Wednesday, February 28, 2007

That he spent two summers of his young life there, sharing the gospel with untold numbers of people, leading many of them to Christ, is compelling. That upon his return from the second summer, he found he was host to something that was unthinkable, is alarming. That he knew his days were numbered and found the motivation through his Savior to take advantage of every opportunity was an example.

One of his teammates declared, "BJ must be the rule, not the exception!"

His teammate is right.

When I read and re-read the texts of writings from my son, and the words from those who knew him, it becomes very clear. He spent his life being busy about his Father's business. He was so anxious to see those around him do likewise.

There are so many of us in the world who pursue livings, hobbies, and life itself for the purpose of finding maximum satisfaction. We want joy and happiness from what we do, from who we are, and from our relationships. So few actually find it. So few actually understand that their life is a whisp of wind that touches your cheek and and rushes away.

We have no promises of the next moment, yet we choose to live like we have forever.

BJ's understanding of how to live his life came from many teachers. Some at home, some at church, and some at school. He was a student who sought to withdraw every drop of truth and knowledge from others, and then would go home and in the quiet of his time alone with Christ, seek it's accuracy from Scripture. He tested what he learned against the Word of God, and if it was "found wanting," he either discarded it or forged ahead to see what elements of it may be true. When he was finished he had learned, he had grown, and he would apply it his life.

We can sit in church our entire lives and hear the Truth proclaimed, and be unmoved as we may be unwilling to allow the Holy Spirit to help us apply it.

Beej was able to touch so many because so many are hungry. Henry Blackaby says something along the lines of "find where the Lord is already working, and join him there." BJ understood this concept and he used it to further the Lord's Kingdom.

He knew the world was filled with people who did not believe they were even sinners, but were starving for Truth.

I once rode a chair lift with a young man at a ski resort, who told me that he had never sinned. His definition of sin was murder, stealing, rape, etc. His view of the world did not include Truth.

In that situation, I was able to share Christ with him, and the Holy Spirit brought conviction into his life. He was hungry, he was starving, but he did not know where to find real Truth. When suddenly it was before him, he grabbed onto it, realizing it was what he had been longing for.

BJ took stories like these and those he heard from others, and made them his own. He walked the halls everyday with others who were just like this young man. He could see their need. He had a heart to do something about it. His mission was one of mercy, one of bringing light and healing.

He alone was not called to this role.

I have heard from many across our great nation after sharing his journey with them, words that are intended to encourage. People say things like, "what a touching story," or "what a remarkable young man." I understand that those things are true.

I know these folks mean well. I think I even understand why they say these things. It is a difficult story to hear. It leaves you grieving for us, the parents and sisters. I do understand that.

However, the cost of his life was not just to be a touching story. He spent it willingly, but he did so because he knew his Father in heaven called him to pattern his life after his own Son, Jesus. This is an even harder thing for most to accept.

This testimony is intended to point people to Jesus. It is intended to bring about change from those who warm the pews each week but rise to leave with the same cold hearts. It is intended to reach generations of non-believers and believers alike, and to motivate them to the life Christ calls us each to.

None of us has life figured out, if we are not impacting this world for our Savior. It is why we are here. It is why life and breath continue to course through our collective veins. Are we taking that seriously? Do we understand the Word of God and what we are called to do?

Everyday, broken people pass us by, while seeking the Truth of Jesus.

How many will hear that Truth today?

Will I be found faithful?

Will you?


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

When you're young you think the world revolves around you. You think it stops when you go to bed, and begins again in the morning as you arise.

I will never forget the day I realized that the world, in fact, did not revolve around me. I was watching the "Flintstones" on television and had to turn it off to go and do something else. I did not want to miss my show, but knew I needed to get moving. Remotes were a new thing in that day, and fun to use (now I can't imagine life without the t.v. remote).

I clicked the t.v. off, but must have double clutched the button. It went off for a moment (back then the t.v. tubes had to warm up and did not come on instantly) and then came back on.

What I realized in that moment was that t.v. show kept going, even though I turned off the set.

I was miffed! How could this happen. I did not want to miss my show. I thought I could turn it off and when I was ready to resume, I could turn it back on and pick up where I left off.

No. This was not to be. I sat there in disbelief, turning it off and on repeatedly trying to wrap my mind around the concept that it did not exist just for my pleasure, and that in fact, it had nothing to do with me. I was overwhelmed.

Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. No matter what I did, the show kept going. I was insensed!

When I stepped outside, my realization caused me to fear many things. If others in my neighborhood did not exist for my personal needs and pleasure, what was going on? A conspiracy had been brewing, and I was totally in the dark.

Suddenly, I felt very, very small. Why had I not been told that life was not about me? Why was I clueless that my siblings were not just there to change the channel for me, before we had a remote (I could be pretty persuasive back then) or coerce them into doing my chores (I once convinced my younger sister what a privilege it would be if she scratched my back...I think I promised her a quarter if she did, or maybe I promised her she could give me a quarter if I let her scratch my back...yeah that sounds more like me)? My Mom had a purpose other than making me dinner and cleaning the house? None of this made any sense to me.

I can be pretty dense, but this realization changed my entire world view. It is amazing how insignificant you can feel when you realize that you do not exist to give others a purpose in life.

Sadly, today, many have not yet had that "remote moment." Partially, because it now requires 37 remotes to operate every electronic device within the sound of your voice. We have a basket on our coffee table which looks pretty, but is there to host our remote collection. We use them all.

I've heard there is something called a "Universal remote" but I am sure I would not be able to operate it. There are limits to my wisdom.

In many ways, "remotes" today serve to keep us under the false impression that others are there for our pleasure. If I don't have the remote when we watch the "devil-vision," I get nervous. I can't sit still.

I think I have Deanna convinced that these little devices belong to men alone. If we are watching something together, she quickly surrenders this "tool for immediate gratification," to me. She understands that my palms get sweaty, my heart starts racing and I start pacing if I am not in control of the images that flash before us.

"I do not want to die on that hill," she says however, she is a pretty good "back-seat-remote-driver". When commercials come on, she starts in with "mute, mute, mute!" I'm not deaf. I can hear. I just get flustered trying to find the button. Of course, the commercials do have a tendency to drown her out. They must preset the volume 25% higher than the show. We have a thing. When she rants "mute," I turn it up as loud as it will go. Boy, are we funny.

Yeah, I know I said I learned that life was not about me. It seems as though our world is constantly trying to convince us otherwise. I am pretty good at surrendering to that notion. I like it being about me. I like it when I am in control.

The problem is, I am not. I've probably wasted enough energy trying to be, in my life, to run the electricity for some large city for quite awhile.

When I yield the "remote" to the Lord, my life improves dramatically. I still have struggles, but He is "with me." When I let Him have the "remote," He is glorified. My life stops looking as if I'm trying to self-promote. That is how it should be.

I think Deanna figured this out a long time ago. She probably tried to tell me, but I was busy...changing the channels.


