Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pictures from the Holidays

Whitney, Corbin, Caylub & me.

Caylub

Whitney

Corbin

Whitney and me.

Katelynn, Whitney, me.

Katelynn, Whitney, Mom and me.

Katelynn and me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Wonderful Christmas

I had a wonderful trip to Texas this past weekend, my heart is still full of thanks to my God.

I left my office around 1:00 Friday afternoon and began the journey across Missouri. About an hour into my journey I called Elder Adam Green for a visit while on the road. While visiting with him he invited me to stay over at his home on Friday evening. At first thought I said no, thinking it was too much out of the way. After I hung up I began to think about it and realized I'd save an hour on Friday and add it on Saturday so it really wasn't out of the way at all. So I called him back. It'd been about 3 1/2 years since I'd last seen the Green family and I'm ashamed of that! Adam and I have been together a couple times during that time, but I haven't seen his wife and children. It was such a joy to be in their home again and to catch up.

On Saturday morning I awoke bright and early, had a wonderful breakfast of french toast prepared by Adam. I had fun with the kiddos one last moment before I had to hit the road.

I left their home around 9:00 and drove across to Dallas and arrived at Mike Montgomery's about 3:00. I learned on the way that David and his family wouldn't be able to make it until after my departure, so I was a bit disappointed. But since I had the nice surprise of seeing the Green's I couldn't complain too much!

I had a wonderful visit Saturday afternoon/evening/night with Mike, Judy and Caitlin. We laughed, told stories, recounted memories of times past in the great state of Texas. We watched a Dallas Cowboys game, talked more, ate, then went to bed. On Sunday morning their son Daniel arrived and he and I rode to church together. Daniel is a lot of fun and it was good to catch up with him!

Services at Old School were refreshing. It was good to see folks that I hadn't seen in half a decade! I need to get out more! Actually I need to get back to Texas more. Alas, there's no time for that though!

The singing was wonderful, good old gospel standards that I raised singing. Then I attempted to preach on God's faithfulness to deliver us out of all our afflictions (Psalm 34:19). I was thankful that several were encouraged from the message, two sisters in particular have suffered great burdens recently and their minds were comforted and relieved. I love when that occurs, it makes all effort worthwhile. May the Lord be praised.

I ate lunch with the folks and had a fun visit with Mike, Caitlin, Daniel, Mark Rowell & Carol Strayhorn. We heard more stories (very funny ones) from past times, and it was great!

Then I departed and headed to my Dad's. I arrive around 4:00 and we went shopping! Then we went to his house and spent the evening together with my brothers, sister and niece. We told stories of my Papaw (Dad's father) and it was very touching to remember him again.

Monday, my sister, brothers and I went and had pictures taken to give to parents and grandparents. It is the first time ever that the four of us have had a picture taken together. It was fun and I'm glad to have them!

After the pictures I went to my Grandma's and loaded my Great-Grandmother's things to bring her back to IL. Then we headed to Mom's for Christmas dinner with all her family. It was a very good evening of food, family and gifts. I went to bed around 11, then Grandma and I left at 5:30 to come home. We arrived around 5:30 in the evening and were thankful to be home safe.

It was a wonderful trip, but as always, it is good to be home. I was happy and thankful to be back with my flock last night for services, and look forward to the weekend of worship together with them!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and look forward with joy and optimism for the year to come.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Going Home to Texas

When I moved to Edwardsville in the fall of '03, I very quickly felt at home in this community. I was thankful and remain thankful that God has so well provided for my wants in every way. As I was leaving St Louis in December of '03 to go to Texas for Christmas, about an hour from Edwardsville I was ready to turn back and go home. I'm such a homebody! I love spending time at home, it's the place I like to be the most. I love to travel, visit friends and family, fellowship with saints in various locations, but as soon as I arrive at my destination I'm ready to go home.

This afternoon, about 1 o'clock I'll be leaving the office and hitting I-44 for the long drive to Texas. I've got a busy weekend ahead of me and will see lots of family, but also friends in the faith. I hope to make it to Oklahoma City tonight and sleepover at a hotel. Then I'll get up early and drive on to Dallas. I hope to arrive in Dallas at around noon and go to the home of Elder Mike Montgomery. It has been nearly five years since I was last in him home and attended his church, so I am very excited. To add to the excitement, Elder David Montgomery and his family (I lived with them for two years) will also be there Saturday and Sunday. Sunday I'll get to see Elder Mark Rowell who is courting a sister at Old School Church so we're looking forward to a very big day together on Sunday. I just can't wait!

Then Sunday afternoon I will drive to my Dad's and he and I will go Christmas shopping together. Then on Christmas Eve I'll have time with my Mom and her family. Christmas Day I will leave to head home and plan to have my Great-Grandmother with me. I'm very excited about her return, and she's planning to be with me at least until May!

I'm looking forward to a wonderful weekend and time with my family, but I'm already missing home. I will miss my flock this Sunday and worshipping together with them. I will miss my Sweetheart, too! I imagine Tuesday's trip home will be lightning fast!!! :-)

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas with your families, friends and loved ones. May the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted, and bless you as you praise Him. May we remember the sacrifice of His life to cover our sins, and let us give thanks unto His name!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Web Link Detailing My Earlier Story...

http://www.ksdk.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=137063

Exciting Commute

This morning my commute from home to the office was a little out of the ordinary to say the least. Brother Jerry and I generally carpool as we only work about a mile apart from one another. As we entered St Louis by the MLK (Martin Luther King, Jr) bridge and entered the downtown area, a horn sounded at me. Now, I am usually the one sounding a horn and don't take too kindly to being honked at. But as I hear the horn sounding, I also hear the screeching of tires! I braced for impact and was ready as I could be to have my new car smashed, hopefully not to too many pieces.

What happened, you ask?

Thankfully I was not hit...but just a moment later a car sped by. I thought, "well, he's obviously late to work!" I'm sure I probably thought some other not-so-nice things about him, only to find out my negative thoughts of him were justified.

Why, you ask?

Well, a split second later I hear the sound of sirens, then I see a police car speed by. Then another, then another, then another. I think a total of 4. They were chasing this guy through downtown St Louis on Broadway! I wanted to speed up to find out what was happening!

I dropped Jerry off, then proceeded down to Market (you can look at a map of St Louis if you wish) to see two more police cars speed by, so now we're up to 6...Wow, I thought!

So then I see nothing more and come on into the office. A few minutes later I hear the rest of the story...

This young man (17) had kidnapped a 14 year old girl at knife point and was evading the police. An Amber Alert had been issued and they were chasing the criminal down. They caught him! Now the crook is going up the river to spend time behind bars. I thought while he was speeding through downtown that he should be hung in Keiner Plaza for nearly killing folks...now I think something even worse should occur. Either way, I hope the judge throws the book at him and sends him to the clink!

So, you see, my commute was extraordinary today, and now I figure the rest of the week's drive will be back to the boring hustle and wait of early morning rush (lol, no rushing about it) hour commute.

