Out Here Hope Remains

There is hope for the helpless ... Cry Out To Jesus. -- Third Day

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Empty Space

Today I said goodbye to an old acquaintance. I have lost a tooth. This tooth has been with me ever since it made it's appearance sometime after my baby teeth fell out. I don't know when that was. I don't remember when this tooth made it's way through the gums and became a permanent part of my life. To tell you the truth, I paid homage to it a few times a day with a brush, but never really gave it much thought as an individual. When this tooth decided to make in impression on me, it decided to do so in a such a way that I could not ignore it as an individual any longer. There was this abscess that skirted the sinus cavity. There was a cyst on the root. There was the root canal that was ineffective. And there were three dentists ... Each more specialized than the last. Today the oral surgeon placed a small needle into the top of my hand. I think it was less than 60 seconds before I was submerged in a world of anesthesia. I knew nothing except being awakened and told that it was over. I've been through a lot with that tooth, to have our relationship end in such a cloudy murky way. But my tongue tells me that my experience with that tooth is now ended. Permanently. In between pain medication today, I have had moments when I wondered how I would make it down the next buffet line without my old friend. Oh...So now he's an old friend? Someone I didn't even notice before he started making waves. I guess what's done is done and we'll see how it all comes out. I could make some spiritual applications here ... How we ignore God until we need him ... Or ... Even how we have people in our lives that we really do not recognize as so important until they are gone. But I'll leave that to the reader. I am about to go take another pain pill and see if tomorrow I can learn to live with my new empty space.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Confusing Times

*Today white people across America who have never liked Jesse Jackson were singing his praises. *Johnny Cochran lost his case, permanently. *Geraldo Rivera had Jerry Falwell on his show last week. He said clearly that if he was living on a feeding tube he would not want anyone to take it out no matter what. Today Falwell is in the hospital fighting for his life. *There was an earthquake but no tsunami. *The Pope, who deplored the removing of Terry Shaivo's feeding tube is now having a feeding tube inserted. *Koffi Annan had all kinds of ethical concerns about the US invasion of Iraq, but will not step down now that he has been outed for profiting off of the food for oil program. *Deerfield Beach, Florida beach is closed due to sharks. Someone ought to make a movie about that.

Monday, March 28, 2005

5Q4 Interview

I am participating in an interview that is interactive (aren't they all?). I will answer five questions posed to me by Kel . Then I will offer to interview the first five people who comment on this post and request to be interviewed. Then you who volunteer will post your interview on your own blog...ok...got it? Here we gooooooo....... KEL: I notice 4 DVD's on your wish list. Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Carribbean, The Others and Star Wars trilogy. If you could only have one of them, which would you choose and why? JD: Ah... an easy one... Star Wars Trilogy - beause there's three of them. In a world where more is better, three is better than one. Nemo wasn't for me, it was for my grand daughter - so I figure her mom can spring for that. Pirates is a great movie, and The Others is my favorite scary movie ... but Star Wars...well...no one movie can beat that trilogy! KEL: You posted recently about re-thinking sabbath principles. Did you decide to take a break from blogging on Sunday, or do you find it a valid expression of the relational side of sabbath? JD: For me, blogging is a sabbath ... a rest ... a time to get inside my own brain and find ways to express how I'm feeling. As such it is therapeutic and centering. I try to take my Sabbath rest otherwise on Fridays ... do something relaxing, or engaging, or out of my ordinary track. I definitely see a spiritual side to blogging ... if it is authentic. KEL: What's the latest instalment in your dental drama? JD: Very timely question. Thursday morning I will undergo oral surgery to remove the tooth that has already cost me hundreds of dollars! I will have to be put to sleep (a first for me) and I'm not looking forward to waking up! Thursday morning at 10:30 I will be in another world - and glad of it because of what's going on in my mouth at that time! Of course following that, the dentist wants to talk implants, bridges, caps, etc. I don't think so! KEL: Why did you start a blog and what was the date of your first post? JD: This blog has evolved through several stages. It is not my first blog. This blog began with a collaboration between me and our youth minister at the time. Unfortunately he never did post more than once, so I asked a few other people to join me in posting. They are all friends and good people - but not consistent bloggers. It seemed like I was the only one consistently blogging, so I just asked them to not blog here any more (sign of true friendship) and it is now just my baby. Of course I LOVE comments ... so I hope for lots of those. The first post on this blog is July 26, 2004. What will we do for a birthday celebration? KEL: What does being born in the year of the Rabbit tell us about your personality? JD: Now I don't know how to answer that question...but ... the qualities of a rabbit I see in myself ... are... hmmm ... I don't have a cute fuzzy tail ... I don't like raw vegetables ... If I'm anything like a rabbit I think I wander around and graze ... stopping in one place for a time, but then moving on a bit ... keeping a watchful eye out for those who might want to stop me! (Ok, that's a totally dumb answer, no eggs please! No! Not even easter eggs. sheesh.) OK, now to keep the cycle rolling...which five of you want to be INTERVIEWED on your blog ... and remember ... you'll interview five others later on.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Intermission Over

