Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One of the best gifts

Lori and I are holding two stars, each made by Jordan at Preschool! He brought them home about two weeks before Christmas and placed them under the tree!

He was so excited that these two gifts were the first to be opened Christmas morning! He was so happy to give something that HE made!

Jordan gets it! He understands the joy of giving something because it means so much to him! Perhaps that's the power of giving our hearts/lives to others. It means more because we are giving something precious...ourselves! Would you consider making a larger commitment to invest in someone else in 2009? Would you consider giving without expectation of return? Would you give and not attach strings?

If you consider the example of Jesus Christ, He gave knowing some would respond and others would not, but He did not withhold himself because they would waste the gift! Jesus gave anyway! What will you do? What will I do?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Life is a Puzzle

Yesterday our family was working on a huge puzzle. As part of our time together, we discussed how a puzzle is like "decisions" or "our lives". Maddie and Austin had some good insights that I wanted to share. Of course, like most examples, they may break down if pushed out too far, but bear with the simplicity and you will understand why we had such a good talk.

*Puzzles begin like a mess! It's just a pile of stuff. Sounds like life!
*Most people work on the edges first. The edge becomes a guide by which we can successfully complete the picture.
*We talked about God being just like the perfect straight edge of the puzzle. By His direction and boundaries we can complete a great "decision" or "life".
*Trial and error is part of completing a puzzle, just like life or decisions.

Friday, December 26, 2008

If there EVER was a look to describe Christmas!

Just a candid shot of Jordan on Christmas eve, but it really tells the story. He has been the best, looking forward to Santa and presents!!!!

The boy is very funny. During the Christmas Eve service at Heights Church he leaned over to me and said, "Dad, you smell like beef and cheese". It's a movie line from "Elf" and I about died laughing!

Thanks Jordan for being one of the best parts of Christmas 2008. Most of all I thank God for sending the best gift of all...Jesus!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Very Simple

Merry Christmas! I hope your celebration of Jesus' birth is great!

Monday, December 22, 2008


A friend asked me about what it means to condemn? Part of the discussion could center around our responsibility to speak the truth to other followers of Christ or part of the discussion could center around calling sin, "Sin"! I would be interested in your thoughts.

I believe we need to be honest about what is true and right, however we need to balance that truth with love for others around us! Sometimes we get too far into judgment and forget to pay attention to our own "junk". Other times we neglect to speak what is true out of fear of being hurtful.

Perhaps we need to learn to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).

Is it possible to condemn in a right way? What role does condemnation play in our lives? What role should it play? How did Jesus handle condemnation?

I look forward to further discussion!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Come vs. Go

As a Christ follower, I have grown up on the church. My first 19 years were in Oklahoma in a small town then on to Southern California, the St. Louis area and now Prescott, AZ. I have attended church for the better part of 35 years. During that time, the message was subtle but nonetheless clear! "Come to church and hear the message".

Over the past year I have been challenged to reconsider that message. The "church" Jesus was establishing had the word "GO" involved. In the final scene of His life on earth, Jesus said,

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

The book, "Organic Church" says, if we are going to be the church we have to be willing to sit in the "smoking section". That means we have to GO meet people where they are and tell them about Jesus in that place. The author goes on to say that we shouldn't say, "Stop smoking and I will tell you about Jesus".

Step 1. GO
Step 2. Meet and let people start where they start
Step 3. Love them (you are not condoning sin or validating lifestyle by loving people. Jesus spent time with cheats, prostitutes, the sick and loved them without condoning their lifestyle)
Step 4. Whatever change in them is up to God. You are not the Holy Spirit! You are not the one who changes people! Your role is to GO and meet people with the love of God.

Parkway Christian Church in Surprise, AZ changed their youth ministry into this model and they are experiencing amazing results. Flatirons Community Church near Boulder, CO practices this method of going out, so their weekend services are full of people who have never been to any church service before.

As for me...I am GOING out to meet people and see what God has in store. Join me!

