Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SORE LOSERS

Well, I am very confident that I didn't break any bones in the basketball challenge Sunday evening between my 27 year old youth pastor and me whose age is none of your stinking business. My feelings got hurt worse than my muscles, but that's life.

Sore losers lose twice and more so I congratulate the little guy and commend him. It was a fun game most of all for a good cause though I will admit I would like to have beat him like a drum.

Life has many moments when we don't get what we desire. It happens every day and many times a day in family, neighbor, business, and all kinds of relationships. First place isn't reserved for all of us all the time. Someone has to come in second in all of life's give and take moments.

Just a brief questions for today. Can you compromise and give in without pouting or being a sore loser? Do you puff up like a toad when you can't have life as you desire it to be?

I don't mean to preach. I just wonder.....

Monday, March 30, 2009

ANYONE NEED A YOUTH PASTOR?

Let me give you the good news first about the Basketball Challenge game we played Sunday evening between my youth pastor and me. We raised lots of money for missions and the youth programs, and I didn't break anything that I am aware of at this point. I will double check bones, sore muscles, and 
limbs later on Monday to make sure everything is OK.

The bad news is that I am not longer the champion over all of our youth pastors. Eric beat me.

The score?

69 to 64 

Now, does anyone know where I can find a smarter youth pastor who isn't so good at basketball? 
This guy is from Kentucky where baby boys are born with a basketball in each hand. They can dunk by the age of 6, and have won several championship before they get through high school.

I didn't stand a chance. 

Well, the truth is I just didn't want to break the spirit of the young guy and hurt his ego. I am over twice his age and it would be really humiliating for a boy from Kentucky to lose to an old guy from Alabama. Alabama has never won a National Championship in basketball. We don't even have but three basketballs in all of the state. How could I let this young man lose. His whole life is before him. It would have destroyed him. 



Next year isn't so far away. I get another chance and will be in better shape by then to teach the little guy a lesson. He better practice more. I only lost by five points. He had been ahead by almost fifteen and I got within two points until he sunk his last three pointer. 

In fact if I had stole the ball from Him on that last play, and if I had hit a three pointer then the score would be 65 to 64 in my favor.

But if, if's and but's were candy and nuts, then we would all have a Merry Christmas.

Ouch, oh my aching back, and sore calve muscles, and......

Good job, Eric. You're a really great youth pastor. Keep up the good work.

video

Friday, March 27, 2009

THREE CHEERS FOR GIDEONS

Thursday night I went to a Gideon Banquet to support their great and needed efforts to distribute God's Word around the world. God's Word is alive and powerful and reaches deep into the hearts and souls of man. His Word speaks His perfect plan and will to faithfully share His love and desire that none should perish.

Too often we take His Word for granted, and we fail to realize the powerful force it can be in broken and needy lives. Gideons place Bible in schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and doctors offices, jails and prisons, military services, and many others places where The Light needs to shine.

I enjoyed the delicious meal last night, the wonderful testimonies, and the insightful updates concerning Gideon ministries. 

The only thing that I didn't like is that they kept referring to pastors and their wives. I sat alone remembering when Kristy had attended such passed gatherings right there in that same country club where we were dining, but also in great anticipation of Wanda joining me for future events. 

I won't be alone for long. God is faithful, and He knows just what I need.

***

Monday, I will update the results of the great Basketball Challenge between my youth pastor and me to raise money for missions. May the best man win. Most of all, may we raise lots of money to soothe my aching muscles. HA!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

YOUTH PASTOR RESPONDS

The trash talk for the upcoming challenge with the youth pastor is getting more intense by the day. Watch his response to my video from yesterday below. Sunday will be the showdown and we'll see who has game--the old guy or the young gun?

The challenge game is this Sunday evening and Elvis and Johnny Cash are providing the half-time. It should be quite a show.

I have been practicing some and getting my "game" together. If my outside shot is on, then the young gun is in a heap of trouble. It is all for missions and equipment needs of the youth. 

