Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye to the Old....Hello to the New Year!

With just a few more hours left in the year 2009, many memories flood my mind in retrospection. In general, it has personally been a year of progress in many ways. Some years require all our efforts to simply maintain. Other years have found us regressing. But this past year has been one of moving forward in many aspects. For all of these progressions I give honor and praise to the Lord above.

My own family has been blessed abundantly. My parents have recovered from some really rough years of poor health. I marveled as I watched them enjoy Christmas with their whole family. They were opening presents, singing and having an all around nice time without the nagging pain of the past. I love my extended family. Each one of you hold a special place in my heart.

My children are growing quickly into adults. Both of them are mature beyond their years and I feel that I don't have to worry overtly about their well-being. Having a good head and heart they will be certain of a successful future as long as Jesus is at the center of all they do. I am so grateful for their health, their scholarship and their love for the Lord. I look upon them with Godly pride each time I see them.

Trish, my dear wife, is such an amazing lady. I have never known anyone who works with more devotion to the Kingdom of God. She doesn't like me to say it, but she is truly the greatest Christian I've ever known. She lives a life of service, of forgiveness and doesn't have it in her to hold a grudge. She is an amazing worship leader and will not settle for second best. Her strong leadership is an asset to our ministry. I could go on and on about her abilities of which is being an excellent cook. That is why I am always fighting the battle of the bulge. I am blessed with a strong and courageous lady at my side.

The church we pastor, New Life, is moving in a positive direction. God has brought some first class, amazing people to our church. I don't know how or why God has been so good to me. I do not deserve it. God has allowed Trish and me to minister to many married couples who struggle with various issues. Several marriages have been saved, although we wish we could be 100%. We have had some amazing people return to the church who left a few years ago. Words can't express how gratifying it has been to welcome them back, and to see them quickly find their respective places in the work of God. The church broke its all time, annual attendance record in 2009 by averaging more than 237 on Sunday. We baptized something over 50 people and saw many people saved, many Spirit baptized and many who are still in the process. We have an awesome staff that will no doubt cause us to rise to greater heights. The past year was filled with incredible events including, Trunk R Treat, Revival of Service, Youth Camp, One Night, VBS, Friend Day, Christmas Cantata, Hope events, the advent of JR. High Ministry, Girls Night Out, Men's Campout, and many other events. Each Discovery Class is filled with excellent people looking for a church to connect to that is friendly, Bible based and has a flow of the Holy Spirit. What a great church!!

My work at the funeral home has afforded me many opportunities for ministry. I cannot tell you how many funerals I have preached this year for people that I formerly did not know. There are new people in the church due to our connection in their moments of hardship. It is part of my calling to stand by folks in their hours of darkness and need. I have had dear friends who have lost children in the past year. My heart breaks for them. Only God can help them through such loss. I have personally had to say goodbye to some loved ones and friends this year. This is the course of life. Through it all God is faithful.

On a personal note, our family enjoyed some special times. Trish and I had our annual get-a-way in May and caught a lot of fish. We were able to take our kids on a week long cruise and we all enjoyed fun in the sun and sand. In the fall, I was blessed to take my first mule deer in Wyoming, a nice 3x3, that is already on the wall. I have made many new friendships. I'd never have guessed my facebook friend list would ever approach 725 people. That is humbling. How blessed I am.

I have remained busy serving as a Chaplain for our local fire department with its outstanding men and women. It is an honor to chair our local hospital board as we prepare to break ground in a year on a 40 plus million dollar hospital. As Director of Chaplaincy for the hospital, there have been many calls to stand by those who were critically ill or dying. I applaud the efforts of my fellow chaplains who serve with distinction.

Looking ahead, there is much work to do. With the work comes much opportunity. My primary focus is on our church. I believe the coming year will see more progress both within and without. It is possible that we could go to two services in the next few months. Growth requires change. We will continue to work on the challenges, pray, worship, and remain accountable to our leadership in order that God's favor may continue on our assembly. I will simply hold on to the hand of God and believe Him for the best there is.

While the world is in trouble and times appear to be waxing worse and worse, we are promised all the necessary provisions in the Word of God. The church will not fail. Building your family, your hope, your eternity on all that was bought by Jesus at the cross, is the safest thing in the universe. Let me say to my friends...I love you and thank you for all you've done to stand by me. Let me say to my enemies (if I have any), let's talk and open the Word of God together. Truth is a simple thing and it paves the way for great relationships regardless of whatever is in the past. I extend the hand of fellowship and love to all. May 2010 be a time of building on the ground that was gained in 2009. Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Getting Something Back

I have such a great staff at NLT, the church I pastor. Most all of them are volunteer and they just continually pour their heart and energy into the work of God. As most churches go, there is not enough money to pay folks, but oh how I wish I could. If they are not remunerated financially, then a very important question is raised. "Why do they do what they do?"

That is a great question and the answer will be the focus of this blog. There must be some reason people give themselves to the Kingdom of God in such amazing ways. At the end of the day there is some level of fulfillment inside us that says, "The efforts I gave are worth it." Following are some things I think which enlarge our capacity for this kind of fulfillment and work.

1. We are fulfilled because we a doing what Christ has called us to do. Over and over the Word of God speaks about the Kingdom being propelled by work. There's no bait and switch here. Work is the very thing that runs most folks away from the Kingdom. Americans are by and in large, lazy. We want push button, self-served, easy-greasy things that require little or nothing of us. In God's church, Jesus spoke of working to get things done. He often spoke in parables of the laborer, the farmer, the reaper, the fisherman, the merchant, etc. When a Christian catches hold of the idea that God is pleased when he/she has their sleeves rolled up in the work of God, there is a measure of fulfillment there. To know the approval of God as we work is one of the things that causes people to work long and hard at things few people will ever acknowledge on earth. Yet, we know and believe that the slightest deed done on behalf of God's church will be eternally rewarded when we get to the end of our road! I personally believe that much of the delinquency in our society is due to mis-spent energy. When we take the energy God gave us to work for Him and spend it totally on is no wonder folks are unhappy.

2. We are fulfilled because what we are doing makes a difference for others either directly or indirectly. It is impossible to place value on the life changes wrought by the efforts of Christian workers. How do you measure the value of giving a child Biblical values they will never get at home? How can we measure the importance of having a fellow believer to lean on, a ministry to participate in. When workers see that their efforts have made a difference, they are usually paid in full. From the front door to every ministry in the church, workers feel rewarded when lives are changed. Also, indirectly, the children of parents who are busy in the church learn to place a high priority on the things of God. One day you can say like Paul, "I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in truth." Part of that reward comes from paying your dues with work in the church. Even as I am writing this blog my wife and kids are working downstairs to put away Christmas decorations. I am a rich man.

3. We are fulfilled because we maintain a connection between the past and the future with our efforts. Every generation gives way to the next. Like the baton in a runners hand, the values of the past have to be handed to the next generation. As we work, we maintain that key connection which is gives meaning to the past, and hope to the future.

Let me encourage you to become fully involved in some ministry of the church. You will find there is no more rewarding work on earth, regardless of whether there is a paycheck or not. God bless you this day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Open Your Eyes and Shut Your Mouth...we'll all be better off

People, in the broadest sense, are largely gullible, susceptible, and often given to being skeptical...about the wrong things. Now, lest you think I have a totally skewed view of humanity, realize that I've been working in the 'people' business all of my life. Most of my duties as a pastor include encouraging those who feel like, "the world is against them...and everything is going down the tubes" when it is not, or reprimanding those who think "they don't need anybody to tell them how to run their part of the world" when they are sorely in need of accountability, and lending strength to those who "don't know why all the bad things happen to them". While there are some amazing people, there is some bad in the very best of us and that bad often surfaces through the mouth...our words.

I have found that most trouble in the world as well as in the church, happens because of what people first think and then say. There are those however, who fail to engage the first part of that equation at all. Nonetheless, it is our words that give the most problem. It is truly amazing how large a matter a little fire kindleth. When somebody begins to talk, it starts conversation, rumor, and the gullible part of the mind begins to assume the worst, and get into panic mode. You soon see the eyes get big and the "OH MY GOODNESS!" "YOU DON'T SAY!" "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" I get tickled just thinking about it. Stuff that don't amount to a small hill of beans gets magnified in the mouth until the proverbial anthill becomes Mount Everest.

While men have more than their share of inherent problems such as lust, ego, etc, this struggle with the mouth is often more of a struggle for women. It is proven scientifically, that women are more verbal than men. This in and of itself sets them up for this error. That is not to say that men do not succumb to the errors of talk, gossip, etc. They certainly do, but females are more communicative and as such, are by statistical averages, more given to this error. They want to talk. When women get together, they don't punch each other on the arm...don't wrestle, don't drink beer and talk about Sunday's football game. No! They talk about life, kids, etc. The trap is set. The more fantastic the news or, gossip, the more time the 'floor' is given to the one with the juiciest news! It is quite easy for that scenario to turn into less than the absolute truth. The intentions of the innocent may be skewed tremendously. It happens everyday! Perhaps this is the backdrop for 2 Timothy 3:6, "For of this sort (those who are promoting falsehood) are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts." The silliness is their willingness to listen to and believe that which is false. This does not men all women are silly. But the sins of the mouth proliferate in an environment where truth is secondary to power, a vendetta, or a 'need' to tell the latest.

Trouble is two fold. One is....the platform for the juicy stuff is a place of power. Power often corrupts by its very nature. So it is easy to embellish, or make something a bit more exciting. You know you can make the most innocuous story plumb amazing if you tweak it a bit. Second is...the tale grows taller on down the line. The rumor mill is known for the manufacture of lies. Remember this, "Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear!"

