Tuesday, December 31, 2013


holidays are meant to be spent having good times. celebration and fellowship with friends and most importantly family. my family has its traditions that have been going on for as long as i can remember.

the biggest traditions i can remember are christmas eve night we (my mom, dad, and sister) would venture to my mom's parents house and do our "christmas celebration" the night before. one gift i remember getting as a child was a siren radio. this thing was nothing extravagant. it could tune into the radio, blast a siren, and was a flashlight. i don't know why i particularly remember that present more than others.

the other traditions i remember involve my immediate family. we would wake up to stockings filled with candy and possibly toothbrushes. i always found it weird as a kid to get the poison and the antidote in the same package. my sister and i would usually be the first ones up but we always seemed to follow the unwritten rule to wait for our parents before opening the presents (i don't know of any family that allows their kids to begin opening presents the moment they wake). we would have a breakfast that consisted of all the breakfast meats, eggs, biscuits, and of course coffee. i didn't drink it as a kid though (actually i don't remember the season of my life when i began drinking coffee every morning). we would then move into the living room where we would read the christmas story out of luke and then begin singing christmas hymns...thats right i didn't say carols, i said hymns. this was my dad's grooming. i think it is safe to admit that my sister and i weren't to fond of this particular tradition.

the amount of songs we would sing changed every year. my dad actually had the old baptist hymnals that carried EVERY christmas song imaginable, so we couldn't escape with excuses of not knowing the words. the moment we were able to pressure him into only singing one more song, we usually gave that one all we had, you know, in order to honor him.

looking back, i grasp, not really the value of singing christmas songs, i don't think my dad was doing it so that we could improve our singing capabilities. rather, i see now something that a dad, a father, longs to build within his family unit...a tradition.

a tradition that can be identified by his marking; that can be labeled as "what we do." everyone has theirs, and i love mine as a little lowrie/brister boy growing up. i found myself in that moment this year.

we had our first real, lowrie, family christmas, just me, liz and the boys. i woke up, and thought to myself, "oh my gosh, what am i going to do?" i found myself cleaning up spills, taming zealousness, and helping liz clean up after breakfast and knew that we needed our tradition. dutch is 6! titus is 4! they need something to hold onto for the rest of their life that would cement inside that they were ours for the holidays. traditions do this very thing...the sense of belonging. it's all a working progress. all my have their unique individuality that they bring to the tree.

in a time of questioning and redefining; concern about what we have always done and whether or not should we change it up for the sake of change, i hope that the sense of tradition is never altered. those traditions are what we build on and will continue to build on whether or not we keep them or not. traditions are these sacred icons and for most of us they are our dna. removing that tradition would be like removing a pound of flesh. i think there is a good time for new traditions. i carry the value of tradition because my dad never relented on singing those christmas hymns even when we may have damaged his sense of self worth (for the record it was mostly stephanie who didn't want to sing). because of that i am so eager to continue on a tradition...but a new one, with my family.

Monday, December 23, 2013

forget helping yourself

really! there's no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. 
the cost of rescue is beyond our means…
psalm 49:7-8 (msg)

according to a report from clinical professor of psychology at the university of denver dr. jim taylor, the self help industry is a $10 billion a year industry. this means that at this very moment, around the world, people are spending hard earned money on everything from self-esteem issues to becoming a better leader. this is an alarming message that is consistent with the testimony of the millennia of mankind's existence…our heart is not healthy.

a texas proverb from an unknown author once said, "if all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you ever got." that is wisdom. now for those who aren't able to understand "texas" wisdom it can be said another way, "you can't get different results by doing the same thing."

this is the ironic observation one can make of the whole entire self help industry. it is the same thing that has been said the same way, just packaged differently, hoping that it would produce different results. the message is simple, yet very VERY old…"you can heal your own heart."

this was the lie that the enemy told eve and adam in the garden. essentially, you are not in need of a savior; you can get along fine without someone guiding you.

