Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A shepherd boy in the mountains of southern Peru. (Photo by Sam Beer)

I will be leaving this morning for San Antonio. I will speak tonight at Oak Hills Church and then tomorrow night at Perspectives (a missions course). I will also get to reunite with Larry, the friend I went to Africa with, a couple of months ago. I am scheduled to return, Friday.

In January, one of the pastors at my church asked me to teach a Discipleship course. He wanted me to teach on Missions as a Lifestyle, with the curriculum being of my own choosing.

As we began to explore this, I quickly saw I would be away for more of the sessions than I would be present for. A friend from church who is an eye surgeon, but does a great deal of medical missions, agreed to enter this endeavor as a co-leader. He ended up doing most of the leading.

We had a small but solid group of adults who ranged all over the age scale. They were young couples to more senior ones. We had several who came alone as well. These were people who were hungry to know more about sharing Christ and living daily as missionaries.

It was a great experience. We had many different speakers come and share about their missional living and experiences. The stories told were compelling and held the interest of the group. I believe each member learned a great deal and found motivation to come more quickly.

A project suggested by my co-leader was to have the group take on the task of raising funds to use as the group saw fit, to support missions. I must say, it seemed to start rather slowly. But as it gained momentum and enthusiasm, the team got behind it.

Sunday night was our final meeting, and when we had finished, the group of nine present, had raised $1675! I was very excited at what the Lord was doing. We had multiple discussions of how to use the funds.

When all were collected, the team chose three missionaries. Two were headed to Peru for the summer to serve as missionaries (both are college students). The third was a Romanian missionary who serves around the world, who had spoken to the group a few weeks back.

This was a group who would never spend time together because of ages, interests and even the service times chosen on Sunday mornings. The Lord united the group for a common purpose. Not only did they receive, they got to give! It was an inspiring experience for them and for me.

There is something significant about being used. Usually when we give, we give to a program, and don't necessarily get to see our funds work. In this case, many of the team knew the missionaries, and were quite enthused to help them.

This kind of joy is contagious. It is part of what we are called to do. Each of us should not only be supporting His work, but doing His work...everyday of our lives.

What a blessing to see a group, some of who have been on the mission field and some who want to begin (whether across the street or across and ocean) realize they play an important role in His Kingdom. These have already begun to make a difference!

I Praise God for how He used their faithfulness to bring encouragement into my life. None of them set out to do so, and that is the coolest part. Simple obedience, moment by moment, brings change that starts small, but gathers momentum, and impacts a culture!



Monday, April 27, 2009

Auburn light cast eerie silhouettes upon the wooden beam
Timbers forced to intersect for purposes unclean

And then laid flat upon the earth, confusion grew inside
Their faces bore a sneering mirth as they stretched His arms so wide

A hammer swung with deadly force to meet an iron spike
To pierce His flesh too easily, they laughed with ugly spite

Blood streamed down His weary face as He turned a glance at me
I could not hold His gaze for long, ashamed I set this tree

He tried to push up from His feet to gain a desperate breath
Unfulfilling gasps gave way as pain intensely wept

Splinters buried deep within His lacerated back
His love, His life, this only Christ is what the people lack

A thief cried out from brokenness and called upon the Lord
Grace was his and mercy too, as shocked were all the lured

And then a spear did find its mark, it parted flesh and bone
A broken heart did spill its blood and water twixt in foam

A rich man bought a tomb for Him and buried Him that night
But death lost all it's victory as His just life took flight

Roman soldiers slain down dumb as the stone unhinged its way
And Life emerged anew that morn, born again for this new day

And now to Him I turn my heart, my life, my soul, my song
Released from inner prison walls to walk with Him along

A people lost and naked, blind eyes and poor in spirit
Bought gold from Him refined by fire, white raiment, salved eyes clearing

With this New Life all can come to Him who spent it all
To pay for what we don't deserve, by Grace our new Life dawns


Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Break team

On the way to Stillwater, Oklahoma, last night, Deanna and I saw a number of police cars. They seem to be driving cooler cars than they used to.

Have you noticed that some of their vehicles are SUV's and pretty expensive? They don't even look like Police vehicles. You have to be paying attention to notice what is and isn't one these days.

Perhaps we've all been cut off by pizza delivery people at one time or another. These guys and gals are always in a huge hurry. As they try to operate at peak efficiency, they begin to endanger the lives of other people.

Their hurry is partially based on financial reward and the desire to maximize it. I won't pretend to know how pizza companies compensate their drivers, but I know it has to be based on timely delivery in some capacity. Otherwise, they wouldn't always be in a bigger hurry than me(and remember, that is saying something)!!!

After hearing Lauren sing last night, and having fellowship with a number of friends, Deanna and I headed home.

We had not yet left Stillwater, when we saw flashing lights ahead, in the oncoming lane. They weren't moving. Probably a wreck, we thought.

We were right. Guess who it involved?

A pizza delivery driver had rear ended a huge Police SUV. Though both men looked uninjured, the front of the delivery car was destroyed. He had to have hit with significant impact.

The front of the car (which he had yet to see) seemed to match the look on his face.

If you are going to rear end someone, this would likely be your last choice! The policeman was a tall man, and his stride seemed to cry irritation. I felt so bad for the pizza delivery guy. I don't think I have ever said or felt that before.

The reality is that we live in a time when life comes at you so fast that it is easy to get distracted. I don't know what happened in this case, but to be so caught up in something else while driving, that it results in hitting the last person on earth you want to hit, ranks high in a very bad day.

Police are symbols of authority in our culture. They wield authority. Some do it gently, others can be obnoxious. We've all seen both sides.

