Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Greatest Leaders

Going on my 12th year in ministry there has been a conviction developing deep within my soul. All my life I have been taught that success is defined but what you are able to purchase and acquire. Nice cars, Nice house, Nice clothes, all seem to define what the American Society defines as success. As of this last year I have witnessed the definition of success, and what it means to be a good leader drastically change in my opinon. A good leader does not sit back and observe their success, they do all they can so others can even become more successful. The greatest leaders in my eyes are those that mentor others to become greater. A great tragedy not only in American Society, but also in most churches is that the senior/lead pastor works so hard at developing their own success and managing the church agenda, that they leave their staff behind. This tragedy is found just about in every area of influence in American society. I have made a vow, that I am going to do all I possibly can to work with others so that they might become more successful than I ever could be. If they preach I want them to become a better communicator, if they lead a team of staff I want them to be a more effective leader than I am. When they are involved in community affairs, I want them to be known for caring more about the community than I ever did. Could you imagine the change that would take place in not only the land of the free but also across the globe if we did all we could to help others further their success?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sneak a Peek New Book Plastic Man

Hey guys for those of you that are faithful in reading my blog I wanted to post something special for you.
Here is the intro to The Plastic Man, Sheri's and my second book. . Let me know what you think!!!

The Plastic Man
As kids (and for some who never quite outgrow comic books), we are enthralled by superheroes: the Fantastic Four, the Justice League, Batman, and of course my favorite, Superman. As a boy, I loved the idea of having superpowers that could help me accomplish feats that no other human could accomplish. We all want to be heroes, especially boys. And we all want some quality or characteristic that makes us stand out and be special. And when reality fails, we love pretending I even tried some of them out with miserable consequences! But there is one forgotten superhero from whom we can learn a valuable lessons—not because he was so “super” but because his powers revealed one of our deepest and most vulnerable questions. If we could be anything at all, what would we be? On Saturday mornings, my mind reeled of all the coolest possibilities! To be or not to be… That really IS the question!
Plastic Man’s power was the ability to conform and contort his body into any object or shape imaginable. His “identity” and purpose was ever changing. he could be a chair, a lightpost, a drill, a ball, a massive skyscraper, the tiniest button, or another person. He could conform into any shape, any size, or any character. He could stretch, bend, twist, bounce and definitely make us laugh. His character has circulated the airwaves and comic book stands since 1941. Although Plastic Man was never a commercial hit, he became a favorite fun superhero in many comic books and even after his Saturday morning cartoon was cancelled, he remained a strong supporting character in the Justice League and Batman comics for years afterward. His name may not be on the tip of our tongue when we think of superheroes but at some time or other, most connoisseurs of comic book heroes have fantasized about stretching and contorting themselves to be any object …How great it would be to become an inconspicuous supposedly inanimate object when we were in trouble with Mom! But when we reflect on Plastic Man as an adult, we see that in all of his super abilities, we relate all too well with him. Regardless of his comedic superhero powers, he always retained a humanness that we often see in ourselves and all of a sudden, being “superhero” isn’t quite so appealing.
How often we become “plastic” men and women as we strive to be Christian—constantly conforming shape and character so that we mold ourselves into both worldly and worship cultures—the trends, perceptions, expectations—the easiest and most acceptable identity at this time in this circumstance. The difference is that the contortion of who or what we are in real life isn’t nearly so slapstick funny as it was in Plastic Man cartoons. In real life, we often try to change or conform whatever it takes to “fit” this time and this place until we get so confused that we don’t really know who we are anymore or what it truly means to be a Christ follower.
Like so many of us, Plastic Man had a sad beginning. He was born Patrick O’Brian and was later nicknamed “Eel.” Orphaned at ten years old, he spent time in an orphanage until he finally just took to the streets. The street “kid” soon became a street “punk” and had friends to match. So often we become the company we keep and O’Brian’s circle of outlaw friends soon led him into a life of crime as an adult. He became the safecracker in a gang of thieves. During a bumbled chemical plant burglary heist, O’Brien was shot in the shoulder and acid was dumped on him in the aftermath. His so-called friends abandoned their partner and left to escape alone—on foot, wounded, and reeking of chemical poisons. He made it outside the city into the neighboring mountain wilderness where he finally passed out due to his gunshot and chemical exposure.
He woke up in a monastery cleaned, bandaged and cared for by an elderly monk who saw only a wounded man in need of grace. The old man believed so much in O’Brian’s redemption, that he turned away pursuing police and gave him asylum during his convalescence. The recovering thief soon discovered that the chemicals had mixed in his bloodstream and basically had turned his body into silly putty. He had turned into a virtually indestructible rubber-like plastic. He could slip under a door, pick conventional locks with his fingers, and even disguise himself by contorting his body into ordinary objects and shapes. Just imagine how easily and skillfully he could steal with these new abilities! Forget the gang—he wouldn’t need anyone else to pull off a heist!
