Simple Things

I love Thanksgiving.  It is, hands down, my favorite holiday.  What’s not to like?  There’s family, food and thankfulness.  It is pretty simple.  Unless you’ve gone off your rocker completely, there are no “thanksgiving gifts” to buy, no “thanksgiving cards” that need to go out with our picture on it and definitely no dude in a suit that we pay to sit on his lap and tell him what we want for Thanksgiving!  I’m thankful for that last one.  The stress is pretty minimal, except for the visiting relatives and cooking, and it is all about enjoying the relationships that you have and the food that’s in front of you.  I won’t mention Black Friday because that’s Christmas related. :)

Sure, it can be a reminder for those who are not with us as well.  I have a few people in mind when I say that.  There is a vacuum and a void that we all experience because of the empty seats at the Thanksgiving table.  If I can be so bold, I’d say I’m even thankful for those who are not present.  Nope, I’m not thankful that they’re not there, that is the void that we are experiencing.  I am thankful for the fact that they made an impact on my life and the lives of those that I love.

Back to Thanksgiving.  I love the simplicity of a day that we are all forced to stay home and occupy the same space.  I love that the focus of the day is being thankful.  Thankfulness is one of the most underrated spiritual disciplines of our day.

We are about to move into a season where every commercial is designed to make us feel like we are missing something.  Thankfulness reminds us that God has provided us with everything that we need.  We are complete in Him.  As you sit with your family today, remember that.  Remember God has supplied all of our needs according to His riches and glory.  Not according to what new gadget we feel like we deserve or what lifestyle we need to pursue.  It is according to His way of life that is more abundant and more extravagant than the Thanksgiving meal you are about to enjoy.  And it doesn’t make you five pounds heavier!  Happy Thanksgiving!

From the Snellings

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19


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3 Reasons why Family Camp is a good idea


Okay, it has been a few weeks since I’ve had some breathing room to talk about something that I really wanted to share with you.  It is an experience that I had at Laity Lodge Family Camp.  I don’t typically endorse organizations but this time, I just can’t help myself.  This was one of the best experiences that my family has had in quite a while.  Let me explain to you why.

This Fall has been one of the busiest falls in my family’s history.  I’ll be honest with you…that’s saying a lot!  We are typically on the go.  During the week either Jenn is working or I am.  In the midst of that chaos is homework, extra curricular activities or, because of my job, an emergency might pop up.  This year in addition to all of that, were some extra obligations that I had agreed to, that I thoroughly enjoyed doing, that added to the mayhem.  Because I love my job and my vocation, it is sometimes difficult to say no, which I am working on.  Now that October is over, I have a little bit of breathing room.

Amidst the busy fall, I was asked to speak at a Laity Lodge, or HEB Family Camp as some of you might be familiar with.  The camp was kind enough to ask my family to accompany me, which is sort of what they do.  They are a family camp after all.  When you are a speaker at a camp or retreat, there is always a little bit of tension in inviting your family to be a part of the camp.  When I mentioned the opportunity to my wife, she was all in.  Especially when she heard there was air conditioning and a room that did not include the kids.  This was a huge selling point!

This ended up being a great decision.  There are three reasons why family camp was one of the best things I’ve done with my family in a few years.

  1. It gave me room to just hang out with my family.  During a busy week, we are either working, doing homework, running off to some activity or doing chores around the house.  If we are not engaged in those activities, we are simply recovering from them which includes sleeping, watching a movie or sitting catatonic on the couch staring at a wall.  Laity Lodge provided me with an opportunity to hang out with my family and actually engage them in a meaningful conversation.  It is amazing what space will do for a conversation.  I’m not talking about the final frontier space, I’m talking about time that is free from the pressure of doing something.  I really believe that one of the reasons we don’t engage our kids in meaningful conversations is that we feel guilty for it.  We feel like we need to be carting them off somewhere, checking their homework or getting them to sleep on time so that they have enough rest.  Family Camp gave me permission to engage my kids in a conversation.  I realize I don’t need permission but sometimes we don’t stop to think about the lack of dialogue and that’s what this retreat gave me.  Perspective.

