Tuesday, July 26, 2016

 

Why I Love Vacation Bible School

Tonight is our last night of VBS at Southern Hills.  200 volunteers.  Over 1000 in the auditorium for the musical.  Several hundred visiting the various stations around the building.  Oh... and that does not count the 20 or so of our young people doing a VBS down in the Dominican Republic.

But ours sure is different than some I have worked.  Our musical is fantastic with amazing talent and sets.  There wer times I have done them with me singing with 20 kids in a gym.  I've done them with as few as 10 or 12 teachers.  I've watched cookies come in by the thousands over the years.  I've seen one class for all the elementary students and I've seen multiple classes for just one grade. I've seen VBS where I really think Marsha and I did all the teaching, singing, and crafts.  This year we worked like crazy just getting out the Tee Shirts.

But here is why I love VBS.  And why I think all of these are more alike than different.

Every volunteer is performing an act of love.  They love God and they love kids.  And the want the kids to love God.

They have all been fun.  Lots of laughter, singing, noise, and study.  God and fun.  That fits.  And it works in VBS.  Maybe Sunday mornings ought to be a whole more like VBS.

God is glorified.  Every VBS tells God stories from his word.  The singing is in praise of God.

People arere invited to join us on the Jesus journey.  Last night our Children's minister invited people to come to the stage and talk with him about becoming royalty in God's family.  One of our  main performers in this year's production was converted in large part by what he saw a couple of years ago in VBS.  Last year we had our baptistery covered for the musical.  So we set a horse trough out in front of the building.  One of my great VBS memories is when I watched one of our members baptizing a couple into Christ in it.  

The whole church has to pitch in.  I've seen teachers, cookie makers, and van drivers.  I've seen singers, actors, teachers, carpenters, cooks, registration ladies, photographers, and security volunteers.  The entire body of Christ working together.

And here's one more reason I love VBS.  Marsha and I both grew up going to VBS.  Having our parents teach.  We both started doing VBS as high schoolers.  Joe Don and Julie grew up going to VBS.  They have taught, led singing, and worked in VBS since they were teenagers.  And their kids have grown up going to VBS.  I have no doubt all five of our grands will be involved in working some version of VBS for most of their lives.  And their kids will go.  And on and on it goes.

So thanks God for the Vacation Bible Schools going on all over everywhere this summer.  Thanks for the people who love you and love children so much that they will give up hours and hours of their time to teach the little ones about You and your son.  Thanks for the hours my family has spent setting up, teaching, singing, and helping in VBS.  I pray even tonight their will be someone touched by your story enough to let us share the good news of Jesus.  And you get the glory.

Go VBS.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

 

Church Inside Out

I rarely recommend books, but I am going to make an exception.

Church Inside Out by Tim Archer.

The book explores ways for "getting church insiders out to bring outsiders in."

It is a good read for ministers, elders, and those interested in reaching our communities with the good news.

Tim is a gifted writer and thinker.  He is passionate about sharing Jesus with our world.

Full disclosure:  Tim and I work together at Hope for Life, a Herald of Truth Ministry.  Knowing him so well is one reason he has credibility with me and why I enjoyed reading his book.

Tim shares other resources that are helpful and he offers suggestions for implementing the ideas he shares.

21st Century Christian published this book and you can order off their website: .21stcc.com

I am intrigued by some things I learned from Tim and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts after reading.











Tuesday, July 19, 2016

 

Avery Grace is 9



Avery Grace, Julie's girl, turned 9 yesterday.  So here are just a few reasons I love her and am so proud of this granddaughter of mine.

She loves Jesus.  She reads the Bible, she prays, and she tries to live like Jesus.  She really is happy all the time.  Puts others first always.

She loves her family.  I watched her last night as she sang This is the Day with her Mom, her Mimi, and her Granny.  Granny, Marsha's Mom, is in Hospice but Avery comes to see her every day.  Holds her hand and talks to her.  Avery is learning about dying and going home to heaven.  She gets it.

She is a great friend and role model to little girls.  I watched her play with and keep the little sisters of Jakes's baseball buddies all summer.  Those little sisters love Avery.

Loves animals.  Not just all of ours but all animals.  She especially loves dogs.

She is my gardening buddy.  Waters our tomatoes and peppers.  Picks them for me.

She loves gymnastics.  Practices, watches it on TV, dreams of her next meet.  And is absolutely fearless.  And evidently she is really good.  Wins a lot of medals and competes against girls two and three years older.

I call her The Ave because she is so unique and special.  One of a kind.

So Avery, I love you and am proud of you.  You are beautiful, smart, and athletic.  But I am most proud of the way you love God and your family.  You make us all happy.

So thank you God for our Avery Grace.  Protect her from evil and continue to mold her into a follower of your Son.  I look forward to the amazing ways you will use her in your Kingdom. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

 

Watching baseball and thinking about Jesus

I have gotten to spend a lot of time watching grandsons play baseball this summer.  Andrew in Dallas playing on a select team and Jake playing on the Wylie All-Stars.  Here is what I learned about following Jesus from watching baseball.

You are never good enough.  The best players strike out, misplay balls, and have off games.  I am never going to be good enough spiritually either.

It takes all of us.  You better have some players who can throw it, hit it, and pick it.  The body of Christ has lots of members with different talents.  We need each other.

Cheer loud.  Celebrate the victories.  Cheer for the big hits and the great plays.  We must be a church full of encouragers.

