30 December 2007

12 Ways to Look for God in 2008

As promised, here are all 12 ways that I would have loved to had the time to address in worship this morning.


1. Read the Bible like a Novel
Bible has all the necessary pieces of great literature: plot, character development, drama, song, love, violence, a savior, redemption, etc. Read the Bible as ONE story this year – not as a bunch of stories put together into one volume. See the thread of God’s love woven throughout the whole narrative

2. Hit up Blockbuster
Pay attention to themes like forgiveness, redemption, atonement, the search for love, the call for justice, or the protection of the innocent. Biblical themes are present in movies even if the writers did not intend to put them there. So go ahead and look a the movies you watch through God’s lens and see if you see something new in an old favorite.

3. Tune in…
Turn your radio dials away from KLTY and you’ll be surprised at what you find. Surprised in a good way! There are plenty of artists in the mainstream arena who are using their music to express their longing for the Divine.

God can be found in all kinds of music we listen to. Listen for themes of God’s grace, for an artist’s searching questions of faith.

4. Say, “Cheers!”
Cheers was a show that brought together people from various backgrounds in a place that we call a “third space” – not a home and not a workplace, but a third place where life happens.

This year, take the time to get to know someone whose lifestyle, values or beliefs are different than yours. That is, be intentional about building a relationship with someone you’d likely never be drawn to naturally. Look for God in their story and be surprised by the potential crossing of your story lines.

5. Listen to Your Wife
How many times have you been in the middle of a conversation with your spouse and tuned out because they said something that you didn’t agree with? What if what they just said was exactly what you needed to hear, and you missed it because you were too proud to hear them out? This year, take the time to dial in for the whole conversation. What they have to say to you may be the very thing God has for you to learn in that moment about whatever is bothering you.

The next time you’re tempted to become defensive as you listen to your spouse, a friend, a peer, a child or your boss… stop. Ask: is God speaking to me through this person?

6. Meet Joe, the Mechanic
How many strangers do we encounter on a daily basis? How many of them have a story that they would love to tell, if we would take the time to listen and get to know them? Probably all of them. This year, be intentional about getting to know the people with whom you come in contact with on a regular basis – the barista at Starbucks, the auto mechanic whom you trust to take care of your vehicle, or the grocery store checker who rings up your groceries.

There are people we encounter every day who seem to be fine people, but are they really merely a means to get through our day? We have an agenda – they help us or they frustrate us. But what if we paused long enough to take genuine interest in them – even for a moment? Jesus says when we do, it’s the same as honoring him.

7. Make a Run for Borders
Read the Bible for sure – start there, but don’t end there. Look for God’s truth in everything you read. Read the stories of others’ search for God, read their encounters with God. Read their discoveries, their findings, their questions. Discover where your life can benefit from what they have learned. Find out where their learnings can impact your life and faith. Ask some of the same questions and see what answers you come up with.

8. Break out!
Take some time this year to see the possibilities of taking new routes in life – perhaps they will provide the catalyst for the change you have been longing for in your life. What if you stopped seeing the same scenery each day and started seeing the subtle signs of God’s work and presence in your life? Try a new road to work. Try shopping at a new store. Try a new drink at Starbucks. Try listening to a new radio station. Just do something new to break out of your routine. And see where God is along the way!

9. Find a Catch 22
This year, find a question in life that does not have an easy answer (or any answer at all) and really wrestle with it. Mull it over. Think it through. Take it to its different logical conclusions and see how each one affects your faith, theology, and/or life.

Live in the tension of not knowing an answer. Live in the tension of not being able to put all your questions into neat and tidy little boxes that fit on the shelves in your closet. Grapple with the messiness of life. Struggle with the inconsistencies of humanity. And learn to trust God more along the way, because he’s the only one with the answers. Allow the questions to lead you past the answer to God himself.

10. Forget the Umbrella
The next time you have to make a choice between playing it safe and walking in the danger zone…forget the umbrella. Take a risk. Chance it. Step out. Stand in a fountain, sing on the street, order something different next time you eat out. Start that new business. Volunteer for the first time.

