Friday, June 29, 2007

From: Landon's Mom

Dear Family and Friends,

As I write this, Landon is undergoing her surgery for the organ donation. It has been a long couple of days. Ed decided to stay in Great Falls with his parents and await her surgery. I came back to Livingston with my parents and Edison this morning to start making arrangements. I feel like I'm just going through the motions - that this really can't be happening - so thank you so much for the calls, emails, etc. that is helping us to get through all this.

We have been told that the heart is going to a 14 year old girl in Indiana, lungs to someone in Ohio, one kidney Tennessee and the other to Minnesota, intestines to a child in Pittsburg, liver to a child in Washington, and the spleen to someone in Oregon. Other items such as skin grafts, tissue, muscles they have not told us yet, but we should receive greater details after it all takes place. Though I know I will be grieving for my baby for a long time; it helps us greatly to know that someone is benefiting from all of this and the fact that we know that Landon is in a better place with a whole new/healed body.

So, to get on to the arrangements...

We will be having a funeral in Livingston on Monday at 9:00 am at the Livingston Christian Center. We've been told they don't have visitations prior to the funeral here (a southern thing I suppose), but will have a reception afterwards to talk, eat, etc.

After that we will be flying to KY, and have visitation from 4-8 pm on Thursday at Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church and then the funeral will be there Friday at 1:00 pm.

We have requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to either Samaritan's Purse (Landon's favorite charity organization), Gideon's International, or our church plant (Cornerstone Community Fellowship, PO Box 1987, Livingston, MT 59047).

Landon has always felt it was horrible that people wore black to a christian funeral - she could understand it if they weren't christians - but always felt christians should be upbeat when a fellow christian went to heaven. So to honor her, if you plan on attending either of the above, feel free to wear something bright, pastel, or whatever. We want to make her funeral a true celebration of her life....though I'm sure I'll be crying buckets myself....or maybe my tear ducts will be all dried out by then.

Edison, like the rest of us, is taking this pretty hard. He's cried, talked about her a lot, and tonight even wrote a poem for her. But he's also hugged me a lot and helped me to get through the day. Like the rest of us, he can be laughing one minute and crying the next.

I know this roller coaster called grief will be a life long process for all of us....thanks so much for the prayers and support you have given us. It has made such a difference and we all appreciate it so much.

Karen

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Can't Do It

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit . . . But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:7

I could no more stop dreaming than I could make them all come true. David Wilcox (as quoted in the book, The Allure of Hope, by Jan Meyers)

Last Sunday as Sandy and I returned home from visiting friends in Auburn, she began reading aloud to me from a book she had just been given The Allure of Hope, by Jan Meyers. The quote above has refused to leave or remain silent in my thoughts. Even the gist of a conversation with a couple of friends over breakfast this morning could have been summed by the quote, though it was never brought up.

I simply cannot stop dreaming about the possibility of being involved in something that is absolutely God sized. Believe me, I try to put the mental brakes on, question my sanity, spirituality, and sense of reality, but it doesn't work. I try to replace dreams that make God -- God, with reasonable, attainable, and explainable pursuits. Goals I, or a group of people, know we could achieve. It doesn't work. I just can't stop dreaming. And its always about a demonstration of God's power and desires.

But I also cannot make anything God sized happen. Neither can you. Why not? The most obvious explanation being, "You, nor I, are God." No, none of us are God, but if you belong to God, and you believe the Scripture that is also quoted at the top of this post, you have to believe that God's Spirit in you will put big dreams in your heart. Dreams that will result in God's glory inexplicably streaming out of our lives.

Yes, Yes, I know. Not all dreams will come true, because some dreams are self-aggrandizing. So let me make a point. You should have a dream: that is God-given, that cannot be suppressed, and that you cannot make happen.

And you do -- It's that dissatisfaction with the way life is that will not go away.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vaporized

Sandy had to be at the Medical Center at 5:45 a.m. Butch and Georgie, who both work there, met us and gave Sandy the care and attention of a VIP. Butch was the first Deacon Chairman I had at MBC and is a good friend. He married way up when he landed Georgie. She is one of the most kind and thoughtful people we have ever met. Neither of them is ashamed of the faith and took the time to pray over my bride.

By 8 a.m. I was in the waiting room, and Sandy was in the cutting room. There were no surprises, and the surgery went very well. Several of our closest friends came by the hospital to see how things were going. Soon I got the news that Sandy was in the recovery room where she slept for a couple of hours. By the time she was discharged -- and we stopped to fill a prescription -- I only had a little more than an hour to change clothes and gears before Ed Helton and I were to conduct Kent's funeral at MBC.

This evening, Richard and Shannon brought our supper to us. I was starved, and it was good (not that it wouldn't have been good if I wasn't starved). Our dog, the resident con artist, who I believe is demon possessed, behaved fairly well while our guests were here. He spread the love around between Richard, Shannon, and their daughter Lucy. Richard and Shannon and Lucy. Richard and Shannon and Lucy. You get the picture.

