Friday, December 28, 2007


One of the things God is teaching me is the importance "clarity." When it comes to expectations, I think I am rather ambiguous.( As Pam would say "You think?!!!) I leave alot open to interpretation, instead of clearly spelling out what it is I expect.

This can be illustrated a dozen different ways. At home, I figure that after almost 27 years of marriage I should not have to explain myself. But then it occurs to me that I am not the same person I was 27 years ago, so how would Pam know what my expectations are?

Our kids are all grown, and pretty much out of the house. But I still think they should be able to predict what I want and execute it. (Those are not nice words in a family setting are they?)

At church, I am finding that I enslave fellow staff members to my feelings, because of a lack of clarity. Instead of me telling them exactly what I think, I hedge, or give options that sometimes are polar opposites of each other. I used to think that this was all good, because it builds teamwork. But as time goes on I believe that it really does just the opposite. It harms unity, and it opens us up to disappointment. I don't want that.

A conversation I had with a member of the church really brought this home. They had an idea about how to spend some money. It is a good idea... maybe even a really good idea. But I could not commit to it without some planning, talking to Elders and praying about it. But as the conversation went, I had a hard time saying it. Maybe it was because I wanted them to give the money. Maybe it was because I wanted them to give the money with no "ideas" attached. I know their heart and it is a heart that is so good. But eventually, I got around to sending a note to them explaining that I could not commit to their idea,( although I think it has exciting possibilities) and then followed that up with a phone call. And after it was over I thought, "Why couldn't have I been more clear with them about it upfront?" I was conflicted and found myself bouncing around on the subject. And that was not fair to them, or to myself.

Most of the time, my first instincts are pretty good. But I don't want to hurt someone's feelings. I want their approval. John Ortberg wrote a pretty good article entitled, "Approval Addiction" which I am trying to take to heart. (More about that another time).

Seems like Jesus said something about wanting the praise of men rather than the approval of God. ( John 12:43). I find myself thinking "What did they think about that?" without much regard to "What does HE think about that."

Soooooooo....I think the New year holds a "resolution" or maybe more like a goal ( certainly a prayer request). I want to be more clear with others about what I expect and feel. Then I can let the chips fall where they may. I think doing this will help my relationships at work, and at home.

2008 is around the corner... and I find myself thinking, " what will it all be like?" One thing that I would like to see in the next 12 months is a some growth in this area of my life.

If you want to pray about something specific for me.... Clarity would be a good start.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 07

MERRY CHRISTMAS! We celebrated Christmas last night at church with our traditional Christmas Eve Services. We had two, one that was overflowing and one that was about 60 of seating capacity... It was a great service....simple and a really good balance of young and old. It just seemed right this year all the way around... I especially liked us getting the young kids on the stage to hear THE STORY. Aaron(our children's minister) did a great job with that.

Someone said "Next year, we will only have one service, right?" I said, "No way... we will need too." Our new building on North Garnett is about 30-45 days from being done..and there will be twice the seating capacity... but new people will come, and I pray that we will be overflowing in both services as we strive to tell people about Christ and the real meaning of Christmas.

With Nathaniel and Lizzie in town, we ate dinner and then opened gifts. I was pretty wiped out from 4 services in 36 hours, but managed to stay in the game for the evening. This time next year it will be Christmas with a grandchild. How cool is that! They will be fabulous parents... Their world is about to be rocked big time... what fun! I am thankful that they are close to us ( 100 miles.)

We miss James and Lydia, but know that God is blessing them in Joliet. It helps knowing that they are serving Christ there, making a difference with so many people. We hear that they are such a blessing to many. The Crossroads Church is doing so well, and the leadership of Matt and Janice ( James' brother and sister in law) and James and Lydia has been so influential on many people.

It is hard to be away... and this Christmas it double tough for them . It is the first "away" Christmas for both of them, along with dealing with the death of James' mother at Thanksgiving. However, Vicki gets a front row seat at the throne of Jesus this Christmas. She is praising God, hands raised, probably doing a little dance along the way... The kids have done so well through this... their character has shined through in a such a good way through this time.

Today... well I am playing my new Eagles album. WOW! what great stuff... We are getting ready for dinner and then Liz and Nathaniel will head back to Fayetteville.

It is has been really good having Joel and Abigial here as well... I love all our kids and what they bring to our lives in a special way. Abigail just finished her first semester at Ozark. I will brag a bit. She finished the semester with a 3.56 GPA, and that was on top of playing College Volleyball. The best part? She loves her classes and I can see how God is shaping her more and more into a Godly woman.
I am so happy for her. Where did my little Abigail go?

Joel is still on the job search. This has been a real patience building time for him. He is closing in on something that he is really excited about. He should know the end of the next week. Pray for him... and for his continued trust in God to provide for him. He has been working about 25 hours a week at the club and doing a bang up job there. They will hate to lose him there. What a great kid. ( He is not a kid anymore... :)

On top of all that is a special gift that came to our friends Danny and Pam Stout. Danny has been on the list for a liver tansplant for several years. Along the way, he has really battled for his health. Earlier this week he found out he was up to #3on the list. Then on Christmas Eve he moved to #1. Last night Pam and I prayed with Matt and Steph ( Danny's Daughter) that God would provide in his time. Less than 20 minutes later Danny got the call from OKC. "Be there in 4 hours!" And they were off... He went into surgery at 3 or so this morning and as of 10, he was out, with a functioning liver!

What a Christmas gift!!!! I know it is bittersweet, because there is another family on the other end who is probably struggling with the loss of a loved one on Christmas. So we pray for them although we probably will never know who that is.

We are so thankful for Christ, and his willing sacrifice for us. And we celebrate his sacrifice all year long. What a blessing!

Hope you had a wonderful time with your family this Christmas. And I hope that deep in your soul you know that you are loved by a God who is Creator, and a Savior who willingly came to pay the price for your sins... at just the right time.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Some Saturday Morning Thoughts

Here are some "wierd" things running through my mind. These all give me pause to take moment and give it a second thought.

Steroids....I see why men and women would fill their body with illegal drugs to gain a competitive edge. The money...bottom line it is about the money.

I see why newspapers like the LA Times would say that a certain federal indictment includes the names of Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens. Money... plain and simple.. outside of Barry Bonds, there was one other name out there that would make money. Roger Clemens.

I see why people think it could be true. in '96 his team says he is washed up, on the downside and they refuse to resign him to a huge contract. So he signs with Toronto, and then goes on to win multiple Cy Youngs, another 160 games, pitch for the Yankees ( No way!) and is considered a medical and physiological marvel. Certain Hall of Famer! And then the Mitchell report comes out with Roger Clemens in it.

What I don't get is that the Mitchell report was not a criminal investigation. He had some powers that I would not have, but from my perspective it seems that what Sen. Mitchell did was ask alot of questions, gather information from a couple informants who are marginal at best and then wrote a 400 page plus report, naming names.

The problem? No evidence or proof. No checks in the Mitchell report from Roger Clemens. No cooborating evidence from others. Just hearsay. And with that comes all the doubt, the insinuations and the assumptions that because he was so good at the end of his career, it must been because of needles and pills pushed and popped at just the right time ( give him muscles and to avoid detection)

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a Red Sox Fan since 1967. That makes me a Roger Clemens fan. I don't really follow or care about baseball except for the Red Sox. ( Which makes 2 out of the last 4 years pretty good). But I have loved the Red Sox. I wear a Red Sox hat every day when I work out. I have a little ten year old boy whose dad works at the place I work out, who comes in and wants to talk Red Sox everyday. I am his best friend, because I know who is hitting the ball, whose not, and what kind of wierd mood Manny Rameriz is in. And I have paid attention to Roger Clemens, no matter where he pitches, even when he is pitching for the Yankees!UGH!

So here is my problem. The mere mention of his name in the Mitchell report has sullied his name forever. If he is guilty of the crime, then he should come out and say so, and let us deal with it. But he has come out and said, "No way,ever.!" Whose to say? I don't know.

But here is what I do know... If someone, anyone, accuses me of immorality, or inappropriate action toward someone else, especially a woman or a child, true or not, I am pretty much done. It would not take proof. It would not take evidence. It would just take the statement, said at the right place and the right time. And it is not just me. Teachers, coaches,Doctors, Dentists, business ownwers and a boat load of other professions face the same kinds of things. It is the reality.

What can I do?( or anyone else). Well, make sure you live a consistent life that reflects the values of Christ in every way. Make sure you do not put yourself in obvious situations that might cause someone to "think" they see something.

And leave it in the hands of God. I don't know if Clemens is doing that or not ( He has been pretty quiet, but his lawyer is making alot of threats about lawsuits). If it happens to you or me, we won't have a 28 million dollar a year contract to fall back on, or high priced lawyers.

But do have God, and those who know us well and know this world well. I will take my chances with him.

It may be that I am being "snowed" by the only baseball player I have really followed closely... but it may be that what he says is the truth.

Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty?" In the days of internet , tabloid journalism, Senate committee hearings and GREED, that statement seems strangely distant from the public eye.

Well, that is the rant of the day.

One other thing on my mind... after two weekens of Ice/Snow and more snow due today.

Here it is....

"Why does God plan snow and ice on Saturdays and Saturday nights?"

Hmmmmmmn...something only a preacher or a teacher would give a second thought to. Guess that is why the do not ask me to "play God" in the play.

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ice and Snow

Ice storms are no fun.

Last Sunday night the freezing rain started pelting NE Oklahoma. At the time, I think we all thought it would pass. In the middle of the night the cracking and breaking of limbs began. That grew into total destruction of many trees in the area.

We live next to Centennial Park,which is full of large older trees. The sound of trees breaking under the weight of ice is erie. Fortunately we have just one young tree in our front yard, so the damage to our property was minimal. However,many in our community and church were not so fortunate.

