Wednesday, May 30, 2012


My little girl is having a birthday...

OK.  I know Julie is not exactly my "little girl" as if she is still running around in Kindergarten.  She is grown, married, and her two kids are 4 and 6.  But Friday is her birthday and no matter how old she gets, she is still Daddy's girl.  She can still talk me into anything she wants, she is still one of the all-time great "eye rollers", and she still loves her Daddy.

And I love her.  So in anticipation of her birthday, here is why I still love my little girl.

She loves Jesus.  Always has.  She went thru tough times spiritually but never quit loving God and Jesus.  Never quit worshipping.  Can't imagine she ever will.

She loves her family.  She loves Bobby.  She loves Jake and Avery.  Her favorite thing to do in life is hang out with her family.  And she is teaching them to love Jesus.

She taught her husband Bobby to love Jesus.

She loves her extended family.  She adores her grandparents, especially Granny.  She loves her brother fiercely even to this day.  So I'm glad she loves Jamie like a sister.  and she loves their kids.  She is a great Aunt -- even tho Andrew always wonders why she has to steal all his kisses.

She loves her church family.  She is loyal to Southern Hills.  She cries over people in trouble.  She is excited to help her friends find community there. 

She is great at telling people about Jesus.  And they listen.  Roommates, teammates, guys she dated, friends have all come to Jesus thru her influence.  She cares, she helps when people are in trouble, and she tells them where they can find help.  Then she invites them to church so they can meet Jesus.

She is a great encourager.  You know how Dads are suppossed to encourage their kids and help them hang in there.  Well, Julie does that for me.  She inspires me to be a better Christian, better husband, better Dad, and better elder.

So happy birthday to Daddy's little girl.  You make me happy.  Love you.


Thursday, May 24, 2012


My wife did something for God that I couldn't...

It was clearly a spiritual moment, a holy moment.  I have witnessed at the birth of my children and with my grandchildren.  I have watched three women hold the babies they have given birth to and see them cry with the joy of the Lord.  I have heard them describe the experience with awe and wonder as they thank God for the incredible gift of giving birth.

I cried too.  Two times it was my child and I was there.  The other times I was there shortly after the birth of my grandkids.  But it wasn't the same.  I didn't experience in the same way.  I had not carried life for nine months.  I did not give birth to new life. 

And I never will.  God did not set it up that way.  Men and women function differently.

I don't remember thinking it was unfair.  I don't remember feeling cheated.  I didn't consider myself to be spiritually inferior.  I just thought God set it up differently.  In Christ -- and that is where my family is located -- there is neither male nor female.  

But we sure function differently.  I think single women are the spiritual equals of married women, but they don't bear children.  Some women cannot have children, but that does not make them inferior spritually.  But it does change how they function in the kingdom of God.

Fathers and mothers are spiritual equals.  They just function differently.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The women's issue no one talks about...

There is much discussion among churches today about what can -- or can't -- do in worship.  Everyone tries to explain what Scripture must mean, or can't mean, to prove their position.  And if you read my blog, you will know by now that I think spirtual equality cannot be equated with equality of function.

But there is one passage of Scripture that seems very clear about the role of women in I Timothy 5 and I never hear anyone talk about it.  I don't know any church that practices it.  The church where I am elder doesn't do it. 

There is a Biblical list of widows that are to be officially recognized.  She has to be a certain age, been faithful to her dead husband, and well known for her deeds.  Those deeds are even spelled out:  raising children, washing feet, helping those in trouble.  Young women can't be on the list. 

I am not sure what maintaining a list this implies.  Is it to recognize the spiritual widows?  Is it to identify those who should be on the church staff to do a ministry of good works?  I am not sure I understand this, but one thing I do know.  I never hear the church talk about it.

So I wonder a few things about why this is never discussed.

Why do we not have elders, deacons, and widows?  All have qualifications listed in I Timothy.  And at least some indication of the ministry responsibilities.

Is it because worship leadership is so visible and most of these good deeds are not?

Is leadership seen as a higher calling than doing acts of service?

Are we afraid of age discrimination?

And if we are all equal, why is there not a list of widowers?  Are widowers not as worthy of a list as widows?

Why no intense emotional discussion about why this verse has to mean something about women in ministry?

Why no passionate arguement about how these verses can't mean what they seem to say?     

But most of all, I wonder why as an elder I haven't brought this up at Southern Hills.  Because I know several widows who meet the qualifications outlined in I Timothy 5.  Why do we not have a list?

