Monday, July 28, 2008

Break Time

I am taking a "blogcation." I am officially on a break from blogging until September 1st.

I plan to travel, read, do some preaching and get ready for the fall.

When I get back, I will resume some writing about Israel ( complete with pictures), along with various updates about my wonderful family, granddaughter, and church.

See you in September


Monday, July 21, 2008

A quiet week...I hope

Most of the staff is gone this week... toughing it out in Colorado. High Temps around 65-70, cool at night...

Here- 98 today...Humidity... hottttt.

What is wrong with picture?

Aaron, James, Mike, Ben and I deserve an award. Not sure I know what it should be...

Actually, spending a week camping with 100 teenagers, sleeping in a tent, trying to focus the kids on God is ALOT harder than it looks.

So, Jim, Jared, Joe, Tim, and Matt- work hard...and come home...

How many lives have been truly changed at Youthquake over the past 25 plus years? More than we know... it is a great opportunity... Think about it... No radio, no computer, no cellphones, no text messaging...( at least it is supposed to be that way.) I am sure some first timers don't believe that there is anywhere on earth where you don't get service... SUPRISE!!!!

Its good for all of us to disconnect and hide. When I go to Oregon and head to the coast, I will do that for a few days...

Not a bad deal at all.

Friday, July 18, 2008


The other night I was leaving church and caught this view...I like the elements of the front... stained glass, lit at night... the Cross lifted high over the building...I think it sends a great message that we are a an alive church with a story which revolves around the cross of Jesus. ( See picture at right)

We are seeing stories of life change everywhere. One father talked to me last week about how God was really working in his life. He and his wife had "found" FCC a while back, after not being in church for decades. They began to talk to one of our guys...came to our Discovery 101 Seminar and then were baptized into Christ. Following that, their son went to camp, and he too was baptized into Christ.

This father told me that he senses God really working in their lives... they are reading a chapter of Proverbs each night as a family and then discussing it. There has been visible evidence of life change in their family. God is good.

Beyond the growth of these past few months, beyond the excitement of building, moving, and building some more ( yes I said "excitement", although at times it has been stressful.), are the stories...just like the gospels. They are a collection of stories...stories of encounters with Christ, life change, challenge, hope, faith and love. There are stories as well of disappointment, sorrow, and rejection.

We are called to tell the story of Christ. We are not called to be responsible for the results. That is God's department, because it is God's work. We just plant seeds, water where God wants us to and then we wait and see what happens.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baby Grace

Lizzie just sent me a couple pictures of Grace... She is beautiful.


A year ago we finished up one of our usual VBS programs. Hundreds of kids, hundreds of workers... lots of publicity in the community. It was really great. I love VBS at First Christian Church. I love its potential to reach children. I love its potential to give people a chance to serve. I love the fact that it is Bible based. It is a 17 1/2 hour summer camp for kids ( 5 days for 3 plus hours each day.)

Afterwards our Children's Minister came to me and said that his team had been working on some ideas to change VBS. That is no problem I thought. It is one of our signature events each year...but it probably needs a little sprucing up.

Well, as the details came out, we were not talking about some changes. We were talking about a complete overhaul, in every sense of the word. What the Children's Ministry team wanted to do was to kill the old style VBS and replace it with something totally different. I was less than enthusiastic. But I listened, I prayed, I asked lots of questions and I watched as the details starting coming together.

Last night we began. A big change was the fact that we were doing it in July, rather than our designated spot in June. We had that week in June reserved for years. Community people and churches stayed away from that week for their events, because they knew that the kids would be at FCC. So moving it to July was huge.

Moving it to night time was even bigger. Ours had always been a morning VBS. It had worked so well. Would evenings work? I was skeptical...but I watched and listened, prayed. I felt like it had potential.

Changing the format was even a bigger task. No longer would we have a daily craft, a music time where we taught the kids the songs for the closing program, recreation, and Bible rooms. Instead, it would take the format of a family production with lots of music, skits, a Bible story, and a challenge around the virtue of honesty.

