Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Joy of Seeing "Old" Youth...

A few times over the past few years, I've had the privilege of hanging out with former members of the youth ministries I've served. It is always a fun experience. Sometimes it has been as a "guest" of the former youth ministry (like when Missy and I went with the Chapelwood crew to Medieval Times a couple years back), allowing us to simply "be" there and hang out (and not feel "responsible" so much for the group), and at other times, it has been almost more as "friends" (like, when they are in-or even out- of college). Either way, it is a blessing to see them all growing up, and seeing them, sharing old stories, and even occasionally hearing them tell about how something I said or did during my tenure as their youth minister helped their faith is a huge joy.

Well, tonight, we get the honor of joining four former youth from my houston days (2001-2004) at a Texas Rangers game: Jason howeth, Josh hall, Kyle Guest, and Gray Jodon. They are wrapping up a total "guys dream road trip" where they've driven all over the easter part of our country going to baseball games (check out and Josh and Jason are full-on college vets, and Kyle/Gray are about to start. Missy and Jax are going too, so it will be a fun night all-around (and Jax's first MLB game!).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Excited for Sea World!

It's been a looong time since I've been on a true vacation...and Sunday after church, we will be taking what I believe is our first "true" family (me, Missy, and Jax) vacation: We are going to Sea World in San Antonio for a few days. Besides my excitement for 3 different types of parks that Sea World emulates (zoo, waterpark, theme park), I am excited for a deeper reason... The first trip I remember with my family was one to Sea World Ohio (now defunct I believe) when I was Jax's age (4). I actually still remember some "images" of Shamu, etc. from that time, and I can't wait for Jax to have similar experiences. Funny thing is we didn't plan it that way on purpose...Missy just started brainstorming vacation possibilities and we decided it would be a good one!

So, we are all getting excited!!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grumpy Christians...

First off, no, I haven't been bugged by a "grumpy Christian" too much lately. It's just a phenomenon I've always been perplexed by and feel led to discuss...

Second, I've come in contact with GC's ("Grumpy Christians"...too lazy to type it out) everywhere I've been (and I know I have been guilty of being a GC a few times myself...despite my normal "natural" cheery personality), so again, this isn't a commentary on current environments.

But the chronic GC still perplexes me.

I mean, here is a person claiming to be rescued by Jesus from the pit, invited into an eternal (both now and later) Kingdom with God, is freed, is redeemed, etc., and yet the GC still seems grumpy, angry, bitter, "down", and treats folks often with little respect for feelings, often seems to have little desire to show love, etc. Why is this? What follows is my "in no order" list of possible reasons/excuses:

*** "It's just my natural personality. Deal with it!" I know, I know, some of us are just made certain ways. Does that make behavior ok? Does that negate God's promise to make us "new creations in Christ" (since, if we use this excuse, it sure seems like we are unwilling to allow God to "do his thing"... For example, on the flip-side, I am a naturally easy-going a fault at times. I could just use it as an excuse to never be "strong", to never have to be the "bad guy", etc., and as a result, folks under my care can just run amok in anarchy. But God is changing me...and I know there are times I need to be those "stronger" things. Now, I may never be as hammer-down as some would like, or sometimes not naturally notice things needing that type of personality, but nevertheless, there are times I must let go of my personality as a crutch and allow God to work... I think GC's need to remember this one as well.

*** "My life stinks. I have every right to be upset/angry/unloving/bitter/etc." Once again, I can relate in spurts (in fact, I've kinda had this attitude some lately...but it's still not ok.), but what does this say about someone's true surrender to the Lord? I know, life can certainly be difficult, and God does not promise an always easy road despite being in his hands, yet do we not need to live a life of hope, joy, and love if we really believe all this Jesus stuff? I'm just saying...

*** "But if we were all nice and loving all the time, we would get walked over like crazy." This is true. We all need balance to work as the Body of Christ. But, we need balance (or at least a semblance of it) within our own hearts as well, and some are unwilling to accept some "opposite" traits, either within self or others. Jesus was "both". he would be strong (turning tables, "Go and sin no more", etc.) and incredibly (almost...too?) loving ( I mean, how many of us would REALLY do that? We would scream, "I don't deserve this!" But, we need balance...and I do as well (aka being bolder, stronger, etc.). All I ask is that GC's do the same allwoing God to make them more loving, sympathetic, merciful...

