Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gift is Coming!

This Christmas is a bit different from all the ones of years before and not just because it's Christmas Present instead of Christmas Past.   Because Austin and his family have gotten stranded a couple of times in snow on the interstate in Indiana on their way south, we decided to do Christmas with all the kids and grand girls on the day after Thanksgiving.  Lots of fun to be with the girlies when they started opening presents!

So Christmas activities are, more or less, in the rear view mirror for us.  Zannie, Andrew, and I will be going to Gulf Shores for Christmas; that'll be a bit different.  And we have the staff Christmas party ahead of us but things are gearing down now; however...

There is still one more gift Zannie and I are waiting for.  Our house is listed on the real estate market and we are waiting for God to bring us a buyer but that's not all of the gift for which we are waiting.  Zannie and I both strongly feel that our house was exactly the one He wanted us to have when we moved to Alabama.  We are convinced of it!  We are equally convinced that He has a particular house in Decatur for us as well.  We've been praying that He will place us in a house where we can be actively involved in ministry to our neighbors particularly in the area of evangelism.

Just as convinced of His placing us on Blackburn Road are we that He has a very specific house for us in Decatur.  It may still be owned by someone who, right now, has no thoughts of selling it.  It may be in foreclosure.  It may not even be built yet.  It may have been on the market for a long time or just recently become available.  Only He knows but we are on His schedule and in His perfect time we'll know.  We are expecting to literally know which house it is when we see it. I told Zannie this morning that I feel like a kid who sees the gift under the tree; I know it's there but I just have no clue what is on the other side of the pretty paper.  Anticipation is high and gets higher every day but I will just have to wait. I can't cheat by slipping off the paper and rewrapping this gift (not that I would have ever thought of doing anything like that at any stage in my life).  I can't even shake this surprise.  I just have to trust that my Father will choose the perfect gift for us and we will be shown later.  The excitement is building!

I am thankful that we have Him as our real estate agent to sell our current house and we don't even have to pick out our next house.  He will pick it out for us.  We sure do have a great Father!  All good gifts and all perfect gifts, after all, do come from Him.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ensley Kate

It's been a delight to have Grace and little Ensley in Alabama for a few days.  It's given me time to reflect a bit.  This afternoon as I held Ensley, I was taken back to earlier years.  Seeing her little legs almost involuntarily flail as she enjoyed a clean daper, I was given to the thought of how we often flail about in life.  I could see the generalities of her future-she will soon be sitting up, then crawl, walk, talk, and hug.  She will begin to make choices-some good and some bad. She will have to be disciplined and at times even punished.  The love of her parents and grandparents, as well aunts and uncles, will be no less, however.

Yesterday, as I held her innocent little body, I prayed that God would draw Ensley to Himself at an early age.  As much joy as there is in seeing your child win awards, excell in athletics and academics, as joyous the occassion is when they are married or even bear their own children, there is no greater joy than knowing they are born again. 

I have prayed the same prayer for our two other granddaughters and we continue to repeat that prayer. The same God and Creator who made heavens and earth, who has redeemed countless millions can do the same for Ensley.  I am grateful for His power, His willingness, and His desire to do so.

She, like all of us, can continue to flail about in life or she will have to opportunity to discover the plan He has for her.  Just like I pray for Ensley's salvation, I pray for her discovering and carrying out the plan God has custom designed for her.  Salvation secured in heaven and obedience in following Him on earth.  Both very good ideas!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stick With the Basics

I was fed, taught, have studied, and have learned the most basic of Sunday School principles the whole time I have been involved in Christian education. Never have I had the desire to get "fancy, shmancy" with this very critical and effective ministry. For that I am grateful.

In recent days, many of those basic ideas learned have come to light in practicality. After a recent leadership meeting where there was a lot of discussion about "open" enrollment or spinning off the old Andy Anderson "Growth Spiral" statement of enrolling anyone anywhere anytime, my pastor asked me to teach enrollment principles to the whole church last night and next Wednesday. I had a great time and I trust the congregation did as well.

