Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Why I love Cousin Camp

Well, it is over and we survived.  We had our 5 grands last week for cousin camp:  Anna, Jake, Avery, Andrew, and Austin.  Almost 5 to almost 10.  2 going into 4th grade, 1 into 3rd, 1 into 2nd, and one into last year of Pre-K.

Here are just a few reasons I love it and why all grandparents should do it.

It is an absolute labor of love for Marsha.  She is amazing at what she does, organizes, and prepares.

The cousins really get close and bond.  I think that will pay off in the future.  Family matters.

Interesting to hear that Andrew evidently fell out of his tent one night, Jake just picked him up and put him back in.  We never knew.

Dogs loved getting in and going from tent to tent for treats and petting.

Anna and Avery are getting way to grown up.

Watching the five of them ride horses makes me realize they are going to be better at a lot of things than I ever was.

Fun to hear the others tell lifeguards that yes Austin can jump off the diving board and swim.  And he did.

Watching them spend tickets at the Pizza places is brutal.  Hearing them bargain with the workers is hysterical.

Glad to hear both sets of kids had date nights during the Camp.  Hope Mimi and Pops get one next.

Devos are the best.  Hearing them all recite their memory verse. Having us all pray in a circle and realizing that every one of them is used to praying.

Love hearing them talk about what they saw the others doing that showed Jesus.

Had to wipe away tears when I looked over at church and saw them singing their hearts out.

Only two notes for next year:  remember that the boys (and the girls) are in better shape and are better athletes than Pops is.

And never schedule Cousin's Camp to end on the same day VBS starts.  We are too old for that.

So thanks God for a great week of watching my grands growing in their love for you.  So happy their parents have given them each over to You.  My heart is full.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Avery Grace is 8...

My granddaughter, Avery Grace Gilbreth, turned 8 last Saturday.  Here are some reasons I love her and am really proud of her.

She has the sweetest spirit of anyone I know.  She does not get mad, she puts others first, she forgives quickly, and she is nice to everyone.

She loves her family.  Loves her bubba, her parents, cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.

She is fiercely determined when she sets her mind to something.  Right now, it is gymnastics.  I don't pretend to know if she is any good or not, but I do know she works hard at it.  And whatever team she is on, I do know she is younger than anyone else.

She has lots and lots of friends.  They are all sparky, cute, and love Jesus.  I hope they stay connected right thru school.

Avery loves dogs.  Loves her Lincoln but also likes to hang out with Lulu and Lucky at our house.

She has a special connection to her Mommy, her Mimi, and her Granny.  I call them 1,2, 3, and 4.  It is sweet, holy, and special.

She makes good grades.  Really good grades.  But she also wins Citizenship awards.

She has a tender heart.  Wants to rescue every stray animal and kid she sees.

But most of all, she loves God and Jesus.

Avery you really make Pops proud and happy.  I love you and cannot wait to see what God will do with you and through you in the future.

So thanks God for Avery.  Thanks for the joy and love she brings into our lives.  Protect her from evil and harm.  Use her to change this world for your Son.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


For my brothers and sisters battling same sex attraction...

There has been quite a lot of discussion/argument/debate in churches recently about same sex attraction and marriage.  In the effort to not offend anyone, or to be true to Scripture, or to explain how Christians should -- or should not -- react... I am concerned about a segment of our church that is having a difficult time right now.

I am hurting for my same sex attraction brothers and sisters who have chosen to remain celibate. It is always difficult to battle your demons.  Ask anyone battling sexual addiction of any kind.  Or ask the Christian alcoholic.  Or the brother who is fighting to have a healthy body that honors God..  Or the sister who is committed to not gossip any longer.  It is hard to live the way God asks.

It is a battle to stay sexually sober.  It is frustrating to realize that you may never experience marriage the way most of your church family does.  Not just because you have not found "the one", but because you can't find the one.  And you would give anything to have things be different.  But they aren't.  At least not now.

And now it seems that our culture is celebrating the legalization of what you have made the spiritual commitment to forego.  It must be hard to see these couples celebrating what you will not do.  There are those dangerous thoughts that whisper how that could be you.  Just like for any of us that see culture celebrating and engaging in what we battle.  It is hard to be faithful in a unfaithful world.

And then the church is making it clear how wrong homosexuality is.  You get it.  You know it.  That is why you have chosen celibacy.  And Satan whispers how unfair it is.  No other sin is being publicly condemned like this one is now.  It would be easy to feel picked on.  It would be easy to just give up and give in.

In what is a hard fight, you have to watch the world celebrate what you refuse to surrender to.  And you have to hear the church reminding you how wrong your temptation is.

So to my brothers and sisters faithfully and courageously choosing celibacy and committing to walk the hard road to follow the call of Jesus... you are loved and appreciated.  Your courage will inspire us in our struggles.  We are praying for you.  We are walking with you.  Do not be ashamed.  Be proud that you have chosen to be a faith fighter.