Monday, February 26, 2007

On those occasions when both Monday and the 26th of the month occur at the same time, my family will always pause and reflect.

The world with its rushing currents has pried us loose of our grip on that which we could not hold. It remains difficult to rise each day to walk past a room that would be filled with such clutter, but remains remarkably bland and empty of memory, of fragrance.

Sometimes memories are sweet and refreshing...they bring resolution to a crusty thirst like a pitcher of fresh lemon-ade on a sweltering day. Other moments bring back the tide that forces your breath from your body, and leaves you heaving on rocky shoals.

Always will I see those piercing eyes penetrating whatever facade I have put on. Knowing the truth, and seeing past the pretense.

15 years old but with the soul of one much older and wiser. Clarity was his...a gift from his Savior. The 'shades of gray' that most Christians dwelled in, were foreign to him. Black and white is how he saw the world.

Love for others was always on his lips and his heart. Reaching out to the broken was his nature. Seeking to mend their hearts, like fishermen repair their nets so they can catch the fullness of life, required his time but little effort. He gave so freely.

How I miss his hugs, his voice, his laugh...his quiet occupation with others. His black t-shirt and scruffy chin belong to the shores of another land. One I desire but cannot conceive.

Frequent sniffles from his mother, reflect a time-released sleep-aid, but counter its effect. Always the pain seems fresh, and often the air is perfumed with the brokenness of her heart.

I suppose the days get easier as the surf pounds glass back into sand, but so often my heart does not feel it.

Quieter must I be about what once was, lest others think I am losing my way. Too focused on the past, too confused about the future and too lost to live in the present, is their offering...they do not understand. They have never truly, lost.

Still. Be still.

Let the rhythmic beating of His heart bring the rain of rejoicing to our weary discontent. Let our bodies be covered with the dew of His Manna...only partaking in what is required.

The pounding in my head and the scent of the air without him will be for just a time longer...and then my King will separate me for eternity from this enmity that parasitically feasts on my pain.

He is my Balm. He is my Portion. He is my Need.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Students in college often do things that don't make much sense. At least they did when I was in school. I am just amazed at times, at the lengths people will go to, to have a good time. When you are with a group, it is much easier to make bad decisions. The "mob" mentality takes over, and you stop thinking for yourself.

One of my close college friends worked one summer as a plumbers assistant. He returned to school in the fall with what each of us thought was an amazing addition for his room. It was a used commode.

I don't know where he got it. I don't want to know where he got it. It became the centerpiece of the his personal space. When visitors came, someone always had the privilege of being seated on the throne. I can't imagine why that was such a cool thing at the time. Now, it just seems really stupid.

That prime piece of porcelain was used for many things. One does not have to think very hard to imagine what we did with it. People who had heard about it on our campus of 30,000 would actually come by to see it. I can't believe one of us did not get deathly ill, in the wake of it's use.

When said commode had fulfilled its purpose(or perhaps we were bored), we decided to share it with our whole campus. However, we did not want to get into trouble in the process, so we awaited the dark cover of night.

We donned dark clothing, and blacked our faces. We even rented a climbers rope of heavy gauge, so that we could complete our activity.

I can't remember for sure, but I think there were 4 or 5 of us in on this foolishness.

We hauled this prize to a hill that overlooked our midwestern campus. Upon the hill, was an outdoor amphi-theater, where concerts were held rather frequently. Obviously, we chose a night that it was vacant.

In the deep of the night, adrenaline began to course through our veins. Excitement filled the air as we planned. We were going to be...foolish.

We stealthily moved toward the corner of the structure. The edge that was nearest the ground was selected. The difficulty was that we had waited so long to begin, that frost had developed all over the building. I scaled it, but for every step I made up, I slid back two. It took awhile to get up there. Attached to my belt was one end of the rope. Another friend then joined me on the roof.

We secured the line up top, while our accomplices tied off the former, pearly white seat below. We hoisted it up to the roof. We carefully moved it into position where it overlooked our campus. Anyone coming by would have their attention drawn to it...and everyone came by.

We had carefully selected a children's book which we inserted into the bowl. It was to be our calling card as we made plans to do this with other bathroom fixtures, in other areas of campus. The book was one of my childhood favorites, "The Tawny Scrawny Lion" (If I remember correctly, he too was seated on a throne on the front cover).

The following day we were absolutely thrilled to find a picture prominently placed in our school newspaper, which had a large circulation. Our prank had been immortalized in print. We were famous. We were famous in our own minds. No one knew we had done this.

We were not the first to make stupid decisions. While that certainly does not justify our seemingly harmless prank, things don't always work out quite so harmless.

There was another hill that overlooked a key city. There was another mob that began with the agreement of four or five people and then grew into a violent rage. Funny how quickly bad ideas will sweep through a people. Where does the voice of reason disappear to?

I was a part of that mob too. So were you. Fortunately, we can be restored. Complete forgiveness is possible.

Today, we are still elevating foolishness to lofty places. It is happening all around us.

Are we the voice of reason (or His Spirit through us), or is it once again, dissipating into the dark cover of the night?


Thursday, February 22, 2007

One of the little used tools to gain spiritual insight to the things the Lord desires us to see and do is fasting. Most do not practice this because they literally cannot deny themselves.

Several years back I was serving as a deacon in my church. Our diaconate had between 30 to 40 men on it. Our body was going through a particularly rough time in our church history.

In the days leading up to our annual deacon retreat, our pastor asked us to fast with him. He also asked the church body to do so. He taught on fasting, and set up a format which people could follow, and asked us to fill out cards to let him know that we were. He knew most had never done so.

At our retreat, he got up to speak to us about the issues at hand. He spoke more passionately and fervently than he normally preached. During his message, he indicated that he had recently been asked multiple times what we as deacons could do to serve him, and assist him in bringing about the desired outcome.

As he shared from a heart full from the Lord's anointing, but broken over the lipservice of the body, he made known to us that we had been walking through one of the most crucial times in our church history, and it required our constant seeking of the Lord. As he did so, he opened up to us that we were making outward indications of our desire to support him, but it was in fact lipservice. He did not do this harshly. As a matter of fact, he did so with grace and concern, but his words blind-sided us.

He shared with us that out of all that was said by many deacons who had approached him individually, only two truly supported him. There were only two who really heard and listened. Two from thirty five or so, men surrendered to the time of fasting with him.

He asked the question, "how can you really care if you won't even do the one thing that I have asked of you?"

What ensued was a significant time of brokenness and repentance.

The Lord caused each of us to realize that we talked a good game, but we walked a shallow one.

Fasting and praying when combined are powerful resources in our arsenal. It truly brings about change and understanding from the mind of Christ, to us individually. No, this is not the only way He communicates. But there have been many times in life that He called me specifically, to fast.

There have also been times where I have fasted from a repentant heart. Those times He did not specifically call me to, but I knew that I needed to deny myself to help bring focus back to my walk.

