Friday, March 30, 2007

Too often we care too little about them. Fortunately, they are never nameless. They are never faceless. They are never worthless in God's eyes. Though we may struggle to see it, they are of great value to our Lord.

Rudolpho had very few teeth left. His hair seemed made of ordinary table spices. Life and age had been hard on him, and his appearance seemed to reflect every scar from every discouragement. He stood inside his corner property, in front of his house made of plywood. Around the perimeter of what was his, stood a fence made of pallet wood, stacked on end, two tiers high.

As he watched our team, he looked to be in prison rather than safe at home. We were working the Colonia Victoria, one of the poorest drug regions of Nuevo Laredo. Rudolpho was entranced, seemingly lashed to the fence, unable to leave.

He peered from behind a broken slat that enabled his view. Farm animals called from inside his compound, more land than one would expect for this poor neighborhood. The buildings on it hardly qualified as such. Most were made of scrap wood, sheet metal, cardboard and any other materials handy to form enclosures.

The Lord called me to him. He was unworthy of the King, but needed to hear the gospel. His worthiness did not stem from his position in life, his lack of wealth, nor the country he resided in. For his current reservation in eternity stood beside the rich mans down the road. His undesirable qualities were evenly matched with the wealthiest man in the city...they both were separated from God because of sin in their lives.

Sharing the gospel with Rudolpho was like giving a tall glass of water to marathon runner who just crossed the finish line. His thirst was deep. Drinking of it slaked his need.

He was uneducated. His spouse hid just inside the decaying front door of their home. Did this man struggle with drugs? Was alcohol his foe? It did not matter. He clearly was a victim of Satan's attacks.

Rudolpho gave his heart to Jesus! He was now a son of God, a prince in His Kingdom. For him was now reserved a place in Heaven. His righteousness now was complete. The Father would see him as pure and holy, because of who he belonged to. The lack of running water in a compound such as this no longer mattered, for he had the Water of Life.

His possessions matter not. His earthly plight carries no weight in the eternal realm. His inheritance is assured by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What he has cannot be taken from him. He is now worthy in the sight of the King...because of the Lamb that died for him.

Please pray for Rudolpho as he begins life anew.


Deanna and I will be participating in the Go Celebration at First Baptist Church Broken Arrow, Oklahoma this weekend. It begins today, and ends Sunday evening. I will be speaking to the students of this body on Sunday morning, after briefly addressing them on Saturday evening. Please lift them up, that they would let go of the world, and cling to the one who has set them free.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I believe there are those times in our lives when the Lord tends to our needs in ways that are most tangible, yet unexplainable.

I know from study that angels exist, and intervene at times we do not expect. But then, as American believers, we often do not expect supernatural encounters. If they do occur, we try to explain them away. We perceive our lives as hard or difficult. There are times when they are. But relative to what happens in other nations, our lives are easy, wealthy, privileged. Perhaps not by our own standards, but certainly by comparison to what others do not have.

It is not my intent to bash American privilege or progress, but simply to point out that in light of all we have, we depend less on God than we should. He is there, even when we are not paying attention. He still dispatches His Angels to assist us in our time of need. However, we often fail to recognize it.

Many of us have such stories, but are often ashamed or embarrassed to share them, for fear others will not believe. Our Father in heaven believes. It matters not, if those around us don't. We should share in ways that bring Him glory, and let others deal with whether or not it makes them uncomfortable. Our lives are about bringing Him glory.

It was the wee hours of the morning on that day that we did not believe would come. He had taken a significant downturn. The life that had been hanging in the balance found the scales tip for the glory of God in eternal fashion.

I stood in that room, staring at the ceiling. I had heard the stories of those who had departed. Their spirits hovering above the room. I mouthed the words I love you, just in case he could see me...finally.

I bounced my gaze gently from the ceiling to his body. I knew who he served. I knew who I served. I believed with all of my heart that He could raise him up. One can call it a father's grief, but part of me believed very strongly that the Lord would raise him up. His glory would certainly be multiplied by this resurrection.

The very hour when his life left him, He could restore it...He could raise him up.

It was not to be. It was hard to accept. It was hard to believe.

My family was crowded around his bed. All medical paraphernalia had been evacuated. We could actually get close to him...they even offered to let us climb up next to him to say goodbye.

I sat at the head of the bed. My hands were holding onto the iv posts. I did not realize how tightly clenched my grip was. I was lost in thought. I was trying to bring glory to my Lord and Savior amid the most extreme hurt I had ever felt.

I wondered what the upcoming days would be like. I wondered what his view was like. I wished it could have been me. He was doing so much for the King. His serving and writing was inspiring to so many.

I went to stand up, pulling hard on the iv poles. I felt hands slide between my rib cage and underarm on each side. I was lifted to my feet in effortless fashion.

Grateful for the assistance, I turned to offer my thanks...but no one was there. I was startled.

I looked from side to one.

There was no doubt in my mind, that at the peak of my brokenness in those moments, my Father in Heaven had sent a messenger to me. He raised me up to show me He was still in control. He had given to us so many times in so many ways throughout the 6 weeks in the hospital. And now, He had given to me again.

"Behold, I am with you, and have not forsaken you," were the words I sensed.

For six weeks we believed that our God was going to bring healing to our son. That He was raising him him a platform from which he could minister.

It was not to be.

What was to be?

My God of compassion, through the most dire of circumstances, showed me that it was not my son alone who was being "raised up" to bring Him glory, but that He had work for my family to do...for me to do.

Sometimes the darkest of hours yield to the greatest intensity of light...that is, the Light of the world!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My nature is to get tense when things get hectic. I don't like this about myself, and have seen the Lord work in my life to make improvements over time. However, it is too easy for me to become short with people.

I have gone through times of significant growth in this arena, and times when I felt like all of the growth had been lopped off in one motion. I am never proud of this. It is a side that people see of me as they get to know me, that should not be present. Sometimes, I even hurt people and don't seem to be aware that I am doing so until it is too late.

Having said that, I want to show you something else I have learned, amid this struggle. I am pretty sure I have shown you this before, but it is a powerful enough lesson that it needs to be repeated. The concept is really quite simple.


Over the past two days, I have shared Sylvia's story with you. What I did not tell you was how that story came about.

We arrived in Mexico on Saturday afternoon. One of the first things we do upon arrival is have the students call their parents, and then take a team picture and post it under the "trip update" section of We do this so that parents know their child is safe, and so they can see their child on the mission field, looking healthy and happy (it's hard not to worry as a parent).

While our team was being trained in the drama on Saturday afternoon, I headed over to the internet cafe to post a written update on our trip down, and the team picture. Upon opening the website, and going to the page which allows me to do this, I found the website was not cooperating. I could not load pictures. I was frustrated.

I returned to the church where we were living for the week, and told David. David is our computer guy on staff. He asked some specific questions, most of which I could not answer, but determined that we needed to go back and try again.

