The Precious Worship Service

2 February 2010

It is quite amazing how strongly a person can feel about the external things that make up the schedule of events presented at a large group meeting of Christians during one hour on Sunday.” – Yours Truly

“The perfect worship service would be one we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God.” – C.S. Lewis

One time, I saw a video played at a church service about a couple who had weathered some very tough situations in their marriage, and let me tell you, by the end of it, my jaw was on the ground at how their impossible situation seemed to be miraculously turned around by God. Everyone was talking about it after the worship service, but not everyone was talking about where they saw God in it. I overheard one lady, with scowled face, pursed lips, and frowning eyebrows complaining to an elder that she “didn’t appreciate the music” track that was gently playing behind the couple as they shared on the video.

Another time, I was at a worship service where this sweet lady who had undergone a very difficult time medically went up to the preacher and asked if she could express her thanks to the church family for all the special help and support. I was undone emotionally by her sincere gratitude as she rattled off just a few of the names and actions that so many had selflessly given. Everyone was noting how they saw Christ in her and in those she spoke about. Except for the people in one email chain, who were only noting (in an appalled way) that a woman spoke into a microphone during the worship service.

Another time, I remember being taken in by the songs being sung. It was so cool how each song’s message led seamlessly to the next. When I was waiting in line to tell the guy responsible how I noticed the presence of God in what he put together for us, I was behind a couple who was lodging a disgruntled complaint about the absence of certain songs that they would have rather sung.

In another worship service, I got to share a teaching of Christ about the forgiving nature of God and the guilt-free living available because of it. I handed out index cards and pencils, and invited the group to privately write down things they still live in guilt about. I ended the teaching by inviting them to get up and throw what they wrote down away in trash cans that I had put around the room as a symbol of what they are free to do with their guilt, according to Jesus. This seemed to merit me about a half-dozen emails from Christ-followers who were there, making the case that I shouldn’t have done it, with statements ranging from “because it makes people uncomfortable” to “we just don’t do that here” to “because it’s wrong.” (!)

Twice, and in two different churches, and on several different occasions, the idea of taking the Lord’s Supper in some other way than passing trays down each isle for everyone to partake privately was suggested, and it was knocked out on the basis of how the Christians who go there might react emotionally to “such a change”. Shew! I thought we Christians placed our belief on doing things by the Bible alone. Yet evidently, some Christians will react emotionally as if not using trays and pews would be unbiblical. Better not suggest the idea of taking it in our small groups at home (Acts 2:46). Or participating in it on a day other than Sunday (1 Cor 11:23-25).

What is it about the precious worship service that heightens some Christian’s sensitivity about what gets to happen within it?

One person who I know full well has TV’s in their home and use computers at their work got upset when his church put a screen and PowerPoint projector in the room to use during the precious worship service.

Another person who I know sang in choruses at school all of their life had issues when her church let a choir sing during their precious worship service.

Yet another person I know got upset when a preacher spoke too long. And another got upset when a preacher didn’t speak long enough.

One girl I know who would totally bust a move at the school dances to all of our favorite songs in the 80s was totally offended when someone in the worship service raised their hands in the air as we sang “These humble hands, I lift to You”.

What gives? Seriously.

The more I engage with human beings who have experienced these strong feelings about these external relatively small variations between different church services, I find myself having trouble explaining the justification for them (the strong feelings, that is).

I have trouble:

  • Explaining these strong feelings about the precious worship service to non-Christians.
  • Explaining these strong feelings to burned-out-on-church Christians.
  • Trying to justify these convictions as necessary to accomplish the fruit of transformation that Jesus is after in people’s hearts.

I’ve read the Bible through several times. I’ve read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the most (since they contain the story of Jesus while he was here). All this reading doesn’t make me any kind of authority on answering this question academically, but I am somewhat familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus.

It seems to me that he thinks that everything…everything…should be done out of sincere love for God and love for other people (Mt 22: 40). Additionally, it seems to me that he thinks that everything…everything…is useful or not by it’s potential to help people live the life that he came to give us, which he claimed to be the fullest, most abundant life possible (Jn 10:10).