Thankfully the young girl is OK, all is well except for the young crook, he'll be sorry...I hope.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Announcement of the Angels

"Luke 2:8-14 describes the angel chorus who appeared to a group of shepherds outside Bethlehem. Do you know why they lit up the entire sky with their presence and their antiphonal voices? They had the incredible honor of announcing the long-awaited arrival of Israel’s promised Messiah and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now consider this: heaven had been silent for four hundred long years before that first Christmas. Can you imagine it? Not a word from God. No fiery revelation from a mountain. Nothing . . . except the deafening echo of “Thus saith the Lord.” If you open your Bible to the page before Matthew 1:1, you’ll probably find a decorative insert or some kind of historical chart to mark the break between the Old and New Testaments. But that small gap in your Bible is huge in terms of history. Four centuries elapsed between God’s final word to the prophets and the birth of Christ.

Because the angels’ announcement broke that long silence, I believe those heavenly messengers couldn’t wait to cut loose! After all, they had been rehearsing since eternity past when the Godhead first designed their plan for the redemption of mankind. They had been told, “Wait.”... “Not yet.”... Finally, God’s command came: “Sing!” Ever since, God’s people have joined in the songs of Christmas, and we haven’t stopped singing yet. I, for one, don’t plan to stop!"


Quote taken from an email from Chuck Swindoll, pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, TX, and founder, CEO and speaker on Insight for Living.

Monday, December 3, 2007

…And Fly to Unknown Lands

My soul, come and meditate the day,
And think how near it stands,
When thou must quit this house of clay,
And fly to unknown lands.

This morning, as I am working, as often is the case, a hymn comes to my mind out of what seems to be nowhere. Or, perhaps it is from some “unknown” places, thoughts or meditations. However, such musings are often the joys of my days, in them I find myself often praising my Lord.

How often do you think of death? More importantly, the joy of our Lord that death brings us to? Is it something you meditate about, or do you try to avoid it, and perhaps in your mind delay it?

The scriptures teach that “it is appointed unto men once to die.” Unless we’re alive at the time of the second personal appearing of Jesus Christ our Lord, we will meet the appointment of death.

The hymn-writer invited his soul to spend its meditation immersed in the day that he would quit “this house of clay,” but not necessarily about the manner of death, or state of bodily death, but more than that…he meditated about flying “to unknown lands.” Have you ever let your mind meander along the path of the freedom of quitting this house of clay? Meaning dropping this tabernacle of flesh that influences so much sin in our lives, to pick it up at the last day glorified. Ridding ourselves of this “body of death,” that weighs us down from proper Master service. I love to think of what it will be to let our spirits soar in praise to heights previously unknown. I love to meditate upon a time when my soul will not be bound to this body that prevents perfect praise.

I like the phrase “and fly to unknown lands,” but it is not quite accurate. It’s a land unknown in the sense we’ve not been there, but it is a known land. It is known in the sense that our God is there, our Lord Jesus is there, we will be immersed totally in the Holy Ghost there. Our families are there, our friends, our companions in the brotherhood of Christ. It is home. It is our home. John told us in his gospel that we’ve been born from above, or receive a heavenly birth when “born again,” so we possess a heavenly life, a heavenly nature. In that sense, it is a known land.

Come, my soul, and meditate the day … what a sweet meditation it is!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations" (Psalm 100:4-5).

Thanksgiving is my favorite of all holidays, in fact no others come close. The joy that comes from remembering past mercies, past blessings, past deliverance's and Providence's is a source of wonderment to me that the God of heaven would take thought of man and extend His grace to us. It is difficult to have a bitter spirit or complaining heart when focused on how great things the Lord has done for us.

I've always had much to be thankful for. I've never wanted for food, clothing, shelter or a family to care for, love and provide for me. That alone is a great mercy from God that I cherish. I've never wanted for a church home, this is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I've never wanted for kind friends and close supporters to help me through difficult times of life. I've rarely been in any type of want, and the few occasions that I have, my God has provided as His word promises He will.

This week I fly (God permitting) to Texas to see my mother, father, brothers, sister, niece and grandparents to spend this time of thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to seeing my family, but more importantly I'm looking forward to taking an entire day and devote it to the entrance of the courts of God to praise Him, to pass through His gates to give thanks. Obviously this can and should be done each day of our lives, but just as with feasts of the Old Testament, its good to have physical reminders to partake of spiritual blessings by fulfilling our spiritual duties and privileges.

I'm anticipating this day that's approaching because my heart is already full of praise and thanksgiving. I've received all I could ask for, and more. As Isaiah recorded, I have "received of the LORD'S hand double."

I'm thankful for my family, I'm thankful for the kingdom of God and Little Flock Church in particular. I'm thankful for the great host of brethren and sisters who have supported me in good times and in bad. I'm thankful for the seemingly insignificant natural blessings of food and raiment. I'm thankful for redemption in and by Jesus Christ. I'm thankful to be a child of the King.

I'm also VERY thankful for a sweet young lady that has added a new excitement and joy to my life. As some of you know, and maybe others have heard, Lydia and I have begun a new relationship that I am very thankful for, and of course very excited about! {Sorry Lyd for broadcasting it to the whole world ;-).}

So over the past few days and weeks I have entered into the gates and courts of my God with thanksgiving and praise. For His truth, His everlasting mercy that He manifests in so many ways in my life. May God be praised for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

'Tis Heav'n to Rest in Thine Embrace

My Savior and my King,
Thy beauties are divine;
Thy lips with blessing overflow,
And ev'ry grace is Thine.

The smiling of Thy face,
How amiable they are;
'Tis heav'n to rest in Thine embrace,
And nowhere else but there.

Nor earth, nor all the sky,
Can one delight afford;
No, not a drop of Thy real joy,
Without Thy presence, Lord. - Isaac Watts

This has been a very blessed week for me in many regards. I cannot begin to express the proper and adequate thanks to my Lord for His mercy, His pity, His grace. Truly, "the smilings of His face, how amiable they are." The world, with all its charms can never give the joy that comes through the felt presence of the Holy Ghost.

Over the past weekend our church received wonderful blessings of singing praises, offering prayers to God, hearing His word expounded and exalted, and the fellowship with like-minded saints was as refreshing as ever.

The sermons from beginning to end were a blessing, but two specifically fed my soul, instructed my mind and caused me to consider my walk more closely, and make needed adjustments in life. I love all Bible preaching, but especially when my mind is stirred, my toes are stepped on, and I see areas that I need to make improvement. While to the flesh this is not pleasing, to the soul it is so needful, and in my experience, refreshing.

On Friday night of our meeting, Elder Steve Bloyd preached on the subject of "Fasting and Prayer." Elder Bloyd brought to our attention the often forgotten Biblical principle of fasting. He taught clearly that God's people have observed this practice in Old Testament times, in New Testament Apostolic times, throughout Baptist history, even regularly during the American Baptists during the 1700 and 1800's. In addition to preaching the practice, he gave a few helpful hints from his own study and experience that quite interesting.

On Saturday afternoon, Elder Clayton Nowell preached the word by asking us 5 questions:
1. Are you closer to the Lord than you were a year ago?
2. Are you stronger in the faith than you were a year ago?
3. Do you take time to pray?
4. Do you take time to love?
5. Were you honest in your answers to the first four questions?
Of course his last question struck me, I wasn't expecting it, and at first I laughed, but as I considered it, and as he preached on, the point was well made that we often fool ourselves that we're doing better than we really are. His exhortation was sweet, and his manner invited closer service to the Lord and a closer service to His people. I love sermons where men can invite me to fulfill my Scriptural responsibilities, instead of beating me over the head with them. While I should always be faithful, it is pleasant to receive such a rebuke.