Then the power went out. 4 days later there are still nearly 200,000 people who have no power. Most of Owasso was knocked out, especially in the older part of the town. We were blessed. Ours was out 10 hours. At first it seemed inconvienent, but as I have seen others go through days of no power, we got off pretty good.

Our church became a shelter on Monday Morning. Our Staff has done a superb job in organzing and directing the shelter. We did not know what we were doing, but with the leadership skills of our team, we have managed to help well over 100 people. We have had alot of help from church members as well. We have good hearted people who want to serve. What a blessing

Now, we have word that a snowstorm is approaching. It could be heavy, but this is Oklahoma, and it seems after living here for 25 years, Weather experts in Oklahoma rarely know how to forecast snow.

Should be interesting.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

On my mind...

One of the fun things I have done this fall has been the Leadership class that I have been leading on Wednesday nights. We took a different route than in the past with reading a couple books together (Lead Like Jesus and The Resilient Life). Abotu 25 guys have stayed with it in the class since the first of September. The discussion has been challenging to me. Good for me to listen to the hearts of men.

I am not sure where it will go from here, as this Wednesday night is our last group meeting. But I am hoping that some small groups will evolve out of this that can be an ongoing discipleship opportunity for the men in our church.

Today's services seemed much more alive than the past few weeks. That is encouraging. October and Nov. have produced some 'flat' spots , but hopefully today is an indication that we are ramping up again.

People are ready for the building to get done... Probably still 60 days from occupying, but alot is happening. The work is accerlating for sure. There are still lots of questions about what we are doing once we occupy. I am glad that God is in control. And I am thankful for the staff of the church, which carries on, inspite of some the uncertainty.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Birth Announcement

The announcement of the upcoming birth of a baby can be a life changing event. Think about what we read in Luke 1.

It begins with Gabriel sharing the good news with Zecharaih. Zechariah was old, he had prayed along side his wife for years that a baby would come into their lives. It seems that the time had passed. And then The Angel shows up and says, "Guess what?!!!!"

Zechariah had a hard time believing this news... and so The Angel said, "How about you listen for 9 months, and I will get back to you?" Of course we know how that story turned out. John the Baptist was born..and life was never the same.

The Gabriel goes to the virgin Mary...That must have been a very interesting assignment for Him. "Hmmmmmnnnn.. I wonder how this is going to go over?"

We know the rest of that story too.. Jesus, the Son of God was born.... and life will never be the same.

Both birth announcements were part of a grander plan in which God placed two people, one completely human and one who was both human and divine, on the earth to change things...

As far as I know, an angel did not appear to my daughter Elizabeth recently... but she does find herself "with child." Its pretty exciting... knowing that this child has the opportunity to change the world for God. Elizabeth and Nathaniel will make great parents.

Oh, by the way, there was no "You've got to be kidding me" from Charlie. So sermons will continue for the next 6 months... and I will get more and more excied to see who God brings in to my life... in the form of a little baby. Pretty exciting stuff.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Get out of the way

It is late on Monday night. Today, in between a couple meetings, I have spent time at the hospital ministering to a family who is suffering. This morning, I talked with the husband at length as he tries to get his arms around the fact that his wife's health is suddenly failing, and there seems to be little or nothing he can do about it. It truly is a situation where she is in God's hands... He knows it, and he has been incredibly strong and tender at the same time. I don't know if I would be that way or not. But his heart has no anger, just a combination of sorrow and gratefulness for 33 years of marriage. Strength and Tenderness... qualities that only could come through the love of God. Tom has that.

Tonight, I went back. I took Pam with me. Over the years she has not done alot of this with me, in large part because she has had a job that she was not always able to break away from, and four kids who needed her attention. But now that we are semi "empty-nesters", she has been getting out more and connecting with people in need in a more visible way. I love this new stage of life from this perspective. I have NEVER been disappointed with her, when she enters into ministry in this way. Tonight was no exception. She brings a calming influence, a spiritual strength, an encouraging lift, and a peaceful look. Later in the evening, I was running out of gas and feeling it. So I came home, but Pam stayed.

What was interesting to me was the combination that God brought to the situation. For during the time we were there Nancy came by. Nancy is a Cancer Care Nurse that looks at what she does as a calling... a ministry... She waited till her kids were out of the house, and then heard a call from God to step out on faith and go back to school. Her purpose in life is to glorify God by helping people in these very difficult situations like cancer. She said to me, " It is an honor to help someone through this into the presence of Jesus." I had never really thought of it that way before.

I watched Nancy and Pam work side by side to comfort and strengthen the family. And I realized that even though I am the "preacher", they were bringing something that I could not bring. I can't put my finger on it, but I knew that when I left them with the family, that it would be not only okay, but better.

It reminds me that God gifts his children with special abilities that can not always be predicted. It can not always be coached. It can not always be understood. He just does stuff like this to show that He will use anyone who is willing, at any time and any where. I like that about God. No seminary degree was needed tonight. No resumes. No special doctrinal statements. Just words of faith. Just reminders that Jesus died for people so that when we face the moment of death, there is a way to God. There was no special choir , except for the family members that sang " When we all get to Heaven." and "I can only imagine." There was little in the way of chatter... some tears...but really tears of hope and joy...mixed with some sorrow and pain. There was scripture, and hope, encouragement to her that it was all okay... and when she saw Jesus, she could go.

Its just the thing God specializes in... For he knew from the Garden on that all human being would face a physical death. And in His Grace, he uses people , sometimes surprising people, sometimes suprised people, to bring just the right word, the right touch, the right song, and the right kind of joy to such a situation like this. And In His grace, he provided his Son... whose sacrifice was exactly what we needed for a time like this.

That is a combination that can't be beat....

And to think... no one even asked the preacher if it was okay 0:).He just brought the two ladies together and said to me, "Get out of the way."

I love God for that.

Catching up

Has it really been a month since I last posted? Lots of stuff happening... Let's see... where do I start???

Well, how about some good news? Our oldest daughter Elizabeth is pregnant!!!! How about that! She is 12 weeks along. So that puts her "due" date around June 1. This is going to be great fun. We already have the pics of the baby at 11 weeks (They are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!) Lizzie and Nathaniel will make great parents... although I have told them that they are in for the ride of their lives!

Our church building continues its progress toward completion. Here is a big surprise for you construction buffs... the completion date keeps moving! Oh well, I am thankful that God has worked it out where there is not a real strong pressure to move out of our current building... so it can be done right and we can watch God work his timing in all of this ( That is the big lesson for the whole project.) So when are we moving you ask? Stay tuned.

We have had to make some major decisions in the past month, many with great pain and angst. The biggest one in my mind has been the decision of the Elders to close Our Little Saints Preschool at the end of this coming school year. This preschool has been such a huge part of our community and church for 28 years. Building restrictions in Phase I have limited what we can do in a "weekday" situation. So with that we have had to take it as God's leading and begin to look at new ways to minister. But that does not minimize the pain that such changes create. So we are trying to be sensitive to how God is working here.

There is alot of change going on here. But I am so proud of our Staff, Elders and congregation who have kept the big picture in mind and see the opporutnities ahead, even though they are requiring alot of different directions and programming.

I just got back from Oregon where I found my parents doing relatively well. I love being around them and watching as they compensate for each other and struggle together through increasing health difficulties. They have big decisions to make in the coming months... so pray for them.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving... We had our Thanksgiving banquet last night and it was PACKED OUT. Great food, entertainment and lots of laughter.

I hope that you have occassion this week to take some time and think about your blessings. I know that Pam and I have done that and will continue to do so, as our family grows... and as we experience both the ups and downs of life. The best blessing? Well, its that no matter what comes our way, we are not alone. I take great comfort in knowing that God is my refuge... and my strength.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rainy days and Mondays

Mondays are not usually a preacher's friend. I heard a well known preacher once say that he had a rule..."Never write a resignation letter on a Monday." The afterglow of Sunday ( good or bad) can sometimes influence decisions on Monday. I usually try to limit the "big stuff" on Mondays... just in case I am little foggy.( No resignation letter here)

Due to fall break , and I suppose other factors, Sunday's church attendance was not stellar. However, it was a tremendous service. We dedicated the entire 75 minutes to what Christ is doing through a missions team from FCC and missionaries in Honduras by the name of Jim and Teri Riley.

We had alot of video elements,a powerful drama , an internet conference call with Jim Riley and more in the service. That all sounds good, but the potential is there for any one element to not come off well.

Well yesterday it all went well. Each piece seemed to fit with the rest, all the technology was effective, and the spirit of the services was so positive. So many had a huge part in it... I can't really name them all.

The best response came aftewards when a woman came up to me with tears streaming down her face. She said, "I need to know where I can sign up to go on a missions trip... I have to do this." I hugged her, told her who to talk to and she thanked me.

Last evening I had another note from a couple who thanked us for the service and the part that we all do to bring the Kingdom of God alive.

It was a good day... A great day. And it goes to show you ( and me ) that the numbers do not always tell the whole story.

Even though it is rainy today, and is a Monday... it is still a good day

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Face Down"

Many of you know that my Dad has had a real struggle with his eyes. Macular Degeneration is a difficult disease to contain, and his journey with this has been up and down.

At some points in the past year, the news has been good... stabilization and improvement. But other times, it has not been so good. Last week, his left eye completely went blind.

This week he had a procedure done which brings about the possibility of some restoration. It involved putting a gas bubble into his eye, which might push some of the blood clots aside, enabling his eyesight to improve.

What makes this particularly difficult is that as a part of the recovery he is supposed to spend 23 out of the 24 hours a day "face down." Think about that for a second. To give this bubble its greatest chance, he has to spend almost every waking moment and every sleeping moment on his face.

I really can't imagine that. My Mom and Dad are trying to take advantage of some technology that will enable him to sleep, sit, and even watch some TV ( although that is limited because of the lack of eyesight), but this still has to be a very difficult situation.

