Wednesday, December 31, 2008


“Deck the horrs with boughs of horry…” So sang the impromptu Chinese restaurant quartet for the family of the boy “who almost shot his eye out with his new Red Ryder BB Gun.” This infamous depicting of a WWII period family at Christmas came to mind when Virginia and I spent this first Christmas in our new home, minus a lot of the “taken for granted” items not yet moved from our old place.

No, the neighbor dogs did not rob the Christmas turkey, but without a refrigerator we had shopped for something different for our Christmas Eve meal alone. We were looking forward to some Chicken Chow Mein. First, we had forgotten to bring the silverware, so we made do by washing some plastic forks. Secondly, as I attempted to open the cans, we discovered that we had not remembered to pack a can opener. Again, ingenuity stepped in and the “church key” we had been using to open paint cans became the make shift opener. Careful, you can get some serious cuts. Don’t try it at home unless you’re starving. I learned that opening with such a procedure not only will collapse the can on one side, but spray the operator with the contents.

We finally managed to arrange our meal, set up on a card table in the empty den, so as to be able to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”, which I discovered we had not yet moved to our new home. I did dig out an old VHS copy of “The Prince of Egypt” and we enjoyed a revisit with this excellent telling of Moses’ rise as God’s leader for Israel. All in all a good evening as we reflected on the blessings of the season, and enjoyed the special night back in Arkansas.

Of course, the whole episode of “missing” things that make life easier was not complete without a MacGyver clip. You know how it seems you can never find a pair of scissors when you need them, though you own at least a dozen? We were trying to fit shelf paper in the kitchen cabinets, and discovered not one of our collection had made the first load. I finally thought that perhaps I had put a pair in my tool box. Lo, and behold, I had not, but I did spot a red-handle beauty of MacGyver fame. A Swiss Army knife with a scissor blade. I managed one shelf before determining that I did not have his patience in working the gadget. My hat’s off to you, Mac.

As I reflect upon the whole of this particular Christmas experience, I am reminded of how dependent we become, and how much we take for granted. The Christmas season points to a story of truly great sacrifice that is also taken for granted. God’s Son became the “incarnate” babe in a manger, in a stable no less. No warm house, no electricity nor pre-cooked meals, none of the “stuff” we seem to treasure. Not even a Swiss Army knife. And yet His sacrifice which reached to the extreme of the cross gives us a far more valuable treasure than can be found in all of our modern missed things. He gave us LIFE itself, and not just to be lived FOR GRANTED…but for ETERNITY BLISS with HIM! THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR YOUR LOVE AND SACRIFICE. YOU ARE THE TREASURE.

My friends, in the midst of all of our celebrations of Christmas and the coming new year, do not forget THIS PRECIOUS GIFT as you enjoy all of the other bounty He provides.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Well, the day is here! Hoped for, dreaded for we're not ready, sorry, for the friends we must tell goodbye, glad for the waiting is over, etc. You get the drift?

We've a "come and go" traditional office Christmas party from 9-12 am, pick up the U-Haul at 3 pm, and have a crew coming at 6 pm to help load the heavys and get it fairly loaded with only minor small stuff we'll work on tomorrow. Sunday's my last preaching schedule at a church in the AM and a presentation of George Mueller in the PM. Then early Monday we pull out for a several hour trip to our new home in Arkansas, where another crew of friends will help us unload and reverse the whole process - unpacking! We will be returning to stay over the new year to get a final load packed and moved - hopefully by the 5th of January.

Pray for us through all of these activities.

It does remind me that we're always packing, and looking forward to another trip. It is very hoped for. Again, dreaded for though we are ready, many of our friends are not. Indeed, we don't need "stuff" packed, just ourselves and a desire to "be caught up with Him in the clouds" as the scriptures promise. No long hours on the highway to get there, the trip will be instant. A group will meet us but not to help us unpack - all of our time will be spent in reunion with them and the Saviour Who has gathered us into eternity with Him.

In buying this house into which we now move, we've often stated it will be our last move. Here, of course. We will enjoy it and the friends and family for as long as it will be until the other TRIP plans are inacted. We pray you will be ready and join us for that ONE!

Be encouraged today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Under the Weather!

As I began to sit and record and brief blog about the last few days, the words "under the weather" came to mind. For four days I have been fighting a cold, and with the extreme changes in the weather, I have been truly "under" it. I don't suffer many colds, maybe once a year, often less. I don't have sinus or extreme allergy problems or headaches, so really I'm blessed! But this one was a duzy. One night's fever, then one night's hacking cough every thirty minutes was about to get to me. Today's been better, and I think I'm going to get on top of it.

As I thought about being "under the weather" I wondered where we got the term. Well, a little research on google indicated that its early use had to do with the matter of being a sailor on board a ship, and at the mercy of storms at sea. It was a miserable time, hence its description applied to the misery of dealing with a lingering cold or other such short-term illness.

Last Sunday, in the midst of my misery, I had the responsibility to preach for a pastor which I really needed to fulfil. My prayer that morning as I readied myself for church was, "Lord, help me to be able to effectively communicate the message You've given me, in spite of this cold. Give me the sermon time free of the coughing." You know what? He did. I had a whole 30 minutes without a "tickle".

