Thursday, October 12, 2017

 

Why would an 88 year old go on a preaching tour...

I recently got to spend about 4 hours in the DFW airport with Juan Monroy.  Bill Brant, Tim Archer, and I went over so we could talk about Hope for Life, Jesus, life, and preaching. 

Juan is 88 and had just gotten off an international flight from Madrid.  This was his first stop on a six week preaching tour.  He was going to Houston, LA, three places in Mexico, and then Cuba.  Speaking an average of 5 times in each place. 

I am 20 years younger than Juan and I got tired typing that last paragraph. 

It was a great visit.  We talked about the wonderful things God has been doing in our ministry.  We talked about our shared passion for preaching and about reaching the lost.  We talked about difficulties of long international travel.  We talked about our wives. 

And I want to be Juan when I grow up.

He loves God and Jesus.  Retirement is not really an option for him.  He intends to preach and write about Jesus.  He is thrilled when he helps bring others into the Kingdom.  He is happy when some that were in spiritual danger return to the Lord.

He is fearless.  Does not worry about his health or safety.  God will take care of him.  That is his very strong and firm conviction.

Why would an 88 year old go on a six week preaching tour across the world?

Because that's what believers do. 

I was inspired, motivated, and fired up to go strong for Jesus as long as I can. 

So to those of you who wonder about a 66 year old going all over our country to talk about Jesus ... well, I am still a youngster.  And I have someone to look up to as my role model.

So thanks for the example Juan. 

God, thank you for Juan Monroy.  For his faith, passion, and love for you.  Protect him and keep him strong.  Take him to his reward when you are ready.  But till then keep blessing his work for you and your Son.  Give the harvest.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

 

Wichita churches are telling the story...

So a couple of weeks ago, I spent three days in Wichita, Kansas.  Hope for Life, where I work, is helping in a major effort to share the good news of Jesus with those in and around Wichita.  The Riverwalk Church of Christ is the main coordinating congregation and their Evangelist, Jim Fly, is our point man. 

So I spent a weekend there to equip, motivate, and inspire Christians there to share the story of Jesus with their friends, neighbors, family, classmates, and co-workers.  We spent all day Saturday together.  Almost 200 Christians from 15 congregations together committing to share our faith. 

It was inspiring and awesome.

Here are a few of the things that inspired me.

All 15 congregations do not agree on everything, but they all buy in to making disciples by telling our world that God loved us so much that He let his Son die for our sins and that He raised Jesus from the dead.  They want people to love God so much that they will die and be raised to a new life with Jesus (baptism).  They want to share their stories of what God has done in their lives and in their communities of faith.  They are sharing the amazing stories from Scripture of how God worked in the lives of our spiritual ancestors to bring them into God's family.

They are serving, inviting, sharing.

I got to hear of the congregation doing community cook-outs for apartments near their building.  And of the couple that wanted to know more and of their decision to be baptized. 

I heard of renewed commitments to Jesus and to living the story boldly.

Talked to elders who were not just encouraging their congregation to get involved in sharing Jesus, but who were leading the way.

Lots of preachers committed to being evangelists and telling Jesus stories.

I felt at home there. 

I'll be going back in the Spring to for an evangelistic event where I will be telling stories to the friends and family who have started down the road that leads to making decisions about Jesus.  I am confident I will be meeting new Christians and seeing others being born again into the family of God.

So thanks Wichita for firing me up and letting me partner with you in this amazing, thrilling, and life-changing adventure.

Let's talk about Jesus.

So God thanks for my brothers and sisters that are even now sharing their lives and their stories with people that do not yet know your Son.  You saved us and we desperately want our world to know that you want to save them too.  So help us see opportunities.  Help us to know what to say and what stories to share.  Help to have the courage to act.  And bring the harvest.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

 

The only answer to a world full of evil...

It has happened again.  We all knew it would.  This time it was in Las Vegas.  So I hear Christians talking about what we should do.  Be nicer to others.  Treat everyone with respect.  Love your family.  Show the world a better way to live.
But I do not believe that is how God expects Christians to respond to evil.  That is the way He expects us to live every day.

 But please know that living as a Christian does not change the world. 

Making followers of Jesus does.And that does not happen just by living as a Christian.  It happens when you share the good news of Jesus and people believe it.

Here is what happens when you help someone decide to follow Jesus.