Yet this old monk saw something In O’Brian that had been long forgotten—goodness. For the first time in his life, someone believed in O’Brian and offered him a second chance. He realized that his newfound abilities could also be used to give to other people rather than take from them. The would-be thief now had a choice--one that at some point all of us have to make for ourselves. He had to choose whether to use his gifts and abilities for good or for evil.
We begin to wonder about that same goodness in ourselves the very first time we realize how deeply Christ loves us. He sees something good in us too, no matter what we’ve done in our past. And we want to live up to His hopeful perception! As he had always done, O’Brian’s self-concept molded itself into his current perceptions and expectations—this time for the good. He wanted to be good—to redeem his past acts of injustice by fighting crime. The wanted criminal became the crimefighter. Plastic Man unleashed, using any antic or contortion to capture and humiliate the worst of crooks.
Like Plastic Man, many of us journey through life conforming and distorting our own identities into the image of someone else or something else rather than the person God has uniquely and divinely called us to be. We want to fit into the perfect box as the world perceives it. At the end of each crime-fighting day, I wonder if Plastic Man/Patrick O’Brian looked at himself in the mirror and wondered just who he really was. As Plastic Man, he conformed his face so that he wouldn’t be recognized—he was, after all, still a wanted criminal as Patrick O’Brian. He put on a cool red and yellow speedo costume and voila! He was Plastic Man, the crime-fighting ball of silly putty. In his act of doing good, he be a chair, a weapon, a car, a giant fist, any number of different things—but he could not be Patrick O’Brian. As Patrick O’Brian, he maintained his connections with the underworld disguised in his own face as a real criminal so that he could gain information against other criminals. But even then, he wasn’t a redeemed man. He remained haunted by his past no matter how many good deeds he had done. On the outside he had numerous shapes and faces, but somewhere on the inside was that young vulnerable orphaned boy who had no one to love him or to know him. Sad, isn’t it? He could mimic a villain or a superhero as he conformed to the demands and perceptions of each character but he couldn’t just be Patrick O’Brian, a lost man full of goodness but in need of grace.
Sound familiar? Maybe like many Christians we know—maybe even the one we see in the mirror at the end of each day. We stretch, contort, and distort ourselves to meet every need so that we can redeem our own sins. We do all that we can possibly do to conform to society’s perceptions and demands. Through magazines, television shows, and self-help books, we gather a preconceived notion of what we should look like, talk like, and act like. If I look like a duck, quack like a duck, and act like a duck, I must be a duck…Right? But no matter what I do, I still can’t be a duck! Oh, but we don’t give up even when that reality sets in! We keep changing and conforming our image by living beyond our means—our finances, our physical talents and abilities, and even beyond our time.
As Christians, we often do the same thing in the church. We conform ourselves into the mold of what we think or other people think we should be as Christians. We follow the 10 commandments—at least most of them most of the time. We wear the right clothes and listen to the right music. and pray before meals and bedtime and read our Bible each day. We memorize a bunch of Scriptures and use all the right “Christian” language. So if we look like a Christian, talk like a Christian, and “act” like a Christian, surely we ARE a Christian! Yet there’s still this unsettling empty feeling. Something is still missing. At the end of the day when we are all alone with ourselves, we know that there must be more to this “Christian” life than we bargained.
We’ve stretched and distorted everything else but we don’t dare stretch beyond what we can see or know or even conceive. We’ll stretch so far but when we get beyond our limits or out of our comfort zones, we change and conform again. We are constantly changing on the outside but nothing is really changing on the inside. We are still trying to earn our redemption and it can’t be earned. Our changes are unreal and temporary--we are still “criminals” in our hearts ad minds. Even in his most creative form, Plastic man never changed his colors. Even his clothes conformed to his plastic self. If he was a door, he was a yellow, red, black, white, and pink chair. Why? Because as hard as he tried, he couldn’t truly be a chair. He was a superhero but still just a quirky, bendy freak of nature with a pink face in a red, yellow, black, and white plastic costume . Like Plastic Man, we find ourselves leading more than one life, each according to the expectations of the circle we are in at the moment yet some part of us never changes. We keep our colors. Conforming our outside to the perceptions and expectations that face us won’t last.
That genuine and lasting faith—that sense of who we are by God’s divine design—is found only in the deepest parts of our hearts. It remains unstretched, untouched, unchallenged and unrealized in a vast array of hues and brand new unimagined possibilities that the world can’t perceive or even conceive. We are not reformed by our own super-stretching power but by faith, we are miraculously re-formed by the power of God’s grace as the Holy Spirit works within us and changes us from the inside out.
To BE truly Christian, it takes commitment to let God bend us and mold us rather than doing it ourselves. To be totally and permanently change, we must let Him stretch us beyond any imagination. And by grace, we are transformed—inside and out--into a completely new and beautiful creation divinely made in His unique and inimitable design. No longer a cheap imitation but the genuine article. The old is forever gone and the new has come.
As you turn the pages, we challenge you to make the commitment to live and to be stretched beyond average—beyond the stagnant norm, even by superhero standards! Allow God to mold you and shape you into who HE creates you to be rather than conforming yourself to some mundane plastic superhero wannabe. Rather than conforming to the world with the same old person inside, we pray that our Creator, the Lord Himself, will transform you into a whole new being!

