A couple of months ago my 1997 truck began acting as if in need of a tune-up, so I went to my trusty automotive repair guy. “Head gasket,” he said, “but I don’t do them anymore.”
I knew another guy who had worked on my wife’s Impala in the past. I liked his work and made a phone call but got no response.
Then I went on vacation for three weeks. Upon returning I went to start the truck and got a resounding, “clunk.” Nothing more! Had it towed to my automotive guy where he found water in a cylinder, cleared it out and once again it ran. All this time I’ve prayed and waited on God.
Another name came to me, highly recommended, so I took the truck to him and left it for ten days. I got two estimates, one for a head job, $4,165; the other for an engine replacement, $5,866 (recommended).
My thinking: 1997 Ford F-150 for which I paid $5,000 plus $1,000 for a bed cover, 137,000 miles, pristine condition? Too risky! Can't afford it! Not going to do it. Put stop leak in and I’ll drive it around town until it dies. At least I can pull my boat to the local boat launch.
My trusty automotive repair guy kept hounding me. “I’m thinking now that it is not the heads,” he said, “I believe it is the manifold gasket.”
It was! Loose!
So I’m back in business. No running rough. No water in the oil. Zero dollars! The only thing I have is a God who cares.
I use numerous devotionals in my daily quiet time. My focus these days is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and Daily With The King by W. Glyn Evans, an iPhone ap named TruthPacker and the Bible.
I am blessed and challenged daily. But today (June 16) was another story. I had a head-on collision with God. Both devotionals closed out with Micah 6:8 -- "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
I thought, "good stuff." The passage was not new to me. Of course I struggle with all three areas at times, extending justice and mercy, plus walking humbly. But, basically, mercy is a cake-walk. I am a merciful person.
As I thought on extending justice and walking with humility God questioned me about mercy. Some of the things that came to mind:
I often wish I was a law enforcement officer so I could set some driver straight.
That jeep that passed me dangerously yesterday doing 50 in a 25 zone, I wanted to chase him down.
My tendency to chastise when someone's performance is contrary to mine.
Then I thought of the mercy that was extended to me by a highway patrolman who is now a friend and my church small group leader. I was doing 80 mph on a paved road near my house out in the country.
"What were you thinking," he asked?
It was time for the truth. "I washed my car in town then discovered I didn't have enough change to buy a rag and dry it off, plus I found I didn't have my billfold. So I was drying off my car as I raced home. I live right down there (pointing to my house)."
I didn't ask for mercy. He gave it anyway. We talked about 20 minutes and he sent me on my way. No ticket! Just mercy!
I want to be like that to others, those I know and those I don't.
Memorial Weekend 2011 was memorable, not as I discovered but as God had chosen.
We camped in the White Mountains of Arizona. That was good.
The wind blew for three days, 40 miles per hour with gusts to 68. That was not good. Couldn't use the stove or grill. So no dishes. We ate out.
As we went to bed the first night we discovered the two batteries on our pop-up camper were dead. That was not good. Fortunately I could connect my C-pap machine to the car battery. That was good.
All day Saturday was spent crawling into spaces my body objected to, pulling out batteries, buying one new battery and exchanging another under warranty. Not good! I put it back together and went about my business (good, I thought) -- until 9 p.m. when I discovered DC wasn't working. I had reversed one wire and blown a fuse. But I had more and in a few minutes all was well.
God cranked the wind level up even higher on Sunday. No sitting out. So off we went to a packed Denny's and then the late service at Calvary Chapel in Pinetop, AZ.
I came to read, sleep in my chair, and stare into space as I meditated on God. It didn't quite happen that way.
In the past I would have been bummed. But not this time. I chose to be content (Philippians 4:11). And I thanked God (1 Thessalonians 5:18) for the change of plans (Proverbs 16:9).
I received this note yesterday from the church I led in Seattle for 12 years (I’ve now been away for more than nine):
Dear Van and Shirley,
We felt led this year to select you as our Christmas family, to bless you as God led individuals to respond. We trust that you were blessed by your Christmas celebration and we pray for a fruitful year to come.
Love in Christ,
Your brothers and sisters at Grace Fellowship
I wrote back:
Thank you for the note, for the generous gift, but most of all for helping to restore my faith in the church.
