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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Backlash resentment

I think I have come up with a new term (at least I have never heard it before). It's called "backlash resentment".

"Backlash resentment" is when I (or anyone) begins to resent someone(s) who is showing resentment toward me over a period of time.

You wait and you watch and if that person(s) attitude doesn't change, you find yourself giving in to a resentment about that person's resentment.

I see "backlash resentment" in marriages, at the worksite, and in the church.

One spouse resents the other for things that they perceive are negative. The other spouse picks up on that resentment and begins to have negative feelings toward the other, not based on what they did, but based on the negative feelings that they are projecting.

In other words, "if you don't like me," "than I am not going to like you."

What to do?

Well, off the top of my head:

1. Have a healthy self-image of who you are. Having a healthy self-image comes from having a correct God-image of yourself. How God looks at you. God loves you. God likes you. God is for you. God has a plan and purpose for your life. Nothing can separate me from God's love.

2. Resist being co-dependent. One facet of co-dependancy is an obession to control someone else's behavior or feelings.

3. Set up a pow-wow. Set up a time where you can openly express your feelings. A non-threatening setting is preferable. A restaurant. Somewhere public.

4. Pray (for all your spiritual type folks, that of course is number one - these are not in any particular order).

5. Resist the temptation to hurt back. Hurting people hurt people. Hurting people hurt easily.

6. Have an attitude of "that's their problem." If I like me and God likes me, than whoever doesn't like me - that's their problem. What really counts in the long run is the way God looks at me, the way I look at myself, and the way that others close to me look at me.

Just some thoughts...any other steps someone can take?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I have some good habits and some habits that are not good for me.

Bad habits

Eating after 8
Watching too much ESPN
Impatience in a line

Good habits

Finishing my work first
trying to eat right when I eat
reading my bible every day

here are some quotes on habits...what are some of yours both good and bad?

To make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy... we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can, and guard against the growing into ways that are likely to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against the plague. -- William James

The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way. Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state. We are spinning our own fates, good or evil. -- William James

Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each lapse in like the letting fall of al ball of string which one is carefully winding up, a single slip undoes more than a great many turns will wind again. Continuity of training is the great means of making the nervous system act infallible right. -- William James

Habit simplifies the movements required to achieve a given result, makes them more accurate and diminishes fatigue. -- William James

We must form the habit of love until it is the practice of our lives. --Oswald Chambers

I have never known a man to overcome a bad habit gradually. --John R. Mott

The Christian must see that bad habits are ultimately spiritual issues. -- Erwin Lutzer

A bad habit takes twenty-one days to break; a good habit takes twenty one days to make. --Anonymous

Monday, January 29, 2007

Keeping a clear conscience

Paul writes in Acts 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

As followers of Christ, it’s important to keep our conscience clear before God and everyone around us.

Our conscience is our alarm system. It’s our protection.

It’s been said that character is what we are when nobody is watching. That’s really true. When we do things that we know aren’t right, we try to hide them from our families and friends. But even then, God is watching.

He’s watching, not with a hammer ready to squash us, but with a willingness to send the Holy Spirit to convict us. God is for us, continually, but He doesn’t want us to have anything that would hinder our relationship with Him.

Few things in life can torment us as much as a guilty conscience.

And few things in life provide more contentment than the knowledge that we are obeying God’s commandments. A clear conscience is one of the rewards we earn when we obey God’s Word and follow His will.

When we as Christians follow God’s will and His plan for our lives, our earthly rewards are never-ceasing, and our heavenly rewards are everlasting.

But during those times that we are tempted and even fail (and we all are tempted and we all fail), we have to remember that we can keep secrets from other people, but we can never keep secrets from God.

God knows what we think and what we do. And if we want to please Him, we must start with good intentions, a pure heart, and a clear conscience.

That’s why it’s important for you and me to honor God by following His commandments. When we do, our character will take care of itself, and so will our conscience.

What’s the result? We won’t need to look over our shoulder to see who – besides God – is watching.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Psalms 37

I was reading Psalms 37:1-9 again today. Then I received an email from a great friend that said how much those same verses were ministering to him. Like lost, confused children, we all find ourselves wandering back to these same verses from time to time.

1 [a] Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

I can remember when my brother-in-law was falsely accused of fraud and extortion at the business he was working at. He reached out to these verses.

I can remember recommending these verses to men and women who spouses are falsely accusing them and wanting a divorce.

I can remember repeating them myself when I have had fingers falsely pointed at me. They are powerful, powerful, verses.

David, in this Psalms is being attacked by an evil person.