if you'll notice how satan uses his approach, it is all centered around a sensual game within the mind. he loves battling us in the mind in order to gain control of the heart. the heart is a sacred place that was designed to be the habitation of the lord. and consequently, this is why jesus is still relevant to our day…because he always addresses the heart and is never about a simple, surface-level, behavior modification.

consider the command from the lord through the wisdom of solomon in proverbs 4:23-27 (nasb):
watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you. let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. do not turn to the right nor the left; turn your foot from evil.

the heart can be protected and guarded from the attack of the enemy. protection occurs when one intentionally observes the mouth, eyes, and the path of the feet.

consider what the bible says about the mouth/tongue
-proverbs 6:12
-proverbs 18:21
-james 1:26
-1 peter 3:10
you may be unable to control your thoughts, but your mouth is something you can vigilantly watch. may you use your tongue to proclaim, and declare the great things of the lord.

consider what the bible says about the eyes
-proverbs 28:22
-matthew 6:22-23
we are creatures of distraction, especially my american brethren. we are easily moved by gadgets and gizmos. our fancy turns quickly toward that which entertains our mind. keep the eye fixed and avoid "all sideshow distractions."

consider what the bible says about the foot/path
-psalm 121:3
-matthew 18:8
the literal meaning of the word "established" is the word for an incapability to contradict. keep moving your feet towards jesus and the path becomes established, or incapable of contradicting. you will be firmly sure of your path. we need that conviction more than anything these days…a confirmed course.

all of this is worked and perfected in christ, as you observe his life in the gospels you will notice that not once did he move from his mission. not for personal gain, not for the sake of anyone's feelings, and not for proving to anyone the reality of god did he shift focus. all the way to the cross, so that you might partake in his suffering with him AND the life and freedom he purchased for you to have.

Monday, December 16, 2013

nothing of coincidence

most of us have heard our whole lives that we carry purpose, we have a calling, we are destined for greatness. as i encounter the up and coming generation my concern isn't with them not receiving this message. if you have never been told you were created with a plan and there is a vision for your life, may i be the first to confirm that.

my desire is not the message, whether it is being communicated or not, but what the recipients of the message are doing with that message.

paul addresses the romans…
the god who made the world and all things in it, since he is lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with human hands; nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek god, if perhaps they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us; for in him we live and move and exist… (acts 17:24-28).

one danger we face, walking towards our calling, is the motivations that fall outside the providence of god. scripture says, "in him we live and move and exist." there is a constant temptation to move forward in our destiny with it being fed motivation to fulfill our purpose with selfish desires. i hear this message to follow your heart and do something about your life so frequently in the current selection of songs rotating around the music industry. these teachers of fame and fortune give us the impression that the chief goal in reaching our destination looks glamorous and appealing; it must be tangible. don't believe the lie, instead recognize that as partakers of the divine nature (2 pet. 1:4) the destiny god has planned can't be measured the way the world measures.

another danger is the complacent attitude of doing nothing at all. please consider a great threat to your purpose not only in you doing the wrong thing but just as much in you doing nothing at all. as god has called and gifted according to his purpose we move towards this purpose by preparing ourselves; showing ourselves approved 2 cor 10:18. mordecai, cousin to esther says, "who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this."god has determined our appointed time on the earth and our boundaries of habitation. this simply means, nothing is of coincidence but everything is of providence. to be complacent is to further a damaging conclusion on the question of god's involvement with his creation and dismiss it as coincidence.

