Tuesday, December 26, 2006


It is Dec. 26th! I am done with workout #1, starting to work on sermons for the new year, and in general trying to recover from the Christmas Celebration at church and Home.

Sunday ( Christmas Eve) was a heavy work load day for me. I preached twice in the morning and then did the devotional in the evening Christmas Eve Service. I was pretty tired, and really still am two days later.

I was very pleased with our attendance on Sunday. We did not know what to expect. First Service was full ( about 400 total) and Second Service approached 500 people. Then in the evening, I suspect there were well over 600 people. It was standing room only!

We did not do a candlelight service this year. Instead we used these little flashlights... the reaction was very mixed. Some didn't work well, others were hard to get on... and in general people like the candlelight more than the lights. Traditionalists feel that it was lacking.. But we have had such a bad time with wax on chairs and floors... and with the new facility next year, we felt it was a good time to make the change. We will evaluate this more over the year to see what to do next year. I wonder what other churches with nice worship facilities do with this?

We only did one service, because we had two services and SS in the morning. I felt that it was just too much to ask some of our music people to be in the building from 7- 12:30 and then from 4-8 on Christmas Eve.

It worked out great, people were understanding and the services were high quality. I have great respect for all our musicians and vocalists who give and give each week. Tim does a good job of pulling it all together and leading them.

Christmas day was a bit strange. For the first time, one of our kids was not here. Joel is with the OSU football team in Shreveport. We sure missed him, and after the phone call we had last night, I think he missed us too. Lydia and James went to his family's place around noon, and Liz and Nathaniel went home at 2 or so. So it was Abigial, Pam and I. What should we do. I took at 5 mile walk, which felt great, except for the 25 mph wind from the north. Then we decided to go to a movie. We went to the Pursuit of Happyness. Abigial had the best assessment of the movie. She said, "Alot of depression for two minutes of happyness." None of us really liked it... it was a sad story until the end. So if you are going to it, make sure you are in the mood.

We decided not to go to Nebraska... and just stay home this week. I think it is a really good thing for Pam, and it is for me to. So we are on our own schedule for a few days, doing different things and in general not having to do much in terms of meeting schedules or obligations. Should be nice.

THE BIG NEWS! Last night my Fantasy Football Team defeated Aaron Rathbone's team for the Fantasy Football league championship! Not bad for a rookie. I am so lucky. But it was a fun experience. I learned alot during the season... and next year I will be better. I owe Marc Bulger ( St. Louis Rams) and Ladanian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers) alot... they carried me.

More reflections on the last year are coming later in the week.



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fuel for Reconciliation

I think that one of the things that makes Christianity work is disagreement. That may seem strange, because we are called to unity, called to be one in purpose, called to agree with one another in the Lord and so on.

But how do you get 1000 people together every week and not have some sort of disagreements? We can't do that in our homes from time to time. We can't do that at our work places either.

This may seem like a strange statement, but disagreements are the fuel of reconciliation. Think about it.... If there was not a disagreement in the Garden ( "Don't eat of that.... but I am going to eat of that".) there would have been no opportunity for 2 Cor 5:18 to be true. " All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ...."

I am not saying we should pick fights or have disagreements just so we can have the pleasure of a reconciliation . But I think that passionate people will tend to disagree from time to time.

Does Paul and Barnabas ring a bell? They had a passionate disagreement about John Mark. But scripture indicates that even though they parted company,( the Bible says, "it was a SHARP disagreement- Acts 15:39) later in life there was reconciliation and further ministry together.

Can you be married very long before you disagree? While some couples make it a daily thing, for Pam and I, fighting and strong disagreements have been few and far between. Something that Pam has taught me over the years is that while we may disagree, we can not linger long on that, and need to settle the disagreement and move on. I tend to want to escape, let it fester and grow, and in general just be mad for a while. It is a way that makes me feel like I am in control.

But she has taught me to talk it out... to see both sides and to find the middle ground if possible. And in our marriage that has never been impossible. We have been able to work those things out. She has been the teacher for many years on the value of reconciliation in my life. ( That is a pretty cool person if you ask me!)

I used to think that at work everything was good if we all agreeed all the time. But the staff of our church has taught me that disagreeing is healthy. It shows good thought... It shows passion. It shows that people are thinking and not just becoming mindless robots that toe the bosses line. We had a staff retreat recently that included some tougth discussion about issues on the staff and in the church. One staff member commented to me recently that it was the best retreat that we have had because we actually scratched below the surface dealt with issues.

That is counter-intuitive to me. I want peace. I want harmony. But is peace and harmony desirable at all costs? Apparently Paul and Barnabas felt differently.

There has to come a time when a decision is made, a direction is chosen, a line is drawn in the sand, and where everyone on the team has to say, "Well, that is what was decided, so I will do my best with it." But it is not healthy to refuse the dialogue. It very destructive to team dynamics. Dialogue often means more information, which can change minds. Dialogue often means that someone feels like they are being heard. Dialogue often gives God a chance to change a heart... or point out a flaw or two that needs work. ( The Holy Spirit is pretty good at that, if we will give him the chance.)

In the case of Paul and Barnabas, John Mark was the disagreement. Paul did not want him on the journey because he was a deserter. Barnabas saw something in John Mark and said, "Give him another chance." When Paul wouldn't, Barnabas did.

I am sure this was uncomfortable for all involved. But Acts 15:40 says that Barnabas took John Mark and sailed for Cyprus, and Paul took Silas and left, commened by the brothers to the grace of the Lord." Sounds to me like the "brothers" decided that the big picture was more important here... that there was middle ground. And as a result (as He is prone to do) God made the best of it... sending two powerhouse teams out to spread the gospel.

Late in Paul's life, from a Roman prison, He writes to Timothy and says, "Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry." (2 Timothy 4: 11.) The disagreement between him and Barnabas was long gone. The disappointment of John Mark's decision to leave Paul on the first missionary journey has faded away. What was left was reconciliation and ministry.

It is a story of hope for me. It is an encouragement to not let disagreement linger, to work things out, to find middle ground, and to see the big picture.

It is hard work. But God has been doing it since the garden. And I am thankful He still is doing it today.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I thought I had seen it all.... Christmas each year brings out some really weird things... But what I saw on CNN today takes the prize....

On an Orange County Floriday Highway, there is a Santa Claus and a real live elf (with point ears and pointed shoes). A Santa Clause and real elf along side the highway, with a radar gun in his hand. Down the road there are 20 of his little "elf" helpers who happen to wear helmets, ride motorcycles and issue citations.

So imagine yourself driving down this highway ( looked like a 4 lane with a median in the middle), minding your own business, listening to the radio ( Christmas tunes I am sure), and you see Santa along side the road. Then you notice the Elf. You are going too fast, so you slow down, but you have that pang of guilt that says, "You just got nabbed by a 5'6" elf with a radar gun. "
Surely it can't be! It's Christmas. Then, you hear the shrill sounds of a motorcycle siren, and the signal to pull over. WOW!

The cost of the ticket is nothing compared to being nabbed by an elf.

I can't believe it. ( and this is coming from a guy that has never gotten a speeding ticket... I didn't say, "has never ever had occasion to drive in excess of the speed limit) To be caught by an elf is humilating. It is demeaning. It is down right scrooge like.

Makes you want to plug your chimney up... or refuse to put cookies out on the table on Christmas Eve, just in case that elf is moonlighting this Christmas Eve.

Or on second thought... maybe it would be better to be a law abiding citizen and not speed.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Deviled Eggs, Vision and Caring

This past Sunday, I made a significant point. ( Really Jesus did- Acts 20) "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

I am sure that coming on the heels of a Stewardship series, many people thought, " He just won't give up." But I didn't really say anything about money. I challenged our congregation to reach out to people, and to give tangible expressions of love to others. I am not sure that money is the best "tangible expression." I know that when the bills pile up, and you have alot more month left at the end of your check, you think, "I would take money this Christmas." Believe me, I have been there.

But then you miss the blessings of other gifts. In the past couple weeks I have gotten some pretty amazing gifts.

For starters, there was a note on my desk one day, saying there was a gift in the refrigerator (at the church) for me. So I wandered down there to see what it might be. I had visions of cookies, chocolate clusters, a piece of pie...stuff like that. When I got down there, and looked into the tin, I found that it was "deviled eggs." ( like 20 of them.) That may not be significant to you, but it was to me. The lady who made them for me, knew that I love deviled eggs. It was a gift... and I have been eating on them for several days ( one or two at a time, although I could have finished them off in a day if I had wanted to.) That was an unexpected gift... a personal gift... and a tasty gift.

I got a couple more gifts today. One was in the form of Vision. I visited with the new director of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Owasso. She shared with me her vision for a center that would continue to make a difference in the lives of young girls who found themselves to be pregnant. But her vision goes beyond just the unborn and their mothers. She celebrates all life and to that end we talked about caring about the elderly and others that seem so easily discarded in our society. She expressed her inadequacy for the job that lay ahead of her... and I thought, "Boy I know that feeling... and it is just where God wants us." I have great confidence that she and God will make a great team. I love her humilty, and her desire.

The other gift was a caring conversation with a friend. This individual and I had not talked alot since my stroke. We are alot alike and that at times had led to some "head-butting" , but always with respect.

Today , the conversation was so good because this person was shepherding me. Caring about me. Interested in how I was doing. There were ideas shared about potential changes in church activities but there also were laughs, and some honest reflection of how things are for me since I have come back.