I was praying for them this morning and couple thoughts came to mind...

* This is what growing older is about. Body parts wear out. Things don't work as well as they used to... and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. You can't stop it, stall it , or suppress it... It just happens.

* This is why we all have to live as though this life is not all there is. My parents are Christians. They love God, and they love their church. Their faith is in Christ... and although they both have had fairly long lives and lots of blessings, they totally understand that "this is not all there is." Heaven awaits, and in heaven there will be no more tears, sorrow, or death. (and there will be no eyesight maladies....) Whatever Dad is not able to gain back here, he will have in full living color in heaven.

* Sometimes you try things that are really difficult to handle. I thought.."Three weeks face down..." Could I do that? I love my Dad and Mom's attitude. It is going to be hard... really hard, but you do what you have to do. If this gives him some eyesight back, it is worth it.

* Last, I realized that my parents are teaching me some of life's greatest lessons in the late years of their lives. The lessons about resilence, faith, perseverance, and doing the right thing are life lessons that I need reminders on. These lessons that they are living out are treasures to me.

2007 has not been an easy year for them. You could make the case that it has been one of the toughest... but they keep plugging away. They have not given up. They look to God for strength and peace. And they are quick to run to each other's aid, no matter the cost.

I would ask you to pray for mom and dad. They really need those prayers right now.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A different kind of Sunday

Today, I took a Sunday off. Part of the plan for my return from the stroke was that I would limit the long run of preaching which I had been doing in the past.Six to 8 weeks in a row seems to be the limit right now. So, this was a day when I sat back and became a congregational member.

I went to two churches. I attended a downtown Tulsa Church at 8:30. It is always nice to viist, see how some people do things differently. The preacher is one of my favorites... he makes me think and challenges my way of preaching in some very real ways. His messages fill my soul. I am convinced that regular exposure to good preaching is vital to good preaching on my part. And there is something about hearing it in person in the context of the church, not just on the tapes or CD's .

Then I came back to FCC. I sat in the back with Pam and Joel, which was intersting. Some observations....

One, We have some sound problems. I can see how people don't want to sing, because it really does feel like you are the only one singing. So people don;t sing.

Two, people don't know exactly what to do with me when I show up and I am not preaching. Some were making assumptions that I was not well, which was not the case. Others thought that maybe I have had a set back on the health front. That is not the case. Still others took the opportunity to "talk business."

Its pretty hard to be a regular member when you are the preacher. But I also appreciate their concern and confidence. One thing I do have is a small group who allow me to be me, not the preacher.... what a blessing.

Three, Matt Thomason is good preacher... I like his heart.

It was a good day... different for sure,but good.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Interesting question...

I had a friend ask me if I would ever follow the lead of a church out east which had a series entitled, "Our Rotten Sex Life...." The question got me to thinking and doing a little dashing around the internet.

Some observations....

One, several churches have done this. There efforts have garnered some churches nationwide media attention, some have apparently not. Not all of it has been positive. ( but is that what we are looking for?)

Two, my opinion is that it is a good thing to talk about what the Bible talks about. ( Sex is in the Bible, its a gift from God. Its a good thing when done in the right place, with the right person, and with righ motives.)

Three, Squash is still squash to me. My parents love squash. I have never liked it and avoid it at almost all cost. You can cook it, bake, it, bar-be-que it. You can fry it, drown it in butter, or brown sugar... I will not eat it. ( Please, no attempts to change my mind here... It is what it is to me.)

In this case, I am not interested in judging motives... Some will say that such a "marketing" effort is wrong, innappropriate and insensitive. Others will say, " Go for it, More power to you, way to be on the cutting edge."

I figure that if I am going to make a decision about what is good in this case, I ought to at least listen to the messages.

No matter what the outside looks like to me, I am interested in content... Sometimes our efforts can cloud the content. We need to be careful.

Four, In our attempts to be relevant, we all need to be careful that we do not take away from the real message. I did not say, "Do not be relevant." It just seems to me like some discretion is a good thing here.

What may work on the coasts, may not work here. God himself will judge the fruit of such efforts. I am thankful that God is able to use all efforts to share his Word to change people. That is what makes it fun to be in Owasso. There are lots of churches, doing great things, with many different approaches. I am glad that not all churches are not like the one I help lead... Many preachers and churches preach the Word. They just come at it a little different than me.

My calling is to preach the Word in the location I live in. Some like the effort, some don't don't. Some like the packaging, some don't. But my goal is that when people finish listening they will know more of the Word, and the Word will change them. ( Content and application)

I will leave the judging to Him.

So to answer his question... "Probably not..." It's not me.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Catching up

I am back!!!! I don't know if that is good news, or if it should constitute a warning.

Blogging takes time and brain power..neither of which I seem to have alot of. But today, I have a litte of both, so I am going to catch you up a bit.

Health- GOOD! The blood clots have cleared up and the tests seem to be encouraging. More scans in 8 weeks, and go from there. My energy level is up and down, which I am learning to accept and manage. The foggy feeling I have comes and goes. It seems to be related to stress and energy...It is not overwhelming like it used to be. I keep being reminded that the Dr's said, "This is a 2-3 year process" Its been 18 months.

Church- On the one hand it is really good. The people are amazing, encouraging and challenging. I could never imagine a better group of people. On the other hand, it is a real challenge. With the building on North Garnett coming along, we are knee deep in transition planning. ( kind of feels like quicksand) It is like going into a tunnel and seeing a bright light come right at you. ( Yup... that is a train!) This whole process has given new meaning to the "tunnel of chaos." But we have a good staff team and building team. I ask lots of questions and keep saying, "We need to be creative problem solvers." That is good advice, but I sometimes fall into the mode of "Let's sovle the problem" rather than, "Lets pray about this and see how God solves the problem."

Family- All are good. Pam has been going to lots of Volleyball, and I have been tagging along. I enjoy watching Abigial play, and she is really good! Joel is living here while looking for a job in his chosen career field. Lizzie and Nathaniel are gearing up for basketball, which means he is coaching 6 days a week. Lydia and James had a great launch at their church in Joliet Ill. She is doing pretty well.

What have I learned in the past 6 weeks? Good question. I have learned that I am predisposed to say "yes" to almost every request and I have to change. I have learned that what I think I am saying to people is not neccesarily what they always hear.( Especially true when people have requests or demands...) I have learned that with me looking better, people assume I am back to normal and I am not. As a matter of fact, there is a new normal, which I am not even sure about. I have learned that if I don't take the time to replenish my soul, my heart shrivels up. ( Nothing new there... but I need the reminder). I have learned that the future is bright in God's kingdom, but that I ought to enjoy it more, worry less, slow down even more than I am and work better, not neccesarily harder.

I am reading alot more. Good books on the shelf include, "The Big Idea" by Dave Ferguson, "The Truth War" by John McArthur, "The Simple Church" by Thom Rainier, and "Communicating for Change" by Andy Stanley.

Oh, I have noticed something else... I read too much "Church stuff". I am branching out into some fiction ( Pam brought home "Playing for Pizza" by Grisham), a biography or two and see if I can broaden my horizons.

I want to promise that it will not be 6 weeks between posts again...but I can't. My supsicion is that I will pick it up.



Saturday, September 01, 2007

Its a winner

My Parents have had a tough year. Health issues seem to be pretty much on the march in their lives. Add to that some significant stress from other corners of their lives, and they can be quite stressed like days.

I am very proud of them. They are good people who want to do good by everyone. They love their family,and they love the people in their community, and church.

Dad loves to paint. The picture below is one that he finished last spring , before the worst of his eye sight failure. So this is one to be proud of.

It is picuture that my dad took while he was in the Army. He has had the photgraph for decades, and just now decided to tackle it.

It won First Place at the Lane County Fair...Which is a big deal

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Good times.... tough times

I find the three accounts of Jesus being baptized very interesting. Matthew 3 makes it clear that Jesus sought out John to be baptized. Why? "To fulfill all righteousness." Some people refuse to be baptized for various reasons. But boil it all down to one statement and it seems to me that if Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, certainly we should be too.

We want to split hairs on the various aspects of baptism which distracts from the beautiful picture it is. Paul wrote that baptism is a picture of the death, burial and Resurrection. Any believer should find it an honor to participate in those three things ( in a symbolic way.)

Mark talk about Jesus baptism and combines it with the temptation in the desert. Mark 11:1 states that God declared, "You are my son, whim I love, with you I am well pleased." Is that not what any son wants to hear from his Father, even Jesus?

The next words in Mark 1:12 are stunning. "At one the Spirit sent out into the desert and he was in the desert 40 days being tempted by Satan."

Wow- that is some "initiation" after the baptism. "At once." No press conference, no book writing for Jesus, or a book tour. No appearances on Television shows. He hears the wonderful blessing of his father and then is sent into isolation, starvation and temptation.

I find that people who are baptized just because they want to know "whats in it for me" really struggle when a period of testing and trial come their way. They can not understand why God would allow such things to happen, especially since they had gone to all the trouble to put on a robe and get in water and be immersed. They can not understand because they have a warped view of the Christian life. It still is "all about me." Sometimes it is the very testing that they hate which shapes me to thinking more about God than themselves.

The Christian Life is full of thorns.Ask Jesus, the disciples, Stephen and others who suffered for their faith. There was nothing easy about the path they chose to follow. Why should we think it would be any different for us? The Christian Life is built around statements like, "deny your self", "take up your cross daily", "the first shall be last and the last shall be first. "Love one another" takes the place of "love yourself." "Be the servant of all" replaces "look out for #1". The list could go on.

