Monday, November 15, 2010

"Hey Leader - How Are You?"

Before continuing - answer the question. "How are you?"

If your answer included the words "Good" or "Bad", read on. If it was something different, well, I am curious... so please respond.

As a Christian, you are called to lead. You cannot fulfill the great commission without leading.

Matt 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit"

Please don't miss the point here.
There is a process of maturity that happens and continues to happen in your walk with the Lord:
Step 1. Be a good follower of the Lord. (Be covered)
Step 2. Take others with you. (Cover others)

There is no skipping steps in the process - skipped steps will lead to correction by the Lord - which I will attest is not a great feeling.

You may find that in your job and or in your other groups you are doing a lot more covering than being covered. One thing that the enemy does to us is that he allows us to take leadership roles and then convinces us that vulnerability as a leader is weakness. (This is only a half truth because the Kingdom perspective is that "(His) power is perfected in weakness.") Consequently we put on a good face and clean our spiritual houses by throwing these "small issues" in a closet or unused room, or we sweep them under the rug. If we are never submitting these things to others that we trust that will cover us in prayer, the issues pile up. When a bunch of these "small issues" pile up, "Be sure that your sin will find you out."


Keep in mind that Kingdom life is not "the good life" it is THE ABUNDANT LIFE. The good Christian life has become the enemy of the abundant Christian life. This does not mean that there will be no troubles (Jn 16:33), it means that you are able to see Him and hear His still small voice:

1 Kings 19
11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”...the LORD was not in the wind. ... the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 ... the LORD was not in the fire. - AND AFTER THE FIRE CAME A GENTLE WHISPER.

How is your relationship with your Father in heaven?
How are you as an individual? outside of the context of your kids and your spouse?
How are you as a spouse?
How are you as a parent?

If your normal response to any of these questions would be "good", remember that we were never supposed to know the difference between good and evil. That is part of the fall. We were only supposed to be sons and daughters of The Living God. Hearing from Him always and obeying - living an abundant life.

We are at war with an enemy that is trying to steal from us, kill us, and destroy us. The problem is that since true believers will live eternally, we are walking around spiritually maimed while lightly suggesting "it's just a flesh wound." This is not abundant life. If we are walking with Him, we are walking in righteousness and we get spiritually healed/restored. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true - if we are not walking with Him, we are walking in sin, and will not be healed/restored.

Now What?

If you are not living an abundant life, what can you do?

1) Go back to step 1 - Being covered
Be pastored, be mentored, be discipled. You have to be vulnerable with someone and share your heart. Ask the Lord to reveal someone who can walk with you through this time - and be sure you commit to the process. The Lord may surprise you by the person/couple He shows you. They may not be who you would have chosen, but let's face it - His ways are higher than your ways. Trust Him even when it hurts.

2) Submit each aspect of your life to Him
Did you start leading a group that you never really heard Him say to start leading? Or are you leading a group that you know He asked you to start leading years ago but you haven't asked recently if that is what He still wants from you? If you are doing something on autopilot, He is probably not with you doing it. Keep in mind that He is not interested in what you are doing FOR Him... just what you are doing WITH Him

3) Fast and Pray
Deny yourself and ask Him for help and guidance. You are His child and He wants to speak to you. Even if you stopped listening before - He is still speaking to you. Something that I have put into practice when I can't hear Him - I think about the last thing that I know He told me and then I start being obedient to that again while submitting it back to Him.

What are your thoughts? We are all still in process being changed from glory to glory.

- Thomas

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Spirit of Brotherhood

“Bonfire fell”

My brother swung open my bedroom door in our Saddlewood apartment in Bryan, TX.

Immediately I jumped to my feet, got dressed and ran out the door. I remember asking a couple of questions, but it was clear that we would not know the extent of the answer until we got to the site. The fact was this: the facts were not important at the time. What was important was that my brother came to me with 2 words in his mouth, urgency in his heart, and an invitation in his voice.


Growing up, my brother and I did not have much of a friendship. The truth is that I idolized him a bit, but did not show it in a way that he would understand it. My brother is 2 years and 1 day older than I am. To this day, I wonder if it would have been more or less tumultuous to be twins. As twins, we would have had the same peers and similar capabilities. We probably would have pushed each other in competition and sharpened each other. Instead I attempted to include myself on everything he was doing. I will never know what that must have been like for him, but I know I made his life … spicy.

