Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A friend I do not know well was recently sharing their frustration over the "marks" their child was leaving around the house. Granted, these were not ordinary. The child had recently been in a accident and their recovery required the use of assistive devices. Because of the abandon with which the child moved through the home, Physical changes were being withdrawn from the halls.
Frustration was setting in.

This is understandable, I know. Many parents have been this way at different times. Some more than others.

The state of perfection that some of us seem to require, does not always make sense. We all know people who insist that any item they purchase be flaw free. If you purchases a refrigerator and when it is delivered it comes with a couple of minor scratches (even easily correctable ones), many would insist it be replaced, as they did not intentionally buy a scratched unit.

Another example might be the purchase of a new article of clothing that has a minor snag in part of the stitching that does not show, some would insist it be replaced, or money be taken off the asking price. I am not saying this is wrong. One should be happy with what they spend their hard earned money on. But where do you draw the line. Some infractions bear no true difficulty for the buyer other than the awareness of it.

I am wired in a different way. I will shop at the scratch and dent store because the mars in the facade of many products do not bother me. I have raised three children. I know what sudden decorating tips they decide to impose when they are idle and alone for a few moments with a crayon.

It used to be bother me a great deal. When she was young, my eldest decided that drawing on the walls was a good idea. When she was confronted about it, she was quite insistent that she had not participated in such a foolish activity. Nevermind that her only sibling at the time would have viewed a crayon as food at that point in her young life.

Those things used to stress me way too much.

I have always been an underdog kind of guy. I almost always root for them. When I am watching a game, unless I have particular allegiance for a team, I pull hard for the lesser of the two.

I like the movie the "Princess Bride." Most guys do...but most won't admit it. Remember the scene where Wesley is adorned as the "Dread Pirate Roberts" and is fighting the "Giant?" Suddenly Wesley realizes he is making no impact in his quest to defeat the "Giant" and asks him if he is taking it easy on him. The "Giant" replies, "I want you to feel you are doing well."

I love that scene. Although this attitude is often portrayed as weakness (remember, Wesley bests the "Giant" after that), it would be me. When the odds are stacked against the lesser, I want to know that they feel they are doing well.

Perfection is expected by many of us in our material possessions. It is required in our grades, projects or achievements. We even require it of our children. The issue is, we require it in areas that don't matter. We are seeking to put on a perfect front. We want those looking in, to see that our house, car, family and work, etc. are all perfect.

They aren't. We waste so much energy with the insistence of that which is for the most part, unattainable.

If only we invested a similar amount of energy in our walk with Christ.

I am not asserting we should celebrate our shortcomings, only that we need to give room for failure. Failure is the crucible of learning.

How we handle failure, and how we respond to failure in others, says a lot about where we truly are in our own relationship with Jesus.

Success should bring glory to God, not man.

When our Father in Heaven looks at us, He does so through the blood of His Son Jesus. Our perfection came at the cost of scars still which still adorn the Lamb.

Give me gouged and scribbled walls. Not only do they carry with them many joyful memories, I can see myself in them.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Returning home from Texas, I enjoyed my drive. I passed through the Choctaw Nation. The music in my car that day was that of Native Americans. I enjoy this, but my children fear I have gone "new age" when they find it in the cd player. They do not connect it as I do. It does not have the same meaning for them.

Grassy sprawls chased up, out of the valley to forested rims above. The treelines traced camel back peaks down the horizon as far as my eye could see. Rigid rock formations jutted from the earth on high, magnified by the azure sky. I was taken back to my youth (no, not when the cowboys and Indians fought) where the delight of the days of the Indian were my dream.

My father had grown up near the Wisconsin Dells and we would return to that place where I would get to see Native American ceremonies. I dreamed of being clad in soft deerskin and dancing among them. I envied their children. They had such cool clothes to wear. Yet I knew nothing of their plight.

Magnificent, was the word that came to mind when I saw the Chief draped in eagles feathers, bear claws and painted with great care. How I wanted to be a brave that rode the hill country and lived life the simple ways I saw in him. Dreams of a child have no flaws.

I left the land of the Choctaw and entered the Creek Nation. I could see Indian scouts racing the plain beside. Pressing toward the bison that were sacred to them. It meant food and warmth and plenty.

These are pictures from my youth that mean a great deal to me. Every child has dreams of what they would like to be. My son dreamt of swordplay, and coming to the rescue of those in need. He would always arrive, just in time, and though he may give his life in the battle, he would set the captives free.

It did not matter, death in those days was but a moment or two. Then he'd return to the battle...he'd live on for another day.

Seeing life through the eyes of a child is something we lose along our way.

Landscapes hewn by the breath of God, and eroded by the leathery, wrinkled hands of time, wane in their importance. What was majestic has become the backdrop to progress. Valor and honor can be bought for the right price.

Recently, a young man sat across from me and told me that the Lord had asked him what he would do with his life if it was soon to be taken from him. He only hesitated for a moment at the precipice of martyrdom. He knew what he must do. What happened to him along the way was unimportant.

This is where honor and courage the hearts of the young. Somehow, the winds of days gone by have swept away our resolve.

I now reside somewhere between the Cherokee and Creek Nations. There flows no "Indian blood" through my veins, but waiting for the right moment rests the heart of a Lion...the Lion of Judah!


Monday, January 29, 2007

I understand that there would be certain benefits for this conversation with Lyn to continue in a public forum. I also understand that there is great potential for hurt and pain to come down (intended or not) on both sides. I am frequently reminded of how many people are reading this site, and I do not believe it to be in everyone's best interest for this to continue here.

The issue at hand is of utmost importance and relevant for our day. There are many on both sides who harbor animosity for those opposed to them. Here, fear and judgment often replace Holy Spirit led direction, common sense and good will. While this forum could seem to be a benign way of sharing, in a manner that is not particularly painful, it would be hard for us to be fair in monitoring comments. What I construe as painful and might be tempted to delete, may in fact not be.

Simultaneously, this issue is intensely personal. I love Lyn and her partner. We are blessed to be able to spend time with them at holidays and other times. They are precious to me, and to my family. I do not want this to change, regardless of any outcome of this discussion.

Therefore, while I know that writing about it in the first place opened the discussion up, I do not intend for it to continue on I intend to conduct this privately, via e-mail or other more personal options.

I would ask that all parties interested please take the issue to prayer, and do so with all of your heart. It will not be resolved today or tomorrow. Even if it were in my family, it would not be for the community at large.

I do not yet have Lyn's blessing on this. However, the purpose of this website it to bring honor and glory to God, and to preserve the memory of our son and the life he spent for Christ. The Lord has given us this gift to be used to draw others closer to Him. I believe that without a doubt, the best way to attempt to continue this is to steer away from this topic. I believe that the continued open discussion would bring about unintended results. I do not mean for this to be hurtful to Lyn or any other person. The Lord God values each one of us.

All responses up to this point have been understandable. I just respectfully request that we be allowed to continue our discussion in private. If at some point it seems prudent to bring it back to this forum, I will remain open to that.

The most important thing that anyone can do now, is to pray for the wisdom of our Father in Heaven to be shared through His Holy Spirit with us as we continue on. Thank you for understanding.

I believe the Holy Spirit moved mightily at Texoma Christian School on Friday, and at Parkview yesterday. What an honor and privilege to serve the One who sacrificed all, that we may have Life! Thank you for your prayer support for the people of those two places!


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Late this afternoon, I will be sharing our testimony at Parkview Baptist Church, Tulsa, Ok. This will happen as part of a Rite of Passage Parenting/Missions emphasis day. Walker Moore is preaching in the morning and evening services, and he and I are doing the breakout sessions this late afternoon.

Please pray for the Lord to move and for obedience to follow quickly as a result.