I am grateful to God for what He has done at Grace Fellowship. God bless you all.
May He “enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your pegs.”
It is one thing to be the pastor of a church, subject to both hiring and firing. It is quite another to be considered family.
Thank you Father for making us one with You, and one another.
Our daughter-in-law, Barbara Compere Savell, writes:
One year ago today was my accident. It has been a day and time of thanksgiving as I have remembered the love that was poured out to me through so many friends, family, and people I have never met - people who prayed and gave of themselves in so many ways. I am thankful for life, and I am thankful for each of you.
I am sorry I did not give an update after my recent surgery. In that surgery, the doctors were able to retract the bone that had grown in my hip muscle and was blocking my hip movement. It has helped my walking tremendously; however, my hip range of motion is still not where it should be. I am continuing in PT to get as much movement as I can. I am also working on knee range of motion, flexibility, and overall strength.
A big praise is that I have been able to get off narcotic pain meds. That has increased my energy level - especially in the afternoons. I am still dealing with back pain every day and hope that this will decline as my back is strengthened.
Another praise is that I have been able to put my bike on the trainer and bike for about 30 min. It is not easy to get on, nor easy to get off, but the actual spinning feels pretty good. I also decided to try it out in the neighborhood yesterday to see how I felt. My starting and stopping were not great - so I guess I'm not ready for a group ride yet. :) I would probably scare everyone off and would definitely fall off the back very quickly.
The investigation is also continuing to determine who was driving the black pick-up truck. All the evidence points to the 27 yr old owner of the truck rather than his dad; however, I think the police are just waiting to find that clincher. I am not worried by it and continue to pray for him and his mom. My prayer is that they would come to know Christ as their Savior.
Another praise is that I am feeling well enough to want to homeschool Sarah and Hannah again this fall. Sarah will take most of her classes at the coop with her bother Daniel, but she will also need some at home. Hannah will get to take 1 or 2 classes with some other 4th -6th graders, and then I will get to teach her the rest. I have found a very neat history/cultural curriculum called: A Heart for You - China. We are both excited about this as we begin her 3rd year of being a part of our family.
I sometimes think Hannah was affected the most by my accident as she had only been here a year and then all of a sudden as she was beginning to learn what a family was, her mom was taken away for 7 weeks only to have many different caretakers again in the house. Once I was home, I was not exactly available for many months it seemed. She has told me several times to "not do that ever again!"
However, once again, I know that God is in control and He will use this in Hannah's life for good as he will in all of our lives. "I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future." Prov 29:11
Since you have in
obedience to the truth purified
your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from
the heart… 1 Peter 1:22-25
When I read the Bible, the Word of God, I encounter truth.
Truth is what I am to live by. When I obey the truth my life is changed.
renewing of my mind affects everything – what I think, what I believe, what I
want and ultimately, what I do.
The love that I express becomes pure, at least
in comparison to what it once was. My soul is changed. My love is changed. My
relationship with others, especially those in my spiritual family, approaches
wholesomeness. My love moves from a lukewarm state to a
fervency that I can express to others.
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of what He has
done. Birth inspires new and different activity, whether physical or spiritual. We are never again the same.
These are just some thoughts as I journal through 1st Peter.
Take for example the story of Joseph. He told his brothers, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good."
A dog driving a car brought this thought home yesterday. As I drove north along the Colorado River, headed to town, about 100 feet ahead a car stopped on a perpendicular street. A dog was driving. Yes, a dog. I did three double takes. Then I realized my eyes had played tricks on me.
The car was driven by a thin, elderly man with long stringy hair covering his face. Sitting next to him was a dalmation. The long pointed nose protruded past the man's face, right at the hair level. I wish I had a picture. Words can't describe it.
That goes for a lot of stuff going on in our lives too!
I have listened to my son for seven weeks extol the magnificence of that place. The attitudes, the caring, the consideration, and the medical knowledge and treatment are beyond imagination.
Here is Van's latest comment:
"BAMC is an unbelievable place - they are very accessible and are all about
patient care. I can't gush enough about how great of service and care we
receive there. Anything I say pales to what really happens - people recognized me
(or us) in the hall, and asked about Barb, etc. This is all the more remarkable
when you consider how much trauma they see. Amazing."
