Are YOUR FEET BEAUTIFUL?

When I was in High School, something happened. At some point in my many High School adventures I slashed my left foot, right between the big toe and the second toe.  At the time, it must not have been major, because I don’t really remember what I did and didn’t even apply any medication to it.  I just left it to heal on it’s own.  Needless to say, this place on my foot eventually developed into a cyst that looked like I was creating my own little skin foothill to say the least.  Days turned to months, months turned into years, and I learned to live with this little bump on my left foot, but NEVER liked to show it off.  The great thing about socks and shoes in our society is that I didn’t have to really worry about anything until summer time rolled around.  Oh yea… Summer!  You know the time where you go barefoot and wear your flip flops or chacos or sandals and SHOW OFF YOUR FEET.  You get the picture.  I didn’t think my feet were up to par and really never thought my feet could ever be BEAUTIFUL.  (Hey, I’m a guy, so don’t just tell me to go get a pedicure and be done, girls.  I am sure that if I did consider something like a pedicure, that the lady person would have taken one look at my feet and bursted out in some sort of horrible scream, like the wicked witch of the East did in the Wizard of Oz.)

In a world of feet and stinkiness, I realize that maybe there are some of you out there with me.  You don’t like your feet.  They stink.  They are ugly in some way, and most of all, they CANNOT be BEAUTIFUL.  Lets face it, if there were some chart out there on the interwebs, the value for feet in this world would probably be really low compared to the value for, let’s just say, your eyes.

In conclusion, I realized that my feet were not beautiful and many others did not really have a high value for feet as well.

This is a problem.  When Paul starts talking in Romans about feet.  He uses the word beautiful in the same sentence as feet.  So when he talks all about feet, I naturally reject whatever he is about to say.  It’s like I just skim over Romans 10:15 and get to the next part.

HOWEVER,  all my life, I have been missing something that Paul has been saying about the whole foot thing.

Here is what he says…

And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Romans 10:15 ESV


I had to get over the foot stuff and really look deeper into what Paul was saying.  He was pointing out something that makes total sense, to put BEAUTIFUL and FEET in the same sentence.

You see, wayyyyyy back in the day, When armies went to battle, those who remained at home waited anxiously to hear of the outcome, because often their destiny was tied to the success or failure of the armies. But they didn’t have telecommunication systems that could rush news instantly from the battlefront back to the local community. So messages were carried by runners.

Here is the main point – It’s not about FEET it’s about GOOD NEWS

IN FACT, in the ancient world it was customary, in some places, that if the messenger brought bad news, he was punished with death. If it was bad news, then, he would be burdened by the news that he was carrying, and fearful of what treatment he might expect. As each city posted lookouts to watch the approaching runners, it became almost a science whereby the lookout could determine whether the messenger was bringing good news or bad news, just by his feet.

To go deeper into history and the intentionality of Paul, there was the legend of Pheidippides.  (Yell out that name and see what reaction you get!!!) This was a soldier that ran from the battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C.  He ran so fast and so hard that as he delivered the momentous message “Niki!” (“victory”), he collapsed on the spot and died.  You might have guessed, that this why we use the word “Marathon” for that long run thing people do.  In fact, Pheidippides was honored by a 24.85 mile run from Marathon Bridge to Olympic Stadium in Athens during the first modern Olympic games held in 1896 in Greece.

Like Pheidippides, if the messenger was bringing good news of victory, his feet would be flying and he would be kicking up a lot of dust. There would be an exuberance and an enthusiasm in his running form, as he approached the walls of the city. Hence the phrase, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

You See, It’s not about FEET it’s about GOOD NEWS

So when you are grossed out by stinky feet or huge cysts growing on them, remember that Beautiful Feet are ones of Victory. Oh, and by the way, I eventually got a wife, and told her about the cyst, and she made me better by taking me to the skin Dr. and getting it removed on the operation table in the office, as my two young kids ate their Cheerios and watched their Daddy wrench in pain.  I love my wife!

How about you right now? Do you  have Victorious or Defeated feet when it comes to your walk with Jesus?

 

Wherever your feet go, do they gladly bring the Good News of Jesus Christ?

OR do they bring other news and drag behind you?

 

How can your pursuit of Christ be like Pheidippides?

 

Do you want to go run a Marathon now?  (Me Neither)

How do you prepare for the storm?

Alert!!! Alert!!! The storm is coming!

harvey-1-rt-er-170825_12x5_992In the midst of Hurricane Harvey, we rush to fill up our cars with fuel, we rush to fill up our grocery baskets with dry goods, and we rush to batten down the hatches as winds rage and rains fall.

In the midst of all this rushing around, I was brought back to the imagery that Jesus portrayed in Matthew chapter 7.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Matthew 7:24‭-‬27 ESV

How can we THINK TWICE about all this chaos to prepare for the storm?