It reminds me that when "I am under the weather" it doesn't have to mean I'm without help. I recall the time when the disciples were out in a boat when a storm came up that caused them to fear for their lives. Jesus was with them, but He was asleep in the boat. They woke Him up with their fearful cries, and as He stood, He commanded the storm to dissolve into a peaceful calm. (Mark 4:39)

Whether the weather is physically pressing you down, or your body bringing the pressure of pain or misery upon you, or even the climate of your emotional and spiritual threatens to pin you down, remember that the Prince of Peace is near and able to lift you "above the weather" where His perspective is awesome. Remember, no matter the storm, He has not left you to "weather" it alone. The weather will change, but He never will!

Be encouraged, my friend!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cluck, Cluck, Putt, Putt, Putt!

Cluck, Cluck, Putt, Putt, Putt! Did you hear that? Yesterday morning about 8 a.m. I was standing down at the south end of the property where our new house is located. Ours is a 1.7 acre that's flat on the front half and slopes on the back. We are surrounded by woods on three sides and only have 3 other homes on the short lane that lies about 50-60 yds in front of the house. We had closed on the house the day before yesterday and had spent the night on air mattresses in the house. (You note I did not say "we slept" on air mattresses. I vowed we'd have our bed in place the next time we go.) But I was awake enough to see no less than 9 squirrels in the first two minutes of my walk, and then I heard "them" in the overgrowth of brush and cedars not more than 50-60 foot from where I stood! Cluck, Cluck, Putt, Putt, Putt! TURKEYS!

A symbol of being home, I guess. We have spent years of ministry here, there, and yon, literally. From Arkansas to Missouri to Texas, back to Arkansas, then Asia, back to Missouri, and Kentucky, but now back home in less than a month. Hearing the sounds of the hills, and the turkeys, you might say, reminds me of how much I have missed my home.

All of this reminds me of where my TRUE home really is. I don't know about other sounds I will hear, but I look for one in particular - the sound of my Saviour's voice saying, "Welcome Home, my child." Now that will be a homecoming for sure! And, of course, it will be a glad reunion all around, with Moms and Dads, Sisters and Brothers, Sons and Daughters, etc. I hope you are in that group, too!

I guess you might say, this new "home" is just another step in that direction. Hey, stop by and we'll go listen. You hear it? Cluck, Cluck, Putt, Putt, Putt!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Vision ReVisited

Last evening our association of churches had their annual Christmas Dinner for the Pastors and Board Members and their spouses. We had some 150 folks, give or take a few, a great program of interactive, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, music of the season, and a great meal. Then the Moderator called me to the platform to reveal what they had been "plotting" for weeks. He presented me with an "only one of its kind" plaque to commemorate my five year ministry with them. I say "only one of its kind" for prominently displayed on it was a picture of a "candy bar" with the words which expressed appreciation for their "upside-down" Director of Missions, me! (Check out my October 14th blog for the Candy bar they chose and why.) I'll post a picture of the plaque later, but the gist of it was exactly the way I would have picked it. I kinda like the idea of reaching outside the box, and it was affirming to see how I may have made an impact in my time as Director.

Along with the plaque, I was presented with a quilt that had all of the names of the 50 churches blocked on it, with space for individual members to sign their names under their particular church. What a memory stimulator for years to come! Then he gave me an album with personal letters written from many of the pastors and members we have had the privilege of partnering in ministry with through these years. I'll have to sit and dwell on that for an age or two. Finally, he handed us envelopes that held checks representing gifts from the churches which had been collected over the past few weeks of planning. How precious are the heartfelt offerings which love stimulated people extend. We are closing tomorrow on our new home in Arkansas and you know what? The gifts more than paid the closing costs and covered the first month's payment, as well. God is so good to provide, is He not? Thank you, West Union churches, for your channeling of His goodness.

As I was given the pulpit to share a few closing remarks in response to the gifts and the love expressed by so many in so many ways, I was at first "speechless". I know, that is a "paradox" in terms, but I was. Then these thoughts occurred to me. First, I shared my impressions of what this five years has meant to me as I draw this part of my ministry to a close with my "retirement". The spirit and harmony of this group of churches has been the most affirming I have ever known. They took me and my leadership with an openness and heart that allowed us to explore new avenues of ministry and missions, fulfilling from year one the call of Acts 1:8, to be witnesses not only in their geographic "Jerusalem" but their "Judea, Samaria and Uttermost", as well. Their acceptance of new ideas and new ways of doing "the old, old story" was truly a blessing to me. I praise God for His mercy in granting Virginia and I such an experience to round out our "missionary" careers.

As I reflected then upon my future vision, I revisited the experience I shared with the "Board" in my first meeting with them after becoming their Director of Missions. I was traveling from Missouri to Kentucky for that meeting and it was early morning with the just rising in the east. As I neared the Mississippi River, through the roadside's moving line of trees I could see the yellow and orange rays blasting through the foliage. I saw in my mind what Moses must have seen on the mountain when the bush glowed with the glory of God's presence. A burning but not consumed and each tree seemed to represent churches that were there, waiting to catch their own fire of His presence and rekindling. I would that I could say that all of them did, but many have, and in ways no one could have planned. Acts of God for sure! As I revisited with them this vision and my coming move back across that mighty river, I recalled again recent trips west at sunset, which have again ignited the trees. East or west, north or south, God's presence is an ever present reality we must ever pursue. No retirement here, when God's call is to fan the flames wherever and whenever we are called to go.

How about you? Facing a change in your venue. The vision from God is always the same, revisit it and be consumed within its flame. You won't be "burned up" if you do, just "warmed" by the glorious light of His presence ever with you.

Be encouraged today, my friend.