Archive for April, 2008
It sounded just like this: “Bzrp-cha-ta-bzrp. Zip-zip. Splzt. Bzrp-cha-ta.” While it happened quickly, that’s what it sounded like as my friend, Jim, worked over the reel-to-reel recorder and cut out my blunders, goobers, and mistakes in my audio recordings. Many times since those days long ago, I ‘ve wished that I could have him do the same for me in my life! (I talk about this in my heartlight.org article today.)
If you could edit some things out of your life, what you change? Come on now, at least be honest with yourself, what things would you just as soon be banished to the depths of the sea?
Better yet, what would you do to help foster a sense of love, forgiveness, and generosity in those around you?
I’d love to hear from you!
Today is WATS day!
For our church, it is a special day to gather for a shared Communion service and then go out and serve the community in very intensive, manual labor, ways. WATS stands for “We Are the Sermon.” We begin the day with a shared time of worship with communion — the air is electric and people are excited, dressed in their get dirty work clothes and many pulling trailers full of yard tools. The singing is joyous and upbeat. When we finish, we break into work groups, share a quite bite of lunch, and spend the afternoon working our backsides off to bless others. It’s all part of our sense of mission:
We are God’s community front porch: inviting, including, and involving others in the life of Jesus.
Last year, well over a thousand people served their neighbors building wheel chair ramps, painting homes, cleaning up yard messes, restoring houses to code, and just lending a helping hand. We collected over 80 tons of debris and garbage. It’s one of the coolest and most exciting church days of our year.
Here are a few links to help you know more about it:
What are some things your church family does to get outside the church building and share the love of Jesus with those in your community?
Last minute update: “Will the weather derail our day?” We’ll have to wait and see!
I had to restrain myself!
When I drove past the children’s home and saw a news truck, reporter, and camera focused inside the grounds, I had to make myself keep driving. My instinct was to pull over and park my old Tahoe in front of the camera and block their view.
I guess I’m old enough to have seen enough wars, political maneuvers, famines, and idealistic religious movements to know that the children always suffer first, longest, and worst when things go wrong in our world. This time, all the media fuss was over a number of children arriving at a children’s home. These children had been removed by Texas Child Protective Services from the YFZ polygamist sect in Eldorado — CNN has several stories on this and I’ll link you to them because they do not talk about our situation.
I’ll leave it for someone else who knows the firsthand facts to wade through all the DNA evidence, charges of child abuse, pre-teen forced marriage, polygamy and other details about charges. Regardless of the merits or the facts in this case, the children are caught in the middle. Their world, their sense of security, their understanding of family, and their sense of safety have all been turned upside down and sideways. They’ve been taken from the homes they knew to places they had never seen and asked to mesh into families they have never known.
To me, it seemed like a huge intrusion of privacy and safety for a news station to show footage of their arrival on the evening news — even though it was grainy and taken at a great distance. In addition, this media exposure is a potential risk of safety of those who give foster care and other children in foster care with those families. While I am all about public openness in government in most situations, the care of children should trump everything else.
So this leads me to one question and one request:
- Do you think I’m being too hard-headed about this, or do you agree that we don’t sufficiently protect children caught in the middle of adult messes?
- Would you please pray for these displaced children, those with whom they share homes for awhile, their mothers from whom they are separated, and those who offer them foster care?
In a few hours from now — it’s late Friday night — I will be leaving for a board meeting for a children’s home. I will be with people whose lives are dedicated to caring for babies, adoptive parents, and moms wanting to find stable and loving homes for their babies. So children are on my heart this weekend. I hope and pray they are on your heart, as well.
Who introduced you to Jesus?
Have you thanked them lately?
So often, we take knowing Jesus for granted. Most in the world don’t! In fact, I’m willing to bet that most who know about Jesus don’t really know that much about Him … much less really know Him. So if you know Jesus, how did you get introduced? Where did you first meet?
I’m betting that someone who loves you took the time … and the risk … to introduce you to the Carpenter. Most of us were introduced to Jesus by someone willing to serve the Lord and also us.