Authority has been placed in our lives for our protection. Scripture says all authority is God's authority. We have a hard time coming to grips with that at times. We don't like to see people in power who abuse their position for personal gain.

When they do, though we disagree with their methods, they are still our authorities.

When we submit to authorities, we find protection. When we step out on our own and make decisions that violate what authority says, we lose our protection and become 'easy pickins' for the enemy.

Sometimes these are conscious decisions. Other times, we fail to follow established guidelines because we are distracted and not thinking about what we are doing.

Both usually end badly. Collateral damage often accompanies our assertion of selfishness and/or lack of thinking things through.

To remain under the protection of the authorities in our lives, we need to know what rules we are playing by. That requires spending time learning, or else learning the hard way.

When it comes to living for Christ, I would prefer to know what Scripture says and follow it, than to suddenly run up against judgment and not know what was expected.

This is where our obedience is crucial to the Salvation of the unreached. If we walk in obedience to Christ, then many lives are saved. If we claim we walk with Him, but are really pursuing our own agenda and ignoring those who do not know Him, then at the very least, we miss out on His blessing and they potentially die apart from the Savior.

This is pretty significant collateral damage.

I do no want to run unexpectedly into my Lord while pursuing my fleshly desires. I would rather crash into the back of a police SUV than to walk in disobedience.

If we are to remain under His authority, we must do as His Word teaches. In order to do what He teaches, we must know His Word. In order to know His Word, we must spend time in it.

I praise God for Lisa's story from yesterday! This is what obedience looks like! God whispers into your heart, you know what you are supposed to do, and you do it. This is truly what remaining under His authority looks like.

Thank you Lisa, for giving us such a strong visual of how we are to live!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lauren is in concert tonight at Oklahoma State University, just in time for her newly recorded cd of all original music. If you are interested in a copy, you can email her at

My schedule for the upcoming week:

4/26/09 FBC Bristow, Oklahoma, preaching
4/29/09 Oakhills Church, San Antonio, Texas, preaching
4/30/09 Perspectives (Missions Training Course), San Antonio, Texas, teaching

A growing concern of my heart (and Deanna's) stems from many of the BJ's Hope Mission Scholarship applications that we receive.

There is a troubling and consistent theme that emerges from students around the country who take the time to fill out their applications to request support. First, we are thankful that they do and thrilled to help.

What is troubling is how few of them can articulate what is important to share with unbelievers, when conveying the Gospel message.

Some of the answers we receive don't even dance with the Truth. They're not even close. I cannot believe that this information is not taught to them.

This does not become a reason to expel their app's, but it is indicative of where the American church culture is in terms of understanding Salvation.

I do realize that for many of them it is their first time to try to share the Gospel, as many of them have never attempted it before (just like most adults).

However, filling out our application is like an open book test without time constraints. No one is looking over their shoulder. They can reference the Word or whoever they need to.

The reality that so few have a clue what to say reveals a deep disconnect with the Truth.

I am glad that students who don't know this still want to come, because we can teach them what they need to know (and share).

What troubles me more is the thought that if these are the ones God is calling, and they are responding, yet ignorant of the key tenets of their faith, then what about the people who fill the buildings every Sunday who never respond to this need?

I don't think we have to look beyond this to understand why the church of our country is impotent (clearly, this does not apply to every church).

We are far more focused on the American Dream than God's vision. Our goals reflect vacation destinations and large ticket purchases to pad our material storehouses... you know, the ones Jesus told us not to have. He taught that our treasures needed to be in heaven. Somehow, that always seems to apply to someone else, but not us.

I am not indicting vacations, I am simply saying that the same family who goes on extravagant vacations will in the next breath say they cannot afford to send their child or themselves on a trip to serve Christ.

Are we really foolish enough to believe we will not have to give an account for this?

The fact that we have lived long full lives and never told anyone about Jesus should be a foreign concept. Instead it is our dirty little domestic secret...except somebody has been telling.

I fear that many of us are about to be spat out of our Savior's mouth. We are vile and materially driven. We cannot articulate what we have never taken the time to learn or teach our children.

If we don't begin to take seriously the call of Christ on our lives, and the plan of the Father in Heaven for us to take His Salvation and discipleship to every ethnicity around the globe (and at home), then what expectation should we have to be a soothing drink in our Savior's mouth?

Body of Christ, it is time to move. It is never too late to turn over a new leaf and finally walk in obedience! What will it take to get us off of the bench and into the game?

It's our call.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When they were young...

I think back to when my children were young, and am so blessed at how much they trusted Deanna and me. Their love had no conditions. Their joy was filled with passion and wonder! Each of them was so very different from the other two.

To this day, there are memories that we carry about their individual personalities. Some of their attributes were like their mother, and others like me...and with some, they weren't like either of us. It was amazing to watch them grow and experience life...some things for the first time, and others for the second and beyond.

Even now, the things they are doing and accomplishing, bring us joy and excitement.

Lauren just spent time recording in the studio again, and now has six original songs on cd. She is playing a concert at Oklahoma State University, Thursday night at an event called "Amplify."

Whitney and Jared are buying their first home. They began the closing process yesterday (after multiple delays), and are enthused about having their own place.

New things happening all the time it seems!

Watching your children grow up is certainly bittersweet. Knowing they are prepared to handle things in life brings peace. Seeing them remain close to their Savior and serve Him is just incredible.

Somewhere along the way, if we do it right, we teach our children to place the same trust they have in us, in their Heavenly Father. That happens at different stages and different ages for people.

Being able to be part of that process with your own children is an honor, a privilege and a humbling experience! To see the manifest presence of God come into the life of your child, is just huge! Laying down your preconceived notions about how old, they need to be, or what they must know, etc, and just sharing with them is crucial.