I felt cared for. Many people care for me. I am so blessed.

So there you have it three gifts... Deviled Eggs, Vision and Caring. Maybe not what most people would look for under the tree, but all in all, not a bad day.

I know that it says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." But somedays, it is really cool to receive too.

Thanks to all three of you....


Friday, November 17, 2006

Thanksgiving and sharing

Today officially begins the "Holiday travel" season. Fox News said that this "travel season" lasts twelve days. This is not the time to be flying in America, or so they say. Does it ever occur to you that we lengthen out our holdiays more and more each year? It is like from the 2nd week in October through the 2nd week in January we are in "holiday"mode. Now, that is great fun for the most part, except when all you want to is to go to Walmart and get some shaving cream, and you have to wade through the bizzilion Holiday displays... in OCTOBER! Oh, sorry, I guess Walmart has decided this year to call them, "Christmas displays."

Holidays are great fun, but for Pam and I they are changing. Now we have two kids married and we have to share. I was always told it is nice to share, and I told my kids the same thing. But honestly, I don't think it should apply to kids and holidays. Nathaniel's family is a great group. I like them alot, but I wish we could have Liz and Nathaniel ALL day, every day of thanksgiving. But we have to share. ( I am sure his parents probably feel the same way) Lizzie and Nathaniel do all they can to make everyone happy and for that I am glad. Even with hours and hours of driving, they still will make it here.

Lydia and James will be here too... I am not sure what the schedule is, but they will drive down from Joplin... I imagine they will spend time with us, and with Jame's family ( They live 10 miles north of us). They are fine people... But I am selfish. I want them here ALL day and everyday...

Joel? Well, there is no girl to share with yet...yippee. It is the Oklahoma State Football Team. Bedlam is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There are great preparations for the home game... A really big game.... So I don't think he will be home. What is more important... OU vs. OSU or me being happy. I guess I have to share.

I thought about us going over there... but then Lizzie and Nathaniel and James and Lydia would be here, and the point is for all of us to be together.

Abigail will be home... YEAH! But it occurs to me that this too will soon end. She is a senior in High School, and someday, she will let us know that we have to share her too.

All we will have left is each other.... And honestly, that used to sound sooooo good ( with four kids afoot running through the house, making noise, and me saying,"hey... I can't hear the game!") Ah thanksgiving... what a fun time. Turkey, football, naps.... together.

All we will have left is each other, and 4 kids and their families coming and going, and me refining my ability to share.

A lesson that I need to learn, but not one I signed up for.

Happy Thanksigivng.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Saturday morning run...

Last Saturday, I set out to do something that I had been thinking about for over 20 years. I decided many months ago that if my health held out and I got better, that I would like to try the Tulsa Run. Not the fun run, or the 5K, but the 15K. The Big One!

Elizabeth said she would run it with me... so she came back from Illinois early and we set out on Saturday morning for Downtown Tulsa. We got there early. It was cold. About 35 degrees. And there was a north wind. Neither of these developments would deter me from my goal.

In the warm-ups we had a good time running around, acting like we knew what we were doing. I noticed that I was over-dressed... and boy was that the case during the run.

When the representatives of our Armed Forces came through in formation, I knew I was in the right place. What an inspiration!

It took us about 4 and 1/2 minutes to get to the starting line after the gun went off. There were over 3500 runners in this race. Elizabeth and I settled in and starting enjoying the run. It was fun! Someone had told us that it was a flat course.... They must have been dreaming. Pretty hilly for the first 5K.

We ran the first 7 k together... in about 50 minutes. That was decent time for me...but I was tired, and told Lizzie that she could go on ahead. So she did... I walked 3 K, and then ran the last 5 K into the finish line.

Some observations.....

* There are lots of really fast runners out there
* There are lots of really slow runners out there.
* I finished in 3324th place, ,out of 3477 runners.
* Seeing a familiar face was a great thing... Alan Cook , Dwight Stogner, John Hill were three of
our church members that I saw there
* Matt Sewall waited for me at the finish line with his mom. That was so cool.
* Liz finished about 30 minutes ahead of me, then ran back to where I was and ran the last
Kilometer in with me again. What a precious thing for her to do. I could not have don it with
out her.
* It feels really great to accomplish a goal.

Will I do it again! You bet! It is on the calendar for next year.

Some asked, "What was the hardest part of the run?" Actually it wasn't the run that was hard. It was the fact that when I got home, after thinking about the reward of a hot bath or shower on those very sore muscles, I found out that the Hot Water heater was broken. OUCH! That was not a good thing.

Both Bryan Wilmeth and Tim Sinkhorn came over and got the HWH going... That shower felt so good, even though it is was 9 hours later...

A great way to spend a Saturday morning.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lessons from Ted Haggard...

The lessons of the recent fall of Ted Haggard really hit home. As I followed this story of a mega-church pastor who had engaged in deceit and immorality, I could not help but think of David and his similar episode with Bathsheba.

I know that the two incidents are separated by centuries, and that the circumstances were not exactly the same.

But there are a few things that seem to parallel each other.

One, both men seemed to be accountable to no one. David did what he wanted to do. He became idle, and did not follow the normal course of activity that kings did in that day.

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the kings men and the whole Israelite Army.” 2 Sam. 11: 1

It seems that Haggard had no one that he was accountable to, and could use his time for activities that were anything other than God-honoring.

Two, both men were at the top of their world. Many scholars think that David was around 50 when he failed. Haggard is 50. Both of them had people that were at their beck and call. Popularity and fame has a way of clouding judgment, confusing values and creating an attitude of entitlement. Leaders with great demands on them, tend to think that they deserve to cut corners, or to play fast and loose with the rules. Both of these men did that it cost them greatly.

Three, both men found out that “your sins will find you out.” ( Numbers 32:23) God knew all the time about both of them… and it was only a matter of time before both of them faced the truth. The fallout was devastating for both of them as well. The Bible says, “Whatsoever a mans sows, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Fourth, Forgiveness was and is available for both. David was forgiven because he faced his sin and said, “I have sinned.” He dealt with his relationship with God and humbled himself before the Lord. He called on God, and God was there for Him. ( Psalm 51)

It remains to be seen about Haggard. He has started the process, but this is not something that happens overnight. Confession and repentance is a process. It is sometimes very painful and even lonely. But it is necessary as God reaches deep into a man’s heart to heal and repair the damage.

God’s greatest work may not be with Ted Haggard. I believe if Haggard wants to do the hard work, there is a redemption that can be had here… God is so good at that.

However, while it will not get the press, His greatest work in this case may very well be with the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. It may be with Ted Haggard’s family.

I have to be honest… I have prayed for Ted Haggard, as I sure many of you have. But I have that church and family on my heart. I pray that out of the terrible circumstances that have been thrust on them, that there will be a renewed sense of understanding about the Church. It is not the church of Ted Haggard. It is the Church of Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that no matter how many people come to our church, and how great things are… that we will never be intoxicated with success to the point that we begin to believe that we had anything to do with it. God gets the credit.

I also pray that his sons and wife will see the grace and peace that comes from understanding and forgiveness, and that they will extend it to their father and husband. I have a sense that they will. I hope they will.

For all the jokes, skepticism and cynical comments that the world wants to make about this, one thing is for sure… If anyone can bring glory to Himself out of this… It is God. Be assured of this…His Kingdom will prevail.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Lots of people have been wondering how I feel. It is funny... There are days I feel really great, like "I can take on the world". And then there are days that I feel like my world goes in slow motion. I can't predict

Last week, I spent two days in meeting with the staff. Being in the room with 11 other people for 6-7 hours is real challenge. The input of information comes fast and furious and it seems hard for me to process that much information in a short time.

What was great about the retreat is the understanding of those around me. They have been so good to me through out this time in my life, and they continue to do so.

I am slow integrating back into the life of the church. Besides preaching, today I did the opening and closing. I still plan to have Matt T. do that each week, but I managed it and that was good. I am reading better as well.

I still find myself losing words from time to time, and that is frustrating. It has happened very little in preaching, and for that I am thankful. It seems to be more in conversations and it is not happening every day.

Through the last 7 months, I have learned that limitations do not have to be completely debilitating. Imperfections are ok. Encourage is amazing. The people of First Christian Church are incredible. And my family has been wonderful. Especially Pam. What a true friend in every way. I am finding out every day that God blessed me more than I can imagine.

The future looks good. Physically I continue to get stronger. I am running now... 3-4 miles a day around 10 minute miles. Plus walking and lifting. This has made a definate change in my appearance. People are amazed, but not as amazed as I am. I just never thought this would happen for me. I still have a ways to go physically... but I am dedicated and will continue.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for me. You are great.


Friday, October 27, 2006

The Journey....

Last night I made a visit to a home that I had never been to before. I have a good friend who asked me to go visit this home, which is the home of his brother and sister in law. Rick and Janice are sweet people. They are relatively young, seemingly with much life ahead of them. They have two children and four grandchildren. They have a comfortable home in mid town tulsa. He has a good job. On the surface, it looks like a pretty good life.

She has cancer. WOW.

6 months ago it was pneumonia... or something like that. In the course of a few days, it went from a nasty cold to pnuemonia... Antibiotics wouldn;t hit it , and then on subsequent visits to doctors the cancer was discovered.

