Archive for April, 2014


April 24, 2014 4 comments

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12, NASB).

“Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims” (1 Corinthians 6:12, MSG).

“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, NASB).

“Looking at it one way, you could say, ‘Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.’ But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, MSG).

drivingI grew up watching my mom drive. She has her own technique. My grandfather was a used car dealer, so she learned to drive very young. I think she had her license by the time she was 14 years old—fairly common back in the ‘50s. I’m sure a lot of her technique had to do with self-preservation.

Before disc brakes, power steering, voice commands, and GPS, you had to actually read a map for directions and other crazy-ass things like that. Cooling down the car meant rolling down the windows, and the flat space behind the back seat was a legitimate place for a kid to take a nap. Things have changed.

Driving was a bit of a physical workout. It probably did take two feet on the brakes to slow some of those monstrosities back then. So that is my mom’s technique: her left foot rode on the brake and her right foot operated the gas pedal. She still does this 60 plus years later!

Honestly, I started driving very early as well. Years before I ever took Drivers Ed, my grandfather had already entrusted me with legitimate driving responsibilities. On more than one occasion, he and I rode the train from McGregor to Cleburne, where he purchased two used cars. He drove one home, and I drove the other one. Not only was it a 75-mile trip, but I was only 12 years old!

As I got older, I grew to enjoy the gas pedal much more than the brakes. My dad said, “Son, another ticket and they’re going to take your license.” Bummer. My need for speed drove him nuts.

Have you ever noticed how important the gas pedal is to a car? I know it’s kind of a silly question, but without a gas pedal it kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a car. Without the gas pedal, there’s no motion. Granted, you have to steer and maneuver, but nothing is gained without some speed. And you have to actually come to grips with the fact that there is a whole lot of power at your disposal.

Which is exactly why we also need brakes. Neither one is more important than the other. They’re both necessary for safe operation. If all we ever do is stomp on the gas, it’s eventually going to create problems. If our tendency is to hit the brakes all the time, we’re not going to get anywhere. That, my friends, is not driving. There has to be a healthy balance between the two for the overall ride to be successful.

The Apostle Paul’s declaration of “All things are permissible” appears to either carry a lot of weight with church folk today, or none at all. Those of us who grew up in rigid religious environments probably have a tendency to put ALL of the emphasis on “but, not all things are profitable.” To these people, it’s all about putting on the brakes… slowing it down… taking care… getting it right. These few little verses are tightly jammed inside of a whole juicy burrito of scary verbiage. I can see why those of us who are consumed with keeping the rules might skip over the “All things are permissible” part. I get it.

But this set of instructions and directives are tethered to an incredible thought:  Grace IS pretty dang amazing.  In fact, it’s not grace if it’s not amazing.  Most things that are supernatural are amazing… or should be.

People are granted permission to live and make choices (even really bad ones) because of His grace. Take a look out there. It’s happening everywhere! People are pressing on the gas pedal and moving all over the place in all kinds of vehicles.

It defeats the entire progress of the kingdom’s traffic when we see it as our job to castigate and alienate everyone we think is “not getting it right.” Frankly, you can start with me if you think your spiritual job is to find and expose the sin in this world. I’m an easy target. But try to remember that I, too, am righteous because of what Christ did, not because of what I’ve done or how I live. HE did the grace part, not me.  That is why it’s amazing.

Like it or not, our cars have a gas pedal, and it’s a really good thing as far as cars go. And I’m absolutely convinced that brakes are also an extremely good thing—even for those of us who have a low tolerance for any kind of speed regulation whatsoever.

Drive friendly, people. It can be dangerous out there. But, wow! There’s so much to see and enjoy!


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a gospel of righteousness

April 17, 2014 2 comments

chapmanAs Jed Clampett would say… “Whew dawgy!”