For instance, perhaps you saw a fellow stop beside the road to help a lady change a flat tire at dusk. When rehearsing the story, especially if there is ill intent, one could leave out the 'flat tire' portion and make it a juicy story. "You would not believe what I saw last night!!!" This of course is a great beginning. Everyone gets wide-eyed and scoots up close for the tale. "I saw so and so together last night talking!" Now you've got em. "Not only that, but they were alone....and in the dark!" Can't you hear the 'caring' gasps of the girls bidding the teller to continue?

From there...the tale can just go crazy. In ten minutes the news has spread to at least 25 telephones via text, email. Before the day is over you'd be amazed how terrible the poor guy who stopped with pure motives to simply help change a flat tire, now looks to many people. This is how damaging the mouth can be. The book of James says the tongue has the power of life or death.

There are many other examples. One can taint a story....or twist one's intentions....or use slight to change what one meant...and create a panic. Before you know it, the spark produced by the tongue, rages as a forest fire in the tinder of the mind!! Damage, destruction, horrible ramifications are the results. Leaders are undermined as being selfish, suspicious, slanderous or worse. In these cases there are no fair trials. A fair trial allows both sides to speak their peace. But when you hear one side that's really revved up and juicy, fairness falls by the wayside.

More than once have I heard of people who work together in a factory and get to bashing their spouses daily at the break room table. Soon, the women are suspicious of their husbands and the husbands of their wives. Next, the opposite sex becomes little more than trash and then divorce happen and soon then an epidemic. This is not fiction...I know it happens. I have counseled more than one who have lost their marriage or almost have... and it all starts with what is said.

In conclusion, verify everything before you repeat it. Do not assume someone's motive. Do not speak information that might cast any shadow on the truth or what was intended. The Ten Commandments have a command that we 'Shall not bear false witness!" If we will practice this, truth will live and the damaging falsehoods will wither away.

(Lest I am mis-interpreted...I believe in the important role ladies fill in the church, in government, in management, in church, in ministry etc. I am simply saying this particular temptation is greater for them, just like lust of the eye is greater for a man.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

So....this is the Holidays?

Looking in the mirror I see blurry, bloodshot eyes over puffy dark circles. I've gained a few pounds munching on the ever-present goodies that sit on every coffee table, break room bar, and hospitality area in town. The red in my necktie reminds me it is almost Christmas.

The month of December, in theory, is to be this mystical, fun, totally exhilarating season where one is to live a fairy tale-like existence. When the shroud of childhood mist burns away, one is likely to be sorely disappointed at the reality of the 'real' holiday season. Discovering there is "really no Santa Claus" is minor compared to discovering that the holidays can be one of the most stressful seasons of the year. Here is why.

If you work off a January fiscal year, then you are working hard to get 'year end' items, reports etc wrapped up. Then there are budgets for the coming year. There are financial stresses. This is the jolly time to be spending money on presents. Too many times we spend money we don't have and wind up putting more and more pressure on ourselves. Then there is the general constitution of everyone else. They are stressed too....and thus the barometer of 'stressure' in the general public accelerates. People honk more...yell themselves w one finger.....and carry the desperate look of being under the gun. It's the holidays people!!

The calendar is a major factor too. Everyone wants to have a party so we can 'appear' happy. We fill the little squares with dates, banquets, parties, meals, meetings, and times of 'joyous' celebration. "Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant...." While folks fill the banquet hall....and fill their bellies....and fill their shopping carts.....and fill their maximum credit line....they are often more than willing, during all their filling, to leave their seats at church empty. The offering plate looks as meager as Cratchet's penny bank and some have little time for the things that really matter.

So we go on with our traditions. Snow men, plastic Santa's and reindeer, colored lights and ....and what? More unhappiness, more crime, more poverty, more pretending, more emptiness, more sadness, more drinking to stop the pain, more denial. We shoot our guns as strains of silent night waft in the background. Blood runs the same color as Santa's suit. And who cares? This is the holidays!!

Don't you wish we could just really have time to slow down and enjoy being together without the hype? What if the holidays meant you could go no where, and had to stay at home with your family to share stories and express the love we have for one another. When God came to this earth, He came to a simple stable to bring a simple message. God loves you and that is all we really need.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Tiger Attack

Tiger Woods, golf's legendary player has now formally proven his humanity. He is sinful! His sin was open and witnessed publicly before all. He evidently was involved in an extra-marital affair. So let's say it here....this is sad, sinful, shameful and we all wish it had never happened.

While many gasp and hold their 'sanctified' hand across their mouths, let me rise to defend Tiger. Oh, don't confuse what I just wrote. I do not defend his sin. Sin....all sin will be judged! God has not changed his mind about how much He hates sin, and primarily because it brings separation between a Holy God and a sinful man. He has further promised to pour out His wrath upon all sin. Either it was poured out on vicariously upon Christ when we ask forgiveness....or it will be poured out on the individual who rejects forgiveness and salvation, eternally.

So here now is for Tiger's defense. Why the Tiger attack? We, and the media especially, act as if he is the first person to ever make mistakes. They act as if being a high profile, public figure prevents mistakes and makes one somehow above failure. While we act that way, we all know it is not true. We all fail!

Oh yes we do! WE ALL FAIL!! If this keyboard had a way to emphasize it bigger I would! You, my dear reader...have failed. "All have sinned and come short..." If you put your own life under the microscope, you won't have to travel back many days in your calendar where you thought negative thoughts, looked at something unholy, gossiped, thought about quitting, had a judgmental attitude, felt 'deserving' of something, complained, lusted, coveted, cheated, or felt overly religious for not having cursed when someone pulled out in front of you. If one of these didn't hit you then you probably just sinned because of pride, a sin which God adamantly hates.

Since we are sinners, who gave us the right to jump in the forest of humanity and attack a tiger, or any other of God's creatures? Oh but we do! We attack and judge and condemn and cluck our tongues as if we are a total stranger to sin. It appalls me at how the media flocks like flies to a rotting carcass, when a leader fails. The love it....swill it down....roll in it like a dog does a maggot infested possom skin alongside the road. Yet, the ones behind the tablets, computer screens and television cameras are just as sinful as the tiger they attack.

It is my prayer that Tiger will have more friends to help him up than enemies to pull him down. I believe that one day we will all need, as the song says, '...somebody to lean on!' We'd have a lot better world if we only rejected the people who rejected help...the 100th time. "Oh that's bizarre!" you might say. Well consider that Jesus asked us to practice forgiveness 490 times per day for the same person. (70 x 7) Now that is awesome and it is what will save the world from sin.

In conclusion, I am defending Tiger....the man, the son, the father, the husband, the icon, the individual Christ died for. I do not defend his sin. I only want him to be free from the cannibals that at this point are more dangerous to him than the sin itself. For these kinds of people can push you over the edge and prevent the redemption and restoration that Jesus so willing gave up His precious life to give us.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jim Brown and broken records

I settled in to watch a Monday Night Football game last night. I always enjoy watching football. By this time in the season it's pretty much the same thing....a few superstars doing their thing and commentators building hype with their play by play analysis.

Toward the end of the game some running back (I honestly don't remember his name) broke Jim Brown's all time rushing yardage. When they announced the broken record, the camera panned to the sky box where a lonely man, the real Jim Brown, was sitting alone, wrapped in a coat and holding a cane. His face was expressionless and empty and it seemed the emphasis of the moment was unintentionally more about a broken man than a broken record.

All records are made to be broken. That is the nature of the business. You can only be king for a day. Many thought Jim Brown's records would never be broken, but alas they are already shattered and a new king has been crowned.

When I see people put so much effort into things that will pass away it concerns me. Most of the things we work so hard to accomplish in this life will not last. One day we will look at all of it through the lens of Jim Brown as he sat alone in the frigid sky box. Someone will come along and do it bigger and better than you are today.

So, does that mean we stop completely? The answer is no...we should continue on, but do not get too caught up in the temporary things of life. They are fleeting and will become meaningless in the big picture. May God help us to remain focused on the most important facets of our life....upon those things which will last in eternity. Don't stress over the record book!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Treat it Like it's the Last Time

Last week I was called to the hospital room of a friend. He had been ill for a long time. It was obvious to his family and to me that this was his final stay in the hospital. He was dying. As I approached his bed, he rallied enough to see me and respond in non-verbal ways to my presence.

I spoke to him of faith in God, of heaven and of all the comfort I could bring him. I prayed with him and after a rather lengthy stay, as hospital visits go, I knew it was time for me to leave. This was the difficult part, knowing that I had a trip to Texas facing me the next day. It was probable that I would never see him again on this side of eternity. I told him I loved him and in his weak, feeble voice said to me, "I love you too."

The next day we got in the car to drive to the Gulf region of Texas where we would celebrate my mother-in-law's 70th birthday. This was a special occasion because my wife's uncle who lives in Germany, was flying in for the event. He had come to Texas for my mother-in-law's 50th birthday. Upon reflection, I could hardly believe twenty years had flown by so rapidly, but they had. The uncle was now 75 years of age. If things go as usual, this would likely be his last trip to the United States so that made this trip extremely special.

All these 'last time' things caused me to stop and think a bit. You know, we really never know when it will be our last time....last time to be with friends,...last time to worship together,...last holiday,...last chance to say 'I love you', etc. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we began treating one another as if it were the last time. Consider how you would appreciate the time if you knew it would be the last conversation you'd ever have with them. Consider how you would try to convey your sincere love if you knew you'd never get the chance to say it again.