It has been just six months...but in that time, as a result of chemo and radiaiton, much of her life has been sucked out of her... on the surface.

Unless there is a miracle, she does not have a long time left on this earth. I have seen this before.

But I left their home last night amazed. I was amazed at how strong Janice was. I know her voice is softer, she has lost alot of weight, and she struggles with the daily things that she used to have totally under control.

But in her spirit I saw strength. I saw real love for her family. And honestly, when I visited with her she was wanting to talk more about me and the health issues I have had , than about herself.

I saw a peace as well. She knows the score. But she also knows that this is not all there is. She knows that something really great awaits her on the other side. This peace that she has spreads to the rest of her family.

Our quiet moments together last night remind me of something. We live in a fallen world. This place is not perfect. Sin has tainted God's original plan for the earth, and because of that, really good people like Janice get cancer. And good families suffer with sorrow. I don't get it... and don't always want to accept it. But it is the way it is.

I told Janice that none of us has a body that will live forever. Not here on earth. Instead we have a spirit that will be reuinited with a glorified body someday in the presence of God. And all that she goes through will be worth it.

2 Corinthians 5: 6-9 says, "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight, We are confdent I say and would prefer to be awy from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it."

We ended our talk last night with a thought. This is a journey... a journey that we all will have to take, unless the Lord comes. It is a journey that we do not take alone. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me."

Pray for Janice and Rick as they journey together. Your prayers make you part of the traveling party. They could use all the friends they can get for this last leg.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

College Volleyball

Lydia is a setter for the Ozark Christian College Volleyball team. They are having a tremendous year. I think their record so far is 27-2. They have lost to a NAIA Division I team and to the defending national champions. I have watched several matches, and they are really good. What makes them good? Teamwork. They do not have any superior athletes. They do not have a front line that averages 6 foot tall or taller. They are not especially quick. But they are amazing. They have great chemistry. They work very hard. And they have fun.

Isn't that a great formula for almost any enterprise? Chemistry + hardwork + fun= success for any team. I

The team also has great support from parents and friends. The team travels tomorrow to Manhattan Kansas for the Conference Tournament. I know that many parents will be there. Lydia will have her mom and sister, Grandma and Grandpa and other relatives as well. Several other parents will be there too. That support is encouraging.

The team has a very good coach. Coach Doss does a great job of getting the most out of the girls. But he also has fun. He is enthusiastic, but also demanding. And best of all, he is Christ-like. Winning isn't the only thing he is concerned about. He seems genuinely concerned about the girl's welfare. They seem to love to play for him.

After this weekend there are a couple more matchess and then regionals. The possibility of the National Tournament looms on the Horizon. I hope they make it. It is has been a fun season, and I am really glad that Lydia gets to play.

One last person should get some credit here. Lydia's husband, James, has been amazingly supportive. He has shown his love for her by letting her pursue one of her loves... He shows his character each time she goes out on the court. He can't make all the matches because he has to work. He knew it was important to her and he has made it possible. He is a pretty cool guy.

So go for it Lady Ambassadors.... It has been a great ride so far...

Sunday, October 08, 2006


50 years ago two young people got married in Medford Oregon. It was not a big affair in terms of numbers. No big invitation list, no huge cake, no ceremony with multiple attendants, tons of flowers, or multiple songs . It is what we would call a very simple ceremony.

I wasn't there. This was my parents wedding ceremony. But that day they exchanged vows in that ceremony. "Do you take this woman whose hand you now hold to be your lawfully wedded wife?" "I Do." "Do you take this man whose hand you now hold to be your lawfully wedded husband?" "I do."

You know the drill..."to have and to hold, in sickness and health, for richer or for poorer, etc."
They said "yes." Apparently they meant it, and still do.

For 50 years they have held to those vows. Thats not to say that there have not been some tough times. There have been ups and downs. There have been some really good times and some not so good times.

3 children were born to this union. That means there are 3 kids and 5 grandchildren who have seen a couple weather the storms and stay committed to each other and their vows.

The best thing about those 50 years ( from my perspective) is the obvious love they have for each other TODAY. They have figured out that the marrige covenant is a covenant that is based on humility, submissiveness to each other and a caring love that takes the curves life throws at them in stride. I love being around my mom and dad , because it is obvious to me that they love each other as much or more today than ever before.

What a blessing they are to my family! My kids have the incredible gift of two sets of grandparents who have been married for over 50 years. I believe that this example will be very important to them as they continue to navigate life themselves. Who knows, it may be their example that keeps them from thowing in the towel down the road. Maybe they can look at Pam's mom and Dad and my mom and dad and say, "Hey what we do is keep our committments and our vows. "

If that is what it takes for them to treat each other with respect, to stick it out when things get dicey, to love and cherish each other, and to honor God by honoring marriage and each other, then I am glad they have that example.

50 years is a very long time. You are guarenteed some pretty high highs and some low lows in 50 years. The important thing to remember is that when you get married, that is what you sign up for. High highs and low lows. To come through those experiences with a deep and abiding love for each is one of life's greatest accomplishments.

50 years later, Mom's health is not the best. Dad's eyes are not great, nor is his hearing. They have both lost a step or two. But the one thing they have not lost is each other. I think they will make it to the finish line, whenever that is. And the great thing is that they will journey the sunset years of their life together... exactly how they said they wanted it to be 50 years ago.

WAY TO GO Mom and Dad. I am proud of you both. You've done good!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Grace in Action....

The painful drama being played out this week in Pennsylvania illustrates several things for us today.

One, there are a lot of very confused and sick people out there. Isolation is a killer. Charles Roberts was well known in the area, but it seems that no one really knew what was tormenting his soul and life. One can be surrounded by people and still not be really known.

Two, pain is part of a fallen world. The Amish believe this. They understand that sometimes there are no answers to the questions… evil things happen because we live in a world filled with evil.

Three, GRACE is the right response. From the moment it happened there has been one consistent message from the Amish community. GRACE. Things like, “We forgive this man..” “We hold no ill will against his family” ( Within hours the Amish people were reaching out to Roberts wife and telling her that they wanted her to stay in the area and that she would have lots of friends that would take care of her and her children.)

The national news media doesn’t know exactly what to do with these people. They are amazed. How can someone forgive like this? How can someone reach out to others in the midst of incredible pain?

They have an answer- It is Jesus. Plain and simple ( no pun intended), they live by the teachings of Jesus. Teachings about forgiveness, turning the other cheek, and grace.

Joseph Stowell, president of Moody Bible Institute, has said that the American Church is “long on mad, and short on grace.”

We have become known more for what we are against, than what we are for. I think Stowell is right. We just act mad so much of the time. We’re mad at politicians, we’re mad at the media, we’re mad at the President. We’re also mad at those who live their lives differently than we do.

I say let’s stop being so angry with people who sin. Lost people are going to sin because they’re lost. Christians are going to sin because they’re not perfect. But we don’t have to run around pounding our chests, letting people know how right we are, and how wrong everyone else is.

Instead we ought to take heed of the words of Jesus.“ They will know that you are my disciples by your love.” It makes a difference. It certainly has in Pennsylvania

A group of Amish people have distinguished themselves… Not by their righteous indignation, or their political affiliation. But by their love. By their Grace.

We can learn a lot from them.

Thank God for GRACE

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just me thinking....

I have been thinking.... Are we too busy? In the church, I mean. Lots of discussion and thoughts have contributed to an ongoing discussion. Some of it comes from reading two very good books. One is "7 practice of Effective ministry" by Andy Stanley ( and his team). The other is an excellent book by Eric Geiger and Thom Rainier entitled " The Simple Church."


What is our process for making disciples? Do we even have a "process?" Is it easily identified by those who want to sign on? How does someone know from the beginning? Or is church life so complicated that people just have no idea?

What are the two or three most important things we do? Who prioritizes activities, programs, special events? Who says "no?" Who says "yes".

Do we scare people off by demanding that they give us three hours on Sunday morning, one on Sunday night, two hours for Choir, 2 hours for Music Rehearsal, 1 and 1/2 hours on Wednesday for classes, and a Men's or women's Bible Study on Tuesday, with a service project here and there, and a few extra events along the way?

Could it be that we scare some people away because they just see no way? Some may say, "They need to prioritize, get rid of all the other extra stuff, so they can engage in the church." Sounds so 21st Century! Not First Century. Those people still engaged in the culture and spent time being salt and light, instead of just gathering on the Holy Hill with others of like mind and heart.

Seems like we need some balance here.

With all the other things that fill our lives, do we consider doing less, for more impact? Baseball comes to my mind. 162 games a year. For the dyed in the wool fan, I suppose it is a good thing. But really, who pays attention until this time of the year ( the last week of the season- Yeah Wild card races) and the playoffs? Most people don't, except when the go to a game.

Football on the other hand has 16 professional games and 4 preseason games, which they are trying to shorten to two. Then you have the playoffs. But in pro football, stadiums are pretty much full every week. Why? Maybe because they only play one time a week for 4 months. Less exposure producing more impact.

I wonder about the same for the church. Mike Cope mentioned in his blog ( www. preachermike. com) that his family was a Wednesday night family ( meaning they were always at church then). Boy did he get some responses... some of which centered on households who have both spouses working, getting home at 6-6:30 PM , kids having 2-3 hours of homework, and so on.

