Wednesday, January 27, 2010

the "road" to the Kuna People in Panama...

Near Term Speaking Schedule:
Jan 27 Bluefish Television, Phone interview by Producer, Dallas, Tx.
Jan 29-31 Northwest Baptist Church, Missions Conf. Oklahoma City, Ok.
Feb 2-5 Indian Rocks Christian School, Spiritual Emphasis Week, Largo, Fla.
Feb 3 Indian Rocks FBC, Youth/Parent Rally, Largo, Fla.
Feb 5-7 FBC Marion, "Elevate," Marion, Ark.
Feb 18-19 Dallas Christian College, Train Missions Teams, Dallas, Tx.
Mar 6 FBC Tulsa, "Mission Ignition," Tulsa, Ok.
Mar 13-20 Mexico Spring Break Mission Trip, Nuevo Laredo, Mex.

In my role, I see many who give lip service, but many fewer who follow through. If I am honest, I struggle not to be one of these.

Isaiah 29:13, Amos 5:21-24, Matthew 15:8-9, and Mark 7:6-7 (among others)all speak to this issue.

The Word clearly states, "The Lord says, These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men" Isaiah 29:13.

Being a man of passion, I find that my fervor grows cold at times. It begins to be drawn in other directions. I struggle to have singular passion... that being for my Lord alone.

I am not pleased about this. It gets in the way of my worship and my relationship. I see this happen to others as well.

My friend and partner Walker Moore, just wrote an article about the difference between "commitment" and "surrender" in today's youth culture. I see this play out on a regular basis in the lives of "Christians." Clearly, it is not just students who struggle with this.

The very core of this issue is how "committed" we are to Christ, period. (is putting a period after the word period, redundant?) Most of us believe ourselves to be deeply so. The true reality is reflected when an opportunity of "more" interest to us comes along and conflicts with what we have previously "committed" to (that would bring God more glory).

For example (since I enjoy hunting), if I am to attend a regularly scheduled worship service, but an opportunity comes along through a friend who invites me to hunt during the same time, and I choose to forgo my time of worship for a time of hunting and fellowship, what message am I sending my Savior?

I can justify it till the proverbial bovines retrace their steps back to the barn.

"I can worship Him better out in His Creation than I can with a bunch of hypocrites." "I feel closer to Him out in His Creation than I do in some man made building."

Those statements would both be true. But are the attitudes of my heart correct?

Hunting is just my example, what would yours be?

True "surrender" says that nothing will get in between my Savior, serving and worshipping Him, and me!

From the time your parents dedicated you to the Lord as a baby (in a common church practice), to the time when you begin to recognize His call on your life, and try to obediently respond, distractions and relationships will get in the way of being able to do so.

Sometimes, the very parent who dedicated you, won't let you follow Him in obedience to what He's called you to do.

The parental instinct to protect children, often supersedes the promise made to the Lord... to 'train their child to serve Him, and let them do so.'

Clearly, the "commitment" made at some point in the past gets nullified... often times, by parents who struggle with their own "surrender" to Christ.

Commitment says "I will do this." Reality reflects that what this means is "I will do this, unless a better offer comes my way, or a logical train of thought leads in a different direction" (even when that direction is away from His will).

Surrender says, "I will always do what the Lord leads me to do, and will keep my lips from committing to the contrary."

This is not an easy task. I struggle with it!

Let's do our best to be fully surrendered, as parents, as students... as believers!


Friday, January 22, 2010

the future of Venezuela?!...

There are times in life when it is very easy to get discouraged. External circumstances can have deep impact on our life if our internal combustion isn't ablaze for Christ.

Those who gather around them material things, are constantly seeking something new. Each acquisition brings with it the hope of fulfillment. The payoff is perpetual short term relief, followed quickly by multiplied emptiness... until the heart begins to beat for something else.

Others focus less on the material, but invest in job, hobby or relationship(s).