This day has vaporized -- gone in a flash. Soon the sun will set, and a nearly full moon will cast its lesser light throughout the night. Both my brain and body are sluggish from the events of the last 48 hours. Sandy is in bed, and I am about to go out on the back patio and veg out.


Also . . .

We had a couple return to look at our house for a second time. Maybe . . .


Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Updates

Dear Family and Friends,

I wanted to share with you all that our dear Landon officially went to be with her Lord at 8:00 am MT.

After watching a Hallmark movie this winter, Landon had told me that if she were to die, she wanted me to be sure and have her organs donated. So we are hanging around the hospital today to make sure that gets taken care of. They say that they will probably be able to use 9 of her organs.

We plan on having a service in Livingston and then bringing her on to KY after that for a service and burial.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Karen and Ed


Also,

Sandy's surgery went off without a hitch. The gallbladder is gone! We will leave the Medical Center in a little while, and get Sandy home and tucked into her own bed. Thanks for all your prayers.

Bill and Sandy

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Landon

I will continue to keep you informed regarding Landon's condition. As you can see, the prognosis is grim. Please lift up the Meece family.

Bill


Dear Family and Friends,

The doctors did an eeg today and said she is brain dead. Needless to say we are grief stricken. We need a true miracle at this point. We also need wisdom as to whether to pursue another facility for a second opinion - and don't know if they would accept her anyway.

Her breathing has slowed way down, as well as her blood pressure.

Please keep us in your prayers; we need them now more than ever.

Karen

Updates on Landon and Sandy

I received this update on Landon--

Bill and Sandy,

It is so good to hear the news about the first step in Sandy's healing, the surgery. Our prayers continue.

Karen continues to praise God for all the healing of Landon, present and future. Landon is beginning to gain back some of the 13 pds. she has lost in the past 2 weeks and she is a tiny thing to begin with. Landon's body temperature continues to fluctuate, part of brain injury is the inability to regulate temperature, so we continue to pray for the complete healing of her brain and that she will wake up soon.

Isaiah 25:4 came to mind this morning again.......God is our shelter from the storm. It feels as though this rumbling storm in MT has been brewing for years, this lightening strike against Landon the beginning of its brutal force. The gathering hurricane force winds have drawn us into the vortex, which is MT, instead of driving us away. All of us being pulled to MT are feeling its effects. And just as the storm has the power to change the landscape, God's power will change the spirtual landscape in us as well as those He will reach in MT. He is our shelter from the storm as we make our way West.

Sherry

Also . . .

The HIDA scan revealed that Sandy's gallbladder is functioning at less than 5% (no wonder she has been so sick). It will be removed tomorrow morning at the Medical Center. She should be home by early afternoon, and if all goes well we will begin the trek to Maine on Saturday(her desires--not mine).

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for her. We are grateful that God kept us here until her medical needs were resolved. Isn't God great?!

Please keep Landon and the Callaway family in your prayers. Both families have been hit really hard. Ken has responded with tremendous strength to help his family through this tragedy. It is obvious he is leaning on the Lord.

Bill and Sandy

Monday, June 25, 2007

Surgery

This evening we learned that Sandy's HIDA scan revealed that her gallbladder, though there were no gallstones, is not functioning properly. We have an appointment with her doctor tomorrow to schedule surgery ASAP. Thank you for praying for us. What a blessing to know that my bride will be free from the constant abdominal pains of the last 7 weeks.

Many of you know that Kent Callaway died sometime during the night or early morning. He was 25 years old. I met and prayed with Ken and Sherri shortly after Ken found him this morning. Please pray for them as they struggle through this heart breaking tragedy. I can't imagine the depth of pain they are feeling. Pray that "The God of All Comfort" will be evident to them and protect their fragile hearts.

Ed Helton, who was pastor of Morningside for several years, and I will be conducting Kent's service at 4 p.m. Wednesday, at Morningside Baptist Church. Kent made a profession of faith at a Men's Ministry event about a year ago. Praise God.


Also,

Sandy and I had a great time at our Bible study with the Chinese students tonight. We have been studying the different names for Christ. Tonight we studied John 10 -- Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The Q&A time was incredible. In one month they will be back in China. Pray that they will be salt and light in their homeland.

The students were in New York last week. Listen to this. . . Linda tried to make a call to China and dialed 911 -- she got to meet a real live policeman! They also tried to put there garbage (banana peelings) in a postal box (thought it was a trash can, and wondered why the opening was so small)! A kind New Yorker (yes, there is such a thing) showed them where the real trash cans were.

Godspeed,

Bill and Sandy

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Friends,

Here is an update on Landon Meece. I know we are all grateful that Landon's mom and dad got some much needed rest. Most of you have been there -- it's a tough place.

Did you notice that Landon and mom and dad's needs are directly opposite one another? Landon needs to awaken, and her parents need to sleep.

God's relationship is as personal as our needs.