Friday, January 26, 2007

When you start over, getting to know people is a process that takes time. I’m thankful for a husband and patient adult daughters who listen and care so much. Yet today I had an opportunity to have a personal conversation with a few ladies at school. It’s happened a few times, so I know Sapulpa is special and God put me there on purpose.

When people say to me “I admire you for going on,” I have mixed feelings.

I appreciate what they are saying. I like that they are acknowledging my grief and my loss. It is indeed… devastating. It is so much more healing to hear these words than for people to not talk to me at all. I know it’s a terribly vulnerable and uncomfortable subject and words are inadequate. I know these words are an effort to encourage me. I also know they are really not able to imagine losing a child, and who would want to try anyway? It’s an unnatural reality that none of us want to have as our own.

If I did not go on, what would I do? It wouldn’t bring BJ back. Unfortunately, nothing we can do or not do will bring him back. From his perspective now, he surely wouldn’t want to come back. It’s a ridiculous train of thought, yet we miss him, so we keep wanting to bring him back.

I want to argue that I don’t really have a choice, but I know I do. I could isolate myself, let the bitterness in, wallow in self pity and be angry. Those choices are not too far from my imagination, yet I pray against the temptation to give in to them. I know they would be very self destructive and cause even more hurt in the family.

Because I choose to press on, do I love my son less? It’s an unfathomable question I know, but still, grief is not always logical. In my heart, I know we would dishonor BJ and his memory if we didn’t forge ahead with whatever God has for us.

Thankfully, God has allowed us to see His hand working through people all around us because of BJ. Brent recently received an email from a college student speaking of BJ’s influence in her life, and she never knew him. She simply read the website, namely, his journal entries. It’s the biggest comfort we have been afforded. BJ’s life has made and is still making a difference. It’s an incredible blessing to receive.

I guess I can hardly wait to hear the whole story, you know, like Paul Harvey’s “the rest of the story”? What was happening in the heavenlies through our six week journey in the hospital? What was and is God thinking anyway? Our perspective of God and how He works is getting stretched for sure, but I’m positive we still have no idea.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways,
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My mouth:
It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:8-10

We can trust His Word. We can trust His ways. We can rest in Him. We can rest in His purposes. He is all knowing and wise. He sees beyond what we see. He holds our hand when we are discouraged and don’t understand. He listens when no one else will. He hears our cries and sends help just in time.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Today, I leave for Denison, Texas. I will be sharing tomorrow morning with the students at Texoma Christian School. Some of these students were among the Lord's faithful who followed BJ through his journey in the hospital. This is an evangelical school which means one does not need to be a believer to attend. There are Hindu's, Muslims and others who have never given their hearts to Christ, who will be present. Pray for these who are "lost," the ones who don't know Him. Please pray that the Lord will raise up many to take BJ's place in missions.

A question was raised yesterday (in the comment section) that I want to speak to. Perhaps it is only an issue of context, but I want to be sure there is understanding.

As believers, we use the word "lost" to refer to those who have never given their hearts to Christ. They may believe in Him (as Satan does), but they have not surrendered their lives to Him or His Lordship. This word is used in many places in the Old and New Testaments.

Luke 15 is one of the primary places of focus for today. Here, Jesus is using stories which represent a point He is trying to make. In doing so, He refers to the "lost" as those who are not a part of His fold.

One can ask, didn't you have to be a part of the fold in the first place to get "lost?"

This is a fair question, but when you read the Bible as a whole, it is understood and implied that when Adam and Eve fell, man was separated from God at that point. The text shows us that. The New Testament refers to it in 1 Cor. 15:22 where it says, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."

Adam's sin has separated all men and women from God. Christ was sent to restore that relationship. He was the One referred to as the sacrificial lamb. He is also referred to as the Good Shepherd.

So in Luke 15 when Jesus talks using stories, this is understood as background.

In Luke 15:4 where He says, "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?"

The picture we get is not about repetitively becoming lost and refound. If you read on, you see that the shepherd calls all his friends together to celebrate the one who was lost, and now is found.

The story means that those of us who have never given our hearts to Christ are lost. When we come to this understanding, and the Holy Spirit moves in our hearts to help us recognize this, and we ask Jesus to be our Savior, then we see the completion of this picture...we once were lost, and now we're found.

Some churches have tried to remove the element of the Holy Spirit moving on us, from the equation. John 6:44 says, "No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him."

This verse reveals that we come to Jesus, after the Father has moved (through the Holy Spirit according to other Scripture) in our lives to draw us to Him. This cannot be orchestrated by words we are made to say when we reach a certain age. The time the Father draws us is different for each of us.

We cannot say we were baptized at birth and therefore saved. There is no Scriptural background for this. Neither can we send all of our children through specific classes at the conclusion of which they read or recite specific words and are therefore saved. The Father draws us, not the orchestrations of men.

Back in Luke 15:11-31, we have the Parable of the Lost Son. This story shows us a picture of how when we are young, we make bad decisions. We get greedy or self-centered and want everything right now. We try to orchestrate getting all we can when we want it.

The Lord created us with a free will. Because of this, we can choose to follow our own path...just as the prodigal son did. Motivated by how dire his circumstances became after taking things into his own hands, he realized how wrong (or lost) he was.

He came to his senses. The Father draws many of us to Him through difficult circumstances in our own lives or that which we witness in the lives of others. When the prodigal son returned home, his father was watching and waiting for him. He had a great feast on behalf of a son who was "lost" but now was "found." As a matter of fact, the passage ends in those very words..."[he] was dead and is alive, he was lost and is found." v31

The Word says that the angels in heaven rejoice tremendously over lost souls that come to Christ. Jesus gave us that picture in His own words in Luke 15.

Once we have given our heart to Christ, the Word teaches that the Father then sees us as perfect. He does so, because He sees us through the lens of His perfect Son Jesus, whose blood washed away (or paid the price of) our sin.

2 Cor.1:21-22 says, "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ, He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Once we have given our heart to Christ, it doesn't mean we will stop struggling, but we are forgiven (we are found). We receive His Holy Spirit at our conversion as a deposit to prove that the Father has set His seal of ownership on our lives.

It is secure. Then we must seek to follow hard after Him.

Some get this at a very early age (like BJ), others don't get it until much later in life. Regardless, when the Father draws you, it is your time to surrender to the Lordship and authority of Jesus Christ in your life.

Simply ask Him to be your Savior and Lord, and confess your sin to Him. His word says in 1 Timothy 2:5, "for there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

You can be His and free, today.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Last night, Deanna and I went to dinner to celebrate our 24th Anniversary. This was our rescheduled date since we were "iced in" last time. We headed out during a heavy traffic time and the stoplights were backed up with cars.

We sat and shared with each other about our days. As we did, I looked in my rearview mirror. What I saw was a bit romantic. The couple in the Jeep behind us were each leaning to the center in an affectionate kiss.

I kind of laughed, and told Deanna what I saw. The light changed and we pulled forward. The Jeep did not. They were too occupied. I noticed the driver lean out of the embrace a bit to see they had been left behind.

I had become the play by play man to keep Deanna up to date. We continued to laugh playfully. She did not want to turn around because it would be too obvious. I was starting to feel a bit voyeuristic, but I took another peek. We were on our Anniversary date, and this was clearly romantic (I justified). They had caught back up to us. We were now the first car at the light.

At first I thought someone had pulled in between us, because what I saw I did not expect. Then, another kiss. This was the same couple. Maybe it was their anniversary too.

The light turned green, I offered my final off-color commentary, and we were on our way.

We enjoyed our meal and our time together. It was very meaningful to both of us. We got lost in each other, and quickly forgot about the couple.