The truth is that the rushing winds, the falling rains, and the flood waters impact us all, the wise and the foolish.

However, the wise have been practicing Godly Wisdom, building on the foundation of the words of Jesus, and taking those truths into their daily lives.

We have already seen devestation as the eye of the storm has navigated from the coast to the southern Texas region. Those who decided to prepare a firm foundation still take a hit, but remain useful and even a shelter for others that were pummeled by the storm.

Father, help us to see your vision and walk in your wisdom, so that when the storms come, we can be a witness and shelter to others for your Glory.

 

#becausehelivesican Make It Personal

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So I was driving the kids to school today and had a great time with the change of my morning routine.  It was a great time to practice what I believe and turn a change of routine into something relationally impactful, since the kids usually track with Mommy most of the time.  We were playing fun music and on time, which is another personal time management best :).  On the way, I took the circle downtown, and in the midst of the change, my autopilot self took the wheel and I took the wrong direction as if I were heading to Oakwood. When my real mind took charge, I said, “Oh No!” really loud.  Then we turned it into a fun game… guess what Dad forgot this time.  Katie was the quickest and realized we were on a little different track, and Noah shortly followed as he saw the ducks at the park.  No worries, we made a small adjustment and headed to school, thankfully making it on time.  Score one for Dad, even with the small adventure.

My thought was, how does this relate to our celebration this Easter Weekend?  Do I tell myself to seize the moment and then go into autopilot instead?  So many times, we can intentionally seize the moment and yet, our routine nature gets the best of us.  Holidays are great for the very fact that they have a sense of tradition mixed with family memories all in one moment.  I think that is the same for Easter every year.  We need the tradition of remembering and celebration of the resurrection that Easter brings, but there is also this internal fight to keep the heart in check.  The ole self check up with Jesus is good around this time.  It’s kind of like this…  “Hey Jesus, since you are resurrected again, are we cool?”  Why the internal struggle anyway? It think it is because when we truly follow Christ, he makes it personal.  This religious tradition that the world sees millions to billions of Christians participate in and flesh out in various denominations is actually an expression of a Holy God not giving up on the relationship that he started with Humanity at the beginning of creation.

That’s why I have personally been compelled to focus on Galatians 2:20 for the past few weeks.

“20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  “

Paul saw this same struggle with tradition and relationship on his own personal journey.  Being a man brought up in the tradition of Jewish Law, he was in the Passover routine every Easter.  He also had the Spiritual Wisdom to understand that most people struggled with this very tension.  That is why the axis of Galatians, and possibly Paul’s life mantra had to be more than routine.  He had to personally be crucified with Christ and then find out what true resurrection living was all about.  Because Christ lives, we can live in the same power by faith.  We can look back on this journey to the Cross and say that HE LOVED ME.  We can call this Friday “good”  because HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME.
When we make the Easter Holiday personal, we can easily fill in the blank with this phrase:


BECAUSE HE LIVES I CAN ___________________________.  

Where do you need to be crucified with Christ?  How do you need to sense the love of Jesus this Easter?  How does it feel to remember that Jesus gave himself for YOU, personally.  Your sin, your quirks, your talents, your wrong turns, your personal human nature.

 Lets practice the presence of Christ this Easter Holiday by making it personal in the midst of the egg hunts, television specials, family fun, and time off.  By making it personal, we might find the joy of denying ourselves and truly living in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Walk MS: San Antonio, Sat March 7 @ 9am

Walk MS: San Antonio – National MS Society.

MSWalkMarch1.2014

Laura was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis August of 2013, and I found that we had to make some drastic personal changes to battle the disease as a family.  Our family was shocked to learn about Ebby Isbill and her diagnosis this past December 2014.  Through this experience, we have seen God’s hand in different ways, met new people that need His love, and learned way more about auto-immune disease and nervous system details than we have ever imagined.  The MS walk is a great place to unite with our friends, bring awareness to Multiple Sclerosis, and link arms with Laura, Ebby and Caroline as they tackle this disease in their daily lives.

If you are led to team up with us for the MS walk, click on the link below!

Join Faith NB3 Team! 

Laredo Family Mission Trip

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We had a great weekend on the Family Mission Trip to Laredo as we Intentionally Engaged the Las Lomas Colonia with Pastor Mario Garcia.

The Vaquero Church Plant is well on it’s way.  Just 18 miles East of Laredo, we discovered 1000 households needing the love of Jesus Christ.  This country-like area is 30 miles from the border.  The roads leading to the location are dirt roads, and it is not uncommon to see Vaquero Peoples riding a horse down the way.  If you are in the area on Saturday afternoon, you might even witness a PARADE of Vaqueros following a truck cranking out Tejano Music.  These people need the love of Jesus and Mario Garcia is starting a strong church basing from a Men’s Bible Study held out at a ranch in the area.

