Archive | February, 2012

To Wonder About …

29 Feb

I’ve got this little brother in Christ who serves abroad … He told a story recently about his adventures on the mission field that really touched me.

You see, he is still learning a language and working hard at it, yet God uses him in mighty and awesome ways already.  He told a story about the Holy Spirit leading him to someone and how he and a friend shared the Good News with this guy … And, towards the end of the hour-long conversation, God spoke to him in the language he was learning.  (He ended this communique with a prayer request to help him learn the language more, so I see God’s sense of humor in the fact that he spoke to my bro in this language!!)  The words God shared with my friend meant “to wonder about …”  God was telling him that this guy was going to wonder about God more.  To give him a New Testament.

It just got me thinking today:  Here is this young man from the US in a foreign land … still picking up the language … and he is not only not ashamed to share, he is willing to do it in a language that he has not mastered.  No fear … no embarassment … just obedience.  And that is AWESOME!!

You’ll noticed I purposefully haven’t named him.  But God knows who he is.  And many of you might know him, too!!  But I gotta look out for my little bro’s safety.  But if you get a moment, pray for him today!!!

There for the Show or Ready to GO??

28 Feb

Are you THERE FOR THE SHOW or READY TO GO??

Sometimes I wonder what God really thinks of us.  Day in and day out I (along with the rest of Ebenezer’s staff) live, eat, breath, walk, and talk Ebenezer.  It’s in our blood … And we love this church, so it’s not a difficult thing to do.  I will also be the first to admit that none of us are perfect … We all make mistakes from time to time.  I probably make more than my fair share.  I should also admit that I am not qualified to judge anyone … I have plenty of planks in my eyes.  Kind of hard to see the splinters in others.

Sometimes it’s easy to see the fruit in the lives of others, though.  It’s not hard to see when someone is totally sold out to God.  When they believe in His will and follow it as closely as they can.  Sunday night when he shared a testimony in worship, Olin Bullock referred to “giants” in God’s kingdom, many of whom have walked the halls at Ebenezer.  I know some of those giants, too!!  People who believe it and live it.  They bless me!!

One that I won’t name told me recently God convicted him to do more and be more for His kingdom … I look at this friend, this much older man, and wonder how he could possibly be more of an ambassador for God??  This dude is a GIANT!!

When I see and hear faith like that, it makes me ask myself “DID YOU SHOW UP TO BE SEEN, OR TO SEE GOD???”  There is a great fellowship factor at Ebenezer.  Most churches have that factor as well.  But there is more to being the church than just being together!!  Being the church really means BEING TOGETHER AND FOLLOWING HIM.  TOGETHER.  INDIVIDUALLY.  EVERY WAY YOU SLICE IT.

I wish we would all honestly ask ourselves EVERY Sunday, “Did I show up to be seen, or to see God?”  I wish we were ALL HERE and giving God a place of honor EVERY SUNDAY.  And I hope and pray we will ALL be able to answer “TO SEE GOD!!”

Courage

27 Feb

Courage is the stuff inside us that keeps us running towards those things that scare us in spite of the desire to turn and run the other way.  When the fray starts, we all desire to take cover.  It is natural for us to seek self-preservation.  But courage is what causes heroes to run INTO a fire when everyone else runs away.

Honestly, courage is what helps us function in situations that we SOOO do not want to be a part of … Like when we walk through difficult times with family and/or friends.  Life can take all of us down roads that are difficult when we will see some of those we love run for the hills, and some will walk with us no matter how tough.  Those that stay are the courageous ones.

Courage, and trust, and obedience keep us walking in the light of the Lord even though everything in our minds tells us to do things our way.  God has a much better plan for each of us than we could ever conceive.  When we let go, admit this, and follow Him, it takes great courage and faith.  And that is something we lack …

But today, your challenge is TAKE COURAGE.  FOLLOW HIM REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE WORLD TELLS YOU.  WHEN YOU KNOW HE IS LEADING YOU, JUST FOLLOW HIM.

TRUST HIM!!!

The State of the Church 2012

26 Feb

Building vs tearing down

23 Feb

One of the great temptations that face each of us is a huge matter of pride … to build monuments to OURSELVES!!  It is a great temptation for every person, and church leaders / pastors are not immune from this trap.

