Tag Archives: faith

Landing in the Wrong Place

           How does an airliner land at the wrong airport? The recent misfortune of the Southwest Airlines flight headed for Branson, Missouri raises the question. They landed eight miles away from the appointed runway. The pilots apparently noticed their mistake, hit the brakes very hard and stopped their plane at the very edge of a disaster. Everyone was shocked. The pilots were not only shocked; they were embarrassed as well.  They soon learned that the runway they had chosen was too short for their airplane to take-off to fly to the right airport; it eventually had to be toed away.

            The pilots landed in the wrong place because they insisted on their own way. When preparing to land, the Branson control tower told them they were 18 miles away from the right runway. Recognizing the light configuration, the pilots insisted they could see the runway in front of them and requested to override the control tower and their instruments. The passengers were not happy about taking a bus with all of their possessions to the correct airport.

            There is an old saying, Seeing is believing. But not everything we think we see is real. Some people reverse the saying, Believing is seeing. But not everything we may believe is true. The pilots needed to trust the control tower and their own instruments. The pilots decided to trust what they were seeing up ahead. They made an embarrassing mistake that could have quickly turned tragic.  Did you know there is a verse in the Bible that speaks to these kind of situations? It is found in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but in the end it leads to death.” It comes down to trusting what is real and true. Trust God. Trust God’s Son. Trust God’s Spirit. Trust God’s Word.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Land in the right place. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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To God be the Glory

            Last Sunday, February 23, was an historic day in the life of our church. There was a positive, energetic and prayer-filled spirit. There was a strong attendance for our very first 10 o’clock worship service. The new monitors worked like they were supposed to, Dr. David Willets brought an excellent message, and the new Pastors’ Class was well received. Our 11:15 Sunday School hour more than doubled our Bible Study attendance. The Monte Los Olivos congregation filled the two center sections of the Sanctuary for their 11:15 worship service. About 40 children and teenagers were welcomed to their new Sunday School classrooms. To God be the Glory.

            In 2012, by faith, we invited GracePoint Church to minister with us. The People’s Pantry was relocated to our building and our Clothes Closet ministry was reestablished. Last year we began a deeper Wednesday evening ministry with the Pantry and our neighbors. Ben Shepard offered to provide a Wednesday evening meal for anyone who participated in the Pantry ministry. The effort has expanded with a number of faithful workers coming along side to help with the meal for our neighbors. We work together delivering Meals on Wheels, singing in the choir and worshiping together. On Wednesday evenings Monte Los Olivos has added a 7:00 p.m. Prayer Service, and Youth and Children’s Bible programs. Great things He has done.

            There continues to be lots of preparation work behind the scenes to allow God to use our church to proclaim a greater witness to our community. By intention there are three things that we are not doing: 1) we are not merging churches; 2) we are not combining budgets; 3) we are not changing any church names. We are networking together. We are working alongside each other to promote our common ministries and mission efforts. We are launching more intentional discipleship training and evangelistic efforts across the congregations and into our neighborhood. So loved He the world that He gave us His Son.

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

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The Call

         One night as I prepared to go to sleep, I asked a question of God concerning my future. I asked what God wanted me to do with my life. Then I asked, “Do you want me to be a minister?”  I was clearly impressed with the answer, “Yes.” This happened on March 16, 1964. I have never forgotten that night or that call. Sometime later I clearly heard one of my teachers say that the bottom line for doing ministry is remembering and being faithful to your call. That no matter what you face in life or what challenges beset you – remember your call.

When it comes to discipleship, it’s all about the call from God. I believe God is calling out to everyone on earth first to find salvation, and then to serve God. That is the call. Some hear and act on the call. Some hear and run from the call. Some hear and purposefully ignore it. For others the call is overwhelmed by their circumstances and the challenges of life. But I believe God continues to call out to us unless we say, “Stop.”

I was licensed to the Gospel Ministry by my home church almost exactly three years after my call. I was ordained to the ministry 40 years ago this past May. My mentors and friends in ministry participated in a beautiful service where I was set apart, consecrated is the old term, for the vocational ministry. My pastor, Dr. James Harris, and the deacons of University Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, Texas, tested me concerning my understanding of the principles of the faith. The challenge of the sermon that night, by Dr. James Dunn, was to follow the call of God “through it all.” He gave me a written copy of that message which I cherish dearly. What is the call of your heart? Are you living out God’s call today?

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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Livin’ Easy

“Summertime and the livin’ is hot, humid and salt free.” At least that is what I heard the teen-aged waitress say. So I tried to cover up my confusion with the one weather joke I can use when people complain it’s too hot in the summertime: “Who would have thought it would be hot near the end of June in Oklahoma?” But she was trying to cover up her embarrassment. “I can’t believe I said ‘salt free’ when I was trying to say ‘sultry.’” So it’s not just my hearing. She then went on to tell me that she could not wait to get off work because she had “a million things to do tonight” and she was stressing out about it.