You never know what might happen when you are willing to risk it all. You never know what God will bless in your life until you are willing to give up control over it and hand it to him. He has your life in the palm of his hand and he wants you to experience a life that is full, not flat.

Follow Jesus into the wild. He was the king of the rebels. He never did anything that people expected. He was always breaking the rules and seeing how little the people around him were willing to risk for God’s kingdom.

11. Carpe Diem
Every day we are on this earth is a blessing from God. Take the time this year to seize each of those blessings. There are things that God has uniquely gifted you to do on this earth and every moment wasted is an opportunity lost. Embrace every opportunity.

Look for God in every person, every circumstance, every scene. Look for God in the people you know well. Look for God in the stranger. Look for God when a new situation arises. Look for God when the familiarities of life overtake you. Look for God everywhere. Seize the day. Every day.

12. Radical Hospitality
Practice reaching out to every new face you see at church. If they are an unfamiliar face to you it doesn’t matter how long they have been here – one day or ten years – they deserve to enjoy worship and perhaps make a new friend or two.

Greet guests and members with the same friendliness and warmth. When the people who come through our doors know that everyone gets treated the same, no matter where they are on their faith journey, then they will tell their friends.

Park at Marcus. A guest will need the extra time that a close parking spot affords them.

Stop pointing. If someone asks you for directions to a particular location within the church, don’t just point and say “walk down that hall, go around the corner, look for the fish wall, and turn right.” That is not helpful! At all!! Take them where they need to go. Talk with the person along the way. Get to know them a little. They will thank you for the attention and they will get to where they are going much faster than if they were to go it alone.

Look for God in our “guest experience” and find ways to show that people matter to us and to God.

27 December 2007

EDIT: For 200th Post

I was reading an article in Fast Company about thinking inside the box (as opposed to outside the box) when trying to be creative and I wondered if my earlier post was too outside the box without the necessary limits. So I am going to offer some limits to what I will post about in the famous Post #200.

Here are your choices:
  1. Body Piercing/Tattoos
  2. Secular Music in Worship
  3. Church Leadership in the 21st Century
  4. Radical Hospitality

Just vote for the one you would like me to blog about...if you're good I might do a multi-part series on that topic.

25 December 2007

Tuesday Night Reflections

Yesterday was just an amazing time of worship and celebration! Of our 4 services, I attended two (4 and 9pm) and preached one (11pm). I must say that our worship team went out of their way to make sure that everything went off without a hitch. Although we had a few hiccups along the way, I do believe that all 3700+ people who attended were presented with the gospel.

Dina did a great job with the Children's service. There was the steady hum of children throughout the whole service, but things moved quickly and Madilyn and Grant did a great job with the drama.

At 9pm, the choir, orchestra, bells, and Shiloh Quartet performed magnificently. Joe preached a great message. (FYI - I thought he stole my notes because some of the things he said sounded eerily familiar to what I was going to say at 11pm.)

The Rockin' Christmas Eve service lived up to its name because the band was HOT and the preacher didn't do half bad either. I thought that the all the flipping elements we put into the service carried the theme well. I must say that watching and listening to Reign play "Christmas Eve Sarajevo" just took my breath away. My feet were pounding to the rhythm and the whole group was spot on the whole time. And to watch people pull out their cell phones at the end as we sang the last verse of Silent Night was AWESOME! (We recorded this part and we hope to post it to YouTube soon...I'll add the link when it becomes available.)

Overall, kudos to the whole worship team for making Trietsch's celebration of Jesus' birthday one for the record books.


Merry Christmas 2007

Many times throughout 2007 I have fallen into the trap of being married to the office rather than my wife. And since I work in a church it makes that even worse in my mind...because I should know better, right?

Therefore, I wrote this letter to Deb and gave it to her as her "big present" for Christmas this year. I really wanted to make sure that she understood that I want to be a husband and father that makes her proud. That I want to be the man that God has called me to be. That I don't want to squander the gift of her presence in my life. She is the mother of our sweet Caitlyn and I don't want to lose either one of them to my own thoughtlessness.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy this time with your family and friends and let them know how much you care about them because you never know how much time you have with them. Right Perry?