The natural curiosity in children will cause some to ask many questions, which is a good thing. Others will ask them later, but it is still good that they ask.

This past Sunday, in one of the families from our church, a young girl and her mother spoke about this relationship with Jesus! It proved to be both intense and rewarding.

The mother wrote me the following message. This occurred sometime after the Sunday morning service reflected upon, yesterday. I am changing the name of the little girl, but wanted you to catch a glimpse of how this came about.

Thank you Brent for your part in Tasha's salvation. :) God used you to speak to me yesterday in many ways! One of them was about child-like faith. I have been agonizing about when Tasha was "ready" to get saved. Through you and the Holy Spirit's guidance, I realized that it wasn't up to me to determine when she is really ready and what that magical age should be...while I can guide her and help her to understand, it is ultimately up to her and God. Although she may not understand all the theology and "religion" I have tied it to it, she wanted to be obedient to the Holy Spirit's call. Her little heart was pounding so hard last night it was practically jumping through her shirt and she was begging me to pray with her. She was desperate for Jesus...she doesn't know everything, but she knew she loved Him, needed Him and wanted Him as her Savior right then. I pray that I will be that desperate for Him. Thank you so much for your message yesterday.

I want to be that desperate for Jesus too! I want to be that much in need of seeking and serving Him. He teaches us in His word to come to Him with the faith of a child. He even tells us that we won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven if we don't!

I saw this change take place in the lives of my children. I am so incredibly grateful for their trust in Jesus!

Time spent pouring into the life of a child is never wasted. Time spent coming before Him with the heart and attitude of a child isn't wasted either!

Thank you Jesus, for saving Tasha! Thank you for giving her parents who love and serve you, and celebrate what you have done! Thank you for allowing them to be part of such a special landmark time in their daughters life!

I Praise God!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Lauren and me being completely serious...

Yesterday, Lauren and I had the privilege of ministering together. She sang before and after I preached.

Many of you have asked me for a way to hear the message so I am giving you the link. My flesh wants to explain many things...I'll simply say, there was much more to this message, but I felt the Lord direct it the way you hear it.

Here is the link:

There was evidence that the Lord used this message in the lives of our church body. I am praying that it opens the door for us to really begin to take seriously our role as the body of Christ.

Feel free to listen, but do not feel obligated!

That is all for today. Have a great week!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Somali Bantu refugee children growing up under the rule of Islam. Who will reach down and touch their lives?

I have written about children on many occasions. Jesus spoke about children, more.

Sunday I have the privilege of preaching in my home church while my pastor is doing a revival. I am very excited...and extremely prayerful.

Part of my message will come from Mark 10 where Jesus insists the disciples allow the children to come to Him.

This is a poignant moment. Not only because parents wanted the rabbi's of the day to speak blessing over their children, but because time was short. The disciples felt the collective tension that surrounded the road to crucifixion.

They did not understand all that was happening, but they knew from what Jesus said and did, that little time was left. In their minds, having young children run up to Him to receive blessing was unnecessary.

It is easy to see why they felt as they did. Fast forward a couple of thousand years, and look at how fast we live, and how we are always on the go. We are not busy with the Salvation of the world, and yet we push children to the background, routinely.

We get singularly focused on agendas that leave no room for interaction that produce joy and blessing.

When I think back to the things my children did when they were little, I cannot help but laugh!

What brings joy in the life of a child is so simple and in many ways profound.

The glee they derive from simple pleasures should be practiced by all. More common though is our proclivity to shedding joy in the moment and embracing responsibility as a pursuit, which seems to inherently contain the need for recognition and power.

We replace simple joy producing moments with pursuits of things expected to yield happiness...only the fleeting fulfillment never materializes in sustained symphony.

Who would listen to an orchestra for an hour when sixty second sound bytes are available?

Our lives are taken on the run, but the destination of most, Christian and non-christian alike, is often earthly treasure over heavenly reward.

Who has time for joy, when building a kingdom of clay is on the line?

Children are often shoved to the background of our lives and their voices treated as white noise, rather than pleas for truth and understanding.

Those who understand Jesus reaction to his disciples, practice investing in that which is truly important...the lives of others.

Few can see this.

Many come together quickly for building projects within the confines of a congregation, supposing that a bigger building will draw more people...maybe even unbelievers.

The reality is that imposing edifices are no more likely to bring the lost and broken than the closed hearts of those who serve self and claim Christ.

Neither are a draw for Him.

The joy and limited understanding of a child...eyes that fail to assign meaning to skin color...being broken over a stray...wanting to feed the hungry...these are the heart of Christ and the demonstrated direction of His ministry.

Where did we get the idea that holding hands with other believers inside a building that is impenetrable to the lost and broken is religion?

While religion has become a dirty word, Scripture says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

When this verse is quoted, the last part is most often left off. Perhaps the reason is that we are too busy embracing our worlds view of success and aspiring in the theoretical, to meeting the needs of the widows and orphans, yet our hands are filled and our hearts defiled, so we accomplish none of the above.

Who serves widows? Who meets the needs of orphans? Who keeps themselves from the worlds pleasures?

Almost no one.

When we begin to take the time to enjoy the children around us, we might just find that this verse is not so hard to accomplish. There is joy in serving. It is a tangible joy that brings with it, abiding peace and sustained fulfillment...because it is of God.

When we take seriously His word, to store up for ourselves treasures in Heaven, our hands will release unimportant things...and be found...serving joyfully.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

the's about the children

Last night, I heard from a young woman who was a student of mine many years ago.

We'll call her Aubrey. She grew up in a home that was centered around Jesus. Early in the time I knew her, she was seeking Him. Later, she began to struggle and I feared for her. I feared for her because she had grown up with everything and she began to want more. She wanted and was intrigued by what the world had to offer.