2. It provided a few experiences that my kids typically don’t have.  Because of schedule and the hectic pace of our lives, we usually feel obligated to keep up, there are some pretty basic experiences that I never considered my kids having.  Kaiden and I picked archery as an activity on Saturday.  As a kid, I had a bow and arrow and shot it in our backyard.  Who knows if that was safe for me or my neighbors?  I’ll go on record as saying, no one was ever shot with one of those arrows even though a stray arrow or two may have flown over the fence.  When Kaiden and I were shooting at targets, I casually asked him “You ever shot a bow before Bubba?” and he answered “Nope.”  I never stopped to consider whether or not he had experienced that activity before but he hadn’t.  Sure, I don’t think he would be on a couch years later talking to a therapist about how he never shot an arrow and because of that his dad probably doesn’t love him, but it is still pretty cool to experience that with your son.

3.  We unplugged for the weekend.  I think we all feel guilty for the amount of screen time that our kids experience on a day to day basis, so I will spare you my ramblings about how much regret I have over that.  We all know that our natural default, especially with a busy schedule, is either to sit our kids in front of a screen or hand them a miniature version of that while we are in survival mode.  Enough said.  This weekend provided us with activities, that we didn’t have to plan, that were amazing.  I’ve already mentioned archery but we also went on a hike, carved a pumpkin together, experienced a talent show that our kids were amazing in, and the girls went to an art class.  We spent time sitting and looking at God’s creation, walking across a rope bridge, looking at a tree house in the woods, dancing at a dance party, considering God’s will for our family and having every meal together with friends.  Those things don’t happen every week, at least not all at the same time and it all happened without a screen in front of us.

Every person in our family agreed unanimously, this camp was a blast and was well worth our time.  It helped our family connect and it gave us the space that we so desperately needed.  So I wanted to give a shout out to a few people.  Thanks Cary Hendricks for the great job you did of directing camp staff and making this a phenomenal experience!  Thanks to Will Stripling for inviting me to speak and for riding herd over the whole camp!  Our family enjoyed the weekend tremendously and we are better for it.


“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

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Pope Francis and the White House

Man has long since had a fascination with religion and spirituality.  For some it is a passing interest.  An oddity of sorts.  The same interest that you have when you go to the zoo and find an animal that you’ve never heard of or seen before.  You want to know where it lives, what its origins are and how it interacts with its environment.  If you are really motivated, you’ll read about it and study it.

For others it is genuine interest and a compelling voice deep within that pushes them to look for something bigger than themselves.  It is a longing in their soul and a missing piece of a puzzle.  There is an incessant drive inside of them that won’t quit until that thirst has been quenched.

I think we witnessed both sides of the coin that I just mentioned when the Pope came to the White House.  I won’t take any amount of time to point fingers and figure out which people were on the different sides of that coin but I will say that I saw both.  There were some that were struck with awe by the presence of someone who has dedicated his life to being like Jesus and telling others about him and were inspired by that.  Then there were others that were fascinated by the oddity of someone like Pope Francis and couldn’t stop staring.

This may come as a surprise but I’m not nor have I ever been Catholic.  I’ve had some really great friends that are or have been Catholic in the past and I have a great respect for the rich history and reverence they have for their beliefs.  Being a non denominational pastor, the Pope doesn’t hold the same significance for me as he does for my friends.  That’s okay.  I do think that his presence in the midst of powerful men and women in Washington shows us something about ourselves.

During his visit, I thought that it was really interesting to hear the chatter on talk radio and in the news.  The liberals thought the Pope was endorsing their platform of social justice and the conservatives thought they were getting pats on the back for their pro life stance.  Pope Francis is a really interesting guy.  I’m pretty sure he walked the line intentionally.  He had some things to say that would hit either party right between the eyes but he did it in a way that was not offensive or aimed at alienating people.  He spoke truth in love in a pretty tough environment.