The end result is ridiculously familiar, and yet the pursuit remains intense.

What foolishness is this?

As Christians, why do we expend so much energy in the direction we know in advance will not bring peace or satisfaction?

There is an inner thirst which will never be slaked by increased possessions, greater power, or additional relational experience. Yet we have boundless energy to pursue what cannot satisfy, and have none for what will actually quell the inner discontent.

As spiritual beings, we must satiate our appetites with Him. The pursuit of Him, the worship of Him, and surrender to Him are the only methods which will stave the gnawing ache.

Consistently we seem to pursue that which only brings deeper drought.

The mature believer can fall prey to this folly just like the infant.

The enemy renews the attack against us by pursuing with that which is innocent, until we embrace it and make it an object of lust.

Slowly we imbibe. The drunk does not realize he's stumbled until on his face in failure.

This does not have to remain.

Brokenness begets beginning... restoration, when bathed in His stain.

He is all that is needed. He is the atonement afforded. His sacrifice is complete.

We must return to our first love.

The color in life is produced by choice. The brilliance of life is discovered through choosing to put Him first.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

along an alley of the mountain village of Biscucuy, Venezuela

The Lord has provided for our transportation needs and we are most thankful!
I now drive an '07 Toyota Tacoma, Pre-runner! It's red. I know, watch out for speeding tickets in a red vehicle. Of course, that is generally only if you are speeding.

I have the "in with the new" now, but I need to get the "out with the old" part taken care of. I need to get rid of my old '98 Malibu that failed.

It's always easier to add new things in life than it is to let go or get rid of old things. At least its that way for me.

Deanna and I just celebrated 27 years of marriage. I am so thankful for her and her love for me. It's hard to believe it's been that many years. For me, they have gone by quickly. For her, well, she's had to learn to tolerate a lot of "new" things along the way. She probably wishes she could unload an "old" thing, part of the time.

We have seen many new things come in our years together. Births, anniversaries, marriages, friends, even deaths and much more. Most of these we hold as precious. If not for the actual event, then for what is represented by the remembrance of the event.

We are blessed to have experienced as much in life as we have. We have seen far more of the world than we ever expected or hoped to.

It is often the old things that are difficult for me to let go of.

That includes relationships. I am terrible at keeping up relationships when we are no longer in close geographical proximity. Yet, these are most precious to me. That doesn't make much sense.

Life doesn't make much sense at times. I think I get too task oriented and lose my relational drive. Selfishness crowds into the landscape as well. I want time to myself, and when the tasks become too many, I withdraw from relationship. This is not a good thing, but it's probably a reality.

I am headed out this afternoon to "unload" my old car. It will be nice to be out from under the mental burden of the whole situation.

I am enjoying the 'new to me' vehicle. I am wondering what took me so long to get a truck. What a guy thing to say. Funny how lifelong desires become action after such an acquisition.

I am so thankful for a bride who understands me. I know she tolerates me probably too much of the time. I do love her for that. I am blessed to have a relationship with one who no matter how long we have been married, is new every morning!

It's much like my relationship with Christ. There is nothing old about it. I get stale, but the relationship does not. He is the author of new. He has taken an old relic and found worth and value, and continues to give me purpose. Sometimes, my drive doesn't match up to my purpose, but I am working on that.

I am glad He does not discard me like I am about to do with that old Malibu. What an honor to serve one who loves me more than I can possibly love Him. Though I feel "old," He sees me as new and vital, and necessary. I praise Him for that. I trust Him to bring completion to this journey... whenever that comes.

Praise God for life, for love and for the "joy [that] follows swiftly on the heels of obedience!"


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Brad and me in Colorado...

It's kind of embarrassing, but this morning as I was ironing my shirt, I started thinking about our... iron. It doesn't work right. When left plugged in, even in the off position, it cracks and pops.