So God, bless those in my church family who battle same sex attraction and choose not to act out.  They are under a lot of pressure right now so protect them from the evil one.  Help us surround them in love.  For your Son's sake.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Mel Nelson, Jerry Mullins, David Lewis, Jesus, and Dying

One of them was pretty well known in Church of Christ circles, one was fairly prominent in Abilene Christian University athletics, and one was well known at Southern Hills church of Christ.

All three died in past couple of weeks.  All three of them are in heaven.

I don't really know if they all knew each other.  Probably not.

I knew them.  Mel and his wife Betty were good friends with my in-laws.  Even up in hospice, I'd go see Mel and he would ask about Don and Jean.

Jerry Mullins was an elder at University when I was doing campus ministry.  I will always remember what he told me during one of the darkest times in my life.  Standing in his front yard, he told me it would be OK and that we would get through it. Now that I am an elder, I have repeated that phrase to a lot of people.  I was honored to do his funeral.

David Lewis was especially significant to my daughter Julie, and to us.  He helped her know how to hang on to Jesus when Satan had really attacked her.  She ended up working for him through much of college.

So, other than knowing me and dying within a couple of weeks of each other, what connects Mel, Jerry, and David?


The world would say they were nothing alike.  I saw three brothers who were very much alike.

They all passionately loved Jesus.

They all loved their family and raised faithful kids who are now raising their own kids to be believers.

They loved their local communities of faith.  They were all involved in doing life together with their brothers and sisters.

They shared their faith.  Givers, elders, counselors, encouragers, carers.

They loved their God and they loved his people.

I am not much like any of them on the surface, but I have been helped on my faith journey by each of them at different times in my life.

And I want to be more like Jesus because of them.  Not just like them, but like Jesus.

And that is exactly what Mel, Jerry, and David would want for each of us.  To be like Jesus.

So thanks God for these men who served you, loved you, and loved us.  I am glad they get to know each other now.  And I look forward to hanging out with them -- and you -- forever.


Thursday, July 09, 2015


Why the world is not listening to the church

I have held off commenting on the recent supreme court ruling on same sex marriage.  But people keep asking me what I think and what the church and/or individual Christians should do about it.  What I want to share today is why I think the world is not listening to the church of this issue.

We are not consistent.  We are very selective in what we say about Scripture.

For example, did you know that in the United States you can divorce your mate for any reason at all and marry someone else.  That is clearly against Scripture, but I do not remember Christians in an uproar over this clearly unBiblical view of marriage.  What the world hears is "divorce OK but not same sex marriage."

The Bible sure seems to indicate you should only marry a Christian.  We sure are quiet about that.

Living together?  Pretty quiet, aren't we?

Seems very inconsistent.  Or hypocritical.

The rhetoric I hear most from Christians is about how our country is abandoning our Christian principles and worry/fear about what is happening to America.  Guess what is not in the Bible?  Allegiance to an earthly kingdom.  America is not a Christian nation.  Never has been.  Non-believers see the inconsistency.

Stop expecting non-Christians to act like Christians.

Start living as citizens of the Kingdom of heaven.

Change hearts, not laws.

So let me be clear about a couple of things.  I do not think you are pleasing God in a same sex marriage.  I do not think you can please God by leaving your mate to marry your co-worker.  I think sex outside of God's design is sin.  Pornography is sin.  Lust is sin.  Withholding sex from your mate is against Bible teaching.  You should marry a Christian.

Why are we so upset about marriage but not about greed?  Or gossip?

I do not care what a country says is a legal marriage.  I am perfectly content to let any couple, including Christians, have a government sponsored recognition of their status.  That makes it legal, not right.

So let churches then do the real marriage ceremony.  Not in the eyes of the state, but in the eyes of God.  Don't let couples spiritually marry without church approval.  They could not get divorced unless approved by the church.  Nor remarried.

And stop being so afraid.  Stand for the truth.  All of it.  If we are persecuted, rejoice.  Stop worrying about what the world thinks of us.  Focus on pleasing God.

And let's try and make our marriages something that honors God.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Joe Don and Jamie have been married 15 years

Our son and his wife Jamie have been married 15 years.  They celebrated their anniversary on July 1.  Here is why I love them and celebrate what God did when he united them.

They are better together than on their own.  They both had lots of gifts and they were both faithful Christians.  But somehow together they multiply their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

They are givers.  They give time, money, and talent to be used for the Kingdom of God.

They care about people.  They have a heart for the downtrodden, for the people that do not know Jesus, and for those who are hurting.

They are intentional parents.  They love their kids, they are involved with them, and they make a concentrated effort to do family life.  But they are most intentional about handing down their faith so Anna, Andrew, and Austin will make it their own faith someday.

They love their extended family:  parents, grandparents, cousins, siblings, nieces and nephews.  They love them all.

They are fun.  They love life.  They laugh lots.  They enjoy hanging out with each other.

They open their home.  Friends, small group, neighbors, family.  That is one of the things that make their house a home.

They bless lives.  There are people who love Jesus more, have healthier families, don't give up ... because they have know JD and Jamie.

Jesus, faith, love, laughter, family.

Those are signs of a good marriage.

Even more, those are the things that make Joe Don and Jamie a powerful force for God's work in this world.

So thanks God for putting them together.  You did a good job.

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