Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Great Mystery

Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen of angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory.

Truly, our faith is shrouded in mystery. The Christ who was revealed did not always possess a human body. The Christ whose body was nailed to the cross was raised by the Spirit who has no body! The angels were the first to witness his resurrection and announce to the world that he was risen indeed. They were the last to escort him out of this world with the words, Why are you standing here staring into heaven. Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go! The humiliated Christ, resurrected, glorified will one day return!

Now that is mysterious!

Would it stand to reason that the working out of that faith through believers might be a little -- mystical?

We are in the midst of one of the greatest awakenings in history. Around the world, people in unprecedented numbers, are turning to God through faith in the mystery of Christ. In Central America and Asia the Spirit of God is validating the gospel of Jesus and his messengers as in the days of Pentecost.

Even in the gospel hardened United States young people are sacrificing stable employment and creature comforts in order to get the gospel embedded into some of the most difficult people groups. There have been more martyrs in the last 50 years than in the rest of Christian history combined. Young adults are going to the forgotten inner cities, Australia, Japan, China, Mexico, Africa, Muslim countries, and some of the most dangerous and gospel starved places on the globe. These barely, post teen-aged missionaries, are passionately tackling some of the greatest problems humanity has faced: Poverty, Aids, Violent and Corrupt Political Systems, Hunger, and most important -- Lostness. With wisdom and courage beyond their years, they are bringing the name and work of Jesus to each of these dilemmas.

I wish you could get to know some of them -- maybe you have. Zeal and youthful idealism does not accurately describe their commitment. Their faith is fresh but not naive -- they can spot a poser a mile away. Actions, not talking, define their faith. Going along with convention is not their strong suit, so the way they dress, their taste in music, their reckless abandon, and their minimalist approach to life evokes the criticism and suspicion of congregations where tradition is more important than relevancy.

God's work in their "out of the box faith" is hard to explain -- a bit mysterious. When I read the following quote from, Blue Like Jazz it seemed to summarize them. It helped, encouraged, and inspired me. Maybe it will do the same for you . . .

I don’t think you can explain how Christian faith works . . . It is a mystery. And I love this about Christian spirituality. It cannot be explained, and yet it is beautiful and true. It is something you feel, and it comes from the soul . . . I was watching BET one night and they were interviewing a man about Jazz music. He said Jazz music was invented by the first generation out of slavery. I thought that was beautiful because, while it is music, it is very hard to put on paper, it is so much more a language of the soul. It is as if the soul is saying something, something about freedom. I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel. I think it is something very difficult to get on paper. But it is no less real, no less meaningful, no less beautiful.
The first generation out of slavery invented jazz music. It is a music birthed out of freedom. And that is the closest thing I know to Christian spirituality. A music birthed out of freedom. Everybody sings their song the way they feel it, everybody closes their eyes and lifts up their hands.

Could the mystery of this new generation be that they are simply experiencing what the Spirit of God promised -- emancipation?

On The Lighter Side

Most of you have never met Bailey. Bailey is a soft-coated Wheaton terrier. We got him when we lived in Massachusetts. He was a puppy then, and ten years has lapsed since. Bailey is hyper – so hyper that he has been banned from kennels in two states. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that he will bark 24/7 when placed in a pet motel. Each time we have retrieved him (my wife and kids make me) he is briskly handed off to us by an agitated employee. The shell shocked, wild eyed, and jittery keepers inform us that our “dog from hell” is no longer welcome. They tell us that he leads his canine inmates in a barking rebellion that cannot be crushed! Thankfully, we do receive one benefit from his temporary incarcerations -- Bailey is so hoarse and fatigued that we finally get some peace and quiet when we bring him home.

Believe me, we have tried everything to domesticate him. But although he is ill behaved—he is not stupid. Bailey graduated at the top of the class at obedience school—by feigning sanity until he graduated. After observation by our veterinarian he gave us doggie prosac (no lie) to give him—he eats triple doses like they are candy.