It would take alot of technology. Alot of musical talent, alot of acting, and a huge team behind the scenes that would make things happen.

One of the aspects of the old VBS was that we had homeroom guides who spent the entire week with a group of kids... teaching them, helping them with memory work, and guiding them through the busy week. To me, it was one of the most effective parts of our VBS.

So, where were the homeroom guides this year? Here is the kicker... The homeroom guides were the PARENTS. Families came together to worship, to hear the Bible taught, and to experience the virtue first hand. And then they got to go home and talk about it.

That was the vision of Aaron and his team. He has a heart to see families worship together, and for the teaching of the Bible to be done by example and by word in the context of the family.

WELL, IT WORKED! I knew it would work when I stood outside the Worship Center and watched some families come in to FIGHT NIGHT ( FIGHT stands for Families In God Hanging Together). They were excited to be together. Moms and Dads were anticipating what was going to be done on the stage. The kids from 3 years old and up loved it.

And then to top it all off the families went into our Gathering area and did a "Craft" TOGETHER... Again, it was an awesome sight.

After the first night, the reviews are very positive. I know we will have some tweaks that need to be made... but for the first one, it was pretty great. I will let you know how the rest of the week goes...but it seems to me that we are on our way to an unqualified success. God gets the credit and glory.

But so does Aaron and His Team. His team believed in this and put the flesh to the bones as far as the plan was concerned.

But I have to say, Aaron did something pretty special. He took the vision and sold it. He sold it to our our leaders... and to our church. He led me through the change, and convinced me that it was worth the risk. He also took the risk personally, because alot of this was on him.

Last night I did not hear, "Well I wish we had the old VBS back." I think for us... that day is done. We can't turn back now.

Around here, change has been pretty monumental for us for the last couple years. . We have started saying in our meetings, "This isn't Mayberry any more." Boy that is true. But the changes have been really cool. They have been effective in us helping others know, love, serve and share him. And they have helped us identify and raise up a new generation of leaders.

Best of all, they have shown us that we can change for the Gospel's sake. I can't wait to see what's next.

Good Job Aaron and James and the Children's Ministry Team...You guys are awesome.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


It just keeps getting better...

This week, news outlets reported that Bradley Fowler sued Zondervan, a Christian Publishing house. Why? He is suing because their versions of the Bible characterize homosexuality as a sin. He says that these characterizations violate his constitutional rights, and have caused him emotional pain and emotional instability. He says that Zondervan's Bibles have caused him to be an outcast in his own family and have contributed to periods of physical discomfort, and periods of demoralization, chaos, and bewilderment.

It's a 60 million dollar lawsuit.

Bradley Fowler does not concern me. His lawsuit really doesn't either. It is nothing new to see someone decide the Bible is wrong. It is no surprise that someone would file this suit...maybe its more of a surprise that someone other than Bradley Fowler didn't do this a long time ago, and make it about what it really is...$.

I am slightly more concerned that this argument will be played in the courts (someone somewhere will listen to this lawsuit).

So, if a judge says, "Bradley, you are right. That company that wrote that mean stuff about you ought to be punished, and you ought to be rich and be able to do whatever you want...( after all this is the "land of the free"), what does that really mean?

I guess we could rewrite the Bible. ( People have been trying to do that for ages.)

I guess we could throw out chunks of the Old Testament, and chunks of I Corinthians along with the Sermon on the Mount.

I guess we would have to get used to lawsuits about adultery, stealing, anger, selfishness, coarse language, ignoring the needs of the poor and on the list goes.

We could truly become the society where no one tells us what to do, where no one says, "I think you are wrong". I think we could become a place where we are truly free to harm one another, debase our own bodies, and in general live lives that are anything but honorable and moral. ( I know, who is to say that Homosexuality is immoral?)

The best thing about the lawsuit, is that Fowler went after the wrong person. I was watching some videos recently where the phrase was used, "Don't shoot the messenger." I think this is true here. If Fowler was really ticked off about this, and if Fowler really beleives he has a case, he should take it up with the author.

