Category: Four Horsemen (Page 2 of 6)

Who Stands Fast?

“Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God — the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas Eve 1942

The life of a disciple is active, not reactive. It has nothing to do with just talking about faith or teaching religious principles or believing theological ideas or keeping biblical rules. It has everything to do with living one’s whole life in obedience to God’s call through personal action. It doesn’t just require a mind. It requires a body, too.

Ours is a life given to us by God to be lived not in some kind of rigid, cramped, crowded, small, compromised, legalistic way but in a full, wild, joyful, exuberant, cheerful, celebratory way. A way that apprehends and assimilates and then radiates the freedom we have from God in Christ.

The way I see it, a full grasp of the freedom we have in Christ and the grace and mercy we’ve received from our God will come to mean, eventually,  that we are no longer afraid of sin. We’re not worried about messing up. We don’t hold back because of an anxiety over doing something that might displease our God. At the very least — stay with me here — avoiding sin will not be the main thing that drives us as we follow our Lord.

Our Father wants his beloved children to operate out of joy and freedom to do what is good and right, not out of fear of making a mistake. Isn’t that one of the great lessons in Jesus’ story about the servants and the talents in Matthew 25?

We must be more zealous to please God than to avoid sin. We must act in faith that our God who calls us to live boldly and outrageously for him also promises us that if and when we do mess up in enthusiastic service to our King, he promises forgiveness and consolation and salvation.

The Christian life is an active life. Our God calls us to give our whole selves to him. Brakes off. No looking back. Full speed ahead. He’s not going to punish us when, in pursuit of his will, we might mess up.


Last Sunday’s sermon on Christ’s return from Revelation 21-22 prompted many, many kind comments and encouragements from dozens of my brothers and sisters here at Legacy. Many had never thought about heaven and earth and God’s ultimate mission in the ways Scripture so plainly paints it. Many seemed refreshed at the biblical promises that God’s will is ultimately going to be done on earth just as it is in heaven. That’s why we’re told to pray it, right? And that’s why we join it. The mission. The salvation objective. Those are the things we’re going to be considering together during Missions Month throughout March.

In a related item, Patrick Mead has posted a hilarious re-cap of all the individuals and groups throughout history who have predicted the return of Christ and the end of the world. Of course, mankind has a 100% fail rate in this useless undeavor. But the list is hilarious. I especially like the parenthetical comments in his list. One mentions the possibility that Van Halen may be the anti-Christ which may or may not, combined with Orwells’ vision, have led to the speculation about the year 1984. There’s a group called the Sword of God Brotherhood that is claiming the end of the world will come in 2017. They say that they alone will be spared and tasked to repopulate the earth. Here’s hoping there’s a Sword of God Sisterhood, too.

You can read the complete list by clicking here.


I’m 24 hours away from my annual camping trip with my Four Horsemen friends. A weekend of encouragement, prayer, meditation, food, bonding, and at least one unforeseen near-catastophic incident to remember forever. These are the guys. These are the ones. They are my closest friends. They keep me going. They keep me accountable. They challenge me and they exhort me. They mature me in our faith. They inspire me to be a better man, a better husband and dad, a better preacher, a better disciple. Even while we’re throwing rocks at raccoons and making fun of Dan’s always-on survival mode, Jason’s tough guy facade (what a fake!), and Kevin’s wardrobe.

I can’t wait.



Forgetting the Point

Dietrich Bonhoeffer inspires me. I’ve been fascinated by Bonhoeffer since the day Michael Weed introduced me to the Christian author, theologian, and martyr in a theology class at Austin Grad a little over five years ago. Bonhoeffer moves me. Not just because he wrote about true discipleship to Jesus, not just because he preached against the cheap grace he saw accepted and practiced in the Church, and not just because he talked all the time about the ultimate lordship and reign of Christ. Bonhoeffer moves me because he so truly lived it. He embodied it. He gave his life for it.