I thought long and hard about what to get you for Christmas this year. I wanted to get you something that would best express my devotion and love for you. As I wandered the malls and gazed at the glittering window displays, I realized that the best gift that I could give you would not be found at the mall. I realized that I couldn’t buy it anywhere. The best gift that I could give you has no monetary value attached to it, but it is costly.

This Christmas, I want to give you priority in my life. I want you to be first person to have dibs on my calendar. I want you and Caitlyn to never wonder where my heart longs to be. This year, I want to give you my time.

I want to do this in very specific and tangible ways. You are a planner. You like to look ahead and to see what is coming around the corner before it’s so close the only thing we can do is emotionally react to the oncoming event. I want to honor that wonderful part about you by giving you the opportunity to plan 12 Saturdays for us in 2008 that will be unbreakable commitments. No church stuff. No last minute plan changes. Just you, me and Caitlyn spending time together as a family. If you wish to use one of these Saturdays to have some alone time or some mother/daughter bonding time, then that is great. Again, these Saturdays are unbreakable commitments on my part – nothing will come up to ruin them.

I would also like to give you 4 weekends (Friday through Sunday) during 2008 that will be unbreakable commitments to you and Caitlyn as well. These weekends can be used for trips to San Antonio as a family, a visit to the Arboretum, or whatever else you may want to do. As with the Saturdays above, you may use these weekends to get away with your girlfriends or your Mom – they are totally of your choosing and unbreakable commitments on my end.

Just so you know, these Saturdays and weekends through out 2008 are on top of any vacation(s) we may take during the year. These are special times where you have the right to set the agenda as far in advance as needed and I will say ‘no’ to any conflicting appointments.

As I said before, this gift is about time. It’s about priority. It’s about putting my family first in everything that happens in my life, because you and Caitlyn really are my life. This gift did not cost me a dime, but I have a feeling that seeing this gift brought to fruition will be the best investment I could ever make in you, in Caitlyn, and in our family.

With all my love,


24 December 2007

Blogging Suggestions

I am only a few posts away from post #200 and I wanted to see what my reader(s) wanted that milestone post to be about. If you have suggestions, go ahead and post a comment here and I'll see what I can do to accommodate your thoughts.


Rehearsal Reflections

Rehearsal for worship tonight went pretty well last night. There were a few hiccups, but nothing that we couldn't overcome with a few moments of strategic thought. I am ready to preach the gospel, the band is ready to rock the house, and the dramatic pieces of the service will greatly enhance the meaning of the message. I am very glad we had rehearsal yesterday and I hope that it is a practice that we can add to our weekly routine once John comes on board in January.

As I was running through the transitions in my message so that the band would know when to come in with the songs we have planned, I found myself not wanting to give away pieces of the message for fear that they would lose impact tonight...I didn't want to spoil it for them...we'll see if that comes true or not.

See you tonight at 11pm!


23 December 2007

Tomorrow's the "Big Day"

It's hard to believe that Christmas Eve is only a few hours away...it's even harder to believe that the calendar will turn from 2007 to 2008 in less than 8 days.

I am really pumped about preaching at 11pm tomorrow and I hope that you can come out to see us flip Christmas on its head. I was able to get passed my mind block and finish my sermon, so now all that's left is to work on memorizing it so that I don't have any notes to worry about.

See you on the "Big Day"!


21 December 2007

Mind Block

I never thought it would be so hard to come up with a sermon to preach on Christmas Eve, but the combined factors of "everyone knows the story" and "there are people who are only here twice a year" seems to be jamming my creativity.

I know what I want to say and I know how I am going to illustrate it, but getting that out of my head and on to the paper is proving much more challenging than I had originally anticipated. Your prayers are appreciated!

I will get this message finished and ready to preach, so if you are available, come out to Trietsch for the 11:00pm "Rockin' Christmas Eve" service on Monday!