The next day, which was Sunday, I went back. Perhaps it was a fluke. In all honesty, when the pictures would not load, I didn't even try to write an update of our travels the previous day. I returned with a heightened sense of annoyance over technical issues, knowing that parents were waiting to see and hear what was happening.

When I sat down at the computer I was convinced it wasn't going to work. I was very "Disappointed" over the issue. Upon landing in the chair that day, young Sylvia began talking to me. I worked feverishly to write an update while trying to talk to Sylvia in a language I have far from mastered. I had to do one or the other.

Those who know me, know I struggle to do two things at once. I am intense when focused, and can accomplish a lot at a breakneck speed, but don't ask me to chew gum, or talk to you at the same time. I don't do well with distractions. Guess what life is full of? Guess what Sylvia was?
Guess what happened at the computer. No, it still would not work.

Fortunately, I serve a God who is flawless. Even when in turmoil we can be aware of what He brings our way, if we understand some basic principles. I have learned that when I am disappointed over something to look for the opportunity that is awaiting me, rather than whining over the distraction.

On this day, my heightened sense of frustration over technology found me looking for the opportunity the Lord was sure to bring. He brought it. He always does. I just have to learn to look for it, and then be obedient to pursuing what He leads me to.

It is much easier to whine and moan over our disappointments. As a society we generally have learned that "backing our truck up and dumping our junk" on somebody will help us feel better. The truth is, that is often not true. It just perpetuates the aggravation...we relive it while retelling it.

Finding the "Divine Appointment" amid "Disappointment" and then taking advantage of the opportunity before you, will yield a testimony. A testimony will always help eliminate a gripe session.

Griping brings frustration to the lips and ears of men.

Testimonies bring praise and glory to the heart of God.

Look for the "Divine Appointments" He has for you. Share them when you have them.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The only person to fly into Laredo, Texas, where our team picked her up and crossed the border, Amanda is a slight young lady. She is known as a leader in her youth group, and has seven sisters in a blended family. Amanda is an over-achiever, who is very disciplined, and has perfectionist tendencies.

Coming to Mexico was a big deal for her. She stepped outside of her comfort zone to follow God's call on her life. Only, going through drama training was more than she bargained for. She began to question the wisdom of her decision to come.

She was cast as a "knight." Many of the other "knights" had learned the drama from others in their youth group (who had done it last year). The choreography was complex and frustrating to her. She felt like she would never get it. She had come to the end of herself, and was ready to give up. She wanted to master it immediately, and that was not happening.

Amid her frustration a young Mexican woman walked through her team of knights, obviously looking for someone.

Amanda may have noticed her, and she may not have. Sylvia, also small in frame, was unassuming, but walked with confidence. The team was used to having nationals walk in and out of the practicing area. There would have been no reason for her to be alerted to this situation.

Sylvia had just given her heart to Jesus, and her sparkle had become a full blown expression of joy and expectation. Her heart had been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and she repeated "I am clean and I have new life," over and over in Spanish.

She asked Marjorie if she could take a shower. She had not had one in many days. At my consent, Marjorie returned with her to the bathroom. She was equipped with toiletries and a towel. As she and Marjorie talked, new issues were revealed.

Sylvia was homeless, and had only the clothes on her back and a couple of items in her unusual stout black plastic bag. Sylvia bathed in the new Light of God's redemption in her life. She wanted a fresh start. She knew there were some things that would impede her freedom in that.

Embarrassed and still weeping with joy, she continued to share with Marjorie. She was known to some by her outfit, but the police would recognize her by that black bag she carried. That stout black plastic bag was a Scarlet Letter in her culture.

It was police issue. It was given to her upon her arrest for prostitution. Having it in her possession, brought the attention of the police back on her. She would be re-arrested, and held until she granted "favors" to them. Then she could be released, only to repeat this process over and over again.

She needed to not look like a prostitute. A simple request from Sylvia became the key to open the eyes of Amanda's heart to all that she was enduring. Amanda was a delightful young woman who found herself not feeling so gracious up this moment.

Marjorie came to me and said, "Do we have any underwear or clothes we can give Sylvia?" Then she relayed the details of Sylvia's situation.

The Lord quickly moved in my heart to seek Amanda's input. You see, Amanda and Sylvia were the same size.

In the ensuing moments, Amanda flowed with the grace that the Lord had instilled in her. The grace that heretofore had been tucked away behind a defensive and frustrated young woman, came spilling out into the life of Sylvia.

Amanda raced to her bag and headed to the bathroom. The Lord had moved her to the core. She gave Sylvia a complete set of clothing. Nothing was excluded! She gave her one more thing. Hearing Sylvia's story, and wanting to truly minister to her, Amanda gave Sylvia her shoulder bag.

Sylvia could negotiate the city in her new clothes and bag without the beacon of her former life, her former police issue, black bag.

Amanda, Marjorie and a few others who got involved with Sylvia gathered around her to say goodbye. Her joy was overflowing. Tears continued to stream down her face as if they were racing to be the first to touch her new clothing. This young woman was transformed!

She stopped to thank me. She was genuine and gracious. Her joy overflowed.

There was so much more we wished we could do for Sylvia, but we were limited by a number of factors. We had to entrust her into the watch-care of the Almighty... her Lord and Savior!

Suddenly, Amanda was no longer inhibited by circumstance. Her understanding of the drama came much more freely. The Lord had orchestrated a series of people and events to converge at one time in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. This event would begin a work of His power on display in this team, that would seal His anointing on them for the entire week.

The Holy Spirit hovered over this team, and empowered them to lead more than 250 people to Christ! Praise God! These people were connected to local pastors in each region of this immense city.

God is doing a work, and we have the privilege of consistently choosing to join Him!

Amanda was planning to spend the summer at camp. God moved in her heart and gave her a brokenness for others. She had the opportunity to lead many people to Christ. She has come to realize a new calling for the summer. Amanda is going to Panama to share Jesus with them!

Praise God for His incredible provision for each of us!

Sylvia took her tube top and a couple of other items that marked her former way of life, and ceremonially dropped them into a garbage bag, declaring in Spanish, a phrase implying she was "throwing away" her old way of life, and was walking in New Life in "JesuCristo!" That bag and its contents were presented to me. She truly was leaving it all behind.

Wow! My God is AWESOME!!!


Monday, March 26, 2007

The team was practicing hard. We had arrived only hours before, and we were trying to get our drama ready to use as our primary tool for conveying the Gospel. Some were catching on quickly and others were struggling to get it. Would it be ready?

The sun was high as I headed down the dirty street towards the internet cafe. A newspaper vendor called from his position, trying to sell the latest stories. Yesterday's news blew across the face of this city finding cracks and scrapes to lodge in. The air smelled stale, like salsa mixed with sweat.

