Wednesday, August 25, 2010

my father and my son...

I know I have probably used this photo before, but its one of my favorites! Thursday is the 16th anniversary of my father's homegoing (also his sister's Birthday). Now I envision the two of them side by side, looking into the face of our Savior!

Happy Birthday Aunt Maralyn!

I leave Saturday for a few days in California (where I will see my Aunt and family). I will be speaking Saturday evening in Bakersfield, at the Doubletree Hotel. Tuesday evening, I will share at Discovery Church, in Carlsbad. I am looking forward to this trip! It will be my first to California since I was 14. I only wish Deanna could be coming!

MY Upcoming Speaking Schedule:

August 26 Radio Interview KAXL 7:10 (CT) Bakersfield, California
August 29 Rejuvenate Ministries, Bakersfield, California
August 31 Discovery Church, Carlsbad, California
September 14 Dallas Christian College, Dallas, Texas
September 22 Pampa Youth Ministry Alliance, Pampa, Texas
November 5-7 iGo Mission Conference, Tulsa, Oklahoma
December 5 Marquez Baptist Church, Marquez, Texas
December 26-January 2 Nuevo Laredo Mission Trip

I struggle to understand the nature of close friendships.

In the last few years, we have met many who tell us they feel like they know us, upon our initial encounter. I know this is in part due to this website.

However, we seldom are afforded the privilege of moving beyond.

In my lifetime, I can count on one hand the number of really close friends I've had.
Sometimes I miss having someone I can really confide in, who doesn't judge me based upon my failures. That kind of reciprocity is important in each of our lives. When it's absent, struggle increases.

As frustrating as that is at times, what is of greater difficulty for me is that my precious wife often feels alone.

Many times she has met new women who exchanged initial pleasantries, only to have them shut down when information on their children is exchanged.

I know that people often do not know what words to offer. However, the idea of not talking about ALL of our children is something that brings pain. She knows when someone wants to know more and when they've had all they can handle.

It's amazing how few want to know more.

Our tremendous lack of desire to be intimate with each other is maddening. We were created to be in relationship. Some of our most natural desires are to get to know one another.

Yet the truth for many is that unless they can talk openly about themselves, their purchases and their accomplishments they don't have any interest in you. Their interest in you, is not in you... it's having you listen to them.

One sided friendships are not relationships. They are shallow and meaningless, superficial, yet all too frequent.

Too much of the time, we don't really listen to what another says, but are formulating our next sentence.

One of the things my partner at Awe Star taught our students this past summer was that Jesus "listened and asked questions." He encouraged them to do likewise as they sought to love one another.

If we would but take this kind of time, many needs would be met that go unnoticed.

We need to be in relationship. We need to listen. We need to love.

These are very basic elements taught to us by the life of Jesus.

Practicing them helps us to show His love to those we otherwise ignore.


Thursday, August 19, 2010


Does your joy show?

I have a couple of friends who exude Jesus through joy, from every pore of their being. I love being around them, because they are so on fire!

On the other hand, whatever is going on in my head, shows on my face. I have always been this way (which is no excuse). I don't show the same joy they do.

One of these young women is the youngest of several children. She grew up in church, and gave her heart to Christ at an earl age. When she walks into a room, she elevates the enthusiasm level. Not because she is a cheerleader who runs from person to person inciting a response, but because the natural effervescence of being in love with Jesus, overflows.

The other young woman is a new believer. So much happiness comes from her countenance. She is in her mid twenties, has experienced the party life full on, and has recently become a believer. She knows the ugliness of life, and cannot stop telling people about the Savior who delivered her from drugs and more.

I want to be more like them, because they are more like Jesus.

I don't want to be one of those sour Christians you meet, who leave you wondering if they really know Christ. They go to church, but there is no evidence beyond that attendance that He is in the throne of their heart.

His word teaches us that we will know one another (as believers) by the fruit in our lives. There are way too many of us who never show any fruit. Are we really saved?

Jesus tells a parable in Luke 13 about a landowner who had a fig tree that had not borne fruit in three years. He had visited it repeatedly to eat from the tree. He finally told his servant to cut it down, as it was using soil needlessly. The patient vineyard-keeper plead with him for one more year, where he would fertilize it to prepare it for bearing fruit. If it did not bear then, it would be cut down.

Many of us have been "fertilized" for years now.

Where is the fruit?

We get fed weekly, but don't show any evidence.

My education is in horticulture. I know a bit about fruit trees and agricultural practices. It usually takes three to five years for a young fruit tree to reach the stage where it will bear.

My friend has been a believer for just a few months and has told more people about Jesus than some who've been believers for a lifetime. When you meet her, her joy begs the question, "why are you so happy?" She is quick to tell you!

What's our excuse? We have many lined up.

When a tree is mature, all the dead wood and crossing branches need to be pruned from it, to keep it at it's fullest potential.

As believers we need the same thing. The old dead wood needs to be cut from our experience, so that we can continue to grow.

Pruning spurs growth... in horticulture and in Christianity.

Often times, we build fences around our hearts to prevent any pruning. I find it interesting that there is one fruit that we still resemble when this has been our practice... the prune!

Even the word requires little assistance to convey its implication.

I want to be like my two friends... full of joy, bearing fruit, loving others!

Tear down the fences and let the pruning commence!


Monday, August 09, 2010

Deanna and BJ in the Smokies, a week before landing in the hospital

Five years ago, we were on vacation in Tennessee.