Pick each other up when you fail.  Piling on when someone is down is a sure way to keep them from getting up again. Satan loves it when Christians gossip, turn their back on, and refuse to help each other when one of us falls.

Good teams do not blame each other.  Good churches don't either.

Community is great.  At the ball field and at church.

Good teams require lots of time, money, and energy from coaches, parents, and players.  Good churches have lots of members investing time, money, and energy.

Players get better with practice.  Spiritual disciplines develop with practice.

Baseball is fun.  Jesus is better.

It is OK to be proud.  Andrew hits well and plays a great center field.  His team finished third in the end of year World Series.  Jake hit well and really pitched well.  They advanced to Sectionals and finished third there.

And it is OK to be proud of your church family.  Not because of how good they are but because they are letting God do amazing things thru them.

Athletic talent plus hard work makes good ballplayers.  God's gifts used by dedicated Christians makes for Kingdom growers.

Thanks God for the joy of watching those boys play ball.  And thanks for letting it remind me of things about your Kingdom.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

 

What I learned from another heart test

Well I had another heart test today.  Treadmill, bunch of pictures of my heart, and got shot up with some kind of dye.

Here are some lessons I learned.

I still have some kind of irregular EKG that freaks out medical people.  I have probably had it all my life but certainly since I was 50 and they first discovered it.  It is either nothing to worry about or it is going blow my heart someday.  Or something in between.

Truth is that none of us are promised long life on our terms.  Car wreck, plane crash, cancer, or my heart.  All possible.  Not sure any are probable.  But I am promised eternal life.  Better than this life anyway.  And the people I love most are all going to live forever too, so...

Live life every day.  I really don't think I would change much if I knew I was going to die tomorrow.  I talk to someone about Jesus almost every day.  The people that matter to me all know how much I love them and how proud I am of them.  My legacy is pretty well set in my kids and grands so I'll just keep living happy and die happier.

Encouragement is a good thing.  When you are on the treadmill, someone is always asking if you are OK.  I think that is exactly what we Christians should be doing with each other.  And they are always telling you how good you are doing and what good shape you are in. We should all be great encouragers.  It makes you try harder and do better.

Cardiac labs have a lot of really old people in them.  I think I was the youngest one there by several years.  Or maybe they just all look old because  -- well, after all they are at a cardio lab.  But no one said anything to me about my age.  Looking around reminded me that I have way more years on this earth behind me than I do in front of me.  If life is like a football game, I am early in the 4th quarter.  But I am not old.  Don't think like it, don't act like it.  And I am going to finish strong.  Faithful to the end.

And above all, I was reminded that God is in control.  He is the real healer and the giver of life.  Now and forever.

So thanks God for life here.  Take care of my heart.  I promise to finish strong -- whether that is days or decades from now.  Because this life is not the end.  I will keep praising you for giving me life that never ends.  And keep giving me chances to invite others into this life.  

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

 

JD and Jamie celebrated 16 years

Our son, Joe Don, and his wife Jamie celebrated 16 years of marriage last Friday.  Here a just a few of the reasons I love them and am proud of them.

They are great parents.  They are fun, loving, patient, firm, and intentional about parenting their three kids.  The most important thing to them is that their kids learn to love Jesus. They are helping them develop their own individual faith.

They work at being married.  That is a good thing.  Marriage is hard and it takes work to keep a marriage strong.  They do not take their happy marriage for granted.

Their home is a Kingdom outpost in this world.  Believers fellowship, sing, pray, eat, and study there.  Non-believers are invited in and they get a glimpse of what it means to live as a follower of Jesus.  There are people in the Kingdom today because they met Joe Don and Jamie.

They are generous with their time, money, and with their hearts.

I am constantly told by people how much Joe Don and Jamie mean to them.

They teach a Bible class of young couples.  Great mentors and examples for that group.

They are happy.  With each other.  With their kids.  With their life.

Mimi and I are incredibly blessed to call them our kids.

So thanks God for putting these two together.  Continue to bless them and their Anna, Andrew, and Austin.  I look forward to what you will do thru them as a couple and as a family.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

 

Happy birthday to my son Joe Don



My son Joe Don turns 38 tomorrow.  Here are just a few of the reasons I love him and am proud of him.

He is is committed to following Jesus personally and to leading his family to be Jesus followers.  He leads by both words and example.

It is not just his family either.  He wants everyone to know Jesus.  He teaches Bible class, talks to friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

He loves his wife Jamie.  He works at being a good husband.

Great Dad.  His kids adore him.  Love to be with him.  Rush to mob him at the door when he comes home.

He gives good spiritual advice.  He encourages people.  He inspires them to live better as followers of Jesus.

He is -- and has always been -- a good son.  He was all boy growing up and he is not perfect... but there was never a day I was not proud to be his Dad.

I think every Dad wants his son to be a better man than he is.  It is a rare and precious gift to be able to look up to your son as an example of what a Christian man is.  I have that.

Every family has that person who is the spiritual leader and center.  Joe Don is that for our family.  And for our extended family also.

I do not know how long I will live and function as the Patriarch of our family.  But I do know when the time comes that I cannot then Joe Don will.

God's words to Jesus are a good blueprint for how I feel about my son.

Joe Don, I love you and am proud of you.  You are worth listening to.

So thanks God for JD.  You have done an amazing work in his life.  Bless him as he continues to do your kingdom work in his family and in his world.  

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