I was excited to enroll a young lady for Sunday School this Tuesday night while making visits then this morning our awesome Latino pastor came to my office with "buenas noticias" (good news). He said that after teaching open enrollment to his congregation they have enrolled two families this week. One of the moms said that we were an answer to her prayers. They had no idea as to where to go to church but knew that we were sent by God. Amen to that!

I've had the opportunity to see God Almighty work in such amazing ways, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others recently. I should not be surprised...just reminded! I will continue to stick with the basics.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seek His Face

In recent days, there have been numerous occassions when I needed to know what choice to make in situations that would effect others as well as myself.  I know that my wisdom is limited, to say the least, and I also know that eventhough my choice matters, I don't know the "unseens".  However, I know that God knows and there are no unseens for Him.

I had to just say, "Lord, this is what I think but I don't want to choose X if You want Y or A or B or something else of which I don't even know.  Please make it very clear as to what I should do."  It should be no suprise that He did.  As a result of seeing Him work in my life, I have begun a daily prayer of  something like, "Lord, there will be things crossing my path today that I, in myself, am not equipped to make a decision on.  Please give me wisdom to deal with what comes my way today.  I am not asking for tomorrow yet, just today."

Earlier this week when I was solicited for advise, I made a couple of suggestions but said, "Ultimately God knows all the details and you just need to get on your face before Him and see what it is He wants."  They did and He did make it clear.

Now here is the problem with all that; why is it that I sit here and write of a principle that all Christians know but so few, including me, seldom practice?  We know the power of prayer. We know the omniscience of God. We have been taught since an early age to seek Him first.  We have head knowledge of the right things to do but flesh, self-will, lack of faith, and who knows what else gets in the way of the implementation.

But the good side is that I am growing.  I am moving closer to Him. And I am daily experiencing how much He can be trusted.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A New Adventure

My new adventure with God started on Monday.  I am the new Christian Education Pastor at Decatur Baptist Church in Decatur, Alabama.  And what an awesome church! The ministry staff, the administrative staff, the support staff, and the people at large are just awesome.  Do I miss the folks at Clements? Of course, I do. They will always be family and will hold a very special place in Zannie's and my hearts. Our family has just enlarged ...a lot!

I don't really feel that I have done anything significant this week because it has been eaten up with getting the computer set up, filling out new employee papers, studying resumes for a ministry assistant, trying to find things in my newly "organized" office, and eating lunch.  This is the most "eating out" bunch of people I have ever met.  I'm liking it...a lot!

I am humbled and in awe of how God Almighty could entrust the education ministry of such a great church to me.  Early in the process of praying about coming here, I told God that I didn't know that I could do all that was required of me here.  Very, very clearly I heard Him say in that still, small, yet very loud and distinct voice, "I don't want you to do it; I want to do it through you." And that is my prayer-that it will not be me doing any of this but me being emptied of myself living in complete reliance on Him.  Then I can watch Him amaze even me.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!  Amen and amen!

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Hello! Goodbye!"

God sure does bring surprises into our lives.  Eight years ago this week, God brought Zannie and me to one of the greatest churches on the face of the earth, Clements Baptist Church in Athens, Alabama.  I was a salesman and passionate Sunday School director who God allowed to serve Him vocationally full-time as a minister of education.  Then low and behold, He decided that it was time for us to go elsewhere.  And I am convinced that, once again, He has placed us in one of the greatest churches on the face of the earth, Decatur Baptist Church in Decatur, Alabama.

For people who change jobs every few years, I suppose it would be rather hard to understand the angst that is taking place in my heart.  On the one hand, we are leaving family.  Eight years is enough time to see see elementary children graduate from high school and enter college.  It's time to see students join the military, get married, have children and start whole new lives.  It's time to see God work in good people's lives who had served faithfully within the body of the church then realize that they, up to that point, only had lots of religion then enter into a personal realationship with Jesus Christ. It's enough time to fall deeply in love with the people God had called you to serve.  It's enought time for them to truly become family.