I made the final turn to head up the stairs to where the cyber cafe would allow me to update many curious parents on how our trip was beginning. This staircase was a favorite haunt of young couples who wanted to express themselves physically. I dodged between pairs of them as I made my way. I easily noticed them, but for some reason, they stopped to notice me. Perhaps they were more engaged in show than love.

I entered through the dirty glass door to the sounds of video games. The young man at the counter seemed embarrassed that he had to speak Spanish to me. I shared my need in a broken sentence. "Yo queiro un machina por media hora, por favor." He directed me to a computer holding up 10 fingers to indicate the number of the unit I was to use.

As I sat down I noticed a young lady seated perpendicular to me. She had beautiful eyes. She was young, maybe 12 or 13. In this culture the young ladies often mature sooner than in the states. Maybe she was only 10 or 11.

I began my quest for the website, so I could post an update of our young trip.

She began to speak to me in broken English. I answered her in broken Spanish. She was very friendly. Her name was Sylvia. Her eyes had a bit of a twinkle, but there was a deep sadness residing there.

Our conversation would occur intermittently as we continued working at our stations. She asked why I was here, where I was from, where I was staying. When she discovered I was a missionary it sparked her interest.

I asked if she had Jesus in her heart. She said no, that she had many spiritual problems. I told her she needed Jesus. She seemed to agree, but was preoccupied with thoughts about her difficult life. She told me she was a prostitute. My heart sank.

She told me she was 16, I found it hard to believe, but acted as if it were truth. For the 30 minutes that I battled with this foreign computer, I struggled to convey the message of God's love in a language I don't speak well. Her 30 minutes were up just before mine.

I said goodbye to her as I headed out the door and back to the church where we were staying.

Around 10 minutes later, as I was seated on the lower level of the building watching the team work out their roles in the drama, I was startled to see her enter the room. She searched the room and found me quickly. I motioned her over. I introduced her to some of the leadership.

She met David (my co-worker) and was cordial, deliberate, clearly she had met many men. I took her to meet my wife and Katie (another co-worker). She was very friendly, and then things turned quickly.

Back at the cafe, I had shared with her that God loved her, and could make her new. Here, out of the eye shot of most men, in the presence of two American women, she began to sob. She poured out her story as I searched for one of our team, who knew Spanish.

When we returned, I asked Sylvia if the three of us could talk privately. Marjorie, one of our team members had joined us to interpret.

As the three of us walked toward a private place, suddenly, Sylvia saw the bathroom and hurried into it. I turned around unaware that I had lost her. Marjorie went in to find her, and came out with tears running down her face.

Marjorie said, "She is in there at the sink, scrubbing her hands really hard. Do you know what she said to me? Sylvia told me as she wept, I am not clean enough to go out and speak with that man."

"I am not clean enough to go out and speak with that man?" This thought caromed off of the corners of my mind. Who did she think I was? I am nobody!

Not to her. To her, I was the answer she had been seeking. Well, not me personally, but she saw what was about to happen and seemed to know that she was about to encounter a Holy and Mighty God.

The two of them came into the room as I waited. They were seated on the bench in front of me. I began to share with Sylvia through Marjorie. Marjorie too, saw the magnitude of what was happening and fought to control her own emotions.

Sylvia had lived with her mother, but did not know her father. The man that was residing in her home (with her mother) was not related to them. Sylvia was raped repeatedly by this man. This went on until she decided that if she was going to have to endure this, she might as well get paid for it. She left home, and began making her own living. She feared she was too filthy for a Holy God to embrace.

I shared with her about "new snow" and how white and pure it was. I told her that her life could begin over again, that she would no longer be filthy in God's eyes. She could have a brand new life in Jesus Christ (JesuCristo). She wanted this desperately.

She wanted the opportunity to begin again, a life where she did not have to scrub the dirt from the outside, but would be cleansed from the inside. She poured her heart into her prayer to receive Jesus.

The initial sparkle in Sylvia's eyes had undergone a full countenance makeover! She was clean!

Tomorrow, I will finish her story.


My sincerest thanks to you Brad for writing each day last week. You do so, very well, and I appreciate you pouring your gift out right here! You are such a blessing to me!

Friday, March 23, 2007

It has been an interesting morning, week really, in trying to write. There are times that you think you have a thought that is "inspired" or "perfect", write out your thoughts and then it won't post...or that you write something out in advance and sit to type it in know it isn't right. The continuing purpose of this blog is to above all else, glorify Christ, and maybe what I thought I should write didn't. In any event, I accept His editing sent in various forms as a vast improvement over anything I might come up with before-hand.

My timidity has a tendency to keep me inside myself too often and the thought of just going "off the cuff" generates anxiety in me most of the time. For that reason, I do tend to sit and write out my thoughts before sharing them. However, as I stated above there are times this just isn't right or just won't work. And you know what, that is the way life is --the challenges come at us most of the time unexpectedly and without adequate time to prepare for them.

This is exactly why we should "always be prepared to give a defense of the gospel" -- we need to spend time in study (not just reading) so that when we find ourselves in a position to share we can do so. We don't have to have all of the answers at the ready because we just can't, but we need to be doing our part. When we are and these challenges or opportunities come it is amazing to see how the Holy Spirit provides the words that we need.

This is one of the things I struggle with the most and I know I am not alone. "Experts" say that our number one fear is speaking in public (even higher than death - which is as it should be if you follow Christ). When you add to that something that has become as controversial as faith and our basic belief system, whoa....I don't want to deal with it.

The closer we draw to Him the more we find we can rely on Him, to provide our needs, opportunities and words. A very big part of our faith is trusting Him to fill in the voids we fear, to speak through us when we don't know what to say. After all, it is in our weaknesses that His strength is made clear. I believe that the more we allow Him to use us, the more He will -- and in ways we might never anticipate.

We need to dig into His Word folks and come to know it in our hearts. Tougher days are on the horizon and we need to be ready to give an answer to those who have questions, or those who are literally dying to hear.

Thanks for letting me share,


Thursday, March 22, 2007

When Brent and I were growing up in Marion he had to put up with my presence many times that he would have preferred not to have. We are two years apart in age and as a boy, that can be a big difference.

Brent and his friends were of course always bigger and stronger than I was but they actually put up with me much better than many kids would have. They let me play football with them, "ditch-um" (a "cooler" version of hide-and-seek) and other activities. I won't say that Brent or his friends were always happy to have me around because they weren't, but they could have made it much worse for me than they did (especially when playing football with a little runt of a brother).

They even came up with a nickname for me - "tag-along", or as I more often heard, "t-a". I did have a few friends of my own, but I was generally shy and introverted so it was never a large circle, and I always felt more secure with Brent around. Of course, there were those times when Brent let me know he would be happier if I weren't there (what teen or pre-teen boy wants his little brother hanging around all of the time?) but I don't recall too many of those and they weren't ugly.

