Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Clois Fowler and Neil Lightfoot are home...

It is always bittersweet when heroes of faith go home.  So glad for them, but hurt for the families.  Glad for no more suffering in this world, but know that there is now a difference in the fabric of this life.  Glad for heaven, which is why these two men are heroes of mine.

Clois Fowler ran Herald of Truth Ministries for 25 or so years.  Worked in development another 12 or so.  He did that because he had a passion and a vision for our world to know Jesus.  I came to work after Clois had retired, but have always been conscious that I stand on the shoulders of those who went before me.  Clois Fowler prayed, gave, administered, planned, and worked so that our world might know Jesus.  Batsell Barrett Baxter, Harold Hazelip, John Allen Chalk, Lynn Anderson, and Landon Saunders were able to share the words of Jesus because of his passion.

And God used Clois to build something that lasts.  Herald of Truth is still sharing the words of Jesus with our world.  Juan Antonio Monroy, Tim Archer, Tony Fernanzez, and I get to share Jesus because of the vision of Clois Fowler.

Neil Lightfoot was one of my Bible professors at Abilene Christian University.  Except I never thought of him as a professor.  I always thought of him as a Bible teacher.  I learned to love the book of Hebrews in his class.  He was one of those who cared about me as a person, and not just as a preaching student.  Loved the Lord, loved the Word, loved the church.  Influenced literally hundreds of preachers.

His work continues also.  Lots of us -- his former students -- still preaching.  I get to serve as an elder where some of his family (kids, grandkids, and great-greandkids) worship.

For both of these men, their deeds follow them.

So thanks Clois Fowler for helping to make it possible for me to go all over the world and talk about Jesus.  And thanks Neil Lightfoot for helping me know what to say when I do.

See you soon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Today is my birthday...So what?

I turned 61 today.  And no, I don't feel any older.  No, it doesn't bother me.  And yes, to me it is just another number.  And if I knew this was the last birthday I would ever celebrate on this earth I would not do much of anything different.  But I do think I will tell you why I have had a happy birthday.

Joe Don and his family came in last weekend to celebrate.  JD gave me an awesome dove tree (you have to bird hunt to even have a clue what this is).  Went hunting with me even tho we knew there weren't going to be many birds.  Best part was getting to hang out with him.  Great b'day present.

Andrew and Anna both called to wish me happy birthday.  Loved it.  Austin chewed on the phone but I am sure his heart was in it.

Jake and Avery are giving me a party Friday night.  Part of the fun is I get to take them to the Wylie football game.

All my kids called, or texted,  to wish me happy birthday.

Mimi made chocolate pie.

I ran early this morning.

Mimi and I read the Story and prayed together.

Herald of Truth staff had a party for me.

About 200 friends called, texted, Facebooked, or emailed me.

So what makes me happy today?  God stuff, family stuff, friend stuff.  I think that about says it all.

Thanks God for all my blessings.  Way more than I deserve.  Help me use this year of life to bring you glory and tell others your story.


Friday, September 07, 2012


Football, cults, and church...

My grandkids are Wylie Bulldogs.  Jake is in 1st grade and is a Little Bulldog.  He and his family have a adopted Bulldog player that they support.  They decorate, support, encourage, and cheer for him.  All the football players have been adopted like this.  Jake goes to every game in his Bulldog jersey.  He can't wait  to play football for Wylie.  Just like like every other little boy in the district.  They won't all be good enough, but they sure won't miss on any potential players.

Avery is in Kindergarten.  She is on the Pup Squad.  She goes to every game in her little cheerleader uniform.  Loves Wylie sports.  Can't wait to grow up and cheer and/or play for Wylie.  Just like every other little girl in the district.

Which means every set of parents and grandparents are big fans and supporters of Wylie athletics.  Every family in the whole district supports them.  Which may explain why have as successful an athletic program as I have ever seen.  Football, volleyball, tennis, basketball (girls and guys), baseball, and on and on..  You name the sport and they are good at it.

Because every kid out there wants to grow up and play/cheer for some sport at Wylie.  They indoctrinate them young.  They make them feel a part of Wylie athletics starting in Kindergarten.  Older kids take time to mess with the little kids.  Hero worship.  Role models.

Don't misunderstand.  If you are from Wylie, you love this.  If you are not,,, then you hate it, make fun of it, call it a cult, say they are brainwashed, and complain about the peer pressure.  And Wylie continues to win.

I wonder if that would work in the church.  Oops... sorry.  No brainwashing.  We don't want to be a cult.  We want our kids to make their own decisions about church.  We are even afraid to make them go to church.

And we wonder why so many of our kids leave church.

Maybe we could learn something from Wylie athletics.  Expectations, involvement, role models, heroes.  And don't worry about what outsiders think.

You see, the truth is that I indoctrinated my kids about Christianity.  I was much more worried about what their faith would look like than I was about what outsiders might think.

It was the right decision.

So... go Bulldogs.

Even more... go God.


Tuesday, September 04, 2012


And sometimes your church identity can change...

I have been talking about how every church has a certain identity.  That is, things that make them who they are.  It is a congregation's DNA.  And remember, I am not talking about core convictions, but rather those things that become special for each church.  At Southern Hills, it is missions, evangelism, youth programs, and our singing.  There are lots of other great things that we could be known for and may be known for some day,  but these are the ones that have been core to us for 50 years.

But sometimes your identity can change.  It may be by design, or it may be that there is a gradual shift to something different.

Not any more.  Someone reminded me that years ago, the Southern Hills visitation program was well known and respected.  Almost everyone participated.  It was part of who we were.  We don't even have one now.  Not good or bad.  Just different, and no longer part of who we are.  

Maybe not any more.  For years we have been known as "the place" for university students to worship.  That is not the case any longer.  It was not always an intentional emphasis, but it was true.  Not now.  Again, it is not something we have chosen to change, but it has.  It may change again.  It may not.  But I am reminded how much it is part of our identity because when the students are not with us in large numbers, everyone talks about it.

Will it last?  We have a couple of recent things that seem to be becoming part of our identity.  Don't know if they will last, but they have really gained momentum.  One is our Children's ministry.  It is not that we did not have this before, but I have people mention it to me when they find out where I go to church.  So it is clearly something we are becoming known for.  The other, and I have talked about this, is our reputation as a second chance church.  This one is a little more intentional.  Phil, our preacher, and I both talk about this a lot.  It will be interesting to see if this sticks and becomes part of who we are long term.

But the point of this little series is to help everyone realize that churches, like families, have certain things that matter more than others.  Things that make us unique.  Knowing what they are make it easier to explain things to perspective members, make it easier to get the right fit with ministers, and help realize why it is so hard to change some things.  And maybe helps us realize why change, or a real shift in emphasis, is difficult.  Maybe not even worth it.    

Thinking thru this was helpful for me as an elder.  And reminded me of some of the reasons I love Southern Hills.  I hope it helped you think about your church too.  And reminded you of why you love where you are.  

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