Thursday, September 28, 2017


Healing in God's Own Time

Some of you remember when our Grandson Andrew had a bad pool accident last June.  Had a badly bruised nerve that kept his right eye from looking to the right or tracking in sync with his left eye.  So he had double vision.  No baseball or basketball.  Difficult to read or watch television. 

So lots of you prayed for Andrew's healing.  Family, friends, and people that did not even know him have prayed.  The Drs. thought time would resolve the issue, but we asked God for the immediate healing. 

Andrew was amazing in his faith.  I know it had to bother him, worry him, and frustrate him.  But he stayed true to who he was the whole time.  Happy, loving God, being kind.  Trusting God.  Believing in the healing.

Thru the summer he made slow progress.  Got better in small increments.  Started school still seeing double. 

And then a couple of weeks ago he looked sideways to the right.  WITH BOTH EYES. 

While he is not completely healed yet, it is remarkably better.  The Drs. are confident that it will heal completely. 

We knew it would.  We just did not know the timetable.  God heard our prayers and He answered them.  In his time. 

I don't know why God chose this time to give the healing.  But He is God and I am not.  He knows why and what is best. 

Andrew will always remember the summer of double vision.  And he will always remember the healing.  So will we. 

God has seen our family through a lot over the past few years.  Sometimes our prayers have been answered quickly and exactly how we asked.  Sometimes it was longer than we wanted.  And sometimes the answer was not what we wanted.

It's OK.  He is God.  And he has proven himself faithful to our family over and over.  So we praise Him.  Just like we did when Andrew's eyes were not coming together.  He is the God of our family no matter what.  And we trust Him.  And we thank Him for this. 

So thanks God for what you are doing with Andrew's eyes.  We are amazed and thankful for your goodness.  We will continue to give you glory and to tell our world of your greatness.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Going Back after 35 Years...

So I preached last Sunday for the church of Christ in Winnsboro, TX.  Same place I worked as an evangelist 35 years ago.  It was not my first time back.  I have gone back and conducted several funerals there over the years, most recently just a few months ago.  But this was the first time to go back and preach and to spend time with them.  So there were a lot of people I did not know, and a lot that I did.

Here are a few thoughts about a great weekend with a great church.

They have four elders.  One was a deacon when I was there.  Another's wife was our babysitter back then.  But one of them was not even a Christian when I left.  His wife was faithful.  He heard me preach, we played some ball together, and hung out some.  He called me the night he was baptized and the day he became a deacon.  Now he is an elder.  Go God.

Still people there who were converted all those years ago.  And there were people there who are strong and active now, but were not when we were there.  Made my heart full.

I got to hang out with some of my family.  Not just church family, but one of my cousins and his kids.  Nice.

We talked a lot about baptisms, weddings, funerals, and grace.

It is a wonderful feeling to answer questions about your kids when they are faithful. 

Marsha could not make it this time, though she has for most of the funerals.

Got tired of the "Marsha looks the same.  Oh, and you sound the same." 

Or, "Glad to see you but we were hoping Marsha could come."

I think they will have me back but clearly it depends on whether or not Marsha comes.

That church has done a lot of good over the years.  Raised a lot of elders and elders wives.  Converted a lot of people to Jesus.  Been faithful. 

It was a taste of heaven.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Jesus, a Rescue Dog, and the Cone of Shame

Lulu is our rescue dog.  We think she probably has some issues from her past that make her pretty insecure sometimes.  Not sure, but can dogs have abandonment issues?  Anyway, she got her tail cut, or bit, or torn somehow last week.  Tried to patch her up but she kept licking her tail.  Obsessively.  Over and over again.  So she got The Cone of Shame.  You know, the large cylinder designed to keep her from reaching her tail.  It had to embarrass her in front of the other dogs.

But oh my did the Vet underestimate Lulu's ability to get to her tail.  Would not leave it alone so ... yep, ended up having to amputate.  We tried to explain it was for her own good.  Tried to explain why she had to quit licking her tail.  But you know how dogs are.  Got another cone.  Got some medicine.  Tried it again.