It is true that most people, even in the church live somewhere between overcommittment and exhaustion. ( Not just staff, or leaders either, but most everyone)

It's just me thinking out loud.... Could it be that we ( the general church) do less, and make more impact?

I know the struggles with this. We have equated busyness with spirituality. We have said, "If I do more, then I must be more pleasing to God." I live with that one alot in my own mind.

So, we add services, special programs, events, more groups, and more classes, retreats and conferences. And we ( mostly preachers I am sad to say) get frustrated when fewer and fewer people come, especially to the extra stuff.

It is just me thinking through my fingers... I have no real solutions at this point. But I am thinking. And some people around me are as well.

What got me to thinking? Well, today was a bad day for me... I felt tired and weary all day. I needed rest, so I stayed home tonight. I did not feel good about it.....at first. As the night has wore on, I felt a bit better.... but still guilty. Maybe a bit more rested, but uneasy. I should be in ......you know.

So If I miss, does that mean I less of a disciple? Does it mean a black mark on my record? Does it mean one less jewel in my crown? Or does it just mean I needed some rest tonight?

Remember, it is just me thinking and writing. I may feel different tomorrow...but maybe not.

In the meantime, if the goal is busyness , then we are right on... let's fill the calendar! But if the goal is making disciples who know, love, serve and share Christ, maybe we need to look at some things along the way.

It's just me thinking....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This is too much....

For the most part, I don't want to use the blog as a "rant." That gets tiresome, and is not good for me. But there is something I have to get off my chest.

I watched the OU-Oregon game with alot of interest. Being from Oregon I had been excited about this game for a year. But I rooted for OU. Why? Well, I live here. We have three teams in Oklahoma. OU, OSU and TU. I root for all of them... even when they play Oregon. I like the Oregon team. I like their uniforms. I like the stadium. I like them every week, and root for them every week, except when they play OU. Then it is about 55-45 proposition.

So to Saturday's game. Everyone saw it for what it was. There were mistakes made. Big mistakes. BUT NOT FATAL MISTAKES. Not mistakes that will change the course of world history. These were mistakes that altered the outcome of A GAME.

I was frustrated and disappointed on Saturday. I let it go on for half a day or so. But Sunday was a new day. Sure coaches would be asked about it, and they have to respond. They need to stand up for their team. They need to point out the mistakes. They need to say that everyone is accountable. That includes the 19 year old that blew the coverage at the end of the game on Oregon's last touchdown. That includes coaches who made curious calls during the game. And that should include officials.

But maybe, on the Wednesday following the Saturday game, there needs to be another group of people held accountable. The OU fans.

Don't you think that our priorities are a little out of whack? The paper reports that the replay official is getting death threats. There has been constant whinning about the result, to the point that it makes me sick. It makes be just a bit ashamed of where I live. IT IS JUST A GAME PEOPLE....

One player was asked, "How do you feel?" He said, " I feel like we were robbed." ROBBED? Because someone made a mistake in a replay booth at a FOOTBALL GAME?

ROBBED... Hmmmn... I can understand a mother of a 21 year old soldier who was killed by a IED in Iraq saying, "We were robbed." That computes with me. I can see someone saying that Corporate corruption "robbed" them of their lifelong savings and retirement. That is "being robbed." I can understand the parents of a teenager who was killed in a car acccident by a reckless driver saying, "We were robbed."

I think it is high time that all athletes and people in general understand that little in this life is fair. ( Ask Jesus about that one.) There are always going to be instances where a mistake is made and at some point someone has to say, "Get over it and move on." That is where character is built. That is where perseverance is cultivated. That is where lessons learned become the springboard for victories in the future.

In this case, Bob Stoops has said all he is going to say. Hopefully the AD and the University President ( Doesn't he have more important thingst to tend to than this?) will do the same.

Who knows....maybe both teams will win out... Oregon will be 1 and OU will be 2. And then their will be a rematch in the BCS national championship game. I might suggest that we leave TV out of it.... maybe play the game like to good old days, where you had to listen to it on the radio, or read about it in the paper. Then it may be possible that all this wonderful technology we have will be left on the sidelines and the game will be left on the field, where it ought to be.

By the way...all this has really hurt BOTH teams. Oregon and OU played a fun and entertaining game. They fought thier hearts out. But the only thing anyone remembers is a blown call. Too bad. They ALL deserve better.

I am done ranting...

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Day after....

For the last 5 months or so, I have been looking forward to September 17th. This was the day I was to resume preaching. As the day approached, I had more anxiety than I exepected. The reason was that I did not know what to expect. Would I be 'presentable?" Would the added stress of speaking before 400 people twice in one morning send my word processing into orbit? How would people respond? How tired would I be?

It all went well. I earnestly prayed that God would take the efforts and make some sense of them, and get me through it without falling down, or passing out. God gets an A+ on all three.

The people of the church were so good. The "welcome back" song ( from the show Welcome Back Kotter) was a nice touch. It surprised me, but it should not have... sound guys have all the power. The only problem with it was that only people 35 and older would have known what the song was!

I finished first service, and walked to the back of the stage. There, I sat, and started to cry. Sobbing kind of crying... It was the emotion of the last 5 months just pouring out. They were tears of joy. They were tears of fatigue as well. I was so tired. Pam whisked me home for a 20 minute nap. A bananna and some Peanut Butter helped my energy level and then I was ready to tackle it again

Second service was different. About 1/2 way through, my energy level was quickly diminishing and I could literally feel that I was running out of gas. The message was too long to begin with. Then when the wave of fatigue hit me, I was trying to get out of the sermon as quick as possible.

I went back afterwards and waited for Pam. By then I was wasted, totally out of gas... My best friend came back, looked at me and said, "Go home!" That is what I did. I went straight to bed and woke up somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00.

Yesterday was a big step. But it was not the end point. I still exercised alot yesterday ( morning and evening) I still got up this monring and headed to the Owasso Fitness Zone. And I came to the office for a bit. I determined long ago that while September 17th would be a big day, it was not the finish line. So I continue to strive to get better, get plenty of rest, workout each day and eat right... and work on the next sermon. That last line sounds so good.

I will be back Sunday with Lessons from the Desert.... Church edition. I learned alot about churches during this time.

The day after really becomes "the day before..." for me. As long as God will, I will look forward to tomorrow too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I have had some trouble accessing my blog for a couple weeks... that is why there have not been posts. I have had a lot to say, but I couldn't get in. But now I can. Therefore, I have something to say.

Sunday ( Sept. 17th) will mark my return to the pulpit at Church. I was reflecting on the past 5 months, while walking this morning. Some observations...

One, I am healthier. I have lost some weight, and am exercising regularly. This is a good thing. Too bad it took a stroke for me to take these things seriously.

Two, I am back at the office half days. I am glad to be back. It is great to engage with the staff, albeit on a limited basis.

Three, I went back to the the Nuerologist on Tuesday. She is very pleased with my progress, but warned me that it would be slow from here on out. She confirmed that the fatigue, word processing problems and balance issues were to be expected, and they won't go away overnight. Brain injuries heal on their own time. But overall she said I was doing great.

Four, I am nervous about Sunday. Lots of people are praying. Lots of people have expressed support through calls, notes, and personal contact. But preaching is what I do. And I want to do really good. I think it will be okay. One thing that I am thankful for is that God makes good even out of our feeble attempts. I found comfort today in Moses' story... God spoke for him before Pharoah. I am praying that He will speak for me as well.

Five, I thank God for the progress. Things were pretty uncertain in April and May. I see that I have a future, and a place in this church. I am encouraged about how great the church has done. Our future is awesome!

If you read this, thanks for the prayers... keep them comin'.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Simple Things...

I get so wrapped up in big things. Big dreams, big hopes, big plans... God has a way of reminding me that the simple things are often the things that mean the most. For instance...

Last night Pam and I went to OKC to watch Lydia play volleyball for Ozark Christian College. . I was very thankful when I asked Lydia if her back hurt after the match, and she said, " No." Seems like a little thing, but last year her back really hurt after every match. I don't like to seem my kids hurt. By the way , they won in five games... They are better this year.

Last night as we were driving back, Pam needed to take a break at the McDonalds on the freeway. She apoligized. There was no need to apologize. I told her that I had no where else to be but with her. She reached over and held my hand. That was a simple thing. Her hand was warm. It communicated love in a special way. I liked that. Touch is an amazing thing...simple but amazing.

This morning I got up a little late. Abigial was already up and was "bouncing" through the house, happy and perky. I like that. It is a simple thing. I look at Abigail and wonder how our life would be so different ( not for the better) if we had stopped at three kids. What a blessings she is.

This morning I went out and walked. Rain was in the air, although it was not raining at my house. Three blocks down the road? You guessed it... it was raining. I wore a windbreaker, which helped. Rain is such a simple thing... a gift from heaven. I love my green grass, my healthy flowers, my growing tree (yes its the only one in the yard.) I love the fact that God gives the gift of rain, even in August... and COOL weather...

This morning as I was walking, the rain let up a bit and there it was. Maybe you saw it on your way to work... The Rainbow. Complete and full. Multi-colored and beautiful. I turned off my IPOD for a minute and thanked God. I thanked him for his creativity. I thanked him for
His Promise that he would not destroy the earth with water. And I thanked him for Jesus.

That's what rainbows are all about... Promises...Ultimately, it is about the promise of another way... The only way.... Jesus.