On the other hand, we are getting a whole new family.  God is the only One who knows whether we'll be at Decatur Baptist Church for another eight years or 28 years.  (That would put me at 87.  I have always said that Caleb was one of my heroes of the faith.)  In any case, God knows and He knows the blessings He has in store for us at Decatur.  We have trusted Him in this time of decision-making and we'll trust Him in the time of transition.  We'll trust Him to bring victory in all situations.

Thank you, God, for wanting only Your best for us. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Few Of My Heroes

Everyone of us has or has had some heroes in their lives. Over the years, I have had many. A few of my heroes growing up were Tarzan, Superman, Rifleman, & Roy Rogers just to name a few. Well, I’ve outgrown these heroes…sort of. Those heroes can be fun as a child but heroes begin to shape your life at some point.

Heroes such as Ann Moore-there are few reading this blog who have ever heard of Ann Moore but she helped shape my life. Mrs. Moore was a high school English teacher who expected no more of me than I was capable of doing but required no less either. For C+ students, she expected no less than a C+ but at the same time understood that to expect more was not realistic. She knew how to get the best out of every student in her class. To this day, I cannot sit down to write something that I am not transported back to Obion County Central High School in Troy, Tennessee and ask myself, “What would Mrs. Moore think of this?”

In 1985, as a young Sunday School teacher and deacon, I really understood the sacrifice and love of Jesus Christ for the first time. At that point I committed my life and my soul to His care a direction for my life. He has absolutely revolutionized my life and my future. He is the ultimate hero!

Then there’s Gene Moss, my dad. I learned hard work, ethics, going to church, and being on time from him. I remember going to the Old & Third National Bank in Union City, Tennessee and borrowing a few hundred dollars as a 12 year old to by some hogs and setting up an account at the feed mill. I remember on the way home him telling me that whether or not I had signed a piece of paper saying I’d pay back the money, my word should be enough. A handshake and a verbal promise to him were as binding as a written contact.

A hero for over 36 years is Zannie Moss, my wife. She has not just told me about and modeled compassion, mercy, and forgiveness for me, she has lavished all three of them on me when I deserved justice instead.

Robert Raikes is another hero to me. Raikes is credited for his innovation in setting up the first “Sunday school” in 1780 for the unruly children who lived in Glouster, England. Many of you are headed to heaven because of the “out of the box” idea Raikes had to teach the children to read by using the Bible as a text book.

Another of my Sunday school heroes is J. M. Frost who had the ability to look into the future to see the need for a publishing house for Southern Baptist Sunday School curriculum and presented a resolution in the 1890’s which formed the Baptist Sunday School Board.

For his “Formula” for Sunday School, Arthur Flake entered the ranks of hero to me when I read his book “Building a Standard Sunday School.” He taught me long after his death of the great organizing power of Sunday School and the basic principles that has strengthened Southern Baptist Sunday School for almost 100 years. Flake was a layman who joined the Baptist Sunday School Board in 1909 and became the first Director of the Sunday School Department in 1920.

Then there is Harry Piland whose drive and passion for Christian education influenced me like I didn’t know anyone could. His statement, "the word 'retire' is not in my vocabulary," to a group of Sunday School directors in 1994 has let me see that age has nothing to do with retirement. Retirement is a state of mind. Harry fanned a flame for Christian education in me in 1994 that burns hotter than ever today. Harry left LifeWay in 1994 at age 65 to become associate pastor/minister of education at First Baptist Church of Dallas where he served until 1997 before brain cancer forced him to return to Nashville for treatment before he died in 2001.

His predecessor at LifeWay as director of the Sunday School department, Bill Taylor is a hero to me because as I offered excuses as to why I could not become a minister of education, he showed me why and how I could.

One more Sunday School hero to me is Allan Taylor, the minister of education of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA. Allan leads the education ministry for Pastor Johnny Hunt. I have never met anyone who and has more passion for what he does and believes in and loves Sunday School any more than Allan Taylor…unless it’s me!

