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