Cabrito means GOAT!
Cabrito Means Goat!

We met this Bible Study group and shared Cabritos with them!  The guys meeting on Friday for Bible Study and an occasional cookout are then invited with their families to the Vaquero Church Sunday afternoon.

LaredoFamilyMissionTripJune2014
Family Mission Trip June 2014

Oakwood families set out on the journey Thursday night for a 3 hour trip to Laredo.  We spent Friday and Saturday painting the interior of the Worship Center, updating a shower, throwing a block party/carnival, cleaning the inside and outside, and decorating the place with a Vaquero Church theme.  We also had time to add walls inside a house of one of the Vaquero Church members that is being trained for ministry.

We came with Galatians 5 on our minds and hearts.  As we are looking at the FREEDOM we have this July in the great country of America, we realize there is a GREATER FREEDOM in CHRIST.

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Easter – Journey to the Cross

 

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Easter Services 5 & 6:30pm Saturday, 8, 9:15, & 10:45am Sunday.  No Fusion 9:15am Bible Study.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;  and the  Lord  has laid on him the iniquity of us all.. Isaiah 53:6

This verse was read to me as a VERY YOUNG CHILD by my mother.  She had an ABC’s Children’s book that took each letter of the alphabet and tied in a scripture.  “A” began with “ALL WE..” and the rest of the scripture followed.  As we journey to the Cross again this Easter Season, I have come back to remember the beginning of my personal relationship with Jesus.  Simply asking the question, “What is sin?” and talking about what Jesus did for us on the Cross led my mother and I to a little brown, mushroom stool where I knelt down and asked Jesus into my heart.  Now, 30 years later, I come back to the beginning again, and remember the powerful journey to the cross that Jesus took in order to take a sheep, like me and like you, that has gone astray.  He not only found me, but he saved me from the one who would like to steal, kill, and destroy my life.  He promised me abundant life when he took my iniquity, my sins, and fully paid for the world.  He is the GOOD SHEPHERD that laid down His life for us.  He KNOWS His sheep and His sheep KNOW Him.  On top of all that, that powerful sacrifice of the GOOD SHEPHERD is trumped by the powerful authority that He has to take His life up again.  The only one that has the authority to lay down a life and take it up again is Jesus Christ.  He is all about raising dead things to life.  I am thankful this season for what Jesus did for me.  I am also reminded about the powerful NEW LIFE we have in Christ.

Do you feel like you have gone astray?  Do you feel like your life is moving toward dead things?  Is there something that you need to give to Jesus, so that, in His authority, He can bring NEW LIFE?  As we Journey to the Cross this week, remember the powerful work Jesus has done in your life.  Remember that He is GOOD.  He wants us to have ABUNDANT LIFE, and where there is evidence of sickness, pain,  a broken relationship, or destructive behavior, there is a GOOD SHEPHERD ready to move us from our OWN WAY and lead us to THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE.

 

FUSION IE Series

Fusion Logo brite13IEseries

Fusion Oakwood Middle School has been tracking with the Church during the IE series.  Beginning in the Kickstart Room last week, we had the opportunity to worship with Travis Kiers and the new High School Worship Ministry Team.  It is amazing seeing High School Students INVEST in Middle School students in a positive way.  Our challenge to the students regarding INTERCEDE was to break up in School groups, write names of friends that need to hear about Jesus, and pray for them specifically.

Colossians 1 was our guide in prayer last week:

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

What if we spent time each day, specifically INTERCEDING with that? 

My prayer is that this generation gains knowledge of God’s will, wisdom beyond their years, learns to please God and bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.  I also pray that students begin to strategically build relational bridges in order to bear the weight of the Gospel of Jesus.  Our teenagers have so much INFLUENCE at this time in their life for the Kingdom of God.  INTERCEDE with me for this generation!

MS is AWKWARD #MSAWARENESS

This is MS awareness month.  Although I am THE HUSBAND and do not physically struggle with MS, I have found that navigating these new waters of the Multiple Sclerosis disease has been a little AWKWARD.   I recognize AWKWARDNESS easily because my occupation as the Middle School Pastor at Oakwood Church in New Braunfels, TX unleashes many moments of AWKWARDNESS in my daily life.  (That is a completely different subject in itself)  However, this AWKWARDNESS is on a whole new playing field for our family.

WHAT IS MS?