So there you go...and I'm sure someone out there is writing something like, "I'm sick of all these lovey-dovey, overly joyful Christians...I want some folks to lay the smack down!" You are right, too. Balance...let's embrace it in ourselves and others.

And smile, dang it! :-) GOD LOVES YOU!!!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wisdom Request: how do we get Jax to "behave" in church while still trying to encourage worship as a celebration (aka "not a drag")?

So a funny (sort of...) thing happened in church yesterday. I asked to give a mission trip update in front of the congregation, and I decided to let Jax join me. Lt's just say it was certainly entertaining (and MANY folks thanked my for doing that..."he sure brightened our day!"), but when we returned to our seat (in the central section of our sanctuary), we just couldn't get him to sit still, be quiet, etc. And I got increasingly frustrated/angry/embarrased. I did get up and leave with him once, but Missy came out to find us...simply put, I was too drained to deal with it, so I "removed" him.

My concern is (and I'd LOVE, L-O-V-E feedback), how can we get him "used" to church, teach him to not distract others, and at the same time not "teach" him that church is this boring, quiet, no-fun place? I want him to learn, and to worship. But church (I'm talking about most churches, not complaining about ours...just so you know) is often quiet...and he is not. Some would just have me "throw the hammer down" on him (figuratively of course), but I'm not sure that will get him to enjoy church... And I'm not talking about equating "enjoy" with "have fun" (stay tuned for that post...coming soon...).

And at the same time, I want myself and Missy to be able to truly focus while in a worship service. But, whenever we take Jax, it's a fight to just keep him somewhat still/quiet for more than a few minutes. And I fear we are distracting others... Most folks tell me they understand, but I don't buy it that everyone understands...and I will confess I've let my "fear of what others think of me as a parent" drive me at times.

So, what worked for you? Do we just sit in the back and patiently wait for Childrens' Church (usually about 1/3 of the way in to the service)? What if even back there he disrupts? Do we just get up and down and spank and punish until a) it's almost like we weren't even in the service and b) all he equates church with is mommy and daddy getting frustrated with Jackson?


Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Than a Feeling

(Yes, I just called this post the title of a Boston song...)

I am too fueled by emotion.

I mean, emotion is certainly not all bad. In fact, our emotions can be the extra "kick" that drives us to great things. We "feel" passionate for something and go for it. We "feel" empathy at the right time and someone is helped, loved, cared for. But if we only allow our living out of purpose to be emotion or "feeling" driven, we are in big trouble. I especially think we are in trouble in a following-of-Jesus context...

Think about it. You go on some "mountain top experience", a mission trip, retreat, etc., you "feel" awesome, close to God, on a high. You may even still "feel it" for a couple of days. But get tired. Your friends who don't give a flying flip about Jesus (and living for him) start calling, and they don't care about your nice feeling. Or your parents just were hoping for some peace and quiet while you were away, not for you to come back all "fired up for God", so your wind gets a bit taken out of your sails... But what will you do? Jesus knew it would be hard. Look at this:

18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13:18-23 NIV)

You may have read that before, who knows...but in addition to the obvious, "Some folks will just never really 'get it'"-connotations, I see a warning about letting emotions, feelings, and "stuff" run our hearts. I know it all too well...for example, I'm really tired right now (not just physically) after a fantastic second mission trip this summer...and my temptation is to just coast because I feel so emotionally, physically, spiritually (even...socaially?) drained. Are breaks good and needed? YES (and I will take one in a week), but that doesn't mean God isn't going to seek to use me. And I fear that is what we think: "I've been on this amazing thing, but God knows how hard I tried to be 'good', to work, etc., and so I'm sure he's cool if I just lay low and let loose a bit." That is a dangerous temptation. We also can end up with spiritual slumped-shoulders when "real life" hits us and we feel like we didn't deserve it ("God, I'm trying so hard...and look at all I've done...BLESS ME BLESS ME MAKE LIFE EASY!!!"). That's not it, either. Our faith must not be so easily swayed.

So which "seed" are you? One who doesn't give a rip at all? One who gets all excited about Jesus quickly, but likewise quickly just "forgets"? One who does hear and heed God's word...but lets emotion, feeling, stuff-of-life "neuter" you? Or some who allows roots to take hold, lives with purpose, seeks obedience above all else, and produces fruit?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

home again!