So…it seems to me that everything…everything…in the precious worship service should be judged by the same. And that’s all.

The only time I can find where Jesus speaks directly about a worship service was when he was saying that the outward, superficial details didn’t matter. That what mattered to God was the “kind” of worshipper a person was. The “kind” that adhered, not to outward expressions of religious practices during a one-hour event on Sunday, but to an inward sincerity that dwells within the confines of “spirit and truth”.

What does he mean by “spirit and truth”, you might ask.

Well, I think it means to worship in line with Christ’s heart, character, mission and priorities. So anything…anything…at a worship service that exalts love for God and love for people, no matter how it is outwardly and superficially presented, is just fine with me.

There is an interesting article here about some of the big issues in the Church of Christ, if you are interested. It starts out with one big issue in the precious worship service, but then expands towards the end and offers a perspective that could be used to discern all potential issues.

My advice to all Christians: Seek first Christ in everything that is presented to you within any worship service you attend. Work hard at this seeking, and you will find him. And your reward in the precious worship service will be great…Christ himself.

My warning to all Christians: Seek first what you consider wrong or uncomfortable in everything that is presented to you within any worship service you attend, and you will find it. Then you will work hard at being angry, disturbed, or disgruntled. And the reward in the precious worship service will be missed…Christ himself.

Progressing from listening to talking to doing to being

26 January 2010

"To love – simply and truly – is so startling it leaves little time for anything else." — Emily Dickinson

"Whenever asked about what should be done about another person, no matter what the situation, the answer is always… ‘love them.’ Specific applications of love apply in different circumstances (accept them, challenge them, walk with them, confront them, forgive them, tell them, etc.), but it never ceases to amaze me how often people think there is something else to do or try." – Yours truly


I fancy myself a “progressive”.

You have to label labels, I guess, when you use them. They mean so many things to so many people.

So by progressive, I mean that I want to always “make progress” in becoming a better and better human being.

Because I have had to move from being a human listening, to a human talking, to a human doing, to finally (and it is a work in progress) a human being.

I have a buddy who has smoked tobacco abundantly. He’s on his twelfth week of not smoking, and only last week threw away his last pack of cigarettes that he carried with him constantly, just in case he didn’t really want to be a non-smoker.

Before he became a non-smoker, he had to listen to the idea of it. This is no small step. Smokers don’t want to listen to the idea of not being a smoker. But he did. And it was hard. He was really confronted at this phase of progression. And even if he wanted to stop listening, he had no choice as he sat by his dad’s bedside caring for him (he’s a paramedic) daily (and nightly) as he died of lung cancer from smoking.

He then progressed to talking. It’s one thing to be willing to listen to the case for not smoking, and quite another to start speaking the case for non-smoking. I got to hear him as he progressed to this talking phase over lunch one day. It was quite amazing to hear him, especially when I considered how hard it was for him to listen to himself and consider the implications of his talking. I asked him if I could video tape him and capture the power of his talk. He reluctantly, but eagerly, but reluctantly agreed. I played it to a few hundred of our mutual friends. He was firmly established in the talking phase.

And the reason he was willing to talk was because he wanted to be seriously intent on progressing to the doing stage. He’ll tell you now, that he began the doing of not smoking with zero belief that he would succeed. Inwardly, he had already decided that he would give it try knowing he would fail just to be able to say to those that loved him that he had had done his talking to (his family, chief among them) that he had tried.

Little did he know, that it would take. Every time I see him now, he smiles and tells me how long it’s been. He is progressing from “doing” now to “being”. He now believes that he can BE a non-smoker.

It seems to me that this is a great example of what being progressive truly means.

To progress. To actually, and really, and painstakingly…make progress.

And in no other area is it more important to progress than in the area of love.

We must listen to new ideas of what it means to love.

We must start talking those ideas, owning it enough to speak about it.