Well, today it’s payback time. I told you about the spaniel named Lou, right? Lou is the most persistent and energetic dog I have ever seen (ask Keith Cowhart). The prodigious energy of Bailey looks like slow motion compared to Lou. Do you know what I did? I locked Bailey out of the cabin and left him in the care of Lou! It’s a beautiful revenge! Even now, Bailey is running from window to window with this pitiful look that says, “Please let me in! This dog is crazy and running me ragged!”

I am unmoved by his pathetic pleas. Actually, I am moved. Inside me I am filled with a great sense that I am finally getting even.

Disruption and Transformation

I finished reading, Blue Like Jazz today. The author, Donald Miller, seems to be more evidence that God is calling out a number of writers who desire Him deeply, yet whose perspectives on the faith are not in step with convention. These scribes are not heretics, nor self-righteous, nor in contempt of the church -- as God’s Word describes it. But therein lies their beef. They see little or no correlation between what Christ intended his church to be, and what it has become as an institution. Other authors like Erwin McManus, John Eldredge, and Phillip Yancy in particular, share the same ability to clear away some of the debris and challenge the ho-hum existence of institutional Christianity without castigating it.

For a number of years my own spiritual journey has been a struggle against the tension I feel, that something is terribly wrong in much of Christ’s church. I haven’t given up on the church, and I don’t believe Jesus has either. But during my sojourn I have looked desperately for, but have found very few examples, of God working supernaturally through His people—through me.

Making such statements illicit the defense by many, that the status quo is all that should be expected. I was reminded of this just two days ago as I talked along these lines to a friend back in the northeast. Toward the end of our conversation he said, Bill you are an adrenalin junky. I confess, that he is not the first to sum up my perspectives with a similar phrase.

I don’t agree with his summary of me, if it implies that I must constantly witness the miraculous or pursue the adventurous in order to believe there is something to faith. Not true. But I must tell you I do believe that we should anticipate seeing God disrupting and transforming lives. In my understanding of conversion, and according to the testimony of Scripture, neither will be absent when God shows up.

I think all of us long to hear of someone in the present day who, like David, when asked, “Why are you going to face the giant?” simply responded, “Is there not a cause?” In an instant, thousands of David’s peers saw God disrupt his life and transform him from a shepherd boy to a giant slayer. Sadly, it seems the converse is the desire of Christianity today—we turn giant slayers into shepherd boys.

What do we do with the faith records of such people as David and others? Are they examples for us, or exceptions of us? Would you agree there seem to be few cases of people being disrupted and then transformed, broken and then healed, emptied and then filled, and uprooted and then transplanted?

How about you? What have you seen? Take a few minutes to do an inventory and see how long your list is. Go ahead. Write them down.

I Love The Nightlife

You don’t have to read these posts, but I have to write. During the day, I am constantly making mental notes of things I want to put down for posterity’s sake, or for clarity’s sake, by tapping away on this keyboard. Often, I am seized with an urge to put the thoughts of the moment out there for others to read. Perhaps I will hit on something that will help someone else, or my journaling will be a muse for another to put pen to paper.

It is late at night or very early morning, and I just finished reading a long section of Blue Like Jazz. Now I am sitting on the steps that lead off the front porch of a log cabin a friend lets us stay in. I couldn’t believe all the sounds when I opened the door to the porch. The air is filled with a chorus of natural music coming to me in stereo: calls of tree frogs, clicks of crickets, the occasional honk of a goose, and the popping of bass feeding on shad at the edges of the shore.

Just as I am drawn to the serenity of the darkness that surrounds me, moths are drawn to the light of my computer screen. There are a number of different species. Some of them have antennae longer than their bodies. Every few minutes I have to stop and shoo them away. Yes, I know, I could go barricade myself inside and write without their annoyance, but I would have to give up the night sounds that are so peaceful! The trade off isn’t worth it. I love the nightlife!

Out in front of me is a pond that the darkness obscures. A few hours ago the angle of the sun made it sparkle like a million diamonds, but the two of them ran off together, and now the only lights are those of a distant cottage, and a yellowed yard light far off to my left. Lou, the Springer spaniel, is pacing around below me, and rattling the leaves trying to get me to play fetch with her!

