Monthly Archives: February 2008

Our Dog Spike

spike.jpgThe answer was always “No” when my wife asked for another dog.  I would tell her, “We have an outside dog, we don’t need one inside.”  I wasn’t just trying to be cruel or show a macho attitude.  I just remember what it was like losing the last inside dog we had and didn’t want to go through that again.

Well, a year ago this past Christmas I broke down and went to the pound and brought home a shy little puppy.  I put him in a box and gave him to my wife for Christmas.  He has been a joy ever since.  He’s no longer a quiet little thing, but has turned into a joyful little companion for the whole family.

july-4-2007-002.jpgI received an email recently that I thought summed up what Spike has meant to our family and taught me a great deal about how animals (dogs in particular) can bring us joy.  It’s called “A Dogs Purpose.”  I’m only going to share the “lessons learned from dogs” portion of the email.  I hope you enjoy these.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.

Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle
them gently.


Abundant Life Lesson

Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full!”   That particular verse rings loud in the memories I have as a student at International Bible College.  This is particularly true because of a fellow-student named Earl who was a good friend during his short stay at IBC.  He pointed out this verse to me and to this day I think it was he first verse I’d learned that taught me about the love of God and the grace He’s given us through His Son. 

During those years the campaigns we went on were some of the best memories of my time there.  We took a week out of each semester to go to some other city in the US and knock doors and teach the gospel.  We all struggled with the best “method” of teaching people how to be saved.  There were Jim Massey’s “Departures” lessons.  Many of us used them.  There was the “Open Bible” series.  There were lots more tools that were wonderful for young Christians to use to teach the gospel message.

Earl believed that the best way to teach someone was to simply open the Bible and begin teaching straight from the scriptures.  This was a really tough one for me.  My working knowledge of the Bible was not very good at the time.  Earl taught me a trick to use my Bible that would eventually help me use it much easier.  I would begin at John 10:10 and place the next passage I wanted to go to in the margin next to that verse and repeat the process until I was done.  It was a real blessing.

Earl left the school after that campaign we went on.  He was in an extremely conservative part of our fellowship and just could not handle some of the views held by many of our instructors.  I remember the day he got up and announced his leaving.  I cried because he had helped me so much.

Isn’t it interesting how God can take a person with such views and teach a young preacher about grace.  I will always remember Earl as a man who taught me to begin my teachings to those who don’t know Jesus with the concept of “life.”  Having life to the full is what most people say they desire.  There is no better life than the life we find in Jesus–the abundant life!

I wonder where Earl is now.  I’ve tried to locate him through the school’s data banks and they have the wrong address for him.  I would like to find him and thank him for helping me be able to share the good news of Jesus and the life He gives all who call on His name.

Winterfest Was Wonderful

Our students at Creekside, along with about 12,000 other people, now have the theme, “Know, Be, See, and Share Jesus” firmly planted in their head.  Jeff made, as he usually does, the points of the weekend come alive and placed them into our hearts in a way that makes us want to go out and conquer the world for God!  That’s the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through him.

I had an event happen in my life this weekend that I’ve never had happen in my 20 plus years of ministry.  I baptized one of our teens into Jesus Christ in a bathtub!  After the Saturday night events at Winterfest she came to us telling us that she had never been saved and that she wanted to be.  We came back to the condo and for a little while let her tell her story.  It was awesome.  Her story certainly lined up with what the message was about that day.  God’s Holy Spirit once again.  We can’t orchestrate those kinds of things!  We are not wise enough in most cases to place people in a place where they hear the right message at the right time.  Thank you God for that time in Sara’s life and allowing us to just be a part of it.

This weekend has helped me focus more on the opportunities God is giving us on a daily bases.  We must be willing to let God work through every person we see.  I have tended to categorize people–you know, stereo-typing.  I see a person who may look a certain way I don’t like and I judge them.  They may be a different color, from a different part of the world or country.  They may just dress funny, walk funny, or talk funny.  Many times I have caught myself being prejudice.  For example, I look at gay people and think, “Gross!” or worse I think of them as a separate category of lost people, when in essence, they are lost the same way I’m lost–SIN!