If God knows what I need before I ask, then why ask?
Consider Oswald Chambers' answer in My Utmost for His Highest, Aug. 6.
"The idea of prayer is not in order to get answers from God; prayer is perfect and complete oneness with God. If we pray because we want answers, we will get huffed with God. The answers come every time, but not always in the way we expect, and our spiritual huff shows a refusal to identify ourselves with Our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of God's grace."
I hope our prayer for Barbara has gone beyond the asking stage to worshipping.
How many God things can I recall from the crisis our family has faced these last four weeks? I don't even know them all. But here are some random thoughts:
Barb (our daughter in law) was awake and alert after being run over by a truck while riding her bicycle on Ocean Drive in Corpus Christi on July 11. She told police who her husband was and gave them his phone number, despite being crushed and broken from her hips to shoulder blades.
Sometime after the accident a trauma nurse at Brooke Army Medical Hospital (San Antonio) told Van he didn't think she had a chance when brought in. God had other plans.
Through a series of events Van Jr. met the orthopedic radiologist on Barb's case. He showed Van all the xrays and commented that with her type of accident and with the fact that both shoulder blades were broken, normally the victim does not survive. But God was there.
The children were allowed to visit Barb in the hospital, except 9-year-old Hannah. She was too young. But on a Saturday they came back and the ICU crew slipped her in to see her mom. God is good.
While we were tending the five grandchildren Van Jr. took Sarah, 12, to a school open house. Hannah wanted to go too -- desperately. But we didn't allow it. Needless to say she was bummed. She wouldn't speak to us. Thirty minutes after her dad and Sarah left the phone rang. It was Barb calling to speak to Hannah. It gave me an opportunity later to talk to her about the sovereignty of God. You might think "sovereignty of God," 9 year old, Chinese, English speaking less than a year, but let me tell you this girl is smart. She may not have sovereignty down pat, but I guarantee you she remembers the word. A God thing? You bet!
Daniel, 14, failed his football physical because of blood pressure of 160 over 80. We thought the problem was the Monster drink he had that morning, but after withdrawal he flunked again two days later. I asked him how he was doing with his mom's accident, on a scale of 1 to 10. About a 7, he said. We talked. God was part of the discussion. He processed. Blood pressure dropped immediately to normal range and he passed his physical.
I'm glad the atmosphere at 234 Bayridge Dr. in Corpus Christi is permeated with the sovereignty and grace of God. It gives me confidence.
God's plan is good -- very good. Even when it includes the tragic hit-and-run of my daughter in law on her bicycle.
It is coming up on four weeks since Barbara Compere Savell, 42, was hit from behind by a black truck going "at least 60", according to the only witness. The fact is she should have died instantly. Four broken vertebrae in the back, injured spinal cord, crushed right chest, counless broken ribs, crushed right hip ball and socket, two broken bones in left leg, broken right wrist, internal bleeding, and both shoulder blades broken. But God went before her and she lived.
Four surgeries later she is slowly recovering, about to be transferred from Brooke Army Medical Center (San Antonio) to rehabilitation at Spohn Shoreline Hospital in Corpus Christi.
The outpouring of prayer across the country has been unimaginable. The Body of Christ has responded. Van Jr., our son, texted one day "if only the Body would pray for missions as they have prayed for Barb." The support, care, and love from the church in Corpus, and the biker club, has gone beyond what any should expect.
Life will never be the same. Not for Barb, Van, their five children, or any of us! Yet God is good, and the end result will be "good," because that is God's promise. And I don't mean a step down good, but rather a step up to the next plateau in life.
The exiles in Babylon fit one of three categories: (1) No hope, (2) false hope, or (3) true hope. Our hope has been based on the revealed Word of God, for we know God has a plan, a good one.
Do we hurt? Yes! Have we experienced God's grace? More than sufficiently.
How wonderful to have the kind of life guarantee God provides. Otherwise we would be crushed on every side by the circumstances of life.
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.Matthew 5:39, etc.
These verses reveal the humiliation of being a Christian. Naturally, if a man does not hit back, it is because he is a coward; but spiritually if a man does not hit back, it is a manifestation of the Son of God in him. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but make it an occasion to exhibit the Son of God. You cannot imitate the disposition of Jesus; it is either there or it is not. To the saint personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.