The goodbye in Texas was a tearful one, as everyone knew this may well be the last one. When I arrived back home I learned the "I love you" I heard from my friend, was indeed the last one. Today I preached his funeral service.

Let's not take one another for granted. Everyone, everyday, every moment is precious, especially in light of it being the last time, last conversation, last chance to say, 'I love you'.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Losing to's just the way it is.

As much as I may initially dislike the concept, there is no way to progress except through pain. Body builders live by the motto, "No pain, no gain." While I'm not interested in spending much time in the weight room, I am interested in growing personally and helping our church to mature and grow in the Grace of God. The same principle applies.

For every action there is an equal, opposite reaction. This natural law has some application in the Spiritual sense also. In the Old Testament, a thief was required to repay 7 to 1. Whatever may have been taken from you, will be repaid to you seven fold in time. It is amazing that God will require the enemy to bring blessing to you. Often they do not even know they are repaying you but they are.

In God's Kingdom, He takes the poor, broken and unlearned and uses them to confound the mighty. We are often prone to curse the limitations and setbacks that happen. In the moment they hurt and seem unfair. Our natural man wants to get mad, get even, settle the score etc. But in time, we find that the pain of the moment was merely a little pressure from the Potter, who was and is molding us into the plan He has for our lives and our church.

Keep in your mind that God is working all things for our good. He can take our disappointments and turn them into tremendous times of victory. It seems that God is glorified when we get to the point where we must leave the results to Him. If we will trust Him in those moments, He will be honored by bringing impossible situations into triumph of the most prolific variety.

A man spoke into my life recently and said, "You know, the way you were willing to lose (ie. leave denominationalism) in order to win is likely how God will take you and your church to the next level." Tides come in and tides go out...but in it all, God is in charge of the ocean. I am not forecasting gloom here. Rather, I am forecasting amazing things in God. The Word says, "We are His people and the sheep of His pasture!" The Great Shepherd will lead us if we will be willing to follow...even if it may not be the way we would have personally chosen. In the end we will have one of those, " I see!" moments. Be willing to lose for the moment....b/c you know it means you will be winning in the end.

In my life this principle has occurred over and over. Lose a little....gain a lot. Lose a little....gain a lot. It's like Moses having to surrender the rod in his hand...the very thing he leaned on. It's like Abraham being asked to give up his only son in exchange for a perpetual promise. It is like a widow being asked to give up her last cake in exchange for unending supply of food. It is like a man with a withered hand being asked to extend it exchange of humiliation for healing. I think you get the point. The same God is still on the throne. Everything you sacrifice for the kingdom will be rewarded. Remember what Jesus told Peter..."If you will give it up for me, you will be rewarded a hundred fold in THIS life and in the life to come." Wow!!

God is faithful and loves you so much. Be encouraged today.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Deal is Still On!

Jack Hayford is a face I had seen on TV several times. I guess it is the switch of channels that threw me off. I mean it is hard to go from ESPN or True TV to the voice of Jack Hayford...or so I thought. Jack's voice is soft and he speaks in a low-key manner and consequently, I seldom was captured enough to listen for very long. It must be my ADD kicking in.

Having just come from a conference in Nashville where Dr. Hayford was the speaker, I realize and gladly acknowledge the power, wisdom, and anointing of this gentle giant of a man. He spoke with distinction and as a man who has spent many years laboring over the context of scripture. He is brilliant in the Word. More than that, he is tuned into the Holy Spirit and speaks readily of the Holy Spirit baptism and its effects in the believer's life.

At the aforementioned conference, this dear man of God spoke a Word from the Lord to me directly. He spoke of Abraham's attempt to offer Eliezer as the substitute for the plan of God. God had made a covenant with Abraham that through his seed the earth would be blessed. As it turns out, Abraham had some stumbles along the way. He was filled with doubt and had a son by a handmaid. He fell into the entrapment of deceit by telling his wife, Sarai to lie about being his wife. With all of this in his past it would be easy to see why Abraham would think God had every right to abandon him and the plan to make him the father of a great nation. So, Abe offered Eliezer to the Lord (Gen 15 i think).

Right away God would have nothing to do with it. God's calling for Abraham remained unchanged despite all the failures. God would not accept a substitute for His original plan. Jack Hayford related the story of how he and his wife wanted a piece of furniture from a store that matched what they already had in their home. One Sunday he saw an ad in the paper with the exact piece for sale at significant savings during the week. Due to all of the activities of the week, he and his wife were unable to get down to the furniture sale. So on the following Monday, they went to the store early in the morning to see if they would honor the sale. At first they were not going to do it b/c the sale was officially over. But, after checking their record and finding they had been loyal customers through the years, the manager went ahead and sold the furniture to them at the price of yesterday's sale. In other words, for them....the deal was still on!

This is exactly what God was saying to Abraham. "The deal is still on!" The plans that I have for you remain intact. I haven't changed my mind just because you have jumped the gun....have made miserable mistakes, etc. Isn't that good news? I mean God was really speaking this to me and I am so grateful.

If you are like me, you know the bitter taste of having made mistakes. God knows how to humble us and then, thankfully, He doesn't abandon us...but rather lifts us up and places us back on the original track. Hear the voice of the Holy Spirit say to you this day..."The Deal is Still On!" His gifts and callings are without repentance. Sometimes it requires repentance and restoration to get us back in line with the plan of God. But, if you are willing God certainly is.

Be blessed this day and move ahead in Him. Pick up where you left off and watch God exalt you to where He intended you to be.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Whitney Houston's Comeback

This morning I watched as Good Morning America hosted the comeback of an American Pop Icon, Whitney Houston. Whitney is one of the most widely enjoyed singers in history. I watched with great anticipation as I too enjoyed her soulful singing in days gone by.

Like many in the world of entertainment, she fell victim to the pressure, the temptations, that often comes with the stress of pleasing the masses. Coupled with a tumultuous marriage, Whitney succumed to drug abuse. She has subsequently been absent from the stage and but not from the hearts of her followers.

I have to say I felt a variety of feelings while watching this amazing lady as she struggled to get back the game that was once so stellar. Her voice was not the silky brilliance I had remembered. It was ragged at times and she strained to reach some of the notes she used to hit with perfect and profound pitch. She was over-energized as though she was trying to convince the audience she still had it. I felt sorry for her in moments where it appeared that she recognized it was not flowing as she had envisioned it might. While there were many moments that were less than comfortable....I had to honor her.

Throughout the entire mini-concert, I admired Whitney for being willing to be vulnerable. She put her neck on the line in front of the world. She didn't hide the fact that there had been issues, struggles, failures and that the Whitney of old would never return to her youthful form. Yet, she persisted. Despite the ragged moments, there was that spirit of perseverance that came shining through in her personality. She became a new kind of icon. One that speaks of triumph over adversity and that failure is not final if one is willing to get back out on the stage of life!

I wish Whitney the very best in her comeback. She is trying. It's not beautiful at this point, but her effort is gorgeous! Rock on Whitney!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looking Through A Knothole

Two people approach the massive stadium. Both can hear the crowd as they cheer and prepare for the game. Both can smell the popcorn and roasting hotdogs. As the first pitch is tossed to the batter both are looking at the game, but they see it in very different ways.

One of these men had a ticket and has now found his place in section C, row 15, seat 9. The other,...he is a boy without a ticket who is attempting to see the game through a knothole in the wooden fence down the first base line. One will see every pitch, every stolen base and will see the full flight of a home-run that will clear the centerfield fence. The other fellow, will only get small glimpses of a play or two here and there. He can only see the batter for twenty five feet as he runs between second and third. From the knothole, he can buy no popcorn and will miss so much of the dynamics of the game...but he will go home and tell his friends he went to the game.

Now lets talk about religion in a similar context. God has a bigger game going on than most people know. He is doing a mighty work in the world, reaching nations with the gospel of salvation. But traditional religion is the knothole that is preventing many good people from getting into the game.

I used to see the work of God through a knothole of denominationalism. I really thought I was seeing the 'whole' game. It was exciting to think that our little group had all of the truth...would be the only ones in heaven....and had the corner on the market concerning ministry. I mean, if the preachers who preached on TV weren't exactly of my branch of believers, they were just wasting their time.

Then one day the Lord allowed me to get a ticket to the 'ballpark'. Once I got inside, I realized the doubts I had were real and valid. Did you ever think that if your denomination is the only one saved, then heaven is going to have a lot of extra room if it is 1500 miles square? Maybe you are like the Jehovah's Witness who believe there will only be a select 144,000 saved! Boy, talk about a lot of room in heaven.

Perhaps you took a look at sincere people who love God more than you do....who have spent their entire lives studying the Word....have sacrificed more than you for the Kingdom....and you can still cluck your tongue and think..."How sad that they do not know the 'truth'." Knotholes limit the view my friend! Religion does that. When you are taught it one way long enough, you are prone to think your knothole is the whole picture. It is quite an awakening when I realized there are other missionaries in the world...other evangelists...other devout followers of Jesus. I met a man who is over more than 400 pastors in Bulgaria. He has miraculous stories of God's power! Oh yes...and he is an independent missionary!

