Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Open Letter to Pastors

Looking back I was a horrible church “member”. I held my previous pastors to a crazy lofty standard that is now embarrassing. I was such a Pharisee! I’m convinced that had I been alive when Jesus walked he wouldn’t have lived up to my standard either. I would have yelled from the crowd, “crucify him” without a hint of a second thought. And maybe even worse, I imposed my set of self-determined standards on their families as well.

It wasn’t until I was called to the ministry and started talking to people like my cousin who has his own church, friends whose families are in the ministry and finally experiencing it for myself that I realized what a high toll we and our families must pay. I say “must pay” because what we endure is exactly the treatment Jesus promised to the apostles as he attempted to prepare them prior to his leaving (John 15:18-25). Make no mistake my brothers and sisters, we will pay an earthly price each time we answer God’s call.

The majority of people will never know or care to know about our middle of the night phone calls, bombardment of opinionated emails and texts, impromptu counseling sessions, and the suggestion boxes that our spouses have become.

They will never know the people we cry for in the privacy of our bedrooms.

They will never know that we are not just on call Sundays, but we somehow became always on call.

They will never know the pressure we put on ourselves when we ponder the possible repercussions of the advice we give to many who see us as the last resort.

Brothers and sisters, we are in an elite group and by elite I don’t mean well-to-do, but rather a selected minority. We were called by God for this specific work!

God has not chosen us to be just a specialist in our areas of administration, missions, youth, kids, worship or whatever it is in your given church structure. No, he chose us to be pastors.

He has chosen us to make decision that impact the spiritual welfare of those who call our local church home and often those we reach to outside our doors.

He has chosen us to bear burdens for those that no one else will.

He has chosen us to make unpopular choices because sometimes it’s what’s best for the church body.

He has chosen us to change the perception of the word “Christian” in a country where the word is becoming less and less popular because of the people who have been hurt by those claiming to be one.

He has chosen us to breathe life into those who are just here to mark the Sunday attendance box and on the same day to those who are wondering if they are even worthy of life.

He has chosen us to lead people to be the light of the world when they are being told there is no light in this world.

He has chosen us because He sees something deep within each of us!

He has chosen us because He believes we can accomplish His mission with Him and through Him!

He has chosen us to be pastors!!

1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG) But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

Brothers and sisters I appreciate the sacrifice each and every one of you and your families make! And, "do not grow weary of doing good.”

Monday, October 8, 2012

Things I heard last week!

Thought this would be fun for a lighthearted change of pace!

So do you think kids will get a better education if they show up for school?
     -National news interview question to a public educator

The Boy Scout Law is to do a good turn daily.
     -Troop 13 Boy Scouts meeting

Sports Radio Personality: How fast do you think he is?
Sport Writer: I don’t know. Really fast?
Radio Personality: Yep, that’s what I think too…REALLY FAST.
     -Local sports talk radio

Deese is NO!
I – need – da - obruni! (which means white guy in Ghana)
     -Zoey’s words to Wyatt as he attempts to teach her how to play NBA Jams on the Wii

Life is not a snapshot, it’s a filmstrip.
     -Dave Ramsey in an interview speaking to our church

I'll be there for you
These five words I swear to you
When you breathe I want to be the air for you
I'll be there for you
I'd live and I'd die for you
Steal the sun from the sky for you
Words can't say what a love can do
I'll be there for you
     -Jon Bon Jovi

Sports Radio Personality: I think they should run more. How do they do that?
Sports Writer: Hand the ball off more than they pass.
     -Local sports talk radio

You have to know that when you accept God’s calling there WILL be struggles. Jesus spent a great deal of time explaining this to the apostles before he left. He didn’t go into specifics on what the severity would be. The severity of the trial will be different for all of us but the fact is THERE WILL BE TRIALS AND STRUGGLES when we are obedient to God! What we must examine in ourselves is are we willing to accept His calling knowing we’ll face opposition every time we are obedient?
     -Wise counsel

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Choose Freedom!

A post from the Ordinary Man vault that I like to bring out every year around this time.

Ask my beautiful wife and she will tell you where my favorite place is in the fall. It’s Ada!!

Every year, when student come back to college and dorm parking lots are full and I can no longer roll through the stop sign where they cross going to class for fear of making a hood ornament out of bewildered freshman, when I can hear the Friday night bands warming up for the home football games, when there’s just enough nip in the morning air that I have to wear a jacket knowing I'll have to shed it by noon because only in Oklahoma can you scrape frost in the mornings and be in a royal blue mesh half shirt by noon, it excites me! I love Ada in the fall!