The world has one more person of peace.  One more person who treats others like they want to be treated.  One more person who loves their neighbor as themselves.  One more person who is living a life of contentment.  Not because we want to combat evil, but because we love God so much we choose to live a better life every day.  Not because of what we are against, but because of what we are for.

Followers of Jesus choose to live by faith -- not by fear.  Our world is afraid of dying.  Jesus robs death of its power.  Our funerals are different.  We refuse to give in to fear.  We will not live as timid people in a world of hate.  We choose to live courageous lives of hope and peace and joy.  Even if we Christians become the object of that hate. 

Followers survive.  We get through disaster and tragedy because of Jesus.  We overcome the trouble of this world.  What is the worst that can happen to us?  Death?  Followers know that we live forever.  If our family and friends are followers then we know we will be together forever.

And yes, I know this is much harder to do than to write.  It is not easy.  But we choose faith.  In the midst of hurricanes.  In the aftermath of mass shootings.  In hospital rooms.  We reject fear. 

So if you really want to change things then start talking about Jesus.  Start sharing your faith.  Bring people to Jesus.  Make followers.

That changes the world. 

God give us the courage to not just live our faith, but to share our faith.  Help us to speak of your Son in the midst of an evil world.  Thank you for overcoming death by the resurrection of your Son.  We are trusting in that.  And we will be bold and courageous in telling others that good news.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

 

Healing in God's Own Time

Some of you remember when our Grandson Andrew had a bad pool accident last June.  Had a badly bruised nerve that kept his right eye from looking to the right or tracking in sync with his left eye.  So he had double vision.  No baseball or basketball.  Difficult to read or watch television. 

So lots of you prayed for Andrew's healing.  Family, friends, and people that did not even know him have prayed.  The Drs. thought time would resolve the issue, but we asked God for the immediate healing. 

Andrew was amazing in his faith.  I know it had to bother him, worry him, and frustrate him.  But he stayed true to who he was the whole time.  Happy, loving God, being kind.  Trusting God.  Believing in the healing.

Thru the summer he made slow progress.  Got better in small increments.  Started school still seeing double. 

And then a couple of weeks ago he looked sideways to the right.  WITH BOTH EYES. 

While he is not completely healed yet, it is remarkably better.  The Drs. are confident that it will heal completely. 

We knew it would.  We just did not know the timetable.  God heard our prayers and He answered them.  In his time. 

I don't know why God chose this time to give the healing.  But He is God and I am not.  He knows why and what is best. 

Andrew will always remember the summer of double vision.  And he will always remember the healing.  So will we. 

God has seen our family through a lot over the past few years.  Sometimes our prayers have been answered quickly and exactly how we asked.  Sometimes it was longer than we wanted.  And sometimes the answer was not what we wanted.

It's OK.  He is God.  And he has proven himself faithful to our family over and over.  So we praise Him.  Just like we did when Andrew's eyes were not coming together.  He is the God of our family no matter what.  And we trust Him.  And we thank Him for this. 

So thanks God for what you are doing with Andrew's eyes.  We are amazed and thankful for your goodness.  We will continue to give you glory and to tell our world of your greatness.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

 

Going Back after 35 Years...

So I preached last Sunday for the church of Christ in Winnsboro, TX.  Same place I worked as an evangelist 35 years ago.  It was not my first time back.  I have gone back and conducted several funerals there over the years, most recently just a few months ago.  But this was the first time to go back and preach and to spend time with them.  So there were a lot of people I did not know, and a lot that I did.

Here are a few thoughts about a great weekend with a great church.

They have four elders.  One was a deacon when I was there.  Another's wife was our babysitter back then.  But one of them was not even a Christian when I left.  His wife was faithful.  He heard me preach, we played some ball together, and hung out some.  He called me the night he was baptized and the day he became a deacon.  Now he is an elder.  Go God.

Still people there who were converted all those years ago.  And there were people there who are strong and active now, but were not when we were there.  Made my heart full.

I got to hang out with some of my family.  Not just church family, but one of my cousins and his kids.  Nice.

We talked a lot about baptisms, weddings, funerals, and grace.

It is a wonderful feeling to answer questions about your kids when they are faithful. 

Marsha could not make it this time, though she has for most of the funerals.

Got tired of the "Marsha looks the same.  Oh, and you sound the same." 

Or, "Glad to see you but we were hoping Marsha could come."

I think they will have me back but clearly it depends on whether or not Marsha comes.

That church has done a lot of good over the years.  Raised a lot of elders and elders wives.  Converted a lot of people to Jesus.  Been faithful. 