GOD.... He should sue God. God has deeper pockets than Zondervan. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. God is the one who wrote the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16). God is the one who set this whole thing on earth up. God is the one who looked at Adam and said "It is not good for Man to be alone." He is the one who dreamed up the physical and emotional marvel called woman and said, "You two ought to be together." He is the one who set this order in place. So if Fowler really wants to get it "right", he should go after God.

Zondervan is small potatoes here... this is too easy. Bradley, Set up an appointment with God and sit down with him and state your case. He is easy to get ahold of.

There is another way to solve his problem. Change your lifestyle. Take the Bible at face value and look at the behavior which has caused you so much grief and change. Its a decision of the will, a decision that we all have to make everyday about everything. Homosexuals do not get a free pass here. Everyone , because of sin, has things they have to work on. We,(ME TOO), have things that are not right about our behaviors. When held up in the LIGHT of God's word, they stink. God says, "make a decision to change this." God says that he will help. God says he will forgive.

That is a pretty strong offer. God's way sounds good... but maybe it is just easier to sue the publishers of the Bible.

Remember...don't shoot the messenger. Take it up with the author.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I love living in Oklahoma! We have four seasons. They can be storms in the winter.... long dry, hot spells in the summer. Fall is the best. Cool nights, warm days...occassional thunderstorms. Spring is okay, except that the wind blows and blows. It is not my favorite.

Today, It has rained all morning. I love these days in the middle of July. Cool, wet, no wind... just a needed reprieve from 80% humidity and 95 degree temps.

I am glad I am not a weatherman. The people hate you when you get it wrong. They hate you when the forecast does not fit their activity or schedule. And they hate you when you have to break into a golf tournament or NBA Finals game to tell you that there is a tornado out in some pasture in Osage county.

I am not saying I don't have those feeling about weathermen. I probably do. I am just glad that I am not one of them.

Rather than forecasting, I think I will enjoy the weather.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Life and Death, Newborns and Born Again

Yesterday was one of those days... 4th of July weekend..attendance down a bit...I labored through the sermon in both services. (Some days are like that). Maybe it was the combination of the 4th and a sermon on $. I was kind of tired and worn down.

There was bad news about a 21 year old member of the church being killed in a boating accident on the 4th. The news was sketchy, so I said nothing...just a prayer for his mom, who had lost her husband 6 years ago to cancer. Later in the day I went to see her. Her first words were so raw. Its tough to lose a husband. It is double tough to lose a son. Wow...Funeral is Wednesday. What do you say? I am not sure, but it is on my mind alot right now. God will give me something.

Mix that with the story of a woman who has recently accepted Christ. She , her husband and I had a lengthy conversation after church. She needed a church. She was invited to a different church, but her husband asked his small group of friends about a church. The interesting thing is that he was in Bagdad Iraq, and one of the guys is an elder of our church. David got on the phone, contacted his wife who talked to this lady... Well.. what a cool thing it was Sunday. He is on leave for two weeks... He said, "The most important thing in my life is seeing her make this decision." This Sunday she will be baptized.

Mix all that with the fact that Grace, Lizzie and Nathaniel were here. Great times having a baby in the house. She is so sweet... Liz and Nathaniel are so good with her.

It all gets me to thinking... Life and Death...New-borns and born-again...there is a cycle, a process...all of which leads to the same thing...a day when we decide to look beyond this life into the next. We have to decide. And we don't know when that last day will come.

It's called "paying attention" to the really important things. Life and Death, New-borns and born again.

more later

Friday, July 04, 2008

Birthday thoughts...

4th of July.... What does it mean to you?

Today at lunch I attended a "indoor" picnic at church. About 50 Senior Adults, and some that were not so "senior" gathered together to each picnic food and to hear from Chris Benge, who is the Speaker of the House in Oklahoma. He did a good job of talking about his responsibilities, and then giving some thoughts about "What is right with America." It was nice to hear someone talk positively about our country.