Here's some do's and don't when attacked.


1. Don't fret

In other words, "Don't get heated. Stay calm. Don't let your emotions overwhelm you."

That's easy for you to say, David!

2. Don't envy?

Why? Because evil people are like the grass on your front lawn during the month of August. They will soon wither and die away.

3. Don't be vengful.

When we are wronged we want to get even - don't we? Or am I the only one?

But the Lord says in verse 8, "refrain from anger and turn from wrath."


1. Do trust in the Lord.

I can remember skydiving last year. It was in tandem with a professional. But even those he was a pro, there was still a huge element of trust in his ability to pull the ripcord at the right time.

David writes in verse 3, "trust in the Lord."

2. Do good.

Again in verse three.

We are to trust, and we are to do good. There is no period between the trust and the good. They are linked. It takes trust to continue to do good when we are falsely accused. Verbalizing faith in the Lord must be partnered with right actions.

3. Do delight yourself in the Lord.

Take great joy, not from the situation, but from the fact that God really does care for us, and he loves us, and here's a powerful thought, God likes us. I mean he really does.

When we stumble, he lifts us up so that we will not fall.

4. Do commit your way to the Lord.

Oswald Chambers said that we often attempt to think rather than obey our way out of confusion. I do what God asks, even though I might not think or know where it is leading me.

5. Do be still.

Wait. Oh, man, that's hard. Wait on God. God himself seems late from time to time. Wait, wait, wait.

And finally the best part, back in verse 6.

"And he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, thejusticee ofyoreu cause like the noonday sun."

Wow. The sun is the brightest at noon. God will take what you're going through and not only turn it around for good, but in the end, your righteousness will shine like the noonday sun!

May it be so.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Doing things God's way

On January 1, 2007, Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight won his 880th game—the most by any coach in men's Division I college basketball history. In a press conference after the game, he said: "I did it my way—and when I look back on it, I don't think my way was all that bad."

Bob Knight, you either love him or hate him. You either admire him or despise him. But what about his statement? "I did it my way - and when I look back on it, I don't think my way was all that bad."

Sounds like Frank Sinatra doesn't it, "I did it my way," he crooned.

Now then, I'm going to say something that sounds very "religious" and maybe even "spiritual" but it is one of the foundation principles of my life.

Even more than doing it "my way," I want to do it, "God's way." That sounds so cliche and trite to me I almost didn't write it.

But it's true. I desire to run my life "God's way," and not "my way." I desire to submit every day to His will, not only for the big things, but for the small things as well.

Every time I step out and try to do it "my way," and leave God behind I get into trouble. I must resist the temptation to make plans and then ask God's blessing on them. I instead must go to God and say, "Father, which direction do you want me to go...and then go that direction."

Amongst many things, may they put on my tombstone, "He did it God's way."

Just a thought.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The story of Hank

John Ortberg gives us the story of Hank.

He writes:

“Hank, as we’ll call him, was a cranky guy. He did not smile easily, and when he did, the smile often had a cruel edge to it, coming at someone’s expense. He had a knack for discovering islands of bad news in oceans of happiness. He would always find a cloud where others saw a silver lining.

Hank rarely affirmed anyone. He operated on the assumption that if you compliment someone, it might lead to a swelled head, so he worked to make sure everyone stayed humble. His was a ministry of cranial downsizing.

His native tongue was complaint. He carried judgment and disapproval the way a prisoner carries a ball and chain. Although he went to church his whole life, he was never unshackled.

A deacon in the church asked him one day, “Hank, are you happy?”

Hank paused to reflect, and then replied without smiling, “yeah.”

“Well, tell your face,” the deacon said. But so far as anybody knows, Hank’s face never dif find out about it.

Occasionally, Hank’s joylessness produced unintended joy for others.

There was a period of time when his primary complaints centered around the music in the church.

“It’s too loud!” Hank protested – to the staff, the deacons, the ushers, and eventually the innocent visitors to the church.

We finally had to take Hank aside and explain that complaining to complete strangers was not appropriate and he would have to restrict his laments to a circle of intimate friends. And that was the end of it. So we thought.

A few weeks later, a secretary buzzed me on the intercom to say that an agent form ISHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – was here to see me. “I’m here to check out a complaint,” he said. As I tried to figure out who on the staff would have called OSHA over a church problem, he began to talk about decibel levels at airports and rock concerts.

“Excuse me,” I said, “are you sure this was someone on the church staff that called?”

“No,” he explained. “If anyone calls – whether or not they work here – we’re obligated to investigate.”