Last night I went to a church service with approx 5000 people in attendance. Mind you that is more than twice the number of people that came to a 'statewide' campmeeting when I was seeing through the knothole. In that one service I saw more than 250 people saved. Yes...saved! Not according to my former knothole view...but saved according to the Bible, to God's Word, in accordance with the understanding of the greater body of Christ's understanding of salvation, and in accordance with history. I studied Acts afresh and discovered that Peter preached more than the Acts 2 sermon. His other sermons are just as important and valid. Further, Acts 2 aligns with the body of evidence. You can't build a doctrine on one verse. That is knothole religion. Ignore all of this if you want to, but God wants to do some great things. He wants you to see a picture of the Kingdom in a bigger way than you have previously known.

My dreams and vision has been enlarged since I have been inside the ballpark. I really believe the possibility of growing a great church and influencing my part of the globe for Jesus Christ is possible. I believe it because I got a view from a place larger than a knothole. You can too!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Created a Great Memory

I preach about making memories. Admittedly this is easier said than done. I realize that I must be the first partaker of what I preach and sometimes that is easier said than done. However, this week I hit the nail on the head and I want to share it with you.

My parents have been through a lot of adversity. They have been the truest of family and friends as they have also stood with me through adversity of my own. My dad has gone through 10...yes ten, back surgeries. He almost died last year. During that time I told dad that one dad we'd go fishing again just like we did when I was a boy. My mother is about to undergo her second back surgery. (what is it with these ailing backs?) She is a true Christian and loves the Lord completely. She also loves to fish.

So, one evening last week I arranged to take my parents fishing. They secured their fishing license while I got the boat ready. We went over to Beaver lake and spent the evening fishing, trolling for white bass. We had such a good time and even hooked up with about 7 or 8 fish in two hours. Afterward, Trish and I took them out to eat. It was a wonderful evening that my folks are still commenting about.

Let me encourage you to do a little extra to make the memories that will last a lifetime. We created a great memory and I hope you will do the same.

God bless you and your family,


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Success and Its Many Foes

There is much writing that has been done on the subject of success. The bookshelves at the local bookstore are loaded with the topic. And...rightfully so. Regardless of whether you drive a beemer or a beetle, everyone would like to be successful.

Success, however, is not merely measured in the amounts of ones stocks or bonds. Money not withstanding, success has much more to do with that inner feeling of accomplishment, of having won against something that would have otherwise held you down. In order to really understand success, we should identify a few of the common foes or enemies who so often stand in the way.

1. Lack of Motivation - anyone who ever succeeded at anything has to be highly motivated. This motivation can either be of a positive nature or a negative one. In other words, some are driven to succeed b/c they want to further a family business, while others are driven to succeed b/c they are jealous of another's business. Either way, highly motivated people are the ones who succeed. I see folks destined for mediocrity who can scarcely get there behind off of the sofa. Motivation is internal and unless one catches it for themselves, it is difficult to motivate someone into success.

2. Failure - it is really what you do after you first do not succeed that demonstrates the real you. Failure is common to us all. But failure should be used as a springboard to fall forward and to overcome. A lot of people shut down when they fail b/c they feel humiliated, feel like the world is against them. Recognize early that you must live your life as tho it is just you and the Lord working out the details. If you listen to the roar of the crowd they will drive you nuts b/c people are fickle. They are your friend one day and your enemy the next. They'll applaud your entrance into the stadium one Sunday and boo you out the next. So forget about the grandstands. Your success is determined between your ears and your elbow! Failure cannot stop you if you truly want success.

3. Loss of Perspective - For every 100 people who begin a journey toward success, usually only 5 or fewer finish. The balance settle for less. One of the chief reasons for this is what occurs between the onset of the journey and the completion of it. At the beginning, vision and purpose is clear. The objective is known and the pathway to it, established. Yet, the days turn to months and months to years. In that process, the vision has to be revisited. A successful person is always re-establishing their location and their goal. If perspective is lost, then energy is spent merely moving, but not necessarily moving toward the objective. The bible says, "Without a vision the people perish!" How true. Loss of perspective has been the death of many a dream.

5. Fatigue - Weariness is like a leech. It sucks the life-blood from you. The daily grind literally grinds away the edge, the drive and finally the dream. There must be periods of rest along the way wherein the mind, body and emotions can be regenerated. Everything given out has to be taken back in and replenished in order to maintain a good pace toward success. Remember, the race to success is a marathon and not a sprint. There certainly are times one must give it his all in order to capture the moment, but in the end we all have to learn to take some time away, realizing this is as vital to the dream as the work itself.

There are many more foes, but these are some common ones for you and me to consider. I hope you will think about where you are headed and be honest enough to admit if the course you are taking can really get you to your dreams. God want us to be successful as long as our success brings Him honor. So in all things, give glory to God!



Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bugs in Abundance

I'm riding down the highway on my motorcycle and noticed the amazing number of bugs there are. I mean, there are many more than I EVER noticed before! Bugs in my headlights, bugs hitting me in the face....bugs everywhere. I had to drive slowly to prevent them from literally coating my glasses. Then a car passed me.

It was then I thought about how many bugs that car, whose front end was much wider than mine, was taking out. You would think one big car, at a very high speed would pretty much clean out the majority of the bugs on the highway. I looked ahead of the car in front of me and there was a line of cars in front of that car. I began to wonder how many bugs each car and truck for miles ahead of me was catching. Then one has to be reminded there are about 24,000 cars a day that drive this highway. Suppose 24,000 cars a day wipe out 2000 bugs each. Now multiply that times the three summer months or approx 45 days of bug production.

I don't know about you, but my calculator starts blinking when considering bug numbers that big. Suffice it to say there are a lot of bugs out there and they must have an amazing source to keep replenished a rate necessary to overcome the constant wipeout of their relatives along the highway.

Sometimes I think of the struggles of life in terms of these pesky bugs. No matter how many trials a person overcomes, there are always a few thousand more waiting to smack you in the nose, and blur ones vision. We have no choice but to press on, to keep moving ahead. There will always be bills to pay, set-backs to overcome, temptations to endure, tears and disappointments, struggles and the list is as endless as the insects splattered on the windshield. Although we can't stop the bugs, we have the assurance that none of them will be able to knock us off the road.

God is with us and that is a comfort. When we get to the end of the journey, He will wipe all the 'bug juice' from our windsheild and there shall be no more tears.

Keep the hammer down!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Amazing Grace

The title may incline you to think I'm about to blog about the most popular Christian hymn of all time. While I love the song, I want to write about this theme as it pertains to you and me.

Grace is the bridge that spans the gulf between our inadequacy and the demands of a righteous and holy God. With our best efforts, religion, worship, lifestyles...we fall dreadfully short of really pleasing God. So it is grace, that grace of the amazing variety, that presents us faultless before God.

I will be first to admit there are many who think they can 'use' grace so that they can willfully live in sin. This is so unfortunate as these people both, sell themselves short, and they fail to please God. Pleasing God is threefold. 1. Do your very best to live above any reproach at all. Strive for perfection. Treat people right. Keep your heart free of bitterness, unforgiveness, lust. Pray and seek the Lord. Study His Word. These are the things we must do. 2. Realize that our best is insufficient. 'Our' righteousness is as filthy rags! The very best you can produce in your own human efforts is so weak in light of the Holiness of God. 3. Depend upon the Grace that has been provided. Like a cripple leans on a crutch for support, we lean hard on the grace given us through the cross of Calvary! It requires faith to do this. Faith accesses all that Jesus has provided for us with His sacrifice. Therefore we are saved by grace through faith!

I'm so glad that Amazing Grace is more than a song. It is an actuality in my own life. Grace is the safety net that caught my falling soul and it is so much more than a hymn.

Tell me what you think of the Grace you have found.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Strength for the Day

As a boy I used to 'sleep in' on summer days and on the weekends during the school year. It was no problem to keep sawing logs until at least 10:00 am. Even now I marvel at how my children can hang with the covers until the morning is gone. However, it is not the same for me anymore.

Perhaps it has something to do with getting older, but I find it very difficult to 'sleep in'. I just can't do it anymore. My back hurts and I get to tossing and turning so I may as well drag my hide out of the sack. What really prevents the extra snooze is when my mind kicks into gear. If I start's all over!

There is plenty to think about too. In fact sometimes I get overwhelmed before I get out from under the blanket. My mind goes to situations in the personal lives of people to whom I am trying to minister. I think of the pain that many are in...people sitting in hospitals with loved ones, friends who are sleepless b/c of some bad news they may have received, decisions that some are making concerning their career, their marriage or both. These weigh heavily on my mind and drive sleep far away.

Then I think of all that I need to do that day. There are always chores around the place that are prevelant. Horses need to be wormed, the garden needs to be tilled, the grass needs to be cut, there are bag worms in the evergreen, one of the cars won't start, the switch went out on the dryer, etc. So in my mind, while laying there trying to force myself to rest, I am mowing, tilling, and twisting wrenches in my mind. Good thing thinking doesn't make noise or my poor wife would never rest either.

The church and its present position is perhaps the thing that is at the fore of my thinking early in the morning. There is forever an issue to deal with, a bill that needs to be paid, a worry about a parishoner that hasn't been at church for weeks, etc, etc. I hope and pray for successful sermons, for our departments to jell and to continue growing, for people to mature and take responsibility for 'their' church and not leave it to the dedicated few. So the wheels of grey matter turn over and over until my body follows suit...and my feet hit the floor.

Just this morning I lay there thinking...."I could sleep in a few minutes today." Then I began to think of all that would be done before I leave for a trip this evening. I would finish yard work, till the garden, make a list for the church, decide who would be in charge of what, pack a suitcase, prepare a funeral sermon, check in via telephone with about 10 people, be certain all the animals were cared for during my absence, be sure everything is in place at the church, preach a sermon and then drive eleven hours. So....soon the sleeping in was out voted by the 'to do ' list.

