Friday, June 30, 2006

James 5:16 - The Pain of Reality

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

Before I write the rest of this blog, I want to thank each of you who read/have read what I have to say and are thoughtful enough to leave me encouraging messages and comments. It truly means much to me to know that people actually care about the dribble that comes out of my brain. Thank you so much.

Now, it's time to get down to business. This is probably the toughest blog I have written and may be the toughest I'll ever write. If you've ever had an experience that made you change the way you think, speak, or live your life, you'll understand where I'm coming from. We just came back from the North American Christian Convention in Louisville, KY. The convention gave me one of the biggest reminders/wake-up-calls/reality checks I've had in the longest time. You see, the constant, underlying theme of the convention was unity. It was mainly about church unity but the thing that got to me, much more than church unity, was something that Jeff Walling (preacher in Charlotte, NC) said. He was talking about "Sunday clothes." You know what I'm talking about. We put on our best faces when we're around "people who matter" but as soon as we're alone or around the people closest to us, that's when we get real. That's when all the ugly comes out. That's when we start talking badly about people, going places we have no business going, being who we really are...ugly, rude, mean, selfish, bitter, lonely, unhappy, pitiful people. Take me for example. I'm in a semi-high-profile position among Christian music listeners and supporters. I am blessed beyond measure to be able to travel across the country and around the world proclaiming the good news of Christ and his love for me. I get to see so many great places, meet unbelieveable people, eat incredible food and be treated like one of the most important people in town for different periods of time. It's great. All I have to do is act like a good Christian guy and it's all good. Here's the problem, folks. I mess up every day and I don't know how to stop. I want to share something with you that I wouldn't normally share but it needs to be said. I AM A SINNER AND A MESS!!! I wouldn't want anyone to live this mess that I call a life. I've screwed that up plenty well, thank you. The thing with which I am struggling the most at the moment is gossip. To some, that doesn't sound too terrible but it is devastating to me. When you hear rumors about yourself, especially rumors that are untrue, you get upset and take offense. When you hear rumors about yourself, especially when they are true, you feel betrayed and your reputation is ruined. Now, let's turn that around. When you're talking trash about people, you're ruining their reputation. You're betraying their trust. You're losing what could be a dear and valuable relationship. STOP IT!!! It's not worth the pain to talk mess about folk. If I were to talk trash about you, you wouldn't be reading what I'm writing. We probably wouldn't be considered friends, would we? We need each other more than ever so that we can stand up for what is right. There is strength in numbers. I know that I can't improve my attitude or my actions without help. But understand this. GOD LOVES US SO MUCH THAT HE WAS WILLING TO SUFFER MORE THAN ANY OF US EVER COULD, AND GIVE UP HIS SON'S LIFE SO WE COULD HAVE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE. It's called grace. Without his grace, I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing. I am a dead, useless, lifeless, waste of space. God doesn't have to have me living on this earth. He wants me living on this earth so I can make him proud. The same goes for you. We are here for God's pleasure, not for his pain. Therefore, let's learn how to live our lives the right way. Whatever junk you're dealing with in your life, there is no better time than the present to let God clean it up. We're at the prime of our lives. Not because of our ages nor the stage we are currently in, but because there is no time like the present to make a change in our lives in order to please God. I'm on my knees begging you (I wish you could see me right now) to open your heart to what the Lord has to offer you. His grace is true, his power is immeasurable, and his love is unconditional. Whatever you're going through or have been through can be taken away and you can have a fresh start if you simply ask God. Talk to him. He's waiting to hear from you. When you do, would you pray for me too? I need it desperately. In the same way, I'll pray for you. That's what our calling is, no matter our profession. Again, I end up talking to myself. I think there's a pattern here. Blessings!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Big Ron: The Man, The Myth, The Legend (as seen on myspace)

I remember growing up in Texas with my family. I was blessed to have a mom and dad who took care of me and showed me love in ways that some kids unfortunately never experience. I also had a brother around for the first 8 years or so. Ron Williams was born 10 years and 3 days before me and, when I was growing up, he was about 10 times bigger than me. He taught me about life in the real world. He had some interesting ways of doing that, though. Sometimes he'd share great music with me (Run DMC, Aerosmith, The Fat Boys, Prince, AC/DC, Sugar Hill Gang, Ready for the World, etc), sometimes he'd pick on me and make me defend myself (that's how I learned the phrase "They're just jealous."). Sometimes he'd have to babysit me while my folks were out of town, so he'd make me take responsibility for myself by doing extra chores (mine and his). He went off to college when I was 9 and we started seeing less and less of each other. It was while he was away that I began to realize how much of a hero he was to me. By his example, he showed me how cool it could be to be a Christian and to be unashamed of it. He would "encourage" his friends and teammates (he was a lineman on a football scholarship) to go to church with him. There weren't many people at that church (or at that school) but he always had at least one guest with him. I'd go and visit some weekends and I'd go with him to round up friends to go to worship assembly. He'd bang on their dorm room doors with his humongous hands or kick the door with his size 17 foots and make sure those guys got to the building on time. The epitome of boldness.