Sandy is fast asleep in the cabin still recovering from a kidney infection that has sapped her of all strength. I have never seen her sleep so much. She has been enduring constant pain and will return to her doctor for further tests. We have been trying to get our home ready for the market, and just put our home in the hands of a real estate agent. The house looks like a million bucks, but it will not sell for that much (I have never seen a million dollars, but I presume it would like the one dollar bills in my wallet—green and wrinkled—only a million of them). So in this case our house looks better than a million bucks—but it still won’t sell for a million! Sometimes life is so unfair!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My Allowance

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with the wisdom he gives. Colossians 3:14-16

You have probably heard of athletes "putting on their game faces." When a player does so he takes on a certain disposition -- a competitive disposition. Having said that, you probably understand what Paul means when he says "Clothe yourselves with love." He is talking about embracing a loving Person's disposition. In particular, he is talking about loving as Christ loved.

In order to do so, you must allow [let] some things that can happen, actually happen. The first is to reject the temporary peace that can come from favorable circumstances. Let me show you what I mean -- you fill in the blank: "I would have peace if only I had ________."

Do you see the dynamic? Whatever you filled in the blank with rules you. I'll give you a personal illustration from my own life. Sandy and I found ourselves saying, "We would be more at ease if only our house would sell." The sale of our house is the favorable circumstance we had set in order to have a disposition of peace. At best, our peace would be temporary. At worst, it would never come, because we would be basing our serenity on something we cannot control.

But for believers, Paul says that it is predetermined that Christ's love will bind us together when circumstances try to pull us apart. Christ says that even in the most pressing instances his peace can rule, because Jesus can overrule! That kind of peace is part of the package that comes with the gospel.

Our peace does not rely on our determination to simply think positively. No, Paul says we must allow [let] something else take place. What is it? Paul says that there is a richness and fullness about Christ that is substantial enough to fill in our blanks!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Practically -- Imperfect In Every Way

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault . . .

Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 1:21-22; 3:13

Christ's substitutionary death for our sin is so effective we will never spend a split second separated from God's care and presence. All the transgressions that once separated us from God were placed on Christ's physical body on the cross. The corpse of Jesus, along with our faults, were buried. Three days later Jesus arose from the dead -- fault-less. His was a new and resurrected life. The gospel says, that through faith, Christ's death and resurrection life is applied to us. We now live in the presence of God . . . without a single fault!

Yet we all have faults -- don't we. Still, nothing changes. In Christ we are positionally -- faultless in the presence of God. What do we do when we fail? We remember. Remember what? God, through a supernatural act, continues to forgive us.

We all suffer offense by others -- don't we. Still, nothing changes. Practically -- no one is faultless. What do we do when people fail us? We remember. Remember what? God, through a supernatural act, continually empowers us to forgive them.

Both are a must!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rumors

"I tell you the truth, when you were young you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, "Follow me." Peter asked Jesus, "What about him?"

Jesus replied, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me." So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn't die.
John 21:18-19; 22-23

Jesus reminded Peter of his carefree youth, a youth that Peter could revisit by way of memory. Then, Jesus starkly contrasted it with a cryptic prophesy of Peter's ominous future. Jesus did not tell Peter exactly how he would leave this life, but he did say that Peter would be helpless against the mode and timing of his own demise. However, Jesus assured Peter that his death would glorify God -- if he would follow him.

Peter's response is typical Petrine, "What about him [John]?" The big fisherman always asked the question least expected!

Personally -- I believe my next questions would have been very different than Peter's. Inquiries like, "How old?" "Will I die quickly . . . Slowly?" "Glorify? Will I die in a blaze of glory?" "What do you mean, 'Others will dress you?"' "Follow you. Follow you where?" "Can't I glorify God by eluding death?"

