Thursday, June 16, 2016

TRUMP...CLINTON...OBAMA and MORAL PREJUDICE

All mankind lives, acts, decides, relates, and forms a personal world view from a moral prejudice. A moral prejudice defines our right and our wrong. These two opposites determine our belief system. They are our truth parameters, what is and what is not permissible within my world view. Operate from a moral prejudice vacuum and anything goes, truth be damned. Cultures (from the most sophisticated to the the most primitive) profoundly influence one's moral prejudice. If that culture is dominated by a religious or spiritual factor, the prevailing moral prejudice will reflect that element for good or evil. So the moral prejudice of a Muslim, believing he is acting within the parameters of his belief system, allows him to shove a homosexual from the roof of a tall building, sending him to a deserved death, or behead one who is, to him, an infidel. While infrequent incidents of extreme violence - abortion clinic bombings for one - have occurred, today's Christian world expresses its' moral prejudice in terms such as "God doesn't want me unhappy".  So leaving the wife of my youth for a hot young chick is justifiable and O.K. with God.

I am an unabashed follower of Jesus Christ. His time on earth clearly revealed how God desires to relate to us. His life on earth portrayed in living color that God comes to us full of grace and truth. (John 1:14). His life, death, and resurrection offers a "moral prejudice" introduced in grace - that God sees beauty in His creation and passionately desires man to experience His goodness and love. One complication though...God's goodness and love are anchored in truth.  That truth confronts the reality (historically demonstrable) of the havoc man's self-determined truth and "moral prejudice" produces on earth.

Henley's "Invictus" captures this spirit in man.

          "Out of the night that covers me,
                 Black as the pit from pole to pole
           I thank whatever gods may be
                For my unconquerable soul
                             ...
          It matters not how strait the gate,
               How charged with punishment the scroll
         I am the master of my fate,
              I am the captain of my soul"

So how does this relate to Donald, Hillary, and Barack? From all segments of the political and religious spectrum prolific praise and blistering condemnation are heaped on them as though they were either our national savior or the devil incarnate. They are neither. The sub-surface current sense in the social media, that rescue from our national ills resides in the ballot box, overlooks three critical factors (again, my moral prejudice).  (1) The world is not getting better and better, just more sophisticated in our ability and willingness to destroy one another. (2) "It's all about me" is the dominant Western personal philosophy. Ravi Zacharias nailed it when he said the Western world, including Christians, "think with their eyes and understand with their emotions"...whether or not it appeals to us and how it makes us feel. (3) No objective standard for truth or morality leaves humanity wide open for the destructive factors foisted on the world by people with unfettered moral prejudices. These three realities produce men, women, governments, nations, and movements who possess "...a moral prejudice which blinds men to the right choice of logical alternatives." (Robert Speer).

Logical alternatives, rational thinking, intellectual honesty, and common sense in our political scene are conspicuous by their absence. So is objective truth. Even 2 + 2 = 4 is suspect. The phrase "That's your truth" is true. But the truth authority for that "moral prejudice" will determine the outworking of that "truth". So a shooter with a self-confessed Isis "moral prejudice" kills 49 people, wounds 50 others, and according to our President, (with his own "moral prejudice"),  the shooting, at least in part, was not born from the womb of the perpetrator's "moral prejudice" but the atmosphere of hatred our culture expresses towards the homosexual community.  Listening (infrequently) to the current clamor re-enforces, to me, the paucity of principled politicians who possess a moral prejudice I can buy into.  

Here is where we are as a culture.  Our politics reflect it. Over 100 years ago Robert Speer, in his book "The Man Christ Jesus" penned these thoughts. Sounds as though he was commenting on our day.  The style of writing and wording is not geared to our "nine second sound byte" attention span, but weighty and penetrating.

    "Charity (God's love) holds fast the minutest atom of truth as being precious and divine, offended                                   by even as much as a thought of laxity. Liberality loosens the terms of truth, permitting easily, and with careless magnanimity, variations from it; consenting, as it were in its own sovereignty, to overlook or allow them; and subsiding ere long into a licentious indifference to all truth and a general defect of responsibility in regard to it. Charity (God's love) extends allowances to men; liberality to falsities themselves."  (p. 51)

Powerfully profound!  And to me, the dominate "moral prejudice" in our political world.

Obama, Clinton and Trump?

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man."  Psalm 118:8







Wednesday, August 5, 2015

APP FOR A HURTING HEART?


The problem with private pain is...it is private. Especially the heart kind. Seared deep in the soul, its looming-in-the-shadows presence smothers most attempts to shuck the pain, or deaden it. Too often those attempts are man made, be it drugs, gusto living (with its attendant complications), booze, or never stopping to smell the roses because we don't believe any exist in my weed patch.  Spiritual attempts - guilt induced (?) - often only make matters worse.  If you want to feel like a full blown spiritual failure, cast that painful burden on the Lord in the Throne room and when you hit the street again, find that heart burden still gnawing at your mind and heart.

The problem with a heart burdens lies in the fact they are deeply connected to our thinker. "As a man thinks in his heart so is he".  It is difficult NOT to think about what you know. A painful burden buried deep in the heart can surface in our thought processes when least expected or wanted. Hurting heart emotions are no respecters of our protective parameters of events, places, delights, or diversions created to offer a safe retreat from the sting of our inner, secretive pain. Such emotions will doggedly make their untimely, unwelcome appearances.

Can't someone come up with an APP for such issues? Our instant, punch a button and download the answer world would rush to your door step. I've heard all the pat answers that don't pat; the easy solutions that don't salute; the quick fixes that don't fix.  But either God's promises of peace in our problems and quietness of heart and soul when heart stuff grabs us are true or not. I choose to believe they are. I know and have experienced God being "nigh unto those of a broken heart... "  Those moments dealt mostly with my private pain and perplexity. God meets us in such times powerfully if we are willing to listen to His Words even when He tells us something we don't want to hear. That's where the "contrite spirit" comes in...the rest of that verse. Personal "hardening of the categories" is a spiritual disease raging among professed followers of Jesus. Kills the  healing, not the hurt.

"Bringing every thought into captivity to Christ" makes good preaching but difficult practicing.

Our Lord's personal agony was His own. Witness Gethsemane. His APP was His Father's presence. And not a nine second sound bite connection either.  My hurry is not His hurry. I'm learning that.








Sunday, November 9, 2014

HEAVEN WILL TELL....