I do not know which is worse: thinking one thing but saying another, or saying something you did not know you were thinking. Or is it saying the wrong thing when you thought you said the right thing, but it was the exact opposite of what you thought you were saying when you thought it. Maybe we are all under too much stress, and the heat of the summer just frazzles us quicker. And whatever happened to “summertime and the livin’ is easy?”

ice cream coneI guess I have to go back to the days of my childhood and youth, before my first summer job, to find when the livin’ was easy.  Those were the days of swimming in the neighbor’s pool or in the neighborhood lake behind my uncle’s house. Those were the days of Scout camping trips, Vacation Bible School and family time at church. Those were the days for reading National Geographic magazines and adventure books like Treasure Island. Those were the days we played kickball in the street and came home for supper when we heard our names yelled down the block. (If you heard your middle name, it was too late.) It’s been a while since those stress-free summers. So how stress-free are the summers of our children and grandchildren today? Are they stressed because we are stressed and hot? Maybe we all need to read an adventure book, play with our friends, and go to church together.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Eat some ice-cream. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Vacation Bible School 2013

Vacation Bible School brings to mind old images of marching around the church with flagpoles and a big Bible, of popsicle stick crafts, songs, Bible stories, and red juice and cookies. Once upon a time at our church VBS was scheduled from 9 to noon and it was two weeks long; or was that two long weeks? In the ’70s, we shortened the VBS to end on Wednesday of the second week with a Parents’ Program that evening. In the ’80s and ’90s, we changed to an evening format, Sunday night through Sunday night. The late 1990s brought Bible School Sunday through Friday evenings. These last two years we offer it Sunday through Thursday night. Every year VBS is very much the same, yet every year it is completely different. Young lives are impacted, memories of God and church are made, and the workers discover moments of joy and energy, even as their bodies grow tired and weary.

IMG_0167 This year we are learning how to “Stand Strong.” God’s love helps us to stand strong. Family and friends help us to stand strong. Prayer helps us to stand strong. Trusting God helps us to stand strong. The Bible helps us to stand strong. Did you notice how much help we all need everyday to stand strong? During this VBS I am wondering how much the pride of self-sufficiency keeps me from recognizing all the resources available if I would only ask.

There will always be a place for something like Vacation Bible School, yet the trend seems to be that fewer churches are providing the VBS experience. Some churches are exploring alternative formats like three-day schools, or five Sunday evenings. Others are replacing VBS with sports camps and enrichment programs. Part of the issue is the cost of materials, part is the availability of workers, and part is the full schedules that boys and girls have in the summertime.

The overall goal is to assist in the spiritual formation of young lives, and the spiritual transformation of families and communities. And we always learn a lot from the children.

             Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Help some one to stand strong. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Mission Travels

One day as I was riding in a train a couple of mice scurried under the seat and down through the rest of the car. It was dark outside and the little creatures were foraging for crumbs. The two ladies traveling with me immediately wanted to find higher ground. I tossed a couple of peanut butter crackers down a hole in the flooring assuring the ladies that would keep the mice busy until the porters could pull down the beds. They choose the top bunks. Everyone slept well on that rocking train that night. It was a 14-hour ride from Calcutta to Sambalpur in the state of Orissa, India.  Our three-member team met up with missionary Ed Sanders, who had organized our time in Sambalpur. After six days teaching the ways of Christ in four or five very rural villages, we boarded our train back to Calcutta. There were tender moments of prayer, faith and spiritual victory in the lives of many people.

We flew from Tulsa to Houston to Orland to New York City. From New York we flew to London where we had a two-hour layover. It was then on to New Delhi followed by Mumbai (the old Bombay). In Mumbai we boarded buses; there were about 100 of us on that plane headed to various parts of India. We were taken to a hotel where they gave us rooms to shower and rest, followed by an orientation luncheon. A couple of hours later our team was back on a plane flying to Calcutta. The plane arrived late so our taxi drove at breakneck speed through the city to the train station. We raced to our train, boarded with our luggage in hand. Before we could find our seat, the train was moving out of the station.

When we returned from Sambalpur, we joined hundreds of Baptists gathered to celebrate the bicentennial of William Carey’s arrival as the first of the modern missionaries. Our team spoke in Calcutta churches and ministered with the people at The Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center. Lives were changed, believers were encouraged and churches were strengthened throughout India. That happens today where we live. Down the street there is a family in despair. Two blocks away there is a pregnant teen about to be turned out on the street. There is a hungry grandmother raising two grandchildren all by herself in a rent house to the south. How far do we have to travel to do missions?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Meet a new neighbor. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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The Starry Night

While scientists were focused on Asteroid 2012 DA14 about to fly by earth in the afternoon, the Siberian sky exploded with a ball of fire that blazed across city of Chelyabinsk (pop. 1,000,000) injuring about a 1,500 people and damaging over 5,000 buildings. Estimates are that a bus-sized meteor traveling at 35,000 mph exploded with the force of 20 atomic bombs. The asteroid flew past Earth over Indonesia not bothering anyone. It was the “invisible” rock that caused all of the excitement.

meteor

I grew up loving the stars and gazing at the Milky Way. I could point out the North Star, the Dippers and Orion. The big thrill was seeing a shooting star. Shooting stars happen most nights as meteors burn up entering our atmosphere. We just cannot see them much anymore. Too much light at night in our big city world. But one night I saw a different view of the whole starry sky. I was on mission in a remote village in southeast India. We held a service in the only large building with electricity. Lights had been strung across the ceiling reminiscent of an old-fashioned tent revival. As the villagers were leaving, someone turned off the electricity. Stepping into the outside, I experienced the big Wow.

I stepped out into the full glory of the Milky Way on a crystal-clear November night. More stars than I remembered as a boy. More stars than I have ever seen since that time. More awesomeness than I could ever express. The whole universe stretched out before us in all of its glory. There was a time when shepherds and wise men studied the sky to discern the times, to dream big dreams and to look for God. What do you see when you gaze upon the heavens?

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

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