Monday, September 30, 2013

How He Loves

Good morning, friends! Yesterday at Highland we continued in our series "Sequels" about the idolatry of sex and romance. It was a powerful day of remembering who God is and laying down our idols. He is faithful even when we are not. As Hosea loved Gomer...God loves us and beyond.

At the end of service we had people come forward and write down their idols on cards at tables at the front of the worship center. Before people came forward I referred to a song called "How He Loves". The most popular version is performed by David Crowder. But a friend sent me this version today and I thought it was powerful.

I think one of the main questions we deal with that often goes unspoken...and we might not even be aware, can I trust God? I see God lovingly gaze upon us asking, "Do you trust me? Do you trust that I am enough?" If I got the profound nature of His deep love for me it would cancel out so many things that compete for His affection in my heart.

May you feel and know His deep love for you today. I hope this blesses you on this Monday morning!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A King & A Kingdom - Derek Webb

I have loved this song for a really long time. Sometimes I want to post it to people's Facebook walls (when I'm feeling extra contrary). But I know it would offend some. There are lines in this song that may be offensive...but I'd ask you to stop and step back and ask yourself why they're offensive. We build idols of all kinds in our lives...some of them look like really GOOD things...but they can still be idols. We have one King and one Kingdom. That's it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

So Long Summer!

On this first day of Fall, here's a little video my 12 year old daughter did to celebrate what God did this summer. I thought she did a great job!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

West Texas Fair

Well, it's that time again...time for the West Texas Fair and Rodeo. Since I was a kid I have gone to the fair every year...same sights, smells, food, rides... and inevitably it begins like this...

And ends up feeling more like this.....'s always fun and the kids had a blast with their friends riding rides and seeing interesting people. And if you know me AT ALL, you know that people watching is one of all-time favorite things to do...airports are like a candy store for me. The West Texas Fair is the ultimate. Ever. I'll leave it at that. :) Fun time had by all!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Make a Joyful Sound...No, Really!

Recently, at Highland some big announcements were made. Here was the announcement...

Earlier this year the Highland Elders announced that as a group we were discussing adding an instrumental worship service on Sunday mornings here at this building.  Our discussion was centered on 3 essential questions, which has led us through our discernment together:

1. Does Scripture allow for an instrumental worship service on Sunday mornings?

The Highland elders voted that we believed that Scripture did allow for instrumental worship on Sunday mornings.

2. We asked is an instrumental worship service missionally effective for Highland?

The Highland elders voted that we believed adding an instrumental service could remove a barrier for people in our community to come to Highland as we fulfill our purpose of calling all people to God.

3. The third question we asked was is this the right time for Highland to implement an instrumental worship service on Sunday mornings?

We spent the last 3 months inviting you, the Highland family, to spiritually discern this question with us. Thank you for your daily prayers and conversations in Bible Classes, in shepherding group meetings, in letters, emails, and in one on one conversations.

After listening to all the different feedback, after much prayer, and seeking God’s guidance, the Highland elders have decided that it is the right time for Highland to move towards implementation of an instrumental worship service on Sunday mornings as we partner with God in His great work of Restoring Highland, Abilene, and the World.

From a practical perspective, it would have been best for us to wait a few months to announce this, until we knew all the details and could answer every question. But in the spirit of being fully transparent, we wanted to tell you as soon as the decision was made.

We would like to be able to stand in front of you today and tell you all aspects of the implementation, but we do not know all of those yet. We can tell you what we do know today, and we promise to continue to communicate with you throughout this process.

So, as I stand before you today, here is what we do know:
1. We will continue to offer an acappella service. We will continue to do acapella worship at the same high level, and it will continue to be an integral part of Highland’s worship.

2. It will be 2014 before we are able to begin an instrumental service on Sunday mornings, and more than likely it will be after we complete the remodel of the auditorium. We will continue to have the instrumental worship service at our Grace campus on Sunday Nights at 5:00, and encourage you to attend that service.

3. We also want you to know that the Highland elders and staff desire to always be available to you. Please continue sharing your comments and questions.

4. Finally, we want you to know that God has faithfully provided for and blessed Highland since 1929 and we are excited about the ways he will continue to bless us in this time at Highland.