Friday, December 19, 2008

David and Goliath

There are so many different ways to discuss the story of David and Goliath found in 1 Samuel 17 of the Bible. Yesterday morning I participated in a discussion about this famous story with a group of men over coffee.

We talked about COURAGE. We talked about the CONFIDENCE of the opposing army (Philistines) with their great warrior. We talked about David not seeing the battle as SWORD vs SWORD.

For me, the greatest insight was pointed out by Mark Womack! He talked about David spending so much time as a young shepherd alone in the fields with the flock that he did not regard the battle the same way the soldiers regarded it! Every solider saw the huge opponent and could not imagine battling him directly.

David comes on scene and volunteers for the fight because he is not going to battle "sword to sword" or "spear to spear"! David is going fight based on experience. He faces Goliath with the weapons he knows how to use.

Here is where it really came to life for me! Mark connected David's relationship with God formed out in the field with not seeing the battle like the other soldiers. David could not understand battling Goliath in any way other than his training. He would use a sling and stones!!!!

How many times do we face Giants in life but assume that we MUST face them with the weapons that THEY CHOOSE???? Could I learn to see my challenges through a different lens? Could I assume a different set of rules to operate with?

I believe David found a new way to see battles. Can I follow his example? Can you?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Normal struggles

Lori, my incredible wife, and I were having a "normal" discussion that I believe many couples have. The circumstances or topic may not be the same as other couples but I reminded that what we struggle through is a normal part of life.

We were fighting through how to meet each others needs in a busy time with 3 kids, jobs, busy schedules, expectations, hurt feelings and me being too sensitive. I am such a baby!

In the end, we reaffirm our love for each other and continue on our road TOGETHER. I don't know how it will end completely, I just know that I am traveling WITH HER to the end! We work toward allowing each other to grow and change through life.

I hope this helps you in your relationships with other people. Whether a spouse or a friend, those people in your life are worth your effort to grow and understand. People are the most important commodity on our planet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extreme Makeover vs. Biggest Loser

John is a Middle School Pastor at a local church. He recently made this comparison while teaching some students. It's simple but profound. Consider these simple concepts with me.

1. "Extreme Makeover" was a show that would provide corrective procedures to change the outward appearance of the participants. They would have cosmetic surgery, hair styles, workout routines and dental issues repaired. It was cool, but the change was intended to be primarily outside moving toward inside change.

2. "Biggest Loser" is a show that teaches it's participants about HOW they go into the shape they are in and what needs to change to keep them from that ever again! The learn healthy eating habits, workout routines but the real challenge is to deal with their internal "demons".

If we seek CHANGE, then the pathway begins inside of ourselves. We can ACT like we are different and it may appear that we are different, but if we haven't addressed internal issues then the change is superficial at best.

It is possible to fool others into thinking what we want them to think about us because we can control the appearance, but don't be fooled. In 1 Samuel 16 it says, "Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart". Simply, you could fool me, but you and God both know what's really going on inside.

Why don't you become a "Biggest Loser" like me and work to be different from the INSIDE OUT!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Follow up to "Christmas this year" post

If you read the post from last Sunday, and read Matt's comments in reply, you will better understand what I am going to write next.

First, let me lay some groundwork. Matt and I are friends, in fact his desk at work sits 20 feet from mine. Matt loves the Church as the Bride of Christ and will defend her from attacks.

Matt's point in writing was to ask me to not unfairly blame the "church" for judgment of people. In actuality it's not the church that judges's PEOPLE who judge people. The act of judgment happens in and out of church by young & old, black or brown, Christian or not Christian.

My purpose in writing the "Christmas this year" post was declare the love God has for everyone regardless of what you may feel.

Part of what has transpired in my life over the past few years is a search to better follow Jesus Christ, to understand what the church is supposed to look like and what I should do to help the American Church become what God wants.