We, as the New Testament church, have to constantly evaluate everything we do against God’s word.  EVERYTHING we do needs to point to Him … NOT to us!  If we are being honest with His word, we will build the kingdom and even build up others who are seeking to do the same.  Even if they are not part of our local church!

When we use our words to tear other people down and/or other churches, we are damaging the kingdom and not glorifying Him at all.  Yes, even if we think it is in the name of building our own church up.  Remember:  There are false prophets and even pseudo-churches out there.  There are counterfeits.  And the best thing we can do for the kingdom (and for the lost that are seeking Christ) is BE THE CHURCH GOD CALLED US TO BE.  And allow HIM to sort all of those things out.  He doesn’t need our help in this one!!  He just calls us to BE THE REAL THING.  Don’t allow yourself to be pulled down into the games people play!!

Pray that YOU, no matter what church you call home, will be an agent set on building His kingdom and not tearing it down.  And if we all do that, He WILL be glorified and His kingdom WILL grow stronger .. because HIS people are being obedient!!

Forgiveness and Obedience

22 Feb

“When we fail to forgive, we are merely placing ourselves in a prison of our own pain.  And the one we haven’t forgiven probably doesn’t even know it …”

That is roughly the quote I heard this weekend as we were away on our excellent adventure to Del Rio.  It’s true and it’s sad.  And it’s a matter of disobedience to God.

Jesus said if we forgive others, our Father will forgive us! And if we do NOT forgive, our Father will not forgive us! (Matt 6:14-15)   He told us not to judge and not to condemn.  To forgive, and we will be forgiven!  (Luke 6:37)

Do you think forgiveness is an issue of obedience??  Jesus is clear!  But it’s hard when we feel we’ve been wronged.  We’ve all felt this way.  And, honestly, we’ve all wronged someone else.  That is a fact of life.

So, the bottom line is this:  Are you going to obey God, or not??  You say, “It’s not that easy.  It’s more complicated than this.”  Jesus says, “Yes, so was the cross.”

What will YOU do with His words?

The Final Leg of the Journey

20 Feb

Saturday morning we got up … ate breakfast … and waited.  Waited for the caravan of cars to go back to Del Rio.  Then, in a strange twist, the caravan left us.  Long story.  But we made our way back on our own!!  (All I need is Mr iPhone!!!)

We actually beat the caravan back by about an hour, since they stopped for pizza.  Here is where the Omni Colonnade part of the story starts …  Yes, the great Omni Colonnade of San Antonio, where I shall NEVER stay again!!!  Our issues started last Tuesday when Diana was trying to make sure Mom and Dad had a wheelchair-accessible room.  The rocket scientists that work there kept transferring our call to the national reservation hotline, who told us we HAD to talk to the local folks and would transfer us back.  After the local folks picked up and hung up on us twice, we decided to wait a day or two.  On Friday, Diana called and finally convinced them to talk to us and NOT transfer us back to the national folks.  She made the necessary arrangements and even got Mom and Dad a noon check-in time.  We thought we were set!

We arrived at the Omni at 2pm.  Mom and Dad’s room wasn’t ready, but ours was!  If not for the handicap accessible room, we would’ve camped them in that one.  But we waited for the room that was supposed to be better set-up for the wheelchair.  And we waited.  And we waited.  And 3pm check-in time came.  And we waited.  No room.  No room until 4pm.  And it wasn’t even wheelchair friendly!!!  By that time, Mom and Dad were so tired it didn’t matter to them.

Long story short, we got settled in and went out for supper.  When we got back … went to bed .. went to breakfast early Sunday morning.  Then found out that Jake’s cousin had been ROBBED!!  Well, at least his room was … Someone took his MacBook Pro, his iPad, and his iPhone from his room.  It seemed like an inside job, but the front desk reminded that no one really knows who got it.  The police came out, filed a report, and that was all.  Housekeeping was in our rooms after we left for supper, because they left a little something in each room.  I thank God no one took my MacBook Pro or my iPad, which was charging and in plain sight.  Moral of this paragraph and the last:  DO NOT STAY AT THE OMNI COLONNADE IN SAN ANTONIO.  (Ironically, Diana had read a story about the exact same thing happening to another person a few weeks ago at the same hotel on the web.  Staying there wasn’t our choice … )

We left our hotel, ran downtown, did the high-speed self-tour of the Alamo, and got to the airport.  Once again, the US Air folks were great.  TSA left a little to be desired.  We got back to Charlotte and found it cold, rainy, and 40 degrees.  We got Mom and Dad loaded back up, on I-85 South, and we headed home!!