Just wondering.  Maybe some of you know of churches who actually have this.  I'd like to know what to do about this.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


It will be 39 years Saturday... if the Lord wills

Saturday will be 39 years that Marsha and I have been married.  So -- if the Lord wills -- we will hit another milestone.  If the Lord wills.  What a striking phrase.  But one thing I have learned over 39 years is that you don't make it this long without the Lord.  That is one of the best things I have learned from her over the years.  It is all about God.  We pray for health to be active for him.  We would love to celebrate 50 years together.  Or, if we are like our parents, 60 or 70 years together.  But only God knows the future.  That's another good thing I have learned from her.  Enjoy each day as it comes.

Lots has changed over 39 years.  She has gone from Marsha to Mom.  And then from Mom to Mimi. And I have gone from Steve to Dad to Pops.  And it just keeps getting better.

She was an instructor at ACU, a stay at home Mom, a public school teacher, and now retired and busier than ever.  I have been a preacher, roofer, salesman, and now a preacher again.  And may never retire.  And we serve our church as an elder and wife.

But some things haven't changed in 39 years.  Still in love.  Didn't really know what it meant then.  Understanding it more every passing year.  And it gets better.

Still love family.  It's bigger now.  We went from two to four when we our two kids and got two more when they married.  Now we have five grandkids.  Now we take care of our parents more than they take care of us.  We get the whole cycle of life thing.  But it's still family and we would rather be with them than anyone else.

And still love God.  I am amazed at the journey over 39 years.  Faithfulness, restoration, struggle, victory, forgiveness, love.  Heartache, sickness, joy, healing, ministry.  And the one thing I am sure of is God's love and faithfulness.

And sometimes I lood at her when she doesn't know it.  And my heart still skips a beat.  I'd choose her again in a heartbeat.

So thanks for 39 years Mimi.  And as long as the Lord wills, we will love and live each coming year to the fullest.

Thanks God.  You knew exactly who I needed.  I am blessed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Neither male nor female is not cultural

Paul's teaches that in Christ there is no spiritual difference based on economic, racial, or gender status.  This teaching has recently been used by some as a universal principle to prove that men and women are not to function differently in the kingdom.  The conclusion is that there is thus a universal command that the church not discriminate against women in terms of what they can or can't do in worship.

Except that is not how Paul believed it.  The same Paul that wrote "neither male nor female" also wrote "as in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches."  Neither male nor female in Christ is a definitive, universal teaching.  But Paul indicates in the first century that women did not speak in worship.  So whatever it is, it is not a universal principle in terms of worship functionality.

But that was cultural, some would say.  It may be.  My point is just that we not interpret one verse in a way that that Scripture itself would not support.

The degree or extent of women's participation in worship or in leadership cannot be taught from the spiritual principle of "neither male nor female".  At best it is determined by culture. Or the I Corinthians 14 passage is universal, not cultural. Either way,  the discussion cannot be that God's intent or that spiritual equality is the same as functional equality.

At least that is how Scripture seems to me.

As I look at this issue, I'll share more of my thoughts later.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Spiritual and/or functional equality...

I shared last post about spiritual equality in Christ.  There has been quite a bit of conversation lately about whether spiritual equality means functional equality.  That is, since we are spiritually equal in Christ ("niether male nor female) then we must be functionally equal.  In other words, anything a woman can do in the kingdom, a man can do also.  And whatever a man can do, so can a woman.  This is especially used when talking about leadership roles in worship and in the church.  Does spiritual equality mean that men and women should both be preachers, worship leaders, elders, etc?  Or is there a difference in spiritual and functinal equality? 

You have to make some assumptions to hold the position of functional equality.

One is that functional equality is a universal principle that God expects his people to follow.  Just as spiritual equality is a principle that must be followed.

Second is that function is dependent on spirituality.

Another is that to not be equal in function is to imply some kind of "second class" spirituality.

By the way, I think it is possible to argue for functional equality based on other considerations.  However, the one I hear most often is the Galatians 3 passage which I believe teaches spiritual, not functional, equality.  And beleiving there are other ways to argue a point does not mean you have to agree.

So more to come on whether God expects functional equality in the Kingdom.  But be thinking on whether there is a difference between spiritual and functional equality.  And realize I am thinking these things thru myself. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


Neither male nor female, but one in Christ...

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for youare all one in Christ Jesus.  (Galatians 3:26-28)

This is a great passage.  I have always loved the inclusiveness of the family of God.  All of us baptized into Christ have put Christ on and we are one in Christ.  What a great statement of spiritual equality to those who some in the world might see as second class citizens. 