This weekend has helped me look at people and see Jesus.  When I look at a homeless guy, I see Jesus.  When I look at a person who smokes, I see Jesus.  When I look at a person who is addicted to gambling, I see Jesus. When I see a divorced person, I see Jesus.  How can this help?  It helps me treat them differently.  It doesn’t mean I ignore the sin and sweep it under the rug.  It just means that I deal with them where they are and treat them like somebody in order to have that opportunity to be God’s conduit so that He can use me to lift them out of the muck of life.  People did that for me.  I still have to be gotten out of it lots of times.

I really enjoyed this weekend.  I pray that God starts a mighty revival in the hearts of our people–one that will see His people rise up and be counted in our world as people who are a compassionate, caring, and  loving people with a message of eternal life!

I saw both of my kids who are in high school leave this morning and carry their Winterfest mission Bibles with them.  I pray for them as they do that they will have the wisdom and ability to share when called upon to do so!  I just got a text from one of our students who said, “I did it, I’ve already shared Jesus with five people!”  How awesome is that?!!!

Side Note:  It was really great to get to see you Cecil, my blog friend.  For those of you who haven’t seen Cecil, he’s not half the man he used to be!  He looks ten years younger with all the weight loss.  Keep it up brother.  We hope so much to come to Cocoa this summer.

Winterfest Blog

Today I blog from the balcony of the Gatlinburg Chateau.  I would post a picture, but I forgot the cord I need to offload pictures from my camera.  Oh well!  The temperature is 47 degrees headed toward a high of 60!  That’s warmer than back home south of here.

The session last night was really awesome!  Jeff Walling was in his usual rare form.  What a communicator!  God has really anointed him with the gift of speaking.  What a blessing and praise God for it!!  The session last night was about “Knowing Christ.”  He used all kinds of media-speaking, drama, music, singing, video clips, and more.  They really made the whole night a seamless time dedicated to knowing Jesus and glorifying God. 

We came back to the condo for devotional.  Jason led us in a wonderful devo together.  The kids in our group shared very openly about the night and their walks with God.  It was great!

I hope to be able to give you a report again tonight.  The signal is very limited here for the Internet.  I’ve had to come outside to the corner of the balcony to do this.  So, I hope to give some more info later. 

One other thing–I talked to Cecil last night on the phone and he and Steven are due to arrive today around noon.  I pray for their safety and I look forward to seeing them.

God bless you you my blog family.

Class Rings and Tears

Today my father-in-law came over with a book that had pictures of class rings in it.  Purchasing my children’s class rings is something that he has decided to do.  What a gift that is to them and to us and we are truly grateful.  He bought Tabitha’s a few years ago and it’s now time for Danielle to graduate.  That seems almost like a dream.   It just can’t be that she is about to be 18 years old and ready to start college.

Most of you know that Danielle is in home school now and will not be able to walk across the stage with her friends at Muscle Shoals’ graduation.  You can read about it here if you don’t know about it already.  As appreciative as we are about the home school availability, that’s going to be different and somewhat tough for her.  To make matters even more difficult, we found out a couple of days ago that the senior prom at her high school is the same night as her graduation.  Therefore, none of her friends will be able to attend her graduation.  After discussing that last night at Creekside in class with our church family, it was pointed out that with all that shes’ been through, she will be so strong in her future life.  I know that’s true, but it still hurts in a way.  She is taking the news quite well.  That shows me that she is even growing now.

Watching her look through that class ring book brought a tear to my eye.  I don’t really know why.  I think it’s a tear of pride because I’m so proud of the steps she’s making in life already.  I think part of it was a tear of pain because she has gone through so much.  Part of it could be that she is growing up and that’s really hard to watch.  Whatever the case, we are truly thankful for Danielle and the joy she has brought to our lives.  She really is an example of strength to us all.

Is It Worth It?