It was a taste of heaven.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

 

Jesus, a Rescue Dog, and the Cone of Shame



Lulu is our rescue dog.  We think she probably has some issues from her past that make her pretty insecure sometimes.  Not sure, but can dogs have abandonment issues?  Anyway, she got her tail cut, or bit, or torn somehow last week.  Tried to patch her up but she kept licking her tail.  Obsessively.  Over and over again.  So she got The Cone of Shame.  You know, the large cylinder designed to keep her from reaching her tail.  It had to embarrass her in front of the other dogs.

But oh my did the Vet underestimate Lulu's ability to get to her tail.  Would not leave it alone so ... yep, ended up having to amputate.  We tried to explain it was for her own good.  Tried to explain why she had to quit licking her tail.  But you know how dogs are.  Got another cone.  Got some medicine.  Tried it again.

And we have made real progress.  She is healing up after the surgery now.  Finally got her to let it heal.  She looks a little different but we think she may make it.

All of which reminds me of Jesus, addictions, healing, and grace.

Sometimes it is a new Christian.  Sometimes it is someone who became a Christian at a young age and the battle came when they got older.  Sin addictions.  Alcohol, drugs, sex, work, food, power, attention.  You know what they are.  Chances are you have had to battle some of these yourself.

They often do real damage.  And if not controlled and defeated, they can do permanent damage.

So you do radical spiritual surgery.  You rely on the Holy Spirit, you deepen your Christian connections, you practice confession.  You remove some people and activities from your life.  You manage consequences.  You repent and start in a new direction.

But sometimes you lick the wound.  You cannot stay away from the danger zone.  You try to quit but relapse.

So you surround your wounds with the cone.  Not physically, but spiritually.  You get people in place around you.  You realize you cannot make it on your own.  You commit to be restored by those who will speak truth into your life.  Those who will walk with you.  

But it is not a cone of shame.  It is a cone of love.  People who care.  Brothers and sisters who have been there.  A community of faith that is interested in releasing you from shame and guilt.  A church that is committed to healing you by the grace of God.

But you may look a little different.  You may have a scar or two.  But one day, you realize you are not licking your wounds.  You have survived.  You have been healed.

It works.  Just ask Lulu.  Even better, ask some of us.  Ask me.

God redeems and God heals.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

 

Thoughts on getting old...


So I had a birthday yesterday.  I am 66.  Old enough to retire according to Social Security.  So maybe I really am getting old.  So here are a few thoughts on getting old.

No way is God through with me.  I love what I do for a living.  And I do what I love and get paid for it.  I talk about Jesus and I help others learn to talk about Jesus.  I intend on doing that until the Lord comes... or I die... or I can't.  So maybe this year is it, but if it is then I am going out the way God wants.  I cannot imagine retiring.  If I did, I would still just talk about Jesus, so...

My body knows I am getting older.  I get more tired after long trips.  I still preach with a lot of energy, but sometimes I am more worn out than I used to be.  I suspect my body is wearing out more than I will acknowledge.  And it may be because of the mileage, not the years.

I look old.  Short, overweight, bald guys look old.  I looked 66 when I was 46.  And I may look 86 now but at least there is not much left that can change.

I don't act old.  It may be true that 66 is the perfect age for me.  Look 86, act 46, am 66.  It works.

I love Jesus more as I get older.  I never thought much about getting to 66.  Still don't.  But I do know that every day I love God more and more for what he has done for me.

I love family more every day.  I have been so blessed by all four of my parents.  Three are gone now -- my Dad and Marsha's folks, but my Mom is still going strong at 86.  And my kids make me so proud.  Julie, Joe Don and Jamie are faithful, strong, mature people.  And they are doing a great job with my five Grands:  Anna, Jake, Avery, Andrew, and Austin.  They are a delight and a treasure.  Not any people on earth I would rather hang out with than my fam.

And Marsha is beyond anyone I could have ever wanted to go thru life with.  Married up, outkicked my coverage.  I know I don't deserve her, but so glad I have her.

I am not naive.  I know time is much shorter.  I expect I am well into the 4th Quarter of life.  So I am even more intense about sharing Jesus if that is possible.  More focused on what is ahead of me than what is behind.  And I am OK if the Lord takes me home before I reach 67.  His life and his business anyway.

I am a happy 66 year old.  Life is good.  God is better.

So another year, and well... really who cares?

Age is just a number.  Jesus is life.  Now at 66... and forever.

Thanks God.

  

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