I've had a connection here since college. It’s where I graduated college, made lifelong friends and really grew into adulthood; it’s where I became the Jim Kelly of ECU intramural flag football (1 semifinal appearance and 3 championship appearances and never brought home the title). I love Ada in the fall!

It was here in the fall at college where I met this awesome girl I NEVER EVER thought I had a chance with. I remember the first day I saw her at the Pesagi Dorm lounge in an ECU Pom jacket and jeans faded down the back. NEVER WOULD I HAVE A CHANCE WITH THAT GIRL! Turns out she married me! That blows my mind every day!!

My favorite place to be in the fall is Ada!

And this morning as I pulled out of my drive at home I was reminded of this and so much more. You see where we live now, I believe, has one of the best views in Ada and in the fall the sun is at just right angle and I get this view every morning on my way to work (if I don’t oversleep).
This beautiful view reminded me that at this time two years ago (now 5 years) we had just moved into this house and I was struggling with overcoming some feelings of guilt in my life when one of my closest and dearest friend gave one of the greatest pieces of advise on this subject I’ve ever read. I think as Christ followers we all need to hear these words from time to time. Below is a summary of his email to me. Enjoy.

Recently, God gave me some insight on this issue. A few weeks ago, he impressed upon my heart to read through the Bible. Well, when I got to Exodus God really opened my eyes to how the Israelites were like me (and the rest of us). Here was a group of people who had just witnessed first hand incredible miracles (the plagues, the Red Sea parting, manna/quail, the cloud and the fire) yet they still grumbled and at one point after all they had observed they told Moses they wanted to go back to captivity and live again as slaves. Can you even imagine?!?

Although that seems crazy to us, we do the exact same thing ALL OF THE TIME! When we worry about things we don't have control over, when it seems impossible to break free from habitual sin, when we doubt God's love for us, when we feel overcome with guilt, etc., etc. we are CHOOSING captivity over freedom. My theme for the last few weeks has been: I'm not going back to captivity; I'm going to choose freedom.

Does God use feelings of guilt to convict us and expose sin? Absolutely.

But he also wants the best for us and he wants to bless us so that we can praise him and thank him and so our lives can be a testament to his goodness and grace.

I think what we have to settle in our own mind is whether our guilt is from our flesh, that part of our flesh feels naturally drawn back to captivity


whether our guilt may be the Holy Spirit convicting us over something in our life that needs to change.

If it's your flesh, get over it and choose freedom.

If it's conviction guilt, then make the changes God wants you to make, forgive yourself, and then move on.

This is something we have to get over if we are living in Christ. This is something the church has to STOP using as a submission tool!

"Why" you ask? Because a friend of ours named Jesus died for us and when he did, guilt died at the foot of the cross as well!! We are forgiven! I CHOOSE FREEDOM!!

Thank M! Don’t know what I would do without you brother!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Boots and Bottle Caps.

This advertisement has followed me around and has been up on the “board of fame” in my office for about 10 or 12 years. My original intent was always with the next raise, promotion or when I had finally “arrived” I was going to buy these boots. The advertisement served as a sense of inspiration I guess. But with each raise or promotion life happened – a new baby, a house, bigger car, etc., and the boots never came down from the board.

Then this year shortly after coming home, having spent three straight weeks in Ghana with my adopted 5 year old daughter Akosua "Zoey", I took it down. Those weeks gave me a better perspective, so I thought, of this quote from C.S. Lewis which also resides on the “board of fame."

“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

I can’t tell you the exact thought that was going through my mind when I took my “boots” down. If you’ve ever spent any time in a third world country you know there is an overabundance of events and images to mentally process. But the reality of being far too easily pleased kept punching me in the gut like the school yard bully you regrettably pegged in the face during a round of 4th hour P.E. kickball.

The vivid images of the time spent in my daughter’s village, where she still resides, and the bottle caps she uses as toys just kept spinning in my head. And believe me, there’s a lot of room up there to rattle around!
These boots and bottle caps have consumed my thoughts since my arrival home. Recently, I thought I had come to this conclusion, “Zoey and I both are too easily pleased!” Yes, both of us. That’s it!

The difference is, I’m easily pleased by my worldly minded selfishness and she’s easily pleased by her innocence.

