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.