As I thought and prayed about what to say this morning, the Lord reminded me about the devotions I was writing yesterday, for an upcoming event at work.

"How do you respond when you see the lost?" was the topic. I ventured into the fact that we often pass judgment on others for their lifestyles or overt sinfulness. We do this freely without giving it a second thought. Unfortunately, we learn this in many of our churches across America.

Our response is not Jesus' response. At least mine isn't, even though I like to think it is. The Lord showed me otherwise.

In Matthew 9:35-36 it says, "Jesus went through all the towns and villages...When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

The greek word used to describe Jesus' reaction is "splagnizomi." It literally means, he was sick to his stomach.

I must tell you, I thought I experienced the same thing. I was wrong. Jesus was sick to his stomach over their lostness, over their need for a shepherd, over the fact that he knew how things could be for them if they received Him. They were going about what they were doing because they did not know any better. They did not know because no one was telling least not anyone with compassion for their circumstances.

I was sick because my stomach turned over something I found unacceptable. Compassion was not a part of my equation.

We are all too willing to tell people their problems with a judgmental attitude. Jesus wants our sickness to be over their lostness, not over their chosen sin. When we preach from that place, we do so with compassion. When we reach out to them with that attitude, then we are acutely aware of our own failures in a different light...a non-judgmental one.

The couple behind us were both women.

I passed judgment on them over their chosen lifestyle. The Lord Jesus has shown me a new attitude. One void of condescending holiness. One that is Holy Spirit filled. Yes, I know what Romans 1 and other passages of Scripture say. I don't disagree.

He showed me that I cannot have a positive impact on anyone else's life if judgment is my weapon of choice. I need to wield the love and compassion of Christ for the lost, not my own "steel-toed, kick them into conformity," approach.

"For God so LOVED..."


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Too many times in my life have I walked dangerously close to blatant disregard for the Holiness of the Lord. Too many times, have I let Him down.

I am a passionate person. I was created to be such. In the past, one of the ways the enemy would distract me from my focus on Jesus, was through new interests or hobbies. These would begin as a casual interest, and over time, usually a short amount of it, I would become so passionate about my chosen interest, that I would become obsessive.

Some have told me I have an obsessive personality. They are probably right. The things I would choose to cling to were things that were harmless on the surface, but became idols in my life because I chose to give them so much attention.

Part of these were welcome distractions from the perceived stress and tension of life. That apparently is my weakness and entry point for the enemy. I tend not to recognize growing passion or its transition to obsessive behavior while it is occurring. At least this is how it used to be.

I like to think that is behind me, but at times I am not so sure.

Certainly there were times that I would draw my family into my "hobby" so that I could justify the time I spent on it. An example is cycling...bicycling...not the motor kind.

It began as exercise to increase my activity level. I was suffering from depression, and my doctor told me I needed to get active, to get an occasional endorphin rush. That would only come if I got exercise.

I got a bike, and I got crazy. I spent thousands of hours a year completing 10's of thousands of miles on the road. I was in great shape. I grew out of depression, right into obsession.

I got bikes for my family. That seemed to be the answer to all the time I was now spending away from them. We would do rides together. BJ liked to lead. He was small, maybe 5 years old. He really loved riding too, but at his young age, and small size, his little legs were completing many more revolutions per minute than the rest of ours. He would not complain, but clearly got a better workout than the rest of us.

Upon return home, I would have to go out an "burn up" the road, as the time with my family was slow and only a warm up. I became very good at it. The Lord blessed me with significant lung capacity, and the ability to breath well during exertion. I became very competitive. My weekends were planned out in advance. My families schedule revolved around my riding habits. If we left town, even to drive an hour away, my bike went along. When we arrived, I was out on the road, working it out.

In towns we visited I would connect with riding clubs. They became my family, as my own were back at home. Deanna tried to talk to me about it from time to time, but I wasn't listening. "I need this," I thought. I was no longer depressed, so it was obviously helping me, right?

My heroes became cycling greats. I met Greg LeMond (3 time Tour de France champion). I rubbed elbows at times with professional cyclists. I loved it. This was my element.

As I began to realize what was happening to me, I cut out an 'ichthus' (Christian fish) an put it on my bike. I Christianized my I could be a witness.

Problem was, I was not setting a good example for my children, and my relationship with Christ suffered.

In the ensuing months, as God recaptured my attention, our lives began to change for the better. He redirected my passion to the things of Jesus Christ. I began to devour every (Christian) book I could get my hands on. I learned rapidly. I grew significantly. So did my family.

I learned many important lessons. One was, my children are watching and emulating me. I needed to pattern my life after Jesus, so they would do the same. I could no longer offer up empty lip service to my King. My children saw it, called me on it, and change was necessary.

These became the years the Lord used in BJ's life. He saw his father change dramatically. He saw passion for Christ, desperation for winning the lost, and need for loving and encouraging family.

The Lord used this time in my sons life to radically grow and transform him for Kingdom work. He was found faithful.

It sounds as though I am claiming credit. I am not. I caused suffering in my family. After responding to the Lord's call to obedience, HE DID GREAT THINGS in BJ's life!
I give Him all the glory and praise for what He did.


Monday, January 22, 2007

The 10"'s of snow we were to get here in Tulsa, turned out to be...just rain. The temperature remained just above freezing and melted much of the ice that held us captive. Deanna is back in school today.

I do find it interesting how disappointed I felt. I got up Saturday morning, and looked outside, as we had been told the snow may begin after midnight. It had not started.

Later, I turned on the t.v. and saw it was still headed our way, but had been revised down to 5"'s. Periodically throughout the day, I checked...and rechecked, but it never came. How can they be sooo wrong?

There is nothing quite like 'hope' in our lives. I kept hoping it was coming. Not because I wanted more "frozen home" syndrome, but because I love snow. I love how everything looks after it has blanketed the surroundings. It is beautiful.

There is still something romantic about being snowed in (even after you've just been iced in). Churches everywhere cancelled services in anticipation of the weather. We waited. Nothing happened.

Oh we still managed to enjoy the romance of it. Anticipation impacts that front in a significant way. We watched movies, worked on the inside of our home, Deanna made two kinds of hot soup, and we even spent time with friends.

When I think back on the number of times in my life that I 'hoped' for something that did not come to pass, I realize the number is not small. However, it never dampens my enthusiasm.

As a child, I often hoped for forecast snow in winter, and lay in bed listening to the radio, hoping school would be cancelled. It never happened as often as I wished. The warmth and comfort of my bed in those moments was unlike anything else. It hugged me tight, and tempted me to drift back to sleep. Inevitably, I'd have to get up and go to school. But I still hoped.

I had an early morning paper route through many of those years. Laying warm in bed was a luxury to me. I remember how a blizzard swept my hometown in 1978. Drifts were literally as high as the homes and businesses in our community. We missed a lot of school during that period. Progress ground to a wintry halt. I remember hiking five miles across our city in the midst of it. I saw abandoned cars filled with driven snow. Entire car lots where the cars had disappeared under winter's worst.

I still delivered my papers. I remember being bundled up, and trudging through the snow. It took many, many hours to complete a route that normally took me an hour or so. Many of my customers were up and waiting for me when I arrived at their door. Their anticipation for their morning paper was more important than I realized.

Most of them invited me in. That was the week I started drinking coffee. It was bitterly cold outside, the snow was very deep, and it was hard to find my way from place to place. Any tracks I left would be gone the next day as the wind drifted my path shut. Many of my customers had the coffee pot on, and though I was a teenager, I began to drink it just to take the edge off of winters bite. I usually completed my route in the dark...the snow brought light to wee hours.

How I longed through the years for another storm like that. It never came. It still hasn't. I do enjoy the snow, and I hold hope for it to come again.