I think we can learn from the Pope’s visit.  Please spare me your view on the idea of a Pope and your theology that backs that up.  I’ve heard both sides and I’m not writing this to discuss that issue.  Here’s what I’d like us to focus on:  we can speak to people about issues that we are passionate about without tearing them apart.  As a matter of fact, in telling them about those issues we might even be loving them.  No one is going to change their point of view if you are attacking them, they will only get defensive.  As followers of Jesus, we need to be able to talk about Jesus in a way that makes people think, not fire back at us with their own agenda.  Like a very wise man once said, “They don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” If we could adopt that attitude, we might be more like Jesus in the process.

“but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Ephesians 4:15

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Faith and the Time Space Continuum

If you could travel through time which way would you travel?  Forward?  Backward?  Sideways?  I’m not sure that sideways is a valid option but for all of the Sci Fi fanatics out there, of which I am one, maybe it is traveling through an alternate universe.  I don’t know, it’s interesting to think about though.

The past couple of months for me has moved at lightning speed!  Can you relate?  It has seemed like every day is jammed packed with meetings and prep for things that are coming up or situations that have popped up.  Every weekend has had something that has demanded my attention.  I pretty much don’t remember the month of August and September seems like a blur to me.  Are we in October yet?

During the busyness of this season, something occurred to me.  I am a prisoner of time and space.  There are moments when I wish I could slow time down or travel backwards.  In short, there are moments where I wish I could travel through time.  Not enough to really screw up history, like Marty in “Back to the Future”, just enough to fix a few things or get more done.  So if I had the ability to travel through time and my actions would make Boerne a ghost town, Trump would become president or cats would begin to stand upright and rule the universe…I’d politely decline.  I’m getting off topic now, back to being a prisoner of time.

Then something else occurred to me: we are all time travelers.  The unfortunate part for us is that time only travels one way for us, and that is forward.  Depending upon how busy we are, we travel quickly through it or at a snail’s pace.

At times, no pun intended, that can get to me.  The idea that time “keeps on slippin into the future”, to quote a song, can drag me down and depress me at times.  I feel like I have lost moments with my kids, blown opportunities to have a date night with my wife and I wish I could rewind the tape.

While we are here on earth, we are prisoners of time.  It pretty much defines everything that we do.  We say no to certain opportunities based on the time that we have.  We run out of it with our kids when they grow up.  Time wears on your body and we are no longer the athletes that we once were.  People that we loved dearly are gone because of time.  The worst part of it is, it doesn’t even heal all wounds like we have always been told.  Every moment is locked in place and time disappears as soon as it arrives.

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14

Okay, my point is not to depress you, but to point out a very important fact about God.  I take great comfort in knowing this: God is unlimited.  Because God is unlimited, time has no hold on Him.  It is amazing for me to think about the fact that He is free from its confines and has the ability to move back and forth in it as a time traveler might.

“For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by,
or as a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:4

“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” 2 Peter 3:8

He is not only unlimited by time but He is also omnipresent.  In other words, there is no place that God isn’t.  If we had the ability to travel to the future, He’d be there.  If we went back to the past, He is still there.  Time doesn’t move for Him like it moves for us.  He is unlimited by it.

As a matter of fact, one of the benefits to us trusting in Christ is that we are given eternal life with Him.  The great news is that we can partake in eternity right now.  We don’t have to wait.  Sure, that gives us assurance that one day when we pass, we can be with Him forever but it also has implications for the here and now.  You can share in God’s eternity presently.  We can pray for things that He might act on in the future.  Your prayer might have an impact on someone you never meet.  Your prayer could impact a movement in a future generation.  Your acts of righteousness that you do in His name could have a ripple effect in your children and your children’s children.  When you live your life for Christ, your eternity can effect someone else’s eternity.  Your time really never runs out if you spend it wisely while you are here.  I hope that’s an encouragement to you today.  Spend your eternity today wisely for Him.  God bless.




