Monthly Archives: January 2008

Prayers for Trent

Sometimes we have to make decisions after naming the name of Jesus and beginning to follow Him that we don’t like to make based on our former life.  Being in Christ doesn’t always mean that the consequences of our “old selves” will just go away.  If you read this blog much, you remember blog before last “Wet Hugs.”  It was about my cousin and new brother in Christ, Trent.

Without giving any details, I’m asking you to pray for our new brother.  He has to make a decision tomorrow to do the right thing that will cause events to take place that people who don’t know the situation might misunderstand.  Nevertheless, he must do the “next right thing.”

I am very proud of Trent.  God may be calling him to put himself in a peculiar situation in order to glorify Him.  I have challenged Trent to be God’s man no matter what happens.  It could be a temptation from Satan to move away from Jesus.  Trent tells me that Satan will not win this battle. 

I pray that Trent be delivered from any further consequences, but if He doesn’t choose this in His will, I pray God protect Trent.  Just please pray for him.  I know you all will. 


New Beginnings At Creekside

Life is filled with new beginnings.  My last post about Trent is a story of new beginnings.  By the way, thanks for all of your responses on that post.  It really was encouraging.

We have been at Creekside for more than five years now and in so many ways it seems like we are just beginning.  I guess there are many reasons for that.  One of those reasons being the growth that has had to take place in me and Ellen in order for us to work in an environment of grace and mercy as opposed to rules oriented religion.  Another of those reasons I think is the work of building relationships.  I began my teaching and preaching at Creekside thinking that is was all about my charisma and my abilities.  I now know that ministry is centered in building long lasting relationships both from within the church family and in the community that surrounds it.

Learning this whole idea of journey has really helped me to see that new beginnings can happen over and over again.  That’s why I’m excited to tell you that Creekside has just stepped out on faith and brought on board the staff a couple to work with our teens.  It has been an interesting story.  Jason and Erica are two wonderful people who sought us out after dealing with a very difficult situation in a local church.  God has prepared them through hardship to come and work with us in an environment of freedom and love.  They began their journey with us last Sunday morning.  They have three wonderful little children–Bayli(8), Gage(4), and Rylee(7 mos.) (I’m not sure on any of those spellings).  They are kingdom minded and want to encourage our teens to be as well. 

Our church family is about as excited as I have seen them.  It is a wonderful time to be at Creekside.   I know that Satan is plotting right now to see how he can disrupt our ministry for Jesus.  Please pray for this new beginning.  We are ready for the kingdom of Christ to come into our community.  Pray for our shepherds as we grow that we continue to pursue Christ in all that we do.  They are wonderful leaders and are led by the Holy Spirit of God.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for us. 

Wet Hugs!!

trents-baptism-6.jpgWhat a day it was last Tuesday night!!  I got a phone call from my cousin Trent.  That’s not unusual any more, but this call was to let me know that he wanted to be baptized.

This whole story started last summer when I saw Trent walking down the street here in Florence.  He had chosen the hard road for his life for a long time and was again living in the streets.  He was one of the best con artists around.  He once told me that he could get some money from just about anyone at anytime.  Life was all about Trent.  It was a feel-sorry-for-myself lifestyle.

There were several occasions when we would help him out.  We would give him something to do to make a few dollars.  That day I saw him on the streets, we picked him up and let him help me move some tables at church for $20.00.  He seemed very grateful.  I simply told him that we loved him and any time he wanted to get his life straight to just let me know.

Gradually he started showing up more.  And at our carnival last September he came and helped all day long.  People at Creekside started doing what they do best–loving on him.  They are genuine in that.  It’s not just a game to play to get a “prospect” interested in “coming to church.”  There is a realness to the love you feel in our church family.  With all of our faults, that is one thing you can count on.

