Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Power of A Worshipper

I am a huge fan of believers acting like believers. We don't always.... I admit it. I am especially jazzed when believers act like believers in times designated for believers to express their beliefs. I have always believed, and am more convinced now, that times of private worship often inspire God to do some, uh, well, "supernatural" things.

Now, I am a huge fan of corporate worship, so don't misunderstand.... but I am sure that our private worship sets the foundation for our corporate worship, as a family of believers, at whatever House of God we choose to worship. And the power of a worshipper is... well, ... powerful.

This article is, to me, evidence that supports my theory of the power of a worshipper.... enjoy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For Better or Worse

During the final months of my Dad's battle with cancer, I tried to visit as often as possible. It was on one of those visits where I witnessed one of the most moving acts of selflessness and love I have ever seen.

I am proud to have an Uncle (who shall remain nameless; even though all my family will immediately know to whom I refer, I did not ask his permission to share this tale, and so anonymity will be enforced).

Growing up in West Tennessee in the '70's, my family didn't take many trips, but we did visit family. There was lots of family to visit, and we had such great fun! We often visited an aunt and uncle and cousins in the next town North of ours, where we shared watermelon, cantaloupe, and heated games of Rook and Dominos.

My uncle and aunt, as many spouses do, had some difficult years early on, including a time of separation. But once reconciliation was reached, they were reunited and our frequent visits continued.

As time passed, and we grew up and moved away, my aunt began to lose the strength of her health, and has now required the constant care of a caregiver for quite some time. My uncle and hischildren (my cousins), all take turns with compassion and great patience to care for her many needs. Feeding, bathing, cleaning, this once vibrant lady has become a choice, not a chore. Loving hands care for her needs; a gentle voice maintains a single-sided conversation when she is not able to speak. Great pains and an even greater amount of time and compassion are required to meet her needs.

And my uncle is no spring chicken, himself. We had become concerned with his own health while lovingly caring for his bride. My dad had even spoken with him about placing her in a home where she could receive round-the-clock care. It seemed evident that it was time to relinquish that amount of care to the professionals at the nursing home, and to give my uncle some rest.

So, eventually, the decision was made to place my aunt in a nursing facility nearby. A visit was made, paperwork completed, and a room secured.

Yet the compassionate heart of my uncle for his bride made him reluctant to complete the deal. His head told him it was best; his heart said no.

While I was "working the road" with my dad one hot summer afternoon, my uncle drove up. He bounded out of his car, and with a grin as wide as the Tennessee border, told us he had made a decision about his wife.

Dad was glad that she was going where she could receive care she needed, and his brother could rest from all that work.

I will forever remember the words my uncle spoke that afternoon: "I have decided that she will stay at home. I called the nursing home and put the whole deal on hold. She doesn't want to go, and realized that I don't mind the time and work it takes to take care of her.

She is staying with me, and I can't be more proud of my decision".

Still today, my uncle cares for his bride. Daily, often hourly changes of clothing and bedding; one-sided conversations about this and that; and a stubborn commitment to "for better or worse".

That situation still may, in the future, necessitate a move to the nursing home. But my uncle can always say that he has done all he could to care for his wife. He took no short cuts, no conveniences on his behalf.

And while my aunt may not know of his commitment on this side of eternity, I see it.

I see it.

Thanks, Uncle.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's Not Your Fault!

While watching a late-night movie version of a Tom Clancy novel, I happened to notice that TMC runs commercials every 7 minutes. Being a late-night movie, rates are lower, and you can see a lot of interesting things advertised that can't afford prime-time rates, every seven minutes. One particular ad caught my eye- and my ire.

A young lady was advertising her credit counseling business, and her tag line, spouted 6 times in her 29 second epic, is "It's Not Your Fault!". Over and again, she tried to sell us poor insomniacs on the idea that our financial situation is not our fault- the blame lies somewhere else- the economy; our bosses; the government.

While I will agree that the downturn in our current economy has wreaked all kinds of wickedness on all kinds of good people, the honest truth is, we are responsible for our own financial, social, economic, physical, and spiritual situation. That's right- as Jimmy Buffet sings, "it might be my fault..".

Let's be frank. We must train our children, our neighbor's children and our community's children to prepare for their own futures. We have lost the importance of spending less than we make; of saving for a rainy day; and planning for our lives and our children's lives. As a matter of fact, I am really weary of our government telling us that we deserve all that... and the government will provide it for us! Have we forgotten where the government gets its money? Have we become that lazy and arrogant? Say it ain't so!

No matter how success is defined, there are no entitlements to it. Some good folks work really hard to scratch out a meager living; others use gifts and talents and skills to earn more than they can realistically use. Either way, they have earned it. It is theirs.

The rub comes in planning for the proverbial rainy day; and it will come. And rainy days are not the fault of the previous administration in the White House; neither are they the result of poor planning in the fiscal meteorology department at the pentagon. And neither are we entitled to having someone reimburse us for the rain.

Sometimes, it just rains. Things break. Prices go up. People get sick. Businesses scale down. It happens; and it is our responsibility to plan ahead for those unthinkable events. If we do not plan for those times-

It is our fault.

Hard decisions are required to plan for those times we hope never come. And we are not entitled to never needing to make a hard decision.

So lady, while your ad costs less than most, in at least one instance, your message did not pass the truth test. I know because I am certified in the scraping by, making hard decision departments. And that is my own fault.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

I think that is a great song title, from a great songwriter. Jimmy Buffet has always been a favorite, although I couldn't admit it until later in life. What a shame...

The title is quite descriptive of my life at the moment. I am faced with opportunities to make some changes in my ministry assignment here in Tulsa. Changes in attitude and latitude are certainly required.

For several months, we have been discussing and planning beginning a satellite campus in the community in which my family and I live. The campus, called, The Springs, will meet in a school that my kids have attended. The prospects for a new church work in our community is almost endless- 18,000 people have no connection with a church of any kind. There has not been a new church in Sand Springs for almost 20 years. And it is obvious to us that God is leading us to do this. I have been, and still am, very excited about it! I have been allowed to help plan staffing, technology, administration, all the way from top to bottom. Only a few variables remain, one of them being....

The Springs needs a Campus Pastor.

As I said, I have been very excited about this work for a long time. If our plans continue to track the way they are now, in a few weeks, I will be named one of the Campus Pastors for The Springs. I will begin as Worship Leader, working to assure excellence in music, technology, video, and volunteer training. For the first three months, one of my favorite fellow staff members will serve as Launch Pastor, freeing me to handle the physical and practical aspects of a new church start. This will bring about quite significant change for me- not only in "attitude" but "lattitude" as well. I will keep many of my current responsibilities, and give up some of my current responsibilities (some I absolutely LOVE!), to be replaced with things I am called to do, and am excited about doing.

Some think I am crazy; some think I have lost my mind. Quite the contrary, I believe this is part of God's plan for me, and I have lost nothing. In fact, I am finding the whole prospect terrifyingly comforting. I encourage you to pray for me as I pull a Jimmy Buffet; keep the whole project on your hearts and on your list.

Life is indeed Good!