Sunday, November 30, 2014

A day at the park

Yesterday, with fall ending and winter nearing in Texas, we went to the Japanese Gardens near us.  Here are a few of the photos from our excursion.  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Peace, peace...oh for peace

 The world we live in is filled with anger, rage, violence and pain.  

We look for peace, long for peace, but fail to find it.  

We call for tolerance, but it eludes us. 

How can we find that one thing we all want, desire and need....peace?

As I've watched the events in my own country in the last weeks I grieve over lost lives, broken hearts and bitterness of soul that has made peace, forgiveness and love more elusive than ever.

But, there is a passage of scripture that offers the solution to all of this.  It's a difficult passage, in fact it's impossible.  It means we have to set our own desires, our own wishes aside and put others ahead of ourselves.  It's impossible without the help of God.  

It's impossible unless we humble ourselves and put others first.  

Here's how Jesus described this life that can change everything,

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Can you imagine how our world would change if we treated each other in this way?  But it goes against all that is in us.  We each put ourselves first, we each want "our rights"...we all want what's fair, but this  is an invitation to a way of life that sets all that aside and says that you are more important than I am.  

Without God's help that's impossible,  but imagine a world where this is the way everyone lives.....

.....I think you might call it heaven.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Responding to the new attacks on Scripture

If you have an hour this video will be important to your faith and understanding of God's word.  The simple truth of the Bible is vital to a strong Christian faith. I'm grateful for men like Dr. David Farnell.  May his tribe increase!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


.....Life!  I'm thankful I get to be part of God's wonderful creation!  It is so great to have family!  I'm thankful for a wonderful family.!  I am so grateful to know and experience love.  The love of a wonderful wife.  The love of God for me even when I'm less than I should be.  The love I can give to others.  It's the very heart and passion of

.....purpose.  That  sounds strange, doesn't it?  But I'm thankful I am here for a reason, I have a purpose.  I'm not just an animal without a purpose....I'm made by God to be part of his great plan for time and eternity!

......friends.  Oh how wonderful that is!  I celebrate the wonderful and amazing friends I know, love and care for.  How sweet it is to have people who I can call friends.

.....hunger.  I'm thankful for hunger of body and soul.  The pangs of the stomach, the longing to know are hungers that make life exciting.  I'm thankful that something as simple as hunger is a wonderful blessing of God.

.....and on the list goes.  There is so much.  As I begin to think about all I have been given I have to humbly say to God, "Thank you.  You are most kind to bless me so richly.  I deserve none of it! Thank you."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Jesus is done....

Even our scars look good when Jesus is finished with us.


This morning a friend and I were visiting about reconciliation and God's work in our lives.  It made me ask...who have I wounded and not reconciled with?  And so I offer this note for your response.  If it's something that applies to you in your relationship with me would you offer me the opportunity to pursue reconciliation in our relationship?

I’m thinking through the people I’ve known and cared about for many years and fear that I have left something undone with you.  Are you and I “ok”?  My goal is reconciliation,  the healing of any wounds I may have caused.  Is there something between us that I can address, deal with or repair?  Have I offended you in some way and left you wounded?  Please do let me know.  And thank you for the grace you give me to be broken and still on the journey to become like Christ.

Monday, November 24, 2014

So many worries, so little time!

There is so much to worry about how will I ever get it all done?

As I watch the news, read the paper and interact with those around me my list of things to worry about grows beyond the time I have to worry about them all! 

That worries me.

We have hundreds of cute little mottos and slogans to deal with worry, but they really don't resolve the subtle fear that drives worry in each of us.  First it's bad news, then fears arise and worry follows.  The seed of a bad word, a troubling event, impending war give fear all it needs to conceive almost anything...and it does! And then we really have something to worry about!

But what I have found, just as you have, is that the worries birthed from our fears rarely ever change our lives for the better.  

To be honest I am hesitant to address this topic again, I worry I have visited it too often (smiling as I write that), but I see a world rapidly offering our fears much more to work with.  And yet our fears really need very little to grow into worries of all kinds.  

The fear of what might be creates worries that even the best fiction writer can't duplicate.  This morning, after reading the paper and visiting news sites, I feel those fears working....cultivating a crop of worry that will produce fruit and keep me busy all day, but I know better.  I know I can't let that crop grow.  Worry never produces fruit that gives life, but only something that feeds death and so I run back to God for his word on the fears that grow into worries and I read what Jesus told his disciples and us.

Jesus said it, but it's woven all through scripture...every time an angel shows up, every time God has to calm a prophet, every time we think our world is out of our control....and it always is out of our control by the way...we fear, worry and panic....and to those emotions Jesus says this,

" not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  
The question I have to answer is a very simple one- Is there a God in charge or not?  If the answer is "yes" then fears can be dealt with, worries can be calmed.  But if the answer is "no", there is no God in charge, then worry away!  All is lost, we are doomed!
 I'm so thankful that I know and believe in a God who is king of everything, fully in charge...even when it seems all is falling apart around me.  I often run to a verse that has comforted me many times. It's a brief verse in Psalms where David writes these words,

The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sits as King forever! Ps. 29:10

Saturday, November 22, 2014


As a pastor I face life changes every day.  Illness, death, financial problems, family issues....the list goes on, doesn't it?  One thing you know about life is that it is uncertain.  In a moment everything can change and our lives are never the same again.

Yesterday I got a note from a friend.  My wife and I love her dearly.  She told me her worst fears have proven true and she will see the doctor next week to find out more.  In a moment her life is changed.  We are praying for her.