Trent began to come the the services of the church.  He then began coming to the fellowship activities–then to Bible class.  He began to feel the love of Jesus in his heart.  He got a steady job and began saving money.  He would give his check to his mom so that he could save for Christmas.  This past Christmas he was able to give gifts to his children for the first time in two years.  He told me, “The last two years have been about poor poor pitiful Trent.  This year’s gonna be different.”  And it was!  His only fault was spending too much of what he had saved on Christmas.  I couldn’t stop him though.  It was a beautiful thing to see him growing in the love of giving–something he had not been able to do for years.

Trent’s journey is continuing.  After receiving the love of Jesus into his life, he decided that he needed to be baptized.  The call was wonderful to receive.  We met at the building on a cold night.  Thank God the water was warm.  He said, “I’d go to the creek if I had to.  I just know this is something I need to do to be complete.”  The picture you see above is one that I get the privilege of be a part of in many people’s lives.  I love to get we hugs.  Almost always people say, “I’m sorry to get you wet.”  I reply, “It’s the best wet hugs ever.” 

Trent has a dream to help us start a soup kitchen for the homeless and less fortunate in our area.  He said, “I know what it’s like to be on the streets.  I know what it’s like to be hungry and alone.”  He told me that he wanted to give back. He said, “I’ve taken for so long.  I want to give back now.”  I am so excited about God’s plans for Trent.  I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for him.  Please pray for him as Satan will be after him even more now.  God is awesome!!

Grandmother’s Funeral Service

Thanks so much to all of you, my blog family.  Your thoughts are worth so much to me.  To know that there are people out there like you guys who offer prayers and support for me and my family is a blessing that is almost indescribable.

The funeral services went so well for my grandmother.  It started with some wonderful singers.  Randy, Mechele, Mitch, and Laura have sung at my dad’s funeral and now my grandmother’s.  They are great singers and musicians that I have had the privilege to play music with for many years now.  Their harmonies are just awesome!  Their friendship is invaluable.

Randall, my cousin, is not a public speaker normally, but you couldn’t tell it yesterday.  He was confident and was able to hold his composure so well.  I told him that I was proud of him and that grandmother would have been too.  He told a story that I had never heard about my grandmother.  It was a private conversations they had together one day.  He told about her desire to go and be with Jesus and that she had told him so one day.  After he left the nursing home, he put in a new cassette tape.  Something was unusual about this tape.  When he broke the seal on the plastic wrapping, the tape had not be rewound to the beginning at the factory, but was strangely in the middle of the tape.  He put the tape in and the song that began to play (though I don’t remember the title) was a song about going home to be with Jesus.  He said he became so emotional that he had to pull over to the side of the road.  He made the point that even in grandmother’s very sick state, she reminded him that day of how important it was to desire to see Jesus.  What a wonderful moment for him and now for us.

I talked about lots of things in my part of the funeral.  I talked about her cooking, her gardening, her friendships with the people at Woodlawn church.  I spoke memories that I had as a child.  One thing that God put on my heart was grace.  Many people came up to me and made the statement, “If Omie (that’s my grandmother’s name) don’t make it to heaven, the rest of us might as well quit.”  Some would say things like, “She was such a wonderful person, there’s no doubt where she is.”  I think she was a wonderful person too and I know they were being nice about her, but I wanted make the point that being a wonderful person is not the reason I have hope about my grandmother.  I explained to the audience that our ability to do good has nothing to do with our salvation.  It’s all the grace of God.  The grace of God compels us to do good, but God gets the glory for my salvation and I really have nothing but faith and trust in Him to take care of that for me.

My grandmother was not perfect at all, but to me she was a woman of strength, faith, and unbelievable tenacity and courage.  We will miss her, but we have confidence in Christ’s blood enough to know that we will be with her again.  That’s what makes me smile today.

I love you all.

Home At Last

Yesterday morning, January 11, my grandmother died at the age of 88.  I appreciate so much all of the nice things people have said, both in this blog and to us personally.

My memories of my grandmother are all good.  I don’t remember a time when she ever raised her voice at me.  I never remember a time when she made me feel unimportant or insignificant.  She was proud of my becoming a preacher and introduced me to everyone as her preacher grandson.