Thanks for participating in the intermission! I'm too whipped to post anything much tonight...but a few pictures of workshop friends are available HERE.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Ladies and Gentlemen, we will now have a brief intermission that will last approximately five days. This is a great time to get up and get some popcorn, grab a coke, visit the restroom (not necessarily in that order), and chat a bit with some friends. I am heading up to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the International Soul Winning Workshop tomorrow. Lord willing we will spend five days in joyful fellowship, Bible study, and wondrous worship of our Abba. Pray for our safe journey. Now since I know that many of you check this blog every day (there must be hundreds of you!) ... and I would not want to leave you without something ... here is what I would love to happen! Whoever visits this site...and every time you visit ... leave a comment. That way, whoever comes behind you will have something new to read rather than this corny post. What do you say? And it goes without saying that I will enjoy reading the comments when I return! (If perchance I can get on while I'm at workshop, I may check in on your progress!) So how about it! The intermission will be over before we know it ... and the show will start again. So if you were in the lobby with all of your blogger friends, what would you tell them today?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Interview With A Man Who Desires to Be Happy

Before reading the following interview of myself (how vain is that?) ... I recommend you read Psalm 1. I: What does it mean to you to "delight" in the law of the Lord? Me: I think it means to find joy in the law... which we could glance over easily - but how many of us delight in being told not to do something we would like to do? Further, how many of us delight to read the passages that challenge us and cause us to submit our hearts when we are drawn to sin so strongly? There is a deep inner delight at the molding process of God's Spirit that is far removed from the way we generally use the word "delight" today. I: Do you think Christians "delight" to study the Word, or treat it as a task that needs to be done, or neglect it because it is time-consuming? Other thoughts? Me: I want to say that I delight to study the word, but when I do I am convicted that I do not study as much as I could / should. There are many causes of neglect ... a refusal to sit still long enough to engage Abba through the word ... An unwillingness to accept the challenges of the Word ... a poor perception of the Word, leading to a sense of boredom. I think I have experienced all of those perspectives at one time or another. (General vague term meant to disguise ongoing struggles!) I: Meditating day and night on the Word seems daunting. If you meditate on the Word, what forms of meditation do you regularly use? Share with us what you think the word "meditating" says to you as you consider the Scriptures. Me: Ben recently was here at Central sharing with us some meditation techniques. I have not tried them. My times of meditation have mostly been to be isolated times outdoors, speaking out loud to Abba, and then sitting quietly and just let my thoughts go. Sometimes this is a waste of time (it seems) ... at other times I feel that I have some new clarity. I: How does delighting and meditating on the Word of God help make our lives stable and stronger and prosperous? Me: Nobody knows what we need more than Abba. When His will becomes our own, there is no recourse but stabilty, strength, and prosperity. Although, I hasten to add, those may look differently in the reality of Abba's eyes, than in the deceptive shades through which humans view life. I: Do you feel more like the fruitful tree or the wind-driven chaff? If you feel like the chaff, how can you change your view of yourself to become more like the fruitful tree? If you feel like the fruitful tree, how do you use the spiritual fruit in your life to lead others to the water of life that you have found? Me: I feel differently at different times during the day. If I have allowed some sin to creep up on me, especially when I thought I had left it behind, then I feel like wind-driven chaff. The only plus there is that it drives me to remember God's merciful grace and seek His forgiveness. Sometimes I feel I haven't taken God's gifts to me and used them as clearly to point others to Christ as I should ... and sometimes I'm not sure how to do that. I: The Lord watches over the way of the righteous. Is this to determine if we are fruitful tree or chaff? Or, is this a protecting watch? Or is it simply observation? What do you think? Me: I think it is more than observation, I think it is the loving gaze of a Father who watches his children tirelessly. I have no idea how many things there are from which God has protected me. His providence is incredible.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Pay Attention

