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Rey Lo:

vulnerability is tough

Originally posted on pastormatt.tv:

MB Posts When Ellen and I were first married ministry was not our 20-year plan, the Navy was. We had it all planned out; we were to spend the next 20 years with me being gone for 15. The Navy explained to my sweet new bride how grueling it would be, that I would be gone often and that even when I was around my mind would be elsewhere. Knowing that my particular career path in the Navy would be a marriage destroyer I pursued a discharge for the pursuit of higher education. With the promise of a difficult future behind us we embarked upon an easier dream where everyone would love us and things would be calm: pastoral service.

Twenty plus years later I can tell you it has been a ride we never could have anticipated. So much so that only now do I feel equipped enough to share a…

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I’m very excited to introduce you to guest blogger Lynnwood King. He is the front man for the rock bands, The Heroine and The Revival. He’s a high energy, fully-charged vocalist with a heart for artists that is unmatched. 

I have had the privilege of working with some amazing talent from our city over the years. In my humble opinion anyone who steps out in faith to share their music and their heart through song is to be applauded.

Putting yourself out there in any capacity is sometimes a very difficult thing to do. You don’t know if you will receive praise or criticism. Most of the time you will get criticism. It will come from your friends, family, coworkers, and those you love most. It’s difficult to pursue a dream…any dream. That’s why I love musicians.

Musicians wear their hearts on their sleeves whether they want to or not. They share a song or a tune and leave themselves open to anyone who will listen. The harsh reality is until they develop a fan-base and their sound it can take many years to get past the critics.

I have been in this game a long time and thanks be to God I have had the privilege to continue pursuing my passion for music and touring long enough that even some critics moved on to other things. In some cases my critics, over the years, had a turn and have become some of my biggest fans and closest friends. That being said dare to dream.

Don’t stop – whatever your dream is. The dream for most musicians, contrary to popular belief, isn’t for riches or fame. It’s to share something they created with the world in the hope that it connects with someone, that it inspires, touches, encourages, and even changes someone’s life in some way. I have heard it said that greatness is in you. Well it is.

As my father-in-law, George Ramirez, would always say:

“The greatest songs are yet to be written, the greatest sermons are yet to be preached, the greatest books are yet to be written!”

Pursue the Dream. Trust God. Be patient.

534833_2945637857475_611862573_nI’d like you to meet my friend and today’s guest blogger, Jackie Williams. She lives in Toledo, Ohio, where she was born and raised. She is happily married with four great kids.

I LOVE science. Always have and always will. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut. Still do.

Bill Nye has a great scientific mind and I won’t “Jesus-juke” him by saying he is horrible, because he’s not. He makes very logical points. Some things can be explained and others can’t be. I am personally fascinated by the theory of evolution, and the scientific evidence that supports it. It is interesting stuff.

I believe that God created us to be inquisitive beings – to learn and discover. He gave us these gifts to draw closer to Him and reveal Himself; not to disprove that He exists or that His Word isn’t true. There is “room” for God in science and we shouldn’t be so close-minded to the point where we completely rule out anything that isn’t in the Bible.

But, at the same time our pursuit of the scientific answers to our questions should not rule out the One who gave us the drive to seek the answers. There’s nothing wrong with curiosity, experimentation, the pursuit of discovery, or science. This is how we grow as a human race. My only problem with Bill is that he wanted “proof” for something that largely requires faith.

One of my favorite quotes come from my favorite show, Star Trek DS9 which, of course, is a science fiction show:

“That’s the thing about faith. If you don’t have it, you can’t understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary.”

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We’re not a perfect family by any stretch. We’re not the most organized, we disagree, we spend too much time in front of our private screens and eat more meals apart from one another than I’d like.

We also laugh a lot, have been to hell and back, take great vacations and do some pretty cool stuff that I never imagined we’d do. In the end, we’re us and I like us.

I had a conversation this week that caused me to reflect on what I’ve passed on to my kids. It came down to a few simple ideas, which I probably failed at modeling more than I succeeded. But, here they are.

A PASSION FOR CREATIVITY

Something special happens when we create. Whether we do it for a living or not, there is a unique expression of the nature of God that takes place when we make something that did not exist before. A written word, a melody, an image…whatever the medium, when we take what is inside and put it out for others to see, we are reflecting the character of God unlike any other activity.

A BELIEF THAT EVERYONE MATTERS

Whether or not you believe in Him, God is your biggest fan. In fact, everyone matters to God. No one should be left out, marginalized, shunned. We are in the business of creating environments where the value of people is elevated. Whether it is in churches, business, entertainment, service…people should come first always.

