09 November 2007 ~ 2 Comments

Pebbles: Our Secret-Keeping Beagle

Dec_2004_215

We have a beautiful, full-blooded, and 3000 year old beagle. Pebbles has been part of the family since the girls were kids… about 11-12 years now. Because of her – even though our girls are now grown – Selma and I are not quite into the empty nest yet. Many nights we are up at 3AM "letting her out", and it reminds me of some kid in my past having nightmares or needing that infamous drink of water .

Selma has duly noted that Pebbles’ love language is indeed physical touch. I’ve never known a dog before that would let you scratch her tummy literally all evening.

Sometimes Pebbles wouldn’t come home at night. Selma would think she was lost, but I’d tell her, "She’s a beagle. She knows her way home."  And she would come home in a day or two. She was fixed. That was the important thing to me! We wouldn’t think anything of her occasional no-shows.

Until recently.

Hawaii_2007_351One day she came home with a note attached to her collar. The note blew us away and reminded us that Peb had stories inside of her. Many stories. If only she could speak to us. Here is part of the note:

Hi,

We are John and Jane Doe. (not their real name) We live at ______ (about a mile from our home). We have sold our house and will be moving to Blackman at the end of the month.

We have enjoyed having Pebbles as a part of our lives for the past EIGHT YEARS. I guess you know that we dearly love your dog and we have spoiled her with love, good food, and also  sleepovers. We would like to know exactly where you live to see her from time to time if you do not mind. She has been a true joy to us.

Please contact us at 555-XXXX to let us know where she lives. Thank-you, The Does

We’ve been two-timed by a beagle. Our beagle. For eight years.

Dec_2004_038Kinda makes you wonder what ELSE there is in that dog’s mind that we don’t know. Only the Lord – and Pebbles – know for sure.

"The Does" came to see us – and Peb. We laughed and found out how they knew Pebbles’ name, etc. Lots of fun and we now have some new friends.

The rest of Peb’s story that she is old and gets around very slowly now. She is having surgery next week for a problem she’s had for a while. Her heart has been too weak to have the surgery but now they’ve have to try anyway. It’s a tough situation. Remember us if, you love dogs. :-)

Anyone else out there got a story about a pet who surprised you? I’d love to hear about it. 

05 November 2007 ~ 1 Comment

Joe’s Epilogue

(Reading the previous post will help make some sense out of this one.)

Just one more thought before we leave ‘Joe’:

From Genesis 50, Pat Hood mentioned, in his sermon yesterday, that Joe (the Joseph of Genesis) finished strong. Not because he had wealth or power, but because he was pursuing God, staying close to Him in his last days.

Two points:

1) My Dad is finishing strong. He loves the Lord and is close to Him in what looks to be his last days on this earth;

2) My Dad’s name is Joseph.

01 November 2007 ~ 1 Comment

Help from “Joe”

As you can tell by the postings dates, it’s been a while since I began my unexpected "blog sabbatical". A lot has happened to take me out of commission, but it’s good to be back. Here is where my heart has been lately:

About 11 years ago, my dad had a stroke. Right out of the blue. A few weeks before that he and I had run 5 miles like we had done a hundred times before. Since then, he was still able to function – walked w/a  cane, talk (with slurred speech), etc. Took mom out to dinner as usual just a few weeks ago. Called me and we talked about the Braves missing the playoffs again. Until a month ago.

Recently another stroke put him in a nursing facility. A couple of other strokes have rendered him unable to move or speak. This is where my heart has been. Hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, feeding tubes, Medicare, paying bills for parents, caring for mom and a thousand other things that take time, energy and emotion.

All that to ask that you to please remember mom and dad and our family in the coming days.

Now here’s the cool part. (Yes, there is a cool part.) Pat Hood, our senior pastor at FBC Smyrna, TN, has been speaking on a series called "Life Lessons from a Man Named Joe". It is the story of Joseph from Genesis.

I cannot think of a more "universally applicable" series than this one. For each of us has unfair stuff that happens to us. All of us go through times of confusion. Everyone has experiences when life hurls its curve balls (unexpected things) at us that rattle our cage.

So did Joe. This man was sold into slavery by his brothers. He spent undeserved time in prison. Was falsely accused of things – yet he became essentially the vice-president of Egypt!

In Genesis 50, Joe basically said "What you meant for evil, God meant for good." It is the Old Testament counterpart to Romans 8:28 (God works in all things for good for those who love Him…).

So what’s going on in your life that is rattling your cage right now? Got a marriage that’s stuck? A mate that’s seems like an idiot? (Don’t answer that, Selma!) Do you have a past that’s horribly painful to even think of? The point of Joe’s story is to trust God and believe that – like He had for Joe – He has a plan for you and is working that plan – whether we understand it or not. It’s called faith and it sometimes is hard to do. But the life of Joe can be encouraging in our struggle to believe.

I know I have never been imprisoned – falsely or otherwise.  My older brother (whose name is Joe by the way!) and I fought when I was a kid but he never sold me into slavery. (Probably never thought of it – the Lord does provide!)