And we have made real progress.  She is healing up after the surgery now.  Finally got her to let it heal.  She looks a little different but we think she may make it.

All of which reminds me of Jesus, addictions, healing, and grace.

Sometimes it is a new Christian.  Sometimes it is someone who became a Christian at a young age and the battle came when they got older.  Sin addictions.  Alcohol, drugs, sex, work, food, power, attention.  You know what they are.  Chances are you have had to battle some of these yourself.

They often do real damage.  And if not controlled and defeated, they can do permanent damage.

So you do radical spiritual surgery.  You rely on the Holy Spirit, you deepen your Christian connections, you practice confession.  You remove some people and activities from your life.  You manage consequences.  You repent and start in a new direction.

But sometimes you lick the wound.  You cannot stay away from the danger zone.  You try to quit but relapse.

So you surround your wounds with the cone.  Not physically, but spiritually.  You get people in place around you.  You realize you cannot make it on your own.  You commit to be restored by those who will speak truth into your life.  Those who will walk with you.  

But it is not a cone of shame.  It is a cone of love.  People who care.  Brothers and sisters who have been there.  A community of faith that is interested in releasing you from shame and guilt.  A church that is committed to healing you by the grace of God.

But you may look a little different.  You may have a scar or two.  But one day, you realize you are not licking your wounds.  You have survived.  You have been healed.

It works.  Just ask Lulu.  Even better, ask some of us.  Ask me.

God redeems and God heals.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Thoughts on getting old...

So I had a birthday yesterday.  I am 66.  Old enough to retire according to Social Security.  So maybe I really am getting old.  So here are a few thoughts on getting old.

No way is God through with me.  I love what I do for a living.  And I do what I love and get paid for it.  I talk about Jesus and I help others learn to talk about Jesus.  I intend on doing that until the Lord comes... or I die... or I can't.  So maybe this year is it, but if it is then I am going out the way God wants.  I cannot imagine retiring.  If I did, I would still just talk about Jesus, so...

My body knows I am getting older.  I get more tired after long trips.  I still preach with a lot of energy, but sometimes I am more worn out than I used to be.  I suspect my body is wearing out more than I will acknowledge.  And it may be because of the mileage, not the years.

I look old.  Short, overweight, bald guys look old.  I looked 66 when I was 46.  And I may look 86 now but at least there is not much left that can change.

I don't act old.  It may be true that 66 is the perfect age for me.  Look 86, act 46, am 66.  It works.

I love Jesus more as I get older.  I never thought much about getting to 66.  Still don't.  But I do know that every day I love God more and more for what he has done for me.

I love family more every day.  I have been so blessed by all four of my parents.  Three are gone now -- my Dad and Marsha's folks, but my Mom is still going strong at 86.  And my kids make me so proud.  Julie, Joe Don and Jamie are faithful, strong, mature people.  And they are doing a great job with my five Grands:  Anna, Jake, Avery, Andrew, and Austin.  They are a delight and a treasure.  Not any people on earth I would rather hang out with than my fam.

And Marsha is beyond anyone I could have ever wanted to go thru life with.  Married up, outkicked my coverage.  I know I don't deserve her, but so glad I have her.

I am not naive.  I know time is much shorter.  I expect I am well into the 4th Quarter of life.  So I am even more intense about sharing Jesus if that is possible.  More focused on what is ahead of me than what is behind.  And I am OK if the Lord takes me home before I reach 67.  His life and his business anyway.

I am a happy 66 year old.  Life is good.  God is better.

So another year, and well... really who cares?

Age is just a number.  Jesus is life.  Now at 66... and forever.

Thanks God.