One other thing I think we all should remember while preparing for the day is to talk to the One who knows it all and sees it all before it even begins. We should pray for strength for this day. As Jesus taught us, "Give us this day our daily bread." Today will take care of itself if I will take care of me. I do that by asking Almighty God to be my source of strength and He is always ready to help me. When I lay my head down tonight in Alabama, my chores of the day complete, it will be by the loving strength of God that I made it.

Take a moment and ask for a little strength for yourself.

P.S. And....I need to update this blog too. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Simply Put...The Bible Saves

I attended a funeral this week. Since I work at a funeral home part time, I attend and assist at many funerals. This funeral was really cool and I'd like to share it with you.

The service was for a World War 2 Veteran. These men have a special place in my heart b/c my grandfather served during that time and they truly carved out a niche in world history by standing against Hitler's evil military machine. The gentleman who had passed away was decorated with three bronze stars and a purple heart for being wounded. In his array of medals on display was a small bible. On the Bible was a piece of tape with these words written in the handwriting of the deceased man, "Saved by the Bible."

These words had dual meaning. Of course we all know the truths of the Bible, God's Word, proclaim clearly the way of salvation. The gentleman had evidently followed this Spiritual journey during his life. But there was more to the little Bible on display. This Bible had a metal cover. Once during the war....I think it was 1946, this man was caught in fire of a German machine gunner on the side of a hill. Men were being hit and finally took cover on the ground. At that moment an artillery round landed nearby and drove this man, Virgil is his name, to his knees. The shrapnel from the shell had struck him in the chest. The cover of the Bible had deflected the metal which otherwise would have killed him. The metal cut Virgil around the collar bone. He crawled to an old shed, laying there until he could be tended to by the medics.

Stories like these are many on the battle front. In this case, the Bible was indeed a most critical book. It literally saved his life.

You know what? The Bible has saved me many times. I have looked to it for direction, instruction, passion and understanding. It has saved me too, only in a different way than the man we buried this past week. Keep your Bible is a life saver.


Pastor Tim

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jesus....Away from the Stained Glass

Most of our ideology of and even our mental imagery of Jesus, the Messiah, comes from renderings of artist. They usually paint or draw or place into stained glass Christ as some soft, halo wearing, long-haired softy that looks anything but a person who could relate to me or you. Add to that the written attacks on Jesus by infidels who have portrayed Him as a homosexual and other devious and damnable things.

Having traveled many places in the world, I have seen the portrayal of Jesus around the world. Even in the places they attempt to show Jesus with reverence, to me, they miss it badly. Now I have not seen Jesus and I am sure my opinion of HIm is shaped by the various inputs I have had into my imagery.

However, consider that Jesus grew up in the home of boys. His dad was a carpenter. Carpenters work hard. Their hands are often rough from handling the wood and working with tools necessary for plying their trade. Jesus was comfortable among some of the toughest guys in the land. He called fishermen to accompany Him in reaching the world. Jesus was a real man...sun tanned, calloused hands, able to look the meanest soldiers in the face with blood dripping from His own.

Let me tell you about some of the folks I relate to as well. I have some friends that are cattlemen, ranchers, and generally rough people. One old fellow in particular comes to mind. He drives an old truck, raises goats, cattle and even a donkey or two. He is uneducated and can be spotted wearing an dilapidated old cowboy hat. His hands are gnarled from years of hard work and...He is a Christian. This man loves the Lord deeply. But guess what? He does not relate to the paintings in Cistine Chapel. He has no comprehension of a soft Saviour. In the words of this friend when talking about the Lord he says, painfully, "They whooped Him!" Not whipped...whooped. Recently he was speaking of Jesus and the kind of man He was. I think he captured it better than the elite artists of the world when he said of the Christ, "He's a Hoss!"

I love it! It is the kind of Christ I relate to. When we see Jesus again, rest assured He will not be a soft pushover, but He will return as King of Kings and men...all men will fear and tremble at His appearance.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Junk in My Trunk

Lifting the hatch on my Jeep is an experience in itself. Oh, not the much as what you find when you lift it. In my trunk is a veritable smorgasbord of all the things I have been involved with in the last month or two. You'll find a planter or two, softball gloves, clothes a kid left from the fishing trip, some tools, a bag of feed and the list goes on and on.

It seems that the junk in my trunk is really a mirror of me. As much as it looks jumbled and unorganized, I know where things are and what they are for. Now, I thought long and hard about that trunk. It would only take a little time to totally empty it out, vacuum it and get it spic and span. I don't blame folks that keep theirs in that manner, but I'll go out on a limb here and say that those who have those perfect trunks, or pickup beds are usually really boring people.

If you are busy, interesting, involved, getting something get the picture...well, there is a really good chance your trunk is going to show remnants of all you've been doing of late. To balance these statements, I am not suggesting that you let your trunk get so piled up that you have to sit on it to close it. Nor do I want your life endangered by man-made avalanche. But, take an inventory of your trunk and see what's inside. It will say much about the person you are.

Tell me what's in 'your' trunk!!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Real Hero's

Most of the things that attract the attention of the general population aren't worth much. Human beings are easily tricked and deceived. They respond to brighter lights, the music, the excitement, the call of the 'midway' so to speak. It seems that little attention these days is given to the most valuable aspects of our society...and mostly because the most valuable things are not standard equipped with bells and whistles.

Let me be more specific. In America, the heart and backbone of this nation are the men and women who get up early and stay up late working hard, paying taxes and being honest about living. But nobody gives a rip about them. The folks who get the attention, thus becoming iconic, are often the band leaders, the sports hero's and perhaps some charismatic politician. Don't get me wrong, there are good folks in all of these fields, but the really good folks still are unheralded.

In the realm of Country Music these days, there are a lot of modern singers with really good bands and good voices. But they attempt to sing about and be an icon for something they know little about. I would be willing to bet many of these 'country' singers know little about the country. Many wouldn't know the first thing about a horse, about growing row crops, or about the days when living on the farm demanded excellent work ethics. While these guys get a lot of press, they cannot hold a candle to the men and women who are riding in the cab of a hot tractor raking hay, or milking cows, or branding calves.

I hope you will join me in looking for ways to promote the 'Real' hero's in this land. Those who live within their means, treat their neighbors right, go to church, work hard, and laugh long. It is the common folks that I am applauding today. Although their names are not in lights, their efforts definitely keep the lights burning. God bless the faithfulness of the blue collar workers in America. They are the real hero's.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

When the Baby Cries....

Today at a high school graduation I heard an unhappy baby cry out. Even though there was a large crowd present, the baby's voice could be plainly heard due to the acoustics of the building. As I sat there I thought of all the various responses to that cry. Read on and see what your response may have been.

All the young, single folks were like..."I wish somebody would get that cranky, squalling brat out of here and stop it from ruining our party. The parents in the room, especially the mothers were feeling the 'poor baby' syndrom. The moms in the crowd were attempting to get a remedy in their minds...."wonder if the baby is wet?"...."must have cholic and needs some gas-x"....or "if they would get those uncomfortable clothes off that baby she would be quiet." The third group in the crowd was the grandparents and people who have been in such a predicament. They were thinking, 'poor mom'....'I hope someone will help that lady with the baby'......'Where is the dad in this scenario?'

Perhaps you can add your own thoughts to the above situation. If you live long enough, you may feel all the emotions above. One thing is sure...when something happens everybody sees it through the lens of their own experiences. I remembered that when the baby cried.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Happiness in a Jon Boat

My wife and I had a rare but very enjoyable get a way recently. Each May we take a couple of days to unwind a little. We always escape to a place where there is a very simple cabin...I take a simple jon boat...we eat simple meals....I think you are getting the picture. It is about simple.

One day we were fishing on Lake Leatherwood, a small impoundment in the mountains. We were catching fish with night crawlers. The sun was out and the lake was beautiful. There were geese swimming at the water's edge and I realized there was something in that simple, aluminum boat that was missing in many of the ritziest places in the world....that being happiness.

Happiness is not wrapped up in the things a man may possess. We all know there are plenty of rich folk who are extremely miserable....some miserable to the point of suicide. Some have fame...looks...and the apparent trappings of all that is supposed to make one happy.

I have discovered happiness in the simple things of life. You don't have to go on a luxury cruise to find happiness. You may never receive an inheritance check, but you can still be happy. Happiness is a discovery of the little moments of life that are special. When we come to the end of our lives, we will one day realize that every moment in some way is ....special.

I hope you will quit waiting for your ship to come in...thinking it will hold all the joy you need. I have found that happiness can be in the simplicity of a jon boat and a few perch.

Have a Happy Day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Most Humbling Experience

Perhaps the most humbling experience I have had in life is to teach those who taught me. Let me explain. Recently I had a Bible Study in my home concerning Biblical Salvation. There were approximately 30 people who showed up to study. In that group were my parents, my aunt and uncle and my grandmother who is 88 years old.

The aforementioned people, like myself, were part of a faith family who held to one particular verse of scripture (Acts 2:38) to the complete omission of many other salvational scriptures. I had the same feeling about their plan of salvation as I had about their 'standards', better understood as rules, or legalistic works. None of their practices withstood the rigorous scrutiny of objective scriptural criticism.