May the best man win.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AMAZING SHOTS

Here is a video that was done to promote the upcoming Basketball Challenge between my youth pastor and me to raise money for missions and improvements in the youth department equipment. I have beat all of my previous youth pastors in basketball here at Southside so the challenge is to beat the new guy on the block. 

It is a fun event, but I feel I have the upper edge as I have a really good repertoire of shots. Watch the video below and you'll see how hot I can be on the court. HA!


watch.jpg

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

HAVING FUN WITH BASKETBALL

One of my few regrets when I attended high school many years ago at Walter Wellborn High in Anniston, Alabama, was not playing organized sports. I was a small, underweight guy, and we had moved a couple of times which kept me from being involved in summer training programs. I liked band and played the trumpet in the marching band as well as the orchestra. I wasn't that good, but enjoyed playing along and got into the football games free.

I loved football, basketball, tennis, and softball. I would play every chance I had and really wished I had played football and basketball. In college, I played intramural sports as we had some really rough tag football games in the afternoons after classes. I didn't make it on the basketball team though I played a lot of pick-up games in the afternoons too.

Now, pushing 60 I get a kick out of trying to compete with the young guns. Amazingly, last week as I practiced I beat a few of the guys in pick-up games at a local park near my house. I will be practicing there some this week as I step up my game to play my youth pastor this Sunday evening for a fun fund raiser for the youth. 

Eric, my youth pastor, and I have had some fun putting together some promo videos for church to drum up some buzz for the event. I will see about putting one of them up in a day or so. They are a hoot.

When you're young at heart, life is brighter and seems more enjoyable. I am having fun with BBall and look forward to beating Eric this Sunday evening. You might put one of us on your prayer list this week. HA! Maybe you need to put the old guy on your prayer list.

Monday, March 23, 2009

SUNDAY, A DAY OF HONOR

Sunday I visited Bartow First Assembly where I formerly pastored in the 80's. I was present as the church honored Wanda for 27 years of faithful service as church secretary and in recent years as church administrator. 

It was a great day to see the church celebrate and bless my new love. She deserved everything they did and more. They all love her and it makes me realize how blessed I will be to have her as my wife.

Bartow has so many wonderful memories for me with my girls growing up there. It is truly a model for small town America and a great place for the girls to grow up as children. I can visualize riding the streets of that town on bikes with our family. It was a special time.

Now my mind is turning to the new, the good, and dreams ahead. The deep pain in my heart is healing, though the hurt and loss probably will never totally leave. Yet, I know God has good plans ahead. He has everything under control. He is Lord.

It was interesting that the same day Wanda was honored that the article I had written about Kristy's story of how she went to heaven was published and distributed across America and around the world in Today's Pentecostal Evangel . (Double Click on Today's Pentecostal Evangel to read the article.)  Obviously it wasn't planned, but it just happened. 

Wanda even mentioned Kristy's article in her remarks Sunday as she received her honor for service. I was amazed at Wanda's grace and thoughtfulness to respect and honor another even on her special day. This is one reason I love her.

This is an amazing story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

MORE EMOTIONS SHOW UP

Jennifer and Julie are two incredible young ladies who have stood by me these last months. They have been here for years, of course, but they have grown into wonderful, faithful supports to me.

As I have talked with them through the journey of loosing Kristy and now my new love coming into my life, I have been amazed at how strong and wise these little girls have become. My little girls are now beautiful young ladies. I have tried to be there for them and be their strong daddy to help them through tough times, but now it seems in some ways they are really the insightful ones.

Last week, as I mentioned in yesterday's blog, I had some really blue moments. Likewise, Wanda, in boxing up and packing her 31 years of living in her home preparing to marry me and establish our new home has had some tough moments too. We have both wiped tears, but knowing that we are headed in the right direction. 