When Beej was in the hospital, hope was our "constant companion." It ebbed and flowed, as one can imagine, but it was always there. Near the end, when he began to fade quickly, hope remained. We believed, and we knew that our Lord had the power to bring him restore him quickly, if it was His will.

When he passed, though it was early fall, the blade of winters razor edge pierced our warm hope. We were devastated. The hope for his life, became the hope for the Lord's quick return. How could such a cruel end meet such a faithful young man?

I remember teaching my children to make snowballs. We built snow forts complete with secret tunnels and escape routes. We made snow angels. We went on winter hikes. We had a great deal of joy in missed days of school and work. We spent them together laughing, watching movies and drinking hot cocoa.

My fondness for this time of year will likely never wane. The anticipation I have for snow filled days has as its hallmark, incredible memories of time spent, love and the jovial approval of my children's voices.

That one of them was taken home early has brought a new hope to my life. I understand why the Lord made the decision He did. I am not bitter, or angry. I am filled with anticipation of what it will one day be like.

I stood beside him and worshipped my Lord while he was here. I will kneel beside him to bring honor to my King, again. The days of memories will be past. Each moment will be laden with the fulfillment of every anticipation. Where Hope resides, there will be Jesus! The embodiment of our dreams. His Light will transcend the boundaries of hope lost. His luminance will bring anticipation with resolution to each moment.
No more tears, no more pain. Just Jesus! Amen.


Friday, January 19, 2007

I have had the opportunity to see the leadership styles of many people in my life. Some were extremely effective, some barely. Some inspired others to work hard, some intimidated others to labor. To be honest, few stand out in my mind as true leaders.

Many have thought they were. Somehow, in our society a wrong message is conveyed to the youth of our culture. These students want to be esteemed among their peers. Popularity is the vehicle for many to begin leading. Popularity, like fame is a fleeting falsehood. There is little rhyme or reason to who becomes so, and it is often based on superficial vagrancy.

I feel like I have been watching such people rise and fall from ringside seats.

The recipe is often the same. For varying reasons, one is recognized for an accomplishment and placed in a position of authority. Unfortunately, too little training has been invested, and they rely upon skills that are underdeveloped. Their momentum is based on "positive press" and they forge ahead without the proper weaponry to face their well-armed foe.

One of the common mistakes, is believing in their "15 minutes" instead of recognizing and building upon the elemental giftedness that has been briefly awakened, and drawn from.

There is no strength in the platform of popularity. It is weak and not well supported. What excites your followers one day will make them weary the next. There must be training, and there must be passion. Otherwise, the foundation will crumble like the house built upon the sand.

In the student culture, I have often encountered students who believed they were ready for leadership and declared themselves as such. Then what normally follows, is a circle of onlookers watch as the self-proclaimed leader, fails.

True leaders understand that you must first be a good follower. If you cannot follow, you will not know what the foundation of leadership is built upon. As a follower invests in pursuing the goals set by the leader, he begins to discover the process of realizing the achievement of dreams.

Confidence is built, experience is stored and a foundational structure begins.

In my experience, the students who make the best leaders are the ones who have followed hard, and invested much into the belief that the one they were following knew what they were doing.

More times than not, that leader was elevated from the ranks of the hard-working. They did not one day say, "I am now going to be a leader," press themselves into that role, and find success.

The best leaders ply their passion into hard work, and lead by example, not by word of mouth.

One of my roles is to recognize leadership quality, pursue and invest in those students, and help them develop. It is a responsibility I often feel ill-equipped to fulfill. I never mind when one comes to me and says, "I really want to be in leadership." That is a place to begin.

I do object to those who say, "I won't work with you if you don't make me one of your leaders." Those people are usually believing in prideful platitudes. They are often arrogant and refuse to realize it. Yes, they have desire, but too often, they forge ahead willing to bring the whole team down based on their own allusions of ability, when their foundation is void of necessary components.

We have at our disposal, the example of the best leader who walked the earth. He was a servant. His desire was to be obedient to the will of His Father. He did not seek self promotion. He resisted it entirely, until the time was right. Even when He became the ultimate leader, He remained a servant. He did this by example. He did this by the way He lived His life.

We need to stop idolizing the wrong people. We need to invest in serving. Don't believe in your own press. Believe in the One who believes in you.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

I remember when I was much younger and I enjoyed listening to the radio at above average volumes. In my lifetime, "above average" has always been a good thing, and so it is with this lens that I choose to focus.

I can remember getting into trouble when my dad would start the car, and within a couple of seconds the enormity of sound would stress the factory speakers, and press into that enclosed space causing the windows to rumble. Distortion is a word that explains those moments. Both the sound and the physical reaction from my father.

He was a gentle loving man, but when introduced to unexpected attacks of sound waves, he got a little "distorted." I don't think I made that mistake more than once or twice. It's just that, there were times when the radio in my dad's stationary car was my only escape.

I think forgetting the minor detail of turning the volume back down and receiving the unexpected, has helped shape my attention to detail.

When my own children were younger, I remember having to go to them and "request" they
turn down their stereo. Of course, my request went unnoticed the first time as their is something about loud noises that dulls all of your other senses. I guess at that point I found it necessary to make a point. So in fun (for me, not them) I would lift my voice above their stereo's.

It is pretty amazing how hard it is to find the volume control on your own stereo when you are under the impression your world is coming to an abrupt end.

Honestly, that did not happen all that often, but I do remember having to intervene on a few occasions.

After BJ passed, I would go into his room (when no one was home) and turn on his stereo. He had speakers that were hard to stress. The level of sound became a visceral experience. Kind of like sitting at a stoplight in certain areas of town, when the pimp-mobile pulls up next to you, and the bass sub causes your insides to do involuntary gymnastics.

That is pretty loud. For brief moments, I felt a connection I cannot explain. My connection would enter into a worship experience. I was lifting praises to my Lord at volumes that would have embarrassed my children. Yet somehow, just letting go, and giving my unabashed all to the Lord was such a sweet experience.

Loud music is something Deanna and I have never really shared an affinity for. This could explain why I say "what?" a lot at this point in my life. I liked being at concerts and standing by the speakers. I couldn't hear for many hours I can't hear her when she's in the next room.

Imagine then, my surprise this morning as I gathered to spend some time with the Lord, turned on the worship cd (in that same stereo of BJ's) and leaned over to check the volume and it digitally shouted a number near 20! In case your not sure, that is very, very loud.

Guess what? It wasn't me. Oh yes, I had listened to music two nights ago, but set the volume around 5...a level where you can talk and listen at the same time.

I think somebody else in my family...lets see, I've been at work, and my daughters are in Indiana...must have been cranking up the volume, and letting the worship fly!

The secret is out. Someone pretends she doesn't like it loud, but I think a new phase of praise has escaped her lips...and if I'd been home, I think I might have needed to ask that it be turned down.

Let your praise and worship bring glory to the King of Kings!


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It has been such a blessing for me to have Deanna write these past two days. I found my rest in her enthusiasm. The joy she brings to this place is such an encouragement.

She remains home as her school continues to be closed due to the ice that grips this area of the country. It has been a delight for her to be home. She has enjoyed her time away, and it has been good for her. She has found much to do in settling into this home. Her glee overflows as she talks about it. We are so thankful to have this place of our own.

It is very intriguing to me how the Lord affirms to His children the decisions they make. There is no doubt that we sought His wisdom in the process of what kind of house to buy. Our home has emptied its contents of youth. We both thought that we would look for a small home as a result.

As we began to look at home after home after home, it became clear as we prayed through it, that we were to look for a place that was similar in size to what we have had. We felt like this would be waste. We struggled to come to the conclusion that this would be right. However, as we narrowed the field of possibilities, this home that we initially rejected without physically seeing, kept rising to the surface.

