Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Bittersweet Day

Today was bittersweet. It was "Groundbreaking Day" for First Christian Church. Because of my sabbatical, it was best that I not attend. When I show up at things right now, there is too much attention on me.... so I stay away. Groundbreaking was at 2:30 PM. It was a hot and windy day for the hundreds of people that showed up. But for me, it was a solitary moment. I went out at 10 AM, turned some dirt, walked the footprint of the building and then prayed. I guess it was hard because I remember when the land was given to us. 22 Acres just given to us, free and clear. That was amazing! So some 9 years later, God has seen fit to move, and we are on our way. I wanted to be a part of it so bad... but couldn't. But in spite of that, I am so proud to be a part of this church. There are many reasons, but one that stands out today, is the fact that when there was alot of pressure on us to move forward on the building, our Elders stayed to course seeking God and waiting for Him to open the door. It would have been so easy for them to just build a building. But God was building a church ( without walls). It has been worth the wait!

Tonight, I snuck into church services and listened to my future son in law ( 5 days away) preach.What a treat! He preached a very well crafted message with passion and joy. He shared his heart for the church and its unity. He gave us a glimpse into his soul. And he challenged us to do all that we can to maintain unity through the Spirit. I sat there and thought to myself, "Boy, he is way farther along than I was at that point in my life." He really preached well. He will do so well in the Ministry. And he is pretty blessed to have a wonderful girl at his side.( They say its not bragging when its fact). Lydia is top notch, all the way. Lydia will be awesome in whatever she does along side of him.

By the way, James also gave me a couple pieces of information that will come in handy at the wedding! Should be fun.

So a bittersweet day for sure. But honestly, this was a day that I wanted to pass... the disappointment of not being at the North Garnett sight was kind of looming large in my heart. God got me through it... And then he ended my day with a great encouragement.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My heart;Christ's home

April 18th was the day I started walking. It started out as a short ten minute walk, but has increased now to the point that I walk for 1 hour a day minimum. This has had several benefits. One, I get out of the house everyday... Outside is good for the cooped up soul. Two,walking is exercise. Allthough I have exercised over the years ( off and on), I can not think of a time when I found myself exercising every day for 35 days straight. But have done the walking everyday. Three, there has also been some very needed weight loss... It is amazing how , if you watch what you eat, and exercise, good things happen. It is slow, but it is effective.

I have alot of weight to lose. But I don;t worry about that. I am committed to a certain lifestyle, and I figure if I follow the lifestyle, over time the weight will take care of itself.

There has been another benefit. I have listened to great sermons. The IPOD is a great little tool for guys like me on a walk. John Ortberg is one of the best preachers for me. He takes me deeper... makes me think. He challenges some of the suppostions that I have built my life on. ( That is a good thing) He takes the life of Jesus and makes it come alive with history, and reality.

One series he did last year is a series based on Robert Munger's book My Heart- Christ's Home. The sermon series is powerful. The little book is explosive.

For instance, Munger talks about Christ coming into our heart. In John 14, we read that Jesus says that "He is going to go and prepare a place for us." We ( or least I) have always taken that to mean Heaven. And that is true. However, on the day of Pentecost, something unexpected happens. ( Jesus had warned the disciples that this would happen, but those guys....) The Holy Spirit showed up, and began indwelling people. As I read the opening pages of this little book, it occurred to me that Jesus really does prepare a place for us in heaven WHILE he is living in our hearts. Rev. 3:20 says "Behold I stand at the door and knock;If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him." I don't know how it works, how he can do both, but he does..

Doesn't that just blow you away? It does me. He takes up residence in us...IF we will invite him to do so.

The little booklet is a picture of the implications of that decision to let Him in. You might want to pick it up. It is worth the five dollars.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Additions to the family

In just over two weeks, our second daughter, Lydia is going to be married. James Summers is a really great young man. Some of the qualities that I treasure about him are his committment to God, his obvious and deep love for Lydia, his committment to work, and to the calling that God has placed on his life. James has a great respect for other people. He is kind and compassionate as well.

It has been an interesting process for me. Elizabeth married Nathaniel nearly two years ago. He has been a blessing to our family, and truly does seem to complete Elizabeth.

The same is true for James and Lydia. They just fit... God has blessed our girls with special people who really have brought out the best in them.

How does that happen? I am not positive that I know everything about the process, but I do know that one ingredient in the process has been prayer. Pam and I have prayed for many years that God would bring special people into their lives all along the way. Pam has been better about praying for the mates of our kids ( if that was meant to be). Our prayer has been simple. "God bring people to them who love you and will love them."

That is all that I have asked of Nathaniel and James... that they love God and love our girls. I will ask the same of anyone who gets serious with Abigail, and Joel. It is not too much to ask, and it certainly is not too much to pray for.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Two Great Women....

Today is Mother's Day. Everyone has a great story or two to tell about mothers. My mom is a hard working woman who has shown great love to her kids. Growing up, my mom had to endure moving nearly every year. I never knew what a sacrifice that was, until later in my life. The idea of setting up a house and trying to settle into a community, knowing that you may be there 1 year or maybe 18 months tops, would be really tough. Because of my dad's work, that was the life we lived well into my high school years. It was an adventure, I was no worse for the wear because of it... maybe even better well rounded because of the experiences of moving on a regular basis. For me it was a pretty good deal.