If you read my last blog, you know that right now I’m a little frustrated with trying to be an influence to those who still take a more legalistic view of the scriptures.  I am not angry at anyone, just frustrated. 

Finding freedom in Jesus is something one wants to share.  To be set free from the bondage of the idea of law-keeping and enjoy the motivation of grace as that which compels us toward good works is something that there isn’t enough money in the world to try and buy back. 

My question to my blog family is this.  Is there really any worth to trying to bring over those who don’t want to come to this place of freedom?  Is it really worth the effort to try and get people to understand the fact that God wants relationships and not robots?

Just when I think I want to try again, something happens and a Pharisee crops up his head.  A judgemental legalist shows up and wants to fight.  It’s so frustrating.

Now before those of you who read this blog  and are on the side of rules oriented religion and not grace tell me that I’m an arrogant liberal who thinks he knows everything, please understand that I don’t know everything.  I am not an elitist.  I really am sincerely wanting to help.  I want you to know the “whys” of where I am.  It’s too exciting to keep a secret.  However, I’m tired of trying on your turf.  I accept you just as you are.  I believe that God’s grace is sufficient for all of our mistakes.  I just feel for you so much.  I want you to live in freedom in Christ.

So here’s what I offer.  I offer you my prayers–sincere prayers that God will bless you in your ministry for Him.  I want to share this joy with you.  I am here and want to talk at any convenience.  

For all those who read this and know the freedom in Christ I’m talking about, I ask you to share in the comments about what that means to you.  How can you help in the quest that we all share to reach out and touch someone else with grace and mercy?

Struggle To Find Freedom

I’m sure that those who came over on the Mayflower wanted desperately to find freedom from oppression and have the ability to choose on their on how they would live their lives, govern themselves, and worship God.  In a very small nutshell that’s the story of the beginning of this country.  It was a striving after freedom–a very precious commodity.  Having people treat that freedom so flippantly is a slap in the face to our fore-fathers.

Paul said, (2 Corinthians 3:16-17 NCV)  “But when a person changes and follows the Lord, that covering is taken away. {17} The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  The “covering” that is taken away is the concept of salvation by keeping the law.  That’s the freedom we experience in Jesus Christ.  We no longer are kept “jailed up under law-keeping” (That’s the way Jim Massey would teach us young preachers about freedom in Christ in our college days). 

I wonder how Jesus must feel about our attempt to go back under law keeping and making rules where God has not made them.  It has to make Him wonder why He even went to the cross.  Not only are we guilty of trying to keep rediculous rules sometime, but we also try to bind those rules on others.  Just this week, I received an email trying to get me to write a particular church concerning an addition they had made in their worship service that this particular person disagreed with.  He wanted me to write them and tell them exactly how I felt about their addition.  This church was several states away from us. 

Why do we feel the need to “correct” churches in other places whether they be local to us or in another state or country?  What happened to church autonomy?  What’s happening to the lost while we disputed over foolish doctrines of a dying denomination?  Why do we seek to destroy and not to teach and help? 

God bless us to see the freedom of grace and mercy.  We do not need to see those as a licence to sin, but a reason to “press on the mark.”  Grace and mercy saves–not law keeping of any kind.  It’s not “God’s part” and “man’s part.”  What “part” can I possibly bring to the table of salvation except but to presume upon the grace of God and serve Him like I really believe I’m going to be with Him one day for sure?  All I can bring to the table is trust.  I have fallen and Jesus picked me up and is carrying me to be with Him one day.  “Nothing in my hand I bring,  simply to the cross I cling.”

By the way, I did write that church.  I told them that I praised them for following the leading of God on that particular issue and not letting anyone deter them from following Christ in whatever He called them to do.  We would do well to listen more to God’s calling rather than trying to carrying on traditions and ways of man. 

Folks, it’s time that we began to look at the mission God put us here for.  We are to love God, love others, and serve.  It’s that simple.  Anything that tries to complicate that goes against the advice of our Lord and Master and needs to be ignored.