It's been a nice 24 hours...full of simple things... that probably are not all that simple. There will be many other days that will be full of complications and complex issues. So I was reminded that when a "simple things" day comes along... enjoy it!

One other thing about today... TONITE! High School football. Is this not a great time of the year!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Special gifts....

Last night, our church hosted a young man who has an incredible gift. He is called "The Jesus Painter." With music in the background, he painted three portraits of Jesus on large canvasses. They were amazing. Each portrait told a story that revealed the final pictures. Each of the focused on Jesus and his love and sacrifice for us.

What struck me about this was the fact that this young man has found a way to use his gifts to inspire, motivate and encourage believers. I also believe that non-believers could be amazed about this gift and be motivated to ask some questions about Jesus.

It got me to thinking..... Many times we put people and their gifts in a box. We say that if you want to serve God, then here are the ways that you can do it. We provide a list and tell people "Go for it." But what happens to those who have gifts that don't fit the stock lists that we have in mind?

I am afraid that in many churches they get ignored. They get told that the gift they have doesn't really fit. Eventually if that gift is not given the opportunity to bloom, it dies. Only God knows what opportunities the church has missed because we decided who God could use and who he could not.

One of the awesome things about God is his committment to diversity. No one person is exactly alike to another. Even if they are identical twins, they still have different souls, and often different gifts. God is so creative that even today, thousands of years removed from the Garden of Eden, God is still finding ways to create different people with different gifts and interests. It looks like He is not running out of ideas.

I write this as encourage to those of you who find yourself outside the box. Go on ahead and explore your giftedness. Figure out how you can glorify God through it and then go for it. For when you do that, you remind us that God uses all kinds of different people, with different gifts , for the same purpose: to glorify Him.

The Jesus Painter ended his testimony with a thought that really blessed me. "God is more interested in your availability, than he is in your ability."

I think that is pretty good theology.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Reflections from another church visit.

One of the benefits of the sabbatical has been my attendance at other churches. I have attended churches in Oklahoma, Oregon, California, and Arizona. Here in Tulsa, I ( and sometimes all or part of my family) have attended First Baptist Church of Tulsa, Asbury United Methodist Churh in Tulsa, Cedar Ridge Christian Church in Broken Arrow, and First Christian Church in Owasso.

While I have spent most of my time at FBC of Tulsa, I was really blessed and challenged this morning at Asbury. Some observations

1. It is a huge church. They have like 5 services. Their worship center is gigantic... The choir has 73 people in it, and they were wonderful.

2. The traditional worship was really good. I told Pam that you never know exactly what you are going to get when you see "traditional" or "contemporary". This was traditional, with the big Organ and the choir, Orchestra.... no praise team, no band per se.... It was done with excellence, and was engaging.

3. Some of the Liturgical elements of worship are very meaningful. The prayer time, with the congregational recitation of the Lord's prayer was very engaging... For those of who you are FCC members, this will become more familiar to you. Some of the Lord's prayer will be very foundational to my preaching in 2007. They also recited the Apostles' Creed. First time for me in a service, and frankly it was very stimulating to me. "I believe..." I liked that... Our creed is the Bible. But the intentional declaration of the beliefs of our faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is invigorating to me. It makes me think.

4. The preaching at Asbury is fantastic. Honestly, I was kind of surprised. I had "heard" that Tom Harrison was a good Bible preacher. But I wondered... Can a denominational church really have good preaching? Can a super large denominational church have good preaching? The ansswer to both those questions is yes... Harrison's treatment of what the Bible says about truth was right on. His declaration of Jesus being the "way, the truth and the Life." was inspiring and encouraging. He applied the scripture in a masterful way.

5. The baptism of sprinkling is disappointing to me. The service had this element, and it just seemed incomplete to me. It is more than just a symbolic act. It is the connection that we have to the death, burial and ressurection of Christ... It is where we put on Christ, where we are clothed with Christ as the Bible says. It is where , as the Bible says, that we receive the Holy Spirit. ( No where else does the Bible tell us we can receive the indwelling of the Spirit in another way.) What is interesting about this morning is that I know that there is a baptismal tank in that sanctuary... and that people can be immersed there. Just seems to me to be the way to do it... after all it was good enough for Jesus, the Apostles, the early church and beyond....

6. I was encouraged overall... There are some really good Bible teachers who are doing some great ministry. Harrison was engaging, Biblical, and humble....

7. The sound of Bible pages turning is sweet. I have to say, of all the churches I have been in the last 4 months, today, you could hear the pages turning. I just think there is something valuable in people thumbing through the Word... Of course it has to be more than just thumbing through.
I heard someone say this summer, "God's objective is not to get you through the Word, but to get the Word through you." I like that... Good preaching motivates that kind of thinking.

Its been fun. We will attending three more churches before I enter the pulpit at FCC. One will be in Nebraska... small, but and effective kingdom Church. Another will be College Heights Christian Church in Joplin. Growing, dynamic and again very strong Bible teaching ministry. And we will also attend Fellowship Bible Church of Northwest Arkansas. ( Liz and Nathaniel attend there) I will write more about those in the future.

To sum up. Praise God for all churches who strive to make disciples. Praise God for different approaches. Praise God for truth which can be preached, taught, and lived in different ways. Praise God for the impact of these churches in their communities...

And Praise God that I am able to come back to FCC 4 weeks from today.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The end of being on the road...

I am writing from Mesa Arizona. Mike Raburn, Bob Haywood and I have been traveling, looking at churches, and talking about growth, multiple sites and communication with some of the leaders of these churches.

We attended the Leadership Summitt in Irvine California onThursday and Friday. Great conference on leadership. One thing that I believe the church ( universal) needs to do more of is to encourage its leaders ( paid and unpaid) to spend more time honing the leadership gift. Romans 12 tells us that if we have the gift of leadership we should lead with all dilligence. As it is with any other gift, leadership has to be developed. It has to be crafted. It has to be shaped. Some of that happens through the experience of leadership. But it also happens through study and exposure. Exposure to other "top shelf" leaders really does make an impact. So conferences like this really help me get away and look at my leadership.

I believe that if FCC is going to push through some of the "lids" of growth that we have ( attendance, facilities, etc) it is going to take great leadership. Not just from me, but from Staff, Elders, Ministry leaders, small group leaders, sunday school teachers, and more. Everyone is both a follower and a leader. All of us should be leading someone in our lives. All of us who call First Christian Church our family must have a common vision to reach the thousands of people in Owasso who do not know Christ...It is a matter of eternal life and death.

Conference speakers like Bill Hybels, Patrick Lencioni, Jim Collins are great for me. They stimulate my thinking... They give me hope that my leadership can make a difference for the Kingdom, for the local church and for my family.

What made it even better was sharing the experience with Mike and Bob. Both are great friends that have the love of God and his church at the center of their hearts. And they are fun.

This weekend, we flew back through Phoenix and visited three churches.

Christ Church of the Valley is the second largest Christian Church in the US. Average attendance is about 10,000 people every weekend. Believe it or not, their pastor has been on a 12 week sabbatical and he was back for the first time this weekend. . Their people were so warm in their reception of him. And I thought about my return. I know that it will be an emotional moment for me and our church. I thank God that I am able to say that I am coming back soon. The church service was great...I felt like they do things alot like we do. And I love our worship ministry and Tim.... I did not see anyone on this trip that leads to the level that Tim leads us. We are so fortunate to have him.

Central Christian Church of Mesa is a 4000 member church that has transitioned from an ingrown church to a church that is reaching out. It has been a challenging transition for them... and one that they are not done with. As you know we have made a great effort to talk about Invest, Invite and Include. The Church has done a great job with this but we are just beginning some of that transition. Tomorrow we will be spend some time with their executive staff talking about that transition, and thier plan to have two campuses. I think we have alot to learn from their experiences

Chandler Christian Church of Chandler is a church much like ours. They have about 2500 people each week, in 4 services. Thier worship style is much like ours. Roger Storms is the Pastor ( former associate at East Tulsa Christian Church). He is a good teacher and a great leader. They too are working on a second site, as well as pushing through growth goals. We meet with them tomorrow as well. I am anxious to talk with Roger, because he is closest to the growth levels that we are at. They know what it takes to get through 1000 and on to 1500, and growing into a regional church that impacts the community and beyond.

With all that said... I am ready to be home. This is the last trip that I will take. I am going to be around a bit more in the church, coming to the office a little more, and beginning to ease back into church life. I will be meeting this week with the Elders to define the scope of my return...

I am so thankful for the experience of the Sabbatical. I have learned so much. I have made some significant lifestyle changes. I have prayed and sought God for wisdom as to what my ministry will look like in the future. But now, some four months later, I am ready to get back to the people I love,a nd back into a routine. That routine will look different than it has in the past, but I pray that it will allow me to be more effective in impacting the world around me. I want to make a difference... a real difference. I know that this comes through devotion to Christ and the call that he has on my life.

It will be so good to be home....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A new adventure

One of the things that people close to me have been saying for years is " You need to find something else besides the church to do." They are right. I dabble at golf. I am not very good, which is a predictable result for someone who really doesn't play that much. I have started going out to the Driving range more. This is supposed to make a difference... a difference that I have yet to see. But the promise is before me, so this fall I plan to play and practice more.