I do recall several occassions when his friends didn't want me around, or that they just decided I was fair game because I was a smaller, easy target, and they would blindside me with a tackle, a snowball or something else. It was at those times that Brent's protective nature was jarred loose and he would let them know that it wasn't open season on me. I remember one particular occassion when he physically intervened, then put out a verbal assault aimed at the perpetrator, took my hand and we headed home.

Now that we are older things haven't changed so much and I still look up to Brent, now in more and different ways than I did when we were boys. He and his family have continued to be very important to me, as all of my family is. It has been very difficult to watch Brent, Deanna, Lauren and Whitney go through the events of the past year and a half. It is interesting how some gifts bloom through hardship.

I still looked to him for much of my social interaction and now that he and Deanna are in Tulsa I am having to do some more growing up. I do better some days than others but I miss them very much. But there are hundreds of others out there who are gaining much by his presence, by his leadership and benefitting from the love of Christ that he and Deanna live each day. I know that many of you are in this number and I can't tell you how much your support means to them.

I am so grateful that Jesus, while being the son of God, is in fact closer than a brother - and for me that is saying something. Through his Holy Spirit we are given all that we can ever need, in good days and bad, through lonliness and fear, anxiety and pain, and yes - the good times too. I know that you have heard it before but it is true, if you feel a distance has come into your walk with the Lord it isn't because he has moved.

Father, thank you for family, for friends (even those we haven't met)...for your Lordship in our lives, and your love. May your love be what others notice about us each day.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I recall one day when BJ had come home from school on the bus and was hurt and frustrated because one of the other boys on the bus had called him a derogatory name in front of the other kids. As I recall, he was still in grade school but that didn't lessen the frustration or hurt. His face showed his frustration with the boy as he recounted what had happened and tried to process through it.

Can you recall a time when you knew that you had hurt, or maybe let down a loved one simply by a look that came over their face (and burned into your memory)? Maybe a time when anger got the best of you or they overheard you saying something that was hurtful? Do you recall how you felt as you realized what had happened?

Imagine how Peter must have felt after having just denied knowing Jesus for the third time. Not only was his denial trumpeted to him by a rooster crowing, but Luke 22:61 says "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." Peter, like Judas before him, "went out and wept bitterly" over what he had done (but unlike Judas went on to serve the King he had denied that day).

Talk about "if looks could kill." This look, however, wasn't one of hate or anger, I believe, but one of deep and knowing hurt at the denial of a friend at one of the darkest hours of Jesus' life. How must Christ have felt as he realized betrayal and denial from not just those who hated him, but those who loved Him as well? I imagine that there was also compassionate understanding in the look that Christ gave Peter, but there is no doubt that the countenance of Christ at that moment has to have been one of the most convicting moments someone could experience.

This incident in the life of Christ serves as evidence that He did in fact know the pain of being a man - the emotional as well as the physical. This is somehow encouraging to me in times when I am feeling low and wondering if God truly understands my pain or frustration. I take heart in knowing that Peter was the rock on which Christ would build his kingdom, yet he denied knowing him in a moment of desperation. Christ knows that we are not perfect. This isn't license to deny Christ to save ourselves (so to speak), but an illustration of the depth of the grace for those of us who will never deserve His favor.

The experience in BJ's life was one of those that most of us experience as we grow up. But he was never to complain when someone called him by another name that many today see as or use as derogatory, one that truly did represent who he was - "Christian".

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Could I be Judas? More to the point, could I do what Judas did and choose to betray my Lord?
This thought was rolling around in my head recently after my pastor had been reviewing Judas' betrayal of Jesus. (sidebar - I always wondered why it was necessary for Judas to identify Jesus with a kiss, or at all for that matter. You would think that the people who hated him so passionately would at least know what he looked like, though this was before the time of mass media. They had to have sent others to do their dirty work for them so that they could keep themselves "clean".)

One would assume that Judas was at one time a believer in Jesus' teaching since he appeared to have accepted the call of Christ. Yet somewhere along the way he appears to have decided that Jesus wasn't who he wanted him to be, or that his passion became sidetracked. As the money handler, maybe Judas preferred the idea of running with the privelaged to serving the poor and helpless. This idea isn't so strange, look at how much energy we put into drawing favor from our well-to-do or well-connected friends in relation to how we interact with those who are not blessed in these ways.

Maybe Judas was disappointed that Jesus wasn't establishing an earthly kingdom immediately or tired of focusing on the needs of others. Whatever his reason(s) he ultimately decided that 30 pieces of silver were worth more than his relationship with the Son of God and he not only turned his back on him but betrayed him with a kiss.

What would buy my betrayal? Could a desire to follow Him really wear thin if He were to take me down a road I don't like? Could I tire of serving the needs of others if I am sincerely seeking to serve Christ? Or could I find the offer of money, position or things too compelling to resist and with a kiss, or a half-hearted apology turn from Him -- or on Him?

Judas walked with Christ when He was in a physical form, beside Him on a daily basis seeing Him perform miracles, yet he betrayed him. I can see the majesty of Christ all around me and in the actions and words of people around me; He has given me His word in scriptures but that physical element is "missing". Could I betray him?

While we don't want to believe that we could do so we saw it in Judas' life and we see it happen in the lives of others around us. We must stay focused on His word, on His call for our lives and not let the fruit of the world draw us away from drawing closer to Him. We must not lose heart when evil seems to be winning and we must not lose heart if we lose focus because He will not turn his back on us when we come humbly back to Him seeking forgiveness with only a broken spirit to give in return.

After his betrayal of Christ Judas gave into his despair in a tragic way. Do not despair if you feel that you have betrayed Him, instead, return to Him and learn the depths of His grace.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

In response to information from a coworker, I made my way out to the camp's pool house because there was water on the floor and "the sound of running water." It is still winter in Indiana, the water is shut off at the main and their definitely shouldn't be the sound of running water in a winterized pool house.

I found the water running across the floor from the corner where the water main comes into the little building, though the main itself was hidden from view by mounds of insulation used to keep the winter away. Focusing on exposing the problem area, I ran to the corner, reached down and pulled on the insulation only to be startled back across the room by movement a few inches from my face along with a hissing sound. A little raccoon sat on a shelf adjacent to the insulation in a state of obvious disgust with my presence; it had been inches from my face as I had bent down to address the water problem and fortunately, hadn't decided to exact it's vengence in a more physical way than a hiss.

I'm not certain which one of us had been more suprised, but after one of us ran across the room (me) and the other layed down on the shelf and covered his eyes (the raccoon), I took stock of the situation at hand. Under the insulation there was water spraying from a 2 inch split in the pipe, running across the floor to the drains. This little cat-sized raccoon had nested down in the insulation and as the electrical plug laying on the floor attested, had managed to unplug the heat tape that was wrapped around the few inches of the pipe below the valve that shuts the main off. This kept the pipe from freezing if the insulation did not.