With the combination of these two sermons, I saw drastic need for improvement in my own walk. I'd also seen areas of decline in our congregation, so on Sunday at the close of our meeting, I called for fasting and prayer in our congregation on two Wednesday's a month, asking that God would revive us, and revive His work in our community and in our nation.

I don't record this to boast about my first experience of fasting, since our Lord said it is to be done in secret to prevent being as the Pharisees. However, I do record this as a testimony to the power of this practice. My prayer life had been stifled for sometime by neglect. Yesterday, during the fast there literally wasn't a minute in the day that I wasn't praying, or thinking of prayer needs. It was the most intense day of prayer I've ever experienced, and the joy of it was real.

Too often I get wrapped up in the tasks of life, the charms of life and the distractions of life. But as this hymn states, "Nor earth, nor all the sky, Can one delight afford." How true, how true. Many find themselves "enjoying" the world, and often I do too, yet so few find themselves experiencing joy. Joy is simply a calm delight and gladness. So often I find myself grumbling, and I find myself around a grumbling people. Just like Isaiah said, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5).

"No, not a drop of Thy real joy, Without Thy presence, Lord." Yet with His presence it is "heav'n to rest in Thine embrace, and nowhere else but there." How hard to murmur and complain when you've been in the embrace of your Savior, our Lord, our King! An impossibility, I think. While I still see great need of the Lord's revival in my own heart, in my walk, in our land, I have boldness to believe that not only are all things possible with Him, but "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

My Savior and my King,
Thy beauties are divine;
Thy lips with blessing overflow,
And ev'ry grace is Thine.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Trick? No, It Was a Treat

In Edwardsville, the children participate in "trick-or-treating" on the 30th of October, and on the 31st the city has a parade. Once the sun went down, I had a cute surprise on my doorstep:

Here is Rian, Abby and Tressa Zimmerman, a.k.a. "The Three Little Pigs." Sister Tracy Zimmerman came up with the idea and made the costumes for girls. Brother Jeff had to help Rian with her hay for the house she was to build.

In spite of Abby's face, the girls seemed to be enjoying themselves very much, I know I sure enjoyed their stop.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What A Friend

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

As we live here it is easy to grow discouraged. As we see the world crumbling around us, wickedness abounding because the love of many waxes cold, many saints we once enjoyed fellowship with have forsaken the house of God and fled. As we see these notable "signs of the times," they encourage me that perhaps the Lord's return is near, but they also discourage me fearing that it isn't, and we're just experiencing the judgment of our Lord.

There is a hymn I love, it is rather mournful, but yet it strikes my soul and makes me yearn for God's reviving breath upon His kingdom, and our nation:

Will God forever cast us off? His wrath forbear to smoke
Against the people of His love, His little chosen flock.

Think of the tribes so dearly bought With the Redeemer's blood,
Nor let Thy Zion be forgot, Where once Thy glory stood.

Where once Thy churches prayed and sang Thy foes profanely rage;
Amid Thy gates their ensigns hang, And there their host engage.

And still to heighten our distress, Thy presence is withdrawn;
Thy wonted signs of pow'r and grace Thy pow'r and grace are gone.

No prophet speaks to calm our grief, But all in silence mourn;
Nor know the hour of our relief, The hour of Thy return.

This song follows Psalm 74, a psalm appropriate when we find ourselves, our churches and our nation in a desolate condition:

"O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt. Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary. Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs. A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees. But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers. They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground. They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land. We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long. O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever? Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom" (Psalm 74:1-11).

I realize we don't like negative news or a discouraging report. Yet a faithful watchman not only has to cry, "all is well, the morning comes," he must also faithfully report, "the enemy approaches, the night is long." In 21st century America when everyone rushes to the physicians for mind altering drugs to find reprieve from discouragement, depression and despair, none wants a messenger who brings a report, "all is not well."

Many times we'd prefer to take the "ostrich approach," bury our heads and pretend all is well and hope the bad times go away. However, that approach rarely accomplishes anything but a numbing from reality.

Matthew 5:4 states, "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."

This past weekend I rejoiced to be gathered with many saints and was reminded of past times of my youth when many came to hear the word of God preached. Their heart's desire was to praise Emmanuel. Now I fear the time has come that Paul warned of:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Even we ourselves only want teachers that tell us the good, leaving off the bad. We want fairy tales (fables) that everything is OK, when it may not be. We want teachers of the Joel Osteen sort, always smiling, always positive, always unrealistic, always so "heavenly minded they serve no earthly good." Then when a messenger of God speaks the truth and warns of our condition, we turn him off, act as if he's robbed us our make-believe joy. How much more genuine joy we would have if we saw the kingdom of God as He intended it to be.

Why do we so much dread simply owning up to the fact that everything is not OK, the churches in large part are declining, and in some places, "Where once Thy churches prayed and sang Thy foes profanely rage; Amid Thy gates their ensigns hang, And there their host engage." In many churches, "No prophet speaks to calm our grief, But all in silence mourn; Nor know the hour of our relief, The hour of Thy return." And when we do recognize it as fact, why are not our spirits stirred to cry out to our Lord that we've erred, and hope that in wrath He'll remember mercy?

"Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer."

Yes, we have trials and temptations, and often trouble abounds on every side. We should not be discouraged, but should "rather mourn," take our care to Jesus and share our condition and sorrows with Him. Then we should act on our prayers and do more than cast it at Jesus' feet. We should live up to the gospel mark and show we mean our prayers, and that our mourning is authentic by acting, and moving forward in all the commands of Jesus.

Perhaps then where once churches prayed and sang they'll sing and pray again. Perhaps the foes will be turned to Christ, or at least find the Sword of the Spirit turned against them. Perhaps the prophets would speak to calm our grief, and afflict the terrible. Maybe then we'll love sound doctrine instead of fairy tale fantasies and our mourning be turned to comfort and rejoicing. After we've "rather mourned," we'll rather rejoice. Where once we cried asking for pity, we'll cry out, "our cups runneth over."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Blessed Trip to Bethany

This past Friday, Sister Lydia, Sister Sandy and myself left Illinois for the 8+ hour drive to Atlanta, GA. Several months ago, the pastor of Bethany PBC in Atlanta, Elder Lonnie Mozingo, Jr., asked if I'd come to preach for them during their annual meeting. Also invited were Elder Sonny Pyles and Elder Sam Bryant. I've looked forward to the occasion for several months and was thankful the time had approached. I was also thankful to have two enjoyable companions for travel. Commonly I travel alone which I don't mind, but it is a wonderful blessing to have members of God's house to travel with, to speak of the word of God and our experiences in His kingdom together.

So we left Friday and had a good and uneventful ride to Atlanta. We stopped at the home of Elder Marty Smith for supper and to get dressed for the services that evening.

At 7:30 PM, the singing commenced and what a joy it was. I preached first on the subject of "Practical Holiness Connected to our Anticipation of the Lord's Return." I enjoyed my efforts to preach and felt a good response from the congregation.

Elder Pyles followed me and preached from Nehemiah 4:9 - "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them." He made wonderful points that we as the Lord's children must pray, but then must proceed. IOW's, we must recognize what only God can do and pray He will do it, then know what we can do and do it.

I went home that evening with a delightful young couple, Brad & Treisa Hanserd. They've been married about two years and about the time they were married Brother Hanserd began exercising in the ministry. Elder James Allen of Alabama also stayed the night with us, so we stayed up till about 2:30 talking about various Bible topics. It was a very enjoyable evening!

