Out Here Hope Remains

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Intermittent Wipers

Watching the scenes unfold on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, The Weather Channel ... anyone who might show video footage from our Pascagoula home. We have heard third hand reports about the condition of town, but as with most of these kind of things, some reports are contradictory. Watching the human tragedy in New Orleans develop leaves me grateful for my relatively easy path through this destruction...and perplexed as to why there has been no relief for the refugees on the interstate. But it's hard to stay focused. Tears come at unexpected times. My hands operating like intermittent wipers sweeping across the vision field of my life. I'm scared I'm making wrong decisions, and afraid that I'm not making decisions that need my attention. I'm considering trying to make my way to Pensacola tomorrow. Friday a group from Gateway will travel to the Mississippi Coast to offer relief and help. I can ride with them and stay with my friend Danny. This would be my first eyewitness of the destruction. We got news today that there would be a gas shortage and no gas would be sold for the next few days - here in North Mississippi! That makes it scary to take a road trip in a minivan. Then I look below my blog post from yesterday and see all the responses. What a comfort and joyh you all are to me. Thank you so much for your love and support. I will attempt to answer all of your questions. Thanks for all of your expressions of prayer, perspective, and comfort. James, I do not know how to get in touch with Les, but he is home. The report (third hand) is that his house is "damaged, but liveable". I'm not sure what that means exactly. Cellular service is down on the Coast. Bill, enjoyed talking to you. Christie, your dad did get in touch with me. Tommy, thanks for the offer. I will let you know when I know something about work crews, etc. Jovan, I did talk to Steve today. He was travelling with an FBI friend to Ocean Springs, then back to Montgomery. If I talk to him again I will tell him that you are trying to get in touch with him. He is in good spirits. No surprise there! Aunt Bee & Karen... my Canadian friends...thanks for keeping up with me. A friend has painted a vision for what can happen in Pasacagoula ... a vision I do not think I could have had on my own ... so I hope to share some of that with you next time I have opportunity. I do not know when that will be. Thanks for all you've done to bless my heart.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Uncertain Certainty

I write this from the public library of Bolivar County, Cleveland Mississippi. We withstood some tropical storm force winds last night even here. As I talked during stormy weather with my friend Danny in Pensacola, I realized that a storm that spanned from the Mississippi Delta to the Florida Panhandle was nothing short of catastrophic. Yet, even that word and the other words... horrific... unbelievable... hell on earth ... leave me a bit speechless and empty. I can't see my house. I can see the damage everywhere else, but I recognize that until I know that MY house has been destroyed, I have a kind of uncertain certainty. The real uncertain certainty is, however, that I have lost my home. I might entertain some notions of rescuing some items of interest, but between hurricane force winds, rising flood waters, looters, and other potentials I haven't even considered, there is nothing left. I'm pretty sure I'm not just being pessimistic, but actually being realistic. Certainty. I have cancelled a weekend with Marvin Phillips to take place in a few weeks, and a men's retreat to take place next month. Those were easy things to do. Now where do I turn for help? How do people do this? And while I'm trying to figure it all out, so will a million other people around the Coast. Still, I'm thankful to be among my wife's family. I am thankful not to be trapped in an attic in New Orleans watching water rise. I'm thankful that I have my loved ones around me. My children are safe. We just have no home. It feels very remote even writing that. I'm sure I do not yet believe it. But that is my uncertainty facing the certainty...the truth. And that's about all I can say at this point.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Closed for the Weekend

Ok, that's it folks. Thanks for all of your comments ... you really do encourage me greatly. If you need some weekend reading, just head on over to WEEKENDERS . If I do any posting this weekend - it'll be over there. I look forward to posting here again sometime Monday, unless Hurricane Katrina interferes. By the way, if you are a weather junkie like I am, you can keep up with a breathless pace of comments on Dr. Jeff Master's Weather Underground blog as he keeps us up to date with OFFICIAL hurricane coverage, followed by dozens of comments of wannabe meteorological buffs. For the record, I'm predicting a landfall somewhere between Gulfport, MS and Lake Charles, LA. Yes, I know that's a big path...but ... that's where I have it. Have a great weekend! jd