I am not the poster boy for fasting, and it is not my desire to be patted on the back. As a matter of fact, Scripture tells us to keep ourselves in such a way that others do not know we are fasting. For it is not for public consumption that we do it, but for Spiritual intervention or breakthrough.

One of the difficulties people have is knowing how long to fast, if they do so. I ask the Lord, and allow Him to guide that decision. He has directed me to fast anywhere from one meal to 40 days. It truly depended on what was happening.

When BJ went into the hospital, we heard from people around the country who didn't know us. They were regularly fasting and praying for BJ's healing. I cannot tell you what power there was in that.

One may argue that he was not healed, so what difference did it make?

Upon his autopsy, the pathologist asked the question, "how did this young man last as long as he did?" His organs and tissues were consumed with disease and fungi.

The effectual and fervent prayer of the righteous had raised up a platform from which the Lord was glorified over and over through BJ's life and his death.

The fasting of others helped sustain BJ (and us) through the dark valley.

Do not think to little or too lightly about fasting. No, YOU cannot do it. But when you seek Him, He gives you the strength and endurance to go the distance!


I am speaking today at noon, at the International Fellowship of Christian Businessmen. Please lift these men up, that they will respond to the Holy Spirit's movement in their hearts.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It's been a long time since I posted any of BJ's writings. As we are in full swing putting the book together on his life, some of the things that I have completely forgotten have resurfaced. I want to share part of one of them with you. This is a small segment of an email he sent to a friend who was struggling with being loved. He sent her literally pages of information, teaching her what love is and is not.

This kind of jumps in right in the middle of the conversation, but I believe you will follow his thinking...

..1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Now that we have established that Love is action, lets go back to 1 Corinthians 13. In this passage, it states 7 things that love is and 8 things that love is not.

First, Love is patient. So often we become very impatient and think little to nothing of it. Maybe we even realize that we are being impatient and that it is wrong, but even in those few circumstances, do we understand that we are acting against our love for that person, and so God? I know for a long time I found it acceptable to be impatient with people IF I was "justified," or if they were being annoying, etc. However, this is not the case. Even when it may be "justified" by our human standards, it is against love, and thus against God (for God is love), and therefore a sin, and sin is NEVER justified. Instead, when we would find it easy to become impatient with someone, we should instead be patient, for love is patient, and Christ commanded that we love each other in John 15:17 (this passage is cool because of a trail of short statements that Christ says that lead up to it: first, John 14:15 "If you love me, obey my commands" then in John 15:14 "You are my friends if you obey my commands" then in John 15:17 "I command you to love each other" I just thought it was cool).

Second, Love is kind. Kindness, now there's something for you. Remember every now and then when someone says something like "I love you in the God way" or "Well, I love them in the God way, but that does mean I have to be nice to them/you"? Riiiight, and please show me the love of God that doesn't require kindness. And remember, God not only commanded us to love our friends and family, but to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Now loving our enemies isn't just "In the God way," but to really love them, which means being kind to them. I know that I struggle with this, and you probably do to. Yes, even those who have backstabbed us, who have made out
with our boyfriends (I know that hasn't happened to you, at least to my knowledge, but it was just an example), who have lied to us, used us, insulted us, been just downright MEAN to us.

The third thing love is/does, Love rejoices with the truth. This is really best explained by the corresponding "Love is not," which I'll talk about later. Other than that, its pretty self explanatory: Love takes joy in the truth. It seeks it, not just for itself and of things, but it also seeks the truth of others.

He goes on, and perhaps I will share more excerpts later. However, we need to save the best stuff for the book. It's due out in January! Yeah, that is a long time from now.

When I re-read his writings, it becomes clear the incredible wisdom the Lord pours through him. How blessed we are to call him our son. How much more blessed are those the Lord touches through him. I Praise God for His dedication to BJ. I thank Him for the time we had as family. I miss my son, but his writings are as inspired today as the day he wrote them. Oh the blessing that overflows from an obedient, surrendered life!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I read a devotional this morning that really struck a chord with me. It did so, because the Lord has been dealing with me over embedded sin. That stuff that is below the surface. The things others cannot see, but the affects of it are evident in my everyday life, if you are watching closely.

We have a large rug that we moved from Indiana to Oklahoma. A rustic area rug. It works nicely on the pergo floor it covers in our library (Saying "library" sounds like I'm trying to impress...don't be, we had extra space and have chosen to fill it with books, the computer and a couple of comfortable chairs).

This rug used to be in front of our fireplace back in Indiana. It carries with it the scars of the time it spent close to the fire. When you spend time close to a fire, inevitably, you get burned. It did, and it is evident.

When I run the vacuum over this rug, I can always tell when I have hit that seared spot. The whine of the vacuum alters to include the clicking of hitting something hard. If you get on your hands and knees, you can see where the pyle has been melted by an ember. At some point, the fire cracked and popped and shot out the tiniest piece of smoldering ash which settled on the rug, and burned it.

What remains, is a depressed hard shiny knot of melted fiber. Now I could get a pair of sharp scissors and begin surgically removing the knot, but that would be tedious. What do I care if there is a knot on my rug? It's small, it doesn't hurt anything, and it's not even unsightly. I know it's there, but you wouldn't unless you got on your hands and knees and hunted for it.

An interesting perspective is if we altered the story a bit, and said the knot was gum. What happens then is that after it becomes embedded deep within the mane of fiber, it becomes like a cowlick on the face of the rug. It continues to collect other microscopic particles of dirt, hair, etc. The size of the flaw increases ever-so-slowly. This continues until you spend the time to cut the gum and its buddies out of the floor covering, or you just replace it.

The Lord has been laying bare the pocket of my life that plays host to some "gum and its buddies." This is an area that you cannot see if you look at me. It is hidden well beneath the surface. You may see evidence of it in my life if you know me well, and watch me close, but believe me, as a man, I have learned to hide if from you.

It is not a question of whether or not it exists, it is a question of whether or not I am willing to identify it as a flaw and deal with it.

For most of us, these areas are secret and unknown (at least we think) to others. They serve as the very cancers that preclude us from growing in our walks as He would desire.

In some instances, the callous over this area becomes so hard and glossed over that we will not deal with it. We're not even sure if we know how to find it. It has gathered such a collection around it, that it can be hard to separate one from the other. It'd be nice if we had the opportunity to do self surgery. Just take a little time with some sharp scissors or a scalpel, and remove the soul blemish.

I know the Lord waits. I have kept Him waiting for too long. There have been times when I took steps to begin the process of allowing Him to remove it, but it quickly becomes too painful, and the ever-present fear of others coming into the know, haunts me.

Am I willing to let it go?

He has shown me what can come to pass if I relinquish, yet white knuckles have formed around my abscess, drained of blood from clenching so tight.

Only He can assist in this kind of procedure. Mine is simply to let go of pride, and embrace His healing grace.