Our good friend Anthony Chapman, from Rock Church UK – York England has done it again!  Another message that begs our attention!  Please find a way to squeeze this in before you go to celebrate Easter services this weekend.  What a message!  It’s entitled:  THE TRUE GOSPEL:  A gospel of righteousness.  That alone begs a questions:  Is there another Gospel that the church is adhering to?  You might be surprised at the answer!

It’s a killer message.  Worth every second of your time!

Click HERE for:  THE TRUE GOSPEl:  A gospel of righteousness.

It may take a minute to load depending on your connection speed.  Be patient.  ; )

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the motherload

April 10, 2014 2 comments
WesleyIn the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate-Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans.  About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed.  I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation:  And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.  —John Wesley


What kind of stuff do you put in your journal?  What do you mean you don’t journal?  Really?  I’m not sure everyone will get this, but part of the activation process of prophetic unction can happen while writing in your journal.  Although private, it is a declaration.  Not all of us are chair climbers or bed jumpers when it comes to declarations.  But to expend the energy to write it down definitely requires the cooperation of your mind and will.  It’s a great place to speak truth and dispel the lies that can so easily entangle us.

Dr. Bob Nichols said recently of journal work, “It’s a great tool for us to… go there – to process the stuff that’s on the inside of you. Most of us work hard to forget things, to bury it. Because it’s buried doesn’t mean you’ve processed it. Just because you forgave that person doesn’t mean that you processed it. It’s a misnomer. You can still have major pain even though you forgave. Forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. You can totally forgive them, but no longer trust them.  Journaling is more important than we think.”

It can also be a great opportunity to be naked, real—forthright.  MOST of us spend a great deal of energy covering up instead of stripping down.  Good Lord, if you can’t be honest with others, at least be honest with yourself!  Yes, it counts in the realms of an unglorious colloquy with naked self.

“I felt my heart strangely warmed” – John Wesley

This featured journal entry by John Wesley is so beautiful, simple, undeniably powerful—it’s the motherload.  It’s got all the juicy pieces of what we evangelicals would call “conversion.” Here are a few of my obviously simple thoughts about John Wesley’s entry.

First, there is this most wonderfully phrased passage about what happened when God moved on Wesley’s heart.  “Strangely warmed.”  What is there to be threatened of in those two words?  It’s a succulent image.  Notice that Wesley noticed what it felt like to him. He didn’t describe what preceded the “warming.”  There is no formula here. I doubt the father of Methodism suspected we’d be peeking into his private journal, or he might have been tempted to spell out the method for this “warming.” I know I would have. Remember, we want reality. Mystery doesn’t sit well in our spirituality.

Second, he linked it to trust and faith in the notion that salvation comes through Christ alone.  That’s a monster-huge discussion right there. I doubt most of us catch the real magnitude of Wesley’s words.  I’m not saying that I get it all, but I’m willing to make a wild guess that most of the church is very settled only in what it’s been taught.  BUT, not everyone has been taught the same things.  So, there’s a lot of wiggle room in the Body about what “through Christ alone” could all possibly mean.  How wide ARE those implications? Of course, what YOU’VE been taught is absolutely correct and whoever differs is absolutely wrong, right? Ha! Sorry, I’m messing with you, so let’s move on.

Without drawing a big ol’ line in the sand for who’s right and who’s wrong here, can we agree that the Father made a way for us to know how much He loves us?  Some of us realize it, and too many don’t. Is there any chance of a slim margin of agreement here among us?

Third (which is my personal favorite), Wesley mentions, “an assurance was given me.”  To me, this is indeed an important part of the motherload implications.  That assurance (and it is a real thing) should birth His humility inside of us, rather than mean-spirited certitudes and haughty religious absolutes.  If I’m not mistaken, that “assurance” is the presence of Father God, the Holy Spirit, and the residing Spirit of Christ.  There is nothing ugly or over-bearing that comes off those Persons.  Wesley received their divine grace.  He didn’t demand a template for that assurance.  It just landed softly, almost as gently as a dove.