Bill


Dear Family and Friends,

We had a good night last night....I got almost 8 hours of sleep! Ed, Edison, and I went on a prayer walk this morning - it was short, but sweet. Grandparents are away sleeping; it is a nice quiet day.

One of the big concerns today is Landon's lungs - they seem to be getting "junk" in them that need to be suctioned out quite often. They say it would help a lot if she could start coughing to move this stuff around, and make it easier to suction. So pray for her to start coughing! Sounds like a weird prayer request - I've never wanted my children to have a cough, but now we need her to.

As always keep praying for her brain and that she will wake soon. Thanks,

Karen

Golden Acres

This morning we will cross the Chattahoochee River into Phenix City, Alabama. We have never been to Golden Acres Baptist Church, but today that will change. A few years ago Golden Acres Church realized that God is still putting new songs in the hearts of today's believers, so, each service blends the beautiful old stanzas of yesteryear with the contemporary praises of this generation's believers -- transition has taken place with hardly a hitch. The Congregation at GABC has exploded with growth since it cast its gaze outward and forward, rather than inward and backward. By looking outward and forward, the church decided to reach out to the generation that surrounds them. Hundreds have joined the church and come to Christ. Multiple services are required on Sunday to minister to everyone, and a Saturday night service was also added. That's to be expected when personal agendas and preferences are relinquished, and the Great Commission of our personal Savior is embraced.

Little emphasis is put on how you dress (same approach as Jesus and the early church). Pastor Ray is a fiery,forthright preacher who doesn't compromise the unchangeable truths of God's Word. He is a personable young leader with a burning heart (Once again, the same approach as Jesus and the early church).

Sandy and I will worship with some of the first friends we made in Columbus. After the service we are going to visit a couple that recently moved to Auburn, Alabama. Our newly relocated friends are a living example of the grace of God at work -- such as we have rarely seen. The journey we have shared together has melded our hearts into one.

Tomorrow Sandy meets with a specialist. It is quite likely she will be having gallbladder surgery in the very near future. Riding the roller coaster of wanting to get up to Maine and see our family, and getting our house sold, so that we can move to Montana is difficult. At times it seems we will never break free from this transition period, and move on to the purposes for which we believe God has called us.

We know that God is keeping us here for the meantime. Our question is not "Why." Instead, we are asking "What." What adventure would you have us join you in, Lord?
Sandy and I hope all of you have a great day in the presence of God and other believers. Lift Him up!

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Civilized And The Barbaric

The civilized build shelters and invite God to stay with them; barbarians move with God wherever He chooses to go. The civilized Christian has a routine; the barbarian disciple has a mission. The civilized believer knows the letter of the law; the barbarian disciple lives by the spirit of the law. The religiously civilized love tradition; the barbarian spirit loves challenges. The civilized are satisfied with ritual; barbarians live and thrive in the mystical. For the civilized disciple, religion provides stability and certainty; for the barbarian, a life in God is one of risk and mystery.

And maybe a little insanity. There's no way to escape that barbarians can appear out of their minds. No reasonable person would ever fully follow God everywhere He calls. God is simply unreasonable.

No matter how we try to spin the story, the Bible is filled with tribes of irrational people. . .
The Barbarian Way, by Erwin McManus

Sandy and I arrived home around 11 last night to a house full of our son Josh's friends; they are all twenty-somethings. I changed out of my "Big Eddy Club" acceptable attire into my "real world" jeans, lay down on the cool, ceramic tile floor of our kitchen, and began to talk with several of these intelligent and conversant young adults. Everyone should be blessed with such a privilege -- the conversation was inspiring. Their passionate hearts love God. If you listen to what they are saying, you will find that they are not caught up in the trivial pursuits of the modern day church: comfort, wealth, and prestige.

I think some questions need to be asked, "Are they the reviving breath of God's Spirit during this Laodicean Church Age? Is the fact that they are clearly either hot or cold a blessing not a curse? Wasn't it Jesus who said that lukewarmness made him want to vomit(Revelation 3:15)? Are their extremes a sign of God's activity rather than the falling away of a generation?

In the last 8-10 years I have been greatly encouraged with what I see in the hearts of the younger generation -- the twenty-to-thirty somethings. A host of many others believe a revolution is definitely under way. Listen once again to McManus,

Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion He started. So don't ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name. If He is willing to turn Judaism upside down, don't think for a moment our institutions are safe from a divine revolt. I am convinced that even now there are multitudes of followers of Jesus Christ who are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God . . . I am convinced that there is an uprising in the works and that no one less than God is behind it. Anyone who can picture Jesus as the great Advocate of tradition is doing some serious doctoring of biblical history. Jesus was anything but the poster child for the status quo.


The young adults I talked with have a sense of God calling them to a radical, out of the box adventure. Callings so unconventional that as we talked and they laid out their dreams, they would finish and then say, "But I know that's kind of ridiculous. Isn't it?"

No. Nothing I heard was "ridiculous." Well, actually, all of it was ridiculous, risky, dreamy, and godly! I just had to pass on the good news to my friends. The future of Christ's Church is looking bright . . . and barbaric!