We must start doing those ideas, loving in those new-to-us ways.

Eventually, glory of glory happens…and we become love.

Really…when I’m progressing in love. I don’t have time to smoke. Or to do anything else. And I’m having trouble finding anything else as worthwhile to do.

God help me.

A Question I am Ashamed to Answer

15 January 2010

About 10 months ago, I received an email that I quickly deleted. It had a strange foreign name attached to it, some generic sounding title, so it didn’t make it through my “maybe that’s not junk mail” filter when I did a quick scan of my Inbox.

As it turns out, that deleted, unread email came from a desperate man in India, asking me to personally mentor him as a student of Christ, a minister at a church, and a world changer.

I only know this because, fortunately, he sent a second email. In it he was pleading, “Dear brother, please do not hesitate to write me, please encourage me in the truth. Please help and guide and explain what ever I asks questions. I have some questions to ask. Please give me permission to ask more.”

I replied to him, and it began a wonderful dialogue that I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned from. He found me in a somewhat random way (yeah, right) through a search engine that led him to the website of the Southwest Church in Amarillo, TX… the group with whom I seek the best possible life.

As he said, he had many questions, and was looking for someone to ask. Among them:

  • What is Non-Institutional institution?
  • What is conservative?
  • What is liberal?
  • What is mainstream?
  • What is one cup churches and non class Churches? (He saw these words in the recent issues of Christian Chronicle news paper.)
  • We train few youths as preachers, is it wrong or non-Biblical?
  • Can I have your sermons and lessons in printed form for use in our daily ministries?

From here, he started sending me some of his curriculum and lessons. I began to notice that his good work had within it a heavy focus on teaching “how to do church right” and not so much on “how to love and live like Jesus Christ” (You can search my blog archives at www.brianmashburn.net if you are interested in why this stood out to me), and our dialogue included discussions about this. Perhaps one of the greatest treasures I have from G. David as a result of our dialogue is this one:

“Our God is helping us through you to change this bias towards to imitate Christ and better preachers and ministers of Christ, more like Jesus and more focus on Jesus. I thank you very much for your excellent guidance in Christ Jesus our Lord, you are in my heart, because you have changed it to focus on Jesus and Jesus only.”

Let me pause here and tell you…if it is true that I can play any role whatsoever in helping anyone (particularly leaders of others) to focus on “Jesus and Jesus only”…that is enough for me and an answer to countless prayers of mine.

So…praise God. His questions then moved into this realm…

  • How to come to the image of His son? – Rom 8:29.
  • How to attain the fullness and stature of Christ? – Eph 4:11-13.
  • How to walk and what are the foot steps of Christ? – I Peter 2:21.
  • How to walk as He walked? – I John 2:6.

What an impossible joy it has been to wrestle with these magnificent questions.

I respect this man so much. He and his family minister with limited provision, and with zealous faithfulness. He has invited me over for a visit to teach and encourage. I hope to someday go, because I know that it is I who would be taught and most definitely encouraged (His little boy looks like he’d be my favorite!)

My Family 

I’ve gotten to “be with” him as he traveled, while injured sometimes, thousands of miles to take advantage of an opportunity to teach people about Christ in less than ideal circumstances…


As one of his questions indicates, and on top of all of his daily demands, he had collected an assortment of eager young men and started a preacher training school! Here are his students…


I even got to “witness” him slave away, beg, plead, and organize relief for the people of his church and city when the horrible flooding of India last year hit Chennai hard…

INDIA  Relief-1

I was always eager and ready to continue our mutual learning from each other’s lives and ministries. I always looked forward to his questions, and speedily replied to the best of my ability, until he asked a question that stopped me in my tracks.

He asked, “How much does your church provide for you per month as the preacher?”

I froze in front of my computer screen.

I didn’t want to tell him.

It’s not that I think I’m a bad steward of the financial resources given to me.

It’s not a self-esteem thing, that I don’t think I’m “worth” what I’m paid (been there, done that).