In my selfishness I am the half-hearted creature(s), fooling about and she in her innocence wants to be a part of my world. So here we are both making mud pies in a slum together. I say this because during our stay together she uttered these words in her native Twi, “…I am ready to go, there is nothing for me here.” And as I ponder those words I desperately would like her to understand, “Baby don't be so easily pleased, there is nothing for you here either, but there is a holiday by the sea waiting for us.” As her father I’m already struggling with a way to convey that thought.

Now, here is the part of this post where after you’ve read my previous statement you will either be or are really confused, convicted or upset. Or I’ve already lost you but you’re hanging in here so you can get a firm count on my grammatical errors. Which I’m positive are in the double digits by now! I like myself a good run on sentence you can’t read in one breath now and again.

Nonetheless, I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again. America cannot, does not and will not fix her! Don’t fool yourself into believing this or think that we believe this. If you do, then honestly you don’t get international adoption. No problem, I didn’t either till God called me to it. It is true that God, by His will, has chosen us to be born and live in this great country. America has given us opportunities and has provided us a means to be a loving forever family to a fatherless child half a world away. But America does not fix her! For one thing she does not need fixed!! She is not broken!! She is perfect! What’s broken is what she’s been left in and that’s a life without a mother and father!! That can be fixed!

But herein also lies the flaw in my previous conclusion.

I actually thought when she cries out, “there’s nothing for me here” that she desires to upgrade from Ghanaian bottle caps to American boots! And I honestly worry over how to protect her from this!

Then as he has done so many times, God humbles me through a child when He whispers to me,

“Wake up Tyson.

You make proclamations you don’t even understand yourself!

But she gets it.

Arrogant boy, her cry is not for the world you live in. She knows all about the holiday by the sea because I have clothed her in innocence and it protects her from your simple minded selfishness.

Son listen when I say, her cry is a yearning to share this journey to the sea with you, her father.

Now, wake up!”

And once humbled, I do finally wake up. Now I see she and I aren’t making mud pies in the slum together. Nope, it’s just me, with a mud pie in one hand and the picture of my boots in the other. She’s already turned in her bottle caps while I stand here still far too easily pleased.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The grand slam that wasn't!

I commented in warm-ups to our boy’s little league coach and my friend M.W. that I was a little nervous for this game. His reply, “Ah, we have a whole year before we should get nervous,” referring to the fact that next year our boys would start kid pitch baseball. My nervousness though was for Wyatt, my 8 year old middle child and youngest son. I had an athletic career plagued with injuries at the worst times, “almosts” and coming close. I had felt the disappointment of being the one to make the bad pass that loses the big game and the pain of seeing a state championship slip away in the final 10 seconds. I don’t want my child to go through those disappointments though I know full well that it’s these times that will build character. Still, I’m his father wanting to protect his feelings and I was nervous.

So there we sat bottom of the 3rd , bases loaded, down 6 – 0 in the first game of the Oklahoma regional tournament for coach pitch baseball when Wyatt comes up to bat. My official capacity on this team is batboy, and the tallest and best in the entire league mind you, so being on the field I got to give him my standard last words of advice before he went to the plate. “Check your hands, check your feet, then give it a ride!”

And give it a ride he did into the deep right center gap all the way to the fence of this extraordinarily neatly manicured field. With tongue wagging he rumbled, tumbled and stumbled around the bases. I could see coach M.W. at 3rd base swinging his arm like a clock on crack, which is the universal baseball signal for, “nobody stop and you better get on your horse if you want a grand slam homerun my slow little friend!!” Down the third base line Wyatt came while I screamed who knows what as he crossed home plate! I was just thinking to myself, “No matter how bad you want to, it’s completely inappropriate to scoop him up and carry him into the dugout right now!!”

Then I hear, “Tag him! Tag him,” coming from the other team’s dugout. I froze and started to yell, but it was too late, before Wyatt could get back to touch home plate that he missed in all the excitement the catcher tagged him out.

And that’s when it happened. The son’s eyes met the fathers’. Up to this point in his very young athletic career Wyatt had never let the bad plays bother him. I had figured it was immaturity or lack of knowing the magnitude of his errors…after all he’s only 8. But this time in his eyes I could see he knew.

He knew he just had a grand slam that wasn’t and he knew they needed that extra run. It’s also in this same split second that I realized how I reacted to all this as a father may shape him for years to come. I could see he was looking me straight in the eyes wanting to know how he himself should react. I recognized in that instant where I stood, this was not a teaching moment. He knew what he did wrong; now he needed grace!