The suddenly the light dawned: Hank had called OSHA and said, “The music at my church is too loud.” And they sent a federal agent to check it out.

By this time the rest of the staff had gathered in my office to see the man from ISHA.

“We don’t mean to make light of this,” I told him, “but nothing like this has ever happened around here before.”

“Don’t apologize,” he said. “Do you have any idea how much ridicule I’ve faced around my office since everyone discovered I was going out to bust a church?”

Sometimes Hank’s joylessness ended in comedy, but more often it produced sadness. His children did not know him. His son had a wonderful story about how he met his wife at a dance, but he never told his father because Hank did not approve of dancing.

Hank could not effectively love his wife or his children or people outside his family. He was easily irritated. He had little use for the poor, and a causal contempt for those who accents or skin pigment differed form his own. Whatever capacity he once might have had for joy or wonder or gratitude atrophied. He critiqued and judged and complained, and his soul got a little smaller each year.”

Now then, to my words. Great story.

What’s the greatest tragedy of this story? Is it that Hank wasn’t changing? Is it that Hank didn’t realize that he needed to change?

Or is it this: that we in the kingdom get so used to Hank acting this way that we don’t expect that he would progressively become the way Jesus would be if he were in Hank’s place.

We don’t expect Him to change? Can Hank change, I don’t know. In my heart I doubt it. But I must never give up praying or Hank or encouraging Hank, believing that one day, God might do a miracle in His life.

And by the way, if I ever, I mean ever, show tendencies of become “hank”, you have my permission to verbally spank me, and spank me hard.

Monday, January 22, 2007

small groups

We had a wonderful time at our small group last night. There was an openness and vulnerability that was amazing for a group of 14 people getting together for the first time.

Wouldn't you agree with me that being a Christian is much more than coming on Sunday morning? Sunday morning is a must - we have the privilege of coming together and experercing God together and sharing what God has done in our lives throughout the week.

Almost every Monday, Dale and I look at each other and say, "this is one of the reasons why we are in the ministry (speaking of our small groups the night before).

I enjoy Sunday mornings. I look forward to Sunday mornings. It is the highlight of my week.

But God is teaching us that even more than what happens in my life during a certain time slot is what happens in me, spiritually, on a daily basis.

God is my friend. I want to share my friendship and relationship with others on a continual basis.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

I really like the book of James. It's been called the "Proverbs of the New Testament". Full of wise wisdom and counsel, the book of James was written by James, who pastored in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday evening, I and a group of about 7 men, have been walking through the book verse by verse. We've been averaging about 3 or four 4 verses each week.

Last night we read James 1:19, 20, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

Let's ask this question today. How much do you talk and how much do you listen? It's a probing, personal question.

When people talk with you, do they feel that their viewpoints and ideas have value?

When we talk too much and listen to little, most of the time we are communicating to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs.

We must constantly stop and reverse that process.

I must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.

Easier said than done!

Many times we become angry when our egos are bruised.

We say, "I am hurt."

"My opinions are not being heard."

When injustice and sin occur, we SHOULD become angry because others are being hurt. But we should not become angry when we fail to win an argument or when we feel offended or neglected. Selfish anger never helps anybody.

Am I right? Yeah, I'm right - just help me God to follow through on this stuff!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Overcoming addictions

None of us like to admit weaknesses and addictions.

Yet we all have them. Now, don't get me wrong, not everyone is a drug addict or a drunk.

But some struggle with food, others with gossip, others still with approval.

God wants us to walk in freedom.

How can you recognize an addiction?

Addictions can greatly differ from each other but there are certain characteristics that they have in common.

1. They are stubborn. They seem impossible to break. They can’t be broken down through religious activity or through our own strength and will soon reappear.

2. They are irrational. They don’t make sense. An addiction can ruin your health, make your life miserable and even shorten your life, but you keep on doing it.

3. They are uncontrollable. A pattern of behavior can become a habit and you can’t stop doing it. It has you in bondage whether it be feelings of depression, an out of control temper, lying, compulsive eating, pornography, watching too much T.V.

4. They are counter productive. We think they will help us feel better – to relieve stress or sleep, but they soon become addictive and may even bring death.

5. They can hurt the relationships around me.

6. They can cause me to arrange my schedule around them.

7. They can lead me into isolation

8. They can lead me into secrecy.

God desires that we walk in freedom!

This Sunday I am giving 9 steps to freedom, but for today let me share with you three thoughts.

I must admit that I have a habit, an addiction.

As has been stated, "revealing my feeling is the beginning of healing."