The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not—Do your duty, but—Do what is not your duty. It is not your duty to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek, but Jesus says if we are His disciples, we shall always do these things. There will be no spirit of—‘Oh well, I cannot do any more, I have been so misrepresented and misunderstood.’ Every time I insist upon my rights, I hurt the Son of God; whereas I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I take the blow myself. That is the meaning of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. The disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honour that is at stake in his life, not his own honour.
Never look for right in the other man, but never cease to be right yourself. We are always looking for justice; the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is—Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.
Chambers, Oswald. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (July 14). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.
A friend expressed concern over the number of church activities where food stuffs had been consumed in our worship center. There had been the 50th anniversary dinner, two senior graduation breakfasts, a Valentine's Day reception, and a wedding reception.
As I listened I thought the problem was the possibility of food stains on our new carpet, which have at times concerned me. Until the topic moved to people who bring drinks into church on Sunday. Then my questions and the answers revealed that the real problem was respect for God.
We had a lengthy and somtimes heated discussion of the issue.
I thought I should list what people do in church that makes others think they disrespect church. Here's a partial list:
People talking during the service.
Not being on time.
Accepting responsibilities and not doing them.
Judging other people.
Reading the bulletin during singing, prayer, or the message.
Miss California got dissed for standing up to what she believes is right. She may not be Miss USA, but she is certainly one of the starring daughters of the King. I'll bet the Father is proud, even if Perez Hilton, Keith Lewis et al are not.
Carrie Prejean is a winner. How do I know? Read 1 Peter 1:13-16 as I did this morning.
"Prepare your minds for action (she had), keep sober in spirit (she was), fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (she did). As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance..." (She did not revert back.)
Such was not the case for Hilton and Lewis. They let their feelings and prejudices get ahead of the constitution. They want rights, they just don't want to give them.
I agree with Miss California. I don't agree with Hilton and Lewis. But they all have a constitutional right to their opinions. Miss California just paid for hers, or maybe God spared her.
It doesn't make a lot of sense but I've been grieving all day -- for Kenny Perry and his loss in the Masters Golf Tournament.
I usually pull for someone (in golf) or a team in basketball or football, but the a loss has never affected me this way. I have actually hurt. I'd like to be able to say my grief was for Perry, who at 48 probably won't have another shot at winning the Masters, or any other major, but it wasn't. It was for me. I wish I knew why.
Jesus hangs on the cross. His life appears to be ebbing away. He has
been verbally abused, taunted, challenged, tantalized with the possibility of
greatness, mocked, spat upon, and beat. It is now His time. With a legion of
angels at his beck and call, Jesus turned His back on the world’s way and chose
His Father’s will. Hanging there He cries out, “Into
Thy hands I commit My Spirit.” He gave up His life. They didn’t take it
away. Willingly Jesus jumped into the arms of His Father. Jesus put his postmortem future in the hands of His Heavenly Father.
Where is your
lives we rely on all sorts of things. We begin life fully dependent on our
parents. Along the way we trust teachers, doctors, lawyers, pilots, spouses,
presidents, police officers, friends, pastors, and, of course, our selves. But
in the end there is only one place for ultimate trust.
In God, and God alone, through His crucified and resurrected Son, Jesus Christ.
Manley Beasley, a
Texas evangelist who for years suffered from three
terminal illnesses while experiencing great pain, declared, “Sink, or swim, live or die, I commit myself to Jesus.”
Habakkuk declared, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no
fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields
produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be
no cattle in the stalls. Yet, I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like
hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
And Job declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)
Our current president, the honorable George W. Bush, is not the cause of all our problems. He is, however, the cause of most of our discontent. Refusing to seek popularity, he instead sought to do the best he knew how under the circumstances. My belief is that time, and maybe only eternity, will reveal how much he led us to do was under the direct will of Almighty God.
Now it is up to us to cover president-elect Barack Obama with prayer. He will need it. We need it. Mr. Obama is not the solution to our ills. Only God is.
and I visited Porter Mountain Fellowship in Lakeside, AZ.
