Monday, July 27, 2009


Heading to Zambia...

Once again, I find myself hustling to get ready to leave town. This time I leave tomorrow for Zambia. I will be preaching multiple times over four days and teaching leadership and evangelism seminars. Herald of Truth is distributing around 800 Bibles in Chechewa, the local dialect. We give these to church leaders to distribute. We also are providing several thousand pamphlets, Let Me Tell You about Jesus and His Church, in the native language.

I love these trips because I am doing evangelistic preaching. I like telling the story of Jesus to non-believers. I enjoy worshiping with Christians in different cultures. So much is different. So much more is the same. I am so blessed to get to share my faith like this.

I hate these trips because the travel is brutal. I don't sleep on planes so I will be going on two days of no sleep when I hit the ground. Even for a high energy guy that's tough. Maybe I'm getting old. Nah. I get frustrated that I can't stay longer. I miss Mimi. Maybe someday Marsha will be able to do some of these trips with me.

Things I am curious about: the brethren want me to stay at the guest house. These have proven to be fascinating over the years. Some really OK, some ... well, interesting. I wonder what the "special" preacher food will be. So far my favorite has been fresh beef liver with rice. My least favorite was sharing the same plate and fork with 8 9r 9 other preachers.

Must remember: Black mamba= not good. Beat water before baptism (not weird theology, crocodile deterrent). Peanut butter crackers, Handi-wipes, extra shorts in pack.

See you in a couple of weeks.

Friday, July 24, 2009


God and our new dog...

Most of you know that some time ago our Golden Retriever, Remington, died. It took us a while to get over the grief but about six weeks ago we started praying for God to help us find another Golden. Some may wonder about praying for a dog, but Marsha and I are committed to pray about everything and really learn to seek God's will and His blessing on all our plans.

So a couple of days ago, she saw an ad in the paper for Golden Retriever puppies. We had already decided we really wanted to feel good about where we found a puppy and we had decided there was a certain price we could not go beyond.

So she calls and introduces herself to the seller. Turns out the lady's husband and I used to work together. They are believers and a really good family. Marsha asked how much. She replied with a figure considerably above our price. But then said since she knew we would be a good home... and then named the exact figure we had decided.

So how do we think that is a God thing? We prayed. We decided on criteria that would serve as signs so God's will would be clear. And we believe God answered. So our family now has a brand new addition. His name is Lucky -- and we define Lucky as God's hand worked in this. Providence or Blessed or God Worked just seemed hard to use as a dog's name.

So, he is "lucky" to have us. And we are "lucky" to have him.

This is how we think Christians live faithful to the will of God in this world. Ask, set clear markers to know God's will, act on it.

Thanks God for Lucky.

Monday, July 20, 2009


What a great Saturday...

I had a great Saturday. My granddaughter, Avery Grace, turned two. Joe Don and his family came. My folks came. Julie and Bobby threw a great party. And it was the second best event of the day. Saturday afternoon, my friend Jimmy became my brother. You need to know his story.

Ken Jones became friends with Jimmy and Janie because he would often drink coffee at the restaurant managed by Janie. Ken talked to them about Jesus because his life is a living testimony to the power of God's grace. Janie became a Christian about five years ago. But not Jimmy. He didn't want any part of it.

Then a few months ago, their grown son died. It happened right in their new house. The religion of Jimmy's childhood failed him. The funeral was impersonal. The theology harsh. No one was there for them. But Ken was. Jimmy asked his friend questions about what he thought about God. Ken shared his story, and then God's Word. He did it gently and in love.

Jimmy and Janie decided they needed someone to pray thru their house for evil and pain to be removed and for joy and peace to return. They wondered if one the leaders at Southern Hills would do it. So Ken called me. Marsha and I went over with Ken and led Jimmy and Janie thru every room in their house, crying and praying.

Jimmy started coming to church. Janie prayed for him. So did lots of other people at Southern Hills. Jimmy started thinking of us as his church. He listened when Phil preached. He asked Ken questions.

And Saturday, he bought in. He died with Jesus in baptism and was raised to a new, forgiven life. I was honored to give the pastoral blessing to Jimmy Sunday at church with all his new brothers and sisters. I got to tell him that he was forgiven, just like Ken. And just like me. That Satan hated what he had done, but God would give him power and courage to witness to others.