Positive excitement in your life does not necessarily equate with contentment. Three years into our new adventure as Pastor of then Crestline Bible Church this young pastor was in the pits. Construction on our own facilities atop Shades Mountain underway, a church family loving their way into my heart (easily, because of who they were), excitement over what God was doing...and me miserable. Self examination for hidden sin produced no biggies. Intimate family relationships - solid as a rock. I did the pop (and not so pop) psychological cure all and looked at my family of origin. While all parents face the awesome reality that we do reproduce after our own kind, the kind of my origin were loving by touch and words, affirming, had been there for me, and did not leave any gaping holes in my psyche.

So what was it?  The answer was God taking me off by myself to spend time in His Woodshed of Grace and Truth (John 1:14).   In the awesomeness of His healing Presence in those more than sacred moments, God brought me face to face with three critical issues in which I needed to embrace His perspective, not my conclusions, no matter the source of those conclusions. Years of dealing with struggling saints...so often struggling against they know not what, but with angst of spirit creating a constant sense of inner dissatisfaction...taught me that relief from this burden of soul weariness comes hard.  But if it does not come, enjoying our freedom in Christ will be a distant dream.

First, though raised in a home full of love, God's love for me with no strings attached was only a theological concept, not a practical, practiced truth. Then God exposed to me a plague ravaging saints serving around the world - we operate in our sphere of service in a PBA mode. Performance Based Acceptance, which being interpreted means we consciously or unconsciously believe God is pleased with us and loves us to the degree we function (jumping through certain pre-set hoops) and are "successful'  or acceptedly spiritual as measured by some standard pit on us by our parents, church, organization, our particular Christian culture, or even ourselves. That brought me to the third issue needing God's perspective; The church I pastored was not mine. It was His, period. He would build it, not me. If He wanted to burn it down, He would. And He did not need my permission. He, in His purposes, could split it wide open, or cause it to burst at its' proverbial seams to the point this Mississippi KISS person could not handle it. It was His church, not mine.

So, from that point on, when people would ask, "How's the church doing", usually thinking bodies, bucks, and buildings, my response was - Heaven will tell.  For the true issues are not the Big 3, but the spiritual dynamics taking place in hearts which should be experiencing personal encounters with the living God who comes to us as a no strings attached lover and with His adequacy for a life well lived, not PBA demands. I threw off the yoke of PBA and embraced His love. God's gentle touch affirmed me as "I am what I am by the grace of God, and His grace was not wasted on me." (I Cor. 15:10).  God's pit delivering words were; "Mick, you are not omni-competent, omni-gifted, or omni-anything. Live with it. Be you, Mick. You'll be surprised how I can use an earthen vessel".

That week left me a free man. From people's expectations, pressure to perform, counterfeit crosses, and Satan's condemnation shouted full voiced from self, saints, even society. But until Heaven calls my name, the days ahead, though overflowing with His no strings attached love, must be driven by raw obedience to His commands (and they are not hard to be borne). Because for me, when a brother shakes my hand and asks, "How're ya'll doing?" the answer - in truth - is not "fine" but "Heaven will tell."

Not because I have to (PBA), but because I yearn for it (no strings attached love), I want what Heaven tells about this earthen vessel to please Him.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

DRUMMER BOY, BBQ RIBS AND PSALM 71

The Baby Back ribs...sinfully good. Carson, Timpani drummer for the Oak Mountain High School band, turned 16 yesterday (Sept. 30), so we gluttonously celebrated his entrance into this new realm of responsibility, drivers license and all. To this granddad he should still be an inquisitive little boy climbing the huge magnolia in our front yard (remember when dad had to rescue you?)...but now on the verge of manhood, and character molded manhood at that.

I'm a Psalm 71 man. That's one Psalm above the threescore and ten normal life span Psalm 90 speaks of.  I'm way past that, a walking witness to my sweet wife's care and good cooking. More so a reflection of the care and excessive goodness God poured into my life. And grace is indeed "in spite of."

Mom went to glory at 57. Dad followed six months later at 63 (Fifty years ago). On his way to work My brother stopped, as he did each morning, for a cup of coffee, to read his Bible, and feed the birds.  Must be an experience to go to MacDonalds and wind up in Heaven. Golden arches for sure. He was 57. Billie, my sister, made the three score and ten, barely. So I'm living on pure grace. Thankfully.

This "old person" Psalm nails it. Verse 17; "Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds." For me, imperfectly? Yes. With stammering tongue and unclean lips? Most certainly. And from this position of ancient-dom, with clearer vision of what matters in life, with regrets washed in the blood of my Savior, and His Word more solidified and treasured in my heart through the gentle teaching of the Holy Spirit - these days are sweetly wonderful. Heaven and home nearer, people you love, the Body of Christ, hugs and warm handshakes, smiles, sun rises, God-crafted sunsets, meaningful moments with my sweet heart, 'Hi Dad' kisses and 'I love you' from our offspring and their progeny, and moments alone in His presence awaiting  His voice....man, life is rich.

BUT...it ain't over til the overweight lady sings!  So Psalm 71 lays it on us oldsters who find bad mouthing the following generations a spirit deadening delight.  Harkening back to the "good old days" we forget they were formerly known as "these trying times".  Here's our oldster mandate - Verse 18; "Even though I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, TILL I DECLARE YOUR POWER TO THE NEXT GENERATION AND YOUR MIGHT TO ALL WHO ARE TO COME".

So thanks, Carson, for turning 16. You are a reminder that as long as I have breath our Psalm 71 Mandate - to show His power and might - is still in effect. The power of His word and presence to change me into His image; power to receive and give love because the Holy Spirit pours God's love into my heart;  and the power of a sound mind to live in my reality. And God weighed in on us oldster's side in II Tim. 1:7 - a word for us. "For God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind". That promise did not end when I went on Social Security.

Those of us who've walked a long path of life, experiencing the Psalm 71 goodness of God, have a Mandate to be "Might" men and women demonstrating in word, deed, and attitude (critical) that God is mighty to save and no matter what life threw at us, we stood "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:16). So...off our "Let the younger generation do it" duffs, Psalm 71-ers.
There's a job to be done.

The BBQ - worthy. The Drummer, now a young man - proud of him. The Mandate - doable even in ancient-dom!




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BROKEN HEARTS, BOTTLED TEARS, GRANDPAS

                                                 

Our God of broken hearts (nigh-ing Himself to those in such lonely personal agony - Ps. 34:18) and collector of tears in our bottle of remembered weeping (Ps, 56:8), must be doing double duty in our chaotic, hurtful, dangerous world. We shake our heads in unbelief at man's inhumanity to man and from the comfort and safety of our homes experience short-lived twinges in our hearts for those poor souls "over there". On Facebook we'll decry the lack of U.S.A. leadership to do something to curb the gruesome onslaught of evil in our world and pin our hope on the next election. Wrong hope pinning place.