The Christian Life is a journey. And there is one goal. Here is the surprise for most. The goal is not to get to Heaven. We have declared that the goal! We talk about it, dream about it, pray about it. But the goal is simply to be "transformed into the likeness of Christ." ( Romans 8:29-- "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.") I believe Heaven is the prize at the end of the process. But God desires more for us than just getting into heaven. He wants us to be used by him to be kingdom bringers in this world. And that comes through the process of being conformed into Christ's image.

That process of being conformed to the likeness of His Son is a long one. It is not one you can just pop a pill and wake up being like Jesus. It is a process of shaping, forming, re-forming and re-shaping. It truly is a two steps forward and one step back process.

Jesus provides us with clear understanding of this when he obeys the Spirit and goes into the desert. I am not saying that his Deity was formed in the desert. He was God in the flesh from the beginning of his life on earth. But I am saying that he sends a subtle message to all of us.... "When you go through periods of trial and testing, remember that I did too, right on the heels of on of the greatest moments of my earthly life."

Jesus was successful in navigating those 40 days. You can navigate tough times in your life too. The blessings of God you have received will carry you through.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First day of school

As I was walking the morning, a sudden thought came over me. Today, being the first day of school in Owasso, is also the first time in 19 years that Pam and I do not have a child going to public school. That is kind of a wierd thought. We know that life moves on, but it sure seems like it picks up speed too.

I was reflecting about this out on the street this morning. They have been a part of 4 school systems, with the vast majority of those years being spent in Owasso. They have received great educations, which prepared them for college and beyond. Two have graduated from college and the other two are attending college in Missouri and Illinois.

I thought some about what seemed to be countless first days of school, bus rides to school, concerts, ball practices and games, back to school nights, conferences, awards ceremonies, and yes, even a trip or two to the principal's office for disciplinary reasons. ( No names here).

We have been thankful for the Owasso schools, because they seem to have a good sense of educating the children, while balancing that with the need for parental involvement. There has always been an open attitude by the administration and teachers. Their doors have been open to us, and through the years we have taken advantage of the access.

What makes it possible for a child to go to public school and succeed in getting an education.( the same question can be asked of private schools.)? I am sure that there are many reasons for this. One of them has to be the desire of parents to be involved in the education of their children. We have been pretty visible parents on most levels. From Booster Clubs to Bond Issue committees , to being a room mother, to actually working in one of the schools, people know we have been interested. So did our kids.

I know I am writing with a broad brush here. Parental involvement does not guarentee educational success. Certainly prayer, conversation and involvement at home, and genuine interest as parents goes along ways. There are other ingredients as well. Making sure your kids hang out with the right kids ( whatever that may be for you) is essential. For us, ( no matter if I worked at a church or not) this would have included a peer group of kids from the church. I am already missing some of Abigail's friends who just used to pop in... Now they are off at college.
All of this does not mean your child will be a star athlete, or a cheerleader, or on the Academic All State team. But it does give them a better chance at knowing they are loved and supported, knowing who they can go to, and knowing that there are expectations regarding good decision making.

The new school year has started. Last night Pam and I decided we would wander over to the 8th grade center to .... watch the Volleyball Team thump Union. It was fun. We got to see people from the church and the community. A couple asked, "What are you doing here?"

My answer: "Its what we do..." Now we will follow our church kids... and Abigail whose college season starts next week... and the Elkins Elks ( Our Son in Law is the basketball coach there), and anyone else we can think of. We love the environment... You will see us at Owasso games... and who knows, even a concert or two.

It's what we do.... and we love it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Some musings...

I am writing from Joplin. Abigail, our youngest daughter, is going to college. Ozark Christian College is getting a real gem.

I told a friend today that it seems like Abigail has been waiting 18 years for this moment. She is , a girl who loves God and her family. She also really likes the idea of being on her own... making her own decisions and ways.

I think we have been blessed. All four of our kids love God and love each other. Abigail has a great future ahead of her at OCC. She will love the Bible classes, the friendships, and the volleyball.

It was really cool to have Elizabeth drive up to spend the day here. I love the fact that all four of our kids love each other and want to share as much of their lives with each other as possible. It's a good thing.

So where do we go from here? Well, we have a great family spread out in the Midwest ( Fayetteville Ark, Joliet Illinois, Joplin Mo and Owasso - {thats Joel for a while...})
We have each other and that is alot of fun. And we have a great church who wants to grow and develop as a great influence in Northeast Ok.

So things are good...there are bumps in the road, real concerns for other family members, and curves in the road that need to be navigated. But things are still good. No matter what is thrown at us, we have to remember, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God."

On Saturday, we will drive back home. Abigail will stay here and begin the next phase of her life. As one mother said to me the other day ( she is sending her last child to college this week ), " It's what we set out to do...raise them to be good adults." That is true... and it is good to see.

New chapters full of promise for the future. It's a good way to live.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Giftedness vs. Character

This morning I read through the story of Samson. ( Judges 13-16). Some observations...

One, Samason's parents were deperate to have him. They prayed, they sought God, and when it happened they were surprised. They were also obedient.

Two, Samson was gifted. Many a leader has "risen to the top" by using their gifts. Leaders have to have gifts. The great thing is that all leaders do not have to have the same gifts. The diversity and variety of the Kingdom lends its self to gifts that are all over the board. Yet, God is the one who can use gifts that seem totally unrelated to weave together a tapestry of leadership that keeps His kingdom going in the right direction.

Three, Samson lacked character. When he "saw" the woman in Judges Timnah, he wanted her. He told his father, "Get her for me." ( Judges 14) The problem was that she was a Phillistine woman... part of the clan that hated God's people. Samson's lack of character introduced alot of problems into his life.

Four, Samson's life was beset with secrecy. The older I get the more I see the devestating effects of secrecy. Much of the secrecy in our lives is the doorway to deceit. Read through the passage and you will see that Samson played fast and loose with the truth, he kept things from his own family, and he dangled his sinful actions (violating his Nazarite vow) in front of others and even God. Ironically, it was the "secret" of his strength, that he did not keep, which ruined his life. But, he had a real character problem.

Lastly, his ultimate undoing was when the Lord left Him. ( Judges 16:20- "But he did not realize that the Lord had left him.") That is a sad statement.

I pray that you, ( and I) will live in the light. I pray that we will be obedient to God's commands in our lives, and realize that without his blessing, we nothing more than a shell of the person that we could be.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WHAT IF....?

I am on vacation this week, in beautiful Chicago Illinois. Today, we venture downtown. We thought about riding the train, but it is kind of pricey, so we are driving... We will go to the Navy Pier, Sears Tower, walk ( not shop) down Michigan Avenue and wander around... Should be fun. We waited until today because the weather was supposed to be good, and it has turned out really good. ( high of 75 degrees and sunny.) I miss that about the north. In the summer the weather fronts clear out the humidity and you get a break. Of course, it all comes around in the winter with 12 straight weeks of wind, cold and snow. God has a hard time pleasing me...but then again that is not his objective is it?

Time off gets me to thinking a bit... So I write some conclusions to the question "What if?" ( Actually they are not conclusions at all, just something to think about.)

WHAT IF...churches really cared about the lost?

WHAT IF members focused more on taking the gospel to those who need it than with protecting their own turf in regards to worship style, preaching style, buildings and programs? ( I guess I am sick of all the ranting and raving about who is doing what and whether it is right or not.... here I go, "ranting and raving.")

WHAT IF ... we all were willing to take a life altering risk once a year? BRIEF COMMENTARY: I mean a real risk which had the potential to go either way. Certainly it should be "God-led." But as I read more about Jesus I see him more as a revolutionary and less as a Mr.Rogers type. He was a dangerous man who called many people to take the biggest risk of their lives. I don't think there is alot of risk in accepting Christ. The ressurection settles it for me. But there is alot of risk in being an "Ambassador of Christ." That can blow away our world.

WHAT IF ... we were free to speak what is really on our mind, instead of what we think the other person wants to hear?

WHAT IF ... relationship really took precedence over programs in the church?

WHAT IF ... we really believed that Hell was real, and Jesus saves?

WHAT IF... we were committed to laugh and smile more and complain and frown less?

WHAT IF ... we woke up in the morning with ONE prayer .... "Lord this is your day... I am your child. Take me where you want, use me where you will, and at the end of the day let's both say, 'It was a good day.'

WHAT IF .... we went to bed at night with ONE thought on our mind... "Lord you were really great today."

WHAT IF .. we had time on a regular basis to ask the question, "What if?"

WHAT IF ... we asked the question "What if?" and it actually led to some sort of change in our life ( for the better)

WHAT IF ? Well who knows...unless you ask the question... and look for the answers.

Vacations do this to me... Sorry. But it is good for me. And better for you as well.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Summer blogging is a challenge...

Today, I find myself in Joliet Illinois. Lydia and James live here now, launching a ministry with the Cornerstone Christian Church.

Some observations...

1. It is kind of strange for us to be making a long trip to see one of our kids. They have always been either home or close to home. Now they are 680 miles away.

2. Each moment I spend with all four of our kids, I am more amazed than ever how much God has blessed us. This summer, one is in Illinois, one is in Maine, one is in Faytettville Arkansas, and one is in Joliet. All four love God and love their families. Does it really get any better than that?

3. It gets really hot in Chicago too. 94 today.

4. Traveling is still hard on me. We spent the night in St.Louis... and headed out on the last leg of the trip Sunday morning. About 30 minutes in, I got sick... and felt terrible all day yesterday. Too much activity I guess..

5. I miss getting to preach on Sunday. Sunday was the third Sunday I have had in a row where I was not preaching... I love preaching...