“True grace is shocking, scandalous.”  – Philip Yancey

And lastly, he saw the atonement for some of what it was and how it applied to himself. Even though Wesley’s words are genuinely simple here, the idea that he’s articulating is not. Grace and forgiveness can’t really be contained, can they? There is always more than we need. How can we ever really get our minds around a supernatural ripple that is still expanding?

I love Philip Yancey’s brilliant statement in his book: What Is So Amazing About Grace? He says, “True grace is shocking, scandalous.” And so it is. Particularly when it comes to the wounded hearts of broken people. He also wrote, “Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part.” And thank God for that! We’ve all had our “lowest parts.” Some of us have paid dearly for them too. Which is usually when we find out how amazing grace really is.

Today, I’m grateful for Wesley’s discipline to record his thoughts. I’m deeply touched. Hope the motherload sits on you too.


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blessed be the name of the lord

April 3, 2014 42 comments

IMG_3854What you’re looking at here is the demolished cupcake of Gracie, our 19-month-old granddaughter (our fourth of four grandchildren). Pretty, huh?

My eldest daughter, Nicole, and her husband, Steve, hosted our family this past weekend for a “gender reveal” party. Seems to be the fashionable rage these days. Actually, it’s very cool. Everyone gets an official guess of the baby’s gender, and then at some point during the party, a blue or pink item is introduced to reveal the sex of the baby.

I’ve heard of a few fun ways to do this, but my tribe rolls with food. So Gracie got the first cupcake. Her job was to smash open her massive chocolate sugarbomb (a beautiful JenDen creation), thus revealing the color of the frosting on the inside.

So picture our grandbaby, too young to understand the magnitude of her role, carefully examining her treat. IT TOOK FOREVER! Her mom had to keep scraping off icing until Gracie finally poked her finger inside the cupcake to reveal the bright PINK filling. Everyone screamed with joy! Poor Gracie exploded into hysterical tears!   It was sensory overload! The combination of her busted cupcake and the family cheering in celebration was just too much for her. The poor girl completely lost it on us. Not sure I blame her.

Here is the video if you got a minute: 

As we were passing out all of the congratulatory kisses, I suddenly heard my 35-year-old voice in the spirit, or in a vision, or maybe it was just one of those strong memories that resurfaces like an air-thirsty whale. As I looked at Nicole, she was suddenly 12 years old again.   She’d just asked me to pray for her. Her monthly cycles were brutal for such a young girl.   After I prayed for her discomfort, I told her, “That just means you’ll have fat, juicy babies.” Don’t ask me where that came from. I don’t know. It just popped out, and it became my standard response on cramp days. I’d usually always get a smile out of her whenever I said it, but she wasn’t having any fun at the time with all of that.

As I remembered it all, clear as day, I choked back my emotion. I couldn’t let the other boys see me cry. But the words “fat juicy babies” were pounding over and over in my heart. I couldn’t help but think of the journey it took us to get here.

ColeGraceFAV!Before I disclose something very personal and sacred about our family, let me put a disclaimer on this. I don’t know any other way to say this, but God has kept His word to us, and we totally celebrate His goodness. BUT, we’ve done nothing to really deserve it. Does that make sense? We’re not special and we’re not deserving of specialized treatment from God. At times we’ve been faithful and at times we’ve been like wandering lambs, afraid and exposed. I’m not sure why any of what I’m about to tell you happened. But I think about it all of the time.

Is anyone who gives birth, adopts, or raises a child ever really deserving of that child? Think about it for a minute. For a woman’s womb to receive the seed of a man, thus stewarding the miraculous mystery of life and soul, no matter how that life got started in that womb is way above our pay grade. It’s heaven-and-earth stuff. All of it is supernatural grace. I just think you’re being obstinately blind if you can’t see the Divine thumbprint in mankind’s ability to reproduce life.

There were times throughout our journey where all we had to hold on to was hope, and that my friends can be at times like climbing Everest using only dental floss for rope.