I have been recruited to a new adventure. Fantasy Football. I like football alot. Especially college football. I like OU, and OSU ( Joel is an equipment manager for the team) Oregon ( I will root for the Ducks to beat the Sooners this September) and Nebraska. ( I am married to a Husker through and through)

Fantasy football is a pro team sport. I know very little about how to do this. So this afternoon, my Fantasy Football guru met me for lunch and we went through the basics. It is said that the first year is a learning year, which I think is probably true. But it will not be a wasted year. I am going to study and think alot about this in my spare time. I can be competitive, and I hope that to some degree this will bring it out.

However there is a better reason than winning to play Fantasy Football. It is the fun and fellowship that comes with getting together with a group of guys and playing a game. It is the fact that I don't know these guys very well and I want to. They seem like great guys from a distance, and I think they will be up close too. And I think they will do something that I really like in my life. They will let me be me.

I have some other guys that do that... Golfing buddies, our small group, friends that I eat lunch with periodically in Downtown Tulsa and some other friends that treat me like a regular guy. I love those guys, and I am glad to have a new group that I can be that way with.

By the way.... One thing that I love about Pam, Elizabeth, Joel, Lydia, Abigial, James and Nathaniel is that they see me as a regular guy... and not some guys who stands up and preaches to a church every week. They are proud of what I do, but they have never let that define for them who I am. What a blessing.

It is going to be fun. And contrary to the prevailing opinion, maybe a rookie might sneak up on someone and surprise them... I will let you know.

A new adventure

One of the things that people close to me have been saying for years is " You need to find something else besides the church to do." They are right. I dabble at golf. I am not very good, which is a predictable result for someone who really doesn't play that much. I have started going out to the Driving range more. This is supposed to make a difference... a difference that I have yet to see. But the promise is before me, so this fall I plan to play and practice more.

I have been recruited to a new adventure. Fantasy Football. I like football alot. Especially college football. I like OU, and OSU ( Joel is an equipment manager for the team) Oregon ( I will root for the Ducks to beat the Sooners this September) and Nebraska. ( I am married to a Husker through and through)

Fantasy football is a pro team sport. I know very little about how to do this. So this afternoon, my Fantasy Football guru met me for lunch and we went through the basics. It is said that the first year is a learning year, which I think is probably true. But it will not be a wasted year. I am going to study and think alot about this in my spare time. I can be competitive, and I hope that to some degree this will bring it out.

However there is a better reason than winning to play Fantasy Football. It is the fun and fellowship that comes with getting together with a group of guys and playing a game. It is the fact that I don't know these guys very well and I want to. They seem like great guys from a distance, and I think they will be up close too. And I think they will do something that I really like in my life. They will let me be me.

I have some other guys that do that... Golfing buddies, our small group, friends that I eat lunch with periodically in Downtown Tulsa and some other friends that treat me like a regular guy. I love those guys, and I am glad to have a new group that I can be that way with.

By the way.... One thing that I love about Pam, Elizabeth, Joel, Lydia, Abigial, James and Nathaniel is that they see me as a regular guy... and not some guys who stands up and preaches to a church every week. They are proud of what I do, but they have never let that define for them who I am. What a blessing.

It is going to be fun. And contrary to the prevailing opinion, maybe a rookie might sneak up on someone and surprise them... I will let you know.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Back home again....

This past Friday I made a decision.... its time to go back to church. I have been in church almost every weekend since I got sick, but I just felt that it was time to get back to First Christian Church. I consulted Pam, who agreed... "It would be much easier to ease back in , that to just appear in Mid September." Made sense to me. I felt ready to tackle the world of hundreds of people that I knew...

I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive. I don;t know exactly why, but I was. We arrived and went to Sunday School class. How good it was to sit and learn. Dale Wallace is a great teacher. He is not the only for sure. It seems to me that our church has an unusual number of good bible teachers. That is one of the strengths of our church. It felt so good to sit next to Pam in class. I have missed her alot in this way.

Then to worship services. WOW! The service was led by our youth and it was awesome. It is always so good to see their heart. Matt Thomason did a great job preaching, and Tim Tibbles led worship. I found that to be really good, partly because I know his style, and I knew most of the songs.

As I left, it was so great to be greeted by so many. The love and well wishes were a bit overwhelming. "When are you coming back?" was a familiar question. "We miss you..." I needed to hear those things.

After lunch and in a quiet moment, I reflected on somethings...

For one, I was tired. I am not all the way back stamina wise, and mornings like this show that to me. It will take a while. I don't totally understand why crowds wear me out... but they do. In time that will come back. But I have to take care of myself and watch that carefully.

Second, It would have been easy for the church as a whole, and the staff in particular to say, " When Charlie gets back, we will gear back up." It could have been a coasting time... waiting time etc. But it is very evident that it has not been that at First Christian Church. I looked around and saw dozens of people I did not know. And each time, I thanked God that the church had continued the effort to INVEST, INVITE and INCLUDE. I looked around and saw so many smiles, and joyful expressions of love. And I thanked God that this church is healthy and strong, with or without me. I saw a strong appreciation for God and for the youth of our church. I saw a father watch his son be baptized, and I saw the look of pride on his face, as he saw him buried with Christ.

I sensed that our church has gained ground during this time. It has been a very strong summer and we are poised for some amazing things this fall.

WOW! That is all I can say. I can't wait to get back in the full swing of things. I will be gone the next 2-3 Sundays, but after that, I will be around...

It was really good to back home again.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I am not a gardener.... but my Dad is. When I visited them in Oregon, one morning I asked Dad if there was anything around the house that he needed done. He mentioned that there were some weeds in the ditch in front of the house that he needed to have cut down.

So I grabbed the weedeater and took care of the weeds. It took 5 minutes... Following that I asked if there was anything else, and he mentioned the weeds around the perimeter of the garden. Dad had taken care of the weeds around his corn, and squash and other plants. But not so much around the perimeter. So I took the weedeater and went at it. That took me quite a bit longer than five minutes. They were thick and they were high. There were things hidden in the weeds that were hard and sharp. So it took some time, but eventually they got taken care of. ( Thank goodness for a heavy duty weedeater!)

I think one of the greatest dangers in life are weeds. Even Jesus talked about weeds ( thorns) in his parable of the sower. ( Matthew 13) Some seed falls among the weeds which grow up around the fruit of the seed and choke the life out of it. Jesus describes that in Verse 22 "What was sown among the thorns (weeds) is the man who hears the word but the worries of life and deceitfulness of wealth choke it making it unfruitful."

The difference between the weeds of a garden and the weeds of a life is the fact that we can be so busy doing good things in one area of life that we ignore the weeds growing in another. On the surface, our lives may look pretty good... things are going well.... we are productive in our eyes and others... but all along there are weeds. Nobody sets out to have a garden or a life full of weeds. It just happens.

Weeds show up in our marriage, and sometimes it is easier to ignore them... or just hope that they will go away.

Weeds show up in our spiritual lives. We may notice some inappropriate attitudes, or words that come out of our mouth that are out of character...and we just hope that it will get better..

Weeds show up in our relationships with friends. Maybe they say something that bugs us, or we just get tired of being accountable and we kind of pull away from them. It is easier to live unaccountable lives.


This is on my mind because someone that I care very deeply for has let some weeds pile up in his life and it is choking him. Slowly but surely his life has become less of a garden and more of a pile of weeds. And it is costing him dearly. The problem is that he has become so comfortable with the weeds that I am not sure he wants to go back to the garden. He simply can not see beyond the weeds. It is a terrible place to be.

So for those of you that read this, let me encourage you ( as I will myself), to be ruthless about the weeds. Tear them away from the garden of your life. Watch very closely your life. When something shows up, don't ignore it, don't hope it will just go away. Don't say, " I will get to it later." DEAL WITH IT! For if you don't you will find yourself in a mess.

One of the reasons that the weeds around the perimeter of my dads garden were so difficult to get rid of was because they had been let go for so long. The longer you and I wait to take action, the harder it is.

Painful? Sure it can be, especially if you have done any weeding lately. Threatening? Absolutely, especially if you have gotten used to the weeds and what life feels like with them. Destructive? Well, why do they call them weeds? Look no further than the defintion of a weed.

" a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth; especially one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants ."

That is what weeds do... and if you don't control and mange them, it really hurts. So with Jesus' help, I am on the lookout for weeds in my life. I hope you will be too.



Thursday, July 20, 2006

"In everything give thanks...."

I am thankful for:

1. A loving God who forgives, forgets and showers more Grace on me than I deserve.

2. A loving wife who has stayed with me for more than 25 years, through many moves, ups and
downs, good times and bad... Pam is the love of my life.

3. Four wonderful children, all of whom love God and love their parents and siblings. That is all
that we ever really asked of them.

4. Two Son-in-laws, both of whom have shown that they love God and have the desire and
capacitiy to love our daughters. Nathaniel and James are blessings from God

5. A mom and dad who are showing me that retirement is possible and can be really good. I
have a long ways to go, but I love the life they are living. They are doing it right.

6. Hot weather.... I know that sounds strange when it is over 100 for the 5 th straight day, but I
like the heat.

7. Air Conditioning.... What did they do before A/C?

8. A loving church. The expressions of love and anticipation of my return have bouyed my
spirits and motivated me to work even harder at my recovery.

9. Friends. I have lots of friends.... from those who mow my grass, to those who play golf with
me, to others who invite me to be a part of their Fantasy Football league, to others who have
been there for me...to talk to , to vent, and to share my life with.