After several attempts at finding the right man, she got into a relationship with a young man who was the lead singer of a band. This band was very talented musically. Four of the young men had come out of my youth group. They helped lead worship, week after week.

It was not long before this band was signed and began doing shows around the world. My son was a fan. I was a fan.

Their lyrics were filled with hope, though their style of music and the venues were quite the opposite from mainstream Christian bands.

Aubrey ended up marrying the lead singer. He had been a young man with an evangelists heart. He even preached the word at times, and did so with amazing clarity.

Over time, this lifestyle and schedule, rife with temptations, began to chew him up.
After a year or two of success, he got out. It took him quite awhile to work through the failures and difficulties that stemmed from his experiences. His wife was there to work through these with him. Those were very difficult days for them.

The enemy is the master of guilt and oppression. He is adept at ruining the witness of Christian men and women who attempt this lifestyle. I have spoken with others who got out, and say that the road is an evil place and so are the buses that cart these brothers from city to city.

Aubrey had experienced her own failures. She was not proud of parts of her life. Through the growth and struggle, her heart had been to bring glory to God. Her practice had been different.

Perceived fame and promised fortune are elusive, yet sought by many in our world. Few can handle it's intoxicating impact and accompanying emptiness.

Not too long ago, Aubrey began to see things turn around. Her husband was on the right track again. He had dabbled with another band and the idea of things being different. Instead, God's call prevailed and he accepted a position as a youth minister, where he currently serves.

Aubrey became pregnant and the excitement an enthusiasm of this young couple grew along with their faith.

During this time, her church had been planning a trip to Israel. Aubrey felt she was to go, but could not, being pregnant. God told her to pray for a miracle. She began to.

Then tragedy happened. She miscarried!

Heartbroken, she tried to find her way.

God spoke to her. She heard Him say, "I have plans for your future."

Simultaneously, another participant in this trip had to unexpectedly drop out. That person went to their pastor and said I had a dream, and you need to ask Aubrey if she would go.

The door opened, and a couple of months ago, she went to the Holy land and walked where her Saviors history began. She was overwhelmed with all she saw, and all the new insights she had into Scripture. The crevices of her heart were filled with Truth in new ways.

Before the trip, Aubrey, a trained Cosmetologist, had been compelled by God to quit her job for no apparent reason, and she did so.

Upon her return, her heart filled with the newness of Christ, a door opened before her. A national tour was about to begin by a famous female recording artist who has been all over the news headlines for one failure after another.

She was in need of a make-up artist. God saw that Aubrey was that artist.

She had learned much about the pitfalls of the road with and through her husband. She had experienced the ugly side of life while trying to walk out a believers life.

God had led her through much pain and difficulty and called upon her to take these experiences and use them for His glory.

Aubrey is now the make-up artist who is going out of her way to minister to the brokenness of this young and famous vocalist.

Aubrey whose heart had been painted by the restoring blood of Jesus Christ is now on tour with and painting the face of, Britney Spears!

My God seeks to draw the broken to Himself. We are His conduits and useful in assisting Him to bring restoration. Our past failures and trials help to build a testimony from which He can minister. Though He did not lead us into temptation, He did draw us out, and seeks to use our very lives...if we will get out of the way.

I pray for and praise God for Aubrey...her platform is significant and her ministry vital. We need to surround her and lift her up!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BJ receiving an award from Rusty at Ultimate Youth Camp...

Yesterday was a day that mere words tend to cheapen.

I had the privilege of meeting with some of the kings of commerce in our office conference room. I really don't even know how to begin to tell this story.

In short, the head of Dream Vision came to Tulsa so we could pray over him. He is an amazing man of God full of passion, and zeal for seeing others come to Christ. He is also running an organization, largely made up of those who were the creative forces behind Disney. They are believers who want to see Christian values in movies, etc.

What they are doing is just incredibly amazing, and will be unveiled in coming weeks and months. They are positioned to finally impact our culture through film at the level of children to adult. No more cheesy, empty productions which cast believers as fools of society (which we often are, but not as we are portrayed in most films).

Perhaps I will go into more detail another day. I am so encouraged by what is happening, and believe you will be too. These are believers the Lord has assembled that are about to enter into this segment of media in ways we have not seen before. It is necessary, and if I may say so, "about time!"

Their first projects are God stories and should have amazing impact on our culture. We need to pray for and Rick Salinskas, Ron Logan and Rick's brother Vince. The list goes on, and their resumes in the film arena are impressive. It would appear, our Lord has assembled the best of the best to begin a work at just the right time!

I want to share a story from yesterday.

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting with two of these men privately. They came to our offices and felt compelled to meet with me.

We sat down for hours and saw the Lord knit our heart together. One of the men I already knew, the other, I was meeting for the first time.

The man I knew has brought many men into my life, that are significant in their fields. They are making a difference in the business arena, for Christ! They are also, all Anakites! Each one of them looks like he just stepped off of the football field. Tall and ripped. I always feel so small.

I shared with the two men, much of what the Lord has done in our lives since the beginning of the year. As I spoke, I became more and more overwhelmed at all God has done. It was such a sweet aroma to share our hearts together.

I shared our video of BJ's life, and spoke of him some. I saw that this new man had a copy of our book. He is a godly man who hears the Lord frequently, and loves Him with all of his heart.

His interest and desire to know what I had to say eclipsed that of most people I meet. I don't know what that even means, except to say that he genuinely wanted to get to know me, and listened to every word I had to share. He had no agenda of his own. I seldom see that.

He was at this day long meeting yesterday. My heart leaped with joy when I saw a long lost friend. He hadn't known if he'd be able to make it. What a privilege to have him here again!