As for me, I have determined that the Church in America today may not be all that Jesus desires it to be, but I AM GOING TO BE PART OF IT! I believe that Jesus wants me, as an individual, to follow Him. When I follow Him, act as He acted, live like He lived, love like He loved, invest in what He invested in then I am becoming part of the Church that He desires.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A long run

Yesterday afternoon Greg and I want out the Peavine Trail to continue the training for our first marathon! The schedule called for 19 miles. Bottom was going to be ugly!

The temperature was about 37 degrees and breezy. Over the next 3 hours it did not get any warmer and the wind was difficult to deal with. We both survived the day with Greg finishing all 19 miles and I made 18!

I was reminded about taking on big challenges in life! During the run I had an option to bail out and only run 14. It sounded good, but I kept my mouth shut and just kept going with Greg taking the lead! By the end of the day, we had each gone farther then ever before. While I did not complete my goal, it was great to achieve something more than I have ever done before.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas this year.

The parties have begun for the Coyne family. Last night was the annual Anderson party. Tonight is a small group party and Tuesday night is a staff party for David.

We are busy preparing the Christmas card (a long process). The pictures are taken, ordered and ready. The letter is written and all of that has been stuffed into the envelopes. Just the labels remain and that part of Christmas is ready to go!

It's beginning to look and feel like Christmas. I awoke this morning to a light dusting of snow with more forecast over the next few days. In the midst of it all, we are watching lots of kids Christmas shows and all claim the same thing: "the real meaning of Christmas".

Well, my take on Christmas as we see it today is based on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the most influential figure of all time. For us today, it's more than just a birth that we celebrate. The message behind the birth is this: God loves YOU and you are never too far away to made right with Him.

I hope this message is an encouragement to you. Too often we feel the sting of judgment from people who attend church, we feel like we are unworthy because we make mistakes (sin) and we think that God is going to get even with us or something. God's message at Christmas is one to remind us that He Love You! You can be in a relationship with Him and not be "religious" (doing just that actions of faith). I would encourage you today to find someone who is following Jesus and ask them to explain God's love to you!

Understanding God's love is the best gift you will ever get at Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Flarp! It's for boys!

Jordan received a gift that would make any young boy smile. It's a plastic jar full of a goo that makes a farting sound when you push your hand into it!

The picture says it all. For what seemed like hours, he ran around and said, "Wait, I got one" and would make the noise, laugh hysterically and repeat.

I love boys! They are so crude. Perhaps someday Jordan will grow to be like me (a man who loves Flarp too).

May you enjoy the season through the eyes of a child.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

13 years

Today is my oldest child's 13th birthday! It's a great milestone for the Coyne household and for me as well. Today, I become a dad for 13 years. When my wife reminded me of that this morning, it made me smile.

I love being a dad! I love teaching and leading these children in our care. While we take this responsibility very seriously, we also remember that these three children; Maddie, Austin and Jordan are on loan to us. They have always been a gift from God and we will treat them as such!

Today we celebrate Maddie turning 13 and she is amazing! She is so much like her mother and that makes her even better (in my opinion)! She is kind, hard working in school, driven to do well, she loves people and communicates well. She loves people, the environment and animals!

If you think of it today, say a prayer from my Maddie. Ask God to help her continue to become an amazing woman who will make a difference in this world, or even better encourage a child around you with the same prayer and support.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Book

"God Came Near" is a great book to help celebrate Christmas! We used it last night during a small group discussion at my home. We read the chapter titled "The Arrival". It's an artful retelling of what happened the night Jesus Christ was born and how people missed him!

As only Lucado can write it, he declares that people missed the birth of the Savior not for any bad reason, "the missed him because they simply weren't looking."

Sometimes we get confused! If something doesn't happen like we think it will, then we miss it. God, from the beginning, was introducing a Kingdom that was backwards from what most thought it would be like.
...the King was born as a poor child in a stable
...the greatest among you will be the servant win, you must loose
...Jesus cared more about meeting those rejected by society, than those of power, wealth or influence

Are we guilty of missing Jesus today? Do we miss Him because we "simply weren't looking?"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Who are you walking with?