I must rely on God's power.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I must be accountable.

No one can overcome an addiction on their own. We need God's strength, and we need the help of others.

If you have an addiction that is hard to overcome, tell someone that you value and trust about it. Give them permission to check on you from time to time.

Let's all strive to walk in freedom!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Doing your best, planning for the worst, trusting God to bring the victory

The bible tells us in Proverbs 21:31: "Do your best, prepare for the worst - then trust God to bring the victory."

Powerful, powerful words.

Life is hard. Life is difficult. Life is a battle.

All of our preparation for any situation in life is useless without God.

But even with God's help we still must do our part and prepare.

His control of the outcome does not negate our responsibilities.

If I am going to write a book, I must learn to write. If I go to another country as a missionary, I must learn the language.

God WILL accomplish his purpose and his plan for our lives, but we must do our part by being well prepared.

As I read what I just wrote, I realize that these are nice words, but very, very difficult to put into practice when you or I are walking through a time of difficulty.

In any given situation, in any given crisis, there is a tendency to want to quit, to give up, to throw in the towel.

Yet, we must persevere. We must keep on "keeping on."

Then we must prepare for the worst. This is NOT a lack of faith. A lack of faith believes that God's intervention accomplishes nothing. It means that, "if it's to be, it's up to me."

Planning for the worst means that I am going to do my best, working out every contingency there is, so that as I move forward with God's help, options are available to me.

And then I trust God to bring the victory.

Are you doing your best?

Are you planning for the worst?

Are you trusting God during this time?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Working together breeds success

I've used this illustration for years - the fact that years ago, Alex Haley, author of Roots, had a picture in his office of a turtle sitting on top of a fence post.

When you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, you know that he didn't get there by himself; he had to have some help.

Success is almost always generated by a team of people working together.

If you see someone who reaches the top, they almost always had help in getting there. So the question becomes: WHO GETS THE CREDIT?

I've read that, this is why Haley kept the picture in his office. He said, "Anytime I start thinking, 'Wow. Isn't it marvelous what I have done?' I look at that picture and remember how this turtle—me—got up on that post."

Humble people don't kid themselves about who deserves the credit for the good things that happen in their life. Humility says, "I don't deserve all the credit. I don't deserve all the glory. I didn't get here on my own; God helped me become what I am."

Here's an even more interesting and difficult thought to put into practice:

Humble people also accept the fact that they often won't get the credit they do deserve. Teachers and customer service reps and police officers and firefighters and auto mechanics and medical personnel rarely get all the credit they deserve. If you're working for the purpose of receiving recognition, you'll probably be frustrated most of the time.

Remember Underdog? Underdog was a superhero who frequently saved the world from certain doom at the hands of his arch-villain, Simon Bar-Sinister. I can still hear the theme song going through my head as a boy..."underdog...."

When he wasn't saving the world, he was a lowly shoe-shine boy. At the beginning of every episode you would see him shining shoes. The customer would give him a nickel and say something like, "Thank you shoe shine boy. You're humble and lovable." Then Underdog would bite the nickel. (See, he was humble, but he wasn't about to accept any wooden nickels.)

Why was he humble? Because even though he was a superhero, he didn't care if people thought he was only a shoe shine boy. In other words, he didn't care who got the credit. He wasn't after his own glory. The job itself was more important to him than the accolades that came with it.

Humble people are more inclined to focus on the value in their work and in others than they are to focus on themselves.

This is the example Paul gave us to follow: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

(Philippians 2:3-4)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

our faith commitment

Last night's prayer and praise service was a wonderful time of worship - connecting with God, and prayer - connecting with others.

One of the highlights for me was when I asked that everyone gather in groups and have each person stand in the middle while the entire group prayed for them.

It was powerful. I especially was thrilled to see groups of teenagers tightly packed into a circle in prayer.

Our prayer is that God would continue to move!

Brennan Manning has written some words that are very challenging to us (this was sent to me by some friends today). Take these words, pray about them and let's all apply them to our lives!

"My Faith Commitment"

What is the quality of my faith commitment? Is there movement and
development? Is it alive and growing? Faith is a real personal
relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. Like any human love affair, it can
never be static, exhausted, terminal, settled. When Scripture,
Eucharist, and ministry become routine, they are moribund. When the
Father's love is taken for granted, we paint him into a corner and rob
him of the opportunity to love us in new and surprising ways.