Jennifer said something to me Monday when more emotions showed up in me. She said, "Dad, Mom is doing great in heaven. She is having a ball and is happier than she has ever been. You need to be happy too."

Those words sunk in to my spirit deeper. I knew them, but I think I really heard them when Jennifer said them Monday.

Kristy is happy and doing well. I know she wanted me to be happy and go forward and do well. She isn't hurting and suffering anymore, and she didn't want me to hurt and suffer. 

More healing came into my spirit. I felt healing and cleansing, and wellness came into my spirit. 

I will go forward and be happy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

PRAY FOR RAY

I have been practicing more this week for the upcoming challenge basketball game between my your pastor and me. It is a week and a half away but I am getting back into "game" shape. That is not easy for a 59 1/2 year old man to do.

I returned to the bball court to practice on Tuesday afternoon. After a half hour of shooting by myself, one of the guys I played on Monday showed up to play. He is less than half my age so I didn't expect to compete very good, but I did beat him the day before against several guys playing 21.

Amazingly, I won again. He was surprised that this old guy could keep up with the young bucks. Not all preachers are sissies. Ha! Now, that comes from a preacher.

I haven't witnessed to him yet, but I plan on sharing Christ with him. I can tell he isn't a christian. He seemed drawn to me and wanted to play again. We will probably play again next week as I am tied up for a few days. This is a time I can be salt and light. I bet he will be surprised when he finds out that I am a preacher. I haven't hidden my light. He can tell I am different already by how I conduct myself, but the light is about to shine even brighter on Ray. 

Pray for Ray that God's light will shine into his heart. There is a world that needs Jesus. We must share the light.

I will.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

Wanda and I watched a movie this past Saturday that was a little surreal for both of us. The movie was "Message in a Bottle." I selected it out of a stack of her old movies not knowing the plot. We both wound up in tears at the end.

The movie is about a man whose wife had passed away and how he wrote her a message that he put into a bottle and through it into the ocean. Some time later a woman found it on a beach and read the note and through her job at a newspaper investigated until she found the author. They fell in love but he drowned before they could marry.

Not knowing what was in the movie and then watching it together with both of our pasts brought back lots of pain. Yet, in a very real way it seemed providential for us to watch that movie and deal with hurts and grief.

Wanda said it was the first time both of us had emotional release with tears together. We are planning our lives and future but there are many things we both are dealing with that don't have easy answers.

Somehow the pain of that movie helped us to move ahead. It was a cathartic moment that helped flush out deep wounds and pain. God has been so good to guide, heal, help, and restore. He has been faithful to us even in using a secular movie with similar circumstances. 

I feel my future is before me and that there is a life ahead filled with His blessings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

THIS PREACHER AIN'T OLD, YET.....

Older men can play basketball, if they are careful. I am practicing some for a challenge basketball game with our new youth pastor to raise money for missions and some needed items for our youth hall. This will be a one-on-one game with sponsors donating money for the fund raiser. We are selling sky boxes for $300 and have sold two thus far. There will be door prizes and lots of humor.

We will have a great pre-game show and the half-time show is a winner. Elvis is doing the half-time show and Johnny Cash is also going to make an appearance. 

Monday afternoon I went to the park near my house for a little workout and some local guys wanted to play a game of 21. It was everyman for himself with the first guy to 21 winning. I started slow but came on strong and won. The young guys were stunned.

Here I am jumping over Michael Jordan's cousin, Mr. T. Notice my high jump shot. My girl friend saw this picture and said Mr. T wasn't jumping. I had emailed the pic to her. I said that you would have had to be there to see that I faked him out before he could jump. HA!

I beat the last youth pastor who had enough courage to play me. That surprised him too. White preachers can jump if they haven't eaten too much chicken and banana pudding.

The challenge game will be in a couple of weeks and will be fun and we'll raise some money to share the Gospel. I plan on beating the young guy like a drum. You might add him to your prayer list. That is a little joke, very little.