In the five days of this trip, I flew over 2,200 miles and drove over 800.  I’m tired!!

Day Three

18 Feb

Yesterday was the formal graduation.  We went to the base early, to the Rudolph Anderson Hall … (Rudolph Anderson was a U-2 pilot shot down during the Cold War.  He was also a native of Greenville, SC!!)  There, Jake won three awards:  Highest scores in the pilot aspect of training, best officer, and he was one of two distinguished graduates.  I smell a career if he wants it.

Afterward, we went out to the flight line where my sister and her ex pinned his wings on him.  We took tons of pictures and we were done!!  FOR THE DAY!!  And it was 1pm!  There was a formal dinner last night, but my sister knew better than to let my dad (or ME for that matter) attend … No Clampetts allowed!!  We had lunch so late that mom and dad didn’t want to go anywhere last night.  I went to Wendy’s drive-thru at their request.  So, that left Diana and me to explore the nightlife of Del Rio!

Off we drove, into the wild dark yonder, driving fast through the terrain …  And wishing the van was armored.  Remember, we are about 1.5 miles from the border.  The hotel clerk recommended a place for my trusty iPhone took us there.  No dice.  Had Diana allowed me to bring my gun, maybe … but no dice without it.  We then hit the Urban Spoon app on my iPhone and found a place that got good reviews and high ratings.  But it was off the beaten path …

Ponchos!  It was a family owned and operated restaurant.  (Do NOT confuse this with the chain in New Orleans and other cities that is an all-you-can-eat Mexican place.  DEFINITELY NOT that one!!)  This restaurant was the authentic Tex-Mex we’ve been looking for.  And I think Mexican food is now ruined for me …  It was THAT good!!

Today, we drive back to San Antonio and basically wait on our flight tomorrow …  Would love to see the Alamo and Riverwalk.  Gonna try!!

 

Day Two

17 Feb

We got up yesterday and immediately set out for Del Rio, which was almost a 3 hour drive from San Antonio.  I drove on yet ANOTHER segment of US-90, which runs from Florida to Japan (probably) and is the road New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is on.

This segment of 90 is kind of barren and brushy.  Texans have assured me this is NOT a good sampling of what Texas really looks like.  I write this to you now about 1.5 miles from the Mexican border.  This is an interesting place, to say the least.

On the drive down there were two fascinating road signs.  One of them said “Welcome to Hondo, Texas. This is God’s country.  Don’t drive like hell through it!”  The other, in the middle of nowhere, said: “Do Not pick up hitchhikers … They are escaping inmates.”  It was a serious sign and a sobering reminder we were driving past a prison …

Anyway, Drew and I got to go spend some time in a couple of simulators.  I’ve got to say the USAF has the COOLEST COMPUTERS!!!  Then we all attended a “Retiring of the Colors” ceremony.  There I had an unexpected surprise:  I had to remind Dad that he is unable to stand when decorum would require standing out of respect for the American Flag.  He understood.  When they played “Retreat” and then the National Anthem, Dad sat up as straight as he could and held a salute the entire time.  I really wish I could’ve taken a picture, but I refuse to disrespect our flag like that.  But it was a special moment, and one I won’t forget.

After a reception at the Officer’s Club and most of us going to a restaurant in town (I came all the way to Del Rio, TX to eat at CHILI’S!!!), the day was over and we all collapsed in bed.  The end!

Day One of the Mega Journey in the books

16 Feb

Why is it a mega-journey??  We’ve never tried to do anything remotely like this with Dad since he’s been in the wheelchair.  And, all things considered, the folks at US Air earned their money yesterday!! They basically transferred Dad from his wheelchair to a rolling stool and rolled him in and out of the plane.  Dad really wasn’t able to help much with the transfer … But between the US Air guys and Drew, we made it happen.

So, now I sit in one of THREE different hotels I’ll be in for this trip.  We make our way to Del Rio in a few hours and the graduation festivities begin today.  Informal stuff today, formal stuff tomorrow.  Hoping Mom and Dad are up to this!!