THE NEED TO KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN

My kids have heard me say it over and over. I don’t care whether they sling food at a fast-food chain, rise to command a naval ship or become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I want them to achieve their goals because it was one of many options available to them, not because it was the only option they left themselves. Always keep learning. Stay curious. Dream big and find out what you need to do to realize your dream.

YOUR FAMILY IS WHERE YOU STARTED, BUT NOT WHERE YOU’LL END UP

We get our values, our worldview, our experiences – good and bad – from our families. When we venture out into the world we cross paths with others who have, for better or worse, grown up in their own unique family environment. I don’t want my kids to go into the world and limit themselves to create a home environment identical to the one in which they grew up. I want them to take what they experienced and decide how they will leverage that to create something new.

GRACE IS BETTER THAN KARMA

I will never be able to say this any better than U2′s Bono in an interview with French author and music journalist Michka Assayas:

“You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that ‘as you reap, so you will sow’ stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff…That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.”

LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE

One day some religious leaders asked Jesus what the most important commandment was. Jesus answered the question by saying that the most important thing to remember was to love God with everything you are. Then he gave them a freebie and said the second most important commandment was like the first and that was to love people. He said that all of the requirements of God’s law and the prophets were summed up in those two simple concepts: love God, love people. (Matthew 22.36-40)

What about you? What have you passed on to your kids or what did you glean from your home life?

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I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Shad Purcell, whose voice I hope we get to hear from time to time on this site. Shad is married to April and they have two sons, Samuel and Cooper. He is an avid runner, fantastic communicator and former teenage punk.

 

 

 

Dear Teenage Punk,

First of all I would like to say “I am happy for you.” It must be nice to own the world and the road I am trying to run on. I am glad that your friend finally passed the drivers’ test and managed to fill the car full of gasoline and adolescent angst. It must make your parents proud to know that you and your friends are driving nowhere in particular, but you sure are in a blazing hurry to get there. We see each other for a brief moment when you are zooming along at 70mph and I am steadily striding at 7mph. Thank you for taking time out of your busy evening to yell, bark, hoot, and holler at me while I am running. It is good to know that you are such a fan of running. Your noise would be commonplace in any stadium or sports bar, but I am glad that you are taking your enthusiasm to the road to support the lone runners of the world.

I wonder at times what evokes your impulse to yell at me. Do I know you? Are you trying to encourage me? Or are you just having fun at my expense? Whatever your reasons are for shouting at me, I’m okay. You shout and usually I flinch for a moment and then holler back. My heartbeat goes up and I run faster for a while. Your loudly thumping music reminds me of when I was once a teenage punk. Yes, years ago I was in the same hurry to go wherever something exciting or rebellious was brewing for the weekends. I used to frequent the same off the beaten path party spot you are in such a rush to get to. Do you realize yet how much the path you are on is beating the young life out of you?

I have this hope for you when all of the ecstasy of being young and wild has left you as fast as your savings on prom night. I hope you maintain your search for adventure and that you will find the never-ending adventure of running. I hope that you will come to understand the mystery of why we crazy runners brave the weather and the roads. I wish I could tell you why we run but the truth is that it can’t be described with mere words. You’ll have to run and run and run again just to begin to figure it out.

So, I’ll be looking down the road for you in about ten years when your young physique has been covered up with layers of Monday night football, fried chicken, and mass quantities of beer. I look forward to seeing you running down the road in attempts to get into shape before your high school’s ten-year reunion. When you get within an earshot of me, please don’t get mad when I return the overdue favor and yell at you. Of course I will be yelling to communicate some encouragement because running is tough. But, this road that we are running on is much more rewarding when we run to live rather than live to party.

Sincerely,
Shad “The Former Teenage Punk”

1234743_351890678279025_347193410_nLast summer, my son and daughter got together with a couple of their friends and started a band called Octahedron. Even though they’re my kids, I have to say that they’re pretty good. Others seem to think so as well as evidenced by the increasing number of invitations they are getting to perform around town and even in places outside of San Antonio where we live. Now and then someone will ask me what the kids’ backup plan is. My reply is not what people normally expect from the parent of a teenager with rock star dreams.

When someone says they want to be a doctor or a lawyer or start their own business, no one ever asks them, “What’s your backup plan?” But, when someone wants to be a musician or an actor or a writer there is often the thought that those pursuits are nice hobbies, but be sure you have something to fall back on. The people I know who have enjoyed success at their endeavors don’t have backup plans. Entering law school thinking about what you’re going to do if this doesn’t work out is probably a good indicator that you won’t make it. If a first year medical student is thinking about getting certified to teach science somewhere in case the whole doctor thing doesn’t pan out is probably not going to have the same level of success as the student who will be satisfied with nothing short of seeing “M.D.” after their name one day. When my San Antonio Spurs are on the court they can’t be thinking of how they will eject from the game if it looks like they may lose.