On Saturday morning Elder Bryant preached from 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 - "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." He made several good points of pitfalls we avoid, and blessings we receive when we keep in mind the gospel's commands.

Following him, Elder Pyles preached on the life of Abraham. He made several outstanding points that I am still rejoicing in. First, he showed it is possible to believe IN God, without believing what God says. Genesis 15:6 - "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Romans 4:3 - "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Galatians 3:6 - "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." James 2:23 - "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." In the Genesis account, Moses said Abraham "believed in the LORD", but the three NT accounts said he "believed God." Brother Sonny pointed out that when the NT writers word things a bit differently, they're inspired men and the Holy Ghost is allowed, and the reason He does so is usually for added commentary. Paul & James make the point that there is a difference in simply believing that there is a God, and believing His words.

To further illustrate, Brother Sonny showed that many say they believe in some kind of god, or God Himself, yet deny the Genesis account of the creation, flood, giants, the parting of the Red Sea, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ and His second coming. Many we know deny these principles yet say they believe in God.

Brother Sonny then went on to show 4 ways that Abraham believed God, and that by that faith in Him Abraham was able to perform. He also pointed out that faith is not a blind leap, but knowing that while we don't know it all, God does. So while we may be partially in the dark on the details, we're not in the dark about God's knowledge of all things.

On Saturday afternoon I spoke again regarding the second coming, specifically about NT signs give to us to discern the season of His coming. While I do not believe we can know the specific day or hour, we can, by judging those signs tell the season of His coming. To illustrate, the NT says the Lord shall come as a thief in the night - totally a surprise as to when it will happen. It also says He shall come as a woman in travail giving birth. We know about the time a woman will give birth, around 9 months, sometimes early and sometimes late. Likewise, we can tell the "birth pains" around us and know about when our Lord may come.

Elder Bryant then followed me and preached from Proverbs 3:5-6 - "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." His message was very timely about many practical ways in which we, God's people, should be turning to God for guidance and not ourselves, thus He will direct our paths.

After that service we began our trip back to Illinois. After a brief stop at Elder Smith's home to change and reload the car, we took off for the long excursion. I was very thankful to have the help of Sister Sandy and Sister Lydia to drive, converse and allow me good sleeping time. We arrived in Edwardsville about 2:30 Sunday morning, and I headed directly to bed. I was blessed with good sleep on the ride home and once I arrived home. I awoke to the Lord's day refreshed and ready to serve.

When I arrived at our meeting-place, I was delighted to see Elder Harris there. After a very good song service Elder Harris preached on the subject of Heaven. Elder Harris is 82 years old, but still able to preach the gospel and preached the best I've ever heard him. Generally he is brief, but took his time and preached well and blessed my soul. I was glad to hear all the congregation received a wonderful blessing from his message. And I was thankful for a "day off" from preaching, but a good day of worship.

This coming weekend is our Fall Meeting and I am anticipating a good time in the Lord!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I do not like work even when someone else does it. - Twain

"Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." - Mark Twain

Over the past few months I have come to the stark realization that robbing Peter to pay Paul could not continue forever, and the house of cards was about to collapse. Thankfully umpiring Little League, and other side jobs kept me afloat, but the time has come for serious, full-time employment.

My calling as a minister I would consider "play," as Twain called it. Not that I would diminish the hard work a minister does, but if he is worth his salt, he has the burning burden in his soul to do the work.

Now, Monday-Friday 8-5, that is an obligation!

Adecco, the employment agency I've worked with periodically has given me a 15 month assignment with Nestle Purina. There are several positions they are filling, so hopefully Tuesday I'll learn what it is exactly I'll be doing. I have general ideas, but specifics will be good.

So next Tuesday I return to the 8-5 life once again, which I have been absent from for the past 5 years. However, I am not complaining, I am actually rather excited.

The offices are located downtown, so I can take an Express bus to work, thus letting me use the travel time (approx. 53 mins. each way) to study and prepare sermons. I hate fooling with traffic, so this option is wonderful. I'll have time for study (close to 10 hours on the road each week), I can relax and let the driver deal with the fools on the road.

I also enjoy meeting new folks, so I am anxious to meet the other "temps" I'll be working with, along with the other employees I'll be spending my days with. I also like to look at it as an opportunity to serve the Lord by as a servant serving a master, aka, employer.

And the obvious addition of funds to my budget is not to be missed either. With new car payments and those dental loan payments, and saving to buy a home - I trust the added income will be a tremendous asset!

So, I now have two jobs - one which the "body is obliged to do" and one my "body is not obliged to do."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Lovely Old Home

Over the past few months I've been working toward buying a home. I've been in Edwardsville four years now, renting a home during this time. The market in Edwardsville has been steep since I've been here, especially considering home prices in rural west Texas.

About a year ago I noticed a home in town, a very large home in need of work. It was on the market for a while, then was sold. Last week I noticed it was for sale again. So I went online, found out some about it, and was interested to see it. Today I met the realtor and took a look inside.

The house is HUGE, over 4,000 square feet on three floors, plus a basement. The house sits on over an acre yard in the middle of town (very unusual). I want a large home, and I want a large yard, and I want a small price! Well I may have found my deal, but there's a catch. The house is in horrible shape cosmetically. As in need a total overhaul within. It seems to be sound structurally, a new roof, relatively new siding, new wiring and plumbing. So the bones seem to be good.


Above is obviously a picture of the front, to the left is a shot from the foyer up the main staircase.


I am going to ponder, think and pray about this for a few days yet. I really like the house, I really like the yard - I just have to decide if I really want to invest the next 2-5 years of my life into remodeling a monster house. I enjoy doing that type of work, most of it I can do myself, we'll just see if I have the gusto to make it a reality.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Greatness of God's Mercy

One of my favorite forms of devotion is to read and meditate on older hymns. Older hymn writers are able to capture the thoughts of the soul much like David did in his psalms. I own several old hymnals and often find myself turning to them and searching the headings (songs are grouped together by doctrinal content), and I'll find a certain theme is appealing, then I just read hymn after hymn. Today I noticed several that I'll share with you.

Greatness of God's mercy.

My soul, repeat his praise
Whose mercies are so great;
Whose anger is so slow to rise,
So ready to abate.

His power subdues our sins;
And his forgiving love,
Far as the east is from the west,
Doth all our guilt remove.

High as the heavens are raised
Above the ground we tread,
So far the riches of his grace
Our highest thoughts exceed.


The greatness of God.

My God, my king, thy various praise
Shall fill the remnant of my days;
Thy grace employ my humble tongue,
Till death and glory raise the song.

The wings of every hour shall bear
Some thankful tribute to thine ear;
And every setting sun shall see
New works of duty done for thee.

Thy truth and justice I'll proclaim;
Thy bounty flows and endless stream;
Thy mercy swift, thine anger slow,
But dreadful to the stubborn foe.

Thy works with sovereign glory shine
And speak thy majesty divine;
Let every realm with joy proclaim
The sound and honor of thy name.

Let distant times and nations raise
The long succession of thy praise;
And unborn ages make the song
The joy and labor of their tongue.

But who can speak thy wondrous deeds;
Thy greatness all our thoughts exceeds;
Vast and unsearchable thy ways,
Vast and immortal be thy praise.