Ed And Karen Meece

I will keep you updated on Landon. This morning brings some encouraging news, and glory to God!

Bill



Dear Friends and Family,

For the last two days Landon has had steady and improving vital signs-good blood
pressure, heart rate and temperature. Most encouraging - this morning they were able to
change the ventilator settings so that Landon is breathing on her own every time, the
machine just assists with deeper breaths to clean out her co2. The doctors now believe
the worst of the brain swelling and bacteria are gone or going. They kept saying that
would not happen and either her heart would stop or her kidneys would fail and different
systems would begin shutting down. THEY WERE WRONG. The doctor has also restarted the nasal feeding line they shut down two days ago and said that she now believes ALL the organs (except the brain) are out of danger. They are also now talking more positively about next steps over the next week or so-more long term-switching to a stomach feeding tube and
weaning off the mouth ventilator to a trach line that would only be used to keep her
breathing line clean and for emergencies. This would free her mouth and get rid of that
irritation. She even forsaw a move to a normal room and going through therapy.

They do not believe that she is stable enough to be moved, but have been in contact with specialists from Cincinnati's Children's Hospital. We have excellent nurses, so have been very satisfied with the care.

The big issue remains the higher brain function. There still hasn't been any improvement
but the future appears now to give her time to heal, or be healed, which is always possible. Sometimes the miracles we ask for don't look exactly like we envision, but is indeniable that God has willed thus far for her to defy man's wisdom. We give Him the glory and ask for your continued prayers for her, us and the doctors.

Thank you again for all your prayers.

Karen and Ed

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Spaghetti Club And Girls In Bikini's

You gotta learn to laugh . . .

On Wednesday there was a message on our phone when we got home, "Sandy, Brent and I would like to take you and Bill out for dinner. We have 7 p.m. reservations at The Spaghetti Club." With a chuckle the message continued, "Tell Bill he will have to wear a coat and tie. It's Brent's fault. I know Bill has sworn off suits!"

After the message finished I asked Sandy if she had ever heard of The Spaghetti Club, a pasta joint so formal you have to wear a coat and tie?


Let me digress for a moment. . .


One day Sandy and I were headed to Maine for vacation. On our way there we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. As we read through the menu, Sandy looked up and asked, "Do you like girls in bikinis?"

Immediately feeling defensive, I responded, "I would rather not answer that question."

"It's a simple yes or no question," She replied.

"Sandy, I am a good man, but I am a man!" I said.

Now there is a very puzzled look on Sandy's face. With just a touch of aggravation in her voice said, "Bill, what does that have to do with whether or not you like "grilled zucchini!? If you do, we can share a side dish?"

"O yes, I would love some grilled zucchini!"

Phew!


Back to the phone message. . .



"Sandy, will you listen to this message, and then call Becky, and with stealth and cunning find out more about The Spaghetti Club?"


Sandy called Becky, listened for a second, glanced at me with a look that said, "You idiot." They chatted for a few minutes, and Sandy hung up.

She turned to me and said, "It's not The Spaghetti Club!" It The Big Eddy Club!"

The Big Eddy Club is the most exclusive dining club in Columbus.

Dead pan, I looked at her and said, I think it is ridiculous to wear suit and tie to a hamburger joint!

For those of you who know me I promise I won't embarrass our gracious hosts, my wife, or myself. I have a friend who has dined at The Big Eddy Club on a number of occasions. Thursday night he gave me a crash course on etiquette among the rich and famous! Thanks my friend!

Update On Landon

Friends,

Landon continues to fight for her life. I want to pass on this e-mail from her parents. Thank you for fighting for her.

Bill



Dear friends,

Thank you so much for the prayers, calls, emails, support you have given us during this time. I will try to send out updates as we have progress.

Yesterday was absolutely the worse day of my life. She had extremely high blood pressure and heart rate due to the swelling in the brain. They gave her a wonderful drug that brought this down, but it was a long, horrible ordeal. They did not expect her to live through the day - but PRAISE GOD, she did!


Today she has had good vital signs, good urine, and has started breathing some on her own on the ventilator, though they are monitoring this very closely due to carbon dioxide. She has also been very sensitive to our touch and to sounds (heart rate/blood pressure raise/lower depending on the circumstance). The doctors say there is still very little brain activity and don't give a very positive outlook, but we keep praying and thank you for doing so also.

We have asked to possibly move her to a better equipped facility (our preference would be Cincinnati Children's hospital) but at this time they do not think she is stable enough to do so.


So please keep praying for her. Pray that her heart rate and blood pressure will remain stable. Pray that the brain will heal completely and that the swelling will stay down. Pray that her kidneys will continue to function properly. Pray that her breathing will become stronger. Pray that our doctors will see a miracle and believe that Jesus Christ is the great physician and healer, and learn to give patients hope. Pray that God will get all the glory in her healing and in this entire situation.

We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received from all over the world, so thank you for sharing this with your friends and family as well. We serve a big God and appreciate every prayer on our behalf.

Thanks again,

Karen and Ed Meece

Thursday, June 21, 2007

HIDA Scan

Sandy spent 3 hours in the Columbus Clinic this afternoon. If you have been following my posts you know that my bride has been pretty sick for over 6 weeks. Her doctors have been focused on the gallbladder as the possible cause of her pain that varies from chronic to acute. She has already had a battery of tests including blood tests, a CT scan, and an ultra-sound. The ultrasound showed no sign of gallstones.

The purpose of the HIDA Scan is to determine if the gallbladder is functioning properly. The symptoms are typically similar to gallstones. During the scan, radioactive isotopes are injected through a vein and tracked as they travel to the gallbladder. As the dye was injected, Sandy watched it course up the vein in her arm, through her heart, liver, and on to the gallbladder.

During the test a hormone was given that made the gall bladder respond like she had just eaten a big meal. As it began to empty she experienced intense pain in her abdomen and became nauseous. Once home she went directly to bed and slept.

On Monday, we should know the results of the scan, and Sandy has an appointment with her specialist. We are praying that the cause of her 6 plus week sickness will be pinpointed and addressed.

As I get ready to close this post Sandy is now sitting out on the patio with Josh and me. We are grateful for everyone's prayers and concern.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cornerstone Community Church

Bill and Sandy,

Your prayers are greatly appreciated.

God is beginning to build Cornerstone Community Church. This test of faith for us is the first block upon our Cornerstone, God's Son. He knows what is ahead of us in building this church and He solidified us, drew us closer to Him and to each other........all of us, those in Livingston and those praying for the Livingston team. This terrible strike against Landon, meant to scatter us, has only sent us racing toward Him and to huddle at His feet. Landon's illness has riveted the attention of all who know of it, believers and unbelievers. Undoubtedly, God will use all of this for His glory. As one pastor said, God is getting ready to do something big in that little town.

Would you consider using your blog to make others aware of the needs not only for the Meece family, but also for Cornerstone Church and what God is going to do there?

I suppose I have felt an affinity with you two because of our close proximity, in purpose as well as intended location. Please forgive any forwardness on my part,
I get rather intense about some things.

Sherry


Above is the e-mail I got from Sherry. As she said in the e-mail, we share an affinity. The affinity goes even deeper than Sherry realizes -- Sandy and I gave a lot of consideration to starting a church in Livingston. We talked to Craig and Pat Whitlock, who used to live and have a business in Livingston, about the city.

Truth is, the plan I shared with no one (except with Sandy and the Montana guys) was to start churches simultaneously in Bozeman and Livingston. A real possibility, because Compass will not necessarily meet on Sundays -- there is a large percentage of the population in Bozeman that works on Saturdays and Sundays -- do we just forget them, because they work on Sunday?

This a divine moment for the fledgling Cornerstone Community Church. As Sherry said, "This test of faith for us is the first block upon our Cornerstone, God's Son. He knows what is ahead of us in building this church and He solidified us, drew us closer to Him and to each other..."

It is obvious that this new church is a threat to the dark side, and the dark side never rolls over. It fights back! I wouldn't wish a test this severe on anyone, but it does tell me that God has great confidence in the integrity of this little community and its pastors.

Cornerstone's situation immediately reminded me of Jesus' word to the Church at Philadelphia in the Revelation: I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can shut. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me . . . because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing to come . . . Revelation 3:8,10

Mr. and Mrs. Meece and Landon. Our heart goes out to you and our prayers go up for you.

In the love of Christ,

Bill and Sandy, and hundreds of people you will never meet.

Landon Meece

Livingston, MT. is on the other side of the Bozeman Pass from Bozeman. Livingston has been the grip of the Evil One for a number of years. Every attempted church plant there has failed. Some of the church planters have even left amid embarrassing scandals.

Recently, two families -- the Meeces and Seddons -- have moved to Livingston to start a church. They have a great desire to restore the image of Christ’s church, begin a new work there, and see people come to Jesus. They are adventurers.

Two days ago the Evil One struck back against these couples' faith and obedience. The Meece's thirteen year old daughter, Landon, was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Hours later, the doctors told the parents that the child was brain dead. But the next day there was some sign of activity, and the parents were encouraged by a sliver of hope.

Two days later, the doctors contend that there is little hope for Landon -- the child will not likely survive. In spite of the roller coaster ride, Landon’s parents are asking that we pray for a miracle.

God is already at work sticking it to Satan. Once again, the Foul One miscalculated. This tragedy has brought the entire community of Livingston together in concern for this little girl and her family, and the brave family is praising God!

The family and church in Livingston asked me to put this on my blog, so that others can be aware of Landon’s need for our prayers. I will keep you posted through this site.

For those of you who know Sandy and me personally, we can assure you that Satan does not want any churches in Livingston or Bozeman. We have personally experienced an onslaught of oppression from many directions as we prepare to go to Bozeman. Please remember, God’s Will is not always a safe place, but it is always the right place,

Bill and Sandy

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Day Father Gave Us

Since God released me as His pastor for Morningside I have done what all pastors should do when its time to leave -- leave. We have had minimal contact with our former church, but because we have not yet left the area it seems to double the loneliness during our transition.

God chose yesterday as the day He would send extra blessings our way through some brothers and sisters in Christ we hardly know. Christ Community Church gave us 5 thousand dollars to support the church we will plant in Bozeman, Montana!

To say we are overwhelmed by their kindness is to understate how blessed we feel. We know their generosity is a "God thing." This church does not even belong to our "denomination," it is a relatively new church itself, and it is in the middle of a massive building project. After ten years of meeting in rented space they bought land and are in the process of developing it.

Also, even though we know many of the college students who attend Christ Community, we do not know 5 other people. Their Pastor expressed that as a church they simply believe in us, believe in what God is doing, and wanted to bless us.

After church Sandy and I went out to lunch with a couple we have known for less than a year. They do not attend our former church, and yesterday was the first time all of us have worshiped together. None of that mattered. The conversation was rich and flowed like we had grown up together. God knew the kind of fellowship we needed and provided it through this couple. We left refreshed.

In the afternoon, I talked to my dad. He and mom are doing better than good. They just seem to deepen their trust in God rather than bemoan their obstacles. Believe it or not -- Dad wants to canoe down the Penobscot when we get to Maine. Believe it or not -- Josh and I are going to take him. Heck, why not!

Last night we attended a house church. It is not formally organized as such, but the group has been meeting together for years. The bonds of love that hold them together are obvious. The evening started with fellowship, then a meal, then a Bible study, and ended with prayer. Before it was time to leave we were asked to tell them about Bozeman. They genuinely shared the excitement of our new adventure.


Finally, my son Josh and I sat in the back yard beneath the stars and talked from 10 until midnight. That, too, was God sent. Josh, like us, is struggling a little with the changes that our calling is requiring. I am so grateful that my son trusts me and still wants to spend time with dad.

The day Father gave us was a special gift.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Christ Community

This morning Sandy and I attended church at Christ Community Church. I am good friends with the pastor, who is also the founder of the decade-old church. Once again, we heard exceptional preaching and sensed God's presence through all the elements that made up the corporate worship.

The message God gave Keith revolved around living in the larger story -- HIStory. For Sandy and me the message was timely, and we knew that we had gathered with an authentic people of God. Both of us felt very much at home in the modest sanctuary that was once a car dealership.

With the exception of attending First Baptist in Opelika we have been attending start-up churches. Each experience has been like a refresher course in home missions. Soon, we will be in Montana starting the first of what we hope will be many church plants. These types of settings find us soaking up the atmosphere like sponges.

Sandy is still not well, but we may have made a connection today to get her into one of the best specialists in the area. Right now she is in taking a nap. I am going to a house church tonight, and my bride will go with me if she has enough energy.

If all goes well we will be in Maine sometime after the 25th of June. Justin and Erika are going to meet us there. We are looking forward to gathering with our entire family.

I hope all our dads are having a wonderful Father's Day. I am going to call my dad in just a few minutes.

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill and Sandy

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Good Kings

A growing population is a king's glory; a dwindling nation is his doom. Proverbs 14:28

Most of us have never been governed by a monarchy such as the Proverb suggests. In most instances, even today, wherever there is a king or queen, he or she is usually a figurehead with no real power to govern.

But all of us depend upon leadership. Where there is no leadership the outlook is not good. Expect morale to decline, growth to desist, and doom to depress, says the wise sage.

It is interesting that he does not mention an atmosphere boiling with chaos and violence. No, with the authority befitting a king, he matter-of-factly stated a simple digression. He never qualified his statement by saying, "This is what could or might happen if there is no leadership." Rather, he declares the final end is inevitable: morale will decline, growth will desist, and doom will depress.

It's plain to see what Solomon had in mind; the glory he spoke of was not an obese ego or a hoarding of personal clout. No, Israel's king knew that godly leadership is always about influencing an arena much larger than self.

Starting now, we need good kings. Not despots, autocrats, or dictators, but good kings. According to God's Word, good kings (leaders) are a blessing to organized communities. They bring with them the capacity to raise the glory to God and the growth of His purposes.

As you read this post, you may be asking yourself if you are a "good king" in your domain. Perhaps we can boil it all down to an "I Will Be A Good King" mission statement:

I have a glory God bestowed upon me, and in whatever capacity God calls me to lea, I will seek to build the morale of others around me. For those who legitimately need me, I will avoid demoralizing them by not stepping up or by overstepping the boundaries of authority God has given me.

Wherever I am called upon to lead, I will strive to cultivate a spiritual environment that encourages personal and community growth.

