Friday, October 31, 2008

Fond memories

Remember when.....? You know, back when we........? Memories are a funny thing. We keep the good ones, but quietly dispose of the bad ones. What most amazes me about memories is how we will rewrite our history to fit us. So, this morning I was just remembering the "good old days" when TV was fun. I remember growing up with three guys who taught me what funny was. We watched them every day after school. They were live action cartoons for our time, and we all tried to imitate them. Even today they are the heroes of folklore for us old enough to have watched them in black and white. This morning I was just remembering 3 of my old friends.....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What does activist Christianity look like?

In the midst of this political season the question has come to me, "what does an active, engaged Christian really look like?" What is it that would define a real Christian to the guy on the street? Sad to say that right now the defining sign to a lost world is that we are hateful, judgemental, and narrow-minded. It's sad that we have wandered so far afield from what God has called us to do, from the exhortations of Jesus himself. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
The call to action is love for one another. The commentary of the world should be, "Oh, they must be Christians." Sadly that's not where we are today in our culture. Love for one another is not the normative identity of the Christian, but it should be. What does an activist Christian look like? Here's a brief picture:
Romans 12:20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
Do you notice that this call to arms doesn't mention getting involved in politics, protesting abortion clinics, forming political action committees, or any of a hundred other actions that we can do ourselves. Our call to arms demands that we do something we are not able to do on our our enemies. This is a divine task, a supernatural call to live completely different from the world around us. Now, sadly, I must make a disclaimer because some will completely miss my point. I am NOT saying we should not be involved in our world, in politics, etc. I am saying that these things must be secondary to our call to love. If we are loving the world as Christ did I guarantee that many of the things we think make a difference wouldn't even be necessary.
What does activist Christianity look like? It looks like Christ...loving a lost world with food, water, a smile and a hug. It's the love of God that will change the world, not our political efforts, our protests, our letters to the white house....etc. Let me simply challenge you to be a true activist Christian, as the bible describes it, and let's see what happens around us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Captain Picture" reporting for duty

My sweet wife spent the day today working on a message she is teaching with another of our amazing ladies from our church. They are going to team teach the passage in Ephesians 6 about the armor of God. The reason for the comments today is something my wife said....she said they need a photo for the big screens to illustrate their big idea. Our friend told Joye, "Ask Mike to get the picture, he's Captain picture!" So, as requested, I have found the perfect photo for their great message.....although I had no idea I had a title....."Captain picture" just doesn't sound very exciting. No enemy will ever fear "Captain picture".....although he might laugh himself to death. It's a label I have apparently gotten from doing this blog, and will wear the suit and cape with pride, so in honor of my new title here is a photo I really like and hope you enjoy as well...oh, there is no story for this one...I will leave the story for you to tell. And, so, off I go....have a great day, this is Captain picture over and out!

Sins and scars

This morning I was reading in Genesis about Abraham and his walk with God. It's messy watching the life of someone who is growing in their faith. Watching Abraham makes me wince at times....his life is quite messy. He struggles to obey, stumbles, lies about his wife and gets reprimanded, he falls down...but he gets up again to once more walk with God and serve him. One thing that I notice about Abraham is that he is constantly building altars to God and worshipping him wherever he goes. I think it's that desire to worship and follow God that proves to be his key to victory in the end, even through all the mess and mistakes.

The Christian life is messy. I don't always get it right. I make a lot of mistakes, say the wrong thing, hurt someone I love, get angry, fear, and fail. It's really messy watching me live the Christian life, but I'm trying....I want to follow him and so amid the mess you will find me worshipping God. It's those worship times that keeps me on the right path even after I've made a mess of things.

The truth is that when you come to Christ it's only the will take your entire life to just begin to look like Christ. And you need to know it's messy. You won't always get it right, you aren't going to understand what God wants each step of the way. You will make mistakes. You will fall down, you will fear and fret and fail. It's ok.....really. In the midst of the mess it's important to often take time for worship. Bow your heart and life to the God who is working in you. Amidst the mess of our lives we have an amazing father who is molding us into the image of his son. Don't get frustrated....he's working....he will get you there....just look at Abraham and you will be encouraged about your own walk with God. Amidst the mess God is working. Amidst the mess of the sins and scars God is working to make us like Christ. Soon we will see the results of all he has done and be amazed that he could do such amazing things with messy lives.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More amazing discoveries

The Cave of Crystals discovered 1,000ft below a Mexican desert
By Victoria Moore
Created 10:15 PM on 27th October 2008 ........................(click on photo to enlarge)

"Until you notice the orange-suited men clambering around, it's hard to grasp the extraordinary scale of this underground crystal forest. Nearly 1,000ft below the Chihuahua Desert in Mexico, this cave was discovered by two brothers drilling in the Naica lead and silver mine. It is an eerie sight. Up to 170 giant, luminous obelisks - the biggest is 37.4ft long and the equivalent height of six men - jut across the grotto like tangled pillars of light; and the damp rock of their walls is covered with yet more flawless clusters of blade-sharp crystal."
I'm always amazed by the new discoveries we are still making, both here on earth and in space, that show how creative God really is. Imagine a cave 1,000 ft. below the Mexican desert with this kind of beauty in it? I wonder how many other discoveries still await us.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Never give up!