But to me, the response more fascinating than Peter's is Jesus', "What is that to you? As for you, follow me." Sounds just a tad bit insensitive. Wouldn't you say? But Jesus' answer is the key to a life that will remain joyful and not resentful, and bring glory to God. Your life and mine is not about what the other guy is doing or what purposes God has determined for his life.

Had Peter not gotten this part of his relationship with Jesus settled -- he would never have left a legacy that glorified God. Instead, he would have lived out his remaining days obsessed with the what and why of God's dealings with John. Thankfully, Peter did get comfortable in the skin and adventure God put him in. The Apostle became a rock, because he was rock solid on the kind and providential treatment of the One who loved him!

The passage quoted ends by fortifying everything we have just mused. Some within the community of believers became so focused on the life of John -- that they missed the Adventure God had for them.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Common Ground

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share it blessings. I Corinthians 9:22-23

Paul possessed an incredibly strong faith in Christ, yet he was not bullet proof. Rather than doing everything he could to disguise the chinks in his armor -- he saw their exposure as opportunities to find common ground.

Don't be a condescending poser, but instead, recognize that your transparency may lead to opportunity. He insists that some of the wounded who need Christ can be led to Him by the humble. Do everything you can to spread the Good News, says Paul. And he believed that he could find common ground with just about everyone!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Meagan Is Home

Miss Meagan is back from Kenya. She told me tales from her trip to the Dark Continent -- from Atlanta to Columbus! She also has 471 pictures she is editing. Her group led a VBS for 600 African children -- Her group was ages 3-5.

She will never be the same -- Praise God!

We compared her trip to Kenya and mine to China. We both agreed, exposure to those kind of needs leaves you totally unsatisfied with nominal Christianity. God is leading Meg through the transformation process where by He convinces her that He will truly do that which is above and beyond all she could ask of think.

I will be back with more . . .

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Recovering!

Sandy has finally reentered the human race! Yesterday, her body began to respond to the new antibiotics, and her energy is slowly returning. She was able to attend two weddings with me. Both of us thank God for healing and all of you for praying.

I performed one of the weddings at 6 yesterday evening -- Brad Kinney and Cathryn (she goes by Cat) McNeil tied the knot! They are an incredibly committed young couple who are beginning their marriage with a slate open to whatever God would have them do. Wherever God sends them, I know they will make an impact.

This afternoon we attended a second marriage -- Jenna Duncan and Shane Poole said their vows under a beautiful bluebird sky! It has been a privilege to see how they are growing in their walk with God. They, too, will have many opportunities to reach out to others through their testimonies.

I attended CrossPointe Church again this morning -- I wrote about this church in another post. The message was dead on, and many people responded to the Spirit's prompting. The lead pastor of this new church, Brad Evangelista, asked me to take a few moments to tell the congregation about our upcoming move to Bozeman, Montana. I am grateful for his support and the privilege to speak.

After the message, a man whom I had never met came up to me in the foyer and asked if he could talk to me. We moved down the hallway for some privacy, and he explained the burden God had given him for a friend who now lives in Bozeman. I assured him that I would be praying for his friend and contact him as soon as I got to Montana. God has called my new friend to be an intercessor, and I promised I would be praying for him, too.

Every week, God connects me with someone in the Bozeman area who needs to find a church community or to hear the gospel! We can't wait to get there!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Instead

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32

There is a group of men I pray with as frequently as possible. All of us share one desire in common -- we really want to live fully alive in Christ. We believe Jesus meant what he said when he announced. . .

The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and the time of the LORD'S favor has come. Luke 4:18-19

Released from captivity . . . blind spots removed . . . oppressors vanquished . . . enjoying the LORD'S favor . . . Now!

If you remember, Christ's disciples once asked him to teach them how to pray. One of the keys in the relationship I share with these men is learning to let Jesus teach us how to pray for one another.

Last Thursday afternoon my friends gathered to pray over me before I spoke at the SaultoPaul chapel. Our prayer time began with silence. They listened for the Spirit to instruct them how to pray -- refusing to rush into God's presence reciting comfortable phrases they have heard over and over again.