The raccoon knew it was caught and didn't know what else to do to get out of the situation so it had assumed this comical posture - he was in full view, sprawled long-ways on the shelf with his front "hands" covering his eyes, just like a little child playing peek-a-boo. I was hoping that he at least was experiencing humiliation and shame for his transgression but somehow I doubt it.

In some ways I am no different than this little animal was. I may think that my sins are hidden only to cover my eyes with rationalizations when convicted or caught. Because I forget that God is present at times I think He isn't aware of what I am doing -- but our leaking pipes tend to give away our "secret" sins. His word tells us that He knows the number of hairs (or former hairs) on our head so can we really think that He isn't aware of everything we do?

This raccoon didn't know that the outlet, once unplugged, would lead to the destruction of its perfect, dry nest. Likewise, we can't always anticipate how far-reaching the consequences of our actions will be when we choose to disobey God. We may choose to nap on the shelf overlooking the devistation we have caused and we may get away with it for hours, days or months; but one day the pool house door will slide open and we will be held accountable.

Grateful for His grace,


(the interview that Brent referred to last week was a private arrangement made for the book about BJ's life which will be available in January 2008. Bart Millard very graciously shared the influence that BJ's writings, as shared through this blog site, had on his life and inspired the writing of the song "I Would Die for You.")

Praise to the Lord and keep praying: Brent shared by phone that though the team is still in training in Mexico, their presence has already led to a 16-year old prostitute giving her heart to the Lord!

Friday, March 16, 2007

The team is gathering this morning. Flights are converging, vans are being fueled, and gear is being stowed. Soon we will be headed back to Mexico to share Jesus.

When BJ returned from Peru the last time, he seemed to know that I would be going to Mexico. He shared it with his teammates. He seemed to know that Lauren would be serving in North Africa...with him. He told her that she would, but she just did not know it yet.

I have discovered something in this walk. The closer we are to God, the more we know of His mind. His Holy Spirit shares with us as we are ready to receive. Truths are unlocked all the time if we deny ourselves.

I am not calling BJ a prophet. I am just saying that when our hearts and minds become one with our Lord, some pretty cool stuff happens.

The hearers do not always agree right away, but in time, often come to the same understanding.

I am thankful for my son. I miss him. I miss his closeness with his Savior, and how inspiring that is/was. I am thrilled to see Christ in my daughters. I see Him reflected in their decisions, and their attitudes in serving. I am thankful to be part of a family that loves Jesus. I am thankful to serve beside Deanna, David and Katie, as we lead a team of 29 down to follow the Lord in obedience.

My desire is to draw closer to Him, and to lead this team to do likewise.

God is an amazing God. I am thankful that He cared enough for me to send His Son Jesus, to die for my sin. He has raised up an army, and we are going to serve Him!

Have a blessed 10 days. Thank you Brad in advance!

Thank you Bart and Rusty for making the interview happen!

Please keep this team lifted before the Throne of Grace.


Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Mom, Happy Birthday to you!!! (on Sunday)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I don't like change very much. I'm not very good at it. I have a friend who enjoys change. I love her, but I don't understand her.

Today, I was forced to change the format of this blog. I got pretty annoyed as it was upsetting my routine. I don't know if it will look any different to you or not. I do know that Google is pretty excited that I changed. It's like I joined their little club and they are proud of me.

One thing I like is that now it seems to be the large print version. At least the "post creation" mechanism is. I don't have to wear my reading glasses while I write. Or maybe when I joined this little club my eyes were healed! Wow, no more Lasix (how do you spell that word?) surgery cause google will fix your eyes for free! That's change I could deal with. They should probably advertise.

They have been telling me for months that I needed to convert to the new format. I like the old format. Do you know how long it took me to know how to use the old format? My friend Jeff who put this blog together in the beginning probably got tired of my whining about how to do stuff.

I am afraid that when I log out (I feel like captain kirk when I say that) I won't be able to get back in. I will probably have to remember something that I never knew. I will be in Mexico after today...well, headed there anyway, and my brother has kindly agreed to keep this up. The problem is, I don't know if I can tell him how to access the "creation page." I could tell him how to get to it the old way, but I am pretty confused right now about this new and improved system.

I think it is pretty incredible that what began over 2,000 years ago has never changed! The way to restore your relationship to God is the same today as it was after the resurrection of Christ!

Wow! It's like He knew I was going to struggle with change. He knew this morning was coming when I would be unhappy with google (that word sounds like something that is stuck in my nose or throat that I want out right now), and just for guys like me, He made sure that we did not have to change the rules midstream.

The God of yesterday is still God today. He does not change. We change over time. Some of us get much better looking, some of us learn to use new tools on the computer, Some of us have our view of God enlarged.

You know, the change I do like is when my Savior knocks down the walls I tend to build around my understanding of Him. He is always showing me that He is so much more than I think He is. I constantly find out that I am not capable of doing the things He has set before me if I don't rely on Him.

His changeless strength and power that are revealed in my own weakness and resistance to allowing Him to birth new understanding in me is an amazing thing.

I love Him for that. And because of Him, I can love my friend who loves change, even though I don't understand her.



Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The other night, Deanna and I went to the Opera. I can't believe I'm telling anybody about this. A "friend" from school gave her tickets to see Carmen. Deanna was so excited. Secretly, I wanted the name and address of this "friend."

She sheepishly told me about said extravaganza, one night before we were supposed to go. I think she was afraid I might not want to go. Pffgh! What would make her think that?

I asked her if I had to wear a tux. She didn't know. We've never been to the Opera. We've only seen people of more means than our own attend the same in shows about it. They all dress in uncomfortable clothing. I really don't get it.

I did not have long to "look forward" to this precious little event. I went to bed, woke up, and it was tonight...ahhh!

I found out that when you tell other people you are taking your wife to the Opera, women think you must be pretty incredible. Men laugh at you.

I spent my work day trying to justify the idea of taking a perfectly good Friday night and spending it on such frivolity. Surely there was a "Law and Order" rerun on.

As a man, I thought, "Where is my backbone? I should have come up with some excuse!" As a husband, I thought, "Alright, she has put up with me for 24 years, I guess I can go to one Opera." I like thinking like a man more than thinking like a husband.

I did not wear a tux. I did wear everything but a tie. Deanna looked gorgeous! Wow! Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all!

We drove downtown to the Opera house. Tulsa has an Opera house? Yep.

We paid to park our car. From the $5.00 I had in my wallet, it cost me $3.00 to park. "I hope we don't have to pay for anything else," I muttered.

We got inside, and they were not seating yet. What in the world does that mean, "we're not seating yet?" Did the seats need cleaned and you waited until now to get it done?" I thought.

People were bumping into me. People who appeared to have a lot of money were bumping into me. Deanna had to go to the bathroom, and left me standing here alone, and I am about as comfortable here as I am in a scrapbooking store, and people are bumping into me. I hope they don't realize I only have $2.00 left, they will ask me not to touch them...oh that's right, they bumped me!