The embarrassing part is that years ago, a family member bought us a new one. Deanna and I separately tried to read through the instructions, but neither of us wanted to take the time to figure the new iron out. It's too complicated.

It still rests on shelf somewhere, waiting to be employed. Meanwhile, we nurse this twenty five (plus) year old relic along, because we are familiar with it. We sympathize with is nuances, though we don't understand why it misbehaves.

On the way home from work last Thursday, my '98 Malibu died. I work a mile or so from home. It didn't have to get me far. It was no longer equal to the task. We bought it years ago, and have poured money into it to keep it working.

When it died, it was the coldest day in Tulsa in a long while. I called my wife to let her know. She didn't answer. I tried again. She didn't answer.

I started calling other people and finally got the number of a wrecker to come rescue me. Interesting that it's called a 'wrecker.' The damage was done long before it even arrived.

Turns out, Deanna was racing around the house (minus her phone) cooking and cleaning before we left for Dallas that evening (to be with family). She was trying to get everything prepared. Amid her speed cleaning/cooking other issues distracted her and dinner burned.

I finally reached her after the 'wrecker' had been summoned. She was upset about her own issues. Mine probably didn't help.

While we were in Dallas, I kept having the sense that I wasn't going to get good news. As it turns out, the news never came until yesterday afternoon (when I was back at work).

The car is done. Finished. Dead.

I am forced to release the familiar old car, with all of it's character and nuances, to go find another.

I will miss the dent in the front right side, where one of my loved ones did a 360 on an icy road and got acquainted with telephone pole. That was back in Indiana, when I worked at the camp, and we lived on a winding country road.

That car has many other memories as well. It will be missed. It seems wrong to have to pay for towing and labor for a car that died.

I don't really have the option of utilizing the car as we do the iron. It's finished. Truth be told, so is the iron. We continue to use it anyway. It's easier than figuring out the new fancy one.

We have to let the car go. We'll keep the memories... those of BJ driving it, Deanna dropping him off at school each morning on her way to work, his leaning over to kiss his mom goodbye... even as a teenager. Those will remain precious to us.

Now we seek the Lord's provision for new transportation. I've always wanted a truck. Perhaps I will find one. Deanna's brother Stephen had a truck he was gonna give BJ, once he had his license. We got close. Stephen and Kandi sold that truck and gave the money to BJ's Hope Scholarship. What a blessing!

I've never owned a truck. I'd like to. It seems a bit foolish to have to lay out money we really don't have to buy something we really need. I know we've all been at that precipice, pondering when to jump.

Seeking His wisdom and direction is a bit like trying to decipher the instructions for the new hi-tech iron. It's not as simple as just turning it off and on. You have to go through a number of other steps. If we really focus, we will discern His will. I confess, it is far easier to do what I want to do, and not wait for Him.

I pray for His provision. I pray I do the right thing. I know He is interested in the details of my life. I just have to let Him show me the plan.

I'm not very patient. I guess I should pull out the new iron and let the other one rest. I just have to read the instructions and work into a new routine. I guess I need to wait upon the Lord, and seek His will. I'm gonna have to get used to a different vehicle.

His love is vast. He will provide. He will show the way.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Where my thoughts frequently wonder off to...
(from one of my trips to Colorado)

It is interesting to me, the way that I am wired. Having read books like "Wild at Heart," and others of a similar thought process, I can say that 'the wild' calls to my heart, regularly.

I sometimes feel a desperation to get into what our Lord has created. Over the Christmas break, I took full advantage of this. At times, to the extent that I was teased about it.

It is stress relief. It is a place of peace for me. It is a place I can sense His presence, when the world around me seems not to care about Him or what He has fabricated.

My soul longs to be in the wilderness... and I don't mean the spiritually metaphorical desert.

Honestly, I don't really understand the longing.

I only know that when His word speaks of the "stones crying out, if I keep quiet" (paraphrase of Luke 19:40) that I understand this in the depths of my soul. I must speak of Him, I must be in unity with Him, or the inanimate parcels of His creation will call upon His name.

