy Sarwin to complete my morbid obsession and ask her where he was. No answer, so I tried Josh Hebert. Josh lost his sister in December, followed by his job in Austin and now his engagement. He's hurting. He aches. It was a good time to call. By then, Judy had left a message so I tried again.

Judy doesn't see the park the same way. I want to bring my bike and take a picture of the tree and the bridges. She wants to avoid it. She doesn't walk there anymore. His degree of planning is difficult to process. It makes me question why he kept us away in Dallas. I know he felt like a burden, but I wonder if he was also minimizing the potential obstacles....

I was right about the tree.

We talked about Josh and his losses and the fruitless trail of regret. Judy has struggled with it herself but she's moving past it. I'm not sure Josh is able to do that yet. That's a prayer for him--there is no satisfying the "what ifs" and they will not end. They must not be entertained.

The park is lovely. I find it serene and peaceful and will return. I'm not sure why. I needed to land the unanswered questions. I needed to feel close to Rob. It didn't make me feel close to him. It made me angry. It made me feel defeat again. Someday I will go to Judy's and read the letters. Today it is enough to mourn. The tears will be back in a minute.

Monday, March 06, 2006


I finished Velvet Elvis last night. I've been told that Rob Bell rambles a bit and that his first book is understandably unpolished, but I disagree. Rob apparently designed his own print layout, with orange pages and subtitles for each movement; even the endnotes become part of the story. With that kind of attention to detail, it's silly to presume that the that the seeming lack of structure in any way rambles. Rather, his gentle narrative disarms. It engages your modern assumptions and your postmodern arrogance and then sells you a new view--a view of the church. A view of a battered and beautiful woman who has stood the test of 2000 years and continues on, even flourishing. And he brings you to tears in the process with truths that seem too good to be true and force you to the appendix to see if he can prove it. He says what needed saying and then he convicts you for your anger and your pride and your nearsightedness. It is a beautiful book. I hope to read it again. I hope he's at Catalyst.

I ordered five copies today to give away. GK, I'm sure you've read it, but if you haven't, then it's a must. I'd love to hear your thoughts and greatly miss the opportunity to do so regularly (maybe July).

For Lisa's List:
1-I've spent several days rebuilding Wendy's (new) hard drive. I've been enjoying it thoroughly!
2-I register for summer and fall classes on Wednesday and am nervous about how much I can take and how we'll pay for it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Two More

Ok--I'm starting to whine, but we're really wondering what God is up to (or is it the enemy?).

This morning, Madison got up sick (again) and then the hard drive crashed on Wendy's computer (as in, "computer no longer functions"). And, I haven't mentioned it, but Dad went into a wheelchair a couple of weeks ago from an injury, but it looks like he'll never leave it. A test last week said "degenrative bone disease" and that he has worsened. We looked at pictures and stuff this weekend--the change in him over the eight years Megan has been with us was startling.

BUT, I did have a GREAT lunch with Cody. Lesson learned: communication in print is tricky--you just don't understand until you can hear a person's tone and see his face. Then you can communicate.