A Greek Christian does not require a Jewish advocate to know Jesus.  The slave does not need the intervention of his master to experience Christ.  And a woman does not need a man to experience Jesus.  We are all equal at the cross.  All lost sinners.  Same blood of Jesus shed for each of us.  Same baptism.  Now sharing the same Holy Spirit.  One in Christ.  No spritual advantage by race, economic status, or sex.

In fact, in Chirst we do not see the differences the world sees.  The church cannot be racially divided.  Shame on churches that show racial prejudice.  Or economic prejudice.  The poor person is the same as the rich person in Christ.  Neither male or female is spiritually superior based on gender. 

This is one of the great counter cultural messages the church speaks into society.  No prejudice here!  Our culture may be unfair and prejudicial because of race, economic status, or gender.  We are different in the kingdom of God.

But does this passage mean more than this?  Thoughts on spiritual equality and functional equality next time.

Thursday, May 03, 2012


And now Happy Birthday Granny

Tomorrow Marsha's Mom turns 84.  I don't call her my mother-in-law but "my other Mom".  I love her because...

She loves her family.  All of them, but she is really close to the three generations of women coming behind her.  She talks to Marsha every day.  She loves Julie and one of the great joys of her life is to watch Julie and Avery.  It is one of the great joys of my life to worship with those four generations -- at least when I am in town.

She loves when Joe Don and Jamie are in town and take the time to bring their three kids over.  She loves watching them play.

She is always sweet and calm.  She never gets too worked up about things. 

She is strong.  She is in fairly constant pain but doesn't complain about it. 

She wants everyone to know Jesus and be happy.

She doesn't talk much about her faith.  She just lives it.  Has as long as I have known her.

She knows she is going to heaven and is ready when God is.  I sometimes think the pain is bad enough for her to want to go on home.  But she spends her time encouraging , praying, and loving Marsha, Julie, and Avery.  The rest of us too, but well... they are special to her. 

She needs our help now.  Marsha's sister Phyllis lives next door and helps constantly.  Shse and Granpa are sweet to take care of each other.  She is proud of Donnie's grandkids (Marsha's brother).  She gets so much joy from Joe Don and his family. 

She brags on Julie's husband Bobby.  She prayed lots for him to become a Christian.  She so appreciates when he does things at the farm and when he helps with the yard.

And she loves me.  Some of that is because I married her little girl and gave her grandkids she loves and they gave her great grandkids.  That is a big deal. 

But she has always treated me just like I was her son.  Even when she had a reason not to.  She did.  Still does. 

Just like Jesus.  Living her faith.  I see where Marsha gets it.  And I'm glad.

Love you Granny.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Happy birthday to my Dad...

He's 84 today and things are not like they used to be.  He is suffering from Dementia/Alzhiemer's/Senility.  Doctors differ about the exact diagnosis but the end result is the same:  he does not function well mentally like he used to.  And he is physically frailer than ever.  Marsha and I spent yesterday with he and my Mom.  We helped get some legal work done (thanks to his grandson Joe Don) and cleaned out his work shed.  Here are a couple of thoughts on his birthday.

He still knows people.  He always knows his family.  We took him by the church and he knew all of the staff.  He couldn't hang in the conversation, but he knew them.  He always loved and cared about people.  It was how he functioned as an elder and how he interacted in his church family.  That is a great legacy.

People love him.  They go out of their way to tell me how much they love and respect my folks.  My Dad spent years helping people.  Praying for people.  Serving people.  Giving spiritual counsel.  Great way to be remembered.

He is still so sweet.  He is not mean or hard to manage.  He may not be aware of everything but he is unfailingly gentle.  Always has been.  I think this struggle has revealed his true nature.  And it is kind and gentle.

So I continue to be thankful for my Dad's influence in our life.  So glad my kids grew uup with his influence.   So happy when I hear my son Joe Don talk about passion and buy in for Jesus.  It sounds just like his Pap-pa talking about commitment.  Faith legacy.

I do a lot of my blogs about family birthdays and anniversaries.  And I do that because I am grateful and love them, but also to remind you of the people in your family who have loved and molded each of you.  Sometimes blood family.  Sometimes spiritual family.  So if you had a Dad like mine, thank the Lord.  If you have a Dad like mine, thank the Lord and thank your Dad.

Love you Pap.  Thank you God for the gift of a sweet, gentle man who loves you and his family with all his heart -- even if he can't anymore with all his mind. And thank you Dad.  Your legacy continues, whether you know it or not. 

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