The faithfulness of the promises.

Begin, my tongue, some heavenly theme,
And speak some boundless thing;
The mighty words, or mightier name,
Of our eternal King.

Tell of his wondrous faithfulness,
And sound his power abroad;
Sing of the glory and the grace
Of our Redeemer God.

Proclaim salvation from the Lord,
Nor wretched, dying men;
His hand has writ the sacred word,
With an immortal pen.

Recorded by eternal love,
The mighty promise shines;
Nor can the powers of darkness 'rase
Those everlasting lines.

His every word of grace is strong
As that which built the skies;
The voice that rolls the stars along
Speaks all the promises.

O might I hear thy heavenly tongue
But whisper, 'Thou art mine;'
Those gentle words should raise my song
To notes almost divine.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

If helicopters are so safe, how come there are no vintage / classic helicopter fly-ins?

Perhaps it is a good thing that I read this quote AFTER my first helicopter ride ever!

Today, Dad and I took a 15-20 minute helicopter ride over the city of St. Louis, and boy, it was great. I've flown in planes many, many times; however, I've always wanted to ride in a helicopter. Today we had that chance.

Here are some photos I took from the air: (I won't include them all, I took over 100.)


Missouri Botanical Garden (lop-sided view)

St. Louis Art Museum (Forest Park)

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Roof of Union Station

Hyatt Hotel at Union Station

City Museum

Downtown from the West

Down the Mississippi

Up the Mississippi

If you look close, you'll see a boat on its side...this is here from the Great Flood of 1993. I just thought it was a pretty cool shot.

Our Ride (the blades really are turning)

Right Down the Middle

6-3 for the Astros

It was a good game once it got moving... There were several good plays, and it was a nice night at the stadium. In the bottom of the 7th though, the Cardinals blew their one good chance of saving it. So they lost 6-3. But it was fun anyway!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Take me out to the ball game...

Dad's flight arrives in a little over two hours, then I am sure we'll head out for a VERY good steak dinner, then on to the ball game to hopefully see the Cardinals whip the Astros. However, since I am from Texas, I won't be heartbroken if it falls the other way. Either way, we have great seats just behind the home team dugout, good weather and a father-son evening, so what more could be asked for? Perhaps a hot dog!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Encourage Him - Deuteronomy 1:37-38

"Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it."

Moses, the man of God, a great leader of Israel was kept out of the promised land because he failed to obey the voice of God. When commanded to speak to the rock (a portrait of Christ), Moses instead angrily struck the rock twice, and for that disobedience was not allowed to enter Canaan.

Most individuals would be angry with the Lord, would attempt to justify themselves, discontinue their service to God if God did not reconsider and capitulate. Moses did beg the Lord to reconsider, but the Lord firmly responded that He would not change His mind. So, Moses bowed in submission and was allowed to view the promised land just before his death from Mt. Pisgah. This beautiful sight has been recorded in some of our hymns:

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah's lofty height,
I view my home, and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I'll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!

Not only did the Lord tell Moses he would not enter Canaan, but He proceeded to inform him that Joshua would. Then the Lord commands Moses to encourage Joshua, to strengthen him so he could cause Israel to inherit the land.

What a challenge, what a charge, and what character of Moses that required. Not only was he being kept from the promise, but was commanded to give strength to the one who would lead this people. Moses is charged to help his successor, and do so with grace. What humility. What a lovely picture.

We see it again in the scriptures when David was not allowed to build the temple, but told that his son Solomon would. David's response was to provide financially for the cause instead of complaining that he would not build the Lord's house.

Too often we focus on our own desires in the kingdom of God, instead of realizing the greater importance is the glory of the Lord, and causing Israel to inherit the blessing. Whether it is Moses or Joshua, David or Solomon it really doesn't matter. The true mark of our character is when we hear the Lord say no, and humbly encourage our successors in the work of the Lord.

Sometimes we'd rather (in our flesh) be a discouragement because of our own conceit, yet what better testimony to our service to God than to have it said we encouraged the saints after us.

In a very discouraging world, this simple message of God to Moses, "encourage him," is greatly needed. It should be our chief desire to encourage, strengthen or edify the brethren. In so doing we show our true humility and love for them, and thus our love for God.

May we be encouraging to one another.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It Is Finished

Not redemption, though that is finished too. No, I mean the dental work. Today was my last visit to the dentist for six months! Today he installed the bridge which completed three months worth of extractions, root canals, fillings, stitches, gauze, salt water rinses, learning to eat different ways each week, etc... No more shots, laughing gas, tugging, pulling, drilling or grinding. Now the only grinding is the nice new grinders that he installed. Too bad Solomon didn't have them when he said the "grinders cease because they are few." My grinders are in good order!

Although I do have to say that I'll miss the weekly and bi-weekly visits (I know, I am abnormal) to see Dr. Stapleton, his nurse Terri, and also Lisa and Linda. They've been great. However, Terri did ask about our services today and spoke as if she might drop in for worship at Little Flock! I hope she does.

So, folks, all the dental posts are finished likewise, now I'll have to find something new and exciting to write about. Perhaps I'll get back to the Bible again!

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Visit from Dad

I am very excited, my Dad called today to let me know he's coming in two weeks to spend a weekend with me. He'll fly in on Friday morning and be here through Sunday afternoon. I haven't seen my Dad since Christmas, and this is his first visit to St Louis since I've been here, 4 years next month.

We've got the weekend halfway planned, on Friday & possibly Saturday night we'll take in a Cards vs Astros game. We've got great tickets for the Friday night game, right on the first base line just a few rows behind the dugout! When I was a kid I often went to games in Arlington with my Dad and siblings to see the Rangers play. I enjoy a good ballgame, especially with Dad.

I'm sure we'll take in some other sights, good food (he loves steaks, like me) and some good movies (like me he like tv and theaters).

Here is a photo of my Dad, and my niece, Katelynn, taken at Christmas '06. Katelynn was very excited showing off the wad of $20's my Dad had given her for her gift.

So far, this has been a good year for family visits. My Grandma was here a couple weeks ago and spent 3 days with me, Dad is coming in two weeks, then my Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma are coming for Thanksgiving and spending about 5 days. It sure makes it easier being away from Texas when a little Texas comes here to Illinois!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Have a Heart

Recently, due to new dental bills and the new blessing of a car, I realized that it was time to find work to supplement my income as a pastor. So, I applied with Adecco, The Employment People! I've worked with them before, in San Antonio. They're a temp-to-hire company that I've enjoyed working for before.

I had two assignments this week, one with GE Supra, the real estate division of GE, the second with Philips Medical.

My duties for Philips were extremely interesting. I was a model (I know, laugh hard there) for doctors, nurses and technicians. For what you may ask? Well, they were testing new software for their echocardiogram machines. IOW's, they were doing ultrasounds of my heart.

The real interesting part, the new software allows you to see the ultrasound in 3D. This has been available for a while for expectant mothers, allowing them to see 3D images of their children before they're born. However, to get a picture of the heart, they need images of the interior, not just the exterior as with a baby. Well, they've accomplished this.

So, I was watching my heart in 3D on a 27 inch flat screen panel, and it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen!


Here is the traditional 2D image of a heart, which they did also and was interesting too. But the 3D is this image, in color of the entire heart. They could see it from any angle from the exterior, then could take any portion of the exterior away and look at the interior of the heart. So I saw the blood flow, valves, etc... of my heart from the inside! IT WAS COOL!

