Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The enemy is on the prowl.

I have heard from many in the past few days who are having/have had significant difficulties or losses.

I don't like to count them because I get overwhelmed. It deepens my love and respect for my Savior when I stop and realize He hurts for and loves them each, one by one. He knows what they are going through, and intercedes on their behalf.

That doesn't lessen my need to pray for them.

Prayer changes me. It moves me closer to His heart. Why am I so prone to thinking I can do things on my own? I can do so little without Him.

I am not a fan of the enemy or his ways. I am broken and tired from seeing his schemes be so effective against my Christian brothers and sisters. I do not pray enough.

I am so thankful for the Holiness of my God! His Son stood in the gap for me. He continues to lift me up before the Father. Why do I find it so difficult to pour myself out in significant prayer?

Too much of the time, I want to do everything else to help others, but fail to pray as I should! That doesn't make any sense at all. Prayer is where I should begin, and it should consume me on behalf of others!

Routinely, what I am plagued by is worldly minutia.

When I am praying intentionally, I remain much closer to Him. When I am praying intentionally, my desires seem to match up with His. When I am praying intentionally, I see Him move mightily! When I am praying intentionally, others are drawn to Christ in me.

When I don't seek Him, my heart strays to things that don't help me in good times or bad.

I am weary of seeing others fall prey to the enemies schemes. Why does this happen so frequently? Why do we let things get out of hand?

It begins and ends with selfishness. We fail to arm ourselves spiritually, and the enemy gains access.

Prayer is so vitally important in each of our lives, and we must continue to lift up those we know are struggling as well as those the Lord brings to mind. He is fully capable of being their strength in times of weakness.

Let us intensify our prayer efforts on behalf of our families and our Christian family.

I would also ask you to pray over my upcoming speaking schedule:

Sep 7th Houston Baptist University, Houston, Tx. Convocation with staff/students
Sep 15th Logos Church, Tulsa, Ok
Sep 18th Keystone BC, Sand Springs, Ok
Sep 30th Tulsa State Fair Chaplain, Tulsa, Ok
Oct 4th Tulsa State Fair Chaplain, Tulsa, Ok
Oct 6th Tulsa State Fair Chaplain, Tulsa, Ok
Oct 21st-23rd DiscipleNow, FBC Healdton, Ok
Nov 4th-6th iGo Missions Conference, Owasso, Ok

Thank you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tucker (he's still in the hospital but is growing and doing better. He is 5 lbs now!

The following account is real. It is about a believer in a land where it is illegal to be one. I ask you to pray for this man and his family. I pray we are inspired by his courage, and that we will get uncomfortable for Christ:

July 6th, Jamal was taken from his home by the local authorities. Now matter how much the family tried to see him, they were not allowed to see him. In fact the government denied taking him. Finally, August 11th, his brother was allowed to see him. Today, August 18, 2011, Jamal’s wife, daughter and youngest son were finally allowed to see him. He told them his story.

After he was taken from his town, he was blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to the capital. For 10 days, he was constantly handcuffed, blindfolded and put in solitary confinement. During the day he was confined to a room where there were 3 air-conditioning compressor units blowing hot air on him, and was not given any water or food during the day. At night he was put in a very small jail cell, and his hands were released just long enough to eat a small piece of bread and drink 1 liter of water. At night he was not able to sleep. He stayed awake praying and singing praises. The guard would beat on the door and tell him to be quiet so he could sleep. Jamal would reply, “This is my room, if you want to sleep don’t let me keep you from sleeping.” And he would continue singing and praying. He endured these conditions for 10 days. When he went into prison, he weighed 231 pounds (105 kilos). Now he weighs 187 pounds, (85 kilos) and his skin is like leather from the heat and dehydration.

Everyday when he was in the hot room, he prayed and sang praises to himself. On the 10th day of this torture, he thought he was going to die because he was very weak and would lose his balance and almost fall over while sitting in the chair. His body felt cold even though it was extremely hot and his clothes were soaked with sweat. Suddenly his strength returned and in a loud voice (Jamal has a voice like a bull horn) he began to pray and sing praises loudly so that all could hear. As he was doing so, he could see below his blindfold, there were many feet in front of him. He continued for some time as they stood there, listening not making a sound. Then they took off his blindfold and took of his handcuffs and brought him a table, food and water. He gave thanks in the name of Jesus and ate his food. After he was done, he thanked the guards and they took the things away. Then one of the higher-ranking officers asked him if he was crazy raising his voice and making all that noise.

Jamal replied, “this is my room. I am here alone. What’s the matter?”

They said, “Being in this room has made you crazier. We are sending you to the general population.”

After these 10 days he was taken and interrogated. Before they took him to the interrogation room he was blindfolded and handcuffed. They questioned him for 20 days after the 10 days of torture. During the questioning, he was not physically abused but verbally abused. The interrogations would last three to four hours or so. They would ask him questions about why he worked with Americans helping people in dangerous places. They accused him of having relations or permission from terrorists and they were allowing him to take people there and do his missionary work. (Terrorists would kill him, they would not allow him to do this. They can’t even lie good.) They accused him of being a spy for America.

They accused him of having friendships with bad people. Now many of these people are followers of Jesus and are good people. The government is accusing him of being bad just like the people he befriends. They also said they had followed him for many weeks and noticed that he only left his house if he had something to do. They asked him what he did at home all the time. He told them he prays, reads, and sings songs to God. They told him to quit that.