Our Vacation takes us from Chicago to Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma later this week. Should be fun... always great to spend time with friends and family.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Curran Girls take on NYC

This week , I find myself alone at the house. Pam, Elizabeth, Lydia and Abigial are in New York City. Joel is in Maine. It is kind of strange to know that the rest of your family is on the east coast, "enjoying" HOT weather and no rain ( so far), while I am here in what is usually sunny and HOT Oklahoma, contemplating building an ark. ( No, God did not show up to me like Evan in the movie, but afte 18 days out of 22, it feels like we might need something other than gasoline powered vehicles to get around-that may help with the gas budget)

Anyway, each time a child graduates ( from HS) we have allowed them to pick a place to go as a family. We have been to Orlando and Destin, to Panama City and to Corpus Christie. For years Abigail has said, "I want to go to California." But I guess I was a party pooper and said I did not have California on my dad approved lists of places to go. Conversations continued. Would everyone be able to go ? Joel would have a job, the other two girls are married. If they could not go, could Abigail invite friends to go? ( I was not too keen on that.) Imagine this, a 18 year old girl on a vacation with her Dad and Mom. That was going to be okay , but not preferable.

So in January someone came up with the idea of NYC. Pam and I had been there the previous March. What a great time we had. The only negative is that it was 40 degrees and the wind blew like crazy. We were so cold. That was two weeks before the stroke, we were celebrating our 25th anniversary... and having a great time.

So, I said, "Why not.?" Abigial and Pam to NYC... and then it turned into a girls trip. So all the girls are there. They must be having fun, because I have not heard a peep from them since they got to the Hotel. That is great...

What's my point? I don't know exactly, except that for years I have traveled alot and Pam has stayed home, worked and managed getting the kids where they needed to be. I have been on the East Coast, the West Coast, and in between. Sometimes for a few days , sometimes for a week or more. She never complained, never griped about why she didn't get to go anywhere etc. She just did her thing. So I look at this trip as a big thank you to her in addition to a
"way to go" to Abigail.

All of our "girls" are great... and I am sure they are having fun.

And if you are wondering about Joel... well, he is at a sports camp for the third year.. He the veteran counselor, the head of the basketball program and someone they wanted very badly this summer. I have emailed him, but no reply... not surprised, He is having a blast.

And me? Not to bad really. I am not known as an "alone kind of guy,." But this time I am doing pretty good. Reading alot, writing some, and meeting with people.

I am trying to lay low for the next three to four weeks, just trying to refuel and gear up for more great things God has in store for me .

Its all good.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Birthday!

18 months ago, I was informed that the church I serve would be celebrating 100 years of existence in 2007. Sounded like a great opportunity for a party. I mean, who does not love birthday parties?

So I made a decision. I decided we would have a party. Not just any kind of party. But a big 100th party.

The party was this past weekend, and it was a blast. People came from all over the country to celebrate 100 years of ministry. We got letters from Presidents, Govenors, Mayors and College Presidents. We viewed videos of congratulations and appreciation from many people.

But we also worshipped God. After all, it really was His party. What made it so good was the fact that many former ministers, members, and friends came as well. We worshipped God with southern gospel, contemporary worship songs, hymns, preaching, testimony, and alot of hugs and love. It was not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Lots of people worked hard on the weekend. There was a centennial team that planned, prayed and executed the plan and prayers. And it was flawless!

Three people were amazing... Ben Killion and Jim Schnorrenberg were the leaders of the team. 18 months ago, I knew that I could not plan this and lead it. ( that was before the health problems). So I asked them to lead it out. They were so willing. They did exactly what I asked them to do... "put a team together and let's have a party." I could not have been more pleased with thier leadership.

The other person is our Worship Minister, Tim Tibbles. He worked so hard to have an orchestra, 100 voice choir, band, for Sunday morning. And the services were great. Saturday night he and some others put together a Revivial worship service , again involving many different people that shared the talents and gifts.

I think the one of the best things about the weekend was that there was something for everyone. And I can't count how many times people said, "This has been so great."

Why was it great? Because God is great. And God has been great to this church for 100 years. We have had ups and downs, great victories and a few defeats...but consistently God has been there every step of the way.

I said my part of the message that this weekend is just a "comma" , not a "period." ( thanks to Gov. George Nigh and my friend Jerry Whited.). I love that picture because the best is yet to come.

Lots of people are tired, there is alot of clean up to do, but I think everyone would agree that it was a great party.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Funeral Directors, Preachers and death

I am part of a "profession" that deals with death on a fairly regular basis. Just today, I visited with a trio of sisters whose 82 year old mother has suffered a series of strokes and is near death. After 25 years at this, I pretty much know what to do, what to say and what not to say. There are times I get surprised, but not oten.

I have been very blessed because I have not had to deal with death in an intense way, at least personally. All my siblings are alive, my parents are alive as are all of Pam's . I have wondered from time to time what it would be like if one of my close family members died. Who do I turn to? Who helps the preacher get through something like that?

That was brought home this morning by a phone call I got at 7:30 AM. It was one of my closest friends... a guy named Steve. He called to let me know that his mother passed away last night. She had cancer, had been up and down, in and out of the hospital and had struggled for a while with this.

What makes it more interesting to me is that Steve is the best Funeral Director around. He is a close friend. But professionally he is the guy that I would trust completely. When people ask, I say, "Mowery's..." It automatic.

I thought this morning, "Who does the funeral director turn to when his mom dies?" I mean, he deals with this all the time. He is well connected in our community. He is loved and respected by many. So who does he call?

I am sure he called his pastor. But I also know he called me. I don't deserve a medal. I am sure that he called other friends to. But we just have the kind of relationship where we call each other, and lean on each other in tough times. We also have a great time together as well.

And it makes me remember... Preachers and Funeral Directors need friends too. We need people to lean on. We need people that will let us cry when our loved one dies... who will laugh with us when we need that... we need someone we can call.

Steve is that guy for me. I have several others in the church, and one other who lives out of town that I could call. This morning's phone call from Steve made me thankful that I would have several calls to make if one of my parents died. It also made me happy that I am that kind of friend for Him.

We are normal people with normal kinds of needs. We are around death alot, but when it reaches deep into our lives, we need good friends too.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Assuming Postive intentions

Several years ago, our church staff watched a DVD from Southeast Christian Church. One of the main points the preach of this church with a large staff made was that we have to "assume positive intentions" with each other. The idea is that if we give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they did something that affected us adversely, that it was done with no malice or hurtful feelings. At least as a starting point, that helps us maintain our cool, and helps us realize that something just happen. I have not always been the best at this... but I am trying more to take a deep breath and wait for a while before reacting.

This came up today with a particular situation at our church. Apparently someone, not really knowing the rules about email communication within the church, sent out something soliciting business. This person is a relatively new to our church.

Some members of the church got the email and sent notes back asking that they be removed from the email listing that got them this solicitation. That is okay. No problem in my mind. But it seems that is possible that some of the communication was bit testy in nature. Our office got some phone calls and even a couple emails as well, wondering how this could happen.

It caused a bit of a twit for some people. I understand that... I really do. But sometimes our reaction to things like this can cause more harm than we intend. The person who did this was genuinely upset , thinking that they had really messed up.

I called them and talked with them today. I assured them that from my vantage point this was an honest mistake... we don't want people using the membership email to solicit business. But I think thier mistake was done with positive intentions. They had been encouraged by other business associates to do something like as a way to touch their sphere of influence. They believe in their business and its potential to really help people.

Inexperience in the church world kind of caught them here... That is what I think.

The one thing that the Devil likes to do is take innocent little things like this and blow them up, thus derailing someone from their service in the church, and/or giving them reason to think that this is not a place of love and grace. Boy, is he good at that!

I hope that will not happen in this case. This couple serves in several areas. They are fairly new to the church, and one of them is fairly new to the faith. Certainly no one would want a negative reaction to an honest mistake to be the thing that derails them....would they?

I know our church pretty well, and I am assuming postive intentions of those that reacted as well. I know that love is the order of the day.... and that people in general would understand if they had all the information and knew that it was taken care of.

We have a great church, with lots of new people. Sometimes it is a bit messy, but thats okay. Whats most important is that people know that even in our church, mistakes are made every day and we move on. And as I said in my last post, sins are committed every day, and we confess and ask for forgiveness, and God moves on. Psalms says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your trangressions from you." Psalm 103:12

Aren't you glad that applies to you? I know I am glad it applies to me.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mistakers or sinners?

THIS IS NOT MY IDEA! But it is good. Andy Stanley talks about the difference between "mistakers" and "sinners" . Think about it... How many times have you done something WRONG and just passed it off as a mistake.

I didn't wear my seat belt- that was a mistake. ( not really- I decided not to wear it and disobey the law.)

I let some information slip to someone that I am pretty sure will pass it along. Big mistake. ( not really- how about gossip as a possibility?)

I harbored some thoughts in my heart. They led to hateful actions toward someone. It was a mistake ( Not really- Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.) Matthew 12:34

I think we do a big diservice to ourselves when we don't call sin what it is - SIN.

Here is why. ..

We are never told in the Bible that God will forgive mistakes. He forgives sin. ( Psalm 103:3)

We are never told to confess mistakes. We are told to confess sins to each other ( James 5:!6)

We are never told that mistakes will find us out. We are told that sin will find us out. ( Numbers 32 :23)

When I think of the things that I do that are wrong as mistakes and not sins, I am basically saying, "Hey, I am who I am and I don't need forgiveness. I just need to do better."

And we miss out on forgiveness, the blessing of confession ( leading to prayer and accountability ) and we think we are getting away with it. We are not, because God knows the difference between a sin and a mistake. His son did not die for mistakers, but for sinners.

Interesting idea... I guess I am a little ashamed at how often I just blow it and call it a mistake. It suggests to me that I need a dose of biblical reality.

Just something to think about.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Busy times

It has been an extremely busy couple of weeks for me, and our family.

In the last month, I have had three major funerals ( I suppose every funeral is major...), but two of them were of young men who died at the hands of cancer. Another was an elderly lady. Each of them took alot out of me.