Once we had been inside, we were quite taken by it. We did not like the outside. We were unsure about the area it was in. We nearly avoided it altogether. The charms of this home uniquely fit us and our needs.

The subtleties of how uniquely equipped it was to host us did not all emerge until we moved in. Little by little we would discover nuances that drew us in and served to reflect our Savior's genuine love for us.

It is always our desire to include the Lord in each of our decisions. Sometimes, we fail to actually wait and listen to that input. Each day He seems to reveal to us that His hand was in this. We are very thankful.

Yes, it has been our belief that we would no longer need much space because we no longer had children at home. Incredibly, the Lord has blessed us, even at that very point. We have been wrong.

Since moving in, our home has been host to many young people. They are not children in their own minds. They are certainly adults from the perspective of taking on Kingdom responsibilities. But to us, they are our sons and daughters. They are our family. They are welcome here.

We have been blessed to become a stopover place for students from around the country. A place they can come and share a meal, take a nap, catch a shower, and just fellowship in Jesus Name.

We do not take this for granted. We have been granted this privilege, because of our loving Savior.

The joy that fills our home has been birthed from pain. The joy that fills our home has its roots in obedience and sacrifice.

Deanna received a picture frame for Christmas that resembles chiseled stone. Etched deep within its recesses are the words, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

We are twice blessed, and doubly compelled to share that which has been given to us, from that which was withdrawn.


A young lady named Katie spent this last semester as a missionary in Peru. Upon her return, she has taken ill with undiagnosed issues. Her brother, Kevin, walked with our Lauren through the six weeks BJ was in the hospital. Yesterday, Kevin took his sister to meet their parents, and they headed to the hospital in Wheaton, Ill. where they live. The issue is not respiratory in nature, but the concern needs our prayer support. Would you please lift them up?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Technology is such a wonderful and terrible thing. Wonderful in that communication is not limited to anywhere in the world that provides internet. Terrible in that we have more gadgets to keep us busy and not face to face with people. Wonderful for when weather prevents you from venturing out (we're "iced" in again) and you want to maintain some contact with loved ones. Terrible that we can be easily deceived and distracted, like we are short on distractions in this world...

Brent has talked with our nephew in Peru several times and he's been able to call home about every day since he left. Obviously, he's in a city (Lima) right now. Quick story: Derek met Junior! OK that may not mean anything to you so let me explain. Junior was the translator for both Awestar teams BJ went with in 2004 and 2005! Crazy, small world we live in! Derek was wearing an Awestar shirt and that's how they figured out the connection.

A week or so after BJ's funeral, I was on the internet and I had logged in under BJ's name. We were so thankful his password was automatic and we could peruse through things he had written and said, conversations saved and stuff. Junior IM'd me expressing his condolences. I thanked him - it was my first experience on IM and I still don't ever communicate that way. Then he wrote back asking me who I was! It hadn't dawned on me, that he wouldn't know who was using BJ's log-in. Across the miles, I think we both laughed. I've never met Junior but I hope to this summer.

Seldom in my life have we truly been snowed in, and I've never been "iced" in. Honestly, it is strange. You go outside to walk on what looks like snow and you don't sink down in it. Even cars don't penetrate the icy blocks. We thought our car was going to scrap the ceiling of the garage pulling out because of the pile of snow it backed out on top of. It is treacherous out there.

I worry for our young friends who have cabin fever and insist on getting out in it. First of all, 12 people have died since this all started. Is it that we can't be still? That is my thought. I don't think we know how to be still and rest. We have so much to entertain and distract us that when we take a break from the rat race, we get restless. Resting is foreign to us. Instead of rejuvenating us, we get depressed because we're not doing anything.

Rob Bell, a pastor at Mars Hill, says "We're addicted to productivity." He makes some good points including that people who work in the animal world have learned that animals in a zoo can't be on display for more than 6 days. They go crazy or something. They have to house them one day a week. He talks of the natural rhythms of our lives and imagine this, God, our Creator, made us this way on purpose! There are rhythms to each day and week. Pastors, for instance, experience an adrenaline rush on Sunday, Mondays they're coming off but Tuesday is when they typically "crash." Since he knows this, he is better able to prepare for it. Another point he makes is that before going to bed, you don't want to do something to get your mind racing. He used to get caught up on emails before bed. He found this was not a good idea because his mind couldn't shut down for the night.

Is it hard for you to take a rest from being productive? Productivity is good, we want to use our time wisely, but in using our time wisely, in the name of productivity are we shortchanging ourselves of the "peace that passes all understanding?" (Philippians 4:7)

I love times like this. I can always find something to do, but maybe I'll try to pull myself in today. Can I just relax and rest in Him? Listen to worship music and meditate on scripture? Do nothing? It's my challenge for the day.

Can we ever quote this one too much?
Psalms 46:10 and 11 "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

I love the first part of Psalms 46 also. A friend of mine in college wrote a song with the exact words (and it's beautiful) so I never have trouble remembering it. verses 1-3 say "God is my refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their swelling pride."

Before I close, I have a few prayer concerns. Two of our cousins are facing some pretty serious issues concerning their ministry. One is married with three children, one is single. Lift them up today. God knows.


Monday, January 15, 2007

I'm so thankful that Brent has had a passion for the upkeep of this website. It's been such a positive focus for us to express ourselves.

Even though the weather has been icy and kept us indoor bound, we haven't minded too much. Doing nothing suits me fine. A little cleaning, a little scrapbooking and watching movies has been the order of the day. Our school is out for the Martin Luther holiday, so I have one more day of leisure - whoo hoo!

The Proverbs 31 woman is the scriptural ideal. She sounds super human. She doesn't even sleep for crying out loud. She kind of annoys me. Who can measure up to those standards? I certainly do not measure up to the kind words my husband generously gives.

The previous music teacher at my school (a guy) was named "Teacher of the Year" his third year at the school. The sales lady at the music store here in town refers to him as "sharp." Now why should I feel put down for these things? My logic tells me I'm being unreasonable, but these facts, not even about me, make me feel that I don't measure up, however illogical that may be.

Articles were written about our son after his death, one in particular in the Baptist Messenger called "The Measure of a Man." I scrapped it yesterday. I even found some ribbon that looked like a ruler - (I was pretty excited about that find!) BJ truly didn't have any titles other than the ones we gave him: son and friend. He wasn't president of anything or the star of a team or anything like that, yet we are assured that he found favor with God and was found faithful in his short life. That is huge! He didn't have titles, but he had a whopper of a testimony. My prayer over and over is to be thankful for the gift of my son and be inspired to live with HOPE because God doesn't forsake us. He gives us our own testimony.

Billy and Cindy Foote are hands down my favorite worship leaders. I love them, they inspire my deepest, most heartfelt worship! It is a travesty that you don't hear them on Christian radio. Billy said this and I echo his sentiments: "Every week I remind myself that I am doing this so that I may be found faithful."

To be found faithful in all things. What is that like? I sure want to find out! We're imperfect human beings but when we seek God daily, we find our way, our purpose, and to be dramatic like our son, our destiny!

My life verse since BJ's passing has become Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. (a phrase that's repeated many times in Joshua 1 - I think it's an important one) Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

I love Joshua 1. Moses has died. Joshua is overwhelmed with the task before him. We're overwhelmed at times. We feel inadequate for the task before us. We feel put down and left out in the cold. We don't think we'll measure up. God looks at the heart, He sees what isn't always obvious and He never forsakes us or leaves us. (verse 5)

1 Samuel 2:3 part of Hannah's prayer, a wise, godly woman.
"the Lord is a God who knows, and by Him deeds are weighed."

Press on!