But in the end of the questioning, they always asked him why he became a follower of Jesus and left Islam. This is the only reason they have imprisoned him; because of his faith in Jesus.

Many people questioned him many times. Only one time has he been before a judge. The judge told Jamal, “Last time we put you in prison for your faith, and now we have done it again. Why haven’t you returned to Islam, are you getting paid good for this?”

Jamal replied, “I do not receive anything because I am a believer in Jesus. I am on this Way because of Jesus, and what He has done for me.”

The Judge replied, “Then go back to jail for Jesus.”

The Judge again asked him if he would leave his faith and quit spreading his religion. He said, “There are many people in your city, even Christians, who do not like what you are doing.”

Jamal replied, “What I do, I do it for those who want me to do it, not for those who don’t want me to. I will gladly go back to jail for Jesus because I am much closer to him there. Also I am freer in jail than I am outside. I do have one request from you though,” he told the Judge.

The Judge asked him, “What is it you want.”

Jamal said, “Everyone in the jail is Muslim and has a Koran. I would like to have my glasses and my Bible.”

The Judge told him forcefully, “Get out of here.”

This was 2 weeks ago and they have not interrogated him any more.

He is in a jail with about 50 terrorists, real terrorists. When he is among them and he talks about his religion, someone tells the guard and they put him in solitary confinement to keep him from talking about his religion.

This is a perfect example of Middle Eastern Democracy. But most importantly this is a perfect scenario of what believers endure all over the middle east and Asia. Believe it or not, governments in this part of the world are not worried about their citizens individual rights.

Please keep the family and Jamal lifted up.
And next time you have the opportunity to share your faith and don't because you are scared, think about the freedom you have to do so.

Let's remember to lift up his family. He understands his purpose, but his family is gravely concerned. They are believers also!

Let's get uncomfortable for Him...


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tucker Henry Law, 4 lbs 10 0z, and 18" long. Born August 6th at 34 weeks. He is a precious preemie.

Two Sundays ago, I was debriefing our Panama team at the conclusion of their trip. I picked them up in Dallas and spent some blessed time, hearing their stories, helping them shape their experience, and having them affirm one another. It was amazing!

Monday morning, as I awaited their departure, my daughter Whitney contacted me. She had been hospitalized with mild preeclampsia and contractions. She was only 33 weeks along in her pregnancy.

I was blessed to already be in Dallas, so I got to stop and visit her in the hospital on my return trip to Tulsa.

She was in good spirits, and was unsure how long she would be hospitalized.

The contractions stopped, but her blood pressure continued to be high. Eventually, they told her she would be in the hospital and off of work, until she delivered. We had no idea how long this might be, but her doctor told her she would deliver before 37 weeks.

The idea of three or four weeks in the hospital was daunting. She continued to have on again, off again contractions through last week.

A planned Baby Shower for this past Sunday was already on the books. Plans began to be made to alter how it would be conducted. Deanna and Lauren had already planned to go. Whitney's situation, caused me to go as well.

We left after lunch this past Friday, and headed to Denton, Texas. We arrived by dinner time, and got to spend time with she and Jared (her husband). Her blood pressure remained too high as we left the hospital, to retire at their nearby home.

We went to bed uncertain of what might unfold. I received a call from Jared at about 1am, telling me that her blood pressure was at an unhealthy level, so they were inducing labor, and she would likely deliver Saturday morning.

I woke my family to tell them the news, and prepared them for a "moment's notice" trip to the hospital.

Jared texted me throughout the night to keep me updated.

Whitney's labor did not follow normal paths. Her contractions were near constant, but did not progress. About 6 am Jared let me know they wanted to do a 'C section.'

Whitney did not want this. She wanted to deliver naturally. She was upset by the need for this.

I advised her to have the procedure as her health was at risk. So did her husband and the doctor.

The decision was made to do so, and we headed to the hospital.

We arrived about 7 am. At 7:21 am, Tucker Henry was born! He weighed 4 lbs 10 oz. and was 18" long.

He was so perfectly proportioned and the C section delivery had spared the misshapen head that sometimes results.

He was teeny tiny. It is hard for pictures to convey how small he was/is, but the one above helps.

Whitney's BP remains high and she needs our prayers. Tucker has had some normal issues as a result of being born 6 weeks early. However, at this point we are so thankful for how well he is doing.

He was due September 17, but arrived August 6th. This day was already special in our family, as it is my parents wedding anniversary. My dad passed away 17 Augusts ago. Tucker's arrival is very special to his Great Grandmother for this reason!

He is very special to us on so many levels!

Deanna remains in Denton to help Whitney get things ready for him to come home. We don't yet know when that will be, but are expecting him to remain at the hospital in the NICU until at least Saturday, when he is 35 weeks.

We praise God for his safe arrival, and for the improving health of both Mother and child. His proud father is doing very well, also.

So is his over excited 'Poppy'...that's me. Some of you may remember that my son used to call me this. I have decided to forgo traditional grandfatherly names to be "Poppy."

My wife will be "Nana."

We are so excited to fulfill these roles!

Oh, and the Baby shower still happened... in the hospital, and was a great way to welcome Tucker!