A Joy To My Eyes

If you knew what to look for you could see a lot.

What Did I See?

Spark: Camp Spark is our camp for younger kids. We had 60 children who were led by teens from our Youth Group serving as the counselors. Saturday some of our elders cooked breakfast, it was so cool. I saw the teens caring for the little children and doing a fantastic job. Camp Spark was amazing! Thank you Janel.

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Camp Spark, 2018

Next Camp: Next week about a hundred of our older kids, teens and adults will be at Camp Bandina where nearly 400 campers will have an amazing experience. It will be fun, challenging, and Spirit filled. All who go will come home closer to God and to each other. Camp Bandina will be fantastic. Thank you Melissa.

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Not Melissa, but close, really very close. Her dad and husband. 

Youth Worship : Sunday nights our Youth Group gathers in the gym for basketball, games, food, and worship. It’s a great event and packed with fun and fellowship. Last night one of our teens was born again, joining the body of Christ, such a sweet moment. Thank you Parker.

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Support: Our staff does whatever they can to serve everyone they can. Yesterday morning I observed one of our team serving a family experiencing some challenges. She was kind, supportive and serving in the spirit of Christ. Thank you Debbie. 

Down To The River: I visited with a couple who shared that while on vacation she decided to be immersed into Christ, and that he did the immersing, in a river. They are so happy and so filled with God’s love. It was wonderful. Thank you Jim.

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Not the river where he baptized her. This is where John baptized Jesus. 

Some Encouragement: One of our members told me that I am her favorite minister. She said she can remember what I preach and that my sermons are down at her level. I assured her that what she hears is the only level I have! Thank you Bernice.

Bibles: One of my members works on an off shore oil platform and is on four weeks and off four weeks. Recently, he asked if we could ship some bibles out to the platform. They have services on Sundays and needed some bibles. They arrived and he was saying how much they appreciate having them. Thank you Brooks.

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Bibles are best when Bibles are used! 

To Close

There are more stories. There are always more stories. But maybe these are enough to give you a sense that for believers the Kingdom of God is everywhere and the Kingdom of God is with everyone.

 It was a good week end, a great Sunday, and as always, so encouraging. 

A Joy To My Eyes

Shalom

Land of the Free

There are places I want to see, not exactly bucket list stuff, but still. 

Like Where?

  • Africa
  • Austria
  • the Swiss Alps
  • Banff National Park
  • Just to name a few

Why?

I like to travel. Actually, I like arriving but the journey can also be exciting. Traveling opens the mind, awakens the senses, and often offers valuable insights. Yep, lots of places around the world I would like to see. But there is plenty to see right here at home. 

grand canyon

The Rocky Mountains aren’t to be missed. New England’s leaves are a treasure. The Grand Canyon doesn’t disappoint. Have you seen California’s red woods? Yosemite? Yellowstone? I marvel at the fluttering leaves of Colorado’s aspen trees transforming into their annual crimson and gold. 

Forest panorama in autumn

The joy is immense because we get to live in an amazing country.

The joy is all the more grand knowing we can get in our car, board a train, or take a plane and go anywhere we choose at any time of our choosing.

Why?

Because we are free. We live in a country that fought and struggled to give birth to a nation born into freedom. 

So, Happy 4th of July!

Be blessed for you are free, prosperous, and alive to enjoy it. 

May God continue to bless this great nation of ours.

A Tale of Two Cookies

Question: What’s better than a really good home made cookie? 

The Answer

It’s obvious: two really good home made cookies, exactly like those I was given yesterday in 2nd service. They were fresh, they were delicious, and given by a friend. 

Our church has a children’s offering and any child is welcome to give. But typically the kids range from preschool to 3rd grade. On average we have 25 children in 1st service and 75 in 2nd. The offering supports Haitian kids through Hope For Haiti’s Children.

The offering is the most exciting part, so much more than the preaching!

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The children’s offering, it never gets old or ordinary.