2 Chronicles 5:11-14 tells the story of the worship service that took place when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to rest in the temple. The text reads,   The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. 12 All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
He is good;his love endures forever. Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.”  

AND SO, the elders want to send you out today with this challenge:  let us live into our calling to be a priesthood in which divisions disappear when we see the glory of the Lord rise in worship with instruments and with voices, as we praise and honor a good God whose love endures forever.  
The ACU paper did a story on it as well...this article is helpful in describing our process too.

Highland to add instruments to worship | The Optimist

So--here's where I am... it is with great anticipation and a healthy dose of wonder at the unknown that I step into this new season. My commitment to providing resources for a cappella churches is still as strong as ever. ZOE will continue to work hard to do that.

Our prayer at Highland is that more people will be opened to story of Jesus. That's it. Will you pray that God will guide us and give us wisdom and discernment as we walk this road? These are exciting times and sometimes it feels like the Lord is leading us like 27 horses running for the barn. I just don't want to miss anything He has for us along the way. I remember that the biggest example of hearing His voice in scripture is in the still, small voice. So, please pray that I will also take the time I need to be listen.
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
Be lifted up, you ancient doors
That the King of Glory may come in!
Who is He, this King of Glory?
The Lord Almighty--HE is the King of Glory!
Ps. 24: 9-10

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

If We Don't Dream...

Recently, I went to see the movie "The Butler". I am a history nerd and have been for many years. I have Fred Bailey to thank for that. Dr. Bailey is an expert on the history of the American South...even more specifically, revisionist history. I feel like in many ways, Dr. Bailey not only opened my eyes to a complex world of history, but also gave me a foundation to help me examine our own churches, systems and doctrine. It's something I never expected to receive out of an ACU summer course.

In the movie, "The Butler", I was astounded again at how close in time we are to the civil rights movement. In my own lifetime, the fight has continued. The thing that I can never understand or get over is how men and women who claimed the name of Jesus as Lord treated people of color so poorly. Some people want to make that about politics. I don't care where you stand politically...that is secondary to where you stand spiritually.

The church has been guilty of treating people in ways that are shameful. We all know that. But, any wise person also knows that if we forget our past (and aren't able to confess the sins of our present) we are destined to repeat history. It gives me pause. It makes me breathe deeply. It makes me contemplate how I am reflecting the love of Christ to those I consider different from me.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on Washington for jobs and freedom and the historic "I Have A Dream" speech. I'm so grateful for Martin Luther King Jr. and all those who followed his lead into peaceful change. I'm not old enough to have been around during that time, but I'll never forget the stories and the fight for freedom that ushered in a healthier season in the life of our nation. I believe that kind of heart is close to the heart of Christ.

"Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different."
- Martin Luther King, Jr

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ronnie Lorenz

It is impossible to write anything that measures my deep love for, admiration of, connection to, and influence by this man. Last night, as I left the hospital around midnight I told Brooke, "I pray he just slips away. Gently. Quickly."

That is exactly what happened.

Brooke called about 3:25am this morning saying Ronnie had gone. He went so gently it was as if the thin space between earth and heaven just opened up and took him. If there was a way to go that fit Ronnie...that was it. (The only thing better would have been if he'd had a golf club in hand)

Mom and I immediately hurried to the hospital to be with everyone. He was so peaceful. Our prayers had been answered. "Pop"/ "Ahbaba" had slipped from this life into the next.

After a bit of sleep, I began culling through photos. When I came upon this picture of my dad and Ronnie, my eyes began to leak. It was like I was seeing into heaven...the joyful reunion Ronnie and my dad must be having. (Ella had sweetly whispered in Ronnie's ear last Friday some messages to take to her Poppie.) Oh the joy!

I found some jewels for sure. One of my favorite memories of my parents and the Lorenzes is when they would turn on music and two step on our back porch. They all claim they had no rhythm, but it didn't seem to matter. This is one of my favorite pictures of Ronnie and fun, so in love!

Then I remembered this one in our wedding album. I am so thankful we took this picture on our wedding day--even though I look like the biggest goob ever. I have no clue how my fashion sense could have gone on vacation the actual weekend I needed it most....