Never give up! Never quit! Life is too short to can rest when you get to eternity...until then use every moment to serve God and save up wages for eternity.
If you can't do things the way you used to do them then find a new way. As long as you have breath use your life for God.
As one friend told me recently, "I'm tired, but I can rest when I'm dead...until then there's a lot to do!"
In a world that needs Jesus those who know him already are the ones who must share it with the world. Never give up! Never quit! If you can't get there on 2 wheels there will always be a's too short to retire. Eternity is too long to have regrets.

Monday's cartoon

I'm so glad I live under grace and not law. If I had been under the law I wouldn't have made it to the age of 16! Most Christians don't realize how blessed we are to be children of God's grace and not bound by the Old Testament law. Thanks, Lord, for your amazing grace!
And this one I like just because it made me smile.....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Joye

Today is my sweet wife's birthday. She's very young....and so another birthday is no problem for her. It seems I'm aging, but she isn't. Happy Birthday, Joye.

Merry-go-round choices in a Roller coaster world

This morning, as I'm unlocking the church at 5:45 AM, I was thinking about the basics of the Christian life and the conflicts generated when we contrast the world around us with the way we live our lives as Christians. It suddenly came to me....we need a way of making choices that works best on one ride in a world that functions completely different. On the Merry-go-round we do the same thing over and over again....we go in circles....up and down. It's the same thing over and over again. It's a safe ride, a predictable ride. It's consistent. We always know what to
But the real world isn't like that at all. The real world works like a roller coaster. The ride is fast, changing and has unexpected turns that cause us to scream. That's the world we live in....have you found yourself screaming lately? Real life makes us feel like we are riding a roller coaster, it has made many quite sick with all the changes in the stock market, the price of oil, the economic crisis, the political battle....and you could add a number of twists and turns of your own to the list. That's the way of the world. That's what we face each day....get on the roller coaster and hold on!
The Christian life must be lived like a ride on the merry-go-round....there is a routine that must be part of our lives for us to do well and grow. Each day we need time to pray, time in the word, trust in the Lord and love for one another. It's common stuff that we all know. It seems routine, sometimes boring, but the consistent nature of a Christian life lived well gives us the tools we need to ride the roller coaster. The choices we make, in anticipation of the day ahead, prepares us for the exciting roller coaster ride just outside our door. If you aren't making the basic decisions to have an active relationship with God and routinely pursuing him then you won't be ready for the roller won't be ready for the day that awaits you. It is a roller coaster world, but merry-go-round training can get you ready for the exciting ride ahead.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The world has changed!

Your stories....

Here is another of "your stories." As I receive your stories I will post a new one each Saturday morning. I am very excited about this opportunity for the body of Christ to write about what God has done in our lives, so here is another story. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. You can share your story by sending it to -Mike