Last Friday I sat in a small group of people and enjoyed a dialogue with Wayne Jacobson. He is an author and pastor, most notably he contributed to "The Shack" and is the publisher of that book as well.

One phrase that Wayne used has stuck with me since. It sticks because it helped create some "form" to the function that I have been following. Whether in a local church or not, house church or work place the question we need to be asking is "who are we walking with?".

From my perspective I take it deeper to ask, "who is God wanting me to walk with?" It might be someone on a flight to just have a good conversation. I am learning to enjoy more about those I meet, trying to listen and understand. This is a new challenge because I was taught to have conquests for Jesus. You know, "I have to win them for the Lord"! Now I find myself talking and listening instead of having an agenda.

The basis of this type of life is "roles".
I believe that I have a role to play and so do others!
I believe that God has a role to play in the lives of those I contact.
I believe God wants people to understand His love for them FIRST.
I believe people understand mistakes or wrongdoing even if they don't admit it!
I believe our world needs more love than judgment. There is enough condemnation already!
I believe the "Church" needs to see the example of Jesus Christ in the Bible as an example to follow...He loved everyone.
I believe Jesus challenged the religious of His day and loved those who were scorned by that same group.

What role are you going to play? Are you going to invest, listen, love, understand and walk with those whom God puts in your path? Will you have an agenda of winning them or will you let God play His role of life-change? Will you let the Holy Spirit of God bring conviction or will you try to play the voice of God and bring conviction?

For those who read my blog...Thanks! I write it as part of my process to continue to follow Jesus everyday. I hope you find it worthwhile occasionally. I don't have any grand designs other than that!

Friday, December 5, 2008


It's one of my friends favorite ways to describe work, "Making Progress" is what he will say. He is talking about moving forward on a big project or knocking out a number of smaller items in hopes of getting a lot accomplished.

For me, progress means getting further, but it's not always forward! My guess, this is your experience as well. You take two steps forward and one backward.

In my marathon training the schedule calls for long runs on the weekend like 14miles, 15 miles, 9miles. The next set of 3 weekends is 17miles, 18miles and 13miles! Looks like two steps forward and one step back.

In learning to follow Christ we make incremental steps of learning and doing then fall backwards. I have come to believe and support this type of progress as our camp works with students. Incremental progress is normal. We should expect it and continue the process forward as best we can. For this reason, I now use "Following" Christ as a way to describe what I am doing.

For me and many others in my life, we are following Christ. Instead of equating church attendance, service in church, giving a tithe weekly and more as equal to being a Christian. I know am practicing the art of following Christ. I still attend church, give and will serve again soon, it's not what it means to be a Christian for me any longer.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Okay, I am a fan of FairTax. The only way this legislation will ever pass if WE THE PEOPLE force our representatives to do it!

In short, FairTax removes all withholding from your paycheck. It eliminate the IRS and Social Security payments from your check. "Take Home Pay" does not exist any longer. You take home all your pay.

Business no longer have FICA matching and their taxes disappear as well! Instead of taxing based on wages, FairTax is a tax on spending. 23% is buried in the price of goods/services purchased. IT IS NOT 23% OVER THE PRICE.

Here are my top 3 favorite things about FairTax.
1. Anyone visiting the US that buys goods will contribute to our Social Security system. 75 million people annually.
2. Money made illegally could now be taxed.
3. Households "legally" in America will receive rebates monthly for essentials like groceries and medicines based on poverty level. There is an actual penalty for being in America illegally.
4. Of the top 500 companies in the world, 400 said they would build their next plant in America and the remaining 100 said they would relocate the entire operation to America.
5. "Offshore" money would be better suited here in America which would help the economy.

The trick is convincing politicians to pass legistation that will remove their power and the power of many lobyists, etc! Think about.

I like Neal Bortz book "Fair Tax; Answering the Critics". Check it out.