I think I'm ready, Lord.

You can begin, now.


Monday, February 19, 2007

I appreciate your prayer cover for the weekend. On Friday night one young man gave his heart to the Lord. Had nothing else happened that would have been worth it. Sunday was a blessing at OSU. I met some wonderful people, and several are seeking to go to the mission field with us. I Praise the Lord for His provision.

Isaiah 6 has long been a chapter from the Word that holds an explosive amount of meaning for me. Some of its imagery has captured my imagination, and caused me to meditate upon it. When the Lord called me into ministry, the pastor I was under at the time used this same passage to convey the kind of change that was taking place in my life.

I admit, I find myself wondering what it will be like to come into the physical presence of the Lord and His Throne. The Holiness that is held in that one thought moves me. I am quickly reduced to a weeping mass when I look at the sinfulness of my life, and consider the absolute purity of His presence.

When I worship, I often envision the Spotless Lamb on His Throne before me. If a prophet of the Lord such as Isaiah crumbles before His Majesty. How much less am I worthy to stand in worship, mouth barely moving, going through the motions of what should be an all encompassing experience and trading it for my own disconnected thoughts about who knows what.

I am in the Presence of the Almighty! How can I stand there week after week as if it was an unimportant part of who I am. The Lord has so much work to do in His children if we are capable of standing before Him without humiliation.

Isaiah collapsed in His presence. He knew that He was experiencing something that was uncommon. He had not even been introduced in this setting, but could gather the verbal and visual cues and realize that in the presence of such Holiness, he was unworthy.

Is it not interesting in our churches today how "worthy" most of us must think we are to being offering praises to the King of Kings, in such predictable posture? Standing erect, hands forced deep into empty pockets, searching for distraction. Yawning, looking around as if the Holy one was present and would certainly be pleased by our mere presence, and nothing more need ever be required of us. After all, we could be home sleeping.

The last couple of Sundays, my pastor has preached anointed messages with incredible passion and power. His conveyance seemed largely missed by God's chosen ones. I confess how appalled I am to be in the midst of such lethargy. How can we offend God's heart with such carelessness.

Body of Christ, if we do not begin to view our Savior as the Holy, Spotless Lamb, the only One who was worthy of this sacrifice, then how can we expect a lost world around us to care or be impacted by our lives?

His very Presence in our lives should cause us to seek Him with abandon. The stronghold of apathy grips many of our churches, and many of His people. Content to simply be standing side by side with other believers, who cannot wait to get out and get to lunch, we are more concerned about how we look than whether or not we will encounter the Holiness of the Lord.

Our own churches in America are largely dead to His movement within our midst. We seem to prefer He remain in lofty places where we do not have to entertain Him, than to have Him come down and call us to our faces before Him. That would be awkward. We might get dirty...And this outfit is new.

I want the God of Zaccheus to come and make me uncomfortable, and tell me He is coming to my house today. Of course it is not in the order it should be, but that is the point.

I need to get uncomfortable to the point that I recognize a Holy movement, and allow it to affect change in my life!

Can you imagine where America would be if we would surrender our lives to Him the way we have sold out to materialism? All of it will be burned up. Consumed in Holy fire. It will fall away as dross. What will be left? Have I let Him move and change me enough that there is something to offer after the fire of 1 Corinthians 3:12-15?

We need to surrender.


Friday, February 16, 2007

I can be so silly sometimes. I have to laugh when something is right before me, and I miss it because of preoccupation.

In my role with Awe Star, I have the privilege of meeting with students weekly. It isn't anything organized usually, but they stop in frequently to share and to pray. I always look forward to this. The one on one connection with them is my favorite part of interacting with this family.

It is interesting to me how much of a family we/they truly are. I remember back to the Celebration of BJ's life, we had the unique opportunity as a family (the four of us) to meet with two or three dozen people who had come from all over the USA and South America to honor our son. This was no small fete.

Yes, we also had blood family from all over the USA, many of whom we had literally not seen in many, many years. It was very special to us that they had come at this hour. They reflected love in all they did for us.

The Awe Star family that came evoked an unexpected reaction in me. I found myself yearning to be with them. There was desperation within me to spend time, to get to know them. They knew my son in a way I did not. They spent time with him on the mission field, they had awesome stories that were both hilarious and moving.

He was their brother, their protector, their teacher, their friend. That we did not know them and yet they came stirred me deeply. I could not get enough time with them. We had 20 or 30 minutes to share with them as a group and then we needed to go meet with our relatives.

I love my relatives, but I did not want to leave this new family. It was a very hard thing to do! I literally cannot explain this. I mean no disrespect to my Aunts, Uncles, or cousins, but this connection was from the Lord, and I longed for it.

Little has changed since then. This family continues to be such a deep source of inspiration to me. I have not forsaken my birth family, but I do gain new ones each time students comes saying, I need to GO!

Thus, I have students in my office who sit across from me, regularly. A couple of days ago, I found something left behind. It was on the floor between a chair and a small bookcase.

Immediately, I began to run through the list of recent occupants of that chair. I started with office staff, and then began to contact this extended family. What I had found was not lost by any of them. How could this be? It must belong to one of them?!

I just knew one of them was mistaken. How was it possible to lose something this valuable and not realize or recognize it from a description.

Much later, as I continued about my work, I happened to look over at them one more time. For some reason, this glance brought with it a flood of familiarity. Suddenly, I knew whose they were! I remembered who lost them!

None of the parade of possibilities had left them behind.

In fact, they were mine!

How did I miss it? How is it possible that a gift that was meaningful to me, went unmissed and unrecognized for so long? What occupies a mans mind or thoughts that he can spend valuable time and energy trying to reunite those who have not lost anything with something found?

Context can be everything.

I thought I knew where I had carefully placed these, previously. I was wrong. They were missing and I did not know it.

How thankful I am that I serve a God who does not carelessly lose things precious to Him. Greater still, that when something lost is found, He recognizes it immediately. His desire for us as family is personal. The longing within Him is for us to be united with Him in purpose and obedience. That we as His blood family, are drawn to Him, can respond to Him, and that when he calls us, we recognize what is lost, and surrender it to Him.

Each of us has blood family by birth, but we each also have blood family by re-birth. These relationships are a great gift. What was lost is found. I need to cultivate this gift.


Tonight, I will be speaking to some inner-city students at Ranch Acres in Tulsa. Sunday night I will travel to Stillwater, Ok. and share at Oklahoma State University.
Please pray that the hearers will respond to whatever obedience the Lord is calling them to.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

In popular praise songs we sing “You’re all I need, You’re all I’ve ever wanted,” “You are my all in all,” “You are the Lord of all I am,” “In all I do, I honor You.”

Do we really mean it?