Monday, March 16, 2009

RECOVERING ON MONDAY

Monday's are recovery days for preachers. Some use it as a day off, but I never have liked to take Monday as my off day because there are always things to do. I prefer to use Monday as more of a slow recovery day getting needed things done and light planning for the remainder of the week.

Usually I am so up tight on Sunday evening that it is difficult to turn my brain off. I don't sleep well on Sunday nights. Either the Sunday services were so good that I am so excited and can't sleep, or things didn't go so well and I can't get it off my mind Sunday either. That makes for a rough Monday for me. I wonder how many other preachers suffer this malady.

Sunday was a good day and I felt that the Lord helped me to minister His Word and speak hope and faith into the hearts of those present. I pastor a wonderful congregation that I have always felt were so receptive to the preaching of God's Word. They are so responsive and open and love God's servant. I am blessed to pastor such a loving people.

So when should a preacher have a day off? I have found that Friday works best for me. I work in the office several days each week and use Wednesday as a day of study and prayer, though I study and pray every day. 

What did I preach this past Sunday? My topic was "Strength." I had felt impressed to use a often quoted verse found in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." There is strength enough through Christ to make it through every test. I have found this last year and a half that Christ walks with us and renews us everyday to make it. 

There is strength for you today. Open your heart to Him and let Him in. He gives strength to face all things in life.

Friday, March 13, 2009

INSTANT PRAYERS

I know God answers prayer. He has quickly answered many of mine.

Years ago when I pastored my first church we were in a building program and had some work that needed to be done fast. Before church one Sunday evening I was thinking about the need and felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to ask God for the money needed to complete this important phase. So I prayed and amazingly within literal minutes I had the money in hand to pay cash to do the work.

A few days later a highly respected church leader stopped by to see me and I told him what had happened. He said that the quickly answered prayer would help me during times that the answer was much slower coming.

As a very young preacher, I thought that all my prayers would be answered just that quickly as if I had a magic wand. I thought the older preachers just wasn't "with it" and I expected more.

Boy, did I ever learn that prayers are not always answered when and in the manner we desire. Some of my prayers have taken years to be answered, and some prayers I am thankful God never answered. He knew best. Some underanswered prayers, at least in the manner I wanted, are still a mystery to me.

Waiting is never easy. It is often very painful, but when we trust God he grants us what we need. He knows all, and He loves us enough to answer in the way we need.

That is a very hard lesson to learn. Instant prayers required less faith than prayers that require perseverance. I have learned that too.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

HELP FOR THE GRIEVING

Grieving is a process. I have known that for years but it was just this year that I fully understood. It is far more than a one step journey, and it is different for every person who faces loss. A friend of mine shared about an Internet ministry called Grief Share that offers help through the grieving process. He told me about this ministry right after Kristy passed, and I have been greatly blessed by it. 

Grief Share is a wonderful ministry help for those who have lost a loved one. I highly recommend it. On their web page you can read more about it, but here is a part of their intro that I copied. It reads, "Grief Share is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone."

One special part of Grief Share is the daily email they send to those who subscribe. You can go to griefshare.org to sign up. Every day for 365 days they will send an email that will offer new insight and help to cope with the loss of a dear one. 

Each day I receive an amail early in the morning that is written to offer insight and guidance through the dark hurt of loss. It has helped me. Maybe you know someone who could use a daily encouragement. Tell them about Grief Share. It might help them when they are all alone and wonder if they will make it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A FULFILLING JOB

Every day as a minister and pastor is different. 

I love my calling and I love the church that I serve. I have served a number of wonderful congregations and have had the priviledge of helping start almost 100 churches. You ought to have done something in almost 40 years of ministry though I feel like I have done so little.