But the Genesis Joe went through all that and more. And he kept his eye on the Lord. And he trusted that God had a plan for his life. And God came through like crazy. And don’t you think that is encouraging to me in the ordeal with my dad right now? How comforting to know that God is in control. He does have a plan. For dad. For mom. For all of us. I don’t understand. And that’s okay.

Whatever your life looks like, you probably have got some challenges in it. Trust in the Lord. He knows what’s going on in your life whether it feels like it or not. He loves you whether you feel it or not.

Get the sermon series from our website: www.fbcsmyrna.org. It is free. Just listen to the first one – you’ll probably want the rest.

Coming in ‘Get a Room’ …

* A special dog with a special story. I promise you have never a story quite like this one!

* Marital getaway of a life time. (Including a technological breakthrough for this blog: pictures!)

12 September 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Real Marriage Upon Us!

I am so excited about this weekend. A new concept we are calling Real Marriage is coming right up at our church. We have planned long and hard for this. It’ll be fun and I hope you can make it. We even have people from other ministries and churches attending to see "just what FBC Smyrna is up to" in the marriage world!

The event is Saturday night September 15, beginning at 6PM. It’s a dessert date so eat first. If you cannot make that, you can attend the SAME EVENT on Sunday night September 16. Same time – same channel – uh – place. :-)

90 minutes of fun and a deeper look at marriage. Join us if you can.

Will blog some more on the other side of RM, but I’m kinda busy this weekend! Please pray for us.

I DO know what I’m going to share with you next week, though. I just don’t have time right now. Here’s a hint: it’s about our 12-year old "two-timing" beagle known as Pebbles! And I seriously doubt you’ve ever heard a story quite like this one!?!

03 September 2007 ~ 0 Comments

One “Historic” Labor Day

Whenever you can, I hope that you celebrate – or perhaps just "do" life – with your family, whether it’s immediate or extended.

Wonderful Labor Day for us. Selma and I went to Kernersville, North Carolina (8 1/2 hour drive) for a visit with her oldest brother. (She’s got four of them – or is it forty?) Tony (the oldest) is married to Shirley who had a kidney transplant a few months ago. Selma’s Dad and his wife – and another of Selma’s 40 and his wife joined us there as we basically went over there to celebrate with her.

It was incredible what the Lord had done in her life – and body. She had so much energy. So much enthusiasm. The old Shirley has returned! Praise the Lord. There were several tearful moments throughout the weekend as we just watched as she joyfully cooked for all of us – and cooked and cooked. (The workout to recover from the weight gain will begin promptly at 5:00 AM tomorrow!)

So it was a historic day for us as we celebrated Shirley’s progress.

On a more selfish note, it was also an historic day Saturday as I played golf with those two brothers and my pop-in-law. I shot an 81. My best score before was an 84 shot years ago! So I’ve got the scorecard if any of you want to come by and see it at the office. :-)

(Are you bored enough yet?)

Anyway, have you got your tickets for Real Marriage September 15th or 16th yet? If not, you can get them the next two Sunday mornings at church or in the office during the week. Every day I get more and more excited about this event. An incredible team – a huge team – is working on it. Hope to see you there. So much fun is being planned – for you! We all need to work on our marriages. They are hard work, but well worth the effort.

God’s best to you.

31 August 2007 ~ 0 Comments

One More ‘Mary’ Thought

Another response to the Lord from that precious resurrection morning:

It was so special that you showed Yourself to Mary first. You made her special in doing that. Mary was all of us:

– sins well-documented

– self-esteem challenged to say the least

– terribly confused

Isn’t that a lot like us?

– sins well-documented (at least in our own hearts)

– self-esteem not the strongest. (Don’t we all wrestle with that?)

– confused? (Yeah, we’ve all been there.)

Then, with one word – her name – you changed all of that. You stated that you knew her, gave her hope and a joy that she’d never lose.

As we read of your first appearing to Mary, calling her by name, the rest of us know that if you care for a Mary, you care for the rest of us – who have sin in our lives, who struggle with self esteem issues and sometimes think we are scum of the earth. Your appearance to Mary gives us a confidence that you love even us. WOW.

I apologize if this seems like I am preaching. But this part of the story of our Lord is something to preach about.

Please go often to the death and resurrection of our Lord in your quiet time. You’ll never stop learning something new from them.

Last weekend, Selma and I attended a Student Leadership Conference in Pigeon Forge. Big Daddy Weave was there leading the worship. They led us in a song we’ve done at our church many times, but it "clicked" with me in a different way as I was reading through John’s account of the death and resurrection:

How deep,

How wide,

How great,

Is the love of Christ.

Lord, we are truly amazed.

28 August 2007 ~ 0 Comments

“Real Marriage” at the Legacy Tomorrow Night

Selma and I will be speaking at the Legacy Service Wednesday night at 6:30 PM. Kyle has been gracious enough to ask us to speak and we are looking forward to introducing our new fall event we call Real Marriage.

In addition, Selma and I will be reviewing a new approach to marriage enrichment at FBC Smyrna. Our Marriage Planning Team has come up with The Six Essentials for a Healthy Marriage and we’ll be covering them.