I had to study it out for myself. So over the past 4 years, amidst much difficulty, I continued to pray, study, consult with other men of God and come to a better, more complete understanding of the Word. The pattern of scripture is very clear...we are saved by grace through faith. (Eph2:8). John preached it, Jesus taught it and practiced it, the disciples believed it, Peter preached it (by the way he preached at least 4 sermons in Acts...all of them carrying as much weight as Acts 2), Paul preached it, and we are handed the job and opportunity of preaching the same thing. The just shall live by faith! You do not have to ignore Romans 10:9-10, John 3:16 and a host of other 'necessary' scriptural texts my former faith family ignored.

With this information and a certainty in my heart and spirit, I taught this bible study. I handed out study notes...about 15 pages worth, so they could take it home, review it and hold my feet to the fire as it were. What a relief to know in my spirit we do not have to have people 'tarry' for the Holy Spirit...nor do we have to do the Norweigan Shake at the altar to know a powerful salvational experience. We sing, Jesus paid it all..but often we didn't believe it. The work necessary for salvation occurred at the cross!

That evening, as folks were leaving, my grandmother came by and thanked me for the Bible Study. She understood it. My parents understand it. My mother commented about how she had wondered why we left out so much of God's Word. My friends, these are some of the most humbling moments I will ever live.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Facebook and Life

I am trying to figure out how to get around on Facebook. I am in elementary mode right now. How amazing that the world has shrunk to the point we can all connect via internet. It has been enjoyable to meet old friends again. Some of the people I have not heard from in years. One can see how life has transformed them and I am sure they see it in me. Funny how you don't see it so much in yourself as you do in other people...or a least we don't want to admit it. That's life!

See ya in the funny papers.


Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm No Stranger to the Rain

If you listen to a little country music, you may recognize my blog title as the title of a popular tune. I thought of it because of the tremendous amounts of rain we have been having. It's beautiful really! But in life it is not so fun...although it causes us to grow.

Should you want to do some research about troubles in life, start with your Bible. When you open it and begin to read, you will discover that every character in it, especially those greatly used by God, were no strangers to the rain either. The more I live the more I know we are all in need of much grace as the umbrella to cover us during life's storms. Eve, ate the fruit...Abraham, lied...Moses, got so mad he broke the commandments of God, not to mention his sheer disobedience of striking a rock he was told to speak to....Samson, fell prey to a stalking woman losing sight of his strength....David, committed adultery with Bathsheba...Elijah got so depressed he begged to die.....Thomas doubted to the point he let his mind out think the reality of those who had seen the risen Lord....Peter, cursed, fought, mouthed off, quit, pouted, questioned, got naked (I'm not making it your Bible!)....on and on the story of men and women and their tragic lives of love, loss, pain, depression. The amazing thing is, virtually every one of these Bible heros faced their own failures...failures which resulted from the rains of life that turned into a flood.

I have zero tolerance for hypocritical dupes who point their proud, egotistical noses upward and act like they have never seen a day of drizzle in their lives. Failure is part and parcel to the human frame! If we were perfect, we wouldn't need a Savior! But we desperately need a Savior, one who will come out in the downpour (a place very uncomfortable for those with their noses in the air) and drag us, yes, even carry us to a place of safety. We all have sin. I place myself at the head of the list. But I refuse to believe I am the only one on the list. Rain doesn't just come down in my back yard. It rains on the just and the unjust. The good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly get rained on. We look in the mirror to discover poop on our faces! Hopefully you make it to the mirror before some smug 'ultra religious biggot' comes along and gladly points it out for you.

You know, the church has to be a place to invite people in out of the rain. We don't ignore the rain, nor the fact that most folks are soaked with it. We just want to help dry them off, prevent sickness and cold which hurts all the way to the bone. Yes, it rains on us all! I certainly am no stranger to it. Are you?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Saddest Story

In my job recently I interviewed a party concerning a friend who had died. It was one of the saddest stories I have ever heard. In getting information, I asked several pertinent questions. When I asked about family...this individual had none. His real parents were dead. He had no children...only an adopted dad from out of state. When I asked about his faith or a church...not only did he not have one, but I was told he hated churches and preachers. He was paranoid of everyone. A service was not planned because, in the words of the party being interviewed, "Nobody would come anyway." So a direct cremation was ordered.

The more I thought about this, the more I saw what a thief Satan is. He had virtually stolen everything valuable and meaningful to life from this man. It appeared to me that he had also stolen any joy, hope or victory over death. is a precious gift. Live it fully and do not let anything steal it from you. You can only live life with the hope of God living within your heart. Make Jesus Lord of your life. Turn from sin and begin to live. You will find hope, joy, friends and life eternal. That is what it is all about. Life really is too short to live miserable. Live it with Jesus!!

Have a blessed day in Him.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Mushroom Christians

This is the time of year when folks, myself included, look for mushrooms. The spring rain and warmer temps produce the Morel mushrooms that are excellent table fare. If you've never tried 'em, you should check it out! This last week I found some nice one's and Trish fried them up for me. Yummy!!

The thing about mushrooms is that when the conditions are just right, they pop up overnight. Almost as quickly, the mushroom season ends and they are gone. This scenario reminds me of many Christians that I have known. I'd like to think of them as 'Mushroom Christians'.

Mushroom Christians usually don't show up until conditions are just perfect to suit them. If it is a big event, or a service that involves a dinner afterward, or the weather is really nice, or, or, or.....they pop out for the occasion. But, Mushroom Christians disappear when the 'heat' is on and the conditions are unfavorable. When there is work to be done, or forgiveness to be handed out, or the weather is rainy and cold..or, or, or....they are no where to be found. "Mushroom Christianity" is weak and cannot make a real difference.

The folks who really matter to the Kingdom, are thick skinned, can bloom when conditions are unfavorable, are the same no matter whether things are perfect or horrible. These kinds of Christians don't have to be poked, stoked or provoked to be faithful month in and month out! Psalm 1 describes these Christians as trees and not mushrooms.

So much for mushrooms! They are for a short season and then they are gone. Trees stay rooted....remaining the same in the heat, cold, fair weather and through the storms of life. Lord, help us all to be trees and not meaningless mushrooms.

Be blessed.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Great Weekend Despite the Rain

Easter Sunday was really special. I was afraid it would be a downer because of all the rain. It rained like crazy all morning and basically all day. Despite the weather, so many people turned out to worship the Lord and to celebrate the resurrection.

It was so gratifying to see the church filled with people from all walks of life. There were so many guests there. I truly hope they will return again and again after getting a taste of such inspirational worship. I heard a lot of positive remarks from many people.
They were impressed by the worship, the children's program and the kindness of the people. I can't say much for the preaching...ha!

Anyway, God is soooo good! I thank Him for the progress and the destiny of NLT. 375 people may not be the largest crowd in town...yet. But it is well on its way!! We are witnessing a miracle week after week as new people are coming and being blessed by a church full of genuine people, free from religious baggage and wanting only a relationship with the Lord. All the credit and praise belongs to God for His Grace to us all.

Let me know your thoughts on Sunday's service.

Pastor T

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dead 'In' or Dead 'To'

Scripture reminds that we were dead in our former life of trespasses and sins. In this context we understand that sinners are dead to the things of God. The natural man cannot receive the things of God because it carries within itself, the death of sin. Sinners cannot hear, feel, know, understand righteousness because they are dead to these things.

The flip side of this coin is the need for a child of God to be dead, but in a different sense. Instead of being dead in our sins, we are to be dead to our sins. Part of our faith in Christ is to identify with His death by repenting of our sins and 'dying' to all the things that displease God. We are instructed to take up our own cross and follow Jesus. That means there are some things unique to you and me that will destroy us if we do not destroy them.

I have witnessed so many people who profess righteousness, but obviously have not died to sin. They wear their righteous robes, as it were, but they also wear their gossiping tongue, their desire for revenge, their perpetual hatred none of which has been crucified with Christ. No amount of religious rhetoric is a substitute for actual life in Christ. Religion is a poor substitute for relationship. It really a matter of life and death.

This Easter, as we celebrate the life of Jesus, let me encourage you to become dead to the things of sin, and become totally alive to the things of God. At the end of the day we are either alive to God or... to ourselves and to sin. Let this resurrection be to Godliness, righteousness and true purity. What makes you active mentally, emotionally and spiritually? The answer to this may help you comprehend what makes you live. Your stimuli is a clue to whether or not you are alive and/or dead to the right things or not. Happy Easter.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Crucifixion Precedes Easter

The story of Easter is so thrilling. To think our Lord Jesus came back from the grip of death to proclaim eternal life forever more!
Before we celebrate Easter, we must look death in the face. Not just any death either. The death of Jesus was perhaps the most gruesome death know to man.

Crucifixion was a death by torture. Being stretched out on a rugged tree and nailed to it by your hands and feet is heinous at least. Such was the death of my Saviour. It was not the nails that killed our Lord, but He was asphixiated. He had to lift Himself on his feet to be able to breath. When He hung by His hands, the weight of His body would not allow Him to inhale. Slowly the carbon dioxide builds up in the blood stream.

At last a soldier came by and punctured the fluid sac that surrounds the heart. The Bible records that from that wound came forth blood and water. Such was the price of my salvation. The Lamb of God became the perfect remedy for sin. What a horrible death the Son of God submitted to in order to purchase those who would come to Him through faith.

Jesus, I thank you for your death. It was the ultimate ingredient for my salvation. Before their can be a resurrection, we must first go by the cross and remember the death of our Lord. Take some time to think about it, and to thank God for the plan of salvation. Jesus was willing to endure such hardship because He loves you so much. His blood took away all our sins!