In addition we have been going through a mini series on our Building For Christ :Finish Campaign. It has been more than just preaching... The lead up work to it has been demanding, as have answering the questions.

I also have attended three graduations. Joel's was at OSU...Way to go big boy! He is looking for a job.... Abigial's high school graduation was last Thursday. Once again, the Curran kids left their mark on the graduation ceremonies. Abigial and her friend Whitney sang the Rascal Flats song, "My Wish" at the commencement. She said she was not nervous. And she did not look like it at all. That is amazing especially since she sang in front of 7500 people. They were amazing! And of course we have been so proud of her accomplishments in high school. All of our kids either sang, spoke or prayed at the graduation ceremonies... That is pretty cool.

Then James Summers ( Lydia's Husband) graduated from Ozark Chrsitian College. He is such a fine young man... we are proud of him and his desire to serve the Lord.

Now, on top of that we are dealing with the emotions of James and Lydia moving to the Chicago area. It is hard to let them go, but we know that God has a plan for them. In three months Abigial will be at Ozark. Joel will be off on his career... and Lizzie and Nathaniel are busy making their life in Fayetteville Ark.

So it will soon be Pam and I. No dogs, cats, or fish... just Pam and I. I think we are looking forward to it...but we know that it will demand some adjustments for both of us.

On the church front, we have had some interesting things happen. We invited Woody Wilkinson to come on Wednesday Nights to share with us on some study of Isalm, Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses. He is amazing... a man of both great knowledge and a great spirit.

The interesting thing is that we have advertised this on our marquee. It has caused a bit of a stir. The Marquee says, "I want to know about... Mormonism ( Or Jehovah's witnesses.). Last week, the phone rang several times at the church. It was people wanting to know more about the topic of the week. On Wednesday night, several men from the Mormon church showed up, as did a woman with 4 children. She talked with Woody afterwards...but the men did not. They quiet sat and listened. One man seemed to be deep in prayer during the presentation.

This morning ( after we had changed the marquee to Jehovah's Witnesses) I received a package from the local Kingdom Hall. There was a note attached, bascially saying that if we wanted to know more, we needed the right materials. ( Thank you). The note was very kind, even complimentary of our desire to know more about the Jehovah's Witness. It even mentioned their appreciation for our using their name on our marquee. I don't know whether they will send anyone Wednesday night or not... but I have found out something... People read the marquee!!!

By the way, in the middle of all this I went to the Nureologist... She said I am doing well... see you in 6 months. That is good news.

God is good, even in really busy times and times of transition

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Big Crowds..

Preachers are often conditioned to think that big crowds are a validation of worth and significance. We go to meetings and get asked the question , "How's it going?" That is code for "how big is your church," or "are you on the rise or decline", or "are your offerings up or down, "and are the people behind you or are you getting creamed by some hypercritical person or persons.

The answer is usually, "Things are good." We try to be as vague as possible. If we are growing and things are going great, we don't want to sound egotistical. If things are going bad, we don't want to whine.

But it goes beyond Sunday morning attendance. For instance, today, I spoke at two events that were not well attended. One was the Tulsa area Ministers Fellowship. We combine with the local Church of Christ preachers for lunch once a month. One of the guys asked me to talk about the stroke and some lessons that I had picked up through this last year or so. So I showed up. Problem was that most of the guys that attend it did not. There were only 3-4 guys from Christian Churches and about 10 from the Cof C. That is a pretty low crowd. We ate, someone lamented about the lack of attendance ( after all, we are all preachers), and then they turned it over to me. I talked for about 30 minutes. Then we did something special. They put me in the middle of a circle,laid hands on me and prayed. It was a very powerful moment for me. And so meaningful. Most of the guys I did not know, but the encouragement of those moments were very important to me.

Then I had to scoot to a graveside service in Tulsa. I did not know what to expect. I did not know the lady, but her sister, who I had not seen in 10 years or so, called me and asked me to do the service. Davida was 90 years old. Never married. She has two sisters, one in her mid 80's, whose husband passed away 25 years ago ( no children), and another sister in her early 80's who has never been married. They did not live here, but in the OKC area. But she wanted to be buried in Tulsa.

So I went not knowing what to expect. It was the smallest service I have ever done. There were 4 people there. 2 sisters, one cousion and a sorority sister of Davida's.

Prayer, scripture, obituary, remarks and prayer. Took about 15 minutes ( that was me stretching it a bit). But then what happened after was so cool. The two sisters and the cousion and sorority sister started telling stories. That went on for 30 minutes. Then as we left the younger sister said, "That was a great service... I hope you stick around so you can do mine some day." ( I hope so too.)

I thought about both those events on the way home. Both were small in numbers, but powerful in impact. They were personal. They were spiritual moments of encouragement . They were both uplifting. And they both were important.

Sometimes its not the big gatherings that produce the most important moments. I like that about God.... What did Jesus say? "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I will be also."

I like that about God. He wants everyone to be saved... He would love Heaven to be populated with people from every nation, tribe and tongue. But it is not the number that counts. It's the soul.

Good lesson for me to remember as well.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Some thoughts about this and that...

On Saturday May 5th, we journeyed to Oklahoma State University to watch Joel recieve his degree. We have been so proud of him. He has worked hard for four years to get to this point. He had some scholarship money, but he worked 30 plus hours a week for the last 3 1/2 years to be able to make it to this point. That fact alone makes me very proud of him. He maintained a 3.0 grade point average, and graduated in 4 years. That takes alot of dedication and work.

Joel is a great young man...everyone says that about him. We are blessed to have him in our lives. Now, if you want to pray for him, pray for a good job for him. That is the next big step.

On Sunday May 6th, I shared the vision for the building of our new campus on North Garnett. It is something that I was not comfortable with, but I felt like ( along with others) that it was the right time and right place to do it. So it was Building for Christ: FAQ's. The response from almost eveyone was overwhelmingly positive! I am finding people want to know. And they want to know that there is a vision for the future. Our church is full of people who really do want to make a difference.

We have seen God work in some really significant ways at FCC. Each step in this process has seen the need for a lot of faith. Our leaders have been faith filled believers who know that what we are attempting is far beyond us. We can not do it... but God can.

I think there is a constant lesson before me. Attempting great things, means leaning on someone besides myself. God is my help and my strength.

Rain.... boy are we getting rain. Thunder, lightening, rain and more rain. People complain about it... just as they complained for the last two years when we were getting no rain. It all makes me wonder if God doesn;t just put his fingers in his ears and go, "WAH WAH WAH WAH..."

It sure is green.... and I like green

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jim Minich

When someone "young" dies, it is hard to understand why. Jim Minich falls into that category. Jim was a man from our church who was young. Healthy by most standards, he was a man with an endless amount of energy. He had a strength in his life that was unmatched by most. Even though he had what some might call "handicaps" (i.e. no hand on one arm), he was someone that accomplished many feats that people with two hands could not do. Waterskiing was one of them, wakeboarding and the like. I have seen pictures of him doing flips and turns on the water that amazed me.

He loved sports. He really enjoyed volleyball, and the occassional spike in the preacher's wife's face. (Inside story there). He played on my church league basketball team. He wasn't very good, but he would get out there, play defense, rebound, and shoot from far beyond the 3 point line. ( The backboard took some viscious hits over the yearts) He would not make many of those shots, but he was out there... and it was an inspiration to us. He didn't think he was very good at it, but he kept coming back, and we were glad.

For some reason, its anybody's guess.... he contracted a form of luekemia. Within about 3 weeks, he had suffered several complications. He spent the last 8 weeks fighting in ICU. Eventually his body wore out. And last night he went to be with the Lord.

Jim was a fighter... a fighter in life, and certainly a fighter in death. He endured more than most people would have ever endured over the past 8 weeks. And he kept fighting. He was making ever so slow progress... but yesterday his body gave out.

Many people will question why. Many people will not understand. But for what its worth, from somoene who knew Jim and his family, I think what happened yesterday was a demonstration of God showing His MERCY to Jim and his family. Jim and I had talked about what would happen if this luekemia took him. He so secure in his faith. He had no doubts. His concern was for his wife and daughter. But he knew that if he did not make it, he would be with Jesus.

Some people make think that this was not merciful. But all you had to do is to spend a little time in the ICU unit to know that if he was not going to get completely better, God's mercy would be shown in him taking him to the other side.

I have clinged to a verse in Romans 8:18 for several weeks. I am not always sure why single verses have an impact on me like the do ( especially at certain times.) But this one has... "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

I keep reminding myself that the "best is yet to come." This is not all there is. Heaven awaits anyone who has trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jim had, and in an instant, he was in the presence of Christ.

It makes it hard for those left behind. But there is a promise wrapped up in Romans 8 that carries us through those times. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ( Romans 8:28)

I believe that God will show his mercy to Cindy and Emily and to the rest of his family in the coming days. And somehow, even when we can't physically touch it, we will see his mercy played out in their lives.

Jesus said, "I am the ressurection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whover lieves and believes in me will never die." ( John 11:25)

Monday, April 23, 2007

God's work in me

SOLD.... Nice words when you are trying to SELL. For the past 9 years, our church has been on a journey. At first, it did not have a name. We ( Elders and Staff) at the time sensed that it was time to look beyond the 7.2 acres on 86th street. We commissioned a team and went looking for land.

The land found us. The Bailey Foundation wanted to put a church out west of town, next to a hospital that they had dreamed up. in 1997 or 1998, that seemed pretty far fetched. But even more far fetched was the idea that the Bailey Foundation wanted to give the land to us. Yes I said, GIVE... 22 acres. God was working.

We accepted. So, we had land...but no real plan. Lots of people wanted to know, "What's next?" We prayed, we prayed and we prayed. Our church went through some transition in leadership. And we prayed more. By 2004, we were ready to "re-locate." But we had no building, no real build-up in money and no specific plan. But God was working...