Then faith begins to shrivel and shrink. When I become so spiritually
sophisticated that "Abba" is old hat, then the Father has been had,
Jesus has been tamed, the Spirit has been domesticated, and the
Pentecostal fire has been extinguished. Evangelical faith is the
antithesis of cozy, comfortable piety.

Faith means you want growing intimacy with Jesus Christ. Cost what it may, you want to want nothing else. The moment I conclude that I can now cope with the awesome love of God, I am dead. I could more easily contain the Gulf of Mexico in a
shot glass than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.

If our faith is going to be criticized, let it be for the right reasons.
Not because we are too emotional but because we are not emotional
enough. Not because our passions are so powerful but because they are
so puny. Not because we are too affectionate but because we lack a
deep, passionate, undivided love for the person of Jesus Christ.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the
2 Timothy 4:7

good stuff....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fasting and new people

We are on day three of a three day Daniel fast. A Daniel fast is a fast to set oneself apart from our culture for a season. It's eating vegetables and fruit, and drinking juices and water.

"Setting oneself" apart is a needed spiritual discipline. It's like a spiritual roto-rooter, it helps clean out the clogged aspects of our lives so that we have a clearer, more direct line of communication with God.

As a leader in our church, I have been pleased with those who have come each night for prayer. While I try to never let numbers influence me, especially at prayer meetings, it was neat to see the response.

People are hungry for something spiritual.

I know that the past couple of days have been a neat time of cleansing for me.

How about you?

Dale just told me an interesting story. Someone who is new to our church just called and asked for tithing envelopes. Instead of pronouncing it as we do, tithing, they asked for the tithing envelopes with in emphasis on the "th". It wasn't "t eye thing" envelopes, but "teth ing" envelopes.

I tell that story, not to make light nor to make fun of the person who called. Just the contrary.

That story blesses me. It confirms the vision of our church.

God IS really doing some neat things in our church. We ARE reaching our community. We ARE reaching those who don't know Christ. It also gives credence to my two teachings coming up on stewardship and the tithe.

Oh, God continue to do your work in our community!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Lessons from the storm

A friend of mine sent me this today:

by Michael Green
The Pastor's Coach

Those of us who have grown up in the Gulf south region realize storms are a part of life. We're weather watchers. We know the maps, the coordinates, and the routines. A high “two” storm, on up, merits the usual two day evacuation / vacation followed by the cleanup and return to normalcy.

But in August 2005, the sounds of these reports were different and the next few hours required a wide range of decisions. Where do we go, what should we take, should we just “ride it out”?

“Riding the storm out” is quite a common occurrence around here. Some of the old timers delight in their accounts of “Riding out” Betsy, Camille and all the other storms. I knew some folks who rode this one out. I'll see them in heaven.

Early Saturday, Linda and I went to our offices to grab the obligatory birth certificate and insurance files then headed home.

Back at home, the car was quickly loaded with 3 days of clothes and the ever important, Tupperware Tub filled with family pictures and memory stuff. We moved quickly and by 1 pm were headed to be with friends in Memphis.

Late Sunday, the comforting news report said that the storm had been powerful yet it seemed that New Orleans had been spared the brunt of the storm with a slight right turn. We went to sleep with the plan to start back home on Monday. We had no clue as to what Monday really had for us.

I got up early and quietly went down to check the news. The sound and pictures seemed like a dream. Images, not from the Tsunami, but from my home! Shock and surprise led to disbelief and numbness. The extent of my out loud response was, “Oh God, Help Us”.

Most all cell phones were out, most landlines were unavailable, and “504” seemed out of business. I had one City Hall number and after repetitive speed dials a familiar voice answered. I asked my city council person, “How are you?” She said, “You haven't heard”? , “No”, “The levees broke, there is probably 8 feet of water in the church!”

The pathetic scenes of the greatest natural disaster in our nation's history are well burned into the minds of the world but I knew those streets, I knew those buildings. The Superdome became a symbol of despair. Just one week before, I had sat there with my boys to watch the Saints play with no clue that it would be the last event in that room for over one year!

Late Monday, I was standing in front of the television while helicopter footage showed a broken city. The high water made it difficult to now find some of those landmarks so familiar. Then, I noticed something protruding from the lake. Actually, the lake was I-10 and the protrusion was the track of the MegaZeph Rollercoaster from Six Flags. That was our exit. Our church was just across the road!

I stood still and breathless as I urged the camera to keep pulling out to hopefully see more. Then the big shot widened and there it stood, the complex of over 170 thousand square feet looked like an island in the water. Again, “Oh God, Help”.

Everything was out of order, no way to connect, and no contact list was good. For days, the unknown loomed so much bigger than the known. It was a third world.