Friday, January 12, 2007

This weekend in Tulsa is expected to be an absolute mess. The weathermen have foretold an ice storm that is to begin today at noon and last until Sunday evening.

While this carries with it certain romantic projections, it is potentially, extremely dangerous.

In case you are wondering what romantic inclinations might be implied, Deanna and I will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary on Sunday. That is pretty exciting!

While the precipitation is not likely to allow us to get away, it is also not likely to bring any unexpected interruptions. That should translate to a quiet weekend at home, together, to recognize what the Lord has done in our lives.

I am so very much in love with my beautiful wife. She moves me in amazing ways.

Twice this morning, she stopped her morning routine, settled into her prayer posture, and sought the Father. I do not know why. What matters is that she is doing so, and that He is listening. He knows her heart, and desires to answer.

We live in an age when half or more of all marriages fail. The numbers are no better in Christian marriages than in secular ones. That scares me a great deal.

It does so, because it is a reflection of how selfish we are and how little effort we who are supposed to be an example, are willing to invest. Perhaps she was praying for those who can't hold it together, who are more interested in serving their own desires than their Savior.

Perhaps she was praying for the many children that she serves who go home to lives without fathers. Those who rarely see their mothers, because they are working two jobs to try to keep what is left of their family together. These children long for a life with both parents. What impact it might have if their parents loved and honored Jesus with their lives.

Likely she was lifting up our daughters. She will not see them again for months. This bends the maternal bond to a breaking point, and causes a deep longing that is relieved, but not resolved by routine phone calls.

Maybe she was lifting up our dear friends. The many who have stepped in at crucial points in our lives to show Jesus to us. For them, I know she is most thankful. We talk about you all a great deal.

I know for certain, she was seeking the Lord to care for her son in a way she no longer can. How often we ask Him to embrace Beej, to let him know how much we love him, how much we miss him. How she longs to sit with him awhile and tell him so many things. She misses the walks with him, where her role was to listen...and she did...and she wants to again.

Such joy he had. Such joy he lived. Such joy he continues to experience in unbelievable ways. How she longs to share that with him.

Perhaps she was praying for me. Her love is always present and routinely demonstrated in ways I do not deserve. She is the embodiment of grace. Truly, the Lord gave me an enormous gift in her.

She seeks Him on my behalf, for health, for wisdom, for drawing ever closer to Him, and for many other things. I would not be half of who I am without the full assault on the Throne that she has spent.

No man could be more loved by his wife. If every man had what the Lord has given me, there would be much more peace in our world, more contentment, more joy.

I am most humbly grateful for Deanna. I do love her dearly, and know that I am unusually blessed.

Thank you Father, that she prays, that she talks to You without fail, and listens to Your heart! Please bless her incredibly. She has endured much. She has given much. She has been spilt again and again on your behalf. Please Lord, bring peace to her longings, and joy to her every breath.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

My thoughts this morning reflect back to the things I saw in Africa.

It is interesting how when I was young, my memories were laden with only the positives of life and/or relationships. As I have grown a bit more mature, accuracy sometimes seasons the parade of pictures that scroll.

The beauty we experienced was amazing at times. It is interesting though, how basic infrastructure that exists in American culture is absent in other parts of the world. This was the case across North Africa. The villages we journeyed through were so different, and at times so beautiful. Yet, there was a constant. Trash littered the boundaries.

I have shared before how on their trash pick up day, there would be a small plastic grocery size bag of garbage at the curb. Sometimes, it was hard to differentiate between that and what had settled into the landscape around it.

The edges of the cities were the worst. It was as if all were hauling their refuse to the outskirts of the village and just heaving it.

Interesting how you could often tell when you were entering a municipal area by the contents of the perimeter.

I do not like the fact that in my "old age" I remember such things. I would prefer to see each city as pristine and new. No scars of the ages they have lived through. Just beauty that causes one to repose and reflect.

Perhaps this is one additional meaning to the Lord's desire that we must come to Him as a child...memory and all. Children are very forgiving. For a time, they will not remember the bad that happens, they do not associate it as such until they are taught to. There is protection in this, but there is also folly.

As we age, painful memories begin to mount for each of us. We have all had to walk through dark places. Unfortunately, as we age, the dark perimeter greets our association with things of the past.

Did you know that while we learn from some of these, in many areas it is a tool of the enemy?

We approach the dark corners of a remembrance, and refuse to go any further. Often, we allow that shallow rift to be an impenetrable wall.

There is much good that comes from the bad that happens. We must be willing to look and find it. We cannot afford to dwell on the negative alone. Yes, it flavors our past, but we must not allow it to become our past.

It is nothing short of miraculous that we serve a Heavenly Father who forgives and truly forgets our past failures. We have a clean slate through His grace. He cannot remember what we have done. He does not WANT to remember what we have done.

The negative remembrances that flood our minds and beat us down do not belong to our Lord. No, the author of that project is the enemy. He thrives on "fonging" us with our failures. We seem to wallow in that vacuous puddle.

Our Father does not tally our foolishness, rather He views us through the lens of Christ. We are pristine and new!

Would it not be amazing if we each were no longer tethered in our own minds to past failures? Being freed from the worn circular path at the edge of our sinfulness, we should begin to walk as Jesus did.

This is not a time to forge deeper ruts in our piling paths of pessimism. We must move beyond our borders, embrace His light, and let it guide our steps.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I need to spend today thanking Jesus for His precious sacrifice, and the gift to me of Salvation. Too often in this world, we as Christians take this for granted. We reach a place where we are no longer moved as we read Scripture. Perhaps this is never our desire, but it is often the by-product of a life lived at a furious pace.

I was having breakfast with a friend the other morning, and she was telling me about a message that stirred her soul. I wish I had access to it, I will not begin to convey the depth of its importance as I have never heard it myself. However, I know its author.

When was the last time that as you read John 3:16 that you allowed the Lord to move you?

We see it on signs everywhere, we know it by heart, we even bring about a disclaimer to somehow apologize to others that it is overused. Why?

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Is it not the very Scripture that brings Salvation to many? The fact that it is recognized by so many is a huge blessing, yet we would cave to the enemies advances and believe that it is emptied of power because of its abundant recognition!

God loved the world so much that He let His Son die for you and me! That is not a little statement. That is a lifechanging statement! When was the last time you gave your son or daughter so that another might live? Are you willing?

Every time I hear a story of someone taking a stand for friends I am moved to the core! I saw on the news yesterday that a young man in an hummer in Iraq took the blast of a grenade to save the other four guys in his vehicle. He gave his life to save theirs and I was and am moved that he would care enough for them to do that!

How many of us would do likewise? We tend to think that if we were in that situation, we would, but then we drive right past stranded motorists along the highway of life because we are on a schedule and cannot take the time.

If we allow that passage of Scripture to mean little in our lives, then we do effectively empty the Cross of its power to those who the Lord would have us share it with!

All we have to do is convey our belief in Him, tell what He has done for us, how our lives have changed as a result of John 3:16's message, and others' lives will be transformed! The Holy Spirit will do the rest!

Jesus paid the price. The young man who sat on the grenade saved his buddies for today, but what about eternity? How can we allow the message to mean little, when the message is the only one that matters?


They can have eternal life if we will recognize the words we read, and be moved by THE Word!

We are so blessed to have a Savior like this! Thank you Jesus!


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Holidays drew near and her heart was heavy. She was looking forward to spending time with family, but her world had been turned upside down again.

15 months ago she lost her only brother. Her younger brother. One whom she loved deeply, and missed desperately. There was much difficulty in facing the mirror each morning. She was hard on herself for not spending the time with him she felt she should have.

There were distractions. There were friends. There was time...always more time.

Her journey through his illness helped equip her for what lay ahead. Her plan was to be a nurse. Her brother endured some of the most intense medical treatments available and she was right there watching, praying.