In a very swift moment of inattention, you can do something really dumb. I am willing to bet we could make a list a mile long of things we did when we just were not attentive. A knife sliced through a finger. A key was locked in the car. A door was left unlocked. The iron was left on. A juicy tidbit of gossip escapes. A word that seldom disgraces your lips finds its way to audio. A wrong turn in the city. A kiss became an act of passion. The list is endless. Isn't it amazing that the one moment of inattention can lead to a brief but significant mistake? This mistake could have long-running effects. I think that many of the things that haunt us personally are the result of the moment when we caught ourselves by surprise. We're not alone. Noah, unexpectedly, got drunk after his rescue via the ark. Abraham said of his wife, "She's my sister." David said, "Bring Bathsheba to me." Peter said, "I don't know him," and began to curse. Ananias said to Sapphira, "I have a really cool idea..." Paul said, "John Mark is unreliable. I won't travel with him." A Corinthian said, "I am of Cephas". And me. My list is very long. And unfortunately, it stays pretty current. Abba help us to always pay attention ... for the enemy stands ready to strike when we let our guard down. Amen.
"We must pay more careful attention, therefore,
to what we have heard,
so that we do not drift away"
[Hebrews 2:1]

Thursday, March 17, 2005


We have purchased a wireless router / network for our church office. That's a simple purchase, but it is not such a simple installation! I spent most of yesterday afternoon on the phone with technical support persons. I talked with several of them, in fact. I think a few of them were in India. They asked me different questions and seemed to have different approaches to solve the problem. The problem? Oh, well the router doesn't work. I thought you would have assumed that. I assumed it wouldn't work before I took it out of the box. Things like this never work for me. Not only that, but I was caught between dueling tech support people. My ISP tech support is not authorized to help me set up the router. They can only help keep me on line. The D-Link people could not get me back on line, they can only help me with the router. Instructions from one seemed to confound the other! My ISP tech support guy was amazed at the questions the D-Link people were asking. He said that these things were basic and they should know them. By then my phone was going dead. Me? I'm just a simple preacher who wants internet access for my e-life, and I would like for my secretary to have access and I bought a product that makes this ... simple. Well, it's not working yet. It doesn't seem so simple to me. Complexities. My life gets complex. Sometimes I feel alone because my problems are not 'one-size-fits-all'. I have weird problems. I have written about recent dental visits. It seems that the dentist has given up and the tooth has to be pulled. The two dentists I was seeing have both declined to pull the tooth because the abcess is too near the sinus cavity for their comfort. The endodontist told me I was the one they read about in textbooks but seldom see. Thanks. So I've got to see dentist #3 - an oral surgeon. Dentist = $. Endodontist = $$. Oral Surgeon? My guess is $$$$$$. I'm thinking about the string-and-doorknob approach. But it isn't that simple. How am I supposed to quiet my soul with all of these complexities? Do I actually have time to be led beside the still waters? Lord, if you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, can I get mine in a go-box? I dont' think I'm going to have time to sit down for a meal. I want to dwell in the house of the Lord forever, but is there wireless internet access? And if not ... can someone else be in charge of getting that hooked up?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Long Time No Blog

Well, actually I did write a great blog post...maybe the best one ever... but blogger ate it. And I didn't have the heart to do it again. Tonight at our youth outreach service some blog friends came to visit. Chris Lockhart and Krazy Kenny were present for some praise and worship! Chris did a great job encouraging us. You might spot them in the AROUND CENTRAL IN MARCH folder located HERE. Between dentist appointments and church stuff and life stuff and other stuff ... just haven't been blogging much...but I did write down a few ideas today ... and maybe tomorrow I'll use one of them for a blog. Just wanted to check in and say howdy.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Would You Like To Step Into The Office?