But one thing is true for all of is uncertain.  We never know what will come tomorrow, will it be success or disaster?  A sunny day or a tornado?  Health or imminent death?  Every moment we face one thing that is certain- life is uncertain, unsure and shaky at best. 

But our lives, our moments are in the hands of a loving father who offers us a life that is certain, that will not be shaken.  Although we all know this life will not last, our wealth will not last, our health will not last, there is one thing that will.  The author of Hebrews says it this way,

"Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe."

In the midst of uncertainty I look forward to an unshakable kingdom, a world where God rules, where fear, failure and death will never again be remembered.  

In the midst of uncertain days, uncertain moments I look forward to that unshakable kingdom.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Caught "red handed"

This perfectly describes our common dilemma when God 

shows up. We are all caught "red handed." And, you have to 

laugh at these sweet boys as they declare their innocence.

 It looks so much like us as we try to tell God we 

didn't do anything, it wasn't our fault.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stumbling to glory

I fear, at times, I'm much too honest about my own walk and struggle.  In just a few weeks I will come to a day that will mark 50 years of faith for me, but I still feel like a small child stumbling over nothing, falling down and trying again.  The path to become like Christ is much longer for me than I had hoped.  I thought I would be there by now, but it seems I've only just begun.

Often, I will read catchy little phrases in Christian writing that annoy me to distraction.  Here's one-  "Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones."  As if!  I'm still on the ground with a bloody nose and scrapped knees and you're trying to tell me how to take those stumbling places and grow? Come on!  Catchy little slogans do nothing to help me grow, to help me walk.  I need Christ and I need him constantly!

And, to be honest, it doesn't take a stone to make me stumble.  I'm pretty good at stumbling over sand, over a crack in the sidewalk.  It's never a big thing or I would avoid it.  It's always the little things that cause my fall, my failing.....and then I grieve, beat myself up and tell God I'm sorry, I won't do it again (but I will)....and that I should be past all of this by now, but I'm not.

And, then, like a child, embarrassed by my failings, but suffering in my pains, I run back to God and am welcomed by his grace, his love and forgiveness.  I'm always embarrassed to face him, to come to him and tell him "I did it again!  I'm so sorry!!"  And he forgives, he bandages my wounds and he offers to walk with me even as I stumble along.

There is a passage of invitation in Matthew that has helped every believer I know as they have stumbled to glory and it's this one, paraphrased for my purposes, but you will recognize it,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens...stumbling and falling as you try to follow me, and I will give you rest, I will bandage your wounds, wipe your tears. Let me live my life through you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  You need to know that as you let me live through you, you will see this life is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

I'm honestly thankful that he already knows my weakness, my frustrations and he's waiting for me to come to him, once again, to begin anew with him at my side.
Truthfully, I must tell you, that as hard as I try I find that this walk of faith is impossible.....without him.  
Each time we walk away from him and tell him, "Ok, I can do this now, I've got it!"  It's at that moment that we begin to fall again.  The Christian life is impossible without Christ,  he is (if you don't mind the visual picture) my guide for blind eyes, my crutch for broken legs, my life when all I bring to any situation is death.  Without him I can't do it, and even with him I find I still stumble at times....but that's ok, he's knows me and he loves me anyway.

So Your Life Didn’t Turn Out the Way You’d Hoped

So, your life didn't turn out the way you hoped, did it?  Your great plans and dreams failed?  Now you wonder what life is all about, don't you?  What do I do now?  You might be surprised to know we all go through this.  We all find our lives different than we hoped.  Now what?  

I read this article in "Relevant" yesterday and loved the words, the thoughts, the insights.  It's an article you need to read.  Here's the link,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chance encounter or life changing event?

Forty one years ago today was a Sunday.  I remember it clearly.  Life changing events do that.  Somehow we remember every detail from events that changed everything decades ago, but forget what we had for breakfast this morning.

Forty one years ago for me found me as the minister of evangelism as a growing church in Arkansas.  A college friend of mine had asked me to come and help him with the church and I was glad to take a break before going to seminary.  So here I was, at the end of a worship service on a Sunday morning forty one years ago.

David had just finished his sermon and given an invitation for those who wanted to trust Christ.  My "job" (it was more fun than anything else) was to meet and pray with those who wanted to become believers and followers of Christ.

On that Sunday morning forty one years ago today a beautiful young lady came down the aisle to make a decision for Christ.  I remember her pretty face, her long dark hair.  But I was there to help her with her decision.  We talked, prayed together and then, as we closed the service, we all held hands and sang a closing chorus together.  It was a weekly tradition.  I remember that petite little hand.  It seemed so small.

But we never know whether a meeting is just an encounter that passes and we move on, forgetting the person and the conversation or if it's a life changing event we will never forget.

I have held that hand now for forty one years and it feels just as wonderful as it did that first day.  She tells friends today that she met Jesus and me on the same day, but she never gets us confused. Everyone laughs. (It is easy to tell us apart because I'm much taller than Jesus.) 

There is no way to know how God orchestrates the events of our lives and takes chance encounters that become life altering events.  This was a meeting like that for me.  A day that looms big for two lives because God was in it and we didn't know it.

Less than three months later I waited for that sweet lady at the front of the church once more, but this time to be her husband.  Forty one years later I will tell you I am the luckiest man in the world and am thankful for God's love for two young people whom he prepared to share life together.

Chance encounter or life changing event?  

We never know, do we?  

What will happen from each meeting, each encounter with someone new.  Will we quickly forget them or will our lives be changed by the encounter?  Don't ever treat any meeting never know what God is up to.

For me, looking back on these events, I am most thankful for God's love for me that would bring such a wonderful friend and partner into my life on this day.....forty one years ago.  I love you, Joye.