He moved to California right after he graduated from college (that's where he was born and lived his first 8 years on Earth, and where our Gram lived). He had to return to Texas only a couple of months after he left so he could attend our mother's funeral. She lost her battle with breast cancer on September 17th, 1989, which was one of the last times Ron was in Texas. After that, I had to go to California if I wanted to see him. Fortunately we'd go every summer to visit and we had some great times together. He showed me the meaning of pure, unadulterated, heart-felt worship. I don't remember ever hearing him sing softly, especially in a church setting. He was the first to start calling me "Rob" on a regular basis, which is why I still go by that name. He also taught me that it was okay to wait a little while to get married. He was 28 when he got married and he started having kids soon afterward. The rest of my brothers (and my dad) got married in their early 20's or late teens. He showed me that people are just people, no matter who or where they are. I remember this one time when I went to visit him and his family. We were driving to his house from the airport and stopped at McDonald's drive-thru to grab a quick bite of dinner. When we pulled up to the window, he spoke to the guy serving us like he spoke to me, his brother. They had never met before but Ron treated him like they were lifelong friends. Ministry in action.

Ron had been my counselor at church camp, my teacher of life skills, and my best friend. He was the one I always called when I needed a boost. He always seemed to know just the right thing to say to make my day go better, or to motivate me to be the man I've been called to be. On March 28th, 2003, God decided that Ron had served his time here on Earth and took him Home. His body left but his spirit remains strong in everyone he came across. You can see him in his daughters, Shinarri and Bethany, his wife, Melissa, his sister, Rahnee, and her daughters, Sumaya, Miriam, Corrine, and even baby Felicity (the ones in the picture with me...that I can't get to load...long story...maybe later). You can see him in his former students/youth groupers. You can see him in his friends and family. You can see him in me, especially when I'm on stage.

I write this on this day because this is the day he was supposed to turn 40. I always envisioned us growing older and our kids playing together while we sat on the front porch and talked about old times. I guess that won't happen in this life but I have the feeling that anything is possible in Heaven.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Brilliant, Bloody Brilliant: A Magic Moment from Colorado

If you love food like I do, you'll love this post. Growing up with a southern family, I learned at an early age the significance of gravy (if you don't like gravy, I'm not talking to you...and shame on you). It's a well-known fact (and should be a law) that gravy makes the world go round...figuratively speaking, of course. You can put gravy on most anything and improve the quality of the dish tenfold. That's the nature of gravy. Its function, if you will. Gravy is good. Then, if you add stuff to said gravy, like meat, the improvement is improved tenfold, making for some serious improvement. It's magical, really.

For the past several years, I've prided myself in making really good breakfast burritos. I have a certain recipe I created by experimentation (and I change it pretty much every time I make the burritos). Usually, when people eat my breakfast burritos, their taste buds are satisfied and they become closer friends with me...or at least they want to. I mean, what's better than eggs, bacon, chorizo, and cheese wrapped in a tortilla? Not much, I should guess (if you don't like breakfast burritos, I'm not talking to you either...and again, shame on you).

Now, imagine this scenario. Let's say we have 2 guys who are roommates and they are eating breakfast together one fine spring morning. We'll name one Fred and the other Earl. I don't know why Fred and Earl, but I also don't know why it has to be a fine spring morning, so it doesn't really matter, does it? Anyway, Fred has a tasty breakfast burrito and Earl is enjoying some biscuits and sausage gravy. They both want to eat each other's food but they want to eat their own as well. They both have a little left over (big breakfast) so Earl gets the bright idea, or maybe it was Fred, to pour some of the gravy on the burrito. BRILLIANT!!! You've got your breakfast burrito that tastes great alone. You've got your gravy that, as I stated earlier, makes the world go round. Putting these two elements together has just unleashed a new breakfast beast that cannot, and will not, be tamed. Thank you Fred and Earl!

How do I know so much about this magical concoction? Because I witnessed its power firsthand. We ate breakfast at Lois' Place in Grand Junction, CO. It was there that I partook in the goodness that is the Country Burrito. I was so awestruck I couldn't sit still. I went on and on about the plate of magic I was eating until I succeeded in annoying everyone within a 10 ft. radius. I didn't care, though. The world needed to know about the taste enlightenment I was experiencing. That's why I wrote this blog. I felt like I needed to continue sharing the joy I had. I will continue to share it with all who will give an ear. It's that important to me. Maybe you can experience it too. Or maybe you already have and you haven't told me about it yet. If you're that person, once again, shame on you!