Finally the doors opened. We proceeded to our seats. Opera tickets are expensive. This money should go into the offering plate at church.

We walked and walked. How could this be so far? This building cannot be this big!

When we neared our seats we realized that we were "fortunate." Our seats were three rows from the front! Wow, her "friend" really spent a lot of money on these seats. I need to be a little more respectful.

I feared that when the "fat lady" sang, I was going to be able to see her sweat. I did not want to see her sweat. I hoped she did not make any sudden movements, cause I was within range.

Did you know that they sing all the way through Opera? Are you kidding me? They pretended to be in Spain, sang in French and I only understand English. Twice they stopped to talk, twice!?! Am I supposed to understand what is happening?

Part way through, I realized that they were adding English subtitles above the stage on the front wall at the top. Maybe that makes them "toptitles," I really don't know. What I do know is that I got a crook in my neck, I craned it up and to the left so I could read what I was seeing...oh wait, I wasn't seeing it, cause I was reading toptitles. I had to look too hard to be able to read. I had to make a choice, see or read?

I started bouncing my gaze, well my whole head, back and forth like I was at a ping pong tournament.

I don't think it is supposed to be this much work. I should get paid for this or something.

I grew up hearing Don Meredith (or somebody) say, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." I proudly announced to Deanna at intermission, that we would know when it was over, cause the large woman who was in every scene but never sang a solo, I mean aria, was going to belt a final note or two (and then we could leave).

She tolerated my musing, but was not impressed.

The first half of this thing lasted two hours. Two hours! This was a marathon. I would never let any woman complain about the length of a football game again. They last three, and it looked like we were in for a good four hour examination. I wondered what was happening on Law and Order SVU.

C'mon fat lady, get up and sing to me!

Don really let me down. It was over, the star died a horrible death, people came and bowed, over and over and over, and no fat lady song. People were shouting BRAVO, BRAVO!!!(what did that tv network have to do with this show?) I was confused.

We turned to leave.

I guess the difference between a musical and an opera, is what language they sing it in. No. That doesn't work, cause "Phantom of the Opera" was in English, at least the movie was. That was set in France and they spoke English. At least I could figure out what was going on, I think.

Truly, we had a wonderful evening together. We enjoyed the Opera. We would go again.
I am thankful for these little blessings the Lord sends our way when we most need them. He is so faithful!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We are amid a very busy week as we prepare to take a team of 30 to Mexico. We leave for Nuevo Laredo on Friday afternoon. Tonight Deanna and I will be heading to Owasso, Ok. to share with a mission team from Texas, who are here to serve. Tomorrow night we will be at Ridgeway Baptist Church in Sapulpa, speaking.

Overnight we have had the privilege of entertaining friends from Indiana. What a blessing to us to have them in our home. Thank you for praying for this ministry and being faithful to our Savior. God Bless You.


Monday, March 12, 2007

I suppose it was inevitable. That at the conclusion of a powerful time of ministry from the Lord, someone would ask the obvious, but difficult question.

I know many of you were praying.

Last night I returned to the campus of Oklahoma State University. There, I had the privilege of addressing a group of Christian fraternity brothers from "Brother Under Christ" (Beta Upsilon Chi). This same weekend, they had attended a retreat. I believe the Lord has moved among them as He prepares them for obedience.

They are not used to having speakers that take so much of their time. I expected less attentiveness. This is a college campus where students frequently stay up into the wee hours of the morning or don't go to bed at all. I thought there would be more sleepy eyes, more nodding heads.

Not this night.

It became apparent rather early in my time with them that the Lord had ordained this evening. My friend Katie had tried to set up a time with them previously. Our dates clashed and it didn't look like it would work out. I thought it was not going to happen.

Then, my schedule got rearranged, simultaneous with their one last request for this specific date.

God answered the prayers of His children. He was in control of this room. The enemy tried to disrupt the evening with an older man who opened the door to find...I don't know what. Not this night.

Each young man was hearing every word. Their eye contact and body language were clues as to where their minds were. Focused. Listening. Ready.

As I often do, I shared the journey of my son, several years their junior, who set out to share Christ with a dying world.

They heard his words. They heard His Words. They seemed to dangle on each one. Surely, the Presence of the Lord was in this place.

These men identified with my son. They heard from the Holy Spirit as words were shared with them. They were being called to obedience. Not to go to a specific country. Not to participate with a specific organization. But to do the next thing that the Lord moved in their heart to do.

The format required that when I finished, I needed to leave so they could have their chapter meeting.

As my time was coming to a conclusion, a hand went up. Not a surprise, but still unusual.

The young man began, "This will be a little different. I mean, I'm sure others don't ask this."

"Go ahead," I said.

"How can you stand up there after what happened and not flip God off? I mean, I could never respond like that. Why didn't you ask Him, How the h*%@ can you do this?"

He went on to convey his own self-hatred, and that he cannot currently love himself, let alone try to love others.

His question was piercing. His boldness was honest. I appreciated his willingness to risk all in the presence of his brothers. Clearly, he is wounded and hurting deeply. I slowly strode to the back of the room where he sat. I pray the Lord filled my words and embraced his brokenness.

I was reminded of Isaiah chapter 6. He could not look me eye to eye, up close. He tucked his head down and tried to look at me periodically. Surely the Presence of the Lord was in this place. I could never elicit such a response.

I prayed for these young men, and I closed.

After my leaving, God's Holy Presence dwelled with them. He stayed their with His sons, on a campus Satan owns. Spontaneous prayer erupted. This was no normal chapter meeting. Not this night. The men prayed many times their norm.

Would, that God begin to move on campuses all over this country. That the prayers of His people would bring forth revival and the revolution that must be raised!



Friday, March 09, 2007


Have you ever noticed that the definition for the "least of these" that Jesus compels us to minister to, are not a socio-economic class, or even necessarily a lowly, needy group of people? No, they are the people we would "least" like to minister to in any given moment?

When I read through the New Testament, I see story after story of Jesus interacting and giving of himself to people that the Jews looked down on, and would not even talk to, because they were considered "unclean."

Being unclean, was a big deal to the Jews. Much was written about ceremonial cleansing in the Old Testament, and the need to keep oneself clean, so that you would be able to be present in the Temple, and stand among your brothers and sisters.

With this knowledge, Jesus consistently spent time with those the Jews despised. They were raised with these biases towards people that did not conform to their way of life, their religion. Those unclean people were Gentiles.

I am a gentile. I don't spend any time in rite and ritual, cleansing of myself. To a Jew, I would be among the "least of these."