Jimmy is a great story. So is Janie. And Ken.

And me.

And you too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Thinking about Scottie

Scottie is in ICU. He has pneumonia, low blood pressure, and high heart rate. He is a grown man but in terms of his physical and mental development, he is like an infant. His parents have to provide around the clock care for him. In many ways, their life revolves around the physical needs of their son. Vacations, social life, even getting to worship, are all difficult for Mom and Dad. It has been this way for years.

And they knew it when they adopted him. The agency even told them they did not have to go thru with the adoption. But they figured they would treat Scottie just like they would if he had been theirs by birth.

Some of you know Danny and Kathy Minton. I am thankful for what they have taught me about God's adoption of me as his son. God knew all my problems and issues and adopted me anyway. I understand more about God's love and faithfulness by knowing them. Danny is a preacher and an elder. And my friend. But his best sermon is the life he and Kathy chose with Scottie.

Just thought it might be worth thinking about today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Church Growth and the Assembly...

I am not sure a church can ever really grow if it continues to focus it's energy and mission around public worship. Everyone buys into the theory that church is not about the hour or two we spend together on Sundays. But the practice is different. Think about it.

Most church fights are over what we do, or how we do, public worship. People get upset enough to leave over worship practice. Most Christians get the overwhelming majority of their Bible study thru public worship. And what they get is generally one man's view.

When I hear talk of what is wrong with the church, or where they church is in danger, or what is exciting about church... it is almost always about public worship. The answer to struggling churches always seems to revolve around worship: change the preacher, add a praise team, go instrumental, change how we do communion.

Even when we talk about radical change, we seem to mean how we worship as a family. For years I have heard that one of the keys to being an evangelistic church is to ... (you can fill in the blank, but it seems to always be something new in worship).

And yet the Bible really says very little about our public assemblies. Very little instruction about who and how. Much more in Scripture about living like Jesus. More about evangelism. More about communal life together.

Maybe instead of emphasizing public worship -- and expecting that to lead to changed lives-- we should put the focus on changed lives for Jesus (and let worship flow out of that).

I am not sure a non-believer is ever going to be led to Jesus because of how we do, or don't do, worship. But I do believe that living radical lives for Jesus in our neighborhoods and on our jobs might interest a whole lot of people.

Of course... easier said than done.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Avery is OK...

Some of you may know that our granddaughter, Avery, fell off a couch last Friday and sustained a severe concussion. Spent the night at the hospital, underwent lots of tests, and is under observation at home thru Saturday. So, thanks God, she is OK. But this happened while we were in Tennessee with Herald of Truth for the Lipscomb lectures. Before we could arrange to fly out, the favorable reports started coming in so Marsha and I went ahead with our plans to take a couple of days in the Smokey Mountains.

Here is the rest of the story, and why being part of the family of God is so incredible. The Herald of Truth team gathered up to pray for Avery right in the exhibit area at Lipscomb. An elder from a church the Nashville area -- Jim Creech -- was by our booth, heard what was going on, and prayed with us. John and Diane Risse, long time preaching buds, were with us at lunch and not only prayed for Avery, but continued to check on us and how she was doing. A lady we did not know heard Marsha on the phone, came over to check on her, and said she would pray for our granddaughter. I don't even know her name. But she cried with Marsha.

We left a message for our small group with John and Jana Thacker. We all love each other's kids as if they were ours and we wanted someone with Julie and Bobby if the test results were bad. They thought the message said we were all in Tennessee and they were ready to fly up and be with us. Wow.

Called our elder buddy, Todd and Carla Hooper, because they have loved our kids and granddads. They went straight to the hospital and continued to check on them the rest of the week.

Mike Montgomery read the tests and he is a member at Southern Hills. Nice to have a brother caring for your family. Even more amazing, I could give any number of other names that would have done exactly the same had I called them first.

So we are really thankful to God that Avery is OK. And we are so blessed to be part of a loving, caring family of believers. Because we would do the same for them. And have. That's what families do. So what in the world do people do who do not have what we do?

We better share it. They need it. Just like us.

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