The hospital staff knew of her calling. They opened up many procedures to her. They allowed her to watch from a corner, as her sibling was the object of their intention.

This would either drive her away from nursing, or seal her desire. Which would it be?

A few months after his passing, she entered into a relationship with a godly young man. Her feelings deepened.

Over the next several months they would find their road a difficult one. So many obligations. So many distractions. Too many people offering their opinions. When would things calm down? Had she not been through enough? Couldn't she have a reprieve from this frustrating journey?

Christmas was approaching, she was excited to see those in her family she had not seen for too long. Her parents had relocated to the west after their son died. Not running away, rather seeking after the call on their own lives.

It would be good to see them again.

Then another blow. The relationship that she had invested so much into, was over.

How could this be fair? When was she going to be dealt a hand that would allow her to know how to play?

Christmas was upon her, the love she held had to be set aside. The depth of her pain descended into her soul. Had she not just recently plumbed these depths? Why did it have to be necessary to visit here once again?

Family arrived. The warmth of their familiar embrace attempted to ward off the hurt.

Would healing come? Would the scab be penetrated that was hardening over her heart?

She had resolved to study nursing. She spent the last two semesters trying to prepare for it. Her opportunity to apply for the program was on her mind. Oddly, it intermingled with the aroma of Holly, and fresh baked sugar cookies. What was to come?

During her distraction, her phone rang. It was him. The boy.

His heart suffered as hers had. He could not tolerate the loss.

Sweet relief had come. The scab she was "nursing" fell quickly behind. The newness of her heart in those moments danced dreamlike rhythms.

Conflicting holiday schedules had kept them apart for three weeks. She was anxious to get back. She was torn. She knew she had little time left with her loved ones, and may not see them again for some time. Fondness for renewal, surged with each heartbeat.

The day to fly home finally came. Saying goodbye to family was not dear to her. However, getting to see him again was her closest companion.

Airport delays and other delays brought frustration to a new height. Her anticipation was so thick it could not be patient. Why must everything always work against her? When would she catch a break?

Her uncle picked her up at the airport. Her pulse quickened.

He had to stop by his house...he had forgotten something.

INFURIATING!!! How could she constantly be kept waiting? What else would happen? Feeling nothing but venom for having to wait one more moment, she was soon to be surprised, when surprise had no chance of finding her.

Her uncle walked around his car and handed her the keys.

"Here, you will be driving this now belongs to you!"

What? What did he say to her? Her mind had been selfishly basking in a cloud of negativity. She harbored ugly thoughts, and he said what?

This car was hers?

How is it possible? The very moment when angst and anger had nearly overtaken her, she was blessed.

A gift she did not expect. A gift she did not deserve. How could she say "Thank You" after the furious display in her heart?

Her uncle had given her a car. Hers was had become an oilaholic. She had nursed it along for months. One issue after another had overtaken her only transportation.

Now, at a point of nearly compromising her faith over frustration, she had been given a most unexpected gift.

She called her parents out west, and screamed unintelligible words into the phone!

Blessings, like Salvation, come at most unexpected times.

Praise God for his provision!


Monday, January 08, 2007

How absolutely wonderful it has been to have the last two weeks with my daughters! We had precious fellowship, and it has been most difficult to see them return to school...far away from home. We are most grateful for the time we had together.

Among the many opportunities we had was the wedding of someone we love. This young lady was one of BJ's Peru teammates from 2005. She drew close to him on that trip. We heard many stories of her, upon his return.

After he passed, we met her. We asked her to speak at his funeral celebration. She was a real blessing in this role!

Last summer, ironically, she was on our team to Africa (I've posted new pictures from there on There was no doubt she was called there with our team.

Not long after her return to the states, she became engaged. We had been anticipating her wedding for months. It was beautiful.

I am a guy. I do not get the same things out of weddings that my girls do. It was the topic of much of our conversation until the girls left yesterday.

The thing I was moved by, was an act of Christlike service, performed during the wedding.

A couple of years or so after my father passed, the Lord moved in my heart to wash the feet of each of my family at our Christmas gathering. This is a particularly humbling experience. It is that way for both parties. Read John 13 to see why.

This is something the Lord has had me use at key times in ministry. I have done it with my youth group, at a Disciplenow event, etc. Honestly, I always hesitate, because this should never become commonplace in attitude. Christ showed his disciples this to make a strong and valid point. The attitude He conveyed should become common.

When BJ was a baby, I often took my turn bathing him. He got his whole body washed, not just his feet. That Christmas that each family member took off their shoes, he was present.

Then, when as a youth minister I was instructed by the Lord to do this for my students, he was present.

I cannot tell you how many times I was afforded the privilege of washing his feet, but I know it was at least two. I am his father, but as Christ served, so must I. I believe BJ learned this message. I saw him serve many in his brief time.

In Africa, the youngest on our team was moved by the Lord to wash each of our feet during worship one evening. What an incredible experience that was. We had been walking the dusty roads with the temperature soaring near 115 degrees. Our feet were quite filthy.

She took this all in stride. Not only did she wash our feet, she massaged our feet in process. She reflected her Savior to each of us.

I was reminded of previous experiences in that moment.

This past weekend at the wedding, it seemed a bit peculiar when we arrived to see the entire wedding party shoeless.

The peculiarity evaporated when after lighting the Unity candle, Tara and Justin, bride and groom, took turns washing each others feet. They did so to reflect the servants heart they each have. They desire to serve the Lord by serving each other.
They desire to serve the Lord by serving others as He so moves in their hearts.

This was the most poignant moment of the wedding. A true reflection of Jesus. A tour of most precious previous experiences burst into my memory as they did so.

I know for BJ their is nothing left to do but serve and worship!

I wonder, why are we inclined to believe that begins at death? It should begin at the beginning of life...Salvation!

Serve Jesus today by serving another.


Friday, January 05, 2007

I have conveyed before that I am a person of routine. Today, upon arriving at the office to write, I broke my usual ritual, and opened up my Awe Star e-mail before writing. I usually do not do this, as I get easily distracted, and can struggle to regain focus.

This morning, my lone e-mail was from family.

I remember key points in my life where it seemed the entire foundation I stood upon had crumbled. I could no longer see a vision for where things were headed. I grew weary and frustrated.

The crumbling truly had more to do with peripheral issues than true foundation. Changes at work, changes at church or home, loss of loved ones, co-workers important to my own routines, and etc. I admit when these things happen, it becomes difficult for me to function. Those who know me have seen this cycle.

Today is one of my co-workers last day on the job. She is Africa to serve the Lord. It does not get much more incredible than that!

However, selfishly, I find I am a bit too focused on what this will mean for me. This young lady does so much for this office. She is self-motivated, and does so much without my direction or input. I am very proud of her work ethic. The office (and me) will suffer for a time with her loss.

It takes time to get new people up to speed. It takes investment to make this happen. They will bring new gifts to the position, but other unanticipated gaps will form. This is part of the "growing" process I am not particularly fond of.

In the past, during these crucial points, I have often found that I needed to fill those gaps in ways I did not expect. In one case, it came down to knowing I was going to have to work for a new manager, or become the new manager.

I found that though I felt ill-equipped for the job, the Lord was more interested in stretching me through my own administration, than allowing me to be stretched by someone...someone I did not even know...someone who may not be thrilled with what I brought to the table. Those kind of changes are difficult to anticipate, and are usually not as bad as my mind makes them in advance of their onset.

I opted to become manager (I had already been asked to take the job and had initially declined). The growth I experienced over the next year or two was significant. It was not the vision or direction I wanted for my own life, but became crucial to the steps the Lord was leading me through.

One thing for sure, it gave me a platform for ministry that I did not expect (I was working in a secular environment at the time).

Our office has had two new people start this week. Neither is the replacement for the girl leaving. The times of change are seldom comfortable, but usually are for the best. Down the road, things usually work out better than you think they might.

In my case, according to my wife (and she is right more than I am), I am too pessimistic about how things will proceed. What ensues is generally far better than what I have feared.

I don't like being this way. Through these experiences, I have improved, but I have to keep growing.

One of the key lessons that has come my way repeatedly (are you getting it yet, brent?) is that I must rely upon the Lord to walk with me through these times. He has purpose in every circumstance. His purposes are always above my vision. My line of sight needs to ascend.

When I look forward, I quickly look foot in front of the other. I cannot truly see where things are headed. When I look to Him, I do not always need to see what is coming, because He is all I need to walk through the time of change.

His grace is sufficient even here!

He has prepared me in ways I have not seen until the unexpected unveiling. At those times, my obedience glorifies Him regardless of how well I accomplished the task, in my own mind.

Always strive for obedience to His call, regardless of personal desires.

Truly, where He leads, he equips, and He receives the glory. You gain valuable experience which will prepare you for the next step of His plan.


My nephew Derek leaves for 7 months of service to our Lord in Peru, today.

My good friend (and co-worker) Rachel, leaves us today, to begin her journey to Africa. Please pray for these missionaries, and others you know.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Today in our office, we are hosting WMU. This is a women's mission organization. This particular one meets once a month and its membership is made up of precious senior ladies. Most of them with white hair, many of them widows. They are such sweet saints of the Lord.

Several months ago, I had the privilege of speaking to them. How gracious was their reception of the words I shared...mostly about our journey. Then we shared a meal together.

I left with much more respect than I entered with. These women love Jesus, and are committed to serving Him.

I am 47. My body has not been cooperating for several years now. I don't appreciate this very much. At my "young" age I do not expect to have such issues. In my mind, I am very young. That my body betrays me is something I still am not ready to accept.

Many of these ladies are literally twice my age. How much they understand these words. Oh the battles they have fought in life. The prayer that assaults the throne of grace from these dear women is powerful.

Yet, as a society, we tend to cast them aside as no longer useful. We funnel them to "homes" and discourage them from having viable roles in our communities. How thankful I am that they disregard our compulsion to seal them off to cards and scribbage.

Deanna and I were traveling to the midwest for the holidays, and we heard a Christmas message reference that we did not remember. We had to turn the radio down, pull out the Bible and check out the passage. It read:

"There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem." Luke 2:36-38

Unbelievable! When did that text get added to my Bible? I have read it through so many times and don't remember that passage! Incredible!

If she married, as many did in that day, near the age of 15, then she lived and worshiped in the temple for over 60 years!

We get bored after a twenty minute sermon, and start checking our watches. 60 years!!!

I know the Lord is opening my eyes. I want to have that kind of passion for Jesus! What a powerful warrior for the Lord this lady was!

She was so close to God because of her life-long commitment that she knew Him when He entered the a baby!

Isn't it ironic how often we long to be closer to our Savior, and yet do nothing about it? Those who are closest to Him are the ones who fast, know His voice, see His direction, and pray with power as the Holy Spirit fills their utterances in Unity with the mind of Christ! How powerful is the depiction of this passage!

How incredulous that I have not seen it before! How distant is my life from that of my Lord?

Father, forgive me! Draw me close! Let me seek you with ALL of my life! Let me respect those who are my senior that love you like this. Let me encourage others to seek You in the same way. Teach me to fast and pray with my whole body, Lord. All I have is truly Yours alone! Amen.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Deanna and I are both people pleasers at heart. We want to be all things to all people. We want to be an encouragement. We want to be liked. It is a part of ourselves we don't always like very much, but it as natural to us as the color hair we were born with.

Because of this, when BJ died, and it was evident God was preparing our hearts for a move, we were reluctant. It meant we were going to have to leave our family and friends behind. We were going to have to go to a place we knew nothing about to be found obedient to our Lord.

We know there was much concern that we were doing this too quickly. We wanted to be able to listen to those who offered such advice...there was truth in their words from what is normal for those who are grieving. I would offer similar advice in similar circumstances.

However, the Lord was leading in the opposite direction. Deanna was the first to realize and embrace this. I was a bit stubborn and wanted the Lord to make clear to me that this was His will, and not an escape plan hatched by sorrowful, hurting hearts.

The Lord revealed to us that just as their had been a time for Moses to "go," a time for David to "respond," a time for Esther to take a stand, and a time for BJ to serve, there was a time for us to do the unthinkable at a most inappropriate interval.

We had two choices. Please those who would have us stay, or follow the Lord in obedience, though we could not see the wisdom in His timing.

We chose to leave at the time we were directed. Not because we were running away, not because we are wiser than most, but because we felt it was the only thing we could do, at a time that He had made His will and timing known. We were just being obedient.

Some believe that Deanna has suffered in her job because of an overall ill-conceived plan. Deanna disagrees. Deanna abhors the difficulty associated with this job change, but she is quick to point out that we were promised suffering, and we were not promised an easy life.

Yes, we would like to think that after losing our son, moving across the country and rarely getting to see our daughters, that would be suffering enough. If you read the scriptures, you know that is a fool's logic.

It is not that we head out and seek to suffer. It is not that we enjoy the reasons we suffer or even suffering itself. It is that "when we suffer, we bring God glory," if we do not kick and scream in the process. We need to embrace what is happening, cling to Him, and see His hand leading us through the difficult path.

We have been afforded the privilege of seeing the Lord do some incredible things since BJ went home.

Some of them did not require any action or obedience on our part. Some of them have been the direct result of following Him.

There are times we wish we could go back to the way things were. Embrace the problems and issues of yesterday, but be back in our place of comfort. However, we know we could not exist in that way, as our overall disobedience would supercede any gained or perceived ease.

For now, we feel we are being utilized in the way the Lord has opened before us, that He might gain the greatest glory. Our desire or relishment for the comforts of days gone by are still present. Our desire to be found simply obedient however, is greater.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Last night at dinner, the four of us sat at a local restaurant together. As we shared our meal, Lauren recounted her recent dream of BJ. Then one by one, we went around the table and did likewise. I have only had the one, but some of them have had others.

I know that though we do not often dream of him at night, we do, during the day.

We wonder what he is doing, what he is seeing. We drift down paths of the past, and try to remember things we have forgotten...things that include him. This path is wearing deep due to the frequency of our travel there.

It is interesting to try and view the world and circumstances close to home, through his eyes.

The friends he was closest to are now juniors and seniors in High School. How is that possible? How could that much time have passed?

He would now be 17, the age at which he would allow himself to date. What would that look like? Who would he spend time with?

Our lives have radically changed because of his. I often reflect on what he might know of where we are today. The enthusiasm he would have for what we are doing helps ease the intensity and frequency of pain that still abides with us.

Even so, there are those who worry we are being used...that some of our lifechanging decisions were premature.

I know he would have us spend this time focusing on Christ. I know he would celebrate where we are.

It is interesting how uniquely our thoughts are bound together of Jesus and BJ. There is additional comfort in knowing that BJ has experienced Him in ways we have not. Ways we look forward to.

As another new year dawns that he will not physically share with us, we will continue to do what he did so well. Seek the Lord, and attempt to let our pursuits be that of bringing glory to His Name.

For truly, no matter what else each of our lives is or was, what it should be is a reflection of Jesus.


Monday, January 01, 2007


How exciting to enter a new year together as a family. We are here in Tulsa and enjoying being together as one. Whitney and Lauren will be here until Sunday afternoon. We are thankful to have this time together.

Bless each of you, and enjoy your New Year Day!!!