I'd like to introduce you to Grace. She is strong and beautiful. She has an understanding spirit that most do not have. She is silent, but works hard when needed most. In fact, although she is seldom recognized for her labors, she never stops working. Even when those she serves do not recognize her, she just keeps on going. Grace is employed in the same office as Works. It seems like Works gets all of the praise, while Grace sits quietly nearby. She just watches carefully for the next assignment. She usually doesn't have to wait very long. But Works isn't all bad. He's tall and handsome, and ready to spring into action. Works, however, is so busy and so hurried that he seldom gets everything done just the way he should. He kind of has the idea that if he looks very active, then the small details won't matter. Works has lots of friends, in fact he's the darling of society. Nevermind that Grace is always tying up his loose ends. Works has a desk right next to Judgment. Judgment is not popular at all. When he walks into the office everyone gets quiet. Even if they are not really busy, they try to look busy. Judgment is a great book keeper, but a sorry friend. I don't even know a friend that Judgment has. It seems like whoever dares to get close to him finds that their other relationships suffer. Maybe it's not his fault. Judgment has a job to do, and nobody does it as completely as him. Like Grace, Judgment's efforts are complete and he is never willing to rest when something requires his expertise. Having these three working in the same office would be really difficult. Grace just doesn't really get along with Works, mostly because Works thinks he is more important. He snubs her at every chance he gets. And Grace, lovely as she is, doesn't hang out with Judgment. She's one who brings people together, and Judgment has a way of dividing people. Even Works and Judgment do not especially get along together. Works sees Judgment as as slave driver who is never happy. Judgment sees Works as lazy and self-motivated. Moreover, Judgment and Works see Grace as an enabler who lets too many people off the hook. Really, this office is always in chaos. And I haven't even told you about Mercy, who triumphs over Judgment. Those two can get in a tangle in a hurry. But there is another worker who kind of balances everything together. Somehow she manages to find a way to draw each of them together so that they find the perfect combination of their strengths in order to bring about the greatest amount of good. You see, none of these are terrible people. But when they work outside of their roles, things can get pretty screwed up. The worker in this office who puts it all together in just the right way, is Love. I don't even know how she does it. But I do know that when there is a problem somewhere, usually it is because Love is out of the office. When she returns, I'm always amazed at how she counters the negative, enhances the positive, and draws together the unlikely office staff. All of them are important in their own way, but without Love it all falls apart. "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." [Colossians 3:14] _____________________________ Thanks to JIM MARTIN'S BLOG for sparking some thoughts with his latest post. Also thanks to BLOGGER for the interruption in allowing comments on blogs. All bloggers live for comments. Without comments we stop writing. This thing feeds itself. Come on people, what do you think we're supposed to do with ourselves? We're wringing our hands wondering if one soul in the universe took five minutes to read one of our prolific thoughts. And you ... promise us the world ... and give us ... no comments.

Wow, It's Friday

It's Friday and I haven't blogged since Tuesday night? I better check my temperature! Ben Overby did a fantastic job last night at REFRESH. I'm looking forward to his sessions today at 10:30 and tonight at 7:00. We had a good number present, though I missed some of my coastal friends I had hoped would come. It's a rich presentation ... engages the mind, heart, and soul. His last presentation will be Saturday morning at 10:30. A question Ben asked from last night: Are we building monuments to ourselves in our lives, or are we digging wells? If we dig wells then the water of God will fill our hearts. If we build monuments, what you see is what you get. Kingdom life does not begin with a monument - it begins in a well...as we empty ourselves we can be filled with His living water. Awesome stuff.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

When You Don't Feel Like It

I read an old and kind of corny saying a long time ago. Among all of the things that I should have remembered and have forgotten, this is one thing I remember. Here it is: If you don't feel like praying, just talk to God about it. Simple. But a good thought. Tonight I don't feel like blogging, so I decided to tell you about it. To your left and down the page a bit are several blogs I check regularly. I don't have time to leave a comment all of the time, but I enjoy them. I have added a few new ones. One is Jim Martin's blog. That's at the request of my friend Cecil. I'm glad he pointed me in that direction. Well, that's my non-blog. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Just A Step Up

It's just a step up, but I dread it. It's been on my mind all morning. All I have to do is remove my shoes and step up ... on the scale. And it is at that moment that woman will look at the results of my eating patterns for the past two weeks. Not only that, she will verbalize something. It could be, "you lost...". More likely this week she will say, "you gained." Even worse, she will then write it down on that little card. It will remain there, a stinging testimony to my battle against my will, until I step again the next time. To add insult to injury, I will then pay this woman almost 11 dollars to do this to me. So I decided to write this post before I weigh in. That way I do not have to confess my gain (or loss) because I remain ignorant about it. Oh I know in my heart what it's going to be. But I can truthfully say that I do not know for sure. Some days I feel thinner, and some days I feel fatter. Today happens to be a fat day. There are dozens of analogies between what happens at Weight Watchers and what happens down at church. They are obvious and I won't try to list them here. But I do know that God calls me to step up each day. He wants me to be aware of my sin. Missing those meetings doesn't make my sin go away. He wants me to know that he has taken note of my sin. One thing about my Abba, though, that is different from the Weight Watchers scale lady. When I have stepped up and admitted my fault, my father writes it down ... but then he takes some white-out and marks out the offensive record. He sends me out free and clear. Unfortunately the Weight Watcher lady is not quite so grace-ful. She sends me out with a recognition that until I get things in order that record stays where it is. Thank you, Father, for pointing out my weaknesses and faults - so I can let you work in my heart to make me better. And thank you for erasing those faults so that I do not carry the burden any longer. And thank you that Jesus carried that burden with him to the cross. I have no recourse but to trust Him. And I thank you for that as well.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Shelf Nazis

In all the world there are places that ought to be havens of safety. A home, for example, should be a place that is a refuge from the world. It isn't always so, but it ought to be. A church is a place we go and associate with other believers. It ought to be a chamber of blessings. Often it is so. Sometimes there are exceptions, but it ought to be a place of peace. Another place that ought to be such a place is a Christian bookstore. I'm here to proclaim that this is not so. Enter the Christian bookstore at your own peril. One ought to be able to assume that anyone in a Christian bookstore is either a believer or a believer wannabe. I have noticed that those who work in Christian bookstores are often a bit aloof (forgive me if you work in such a place and you are not that way!). It think it all comes from assumptions. They assume you are a believer. They assume that you know why you're there. They assume that they don't have to be especially helpful or nice, because ... well... you're both believers and we don't have to act better than we are as long as unbelievers are not present. In other words, there is no evangelistic purpose for being nice, so it's ok to be one's usual grumpy self. I could be wrong, but I have sensed this in many Christian bookstores. But worse than that ... are the shelf nazis. Today I had an hour to kill while my daughter and granddaughter were in that most hellish of all restaurants, Chuck E. Cheese. I'm convinced that this is where all bad parents go when they die. Thankfully the Christian bookstore is right next to that dreaded pizza parlor for the spoiled tots among us. I had real leisure time on my hands looking at my favorite things ... Christian books, Christian CDs, and the expected Christian bric-a-brac. There I was slowly making my way down the shelf when I noticed her. Before I go on, I need to explain my own neurotic approach to bookstore shelf gazing. If I turn down an aisle and someone is blocking the way, I just mosey on to the next aisle and return in a few minutes. If someone is looking where I want to look, I just make a mental note and come back in a bit, after they have cleared the area. Not shelf nazis. No way. First she said, "Excuse me" and nearly knocked me into the shelf trying to get by me. I do take up more than my fair share of the aisle, but hey ... don't tempt me to lose my godly demeanor here in the Christian bookstore! Going back to the shelf, I began to pull out a book, look at it, put it back ... when I noticed her again. She was invading my space. Evidently she wanted to see a book that was directly in front of me. Instead of excusing herself again, she just inched closer to me. Now I had a choice. I could stand my ground and make her wait, or I could just wander away and come back to graze here later. While I was thinking about it, she inched even closer ... I could almost feel her breath on the back of my neck. I froze ... craning my head as if I were reading titles, but instead all that was on my mind was ... how close is she gonna get, anyway! Since we're both believers (the assumption) then maybe she thought I would just be humble, move out of the way, and forgive her. It kind of ruined my leisurely time reading the titles of the latest books that are sure to change the world. All because of a shelf nazi ... a brusk rhino who wanted me out of the way. Next time I go in the Christian bookstore I'm going to be prepared. I'm going to hug the workers, kiss them on the forehead and tell them that God loves them and I'm working on it. Then if a shelf nazi horns her way into my space, I'm going to straighten up, turn around and stand face to face with them ... eyeball to eyeball ... take a step toward them ... scowl... and say, "come back later, shelf nazi". I'll let you know how it goes.