As the guys began to pray, one of the words God's Spirit brought to mind was bitterness. Several prayed that I would be released from any and all bitterness. After they prayed they encouraged me to ask for God's release from any bitterness, so I prayed that God would search my heart, and reveal to me any such subtle root that could defile me or others. As best I could tell my heart was free.

In my reading since that night, God brought a phrase to my attention. In Donald Miller's book, Blue like Jazz, the author had this to say about the subtlety of bitterness, I want my spirituality to rid me of hate, not give me reason for it.

The verse at the beginning of this post records the apostle Paul exhorting Believers in Ephesus the very same way. The apostle knew that well meaning Christ followers could use a bogus spirituality as an excuse to harbor bitterness and other kinds of evil. Paul's admonition, along with that of my friends, gives simple yet profound instruction to beware of this subtle form of sin.

A bitter response to transgressions against us is never a spiritual one, and thankfully, we have a choice. We can return kindness for evil, exchange a hard heart for one that is tender, and extend forgiveness just as God through Christ has forgiven us . . . truly Good News!


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Results -- CT Scan

Sandy's CT scan did not reveal anything ominous. However, she is still very sick, and we are waiting for more test results. The first dose of antibiotics did nothing -- the infection actually worsened. We still do not know where the infection originated.

The new tests should allow the doctors to determine what kind of antibiotic will kill the infection. Sandy has been in bed all day with a fever that comes and goes. We are very grateful that Sandy's employment (Columbus High) will provide health coverage through September.

We are seeing God do some amazing things -- He always has all the bases covered!

Thank you for all your prayers,

Bill and Sandy

The Powerful And The Violent

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and powerful men lay hold of it. Matthew 11:12 (NIV)

And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been advancing, and violent people are attacking it. Matthew 11:12 (NLT)

Bible Scholars consider this Scripture to be one of the truly difficult to interpret. However, either translation is supported by other biblical texts. One thing that remains the same in both renderings is -- the Kingdom of Heaven is advancing. Make no mistake about it, Jesus said, the gates of hell would not be able to stand against His kingdom's advance (Matthew 16:18).

Reading the same verse from two different translations brings clarity in the midst of spiritual sword rattling and warfare. Look back at the verses. They represent two different responses to the kingdom's progress.

First, as the church advances, powerful men are getting on board, but their power comes when they join the advance. We know this is true, because Jesus defined the source and results of such people's power, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . . (Acts 1:8). Christ's church (made up of redeemed people) will powerfully advance His Kingdom, and the Evil one will literally fight like "hell" to resist its advance!

Now look at the second rendering. Christ's church is battling its way into enemy territory, and it comes under attack by violent men. Taking hostile territory is difficult. Such scenarios are defining moments. The cost is weighed, and a decision is made to retreat or advance.

Also, God's people must rely on the Spirit's power to hold ground that was taken and continue to advance. Knowing this helps us understand why some churches slide backwards. Truth is, if there were no movement backward, there would be no movement at all!

Keep in mind that as Christ's kingdom advances it exposes the kind of people we are -- revealing whether we are Powerful or Violent. Remember, the Powerful are not violent -- they are the Spirit led. The Violent are not powerful -- they are Spirit-less.

The Church that is Christ's will advance, and the gates of hell will not be able to thwart it. Right now, locate yourself spiritually. Are you Powerful -- Or Violent?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

CT Scan

My bride has been sick for 10 days. Finally, last Friday she went to see her doctor, and she prescribed antibiotics. Sandy continued to feel ill -- ill enough that she was not able to teach on Monday. She went back to school today, and shortly after lunch she called to tell me she left school and drove to the Acute Care clinic. I immediately left Pine Mountain and headed for the clinic. She was given more x-rays and her blood was drawn for tests.

Tomorrow she is scheduled to have a CT scan; the test will be interpreted within 2 hours. Hopefully, her doctor will be able to tell her what's going on by late morning -- early afternoon. We do not expect the CT to reveal anything ominous. Sandy and I know that you will be praying and gratefully appreciate all of you.