20 December 2007

Top Quotes of 2007

"Don't Tase Me, Bro!" was voted the most memorable quote of 2007. I don't even remember hearing this quote when it first happened, but since then it has come up in numerous conversations and radio broadcasts...pretty funny!

Here is the article from Yahoo! News about the whole list (including that incredibly lucid response from Miss Teen S. Carolina). Enjoy!


19 December 2007

Funny Imprints

If I ever wanted proof that kids are sponges, then Caitlyn's most recent "acquisition" seals the deal...

She has begun to lick her fingers before turning the pages in her books or before getting a new flash card or even before moving to a different page in her coloring books! It is hilarious...and the best part is that Deb and I don't even do that! She learned it from the teachers at her daycare! She is watching them close enough to see them turn pages in books or sort through the daily report sheets that they complete for each of the kids in her class.

I'll try to get a picture of it and post it here because it will make you smile (and possibly laugh out loud). It is so funny to watch her slather her finger with spit just to turn the page in a board book. She did it again this morning with her flash cards and Deb and I about fell over laughing.

Gotta love kids!


Quick (8 Minute) History Lesson

Once again, Betty sent me a great link on YouTube. I wanted to share it here because I saw Wintley Phipps at Catalyst in October and he did a great job enlightening 11,000 Christian leaders about the origins of one of the greatest spiritual songs in the world. Watch and be blessed!

Let's hope that a better understanding of where we came from will help us not to make the same mistakes our forefathers (and mothers) made!


12 December 2007

Experiment Over

After 3 nights of falling out of the bed, getting out of her room, and generally not getting much sleep because there ended up being a 2 year old in between us, I put the front crib rail back on Caitlyn's bed last night. She still ended up spending a couple hours with us last night, but at least it wasn't because she fell out of her bed and woke up screaming...she just woke up from a bad dream.

I think we are headed to BabiesRUs to look at toddler beds this weekend. Pray for us!


09 December 2007


An experiment took place in our house last night...and it didn't go very well. Now that Caitlyn is 2, we decided to go ahead and take the front panel of her crib off so that it can function as a pseudo-daybed (aka "big girl bed"). She spent the majority of her usual wind-down time hopping around her room, on and off the bed, and singing whatever song came to her. It was funny, but not very relaxing.

Once she fell asleep, I placed her in the bed and prayed that she would stay there the rest of the night. Thirty minutes later, she rolled out of bed and began an attempt to open her door - she was crying.

Debbie went into Caitlyn's room to calm her down and put her back to sleep. I started some work on the computer. When I finished what I was doing I went to check on them, but they were not in Caitlyn's room, they were in our room sound asleep. I took Caitlyn to her room and again lifted a prayer that she would stay in bed the rest of the night. At 4am I woke up to the sound of our bedroom door opening and Caitlyn strolling in - this time she was laughing and smiling, very proud of what she just accomplished.

Bottom line: This experiment failed. We'll see what tonight holds for us!


07 December 2007

Merry Truckin' Christmas

Last night when I was driving home from Bible study, I saw this truck that was all decked out for Christmas! He had colored lights outlining the bed of the truck with light-up candy canes sticking out of the bed. There was even a net of lights across the back window of the cab! It was hilarious...I only wish that I could have snapped a picture of it to post here. Oh well!

Merry Christmas!


Talking with the New Pastor

This afternoon I met with John Allen, the newly appointed Sr. Pastor here at Trietsch, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. He asked about what I was currently doing, what I would be doing if I could write my ultimate job description, and even gave me a bit of homework to complete.

As we sat in McAlister's Deli eating muffaletas and drinking iced tea, we talked about the current state of adult education at Trietsch. I explained to him about all the different kinds of groups that exist at Trietsch and who held responsibility for them. We talked about how the church could move ahead in starting/developing new small groups with some increased intentional efforts. Overall, I had a great time getting to know him a little bit better, and spending that time with him put to rest some of the reservations that had been in the back of my head recently.

Thanks for your time John!