My girls were not in relationships. BJ was just back from his second trip to Peru. Lauren had finished an internship at our former church. Whitney was entering into her freshman year as a nursing major (and meetings kept her from being able to go on vacation with us).

This was to be our first real vacation. Deanna and I had always used our vacation time to go to youth camps, mission trips, or family gatherings. We had never just gone somewhere together, that didn't involve someone else.

We were excited to do this together. Well, most of us were.

Because of his intense focus on the mission field, the idea of going on vacation seemed frivolous and unnecessary, to BJ. He didn't resist hard, but did resist. He understood our need to get away and have some family time, but he wasn't feeling great and this made him additionally hesitant.

We planned to stay in a cabin, where we could enjoy a time of hiking, and site seeing in the Tennessee mountains. The idea was appealing to all of us.

We arrived and settled in. Our schedule was not overly rigorous. It allowed us to do some things and take breaks. As enthused as we were, it was difficult to understand why BJ did not want to participate in much.

He'd play pool in the evenings, but wanted to rest when we went out. He'd stay back and study the Word or read other books for enjoyment.

Each of us in turn chided him for not going with us. He said he really didn't feel up to it. He sounded congested, and seemed to run a low grade fever, so we let him remain behind. We missed him. What we were doing, would normally have been of interest to him. He only went out with us a couple of times.

By the end of the week, we convinced him to hike with us. There had been bear sightings in the area we were exploring, just that morning. We had to be careful. The pictures from that hike, find him looking spent.

However, as I review photos from that week, and even some of the pictures included in the "I Would Die for You" video (found at I am reminded how stunned I was that we were getting some of the best pictures of him, we'd ever taken!

I even remember asking the Lord at one point, "why are so many of these pictures of him so good?" For some reason, it raised an alarm within me.

As I packed the car to head home, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that this would never happen again. I fought tears as I stowed gear. I didn't understand what was happening.

He grew more feverish, and struggled to breath normally on the return trip.

Upon arrival home, I took him to the nearest medical facility to be looked at. The doctor diagnosed him with "walking pneumonia."

I had peace in those moments, as our children had fought this before.

However, as the weekend unfolded, his fever climbed and he could not keep any fluids down, nor could he sleep.

I spent hours through the watches of the night, giving him cool baths and praying for him to try to bring him comfort. I prayed from the depths of my concern. I wish I could remember what we talked about. He'd lay is head in my lap and try to sleep.

We fought through the weekend and saw no healing result from the meds.

Monday morning arrived. This was to be Deanna's first day back at school after the summer break (This time of year continues to be difficult for her to trespass upon... she started back to school this past Friday). Deanna asked Beej if he wanted her to remain home with him that day.

"No Mom. Dad is here, and I'll be fine" he said.

She went to work.

A couple of hours later, as we waited for his doctor to call back, he made the request to go to the emergency room. We went... and the journey unfolded...

These days somehow seem hallowed. We step lightly through, with awe.

It doesn't get easier.

We miss him with desperation at times! Yet we have the peace and thankfulness of knowing that he spent himself in a way that few do, and that he is in the presence of the Almighty!

We will join him there one day.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Deanna and Carol in Indiana

The CT scan revealed multiple stones in both kidneys. The one causing the pain (is in the ureter) is "large" but they believe I can pass it. Nothing yet, however.

I have been thinking about how often generalizations are made by many of us.

I once served with a pastor who had been trained in a specific denomination, but was pastoring a non-denominational church. While in the pulpit, he spoke unkindly about the denomination my family and I had come out of. He did so, in all honesty, from a position of ignorance or lack of understanding.

I was not hurt by it, as I knew he was not talking about us, but realized that I probably do the same thing.

My family and I have been fortunate to serve in many countries around the world. In the process, I have met many people. Some people groups are far more relational than others.

One specific people group from South America, are some of the most genuine I have ever met. They are highly relational. They talk to me on-line or send me messages every week, and I was only with them for a few days. When other mission groups go into their land to work, they send gifts back with them, for me. I am humbled by this!

What is interesting, is how many people are fearful to even think about going to this country, because of who their leader is. He is charismatic, opinionated, and not necessarily liked by our government. His feelings about our government are similar.

Knowing this, making a decision to minister in this country was made more difficult by generalizations about how people from the USA would be received there.

Had I listened to the idea our government portrayed about traveling there, I would have missed out on some of greatest blessings in friendships that I have known.

I know I have made generalizations in my life. I have done so about denominations, people groups, and other things.

Others make generalizations about Christians. Television routinely portrays us weirdos.

Seldom are they correct in their handling of who we really are.

Still, when I take teams to other countries, what those people know of us, usually comes from American tv.

In Muslim lands, US women are considered promiscuous, because of shows like Baywatch among others.

When they get to know us, they are often surprised.

Many in our country, tend to assume that all Muslims are terrorists. I have never been so moved as when walking a desert road in North Africa, and having a family invite my team in for tea. They didn't know us. They didn't know why we were there. They were just being friendly, and in all honesty probably gave all they had to my team, to show us kindness. This kindness is not likely to be extended to those same people, here in the USA.

We cannot assume or make generalizations about people groups any more than we can about denominations.

If we are Christ-like, we see that all people are important to our Savior, and therefore, need to be loved by each of us.

This is much easier to say than it is to do, but we must try!

Seek to bless one you may not have thought about blessing, today.