Watching the show, I could imagine how helpful this technology will be for medical teams to hopefully see a problem without having first to explore with a camera and other invasive methods. Obviously, seeing the problem is only one part, they still have to do something about it. However, I got a clean bill of health, stating that my heart looks to be in excellent shape.

I am constantly amazed at the inventions of men, but above all thankful to God for giving man the ability to do these things. I just wish that all men everywhere would give Him the thanks He deserves for these and other blessings.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Enjoyable Meeting

This past Saturday I was blessed to attend the Hazel Creek Association at Hazel Creek Church near Greentop, Missouri. The meeting began on Friday, but with my Grandmother here (another blog post to come), I wasn't able to arrive until Saturday morning.

The setting of Hazel Creek Church is just beautiful. It is located about 3 miles west of Greentop, which is about 2 hours north of Columbia, MO. The area has many rolling hills, gorgeous valleys, green grass, and my personal favorite - cows. Growing up in Texas you couldn't drive five miles without seeing cows on either side of the road. Here in Illinois we don't have that same abundance of livestock. The church is located on a hill overlooking a beautiful valley, when I looked out the first time it took my breath away. I know, you want pictures. I took them, but accidentally deleted them! Argh!

I had been forewarned that services would start earlier than normal, at 9:30 to be precise. Breakfast was to be served also, so I arrived about 8:30.

There was already a good crowd gathered when I arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to see several folks I never imagined seeing.

First, Elder Steve Woods from Arkansas, who was ordained last December. I hadn't seen Brother Steve in 4 years and we had a wonderful visit.

Second, Elder Mark Wattenbarger, who was ordained just this past July. Brother Mark and I were exercising in the ministry together back in Texas. I met him for the first time in 1998 at Gorman Primitive Baptist Church in Gorman, TX. We were good friends who rarely saw or spoke to one another, but whenever together our conversations were full and very sweet. The last time I saw Brother Mark was in 2002, so I really rejoiced to see him.

The morning service was a real blessing. To open the service, Elder Clyde Farmer spoke of the heavenly Jerusalem and Christ being the Light there. He then offered a very sweet prayer. Elder Alan Curtis spoke first from Exodus, charging us to follow the pattern God has shown us. I really enjoyed his message. I've only heard him once before this, but Elder Curtis' messages are always very thought provoking and edifying.

Following him, Elder Mark Wattenbarger preached. The last time I heard Brother Mark was in 1999 I believe, and each time I heard him in the past I enjoyed him, but the ease with which he spoke and the confidence he had were very different than the last time I heard him. Of course, 8 years should make a difference for any of us! He preached on the resurrection, the hope it gives us and the encouragement we receive knowing our Lord was raised from the dead. It was a very good message.

Following him, Elder Steve Woods preached. And boy did he ever! I'd not heard Brother Steve before, but I really enjoyed his style. He is not the most "orthodox" in delivery, but entertaining in a positive way. He just really reminds me a lot of home. His message was on the name the "Lord Jesus Christ." He preached a wonderful sermon proving that Jesus is the Son of God, and thus our Lord.

We then broke for lunch and I had several good visits, especially with Elders Jeff Cochran, Jesse Halbgewachs, Brother George & Sister Liz, and Sister Cleone Stidmon.

After lunch we gathered again for services and Brother Stephen Conte from Iowa opened the services charging us to think of the true, honest, just, pure, lovely things, those things of good report and virtuous, the things that give praise. He then offered a very fervent prayer.

I then attempted to preach on Christ our Advocate and had good response from the congregation. I then had to leave, but to follow me were to be Elders John Anderson and Kobee Trueblood.

I then had a wonderful drive to the Corn's home for our monthly church fellowship, I arrived late, but supper was ready and then good visiting and to top it all off, a good bowl of homemade ice cream! Then I went home and hit the bed for rest for Sunday's services at Little Flock.

Below is a picture of some of the ministers present at Hazel Creek.



From Left to Right:

Row 1 - Elders Chris Crouse, Mark Wattenbarger, Jeff Cochran, Jesse Halbgewachs
Row 2 - Elders Russell Key, James Harris, Lic. Stephen Conte, Elder Kobee Trueblood
Row 3 - Elders John Anderson, Clyde Meek, Clyde Farmer, Steve Woods, Darle Siegel (Pastor & Moderator)

If you are ever presented with the opportunity to visit Hazel Creek Church, I highly recommend you do. They are a warm, lovely and faithful band of the Lord's people who are soldiering on respectably in His service.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Another Year

As most of you know, yesterday was my 27th birthday. And it was a good day. It began with a phone call from my sister (hadn't heard from her in a couple months), then my Dad called. Later I talked to several church members, then Mom, then Grandma ... and you get the point. The day was topped off with a wonderful meal with Brother Paul and Sister Barb Reynolds at Texas Roadhouse. I really enjoy that restaurant, but I enjoy even more the time I'm able to spend with this godly couple. They've become surrogate parents to me that I lean on a lot.

In past years I've hoped to downplay the event, usually with little success. However, as time has marched on I've grown more comfortable with birthdays in general, but I'm growing more uncomfortable with the ushering in of additional numbers to my age.

I realize that 27 is still young, but the thing I find somewhat bothersome is the swiftness that these days, months and years are moving. I am beginning to see small signs of the "aging process" in my body. There are wrinkles beginning to form around my eyes, mostly from smiling (which better from smiling than frowning), every few days I am noticing more and more gray hair coming in (perhaps stress?). My hair is thinning a little, or lot on top. And beyond the superficial things of wrinkles and graying hair is the effects of how I feel. In some ways I am in better shape now than I've been in for nearly 10 years. During my high school years I was fairly active, ate well and was in pretty good shape. After high school I began smoking which killed my immune system, I quit eating well and I adopted the habit of too many cokes.

I quit smoking May 7, 2006 (15 months ago) and have seen a drastic improvement in my immune system. I've started eating far healthier foods, and I've started exercising pretty regularly. All this to say I feel much better. But, yes, there's a but. I notice small aches where they've never been before, I pull muscles easier than I've done before, and I get tired just a bit easier. Now, all this is minor, no major pains, no major fatigue, just little things I am noticing.

And it bothers me just a bit. Why? Because I know that it is a process that is irreversible. The wrinkles will only become more noticeable, the dark brown of my hair is going to continue to give way to gray. The small aches will happen more often with increased pain, etc...

All of these things are just more evidences of a depraved world, and that I am a depraved member of this world. Each time I put on my bifocals, see a gray hair, notice a new wrinkle, wince from a pain in my knees, I am reminded that "sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." I know that sin is working death in me. And as each year approaches and passes, sin has gained a little more edge and brought me a little closer to its conclusion of my physical demise.

But then I remember that when that moment comes, I will be absent from the body, but present with the Lord, so it is all OK. No wonder in the midst of that verse Paul said, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." As I sit here and wonder of all the events that may transpire between now and my departure, there's no telling if there will be battles with cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, strokes, knee replacements, organs failing. Who knows what manner of spiritual battles are also present before me? I do not know. I do not need to know. All we must do is continue in the intervening time to walk not by sight, but faith.