I will live with the expectation that by drawing on the life of Christ in me, the domain of my influence for God's glory and His kingdom's growth will always be expanding.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Last Night In Paradise

Tomorrow we will make our way back to Columbus, GA. Our time here in Florida has been filled with serendipitous events. We have seen giant manta rays, sharks, dolphins, and lady fish in schools of hundreds boiling on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

We have basked in the sun in near perfect weather -- I am slightly tanned, but Sandy is a testimony to her Native American blood. Every night I have sat on the beach listening to the surf and gazing at millions of stars. We have enjoyed our time in paradise.

Much of the time I have been preoccupied with thoughts of church planting in Bozeman, Montana. I must confess, there are times when we feel we have bitten off more than we can chew! Starting a church from the ground up is a bit of a challenge! It must be a work with deep dependence upon God. Human calculation, effort, and good intentions will not carry the day. We have been drilling deep into our total view of
God.

Many times a day we continue to pray that others will catch God's vision for a harvest field like Bozeman and find a way to join us in the Adventure. We are grateful that so many godly people are praying for us and the people of Bozeman.

Also . . .

Tomorrow night I will be at a young couple's wedding rehearsal. On Saturday evening the rehearsing is over, and, by the power vested in me as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ -- before a gathering of Trevor and Katie's family, friends, and witnesses -- they will make a covenant of faithful love for one another for as long as they both shall live. I will pronounce them man and wife, and before God's eyes, the two will become inseparably one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When All Is As It Should Be

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making all things new!” So he took me in the spirit to a great high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God . . . No temple could be seen in the holy city, for the Lord God Almighty and the lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the Glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is the light. –The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Yesterday afternoon we had a window-rattling thunderstorm. Jagged flashes squirted out of black clouds as they collided all around us. Hours later, the storm had taken its fury elsewhere. Once again the stars and planets made an encore appearance on their blackened stage.

At 2 a.m. I decided I had had enough sleep and quietly descended the stairs toward the surf -- the entire beach was mine!

I sat under the dim light of the moon, stars, and a couple of the brighter planets. It seemed all was as it should be: The temperature was perfect; the westerly winds massaged my face; and the syncopated surf was the percussion for nature's symphony.

It was heavenly. Other worldly.

The Scriptures above came to mind, in particular the phrase, the city has no need of sun or moon, for the Glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is the light. Those words seemed to contradict the worshipful moment I was enjoying. At 2 in the morning I found myself asking, "Will there be no celestial lights and sounds! Will I be disappointed with eternity?"

As I began to think along those lines I thought about what I knew for sure: God himself spoke the the moon, stars, and planets into existence; His first bride and groom sat, just like I did (but I had clothes on), under the magnificence of the night sky; that same couple, without a doubt, stared in wonder at the expanse of deep space; they marveled at the genius of their Creator.

No, there is not a skinny chance that any of God's redeemed will be disappointed with what awaits when time shall be no more. True, just as the Revelation tells us, And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the Glory of God illuminates the city, all else will pale in brilliance and beauty when compared to God and the Lamb.

But there is a great difference between necessary and absent! God has promised that all the beauty of this world will one day be renewed and perfected -- but never eliminated. Look I am making all things new! One day all will be as it should be -- every day -- every night!

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Little Wordsworth

We all have happy memories of the godly . . . good people are guided by their honesty. A Proverb of Solomon

I enjoy William Wordsworth's poetry. This morning I read some of his verses that pulled together the characteristics of his good friend Robert Jones -- pretty insightful.

I marvel how Nature could ever find space
For so many strange contrasts in one human face:

There's thought and no thought, and there's paleness and bloom
And bustle and sluggishness, pleasure and gloom

There's weakness, and strength both redundant and vain;
Such strength as, if ever affliction and pain

Could pierce through a temper that's soft to decease,
Would be rational peace -- a philosopher's ease.

There's indifference, alike when he fails or succeeds,
And attention full ten times as much as there needs;

Pride where there's no envy, there's so much joy;
And mildness and spirit both forward and coy.

There's freedom, and sometimes a diffident stare
of shame scarcely seeming to know that she's there,

There's virtue, the title, the title it surely may claim,
Yet wants heaven knows what to be worthy the name.

This picture from nature may seem to depart,
Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart;

And I for five centuries right gladly would be
Such an odd such a kind happy creature as he.

Seas, Meet the Shores

We are comfortably perched on the second story of a beach house that overlooks the gulf. Stretching out before me are emerald green waters. The sea cannot be more than one hundred yards away, and the rhythmic sound of the surf, gently rolling toward the powdery white beaches, provides soothing music.

Have I told you this place is beautiful?

A few minutes ago twenty or thirty people were lounging under awnings, or sprawled out on the sand staring up at the sky. Over the last 30 minutes most of the sun worshipers have slowly deserted the hazy, humid coastline for air-conditioned condos. A few kids remain splashing in and out of the edges of the ocean.

About 3 years ago, Sandy and I spent a few days here, and I remember standing on the balcony and watching a pod of dolphins cruising by looking for something to eat. We are going to go to a little pasta joint called Angelina's for dinner. Later on, just before the sun goes to bed, we will go for a long walk on the beach.