My brother is a pretty patient person. This was nice for me as he did not attempt to beat me to a pulp every other day. I would push his buttons on purpose to see what it would take to “break” him. Breaking him really had more to do with getting him to respond out of emotion. Now before you start thinking that my brother was an angel, and an innocent bystander to his little brother’s antics, keep in mind that he also was very smart, witty, and sarcastic (this is a theme between us). I am pretty sure that he was on to me and would constantly try to turn the table on me (though clearly I was more often than not, the instigator). Looking back, I realize that the better I got at pushing buttons, the more patient he got, which in turn drove me crazy.

As a side note – being the older brother, he was the one that was usually punished for whatever happened between us. Well… being older and having a younger brother that was a self-preserving liar…

Two memories that come to mind as examples. I have a terrible memory to begin with, so I will provide for you the pieces which my memory decided to store.

My parents had a good-sized painting that was framed and hung on the wall in the living room. This story occurs during one of these events where my brother would start pushing my buttons back. I don't remember what we were fighting about, but it was most likely something that I did or said to start with. I remember chasing my brother with a plastic jump rope (quick shout out to jump rope for heart). I distinctly remember my brother running away, not in fear, but with glee that he pushed me over the edge. I am sure he knew at this point that he was already going to get in trouble, so he made the most of it by flashing a grin and accomplishing the twinkle eye effect. Chase in our house was pretty fun because you could run a complete circle from the living room to the dining room/kitchen/laundry room/master bedroom/hallway/living room. He was faster than I was so this was really an exercise of how long I would be willing to chase. After more than a few laps, he slowed down and turned to me in the living room. This was my chance to avenge my honor so I whipped the jump rope at him effectively hitting the picture that up to this point was hanging on the wall.

The picture fell

The glass broke

Reality hit…

I spent the next few hours coming up with a rock solid story. No way my mom could have pinned it on me. I don't remember the exact story but it went something like this:

Mom: “tell me what happened”

Me: “I don't know – it just fell”

My brother got in trouble for it and the case was closed. And by case closed I mean – to this day when something happens that can’t be explained, my mom says something like, “oh, so this is like the time the picture ‘just fell’?”

The second story that comes to mind is in jr high school. My parents worked until 5 or 6 on a normal weekday evening. I think this is why my parents tried to have us involved in every sport possible at the school – less time at home, alone.
This particular event as I recall was soon after we got home from school on a non sports day. Usually my brother would find something to do that did not include me. I wish I could tell you where this story starts… but I only have memory of where it ends. Specifically, I remember lying face down on the floor with my brother sitting on top of me. I am sure he presumed he would get in less trouble than if he beat me, so this was probably a wise move. I remember that it would be a while before my parents got home – at least an hour, maybe more. So 15 minutes into this ordeal, I stop struggling. I realize that he is much stronger than I am and so I lay my head down, and start watching TV. Not long after he realizes I stopped struggling, he looks down and notices that I am watching TV so he, being the just and compassionate brother that he is, gets up, picks me up, turns me around so I can no longer see the TV and hops back on top of me.

Victory was his…

…until mom got home. At that point he gets in trouble for picking on me and not being a good big brother. I don't remember specific instances where my brother would continue to plead his case. He probably knew it didn’t matter because I would relentlessly lie about the situation.

He took the punishment as if he were ultimately at fault.

The next year, my brother went to high school, and I stayed in jr high. By the time I made it to high school a couple of years later, my brother moved out of the house. He would still come pick me up for school every morning. I would also pass him in the hallways at school. For a while, he was almost a stranger. It was also at that time that I realized what he had done for me. It made me want to be closer to him. When the opportunity came up to live with him while he was going to Texas A&M, I jumped at it.

It was during this time that we stopped being brothers, and became a part of a true Brotherhood. A friendship and relationship that nothing could get in the way of. Which is why just before 3:00 AM on November 11, 1999 I jumped out of bed with no questions, got dressed, and ran out of the apartment.

We rode together, mostly in silence, to where bonfire once stood to see thousands of Aggies pulling together, in the spirit of brotherhood ready to help. Ridicule was absent from that field. Spontaneous prayer was occurring.

The overwhelming question seemed to be “How can I help?”

As did many that night, we stayed for hours. Each person had little concern for their needs school/food/sleep and even work.

They were concerned for their brothers.

Were there things that were neglected? Absolutely.

Was this a distraction to the reason people were in the Bryan/College Station area? Debatable. Some were there to work, others were there to learn.

But me? I was there to experience brotherhood.

Here we are, 10 years later looking back and still debating the past and future of Aggie Bonfire. I know that there is no easy answer, and that I am completely biased. Truthfully, for nostalgic reasons I would like to see it come back. I know many speculate that the young men and women would want this to continue. I can’t begin to imagine what the parents must be going through. I don't know how to justify the deaths that occurred.

What I do know is that the legacy of those 12 young men and women is not gone.