Jesus, ministered to the Samaritan woman at the well. He had his feet bathed by a prostitutes tears and dried by her hair. Had an unknown woman touch him for healing from her bleeding disorder. He spent time with tax collectors (even called one to be his disciple). He ministered to the gentile woman who pleaded as a dog would for scraps from the table. He interacted with a Roman Centurion and healed his servant. He even touched dead people and restored them to life.

All of these offenses, plus routinely doing things on the Sabbath would have rendered Him unclean, and incapable of being present in the Temple. He was despised and rejected of men, because He took their ritualistic religion and made a mockery of it.

He raised up Apostles like Peter, who hung out with a Tanner named Simon. This Tanner was "filthy" because he touched dead animals. Philip ministered to an Ethiopian eunuch who was "unclean" by virtue of his nationality and his "disposition."

The list goes on and on. All of these that Christ ministered to were the "least of these" in the moment the spotlight fell on them.

BJ's own experience found him doing likewise. Who wants to minister to corrupt policemen? He spent time with gang members, people of other religions, drug addicts, alcoholics, and even transvestites. He led them to a Saving knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ.

The love that Christ demonstrated for BJ through His death on the Cross, was enough to capture BJ's heart, and willingness to go out and die daily to himself.

It was from a disposition of love that he would study the Word by flashlight on long bus rides. He wanted to be sure he was ready to share with the next person counted among the "least of these." Those that others did not want to share with, were the very ones he was drawn to.

There are a lot of people out there that the rest of us do not want to share with. There are a lot of the "least of these" who need Jesus.

The "least of these" will be found whenever you come to the end of your own comfort and ability. They are the ones you are "least" likely to want to spend any time with.

The "least of these" may be different for each of us. That is the beauty of the calling on our lives. If we each reach out to the person we are least likely to want to interact with in any given moment, we will reach the least of them and they will be counted among those with eternal life. Those who are considered the "least" stand to gain the most!

Die to yourself. Take up your cross. Follow Him.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

I don't think whoever dubbed Chicago, "the windy city" had traveled as far west as Oklahoma. Then again, if Chicago is "the windy city," Oklahoma has to be the "windy state."

The wind always blows here. If you are a runner or a cyclist, and you have been taught "the wind is your friend," when you transplant here, you stop believing. It can be just annoying. I don't know any other place where it is normal to walk at angles other than 90 degrees. Those who lean to the right or to the left aren't politically motivated. They are responding to their environment.

One of the good things for me in all of this, is that I like wind chimes. We have 3 or 4 sets of small ones, and they didn't get much of a work-out in Indiana. I like the big ones, you know they have tubes that are as tall as Deanna? I can't afford those, even though they sound cool. They bellow low and long.

In this state, it is rare when I do not hear them beckoning to me. I can tell which one is singing by its voice. I can tell what direction the wind is coming from by how many of them are pressed into service. In a sense, they are indicators of what is happening at my house.

Recently, we had a front blow through in the wee hours of the morning. All chimes were adding their measure. It started out sounding quite beautiful. Soon, it took a nasty turn.

It was not long before I could tell the harmonies were being rung at awkward angles. A while after that, their voices were drowned out completely. They were now steadily strained, perpendicular to the ground. Soon, hail began. Occasional loud clangs would whisper above the din of the storm as the chimes were taking heavy hits from this artillery of precipitation.

Laying awake at this hour and listening for the faintest reflection of their former beauty, I could no longer discern what they had to say. In the heaviest of battles, they had grown silent. While under attack, they could not speak.

I am intensely grateful that my Father can always hear my voice. No matter what the nature of the storm or the violence of my refrain, He knows it is me. He hears me when I praise Him. He listens when I cry out. He is aware of my whereabouts in the most mundane of conversations.

I wonder what He thinks in the "dead of quiet" (BJ) when my voice is silent? When the perceptions of the seekers are heightened, and I am reclining at my ease, does not my indifference scream volumes above the raging sea? Do these ballistic battles confront my motivation, or do they simply light up my 80" flat panel tv screen while I nod discontent from an overstuffed sofa?

If a "revolution is being raised," it has no voice amid punctual perils.

I am "Asleep in the Light." My sword is sheathed. My heart beats contentment. My singular song does not rise aloft on the wind, it is buried deep within my apathy.

Who am I?

My name is American Christian!

The sincere innocence and beauty of a lonely, lilting melody, offered from a surrendered son or daughter will quiet the rampage of a violent prince.

I must offer up mine.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Recently I have been reminded of how miraculous it is that when BJ was most contagious and around others, absolutely no one else took ill.

As we have shared before, doctors believe he contracted the Bubonic Plague. When they began (shortly after arriving at the hospital) to view this as the likely disease, they put him in isolation. Most of the belongings he came with were destroyed. Some of them were not his but mine, but understandably, fear caused them to eliminate the items.

They did not immediately share with us their belief. Still we had to adorn protective garb, and go through ceremonial steps of dressing and undressing to protect ourselves and others. The interesting thing was that we did not know for a while the reasons for such caution.

Once we were made aware, my mind began to fill to overflowing with possibilities of other likely infected people. I feared for others safety and made a rather impassioned plea with one of the doctors to be able to share with those BJ had touched or spoken to. BJ's close proximity to friends and family members during his most highly contagious hours were of grave concern.

I was told to keep the information to myself, that they had a plan (if it turned out to be Plague). I did not become aware of the number of conversations he had that were in close settings until reading through some of the interviews for the book.

Historically, this disease infected so many countless people through casual contact. With all of the people he had interacted with in the last few days and weeks, the potential for a serious outbreak seemed very likely.

All we could do was pray, and ask God for protection.

Graciously, God protected all those BJ had been around. Not one other person came down with his disease. It claimed his life.

It claimed his life, because our God had a plan to bring others to Himself. He had a plan to raise up people to serve Him. His plan includes having the affected people share life and death information with those they come in contact with.

While the doctors tried to protect the public from panic over BJ's likely diagnosis, it was God who took a grave situation and turned it for His glory.

Let us not similarly sit on information that can save lives. The enemy would have us believe that there is always more time. That God will save them through other means, and we need not be involved.

If we do not get involved, how will they know? We need to be willing to risk tarnishing our reputations for a cause greater than who we are as individuals.

BJ said it best, "to get our feet dirty, we must first Go."


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Many of my childhood heroes were men who were gifted and were paid extreme sums of money for their giftedness. They were men who were great athletes, and played professional sports. The thing about those men that caught my attention was not how well paid they were, but how their passion translated to ability through repetitive effort.

Today we see the lives of the rich and famous on the air on a regular basis. We see their tragedies, their brokenness, their struggles with substance abuse, and their search for happiness that flirtatiously eludes them.

When I was little, I wanted to have plenty of money so that I could do whatever I wanted.

Too many of the people who have plenty of money, can do whatever they want, but cannot seem to find fulfillment.

While this should not come as a surprise to us, we continue to revere them as though they were the epitome of the "American Dream." We like to watch their lavish lifestyles and opulent playgrounds, somehow hoping that one day, we will join them.

Many of us are motivated by attaining more, and define success as the accumulation and proper investing of the same.

The problem for most of us is, that the more we have, the less we need God.

Deanna and I learned early on that those who had large amounts of money, were facing problems we did not want to have to deal with.

This was usually a result of losing their focus. The affections of their lives were often found in their portfolios. Jesus was no longer Lord.

I have a healthy respect for believers who are able to amass wealth and keep Jesus on the throne of their lives.

This is not most people. There are clear reasons why the Word says, "For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his life?" Mk. 8:36

Our culture impresses on adults and youth alike that doing well in this world is equated to money. The more the better. You cannot function or be respected without it. We are taught that money will save us in most situations in life.

The Bible teaches, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it." Mk. 8:35

We all know people who are trying to save themselves by earning more. Many are swallowed up in debt and live defeated Christian lives. We have been there, and have struggled to survive. In many respects, it seems we are never far enough away from that scenario.

There is a reason Jesus said "you cannot serve both God and mammon."

What is the value of a life?

When is worthy of respect?

Those who truly are submitted to the Lordship of Jesus have an anointing upon them. He leads, guides, and provides. Paul saw seasons of little, and seasons of much. God was always in control. God IS always in control.

Money has a place in the Christian world. Without it, the ability to accomplish things for our Savior would be more difficult...or would it? Would our faith grow more if we had even less and were more dependent upon Him? Does He not own the cattle on every hill or the chip in every computer?

Obedience supersedes financial needs. If we walk in obedience, He will take care of His own.

I know a young man who had medical debts of between one and a half and two million dollars. He had an insurance policy that topped out at one million in lifetime, medical benefits.

Upon his death, he had $4.45 in his pocket. This was his worldly net worth.

He served a God who wiped out his debt.

"If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me." Mk 8:34

Obedience wins.


Monday, March 05, 2007

What is a bully? A combination of cowardice and arrogance? Webster says “one [who is] habitually cruel to others weaker than himself.” Another dictionary (various contributors) adds “a hired ruffian.”

I only wish bullying was limited to adolescence or pre-teens.

Students “tattle” less in middle school than elementary. I don’t know if this is good or bad. However, last week a student let me know someone was calling him a derogatory name. Well, we can’t very well respond to second hand information. I tried to explain to him that the name-calling is more a reflection on the person doing it than the person receiving it. Because you get called a name certainly doesn’t make it true. Unfortunately, people say mean things, it hurts but it happens. He seemed to understand.

I admit, I’ve felt “ganged up on” at school. It’s incredible but the “gang mentality” is alive and thriving. Knowing who you are in Christ is key at this point.

I’ve been reading in 2nd Chronicles lately. Bad kings followed by good kings, more bad kings, maybe one good one here and there. I continue to be amazed that one of the worst kings can give birth to the next king who is one of the best and likewise, a godly king gives birth to one of the most evil. Genetics seems to have little bearing on the choices the kings make. As I ponder this and puzzle over it, I wonder, maybe the kings are not very involved with raising their families. Maybe the wife/mother has more influence over her children than the father. For instance, King Hezekiah is one of the most godly kings; his mother was the daughter of Zechariah.

2nd Chronicles has plenty of examples of bullies. Look at King Sennacherib (love the name? “Cherib” in the name, yet he was evil, evil, evil), King of Assyria in chapter 32. Assyria attacked Judah, determined to take Jerusalem. The chapter is very interesting. King Hezekiah has this brilliant idea to eliminate the water supply outside the city so the enemy cannot access it, and he has a wonderful way of rallying his people in the face of adversity. Still, King Sennacherib has the audacity to insult God, Hezekiah, the stupidity of the people in believing their "lies" and further attempting to demoralize the people.

Their response? Praying to God. God answered in a powerful way. He sent an angel who wiped out everyone in the Assyrian camp; well, everyone except the King.

The demise of King Sennacherib? Disgrace, shame, defeat and death upon his return. His own sons killed him when he came home.

Bullies turn on each other.

Believers in the one true God know the ending. We win, in every scenario. Bullies never really win. Maybe temporarily, but it’s a false sense of victory. It’s an empty, counterfeit sense of power. It’s one of Satan’s most effective tools then and now: use others to boost yourself.

John 10:10 talks about a thief coming to steal, kill and destroy. Sounds like a bully. Jesus came to do the opposite: give, save and restore. He was such a radical. He turned everything upside down: to win, you lose; to gain, you give; to be saved, you surrender; to live, you die. He was merciful to the weak and commanded us to care for widows and orphans, the most vulnerable of people. May we lose ourselves once again Father and let You strengthen our resolve to make a difference.


Friday, March 02, 2007

The other day Deanna and I went out to dinner at a restaurant that has its roots in Indianapolis. There is only one in all of Tulsa. We decided to stop there for a bite.

One of the things we are still getting used to is how "the wind comes sweeping down the plain." It blows steadily. I am not sure it ever stops. This particular evening, it had kicked up to even more significant levels than usual.

I was looking outside while sipping on my peanut butter shake, and saw an unusual color in the sky. It was as if we were in an aquarium, and the water suddenly stirred and silty shades arose to cloud the tank. The kind of view that made you want to take off your glasses and wipe them clean (oh yeah, I don't wear them) or ask the manager if he couldn't have the windows washed so we could see outside.

I sat there for quite a while trying to remember where I had seen this before. It was vaguely familiar, and yet unusual.

When we were leaving it dawned on me. When we actually got outside, and I looked up into the sky, I remembered.

Last summer, while in Africa, this was a usual occurrence. The hot desert wind would would blow and fill the sky with sand. The color of the sky changed completely, and what was a beautiful blue, took on hues that were tainted and dirty.

The people of the land would pull their tent flaps shut or rush to the perimeter of their homes and close specially made shutters which would prevent the sand from entering their domiciles.

At its worst, we were driving through a corner of the desert when this scirrocco began to pelt our van. At 120 degree temperatures and no working air conditioning, we had to roll up our windows, and allow the sand blasting to occur while watching from the inside of this fishbowl. The only moisture present flowed freely from our pores.

The uniqueness of the experience made it tolerable, even though breathing the air was as funky and difficult as it sounds.

Serving a loving Savior sometimes takes you to places you would prefer not to be. Often your view of the situation can be obscured. It may appear that no ministry is happening, while the Holy Spirit is hard at work. Our obedience certainly does not require our own 20/20 vision or comfort. Just a willing heart.

When He leads you to places where you cannot find once-present borders of ease and understanding, your view will require faith. The "fight or flight" response will kick in.

Remain and serve or run and find the corner of complacency that you somehow left behind.

Our Father in heaven sometimes blinds us to the obvious when He is leading us to accomplish His will and purpose.

If you are being stretched, you are blessed!

If you are at your ease, its time to step out and make a difference!