And here's one of my personal favorites...we made several trips through the years to New Braunfels together. They were always full of fun and great memories were made. Here are a couple of different group pics and Ronnie and his family going down the "chute"

And there are many, many more...too numerous to load. But some of my favorites are here...

This is blurry but it's Ronnie speaking and reading scripture at our wedding. The funny part was that he ended up reading the wrong scripture. :)

My dad and Ronnie acting like kids

My parents 25th Anniversary party

Ahbaba with Maddie

Ahbaba pushing Ella on the swing

Sweet, sweet family

Nanny and Ahbaba at our house in Nashville

Celebrating what WOULD have been my parent's 50th wedding anniversary

Nanny and Ahbaba

I feel so blessed to have had a second dad like Ronnie--for Sheryl to know and feel his influence, for my kids to feel loved and adored by him. This Saturday at 2pm we will have a celebration service remembering Ronnie and celebrating all he was to so many people. It's at Highland. I hope those of you who knew Ronnie can come celebrate with us.

I'll end with this quote by N. T. Wright which seems to fit Ronnie so well...

"The point of the that the present bodily life is not valueless because it will die...What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it. What you do in the present--by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself--will last into God's future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God's kingdom. "
~N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church

So Near, Yet So Far

Oh, the mystery of things to come. How do you unpack the emotion and admiration that has roots that go 43 years deep? Ronnie continues to decline in Hospice care, but he is slipping away very slowly. His physical body is still here...his heart beats, his lungs take in air, he snores. :) But, his spirit feels far.

What does it look like to be in transition between this world and what is to come? People have written books hypothesizing what that looks like...people who've never actually made the journey. I remember standing at the foot of my father's bed watching each labored breath get slower. Then years later sitting with my father-in-law as he gently slipped away from us. And, there were other relatives who've passed while we've read scripture or sung songs of praise over each case I've wondered what they were sensing or feeling. Were they feeling?

One thing I have felt in each of those moments is a very profound sense of being on holy ground. Holy, holy ground. As my cousin Linda says, "God is good in giving us the grace to live...and the grace to die in Him." How can we know what it's like until we know? But I believe she's right.

God's grace covers over the brokenness of this world and as N. T. Wright says, God speaks in "conspiratorial whispers, of clues and suggestions and flickers of light" all nudging us toward a bigger story. That term "conspiratorial whispers" has glued itself to me over the last few days. I resonate with it. Because, while deeply saddening, this time of remembrance and community has pointed to things much bigger than this current circumstance. It's as if God is whispering, reminding me to pray as Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

This morning I turned to take the communion tray and for a moment forgot and looked up hoping to see Ronnie. Oh, the longing that was in my heart at that moment for all things to be made right.

As Ronnie continues his transition, stories are told, we've laughed and we've cried. But, more than anything, tonight Brooke, Darla and I sat around Ronnie's bed talking about how THANKFUL we were for his influence...over our kids, over our families, over us. Ronnie reflected Jesus in ways that were not manufactured. He just did what Jesus does...he looked at people and saw them for what they could be and treated them like the treasures they are in the Kingdom of God (whether they felt like treasures at the moment or not.) He seemed to have been given a very Godly perspective. Ask anyone who knew him.

Here's what I know...Ps 116 says "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants." I believe that's the holy ground we feel in these moments. In ways we could never understand or describe on this side of eternity, we enter a very thin space where God's presence and his heart are more tangible. I know tonight that this transition Ronnie is going through is precious to the Lord. I feel it in my bones.

While this is a golden oldie now, as Ronnie's physical body lingers for who knows how much longer, I keep thinking about the old worship song "Surely the Presence".

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place
I can feel His mighty power and His grace
I can hear the brush of angels' wings
I see glory on each face
TRULY the presence of the Lord is in this place.

I truly feel the power and reality of those lyrics in that hospice room.

I'm reposting this picture because it so accurately captures Ronnie's spirit and the sparkle in his eyes. I love you, Pop! Good night!

To keep up with Ronnie via CaringBridge please visit and leave a message for the family.