But for a mom, I imagine that it brought some stresses that I wouldn't ven understand today. Onr of the main points of a Mom's job description is the provision of stability in a home. Mom's are rocks... they are there... and even when everything else around the family is swirling, mothers are the ones that everyone can count on. I love the picture of the mom in the movie "The Contender". She is the stability while her husband chases his dream of a championship, and even later when he is doing all he can to earn some money for his family in hard times... Where would that family be without their mother?

My mom was there for me. Life was pretty wild at times, but she was there... and for that I am thankful.

I am married to a great woman. Pam is an awesome wife... who loves me unconditionally. But she is also an amazing mother. . Pam provides that same kind of stability... in ministry, the demands are great. The expectations of church and community members can sometimes overwhelm a family. But our family has never been overwhelmed, in part because Pam is such a good mother. She talks to the kids, listens to the kids, supports the kids and loves them. And all of that while being an awesome wife who supports, listens and talks with me. The stability that she provides for our family is PRICELESS. And it is all done with love and lots of fun. ( ask one of the kids about Pam's laugh....or "cackle" as I call it)

I Blessed! My mom is a great person who loves her son. I am not sure that there needs to be much more said than that...

I blessed twice over! To marry a person like Pam... who loves her God, her husband and her children like she does... it is a bit overwhelming...

God sure knows how to let me know he loves me... two women in my life are a constant reminder.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Our Son, Joel, is a senior at Oklahoma State University. He is home for a few weeks, before he takes off on his summer adventure, which is coaching kids at a camp in Maine. Joel has always had a heart for kids. For years as he was growing up as a preacher's kid, he had room in his life for some of the younger kids in the church. Kids look up to him. And he genuinely enjoys them.

But for now, I am enjoying getting to spend some time with him. I had the idea that we could build a 13x27 deck on the back of the house for 500.00 or so. Boy, was I mistaken. Joel and I went to Lowes and had them do an estimate and it came up to 2600.00! A little out of my budget! I think it can be done cheaper, but who knows if I can get it down to 500 bucks.

It was really nice to spend the time with Joel, looking at options and trying to figure out what we can do.

When your only Son turns 21 , and has been out of the house for three years, you kind of wonder if you will be able to re-connect. But we are and it is fun!

We have three daughters, each of them unique and wonderful at the same time. I will talk more about them later.... so stay tuned.

By the way, today I was able to go to the club and "workout". Boy that felt good! I did not push it, mainly because the dr. says, "Don;t push it.." But I did sweat a bit, and stretch some muscles.

With the Sabbatical, I really have no excuse for not exercising every day....I am excited to see what I look like in four months... Watch out world, here I come!

One last thing today... Yesterday the Sabbatical was announced at church. i wondered what the respnse would be. You just never know.... but it has been overwhelmingly postive. I serve a great church, with great people.

Thank you God !

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Psalm 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd.." Jesus is a great shepherd...if we will let him be that to us.

He also gives us other shepherds... In our church tradition they are call Elders.

"Be shepherds of God's flock, that is under your care, severing as overseeers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be...." ( I Peter 5:2)

I serve with an awesome group of Shepherds. We have shared many moments together. Moments that were exhiliarating.. and moments that were difficult. They do not make decisions on the fly, but have always been more willing to wait and seek the wisdom of the Spirit through prayer.

For the 11 years I have served First Christian Church, I have always felt that the Elders were my shepherds too. I have never felt like I was a slave to them. They have always been genuinely concerned about me and my family. This has been true through both the ups and downs of ministry.

Last night Pam and I met with the Elders and discussed my health and immediate future. Because of the uncertain nature regarding the length of my recovery, they offered me a Sabbatical. I can honestly say that at first, I was against the idea. I want to be back full strength, preaching and leading. Sitting on the sidelines for 4 months seems impossible to me, but I am learning that Good Shepherds think in the long term... and mine are doing that.

I think this time will be good, if I totally disengage, and allow God to work in me. That is the trick... But, I am willing... I know I won't do everything right, but I am determined to redeem the time in a positive manner.

This is possible because of true shepherds who have loved me. It is possible because of a staff that is capable and dedicated. And it is possible because I have people, including my family who will stand behind me...

I think I have much to enjoy and learn in this time. Thanks to each of the shepherds of my life who care enough to give me the time...

Monday, May 01, 2006


I am finding that walking is really good for you. I have never been a big walker....too slow and redundant for me. But in this quiet time, I have found walking to be a good time to think and pray. These walks have turned into good times to process my day, and to give it to God.

God gave me a place to walk, right next to my house. There is a 3 mile trail within 50 yards of my house. I have no excuse... So for the last 14 days I have walked. It gets me out of the house.
There is nothing special about the pace. But it is not about how fast, but just the fact that I do it.

It's a great habit for the next 25 years...Physically and spiritually.

So, If you come by, and the car is there, but I am not... just figure that I am out "walking around."