We spoke briefly before the meeting began. His few words would overwhelm and ruin me for the day.

He encouraged us about our book and told me he had read it quickly and was "unable to put it down!" I appreciated his words. I will always appreciate words like that, but hope beyond those moments that God impacts hearts with this story, and that mere lip service is not the totality of response.

Then he went on. In our former meeting, I learned that he is one who hears and listens to the voice of God. God spoke to him while he was reading "I Would Die for You."

He looked deeply into my eyes as he spoke. I felt such an incredible portion of peace come over me. I did not expect the tenderness that flowed from his burly frame.

He said, "God told me that he loved your son so much that He just could not wait another day to bring him home!"

His statement was spoken as our group was entering into prayer. It exploded within me. It was pregnant with significance, and reduced me to uncontrollable tears.

My Lord and my God! I knew of His love and have experienced it in my own life. I have tried to convey it to others. I had never had it conveyed to me in such a way.

I could not stop thinking about it all day.

When I was finally reunited with my bride, I shared it with her as we drove on the highway. Her reaction mirrored my own, and it all began again.

A precious gift was given to us. It moved us on so many levels and is difficult to describe. I praise God for the provision He makes in our lives.

I am thankful for my new friend. I am more thankful for a Mighty God that is interested in my knowing His heart!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Katie, Kaleb and Kelsey in Mexico

Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

This is the central theme and message we wish to convey with our lives.

It is interesting how often my attention is drawn to the eyes of another. Whether engaged in conversation about the things of the Lord, seeing joy fill them in response to something specific, seeing disappointment reflected, or seeing deep sorrow swallow up all other expression, the eyes are portals of reality.

Some like me, have faces that routinely betray momentary disposition. Others work at limiting all emotion...expressions hidden, but eyes daring another to enter.

I have been reminded many times over, while engaged in deep conversation with someone, that their eyes are either of Christ, or searching for Him.

So much is revealed in a transfixed gaze. So much is hidden behind eyes that won't meet with yours.

Recognizing what Scripture says about 'entertaining angels unaware,' I have sometimes been convinced I was looking into the eyes of my Savior.

Oh to drink deeply from His gaze. Wouldn't it be a blessing to draw long and hard from His depths, and to be refreshed by being known...and still loved. He came to bring that to us.

He loves us that way. When we feel worthless, like failures, like Peter after rejecting Him three times, He still loves us and draws us near. How much of our lives do we run from those loving eyes?

We helped a spear pierce His flesh, but the love in His eyes pierces our souls, and brings restoration and hope, where it would not be found.

Many would tell you that He comes with judgment alone, and that He seeks to condemn those who don't follow a certain list of rules. That, however, would be brought by a foe who has enlisted the assistance of men who would be gods.

His warmth, His joy, His still small voice may bring conviction, but that is to draw us back, not drive us away. He is a God of compassion. One who loves and teaches us to do likewise.

In the midst of a frenzied world that sells out at the whims of men, He is there. Those eyes, seeking, searching, reflecting Truth, inviting us in...they beckon with invitation and hope for obedience.

Will the blind see? Sometimes those with the best vision, recognize the least and are found blind. They fail to open their hearts and receive His love, and push away that which would be a salve to their souls.

He has enlisted us to help open those eyes.

How often do others see the eyes of Christ when their gaze encounters our own?

What a privilege!

Let your eyes tell the story, and bear witness of a Mighty God! Don't let them seems they are always at the ready for betrayal...but let them portray the glory of a Savior that loves without condition or rule.

He is love. He is life. He is our hope and His manifest presence will be seen by those who seek Him, if we allow Him access, moment by moment and heart by heart. His very best can be found in our surrender, and be seen by those who are searching.

See with His heart and let the reality seen behind your eyes, be His.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Ugandan sunset...

I cannot help but wonder this morning, if the angel Gabriel is tired.

Yes, I know this is really random. I've been reading this week in Daniel 8&9 and Luke 1. Gabriel has stood in the presence of God for centuries! I wonder if he ages. I want to see him. I want to ask him questions. I want to know what he has seen!

What was it like to interpret dreams and visions for Daniel? How moved were you to announce John the Baptists birth? How humbled were you to announce the birth of Christ our Savior?

Being an angel, and knowing the roles he has filled in Scripture, and knowing that he stands in the presence of God and has been since he was created, I just have many things I want to say to him. One part of my Bible says he is an archangel. I wonder how close he and Michael are?

I wonder if he speaks English. When I go to heaven, will I have to learn a new language?

I am trying to learn Spanish, and have been for years. I finally have Rosetta Stone, after tinkering with other software, I am hoping this one suddenly makes me fluent!

I wonder if Gabriel always gets the cool jobs of interpretation, announcing major events, and standing next to God...does he ever have to do the crummy stuff? If the Seraphim have six wings, how many does Gabriel, an archangel have? What does Gabriel do while the Seraphim fly around saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy?"

Does Gabriel have to go into battle in the invisible wars...the ones that are fought in the heavenlies, that most of us cannot see, or is this reserved for Michael and legions of other angels?

He was created for a purpose. Scripture seems to reflect his is to make pronouncements and interpret stuff. How cool is that?

Michael on the other hand, goes to battle. How weary is he of fighting on our behalf? What must it be like to fight these wars that most of us live in denial of?

Apparently, archangels do not need the approval of men. They are not attention seekers. They fill the roles God created them for, and do it well and do it for centuries! I wonder if they need to sleep? What do they eat? Manna? Ambrosia? oops different book.

Do they ever get to recreate? Do you think Gabriel has a hobby? I wonder if he likes to read?