10. Exercise. I have grown to love exercise. The benefits are obvious.

11. Football season... It is almost here, which means that Baseball is more than half over, fall is
coming soon, and Saturdays get much more interesting.

12. My return is coming soon. I am trying not to rush it... but I am sure looking forward to the
day when I can preach again,and join my friends on the staff in the greatest work in the

What are you thankful for? Sometimes it does alot of good to list it out... Remember, "In everything be thankful."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Random thoughts...

I am back from a month long period of travel. I spent about 2 1/2 weeks on the road with Pam, in Florida, Tennesee, and Kentucky. Then about 10 days in Oregon with my folks. Great times !

I did alot of reading while away from home. I read a statement in a book that really caught my attention. The baisc premise of the statement was that the "church has been guilty of being more known for what we are against, than what we are for" in this culture. I have let that incubate in my heart alot over the past few weeks. I think in large part it is a true statement. Outsiders often view us in a very negative light. They hear that we are against abortion, against pre-marital sex, against materialism, against, against, against.

But what are we for? Well I am for anything that points people to Jesus. Read the gospels and look at how Jesus approached the culture. He did not tear down the culture around him, and criticize it. He just offered a different way. The Kingdom of God way. In his "model prayer", Jesus said " Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." John Ortberg has spoken a great deal on this. He sums up that statement by saying, "Make up there come down here...." I think that was Jesus' way. He told the woman at the well that there was a better way to worship. He told Zaccheus that there was a better way to live, and to be generous. He told the disciples that living by faith was better than having everything figured out ahead of time.

What are we for? We are for the poor being fed. We are for the sick being healed. We are for people finding lasting meaning that goes beyond this life. We are for kindness, gentleness, peace in the world. We are for understanding of other viewpoints, all the while maintaining a committment to the truth of the scriptures. We are for lifting people up, not tearing them down. We are for patiently waiting for someone to take a step of faith. We are for seeing people surrender their lives to Christ and being born again.

There are lots of things that we are for. And we don't need to cut each other down, just because someone approaches things different than we do. Here is what I am getting at.

I was going to attended a specific church this Sunday. I had not been there, and it had been on my list to attend this summer. I got on thier website and read the welcome from the Pastor. It started out okay... but then it degenerated into a criticism of the church in America. One comment really turned me off... A comment about "Are you tired of going to a church where it is the latest fad of the week, and where the preacher is a "David Letterman wannabe?" The implication was that "the way we do church is the right way and if you want to be right, then you should be at our church." Turned me off... so I did not go. I can't go to a church that in one breath says it wants to preach the gospel, but does it by appealing to people of other churches, implying that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

A couple questions.... One, what does the non-believer see when he reads that? Two, why do we have to tear others down, in order to build ourselves up? That is the human condition I suppose, but it is distasteful. I have no doubt that this church is doing some really great things... but they don't need to criticize others who use different methods to reach people. They are not my enemy. And I am not theirs. Satan is our common enemy. Together, we fight him, hard!

I say all this because I want to grow into a person who is known more for what He is for, than what he is against. I resolve to speak well of others, and thank God for the incredible variety that he displays in the church.

It is good to be home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Preacher goes fishing.

This will come as a big surprise to some of you who listened to me preach last March. The series was about Fishing for men, and I talked alot about how little I know about fishing. I also said that fishing was not my most favorite thing.

Well, today I went fishing with my dad. We loaded up a small boat, and went about 30 miles up the McKenzie River ( outside of Springfield Oregon). We lauched the boat. I did have a license, and the Game Warden was there and checked. We went to a favorite fishing hole that Dad has fished for years. The McKenzie river has a series of small dams on it, but this part of the river is very calm, just above the Leaburg Dam. We found the hole, and in the course of about 2 hours, we limited out ( For novices like me that means, "We caught all that the law will allow". ) It was great fun. The weather was awesome. Cloudy, 70 degrees, no wind. There was no one on that part of the River, so we were pretty much alone. We did have a home owner nearby who kept telling us that there were only a few fish there, and His grandkids were coming from Arizona and He promised them so fish to catch. But Dad didn't budge... he's been fishing there for years. When we caught our 10th fish we were on our way.

Fishing was fun.... most of all because it was some really good time with my Dad. Catching and reeling them in is fun too... but it is more than just that. Being out and away, spending time with Dad is a pretty good deal.

It has been a great visit with my parents. I am thankful to so many in our church who have prayed for them and me.

When I get back to the pulpit, I will produce a picture as proof that even this preacher can fish a little bit. It will be right after the para-sailing picture. Both of those will come as a shock to those that know me well.

In the meantime, may we all be about "fishing for men."


Sunday, July 09, 2006


I miss "my" church ( It's not "mine" but you know what I mean).

This morning I find my self in Pleasant Hill Oregon with my parents. We are getting ready to go to church, which I am looking forward to. They belong to a growing Christian Church that is making a difference in their community and even the world. I will be very proud to go to their church.

I like going to churches to hear different preachers, to see how they deal with some of the same problems that we face, and to experience some of the creative solutions that churches in different parts of the country come up with. So going to different churches is fun, and stimulating. I think it is important to do on a regular basis.

But I really miss "my" church. It has been 13 weeks since the stroke and 10 weeks since I started the sabbatical. In that time I have not been back to church services at FCC. I have been around, connected with some people, but I have not been in a service since April 17th.

What do I miss? Well, I miss the spirit of our church. It has always been a place of celebration and joy. Some churches I have been too have not. When that happens, I feel kind of let down. It makes me think about what visitors think about our church when they come. What kind of expectations do they have. ( We all have expectations). I miss the spirit of family as well. Our church, big as it is, is still a family. Lots of talk, hugs, prayer and interaction on all kinds of levels. I miss the worship. I have not found a church yet that has the passionate worship that our church has. Traditional or Contemporary matters less to me than ever. Excellence is important. Focus on God is essential. Connection with the Worship Leader, with the Praise team and with those around me, who know and love me is important as well.

I also miss the time with our staff. They are more than co-workers. That brief time when we pray every Sunday morning is something I have missed.

I miss the end of services when I go to the back and just shake hands. I don;t know how much of that I will be able to do in the future, but it feels so good to connect with people.

I miss not being able to worship next to my wife and kids. I love Pam's passionate worship. I love listenting to her beautiful voice, which exudes love and adoration for God. I love looking down the aisle and seeing my kids worshiping ( when they are in town...Abigail every week). They have gone with me to other churches on occassion. I have encouraged them to go to FCC, because I wanted their routine to be maintained. They have had alot to deal with and they needed their church family too. But when I come back ( In September), I will love preaching, love being back with my family, love the worship... and love being back home.

Back home.... it is not that long... and I am getting ready. In the coming weeks I will be visiting churches in California, Arizona, Texas, Kansas , and Oklahoma. It will be a good tour... I will learn alot. I think I will learn alot that will help our church.

But it won't be home...

P.S- I will be home from Oregon on July 13th. It has been a great visit with my parents... the time at the coast was awesome... Gave me some great time to think and pray.

But it will be so good to be home....

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday America.

It is July 4th! Our nation is celebrating its 230th birthday. I love our country. Today I find myself traveling across this great land ( I am writing from San Fransisco during a 2 hour layover). On the plane to Denver and then the one to SF, I noticed that there were lots of people flying, who look like they came from somewhere else. Two groups for sure were Mexican and Japanese. I wondered at one point if this day meant very much to them. Hopefully it does. To be able to live in a free country, where we can come and go, where we can worship, where we can work and make a great living... is a blessing. That blessing comes into focus even more when you read the accounts of so much of the world who live under the oppression of regimes that line their own pockets, live in luxury, but care little about the basic needs of their people.

Freedom is not free. We hear that all the time, but in this day, when we have 130,000 troops in Iraq, another 25,000 in Afganistan...and tens of thousands in other places, it really comes home. Even in our own church we have several loved ones who are serving on the edge of war, or right in the middle of it.

I read something on the plane that caught my attention. One person said, "We live in a country where we make things happen... not in a place that reacts to everything that happens." I know that the freedom that we have is due in large part to our leaders from long ago who took a risk, because they believed in what they were fighting for. I am glad that even today, when our country was attacked, our leaders did not sit back and say, "Well, We will wait and see what happens next." They took the fight to the enemy, even on foreign land.... Those 2500 soldiers that have died in Iraq, will not have died in vain. They fought to make the world a safer and better place, and to protect the freedoms that I have, which enable me to live in the greatest country in the world.

Happy Birthday America! Thank you God for the blessing of this great land, and for the courage of leaders and our military, who give of themselves so that we might have freedom in this land.

By the way, I am on my way to Oregon. I will spend about 4 days at the Coast, by myself... which I am looking forward too... Then 5 days with my parents and sister. Again, I am looking forward to that as well. This is a good time for me to really dig into some things personally, and to begin looking forward to my return to the pulpit this fall. Thanks to all of you who have prayed for me. I am getting better and stronger.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hitting the Road

This morning we are headed out of Florida. We are going to Nashville Tennessee for a day or so, and then on to Louisville Kentucky for the North American Christian Convention.

Florida has been incredible. Beyond the beauty, the waves, the sand and the sun, it has been such a renewal for me. I have read big chunks of scripture, finisheded 3 books, and spent alot of time with Pam. What a blessing on all three fronts! In some ways, I hate to leave the balcony that overlooks the ocean.