Then there’s Dr. Frances Grace Moss Wood, my daughter. As she was in undergraduate school at the University of Tennessee at Martin her fiancĂ© (now husband), E. J., was about an hour away at Lambuth University in Jackson Tennessee. On Friday and Saturday nights instead of chucking the studies for time together, Grace chose to close the library down. Her commitment to her studies and focus on the task at hand inspire me to this day.

One more set of heroes before I share with you some of my very favorite heroes. That is the local pastor-he works long hours doing a mentally, spiritually, and often physically grueling task. There is an incredibly heavy load to carry that he can share with no one. He leads under a microscope and has the opportunity at every turn to upset somebody.

Then there is a hero that goes so often unrecognized exercising constant faithfulness with little reward. He puts in countless hours of ministry, study and preparation every week of the year, most often after a full week of work. That’s the Sunday School teacher. Your level of scholarship inspires me. Your desire to minister to your flock causes me to re-examine my own heart regularly.

I have a lot of heroes and there are a lot more people than me who are looking at you as heroes. Live your life not as a hero but as a servant of Christ. Pour yourself into the task and invest in the lives of others. Wouldn’t it be great to have Jesus say someday, “You are one of my heroes!”?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

God's Creative Genius

It seems a bit understated to refer to "genius" and "God" in the same sentence but that's just the weakness of the human language...or at least my grasp of it.  However, as I recover from my recent surgery (removal of 12" of my colon), I can't help but think of  how He designed the human body.  Yes, it is true that I had a part to become defective.  But, thankfully, I had a very good doctor to do some mending. 

I can detect improvement everyday and am extremely grateful.  The interesting thing is that God didn't design us as we design a car.  By that, I mean that when a part goes out on the car, a part replacement doesn't occur unless it is put in correctly and all the circuits, fuses, and connections are operating correctly. A car repair doesn't improve itself over time. 

God's plan for the human body is that, yes, the part has to be put in correctly or taken out, in my case, but He designed us in such a way for the body to mend itself.  He doesn't "make" it mend or "force mend" it.  He gives us the sense or lack thereof to assist the healing process and understand the changes in our bodies to know when to get off the couch or when to back off physical activity.

Salvation is sort of like that.  God does the work...all the work.  He just allows us to accept what He has done for us and apply it to ourselves or ignore and continue to go our own way.  He allows me to abuse my soul or take care of  it. I am thankful that in 1985, I realized His work and I chose to allow it to do it's work in my own life.

This may be a stretch to compare God's plan for the healing of our bodies and our souls but it is something to think about today.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Upcoming "Events"

This post gives information of my upcoming surgery.  For those of you who read this blog on occassion, you know that I have always had a bent toward pointing others to God and His goodness and not to, in any way, point toward myself.  Last week a Twitter, Facebook, and personal friend made a blog entry about his upcoming surgery.  I thought his approach was a very effective way to give information in a wholesale manner to those who were wanting to know but at the same time, leaving the door open to those who wanted more specific info to ask.  In either case, I encourage you to pray for Daniel Beard.  You can see his blog entry at

Some of you know that I have dealt with diverticulitis (occassional infection in the colon usually cleared up with anti-biotics) for several years now.  In recent days, I have had a persistent problem and have been advised by my gastro-intestinal doctor to have surgery.  After my most recent bout with it, I am in full agreement.  So the consultation has taken place and the decision has been made and scheduled; I will be having the infected section of my colon (about 12 inches) removed on Wednesday, May 19, at the Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville Alabama.  According to the surgeon, I should be in the hospital 3-4 days then about 3 weeks recovery at home.  I think I can cut that recovery time down a bit though.

According to everybody I have talked to who has had this surgery, I will feel so good after it's done, I'll be asking myself why I hadn't done it years ago.  I certainly hope that is the case. On another up side of this, I have already lost about 16 pounds and while I am looking forward to losing another 15 or so, I do NOT recommend this as a weight loss program. 