So I pay attention to Bonhoeffer. He was real. He put his very life on the line for what he preached and wrote about commitment to Jesus and God’s salvation mission in the world. As Paschal once noted, “I tend to believe the witnesses who get their throats cut.” Me, too.

It’s been almost three weeks since I finished reading Eric Metaxas’ hefty biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I’ve spent several hours since going back over the things I’ve highlighted, re-reading the pages I’ve marked up, trying desperately to will the words and the passion of this great man into my very soul.

There’s so much I want to share with you from this book. His writings about the Church sound as if they were penned yesterday. His understanding of the Gospel is as clear as if he were at those resurrection meals with Jesus. His call for true discipleship to our Lord is challenging. Convicting.


Allow me to give you a taste.

Bonhoeffer was greatly troubled by the secularization he saw in the Church. The focus, as he saw it, wasn’t as much on the central Christian doctrines of forgiveness and grace, sanctification and discipleship, resurrection and justice as it was on progress and success, relevancy and status. Note how his observations about the big churches in New York City, written when he was at Union Theological Seminary in 1930, ring just as true today.

“In the place of the church as the congregation of believers in Christ there stands the church as a social corporation. Anyone who has seen the weekly program of one of the large New York churches, with their daily, indeed almost hourly events, teas, lectures, concerts, charity events, opportunities for sports, games, bowling, dancing for every age group, anyone who has heard how they try to persuade a new resident to join the church, insisting that you’ll get into society quite differently by doing so, anyone who has become acquainted with the embarrassing nervousness with which the pastor lobbies for membership — that person can well assess the character of such a church. All these things, of course, take place with varying degrees of tactfulness, taste, and seriousness; some churches are basically ‘charitable’ churches; others have primarily a social identity. One cannot avoid the impression, however, that in both cases they have forgotten what the real point is.”

Ah, the point. What is the point? What is God’s mission for his Church? What do we aim for? What do we live for? What’s the goal? What’s the point?

To seek and to save the lost. To bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. To release the captives and set the prisoners free. To proclaim and to live in the truth that God in Christ has defeated the dark forces of sin and death and Satan and is right now making his dwelling place among us, renewing and restoring all of creation, reconciling the world to himself in righteous relationship so that we will be his people and he will eternally be our God.

It’s hard work. It’s dirty work. It’s grimy and messy. It requires muscle and sweat and blood and tears. It takes great sacrifice. It takes every ounce of everything you’ve got.

But that is the point. Let’s not ever forget the point.


Today is my great friend Dan Miller’s 50th birthday. In honor of Dan, let’s all repair our cars with duct tape and twistie ties and order extra cheese. On everything.

Happy birthday, Dan. I love you, brother. You mean the world to me.


God Bless His Preachers

“The thread of our speech comes alive through the very joy we take in what we are speaking about.” ~Augustine

Some of my early Sunday morning alone time with God is spent thanking him for his preachers. As I prepare to do again what so many have done before, what so many are doing even as I’m praying, what so many more will do long after I’m gone, I praise our Father for their courage and boldness and commitment to our God and his Kingdom.

I ask our Lord to bless all the preachers I know with wisdom and fire. I ask him to speak through them to his people all over the world. I thank God for the preachers in the past who have taught me and shaped me: Burt, Jim, Willis, Rick, Doug. I thank him for the ones I listen to today who mold my theology and challenge my thinking: Terry, Buddy, Don, Patrick. I thank him for some of my best friends who are preachers: Jason, Jim, Charlie. I thank him for the preachers right here in Tarrant County who share with me their wisdom and friendship and encouragement: Eric, Rick, Jim, Larry, Grady, Robert. I thank him for those who are preaching in other lands, who’ve given up everything to answer our Lord’s call: David, Corey, Salvador.

And today I ask God to bless my great friend Jason as he preaches with our church family at Legacy.  May he deliver to our brothers and sisters at Legacy this morning just half the encouragement and wisdom he regularly delivers to me.