Well, my apologies for a blogging lull. One of the craziest months in memory (for our little family) appears to be over...not a bad thing (and I'm including Granny's passing in the "not bad" arena...but wow just lots of stuff!) So, some random musings...

*** Lufkin CTCYM trip ROCKED! Amanda Sargent was an INCREDIBLE Program Director (like, so gifted...). I've been around some good ones, but were perfect. I am grateful... My friends Cyndi and Julia were also on leadership (Lead Cook and Administrative Assitant, respectively) and hit grand slams. It is always an honor and joy to serve alongside them... But most of all God was very evident to all of us. Brad Yates (who has given us a new verb, "Yatesing", aka, "going and getting free stuff, info, etc. from ANYONE and making good things happen"...he truly qualifies as a beautiful human being) had never been on a junior high trip, and his admitted reservations were abated, even telling me, "I even think these jr. highs worked harder and did more than our sr. highs." Brad went on Sr. high last month as Worksite Coord. with 24 teams, 5 workdays, and they completed 30 sites... Our jr. highs? 7 teams (and two were essentially almost like 6 teams), only 4 workdays...and 19 sites completed...WOW. Essentially a 3-sites-per-team completed average vs. 1 per...and the sites were NOT easy. Woohoo!

*** had the best time ever with my "muses": Julia, Amanda, and Lorinda. More inside jokes than I can remember... "for Jesus!" You know it!

*** Jax and I are rockin' the wonder that is the "pillow fort" this morning. 'Nuff said. So fun...

*** A Davis Family Sea World Trip leaving next Sunday? Maybe? Stay tuned...

*** Finally, a busy week ahead (Center of hope Tuesday, Angus Beef Club Wed., general "start getting fall ready"-stuff, etc., and...)

*** Could I be immortalized on after July 31? Stay tuned... Gray, howeth, and Josh, get ready...

Friday, July 11, 2008

A great memorial service for Granny

I normally would have posted this sooner, but I needed to make a pre-mission trip excursion to Lufkin, TX, yesterday, so I will type a few highlights...

* It was nice to see all the folks in Taylor to remember Granny. Many came out of the woodwork.

* My sister, Jill, did a great job sharing some memories. I know she was not sure how well she'd "hold up", but it was a fitting tribute. These last couple years she did a great job (like 400X better than I) keeping tabs on Granny but calling her basically every day...

* My cousin Peg likewise did an outstanding job honoring Granny. She is just so funny and has an awesome was perfect.

* Rev. Gary Turner, a former co-ministry-worker with me, led the service and was so great. he focused on the legacy she fostered among her family, as he felt he could "see Granny, her faith, her priorities, etc." from being around me, etc. I was touched.

So, it was a very nice time. Funerals aren't really fun, but it wasn't a "cry fest" and I truly believe we celebrated Granny's life more than anguished that she is no longer with us...for now, of course :-)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fun "Granny Info"

Some fun tidbits about my Granny, written by my family...enjoy!

Alice Survant Davis (also known as “Mother,” “Granny,”
“Aunt Alice,” and “Alice-From-Dallas”)

Bits of information:

Things she loved:

Her beloved Angus, “the handsomest man you ever saw” who passed away in 1970 … her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren

Her extended family, friends and neighbors. Also the friends of her kids and grandkids who often thought of her as a second Mother, grandmother

Extended family get-togethers … especially 20+ years of Thanksgiving gatherings where up to 50 plus would gather … all at Alice’s urging … “Everyone knew you had to have a good excuse if you weren’t there.”

Flowers and gardening … if you didn’t trim it right, she’d be right behind you cutting it back even more … and she was always right.