So the years are passing quickly, and more quickly each year. "For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." While some might find such thoughts depressing, discouraging or even morose, I find them encouraging. Encouraging to use the "little time" for the purposes that my God has placed me here. So I look forward to this, another year, to serve the Lord and His people in a better way than in the year of my life before. I just pray for grace to accomplish that goal!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Faith, Hope & Charity

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity"
(1 Corinthians 13:13).

I can think of two immediate reasons why the greatest of faith, hope and charity is charity.

1. Charity shall continue with us in heaven, while faith and hope shall cease.
2. Charity is the outward evidence of the inward existence of faith and hope.

Perhaps there are other reasons that charity is the greatest of these three, but these two I've named appear to be the most important.

1st. Charity most simply defined is "love," or, "love in action." Faith is the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hope is the "anchor of the soul." Faith gives us the ability to believe in things that we cannot see, hope gives us the ability to hold on to such belief, charity is putting our faith and hope into action.

In heaven, when we're no longer seeing through a glass darkly, but seeing God, heaven, the angels, our loved ones, and above all the Lord Jesus Christ face to face; we'll no longer need faith to believe in something unseen. Nor will we need hope, for what a man sees, why doth he yet hope for it?

However, charity, or love will continue through all eternity. Love, one of the greatest attributes of our God, a love He places in His people when they're born again, will be evident in its purest form in glory. To know of these three blessings, faith, hope and charity, that love is eternal, no wonder Paul said the greatest of these is charity.

2nd. Charity, or love in action, is the expression of the faith and hope we possess. James complained of those who had faith without works, stating it was a dead faith. To contrast that, a person who is exhibiting the love of God to others builds up his own faith and hope, and gives a godly testimony to bother faith and hope. In addition, he also gives great testimony to the person of God, when he as an ambassador of God shows the love of God in his actions toward others.

While faith and hope are both extremely and vitally important to the child of God, it is as vital that the child of God first possess charity from God, and then is faithful to display that love to his family, friends, neighbors and even yes, to his enemies.

When a child of God is faithful to portray the love of God in his actions, it is a beautiful portrayal of the life of the Lord Jesus and will motivate others to follow suit. So in this sense, charity is the greatest of these.

May the Lord's people be mindful and diligent to express their love one to another by serving and ministering to one another.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Nearing the end, the end in sight, a light at the end of the tunnel...

Well folks, for those who have been interested in my dental posts, they shall soon come to an end. Thankfully!

First, praise and thanksgiving to my Lord for the mercy and grace He has extended to me. This process had gone so smoothly. From His help in financing the procedures, blessing me with very little pain through the process, and for many other blessings throughout the past two months.

Tuesday, I went to have the impressions made for the 3 crowns for the left side. The doc decided to also remove the last wisdom tooth. He thought before a surgeon needed to do so, but after looking at it time and again he decided he could handle it himself. I'm still a bit swollen from that, but otherwise I'm fine. I've got the temporary crowns on, all bright and shiny silver tin models. The permanent crowns will be white, well two will be. The one way in the back will be gold. I've never owned any real gold in my life, so now I'll be the proud owner of a gold crown. Just not the type to wear on my head as a monarch would - too bad!

I return in two weeks to have the permanent crowns installed, then he will take impressions of the right side for the crowns that will make the bridge. Two weeks for manufacturing the bridge, then it'll be on. Then I'll be all finished. So just two more visits! Which will be a total of 8 visits since the beginning back in June.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed, and who have laughed with me through some of the experiences!

Monday, July 23, 2007

"...the Evidence of Things Not Seen."

Faith - a mystical, magical, inexplicable truth that is nestled in the heart, soul and mind of the believer. It is a gift, that God has dealt in measure to each of His children. It is what the just live by, by it the sick are made whole.

By faith we know the worlds were made, by faith offerings have been made to God. By faith men have been translated that they should not see death. Without faith, we cannot please God. By faith Noah built the ark, Abraham went to a place God later would show him. By faith Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sought a city whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sara conceived, by faith Abraham offered Isaac. By faith Isaac blessed his sons, and Jacob, his, while dying. Joseph, by faith, prophesied of the children of Israel's departure from Egypt, by faith Moses was hid. By faith Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. By faith he forsook Egypt, kept the Passover, passed through the Red Sea. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, and Rahab perished not.

It has been through faith that kingdoms have been subdued, righteousness has been wrought, promises have been realized and obtained, the mouths of lions have been closed. By faith, men have quenched the violence of fire, they've escaped the edge of swords. By faith, when weak, were made strong and able to wax valiant in fight and turn to flight the armies of aliens. By faith women have seen their loved ones blessed by God to see life again. Other women, by faith, were tortured, not accepting deliverance, so by faith they could obtain a better resurrection.

By faith some have had trials of cruel mockings, just as our Lord Jesus. By faith some have been scourged, stoned, sawn asunder. Some, by faith have been in bonds and in prison. Some, by their faith were tempted, and finally slain by a sword. Through it all, by faith they wandered in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented. By faith they were able to wander in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Of these it is said, "the world was not worthy."

By faith they lived, by faith they suffered, by faith they died.

So yes, it is mystical, it is magical, it is inexplicable. Above all, it is a powerful witness that man cannot extinguish. And without it we would perish. Without it we would have no anchor for our soul and life. Without it, we would drift forever.

Faith is the brightest evidence
Of things beyond our sight,
Breaks through the clouds of flesh and sense,
And dwells in heav'nly light.

It sets times past in present view,
Brings distant prospects home,
Of things a thousand years ago,
Or thousand years to come.

By faith we know the worlds were made
By God's almighty word;
Abram, to unknown countries led,
By faith obeyed the Lord.

He sought a city fair and high,
Built by th' eternal hands,
And faith assures us, though we die,
That heav'nly building stands.

Friday, July 20, 2007

You don't have to brush your teeth - just the ones you want to keep. - Author Unknown

I know I haven't posted in a while, I've been quite busy and unable to do so. And, while I've been busy, not much worthy of note has been happening.

Today; however, I'll give you the updates from the dental side of life.

Yesterday, I went for a root canal for the final part of the work on the left side of my mouth. Well, not quite final, they still have to put the crowns on (3 in all on that side), then we're done there. However, all the fillings (1) and root canals (3) are finished.

Today was the worst day yet. It wasn't too bad, at least it isn't yet - but the anesthesia hasn't worn off yet, so we'll see how it feels in a few hours.

Today, he did a root canal on an upper tooth - that took about an hour and a half. He had some trouble with it, as did I. I guess his anesthesia didn't work as well, because there was one canal I kept feeling as he dug around in it.

Once he finished the root canal, he pulled the upper wisdom tooth and did that ever hurt. He thought I was moaning because of the pressure, once I could talk I let him know it was the pain. It wasn't so bad except that he missed a root and had to dig around for it.

With that completed, he did a filling on a lower tooth, that was relatively easy and altogether painless.

He then removed a lower tooth right in front of the wisdom tooth and made access to get it out too. When he removed the molar, I thought he thought I was a snake and could open my jaw 180 degrees, but I'm not and I couldn't! I thought my jaw would snap. But he finally got it out, and then the wisdom tooth came right out with great ease.

Then he moved up top. He had two more teeth to pull there. The first one was a doozy and took him some maneuvering to do, but he finally got it out. Then the one in front of it I suppose was easy, I didn't feel much there and it went quickly. Then he sewed me up and sent me on my way.

After 2 1/2 hours he was all through, and now so am I.