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Back to School Blues


This year is one for the books.  Every back to school season is pretty tough but there are certain ones you will never forget.  If your kiddo is starting their senior year in high school, you know what I’m talking about.  If your son or daughter started college this year or is going back to college, you also know what I’m talking about.  You people have my respect.  I’m a novice by comparison.  That being said, our youngest started Kindergarten this year and our oldest started Middle School.  So our house is a little quieter…aside from a pretty hyper golden retriever /mutt.

Every season you go through with your kids will cause you to ponder a little bit.  If you are like me, God help you if you are, you are looking at the big picture.  Unfortunately, that’s how my mind works.  I can’t help but think about how long it will be before Savannah is going into high school, driving, spending more time with her friends than us and applying for college.  Then I start thinking about how Kaiden is not far behind her in all of those things and we are in a place in life where we don’t have toddlers or babies in our house.  Then I remember how I used to think that people in this stage of life were so…old.  I know…wah, waaaaaaaah!!!  What a total bummer.  If I’m not careful, I’ll let my mind wander to places that drag me down and completely miss out on the opportunities that I have in front of me.  Opportunities to still be an influence in our kids lives opportunities to grow in our dependence on God.

After I have my little pity party, my mind switches back to the big picture again which is this: God has something in store for you in this season of life.  That is true if your kid is in college, in high school, middle school, elementary school or is starting a new job.  Its true if you are waaaaay past the kid stage and you rarely hear from or see your kids.  God has a plan for you in this season of life.  How will you embrace it, chase it or will you simply erase it??  Dr. Seuss would be proud.  Seriously, God isn’t done with you yet nor will He be until you go to be in His presence.  Spend some time in prayer this week asking God to reveal at least the next step in this process to you.  I heard a phrase a few years ago that has stuck with me.  I think it was Anne Graham Lotz that said it. “Walk in the light that you have.” You will never know His plan completely but you will know parts of His plan.  Be obedient to the parts that you know.  Peace out.

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11



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Letting Off Steam

I have to admit, I did it because I wanted to see a good fight.  I know that is pretty red neck of me but I was really curious.  Let’s all be honest here, we all like a good fight.  When it comes to our next election, I’m sure we’re going to see many.  The fight I’m talking about of course was the first debate for the GOP.  I’m not an extremely political person nor do I like to let politics divide us as believers, so I won’t spend a lot of time talking about the politics behind this meeting.  I do want to talk bout the concept of having a discussion without trashing the other person.

So I set my DVR for record.  Why?  I really wanted to see Donald Trump mow over some people and then I was praying for retaliation.  I know, I’m sick.  Its like going to pay per view and watching an MMA fight.  You don’t watch it in hopes of seeing the guys dance around the ring for the entire match, YOU WANT BLOOD!  That’s exactly why I tuned into the debate.  Okay, that and to see who the best candidate would be for the GOP nominee.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a registered Republican, I’m about as Independent of a voter as they come. Back to the whole politics being divisive thing.  I’ll move on.  My point in saying all of that is this, we live in a world where we cannot voice our own opinion on a matter without torching someone else’s view.  We can’t have a kind conversation about what we have convictions about without tearing apart other people’s conviction and it has to stop.  Sure, I understand in an election, we have to compare and contrast the views of our candidates but we are relatively smart people and can do some of that naturally.

I’m afraid that this mentality spills over into our every day lives though.  We take what we see in debates, interviews and reality shows and begin to confront people in a combative manner.  Here’s something that I’m beginning to understand: Confrontation is an art form, not a pressure release valve.  We do confrontation not because we need to let off some steam, but for the sake of healthy relationships; we have to deal with issues that may divide us if not discussed.  If we are followers of Jesus then we are to be about the business of “loving others relentlessly” and we have to get this straight.  Of course, our personality types do get in the way.  In a very basic understanding of conflict, there are two ways of handling disagreements.  There are conflict avoiders and conflict embracers.