We all need a place to retreat. For many, it is the beach. That has never been a draw to me... until I was in Alaska and saw the ocean and the mountains in the same landscape. I thought I might have crossed over. I even wished heaven to look like this.

He probably chuckles at times, at our minuscule perception of who He is and what we think Heaven will be like.

Oh well, I only know what brings a balm to my aching depths.

I should be renewed after a blessed time with family. How I feel is a bit lost.

I am not sure why. I don't really understand it. When I get all stirred up, I have to sit down and figure out what is happening. Is this of me? Is this of the Lord? What is the reason for this?

When I feel that way, I want to escape to the wood and wetlands, the mountains for retreat.

It is awesome to know that when I arrive in this place (mentally) He is usually waiting for me to get myself out of the way so He can illuminate my path... "A lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

I can't wait to find out why my heart is in an uproar. The difficulty is that I can't seem to get out of the way. I form notions of what I would like to be the reason, but I am often wrong. I get weary of having patience. Sometimes they evaporate.

That's not a good thing when you are where I am. It begins to impact every area of living. That's when others get stepped on. I'm not proud of that.

It all drives me to the deep of his Creation. Away from those I can hurt, and just figure out what is happening.

There is nowhere I can go that He isn't, but there are places I find it much easier to "be still and know that He is God."

Perhaps I am being selfish. Perhaps I need to go.

I can say that I want to be where He wants me to be, but sometimes, I want that to be where I want it to be. Perhaps that is insight to my distraction. It seems too easy though.

Anyway, just an honest few words about where I am mentally and emotionally, while not yet being where I feel He can best reach me spiritually and physically. It's hard to run the race to win, when you're not sure which lane you should be in...


Monday, January 04, 2010

Deanna in Indiana

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying a most Happy New Year!!! We had a great time with family!

Yesterday, I sat beside a little boy in church. He had his cars and transformers out to play with. He kept himself occupied throughout the service. I enjoyed watching him.

When the offering plate came by, he toyed with the dollar bill he had been given. He straightened it out, flipped it over, and held it with pride.

When the plate came to him, he did as he had been trained, and then passed it on.

I remember being that little boy!

When I was little, I was usually given pocket change to put in. That was a lot of years ago, and pocket change was worth a lot more then. Still, I remember being given a dollar bill from time to time. When I held it and then put it in, I felt like I was really contributing!

That was great training for me. My parents, always faithful with their tithe though it was a real stretch (with 4 kids), realized the importance of giving from the first fruits. I watched and saw them do so, and wanted to participate.

My opportunities then, came with what change I could put in the plate, as it passed. I remember wanting to be able to hold the plate unassisted. I knew I was being trusted as a growing young man, when I was allowed to hold it.

Such a small thing had such a large impact in my life. Knowing that my parents found it important to be obedient to the Lord through giving, fostered training in my own heart.

I looked forward to the day I could give.

When that day came, I confess, it found me with a begrudging heart. I did not think I could afford to give. I would soon learn, I could not afford to NOT give.

By that, I do not mean that the Lord holds it over my head if I don't.

I mean that the blessings and miraculous ways He provides for us when we give beyond what we think we can, always amazes me. For me, that meant giving at all.

We serve a mighty God.

I am so thankful to see parents who are investing in the lives of their own children, by teaching them to give.

More is derived from giving, than will ever be experienced by receiving. Yet, so few seem to understand this.

There is not much point in holding our money in tight fists. It already belongs to Him. When we fail to give, we miss out. Receiving should never be the motive for giving, but when we do, the blessings He pours out cannot be measured.

I am thankful for that little boy beside me. He helped me remember how much of a blessing it is to give. He blessed me by giving. He blessed me by just being himself.

I praise the Lord for my godly upbringing.

Parents who know the Word and follow it, pass on Truth. Parents who pretend, don't.