Collective broken hearts and bottled tears are all individual and unique to God. Like mine are to me. Tears from these aged eyes, bottled by my Loving Heavenly Father, flowed from multiple walks through the valley of the shadow of death (not mine..haven't noticed me in the B'ham News obits yet), disturbed relationships, and those moments of total helplessness to change a pain, whatever it was. And I'm humbled God loves me enough to also bottle those tears brought on by those moments of self realization - good ones and bad ones. The point is, the pain of a broken heart hurts so deeply because it is mine as it is yours. And we are not to judge the worthiness of the broken heart in another, or its' cause. That's God's business. He's the bottle keeper and "nigh to the broken hearted" One. 

Older age hopefully brings deeper, more intimate awareness of God's grace in hurting moments. But all He can be to the broken hearted is on the table for every one. A banquet table at that. Looking back, and more so now as the distance to the Gates of Heaven shortens, tears captured in my bottle are not for me, but for my children and grand children. Not that they are breaking my heart. Far from it. They are a source of joy. I love the way they love life, love each other, and love our Lord. But life has not offered them freedom from their personal heart issues, painful ones at times. And old dad and granddad, aware of their challenges, reminds God my bottle is not yet full. Heart felt tear times come because the dynamics of their lives - their dreams, their hopes, their relationships, their love - are anchored deep within this old heart. When a dream is shattered, a hope deferred, a relationship awry, a love un-given, and I see the hurt and tears, then....bottle and nigh time.

But the heart smile comes when those tear moments fade in the beauty of God's love and care showing up in their lives, most often communicated in a shoulder to cry on, loving arms surrounding them, but also found in the honesty and strength of heart His Presence offers...a truth and experience uncatchable, only Spirit taught. 

In that "bottle" Psalm, David's says of God, "You have delivered my feet from falling that I may walk before God in the light of the living." The One who bottles our tears offers strength for the day...even a tear filled day. In Psalm 34 where He promises to be "nigh to those of a broken heart", David also takes a stab at his own position of power when he wrote, "The young lions do lack and suffer hunger but those who wait upon the Lord shall not want any good thing."

Some heart needs only God can meet. Broken heartedness is one of them. Is it possible that in Heaven when God  wipes away all tears from our eyes , He will sit us on His divine lap, take our bottle of tears He treasured for us to remember, pour them out before His Throne of Grace, and say to us, "My child, I knew the cause of every one of those tears.  I shared your broken heart?"  

Talk about a smile from ear to ear...and a hug of "nigh-ness" like you've never known!!! 







   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

BACK YARD STUMPS VS FRONT PORCH STUDY

Both of us digging.  The stump grinder shredding the last vestiges of five dratted pines whose needles covered our back deck with great and frustrating regularity - me, digging in the Book, coffee in hand, cool breeze from overhead fans, comfortable chair, and no attention interrupting items lurking in the shadows. Rare moment.

The moment brought to mind Is. 30:15

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it."



Quietness? Honestly, I am probably more at ease with myself as a stump grinder...digging up roots of the past that regularly dump emotional or spiritual needle like clutter on my deck of life. Or better yet, lowering the sure blade of stump grinding truth to the roots of bitterness (Heb. 12:15) or anger so evident (to me) in others. It's sort of like there is this Christian life mandate, "Don't just sit there, do something!" True, faith without  works is dead. But works without the sure confidence born out of moments of quietness and trust are sheer effort...the stuff of burn out, defection, loss of our first love, and unhealthy introspection. If our adequacy is of Him, then some Him time is not an option.

Back before the earth's crust hardened -  my Seminary days - a well known evangelist spoke in chapel. His call was for us students to take our noses out of our books and "get our shirt tails on fire" witnessing to the teeming masses without Christ.  The next day the chapel speaker was an older professor who had walked with God deeply for years. With a voice of dignity and heart he said; "Gentlemen, I want to speak to you today on the matter of 'The flaming heart versus the burning shirt tail.'"

God's word to His people was that quietness and trust produces strength.

Stump grinding time...most certainly. Porch time...absolutely essential. It is the spiritual porch time that sanctifies back yard stump grinding.

So, to survive, the porch awaits me, the coffee hot, the Book alive, the moments...priceless.

Monday, May 19, 2014

WHEN YOUR PAST CATCHES UP WITH YOUR PRESENT

Over the past weeks our past caught up with our present. The stillness of the blog pen borne of captured thoughts, mental energy exercised all over the place, heart felt concerns in our sphere of experiences, past connections, family, and a host of wonderful, but often stressed and searching people God sends our way, was one consequence.

But these four men, Larry, Hal, Mike, and Jack (L to R), all former students of ours when we taught at French Camp Academy in MS from 1960-63, along with a notable group of others from that era, brought into sharp focus the truth that when your past catches up with your present it can be an experience of pure, living grace. These men and women - whom we knew as teenagers with all those dynamics plus being subjected to our feeble teaching attempts -  who have experienced the good stuff of life and gut level challenges of the deepest sort, brought a dynamic of grace to that gathering that left a permanent heart smile in my sweetie and me. Obviously God planted truth in some good soil. The fruit it there.  The level of care for each other - even though fifty one years later - was indeed impressive. To all of us who've been there, FCA is a special place. Most of all, special people. Grace will do that to a person.

I learned a powerful leadership lesson at FCA. Dr. Sam Patterson, the President - and like few leaders who've crossed our path in fifty four years of ministry - operated from the premise he had no kingdom to protect. More than that, in our efforts to impact those young lives, his word to us was, "What can I do to make you successful?" A Godly man of pure grace.

We arrived at FCA fresh out of Seminary, two years newly married with two (no comments) precious little girls, and broke.  Mr. Pat (his honored name) asked me to go to Greenwood to speak in the Presbyterian church for him. He claimed he had other obligations that Sunday. Here's the kicker. Mr. Pat stayed home that day. He had me go because he knew what the honorarium would be. With the tiny trailer loaded with our few belongings evidencing our financial state, Mr. Pat graced us by sending me...an unknown to speak for him. That $100 (remember this is 1960) is indelibly etched in my bank of "ah ha" moments. That's why Mr. Pat sent me.  Grace lived. Grace touching lives. Mick, go and do likewise.

Our time at the recent FCA reunion was memorable. Thanks, all you fellow FCA-ers of those days. God enabled you to survive us well. His grace has not failed in you. As the Apostle Paul said of himself in I Cor. 15:11, "God's grace was not wasted on me." Indeed.