“For the majority of my life I was a shy, angry and insecure person. One reason for these feelings was a poor education and that made me feel inadequate. In my late teens I started down the wrong road; I started partying, drinking and experimenting with drugs.
I joined the military; it was a way to escape my problems. (I thought!) I was stationed in Germany and the use of drugs and alcohol increased. I began to have people around me all the time, and I felt comfortable with the people I had surrounded myself with. I didn’t have to worry about anyone being smarter than me; we were all either drunk or high. I started telling exaggerated stories; I liked the feeling that people were listening to me. But now I had added another problem to my list of problems, but as long as I could stay high, drunk or both, I could forget about it.
I met a wonderful woman and we were married and after a couple of years we started a family. I thought I had finally found the answers to my problems. But this was just the start of years of new problems. After I got out of the military and we came back to the USA my partying didn’t stop. It wasn’t long and problems started between my wife and me. This caused more anger and guilt within me. This went on for years and one night, sitting in a bar with some of my friends, I began thinking “what I’m I doing here? And calling this fun?” I wasn’t having fun. I was spending money we didn’t have and the guilt was eating me up, being here and not with my family. I realized this wasn’t the way. It wasn’t long after that I dropped the drugs, the hanging out at nights partying and the people I was hanging with. After a while I started thinking “I need to do something more constructive with my time,” so I began a hobby that my son could participate in. I even started night school, to learn to read. I meet new people, but it wasn’t long and I realized I still wasn’t happy. My wife was a little happier, for the first time in years she knew where I was at night. But I still had this emptiness in me.
At my job I was doing work I enjoyed, but I wasn’t getting along with my supervisor. So out of anger I transferred to another department. In the department I transferred to I was placed right in the middle of seven Christians and through the day they would be talking about the Bible. I thought, “What did I get myself into.” Growing up I had only been to church a few times with my grandmother. My idea of God was that He had a lot of rules. He didn’t want you to have fun and all He wanted to do was send people to Hell. That’s all I ever heard from Christians, as for the Bible, I didn’t trust people so how could I trust the people who wrote it?
But there I was in the middle of these Christians listening to them talk about the Bible everyday! As I listened, they would say things like Jesus loves us so much He died for us and how Jesus will forgive your sins and He can give you a new life. The idea of being forgiven and a new life sure sounded good to me. Before I knew it, I got a Bible to see if some of the things they were saying were true. A few of these people I just didn’t understand. They had some real problems going on in their lives, but they had such a joy about them. I didn’t understand it, but I knew if God and this Jesus in the Bible were true I wanted to learn about them. I started reading the Bible and I was listening to a radio program called people to people and before long I was asking them questions. They seemed to really enjoy talking to me, just as I was. I didn’t have to be anything special, just me.
In 1992 I started a great but long journey; I had come to the realization of why I had moved from the work I enjoyed, to this new department. It was God. He had put me here with all these Christians, so I could come to know Him. It wasn’t long, right there at work, I ask Jesus to come into my life, and that I knew He was the Son of God. That He died on the cross to take away our sins, and that I knew I was a sinner and for Him to forgive me, and I needed Him. I started going to Church and Bible studies. After a while I started noticing little changes in me, I wasn’t getting as angry as I once did, there were things I once did that I just didn’t care about doing any longer. God was showing me His peace through some tough times, like when my Dad was passing away. After a while things started changing. I was trying to live the Christian life but the more I tried the worse it seemed to get. I didn’t understand what was going on with me. I mean I would still sin at times and things would pop up in my mind I didn’t want there, I even started doubting if I was saved. I couldn’t get past the words in the Bible “go and sin no more.” How could God love someone like this? I mean Christians don’t have problems like this. It wasn’t long and a whole new set of problems started.
At work they needed someone in another department, so I took the job. I started working long hours and it wasn’t long before I wasn’t attending church as much and eventually stopped going altogether. With making more money I began getting things like a new truck, stereo equipment, etc. My whole life became wrapped up in things. I became boastful, I tried impressing others with what I had and I was jealous of others that had more than I had. I had never been like this in my life. This went on for a few years.
Then at my job, they started downsizing and I watched people I had worked with for years lose their jobs. I became very critical of the company. I had to train a man from another department, who had more company seniority for my job. After his training was complete, I had to go on nights, and he took my job on days. I became very angry and hateful and I was complaining all the time. There I was angry, upset at the world and all alone on nights. It was like a curse to me, being on nights. With the downsizing, my job had changed dramatically; it had become a monitoring job. So I had a lot of time with nothing to do. So to past the time I started reading books, it didn’t matter what, just anything to pass the time. This went on for weeks and my anger was starting to affect all parts of my life. After a while, I started becoming very emotional, I could be watching TV, driving or at work and I would just break out in tears. I didn’t know what was going on.
One night at work I went to pick up a book and I looked over on the bookshelves and there was an old Bible, one of my old work mates had left behind. Memories of what it was like when I had first opened my heart to God and had let His Word guide my life ran through my head. I picked up the old Bible and started reading. I read familiar verses like John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” then for some reason I looked up the Ten Commandments. I start reading them and I just broke down in tears as I finally realized I had broken every commandment. I hadn’t murdered anyone but I sure had hatred in my heart. And I realized what a wretched man I am without God in my life. I asked God to forgive me and to take control of my life. I started reading the Bible every night, and God started opening my heart to verses in the Bible like never before. At times I would think, “How did I miss this before?” Like the doubts I had been having, Jesus told the disciples when they asked, in Matthew 19:25-26 “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” And John 3:15 says “that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
I also started seeing that I wasn’t the only person that struggles with temptations even after becoming a Christian. Paul said in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And you just can’t imagine how relieved I was to hear that. Paul gives the answer to our struggles in Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!” That was the answer, it has nothing to do with me but it has everything to do with Him. I can’t live the Christian life without Him. That had been my problem. I had started trying to do it myself. We have to turn our life over to Christ Jesus, and trust in Him and what He has done. When we come to trust in Jesus, The word of God tells me we were crucified with Christ and dead to the Mosaic Law. Our life is no longer self-effort as to keeping the Law; it is a life powered by the Spirit of Christ in us. Now we are to live by faith, Faith in the Son of God. The death of Christ upon the cross was not only paying the penalty for our sins, He was not only the sacrifice for sin; He was the substitute for all who believe. Like Paul said in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I am learning to just live each day for Christ Jesus; we live in a troubling world. But we just have to learn to rest in His word, Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” We will never have peace until we come to trust in Him. He alone can provide what we need to live and work with peace in our hearts, no job, no position, and no material things will ever be enough to give us the kind of peace we long for. He said in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” God just keeps opening my eyes to verses in the Bible I didn’t understand before and I am now living in a peace, one like I have never known before. The hate and anger that was in my life is disappearing and material things, “I thank God for what I have but the things I have just don’t seem as important anymore.”
It turns out that working night was not a curse but a blessing from God. It has given me a lot of time to be alone with Him and study His Word. I know there will be temptation in my life but I also know that as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus he will be there to pick me up when I fail. I look back on my life as lessons from God to make me stronger in my faith. My prayer is that my heart and mind will be much more open to Him, in the future.
I’ve learned I cannot be confident in man, but I can be in Him! It has been a long road but I know it was God, through all of this, showing me what I am capable of on my own. He let me go from one extreme to another, and this I know for sure, God has never turned His back on me but it was I that turned my back on Him by trying to do things on my own.
There is a quote I hear a lot at the church I attend, that says it all. “Christ gave His life for us, to give His life to us, to live His life through us.” I would just like to say, if you haven’t come to know the Lord Jesus and if you have doubts about the Bible as I did just open your heart and mind to His Word and He will reveal the answers to you. As it says in Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” And if we trust and believe God, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us, to pay for our sins and He raised Him from the died to give us life.
And if from our heart we confess our sins to Him, 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Then you can count on what it says in Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.””