If you would be so kind to lift up me in prayer as I go into the surgery, I would greatly appreciate it.  Of course, my family as well, especially, my sweet wife, Zannie, need your prayers too.  Please also pray for my surgeon, and every person assisting in the surgery.  I want the "A" team on this project!  Also pray that I will not only have multiple opportunities but that I will be sensitve to seize the opportunities to lift up my Lord and point others to Him while in the hospital.  And while you are praying, remember my friend, Daniel, too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Another Woman

Well, after almost thirty-six years of being married to my best friend, having the most beautiful daughter in the world, and the two most beautiful and smartest grandaughters anywhere by an awesome daughter-by-marriage, it happened! I have fallen in love with another woman. Well, we haven't exactly met yet and she's not exactly a woman yet... What? Read on.

Last Friday while running some errands and listening to my XM Radio, I heard a song I had long forgotten, "Isn't She Lovely?" by Stevie Wonder. The lyrics, in part, read:
"Isn't she lovely?
Isn't she wonderful?
Isn't she precious?
Less than one minute old.
I never thought through love we'd be
Making one as lovely as she.

Isn't she pretty
Truly the angel's best
Boy, I am so happy
We have been heaven's blessed.
I can't believe what God has done.
Through us He's given life to one
But isn't she lovely made from love?"

Somehow God used those lyrics to introduce me to another woman, the newest love of my life, Grace and E. J.'s little Ensley Kate Wood. She's not even a minute old, in fact, she has about four months to go before any introductions can be made but she has already stolen my heart; and Stevie, you had it right when you asked, "Isn't she lovely!?" She most certainly is!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

When We Had Much Less

This week-end our three children, 2 children-in-law, 2.5 grandaughters, and 2 granddogs will be Alabamy bound. This means a great deal to Zannie and me because to have them all together just does not happen but maybe at Christmas. We have had much less time with our family than we would like so we appreciate what we do have greatly!

I remember the time when buying a full tank of gas or eating out was a huge deal because things were just so tight financially. Now that we have more, we appreciate it a lot because there was a time we just didn't have much.

I wonder if when we get to heaven and see all its splendor we will appreciate heaven and say, "You know, this is so wonderful because on earth we just didn't have that much that really mattered and now we have EVERYTHING that matters."

I don't know but it's just a thought for today.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Are You Offensive?

Good Friday! No, let's celebrate "Spring Holiday" instead; that 's the cry of some city officials of an Iowa town. Silly, just plain silly! Good Friday is offensive! Easter is offensive! Jesus Christ is offensive! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive! Why are we so surprised? As long as Christians are a part of this world in such a way to make a difference, we will be offensive. Of course, I am not encouraging being offensive for the sake of being offensive but offensive for the sake of the Gospel.

As I type these words a team of workers are doing some minor repairs on my home. I wait for them to finish so I can share the Gospel with them. Will they be offended? I hope not but, in either case, I know that any offense is not directed toward me but toward Him. It's His Gospel, His Good News, but the news is only as good as the recipient wants to make it in his own appropriation. Yes, it is good regardless but personally good as applied.

For yourself, are you offensive? Not obnoxious, mind you, but offensive because you choose to share the Good News to a world which desparately needs to be "offended." It's just a thought for today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Storms and Suffering

This morning as I began reading my devotions, I quickly discovered a common thread running throughout, storms and suffering. I am a bit of a slow learner sometimes but when the same thing continued to pop up in the different books written by different people during different times, it really caught my attention. In fact, while I know that the words from the devotion writers are not inspired, I was reminded of how God used different men from different backgrounds and over hundreds of years to pen inspired Scripture using one common theme, the love of God for His created people by providing salvation through Jesus, some looking forward, a few looking eye-to-eye, and us looking backward.

As I began to read, I put those different thoughts down on paper and now on this blog. I do hope and pray the words will help you where you have been, where you are right now, or in what you will be facing in days ahead.