Tuesday I began with early morning devotions then headed to the church for my weekly staff meeting and prayer and devotions with them. Following the staff meeting, I worked on an announcement video for this Sunday to promote a challenge basketball game between my youth pastor and me to raise money for missions. Then I was off to visit a member having surgery and back to the church for a luncheon appointment. A counseling session followed that with phone calls in between and some work on the computer. I raced off for another appointment followed by another hospital visit and then another hospital visit. Then I headed home for some house projects and a few phone calls in between. That was followed by more computer work and a few more phone calls. More studying and reading followed in the evening. I didn't have a night appointment which is unusual. 

That is just part of what pastor's do. The call to preach and pastor has to be the most rewarding job imaginable. Yes, I do get discouraged and many times things don't go the way I desire, but my responsibility is to be obedient and faithful and use my talents in the best possible manner for my Lord.

That is what I am trying to do. Each day is a new day with new and different dimensions of work. Life certainly is not boring as a pastor.

Tuesday, several people told me that I had helped them. That makes it worth it all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NEW COLORS

I appreciate the continued interest in my blog. It is still a work in progress with changes yet to come. Readers have followed the creation of this new blog even thought the style and substance has changed and broadened from my previous more romantic writings on Kristy's blog. I appreciate the continued interest, prayers, and kindness you have shown me. God bless each of you.

Plea is an appeal to the higher good drawn from occurrences and interests in my life. For months I wrote personally what was happening with me and my family. It was very transparent and often touched the raw nerves of my life. Literally thousands around the world read and many of you emailed or commented how it had helped you. Plea is a broader view beyond my life happenings and uses several different approaches. I hope it doesn't ever sound like a preacher though I am sure it does more than I know or will admit.

A number of people asked about the names of the new colors in my house. Now, if I can add just a little more "color" in my life. Actually that is not too far off in the future. My life is going to brighten more as God adds Wanda to my life. God has given us a very special love created in heaven.

Here are the new color names from BEHR Paints at Home Depot.

The Red in the dining room is called Sly Fox.
The Gold throughout the living room, family room, and kitchen is Warm Muffin.

These colors have warmed my home and brightened my life. Kristy told me to redecorate and paint my home. She knew it would make for the new day to come. She had such unselfish love.

Monday, March 9, 2009

ECONOMIC INSANITY

Like so many others, I am very concerned about the direction of our Nation and our future. I could write about the state of our morality, spirituality, politics, and on and on. There are so many deep and urgent concerns.

Here is my concern and question for today. 

How do our Nation's politicians think that they can tax and spend our way out of the present economic crisis? High taxes and foolish give-a-ways will deepen an already troubled economy. Why should our government use legalized theft to reward greed and mismanagement? How do they think that the can take, and take, and take, to give to unproductive society and enable continued squandering of money?

It is impossible to borrow your way out of debt. I can't do it. You can't do it. Our Nation can't do it.

Promoting a spirit of socialism won't work either. Have you ever gone to communist countries and noted how they have nothing and there is no creative spirit or individual entrepreneurship? I have traveled twice to Cuba and have seen how communism and socialism does not work.

Here is one plea for a return to sanity in our Nation.

Dear God, 

Please have mercy on our Nation. Please help our Congressional leaders to turn to you and trust again as a Nation under God. Please stop socialism, extreme taxation, foolish government spending. 

Send a revival of personal responsibility and determination as our forefathers had. Spare us from ungodly, foolish laws that will harm our families, unborn babies, and future generations.

Please stop socialism in our country.

Have mercy on America.

Amen.

Friday, March 6, 2009

FROM ME TO ME

I don't have many or any expensive extras in my life. I have worked hard all of my life for my family and have followed the Lord to do His work and will. That has made for unusual times of sacrifice, and also times when there were blessings beyond comprehension. I have chosen to live frugally and don't regret it. 

I am blessed in so many ways. To know God is the highest blessing. I have beautiful daughters and grandchildren and wonderful parents and siblings. I have been blessed with friends from all over the world, and I have been given the privilege to serve God in the highest calling of all--preaching His Holy Word. I have good health and a beautiful place to live and a wonderful congregation to pastor. God has blessed me with a new love and a beautiful lady. God has been so good to me.