The kids are:

  • innocent
  • fun
  • excited
  • energized
  • generous
  • sweet
  • and captivated to see themselves up on the screens

In 2nd Service

I hold one of the baskets for the children to give their money, it’s a selfish pleasure. Yesterday one of my friends, a five year old girl, handed me a bag with two cookies and then dropped her dollar in the basket. She looked at me with her beautiful eyes, she smiled her gorgeous smile, and was excited to give her dollar and happy to give her cookies. 

I was happy too. 

And Later

After the service, I was in the lobby and available to sign my newest book that was on display. My friend, along with her mom and grandmother, stopped by to pick up a few copies, which afforded the opportunity to talk with the adorable cookie giver. It’s impossible to guess what a five year old will say. It was so much fun.

friends uplift the soul
Not my little friend, but close, really, very, very close!

 

To Close

We went home for lunch and after cleaning the kitchen we each got to enjoy a really good cookie. Made with skill, given with joy and received by happy hands and a melted heart. 

It was a tale of two cookies.

I love Sundays

 

 

Happy Father’s Day to Me!

Yesterday was Father’s Day and a really good day.

Why?

  1. I got to speak to hundreds of fathers yesterday morning.
  2. It was a good morning of great worship about God as our Father.
  3. My kids came over to the house after church.
  4. They stayed all afternoon to swim, eat, and talk. 

Some Observations

I spoke with several fathers who were happy because their kids were home from college, or drove a long way or made a great effort to be at church for Father’s Day.

For a Dad there is nothing like having the family all together in church.

It Was Amusing

At both services I asked some younger children what they were doing for Father’s Day. Here are some of their answers:

  1. We bought him some stuff.
  2. We are going to his favorite place to eat.
  3. We are leaving him alone for three hours so he can watch the game.
  4. Mom gave us money to buy him a gift. 
  5. I think we are going out for pizza.

Someone said this,

“Father’s Day is different from Mother’s Day, Father’s Day doesn’t cost as much.”

Well put.

I got Father’s Day cards and a power tool that I didn’t really need but absolutely wanted.

chain saw
Not the power tool I received for Father’s Day, but close, really very close.

I like Father’s Day, it’s a good idea. But if I can speak for Dad’s everywhere we don’t really care about having a special day. We appreciate the gifts because they come from our kids, but sooner or later we will buy whatever tool to tie we need. Men know how to bless themselves. 

No, it’s not the tools, the ties, or eating out.  It’s our kids. Father’s Day is another opportunity to connect and bond with our children. If our kids are grown then its another moment to have them close.

“It’s them, our kids, that are the true gift for Father’s Day.”

To Close

Yesterday was a good day. I got a lovely meal and a great new power tool.

But mostly it was good because my kids were home. We ate together and sat at the dinning table and talked for an hour. We played and frolicked in the pool. Later we watched a movie and snacked on good stuff. Happy Father’s Day to me!

I love being a Father.

“I Love You Dad”

The Many Faces of God

  • Creator
  • Judge
  • Shepherd
  • Rock
  • Lord
  • King
  • Provider
  • Sustainer 
  • Giver
  • Father

Just to mention a few.

God As Father

God as a Father is a dominant theme in Scripture, perhaps the most dominant of all.

Within the Trinity God is a Father. I’ve never heard the Trinity referenced without “Father” being first. Why is that? Is it the strongest and most natural metaphor? 

He is loving, kind, forgiving, patient, protective and reliable. 

This Sunday is Father’s Day. A day to honor Dads, to say thank you. My kids will come over and be nice to me. It’s Father’s Day, perhaps there will be cake.

Not Everyone

Not everyone had a Dad at home, and some who did didn’t have a good experience. Some have a Dad but due to divorce he lives somewhere else. Some have recently lost their Dad and Father’s Day will be hard.

Some would love to be a Dad but as a couple they are having trouble conceiving, which can be deeply disappointing and discouraging. 