Silence is Golden – If I am being totally transparent, I fit into this category.  I’m not really happy about that either.  There have been many situations where I have walked away from a conversation or disagreement and have thought, “I really should have said something”.  It usually results in a Robert Deniro in “Taxi” moment where I’m having a fake conversation with myself in a mirror saying “You talking’ to me?!” and wishing I had simply said what I was thinking in a loving way.  Too much info?  Sorry about that.  The bottom line is that I avoid conflict.

The problem is that I then harbor feelings of resentment toward my brother and sister in Christ and then that anger will resurface later as an atom bomb.  I will blow up over something stupid that doesn’t deserve that sort of response.  They also call this “bottling”.  I bottle up my anger and then it explodes as soon as someone twists the cap open.  Without knowing it I have bought into a “silence is golden” mentality where I worry so much about how someone else feels that I fail to speak up and say something that could be of value to that person.

Scorched Earth – I have known plenty of people who embrace conflict.  It is natural for them.  I am pretty sure they sleep well at night.  Are there times when they regret something that they said?  Maybe.  Whatever the case may be they speak their mind in the situation and don’t spend a lot of time regretting what the consequences may be.  Obviously, the danger in this is that you could say things that you should regret later whether you actually regret them or not.  I have a friend that calls this a “scorched earth” mentality.    You open your mouth and let the flames of your acidic personality engulf the listener, leaving a path of smoldering emotions in your wake.  Not cool.  What happens over time is that you become numb to the hurt feelings around you without realizing that you have relational B.O. (body odor for those who are confused) and people will keep you at an arms length.  Some of us may be okay with this but it is not a great community builder.  People begin to fear what you may say to them and will cease telling you things that matter to them because they don’t know how you will react.

God has a lot to say about how to do conflict well.  There is the tried and true Matthew 18 model that gives us insight on how to approach a situation where there are already hurt feelings but I am talking more about an every day practice of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).  It involves us caring more about the relationships around us than our own personal preferences.  That includes people like me who are conflict avoiders actually speaking up and saying something for the sake of the relationship even when we don’t want to.  It also includes people with a “scorched earth” mentality who have to begin to care more about how those words might affect people who hear them.  I love this verse from James that sums it up pretty well:

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.  Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:19-21)

I think to be people who love others well, we have to be good listeners.  Let’s actually hear what the other person is saying before we assume the worst, cut them off and than inject our wrong opinion on the matter.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t speak up, it means that we are slow to speak up.  We let them voice their opinion, then we say something.  This shows that we actually value their opinion.  That needs to be our posture from the beginning.  Our attitude has to change about the person before we even start the conversation.  Let’s embrace humility, not the unhealthy kind but the kind that says I value someone else’s opinion.  We also have to put the weapons that other people use aside.  Let’s not back stab, assume the worst, name call, trash talk, mock or stereotype.  In the interest of being authentic…guilty as charged.  I do those things too.  Let’s agree to put those aside together.

Lastly, let’s let God’s word penetrate our hearts and become the posture of our souls.  His words are not static print on a page.  It is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and capable of invading our lives…yes, even in the 21st century.  It is not an archaic document incapable of having relevance today.  It is supernatural because God is supernatural and can create a universe by simply speaking into nothingness and darkness.

Let’s not subscribe to the “silence is golden” model or the “scorched earth” mentality.  To love others, we have to do conflict well.  Pray for me and I’ll pray for you.  Peace.