Four Horsemen Ride Again!

“In a good friendship each member often feels humility towards the rest. He sees that they are splendid and counts himself lucky to be among them.” ~C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

(Regular readers of this blog know about the Four Horsemen. If you’re brand new, if you need a refresher, or if you just want to read something really cool about how God has used and is using four men with one another and for the Kingdom click here.)

Four HorsemenMy three greatest friends and I go camping together every year on the last weekend in February. It seems to be the one weekend that all four of us can consistently get away. Late February is far enough after the holidays and the start of the year and far enough before the madness of the spring to be just perfect. The odd date is also good for guaranteeing that we’re going to be the only ones at the campgrounds. Some years it’s sunny and in the 60s. Some years we nearly freeze to death. Yesterday Dan sent us all a picture of the National Weather Center’s weekend forecast for East Texas. Looks like it’s going to be perfect!

 Tyler Weather

This weekend we will pray together. And laugh. And argue. And eat. Somebody will almost get hurt really badly. We’ll talk about our families, our churches, our struggles, our triumphs. At some point the raccoons will get brave enough to go for an open bag of chips on the table. We’ll ask for advice and listen patiently to advice that’s unsolicited. Dan will encourage. Kevin will challenge. Jason will connect it all back to our God. And I’ll be thinking to myself the entire time, “Why can’t I be more like these guys?”

Our annual Four Horsemen Advance is regularly one of the best weekends of my life. We are all four so different. And I think we each genuinely appreciate the uniqueness in one another. We see very clearly the goodness in each other. And we recognize easily that it comes from beyond us. I have no doubt that our God brought us together for his divine purposes. And I thank him for that.

Jason and Dan and Kevin are splendid, indeed. And I am lucky to be among them.

Have a great weekend,


In The Garden

“He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.” ~Mark 14:33

GethsemaneWhat happened that night in the olive grove at Gethsemane? What transpired there? Jesus is meeting a tremendous trial, he’s facing a gruesome horror, he’s fighting intense temptation. And he does not do it stoically. He does it biblically. Loudly. With tears and sweat. And honest lament. He lays his body and soul before God in complete honesty and trust and says, “Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.”

Jesus is facing the most severe test of his life. God is handing him the cup and demanding he drink it. Jesus’ physical and spiritual self — his mind and his body, his heart and his soul — none of him wants to do this. He shudders in horror at the Ceiling of Cave at Gethsemanemission before him. He dreads all of it. The pain. The torture. The death. Jesus is facing the terrible prospect of crucifixion. His Father is in the process of making him who had no sin to be sin for the world. Jesus is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. And he’s in turmoil.

Jesus wants another way. And he asks for it.

This is a horrible scene.

Jesus crying out to his Father — “Deliver Me!!” — and no dove descends, no voice from heaven says this is my Son. God has already spoken. And the Son must obey.

And he does.

“Not my will, but yours be done.”

OliveGardenAtGethsemanePerfect honesty. Total truthfulness. Complete trust. And a beautiful, matchless example of devotion and commitment and obedience to God. The perfect example of understanding God’s will, wrestling with the difficulty of carrying it out, demonstrating to us that asking God about it, even asking him to change it, is not inappropriate. It’s honorable. But through it all, we clearly see Jesus’ commitment to obey.

Jesus overcomes the silence. He fights off the temptation to do what he wants. And through open and honest prayer, he obeys the Father. At Gethsemane, we see both Jesus’ agony and his determination to do God’s will, even if it means his horrible death.

Praise God for the Savior’s love. And for his obedience to our Father’s will.


Early Saturday evening, while moving a water sprinkler in the back yard, I noticed a huge glob of bees congregated on the northeast corner of our house. The blob of bees was about two feet in length and 18-inches wide, probably 20-thousand bees according to the beekeeper I was forced to call.

He told me he would charge me $200 to remove the bees, $300 if they had actually gotten into the walls of the house, and $400 if I spray them or attempt to remove them myself first.

