Friday, April 29, 2011

Stuff To Do

I am amazed at how much stuff we have to do.  I remember as a kid sitting on the couch in the middle of the morning saying, “I’m board.  There’s nothing to do around here.”  I would be so excited when summer was coming to a close and school was about to start.  Of course I made sure that no one knew that about me, but it was true.  I just wanted something to do.  Now it seems that there’s not enough hours in the day.  Here’s the strange thing.  If I’m not careful and purposeful I can work all day and not really accomplish anything.  I find myself tired and unfulfilled.

A wise person once said, “Live everyday on purpose.”  I have tried to take that thought to heart.  I have come to understand and appreciate that everyday we have is truly a gift from the Father of lights and should not be wasted.  We are so good at becoming “busybodies.”  Running here and running there; and after all the running we really haven’t gone anywhere.  I say life is to short.  What did you do today?  Did the day count?  Was there purpose and meaning?  Did the World change because you got up this morning?  We do have that power you know.  We have the opportunity to change the world simply because we are in it.  It’s 10:30 at night and I have been running errands all day long for my family: Shopping, cleaning, mailing, filing.  I even went to the DPS and scheduled a time for I first born to take her driving test next week.  And with all that, I still didn’t clean off my todo list.  But that’s O.K. because I have tomorrow, or I don’t.  That’s not my call.

Today was an odd day for me, because in the mist of all my business I really didn’t interact with people that much today.  Scott and I had a conversation about Revelation and the men that write about it. (One of the highlights of my day by the way.)  Other than that I didn’t talk much.  I went to several stores doing what I had to do.  I was in a sea of people, but just kind of doing my own thing.  I called Kim several times today (because I miss her like crazy.)  But for the most part it was just me.  The ironic thing is today is my day off.  I don’t know; maybe for a minister that’s what a day off means.  I don’t have very many of those to be honest with you. I must say except for the 2 hours it took me to change the spark plug in my motorcycle, I had a pretty relaxing day. 

One of the things on my todo list was to clean the downstairs bathroom.  I think I will knock that out real quick and then enjoy it by take a nice hot bath.  If that sounds feminine to you,  You don’t understand the therapeutic nature of a long hot bath and you’re missing out.  I might even top it off with bubbles, because I like bubbles.  I have to be ready to change the world tomorrow.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bad Things, Good People

One can’t help but think as you look at a person like Kathy Umholtz, Why would she have cancer?  Kathy has always been a God-fearing woman; she’s gone to church all her life; she reads her bible through “The Daily Bread” everyday; she gives to the church and others, and has always taken care of her family.  It would seem that God would have favor on her and spare her from any harm that this world would bring.  It would seem this way if God was a control freak and did everything His way.  The truth is harder to handle than that.  God is not a control freak.  The Bible tells us that God created the World to be inhabited (Is. 45:18).  That means that the whole purpose for the Earth is for Mankind to live on it.  When God created mankind, He gave Man dominion over all the Earth.  Man had the ability to do with it whatever he wanted.

Adam had a choice to walk with God and in the righteousness of God, or to follow the ways and whiles of the Devil and turn from God.  Making the choice would not only determine the fate of Adam and the human race, but also the kingdom which he controlled.  When the King is cursed so is the creation.  You can’t have a corrupt King in a perfect kingdom because the king will corrupt it.  It’s no secrete that Adam chose to walk away from God, and as God promised, he died, and the world died with him.  The corruptness of Adam  corrupted all the creation for Adam.  Think about it: What if death came into the world but there were no flies to take care of the carcasses.  There would be rotting flesh everywhere.  My point is that the king (Adam) cursed his kingdom with death. 

If we look at this issue from God’s perspective, we see that God created the world and Man for his pleasure.  And we know that God created man in his image.  So we can look at ourselves to understand God is some respects.  I get much pleasure out of being around people that want to be around me.  My friendships do not consist of people that are forced to be around me.  As a matter of fact, when I find out that people don’t want to be around me, I will give them the opportunity to go and do whatever they want to do, because I take no pleasure in forcing people to be with me.  From what I gather of the character of God, He also takes pleasure in those that take pleasure in Him.  He desires friendship, partnership, and fellowship with those that desire such things with him.  What kind of God would he be to force us to love him or be with him.  He would be a insecure kidnapper that had to control his creation.  This is not God.  God says “Whosoever will may come.”  We all have a choice to be with the one who created us for himself; or we can continue to turn from God and do our own thing.