The Missing Information

I don't know why I subscribe to our local newspaper. I get most of my news info from the internet and from Fox News Channel. There is one column that I always read when I do read the newspaper. The obituaries. And when I read the obituaries, I always look for one piece of information: church membership. I know that church membership is not the guarantee of salvation, but I always notice when there is no religious information. It may not always be true, but I always think that this person passed away not knowing the glorious grace of Jesus Christ. In the scope of things, I may not agree with the various doctrines taught by various churches ... but I would rather that someone had heard something about Jesus and His love for us from someone ... than to die without that knowledge. I'm not in the business of deciding anyone's eternal fate. God has that covered very thoroughly, thank you. But I do know that Jesus is the only way to the Father. And to not have access to the Father, is to be lost. It might do us good to read the obituary column every day. Therein is found a very substantial reminder of our own predictable end to this part of our journey. In addition, there is a reminder that of all of life's priorities, none is more precious and needful than to draw near to the Father. His will be the comforting hand that saves us and reaches for the grieving left behind. Only God knows the real story of our hearts. Let's live in such a way that there is no missing information when he reads our story.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Between Faith and Panic

There is nothing admirable about panic. I'm not talking about the unpleasant panic attacks that some people endure. I'm talking about not knowing what is ahead in the journey, and the resulting feeling that I ought to "do something". I'm talking about times when the supports that propped you up have been kicked out and you wonder how you are going to stand. You've looked at all of the possible choices, and none of them are good. And so you panic. You wonder if you should choose another path. Perhaps you can head off the potential disaster that looms ahead. Maybe you can make a new decision that will at least offer you the opportunity to know where you're going to land. You start talking to friends that you feel will support you as you make a sudden change. What a difference it would be, if you could face the dilemma with faith. Faith trusts. Faith believes. Faith rests assured in God's hands. Faith knows that whatever is around the corner, God's provision will be sufficient. Faith repels fear. Faith only asks if we are following God's revealed will ... trusting in His sovereign power. I live somewhere between faith and panic. I often feel on the verge of feeling that I must make some significant changes now or else the window of opportunity will have passed. Then I remember how faithful Abba has been to me all of my life. For a time my fears are quieted ... until pragmatism takes over and I begin to wonder what I can do to shape my future. It seems to me that Abraham lived between faith and panic. He lied about Sarai's identity ... twice ... in order to fix a situation that could have been bad. He created a child with Hagar, intending to provide God with a solution to the problem of answering a promise that was becoming unanswerable. But he was the father of the faithful ... and he did leave Ur with no roadmap. Maybe we all live between faith and panic ... but I pray that we will lean more toward faith. May we depend more upon God as He proves himself over and over.