I guess that’s why I love the way the Gospel of Mark begins. Matthew and Luke give us the birth stories and genealogies about Jesus. John has the incredibly beautiful prologue that shows Jesus is God and Creator of all things. Mark, however, starts differently:
The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
It is written in Isaiah the prophet:“I will send my messenger ahead of you,who will prepare your way”—“a voice of one calling in the desert,‘Prepare the way for the Lord,make straight paths for him.’ “
And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Mark 1:1-5 TNIV
In typical “get to the point style,” Mark says simply, “The good news about Jesus begins here: John was a servant of Jesus and shared His story with everybody.”
Introductions to Jesus nearly always begin with a servant who wants to share his or her friend with another. Granted, John the Baptist was a bit on the eccentric and weirdo end of things, but there is no doubt his heart and his ministry and death were all lived to prepare the way for Jesus to enter the lives of other people. So guess what? There is room for all of us off-center, a little bit weirdo, eccentric people to be useful to God … if we are willing to serve others and share Jesus.
See … that’s not so hard, is it?
Sometimes a month can take forever — like when you are six and it’s Thanksgiving and you can’t wait till Christmas comes.
Sometimes a month seems like the blink of an eye — when you are a parent of a child home on a missions furlough or visiting a friend overseas on a month vacation or you are in the service home with your family for a month on leave.
For us, one month has seemed a bit of both. Donna and I are home tonight after a whirlwind visit to a medical center three hours away. A “routine” visit to a specialist. The interesting twist to all of this, however, is that there was awful weather — at least 3 tornadoes, high wends, hail, and flooding rains — between us and our destination and it all parted like the Red Sea for Moses. After all is said and done today … and after all that has gone on over the last month … all is well.
You see, starting a month ago, our family (either one of our parents, our children, or us) has experienced a knee replacement surgery, four separate sets of X-rays, an ultrasound, an MRI, two sets of blood work, a colonoscopy, ankle surgery, emergency trip to the hospital by ambulance, a heart cath, an arterial splint, and today’s trip to Lubbock.
So when I say it’s good to be home tonight … you understand.
When I say God has been good to us because all of this has turned out well … you understand.
In some ways, the last month has passed so quickly. In some ways, however, 30 days seems like forever ago when we started down this path.
But … we have never felt alone, singled out, or abandoned. And when Sunday, shortly after finishing my sermon and while we sang and our Shepherds prayed over the church, three of my elders encircled me and prayed thanksgiving and God’s grace on our family, I was reminded the blessing of faith and family and friends. Not a bad lesson to learn in a just a month.
On Friday, a little over a week ago, I did a funeral and graveside for an incredibly cool man who was everything good about where I live — you can read more about his story in my Heartlight article this week. He was born in Coleman county, Texas, about 70 minutes south of Abilene. He was buried less than half a mile from the little stone house in which he was born. In between, he lived 86 years as a farmer, a vet of WWII, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
When this precious man’s first wife became very ill, he attended to her faithfully and tirelessly. As time passed after her death, he then convinced a sweet lady to marry him — even though she had “sworn off men” completely when her drunken, womanizing husband abandoned her to raise two little girls by herself — which she did masterfully, often working two jobs.
God gave them well over a decade of marriage, but after the last four months of his battling to stay here for his family, she told him it was okay to go home and be with the Lord. He did a few hours later, slipping peacefully away to be with the Lord.
I was honored to officiate at his funeral and graveside. Knowing that I would not take money for a funeral, her “thank you” was for me to send that money to Compassion International to help take care of “our girl” and other children. And that’s where the generous “thank you” will go: to provide mosquito nets for the beds unknown children so that they can have a chance at life, family, friends, and faith.
Some gifts just mean more.
My prayer is that you will add your gift to this one and help us Bite Back against this leading killer of children. You can learn more about Malaria Prevention Day from the following resources:
Yes, some gifts just mean more!