Traveling with her kids, especially her trip to Hawaii where she and Angus always planned to go …. She was ready at 80+ to get a job waitressing just to stay there a little longer

Her photo albums and scrapbooks, which she kept up-to-date and loved to look at often

The Dallas Cowboys … especially Troy Aikman who may have been the only man she would have married … except Angus of course

Cherished traits:

The most amazing sense of humor

Games . . . She could always beat you at Rummy, Spite or Farkel

Always looked cute and well-groomed

Loved “playing” with her kids and grandkids, including going to a waterpark with a couple of grandkids at 70-plus years, bathing suit and all, and going down the waterslides, loving every second

A wonderful cook – Lazy Daisy Cake, fried chicken, homemade ice cream, smothered steak, fried pies

Favorite songs/music:

“How Great Thou Art”
“In The Garden”
“Amazing Grace”
“The Old Rugged Cross”

Patsy Cline … Willie Nelson …

Favorite scriptures:

Psalm 23

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1, 2

“No, the Lord is all I need. He takes care of me.” Psalm 16:5

“He is our God and we are the people He takes care of and the sheep that He tends.” Psalm 95:7 (NCV)

“Depend on the Lord; trust in Him, and He will take care of you.” Psalm 37:5 (NCV)

“And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NCV)

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

“Every detail of our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:28: (The Message Bible)

Special thanks:

To God, and His perfect timing

For the prayers and outpouring love and support, of family, neighbors and friends

To all the wonderful caregivers and nurses Mother had:


Granny's Obituary

Alice Survant Davis
1917 – 2008

Born August 19, 1917 in Thorndale, Texas to Ervin P. and Nora Beard Survant, Alice Survant Davis took her final trip into the waiting arms of her Savior on July 6, 2008 surrounded by her surviving children in the home she shared with her daughter, Ann Davis, in Carrollton, Texas. She also is survived by her son, Hardie Davis and his wife Jane of Kingwood, Texas, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Angus Davis, in 1970 and her son, Don Davis in 1999. She also was preceded in death by her parents, three brothers, Ervin, Frank and Bill Survant, and three sisters, Neva Unangst, Nina McConnell, and Glorice Green. She instilled the importance of family and love of family to all she came in contact with as exhibited by the successful efforts made by her grandchildren to see their “Granny” in the weeks before her death. Her grandchildren and spouses include Derek and Ana Davis, Lesli and Judson Mallard, and Douglas and Heather Davis, all of Athens, Georgia; and Ben and Missy Davis of Weatherford, Texas and Jill and Glen Patton, of College Station, Texas. A resident of Dallas County for almost 50 years, she was a member of Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch, Texas. Funeral arrangements are pending through Condra Funeral Home in Taylor, Texas. Burial will be in Thorndale City Cemetery.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Granny, 1917-2008

Granny is home!

Granny is with Jesus!

Granny is no longer in pain!

Granny is with Angus (my Granddad I never knew)!

I will miss Granny...but I am so excited for her as well. Tears are mostly tears of joy and gratitude for her life!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

"WALL-E"= Muy Bueno!

So Jax and I went to see WALL-E today so Missy could have one more study session before her TexES test tonight. Now, i didn't really know what to expect...most reviewers raved about it, and some friends approved of the film, while a couple of the teens from church complained about it ("There was like no talking for the first 45 minutes!" complained one).

Well, let me chime in: I thought it was outstanding.

As purely entertaining as a Toy Story or The Incredibles? Not really...even though it certainly entertained. As creative and visually stunning as Ratatoullie? Probably. As heart-strings-gripping as Finding Nemo (especially since I have a son whom I would search the entire oceans for if need be, just like Nemo's dad, Marlin)? Absolutely.

But it had more...a true "social commentary" ran throughout, and it wasn't necessarily the obvious, "we create a lot of trash"-theme that seems to be on the surface. No, it was a commentary on our current (at least in "developed nations") trend where if we aren't careful, we will forego all physical contact, all emotional attatchments, and will do all we can to not actually TALK to each other (in person at least). And as a result, without some caution, we will just become a society of lazy "giant infants", doing as little as possible and simply seeking to be fed and entertained...

Problem is that I even have some traits like this. Some are changing (thankfully!), but still around at times. I certainly can get into a "season" where I just try to get way with doing nothing (or at least as little as possible). And if I can avoid a phone call, email will certainly do! But, I am different than many in today's America... I would MOST OF ALL want to meet in person with folks. I may avoid the phone...but I'd still just love to hang out and meet. Yet many I see today (especially teens) would just assume text message each other (I even know teens who text each other...EVEN when they are in the SAME VAN!) instead of talk in person. And even adults I fear are becoming too "plugged in": I just don't know what to do about all these "Star Trek" Blue Tooth earpieces...folks just CAN'T seem to ever be "unavailable" anymore! Oh well, call me old fashioned. I just think we need to unplug a bit (ironic, as this entire "thought" is being typed on a computer!) and plug back into social interaction, into physical activity, into true community...