I grabbed him, hugged him, told him it was okay, congratulated him on the 3 runs he knocked in that did count and patted him all the way to his seat in the dugout! A father full grace and understanding is what he needed.

I know in life we adults have many a grand slam moment that turns out to be a disaster. Most of the time, it’s something we’ve messed up ourselves. Or maybe it’s our mess ups turn out to be of a grand slam magnitude effecting not just us but family and friends around us. In these moments we may or may not want to lock eyes with our Heavenly Father depending on how we see him.

Do you see Him as ready to smack you with guilt and punishment?

Or do you see Him as your loving father ready to pat you on the back freely pouring out grace and forgiveness?

Do you see Him as the father who hurts simply because you hurt?

The father who yearns to see you succeed yet forgets your failures with every prayer of forgiveness?

The father who invites you to sit on His lap and share your deepest hurts and regrets?

It took me about 30 years to see Him this way but once I did it literally changed me forever! I could not be more serious about a life changing event in my Christian walk than this one of how I see God.

Give it a try. A simple change of perspective in how God sees you and all your shortcomings will change your life forever. It did mine!

Micah 7:18-19 (Message)
Where is the god who can compare with you—
wiping the slate clean of guilt,
Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear,
to the past sins of your purged and precious people?
You don't nurse your anger and don't stay angry long,
for mercy is your specialty. That's what you love most.
And compassion is on its way to us.
You'll stamp out our wrongdoing.
You'll sink our sins
to the bottom of the ocean.

As a side note, the teaching opportunity came later.  I'm positive young Wyatt will NEVER EVER miss home plate again!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Greatest Hits Volume 3

This post from the archives comes as a salute to the now late Andy Griffith!  Greatest nongun carrying sheriff the world has ever known.  [Insert whistling theme music here.]

Crazy Street Preacher Guy! From October 26, 2009

I grew up in the small rural town of Maysville, OK - population about 1,000 all the time. Growing up there was great! My friends and I often referred to it as Mayberry and we still call it that do to this day. Much like Floyd’s Barber Shop in Mayberry, we had Dugan’s in Maysville. What was not similar is Mayberry’s Barney Fife was more like The Duke’s of Hazards Roscoe P. Coltrane in our town. Oh yeah! Just give em’ a reason to cuff ya' and stuff ya! I’m so getting pulled over the next time I go home.

Anyway…if you’ve ever heard that joke about living in a small town that when you cuss while out with your buddies your mom knows before you get home and is waiting on you with a bar of soap, is not too far off.

The other thing about living in a small town is you know who the “crazies” were, ALL OF THEM, and you weren’t even to go near them or within a city block of where they lived.

One of our local crazies was this older guy who often preached from the street corner at the highway intersection in town. I don’t remember him being on the “STAY AWAY” list but he was noted as a local crazy and most stayed away simply because he was an annoyance…I mean the guy was going off about God, beating his Bible for a congregation that passed through at 35 mph for goodness sakes…this qualified you as CRAZY!

Fast forward to today. Here I am acting on this call from God to minister and plant a church. Giving sermons about worshiping God anywhere anytime with unbridled devotion. Then what do you know but I’m driving down the road where we live in Ada, OK, a lot juices were flowing from a sermon I had been listening to earlier in the day, the right song came on KLOVE (Christian radio station) and the next thing I know I’m so overwhelmed by the love of God, his Holy Spirit and the fact that Jesus came here for me that I could have pulled over right then and there at the car wash and thrown down an impromptu Spirit filled sermon that Billy Graham would have thought twice about responding too…I was on fire!! At that very time I felt like preaching to a 35mph congregation.

HOLY COW I’ AM NOW OFFICIALLY CRAZY!! I’m turning myself in. Tell my family I love them and what day visitation is.

NO! I’m not crazy I just needed an outlet.

Looking back at the crazy street preacher guy where I grew up. He had a calling. He was overwhelmed by the facts that Jesus is the only one that can make us right with God,

He’s the only one that cares for us day in and day out regardless of our faults,

He’s the only one who died so we wouldn’t have to and that feat defeated the devil for us, and


Crazy street preacher guy was so overwhelmed that he needed an outlet and he chose what he felt was right and that was to preach at the cars passing through his town.

Do I think it’s the best approach at reaching people? Not really. But that was his calling not mine.