Needless to say, we had bees on the brains at Stanglin Manor Saturday night. So when a June bug flew into the kitchen and buzzed Valerie’s head toward the end of dinner, the terrified screams, I’m sure, set off car alarms in Haltom City.

Bees CloseUp  Beekeeper   

The beekeeper showed up at 7:30 yesterday morning. It was cold outside so the bees weren’t moving much. They had actually all clumped on top of each other instead of being all spread out the way they were in the evening. He put on his bee suit and used a tricked-out vacuum cleaner to suck them them all quickly and painlessly into a big white box. 15 minutes. Two-hundred dollars.

He says he does about 400 calls a year.

Valerie did the math. Now she wants to be a beekeeper.


Legacy’s 24 Hours of Prayer is set for September 18-19What a fantastic morning Saturday at the Eastridge Church in Rockwall. The Four Horsemen met at 7:00 for an hour of prayer in their beautiful worship center (having Mason, Jason’s oldest son, there to pray with us was an unexpected treat!). Seeing Dan on 24 hours of prayer and zero hours of sleep was interesting (actually, it’s not that different from seeing Dan any other time). And, for the first time ever, over-dressing at an event Kevin helped sponsor was a bit unsettling.

Jason and I had the great privilege of sharing breakfast with and then speaking to the men of Eastridge who had just completed a 24-hour period of continuous prayer. What a blessing! I love listening to these men recount the experiences of praying with one another for an hour or more over the needs of the congregation and the community. The unexpected tears. The overwhelming nature of the requests. The burden-bearing. The responsibility. The fellowship. The pouring out of hearts and souls to God. The bonding.

The same thing happened when we did this here at Legacy. And in Marble Falls. And in Mesquite. In fact, the 24 Hours of Prayer was one of the very first things we did as the Four Horsemen following that monumental breakfast at our house in 2001. We pledged to one another that morning to do more for Christ and for his Kingdom. We pledged to do more for the Mesquite congregation and the Mesquite community. We vowed to stop asking the elders for permission, to just start doing the things we knew needed to be done that would shape us all more into the image of Christ. The Second Saturday Servants. Feeding the homeless and hungry in downtown Dallas. The Men’s Advance. We didn’t ask for permission to do any of that. We just organized it and got the whole church to do it.

On Saturday, as we reflected with those men at Eastridge on that life-changing, earth-altering year for us, a year that saw a series of events that facilitated tremendous spiritual growth, Jason pointed out that now he and I both have to ask our elders permission before we do anything.



Parity has entered the world of NCAA tournament brackets at Stanglin Central. And it’s not pretty. Whitney unseated me as undefeated bracket champion in a tie-breaker following the final game last year. This year, Carrie-Anne has unceremoniously taken the crown even before the on-court title is decided. She finished with 72 points. Valerie was next wtih 71. Carley and I tied with 70. Whitney went from first to worst with 63. None of us has Carolina or Michigan State winning the whole thing. So we’re done. Congratulations, C-A.

There’s always next year. RangersLogo

Speaking of next year………Go Rangers!


Until I Come Back

“So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.” ~Luke 19:13

So the King gives his servants money and says, “Use these resources until I come back.” Put this money to good use. Make something out of it. The servants were to carry on the King’s business while he was gone. Continue doing what he himself would be doing if he were there. Working on his behalf. Taking initiative. Using the knowledge and experience they had acquired in their years of being associated with him as his servants to promote his interests. Here are the resources. Now take care of my business while I’m gone.

First thing the King does when he comes back is to call his servants in and ask them how it went. The first two had obviously been hard at work. They’d turned a pretty good profit using the King’s gifts. And they were praised and rewarded. (Luke 19:15-19)

The third guy’s brought into accounting and he says, “I didn’t do anything. I sat on it. I was afraid of you. I know you have high standards. I know you hate sloppiness. So I didn’t do anything.”

And then seven verses of harsh judgment from the King. “You wicked servant!”