So thank you, Pixar, for creating a beautiful film that I hope makes us all think a bit...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More Than Fine

"More Than Fine", by Switchfoot

When I wake in the morning,
I want to blow into pieces.
I want more than just ok, more than just ok.
When I'm up with the sunrise
I want more than just blue skies.
I want more than just ok, more than just ok.

I'm not giving up, giving up, not giving up now.
I'm not giving up, giving up, not backing down.

More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just ok.

When I'm lit with the sunrise.
I want more than just a good time.
I want more than just ok, more than just ok.

I'm not giving up, giving up, not giving up now.
I'm not giving up, giving up, not selling out.

More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just ok.
More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just ok.

More than oceans away from the dawn.
More than oceans away from the dawn.
More than oceans away from who we are
More than oceans, more than oceans, yeah.

More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just ok.
More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just ok.

This is how I feel today/lately... Not awful (despite some tough circumstances going on right now), but wondering if there is more than just ok...more than just getting by...

Why do I feel just "ok" though? My guess is it's my sinful, selfish nature coming out. I mean, sure, one could look at my criteria right now and say, "You have every right to only be 'ok' right fact, ok is pretty good!", but for some reason I don't feel like that's "it". I think that God has so much more for us..."more than oceans" (that's a bunch if you really step back and ponder...). I mean, heck, Christ's death and resurrection alone to pay for my sins should be enought to make my entire life one gigantic woohoo! But for some reason, that doesn't feel like enough at quote some different lyrics, like sometimes I "still haven't found what I'm looking for" (even though Bono shares his faith in God's Kingdom, etc...but still feels lost sometimes...).

I want oceans. I want more than fine.

But what does that mean? Material things? I doubt that...even though my human side gan "go there" if not careful. An easy life? Again, probably not the point. But what?

9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
***John 10:9-11 (NIV)

", and have it to the full."

I need to really ponder that one and ask God to really show me what that means. And my guess is: I probably already some way or fashion...I just too easily forget, or am too easily swayed to doubt, or just let the "me" in me take over too much.

Bottom line: God has given me life, a good, no, GREAT life. I eat. I stay I have friends to share life with. A wonderful family. And most of all, a redeemer, savior, and king: Jesus. It can be tough, it can be rough, but ultimately I am more than fine...I am God's kid! Now, what more, really, do I need to realize God has blessed more than I even can fathom? Given more mercy? Given more love?

Oh God, my heart cries out to LIVE this realization! I am yours!

things i've learned lately in no order

*** Stress can make people really do strange things

*** Jax really loves wave pools

*** When times are "interesting", God somehow gives us the strength to keep going, do what needs to be done, etc., but we need to know it's there...

*** My wife Missy is a hoss and is more selfless than I give her credit

*** In many cases, toward the end of someone's life, you just have to "forget" what is going on, how they are acting, etc., and choose to remember the "real" them instead...aka take things with a grain-of-salt...

*** I have to be careful and seek balance in tough times...easy to let things "slide" that don't need to...or even forget some things altogether (why I always need to remember the second point above...)

*** Always thank folks for being so understaning of your "crud" that you can't help...but try to not take them for granted (I hope I'm not...)

*** Almost-4-year-olds have alot of energy at the worst moments sometimes!

*** Almost-4-year-olds have alot of love to give at the right moments sometimes!

*** Be grateful. At all times.

*** Seek first the Kingdom of God... (

*** Teens can really wow you at times...just when you start wishing they "got it" a bit more...

*** Teens can really make you scratch your head sometimes...because you thought they "got it" a bit more...

*** I really miss my wife when she's been gone for a few days

*** Chuck Norris jokes crack me up..whoever started that craze is greatness!

*** God is Good, all the time...all the time, God is Good (thanks Cyndi for making that a "mantra" for all of us to remember, believe and LIVE!)

Oh God, I love you and thank you for life, for love, for everything. help me to be grateful in all things. help me to serve You alone as a husband, father, friend, pastor, and human. Remind me to remember the forgiveness you have given to me, a messed up dude. help me to truly repent and turn 180-degrees from sinful attitudes, actions, thoughts, desires. Let me revel in the strength and rest you provide. Muchas gracias for all blessings you bestow. Woohoo and amen!