It is O.K. for your past to catch up with you. As long as grace comes with it.






Saturday, March 8, 2014

To My Bryan College Friends and Family

As a Bryan alumni and former Board member, this is my perspective...

I bleed Bryan. From the first day I stepped (1951) on that physically pitiful (except for the Chapel and the view) campus, I loved the place. Christmas break my first year was extended because a defunct boiler needed to be replaced. I hated it..returned early much to the angst of the Dean. Why??? The people. To me Bryan has always been about special people. I’ve been sleeping with one of those special people for almost 56 years and carry a heap  of love received and given, sourced in that beloved bunch. 

Leadership was not perfect, never is, but 63 years  connection with Bryan as a student and then as an involved alumni and Board member does make some lasting impressions, even on us aged ones as it relates to such matters. So allow me a walk down memory lane.  Before you turn me off as an out-of-touch ancient, I am not a “back when I was your age” grandpa.The only indisputable fact about back when I was your age is that I was years younger than I am now. In the Lord Jesus, my best days are yet ahead. 

The dominate trait of Bryan life over these years, to me, was the idea that we were all in this together. I recall an evening meal in the nail studded ceiling of the dining hall. Spiritual food only - Scripture and prayer - our student feeble attempt to ease the financial crunch of the college. Dr. Rudd’s leadership took the college through those very difficult, but to me, unforgettable years with a Godly humility found in few. In it together…most certainly.

Dr, Mercer brought bounce, zip, creativity, a PR ability with names and faces second to none, and that unforgettable moment of SACS accreditation. Indeed an “in it together” effort. His untimely death brought Ken Hanna to walk Bryan through critical financial times. Financial exigency was declared by the Board. Draconian cuts had to be made. Lives were uprooted and we grieved. I recall faculty offering to cut their salaries so a colleague would not be released. Painful, but still undergirded by a sense of “we’re in this together.”

Then the fire…an “in it together” experience of profound impact beyond Bryan.

Don’t misread me. Not all perfect by any means. And many of you may read your particular time at Bryan differently. But I sat in enough Board meetings, witnessing with almost unbelief the powerful commitment on the part of those underpaid faculty, to appreciate the fact God had blessed Bryan with some choice people, in faculty and staff as well as those who give Bryan validity for its existence….all those students who walked the halls of Bryan. Somewhere in these last years “in it all together” has been lost.

Here’s one man’s perspective on today at Bryan.

Every functioning entity is both an organization and an organism.  An organism has life. For Bryan, that must be life born of God or we are a fraud. It is an organization for the effective accomplishment of the purpose of the organism -see the Bryan mission statement. But the organism aspect must drive the organizational factor. Which means people are the most important focus…the only entity God takes to His heaven.  But…whether church, school, mission organization… at some point the organizational element can become the driving force, and that’s where many Christian organism/organizations mess it up. 

A Christian organization/organism must have Godly goals. But the process of reaching those goals must be Godly as well. The clearest indication of the Godliness of the process is  how the organization treats the people involved in reaching those goals.                   
     
As a retired Board member, as a man who holds Bryan in his heart, and as an alum, these were  and are issues which concern me. They rise or fall on leadership. And so I pray.

In His Grip,

Mickey



Saturday, February 22, 2014

MICK'S MUSINGS: Lap dog lessons in life.

Gibby, dad's Christmas gift from his offspring, is a delight. Feisty, energetic, curious, with a nose for every varmint that dares intrude on our property, playful, and at times wanting nothing more than one of our laps. We are his refuge, his comfort food, his safe place when his young world doesn't make sense.

In the process of teaching him to obey the command to "come" when called, he ran out the length of his leash at full speed which naturally brought him up short with a choking jerk. A desperate yelp, then with terror in his little eyes, and blinding puppy speed, flew back to his  master, landing full force in my arms....and staying there until his puppy trauma faded.

Somewhere I've read, (Ps. 46) "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble." That's us to Gibby. But I could not help but compare my "refuge" use of God to Gibby.

He wants to venture out, but insists I always be within his eyesight. If he loses sight of me, he panics, and with little feet hardly touching the ground flies back to the spot where he last saw me. I'm always there.
And with God I venture away.  God hangs in there for me, faithfully awaiting my return.  I've learned that if I cannot see God, returning to the point where I parted company with Him is critical to His presence in my life again.

Gibby, like us, will learn obedience. Won't be all pleasant for him. But it is necessary for him if he is to be safe and protected.  By now this aged one should have obedience down pat. Hardly. Hebrews 12 has it correct. God's discipline of his children, not necessarily pleasant, afterwards yields the "peaceful fruit of righteousness". It puts everything back into right relationships...with God, myself, and others.  Or at least it is supposed to, according to the Word. Even the Lord Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb. 5:8)...a concept I have difficulty wrapping my mind around.

I love Gibby. He is a joy to me. I know God loves me. I want to be a delight to Him. Simple obedience is critical to the process.


Monday, February 3, 2014

MICK'S MUSINGS: "Should old acquaintances be forgot"....No way!

A treasured blessing from our Father's love...old acquaintances. And at my age most of them are. Sadly some of those choice acquaintances left earth's scene without the "old" bit. This back-in-the dark-ages wedding photo of a college roommate and his beautiful bride flooded my storehouse with memories of Philippians 1:3 quality.  Jim, the groom, entered glory from  a dirt road in the Ivory Coast leaving his bride and  two young children. Stu (far left) and Ken (far right), both college buddies, in the purposes of God finished their faithful labors earlier than most...good men all. Check out the ears standing between the couple and you might recognize a familiar face. Then recently we attended a memorial service for a brother whose walk with God most followers of Jesus would label weird. Outside the neat theological boxes created by those who insist on a manageable God, my brother stared faith in the face and never flinched.  Daring, when most of us would duck, reckless spiritually...no obstacle daunted him, fearless of any foe (no doubt Satan cringed at our brother on his knees), generous to his last penny, loving beyond any sin laden soul or self righteous saint, an easy laugh and joyfully holding on to faithfulness unto death...a servant of the first order because the Lord Jesus captured his heart  He was a man who lived for His Lord in construction clothes, not a clerical collar.

No saint though, just real and free of the scourge blighting much of the Western church where "niceness" equals "Christian".   Matthew 15 records an encounter of Jesus with "nice" folks who possessed more Biblical knowledge than most of us, people whose traditions outweighed Biblical obedience. Jesus surveyed that crowd of safety first, live by their unwritten rules, bound by their spiritual culture (which they knew was THE way) and said, "That which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God," Not saying unless you are weird you aren't spiritual. But those few folks free of the shackles of performance based acceptance and not stuffed in the theological/procedural box of how you must do the Christian life, are a spiritual breathe of fresh air to me. And not easily forgotten.