God bless,


Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Basketball Days

Last week I did something I didn't think I would be doing at my age. I bought a brand new pair of Nike basketball shoes. The reason I bought them is because I have been playing in a church basketball league this winter. We will be wrapping up our season soon, but I have been having a blast with the guys who allowed the 'old guy' to play with them.

All my life I have loved basketball. I didn't play in high school because it was an 'evil, worldly, amusement'. I found it interesting that although my religion didn't allow us to play in school, it was fine to play on the playground, at youth camp, in the park, etc etc. So I took full advantage and played every chance I had. My dad bought a goal for me and put it at the end of a small patio in our backyard. He and my mother will never know how much fun I had and I owe them a lot of thanks. That little patio became 'barnhill arena' and I was the 'razorback team'. I mean in my mind I could be Sidney Moncrief, Marvin Delph, and Ron Brewer all at the same time. It was fun.

When I went to college, I played all the time. I was in top shape and often we ran eight to ten straight games of full court ball. I could jump and shoot back then. At 5' 11" I could dunk a volleyball and could dunk a basketball if someone 'ooped' it to me. Throughout my life I have enjoyed getting to play in various venues, with all types of people.

I cannot tell you how many pair of tennis shoes I have gone through. Let's just say many! I have always wondered when I would buy that last pair and when my playing days would be over. Having gone through a knee surgery and an ankle reconstruction, I figured it would have been before now. But guess what? I am blessed to still be playing.

My team-mates are great guys too. I owe them alot of thanks for letting me get out there with them and act like a teenager again. Let me introduce you to them....they are...Marvelous Matt Markle, Bradley Hangtime Hampton, Mitch MJ Hubbard, Mean Michael Garr, Alan Git-er-done Anderson, Billy Bad-boy Anderson, Allen 'Big Al', Josh Napster Napier, Jonathan Johnnnnny Branson,Tyrell Tatoo Shelly and yours truly. We have had a great time this season playing for NLT. Our record is about 500...meaning we have won as many as we lost. Considering this being our first go around, I think we did fine. There are some really good teams out there. I think on a good night we are capable of beating any of them.

This past week, with two of our guys out, we took on a good team. I felt good and even made about 13 points in the game. I think it must have been the shoes, or the fact that Trish was there to root for me. Anyway, when I took those new shoes off that night, I was grateful to still be having fun, and getting some exercise on the court. I don't know when I will unlace them for the last time, but for now, there is no end in sight. With a little luck, I'll buy a new pair next year when these are worn out.

I hope all my teammates know I appreciate being with them and I think they are all wonderful men. Good luck in the tourney guys.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

In Memory of a Dear Brother...Donald Rose

Just a while ago I received word that a dear friend and brother in Christ had passed away. His name is Donald Rose. Don was in his eighty's and was quite vigorous until a year or more ago. When I think of Don many things come to mind I'd like to share with you.

Don was first and foremost a Christian. He was as devout a follower of the Lord as anyone you could imagine. He served, he gave, he cared and he was faithful to his local church when I was his pastor.

Don was a giver. He and his late wife, Irene, decided to give the proceeds of their mobile home and small acreage to start the building fund for the New Life. Their picture hangs in our church as a reminder of their generosity. The sum total was around $15,000 and was a great way to kick things off for us. Today, there is a thriving church there partially because of their love for the work of the Lord and their generosity.

Don was patriotic. He served in the United States Army and was awarded a purple heart. He was active in the American Legion and his vehicle was always decorated with flags, emblems etc. You didn't have to wonder if he was a veteran. He loved to tell stories of the war and of his time as a chef. He loved to use his skills at men's breakfasts...I think it reminded him of his old army days.

Don loved to laugh. He was always the happiest when he was at church. His favorite song was, "I'm glad I know who Jesus is...He is more than just a story, He is the King of Glory, I'm glad I know who Jesus is." He would wave his hand and sing with all of his heart.

Don was involved in the tape/video ministry. He had a room set aside in his home for the sole purpose of duplicating sermons and Bill Gaither videos. (Hope Bill don't find out!!!) He would send those sermons to young men in the military every week. There is no telling how much 'preaching' Don has done vicariously. He really loved to listen to good gospel singing and preaching.

When his darling wife died, Don was really lost for a while. I would visit him and try to cheer him up. Many are the times my dad and I would visit Don in the hospital. He had so much trouble with his intestines and then when his knee was replaced, it never was right. But Don kept on going. As soon as he could, he would be back at church. You could always find Don's Bible near his chair. He would read and study it faithfully. No doubt he and the Lord were best of friends.

Today his race is ended. He is in the presence of God and it is 'church' for eternity for him. There will be no more pain, no more tears, no more hospitals, no more separation from his beloved Irene. I celebrate with you old friend. I love you and miss you already.

I look forward to sharing heaven with you someday. Rest in peace.

Tim Estes

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sometimes it Snows in March...Plan Accordingly

One thing for sure in life is, that nothing is for sure! Just when you think you have it all planned out, it snows in March, or June or September. To witness this amazing 'spring' snow is a reminder of the certainty of uncertainty. To see the redbuds in brilliant purple against a backdrop of white is gorgeous. To see yellow daphodiles surrounded by frost is a paradox of nature.

In life there are moments when you experience the best and the worst simultaneously. Like the man whose mother-in-law drove his new cadillac over the cliff. That is what you call bitter-sweet. Truly, as in the book entitled 'A Tale of Two Cities', you can have....the best of times and the worst of times.

Often difficulty brings out the best and worst in people. Difficulty causes some people to break, others to break records. Your true colors will show brilliantly against the backdrop of pain. Some in trials turn bitter, others turn golden. In reality it is the trials that reveal what is inside us. If we are full of grace and love, it will come spilling out. If we are full of bitterness and hellish idea's...they will be exposed as well. The same experience will make one bitter and makes the other better.

One would do well to plan for snow showers in March. While it is rare, some of the biggest snowfalls I have witness have occurred during this glorious month of bloom. Just the other day I was in Lowes and actually contemplated buying tomato plants. However, knowing the possibilities, I refrained and boy am I glad. Sometimes it snows in March...plan according. Sometimes your very best plans may not come to fruition...plan accordingly. Whether it rains, hails, snows or the sun shines bright, we know the Lord is in control of it all. Therein we place our hope and trust.

May you have a blessed day and enjoy the snow!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Break

I dearly love this time of year. The earth comes alive, the flowers begin to bloom and the trees, broken by the ice of winter, start their healing. Here, a little niche is carved into the school year and a week is set aside for families to enjoy the warmer air and have a little time together.

Most of you know that I love to fish. My father instilled this in me. It was about his time of year when he checked me out of school one day and we headed to Tenkiller Lake. Before the day was over we had 91 white bass in the boat! It is a vivid memory that is remembered with a great deal of fondness.

Today we leave for a get-a-way with two boats in tow. It is Spring Break and we are planning to have some fun at the lake. The forecast of rain today will not dampen our spirits as we plan to spend a chunk of the day in the cabin, playing games and, as my son puts it,...just chillin'.

When we return I hope we have had lots of laughs, slept late a day or two and caught some nice fish!! That's the break for us. Tell me what is happening in your world for Spring Break. I hope its a good one.

God Bless Ya!!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today is the Day!!

Today is 'the' day! "What day?" you might ask. The tax deadline is still a month away. The white-bass run up the White River is still a few weeks away. March Madness has already begun! But none of these can hold a candle to this day.

Let me share with you a little about this day. I got up before daylight this morning and watched the darkness give way to the pristine beauty of a spring morn. It was glorious! The birds were singing, the sun is bright and God is still ruling the universe. The real beauty of this day, is the same that is beautiful about everyday. Sadly, we often miss the beauty that is beneath the surface when the days are dreary and cold. God's beauty is available in the birth of every single day, no matter the weather.

Today is the day! The day to know God better by speaking with Him often throughout this day. Today is the day to tell someone you love them, or compliment someone in such a way that you make them feel better. Today is the day to let go of old grudges that have kept you down. Today is the day to believe that you are on a journey toward great things. Today is another step and you will use this day as the opportunity to either get better or worse, so use it for good. Today, you can make a difference with your words, your smile, your testimony. Today is the day to forgive the hurts others may have caused you in the past. Today is the day to look a golden future in the eye and say, "I am on my way!" Today is the day like no other and its uniqueness should be reason enough to rise up and claim this 24 hours for the good of your fellowman and the glory of God!

So, I challenge you to live this day...I mean really live it! Enjoy the company of people with whom you work. See them as God's gift to you and treat them with more respect than usual. Live man! Lady, do not let the mundane of life steal the gift of this incredible day! Enjoy the breeze, the sun, the birds, the coffee, your it as though it was your 'last supper'. Know that God wants you to enjoy this day with Him. His mercy is new each morning!

Since I am trying to live this day to the fullest, let me thank all of you who read the blog and tell each one of you how much I love you and thank God you are in my life and on this incredible journey with me. You are invaluable to the Kingdom work! Focus on your assets and not your liabilities! Believe that God has created you for this specific time, to work with this specific group of people. Let's work together toward a goal of being faithful and reaping many people before Jesus returns.

Have a great...'This' Day!

Pastor T

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Casting and Catching a Vision

Effective leaders must have the abilities to both have a vision, and then effectively communicate that vision to his/her followers. In a business the results depend exclusively upon the ability to promote a product. In the work of the church, success depends upon motivation of people, the most fickle commodity in the world.

Several of our youth team went to James River Assembly and came back fired up. The reason? They had captured the possibilities by seeing first hand what can be. I thank God for that! I have the vision God has given me stored up in my heart. I realize that God has not allowed us to build yet because we would have built too small. But over time, when it is time to build, we will have a better perspective on the size.

I believe God will help us build a church that will serve our community and serve as a doorway for many to find Christ. I am grateful for the Brad and the youth team who were able to expand their view of what can be. James River is a church that went from 90 people to serving 9000 people in an 18 year period of time. This is the kind of thing God has dealt with me about for a long time. I know in my heart we can build the kind of ministries that will reach many people with God's saving grace.

Let's work together....remain prayerful....remain one the right thing all the time... and watch what God will do through us.

I hope each of you, the readers, have a wonderful week. If you were one of those who went to James River, then let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ya Gotta Take a Side

Watching a boxing match just is no fun unless you are rooting for someone. The same is true for any sports, football, basketball, soccer, etc. I don't just watch a match or a game in the neutral position, I take sides.

Just this morning, while spending some time with my mother, I watched a couple of big brutes enter the ring. It was something like...."In the Red Corner, Gregory 'great gobstopper pack-a-whop' Dowsinski, fighting against Jeffery 'lightning knuckles, turftoe' Jackson from the Blue Corner." Man, it doesn't take me very long to pick a side, despite the fact that I have never heard of either one. I mean I have mere seconds to decide and it is usually based on which color shorts I like the best, or which one looks like the underdog, or if he has a Christian symbol on his robe, or if he looks the other guy in the eye while the ref gives instructions. You get the point. I mean, I am ready to root this 'pack-a-whop' dude through to victory and have a grand celebration because....I like his tatoo and mostly because....well, I need to root for someone.

If you have any gusto in you, you should root for folks. It appears Jesus did. In fact Christ told one of His own men, who was in the fight of his life, "I have prayed for you!" Jesus rooted for the underdog. He told the woman that was about to get her brains smashed out by law-loving-legalists, "Go, and sin no more!" It's really cool when God says "Go!" It's really cool when He says it several times in, "Go, Go, Go!" and then follows up with "Great Job!"

As Christians we should be ready to take a side. I don't mean in a church squabble or in personal conflicts with others or merely at the annual volleyball game. I mean we must be ready to root for the sinner finding his/her way to God. To help the single mom who wants so desperately to raise her kids right, but barely has the money to survive. We must chant for the couple who goes through marital troubles, but get the help they need to thrive again. A hallelujah cheer should immediately rise from our hearts and voices when a prodical comes home! These are things for which we should root and cheer.

I think we often spend too much time in neutral. It is easy to sit back and criticize or analyze or any other 'ize' you want to talk about, without getting involved. Time is running out, pick a side! Joshua told his followers, "Choose you this day whom you will for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." I am standing in the corner of those who want salvation, who want love, who want redemption and restoration, and those who can get back up when some situation in life has given them a slobber- knocker!

You will find me yelling at the TV for old, 'what his name' just because I want him to win. Hope you have chosen to support the right things with your life, time, energy and money.

God bless all the Dowsinski's,


Monday, March 9, 2009

Singing with Russ

Hey all,

The Russ Taff Concert was wonderful! I have had so many great comments from guests who visited. I just read one who said, "We felt a sweet presence of the Lord in the concert and with the praise band." I was living it up!

Meeting Russ was an extreme pleasure for me since I have followed his music most of my life. Hearing him do some of his old stuff from the Imperials days was extra special.

We hung out together for two days, along with Pastor Scott Jones. He is great to be around. His genuineness is a great change from the prideful stardom many in his ranks possess. He is very humble and understands brokenness.

On Sunday I sang a song with him while he played the guitar. It was a moment I will never forget! Hopefully I can get a picture of it on the blog. What a day, what a great weekend. Our church family honored Trish and I with a nice reception. I am humbled to be pastor of such great people.

Thank you all for allowing Trish and I such a blessing. We love each one of you.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bad, Good-Fortune

My friend told me about a fishing trip where they were not doing too well. Sounds like some I've been on! Well he threw his line out and it got all tangled up, in what real fishermen call a 'backlash'. The line requires some intensive work in order to be able to get it freed up again.

While he was working on his line, his boat started drifting out. It drifted and drifted until, by the time he got his line fixed, he was quite a ways away from the shore where they were fishing. At that moment a nice bass bit his bait and he reeled it in. My friend realized at that moment the fish were further from the shore than he though previously. His bad luck on his reel, had in actuality been good luck that had drifted him to where the fish were biting.

Life is like that sometimes. The things we see as misfortune may be God's way of leading us to a more productive place. I have learned that difficulty is only opportunity in disguise. I love the quote that says, "Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records."

I pray that you will discover the problem area's you are encountering now will only drift you into a wonderful position of good success. May God bless you this day. Don't curse your difficulty, it may be helping you develop muscles that will cause you to soar above the place you are now.


Pastor T

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cardinal's Call

Each morning there are guests at my home. They arrive daily right at daylight. I welcome them each morning and never grow weary of their company. These feathered guests are my cardinals that we feed daily. It is not uncommon to have 30 or more of them flitting about and singing their God--given song. I love cardinals. Their color, their distinct features and sounds set them apart from all other birds.

God sends them and I gladly feed them. It is part of my communication with God each day. I know that sounds funny perhaps, but God and nature are not distant in their relationship. To be involved in the creation is to be attached to the Creator. For me, interacting with these birds is one of the simple privileges of life.

From their daily flight to my door I learn faithfulness. From their need of my gift of grain, I learn dependency. From their song during bad weather, I learn the importance of worship. These lessons and many more I have learned, as these crimson colored fowl decorate my backyard and back porch day after day.

The final glimpses of the sun are about to disappear this cold evening, the first day of March 2009. But I know in the morning when I awaken, the cardinals will call and I will once again be greeted by these majestic lessons of life, born on the wings of Gods special creations.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Worn Moccasins

The natives had a saying concerning the judgment of others. "Don't judge a man until you walk a mile in his moccasins." Each of us are where we are in our experience and belief system because of the influence of life and the teaching of others, either in person or through books, etc. Since we each walk a different road and meet up with different people then it stands to reason that each of us will be uniquely different in some ways.

When you encounter someone with a different viewpoint than you possess, the reason for it goes back to the aforementioned. Perhaps you run into someone who is beaten down and has trouble standing against temptation. It is likely they didn't have a strong role model in their lives. Before you make fun of a homosexual, realize that most of them...the vast majority of them...didn't have a father active in their home life as a child. Many of them were sexually molested as a child. While this does not excuse their behavior, we must realize our hyper-criticism doesn't help things either. It is known that as much as 80% of young men in prison had little or no significant relationship with their fathers.

Differences of religion primarily point at one's early teaching. Regardless of whether you are Christian, Hindu, or are whatever you are because of your life's influences. For me, one of the most difficult things I have ever done was to attempt to study the Bible without religious bias. I am still working on it. I believe the Bible because it has proven itself over and over again in a miraculous fashion. I follow the mainstream understanding of the Bible because there is safety in a multitude of counsel and because correct contextual criticism will lead you to a simple understanding.

However, when I walk a mile in other religious folks 'moccasins' I can understand where they are coming from even if they are incorrect or if my understanding doesn't agree with theirs. Many religions operate out of a fear based mentality. "If you don't do as I are going to hell." If that doesn't get your attention nothing will. While there certainly is a hell to shun, I am very wary of religious groups who use hell as the main motive for keeping folks straight. I love the scripture that says, "It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance."

I feel that we would get much more done in the Kingdom if we first try to understand where people are coming from before we simply rush in and judge them. If you have a friend you'd like to win to Christ, the last thing you need to do is jump on them about their 'filthy sins' although their sins may be truly filthy. If you haven't been hooked on drugs, then you do not know what it is like to have to beat that addiction. If you have never been addicted to porn, it is easy to judge someone who is. If you have never tried to beat depression, then maybe a few months beneath its cloud would help you understand others who have been under it for years.

The last thing is, do not judge on hear-say. First, most of what you hear is inaccurate. By the time a story passes through three people it is likely loses 50% of its truth. Exaggeration, errant hearing, and other factors contribute to this. Second, there are always two sides to every story. Unless you are willing to hear the whole story, you have no right to repeat any of it! To do so is to speak before walking in the other guys shoes.

So, I urge you to slip on the worn moccasins of your friends before you shoot them between the eyes. Come to think of it, you and I have moccasins of our own that we'd appreciate others 'trying on' before they judge us.

Have a great day and see through the eyes of other people.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reading is 'Sit-Ups' for the Mind

Recently I was in my parents home and noticed that there is always a stack of books that are being read by my folks. Although they are getting older, they continue to enjoy reading. I wish more folks loved to read.

Reading stimulates the mind. With books you can relax, take a trip, get an education, or glide along the story line of a mystery...and all without leaving your chair! Abraham Lincoln was mostly self educated and he did so by reading everything he could get his hands on.

In our computerized world, we get little blips of information. 'Snippet form' communication is the way of doing business these days. Personally I think some disciplines are being lost when we lose the ability to devote time to in-depth reading. Let me challenge you to read more. It will require turning off the mind-numbing TV and engaging your brain.

Right now I am reading "When a Man's a Man" by Harold Bell Wight, "Studies in Galatians" by M.R. Deehan, and I am personally studying through the book of 1 Corinthians with our church family.

Write in and let me know what you are personally reading. Tell us if you recommend it or not.

Thanks and happy reading.