Jesus’ last parable before he enters Jerusalem to face his death is a sobering one: non-participation is not a casual matter. However timid or meek it is, non-participation is disobedience. It’s sin.

This story is hard. It’s unrelenting. Doing nothing is not an option in the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God there are no non-participants. Jesus spends more words and time and space on the judgment delivered to this play-it-safe, do-nothing, overly-cautious, non-participating, non-servant than he does the other nine. Even the ones who signed the petition and sent the delegation saying they didn’t want this King, they only get one verse.

Here’s the deal. And it’s clear: a timid refusal to obey makes us liable to the same judgment as defiant and rebellious disobedience. It’s the same thing.

The story is a call to faithfulness to the King and his business. We’re all accountable to Jesus. Those who claim to follow him are responsible for a ministry of sacrifice and service in seeking and saving the lost. Those who reject him are responsible for not recognizing who he is and not accepting his invitation. This 3rd servant represents the dangers we face as members of the Lord’s Church. He’s associated with the King. He’s a member of the community. He lives with the King, he wears the King’s name, he eats at the King’s table, but he doesn’t trust the King. He’s never walked through that door of faith that responds to grace. So he winds up on the outside with nothing.

Obediently following Jesus, being proactive and taking risks and spending ourselves and our God-given resources in this already-inaugurated Kingdom of God is serious business. The gifts we have from God are not to be guarded or protected or kept safe. They are to be used extravagantly for the King’s business until he comes back.


SGCIn the first year of Legacy Small Groups Church we’ve experienced our mighty God at work building faith, encouraging Christian ministry and service, and fostering deeper friendships and relationships in our church family. And I believe our Father wants us to do even more. I believe he’s using Small Groups to transform our entire church family into the image of Christ Jesus.

The Apostle Paul exhorted the Christians in Philippi to practice the same attitude “as that of Christ Jesus” by looking not only to our own interests, “but also to the interests of others.” A union with Christ and fellowship with his Holy Spirit is proved when disciples “consider others better than yourselves.”

I’m convinced that the next big steps in our spiritual growth at the Family of God at Legacy will best be taken by everyone of us — young and old, singles and families, new members and long-time members — meeting weekly in our Small Groups to apply the Word, connect as a family, and evangelize our community.

Our groups start meeting again this Sunday night. For twelve months we’ll be opening up our homes and our lives to each other in the name of our King. Over 750 of us sharing meals and prayers and Christian love and service in 40 homes all over Northeast Tarrant County. Being church, not doing church. Increased unity and and ministry and worship and healing and fellowship and forgiveness. It’s going to that next level as a member of the Kingdom. And taking others with you.

This Sunday night. Jump in.


24 Hours of PrayerAt 7:00 tomorrow morning, the Four Horsemen will be holed up together in some little sideroom at the EastRidge Church of Christ in Rockwall to pray for an hour. My great friends, Dan Miller and Kevin Henrichson, half of the Horsemen, have organized a 24 Hours of Prayer that started at 8:00 this morning. Men at EastRidge are right now in fervent prayer, lifting up nearly a thousand different thanksgivings and requests that have been submitted by that church family.

Jason Reeves and I, the other half, will be the tag-team speakers at the prayer breakfast that wraps up Four Horsementhe event tomorrow morning. I’m honored to be a part of it. Our mighty God is at work anytime men are gathered to pray for extended periods of time. And I love being right in the big middle of it. You pray with a group of three or four men for an hour and it’s like you’ve been in a fox hole with them. You’re bonded to them for eternity. You see their hearts and their spirits as they open up to their Lord. You feel their joys and their pains as they lay bare their souls before God. You learn more about a brother by praying with him than you could ever learn at a two-hour lunch or even a fishing or hunting weekend.

Praying together is huge. Jason and Dan and Kevin and I figured that out a long time ago. The men at EastRidge are learning it right now. And I’m really looking forward to sharing some of that time with them tomorrow morning.



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