Oswald Chambers has a word for it:  RECKLESS ABANDONMENT TO JESUS CHRIST.

Been enriched by a number of such "old acquaintances." More than that, challenged, made to realize how comfortable a manageable Christian life can be. Stirred. Thank you, you unforgotten friends. Your wide place in my life is missed.



Thursday, January 23, 2014

MICK'S MUSINGS; Gods showing up in defunct freezer

Freezers are for freezing food...to belabor the obvious. Old Brownie kept Martha's stash of edibles (dinner table occupants have a way of multiplying around here) ready for over 35 years. Think we got our money's worth here.  A couple of Saturday mornings ago I heard Old Brownie whining. Not a good sound from a freezer. Sure enough, the compressor apparently decided it was time to retire. Checking the contents found just the beginnings of thawing out. Now Saturdays don't offer the best opportunities to purchase a freezer AND have it delivered that day. Checking the biggies, most did not even carry upright freezers and none offered delivery that day.

Now here's where God showed up. Handy TV and Appliance Store to the rescue. A phone call indicated availability of both freezer and delivery that afternoon. But there was a prior issue...footing the bill for a costly item not in our limited budget.

Two days before Old Brownie kicked the bucket we received a hefty check from a travel coverage (if you go down in a plane crash,etc), ten bucks a month, JC Penny Insurance policy. The amount of the check was  more than we put into the policy. Another episode of God showing Himself faithful to us, the first show up of God on our behalf in this scenario. Then Saturday delivery...the next show. But it gets better. Two hefty African American brothers delivered the freezer. They were Brothers...believing, knowledgeable, on fire brothers. The fellowship quickly hit the more than common level. Last scene: standing in a circle, arms around shoulders, praying God's goodness on each other. Couldn't get much better than that.

Old Brownie, your demise "done us good".

Friday, January 10, 2014

MICK'S MUSINGS: Love God - Love People; Serve God - Serve People

Not far into the pages of Scripture you run smack into love. Adam and Eve did not invent love. They were privileged to be the first to experience love on the human scene ...which had rapidly turned sour. Our ancient ancestors messed it up royally for us when they decided tasting forbidden fruit a more attractive alternative than heeding the One who knew best - our Creator. Don't knock them for the mess the human race is in. We'd all do same.

With Adam and Eve the love of God literally covered their sin. Innocent, helpless sheep paid the price for that covering. For God's love to cover our disobedience - both in terms of needing One who could bridge that eternal gap between sinful man and a Holy God, and covering for sins we followers of Christ find so easily beset us - demanded The Lamb of God be sacrificed. Love - bloodied, bruised, despised, rejected, nailed to a cross - provided that Lamb for us. "God so loved the world..." And I am eternally grateful.

Then God comes along in His Word and lays on His people His standard for how we are to love in the here and now. "We love Him because He first (in every way) loved us."  "Beloved, if God so loved us then we ought also to love one another." "...If you do not love your brother whom you have seen, how can you love God whom you have not seen?" (Read I John ...full of love). We don't get off easily. God knew He was pushing our buttons in holding us to His standard. Walking wounded dot the Christian landscape where His followers failed miserably in the love department because that standard was not practical or too tough (our cop-out).  But hang on...He's not telling us He requires we get the warm fuzzies over every weird character flying the Believer Banner, or the pure pagan.

Here's a simple biblical and practical love lesson liveable by any of us.  You love God by loving people. You serve God by serving people. Again, warm fuzzies are not the issue. Giving even a cup of cold water in Jesus' name is. Anyone can live that love. Even us.

God knew (Mick especially) we were not wired for the spectacular or awesome in our corner of His Kingdom. But people...that's our turn on. And hosting three MK college students headed back to Texas was just a cup of cold water....in Jesus' name. We are privileged to do a lot of that. Funny thing...we were the refreshed ones. Thanks, Rochelle, Nathan, and Daniel. Our prayer in our unspectacular, awesomeless, niche in His Kingdom is that God senses our love for Him in our feeble attempts to love people practically, and that He finds our service for Him acceptable as we seek to serve Him with our cups of cold water - simple things like accommodations, Martha's touch in the kitchen, a place to crash or spend R & R time, a listening ear and heart, or a word of encouragement.

Love God by loving people. Serve God by serving people. Anyone can do that. And an overseas, distant land, strange people experience is not required.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

MICK'S MUSINGS; God's "things" - enjoying them...without guilt.

In our connections with the servants of God around the world we discovered a blight on the Christian psyche among many wide-open-for-God servants....a conviction that somehow to do anything even a tad bit extravagant in our celebration of life is spiritually suspect. So anniversaries go unballyhooed (sp?).  Events meriting killing the fatted calf wind up a hot dog at home and watching a DVD. More often than we wanted, we heard servants convey their fear a $25 restaurant night out to mark a life moment would offend some of their supporters. Like the Apostle Paul, we need to learn how "to be dead broke or to be loaded" (Mick's loose translation of Philippians 4:12). Having too much? Rarely. Not  having it? More than we liked. But God, whose faithfulness kept us clothed, fed, and not head over hills in debt, also called us to enjoy what we did have. A family of imperfect lovers but who are committed to living it, offspring of the best friend kind, the necessities of life, amazing friends, and an occasional over the top extravagant gift like a week in Vail, CO trying not to break a leg skiing in that winter wonderland. The list is endless because God is endless in His goodness.

Here's the latest extravagance...Sir Gibby, Mick's Christmas gift from his offspring. Gibby is a Cavachon, loves people, doesn't shed, not yappy, smart, and has already let me know that my shoes are fair game. He is and will be "richly enjoyed".

Enjoyment of life's "good things" ought to mark us who have found in our Lord the ultimate "good thing".
Enjoyment is not sinful. It is expected of us on God's part. Otherwise we're wasting His "richly".

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mick's Musings - Old dogs,new tricks?

Seniors on a 444 mile Natchez Trace bike trail.
"Hardening of our categories" - a Howard Hendrick's phrase all too descriptive of us oldsters. We are locked into our ways. In fact, some of us believe our prejudices, our preferences, and our preconceived ideas were thundered from Mt. Sinai.

It is scary to be my age and the Lord confront me through His Word about my hardened categories and tell me some adjustments were necessary if obedience to Him mattered. Here's just one category. In a word God said, "Mick, before you say something to whomever - your sweetie, or a complete stranger - I may want you to respond differently." Years of perfecting responses to all sorts of interactions does not give up without a fight. The choice was mine, obey or not. No zapping with a category softener from my Father that took the sweat out of considering doing it differently. He laid the choice squarely at my feet. Or in my heart.