There are many women who are unable to conceive for a multitude of reasons. And again I have to say that “not deserving” or “no merit” isn’t a part of that equation either. The answers to our questions of “why” or “why not” are just simply beyond us in another dimension altogether.

My point in saying this is so that some dear woman who is still desperately clinging to hope will be encouraged and receive from Him what she needs to continue to endure and trust for as long as necessary. I wish I could issue guarantees, but there are none. He is God and He is love. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. And until He says something else to you, hold on to hope, honey. Hold on! Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Nicole and Steve tried for many years to have a baby. Nothing was working. Three failed artificial insemination attempts and one failed in-vitro fertilization led to all kinds of disappointment, financial expense, and heartache for the whole family—especially for Nicole and Steve.

My daughter is a monster in the Spirit. Not many people know her that way but, good Lord, put her in a room where the Ghost is moving and she radiates like the sun! Most ministry people don’t have a clue of what she’s capable of. I’ve seen how she operates when she gets the nod from spiritual authority. Whoa, Jesus! Both of my natural daughters are wired this way.

Those seasons of trying, begging, and crying out, and not getting what she really wanted in her heart was devastating—almost crippling. Steve was also being brutalized in the process. And honestly, I was personally confused as hell! We all were. “Really, God? Fat juicy babies! What gives here?” This was a kid who would breastfeed her Cabbage Patch dolls when she was 3 years old. She’s had mommy juice for a really long time.

After four major heartbreaks, each equally devastating, they rolled the dice again. By this time, all our family could do was whisper in absolute surrender, “We need you, Lord.” In early December 2011, Gracie was conceived in a petri dish.   We have a picture of the two embryos within hours of their conception (see below). Both were implanted in Nicole’s womb a few days later. Two planted, but only one developed to term. The mystery declared once again: “Some things are beyond you.” We had to rest with that.  Grace Irene Brewer was born in August 2012.

The mystery of it all is bigger than any of us can comprehend. Gracie is beautiful and perfect. A gift. A life. A baby. Pure grace.

View More: guess doctors have to give you odds on this kind of stuff, but the numbers were not good for any of the procedures. It was all risk and a lot of faith. Scary as hell, in fact! Couples going through these kinds of trials need your prayers and your tears. It’s a hard time, but worth the risk every time. I’m convinced the same can be said for foster care and adoption as well. It’s a risk. But the reward is so worth it!

IMG_1083The numbers Nicole and Steve got for natural conception possibilities were 1 in 1,000. So remove the words “good chance” here and replace them with “next to impossible.” Not happy news.

But, Gracie needed a brudder or a sissy, so Nicole and Steve had decided that round three of in-vitro was going to happen eventually. It was just a matter of when. Patti and I kind of felt like we would hear something in the fall of ’14. We were wrong.

Back in early February, our friends, Michael and Kathy Hindes, were in town for the evening. Nicole knew we had friends visiting with us, so it was really weird when she requested immediate Facetime with the both of us. We took the call in the back bedroom. We saw Steve’s and Nicole’s faces, and then a positive pregnancy stick! “It just happened,” they cried excitedly.

Patti lost control and fell onto the bed in sobs. I was yelling so loud my throat hurt the next day. I could hear the Hindes’ laughing on the other side of the house. They immediately knew what the commotion must be all about.  They knew what we had been through.

Since then, the daughter quarantined Pops and Nana’s communication. There were ultra sounds, blood work, and other things to check out before we were to move to full blown party mode. But, don’t check around too close to see whom all Nana might have told.   I don’t think those numbers are too good either.

Two months have passed and last weekend we watched in loving adoration as our beautiful Gracie dove into her pink cupcake.   Our eyes filled with tears and overwhelming awe. From the days of painful longing to soft moments of cuddling fat, juicy babies, He’s been our peace and the source. Here the words just fail to form. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

She’ll be here in September, a new sister for Gracie—a new cousin for Isabel, Jones, and Lewis. All is grace. All is good.


Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.  Amen.


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