MSWalkMarch1.2014Changes ARE AWKWARD – How are you doing on those New Year’s Resolutions?  If you feel like a failure, don’t worry, ANY CHANGE IS AWKWARD.  Imagine having to stick to those resolutions in order to survive!  That’s Intense!  One term we have discovered on this new journey in life is “New NORMAL.” In order to have a good quality of life, we have to insert the “new normal” phrase into the routine now.  In the first year of the onset of this disease Laura is daily taking four to five medications that include daily shots of Copaxone.  It is awkward enough to have to take meds for a sickness that ends up going away.  (Imagine having to commit to a daily regimen that doesn’t go away and has many side effects.)  She is committed to a Gluten Free Diet by a Dr. Ordered Wholistic Approach.  Fatigue gives way to daily, spontaneous bouts with energy and crashing in the midst of our daily routine (with two kids I might add!).  With new diet comes new groceries and an overwhelming feeling at HEB for Laura (so guess who goes to the grocery store now…do you see the guy in the picture above?  Do I look like I am an ALL NATURAL GLUTEN FREE DIET LOVER?).  Many big and small changes to our daily lives can be VERY AWKWARD.

 The Subject of MS is AWKWARD – DebbieDownerDebbie Downer seems to find the perfect moments at parties to put just enough of a spin on life to kill the life of the party.  This Silent Disease is something that we deal with, battle weird side effects, and hash out as a family on a daily basis, but don’t really want to bring up all the time and be that Debbie Downer.  We know that the SUBJECT IS AWKWARD.  We also realize that God allowed this to happen at a time that could be the BEST TIME to find a cure.  One of the first thoughts relayed to us during the diagnosis was that 20 years ago would have been way different than today in terms of Medical Advances.  The subject of a Disease without a cure, but not as detrimental or even broadcasted as much as cancer and other life altering diseases can be tough to explain.  We get the “oh, you’re not going to die, so you will be okay” statement and feel dismissed.  The fact that we must realize is that this AWKWARD SUBJECT that we live with now is still a FAMILY CRISIS and STRUGGLE as we move to a “New Normal.”  We need our friends and family to talk and encourage us, now more than ever.  (So, who wants to hear about some new Nervous System terms I have learned lately?…)

Misunderstandings in the MS GAME are AWKWARD –  Living out the AWKWARD CHANGES and talking about the AWKWARD SUBJECT leads to AWKWARD MISUNDERSTANDINGS.  Many things are happening on the inside and it is hard to translate it all in a five minute or cordial 30 second conversation.

For Example:

Person 1: “Hey, you really sound like a health nut.”

Laura wants to say:  “I have MS and I am committed to a wholistic approach to battling the demyelination of the outer sheath of my Spinal Cord.  If I don’t eat right, my nervous system gets all out of whack and I feel tingling and sometimes burning on the inside.”

Laura really says: “I am on a strict diet”

Person 2: “Man, you slept through the whole dinner!”

Laura wants to say: “I have MS and my immune system is working overtime because it is fighting it’s own body and now fighting tons of drugs I just put in me today, so on top of my normal work stress, normal sickness and allergies, family kid stress and periodic husband stress, my body is naturally crashing in order to keep me alive.”

Laura really says:  “I am just really tired from the day.”

Person 3: “Wow, you look great.”

Laura wants to say: “I know I do!” Then she wants to say, “Since the diagnosis of MS, I have been on medications that don’t make me feel very well.  I have been nauseated most nights and early mornings, then I have to eat new foods with this Gluten Free diet. Sometimes I go to events that don’t offer the foods I need, so I don’t eat at my normal time and then feel sick to my stomach and miss a meal.”

Laura really says: “Thank You” (with a smile.)

Needless to say, that is just the surface of the awkwardness of misunderstandings.  In the struggle and vocalization of MS, others might MISUNDERSTAND that we are super grateful for where God has placed us.  We are in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas.  We have two amazing kids.  We get to have our parents living nearby.  On top of all that, we see Jesus do amazing things in our community through the people at Oakwood Church, and we have felt that love on a whole new level since August.

Here is something that I have written in my digital journal about how my personal faith mixes with this personal family crisis.

Personal Faith:

I believe God is Healer.  His creation of mankind is GOOD.  All disease and other physical ailments come from the direct or indirect effects of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.  Sin separates us from God, intervenes with the Good Creation, and ultimately reminds us that we are not yet living in the New Heavens and New Earth.

With that FAITH, I believe:

  1. God in His infinite power can heal Laura instantly if He chooses to.

  2. God will use this disease to grow Laura’s faith and mine as well (not to mention our family and extended family)

  3. God can also heal, redeem, and refine on a longer than “instant” timescale.

  4. I must TRUST in God, no matter what, and seek His Wisdom and understanding in this personal struggle as a Child of God, Husband, Father, and Ministry Leader.

If anyone would like to KNOW how I KNOW JESUS and talk about that amazing Journey as well, I am always willing to have a conversation.