Thanks be to God

This is my story, Joe

Friday, October 24, 2008

Selling something no one wants

Tokyo retail reflection
by Lee Tokyo Times on October 22, 2008

"Many shops in the Japanese capital are conveniently situated in the city’s dizzying array of department stores; places where climate control and carefully coiffured cuties are commonplace — compulsory even. Yet down certain side streets and a bit of the beaten track, outlets with more character, if not exactly customers, can be found. Like this shop specialising in brooms for example. A store that, perhaps due to a niche that’s not exactly necessary nowadays, unfortunately hasn’t had the pleasure of a patron since 1972 — Saturday, September 2nd, to be precise. And even then the customer in question was after a hand brush that unfortunately they didn’t have."
I have a hundred questions about this little broom do they stay open? how do they justify a business with no customers? did they completely forget what they were trying to do when they opened the doors? What is a day like in a store with no customers? What a strange concept...a store with no customers. Let me simply say this.....I wonder if, at times, the church has become like this little broom store? I will let you add the closing applications.....

Billy Graham's prayer for our nation

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!' -Billy Graham

Your turn....

Ok, it's your turn. Here's the photo. Your job is to give it a title. If you want to write something about the photo (write your own story) as well that would be great. Have fun!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quote of the day

"Who is in the white house is not as important as who is on the white throne." -Stewart Briscoe

The odyssey of faith

The odyssey of faith is an interesting journey. It's a walk, an odyssey, that doesn't always include a map. Yes, we do have the Bible to guide us, but there are turns in the road...problems that make the walk difficult....that aren't addressed in the Bible. It never says, "Mike, tomorrow you will have a difficult day and have to deal with discouragement. After that you will run into a couple considering divorce." It doesn't work that way. In fact, much of this odyssey of faith comes as a surprise to me. I study God's word so I know what to do when things happen, but I never know what those things will be until they suddenly show up in my life. Every day is a new opportunity to trust God with today's journey of faith. I think that's why God asks us to pray, "give us THIS DAY our DAILY bread." It's a today life that must be lived in the present tense. And, you travel your own walk of faith with the Lord enjoy today. THIS IS THE DAY God is working on in your life. THIS IS THE moment he wants you to trust him. Trust him for now, and trust him to care for the tomorrows so you will be ready for them when they arrive. I hope you enjoy your walk today, it's a great opportunity to trust the Lord and grow in your faith in him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Body life illustrated

Some passages of scripture are best understood with pictures. That's why I use photos so helps me to connect the word with our lives. Here is a photo that illustrates perfectly this passage of scripture-
1Pe 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
1Pe 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
1Pe 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1Pe 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1Pe 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
1Pe 4:13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

Thoughts on Job

I just finished reading the book of Job. It's a difficult book to read because much of it is a discussion about the nature, character and fairness of God. It's difficult because it leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions. As chapter 38 opens we find God finally responding to Job with this basic question as his response to Job's many questions- "So, what do you think of what I have created? It's really amazing, isn't it?" He never really answered Job's questions, but instead simply said, "I'm God, will you trust me even if you don't understand, even if I don't tell you why?"