It would appear that he doesn't get to do this kind of thing. Probably not because he can't, but probably because he knows what he was created to do, and he does it.
The only approval he seeks is that of his Creator. What would it be like to only serve the Creator?

Never needing to fill ones own perceived needs and/or desires.

Is his understanding of the Gospel somehow different, that he stays focused and does the will of the Father in Heaven?

Does he ache that his brother Lucifer has fallen away, and taken legions of angels with him?

I wonder if he ever sleeps. When does he rest? I wonder how his eyes are different than mine that he is able to stand in the presence of the Almighty!

Oh to understand my purpose so well, that I do not wonder, that I do what I was created to do, that I bring glory to God in all I do!

What toll must that take on a body? What price, living for centuries and seeing the repetitive failure of men, must have on these who stand in support of the same...because they were created to do so.

I wonder if Gabriel is tired of waiting for us to recognize our purpose...


Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Tepez village of the Karamojong tribe near Moroto, Uganda

The Lord continues to prepare my heart for an upcoming message that I will have the privilege of preaching in coming weeks at different churches. As I study, and the message begins to come together, I realize how little, people will want to hear it.

When the Lord began to stir my own heart for what He wants me to preach, I became very enthused! I grow more and more excited as I study and research the topic.

Still, as I do, I find that when I share snippets with others, the reaction is largely anticipated. They become uncomfortable. ME TOO!

This is the kind of message that is largely convicting because of who we are and what we have.

We live in a time when many openly embrace a gospel of prosperity and messages on living your best life now. These are feel good sermons that make us glad to be Americans.

We live in a country and a culture that we are all thankful for. There is no harm in that whatsoever.

However, when the Spirit of the Lord begins to reveal Truth to His people and it comes with conviction and causes us to take a good look at how we are living, it can becomes easy to turn a deaf ear and blind eye.

The reality is that we are very comfortable in our country as we have an abundance of most everything...perhaps with the exception of genuine spiritual abiding, as a church.

There are certainly some who are walking with Christ. I have seen them, and they are making a huge difference in their communities as we are each called to do.

Unfortunately, I have seen more who are a bit bewildered, dazed and confused. I see pastors who are pouring themselves out everyday. They are completely spent in many cases, and know the Lord is faithful to refill.

The body on the other hand, says one thing..."We love Jesus!"...but acts another way.

I was having a conversation with my contact in Mexico, while there recently, about fruit. She wanted me to know that the word I was using (in Spanish) referred to apples, oranges and bananas. She gave me a different word to use.

I like to be corrected when I misspeak, and I thanked her. Then I let her know the metaphor and that it did not matter which word was used in this case. We both knew the scripture is referring to Spiritual fruit, but that the actual fruit we eat reflected much of what I feel Christ wants us to see...

It is refreshing, full of life and vibrancy...juicy, if you will. When we see fruit, we think of it as bringing something to our bodies that are much needed. When we see fruit we recognize it as evidence of significant growth and nourishment.

These same truths apply to our walk with Christ. (no this is not the content of my upcoming message)

When I was done showing her what was on my heart, she made funny faces at me, and surrendered. She saw the point, and it made perfect sense.

If we as a body stay connected to the True Vine, we will each express the fruit of significance, as the vine dresser cultivates us. However, if we continue to embrace worldly expectations, we will not reflect Christ, but be an expression of that which we are trying to leave behind.

He is always pursuing us.

We have to choose to allow ourselves to be captured and remain in His captivity, that one day we might be set free to encourage others to do likewise.

If we remain indifferent, we will be spewed out.

Amazingly, Starbuck's sells iced coffee and hot coffee...but there is no market for that which is lukewarm.

There is none in God's economy either.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

the Karamojong, plus a couple of temporary transplants

For those who may have tried to access the video of BJ set to "I Would Die for You," but consistently received a message stating that the video was 'no longer available,' please know that it is there. Try going to and typing in 'I Would Die for you BJ Higgins,' and it will pull up. To those who have accessed it, thank you for taking the time.

God is still using the dvd, the song and the book to stir the hearts of others. We are most thankful for this.

We live in a country where the average person makes around a hundred times more than the average person in other parts of the world. We are blessed with significant wealth. With this wealth, comes responsibility and a significant undertow.

As believers, the responsibility we have is to get the Gospel message to those who have not heard it. Some will do this by going. Some will do it by sending. Some will be active in their own communities until such time that they can go.

Many who send, do so, because they themselves cannot go, for a host of reasons. They still want to be a part of how God reaches these other ethnic groups, and so they give. Those who go, could not do so apart from those who send.

Currently, one of the problems we are facing is that those who give, are giving less. The need for those who can go to be able to do so, is still huge. Those who can give have less to give in some cases, due to the economy.

There are however, a large number of believers who are not involved on either side of this equation. They are not going and they are not sending. This does not mean they are heartless. In many cases, they have not been 'awakened' to the need.

The overarching concern I bring today, is becoming more and more pervasive in our country. It is not new, but many are gripped in it's undertow, and aren't even aware.

It surprises no one that the people of our country are consumed with having more.

The reality is that this is also true in churches across our land. Long, have we tried to "keep up with the Joneses."

That proverbial family seems to have more and more. We often allow ourselves to be drug along in their wake, trying to accomplish a similar, relative amount of excess. We generally fail to recognize that it is excess.

Often times, it requires having Scripture opened to us for us to "get" this.

In Matthew, Christ tells us not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth, but to store treasures in heaven. If we understood this and lived according to it, far more of us would have far less, and be giving far more to the prevalent needs in our communities, and elsewhere.

Some of us do so on a small scale. Few of us take from our excess and truly use it to further the Gospel.