We launched out on a capital campaign. It was called "Building For Christ." We dreamed and prayed. We asked God to show us. We waited... soon the commitments came in. The final total was a little over 2 million dollars. We were not sure what that would mean in terms of building.
We knew that if we were going to be able to "re-locate", it would take a lot more than 2 million dollars. God was working...

So we put our building on the market. We said "We have a price... and if it is meant by God to be sold, it will sell." It did not sell...but God was working.

3 years later, (March of 2007), the Capital Campaign ended ( sort of). Final ( kind of) totals for the campaign were around $1, 450,00. We were short...but no one doubted that God was working.

Well I guess some doubted... Some left. Some became "standoffish". Some said, "I will beleive God is in it, when I see it."

But God was still working.

Then at the end of the campaign, something interesting happened. The Rejoice Church and Christian School approached us about leasing space for thier school. That conversation moved from lease to purchase. We put a team together and talked... Many prayed. Was this the time?

God was working. He sold the facility in a way that allows us the time to build phase two. He sold the building that allows this land to be used for God-honoring uses in the future ( Chrsitian School). He sold it in a way that demonstrated to the church that God was in this.

God is working. Now, here is the deal. Even if the building had not sold, I still believe God is working. You see, I have learned that God is working when he says "yes, go forward." He is working when he says, "No, don't go there." And he is working when he says, "wait for the right time."

Its not about buildings and land. It is about God. That has been demonstrated in how He has worked in my life. Some days its "yes". Some days its "no." Most days it's "Take one more step and I will tell you where to go from there..."

Hard lessons to learn. I have some pretty important prayers going to God right now. And none of them have anything to do with the building. But I have learned through the building process alot about how to "be led " by God. It's step by step. I am hopeful for some "yes" answers. But if they are "no" or "wait" or " take the next step and the next step only" , I am good with that.

I know He is still working....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Faith in Christ...Our only hope


Our country suffers grief. The shooting at Virginia Tech grips our nation today. There are questions. Who? Why? How can this happen?

Our media is immediately on top of the authorities. Their questions, in an attempt to fill coverage and time focuses on the decision making of the President and Police.

Maybe it is just me, but the logistics of "locking down" a campus with 9,ooo residents and 14,000 commuters would be impossible. But beyond that, it is incomprehensible to me that in the effort to get the story, this would be the focus.

We live in a evil and fallen world. Not everyone is this evil. Not everyone acts out on what fantasies they harbor. Not everyone snaps. But there are some out there who simply do what their minds and hearts tell them to do, with no check or balance. And in the middle of it all are innocent people who get hurt. 32students and teachers are killed. Countless friends and family members are affected forever.

God designed and created a different kind of world. It was a world where man and God would spend eternity together. However, Satan had his way. And the world changed.

This is the world we live in. It is the world that mankind has lived in since the garden.

When Jesus came, things changed again. The plan to redeem mankind reached its pinnacle when Christ rose from the dead. We (believers) are charged to get the message out again. Things are changing... Jesus will return and He will be in total control. We have a second chance.

Then the mess here on earth will be resolved. Until then, mankind will continue to make terrible and destrctive decisions and innocent people will get hurt.

The answer: faith in Christ. He conquered death once and for all. He is our only hope.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A long day called "Saturday."

Mike Cope, minister at Highland Church of Christ in Abiliene Texas quotes Ann Lamont in a recent blog post.

"I don't have the personality for Good Friday, for the ressurection. I'd like to skip ahead to the ressurection." (Plan B.)

I am the same way. Good Friday is distasteful, uncomfortable, inhumane, angry, ugly and painful. AND NECCESARY. I preached about this last Sunday, saying, "If Jesus does not go to the Cross, he is NOT the Son of God. " The bottom line is that there is no Easter morning, no "sunrise service" at the tomb, no celebration of Pentecost 50 days later, and no Christianity, without the Cross.

Ours is a culture that loves to fast forward past the "bad" parts of a story to get to the climax. (Isn't one of the points of DVR's?). But you cannot DVR this story. The best thing to do is to wade into the deep waters of the pain and agony of "It is finished." ( John 19:30). Realize that what Jesus finished on the cross was real. The redemptive plan of God was it for you and me. If He does not finish, we are in deep trouble spiritually. We are left to make sense of sin and wrath, sorrow and separation from God on our own. I am not able to do that. I needed the help, the plan, and the stamina of Jesus who went all the way.

Today I was thinking about Saturday some 2000 years ago. What a dark day it must have been for those who had poured everything into Jesus. What a difficult time it must have been for those who had "left everything" to follow Jesus. Now the one they followed was in a tomb, and they were left to contemplate their future. What would they do now? What would their families and friends say? How would the escape the persecution that was certainly to follow? They did not live in the shadows over the previous three years. They were "out there, front and center. They had been in the "thick of things" for over three plus years. Now what do they do? How would they live their lives now?

What a powerful statement of love from God. For in a short few hours, they found out that what Jesus said was true... "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again." HE DID!

Tomorrow, we celebrate! But we should not forget that there were about 72 hours where nothing was celebrated by the followers of Jesus. All they could do is pray and stick together.

I am thankful for the "next day..." I am looking forward to it... big time1

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

New Hope

Some would say that "they" live in a nearly perfect world. The Amish live a very simple life, in a very complex day. Their families seem strong. They have a strong faith in God. They are depenedent on very few for very little.

So six months ago, someone from the outside intruded upon their lives and destroyed some of that innocence and simplicity. When the deranged man entered that school house in Nickel Mines Pa. everything changed. Now this secluded community would be listed among Columbine, Joneshboro, Springfield and Ft. Gibson. Places where school children had been gunned down by fellow students or assailants.

What made this even more difficult was the fact that "they" had to let the rest of the world in. From helicopters to satellite trucks, news organizations swooped in. They wanted to respect their privacy and their beliefs, but the story had to be told.

I am glad the story was told. Why? Because it is a story of hope. When faced with the worst of all tragedies, the Amish found hope in thier faith and in each other. When asked what they would do about their grief and pain, they often said that they would trust God, forgive the man, and reach out to his family. They would find strength in God. They would find purpose through this pain.

Those were not just words. They did reach out to the man's wife and kids. The Amish people called on them, surrounded them and cared for them. They knew there was another family who had experienced a terrible tragedy in their lives. They raised money for that family, establishing a fund for them.

Why? Well, when asked, it is almost as if their answer was, "well, why not?" They knew the scriptures commanded them to forgive. They knew that Jesus had said this often. They knew retaliation and hate was not the answer. For those who believe in God, love is the order of the day.

The ressurection of Jesus Christ does something to us that nothing else can do. It gives us real hope in the face of darkness and sorrow. Knowing that there is someone ( Jesus) who could go to the cross and say, "Forgive them", and then rise from the dead is enough to pay attention and obey His commands, no matter what we "feel" like.

Hope... It comes in all kinds of packages. It comes in so many different forms. It does not guarentee protection against sorrow and tradgedy. It does help us see beyond it all to something that is better. It helps us see people as Jesus sees them.

The kids in Nickel Mines went to school yesterday in their new school building. It still has no electricity. It is a one room school house. There are new things this time, ( skylights for one).
There are secure doors and paved parking lots.

And there is hope. By the way, they named the school. It is an appropriate name for sure. "New Hope School."

We should all be so blessed as to spend time in that school.... the school of New Hope.

Monday, April 02, 2007

1 year ago tomorrow...

One year ago tomorrow ( April 3rd) I had a stroke. Tonight, I will get to watch the NCAA Championship game from my living room, which was what I was planning to do last year. But I ended up at St. Francis and as they say, "the rest is history."

It is has been a very interesting year. I am glad to turn to page on the last year and look forward to a new one. My life has changed in many ways. Physically I am not the same. I have lost about 25% of my pre-stroke weight. I still have some goals to accomplish on this front, but I am on my way. I am in pretty good shape, inspite of the setback of a month ago. Some say this is the "kinder, gentler" Charlie. I guess that could be true.

My heart has changed as well. I feel things as deeply as I ever have. (Which can get me into trouble.) Certainly my faith and trust in God has deepened in some significant ways. I realized that what I preached about "digging your wells deep" was true, and that through the years I had developed a fairly deep well of faith that carried me through. I am back to digging.

I am still tired, but not as tired as I was 6 months ago. Dr. Edwards said, "2-3 years to recover." I didn't believe her when she said that. I do now. It is a journey with lots of ups and downs, curves and straightaways and certainly a few potholes along the way.

I just want to say thank you to so many.

To God, who gives me breath for today and hope for my future.

To Pam, who continues to stand beside me, sometimes reminding me of things I have forgotten, helping me say "no" to the things I need to say "no" to and "yes" to the things I need to say "yes" to. She loves me. That is all I have to say about that! We celebrate 26 years on Thursday. I am glad she hung around for the last one...although there was never any doubt that she would.

To my kids, who have been so supportive of both Pam and I. I know that they have been scared off and on, but they really never let me see it. They all ask lots of questions, watch me like a hawk when they are around and really try to pick up Pam when it seems like to much.

To my parents, who have had the added burdened of a son that didn;t feel so well... They prayed and prayed, as so many did. And it worked.

To First Christian Church. They understand my shortcomings, are patient with me and genuinely concerned. They also ( with God's direction and blessing) advanced the kingdom this last year, just proving none of us are indispensable.

To the Elders of First Christian Church. They have shown me more love and compassion than anyone deserves. They are great men of God.

To the staff of FCC. Many of thier lives changed that day to. They picked alot up and have carried the ball. What a great group to work with.

To a special Pastor friend named Deron, who continues to encourage me from a distance.

To Mike, who has picked up the ball in so many ways at church. He has taken on more than he dreamed, and still encourages and protects me.

To special friends who have picked up some things for me. There are too many to mention by name. God knows who they are.