The mornings are spectacular. Often, you can see the sun rising and the moon setting at the same time. Each new dawn greets you with a fresh breeze, and the faint smell of salt water reminds you that you are in a mariner’s setting. Tomorrow, my bride and I will do lots of beach combing, and soak in all the sunshine we can stand.

Also . . .

Sandy continues to experience waves of sickness; one yesterday and another after dinner. I can tell when she is getting sick without her saying so. She turns ashen, gets really weak, and immediately needs a nap. Thankfully, the doctors have ruled out cancer, or any of the life threatening deceases. More tests are scheduled in a few days, and we are praying that the cause will be pinpointed.

Both of us are incredibly grateful that some friends provided this patch of paradise for our use. Sandy especially enjoys the ocean and wants to enjoy it. Even though the landscape of Montana is some of the most beautiful on earth my bride is going to miss the vistas of the seas meeting the shores.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Trying To Get There


In order to arrive at what you are not
-- You must go through the way in which you are not. T. S. Eliot

I don't consider myself to have arrived . . . but I press on. Saint Paul's letter to the Church at Philippi

I am always heartened when I come across these kinds of encouragements to be an adventurer, because I sometimes begin to believe that a risk (faith) free life would be easier. But thankfully, like T. S. Eliot and Paul, I concluded long ago that we were never meant to be satisfied with our present state. There is always this inner drive telling us, "You are not all you can be, but will you dare the path that will make you more than you are!"

Before I go any further I would like to clarify one thing: I am not talking about an insatiable drive fueled by the need to prove your self-worth. Pursuits energized by that kind of motivation will lead to endless frustration.

No, I am talking about a self-awareness (that is birthed when you become God-aware) that you are not all that you can be. And that even though you live with the assurance that God loves you as you are, he has also put this desire in you to go on an adventure that will make you more than you are.

Paul said he lived with an awareness that he had not arrived. He even said that he had to make a decision to press forward to become more than he presently was. T. S. Eliot poetically softened Paul's words, but he said the same thing. If you want that God given desire to be more than you are fulfilled -- you must press on down a path. The very nature of the journey will require you to become something you presently aren't.

Paul, by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and Eliot, by an innate awareness that is also God given, tell us something important about ourselves: There is more to us than meets the eye, but we must be willing to accept the conditions that will make the invisible -- visible.

The conditions always require us to go through the way in which we are not.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Open House

Much of the last two days has been spent rearranging the interior of our home. Our garage is filling up with boxes and unnecessary furniture. Soon, the Salvation Army will be getting a sizable donation from our excess. This move has caused us to reevaluate the difference between our needs and our wants. It is interesting to see that things once perceived as needed are no longer wanted!

Tomorrow, our real estate agent is having an open house from 11:30-1:00 for other agents. We are hopeful that an offer will be coming our way in the next few weeks. At this time, we feel we need to sell our home before moving to Bozeman. As anxious as we are to get going we have learned to trust God's timing.

Also . . .

Sandy began getting very sick again last night. We spent several hours today with a doctor getting more blood tests. She is scheduled for an ultra sound on Thursday morning with other tests to follow. Please continue to pray for her; she is weak and has a lot of pain in her abdomen. It is difficult for her to stay down and get the rest she needs when there is so much to do.

We have been contacted by several people we have never met who are moving to the Bozeman area. I also had breakfast this morning with a man who is praying about joining the adventure in MT. It is interesting to see who God is adding to Compass Church before it is even officially organized!

E.T.A.

Bill and Sandy

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Leadership And Management

Teach these things, and insist that everyone learn them. Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:11-12

Last night the Chinese students I have been mentoring graduated from Beacon University. Two of them graduated Magna Cum Laude; two Summa Cum Laude! China is in the middle of an historic transition from an agrarian society to an industrial one, and the country is tapping into the business savvy of the U.S. Knowing this, a group of Christians caught the vision to bring Chinese students here, and provide them with solid, ethical, and advanced business education. Each of the students will return to their homeland and eventually teach on the university level.

Spiritually, the students are babes in Christ. Even so, their lives reflect the exhortation that Paul gave young Timothy in the verse quoted. Their commitment to Christ is exemplary, they love Christ and his people, they are faithful to the Truth they have received, and they seek to keep themselves pure.

also . . .

On Monday night they are coming over to our house for dinner, and a bible study on Jesus' title -- the Resurrection. It is hard for us to conceive a time that an empty tomb, not an empty cross, was the most important icon of the church. If you were to reread the New Testament and take note of every presentation of the gospel you will see that the resurrection and ascension of our Savior is always the main focus. Soon the students will return to Asia where they will be working out their salvation without the immediate support of so many here that love them. There is no way I could exaggerate how important it is that they are grounded in the relevance of living moment to moment in the power of their new resurrection life.

Like Timothy, they will soon be young believers in the midst of a spiritually dark world where many will despise the One who saved them. Pray for them. Pray that they will grow strong, remain strong, and never believe they are anything less than all they are in Christ!