We are excited and want you plugged into our marriage ministry as you can be.

Hope to see you Wednesday night or at either of the Real Marriage programs (same each night) on September 15 or 16. Tickets are $5.00 per couple. THATS RIGHT FIVE DOLLARS PER COUPLE!

(But I’ve been told that it is not a "cheap" but an inexpensive date!)

For more info, check out the Real Marriage link above.

26 August 2007 ~ 1 Comment

Mary and the Death

I am still floating through John in my quiet time so if you are not in the mood for a brief sermon, you can read another blog (or read the one I write for Lifeway called "Lifewaymarriage.com"!).

Anyway, this one is an unrefined "response" to my reading of John. (I guess most blogs are unrefined but I still feel a need to confess that.)

I have once again agonized through the death of Jesus in my walk through another gospel. "Agonized" because let’s be honest, it’s just not pleasant to read through this stuff. But I have to of course. All of us need to from time to time. Neither you nor I ever need to forget what Jesus did for us.

Now I’m at chapter 20 with Mary Magdalene approaching the tomb. My first observation is that Mary simply wanted to be near Jesus. Some gospels say she came to the tomb to annoint His body with the other women. For whatever reason, going to the tomb was the best way she knew of trying to honor her Lord given this horrific situation.

But like in the days of Joseph of the Old Testament, what others meant for evil, God meant for good.

And oh, what good it was! The seemingly ‘evil’ of His death, you see, was the key. God used His Son’s actual death to change everything and work it for our good.

* The sweetness of the next few moments as Mary saw the risen Lord wouldn’t have occured without the death.

* The miracle wouldn’t have happened without the death.

* The hope to see our deceased loved ones again? Not without the death.

* The defeat of death? Not without the battle.

* The hope for any of us? Non-existent without the complete physical death of Jesus.

* The resurrection? Even it wouldn’t have happened without first the death.

When I read through chapter 19 I thought I was through thanking Him for His death as I went through John. But God brought me back to it again. The joy, the confidence we have in Christ, the Rock, the Anchor we have in our life storms – all of that would be shifting sand or a faint wish were it not for the death first – putting Him in position to do the unthinkable. The unimaginable. Conquering – no obliterating – death and satan and any other enemy.

So as you live your life for Christ this week – be confident …

in your life

in your marriage

in your parenting

in His love for you.

Truly we can say – because of His gift,

His life ….. His death …… and His life again

"If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 831b)

22 August 2007 ~ 2 Comments

The Van Dykes – Special People

I just got another update from Steve and Tiffany Van Dyke. They are incredible people who love the Lord. They also have an amazing story of marriage redemption. God has done enormous things in their relationship and the Van Dykes have been faithful to give Him the glory. Marriage hanging by a thread at one point. And today, I can truly say that I have as much confidence in their marriage as anyone else’s.

They are also on their way to a special country to do some very special work.

All that to say that the Van Dykes need our prayers and support. Those two, and their two beautiful kids, are right now making some pretty radicals changes in their life as they follow God’s path for them.

This is a really "quirky" blog. (Maybe it’s because it’s Wednesday.)

I want you to write the Van Dykes to encourage them. Here’s the quirky part: I can’t tell you how to contact them. I lost their blog and email address. How’s that for class? Here is the latest address I have for them:

stlkvandyke@gmail.com

Please,  someone write me and tell me where their blog is and add just a little bit of credibility back into this blog.

A good week to you. Pray for me – that my next blog will be a little more together :-)

18 August 2007 ~ 2 Comments

Moving Day for a Another College Year

I am writing this from the room of my daughter Natalie. She is beginning her senior year (her first senior year) at UT-Knoxville. We are moving her in today – the second floor of an apartment overlooking the Tennessee River and the UT campus.

She is going to live off campus for the first time and it’s the way to do it. You do three years of dorm life and then you upgrade to get something a little nicer. It’s a lot better than starting nice and then going to the "dues-paying accommodations"!

You’d think this sending off a daughter to college would get easy after three other years of doing it.

But it doesn’t. Nat was gone to Spain for about half of the summer so we didn’t have her at home for as long as usual. Plus, it’s always the paradox that puzzles me: the better I get along with her through the summer – the harder it is to say good-bye and the more I miss her. Something’s wrong with this picture! I am so glad that we get along so good – even if it does make it harder for a moment.

I remember when my good friend and fellow staff member at FBC Smyrna, Ron Alley, saw me at church two days before we moved Jennifer to Birmingham for her freshmen year at Samford. That was way back in 2001. I was trying not to look to devastated but I think he saw through it. Right there in the hall at church, Ron prayed over me and for Jen and our family as we entered into a new chapter of life for all of us.

You don’t forget moments like that.

At this time of year, do you know of a parent who is sending off their kid for the first time? Or maybe a new student who might need encouraging? Keep your eyes open. There are a lot of needy people this time of year. Is there a college student you know that could use a home-cooked meal? Let the Lord use you to bless someone this season.

And I can’t wait until the week before Ron’s first is going off to school. Another couple of years. I’ll be there, Ron, to pray for you, Jean and Ben!