My earliest remembrances of her go way back.  I was the oldest of seven grandchildren.  I remember her giving me syrup and butter.  I remember dinners at her house.  I remember riding horses in the little pasture next to her house and in horse shows as a child.  I remember many singings, gospel meetings, and homecoming services at Centerhill Church of Christ, back in the day when people would show up in the hundreds to hear good singing and good preaching. 

I remember my grandmother as a strong independent woman.  She outlived two husbands.  She lived through WWII and the Depression.  She has seen our country go from horseback to flying jet planes to walking on the moon. 

She was a part of the women’s ministries at Woodlawn Church of Christ.  She would drive her friends back and forth to church events and activities.  She spent time visiting people in the hospital and nursing homes until she became  a patient herself.  Even many of her friends are there or have gone on to be with the Lord.

I will miss my grandmother.  She was a wonderful person.  Greg and I had a conversation once just before his mother’s funeral service.  We talked aout the afterlife and the many different versions that people have about what happens.  I would love to know more about what happens exactly, but I’ll have to be like the rest of us and wait to see it for myself.  I have come to believe that no matter what is going to happen exactly, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus will be there, God will be there, and the Holy Spirit will be there.  And no matter what happens exactly, I know that it will beat the daylights out of this place of pain and sorrow.

Thanks again for all of your prayers and concerns.

January: The Month To Go Home

Two years and two days ago was a very tragic time in our lives.  It was the day I watched my dad take his last very hard breath on this earth.  Two years ago today we buried him.  It was hard to let him go, but he was hurting so much and literally fighting for every breath.  So, like Paul said, we “do not sorry as those who have no hope.”  We are confident in Jesus, whom my dad loved, to save him and that someway we will be reunited at home with him again someday.

Last night my mom called and told us that my grandmother looked as though she was trying to die on us.  She is in the nursing home and is 88 years young.  She is a tough bird, that’s for sure.  This morning she is still breathing, but that’s about it.  We will be going back to the home today.  She to is in Christ.  We are just waiting for her to go one to be with the Lord and in the place of her fathers and mine.

Whatever all of that means, to me it means this–that January is a month to go home.  My father, my grandfather, and now my grandmother.  Leaving this world, according to the Word, is a blessing for those saved by the blood of the Lamb.  It is a homecoming or as some say, a “home-going.”  It is a time that we all shall travel through one day unless Jesus comes first.  It is something that should be longed for by those of us who profess Jesus name. 

By the time some of you read this she probably will be gone, but who knows.  Just pray that if she is not that the angels will come and carry her away.  She needs to be at peace at home with the Lord.  God bless you all.

Danielle’s Strength

In our particular school system we have in place an exit exam for all of our students called the graduation exam.  A student can pass all of her core classes and fail any one part of this exam and not graduate.  They must pass the Math, English, Science, Reading, and History portions of the test.  They begin taking this exam at the beginning of their sophomore year.  Danielle had passed all but the History portion of her test and last November took it with only two more chances to pass it.  We learned yesterday that she did not pass the test.

For some reason, and we think it is due to her seizures in some way (and so does her doctor), Danielle has had a problem testing using the scan-tron testing method for the past couple of years.  This is the method for this particular exam and it can’t be changed.  She barely passed her Science portion of the test due to this.  Now she has had to make a very tough choice.  Stay in school this semester, take the grad exam once more, and try to pass or withdraw and home-school for this semester and graduate through Creekside Academy (a home-school covering at our church).  Home-school does not require an exit exam.

Though the test is offered once more for her, Danielle has decided to withdraw and finish through homeschool.  Please pray for her and this decision.  It has taken some of the pressure off as far as the exam is concerned, however, she is worried about not walking across the stage in May with all of her friends whom she has gone to school with all of her life.  In ten years that may not matter, but for now, it’s a tough choice for her.

Danielle is strong.  She will survive this and go on to get her diploma.  She can still go to college if she wants.  She will even have an experience that most students don’t.  Her dad will get to present her with her diploma. 

We are trying to look at the blessings of this and she is much stronger about it than her mom and dad.  Please pray for her and us.