In our culture, we see our needs as being relative to what the Joneses have. When they have more, suddenly our 'wants' are transformed into 'needs.' These things eat at us. We dream about them. We put pictures of them on our refrigerators and set up goals to obtain these items. When does it stop?

American Christians are caught in the undertow of societal wealth and are blinded to true need because of their own pursuit of more.

The result is that we have forgotten that it is in God we trust, and along the way we have begun to place our hope in our surplus, or our drive for it.

On a global level, we have become wealthy. On a personal level, we don't see this. As long as we are comparing our situation to those who have more than we do, we see ourselves as needy.

Truthfully, we are needy, but not for more things. We have become spiritually needy. We are unaware that we have "become wealthy and have need of nothing, and have become wretched, poor, miserable, blind and naked" in the eyes of our Savior.

Being in the world and not of the world requires us to stop pursuing as the world teaches, and start pursuing as He reveals.

We can live with less. We need to live with less.

Cultures outside of our own, recognize the impotence of western Christianity, because they know we have too much.

We must empty our hands of earthly storehouses and build into our families, Kingdom perspective.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

BJ as the fallen one

PLEASE TAKE SIX AND AHALF MINUTES AND WATCH THIS VIDEO OF BJ'S LIFE AND MINISTRY! (click on the text, or copy and paste it to your browser, to see the video)

Years ago, after BJ passed away, a friend named Jim put together a video for us. The video was set to the song written by Bart of MercyMe. It is called "I Would Die for You." The song, as most of you know, was inspired by the depth of BJ's writings and understanding of his Mighty God.

After moving to Tulsa, another friend, David (who got married on Saturday) took the video, and added video footage with voices, to the still clips that were the original. This is the video we have shown to university students, churches, schools and para church groups, around the country.

We have finally felt the peace to go ahead and post this for all to see. It is now on youtube. Our prayer is that the Lord will use this as an additional tool to inspire many to a deeper walk of obedience. Please share the link with your friends and family members, and pray that the Lord will bless and use it to further His kingdom.

Apart from His blessing, this will just be one more video in a sea of them. You can also find an interview on youtube that Deanna and I did at our church with a student who was doing a report on the life of a martyr. Please feel free to share or use this to bring Him glory!

It can be found at:


Monday, April 06, 2009

Please click on this link and view video expression of BJ's life that we use across the country as we tell his story...

Beej and me on our last ski trip

This morning, I was rereading the story of Peter's denial of Christ. I have such compassion for him as I read, because I can so easily see myself in his place.

I think about how many times I get all fired up on Sunday when I listen to a message, and it inspires me on so many levels. I have great plans based on that inspiration, and when Monday comes, will begin to deploy them.

The problem is, a lifetime of Mondays have passed, and most of my plans have never materialized.

In our world today, there are so many ways that we deny Him.

We fail to speak up in conversations where He is being bashed. We fail to bring Him up period, at those times when we sense His leading to do so. We fail to thank Him for our food...especially in public. We fail to reach out to those He puts in our path, that He intends for us to meet the needs of. We fail to meet with Him regularly. We fail to memorize His Word, and then offer up the excuse that we do not know enough, when witnessing opportunities (planned or unplanned) come our way. Perhaps we are the one telling the off color jokes. We even deny Him by allowing worldly pursuits to replace Him on the throne of our hearts.

There are so many more ways, as well.

The point is that He still desires intimacy with us, even when we fail Him. We know we don't deserve it, and we even list reasons in our mind as we think of our failures...yet He extends grace.

To Peter, who denied Him three times, He restored Him three times. He was going to significant lengths to reflect how much He cared for Peter. He even included Him in conversations at the tomb, when he says, "tell the disciples and Peter"...

He knew Peter's heart and knew that he feared his abandonment of Christ had cost him dearly. He knew we needed to see that though Peter had denied Him, He was still wanted.

At times, we burn bright with passion, as Peter did when he promised to follow Him "even unto death." At other times, we ignore His presence and cling to what is bringing us momentary pleasure.

God has been doing significant work in my heart regarding the church at Laodicea and how it equates to where Christians in the US are today. My ignition switch has been flipped and the fires are boiling...and I realize how quickly my own judgment of others will in effect, deny my Savior.

I am no better than any other, and I must constantly be brought back to grace over the condemnation that tries to pour out of me, over the lapses of my Christian siblings. My own lapses are glaring. I have no right to condemn.

I am thankful that my Savior convicts rather than condemns. I know He does so in my life, and in the lives of others. Sometimes He will use me or my words to bring conviction, but I must be careful, because some see condemnation, where conviction is intended.

One of the things I miss about my son, at such times, is his uncanny ability to be used to bring conviction to the hearts of those around him. He did not judge, and likewise, he helped keep us from doing so.

We have all failed, and all denied our Lord and Savior. Especially this week, let us begin anew to intentionally impact our communities with the grace and love of our Savior. He will open doors. We must be willing to walk through them, no matter the cost.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Deanna and her brother Dan, sing in Tuxpan, Mexico

Tomorrow, I have the privilege of marrying a dear friend and his bride. I first met him in the Indianapolis airport.

We lived in Indy for over 20 years and raised our family there. My church at the time was bringing in a young man from Awe Star Ministries to train our students in the method we would use overseas to do ministry.

This young man, was the trainer. His name is David. I held a sign with his name on it and had seen a picture of him...very tan with a shaved head.

The man who came down the escalator looked a bit different. The tan had faded and the hair grown back in...well some of it.

I would take him to his hotel, and follow him to his room...only to find out that the room had not yet been cleaned from a previous occupant. Great! We are really getting off on the right foot here.