After the storm, we found church members in 17 states. More than half of our church family lost everything. Only about 25 percent of our members came out unscathed. Today, 48 employees have had to find new jobs. The school is now closed after 30 years. Nearly 1,000 people are still gone. The phone calls and emails were so painful yet predictable. “We love you and our church. We miss our friends but we don't want to go through this again!”

Linda and the boys ended up in San Antonio for 9 weeks. John and Diana Hagee and the Cornerstone Church lovingly cared for them as I headed back to a world that seemed a million miles away. They are now back home and we meet in two temporary facilities. In Slidell, a hotel meeting room, and in Metairie we're in a mall.

Although we are not there, our facilities are being used as a center of relief and aid. Mission groups from around America have worked out of our facilities that had been dedicated to God. We have been able to touch hundreds of lives by gutting houses, giving aid, building materials and prayer.

In the process, we've learned many great lessons about ourselves and the world around us. These truths are applicable for any storm we might face.

The “MYTH / ETHIC” is not true

We've been told all our life, work hard, pay your taxes, help poor people, got to church and nothing bad will happen. This year, I have cried and hugged good folks who loved God, served Him and they lost everything. They did not deserve it. They had been faithful people. Yet, it was all gone.

The truth is we live in this world, and bad stuff will happen. Jesus warned, “In this world you will have tribulation”. Stories about Joseph and Daniel take on new meaning when describing underserved tragedy and the Word does bring insight and healing.

It's at times like these when we hang on to David's insightful words, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

Its Okay To Cry… But Not For Long

We cried a lot, and after about a month of stumbling through, we found a warehouse to meet and word started trickling out. For about the next 4 weeks, announced service times were ignored as the people spent the first 30 minutes “hugging up.” The traditional New Orleans greeting, “Where ya' at”, was replaced with, “How'd you do”? , which meant, “How much water did you have”? The connecting and sharing of stories was healing, therapeutic, and certainly more affective than a “Service”. There is a time to cry but then a time to build, a time to press forward. We're not glad about the situation but we are moving forward. Don't waller in the loss. Ecclesiastes is correct, there is a time to cry and a time to get proactive again, it's healthy.

Major on The Main Things

You quickly realize the important priorities. The frivolous fades. You also realize how much space frivolous occupied. Friends stood embraced holding the only thing they could find near the slab of their washed away home, a cup. But, they had joy in desolation and despair. We found ourselves in a situation totally foreign to us. I stood in a Red Cross line for a flashlight and ice chest. It was like Christmas. The Army Corps put a blue tarp on my roof. I then went through the military gauntlet to get my box of military MRE's (meals ready to eat). It's what we ate for a few weeks. I tried meals 1-24, and we all joked about our favorites. It was different but appreciated and it tasted like a fine meal, after a few days.

The connecting phone calls, like the passengers on the “911” planes, were placed to loved ones, not our stock brokers or bankers. That was of most importance.

Don't Put Off Preparation!

Have your natural house in order, by having documents, insurances, important papers and pictures in concise form. Have contingency plans. With evacuations already discussed, leave early. It's too late when the winds start blowing. Paralysis of inactivity can kill you. Jesus' words in Matthew 25, warns to have our lamps ready and “oiled up”. You never know when you will need them. 13 days later, when I traveled by airboat to my office, I was overwhelmed by some of the things I wish I had taken. One year later, it is still a daily issue of some things I missed.

The Character Issues:

It has been said , “ Tragedies do not make character, they only reveal it.” How true and it leads to this…

If you were a person of Faith BEFORE the storm you will continue to walk in faith as you face the daily hurdles.
If you were stupid BEFORE the storm don't expect a creative miracle in the brains department.
I know I'm being a bit facetious but it is a real key. I watched foolish folks continue the cycle of wrong responses, bad decisions, and, the ever present, blame game then they wondered where God was. In difficult times you see the beautiful and the pathetic. People giving and people grabbing, people living selfish and selfless. Some of the people who lost the most were the most beautiful in their sweet spirits and Godly attitudes.

We helped so many and most of the responses were thankful and appreciative. However, a sad sidebar is that those who had so much done for them still exhibited the same bitterness and ungratefulness as they did in their “pre storm” lives. Character, good and bad was shown and we had a front row seat to this on more than a few occasions.

Finally Brethren,

The spiritual parallels of this experience thunder in our hearts. You never know when your storm will come. Are you ready? Are all the important things done? Have you decided to stay in faith in spite of difficulty? Not blind, gullable, foolishness but a “core deep” affirmation tethered to the moorings of faith. Hold the less important things lightly. We owe it to our people to preach preparation. It is the wise thing to do.