About 50 attended. The pastor was on his honeymoon. We were greeted at the
door. No names, just welcome! Several regulars said hello. One introduced
himself and we got into a conversation about where I was from – the Deep South,
not Southern California.
After the service no
one spoke, though my wife chatted briefly with one woman she thought she had seen in a
restaurant the night before.
three year old church is going to have difficulties unless it learns to greet
one-timers with the same passion as locals. Otherwise it will grow to become a
local church club – “no girls allowed.”
makes me want to suggest some ways we at First Southern can better relate to
our guests. Here are the steps:
·They will usually reciprocate.
·Ask where they are from.
·Respond if you can identify, i.e., you are from the same state or
have been there, or know someone.
·Let the conversation grow naturally.
·If they seem uneasy, back off graciously.
·Tell them to make themselves at home.
oAnswer questions about the church.
oIdentify problems they might have had.
oGet their name again.
oInvite them back.
oShow true interest in them.
service follow up with anyone you greeted.
For a small town far removed from the mainstream of Southern California, Blythe offers tremendous diversity –
socially, economically, racially, and ethnically.
I was born and lived in the south where it was black or
white, rich or poor.
I ministered in southern Louisiana where those differences were
joined by Catholic vs. protestant and Cajun vs. non-Cajun.
Here in Blythe my wife and I have been blessed by
relationships with such a diverse group of people – Hispanics, Koreans, Blacks,
and Caucasians from so many places.
As a southern journalist who covered much of the racial
unrest of the 1960s I had some understanding of the struggles of blacks and
whites. But I had no concept of the problems Hispanics have faced over the years.
Our time here has been a wonderful education in the Hispanic
culture. To which I can only say, “Wow.” And “thanks!”
Shirley, my wife, has had a special impact on the community
through her work at the Sheltering Wings Thrift Store. Her caring heart and
penchant for remembering names has torn down walls of division for many people
here. God is pleased when we actively love and accept people despite
This has not been a good last five months. It could have been, but I got in the way.
We moved from our 3,800 sq. ft. ranch house to a 1,040 sq. ft. house on the Colorado River. We call it our Beach House. And it is a lovely setting. But culling has been another story. And at 66 it has been exhausting.
I've done too much griping and complaining and too little thanking God. In other words, I've blown it. I've repented.
A friend told me recently he
was wrestling over a problem with Christian. God impressed him to talk
to Steve, a wise friend who he hadn’t seen or heard from in months. Later that morning he
pulled into a service station and there at the pump next to him was
Steve. Steve was in a hurry and didn’t have time to do anything other than say
hello. But as he drove away he shouted back, “If you can’t do it out of love,
don’t do it.”
As my friend meditated on Steve's comment he asked himself, “How much pain can I take and still love?”
What a question?
Doesn’t that point us straight to Jesus? At the very moment of his death, Jesus looked down on all those involved in bringing him to the point of death. He offered them forgiveness. Pardon!
Clemency! Mercy! Absolution! Exoneration!
The people may not have fully understood what they were
doing, but we know what they did.
They beat Jesus, spat in his face, humiliated him, forced a
crown of thorns upon his head, made him carry his own cross, and then they
The typical response of a condemned man dying on a cross was
words of hatred and bitterness. But Jesus shouted words of forgiveness, “Father, forgive them...”
By speaking forgiveness God treats all who repent as if the offense against Him never happened. We are to go and do likewise.
My apologies for not writing, but I'm knee deep in alligators.
I have two editing/writing jobs past due, and we are moving. Not out of Blythe, but from one house to another. Financial considerations have driven us from our 3800 square foot home on the Fisher Ranch, five miles from town. Our new abode is almost a fourth the size, but we call it our beach house. It is located on the Colorado River within the city limits.
Posts will be sporadic until after the first of the year. We're having the entire family for Christmas, and then we move prior to New Year's. Prayer would be helpful.
I was delighted to learn of the University of Mississippi's selection as the site for the Presidential debate on domestic issues next year. What a difference 44 years can make.
Ole Miss made headlines in the fall of 1962 with the enrollment of James Meredith, the first black to ever attend the school. Read An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford by William Doyle.