Thursday, September 07, 2017


A Great Church in Caribou, Maine

There are not a lot of churches in Northeast Maine.  Of any kind.  Sure not many churches of Christ.  In fact, the nearest church of Christ to the one in Caribou is a good hour away.  The Caribou church has about 20 members.  Over 25% of their church has to drive an hour to worship.  The church has white, black, and brown members.  One family drives in from Canada.

The church used to be about 150 members thirty or forty years ago.  Then the Air Base closed.  No more military families.  Lots of businesses closed too.  

The preacher works full-time at Walmart so he and his family can stay up there and do ministry.

But that church will not give up.  They will not close their doors.  They are determined not just to stay alive, but to grow.  And by grow, I mean real Kingdom growth.  New disciples.

And that is how I got involved with them.  Hope for Life agreed to help them in a campaign.  So I got to do a seminar on how to share the story of Jesus.  More than 1/2 of their church participated.  Because they want their friends, neighbors, and families to know Jesus.

I was there a couple of weeks ago to speak in an evangelistic event.  Averaged over 20 every night.  Lots of people they asked did not come.  But they asked.  And conversations about Jesus took place.

God must be getting ready to do something amazing there because Satan is on the attack.  That small group of disciples are dealing with serious health issues, bad family crisis, job struggles, spiritual battles, and well ... you get the idea.

But they have friends and neighbors checking out Jesus and his people.  One sweet lady came every night.  She has been coming to church with her kids.  She even brought a couple of neighborhood kids.  She told me she does not have a Jesus story or a spiritual journey.  Yet.  Life has been hard for her.  Is hard.  But this community of faith is there for her.  Sharing life.  Sharing Jesus.  I told her to be sure and let me know when she decides to follow Jesus.

They have some on-going conversations started.  They have a few people interested.  They are expecting visitors from the community to show up over the few weeks and months.

I like that church.  I am proud of that church.  Even better, God is proud of his people there in Caribou.

They are committed to continuing to sow seed and trust God to give the harvest.

I think he will.

I want to be like them.

So God bless my Caribou family.  Give the harvest they are working for.  Connect them with those seeking you.  Bless the conversations going on even now.  And bless those making decisions for and about you.  Grow your people in Maine. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


What I learned about making disciples from a fishing guide...

My family loves to fish so it was an exciting adventure when we chartered a boat with a guide to fish for speckled trout. There were 5 of us, plus the guide:  my son, Joe Don, and me along with my three grandsons (ages 11, 9, and 7).  The guide explained about how to fish for trout and told us what to expect.  He was very careful with the equipment and started by making the cast for every rod.  He would then fish each one and explain what he was doing and why.  He would show us how to hook the fish.  When he hooked one, he would hand the rod to one of the boys and they would reel it in. 
After a while, the guide let Joe Don start working the bait after the guide had made the cast.  Then eventually my son made the casts and worked the bait.  Then our guide worked with me and then the oldest grandson, Jake.  By the end of our charter, the guide was working with our seven-year-old, Austin, while Jake and I were fishing by ourselves, and my son was teaching his oldest son, Andrew, how to cast and fish.
Our guide explained the process, demonstrated the process, helped us to learn the process, and even let my son begin doing the same with his son. 
It got me to thinking about helping someone learn to follow Jesus. 
When you find someone interested in Jesus, you tell the Jesus story.  You talk about the most important things to know and the most important things to do.  But they are also watching you live as a Jesus follower.  They see how you make choices about life and about serving others.  
You answer their questions.  You walk with them as they start their faith journey.  You speak truth into their life and pray with -- and for -- them.  You will teach, demonstrate, and work together as they learn to live as a follower. 

You will watch them mature into faithful disciples.  Faithful disciples who will teach others to follow Jesus.
We heard how to fish, we watched how to fish, and someone was with us as we began to try it on our own.  And it worked.  We all caught a bunch of fish.
But I have to say my favorite part of the trip was watching my grandsons learn to fish.  And watching Joe Don teaching Andrew.  
Even better is watching them learn to be followers of Jesus.
And they will be even better at catching men than they are at catching fish.

And that makes me happy.

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