Monday, December 9, 2013

tax the rich

i've become quite a good hand gesture-er. no, not "that" gesture, but flailing arms and pointing violently. some might say i am a very good power-point-presenter ; )

i notice it more when i am driving. living in belgium, you get used to really having to look for parking spots. so, during this, the holiday season, emotions run high, energy is maximized, and patience is very
i went shopping for the boys last wednesday. the boys have st. nicolas day on the 6th, their birthday on the 10th, and christmas right around the corner. so liz and i prefer to get all this done in one sweep of a day, if we can. we covered 5 stores in less than 2 hours, much of that is because i shop fast.

because i am so clever and could figure out how to make everyone happy, i think those making above a certain standard income should either
1. hire someone to do their shopping for them, or
2. shop online.
please, rich people, for the love of the holiday season, don't bring your i-deserve-to-be-in-front-of-every-line attitude to the stores where us poor people are use to having to wait for service. you in the midst of us commoners, displaying disgust and frustration, only makes it worse for us. we can contribute to impatience on our own we don't need anymore help.

i know that if we work together to enforce this reform the christmas season would be enjoyable for ALL of us. think about it, if the rich were taxed…
1. it would create jobs for people to work for them doing their shopping
2. could also reduce the amount of traffic in stores, parking lots, and roads
3. enable the poor people to get through the lines faster
4. increase revenue for online businesses

it's a win win for EVERYONE. it's what santa would want for us, and it will only improve the lives of our children's children. unless of course, you are not excited about your kids having children.

Monday, December 2, 2013

are they the one? (2/2)

alright ladies and gentlemen if you would return to your seats, fasten your seat belts, put your tray tables up and make sure that all seats are in their upright position…

lets land this thing. in genesis 24:13-14 we find the servant that was in charge of looking for a wife for isaac did not just walk up to any random woman in the land. he set some qualifications, AND even after these qualifications were set verse 21 tells us that the man waited patiently to see if this was god's choice.

i love that even after qualifications were met the bible goes on to tell us that he waited patiently to be sure, waiting on the lord. in the church we often just fall for any one that makes their way into the building because, if they are there, then they are of god. with this as a guideline for pursuits you will find yourself learning the hard way from experience. save yourself time and energy…don't learn the hard way.

these are the characteristics that the "plane" should land for further pursuit.

1. humility/willingness to serve
of course the bible gives us much when it comes to being humble and serving others but it goes into humility even more specifically as it describes the roles of a husband and a wife. these are very important qualities to find in a spouse. how do they get along with people less fortunate than them? how do they get along with people more fortunate than them? are they able to live in peace with people that they are not in agreement with? how do they treat you and your desires? don't just assume that people who are married prefer one another. if they are dealing with pride before marriage, it will not magically change after you say "i do."

2. sexual purity
the best thing you can give your spouse is your virginity. paul and the author of hebrews talk about the issues of being sexually involved with people outside the covenant of marriage (1 cor. 6, gal 5, heb. 13). it is not merely for the sake of withholding something that is very pleasurable. pursuing one another intimately in the wrong context will bear fruit in a later season that will not prove to be satisfying. there is a standard society sets and then there is the standard that the maker of the universe set which should ALWAYS supersede the former. pursuing each other intimately can still happen in the context of dating and engagement, it's called conversation, communication, dialogue, talking to each other. don't fall for the lie that you must find sexual compatibility before marriage to understand if the marriage will work sexually. i want to also add that i know there are many who have been sexually intimate with another person before marriage. this however, is not a license to continue on in sexual impurity. start today, living pure, saving yourself for someone else who is also saving themselves for you.

3. right priorities
don't think that just because someone is a christian, has a trust in god, and has character that they are for you. there are people who are pursuing god's purposes in their life, which means they are working to show themselves approved for his calling. for some this means a lot of education, time, or even an amount of dedication to a particular geographical region. this means if you are pursuing someone and wanting to know if they are the one, it would be wisdom to find those priorities that are agreeable. you may not want to commit to a particular waiting period, or long distance relationship. priorities are something that one is committed to, whatever they are committed to they place value. ask yourself if you value that commitment. don't live in a relationship with unbiblical pressure because you are trying to like the same things in life, or you are trying to be committed to the same things as your partner.

