Monthly Archives: January 2012

Answering the Call

Many people are asking me the question. They may ask it in different ways or even ask it as a statement. It is: How do you feel about your children and grandchildren moving to China? They are asking about Kevin and Dayna Avery’s call to be missionaries in Shenyang, China, to establish a school for children with disabilities. Their flight leaves March 11 from Houston.

A number of thoughts and emotions flood my mind. Intellectually I have long held that, apart from ignoring God, the pull of family and friends is the single biggest obstacle to answering the missionary call. There are many negative voices that compete to hinder missions. I am a minister. Our daughter and her husband have both grown up with parents who traveled overseas on many occasions to share God’s love. It is hard for a preacher to be against anyone stepping out on faith to help “the least of these,” even if they are family going to the other side of the world (ask Jesus).

Emotionally I am already anticipating the chasm of separation—mostly not being able to hug and play with the little ones very often. But the technology has moved forward in the ten years since Dayna and Kevin served as English teachers in Changchun, China. Now we will be able to see and talk to each other in real time over the internet. I do think about health and safety issues for them, but I do that anyway. I believe that the safest place in all the world is in the very center of God’s will (ask Jonah).

Also, I feel a sense of admiration for their dedication, courage and resolve to be obedient to their calling. They have concerns—they need to sell their house, dispose of their stuff, raise their monthly support and (re)learn Chinese. But they know God provides, and His timing is best (ask Paul).

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Answer the call. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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While Looking in My Files

I opened a file drawer in my office today. There was a time when I did that every day. I was looking for files on Sunday School. But then I saw some old newspapers folded low in the very front of the drawer. The first one I pulled out was a copy of the National Enquirer, January 4, 2000. It was the “Predictions for the New Millennium” issue. I used it in a sermon once. I did not remember: “Katie Couric’s blind date with a millionaire Saudi prince will lead to her quitting the Today show to marry him and move to Saudi Arabia.” Then I discovered an entire Wall Street Journal. Its front-page story said, “No Apocalypse Now: Y1K Anxiety Ends, but World Doesn’t.” I discovered that the January 11, 1999 edition’s front page was dated January 1, 1000! That’s why I kept it.

Next I found three copies of the God at Work newspaper published by the International Slavic Christian College of Tulsa; two copies of a news story about Tulsa historian Beryl Ford; a copy of the Baptist Messenger from September 1998 where I wrote the word “Keep” on the front. Who knows why. After that was the front page of the Tulsa World, December 26, 1999, with our daughter and future son-in-law’s picture and article about their coming midnight wedding on New Year’s Eve. I know why I kept that one.

Then there were various clippings: Dave Barry proclaiming that he was NOT jealous of the woman who wrote the Harry Potter books; an article on the death of TV’s “Lone Ranger;” pilgrims retracing the footsteps of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem; and an article about a new computer gadget called CueCat. Later I remembered to find the Sunday School files.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Find Sunday School. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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On a Cold Winter’s Day

I am expecting to be snowbound one of these days before Easter. I do live in Oklahoma where last year’s blizzard came in February. I have been preparing for the coming snow. I checked all around the outside of the house. I brought in the hoses, covered the outside faucets and hung the snow shovel in the garage. Our church is being winterized as well. In addition, I have made a list of the books to read when the winds and snow begin to blow outside. I have a couple of recommendations, if you need something to warm your heart on a cold winter’s day.

Snowbound Feb 2011

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp. This book recounts the author’s personal challenge to discover 1,000 blessings in her life as a believer, the wife of a Christian farmer/rancher in the upper mid-west, as she struggles with the mundane, the gritty, and the heartaches of her life. As she tells some of the stories behind her blessings, she encouraged and inspired me to really notice the everyday gifts from God. She discovered in chronicling her blessings that “in this expressing of the gratitude for the life we have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted.”

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker, is a book I am somewhat afraid to read, but plan to on a cold snowy day soon. Jen is a pastor’s wife and popular speaker. She and her husband Brandon had three children when she wrote this book. They have since adopted two children from Ethiopia. Jen Hatmaker was a classmate and sorority sister with our daughters at Oklahoma Baptist University. This book tells of the “family experiment” to take seven months spending each month fighting back against one of “seven modern-day diseases:” Food, Clothes, Spending, Media, Possessions, Waste and Stress. The call to Christ-like simplicity and generosity led the Hatmaker family to a deep spiritual awakening.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Warm your heart. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Shakespeare and Company

When I walk into a bookstore, I become a treasure hunter. I am looking for just the right book to treasure, at least for the moment. Sometimes the treasure is the bookstore itself. Discovering a used bookstore is, for me, like finding a new shoe store for some ladies I know. I try to poke around in bookstores wherever I may be traveling. My favorite kind of bookstore looks like my desk, with stacks of things piled here and there. Finding things on my desk is also a treasure hunt.

Dorothy and I spent a wonderful few days one April wandering the streets of Paris. After visiting Notre Dame Cathedral we crossed the street and sat down for a cup of coffee at one of those outdoor cafes we had always seen in the movies. As we started walking back toward our hotel, I spotted one of the most famous bookstores in the entire world, Shakespeare and Company.

This was like landing on Treasure Island—stacks of new and used books fill shelves, nooks and crannies everywhere. It is three stories tall. An old cat kept an annoyed eye on the place. People with legal pads, laptops and even portable typewriters were writing their inspired thoughts and future bestsellers. It was part commune, with cots and little rooms for people to sleep in—some staying for weeks. Many famous and not-so-famous writers got their start researching and writing at this bookstore. And the elderly owner, George Whitman, directed all of the apparent chaos of a typical day in his store. Mr. Whitman died last month at the age of 98. In the midst of his books, George Whitman hung a sign that paraphrased Hebrews 13:2—“Do not be inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels.”

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Look for treasures and angels. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.


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