As a journalist with The Associated Press, I spent a year on the Ole Miss campus covering the integration story. See Breaking News: How the Associated Press Has Covered War, Peace, and Everything Else, pg. 95-97.
Since those days a black has been elected President of the Student Body and a former football star, NFL player and law professor, Dr. Robert Khayat, has strongly led the University to recovery and prominence on the Southern education scene.
Are you trying to get something done through someone else, maybe a spouse, child, or colleague, but having little success? Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads, has some thoughts in his Monday Morning Memo.
"Great coaches are great," he says, "not because they were superstars, but because they know how to awaken the star that sleeps in each of the players around them."
He then suggests a 7 to 1 ratio of encounters.
"Great managers look for things to praise in their people, knowing that it takes 7 positive strokes to recover from each negative reprimand. Think about it. If seven out of eight times we encounter our boss we receive an authentic, affirming comment, a bit of happy news or a piece of valuable insight, we love to see our manager coming down the hall. But if our encounters with the manager leave us deflated, discouraged or scared, our hearts will sink when we see them coming."
"That which Israel was seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened." Romans 11:7
I did not choose God. He chose me.
Raised in a Christian home, attending church every Sunday and Wednesday, I remember no conscious interest in relationship with God. That weekday I went to the revival in Merigold, MS because everyone was doing it. It was a way to miss two hours of school. I was eleven years old and little did I know that God would meet me that morning.
We were singing the invitation. I suddenly knew I was a sinner, that I was lost, and my eternal destination was hell. Right now I can see in my mind's eye exactly where I stood in the downstairs fellowship hall -- right side, half way back. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was tagged. There was no getting around it.
I went home from school that afternoon. I remember it was stormy. Heavy rain had filled the ditches. I went into the house and told my dad, and the revival preacher, what had happened that morning. They led me to complete my decision. I made it public that night.
My choice? Yes and No!
I could choose whether or not I would obey the call of God. But it wasn't my choice of Jesus. It wasn't even my choice to get saved. It was God's choice. His call! Mine was to obey.
I didn't do anything. Salvation is not by works. It is by grace, and God was gracious to me. I just responded to His draw.
I really don't care what you are doing. I should, but I don't! And if the truth were known, you don't care what I'm doing either.
Sounds awful, doesn't it?
Why don't I care? Two reasons!
I don't really know you.
Nor do I know what you are doing.
And that is the same reason you don't care.
By the way, this is the same reason most of our prayers go unanswered. We don't know the One to whom we pray.
If we don't know one another, then it is impossible to know what each of us is going through and, generally, we don't care about what we don't know.
This is true of our relationship with God. If I'm not intimate with Him then I won't really know His desires for me or the Kingdom, and therefore I will be unable to pray according to His will. That is why Jesus taught us to pray beginning with our relationship with God: "Our Father..."
They call it the Gaius Guest Ranch after John's friend in 3 John 1, 5-8. It's a magnificent place of hospitality. I rate it ***** five stars. Nothing less! About 120 miles north-northwest of Spokane, Washington.
Words can only attempt to describe the experience -- quiet, restful, stunning setting, great scenery, encouraging, zoo-like.
Check it out. Supper is prepared. It is tasty and ample, with lots of meat. The facilities are comfortable. They certainly met our needs for sleeping, food preparation, reading, praying, and visiting. The caretakers, Gerry (Ike) and Dede Eickerman, are servants. They give you space and yet are there when you need them.
And best of all: There's no one else there but you and your spouse.
If you get antsy you can drive north 20 minutes to Northport or south 45 minutes to Kettle Falls. The Columbia River (backwaters of Lake Roosevelt) are five minutes down the mountain with plenty of places to relax or fish. And no matter which direction you arrive from you've already been blessed by the beauty of God's creation.
Gaius Guest Ranch! Five stars! I recommend it highly. I'll certainly be back, maybe in the winter this time. Check it out
Our days are a mixture of good and bad, great and small. Such has been this Tuesday in the mountains of northeast Washington.
A cool, cloudy morning has turned to a warm, sunny day.
There are two Jerrys at the Christian guest ranch where we are staying -- one the owner, up for the week from his home in California; the other the resident caretaker.
The owner took us for a ride this morning, to a 20 acre plot of land high overlooking Roosevelt Lake on the Columbia River. What beauty! He described his plans for turning it, also, into a place where those in ministry can rest and relax. Wow!