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:1-2 The Message

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Signing

Hey guys I was asked to be a part of the West Texas Book and Music Festival. I will be at the Abilene Civic Center on Sept 26th from 9:00-3:00 along with other authors and publishers who represent a variety of genres. Their works include western novels, sports stories, religious works, humorous books, and romance stories.

Hall of Texas Authors Authors, publishers & booksellers displaying, selling, & signing books
Saturday- Sept. 26 9:00 - 3:00
Abilene Civic Center

Monday, September 14, 2009


As I travel both due to profession and leisure, there is one thing that drives me insane. I hate when my flight is delayed. I hate having to stay at the airport longer than the normal allotted time that is demanded before departure. All too often in life I have my found myself sitting in various waiting rooms anticipating answers. Airports, Doctor's offices, locker rooms, just to name a few have encompassed me during my times of waiting. In my impatience I quickly become agitated, and find my flesh attempting to convince me to give up. Even as I write this blog I found myself once again waiting, waiting for answers. In reality after I confront my pride, I honestly believe at times that is exactly where God wants you and I to be. Waiting. In the midst of the crazyiness of life's demands, I rarely find myself pausing to be still and listen. Scripture reads in Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God," An open confession of my life is that incredibly too often, I have chased after knowing God instead of pausing to be still, and knowing that He is God.

Live to Love,

Sunday, September 13, 2009


In today's society we are constantly exposed to what success looks like in the mainstream. Nice cars, fancy home, stellar clothes, popularity all help define what the world's success looks like. Throughout my life I have been one in hot pursuit of the material. In middle school, it was not uncommon for me to constantly bug my parents about getting the latest air Jordan's. In my mind I thought if I could get a pair of Air Jordans I could be just like Michael Jordan. One morning reality began to set in deeply. My mom handed me a box that contained a pair of bright white shiny new Jordans. Moments before my middle basketball tryout I laced my new Jordans and hit the court. MUCH to my dismay, I quickly realized I wasnt Mike when my name was called out to be on the B team. On that day I realized that my idea of success was incredibly tainted. Throughout my living years I have learned to view success a little differently. I now view success as a person willing to take a great amount of risk to make this world better than they found it...I think Theodore Roosevelt sums it up best when he said
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Uncle Sam

Yesterday, I received a phone call informing me that Ash's Uncle, Sam was fading fast due to his battle with cancer. I was able to pray with him over the phone as he rested in his hospice hospital bed. A few hours later I received another call stating that Uncle Sam had departed from this world to meet his Maker. Uncle Sam, I guess its been about 6 years since I first met him. There are so many incredible qualities about him. I loved going to visit his home because, man he was an awesome cook. More than his cooking there was something deeper instilled in him that connected us in a unique way. Uncle Sam, was an inner city high school teacher in Houston, Texas. His passion for the underprivileged and outcast was convicting yet inspiring to me. Our passions were and remain very similar, to show the underprivileged and outcast that they do have hope, and they can become all that God wants them to be, if only they would make the effort to keep striving regardless of their circumstance. This week I have the amazing honor of leading Uncle Sam's celebration. Though it will be difficult, it will bring joy to my soul to help honor his life.....
So here's to you my friend, Uncle Sam, thank you for the memories, thanks for the conversations about the inner city, but most of all thank you for inspiring children to dream. There are countless lives that are changed because you were willing to walk by their side.

Live to Love.