I’d would much rather answer to God someday for responding and it not being the most effective approach than I would answer this question, “Why didn’t you do anything?” “You didn’t even try to tell people about me.”

God hasn’t called me to preach from the street corner…thank you Jesus. But He has called me to plant a church in a town known for a church on every corner and reach out to those who desire and love Jesus with all their heart but aren’t sure how anymore because they’ve been hit by a Mack truck called religion. God has called me, that through the messages He lays on me, to create servant minded Christ followers who overflow with the same love Jesus had to the point it overflows and breaks them. And then they can truly see the injustice around and can’t help but love and aid those in need!! That’s my calling.

Do the facts that Jesus is our healer between us and God, He cares, He died and He’s coming back move you? Does it make you want to take a step closer to your calling? Does it make you want to devote to Him? Does it make you want to answer that tug at your heart called Jesus and say I’m going to change "blank" today or I’m going to do "blank" for Him today? If it does, YOU’RE NOT CRAZY…well you are…crazy for Him and that’s AWESOME! Especially when the world talks about what they see you doing for Him.

Do I think some see me in the same light as I saw “street corner preacher” for so many years? Absolutely, because human nature is to mock what we don’t understand! And to that I say, “Thank you Lord I must be doing something right!”

Luke 6:22-23 (The Message)

"Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don't like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this...”

To close this post I have written a formal apology to crazy street preacher guy.

“Sir, I apologize that I wasn’t mature enough in my faith to understand that you were only answering your calling. I admire you for standing up in the face of mockery day in and day out. I will see you in heaven someday brother. We’ll sit down over a cup of coffee and you can preach to me every sermon God ever laid on your heart…don’t worry if there’s 1,000 sermons I’ve got an eternity to listen and the coffee will never get cold in heaven.”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Greatest Hits Volume 2

I'm gonna get you sucka! From October 15, 2010

Disclaimer: I was raised in the country. My heart and my roots still go back to my country upbringing. If you are with PETA or any other animal rights group; if you refer to hunters as “Bambi Killers” or you just don’t think hunting is “right” then you need not read any further because you will most likely be disgusted, appalled and possibly insulted.

When my cousin Jarrod and I were young we had this thing against possums, not opossums - they only have those up north, I'm talking about possums. For the most part they were pesky! They really weren’t bad but they really weren’t good either – they were just always in the way when we were trapping raccoons (coons).

Okay let’s get this out of the way. Yes, we trapped coons! Possibly the highlight of our year as kids I’d say this year event ranked up there with Christmas. It was fun then and I would still think it would be fun today if Grandpa wanted to give it another go! This could easily evolve into a whole series of posts so I’m going to attempt to keep is short.

Every summer when it was about time to pick our Grandpa’s sweet corn (and I’m not about a couple rows, I’m talking a couple acres) we’d trap coons.

Why would we trap those cutesy cuddly wuddly little raccoons you ask? Because if left unsupervised coons will DESTROY, no other word for it, a patch of sweet corn. And something we learned very early was if there was ever an animal I believe to be schizophrenic it’s a coon! Oh yah, they look all innocent and adorable on Marty Stopher’s Wild America, BUT I’m here to tell you that pound for pound they are the meanest animal on the face of the earth bar none!

Again, Jarrod and I have stories; OH do we have stories, but this is blog and not a book. If you throw a biscuit in a room with a three day starved coon and a pit bull my money is on that coon coming away with that biscuit EVERY STINKING TIME! Sorry had to get that last shot in; I think you get the point.

So, in the course of coon trapping the odds were much greater that we would trap a possum rather than a coon. I don’t know why, maybe they got an earlier start, maybe they were dumber, maybe they were smarter, maybe we didn't know what the heck we were doing (double that) but inevitably we would catch about ten possums to every one coon. And it would just tick us off, but possums had to be “taken care of” as well because they could damage the crop too, though not as bad, and if we let them go they would just keep getting back in our traps over and over and over so…it was “dirt nap” for them really without a second thought.

Fast forward to this week…

We come rolling into our driveway here in Ada and look up to see, YES, a possum eating our cat’s food. Something else I never understood about possums is they are never in a real hurry to get away if they even try at all. They just waddle around, act real mean, hiss a lot and look really ugly.

I throw the car in park and instantly, I had flashbacks to being a kid again, listening to Jerry Clower records, Uncle Buddy telling some outlandish story about hook men and hungry panthers to keep us scared all night and checking coon traps!