Monday, May 14, 2007

This Week

Miss Meagan is in Kenya! Sandy will be done teaching this Friday! I will be speaking at the Scarborough Farm chapel on Thursday evening at 6:30. If you would like to join me and another 70-100 people, take 185 North and get off exit 34. Turn right off the exit and, take your first right. The farm is about a mile on the left. Look for the stone columns and follow the driveway up to the log cabin. Someone will be there to help you park. From there, you will take a scenic walk through the woods, across a stone bridge, and fields of beautiful wild flowers.

You really are welcome!

The chapel is called SaultoPaul. The new life in Christ is a life of transformation. Hence, the name SaultoPaul. Parts of the little church in the woods date back to the 1800's. The windows, pulpit, pews and other bits and sections were shipped to Pine Mountain from Nova Scotia. Once a month we gather to worship through singing, praying, preaching, handshaking and hugging. Come dressed as casually as you please (the clothes police will be off duty). Hang around after the gathering and grab something light to eat.

also . . .

Jesus said,

Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword . . . your enemies will be right in your own household! Matthew 10:34,36

What is Jesus talking about? On Thursday night we will find out!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

In Hand

Meagan called me from Macon. She was crying -- my heart hit the floor. "What happened sweetheart? Are you O.K.?"

"Yes, I am fine." She said. "I am standing here with my passport in my hand, and I just can't stop crying."

Miss Meagan will leave for Africa tomorrow!

A Pentecostal Fit!

I said to the LORD, "You are my Master! All the good things I have are from you . . . No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth shouts his praises! Psalm 16:2,9

I burst into Meg's room with the good news and tackled her on her bed! We have been hoopin', hollerin', cryin' and dancin'! We are thankful, praising, and joyful heirs of God's blessing!

Sandy and Meg are on their way to Macon. The PASSPORT will soon be in my sweet baby's hands! She and her mom flew out the door faster than you could say,

TheFirstNazaMethodBapticostalSeventhdayOrganizedLuthertarian . . . NondenominationchurchofourlLadyoftheMind!

Thanks to all of you who prayed for us! Thank you Jesus! This will be a spiritual marker in our daughter's life. She clearly sees how God intervened and blessed us with His favor (grace)! I am speechless!

What an Adventure,

Bill

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Passport

To make a long Shorey short--we have a FedEx tracking number for Meg's passport. To this point though, it is not showing up on the tracking system. This is one for the ages!

Please pray specifically . . .

That we can intercept the package. It is being sent to Georgia College and the college post office is closed. If we can contact the carrier, we may be able to meet him in Milledgeville or wherever.

Adventures are an Adventure,

Bill

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Pathway

I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control. Psalm 32:8-9

In Maine, I can guide you down a 13 mile stretch of the Penobscot river from Howland to Greenbush. You could float that piece without me -- just follow the current. But it might turn into a less enjoyable trip. More than likely you would go down a wrong part of the river and have to paddle back against the current to get into the right flow. Or, you might get sideways in the current and flip the kayak. Take my word for it -- neither of these experiences is enjoyable when not done on purpose!

I know the best way down the river. I know the watery path from north to south so well, I could guide you down the river and advise you where to go and where not to go.

If, as your guide, I were to ask you, "Would you prefer a wild ride, or would you prefer a slow, meandering trip?" Some of you would say, "I want a wild ride down the river!" So, I would take you through the swirling white water of Three Mile Rips and other tricky places. Others would respond, "I prefer a safer ride." So, I would guide you around the most turbulent waters.

I think that is what the Psalmist is saying. God has placed in each of us a "bent" toward life. Some yearn for a life that challenges the spiritual white waters. Still others are wired for a more pedestrian journey. Either way, God says, "Let me guide you. I know the best pathway. I will advise you, and I will watch over you."

So enjoy the Adventure -- get into the flow of the desires God placed in your heart. Learn to let the Spirit of God guide you. Any other life is the discomfort of a bit and bridle!