After being in Israel last spring, I have come to appreciate the freedom of our country even more. While driving through the central part of Israel, we crossed into Jordan. That was not a huge deal, because we were just driving through, but it is a little unnerving to drive through a check point and see millitary personell with machine guns standing there.

After this weeks terrorist attach on Jaffa Street in Jersualem, ( a Palestinian got ahold of a front end loader and ran into cars and busses, killing 3, before he was shot to death by Israeli millitary), I thought about how safe we really are in America. It is amazing how we can come and go with little fear.

The rescue of the hostages (including 2 Americans) in Columbia brought this home even more. Some of those people had been hostages for 10 years! They were held in deplorable and inhuman condiitons. The woman in the groups said that the treatment they recieved was not fit for an animal or even a plant!

Again, we have very little fear of that happening to us here.

These and other examples demonstrate what an amazing country we live in. Speaker of the House Benge said that the establishment of this "representative republic" is the greatest experiment in human history. I think politically this is true.

However, we have to acknowledge that this "experiment" is only 232 years old. That is not all that old as countries go. We would do well to learn more from the mistakes of nations gone by to see what it is that led to their downfall. When you think that humankind is no more than 6,000 yeers old , 232 years is not that long.

This morning, as I sat in my nice home, in the middle of the USA , I looked into the eyes of baby Grace. I wondered what kind of world she would live in 18 years. What would be the headlines? What will the price of a gallon of gasoline cost? Who will be the President of the United States be? What will be the influence of Hollywood, media, and technology?

I can't answer those questions with any certainty. But I look at her and I know one thing. There is a God... He loves that little girl more than any of us could. He sent Jesus to save her from her sins...and she lives in the greatest land in the world. How can anyone look at a little baby like this and not see God?

All of that is a pretty good start on a pretty good life. And with how things are changing around us... God is the one she can hang on to, no matter how rough the ride gets.

Good thoughts for all of us.

Happy Birthday America!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Some things about this-n-that...

This summer our church has been reading a chapter a day of the book of Proverbs. For the last 5 weeks we have looked at different topics, such as words, anger, and wisdom. The response from the church has been extremely positive. I know these messages hit me where I am at right now... and it seems like the same can be said of many who attend the church. Today, we began our second round through the book. I think this is a great exercise...a chapter a day is a good start toward a life long habit. So, this month the topics from Proverbs are ......(drum roll please)..... Money, Generosity, Laziness and Lust. Quite a line up huh? We are taking this journey through Proverbs till the end of August.

This weekend is a holiday weekend.. 4th of July. AAA says people are staying home more, not going on the long trips because of Gas prices. So I was wondering... does that improve church attendance in the summer? Hard to say I suppose. Our attendance is up, but that may be more due to our "spurt" this spring. We are maintaining our constant flow of visitors each week, which is encouraging.

I just finished another article for a Christian magazine. I enjoy writing. Its the editing that wears me out. I have lots of help. Jeanna Harris, Helen and Jerry Whited and Pam have taken a look at it. It's a challenge to write, re-write, submit to friends, then re-write again....but when you feel good about it and put it in the envelope, there is good sense of accomplishment. I think writing a whole book would be amazing.I have an idea for a book, and a couple chapters along with an introduction written. But there is no telling how long that will take.

Adding to my list of new experiences... I had an interesting experience in the hospital a few weeks ago...It was a funny deal, and after getting permission from the person involved, I submitted it to "All in a Day's Work" in Reader's Digest. I did it on-line, and then got this note back. It said, "Thanks for your submission. We will let you know if we decide to use it." Not exactly personal, but it fullfilled my need to know if they really got it or if it was floating around there in cyber-space somewhere. Want to know what it was.... Well, you will have to wait to see if they use it. I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Speaking of long holiday weekend, Grace makes her road trip debut this weekend with a jaunt to Owasso. I can't wait to see her (and Nathaniel and Lizzie). I haven't seen her since she was born! So she is nearly 3 weeks old now... Should be a fun weekend for all of us.

Hope to pick up a couple pictures of Grace, which I will post next week.