To recap today's work:

1 Root Canal
1 Filling
5 Extractions

To recap the work from start till now:

4 Root Canals
2 Fillings
7 Extractions

Next week I return to start getting the crown work started. All the major work is complete, now its just cosmetic. 3 Crowns and a 4 part bridge and I'll be smiling big again! We've got about a month left and it should all be finished!!! I can't wait.

PS, many thanks to Sister Lydia for driving me to and from the dental appointment, and for retrieving an ice pack from Walgreens. A true life saver!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sweet Harmony

O tell me no more of this world's vain store,
The time for such trifles with me now is o'er'
A country I've found where true joys abound,
To dwell I'm determined on that happy ground.

No mortal doth know what Christ will bestow,
What life strength and comfort! go after him, go!
Lo, onward I move, to see Christ above,
None guesses how wondrous my journey will prove.

Great spoils I shall win from death, hell and sin,
'Midst outward afflictions shall feel Christ within;
And still, which is best, I in his dear breast,
As at the beginning, find pardon and rest.

When I am to die, "Receive me," I'll cry,
For Jesus hath loved me, I cannot tell why.
But this I do find, we two are so joined,
He'll not live in glory and leave me behind;

This blessing is mine, through favor divine,
And O, my dear Jesus, the praise shall be thine
In heaven we'll meet in harmony sweet,
And glory to Jesus! we'll then be complete.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dentist: a prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coin out of your pocket. - Ambrose Bierce

I know, I know - many of you anxiously awaited the next story of hilarity, calamity and absurdity (aka H.C.A.) regarding my dental woes. Yet, when I arrived home, I just didn't want to spend 30 minutes typing out a hilarious review of my ROOT CANAL. I felt just fine, which I describe in further detail, but I wanted to take a nap, so I did.

The morning began with my excitement of going to the dentist. No seriously, I was excited. Stupid perhaps, but excited nonetheless. Several had told me horror stories of root canal experiences, but thankfully, Brother Jeff Zimmerman gave me some good comfort about it. I actually wasn't very nervous anyway, but it is nice to receive reassurance.

I arrived for my 9 AM appointment right on time, I had a big smile on my face and they looked at me as though I might need to be placed in an asylum. They said I was the only patient they had that comes in with a bounce in his step and smile on his face. But what can I say? I am a happy guy. (Most of the time.)

Then the Doc came out and said, "Let's get started!" So get started we did, boy did he waste no time.

I got in the chair, he gave the swab of anaesthesia, then about 10,000 shots, and while I don't enjoy them, they weren't too bad. Plus I know if I don't get them, the real pain will follow afterwards.

Then that nice nurse Terri put the nitrous oxide on, and boy did I like that again. Once more, I felt as though I were floating away, I opened wide and let the Doc do his thing.

He strapped some kind of bands around the two teeth. Oh, by the way - I like this dentist a lot, a whole lot. Yet he could communicate a little better. Two weeks ago, I thought I was having one tooth removed, no - it was two. Today, I thought it was one root canal - BIG MISTAKE, it was TWO.

So he straps on some bands, then places some plastic thing which isolates the area, and allows me still to breathe and swallow just fine.

The next two hours (yes, TWO HOURS) are a bit of a blur, especially since I couldn't see what they were doing. All I could see was this dentist with funny goggles on looking over me - so I decided to close my eyes and try to sleep.

As I was dozing - I heard that familiar buzz, yes, you know it too - the drill! The poor Doc wasted several $'s worth of bits, I know he broke at least two. One got stuck down in the tooth!!! The nurse asked if he could get it, and he said "I don't know." So I am left thinking I'll walk around the rest of my days with a drill bit in my mouth.

Then, as he's digging for his drill bit, she exclaims "the gas is almost gone - I've got to get another bottle!" I was thinking, "YES, FORGET THE BITS, MORE GAS PLEASE, MORE GAS. I DON'T WANT TO FEEL WHAT'S COMING!!!" Of course I can only think this, because there's no way to talk. (Sidebar: I used to have a dentist that liked to have conversations with his patients while working on them, a huge annoyance because you can't effectively answer questions while your getting a filling.)

So the Doc loses drill bits, I'm thinking I'll offer him my Bosch drill with some 1/4" heavy duty metal bits, and perhaps they won't break again!

I hear him taking measurements of the length of nerves and depth of canals. Then I hear him talking about their removal - and then he said, "let's irrigate." Now, I'm a west Texas boy where irrigating* means watering the cotton fields. (*In that post on Stremmed Out, you'll see the type of irrigation systems I'm talking about.)

So, my canals got irrigated. They should be well watered, and hopefully now in good shape. Then, after he finished that - they started mixing up the amalgam (sp?) and glopped that on my teeth. They're waiting to do some other work before they put the crowns on.

When I get finished, I'll resemble the Panama Canal, with a nice bridge with a bunch of "kingly crowns put on."

So he wrapped up - and asked me to stand up. Last time, I was on the gas about 30 minutes - no big deal. This time, 2 hours. So, when I stood up, I took a bow. Not intentionally, you see the Doc should've taken the bow, he did the work!

I had to wait a few before I could drive home as I was a bit woozy. But thankfully I've had no pain, and just a bit of sensitivity yesterday. Today, it's all good.

For those who wrote or called wanting a blog post - I am so sorry you worried - but you know, I just didn't feel like it. I felt good, just not like blogging. And so I know you anxiously awaited the arrival of a H.C.A. post, but you'll just have to G.O.I. Perhaps some of you will remember what GOI means? Leave me a response if you do!

More dental fun occurs next Thursday at 10:00 AM. Fun, fun! I can't hardly wait.

Monday, June 25, 2007

CAYLUB IS HOME!!!!!!!!

Friends, all:

Caylub was released from the hospital this morning and made the three hour drive home very well. Dad said he slept most of the drive, and is now playing a video game. He's still a bit groggy, and of course sore, but overall he is doing amazingly well.

We're not exactly sure the schedule of his full recovery, such as how long it will take his skull to heal, and also the work to reduce the visibility of the scars, but hopefully by the time he starts back to school everything will be all set for him.

Above all, we're grateful he is alive and suffered no brain damage. Our hearts are full of love and appreciation to our precious Lord.

For those who have prayed, please return a word of thanks to our Father for His grace upon Caylub. We know God is the "the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort," and to Him all praise belongs.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Update on Caylub

This morning, Caylub was moved out of ICU and placed in a regular room at Cook Hospital. They are still watching for swelling, but all indications show that he is going to be fine, and they expect a full recovery.

Less concerning, yet relieving all the same, the doctors said that the scars and all will be completely taken care of by plastic surgery soon. They're very confident that he'll bear very few marks from the accident.

I am extremely amazed at the progress of, and the abilities of the medical field in our day. Above this, I am thankful to our Father who has blessed us with these blessings, and how His hand intervenes at times when the doctors come to the end of their abilities.

Great praise to our God!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Not-So-Welcome Guest

The little guy pictured below, or the little gal, is awfully cute, seemingly cuddly and very small. Thus far this furry critter hasn't caused too much damage to our garden; however, he does like green bean blooms that are near the bottom of the plant. Thankfully he's too small to reach the blooms on top!

We're trying to wait until he's mature, just like with squash or green beans, and then we'll decide if he's a pet, or if he's supper! Just kidding. He's causing so little harm, and so much amusement that we'll plan to keep him.