Delayed

We were told that Meg's passport was expedited overnight -- it was not. Our daughter was shattered, but she has confirmed her trust in God over-and-over again. I have watched my daughter pray without ceasing.

Everything we can do has been done. People in "high" places are doing all they can. Please pray that we hear something before 1 p.m.. If the passport is recovered and in her hands, she can still leave on Sunday.

Always an Adventure,

Bill

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Heart Break

At this moment Meg is in her room -- on her knees -- crying out to God. Her passport has not been expedited -- it hasn't even been located among the thousands of others in Charlotte.

I talked with Chambliss' office just a few minutes ago. The man I talked to, Mike, is trying to find another option. We are up against a wall. If the passport can't be found today, Meg will miss this trip. I know how she has fasted, prayed, and worked toward this trip. I have cried with her.

Meagan is truly one of the most committed young people I have ever known. She has been on fire for God. She poses a threat to the Darkness, and the Evil one knows it. She will bounce back, but at the moment, she is mourning the death of a dream.

This one hurts.

Adventure involves the risk of pain,

Bill

The Spirit Prince

And the man said to me, "O Daniel, greatly loved of God, listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you." When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling with fear. Then he said, "Don't be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty one days the spirit prince . . . blocked my way." Daniel 10:11-13

If Meg's Passport gets here in time she will be boarding a Northwest airliner and leaving for Africa at 5 p.m. The last 24 hours have been a scramble -- the passport got held up in Charlotte. We have prayed diligently, and phoned everybody we thought might be able to help. Finally, Saxby Chambliss' office intervened, tracked it down, and had it expedited to our home. Please wrestle with us against the spirit prince . If the passport does not arrive here in time (1 p.m. at the latest), Meg will have to pay a substantial fee to fly out tomorrow -- alone.

As dawn broke, Sandy, Meg, and I were praying against the Darkness. Meg is learning about spiritual warfare. Her prayers were fierce, and she passionately invoked Christ's power and strength against contrary forces. We believe that a spiritual wrestling match is taking place in the unseen world.

Sandy and I can see that God is shaping a very special young woman for His purposes. We believe, just as the prophet learned, that Satan does works to delay God's purposes. He may even succeed, but only for a while.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Special Event!

Tonight I resume the discipleship study with my Chinese students. We couldn't meet last week, because we all had schedule conflicts. This evening will be special -- Miss Meagan will be with me! She loves the students. Also, Meg is leaving for a mission trip to Kenya on Wednesday. This will give us some great daddy and daughter time. Pray -- Meg has had a bit of a problem getting her renewed Passport back -- she reapplied in February! We have tracked it down, and it is going to be FedExed to us by tomorrow or Wednesday. Her flight leaves from Atlanta at 5 p.m. on Wednesday!

Yikes!

Back to the study. The students asked if I would teach them about the different names for God and Christ, so tonight I am beginning with The Advocate, a name given to Christ in 1 John 2:1. Teaching Meg and the students is like pouring water on a sponge -- they just soak it in.

Everything is clicking along -- God be praised!

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Crosspointe

This morning Sandy and I attended Crosspointe Church in Fortson, GA. Evangel Temple sponsored the Crosspointe start with 75 people. Crosspointe now has 150 families! They don't even have their own building and are renting a school for their services.

Many young families are being drawn to Crosspointe. Some would classify the Worship as contemporary. I believe a better word would be relevant -- they are reaching their generation for Christ. I recognized several of the families. In fact, all of them let me know how happy they were that I would be planting a church. "That's you, Pastor!" One young couple said.

An array of emotions ebbed and flowed as I opened my heart to the atmosphere the Holy Spirit was orchestrating. The service was full of life and celebration -- Jesus was at center stage. The message was not a wishy washy therapy session -- it was faithful to the Word. A movie clip was used to reinforce the simple theme of the message, How to begin well and end well. The Scripture text was 2 Chronicles 14 and 15 -- the character we studied was king Asa. Asa started well but ended poorly -- something we need not do.