We've also learned from experience that we certainly cannot put our faith and trust in government procedures. Our faith is faith, as it says in Hebrews, “Towards God.” Thus, we walk to express it in our restoration, response, and rebuilding.

Another neat sidebar was the response of the Body of Christ. Before the wind stopped, Operation Blessing, Samaritan's Purse, Service International and many, other God based, organizations hit the ground big time. The church, by far, was quicker, more efficient and compassionate (without the red tape) than any governmental group. The Church Triumphant is Alive and Well!

Today, our job is to continue speaking faith and encouragement against the spirit of discouragement and despair. In numerous interviews, my final word has always been, “God is Faithful”. He has been faithful in the difficult days since. I'm solid and sure in this belief. I've watched His people grow and, have personally experienced His goodness and faithfulness. The Word is true and that truth will get you through any storm.

Monday, January 08, 2007


One can only imagine how Tony Romo feels. Fumbling the snap of a field goal and dropping the ball in front of millions of people (including T.V.).

I mean, I feel bad.

I know that those who aren't fans of football won't understand this, but I didn't sleep well Saturday night. It wasn't because football is number one in my life, it isn't, but it was the way the Cowboys lost that bothered me.

I feel bad they lost, of course, being a Cowboy fan. I feel bad for the players, having worked so hard and then losing the way they did.

But I especially feel bad for Romo.

It will be interesting to see how he responds to this adversity. Remember, we can't judge the severity of someone's trials in comparison with our own or someone else's.

Each person deals with their own trials in their own way.

I almost want to say that I want to pray for him, not for the Cowboys sake, but for his sake.

It's in the same category as Bill Buckner letting the ball go through his legs during the, I think it was the 1986 World Series.

Only after Boston won the world series a couple of years ago was Buckner's error forgotten and possibly forgiven.

Football wise, that will probably be the only way for Romo to find redemption. To win several playoff games and even the super bowl.

Otherwise, he must surround himself with those who are realistic but optimistic with him in his time of trouble.

We will see!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


My top 2007 New Year's resolution is to draw closer to God in my communication with Him. I desire that for First Assembly as well.

I am calling our church family to a time of prayer and fasting on Monday, January 8-10, 2007, culimnating with a "prayer and praise" service on Wednesday evening, January 10th at 7:00 P.M.

I'm calling us to a Daniel fast, which consist of eating fruits and vegetables and drinking fruit juices. I get hungry just thinking about it!

It's kind of humorous to me, because I have been in a couple of conversations lately, where people are nervously wondering if potatoes are a vegetable, potatoes cooked in vegetable oil anyone?

Yet, obviously, no matter what kind of fast people choose, our focus is to get our minds on God. After the holiday season, it's a great time to do that. After a total focus on family, food, fun and perhaps football, it's time to focus in on the father (hey, that's good, I think I'll say that Sunday) our father God.

If you are reading this and would like to join us - here's the announcement that is in the bulletin that gives some of the benefits of fasting and some do's and don'ts.

We as a church body are being called to a "Daniel's fast."

One of the spiritual disciplines that God calls us to is fasting. By humbling us, fasting releases the Holy Spirit to do his work in us. We have a greater awareness of God’s reality and presence in our lives.

• Fasting reduces the power of self so that the Holy Sprit can do a more intense work within us.
• Fasting helps to purify us spiritually.
• Fasting increases our spiritual reception by quieting our minds and emotions.
• Fasting brings yieldedness, even a holy brokenness, resulting in an inner calm and self-control.
• Fasting renews our spiritual vision.
• Fasting inspires determination to follow God’s revealed plan for your life.

Our church family is being called to a 3-day, “Daniel fast.”

What is a Daniel fast? A Daniel fast consists of drinking water, juices, and eating vegetables and fruit.

Here are the specifics:

• January 8-10, 2007

• Prayer times: Monday and Tuesday evening (January 8,9) from 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. in the sanctuary

• All-church prayer and praise service: Wednesday evening (January 10) from 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. in the sanctuary

• All Wednesday evening activities will be canceled (January 10) to allow everyone to attend.

Here are some guidelines to promote fruitful fasting:

1. Remember that your body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:19). Accompany your fast with proper exercise, adequate rest and plenty of water. Physical health is one of the specific promised results of fasting that is properly practiced (Isaiah 58:8).