"Watch for the storms of God. The only way God plants His saints is through the whirlwind of His storms....If you select your own spot to be planted, you will prove yourself to be an unproductive, empty pod. However, if you will allow God to plant you, you will 'bear much fruit' (John 15:8)." Oswald Chambers

"God punishes the ungodly by ignoring them. This is why they have success in the world--the most frightful punishment because in God's view, this world is immersed in evil. But God sends suffering to those whom He loves, as assistance to enable them to become happy by loving Him." Soren Kierkegaard

"You assume (God) relieve(s) struggle and replace(s) it with rest. But (He) use(s) struggle to uncover a rest beneath the struggle that no anguish can destroy. The struggle with fear and pain will continue. Only in the storm will you know there is an anchor." Larry Crabb

"The Psalms are not an anesthetic. They are not a cup of hot chocolate on a cold night. They are the prayers of someone lost in a dark wood, shivering in bitter cold, unable to stand the fierce wind. They are the praise that flows from that person's heart when he abandons himself to (God) for deliverance, when he trusts that (God's) hand has grasped his and that (God) is leading him home, very slowly but very surely. Job learned that he must die to the hope that darkness and cold and wind were not part of (God's) plan." Larry Crabb

"Your tears will become the melody of a new song. Your darkness will become the wind through which new light will appear. Your doubt will become new ground, solid ground, on which to stand. Expect your theological boxes to explode, to lose all false hope in what (God's) love will provide in this life. Expect your personal dreams to shatter, to lose all false confidence in what (God's) power guarantees in this life. Meditate on each psalm, knowing that (God) is calling you to walk a long road that, for long seasons, you will not enjoy. Then decide, again and again: either cling to (God) as I AM or reshape (Him) into who you want (Him) to be. The stakes are high. Either you will find yourself in finding (God) as (He) reveals (Himself), or you will lose yourself in creating (Him) to fit your foolish expectations. Make the right choice. (He) want(s) you to sing a new song." Larry Crabb

"You are either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or headed for a storm--life is stormy. In the midst of our personal storm, we, too, need the One who used the sea as a sidewalk to save us: we too need to proclaim, 'Truly You are the Son of God.' Only Christ can bring calm in the midst of calamity. It is not natural to have peace in the midst of a storm--it is supernatural! Human nature shuns storms; divine nature stills storms. When faith cries out, 'Lord save me!' the hand of God reaches down and picks us up. Let Jesus bring you victory in the midst of your storm today." Allan Taylor

This is my thought for today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

God's Plan for Holiness

I am reading 66 Love Letters. It is a book written by Dr. Larry Crabb in quite a unique format; it is a dailogue between the author and God about the reason for God "writing" each of the 66 books of the Bible and how Christ is central in each book. In a recent chapter, I was taken by the following quote (God speaking):
"You ask what will work to make your life better, to correct the injustice you suffer, to see to it that more things go as they should in your life. I want you to ask what holiness would look like in your situation, whatever it is; holiness that might not right the wrongs you suffer but that would let us enjoy each other."

I couldn't help but think of what we as American Christians view as "injustice" in our lives; someone cutting in front of us getting "our" parking space, or when we get home discovering an incorrect charge from the department store, or how about gas prices going up 5 cents per gallon on our way back from dinner out and we have to pay an additional $1.50-$2.00 on a fill-up.

Is God really concerned about those sort of things? I am not sure He is or is not but I do know that there are true injustices by anybody's standards in our world-genuine persecution, government graft, physical and sexual abuse of children, and on I could go. I am reminded that God wants deep, personal, and intimate relationship with us; and He made a way for us to have realtionship with Him.

Simply put, He wants us to be more like Him in order to fellowship better with Him; through His Son is the only way. Jesus, Himself, said it well, "I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life; no one comes to the Father except through me (emphasis added)" (John 14:6).

Not to minimize what many go through but God far more wants us holy rather than happy! It's just a thought for today.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Locked Out"

As I was relaxing in front of the TV, I received a phone call from one of my Sunday School teachers with some terrible news; his mother had just passed away. I immediately contacted others who needed to know and headed to the nursing home where she had been being cared for since she had broken her hip a few weeks prior.

