Friday, June 29, 2007

The World Is Not Worthy

On Tuesday of this week I went to visit a lady that I had never met before. Her step-son attends my church and he had asked that I go visit her. She was in a local nursing facility dying with cancer. I was able to go see her, and am really glad that I did.
Hazel Bowes had been battling cancer since the 1970s when it struck her in the breast. All of her family -- all of her many brothers and sisters had died from cancer. She was the only one that remained. Doctors had recently found a tumor on her brain, and the cancer had also spread to her lungs, and was aggressive.
When I visited her, she was alert and talkative. She had read the newspaper that day, was up to speed on the happenings in her church and community, and was generally in a pretty good mood. She cracked a few jokes and smiled a lot.
This was all the more amazing being that she had a death warrant from her doctors, and she had a huge scar on her skull, visible due to the fact that they had shaved her head for the surgery.
She looked me in the eye, and confessed that she at times felt like she could get discouraged when she felt the pain in her head, and see the scar. But then she said, with deep earnestness, that when she felt like getting discouraged she thought of her Jesus, her Savior and Lord, with the crown of thorns shoved down upon His head and the nails driven into His hands and feet. Then she said, "When I think on Him, I can endure this. I can take this."
This, I believe is what the writer of Hebrews refers to when he writes of those in Hebrews 11, "The Hall of Fame of Faith", of whom "the world is not worthy." Only a lover of Jesus, and one loved by Him, could live their lives like this at a time like this. The world does not and cannot get it.
Mrs. Bowes' faith ended in sight yesterday morning. She closed her eyes for the final time on this earth, and opened them in heaven and looked upon the One with the nail-scarred hands and feet, and heard "Welcome home, child; I love you."
May all of us so live to die that way. To Christ be the glory!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

I have heard various reasons why that phrase is used, but for me right now it has a special meaning. Back in May, we had to put to sleep our longtime friend and companion, Chester. Chester was the first dog that Rachael and I had as a couple. We loved him VERY much and he was truly the best dog anyone could ever have. Chess was mutt, but a champion dog. He lived nearly 10 years before succumbing to heart failure. Loyal and bright-eyed to see his master till the very end. He was a "good son" that will always be in our hearts.
The boys have never had a puppy of their own. We decided that after the aforementioned vacations that we would see about another dog. That would give us a month or so to get past Chester's death, and to level off for the summer. We got home Saturday and started looking through the paper. We found a couple and called, but no luck they were gone already. There was one more, a mutt, about 10 weeks old, for $65 (the cost of having her spayed). We called; the lady lived in Reidsville; we went to see her. The rest is history. Daisy now resides with the Lloyd family. She is so precious and innocent looking. I think she will be tall and lanky; some Lab and Hound qualities mixed in. She crawled and licked all over the boys last night, and they ate it up. I know, we always say we will never give our heart to another animal, knowing the heartache that is sure to come. But there are so many lessons, life-lessons to be learned in the owning and caring for a pet, especially a dog.
I hope that these dog days of summer '07 will be memorable for our family, including the latest member, "Miss Daisy."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Recently Returned

I realize that I have been away (again) for an extended time from blogging. Life is crammed full sometimes, and bloggin' takes a seat way in the back for me.
I know that I have not completed the series (barely begun) on why to believe the Bible, but it hasn't escaped my mind. I will get back to that.
In the meantime, I have been traveling alot lately. First of all I attended the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, TX. The convention was good, I thought. The rancor was not there, and I believe that President Frank Page keeps it that way. He was elected with that in mind (and re-elected as well). One of the major items was that the SBC re-affirmed our committment to the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) as a guide for our entities. Of course most entity heads didn't like this idea, and will probably ignore it and hire and direct their enetites as they deem appropriate. This could come back up, as we as messengers desire to go back and live by (as opposed to just giving and hearing lip-service) the notion that the SBC is an inverted pyramid, with local churches and believers being at the top, not an elite. We skirted the issue of regenerate, accountable membership and a resolution by Tom Ascol was rejected. I think this is sad. We report to the world that the SBC is the largest protestant denomination in the US, with some 16 million members -- yet we all know that this is not exactly the case. Less than half of those come to church. I wonder of that reported 16 million how many are actually disciples of Jesus Christ? We also heard some disturbing facts, like how many young people are NOT being won, and in a great message by Rob Zinn and by Ed Stetzer, perhaps why this is so. God grant us courage and wisdom to do what we need to do -- cling tightly to the non-negotiables and not cling too tightly to the negotiables.
Anyway, I left San Antonio on Thursday, June 14 and was delayed a total of five hours from my original itenerary -- sitting in airports due to United Airline's poor service that day.
Preached on Father's Day and left for vacation right after church. Gone all last week with family. Returned Saturday, preached all day yesterday and now sit here on Monday morning typing for a moment.
Have had a couple of visitors already in the office this morning, and am encouraged to know that God is at work in the lives of people, seeking to save that which was lost. We serve an awesome and gracious God. May we live every moment in complete surrender to Him and all to His glory and honor.