I’m thinking…

“Dude (possum) you’re toast!”

“I’ve hated your kind since I was a kid.”

“I hate you to this day.”

“You picked the wrong bowl of cat food today bro!”

So I jumped out of the car, which my beautiful wife quickly locked me out of by the way, I walked straight up to the possum; looked him in his hideous face; looked at the shovel that was propped up against the wall AND I………scooped him up and harmlessly pitched him over the fence.

I got back in the car and Christy knowing me better than anyone said, “I figured you were going to smack him in the head with that shovel. Why did you just throw him over the fence?”

Somewhat confused myself, my only reply was, “Well…I don’t know?? I’ve guess I’ve become more merciful in my old age.”

What I really meant to say was, “I’ve grown more merciful and forgiving the closer I have grown to the One who forgives me.”

Did the nasty love child of a raccoon and skunk deserve to die? Heck yah!

Was the filthy retch doing me dirty? Heck yah!

Everything about me would normally say, “smack that sucka’ in the head, the arrogant fool is eating my food right out in front of me no less, HE DESERVES IT!!”

But the more I go through life and realize how jacked up I am and how I mess up every single day and how He still forgives me even when I don’t deserve it – the more I feel compelled to hand out mercy and forgiveness…sometimes even to my old nemeses, the possum.

I am overwhelming with gratitude for Romans 5:8 (NLT) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

It did not say, God sent his son to die for us because we deserved it.

It did not say, God sent his son to die to show the greatest act of forgiveness and mercy the world has ever seen because we were good people.

It says, God sent his son to die WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS!

I used to be the world’s worst at holding grudges. If Guinness had a world record for it I’m positive I would have been in the book with a picture of me and my Beaver Cleaver plastered comb over hairdo holding a list as long as my arm. When I met my wife about 14 or 15 years ago I seriously had a “list” of those who I was not only not going to forgive but I was actually going to get even with sometime before I died. This is no lie!

But the more God and I have walked together the more he helped me realize, “Man, I am still a sinner! I use and abuse God every day and every day he forgives still forgives me! That's the best deal going! Not only forgives me but throws my mess ups in the Sea of Forgetfulness. So who am I to decide who gets forgiven in my life?”

I read this one time and the topic of forgiveness became more real for me than it ever has, “When we refuse to forgive, what we are saying is; God, I don’t trust you to do your job and I can it better.” If you could use OUCH and WOW in the same sentence I did!

I finally trashed my list and oh what a relief! Like an Alka-Seltzer after a good bowl of crawfish étouffée. Like a weight removed from around my neck. It’s liberating!!

Then I started to feel the gratitude the Psalmist felt in Psalms 130:3-5 (The Msg) when he said…

If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,
who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
and that's why you're worshiped.

Who do you need to scoop up with the shovel and pitch over the Fence of Forgetfulness? Who’s the possum in your life? They have a name. It’s time to tear up the list

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Greatest Hits 1

Okay, since we've drawn closer to the end of our adoption my blogging here on Ordinary Man has dwindled and dwindled. I've been asked multiple times recently when I'm going to start again. I apologize to those who have been loyal readers. To be perfectly honest the adoption process has sapped a lot of my mental and creative energy, BUT I thought I would start back by republishing a few of my fan favorites from the archives to get things flowing again. I hope you enjoy and I've got some new stuff on its way soon!

Stop that van! April, 5 2010

Air police, city police, county police, highway police, store police, fashion police…where will it end? I guess after this one…pray police. Last night I became the pray police.

I was in the backyard spraying weeds and the boys were on the trampoline asking a thousand questions about, what I was spraying , why they couldn’t just walk through the grass if they had their socks on, and Wyatt wanted to know the difference between poison and poison ivy. (Wow that’s a long sentence and I’m sure grammatically incorrect)

Then off in the distance they hear the echoing through the hills of Ada...the ice cream truck! “Dad can we have a dollar, hurry?!” Now if you know me those two words don’t go together in a sentence, as in, “dollar” and “hurry”.

So I thought about it for a second and decided okay here’s four dollars. And left them with a token parental, “…and don’t let your little brother run into the street” as they whizzed through the back gate.

But they weren’t fast enough. The multicolored polka dotted 1982 Chevy EconoVan cruised right by and down hill just seconds before they could get there. And by the way is the 1982 Chevy EconoVan standard issue in the mobile neighborhood ice-cream industry or just the preferred vehicle? That’s another post for another day.