I’ve told my kids countless times that the only way they’ll even have a shot at success is if they have a “do or die” attitude. I don’t encourage them to have a backup plan.

Backup plans assume defeat as a possibility. Having a “do or die” perspective may not guarantee success, but it does guarantee you won’t fail because you were expecting to lose.

Rey Lo:

As the parent of 16 and 18 year olds, this was pretty timely.

Originally posted on The Culture Monk:

putting others in a box

by Kenneth Justice

~A couple weeks ago an older grandmother sat down at the table directly next to me with her college-aged granddaughter. For more than an hour the loud-stern voice of the grandmother spilled over onto my table; the older woman had brought the teen out to coffee in order to give her ‘the riot act’ regarding her lifestyle.

Apparently, the teen had taken a year off from college in a quest to ‘find herself’ and this did not fit into the grandmother’s plan for the young woman’s life, “I’ve had enough of your nonchalant attitude missy. You’ve got to take life more seriously and quit all of this silliness, your pissing away your life and I’m not going to stand for it anymore” said the grandmother.

.I’ve actually seen this type of conversation play out numerous times in the past but usually between parents and their…

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Rey Lo:

A picture is worth…

Originally posted on LightBox:

More than ever, photography has become the predominant means for us to communicate. An absolutely astounding number of pictures are shared every single day — half a billion, and rising. And yet somehow, even amid this colossal torrent of imagery, the best pictures rise to the top.

Our top ten photographs of 2013 celebrate a variety of images from a multitude of photographers, including seasoned photojournalists Tyler Hicks (the Westgate Mall Massacre in Nairobi), Philippe Lopez, (Super Typhoon Haiyan’s destructive wrath upon the Philippines), and John Tlumacki, for his extraordinary coverage of the terror bombing at the Boston Marathon.

The news has introduced to us several emerging photographers this year, including Mosa’ab Elshamy who documented the bloody demonstrations in Cairo’s Rabaa Square, and Daniel Etter, who made an iconic photograph during the Turkish uprising. In late April, activist and photographer Taslima Akhter made the single most haunting photograph of the fire that killed…

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original-1Sometime back someone had a really bad day. Maybe it was a bank teller who had the unfortunate experience of getting a string of unhappy customers. Perhaps a sales associate at Macy’s worked on Black Friday. Someone had one of the worst days of their lives, went home and designed a simple three word slogan: “MEAN PEOPLE SUCK”. The person who had the bad day made decals and then made a little money selling them to other people who had bad days.

After a time, someone – maybe it was the same person after rethinking the original sentiment – designed a response that read “MEAN PEOPLE NEED TO BE LOVED”. This is true. Everyone deserves to be loved. But that doesn’t make the original statement any less true.

When we consider that mean people suck, we usually think of what the word has come to mean colloquially, that is in the intransitive sense of the word:

suck [suhk] - to be repellant or disgusting as in “Poverty sucks.”

That is true. Mean people are repellant and make me want to leave the room. But, I would argue that mean people suck in the transitive sense of the word as well:

to draw by or as if by suction as in “Plants suck moisture from the earth. The pump sucked water from the basement.”

With each churlish act and insensitive word, mean people suck joy, trust and good will…they suck life.

The tragedy in all of this is not nearly as pronounced for the object of meanness as it is for the purveyor of it.

The mature person will walk away from a toxic situation. While they may have had their life dampened for a moment, distance and time will heal the wound.

The mean person has to live with themselves. Even if they are severely self-deluded they must not only carry the burden of the wounds they inflict upon others, which they will often cover up with arrogance and self-righteousness, but also the scars and pain inflicted upon them that is most often the root of their own anger.

The person who will not deal with the past that causes them to be toxic will continue to take the life out of their environment. They remain content and enjoy living in their own garbage, like Oscar and his trash can. What an awful and sad place to exist.

So, yes, mean people do need to be loved…but they still suck.

The story of my life

November 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

storylineI’ve done a reboot on a project I started some months back. Writer Donald Miller developed a process for helping people “gain focus, clarity, inspiration and a deep sense of meaning.” It’s called Storyline and I’ve found it to be a tremendously helpful means of helping me zero in on what I desire my life to be about.

Part of the process called for me to take a look at the positive and negative turns of my life and develop a theme. This held me up for a few days. I spend a lot of time staring at the writing on the pages of my book wondering what possibly might rise from the ashes of days gone by. After several days of wrestling I finally landed on something that I’m pretty excited about.

My life theme is to discover, communicate and live out stories of humility, justice and mercy.

The goal is to filter every decision I make through the lens of those words. I’m not sure exactly how this will play out, but I can’t wait to find out.