Anyway, we changed rooms and headed off to the training, which was to take all weekend. We had a dozen and a half students ready to learn. Among them, was my daughter Whitney, who at the time was finishing her junior year in High School.

David would cast her in the role of the Knightmare (Satan). BJ came to every training. He was very anxious to get to the mission field, and wanted to participate however he could. He knew his sister had to take a college entrance exam the next morning, so he paid particular attention to her role.

He loved watching the sword fight performed between the Christ figure and the Satan figure. He practiced with empty hands and a full heart.

This did not escape David's attention.

The next morning, when Whitney was gone, David asked BJ to stand in. David expected to have to tell him where to go with each scene. He didn't have to...BJ had memorized the part.

On the way home that evening, David would ask BJ to go with him to Peru that same summer.

Beej began weighing the options. He really wanted to go to camp...but more than that, he had wanted to go on this mission trip, but was a year too young. He quickly decided, this was not about what he wanted, and vowed to seek the Lord on the topic.

By morning, the Lord had spoken, and BJ would begin the process of preparing to go to Peru.

He went two years in a row, as most know. David was his leader both summers. David had been there many times before.

BJ and David drew very close to one another. David recognized something in BJ, and he worked to grow and develop him.

When Beej returned and landed in the hospital after the second trip, David flew to Indy to spend a bit of time with us.

When BJ passed, David came with the rest of Awe Star staff, to his Memorial Celebration, and spoke about his friend.

Months later, when I moved to Tulsa 6 weeks before Deanna, David worked hard to welcome me, and make me feel at home. We became close friends.

We would work together over the next two years or so, and often have lunch together to process things in our lives and at work.

When David was called to a Muslim Island nation trip with his church, he did not understand the call, but he went anyway. While there, God called him to return full time!

He came home, came to my house, and we celebrated the calling, together!

David left months later to serve in this land. It was not an easy adjustment, he was lonely as anyone would be, and struggled to stay focused, at times.

This past summer, we sent our first team to that nation to work with David. It was an amazing summer of building relationships with these lost people. We are sending a return team in a couple of months.

Back after the turn of the century, a young woman named Piper would go on an Awe Star trip to Africa. At training, she would meet this man named David. Her first impression was fear. She felt very uncomfortable in his presence.

Years later, the Lord would reconnect them, via the internet. She was serving in Colorado at a Christian Camp. God began to move in their hearts. They would draw very close via skype and other instant chat mechanisms, on-line.

David would ask me to get to know her. I spent a considerable time on the phone with her, as she asked me questions about him. Their love grew.

David returned to the US at the end of his first year, to raise support. God would unite them in heart and purpose, and they became engaged.

Tomorrow, I have the privilege of marrying this couple that have become intertwined in my life and in my heart. I assisted in their pre-marital counseling, and have watched them develop a deep love for one another.

Tomorrow, David and Piper will unite at 1:00PM Central time...and I get to do the uniting...well, the Lord and me!

We serve an amazing God!


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pastor Nicolas Alba and me in the Gulf (on the return trip from Cerro Grande, Veracruz)

Sometimes it shocks me to remember that God's plan for the Salvation of the world is for you and me to be His witnesses to all people. Our responsibility is to tell others about Jesus Christ the Saving one, and to disciple new believers.

I feel such a heavy sense of responsibility. I cannot quite believe this is His plan. I know me. I don't think I am that trustworthy!

What kind of plan is based on me being responsible? I may be forty something years old, but I am largely a kid (or a large kid) and struggle to maintain focus. I'm pretty sure that if Doctors had been passing out ADHD meds when I was a boy, I'd have been taking them...probably still should be.

When I look at Scripture and see that His word teaches that He won't return until His word has been preached in every tongue to every nation (Matthew 24:14), I can't sit still!

How is this gonna happen?

Who is taking this seriously?

It certainly isn't the number of men and women who have signed up for summer missions and then bailed.

It won't be those who work a daily grind and then come home to children who have needs.

It isn't likely to be the pastors in churches across America, as they are already overworked and overwhelmed.

It won't be the widows or orphans.

It can't be those filling our educational institutions, simultaneously trying to figure out how to pay for the same.

No matter who we are, or where we are, it won't be us. We have too much on our plate!

What kind of plan is this?

We keep talking about the fact that we live in the "end times," but who are we fooling? The "end" can't come, cause we aren't preaching His word in every nation!

We often look to the "end" as a way to stop our own perceived suffering...except that we have yet to really suffer.

Our children think suffering is not being able to have a cell phone, or having limited text messaging on the one they already have. Where did they learn that?

Adults tend to view suffering as not being able to afford the house we really want. We are consumed with conspiring together on how to make it happen.

What effort is actually being put forth to actually fulfill the Great Commission?

Who has time? Who has resources? Who has the energy? What other excuses can we offer? What else will we say when we stand before Him at the throne of judgment, where we give an account (as believers) for how we used our time?

"When were you sick and in need, Lord? We never knew!"

I don't have time for this plan. It was surely ill conceived. Why would He depend on me? Does He really know me? Doesn't He realize what I have to put up with in life?

Send someone else, Lord! I can't speak well. I don't know how to tell people about you! There are plenty who can, send them!

Unless my perceived comfort becomes less important than the necessity of their Salvation; the reality is, I will continue to condemn them to hell, with my excuses.

Yet, I will blame was a faulty plan.

When He said, "Go," He didn't mean for us to head off and seek the lap of luxury and comfort. We made that choice on our own. He meant for us to take His plan to heart, and preach His word in all nations.

Funny, that IS what He said.

Somehow we took it to imply that it was someone elses responsibility. For ours is to eat, drink and be happy, for tomorrow, we die.

Bad plan God, bad form. You shoulda showed me you meant me, when you said, "Go."