I went to the main entrance and by a sign on the door, I was informed to go to the "West Entrance." Well, I did; I rang the bell, buzzed the intercom button, and knocked on the door. No entrance there. I went a few yards to the East entrance and discovered the same sign as the one posted on the main entrance but I ran that bell, buzzed that intercom button, and knocked on that door but again to no avail. I was there to minister and the people on the inside were just ignoring me! To my confusion and frustration, none of my efforts would get me in.

As I stepped away from the door, an aid walked out of the main entrance door and I told her why I was there-to minister to one of my friends and asked if she could help me get in. Her reply was, Sure, I can get you in but he just left." I thanked her and got back in my car.

As I drove home I began to think about his mom being in heaven. Her works, as good and numerous as I am sure they were, would not get her in. There was only one way to get into heaven; a person, the Person of Jesus Christ. I was again reminded that it's nothing but Him and Him alone that will get any one though the gates of heaven. Then I asked myself a question, "Am I offering to help everyone I can to get into heaven; am I introducing them to the one Person who can bring them in?"

Thank you, young lady, for being used by God to open my eyes to an eternal truth. It's something to think about.

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Life

What an exciting gift! As I opened the small Christmas gift, shock and utter delight were experienced simultaneously. The attractive picture frame contained a photograph of our daughter, Grace, and her husband, E. J., holding a hand painted sign which read, "We're Expecting." That brought back memories of the box holding my old Teddy Bear (Ted) opened by my dad during the Christmas of 1978 announcing the expectation of his and my mom's first grandchild. But I drift into nostalgia.

Since Christmas I have had a little bit of time to reflect and think about what is headed our way. I hold with great anticipation the joy of holding that new life for the first time. There's the first smile from recognizing the arrival of "that old balding guy who is going to give me whatever I want." I look forward to hearing, "Pappa D" (or whatever I might be called by this one) for the first time. I can't wait for that first time he/she cries when Zannie and I leave.

As much fun as all that will be, I far more look forward to the phone call saying, "Guess what, Poppa D. I asked Jesus to come into my heart today." I look forward to that call from all of my grand children but back to the newest addition. My heart is so light because I know that this baby's dad and mom love Jesus. They serve Him and they both have a great desire for their children to spend eternity with them (and us) in heaven.

They will take this precious gift, of which they are only stewards, to Sunday School and church each week. They recognize that this child does not belong to them but to God; He only loans our children to us for a while. We are just called to take the best possible care of them while we have them and the most loving thing we can do is point them to Jesus.

No doubt they are already praying for this little miracle as are Pappa D and Mamma Zannie. They are probably even praying for the spouse, born or unborn, who will someday steal a heart and become a part of our family. This is the way it should be when the love of God reigns supreme in a family.

I am grateful beyond expression that our prayers and instruction for so many years bear fruit before our eyes. And life continues; life on earth and life eternal.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Truly Blessed!

As I prepare to leave my office for a two day conference/encouragement session with other ministers of education in Alabama, a few thoughts about the God I serve come to mind.

First of all and foremost, I am so grateful that God Almighty heard my heart and granted the desire of my heart to serve Him and a local church full-time vocationally as a minister of education. I am completely in awe of Him and His perfect will and allowing me to be a part of His ministry Kingdom.

Secondly, I am so grateful that He has brought me to an area where there are so many great ministers of education who are willing to share with, support, and encourage each other. The state of Alabama in general, and North Alabama in particular, truly has some of the finest ministers of education anywhere and the same goes for our state missionaries. Par excellence!

Finally, I am so thankful for the wife God gave me. So often people will mention her in sort of a "she is the standard" way. She is a wonderful wife and I cannot imagine ministry without her. She bring so much balance to my life; my second "Holy Spirit," I often call her.

I truly am looking forward to these next two days. I even get to ride to and from the meetings with my great friend and fellow ME. God truly is good...all the time!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is College Football Scriptural?