And no category is off limits with Him. The Hound of Heaven will pursue us, and overtake us, and capture us for Himself. If I am to be conformed to the image of Christ until I am made like Him when I see Him as He is, then constant category checking and change is necessary. That's scary for an oldster whose gene pool, experience, and natural bent readily cultivated an  acceptable to me (often hurtful to others) hardening of the categories.

So hang with this "old dog". New tricks category on the docket.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mick's Musings: "Blessed are those whose friends can relax with you...and we are."


Coffee cups, shoes off, warm fire on a cold day, friends with unguarded hearts (Sam's on the red sofa on the right), no one on the clock, and Biblical feet on the ground conversation....doesn't get much better than that. It was a great day yesterday.

Uptight could be an apt description of many who claim Jesus set them free from the law of sin and death. The glorious liberty of the sons of God is a distant dream of theological potential but little practical experience. Many long for it but such freedom lies buried under the debris of past misdeeds, people issues, emotional scars, and the constant call to live in condemnation, whether that call is from Satan, self, saints, or society. All of those siren songs are deafening, drowning out the magnificent refrain of truth resounding throughout Scripture.  Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." That entire chapter is a glorious "UPTIGHT" remedy.

Love having those non-uptight people around. Makes the coffee taste better, the fire warmer, the relaxing unlimited, the presence of the Living Lord humbling..

To all our relaxable friends...we are thankful for you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Righteous man???? Mick's Musings


A RIGHTEOUS MAN HAS REGARD FOR THE 
LIFE OF HIS BEAST.  Proverbs 12:10



I am a KISS person. Keep It Simple Stupid. For me, theologically loaded words like "righteous" need to be translated into easily understood concepts if I am to integrate that truth into shoe leather living.  And some of the pew perplexity we pulpit purveyors of truth produce is because we define theological terms with theological terms. This revelation was brought to me by God's prophetic voice in my life...my wife!  Cutting to the chase, to me, "righteous" means "being in right relationship". Hence the profound truth (I Cor. 1:30) - Jesus Christ IS our righteousness. In Him, I am right with God, right with myself (I am what I am by the Grace of God...and God "don't make no junk!"),  I can be in right with you, and in right relationship with the world around me. A shoulder out of joint is an unrighteous shoulder. Your shoulder in place is a righteous shoulder. Unrighteousness is being "out of joint" in my relationships, starting with God. Righteousness is being in right relationships.

I am also an unabashed animal lover, especially my pets. Mogli, above, belongs to our daughter's family. Fun mini Schnauzer, likes to play, looks at you with those deep eyes, and let's you know she is happy to have you in her pack. Our too infrequent encounters are never lacking in punching this old geezer's pet button. For years our travelling hindered my pet loving instinct and I've missed it. As the Lord narrows down our focus to offer ourselves and our place to anyone needing spiritual, emotional, or physical R & R, the potentially pleasurable pet urge has lifted its' head again. 

And knowing that I will love, care for, and make life good for any future Mogli-like creature encourages me.  At least with my pet the "righteous man" tag will fit.

Here, pooch!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Crowned Royally - Fifteen Times Proverbs 17:6


Older age can have a mellowing effect on those of us hardened by years of layering our soft side with self protection, plunging with gusto into our work to the neglect of those needing more of us than just a grunt from behind the sports section of the newspaper, walling out relationships that might demand some emotional connection - something we men fight because escaping emotional connections is less demanding than enfolding them - or even that righteous excuse (for my crowd); the demands of ministry. We've heard more than one emotionally starved cry for father love from hurting folks. In those quiet moments of life reflections, I fear those cries came from the souls of my own off spring...too quick old, too late smart.

Hence the joy of older age...every moment with our children and grand children affords a "time to love". With our children we've hugged and kissed since day one. Still do.  Today I had lunch with our one son. Our BB Que crowded meeting place witnessed an old guy and this fine looking younger man (totally unbiased observation) greet each other with a kiss. Hopefully the obvious common look between us allayed any suspicions. If I could do it over again I'd love on my kids like there was no tomorrow. In the tomorrows on God's Daytimer for me I want them to know their ole dad's love for them is core-soul stuff. And always has been, even though the distractions of life may have submerged that love in a sea of ministry at times. Opportunity to love on your kids while they are young only happens once. Do it...with a vengeance.

And grandchildren. Like Elise above, our youngest grandchild, each one unique, heart warmers, capable, talented, led in their growing understanding of the Lord Jesus by their parents.  I hold in highest esteem their moms and dads as I witness the depth of the preparation input into their offspring for their journey in life. Jessica, Jake, Jena, Jillie; Casey, (Little Stevie), Leah, Josie; Brock; Austin, Nelson, Carson, Amellia; Dalton, Elise;  they indeed are my crowns and all are in the Birmingham area.  Except little Stevie...he awaits us in glory.

So to get  an Elise-crown hug last night (Thurs) required bundling up, $5 to get in the game, watching 6th graders play their brand of football, a cup of hot chocolate to warm the bod, and yeas! for our little cheerleader while shivering in the cold. But who's counting?

One crowned man.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A TIME FOR ????????

Solomon's God given wisdom (oft unheeded to his peril) is right on this score. There is a time...for everything. This past weekend thirty three years serving on the Board of Trustees at Bryan College came to a close. It has been a good ride, abounding in emotions from sheer joy (catching a glimpse of God at work in young lives) to painfully agonizing moments, such as watching the main Administration and classroom building burn to the ground. God gave beauty for ashes and today the College stands firm in its commitment to the Bryan motto - "Christ Above All". But God, through the quiet, gentle impressions of the Holy Spirit as I sought His wisdom in His Word said, "Mick, it is time to hang it up."  

Bryan College gave me a down to earth education, a wife worth far above rubies, life time friends, and an opportunity to invest my life in thousands of young people as part of the decision making of the Board of Trustees. I am grateful....and will miss it.

In that Ecclesiastes short discourse on time for everything under the sun, Solomon included a time for dancing.

I want to dance through these latter years. And you do that with people. In these latter years, my heart's desire is to......

Dance in my strength, dance in my fears, dance when my eyes are full of tears; 
Dance in the dark, dance in the light, dance when it's wrong, dance when it's right; 
Dance in the shade, dance in the sun, dance when it's a drag, dance when it's fun; 
Dance with my friends, dance with my foes, dance in my joys, dance in my woes; 
Dance with my sweetheart, my love - my wife, dance with our children, as they journey through life;
Dance when it's silent, dance when it's loud, dance when my faith reaches the cloud; 
But latter year dancing can only be true, for faith's last dance of joy, Lord, belongs to You.