2. If you are on medication or suffer form any sickness resulting in diet restrictions or precautions, it is sensible to seek medical advice before fasting.

3. When beginning a fast, you may experience unpleasant physical symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, or nausea. Usually, these are indications that your fast in overdue; that you need the purifying physical action of fasting. Do not allow physical discomfort to stop you. "Set your face" and go through with the fast you have planned."

4. Remember that hunger is partly habit. In the early stages of a fast, hunger will probably occur at normal mealtimes. But if you hold out, the sensation of hunger will pass. Drinking water can fool your stomach and is essential during a fast.

5. Before and after fasting, choose meals that promote regularity such as fresh fruit or fruit juices, dried figs, prunes, apricots, oatmeal. etc.

• Enter the fast with positive faith (Hebrews 11:6)
• Expect God to reward fasting that is done humbly and joyfully (Matthew 6:16-18)
• Remember, to fast secretly is more a matter of humility than secrecy (Romans 3:27)
• Set certain objective in your fasting. Write them down and refer back to them at intervals. Your faith will be strengthened as you see God's answers and your objectives achieved.

The very nature of fasting depends upon God's supernatural power. As you participate in our corporate fast, you can expect a supernatural visitation of the Holy Spirit, during which divine wisdom and direction will be given (Acts 13:2-3)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Time is not on your side

I think there was a song that went like this, "Time is on my side." That can be true is many instances, but not in the case of spiritual growth. Let me explain.

If you ever want a challenging read, go ahead and pick up something by A.W. Tozer. I don't know if I've ever walked away from digesting something he has written without being confronted and challenged to deepen my walk with God.

Let me give you one quote as an example that shows that time is, "not on our side."

He writes in "Rut, Rot or Revival," (great title): "Think about people who find themselves in religious ruts. They discover a number of things about themselves. They will find that they are getting older but not getting any holier. Time is their enemy, not their friend. The time they trusted and looked to is betraying them, for they often said to themselves, "The passing of time will help me. I know some good old saints, so as I get older I'll get holier and better. Time will help me, purify me and revive me." They said that the year before last, but they were not helped any last year. Time betrayed them. They were not any better last year than they had been the year before"

I don't automatically grow in my walk with God. It is something that takes effort on my part. Sure, I am to be totally dependent upon God. But God waits for me to pick up the ball and join the game.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:12 that we are to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." God has a part, but so do I.

I just don't become a committed Christian any more than I become a car if I sit in a garage.

that's why the Christian disciplines are so important.

Read the Word, pray, share your faith, having times of solitude with God are invaluable tools in drawing closer to Him.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


What are your New Year's resolutions?

Here are a few less-serious resolutions:

“I have resolved not to do drugs anymore, because I get the same effect just standing up really fast.”

“I have resolved to live in my own little world, because at least they know me here.”

“I have resolved to stay married, because it is so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”

“I have resolved to not make any resolutions, because nobody is perfect. I’m a nobody, therefore I’m perfect.”

Percentage of Americans who keep their New Year's resolution for one month: 55.

Who keep it for six months: 40.

Who keep it for two years: 19.

I wouldn't dare think of any resolutions for fact that can get us into a lot of trouble.

There was a couple who were sitting with a marriage counselor for their first session and the good doctor asked them to identify what seemed to be the root of their problems. The wife responded, "It all started when we thought it would be cute to think up each other’s New Year’s resolutions"

Here are some of mine (not in any order):

I resolve to draw closer to God in daily communication with Him.

I resolve to loose some weight.

I resolve to keep myself focused on the vision and direction that God has for my life.

I resolve to keep myself healthy through exercise and a healthy diet.

I resolve to pay closer attention to the needs of my neighbors.

I resolve to spend more time in relationships with others.

I resolve to play bogey golf.

I resolve to read the Bible through this year (again).

Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century revivalist, sat down at age 17 and penned 21 resolutions by which he would live his life. Throughout his lifetime he would add to this list until, by his death, he had 70 resolutions.

He put at the top of his list: "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions…. Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week."

Edwards didn’t casually make New’s Year’s resolutions with an expectation of eventually breaking them. Each week he did a "self-check." He regularly summed up how he was doing and sought God’s help in the process.

Christ calls us to commit to actively work at becoming conformed to His image. This coming year resolve to be come a person committed to a godly transformation. If you faithfully do this, you will see your life begin to focus on the spiritual rather than on the passing, material world.

Here are his 70:

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects.
34. Resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year.
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day.
39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.
41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.
43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.
44. Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world.
51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord."
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time.
64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

Something to ponder!