But when I took off my wedding band several months back, I felt like my hands were naked. I still have a ring mark on my finger from wearing my wedding band for 37 years. So I went shopping and found something to cover my my naked hand even if for now it is the right hand. I got a really good deal on a nice ring. 

This ring is from me to me. Sometimes this kind of gift is good.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

DIFFERENT VOICES

I have had several comments noting the difference in my blog and Kristy's blog. I wrote for her on her blog for almost a year and followed some of her same style and manner, but I knew that in time that change would come. 

Life is different and the writing is different. I cannot stay on the same page of the past and Kristy made it clear that I shouldn't. She pushed me and pointed me into the new direction my life would take and that includes the writing of her blog and now the new blog that I have.

My voice in writing is different. I can write in the whimsy romantic way that she did but not in the exact manner. Kristy had her voice and it was cute and light and bubbly and oozing love and funny as a hoot and filled with all kind of unique detail and style and.......I could go on for a while.

My voice is manly with direct sentences and without flair or eloquence but pointed in truth and life and desire for the better and also laced with elements of manly romance. Go back and read some of what I have written for months and you will see a similar style found in Kristy's writings. New things are happening in my life that Kristy predicted. It is an amazing journey of new life and new love. I could write more about my new love but that is for another time at a later date.

But now it is time for change and new plans God has ordained. Kristy knew it. My girls were prepared by Kristy for it. God has shown me and I am moving with a new voice and a new love for a new day. It is happening sooner than I could have ever believed, but my Jennifer told me early on that it would happen quickly and that it would be good. Jennifer was right.

Isn't that what God has for all of us. He is ever moving us forward to His plans and purposes so far higher than we know and can comprehend.

I have a new voice. It is different, but it is a voice God has given me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NO CUSSING WEEK

I don't cuss, but I did say my Sunday School lesson backwards one time. I used to golf, but I didn't have enough religion. I didn't cuss, but where I spit the grass died! Ha!

Do you cuss?

Don't answer that, but I was watching a CNN news program that mentioned  a kid in Los Angeles who is calling for a no cussing week for middle school students. That sounds like a novel idea for society in motivating people to talk with a better standard of communication. I guess that is a commentary on society and the continued breakdown of our moral fiber.

I can remember a time when TV did not offer foul language and movies didn't include four letter words. Now it seems almost impossible to find any movies that a family can view together.

Why shouldn't we choose a higher level of speech and use our brains a little more in communication. Nothing is cheaper than hearing foul language coming from the mouths of kids. 

Cussing doesn't advance anything is society and it makes for a lower life. Here is for hoping that that the young guy calling for a no cussing week makes a big dent in foul mouths.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

MORE REDECORATING PICTURES


Here are more of the redecorating pictures of my house. Wanda and Tara worked hard last weekend to add the little touches that made everything come together. I really like the way it all looks. 

Before Kristy passed she talked very frank with me and my girls about painting and redecorating the house. She wanted my life to go forward and the one who God would bring into my life to feel free to make this her new home. That is amazingly unselfish love. 

My life is changing and it is moving forward to all the goodness that God has planned. It is both exciting and challenging, but I am ready and now is the time for it all to happen. God has been so good to me. He is very faithful.






Monday, March 2, 2009

CONTEMPLATING

I am contemplating what's next on the house redecorating agenda. Here is a picture that my Mom took this past weekend when they came up for a brief visit. Wanda and her daughter-in-law, Tara,  chose the colors and made the decorating changes. I really like it. 

My camera had a problem and wouldn't let me download pictures that I have taken. I hope to put some other pictures up tomorrow that show the painting and decorating project up to this point. 

There are a number of other improvements that I want to make and in the next few weeks I will be working on them. Inch by inch anything is a cinch.