I know God is trying to pound into my head the fact of these statements. Right now, I am so out of my comfort zone professionally, I have no reputation, I have few friends, I don’t feel like I’m doing very well (however, I do have the approval of my principal – that's huge) Anyway, my point is again about us starting over, you know, at this stage in our lives. I know I sound like a broken record and I don’t mean to. All of us need people in our lives to encourage, to learn with, to share with, to laugh with. There are times when we all feel alone, even when we really aren’t, like me, today.

As I grow to love my students, I’m adjusting and dealing better. Most of the time I sleep well, but there have been a few nights I couldn’t seem to let go of the concerns.

Actually mornings are my favorite. They always have been; the fresh start idea. I’m a morning person who basically wakes up singing. I blame my father. Because, of course, we must place blame instead of taking responsibility for our own actions; it’s the world we live in! (a little joke) He used to sing at the top of his operatic lungs down the hallway as he’s turning on lights and waking us four kids up. A fond memory of my father who is no longer himself. I’ll tell you his story.

Talk about feeling alone. Mom’s not a widow but she is lonely. She has Dad’s body to take care of, which is of some comfort, she’s thankful she’s able, but his mind is severely brain damaged.

After Dad’s car accident in March of ‘97, I learned there were worse things than death. He was in a coma for 2 weeks, then he awoke and was being rehabilitated. We were encouraged, he was making progress. He would talk and sometimes not make sense, but he was partially there. Then, he had a stroke, and another one followed. It set him back and in the ten years since, his health continues to fail and his abilities continue to diminish. His physical therapy was discontinued because he didn’t improve. He doesn’t talk, he has little expression and he’s becoming bed ridden.

The thing is, Dad was a dynamic pastor for more than 40 years of his life. He served in Korea, got a master’s at seminary, he sang tenor and played the saxophone. He loved playing golf and was always in excellent shape. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. Now, he is just a shell of a man, either not aware or puzzled by those around him. I guess I understand his predicament less than what happened with BJ. His life seems to have little purpose.

On different occasions we’ve prayed that God would take Dad, but yet, he lives. We see the strain on Mom and we continue to pray and leave it in God’s hands, for what else can we do? She is a testimony of God’s grace no doubt as she continues to allow God to hold her hand and give her strength through her many dark hours.

Is Jesus all we need? Is His grace sufficient?

There are so many difficult scenarios in our lives, when healing DOESN’T come. How do we tap in to His resources? How do we get the power He promises? How do we let Him “reign in us?” We need a “how to” book.

Guess what? We have one. It is timeless. It holds the wisdom of the ages. It is as relevant today as it will always be. It is God’s love letter to us, yet do we read and re-read with the hopeful anticipation of that love? Do we truly hunger and thirst for it as we sing?

It is not about religion. It is about a relationship. Incredible, that Almighty God would want me, with or without a reputation, as if I could have anything to offer the Creator of the universe. It is an amazing love that we can’t possibly understand in many lifetimes of scenarios. And that’s as it should be.

It’s really not about us – we keep forgetting that, and we need to keep being reminded. Believers have all eternity to come to understand and appreciate the height, depth and length of His expansive and mysterious love.

“You are not a god created by human hands,
You are not a god dependent on any mortal man,
You are not a god in need of anything we can give
You are God and that’s just the way it is.

You were God alone from before time began
You were on Your throne, You were God alone
And right now in the good times and bad
You are on Your throne, You are God alone.

You’re unchangeable, Your unshakable, You’re unstoppable
That’s what You are.

You’re the only God whose power none can compare
You’re the only God whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God whose worthy of everything we can give
You are God and that’s just the way it is.”

Thank you Billy and Cindy Foote for penning these lyrics and giving us a powerful musical illustration of our Almighty Father.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I remember when the our children were little, how wide-eyed and excited they would become for holidays that brought with them the promise of something special. Though we seldom did anything elaborate, doing something, set the day apart from others. Valentines Day was often one of these.

We did different things as they grew. Some years we bought them candy, others a small toy. In later years, they might get clothes. We seldom did the same thing twice, and tried to vary it.

My favorite year (who knows if they even remember it) was when I got up early, and made them breakfast. It was nothing much, but it was special. My parents had done the same for us when I was young.

I got up and made toast. Yes, toast! But this wasn't ordinary toast, this was toast that sent them on a sugar high. I toasted the bread, cut off the edges, and added some sprinkles. The result was a large heart shaped piece of toast with pink or red sugar sprinkles all over it with strategically placed red hots.

They were works of art. Well, at least for me they were. I went and got the children up (getting up early on Valentines Day...what a gift) and led them to the table. When they saw their breakfast, as least some of them were excited.

This breakfast was a mess to eat, but they enjoyed it.

We had little money, and could not do big things. That never mattered to them. They just enjoyed the recognition of the day being set apart from others.

This year, we had a plan. Deanna went shopping. Maybe this wasn't a good plan. Deanna is normally a very careful shopper. Since she handles the money in our home, she does not spend carelessly. I have always appreciated that about her.

This time, I think the whole "we haven't seen our girls in too long," thing came into play. She came home with that look a puppy gets when he has pottied in the house, and knows he's about to be discovered. She came through the door confessing her sin.

"I hope you're not mad at me, cause I think I spent way too much!" She repented.

For my dear wife to begin this way scared me. I envisioned taking out a loan to pay off the debt. As she unloaded each bag, she was in justification mode. It was not going well.

I was not responding with the same enthusiasm that had contributed to accumulating this wealth of goods.

In the end, we decided that perhaps we needed to return a few things.

I confess that this situation found me wearing my "grumpy pants." I enjoy going to the store and standing in the return line about as much as I do going to the dentist and having my teeth drilled.

I had to get over myself and my attitude. The thing is, my amazing wife, was very understanding. She gives me grace when I don't deserve it. She offers blessing where most would tender ridicule.

I do not deserve her. I am so very thankful for her. I cannot imagine anyone else coming close to understanding me, and wanting to love me the way she does. I need no more proof of God's existence than to look at the awesome way He has poured into and shaped her. Her countenance is unlike any other.

She is an example of beauty and grace in motion. It is so easy to see the perfection of our Savior in her. She would try to convince you otherwise, but that is part of her charm. She is very humble, and she is so precious to me!

Happy Valentines Day!!!


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Over the last two weeks, I have heard or seen into the lives of many students who are struggling. It has caused me to take an introspective look to see what my own life is reflecting as I see many of them, projecting the world.

These are young men and women who have been deeply committed to Christ, but who seem to be accepting a gospel other than that of Jesus Christ. They seem to have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. A lie that looks like truth, because it has at its edges the frayed ribbons of former glory.

They have taken on much that the world openly accepts and condones to be part of their "christian" experience, yet there is nothing Christlike in it.

Who can blame them. It gets old being the butt of everyone's jokes. Every time I hear or see statistics quoted, believers are on the ugly end of them. We are either being too judgmental, or we are not doing enough. There is no middle ground. Even as I write, I tend to display extremes in Christian behavior. Those who give their lives and those who won't even give their time.

Most of us reside in the middle somewhere. But if we are resting in the comfort of middle ground, then we are not doing what we should to draw others to the hem of His robe.

In Oklahoma, fewer people were baptized last year than in any year prior to record keeping, save the first one. What does that reflect? Is it important? Should it intensify our resolve to get serious about our relationship or should it be further fodder for the fact that numbers can be manipulated to reflect just about anything?

Who in their right mind would continue to follow a "Savior" that brought his followers to ridicule? Why would I share my faith with someone who will statistically reject it? Why risk it? There is enough rejection in this world without having to seek it out by openly living in defiance of all the world embraces.

Does it not make more sense to integrate kernels of deception from our world, into our faith practice so that it is more enticing to others? Would they not more willingly receive it if the price were less?

A "Holy Spirit" will dwell within you? Angels are real? Jesus rose from the dead? Anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus as the Son of God is bound for hell?

Who can accept these?

Let's dilute the truth of the Bible to fit any circumstance we happen to believe in the moment. This way, it will be less offensive. Let's deny what it actually says so that it will reach out an embrace others more readily. Less condemnation would be nice. I don't like being judged.

If I want to live a particular way, who and what is the Bible to say any different. After all, it was written before men and women were industrialized. It could have no concept of our lives today, therefore it could not have less bearing on who and what we are.

Another thing, let me interpret it to say what I need it to say so that I can do what I want, when I want, and not catch any more flack for it. That's a truth I can stand on.

Let there be no more false prophets that tell me what I want to hear to justify any action I choose to take. Let's just strike that part from the pages, or at least pretend it doesn't mean what it says. I could support that bible. Let's call them "preferential prophets." That is more "pc" anyway.

Let's rewrite the 10 commandments to be openly accepting of anything we deem appropriate. Certainly, more will be "saved" if fewer feel condemned.

You know, pornography is really not so bad, for that matter, "child pornography" should be okay in a few years if we can just warm up to the fact that certain people are simply predisposed to it. Let's make that ok.

Alcohol? Smoking anything of your choice? All should be fine. After all, they are refined from naturally occurring products, created by God.

Taking the Lord's name in vain? You know that is so yesterday's issue. Everybody does it. Let's say that is ok, too.

Sex is something all of the animal kingdom does when and where they want. They are just not intelligent enough to enjoy it like we do. Let's lift up shows that make any sexual choice we want to make okay for anyone to watch. It has no real impact on anyone. Their going to have sex at some point anyway. What's the big deal? Let's rewrite certain "scriptural" texts, to reflect our way of thinking.

Our new motto will be, "Absolute Truth is Gone, the Truth of Your Choice has Come."

The new commandment is this: Do what you want, when you want, anywhere you want. If you offend someone in the process? Oh well, it's always easier to get forgiveness than permission.


We must recognize the difference between the sheep and the goats.

frustration and what i would like to believe is righteous anger, wells up in me at the realization that those the Lord has placed His hand upon, are embracing lies. i need to reach out in love, to them and to the lost. i cannot tolerate what the 'prince of this world' is offering as an alternative to Truth. i must do what i can to minister to those who are falling down, because surely, i am among them.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Last evening in Chandler, Oklahoma we had sweet fellowship. The graciousness and responsiveness of this people is a sweet aroma to our Lord. After we shared, we had the privilege of meeting many of the body. We met several students and many others.

After many words of encouragement from the body, a meeting began in that same room. However, during the time we met the people, a couple stood off to one side, as if waiting for something. After the last person came through the line to greet us, and we began to head for the door, this couple stepped forward.

They embraced us with tear stained faces, and said, "We know what you are going through, and thank you for sharing in this way."

Honestly, by now, we have heard those words many times. None as it turns out, have had quite the impact on me of David and Anne's.

They have raised four children. The youngest is now around the age BJ was when he first went overseas. Flaming red hair and resolve to match, she carried herself with confidence.

Her parents began to share the story of their daughter Mandy. "Mandy also gave her life on the mission field," David said. "She was murdered."

Though my legs were aching to sit down, and my entire body was tired, he had my full attention.

In March of 2005, Mandy was on her way home to sing in church for Easter. She had a heart for the lost, and carried her Bible close by. She shared the Gospel whenever she had the opportunity. She had many opportunities.

Mandy's mission field was controversial. The place she ministered, many would scoff at. Most would tell her she should not do what she was doing. While there is wisdom in those words, and in hind sight, had she not, she would still be here, like BJ, she was compelled to be obedient to what her Savior called her to.

Obedient she was. She already knew the story of her grandfather. He had been a man who wanted to meet needs. In doing so, he met an untimely death...also at the hands of another. Another he had offered assistance to.

This only seemed to strengthen Mandy's resolve. She had recently lost her infant son and then her marriage. Few things rip at the fabric of matrimony like the death of a child.

She stopped at a gas station, near a major city on her journey home to see her family. A young man in need asked her for a ride to California. She told him she was headed in the opposite direction. He then requested a ride to the major interstate. She agreed.

She had picked up hitchhikers many times before. She kept her Bible in the front seat with her. She shared Jesus with them, and had seen the Holy Spirit move in many.

She did not know that this time, the outcome would cost her...her life.

She arrived at the interstate, and asked where he would like to get out. He directed her back off of the interstate to a country road pull-off. Once there, he did the unthinkable.

He took the strap from her Bible, and used it to strangle her. Before he did, he violated her.

He discarded her body, took her money and her car and fled. The car ran out of gas in Dallas. He abandoned it there, and fled to Pennsylvania. He was apprehended 10 days later.

Her body was found by rider's on horseback. Somehow this was fitting, as Mandy had Arabians, and showed them. She kept them at her parents home.

Memorials for her sprang up in churches across the country. Her parents were overwhelmed. They didn't even know anyone at these places. They were blessed by the outpouring of love that came in.

Their resolve to trust their Savior through this devastating journey was strong. So strong that the Lord used them to draw others to himself. Unwavering faith and this strength, is what their lives were about. They were found obedient in this "crucible of suffering" (Becky Higgins).

The meeting was over, the church had now cleared. We seemed to be the only ones left in the building.

David told of how the horses were a reminder of their daughter. He teared up as he spoke tenderly of her.

Her younger sister with the red hair was now tending to them. She was following in her sisters footsteps. The horses were a welcome distraction, but she had one thing on her heart.

She wants to see her sisters' murderer, who has been locked away for life, come to Christ. She would like to be the vessel for his salvation.

I do NOT know the suffering they have experienced. I do know their Savior. Their surrender to Jesus is what each of our lives should be about.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Today is my sister Lynae's Birthday. Sunday is my brother Brad's Birthday. No they are not twins where Brad was stubborn and did not want to come out. Brad is seven years older. I miss them both very much! Happy Birthday Lynae and Brad! I love you!
Those close to me know what a failure I am at Birthday cards. Well, your cards are on the dining room table. I'm sorry, they will be late.

Sunday evening, Deanna and I will be sharing at Chandler Southern, in Chandler, Oklahoma. Please pray for the body to receive what the Lord would desire.

We have all had times where we are overwhelmed by schedules or events in our lives. This week for me has been difficult, not because of schedules or events, but because of profound ministry opportunities the Lord has provided that I do not begin to possess the skill to deal with.

I am so desperately thankful for the presence of the Holy Spirit. The moments when things seem to come off of the hinges for others, are times when you are presented with the opportunities to stand in the gap (those of you who have been here for a while have taught me this). I am amazed at how quickly I come to the end of my own strength and abilities. Yet, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, ministry can still happen.

Sometimes it happens through me, sometimes it happens in spite of me, but the point is, the Lord does not forsake His own. He does send in reinforcements, even when we do not see it.

That doesn't mean the outcome is what we would desire, but it does mean that He is always there, guarding and guiding. I have certainly discovered in my own life, that His presence is most uniquely sensed, when I am at my weakest. It is easier for me in those moments to collapse into His arms, rest in His protection and follow His direction.

Conversely, when I am feeling strong, too often I rely on my own perceived strength. According to Scripture (1 Corinthians) my strength is weakness, and my wisdom, foolishness compared to His. Therein lies a fallacy.

When I think I am strong...I am weak. When I think I am wise...I'm a fool. When I have a weak week, I find because of Him, I am strong...rather, He is strong through me.

His strength rests within my soul and He portions it to me in when I am surrendered and willing. I do not draw from this Well when I am self assured, and ooze self-confidence. I am thankful that I am so needful of Him. I see it everyday, and in every area of my life.

Though is does not make sense to my flesh, the weaker I am, the more His strength is on display. As a matter of fact, 2 Cor. 12:9 says it best of our Lord, "my power is made perfect in weakness."



Thursday, February 08, 2007

When we were children growing up, our home was furnished with gas heat. My mother still lives in that home. It was the only home I ever knew until I moved away to college. Gas heat has advantages and disadvantages.

My brother found particular pleasure in the warmth of the forced air as it came out the vent in the floor. In the cold of winter, it was not uncommon to find him curled up on top of one those vents, reading. The availability of this instant warming method brought the extra layer of insulation his body did not provide.

He was not the only one to frequent those slotted grates, but he was certainly the most appreciative. At this point in his life, the fireplace that warms the central part of his home has drawn him away from floor registers (which is good because at his old age, he'd struggle to get back up).

It is no surprise that I think metaphorically. I've been thinking and writing that way for the duration.

I find that in my own walk, too many times the areas of my life that need the heat, seem to be the farthest from the flame. Too often, I am not smart enough to get the part of my life that needs surrender closer to the fire for purification.

I go to the source for a "fix" because I find the expected outcome. I know where to frequent and what to expect...I get what I want. What I often need is a heat diffuser. A way to spread the heat to the cool spots of my heart. I have not figured out the most efficient way of making that happen.

Oh, I have in my head, and I know the right answers to give others, but when it comes to my own life, sometimes it seems that the cold is encroaching on the heat source, and that somehow a baffle exists between the two, preventing the mixing of air...or the warming of my cold extremities.

Truly, there is only one solution. The problem is that I am lazy and don't want to spend the extra time.

I need to surrender the time I spend doing things that do not bring lifeblood to my frostbitten fingers. If I do not, there will be no change for the better, just more of me will harden off and become useless.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

While Indianapolis has a snow storm, single digit temperatures and below zero wind chill, we have a spring teaser: officially the high yesterday was… are you ready for this? 73 degrees! And we’re not even in California!! Not to last however, this morning it is 33 with a high predicted of 40. Still not severe, just normal winter temps – thank you Father!

Whitney had a test scheduled for 4:30 that she waited around school for, and guess what? They closed school at 4:00. Of course, had she known she could have left at 1:30. Isn’t that the way things happen? Just figures… It took her two and a half hours (normally a twenty minute trip) to get home with the lovely stand-still type of traffic. Always a pleasant way to travel. Frustrating, yet we’re thankful she stayed safe.

I took a long, glorious walk yesterday since it was so beautiful. I’ve been listening to “In Christ Alone.” I had no idea it was originally penned by the Newsboys. I love the celtic sounding version with the ancient flute as the introduction and the clear, mellow female vocal lead. (namely, Adrienne Leisching and Geoff Moore) Have you noticed that there are more male worship leaders than female these days? Just a curious note. The words are so powerful and comforting and inspirational and just plain amazing. You have to sing it over and over cause there are so many words! I hope you’re able to sing it or find a version you love and soak in its full and majestic meaning!

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Brought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

Wow. Let it be so! Glorify Your truth, the only truth, in us today Father!


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I am heavy this morning for the brokenness of many believers. People who have loved and served the Lord, but through disappointment and discouragement lose their way. Some of these continue to behave as though they are true followers, while they are in the company of Christians.

They behave in ritual form and function, but reside behind "whitewashed walls."

Oh that we as a body would offer up encouragement and truth to one another in the wake of open least open to others who also choose to denigrate their flesh.

When I fail, how I wish someone would recognize my "tell" and confront me in love and encouragement. We are very good at judging one another, and alienating the very ones who need our assistance. We are professionals at trying to hide our secret sins...from ourselves.

What we do in perceived veiled darkness is often on display in ways we fool ourselves into thinking cannot be seen. We live in the age of streamlined technology, where we can eavesdrop on each other with keystrokes. Hi-definition monitors let you count the blades of grass on athletic fields or reveal shards of individual sin, sown in a garden of obscurity.

What is done in the cover of darkness is illuminated, yet we act as if we alone have 20/20 vision. We collect friends who act as the false prophets of old. They tell us lies, gilded with alluring aromatic juxtaposition to help us conceal truth. We hear what we want to has become a sweet refrain to soothe our perpetual discontent.

Where is Jesus?

He has not moved. His presence brightens the path, one step at a time. Our footing is secure if we remain on elusive narrows. Too often we choose sidetrips of gluttony in radiant depths of widening deceit.

What is the "turn factor?"

When will His Holiness be enough?

The death toll mounts as we recline behind eroding walls of contentment!


Monday, February 05, 2007

One of the difficulties my son had, was remembering what was his when he went...anywhere. On Sunday mornings, he would go and participate in services. When it was time to leave after, one of us would often have to go in search of him. He routinely got involved in things important to him.

His mind would focus so on what he had been doing, that he would fail to remember things he brought with him. Upon arrival at home, we would discover that he left his Bible at church. This scene played out frequently.

When he went to spend the night at a friends house, he would often forget part of the clothing he came with. To this day, one of his (and our) favorite soccer jerseys vanished from the face of the earth. We've moved three times since then. I think it might be gone forever. I always expect to one day see someone sporting that jersey.

I cannot count the number of articles of clothing that were left behind...somewhere. Relatives homes, friends houses, even the occasional birthday party with someone we didn't know well, he endowed each of them with part of his collection.

We talked about this on too many occasions. I am sure he got sick of hearing it. I am equally sure there were times we nearly came to the end of our joy in trying to find what was lost.

I suppose the extreme of this were the cold winter mornings when he would have no coat to wear, because he had forgotten it at...wherever.

It always seemed to bother us more than it did him. Believe me, we routinely asked him if he had everything when he came to the car to go home. Sometimes, we ran down a mental checklist of what we had seen him come with.

Backpack? Check.
Coat? Check.
Hat? Check.
Sweater? Check.
Homework? Check.
Cello? Check.

Somehow, it did not seem to matter if we asked. There was often something that he did not pack in his bookbag, or had left in his locker. Something we did not remember he had with him.

Initially, when he would forget his homework at school, we made trips back to pick it up so that he could get it done. When it became clear he was learning that we would ALWAYS bail him out, we had to change our approach.

We discovered that the best tool to teach him about responsibility, was to let natural consequences replace our parental safety net. If he forgot his coat, then he would be cold going to school the next day. If he forgot his homework, he had to deal with the bad grade he would receive.

This was not an easy step for us. We felt like bad parents. Who would let their child go to school with a light jacket, when it was snowing outside? (Apparently everyone. Deanna tells me their are literally piles of coats in the lost and found at school).

While natural consequences can be difficult for the parent to allow to happen, they simultaneously teach our children how to be responsible.

Jesus was not being a "bad child" when he remained behind in His Father's house, at the age of 12. He had learned to take care of himself. His parents had taught him to be responsible. He had to fend for himself for food and sleeping arrangements during those three days while his frantic parents searched.

Being a parent brings about the "frantic" mindset from time to time.

With BJ, we had to learn to let him make the mistakes himself. When he did, he usually learned, and paid closer attention.

At the age of 14, he raised nearly $3,000 without our help, because he knew he needed to be busy about his Father's business. That money covered his passage to Peru. His obedience made a difference in the lives of many Peruvians.

He did it again at 15. He learned from a few mistakes he'd made the year before, and implemented changes that made things operate smoothly.

You know the only thing he left behind in Peru? His faith! His passion for Jesus spread among them. Many were saved...and many mourned his loss.

The incredible thing about leaving this behind is that he also got to bring it back home. Faith builds a testimony. It duplicates and grows when shared with others. It changes lives.

The natural consequence of being a young man who learned to be responsible was to walk in obedience, with his sword unsheathed. He didn't tilt at windmills or duel in prideful arrogance.

He simply brought glory to God.


Friday, February 02, 2007

I have a thing for nice, soft, manicured hands. My hands are not my favorite feature but they look a little better with care, preferably, a manicure. Since I play the piano, it gets a little tricky if my nails get too long. OK I know this shows how vain I can be. Feel free to give it to me.

Recently I was talking with a friend about the intensity of the Higgins’ and her response was “that’s why we love you.” How sweet is that?

In the middle school world, life is intense. Drama is the order of the day, every day. One day they hate you, the next day, they tolerate you. They mess with your mind on purpose. They mess with your mind for fun. Often, feeling stressed in the result.

Not unlike many fields you may chose, teaching is a difficult one. Not only because the clientele is unpredictable, but because different states want to torture you with tests and classes and transcripts from 20 years ago, and drown you in paper work and expenses along the way. After a degree in Music Education, 20 plus hours of music workshops and classes and 12 years of practical teaching experience, I was “awarded” a 2 year provisional license here in Oklahoma. Isn’t that nice. It’s provisional because I have to take not one, not two, but three tests costing me 250 dollars.

Excuse me, but do I sound bitter?

Well, I guess the frustration gets to me sometimes. Is all the hassle worth it? I have to believe it is. Life routinely involves hassles. Inconveniences. Interruptions. Work. Effort. Getting off your tushy and doing something. Putting one foot in front of the other when you’d rather give in and give up.

Frustrated and discouraged, I got a manicure yesterday. When we were in Africa, I thought I would never frivolously spend money that way again. Well, it’s been 6 months and I did it and I’m admitting it to you. Do I feel better? Yes, it was nice. I feel very prissy and I guess that’s OK.

When I notice my manicured hands, I pray I will be reminded that inward beauty is of the most importance.

I Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”


Thursday, February 01, 2007

It has snowed again in Oklahoma. Many schools are closed. However, Deanna's is in session today. Because of my love for snow, and because Oklahoma is having a winter like no other, I have received much of the blame (being new arrivals and all). Yeah. It's pretty much my fault, 'cause I'm in control of the weather. Schools are on the verge of having to cancel spring break to recover the days missed.

I do want to offer my thanks this morning to the Lord for allowing me to be in a position where I get to see passion for Jesus spill from one infected student to another. When our students return from the field, their hearts are full to overflowing with the love of Christ. When they return to their places of influence, it is only natural that they begin to pour themselves into others from the overflow within them.

I am hearing from them each week, and as we are in the thick of enlisting students for our upcoming trips, there is a battle raging. Because of the surrender of a few, many new lives are being offered up as a living sacrifice. What an incredible picture this is of how His Word spreads like wildfire if we are a smoldering ember.

It is not surprising however, that simultaneously, the battle rages. Suddenly, where there was no previous sign of trouble, it also rampages...through families, friendships, etc.

One such example that we need to lift up, is a young man I met last November. One of my North Africa team members came home ablaze. Quickly, her passion spread. She began to weep over the phone with me at the incredible things the Lord was doing in lives around her. She was tremendously humbled, and joyful.

I had the opportunity to get to know some of the friends the Lord moved in. Not long after that encounter, one of them began to struggle as the enemy pierced his enthusiasm. All that had been poured into him suddenly seemed lost, and even instantly replaced by hatred and brokenness.

He was taken in by a group known for their affinity for drugs and sex. His life became a contradiction. He alienated his parents. He refuses to worship. "Cutting" has replaced love. His mother finds blood in his room. In moments of rage, he throws towels he's used to clean himself up, at her. Simultaneously hurling unfathomable obscene concepts to break her down.

She has lost hope. She sees little that can be done. Her family is dying before her.

The battle that rages around us is very real! There is no room in our lives for nominal belief or casual prayer. We must be warriors. The enemy seeks to kill and destroy.

The young lady from my team is seeking to intervene. She knows that she is ill-equipped in and of herself for this war. However, we can stand in the gap. We can lift her up as she seeks to be the vessel the Lord uses to restore this young man, his mother, and his family.

Once upon a time he was going to the mission field. Suddenly, he cannot find the "Pearl of great price" that was in his clasp.

If we lay down our swords and armor, because we fail to see the enemy, or withdraw into a time of rest, be assured Satan's attack will come.

Call him John, for the Lord knows who he really is!