I received a text message from another Tennessee fan which said, "Bye, bye Kiffin." As I began to attempt to unravel that cryptic message, I discovered that our head football coach of one year had bailed on us to coach at USC. Frustration and, yes I admit it, anger reigned.

The next morning as I attempted to vent to some of my wonderful Crimson Tide co-ministers, a comparision began in my mind between Lane Kiffin and former UT head coach Phillip Fulmer. Bear with me now; this is just where my mind went.

It is obvious, to my mind anyway, that Kiffin had nothing but himself in mind; not the program, not the fans, and certainly not the players. Fulmer on the other hand with a very strong career at UT, not only as a coach with a National Championship, but also as a player, looked far more into the lasting effect of a decision. His resignation after the 2008 season was one of class. Why the difference?

I realize that any analogy will break down at a point but look with me breifly at something. Athough there are still UT fans who are not Fulmer devotees, there has to be resepct for his love for the University of Tennessee, its traditions, and history, and particularly its football program. His decision to resign as head coach just about a year ago truly, in my eyes at least, was the best thing for the football program, its fans, and the university at large.

Kiffin, on the other hand, had no long term investment in Volunteer history; it was a job and nothing but! During the fall of the year when people begin to decorate for halloween and orange dominates the scene, Mr. Kiffin, more than likely, didn't smile. To drink an Orange Crush meant only a sweet thirst quencher, not what fans expect at every game in Neyland Stadium.

The comparision need not stop with the two coaches. I couldn't help but think of myself and ask a couple of questions. Am I more program (Kingdom) focused or me focused? Am I willing to sacrifice my comfort and ease for the team or is it all about me? Do I want to be more like Lane Kiffin or Phillip Fulmer? Well, in the football sense, Fulmer hands down!

So the title question is posed, is college football scriptural? I believe based on Scripture that all good gifts come from God (James 1:17) so if you believe that college football itself is from Him, then I am fine with that. But the more important question is, do you want to be self-focused or kingdom-focus (Gal. 2:20)? It's just a thought for today.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

For the "Directionally Challenged"

Who among us has not gone on a trip, regardless of the length, and realized that we were, if only momentarily, "directionally challenged?" A trip is one thing but life and eternity are completely others. This morning as I was enjoying my devotional time, I read a devotion from Michael Cloer of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC from the One Year Devotional Prayer Book compiled by Pastor Johnny Hunt. Let me share that with you here followed by some brief thoughts of my own.

As a basis for his devotion, Cloer used Psalm 119:59: "I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies."

"Have you ever been traveling on a journey and realized you may not be going in the right direction? At that moment you have two choices: turn around or continue traveling and hope that you will eventually arrive at the right destination. The psalmist tells us four steps to follow when traveling on life's journey. We begin with concentration. He says, 'I thought.' One thing our Enemy does not want us to do is to stop and think about the direction we are traveling. He surrounds us with thousands of amusements in order to keep us from thinking.

"His thought led to a culmination. He says, 'I thought about my ways.' Have you taken the time to be quiet and ask, 'Where is this path taking me?'

"Once he discovered he was heading in the wrong direction, he made a correction in his journey. He said he turned his feet. Here is the point of decision, the crossroads. Ask yourself, 'Am I determined to keep going in the wrong direction knowing the destination is not good, or am I going to turn around?'

"Finally, the psalmist did not make his decision based on man's philosphy, but according 'to Your testimonies.' His only consideration was the Word of God."

Now I can't speak for you but I know that there was a time when I was headed in the wrong direction (spiritualy speaking) and God moved in such a way that there most certainly was some concentration, many weeks worth. It led to a culmination of all of my false beliefs being challenged and at that point I chose to make a correction. It was for sure from the consideration of I John 5:13 helping me to understand that I could KNOW if I was headed in the right direction or not.

If your "traveling" has not brought you to the point of concentration, culmination, and correction by consideration, let me encourage you to do that right now. This is a very valid thought for today... and I wouldn't wait until tomorrow to do it either.