Some Dads have lost a child, or children. Father’s Day will be hardest on them.

And Me?

The most interesting things about me are my kids. We wanted more children, but it wasn’t to be. We thank God daily for the two we have. 

I imagined my kids being small replicas of me. They would look like me and talk like me and like all the things I like. Well, there are some similarities, but by and large my kids are not like me. They have different interests and ambitions and neither likes sports. Good grief. 

What I Like Best

  • talking to them
  • eating with them
  • traveling together
  • when they call asking advice
  • when something cool happens to them
  • when they come to me in the hard times
  • watching them mature
  • Christmas morning
  • birthdays
  • any day I get to spend time with them

To Close

God has many faces. My favorite is God as a Father. His example can be tough to follow but everything that makes him a good Father is everything I strive to be. 

Fathers-Day-Cards-To-Make

To All the Dads, Happy Father’s Day

 

 

Button-Popping Proud

There’s some people that I’m button-popping proud of. 

Who Are They?

They just returned from a mission trip after a week of serving people in need. They served by rolling up theirs sleeves to do anything needed and everything asked. 

They are High School teens from our Youth Group. 

Where Did They Go?

They went to a place that cares for at risk kids. A place that takes in single mothers and their children when no one else can, or will. To a place that always has too much of not enough. To a place most of us will never volunteer to serve.

What Did They Do

They broke up and removed concrete, they tore out walls and repaired walls. They painted things in need of painting and spruced up what needed sprucing. They cleaned and helped and they did this and that. Most of it in the brutal Texas sun. 

Then, after working and sweating all day they spent their evenings playing with the kids. They played basketball and whatever else could be played. They sat and talked and listened, and made new friends. They found depths of care and compassion they may not have known they had.

They spent a week being Jesus to others in need.

I didn’t have mission trips when I was in High School. I didn’t go anywhere to help anyone. Mostly I focused on making money, working out for Fall football and hanging with my friends. All good summer stuff, but not quite the same. 

“But these times they are a changing.” 

At a time when the news is captivated with stories of kids killing kids there comes a story about kids helping kids. In fact, this summer Youth Groups from all over the country will travel near and far to serve others. 

I wish those stories could headline the news for a few weeks.

To Close

Thank you Parker for leading them. Thank you parents for going and helping.  

Thanks Southeast teens for being the heart of Jesus, for demonstrating the splendor of his love, and for reflecting the radiance of his light, for you are the light of this world.

And I am button-popping proud of you.

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Feeling Blessed

I’m blessed every day in so many ways.

But this morning I’m appreciating my blessings a little more than usual.

On Retreat

I’m writing this blog from my room at Camp Allen, a Christian Retreat and Conference Center about an hour outside of Houston. It’s beautiful and the accommodations are fine. The bed was a little stiff in the way that a concrete slab is a little stiff. But I slept well, woke early, and rose to write.

I’m here with our church’s elders, ministers, and spouses. We arrived Friday for dinner then had an evening of sharing our lives and getting better connected, what a blessing.

My Daughter

My daughter and son-in-law live in the down town Houston area. They are young, urban professionals and think that coming to our house in the suburbs is a two day drive with a hotel stay. She texted me this week to say that she thinks about her Mom and Dad everyday and that she loves us, what a blessing. 

My Friends

I have great friends, not many, but they are enough. They are enough in the way that warm maple syrup covers the whole pancake. The way that a cool, sunny, Houston morning in February is an absolute pleasure. They provide a wonderful sense of belonging and connection, what a blessing.

 To Close

I could go on, but won’t. I’ll close with this. Garfield the cat once said:

“Ah, Christmas, it isn’t the giving, it isn’t the getting, it’s the people.” 

The Christmas season has passed, but I like the sentiment. My friends and family are more than what I get or give. It isn’t about that, it’s about the people, the bonds of caring and mutual acceptance.

god lending a hand

The true joy of life is the people.

Shalom