My heart raced as I projected forward a few months. Soon, Sandy and I will be in Montana. Our present step is the greatest step of faith we have ever taken. For us, ending well means going to Bozeman to start a church. We are so grateful for the opportunity to see what the Lord is doing through Crosspointe Church. It seemed that God gave us a glimpse of what He has in mind for the Great Northwest!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Back From Music City

I returned from Nashville last night. The drive to and from Music City was long, but I enjoyed it. On the way there I thought about what I was going to say -- on the way back I thought about what I had said. I was full of anticipation on the way there -- filled with praise on the way back!

Steve Fowler, Daniel Lambert, and I were invited to Nashville by Brentwood Baptist Church, who has partnered with Montana to help plant churches there. We also made a two hour drive to Jackson, Tennessee and met with a second group of pastors. To sum it up -- ALL the meetings went very well.

The receptivity of these churches to our need for mission teams and financial partners is a tremendous encouragement. There was an immediate response to sending mission teams to Bozeman -- a steady flow of spiritual adventurers will begin arriving this September. Next summer Compass Church will host sports camps and outreach ministries of different kinds. We will also have a part in bringing a travel team of athletes from Belmont University to three Indian reservations -- they will be playing exhibition games and holding sports camps.

A missions construction team from Morningside is on its way to Belknap, Montana. The team will build out a cafeteria for summer ministry to the Indian children. In July, another team from Morningside is going to the same area to provide VBS programs and take part in a Native American pow-wow.

Wow!

Also . . .

Mom is exceeding all expectations in her recovery! Her biggest headache this week was a non-medical inconvenience -- their well pump quit. She and my dad will be staying with my sister, Barb, until it's fixed. Our son Josh and a friend from Massachusetts are on their way to Maine to see my folks and spend a couple of days at the cabin.

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Hello!

Hello Mom,

I know that you are back to reading my blog -- now that you are home and snug as a bug in a rug. I am writing from Nashville. When I woke up this morning I prayed for your continued recovery. Just think, when the doctor talked to you about your pending surgery he said you would be in the hospital for at least two weeks -- that was the best case scenario! Today would have been two weeks -- and you have been home for three days!

Last night we met with the pastor from First Baptist. Today is full. I am leaving for Jackson MS at 7 a.m. (two hour drive) to meet with a group of pastors interested in the new church start in Bozeman. This afternoon I will be returning to the Music City to meet with the mission team from Brentwood Baptist. Tomorrow, I meet with another group of pastors, then head back to Columbus.

I hope you have a great day. I will be calling you later. Say hi to papa (we did pretty well as bachelors in your absence).

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Masterpiece -- Master Plan (pt.2)

It took Michelangelo four years to render the beautiful painting that covers the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Ironically, the only reason he was commissioned to do so was because the current art work was damaged by a large crack. The original artist thought restoration would be a hopeless waste of time.

Michelangelo chose to create a series of pictures that tell part of the biblical story. He begins with the dramatic dawn of all creation, and then on to the creation of Adam and Eve. The couple of Eden are first shown in their innocence -- nude. The mood and art swiftly change as the fall of all mankind is depicted. The cost for the first man and wife's transgression is banishment from Paradise at the point of a sword.

Noah is the next central character -- his story is a reversal of Adam and Eve's. First, the sinful world is destroyed by the flood. Then, Noah and his family are depicted -- safely emerging from the Ark into a purified world.

Michelangelo's masterpiece points us to God's master plan. For now, neither your, if you are reading this, nor my picture is completed. We are, as they say, works in progress. Sometimes our lives are great pictures of sweet innocence -- at other times they are dark pictures of devilish rebellion. Even as believers there will be moments when we do not like the picture our lives reveal.

Masterpieces are not simply and quickly created like color-by-number pictures. No, we are God's masterpiece: crafted over time, within a master plan, by the Master himself. One day our pictures will be completed; our lives will tell the whole story of who we really are, and what Christ provided for us. Everything will be masterfully worked together for good -- we will emerge from the Ark into a purified world.

In the meantime, our Creator will never see our need for constant restoration as hopeless or a waste of His time.