4. right beliefs
very similar to right priorities, there are relationships that have potential to work well cross denominationally, but then they also can prove to be a massive headache. issues of theology and doctrine are important. you want to agree. it is not necessary to agree on how long a worship service should be but that you should at least have worship within a service. there are sensitive and dangerous theologies that have crept into the church that you should not take for granted just because you met your individual at the church young adult service. remember you are not just connecting with the person but with their parents and their parents' beliefs as well.

5. committed to the church
it is sad that this even has to be mentioned. there is a legitimate amount of believers who feel they can have a relationship with the lord, believe in him, trust him, and yet still not be active members in a local church. it is like me cutting my arm off of my body and that arm claiming still to be mine. yes it is, but it suffers from disembodiment; it has no function, and cannot operate as it is intended to. join yourself with an individual who goes to church. there are numerous blessings that god has instituted the church to give. blessings of a covering, accountability, protection, and a witness to rejoice with you as you walk out your relationship biblically. you will suffer and your relationships will suffer if you are attempting to handle them on your own. no one was meant to be alone.

6. self control
the book of proverbs says that a person without self control is like a house with its windows and doors knocked out (25:28). this would not be a safe house to live in. no one, in their right mind would venture to move into this house. when you join yourself with this person you are consenting to those things they give themselves to. by joining with someone who lacks self control you yourself are consenting to this behavior; behavior that is extreme and could go one way one day and another way the next. be vigilant in addressing issues of control which may also reveal issues of addiction. alcoholism, sexual addiction, gambling, drugs, anger, depression, low self esteem, etc. all can be fought, but they must be acknowledged and battled. 

7. responsible
i don't remember where i read this first but it went something like this…"the bills can't be paid with promises of love." true, scripture talks about love being essential in our bond with our spouse; choose it, walk in it, cherish it, nourish it. understand that love, like a field, must be harvested, must be tilled, must be plowed, and must be fertilized. this means love will take work, lots of hard work. the bible speaks to a lazy person and there pursuits, the desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work; all day long he is craving… (prov. 21:25-26). for the lazy their desires never vanish, they remain, he/she just shuts them up with laziness. these desires eventually ruin the person. your promises of love are really nothing without a plan, and that plan is nothing without work. what is your plan in being single? what is your plan in dating? what is your plan in the engagement? what is you plan in marriage?

8. good relationship with parents
there are relationships we choose and relationships we have no way of choosing, like family. god has chosen for you, your parents. i am aware that not everyone has a beautiful and loving relationship with their mother and father. however, please allow communication to come and go from mom and dad. i am not saying they should choose for you, but involve them in the process of selection. they are meant to give an account for you as they are stewarding you through life. your selection of a spouse is best understood in the context of a cloud of witnesses. if parents are strongly opposed to being involved then include a strong friend that can encourage you and correct you in areas that you are blind. perhaps this would be a monumental opportunity to open the door of healing between you and your father or mother as you extend the invitation for a blessing on your marriage. remember ladies, the way he treats his mother is the way he will one day treat you. men, does she respect and honor her father? i hope so, for your sake in the future.

wrestle with these things
contemplate these things
deal with these things
do not move forward without addressing those convictions that are important to you. marriage can be a way of healing two selfish individuals who do not know how to give love unconditionally, if jesus' glory is your aim.

here is an exercise you can try on your own. taking 1 cor. 13:4-8, the love chapter, and substituting your name whenever you see the word "love." do the same for the individual you are interested in pursuing.

____ is patient
____ is kind
____ is not jealous
____ does not brag
____ is not arrogant
____ is not rude
____ does not seek his/her own
____ is not easily angered
____ does not keep a record of wrongs
____ does not delight in evil
____ rejoices in the truth
____ protects
____ trusts
____ hopes
____ perseveres
____ never fails

you will not meet a perfect person on this earth. standards are good for us as we move forward in relationships that will influence our walk with god. marriage is a significant decision. it is appropriate to note that some people battle issues their whole life. walk with someone knowing they are desiring to battle and wrestle with issues they know to be detrimental to the relationship. it is one thing to know your weaknesses and another to know them and wrestle with them in view of a heart of repentance.