Bring on the music.


Mickey

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Falling back into blogging...


Fall is here, and it seems like a good time to start this blogging business back up again!

NUMBERED DAYS AND ROUTINE DISTURBANCE 

Numbering our days is a solid biblical concept. Check out Psalm 90:12. It is not a matter of figuring out how many more days remain on our life day timer. It's seeking wisdom for today and our tomorrows, what God desires of us during these days, what our priorities should be, and plugging into His purposes for us with a vengeance; howbeit, an older, more experienced and should be gentler vengeance.

For us it is an issue of how best to invest our physical, emotional, and spiritual energies after 31 years  serving in a pastoral role and these last 18 years "Serving the Servants of Christ Around the World." It has been a wonderful journey into 40 countries, loaded with amazing wounded warriors and hidden heroes. Blogging and writing took a back seat, just by the nature of our unpredictable lifestyle.

Numbering our days brought us back to one of my first loves... penning (computerizing) thoughts born out of our journey with God, with each other, and with people, who to us are the most enjoyable entities God put on earth. We write, not as experts, but simply experienced. Hopefully from an honest  walk with God, a love for people, and full of grace and truth.

Be careful in this thing of numbering your days and applying your heart to wisdom. It may cause a shake up in your well ordered routine.  

In His Grip,

Mickey




Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I am "Valentined" beyond measure...

Valentine's Day and the sentiments attached - I love all  that come my way. And I’m loaded. A bride who keeps our  flame of love burning even after 52 years; Judy, whose new born bright eyes followed her dad around that hospital bassinet and still brightens his heart; Jenny, who could belly laugh before she could sit up, still bringing loving laughter to our lives: Jane, gorgeous little thing lying in her crib observing life around her, deep, quiet, still living all those qualities; Nate, who after three beautiful little girl babies, his mom, when she first saw him knobby knees and all,  said, “Ugly little old boy” now a handsome man of handsome heart; And our little Bethie… our five year later  precious little“uh oh” still delighting us with her beauty, intelligence, and courage. My Valentine cards are living and breathing God given gifts. I am "Valentined" beyond measure.

But wholesome love cannot be PBA - Performance Based Activated. It just loves. Because. Nothing else. My living Valentines taught me that truth. My dad score on a scale of one to ten could be a minus three but  the hugs, the kisses, the snuggling, never disappeared off the family radar. Sort of tough sitting at the family meal, eye to eye, when you are not heart to heart. My sweetie’s effort to make those times meaningful and palatable was one of her ministries to her Lord. You love God by loving people and you serve God by serving people. She did it in spades. She blessed her family and set the tone for the year round Valentine ingredient in our safe haven corner of world. No PBA here.

I write this on my birthday. At my age, ANY birthday is notable.  But whenever my name is called I will step into eternity smothered in love from six incredible gifts from our Loving Father. And wrapped in His arms of love, secure, an honored man for the privilege of having those life long Valentines on my journey. And I will thank Him.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Homeward Bound!

Saying Goodbye to Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea and the people we love there
Our time in Ukarumpa held speaking at the English "lotu" service... a number of small group gatherings... Martha cooking up a storm for meal guests, plus eating out heaps of times... like almost every meal this week (when they know you are leaving it is catch up time)... a number of interactive encounters with some hurting warriors... listening to powerful stories of God at work in tough places in PNG... lots of laughs and some tears. But that is life on the field! We are so privileged to be part of it in our small way. Words of appreciation come our way from grateful hearts over here for our supporters who made it possible for us to be here.
Soon we will be over the Pacific headed for LAX, immigration inspection, passport stamping, luggage shifting, and a tall glass of good old US iced tea from the food court.  We have already begun the  journey home. We have left Ukarumpa, and are now in Port Moresby til early Wednesday morning, leave at 6:30 AM. Lord willing, we arrive in B'ham Wednesday, Oct.13 at 5 PM after 30 hours of travel. Port Moresby (PNG) to Brisbane to LA to Dallas, then B'ham.

It has been a wonderful three months on this side of the world. We leave very loved, enriched, praising our Lord for the privilege of "Serving the Servants of Christ Around the World."


In His grip assuredly!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Sermon ~ "The Prodigals"

Ukarumpa congregation getting settled down to hear Mickey preach this sermon
Biblically knowledgeable people too often are the hardest on other people...like the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus' day. Luke 15 records Jesus taking them head on. Sinners and tax collectors (sorry about that IRS) flocked to Him. Jesus not only welcomed them, He ATE with them. It drove the religous crowd bonkers.

Jesus, pouring salt on their self-righteous wounds, tells three parables about something lost: the lost sheep the shepherd searched for and found....obviously a reference the the Lord Jesus who came to seek and save the lost; the lost coin, found by the woman after sweeping the house, bringing in a light and searching for it. To me this speaks of the Holy Spirit who sweeps away our darkness with the light of truth, the searcher of hearts.

And then the parable of the prodigal son. It is really the tale of two sons: the Rebellious Prodigal who left home after prematurely obtaining his share of his father's estate, and the Resident Prodigal who never left home but whose heart was far from his father. Most inheritances require the death of the estate owner before the estate is divided among the heirs. The Rebellious Prodigal had his own agenda, was willing to diminish his father to satisfy himself, wanted to put distance between himself and his father (the greener pastures syndrome), threw his money away on living it up until it was all gone, and wound up strarving in a pig pen. But he came to his senses, acknowledged his stupidity (he knew father's hired men had more to eat than he did), returned to his father and home, humbled himself and found open arms and an open heart from the father he had so wronged.

But not so the Resident Prodigal...his older brother. Fuming over the celebration his father threw because this lost son was now home, this son would not join in the celebration, declared his self righteousness in that for all those years he had "SLAVED" (see text NIV) for his father, and had NEVER disobeyed him (questionable). He would not even refer to the returned prodigal as his brother, but threw his disdain for his brother in the face of his father calling him, "This son of yours". And then surfaced the smoldering, resentful spirit... "You never once gave me even a goat to celebrate with my friends." His judgmental  spirit surfaced when he accused, without evidence, his brother of wasting his father's money on  prostitutes. While the father pled with him and reminded that ALL he possessed was available to this Resident Prodigal, this young man had a miserable concept of grace. He never heard the heart of his loving father.

To the listening, biblically knowledgeable Scribes and Pharisees, this was a slap in the face they never felt, just as there is no record of the Resident Prodigal having a change of heart as did the Rebellious prodigal.