Nor is it that I take some kind of pride in how much I’m given, as if that is some sort of measurement of my worth.

And it is certainly not that I’m ungrateful.

What was it? Why was I ashamed?

I am provided more money than I ever dreamed I would be when I decided to go into ministry. But that doesn’t seem like it should be enough to make me feel ashamed.

I’m not making more than might be expected for people who have a comparable position that I have (in the U.S., that is) according to a survey taken by ACU), but that’s not enough to keep me from feeling ashamed.

Help me out here…

And as a bonus…why does it seem like I’m breaking some kind of rule just be bringing this subject up?

How to Approach God

14 January 2010


I remember one hot summer day in Houston, TX being at Astroworld (Houston’s Six Flags theme park, now closed down) with a large group of students from the West side of town. I was the youth minister at a church, and we were taking our annual trip to enjoy the rollor coasters, shows, and each other’s company. It was a blast, just like every year. But I remember this particular day because I got into a very cool spiritual conversation with a student as we took a break from the lines and heat. Somehow we got to talking about mentors, fathers, and big-brother-types. You know, people “ahead of us” who would take a special interest in us. People who would choose us as someone they would resolve to pursue and be available to in order to bestow their wisdom, life, and ways.

Sounds beautiful, huh?

But it stirred an overwhelming feeling of being quite alone and mentor-less. I’m humbled and proud to mention that this student was honoring me in our conversation as one of these mentors, spiritual father figures, and big brother types…and I was surprised at the depths that were touched in me, moved to tears actually (yes, right there in the shade of a tree at Astroworld), as I wished I could identify someone loving, coaching, teaching, and pursuing me as I was doing for this student.

Looking back on my life, I think one of the several unspoken, secret, tsunami-like motivations that invisibly moved me into my calling of loving people – which eventually moved into into a position of mentoring and fathering people – was this very deep desire to have someone do this for me. Wow. As I write this, the words of Jesus, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” comes to mind. I think that’s what I was unknowingly doing. I wanted some fathering in the innermost places of my heart, and I showed it by making a life of giving that to others.

“Our greatness comes from our woundedness,” someone once memorably said.

Over my adult life, I have approached several folks who I perceived as “ahead of me” in the life that I am constantly moving and growing into, and have asked them overtly to mentor, coach, be available to, and benefit me with their wisdom and experience…to love me, really. To big-brother and father me.

Now, I know this is a huge request. To ask this of someone should not be done lightly. And although you may get one, you sure should not expect a quick, un-thought over, un-prayed over affirmative answer. If the person you are asking understands what you are truly asking, and they are worthy of being asked, they will not say yes lightly (so they may not be able to say yes quickly).

However, as I became aware of this desire in my life, it was amazing how few people there are who I felt like I could ask this of. Those who:

  • have become “masters” of spiritual things with humble confidence
    • have room in their life for any deep relationships
    • valued the passing on of their own life discoveries and wisdom
    • had a clue how to go about mentoring even if they desired to

Out of those that did, and I can think of two that I asked, one reluctantly felt that he had to say no because he lived across the country and the demand on his life for this kind of relationship had already consumed his time (another witness to how few there are, and how hungry people are for it). The other didn’t have the heart to say no (and bless his heart, he caught me in another deeply emotional moment, so I know I made it hard for him),  but never could realistically follow through because of the demands on his life as well.

While it sounds like I should be writing an email entitled, “The Mentorless Generation” (that would actually be a good one), I’m connecting to all of this because out of all the ways that I have approached God, the one that has allowed  my heart to experience the most healing, the most guidance, the most meaningful information, the most illumination, the most life, the most passion and love…ultimately, the most oneness with God… has been when I have approached him as a father, a mentor.

As it turns out, I think it is His favorite way that I have approached Him, as well.

And as it turns out, Jesus revealed the Father as wanting to do just that.

When he taught us to pray, he went against all the religiosity of the day and the misunderstanding of the word “reverence” and told us to address God as, you guessed it, “our Father”. (Mt 6:9)

When he decided to implement a world-changing plan among mankind, his primary strategy wasn’t to preach to big crowds, post blogs, write books,  gather Facebook friends, Twitter, or organize a centralized headquarters out of which he would do all these things. No, he incarnated himself into the rabbinical system of the day, invited 12 people to join him intimately in his life in order to, you guessed it, relationally “mentor” them. (Mk 3:14)

John Eldredge says, “God wants to father us. The truth is, he has been fathering us for a long time—we just haven’t had the eyes to see it. He wants to father us much more intimately, but we have to be in a posture to receive it.”

That’s what I want. It took some time, but buried underneath a bunch of false spirituality, high-church thinking, stiff-necked theology, and incomplete and unbalanced views of God, I found a tender desire that responded with a nuclear fission explosion of hopeful excitement when I heard God say, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters."  (2 Cor 6:18)

I suppose there are lots of ways to answer the question, “How to approach God?”

But lesson number one, the one that I believe must be found and practiced in order to address anything else with any kind of accuracy and humanity, is to approach God as a father.

Unfinished Posts…

9 January 2010


“The unspoken idea has no chance of blessing anyone other than the one to whom had it.” – Your Truly 

I haven’t written as much this year as I have in years past. A combination of business, laziness, higher priorities, and un-cohesive and/or incomplete thoughts.

But I have a bunch of unfinished posts in my “drafts” file. So I thought I’d do an experiment with them that I haven’t done before.

I’ve  posted the titles to them below. If any of them pique your interest, cast a vote by replying to this email (or posting a comment on this blog if don’t get my email), and perhaps your interest will help me with some additional motivation.

“A question I am ashamed to answer”

“You can be this good.”

“Altogether superior.”

“The restoration of discipleship.”

“Two haunting questions.”

“A sacred weekend.”

“What I would do if I came to your church.” (a series)

“How to approach God.”

“Saving people from their sins.”

“Who stole my church?”


“Small group intimacy.”

“On speaking engagements.”

“The sinner that Jesus condemned.”

“Freezing up and asking the world to wait.”

“When the blessing of the job becomes the curse of it.”

“Not all available parts of the spiritual life are easy to attain.”

“Clash of the (value system) Titans.”


“Unity isn’t unity if there is no mission.”

“The precious worship service.”

“My love-hate relationship with structure.”

“Progressing from listening to talking to doing to being.”

“Brian’s next job description.”

Wow…there are so many. I didn’t even realize. Unfortunately, these unfinished thoughts are a sort of mirror to my life.

I’m completely open to the idea that none of these may interest anyone. I try to imagine that perhaps some of the ideas, thoughts, rants, and revelations that occasionally consume me may be of some use to others.  But, as the words that automatically go out at the end of every email suggests, I write these pieces in my effort to “keep it real” and think out loud…as one of the tools that I use to stay in my heart…and to do so relationally.

Let me know, friends. I love you.

The Standard of Judgment

10 December 2009


Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 2:5

“Anyone who claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:6

If someone says they are a Christian, you get to judge them inside and out.

Inwardly, they should have the attitude of Jesus.

Outwardly, they should have the “walk” of Jesus.

These are the inner and outer standards upon which all of us who call ourselves Christians measure ourselves. (Not in order to get eternal security, by the way, which is a free gift of love from God, but as the evidence that we have received this free gift…for they are earth-bound results of belief in Jesus.)

And while the Bible makes these two things clear, it also makes it clear that there is a transformational process involved in the becoming like Jesus (Romans 12:2, for example).

Combine these two things, and the true standard that you can use to judge if someone is a Christian is whether or not that someone is actively involved in his or her own transformation into the image of Christ.

If you asked them, they would be able to tell you…

…that they are becoming more like Christ.

…that they are not finished becoming more like Christ.

…how they are becoming more like Christ.

…what old attitudes and actions they had that weren’t like Christ.

…what current attitudes and actions they have that aren’t like Christ.

…what new attitudes and actions they have acquired that are like Christ.

…what attitudes and actions they lack that are like Christ.

…what they participated in, in order to transform into Christ likeness.

…what they are currently participating in, in order to continue transforming into Christ likeness.

So, if you ask them these questions, and they can’t answer (now, give ‘em a minute, because not many ask them to articulate these things), you are free to doubt that they are Christians.

No matter what they say.

Jesus, his attitude and his ways, are the standard of judgment.

On Imitating the 20th Century Church

30 November 2009


We’re still thinkin’ like a 200-member church.” – Ken Moss, one of my elders, guarding the much needed shift in thinking when your church family grows numerically over 200

We’re still thinkin’ like a 20th-century church.” – Yours Truly, guarding the much needed shift in thinking when your culture won’t respond like they once did to your church family’s mode of “doing church”


Generally speaking, if you were to study 20th-century Christianity, with an eye to imitate it now in the 21st-century, you would…

…put your primary attention and focus on your Sunday meeting.

…find or build a place adequate to have your Sunday meeting.

…recruit or hire the best public speaker you can find, attract, or afford to preach at your Sunday meeting.

…recruit or hire the best worship leader you can find, attract, or afford to lead singing and/or music at your Sunday meeting.

…collect money from the people who attend your Sunday meeting.

…support and surround your Sunday meeting with good programs for kids to attract families with kids to your meetings.

…spend tons of leadership man-hours deciding what is best, appropriate, most-effective and Biblical to do at and through your Sunday meetings.

…mobilize the people at your Sunday meetings to share the saving message of Christ with people who don’t come to your Sunday meetings, and when they accept that message, get them to faithfully you at your Sunday meetings.

…measure success by how many attend your Sunday meeting.

Generally speaking, if you want to imitate the 20th-century church, the above list will pretty much get you on your way.

Any questions? Thoughts?

I need to tell you that I’m speaking (1) as a primary participant in one of these 20th-century modeled churches, and (2) as a human being who is noticing that other human beings do not respond to this mode of church like they used to, and (3) most importantly and urgently, as a dad who is questioning whether this 20th-century model is going to effectively deliver Christ’s way of life to my kids and their friends in this very different, constantly changing 21st-century.

Any questions? Thoughts? Guidance? Compassion?

Church Technology Blog

19 November 2009

“So often I run into a problem here at my church. I end up doing much research and often come up with  a good and/or unique solution. So I was thinking, if God is going to lead me to these solutions and ideas, I ought to share them.” – Craig Mashburn, diligent and creative minister of technology, and my brother

My little brother is a marvel. He was my personal technology minister in Houston, TX for years, helping me Picture0198accomplish creative ideas in youth ministry that I could have never pulled off without him.

He WAS my personal technology minister until the church I worked for in Houston noticed. Then they high jacked him and put him on staff full time. A wise move on their part. I was the only one against the idea, because then I’d have to share him.

As it turned out, he could handle my whole load and still handle everyone else’s, too. He loves it and is good at it.

When I moved to Amarillo, I was excited to find out that the church here was looking for a techy. My friend Doyle asked, "Do you think Craig would be interested in coming?” My eyes bulged out of my head at the possibility and I said, “I don’t know, but I sure would be interested in his coming!”

I still praise God that a year later, he did. So I’m still close to some family, but also, I still have my personal techy.

Anyway, if you are one or have any tech friends, particularly who work at churches, you’ll want to put them onto this blog Craig is starting. Churches offer unique tech problems, and Craig has man-handled a bunch of ‘em over the years, and thought it quite a waste to not “put them out there” to help others directly or spur on their creative problem solving.

Check it out here:


Daddy Affirmation Day

5 November 2009

I’ve had a powerfully intense few weeks. I’m an intensity junky of sorts, so it’s been good, but it has taken it’s toll. A toll I’m glad to pay, but a payment to be paid nonetheless. I commonly experience myself as someone who notices he is weary in spirit way too late. But my kid’s love shook me to awareness early this time in a beautiful and creative way.

As I started home from work, I grabbed my phone and there was a missed call from my wife’s cell phone. It was this lengthy message from my youngest son, Jakin, who is age 6 (read it as if it is one sentence with the cutest little boy voice you can imagine).

“Dad – I just wanted to tell you that I wanted to give you a kiss when you get home, and hug, and I want, um…to tell you…um…because you work good cuz, um, I love you cuz, um, you do good stuff and I love you too much and I want you someday to take to…um…I actually don’t want to go to Chicago for our trip, I want to actually go to where Callie, um, went to and do everything Callie did and I wanna ask, uh, to stay at the same room in the hotel, and, um, if we can, and I want to, um, and someday I want us to go the beach and see some penguins and, uh, I just love you and mom loves you to…when you get home, give her a hug and a kiss…bye.”

I smiled and laughed out loud and played it several more times as I drove home. “I love you too much,” just kept ringing in my head and calming my soul. It was cool.

On the homefront, my wife Carrie has been a trooper with some major pain in her lower back. So when I got home, I took my oldest son Shade to soccer practice, picked up my daughter from gymnastics, then with her back to Shade’s practice till it was over, then home to feed ‘em, bath ‘em, do homework, and get ‘em to bed before my men’s group that meets in my basement starts at 8:30.

While Carrie was coaching me on what to do for lunch prep for the next morning, I saw my daughter Callie (age 7) quietly and intently drawing or writing something on the couch. A while back, she made both me and her mom “mailboxes” out of paper and hung them next to our respective sides of the bed. As I was busily hurrying about, she disappeared and reappeared and informed me, “Daaaad –deeee…check your maaaaail booox.” I smiled with a polite “Okay” as I dashed by and gave her a pat. But after I put them to bed, I remembered, and pulled this out.


Of course, I love all the hugs and kisses from my daughter, always, but what really captured my attention was her 3-stage representation of my “growing up”. She identified me as a “kid”, then advancing to “basketball player”, and finally to “precher”. While I wonder why she chose these particular images to mark my progression, the most affirming thing to me was what she drew to represent “precher”! It wasn’t me standing behind a pulpit talking. It wasn’t my nose in a book (or The Book) studying, and it wasn’t even me with another person shepherding, all of which would’ve been okay and accurate of some of the things she sees me doing. Instead, it seems her image of a “precher” is a strong, intense-but-smiling, determined sort of character who is ready for some sort of action. I tell you what, if this is anything close to what I am being seen as by my kids as they observe me as “a preacher”, then I’m just plain thrilled. Admittedly, some of this comes from my past & current judgments of preachers, oftentimes unfair and false (and yes, it’s not lost on me the divine comedy that God made me one), but still…it was nice, since it is so important to me to not be a “typical preacher” (let the reader understand) that my daughter represented me as a preacher in an atypical way. It just felt great.

Finally, 8:30 rolls around, kids are tucked in, and about 8 of my buddies from the Basement Boys start showing up. Shade (age 9), has a routine of asking me if my buddy Heath is going to come to group, and if he is, then to send him by his room on the way down the hall for him to say hey, because my son loves him. But in the event Heath doesn’t come, he usually names another guy from my group to send in, as a backup. Last week it was Shane, but this week, he told me to send in Chris.

Chris happened to have “the floor” last night, which means, it was his turn to sit in the “hot seat” and initiate the raw and real, hopefully transformational conversation that we all gather in the basement for. So as we all declared it time to descend, and void of Heath’s presence, I mentioned to Chris to make a quick stop in Shade’s room to say hi.

After a few minutes, Chris comes bounding down to the basement where the rest of us are just visiting amongst ourselves awaiting his arrival in the hot seat that we left empty for him. He busts out with a big smile, and then says, “Let me tell you what Mashburn’s son just said.”