There has never been a time in scripture that God promises to take away all sickness, pain, and/or death in this time of the Earth.  There is coming a day when He finishes his redemptive work on the Earth that he will redeem it and restore it with those that decided to be with him.  As for now you will have trouble in this world.  There has never been a time that the children of Adam have escaped the death that we chose.  There has never been a time that the children of God have been exempt from that trouble.  Our hope as Christians does not rest in this world but in the world to come.  Paul describes a longing for the hope of the restoration in 2 Corinthians 5:1-14.  But in this hope Paul state that it is better for him to stay in this world and share the hope with others (Philippians 1:20-24). 

If you begin to ask the question why you must go back to the very beginning.  Why was Abel killed by Cain? Why was Esau beguiled by Jacob?  Why was Joseph sold into slavery?  Why was Job chosen to suffer?  Why did Jesus take stripes and the cross?  Why did the Prophets of God die?  Why did John the Baptist get his head cut off?  Why did Peter get crucified upside down?  (What’s the matter with you again, I forget?)  Why are people being murdered for their faith all over the World, today?! 

the blessing and conclusion is this: our hope rests in the world to come and God will be faithful to translate us from this place of darkness into his marvelous light.  Don’t be suppressed with dark things happen in a dark place.  That is just par for the course.  But rest assured light is coming.  the light that God has shined in your heart will one day consume this world in the brightness of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then our faith will have become sight and we will live in the glory of the one who has saved us from this death.  Take joy, take comfort,  in the fact that God has not left you or forsaken you.  He will finish what he started!  And the time of our redemption is close at hand.  I love having the light in a dark place.  I would hate to be in the dark in this dark world.  God is good all the time.

P.S.  While I was writing this, the chair I was sitting in gave out and I hit the floor: not because God is mean, but because man produced a chair that was faulty.  It’s just the way of the world.

Friday, April 22, 2011

KC Bound

At the beginning of the week, I was getting many invitation for Easter meals with people at different times; which was wonderful since I had no idea what I was going to do for me and the girls.  In the course of those invitations it came to my attention that the girls were getting out of school early on Thursday and would be out all day Friday.  In my business I had failed to be privy to these essential facts.  The wheels started turning in more ways then one.  I thought, What a great opportunity to break up some of the monotony for Kim by going up to KC and spending Easter with her family.  I was a little worried that we would be in the way of the routine that Kim has fine tuned with her Mom, but after discussing it with her, she thought it would be a good change of pace as well. 

I had to make sure all my bases were covered at the Church and in ministry.  Here’s God as work for ya.  I was scheduled to be on the drums for the program this Easter.  (Yes, if you didn’t come to Church Wednesday, there is a special Easter program at the Church beginning at 10:30.)  So, Pastor Shawn was doing all the speaking parts already.  Then, Monday night Shawn has the opportunity to lead a professional drummer to the Lord and he was excited to get to play for the Lord.  I don’t know, maybe a “God thing.”  I know this the program just improved.  This was a green light for us to get packing and get on the road.

I spent Thursday morning in the office tying up some loose ends.  One of the rules that I have learned about time management and stress is to always do the tasks in which others are waiting on you first.  This gets the monkey off your back and you can breath (That was free).  I had been talking to Tim Dunigan about what success looked like in the life of an individual that comes to Celebrate Recovery.  From that conversation we mapped out the entire process by which a person comes off the streets of Borger and becomes productive for the Kingdom.  I needed to type this up for him.  After I finished my piece of that puzzle it was time to start preparing for the trip.  I had received a call from one of the Church members telling me that they were bringing food to the house for me and the girls (That’s the kind of family we have at FBC). I though, “What am I going to do with this food,” know that we were leaving in a few hours.  When people bring stuff like that it usually can feed an army, but I just couldn’t steal the blessing and say no.  The cool thing was that when they brought it over it wasn’t cooked yet and had instructions on how long to bake it in the oven.  I was so excited because I could put in in the freezer and save it for next week. 

The Yukon had been in the shop all of Monday and Tuesday getting a gas leak fixed (scary) and the front end allied.  When I got it back on Wednesday the ride was so smooth I thought I was in a new vehicle.  This made the trip to KC very easy and pleasant.  We made it in record time.  The girls are traveling machines.  They very seldom ask to go to the bathroom.  They can outlast Mom and Dad any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  So, If I can hold it, we can keep going.  I had a good day yesterday.  We arrived early enough that Kim could come and meet us at the hotel.  She was a sight for sore eyes.  I know this my life is not complete without my bride by my side. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Beautiful Sunday in the House of the Lord

I woke up early this morning as I do every morning to have my time of prayer and finish looking over my notes for the message I’m about to deliver.  I got a call from Kim with an update on her Mom.  White blood cell count is up and that is good.  Prayer does work.  The doctor was amazed at how fast the numbers were coming up. 

I arrived at Church on time for Sound Check and I just knew it was going to be a good day.  We had a full house for prayer meeting at 9:00 and prayed for some of our 10/40 ministers and the rest of the kingdom opportunities that are coming our way.  As we entered into our worship service the Spirit was active in the Body.  There were tons of visitors and members all ready to meet with God.  After we shouted Hosanna to the Lord I was moved to call the Church to prayer.  What a beautiful sight to see so many come to the alter and worship the Lord together.  Husbands and wives, and friend with friend praying together before we opened God Word. 

The message today was entitle “The Word made flesh.”  We were looking at the way Jesus came to manifest the Father by living out the Word of God.  Just as Jesus did, we have the power to manifest God to the world by fleshing out the Word in our lives.  I felt that God spoke and lives were truly changed.  I had ever intention on making a big stake lunch for the girls but the preacher was long winded and we didn’t get out until 12:30.  So, the girls opted for the Plaza instead of eating at 1:30 or 2:00.  That just put me a mean ahead.

We came home and I turned on the TV for some background noise for my nap and I was out.  I woke up to an explosion in the Sherlock Holmes movie.  Talk about a rude awakening.  This was alright though because I needed to get up and head to the Celebrate Recovery meeting at the Church.

I love watch Celebrate Recovery take shape the way it has.  It just gets better and better.  We are going through another leadership change and I’m excited to see what Tim Dunigan is going to do with the ministry.  We don’t change leaders because of problems but because of spiritual growth in all that are involved.

After taking the girls to class it was just me and the laundry at the house, and I had plenty to keep me company.  I have put off the ironing all week long and today was reckoning day.  I ironed for two hours and got through have the stack and realized I had earned a piece of cake.  Needles to say, I was done for the night.  I am sure that when I get up in the morning the ironing board will still be waiting for round two. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dinner Anyone

As I woke up this Monday morning I immediately know that things were different.  All the weight of the day was resting on my shoulders.  With Kim around I know that the girls are going to be taken care of and that she has a plan for the day, but Kim’s not here.  She’s taking care of her Mom in Kansas City for the next three weeks.  I’m so glad that she can do that.  I know it is a blessing to our family.  So, I hit the ground running.  While the girls are still sleeping, I fall on my knees and praise my Savior for a bit, Lord knows I need his help today.  I’m watching the clock for me and for the girls as there is a very delicate time schedule with two teenage girls in the house sharing one bathroom (not to mention, neither of them are morning people).  Nevertheless, somehow we manage to get up and dressed and out of the house ahead of schedule.  I guess prayer really does work.

Every Monday morning we have a staff meeting at the coffee ranch to set the course for the week, and this week is no different especially with Easter just around the corner.  We have some wonderful things planned for the Church body on Easter.  Then it was time for me a make a quick trip to Amarillo and have the windshield replaced in the Yukon.  Luckily it was covered in the contract when I bought it and I didn’t have to pay.  So, I tried to run some errands while I was waiting on the work to be done.  I found myself at a Chinese restaurant in a strip mall for lunch.  The food was good and the entertainment was heating up.  about midway through my mean someone turned on some Karaoke videos and people started singing.  I felt pretty confident in was time to leave, besides the singing wasn’t that good.

I made my way back to the office about midafternoon to try and get ready for Win-Your-World, which is a visitation program here at the Church.  I began getting calls from my girls that were needing rides here and there, and money for things that had to be turned in today!  I left the office a little early unsure of my abilities to actually put food on the table for other people.  For me, I can just have a sandwich or snack on something, but this was something altogether different.  When it was all said and done we had baked pork steaks with carrots in a brown sugar glaze, mashed potatoes, and a side of rice.  Not bad for a newbie.

The night ended on a spiritual note as we went out building the Kingdom of God and reading the scriptures together in our “You’ve Got The Time” bible reading program from Faith comes by hearing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

God's Providence

As we were traveling on the long flight from Istanbul on Wednesday, all I could think about was wanting to be home. I had scheduled my flight back to Atlanta to spend another day with Mom and Dad.  But, after being gone for so long, I just wanted to hug my wife and sleep in my own bed. 

Scott and I got to my parents house a little past 12 in the morning completely exosted from the trip. We found our places to bed down and we were out.  With the time change we had been up for almost 20 hours and I was feeling all of it.  I just knew I would sleep until noon the next day; not so with jet lag.  At 5:30 my eyes opened and I was wide awake.  I heard a soft rap on the door and it was Scott.  "Are you awake? I can't sleep."  I got up and started washing some clothes.

Mom and Dad had left for the hospital before I got up. Dad was having a procedure done on his leg to get the proper blood flow down to his foot.  It should have only taken the morning, but little did I know, we were going to be all day at the hospital.

After a wonderful breakfast at Shoney's with my brother Chris and Scott we headed over to the hospital to sit with my mom.  Dad was just about out of surgery when we got there.  After a bit the nurse came and got us and told us that the procedure went well and we could go and see him. As we were visiting with him, he told mom that he thought he was bleeding.  With further examination we found out he was.  The stint had torn the artery and Dad was in trouble.  They rushed him back to the emergency room for a second 4 hour surgery.  Mom was worried about him being under for so long but he pulled out of it just fine.  With Dad now in recovery we decided to take a break and head for the house for a few hours.  Little did we know that Dad was awake and asking for Mom.  You would think in the world of technology that we live in, that they could have called Mom on the phone, but that didn't happen.  So Dad was left with no one there for a few hours.  All that to say, he was happy to see us when we got back to the hospital.

I'm amazed at the provision and timing of God.  He knew that I would need to be with the family and made a way for that to happen. This is so impressive to me because I live 1100 miles away and don't have the opportunity to be there at the drop of a hat.  But God worked it out so I could be with my family in our time of need.  It is good to be a child of God.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Long Road Home

After a great night of food and fellowship, we got up ready for the long trek to Istanbul. As we were eating breakfast we were discussing the guys that live in danger for the gospels sake. When you are in this kind of situation you must have already determined that you would give your life if necessary as Christ did for us. That is not really the concern when you have this level of commitment there are two things that become the most important in life. We must finish the task that God has given to us. And while we finish this task we want to complete it with honor. It is hard to think in these terms when you are faced with this level of danger on a regular basis. I believe this is one of the major problems with American Christianity today. We are at play, and therefore are simply doing what we have to do to get by. Those days for the committed Christian are long gone.

So, we all piled back into the taxis that we came in originally and headed back for Irbil to catch our flight. There was a brown out on Sunday night as the storm blew in. I felt right at home when I noticed that it had rained dirt on everything the next morning. So off we go. The van is quiet as people are sleeping or zoning off into the great nothingness of the land that surrounds us. The trip is not long, just two hours. As we arrive at the airport the security checks begin. Before I get on the plane I have been checked at least three times. I had a great time on the flight getting to know one of my brothers from Mexico as he shared pictures of his family and what God was doing in his ministry, while my brother from home provided comic relief to my right. As we were coming in for a landing I hear, “he’s coming in hot!” and we bounced off the tarmac and landed safely (PTL).

Now it’s time for Passport control and we are out the door headed back to the hotel. I must say the hotel here in Istanbul was a well-received sight. We were able to do a bit of souvenir shopping before we took off for dinner at the mall. It turns out that Istanbul has some malls that make American malls look like strip centers. It is amazing to see how the rest of the world desires to imitate the very thing that I am trying to get away from. My choices to eat were Moe’s, Arby’s, Pizza, and the like. Everyone was dressed just like I was. If I had awoke in this mall I would have thought I was in America somewhere. The food still wasn’t as good but they tried. We then sat down in a place like Starbucks and had some great discussion on world strategies for finishing the task. I was honored to be a part of the conversation.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Village Run

Sunday has been an interesting day. Because of the place that we are this is the first day of the week. There are no churches to speak of; therefore there is no time for Church. We got up this morning and ate breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast consisted of veggies, boiled eggs, bread with honey, and Nescafé that they were passing off as coffee. The BKA guys came and met us for a short business meeting that was very enlightening for me. It was invaluable for me to hear both the positives and the negatives of the meeting.

We then all loaded up in a van and took off toward the villages were the guys spend time with people. We met a man that had recently come to faith. He exposed to the gospel in Chicago and after he came to faith he had a heart for his people and moved back into one of the villages to share what he had learned. He runs a bee hive for a living and makes a pretty good gar of honey. We are hoping to duplicate this business in the villages to generate income. We ended up in one of the villages looking at Syria, and Turkey for our van in Iraq. (If I lived here that would be a tourist spot and I would sell souvenirs. There is so much opportunity for this beautiful country. Most of the people in the villages live under the poverty level. Any help that we can give them is much appreciated by the government here in Duhok.

I had a wonderful opportunity to sit in the office of the Vice Governor of Duhok; He is the one that is in charge of organization like ours that come to help the people of Duhok. He seemed very encouraged by what we are doing in the villages and encouraged us to do more. It was a very warm and friendly visit. We all left with the feeling that a good partnership had been established.

After the meet the people that were in the meeting found a pizza place for lunch. The pizza was just like you would get in the states. The only difference was they served it with French fries and hot ketchup. We ordered and waited for a bit only to be surprised when they brought out a medium size pizza for each one of us. We almost didn’t have enough room on the table for all the food. Somehow we managed to get it all down (there’s much P90X work to do)