But this parable's central figure is the Prodigal Father. He did not do fathering as most of us would. Open armed and open hearted to a Rebellious Prodigal; open armed and open hearted to a Resident Prodigal.....he never gave up on either of them.  So neither has God our Father given up on us...whether Rebellious or Resident.  "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have a drawn you." Signed - God our Heavenly Father. (Jer. 31:3)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Arrived in Ukarumpa


We're are off and running here in Ukarumpa at the Wycliffe station. We enjoyed an incredible HIgh School Marching (inside) band concert tonight.
These are pictures of leaving CLTC, the Kodial coming for us, and the crowd seeing us off.


Martha boarding for an aerial adventure to Ukarumpa
Mickey the co-pilot!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Tenk yu tru"

"Meri" bloused Martha... standard wear for PNG ladies... a gift from the care group we mentored. A humbling honor to have them throw you a "mumu" (feast and party) from their minimal possessions. Lots of love flowed. We're gonna miss them... most assuredly.

Martha in her native attire. PNG perfection!

Had the joy of giving Bibles in the trade language of PNG to wives of some of the students. There message to you who made it possible went something like this. "Tenk yu tru long kisim long buk bibul."

Note the smiles.
PNGers, most who have little, show appreciation life few we know. These ladies brought Martha the "bilim" bag she holds to honor her for the 30 blankets we/you provided their village. A fancy bilim, like this one, is worth at least a months wages. Plus they brought us five pineapples out of their gardens. Moving.

A very sacrificial and meaningful gift to Martha.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Loose interpretation...

It is Wednesday afternoon here. We are winding down. Mom's been reading a paper for a Senior who wants it to be correct English. They can express themselves in ways you're not sure you understand!

Our Pastoral Theology Class

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What a glorious day!

Today many of the ex-pat missionaries in the region gathered at Kudjib Nazarene Hospital, about 30 minutes from here... and amazingly, mostly good road...for their monthly ex-patriot pot-luck lunch and fellowship. They have an English lotu service afterward. I got to speak... a brief devotional type message. MAF people, New Tribes, CLTC faculty and others attend. What a haven in such a needy place. Choice saints all.

The service this morning defies telling in terms of the worship. Just wish all of you could have been with us. As I sat through it, the impact of sharing communion with those dear brothers and sisters, when such a chasm of culture and advantage exists, and the profound love they have for God and how freely they express it....left me humbled. We have experienced amazing, uncomplicated love in these folks. We are blessed.

Sharing the Lord's Table with PNG brothers on the other side of the world.
So moved by their quiet singing "O The Blood of Jesus."

































































Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fierce warriors!





We were treated to a four hour cultural thanksgiving out-door service, singing, dancing...  all the women missionaries joined in.

Martha's Virginia Reel!

Then a "mumu" feast was given in our honor by the Solomon Island group, complete with dancing and singing for us. They have the moves, the harmony.... smooth! A magnificent day.


Solomon Island group.... the "mumu" throwers!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life as we know it now...

Friday morning here. Just finished the second class, and am not in the classroom again until Wednesday. I don't teach on Monday, and Tuesday is a half day of prayer. But I have 28 papers to grade... 2000 words each. So appreciate the break so those papers get graded. We're crossing the PNG culture in my classes... not pulling any punches!

Martha finished her editing and reading.... but not the endless cooking! Tonight we are having four single staff ladies to dinner for BBQ chicken. Yesterday our cell group came to the house. Mom did her cinnamon rolls.... they devoured them. They call us "Momma" and "Poppa" now. Might bring a couple of them home with us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another blanket brigade...

From teaching to preaching; Martha reading the upcoming graduates theses to endless cooking; meeting with our cell group to helping a student form a Missions Policy for 400 Baptist churches; sitting on our porch watching the sun set and listening to the sounds of PNG songster birds to listening to the hearts of these committed to Jesus, loveable people; our time here is rich. Obvious connections exist between us and these folks. Martha adopted the singles girls, found most were sleeping in their clothes for lack of covers, so we did another blanket brigade. Their gratitude is almost embarrassing.  We are acutely aware we are blessed people. Thank you for praying. Rain has fallen. Our visas were extended so we will leave here Sept. 14 for Ukarumpa, the Wycliffe Center, for one month.


Delivering blankets to a burned out village. Michael is a newly
redeemed "raskol" (PNG thug) on fire for his Lord.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Martha's Mission!

We decided that one of the most needed ministries here is getting blankets to the families of Bung, the burned out village, where the people have lost everything. Then we found that many of the students here at CLTC sleep without blankets, and at this mountain elevation, it gets cold at night. Finding blankets to purchase and delivering them has become a joyful part of our work here, and our supporters are in it with us!

Blanketing with love!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

You can't manufacture this kind of connection!

Martha had five single girls at the house tonight to show them
how to bake a pineapple upside down cake.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Visa extensions came through!

Ever the student, assistant professor and CEO of Hospitality

Delivering blankets to a burned out village. Michael is a newly
redeemed "raskol" (PNG thug) on fire for his Lord.

Good News!

Our visa extensions came through! So on to Ukarumpa Sept 14th.
Off to Sigri bush village church today. Women sit on one side.,..on the dirt floor, men on slat narrow benches on the other. But fellowship in Jesus is felt and sensed though language is not understood. Remarkable!
Mickey preaching last Sunday
 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Into week three



Classes are intensifying as we learn to read the students and catch the unique dynamics of serving in PNG where cultural norms dictate…even in the church.
The Bung village violence we spoke of ended when Bung villagers rounded up a large sum of money, a small herd of pigs, and handed that over to the other village. A Bel-Kol ceremony concludes the affair, when all the elders and fighting men of both villages gather in a circle, take the chest of a freshly cooked-in-the-ground (mumu) pig, each one takes a bite as it is passed round the circle then they all open a canned coke (old times…broke sugar cane) and down it in one big guzzle. And it’s all over. So Bung can rest…at least for a while.
Martha the cook is busy. Lots of company and people in for meals. Three temporary Aussie workers Wed night, a house full of students Friday night for dinner. But we love those gatherings. 
Mick preaches at the campus church Sunday. Luke 15, the Prodigal son. They love stories. Going to preach it like a story.
A little rain has shown up. Lots of dark clouds in the late afternoon,  but nothing of relief. Some on campus a hauling water.  We’re blessed with a tank still half full.
Your prayers, notes on email, and support is our stay. Thank you all. Pray for rain!
Singing with the village church choir!
Students enjoying Martha's hospitality
Martha with Trumpet flowers