That's our question as well. When the reality of life does not seem to line up as we think it should we raise our voices to God in protest and prayer. Sometimes he answers, but sometimes he doesn't. Will we trust him even then? That question is the one that troubles us about this book- God's request for our trust in the lack of knowledge. That's hard for us, but the truth is that if he told us "why" we wouldn't understand either. God's ways are so much higher and better than ours that if he told us what he was doing we wouldn't understand....our brains couldn't grasp it, so instead he asks, "will you trust me even if I don't tell you?" And that was his question to Job, and it's his question to us...will we trust him even when we don't understand? To be honest I still have to stop and deal with this in my own life. Today is a "why" day for me....I'll share the details another time....but when I find myself in the middle of a day like this he gently brings me back to him with this simple question, "will you trust me anyway?"

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thinking about eternity

When times get difficult I have noticed that Christians begin to talk about heaven and our hope ahead more than usual. It seems that when all is going well we don't think about the future too much, but when times get hard then our focus changes. I've noticed this in the songs we sing. In the impoverished countries I have visited the worship songs are about heaven and our future hope, but in the prosperous countries heaven is hardly mentioned and hell is never discussed! (Although the photo confirms my suspicions that hell is somewhere in Ohio......ignore the purgatory sign, it doesn't exist). I just read a news story this morning about a Christian aid worker in Afghanistan who was killed because she was "sharing her faith". Muslim extremist took credit for the murder, but the aid organization who sponsored her said that all she wanted to do was help the disabled in this country. As the world turns away from the God who is we find our focus more and more on the unseen world ahead. We find ourselves thinking about eternity. Personally, I think this is a great change in focus for the church. We, here in this country, have become far too comfortable with "here". Our focus and hope should be on the unseen world ahead of us, but that focus also makes us quite aware of the fate of those who do not know Christ yet. Our own change in focus will make us more aware of their need for the savior and the future that awaits them if they don't trust Christ. A focus away from the comfort of this world to the hope of the next is a welcome change to me. It will dispel this false idea that God's interested in my happiness here. The bible has never talked about that....what God's interested in is my relationship with him. Sometimes my unhappiness with "here" is the very thing I need to drive me to him, and I do believe he uses our discontent to draw us to him. As I see more missionaries killed for sharing Christ I find myself less attached to "here" and more and more ready to board the bus to my hope ahead. A focus on eternity will clear up a lot of our priorities here.

Gifts from afar

Our dear friends, Brandon and Jenny, were home from the mission field in Guatemala for a few days so Brandon could perform weddings for his brother and another good friend, Clayton. I had mentioned to him that when he came home next time I would love some raw coffee beans from Guatemala, and he didn't forget. Thank you for the beans. I look forward to roasting them, but more than the coffee it was great to see Brandon and Jenny. Brandon is about to finish language school and jump into the work of ministry to the pastors in his area. Thank you for the brief visit, and thank you for the wonderful gift of coffee!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Your stories....

This is the first of "your stories." As I receive your stories I will post a new one each Saturday morning. I am very excited about this opportunity for the body of Christ to write about what God has done in our lives, so here is the first story. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your story with us. -Mike

"I have never put my story into writing before....

I attended a Catholic school and had church-going parents. I was often told that if I was good, I was going to heaven. I was usually assured that, of course, I was going to heaven. That sounded pretty good to me. (I had not known what the term "born again" meant, nor had I ever thought I was not going to heaven.)

Not surprisingly, I found myself pretty far from God after I left the nest. But that was okay with me. I seemed to be doing fine. Plus, I was going to heaven. But, I found that my path wasn't as perfect as I intended for it to be. Was I really going to heaven? I made more mistakes. Oooh, maybe I'm not going to heaven.... Why couldn't I be the person I really want to be? Over a period of several weeks about a year and half ago, I became very concerned about my destiny and more certain that I was on a slippery and downward path.

At the same time, I had this severe, nagging feeling that I was missing one critical element in my life. It was something that would help my life to "click" -- to fit together nicely the way it should. But what WAS that missing thing? I also had a recurring thought over these several weeks that I needed a friend to tell me what that missing piece was. But I couldn't figure out WHO to call.... Who knew me well enough to know? Who knew the answer? My family knew me well... but they didn't have the answer. I knew some people who might have the answer, but they didn't know me very well.

After having these thoughts and feelings for several weeks, I flipped on the radio that our contractor left in our kitchen, looking for a "regular" station. However, I always seemed to land on the same crazy Christian station by accident. "Wow! Those Christians sure have a lot of money!", I thought. "They are taking over the radio!" I kept landing on the station. One day, it was "Back to the Bible"....

"Today, we're starting a new chapter in our Bible study. Everyone open your Bibles to the Gospel of John, Chapter 1." "Wow!" I thought, "I always wanted to do a Bible study!" As he explained that "the Word" was actually Jesus, I found our Bible, dusted it off, and quickly opened to the Chapter.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.....

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..."

"No way!", I thought. I was instantly brought to my knees in my living room at 2:10 in the afternoon by the incredible and sudden realization that Jesus was actually God. I had heard it thousands of times, but this time I knew it was amazing and absolutely true. I had instant tears and said that I was so sorry for Him for not knowing my whole life. The least that I could do for Him at that moment was to fully commit the rest of my life to him. I read the rest of John that night. I needed to know what to do.

The next morning, at about 10 am, I realized that I felt different. I had this very real and distinct sensation that I was different. Primarily, I felt forgiven. It was a physical feeling of having large sins and small regrets completely erased. I also had a very permanent sensation of feeling different inside... that I was now stronger and capable of becoming the person God wanted me to be. I can't describe how strongly that I knew that this feeling was real and permanent. I had not been expecting this.

I read the Gospel of Mark that night, then the New Testament, Revelations, Genesis, etc.. It was not until about three to four weeks later that I was told that my experience meant that I was saved. Since about that second day, I felt a slight sensation of the presence of God. I will tell you with great joy that it has blessed me each day since. (Well, there were a few days when it was gone, but that is a separate story.)

I now have many stories of how He has worked powerfully in my life. Most of them probably have the most meaning only to myself. I continue to devour the Bible readings daily and any Christian books that I can find the time to read.

I am now surrounded by a nourishing and wonderful church community here in Virginia. Meanwhile, I am also surrounded by many family members and friends who truly do not understand my change. I have tried to explain, but so far it has not made a dramatic impact on them. I don't know what He has in store for me. That has been the cry of my heart... that I will be able to fulfill what He has in mind for me, whatever it is. I am just so grateful.

I believe that my story is a testimony to the power of prayer. I sincerely believe that the prayers of my current church for the members of the community saved my life."

Jennifer in VA

p.s. We live in a moderately rural area. That radio station won't come in anymore. It stopped coming in about a month or two after I read John 1:1. The station manager said that they had not increased the signal strength at that time nor decreased it since. They suggested that, perhaps, some construction had helped the signal come in right at the time I needed it. I will never know for sure.
You can share your story by sending it to

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Your story....

One of the things we are doing right now in our monthly elder meeting is sharing our stories. Each month, as we meet, part of the business of the day is for one of the elders to share "his story." It's a great opportunity to get to know one another, and know how God has worked in our lives. Tonight I was very interested in Jim's story because he is one of the quietest guys on the team, and I honestly knew very little about him, but when he started to talk about his life he had a lot to say. I never knew anything about his life or experience with Christ, but I do now, and will see him differently from now on.

What I would like to do in the days ahead is to give you an opportunity to share YOUR story. First names only please, but I would love to know your story and invite you to share it with those who stop by to read. What has been your odyssey? How has God worked in your life to bring you to Christ? So, would you share your story? It might just become the best part of our times together at this little blog. I look forward to hearing from you. You can send them to me at

Thoughts of the night

I've been out working late each night this week and have enjoyed the full moon the last few nights. I love a full moon. It puts such an interesting "light" on everything. It makes a dark night less fearsome. It actually reminds me of my own relationship with God. I'm sure you're thinking, "everything reminds you of that!" But really there are so many subtle reminders in the moon of my own life with God I wanted to share them with you. Here are just a few-
1. The moon has no light of its own. The light we see is simply the reflection of the sun on the moon surface. In the same way my life is meant to reflect the light of God. It's his light in me that people see. I don't create it, I am just supposed to reflect it. (Eph. 5:1-2)
2. The moon goes through phases....phases when we see it all and other times when it's just a sliver of what we know is there. I seem to do the same thing in my own life. There are times when I am fully allowing God to live his life through me and in those times people can really see Christ in me. There are other times when I'm living life my way. During those times it's really hard to see any of Christ in me. Like the moon I go through phases....vacillating between walking in the flesh and walking in the spirit. (Gal. 5)
3. The moon, simply doing its job, makes waves. The tides are a result of the moon's orbit around the earth. The moon affects us by its presence. In that same way I am called to affect those who come around me. It's often the work of the Holy Spirit without me even knowing it, but it happens. That really is saying nothing about me, but I'm speaking of what God is doing in me as I encounter those who pass by. (2 Cor. 2:14-16)
It's interesting to me that God has placed the moon around our planet as a vital part of life here. Earth would not be the living place it is without the moon. We, as Christ followers, have been placed here to reflect the light of his presence on planet earth. Life here would not be the same without us....this would be a very dead place indeed. But God has placed us here to be a vital part of his plan to give life to the human race. I'm glad to know that we are a part of God's plan in time and's always exciting when I can see a difference in the world around me because of Christ's work through me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Awwwww......fall is here.....cooler weather.....beautiful trees.....the smell of fresh clean air. What a wonderful time of year. I think this is, without a doubt, the best time of year. I'm so grateful that God created the seasons. Just when you are tired of one then the next one arrives just in time. It all seems so well planned out, doesn't it? It's a great time of year to take the long way home with the windows down. I hope you enjoy the wonder of God's amazing creation and the beauty he creates as the seasons change. It should make you smile.

It's chocolate week!

This week is chocolate Great Britian, but let's celebrate it anyway! Purchase mass quantities of your favorite chocolate and eat some each day this week in celebration of chocolate week. Why can't we have a week like this in the states?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A view from "The Edge"

I have just discovered my friend Jim's blog. I didn't know he was out there until he made a comment on a recent post I wrote. Here is his blog site. When you have time stop by and say hello.

I am thrilled to share with you his thoughts-

Passing through....

I am studying a passage of scripture that most of us do not think about much. It's the passage of Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth and his thoughts on "passing through" begin in chapter 4:1 and following. It's an amazing passage, but today I want to focus on just these few verses in chapter 5-
2Co 5:1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven--God-made, not handmade-- and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move--and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less.
We have a hard time letting go of these old tents of ours. I can't tell you how often I have heard family members say at a funeral of a loved one, "I can't believe this has happened to us!" And through their tears they are looking for an answer from me. Did they forget that everyone dies? Don't they know that the mortality rate for the human race is still 100%? What did they think would happen when their loved one got old and ill? It's amazing how we live in denial that the fate of all mankind will be our fate as well. How do we get so attached to these frail, windblown tents of ours? I think that many I encounter have no hope of anything beyond this, so "hold onto your tent as long as you can" is their philosophy. But for us who know Christ, who have trusted him as savior, we know this is only the beginning of our lives, and these dwelling places, like tents, are temporary and will soon wear out. The hope we have is not only for our salvation, but for our new bodies...the permanent bodies that will never wear out, get sick or hurt again.
As a "tent dweller" myself I long for that permanent residence that Christ promises me when he returns because, frankly, I'm beating this one up pretty badly. As one of my old friends tells me, "old age isn't for sissies." Age has a way of prying our fingers off of this life and making us quite aware that this will all soon end. When this life is over what's next? Have you planned for the next life by trusting Christ as your savior? If you have, then the transition from this life to the next will be like moving from the tent into a mansion. Being part of the nomad tent dwellers of planet earth I can't wait for the day when I see Christ and discover how he meant for us to live all along. Since you are just passing through this life make sure you are prepared for the life after this. I'm tired of living in tents.....I'm ready for that eternal home built on the rock.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thankful for an amazing church!

Today our church family is celebrating our 10 years on staff. I feel very blessed to be part of such a wonderful church. The people in our church are amazing, and their love for us is evident. I couldn't imagine a more wonderful place to be. I hope to be part of this church and help it grow for years to come. I must tell you I am very blessed to part of this family, and I'm very thankful for so many dear friends who have become part of our own family through these last 18 years together. Thank you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Oceansize - Open Music for Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Sorry everyone. The first video I posted did not work, but this is even better and is by the same photographer. I hope this video works!

Global panic!

If you have been watching the news the last few days you could be worried or even panicked at the financial news and the way the media spins it to disaster proportions. I am not a financial expert, but as the bears take their money from world markets and go home it is still true that God has promised to care for his children. He has never promised prosperity, in spite of what some may teach, but he always promises provision. He will take care of you. Don't let fear overwhelm you. There is a wonderful Father who never changes fully willing and able to care for you. Take a moment away from all the flurry of the news and read Philippians 4:6-7 and 4:19, and then go back to Psalm 37:1-10. These passages are dear friends of mine and I visit them often for direction and focus is the world of the bears.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What's your expiration date?

I am working on a passage of scripture for a message I'm teaching soon, and I began to think....what if we knew when our expiration date was? We put an expiration date on milk and other perishable foods, but what if OUR expiration date was written on us where others could see it? How would that change the way we live? What would we do differently? How would we treat people if we knew their day was today? It's so interesting to me that we are a culture living in denial of our own mortality...often unwilling to deal with the fact that we are only a vapor, a for a moment and then gone. How would you live differently if you knew YOUR expiration date?

Psa 139:16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not many will follow

One of the things that stuck with me from our conference last week was a statement that Chip Ingram made about being a pastor. He said, "You need to know that only 1 out of 12 people will make the decision to grow in their faith and pursue God." I guess I knew that intuitively, but to hear it said made me think- today, as I encounter people and teach the word, only a few will choose to grow and will begin to imitate Christ. And those few will look funny doing it at first. Like a child trying to imitate their father, the wardrobe won't fit....we will need to grow into it. But those who choose to grow, as silly as we may look at first, will soon begin to look like Christ. The clarity for me was to realize that this thing called the Christian life is God's business. I can do what he asks me to do, but few may respond....regardless of the response I must do what God has called me to do. Some will follow, baggy Christlike wardrobe and all, but soon they will grow into the clothing. All of this is God's business. I don't need to worry about results....I just need to be faithful and let God do what only he can do in the lives of men and women. We will get to see all that he did through us one day.....until then follow Him.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Today is my brother Marty's birthday. It's bittersweet now, but was always a celebration when he was living to see him reach another year. He died 4 years ago, and has been missed by all of us. I look forward to seeing him again when we meet in glory. I can't wait to see him without any physical handicaps! I don't ever remember him without health problems. It will be a great day to see him complete and all that God designed him to be. Just a short note this morning, just remembering.....

Being mercy givers

Luk 6:36 "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luk 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.
Luk 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
This morning, in part of my reading, I came to Luke 6. I love this passage because it's an invitation to imitate God, and it's extended by Jesus himself. I have not been very good at mercy and kindness. I had to learn a lot. My best teacher has been my wife. Most of what I have learned about mercy I learned from Joye. She is one of the most merciful and kind people you will ever meet. She oozes mercy. I'm sure it's one of her gifts.
The passage in Luke is an invitation to give to others what God has given you, and what you want in your own life. Do you want friends? Be a friend. Do you want mercy? Be merciful. Do you want kindness? Be kind. And then in verse 38 Jesus says, "give, and it will come back to you in wave after wave of those giving to you." (my paraphrase)
The reason this passage caused me to write today is something that happened on our trip home this weekend. On our way home, just south of Little Rock, we stopped at a truck stop for a break (it was raining very hard as we drove home), and there in the store was a woman and her 3 year old child soaking wet. They were waiting....for someone, something. My wife, Joye, said something to her on the way into the store, but as I rejoined her to leave she was engaging the woman in a discussion- "Are you ok? Do you need something? Can we help?" And before I know it this woman and her 3 year old and a man who showed up from nowhere are in the back of our van as we continue our journey home. We found out that the man was her husband who had been at the side of the store having a smoke, but his sudden entrance into our van was a little unnerving to say the least. I could tell Joye was thinking, "what have I done?" They told us that their car had broken down, and they just needed a ride 10 miles down the road in our direction. Being mercy givers isn't always easy, fun or safe, but it's always the right response. We talked with them, Joye gave the little girl some cookies, and off we go. The journey took us finally to a dirt road off the freeway and to their broken car. We dropped them off, and then continued our drive home. Not a big deal, no wonderful miracles to tell, no big drama to unfold, we didn't even share the gospel with them....just a little mercy given.
What will God do with that? I have no idea. Our task is to give to others what God has given us. It's up to God to take those acts of mercy and show others his mercy and grace as well. I've learned a lot about mercy and kindness from my wife. I think I would have turned out to be a grumpy, cruel old man if it weren't for her and God's work in my life. It's always an amazing thing to live with a mercy giver, it softens you...makes you more compassionate. It makes you into a mercy giver as well. What will happen? We may never know, but be a mercy giver anyway.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Saturday's cartoon

There's no place like home....

Finally....finally we are home. It's been a long week with a lot of long roads in front of us, but finally we are back in our little corner of the world, our little home. Home is an amazing place. It's so great to leave, but how wonderful to get back. For now just this brief update, but when my brain is once again working I will tell you more....

Friday, October 03, 2008

Amazing people

We are on our way home from a great week at the Billy Graham Conference Center in North Carolina. Tonight we got as far as Memphis, and will make our way home in the morning. We really enjoyed this retreat.

One of the things that I really enjoyed was the opportunity to meet fellow pastors. We got to know several very sweet couples who pastor smaller churches in different parts of the country. We talked about our different ministries, and shared our victories and challenges. It was a very encouraging time.

The one thing I thought, as they shared their lives and struggles, was how blessed we are to be part of our church family. Even though the last couple years have been difficult I wouldn't trade our church for any of the other churches I heard about from my new pastor friends.

I'm glad God placed us where he did and when he did. It's exciting to be part of his church in these last days and see him work in the lives of so many. It's a most exciting time to be be part of his church at the end of days. I'll tell you more when I get back.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Update from North Carolina

It's Thursday evening and we just finished dinner and a conference with Chip Ingram (photo) and Howard Hendricks. It was a great time of refreshing and time with other pastors and their wives. It seems like the time flew by for us, but we have had a great adventure and an opportunity to really reconnect with each other. This conference was very inexpensive and one that we wanted to attend.....all things worked out for us to be here, and I'm glad we took the time to get away. We all need times to refresh and rekindle our lives with our mates and pastors need it more than most! It's so easy to get so busy that you don't take care of the most important things.....your wife, your kids, your own spiritual health. This week was a time away for us, and thank you for allowing us to escape for a bit. We met some really great pastors and had a wonderful time. I'll fill you in when we get back.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

On the road...

I'm sorry I haven't posted this week. Joye and I are at the Billy Graham conference center for a retreat. They don't have TV or Internet here, so I had to write this quick note from my Blackberry. I will update you on events when we get back.