I could go on and on. ( And I know I will miss people... which is the problem when you start naming people.)

What will the coming year hold for me? I really don't know, but I know that God holds my future in His hands. There could be more changes... probably will be. I know that if I trust God, step out on faith and follow His lead, I could be in no better place.

I am thankful for that!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lessons Learned?....or Learning?

As children, we have all heard the saying, in one form or another, "I hope you have learned your lesson." Teachers, parents, coaches, sometimes even law enforcement officials utter that phrase with genuine hope that the same mistake will not be repeated twice.

Interestingly enough, it usually takes several stabs at it for me to learn my lesson. I guess I am slow. So in the interest of accountability, I am writing down some lessons learned, many of the for the "umpteenth" time.

One, I will not live forever. I am not an old man, but I am not getting any younger. I realize that I was not created to live on this earth forever. Someday my life will end, and I will be with God. That is the good news of the gospel.

Two, overoming illness does not mean I am exempt from having setbacks or additional illnesses. I know that. I have seen it over and over ( in other people) . But for some reason, I thought since I had climbed this last mountain so well, that there would not be a time where I would "fall" and have to start climbing again. That happened three weeks ago. It has been emotionally draining for me to admit that it happened and may happened again.

Three, the greatest resource we have for dealing with suprsise events like strokes, heart attacks, and other "life changers" is our relationship with God. I often say that we are to "dig our wells" deep in the good times. My was pretty deep a year ago. I drew alot from it to get through the changes in my life. This last setback was different. I found myself coming to God with questions... "Is this what I have to look forward to? What are you trying to teach me? Am I just falling apart? How do I handle this?" The answers have not been always what I have wanted, but am I thankful that God has allowed me to ask.. and reminded to keep asking... It is part of our relationship.

Four, I have great friends. All around me, there are people who are genuniely concerned for me and my family. The pressure I feel is self-induced. The love of church members, small group members, close family friends, and espcially my wife, kids, parents and Pam's parents is real. That includes taking me to task for not managing some things about this well. It includes the genunine expressions of concern about my pace of life, and my willingness to get myself full functioning and healed before I "go crazy"( as one friend puts it).

Five, I need to listen more.... Listen more to God. Listen more to my wife. Listen more to the leaders of the church. I need to listen to my friends. And listen more to loving members of my family and church.

Maybe that is my biggest problem... my mouth has always been bigger than my ears...until this last year. Now, I talk less and listen more... So maybe the adventure for my new life is to continue to listen alot, and apply. God would be happy with that.

Listen and apply...there is the key to learning your lesson. It is a pretty good lesson for all areas of life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Birthday Greetings

Tomorrow is March 15th. A pretty regular day for most of the world. However, 18 years ago, something happened in our lives that has proved to be an amazing blessing. Our youngest daughter, Abigail, was born.

We lived in a small Northeast Iowa town at the time. It has been a while, but I remember that it was cold and there was a freezing rain or ice storm hanging around. That proved to be a complication in and of itself, because after many hours of labor, the Dr. told us that if the baby did not come, they would have to transport Pam to a nearby city. That was very unattractive to us because of the ice. So we prayed, and Pam worked double hard, and Abigail was born!

I recall that Joel had prayed for most of the time that Pam was pregnant for "his little brother." So on the 15th, I had to break the bad news to him. " Mommy had the baby... and it was a girl." All Joel could say was "Oh, bummer!"

Abigail has been anything but a bummer. She has been such a joy to our families . She demonstrates a wonderful love for people. She loves God and shows it in how she helps people and cares for them. She is fun! It seems like her friends, ( Whitney, Chelci, Erika, and others), love coming to Abigail's house to hang out. We have always been blessed with our kid's friends being here...What fun!

Abigail plans to go to Ozark Christian College in the fall. She wants to be a History Teacher, and serve God in her life. She has wanted to go to Ozark for as long as I can remember. But secretly, if she would have gotten an offer from Duke... it might have been close. She has always been a Blue Devil fan! ( I am kind of glad it came to Ozark...something about the $40,000 tuition was intimidating to me.)

Some people criticized us when we had a fourth child. We were one of the very blessed and fortunate couples who planned for our kids and were allowed to have them in our lives. But it seems like when we told people that our 4th child was coming, we got alot of looks and comments like, "Can you afford it?, Do you know what you are doing?, Have you figured out how this happens yet?"

"Large" families are looked upon in a negative light today. I don't consider our family large. I consider it to be just right. Pam always wanted 4 kids, and it has been right for us.

Let me tell you something ( in love).... "We couldn't have afforded to NOT have that child. ." I can not imagine what our lives would have been like without that bright smile, that chuckle like laugh, , and loving spirit. I am so glad that we were able to have her in our lives, and I fully believe that she will make a huge difference in many lives. She lives for God and wants to be used for Him.

Sometimes 4th kids tend to get "swallowed up" by high achieving siblings. They each cast a shadow at school, church and even in the home. But just as it happened with Joel and Lydia, when the child immediately above them moved out to go to college, the next child blossomed. This is certainly true of Abigail. What a young lady she is !

18 years... boy is that hard to believe. Just seems like yesterday that I was sitting on those steps breaking the bad news to Joel. It turned out to be the best news of the day.

Happy Birthday Abigail!


Friday, March 09, 2007

2 steps forward, 1 step back

Its been 10 days or so since I last wrote. Alot has happened. I did go to Joplin, and enjoyed my time with Lydia , James and the Preaching/Teaching crowd. It was a good conference.

By Wednesday I was especially tired, and weary of the crowds, so I came home early. I didn't feel great and did not want to deal with driving home late at night. I missed my wife and my bed.

Thursday (3-1) I worked at home. Mid afternoon, I felt very crummy and had some numbness in my right side, arm and weakness. I also had some blurry vision. Honestly it was not nearly as bad as one year ago, so I waited it out, went to a meeting and carried on. It passed. Later that night Pam and I went to a ball game. While there, I stumbled and nearly fell completely over. Pam caught my one arm, I caught myself against some railing, and went on. But over time I felt increasingly weakened, and unsteady. By Sunday AM, I told the guys at our Prayer time that I did not feel that good. They prayed, and God got me through two services of preaching. I told Pam about the episode on Thursday. She was not happy. Pam said that she and the kids noticed that I was "quiet" alot over the weekend.. and somewhat disengaged. My check up with the Nuerologist was Monday afternoon.

She was irate that I did not go to the hospital when it happened again. What saddened me was that she was mad with Pam, who did not diserve it. She didn't know. I told the Dr. that it was my doing because I kept it from Pam. She was not a happy camper.

So this week, I have seen a real definciency in right side strength and processing. After an MRI, Echocardiogram, EEG, and Doppler Ultrasound of the veins in my neck, the results were given yesterday ( 3-8). Everything but the EEG was excellent. The Brain scans showed more damage when compared to a year ago. Which means something happened.... don't know exactly what to call it, but something happened last week, and more damage was done.

Bottom line, I lost several months of ground that I had gained through rest, rehab and concentration. It is noticeable to me and my family.... probably will not be to alot of other people.

It is kind of like blowing our your knee, rehabing for a year, and then going out and blowing it again. Very discouraging. But God has a plan.

On top of all that, I mentioned to the Dr. that I had a sore spot in my left leg, that at one time last week I thought might be a blood clot. She decided to send me to the hospital this morning for an ultrasound. It did not hurt any more, just last week when I was in Joplin. I really thought it was a pulled muscle.

Well, low and behold, it was a blood clot, IN THE OTHER LEG!.... I don't get that...but one thing about blood clots in legs.... they do not let you out of their sight, until they have figured it out and started filling you will blood thinner. So 6 hours in the ER produced a grumpy charlie, a tired Pam, and orders to take it easy, take a ton of medicine, and learn to give myself injections of blood clot disolving medicine for the next week. And oh by the way, don't get yourself in a position where you will bleed, because if you do, you will really bleed... even to death. Nice.

I have been discouraged all week...wondering what sense this all makes. I am in better shape than I have been in 15 years... I think I am managing some things well. But God still is not through shaping me yet. He is teaching me to trust Him for every moment in my life. I am learning personally that life is short ( I know that... but I guess I constantly need reminders.)

I also am learning that one setback does not mean you have exhausted your quota of disappointment and setbacks for your life. I guess I was thinking I had paid my dues... but that is not true. It is a lesson I need to learn, especially since I have had so little to deal with in the past 48 years.

I take heart in Romans 5:3ff " Not only so, be we also rejoice in our sufferings, becaused we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance ,character, and character , hope."

Honestly, I don't consider this suffering. But I do take comfort in knowing that my perservance produces character, and my character accesses me to God given hope.

I need that right now... There is a purpose. The Ultrasound today was a gift from God. I had no pain or swelling in my right leg. I am not sure if this clot caused the episode last week, but I suspect that this is not a coincidence. I will give God the credit, and continue to take better care of myself. The reality is that if I did not have that ultra sound, I very well might have been a victim of DVT, or some other bad deal.

I have often said, "Its 2 steps forward and 1 step back." It is trite, but real... and for me now is the time not to give up, but to press on, even carefully and slowly.

During this last week I have also read the book written by Bob and Lee Woodruff. He is the news anchor who survived the IED blast in Bagdad. For the first time, I have found someone who could put into words much of what I feel from a day to day basis. "In an Instant" has encouraged me to see how much worse it could have been for me... and that some of the things I feel inside are real...( Its hard when you feel crummy and yet on the outside you "look great.")

The phrase, "swimming in jell-o" hit me right between the eyes ( no pun intended). It is what I feel most of the days when I wake up feeling , what I call, "foggy."

It is a great book, and I will write more about it in the future.

I appreciate the prayers of everyone who reads this. The future is bright, if still a bit of an uncertainty for me.