Chris said that after he visited with him, he told Shade that he probably needed to go because he was going to talk down in the basement, and added that he was a little nervous. Shade told him, ‘Oh, yeah. Don’t worry about it. You’ll do good. I’ve done it before. I’ve talked in front of the whole church. You want me to tell you what to do?”

“Sure,” I imagine Chris saying in a very Chris-inviting way.

Just pretend, while your saying what you need to say, that all the people aren’t even there.”

Here’s the cool part.

Shade added, “Except my dad.”

Chris was beaming in the basement, for me I think, as he said that it was exactly the way he would want his son to talk about him! He said that it was said in a manner that communicated, “No need to pretend my dad’s not there. You’ll want him there.”


It wasn’t until this morning that I put together this trifecta of child-delivered, massively-meaningful, attitude-changing, energy-fueling, uncontrollable-smile-producing, peace-giving, not-common-at-all daddy affirmations all happened yesterday, densely packed into a mere 3 hour block of time.

I didn’t know it at the time, but now looking backward, and looking inward, I’m pretty sure it was a little gift of fuel to propel me forward that came from upward.

I instantly thought about blogging about them, sharing the experience with all of you, when I quickly realized how extremely self-exalting it is for me to record and publish just how great I’m coming across to my kids.

So I decided not to.

I did share it with my close friend Doyle, and somewhere in the midst of the thrill and joy of it all, I changed my mind. I had to record it, and share it, not because I think I’m “all that”, but because of the sheer depth at which my children’s honest and spontaneous affirmations of me as a dad satisfies and affirms my soul.

May I never short change my short time with my kids. And may their gracious perceptions of me become true as I am becoming truer.

And may the same be so for all you.

A Song and a Resolution

1 October 2009

“Wake up, wake up, break out in song!” – Judges 5:12

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2

I have two documents sitting on my desk that have blessed me profoundly today.

The first one is written by my 7 year old daughter, Callie. Well, dictated by her. She came running in one day with a sense of urgency asking for pen and paper. She wrote “God is the perfect name!” on the top, put a column of hearts down the side, and then decided she writes too slow to record the song trying to burst out of her heart. She threw the pen and paper in my hands and said, “Hurry, dad, write this down!”

She started with the chorus:

God is the perfect name for the Lord,

God is the perfect name for the Lord.

Jesus is the perfect name for the Lord,

Jesus is the perfect name for the Lord.

Love is the perfect name for the Lord,

Love is the perfect name for the Lord.

Then she had four short verses:

Love brings peace, peace brings love.

If you put them both together, you have Christ in your heart.

Faith brings joy, joy brings faith.

If you put them both together, you have Christ in your heart.

Love brings hope, hope brings love.

If you put them both together, you have Christ in your heart.

It ends triumphantly…

Jesus and God are good for each other!

Jesus and God are the best! (to be sung with arms thrust up into the air!)

Callie Song001 

She instructed me to take it to my friend Doyle, the worship leader at our church, in order for him to learn it and sing it with our church family.


The second one is from a friend of mine that I am “especially fond of” (he who has read “The Shack”, let him have ears to hear). He, among about 80 others of us, went on a retreat this past weekend on a Ranch south of Amarillo. While there, we examined our personal “story” thus far in our lives, were challenged to give those to God, and let Christ merge with our story from here on out, co-authoring it together.

After laying his story at the foot of the cross, he went into some private space and wrote these resolutions as guides for the rest of his life:

I will stop “doing” church and be Christ to the world.

I will pray unrelenting for those who are lost in my life.

I will be a part of the salvation of my lost family members.

I will spend my time doing the will of God in the world.

I will make a mark on the world around me.

I will get to know more of Christ through the Bible.

I will stop using business as an excuse not to do his work.

I will stop blaming my family for what Satan did.

I will stop using my past as a crutch.

People will see the difference in me.

I’m allowing this paper that Callie wrote move me to worship and reflection (that will actually and practically change the state of my heart), and I’m allowing this paper written by my buddy to move me to resolution and action (that will actually and practically change how you see me live and behave).

May God send you a song and resolution as well.

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