Friday, December 26, 2008

Mr. Bassman, Play Me A Song

It has been fun to watch our youngest son, Ben enjoy playing the bass guitar and the bass (arco).

Here are some fun recent photos! (The hair is!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas From Billy Graham

I find it amazing that an organization as large as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association must be - would still have my wife on their mailing list.

In March of 1989, she was privileged to be one of the featured soloists at the Greater Syracuse Billy Graham Crusade at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. I will never forget that evening because I had the incredible honor of sitting with and visiting with George Beverly Shea as well as sitting on the platform and meeting the Reverend Dr. Billy Graham.

I will also always remember that experience because Karla sang at that crusade as she was pregnant with our middle son, Matt. He is now 19 years old!

So, this Christmas - some 19 years later - Karla received a Christmas card from Dr. Billy Graham with the following note -

"Having just celebrated my 90th birthday, I am deeply grateful to God for the ministry He entrusted to Ruth and me for so many years, and to each of you who have prayed for me and my family so faithfully."

May God's gift of Jesus Christ fill you and your loved ones with unspeakable joy this Christmas and througout the coming year.

Billy Graham

(yes, I know it was not personalized, but it still means everything to us that we received it!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Faith vs. Bravery

Anyone in ministry knows and relates to this statement -

[I have a friend who is dealing with a very difficult situation in their life.]

Well - I do - I have a friend who is dealing with a very difficult situation in their life.

This week, when I reminded them of the depth of their faith (which is evident to all and immense comparatively speaking), and that their faith in God would help them get through this difficulty - their response threw me.

They said, "I know I have faith - I'm just not brave."


All week, I have been pondering that comment. How can that be - to have faith, but not be brave? Are we to assume that just because our faith is deep and strong, that we can't still be afraid? What does it mean that we are fearful and filled with faith? Is that not a contradiction in terms?

I know - I am supposed to have more answers than questions, but right now - and particularly in this situation - I must admit I have more questions than answers.

I do know this - my friend is counting on me (and many others) to "pray them through" this situation. I think my prayers will begin with, Lord, help my friend to be brave......

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

63 Years

Every June in our worship services, we recognize and honor those couples who have been married for 50 years or longer. I love that we do that. Our younger couples who are either engaged or recently married get to see a real life picture of marriage.

This past Monday - December 8, my mom and dad celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. I am amazed at that. Imagine the things they have witnessed and experienced "together" in 63 years!

So, congratulations to Wilburn (WJ) and Alice Ruth Worley - thank you for being a tremendous source of inspiration for so many!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Leadership In Tough Times

Author, writer Gordon MacDonald always seems to come up with right words and thoughts for the right time and moment.

He has done that again (at least for me) with these words from a recent article he wrote in Leadership Journal entitled, "No Time To Cower".

Here is an excerpt:

The worldwide economic crisis seems the most immediate challenge. Worst case scenario? Many churches will not survive (it's happened before). Christian schools and seminaries will gasp for air; some will suffocate. Parachurch and missions organizations will find themselves in a Darwinian struggle for funding. Theological ideas built on prosperity, American superiority, and asset accumulation will be severely tested.

Wild times lead people to pursue spiritual realities. Look for an uptick in prayer, spiritual friendships, greater curiosity about what the Bible says about life's priorities. Wild times humble the arrogant and acquaint us with the struggles of the poor. Compassion and generosity take on a new meaning. That's not too bad.
There are two possibilities here. One is that I simply don't know what I'm talking about, and it's full steam ahead into business-as-usual. The other? That these conditions do indeed call for a courageous response like Foch's approach to turbulent times: "I attack." A bold advance.

That's what I pray the Christian movement will do. Not retrenchment! But a bold advance involves dramatic change: in leadership, in ways of doing Jesus' work, in innovative new thought about the meaning and impact of the gospel. Again, I say: attack!

What could that possibility mean to people of spiritual influence in these days?

Several experimental ideas:

1. Let's go back to the Bible and rediscover what godly people said and did when the sky was falling in their generation. New insights, possibly?

2. Let's make sure we have something substantial to say to those who are victimized by this economic tsunami: those losing their jobs, those who thought they were economically secure in their old age and discovered they aren't, and youth who might be fearing that there's no dream out there for them.

3. Let's reappraise our priorities of generosity and make sure that the giving-dollar goes to efforts that advance Christian ministry in enduring and deepening ways. Enough of the silly ways the Christian-dollar has been raised and wasted.

4. Let's think repentantly about how a lot of us have allowed ourselves to be caught up in a global financial system that was largely based on greed and falsehood. Lots of Christian organizations are crying about what has been lost because of this flawed financial system. But we ought not to forget it was that same system that helped those organizations get a lot of what they had. What goes up often comes down.

5. Maybe it's time to seek new ways of doing Christian service, ways less dependent upon money and bricks and mortar and more dependent upon unadulterated spiritual power. The early Christian movement, it seems to me, knew a lot about this.

6. We need to ask ourselves if we have any kind of message rising from the words and life of Jesus that would be significant to those in our larger world who thought they had a better way than Jesus' way. Revival time?

Confession: I have never been a great proponent of "revivals" because too many of them (the modern ones anyway) seemed contrived. But maybe—just maybe—we're at the brink of a real one.

If you wish to read the entire article - go HERE