The boys were gone for a little while so as I went to check on them. There I found Winston, disappointed, but patiently waiting at the curb leaning up against the trash cans I hadn’t brought back to the house since the morning trash pickup. I asked what he was doing and he said he was waiting for the ice cream truck to come back up the hill. I stood there with him a minute and couldn’t hear the music, which normally can be heard from 6 city blocks away. I finally said, “Buddy, I don’t think he’s coming back tonight.” Winston looked up at me and said, “But Daddy I prayed to God for him to come back and everything.”

Now being the expert on prayer, raised in a Christian home, and having a Batphone connection with God, and a pastor which has to put me on a much higher level, living in the Bible belt, and because I read my Bible daily I BECAME THE PRAYER POLICE and at that moment instantly my first thought was, “Well son that’s probably not something we should pray for.” Even half the thought transformed into words and came out of my mouth before I caught myself in all my arrogance.

You know, the “right” things we pray for are world peace, the end of hunger, a cure for cancer, “all those who can’t be with us today bring them back at the next appointed time”…NOT for the ice cream truck to come back. I AM THE PRAY POLICE AND I FIND 8 YEAR OLD WINSTON BROWN IN VIOLATION OF A LEGITIMATE PRAYER!

What does this kid know? I mean are you going to tell me he was truly listening to his parents when they said you can ask God for ANYTHING?

Come on!

Can you convince me he really believes Matthew 21:22 (TNIV) “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Or 1 John 5:14-20 (The Message) “And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he's listening…”

Huh! Who believes that? At the Pray Police Academy they teach us that those are just memory verses and somewhere in those verses there must be an exclusion for ice cream trucks and 8 year olds who don’t know any better.

Really?? Who is an expert prayer? A pastor? A parent? Someone who has enough wind to go on for 5 plus minutes? A perfect attendance church goer?

A prayer is not something to be memorized or contain phrases that become so routine they lose their meaning. It’s not something for show. No, prayer is our direct line to God. Prayer is our chance to sit on His lap like a child and tell him our thoughts, praises, feeling, hurts, joys, and fears. Phillip Yancy in his book “Prayer” says “When it comes to prayer we are all beginner.”

The literal true beginners, as in kids being beginners in this world, get it so much better than us “mature adult Christians”. In fact, they hear messages and hear scripture and they believe it! Actually, they go beyond that and here’s what separates them from us…they don’t just believe it…THEY LIVE IT! They pray for ice cream trucks, they pray for dead cats, they pray for the Crocodile Hunter, they pray for whatever they can’t handle but know God can. WOW! And that’s just the out-of-control stuff. Don’t get them get started on what they are thankful for! Candy, dogs and cats that haven’t died, candy, swings, trampolines…

As for the ice cream truck prayer in question, well, after careful review we traced the source of the prayer to Winston Brown’s heart. With that being the case we have no choice but to drop all charges! If God is listening and has time for an ice cream truck prayer then the Prayer Police don’t have a problem with it either.

And, effective immediately I’ll be stepping down from my post as the Prayer Police. I’m finding out that though I’m color blind and my wife dresses me in the mornings I’d have a better shot at Fashion Police. “Hey you! Yeah you! Are those socks you have on navy or black…”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meeting in the making!

In less than 24 hours we will be boarding a plane to Ghana, Africa to meet our daughter!

The day has finally come!

I can’t tell you what kind of emotional messes Christy and I have been since we got the call a couple weeks ago. Even if it were possible, there are not enough bottles in the world to contain the anxiety, joy, fear and excitement emotions we are experiencing.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this morning as I was gathering up all the items I normally put in my pockets, that I noticed a piece of paper in my “stuff” basket. I don’t know why I picked up, but I did. It contained the words of a friend of mine I wrote down about a year ago. Scott Coleman, adoptive father of 3 beautiful children from Uganda said, “We are all part of this big equation. On one end there are kids needing fathers. And on the other end is us. The question is what are we going to do about it?”

Tomorrow is that day for us!

Please continue to pray for us on this journey! This is something that we literally could not
have done without the support of a countless number of people.

And we literally could not do this without the divine intervention of God. We are so far out on the limb right now we could not possibly complete this journey unless God steps in. Our only other choice is to fall. And you know what? Way out there on the limb is exactly where He wants us!! This position ensure complete dependence.

A.W. Tozer - "God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible- what a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves."