Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Worshipping with family in California

Recently, I was reminded of an event that happened when I was very young. It has become the focal point of conversation at work. Especially when I need an excuse on which to blame my lapses in memory.

I loved playing Cowboys and Indians when I was little. In those days, toy pistols weighed almost as much as real ones.

I had a girlfriend who lived a couple of blocks away. I was too young for a girlfriend, but I didn't realize it. As a matter of fact, it seems in my memory, that I often had a girlfriend, regardless of my age.

I am not bragging or proud, actually I'm a bit embarrassed. What was I thinking??? Too many substitutes for the real thing, which I've been married to for almost 28 years! She is my real girlfriend!

Anyway, my neighborhood girlfriend was Brenda. She had a big brother named Tim. I loved everything about Tim. He was good at sports, playing Cowboys and Indians, and anything else he tried. He was one of my childhood heroes.

I did much to prove myself to him. I played football, baseball and anything else I could, to be around him. I was on the receiving end of many black eyes and hospital runs for doing so.

No, he didn't beat me up. These were badges of honor from being hit in the face with baseballs, bats, or having limbs broken/sprained from intense sandlot play. Those were days I cherish!

Sometimes I think I was better at getting hurt than playing.

Perhaps case in point, was when I was in Brenda's front yard. I had climbed up onto a platform in a tree that we called a "tree house." It wasn't really, it was more of a series of planks. It didn't matter, we loved it up there!

We had been playing Cowboys and Indians, and I had ascended to this position aloft amid our game.

Brenda, dressed in her red cowgirl outfit, came to assist me. I had climbed up without my gun! Silly boy!

She came to be sure I was "armed."

She tossed the pistol up my way. I positioned myself on the edge of the planks to receive it.

I missed the first throw. I missed the second throw.

Have you heard, "three strikes, your out?"

It came to pass.

I awoke later, in serious pain, from the flat of my back... on the ground!

This metal, toy pistol had hit me in the head and knocked me unconscious. I fell forward from the tree and landed on my upper back.

I lay moaning as my friends scrambled. The pain was unbelievable. One either called or ran to my house to get my parents.

I don't remember a lot else, except that for months, even years after that, I became very emotional. I began to have separation anxiety and could barely function at school during the day.

I don't understand these things, except to say, I got hit in the head, and it had a huge impact in my life.

Several years ago, I had to be "hit in the head" again.

This time metaphorically.

God was calling me to ministry. I didn't believe it.

I told him He'd have to hit me over the head with a 'two by four' for me to believe it.

He did!

The impact this second hit had, changed the course of my life and that of my family.

Sometimes, being hit in the head is what we need. Even if the weapon is proverbial!


Thursday, October 21, 2010


Recently, I have heard from many who are going through struggles. I am thankful the Lord allows me to speak into their lives. I am thankful for the impact my sons life had on theirs, as well.

With her permission, I am quoting a letter I received recently. I think many can identify with the struggle, regardless of the area of giftedness. This young woman graduated from college with a degree in the arts. Her life has been invested heavily in theater. I know her from working with youth, in Indy.

It is never too late for us. He seeks to draw us nearer. We must submit to His Lordship.


im sitting here at 1:56 am and i can barely see the computer screen through the tears.

and all i can think about is talking to you.

i just got on the awe star website and was looking through pictures and videos and found the bj video.

I guess i should start from the beginning. You know that I have always had this passion for theatre and singing and using the gifts that God gave me, but i am not fulfilled. im here in New York, where ive always thought i should be, and everything feels so trivial and empty. I feel like there is something else i am supposed to be doing but i cant figure out what it is. Ever since bj's memorial service i have wanted to give this all up and spend my life taking bj's place. just like they asked us to do. but i didnt. and i cant help feeling like i should have. or like i should start now.

i thought i found a church, but as great as it is, they have no mission program whatsoever. i just didnt know really who else to talk to about this yearning inside of me. its something ive gotten very good at not listening to, or talking myself out of. things like, what do i do with my cat if i were to go on a mission trip ( ha i know but seriously little things like this are what change my mind) or telling myself that NYC is enough of a mission field. but its not. at least not for me.

i know that bj and i were never very close. but whitney used to always tell me that i was her sister. and i have this one memory in the room with the coke machines out side of the gym at northside, where he came up to me and looked me dead in the eyes and said "if whitney is your sister, then that makes me your brother!!!" and he got this huge smile on his face and gave me this amazing hug. and it is something that warms me all over every time i think of him. (of course the memory of you him rusty and others waking me up in my bedroom one morning and him climbing in bed with me and you both finding my stuffed shark and naming him mike is a very close second :) ) Ever since he died, i think of him, i talk to him, i keep the program from his memorial service close to me at all times. it used to be in the visor of my car and now is pinned up on the wall next to my bed. its like i know what i should be doing with my life and my gifts God gave me, but i just dont know if this is it.

anyway, every few months this overwhelming feeling comes over me that tells me i am supposed to be doing more for my Father than i am. i know that i am not the most perfect christian. far from it. but the need i have for this, or the feeling of a calling, is weighing me down so much.

i was wondering if there was anyway, there was anything i could get involved in with awe star. my lease is up here next july. i just know i need to do something more. more than this.

i need to get uncomfortable again. uncomfortable for Christ.

im sorry if this is a lot, or too much. i just know you are someone i can talk to about this.

Thanks :) ."

I find myself weeping as I read her words. I can identify with her pain. I also remember the times of her reflection... they warm me as well!

As long as there is a breathe in our lungs, it is NEVER too late to begin to use our area of giftedenss for Him!

Won't you join her? Won't you join me, in "getting uncomfortable for Christ?!"


Monday, October 18, 2010

His Creation cries out for Him. Do we?

This past week, I was having lunch with a friend from work. We chose a quick serving, local, chicken oriented restaurant. I really like this place.

It's across the street from my church, so when Deanna and I leave on Sunday mornings, we have to walk past it. With stomachs already astir for something yummy, we don't always make it past.

We are drawn in by the wafting allure.

Anyway, we sat there sharing our hearts and a meal. We were being transparent before our Savior.

When I eat at this place, you get to choose two sides. I usually select two pieces of corn on the cob. Mainly, because they are small, and I am not a huge fan of the other choices (except the desserts!).

I do love corn on the cob. I am from Indiana... a major corn growing state. When corn is in season, there isn't much I like more. My mouth waters for it.

One thing this corn is, is juicy! Dry corn isn't too appealing (unless you are a varmint).

We sat conversing and I began to notice that I was assaulting my friend. He never said a word, but it kept happening!

While he talked, I would take bites of my corn. Each time I did, moisture from inside the kernels leaped from the cob onto his face.

I found myself apologizing and trying to shield his face with one hand while I ate with the other. It didn't help much.

Anyway, as corn juice (not a marketable or appetizing product) dripped down his face,
I began to wonder about something. Something I did not speak at the time.

When I spend time with others, do I get Jesus all over them?

Granted, in the context of my story, it would seem an assault worthy of charges, rather than ministry, but my point is still made (at least in my head).

When I am with others, do I spend ample time glorifying the One I love, or do I speak about myself and my desires?

It is never my intent to infect, or insult another through interaction. However, if my focus is me, then I will likely do so. If my focus is Christ, then the other seems not to care when the impact drips from their experience.

I need to be sure I am not spending my time trying to elevate my position or status in the eyes of another. I need to be busy about my Father's business.

His Creation clamours for it... even demands it!

It's okay if you don't want to eat corn with me...


Thursday, October 14, 2010

a view from above...

(sorry for the poor quality... do you see the buck?)

I've been interacting with people recently who are struggling with all sorts of issues in life. Each of them are people who have invited Christ into their hearts, yet each of their struggles are as much like the world around them as any issue an unbeliever might embrace.

Temptation is alluring, not ugly.

I mean, giving in to temptation is sin, and the whole process is ugly, but temptation itself is attractive or it wouldn't be tempting.

Similarly, many of us have the enemy pegged as one who wears a red suit with horns, and carries a repulsive pitch fork. This picture is not represtented anywhere in Scripture. In fact quite the opposite (Ezek 28:12-19).

Yet, when I was little, I remember a distinct caricature in our "Childrens Bible Story Book" from Matthew 4 that portrayed him this way.

If only it was easy as recognizing him and his schemes like picture book portrayals.

The enemy is crafty and calculating. Our Savior is wise and has already defeated him.

The truth is, the closer we are to Christ, the more readily we recognize the enemies plan as it's unfurled. Or, maybe we are just less available to temptation because our focus is acute.

Either way, this is what we must aspire to... Christ-likeness!

When believers fail publicly, the name of Jesus is drug through the mud... again.

I am amazed at how frequently those I have the opportunity to counsel, believe they are following the Lord, but are rife with worldly fragrances.

Assumptions are made that the things we have in our hands are things that we should be holding onto. We believe this because they make us happy... or so we think.

Some time ago, one young lady was telling me how addicted she was too intimate relations. She was following Jesus, but refused to give up this up. She was unmarried, had all sorts of struggles in her life, and could not comprehend why.

When presented with truth from Scripture about her choices, the justification game began. She could not conceive of life apart from these kinds of relations.

Now, much later, she has allowed the Lord's convicition to help her make adjustments. However, bitterness from broken relationships threatens her surrender. The very attitude she displays doesn't reflect Jesus. Once aware, she seeks to lay this down as well.

We want what we want, and we want God to provide it. When He doesn't, some of us blame Him, and somehow believe that because we laid down one sin, we have purchased the dreams in our heads... dreams that were born of brokeness because of the sin, not the Savior.

We are owed nothing.

We are promised eternal life, not the perpetual pleasures of the world.

We must allow our dreams to be His. The "desires of our hearts" that He grants, are the things that are in accordance with His will. Not things we think up and expect Him to provide.

When our hearts are fully His, and we walk very closely with Him, what we desire will be what He wants for us.

When we walk like the world, what we want, reflects it.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Whitney hunting with me from a brush blind

I spent a couple of days last week, ministering to "Carnies" at the Tulsa State Fair.
I've probably mentioned it each year. This is something that always has a profound impact on me.

I am not one who loves walking up to strangers to begin a discussion. Some of my co-workers are amazing at this, but for me, it is waaaaaayy outside my comfort zone.

I have to overcome a fear every time I approach a "Carnie."

These are people who are used to serving, not being served.

I am always amazed at how they open up after I ask a question or two. It would appear they are a 'dam waiting to burst.' The words begin to spill slowly and then a major gush erupts and they are telling me things I cannot believe or imagine!

I have the opportunity to pray with many of them. I am always blessed by the encounters.

I had two 13 year old young men go with me at the end of one of my days. They were from a local youth group, and had come to be introduced to this type of ministry. They were hungry for interaction.

We spoke to a couple of people, and I was telling them how everyone has a story, and that our job is to get them to spill it, so we can see cracks through which we can minister.

We approached a man I had not yet met. I explained who we were, and asked him to share with us interesting facts about himself.

He began with, "Well, I am in the Guiness Book of World Records."

"For what?" we asked.

"I've been in 47 car wrecks, and have walked away from every one without a scratch, except for 2!"

"No way!" we exclaimed.

He proceded to tell us how God must be angry with him for something, as all these tragedies kept happening.

I explained that the Lord was seeking his heart and that He must have great plans for him, and he should consider paying close attention.

The young men chimed in and pleaded with the man to seek the Lord after such crazy happenings.

He was not convinced and proceded to explain other tragedies.

My young protege's jumped back in and told the man how much Christ loved him, and that he should ask Him why these things had happened.

We planted seeds in his unfertile soil, that he seemed to have never heard before.

We'll continue to pray for him... Peter, is his name... and "upon this rock..."

Another man I met had just lost his wife to a drunk driver, a month ago. His hard outer crust tried to hold back a raging, turbulent jailbreak of tears. The result was a consistent moistness to his eyes, but they never formed and spilled.

We spoke for quite a long time as he opened his heart to seemingly, the first person to ask him a question about his life. He had much to say. He had been on the road since it happened. He had come out to work as an escape. He left his 13 month old daughter with his parents, and came to "get away."

His shell was breaking.

I gave him my card, and told him to call me if he needed to talk. I never do this at the Fair, but felt led of the Lord to do so this time.

His name is Gordy. I prayed with him, and left him to get back to work.

I looked for him later in the week, but no one knew where he was.

When I arrived at work this morning, I had a two voice messages.

The first was Gordy. He'd had a heart attack, and was in a local hospital, scheduled for surgery this morning! The second was a "hang-up" call.

I called the number he left and got no answer. I called the hospital to ask for his room number and any other info they could give. They couldn't tell me anything, as he had not ever given me his last name.

My partner in ministry and I loaded into my truck and headed to the hospital.

Upon arrival, we found his room... vacated... cleaned.

The second call must have been him, trying to update me.

It seems he left without surgery as he received word that his daughter was in need.

If this feels like a cliff hanger at the end of a tv series season, that you don't want to wait until next fall to find the outcome, you are not alone.

I have no last name, no way to be in touch. Only a name... Gordy... and a 13 month old daughter that needs him.

My God knows their circumstances! He has all authority to keep Gordy safe, to keep his daughter healthy.

Stepping out of my comfort zone is important... the Lord has impact in the lives of others, when I do.

Please join me in praying for Gordy, his daughter, and then Peter, who needs Jesus (Gordy, while a very rough character, professes to know Christ).


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Deanna is very excited about my trophy and wanted to show her enthusiasm to all!!!

This past weekend was amazing! We were all together and got to enjoy it! We heard from many who were remembering with us, and that was a significant blessing!

Our culture is ripe with people who believe that death is final. Final for the one who passes and final for those left behind. It is neither.

Death is part of life, but is not the end. It is, rather, a transition which reveals our eternity.

We each have choices in life. Those choices will determine where our eternity is spent.

When we choose to follow our way, pursue our goals, and define success on our terms,
we are making our choice for the future. We may live well in the now, but our future will be one of torment, save surrendering all to Christ.

'Living well,' means bringing glory to our Lord. It does not mean, pursuing a bigger house, a newer car, or more fashionable clothing, and ignoring what Christ calls each of us to do.

It does not have to be either or, but few can manage wealth and a thriving, intimate relationship with Christ, well. This is why Scripture teaches us that we cannot serve both God and money. Most of us believe we are in control of this. Few of us actually are.

We believe our wants to be needs. I know I struggle with this and I am often wrong.

Death brings finality to what we see of life, but it is not the end. I feared death until I was at my father's bedside, when he passed. He was a godly man and his eternity was sealed.

I was also at my son's bedside when he slipped away. His absence from us guaranteed his presence with Christ (according to his salvation and what Scripture teaches).

They have both gone on to be with the Lord. We are left to deal with life apart from their presence. One does not just move on, easily. The loss of a parent is in order. The loss of a child is not.

When they leave you, you want and need to know their life mattered. Beyond that, you want to know they are with the Lord.

We must make choices that will assure that this is the case. Had Deanna and I ignored the issues of salvation with our children, and believed them to be grossly personal between them and the Lord, it is not likely we would have lived in such a way that their lives would ever have been impacted by Christ in us.

We must choose to live for Him in ways that reflect His glory and presence into the lives of not only our children, but others.

We play a part in the eternity of others, if we "answer the call and get uncomfortable for Christ." If we simply choose to let them look like the world and all it's allures, we are not doing our part.

If we live life, embracing these same allures but try to teach our children different, they see right through us, and realize that the incongruity reflects a "religion" they are not interested in. If it were enough, parents would be changed and more surrendered to what they say they believe.

I do not fear death. I know that I fail in life, but my eternity is sealed.

I may struggle in life with the loss of other loved ones, as I desperately miss them, but I have the promise of knowing we will one day, worship Him together again!

We each must choose.

The way we live our lives will reflect those choices. There is no pretending.
It's time to "Raise a Revolution" for Jesus.


Friday, October 01, 2010

Blowing these out for you Beej! Happy 21st Birthday! I love and miss you!