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Evangelical Cannibalism – Why We Eat Our Own

Tullian Tchividjian, Mark Driscoll and Rob Bell.  Just saying those names on Facebook, Twitter, or in a blog can reciprocate some nasty comments.  Why do we feel the need to list the sins of the people who once led us and now are on the “down and outs”?  Please don’t tell me that it is church discipline because nine times out of ten, their church has already dealt with it and discipline is already taking place.  Don’t paint yourself as a shepherd of God’s people while secretly you are unleashing your anger and justifying your pride in a particular area.

Sure, I understand that they are high profile and the potential for misleading others is great but I’m relatively sure that most of us already see that they have fallen from grace and are in need of help.  Why isn’t our gut reaction one of prayer and sorrow rather than venom, pointing fingers and quoting Bible verses?  For some reason a large contingency of us feel the need to kick them while they are down instead of praying for God to pick them up.  I know that there are many people who aren’t as vocal as the ones that will spew hatred online, and I know for a fact that many pray for them and simply don’t voice it.  To the silent few that diligently seek God in prayer and are humble in their approach, I would say thank you.  Thank you for modeling Christ and for quietly living out His will.  You are an encouragement to me and give me hope for the Church.

Still, it intrigues me that we are so quick to eat our own.  The moment someone comes out publicly that their life is a wreck, we sharpen our dinner knives, get out the seasoning and set the table.  Because it’s dinner time!!!  Apparently we have been salivating and just waiting for the day that you would show yourself vulnerable and today is the day!! YAY!!!  Time to sink our teeth in and vent our frustrations toward you.  Gross.  Why on earth do we do this!!?  Since I’ve witnessed this over and over again, I’ve formed some opinions on why I think this happens.  There are probably a multitude of other reasons but here are the ones that I see regularly.

Embarrassment – Embarrassment that we followed them for so long and, whether we would admit this or not, they became our focal point.  Not Jesus.  Sure, it was their interpretation of who Jesus is and was that made us really excited but the bottom line is that we told all of our friends about them, recommended their books and ultimately took our eyes off of Jesus, even if it was temporary.  Simply put, that’s idolatry.  Please hear me out, I’m guilty of this too.  It would take me a while to list the people that I’ve gotten excited about and spent a lot of time talking to friends and family about, when I’ve spent very little time talking about why I’m excited about Jesus.  Sure, most of them are writing about Jesus but it is surprising how little time I’d spend talking about Him and more about this speaker or author.

Justification – I believe that we feel justified when we go after someone; that somehow I am better than them because of this.  Maybe you never liked them to begin with and here is your chance to voice why you were never a fan.  What I would say to that is, poor timing.  If you aren’t secure enough in Christ to find your identity in Him instead of being right all the time, you need to resolve that with God.  God has forgiven all of us of much and because of that our attitude should change.  Our changed attitude should result in an authenticity about our own sin and failures that is refreshing to others.  If our attitude about our own sin and failures isn’t changed, it will result in us picking a fight online or going after someone with a ferocity that is disgusting to an onlooking world.  If we can’t love one another, how can we possibly love others that are different from us?

Jealousy – If we are honest with ourselves, there is a little bit of jealousy involved. We guise it in a cloak of “Pastor’s shouldn’t be so flashy” or “Leaders in Christianity shouldn’t be famous” but the bottom line is we are jealous.  We don’t see what the big deal is because what they are saying isn’t all that revolutionary.  They are just packaging the message differently. “I mean, I say the same things in my messages every Sunday, why don’t people respond to it like they respond to his/her messages?” Pastor’s, we would never say that out loud but be real with yourself for a moment, you think that.

If you go through all three of those reasons, they are listed as sin in the Bible.  Go through Galatians 5 and look at the deeds of the flesh.  Jealousy and idolatry is in there.  If you look at the chief sin of the Devil it was pride.  I just covered all three of those reasons I’ve listed to you.  Let’s be the church.  That means that when one of us falls, we pick the fallen up.  We don’t step on top of them to keep pursuing our own goals.  We hurt for them when they hurt and pray that God will restore them.  Let’s be like Jesus and enter into the pain and hurt and love others relentlessly.

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