Another Fellow's Blessings

Harold Coffin said, “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” Are you in the habit of counting someone else’s blessings? Do you see the boats, cars, homes, clothes, and jewelry of others, rather than your own blessings? Perhaps you are struggling with envy in one way or another right now. In the great “Love Chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, we learn that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” We cannot love someone and envy them at the same time. For when we envy them, we wish we had what they have … and we wish they did not have it. This is a truly miserable viewpoint for life. The way out of envy begins with four steps: *Remember that this world is not our home and all of these things will be burned up in the last day. You are actually envious of ashes! *Remember that God has blessed you so much and in so many ways you cannot write them all down! Why are you worried about someone else? *Remember that envy is a lack of trust in God to give you what you really need. *Remember to pray for the person of whom you are envious. That person needs Jesus and you need to remember that you need Jesus as well. The shade of green that comes with envy does not look good on anyone. Our focus should be on God's goodness to us in our own life, and not on what others have in their lives.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

No Time To Judge

Teresa of Calcutta said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Acceptance of the faults and weaknesses of others is a major step toward developing relationships with them. Accepting and approving are two different things. I may not approve of some choices that some people make, but I can love and care for them as human beings and fellow creations of God. Someone said, “There is little room left for wisdom when one is full of judgment.” Paul wrote to the Roman church, “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'” (Romans 14:9-11) We are not to judge each other because Jesus Christ is our judge. He is the only one who has the flawless ability to render a true judgment. It is not wrong to recognize sin, nor to encourage people to leave their life of sin. That is the good news of the gospel. But when we view people only on the basis of what they do, rather than who they are, then we are sitting in the judgment seat where only God should sit. I do not think He needs our help, do you? Next time you are tempted to judge someone, ask yourself: “where would I be if it were not for the grace of God?” The answer to that question is enough to let you know that all you have belongs to Him. You are in no position at all to judge someone else.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Prayer For A Friend

There are so many wonderful things that are passed around on the internet between friends. Today I saw this and I wanted to share it with you. It’s called, A Prayer for a Friend. I offer this prayer for you. Father, I ask you to bless my friend reading this right now! Lord, show them a new revelation of Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them Your peace & mercy. Where there is self-doubting, release a renewed confidence in Your ability to work through them. Where there is tiredness, or exhaustion, I ask You to give them understanding, patience, & strength as they learn submission to Your leading. Where there is spiritual stagnation, I ask You to renew them by revealing Your nearness, and by drawing them into greater intimacy with You. Where there is fear, reveal Your love, and release to them Your courage. Where there is a sin blocking them, reveal it, and break its hold over my friends' life. Bless their finances, give them greater vision, and raise up leaders, and friends to support, and encourage them. Give each of them discernment to recognize the demonic forces around them, and reveal to them the power they have in You to defeat it. I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name! Amen!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Looking Down

Sarah Brown once said, “Only God is in a position to look down on anyone.” One struggle that Christians often have is the temptation to be judgmental. I can understand why. We study the Scriptures, we know about God’s will, we strive to do what is right … and that makes us better people than others, right? See what I mean? We often think we are better because of our good works. If you listen to people in the world, they do not like church people very much because of this very reason. Benjamin Disraeli said, “How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.” When we are critical and judgmental of others, we are at the same time exercising our own weakness. In Matthew 7:1-3, Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Are you ready to be judged by the same standard to which you have been judging others? We have enough problems of our own without worrying about someone else’s. We need to learn to look beneath the surface actions to the marvelous creature beneath… the one made in the image of God. What Christians ought to do is practice the compassion and mercy of Christ. I believe if we were more interested in serving others than in recognizing their faults, we may be able to reach more of them.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Just in time, the Lord provided a weekend that was such a blessing to me. Some months ago I bought tickets to two Atlanta Braves baseball games at Turner Field. As time got close, I realized that the pocket change was in short supply and I didn’t think I would get to attend because I couldn’t afford the hotel room. An anonymous friend stepped in and paid my way. I wanted to refuse, but to tell you the truth I NEEDED to get out of town for a few days. I humbly accepted. It was a great trip with some close friends from Ocean Springs. I made some new friends on the trip as well. Sunday was a good day as well at our church. A friend was baptized into Jesus, and that brought us all a great deal of peace and happiness. We had lunch with almost twenty friends at a freind's house. Sunday night we had a Coast Wide Worship Service at the Saenger Theater in Biloxi. Christians came streaming in from Slidell (Louisiana), Bay St. Louis, Lucedale, Moss Point, Ocean Springs, Vancleave, Gulfport, Long Beach, Orange Grove, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. It was an awesome night of worship. My friend Les presented an excellent message. After that great event, my wife and I had a late supper with one of our deacons and his wife… dear friends. We talked until we just couldn’t talk any more, then went out in the parking lot and talked another thirty minutes. I’ve been pretty tired today, but I did visit the hospital, taught a teen discipleship class, and went to the track and walked a mile and a half. I also got to see Chipper Jones’ winning home run for the Braves tonight on television. In actuality, nothing much has changed about what’s happening around my place. But, a loving wife, time on a road trip with the guys, witnessing a new birth, worship with my Family, and connecting with friends, have all served as means by which the Lord has gotten me back on center. Plus I have to really thank all of you for your supportive comments. It’s good to know that others go through the same things. It’s also good to know that there’s a way to see it all through. In all of this I think God was showing me that He has got everything in His hands. That’s all I really need to remember when I look around and think that things have gone nucular on me. There are tough days ahead. My Abba will walk with me through them all. Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead Yesterday is a promise that you've broken Don't close your eyes, don't close your eyes This is your life and today is all you've got now ---Switchfoot, This Is Your Life

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Will You Leave Too?

In the spirit of sharing your heart as therapy, this blog is just raw. One of my friends thinks I expose too much of my thinking here. I rather think it’s better to be real and just let you know what’s up. I have no idea how many of our church members are reading this blog regularly. I hope that none of you are still living with the expectation of an elite super-preacher who never cusses when he stubs his toe. If you need me to be that, I would advise you go rent Pollyanna and have some popcorn and soda. As far as I know, though, you know better! Well, in case you haven’t detected it yet, this has been one tough week. I’ll be honest and tell you that it’s one of those weeks when you feel like there’s a message coming through loud and clear: YOU CAN’T DO THIS ANY MORE. I’m just not sure where that message is coming from. I skate on the edge of self-doubt anyway, so it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge. I suppose disappointment can only come from those we admire. If we didn’t admire them, and they let us down, we wouldn’t be surprised. So, in one way, the level of our disappointment is a pretty good measure of our estimation of another person. I’ve been here before. “Here” being this place where you feel the supports falling out from beneath you. The unexpected departures. Desertion from one you trusted. No, he’s not willing to talk about it. Yes, he’s made up his mind and nothing you say can change it. No, he will not be specific about what the problem is. Yes, he will pretend nothing’s wrong when he sees you out in public. No, he will not be back to church to explain to others. Yes, you will have to do that, John, and you deserve to bear that burden. Left behind to offer unexplainable explanations. Untenable options swim around in my mind about how to respond, and how not to respond. Even so, I believe that Out Here Hope Remains. I know that others have been in my situation before. I’ve read Jeremiah’s tears and his desire to leave the prophet business. I’ve read an old Apostle’s tear-stained papyrus as he wrote about one of his disciples who had gone back into the world. I’ve sensed the fleeting moment of doubt as Jesus asked, “will you leave me too?” Where else would I go? I’m hanging on, though. I’ve got some fresh challenges in front of me. I’m not afraid of them. Though the world (and some Christians) has tried to teach me not to trust, there are close friends that I trust. Our elders have been strong and steady in my life. I really do believe that Jesus is never far away. Well, that’s how I’ll round out this week. See you Monday. It's hard to think about what you've wanted It's hard to think about what you've lost This doesn't have to be the big get even This doesn't have to be anything at all I know you really want to tell me good-bye… Stop draggin' my my heart around ---Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty


re·cruit : To engage (persons) for military service; To strengthen or raise (an armed force) by enlistment; To supply with new members or employees; To enroll or seek to enroll. Recruitment is a natural part of Christianity. Some of the last recorded words of Jesus send us out to be recruiters – to enlist lost people into God’s family – or to enroll them into the kingdom. I know the analogy is only partial. Discipleship is more than signing up. But I think it can be demonstrated that part of our natural evolution as disciples involves making disciples. This is good. More, this is necessary as we expand into darkness with the light of the gospel. In my city there are probably 20% of our citizens in any kind of worship assembly on a Sunday morning. We could be generous and say 30%, but that would be a stretch. So the vast majority of people in our city are not associated with any kind of church. Why, then, are some Christians focused on recruiting other church’s members when there are people who never hear much about Jesus? How the dead are awakened! In our church, like every church, people have chosen to leave over the years because of one issue or another. Almost without exception these are people who have never taught anyone the gospel, seldom volunteer for anything that is evangelistic in nature, do not bring friends with them to the assembly, and have never offered any innovative ideas for reaching the lost around us. These non-recruiters suddenly spring to life, however, when they are finally motivated – motivated to leave and find a new church. Then they become super-recruiters. Phone calls, letters, and continual harassing of their friends back in their old church are the new order of the day. They go from being fearful and effectiveless to doing everything in their power to get people to leave our church. Why couldn’t they have put that kind of energy into reaching out to the 70% of people in our city who do not attend church? Now some of them drive 30 miles or more to go to another church. Why couldn’t they have put that much interest into the church here while they were here? There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. [Proverbs 6:16-19] This kind of recruitment sickens me. When people in one church attempt to recruit from another church, it is a kind of spiritual cannibalism. It is a destructive kind of self-justification. It is a denial of everything we know about how the church should function. It is anti-kingdom, anti-family, and … well … anti-Christ. Troubled times Caught between confusions and pain, pain, pain Distant eyes Promises we made were in vain, vain, vain If you must go, I wish you love You'll never walk alone ---Separate Ways, Journey

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Family Is For Not Saying Goodbye

Family is for not saying goodbye.

That's the way it's supposed to be. If you are family you love, and you suffer through. You fight, and you make up. You give and you get. You let some things go, and you sometimes pin each other down. You rejoice in laughter, and you suffer in tears. But you do not say goodbye.

The weight of our own sin and judgments of each other is heavy. So when it gets to feeling heavy, you call on each other. You talk it out. You come to an understanding. You figure out a way. You spend a little less here, and a little more there. You ask for someone to forgive you, or you tell them that you forgive them. You embrace even while your heart is breaking. But you do not say goodbye.

You do not have clandestine hook ups with others.

You do not send letters to sever relationships.

You do not pretend that the situation is hopeless.

You do not speak lies about each other.

You do not just disappear without a word.

You do not undermine the family you left behind.

You do not forget what we've been through together.

Family is for not saying goodbye. Otherwise what good is it? I know that things sometimes do not always work out the way we would like them to. I know we grow disappointed with one another. I know that I have failed my family often. I know that some could not forgive me. I know that some have failed me. I know that there are some I've had a hard time forgiving.

If I can shout for a second, CAN WE PLEASE STOP LEAVING ONE ANOTHER?

This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about ... the church. [Ephesians 5:32]

I took it all for granted, But how was I to know

That you'd be letting go, Now it cuts like a knife

--- Cuts Like A Knife, Bryan Adams

What Shouldn't Be Passed Around

Frank Clark said, “Gossip needn’t be false to be evil - there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.” Like most people, I enjoy sharing information, news, interesting things about others. When I'm not paying attention that can easily fall into the category of gossip. I doubt that I know of many things that can do more damage and that has caused more destruction in the Body of Christ than this habit. Have you ever been the victim of gossip? I think we all have at one time or another. That ought to be enough to tell us that gossip is evil. But how often do we find ourselves talking about other people? How easily do you share the details of someone else’s life with another person? Do you justify it or explain it away? Or do we recognize that gossip is a sin? In 2 Corinthians 12:20, Paul expressed his fear for the church there. He said, “I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.” James, the brother of the Lord, wrote, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9-10). When other people think of someone in whom they can confide, do they think of you? Or are they afraid to tell you what is on their hearts lest you tell other people? We can make light of gossip sometimes, but it is truly a dreadful habit. There is a Spanish Proverb that says, “He who is caught in a lie is not believed when he tells the truth.” If gossip is a vice in your life, work hard to eliminate it. It will deaden your Christianity.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Setting the World Right By Decree

Is it just me or is the new Pope a pesky little critter? He's certainly made a name for himself in his new role. It seems like every other week I'm reading something he wants the world to do. This week he wants us all to put crucifixes on display in our homes. I'm sure there are some devoted Roman Catholics who will make sure they do what their new leader suggests, and some who will rebel at the notion and will not. But my point is that there are a hundred things we might wish people would do, but the world is not going to be set right by decree. I think the world is set righter (never to be set right except by Jesus Christ) when the people of God put their faith on display. Hanging up resin images of Jesus is not a sin, but neither is it the answer. To one degree or another most all religions get in trouble when they try to set the world straight. It is true that for evil to grow, good men have to remain silent. On the other hand, I believe that for good to increase in the world, Christian people are going to have to actually act like Christians all the time. This will not happen because I say so! It will happen because when Christ is formed in the submissive heart of the believer, lives are changed. And no decree can accomplish that.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Headin' Out For The Weekend

Well, it's Friday. Over on the WEEKENDERS blog, we've been itching for the weekend to get here. I'm not planning to post anything else here for the next few days. Anything I post will be over there! Come on over and join in the party. By the way, if you'd like to contribute something on the weekends to the WEEKENDERS blog, just let me know! Everybody's workin' for the weekend Everybody wants a new romance Everybody's goin' off the deep end Everybody needs a second chance ---Working For the Weekend, Loverboy

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Led By Anger?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Grow angry slowly - there’s plenty of time.” That’s good advice. Often we can ‘fly off the handle’ so quickly that we say and do things without thinking. This can cause a lot of stress in our homes, at the workplace, among our friends, in our marriages, and even in our churches. Sometimes we feel that we have the right to be angry and to express that anger. But most of the time when we are expressing our anger, we do so in sinful and inappropriate ways. When Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth, he expressed, “I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20) Twice in the book of Ephesians, Paul gave us some sound wisdom about the subject of anger: Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” In Ephesians 4:30-32 he wrote, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” James wrote, "...Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1:19-20) There is a French proverb that says, “Anger is a bad counselor.” That is a good way to express that we are not to be people led by anger, but by God’s Spirit.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Short Races

Louis Pasteur said, “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” Perseverance is a key quality for a Christian. I believe that Christians ought to persevere … stick with it … never give up … and when they fall, get right back up on their feet and get right back on that Christian path. Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” You and I both have sometimes wanted to give up on this Christian race. Life’s struggles have made everything difficult. We have prayed, and read your Bible, and attended church - but we still struggle with unbelief, doubt, temptation, sin. Things haven’t gone the way we had hoped they would. Sometimes we blame God as if we have kept our part of the bargain, why hasn’t He? What if Jesus had felt this way? Do you think he would have carried his cross all the way to Calvary? Do you think he would have allowed wicked men to slay him the way they did? No, Jesus never gave up. He had tremendous perseverance. Walter Elliott was right when he wrote, “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” We must not become discouraged by looking at the long race of life. Just concern yourself with today. Tomorrow you can worry about tomorrow. You’ll know what to do then.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What I Would Like About Space

I'm going to do what I do best in this column, speak from ignorance. Today the world held it's collective breath while space shuttle DISCOVERY touched down in the California desert early this morning. I cried and I really do not know why. Perhaps relief that this was not another COLUMBIA tragedy. Truly, I do not understand a single reason why we spend billions of dollars to send people up into space for 13 days. I have read about all of the things we wouldn't have if it weren't for the space program. I just wonder if NASA hadn't discovered these things, would someone else? Is the space program a necessary part of the technological evolution of the human race, or is it simply a consensual partner in the enterprise? Anyhow, that's not what I'm writing about. I'm writing from ignorance, remember? I thought it was appropriate to load up some Electric Light Orchestra as I write about space. Aside from all the useful technological mumbo jumbo, I wanted to share with you what I would like about space. I think space would be quiet. Living between a world-class refinery and a nationally endowed shipyard, I never hear the quiet. When I visit places in the country, the thing that almost startles me is the very loud quiet. It's so quiet that it's simply blaring! Without a factory churning out product, absent an automobile with a sound system designed to raise the dead, and away from televisions endlessly shouting commercials at us, I think space would be silent. I would like that. I think space would be peaceful. Even though I revel in Hollywood productions like Star Trek and Star Wars, space is the final frontier of peace. It's the place that man hasn't turned into a war zone (yet). In space there are no suicide bombers, biological weapons, nuclear stockpiles, or grenade throwing radicals. At least none that we know about. It is in a space station that the Russians, the Chinese, Americans, and others share a table. I think space would render me weightless. Do I need to explain this one? And I guess that's why I somewhat regret space exploration. In our dreams we can travel among the stars and find silence, peace, and brotherhood. If we keep intruding into this beautiful expanse, how long will it take for us to turn it into the noisy, polluted, exploitive, violent place that our planet has become? Oh, I know that there's plenty of space. And even if we lived on the moon ... or mars ... we could set our sights even farther into other galaxies. But are there children laying underneath the stars tonight in some far away land, or someplace so close yet unknown to me, who are going to sleep hungry while we fret about rocket boosters and heating tiles? Would a thousand dollars be a lifetime income for them while we expend billions to the deterioration of our universe. We've been poor stewards of the earth. Let's leave the night sky for the dreamers to dream, and let's change an impoverished world. I'd like to leave it alone. That's what I would like most about space. Mister blue sky Please tell us why You had to hide away for so long Where did we go wrong? ----Mr. Blue Sky, Electric Light Orchestra

Monday, August 08, 2005

A few pics of the Wreck

We're Glad It Wasn't Worse. Little Honda CRV held up pretty good in the roll over. All of the pictures I took can be seen HERE.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Call That Changes Everything

Today began with an unexpected turn of events. I had only been in the office about 30 minutes. I was finishing up power point for the morning worship when my mother called. They were coming to Central today to worship. About 20 miles from my home they lost control of their Honda CRV and ran into a ravine, rolling at least once. Mom called on the cell phone. I got there before anyone except a state trooper. A couple was there who saw it and were keeping them company until help arrived. Turns out he is the preacher for another church of Christ here in town. I didn’t even know they had a preacher. I was very happy to meet him, and very happy to know what kind of person he and his wife were. They were ankle deep in mud and muck comforting strangers. Somehow I beat the ambulance to the hospital where both were checked out and discharged. They are very shaken, and some hours later I think they are still somewhat in shock. Words like "lukcy to be alive" and "God was watching over us" have been repeated today. I brought them home tonight and will stay a few days to make sure they are ok. Pray for them as this has really been a nightmare for them. For me, yes, but more for them. Have you ever had one of those calls? You know, the kind that change all of your plans, no matter how important the plan was? Good calls…and bad calls … tell us about the call that changed everything, even if it was only for a day.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Weekend Update

Not much blogation this week on my part … maybe next week I’ll rev up again. Tomorrow I’m taking a busload of teens to Six Flags New Orleans. Sunday is a pretty big day for us with lots going on. Perhaps there’ll be something new here late Sunday night or Monday. Until then…don’t forget to check out the WEEKENDERS blog. And in the column to the left you can find a link to my List-O-Blogs. That should keep you busy if you’re looking for a great read. Have a super weekend. Love to know what you’re up to … if you want to leave a note!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

If God Were Dead Today

It is told that a certain sister with a forked tongue was a member of a church for 40 years. After the service she walked toward the minister. He was standing by the door greeting people. It was obvious she had something on her mind. She opened her mouth to complain and said, "Preacher, if God were alive today, he would be shocked at the changes in this church!" * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "If God were alive today..." I reckon she meant to speak of Jesus still walking on the earth as he did in the first century. Still, I wonder if that isn't what some of us are thinking. We know Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He does not change. The truth does not change. I know that any time the term "I know" is used, postmoderns awaken in a confused state. However, I really do not think that anything we do within the confines of the "one-hour-a-week-worship-service" would surprise God at all. As if one could surprise God! God could, however, be dismayed at what we have done to our assembly. Do you think that Jesus, when proclaiming the coming Kingdom, ever envisioned a pew-filled cathedral where people would come and practice religion? I believe he knew about that kind of thing ... and he spoke out against it pretty strongly. My friend Steve has one of those "Religion Kills" t-shirts ... the kind with the fist holding the hand grenade. It is striking. It make me wince. But I know it is true. I just wonder how many Christians know that their religious acts are not the calling of Christianity? Patrick Mead is writing some heavy stuff about Christianity taking place away from the building. We need to hear that message. At some point along the way I adopted a belief that stated that if the worship service was pretty good, the rest of the church stuff would fall into place. I know now that the worship service will be a farce if our lights are snuffed out as we re-enter the 'real world'. I'd like to turn the statement around ... the one at the end of that urban legend I started this column with. How about this: "If God Were Dead Today, We Might Be Shocked That There Would Be No Changes In The Church." Does our existence depend upon a living God? If so, how is that demonstrated? If not, then what have we become?

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Day Returns

The Day Returns The day returns And brings us the petty round Of irritating concerns and duties. Help us to play the man Help us to perform them With laughter and kind faces Let cheerfulness abound with industry Give us to go blithely on our business All this day. Bring us to our resting beds. Weary, and content And undishonored, And grant us in the end The gift of sleep. Amen. -Robert Louis Stevenson Prayers Written At Vailima

In the land where he would die, Robert Louis Stevenson composed this simple prayer. It is a morning prayer that, to me, glories in the ordinary day. A day in which we face those things that vex us, we face our duties, and we face both with joy. What goals he has prayed for our day: weariness, contentment, and honor. Let's not leave out that precious commodity so often lacking in those nightowl bloggers, sleep.

I would consider this a wonderful prayer for the beginning of our day. We've spent too many days trying to avoid weariness, allowing those irritating elements to make us grumpy, and rushing through our work just to get it done. I don't see how we can go to bed undishonored, as Stephenson suggests.

Many things may muddy our day. Let's let our spirit look upward as we face the trials. And if it too difficult, then let us at least begin our day with the request for God's help. If we fail, the day returns tomorrow for us to attempt to do better.

Until one day the day will not return. As it didn't for Stephenson. As it won't for us, save the coming of the Lord.

What did you really want out of today? Think about it.