But as it is with everything in life, it is time to move on to another experience. God is teaching me that every day is a new adventure, with different experiences and opportunities along the way. It occurred to me yesterday that it is very possible that I had become "stale" on many fronts. I have been taking each day for granted, and not really searching for the beauty of each day as God has created it. Every day that God allows the sun to come up and to set is a new experience for us. Even God, who knows everything, must sit back and be amazed at how each day unfolds itself. ( Can God even amaze himself?)

I will check in later with more from Nashville and Lousiville. In the meantime, be faithful to God. And look under the rocks, behind the clouds, and around the corner. God might have a surprise waiting for you



Friday, June 23, 2006

Out of my comfort zone

It was very quiet this morning. The sea was hardly moving...still a little tide in and out, but it was the quietest I had seen it. Hardly no wind, not many people on the beach ( It was 7 AM)

I didn' know what that would mean for the Parasailing. If there was not enough wind, then we would have to wait. Maybe it was wishful thinking.... Parasailing is way outside my comfort zone. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a daredevil...I do not particularly like heights or not being in control. I don;t like rapelling, not a big fan of rollercoasters and the like.... I feel good with my feet attached to the ground.

Now, on this trip I have made significant progress on several fronts. Take driving for instance. 5 years ago, we came to Florida, and then on to Orlando, up to Kentucky and back to Owasso. Pam drove a total of 30 minutes. In Florida. I let her drive, but I could not take it... She is a good driver, I just like driving and being in control.

However, things are different now. Pam has done alot more driving around Tulsa, since my stroke. I just didn;t like the stress of it. So imagine Pam's surprise when we left Owasso last week, and I said, "you drive." She drove to Ft. Smith... ( 4 times longer than on the trip five years ago). I drove to Pine Bluff. And then she drove another 1 and half hours... The second day she drove about half way. For the most part I was a pretty good passenger. For the most part. I am getting better. I am sure that Pam might have something different to say, but she is seeing the progress.

Back to the Parasailing. Pam mentioned it early in the trip and I said, "Sure." Then I thought to myself, " What are you thinking... you know you will never want to do this." But I put it out of my mind. On Tuesday, I signed up, paid the money and we were scheduled for Friday. On the form we signed it said, "NO REFUNDS!" Not good news for someone who might want to back out. After all it cost more to Parasail than it does to feed 6 people at a nice resturant. So I was committed.

We got out on the boat, and I have to say that I was plotting a way to be the second group up in the air ( there were three couples on the boat). So imagine my paralyzing fear when the guy took our ticket first. Did he know that I was scared? It was probably all over my face.Pam? No fear there...she says, "Bring it on!" She has always been that way. I love that about her...except when it requires both of us... and then I think "How did we get together?" She is great.

So they strapped us in... My confidence was not bolstered when the Deck hand turned out to be the guy that runs the beach chairs outside our condo. He had been drafted, because the other deck hand quit. So it was his first day to get all the straps on us correctly and tell us what to do. He was also learning on the job about how to keep all the cords untangled, and how to tie the knots. The Captain of the boat made sure we understood that he was training this guy. I was not interested in being "trained on." But he did okay.

What a ride. Hooked in, and rising up in the air, above the boat.... 850 feet in the air. It was so still, peaceful and quiet. Pam was strapped in right in front of me, and she and I could talk just like we were in the living room. My knees were wrapped around her side, and I think on a couple of the dips and turned, I squeezed pretty hard. The wind was pretty calm, so it was a fairly easyride... I loved seeing the shoreline. One interesting this about the wind. Because it was so calm, the captain had to take us way out away from shore where there was more wind. We were a long ways out there.... dark blue ocean.... so beautiful. We got one dip into the ocean which was a treat. Then we were lifted up and eventually brought back to the boat. What a ride!

It was so fun... fun to do something that I thought to myself two years ago that I would never do. Fun to do something with Pam that she just really loves. Fun to see the power of God from that distance.

Pam said, " No wonder the Birds like to fly." It was pretty cool.

Out of my comfort zone....yes....But I am going to do more of those kinds of things. Not stupid things. but things that challenge me on different levels... and when I accomplish something like this, I feel good.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

From the balcony...

We have been in Florida for a week now....What a place. I love the ocean, and enjoy the beach... The ocean is amazingly consistent to me. Every few seconds the waves break and come toward the beach... never seems to fail. The tide goes in and the tide goes out... Each morning the water has been relatively calm, and during the day, as the winds pick up, so does the "chop"(as the locals call it). But it is still nothing like the coastal waters of Oregon. There is more power in the Pacific waters... The Carribean is more inviting. The waters invite me to come in, and I have done some swimming... We even have been out to the Sandbar... which was something the kids warned me about... after last years shark attacks. I am the fearless one! ( ha ha)

Tomorrow morning Pam and I are going Parasailing. Should be interesting. I am not the daredevil type. But maybe having a stroke has brought out a little of the "live life to the max" in me. I will never probably go crazy with it... however, I am trying to do a few different things. I am looking forward to it...alot.

This has been a great time of rejuvenation. The reality is that while I have had alot of time off these past 10 weeks or so, when we left town, I was able to relax in a different way. And that has continued... I feel very relaxed now... and for the first time, able to get away from the church, the stroke, the fact that I am not working right now, and just concentrate on God, me, and Pam. I have continued my walking and working out, and have added some wonderful sermons by Greg Nettle, and Mike Cope to my IPOD. Today I walked 8 miles ( two 4 mile walks). They were hot, but really good. Exercise has been a lifesaver in many ways. I have done my best thinking while putting one foot in front of the other. I have examined some of the things have led me to this point in my life, and I have made committments that I think will improve the quality of my life for the next 30 years. Spiritually it has been good. To hear messages from communicators who have taken thier craft so seriously... well it has been very revealing. And motivating for my future, if God allows.

The church this week confirmed the hiring of Mike Raburn as Business Manager. I am thrilled. Mike will be a Godsend for our church and for me personally. For the past 6 months he has served the church ( and me) in any way we needed... taking his time off and extra thinking time to be used by God at FCC. I will never be able to express what his support and efforts have met to me. It started at the beginning of the year when he said, "I am off on Tuesdays, I am coming in to help you... have something for me to do." There was no option in his voice.... Even though he had recently became an Elder, he still did that. He did not know that April 3rd would change my life forever... but he was prepared by God to step in and keep things moving. And he did.

I recently wrote the staff and Elders to give them an update, and I said to them, "You are my hero's" They are. Each of them, have picked up the slack...and taken on alot more than they ever thought they would. I could not be prouder of a group of men and women , than I am of each of them.

Clouds have overtaken the shoreline... and the sun is going down. Its a pretty awesome combination... The Heaven declare the Glory of God... and so do the sunsets....

More later...


Monday, June 12, 2006

On our way...

We are almost on our way to Florida. This was a vacation that we planned long before the stroke in April. I wasn't sure about going, but with the sabbatical, and available time off, it seemed right. My health is improving daily, and now, I really look forward to the trip!

Florida does a couple things for us. It combines my love for the ocean, with Pam's love for the beach. Having grown up in Oregon, I grew to enjoy the coast. But the Oregon coast is a bit different than the Florida coast. You go to the Oregon coast to enjoy the power of the Ocean, the beauty of the rugged coast, and the solitude. You go to the Florida coast to enjoy the white sand, make new friends, get out in the sun and play. When we go to the Florida coast, I still enjoy the power of the ocean... and pam enjoys the beach , the sun and and the sand.

It also allows us to really get away. I don;t call back to the office... I don;t really think about the church at all on this trip. This is a good thing...

We are in preparation mode. I have my "to do " list... and I am marking things off one by one. I had about 15 of those items today, and I have two of them done...so I have a ways to go.

Lydia and James came back from their honeymoon. They took their marriage license with them... which is a little problem since it is supposed to be filed within 5 days of the wedding. I had Helen mail it in today...sure hope the county clerk still accepts it. If not, then I guess we will do it again.

I am really indebted to a friend who has helped me with my computer. My laptop screen died, and after consulting several people I decided to buy a new one. This friend of mine, whose name is Ben, has helped me set up my wireless system at home, set up the new computer, and helped transfer the info from one unit to the other. He does it with such a joyful spirit. It is an example of what Max Lucado talks about in the book, " The Cure for the Common life" . He writes about the fact that God has made each of us with a "sweet spot." That is the place where you use your gifts and strengths, for God's glory and it brings you great joy. That is Ben. I always tell him thank you , and he always replies " It gives me a chance to serve." He also likes his preachers, and likes to spend time with him. The thing is that I like spending time with him. He is a thinker, and he challenges me in my thinking about life. God blessed me with him.

My "sweet spot" is preaching... that is why I miss it so much... however, I am becoming more and more aware of how being away from the pulpit is helping me live more in the "sweet spot."
It feels good. When I come back in September, I will be a better preacher.

One other thing... I was talking with my friend Dale at lunch today...Dale is an elder of the church , but more than that, he is a great friend. He is an encourager...positive thinker, and really smart. I think that Dale knows more about the Christian Church and its history and doctrine, than I will ever know... But I was talking with Dale, and I realized that this is a guy I can count on. I have always known that... but I left the lunch thinking what a great thing it is to have someone you can really count on...in good and bad times. It is a gift from God! It was a good reminder, one I needed...