The caretaker came back from town after lunch, gathered my wife and I up, and took us down the mountain to see a momma bear and two cubs playing in an apple tree alongside the road. Somebody beat us to them -- two hunters. They shot one cub as we pulled up. The other escaped. What happened to the mother is unknown. What a sickening sight!
I'm sitting here in the mountains of northeastern Washington, far from civilization. The only thing that comes to mind is that old commercial, "Mmmmmm! Boy! Almond joy!"
The view is magnificent. The air is chilled. Deer and wild turkey abound.
We're on vacation at a place called Gaius Guest Ranch. They take only one pastor or missionary couple at a time. We have a neat cabin with a loft, a kitchen house next door, a fishing pond nearby, and a host couple who cook dinner for us each night.
It is eat, sleep, read, talk, and spend bunches of quality time with the Father.
The scene was the Senior Center Thrift Store in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ. Shirley was inside. I was sitting in the car.
Out came four people, all scruffy in appearance, not at all attractive in dress or mannerism. One lady appeared about 60, skinny as a rail. Another had scraggly hair, dyed red, with numerous bald spots. The only man was strange looking, misshapen, apparently handicapped, both mentally and physically.
My eyes followed them as they crossed the parking log. They got in a station wagon with a fish symbol on the back. The man drove.
I thought: These are not exactly the kind of people I'd choose to relate to. But God would! So why shouldn't I?
Have you ever wondered why many of your prayers aren't answered?''
One of Jesus' closest disciples, James suggested two reasons: Asking wrongly, or not asking at all.
It is certainly true that God wants to hear from you and me, and that He wants to answer us when we cry for help. Over and over Jesus said "ask" and "He will give it to you."
The problem is asking wrongly.
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! It's never worked on you and it doesn't on God either.
But a request out of closeness generally works. The more I know God because of our intimacy the more I am apt to recognize and request His desires. They become my desires.
The Lord's prayer spells this out. It is broken into two parts -- first stuff and second stuff. First stuff is relationship (Our Father), worship (Holy is Your Name), and unity of purpose (Thy kingdom come).
God wants relationship. It is the basis for our communication with Him, and our communication with Him is the basis for our level of intimacy.
(This is the second of a series on Intimacy with God. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for complete transcript.)
I tilted back in my lounge chair, eyes skyward. I saw the pine trees, the array of needles and small pinecones. They were beautiful and shady; perfect but, sadly, short term. Here today and gone tomorrow. The shape of every tree was unique.
And the sky! It was blue, one of those "on a clear day you can see forever" skies.
The breeze was cool. Birds chirped. Bugs sounded off with synchronized madness.
Everything worked as planned.
And maybe (probably) you!
You and I are the ones who have failed to function as created.
And that's just another day on my spiritual retreat to the Arizona mountains.
Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC, and other locations in the area posted an interesting set of requirements for his church in a blog this week. We need to consider it at First Southern:
Just got back from Mississippi and the annual Savell family reunion. It was an enormously satisfying ministry trip.
I wanted to go because it was going to be a special time honoring one hundred years in ministry for my uncle Carl and his music minister. But I couldn't. No money! Until God provided through our adopted daughter and her husband, Karen and Mark Lund in Seattle.
God was able to use me to further encourage and bless my uncle, who is really like a brother. What he and his church are doing in the end of his ministry is amazing. With a median age of 75 this church has adopted a group of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, and is sponsoring a new church start.
I also drove 400 miles out of the way just to visit my 96-year-old high school English teacher and senior class sponsor, Mrs. Lila Frances Foote. We talk on the phone regularly, but about two years ago she asked me if I would commit to doing her funeral. I agreed. She often tells me it won't be long and I say, "Wait, I'm coming to see you." She would just laugh. Together we laughed last week. What a woman.
While in Iuka, MS, I heard that my seventh grade girlfriend, Betty Ann Laxson Crawford, was not doing well physically. She had a kidney transplant 30 years ago and complications were giving her some concern. It was another opportunity for God to touch someone's life through me. Awesome!
I could go on and on. It was no vacation. Too tiring. But what a wonderful, satisfying time.